Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Friday, December 19, 2014

and that's the news from Casa Kaufman (Christmas edition)

Dear friends and family,

We hope this post finds you happy and healthy. It's been a big year for our little family! Early last year, we decided to take the plunge into business ownership. Jen made the difficult decision to leave her position as a gastroenterology nurse practitioner at a local hospital and open her own clinic in Clarkston, WA (just across the river from Lewiston, ID). We moved to Clarkston to be closer to the clinic as well (moving homes and opening the clinic in the same week was not our most brilliant idea).

Sam and Natalie on our new-to-us boat
We thought life with three kids was busy...little did we know that business ownership is even busier! The move, though, has been richly rewarding and Jen has felt honored that many of her patients followed her to the new clinic. Joe and the kids have been supportive and encouraging throughout the process, even though this first year has meant a lot of time away from home.

If one business weren't enough, we decided to add another business to our life--selling sweet corn. We'd been partners with Joe's brother and wife, Steve and Christina, in the corn maze last year and we decided to expand the business to include growing and selling sweet corn. We spent many a late Friday night picking and packing up sweet corn and many an early Saturday selling it at the Moscow Farmers' Market. It was a fun adventure, but we decided we might wait a few more years before we grow corn again--when our kids are a bit older and don't get lost in the corn patch so easily.
Sam carving pumpkins at (soon-to-be) Aunt Jeannine's

Sam is 6 1/2 and in first grade. He continues to be an easy going kid and a compassionate, thoughtful big brother to Sam and Natalie. He loves all things Legos and Star Wars. This summer, we took a family vacation to DisneyLand and he got to participate in Jedi Knight training--the best experience of his life so far.

Natalie in the Nutcracker

Natalie is nearly 5 and in preschool. She wishes she were in kindergarten already; we often have to give her "homework" to do at the kitchen table while Sam does his school work. She is a budding ballerina (and tap dancer) and danced as a baby mouse in a local production of the Nutcracker. In her (and our) opinion, she was the star of the show! She gets to spend most Fridays with Grandma Dori and we love the freshly baked cookies she comes home with.
Henry playing Dad's steel guitar

Henry is almost 2 and adds so much joy...and our home. He's a busy little guy who loves trains and trucks and his mama. Unfortunately, he has a penchant for biting, but aside from that, the twos have not been so terrible with this one.

Joe and Jen are still involved in church activities and enjoy belonging to the local Engaged Encounter community. Joe had a successful hunting season, bringing home a deer after one day of hunting. He continues to enjoy his work as an engineer for the City of Lewiston.  He also got to spend some time with Jen's running group this summer. Jen and five fellow moms decided to tackle the Mount Misery Relay--a short 56 mile relay over a nearby
Joe and Jen seeing a Broadway show on their 11th anniversary!

mountain--and Joe cheerfully volunteered to be the team driver.

Whew! It's been a busy year and we are hopeful that next year will be a little less exciting. As Christmas approaches, we are looking forward to having some quiet time to enjoy our family and ready our hearts to celebrate Jesus's birth. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jen, Joe, Sam, Natalie, Henry...and Schatzi

Saturday, September 27, 2014

They call me the Fireman

Stuff my kid says

Me to Henry: Look at the movie. See he's holding hands with his mama.

Movie: "Look both ways before you go. Hold the hand of a grown-up you know! "

Me to all the kids: See? Hold hands before you cross the street!

Natalie: But what if you have too much kids?!?

I ask myself that question every time we cross the Costco parking lot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sibling collaboration

I was always firmly in the "nurture" camp of nurture vs nature until, like all things in parenting, I actually had children. Our first boychild was into all things boy: sticks, dirt, rocks, trains and trucks. As a girl in a family of girls, I was clearly out of my element. I tried to make him well rounded by giving him dolls, which magically became guns or swords. Nineteen months later, Daughter was born into an environment of all things boy, but quickly turned our life into a world of pink and sparkles. (For those curious readers out there, 16 month old Henry already has a penchant for pick up trucks and trains).

Their play preferences rarely overlap. So, Natalie is always begging for her BFF Rilynn to come over and play while Sam longs for his cousin Noah to build Legos. 

What the heck, people? You have EACH OTHER. This is why your father and I endured so many sleepless nights when you were both babies! So you would have a built in buddy! A friend! Go play with each other!

And this is what happens:

Dollhouse with Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Blossom and Dora going camping while army men defend the homestead from invading T-Rex and Robot Frog.
Robot Cafe where all the robots, superheroes, and Strawberry Shortcake characters can sit down for a bite to eat after defending the homestead.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sweet corn, sweet family

We took about a thousand pictures to come up with this gem. By the end, we had to stop because a) my allergies were making my eyes water, b) the kids were ready for breakfast and c) the sprinklers had come on.

Doesn't Natalie Doris look angelic?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Co-op Kids run for Senate

Actually, Lala had the fabulous idea of including the Co-op Kids in Papa Dan's campaign literature. It seemed so easy. Buy some coordinating outfits and snap a few photos.

 Getting 7 kids and 2 grandparents to all look at the camera at the same time is no easy feat. Lala had some unrealistic expectations about going to several different locations to get some great shots.

Amy and I looked at each other and decided we had a very small window of opportunity. After breakfast but before Mass. Everyone was fed, bathed, clean, and happy. (Mass takes a lot of energy for children and both parents alike...and, of the 100 shots I stupidly and diligently took after Mass, ZERO turned out).
 We did a quick photo shoot in Team Eddy's backyard and, although I shot at least 50 pictures, it was the first ten that were the best. Let that be a lesson to all of you with large families out there. 

Get in, get out, get done.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mount Misery Relay

My New Years Resolution was to start training for a half marathon, so I roped my favorite sister-in-law Teenie into running with me and we began to run 2-3 times weekly with Elaine, my ever faithful running buddy. Our dedication and motivation started to lag in late May sometime (my crazy schedule with moving and opening a business probably had something to do with that) and Elaine came up with the idea of registering for the Mount Misery relay as an intermediate deadline to help us along.

Billed to us as "57 miles of fun", we quickly learned from our beer runner group that it was anything but. Most groaned and said they would never, ever do it again. But a few smiled and said they'd done it a few times and wished us all the best. Dan Johnson has done it several times and gave us a few pointers--like starting 2 hours early, which was the best advice I've ever heeded.

We made plans to bring along toliet paper, shovels, first aid kits, snake bite kits, snacks, water, gatorade, and anything else we could load in the back of the pick up. Joe, our faithful driver, drove while we hopped in and out of the truck to run our legs of the relay.

(His one comment of the day: "I never knew how much your running centered around pee breaks. One of you has to pee every time we stop." My reply: "You see how long you can hold your pee after you push out a ten pound baby and then try to run 57 miles." Boo-yah.)

We started with smiles and ran the first 14 miles fairly easily.

Then, it turned into an uphill battle. Straight up. 7000 feet up. Ugh. We got passed by several of the faster teams despite our headstart. A team of beautiful topless men sprinted by us. I thought if only we weren't weighed down by our shirts, we would be just as fast.

After running for 6 hours, we finally reached the top.

I ran that first glorious mile downhill and shouted to my weary teammates, "This is awesome!" We were soon running faster than the pickup could navigate the rocks downhill.

The last half went much faster...and we finished the race in a short 10 1/2 hours, coming in dead last. But, we were all pretty proud of our accomplishments...and celebrated with a post race beer and jumping in the icy cold river.

When I got out, I could barely keep my eyes open and it was quickly apparent we all needed to go home and go straight to bed.

Not sure I need to ever tackle this particular race again. But, I think I will wear my finisher's medal every day. Out grocery shopping. While folding laundry. At Costco.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nothing trims the waistline like hoeing

We are now sweet corn farmers. Teenie and I are planning to get rich quick off our sweet corn and sell it at the Farmers' Market in Moscow when it ripens in a few weeks. Easy money, they told us.

Somehow, I missed the part that we needed to weed the sweet corn.

The entire acre of sweet corn.

So, Steve who is knowledgeable about all things farming, told Joe and I it was time to get weeding and, instead of running last Saturday, we tackled the sweet corn in the early, cool morning. With the help of Steve and Mom Kaufman, 5 short hours later, the first half was done.

Mom Kaufman encouraged me, repeating her mother's wisdom that "nothing trims the waistline like hoeing." Sam came out to help pull some weeds, too. That kid was born to farm.

Being someone who likes repetitive exercise until she is exhausted (see my Mount Misery post), I was pleasantly happy with our work. 
Until it hurt to laugh or cough the next day.
And then we had to go back and finish the other half.

Come see us at the Moscow Farmers' Market in August and buy some of this delicious sweet corn!

Our new (to us) boat

We inherited a boat and have been making it seaworthy. Joe's not sure we can afford a free boat, but the rest of us are pretty stoked.

Meet Boatie the Seahawk. Christened by the same duo who wanted to name their baby brother Lampie.

Looking forward to some time on the water soon!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"before our life exploded"

There was a time when Joe and I felt like we were fairly busy, working full time and raising three young children while trying to keep up with church activities, exercise, and do the occasional load of laundry. Our days were full and we looked forward to that undefined time in the future when our children would grow up, sleep through the night, and help us with the omnipresent laundry.

That was before our life exploded.

In early March, I quit my job and decided to open my own clinic. If you are ever up at 10pm, wondering what you could be doing, you should try starting your own business. My days were filled with meetings with contractors, accountants, lawyers, and waiting on hold for the IRS. After putting the kids to bed at night, I would work on paperwork and the household chores that never seemed to get done. Joe has been super supportive, sitting in on meetings, picking up kids from daycare, and being a single parent many evenings while we've tried to get this venture off the ground.

We planned to open the clinic doors on May 1....and decided that since life wasn't really busy yet, we would also move to a different house, too!

We'd planned that after we opened the clinic, we'd probably need to move to Washington. We thought we'd tackle that project next year, until we heard that a friend needed to sell his home. We looked at it and it seemed like a good fit for our family.

So, we said a prayer and put our home on the market.

Teenie, Mom Kaufman, and Grandma A spent a full week with me, cleaning and packing and moving out of our house and getting it ready to sell. Buyers came and went. One set of buyers kept haggling back and forth...and 3 weeks later, our house is sold (knock on wood, turn around and spit three times, quick!).

We've spent the last 6 weeks packing, unpacking and cleaning at our new house, our old house and the clinic. Life is chaos. I don't know where anything is and the mountain of laundry is towering.

But, I'm back seeing patients. In my own clinic.

Our life exploded.

Not much has ever been so satisfying.

(Hoping to lure you once-faithful readers back with the promise of more regular blogging in the future).

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Henry's bear picture outtakes

Just so you appreciate the work that went into getting the shots I posted yesterday...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy 1st birthday, Henry!

Dear Henry,
Happy first birthday, buddy! We keep saying it, but we have no idea where your babyhood has gone. All of a sudden, you have turned into a toddler, which is bittersweet. It is wonderful to see you growing and making new discoveries in the world around you, but that leaves little time for snuggling with your mama. Sigh.
 Take these bear pictures, for example. Between a fussy camera lens and a busy baby, we hardly got any shots. You are a whirl of activity these days, crawling quickly after your siblings, pulling books off shelves, emptying drawers and cabinets. You love to play in Schatzi's dog water--an activity that frustrates your father to no end. You like to "read" books all the time, flipping the pages back and forth, and babbling quite earnestly.
 But, at least you are a happy, happy guy. When we get you out of your crib in the morning, we are greeted with smiles and giggles. You are starting to get over your stranger anxiety phase and are reaching out for hugs with family and friends again, which delights everyone. Sam and Natalie dote on you...even when you break their toys and tear up their pictures. You have an easy grin...and an adorable little dimple in your left cheek.

You light up in a special way when Sam plays with you. You two have this sort of crazy boychild wildness and you both get to wiggling and laughing and yelling. I can't pretend to understand it, but I love it.

Natalie wants to mother you...and boss you. You have less patience for that, but you, like the rest of us, love her amidst your daily conflict. You lure her in with one of your open mouthed kisses and then pull her hair and grin.
 Let's talk milestones because your mama's memory gets worse every year. You weaned a couple of weeks ago; it was a slow easy process but another sad step away from babyhood. You sleep most of the night, waking up once of a bottle, and nap once a day. We are better rested that we have been in nearly two years. You aren't quite the eater your siblings were so you've lost your title as "biggest baby"--at least by the one year mark. You can say "Uh-oh" (although it sounds more like "Uh-uh"), Mama, Dad. You say other sounds earnestly and with intention, but we can't quite figure them out yet. You can sign "more" and "all done", but if you really want something, you just yell.
And...drumroll, are starting to walk. About 3-4 weeks ago, you took 2 steps in a row. Everyone clapped and cheered for you...and then I cried a little bit. You've kind of plateau'd there, though; I think crawling is probably your preferred method because you are so stinkin' fast.

Happy birthday, Henry. We all love you so much, little guy.

Love, Mom and Dad

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Happy 4th birthday, Natalie!

Dear Natalie Doris,

February is birthday month around our home and we started our celebration with your 4th birthday. It was supposed to be your first birthday party with a friend over, but unfortunately, the flu and a huge snowstorm coincided and Rilynn couldn't come. We celebrated the day big anyway, starting out with breakfast out with Lala and Papa Dan and ending with a big Kaufman family birthday with cake and ice cream at our house. (Your Lala was appalled that when she discovered we weren't taking you to Mass on your birthday, so she took you herself in between the two parties). You reveled in everyone's attention and loved every minute of the day...until all of a sudden you weren't loving the day at all and were having a total meltdown at the dinner table.

But, that is how life is with you. High or low. Black or white. On or off. Screaming with joy or screaming with angst. Your rollercoaster personality keeps Dad and I guessing. Our mantra is "nothing worthwhile comes easily" and in parenting you, we have grown in creativity, patience and gratitude.

Wait...gratitude? Yes, sis....gratitude. We are grateful for you, your intensity and your determination. When the tempest of your temper blows over (which happens more easily now that you are the ripe old age of four), we also see the intensity of your joy in life. The way you love your brothers and act as a little mama to Henry. The way you love music and dance (we got you your own "music player"--a CD player--with a No Doubt CD and you love to dance to that spunky girl music). The way you tackle any task you deem worthy of your attention.

The "worthy of your attention" part is key. We haven't yet figured out how to motivate you in any way, shape or form. We can't cajole or bribe you into doing anything...but the very millisecond you decide you want to do something, it gets done. For example, your nose. We have spent the better part of the last 6 months tackling this chronic scab on your nose. It started as a little irritation from blowing your nose and has grown into a chronic scab from the habit of mindlessly picking it when you get bored or frustrated. We've tried ointments, bandaids, stickers, bribes, money all to no avail. And recently, you decided we should put a bandaid on it everyday and's almost gone (knock on wood)!

 You love imaginary play and coloring; you like sitting still and usually balk at any sort of prolonged physical activity. But, I recently took you and Sam cross country skiing. You were a natural! As soon as you realized you were gifted in this arena, you took off. It's not very often that you are faster than Sam at running, biking or skating, and you were thrilled that you had found your sport.

We are trying to harness that determination for good instead of evil...and most days, I think we do all right.
You are growing up into quite a little girl. Although you are little, you and I already have a complicated mother-daughter relationship. (I suppose all moms and daughters' relationships are complicated in some way). You and I can push each others' buttons in a way the boys in our house cannot fathom and sometimes Dad has to intervene so we can both take a time out. But, we also have our fun girl times, too. The other day we went for a run "just us girls" around the block. We took a girls' trip up to Spokane to meet your new cousin Lucy and do a little shopping with Lala.You thrive on time spent just the two of us, whether it's reading together, making dinner, or shoe-shopping. I see how much you take after me and it makes me want to be a better me. I'll keep working on it.

Natalie Doris--our intense, fabulous daughter--happy, happy birthday. These last three years have been a wonderful adventure. Here's to a great 4th year of life.

Love, Mom and Dad

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Confessions of a slacker mom: sleeping in

Aside from the all-too-rare weekend away, Joe and I haven't slept past 7am since we got pregnant with Sam nearly 6 years ago. Their wake-up times are staggered with Henry getting up at 4 or 5 for an early morning feeding and the bigger kids getting up at 6:30 to get ready for school.

Last Sunday, I had a plan.

First, we set the big kids' alarm clock for 7:45am. We found that if we don't set it, they get suspicious about why their alarm clock is not going off and then wake up extra early. This was enough to get them some extra sleep but not arouse suspicion.

Second, feed baby a huge bottle at his morning feeding.

Third--and this is the key--set the Kindle outside our bedroom door.

Fourth--also key--LOCK the bedroom door.

At 7:45 am, we were still in bed and heard Sam and Natalie's alarm go off, followed by the pitter-patter of little feet to our bedroom door. Instead of rousting us from our nice warm bed, they stopped at the locked door.

Natalie: Oh, look. I found the Kindle!
Sam: Well, that was easy.
Natalie: I know! It was just right here.

They spent the next 30 minutes watching cartoons while Joe and I dozed until Henry woke up. Glorious!

It only took me 6 years to figure this out.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Natalie's music video

She is a born performer...and bilingual, too (although I am not sure what language she is singing in...Minion, perhaps?)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

they call him "C chord Sam"

Sam had a ukulele lesson last night and learned his first chord--C.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Off in Lala-land

Lala and Papa Dan have been in Boise for the current session, but have traveled home nearly every weekend. Last weekend, Lala decided she wasn't completely exhausted with all of her driving and squeezed in a day trip to Spokane to see Team Eddy. Joe and I weren't able to go, but Natalie who loves all things Lala was overjoyed to join the impromptu road trip.

Lala and Natalie had lots of time on the road to have deep conversations..or as deep as one might have with a nearly four year old granddaughter. Lala often feels like we are too hard on Natalie and expends a good deal of energy encouraging her. On the ride home, Lala repeatedly told Natalie that she was a good girl, a smart girl and she could do anything she put her mind to.

Confident she had drilled her message into Natalie's brain, she texted me and asked me to have Natalie summarize their conversation in the morning.

So, the next morning, when Natalie rolled out of her bed and climbed into our bed for a quick snuggle, I asked her.

Me: How was your trip to the Eddys? Did you have a good time with Lala?
ND: Of course. (That's her newest catch-phrase).
Me: Lala said she told you something important. What did she say?
ND stops to think for a few seconds.
ND: She said she is getting very old.

Glad those words of wisdom weren't wasted, Lala.

Friday, January 17, 2014

confessions of a slacker mom: multi-tasking

The success of life as a working--well, any mom, really--hinges precariously on the ability to multi-task. I've heard people argue there is no such thing as multi-tasking, saying you just switch quickly from one task to another. To those naysayers: I challenge you to watch me cook dinner while nursing Henry and helping Sam tackle his homework.

Time is short and my to-do list is I get a lot of practice at this particular skill.

Joe has been out of town on business for most of this week. Instead of heading home with three tired, hungry and crabby kids, I decided to change up the afterschool tedium with a trip to the Honda dealership. Our Odyssey has this newfangled sensor that lights up ominously as it counts down how much oil life you have left. I'm not sure what happens when it gets to zero--it might just stop all together--but I don't want to find out. Anyway, the sensor had been warning me for several days, so we headed in for an oil change.

The geniuses at the Honda service department have crafted a waiting room that is a mother's Nirvana. There is a glass-walled children's play area complete with slide, legos, chalk boards and a TV. Just outside this room, there are complementary snacks and juice boxes. For adults, there are comfy couches with magazines and another TV. I've been much more dedicated to car maintenance since we started going to the Honda service department.

I was enjoying some peace, if not quiet, watching Sam and ND climb on the slide while I meticulously handed Henry one Cheerio at a time. (He is mastering his pincer grasp and shows his displeasure when you hand him too many). I settled back in my chair...

...and then my cell phone rang.

It was in its usual spot--an undisclosed location buried deep in my purse under wipes and snacks, receipts and forms...and some matchbox cars. I rummaged and rummaged and managed to grab it just before it went to voicemail.

"Hello? Dr. Kaufman?"
"Uh, this is Jen."

It was the Interventional Radiologist, calling me about one of my patients. Whether it was the full moon or Murphy's law or pure dumb bad luck, all hell broke loose the moment Dr. IR started to speak.

(Later, I would describe it to Joe as "your kids went, I believe, the term is 'bat-shit crazy' today").

While Dr. IR is trying to explain to me just how much contrast my patient will need during his procedure, Sam and Natalie start chasing each other down the hall, running away from the wonderful waiting room toward someone's no-longer quiet office, screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs, circling the elderly janitor's cart and weaving in between her legs.

While I'm picturing them causing her to fall and break a hip, I am trapped in the play area with Henry clutching my pant leg. I am simultaneously explaining my plans for my patient to Dr. IR while shooting my I Mean Business face at my older offspring.

When this fails to corral them, I change to Angry Mother Eyes, which is accompanied by gesticulating widely, which most parents would recognize as the Time Out is Imminent Dance.

(Meanwhile, I am having a detailed and interesting conversation with Dr IR about optimizing renal function with IV hydration and bicarbonate).

As soon as Dr IR says good-bye, I hiss "Stop that!" to Sam and Natalie while dialing my office to update my assistant and my patient. I click the end button on my phone and magically, my children transform into the two well-behaved delightful beings they were just minutes before.


Sometimes, multi-tasking is a necessity...but it is very exhausting.

Maybe I should have just asked if he could call me back.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

from the mouths of babes: Civil Rights

Sam brought home a picture he'd colored of Martin Luther King, Jr, asleep in his bed with a dream bubble over his head. In the dream bubble, there are 5 multi-ethnic people holding hands and smiling.

Me: Sam, tell me about your picture.
Sam: Well, it's that guy with the dark brown skin who lived a long time ago and then he died know...
Me: What?
Sam: Well, you know...he did that stuff.
Me: His name was Martin Luther King, Jr and he...? (prompting)
Sam: Right. He wanted dark brown skin people to be able to ride the bus. Did you know that if there were a lot of dark brown skinned people on the bus and white people wanted to ride it, the dark brown skinned people would have to get off the bus? Even if they got there first??
Me: I know. It wasn't fair.
Sam: And there was a dark brown lady who didn't want to get off the bus so then all the people wouldn't ride the bus and the bus company...boy, they lost a lot of money!
Me: Her name was Rosa Parks. She was very brave and didn't give up her seat.
Sam: And she got arrested!!

So, we talked about being brave and doing the right thing and how smart Martin Luther King, Jr was to recognize that God made us all special and we should all just love each other.

Then, Natalie pops her head up from behind the couch, where she's been coloring the whole time.

Natalie: AND (pausing for emphasis and her eyes wide and earnest)...if you get on the wrong bus, you should get off. Well, first you should tell the school bus driver so he doesn't get confused.

Good advice all around.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

and that's the news from Casa Kaufman

It's been a chaotic few weeks at Casa Kaufman. We celebrated like crazy throughout Christmas and came out happy and exhausted on the other side of Epiphany. We've survived our first week back to normal life and thought we should just give you a quick update on normal life since I haven't been a very dedicated blogger lately.
  • Life with three kids is crazy busy and one of our New Year's resolutions is to tackle some major organization projects including establishing a chore routine to remedy our life of messiness. Another is to reestablish a monthly budget of some sort now that all of our funds are disappearing in either childcare or tuition. And, finally, my major resolution is to start running again. So, I announce it here in public that on October 11, I will be running (and finishing) the Lewis-Clark half marathon...and Teenie will be running with me. Hopefully, we will be able to rope my long time running buddy and experienced half-marathoner, Elaine, into doing it with us. Wish us luck!
  • We got a family membership to the Aquatic Center with the goal that we would spend more time as a family being active. On most Fridays after school, I load up the kids and we play in the water until Joe gets there to join us. (Some day, we hope that one of us will swim laps while the other one plays with kids, but that hasn't happened yet.) Then, we eat a picnic dinner and head home to bed.
  • Sam is thriving in kindergarten. He is starting to read short words and I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I have to be careful not to push it too hard or else he just gives up and guesses, but I think we'll have quite a reader in a few months. While I'm so excited about his reading, he's more excited about the fact that he has his first loose tooth.
  • Natalie is....mellowing in her old age? The last 3-4 weeks with this girl have been delightful. Her tantrums are shorter and we are seeing more of her fun, creative side all the time. She still loves imaginary play that involves bossing us around...and still loves bossing us around in real life, too. We are crossing our fingers that this change will be long term; our dentist told us she has to give up the binky next month when she turns four.
  • Henry continues to be his happy self. He can say "Mama" with gusto, although about half the time, it comes out as "Emma, Mama", like he has to roll it around on his tongue first. He is standing independently for a few seconds at a time and starting to cruise.
And that's the news from Casa Kaufman...where the children are growing and the parents try to be above average.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Altmiller Christmas

We'd decided not to exchange gifts at Altmiller Christmas. When we told Grandma A the plan, she informed us she'd already made gifts for the kids and would be ignoring our gift policy. When you are the Grandma, you get to do what you want to do.
She finished Ellie's baby quilt and made the kids each their own pillow.
Ellie's spells her name out. She had to lay on it right away.

ND's is a sparkly lavender butterfly pattern with a lace border. Can you tell she loves it?

Grandma with the all the Co-op Kids

Grandma had a special present for Noah this year. My dad gave Grandma A this cookie jar when he was a little boy about Noah's age. I remember getting cookies out of this jar every time we'd go to Grandma's house. This year, she passed it along to Noah. It was pretty sweet and there a few tears. (Noah's full name is Noah Jonathan, after his Papa Jon).

The kids were getting a little stir crazy so Joe took a handful of them to the park for awhile while Grandma A and Amy did the dishes. Afterwards, we had hot cocoa to warm up and made a few salt dough ornaments.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Best. Turkey. Ever!

Altmiller Christmas, held the Saturday following Christmas, didn't quite go as planned. Poor Lincoln got very sick with croup and was flown to Sacred Heart where he was admitted to the ICU. We thought about moving Christmas to the Eddys, but Mandi and Jerry, of course, didn't want to do much until Lincoln was better (he's back home now and recovering) and told us to go ahead without them. So, it was a mellow day and we missed them a lot.

But I made a turkey dinner anyway.

It was the best turkey I have ever made so I am posting all about it here for bragging rights so I can remember how to cook it again next year.

We typically have a smoked turkey that Papa Kaufman makes. His turkey is so delicious that we usually turn up our noses at regular turkey. But, because of my usual procrastinating ways, I failed to get him this turkey to smoke and so there I was, three days before Christmas, madly googling "easy turkey", "simple roast turkey", and "best places to order cooked turkey".

I made a rub and rubbed it under the skin:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped*
  • 4 teaspoons onion, minced
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • I stuffed the turkey with one lemon, one lime and one onion. Next time, I would pierce the citrus fruit a couple of times with a fork. Then I tied the legs together with string. I put a couple of cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan and put it in the fridge overnight.

    In the morning, I sprinkled the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper then put the turkey in at 475 for 20 minutes. Then I decreased the oven to 250 and cooked it for 20 minutes per pound (about 6 hours all together).

    The turkey was delicious and the dark meat was falling off the bone. When I got up at 4 am to put it in the oven, I forgot to cover it in my sleep deprived state so it got a little extra brown. Fortunately, Henry woke me up at 4:45am and I covered it at that point. If I had to do it over again, I would not cook it as long and I would uncover it for the last 20 minutes of cooking so the skin was crispier (per the recommendations of a blogger. As you know, everything on the Internet is true. You can't put it on the Internet if it's not true).

    *The thyme spawned a lot of puns with my clever sister. "Are you sure you have thyme to cook this dinner?" "You know, I always feel like I'm running out of thyme, too." "It's thyme to carve the turkey now." The puns are easier to handle if you drink a Tom and Jerry's while you make dinner.

    Friday, January 03, 2014

    Our Christmas

    Christmas miracle of miracles...everyone slept in until almost 8am on Christmas Day. As luck would have it, we'd made plans to go to Christmas morning Mass at 9:30am, so I had to try to rouse the troops early. They only had to hear "time to open presents!" two or three times before they got out of bed.

    Fortunately, Santa remembered to bring gifts for all the kids this year.

    Then we rushed off to Mass. After Mass, we headed to Spokane to spend a few days with Team Eddy, Papa Dan and Lala.

    Thursday, January 02, 2014

    Kaufman Christmas Eve

    We celebrated Christmas Eve with the Kaufmans (sans Teenie & Steve AKA the Birch Court Bunch--they were in Boise this year). I had to work half a day so Joe was home with the kiddos and I met them at Fred and Dori's. Poor Natalie woke up Christmas Eve morning at 5am, ready to open presents. Poor us--we had to deal with the aftermath that came along with the realization she'd have to wait until later that day.
    What a great timer shot! Everyone is looking at the camera!

    Mom K surprised me with gelato for dessert. I felt very loved. Henry thought it was delicious.

    Uncle Jeff and Henry

    Natalie Doris dancing to the music, wearing her new PJs

    Joe and Phil

    Henry was fascinated by the instruments and tried to play along.
    After a great dinner, dessert and present opening, there was (of course) music. All too soon it was time for little kids to go to bed so Santa could come (and go to bed...this Santa was pretty exhausted).