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Apr 14, 2014

The kids lately

Blogging feels like a chore lately, but I can't quite let it go.  I feel an obligation to our family history. I am sure I will be glad for the effort down the road when I am reading our memory books with fondness.  Perhaps this is how I will become the grandma who is kind to mothers struggling in grocery stores and wrestling children at church.  "I remember those days...let me give you a hand." Yep, that's how I'm going to be when I grow up.

Speaking of growing up...these children of mine get bigger every day.  I'm not quite sure how that happens, but the boys' pants are too short and the girls' hair is below their shoulders, which is an obvious mark of the passage of time.  Oh, and Garry had a birthday, and mine is coming up, and those days surely affirm a fast-spinning globe, because there is no way I'm old enough to be this old.

So. Here's a little run-down on our hooligans, from first to last.

Zach is now 5'6" tall. Yep.  Four inches taller than his mother and taller than all of his friends. OK, not all of them. But seriously: tall! He recently attended the Priesthood session of LDS General Conference with Garry, and then enjoyed their now-traditional burger and shake after the meeting.  Zach is quite fashion-conscious, and recently spent a month and a half of paper route money on the perfect pair of Nike shoes (which were on clearance).  Zach has some good guy friends (one in particular), although I sure wish the silly girls at school would leave him alone! The other night Zach was struggling with a math assignment full of quadratic equations.  I sat down to help him and he explained the concepts to me. Then he realized he knew what he was doing and finished quickly. He's a smart kid but doesn't believe in himself all the time.



Tyler is doing a science fair project that studies people's favorite color of soda pop.  After pack meeting last week, he collected data from most of the attendees when they tasted a variety of colors of soda (all lemon-lime, dyed with food coloring). He's also excited that he is finally invited to a birthday party. We'd really love for some boys to move into the neighborhood so he'd have more friends! Tyler continues to be very sensitive and affectionate. He is also excited to start making plans for middle school. He's a little smarty pants and is happy about his math and reading placements next year.  He wants to join the band.  I'm trying to convince him to take up the piano again. This week Tyler was my date to a high school musical (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and we had a great time together.



Gavin is ecstatic to be running in the Landsharks running club. It's finally his turn! Having practices and meets on Monday is a real pain in the neck (Tyler has scouts and Zach has swing dance lessons on Monday afternoons, too), but it's only for a few weeks. Gavin's reading is improving, although I don't spend as much time reading with him as I should.  He is a very conscientious student and loves to please his teacher.  During General Conference we pulled out a big box of LEGO blocks that has been in storage.  He really likes building with them, so I'm glad we have held onto them. This photo says so much about Gavin: his adoration for snow boots, his desire to take stuffed animals outside, his need to snack outdoors, and his dirty face are all quintessential Gavin traits.



Miss Alexis has been very spunky lately.  Lots of attitude and drama...so she's taking naps sometimes and going to bed early sometimes...more sleep is always the answer, right?  Lexi loves playing with her friends.  Having Lucy and Kaela in the neighborhood has been so fun for her, and having Lucy sleep over while her mom had a baby was extra fun!  She continues to love school and is making progress on her reading and writing.  She loves to color, play "family" (it was called "house" when I was little), dress up her dolls, and ride her bike.  Oh, and fix her hair.  I am not allowed to do that unless it is Sunday, and even then she is very particular.  It's not a battle I fight anymore.



Kate. Oh Kate. She makes me laugh every day. Her latest adventure is wearing "unnerwears" and refusing a diaper. So far she is 100% consistent; she always pees in the potty and she always poops in her pants. So we are going through bags of M&Ms...her reward for successes and my consolation for her accidents. Also, Kate is obsessed with wearing leotards. We have four, which last about 2.5 days because she can't keep anything clean.  I only do laundry on Mondays, so when they are all dirty she asks approximately 67 times if her leotards are clean.  Last time I pulled one from the dryer, she put it on immediately, wore it the rest of the day, overnight, and all the next day until she spilled cereal on it (afternoon snack...haha). Leotard 2.0 emerged shortly thereafter. Just as a side note, leotards and unnerwears are a tricky combination, but the bike helmet she wears all the time is an awesome accessory.





There's not much to report about the grown-ups in the house.  This was Garry's super busy week at work (end of quarter). He continues to lose weight, which is why I gave him a new shirt and slacks for his birthday. And also he has spectacular bed-head.


I'm practicing accompaniment for an Easter song that a friend is singing at church. My resolve to avoid dairy is weakening since my skin hasn't improved one tiny bit in two months, except that I am losing weight, and breaking into my stash of smaller jeans is a great motivator. (Sorry, no pictures; she who holds the camera chooses the subjects.)

So there ya go: the Bartles lately.

Apr 6, 2014

Gone but not forgotten

Here are some updates on our life...they have passed, but I still want to remember them.

1. Tyler's cast is gone!  After six weeks, his arm is free!  He is still wearing a wrist guard at school, but not at home.  He is slowly improving mobility and flexibility.  It's nice for him to have clean hands and to shower unobstructed.




2. My dad visited! In the middle of a business trip to Denver, he ventured down to Colorado Springs to spend some time with us.  He stayed with the kids while Garry and I attended parent/teacher conferences, and then treated the whole family to a yummy dinner at Olive Garden. Then we rounded out his visit with several rousing rounds of Don't Eat Pete, a Granny & Gramps tradition with our kids.  Fun times!  Thanks for coming, Dad!




3. We got several inches of snow this week after Mother Nature teased us with spring weather. I was desperate not to lose my tulips to the cold like I did last year. I covered the three-inch sprouts with blankets several nights in a row and they look hardy and happy! 



4.  We painted our bedroom, four months after buying new bedding.  Good-bye green!  Hello, gray!  Love it.



5.  Spring Break came and went. We (all the kids, plus Garry and me--he had the whole week off) went to the zoo one fine day.  Other highlights: a movie at the dollar theater, playing at Fox Run Park (saw some friends from BYU that we haven't seen in 12 years, which makes us O-L-D), seeing Gavin's art work (the lizard) at the school district office building, Zach dying the milk Easter colors, and lots of playing with friends and relaxing.  It was mostly a good break, but I was more than ready to send everyone back to school.









6. Garry had a birthday. Yay for Daddy!



7. We carried on the tradition of eating crepes for breakfast on the Sunday morning of LDS General Conference.



8. This event is perhaps the most fitting for the post's title. Christa Johnson, a sweet friend from my high school days, passed away this week after a four-year battle with breast cancer. A few years ago, when I was sick with my last pregnancy, Christa and I reconnected through our blogs and chatted online sometimes. We joked about PICC lines and Zofran and living on the couch. I got better...but she didn't. She died at age 35, leaving behind a loving husband and four children.  I am heartsick for that little family.  The tragedy hits close to home.  A couple of years ago I met Christa and some other friends for lunch.  I'm glad for that fun memory for her, even if the picture we took is particularly unflattering of me....


So here's to memories, the good and the bad, that fill my heart today.  Cheers!

Apr 4, 2014

ADD Housework

If you give a mom some housework, she'll probably start in the kitchen.

When she stands in the kitchen, she'll see a pile of mail to sort.

When she finishes sorting the mail, she'll throw a pile of paper in the recycling bin.

When she sees the recycling, she'll want to take out the trash.

After she takes out the trash, she'll come inside and wipe her feet.

Seeing the dirty rug will make her shake it out, and then she'll need to sweep.

When she gets the broom from the closet, she'll need to straighten the pantry so she can shut the door again.

When she shuts the door, she'll find a pile of paint supplies that need to be put away.

When she puts away the drop cloths, she'll remember that she needs to uncover the tulips.

Uncovering the tulips will make her see that a kitchen towel is in the dirt.  She'll need to put it in the laundry basket.

When she puts it with the laundry, she'll straighten up the bedroom.

When she straightens the bedroom, she'll glance in the mirror.  She'll see she forgot to put on make-up.

When she's standing in the bathroom, she'll find an extra paint brush.

She'll take another load of paint to the garage.  

In the garage she'll see the dirty floor and want to put that chore on Saturday's list.

She'll walk to the kitchen to write it down.

Standing in the kitchen will remind her that she hasn't eaten lunch.

She'll make a green smoothie. 

Making a mess will remind her do the dishes.  

When she collects breakfast dishes from the table, she'll find a pile of Legos on a chair.

Seeing the Legos will remind her that she saw some other Legos in the van.

She'll walk outside to get them.

When she's in the van, she'll find a pile of dirty socks, three gloves, a coat, two pairs of shoes, and a shirt.

She'll put away the shoes and clothes in a room downstairs.

When she's downstairs, she'll find a load of laundry from four days ago that still isn't folded.

She folds them and puts them away.

The laundry includes a stack of dish towels, so she'll walk back to the kitchen.

And chances are, when she's back in the kitchen, 

She'll forget while she's there and start over.
....

P.S. If you haven't read If You Give a Moose a Muffin, the book from which this post was derived, you should.

Apr 2, 2014

April letters

Dear Vitamix,

You are almost 16 years old (wedding gift, baby!) but still blend like a champ.  I must confess that every time I flip your high speed switch I'm afraid your motor will burn out.  It's not that you are showing signs of impending doom.  I just don't want to fork out the cash to replace you anytime soon. Although the thought of a red Vitamix is a little compelling, please just keep up the good work.

Green smoothie lover
...
Dear cell phone,

It was super sad when I dropped you and your screen shattered.  I think I just dropped you one too many times.  The good news is that Zach's phone is currently unused, so I have a back-up for the four days it will take to get a new phone.  I might have had a coronary without a texting app. The bad news is that I didn't think about assuming Zach's phone as my own until we had already purchased a new one.  Oh well.

Butterfingers
...

Dear Elder Jeffrey R. Holland,

LDS General Conference is this weekend, and you always give the best talks.  Yes, yes you do. President Uchtdorf is a close second, so toe the line and get 'er done.  Apostles are competitive, right?

A member
...
Dear Dollar Tree,

The girls and I perused your wares because Lexi earned a prize for staying in her own bed ten nights in a row (monumental, I tell you!).  She couldn't find the toy she wanted, so I talked her into buying silver flip-flops.  This was a two-birds-one-stone killing, since she's been begging for sandals and I don't want dollar store junk floating around my house.  But maybe they are junk and I'll have to buy flip-flops anyway.  {Editor's note: they broke the first day.  Haha.}

The mom
...
Dear bedroom,

I love love love the new gray color on your walls, which complements our gray-and-purple bedding. Ahh....it's nice to have such a soothing bedroom setting, which inspires a calm reaction when I find Kate snacking on cereal, grapes, and milk in my bed.

Resident
...
Dear doors,

I've been painting you since our bedroom project ended.  I am growing weary of the effort, but your new bright white sheen makes me oh-so-happy.  I wish I had the money and stamina to paint every room in the house.  Five or six years of the same old walls means it's time for a change, right? #firstworldproblems

Discontent
...
Dear Creepy Man,

Remember back in our Beaverton days when you stalked me?  I was taking pictures at all the youth dance festival practices, and you followed me wherever I went, even building to building.  Then, when I practiced the organ after mutual, you came and incessantly asked me questions and positioned your body way too close for my comfort.  You finally left me alone when my bishop talked to your bishop and your wife.  I haven't thought about you for years, but when I dropped off my son at his dance festival practice tonight, the memories came flooding back.  It's funny, though...I don't remember your name.

The stalkee
...
Dear children of mine,

Cereal is not to be removed from the kitchen.  Ever.

You may not eat it in a bowl.  You may not eat it in a hole.  You may not eat it in my bed.  You may not pour it on your head. You may not crunch it on the stairs.  You may not spill it everywhere!  I do not like your Trix and Puffs.  To tell the truth, I'm quite fed up!

Dr. Mom
...
Dear Cub Scouts,

Thank you for running out of time to bake all of the cookie dough you made.  Mmmm...more for me.

Cheater cheater dairy eater
...
Dear visiting teachees,

You should know that nearly every person I have visit taught in the last few years has moved away while in my care.  I'd like to think it's not my fault, but maybe it is, so beware.

Your VT
...
Dear April Fools Day,

I only pulled a prank on one person but it was hilarious (at least to me).  While on the way to pick up a friend at the airport, I sent a text to her saying I got a speeding ticket.  She sent a very empathetic response, and then I told her I was just kidding and I'd be at the curb in a minute.  We laughed.  

Prankster, apparently
...
Dear leotards,

You are Kate's favorite things in the world.  She hates clothing of all kinds except you.  I guess something snug and soft is all her sensitive little self can handle.  Sometimes she will consent to wearing regular clothing on top of you.  Sometimes.  Her obsession doesn't bother me too much except that we still have some really cold weather around here!  And diapers are sure a pain when she's wearing a leotard.  The question is whether I should buy ten more of you, or make do with the three we have. Thoughts?

Also: who in the world came up with the word "leotard"?

The mom cultivating creative fashion statements in her children
...
Dear Walmart,

I love love love that you price match, although I have become that lady in the checkout line.  Oh well.  Getting five gallons of milk for ten bucks and church clothes for Zach the same store is priceless.  Even if Kate screams, "I HATE BUTTER" the whole time I'm in the store.

Shopper
...

Dear minivan,

I am sooo sorry I neglected your malfunction side door for so long.  It was one of those "we'll fix it later when we're rich" situations so we have just dealt with the door that only shuts with special care.  Nine months later, when the locking mechanism on MY door malfunctioned, we decided to have both doors inspected.  It turns out mine was an easy (expensive) fix, but yours seems to be unfixable by our regular mechanic, since a pencil and a plastic straw were wedged up in your electronic gears or sensors or whatever.  Every day that we waited to fix it, the problem worsened. Dang it. 

The driver
...
Dear windshield, 

We also replaced you this week, and the crack that has been growing for five years is gone! Woohoo!  The girls even behaved themselves where we had to wait, right near the entrance to the shop.  Good thing no one else waited, because we monopolized all seven chairs.

The lady with two kids
...
Dear underwears,

Kate loves to wear but does not want to sit on the potty...except for today.  Please keep motivating her to continue this lovely trend.  If you do, I'll buy more for Lexi because both girls have the same size bum.

Much love--The diaper changer

Mar 30, 2014

Washing the dishes

When Garry and I had been married about 18 months, we moved into an old, small apartment on BYU campus. Our new digs boasted cinder block walls, industrial grade carpet, and closets without doors.  A bonus: no dishwasher.

Our life circumstances were in no way unique, but as full-time students and part-time employees, we felt busy and stressed. When we weren't working or studying, we just wanted to relax. This mentality led to a sink full of dirty dishes.  Neither of us liked washing them and we gradually let them stack up. After a week (at least) we had a pretty big mess on our hands. That's when our home teachers wanted to visit. Every Mormon on the planet probably cleans the house (at least the visible living areas) a bit before a home teaching appointment, right?  In order to avoid some embarrassment, we stacked up all of those plates and bowls and cups and pots and pans...and hid them in the oven. That's right. The oven. That way no one else would know our dirty little secret.  It was quite satisfying at first, but pretty soon the facade of cleanliness gave way to guilt. So, finally, we started washing the dishes.  It took quite a while to wash and dry and put everything away, but after that we never got too far behind on the dishes.

Today I shared this story during Primary sharing time.  As I did, I pulled out lots of dirty, sticky dishes and displayed them on a table.  Some had fresh maple syrup dripping, some were covered with ketchup and mustard, and some had the remnants of sandwiches, pasta, and rice.  I had cups with crusty milk in the bottom or green smoothie on the sides.  I displayed a bowl and a casserole dish leftover from German pancakes, and a small frying pan from the omelet Garry made this morning. I also placed a big handful of dirty silverware among the dishes.  The kids gave lots of "gross!" and "ewww!" exclamations as I perfected my little display.

When I got to the oven part of the story, I stacked up all the dishes and put them in a plastic drawer I had brought along.  When I closed the full drawer, the kids were shocked!  Some even had their hands over their mouths.  They couldn't believe the crazy thing I had done, especially because I had really put dirty dishes in an oven before.

That's when I asked the group what dirty dishes had to do with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Hands went up quickly (even in Junior Primary, where the oldest kids are seven).  The kids drew the parallel I was looking for: dirty dishes are like our sins, and the Atonement provides a way for us to be clean again.  We talked about our responsibilities in the repentance process (we have to do work to receive forgiveness) and also that repentance isn't possible without Jesus' help (without soap, our efforts are pointless).  We talked about the need to repent (wash our dishes) every single day. Sometimes we have larger and more painful sins (big, dirty dishes, like the mixing bowl and casserole dish) that we can't wash ourselves. Our bishop can help us overcome those struggles.

I shared another real-life story to make this point.  Quite recently, Zachary had dish duty at our house.  He steadfastly refused to complete the chore, even though we have a dishwasher!  With a family of seven, the dishes stack up very quickly, and after a few days, he faced a literal mountain of dirty dishes.  He was very overwhelmed.  Wouldn't you be?


One day while he was at school, wanting to help with the work but not take it away entirely, I washed all of the pots and pans. When he came home that night, the mountain was smaller and the task more possible.  While a bishop can't actually do the scrubbing, he makes the repentance process possible in more serious situations.

That's when I invited a few children to wash some dishes.  I dumped a few pitchers of water in the same drawer I had used as my "oven," squirted some soap in the tub, and offered a sponge.  While the three kids took turns washing a dish, I showed some pictures of Book of Mormon scenes that represented a person or groups of people who had significant repentance experiences.

My favorite story on the subject is that of the group of Lamanites who converted to the gospel and thereafter called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or the people of Ammon.  They had been ferocious warriors in the Lamanite army and had spent much of their lives slaughtering the Nephites.  When they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, they were sorry for all they had done and underwent what must have been a very difficult repentance process.  As a token of their covenant not to fight anymore, they buried their weapons of war in the ground.  I love that story, partly because of the physical, symbolic act they took to remind them of their desire to be clean.

As each Primary child cleaned a dish today, he or she held it up for all to see.  The dish was shiny and bright.  The kids were thrilled.  I bore my testimony about the Atonement and the Savior's gift of repentance.  I also challenged the children to think about repentance every time they helped their parents wash the dishes.  That's a symbolic reminder they can see every day of their lives.

Mar 21, 2014

100 laughs

At our spring Parent/Teacher conferences this week, we received a fun collection of Gavin's work from the last quarter. I decided to post a sample of his writing, some of which is very funny! Gavin was quite enthusiastic about the 100th day of school and its related projects and assignments. We got a big kick out of his responses.




If I had $100.00 I would buy "a haws for my famaly."
  

I want 100 "dolurs (dollars)."
I don't want 100 "farts."
I would eat 100 "piyes (pies)."
I wouldn't eat 100 "peas."
Can you tell Gavin's favorite color is green?
Green is an especially good color for noxious gas, apparently.



I wish I had 100 "peesis (pieces) uv gum."
I wish I had 100 "sotas (sodas)."
I wish I had 100 "tette (teddy) bears."
But I wouldn't want 100 "toots."
He's a little obsessed with bodily functions.

This one just made me laugh.
It doesn't make sense unless you know it's about shadows.


"Theegs (things) that are solid blok lighet. You need lighet and somthing to blok it and fall on it."
You can see he drew his bed on the left and a window on the right.

On this one, he drew a picture of his bunk bed on the left and himself running on the right.


"I like to moov by doing landsharks (a running club that he hopes to join soon).
It helps me moov by running.  I sometimes stay home beakus I am sic."

This one is about the life cycle of a butterfly.


"Butterflys are all cinse (kinds) of culers (colors).  They start in a cristlis (chrysalis) and end as a butterfly.

Two years ago, Gavin's fine motor skills were way below average for his age, and now he has the best handwriting in his class.  We are sure proud of his progress.  He absolutely loves school.


Mar 17, 2014

Monday morning time

Waking up to Kate's face two inches from mine.

Breakfast: Green milk.
Zach hiding the cereal because it's his favorite.
Green lemon poppy seed muffins.

Reading and writing with Gavin...
in my bed.

Kate in underwear.
Her idea.
There goes today's out-and-about agenda.
Potty celebrations.

Happy numbers on the scale.  14!
At least today.

Laundry day.
Sheets too.

Lexi to school.
Green icing on her face.
Hair uncombed.
When did I become that mom?

Potty celebrations.

Sewing projects:
hem pants
fix a tear or two or five
scout badges

Disaster with a hem.
aka did it backwards.
Haha
except not.

Unwarranted and unexpected emotion
unrelated to the sewing
but following shortly after.
Seriously, girl.
Get a grip.

Cookie dough
and Little Einsteins.
5-4-3-2-1!

Pick up Lexi.
Library.
I am Malala in.
Jane Eyre and 
To Kill a Mockingbird
out.

Lunch.
Nuggets for the girls.
I hate this meal.

Anticipating:
Dolls.
Crayons.
Lucy.

Nap time.
Reading time.
Quiet time.

Steeling myself for 3:00.

pass it on!

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