The Bad of Good Friday

May 1, 2017

Hello MAY! I am quite a few days late but I still would like to share with you our Good Friday adventure…

A few weeks before Easter, when I was in the narthex of our church, I signed our family up to be “greeters” for Good Friday. Usually on Good Friday, there isn’t a collection or offering so I thought being greeters was a manageable task for our little tribe.

6:00AM

Our day started at the crack of dawn when both boys decided to utilize all daylight hours of our day off from school.

9:00AM

We had a social work home visit, something we do monthly as foster parents. After our social worker departed, Jude was able to get in a two-hour nap, I squeezed in a run, and Jman helped Jared out in the yard. Our day was off to a great start!

1:00PM

Knowing we needed to be at the church early to greet everyone, we started getting ready quite early.

2:30PM

We showed up to the church and us greeters were greeted by an empty parking lot. I ran inside to check the bulletin and discovered that our Good Friday service was at 7:00PM …. NOT 3:00PM. We were 4.5 hours early.

I had never been to ANYTHING this early in my life so I had Jared take photos of me to celebrate this moment.

What to do with our extra time was the big question.


2:36PM

First, we headed to town. I was able to get some supplies from Target. Then, we stopped into our local restaurant to have our “big meal” of the day.

4:30PM

We still had two hours left so we went to the local school and played on the playground. I got a little bored but survived. The boys played hard at the playground and I was SURE Jude would end up sleeping through the entire service.


6:30PM

The fun began. Jman didn’t want to come inside the church so he greeted people from a landscape rock. Meanwhile, Jude made it his mission to shake everyone’s hand as they walked in the door. In fact, he would throw a fit if anyone tried to sneak by us without giving him a handshake.

7:00PM

When the service started, Jude did not want any of the books or silent toys that I brought for him. Instead, he spent 15 minutes taking hymnals out of the pews and stacking them. Once he started throwing them, we shut down that activity.

7:20PM

We were only twenty minutes into the service and Jude was NOT thrilled to be in the church. After trying many tricks and distractions, it was time for him to leave. Once we were back in the narthex, Jude wanted to make sure that everyone knew where he was. He kept running away from me and knocking on the glass that divided the narthex and the nave. (For the record, I had to “google” these terms.) When I would pull his hands back, he would squish his face against the glass and make funny noises. When I pulled him away from doing that, he had a (freaking) fit. Jude must have been crying for quite a long time because Jared sent Jman out with Jude’s sippy cup. Remembering I had snacks in the car, I sent Jman back in the nave of the church to ask Jared for the car keys.

This is where is gets even better…

Jman entered the church yelling, “Jared! Jared? Jared! Jared? Jess needs the car keys!”

I didn’t know this happened because I was outside at this point. Jared gave Jman the wipes and NOT the car keys. When Jman found me outside and handed me the wipes I followed him back into the church and asked him to go ask Jared for the car keys…NOT the wipes. He once again entered the church yelling for Jared. This time, I, along with everyone else, heard him yelling. The congregation completely lost it. I could hear the laughter from where I was standing.

Once both boys were under control, we entered back into the church to participate in part of the Good Friday service. As we were walking, Jman saw a mouse trap and yelled, “Woah! A mousetrap! I see a mousetrap!” Once again, people started laughing.

8:30PM (approx.)

We only had communion left and at this point, Jman was sitting with Jared and I was still with Jude in the back. I was the last person to go up to communion and Jude was loving that everyone was watching him. Just as I walked up to the priest, Jude chucked his cup four or five pews back. Once again, people started laughing. The kids in the front row, who acted out the Stations of the Cross, got the giggles and I booked it out of the church with Jude.

9:00PM? (Who even knows what time it is at this point? )

Finally, the service was over. I don’t think I have ever been so embarrassed in my life! I felt like those hours showed me how shitty of a job I am doing as a parent. Other kids were very well behaved and ours acted like wild animals. I was defeated. I felt guilty that our boys disrupted everyone’s’ time of worship. I wanted to cry and hide in the car BUT I couldn’t because the car keys were still missing.

As everyone was exiting and I was looking for the keys, I would cringe anytime someone came up to talk to us. I was expecting them to tell us to figure out how to control our kids. Maybe someone would ask us to sit in the back the whole entire service next time? I was expecting the worst.

Guess what? We received nothing but positive comments from people. Jman was complimented on what a great helper he was. Jude was told that he had a great arm! We were already struggling and it was appreciated that nobody added to that. The service was a disaster for our family but thankfully,
we have a supportive parish that welcomes all that enter.

 

Extreme North Dakota Racing – My first 25K

March 24, 2017

My last half marathon took place back in January so I figured it was time to register for another race. After searching around on the Internet, I realized that Extreme North Dakota (END) Racing was hosting a run south of Fargo, ND. When I registered for the 25K, I thought this would be just another race. One similar to all the others I do. I was wrong….very very wrong.

If you ever plan on doing an END race, I have a few tips for you:

1. Read, read, and read.

Read the e-mail from the race director. Read the blog post from the race director. Read the website. Read the suggested gear list. Read anything you can about the race. I have never been so unprepared for a race and that is 100% my fault.

The race director sent out informative e-mails prior to the race. I quickly skimmed through all of them. I remembered reading that racers should have a cell phone in case someone were to get lost along the way. Although I remember thinking that was a strange statement, I didn’t think much of it as I normally run with my phone anyway.

The morning of the race, I got into my car and hit the road. My GPS told me that I would arrive to my location at 2:00PM. This was a problem being the race started at 1:00PM. I called Jared, quickly vented about how I should have calculated the route ahead of time, and when he asked if I was going to turn around, I said “no” and kept driving. I don’t race for ribbons; I race for the thrill and for exercise. Even if I started late, I would still get the physical and mental benefits from the exercise I would be doing.


2. Arrive early.

Now reading the website (a few days late), I realize that END races are in unique locations.

I was able to magically make up time on the interstate and made it to my location at 12:50PM. Remember that e-mail I skimmed through from the race director? Well in it, there was an address of where we needed to be. However, when I took that address and put it into my own GPS, it brought me to the middle of a cow pasture. This cow pasture had limited cell phone service so I did my best to find my way to the correct location, which ended up being seven miles away. Uffff. (For the record, the address provided was correct. My app I just could not figure it out.)

By the time I unloaded Argo, got dressed, ran to the bathroom and got to the start line, I believe it was close to 1:10PM. The first few miles of the course were beautiful! The rolling hills were the perfect running terrain. At this point, Argo and I started catching other runners. I thought it was strange that they had water backpacks on but thought that they must just be really thirsty people!

Around mile six (of 15.5), I understood why everyone had waterpacks. There were not aid stations. Remember that e-mail I skimmed through from the race director? This was also clearly stated in there. I wasn’t worried about Argo hydrating because I would stop and let him drink from puddles and eat snow. However, I was getting pretty thirsty and desperate. I was so thirsty that I kept debating to myself, which would be the cleanest option: dusty snow or muddy water from the puddles?
I ended up eating the dusty snow.


At about this point, the terrain changed quite a bit. Instead of rolling hills, we had some (North Dakota) mountains. Looking at others’ shoes, I saw that I also made a HUGE mistake. I was wearing my Hoka One One shoes, which were NOT made for hiking and had zero support when it came to side-to-side stabilization. I could not get traction in the mud!

Around mile nine, I reached an aid station. While everyone filled up their waterpacks, I shyly asked if they had water bottles. The volunteers were able to find me one and Argo and I hit the road again. One of the many benefits of running with Argo is that he knew the correct path to run. There were a few times when I would stop to see which trail to follow and he was able to pull me the way of other runners before us.

3. Expect solitude.

If you want fans to cheer you on, you must bring your own.
There were many times when I didn’t see people for miles, which I actually prefer.

Approximately two hours and nine minutes after starting the race, Argo and I crossed the finish line. Even after qualifying for the Boston marathon, I have never felt more accomplished than I did finishing my first END race. This race pushed me physically and mentally. I wanted to quit when I realized I would end up being late. I wanted to quit when I arrived in a cow pasture. I wanted to quit when I had to hike up the North Dakota mountains (elevation 15 feet). However, I was able to get myself to keep going.

4. Plan for a grueling race.

The race challenged me mentally and physically. On paper, it didn’t look tough but as I was driving home, I swore I would never do another one of these END races again.


5. Prepare to be hooked.

Although I swore I would never do an END race again, the evening of my race I was already texting my brother about making a team for the next race in April. I drank the water (or ate the dirty snow) and now I am hooked!

Travel: Puerto Galera, Philippines

March 6, 2017

A few years ago, my friend Annie asked me to travel to the Philippines with her to visit her dad. While visiting her dad’s resorts, we became certified scuba divers, ate pounds of curry, paid pennies for massages, and soaked up as much sun as possible.

Ever-so-thoughtful Annie was kind enough to send us a package of treats after her last trip to the Philippines. Instead of just eating the treats, I thought it was necessary to turn the gifts into an educational experience. I bribed the boys and therefore, everyone eagerly participated in my Filipino education course in the comfort of our kitchen.

Together we…

1. Painted Filipino Flags


2. Made Jude taste-test the candy




3. Flew airplanes to the Philippines


4.  AND I was able to show the boys my favorite photos from my trip with Annie.


If you ever want to venture to the Philippines, I have a few tips for you:

1. Pack an extra pair of underwear… or three.
Thank goodness Annie is a seasoned traveler and made sure to pack extra underwear in her carry-on bag. She was able to borrow me a pair of underoos after we went for a run during my 6-hour Seattle layover. She also borrowed me another pair after our flight was cancelled and we were stuck in Japan for a night. (Everyone needs an Annie in their life.)

(toilets in Japan)

2. Stay with Annie’s dad.
I always find comfort in going places were I know I can find Americans. Annie’s dad, David, was a great host and gave us the royal treatment when we were visiting. His resorts, Scandi Divers + Campbells Beach Resort both serve Starbucks Coffee and have the fastest wifi on the island!
3. Stay for as long as possible without getting fired from your job.
Between massages, scuba diving, kayaking, sunbathing, and shopping, we were always on the go! If I could do it all again, I would stay for an entire month!

Travel: punta cana, dominican republic recap

February 22, 2017

¡Hola!

Here is my Punta Cana, Dominican Republic recap:


!THE PROS¡

1. The Country
The Dominican Republic is a great place to visit in February. When our friends announced their destination wedding, we were thrilled! I love having a reason to exit the frozen tundra.

2. Resort

Our bride and groom did a phenomenal job picking our resort. We booked through delta vacations so airfare, airport/resort transportation, room, food, and drinks were covered when we purchased the vacation package. The free wifi throughout the resort was not reliable but was still accessible.


3. Tour

Our bride and groom also did extensive research and picked out a catamaran tour, which we had the opportunity to join them on. On the day of our tour, we woke up to rainclouds and a dreary forecast. However, all of the wedding guests made the best of the day and we all had a great time! The tour company snapped photos of us throughout the day, which was a nice perk… until I saw the photos of myself! (Rumor has it that we set the record for the most alcohol consumed during a tour! Oji Oji Oji.)


4. Working Out

I was able to run over 20 miles on the beautiful beach. We were next to many other resorts so I felt safe running on my own in the mornings. I forgot how hard it is to run on sand and I could only run ten-minute-miles. During the day (and after a few cocktails), I would also join the entertainment crew for Zumba.

5. The People

We were two of sixty guests attending the wedding and they were all great to be around! When Jared and I go on vacations alone, I end up sleeping half of the trip. However, the crew we were with kept the party going all day! I may even need a vacation to recover from the great vacation. The bride and the groom were amazing hosts (and even had gift bags for all of the guests upon arrival!)


¡THE CONS!

It was a challenge to think of things that were not absolutely perfect! 

1. Wifi
I teach courses online so I need to be accessible to my students during the semester. As I previously stated, the resort wifi wasn’t always reliable. This also forced me to “disconnect” from my phone and enjoy our vacation, which isn’t a bad thing at all!

2. The Food
When you go to an all-inclusive resort, you are going for the convenience, not for the gourmet food. This was our third all-inclusive resort and the food at all of the resorts was pretty similar. There are buffet options for breakfast and lunch. For supper, you can either go to a buffet or another restaurant that has a theme such as Asian, American, Seafood, or Mexican. I want to point out that the food wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t amazing either (except for the ice cream…eat all of the ice cream).

3. Missing Our Boys
The flight home from the Dominican seemed like it was twice as long as the flight there. Although I really needed a break from our day-to-day routines, I was ready to come home.

¡Adiós!

Jude’s Bedroom

February 10, 2017

Last week, Jude stayed home because he was sick, and we were able to spend a lot of time together. It was nice to have mornings in which we were not rushing out the door. Instead, I would attempt to drink my coffee, he would throw all of his books on the floor in his room, and empty his drawers. We stayed in our pajamas and I soaked up our quality time.

Jude is quite the gymnast so we will soon need to replace one of the sides of his crib with a toddler rail. When the new piece to his crib arrived in the mail, my heart broke a little bit. It was just another sign that our little Jude is growing…a little too quickly for his mom’s liking.

 I am NOT a decorator BUT I do like how Jude’s room has turned out. In an attempt to capture his nursery before changing his bed and some of the decor, I snapped a few photos around his room. I will also include links to some of my favorite items we have.

>> rocking chair<<<

> deer (no longer available) <<

>> bookshelf is from an antique store <<

>> mobile<<
I made ours to save money but Land of Nod has some cute ones!

> crib <<
For the record, I got ours on sale. I would never spend that much money on a crib!

>> locker <<

>> bookends <<

>> Geometric mirrors <<

 

Custom Valentines

January 27, 2017

As a crafty child, I always looked forward to celebrating on the fourteenth day of February each year. I loved making homemade valentines and an extravagant box. I remember sketching out my plan, forcing my mom to take me to the craft store, and getting help from anyone and everything to make the “coolest” box I could! On Valentine’s Day, I always had to get a ride to school with one of my parents because I couldn’t trust the bus driver to ensure my box made it to school safely. Each year, this was MY DAY to shine!

My obsession for Valentine’s Day growing up is now comical because we don’t do much to celebrate in our house. Jared and I forgo crowded restaurants and make our own food. We also don’t exchange gifts for ANY HOLIDAY…never… ever… no exceptions. (This allows us to save money so we can travel.)

I understand that not every parent has the time or money to spend on homemade custom valentines. That is why I have created 12 options for you to choose from! If your child has 24 kids in his or her class, your total cost is $10.

I have posted some of my favorites below but head over to

www.dakotagrey.com 

to see the rest!

 

What to do with your Audible credits…

January 25, 2017

One day, when I was on Amazon, I discovered I had been paying for Audible for a few months and had some credits in my bank. Amazon’s customer service is great and I know they would have refunded me being I had not made any purchases. However, after looking at the audiobooks they offered, I used up all of the credits and began my newest audiobook addiction…

Being we live in the country, I do a lot of driving each day. I have noticed that when I am listening to an audiobook, I don’t glance down at my phone while driving. That in itself is a great reason for me to get a few books!

Audible and iTunes have given audiobooks a modern twist and I have downloaded books from each site. Overall, I prefer using Audible because I can purchase books at a lower price due to my subscription. I found both apps to be fairly user-friendly.

Here are my five most recent audiobook purchases, links, and thoughts on each:

1. The Girl On The Train

I found it difficult to multitask (wash dishes, fold clothes) while listening to this book. In fact, I had to “google” the characters so I didn’t fall behind when I missed a part.

……….

2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up

Nopety. Noper Nope. Nope. Nope. Organizing is one of my hobbies but this book was just crazy. The author suggested that you thank your items before discarding them. Example: “Oh dearest wool socks, thank you for the hard work you have done keeping my feet warm over the years. It is now time for you to go.” I actually had this book playing when my husband was in the car and he thought I had lost my mind.

……….

3. The Magnolia Story 

I LOVED this audio book! The authors, Chip and Joanna Gaines, actually narrated it themselves and it felt like we were just hanging out in Waco, Texas together. The short stories made it easy to follow and if I missed a part, I didn’t have to rewind to try to find my spot because I was able to move on. I should also note that I am a fan of Chip and Joanna so that made it even more enjoyable.

……….

4. Two by Two

It was strange to LISTEN to this story. When a female character was speaking, the male narrator would change his voice to sound like the women, and it just sounded funky. The storyline was one of a typical Nicholas Sparks book.

……….

5. The Chemist

This book was AMAZING! Jared actually selected it and I didn’t know a thing about it until I began listening. It was the first “thriller” that I had listened to and now I am hooked on that variety. Being it was a thriller, it was obviously suspenseful and I really enjoyed that!

……….

Summary- Out of all of the audio books listed above, I would only recommended The Chemist and The Magnolia  Story.

Do you have any audiobooks I should try?

Lately… Laughing at myself is how I survive.

January 18, 2017

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Disclaimer: I love our little untraditional family. Being a wife and mom is very rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Some days are more challenging than others and on those tough days, laughing at myself is how I survive.

Technical Difficulties 

I teach a few online courses and on Saturday, one of my students brought to my attention that my online classroom was having some technical difficulties. I skipped a hockey game we planned to attend with the boys, and I went into work to fix the issue. Once I left the office, I did a quick 2AM grocery run and headed home. I just crawled into bed when a little monster named Jude woke up and wanted to party…. At three in.the.morning!

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Even after our party in the middle of the night, the next day I was feeling guilty for not spending quality time with the boys. To combat the “mom guilt”, I decided to take the little ones on a date that afternoon. Two little stinkers, one Jess… what could go wrong?

Nude Jude

About a half-hour before we were set to leave the house, my brother and his girlfriend arrived for a quick visit. When they walked in the door, I looked up from the laundry I was folding on the floor and realized that Jude was naked! He was clothed just seconds before so I was a little confused as to why he was running around nude! It only took a few seconds to grasp that he took off his clothes and diaper because he pooped! We have a naked Jude and a poopy diaper on the white carpet. It gets better… I then discovered that he used the said white carpet to wipe himself. Either our child is a genius or a menace. I am thinking the latter of the two.

We finally got into the car and headed to an info meeting for a local running club I was interested in joining. After five minutes of being there, I was out of my favorite bribery tool (fruit snacks) and my boys were just warming up. Twenty minutes after arriving, I carried out a screaming Jude and away we went!

Crayons for Supper

At this point, it was a few minutes before 5PM and I knew the boys would need supper. Why I didn’t just drive home is something I am still questioning. Instead of effortlessly heading for home, I looked at my coupon book and realized that The Wild Hog had a coupon for a free kids meal with an adult entrée. When we arrived, the bar was full but the dining area was fairly empty. I specifically asked for a corner booth as far away from everyone as possible. The kind hostesses smiled and brought us to our corner.

As soon as we sat down, I should have just packed us back up and exited. Instead, a water and a chocolate milk were ordered. To speed things along, I even put in our food order with our drinks. When our sweet waitress arrived at our table with the drinks, Little Man (LM) said to her, “This isn’t very good. Can you try again but next time can you try harder? And can you make sure to try your best?” I wanted to crawl under the booth. She returned with a new chocolate milk which LM tried to send back a second time before I intervened and apologized. (For the record, I personally do not send back food or drink items. However, he did learn the pep-talk lingo from Jared and myself.)

JudeBellyButtonSquare

While we were waiting for our food, Jude entertained himself by eating pieces off of the crayons, spitting them out, and laughing. In addition, he would take the ice from my drink and throw it as far as he could. When anyone walked by our booth he made sure to let him or her know he had a belly button by lifting up his shirt and pointing. I tried my hardest to keep my cool and enjoy my time with the boys. When my side salad arrived, Jude took my leftover ranch, poured it out, and used the table as his personal canvas.

If you have read this far, you are probably wondering why I can’t control my one-year-old. I am also wondering the same thing.

Crayons have been eaten, ranch has been spilled, LM tried to send back his drink again, and to make things a little worse, everyone in Grand Forks decided to join us at this restaurant. Normally, when LM says he is full after a bite of food, I will make him take a few more bites. Tonight, when he said he was full, I asked for the check so we could get out of there as soon as (freaking) possible.

When we finally got up to leave, the building was packed and there were people standing in the entrance waiting for seats. Right on cue, Jude threw a fit because he didn’t want to wear a jacket in the middle of winter. I ended up carrying Jude out of the building, upside down, as I received sympathy smiles from anyone I accidently made eye contact with.

To ensure this doesn’t happen again, I have written myself a little reminder…

Dear Jess,
You can sometimes come up with great ideas. Being outnumbered and taking two boys out to eat is not one of them. If you ever feel the need to take your adorable little monsters into a nice establishment for supper, please reconsider. Go to McDonalds, order a happy meal, and just go home.

Sincerely,
Jess (Whose underwear is still soaked from chocolate milk that was accidently poured on her crotch by Jude.) 

Snacks- How do you get your protein?

January 6, 2017

This week, Molly from My Name Is Yeh, has been popping up on my social media feeds. If you take a look at her site, you will know why.  When I went to check out her blog, I saw beautiful creations that I will never attempt to make such as the Vegan Chai Cheesecake With Earl Grey Fig Sauce. Embracing my own culinary skills, I will share with you one of my favorite snacks… that I am sure your dog could make …WHILE BLINDFOLDED! As always, I am setting the bar nice and low.

How do you get your protein? 

When I mention to people that I do not enjoy consuming animal meat, the above question is what I am usually asked. One way is through nuts! However, when I go to our local Target and see trail mix, I am always discouraged by the price. As a way to save money and better control my snacks, I will create my own trail mix. Below is one of my favorite mixes and the recipe I used as a guide.

Sue’s Camp Mix (Original Recipe) 

2 cups canola oil
1 tsp dill
1 pkg ranch original or spicy dressing

Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine:
1 small box cheese crackers
1/2 bag of butter pretzels
dry roasted peanuts to your liking

Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container. 

And my version…

Snack Mix – Jess Remix

2 cups canola oil

1 pkg original ranch


1 pkg spicy ranch

Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.


In a large bowl, combine the following items (many of which I don’t know the names of):



Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container. Eat the entire container in one sitting when you decide to give up on your 2017 resolutions. 


 Enjoy!

Lately 

January 3, 2017

Lately…

1. Playing in the snow

2. A new little niece

3. Holiday Parties 

4. Celebrating Christmas

5. Mac + cheese deep conditioning treatment

6. Celebrating the end of 2016

7. How to drink coffee with children

8. A movie at our favorite theater

That is all.