Mar 30, 2008

Four months old

Gavin is four months old today! Each month we take a picture of him in the same spot on the couch with the same little teddy bear. It's amazing to see his growth from month to month. Here are links to one week, one month, two months, and three months! Wow.

Since starting the blog I haven't been as faithful in recording the little details about each of my kids. But I'm trying to be better. Here is the journaling I will include in Gavin's scrapbook about his fourth month:

Physical traits: This month you started wearing 6-9 month size clothes, and you really started looking like a little person instead of a baby. Your arms and neck were getting so strong, and toward the end of the month tummy time started to be pretty fun. You also drooled like crazy and loved sucking on your fists, fingers, and pacifier. You rolled over for the first time (tummy to back) on March 9. We still had to encourage you, and many times rolling over seemed like it happened by accident, but it was still fun to watch.

Little things I’ve noticed: You began to fall into a nice routine of sleeping, eating, and waking. You were learning to fall asleep on your own, take two or three naps, and rest for longer stretches at night (unless rowdy big brothers woke you up). Hooray! We discovered that you were a ticklish little boy – especially on the sides of your neck. Oh, how we loved to make you laugh! In general you were an extremely laid back and happy kid.

My favorite moments: Since returning from our trip to Mesa, I had been bathing you in the bathroom sink because it was so convenient. You barely fit in the sink, though, so during March you got your first bath in the big tub. At first you weren’t quite sure what to think, but the nighttime bath ritual soon became a favorite part of the day. You squealed and splashed and had the best time! Wrapping you up in your yellow ducky towel made you look awfully cute, too.

Stuff I've learned about you: This month you began to interact more with the world around you. You learned how to grasp onto objects like toys, blankets, and my hair, and you like to bat at toys that dangled in front of you. If we had the TV on, you would crane your neck around to see what was happening. I was thrilled to discover that your little digestive system developed enough to tolerate beans, peppers, and taco seasoning. I appreciated your flexibility and willingness to take a bottle each Monday during piano lessons and occasionally in the evening so I could go out.

Highlights: Your Oregon adventures continued with a trip to the zoo, the beach, OMSI (a science museum), and more parks. You were so content to ride in the stroller or in a wrap. This month you got another haircut! Your hair grew so fast – what fun. Granny sent you an adorable, handmade blanket and matching beanie. Your first Easter was March 23. You were oblivious to the festivities, but extremely cute during a photo shoot with your brothers. It was on Easter Sunday 2007 that Dad and I found out you were on the way. What a difference a year makes!

Mar 29, 2008

Ten Happy Things

This week I've been a bit of a grump {as if you couldn't tell}.

So to cure my out-of-season Scrooge-ness, I am making a list of happy things that happened this week. I might have to make this a regular bit until I find my rose-colored glasses,
which have been missing for a while.

Without further ado...

[1] Tyler telling me that "an ogre is a really ugly person, who, according to mythology, eats people." I kid you not.

[2] Popcorn popping {aka spring blossoms}

[3] Superhero dress-ups

[4] A filed income tax return

[5] Sun breaks sufficient for park play and bike rides

[6] Finding this hilarious blog and this post specifically

[7] Gavin being delightful during tummy time and rolling over lots

[8] Dinner with these fun friends

[9] Making copies for Smart Cookies and buying ribbon for a sewing project all by my little self

[10] Calling Gramps for his birthday {love ya, Dad}

Mar 28, 2008

What happened to Spring Break?

I am a worrier. My mother is a worrier, my sister is a worrier, and I'm sure this worry gene has been handed down through the generations. I worry about lots of stuff, like if I'm ruining my children by letting them watch too much TV slash not reading scriptures often enough. I worry that the weather won't cooperate on the day I want to attend the Tulip Festival. I worry that in January 2009, whoever is sworn into the Oval Office will be unappealing and ridiculous. And this week, I am worrying about summer vacation.

Why, you ask, am I worrying about this at the end of March? Because, my friends, we have just experienced the phenomenon called Spring Break.

Spring Break used to be utterly liberating. It was a week to sleep in, relax, hang out with friends, or maybe do something exciting like go on vacation. Those were all activities that ended abruptly in 1996 because I decided to attend a college without Spring Break, and until recently my offspring were not old enough to participate. This year, however, since I'm a grown-up with a child in the school system, the responsibility of making Spring Break utterly liberating falls squarely on my shoulders.

The trouble is, all of my notions of a fabulous Spring Break have flown out the window. My children do not sleep in (and one of them doesn't sleep through the night). They never relax. All their friends are out of town or hosting relatives, thus rendering them incapable of hanging out. Vacationing is nixed, as we are saving funds and vacation days for the hypothetical move. So Spring Break at our house has been one eternally long string of non-school days with nothing to do.

I used to have more imagination than this, and more energy to entertain my children. Oh, I have tried a few things -- a trip to the library, making sugar cookies from scratch, visiting the ducks, playing at the park when it wasn't raining, meeting Dad for lunch, watching movies -- but those things only last so long before someone (read: Mom) melts down and the fun is over. Afternoons are 65 hours long, with ninja fights and the resulting injuries erupting every 15 minutes or so. The casualties add up.

Today, as the rain beat on my window and I almost suffocated from the claustrophobia of it all, a vision of summer came to my mind. Summer: the months-long Spring Break! The prospect is daunting. What on earth will keep my boys occupied for three months???? There is the promise of sunshine, of course, and swimming lessons, perhaps. There's the chance of a new house with a yard big enough for a play structure, but that means having no friends. Will the days feel endlessly long like they have this week? I worry that they will, and that we won't survive.

If summer does, however, turn out to be as rough as Spring Break, my life will be simple. My only worry will be finding the correct freeway exit for the funny farm.

Mar 27, 2008

Dirty little secret

Remember the boys' escapades with food coloring last week? I mentioned that some extra effort would be required to remove the red stains from the floor tile grout. Yesterday, armed with Scrubbing Bubbles and a toothbrush, I decided to tackle the tile.

Instead of being satisfied with my work, I came up with a whole new problem.

To the untrained eye (situated five to six feet above the ground), our beige floor tile is held in place with chocolate brown grout. While that is a lovely thought, Garry and I really know that it's original amber color has just gotten so dirty that it appears brown. This is extremely disgusting when I stop and think about it. In spite of being a pretty good housekeeper with a particular fetish for clean floors, my kitchen tile is probably crawling with microbial unmentionables. Dirty floor grout is something I have relegated to the cobwebs of my brain, along with my soapy dish sponge and the mysterious spill in the back of the fridge. I don't disturb the cobwebs very often because I'm afraid that a big germophobic spider will eat me.

Yesterday, however, in my zeal to remove red food coloring from the grout, I also removed several layers of chocolate brown. I stopped trying to scrub out the red because I was so horrified that the clean amber grout was showing through for the first time in four years. Instead of removing a stain, I revealed my secret. My floor isn't really clean.

One option, of course, would be to clean the entire floor. I haven't calculated how many linear feet of grout exist in my kitchen, dining room, and adjoining bathroom, but I'm sure the number is close to a zillion. That's a lot of effort. Stanley Steemer would charge me about 300 bucks to professionally clean the tile. That's not happening. Maybe I should send out party invitations and force the guests into slave labor once they arrive. Twenty scrubbing toothbrushes would get the job done in no time. That actually sounds kind of fun, but then twenty people would know my secret and I'd have to dispose of them.

So I'm on a new quest. I need to re-brownify two spots on the grout. Please vote on which readily-available substance I should use:

(a) mud
(b) chocolate syrup
(c) compost
(d) brown crayon
(e) food coloring
(f) _________ (the write-in candidate)

In the meantime, a bright red dish towel sits on the floor next to the fridge, cleverly concealing the only spot of clean grout in the kitchen. Maybe I'll just forget to hang it up before our two house showings today. I can always blame that on the boys.

Mar 26, 2008

Sound bytes

Last night I woke with a start when I heard Zachary scream, "Mom!"

I responded to his urgent cry as quickly as I could in my drowsy, befuddled, can't-find-my-glasses-in-the-dark state. Zach was sitting cross-legged in bed with a smirk on his face. This was not the scene I expected after a 1:00 a.m. summons. Zach proceeded to tell me about a silly dream.

"I was entertaining Gavin in his car seat. Then I turned around. When I turned back, Gavin was upside down and standing on his tongue! Hahahahahaha!"

I tucked him in, he drifted back to sleep, and I went back to bed. Ten minutes later I heard Zach again. In his orneriest voice, he exclaimed, "Ty-LER! No! And don't put it in your pants again!" Apparently it was a night for vivid dreams.

Tyler has been equally humorous in recent days.

We heard this anecdote secondhand, but the comedy is classic. Tyler sits on the front row during Primary sharing time, which is a group meeting for the children at church. An adult presenting a lesson on repentance asked the children if they had ever made a mistake. Tyler eagerly raised his hand, then blurted out, " My Mom has!"

Now there's a child who has a good grasp on reality! Well, maybe not. (Read on.)

On Sunday at lunch Garry was joking that he might eat Tyler for his next meal. Tyler responded indignantly: "You can't do that! You can't eat people!"

Garry replied, "Well, why not?!"

Tyler explained, "Because it's illegal to eat people and plus, they're too salty!"

Garry then said, "Too salty? People are too salty?"

Tyler went on: "Yes, they're very salty and if you tried to eat them, you would die!"

Now Gavin doesn't have the language skills to contribute much to this post, but we are rather delighted with his squeals, shrieks, and other vocalizations. Gavin has developed a cold, however, so these fun sounds are now interspersed with congested breathing, coughs, and sneezes. Bummer!

Also on the speaking theme, I have just read two great books: "The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" and "The 5 Love Languages of Children," both by Gary Chapman. Each is about communicating love in a way that the loved one can best receive it. I highly recommend both books!

Mar 24, 2008

This one's for you, Grandma!

We've had a request for the individual poses we took of the boys yesterday. Considering the lack of great lighting and the kitchen wall backdrop, these are our favorites.

Mar 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter, everyone! We have had a wonderful day.

It all started at 6:00 a.m. when Zachary woke us up and asked if he could hunt for Easter eggs. We had to tell him that the Easter Bunny didn't hide eggs; he just hid baskets this year. Zach was a little disappointed, probably because he remembered the rockin' cousin egg hunt of '07, but he recovered quickly. Then, once downstairs (at the more reasonable hour of 7:00), he found his basket in the first place he looked. Tyler followed suit, and the boys enjoyed their spoils for quite a while.

Later in the day we colored hard-boiled eggs, but only because Zach and Tyler remembered that was an option. Man, the Easter Bunny was L-A-Z-Y this year!!

We had to get at least one pictures of the boys in their coordinating outfits that were so hard to find. Family pictures get harder the more kids we add, but we got this group shot and a few individuals that we like.

Tyler gave an excellent talk about the true meaning of Easter in Primary this afternoon. He was confident and articulate and had most of the talk memorized! We were very proud of him. We did a test run for the video camera last night. It isn't stellar, but you'll get the idea. Happy Easter!

Mar 22, 2008

By the numbers

Here's a breakdown of our activities since the last post:

Blonde-boy hair cuts administered: 3
Clothing items ironed: 16
Movies watched: 1
Easter baskets hidden: 5
Boxes rescued from storage unit: 2
Boxes displaced to rescue 2 boxes from storage unit: 32
Hours required for Operation Rescue Boxes: 2
Bikes retrieved from neighbor's garage: 3
House showings: 1
Minutes spent running on treadmill: 50
Garry's correct answers for online traffic school test: 47/52
Grocery shopping trips: 1
Times Tyler rehearsed his talk: 3
Minutes required to complete this post: 5

Good night!

Mar 21, 2008

Looking up and moving on

Today is a better day.

Garry let me sleep in a little, and despite a massive diaper blow-out on Gavin's part, we almost made it to the Smart Cookies field trip on time. The boys had a marvelous experience touring New Seasons Market (the perfect follow-up for our nutrition lessons).

Then we explored a new-to-us park that was just fabulous: Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Natalie invited us along on their outing and I'm so glad she did. It's ironic that just as we are (theoretically) leaving, we discover this gem of a park. Miles of paved paths curve through a forest of moss-covered trees. What an escape! Zachary and Tyler were thrilled to grab their maps, follow Alex the Navigator, and run pell-mell through the trees.

Though at times we were stressed about not having a visual on our kids, Natalie and I strolled behind them, engaged in lovely grown-up conversation and just enjoyed nature.

I really needed this today.

Being able to (1) get out of the house, (2) have a successful outing with the boys, (3) engage in physical activity, (4) get fresh air in my lungs, and (5) talk to a rational friend, really helped clear my head and calm my spirit. I'm starting to make plans and accept that we might be here a while -- and that's ok! So today, for this moment at least, the world is right side up and I can move forward. I can't ask for much more than that.

Mar 20, 2008

An ode to ruined pants

We just had a ceremonial tossing of the pants. Garry, Zachary, and I each threw our favorite pants into the big blue trash can in the driveway, never to see them again. "'Bye, pants!" we yelled as we stood in the pouring rain. And then we ran back inside.

There is a beginning to this story, and I know you want to read it.

I woke up today feeling lazy/apathetic/gloomy. Zach went to school, Garry went to work, I made the bed...and that's pretty much how far the day got before I gave up on it. Gavin was uncharacteristically cranky (read: mildly fussy) and wouldn't let me do anything without him in my arms. Therefore a workout got nixed. Still thinking I might be productive, I typed up long-overdue thank-you cards for Tyler's birthday presents. I became The World's Worst Mother when I made Tyler sign his name to said cards. This was his project while I taught a piano lesson from 9:45-10:15.

Upon completion of the lesson (oh, how I am ready to give up this profession), I discovered that Tyler had affixed four postage stamps to the kitchen table, plus two to the backs of the envelopes I had addressed. Will Goo-Gone ruin the finish on my table? I'm scared to find out.

Tyler had to empty the dishwasher as punishment for this infraction. During this task I caught him standing on the door of the dishwasher. He was using it as a stool, and the action made the whole appliance
l-e-a-n all skewampus-like out from under the counter. Great.

Next I exerted a great deal more effort than is usually necessary to get Gavin to take a nap. He finally relented. Then Tyler busied himself with a magnetic pattern board while I started editing photos for our Oregon scrapbook album. At one point Tyler ran off to the bathroom. I didn't notice how long he took to come back to the office, but shortly after he returned I realized he had made a pit stop in Gavin's room. (Nap Interruption #1.) I rocked Gavin some more. He fell asleep. Tyler had a time out. His screaming caused Nap Interruption #2. More rocking. Sleep again. Tyler and I took a lunch break.

Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. The baby cried. ARGH!!!! On the doorstep was our perky Realtor. Bless her little heart! She armed me with a new sheaf of flyers and a new sign rider announcing Saturday's open house. We haven't had a showing for a week. The mortgage situation in the news is bleak, the market is slow, yada yada yada.

When we picked up Zachary from school, his buddy Casey came home with us, too. This was pre-arranged, but I wasn't sure I had the stamina for an extra boy, no matter how happy his presence made my sons. Just before we hit the crosswalk, Zach and Casey were messing around and Casey pushed Zachary into the street, directly in front of a moving vehicle. I screamed -- very loudly -- as I watched the scene unfold, seemingly in slow motion. I lunged to reach Zachary, even though he was five to ten feet ahead of me. The woman driving the van slammed on her brakes, but still came within a foot of Zach's face. Those were some of the scariest seconds of my life.

The hour that Casey was with us was relatively calm (at least after the van incident), considering the time of day and the inevitable end-of-the-school day issues. Snacks and games kept the boys occupied. Casey left, Zach and Ty set up some video games, and I thought I'd have thirty minutes of calm.

Make that twelve.

A brawl erupted over whose turn it was, which woke Gavin yet again. Suddenly I had to get out of the house. We all piled into the van immediately. I'm not sure we even turned off the TV. We set about delivering Tyler's birthday thank-you cards. This went well. I decided to incorporate a trip to the pharmacy. Ha! Never incorporate a trip to the pharmacy on the fly, especially at 4:00 p.m. with three children.

In retrospect, things probably weren't as bad as I thought they were at the time. Zach and Tyler fought over the toy in the waiting area, they each got counted to three and earned a time-out. I slowly made my way up the line for my refill and the boys slid off, under, and around their time-out chairs, doing everything except actually sitting in them. Tyler kept stealing away from his seat to grab the toy table (yes, the entire table) and drag it to his chair. I kept stepping out of line and taking the table away (with Gavin and wallet in my other arm). Time-out didn't start until the boys sat in their seats. The ten minutes I was in line didn't provide the right opportunity for them to sit, apparently, so I found a chair after getting my prescription and waited. I waited ten or fifteen minutes. Tyler finally got the picture and served his time (four minutes) without moving so we could leave. Several adults in the waiting area were chuckling by the time we got out of there. They probably would have guffawed if they had realized I just purchased three months of birth control pills. I think the pharmacist should have given them to me for free.

I figured that as long as we were in this state, I was willing to brave one more errand. I wanted to check Target one more time for a shirt for Gavin to match the boys' Easter ties. One thing. In and out. I knew I was kidding myself, but I didn't care.

To make a long story short, Zach kept hiding from me while I browsed the baby section (Yes! I found a shirt!) and later while I paid. During the ten minutes we were in the store, Zach earned three jobs and Tyler earned one. I was cool, I was calm, and I was getting out of menial housework. Bonus.

Zachary got right to work when he got home. Garbage and recycling bins to the curb: check. Red bathroom scrubbed: check. Master bathroom toilet cleaned: check. He was a good little worker. I was proud of him. I let him watch Cyberchase in my room while I made dinner. Tyler was hysterical in his room because I made him clean it up. I was fast losing my ability to cope and had to escape somehow.

Garry got home and took over the ever-challenging dinner job so I could feed Gavin. I dumped the Saga of the Day on his shoulders, which included all of the above plus my frustrations over the house-selling situation and the declaration that I
must rescue some shouldn't-have-been-packed items from the storage unit.

The boys came down when spaghetti was on the table. As I sat there feeling like the world was crushing down on me, I saw Zachary walk into the kitchen. It looked like he had dripped Pepto Bismol all over his brand-new brown pants. And there were bluish stains on his shirt. I couldn't figure it out. Then suddenly I knew: Zach had splashed bleach all over himself when he cleaned the bathrooms. Bleach.

Things were a little dramatic there in the kitchen for a few minutes. I felt horrible for giving Zachary a cleaning agent that had to be handled so carefully. I didn't even think, and then I didn't supervise. Zach was hysterical about ruining his new pants, partly because he felt guilty for doing it and partly because he loved the clothes. I bought the outfit on clearance in two different stores and got screamin' deals, the last on the replacing those babies. Zach's crying made me cry, so we were both blubbering at the table. Then Garry said the sweetest prayer over dinner that should have buoyed and strengthened me, but instead made me cry more. It was pretty ridiculous.

Dearest Garry, ever the optimist, tried valiantly to lighten the mood. Eventually he struck pay dirt when he invited Zachary to take a gander at his (Garry's) pants. Garry was wearing his favorite jeans, which recently sprouted a hole that couldn't be mended. He knew he needed to throw them away but he just couldn't do it because they were his favorite! Zachary laughed. Then I piped up. I, too, was wearing my favorite jeans. They fit so well, even in my pudgy, awkward state, but they are wearing soooo thin in about ten places and look just dreadful. At that moment we decided we'd all take a trip to the garbage can and throw out our ruined pants.

So that's what we did. At the end of this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, three Bartles sent their pants packing. When the garbage truck comes in the morning and takes those ruined pants, I hope it also hauls away all the nasty vibes that hung around this house today. Vibes and pants be gone! To the dump with you!

Mar 19, 2008

The stuff of life

Tuesday was rather mundane, but since most days are, I thought I’d record it.

[Note: Please excuse my cell phone photos; the convenience of the phone trumps the quality of the Canon these days. Please also excuse the random nature of the fonts and font sizes. I can't make everything the same/normal today. I've given up.]

My morning at home with Gavin and Tyler consisted of a treadmill workout for me, cleaning the house for the showing call that never came, and doing a little shopping. I’ve been on the prowl for an Easter “something” for the boys that has been surprisingly hard to find since Easter is a very feminine holiday. I found some cute ties for the big boys at Gymboree (and TDF head-to-toe outfits if I had a chunk of change to drop on each kid) but nothing quite right for Gavin. We hit a few other stores with the same result: no luck. Tyler did enjoy posing in this bunny display, however, and we did find a coordinating tie for Daddy-o.

Tyler and I later worked on his talk for Primary on Sunday. Given the Easter theme, it wasn’t too hard to write. Tyler already has parts of it memorized. I’m excited for him to give his first talk.

After lunch, Tyler colored and Gavin played on the floor while I checked email. I was not two feet away when Tyler colored all over one of Gavin’s new outfits with a marker. What is the deal? Luckily the marker is washable….

At 2:20 we trekked over to Tobias to pick up Zachary. Once back at home Zach and I worked on some spelling words and handwriting. He is making progress! Then we had snacks and vegetated for a while.

At 4:30 I was going stir-crazy, so we went outside. None of the neighbor kids could play, so the boys rode their bikes and played basketball and football while I read a book.

My sweet neighbor, Kathy, came over to give Gavin an awesome hat she knitted this week. She showed it to me as she explained this big “Afgans for Afgans” charity project she learned to knit for, and only after I oohed and aahhed over the little hat did she give it to me. Apparently that was her intent all along. It’s a very cute beanie for a very cute baby!

From the corner where I spent most of my time watching the boys, I kept looking at two things: our For Sale sign and the flowers next to our house. We added this sign rider to entice people inside. The two other houses for sale on our street are soooo lame, but they’re unoccupied and clients can see them whenever they want. We think they see those houses and have no interest in ours, even though it’s great inside!

The crocuses in the flower bed are past their prime, but the few daffodils that came back are so pretty right now. I’m actually itching to plant new stuff in the flower bed so it looks nicer than this when potential buyers come through. Plus I want to do something different this year and I’ll be a little sad if I don’t get to.

When we came back inside, it wasn’t quite dinnertime, so I went upstairs with Gavin for a bit of laundry and computer stuff. I returned to the kitchen to heat up our leftovers for dinner and found Zach with very red hands and Tyler with very blue hands and a rainbow of colors all over the kitchen floor. Why Tyler decided to climb on the counter and get the food coloring down from the top cabinet shelf is beyond me. I guess he needed to express his artistic side today.

Garry came home just after I finished mopping the kitchen floor (certain grout lines will need special attention to remove the dye). We had a quick meal together and then I escaped to a Doom Squad meeting. The Doom Squad is just a group of ladies in our ward that get together and work on emergency preparedness projects – long and short-term food storage, sanitation kits, cannery assignments, etc. Last night’s presentation was on 72-hour food/equipment kits. I came away feeling equal parts inspired and overwhelmed.

Tuesday ended with Tillamook mint chip ice cream and American Idol. Not quite as gung-ho as the morning, but I definitely enjoyed it! And then, incredibly, Gavin slept until 5:30 a.m. What a gift!

So there you have it: a day in my life. If such details leave you yawning, you're in good company: they have the same effect on me every day!

Mar 16, 2008

Foiled again

Forgetting major things is becoming a trend at our house.

Today after church we had a dinner guest. Rex Griffin moved into our ward last week from Colorado Springs, so we thought it would be a great idea to get to know him better (and sell him our house...just kidding...maybe not...). Anyway, I planned a lovely pot roast dinner and got everything ready to go this morning. We attend church from 1-4 p.m. Dinner had to happen precisely at 5:00 so I could be back at church for choir practice at 6:00.

Everything was going well until 4:02 p.m., just as someone said the closing prayer in Primary. My thoughts were drifting toward mashed potatoes and beef gravy when, with a sudden intake of breath, I realized I had neglected to put the roast in the oven. Instead of simmering at 300 degrees for four hours in an onion and bullion bath, our chuck roast was pretty and pink in the refrigerator. And we were without a main dish.

If we hadn't been expecting company, I would have laughed and poured four bowls of cereal. Pot roast will make a wonderful meal tomorrow, after all. Instead we had a frenetic hour and served ham and rice casserole fifteen minutes late. Brother Griffin didn't care and we survived our dinner date.

But see, folks? This is what happens when I make an effort with dinner. The other night I burned the chicken, and tonight I forgot to cook the beef. A few more experiences like this and we might just slip back into the routine of Breakfast for Dinner/Choose Your Own/Pick Something Frozen and Nuke It cuisine. It's just not worth the aggravation.

Mar 15, 2008

Three cheers for Daddy

Today Garry fulfilled the biggest wish on the boys' Oregon List: a snow trip to Mt. Hood! Conditions were perfect, everyone was healthy, the planets aligned, and off they went. Garry, Zachary, and Tyler were pumped for a snowy adventure and I anticipated a calm, quiet day with Gavin. Then I got this phone call:

Heidi: Hi honey, what's up? You almost there?
Garry: Yep, just a few miles from Hood River [which means 70 miles from home -- about 2/3 of the way to Mt. Hood]. But I have a problem.
Heidi: What?
Garry: I forgot my coat.
Heidi: WHAT?

That's coat for a snow trip. No coat! I was just sick about it. How did we manage that? I urged Garry to stop somewhere and buy one -- or at least a sweatshirt -- but there didn't seem to be a place to do that. So we ended the conversation, both thinking that this snow trip would most likely be cut very short because of one very freezing father.

Fortunately, that didn't happen! The sun was shining at Little John Sno-Park today, and everyone had an absolute blast.

Apparently Tyler and Zachary were fearless on the sledding hill and had lots of energy for trudging up the hill again and again. An LDS youth group from Oregon City was also there, and the teenagers cheered on the boys as they flew down the mountain (and when they crashed and burned on occasion). The boys' snow gear kept them warm and dry, so they just focused on the fun.

Garry, meanwhile, was bundled in boots and ski pants, gloves up to his elbows, a scarf, and a hat. His arms only got cold a couple of times when he wiped out in the snow. Daddy wasn't miserable after all, so the boys got to stay as long as the fun lasted.

I quizzed Zach and Ty about their adventures when they got home.

Tyler said, "I was REALLY brave. When I was sliding down Mt. Hood Hill, snow got all over my whole entire face like I was a snow monster. The time when I went really far all the way down Mt. Hood Hill and all the way up the other side of that flat snow...that was my favorite."

Zachary said, "One time we were throwing snow at the trees -- we were winning!" He also told me about all the different positions he used to sled down the mountain and about the amazing scenery he saw on the way home. He was enthralled with the size of the Columbia River, the snow drifts on the sides of the highway, and the waterfalls in the gorge. He thought it was fun to buy snacks at the gas station and have Dad carry him and Tyler back to the car through a huge rainstorm.

I have to admit, I'm a little sad that I missed out on such a fun experience. But I love knowing that the boys made such awesome memories with Garry -- memories that they will cherish for years to come.

Mar 13, 2008

In the last few days...

My energy/motivation/time for blogging comes in spurts, so I'll get it out of my system now and leave cyberspace alone for a while. Inasmuch as this blog is a family journal, I want to list the random things that are happening in our world. These random tidbits just might be interesting when my kids eventually read this. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

In the last few days, Garry has:
  • Mowed, re-seeded, and fertilized the back lawn, which is finally green again
  • Started listening to a history of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge on CD
  • Taken a week of responsibility for making sure the church building is locked up every night
  • Had lunch with Tyler, Gavin, and me in the cafeteria at his workplace
  • Taken more than his share of dinner/kid duty so I could get a grip

In the last few days, Gavin has:
  • Been too cute for words in the bathtub
  • Rolled over (from tummy to back) for the first time
  • Begun drooling at an alarming rate
  • Slept 8-plus hours (without waking) three nights in a row
  • Developed the beginnings of a napping schedule
  • Been colored on by both of his brothers
In the last few days, Tyler has:
  • Accompanied me to a balloon-animal "field trip" for a friend's preschool
  • Been a most excellent grocery shopping helper
  • Taken two voluntary naps
  • Suffered from an unfortunate bout of diarrhea
In the last few days, Zachary has:
  • Come home with an excellent report card
  • Given no resistance to homework assignments
  • Acquired a digital clock for his bedroom (why on earth did we not think of this sooner?)
  • Been caught reading for fun
  • Discovered that one of his top teeth is loose
In the last few days, I have:
  • Replaced the feet of the boys' "slider" pajamas (see below)
  • Gone out on a "date" with a girlfriend and come home way past curfew
  • Burned broiled chicken enough to set off the fire alarm
  • Burned 448 calories in 34 minutes on the treadmill
  • Tried in vain to find the laundry-rescuing Lestoil product that a friend recommended
  • Caught up my ironing
That's all, folks! I'm off to watch American Idol with my honey (finally).

Tyler's Turn

When I told Tyler at dinner that I was getting ready to write a blog post about him, he immediately said, "How 'bout you do that now instead of later?" He seemed eager to contribute, so I asked which things about him I ought to share. Here is his list:
  • My dancing
  • Going to Mt. Hood
  • Coloring
  • Tomato soup
  • Lunch
Pretty all-inclusive, eh? Actually, a couple items on his list were also on the list in my head, so we'll hit those first.

Tyler definitely has a dancing gene, although we are not sure from whose gene pool it sprung. He can bust a move wherever and whenever he's feeling groovy, whether it's the aisles of Target, his car seat, or his Primary class. Today's episode of Tyler TV happened in the front room. I have posted it below for your viewing pleasure.

I have made an effort lately to have more quality time with Tyler. In my quest to build our relationship/save my sanity with this child, we have enjoyed some nice coloring time, story time, marble run time, and silly time. Tyler really loves stories, and could listen to silly Dr. Seuss tales for hours on end. In spite of the "good-Mom" vibe this gives me, Tyler is equally content to watch television all day and constantly begs for "one more show." It's hard not to give in sometimes.

Since our implementation of 1-2-3 Magic, Tyler has fallen into the category of children who immediately test their parents. His tendencies for destructive and aggressive behavior have multiplied, and he also started having frequent potty accidents and being mean to Gavin. Oh, the joys of parenting! We have stuck to our guns and are finally noticing a bit of improvement. This week we began some positive-reinforcement charts that seem to have captured Tyler's interest. He's excited about earning stickers that can translate into an ice-cream date with Mom or Dad. He wasn't excited enough on Wednesday to be cooperative with socks and shoes, brushing his teeth, helping with chores, or being potty-accident free (his areas of focus), but he did better today.

This week Ty enjoyed Smart Cookies at the Lyman's house. The subject of nutrition made for some interesting Discovery Stations. He also made a hilarious comment during lesson time when Natalie was talking about the dairy food group. We now know that Tyler is keenly aware of Gavin's exclusive nutrition source and the apparatus that supplies it.

I also really enjoyed the artistic rendering of Garry that Tyler produced during Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. The purple splotch is Garry's goatee. The yellow mass over to the side is me, according to Tyler. I think he started drawing me and ran out of creative energy. Or maybe I emanate so much warmth and happiness he could only think to color me yellow. The message he wrote (completely on his own, I might add) definitely melted my heart.

Love you back, babe! Even on no-sticker days.

Why I love my sister

My sister Angela is completely hilarious. She can turn a boring subject -- like trying to sell a junker car -- into a rollickin' good time. Her latest blog post made me laugh out loud for several minutes and my kids just couldn't understand why. Maybe some of you won't understand why. But if you know Angie (and trust me, you want to) or even if you don't know Angie, I want to share this glimpse into her life that makes me happy to be her sister. I give you..."The Blaze."

Mar 11, 2008

Recipe for relaxation

It's not a big secret that the cooking arm of my domestic responsibility is usually broken (or at best, in a sling). I was taught well; I know how to cook, make a balanced meal, and present it well. I just don't enjoy it, and I especially dislike the relentless nature of the chore. I have to make dinner every day, for crying out loud! I dread coming up with a workable menu, someone at the table is inevitably unhappy, the dishes never clean themselves, and then there's the whole issue of grocery shopping, which is perhaps the worst part of the entire charade.

Why don't I like grocery shopping? Aside from the spectacle that always accompanies my entourage of boys, the whole task is just overwhelming to me. I have to go with a list in hand, or else I buy junk and the wrong stuff and not enough raw ingredients to throw meals together. But making the list is a huge stumbling block, because I have to have a menu to make a list, and filling out empty squares on a calendar with balanced, yet easy, yet appealing meals is just a ridiculous thing to ask of my muddled brain. Then, once within the walls of WinCo (or Albertson's, if I'm a wimp), the towers of canned goods and vast arrays of colorful produce and rows upon rows of non-perishables scream "BUY ME...but you know I'll rot in your veggie drawer or grow stale on your shelves or hide in your pantry while your family subsists on cold cereal, homemade burritos, and peanut butter sandwiches!" {Insert imagined evil cackle coming from the bulk foods section.}

Today, almost entirely because I had to be out of the house for a showing but partly because the last milk jug is only half-full, I took a huge almighty breath and went grocery shopping. It took nearly a week of hard thinkin' to plan not one but FIVE weeks of meals on an Excel spreadsheet. Then I painstakingly made a grocery list for one of the weeks, which subsequently sat in a drawer for several days. But today I pulled it out and off we went.

Surprisingly, we survived. But then, after the groceries sat in the van for an hour while we (1) shuttled a friend to the MAX and back (planned); (2) sat at Jennifer's house during an impromptu second showing(not planned); and (3) picked Zachary up from school (necessary), I lost my enthusiasm for groceries. It was all I could do to put the perishables in the fridge and freezer. This activity dredged up another reason I detest grocery shopping: putting all the food away reminds me that I have to wash/chop/cook/present it in the form of a meal for my family. UGH.

So I took a break. After setting up the boys with an applesauce snack, I abandoned this.... email my Realtor with contact information for the agents who showed our house today. (And, of course, to check out some updated blogs, some new listings in Colorado Springs, etc.) After 15 minutes or so, I went back downstairs to find this (just purchased today)...

...and this. Note: this pasta bowl is about 8 inches wide.

That was about it. My frazzled brain needed to check out. Since Gavin was slumbering...

...I parked the boys in front of (scoring some "cool Mom/slacker Mom" points in the process)...

...and parked myself in front of this, my favorite re-run series.

Sleeping baby+occupied boys+Gilmore girls=Happy Heidi. Now that's a recipe I don't mind making.

pass it on!

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