My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Invisible Child

I took this photo to prove that I have a photo of Edith
Oh Edie Clare, you poor gal. Everyone said it would be true, but I didn't realize how true until now. We have NO PICTURES of you. Now please understand, I love you just as much as I love the other kids, and I have been trying to right this wrong, but I just plain don't pick up my camera as much as I used to! And when I do, it's usually when we are out doing something fun and you're stuck in the baby carrier. I have pictures of the back of your head, yes, proof that you were there... does that count for anything?

When Max was a baby, we would literally set up cute baby shots around our apartment. We would pick the right blanket, the right pose, the right stuffed animal and snap away. And every moment was one that needed to be captured. "Oh, he pulled all the books off of the bookshelf? Cute!" (snap) "He's laying so nicely on his changing table!" (snap) "It's his three-and-a-half-month birthday!" (snap)

With each child it has gotten progressively worse, but I think it took a sharp dive with number four. Personally, I blame Audrey. She is a toddler among toddlers with a strooooong personality. In the time it would take to get up and get the camera, it's likely my adorable smiling baby would be smooshed or smothered in some way and reduced to tears. So I don't get up, and I don't get the camera. I do have some pictures on my phone, but far too often it's on the other side of the couch... and that's just way too far.

Edith, I promise you I will do my best to make a point to put you front-and-center in the camera lens whenever I have it in hand. But I'm sorry my dear, for every photo of your childhood, there will be dozens, maybe hundreds, more of your big siblings. Promise me you'll keep smiling anyways, ok?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Christmas Lodge

Taking a step back to before Christmas, I want to tell you about a new (hopefully) annual tradition that was begun on my mom's side of the family this year. My grandparents had the idea of renting out a lodge for an overnight, so we found ourselves at the Prior Lake Horse and Hunt Club's hunting lodge. It was a gorgeous, spacious log cabin with a fireplace, kitchen, dining area and living room, four bedrooms downstairs and a bunk-style bedroom upstairs. I was so glad to have the option to stay overnight; that way, we didn't have to factor in bedtime, we could stay up and party after the kids were all tucked in! Stellar!

When we arrived, we were greeted at the door by the two cutest elves I've ever seen:

They welcomed us in and set the kids up with stuff to do right away. Paul set to work on his mulled wine and I was handed a bloody mary, compliments of my brother. Good start to the night! Then more people arrived: my brother and his family, followed by aunts and uncles and cousins, and soon the place was packed! We feasted on chili and all the fixings, ate way too many Christmas cookies, and my uncle set up a Hot Wheels track for the kids upstairs that kept them entertained for quite awhile. Lucian had brought his chess board along (of course) and challenged anyone he could find.

There were presents for the great-grandkids... light sabers and masks for the boys! They were in heaven!

Audrey got a set of magnetic robots. She adored them! She has this thing with robots... I'm not sure where it started, but I'll take that over Barbies any day.

And Edith got a Raggedy Ann doll, compliments of my grandpa who says that every little girl needs to own a Raggedy Ann doll. Audrey got one on her first birthday, but promptly claimed Edith's as her own until her baby sister is old enough to fight her for it.

We sang Christmas carols... I tell you, it was like a Hallmark movie. Max performed "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", the Bruce Springsteen version, and my cousin Anna sang Eidelweiss with my dad. She's got a b-e-a-utiful voice! I joined her to sing Silent Night, and my grandma informed my mom that she's requesting it again next year. I'd be glad to, it was awesome singing with my cousin!

My uncle read the kids a story, then we played some party games. Pictionary was a hit with the kids, although they had trouble waiting their turn. When it was Audrey's turn, she just got up and drew scribbles until someone guessed a word that sounded good to her. "Yeah! It is a giraffe!"


The kids got to bed pretty late, but Lucian and Audrey fell asleep as soon as they were tucked in. Max, on the other hand, made several appearances. He didn't want to miss out on the action. During one game, someone had to sing the song from the Lego movie. When they began, we suddenly heard from up in the loft, "Everything is awesoooooome!" He had been eavesdropping and couldn't resist joining in. After awhile, my dad grabbed a spot with him on the landing overlooking the living room until he had seen enough to be satisfied.

I am looking forward to the chance to celebrate with everyone again next year! It was a super fun time, and I know the kids will be glad to go back!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

And Then I Was Thirty

People have been asking me how I feel about being 30. My answer to everyone has been, "I have four kids! It's about time I got out of my 20's!" But seriously, I am very much ready for this next decade. I think back on how much has changed in the past ten years, from college to summer camp to meeting the man of my dreams and getting married to embarking on this crazy thing called motherhood. When I look at the next ten years I am a little relieved to know, at least in part, what's in store. The specifics, who knows? But my life has begun to take on some sense of routine, of predictability, and I'm all for that. I'm getting a handle on motherhood, and that feels good.

 Sure it's been messy sometimes

It's been crazy

It's been crowded

But those sweet, adoring glances make me glad that I have a lap full of kids.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Note: Poor baby Edith was sound asleep during this photo shoot. I wish she had been there, but I didn't have the heart to wake her! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Joy to the World

When we travel to visit Paul's family, we make it count. 600 miles both ways with four kids means we want to spend a good amount of time there, so Paul took off work from Christmas Eve through my birthday (January 2). It was awesome. 

All but the drive, of course. We ran into weather both ways, tacking on a couple of extra hours of travel time, but when we finally pulled into town in the wee hour of Christmas Eve morning, the tough drive was soon out of mind. We were greeted with smiles and hugs and mulled wine, just what we needed. The kids were tucked into bed and were all asleep before their heads hit the pillow. All, that is, except for Audrey.

Audrey got the privilege of sharing a bed with Auntie Megan, who told us the next morning that the little girl had some trouble falling asleep. Things were just too exciting! Megan was almost asleep when she felt something falling on her face... it turns out Audrey was picking pieces of a granola bar off of her blankie and dropping them on her auntie. I mean, where else would she put them?

On Christmas Eve we celebrated with Paul's dad's side of the family, then we took all the kids to "midnight" Mass at 10:00. I love that Mass, the candles and the darkness and the feeling of anticipation. It is also the Mass we attended Christmas Eve seven years ago... when I walked out after Communion and went right over to the hospital to have a baby! A baby who is SEVEN now!

Christmas day was a flurry of gift opening and excitement. Cooking tools and a checkers board for Lucian my kitchen helper, Legos for Max (he wanted nothing else), and a doll for Audrey. Paul's parents got me a sewing box, which I had asked for but forgotten about, so it was a wonderful surprise! I have wanted to start sewing more, but it was hard to motivate myself when all I had to work with was a tiny travel sewing kit. We'll see how far my intentions take me.

Christmas dinner was Paul Sr.'s incomparable prime rib. 'Nuff said. You should all be jealous.

In the evening we celebrated Max's birthday (more Legos, a cake with Lego candles, and some sweet science kits) and I began to try to come to terms with the fact that I have a seven year old. I'm still working on it.

The day after Christmas, Paul and I woke to find Lucian upstairs making breakfast with Grandma, and Max putting together his newest Lego set with Grandpa. If there's one Christmas present I forgot to say thank you for, it's the fact that Paul's parents got up with the kids every day while we were there. Wow. And yes, the transition back to home has been just a tad tough for me... morning and I have never been friends. So the gift of a little extra sleep was amazing!

Megan had to head out on Saturday to be with Kelley for her birthday in Massachusetts, so we said our goodbyes then. But we thankfully had a whole week to go with the rest of the family! There were cards to play, wine to drink, hills to sled, and much more fun to have. The boys were amazing at entertaining themselves much of the time so we could sit around the table in our pajamas for hours drinking coffee.

But when the kids did need some extra attention, Uncle Liam was there to play! He and Patrick took the kids sledding, he played hide and seek with them, and I don't know what else they did... but the kids loved it! And they love him! What a blessing to have him around.

Another great blessing of the trip was the chance to catch up with some of my old friends from Rapid City. We visited my friend Bridget for her daughter's second birthday, and the three families who gathered (fifteen children combined!) had a great time together. The kids got along great, I wish it could happen more often.

Then for my birthday gift, the six of us went out for dinner sans children to my favorite Black Hills restaurant, the Alpine Inn. This place offers two choices for dinner, 6 or 9 ounce filet mignon, but has a dessert menu that's two pages long. My kinda joint! It was great to chat and catch up with friends who I hadn't seen in over a year. Let's hope it's not that long until next time!

Of course, the week flew by, then it was suddenly my birthday and the day before we left. Maureen cooked my request- country fried steak- for dinner, while Paul made creme brulee from scratch. Everything was deeee-licious! I will not admit to having three-and-a-half servings of dessert...

The next morning began our return trip. I'm not ashamed to say the kids watched movies for the entire 9 hours. We rarely let that happen, but sometimes for Mommy's sanity it has to be that way. In spite of some crazy weather we made fairly good time, and although they were sad to leave, the kids were happy to see their own beds again. All but Max; he'd be a nomad if given the option, but only if he could take all his legos with him.

And now we're home. It's good to be home, but it's hard to be far from family. I hope we will make it back soon! Merry Christmas everyone!