Apr 22, 2014

The latest Landshark

It is FINALLY Gavin's turn to participate in the school's running club, the Landsharks. Oh, man. He has waited years!

From Zach and Tyler's first season in 2009, when he was just a wee lad.... our most recent in 2012...

...Gavin just could.not.wait for his turn to officially run with the Landsharks. Yesterday was the first race day, and he was pumped!  He ran a quick 50-meter dash with his fellow kindergartners, followed by a 400-meter race later on. He ran toward the front of the pack in both races, grinning and waving at spectators the whole way. Gavin had a great time!

Hopefully in the coming weeks I will have the presence of mind to take a nicer camera and really capture his running experience. Go Gavin!

cutest girls ever!

Oh, how I love these little beauties.

Lexi & Kate
Easter 2014

Free spirit

Well, folks...I have purchased my last box of diapers!  That's right. Kate is well on her way to big girl-hood, and I couldn't be happier. Actually, that's not true. I could be happier: I am still scrubbing undies more than I would like. Eventually Kate will decide that 100% toilet commitment is the way to go. Until then I am trying to be patient...but also savoring the (away-from) baby steps that are happening.

Kate makes me laugh every single day. I am charmed by all the leotards and tutus, and even the way she runs around the back yard in nothing but underwear.

The other day she took no fewer than 300 pictures with my phone.  Many were selfies, which crack me up.

Kate tells me every day that she hates naps (in those words), but she still takes them most of the time. Sometimes if she doesn't get a TV fix, she's impossible to deal with, so nap time is a token of sanity on hard days. But then I usually have to wake her up to pick up the boys from school. Sad. This first picture is on such a day. The one below happened on a day when she didn't take a nap, and then fell asleep on our after-school run. I left her in the car in the garage, and then after she woke up she was so ornery that I wrapped her in a blanket and she fell asleep again. She slept almost two hours, waking up at 6:00 p.m. Yeah, that wasn't the best.

Kate gets a lot of press on the blog, but I guess that's the nature of babies. I'm not sure I'll ever get to her memory book past age two, and the chances of this blog post making it to a book are small, but it's not because I don't want to capture my silly memories of this delightful little girl.

Easter in Primary

Now that I have a few weeks of experience, I have decided I like to teach sharing time.  Last time the object lesson with dishes was really fun. I think this week's Easter lesson turned out well, too. At the urging of my president, I am documenting the lesson here (you're welcome, Sandi).

I wanted the kids to learn about some of the things leading up to the Savior's death and resurrection, and to make the lesson interactive and meaningful. I wanted to teach doctrine and invite the Spirit. I think all of those things happened, so I consider the day a success.

In Junior Primary, I passed out word strips that said: (1) Triumphal entry; (2) Jesus prepares the sacrament; (3) Jesus washes the apostles' feet; (4) Garden of Gethsemane; (5) The crucifixion; (6) The tomb; and (7) Jesus shows his wounds.  In Senior Primary, I taped these papers under chairs, along with about a dozen papers with scriptures that corresponded to these seven events.

We talked about each event in order. The child with the word strip came to the front, read it to the group, and then looked at a table where I had displayed objects that correlated with each event. They chose the object and showed it to the group. In Senior Primary, the children came to the front and read the scripture verses, but in Junior, I summarized the stories. I also had pictures from the Church's online image gallery that I used to tell the stories. I asked questions and the kids gave some very thoughtful responses. We sang songs for each topic, as well.

Here is a summary of each discussion.

Triumphal Entry: The object was a plant, used to represent the palm leaves that believers waved as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem during the Passover.  I used this lesson as a reference for the story (which I obviously simplified), and displayed the picture below. We sang "Easter Hosanna" (Children's Songbook, 68). While the children sang the chorus ("Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the most high God!"), a few of them waved scarves in the air.

Jesus Prepares the Sacrament: The objects were a plate with bread and a cup of water. I told the story of the Last Supper, and how Jesus told his apostles to partake of bread and water to remember his body and blood. The children actually explained these things to the group when I asked them questions. They sang "The Church of Jesus Christ" (CS, 77). I showed this picture.

Jesus Washes the Apostles' Feet: Sandals and a towel symbolized this event. Not as many children knew the story, but they quickly understood its meaning--we can serve others as the Savior served his disciples. We talked about ways to serve each other, and then sang "As I Have Loved You" (Hymns, 308). The kids linked arms and swayed together as they sang.

Garden of Gethsemane: The object for this topic was a borrow of soap, which represents the gift of repentance made possible by Jesus' suffering in the garden. I used an example from this talk by Merrill J. Bateman (I remember sitting in the Marriott Center when he gave this devotional), that highlighted how the Savior took upon himself our sins one by one. I love that imagery. From this discussion we went straight into the next one without singing.

The Crucifixion: The children quickly picked the right object: a hammer and nails. I explained some of the events leading up to the crucifixion. I showed the picture below and we talked about some of the details of the story. I told them about the storms and darkness that happened both in Jerusalem and in America. Then the children sang, "To Think About Jesus" (CS, 71).

After this, we watched an excerpt from the video, "Finding Faith in Christ." The clip (from 19:20-22:53) depicts Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his "criminal" sentencing, and his death on the cross. The children were riveted to this sensitive portrayal of events and I think everyone was touched. We sang, "I Stand All Amazed" (Hymns, 193), and I wasn't the only one who was emotional.

The Tomb: A flat rock and a folded white pillowcase were the symbols for this story. The rock represented the stone rolled away from the entrance to Christ's burial tomb, and the pillowcase symbolized the folded napkin found within the empty tomb on the Sabbath. We sang, "Jesus is Risen" (CS, 70).

Jesus Shows His Wounds: I brought a statue (like this one) of the resurrected Christ as the object for this topic. It shows the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. We talked about Mary Magdelene seeing the risen Lord outside of the tomb, and others who saw Jesus, including the people in America documented in the Book of Mormon. A few weeks ago I gave a lesson on the resurrection, so we referenced that, as well. We sang, "Did Jesus Really Live Again?" (CS, 64). 

Then I shared my testimony of all the things we had learned and shared together. We closed by singing, "He Sent His Son" (CS, 34), which I think had more meaning after talking about Easter for 45 minutes.

This sharing time lesson wasn't perfect. The kids weren't always quiet and a technical glitch prevented us from watching the video in Senior Primary. Some of the scripture excerpts were too long to read and should have been summarized (Primary children aren't Young Women... sometimes I forget to shift my expectations). But overall, I think the spirit was present enough to make an impact. All of my studying certainly prepared me to have a more meaningful Easter, and I hope that at least one child or teacher benefited from that, as well.

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 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!

pass it on!

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