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In the middle of our spring-long celebration of birthdays, Jack turned thirty-six. Like all the other birthdays, the kids were as equally excited about the prospect of more cake and ice cream and making sure their dad had a special day. But, a single day really isn’t adequate to celebrate all that a person is, especially one as incredible as Jack.

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Since we were baby-faced teenagers, Jack has been the guy who’s made every date memorable (seriously…just ask him about our first date and you’re guaranteed a laugh). Fast forward two decades later, and our ability to actually go out to spend time together has ebbed and flowed with our growing family. Whether or not we actually get to go out or we find ourselves at home, he always makes sure we have plenty of time together. Eating at a restaurant, running errands, walking around the garden hand in hand, Jack makes it special.

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Though we’re busy raising our own family, Jack still keeps close with his parents and siblings. He calls on birthdays, interviewing them about how their life is going and making sure they know he loves them. I’m sure they roll their eyes, but being a good brother, son, uncle, and cousin is important to him, on top of being a stellar husband and father.

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Something I admire and wish I could emulate is Jack’s ability to weather hardship. Where I want to whine and complain (and usually do), he has faith and wisdom that can see him through anything. If there’s something he can do about it, he will, but if it’s out of his control, he shrugs and accepts it and moves on.
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Jack is also a man of action. When he sees someone suffering, he’ll work to relieve it, whether it be a trapped baby bunny, an old hen who needs to be put out of her misery, or a helping someone move, he’s there to help. When the opportunity presents itself, he makes sure the kids recognize the opportunity, too, especially that they look out for each other. Accidentally throw a log out on your brother’s foot? How about learning how to properly carry someone who’s injured? Never know when they’ll need those first aid skills!
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Learning from their dad doesn’t stop at first aid. When Jack’s out tinkering in the garden or planting trees in the orchard, he employs the kids to help him, not to make it easier for him, but so the kids know how to garden and can reap the benefits of the harvest.
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The co-learning goes on and on and on. When Jack picked up soap-making during the pandemic, the kids were right there helping. He’s taught them how to cook, how to master game strategy, how to milk the cows. There’s no end to Jack’s insatiable need to learn and he’s inspired that in the rest of us, too.
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Talking strategy with Zoey and Peter during a game of hide and seek tag.

Something I’ve learned since being married is that I don’t have to know everything. Jack is our resident plant guy, and I take care of the animals. We overlap in some responsibilities, but for some of it, we’re very specialized and because of it, we’re able to maintain a beautiful balancing act that has allowed us to double our knowledge and expand our achievements.

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Another dichotomy is our approach to food. My main goal is to get food on the table as fast as possible, make sure everyone is getting a balanced meal, and get it cleaned up quickly so I can get out of the kitchen. Jack is a gourmand in every sense of the word, from the type of food that he cooks to the presentation. On the days he cooks, I am more than happy to step aside and let him take over. His dishes never disappoint.

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Homemade ramen, anyone?

I can’t help but laugh at some of the things Jack has become interested in since I’ve known him. He was into wrestling and ska music when we were younger, and now he has me pull over when he spots an edible mushroom outside of the car. His insatiable need to learn and try has brought to my attention how much there is to know. I don’t think Jack will ever get tired of stuffing his brain full of information.
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As much as Jack invests his time into improving himself, he might be even more conscious and supportive of my dreams and aspirations. He not only asks if I want to go have some time alone to write or exercise or be with the horses, he’ll also hook up the bike trailer (and test it out), keep the kids out of my hair when needed, and send me off with a kiss if I absolutely need time alone. He’s always on the lookout for my well-being and wants me to be the best version of myself, even if it cuts into time he could have been doing something for himself. It’s one way he spoils me that I appreciate greatly.

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Of all the things I love and admire about Jack is his ability to make just about anything enjoyable. Seriously. While I’m pulling my hair out, trying to get the kids to clean up after themselves or help me on the umpteenth project I’ve been working on during any given day, Jack can grab his tools and beckon them to follow with a wave of his hand. And they go. Maybe it’s because he’s not in a hurry like I seem to be. Maybe it’s because he lets them use power tools. Maybe it’s because he knows when to stop and have fun instead of work, work, work, like I do (apparently work isn’t as fun as swimming or getting rides in a cowhide). It’s something I definitely want to emulate and have been finding myself remembering to do on occasion.
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The day of Jack’s birthday was pretty lowkey. We had cake, but hardly any presents, because what do you get the guy who doesn’t want anything and already has so much? Not that he minded. Spending time with his family was all he requested and he got that in abundance. Okay, he get it every day, but on his birthday, all the attention is even more intentional.
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To say that we love Jack is a massive understatement, but there isn’t really another way to adequately summarize what he means to us. He’s bold yet sensitive, wise but goofy, faithful and devout but curious and intelligent, tall, dark and handsome, and all those other beautiful adjectives that could possibly describe a person. He’s my real life knight in shining armor and is the reason I’ve found my happily ever after. We count ourselves lucky that he’s our guy and that he loves us as much as he does. We want nothing more than his happiness and he reciprocates that desire for each of us. So glad we could celebrate another special day with him and are hoping for many, many more.
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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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