Mar 30, 2014

Washing the dishes

When Garry and I had been married about 18 months, we moved into an old, small apartment on BYU campus. Our new digs boasted cinder block walls, industrial grade carpet, and closets without doors.  A bonus: no dishwasher.

Our life circumstances were in no way unique, but as full-time students and part-time employees, we felt busy and stressed. When we weren't working or studying, we just wanted to relax. This mentality led to a sink full of dirty dishes.  Neither of us liked washing them and we gradually let them stack up. After a week (at least) we had a pretty big mess on our hands. That's when our home teachers wanted to visit. Every Mormon on the planet probably cleans the house (at least the visible living areas) a bit before a home teaching appointment, right?  In order to avoid some embarrassment, we stacked up all of those plates and bowls and cups and pots and pans...and hid them in the oven. That's right. The oven. That way no one else would know our dirty little secret.  It was quite satisfying at first, but pretty soon the facade of cleanliness gave way to guilt. So, finally, we started washing the dishes.  It took quite a while to wash and dry and put everything away, but after that we never got too far behind on the dishes.

Today I shared this story during Primary sharing time.  As I did, I pulled out lots of dirty, sticky dishes and displayed them on a table.  Some had fresh maple syrup dripping, some were covered with ketchup and mustard, and some had the remnants of sandwiches, pasta, and rice.  I had cups with crusty milk in the bottom or green smoothie on the sides.  I displayed a bowl and a casserole dish leftover from German pancakes, and a small frying pan from the omelet Garry made this morning. I also placed a big handful of dirty silverware among the dishes.  The kids gave lots of "gross!" and "ewww!" exclamations as I perfected my little display.

When I got to the oven part of the story, I stacked up all the dishes and put them in a plastic drawer I had brought along.  When I closed the full drawer, the kids were shocked!  Some even had their hands over their mouths.  They couldn't believe the crazy thing I had done, especially because I had really put dirty dishes in an oven before.

That's when I asked the group what dirty dishes had to do with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Hands went up quickly (even in Junior Primary, where the oldest kids are seven).  The kids drew the parallel I was looking for: dirty dishes are like our sins, and the Atonement provides a way for us to be clean again.  We talked about our responsibilities in the repentance process (we have to do work to receive forgiveness) and also that repentance isn't possible without Jesus' help (without soap, our efforts are pointless).  We talked about the need to repent (wash our dishes) every single day. Sometimes we have larger and more painful sins (big, dirty dishes, like the mixing bowl and casserole dish) that we can't wash ourselves. Our bishop can help us overcome those struggles.

I shared another real-life story to make this point.  Quite recently, Zachary had dish duty at our house.  He steadfastly refused to complete the chore, even though we have a dishwasher!  With a family of seven, the dishes stack up very quickly, and after a few days, he faced a literal mountain of dirty dishes.  He was very overwhelmed.  Wouldn't you be?

One day while he was at school, wanting to help with the work but not take it away entirely, I washed all of the pots and pans. When he came home that night, the mountain was smaller and the task more possible.  While a bishop can't actually do the scrubbing, he makes the repentance process possible in more serious situations.

That's when I invited a few children to wash some dishes.  I dumped a few pitchers of water in the same drawer I had used as my "oven," squirted some soap in the tub, and offered a sponge.  While the three kids took turns washing a dish, I showed some pictures of Book of Mormon scenes that represented a person or groups of people who had significant repentance experiences.

My favorite story on the subject is that of the group of Lamanites who converted to the gospel and thereafter called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or the people of Ammon.  They had been ferocious warriors in the Lamanite army and had spent much of their lives slaughtering the Nephites.  When they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, they were sorry for all they had done and underwent what must have been a very difficult repentance process.  As a token of their covenant not to fight anymore, they buried their weapons of war in the ground.  I love that story, partly because of the physical, symbolic act they took to remind them of their desire to be clean.

As each Primary child cleaned a dish today, he or she held it up for all to see.  The dish was shiny and bright.  The kids were thrilled.  I bore my testimony about the Atonement and the Savior's gift of repentance.  I also challenged the children to think about repentance every time they helped their parents wash the dishes.  That's a symbolic reminder they can see every day of their lives.

Mar 21, 2014

100 laughs

At our spring Parent/Teacher conferences this week, we received a fun collection of Gavin's work from the last quarter. I decided to post a sample of his writing, some of which is very funny! Gavin was quite enthusiastic about the 100th day of school and its related projects and assignments. We got a big kick out of his responses.

If I had $100.00 I would buy "a haws for my famaly."

I want 100 "dolurs (dollars)."
I don't want 100 "farts."
I would eat 100 "piyes (pies)."
I wouldn't eat 100 "peas."
Can you tell Gavin's favorite color is green?
Green is an especially good color for noxious gas, apparently.

I wish I had 100 "peesis (pieces) uv gum."
I wish I had 100 "sotas (sodas)."
I wish I had 100 "tette (teddy) bears."
But I wouldn't want 100 "toots."
He's a little obsessed with bodily functions.

This one just made me laugh.
It doesn't make sense unless you know it's about shadows.

"Theegs (things) that are solid blok lighet. You need lighet and somthing to blok it and fall on it."
You can see he drew his bed on the left and a window on the right.

On this one, he drew a picture of his bunk bed on the left and himself running on the right.

"I like to moov by doing landsharks (a running club that he hopes to join soon).
It helps me moov by running.  I sometimes stay home beakus I am sic."

This one is about the life cycle of a butterfly.

"Butterflys are all cinse (kinds) of culers (colors).  They start in a cristlis (chrysalis) and end as a butterfly.

Two years ago, Gavin's fine motor skills were way below average for his age, and now he has the best handwriting in his class.  We are sure proud of his progress.  He absolutely loves school.

Mar 17, 2014

Monday morning time

Waking up to Kate's face two inches from mine.

Breakfast: Green milk.
Zach hiding the cereal because it's his favorite.
Green lemon poppy seed muffins.

Reading and writing with Gavin...
in my bed.

Kate in underwear.
Her idea.
There goes today's out-and-about agenda.
Potty celebrations.

Happy numbers on the scale.  14!
At least today.

Laundry day.
Sheets too.

Lexi to school.
Green icing on her face.
Hair uncombed.
When did I become that mom?

Potty celebrations.

Sewing projects:
hem pants
fix a tear or two or five
scout badges

Disaster with a hem.
aka did it backwards.
except not.

Unwarranted and unexpected emotion
unrelated to the sewing
but following shortly after.
Seriously, girl.
Get a grip.

Cookie dough
and Little Einsteins.

Pick up Lexi.
I am Malala in.
Jane Eyre and 
To Kill a Mockingbird

Nuggets for the girls.
I hate this meal.


Nap time.
Reading time.
Quiet time.

Steeling myself for 3:00.

Mar 16, 2014

This post is huge.

Here we are, more than a week since I last blogged.  I don't know where the time goes.  I mean, I do know where it kids and cleaning and lots of time in the car and naps (yep, I take 'em) and my calling. Occasionally my time goes to friends or projects or exercise or playing the piano or other household tasks. But mostly my time goes to kids and eating and sleeping (not enough on that last one...people always say, "Man, you're yawning a lot!  Do you ever sleep?"  The answer is "Yes, but not well, and clearly not enough.")

So I'm catching up, mostly for family history's sake, on this here blog.  I know in a few years I'll be glad for the little snapshots of our daily lives.  Although if I progress at my current rate then my posts will never make it into a book for us to enjoy....

Last Friday Lexi had a ballet recital.  She was super nervous, and she doesn't like people--particularly unfamiliar people--to look at her.  However, we bribed her with a special ice cream treat if she got on the stage and danced to all the songs, and dance she did! I'll admit to shedding a tear or two.  I was so proud of her for overcoming her fears, and watching her do something she loves was a delight.  Her little solo performance toward the end screamed, "I'm a dancer!"  I loved that.  Professional photos and video will be delivered soon, but for now these pictures capture evening just fine.  The one with Lexi applying lip gloss before the recital is the sweetest thing!

Tyler's Pinewood Derby was also last weekend.  He conceived the shark shape, and Garry helped with shaping on the saw. Father and son worked together on details.  It was fun to watch them share a project.  Overall, Ty's car was middle-of-the-road in terms of speed, but it was a happy day.  Next year at this time we won't have a cub scout, but the year after that, Gavin will be a Wolf and we'll run through a few more derbies after that.

Lexi has learned to cross the monkey bars.  She just figured it out while we were playing at the park the other day.  It's been a real growing-up time for Lexi: riding a bike, dancing on stage, saying "r's" correctly, crossing the bars, and learning to read.  Yep, she did it: she read her first book this week.  I had no idea she was ready!  We'll keep working on her new-found skill. This video shows her first attempt at this particular book, which was only the second one she had ever tried.  After a few days, she has already improved, and her enthusiasm continues to grow. Much like potty training, I have not pushed this skill. Lexi was ready, and so it happened.

Gavin is really hard to motivate in the mornings.  He's the only kid we have who will sleep in, and he's just so s.l.o.w. to get ready for school.  No matter how much I help the process along, Tyler is always stressed out about being late because of Gavin's dawdling.  On this particular day I was extremely agitated by the time I dropped the boys at school.  I had remained calm, but I was boiling inside.  

I can never keep up with the laundry.  I don't know why I don't fold a load at a time.  Actually, I do: I'm always switching the loads between running here and there, and I just throw the dry stuff on the treadmill.  Oh, laundry...  I happened to fold that particular six-load stack (or was it eight?) in 35 minutes.  Bam.

I got a new haircut this week (with bangs, which look goofy in this photo) and colored it myself using professional product (I have sweet hook-ups).  It was initially darker than expected, but I really like it now.  Good-bye highlights!  I'm so happy with the change.

Kate has had some really rough days since the time change on Sunday.  Stubbornness and tantrums have reigned supreme.  Sunday was not a happy day, particularly at church.  She cried herself to sleep in my arms while I was sitting on the sidewalk behind the building.  I wanted to do the same thing. (Note: I think the video below is hilarious, but I think laughter has to be my coping mechanism for Kate's constant crying.  Don't watch it if you don't like screaming.  Haha.)

Garry and I had a very rare date on Saturday.  We went to a little ballet recital for one of my former Beehives.  Our admission was free (thanks, Sarah!), so we splurged on a babysitter and a Texas Roadhouse onion blossom (dairy free=healthy, right?) that evening.

Tyler's bones are healing perfectly, so he got a new short-arm cast.  Washing his arm between casts felt sooo good.  This time Tyler chose a green cast.  The cute nurse gave the girls "fake casts" that they loved.

The weather has been mostly lovely this week, so the kids and I have spent a lot of time at the park.  Sometimes we go alone and sometimes with friends.  Between some morning walks and our park trips, the fresh air and sunshine have done good things for my mood.

Garry taught an Excel class to about 100 people at work on Thursday.  He spent long hours preparing, but got great feedback from the higher-ups who attended his class.  This week he got a bonus and a raise, so we are happy that he is being recognized for his hard work and achievements. Go Garry!

You'll notice I don't have any pictures of Zach. He is reluctant to appear in photos, and honestly he's not home very much.  He goes to school at 7:00 to practice in the band room, and then stays after school until 4:30 for basketball practice. He has been playing on a YMCA basketball team, too.  That season ended on a sour note, but Zach's skills are improving, as is his love of the sport. The last two weeks have been really rough in the attitude/behavior department, so we are glad for the happy and calm days when they come.

Overall, things are going well here...busy and crazy and messy as always.  That's just family life, right?

Mar 9, 2014

Kate learns a lesson

On Wednesday afternoon,
I was being a good little mama
and painting my girls' fingernails.
Neighbor Lucy was over,
and I was working on her nails
when Kate's hysterical scream
pierced my eardrum.

I turned to see what was happening
and she was standing there
with an open bottle of nail polish in one hand
and its lid and brush in the other.
Her eyes were squeezed shut
and she was screaming
like I've never heard her scream before.

After what seemed like 10 minutes
I finally understood:
she had painted her eyeball.
I imagine she was attempting to
"put on mascara"
or something
but whatever her attempt,
it failed
and she was in serious pain.

I tried to open her eye
but she screamed louder.
I tried to wipe her eyelid
but she screamed louder.
Finally, I did what I knew needed to be done.
I wrapped her in a towel,
laid her on her back on the counter
with her head over the sink
and turned on the water.

Oh, the screaming.
The memory makes me sick.
It was kind of hard to hold her still
and maneuver the hose on the faucet
so it sprayed right in her eye.
I had to open her eye with one hand
and spray with the other.
It was awful.
Awful, I tell you.

But then, when I was done,
she sat up
and I dried her off
and she stopped screaming.
She was still crying from the trauma
but calming down
and opening her eyes.
It was over.

I hugged her for a long time.
She kept begging for a band-aid.
Of course a band-aid makes everything feel better!
I tried to explain that it wouldn't help.
She didn't believe me.
Because I wanted to do anything
for her to stop hurting,
I opened a band-aid and stuck it on
from her eyebrow to her cheek.
I laughed out loud.
She loved it,
and she wore it for about 10 hours.
I'm not sure
why it was so comforting,
but it was.
Silly little girl.

Kate was pretty traumatized
but I think she learned
that putting nail polish in her eye
isn't a good idea.

Here is the story in her own words.

And a photo
in case you can't see the video.
And also because it's cute.

Sorry that I laughed, baby.
After all the tension
I had to let it out.
I mean,
who paints her eye with nail polish?
You have to admit
it's a little bit ridiculous.

Mar 8, 2014

Out and About

This week reminded me a lot of when Zach and Tyler were little.  I was home with two kids and we had lots of adventures in and out of the house.  Life was so different then, but occasionally it feels the same when the boys are at school and I'm home with the girls.

Lexi had a field trip, her first of two in two weeks.  First, she went to a dentist's office and learned about teeth for National Brush Your Teeth for Heaven's Sake month (or something like that).

Then I accompanied her preschool class to Whole Foods for a tour of the store and a discussion about healthy eating.  Kate came along and we had a great time talking about fish guts, what cows make, eating a rainbow, and the best bread ever.  The kids got to sample nectarines, string cheese, bread, and cupcakes.  The guy at the seafood counter was fantastic and showed the kids a North Atlantic salmon, crabs, lobster tails, and even an octopus.  Nobody wanted to sample that.

One day I took the girls on another 3.5 mile walk/jog.  Pushing 60 pounds of kid in a stroller is a good workout.

Another day Kate joined me at the grocery store, which isn't so much an adventure as a trial, but we survived.  Kate's reward for not scaring the other shoppers was to ride on the horsey as we left the store. She doesn't know yet that it's supposed to move.  She had a great time, and I was glad she had chosen to wear her pink sparkly boots, even though she hated her outfit.

Then on Thursday the girls and I went with friends to the zoo. It was the calmest, easiest zoo trip I've ever made.  With Kate on a leash, no one ran away or had a fit when we didn't ride or buy anything extra.  As usual, the giraffes were my favorite part, and they made a real impression on Kate, who is still talking about them.  Lots of the animals were active.  The orangutan was swinging, the lion was roaring, the gorillas were eating lunch, and the giraffes and elephants and zebra were walking around and being interesting.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, too, and Angela and her kids made for great company.  I only have pictures of Kate because Lexi kept skipping around with Lucy and wouldn't pose for me.

We had our share of busy and hard stuff with the other kids (especially with one child, the tales of which should not's that for dramatic? haha) this week, but these happy times with my little girls were nice perks along the way.

Mar 7, 2014

Sparkles and a Nephite

Recently our Primary president hatched the idea to present "Scripture Spotlights" during weekly opening exercises instead of spotlighting the children.  What a great idea, right?  I love it. We have been looking for ways to better incorporate the scriptures into Primary, and this seems like an excellent start.

The plan is to give the kids clues about a person or object in the Book of Mormon (and other books of scripture as we go).  We will offer four possible answers, and then the kids have to guess. For example:

"Heavenly Father told me in a dream that a hungry man named Alma would come to my house. When the man came, I fed him, and he told me about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believed what he said. Together Alma and I taught many people.  We watched members of the church die for what they believed, and we were put in prison. The Spirit of God helped us break free from our chains, and the prison crumbled around us, killing the guards and many wicked people."

1.  Alma the Younger
2.  Omni
3.  Enos
4. Amulek

If the majority of the kids chooses the right answer, then Sam the Scripture Man (haha) gets to advance a square on the path I made on this poster.

Hopefully making progress on a sparkly chart will get the kids excited about the scriptures, one story at a time. That would a wistful little ending to this post, but what I really want to say is: hopefully the laminating will's a little endorsement for Mardel's laminating machine today. Ha.

If you want a copy of the scripture spotlights, email me at heidi[at]thebartles[dot]com.  I can't figure out how to post a multi-page document here, so I am embracing my imperfections and offering what I can! I do hope to make spotlights for the Old and New Testaments, and also the Doctrine & Covenants.  All in good [nap]time, right?

Mar 5, 2014

March letters

Dear March,

I don't like you very much so far.  Let's get together and sort this out, K? K.

Dear piano,

You are my favorite thing in the whole wide world right now.  You are perfect for pounding out my frustrations and softening my soul.  If I don't spend some time with you every day I feel incomplete. You are probably my favorite purchase ever, perhaps even more than my current house, because the master bathroom is tiny and I might curse the wood floors to my grave.  But I digress.

Your owner
Dear Sally DeFord,

I can't participate in the Easter Cantata this year but I bought the music before I knew that.  It provides tons of material for my distress as mentioned above.  I hope to one day master it all, although you have made such a goal pretty tricky with all your 16th notes and break-neck metronome speeds. Maybe that's why "The Greatest Among Us" is my favorite. Props to you.

Former choir member
Dear cell phone,

Thank you for not breaking when I threw you at the wall after someone was really mean to me on the phone last night.  Haha.  I'm so immature.  But I love you.

Embarrassed and grateful
Dear Bambi,

You have provided lots of entertainment for my smallest one lately...and also for me, because she calls you "Bamba" and refers to your bunny friend as "Humper."  Oh, that makes me smile every time.

TV mama
Dear Miss Amy,

Lexi's ballet recital is on Friday, and based on today's dress rehearsal I am not at all confident that she'll perform that night.  Stage fright might trump her passionate love and affinity for ballet, but thanks for the leotard and tutu and sparkly toenails anyway.

Lexi's mom
Dear ham,

I totally know it's my fault, but I'm blaming you for spilling your juices all over my favorite sweats on the day after I did the laundry.  They were supposed to comfort me all week, because we all know (or maybe not everyone does) that I only wear jeans when I leave the house (or when I have to leave the car when I leave the house).  So yeah, you're lame.

The butcher
Dear Primary children,

I hope you like glitter and don't know what ghetto-fabulous means, because I plan to use sparkles and a Nephite to extract your scriptural knowledge on Sunday. 

Sister Bartle
Dear Paul,

You are such a great neighbor, especially to my kids.  Gavin just adores you and is so thrilled to see you at church so he can talk to you about your bows and arrows.  He loves it when you help him shoot them in your backyard. He asks after school if he can play with you.  The fact that you are in your 40's and have a job and teenage daughters never enters his consciousness. You are just a friend, and he's happy to play.  And also thank you for the Popsicles.

Gavin's mom
Dear dairy products,

I miss you.  Tacos without cheese are lame.  Watching my family eat chicken pillows without me is rough.  However, I have learned that coconut milk is WAY better than almond milk, and I have found a morning smoothie recipe that I love, and have found other ways to satisfy my need for creamy textures, so your importance in my life is slowly fading, as is my waistline, which provides a lot of motivation, in addition to material for a run-on sentence.  Eleven pounds down, baby.  Not just because of you, but still.  It's happy.

Water drinker
Dear friend with fertility issues,

I am seriously sad about your struggles (which I know you know), but I love talking to you about them because then I can laugh about my own infertility of long ago.  Garry and I had a great laugh about turkey basters tonight.  Haha.

The lady with five kids she thought she'd never have
Dear Dr. Y,

Why won't you order the blood tests I want?  If I'm paying, why do you care?  The results matter to me, even if it's just for peace of mind.  When I told your nurse I was going to another doctor to get what I wanted, she said you'd call me and discuss the issue.  That was two days ago.  Sionara.

Patient X
Dear Kate,

It is not a good idea to paint your eyeballs with fingernail polish.  The uses you find for that stuff are just mind-boggling!  Hopefully you will remember that this particular experiment was not your brightest idea.  I'm glad you aren't blind. {Post here.}


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