My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Saturday, November 14, 2015

One Room Schoolhouse

When I first stepped foot into what would become our new home, I immediately fell in love with the huge, bright, wide-open room behind the garage. I instantly dubbed it the "school room" before we even knew if we would put an offer on the property. An entire wall of windows opposite a full blank wall just bursting with possibilities, four built-in bookshelves and an opening directly into the kitchen... the purpose of the room was so clear to me it was almost humorous!

Flash forward a few months, and we are now settled into that house and are slowly making it our own. The room I claimed for our school room is becoming what I envisioned that very first day. We set up our computer in one corner, a perfect central location for use by everyone in the family. We found a perfect table to put in the middle of the room: used and slightly battered, with a shiny lacquered top for easy cleaning. The speckled carpet hides everything. The bookshelves are bursting with all of our children's books, so many of which were packed away or inaccessibly high in our old house due to lack of shelf space. I even have shelves left for display! I bought an old globe for $5 at Goodwill (I have a total soft spot for globes) and added it to a shelf with my ancient dictionary and some binoculars. The saint dolls even have two shelves just the right size for them. In the back of the room, between the bookshelves, is a small bathroom and a closet. Moving from our old house (with one small bathroom upstairs and no closets) to this space, I can't help but feel a bit spoiled.

And just last weekend, my dear husband broke out the chalkboard paint to officially turn it into my dream room. We painted an entire wall and made a gigantic chalk board! In the few days we have been able to use it, it has already transformed our school time. Instead of scrambling for scraps of paper to write on, or constantly erasing our small white board, we can fit an entire day's worth of learning on our wall! I love looking back at the end of the day to see the amalgamation of scribbles, artwork, and schoolwork... it is a great reminder that we really did learn something that day, even if I felt like nothing happened.

I still want to put the finishing touches on the room; I want to add art to the walls, maybe change the paint color (the current tan/peach color is my personal definition of drab), and add something comfy to sit on for read-alouds, but we are well on our way to completion! My goal for educating my children is to inspire them to develop a love of learning. In our new space, we have an inspiring space to spread out and explore while still remaining in the heart of our home. That's exactly where I want to be. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Generation Gap

Audrey and her great grandpa have a tradition every time he comes to visit. He pulls out his camera and says, "Audrey, let's take a selfie!" She climbs up next to him and they put their heads together and smile. People talk about the older generation learning all of their tech skills from the younger, but my grandpa can proudly claim to be the one who taught his three-year-old great-granddaughter the meaning of the word "selfie". 

Sure, she's taken thousands of self-portraits on my phone over the last couple of years, but now she has a word for it... and most often these days, she doesn't turn the camera on herself unless Great Grandpa is around. Sometimes her brothers hop in on the photo as well, but I can tell it's really just a special thing between Grandpa and Audrey. I hope they take a selfie together at her high school graduation! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Say What?

Edith said her first phrase today, "Mo nana" (more banana). I'm sure that doesn't surprise anyone, since her love of food is a well-known fact. It got me thinking about the first phrases of each of my children, and I realized that they are all perfect little capsules of their personalities. Now, I'm not saying that Edith is defined by her love of food, but it sure is central to her life right now! Here are the others, to the best of my knowledge. But remember, I'm a mother of four... if these aren't accurate, I claim Mommy Brain.

Max: "Macky wanna run!" My former little-ball-of-energy has turned into a big-ball-of-energy! He has learned how to channel his constant motion a little bit, and as he learns to read he is spending more and more time with his nose in a book. But even when at rest, he seems to nearly vibrate with excess energy!

Lucian: "I did it!" Results-oriented from the beginning, the older he gets the more I see how driven and focused my second-born is. He wants to be given tasks, and he will not rest until the tasks are complete. Part of our daily routine is a checklist of things to do, such as "make bed" and "do something creative". He jumps out of bed each day and completes his list before his older brother has even thought about his.

Audrey: "Audrey do it!" I'm not certain that this was her very first phrase, but it was definitely an early one. Unlike her older brother who enjoyed proclaiming his success, Audrey was more interested in demanding to be allowed to do things on her own. Whether she was able to complete the task or not was irrelevant. She did NOT want any help! This trait has faded a little bit lately; I think she realized that it's nice to have people do things for you sometimes. But her independence and refusal to be told what to do is staying strong. Look out world!

Time will tell what Edith's first phrase really says about her. Maybe it is an early indicator of a love of cooking, or maybe she'll study monkeys in their original habitats. Who knows? But I can't wait to see how her little personality develops!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Bushel and a Peck

Traditions, traditions! What is there to write about the apple orchard that I haven't already written? With our whirlwind summer and fall, we still made it a priority to visit our orchard, and this time even Uncle Tony and cousin Isaac could join us! Sadly, Alexander wasn't well so the rest of the family stayed home. But our kids loved being able to share the fun with their cousin this year! Apple cider donuts, a wagon ride, lots of picking and tasting and examining to find the best apples to fill our bag. My dad built his apple towers again, and the kids got a huge kick out of his "pine-apple" tree. Then they wandered the rows and ate a bite or two of a countless number of apples. They know well by now that the orchard is the one place I won't lecture them about wasting food. 

We rode the wagon back to the lodge, and the kids got a quick ride on the kiddie wagon. The sunflower maze was a sad sight this year, but that didn't stop the kids from running and hiding amidst the tall, dead stalks for a good half hour! Lunch was followed by a visit to the animals, and then we left to make our traditional stop at the Big Yellow Barn for a candy treat. This building... there is pretty much nothing I like about it, but the kids think it's heaven! Row after crowded row of candy treats, and each year- only once a year- they get to enter and pick a treat from Grandma and Grandpa. It's a ridiculous place, and the contrast between its chaos and the peace of the orchard struck me especially hard this year. Oh the things we do for our children!

Surprisingly I only made one apple pie and one apple crisp with our take this year. The rest were munched down as snacks before I could blink an eye! I guess four kids who love apples will burn through a peck pretty darn quick. Maybe we'll spring for two next year? 

All in all, it was a fun, successful, exhausting day... I wouldn't change a thing!
 I love these two photos next to each other!

Cousins, and good buddies

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Move, conclusion

Our last walk to the coffee shop down the street from our old house
What goes up must come down; our stairway was too narrow for the boxspring
Living room, dining room... empty! What a feeling!
 After all of the chaos, I awoke the first morning in our new house ready to sit around and do nothing for the rest of my life. But the kids were still out of town and I had limited time to get anything done so I had my mom come over and help me with some unpacking while her friend Deb came to paint our walls. Oh. My. Word. What a Godsend! Paul and I both strongly dislike painting, but we also strongly disliked almost every color of paint that the previous owners had chosen for our walls... so Deb offered to paint whatever we wanted painted! All we had to do was buy the paint! Below are before-and-after shots of the girls' bedroom, but she also painted the boys room, our room, and the upstairs hallway. She's like a fairy godmother!

Thursday I spent decompressing with two good friends while Deb painted away upstairs. I had a hard time not working while someone else was working in my house, but I forced myself to sit and drink a cup of coffee to restore some physical, mental, and emotional balance.

Then Friday came, and we drove back to North Dakota to pick up the kids and to watch Paul and Ryan run their second half-marathon, this time with Patrick joining them! The kids got to run a 'mini-marathon' the night before, and they got t-shirts and medals for their efforts. Then we were able to watch the race from a beautiful park where the kids could run and play until they saw the runners start to pass. They then lined themselves up for high-fives and cheered for everyone they saw.

We did some exploring of Mandan the rest of the day, and then said goodbye to the Norrells, Grandma, and Patrick on Sunday. The kids were finally coming home! We pulled into our house early in the evening, and we were greeted by more grandparents! They had come and set up the kids bedrooms after the painting was all done. Thanks Mom and Dad!

The kids were super excited to see the whole house, and they settled in right away. They explored every nook and cranny and then claimed their beds and made themselves at home. Audrey got a beautiful new big-girl bed, and she demonstrated how to climb in and out of it as long as someone would watch her. The boys are no longer sharing a twin bed... and it's about time. Max takes up three-fourths of the bed himself! Bedtime was quick and easy for the first time in months!

We started school the next morning and life picked right up where it left off, in our new home. And boy do we feel at home.