Oct 31, 2013

I am enough

Some things I learn about myself the hard way.

Yesterday was just another day.  Got Zach to school at 7:00. Shoved Gavin out the door with Tyler at 8:00. Skipped a shower for myself (hat day isn't just for school spirit) and helped Lexi get ready.  She was too comfortable on the couch and steadfastly refused to put on her fantastic costume for the preschool Halloween party.  Kate was happy to costume herself and happily frogged to the car.  I finally gave up the battle and let Lexi wear a play dress-up, leotard, and boots.  She looked cute.  Yay.

I spent preschool time at the piano.  I've had a hymn humming through my brain and decided to write a women's arrangement out of it.  Kate played with a piano app on my phone.

Between feeding and monitoring her, the time flew and I was late picking up Lexi. We zipped home for lunch before ballet lessons, which also included a Halloween party.

After a quick banana and bowl of mac and cheese (for the girls--how do they like that stuff?) we were out the door.  I got the girls back in the car and ran back for my purse, keys, and sunglasses.  You might imagine what happened next.  No keys.

What you might not have imagined is the temper tantrum I had while looking for them.  A quick search became a frantic one as the minutes ticked by.  Lexi was going to be late.  I was an idiot...we'd only been home 25 minutes. I yelled (not mumbled) at myself as I retraced my steps and looked in awkward places. The self-deprecation spiraled down from there. After 30 minutes of searching it was clear that ballet lessons were not happening. I apologized to Lexi, who gave me a sweet hug through her tears because I was crying, too.

Kate and Lexi ran off to play, but I couldn't let it go.  This wasn't about the keys anymore.  I was a loser, a dumb mom who couldn't hold it together for 25 minutes. It's bad enough when I do something stupid that only affects me, like buying an ill-fitting pair of jeans at a store 45 minutes from my house.  But making Lexi miss a party and a dance lesson that she anticipated all week long? Who does that?  I kept yelling (not mumbling) at myself and finally put myself in time-out in my closet.  I paced in that tiny, crowded closet.  Feeling claustrophobic made me angrier--so much so that I kicked a hole in the wall.

Great.  Real mature, Heidi.

That little act of anger was a reality check.  I finally got a hold of my rational self.  I cried some more, this time out of shame and sorrow.  I am so frustrated that I can't be the kind of person and mother I want to be.  I am upset with myself for reacting badly to a very minor and normal stress of life. I am also a little mortified that I am sharing such things in a public format.

Here's why. No one is perfect.  I am trying to be my best self every single day, just as I imagine you try to be your best self every day.  I have physical and mental limitations I really don't like but those things don't have to be a detriment to my happiness, and they are not an excuse for my bad behavior. I need a better outlet for my emotions. Perhaps that should be my next project, because heaven knows stress comes my way rather often.

For example, around 4:00, while I was sitting at the piano again, Kate got into the nail polish.  She painted her toenails a pretty pink and purple.  The attendant casualties were her clothes, face, hair, and her bunny, plus my pillowcases, sheets, and duvet cover.  Apparently painting toenails is best done in Mommy's bed.

Well, I didn't throw a fit.  I calmly changed Kate's clothes, let her scream in her room for a while, and tried in vain to remove the stains from all that fabric. And later, when Gavin and Lexi found my keys ON THE HOOK WHERE THEY BELONG, I cried a little, composed myself, and then made dinner.

In the immediate wake of kicking the wall, I had confessed, via text, my bad deed to a friend. I knew she would validate and understand my situation.  She did, and later she jokingly suggested that I find some low-hanging art work to cover the damaged wall.  Instead, I have decided to leave it exposed and unrepaired.  I need a visual reminder that nothing is important enough to lose my temper. I am stronger than my emotions, and I can start again today at the impossible task of being my best self.

Brene' Brown is one of my favorite authors.  Through her books she has started a movement to embrace the gift of imperfection and vulnerability.  I need to remember these truths, so I am doing as she has recently done: remind myself that despite my weakness, I am enough.

Even when lost keys make my child miss a party.

Oct 30, 2013

Coins for the washer

You might remember that I don't wash/dry/fold/hang/put away Zach's laundry anymore.  He lost that privilege several months ago.  Last week I was feeling benevolent and washed his clothes when I did the family laundry.  After placing Zach's clean, folded clothing on his bed, this is the thanks I got:

I picked it all up and will charge him 50 cents an item to get it back.  Anything left in my basket in a week will go to Goodwill.  If that doesn't teach Zach to care for his clothing, at least he'll have less of it.

Oct 23, 2013

The reign of Kate


The times I yell this remind me of Gavin's two/three/four-year-old phase.  I'm sure he thought his name could only be pronounced in a loud, urgent, and irritated tone.  Things are swinging that way for the baby in the house, who is making me crazy(er).

I took her shopping this morning.  I needed mascara and lip gloss and socks and a belt.  Heaven forbid Mom actually buy something for herself, right?  Well, Kate hates the shopping cart.  She doesn't just whine about sitting in the child seat. No, she screams (loudly, as though I am slowly gnawing off her arm), writhes, and wriggles until she makes it out of the already-tight strap, stands up, and proceeds to climb into the back of the cart.  So then I have these options:

1. Literally wrestle her back into the seat, which seems tantamount to child abuse for all the fight she gives, and then the cycle repeats
2. Allow her to ride in the back of the cart, where she climbs out immediately
3. Allow her to hang on either end of the cart, where she drags her feet and threatens to break her leg/arm/head without realizing it
4. Allow her to walk, thus enabling her to hide in the clothing racks, run away when I stop, grab things off the shelves, etc.

Having described this, I honestly can't believe I went to Target after barely surviving Walmart, since Walmart didn't have what I wanted.  But I did, and by the time we were done I needed to punch something. Fortunately I do not believe in punching my children, but I did let out a primal scream once we got back to the car.  No, I am not Mary Poppins.  Sorry to disappoint you.

When we got home, this is what she had done with Lexi's lip gloss, which appeared out of nowhere while I was driving.

While I was helping Gavin (home "sick" today) in the kitchen, Kate went into her room, scaled the dresser drawers, and got a too-small summer dress off the top, where it had been waiting to be given away.  Then she climbed back down, changed her clothes, and pronounced herself "pretty." Last time she did that she broke one of the dresser drawers. While I was dealing with that, she went into my closet and dumped out all of my jewelry, neatly organized into compartments in a plastic container hidden (apparently not) on the shelf under my hanging clothes.  What a mess.

Her other favorite thing to do, which I have mentioned before, is empty her toys into a great big pile and use the plastic bins as ladders to high places.  She doesn't play with the toys anyway, so I just need to get rid of the toys and their containers.  I'm resistant because they are fun toys that represent a big financial investment. I'm not sure I can justify keeping them anymore.

Anyway.  Kate likes to play with non-toys. Yesterday, while I was sick in bed with a fever and feeling pretty dang miserable, Kate had some fun with our address stamp, which I had used to--gasp--get some bill payments ready to mail earlier in the day.  While I admit her stamped mouth looked really funny, I was exasperated.

The worst part of this stage is that Kate has stopped napping. She went from 2 or 2 1/2 hours per day to zero, just like that. That means that afternoons look like this:

I feel the same way she looks.  I don't (usually) cry like that. However, I didn't sleep well last night (although my fever finally broke about 2:00 a.m.), so I am dealing with her antics very poorly today.  This little venting episode has helped me a lot.  In fact, I am going to delete the section I have written about other people and their recent lame comments about my children and my parenting. 

I do think I might, though, as one friend suggested, buy a leash for Kate.  Maybe that would help us at the store the next time I need something absurd like bananas.

Oct 20, 2013

Mom gets a time-out

This weekend I attended Time Out for Women, a little retreat in Denver where I listened to some great speakers and played with some friends for a day and a half.  We did some shopping, ate at Cafe Rio, and stayed overnight at the Marriott. Good times!

My favorite speakers were James Ferrell, Sandra Turley, and Emily Freeman (who, incidentally, has a son who served a mission in Croatia at the same time as my brother, and they knew each other!).  I didn't have any powerful experiences like I did last year, but the weekend was uplifting and rejuvenating and I had a lot of fun.  I also probably talked too much, but that is a problem for me in general, as we all know.

Many thanks to my amazingly supportive husband who not only kept track of five little monkeys but also made an incredible feast for Zach's birthday while I was gone.  Yay for happy weekends.

P.S. for Gavin: 
I really did come back home, just like I promised.  I know you were really worried about me leaving, so I kept that picture you drew of us in my suitcase, just in case I got lonely.  Thanks for spending time with me, holding my hand and hugging me, while we waited until it was time for me to go.  Our "good-bye" time was precious.

Cell phone stories: Kate

Kate is the primary subject of my cell phone photos, probably because we spend the most time together. Whenever I take a picture, she says "Wepeesee," which means "let me see."  It's the cutest little phrase, and I know it won't last forever.  "Wepeesee."  It makes me smile every time.

This photo reminds me of the fact that Kate has given up napping.  Noooooooo!  I'm still in denial, and I put her in her room every single afternoon at 1:00.  It's depressing.  Boo.

However, this is what her room looks like every day.  Do you know why?  She uses those little red buckets to stand on and reach naughty things, such as all of her dresser drawers, which she dumps out on a regular basis.  Also: the medicine cabinet.  I recently had to call poison control because she ate some adult vitamins. Now when I open that cupboard she says, "Me spicy mouth," which references the yucky taste of the vitamins.  Lesson learned?  I sure hope so.  She finally learned what "hot" means after a couple of painful burns on her hands.

Here's a great Kate story (sorry, no pictures).  On Thursday evening, each family member was occupied with something, so Kate had some fun in the kitchen.  She pushed a chair in front of the sink, turned the faucet on full blast, and starting using the hose attachment to spray the kitchen.  She just stood there, like she was watering the lawn.  Garry was alerted to the problem when Zach's downstairs bedroom ceiling started raining.  Water was dripping out of the light fixture and above the door.  Garry ran upstairs and found water everywhere--counters and floors and drawers and cupboards.  Five bath towels later, there was still plenty of clean-up to do, but fortunately there wasn't too much damage.  The biggest casualty was the first 25 pages or so of my scriptures, along with my scripture journal, which were open on the kitchen island.  I used a blow dryer on the pages and they are still intact enough to use.  Kate, Kate, Kate....

It's a good thing she's so cute, right?

Finally, Kate learned something fun in nursery today, which I recorded this afternoon.

"Wing awounda wosies" might even be cuter than "wepeesee."


My firstborn is 12.  

Zach's birthday was Saturday.  His first celebration, however, happened on Friday when he got to attend his first camp-out with the Deacons (12- and 13-year-old boys) and their leaders.  SNOW was on the ground, but the boys had a great time in Pikes Peak National Forest, and apparently they didn't freeze to death.

Zach requested chicken cordon bleu and mashed potatoes for his birthday dinner, and cinnamon rolls instead of a birthday cake.  Nice!  All food was forgotten when he opened his gifts: an Adidas backpack and....drum roll....a cell phone.  Yep, we caved, mostly because Zach having a cell phone will be supremely convenient for ME.  He is ecstatic, of course.  To make me feel better, we've put lots of restrictions on his usage (did you know T-Mobile only has one non-smart phone and it's the dumbest phone ever?), but hopefully he chooses to be responsible all by himself.

Responsibility and maturity are definitely characteristics that are developing in Zach's life.  He is making great strides in so many ways--with school and band and scouts and his paper route--and we are happy about this pleasant phase.  Zach has started playing on an intramural soccer team and is really enjoying that so far. Since the school's first quarter just ended, we met with all of Zach's teachers and counselor to discuss a couple of problems he is having, and we feel good about the plans in place. We feel especially grateful for the excellent team of teachers who are teaching, nurturing, supporting, and advocating for our boy.

     Above: watching a high school band competition with Dad and some friends

At church, Zach [finally] graduated from Primary, the children's organization.

He is so excited to join the Young Men's class every Sunday and go to mutual on Tuesday nights.  He has also been interviewed by our bishop and found worthy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood (learn about that here).  He will be ordained next weekend, and Garry's and my parents are all flying in for the event.  Zach is in a season of "firsts" and major milestones.  We are happy to see the wonderful young man that he is becoming.

Oct 16, 2013

Here's a pickle

Kate has a new trick.


Winter wardrobe

OK, so this week the temperature plummeted and it feels like winter.  Not all the time, mind you, but enough of the time that coats are required and flip-flops aren't an option anymore. This poses a major problem for Lexi, who is by far my most sensitive child when it comes to clothing.  I thought Gavin was bad.  Um, no.

Before school started, knowing Lexi's sensitivities, I purchased clothing only with her permission.  She tried everything on, pranced around it in, made outfits with all the mix-n-match pieces, and declared everything wonderful and fabulous.  I asked a dozen times if the seams felt right and if the sleeves didn't rub and if the collars didn't scratch.  She was happy, so I took off the tags, washed everything, and thought we were done.

No.  A thousand times no.

Lexi now declares she won't wear pants or socks because they have LINES.  (She means seams.)  Even loose pants or stretchy pants have LINES.  So what did I do?  I bought six skirts at Goodwill for a grand total of $10.  They match with all of Lexi's shirts, so with a stack of tights, she has a new wardrobe, right?

No.  A million times no.

Tights are scratchy and hot and cover her toes and she haaaaaates things that cover her toes.  Even the fuzzy-on-the-inside boots are too hot and restrictive.  Only some of the skirts have tolerable waistbands. Long-sleeved shirts that were formerly acceptable are now on the black list.  So, yesterday she went without all the things she hates.

Yesterday we went to the gym, visiting teaching, a doctor appointment, Albertson's, and to pick up brothers from school two different times.  That's like 12 times we were in and out of the car, plus walking through parking lots and stuff.  Lexi was wearing a skirt, short sleeves, and flip-flops in the 30-degrees-before-windchill-plus-snowy weather.  Did she like it?

No.  A bazillion times no.

She whined and she cried and she flapped her arms and she screamed at the top of her lungs.  "I'M FREEZING!!!!!"

Ya think?

But at home, after huddling in a blanket for a while, she warmed up enough to brave the cold and throw a fit all over again.

I honestly do not know how we are going to survive the winter.  I'm exhausted after one day of it.

Oct 10, 2013

The Lineup

I saw a starting lineup spoof of LDS General Conference this weekend, so I thought I'd do something similar for my family.

Starting Lineup

Zachary Bartle, age 12 (in 9 days!)

Height: 5'4"
Weight: 105
Responsibility: 10
Attitude: 6
Signature move: Taking naps and/or going to bed early in order to avoid work

Finished the cross country season with a strong sprint to 17th place
Practices band at the school at 7:00 a.m. (his idea)
Attended the 7th and 8th grade band concerts and got more excited about percussion
Is being teased for being a "nerd" because he's in an eighth grade math class

Tyler Bartle, age 9.5

Height: 4' 8"
Weight: 76
Tenderheartedness: 10
Hugs: 10
Tolerance for annoying siblings: 0
Signature move: Hugs from behind, just because

Still going strong in piano lessons but gets really frustrated with imperfection
Loves art class and news crew after school
Is extremely responsible about homework and chores
Favorite TV show: "Dog with a Blog"

Gavin Bartle, age 5.83

Height: 3' 10"
Weight: 51
Humor: 10
Intensity: 10
Recent prayer: "Please bless that if it snows tomorrow, which I think it won't, that everyone will wear pants to keep warm, except for Mr. Pace, who never wears pants." (Note: Mr. Pace, the school's PE teacher, wears shorts instead of pants.)

Reading and writing skills are improving quickly
Lunch and recess are the best part of his day
Cowered on the floor during the church Primary program
Wants to have a wiggly tooth, but doesn't

Lexi Bartle, age 5 (she wishes)

Height: 3' 4.5"
Weight: 36
Gracefulness: 10
Skin Sensitivity: 12
Special skills: Combing her hair FLAT because she doesn't like her curls.

Loves dancing to all kinds of music, including the hymns during General Conference
Has a new BFF next door (insert Hallelujah Chorus)
Can't stand the "lines" in her jeans or socks or shoes
Is growing a new fingernail in place of the one she hurt

Kate Bartle, age 2

Height: 2' 10"
Weight: 28
Independence: 10
Clingy-ness: 10
Vocabulary: 10
Catch phrase: "I need a Band-Aid."

Favorite game is to dump out toy buckets and use the buckets to reach tall places
Second favorite game is to undress five times a day and put on new clothes
Third favorite game is to raid vitamins, medications, and Band-Aid containers ("child-proof": what is that?)
Is sleeping well in her big girl bed

Garry Bartle, age 30-something

Height: 6'
Weight: rapidly decreasing
Dad: 10
Husband: 10
Provider: 10
Specialty: Swooping in to fix a problem.

Recently endured a ridiculous HR inquiry because a disgruntled employee thought he was talking too loudly on the phone at work
Makes awesome Sunday dinners and desserts every week
Is participating in a digital media research study
Enjoys serving in the Elders Quorum presidency

Heidi Bartle, age 30-something

Height: 5'2"
Weight: increasing *sigh*
Homemaker: 7
Emotional eating: 10
Internet junkie: 10
Catch phrase: "Are you KIDDING me?"

Is delighted to have new neighbors and more kids (and nice adults) living close by
Remains a physical therapy patient; trying "needling" to numb the pain
Has burned more dinners in the last month than in her entire adult life
Is excited about friends who are investigating the LDS Church

October letters

Dear children of mine,

Thank you ever so much for teaching Kate the "Guess-what-chicken-butt" game.  She plays it all by herself and thinks she is completely hilarious.  Hearing her laugh is definitely funny, but I don't appreciate such language from a two-year-old.  Seriously, boys, I don't need any help getting bad looks from strangers at the grocery store.

Yo mama
Dear AnyDo,

I always feel so scattered, like I have a million things to do but can't remember what exactly I should be doing.  When I expressed this frustration to a friend yesterday, she suggested making a to-do list on my phone since it is always with me (which was hilarious, because I'm the techie in our relationship). Then I was like, "DUH!" because you are the perfect app for that, and you are even on the screen with all my other favorite apps.  Let's get something done, OK?

Perpetually behind
Dear Facebook,

You are my very favorite time waster.  I'll be honest: most of my visits to your domain have nothing to do with socializing or curiosity.  I'm just avoiding real life.  However, I am getting super tired of the political and religious rants on your walls, so I am taking suggestions for another totally unproductive thing to do with my time.

Dear Honda,

Thanks for putting that smart little maintenance icon on my van's dashboard.  I appreciate not having to think about when I need to get the oil changed.  I have to admit, though, that I didn't believe you when you flashed the oil warning sign last week.  It had only been two months since the last oil change, and surely I hadn't driven 3,000 miles already.  Oh, wait.  It was more like 3,500 miles.  In eight weeks.  No wonder I'm spending so much money on gas.  If I stopped driving for a month, we'd easily save the money required for the 60,000-mile service that the van needs.  Ha.

The Chauffeur
Dear Cliff at the Corporate Office,

When you called to get my feedback on my recent oil change, you were audibly surprised when I told you I had to wait 90 minutes for the service.  Frankly, I was surprised, too.  I had an appointment, after all, and it's not like the mechanics had to drill for oil in the back yard before pouring it into the tank. Despite your apologies, I doubt anything will change.  It's a good thing I only have to go in every eight weeks. Wait...that's not really a good thing.

Dear Heaven,

If you include meal preparation, I'd rather go to the other place.

The Anti-cook
Dear Oriental Chicken Salad,

I have been craving you for nigh unto a month.  One of these days I'm going to drive across town and eat one of you, perhaps in the car in front of my children, if I have to.

Dear Ted,

You should have married Victoria while you had her.  She was awesome.  But I'm guessing since this is only the first season, you found someone better.  Hopefully your thing with Robin isn't a Ross-and-Rachel drama for years on end.

A fan of How I Met Your Mother
Dear Julie,

I'm glad Zach's dietary needs are under your care.  He listens to you, probably since you're on retainer with athletes at the Olympic Training Center.  He ate so much more this week that I finally think we are moving in the right direction.  Even though you intimidate the heck out of me, I kind of want to hire you for myself. Maybe if I could shed the weight that I worked so hard to lose last year, Zach wouldn't worry so much about becoming fat like his mother, which is what got us to your office in the first place.

The lady who wrote your fat (haha!) check
Dear Mary,

I'm so glad you and your three cute girls moved in across the way.  I love that you text about sending our kids back and forth ("Six incoming...did they land safely?").  I also love that you offered to be my back-up market when I am cooking or baking and am missing an ingredient.  You don't know this yet, but I'm always out of something important on Sunday afternoon.  And thank you for being a nurse so I can pick your brain.

The neighbor with all the kids and the fun back yard
Dear Halloween,

I can't believe I used to love you.  I am trying to pretend you are Christmas and thus delight in the giving of gifts to my children--in the form of silly costumes and lots of candy--instead of seeing you for what you really are, which is expensive and pointless.  Boo.

Party pooper
Dear Tyler,

Do you really want to be a unicorn?  Really?

Dear Chick fil-A,

Did Kate leave her shoe in your parking lot the other week?  I think she might have kicked it out of the van as we were leaving after lunch one day.  I keep meaning to call you, but since you aren't open until 11:00, I haven't done it, because the productive hours of my day are long over by then. But I am really missing that little pink Croc.

Dear squirrels,

Last week I planted 72 tulip bulbs in my front flower bed. Yesterday I noticed about 20 holes in said bed, and I think you are responsible.  If you messed with my flowers, I might do something crazy, like...well, I don't know.  But I'm really mad and will be looking up squirrel repelling/killing/poisoning solutions online later today.  I'd better put that on my list.

The gardener
Dear Joneses,

I know life isn't a competition, but if you keep having expensive fancy exciting birthday parties, my kids are going to feel like losers.  Or really, that their mother is a loser.  I have two birthday boys this fall, and it's an even year so they get parties, and we can't keep up.

Dear Swiffer Wet Jet,

You are the best solution (ha! pun!) I have found for cleaning my large wood floor. I have lived in this house five years, so it's about time, right?  My only complaint is that your disposable cleaning pads remind me a little too much of sanitary pads. I barf in my mouth a little every time I throw them away.

The Janitor

Oct 8, 2013

It must be Autumn

Lexi and I took a nature walk the other day.  I needed some Sunday afternoon sunshine, and she needed some space from her siblings. We had a good time looking for colorful leaves, different kinds of pine cones, animals, and flowers. Some of our treasures blew away in the wind, but we still collected a good sampling. We walked quite a ways--2.5 miles or so--and Lexi was pretty tired by the end of it.  Daddy had to pick us up when we were about half a mile from home because Lexi fell and refused to go on.  I still consider the outing a success.

Lexi's preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch was on Monday.  She and Kate had a grand time sifting through corn kernels, going down the big slide, taking a hay ride, visiting the animals, playing on the swings, and picking pumpkins.  This was another it's-fun-until-it's-not outing, but we managed to get in the car just in the nick of time.  It was a good trip.

Fall is definitely here, with cooler temperatures (it froze one night) and changing leaves.  I love the briskness of the morning air, but I'm still glad for warm afternoons.  We are generally letting the kids play longer at night, trying to eke out every minute of good weather that we can.  With new neighbor girls nearby, there are lots of friends to play with and lots of fun to be had.  They can hang out inside all winter. Until then, it's bikes and backyards for us.

pass it on!

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