The thing that I admire most about my brother-in-law Nate is his insane people skills. He is so likeable. The first time that I met him, I immediately loved him. He asked me about living in Buffalo, teaching high school, and growing up with only sisters. It is noticeable how sincerely he cares about people, even when he's just starting to get to know them. He looks you in the eyes and asks the most genuine questions about your life, family, and interests. He listens and interacts and engages. It makes you feel important and valued.
I think this is a really important skill to have, and Nate comes by it so naturally. There is nothing forced or staged about it at all. Ryan has sometimes asked me how he can better connect with his colleagues, his patients, and his patients' parents. Ry is shy and doesn't always know what to say in order to make "small talk." I have told him to be like Nate--to ask lots of questions about the other person so that they feel understood and interesting. This approach is perfect for Ryan because it means that he doesn't have to do much talking! He just has to ask a good question and then listen intently. :) I am grateful to Nate for showing both me and Ryan how this is done. He is a great example to us of how to connect with and love others.
When I am with Ashley and Nate, I love that Nate wants to visit too--he doesn't just go in the other room like so many husbands do. Not that it's a bad thing for a guy to disappear after he's had his fill of the girls' gab, but it's so nice that Nate sticks around for a while to hear the latest news and to show that he cares about us. I've loved the conversations that I've had with him and Ashley over the four years that they've been together. They are two of my favorite people. (As is their little snuggle bug, Kate. She's the cutest.)
Nate is also a great uncle and has always had the magic touch with Noah. In fact, when I visited them last year in Boise, Nate was the only person who could calm Noah down when he was in the midst of a fit. :) Again, I think it's because he is genuinely interested in getting to know Noah and connecting with him. He plays with him and talks to him, and he always seems so amused by Noah's antics and impressed by his new skills. It makes me feel good that Nate loves my son. (And as a side note, I've told Ryan that this is another way to win people over: Love their kids, and they will automatically love you!! Isn't that so true??)
Happy birthday to an awesome man who has taught us a lot about how to reach out to others. We admire you and love you--and we are so glad that we now live close to you, Ashley, and sweet baby Kate. See you soon, Brother!