My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Branching Out

Our favorite hiking woods are closed, indefinitely! It saddens my heart to think that we may not be able to hike there again... it has been our family's special place since we moved to Minnesota. I wrote about the woods hereherehere, and here, but it looks as if those memories might have to be sufficient. The boys still point every time we pass by and ask, "Is it still closed?" Yes... it's still closed. And it may not open again.

We didn't do much hiking this summer... Paul was very busy at work and we did a lot of traveling. Plus, fall has always been our favorite time for getting out into the woods. So I didn't miss the Hiking Woods too much until we decided to go for a hike last week. "You mean, we have to try something new?" I thought. Adventurers that we are, we set out to see about a place called Crosby Farm in St. Paul. Not as close as our hiking woods, but still very convenient.

And friends... I was blown away. I felt like we were in an enchanted forest! After they moved beyond the fact that there were no horses, cows and pigs at Crosby Farm ("Then why is it called a farm??"), the boys and their imaginations took flight. They became jungle explorers, knights on horses, beachcombers. They were eaten by a massive tiger, they built a home in a hollow tree, they discovered the "five wonders of Crosby Park" (named by Max). When it started getting cold, we headed back toward the parking lot for some hot chocolate.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but should "our" hiking woods never reopen, perhaps I would be satisfied to adopt Crosby Farm as our new special place.

"Someone carved a face on this log!"

Who knew all we needed to get a great smile was to throw a handful of leaves on Dad?
Look at that handsome man
The tree house

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Up the Hill

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine compared her laundry battle to that of Sisyphus and his boulder. No matter how hard she worked, she still felt as if she had accomplished nothing at the end of the day. At the time, I giggled and moved on; it was a clever analogy but it didn't hit home in my experience. I had one child, and while I've never loved laundry, the pile that three people can make is generally pretty manageable.

I haven't thought about Sisyphus in years. But recently Max discovered the name in some book or song and was curious about it. We researched the Greek myth and read the story together. This was about a week ago, and since then Max has illustrated the entire story, acted it out, and brought it up in conversation nearly every day.

Two days ago, I was engaging in my bad habit of folding clothes and leaving them in piles on the stairs to bring up later. This is a terrible idea; the folded clothes have a tendency to sit untouched for days, and as new clothes get clean the piles begin to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

And then the children happen. One time it's a careless kindergartner who bumps a rickety pile and launches it into the air. The next it's a toddler who finds joy in carefully unfolding and throwing every article of clothing into a pile on the landing. Or maybe it's just a mom hurriedly searching for a clean pair of underwear at the bottom of a stack who sends the whole thing tumbling down.

Anyways, the clothes were folded and I walked away. The toddler came and undid my work, again. I sat down on the landing, amid a huge pile of newly-unfolded clean clothes and looked up the stairs. Suddenly, I understood what it means to feel like Sisyphus.

At least he's got a good attitude about it

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Apples of My Eye


The boys have been talking about apple picking for a full year without pause. Ever since we went last year, it has come up at least once a week... and finally the day arrived! We went apple picking at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan, MN, and I would highly recommend this orchard to everyone. It had everything we wanted (tractor-pulled wagon, you-pick apples, super affordable and gorgeous pumpkins) and loads of things we didn't know we needed (a sunflower maze, kiddie train, petting zoo, live music with Cactus Willie) that were offered free of charge. It was large and well-run, but it still had the feel of a family-owned orchard. 

Max spent most of the day up in the trees helping Paul find the very best apples, Lucian found sticks and brandished them like swords as we hiked through the apple tree jungle, and Audrey got her paws on an apple and wouldn't put it down. The kids were all thrilled to have my mom join us for the day, and we ended up being there for almost four hours. They had wagons sitting around the grounds for anyone to use as needed, so we claimed two of them for the later part of the day as little legs started getting tired. (Remind me to add a wagon to my Christmas list... SO awesome!) The kids got pulled from the pumpkins to the petting zoo to the old tractors to the playground, munching apples all the while.

I mentioned to my mom that sometimes the best part of outings with children is the memories, because the actual event can be super stressful. Not so with this orchard; it was a child's dream come true. No hushing, no corralling, they were free to roam and explore, while we were free to relax and enjoy. And we did!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Oh child. Oh my dear, dear child. What am I going to do with you? Your new-found mission in life is to reach the altar during Mass, and when you are prevented from accomplishing your goal, you kick up a fuss to rival anything I've yet seen from one of my children. You want what you want when you want it, and you want the world to know! You are sassy, spunky, bossy, crazy; if you're not in a good mood, everyone pays for it. I think I'm losing my hearing from your screams in close quarters during car trips. But when you're on, you can charm the socks off of anyone who looks your way. You've got the Miss America wave down pat, and your new favorite game of "Where's Audrey's Nose" is a winner in any crowd.

Being with you is sometimes exhausting, because your energy is boundless. If you get an idea in your head, there is no stopping you. Trying to do an art project on the table yesterday nearly left me in tears because you decided you had to be on top of the table, but none of the art supplies were allowed to be there with you! So we abandoned the project in piles on the dining room floor and went outside to let you run off some energy. Hopefully we'll return to it soon when you are sleeping (the only time you sit still).

Darling girl, you drive me up a wall when you insist on playing the piano with your feet; the keyboard is not a dance floor! Your name, Audrey Therese, is so sweet and calm, it sometimes doesn't seem to suit you. It's a good thing St. Audrey had such an awesome full name... when you are on a rampage, or getting into something you shouldn't, Daddy has taken to calling you Ethel (to Lucian you are "Effo"). I bet by the time you turn two, you'll have heard it so often you will think it's your real name!

Honey, feel free to slow down a little any day now. I don't know how much longer I can keep up! But please don't ever lose that spunk and spirit. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How About a Bedtime Snack?

What happens when the man of the house has a hankering for monster cookies at 7:00 pm? This!

And boy were they delicious.

The boys cleaned up their toys in record time to ensure that they could have a cookie fresh out of the oven. Seriously, I blinked and the living room was spotless! And then my dear husband may have mentioned that there could be more cookies for breakfast... well, at least they had oatmeal in them, right??

It's been awhile since I've cooked with the kids. Actually, I can pinpoint it to when Audrey learned how to crawl onto the table. Now, rather than the dining room table being a safe zone, it is more like a magnet. ("'Oh, they put something on the table! They must not want me to have it... onward and upward!")

But maybe I'll try again soon during nap time, it is apple season after all... so many delicious options, where to begin?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Time for School!

Max, Kindergarten (5 years old)
Lucian, Preschool (3 years old)
A month into the school year, and I'm finally getting around to posting about our experience so far! It was a crazy, exciting September, but things have finally settled down around here. Our school year started as soon as we got back from Ely, and we kicked it off with a pizza party and ice cream with Grandma and Grandpa Radecki and Uncle Ben. For the second year, the kids each received a book as a start-of-school gift... check out what we chose for Max (I'm a sucker for anything by Don and Audrey Wood), Lucian (Currently, his life's goal is to be a garbage man) and Audrey (Did I say I love Don and Audrey Wood?)

The morning after our pizza party, the kids woke to crowns and wrapped-up school supplies. It's amazing how exciting a package of washable markers is if it's wrapped in colorful paper! Then I unveiled our motto and patron saint for the year. After lots of thought and prayer, I decided on this for our motto:

"I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God."

It is a quote by our patron saint of the year, Dominic Savio. He was a student of St. John Bosco, and he was well known for being compassionate, charitable, kind and virtuous even as a young schoolboy. What better example for our family as we begin our journey into the world of schooling? Max took a great interest in him right away, and I look forward to learning more about him as the year goes on.

So far, I love our school time together! It seems that our best days are the ones where we spend the entire morning at the kitchen table. Lucian comes and goes, Audrey is constantly underfoot unless she's napping, and Max is soaking up information like a sponge. I love teaching my children, but most of all I love learning with them!