Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

playing with blocks

One of the joys of being home more often is seeing my children play together. Help each other. Laugh together. Just look at them building together. With the token family dog in the background. If that's not Norman Rockwell-esque, I don't know what is.

Of course, this only lasted a few minutes. One of the not so joyful parts of being at home more often is sending your toddler to time out after intentionally destroying her brother's carefully built "tractor tank with a BIG gun". Where is that scene in Norman Rockwell?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

confessions of a slacker mom: setting up the Christmas tree

Here's my confession: we've never had a Christmas tree in our post-kid/dog life.

It's not that I'm a scrooge. In fact, I love Christmas. Growing up, I loved decorating our tree with my sister, unwrapping each ornament and reminiscing. I love my Christmas ornaments with a nostalgic fierceness and didn't want to have to murder a dog or child should they happen to break one. So, we decided to forgo a Christmas tree of our own for the last 5 years.

This year, though, Sam kept asking when our Christmas tree would get here. So, a few weeks ago, we picked out a tree and set it up. Then, a few nights later when Joe had to work late, the kids and I decorated the tree.

I made my peace with the fact that kids (duh) would want to touch every. single. ornament. About one hundred times. Take them off the tree. Put them back on. Hide them in the couch. Stick them down their pants. (I am not even joking and you know it).

So, we used plastic-dollar store ornaments and garlands to decorate our tree. Problem solved. My precious ornaments from my own childhood are safely packed away for a time far, far from now when my children will not eat, break, or bury them and our little Christmas tree was cheerfully decorated. I unpacked our new ornaments and Sam, ND, and I oohed-and-aahed over each plastic animals, making animal sounds and holding lengthy discussions over where exactly each ornament should go. (Mainly on the front lower branches, in case you were wondering).

Joe got home in time to see the finished project.

Actually, this might be my favorite Christmas tree yet.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Girls' Night Out

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Mom invited me to be her date at the Festival of Trees. Moms of young children are always eager for a chance to throw off their jeans and throw on a dress, so, of course, I said yes. We left Joe at home with the kiddos and headed out for the dinner and silent auction...
...but not before getting some pictures with the entourage.

Dinner was great and I either met or reconnected with a lot of people. Plus, I ended up winning a New Year's Eve package, which my mom kindly paid for and gave to Joe for his birthday. So, I still won!

Plus, when I got home, the kids had been fed, bathed and put to bed. Any mom of young kids can tell you what a luxury it is to skip the bedtime routine once in a while with the overtired tantrums and the wrangling of squirmy bodies into jammies all while the bedtime routine only makes the mom sleepy and does nothing to the children. Deliciously sleepy (and a little tipsy from the free wine with dinner), I shucked my heels, snuggled into my jammies and slept ALL through the night.

What a wonderful evening. We'll do it again next year, Mom.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thanksgiving (part two)

We started Day 2 of Thanksgiving OverEatFest with some more roughhousing. Well, I decided to burn off some of my calories by starting the day with a run, but the rest of my family decided they would rather wrestle. To each his own.
The Altmiller family Thanksgiving feasting was equally abundant, although the pies dominated our feast. Grandma made 4 pies and Dori donated 1, leaving 1/2 a pie per person. Good thing I went for a run.

I had to share all my pie with Andie, so that meant I got to eat twice as much.

This is Baby Peyton's first appearance on the blog. She's Mandy and Jerry's newborn daughter and is so snuggly.
 While the adults recovered from their pie-coma, the kiddos played together.
Dan, Mom, Theresa, Grandma, Christina and Brandon

Joe loves pie, too.

Grandma didn't get to eat much pie because she was too busy snuggling Peyton.

Jolie and Andie snuggled their own babies.

And Sam can't wait until next Thanksgiving. (Yes, that's a slinky he's wearing as a belt).

Thanksgiving (part one)

Since it's almost Christmas, I thought I'd better get on posting about Thanksgiving. We started our Thanksgiving feasting at the Kaufmans' on Thanksgiving Day. There is a reason the phrase "Eat like a Kaufman" was coined and we ate like, well, Kaufmans twice that day. Our day consisted of two activities: 1) eating (or preparing food) and 2) roughhousing with uncles.

Roughhousing with uncles.

A roughhoused-uncle.

Andie's still a little timid (and should be!) about roughhousing with Sam.

Sam and Uncle Jeff
This little turkey is ready for turkey!

Being the dad of two small kids requires a cheerful attitude and a bottle or two of wine.

JD, the Kaufmans' Belgian foreign exchange student, celebrated his first Thanksgiving.

Mom K made a delicious meal.

Dad K carving the turkey.

And, more roughhousing with uncles.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

and that's the news from Casa Kaufman

It's been a chaotic week at Casa Kaufman:
  • We're recovering from overeating at Thanksgiving. I will attempt to post pictures soon, but who knows when I will get the time. We started our OverEatFest with the Kaufmans on Thursday, continued eating on Friday with the Altmillers, and then leftovers Saturday and Sunday. I joined a "Maintain, Don't Gain" over the holidays contest at my gym and am already losing. Oh, well.
  • Thursday evening, I boarded a flight to Seattle to meet up with Deanna for a whirlwind trip of shopping. About a year ago, I bought a pair of new J Crew khakis at a Jackson Hole thrift shop for five bucks and have been anxious to hit some major thrift store shopping since then. We shopped for eight hours straight on Friday and then a few hours on Saturday before she dropped me off at the airport. We hit 4 Goodwills and 4 consignment stores and at the end of the experience, I swear my abs were sore from all the bending over to try on clothes. I think I'll be making this an annual trip, especially for the kiddos. There are some crazy kids' consigment stores in Marysville where we got a screamin' deal on shoes.
  • After seeing all the Christmas lights in our neighborhood (if you haven't heard ND say Christmas lights yet, you must. It's the cutest thing ever.), Sam's been wondering when Christmas was going to come to our house. So, this weekend, we got a Christmas tree from the All Saints' school sale and we decorated it last night. I never appreciated the fine motor coordination that goes into hanging ornaments on branches until ND tried to do it. Maybe next year, baby girl.
  • I've found a new running buddy, who runs a slow pace like me, but has better endurance, so she's been pushing me and I've been running farther than I did on my own. I'm typically running 2-3 miles twice a week and getting in a 5mile run once a week at a 10:45 pace. Not breaking any speed records, but I'm amazed that I'm actually running!
  • Joe got a mule deer. He had a great time hunting with his dad and brothers, but the early mornings were a killer for all of us. ND seems to sense when her dad is leaving, so she was waking up (and waking me up!) at 4am those mornings. I'm glad I have another year until deer season hits again.
And that's the news from Casa Kaufman, where the mom unwraps Christmas lights, the dad hangs Christmas lights and the above-average kids love Christmas lights.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Andie and Lola

One Saturday, I came in from raking our endlessly falling leaves/playing soccer with Sam (what? you don't play soccer when you rake leaves???) to find Andie nestled in my Lola's lap, sweetly reading a story. I don't know what surprised me more:

a) that Andie wanted to snuggle with someone who was not her mama,
or b) that my 84 year old Lola could lift my giant baby into her lap.

But, we are seeing more of Andie's sweet side as she gets older. She is still strong-willed and hot tempered, but we get more glimpses of pure joy on her face than we ever have before. Here are a few things Andie loves:
  • She loves to dance. She runs to the middle of the living room floor, stomps her feet in a circle, waves her arms around and then tiptoes while belly laughing.
  • She loves shoes. Amy, Lola, and I took a brief trip to Macy's and visited the shoe department. As soon as Andie saw all those shoes, she started clapping her hands and giggling with delight. Within seconds, her shoes were off and she was trying on every pair of shoes she could reach.
  • She loves chocolate milk. I swore I wouldn't let Andie get addicted to chocolate milk the way Sam so shamefully is, but the ban has been lifted. You try telling that cute little grin 'No' when she holds up her cup and says "Ma-mo chock-it milk peas". (That's "some more chocolate milk, please").
  • She loves the toliet. I wish I could say she loved potty-training, but I think she only wants to go because she likes putting toliet paper in the toliet, flushing it and getting a potty candy afterwards.
  • She loves Sam. She asks about him before he wakes up. She wants to everything he does--even if it lands them both in time out.
I'm not saying she is an easy baby by any means, but her goods are as good as her bads are bad. Andie-girl, you are growing up so fast. You challenge us as parents every single day, but the rewards are super sweet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

sick pirate Sam

Last week, Joe was supposed to be on a long-awaited hunting vacation. He had drawn a special mule deer tag and had been looking forward to a week of hunting. But, Sam ended up catching a cold from daycare, which left our usual uber-active boy fairly lethargic and running a fever, so Joe--good daddy that he is--took a day off of hunting to stay home with Sam.

You know Sam is sick when he falls asleep in front of the TV. He is not sick enough, however, to let go of his brand new pirate sword.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

confessions of a slacker mom

Here's a slacker mom tip:
When cold and flu season hits, dress your toddler in brown clothes as much as possible.
You'll save on the Spray-and-Wash when her diarrhea flows over the top of her Pull-Up.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

game night

Teenie loves games and, so, last year, she and Steve gave Sam two of his very own board games: Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. It took awhile, but now he is a board-gamin' fiend. When Lola came to visit us a few weeks ago, we had family game night: Sam took out the games. Lola brought some apritada and pancit. I brought my appetite.

Chutes and Ladders proved to be a little challenging for both Sam and Lola (I'm not sure if it's her senility that keeps her from following the rules or her desire to win even if it means cheating), so we moved on to Candyland and had so much fun, we played several games. Sam is learning the fine art of sportsmanship. He's pretty good at consoling other players when they lose a turn ("It's ok. Sometimes that happens.") but still is working on not being a poor loser. Pretty good for a three year old, though.

When Uncle Noy came to pick up Lola at the end of the weekend, we invited him to play a quick game of Candyland. Uncle Noy has a gift with little children: he devotes his full attention to the child's conversation and listens with an intention that leaves the child feeling understood and important. I remember feeling this way as a young child (less so as a teenager!) whenever I talked with Uncle Noy.

That gift was not lost on Sam. He sat by Uncle Noy, explained the rules, and prattled on about all things that interest three year old boys: superheroes, monster trucks, tractors, combines, and bad guys. He was especially sad to see Uncle Noy and Lola go after the game was finished, but they all promised to come again for another game night soon.

In the meantime, this mama is growing a little weary of Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. If you have any other great suggestions for board games (we just need a little variety--nothing against Candyland), please share them in the comments section.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

confessions of a slacker mom

The objective: Put away the crazy chaotic mess of toys that occurs when six (yes, count them SIX...we added Ben to the Co-op Kids for an evening) children 5 and under are playing in the living room.
The solution: Clean-Up Race!
(You must say it as an exclamation! Or you are missing the point! This is an exciting thing!)

1. Kids line up on the couch.
2. Set the timer for five minutes.
3. Say "GO!" and start the timer.
4.. Kids frantically put away toys, dirty clothes, books as fast as they can for five minutes. Things may not end up in the right spot, but everything magically disappears off the floor.
5. When the timer sounds, you must stop picking up and run to the couch.
6. And, the secret to my success with Clean-Up Race!: Pay each kid two marshmallows for cleaning up. Works every time. Sometimes, Sam even asks to have a Clean-Up Race! and I'm like "Ok, twist my arm. I guess I will have to give you two marshmallows at the end."

Child labor is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

painting 101

I'm the fun Ninang. So, I always get my delightful godchildren fun gifts: swords, guns, water tables, loud obnoxious toys. Kate, Glory, and Noah love them. Amy and Kevin hate them. They always threaten revenge, but really, they aren't as good at picking out obnoxious gifts as I am.

But, when I came across this gift for Kate and Glory's third birthday, being obnoxious was not my first priority. Sure, it was a painting project. Sure, it would be messy. But, really, I was drawn to it because it was a) a set of 4 paintable dogs that was b) a project to wile away the winter hours without c) breaking the budget.

Kevin did not view it the same way I did.

The second the girls opened the gift, they (of course) wanted to paint it. I patiently explained that they would have to wait until Ninang went home; it was something to do with Mom and Dad as a quality time/family togetherness sort of project. There was tears and sadness, but everyone seemed to understand.

Everyone except Kevin.

Kevin brought the paintable dogs down to Lewiston last weekend so I could supervise the painting. I don't think he saw it as a family togetherness project. He seemed to view it as punishment for me.

You know what? Stick it in your ear, Kevin. I'm not afraid of a little paint.

Or, a lot of paint, as it turned out. The kids had a fabulous time creating their dogs, but really, most of the paint (as you probably already guessed it) was everywhere but the dogs.

Painting time quickly changed to bathtime and scrub-down-the-entire-kitchen time. But, never one to admit defeat, I say cheerily to you, Kevin Eddy: Bring it on. I'll paint again any day.