"It's an Ohio thing..."
With those words, we met for the first time at a party in 2003. We don't remember what the "Ohio thing" was, but we were instantly drawn to each other when we realized we both grew up near Akron, Ohio. We stood talking for the next two hours, ignoring everything else around us. We went on our first date to an Italian restaurant a week later and discovered the strong connection was still there. For the next five years we dated, mostly over long distance, between Jackie living in Montreal for medical school and Jason moving between New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for work. We proved our committment to each other, and that absence does make the heart grow fonder!
In 2008, we got married in Ohio (of course!), and lived for the first years of our marriage in Pennsylvania for Jackie's medical training. Then we moved west to Utah, drawn by the mountains and jobs. Eleven years of marriage later, we have two beautiful sons, two lively dogs, two careers that we love, and a comfortable home. We love each other more than ever, and we actually still really like each other too!
We live in a comfortable Salt Lake City home that was remodeled right before we bought it in 2015. Over time Jason has added many improvements to make our life better. It has a big front porch with the best seat in the house – a bright orange double glider chair that invites friends to visit and stay awhile.
Our kitchen, dining room, and living room are one connected room in which we spend most of our time — playing, cooking, eating, and working. At the center of our living room, we have an old upright piano that Jason gave to Jackie on her 30th birthday and that the kids now love to play. Next to it is a couch where we sit together to read books. We have three bedrooms on the main floor, and our sons are excited to share a room with new bunk beds to make room for a baby sister.
In the basement we have a guest bedroom for grandparents and visiting friends, plus a small family room that includes our television. While we love watching movies and favorite shows, we try to limit our time in front of a screen and prefer to spend our time doing other things. Last summer we built a backyard deck (see photo) that now has become an extension of our living space. We enjoy eating meals out there, especially on the weekends. We have plans to develop a play house space below the deck this summer. Our front and back yards are grassy and constantly change as we add trees and new plants each spring.
Our goal is to keep the identities of our kids private, so we use their nicknames here. We would do the same with any child that we bring into our family.
Buddy and Peach may look similar, but they could not be more different. At just under 4.5 years apart, they have a loving friendship, but an age-gap that fosters their independence. As brothers, they adore each other one minute and then are wrestling in the next.
At 8 years old, Buddy is starting third grade this fall. He is outgoing, sensitive, helpful, and fiercely loyal. Buddy has a remarkable attachment to babies and toddlers. During any gathering of family or friends, we will find him holding the baby or entertaining the younger children. He is thrilled about the idea of adopting a sibling. Buddy loves anything mechanical that he can either build or take apart. He is also artistic and can spend hours drawing. He enjoys swimming, skiing, and playing the piano. He is thriving at school, loving math and spending time with his friends.
Peach will turn 4 this summer and will start his second year of preschool at a neighborhood church. He is shy in public but then he's enthusiastic and talkative at home. He is curious about infants and small children, showing them moments of sweet kindness. Peach loves airplanes and cars, sometimes building and rebuilding the same Legos into multiple vehicles in a single day. He enjoys attending gymnastics class with his best friend. He loves being outside and recently said his favorite sports are swimming, skiing, and riding his bike.
Jackie is a part-time family doctor and a full-time mom. She loves both of her jobs and the way mothering and doctoring overlap. She uses her medical knowledge to help family and friends, and then she uses her parenting experience to guide her patients in their own parenting journeys. She is passionate about delivering babies and has felt more connected with mothers ever since becoming a mother herself.
During her time off, Jackie is fully involved in activities and fun with our kids. She loves volunteering at Peach’s preschool and helping Buddy with school assignments. She has several craft projects going at once and makes a great effort to hand-repair holes in our clothes. She has fun cooking new recipes, even though picky eaters are not that into them. She loves to read and sing to the kids, especially at bedtime.
Jackie is loving, affectionate, creative, and enjoys laughter. She's goofy and slightly disorganized, which makes her laid back and approachable. Most importantly, Jackie can do the most amazing monkey impersonation, a talent that wins the hearts of all children.
Jason loves being a dad and working to keep his family secure and comfortable.
Being outdoors is a big part of Jason’s life. He grew up camping, biking, hiking, and boating with his family, and enjoys sharing these activities and skills—like how to tie useful knots—with our kids. Learning and education were also important aspects of his childhood, setting him on a course to graduate from Harvard University. Jason also loves writing (he wrote a book about camping a few years ago), so he encourages our kids to create and tell stories along with lots of detailed drawings. When he’s not planning our family’s next Utah adventure, he stays busy fixing things around the house.
During the day Jason works for a nonprofit law firm that helps people who get in trouble with the law. He is not a lawyer, but instead does the writing and public speaking for the firm. Jason’s job introduces him to many people from different walks of life and lets him share these experiences with his family. Jason is very active in our local community, where he works with city leaders to make people’s lives better. He’s the person that people call when they have a problem that needs to be fixed, and he does his best to help them.