Dec 30, 2008

Images of Christmas

Our Christmas was quite lovely, especially given its ugly predecessor, Christmas Eve. Here are a few snapshots from our morning.

The holiday dawned bright and early (dark and early?) for us; the boys gave us the wake-up call at 6:00 a.m.

Santa was good to us (even the naughty boys...). He brought a pogo stick for Zach, an electric guitar for Tyler, and a Little People farm for Gavin. The tree bottom was full of presents from dear grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from far away.

One of Zach's favorite presents: a paper airplane instruction manual from Tyler. Also note the track pants from Granny & Gramps on top of his pajamas.

Tyler was delighted with his guitar. Santa forgot batteries (oops!) but he had other spoils to keep him busy that day....

...such as this deep-sea creature and an explorer boat (big-kid tub toys).
Another favorite: a space shuttle with astronauts and aliens.

My favorite present (thanks, boys!).

Gavin was just delightful all morning. So many new things to discover!

Apparently Garry thought Gavin's stuff was pretty fun, too.

And our delicious hot breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash browns, and juice. I had some leftover white hot chocolate -- yum. We also made caramely, pumpkiny sweet rolls for dessert. Dessert at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas is perfectly legal!

Dec 27, 2008

The Christmas that almost wasn't

'Twas the day before Christmas
And one grumpy mother
Almost canceled festivities
For three little brothers.

From fighting and griping
To bleaching the floor,
Mom didn't think these boys
Needed presents any more.

The stress of the holiday
And upcoming travel
Were making this day
Really start to unravel.

The morning was rough,
To this we'll admit,
But the afternoon and evening
Were really a hit.

Once Mom got over
Her grumpiness bender
Some family activities
Became really quite tender.

First on the agenda:
Frosting cookies for Claus.
Zach and Ty's decorations
Deserved some applause.

Zach thought that frosting
Was a pretty good treat,
Though the dentist might disagree
'Bout the impact on his teeth.

Our neighbors stopped by
With some holiday cheer
And a new festive ornament
To remember this year.

We went to their house
To see their villages and train
And to get some advice
On making our home less plain.

Lasagna and french bread
Were on the Christmas Eve menu.
We ate in the dining room
For a fun change of venue.

We hung up our stockings
All named, in a row,
And put out the cookies
So Santa would know.

The boys' letters to Santa
Were hilarious to read.
Zach's admission of guilt
Was a good step, indeed.

Garry directed
Our evening of stories;
He told "Gift of the Magi"
In great narrative glory.

"Joy to the World"
Showed that first Christmas night
In Bethlehem
and America,
The signs were just right.

After our reminder
Of what Christmas is about,
The boys opened presents
With a jump and a shout.

We usually give jammies
So the kids have the same look,
But this year we started
The tradition of books.

Zach was excited
To read of Grinch stealing,
While Tyler's I-Spy
Was endlessly entertaining.

Frosty the Snowman
Delighted our babe;
Singing the words
Really brought the "hoorays"!

Bedtime was happy,
The children were wired;
But even crazy boys
Sometimes get tired.

At long last it was time
For Santa's great gifts;
He did his work quick,
Ate some cookies, and left.

The grownups got to work
Packing suitcases,
Cleaning the kitchen,
Setting breakfast places.

In spite of the morning,
The grump, and the gloom,
The magic of Christmas
Hung in every room.

And wouldn't you know it,
At {almost} six a.m.,
Rang the chorus of "Santa!"
And all the fun began.

Stay tuned for a re-cap
Of our Christmas cheer;
We're on vacation in Nevada
And might not blog until the New Year.

But major holiday records
Won't fall by the wayside.
We'll be sure to loop you in
For the long and crazy ride.

Dec 23, 2008

Christmas Tag

Since I'm too tired to do anything that needs doing but I can't go to sleep because I'm a mommy...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Eh, gift bags. Except wrapping paper is cheaper, so that's mostly what I use. I have learned, however, not to buy the giant rolls at Costco because I get really bored of the same old paper year after year!
2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real, and I like the actual cutting-it-down adventure.
3. When do you put up the tree?
As late as possible so as to delay the drama of broken/moved ornaments.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Sometime the week after Christmas.
5. Do you like eggnog?
Nope, not a fan.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The ones I remember best are the dolls with homemade clothes from Mom...even though I wasn't really a doll person. :)
7. Hardest person to buy for?
Garry, because I can never afford what he wants. (Love ya, babe.)
8. Easiest person to buy for?
This year, Tyler.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, courtesy of Duane & Becky, Christmas 1998.
But I have my eye on the Willow Tree collection...someday.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Of course I love to receive the snail mail variety! We usually do the e-thing, but this year ventured into the USPS thing, and, well, you know how that turned out.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Yikes! Who would answer that???
The most awkward Christmas present I got was in 1997 -- a pair of gloves from a boy I'd been dating but wanted very much to break up with. He was all tender and gushy and I was all freaked out about what the gloves meant. Just thinking about it makes me glad I don't have to date anymore. (Note: Two months later I was engaged to Garry, whom I had not even met at Christmastime 1997.)
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
I just saw Serendipity, and that was a fun one, but Diego Saves Christmas is pretty awesome, too.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Usually in conjunction with or shortly after Zachary's October 19 birthday.
This year, about December 1.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Nope. Wedding gifts, yes...
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Cookies. All kinds of delicious cookies that show up at our house.
Like the chocolate ones that arrived late last night...omg, tdf.
16. Lights on the tree?
Yeah, but this year they are so haphazard it's not even funny!
17. Favorite Christmas song?
O, Come, All Ye Faithful and The Christmas Waltz.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We've stayed home so many of the last seven years that I'm excited to travel this year...after Santa comes to our house.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Certainly. But don't ask me to sing the song.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Actually, we have a Santa hat on top with a matching tree skirt.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
I enjoyed the Christmas Eve pajamas tradition as a kid and with my own until this year...we're trying a new Christmas Eve gift and I hope it will become a tradition!
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
That the real meaning of the season can easily get lost with the commercialistic hype. (I'm not immune to this syndrome.)
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
Ditto to Granny: sentimental hodge podge.
24. Favorite time for Christmas dinner?
Whatever time the cook wants to feed me.
We do a nice dinner on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas...
Perhaps this would change if anyone but my fave five were eating.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
What do I want or what did I decide to get?
Garry and I opted to be responsible and {finally} get started on food storage and emergency supplies. (Thus the freezer and water barrels.)
What I really want is new drapes and paint and rugs in the living areas upstairs.
And Garry really wants a giant television.
See what I mean about commercialistic hype?

Merry Christmas!

Dec 22, 2008

A fond farewell

Dear Table & Chairs,

We've had an interesting history, you and I.

I first saw you in a furniture show room and fell in love. Black and square, you were exactly what I wanted in my house; even though you were the first one I saw, I didn't want to look at any other dining sets. It took some serious persuasion for my better half to agree to bring you home, but last October we did, just before Halloween. Oh, how I loved giving up our ratty old dining set for your sleek and stylish self, even if you were too big for our tiny dining room. I had dreams of a bigger house and a better space, but I could wait for that.

As it turns out, the bigger house was closer than I thought.

We had to shrink you down and dress you up with borrowed decorations while our little house waited to be sold. But you were so stinkin' cute and I enjoyed you every day.

Then, in May, Garry and I ventured to a far-off land in search of the aforementioned bigger house. In every single house, we looked for that perfect spot for you, our fancy new table and chairs.

In every house, we walked away frustrated. There wasn't room for your squareness. Not anywhere. (At least in our price range.) Our real estate agent probably thought Garry and I were a little kooky when we spent more time analyzing dining room configurations than just about anything else.

And then we found the perfect house. The one. It practically spoke to my soul, and I knew it was home. And I knew I would have to give you up. You just wouldn't fit in a long and narrow space. Character and charm had to bow to functionality.

So, with a great deal of regret and coulda-woulda-shoulda conversations in our brains, we put you up for sale. People offered to pay a tiny bit for you and we scoffed. Then, as our moving date drew closer, we started begging our friends to buy you. They didn't. On moving day the movers loaded you carefully into our van, along with your oh-so-heavy-and-expensively-custom-made glass top, just so you could sit in our garage and collect dust while a new, pretty-but-not-as-spunky table took your place in our dining room.

As the months dragged on, you became the bane of my existence, the symbol of dumb decisions and wasted time and everything frustrating in my life. Why couldn't we sell you? Why did fraudulent freaks keep trying to steal you from us? Why didn't we take the first wad of cash someone waved in our faces in Beaverton? It was silly, really, but seeing you leaning up against the wall, chairs in neat rows, legs lying on the floor, drove me crazy.

When it got cold and Garry's car deserved a covered parking space, you took up residence in our basement. I resigned myself to the fact that you'd always be with us, sitting downstairs where you took up too much space instead of serving your real purpose in a dining room.

But then, on Saturday, a nice lady came to look at you. And she wanted to take you home. It sounds like she has a fancy Pottery Barn house, so you'll fit right in. You'll be loved. And you'll get to be more than a storage surface, a craft table, a dust collector, or a resented object. You'll get to be what you were meant to be: an adorable, perfect-for-me dining room table with six matching chairs and a to-die-for bench.

I will miss you.

But at the same time, I am so glad that you're gone.



Lost in the mail?

Several weeks ago, we mailed out Christmas cards for the first time in several years (the e-greeting has long been our favored friend). To our dismay, however, we have learned that many of our loved ones either did not receive the card or got a mangled version; apparently the envelopes we mailed the cards in didn't stay sealed in transit.

Chances are good that if you are (1) related to us, (2) live in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or Arizona, and/or (3) read this blog, we sent you a Christmas card. If you are feeling snubbed by the Bartles, we apologize. As usual, our intentions were golden but our follow-through was lacking! So, true to tradition, we offer this electronic greeting from our family. You can't put it on your fridge, but hopefully the sentiment is good enough!

December 2008

Dear friends and family,

We send our snowy greetings and wish you the very best this season! We are so grateful for loved ones far and near.

As we anticipated 2008 last December, we never imagined the New Year would bring so many changes for our family. Just when we thought we were putting down life-long roots in Beaverton, Oregon, a surprising prompting led us to sell our beloved first home, leave our dear friends and the great Northwest, and relocate in June to the mountains of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Through all of the changes we have experienced this year, we have been grateful for the constants in our lives -- our love for each other, the support of our friends and family, and our faith in Jesus Christ and his plan of happiness for us.

Garry jokes that our move, while life-changing for Heidi and the boys, didn’t alter his world too much. He still has a two-mile commute to Wells Fargo, works on the same team with the same people (just in person instead of on the phone) and comes home to the same family every night. What did change for Garry is the amount of yard work and handyman chores he has to do, since we now have a little property behind our house! Garry worked hard to transform the yard this summer and build a fun play structure for the boys to enjoy.

Heidi has had the hardest time adjusting to Colorado Springs, but is grateful for the connections that email, blogs, and phone calls allow her to maintain with her dear Oregon family. She, too, is making friends and getting settled. Having more space for the boys to run and play has been good for her life, so in that regard she’s grateful for the move. Change is always an adventure!

We thought our relocation would be hard on Zachary (age 7), but he has adjusted extremely well to our new surroundings. He loves first grade at Frontier Elementary and is developing responsibility with his homework and reading assignments. Zach loves to be active outdoors, play with friends, and master Wii games. He enjoyed a fun soccer season but really hopes to play football next year.

Tyler (4 ½) has grown up a lot this year. While last year he boycotted preschool, he is now thriving in Pre-K. Ty has learned to read, ride a bike without training wheels, and enjoy building with Legos. He played soccer for the first time this fall and loved having Garry coach his team. Tyler is still looking for a best buddy in Colorado, but he’s usually content to play at home with Mom and Gavin. He loves to putter.

A year ago little Gavin was just a few weeks old, so tiny and fresh from heaven. Now Gavin is a brawny and busy one-year-old who loves to run, climb, make messes, and play with his big brothers. He has been such a fun addition to our family.

Another change in our family came three months ago when we learned that a new baby is arriving in May. We are so excited! Heidi is getting over the worst of the morning sickness and looking forward to finding out if the boys are getting a brother or a sister. 2009 promises many more adventures for our family, but great blessings, as well.

Wishing you health and happiness in the year to come,

The Bartle family

Dec 21, 2008

Party pics

Thanks to my photographer friend, Kendra, I updated the Christmas Party post to include pictures!

Dec 20, 2008

Heading north

It only took us six months to get there, but Garry and I finally took a trip to the Denver Temple last night. Our session was small and absolutely lovely.

I had an interesting juxtaposition of feelings. On the one hand, I was surprised that attending the temple made me incredibly homesick for Beaverton. Temple work is not about socialization, but it seems I nearly always went with friends, and last night I missed them. (I did smile when I found a wad of Kleenex in my dress pocket...Angie L. was always prepared for my emotions when I wasn't! I also remembered the ward temple night when Naomi N. and I sat next to each other with our giant pregnant bellies last November.)

On the other hand, I was also very peaceful knowing that wherever I am in the world and whatever temple I attend, the knowledge imparted and the service rendered and the spirit felt are exactly the same. It won't be six months before we go back.

Here are a few pictures from our evening (since I'm still a tourist in my own state):

Part of our trip to Denver included picking up/purchasing four water storage barrels. I guess the motto of the evening was "be prepared..." Garry and I also enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at Chili's after going to the temple, courtesy of a lovely gift card given to Garry at the end of his soccer coaching stint in October!

And to top it all off, we came home to this: a spotless house, clean-and-put-away dishes, and a good report from the babysitter. Not a bad Friday night!

Dec 19, 2008

The first annual cookie fest

Last night I hosted what was (I hope) the first of many holiday cookie exchanges. Colleen, a good friend, and I concocted the plan about a month ago, having enjoyed similar parties in our former lives/homes. It was a great evening with food and friends!

The dining table was filled-to-bursting with all sorts of holiday treats.

Another shot of the delectable feast.

Some of the fun-and-fabulous guests: Margaret, Katie, Lydia, Brenda (and Lydia's baby, Joseph)

Becky, Colleen, Kendra, Jennifer

Evonne, Marcia, Trinette, Shaina

I went last in the Yankee-swap-style ornament exchange. Sorry for stealing, Colleen! (Just kidding, I'm not.)
The aftermath: we got to keep a few extra goodies, but the table's a little sparse!

And the once-full house is pretty empty and cold.

But here's the happiest dishwasher load I've done all week. It has evidence of baking yummy stuff and serving 16 cups of delicious white hot chocolate!

Speaking of that amazing stuff, here's the recipe, courtesy of

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (12 ounce) package white chocolate chips
  • Garnish:
  • Whipped cream
  • Candy canes
  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and white chocolate chips in a slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and candy canes, as desired.

Dec 18, 2008

A day in the life of Zachary Todd

May we present a day in the life of our seven-year-old. You can click the pictures to enlarge them.

Rise and shine! It's 5:30 a.m.

Zach does his daily reading (30 minutes) before school.

Breakfast and scripture-reading happen at 7:00. Zach makes short work of two bowls of Wheat Chex, a banana, and a cup of orange cream yogurt.

He reminds me it's time to draw a prize for the 10 hours of reading he's completed recently. He decides that next time we get fresh snow, we'll go sledding at Frontier Park.

8:05 a.m.: Out the door with Dad.

Zach meets the legal requirements to ride without a car seat, so on the way to school in Dad's car, he thinks he's hot stuff.

Here's the so-called "kiss and drop" zone where he bids Dad a fond farewell. See you at 3:15!

I forgot to take a picture at pick-up time. The car is full with three boys and Raelyn, our neighbor. Once home, Zach displays some artwork he did at the Fine Arts Center on a field trip last week. His class saw The Nutcracker and then explored the museum.

Zach doesn't have homework (he did it over the weekend), but he snarfs down a snack and starts on his after-school chores.

Then he invites Raelyn over and they have a Wii bowling tournament. (And, apparently, destroy the family room in the process). Zachary wins.

Zachary turns on the outside lights at dusk, when Raelyn goes home. Then we have dinner.

At 6:30, I decide to go visit a friend and her new baby in the hospital, so Garry is in charge of "family fun time." Zach is thrilled it's Wednesday-Wii-Night. The boys have another bowling tournament.

When I get home around 8:00, Zach is zonked out in bed. It's been a long day!

pass it on!

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