Oct 29, 2012

All in a day's work

At 5:15 I was at my wits' end with the little kids, so I put them in the bathtub.  They splashed and played in the bubbly water, made beards and mowhawks, and looked all cute and angelic for about ten minutes.  Then Gavin knocked Kate under the water, which she didn't really appreciate, so I took her across the hall for a diaper and pajamas.  In the 60 seconds or so it took to accomplish that mission, Gavin emptied half of the tub water onto the bathroom's wood floor.  When I returned there was about an inch of standing water.

Unfortunately, an inch of standing water in the bathroom means a deluge of "rain" above the washer and dryer downstairs.  The first time this happened, I totally overreacted. Today I calmly used a huge pile of towels to mop up the bathroom and then took them downstairs to catch the rain.

And of course I sent Gavin to his bedroom until dinner.

This little incident came at the end of a long day of mischief and mayhem for the middle child.  During lunch, Gavin smeared his spaghetti all over the table and floor, and crumbled his whole cupcake, sprinkling the remains in a six-foot radius around his chair. (Note: I had JUST swept.)  Then he totally wrecked Kate's jack-o-lantern on the front porch, dug up my flower bed, and filled the pumpkins with dirt.  He also used red and orange stamps to cover himself and his sisters with ink.  The ink likely ruined three shirts, and it isn't coming out of Lexi's white hair.


Good night.


Commentary on our barefoot lifestyle:

Lexi: Mom, where are you going?
Mom: Nowhere.
Lexi: Then why do you have shoes on?  Why does Dad have shoes on?
Mom: Because it's freezing.
Lexi: But where are you going?

On growing up:

Lexi: I'm gonna be a mama someday.
Mom: Yes, you are!
Lexi: I'm gonna drive when I'm a mama.
Mom: That's right.  What else will you do?
Lexi: Fix dinner.
Mom: What else?
Lexi: Be in bed with Daddy.

Grocery shopping with Gavin:


Tyler showed up like this after riding his scooter home from school.  When I asked why he wasn't wearing his coat (it was 32 degrees), he said he wasn't cold.


Speaking of cold, we got out the winter gear.  Our house will look like this for six months.


After the first real snow of the season (last Thursday, October 25), I was really hoping we wouldn't have a snow day.  The boys turned their pajamas inside out, flushed ice cubes down the toilet, and did a snow dance, but my wish came true.  Garry left me a note on the bathroom mirror Friday morning:


On the upcoming ward Halloween party:

Gavin: Malcolm told me about something so cool at the church.  It's where people get in the trunks of their cars for candy.
Mom:  Oh, yeah?
Gavin:  Yeah!  It's called trick-or-trunking!

Oct 27, 2012

Who's in charge here?

It's official.  Kate has given up her morning nap.  It kind of happened all at once; the transition period was only a few days and Kate led the charge.  While I am sad to lose my morning "off duty" time (especially on Lexi's preschool days), I am excited to have greater flexibility in leaving the house before lunch.

Speaking of lunch...I imagine scenes like this will be more and more common as we try to move Kate's only nap to the afternoon.

Little Missy is growing up.

Oct 26, 2012

cool points in the mom bank

Halloween season is decidedly more low-key this year than last (hooray!), but I decided to perpetuate the "spooky dinner" idea from 2011.  I went with a simpler menu, and though it was a bit labor-intensive for my taste, it was a huge hit with the kids.

Spaghetti and meateyeballs was our main dish (use your imagination).

 Side dishes included bones 'n blood...

monster teeth...

and strawberry skulls.

We also had butterbeer (ala Harry Potter) and candy corn cupcakes.  Yummy and cute and festive, right?

The best part of the meal: paper plates.

The worst part of the meal: almost passing out at Walmart while I was buying ingredients this morning.  But that's another story entirely.

Happy Halloween!

Oct 25, 2012

Girls vs. Boys

Just a little comparison for you folks:

dainty duets on the piano
riding bikes through the kitchen

Girls and boys are different.
I'm so glad I have both.
But there's one thing that is universal in the Bartle home.

And Kate just figured it out.

Oct 24, 2012

Happy fall

I mostly love yard work.  I love the sunshine and the fresh air and the physical labor and the rewards that come from the efforts I expend.  Raking leaves this week has been my only exercise, but the afternoon endorphins have been quite timely every day.

This afternoon I set out to finish the job of raking and bagging the leaves in our yard. Gavin and Lexi had other ideas.  I opted to savor the moment.

After some play time, Lexi went back inside, but Gavin stayed with me.  He was a very helpful, productive worker!  We had a great time together as we put the yard to bed for the winter.

Oct 22, 2012

And the winner is....

...commenter #5: April Wahlquist!

April, since you live by me,
I'll get your little prize over to you soon!

Thanks for all the love, friends!

Oct 21, 2012

This, that, and the other

I love random collections.  Don't you?

At pack meeting the other night, Tyler did a great job at the Wolf "denner."  He was responsible for reporting his den's activities for the month in front of the entire pack.  I was impressed with his little presentation.  Go, Tyler!

Kate is learning to eat with a spoon.  I am learning to be patient with her messes.  Of all our children, she is least resistant to the wiping of her hands and face.  It's a little thing, but I love that about her.

I took the kids to Cottonwood Creek Park on Friday.  This is a place they often ask to go, so I expected great things.  Tyler and his buddy brought scooters, I brought bikes for Gavin and Lexi, and I planned to push Kate in the jogging stroller while everyone else took off on their wheels.  This park has a great sidewalk around a large soccer field.  I imagined us doing laps for a while, and then enjoying the playground.  The first part didn't work out so well.  Once Lexi petered out (halfway through the first lap), she joined Kate in the [single] jogger for a while.  That wasn't super it was really heavy for me!  Then Tyler and Carter took Lexi to the playground and I ran a few laps with Kate.  Gavin had a BLAST on his bike.  That kid has so much energy!  We all eventually congregated on the playground for an hour.  Overall, it was a successful venture, even though it didn't work out like I had planned.

Zach is showing interest in the kitchen.  He made the family breakfast this morning.  I love his bed-head.

Lexi's attachment to Betsy has taken a recent surge.  It's actually a little alarming.  However, I hit upon a strategy that keeps Betsy at home (most of the time) when we leave.  Lexi puts Betsy down for a nap in the doll cradle!  It's perfect.  Sometimes Betsy takes several naps a day.  I also find baby dolls tucked in with blankets and pillows in random spots around the house.  Today Lexi dressed up one of her dolls for church.  She had so much fun in Granny's playroom last week, with all its dolls, the little table and chairs,  and the mini kitchen appliances.  It's fun to see her imagination start to develop.

Don't you wish your health was as awesome as mine?  *sigh*

We have enjoyed spectacular fall weather in Colorado Springs.  The leaves are changing, and sometimes the colors of the trees takes my breath away.  This was the view from our driveway a few days ago.

And this is last night's gorgeous sunset.  I love where we live.


If you thought I had five children, you were wrong.  I actually have six.  The sixth child's name is Notme.

Notme is very, very busy.  He (sometimes she) is conveniently invisible and thereby immune to all responsibility and punishment.  S/he gets away with a lot of dumb stuff around here, like...

  • Putting clean clothes and folded socks in the dirty clothes hamper
  • Pouring goldfish crackers down the stairs
  • Leaving the freezer door open
  • Leaving the lights on in the van (two jumps in 24 hours, thankyouverymuch)
  • Smearing toothpaste all over the mirror/counter/sink/wall/toilet
  • Peeing all over the wall/floor/shower curtain/toilet
  • Leaving crumbs in my bed
  • Eating peanut butter from the jar in my bed
  • Strewing the couch cushions and pillows all over the family room
  • Licking the window
  • Giving Kate the bottle of floor cleaner
  • Parking a bike/scooter/stroller/wagon behind the van
  • Taking dishes into the backyard
  • Flicking the milk lid across the room
  • Moving a sibling's car seat to a different location in the van
  • Forgetting homework assignments altogether or until the last second
I think that tomorrow night, Notme will be the only kid who gets dessert...but only if s/he fesses up.

Talks with teachers

We had a great round of parent/teacher conferences this week.  I will include a few details here so that on tough days with the kids (read: every day), I can look back and realize our household isn't a complete disaster.

Lexi: She didn't have a formal conference, but casual conversations and emails with her teacher, Miss Rachel, have helped me know that she's in an excellent place this year.  She loves school and is making friends, and, according to Rachel, is a delightful member of her class.  We took a chance on this preschool, and it seems like the perfect fit.  Hooray!

Gavin: Miss Donna has been a great addition to Gavin's life.  He is thriving in school, although his writing skills are lagging behind (which is an expected repercussion of his sensory issues).  At his conference, Donna said (this is a direct quote): "I love Gavin! He is perfect. I wish I had ten of him in my class!"  We are so very happy that Gavin is having a great school experience.  He leaves his meltdowns and outbursts for home, which is just as it should be, right?

Tyler: In meeting with his TAG and classroom teachers, we learned that Tyler is really growing and stretching this year.  He has fully assimilated to his grade acceleration and has the respect of his peers.  Tyler is a very sensitive child and has strong feelings about things, but he is managing quite well socially. He is so detail oriented that he sometimes struggles to complete assessments in the allotted time frame.  Since that was the only suggested area for improvement, we were pleased.

Zach: We met with both elementary and middle school teachers for this kid.  Zach's algebra teacher had nothing but praise for Zach's maturity, intelligence, and ability.  He is doing very well and has exceeded the teacher's expectations for social integration with the 7th and 8th graders in his class.  The logistics of transporting him between schools and classes is working very well for all involved.  Zach has recently shown remarkable improvement in writing, at least for his TAG teacher.  His performance for his regular 5th grade classroom teacher isn't so great, so we are working on a plan to help Zach care as much about success in social studies and science as he does in reading and math.  It's a work in progress.

Overall, we feel so lucky to call these kids our own.  Home life can be pretty frustrating, and it's easy to focus on what isn't working in our relationships and routines.  Happily, parent/teacher conferences were an unexpected and much-needed boost.  It helps us see our children the way others do, and at least at school, the perspective is amazing.


Zach is 11, which makes both of us feel old.  Perhaps the fact that he is taller than I am and wears size 10 or 11 shoes contributes to this fact.  Either way, Mr. Zach is growing up.

Zach was lucky enough to skip school on his birthday, since parent/teacher conferences were happening this week.  He still started the day early; he woke me up at 6:00 a.m. to see if he could open his birthday presents.  Mean mom that I am, I made him wait until his siblings woke up.  He only had to wait 38 minutes.  It was still dark when the party started.

This year we gave Zach a Ripstik, Boy Scout uniform stuff, and a little mp3 player.  His siblings gave him flat-brim hats, which have kind of become his trademark fashion accessory.   He received cash and gift cards from his grandparents. He was thrilled with all of it.  Later in the morning I took the kids to the Y and Zach and Tyler swam for two hours.  He spent some time mastering the Ripstik. Then his buddy Trace asked him to go to a pumpkin patch in Canon City, and he got home at 10:00 p.m.  He had a great day!

Because of Zach's impromptu field trip, we postponed his birthday dinner, but it didn't disappoint on Saturday.  He requested lasagna and French bread.  His birthday cake [from Costco!] and mint chip ice cream were delicious.  He blew out his candles with gusto.

Zach is growing up to be a fine young man.  He can be sensitive and helpful and cheerful. He is becoming quite responsible about his school work and has been known to go the extra mile a time or two.  His math class at the middle school is going very well.  Zach is starting to babysit a little for the family; if I take Kate with me I can leave him home with the other three kids for an hour at a time. He is also venturing out in the kitchen.  He mostly likes to make breakfast, and can whip up a batch of waffles, French Toast, and "poofy pancakes" when he wants.  I love it.  We are all happy about his growing maturity.

We sure love our firstborn.  Here's to another great year for Zach.

Oct 20, 2012

Crossing the finish line (plus a giveaway!)

Remember when I got all excited about the Rim-to-Rim 10k in October?  Since I registered in August, every time I hit the treadmill or ran outside I visualized being in the race and, most importantly, crossing the finish line.  I was excited about reaching the goal I set for myself in January.  Back then I couldn't run for three minutes straight, but now I can run for an hour without stopping.  I'm really slow (mostly 11-minute miles; my high-school self is stunned), but I have built some endurance this year.  Well, due to last-minute circumstances beyond my control, I wasn't able to run the race as planned on October 6.  I was devastated.  I had worked so hard to reach my goal and didn't reach it.

After mourning my loss for a while, I decided to run a 10k anyway, race day fanfare or not. This week I plotted a 6.2-mile course on a map around my neighborhood.  I marked clear starting and finish lines, and even set a start time: 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 20.  I started visualizing my solo race: concrete sidewalks, hills, stop lights, and all.  Even though the last three weeks have not been stellar in my personal health and fitness realm, I hoped I could still complete my run and meet my goal.

And so, this morning, I woke up early.  I ate oatmeal and read my scriptures in the quiet kitchen.  I loved that I opened to Mosiah 4 and read, " is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.  And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize."  How appropriate! Then I brushed my teeth and slipped quietly out the door.  I jogged to my starting point (the SW corner of Research and Rangewood, in case you locals are interested), stretched for a few minutes, and with a deep breath and a click of my stopwatch, headed south on my first leg of the journey.

I ran unplugged--no phone, no music, no camera--and it was awesome.  I loved being alone with my thoughts and my breath and my stride.  The first three miles were great.  I made good time and felt strong.  But during a long hill on Lexington I hit the proverbial wall.  It kind of felt like the last couple of years.  I just couldn't do it anymore.  So I walked briefly to catch my breath and pressed on.

Reaching the corner of Briargate Parkway and Union (heading east) felt like a great milestone.  With only about 1.5 miles to go, I knew I could go the distance.  Just as I was ready to cross the street, Garry drove by in the van and cheered me on.  That was a pleasant surprise!  I had planned for this to be a solo journey, but the support was wonderful.  Garry followed me past the YMCA, shouting encouragement and taking a couple of pictures.

I was grateful for the downhill slope on Rangewood.  It helped me gather my courage for the last half mile.  At that point I was really fighting my sore muscles and tired feet and over-worked lungs.  I turned east on Research for my final stretch.  I had forgotten about the dip in the road...and the hill at the very end of my run.  I tried to pick up speed during the dip so I could power up the hill to the finish line.

That's when I saw I wasn't alone.  Waiting at the corner of Research and Austin Bluffs were Garry, Lexi, Kate, and a group of my friends!  They were yelling and cheering and taking pictures.  Two kids held a crepe paper finish line.  I was overcome with emotion and cried as I approached them.  Breaking through the crepe paper, surrounded by people I love, felt amazing. Not only did I reach my goal--in 1:07:18, which thrilled me--but I wasn't alone.  It was a very symbolic moment for me.

We all stood on the corner for a while as I tried to recover.  I laughed and cried and hugged everyone who came.  We took pictures (I'll post more when I get them from everyone), and I basked in the warm glow of friendship.  I couldn't get over the feeling of celebrating my success with my family and friends.  Victory was so much sweeter than I ever imagined.

Kym, me, Amie, Elizabeth, and April


To celebrate my personal victory, I'm sponsoring a little giveaway.  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook link to this post for a chance to win some fun fitness-themed goodies. I'll draw a winner on Monday, October 22.

Hooray for running!

Oct 17, 2012

The cub becomes a boy

Last night was a big one for our oldest child.  Zach attended Cub Scout pack meeting for the last time.  He earned the highest award in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light, and also "crossed over" to Boy Scouts.  It's the end of an era!  We're so proud of our Zach and all that he has accomplished.

Last night was also a milestone for Pack 537, since it's the last time they would meet all together.  Our new ward, Explorer Park, will create its own scouting troop, with new leaders and smaller groups of boys.  Likewise, Cordera scouts will carry on with their own program.  I'm so glad we had this final meeting together.  Zach's buddy, Trace, hit scouting milestones right along with Zach, so receiving their final awards together last night was bittersweet.  Trace will be in the Cordera Ward, so the boys' days of scouting together are over for now.  (Boohoo!)

I loved the part of the meeting when the Webelos gathered to recite the Scout Law together: "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."  I'm pleased that Zach has it memorized.  I hope he always will!

The Arrow of Light ceremony was short and sweet, highlighting the seven virtues the award encompasses: wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, faith, hope, and love.  The Webelos Den helped present the ceremony, and then John and Mickey Miller, Zach's wonderful Webelos leaders, presented Zach and Trace with their arrows and plaques.  Then each of the boys and their families had a turn to walk across the bridge to the waiting Boy Scouts, who welcomed them with new neckerchiefs.

Just a note: Brother Miller, above, is the "John" in my tender mercies post from last week.

We look forward to Zach's new adventures in Boy Scouts!

pass it on!

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