Sunday, July 17, 2011

Camping and playing at Warren Dunes State Park

This week I spent a few days working down at our plant in St. Louis. I got home Thursday and just wanted to do something fun as a family. I talked Cindy into going camping (it was a pretty easy sell) and started looking for state parks were you could camp and swim. I found a couple but they were closed due to some recent storms that caused power outages. I found a handful that were around 2 ½ hours away, so we finally decided since we’d never camped in Michigan before that we’d head over to Warren Dunes State Park.
We’d called about camping and were informed that they had eight camp sites available that were first come first serve. When we arrived to the park we noticed nearly every sight was open with picnic tables and fire pits so we weren’t in a hurry to claim a spot but rather decided to go play on the sand dunes for a while.

Around 9:30 p.m. I found a pizza hut using the “places” app on my phone, called, and ordered a pizza. Assuming that I’d called the nearest one we pulled into pizza hut only to be informed that they didn’t have my order and that there were three pizza huts in the area. I called back to the number that I’d previously called to place my order and found out that I’d called a location in Wisconsin :) oops. We did, however, get a pizza ordered and ten minutes later we were on our way back to the park. When we got to the park we noticed the sign for the campsites pointing us down a road that we hadn’t previously noticed. We drove down to the office only to be informed that all the campsites were full :(. We drove down to a picnic table and ate our pizza and began calling hotels and other campsites.
After driving nearly 20 minutes to the closest Holiday Inn with an available room we found a campsite with an available spot so we turned around and drove another half hour to the campsite.

When it was all said and done we had a blast. Warren Dunes State Park is a beautiful spot with a bunch of large sand dunes and it sits right on Lake Michigan. We climbed the dunes and played in the lake for hours.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living in Naperville

Well we've been in Naperville for nearly a month now. I've been meaning to post a few pictures of our house and am finally getting around to it.

Dining Room

Entry room


Family Room

Master Bedroom

Cades Room

Kaitlyn & Sadies Room


View from the back

Back Yard

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Made it to Chicago

Well it's official, we live in suburban Chicago.... The movers came on 5/17 and put everything in boxes, them loaded everthing onto the truck on the 18th and on the 20th they were unloading everthing in our new house in Naperville.

We're renting a house in the SW part of Naperville Illinios and so far we like it. We really miss Knoxville but we have enjoyed exploring new parks, restraunts, and just exploring in general.

Cindys sisters (Camille & Cathy) flew out from Idaho to spend the week and her other sister (Chris) drove up with her family to spend the weekend. We met in Nauvoo and then came back up to our house and hung out. We had a great Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fishing and tornadoe relief

Last week was another typical non-stop week. Monday and Tuesday were work and house cleaning days :). On Wednesday I drove up to Haverhill Ohio for meetings Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday we did a little more house work and then went fishing with our neighbors the Herrings. Cade caught his first two fish ever (ok, Brooks caught the first one and then gave Cade the pole :), but he caught the second one all by himself).

Kaitlyn caught her first four fish ever and she had a blast doing it!

Sadie was a non-stop stress machine. She was running back and forth on the dock and I can't believe she never fell into the water.

She did decide that she wanted to fish also, she laid down and stuck Kaitlyns pole in the water and then dropped it :) Kaitlyn threw a fit and sobbed for a couple minutes and then she got over it.

We had soooooo much fun. I've never really liked fishing but that's primarily because I never caught anything :). It was so great to see Kaitlyn and Cade actually catch fish.

After fishing we all went out to Meksico for dinner and then I headed to Chattanooga to help with the cleanup after the tornadoes a couple weeks ago. We camped out on the stake center softball field and then woke up and drove to Cleveland TN where we used chain saws, bobcats, and good old fashioned labor to remove trees and debris from peoples yards. It's really amazing how much devastation mother nature can inflict. I've never really been around tornadoes before but they are absolutely devastating.

We worked all day Saturday and Sunday and finally got home about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday (Mothers Day). Luckily I'd sent Cindy a couple of nice Mothers day letters on Facebook and e-mail. Also, I called and asked Kaitlyn to get a package out of the downstairs closet and give it to her. It was a great week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chigago update and a great day

Well we made the decision a few weeks ago but we're going to move to Chicago. We went up to Chicago a couple weeks ago and found a place to live. Our new house is going to be in Naperville. We are pretty bumbed about leaving Knoxville. We've made so many great friends and absolutely fallen in love with the beauty and the culture of the South. We live in a great community and have awesome neighbors. We were trying hard to talk ourselves into being excited to move to Chicago the whole way up but I just wasn't really feeling it. I know that we'll be happy wherever we are and that we'll make friends and be happy but the thought of leaving Knoxville just really stinks right now.

However, when we went to our new ward we were greeted by a young couple that we'd met at the Chicago temple on our way home from Grandma Stoehrs funeral last year. They remembered us and were pretty excited that we were moving into the same ward. Then Cindy noticed a girl that looked like a girl she went to high school with. Sure enough it was her. We had a great day at church and it seemed like everyone in the ward came up to introduce themselves and tell us how excited they were for us to move in. Then after church we were invited to Sunday dinner by Cindys high school friend (I should remember her name but I don't right now :) I'll be reminded in a couple weeks) and they have kids the same ages as ours, it was so nice. It really helped us to reaffirm that the Lord loves us, knows us, and that his church is the perfect organization. It's amazing that anywhere you go you can feel Christs love and feel like you are home.

Yesterday I was planning on going to Chattanooga to help clean-up after the tornadoes. We got to the church and we were told that the service project had been postponed. The damage was so great that they were still searching for people and doing needs assessments. They weren't allowing people in yet. Matt Pulver and I decided to drive out to Loudon and help the branch president with some yard work since he'd injured his back a few weeks ago.

After we finished with the yard work we called around to line up a baby sitter and a canoe and we took our wives canoeing down the Tennessee river for a couple hours. If only we'd have thought to get them umbrellas to spin around as we rowed them down the river it would have been perfect :) But really, it was a great date in a GORGEOUS place on a beautiful day. After canoeing we went to Tommy Watsons birthday party. They had a ton of little kid games and also and arranged for ponies to give the kids rides. Then we got another baby sitter and went out the Archies BBQ, then went back home and had dessert and played 3-13 with the Sinks and Pulvers. It was such a fun day. I've been SO blessed with a fantastic family, wonderful friends, the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, and so many friends and family members that love, pray for, and support me. God truely is great and life is good.

China, India, St. Louis, Virginia, and the storm!!!

I've been typing up my missionary journal and I really appreciate being able to go back and read from when I wrote more regularly in my journal :) So much has happened the past few weeks. I've been to China (walked on the great wall and through the emperors tomb, been to Tianjin, Beijing, Hungzou, Shanghai, and Hong Kong), India again, and we're planning trips to Europe and Brazil in the very near future.

Last week I got to work Monday morning and I had a couple of voice messages and e-mails asking me to come to St. Louis for meetings. I packed up my laptop, drove home to get some clothes, and by 8:30 a.m. I was on the road. I got to the plant (Granite City) in time to work for a couple hours and call it a day. On Tuesday morning we took the company plane to Virginia for meetings. The wind was blowing pretty hard and I was working for most of the flight (a mistake in retrospect as I typically get motion sick). As we were getting ready to land the plane was getting blown around pretty hard and I actually thought the left wing was going to hit the runway before the wheels. At the last second the pilot pulled it around and we then pretty much locked up the brakes at the end of the runway. Then as we were driving to the plant I got really sick and was pretty pathetic during the whole meeting. At dinner I couldn't even sit still in the restaurant. I went out and laid down on the side walk. After about 45 minutes I finally thew up about three days worth of meals and finally felt better.

We flew back the St. Louis on Wednesday morning and flew over a HUGE green and red blotch on the radar. I didn't think that much of it at the time and we ended up working until after 8 p.m. As we were leaving I checked facebook and noticed that there were tornado warnings in Knoxville. I became glued to the news and it ended up that the worst tornadoes in over 50 years passed through the South and killed over 320 people. Cindy and the kids were safe but it was a pretty scary experience, especially with me gone. Now we're getting ready to spend time in Chattanooga starting the cleanup effort next week.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

As we drove home from church I was asking Kaitlyn what she had learned today. She talked about Jesus being resurrected which led me to ask her if Jesus was still alive. She responded that he was and he appeared to Marry. I told her that was so awesome and asked what he said to her to which Kaitlyn replied, "behold, it is me, Jesus". I smiled and we talked about how great that would have felt. Then we talked about how when we are out looking for our eggs and Easter gifts that we can remember Marry who went to look for Jesus and how good she must have felt when she found him.

Then I asked Cade what he's learned at church. He got all choked up and said, "I can't remember all those things sister said." :) It was so funny. Cindy and I laughed most of the way home. As we were nearing the house we were talking to Cade and he said, "hey, I got this sticker at church today. It says to be quiet and listen but I just want to take it off and throw it in the garbage. Can I?" Yeah, we laughed the whole way home.

We just got home and sent the kids on their traditional scavenger hunt for their Easter baskets. I hid charades clues around the house and they went from clue to clue until they found their baskets. It was great! Even Sadie found her clues. She got a little distracted however by the clues. The clue on her bike made her want to ride her bike. The clue by the bananas made her want to eat bananas. But when she finally found her basket she was extremely happy. It's been a great day already.

I'm so grateful for the Savior and for the knowledge that I have that he died for us and rose the third day. He wants all of us to repent, give our burdens to him, follow his example in all that we do. He has promised that if we will follow him with all our hearts that through him we may also be resurrected and return to live with him and those we love for all eternity. I'm grateful for the peace that I feel in knowing that I have a father in heaven that knows me, cares for me, and is willing to walk with me giving comfort and guidance whenever I am humble enough to ask. I wish I was better at sharing what I know with others. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so rewarding and there truly are no questions that can't be answered here and now. Happy Easter everyone!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Job update

Last week my boss came to me with a revised offer to go to Chicago. While it still isn't what I think it should be it was significantly better than it started out. Originally the offer was a 7% cost of living increase + relocation + a one time 40% bonus. The latest (and I've been told it's the final offer, but I still believe there's a little more wiggle room :)) offer is the same except for the cost of living increase is 25% (the one time 40% bonus is based on the base salary so it went up 18% too). He asked me to have my response by Friday (I've been dragging this whole negotiation thing out since early November :) and everyone else has either said yes, no, or already taken new jobs).

I went to talk with him and told him that I had some serious concerns about moving to Chicago. I talked to him about going to work at our plant in Granite City (East St. Louis), Bob Huffman (a project manager for plant capital projects) asked me to come work for him as an assistant construction manager. If I did that the cost of living in St. Louis is ~5-6% cheaper than Knoxville, plus I'd be on per diem which is ~$35K per year so even if I didn't get a raise (which I should if they made me an ACM), I'd be getting a $40-45K per year raise. I figure that would be a pretty dang good raise :). Also, I've been wanting to get into management and also get some more field experience (this would take care of both).

He told me that he'd prefer that I went to Chicago but he was glad that I had come up with another option to stay with the company and told me that he'd support me in whatever decision that I made.

Since I still didn't know the details of moving to St. Louis (salary, duration, job description, etc.) I sent an e-mail asking him if I could have the weekend to think about it. He responded that that would be fine and also told me that Jacobs Engineering was coming in to interview people. They have worked out an arrangement to hire some people that won't relocate to Chicago and make them available to work on SunCoke work for a period of time and then they would transition to Jacobs project work. He told me that he knew I had concerns with moving to Chicago and if I wanted to pursue this option I had his permission. He said he'd prefer to keep me with the company but that if we want to stay in Knoxville this may be a good option for me.

On Tuesday some Jacobs people came by and gave us the recruiting speech followed by a tour of their offices in Oak Ridge. A few of us have interviews set up in Greenville SC on Tuesday and then the expectation is that offers will be made by the end of the week. They want our responses by 3/18 and then we would start with Jacobs the beginning of April.

In the middle of all this I'm going to China and India from 3/13 until 4/1, so basically if I take the job with Jacobs this next week will be my last week working with SunCoke, or at least in the SunCoke office.

It's nice to have a few options. Each of the options has its pros & cons but some options are better than no options.

One thing about working for Jacobs that might be good is that they told me that they have a huge project coming up in Idaho in the next year or two. If I was working with them I could probably just transfer out there and then we'd be moving closer to family with a job waiting. I'm not exactly sure about the timing of that whole thing but it could end up being great for us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday in the Smokies

This was such a great Saturday! We started out letting the kids play for a little while in the neighborhood. Cade is obsessed with fishing right now (guess I'd better get into it and figure out how to catch a fish). He grabbed a stick and probably spent a half hour pulling a leaf out of our neighbors pond and had a blast doing it :)

Then we packed a lunch, through the kids bikes in the van and headed towards the Smokies. We found a park with a bike trail loop and Cade went around and around and around.

We had a great picnic.

I love the Smokies. I dream of having a small farm someday so that my kids can experience a few of the things I did growing up. Everywhere I drive back here it's like one big gorgeous ideal farm after another.

We found a cool swing bridge over by Townsend that the kids thought was pretty cool and Cindy reminded me that she wouldn't enjoy the big tree top tours :)

What a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Luke 22:44

Yesterday we had a youth temple trip to do baptisms for the dead. We had 41 youth from our ward. During the introduction a member of the temple presidency talked about Luke 22:44. He said that we are all familiar with Luke chapter 2, we read it every Christmas, but without Luke chapter 22, Luke 2 wouldn’t have mattered. It would have just been another story about a regular man born in very unfortunate circumstances.

In Luke 22:44 it says that Christ was “in an agony”. It sounds strange “an agony” he said. We would probably say that he was in agony. But being in “an agony” is something totally different than being in agony. He said that “an agony” is what they called the battles that the gladiators were in when they were forced to fight to the death. He asked who he was in a battle with and talked about the war in heaven and how Satan had waged a war with Christ. Then he asked us if he was in a fierce battle, was there ever really a chance that Christ would lose? He went on to explain that in verse 43 the battle was so fierce that an angel needed to come to strengthen him. Then in John 19:30 when he declared “it is finished” he was declaring victory to Satan. He was stating that the “agony” or the battle was over.
He had won, he was ready to return to the presence of his Father.

I love receiving new insights into the scriptures. This was another wonderful reminder that Christ is my Savior and that he did overcome all. He atoned for my sins and I too can return to live with him again if I will just believe and be faithful.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Life is great. I'm sitting here watching the kids take a bath while my sweet wife cooks dinner. I was able to work out today making it four times for the second week in a row. I've been doing really good on all my goals (other than starting a business) :). They're still negotiating with me at work to go to Chicago and I've also been talked to about St. louis. We'd really like to move west and be closer to family but financially that may not be the best option. Works been good, I'm supposed to be in Greenville SC this week and then China for two weeks in late February.
Cindy is getting ready for another baby so I guess I should too :) No news yet but I'm sure in the next few months we'll have an announcement :)
I truly am blessed!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow in TN, another party for Kaitlyn, still working on the decition

It has snowed more this week than we've ever seen in Knoxville. We got ~4 inches last Sunday evening, then more on Monday and Tuesday. It has snowed each of the years we've been here but it usually melts the same day or at the very most it has stayed until the next day. This week there has been snow all week. There is still snow in our front yard now a week later. We took the kids sledding on Monday and Tuesday at a park just down the road from our house. Cade just grabbed a sled and went down the hill before anyone could even talk to him about it. Sadie was giggling the whole time. I sent her down by herself and she LOVED it. Luckily Cindy was at the bottom and was in the perfect position to catch her as she tumbled off the sled.

Our neighbors brought us over an awesome cardboard house that the kids can color on. They've spent hours coloring the shingles, the windows, the walls both inside and out. Thank you Herrings!!

Kaitlyn begged us for months to have a party in Tennessee with her friends too. We let her invite everyone she wanted, and she did. She had kids from our neighborhood, her primary class, and her pre-school class. There were 18 kids in all. Cindy did a great job coming up with things for them to do. They made snow globes, igloos out of marshmallows, did treasure hunts in snow, and played a dress-up game kind of like musical chairs. Kaitlyn LOVED it.

Cade had been pleading to sleep on the top bunk and I kept telling him to wait until after Kaitlyns party. So Friday night we switched the mattresses and he slept until almost 10 a.m. Saturday morning. He said that he really loved the top bunk.

Last night we had the Pulvers and the Herrings over. The guys offered to watch the kids while the girls when shopping. We had taco night and then the women ended up just hanging out and talking down stairs. After a while Cindy came in to tell me that Kaitlyn & Devin were holding hands and that I should talk to her. I told her that she was not old enough to hold any boys hands except mine. She said, "but dad, I'm really falling in love with Devin" :). She returned to the show and said, "Devin, my dad said that I can't kiss you or hold your hand any more until I'm older." Then he said, "yeah, my dad said the same thing." It was pretty funny.
Then today during sacrament meeting Cade was standing with his hand on the bench in front of us when a little girl reached up and held his hand. They sat there smiling at each other for about two minutes just holding hands on top of the bench. Dang kids take after their mom :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

December 2010

I plan on doing a much better job of posting this year but in a half hearted attempt at reviewing December we went to Washington DC and then Idaho for Christmas. In DC we went to the temple a few times, a couple Smithsonian museums, the White House, the Washington Monument, Arlington Cemetery, the the Lincoln Memorial.
In Idaho we had a great time with our families. My mom and dad came up, we had Kaitlyn's 5th birthday party, went skiing at Kelly Canyon, went sledding in Blackfoot, had our annual parents only party at Boyd & Leann's, and played a whole lot of games with both families. We hit an ice storm West of St. Louis on our way out, we went to a couple of Jacoby's basketball games and one of Heidi's. We did the cinnamon challenge (see who can eat one table spoon of cinnamon the fastest) at the Prices house and then again at Corri's). Josh and Tommy and I also stood outside in the snow while Jason sprayed us with a hose as a test of Josh's manhood for his 16th birthday party :)
We had a great trip. It is always a great time getting together with family.

Nate's New Years Resolutions

Originally this family blog was intended to be used as a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Facebook has pretty much taken over that function and so I'm going to start using this blog more as a personal/family history. For those of you who check in semi-regularly I appreciate it and you're welcome to continue doing so as I do always appreciate comments. I'm starting out the year with a brief review of last years goals and making a new resolution to achieve more this year. I've spent some time developing a brief list of goals, timing for each, an action plan for accomplishing each, and a success metric for each. Last year I had many of the same goals (as I frequently do) and as always I did better on some than on others.

1. Put God first
1.1. Attend the temple 12 times. If we don’t have other plans we’ll go on the 3rd Friday of each month.
1.2. Study the scriptures for at least 30 minutes daily. On the days I go to the Y I’ll read after, if not, then I’ll get up at 6 a.m. to study.
1.3. Take time to pray earnestly both morning and evening. Before scripture study and bed.
2. Family second
2.2. Take Cindy on a weekly date. Saturdays if we haven’t done something meaningful before that.
2.3. Have FHE weekly. Cindy and I will rotate being in charge of the lessons.
2.4. Get back to the family blogs and encourage siblings on both sides to post regularly. Get blogs bound as Christmas gifts for parents and in-laws.
2.5. Dishes & laundry. On Saturdays if I haven’t done them prior.
3. Others Third
3.1. Invite 5 people to read the Book of Mormon, come church & hear the discussions. I’ve done a decent job in the past but I’d like to have a more inspired approach and then I’d like to include the experiences in my journal which I haven’t been real good at doing lately.
3.2. Read the entire Book of Mormon & keep up with Sunday school / Priesthood lessons. Start the week (M/T ) studying the priesthood manual in preparation for my lesson, then (W/Th) study the Sunday school lesson, and finally (F/S/S) read from the Book of Mormon).
4. Self Fourth
4.1. Have a career plan
4.1.1. Start by making a decision about going to Chicago or searching for a new job. Spend time each week looking for a new job that would get us closer to family and be something that will be fulfilling for me to pursue in the future.
4.1.2. Start a business on the side. Spend a few hours each week working on side jobs and pondering potential self employment opportunities. I love working with people and need to have a career where I feel I can have a positive influence on others. I’d like to be meeting more people and not spend as much time in the office. I need to feel that my efforts make a difference both in the company and for others.
4.2. Get out of debt and keep to a budget. Always done a pretty good job living within our means but this year if we move we’ll not be buying another house until we can pay for it. Also, need to get in the habit of stretching ourselves to save more than what is comfortable.
4.3. Write in my journal at least once a week. Sunday during nap time.
4.4. Exercise regularly (4x per week)
4.4.1. Get down to 200 lbs (need to lose 2lbs per month)
4.4.2. Run a marathon in the fall
4.5. Finish typing missionary journal and begin inserting pictures into my life history.
4.6. Start the outline of a book.

My intent is to get in the habit of doing the most important daily/weekly things again so that next year my goals can be a little more stretching. I do however realize that I need to revive some very important habits first :)