Jan 28, 2012

January goals revisited

January is almost over.  Even though it's been a very long month at my house, I still shake my head in disbelief when I look at the calendar.  Time marches on!

I am very glad I set health-related goals for January.  Making better choices about diet and exercise has been a good way to kick-start the year.  Doing a separate fitness challenge was probably a mistake, because I feel lots more pressure than I would if I was relying on my internal motivation alone.  It's too much; I might bow out of that.  Live and learn!

Through this process, I have learned and/or remembered a few things about myself.

First, I am an "abstainer" rather than a "moderator."  It is SO much easier for me to cut dessert out completely than to eat it occasionally, or to have no ice cream at all than just a small serving.  On the flip side, exercising every single day (except Sunday, which I always take off) is lots easier than three days a week.  I'm an all-or-nothing girl.

Second, fruits and vegetables taste yummy and are very satisfying.  I love apples.

Third, I am rarely hungry.  If I only eat when I'm actually hungry, I don't eat nearly as often as I habitually wander into the kitchen.  And I'm not always hungry at traditional mealtimes, which is complicated, since I live with and am responsible to feed six other people.

Fourth, I am a very emotional eater.  The last two weeks have been really rough, and I'm sorry to say I abandoned my goals for a while in favor of old habits.  My empty resolution chart has haunted me, which hasn't helped my mood!  I keep telling myself that tomorrow is a new day...

Fifth, exercise makes me happy.  Endorphins coupled with the uplifting material I'm reading in the Ensign magazine (during my walking periods) can boost my mood significantly.  When I'm walking/jogging, good things click into place mentally and I feel empowered to do better in many areas of my life.  

So now, at the end of January, as I take account of my efforts to change, I think that overall it has been a successful month.  I'm glad I will continue with my health-related goals throughout the year.  It will take a long time to extinguish bad habits and solidify the good.  Because of my persistent ill health and imbalanced hormones, I haven't lost a single pound, my clothes feel exactly the same, and I haven't been able to change how I feel, but I don't think my January goals were a waste.  Onward and upward!

Jan 26, 2012

To sleep or to learn?

Gavin is giving up on naps.  *sigh*

I know I have been totally spoiled with a child who has napped for four solid years, but I still grieve the loss.  Since I take a nap nearly every day, Gavin's new life plan will require a significant adjustment for me.  That said, Gavin and I have had some sweet one-on-one time while his sisters have napped this week.

One day we read books in my bed.  We took turns; I read a page, and then he read a page. Gavin was delighted with the quick progress we made through his BOB books.  Then he wanted to write letters on the whiteboard.  We started with words from his books.

Gavin has also decided he wants piano lessons.  I think he's pretty young for all of that, but while he is interested, we will pursue it!  Right now he is learning about the groupings of black keys and the numbers assigned to each of his fingers.

Earlier this month Gavin formally applied to our school district's Early Access program for kindergarten.  We had to create a portfolio of Gavin's abilities in several categories, plus write a letter and have his preschool teacher write a letter endorsing the decision.  We are hopeful that Gavin will be able to start kindergarten in the fall, which would be a year ahead of schedule, and that he will be able to attend the same school as Zach and Tyler. We won't likely have the district's decision for a month or two.  If it doesn't work out, that must mean that God has something better in store for our amazing little boy....and his mama, who is really missing her naps.

Jan 24, 2012

My brain just thinks in letters now

Dear Fitness Challenge 2012,

You were a really good idea and super motivating until the Dark Days of last week (aka Wednesday through Saturday).  I have lost all motivation for drinking water, eating vegetables, and avoiding sugar.  And guess what?  I weigh exactly the same today as I did on January 1.  Hmph.

The fat lady who's ready to sing


Dear St. Patrick's Day 5K,

I was all stoked to run in your race, and had even convinced Garry to join me, but then I found out that Sheri Dew is speaking to the women of our stake at exactly the same time, so you lose.

Sorry.   But not.



Dear Hannah,

Remember last week, when I called the office where you work and the receptionist pulled you out of a meeting when I told her you hadn't called me back for eight days?  You told me that you had faxed a referral and my medical records to two different endocrinologists that morning.  I'm a sucker and believed you.  Well, the doc I want to see still doesn't have my paperwork, which means I still don't have an appointment, and I've lost another week waiting for nothing.  I promise your sense of urgency would skyrocket if you had my symptoms for 24 hours.

You said you'd fax my info again right away, but since the office manager at the new place didn't call me back today, I'm guessing that didn't happen.

Shall I visit your office tomorrow and stand over you with a pitch fork?

A disgruntled patient


Dear Echo,

You have an interesting name.  I hope that one of these days I can see your name tag in person so I can properly thank you for repeatedly looking for my patient information in your system, when in fact it has not been there.  I pray daily that your endocrinology office is more efficient and accommodating than that of my dear OB/GYN.


The squeaky wheel

Dear Summer the PA,

Just for the record, I can't remember the last time I suspected my child had an ear infection, hauled that child to the doctor, and was proven wrong.  I'm glad for Kate to be spared pain in her ears, but couldn't help but be embarrassed that I took my fifth child in for a chest cold.

The embarrassment could also have stemmed from the shocking behavior exhibited by children three and four, but in their defense (and mine), it was nap time, and none of us had slept the night before.  Maybe next time we'll shoot for sunshine and roses when we visit.


A humbled mama


Dear Mrs. Reynolds,

You are one awesome TAG coordinator.  I love that you love my kids.  I love that you bend over backwards to accommodate them.  I love that you are rooting for Gavin to start kindergarten this fall.  I love that you and the district TAG lady discuss my kids all the time.  I think you're a big reason we didn't move to Arizona.  On days when I'm mad that the relocation didn't work out, thinking of you makes me smile.

Thanks for the call today,

Zach and Ty's mom


Dear ARC,

Thanks for picking up my pile of junk today.  I love it when you call while I'm in the midst of a purging/de-cluttering project.  I don't have to haul stuff to Goodwill OR feel guilty about not supporting a charity solicitation.  Win-win.  I have to say, though, that I was a little sad to part with the ratty denim comforters.  Even though the boys have much nicer bed coverings these days, you hauled away a piece of my history today.  But I won't miss the 15-year-old measuring cups.

The donation lady


Dear ward friends,

For some reason I agreed to be in charge of games at the upcoming "high school reunion" adult party.  I'm sure you're tired of me asking you to submit completed surveys about your high school experiences. Even though entering your answers into a spreadsheet is getting a little tedious, it's pretty fun to learn about your glory days.  And the Family Feud game will be awesome.  Just thinking about how awkward I was in high school makes my toes curl, but I am planning to wear my letter jacket to the party.  (Mesa Rabbits!  We are number one!)

Heidi Dixon, class of '96


Dear neighbor to the right,

You could not have surprised me more when you knocked on the door the other day and announced that you were ready to pay for your portion of the fence we built last May.  Are you a tithing blessing?


Your neighbor to the left


Dear book club,

I'm so glad you chose to read The Count of Monte Cristo this month.  As much as I enjoyed the book (which is fiction!  I know!), the fact that Garry is listening to the audio version is even better.  Having Something In Common with my husband is quite revolutionary...and lovely!  Gretchen Rubin says couples should have one indoor activity and one outdoor activity that they like to do together.  I might die of happiness knowing that we've finally found one of the two!

Would it be too much to ask for you to figure out the other?


One happy wife

Jan 22, 2012

The free bed

On Friday afternoon a friend posted on our Relief Society Yahoo group that she was giving away a queen mattress set, frame, and headboard.  I responded immediately, thinking that surely a bigger bed would be a blessing in our household.  Within five minutes of posting the offer, my friend agreed to hold the bed for me.

[Sidebar: I find it amusing that when we were newlyweds and Garry had a lucrative job, everything we owned was new.  We didn't acquire our first piece of hand-me-down furniture until three years ago. Now we have a couch, a dresser, a desk, a bookshelf, a kid table and chairs, and a bed from generous benefactors.]

After Garry got home I pitched the bed idea to him.  The kids overheard, which kick-started a lively discussion about who would get the big bed and where it would go.  After a lengthy debate we settled on a plan.  Zachary, who has had his own room for over two years, would move in with Tyler again and share the bunk beds.  Gavin would move to Zach's old room and use the queen bed alone.  Garry picked up the bed that evening, and despite a very busy Saturday morning ahead, we decided to attack the room swap project the next afternoon.

I took some "before" pictures of the boys' messy rooms.  First, Zachary's:

And then the room Tyler and Gavin shared:


The room swap project spawned a few side projects.  When Garry took the seats out of the van to transport the mattress, he ended up vacuuming the van, which was shockingly dirty.  Moving furniture led to de-junking projects.  (I was secretly thrilled about this.)  As we moved clothing to new dressers and closets, we thinned and organized those things as well.  We filled two big trash bags with junk to toss, plus two laundry baskets with stuff to donate, sell, or put away for later.  Dealing with that will be my project on Monday.

By about 7:30 p.m., both bedrooms were clean, organized, and vacuumed.  Zachary, who was initially upset about giving up his private room, was happy with his new space.  Tyler was glad to be sharing a room with someone who will respect his belongings and share his interests.  Gavin was thrilled with his big bed and blue walls.  He has also started to rediscover some of his toys!  

Here are the "after" pictures.  Gavin's bedroom:  We don't have immediate plans to buy cute bedding for the queen bed (although we did spring for a mattress pad and a bed skirt, and will need to buy a padlock for the crawl space entrance above his bed).  Gavin picked his favorite of our "wedding quilts" to put on the bed and we called it good.  His walls are completely bare, except for the name letters he wrecked last year.  I'd like for the room to be more decorated, but he's content, so I am (trying to be) too. 

Tyler and Zach's room:  For bed spreads, the boys are using the awesome quilts Aunt Heidi made them for Christmas.  After I took these pictures, we moved a little table into the room, where Tyler can work on his Legos in peace.

In a couple of years, when the girls are ready for bigger beds, we will move them downstairs to share Gavin's room (and maybe the big bed), and move Gavin upstairs to one of the smaller bedrooms.  Maybe by then I'll be sleeping through the night and such an undertaking won't be so overwhelming!

Jan 20, 2012

Tyler at school

I found these gems in Tyler's backpack this week and thought they were worth sharing.

I love Tyler's art.  Any kind.  Anywhere.  I think this turkey looks pretty happy.  I wonder where he was going.

This story cracks me up.  Tyler is so creative!  A transcription is below the picture.

The Trimpsterator

The Trimpsterator is a deadly, cute little devil.  It lives everywhere on land and in water, but not in swamps. It may look cute at first, but it can change its head from hampster to alligator within a second.  It has 3 toes and legs and eyes like a triceratops, eyes for protection, and toes and legs for a fast getaway.  The monster-like trimpsterator has a body like a hampster and a head like a gator (most of the time).  The trimpsterator eats anything that is available for its meal!  Watch out!

Because we have children

The other afternoon, I walked into my bedroom.  I planned to take a nap, but Stanley was in my spot.

Gavin and Lexi love playing "sleepover."  They drag pillows and blankets all over the house and make beds for themselves.  Their favorite resting spots are the treadmill and the stairs.

At our house, all the kids brush their teeth in Mom and Dad's bathroom.  This routine developed when we bought an electric toothbrush.  It has four heads, so Mom, Dad, Zach, and Tyler all use it.  We have four kinds of toothpaste and six toothbrushes in the same drawer, which, ironically, resides in the smallest bathroom in the house.  It is tiny but gets LOTS of traffic.  Zach recently decided he likes the taste of my toothpaste.  I don't mind sharing, but Zach can't ever remember to replace the cap on the toothpaste, and it drives me nuts.  When this tube runs out, I'm labeling the new one "MOM ONLY."

The kids love goldfish crackers.  I hate them.

The end.

Five months!

Dearest, darlingest Kate,

Oh, how time has flown since you joined our family!  We just can't imagine life without you--and you are truly a joy in our household.

One of the new things in your life this month was the big bathtub.  You were a little tentative at first, all alone in the big sea of water, but now you love to kick and wiggle. Lexi loves to join you.  Bath time is a very happy time.

You have been sleeping in Lexi's room since the end of November, but a recent furniture move put your crib and Lexi's little bed on one wall.  One of her favorite things is climbing in bed with you when you wake up.  Gavin does this, too.  They are anxious to babysit, apparently.  They love to make you smile, and you love the company.

You are a hungry girl and drink 6 ounces of formula about every three hours.  The significant uptick in your feeding demands has helped you really fill out this month.  You weigh 15.8 pounds now, which is in the 68th percentile.  Your height, 23.5 inches, is just in the 6th percentile.

We love your darling rolls!  You wiggle and arch your back while you drink your bottle.  You are so interested in the world around you!

You don't enjoy eating rice cereal.  It's time to try oatmeal, but your general lack of enthusiasm isn't very motivating!  You do like holding spoons, though.

Your hair is getting a little longer, and the hair growing in over your bald spot is very blonde.  You and I are both growing white hairs these days!  People say you are becoming more like Gavin, and I have to agree.  I'm sure you'll have your own look eventually, but everyone comments on how you "got the Bartle stamp."  You belong to us!

Your nighttime sleep habits were taking a turn for the better around Christmastime, but have since regressed into two or three night wakings per night.  How can we help you learn that there's plenty of time for snuggles during the day?

You have discovered your voice and delight in loud shrieking.  Sometimes we can't tell if you are happily talking or bordering on terror.  Either way, you are highly entertaining. You have learned to blow raspberries with your lips and tongue.  This endlessly pleases your rowdy brothers, who like to mimic the noise you make...and the spit you produce.

You spend lots of time batting at toys hanging above you.  You don't grab toys much yet, but do hold onto toys I give you--and you put everything in your mouth.  You are learning (finally) to enjoy the swing.  It is ten years old and doesn't work especially well, but it comes in handy during piano lessons and dinner preparation.  The doorway jumper is another venue for your entertainment.  We think you quite enjoy an upright view of the world.  This is another place that Gavin and Lexi find highly amusing.  They can't wait for you to start jumping up and down.

You celebrated your first Christmas and your first New Year this month.  This time last year, I wasn't sure we would survive until your birth.  But we did!  We are so, so glad that you are here.  We love you, Katelyn Joy!

Jan 18, 2012

Classified Ads



Must be kind, temperate, patient, infinitely energetic
Drivers license required
FBI negotiation skills and/or advanced degree in child psychology desirable
Proven track record with ornery two-year-olds mandatory
May not exhibit fatigue, menopause, or flu-like symptoms (ever)

Job description:
Manage household with five children, including...
Cooking, cleaning, giving piano lessons, changing diapers
Managing schedules and transportation
Soothing, rocking, consoling, and encouraging children
Helping with homework and cub scouts
Daily laundry, dishes, ironing, shopping
Responsible for teaching manners, building character, and growing testimonies

No financial compensation
Healthcare benefits provided

Duration of employment:
Six months
Current mother checked into the loony bin with books and some chocolate

Jan 15, 2012

Notes for later

I have several partially-composed blog posts rolling around in my head, but right now my limited free time is occupied with this:

I'm not usually one to read much fiction (confession: I don't like being swept away), but in an effort to broaden my literary horizons, I decided to try this hefty classic.  And I love it.

Right now, I'm dying to know whether Valentine and Maximillian will end up together; if Mercedes ever discovers Edmond in disguise; what sinister role Benedetto is going to play; and how Monte Cristo finally exacts his revenge upon his enemies.  

Despite the fact that my reading opportunities are few and far between, I'm hoping to finish up the last 325 pages before book club meets on Thursday.  Maybe when I complete the novel, I'll catch up my blog friends on:

*blonde hairs and white hairs
*customer [dis]satisfaction
*kindergarten portfolios
*many layers of clothing
*one pound
*and maybe some other stuff

See you on the flip side!

Jan 11, 2012


Dear Kate,

How did you like the big bathtub?  Pretty fun, eh?  Even though your expression showed complete indifference, I'm hoping you liked the switch.  You were way too big for that sink tub.




Dear Kathleen,

Thanks a ton for the fabulous cinnamon rolls.  I'm sorry that my diet prevented me from tasting them, but I savored the smell and the children said they were delicious.  The dress you brought for Kate is darling, too, and I hope that one of these days I'll find the time to dive into that awesome parenting book.  I'm glad we're friends!  It's nice to know you've done what I'm doing...and that you survived.




Dear Tyler, Zach, and Garry,

I emptied my camera's memory card and you weren't in any of the pictures.  Sorry about that.


The household photographer


Dear Lexi,

You are two.  And you are CONTRARY.  Today you asked what day it was and when I told you it was Wednesday, you screamed that you didn't want it to be Wednesday.  Sorry, Sis, but I can't change the calendar.  If I could, I would change the day to Sunday, just as you wished, so that someone else could deal with you for two hours in nursery class.  And I would sneak home and take a nap.

Love (or trying to),



Dear Melinda,

Thank you for trying to help balance my crazy hormones for the last couple of months.  I think I'm ready for a second opinion.  If you could just call me back, I'd like referral to an endocrinologist, please.

Thanks much,



Dear owl-patterned shower curtain,

I love you.  Thanks for making me smile when I walk past the newly-dubbed "girls' bathroom."


Your decorator


Dear January,

Yesterday it was 60 degrees in the afternoon, and my delighted children (plus the three extras in my charge) happily jumped on the trampoline without jackets.  Today it is 20 degrees, windy, and snowy.  Can you please make up your mind?  It's easier to get the boys to wear coats when it is consistently cold.

Much obliged,

The mean mom


Dear Laundry,

I cannot believe you were off my radar for so long.  How did I forget that you needed to be done?  That error probably originated in the same part of my brain that remembers where the car keys are, or what time I fed the baby, or when I changed the baby, or where I put the baby.  That part of my brain is broken.  But there's nothing like the reality check of running out of underwear and having to go to preschool in pajama pants because nothing is clean.




Dear Memorial Health System,

Kate was born in AUGUST.  Can you stop sending us bills for her birth already?

Yours truly,



Dear House,

I'm sorry that you are so darn messy all the time.  I blame the kids.  If I clean you up real nice and don't complain, will my fairy godmother show up with a golden carriage to whisk me away?

Your servant,


Jan 10, 2012

runningfan reborn

When I started this blog back in 2008, I had to create a profile with Google.  At the time, I was training for the Hippie Chick half-marathon and generally considered myself a runner, so I picked the moniker "runningfan."  It's been four years since that day, and during that time I have rarely felt like a runner.  I haven't been lean-and-mean since high school, but my state of fitness has gradually declined through my child-bearing years.  "Tragic" is the only way to describe my physical status at present.

But I am trying to change that.  Once again, I am trying...and it feels fantastic.  This morning on the treadmill I got in touch with a part of myself that I haven't known for a very long time.  I felt like my goals were attainable and that I don't have to be bogged down by poor health forever.  I imagined taking long runs again, training for races, and having the energy to balance my many responsibilities.  Even though my treadmill stats today aren't very newsworthy, I am thrilled with them.

Two miles down, a million to go.  One step at a time.

Jan 5, 2012


Lots of silly and/or wacky things happen around here.  I thought I'd catalog just a few from this week:

I found Gavin and Lexi running on the treadmill.  Both of them.  At the same time.  Fast.

When I put an end to their fun, Gavin protested:  "But Mom!  I need my exercise!"


Just before dinner, Tyler looked around the kitchen, living room, and dining room.  He made a confused face and said, "Did you clean up this house or something?"

(Instead of being offended, I was glad that someone noticed my efforts!)


Lexi and Gavin got into Tyler's tub of Flarp (farting's as ridiculous as it sounds), and Lexi apparently wanted to get up close and personal with it.  She came upstairs with a huge wad in her hair.

I spent the next half hour picking it out, strand by strand.  Then I washed her hair thoroughly in the bathtub and combed out the rest.  Although Lexi lost a few hairs, I didn't have to cut out the Flarp.  Disaster averted.

I stepped on the scale today after a full week of my new diet and exercise regimen.  I have really reduced my caloric intake and had a 20-30-minute date with the treadmill every day.  My reward?  A three-pound weight GAIN.

I love my life.

Growing up

I don't know much, but this I do know: Time marches on, and kids grow up.

Last week Garry and I took the kids to Target to spend gift cards they got for Christmas.  They had a great time choosing the perfect things.  Zach also had some birthday money to spend (he'd been saving it for a trampoline), and after briefly perusing the toy aisles, he gravitated towards the clothing section.  Since the other kids were getting pretty wily at this point, I offered to take Zach on a special shopping trip just for clothes.  He readily agreed to this plan.

I was not emotionally prepared for this shopping trip, a fact I did not appreciate until we were standing in the men's department at Kohl's.  For the first time ever, Zach was footing the bill, and he had definite opinions about what he wanted to buy.  I was just the chauffeur for his expedition.  I quickly learned that my opinion doesn't count anymore, and being silent is the best course of action.  (Because if I like it, then he won't.)  Zach still had to abide by the household rules (no skulls, no blood, nothing violent or offensive, etc.), but he still didn't really choose things I would have chosen.  Despite his desperate need for pants, he refused to buy pants.  And so on and so forth.

That's not to say that Zach was unpleasant.  Quite the contrary!  He was a lively and talkative shopping companion.  Our relationship is just shifting, and while I am pleased with the young man Zach is becoming, his desire to grow up outpaces my desire to let go.

Gavin is making great strides of his own.  He has been showing an interest in reading, and yet he doesn't enjoy formal reading lessons like I gave his older brothers.  I decided to check out a series of books from the library to see if those might capture his interest, and they did!  While sitting on the couch in the children's section of the library, Gavin read a book all by himself for the very first time.  It melted my little mama heart.  Another reader is born.

Miss Kate is growing like a weed--a smooshy, chunky weed.  Oh, how I love her rolls!  (I'm also loving the freedom of formula feeding, but that's another story!)  Kate is starting to move, too.  She arches her back and cranes her neck and shifts her hips...certainly the precursors to rolling.  She's showing more interest in toys, chews on her fists all the time, and gives the most heart-warming dimpled grins you ever did see.

Kate is also quite the vocal performer.  She is loud!!  We play fun "talking" games with her, and even though most of her "words" sound the same, she is clearly trying to communicate.  We love it.  And we'd better, because in two or three blinks Kate will be the one with opinions about her clothes.

I'm quite certain I'm not ready for THAT.

Jan 4, 2012

Ray of sunshine

I've had a few rough days in a row, and this morning I woke up feeling kind of desperate. My morning prayer included a plea for help--any kind of help!  The day that unfolded was a certain witness that a loving Heavenly Father knows my name.  Although my problems haven't disappeared, I have renewed hope, and also gratitude for the Lord's tender mercies.

Tyler had the chance to play with his friend Owen this morning--at Owen's house.  He was beyond thrilled at the opportunity.  Zach called to see if his buddy, Trace, could come over while Tyler was gone.  Instead, Trace's mom invited Zach to spend the day with them, first playing at home, then eating lunch and going to a movie.  Suddenly both boys had super fun plans away from home!  That solved the problem of getting through the last day of winter break.

With Zach and Tyler happily occupied, the Littles and I could more easily accomplish some errands that have been on my list.  At Target we picked up a new shower curtain and rugs for the hall bathroom (Thanks, Grandma Dent!) that I'm really excited about.  Then we met Garry for lunch at Chick fil-A.  Gavin and Lexi were thrilled to romp around the play land, I was glad to see my husband in the middle of the day, and my salad hit the spot.  Kate was a gem.  It was a lovely outing.

We stopped at the library next.  Sharing a happy experience with Gavin (at the public library, no less!) was a boon for our relationship.

The next miracle happened at the pharmacy.  After talking to my doctor again yesterday, we decided I would try a new medication.  When I went to pick it up the first time, it had been processed with Kaiser insurance, but our Kaiser coverage ended December 31.  I couldn't find my new insurance card, so I had to return later.  When I went back for the medicine today, the pharmacist remembered me.  She knew my history and the crazy cocktail of drugs I'm using to try to regulate my system.  To make a long and complicated story short, she was able to fill an old prescription that Kaiser wouldn't cover, but that my current insurance DOES cover, and a month of meds only cost $9.11.  The potential cost of my prescriptions on our new insurance has weighed heavily on my mind.  I can't express my relief and elation at today's good news at the pharmacy!

When Tyler came home, he immediately ran off to play with a neighbor friend.  Then the planets aligned and the Littles all napped at the same time.  I got to rest, too.

The family enjoyed amusing and interesting dinner conversation thanks to our Table Topics cards (Thanks, Holly!), and even though dinner included the usual messes, tears, and general mayhem, I was able to laugh about it.  Now that the kids are all in bed I don't have the nearly-dead feeling that usually possesses me around 4:00 p.m.  I feel light and happy and energetic.  It's pretty amazing.

I'm very grateful for the ray of sunshine that permeated the clouds over my head today. Very, very grateful.  God is good!

pass it on!

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