Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas #5

Lincoln and his Grandma Laura

We wrapped up this Christmas season by spending a day in Columbus with the Parkinson family. After a week of driving around, Lincoln "going to bed" in his car seat, meeting all sorts of new people, Lincoln was an absolute all-star on Sunday. Jenn and I had a great time with Larry & Marti, Kas, Cindy, Trevor, and Lincoln's Grandma and Grandfather and Auntie Haley. The Wii was out in full force, and Jenn and I are sold on the Wii fit (especially after watching Trevor and Dave play it so well!). I'm not sure how much I ate because there were cookies and fudge sitting out during our entire stay.
The Parkinson Family

(What follows will probably be boring to non-family, but it's important I include it for record-keeping purposes.) Lincoln has initiated a change in his feeding schedule. Nursing has been a challenge over the past several weeks, and it has become clear that he is not interested in nursing 5 times per day. So we've decreased his frequency of eating to 4 times daily, and we're giving him big volumes of solids (bananas, chick peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, blackberries, mangos, rice, barley, oatmeal, pears, apple sauce, bok choi, papaya...). He seems much more content with this schedule. It also means that he has to stay awake longer, which has actually not been much of a problem. For weeks (months?) now we've heard from folks who say, "Has he dropped a nap?" or "Is he staying up longer?" And for a long time the answer has been, "Lincoln isn't like most babies." But now, at just shy of 8 months old, he's starting to stay awake longer in between naps and feedings.
Grandfather Dave and the Parkinsons
love playing with Lincoln.

Lincoln has reached a couple of milestones recently. He's now in the stage where he does not want strangers picking him up and/or taking him away from his mom, his dad, or his grandparents. We found this out over the Christmas time. A second milestone is that he's becoming quite a "grandma's boy." He actually cried when I took him from his Grandma Paulette. Can you believe it? Lincoln loves the women in his life!

Another milestone that may be coming: Jenn reports that he nearly voluntarily rolled from his back to his stomach in his crib last night. Have no fear, though, he didn't complete the job and he returned safely to his back. We're preparing ourselves for hearing a shriek in the middle of the night announcing a rolled baby boy. Any day now...

The end of 2008 is approaching. I looks as though our New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is going to be pretty low-key. Exchange some clothes, straighten up some things around the house, watch some football, have some pork and sauerkraut at Mom and Dad's place, rest... sounds like a good plan to me.

Finally, we're going to miss Great Grandma Gates. She's headed to Charlotte with the MacDermotts today, but she'll be back around April sometime. Great Grandma was great for Lincoln on Mondays and Tuesdays. It made him laugh when she would push his toys back to him with her cane. It was fun to watch! Take care (Great) Grandma!
A Happy Grandma.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas #4

Lincoln & his Great Aunt Kristine

Gates Christmas is wrapping up, and we've had a good time. The MacDermotts have enjoyed Lincoln, and it was all Aunt Kristine could do to wait until Lincoln was ready to be held both folks other than his mom, dad, Grandma Paulette and Grandpa Doug. But when the time came, Lincoln enjoyed playing with his Great Aunt Kristine's bling.
Gates Family 2008

The Gift Exchange was a lot of fun, as some of the family gets really creative. Some of the family also appears to be ignoring the agreed-upon limit. Either that, or they're really good bargain shoppers. In any event, everyone seemed to have a good time.
Lincoln loves it when his
Grandma Paulette reads to him.

Lincoln refused to nap... at all. But his awake times weren't a disaster, and he became a slap-happy chatterbox by the end of the day. We're about to make the trip to Columbus for the last of Five Christmases.

It must also be said that the food was phenomenal. The LORD has certainly blessed us with not only the food to begin with, but family that cooks and prepares it so well. Aunt MarySue, Grandma, Mom, Aunt Kristine, Jenn (Hertle), Emily & Jenn were awesome with the dinner, the dessert, and the late-evening appetizers.

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."
Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas #3

Lincoln enjoyed his toys right out of the box!

It's Christmas evening, and the Gates family has had a very pleasant Christmas Day. Immanuel is amazing... to think that God sent Jesus to live with us, to save us. Praise God!
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

After a "normal" morning, Jenn, Lincoln and I exchanged our presents to each other, then we loaded up the car and went to Brookfield for Mullen Family Christmas. This was the first time since our wedding that so much of the Mullen Family was in the same place at the same time. It was nice to see Lincoln's Grandma and Grandfather and his Auntie Haley again. Lincoln can't spend too much time with them. Having an afternoon with the extended family, both the Mullens and the Schumachers, was enjoyable, too. We hadn't seen Jenn's cousins Hillary and Jillian since our wedding, and now with Hillary beginning nursing school in northeast Ohio, we'll get to see her a smidge more over the next year or so. As always, Grandma and Grandpa Mullen were gracious hosts.
Mullen Family, 2008

Everyone from the Mullen family was generous beyond belief, and Lincoln was the primary beneficiary. His wardrobe expanded; he was given some really cute, fun toys; and the family found some very creative books, such as a book with googly eyes on sea-creatures (you'll have to see it, it's hard to describe it) and even a book about sushi that reads like Seuss. How fun!

Lincoln was really a trooper today. He nursed well, which has been an issue lately, he napped well in the earlier part of the day, but then he skipped his later naps. It was looking like the evening was spiraling out of control as he cried very forcefully for a time. But then he settled down with the help of Sunny, the gift Jenn and I gave to him this morning (pictures to follow). Then, while he was sitting on my lap during the gift exchange portion of the evening, he relaxed, reclined (really!), and proceeded to enjoy watching the activity and the conversation for nearly an hour. It was like the hand of God came down, touched Lincoln's head, and gave him the gift of rest. It turned out to be my favorite time of this Christmas day, because he's rarely so calm sitting on my lap for such a long time.
Lincoln experienced a late evening of calm, pleasant interaction.
The Dino-Blanket from Aunt Cheryl was a hit!

Jenn's headed back to Brookfield tomorrow while I'm at work, then it's the home stretch of the Christmas partying through the weekend.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas #2


Christmas #2 is over, and boy, was it a fun day! The Gates-Gates-Hopwood crew knows how to do Christmas! We had a non-busy day with time to hang out, exchange gifts, have a great meal, and watch the kids play with their presents. Guess who made out like a bandit? Nope. It was "Mia," Grace's doll. Grandma Paulette made the two of them matching pajamas, Mia got a sleeping bag, and Grace got some hot pink sheets that I'm sure they'll both use. Lincoln received some very neat things, as well. When Grandma Paulette goes clothes shopping for Lincoln, it clearly becomes habit-forming. She picked some wonderful clothes that we'll really enjoy watching him grow into.

The time, effort and generosity that is evident each Christmas season is truly amazing to us. Thoughtfulness is on display, and we're so blessed to come from families that love through giving.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Animal

This is a little out of order, but our first Christmas present arrived mid-week last week,
You can see the amount of
Betty hair in the tank.
and it was a Dyson Animal from Laura and Dave (the Parkinsons in AZ, for those outside the family). (Funny, they didn't want to check it on the plane!) Well, hallelujah! We're picking up Betty hair that we didn't even know was packed in the carpet because our old vacuum was leaving it behind. Now Lincoln will get fewer hairs stuck in his mouth!

Vacuuming is fun with this. It glides easy, it picks up everything and it is quieter than most vacuums. This is also really easy to clean. There's no bag, you just take the tank off of the vacuum, run it out to the trash can, and push the red button. The bottom folds open and the contents drop out. Easy as pie!

If you're in the area and you want to borrow our Dyson Animal, just give us a call!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:8-12

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas #1

Great Grandma Gates had Lincoln giggling and laughing
after a long, stimulating and exciting day.

The first in a string of Five Family Christmases has now concluded. Donati Christmas was as fun and creatively amazing as always. The Rossmann Family's "T'was The Night Before Christmas" took the cake, with "Things That Go Together," "Sprouting," "Growing," and "Water" coming in a collective close second. But who's judging? Donati Christmas is always a treat!

Lincoln was an all star during the day. He was Little Mister Social, he napped like a champ, and ate like a little baby bird. This was the first time he'd seen the Rossmann Family and Uncle Keith and Aunt Linda Donati. Everyone was so generous and thoughtful when it came to presents for Lincoln. Of course he has no idea how to open presents, but the fun was seeing him play with his new toys and picturing him wearing his new clothes when he grows into them.

Good news from the Hopwood corner of the Gates Family: Jeremy and a buddy are back in the IT business as of the first of the year. Five Iron Technologies is where you can meet all of your business IT support needs in the middle-Tennessee area. This is an answer to prayer and a gift from the LORD. Praise God!!!
"With ma in her kercheif and I in my cap..."
Uncle Keith and Aunt Linda play along
with the Rossmann Family gift presentation.

The second leg of the Five Family Christmases is on for tomorrow with the immediate Gates Family. The Hopwoods got into town late Thursday evening, and we're locked and loaded for a RELAXING, LOW KEY afternoon and evening tomorrow.

Christmas is approaching.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn
Luke 2:1-7

Lincoln enjoying one of his Christmas presents.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008



Lincoln continues to improve. He's got a mild rash on his belly, which seems to indicate that he was dealing with roseola. This is his second day without a fever, and he's been a good little boy during his feeding time, playing time, and napping time. Lincoln thanks all of those who have mentioned him in our Christmas cards, and he can't wait to see his extended family in just a few short days!

Have you done your Christmas shopping online this year? Have you been happy with your shipping times? I have not. We ordered with what we thought was plenty of time to deliver, and we're still waiting on a number of items. In fact, we'd be waiting on most of it if I hadn't called Amazon and re-arranged some things. It turns out that there were two items that were holding up the entire shipment. We would have had to celebrate Christmas in February if we hadn't called!

Ally Lengacher's baby shower, thrown by Jenn, last Sunday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No Fever!

As of this morning, Lincoln's fever is gone. He's at his Grandma Paulette's today so this ought to be a banner day!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Lincoln's temperature this morning was 99.2. We're glad to see improvement because yesterday was a tough day for him. It seemed as though he was getting tired of being sick and was especially cranky, especially for his bottle at night. Jenn and I were joking that as difficult as he was at the end of the day yesterday, his fever would break overnight, he'd go to his Grandma's for the day, and she'd call us and say, "Lincoln had a great day, and he even learned to walk." Ha! Ha!!... Ha! Ha! .... Ha.... Hmmmm. That would be typical, as he's always a perfect little angel for Grandma Paulette and Great Grandma Gates!

One of Lincoln's milestones that we noticed yesterday is he's recognizing his name. Perhaps he's known this for some time, but yesterday was the first day I noticed him looking at me after calling his name. I guess he's done this for a while, but in the past it has always seemed so random.

The cold weather is coming to Northeast Ohio today. We've been in the 50's lately, but that'll change this evening. Coming soon: Lincoln's cold weather hat. You'll want to see this!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More fever; Good little boy


We're now into Day Three of Lincoln's fever. We thought it was on its way out yesterday when it was less than 100 with no meds, but this morning he was 103.5, so we know we've got a bit more time with it. He's definitely short on patience and stamina, but he's been a good little boy. This morning he took a 2 hour nap and then played on the floor for about 40 minutes. Good stuff! He'll make it through this, and hopefully the sick days will be left behind for Christmas.

Jenn's hosting shower for friends from church tomorrow who are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia. They're going to get him shortly, and they have to stay in the country for a week or so, which means they'll be spending Christmas in Ethiopia!
It's almost like a little analogy of Jesus. For a long time the world waited for the baby and went through ordeal after ordeal, and on Christmas He came. And for the friends of ours, they've been waiting for a long time, and certainly been through lots of ordeals (endless paperwork, delayed court appointments, phone calls, etc.), and on Christmas, he'll be theirs. Let this message be not lost on us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Baaa-aaaack!

I don't know what happened, but the old format is back. Sure it's not a big change, but losing the wish list and the tag list was a bummer. But no more.

Also, Lincoln's been having a pretty good day. He's still impatient unless he's being held, and he's still a little hot-box, but he's eating well and sleeping well, which is about all we can ask for.


Lincoln's been a bit off over the past couple of days. Jenn took his temperature yesterday morning and it was 103.2. Yikes! So we went to the doctor yesterday afternoon, and other than the fever, he checked out pretty well: still very active, distractable, hungry, napping well, making an appropriate number of wet and dirty diapers, etc. So it seems as though he's got a virus. He's not showing any signs of meningitis, which was certainly on our radar with the fever. He's responding well to Tylenol and Motrin, and so far he's still sleeping through the night. Jenn's been taking great care of him, feeding him (tons!), and giving him the close attention that he needs. Through this morning, his fever has been hovering between 101 and 103. As long as he's getting attention and has a toy in his hands, though, he's seems to be happy and somewhat comfortable.

Coincidentally, this was to be Lincoln's first week of napping during the day without his swaddler, his final sleeping crutch. This has actually worked out well because he's falling asleep quickly and hopefully learning that he can sleep without the swaddler. Not that we wished for illness to aid in this process, but you know what I mean.

So until this fever breaks, the plan is to be restful over the next couple of days. It's during this process that we're especially thankful for the good health that Lincoln has enjoyed for his first 7 months. With the exception of a runny nose here and a brief cough there, he's been the picture of health. The friends of our friends have a young son who is critically ill, and their situation hits so much closer to home now that we have Lincoln. So we'd appreciate it if you'd keep him in your prayers. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Approaching Mid-December

It's near mid-December, Christmas is almost here, and 2008 is almost gone.  Holy cow!  Our Christmas tree is up and it was fun looking back at our ornaments from when we were even Lincoln's age.  We're thankful for parents and grandparents who preserved those memories for us.

Not a whole lot of new stuff to report since Thanksgiving. Jenn and I are just about through shopping for Christmas and we're excited for our many family Christmas get-togethers.  I'm drawing a bit of a block right now trying to remember the exact order of events, but we've got the Donati Christmas the weekend before , followed by Mullen Christmas on Christmas Day, then there's the Gates Christmas on Saturday (27), closely followed up by Parkinson Christmas on Saturday evening/Sunday.  Sounds like an action-packed week!  Please keep Emily, Jeremy, Grace and Cole in your prayers as they're doing a bunch of traveling (driving & flying), as well.

Lincoln's First Christmas

It's not like you come to our blog to hear lots about me and/or Jenn, so I'll mention a few more things about Lincoln.  He's absolutely content to sit up on his bottom and play with his toys for a long time.  We've seen inklings that he's thinking about moving himself, but he's just not mentally there yet.  It's nice for us because we can set him in one place... for now.  We're several weeks into the "babbling phase."  He's become quite the little performer (not quite to the level of singing Victory in Jesus with his hum, but we've still got some time!).  He keeps Great Grandma Gates in stitches.

Lincoln and Mangos

His chow-hound nature has been well documented, and we're adding papaya, blackberries, and a few other things that I can't remember now and that I didn't taste until I was in my 20's.  Word from Grandma and Grandpa's is that he's NOT a broccoli fan.  But like avocado, he may warm up to it.

Lincoln's "Concentration Face"

The weather is ugly out right now.  Windy, cold & rainy.  Blah.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend, Volume II


We're back from our Thanksgiving visit with the Hopwoods. What a fun time with family and it couldn't have come at a better time. It was good for the Gateses to get away for a few days, and the Hopwoods seemed very glad to have us, and they were fantastic hosts. Emily and Jeremy have a lot going on in their life right now. Life isn't always fair, and that's hitting close to home right now. 
Thankfully, though, the most important things have not been taken: integrity, love, faithfulness and trust, both within their marriage and in their professional lives. Please keep them in your prayers over the coming weeks and months, most importantly that the LORD would continue to bless their marriage and also provide close, meaningful friendships outside of their professional circles. We're a tight-knit bunch, and we all can attest to the LORD's faithfulness. That's what keeps the greater Gates family grounded.

You've read about Thanksgiving dinner, which was wonderful. Gates-Gates-Hopwood family photos were taken at Percy-Warner Park on Friday morning. The kids were all-stars and it's clear that we're quite the photogenic family, if I do say so myself! We reviewed the photos on Saturday morning and we are very pleased with the results. We were most thankful that with each of the groupings there were a couple of photos that would have been great... there were no useless poses as everyone was looking at the camera with big smiles, even Lincoln!
Things are busy for the Photographer with Christmas approaching, so you probably won't be able to see the finished products during our family Christmas gatherings. But sometime in mid-January there will be some beautiful portraits of the family up and around Mom & Dad's house.

On Friday we shared dinner with the Coles and had a very pleasant evening. Jenn showed Emily a new dish: Italian Pasta & Meatballs. Yum.
Ask Jenn for the recipe sometime because it's a really good dinner, and it's one of those dishes that you'll want to make lots of because it's almost better eaten as left-overs. So we had lots of fun with Aunt Gwen and Bill. We learned about Bill's new past-time: rocking (with real rocks) in addition to still playing with his band (the kind of "rocking" you thought of when I said "rocking" the first time). They're also jazzed because the Titans are having a great season!

During our stay, Jenn and I took Emily and Jeremy's room.
We called it "staying in the Hopwood B&B." They have a really... really nice house, and their master bedroom is luxury. They have a large master bathroom, with a walk-in closet attached to that. This walk-in closet is incredibly insulated from the rest of the house, and that's where we put Lincoln's Pack-N-Play. He napped, and he napped, and he napped. This made for a happy baby, and lots of family time NOT trying to turn an angry baby happy.

On Saturday Grandma Paulette & Grandpa Doug stayed with the kids while Jeremy and Emily took us to Leipers Fork to visit an antique bookstore and a few other antique shops. Grandpa Doug will tell you he got the better end of the deal. However, we had fun time seeing historic Franklin with all of the monster homes and incredible growth that's been going on there recently. In Franklin we made Jenn and Jeremy's obligatory stop at Starbucks and also visited the antique jewelry store where Jeremy purchased Emily's engagement ring. Emily and Jenn admired a 4 carat diamond ring ($70,000) and a few other very large rocks. Then we got a bit of a history lesson from Mr. Walton himself about pocket watches. It was well worth our stop.
Pictured here is about half of Leipers Fork. The other half is across the street.

In Leipers Fork we looked at old books for a while. A first edition volume of The Marquis De Lafayette's work (published in the late 1700's) was very impressive, as was a first edition of a three-volume set about Andrew Jackson (mid 1800's). There were some first editions of Charles Dickens novels, and quite a number of American history accounts that were published in the late 1700's through the late 1800's. There were even some very old medical text books, one entitled Intestinal Ills and another entitled The Colon, Rectum and Anus. You know, just some good, light reading! There were a couple of other antique stores that were actually very nice. Jenn and I have had a running joke since our honeymoon drive through New England, with its hundreds upon hundreds of antique shops, that another term for "antique shop" is "crap exchange."
Are there some good antique shops? Of course. Are there quality antique shops on every corner? No. Apparently, outside of Leipers Fork, we just don't know where to look.

We left Nashville on Saturday evening so that Lincoln would take his bedtime in the Yukon XL. He was an absolute champ, and we made the drive home in less than 8 hours (it took 11+ to get there on Wednesday!). So today is catch-up-on-sleep day. Also coming soon is decorate-the-house-for-Lincoln's-first-Christmas. It ought to be fun.

We're in the Advent season, and as I've gotten older, I've increasingly been getting into Advent. I think it makes Christmas even more meaningful, especially with the insane marketing and commercialism that has seized and strangled Christmas in recent years. We've also heard some songs on the radio that despite what the lyrics may say, they simply cannot be classified as Christmas songs with music so pitifully written. But that's all I'll say about the Christmas season right now. I'm sure I'll have lots to say about it in future posts! For now, I'll just give an encouragement to us all to not lose sight of the meaning of Christmas this December!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

Lincoln's first Thanksgiving was also Emily's first year of hosting Thanksgiving dinner! Emily, Mom and Jenn did a fantastic job of preparing the wonderful meal, and it was a special time to spend this time of Thanks with those closest to us.
The first challenge of the visit was simply getting out of Ohio. We averaged 35mph between Akron and Columbus, and didn't improve much until we had left Columbus pretty far behind. What ought to have been an 8 or 9 hour drive became about 11 hours. Lincoln didn't do too well with all the stop and go. Once we reached a constant speed of greater than 45mph, somewhere around Washington Courthouse, he slept well.
We started getting ready for the big dinner around 8:30 in the morning. Cole and I snapped green beans, Jenn took care of most of the sides, Dad kept up with the dishes, Emily and Mom made sure the bird was moving in the right direction, and while all of this was going on, Lincoln napped as he's never napped before, and Mom and Dad made the place cards with Grace and Cole, a pleasant little Thanksgiving craft. This consisted of little pieces and hot glue guns. You can imagine how "into" this project Dad was! The place cards held up just long enough for people to find their places. Once the kids started playing with them, though, they bit the dust.

Jeremy has been sick lately, but he was our runner, making trips to the grocery store, finding things in the attic that we needed, and making a pit stop at Starbucks for needed caffine. After craft time, Grandpa Doug and Cole kept Lincoln occupied while the cooking progressed. Cole is a GREAT preoccupier and Lincoln loved watching his cousin bounce around! Just give Lincoln a blanket, a spatula, a rattle, and an energetic Cole, and Lincoln can have quality awake time.

The extended Hopwood family joined us in the afternoon and we had a neat time together, with Jeremy's family and Emily's family sharing a good Thanksgiving day and making special Thanksgiving memories.
Riley has pretty much been a bump on a log during our stay. I'd share a picture of Lucy, but she hasn't held still long enough for the shutter speed!

We're going to visit a photographer shortly, and this will be Lincoln's next challenge. He's already shown us that yesterday's napping schedule will not be a pattern, but since we're having some of our photos taken outside, things ought to go well. As you can see by reviewing our blog, Lincoln enjoys his time outdoors.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We're a Thankful Family

Thanksgiving is here, and the older I get the more I recognize the importance of gratitude.  I fully recognize that I cannot do life by myself and that if it weren't for the LORD and the people with whom He's surrounded me, I'd be in sad shape.  Along this line, I've really been trying to take seriously the idea of itemizing the things for which I'm thankful so that I can see all the big and the small ways that I've been blessed.  I don't want to take anything for granted.  With this in mind, the following list, except for the first entry, comes from both of us.  It's been composed over a length of time and I've put it together by recalling our recent prayers together.  Here goes:
  • I'm grateful to the LORD for providing such a beautiful wife for me.  Not just physically (though I'm soooo thankful for having such a hot wife!), but for the beautiful person that she is, the beautiful mother that she is to Lincoln, the way that she's fit like a hand in a glove with my family, the beautiful and wonderful mind that she has, the multiple ways that she takes care of me... I'm not sure how I ended up with such an amazing wife, but wow... I'm thankful.
We're thankful for...
  • Family - From Mom and Dad's helping hands and wisdom to Mom & Dave's generosity, we're blessed to have a family that is a positive influence in our lives.
  • Lincoln - He's growing into a good little boy and he's a complete joy for us.  I can't imagine life without him in our lives.
  • Jobs - Many folks don't have jobs that they enjoy, and still others don't have jobs. We are thankful that we have jobs that we enjoy and that are stable.
  • Provisions - From food to transportation to a warm home, we do not take for granted all of the small ways that the LORD has provided for our needs.
  • Friends - We've got a couple of circles of friends and we appreciate the companionship and insight that they provide.
  • Bridget & Betty - There's never a dull moment with these two.
  • Extras - There are so many benefits that we've been given that we simply don't need, but have been given to us to enjoy: the John Deere tractor, our fun camera, fancy cooking tools, the workbench, satellite television, the MacBook, our expanding library, nice furniture, our wardrobes, etc. Why have we been blessed with all of these things? There are a variety of answers, but regardless of the reasons, Jenn and I do not take these blessings lightly, and are thankful to the LORD for taking care of us.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, but we wanted to communicate our thanks to those who ought to hear it.

Wednesday is our big travel day. Sometime between Noon and 1:00pm we'll be heading south to Uncle Jeremy & Auntie Em's house in Franklin, TN, for Thanksgiving dinner and get-togethers. It'll be a great time with the Gates-Gates-Hopwood families. We're trying to coordinate our travel with Lincoln's sleeping schedule (hence the return trip overnight on Sat/Sun), so we'll see how that goes.

We pray you'll enjoy your Thanksgiving family time, wherever you spend it.  And thank you for spending some time on our blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Learning To Use His Voice

Lincoln has been experimenting in the vocal department lately, and he's making all kinds of funny sounds.  Just a couple of days ago at Grandpa Doug's house and he was making some unusual grunting/yelling sound with his fists clenched and his arms fully extended.  Grandma Paulette, Great Grandma Gates, Grandpa Doug and I were laughing so hard we were crying and he just kept making the sound.  It was as if he was shouting, "NOOOOO!!!!" in some kind of baby-speak.  Then Grandpa Doug said, "Hey Lincoln, President Bob is going to raise your taxes, what do you think of that."  And right on cue, Lincoln let out his grunt/yell.  What a hoot.  Then Grandpa Doug said, "And what do you think about Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank?"  You guessed it... right on cue.  And it went on for a couple more minutes, with lots of political/baby humor.  We were all doubled over laughing, and Lincoln seemed to be having a blast, too.

Today when I was home for lunch he was making sounds, seeming to be experimenting more with moving his mouth than with verbalizing, but it sure was funny to listen to.  Here's a sample:

Lincoln is changing so fast right now. I know that this isn't terribly profound as all babies change, especially at this age.  I say this more as an observation.  His face, his expressions, his vocalization, his tastes, his reactions... he's just growing so fast.  He's nearly entirely through with his 3M clothes.  Baby GAP runs a bit big, but anything less than 6 months has been packed away.

In the food category, he's been eating peas, carrots, sweet potatoes (Four Stars, according to Lincoln), applesauce, pears, mangoes, chicken, green beans, avocado (no stars, according to Lincoln), oatmeal and rice cereal.  I'm probably forgetting a thing or two, but you can see that he's learning to like a variety of foods.  Jenn really enjoys making most of his food for him.  Great Grandma Gates calls him both "an eating machine" and "a baby bird."  He's definitely figured out the eating thing, which is an improvement!

I've added some toy and clothes ideas to the wish-list.  This can serve as Lincoln's Christmas List.  Keep in mind that these are just suggestions.  Jenn and I have no expectations, and are becoming less interested in receiving stuff, but we know that we can't expect family to not want to give Lincoln goodies, so for those who want ideas, we've provided some.

Ryan's dream for Sat., Nov. 22

The Gates Family is visiting the Wingader Family this evening for dinner.  This will be Lincoln's second straight week of going to bed in a "stranger's" house.  Patrick and Joy are good friends from church who parent their kids very well.  It ought to be a fun evening.

You didn't think I was going to leave this post without mentioning THE GAME, did you?  I think a 22 point spread is a bit much.  Michigan stinks... bad... real bad.  But I've never seen Tressel cover such a spread in a big game, so until Beanie & Pryor put a 23+ point whoopin' on Wolverine tail, I'll be biting my nails into the 4th quarter.  Go BUCKEYES!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another Daddy Day

It's another Saturday of Ryan home and Jenn at work, and that means it's another Daddy Day. These are only getting more fun because Lincoln is becoming more interactive. Right now he's down for his morning nap. He's not napping, I just said he's down. After showing all the signs of a little boy that needed a nap, I read him his story, he yawned all the way through it, then I laid him down without a fuss (he was quiet, too), and I left the room. He then proceeded to talk to himself for another 15 minutes.

He really needs his sleep today because he had a rough start to his night last night.  Jenn and I went over to have dinner with our good friends, the Kiels.  (You may recall the story of, "Hey, lady, put this in my car."  If not, ask Jenn to tell you.)  And because we didn't want to stay at their place for just 45 minutes, we decided to put Lincoln to bed there.  He didn't do too bad, but it was different, and he didn't really get to a good sleep until around 8:30, at least 30 minutes later than he's usually asleep, and then he woke up and didn't know where he was, which took a few minutes out of his sleeping schedule to calm down.  Given the new circumstances, though, he did a great job, especially for having such little naptime on Friday.  When we pulled into the garage at home, he didn't wake up.  Nor did he wake up when I got him out of the car.  This is unusual because he's usually awake at these stages when he comes home from Grandpa Doug's house.  He was a tired little boy.


The Gates family is gearing up for our trip to Nashville for Thanksgiving.  It'll be our first visit to Auntie Em's and Uncle Jeremy's place.  Jeremy's family will be there, too, so we'll have a fun new group to have Thanksgiving dinner with.  Thanksgiving hasn't been a real consistent holiday for Jenn and I since we've been married.  We've had dinner at Aunt MarySue's, the Parkinson's in Blacklick & in Powell, and even a fun deep-fried turkey at the Hammersmith's in 2005.  At least they haven't all run together in our minds!  So Emily, Mom and Jenn will be heading up the dinner this year, and we're looking forward to it.  Lincoln ought to handle the trip well as we're overlapping our drive times with his sleeping time.

Speaking of Emily, she passed her last big test in her Masters program.  Congratulations!!!  She and Jeremy have both been accumulating the certificates lately, as Jeremy recently received his mortgage banker's license (I think that's the name of it).  So good for the Hopwoods!

Back to Jenn, she's been quite frustrated with Lincoln's nursing lately.  Sometimes he's good at it, and sometimes it's as if he's possessed, screaming and fussing irrationally.  She's heard enough of the "that's how babies are" lately and some days it really gets to her.  We know Lincoln's capable of nursing appropriately, but there seems to be no discernible pattern or clues as to why he's screaming when he's screaming.   Be in prayer for Jenn and for Lincoln in this department.

Christmas is approaching.  Friends of ours, who shall remain nameless, actually put their Christmas Tree up last night after we left their house.  This would be an excellent time to talk about how it seems like the Christmas season, at least the consumer portion of the Christmas season, begins earlier and earlier every year.  But I'd rather talk about something that Jenn and I have been talking about with each other lately.  Gifts.  To begin with, we've compiled quite a long "wish list" in the right-hand portion of this blog.  This is for a couple of reasons:
  1. For family members to look at for ideas before birthdays.  
  2. To give a little insight into what Jenn and I are into.  For instance, in the past I've listed a number of Canon lenses to indicate that I'm into pictures and (extremely amateur) photography.  Another "for instance," you can see that at some point in our future we'd like to be driving a GMC Acadia and for Lincoln to attend the Naval Academy.
American consumerism is a daily mental struggle for Jenn and for me and it's something we talk about a lot with each other.  Trimming unnecessary areas out of our lives is something that sounds great, but is difficult to do for a variety of reasons.  We like our stuff, we like to get stuff, stuff is fun, etc.  But there are better ways to spend our resources, both financially and spiritually.  Putting this into practice is difficult.  But difficulty is not an excuse.  This is something that was re-enforced in Death By Suburb, the book that we covered in our Community Group back in April/May and that we're going through in our ABF.  We don't live out the ideal, but it is something that we'd like to take meaningful steps towards on a consistent basis.  To that end, one category of Christmas presents we'd like to receive this year can be found at World Vision's website.  For instance, Shares of a Deep Well can be purchased; Seeds & Farming Tools for children in Africa are available; Two Chickens can provide eggs for a family; etc.  The purpose is to meet real needs in areas of the world that don't have luxuries and who are in need of Jesus.  By meeting physical needs, spiritual needs can follow.  It's not as though Jenn and I have life figured out or even have half of the answers, but we believe that taking even small steps away from consumerism and towards a lifestyle of giving away is something for which we should strive.  Don't mean to sound preachy, I only mean to give some insight into some thoughts and conversation that has been going on in the Gates home.

I just heard Lincoln stir, so it's time to sign off.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Law of Lincoln

Some of you have been able to witness this first-hand, but for those who have not, here's a picture of how Lincoln likes to sleep.

It never fails, if we take the blanket off of his face, he rarely wakes up. But if we check on him after an hour or two, the blanket is back over his face. It is observable and repeatable, we've followed the scientific method, and it has just about become the Law of Lincoln.