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!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What a great summer!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all. What a cool summer it has been, literally and figuratively. South Carolina has had the collest summer in decades rarely getting over 100, which has been nice! While we have had a good bit of fun with travels and visitors to boot, July kicked my butt ... literally with a nice fall off my bike while training 17 miles away from home, then a broken hand playing soccer followed up by a biff off my stationary bike!
The Duck has seen its fair share of shakeup with a new Chief Operating Officer here at Aflac Group starting tomorrow, should be fun! Our teams have been rockin' and rollin' amidst a busy business planning season which has led to numerous heel clicks in the hallway succeses:) Our Fun Friday activities continue every week and Music Mondays are in full swing with a new playlist entitled, O No You Didn't Nate, featuring Gwen Stefani, Miley Cyrus and N'SYNC of course:) Hard to believe it's been five months up at Group, but I couldn't be happier with such a great team that make all the hours at work not seem so much well, like work! We also started our mentoring progeam up in Columbia called TEACH, which is basically a classifieds for mentees/mentors to help connect employees throughout the company to opprtunities to learn and grow, a great way to spend my "other duties as assigned:)"
So the volunteer front has been pickin' up a bit too, mostly with United Way. A couple months ago I reached out to the United Way to see if we could organize an event and last Saturday we held our 1st Annual Aflac Groupo Day of Action where over 40 Aflac employees, family and friends volunteered at four different sites throughout the Midlands, including my wife, mom and sister:) I also joined the steering committee for Young Leader Society on the volunteer committee, and they loved the Time for Art idea, so hopefully get to present it in the coming weeks and pull off for the Spring! Jenny has also been rockin' the volunteer action making nearly 50 Courage Capes for children with cancer at the hospital she works at, pretty inspirational I must say!
Mom and Steph also joined for an amazingly wonderful weekend full of sun, pool action and some travel.  We played a lot of cards, even in the pool (thanks Tracy:)  After the volunteer action we visited the local farmers market and some sushi before our Sunday excursion to Charleston.  We had fun driving down to the historic city on a great historic carriage ride through the city.  Tasty seafood and a stop to the Atlantic so Steph could stick her toes in for the first time, always great to have visitors!!
Jenny's birthday week was in full swing during August with a surprise visit to the ATL for the Bodies Exhibit, Cheesecake Factory and a concert with our good pals the Demkos, fantacular good time.  O, and then this past weekend we had the chance to go to the Childrens' Trust benefit gala where we boogied on the dance floor and Jenny dominated yet another silent auction.
The ol' doctorate is hummin' along as well as I just finished one of my last elective courses in HR leadership. I actually had a whole week off, so I have started on the dissertation Chapter 1, one page at a time is the motto.  While I have that goin' on, we're also still training for the half-ironman the end of September.  Today marked our longest workout, 2 hours on the bike and a six mile run, feelin' it a bit I must say.  While training is OK, I think I prefer some soccer or other sport that doesn't include hills and has substitutions:)
This next month is going to be pretty awesome I must say starting this week at Aflac, we are finishing up our United Way campaign and are on target to hit our 10% participation goal, fingers crossed.  Then I get my cast off this Thursday (thank goodness) which is also the day Jenny and I voyage down to the happiest place on Earth, Disney World with Tyler and Lucia, going to be epic.  Then a trip to Boston for a wedding followed by our 6.5 hour workout for the Ironman, I'm already tired, I should probably go to bed:)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ahhh, gotta love summer! - June 30, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all enjoying the summer fun!  Cannot believe the year is halfway over, where did that time go?  It has been a pretty fun month full of good times at work, visitors, trips and even some relaxation:)
It's that time at the Duck, yup business planning indeed.  Like I told my wife, a good part of my job has become a professional story-teller to help folks see where we're headed and why.  I really think that colleges and universities need to start teaching the art of building a story and how to turn ordinary information into extraordinary.  Speaking of awesome, the whole team started the month giving back at the local foodbank packing over 300 boxes for the community during our quarterly team building/volunteer gathering.  It's always fun to get out in the community, sweat a little and give back outside the walls.  O yes, and fun Fridays took a new look with
The start of the month was wondermous with some great visitors from Iowa.  The Urells, Fishers and even a Bridgewater joined the Klein Hotel for max capacity at 10 people:)  We had fun eating lots of food, hanging out by the pool and chasing the dog around the house with the boys.  Then we ventured over to the water at Myrtle Beach for a family getaway building sand castles, riding on a massive ferris wheel and yes, dressing up like we're in the 20's, Native American's and the Colonial times.  Thanks for the family for making the trip, it was a blast. 
Then, just this weekend we had a visit from our good friends the Demkos.  With just a couple months left before baby Mercedes, Jenny did some great work on a pretty sweet blanket (and yes, she used a plate to measure, hilarious).  We had some nice relaxation, delicious food and fun by the pool with some friends.  Having a weekend sleepover with some great peeps, what a great end to the month indeed!!
Speaking of my wife's mad skills, we found a great use for them in making some Courage Capes for the hospital she works at ( She already found 11 recipients of the capes and next week she's going to start making them for Palmetto's Children Hospital, pretty awesome she is I must say!
O yes, and we visited the Dominican Republic for a fantacular funky wedding for the Funke family:)  Ryan and Melissa had a great wedding on a glorious all-inclusive resort, I think I'm still full.  It was probably the most relaxing time I've been a part of with more sleep than I'm used to, which was great.  We burned up the dance floor, played some sand volleyball, water polo, snorkled and read about 3 books.  Other than that, it was a lot of sleep, sun and fun with some friends, old and new.
All in all, June was a pretty awesome month including lots of words typed for the ol' doctorate, just one more elective before dissertation time:)  July is going to start great with Lincoln's 1st birthday, the 4th of July and a bachelor party in Myrtle for our pal Eddie B ... good times indeed.  Hope you all have them as well.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Now that was fun ... May 27, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all.  Wow, what a fun month May has been with a trip back home, a voyage to Kansas City, some time in Columbus and great times in Columbia with Jenny and Lincoln.
We started off the month with a trek back to Iowa where we were met with snow, yes, May + Iowa + Snow = wow!  We had fun getting together with family and friends to catch up and Lincoln enjoyed riding back to see all of his friends.  The purpose of the trip was to celebrate with our friends Adam and Katie on their wedding day where Jenny was in the bridal party and I was able to strap the Go-Pro to my head as the videographer.  Great times at the wedding and Elks Lodge indeed, there was even a sighting of Criss Cross.
The following week I journeyed back to the ol' stompin' grounds in Columbus, GA for a meeting which happened to be during Employee Appreciation Week.  It was fun to catch up with old friends and the team to reminisce about the good ol' days.  My time there was short which brought about the kickoff for our own Aflac Group EAW starting with a trip with friends to Carowinds Amusement Park.  The Swinfords, Bussells, Baumanns and us had a blast riding rides, eating funnel cakes and regretting it all on the ride back home!
That next week was the start of my first EAW at work up in Columbia, which began with a majestic Moustache Monday, and yes, that is my real moustache ... with some help.  Team Up Tuesday brought about the Dutch Disc Golfers ala Jason Swinford followed by our tenure lunch on Thursday and a pretty sweet get-up for Throwback Thursday where our team had an absolute blast!  Who says you can't have fun in the workplace? 
O yes, and Friday brought the finale which included both a solo guitarish performance (Pimento Cheese Remix) and a classic flashmob by about 40-50 folks (Aflac Group Flashmob).  It was truly a special end to an amazing week that showcased how awesome of a company I work for, thank you to the duck and everyone that makes it fly:)
Last week was another great time as I had the good fortune of reconnecting with folks from the Mount and others at Enactus (SIFE) Nationals.  HR invited me to join in the recruiting efforts to help find our next leadership/analyst to rotate throughout the company through the program that I came through.  It was an added bonus that I was able to see the alma mater put together a Top 40 in the nation performance, made me pretty proud I must say.  Then to put a cherry on top, the night before I was able to get together with my best friend Gump, his wife Jenna and new baby Beckett to chat about the good ol' days and realize how old we're getting.  I miss the Flugums I must say, but was glad to see them.
Well, it's time for me to order some pictures to continue to decorate this house ... still have a ways to go, but making some good progress.  Having some fun redoing the backyard too, love the pool and can't wait for some visitors in a couple weeks ... us + 10 at the Klein Hotel, wowzers:)
Until next time, you stay classy planet earth.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Adventures - April 28, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all.  Hard to believe it's almost been two months here in Columbia, SC ... where has the time gone!?  Happy birthdays are due to Jeff and Michael back in Iowa, hope you had great ones guys, no more emergency rooms Jeff:)  Plus, it's that time of our life when everyone around is either pregnant or having a child, so congrats to my cousin Chad/Kristal for their newest addition, Jered/Angie for their announcement and our pals the Mobley and Parson families for their little girls.  O yeah, and then to the Demkos, Rosengardners and others that have buns in the oven:)
Since the last time I wrote, Jenny started her gig at Palmetto Health-Richland, a massive hospital with some great people.  She's pretty excited almost every day she comes home, happy wife - happy life.  She has found some good work friends, has a great boss and soon will start working three 12s, her dream shift!  That way she can continue on with her woodworking for DemKlein Design (shout out to the Demkos!)
Aflac Group has been a blast too with so very much to do, it balances out with some great people.  Just am filling up the PIC team with some analysts and hiring another half dozen folks for our quality and escalations team, so it's exciting because I love the interviewing process, people are so interesting and funny.  We've had fun during our weekly Fun Friday events, so many characters on the team it keeps me on my toes.  It's been reassuring to have two great ladies leading the teams to allow me to help out in other areas.  As we truck along, I feel like our future state is coming together nicely, so it's good to see change happening, all for the better.  O yes, and I was selected as one of the two finalists for Aflac Group's Got Talent for our Employee Appreciation Week of 8 qualifiers, so come mid-May we'll have a Zac Brown Band Chicken Fried remix to Pimento Cheese, funny times!
As far as the volunteering, just starting to get my feet wet up here in Columbia.  A few weeks ago I got to attend a Young Leader Society event, a combination of United Way and YP.  Tomorrow I'm chatting with the YLS group to see how I can get more involved, so am pretty excited about that indeed:)  I also had the chance to partner with the HR group at Aflac to get a United Way campaign approved, so for the first time, Aflac Group is going to get together for the United Way of the Midlands, pretty exciting indeed!
We've had fun traveling in South Carolina too having been to Charleston and then Easter at Myrtle Beach with Kayla/Alan.  Although the weather was a bit dreary, that didn't stop us from dominating the outlet malls and walking on the bach.  Apparently Lincoln was not a fan of the waves, but we were just warming it up for Eddie's bachelor party over the 4th of July.  Then a couple weeks later we made the trip back to Columbus for a fun Tinkler wedding with the crew, congrats Jack and Alisha and thanks for lettin' us tear up the dance floor.
After that we had some fantacular visitors in mid-April.  Thanks Steph and Dad for helping us have a wondermous weekend.  Had some good time chillaxin' at the house and then having some adventure time up at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC.  It was so much fun to not only hang out, but go on some amazing adventures amidst the treetops, on the zipline, climbing the rockwall and even going whitewater rafting.  It was a beautiful day topped off with great company, including a visit from Kateri and even getting a bit wet going backwards down the rapids.  I think we found our go-to spot for all visitors interested in an adventure, let us know and we'll be around! Whitewater Video
We continued the adventures this past weekend at the 2nd Annual Benderdinker in Augusta, GA with the Bauman crew.
Welp, it's about that time to get back on some school work.  I took a two month hiatus from Creighton and start back this week.  In the interim, I received my candidacy so I am ready to start this whole diseration.  My topic is going to be: Impact of Servant Leadership Traits on Employee Engagement in Corproate America.  Lots of reading and writing on the horizon, but it's going to be fun.  Hopefully see some folks when we're back in Iowa this weekend for Katie's wedding, another dance floor to bust a move on:)  Until then, have a great day:)