Monday, March 31, 2008

Rough Night

Last night we had a pretty rough night. Chuck was gone at the library till about 3:30am so I had put the girls to bed myself a little early so I could relax.

Lucy woke up several times fussing around midnight. Usually Chuck and I trade off who helps the kids out in the middle of the night, but since he was gone it was just me. Between 2:30 and 3am Lucy just would not calm down. I finally went in her room and it smelled SO BAD. I realized Lucy had thrown up and it was all over her bed, pillow, blankets, and her head. I felt so bad for making her roll around in her puke for who knows how long.I changed the sheets and her clothes, then gave her a little sponge bath. She had just settled down when Chuck came home (now 3:30am).

At about 4am Leland started crying hysterically. I thought "Oh great now she has thrown up!" When I went into her room she was crying so hard she could not tell me what was wrong. She finally blurted out between the tears "I lost my microphone and I can't find it anywhere!!" I started laughing at this point. Poor girl was having a bad dream about a lost microphone. She even came into our room at 6:45am still wimpering about a lost microphone.

Needless to say we didn't get much sleep last night between the puke and 'lost microphones'. Then at 7am we were graced with a wake up call from my 1 year old nephew who was playing with my sister's phone. (This is 2 mornings in a row with such a call. You would think she would lock the keys or something) I'm feeling a little queezy today, so hopefully we don't have a stomach flu.

The joy of being a mom - you take the good with the not so good.

Friday, March 28, 2008

One Word

Lately I have been thinking a lot about being a mother and why I chose to be a mom and have also chosen to be home with my girls. A variety of things have sparked this thought mostly friend's blogs, conversations with a few strangers and friends, and the book I'm reading (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert).

There was a time in my life when having children was not a priority. Graduating from college and deciding on a career was my focus. Well I did graduate but fell into a career that was not my life's ambitions but enjoyed. I then found a wonderful husband and my desire to start a family finally started to kick in. When I was pregnant it was like I was morphing into a new person, not better or worse, just different. I wanted to learn all I could about being a mom and becoming a better person, so I could be a better mother. I am very fortunate to have a part time job that I do from home. It gives me the opportunity to do non-child related activities. It is not my dream job by any means and if I had not been so lucky to have children when I did who's to say this is what I would be doing? But by any means it gives me an outlet that I am grateful for.

So, is my education a waste now that I am a mother? Of course not. I feel that I am a well rounded, confident person and that helps me be a better mother. I am amazed by my girls every day at how much they can do, how much they know, and how they have learned to play together. I don't think there is any job, even my "dream job" (which I don't even know what that would be), that would be more satisfying then seeing my children grow and learn everyday.

The book I'm reading is a memoir of a woman's search for happiness and contentment. It's an interesting read and I definitely do not agree with her opinion on some things like what determines one's successfulness in life. But that's why I read other's ideas, to decide whether or not I agree. (It's like why I like to read all sorts of parenting books. I'll take every one's ideas and just pick and chose what I will try.)

Anyway, I'm only halfway through the book but one idea that has sparked my interest is, If ONE word described you what would it be? She starts talking about this first as one word that describes a city. It could be a verb or noun or adjective, any ONE word. The one word for Lexington.....friendly. I know this is my perception. Not all of my friends love this little town as much as I do and sometimes I can't figure out why. I know this is what we wanted as a family (small town living) and I love that I cross paths with the same people all the time in different situations. I'm over the no shopping options dilemma that most people have here.

So what's my word? I can't, content, friend, positive....I think I'll go with positive. I feel like I am a positive person and like to look for the postive side of situations and people.

My family's ONE word: Chuck - knowledge, Leland - excitable, Lucy - joyful

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Leland v Lucy

Many people have commented that Leland and Lucy look nothing alike. For those of you that did not have the pleasure of knowing Leland as a baby here's a picture:

Leland 9 months old

Lucy 9 months old

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What's your Gates?

Tonight, Leland and I spent a while playing "What's your Gates?"

A number of months ago, she learned her full name is Leland Joy Gates. She loves to say it over and over again. It was only a few weeks until she started calling Lucy, Lucy Looba Gates. It was at that point, that I realized just how often I refer to daughter #2 as Lucy Looba. So, we taught Leland that her sister's full name is Lucy Maydene Gates. Of course, then Leland asked, "Dad, what's your Gates?" and then "Mom, what's your Gates?"

So, tonight, Leland kept asking "What is your Gates? What is Lucy's Gates? What is Mommy's Gates?" We spent a long time repeating everybody's full names over and over. Finally, I got an idea. "Guess who else is a Gates," I said. "Grammy and Papa are also Gates!" That just about blew her mind.

So, we called Grammy and Leland asked, "Grammy, what's your Gates?"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt w/ Law Families

On Saturday we attended Leland's 4th Easter Egg Hunt of the season. The Law Families had a great party at the park at the end of our street. Leland had the finding as many eggs as possible as quickly as possible all figured out. Once her basket was full she asked for Lucy's so she could run around and fill her basket too. Leland especially enjoyed opening all the eggs to find the candy inside. It's Halloween all over again with her asking for a piece of candy every 10 minutes.

Lucy sure is a cute little Easter bunny.

All the kids.

Check out more pictures at Heidi's Blog.

Family Pictures

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Staying put for the summer

Yesterday, I found out that I had been accepted to work in a legal clinic here at Washington & Lee for the summer, which means that we will be in Lexington for the summer. We are relieved to not have to move for only 3 months again.

We are really excited to be staying in Lexington to experience all of the fun summer things to do such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Boxerwood Gardens, Hull's Drive-In Theatre, Maury River swimming, and visiting our family.

The clinic I will be working for is the Community Legal Practice Center (CLPC). I will be paid (not much, but enough) during the summer and continue on for school credit throughout the school year.

CLPC provides free legal services to qualified residents in the community. Clients are represented by student attorneys who are dedicated to community service. All work is closely supervised by a member of the law school faculty licensed to practice law.

As in any community legal practice, the objective is to provide comprehensive assistance to meet most if not all of the client's legal needs. The current focus is to serve victims of domestic violence and community residents over 60 who have limited financial resources. The CLPC will, however, consider client needs outside these areas in exceptional circumstances.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt with Cousins

My sister and I had an impromptu Easter Egg hunt last Saturday with the cousins. Christine of course had ridiculous amounts of eggs so there was enough for each of the 5 kids to get 20! (We didn't even use all the eggs she had)

Afton and Leah hid the eggs all around the backyard. It was a lot of fun. They hid and found the eggs several times.

Leland enjoyed pushing her eggs in the swing. It's a good thing they were plastic eggs because the basket flipped out of the swing several times.

Leland and Afton also held other egg games: egg rolling down the slide and egg throwing contests.

Check out Christine's blog for more pictures.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pump It Up!

While in MD we went to a fun place called Pump It Up. It has 4 HUGE bounce houses that are so much fun. The best was that parents could get in them with their kids. The time we were there was for little kids only so it was great and I didn't have to worry Leland would get trampled going in alone. Leland and Lucy both had a blast.
This particular 'house' was an obstacle course. I wasn't sure Leland could do it alone, but she is a strong little girl. Leland and Clara were BFF for the first 15 months of their lives. Too bad they don't remember that now, but they still had a fun time together. It was so great to see her mom too. Thanks for a fun day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cousin Fun

Since we did so many fun things while we were in MD for 5 days I will break it up into a few posts. It was so much fun watching all the cousins play. They had a blast playing together. We sure did miss Suz and Emily.

The first night we got there (the only time with Chuck before he left for Dallas) we of course broke out the PlayStation 3 with NCAA football and Rock Band. Chuck and Todd stayed up till the wee hours of the morning satisfying their video game fix.

You can tell Nick has older sisters (and a mom) who love Hannah Montana. This video does not do justice really how well he sings the song. Leland even became attached to this doll and was singing along by the end of our visit. It was hilarious.

Afton wanted to play photographer taking pictures of Leland. She dressed her up and set her in poses. Leland was a good sport then Nick joined in the fun. Here are some of the best pictures.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St Patrick's Day from our crazy little leprechaun!

This morning we went to a small St. Patrick's Day party with some friends. All morning Leland kept saying we were going to HER birthday party. I corrected her saying "No it's a St. Patrick's Day party" and her reply was "It's not Patrick's birthday, it's MY birthday!!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

City Driving

Yesterday I had to take Chuck to the airport in Baltimore. On our way into the city there was a major accident on the freeway (the opposite direction than we needed to go). It caused four lanes to go to only one. As we drove past miles and miles of dead stop traffic, I realized 1) This is one of the moments that I'm grateful to live in a small town, 2) I was going to have to drive back in the dead stop traffic.

After dropping off Chuck I opted to drive through downtown Baltimore in order to get to a different freeway that would take me back to my sister's house. As soon as we got into the city we almost immediately hit all of the unavoidable pot holes.
Leland says..... "Mommy it's too bumpy!"...... "Why is it so bumpy?"....."I feel sick!"....."Can you stop bumping?" Luckily she didn't get sick.

A little while later as I sat at a stoplight I watched a delivery truck trying to back into a unloading dock. His truck was obviously too tall to fit under the awning to back up far enough to be out of the lanes of traffic. So what did he do? Left his truck perpendicular in the street blocking a full lane of traffic, got out, and started to unload his truck! Seriously?!?! My light turns green and now I can't even go anywhere. I was so frustrated.

There are a few things I miss about Baltimore, mainly my sister and few friends that still live there. But I do not miss the ridiculous traffic and inconsiderate driving.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Linger Longer (2)

We had our second Linger Longer on Sunday. We stay after our regular church meetings to eat lunch together as a congregation. Chuck and I are in charge of coordinating the activities so it was a busy Sunday for us. This time the Activities budget did not provide any food and it was going to be purely pot luck. I had sent around sign-up sheets for 2 weeks and called everyone on Friday to remind them of their assignment. We were nervous about having enough food and having a good variety. We panicked on Saturday night and I went to buy 2 frozen lasagnas just in case.

After the first hour of church, we decided to cook both lasagnas because it didn't look like we were going to have enough food. Well, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of food that was provided when it came time to eat. Apparently, a lot of people had food in the car. I could not believe the spread we started to get. We could have set up a 4th table for food.

It was nice to feel the support of the members of our ward. So many people commented about how nice it is to just sit and visit with everyone. It is also fun to taste other's dishes. Next time I might provide little cards for each to write who made the dish and what it is. I heard many people asking around trying to get recipes.

The highlight of my afternoon was to watch an elderly lady with a HUGE smile on her face get her empty dishes from the kitchen. It made her so happy to see that other's liked her meat loaf and chocolate cake. She said "I can't believe everyone liked MY meat loaf so much!"

I made Andes Mint Cookies and they were a hit! (Thanks Erin) Another hit was someone brought individually wrapped PB&J and cheese sandwiches for the kids. I'm sure it took a lot of time, but I saw one on almost every kids plate.

Our next Acitivity will be in May. We have a great Yoga instructor in our ward that would like to have a Yoga morning. We are also thinking of "Spring Cleaning" our building. I would love any ideas on how to make a "Come clean the Church" activity more inticing.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Small Town Living

(This is an old draft of a post from 3/08 that I found when cleaning up my blog files. Sure made us reminisce about our beloved Lexington.)

If you haven't heard me say it before, I'll say it again...I LOVE our small town.

I love....

  • that I am usually one of only 3 people shopping at the grocery store after 8pm

  • that the only traffic is the VMI game day traffic on Saturday afternoon

  • that the streets of downtown are lined with American flags on the weekend

  • I see at least 3 people I know at Wal-Mart everytime I go

  • the ladies at the library know my daughter's names

  • our mechanic and dentist moved their families here 'just because it seemed like a great place to live'

  • that I realized I don't need a mall to survive winter with kids

My Sweet Husband

What's his name? Charles Edward Gates, Jr.
How long have you been married? 4 years
How long did you date? 10 months
How old is he? 31
Who eats more? Chuck. Except once he bet me $100 worth of new clothes that I couldn't eat a rack of ribs, order of chicken wings, and plate of fries all by myself. You better believed I downed that food and we went shopping a few days later.
Who is taller? Chuck
Who said 'I love you' first? I'm pretty sure it was me.
Who does the laundry? Me, but Chuck helps fold
Who does the dishes? We both do them
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Chuck
Who cooks dinner? Me
Who sings better? Chuck, He sang to me at our wedding!
Who drives when you are together? Chuck
Who is more stubborn? I don't think either of us are stubborn.
Who is smarter? Chuck is like a walking Encyclopedia. I am amazed at some of the things he knows.
Who kissed who first? I kissed Chuck
Who asked who out first? I asked out Chuck
Who proposed? I at least let him propose. We were driving back to Baltimore from NC really late at night. I had fallen asleep in the car and he woke me up while driving into downtown DC. He said he wanted to take a walk along the Tidal Basin. WHAT?? It was midnight, snow was on the ground, I was wearing PJs, was he nuts? I was a good sport and went for the walk anyways. Good thing because he asked me to marry him during our walk. It was great.
Who is more sensitive? Me - I cry at EVERYTHING.
Who has more friends? Me
Who has more siblings? Chuck has 5 sisters
Who wears the pants in the family? We each have one leg in.

Chuck is also a wonderful husband and father. He loves his one night a week (sometimes 2) alone with the girls. He works so hard at school for our family. I am so grateful for such a wonderful man in my life. I am looking forward to the eternities with him by my side.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Student Editor of Student Lawyer Magazine

Yesterday, I was named Student Editor of Student Lawyer magazine, which is published by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association.

The magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for division members and others. It is published every month of the school year, September through May, and is available only by subscription or as part of the $20 annual membership in the ABA Law Student Division.

The magazine is run by the full-time editor, but each year a Student Editor is chosen and given a large amount of authority in planning the magazine. I am completely in charge of one section of the magazine and assist the editor in the other sections. If you go to the magazine's website, I will be taking the place of current Student Editor Kristi Lemoine, who is listed on the right side of the page.

Ashley and I have both really loved the magazine, since I first started receiving it in my first year of law school. I applied for the position in January after coming across the call for applicants. I really didn't think I would get it because I wasn't a journalism major and haven't worked full-time for a newspaper or magazine before. So I was thrilled when they contacted me for an interview last weekend and totally surprised when they offered me the position yesterday.

In general, my job description and duties include:
  • Generating (through writing or assigning/editing) about 2,500-4,000 words per month for the Division Dialogue section (see website).
  • Assigning articles to student writers as deemed appropriate by the student editor and staff editor, and ensuring their timely filing and editing
  • Alerting law student section liaisons to requirement to write liaison notes, following-up on these requests, and editing articles
  • Reviewing via e-mail all magazine copy (feature pages and Division Dialogue) prior to publication and alerting staff editor to any oversights or potential problems
  • Informally consulting with staff editor on various issues involving the magazine, including editorial content
  • Assisting in judging of the Law Student Division's law school newspaper contest
  • Carrying out other minor assignments to assist the staff editor

I begin working immediately. Next week, I will be travel to Dallas to attend the Division’s Board of Governors meetings. I will have to travel to three other meetings over the next year. One in NYC, another in Chicago and another yet to be determined. It should be lots of fun and a great opportunity to meet lots of national ABA leaders.

The Deans of my school are really excited that this will be a great opportunity for me to represent W&L on a national level. They are already planning ways to promote it. I had to convince the website to wait to do a story on me until I get back from Dallas and having a better idea what I will be doing.

The only downside about this opportunity is that we had to cancel my parents' visit to Lexington next week. We hope they can reschedule as soon as possible because it would be fun to show them our fun town as well as for them to see how much our girls are growing.

Monday, March 3, 2008

THIS is Nature

While living in CA one of the things I heard Chuck say all the time was "I miss nature!" and of course the response of many Southern Californians would be "We have nature, we have the beach" I guess you can count the beach if you stay looking at the ocean and not turn around to face the million dollar homes stacked practically on top of each other and you forget about the crazy traffic you have to face to and from your drive to the beach. We loved our year in CA and are excited to visit as often as possible, but...

THIS is the nature that Chuck and I love and missed while living in CA. While standing on top of this ridge looking down at the gorgeous river, I said "THIS is why we chose to live here."

We reached this lovely view during our Sunday drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway a short 20 minutes from our home. The Parkway is the epitome of nature: gorgeous views, no road signs or billboards, no guard rails, no commercial vehicles allowed, and hiking trails. We love it! We love that we live in such a gorgeous part of the country that allows us to have such wonderful, peaceful Sunday drives.

Leland now instead of asking for the beach she asks to see cows and to throw sticks into rivers/creeks. Our little beach bum has turned into a good ol' country girl.

Barrister's Ball

This weekend we had the pleasure of attending W&L's Barrister's Ball - nicknamed Law Prom. It was fun to get dressed up, got out to dinner with friends, and dance (a little).

Anyone that knows me knows that I have stick straight hair that has always been impossible to curl. My sister thinks hair changes sometimes through pregancy, because my hair curled and stayed curly all night!! While I had rollers in my hair Leland kept telling me how beautiful I looked and made Chuck come back to the bathroom to see how pretty I was. She was very concerned when I took my beautiful hair out of the rollers. She even said "Mommy, put the clips back in so will be beautiful again."

We went out to dinner to with the J Reuben Clark Society to Tucany, an Italian restuarant in town. It was fun to be out to dinner with friends, but the food was not very good at all. Luckily J Reuban Clark Society footed the bill all but $5 per couple. So I guess maybe (MAYBE) the food was worth paying $5 for. According to the waiter (who was horrible) I ordered the best thing on the menu (lamb chops) so I felt bad for everyone else because mine was just okay.

After dinner we went out for ice cream before heading to the party. At the party there was GREAT appetizers. If we would have known there was going to be so much good food there I'm sure Chuck would not have eaten his meal at Tuscany.

I convinced Chuck to get on the dance floor even though we were the ONLY one's out there at first. Many soon followed. He's such a great dancer, I'm not that coordinated to do the swing steps and all that he does, but I can follow okay. I'm sure I looked silly, but almost everyone else had been drinking (open bar) most of the night, so I'm sure compared to others that came onto the dance floor I was alright.

I had a really fun evening even though dinner was a bust. We stayed for a while visiting with friends and dancing. Going to events like this just remind me of how old I'm getting mostly because I started to not recognize songs that everyone else was singing along to. Plus I was starting to yawn at 10pm ready to go to bed. So sad.

I just have to add how AWESOME W&L is. Like I mentioned J Reuben Clark Society paid for dinner, but we also will get reimbursed for any babysitting expenses from the Law Families Club. The party was of course free, so we paid a total of $12 for dinner, ice cream, dancing, and babysitting. I LOVE it! What a fun cheap date.

Note from Chuck: Although Ashley says the party was "of course free", it isn't that way at all schools. Tickets for a couple to attend Barrister's Ball at Chapman University (my old school) were about $80. Additionally, Chapman does not have anything comparable to W&L's Law Families Club, which obtains student fee funds to help students with families participate in activities. A comparable evening at Chapman would have cost us about $150.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Crawl

"I may be able to get where I want to go, but I can't guarantee my pants come with me."
- Lucy