Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catching Up

I cannot believe September is tomorrow. Yikes!

Yesterday was our 8th Anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been eight years, and so much has happened in that time. I'm so thankful for Jenn and the wife and mother that she is in our home.

Lately, Lincoln and Lydia have been having a big time at Grandma & Grandpa's house. Lydia is officially all over the place now. She's a very busy girl, and sometimes she has a lot on her mind that she wants you to know. The stairs officially became a thing yesterday, and she's figuring it out pretty quickly.
Lincoln, especially, has been enjoying the outside time. He's a riot in his sunglasses.

Lydia has also said her first word.
It helps that her "B" sounds have been getting lots of practice lately, but she's consistently saying "bye" at the appropriate times. In fact, the first time she said "bye," Jenn and I were completely caught by surprise. We looked at each other and said, "Holy cow! Did she just say that?"

Grandma Gates fed Lydia for the first time this past week. Grandma was in charge of giving Lincoln his dinner for a long time, but since he does his own meals now, it's been a long time since Grandma's had a meal-job to do. She's re-enlisted.

Lincoln is a Leesville Lake with Grandpa Doug right now. Who knows how much sleep he'll get at nap-time, but he loves being Grandpa's Helper.

Jenn has been investigating some home-school preschool lessons to begin with Lincoln, and he had his first lesson today. He was so excited when I got home from work to tell me about his story, song, craft and memory verse. He's got the mind for these type of lessons and Jenn is really interested in keeping him busy with good, mind-building exercises.

I've been getting a little bit more involved at CVCA after many years away. Last January we took on a student at the clinic for their J-Term, and another student has contacted me about this upcoming J-Term. Not long after our J-Termer is through, we'll be taking on a Purdue veterinary student for a 6 week externship, much like Jenn did at CFVC during our fourth year.

Also, CVCA recently added to their Schools of Distinction model. In the past, the SOD has consisted of the School of Engineering, the School of Ministry, and the School of Business & Entrepreneurship. This year they've added the School of Medical Professions, and they've enrolled 20 Juniors in the program and arranged for 20 professionals from the community to serve as mentors, of which I am one. I met my student, Zach, at the parent meeting this past Monday, and he seems promising. He says he wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. Big goals! So I'll be his mentor over the next two years, and one of my roles is to impress upon him the importance of good study habits, perseverance, good peers, etc. And combining J-Term with the SOD, I'll be giving a presentation to the 20 Juniors at the clinic. Too bad volunteering in the veterinary realm doesn't count for CE!

Edge starts up again very soon. You'll recall that Edge is the middle school ministry at Christ Community Chapel (formerly Hudson Community Chapel). This will be my third year, and the sixth graders I took on in my small group are now eighth graders. Wow. They've grown up a bunch, and a number of them have taken on leadership roles within Edge, which is really neat to see. I'm also excited because my assistant last year, Tyler, who was a senior at Stow High School, is going to school locally and is going to stick with my small group! One of the questions I've been getting from folks at CCC is about what I plan to do after this year. Tha Porch (high school ministry) team would like for me to follow my small group after this year, and the Edge team would like for me to recycle and take on a new sixth grade group. But with all of the changes that will be coming in our home over the next year, the Gates team is pulling me to at least take a year off while things get settled at home.

Our home study was approved by Chinese Children Adoption International, and Jenn just had the last of our things notarized today. The next step involves the US Government and Immigration. Yes, it involves paying an outrageous amount of money and waiting for a long period of time. But I wouldn't want to say anything disparaging about the government.

So that was a bit of catch-up. Thanks for reading through to the end!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wild Canary

The wildlife seems to be enjoying our new landscaping. This American Goldfinch, a.k.a. Wild Canary, (Carduelis tristis) has been buzzing around the surrounding yards over the past few months, but finally settled in our yard for a time to get some seeds.

If you've been over at our Home and heard us refer to "the protest lay," this is what we're talking about. Bridget used to do this, and Gretel also does it to perfection. It occurs when we tell Gretel to lay down when she clearly doesn't want to. She goes through the motions, and technically lays down, but she's ready to spring up at a moment's notice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Landscape Makeover

The landscapers blew in and blew out in one day, and gave the front of our house an extreme home makeover. Maybe it wasn't extreme, but getting rid of those oversized, half-dieing plants was a big step. The new landscaping will look better and better as time goes by and the trees mature.

Last evening was the second annual small group movie under the stars. We watched Cool Runnings and had somewhat of a Jamaica-themed evening. At least the Red Stripe was on sale.
And a fruit fly landed in my water the other day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kendall Lake in the Evening

Jenn and I don't usually go to Kendall Lake in the evening, so we decided to make that our hike, seeing as I didn't have Edge tonight. We had a great walk. Lincoln did a lot of running, Lydia was more engaged in the walk than usual, the dogs completely wore themselves out, and we saw some cool wildlife.

This is a Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia). It looked disgusting, and almost made Jenn vomit, but we found out when we got home that she's completely harmless!
The Mossy Log has become a point of reference on our hikes, particularly with Lincoln. We compare the plant and animal life we see around it to what we've seen previously. It's a cool way to mark the seasons and the passage of time. Here's today's photo of The Mossy Log.
And this is what Lincoln will do not long after we get home from this hike.

Heavy Equipment

I mentioned in the last blog post that Lincoln had had a lot to watch in the way of heavy equipment. These are some of the shots, one from CVCA's big project and the rest from Grandpa & Grandma's driveway. Note the seat Lincoln had for the whole event.

Lincoln's been helping around the house a bit more...
Most of the good stuff happening outside our house is in the front yard, but there are some cool things in the back yard.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Trees Coming Down

Those with coughs in the Gates Home have been getting over them, and things have been going pretty well. We had our last visit with our social worker on Wednesday, and with the exception of just a few more documents, we'll have everything in place to allow our dossier to be completed in about 4.5 months. This is phenomenally fast, and it's all because Jenn is so good at identifying what needs to be done and when, and then following through.
On July 29 I mentioned that Lydia was almost to the point of crawling forward. She's officially there now.
She's motoring around the room, and she's looking like she's going to me more of a handfull-of-a-toddler than Lincoln was. He never showed much interest in doing anything that might be dangerous, but Lydia has already been spotted trying to pull and outlet cover out of the wall. Yikes! Keep your eye on that little lady! She's also trying to pull herself up on things. She hasn't quite done this successfully yet downstairs, but Jenn did find her standing in her crib a couple of days ago. We'll be dropping her mattress this weekend.

And have we mentioned that she's getting a number of teeth? At last count, there are four. She doesn't seem to be too bothered by their emergence, and she's had them come in 2 by 2, which is also nice. They're mostly on left side of her mouth. As I write this, she's using them to chew on Lincoln's tools. She's also attacking the crib with her teeth... much more than Lincoln ever did.
A funny Lincoln story... when we were on our way home from our walk at the Beaver Pond yesterday, he was playing with his phone in the back seat of the Envoy and said to Jenn, "Mommy, be quiet."
After a short conversation about how it's important to ask nicely, we found out that he was pretending that he was on the phone with someone. He said, "They have a sick dog." It became clear that he was imitating what he sees Jenn do when she's on call. "What's wrong with the dog?" we asked. "It's very sick... he broke his leg," Lincoln replied. "I told them they should go to the clinic," he said. "Which clinic?" I asked. "Daddy's clinic," Lincoln answered. It was all Jenn and I could do to keep from laughing out loud... it was really cute to watch.

Another funny Lincoln story... yesterday for dinner I mixed up some Canada Dry Ginger Ale with orange juice and Lincoln said he wanted a taste. So I let him have a drink (risking backwash on the full end of the glass, I might add) and he took a taste and said, "It's kind of salty. But I like it!" I'm not sure what "salty" means in his mind, but it cracked me up.

I've also mentioned in the past that Lincoln has been taking photos himself. He's just learned to use the little view-finder, which has decreased the frustration level a ton (his and mine!), and now it's more of a fun thing than a chore. Here are some of his recent takes:
And while he didn't take this photo, he did spot these spiders on our walk, one under a branch and the other on the trail.

And while he and I meandered slowly watching for things to photograph, Jenn and Lydia kept a brisk pace, nearly making it to Szlay's from the Ira Road Trailhead.

I'm getting backlogged with some photos that are not yet in my possession. Lincoln got to watch the demolition of Grandpa Doug's driveway on Tuesday and then he got to watch four cement trucks come and pour the driveway on Friday. Grandma Paulette set up a lawn chair and a TV-tray for his meals, and he sat out in the garage for hours watching the workers do their thing? How many 3-year-old boys get to take all that in in just a couple of days? And there's even more to watch this week!
Today the guys from Sarlouis Tree Service came to take down our near-dead trees, the split pear tree, and other ugly brush from the front of our house. Lincoln has had quite an eye-full this week. It was chainsaws and chippers today!

The folks from Suncrest Gardens will be here on Wednesday to begin putting in our new landscaping.
Would you believe that the kids let us sleep until 7:15 today? This is unheard of in our house these days.
In fact, Lydia was chatting around 6:00 am, but fell back asleep even with a poopy diaper, we found out. It helps that she's been sleeping with her little bum up in the air lately. After we got things rolling then we hit the road for another morning walk, this time to the Pine Grove Trail. It has been a long time since we visited this trail, but it's great for the dogs and for Lincoln: mostly flat, very pretty, and a loop with a couple of places to turn around should the need arise. Gretel was worn out after the hike, and not because it was so hot. In fact, this was the most pleasant walk we've had in terms of the climate. Lydia rides really well in the pack, and today she chattered for a decent portion of the walk. Lincoln's at a stage of life now where he wants to hold one of our hands on the walk for most of the walk.
When I was at Edge on Wednesday evening, Jenn saw this in the sky.