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Happy birthday to my hero!

I have tried–started and stopped, started, then stopped again–to write something celebrating Jack’s thirty-fifth birthday. It’s not that I don’t have feelings of gratitude, love, and appreciation for him. It’s that I have no idea how to sum all those feelings up into something as confining as words.

Real men change dirty diapers.
As long as I’ve known Jack, he’s always been one of those genuinely good guys. He’s always found happiness in serving others, is never short of laughter, and never, ever shirks away from work. But lucky for me, I’ve been able to witness him grow into something that’s exponentially better, not because anything about him is innately different but because his capacity has increased.


At the drop of the hat, he’s ready and willing to help. Give him a screwdriver and a ladder and he could probably build me an entire house.


I have loved learning about the natural world with him. Though I tend to gravitate toward animals, Jack is our resident plant specialist. That means we get homemade rootbeer straight from the sassafras roots he’s plucked from our forest…

…or ramp and redbud soup from one of our many hikes.

He makes specialty lunches for me when I’m busy working on a novel, to make sure I eat and take a break so I don’t get a headache. Not like it’s really that difficult for me to have to stop when he puts a plate of something he’s made in front of me. Honestly, I can’t remember a meal he’s made that wasn’t droolworthy. 🤤


Mexican food is especially dangerously delicious. Part of the reason I exercise is so I can enjoy letting him cook for me. 😂


Online learning has been a breeze with Jack at home. Math question? Ask dad. Not only does he know the answer, he’s going to enjoy helping the kids understand it. Ask mom? My answer is to go ask dad.  😉


Even though having so many children pulls us in a million different directions, Jack is there with them as much as he can, whether he’s holding the phone for Kate’s Zoom lesson for ballet, helping with Henry’s wrestling club, or coaching Evelyn in robotics.

Jack getting into his Colonel Mustard roll.

As smart as he is, Jack always has time to play a game. He doesn’t care for games of chance, because there’s a strong possibility he won’t win, no matter how good he is. His favorite kinds of games are all about strategy and cleverness, which usually means he wins. Someday, I’m going to be more clever than him and actually win, then I’ll never play him again so I can end on that high note. It still hasn’t happened, so we keep playing.


The kids feel so special when they get to hear one of daddy’s secrets, help him when he’s cooking, or sit on his lap while listening to his stories.


All of our children will grow up knowing how to garden because when Jack asks for their assistance, they’re there. Where I work without a break until I can’t keep my eyelids open, Jack knows when to sit and enjoy the fruits of his labor. They work a little, then rest, then work a little more. Jack is the epitome of balance.

A Jack-in-the-pulpit flower.

I have been the recipient of more flowers than most women see in their whole life and I know I’m lucky for it. They are sometimes the beautiful storebought bouquets but more often than not, they’re the wild, unruly, native flowers he finds in our backyard. Lilacs? Jack-in-the-pulpits? Woodland phlox? Daylilies from a ditch? Those are the best.


On top of flowers, I am spoiled (SPOILED!) by Jack’s work ethic. Living on a farm, there’s always something to do. Most of the time, we work on practical things that need to be done–fencing, building repairs, plumbing–but sometimes, I ask for help doing something that is probably a bit vain and selfish. Sometimes incredibly vain and selfish. Jack doesn’t say a word and helps me without a word of judgement.

Impromptu date! Left the kids inside watching a movie while we worked on some fencing.
I also have to give props to Jack for putting up with my animal mania. He can see the use in having animals that serve a purpose. Eggs? Milk? Meat? Fine. But he accepts that sometimes, it means a critter’s purpose is to keep me happy. He may roll his eyes and joke that the horses are big garden gnomes but never in a million years would he make me get rid of them. I cannot love him enough for not making me choose between him and horses.
(He jokes that he’s not entirely positive I’d choose him, so maybe that’s his true motivation. 🤣)
Of course, one of my favorite traits is that Jack doesn’t take himself too seriously. Whenever I hear someone tell me they’re surprised by his sense of humor, I wonder who on earth they’ve been talking to. Sure, he can look as stern and serious as the best supreme court judge but more often than not, the cogs are turning in his head and it’s likely something clever, witty, or otherwise funny. I am so glad to laugh my way through life with someone like Jack.
 Because if you can’t be a little silly and lighthearted, really, what’s the point?
Zoey got ahold of Jack.

The day of Jack’s birthday was a lot like other birthdays we’ve shared with him–the exception being last year when we were in the hospital waiting for Peter to show up. The kids pile on handmade presents, I try (and fall miserably short) to impress or surprise him with anything I’ve gotten (I’m terrible at giftgiving–I’m entirely too practical), we have a special dinner, some cake and ice cream, and the world keeps on turning. That’s the life of any middle-aged father with a horde of children at home.

So excited for his gifts!

Like any person I know and love, words always seem inadequate when I want to express just how much I love and admire, appreciate and respect a person. Jack tops my list of favorite people. He is kind, compassionate, and inquisitive. He is quick to apologize, sees my temper as a manifestation of passion, has a rock-solid faith that can also support mine when I feel weak. He is the kind of father every kid should have, the kind of man that recognizes how important, special, and needed women are, and the sort of friend that I knew I wanted to have all of my adventures with. So far, it’s been a wild and incredible ride with my hero of heros. Hoping for many, many more to come!

The big 3-5! Happy birthday to our hero! (And that beard! 🧔🏻 So manly.)
🎂 Happy birthday, Jack!🥰
Hope you had a fantastic and special day!


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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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