Jul 31, 2012

A {couch} story

At long last, the couch is complete.  Here's a brief history of this epic project.

May 22: Garry buys lumber and supplies.  He is itching to use the power tools he got for his birthday in April.

June 13: First day of construction.  Garry builds the frame for the bottom of the love seat.

June 16: Garry makes the back of the love seat and attaches it to the base frame.  The kids "help."  Lexi develops a love of tools and begins a phase of tinkering in the garage without permission.  I sew the slipcover for the back of the love seat.

June 30: After a two-week hiatus from the project, Garry uses a staple gun to attach burlap to the back of the love seat.  I help.

July 5: Garry builds the base to the longer couch.

July 11: Garry makes the couch feet, which include lots of router detail.  Later he cuts them all in half because they are too tall.  He also uses the router to make designs in the wood that will trim the bottom of the couches.

July 14: Garry captures this awesome self-portrait during a day in the garage.  Kate is his buddy for a while and enjoys jammin' to his music.

July 17: I begin sewing all of the pillow covers (8) and cushion covers (3).

July 20: I finish sewing the pillows and the second cushion cover.

July 21: I nearly break out in hives because the dining room and our garage are chaos personified.  At the same time.  For several days.

July 22: I finish ironing and stuffing all of the pillows and cover all the cushions.  They live in our {tiny} bedroom for a week.

July 25: Garry adds upholstery to the love seat (most of it, anyway).  This involves adding batting to each pad using spray adhesive, then covering it with the slipcover I made, then rolling the edges around upholstery tacking, and then stapling it in place.

July 26: Scott Whittington helps Garry move our old couches out of the basement and into the garage (because we have so much room in there) in preparation for Friday's carpet cleaning.  I list the couches on Craigslist (no sale yet).

July 26&27: Garry stains the feet and trim.  The first stain is much too red for my taste, so the second coat is a lovely espresso color.  Much better.

July 28: With Tyler's help, Garry adds burlap to the back of the long couch and corner piece.  Garry upholsters the remaining couches.  This is a long and laborious process.  I make the slipcover for the corner piece, which taxes my brain and my fingers.  I'm not thrilled with the results, but it is d.o.n.e, and that has to be good enough.  Josh Roy and Don Davis help Garry take the couches into the basement, where he will eventually finish them.  The corner piece gets wedged in the stairway.  Garry removes the hand rail.  I clean the kitchen and pretend I'm on a beach in Hawaii.  The evening ends at 11:30 with three couch pieces in the basement, two of which aren't quite complete.

July 29: We enjoy a blissful day of rest from this labor.

July 31:  It is finished!  Garry stays up into the wee hours of Tuesday morning, despite major flu symptoms (thank you, Zach and Kate), to put the last pieces together.

Someday I hope to swap out the {ugly} coffee table, add curtains and throw pillows, and put something interesting on the walls.  But I'm definitely done with DIY, and cash for such things isn't flowing at present.

And there you have it: a history of the couch project.

Garry had a fantastic time building the couches and did a wonderful job.  I think he enjoyed every minute of creativity and construction.  The project was FAR more time- and labor-intensive than I anticipated, which was frustrating for me.  It was sure an enormous endeavor to take on with our young and busy family.  That said, I am very pleased with the way it all turned out.  I love the bright color in the basement and hope we'll enjoy Garry's handiwork for years to come.

Jul 30, 2012

Scenes from a walk

This morning the children were awake and fighting much earlier than the parents were ready to deal with them.  Since I do not have the gift of being able to go back to sleep once awakened, I decided to take Kate on a walk.  Tyler joined me at the last second.  We set out around 6:30.  Even though I had to shorten my stride and my route to accommodate Tyler and his too-small flip-flops, the next 40 minutes were perfectly lovely.

I had great companions:

And enjoyed some lovely scenery:

We saw hot air balloons:

And happy wildflowers:

This was my favorite sight:

But the sun rising through the trees was pretty awesome, too:

As was this face looking up at me:

And these two cuties greeted us when we got home:

What a nice way to start the day (even if I am tired).

Jul 27, 2012

Apology letters

Dear JoAnn employees,

Sorry for being that customer tonight--you know, the one that runs into the store ten minutes before closing and needs three kinds of fabric cut.  Thank you for being patient with me, even when I accidentally knocked down a huge bolt of felt and the metal rod holding up the entire display.

And thank you that everything I wanted to buy was on sale, so that leaving my coupon in the car wasn't financially irresponsible.


The late shopper

Dear Bill,

I am sorry that you had to visit the Bartle House of Horrors today.  Sorry that Kate screamed for the entire duration of your carpet cleaning activities.  Sorry that Gavin kept getting in your way.  Sorry that Zach threw up while you were in the room.  Sorry that Lexi's favorite word is a very screechy "NO!!!!"  Sorry there was gum in the family room carpet (but thanks for getting that out).  Sorry that stuff was all over the rug when it was time to clean it (although, why did you clean it after the master bedroom and before Kate's room, which are next to each other, instead of after all the rooms in that hall?).  Sorry that I snapped at you when you gave me a lecture on why a "high traffic family" like ours needs to have professional carpet cleaning services more often than every two years.

And I am sorry that I judged you because you don't have all of your teeth.

Ashamed but not,

The lady who signed your fat check

Dear Mary,

You are probably more than 80 years old, and I know you spend most of your life staring out your living room window (because you tell me that you do).  I am sure you are genuinely concerned about Gavin's safety in the street.  I am VERY aware that his bike-riding habits do not conform with generally accepted safety practices, and that he is severely lacking in common sense.  I'm glad you called the garbage company about the crazy truck driver who barrels down the cross-street every Friday at noon.  And I really hope that lunatic never drives over one of my children because he/she didn't look both ways.

But I am really, really (extra especially) tired of your lectures, even though you mean well, and even though you are the nicest neighbor I have.  Sorry for snapping at you today.  I was a little tired of Bill, and of my errant children, and of Friday in general, when our paths crossed this afternoon.


Your harried neighbor

Dear Zach,

I'm sorry I haven't had more compassion for your throbbing head and rolling stomach and aching limbs today.  I'm sorry you couldn't hear the TV over the roar of the carpet cleaner.  I'm sorry Gavin kept taking the remote, and that he hit you on the head with it. And I'm sorry your bed was just.too.far.away for your comfort.  I really hope that the priesthood blessing Dad and Brother Davis gave you this afternoon will send your bug packing.  I'll make you a yummy breakfast in the morning if you feel like eating.  Or maybe Dad will.  (Let's be realistic.)

Yours forever,


Dear Mailbox,

I hadn't visited you for several days, so I'm sure you were glad to see me this afternoon. But then I left the stroller (and four days of mail, harvested from your dark recesses) in the yard, and consequently in the rain.  Sorry about that.  Maybe if you ever offered something more interesting than Red Plum ads and credit card applications, I'd be more responsible with your goods.

I guess this isn't really an apology.


The owner of the box number that is one different than our Oregon box number, who can never remember which one it is, so she tries both, even after four years

Dear waistline,

It's been such a bad week for you and I.  Wow.  We were doing so great there for a while!  I wonder if the YMCA thinks we have died.  Won't the daycare lady be surprised when we show up on Monday, and instead of being dead, you'll be twice your usual size?

But weren't those peanut M&Ms fantastic?  Man, I have missed those something fierce.



Dear kids,

Sorry you {all} hated dinner.  After my cooking hiatus, I'm sure you were all excited that I actually fixed a hot meal tonight.  Sidebar: You never complain about toaster waffles or sandwiches or cereal or whatever choose-your-own randomness I serve, but I feel guilty anyway.

Broccoli really isn't so bad, you know.   You'll figure that out when you're the parent-in-charge-of-meals, or when your spouse makes you eat it regardless of your opinion.

{Love you, Garry.}

The chef

Dear Psych,

In my quest to find re-run television programs that will put me to sleep and not give me nightmares, I have started watching you.  Guess what?  You're so boring and dumb that I can't sleep.  I just stay awake being annoyed that you're boring and dumb.  So I'm sorry that you won't be gracing my Netflix cue.

Actually, I'm not, and this isn't really an apology either.  Maybe it's time for bed.

Yours in fatigue,



On the way to swimming lessons on Monday, Zach threw up in the car.

I know. GROSS.  He was sitting in the front passenger seat and barfed all over himself and the dashboard.  I was backing out of our cul-de-sac when it happened.  I pulled right back into the driveway and declared swimming lessons canceled.

Zach took a three-hour nap.

Honestly, I thought that was it.  Zach has a nervous stomach.  It is also very sensitive to junk food and automatically regurgitates when he overeats.  I assumed he'd be all better in a few hours, but he wasn't.

Now it's Friday, the fifth consecutive day that Zach has spent in this manner:

He's had terrible headaches, a fever, and virtually no appetite, and he dry heaves a lot (mostly in the middle of the night).  He started coughing this morning.  Garry went to Albertson's for cough drops at 6:00 a.m.

Kate is also under the weather.  I originally attributed her ongoing grumpiness to teething, but it turns out her gums aren't swollen or broken at all.  She must have what Zach has.  Only instead of blithely reclining on the couch, she screams and refuses to sleep.

Today she was hysterical for almost the entire 2.5 hours that the carpet cleaner guy was here.  She didn't want me to hold her.  She didn't want to be on the floor, or in her jumper, or the exersaucer, or the stroller, or even the back yard swing.  She wouldn't eat or drink or take a bottle.  She just cried and cried and cried.

Naturally, so did I.

Yesterday I grabbed a few groceries for the sick ones: popsicles, Gatorade, juice and soda, and applesauce.  The rest of what you see here is for me: vanilla ice cream and [lots of] peanut M&Ms.

At this point, emotional eating is my only strategy.

Jul 24, 2012

Multi-lingual family

Have you read this awesome book?

For some reason it came to mind the other night as I pondered the range and variety of our kids' personalities.  Actually,  I think the trigger was getting three bear hugs from Gavin in the space of about two minutes.  I said to Garry,  "That kid's love language is physical touch."

We went down the list.

Zach feels loved when he receives gifts.  He doesn't necessarily use all of the gifts he receives, but getting the gift makes him happy.  He's a collector.

Tyler thrives on words of affirmation.  He needs to hear how great he is,  or what a good job he did, or how much he is loved.

Gavin's love language is physical touch.  He needs skin-to-skin contact quite regularly, whether it's a crushing hug, a tickle on the arm, or a back rub.

Lexi loves spending quality time with people.  She's a girl who appreciates one-on-one reading, playing games, and running errands.  She likes to go where I'm going and hold my hand.

Kate is too young to figure out just yet, but we decided she must respond to acts of service in order to represent the last love language on the list. Since she is baby, this is actually fits pretty well!

Garry has two love languages: receiving gifts and words of affirmation.  I try hard to show love for him in these ways.

And mine, without a doubt, is acts of service.  Do something nice for me and I'll feel your affection more strongly than any other way.

It's not surprising that our family is so varied in its perceptions of love.  It's good for me to remember,  though, so I can practice the kind of loving actions that each person would like to receive.

Do you know your love language?

Jul 22, 2012

eleven months

My baby!  I can't believe she's growing up so fast.

Case in point: This girl is walking.  Most of the time she prefers it, in fact.  She strikes out on her own now, crossing rooms, turning corners, backing up and starting again.  She has even stood herself up without support.  Sometimes I cry a little.  But mostly I'm happy to see Kate on the move, exploring her world with her feet on the ground and her hands in the air.

Here's a little video of her walking, babbling, and climbing.  It's about three minutes long.

Kate took a tumble down the staircase when someone left the gate open earlier this week.  She had a bit of a black eye and a scratch on her cheek, but her amazing immune system went to work and now there's no sign of the injury.  Kate is actually quite proficient on the stairs.  She taught herself to turn around and go down the stairs, and of course she climbs all the way up with ease.  Climbing on anything and everything is one of her favorite pastimes.

Another sign of growing up is Kate's increasing resistance to sleep.  [Waa.]  As much as she enjoys her bottle, she knows that when I cradle her in my arms and walk into her bedroom, it's sleepy time.  Then she goes all stiff-as-a-board on me and howls to high heaven.  I'm not a big fan of the cry-it-out routine, but poor Kate has subjected herself to it by refusing to sleep when it's time.  Twice this week she has won the battle; one day she didn't nap at all, and the other she only napped for an hour in the afternoon. It's quite tragic, really.  I can't say I'm super surprised, though.  Kate wants to be where the action is, and that is most assuredly not in her crib.

Kate is working on tooth number seven.  On another (and possibly related) note, she has developed the intense screech that is a trademark of all Bartles (at least those who reside with us).  It's a fist-clenching, muscle-tensing, ear-piercing experience...and a clear sign that Kate wants something she doesn't have.  We mostly hear the screech at meal time.  We are teaching Kate the signs for "more," "drink," "eat," and "all done."  So far, "more" is the only one that is clicking, but hopefully with a few signs at her disposal we won't all go deaf by Christmas.  Other words I'm trying to teach her: out, up, and help.

The great outdoors is Kate's favorite place to be.  She swings in the backyard every day.  She has visited quite a number of parks this summer and would be content to swing her life away.  She loves to ride in the stroller (except at swimming lessons, of course; she perceives the stroller as a torture device there) and play in the grass.  She would like to ride a bike and strap on roller skates and zoom away on the skateboard.  She is always left behind, and she doesn't like it one bit.

In some ways I feel like Kate is leaving ME behind--needing me less and becoming more independent.  But there's also a certain joy in watching a baby find her wings.

pass it on!

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