Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grumble: Blogger

I have decided I really am not too impressed with blogger/ It does not have an iPhone app that I can use to blog on the go. Weak. If I take time to write 2 or 3 blogs in a row and save each as a draft with the plan to publish them one day at a time, when I do publish them, they are listed by date composed, not date published. I find myself having to compose, save, and then copy and paste on the day I want to publish. Weak. I feel like the photo upload system is awful.

I find myself very impressed with my friends who use wordpress. When I go to a friend's blog who uses wordpress from my iPhone, it automatically takes me to a mobile version and gives me the option to view the full version. I love that. It has an iPhone app. Even better.

I am thinking about making the switch. Anyone used both and have an opinion? Anyone made the switch? Were you able to easily import your posts from blogger to wordpress so you didn't start with a fresh, empty blog? What are your opinions on hosting the blog on versus self-hosting. I am currently leaning toward purchasing a domain name and self-hosting. Worth it or no?

Photo Shoot

I mentioned Monday that I would post pictures from a mini photo shoot we did with Eli on Tuesday. It is now Thursday night. Oh well...better late than never.

These pictures are great, but what we really need is a photoshoot with Sarajane Case. She and her hubby are traveling around the country right now. If they are coming to a city near you, you should definately contact them and set up a photo shoot. (Check out their travel schedule here). She is amazing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gigi and Uncle Matt Visit (I'm A Dad Mondays)

On Thursday my Mom (who is called Gigi by her grandchildren) and my brother Matthew came to visit and see Eli. It was really neat to see each of them hold my son. We had a great time playing games, going for walks, and laughing. Oh the laughing. No one on earth can me me laugh as hard as Matthew. And he does it so consistently. Twice this weekend I laughed until I couldn't breathe.

Abby had the fantastic idea of taking Gigi to Gigi's Cupcakes. Dang people, those cupcakes are GOOD. I had a strawberry shortcake and an Orange Dreamsicle (on two different days) and they were just out of this world good.

There is definitely more to blog about, but this dad is so tired, he is hitting the hay at 8 pm. Check back tomorrow for pictures from a mini photo shoot we did on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cheap Date

A good friend, Ryan Kocak offered to e-mail people and set up a "Feed the Wilkinsons" list. It has been goign great. I was so surprised that so many people signed up to bless us with a meal.

There was one night when people did not sign up so Abby and I decide to improvise a date. I went to the Nicholasville Library and picked up a movie and then used a Fazoli's coupon to get both of us a meal for less than $7.

Dinner + Movie = $7. Not bad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 1 Video (I'm a Dad Mondays)

Abby is My Hero/Laughter (I'm a Dad Mondays)

Eli is a sweet, self soothing, happy sleeping little baby during the day. At night, Eli does not sleep unless he is being held. We don't know why this is but it makes life tough. Abby has definitely taken the brunt of this. Day 1 and 2 I could help and take a few shifts at night, but day 3 and 4 Abby took the entire night so that I could be rested for two very important days at work. The sleep deprivation really wore on Abby. The trouble is, even if take a few night shifts for her, she still has to get up every 3 hours for a certain motherly duty that I cannot perform. We have started to find a system that works, but we are really hoping Eli will just start sleeping better at night. I know someone mentioned that we try to keep him awake during the day so he will sleep better at night, but that is not an option yet. She shouldn't even be born for another two weeks. He is still a newborn. For at least two more months he will need to sleep almost all day. Anyway, to sum up: Eli doesn't sleep so good at night and Abby is my hero.

Something else I want to mention: feeding Eli is boring. It is something we have to do every 3 hours. When Abby feeds him, it can take up to 40 minutes to feed. When I feed him (with a bottle of breast-milk or formula) it take 15-20. When we finish, we have to hold him upright on our chest for 20 minutes because he struggles a little with spitting up. So, a lot of our day (more Abby's than mine) is taken up by feeding. And it is boring. I get tired of flipping channels on TV (and really, what is on at 3 am?). I can't really be on the Internet and I have not yet mastered reading while feeding/burping. So, I have turned to TV series on DVD. Two Christmases ago I got a bunch of animated series that I grew up on: Superman, Justice League, Batman & Batman Beyond. I watched the 4th season of Justice League and recently started the 4th season of Batman. It passes the time, and season 4 has Tim Drake as Robin, Nightwing (with a pony tail) and Batgirl.

One more thing I want to mention: Eli makes me laugh all the time. Or rather, I laugh all the time when I am with Eli, many times at myself. Often this happens when I am changing his clothes or his diaper. Eli fusses when you change him (he doesn't like the cold wet wipes and we are too cheap to buy a wet wipe warmer) and the only thing that soothes him is his pacifier so you need at least one hand on that thing at all times or he cries. Changing his diaper (and reducing his hernias, changing his clothes, etc) require two hands. So it is always this back and forth of, put in the pacifier/wipe the bottom/put in the pacifier/change the diaper/put in the pacifier, reduce the hernia/put in the pacifier...I need 3 hands! If I had 3 hands, it would be easy. Anyway, all that to say, I am not great at changing his diaper and clothes and this makes me laugh. I make a bunch of juvenile potty jokes. When he has a monster poop, I laugh at the amount and smell. When I change his onesie, I laugh at his frustration with how long it takes me and how tough it is for me to get it over his head in a swift manner.

Recently this little situation happened: I went and picked Eli up at diaper changing/feeding time. He was wet all over his back and chest. I think to myself: "Eli have you been sweating? Were you too hot? This can't be pee, it is way up your back and chest. Too high for that." I hold him for a minute and realize he is really wet and smells a little, so I go to change him. MONSTER POOP! It was huge and liquid-y. As I go to change this, Eli pees. All over his chest, up onto his face. This is awful. Poor baby has pee on his face. But I laugh. I laugh so hard! I sent Abby (and my whole family): 'If you ever find yourself asking: "Eli, are you wet because you are sweating or did you pee on yourself?", feel free to assume: peed on yourself.'

Monster Poop

Bath Time & PAA (I'm a Dad Mondays)

Here is some pictures of Eli's first bath time at home. We are still using the bowl the NICU gave us to wash him. We do have a bath tub but I guess we just aren't ready to use it yet. Eli loves bath time.

The day after we got home, we had to take Eli to his first doctor's appointment. We are going to PAA in Lexington because they have 11 doctors and are only closed on Christmas Day. We like the idea that any day we need them, including weekends, they will be there.

Sitting in the PAA waiting room.
The waiting room at PAA.
Staring at my little boy.

Mommy feeding Eli

We took Eli for his first walk this week. It was a little windy, so we had him wrapped up really well and had a blanket over the top of stroller. It was nice to get out of the house (we were both going a little stir crazy.)

I'm A Dad Mondays

I know that many of the people who come to the blog do so to get information about Eli so I decided to make Mondays "I'm a Dad Mondays!" Every Monday I will update on what has gone on with Eli. If a lot has gone on, I will break the day up into multiple posts so as to never end up with a huge, unmanagable (and unreadable) post. So here, we go!

On Monday, Feb 7, Abby and I went to go pick up Eli from the NICU.

Eli in his car seat on the way home

Dad holding Eli for the first time at home

Mommy changing Eli's first diaper at home

This week has been both rewarding and challenging. Eli is so sweet during the days. He often sleeps almost 2 hours between feedings. On day 2 or 3 it was my turn to watch Eli and he was sleeping in his pack 'n play. I was in the living room doing some work (my amazing boss let me work from home two days) and he began to fuss, but I did not go get him. After a few minutes he self soothed and was content for the next hour. It was great.

This little thing is a huge part of my life and brings me a ton of peace of mind. I love how clear the image is. Surprisingly this little monitor works even though there can be up to four concrete walls between the camera and the monitor, depending on if Eli is in the nursery or our room.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Music Since Christmas

Before Christmas I had gone a long time without new music. I have definately indulged since then.

For Christmas as gifts (or via returns) I got:
David Crowder Band - "Church Music" (really dig the way track 12-15 flow together. Makes me want to dance, which I think is the point.)
Sara Groves - "Fireflies and Songs" (Who doesn't like Sara Groves?)
The Afters - "Light Up the Sky"

For Christmas I received $65 worth of iTunes gift cards. The first thing I decided to buy was the Mumford and Sons album “Sigh No More.” I was having trouble getting iTunes to redeem my gift cards so I decided to download the songs on my iPhone. The problem was that I didn’t now know how to redeem my gift cards on my phone either. I thought I could hit download and then it would ask if I was sure and at that point I could add my code. Nope. Just started downloading. So, I paid for “Sigh No More.” Best $10 I ever spent. I love this album.

This is my favorite song on the album. Their lyrics are so good. "Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be."

I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my money on individual songs instead of full albums. You know how it is, you buy an album and you only like half the songs, if that. So, instead of falling into that trap, I decided only to buy the songs I knew I liked. Back when my work computer was worth a damn I could listen to Pandora Radio (seriously, my work computer can not play music or videos without crashing now) and found a lot of new artists I liked. Bret Dennen, Forest Sun, the Decemberists and Ben Gibbard's solo stuff came from my Avett Brothers station. The Panic! at the Disco and Metro Station songs came from my Owl City station. I bought:

Bret Dennen: (these 7 songs are on 3 different albums. The convenience of being able to buy individual songs)

  • Just Like The Moon
  • When I Go
  • Blessed
  • Make You Crazy
  • Heaven
  • Aint No Reason
  • She’s Mine

The Decemberists: The entire “Picaresque” album. (Yea, I know what I said, but I liked enough songs that buying the entire album was cheaper than song-by-song.)
Ben Gibbard: Carolina (good folk music)
Forest Sun:

  • No Regrets
  • Walk Through Walls
  • Weep and Wail
  • Drops in the Ocean
  • In the Morning

Panic! At the Disco: Nine in the Afternoon (fun music)
Metro Station: Kelsey

I also picked up:

B.O.B – Magic (this is one of my favorite songs of the moment)
Bruno Mars – Just the way you are (an awesome, pure, non-sexual love song)
Katy Perry: Firework (pure pop, which is something I usually hate. But this, I love. A song that picks me up.)
Josh Turner: Would You Go With Me (love the deep voice)
Sanctus Real:
  • Forgiven
  • We Need Each Other

I also ended up, from previous purchases, with $5 of credit to Amazon's mp3 store. I bought:

Flo Rida: Club Can’t Handle Me (MY JAM!)
La Roux: Bulletproof (Abby loves this one)
Jason Derulo: Whatcha Say Dexys
Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen (Tu La Ta Lu Ra Lay!)
Phil Wickham – You’re Beautiful (a, well, beautiful song)

So, I still have 34.37 left on iTunes. Any suggstions?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Incredibly Average

Just want to make sure people are aware that my wife, Abby, has joined the blogging world. She has done a great job over the past few days describing the journey of Eli and capturing it in pictures. If you want more Eli updates than I am currently giving you, her blog is the place to find them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grumbles: 3D Movies

Today I am taking a page out of my friend Kyle Case’s blog and writing up a little grumble of mine: 3D movies. This new fad has made Hollywood a bunch of money but it is a rip off. Some movies are not shot in 3D but are later converted so that they appear to be in 3D. Beware these types of movies; they suck. The 3D is awful and the reality is they would look better in 2D. They just slap 3D on there so they can squeeze 3 extra dollars out of you. An example of this type of scam is Clash of the Titans.

Other movies claim to be 3D but the truth is that only portions of the movie are 3D. So, you could be watching a two hour movie but only 20 minutes are in 3D. What a rip off. An example of this is Tron: Legacy. I saw this in 3D, expecting to be blown away. I was not.

The final type of 3D movie is one that is shot entirely in 3D. This is the requirement all movies who get to put 3D on their listing should have to meet. This is what should make the movie worth the extra money. The upcoming Drive Angry movie was shot totally in 3D. I don’t have any desire to see it, but I applaud the filmmaker for taking it all the way.

(By the way, the above can also apply to IMAX movies. There are some that were not shot in IMAX at all but are shown at IMAX, some shot with some IMAX film (like Batman Begins) and those shot totally for IMAX. The difference is, even if a movie was not shot for IMAX at all, it is still worth the extra cash to see the movie on that enormous screen.)

Other grumbles about 3D:

The glasses just haven’t reached a high level of quality yet. Those one-size-fits all glasses really end up being barely-fits-one-person-correctly. What I hope for are something more in the style of Geordi La Forge with an adjustable strap in the back.

Do we really even need glasses at all? They have developed screens that create the 3D effect without glasses at all. These are at work in some 3D TVs and is the technology behind the new Nintendo 3DS.

The price. I just don’t think it is worth the extra money.

One day 3D movies will be the norm and they will be awesome. The kinks will be fixed. The price will stabilize. Right now, I avoid them like the plague.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Solia Tera

Solia Tera

This is a band that you all need to listen to. This band consists of six guys from the Lakeland, FL area, three of which I can call a friend. They have a good bit of Anathallo in them. Whimsical, lots of musical changes, very intelligent lyrics. Their music makes me happy and their lyrics challenge me. An example:

“We die. I guess this raises some questions. Like what would it profit us to find our worth in a place we’re about to leave?”

What a challenge lyric! This one hits me every time. I do, so often, find my worth in the things of Earth instead of setting my mind and heart on the things above.

Solia Tera has two EPs out, both of which are on iTunes, a total of 9 songs between the two. You can listen to full songs on myspace. Please check them out:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Heat/Magic game

Paul Niswander is a man with connections. One of the many cool people he is friends is a man by the name of Dennis who just happens to be the radio announcer of the Orlando Magic. Way back in September, Paul hit Dennis up for Magic/Heat tickets, hoping we could go to one of them together. We never heard back and assumed we would not get to go. On Tuesday, Feb 1, Paul gets a call from Dennis asking him if we were coming to the game, which was on Thursday. We were shocked and more than a little excited. We took a few hours to debate whether or not we were willing to spend the money for last minute flights (we were hoping to know well in advance and get cheap tickets) and then decided a memory like this is worth the money. Plus, the last minute nature of our adventure added excitement.

Thursday morning we woke up at 5 am and Abby drove us to the airport. We had a connection through Charlotte (where Paul had his very first Jamba Juice) and landed in Orlando at 11:30 am. We to downtown Orlando around 4pm and walked around for a while. We got to bless a homeless man named Billy with a hot meal, had dinner together, and then went inside the arena. The new Amway Arena is ridiculous! It is the newest and nicest arena in the NBA.

We saw Lebron take some practice free throw shots. He was super intense and focused. When both teams came out to warm up, it was pretty cool. Lots of dunking and a few trick shots. The introductions were insane! My favorite part was when Dwight Howard spoofed Lebron's old Cavaliers skit and pretended to take a photo with his team. Hilarious.

Below: Lebron's pre-game powder toss.
The game itself wasn't as exciting because the Heat lead the entire game, so the energy in the place was low. We saw a few dunks by Dwight, including a sick 180 dunk. Dwyane Wade also had a ridiculous block on Howard and then took it coast-to-coast. The most incredible part of the game was Lebron James. The dude was a machine. His stat line was 17-25 for 51 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. He embarrassed Hedo Turkolu and I didn't miss a shot the entire first quarter. In the 4th quarter, as Orlando was making a comeback and got within 6, Lebron took the ball down the court, stared down his defender, and nailed a three. He casually turned around and just walked down the court. What a dagger.
It was a good time and I am so glad we went. A trip I will remember forever.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Help train Pastors in Mozambique

My friends, Zach and Lyndy Szmara (and their son Isaac) are missionaries. I met Zach when we were both Intercultural Studies students at Asbury Seminary. Zach started off as a fellow student I found both brilliant and experienced (having already served a short term as a missionary). He has now become a friend who I seldom get to see now that he and Lyndy are living in Marion and raising support full time. My hope is that I will see him even less as the Szmara's hope to be full time missionaries in Northern Mozambique beginning in April. I am telling you about them now, because I want you to consider joining their team and helping them raise the last bit of support they need.

The main reason Zach and Lyndy are going to Northern Mozambique is to train pastors. The church is exploding in Mozambique but there are not enough pastors to teach the new Christians. There is something like 70 churches in northern Mozambique with only 3 trained pastors between them. The people in Mozambique are hungry for God. It is harvest time. Please help Zach and Lyndy get there and begin training these new Christians who have heard a call of God in their life to be in ministry.

This is the link to their website, The Extension Chord. Please check it out and donate, even just $5 or $10. Every little bit helps. I know these people. I will vouch for them. They are going to do great things for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Failed New Years Resolution of the Ladies of Kresge

I have this routine I go through the five working days of the week. I wake up at seven, shower, eat a bowl of cereal while I watch Sportscenter, get dressed and then walk to work. For the first six months of my life in Kresge, the showering part was fine. The water in Kresge borderlines on scalding if you turn it all the way hot. Over the summer there were times when I had it on the lowest setting it would go and it was still nearly unbearable. Once the school year started and there were 250 other people using hot water, the shower leveled out. So, long story short, I have always had hot water for the shower.

That is, until three weeks ago. From Jan 10-Jan 21 I did not have much hot water. Some days It would start hot but within 5 minutes would be cold. Some days it would stay mild the whole time, warm enough to shower but not so warm that I was not paranoid that any second I would be in freezing water. Some days it was just freezing. As I said, this went on for about two weeks. However, this week the water has been very hot the entire time. I have a theory as to why this is.

I think that some of the ladies of Kresge made a New Years resolution. They were going to be responsible adults and wake up early. They would not hit snooze until 7:55 then frantically dress and run to class. They would shower and eat breakfast before their 8 o'clock class. Because they did this, they used up the hot water that I usually use during my routine...for two weeks. As the days wore on, less and less of them made the attempt. The lure of sleep outweighed the desire to get up early. Slowly, one by one, they gave up. And now my routine is back to normal.

Thank you ladies of Kresge. Thank you for giving up. Thank you for hitting snooze. My mornings are so much better because you do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Reading List: Book 2

China: The Hidden Miracle by Ross Paterson and Elisabeth Farrell

China: The Hidden Miracle is a book delivered in two halves. In the first, we follow the story of Brother Ye, a Chinese Christian who is arrested and imprisoned for his faith. Using his story we learn about the horrible persecution that Chinese Christians face as well as the incredible miracles God is doing inside the country of China. The second part of the book explains the cultural/political/religious history of China from 1949 until 1993 (the year the book was written) and gives ways that the reader can support the Church in China.

The book was often encouraging and challenging. Regrettably, the writing was sub-par which took much of the punch out of the stories the author was trying to tell. Many times it felt like the bare minimum was being told.

The most important thing I got out of this book was a renewed desire to pray for the world-wide church. Prayer really is powerful and God really does respond to the prayers of his people.

In the end, if you are looking for a book about the church in China and the incredible things happening there, I would suggest Heavenly Man by Brother Yun. That book was simply one of the most influential, challenging, and uplifting books I have ever read.

Disposable income

I read an article recently that has haunted me. I read it the day it was posted and it has been lingering in my mind ever since. The below are the parts that have caused me the most trouble:

Do you think one day we will be held accountable for every dime we spent on sports, and every minute we spent watching sports? If you are not aware, there are some terrible things going on in the world—oppression, starvation, slavery—the sorts of things we as Christians are supposed to be standing up against. How many times have you heard that nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day? That’s $730 a year ($732 on Leap Year). Or to put it into perspective, about $500 less than I spent on season tickets this season.

Will I get a pass on this at Judgment Day? Will Jesus say, “You spent more money on football tickets than 3 billion of my children lived on in one year, but I understand, those games sure were exciting, well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Of course you can get as legalistic with this as you want. I spent just as much on the cable and Internet bill as I did on football tickets. Is it OK for a Christian to have cable when children are starving in Africa?...Perhaps it’s a question of comfort. If you have disposable income to spend on sporting events, maybe your life has become too comfortable.

Disposable income. I know some people will immediately scoff and say, "I don't have disposable income." Yes you do. Its the money you spend at McDonalds, the movies, the mall, paying for gas to drive anywhere other than your job, etc. We have it and more often than not we use it on ourselves.

Now, Abby and I have a way to keep our disposable income spending down. Its called a budget. Within that budget is "Aaron's Fun Money" column and "Abby's Fun Money" column. (For a full explanation see Fun Money). The only way I can feel comfortable with us even having fun money is if I know we are giving away at least the same amount of money or more to charity, and that does not include tithe. So the way we determine our fun money amount is: total amount set aside to give to charity this month divided by 2. Then Abby and I each get that amount (roughly). This keeps me sane.

Then Christmas came. I got quite a bit of cash for Christmas. I was excited thinking, "I get to buy myself lots of stuff!" Then I read that article and it reminded me that Christmas is not my birthday and I will be accountable one day for the things I spend my money on. What a sobering thought.

For me, as I ponder all of this, what I think it means for me is that I need to find a worthy organization to be the recipient of some of my Christmas cash. But is that the answer or just a way to assuage my guilt?

To read the full article that started this mess:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Reading List: Book 1

Transformers: Exodus

I know, my first book isn't super intellectual. It was purely a guilty pleasure read. I said I would put a book review up of each book I read in 2011, and review it I shall.

Transformers: Exodus gives us the history of Cybertron from before Autobots and Decipticons existed through the time they leave Cybertron and make their way toward Earth. I grew up watching the Transformers TV Show. I loved the 1986 animated movie (still do). The book caught my interest because it promised to show us how Optimus Prime and Megatron came to be the leaders they are. The book sets up a number of intriguing and exciting plot lines that ultimately fall flat due to execution. I will give only one example: Megatron begins as a rebel who is trying to overthrow the oppressive caste system of his planet. Optimus shares his ideals and they become friends, ultimate becoming co-leaders of the anti-caste movement. This is good stuff. Anyone who has ever seen any form of the transformers know Optimus and Megatron are mortal enemies. They hate each other. But, wait, what? They were once friends? This opens the opportunity for the author to really develop their friendship. To show them grow together, then slowly apart, with some event leading to a violent break between them. Instead we get 30-40 pages of weak build up with an unconvincing event leading to a lackluster "betrayal".

The author also failed to ever establish a consistent form of measurements or terms. In using words like "cycles" and "orbits" he tried to help the reader feel like they were truly reading a foreign history. Instead, the inconsistencies make reading a juvenile novel feel exceedingly difficult.

I was hoping that Transformers: Exodus would be the Silmarillion for the Transformer mythology. Not even close. Hey, Hasboro, let me take a crack at this thing. I promise to do the mythology and its characters more justice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Personality of a 6 Week Old

This morning I was thinking about Eli's personality. He is only 6 weeks old. At this poitn he should still be in Abby's belly. He is not supposed to be born for another 40 days. And yet, here he is in the real world, doing things other baby's do. So, anyway, his personality. Some babys cry long and loud. Some babies coo and babble a lot. Some babys just constantly move their arms and legs. Not Eli. Eli doesnt make much noise, rarely cries and though he does move his arms and legs, he prefers them in close. He does have something that sets him apart though: he is constantly making faces. He moves his eyebrows, wrinkles his forehead, scrunches up his nose, and moves that mouth! It is so fun to watch. He makes me laugh a lot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eli Update: Jan 10, 2010

Most of you have Facebook, but not everyone does, this is me updating you on Eli if you do not (I'm looking at your Shane and Stacy Erb.)

Yesterday we were able to give him a bath. They bath Eli once a week but we had not been offered an opportunity to participate until yesterday. It was wonderful. He really liked having his hair washed and his scalp rubbed, but hey, who doesn't right?. The best NICU nurse in the world was there to walk us through each step. Her name is Rhonda.
Look at him. He is just so happy.

We were also able to measure him and he is now 15.5 inches long. He was 13 in long when we has born which means he is growing at approximately .5 inches a week.

He looks so relaxed there.

Don't mind me, I'm just super strong and stuff.
Looking right at his mama.

So, the long and the short of it is that he is doing very well. The doctor stopped by today and told us that he is doing "amazing." He took his entire feeding via bottle twice today and breastfeed at lunch better than any other time so far. They are going to remove his nasal cannula today, which means he would be breathing 100% on his own with no help. PLEASE pray that he does well and will not have to go back on it.