So we are Adopting!

Jen and I made the decision years ago that we wanted to adopt. This decision has shaped our journey for years, and now here we are with our long paperwork process with DCFS started. Jen wants you to know the trainings that feel circa 1990 have also started.

To answer some of your questions

  • We don't have kids in the house; nor will we anytime "soon" (Earliest? July 1)
    • Please explain to why thinking we have 3 months to get our shit together doesn't mean "soon" #facepalm
    • Please see our endless to do list that now all has to happen before July
    • Please send help
  • We wrote down that we would like to adopt older children, ages 3-12
    • This children are currently out in the foster care system somewhere, waiting for us! (To get our shit together)
    • They live in Illinois (most likely Champaign/Urbana area)
    • We are open to and have a high percentage of being placed with kids of color
    • We are open to and have a high percentage of being placed with siblings!
  • We wrote we would take up to 4 kids
    • Yes, I know this is insane (Now Nate will finally admit this)
    • The goal is not to get 4 kids at once, but we wrote 4 because we would never want to break-up sibling groups. (#twinlife)
  • Yes, we realize this is going to be hard (Isn't most parenting?)
  • No, we can't continue to live with only 1 car #momlife #trickmyvan
  • For the love of all things nice do not send us facebook posts of families in "need"

This is going to be difficult. We are going to be calling on our friends and family for support. But we are excited and as ready as we'll ever be.


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


Farm Update: March 2014

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Our little seeds have made huge progress. We've got them setup in our upstairs for warmth, and on our south facing window so they can catch that sun!

Been watering each morning with a little spray bottle to gently add water. We didn't properly soak the soil that we put into the biodegradable cups, so those seeds started later since they didn't have enough water. Lessened learned there: get all the soil moist before adding seeds.
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Remnants of The Fall: Garlic!

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Last fall we planted 44 gloves are garlic! Look at those little guys in the ground.

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And now look at these little suckers, they've made it through the winter and are already kicking butt this spring! They had to survive squirrel attacks and freezing cold weather, so it was no small task.

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Planting The Seed

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We got down to business and planted our seeds (most of them anyway)! Jen had it all organized out. Not to brag, but we did plant 144 onions. We had some seeds and they would have expired by next year.

We used this awesome calculator to figure out when to plant our seeds: http://awaytogarden.com/when-to-start-seeds-calculator/

But we planted regular amounts of:

  • Tomatoes
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Cosmos (flower)

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We got our seeds from Seed Savers and High Mowing Seeds this year

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A B C D E
1 Black Cherry Tomato SS Black Cherry Tomato SS Black Cherry Tomato SS Tomatillo Tomato SS Tomatillo Tomato SS
2 Cherokee Purple Tomato HM Cherokee Purple Tomato HM Cherokee Purple Tomato HM Cherokee Purple Tomato HM Cherokee Purple Tomato HM
3 Brandywine Tomato HM Brandywine Tomato HM Brandywine Tomato HM Brandywine Tomato HM Yellow Perfection Tomato HM
4 Sunkist F1 Tomato HM Sunkist F1 Tomato HM Sunkist F1 Tomato HM Yellow Perfection Tomato HM Yellow Perfection Tomato HM
5 Gold Medal Tomato SS Gold Medal Tomato SS Gold Medal Tomato SS Gold Medal Tomato SS Gold Medal Tomato SS
6 Dester Tomato SS Dester Tomato SS Dester Tomato SS Dester Tomato SS Dester Tomato SS
7 Black From Tula Tomato SS Black From Tula Tomato SS Black From Tula Tomato SS Black From Tula Tomato SS Ruby Red Chard HM
8 Emmy Tomato SS Emmy Tomato SS Emmy Tomato SS Emmy Tomato SS Ruby Red Chard HM
9 Cosomaut Volkov Tomato HM Cosomaut Volkov Tomato HM Cosomaut Volkov Tomato HM Cosomaut Volkov Tomato HM Ruby Red Chard HM
10 Ruby Red Chard HM Ruby Red Chard HM Ruby Red Chard HM Ruby Red Chard HM Ruby Red Chard HM
F G H I J
1 Orange Chard HM Orange Chard HM Orange Chard HM Orange Chard HM Orange Chard HM
2 Early Jalapeno HM Early Jalapeno HM Early Jalapeno HM Early Jalapeno HM Early Jalapeno HM
3 Jalapeno Traveler Strain SS Jalapeno Traveler Strain SS Jalapeno Traveler Strain SS Jalapeno Traveler Strain SS Jalapeno Traveler Strain SS
4 Broccoli HM Broccoli HM Broccoli HM Parsley HM Parsley HM
5 Jupiter Pepper HM Jupiter Pepper HM Jupiter Pepper HM Kinf of the North Pepper HM Kinf of the North Pepper HM
6 Ella Kropf Lettuce SS Ella Kropf Lettuce SS Evergreen Hardy Onions HM Evergreen Hardy Onions HM Evergreen Hardy Onions HM
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8
9
10
Onion Trays
A B C D
Red Wethersfeld SS Walla Walla HM Red Baron HM Gladstone HM

 


Farm Blog 2014: Getting Started

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I'll start from the start: dreaming! Jen and I had a date back in early February to plan our garden this year. This will be year 2 for us! So we took a lot of what we learned last year and built upon that. We ordered some new seeds and ordered more of old seeds. We dreamed of expanding and more of everything!

We also had some coffee and cinnamon rolls

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We are very excited to get started this year. Jen is an amazing little farmer, and together I feel like we can do anything and have an amazing garden this year.

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Polar Dash!

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Jen really hates running. But she is one of the strongest and most determined people I know. So that means we have fun doing some crazy races because if you're gonna run, better try and make it fun!

So we did the Chicago Polar Dash on January 11th, 2014. It was a 5k run around the Chicago Lake Front. It was indeed very cold. Jen took some cool selfies the whole way just because the person on the PA at the race said not too. Jen's a rebel.

We came in off very little training due to holiday travel and Jen getting a tatoo, so I was REAL SURPRISED when Jen finished the entire 5k!

As we made it past each mile marker I felt the excitement grow. After we were about 2 miles in I thought "We are gonna finish!"

I was so happy to be holding my partners hand as we finished. #ProudPartner

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Wicked Weekend

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I was expecting another weekend at home with nothing planned. It has been that way for 2 months as I was recovering from my jaw surgery. So when Jen picked me up from work on Friday afternoon I thought we were just going to the local park. Well, we drove PAST the park and before I knew it we were in Indianapolis!

Jen had the whole weekend planned and I had no idea! She had a Bed & Breakfast booked for us. We stayed just off Massachusetts Ave. We had a great dinner at Mesh and Mass, visited The Flying Cupcake and enjoyed a night with friends at Revolucion.

Jen told the Innkeeper that we were celebrating our marriage so she put flower peddles on the bed and wine in the room. The best part of the weekend was Seeing Wicked at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis. I had never seen the play before and it was absolutely fantastic! Jen knows me so well and she knew I'd love Wicked. I've been listening to the Wicked soundtrack since.

The next morning we went to the City Market where they had the winters farmers market and we scored some great bread, cheese and fresh apples. Then we had some fancy Crepes!

We also got to hang out with our friends in Indy. It was an awesome weekend that was completely unexpected but really needed after months of life not being normal. Jen and I thrive on adventures and experience together. So to go 2 months without that was very tough.


Nate's Jaw Surgery

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So it's been just over 4 weeks since I went into an 8 hour surgery. I remember laying in my hospital bed pre-surgery with Jen holding my hand. Next thing I knew I had no idea where I was and I was puking up blood.

Now I'm "eating" almost 2000 calories a day (tough on a liquid diet) and working full-time from home. It's been a long 4 weeks to get here.

The first 2 days was probably the toughest. I spent my first night in the hospital and it took quite a few hours until I really became cognizant. I kept dripping and coughing blood for the first week or so. Swallowing was very painful for the first 3 days (because of the breathing tube that was in my throat during surgery). I used a syringe to drink water 5ml at a time. It was pretty pathetic and real struggle to take in 500 calories for the entire first week.

But, there was a little setback. The day after the surgery the surgeon decided to bring me back a week later and have another surgery. This one was much less intense, only about 3 hours. They literally could not move my jaw any further. They pulled on it and it wouldn't go any further in the 1st surgery. So with the 2nd surgery they got it all just where they wanted it. This was tough because my body was already really weak from the 1st surgery and it's aftermath. But Jen and my mother-in-law Marykay were both there (For both surgeries) and they got me home just a few hours after that 2nd surgery and took care of me.

So I spent a couple weeks sleeping, watching movies and playing videos games. After that I was able to start working from home and get back into life. All of this while trying to increase my calorie intake. It took until about 3 weeks after the 1st surgery until I start getting over 1000 calories a day. Jen did an amazing job of always have new "foods" for me to "eat." Ensure, fresh juice from our juicer!, smoothie, chocolate almond milk, go-go squeeze (like applesauce). After a 3 weeks I graduated to scrambled eggs, yogurt, instant potatoes - anything I can eat without chewing.

I won't get full feeling back to my face for a few more weeks or months, and it will take about the same time for the swelling to finish going down. But I should be able to speak and eat somewhat normally starting the 2nd week of November!  So not long until life gets a little more normal!

Look at my face change over 30 days

Some Pictures from the events

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Here I am before the 1st surgery, not knowing how tough it was about to be. Luckily Jen was there
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MaryKay made the 4 hour drive down, stayed in a waiting room for 9 hours just to take care of her daugher and son-in-law. They don't come much better than that!
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Jen being with me every minute. I couldn't ask for a better life partner
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After surgery #2. By this time I was a pro and could take funny pictures.
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It was a tough surgery
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After a couple weeks I was strong enough to have some guests!

 


My Old Face

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The face I have now is about to be my old face. I have an underbite - it doesn't bother me much, but that's because I'm used to it. Since being with Jen, I realize I don't eat like a normal person; I use my tongue and lips when normal people would just use their teeth. There are quite a few dental/medical reasons, but the bottom line is I'm having jaw surgery.

Here are the facts since you probably want to know. The doctors are going to cut my jaw in 3 spots. They will cut my upper jaw off and split it in half to widen it. Then re-attach it just a little bit further ahead of where it was. My lower jaw will also be broken and straightened up a bit. Then some of the bone they cut off will be applied to my lower gum line where I don't have 2 teeth so I can get implants later. That's it!

So my top jaw is moving forward a bit, and my lower jaw is getting straightened up. Primary affects will be I will eat like a normal person, my teeth will come together and my teeth will wear more normally so overall dental health will be better. Side affects are I will breath better and be "more aesthetically pleasing" with more defined cheeks.

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Surgery is scheduled for the morning of Tuesday, September 17th. Surgery should last around 6 hours and I'll stay in the hospital for a day or 2. After that my head will swell and the swelling won't start decreasing until about 2 weeks later. I will be on a liquid diet for 6 weeks. If everything goes okay, I will not be wired shut. I will be off work for 3-4 weeks.

This is something I've had hanging over my head for years, so it will be nice to have it all done. I can't imagine going through this without Jen. She has taken care of me so much already (and I'm not even on my liquid diet yet!). She's the most caring person in the world!

- Nate


Smokey Mountains

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It's been a very busy semester for Jen and Me - we are both teaching (me at EIU, and she is student teaching at Windsor), I'm working my full-time job as a web developer, and Jen has been leading some great activism on our campus (mostly Jen). So we took a weekend off and went south for some hiking.

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The weather was great and the trails were pretty empty - so it was great. On day 1 were did the Rainbow Falls Trail since US 441 was closed, thus not allowing us to do the Mt. Le Conte Trail. Rainbow Falls was a great trail, the falls themselves were not that great, but hey, it's the journey that matters.

Day 2 we enjoyed the Laurel Falls Trail - which ended with a spectacular waterfall.

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Gatlinburg itself wasn't that appealing to Jen and I - but it was over-the-top touristy. It was like a state fair decided to make a town - and that's Gatlinburg. But the hiking was fantastic and the park rangers were cool (Jen loves park rangers).

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We also took a chance to put our feet up and snuggle.

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