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So it's probably about time for me to check in and say, yes, we're still alive.  I'm sure there were lots of things I could have posted about between the first day of school and today (Evan's adjustment to kindergarten, for instance), but, well, it's rare that I manage to muster the enthusiasm to post a status update to Facebook.

For once, the holidays involved more of my family than AJ's.

My mother and father drove up the first weekend because, as my mother said in a not-meant-to-induce-guilt way, "I know you'll not be able to come down during Christmas."  And frankly, at that point, it certainly didn't look like I would have the time to do so.  In fact, I wasn't able to take much time off while they were here, given a request to pitch in and provide assistance with an arbitration hearing.  (This involved much sidelines observation of mistreatment of an associate, and providing sympathetic ear for her ventage.)  I did find the time to go out with my mother to Target so she could get Christmas gifts for the kids, which she gave to them right away (I figure the giver should have the opportunity to see the recipient enjoy the gift, so why make the kids wait until Christmas when she would be back in Tennessee?)  There was, er, a big blue robot for Evan, a Barbie and horse for Abigail, and other things that I can't recall, but which were well enjoyed for at least a week.

At some point, Dad drove back to Tennessee after a couple of days (turkey huntin' week, you see), and my Mom hung around until my brother drove down from Connecticut.  The kids kept him occupied for the couple of days he was here (Uncle Yancey rarely makes it past the front hallway before he has been corralled into a game of some sort), and then the two of them drove down to Tennessee.

´╗┐Then the weekend of the big snow, my sister Selena and her husband Dan stopped by on their drive from Boston to Tennessee, by which time we had the tree up and some decorations on it.  More gifts were exchanged, they found themselves snowed in by the nor'easter.  I took advantage of Selena's presence, and her charming willingness to help conquer clutter, and enlisted her in the Great Toy Culling of 2009.  It's something I try to do twice a year, once in the summer and once before Christmas, but the summer effort got away from me.  From the front hall alone (wherein the kids have a toybox built by AJ's Dad, and a wardrobe built by my grandfather with bins), and a coloring table with boxes under it for books, etc. -- we had 4 bags of trash, of things that couldn't be Freecycled.  The kids were also instructed to fill up a large tub (one per kid) of things they no longer wanted that could be Freecycled.  With that, and the addition of another tub to hold Evan's train set, we were actually able to close the toybox and wardrobe, and the task of cleaning for goose dinner had begun.  In the midst of all of this, the annual get-together with AJ's aunt's family was cancelled due to the snow.

Two enterprising teenagers armed with a snowblower and shovels showed up in time to dig Selena and Dan out, just as they were about to set to the task themselves, and they were on their way.  More tree decorating occurred, along with some ornament breakage (note to Evan:  do not pretend to knife-fight with the tree), and more miscellaneous cleaning.  At some point, we decided that the upper floor, except for the hallway and the bathroom, would simply be off-limits to goose dinner guests.  There was a purchase of a new flat screen tv for the family room, a timely pickup of the old projection tv by someone who claimed it from Freecycle, and the scheduling of the delivery of the new tv for the same day as a 1st and 2nd grade caroling event (of course I could tell Abigail was the best of all the kids singing.  Caroling at 2:00 p.m., delivery set for 3:00 p.m.  Arrive home at 2:35 to see Best Buy guys getting ready to put the tv back into their truck. 

Christmas Eve at the in-laws with AJ's sister and her kids -- more gifts exchanged.  Our Christmas gifts finally wrapped that night, and cookies baked for Santa.  Up early Christmas morning with realization that stockings were left empty, presenting possibility of much anger at fat man for eating cookies but leaving nothing.  Quick rearrangement of smaller gifts into stockings, with hope that kids will again this year not notice that Santa used same wrapping as Mommy.  (It's just a matter of time, I know).  Most favoritest gifts this year:  Nintendo DS Lite; Super Mario Brothers chess set (kids actually want to learn to play chess, AND get to use long-loved Megablocks to build towers for Bowser to imprison Princess Peach for rescue by Mario).  Oh, and Animalogic. 

Kids left to play with gifts while Mom and Dad finish cleaning for next day's goose dinner.  Menu much the same as last year except for deletion of cole slaw and last-minute strategic decision to simply steam broccoli/carrots rather than saute and add toasted almonds.  Total count was 34 people, 10 of which were ages 8 and under.  Last minute appearance of [livejournal.com profile] sconstant  with Little S and N and the Mythical A. (so nice to meet him finally!) and mucho delicious apple cake was a great pleasure.  Must add that Abigail and Evan wanted to keep Little S and N, and pronounced them much better company than certain cousins who will go unnamed.  Didn't get to do much mingling with folks, as I spent most of my time in the kitchen (and most folks, per instructions on invitation/announcement avoided grievous bodily injury by not getting in my way), but it was a grand night and cleanup (which extended a couple of days afterward) was shockingly easier than I had anticipated.

Returned to work on the 27th, found nothing to do.  Decided to stay home for the rest of the week.  This means that yes, I could have gone to TN, but by then there wasn't much time left for a 2-day drive down, followed by a 2-day drive back.  And besides, the kids were sick.  Abigail had a cough that sounded like a lung might come up out of her nose any second.  Evan alternated between angel sweetness and demonic tantrums.  Lovely low-key New Year's Eve with a few friends at home, though me and the young'uns went to bed early (only to be awakened at midnight by neighbors' fireworks and anxious whining Certified Pre-Owned Dog).  The annual New Year's Day dinner with AJ's godfather's family was missed, as I was not about to wrangle sick cranky and now tired kids out of the house.  A couple of very nice dinners with friends cooked at home that weekend though made up for it.

Back to work this week, not much going on. Incapable of composing complete sentences.  Stop.  Signing off now.  Stop.

Date: 2010-01-07 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sconstant.livejournal.com
OMG Littles S. and N. liked your kids, as did bigs S. and A. They were both so sweet to N. and each fun for L.S. P.D.Q. QRSTUV.

So, what was Evan's adjustment to Kindergarten like, then?

Date: 2010-01-07 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shysterb.livejournal.com
Er, challenging. It continues to be intermittently challenging, presenting concerns for challenging adjustment to full-day first grade next year. He loves school, loves his teacher, loves his classmates. Not so much on the learning to modulate his voice; not-having-everything-come-perfectly-easily-oh-my-god-the-world-is-going-to-end-I-can-never-do-it-right-I-need-to-wail-because-I-am-an-utter-failure-I-will-never-learn-to-read-I-just-can't-do-it!

The one-year advantage Abigail had when she started (being an October baby, and therefore one of the oldest in her class) vs. his lateness (August baby, and therefore one of the youngest) is a marked difference. That, and, you know, BOYNESS! just to play into gender stereotypes.

Date: 2010-01-07 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ratphooey.livejournal.com
Nice recap!

Also, Certified Pre-Owned Dog is hysterical.

Date: 2010-01-07 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shysterb.livejournal.com
Unfortunately, she did not come with a certified warranty, but we try not to hold her stinky ears against her.

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