Aug 31, 2009

Life is an adventure to be enjoyed...

....and not a problem to be solved.

I am trying to remember this sage wisdom as a season of sports insanity falls upon us.

At 3:30 p.m., when the after-school taxi pulled into the garage and little boys piled out, I knew that in just 90 minutes' time we needed to have homework done, cleats on, and the van packed full of spectator necessities. Tonight was our first double-header: football at 5:00, soccer at 6:15. (We got off easy tonight, since start times were staggered and the football game was in our neighborhood. Come Wednesday, football games are 30 minutes away.)

So off we went, a gaggle of Bartles trying their best to have a good time. (The mommy was, admittedly, not particularly successful.) While Zach's team (the Bills) scrimmaged with the Colts, I passed out peanut butter sandwiches and grapes. Garry arrived and took some pictures. He got his own pb&j. My friend Andrea held the baby. I wiped noses and sticky fingers and spooned cake into Gavin's mouth. Occasionally I glanced toward the field (Hey, Zach's got the ball! Go Zach!). Andrea and I chatted a lot. (How lovely it is to have a friend on the sidelines!) Gavin made a huge mess with his water bottle and charmed me with his sunglasses. Tyler ran to the van for jackets. We all eyed the sky and hoped the wind wouldn't turn into rain.

At 6:00 Garry packed up Gavin and Tyler. Tyler put on his shin guards and cleats and Gavin traded sandals for socks and shoes. Those three headed to another local park for Tyler's soccer game. Tyler got a flashy new jersey (my, what an improvement over last year!). His team warmed up for-ev-er and delayed the starting of their game by 30 minutes. It finally began. Tyler scored a goal. A kid from our ward on the opposing team scored about 10.

Meanwhile, Zachary's scrimmage ended. He and Lexi and I went home. Zach ate dinner and, while I was out of the room, snarfed FOUR pieces of cake. He finished his homework and went to bed. I fed Lexi.

Garry and the littlest boys came home at 8:00. Tyler ate his soccer snack. Garry put Gavin to bed. Tyler put himself to bed.

And then there was rest.

Until Wednesday, that is.

Aug 30, 2009

How to pamper your garbage cans

First, bring your garbage and recycling bins to the side of the house that is easiest to access from the back door. Keep them on your porch for a long time.

When this novelty wears off (i.e., the wafting stench sickens you), decide to build them their own patio from pavers left over from other projects. Then concoct a plan to construct a cement pad that is smooth and beautiful and conveniently located. Prepare the ground for this marvelous structure.

Purchase fancy tools and an obscene amount of concrete mix. Be sure to lift each of the 80-pound bags four times between the store shelf and their ultimate destination. Build muscles and break your back in honor of all the garbage!

Involve small children with the water hose.

Mix three bags of concrete mix with water in the wheelbarrow. Mix and churn and mix and churn and remember you're saving fifty bucks by not renting the cement mixer from Home Depot. In a move worthy of Tom Sawyer, convince your seven-year-old that mixing and churning is fun and get him to take a turn. Form eternal parent-child bonds over the love of work. (Or at least mete out punishment for unspeakable crimes committed earlier in the week.)

When all the concrete is poured, use a not-so-fancy 2x4 to level it. Then bust out the real tools to make it look good.

Let each family member make their mark in the cement. Six names and hand prints of descending size transform the garbage pad into an heirloom work of art.

Hastily construct a protective cover when the sky opens and rain descends. Measure the hail when it falls.

Finally, bask in the glory of the finished product. Imagine the "oohs" and "ahhs" your garbage cans would make if they could speak. Make a mental note to spray the cans down with the hose at the next opportunity.

They are pretty gross, after all.

Aug 28, 2009

Voice lessons

Miss Alexis has discovered her voice. And her hands. And the fact that she can spin around in a circle on her back. (Lexi reminds me so much of Zachary at this age, but that's another blog post.) I really love hearing her talk -- especially when her vocalizations are an obvious response to my presence.

Today I grabbed the camera when Lexi's cute cooing started. I captured some fun video, which also includes the background noise Tyler made while dishing himself a piece of cake.

Gavin's bedtime routine is nearly always administered by Daddy, and he always sings "Old MacDonald" with a menagerie of animals. As a result, Gavin knows lots of animal sounds. I was thrilled to get footage of his barnyard performance, but it's kind of quiet. Turn up your sound for the best effect!

Aug 27, 2009

Resolutions revisited

On my last five consecutive morning walks, I have been musing about my New Year's resolutions. I'm not sure why. I could only remember a few. Since the year is 2/3 done (yes, really), I decided it was a good time to check in and note my progress.

  • Play with my kids more often [working on it]
  • Maintain scripture, prayer, and FHE habits with the kids [success]
  • Continue family fun time [we did, until school started; now it's weekends only]
  • Be content with the present [trying; making progress!]
  • Write a will (and get it notarized/made official) [I have software and a notary]
  • Run in a 5K race (but shoot for a 10K) in September [um, no....not sure what to do here since I'm very far off target]
  • Lose my baby weight by the end of the year [still an attainable goal]
  • Go to sleep in my bed (rather than on the couch) [success - and SO worth it]
  • Watch less television [check!]
  • Develop better personal devotional habits [done - why did it take me 30 years?]
  • Acquire entire three-month supply of food and household items [not even close.]
  • Sanitize and fill water barrels by February 1 [check!]
  • Assemble 72-hour and emergency kits by February 1 [they've been 90% done since February 1]
  • Volunteer at Zachary's school at least once a month [hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....]
  • Publish our 2008 blog via Blurb before the baby is born [done!]
  • Find joy in my daily journey [ always]

So, there they are, for all the world (well, you) to see. I'm doing okay. This little exercise was definitely a wake-up call. I guess I had better get started (again).

Aug 25, 2009

If I could whistle, I'd do it today

Because it is Tuesday, I will spend the day doing laundry.

Because I have ignored the ironing pile for three weeks, I will also work on that.

Don't feel too bad for me; I have helpers.

This one will mostly just look cute.

This one will probably do things like this.

And these two will do most of the task at hand -- at least as far as cleaning goes.

A machine for folding and putting away is on my wish list.

Aug 23, 2009

I'm obsessed

Shaina tagged me, so I guess I'm it. Why do I feel compelled to list five of my obsessions? Who knows. Maybe I just like talking about myself.

Obsession One: The internet. This encompasses many things -- email, blogging, IM, Facebook, and a few other dot-coms. (Does texting fit here? It also applies, but perhaps doesn't deserve its own paragraph.) Mostly I like to keep in touch with people. Luckily, I have a few friends who share my obsession and keep the communication alive. Occasionally I wonder if I'm better at online relationships than in-person ones.

Obsession Two: Clean counters. Just this morning I took a quiz about my decorating style. You can read my full decorating profile here, but my favorite line in the whole thing is "goodbye clutter, hello clean!" That's pretty much my mantra in life. If I'm ever feeling funky, cleaning off my cluttered counter tops is sure to improve my mood. I enjoy staging clutter interventions for other people. This is not a marketable skill, but I think it is fun.

Obsession Three: Being prompt. There are few things I like less than being late or running behind schedule. I start preparations for departure freakishly early so as to spare myself the stress of being late. I would rather be 20 minutes early to church/school/an appointment than two minutes late. I sincerely appreciate people who share my opinion, especially when those people are in charge of starting meetings/appointments on time.

Obsession Four: Brushing my teeth. I cannot leave the house without brushing my teeth, especially if I'm going to exercise. I know this is bizarre. I love fresh breath, that clean minty feeling in my mouth, and the smooth texture of sparkling enamel. This does not mean I am without cavities. And I do wish my teeth were straight and white. But I love to brush my teeth.

Obsession Five: The details. I am way too nit-picky for my own good. The wording has to be perfect. The party plan has to be super-organized. The baby dress and shorts pockets and polo collar have to be ironed. The floor has to be mopped. The windows must be streak-free. The parts to the toddler toys have to be present and accounted for. Sometimes paying attention to detail is a good thing to have on a Mommy resume. And sometimes it just drives people (including me) crazy.

So there you go. Clearly, I am obsessed, so I need to feel validated by my gene pool. I hereby tag my blogging relatives (see Obsession One - feel free to participate via Facebook rather than blog): angieinpink, clodhopper, real-redhead, holly, big.bald.dave, dixon delicious, eddude, emmy z, dixieannah, reddladybug, rach.bec.hep, sylvia, girlygirl, marcie, joeyship, hollyoak, dubey, heidi dawn, sandy, lisa, kayla....geez, am I forgetting anyone? I hope not. Obsession Five might keep me up tonight.

Aug 22, 2009


If you'd like to read my latest health-related musings, check out my post on my sister's blog.

That's all.

Aug 19, 2009

Pass the wipes

It isn't a day in my life if these two kids aren't poopy at the same time. It's inevitable. I've come to accept it. But on days like today, when Gavin grabs a size one, a size five, and the Kirkland wipes, then gets down on the floor next to his sister and sticks his legs in the air, I don't mind it so much.

They've got pretty cute bums, anyway.

Aug 17, 2009

Back to school

This just in: the first day of school was awesome.

[Insert Mom's enormous sigh of relief. My only wish was that we didn't repeat last year's craziness. Check!]

Zachary and Tyler were awake and dressed before my eyelids creaked open this morning. Zach even made his own lunch. Our morning was pretty much business as usual -- spilled milk at breakfast, scripture reading interspersed with sibling rivalry, Gavin demanding "more" every five seconds -- so we even had time for photos in the front yard.

It's a good thing we had a few extra minutes, because some of the neighbor kids (who attend a different school and don't start until Wednesday) thought 7:55 a.m. was a good time to socialize. But eventually Zach and Tyler hopped into Dad's car and zoomed off for school.

Garry was kind enough to take pictures for me as Tyler got settled in his kindergarten classroom for the first time. He was comfortable right away. Garry said that many of the parents were teary-eyed, and that the teacher almost cried herself! Yikes...we aren't that way. Tyler has been excited for school for such a long time, and we were more than happy to see him embrace the adventure! Three cheers!

Ty was pretty nonchalant when I picked him up before lunch. It was as though he'd been going to kindergarten for big deal! He wanted to know what he could eat and when he could play -- and that was before getting in the van to go home. He even refused to help me make our traditional back-to-school chocolate chip cookies! (What does it say about me that his refusal to help with cookies made me more sad than sending him off to school?) I made them myself while Gavin napped, and I must say -- they are delicious.

It's pretty clear that Tyler will miss Zachary and the other neighborhood kids in the afternoons. We'll have to set up some afternoon play dates for him -- pronto! The second Zach walked in the door, he wanted to run out and play with his friends. So that's what happened! A few minutes later, Zach ran back in to stuff a cookie in his mouth...he wasn't even done chewing before he ran outside again.

It was a happy day.

Aug 16, 2009

Last lazy summer days

With the start of school looming before them, the boys have been trying to eke out every scrap of sunshine and play time they can. They have spent long hours outdoors and with friends, getting as dirty and as tired as possible. Come Monday, we'll have a schedule to keep.

Here's a little sampling of this week's activities.

The sand pit in the back yard has provided hours and hours of entertainment. Tunnels and forts and ramps and castles were built. Army men were uncovered and buried again. This was all fun and good until the boys got Daddy's shovels out of the shed and left them in the rain, where they got rusty. The sand pit has been banned for a bit.

Gavin has developed a love for puttering in the back yard. If the side gates are closed, he will play contentedly with balls and sticks and rocks and swings for a good long time. If I send him out with a snack, he's even happier.

For more than a year, Gavin has jumped in the contraption we hang from the doorway every day while I take a shower. He's not a huge fan of such confinement, and he's getting big enough that wrestling him into the jumper is a tricky job. So this is our new arrangement: port-a-crib plus movie. If left in this position for long (and without brotherly interruption), Gavin inevitably falls asleep. This has created our household's newest catch phrase: If he stops, he sleeps.

Tyler really likes to play the piano. If you look closely, you can see that the metronome is set on its very highest speed, making the boys' raucous duet even more delightful.

Also indoors: Lexi's swing. She loves it, and I love that she loves it. I noticed the other day how far her legs stick out the bottom now. She's definitely a growing girl! She also moves a lot...just like her brothers. Lexi is three months old now -- amazing!

When they are bored, Zach and Ty go looking for friends. When friends are nowhere to be found, they get into trouble. Or sometimes they get into trouble anyway. This week, one neighbor told me that my kids needed to quit throwing crab apples over her fence; her dogs were eating them and puking in her house. Another day Zach jumped on Tyler's bed and broke half of the support slats under his mattress. Tyler "colored" on the TV with a heavy-duty magnet and permanently distorted the color. At a different neighbor's house, they threw wrenches at a dozen cans of Diet Coke, spilling soda all over the garage floor. Then they shattered a ceramic duck into the mess just for fun.

We are hoping that fall sports will keep our boys busy enough that they won't get into too much trouble. Zachary started flag football this week, and Tyler starts soccer on Monday. For the rest of August, their practices will occur simultaneously at the same park. In September, we'll have trouble -- Zach will have games at a park 30 minutes away, and Tyler will play on the same nights at a different (closer) park. We thought we were being schedule-smart...but our careful planning backfired. Oh, well! Below, Zach is in the green shirt on the right. Gavin is munching on the sidelines.

On Friday night -- the last weeknight of summer -- Tyler achieved the summer goal I set for him. He [re]learned to ride his two-wheeler! After initially mastering the bike last fall, Tyler got a case of the nerves in the spring and refused to ride it. It has lain dormant on the porch all summer. Hopefully there's enough good weather left that Tyler can keep his confidence up after the snow falls.

Here's a little video clip of Tyler on his bike. What a champ!

So long, Summer!

Portrait of a family

Last weekend, Garry dusted off his photography equipment and took senior portraits for a girl in our ward. This effort included setting up a backdrop and lighting in our garage. We decided that before taking it down we'd like to get some studio-type shots of our kids.

You might be able to imagine how that went.

But if you can't, I will show you.

After the loud, crazy circus that produced 168 photos, we were thrilled to have these five to preserve for posterity.

Grandparents (or other adoring fans), let us know if you'd like some prints.

pass it on!

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