Saturday, January 31, 2009

Catch-Up for Mommy, Play-Time for Lincoln

Lincoln has been an all-star this week. He's just now starting to show interest in pulling himself up (only a little bit, though) and he "scooted" a bit while he was on his belly, and for those who know Lincoln, you know that this is a big step. On Thursday, in fact, he went down for a nap at 5:55 and we had to wake him up at 7:30 because he'd worn himself out pulling and scooting. Napping this long in the early evening is unheard of for our little man!

After I got home from work today I started a 1/2 Daddy Day. Jenn's best friend from early school through high school found her on facebook and they set up a time to get together. So they're having catch up time (11+ years!) while Lincoln and I play and laugh. He's getting funny with his sounds, and his laugh is really funny.

This evening I'm making my first visit to Prelude, a "coffee house/lounge" at Church in the Falls that was the brainchild of Cory Sheldon, an old friend of mine. If you were at our wedding, you may remember him as one of my groomsmen. Cory's a great guy and, I don't say this lightly, is the funniest person that I know. Not the type of funny you can teach, it's just something that he's got. So anyway, he had an idea for a coffee house with live music with a Christian bent, and Prelude was the product. I've been meaning to check it out for some time, now, and tonight is the night. I'm going with a friend, and Jenn refers to it as my "man date."

Cute baby #1.

Lincoln Play

Lincoln Smile #2
Lincoln always smiles for Sunny, the puppet that he received for Christmas.

Lincoln Smile #3
This is Lincoln's non-stressed poop face. If he were stressed, his eyes would be watering and his face would be red.

Lincoln Smile #1

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lincoln in Boxes

While I was visiting over lunch, mom (Grandma Paulette) showed me a couple of pictures she'd taken recently. The toy box pictures were from today.
Lincoln Laundry

Lincoln Toy Box
Lincoln was not placed here. He still won't crawl, but with enough reaching, he eventually scoots his way around.

Lincoln Lounge
And once he gets there, he relaxes.

Home Improvement & Photographing Middle-Schoolers

It's been a while since we've posted, and unfortunately I haven't taken pictures of Lincoln within the last week. Jenn and I have been very busy around the house. We hired a friend of ours to tile our kitchen, downstairs bath and laundry room, and boy does it look nice! A major improvement from the ugly linoleum with the holes in it. Jenn started pulling wall paper in our bedroom, but that was put on hold while we re-painted our TV room. If you've been to the Hopwoods, it's the same color as in Emily's kitchen. Now we're in the process of hanging window treatments (it's been almost three years, can you believe it!). And after the windows are dressed, we'll hang my
Christmas presents (Washington Crossing the Delaware, TR & the U.S. Constitution). So you'll be in for a surprise the next time you visit the Gates Home.

Lincoln has been making great strides lately. He's waving "hello" and "good bye," he's napping less (bummer) but remaining happy and playful longer while he's awake (yea!), and it seems he's on the cusp of saying his first "real sounds." Jenn's been working on, "da da," with him, and so far he's been able to produce, "da." So it's a start.

The EDGE games finished this past Friday, and my contribution was to be the "official photographer" because their regular couldn't make it.
It was a blast, and it allowed me to practice with a few different techniques. First of all, the room was pretty dark, even when the lights were on, and this presented a challenge. Also, because of the games (more on this below) and the talent show, there was a lot of movement to the night, and I had to stay on my toes. Thank goodness my Canon has a quick auto focus. The 50mm and the 28mm (both presents from the Parkinsons!) were perfect because of their low aperture settings. The evening concluded with the talent show, and holy cow(!), those middle-schoolers were good... lots of singing, dancing, and some comedy. I was impressed. Back to the game, it was called Chocolate Milk Machine. A relay, each kid had to run to a table, have Hershey's Chocolate Syrup squeezed into their mouths, then take a drink of milk, jump up and down three times, and then spit the "chocolate milk" into a pitcher. The first team to fill the pitcher won. It was gross.

As for my previous post, YouTube is not processing the video, so unfortunately, the pictures will have to do for now. I'll keep working on it. Lincoln is back with his Grandma Paulette for the day today so who knows what fun things he'll learn!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading a Magazine

There have been some interesting benchmarks that we've noticed lately with regard to Lincoln's development, and one of them is what he's willing to do with paper. At Christmas time, a mere 3 weeks ago, he didn't know much about what to do with paper. He wasn't interested in tearing, wrinkling, pulling, etc. That has changed. Today his Grandma Paulette gave him a catalog while he was sitting in his usual place in the Guest Room/Office and he had a bunch of fun for about 45 minutes.

(Video will be added when YouTube is cooperative.)

Lincoln Wrinkling Paper

Lincoln Shaking Paper

Lincoln Looks at Grandma

First Tooth

At long last, and just shy of 9 months of age, Lincoln's first tooth has erupted. And in classic Lincoln fashion, where little that he does fits with the norm, it appears to be the second upper right incisor, and not a lower central incisor. He was a bit more fussy yesterday than normal, but he's not nearly as "drooly" as we'd expect. When I can get a look in his mouth, which isn't very often or for very long, it looks like there one just medial that's about to come in, too. Jenn and I have said for a while that we'd like for him to not get his teeth for a while, and then for them to come in quickly... we'll see!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting Bigger...

Jenn weighed Lincoln at home today and he's up to 18 lbs. There are babies we know of at church that are younger than he is who are in the 20# range, but for Lincoln, 18# is phenomenal. At his doctor's visit when he had Roseola he was 15.5#, and that was on Dec. 11. In five weeks he's gained 2.5#. He went for several months at a time early on in life without gaining 2.5#. So he's becoming a bit of a porker. If you've seen him eat, this wouldn't surprise you. His eating volume also explains his pooping volume. We're running through the diapers at the Gates home!

The work continues on our house. A friend from Vineyard Cleveland is coming on Tuesday to tile our kitchen, downstairs restroom and laundry room. That'll take a couple of days to finish, so we've been trying to get stuff ready so we won't have to be in those rooms. We're also pulling the border wallpaper in our bedroom. I can't find our "before" pictures right now, but for those who have seen our room, you may recall that the crazies who lived here before ran border wallpaper around the windows. Then we've got to prime the walls in our TV room so we can paint it a new color (Jenn had grown tired of the darkness of the cranberry color). So if we end up not moving, we'll have made great advancements in a short period of time!

Speaking of the TV room, my Christmas present from Jenn was recently completed at JoAnn's. She had my U.S. Constitution and Theodore Roosevelt posters framed, and they look fantastic. The matting on the Roosevelt will need some touch-up, so I have to take it back, but the frames and the mats are very impressive, and they'll be going in the TV room with the Washington Crossing The Delaware when the walls are finished.
Bridget is the best dog for a little boy,
and Lincoln loves his Boxer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Faces of Lincoln

Lincoln can make a bunch of faces, and it's funny to watch him go through the motions. His mom and dad couldn't be prouder of him!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Middle School Mayhem

Like I said in my New Year post, I'm not big on resolutions anymore because when I break it/them, I just beat myself up over it. So I didn't want to make any resolutions. One thing I've tried to be more intentional about is looking for areas to volunteer at church. My first opportunity came with The Edge Games, the big middle school ministry activity that HCC puts on every January. Five hundred-plus middle schoolers come every Friday evening for three weeks for big-group Olympic-style games followed by a good message. It's been a long time since I was in middle school, so I've forgotten much about that stage of life. Just a few minutes there reminded me that that's a tough stage. The girls and the boys are on different wave-lengths, most of them are pretty awkward, it's hard to get them to focus and pay attention... it takes some special people to lead a middle school ministry. I know I couldn't do it, but it was really neat taking small role in the evening. It was also an interesting glimpse into the future of our lives with Lincoln... it won't be long before he's a middle schooler!

Another neat part of last Friday evening was that one of the other volunteers is a guy that I met in a church meeting several months ago. He's also a veterinarian. What a small world! (wink, wink) It was great to have that familiarity. Then he asked me a funny question: "So you have a middle schooler?" I said, "No, my boy is 8 and a half months old." He looked at me funny and said, "So, why are you here?" No doubt wondering who would spend extra time with a 12 year old if they didn't have to. But it was a very fun time. I came home with fun stories for Jenn about the crazy games and watching the kids fall over after the dizzy bat race. I can only imagine what fun stuff will come this evening.

A big chunk of the kids that come are not part of the church so it's a good outreach to them and their families. Todd and Jonathan, the guys who head up The Edge Games, do a fantastic job of finding fun games that are great for bunches of kids. And with such a big operation, they need adults to supervise and set up the games. That's where I helped out. You may notice the guy in the Ohio State t-shirt... that's me.

Edge Games V 09 Week 1 from edgehcc on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

Today is Dad's birthday, and we needed a picture of the Birthday Boy with Lincoln!
Lincoln & the Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to a wonderful Dad and a fantastic Grandpa!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Lincoln and Daddy, mid Jan. '09

The arctic air is moving in and it's supposed to get into the single digits over the next couple of days. Brrrr. Good thing Lincoln's got lots of warm gear! Thanks so much to our families for giving him such cute and warm clothes for Christmas! A big thanks, also, to Larry & Marti for the remote control for my camera! Now I can get in front of the lens every now and then.

Monday, January 12, 2009


We've made brief mention of moving previously, so I figured I'd set the record straight as far as we know right now. Jenn and I are very happy with the house in which we are living. It has all the room that we need, the bedrooms are great, the kitchen is a good size, the fenced-in back yard is awesome, the work bench is great, our bathroom is awful but we can work on it over time, our deck is fun to use in the summer, and the location is very convenient for our ultimate trifecta of work/grocery shopping/church.

Our current house does need some continued work. We've pulled a ton of wallpaper and done a bunch of painting. The kitchen floor is really bad with several holes in the linoleum, our bathroom is a logistical nightmare: no door to the bathroom, the toilet is literally out in the open, the vanities are about 6-12 inches lower than a comfortable level, the shower conjures up images of Stony Lake (really small, for those not familiar with Stony Lake), and the front landscaping needs work.

So why consider moving? With interest rates as low as they are, and with this being a buyer's market, we've decided to see what might be available to us. We're looking for a house that can have an extra bedroom for our out-of-town guests and have a kitchen that Jenn has in mind. We're also looking for a neighborhood with nice sidewalks for us to use as a family. As it stands now, we have the luxury of both not having to move and of having a home that is an ideal starter home for Hudson. If there's a family that is looking to get into the Hudson school system without having to break the bank, they couldn't do much better than our house. So why not gather information?

Jenn's been looking into homes that are in the Woodridge/Northampton section of Cuyahoga Falls. This would keep us close to church, close to a grocery store, and very close to the clinic (<5 minute drive). You know how Jenn gets when it comes to research? She's all over it in the most thorough way, so if there's a house that looks like it could be for us, she'll find it. Joe Grecco, our realtor, and Aaron Barnhardt, our lender, have been fabulous to work with in terms of expanding our options and giving us good advice. Both are Christians who share a similar vision and philosophy when it comes to family, finances and faith.

One of the things that we struggle with is being content. It's so easy to always want more and to not be happy with what the LORD has given to us. Jenn and I have been blessed beyond what we could have imagined a few years ago. It's a daily struggle walking the line between a) being content with what we have (a very nice house) and b) being responsible for our family and being as the best stewards with what we have as we can be. So if we write to you with a new return address, you won't be taken by surprise. But if we have Lincoln's high school graduation party at our current home, you'll know that we gathered lots of information and determined that our current situation was best.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


snow, early morning

Inspired by some photos a buddy of mine took recently, I decided to play with a long shutter speed & show the snow we've had in the last 36 hours at the same time. This was shot from one of our sliding doors that leads to our deck and back yard at around 4:00am. I haven't heard an official measurement, but there's at least 10 inches on the picnic table.
bridget napping

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snowy Day in Hudson

Lincoln no smile

We're getting hammered with snow today. I've shoveled the driveway a couple of times, and my new neighbor came over with his snow-thrower to help me with the deep stuff. My snow-blower, a hand-me-down from Dad, has officially pooped out after more than 20 years. I can't complain at all. It was good while it lasted, which is a lot longer than anything else that is produced today. Jenn had to work today up in Mayfield, so she took the Envoy for the 4-Wheel-Drive, and she said she needed it!

Lincoln has been an all-star today. He ate more than I've ever seen him for his second meal: apples, dates, carrots, barley, oatmeal, mangoes, and bok choy. His belly was pretty big, as you may be able to see.
Lincoln one sock off

From the "Lincoln's Newest Thing" file: Lincoln has just begun picking up particular toys and placing them in their containers. For instance, with his Busy Ball Choo Choo, he takes the balls out of the Choo Choo, puts them in his mouth for a couple of seconds, and then places the balls back in the Choo Choo. Similarly, with his stack of rings, he's trying to put the rings onto the peg. This latest development has come in just the past couple of days.
Lincoln Smile

I'll try to get a picture of the dogs out in the snow. It's up to Bridget's chest, but they don't want to spend an extra nanosecond out there so it's hard to let them out and get the camera ready in an instant.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Little Bear

Our Little Bear

Lincoln's Grandma Paulette found a bear suit for him to wear when it's cold outside. He's a little hotbox when he comes out of it!

Jenn, Lincoln and I went to visit our friends, Eric & Allyson, with their new son Sammy Kiya (kee'-uh). Wow, what a cutie! Lincoln loves looking at babies, and Sammy held his attention for a while. I can't imagine inheriting Lincoln at 5 months of age and expecting to be able to know all about him, but that's what the Lengachers have done with Sammy, and they're doing a great job.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Fiesta

News Bulletin: Jenn and Ryan have not fallen off the face of the earth.

It's been a while since we've posted, and I know the out-of-towners are anxious for more pictures of Lincoln, but Jenn and I have been busy lately, and we haven't had much to post about. I could go on and on about the Buckeyes, but I can summarize by saying they had flashes of brilliance and flashes of idiocy. And I'm just not thrilled with the strategy behind the Buckeyes. They're a conservative offense with some spice mixed in. I'd rather see a spicy offense with a little blah mixed in.

The latest news: Jenn is interested in moving. She's been talking with Joe (our realtor, an extremely good man) and Aaron (the branch manager at our bank) about houses, selling prices, mortgages, etc. If we can sell our house for a good number, we could actually upgrade to a house with 4 bedrooms in the Cuyahoga Falls area and pay about 10-15% less of monthly mortgage payment on a 30-year-fixed than we're paying right now. So we're in the information-gathering phase.

As a blast from the past, I'm now able to share some pictures with you from Elise's Bridal Shower that Jenn threw last summer.
Mom made the nametags for the guests
and they were very well received.

Place Settings 2
Jenn went the extra mile with everything from
settings to food to drinks.

Improvisation for Rain
It rained several inches during the morning before the shower,
but Chris and I improvised and sheltered the deck.

Homemade Scones
You'll never get another coffee shop scone after
you've had one of Jenn's scones.

Food Table

French Toast
The French Toast was unbelievable.
It had a Praline Pecan crust that was like dessert for breakfast.

After brunch, there was a warm time of toasts, stories and gifts.
(Jenn was a total knockout!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

What follows is a bit of a change of pace from the usual posts. But this blog is about what's going on the in the Gates' home, and the thoughts below fit in our pre-defined category.

Jenn and I have been enjoying our Adult Bible Fellowship at church, and it's been a neat experience working with some of the other couples that head up the ABF. If you're not familiar with ABF's, you may be familiar with "Sunday School," each of which are a way for a church to break down what is a very large community into smaller, more functional communities. In a church of more than 1,500 people, it can be hard to connect on Sunday mornings during the worship hour. So ABFs are set up to provide smaller community for meaningful connections and friendships to be made, and for sound and Biblical teaching and discussion to take place. Jenn and I have been involved with the leadership of our ABF from the beginning in 2006 with only a brief interruption in mid-2008. When we first began attending HCC in early 2006, we never thought we'd see the day when we'd walk down a hallway and recognize most of the folks we'd pass, but that's how it is now, and it's partially due to the connections we've been able to make by breaking down a large church into smaller groups with the ABF structure.

One of the roles I've taken on within the ABF is to provide e-mail updates and recaps of the previous lesson/discussion as well as previewing the upcoming lesson/discussion to all of the ABF members on a weekly basis. I've been sending these as an html (website-like) attachment complete with links and pictures. It's a way to keep those who couldn't make it one particular week up to speed, and to offer a bit of an oasis during the middle of the week by providing relevant resources, commentary, and insight... sometimes from myself, but most of the time from respected sources across the evangelical Christian spectrum, such as Rubel Shelly, Rich Nathan, Chuck Colson, etc. Writing and compiling the content also prompts me to study and to set aside devotional time that I probably wouldn't be consistent with on my own.

Recently, as we were wrapping up our series from Death By Suburb, by David Goetz, our discussion on Sunday morning touched on the Classical Spiritual Disciplines. (Our long-time blog readers may recognize this book from an earlier post. Jenn and I went through this book with our former Community Group.)

Let me make it clear right up front that I am not nearly as proficient in the Classical Spiritual Disciplines as I'd like to be or ought to be. Discipline is a challenge (or else it wouldn't be discipline), but I've found this subject and their practice very intriguing ever since I took Brandon Fredenberg's class at Lipscomb on the subject back in the late '90's. During that class, we used Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline as our text.

inexpensive @ Amazon
It was both enlightening and deeply spiritually challenging. The thought of the clothes that I buy and the car I drive and the neighborhood in which I live reflecting and revealing the nature of my relationship with Jesus was a tough concept to grab, and one that contributes to a constant mental struggle for me. Celebration is a tough book to internalize because it rubs against the grain of Western culture that all of us enjoy. It would be tough to argue that any Western Christian actually puts the entire book into practice. Enter Death By Suburb, or what I like to call it, Celebration of Discipline Light. Foster's book may scare a new or comfortable Christian away, but Goetz's book is easy to read, and hard to deny. He speaks pointedly and humorously to the American Christian. Though there are a few holes in the book, and a couple of areas that could have used some elaboration, I found myself saying, "Yep, that's me." Sometimes that was a good thing, other times, not so good. But where Foster is intimidating, Goetz is not. Once Goetz's book is accepted, though, Foster's book is the next logical step. Both are very worthwhile reads for all Christians.

Fast forward to today. You didn't think you were going to read some sort of book review when you came to our blog (much less two book reviews!), and I'm not much of a book reviewer. I also don't consider myself a deep, religious philsopher. (If you're looking for something like this, check out my friend Adam's blog.) Why I hike through this background with you is to illustrate what has been going on in my mind related to the e-mail updates I distribute. I was looking for ways to elaborate on the Classical Spiritual Disciplines and I came across some great websites and blogs that deal with these in meaningful, rubber-meets-the-road ways. I share them here for you to check out when (or if) it's convenient for you because I believe they're good for us. As an analogy, I don't have the food... I'm just a beggar pointing out to other beggars where to find food.
The Inward Disciplines
The Outward Disciplines
The Corporate Disciplines

It is easy when you start taking the Disciplines seriously to pursue them as the end, rather than the means to an end. It's easy to begin to either worship the Discipline(s) or to become very legalistic about the Discipline(s). This is no excuse for not pursuing them, though. It's true of my life, and most Christians will acknowledge as well, that the times when I've been closest to Jesus "oddly coincide" with the times that I've been making a number of the Disciplines a priority in my life. Additionally, the Disciplines don't make us good Christians. Rather, they help us form good and healthy habits, and they become symptoms of a healthy relationship with the LORD.

One thing I hate to do in either my personal life or my professional life is to set up unrealistic expectations. They only lead to disappointment. So I don't share all of this with you as some sort of New Year's resolution that you and I can let slide sometime in late January or early February and feel depressed in May when we remember the broken resolution. Phooey! But with the thought of a new year and new starts, why not consider pursuing the goal of forming and firming up good and healthy habits as they relate to our relationship with the LORD? I understand that my readers fall all across the spectrum when it comes to this subject. But we all have to have a starting point, and we all have room to improve. If you have any questions or thoughts about this, feel free to post here or to e-mail me separately.

From the Gates Family to you and your family, have a Happy New Year!