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The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum hosts an exhibition each fall focused on flight in nature.
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The Gruhn family moved to Wausau from Rockford in 2010 to capitalize on a work opportunity.
Several years ago, Todd and LaNae Johnson were looking for a change. An affordable real estate market was a large factor in moving their dental business north.
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Meet Jodi, Ted, Abbi and Zack Gruhn.
When the Gruhn family moved to Wausau from Rockford, Illinois in 2010, they were welcomed into a west side neighborhood filled with kids of all ages who enjoy hanging out together as much as their parents.
"The first day we moved in, we had people coming to introduce themselves." said Ted. "We feel like we’ve grown up in Wausau, and grown up with most of our neighbors."
"Almost every week during the summer and fall, you will find families hanging out around a campfire." said Jodi. "We have an annual neighborhood October Fest/Halloween party and a Winter Fest party in January."
"We have people in our life here who are more like family than friends." said Jodi. "Wausau is an amazing place that has some of the nicest, loving and caring people we’ve ever met.
We have so much in the community, beautiful outdoor facilities, art opportunities, family owned businesses and strong systems. We want to keep Wausau a secret gem, yet we want to share it with so many people so that they too can enjoy the good life here."
The Gruhn family knew that they wanted to live in the woods and were able to find a neighborhood just west of Wausau on Maplecrest Drive.
Jodi grew up in Wisconsin in Arcadia, while Ted is from Charlotte, Michigan. The couple met through their work while they both lived in Rockford. Ted and Jodi lived in northern Illinois for 12 years, enjoying time traveling to the Caribbean, time spent with friends, motorcycling and the outdoors.
"When we decided on our wedding location, we opted to get married in Key West, Florida." said Jodi. "We were married on the beach, barefoot at sunset, after a fun day of sea kayaking and snorkeling with our friends and families. After our wedding we had a reception at our home celebrating with even more friends and family with a Jimmy Buffett singer."
"When our kids were three and four, we decided we wanted to live closer to family and in a smaller community." said Ted. "I received the opportunity to work for Regal Beloit-Marathon Electric and we moved to Wausau in 2010. It immediately felt like home."
"We knew it was going to be a great place to raise a family!" added Jodi.
Ted holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Western Michigan University and works as a Regional Sales Director at Regal Beloit-Marathon Electric in Wausau.
Jodi received her Bachelors degree in Engineering Technology from Northern Illinois University and is Director, Talent Acquisition at Titus Talent Strategies, a business based in Milwaukee. Jodi works remotely for the company.
Ted enjoys golf, fishing, snowmobiling and is a Detroit Lions fan, a passion shared by his son Zack. Ted is also an Elder with Trinity Lutheran Church. Jodi enjoys baking, gardening, fishing and volunteering as a STEM Scouts leader at Trinity Lutheran School.
The family enjoys attending sporting events, including the Wisconsin Woodchucks and an annual family outing to a Packer vs. Lions game.
"Our kids have really enjoyed trying new sports over the past few years." said Jodi.
Abbi has a love of animals and has been riding horses for three years. She has participated in two riding competitions and took second place in her very first competition. Abbi is also musically talented as she plays clarinet, ukulele, violin and the piano. In addition to music and animals, she loves to bake, read, play volleyball and softball. Abbi has a of love for fishing like her dad, and usually catches the most fish in of anyone in the family.
Zack’s favorite sport is hockey. He has been a Wausau Warjack for six years and has started playing during the summer beyond the regular season. Zack also plays golf, baseball, soccer, tennis and enjoys playing the drums. He’s a master LEGO builder and avid Nerf gun fan.
The family's dog is Marley, a schnoodle who joined the Gruhns in October 2015 as a rescue puppy from Texas. "He’s been an amazing loving dog who fit perfect in our family!" said Jodi. "He loves to camp as much as the rest of us."
The Gruhn family enjoys traveling and exploring new places. When they travel north, they like to explore new activities, camp grounds, state parks and restaurants.
"Our favorite places up north include St Germain, Eagle River and Sayner areas." said Ted.
Last summer, the family visited several National Parks, while also spending three days exploring San Francisco.
"While we were in San Francisco, Zack had just received a hot dog when a seagull swooped down and snacked his hot dog!" said Jodi. "We all looked at each other, not sure what happened and immediately realized it was the seagulls! He had more friends that came down for the bun as well."
The trip also included a visit to Yosemite National Park for two days. The family enjoyed one of the most beautiful and untouched parks before traveling to Sequoia National Park. The family saw the three largest trees in the world on the trip.
"The four of us hugged a tree, barely getting half way around the tree." said Ted. "They were amazing!"
The trip included a visit to Joshua National Park before ending in Phoenix, Arizona to visit family and friends.
When they aren't exploring new places, the family's focus is often on sharing time with a wide network of friends.
"Friends are very important to us, we enjoy having friends over for campfires, camping, baking, playing games and sharing dinners together," said Jodi. "And the kids' sleepovers, sometimes with outdoor movies. Our annual cookie/beer exchange with friends is another fun time bringing everyone together."
In addition to outdoor activities, the family enjoys cooking and baking together.
"We make maple syrup from tapping trees in our yard and make strawberry jam and can it to share with others." said Jodi.
These shared activities offer plenty of opportunities for Ted and Jodi to reinforce the family's motto, 'Gruhns never give up.'
"We always encourage the kids to keep trying, and even when they get frustrated, we ask them to continue to try." said Jodi.
This article initially appeared in Wausau Neighbors magazine, Best Version Media
Photos by Natalie Helen Photography