Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas

Here's a few odds and ends that will put a nice bow on the Christmas season. To see Lincoln's Gingerbread House, visit Emily's blog.

First of all, Lincoln loves his John Deere PJs!

Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Dave sent a fleece blanket for Lydia. While Lincoln's was a dinosaur blanket (a great choice!), Lydia's has birds and flowers and it goes incredibly well in her room! This is what was on the wall when Lydia arrived:
And this is the blanket that she received:

The video that follows is pretty cute. By the time we recorded this Lincoln had recited this book along with me about a dozen times, and he'd gotten to the silly stage, so his compliance wasn't quite up to par. But you'll get the gist of how story time went each night before bed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas, The Finale

Christmas at Grandma Paulette & Granpa Doug's house was a great time. Lincoln took an awesome nap before-hand so he was very pleasant during the gift-opening festivities, and Lydia took her once-every-third-day Monster Nap during the gift-opening festivities. Lydia received many good clothes, and because she's moving up through the sizes faster than her brother did, these gifts were very welcome! This could be described a John Deere Christmas for Lincoln. He received John Deere pajamas, a John Deere lounging pillow, a custom-for-Lincoln John Deere book, John Deere DVDs, John Deere die-cast toys, a John Deere Gator toy, John Deere fruit snacks... and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few other things, but you get the jist.

Jenn received a Gates Family Craft Box stocked with all the craft supplies one could want and several good idea-books. It is impressive! The Leesville Lake Christmas Elf was busy, too, bringing some nice framings, some camo-pajamas, and a few other things that you have to just see. It was nice spending the bulk of the day with Auntie Em and Uncle Jeremy, too. The Gates Christmas is always a relaxing bit of time.

At the end of the day:
More photos of Lincoln's and Lydia's gifts will certainly follow, right after Jenn and I get our house back to "normal."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Mid-Day

The first thing we had to do before Christmas Eve and Christmas traditional events was get clean.
Last night before we picked up our Applebee's take-out (probably won't become a tradition), Lincoln and I drove around some of the Cuyahoga Falls neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. Then after dinner, we set out cookies and milk for Santa. And they were gone by morning! More on this later.
Jenn had never seen A Christmas Carol and it brought back great memories for me.
Christmas morning was a lot of fun. Lincoln really got into the present-thing, and he wanted to play with each toy and read each book as soon as he opened each of them. Between Matchbox and HotWheels cars, books, Henry (from Thomas & Friends), a music set (drum, harmonica, tambourine & whistle), and a snow shovel, he was on sensory-overload. He skipped breakfast, so we had to settle for brunch, but that meant he could go down for an early nap, which will work well for the rest of the day. Here's a sampling of our morning...

I was also excited to receive from Jenn the BBC series Life. You may recall seeing this on the Discovery Channel. The best part about this DVD set is that it has the original narration by David Attenborough, not Oprah Winfrey. It's no secret I'm not an Oprah fan, but what made me dislike her narration wasn't her politics and peddling of well-packaged New Ageism. She's just a lousy narrator. Don't take my word for it, he says the same thing, and so do the commenters on this post. Also on the gift stack is the BBC's Yellowstone series. More great nature viewing ahead!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

We've been quite busy going here and there and managing with the kids. This Christmas Eve has been quite relaxing and that's been very nice for all of us here. We're looking forward to our first Christmas doing things the Gates way. All of Lincoln and Lydia's presents are wrapped, and the stocking stuffers are ready. Even though Lincoln spoiled my presents for Jenn, she still doesn't know what Santa is bringing for her stocking, so I have a feeling we'll all be surprised in the morning. Yea!

After spending a great couple of days with Grandma Laura, Grandpa Dave and Auntie Haley (not Aunt Haley, Lincoln reminds us), we all went down to Columbus for a visit with the Parkinsons. Jenn stayed an extra day and met up with some more friends and family on Thursday and then came home in the evening.

If all goes well, I'm planning on renewing an old Gates Family tradition and watching A Christmas Carol this evening, specifically the George C. Scott version. We always watched that on or around Christmas growing up. I recall watching it some years when Grandma & Ed were over for dinner. Ed was good for the first 45 minutes before his head would roll back and he'd seranade us with snoring. Good times those were. Emily is probably getting a small chuckle out of this memory. And speaking of Em, we'll be meeting up with Auntie Em & Uncle Jeremy tomorrow at Grandma Paulette & Grandpa Doug's house tomorrow afternoon. If you're reading this before Dec. 26, please keep Jeremy in your prayers as he's going to be doing some traveling to get some contracts finalized all while juggling a family Christmas schedule. God bless him. (And God bless us, everyone!)
It's been interesting to observe Gretel over the past week. Things are clicking pretty well and she's been a fantastic dog. She seems to have left her chewing phase behind. She's also much more of a social dog at this age than Bridget was, and that's saying a lot. Bridget was nothing short of completely friendly, but she wasn't as interested as sitting next to you and getting a non-stop pet early on in her life as she was when she was 4-6 years old. Gretel wants to be touching or leaning against us at all times, and it's a crack-up. (Unless she's sleeping on her bed, and then it's a challenge to get her up!) She'll turn 1 year old in just over a week!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Two Christmases

Yesterday we had Donati Christmas and it was a lot of fun. This year's celebration overlapped with Aunt Beth's 60th birthday, and the rest of the Donati kids planned a funny "game" for her entitled "You're 60 from Head to Toe." They dressed Aunt Beth in a hat laced with 60 ornaments, an apron tacked with 60 bows, boots fastened with 60 buttons, a boa tied to 60 dollar bills, etc., etc. It was a hoot!

the girl cousins
One thing I really appreciate about Donati Christmas is that each year at least one family pays special tribute to Grandma & Grandpap, and this year mom found some of Grandpap's embroidery and built a theme around it. Each of the other Donati kids were given a piece of his work along with a story of its origin.

Today we celebrated a mini-Mullen Christmas. Lydia and Lincoln were in great form!
The dogs were bored.
It became clear to us today that Lincoln has been picking up on my photography habits. Some things overheard from Lincoln:
  • "You all go over there and I'll take your picture."
  • "Where's my tripod?"
  • "Hold still, Grandma Laura."
There's no doubt about it, he's listening!
The generosity of our family continues to amaze and humble Jenn and me. Despite what's going on around us and what we're hearing about the times that we're living in, the LORD continues to bless us with a loving family and more than we deserve.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Yesterday Jenn and I took Lincoln sledding at Pine Hollow in Virginia Kendall Park. It was great because all the Woodridge kids were in school and we had the big hill to ourselves. Lincoln wasn't crazy about the snow flying in his face, but overall it wasn't a completely horrible experience.

Jenn has really been working with Lydia on her Tummy Time. She's more tolerant of it than Lincoln was at this age.

Lincoln and I went to get Jenn a Christmas present over the lunch time today. When we arrived back home, he looked right at Jenn and said, "We got you a Christmas ornament!" He is not grasping the concept of a secret. Note to self: Don't take Lincoln birthday shopping for Jenn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Polar Express

The Polar Express was an absolute blast tonight, and we are very thankful to Grandma Paulette & Grandpa Doug for the tickets. Lincoln thoroughly enjoyed himself, partaking in the cookie & hot chocolate time, the story time, the pajama parade, carolling, the 12 Days of Christmas, Reindeer Hokey-Pokey and the Ho-Ho-Ho contest. He was outgoing and lots of fun. Here are the photos:

And the prettiest mom on the train car:

Lydia stayed with the Grandparents Gates.

And then when we got home, I shoveled the driveway for a third time. We've been getting bombed with snow and it's really pretty.