Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Thursday, September 29, 2011

stuff my kid says

The day of Papa's funeral, I hustled all the Middles outside to run out some energy before having to sit quietly through the funeral. Never one to miss an opportunity to multitask, I began scooping dog poop (with 3 dogs, this is a never-ending chore). Kate and Glory started following me around, eagerly pointing out poop piles. Miss Andie joined in, although she missed the important point that we DON'T TOUCH POOP, we only POINT at poop. (There is nothing like seeing your daughter's sweet, chubby fingers wrapped around dog poop to make you want to vomit).

After some emergency handwashing and reestablishment of poop-pointing protocol, we were back in business.
Kate: Here's poop, Ninang!
Glory: I see it, too!
Kate: Good job, Glory. Good eye!
Andie: Anuddah one! Anuddah one! (That's Andie for "another one").
As I start to scoop the pile, Glory chimes in: Aww. It's such a cute little poop. (cooing) Cute little poop. Cute little poop.

Now there's an adjective I've never used to describe poop.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Co-op Kid weekend

All, right, so I uploaded a new version of blogger and can't figure out how to move pictures around, so bear with me.
Amy, Mom, and me at Tomato Brothers for a late night dinner to celebrate our birthday. Mom surprised us with a set of earrings each. The earrings were unique settings that suited each of us perfectly.
My friend, Darin Gemmer, taught me how to make "eggs in a frame", which is a fried egg in a piece of toast. I thought I'd improve on the idea by making bird-shaped toast for the kids (thanks to a cookie cutter) and making bird-shaped eggs in a frame for the adults. Delicious...and cute.
On Labor Day weekend, Team Eddy and Joe and I decided to share in some Co-op babysitting so each of us couples could get a much-needed date-night. Team Eddy came down Friday for a quick Jen-and-Amy birthday celebration. Saturday, they took off for the Gorge to see DAve Matthews while Joe, Mom and I watched the kids. They returned Sunday and Joe and I took off for an overnight trip to Moscow for some shopping and chicken wings at the Coeur d'Alene Brew Pub (every bit as good as I remember from Joe's grad school days). Monday morning, we returned to eat cupcakes--made by the Co-op Kids--to cap off our 30th birthday weekend.
Andie, Kate and Glory took turns fighting over this rocking horse. Andie and Glory took turns fighting over the binky.

Noah and Sam in a rare moment of cousinly-bonding over TV watching.

Kate hugging Doc. She loves all the dogs.

The four big kids watching TV. No, they didn't watch TV ALL weekend. Joe took the boys farming Saturday morning and Mom & I took the girls to the park. Sunday, we survived celebrating Mass by taking the kids to McDonald's for an hour of playtime, apple dippers, and chocolate milk.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

my Papa

My Papa, Leroy Altmiller, passed away unexpectedly on Friday morning. He'd been struggling with lung cancer for the last couple of years and had been getting weaker, but we were all taken by surprise when Grandma called me (I was out grocery shopping with Sam and Andie) and told me he was dying. Joe raced home, I dropped off Sam and Andie, and was able to make it to the hospital to say good-bye. It happened so quickly, though, that Amy and Mandi, in spite of jumping in their cars as soon as they found out, arrived after he'd passed. He went peacefully and that was a blessing.

We've spent the weekend crying, reminiscing and planning. I wanted to share a little bit about my Papa with you all, so I'm including some pictures and a draft of his obituary Amy and I are working on.
Kate, Jen, Papa, Amy, Glory at Amanda's wedding last July

Papa was born in Ahsahka, ID, October 9, 1934 to Albert and Ruth Altmiller. He was the oldest of 4 children. He spent his youth working in the woods and exploring the North Fork of Clearwater River. He graduated from Orofino High School, where he lettered in boxing, baseball, football and track.

5 generations of our family: my great-great grandma Phoebe Liedke, my great-grandma Ruth Altmiller, my Papa, my dad, Amy and me
Leroy met his future wife, Janice Maxwell, when he was 9 years old, on a trip to visit his cousin. When Leroy returned from his service in the Marine Corps during the Korean war, the two married in 1955 and moved to Bremerton, WA , where they welcomed their oldest son, Jon. They soon moved back to Kamiah, ID, where Leroy served in local law enforcement as an officer and then, later, as Chief of Police. There, they welcomed their second son, Jerry. The family moved to Headquarters, ID, and then later, Orofino, after Leroy was elected Clearwater County Sheriff and served for 10 years. The family then moved to Lewiston, where Leroy acted as Security Director of Potlatch Corporation for almost 20 years. He was a respected member of the law enforcement community nationwide and is remembered as a just, strong man.

Amy, Papa, Jen, Grandma, Mandi c. Christmas 1988
He loved the outdoors and spent as much time as he could fishing, hunting, and camping. He shared his enthusiasm and knowledge of archery and guns with many in the community, running an archery shop after retirement and offering hunting advice. Leroy was a master-class competitive shooter and taught many law enforcement officials and young shooters (including all three of his granddaughters) this skill. Leroy was a loving husband and devoted father and grandfather.

Papa meets Andie, April 2010
He was a member of St. James Catholic Church and active in the Knights of Columbus until his health began to decline.
He is survived by his siblings, Darla Alteneder, Sharon Walk, and Robert Altmiller as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his wife of 56 years, Janice Maxwell Altmiller, and, his daughters-in-law, Jean Cleto Altmiller and Carolyn Altmiller Copeland, his granddaughters Amy Altmiller Eddy (husband Kevin Eddy), Jennifer Altmiller Kaufman (husband Joe Kaufman), Amanda Altmiller Wilkins (husband Jerry Wilkins) and grandson Jacob Denny. He is survived by his great-grandchildren Noah, Kate, and Glory Eddy, Sam and Natalie Kaufman, and Jolie Altmiller. Another great-granddaughter, Peyton Wilkins, is due to arrive near what would have been Leroy’s 77th birthday.
Papa, Great-Grandma (Jen on lap) and Great-Grandpa (Amy on lap), Grandma, c. Christmas 1984

He is preceded in death by his two sons, Jon and Jerry Altmiller. We know the three of them are having a joyful reunion up in Heaven.
Grandma and Papa, October 2010

A vigil will be held 6:30pm, Friday, September 23, 2011 at St. James Catholic Church and a memorial service will be conducted at 11am, Saturday, September 24, 2011, also at St. James. Memorial gifts may be made to American Cancer Society or the charity of the giver’s choice.
Papa and Sam, October 2009

Saturday, September 17, 2011


The rules of soccer are very simple; basically, it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn't move, kick it until it does. " --Phil Woosman

So, Sam started playing soccer a few weeks ago. I wasn't sure that I really wanted to start organized sports at such a young age, but he seemed pretty excited about it. His best friend, Kenzie from daycare, was going, too, and the two of them love to get into trouble together play together, so we gave it a shot.

Sam's an exuberant, live-life-to-the-fullest, bounce-off-the-walls-with-excitement kind of kid. Most mornings, he sits on the couch with his chocolate milk in hand, bouncing excitedly when he hears I'll let him watch Scooby Doo while I get dressed. Even the seemingly mundane activities like going to the grocery store are met with excitement if he gets to ride in a TRUCK CART!!! So, to say that Sam was extraordinarily excited about soccer really should make an impression.

During his first practice, I texted Amy: "I've never seen Sam so excited about anything in his life. His smile is so big right now, it makes me want to cry a little."
Sam runs with an enthusiasm unmatched by most of the other three and four year olds. He loves to run with the big kids, too, and gets right in there to fight for the ball. He's scored two goals and pretty much smiles and sweats the entire hour and fifteen minutes of soccer practice.
Note his soccer garb. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Tita, who is a big time hoarder, for being a hoarder and saving me $40 by keeping my 26 year old sisin Lauren's soccer shoes all this time. Yep, Sam's wearing her original soccer cleats. Thanks to Team Eddy for donating the shin guards that Noah used last year. My total fee for this season of fun was $25 for registration and $2.48 for some clearance soccer shorts at Macy's.

Friday, September 16, 2011

why you should invest in a handheld mirror

Whenever I'm in Spokane, I take advantage of having Tancie, hairstylist to the stars, as a sisin and get a trim. So, a few weeks ago, I sat in the Eddys' garage on a folding chair, gracefully draped in a cape, looking out over the Eddys' backyard while Tancie worked her magic scissors. Kevin and his dad, Loren, were slaving away in the crazy heat, burying an electric line and demolishing a decrepit gazebo.

 At one point, Kevin bent over and I saw that the top of his head, where he's getting a bit of a bald spot, was lobster red.

"Hey, Kev-o. Your head's pretty pink. I think you need to put some sunscreen on it."

So, Kevin ambles inside and comes out a few minutes later with his face slathered white with sunscreen. Not so much as a drop of sunscreen, though, has been applied to his red, red bald spot. I point this out to Tancie and she whispers back, "Uh-oh."

I holler, "Hey, Kev-o! You forgot your bald spot! You need to put some sunscreen on your bald spot!"

Kevin freezes. He looks at me. He looks back at his dad. He looks at me. "What did you say?"

Me: "You are really, really sunburned on your BALD SPOT!"

Kevin (shocked and wide eyed): "I have a BALD SPOT?!?"

Oops. Sorry to break it to you like that.

He walks back into the house, muttering under his breath, perhaps even mumbling a few naughty words, and seeing Joe, mutters, "You know, I just love your wife. Just love her."

Is it my fault that I'm the first to point out the guy's hair is thinning? Amy pleaded innocence, saying she was too short to really look at the top of her husband's head.

And, that is why you should invest in a handheld mirror.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

and that's the news from Casa Kaufman

It's been a chaotic week at Casa Kaufman.
  • Despite many attempts to fix my blog layout (including uploading a different version of blogger, changing margins, etc.), I have not made any progress. One help article said that my center column must have a long link or too wide of a picture, causing my to shift to the bottom of my blog, but I couldn't find any post that exceeded the margins. No luck there, so I'm back to blogging and hoping that the problem will fix itself as suddenly as it appeared.
  • On the bright side, I'm blogging (with a delicious glass of Terra Blanca merlot) on my new Toshiba laptop. My bargain-hunting husband scored a screamin' deal, finding me (and my mom) a new laptop for the low, low price of $284 (including shipping). He's amazing...and so is my new laptop. I'm in love with its big screen, functioning keys, and ability to complete multiple tasks without freezing.
  • I'm back at work 4 days a week and found that I've become quite accustomed to a 3 day work week and adamantly want it back. Meanwhile, my house is a mess, we're eating take and bake pizza for dinner, and I've run out of clean clothes. I'm lacking the discipline and ambition to keep up on work, home, and parenting that I used to have, so I've settled for trying to be a good mom and a decent employee and a pretty huge slob.
  • Joe's been losing a freakish amount of weight. At first, I took pride in this fact, thinking it was due to my healthful meal planning and increasing proportion of plant-based meals in our diet. But, I'm not losing weight (in spite of working out twice as often as Joe) and this week, came to the realization that Joe is losing weight because he has to meet several deadlines at work and has opted to cope with this busy-ness by only eating lunch once a week. I don't know about you, but forgoing lunch is not an option for me. I'd rather forfeit going to the bathroom all day than skip a meal (but if you've known me for any significant amount of time, you know I'm pretty dedicated to my groceries). So, we bought Joe some skinnier pants and I'm sending him a daily text message: "Eat lunch. Every day. Don't forget."
  • Andie is back to her bad sleepin' ways. We caught a long-running cold from Team Eddy and have been doing all we can to survive it. She's back to two bottles a night. Man. Our nights with a 19-month old don't look all that much different than our nights with a 9-month old. In the daytime, though, she has been a happy, happy girl who is keeping us entertained with a variety of new phrases, exclamations, and dance moves.
  • Sam has started soccer. The kid needs a daily dose of running to function (otherwise, he's bouncing off the walls) and we figured that running with a pack of rowdy 3 and 4 year olds a couple of times a week would be a good way to accomplish that. HE. LOVES. IT.
  • On a more serious note, my Papa (grandpa) has been having some health issues, which has been a struggle for all of us. My grandma has born the brunt of caring for him, but he's been progressively weaker and more confused, so Joe has needed to help more often. This week, he's in the hospital and we're all waiting to see if any progress can be made. If you're the praying sort, please keep him in your prayers.
And that's the news from Casa Kaufman, where the dad skips lunch, the mom skips laundry, and the children are above average.

Monday, September 12, 2011

blogging death?

So, I'm not sure what is up with my blog lately. One morning, I checked it and its layout was all messed up. I tried playing around with different layouts, messing with sidebar widths, etc, but nothing helped. Then, I got a message from my Mom-friend saying that she couldn't even view the was completely blank. I can still view the blog...can you??

Wish me luck. If you have any advice, please comment.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

weekly wisdom: playing in the dirt

After three years of rearing a dirt-loving kid and his dirt-loving sister, I've learned a few lessons about playing in the dirt. Last week, Sam and Andie were playing in my Grandma's garden and, while I thought I was already an expert in dirt-playing, I learned a few new lessons.

Here is a comprehensive list of tips:
1. Dirt loves snot. Dirt and dried snot combined is more structurally sound that concrete. (Joe says it's like "JB Weld", but I'm not sure what that is). So, if your kid has a runny nose, make sure to wipe often or you will never get the dirt boogers out of his nostrils. He will have a perpetual ring of dirt around his nostril until you stick a wet wash cloth up there...and that's no fun.
2. Don't play in dirt that you would feel bad about being eaten. Dirt with fertilizer. Dirt shared with animals. That sort of thing. Andie eats all dirt. Every. Single. Time.
3. While dirt is fun to play with and relatively easy to clean up, mud is EVEN more fun to play with. But, infinitely harder to clean up. You go from brushing off dirt to scraping, knocking, banging and brushing away mud.
4. Banging light-up shoes together to knock mud off mostly just makes the shoes light they're taunting you. (Joe taught me a brush works better).
5. When your daughter dumps a bucket of dirt on her hair, remember to brush her hair before throwing her into the bathtub. Again, BRUSH HER HAIR BEFORE GETTING INTO THE BATHTUB. Otherwise, the dirt turns to caked mud and you'll be washing her hair with muddy streams running down into her eyes. She'll be crying. You'll be crying (and scrubbing frantically). And, in the end, she'll still end up with little specks of dried mud clinging to her scalp. Then, you will have to tell daycare what happen, carefully emphasizing these are not some sort of lice, just mud, because that is the kind of mother you are.

Feel free to share your tips in the comments section.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Seattle saga: Pike Place Market

Sunday after checkout, a group of us headed out to Pike Place Market and the Waterfront before heading home.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seattle saga: Jump-a-roo-ski

Don't worry, dear readers. We are now in the denouement.

Sunday morning was filled with packing, loading cars, and checking out. In an effort to entertain 5 small children amidst this chaos, I invented a fun game called "Jump-a-roo-ski".

If you've ever been under ten and stayed at a hotel with another kid, you already know how to play this game.

You all hop on one bed and take turns jumping to the other. (To play Advanced Jump-a-roo-ski, you all jump at the same time, alternating beds. You lose points if you collide in mid air. You also can break arms that way, I suspect).

Every time you jump, you have to yell, "Jump-a-roo-ski!" (Ok, so maybe you didn't know that part of the game).


"Jump-a-roo ski!"