Nov 27, 2012

Weird, True, and Freaky

The following is brought to you with limited commercial interruption from the Bartle household.

Gavin and Lexi were bent on having a pudding cup after lunch.  Since I had just given them each a mint brownie (even the last ones in the pan!), I declined their request.  I went about cleaning up the very messy house.  I walked into Kate's bedroom to put away a pile of doll clothes and found the curtains blowing in the breeze.  Then I saw that the window was open.  When I poked my head out, I found Lexi on the ground below...eating chocolate pudding.

I had an appointment this afternoon, but my scheduled babysitter got sick.  Her sister wasn't available, either, and there are precious few teenagers capable of handling my five crazy children.  So I called a young adult friend, left a message on her home phone, and completely forgot about the whole thing.  Two hours later, after I had made plans in my head to take Kate with me and leave the other kids with Zach, the friend called back.  I was astonished that she knew I needed a babysitter--and exactly when.  I asked her several times who called to ask her to babysit for me.  She finally said, "YOU DID!"  Oh.  Right.  Wow.

While I vacuumed the basement and couldn't hear him, Gavin popped a bag of popcorn in the microwave, melted half a stick of butter, and mixed the two together.  As I came up the stairs, he and Lexi were sharing the giant bowl of popcorn, butter dripping down their fingers and chins.

Kate climbed on the table after breakfast and, wearing only a diaper, spilled half a gallon of milk.  Two days later she raided the pantry and started eating sugar by the handful.

Monday's weather was chilly.  At going-to-school time it was 26 degrees outside with a stiff wind blowing.  When I picked Zach up from the middle school at 8:50 a.m., he was standing on the curb, red-faced and shivering.  When he got in the car and started blasting the furnace, I asked if he knew what might make him warmer.  "No, I don't get it! I'm wearing jeans AND a t-shirt AND a hoodie!  That should be enough!"

On the same day, Tyler was running around before school, looking for a pair of jeans.  They were most likely in the washing machine with the other dark clothes.  He was in despair; those jeans are his ONLY pants.  Ha!  I remembered that when school started I said I'd buy him some pants when it got cold.  That time has apparently arrived.

Nov 25, 2012

All I want for Christmas

The children made Christmas wish lists the other day.  You know, because our family can't just be grateful for abundant blessings...we have to think of more that we want.  This is the spirit of the holiday season, right? [Insert a big fat groan and copious rolling of eyes.]


Gavin's list is utterly fantastic, not only because he wrote it all by himself, but because of what's on his list.  Can you interpret?

mp3 player
My own room

Spoiled much?  We encouraged Gavin to think of some more realistic requests.  P.S. Gavin already has his own bedroom.

Zachary's list was equally outrageous, but his handwriting and spelling weren't nearly so entertaining, so I will just type it up.  He began thus:

Cell phone
X-box 360
My own b-room (I assume he's not talking about a bathroom)
Go to Mountain Ridge (a middle school)
New/fixed Wii
Snowboard trip

Zach informed us that the first three items are permanently on his wish list until he receives them.  Apparently ALL of his 11-year-old friends have phones and dogs.  Zach did put some reasonable items on his wish list, and he may actually get some of them.  But he will not receive a cell phone or a dog this Christmas.

Tyler made a pretty reasonable wish list (i.e. affordable items I would allow in the house), although his included some of Zach's wishes, too.  Here are the funniest items on Tyler's list:

Hot breakfast
New bedroom

How sad is it that "hot breakfast" made the list?  And what's the deal with new bedrooms, anyway?  I'm not gonna lie--I'd love a new bedspread and fresh paint and less/different furniture in my room. But I don't think that's what these silly boys are talking about.

The girls did not make lists, although when a toy catalog came in the mail recently, Lexi circled every single girly item in the whole magazine, indicating that whatever Santa brings her will be fabulous.  I'm a little surprised at how much I enjoy shopping for little girls, being decidedly un-girly myself.

What's on my wish list?  It turns out that mine is as unreasonable as Zach's list:

World  family peace
A cook and massage therapist on retainer
12 hours of sleep every night
Calorie-free baked goods 
Having my van detailed weekly

Like Zach, those first three are permanently on my wish list.  I think I'd better focus on what I have, rather than what I want.  Then I'll never be disappointed.

Nov 24, 2012

A happy Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  It was mostly quiet and low-key, with sunshine and play time and friends and good food.  We missed our families but felt embraced by those we love here.

Food preparation (stuffing and mint brownies) happened Wednesday.

Zach and I ran the YMCA Turkey Trot 5K.
His time: 29:04
My time: 31:24
(four minutes faster than my August 5K)

Zach played basketball on his Ripstik.

Kate was so tired she couldn't stand up.

Garry took the Littles on a bike ride.

He also took them to the park and found two of our coats that had been missing for a few days.  I worked our Christmas card.

We ate our Thanksgiving feast with a bunch of friends at the church.  We had a perfectly lovely evening together.  Garry and I learned a fun new word game: Bananagrams.



My first thoughts on Thanksgiving morning were about the tremendous blessings in my life.  Below is my Facebook status for the day, but also an expression of the gratitude written on my heart.

I'm feeling thankful for the man snoring in bed beside me, the girl laying cross-wise on my pillow, the baby who woke me at 5:00 a.m., the towhead on the couch, and the two boys in bunk beds downstairs.  My house is full, my heart is full, and today I give thanks for my abundance.

Nov 22, 2012

Mystery illness

Poor Kate has been sick...but we're not exactly sure what's bothering her.  For a couple of weeks now, she has been waking up a lot in the night.  She doesn't just cry; she screams. She arches her back and kicks her legs like she's in pain.  She refuses to be comforted. Eventually she relaxes and snuggles (usually with me, because she won't have anything to do with Garry during these episodes), but won't sleep in her bed.  Kate only slept through the night once or twice in two weeks, but without any other symptoms, I didn't take her to the doctor.  

That changed on Saturday.  She woke up from a late nap with a fever of 101 and a crazy rash on her legs.  The pictures below don't do it justice.  She had large patches, nearly from her hip to her knee, on the outside of each leg.  They were red and raised with a white border and were warm to the touch.  The sudden appearance of the rash was rather alarming, so I took her to urgent care.  After we waited two hours (with only three people ahead of us!), the doctor examined Kate and found nothing wrong with her.  He ruled out ears, throat, sinuses, lungs, and teeth.  Her fever was controlled with Tylenol.  He diagnosed Kate with the Parvo virus and a "non-specific rash."  He told us to ride it out.

Well, after Kate's Sunday morning nap, she woke up with the same red patches on her cheeks.  Her legs were clear, but she also had hives on her arms.  What on earth?!  Kate's fever was back, too.  I stayed home from church with her and administered Benadryl and called the pediatric advice line.  We decided to watch and wait.  By late afternoon she was well enough to make a big mess, so I didn't worry too much.

Yesterday I really thought Kate was better.  She was happy and active and took a good nap.  I even commented that it seemed the crisis had passed.  But last night Kate was hysterical again.  She slept poorly all night, a good chunk of it in my arms.  I'm at a loss...what is going on? 

Nov 21, 2012

Cell phone stories

It's time for another installment of cell phone stories, in which I elaborate on random pictures taken with my cell phone camera.  You know the drill.

Zach had a school project that required making a Native American artifact of some kind. He couldn't use modern tools or materials.  He decided to make a wickiup.  With Garry's help, Zach did a great job binding bunches of pine needles with long grass and affixing them to a tent of sticks.  He filled a cookie sheet with dirt to form the base of the dwelling. I had to pick him up from school when he brought the project home (usually he rides his scooter), and during the drive home, the cookie sheet somehow spilled.  Lovely.

Gavin and Lexi both had Thanksgiving celebrations at preschool.  I was in bed with the flu that day and didn't get to attend either one, but Garry reported that Lexi's feast was fun. Gavin's class made "stone soup," apparently with real rocks.  Gavin contributed an onion to the pot.  He said the soup was yummy.  I liked both of the kids' hats.  They make a nice pair!

Last week Lexi decided to cut a banana with a steak knife.  She sliced her thumb, which bled a lot.  After I patched up her wounds, I noticed her curious outfit and had to take a couple of pictures.

This is what we look like at Target.  Not pictured: a mommy that was just minutes away from a parking lot meltdown.

The young women in our ward just had Evening of Excellence, an annual meeting that celebrates the girls' efforts in the Personal Progress program.  I was in charge of invitations and other printed items.  We had a fun theme, which was Personal Progress: A Pattern for Life.

I snapped this photo while on a morning run last Saturday.  I loved watching the sun rise. I can't believe I can run outdoors in mid-November!  These days I can run four or five miles pretty comfortably and have enjoyed the occasional early-morning run with my friend April.  She is patient with my slow pace and I love her company.

Gavin really loves his books.  It's so fun to hear him read.

And finally, we are gearing up for family pictures on Friday.  We have some stylish clothes for the boys and adults and darling hair accessories for the girls that should give us a fun look.  I hope.  Today I'll scope out possible locations.  This is a sneak peek of the color scheme...although, at his request, I did not buy Garry an argyle sweater.  Here's hoping for a successful photo shoot!  It's time to replace the photos from last year.  Kate and I have changed a lot!

Happy at the zoo

Because we are having such glorious November weather, and because my children don't have school all the livelong week, and because we rarely do anything fun, I decided to be bold and take us all to the zoo.

Most mothers wouldn't consider a little zoo trip a grand feat of bravery.  But I do.  I had to summon some honest-to-goodness courage from way deep down in my gut to venture into a public place (you know, after outings like this and this and this and this) with my offspring.  I also had the brilliant idea to bring a helper, namely my darling friend Rachel, who is 13.  As it turned out, because of her help (and maybe because of the warm sunshine), I could relax a little and enjoy the day with my kids.

As usual, the giraffes were our favorite.  Lexi declared that she likes giraffes best because they lick her face.  Gavin might like them best because we fed them lettuce.  [Sidebar: The zoo is a racket.  We have a membership and get in "for free," but there are about seventeen extra activities for which there is an extra charge, and therefore, seventeen extra chances for the children of a not-rich mother to whine and cry.]

Kate was enthralled with the animals...and the sleeve of Ritz crackers.  She made a terrific mess in the wagon but was super content.

Tyler was our tour guide.  He also dispensed very specific animal facts, presumably gleaned from placards around the zoo.  Sometimes I think he's a walking encyclopedia. He reminds me a lot of my nerdy little self.

Lexi had a Harry Potter moment with the Burmese python.  Well, we pretended she did.

In case you were wondering, this many people weigh the same amount as an adult male gorilla.  We saw an adorable baby gorilla, which was the take-home treat of the day for me.

We had lots of fun in the primate house.  Later Gavin told us that monkeys have opposable thumbs on their hands and feet.  He must have been listening to Tyler.

I took two group photos--one posed and one not.  Guess which one took five minutes and which one took a split second.

The moment did come when I knew our zoo fun was nearing an end.  In my estimation it was totally worth skipping the big cats section and getting back to the van without a family meltdown.  Having a successful family outing felt pretty revolutionary.  Rachel was so great with the kids (and fast enough to keep up with Gavin, who kind of operates in his own universe) and just plain fun to have around.  It occurred to me that if Garry and I had been able to have a baby as soon as we had wished, that child would be just Rachel's age. I guess that means we have to adopt her.

I think Lexi would approve.

Nov 17, 2012

Ten random thoughts

1.  Whenever it looks like all the dishes won't fit in the dishwasher, I think of when I was growing up and my dad would say, "Oh ye of little faith!" and rearrange the dishes until everything fit.  He must have disliked the hand wash pile as much as I do.

2.  I have never really loved dolls, but I can spend 30 minutes perusing the American Girl catalog when it shows up in my mailbox.  I cannot comprehend spending so much money on a doll and its accessories (children play with these things, after all!), but I'm pretty sure I'm in love with the jacket on page 8, the dress on page 27, and Kit's School Skirt Set on page 39. And, oh my gosh, the baby twins at the end...

3.  My current purse is much too large.  What I really mean is that I carry way too much of my children's junk in it because there's too much room.  So, once again, I'm looking for a purse.  A small one.  When I saw a super cute and functional one in the hands of a lady in the check-out line the other day, I should have asked her where she got it.  I was probably too busy with my children, if you can imagine that.

4.  Shopping for bras is my single most hated activity in the entire universe.  This is significant, considering how much I loathe pelvic exams, having my teeth cleaned, getting IVs, feeling stupid in public/in private/via text/anytime/ever, cleaning out the fridge, and taking care of pet fish.  Shopping for bras is demoralizing and horrifying and expensive and totally repulsive in every single way possible.  I have thought about writing a lengthy and detailed post about this, but I would rather that some of my more genteel readers not be offended by such talk, so these few lines will have to suffice.

5.  I think Gavin should be cast as "Mayhem" in that TV commercial about insurance.

6.  Last night I watched "Julie & Julia"--or at least the first half--and really liked it.  I think it would be awesome to write a blog and have a bazillion people read it and pay me for my wit so I could have cool people over to dinner.  Except that I really don't like cooking (how did this post become so full of things I don't like?), and I'm not that witty, and if I think too much about how many followers I have, I feel stupid in private, which is slightly less awful than bra shopping, but not much.  So never mind.  But I do want to finish that movie.  Does someone want to loan me a copy?

7.  My sister Holly got her LDS mission call to Birmingham, England.  She reports to the Missionary Training Center in England on February 14.  It was so fun to watch her open her call via Skype, and to see all my fun family sitting on my parents' couch in Mesa.  *sigh*

8.  I really need to eat dinner.  My stomach is growling.  But all I can think about is caramel popcorn.

9.  The Thanksgiving wreath my mom made me is so cute and coordinates so well with my living room decor that I might leave it up all year.  Thanks, Mom.

10. I think my kitchen island has a magnetic surface.  It attracts the most random items, owned by everyone in the house (including yours truly) who is too lazy to put things away for real.  A sampling of the items currently strewn about include two toothbrushes, a paint brush, three days of mail, two bottles of lotion, a sippy cup, hair spray, scissors, a gardening glove, a square of cork board, a stapler, first aid supplies, a boomerang, and the Creationary game.  I am noticing a theme here: random junk in my purse, random junk on my counter, and random junk in my brain.

I'm going to make that caramel popcorn now.

Nov 16, 2012

Littles Letters

Dear Gavin,

I have to admit, it was pretty funny at Albertson's this morning when that lady ran, wide-eyed and yelling, across the store to scold you.  She probably said, "You're giving me a heart attack!" five times.  You were standing up in the grocery cart.  And so was Lexi.  But I was quick to tell the lady that standing up in the cart is NOT worthy of a heart attack in our family.  You know that's your fault, right?



Dear Lexi,

Why must you have screaming tantrums every day when I drop you off at preschool? Miss Rachel says you calm down in 30 seconds and enjoy preschool very much.  But none of us are fond of your theatrics.

Same goes for babysitters and the YMCA child watch.

Love you.


Dear Kate,

I was totally charmed today when you walked up behind Lexi and wrapped your arms around her waist in a loving embrace.  You wouldn't hug anyone else, but you hugged Lexi several times.  I hope you two will be good friends one day.


Dear Gavin,

So you want to change your name, huh?  I'm not sure what prompted the desire, but apparently you think Gavin doesn't suit you anymore.  When I told you that I really wanted to name you Cole, you adopted that as your name for the day, and I smiled every time I said it.

You are so funny.


Dear Lexi,

King beds are pretty big, but not big enough for two adults and two children.  What happened to sleeping in Gavin's bed...and keeping him there with you?  I'm crowded.

Mama Bear

Dear Kate,

I totally thought you were past the freaking-out stage at the YMCA child watch.  But apparently you aren't, and I'm back to working out for 20 minutes until someone comes to get me.  Apparently you missed the memo that I needed the full two hours today.  Don't worry.  We'll try again next week and you can redeem yourself.

Love you (promise),


Dear Gavin,

Thanks for picking out your birthday sheets today.  I totally lied to you when I said that I was buying them for someone else.  I'm glad to know you'll be getting just what you want. Because every five-year-old boy wants new bedding for his birthday....right?



Dear Lexi,

So remember a few weeks ago when I swore I would never, ever, ever take you and your siblings out in public again?  Oh wait.  That was just last week.  Sadly, you reminded me--and all Target employees and patrons and city residents in a five-mile radius--why shopping with you is not a good idea.  You've got a set of lungs, girl, and when you aren't happy (read: when I don't buy you everything you ask for) you employ them with great tenacity.  Do you have a sore throat from all that screaming?

All I know is that locking you and Gavin and Kate in the van was an absolute necessity.  I needed a Mommy Time-Out, so I sat next to the van in the parking lot for about 20 minutes, taking deep breaths, crying, sending SOS texts to friends, and ignoring the strange stares from random people in the parking lot.

I am sure that one day you will have to employ these tactics because of your own children.

Love you (promise),


Dear Kate,

Do you know that we have a back-up Hopscotch?  Yep, your favorite furry friend hides in strange places sometimes, and when you need to sleep and I can't find the beloved bunny, I pull out the back-up from my closet to appease you.  This system has never failed us. You can thank your dad.  It was his idea to buy two bunnies.



Dear Gavin,

You have re-discovered reading, and I love it.  You can blast through some of our BOB books now, and are starting to notice that letters and words are everywhere.  You ask me to spell things all the time.  You are also suddenly interested in basic math. Today in the car you told me that 6+6+6=18.  Wow!  

I have a secret, desperate wish that we can send you to all-day kindergarten next year.  I have no idea where we'll come up with the substantial fee, but a girl can dream.



Dear Lexi,

After they sat in your closet for 11 months, you recently decided you LOVE your hot pink, high-heeled dress-up shoes.  According to you, they are perfect for winter weather, slick floors, grass, and all outings.  And they are best worn on the wrong feet.

Your baby dolls have enjoyed the changes to their wardrobe that you provide with astonishing frequency.  Your bedroom is constantly littered with doll clothes.  I think this is a sign of things to come in your teenage years.



Dear Kate,

BLESS YOU for taking a daily nap.  That is all.




Dear Littles,

You get one more collective letter.  I just had to have a complete list of your nefarious deeds today.

Today began with Albertson's antics and heart-attack lady.  Then we went to the gym, where you, Miss Kate, were super sad.  Then the out-of-control Target outing, where I got everything on my list but lost my sanity and cried in the parking lot.  We went home for lunch, and you, Gavin and Lexi, ran positively wild.  I made you play outside for a while, so you--wearing swimsuits, flip flops, and winter coats--climbed trees and dug in the flower beds.  Then I asked you to play in the basement while Kate slept.  That, presumably, is when you pumped lotion all over the carpet and the orange couch (but I didn't discover it until late afternoon).

Lexi, your screaming tends to wake sleeping babies, and today was no exception.  Zach came home at 3:30 p.m. alone...he said he "lost" Tyler on the way home from school. Five minutes later, Tyler called from school, sobbing, so we went to pick him up. 

I was taking my frustrations out on a Jon Schmidt piano piece when you, Miss Lexi, decided that cutting open a banana with a steak knife was a good choice.  You changed your mind when you sliced open your left thumb.  Blood dripped all through the kitchen (and smeared on your face and hair) when you came to show me.  I patched you up with steri-strips and tape and gauze, but not before Kate tripped on the floor and cut the inside of her top lip.  Lots of blood.

We had scrambled eggs for dinner.  And I left the house as soon as Dad got home.  I'm pretty sure you all went to bed early.

Love (promise),


Nov 15, 2012

Handsome fellas

The other night Zach grabbed my phone and started playing with the distortion features on the phone's camera.  He and Tyler captured some hilarious shots, including one of me that looks exactly like what I see in the mirror every morning.

Hopefully our family pictures turn out a little better than these...

pass it on!

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