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Apr 7, 2012

It's just real life.

Here's a rundown on the offspring from oldest to youngest:

Zach is a study in contrasts.  On one hand, he can be delightful, agreeable, helpful, and kind.  He willingly watches and helps Kate, pushes Lexi in the swing, and shares his gum. He jumps up and says "sure!" when I ask him to practice the piano.  He skips the grumbling when it's time to shower.  But on the other hand, his stubborn, sassy streak sometimes leaps out and throttles me (not literally, of course).  We have a dizzying relationship!

Zach worked hard to make me regret a Saturday ban on television.
Garry and I are also trying to navigate the Rescue Me dilemma.  For example, Zach had two weeks to prepare a five-minute informative speech for school.  He chose the topic of football, but beyond that, he refused to prepare.  I reminded him often that he ought to create an outline and practice his delivery.  Nothing.  I offered to help.  Garry offered to help.  Flat refusal.  The day before his presentation was a snow day.  Zach was convinced his speech would get bumped a day, and he could prepare that night after Scouts. Frustrated at his procrastination, I appealed to his teacher and asked that he be held accountable.  Though totally unprepared, Zach presented his speech on the scheduled day.  He said it was pretty short (i.e., not five minutes).  He doesn't have a grade yet.  I feel like a hard-core parent.

The next day we faced a similar challenge.  Zach was supposed to turn in a registration form for an upcoming chess tournament, but he never told me about it.  Thursday was the last day.  I was at the temple all morning, so I missed his distress calls from school.  I finally connected with Zach's chess instructor at 2:00, during Kate's nap, and learned that if the registration was not submitted that day, Zach couldn't play in the tournament.  He has been working for this all year and has earned a spot in the tournament.  I went to the school and filled out the form.  Was it the right choice?  I don't know where the line is between responsibility and a safety net!

***

Tyler is blossoming into a good little pianist.  He's marching quickly through the Level 1 books, and I'm pleased with his developing technique.  I think he enjoys playing, too, although he is easily distracted during practice time.  Gavin and Lexi often want "practice time" after hearing Tyler play some of his fun songs.

Tyler had some birthday money burning a hole in his pocket bank account, so he bought himself a Razor scooter.  His was apparently stolen from the greenway behind our house after he left it there.  After this cool purchase, Tyler had about $40 left (thank you, generous grandparents), so Tyler decided the thing he wanted most in the whole world was hot lunch at school.  We laughed at his choice but transferred the money to his account, and he's been a happy kid.

Tyler was trying really, really hard to give me a sour face.
After a season of calm, Tyler's raging fits have returned.  Sometimes, when he completely loses his temper over which chair he sits in at breakfast, I wonder what on earth is going on in his head.  I long to help settle his poor soul.  Luckily Tyler's outbursts aren't super frequent.  But they are always tough when they come.  I think that eight is just a hard age, and I sure hope he'll grow out of this phase.  Until then, I think we need a family therapist on retainer, so when drama (from any one of us) spikes at the Bartle house, I can call in a professional to deal with it! 

***

Gavin continues to be charming and hilarious.  His dimples are totally irresistible.  I really regret scrubbing his painted hand prints from the wall the other day.  I wish I was the kind of mom who could find perspective in the moment.  I would love to have a symbol on the wall that speaks to the kind of children who live here (and, of course, the mother I'd like to be).

As I also mentioned the other day, we are in the midst of re-applying for the school district's preschool program.  Unless Gavin is accepted based on his "special needs," we can't afford to have him go there.  We are hoping for a miracle!  He has had such a phenomenal experience there this year, and since kindergarten is out, we'd like him in the best situation possible.  The recent re-emergence of serious mischief and mayhem has us wringing our hands a bit.  Whenever he gets in trouble for destruction/messes/sibling abuse/disobedience, he storms off and says, "It's all my fault--everything in my life!"  I'm not sure how worried to be about that.

Gavin lays on the charm pretty thick.
Gavin's favorite thing to do is drag pillows and blankets in a pile and jump/cuddle/roll in them.  He especially likes taking cuddly things outside.  The other afternoon while I was "sleeping with one eye open," trying to get some desperately-needed rest on the couch, Gavin and Lexi dragged all of their pillows, bedding, and stuffed animals onto the trampoline.  They had lots of dead grass in bed with them that night!  (Just kidding.  But sometimes I wish I was that parent, too.)  Gavin also adores the hose.  Yesterday (high temp: 65) he filled the kiddie pool part-way and he and Lexi stripped naked and played in the frigid water.  The two Betsy doggies also played, and spent the rest of the day in the dryer.

***

Since Lexi has declared herself too big for naps, her life has gotten a little difficult.  After about 2:00 p.m. she loses the ability to function in a reasonable and respectful manner. But if I put her in her bed (or mine), she screams and kicks, which wakes up Kate, who absolutely MUST nap.  By the time dinner rolls around, if she hasn't fallen asleep in time-out or in the car, Lexi always declares herself SO TIRED.

What's not to love about 2:00 p.m. bed-head and self-serve chocolate milk?
In better news, Lexi continues to be a champ on the potty.  She's even dry most nights. I'm still so amazed at her abilities...and so grateful for the timing of her new skills!  Lexi still changes her clothes two or three times a day; one speck of food/dirt/water/etc. necessitates new clothes, including underwear.  Lexi is as darling as can be, but I still wish she would let me fix her hair.  She must have a sensitive head.  She hates it when I comb it and rubber bands and clips suddenly HURT.  So if you spot her on the street with ridiculous bedhead, mismatched clothing, and rubber galoshes on the wrong feet, just know I really do care how she looks.  I just don't care enough to fight her about it.

***

Kate woke up with bedhead of her own today.  My first thought was, "Wow!  She has enough hair to have bedhead!  Cool!"  Kate is also growing teeth.  She has a voracious appetite for "real food," including a host of strained fruits and vegetables, cereals, bread, crackers, and fruit.  (She also likes paper, books, and cords.)  Bananas are her very favorite.  She loves those things!  All of this food is in addition to the 6-oz bottle she drinks every 3-4 hours.  She's still waking up at least once--but usually twice--every night. Blessings on Garry's head for handling most of the midnight rendezvous.  

I need to try another tutu photo shoot when the lighting is better.

I think Kate will be much, much happier when she can crawl.  She wants to be where the action is and can't stand it when I walk away from her.  Sitting in the high chair or the play center or the doorway jumper sometimes satisfies her.  She loves to be upright and is a great sitter. She can definitely travel by rolling, scooting backwards, and spinning, but forward motion just hasn't happened yet.  I can tell that when Kate puts the moves together, she's going to be all over the place and into everything.  She loves sitting in front of a tub of toys and pulling everything out.

One thing Kate doesn't like is her pacifier.  *Sad face*  This girl WILL NOT be plugged. She will sometimes take a binky in the crib when she's going to sleep, but it's certainly not a necessity.  Kate has finally transitioned out of being swaddled to sleep.  She's generally super easy to put down for bed.  I'm grateful for her easy-going personality.  As the novel above attests, there's a lot going on in this house every day!

***

That brings me to two hilarious and oh-so-applicable cartoons I found via Facebook this week:



P.S.  Happy birthday {yesterday} to the Daddy in the house!
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