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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.

 

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 <<

 

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.) 

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. 

A trip to Pisek, North Dakota

December 21, 2016

Underoos 



Three years ago, I rigged my in-laws’ Christmas gift exchange. For some reason, I thought it would be easy to shop for a gift for my father-in-law and the plan was to get him bullets for his gun. My dreams were shattered when I realized that bullets are a hot commodity in North Dakota and needed to be preordered. He got a knife instead.

This year, I did not rig the drawing and I still drew my father-in-law’s name. I love giving practical gifts BUT most practical items (socks & underwear) he would just buy for himself if he needed them. I told my husband that I was thinking about getting his dad SAXX underwear. Jared politely suggested that I refrain from shopping for underwear for grown men. Back to the drawing board…

J Mart with the Win

I chatted with many grandpas at the gym over what to get my father-in-law. After many discussions, someone suggested candy! This was the perfect gift because most people love candy AND my father-in-law likes weird candy that you can’t get at gas stations.

On a day that was 10-below-zero, we headed to Pisek, North Dakota to J-Mart to shop for some treats. When we pulled up, we noticed that they do NOT accept debit or credit cards, so we rummaged around for some dollar bills and headed inside.

When you walk in the store, you take a step back in time. This general store had boxes upon boxes of candy lined up for customers in addition to their basic household items. After talking to the Jelineks, they said that the assortment in front of us was half of what it was a month earlier. 

Each year, they increase their order and each year, they still sell out of many items.

They take detailed notes as to how many cases they ordered, the price, when the item arrived, and when it sold out. 

In addition to candy, they proudly sell pickled herring, headcheese, nuts, and much more.

When we arrived home, mom someone asked if we could open the bags of candy and we decided that was a great idea! Based on Jude’s smile, his favorite was the chocolate-covered coconut. Can we count that as a serving of fruit?

J-Mart was a great experience and we look forward to making a trip to Pisek, North Dakota a yearly Christmas tradition.  Next year, we will make sure to visit earlier in the season so we are able to get the full selection before the items sell out!

PS- This is our secret. Don’t tell my father-in-law about this post!

Snow Day Reindeer Art Project

December 12, 2016

We were blessed with two storm days this week! On the first day, I made a lofty check-list of all of the items we were going to accomplish. Although an art project with the boys made the list, it didn’t happen until our second snow day.

Jude (with the help of his teachers) made an adorable reindeer at school and being he was already a seasoned pro, we decided to make another one!

Supplies:
Brown paint
Paper
Glue gun
Pipe-cleaners
Red puffy ball
Wiggle eyes

Cost:
Less than $5 (I used a Michael’s giftcard to save 40% off on this pack)

Steps:
1. (Optional) Mix the paint
I wanted to make our paint a LITTLE lighter as to not make it look like pure poop.

2. Paint the feet


3. Press the feet onto your canvas


4. Make and attach the antlers



5. Add the nose


6. Glue on the eyes


Jude thought it was necessary to take a snack break mid-project. Thankfully, we made a few extra prints.

I realized my dad’s birthday was coming up and as an avid hunter, we knew this would be a perfect homemade gift.

Ta-Da!

 

Birthday Gifts from the Grandkids

November 28, 2016

Each year, about three days before my mom’s birthday, my dad sends out an SOS e-mail. He asks if we have any ideas for gifts to get her. Usually, I just wish him luck because my mom is a tough one to shop for!

This year, I had two secret weapons when it came to my mom’s birthday gift: the grandchildren!

With hours to spare before her birthday, we went to Michael’s so Jude could lay on the floor and cry  to pick out something to make. Our foster son picked out cute wooden arrows AND a $1 birdhouse. Go big or go home folks.

The next day, we had a painting party in our kitchen. I stripped Jude down to his diaper because he likes to express his creativity by rubbing paint in his clothing. In order to control the finished product a little bit, I hid the red, brown, and black when painting the arrows.

To help Jude achieve the look he was envisioning, I poured paint on the wooden arrow and let him rub it in.

The cleanup took longer than the painting BUT we ended up with some pretty cute gifts for Granny Kelly.

Happy 65th birthday Granny!

Our run-in with law enforcement

November 18, 2016


Dear Deputy:

I know you remember me. I was the mom that walked into your office 15 minutes before the door closed for the day. I had the one-year-old that was eating dirt from the potted plant in the waiting room. I also am the mom to the boy that was sitting in the chair.

You may have realized that the older of the two boys called me by my first name. That is because I am technically not his mom. I did not bring him into this world. I, however, care for him each day and love him just as I love our infant that I carried for nine months.

How we ended up at the Sheriff’s office started a long time ago, but I will do my best to fill you in. At our house, we have one rule: Be the best you can be. Recently, that rule hasn’t been followed.

When taking things that are not ours (stealing) became an issue, we tried different approaches. We have tried taking away toys, eliminating time on electronics, time-outs, and rewarding positive behavior with coveted items. Although we will always continue to reward positive behavior, we found that taking away toys, has had the most impact. In addition, we implemented a three-strike system.

If we catch our son stealing, he gets a toy taken away and we also draw an “x” on the fridge to show that he received a strike. We reset the strike count on Sundays. On Monday, the strike count was already at two. Two toys had been removed and two strikes had been drawn on the fridge. We clearly stated to our son that if he received three strikes due to stealing, then we would be going to talk to a police officer, together.

Now, before you shame me for making the police out to be bad people, I will have you know that we paint a great picture of our men and women in uniform. At every hockey game and football game, we make sure to talk to every officer (and security guard) in our path. We wave out the car window whenever we see police, sheriff, or border patrol vehicles. On Halloween, we encouraged our son to dress up like a police officer because he has always been fascinated with the “trinkets” those in uniform wear each day.

Tuesday

When I picked up our son after school, I was told that he stole an item out of the office. Although, it was just something small, I took this report very seriously. Unfortunately for me, this was the third strike. If you remember, after three strikes, we were going to have to go speak to a police officer.

To be honest with you, I really just wanted to go home. I wanted to turn our three-strike system into a four-strike system. However, if I did that, then I wouldn’t be holding true to my words. To the police station we drove.

When we arrived at the police station, as a small-town girl, I instinctively walked upstairs to the sheriff’s office instead of waiting for a police officer. After we spoke to the attendant, we waited.

I prayed.

During that waiting time, I prayed. I prayed that you wouldn’t laugh at me when I told you our “problem”. I prayed that this would be an educational lesson on stealing. I also prayed that God would guide your words as they had the power to shape a young mind.

You see, I was out of strikes AND out of ideas. I needed a backup. Being a foster parent is so hard, and I felt like I was failing. I really didn’t know what else to do.

When you arrived, you knelt down to the level of our son. After a few minutes, he was able to look you in the eyes. Although you two only chatted for a few minutes, I want you to know that you made an impact on that little boy.

When we got in the car and I asked him what he learned, he told me three things:
1. “Police officers are actually really nice.”
2. “Asking is better than stealing.”
3. “If I do good in school, I can be an astronaut and fly to Jupiter.”

Thank you.

Thank you for helping me as a parent.
Thank you for helping teach our son that those in uniform can be caring and compassionate.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to make an impact on a little boy’s life.

Rainbow Explosion or Timeless Toys? – A gift guide.

November 15, 2016

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Thanks to Jude’s toys, our house looks like a rainbow blew up inside of it.

I was just reading the article, 15 Benefits of Wooden Educational Toys for Home Education, and really loved the first five points the author makes:

 1. Wooden Toys are Timeless

2. Wooden Toys are Durable

3. Wooden Toys Grow with Your Child

4. Wooden Toys Encourage Imagination

5. Wooden Toys Incorporate Real-Life Skills

Although I don’t plan on getting rid of his items simply for aesthetic purposes, I have been trying to keep my eyes out for basic wooden pieces. If you are like me and do majority of your Christmas shopping online, then I have a few ideas for you! Some items on my gift guide below DO have color. I think finding a balance between a rainbow explosion and a sterile toy room is important.

Enjoy!

WoodenToyGiftGuide……………………………..
(Top to bottom + left to right)
1. Blue/Black/White Blocks.

2. Car Carrier

3. Camera 

4. Tool Box

5. Lawn Mower

6. Teething Ring (Dakota Grey! Yay!)

7. Wooden Legos

8. Wooden Rainbow Cubes

9. Tractor

10. Balance Bike

11. Wooden Teether (Dakota Grey! Yay!)

12. Hexagon Stacks 

Thrive or Survive? How we make our mornings easier.

November 11, 2016

Mornings at our house can be brutal. On mornings that the dog goes to daycare (don’t judge), it usually takes me 1.5 hours between leaving our house and getting to work… on a good day! The morning brings so many unknowns.

Will the dog run away?
Will our foster child, Little Man (LM), decide he wants to color our white carpet with green marker?
Will Jude poop the second I get him into his car seat?
Usually, the answer is yes.

When it comes to the “kids”, there are many things I don’t have control over. However, our mornings are remarkably bearable when I take the time to plan ahead, and line up everything I can beforehand. Here is how we thrive in the morning…instead of just survive.

1. Lay EVERYTHING out.
After the kids are in bed, I take at least a half hour getting everything ready for the next day. We are fortunate enough to have a heated garage, so I am able to put Jude’s socks, shoes, jacket, and diaper bag in the car the night before. (Previously, I put his socks and shoes on in the house, but he just takes them off when I am driving.) Little Man’s backpack and jacket are also placed in the car. In addition, I place my own items like my workout bag and food in the car.

2. Make Little Adjustments
The first week we had LM at our house, I forgot to pack a snack almost every day. After talking with the teacher, I found out that I could bring a months worth of snacks to be stored in the classroom. Problem solved.

3. Ask For Help
My mom drives by our house on her way to work in the morning. I usually check with her to see if she can help by dropping off one kiddo. Although it isn’t a very practical option, it gives me a little bit of a breather.

On days when LM’s school is closed, he goes to a daycare that opens up before Jared needs to be at work. On those days, Jared is on daddy duty so once again, I can have a little break.

4. Morning Checklist
I am not a morning person. I am more of a “hit the snooze button 90328482 times” person. I could sleep until noon if my little dictator  Jude would let me. To make sure we are awake on time, I bought LM an alarm clock. I love that it teaches responsibility AND each morning, the alarm clock gets yelled at instead of Jared or myself.

Once the alarm goes off, LM has a checklist to complete. When he completes all six items with no reminders, there is the option to play with a toy on the way to school. This has been a game changer! One day this week, I actually arrived at LM’s school before the secretary! If you can’t tell, I am proud of that!

I am always looking for ways to thrive instead of just survive when it comes to our morning routine. Do you have any ideas for us?

Let me know if you would like a copy of the morning checklist we use!
I have another copy that has a sun instead of the pill bottle to show that waking up is the first task to complete.