Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

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).

    Wednesday, January 01, 2014


    We started our twelve days of Christmas early and are still in the midst of celebrating. Man, this Christmas elf is tired! We kicked off the celebration with the annual Poxleitner Christmas party. There was enough snow to go sledding and we left Henry at the house with his grandparents and Ellea while we took the big kids to the tubing hill with their Uncles, Jeanene and Morgan. Afterwards, we joined the rest of the crew inside for games, homemade chicken noodle soup and the usual gift exchange.
    The Poxleitners always have awesome toys to play with whenever we visit. The kids love these blocks.

    Loretta and Henry

    Teenie and either Ben or Will. The Poxleitners have this "Ten Year" Club: one family member will turn 60, 40, 30, and 10 this year. So that means we are due for another baby. I call "Not It!" That means it's Teenie's turn. I think this picture is an omen. :) (Love ya, Teenie!)

    Donna and Morgan

    Joe and Fred with their Red Solo cups.

    Ben and Henry