Is it Always Going to Be Like This? Nope!

This year started with a a terrible person getting into the White House, and from there, life threw some personal struggles at me and Jen.

During these tough times, Jen will ask me, "It's going to get better right? It won't always be like this?" I always say yes. Below are a few pictures from this year alone that show life is easy sometimes. And soon we'll be back to things being a bit easier.

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Getting a cabin where we can snuggle by a fire (and go for a nice hike)

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Finishing Georgia on the AT!

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Being honored with an award for the amazing work you do

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Swimming. The days by the pool were nice.

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Cute doggies

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Biking ALL the miles!

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Being silly.

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Competing in an IRONMAN!

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100,000

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Our little Kia Soul 2013 made it to 100,000 miles, in only 3.5 years. So that 10 year/100,000 mile warranty expired pretty quickly!

Being a #onecarfamily, this little vehicle has been our little workhorse, hauling over 2,000 lbs in some instances. It's safe to say we will run this car into the ground.

It's brought us joy, new puppies, drive-in movies, gardening, family, adventure, travel and new houses.

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Planting Fruit Trees

We planted 2 apple trees and 2 peach trees. Last year and the Indianapolis farmers market, we had some Gold Rush Apples and they blew our mind. Well, mostly Jen's mind cause she loves apples. So we decided to plant a Gold Rush tree right in our yard!

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The trees came and we got to work! Althought they had to soak for 4 hours, so we actually ended up planting them at 9pm....

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And a few days later they've already got some life!

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Hardening The Plants

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Our little plants are ready to get outside! They are getting big and looking healthy. Rube did eat some of our onions though! Other than that, these guys are ready to get in the ground. EEE! Exciting!

Plus our Cilantro came back from last year!
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Illinois Marathon

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I started running my freshman year of high school. I had never run before, but I still remember that first 4 mile run and how amazing I felt. That started a 9 year stretch of my life where running was my everything. It dictated my eating schedule, travel schedule, my friends and my outlook on life.

Then I had a foot surgery in the fall of 2007, and my running never was the same. I tried for years to make it the same, but my body just wouldn't be the same. I had always thought "sure I'll run a few marathons, no big deal," and thought running would always be a part of my life. But a few years after the surgery I stopped running.

Then in January 2014, my co-worker Dustin decided he was going to run a marathon. So I talked to Jen and she told me to do it and this was my chance to run a marathon. Dustin had picked out the Hal Higdon Novice 2 Training Plan, which worked really well for me. It kept us around 30 miles a week (if I do much more than that, my back and foot doesn't like it).

We made it through a tough winter of training - with some nasty days of -20 wind chill. More days than I remember we'd finish with a beardsicle (frozen beard). In the middle of the training I had a slight calf strain, but took a few days off and made it back for our 20 miler.

The race went great, it was too hot (high of 80 on race day).

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First 10 miles were great (first 5 of them into the sun, was really hot). We passed the 4 hour pass group at about 5 mile. Saw Chap at the park at about 10 mile and saw Carmen and Vetter. Vetter had no idea I was running.

Then I started getting some nipple chaffing and felt l was getting a blister on my left foot.

At the 13 mile mark the race pack got really sparse, down to about 25% of what is was since the half-marathoners split off. Saw Jen at Mile 11 ish, then my parents at 15 and 17. Then Jen at 18 and Rooster started running with us a few minutes after that. Glad he joined us, he did good at keeping together with Whitey and keeping us at a good pace. Feeling good until mile 22.5, then I started hurting a bit. Whitey was really hurting, and we made the tough decision to split up. Didn't want to leave him because I never would have made it through the training without him. But he wanted me to break 4 hours.

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But me and Rooster left him and really picked up the pace. Rooster left me just before mile 25. When I got to 25 I knew I could finish. Had some real bad calf cramps starting then though. They started off pretty rare, then by mile 26 my calf was almost constantly cramping. Almost had to start walking, but I was able to finish! My final time was 3:55:49.

Great to have family there and felt very accomplished. It was tougher than I thought it would. A hot day to race though. We took advantage of just about every hydration/GU stop.

I could have never completed a marathon without my training partner Dustin and my partner Jen. Jen always encouraged me and made time for my training. And she was there on race day as a full suporter!
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She also had me do some Marathon Selfies, because she's hip
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And not only was Jen there, but my parents and brother came too. I'm very loved!
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And then to celebrate Jen brought in Jerry's pizza, cake and chips & salsa to work on Monday! It was partially a celebration, and partially to thank my co-workers for putting up with all the training.


So Much Fun

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I completed my first season as a Girls on The Run (GOTR) Coach. Being a boy and a coach for GOTR is pretty rare. I was the only one out of about 115 coaches at the East Central Illinois branch of GOTR.

Our goal is to make an impact on the girls' lives, let them know that bullying and gossiping are bad for everyone, and that you can't always listen to the messages the media is sending you. It's some tough messages to for 3rd-5th graders to grasp sometimes, but they've surprised me. They pick up more than you think.

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The season ended with an awesome 5k run. Letting the girls know that if they can finish at 5k, they can do anything. Here is a good article about the event and GOTR.

I wouldn't have become a coach if it weren't for Jen. She was my role model for coaching and is still the best coach I've seen. She manages to give her full energy at every lesson and is always silly for the girls (as you can see, she is wearing a chicken costume at the 5k). Even though she's silly, she fully understands the message we are trying to send the girls, and the ways GOTR should empower them.

Jen is changing the world ... and after my first season as coach, I've feel that I have actually made a difference. I've seen the girls at my site grow and become more confident. It was totally worth it.


Away in Brown County

Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 106 Life's been a lot of to-do lists and getting stuff done recently - and it seems like there just hasn't been enough time for fun. 2014-04-06 17.35.00 So we took a weekend and went to one of our favorite destinations: Bloomington, IN. Jen had friends and family attend Indiana University - so she used to frequent the city. Now we go there to visit friends that are still there, to eat good food, walk around a nice town, and go hiking. So we started our trip with smiles and kisses to set the mood! Our first stops were at Mother Bear's Pizza (get their house salad with ranch!) followed by the Baked! - the best cookies you can get. 2014-04-04 22.40.41 Then we hit up the opening day of the Bloomington Farmers Market, which was loaded with lots of salad greens, flowers, locally raised good meat, and baked goods. We bought some good cheese and brats. Jen's friend MJ was writing an article on the market and it's opening day. Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 017 Then we ventured to a great lunch at Farm-Bloomington and then walked around town to a few fun bookstores. Boxcar books is very fun and super activist-y. They had Neko Case playing as we walked in, so Jen was happy. Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 033 After that we went out to Brown County State Park and we did Trail #8. But before that, of course we visited the Park Office and Nature Center, because Jen loves parks and park rangers and learning ALL THE THINGS! We also went up a scary fire tower... Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 071 Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 085 Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 057 Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 120 2014-04-05 15.16.39 I love hiking with Jen. Sometimes we stop a lot, experience everything around us and just relax. We try and find all the details of everything (which Jen is great at), and just be next to one another. And then other times we are killing it doing miles in minutes and rocking it. It's always an adventure! Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 126 Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 143 Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 160 After our hike we stopped into the Muddy Boots Cafe in Nashville, IN to get a quick snack and to try some of their baked goods (per a recommendation). 2014-04-05 17.19.28 Then we headed back to Bloomington and made a great dinner of Pasta Bolognese for our friend MJ at her new apartment (we were her first guests!). Bloomington, IN (April 2014) 163 We stayed at a lovely place we found on airbnb.com. If you haven't tried AirBnB you totally should. It's cheaper and gives you a better experience because you stay with locals you can tell you more about what's best in the area. It's also just awesome to meet new and fun people.

We finished off our adventure with a morning coffee shop date at Soma, buying some yarn at Yarns Unlimited, lunch at Little Tibet and another stop at Baked! for cookies.

-Nate
Feeling adventurous, energized and grateful


New Raised Beds

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We are expanding for our 2nd season of Tomato's Farm! So we need more places to put all our plants - so we built two more beds. Jen bought some good cedar wood the other day, and we whipped them together yesterday in less than 30 minutes. Jen found the design for them last year online, and they've worked well.

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Season 2 of Tomato's Farm!
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P.S. The garlic is still doing great!
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Happy Birthday Jen

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(pictured above is the first birthday I spent with her 5 years ago).

Happy birthday to the most giving woman I know. I don't know how her heart is able to give so much, but she always gives and gives of her heart, soul, time and talents.

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She's always silly and makes life fun wherever and whatever she is doing
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She knows how to adventure better than anyone I know

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But she also knows how to relax!

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But most of all she's been the best life partner to me. I'm still in awe that Jen is my partner, She takes care of me from far and near.
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Another Work Weekend with Tim & MaryKay

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Jen's parents came to visit us this weekend in anticipation of Jen's upcoming birthday! But Tim & MaryKay are always awesome at helping us cross some big projects off our list. They are do-ers, and it's nice to have people like them around to share their knowledge and experience with us young home owners. So not only did we celebrate Jen's upcoming birthday, but we got lots of work done.

So after an amazing dinner at The Firefly Grill and Ice Cream at the Homewood Grill, Jen and MaryKay got to work! But first look at these cool gifts Jen got:

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But we still found time to relax and have some puppy time!
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-Tired Oat & Handsome