My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Book Club Game

The boys have taken to playing "The Book Club Game" around the house. It looks something like this: Lucian finds one of my purses, fills it with books and announces, "Goodbye Louie, see you later! I'm going to Book Club." He walks to the landing and unpacks his books, then Max joins him and they page through their books until Book Club ends. Lucian puts his books back in his purse and comes to the living room. "Hi Louie, I'm back! I missed you so much!"

I realized they play this game whenever I leave my purse laying around, most likely because the few times that I leave the house without them (i.e. without a diaper bag) and with a purse are to go grocery shopping and to book club. Grocery shopping they have experience with, so there's not much mystery there. Book club, on the other hand, is an enigma. All they know is that Mommy leaves after dinner with a book (and sometimes a treat) in tow, and they don't see her til the next morning. What is this mysterious thing, "book club"?

They ask to come with me every time. I began by saying that it was only for girls (that's why Audrey can come) but Max started making a wig out of paper. I didn't want to get into why that did not make him a girl, so I changed tactics- only for moms and babies. "Waaah! Waaah! I'm a baby!" became the resounding refrain. Ok, never mind. So I told them it wouldn't be much fun for them, we just sit around talking about books we have read. That still wasn't enough to dissuade them, but it did give them enough information to form their own make-believe game about the wonderful, secretive place that takes Mommy away from them twice a month.

As I was writing this, Lucian poked his head into the computer room, purse around his neck. "Mom, I'm going to book club. Book club is in here today." He sat down on the floor, emptied "his" purse, and began to page through Doggies, by Sandra Boynton. What do you think, book club ladies, should that be next on our list? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Hundred!

Max has shown an increased interest in numbers lately, especially in the context of money. He was asking me a lot about pennies, so I told him that 100 pennies equals one dollar. "That's a lot of pennies!" Then he asked if we could start a penny collection.

We searched the house, we asked Dad and Megan, and over the next week we collected 100 pennies in a jar. "But what would be really cool would be to put them in a line!" he decided. So I told him that I would buy some masking tape and we could make a penny line. Poor Max, he asked me every day for at least a week if I had bought any masking tape, but alas Mommy kept forgetting. 

Finally the big day arrived. I had remembered to grab the tape at my latest Target run, and we counted out all of the pennies into a pile. We stretched the tape out on the table and began to line up our pennies, drawing a line with marker after each group of 10. 

When the line was complete, we laid it out on the floor so we could see how long it was. He got to jump to see how far down the line he could reach, and we hung up the line on the wall to find out if it was taller than him (it was!)

In the following days, we repeated the project with dimes, nickels and quarters, but I think that pennies were his favorite. I mean, come on- it only takes four quarters to make a dollar. How boring is that? What can you do with a tape line of four quarters? One hundred is much more fun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our Dear Pope Francis

He stole my heart from the first moment I heard his voice! I cannot wait to get to know this humble, holy man.

Both of the previous two popes have touched my life in a different way, and I think the same can be said of their impact on the world. They were called into service by God to be what the Church needed them to be. And now it looks like the Church needs a champion for the poor, a true "shoe leather evangelist" who is, at the same time, steadfast in orthodoxy.

Pope Francis bows his head and asks for our prayers
We were invited to an impromptu "Pope Party" last night, complete with Italian pizza and Argentinian wine, to celebrate this new chapter in Church history. I cannot think of a better way to have spent the evening, surrounded by my family and close friends... and our combined 18 children (plus 2 on the way). It was a night filled to the brim with joy, because how can this be anything other than a joyful occasion? We have a new Papa! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Read to me

A couple of years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a bookmark that contained the following poem:

Reading Mother, by Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.

One thing that I most want my children to inherit from me is a love of reading. This poem applies to my life growing up- I remember my dad reading Les Miserables to me as a bedtime story when I was a kid, and my family can all attest to the fact that I was rarely without a book in hand. I love the way this poem captures the excitement and adventure that can be found in the pages of a good book, and I love that the author gives credit to his mother for forming his love of reading.

Our home is a place where books are always accessible. And don't tell my kids this (because they might abuse the information) but I will rarely say no if they approach me with a book in hand. "Please read this to me!" is a common refrain throughout the day. We generally have at least 25 library books scattered around the house, but there are also the favorites that we own and continually revisit, namely Winnie the Pooh, anything by Dr. Seuss or Mo Willems, and a whole pile of others.

Max was born a die-hard book lover. The instant he hears a book being read aloud- whether by his mom at home or a complete stranger at the library- he will drop whatever he is doing and worm his way close to the reader to listen in. He recently listened to his dad read three full pages of The Nicomachean Ethics, a super dense philosophical text, before Paul finally convinced him that he might rather hear something else. This kid would listen to the telephone book being read aloud, I swear.

Lucian is coming around to books, in part because we have started to make a concerted effort to read stories that are at his comprehension level. It took me awhile to discover that if it is not interesting, he will not stay to listen. The Hobbit, Max's latest bedtime story, holds Louie's interest for about a paragraph. But he will bring me a whole stack of his own favorites and soak up every word.

When I recently caught the boys in the guest room reading on their own, it made my heart leap a little. Books were such an integral part in forming me as a child, and they continue to form me today. I am so glad that I see the beginnings of two young book lovers in my house.

We try to introduce our kids to good literature, and we have discovered a few lists that we keep returning to for new ideas. Our favorites are the Thomas Jefferson Education family reading list and their classics for young readers, and I also like to browse Charlotte Mason's Bookfinder, where you can search by title, author, or keyword to find great picture books for all ages. The Caldecott Medal Winners are always good to check too. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hope on the Web

My friend John approached me recently to see if I would like to write for his new blog, Man Fully Alive. The title is taken from a quote by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, "The glory of God is man fully alive." In a time when we are surrounded by division, despair and pessimism, the mission of this site is "to seek out signs of hope in human life and share them with the world". Too much of what we find on the internet drags us down, so John's goal is to have a place that people can go for a breath of fresh air. We write about things that give us hope- both in the Church and in the culture at large. Because, believe it or not, there is a lot to be hopeful about!

So if, in all of your plentiful spare time, you'd like to read more of what I have to say, check out the Man Fully Alive website. I write every Wednesday, and John posts several times each week. He actually knows what's going on in the world, while I mainly ramble about what's going on in my head, but I'd say there's something there for everyone. So check it out! Follow us! Be hopeful!

Good St. Irenaeus

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Baby Love

"The cutest babyintheworld. Is. Audrey, Therese!"

"Audreyisthecuteeeeeest... babyintheworld!"

While I'm inclined to agree with Max, I'm not as musical in my assertion that my daughter is, in fact, the cutest baby in the world. Max is physically unable to pass by his sister without singing one of the above songs or squeezing her cheeks and saying "Oh she's just the boochiest, goochiest, goojy boojy baby!" I promise you that I have never used the word boochy as an adjective... or at all, for that matter. So I'm not sure where he picked up those oogly boogly smooshy booshy baby words that he uses on Audrey. It kinda drives me crazy, but I guess if I didn't have twenty-some years of practicing my self-control, I might also be unable to stop myself from smooshing her oochy woochy face.

Today the boys ran back and forth from kitchen table to living room couch singing songs to Princess Audrey about how cute she was, and she was soaking up every word! If I ever had any fears for her future self-esteem, I no longer do. Her brothers (at least for now) think that she is the greatest thing ever to happen in all of history, and she's just so darn cute they don't know what to do with themselves!

Cherish these moments, girlie, for there may come a day that (gasp!) they think you're annoying. But even if they say they don't want you around someday, I know that in their hearts you'll always be soooooo goochy boochy boogly boo.