Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dancing Elves

I'm sharing these a little late, but they're still worth sharing. The Gates Family elved themselves this Christmas. Check these out...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Run-Down

This Christmas season was full of good cheer at the Gates Home. I had a really long weekend, and that helped with the kids, because they were on sensory overload. We had only one all-out meltdown, and Jenn and I learned a lot about how many presents young kids don't need.

This year's festivities included Jenn's hosting our ABF's Ladies Cookie Exchange (yum!), a Wild Game Night for the Gates Family Christmas (featuring antelope, bison, elk, etc.), and hosting the Mullen Family Christmas.

We were also worried that our family Christmas after family Christmas would dilute the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day excitement with Lincoln, but that was not the case. After he went to bed on Monday evening, he got up about 30 minutes later saying, "I can't sleep. Every time I lay down, I just sit right back up again." After telling him that it was okay to be excited about Christmas but that he'd have to stay in bed, he said, "I want a yo-yo." I said, "Did you tell Santa that you wanted a yo-yo?" "No," he replied, "Is Oodles still downstairs? Could you tell him to tell Santa that I want a yo-yo??" The bummer was, Jenn and I hadn't gotten a yo-yo for him. I told him that Santa had probably already made his present, but that Santa knows what boys like him like, and that he'd probably really, really like whatever Santa brought him. The next morning proved me right, as each of the three kids opened up sleeping bags, Lincoln's with a Spiderman theme, Lydia's with a fairy princess theme, and Henry's with a dinosaur theme, and each of them with their names embroidered on the front. Lincoln also got Spiderman jammies and a Spiderman pillowcase. These will come in especially handy when the kids go to Leesville and when we all go to the Outer Banks.

On Christmas Eve, just before bedtime, Lincoln and I read "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" for Grandma Laura, Grandpa Dave, Auntie Haley, Mommy, Lydia and Henry, but Lydia decided to "tell her own story" and she babbled through our story. It was pretty funny. By the time we got to "A sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too," the whole thing got to be a silly mess, but we plowed through and finished.

The food was simply fantastic. The Mullen Christmas featured the typical shrimp, roast beef, and seemingly endless spread of cookies. Then Jenn went to work on Christmas Eve, making three meals in a short time span: cherry stuffed pork tenderloin with an improvised cherry sauce, apple stuffed cinnamon raisen bread baked French toast, and a sausage polenta. Wow.
Presents were interesting to observe with the kids this year. Particularly Henry needed to move slow. Rushing him through presents wasn't going to work, and in fact he got quite overwhelmed on a couple of occasions. Lincoln wanted to be helpful with passing out presents, and opening others' presents, but even he reached a point on Tuesday where he'd had enough. Henry received a Little Tikes truck, and he hardly wanted to stray more than three paces from it all Christmas day. Lydia got tons of cute clothes and a hair accessory kit with a real, working hair dryer!. Lincoln received a small arsenal, and he also made (with the help of Grandpa Doug) a little jewlry box for Mommy. Jenn and I went easy on each other's presents this year, as our upcoming cruise is our present to each other. Grandma Laura got a small dose this past weekend of what she signed up for come the Fifth of January.

As Lydia watched one of her new movies on the couch,
Henry watched from his truck, drive-in-style.
Henry has been making great strides with his talking. The words are starting to flow, and they're more recognizable. "Cookie," wasn't too much of a surprise, but it was nice to hear that he was saying two-syllable words and not simply repeating the first syllable. Another, more warming, example of this is that Christmas day was the first day he said both, "Mommy" and "Daddy." He's saying them reliably again today! "Shower" is another funny thing that he says, and he's also starting to finally click with, "Please help," when he wants something done or put together. (I encourage our readers to click on the links to the right for recent updates of some of the others from our Adoption group.)
Lydia enjoys taking Henry's truck "to Retro Dog." Also, she pretended to talk on the phone today when we were at Target. I asked her who she was talking with, and she said, "Giant Eagle." If she's not as verbally gifted as Lincoln was at this stage of life, she's pretty close. The nature/nurture question will be answered when Henry eventually develops the physical ability to form words. Will he be as verbally crazy as Lincoln was/is and Lydia is proving to be? We'll see.

In sleeping news, the toddler bed didn't last long. Lydia just wouldn't stay in it, so we put the crib back together. We also borrowed from a friend one of those dome things that keeps the kids from crawling out. That has been a blessing. It doesn't keep her from waking up, but it does keep her contained, and prevents her from roaming the halls and bedrooms at night. She's had a couple of days here and there over the past couple of weeks where she'll wake up and make a bunch of noise, sometimes talking, sometimes crying, every 2.5 to 3 hours. This doesn't make her parents happy.

View from the Dining Room
We're in the middle of a good snowstorm right now outside. When the kids get up from their naps, we'll make an afternoon of it playing in the snow while I clear the driveway. They're calling for 6 to 12 inches! And we've already gotten about 2 to 3. The plow came down the street as I was writing a couple of paragraphs above, and now as I look outside, I can't see where it cleared anything. I know some will disagree with me, but I sure how this winter is like two winters ago, where we had a bunch of snow. Last winter was weak, and I'd much rather have lots of snow than have 35 degrees and rain until April.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pre-Christmas Run-Down

I know it's been a while since I last posted. My apologies. There has been lots going on in the Gates Home, and finding the time to sit down and play with photos and write has been tough. Kid stuff is a bit overwhelming right now. Work has been busy in spurts. During the down times at work I've been writing an essay with colleagues from Kentucky and Pennsylvania with the goal of having it published in JAVMA.

You read that correctly... I'm working on getting a piece published in a scholarly journal. I recall my high school days when I was writing term papers and preparing Works Cited pages and saying, "Why do I have to do this? I'm never going to have to do this again." The answer was always, "You'll need to know how to do this in college." Then, by the time I got to vet school, the answer was, "If you ever publish, you'll have to know." And my answer was always, "Yeah, right. I'm going into private practice and never entering the realm of academia again." Well, guess who has been managing the Works Cited page. That's right, and it's been a blast from the past.

So, catching up...
Lydia got moved to a toddler bed. After climbing out of her crib for about a month and not caring a lick when we'd tell her not to do it, we bit the bullet, got the toddler bed (Craig's List... speaking of things I swore I'd never do again...), and now she can climb back into her bed....
... except when she doesn't want to.
Lincoln had his Christmas program at preschool. And on the note of preschool, we received a glowing report from his teachers about his progress and abilities. They're challenging him, and he's rising to the challenges.
Oodles continues to stalk the kids. Sometimes they care that "he's reporting to Santa." Most of the time they forget about it and naughty sibling behavior rules the day.

After purchasing an artificial tree for our family room, Jenn, Lincoln and I still wanted to continue our family tradition of going to the tree farm, so Lincoln and I cut down a smaller tree today and lit it for our front porch. He and the other kids wanted to put lights up on the front of our house, so this was a compromise I was willing to make.

And then on Saturday evening, Jenn and I went to our annual ABF Christmas Party. Jenn looked stunning (and her gold shoes didn't make the photo, but... wow!) and I was more than happy to be seen with her.

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Visits From Oodles

Oodles has been keeping an eye on the kids, and wow, is he getting an eyeful.

This weekend we've got friends coming over to play and make Christmas cookies, so that ought to be fun.  Lincoln has also had a good week of school and a fun trip to Leesville Lake with Grandpa Doug this week.  Lydia continues to be a fountain of laugh-inducers.  Henry is truckin' along.  It's kind of neat to see Henry get into The Hungry Caterpillar and fill in some of the blanks along the way.  His speech is making slow, steady progress.

It's hard to believe we're a week into December.  Pretty soon Jenn's parents will be moved back to Ohio, pretty soon we'll be celebrating our flurry of Christmases and pretty soon Jenn and I will be on our little vacation together.