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One of my favorite photos with Jack. He can always make me laugh!

Another year has passed, which means Jack has had another birthday and has caught up closer to me in age, making his claims that I robbed the cradle hardly valid (we’re less than a year and four months apart, a difference he likes to exploit). In that time, we’ve made hundreds of happy memories, shared a few tears, had a number of triumphs, and have loved getting to know each other better.


It goes without saying that Jack is the fun one. I’ve known it ever since I got to know him and could see that mischevious spark in his eye that’s always looking on the positive side of things and looking for the adventure. Without him, we wouldn’t have chocolate parties, the kids would be falling left and right while skating (because I’m a TERRIBLE skater and would be clinging to the side like everyone else), anniversary trips and other fun getaways would be nonexistent. Basically, if it were just me, all we’d ever do was clean and make very basic dinners because keeping people alive is my specialty. Beyond that is firmly Jack’s area of expertise.


At home, Jack is the resident plant man. I prefer taking care of the animals because they can tell me when they’re hungry and otherwise, are self-sufficient. Where I would have dug a hole and plopped a plant in the ground, Jack will take the time to mix in manure, tenderly bury each and every plant within his grasp, mulch it, water it, and check on it pretty much daily, whether it’s a tree, the garden, or fruiting bushes. I think on our farm, we make a good team that way.

On top of being a master with flora, he’s also becoming quite the forager.

He can pull a dinner of fish out of our pond (then fillet and grill it), and is always bringing in ingredients he found in the yard to include in dinner, from redbuds to dandelions, wild chives, and ramps. The best part is that he doesn’t expect me to figure out what to do with it all and instead whips up something delicious out of the wild edibles he’s gone “grocery shopping” for in the backyard.

An at-home date with some wild ramp soup he made for him and me after the kids went to bed. The candle was a nice touch.

It’s not just foraging he’s good at, either. When he puts his mind to something, he just goes and does it. I want to learn to make fresh pasta while Jack has already taken the initiative and taught himself when he made the perfect pan of from-scratch lasagne.


With all the cuts of meat of Parton that I’m not entirely familiar with (or what to do with them), Jack can make them into a mean batch of jerky that is absolutely mouthwatering. Seriously. If all we ever ate was jerky, I’d be perfectly happy.


As inquisitive and curious as Jack naturally is, I also love that he is more than willing to show and explain what he knows to others. I hope our kids appreciate the education they’re getting from him, from how to tap maple trees to how to fish, where to look for edible mushrooms, how to plan and plant a garden, why a plane can fly, the chemistry behind just about anything, why the scriptures are important…there isn’t much that Jack hasn’t explained. More than the practical skills he’s passing along, I think our kids will have a love of learning and never be afraid to try something new because of the experiences that they’ve had with their father.


Jack is one of those rare people that can slip from one role into another seamlessly. I often catch him in his corporate job work clothes, ready to go outside and do some farm work, pausing momentarily to fulfill his church assignments. Like here (he’d just gotten home from work, was going to tan Parton’s hide, and was talking to someone from church about helping someone move):


I try hard to make everyone’s birthday special, even though Jack blows his day off like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. This year, I didn’t manage cake, ice cream, and presents, though. The whole of Jack’s birthday was spent in the hospital, waiting for our next son to make his appearance.

I can’t imagine it’s terribly fun watching me be uncomfortable, while both of us were sleep deprived and hungry but Jack never once complained. I joked about what an un-fun birthday he was getting and he just shrugged his shoulders and remarked that he was getting the best present ever: a new addition to our family.

Our new son loves his daddy!

He stayed up with me late into the night, crashed on the couch for a few measly hours of sleep, then went home to get the girls to school–stopping on the way to get some donuts (which he HATES but knows everyone else loves) to celebrate the big occasion, take care of Henry and Zoey, renew his license, and get some things in order around the house before he brings everyone to the hospital to meet their new brother–all without a word of complaint. That’s just who Jack is.


We love Jack and are beyond blessed to have him in our family, always watching over, providing for, teaching, inspiring, encouraging, loving, and finding the fun in everything with us.

Happy Special Birthday, Jack!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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