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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grandpa Doug discovered that by making the sound of Spanish rolling "r" Lincoln gets a big smile on his face and will sometimes belly laugh.

Then we found out that making that sound when Bridget is around makes her howl as we've never heard her before. It's a funny thing to hear Lincoln laugh and Bridget howl at the same time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life Goes On...

It's always tough when elections don't turn out like you'd like for them to.  But life goes on, and judging by the expression on Lincoln's face, he seems to be okay with it at this time.

He's been spending much of his play-time sitting up.  He plays a little bit while on his back, but he really prefers to be up and looking around/shoving toys in his mouth.  He's been quite the all-star little baby lately and a pleasure to be around.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eleciton 2008 & Politics

We've talked about keeping this blog from becoming bogged down in politics, and I intend to keep it that way. However, if you're interested in my thoughts on the Presidential election of 2008, visit and you'll find my column, President Obama: A New Era in American Politics.  I'll only mention here that Jenn and I emerged from the Carter years, and it appears that Lincoln will emerge from the Obama years.  Great.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

6 Months Old

Lincoln turned 6 months old today.  He's up to 14.5# and being a good little boy.  Jenn and Lincoln went to the pediatrician yesterday, and other than their scale being inaccurate, it was a good visit.  We've been given the green-light to give him lots of different foods, and he's a total chow-hound.  It's funny to watch.

We didn't take Lincoln trick-or-treating (I've never been a fan of taking a child who's too young to eat the bounty) but Grandma Paulette did get a Halloween outfit.

Check out the rear end:

Jenn's been sick lately with an ugly cough.  She's improving and enjoying a relaxing weekend.  We're interested to see how Lincoln adjusts with the time change.  Our thought is that it won't be a big deal.  He used to sleep until 6:45-7:00 am and is now sleeping until 7:45 if we let him.  So the change may just take him back to where he was.  We'll see...

After our flurry of travel in October, we're laying low in November until our big trip to Uncle Jeremy & Auntie Em's in Nashville.  Fun stuff!