Mar 31, 2009

Medical schmedical

Since I'm sure you're all dying to know the status of my epigastric region, I thought I'd post a quick update.

The results are in: my gallbladder is fit as a fiddle. No stones, no sludge, no cause for concern. The source of my discomfort remains a mystery, but it seems that surgery is not in my future. [Insert giant sigh of relief.]

Additionally, the remaining labwork on my various bodily fluids returned today and all signs point to normal. Preeclampsia and even the infection were too hastily diagnosed. Turns out I'm just an uncomfortable pregnant lady, but now I'm a grateful one.

Thanks for your love and support! I have been touched by your concern and comments.

I promise that my next post will (1) be about something more interesting than gestational physiology, (2) feature someone other than myself, and (3) include pictures.

Mar 30, 2009


Zachary was on my mind all day today. It was his first day at his new elementary school.

I hoped so much that he'd find a friend, fit in with his classmates, and show his teacher the best version of himself. I hoped he wouldn't get lost or feel scared or lonely. I hoped he'd like his lunch and remember his student number at the end of the day. I hoped he wouldn't come home hating his parents for turning his world upside down.

When he came running up to the van with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, my own mouth burst with a smile. I relaxed. All was well.

Zachary had a wonderful day! As I drove away from the school, Zach chattered happily about Spanish class and his reading partner and the kid from his soccer team who's in the class next door. At home we went through his new homework folder and talked about some new routines.

Then I got a lovely email from Zach's teacher. Its simple message warmed my heart. "Zach had a great first day! We enjoyed having him in class. He seems to be a great student and gets along well with the other students."

If only she knew how much those words meant to us!

An afternoon phone call from my doctor's office was equally uplifting. My initial preeclampsia labs came back clean, meaning at this juncture I do not, in fact, have the disorder. Second-tier labs are still pending, but it seems that this particular concern is moot for now. Although I still have my worries, I'm so grateful that this risky issue isn't mine to deal with.

I'll have a gallbladder scan in the morning and should have the results late in the day. Here's hoping that the good news trend continues!

Mar 27, 2009

Progression of a snow storm

Colorado Springs is experiencing a major weather event. I'm not sure if it officially counts as a blizzard, but I have certainly never seen this combination of wind and snow before. It's quite fascinating from my perch in the window of a warm house.

Since the TV weathermen predicted up to a foot of snow, I was interested to see how quickly it accumulated. I took this photo around 11:30 a.m. yesterday, about ten minutes after I saw the first flakes fall.

These photos came an hour later, just before Garry came home from work. His office was closed because of the weather. He said the roads were ridiculous already.

Notice the tips of my 3-inch tulips peeking through the snow. I've been told they are sure to survive this winter blast.

Here are some photos of the snow we woke up to this morning. Although it's not snowing anymore, the wind is whipping everything around in the air. We have three-foot snow drifts next to the house and bare spots on the lawn. Wind has pushed the snow through window screens so it's pressing against the glass. Some of our window well covers are blanketed in snow, making those corners of the basement dark, while others have no snow at all so the light can shine through.

And boy, oh boy, is it cold out there! Our thermometer read 8.7 degrees at 7:43 this morning. I'm awfully grateful for the 65 degree reading for our indoor temperature. Our 25-year-old furnace is doing its job today!

Some out-of-town folks have asked if I'm ornery about this spring snow, and I have to say that I'm not.
{Even if it does mean all my medical tests will be delayed...what can I do about that?} The kids aren't missing school and I don't feel well enough to leave the house, so this crazy weather is the perfect excuse to lounge in pajamas and the comforts of home. And if a bunch of snow means a less severe drought this summer, I'm all for it. My tulips need water to grow, after all.

Of blogs and blurbs

Last week Mr. UPS delivered this fun book to my house.

It's full of last year's Bartle family history, and even features us on the front and back covers with my name in the author spot. It's the book I created through laborious cuts and pastes and photo uploads. Blog to Blurb, Blog to Blurb...357 pages in all. Blurb did a bang-up job printing and binding. I'm thrilled with the finished product.

As I took pictures of the book this morning to post here, Garry mused at the irony of using Blurb to publish a blog and then turning around to use my blog to advertise for Blurb. Pretty soon this blog post will get slurped into Blurb again.

And so my world goes round.

Mar 26, 2009

Catch him if you can...

Gavin is growing and changing and learning new things so quickly these days that it's hard to keep up! Time for a blog update so I can record the highlights.

Things about Gavin's current stage that I want to remember include:
  • Trying to walk up and down the stairs. Apparently crawling is not acceptable anymore. Gavin is delighted when he can hold the hand rail and scale the steps on his own. This makes me extremely nervous, especially when he attempts a descent. The stair gates are more important than ever.
  • Opening the top kitchen drawers. Most notably, Gavin has discovered the silverware drawer. He knows he can grab handfuls of soup spoons from one side...and sharp knives from the other. Garry installed a latch for the drawer last night.
  • Viewing the backyard from a chair perch in front of my bedroom window. Because he kept scaling the chair, desk, and bookshelf in the baby's room, I removed the chair and put it against the wall in my room. Gavin quickly discovered its new location, but I'm glad. He loves to look out the window, especially when the boys are playing outside. It makes him feel included and I'm not obligated to chase him around.
Gavin's favorite new pastime.

  • Enjoying the back yard play structure. When I'm feeling up to a rise in my blood pressure, I'll follow Gavin around outside. He absolutely loves climbing the ladders and going down the slides in the back yard. He loves doing the Superman thing on the swings. He just loves being outdoors. One day I'll have Garry trail him with a camera for a fabulous photo shoot. The "what if he falls" concept stresses me out too much to have a camera in my hand.
  • Figuring out zippers. This morning Gavin had stripped to his diaper by the time I got him out of bed. He discovered how to unzip his footie pajamas! This means he can also take off his coat, which I don't really appreciate. He already removes his socks and shoes every time we get in the car, but now zippers have expanded his mischievousness.
Just before heading out the door:
fully dressed with a cute beanie we got for 99 cents this week.

  • Trying to copy almost everything we say (and succeeding a fair portion of the time). Gavin is talking so much more than his brothers did at this age. We barely had "mama" out of Zachary at 16 months. Gavin says all kinds of recognizable baby-speak words and has started signing "thank you" without prompting when he receives something he wants.
  • Opening doors with a lever-type handle. Thank heaven we don't have those at our house. But doctor's offices do, and our church does, so suddenly Gavin has a lot more freedom (slash naughty potential). He can palm doorknobs at our house, but does not yet have the strength or dexterity to work them. It won't be long!
So that's the word on our not-so-little man. Oh, and he also cut two eye teeth this week. Life is never dull with Gavin in the house!

Mar 25, 2009


My body is conspiring against me.

In spite of the miracle that is a baby girl inside me (I can't quite bring myself to blame the madness on her), my organs and ligaments and fluids are waging wars against each other that leave me feel lousy around the clock. I have turned into a whiny hypochondriac, wondering if every ailment is a sign of preterm labor or some other serious complication. There are too many discomforts for me to deal with in a rational manner, and while I could recite them all for you here, I'm feeling pretty guilty about letting such garbage cloud my vision of the greater good.

Today, however, I received a little validation from the OB I have grown to detest (medical provider dissatisfaction is an entirely separate issue). Turns out I have "probable cholecystitis," or issues with my gallbladder. The short-term fix is a fat-free diet. Um, hello. Is that really possible for someone of my personality and gestational state? I'll have a gallbladder scan in the next day or two that will determine a longer-term course of treatment. I hope ice cream can be part of my life again sometime in the future. And I really don't want to have surgery, now or ever. Despite my symptoms, this better be a false alarm.

I also have probable preeclampsia. Lovely. My blood pressure jumped today and apparently my kidneys excreted protein today. I get to provide a 24-hour specimen for the lab to officially diagnose this condition. If I do have it, the only fix is childbirth. As ready as I am to be done, Baby Girl would be a lot better off if she got to grow inside for several more weeks. An interim "band-aid" for the problem: bedrest. Is bedrest really possible for someone of my personality and family make-up? We'll cross that bridge if we can't avoid it, I guess. Let's hope that this potential diagnosis is also a false alarm. It sounded near the end of my pregnancy with Gavin, all for nothing.

I also have a UTI. This is probably too much information for my more sensitive readers, but I thought the news was the perfect icing on the cake today. A malfunctioning organ, a systemic disorder, and an infection. Sounds yummy to me.

On the up side, Baby Girl has a strong heart beat and is measuring normally. She is very wiggly, which never ceases to amaze and delight me, even when I'm as ornery as I am today.

And sitting in my kitchen is a brand-new dishwasher. It's not what I wanted for my birthday (which isn't for a month), but I know I'm going to love it anyway. Broken dishwashers don't clean the dishes, and neither does this pregnant mommy.

Mar 24, 2009

Top Ten Memories: Spring Break with the Dixons

For the last week we have enjoyed the company of my brother's wife and his three children. It's a rare treat to host family at all, let alone cousins! We are so glad Rachel braved the plane ride and week-long adventure with Devlin (age 5), Eve (3), and Iris (6 months). We made some amazing memories together. Here are the top ten.

10. General Merriment.
The kids found all sorts of things to do with each other during their stay. When they weren't out in the yard -- digging in the sand pit, playing on the swings, shooting hoops, riding bikes, or just running around -- they were playing board games, reading books, coloring, playing Wii Sports, or pretending in some fashion or another. Devlin's imagination was usually the force behind play time. We found that was mostly wonderful, but sometimes his imagination and Zach's mischievousness made for an interesting combination. One day in the sand pit the boys constructed a lovely "fire pit" for roasting marshmallows. This was a fun idea for a pretend camping trip, but Rachel was lucky enough to intercept the boys as they came inside in search of real matches!

9. Family Home Evening.
Because we just started reading the Book of Mormon again, presenting a lesson on Lehi's vision of the tree of life (from 1 Nephi 8-11) seemed perfect. I was grateful to have a packet with a lesson outline and fabulous visual aids to pull out at the last minute! The boys were especially enthusiastic about answering questions and I was impressed with their knowledge.

For an activity to supplement the lesson, I made a path through the family room with laundry baskets, blankets, and pillows that led, in a meandering way, to the teepee at one end of the room. For the first round, Zachary was the guide (or the Holy Ghost) that led a blindfolded Tyler and Devlin through the maze with his voice only. When it was Zachary's turn to be blindfolded, Tyler and Devlin took turns directing Zach. For a while Garry pretended to be Satan and shouted out random directions. It was pretty funny.

8. Having girlies in the house.
It was such a novelty for our family to have little girls around! I loved the influx of flowers and dresses and pink and pigtails. (I'm getting excited for that to be a permanent feature at this house.) Little Eve, who is three, felt a little outnumbered with so many boys around. We weren't quite sure if she could tell Zachary and Tyler apart! She kept referring to both of them as "the boy." That definitely made us laugh.

7. Eating together.
Throw nine people around a dinner table and there's bound to be an adventure! We quickly learned not to cry over spilled milk. I was thrilled that Rachel offered to cook three times. We enjoyed a new crock pot variety of macaroni and cheese, a tasty Olive Garden-ish soup, and the boys' favorite: poofy pancakes. Yum! The first night our cousins were here was St. Patrick's Day, so the dinner that night was all green, including some colored Rice Krispy treats.

6. Bedtime.
No matter how successful the days were, the parents always looked forward to bedtime. Devlin and Eve slept on air mattresses in Zach and Ty's bedroom, and though it was wonderful for the big cousins to all sleep in one room, it encouraged rowdiness instead of sleep and very early morning waking. After the first night was a little hairy, we took steps toward making bedtime smoother. (The biggest step: starting very early. Another: banning air mattress jumping after one popped.) We hit our stride when Rachel offered to sing lullabies to the kids before bed. (She has an incredible voice; my children have definitely been spoiled!) And after promising the kids the option of switching beds the next night if they behaved, we achieved perfection on Night Three.

5. Labeling the yard.
Remember "The Orange Incident" from Thanksgiving 2008? Its sequel, "Marker Mayhem," happened on Saturday. (Apparently not all cousin memories can be pleasant.) In this case, the three boys found a turquoise marker we had used earlier in the day to label sandwich bags and took it upon themselves to label planter bricks, flagstone pavers, the fence, the house, and various other inanimate objects.

After recovering from the shock of our children's confessions, Rachel and I assembled a clean-up party. It was moderately successful in diminishing the impact of the graffiti, but I think it was resoundingly effective in driving home what "permanent" means.

4. An outing to McDonald's.
On Zachary's first day of Spring Break, Garry joined us all for lunch at McDonald's. The kids were all so well-behaved and we had a marvelous time. These four, in particular, got along famously. We enjoyed ice cream cones for an extra-special treat. Gavin's reactions to his first-ever ice cream cone were priceless. I think he was as excited to be included in a big-person treat as he was to actually taste the ice cream!

3. Playing at the park(s).
We enjoyed time at three different parks this week since the weather was so wonderful. The backyard play structure and sand pit were also very popular. On Saturday our picnic at Cottonwood Creek park left most of us a little sunburned! We were so glad for the opportunities that all the kids had to run and play. Burning off extra energy was a daily priority.

2. Functioning in a household with six children ages seven and under.
It was quite exhausting catering to the needs of so many small ones, but overall, we did amazingly well. Rachel and I joked that polygamist households probably have
one perk; it sure was nice having two adult women to manage housework and childcare all day! Throwing an awesome Daddy into the mix at night and over the weekend was terrific, too.

We were glad to have the Odyssey to safely cart around six kids in five car seats, and to have the space in our house to comfortably accommodate so many people.

1. Climbing trees in the "greenway."
Just behind our house is a public walking path that is flanked with grass and trees. The pines are perfect for climbing, and the boys had all kinds of adventures in the tall, tall branches. The trees were space ships, secret forts, army bases, and untold other havens for little-boy imaginations. This was hands-down the most-requested activity of the week. We were happy to successfully avoid injuries, although Rachel had to rescue Devlin on more than one occasion. Zachary's shoe fell off one time, too, making his descent a little treacherous. Luckily Eve and Gavin were happy to admire their brothers from the ground.

Come back soon, fun cousins!
We had a fabulous week with you!

Mar 22, 2009

Some school stuff

Our family is in the midst of a fabulous Spring Break experience with visiting cousins. Were it not for a wee-hours bout of insomnia, blogging would not have resumed for a few more days. Check back mid-week for a photo-rich post about our adventures.

Until then, here's a brief recap of our non-cousin activities this week.

Zachary's last day at Frontier Elementary was Wednesday. I offered to make a treat for him to share with his classmates and he chose cupcakes. He was very specific about the way he wanted them to look. Exhausted as I was, fancy confections seemed like a tall order, but they turned out to be pretty simple. And he was elated. It was worth the effort. My thanks to Rachel for her help in the decoration assembly line, and for her amusing company at the grocery store.

Bright and early Thursday morning, Zachary and I headed to his new school. Students were out district-wide for Parent/Teacher conferences. Zach did a reading assessment, took a tour of the school, and met his new teacher. Garry and I also had a nice discussion with the teacher. We all feel great about the transition and look forward to our time at Academy Endeavour.

Having an astronaut mascot is pretty cool, too.

Tyler had scholastic adventures of his own this week. On Tuesday parents were invited to attend a school-wide "praise time" musical performance. The preschoolers sang several of the praise songs they have learned this semester. It was fun to watch Tyler sing. He knew every word and action to every song, but that didn't stop him from occasionally breaking eye contact with the teacher (who was leading the group) to wave and smile to Gavin and me. The performance was interesting for me on a different level; I'm not used to songs about Jesus being so lively and animated! Our church has a much more reverent take on songs of worship for children. I'll post a video of Tyler's singing when my Tech Support guy can help me. He's not on call in the middle of the night.

On Thursday, Ty's class had a field trip to the fire station. It brought back fun memories of a fire station tour I took with the boys and our Smart Cookies group almost a year ago.
Tyler was front-and-center for Tuesday's entire tour, very engaged and asking lots of questions. He loved climbing in the fire engine and checking out the gear.

On the home front, Gavin was his crazy-busy self. One day while Zachary was playing with him downstairs, Zach yelled, "Mom! Come quick! You've got to see this!" Gavin was quite proud of himself for pulling this stunt. I grabbed the camera, of course, but added this hazard to my mental list of things to prevent in the future.

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