Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26, 2014 - It's been a while!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all.  It has been a long time indeed, but I promise I have a good excuse ... yes, I am finally done with my dissertation after a successful defense of the 139 pages of goodness.  So, I guess that means I have more time to type now, but for this time, I think I might just do a 4 month review in pictures ... hope you enjoy!
   Graduation week with a successful dissertation defense, hooding ceremony and about 20 family members plus friends joined for a great weekend.  O yea, and I hung out with my buddy at graduation, Dougy McBuckets McDermott, Mr. All America:)        Thanks to all the family and friends that came over the Omaha and hung out, even the trip to the zoo:)    O yes, and to add to the awesome of the weekend, I also received word that in addition to successfully defending my dissertation, I was selected as one of five International Greenleaf Scholars for my research on Servant Leadership ( which includes a chance to present at the international conference next year and $2,500 to further my research.  Then, just a week before my dissertation defense, I got word that my proposal to present at the International Leadership Association Conference this fall in San Diego was accepted ... pretty exciting times:)
O yea, the Duck has been pretty awesome as well.  We just finished up with our Employee Appreciation Week, a full five days of just having a blast with my teams from luau parties and limbo to tacky Tuesday dress up contests and dance-offs, it was the best week of EAW ever.  Pretty special to work for a great company like this I must say!!

This is also the year of the concert for Jenny and I.  We started off the year with a comedy show, but then got into the music in a big way with the Lady Antebellum concert with Kip Moore.  It was an awesome performance and just a great appetizer for the Dave Matthews Band, Linkin Park and yes, Justin Timberlake performances coming up over the next couple of months ... pretty stoked, and yes, we always manage some good seats ... yes, that's Jenny hangin' with her friends:)
We also had a pretty fun trip back home during the winter where I got to see my brother Blake do an absolutely amazing job during show choir.  My sister Steph and I even got to say hey to our old show choir director Westy!  On the trip back home we also had some fun in the snow with our nieces and nephews, walking on frozen water is always fun, unless you fall in right Jeff!?:)  Speaking of falling in, this year marked a new workout endeavor with some buddies when we competed in the Spartan race in Marchish.  It was about 5 miles and 15 obstacles full of awesome, minus the rain and chilly weather.  I think I am hooked now and am looking for other events in the area!!

We have had a blast with our friends this year too celebrating birthdays in Columbia and visiting our ol' Iowa pals in Charleston.  It was great to see the Funke family down South I must say.  Then Jenny and I were honored by our good friends the Demkos when they asked us to be the godparents for their first-born Sadie.  Ok, well maybe they didn't ask, Sadie actually sent us a text ... so talented at such a young age.  It was a truly humbling opportunity and an amazing baptism for our friends indeed!

The volunteer front has amazing as well when Jenny and I were able to join some pals for the Camp Kemopalooza event for some dancing and FUNdraising.  Even more fun though was the planning and execution of the 1st Annual Time for Art event in Columbia, SC.  I felt honored to bring this event to the young professionals of Columbia where we raised over 2,600 hours of volunteerism in one night ... you'll have to check out the video to see the amazing eve:) 
Just last week when we went back to the Midwest for graduation, Jenny and I had fun visiting with our family and friends to make some great memories at the trampoline park and playing rock-em sock-em robots.  It is always great to see all of the great things our family is doing from Steph's new master's educational endeavor, to Blake finishing up his Junior year of high school (holy schnikes) to Ethan's birthday and Addison's dance recital.  So many great things happening I must say.
Welp, that is about all I could handle in a matter of four months, but it feels good to be back on the blog scene.  Thank you again to my family for all of their encouragement over the last couple years as I finished up this educational endeavor, to my friends for always being there to give me a break from studies and have fun and to the most supportive person I know, Lincoln the Labradoodle ... o yea, and my wife Jenny ... really appreciate all the support you have given me:)
Alwayz, Nate

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ahh, a Southern Snow Day - January 29, 2014

Hey there, hi there and hello there from snowy South Carolina - a couple inches of the powdery stuff has shut down the city, so we all get a bonus snow day to just hang out!  It was a great closeout to 2013 and has been a fun start to 2014.  Naturally, 2013 wouldn't be complete with our Top 10 of 2013 video recap, so hope you enjoy the good times had in the Klein household this past year:
We had a fun trip home for the holidays with a flurry of six Christmas celebrations in the matter of just a few friends which made for great times with family and friends.  Santa made an appearance at the Bridgewaters in Blairstown, tasty food in Shueyville, fun games in Manchester and sledding in Cedar Rapids, all the makings of a small-town Iowa holiday.  When we were packed and about ready to leave, I heard someone running down the stairs only to notice that Becca had packed a bag ... for what, at the time I did not know until I was informed of a plan that had just been made 5 minutes prior to have a visitor join us for the ride home:)  It was fun to have another traveler to round out the holiday visit.
O yea, then literally two days later I get a call from Jenny on my way home from work asking if I could get the next day off.  Unfortunately could not, but her plan that she and Becca devised in the last hour to go to NYC for New Year's Eve seemed like a good one.  So, January 30th about 4 hours after the idea was hatched, Jenny, Becca and Meg all hopped in the Rav4 to make their way to NYC for the big Time Square ball drop, and yes, they got to hang with Seacrest, crazy girls!
Aflac has been quite busy indeed as the 4Q into January with our quality and other teams.  Over the last couple of weeks I also took on a new role managing the day to day activities of our new business area, so it has been a fun whirlwind of learning and presentations on how we are going to close out our year, yahoo!  I enjoy a crazy day every now and again to get the juices flowin', but it makes it so much easier when you have great people on the team, which I am thankful for indeed:)
We also had our quarterly volunteer activity at the Duck where we pulled in over 125 stockings for less fortunate children in the midlands and stacked boxes for Salvation Army's gift give-a-way, it helped put a new perspective on all we have indeed.  Then, I found out my reading buddy Mykel not only was the top reader in October for his grade for books, but in November and December he was the top in the grade for words read again, pretty rewarding feeling indeed.  The Time for Art event is heating up too as it's just right around the corner on Thursday, April 3.  I have secured a few pieces of art and hope to get some more in the coming weeks.
We have had a lot of fun already in 2014 with New Year celebrations with friends and even a comedy show in town.  Jeff Dunham is one of my favorite comedians, so being able to laugh through his show was a blast, and a good ab workout:)  Then, just a couple weeks ago Jenny and I joined another 8 of our friends up in the NC mountains for a weekend of relaxation and good times.  Let's just say for the couple Olympics, team 'Merica pulled out the victory and we had a blast with our friends just hanging out without a care in the world.  This epic weekend was followed by our very own DIY plumbing experiment where we successfully saved about $400 takin' care of business, hilarious fun indeed:)
Almost forgot, about two weeks ago I was able to successfully propose my dissertation to my committee which was a great step to have done in the process.  I received some great feedback to help me as I go forward with my research and the final 40ish pages.  It's looking like maybe an August dissertation defense now as I add a few things to my topic to make it a bit more relevant, good times indeed.
Welp, Lincoln and I are going to take a nap or maybe watch a movie because there is literally nothing on the 3 stations we get during a work week:)  Hope all continues well for everyone and that 2014 has started off wondermously!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

the holidays have begun, and they rock ~ December 8, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all with a happy holidays to each one of you.  It's been quite the last month and a half with a birthday, anniversary, visitors, some running, baking and everything in between.
A trip to the mountains for our 2nd anniversary was fun as we headed to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, quite the change for an anniversary celebration as it compared to Las Vegas last year:)  We had fun relaxing in our moutaintop cabin with Lincoln and then visited all the little towns that were surrounding.  Some mountain climbing and fishing along with some tasty food along the way made for a memorable 2nd year celebration together!
Jenny and I have been trying to stay in shape in this chilly (ok, chilly is relative now that our blood has thinned out in the South) weather.  In November, we joined up with our pal Alan to run a local 5K at the Main Street Crit.  We joined a few of our pals as well over the last nine weeks for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  It was great to take some time to learn about budgeting and finances with friends ... working hard to act our wage:)
The Duck has been pretty amzing this last month as well with our 4Q kicking up and some fun activities.  One of the best days of the year is Bonus Day, yes, pretty awesome company I work for that still gives their employees a chance to contribute to the profit sharing bonus where our leadership team brought everyone together to talk about the importance of their contributions and how it will impact their families as I know it's impacted ours big time!  Then less than a week later we had a great time with our first rendition of the chili/bake off up at Aflac Group.  Now if some of you may recall, just five years ago I was part of the cellar dweller group at the bottom of our chili cookoff and now I am proud to say, that of the nine entrants, this guy came out as the victor with the Shueyville Sweetness chili.  To top it off, I finished tied for 1st in the bake off as well with a angel food cake with some tasty strawberry spread, so tasty and an amazingly fun group of people to work with!  O yes, and then just last week had the crew and their spouses over for some food, fun and games with a great dirty santa exchange a tthe end with some laughs, they make it fun to go to work!
Thanksgiving was great this year as we had some some family join for the holiday.  After a 16 hour, two day excursion, the crew arrived in SC just in time for a home made meal.  Thanksgiving day grub was pretty wondermous thanks to Jenny after we drove around the city checking out the capital's Christmas tree and taking some goofy pictures with little Lincoln.  We had fun watching the ol' Hawkeyes at the local pub pull off a victory and played lots of cards before a final day full of holiday decorating both inside and out.  Thanks for great visitors to help us celebrate, made it pretty special indeed:)
For the last month and a half I have been working on the ol' dissertation for Creighton and just today eclipsed the 40 page mark!  It's been fun to see the progress on the paper and have had some good discussion with my committee.  On the volunteer front, my reading buddy Mychel was the top reader in 1st grade for his school last month, a pretty proud moment indeed.We're gearing up for the holidays and a fun 16 hour trip back to Iowa for hopefully a white Christmas with about 6 awesome celebrations amidst a sledding excursion hopefully.  Hope you all have great holidays indeed!
Alwayz, Nate

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall has begun - October 14, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there during this wonderful fall evening.  What a last month and a half it has been in the Klein household, I think Lincoln would agree with Jenny and I that September was pretty awesome!
To start off the fun, we, as grown adults (without kids) went to Walt Disney World ... yes, the happiest place on Earth with our friends Tyler and Lucia.  I haven't been in a good six years, so it was a treat to go there and enjoy food, fun and friendship.  We started off with the Animal Kingdom and a fun safari in the wilderness.  We walked into the park, fanny packs in tow, very giddy about the adventures ahead.  The Lion King show was by far the highlight for me throughout the park as my favorite Disney movie, classic!  Then it was off to Epcot for some tasty food in France, character sightings to include my all time favorite Tigger and a ride on Test Track.  We had a blast just walking around all of the countries and ended the evening with a Moroccan dinner and epic light show.
Saturday brought us to Disney Hollywood where we trekked first to the Tower of Terror, where I think Lucia literally bit my arm in fright!  My favorite Disney ride was next, the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster, so amazing.  Yes, Jenny and I did share a turkey leg, because when you're in Disney, well you have to do that.  More autographs were had, and then we experienced Indiana Jones and the Lights/Motors/Action extravaganza after we stopped by Pizza Planet for a Toy Story pizza lunch.  Saturday night brought some tasty Mexican grub at Downtown Disney for a nice walkabout.
The next day we started off with a character breakfast, yes, we were the only adults without children at the Goofy, Pluto and Minnie character breakfast:)  Sunday was also Magic Kingdom day where we were greeted with a memorable middle of the street parade with some classic characters.  A ride through the Braer Forrest with Tyler down Splash Mountain, the laugh floor for Monster's Inc and a Buzz Lightyear shoot-em-up adventure made for a great day of character sightings, gift shopping and sight-seeing.  That night we had a scrumtrulescent meal at a hibachi joint where the waiter literally made me my own pitcher of splemonade, quite honestly the happiest place on Earth.  It was a great time with great people with Mr. Potato Head shopping, Disney date nights and so
much laughter our bellies ached.
Then just a few weeks later we hopped on an airplane to go see our friends Eddie and Jen get married in Boston.  We met up with some ol' friends from Columbus/Columbia for a Duck tour on the land/water, a visit to Cheers (where they knew everyone's name:) and a walking good time in the city.  Jenny had an extra good time with friends during rehearsal and the wedding day brought many good times as a groomsman.  We had a blast at the photo shoot and the ceremony was picturesque on the bay in Boston, a great celebration of two awesome folks.  That night, we tore up the dance floor that ended with a tie on Jenny's head and myself getting hurt doing dance moves, remind me not to do the splits again!  It was a great celebration that went well into the evening after some JT in the streets:)
The rest of the weekend was spent touring a wonderfully historic city.  We started with the Freedom Trail walk throughout the city which led to Mike's Bakery for a cannoli, lunch in Little Italy and a visit to Fenway Park.  That night we had a ped bike ride and went to the top of the Prudential building for a great nightcap of a wondermous city.

The next week marked the Augusta Half Ironman, yes, 70.3 miles of working out all in one day.  Jenny and I trained together for five months, and while she wasn't able to join me for the workout, her and Lincoln were the best fans a guy could ask for.  It started with a brief 1.2 mile swim in the 69 degree water, luckily it was with the current, so I did way better than I thought I would after not being able to swim for 6 weeks with a cast:)  Next was the 56 miler on the bike, which I unfortunately didn't have a functioning spedometer to know my pace, so I was bookin' it a bit too fast which caught up with me on the run.
After about mile 9 on the run, both legs started cramping up and heel walk/jogging took place for the rest of the 13.1 miles.  With a goal of finishing around 6.5 hours, my time of 6 hours 38 minutes made me feel very accomplished in addition to not finishing last in my age bracket in any of the legs of the race, a big day full of salty goodness!
Back at the Duck, it's been pretty awesome.  Did I mention I have an awesome team that allows me to have a great day pretty much every day, and fun!?  We started Aflac Group's first Toastmaster club with over 70 people at the first meeting and the most engaging charter members of any club I have been affiliated with, it's been pretty amazing.  In addition, we put on a mentoring session and an Expo to improve employee engagement while also completing our first Aflac Group United Way campaign raising over $25,000 in year one with over 10% participation, beating our goals.
The work is going great too between our PIC, Quality and Escalation teams.  The leadership of these teams really helps to make the job awesome, and to reward my direct reports we decided to go offsite for a team building excursion to the National Whitewater Center for some high rope courses, white water rafting and fun.  It was an absolute blast and so well deserved for a group that truly make our teams click.  Just this last week, my boss took all of his direct reports back to the Whitewater Center for business execution meetings and team building.  Great times at Dave n Busters, PF Changs and amidst a canopy tour helped us to bond and focus on the crazy 4Q ahead and busy 2014 on the horizon.  Sadly through all this, we also had to say goodbye to our friend Lena whom passed away just over a month after she retired from Aflac.  She was very wise and one that walked quietly, but when she spoke, everyone listened ... she will be missed dearly.
Outside of work homework continued with the studies at Creighton.  At the beginning of September, I turned in my first chapter of the dissertation.  I've gotten some great feedback and am now waiting on my dissertation chair for some more direction before I move forward.  This week marks the last in my fall term 1 course and to date through this program, I have typed more than 115,000 words ... holy schnikes!!
Well, it's birthday eve and I am about to hop on the grill to make some grub with Lincoln.  October is another great month with a birthday and anniversary surprise that Jenny has up her sleeve, can't wait:)  Hope you all have a great start to the fall and make the most of life!