Dec 31, 2010

Snow on New Year's Eve

The snow that made the roads yucky on December 30 made our backyard a lot of fun on the 31st! I actually couldn't believe that the kids wanted to play in the snow; it was 4 degrees outside! But Zach and Tyler insisted, so we pulled out the storage bins full of snow gear, miraculously found the right sizes for everyone, and headed out back to play. (I should add a note that Zachary is wearing my size 7.5 snow boots until he gets his the very same size. Wow.)

Lexi had trouble navigating in the snow. Her puffy insulation seriously impeded her progress. She was kind of frustrated until we brought out the sleds (which Gavin adorably refers to as "sleighs"). Then she was thrilled!

I happened to catch this moment on camera. Hilarious!

The snow was a little powdery and wind-blown for this snowball-maker to work properly, but it promises to be tons of fun this winter.

Tyler and Zach lasted the longest outdoors, and went back for more fun today. Pretty fun!

The year in review

2010 was an adventurous year for the Bartle family! At this time last year we couldn’t have imagined the roller coaster ahead, but it was a ride full of blessings. Here is a month-by-month recap:

January: Happy New Year! Garry and Heidi feel a nudge to relocate to Mesa, Arizona to be closer to family. Garry and Heidi prepare the house to sell. Garry explores job transfers within Wells Fargo. At eight months old, Lexi learns to crawl. Zach (8) earns the Bobcat rank in Cub Scouts, and Tyler (5) becomes obsessed with reading chapter books. Heidi resolves to find joy in daily life.

February: We all enjoy watching the Winter Olympic Games. Lexi’s hair is long enough for pigtails and she hates taking a bottle. Tyler turns six, has a Lego-themed party, and explores a career in volcanology. Gavin (2) gets his first shiner, drinks a bottle of ibuprofen and a Dr. Pepper on the same day, and enters the tantrum phase. Zach gets stitches in his lip on Valentine’s Day. Lexi has three ear infections and bronchitis. We have a surprise house showing before the house is on the market. These people don’t buy our house, but later move into our ward.

March: We travel to Arizona for Heidi’s brother’s wedding. We hope to be permanent residents soon. Spring Break brings Easter, a ward split, and tons of snow to Colorado Springs. We still don’t feel the timing is right to put our house on the market. Zach enjoys his first Pinewood Derby. Garry takes Zach and Tyler skiing for the first time. Heidi gets stuck in the attic while they are gone.

April: Garry and Heidi celebrate birthdays. The tulips bloom. Zach and Tyler join an after-school running club. Lexi cuts three new teeth, learns to stand, and finally realizes bath time is not meant to torture her. Gavin discovers his ability to scale kitchen cabinets and the fridge. He drinks a bottle of Lexi’s antibiotics. Tyler learns to tie his shoes. After a near-miss at a private sale of our home, we finally put it on the market (for sale by owner).

May: Lexi turns one and begins walking (running is not far behind). School ends for the summer, just in time for a heat wave. We break out shorts and swim suits. We bid farewell to dear family friends when they move to Arizona. We hope to follow soon! The family drives to the top of Pikes Peak on Memorial Day. Zach and Tyler begin baseball season. The boys practice four days a week.

June: Keeping the house clean with four kids at home all day is impossible. House showings are happening 6-8 times a week. We receive a purchase offer for $75K below our asking price. Heidi loses her mind. She and the kids move in with her parents in Mesa. Everyone hopes the house will sell quickly. Zach and Tyler spend two weeks with Grandma and Grandpa Bartle in Nevada and Utah. Garry returns to an empty house in Colorado on Father’s Day. We hire a real estate agent.

July: Swimming, swimming, and more swimming helps us survive the Arizona heat. Lexi weans herself from nursing. Gavin visits the ER twice – once for possible meningitis and once for drinking a bottle of Benadryl. He escapes without medical consequences both times. Zach and Tyler play lots of video games. We enjoy frequent associations with cousins, grandparents, and friends. Family life is the best! There is no movement on the house front. We have two showings in six weeks.

August: We return to Colorado, take our house off the market, and abandon all moving plans. We bask in the blessing of living as a complete family. Zach begins third grade and Tyler begins first grade (yay!). Zach joins a tackle football team. Tyler begins a Musikgarten class that provides fun for the whole family. Heidi is called to teach Relief Society at church.

Zach plays center and nose guard for the Rampart Rams. Garry and the big boys attend the BYU v. Air Force football game. Garry and Heidi take turns with two-week bouts of bronchitis. Tyler and Zachary endure croup. We have new carpet installed in our house and paint two bedrooms. Zach earns the Cub Scout Wolf badge. Gavin’s mischief is put into perspective when he almost dies. We thank his guardian angels daily.

October: Zachary turns nine and enjoys hamburger cupcakes. Lexi is imitating every word we say. Tyler loves school; Zach just tolerates it. Football season ends. We revel in the glorious Fall colors in our city, then bag all of the leaves in our yard. Gavin gives up diapers. Our oven dies and we replace it. Garry works 83 hours one week. Garry is called to the Sunday School presidency. We attend a Halloween carnival and acquire two goldfish. Gavin kills them the next day.

November: Two dear family friends are baptized into our church. Garry performs the baptisms and Heidi speaks at the service. We have never known such joy! Lexi joins the nursery at church, but Gavin continues his nursery boycott, which began with the ward split in April. Gavin spends lots of time twenty feet up the backyard tree, on top of the fridge, and on top of the van. He turns “free” and celebrates with a Diego birthday cake. Zach earns the Leadership ribbon in Cub Scouts, Garry earns an award at work, and Heidi earns more gray hair. We celebrate Thanksgiving with family in Arizona and count our blessings.

December: Lexi has four ear infections in five weeks and is scheduled to receive ear tubes in January. Garry completes a grueling 32-hour shift at work. We enjoy the first real snowfall of the season, find the perfect Christmas tree, and celebrate the season with a daily devotional. We become secret elves for the 12 Days of Christmas. Garry's parents and Grandma visit for a few days after Christmas. We count our blessings from 2010 and welcome a fresh start in 2011.

Dec 30, 2010

It's always fun when Grandma comes

Garry's parents and Grandma arrived at our house for a visit on the first day after Christmas. It was a whirlwind day. Garry took the Littles and left for the Denver airport at 7:30 a.m. I dropped the big boys at a friend's house at 8:45 so I could attend the mission farewell of a dear friend at 9:00. Garry's car load met mine at home at 10:30. I greeted our guests, then set about making lunch for everyone, dinner for later, and dessert for a baptism that evening. When the food was under control, I spent some time practicing my piano solo for Sacrament Meeting. Pretty soon it was time to get ready for our 1:00 church meetings.

During Sacrament Meeting, I rotated between our pew, the piano bench, and the hallway. I was pleased that piano solo went so well. (Check!) I was released as a Relief Society teacher and sustained as a Gospel Essentials instructor. During the second hour of church I gave my first Gospel Essentials lesson to new members and investigators. Garry and his family joined the class. Class ran over a bit, so I was too late to Relief Society to perform my usual piano-playing duties. It was nice to take a breather during that class!

Back at home, we all ate the dinner I had prepared before church. There wasn't enough food, but no one complained. Shortly after we cleaned up, I headed out to a baptism at the stake center. Three children of a woman I visit teach were baptized. I prayed at the service, provided dessert, and tended to the youngest sibling of those being baptized so that their non-member father could pay attention. The service was wonderful.

Happily, the rest of the time the Bartles were here was much more relaxed. In fact, we hardly left the house. Looking back through the pictures, I can't believe that I don't have one of all of the kids with all three grandparents. How tragic! I guess everyone was too busy having fun.

Awesome memories were made as the kids all made music with Grandma Great. She brought them instruments for Christmas -- real harmonicas for the big boys, maracas for Lexi, and a recorder for Gavin. Grandma Great showed the boys how to play the harmonicas and gave them music to learn and practice. The five of them made quite a band that night!

Lexi and Gavin were happy to get to know their grandparents. They have really turned a corner with their intense social anxiety. (They BOTH went to nursery without a parent on Sunday!) It was sweet to see them hug, cuddle with, and talk to Grandma, Grandpa, and Grandma Great.

Grandpa Bartle works at BYU, so he brought each of the kids adorable BYU beanies. Grandma Great also brought a cute headband for Lexi, which I put on, just for kicks and giggles.

There was also lots and lots of candy to go around. Lexi loved the lollipop that matched her pajamas.

One day the kids were going stir-crazy in the house, so despite temperatures hovering just above freezing, we all went outside to run and ride. The boys all tried out their new Christmas skates. Lexi wanted to ride her bike, but was happiest when Grandma pulled her in the wagon. While the kids played and the women took pictures, Garry and his Dad tightened Gavin's training wheels, fixed the side gate, and attached a kick stand on Tyler's bike.

The kids played a lot of cards and board games with their grandparents. We went out to eat twice. We relaxed and watched movies. The only real outing happened on the 29th, when Garry accompanied his parents, grandma, and all three boys to Skate City. (Lexi and I enjoyed a nap at home!) Good times were had by all.

With so many adults in the house, I enjoyed a much-needed break from my child-rearing responsibilities and enjoyed some solo shopping, painting at a friend's house, afternoon naps, and time to work on Blurb books. It was a win-win-win week!

Just as the hour of the Bartles' departure arrived, snow showed up in our city. Temperatures plummeted and it seemed a big storm was upon us. Our guests departed for Denver much earlier than planned, which was a good thing. They encountered heavy traffic, snow, and slick roads, but still caught their flight. The return trip to Colorado Springs was just as treacherousfor Garry and the boys! We were glad to hear that Garry's parents and grandma made it home safely, and I was happy to welcome home my boys after seven hours on yucky roads that day.

What an adventurous week! Thanks for coming, grandparents!

Dec 29, 2010

Mail call

Around 5:30 this evening, with dinner simmering on the stove, I put on a coat, grabbed my keys, and walked down the street to pick up the mail. It was nearly dark, but as I walked home, I thumbed through the large collection of envelopes, magazines, and shopping ads. One envelope, addressed to me, had a handwritten note on the front: "personal." Intrigued, I slid the envelope open with a finger in the fading light.

On the driveway the red and green Christmas lights on my house provided enough light to read the letter.

Dear Heidi:

On behalf of the Women's Conference Committee, it is my pleasure to invite you to participate as a presenter in the BYU Women's Conference, to be held April 28 and 29, 2011.

That's when I stopped reading. I couldn't really think.

I threw open the front door, dropped the rest of the mail and raced downstairs, where Garry was sitting with his dad and the kids. There I flipped on the lights, interrupted conversations, and read the whole letter aloud. I was laughing as I read. Was this really happening? To me?

But apparently it is happening. I have exchanged emails with the friend on the Women's Conference committee who submitted my name for approval. I have formally accepted the invitation to present. I am humbled...and kind of excited!

How crazy is that?

Dec 25, 2010

Our Christmas

As stressful and crazy as the days and weeks leading up to Christmas were, the actually holiday was very low-key at our house. We enjoyed a few simple traditions and time as a family.

Our one-present-on-Christmas-Eve tradition was so fun. The kids were totally thrilled with their new jammies. Considering how much I shopped and how many pairs I returned, I was a happy mama when the moment of truth was met with giggles and whoops. Even Mom and Dad got new nightclothes.

With lasagna in our bellies (somehow this has become our annual Christmas Eve dinner), and new pajamas on our bodies, we watched
A Christmas Carol on TV and went to bed! Santa's Workshop didn't officially close until about midnight. Mrs. Claus was pretty tired on Christmas morning, but at least the Littles slept through the night!

The kids were pretty anxious for their presents on Christmas morning. We managed to delay until just after 6:30...and then we let them loose! There wasn't much order to the chaos that followed -- just lots of fun! Each of the kids was quickly enamored with the one unwrapped gift that Santa left for them. Lexi and Gavin had especially priceless reactions.

The kids' dear grandparents and cousins spoiled them with generous and exciting gifts. From yummy Idaho Spuds to books, toys, games, and cash, the kids received so many fun things from our awesome relatives. When the big boys worked through their respective piles, they were happy to assist their younger siblings. The resulting pile of paper, ribbon, cardboard, and plastic packaging made for an impressive display -- and quite a deposit for the trash company! Nothing but smiles was left behind.

The rest of Christmas Day was wonderful for the kids. They played so well with each other and with their new things. One hit was the game Twister. It was hilarious to watch.

After reading a new book and taking a g.l.o.r.i.o.u.s Christmas nap, I spent the rest of the day working. Despite every effort to prepare ahead of time, there was still tons of housework and laundry to do in anticipation of Ga
rry's family's arrival on Sunday. I also had to put finishing touches on a piano solo for Sacrament Meeting and a lesson for Gospel Principles class the next day. Happily, all of that work paid off, Sunday's responsibilities were successfully executed, and we welcomed Garry's family for a few days of fun.

On to the next Christmas adventure!

Dec 24, 2010

Sharing a tradition

Baking and decorating sugar cookies is a big holiday tradition in this house. The activity has morphed over the years, and I have relaxed about the outcome of the cookies. This year was the most laid-back yet, and we shared the fun with Annie and Gavin, our awesome new friends. We have spent a lot of time together lately, and with many hours to fill during our winter break from school, they have been a blessing in our lives!

Tyler and Annie baked most of the cookies together last Friday while I was out to lunch with a dear friend who is leaving on a mission with her husband next week. I froze the cookies that afternoon and thawed them in time for our decorating party Thursday afternoon. I whipped up {way too much} frosting, Annie supplied all kinds of sprinkles, and we let the kids have a free-for-all. It was delightful.


Big Gavin was the most meticulous of the bunch. Little Gavin was obsessed with sprinkles. Lexi just liked to shake sugar onto her tray, Tyler focused on two masterpiece cookies, and Zachary adopted the frost-and-eat, frost-and-eat method. Annie helped a lot and I took pictures.

We saved just enough cookies to leave on a plate for Santa Claus tonight. Yum!

Christmas greetings

Special thanks to the dear family and friends
who enrich my life in so many ways!

I hope you have a glorious holiday!

Dec 22, 2010

Various & Sundry

At 3:12 a.m., when Lexi woke up and needed attention, my brain clicked on and now I can't sleep. Perhaps a little rambling will cure the insomnia.
  • Betsy, Lexi's lovey, was missing for most of the day. I finally found her at 9:00 p.m. in the refrigerator. Since the yogurt was on the family room carpet, I'm assuming they just decided to switch places for the day.
  • Gavin's latest hobby is clogging toilets. He does his business and uses an entire roll of toilet paper to clean up after himself. Then he plunges (unsuccessfully) when the toilet floods.
  • Balmex, the diaper cream, when generously applied to platinum-blond hair, gives a child of fair complexion a rather ghostly hue. It is also quite repellent to removal efforts. After employing a few shampoos, Dawn, and vinegar to remove it, Lexi is tired of the tub, but her hair is slightly less greasy. A few more vinegar rinses ought to do the trick.
  • Plastic toy bins, when used as weapons, can punch holes in bedroom doors.
  • Thirty-two degree weather is, in fact, too cold for playing basketball in the driveway (even for the nine-year-old who insists on wearing shorts).
  • So many Cub Scouts are scrambling to earn Centennial ribbons that they are no longer in stock at the regional office.
  • Comcast has sold our phone number to every solicitor on the planet. I may not answer your phone call for fear that you will try to sell me something. (Feel free to comment, Fictitious Marc Casem.)
  • Getting letters in the mail from my 80-something-year-old pen pal is one of my very favorite things.
  • Hiring a mid-afternoon babysitter so I could complete Christmas shopping all alone yesterday was probably my best investment in recent history. The new church outfit I bought might come in a close second (haha).
  • Speaking of the new outfit, I told Garry he could wrap it up and give it to me for Christmas. He looked at me strangely...and then said he had just purchased new shoes for himself that I could wrap for Christmas morning!
  • Taking four kids to get second doses of flu shots is infinitely easier when the nine-year-old isn't having a tantrum. Walking into the pediatrician's office with the three-year-old screaming and flailing in my arms is a good way to announce the family's arrival.
  • I locked Lexi out of my bathroom today while I took a shower. She screamed, and then laid down on the floor outside the bathroom and kicked the door with her feet for a few minutes. I assumed she gave up and decided to play with the toys I got out for her. Nope. She fell asleep.
  • Garry is my hero for taking four kids to Pack Meeting so I could go visiting teaching.
  • A root beer float (especially with Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla ice cream and A&W root beer) is the perfect night cap.
  • There are only three days left for me to add a blanket stitch to fleece baby doll blankets for Lexi. Will I make it?
  • I feel a yawn coming on. Is that because this is boring or because I am tired?

Dec 20, 2010

So far today

Broken: one rubber spatula, one egg on the floor

Spilled: one box of cereal (on the stairs), two cups of milk (on the table), one jumbo box of goldfish (on the carpet)

Ruined: one double recipe of chocolate drop cookies

Burned: one sheet of chocolate drop cookies, two fingers, and one arm

Lost: several tempers

Found: resolution to never bake for the holidays again

Dec 18, 2010

Holiday festivities

Despite a frenetic week fraught with illness, our family has managed a few Christmas celebrations worth documenting.

The first took place Friday. Tyler came home from school Thursday with the stomach flu (making him Sick Kid #3 in this house this week), and since he threw up for the last time around 4:00 that afternoon, I kept him home on Friday, too. He was pretty bummed to miss the holiday party in his class, so we had one of our own at home.

First, we rolled out and baked sugar cookies. I had to take two dozen to the ward party that night, so the kids helped. Wow....that was a workout! I never thought baking was an aerobic activity, but managing this effort was pretty taxing. Lexi and Gavin filled their bellies with tons of dough, but we did end up baking a few cookies. My friend Annie spent the afternoon with Tyler and they baked the rest.

Other winter party activities: coloring wooden masks and making paper snowflakes. I probably should have consulted an online tutorial, since my memory failed me when I put scissors to paper. But we had fun anyway. Tyler felt special, and we didn't have the TV on all morning, which made me feel good.

The second celebration was the Cordera Ward Christmas Party. I attended that with the three boys while Garry stayed home with Lexi. [Sidebar: At 4:30 Friday afternoon, Garry completed a 32-hour marathon at work. Basically he went to work Thursday morning and didn't come home until Friday afternoon. Around 2:30 a.m. Friday, he started throwing up, but that didn't deter him from his important deadline. He pressed on through the day, eating nothing and drinking little. He and Lexi went to bed at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and Garry slept until 8:30 a.m. Saturday. He also took a four-hour nap Saturday and is feeling much better now.]

So, back to the was probably the best ward party we have ever attended. I was very impressed with the execution! It was super kid-friendly but fun for adults, too. Gavin only got lost once, so I count the evening a success! Here is the only picture I have from last night.

We all enjoyed frosting sugar cookies, singing carols, and eating a scrumptious dinner with friends. Gavin was especially excited when he was chosen to stand on stage and jingle some bells during the carols. We just missed part of our family!

This morning we continued to party, though, and went to a Breakfast with Santa activity at church. And look who joined us: Daddy! We were also happy to see our friends, Annie, Danny, and Gavin at the breakfast.

Zachary is officially too old to sit on Santa's lap (or even stand by him, or wear pajamas in public), so I don't have any pictures of him. But I am elated that the younger kids were willing to pose with the jolly old soul. Lexi was a sticky mess between the candy cane and the pancake syrup, but we sure had a fun morning.

Ho ho ho!

pass it on!

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