Browsing Category


Weekend Recap

November 7, 2016

After work, we packed up the kiddos and went to the big town of Forest River, North Dakota for supper. Being it was the first Friday of the month, they had a prime rib special. Jude made himself at home in the bar resturant and both boys put on the charm. Jude even got M&Ms from our waitress in return for smiles and kisses. For this mom, plain beer and great company were the highlights of the evening!

On Saturday, our foster-child’s sibling came over for a play date. I was extremely excited to see that our local movie theater, River Cinema, had a sensory-friendly showing of the movie Trolls. To make it sensory friendly, they keep the lights on, the volume low, and allow you to walk around. At one point, I believe there were 5 of us parents standing so that we could wrangle the kids running around the theater. I was so appreciative of this sensory-friendly option. With it, I was able to take three kids to a movie without any added stress. I hope this option continues to be available in the future! The kids said they loved the movie. 

Attention Parents:  If you take kids to this movie, bring a book… unless trolls farting cupcakes is your forte.

Sunday was another beautiful day outside! We went to my parents’ farm and my mom took some great family photos of all of us. Although we will not be able to use photos of our foster child in our Christmas card, I am so happy we will have the photos to remind us of our journey as a family of four.

Monday Morning
When I was in college, I loved daylight savings because when the bars close at 2:00 a.m., it is really 3:00 a.m.! As a parent, I despise it. A 5:00 a.m. human alarm clock named Jude made sure that we had PLENTY of time to play before school. Uffff.

Happy Monday! 

Halloween Costumes Without the Cost

November 1, 2016


Last year, Jude was only two weeks old when Halloween rolled around. As a gift, he was given a bat outfit complete with an adorable knit hat. Instead of spending money on a costume he would only wear for a few hours, we used the bat ensemble as his halloween costume.

Bat Hat:

Our little bat:

In August when my mom returned from a trip to Boston, she stopped by our house with gifts for Jude. One of the gifts was an obnoxious (but adorable) patterned onesie. This insect-print outfit was so cute that I wanted to make sure it was used for more than bedtime. Somehow, I came up with the idea that he could be a bug catcher for halloween in the fall. The best part is, we used items already in our house so we didn’t have to go out and buy a costume. We did purchase toy insects that can still be used after halloween.

Definition: A scientist who studies insects.
I kept on referring to Jude as a “bug catcher” but my husband informed me that he was actually an “Entomologist”.

Here is our simple + reusable costume:

1. Insect pajamas (discontinued)
2. Net (similar)
3. Hat
4. Bugs


Happy Halloween!

DIY Birthday Hat

October 24, 2016


Before Jude’s first birthday party, I was looking on Etsy for a party hat for our birthday boy. After snooping around, I found a few hats that I happened to like. However,  I couldn’t fathom spending $20 on hat he would most likely wear for a minute. I then had the great idea to make a party hat from scratch. I did some looking around on Pinterest and found Jones Design Company, which shared a hat tutorial and downloadable template.
*Note: After purchasing all of my supplies, I only saved a few dollars by doing this project myself.*


Felt – 2 colors- I save a lot of time by getting felt with a sticky backside from Michaels
Poms – I found mine at target but if you already have yarn at home, you can use this tutorial to make your own.
Card stock
Ball Fringe– I found this in the felt isle at Michaels (similar item)
Hot Glue Gun
String to keep the hat on the child’s head. I used jewelry string.

Step 1 – Using the template from Jones Design Company, I cut the design out on the card stock. I used my circuit, but you can do this by hand.

Step 2– Form the card-stock into a cone.

Step 3– Once again using the template, cut the hat shape out on felt.

Step 4– Stack the felt cutout onto the card stock cutout.

Step 5– Using the hot glue gun, glue the edges together to create a cone.


Note: I purchased “Tacky Glue” but it would not allow me to hold the shape of the hat.

Step 6– Cut out the number outline in the felt and add it to the hat

Step 7– Add the pom to the top.

Step 8– Add the ball fringe.

IMG_6641Step 9 – Try to get your child to wear the hat
Step 10– Have your dog model for you when your child won’t
Step 10.5– Try not to get eaten by the dog.


Weekday Recap (Illustrations not my own) 

October 21, 2016

Weekday Recap

Weekdays =1

Jess = 0

This week has been a wild one so far at the Gowans.

Jude was sick on Monday & Tuesday but thankfully, his Grandma was able to watch him while Jared and I worked. On Tuesday afternoon, I got a call from the school saying our other “Little Man” (LM) was sick. LM will sometimes fake sick, so I didn’t take the report from the school too seriously.

I still had some work to do so after I picked up LM from school, we headed over to the University. As I was unlocking my door to the office, LM said he could feel something funny in his throat. Before I could even figure out what he meant by that, he projectile vomited everywhere!

To make matters worse, classes dismissed right at that second, so we had to guard the puke on the floor from the college students walking through the hallways to their next classes.

LM was quite proud of his huge splat of puke, and enjoyed directing traffic around his pool of puke! He made sure to announce to everyone that they needed to walk around his puke. “Watch out… I puked all over the floor… I only had chocolate milk for lunch… Don’t slip in my puke… That is all MY puke!”

(Photo I quickly snapped of the college students walking by)

Thank goodness LM is cute.

God really wanted me to slow down this week… literally.

When we got home on Tuesday night, I heard hissing in our garage. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a snake, it was just a flat tire with a huge nail sticking out. My wonderful husband put on a spare, that I swear was made for a go-cart, and I was forced to drive 55mph.

I HATE having work done on my car, because as a female, I feel as though people try to take advantage of me. They don’t realize that the girl walking up in high heels grew up on a farm, and isn’t an idiot.

These are things I have heard from businesses in Grand Forks, when my car needed to be serviced. For your entertainment, I also will share my responses.

(Photo taken while I was responding)

Service Man:  Your air filter is dirty and needs to be replaced, so you are not breathing in toxins.

Jess: Isn’t it ironic that you are telling me that with a cigarette stuck behind your ear? My air filter looks great! You can just blow out the dust if you think it is too toxic for me.


Service Man: (After taking my tire off) We can’t patch your tire (with the perfect nail hole).

Jess: Oh shoot. Can you put on the spare for me and I will drive somewhere else to get it patched?

Service Man: Oh, I guess we can give it a try.


Service Man: If you don’t replace all four tires at the same time, your car will not be as efficient and your gas mileage will go down.

Jess: I would rather lose a mile per gallon then pay hundreds of dollars for tires I don’t need.


Service Man: You need all four new tires at the same time, so your car doesn’t shake.

Jess: I live on gravel. My car always shakes.


Service Man: (After draining the oil from my car) It looks as though your car requires special oil.

Jess: How much does it cost?

Service Man: About $120

Jess: I will go somewhere else then.

Service Man: We already took the oil out of your car. It will blow up if you drive away.

Jess: If you do not give me non-synthetic oil, I will call to get my car towed out of here. In the meantime, it will just have to sit there.

Service Man: Ok. We will put the generic oil in.

When possible, I try to take preventive measures as to not get ripped off. Here are my favorites:

1- As soon as I pull up, I write down my husband’s phone number for the service man. I let him know that if he believes I need anything other than a basic oil change, he can call Jared to talk about it. In the last three years, Jared has yet to receive a phone call.

2-Whenever I have a problem with my car in Grand Forks, I go to American Tire. Unfortunately, They don’t have swanky lounges, free pop, or WIFI. They DO have great customer service and are also very respectful.

The weekend is in sight.

Jude Grey – Happy Birthday – Part 4

October 13, 2016

In honor of Jude’s birth week, I did my best to recall our pregnancy and his entrance into this world.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

As promised, our doctor showed up at lunchtime to deliver. Being a teacher, I understand the importance of practical experience so I was open to having students watch the delivery. I must have been the only person that agreed to have students in the room because we had a full house! When it was time to deliver, we had the following lineup:

1 .Jess
2. Jared
3. Doctor
4. Resident
5. Student Nurse Practitioner
6. Nurse (Not Crazy Karla)
7. Nursing student 1
8. Nursing student 2
9. Nursing student 3
10. NICU team 1
11. NICU team 2
12. NICU team 3

We love our physician’s office nurse and tried to trade her for one of the nursing students but unfortunately she had to stay back at the office to hold down the fort.

A year ago today, at 1:10 in the afternoon, our little man arrived.

Happy Birthday.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

Jude Grey – Crazy Karla – Part 3

October 12, 2016

In honor of Jude’s birth week, I did my best to recall our pregnancy and his entrance into this world.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

After Jared downloaded a contraction-timing app, he told me my contractions were three, YES THREE, minutes apart! Jared, not wanting to deliver this baby in our bathroom, wanted to go to the hospital immediately. I, however, thought it was necessary to take a shower, finally pack my hospital bag, and do my makeup.


When arriving at the hospital, we were escorted to the labor and delivery floor. Once there, we were put in a holding room while the family medicine resident ran some tests. Although I am happy he didn’t just “wing it”, I was a little uneasy when he kept asking the nurse what to do next. It turns out my water did break, so I was then placed in a beautiful labor and delivery room. Recalling what I had read online, I put on my running shoes and walked laps around the unit so the labor wouldn’t stall…all while Jared napped.

When our primary doctor showed up at 8 a.m, we had already been in the hospital for 7 hours. I overheard him say to the nurse that he would be back at lunchtime to deliver the baby. After realizing I had at least four (freaking) more hours of laboring, I asked for an epidural.

I always believed that once you get an epidural, you are pain free. Apparently, that only is true if the epidural works. To make matters worse, Crazy Karla (named changed for privacy) walked in.

We had great nurses whom we meshed well with during the first 10 hours of being in the hospital. Our situation quickly changed when our nurse had to leave for training. Our replacement was Crazy Karla. I would like to say that Karla was also a GREAT nurse. She did a wonderful job and we were lucky to have her. However, there is a reason why we would call her Crazy Karla. She was OBSESSED with pillows and turning me different ways so that labor wouldn’t stall. This lady LOVED pillows. Even a year later, when a pillow is missing in our house, we blame Crazy Karla.

Every 45 minutes, she would want to adjust the 10 pillows she added to the bed. By this time, I was in a LOT of pain and I had to start negotiating with her. “Karla. I am not turning until you get that nurse anesthetist back in here to fix this epidural.” After threatening her pillows, the nurse anesthetist came back in and gave me a bolus, which unfortunately was not successful. You may ask how I knew my epidural didn’t work. Well, I believe that if you can walk around your room with the epidural needle in your back, then you know it isn’t doing its job. It was at that time that I realized that I would be delivering this baby the natural way. Shit.


1. I had a wonderful experience giving birth at Altru Health System. All of the staff members, including Crazy Karla, were exceptional! We are blessed to have such an amazing hospital in our community.

2. If you get an epidural, it is not safe to walk around your room when the nurse steps out. I am a rule breaker by nature.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

Jude Grey – April Fools – Part 2

October 11, 2016

In honor of Jude’s birth week, I did my best to recall our pregnancy and his entrance into this world.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

I like a good prank. I actually REALLY LOVE a good prank. When I realized that I would be around 13 weeks around April Fool’s Day, I thought this was a great time to share our pregnancy. Is she immature enough to joke about a pregnancy? Did she not know it was April Fool’s Day? Only time would tell.




At 20 weeks I was able to start working out again. Instead of running miles and miles, I began doing more weight lifting and cardio machines. I tried a few different belly support bands but I didn’t think any of them were worth the money I spent. At 27 weeks, I had to stop running completely because I was uncomfortable with the pulling I could feel. I missed the running but enjoyed walking multiple miles a night. As I got closer to my due date, Jared would be forced to walk with me in case I went into labor on the gravel road. The poor guy would work a full 14+hour day doing construction and then would have to walk with me for over an hour after work.


Sometime between getting pregnant and having Jude, we did a hospital tour. We were shown the nursery, where to check in after-hours, and the birthing rooms. The nurse giving the tour brought up a few things that I knew I wanted to do immediately after Jude was born. These included skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. I always saw birth plan templates on Pinterest, but after the tour, I felt as though my wishes would be respected, so I never made one. Thankfully, I also ended up not needing one.

My due date was October 10th and at my doctor’s appointment on the 9th, the doctor told me there was a little progress. For the record, I doubt there was ANY progress but he just wanted to boost my morale. In hindsight, I am surprised I took the lack of progress so well. At that point, I was so sore from getting kicked in the ribs all day and my acid reflux was out of control. I left that appointment still pregnant with my (lack of) progress report.

On October 12th, I woke up at 11:00pm to go to the bathroom. It took about an hour to realize that I wasn’t peeing my pants and it was actually time to have a baby!

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

Jude Grey – Part 1 – Spending Time on the Inside

October 10, 2016

In honor of Jude’s birth week, I did my best to recall our pregnancy and his entrance into this world.

Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

As someone who has had kidney stones before, when I had to lay down at my niece’s birthday party due to stomach pain, I knew exactly what was happening. (You can call me Doctor PreviousExperience.) Soon after we got home from the party, I took some medication and went to bed. A few days later, I had this pain once again and woke my husband up in the middle of the night to take me to the hospital.


On this cold February night, we arrived in the emergency room and got checked in. Before they would give me anything for my kidney stone pain, they said they needed to run a few tests. Once the results came back, the doctor told us he had good news and bad news. The bad news was he couldn’t give me anything for the pain I was having. The good news was that we were pregnant! He asked me to follow up with my primary doctor and sent me on my way.

After a few weeks of sharp stomach pain and many ultrasounds to ensure that the baby was in the correct place, I woke up one morning and no longer had pain! I began working out again and could do more than go to work and sleep.

Well that didn’t last long.

About a week after the pain stopped, the nausea began. Correction: the days of projectile vomiting EVERYWHERE began. I was working in a hospital at that time and I spent many lunch breaks counting the tiles in the bathroom while lying on the floor. You know you are not feeling well when all that you want to do is lay on the cold hospital bathroom floor. Yuck.

Saltine crackers. Ginger drops. Motion-sickness bands. Zofran. Phenergan. Advice from people that have never been pregnant before. Reglan. IV fluids. Cold packs. Teas. You name it, I tried it. Being pregnant was so hard but at the same time, I didn’t want to complain because there are so many people that would do anything to carry a baby of their own.

When most people become pregnant, they tell close family and friends. The first person I had to tell was the trainer at my gym because I had to cancel workouts due to my vomiting. The second person I told was our neighbor that does dog boarding. He was puzzled as to why I had not yet potty trained our new puppy. I finally had to tell him that I couldn’t handle the smells associated with potty training because I was pregnant. (Disclaimer: My dog DID get potty trained after I was 20 weeks pregnant) My husband, the dog trainer, and gym employee did a great job of keeping our secret until I was 13 weeks along.


Spending Time on the Inside – Part 1 
April Fools – Part 2
Crazy Karla – Part 3
Happy Birthday – Part 4

The boy that never sleeps – theme+food

October 6, 2016

Within hours of bringing Jude home from the hospital, people began asking us if he is sleeping through the night.

Random person: “Oh, is he sleeping through the night yet?!”
What came out of my mouth: “Nope. He doesn’t sleep at night.”
What was going through my head: “Beeeeeep beep beebeep. No he doesn’t sleep. Beeeeeeeeeep I am tired.”

I was optimistic and figured he would eventually learn to sleep through the night… I am still waiting for THAT night to happen. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath.

Bringing some humor to our year of sleepless nights, we decided to have a slumber party for Jude’s first birthday.

Here is the invitation I made in Photoshop:

It has been one whole year with only a little sleep.
Our little man hasn’t quite figured out how to count sheep.
Please join us for a slumber party in honor of Jude Grey.
We will serve nightcaps & breakfast in bed on his special day.
Since it will be nighttime, as everyone knows,
Please wear your pajamas instead of your clothes!
Just when it has come time for us to go to bed,
You will all go to your own homes to sleep instead!

I had this invitation printed on metallic paper and I was very impressed with the results! The paper made the stars shine and I couldn’t be happier with the overall look.

Apparently when you invite people over, it is polite to feed them. This is quite a problem being I have a hate-hate relationship with cooking + baking.

When we first joined our church, I received a phone call asking if I could make sugar cookies for the fall dinner. Trying to make a great impression, I told the desperate cookie coordinator that I would get her ten dozen sugar cookies. After I committed to ten dozen, she casually mentioned that there is a specific recipe to follow! It turns out that I couldn’t pick these up from the bakery. When I received the recipe in the mail, it only listed the ingredients. Oh my. Thankfully, one of our relatives gave me step by step instructions. I never knew sugar cookies could cause so much stress!


The point of me sharing this sugar cookie story is to reiterate how much I hate cooking and baking. I get anxiety even thinking about preparing food for others. With that being said, for Jude’s birthday party, all food prepared served will have very simple instructions OR will be purchased.

My thoughts…
Don’t do this:
baking When you can just do this:
I am setting the bar nice and low with this no stress game-plan:
Yep. Wish me luck!

Jude’s Birthday Posts:
Invite +Food Inspiration // Wishlist // Decorations // Recap

An Open Letter

October 1, 2016

An open letter to the parents of Deane, Wade and Wyatt, volunteers at the 2016 Camp Good Mourning.


Coming from a family of sports fanatics, my son had barely entered the world when my husband and I began fielding the big question, “What sports will your son play?”

As entertaining as it is to debate this topic, it is the least of my concerns as a new mother. Instead, I lie awake holding our sleeping child at night and ask myself, ‘How do we raise a young man who is selfless? How do we teach chivalry? How can we show him the value of honest, hard work?’

After spending the weekend volunteering with your sons, I realized I should ask you these parenting questions, because clearly you know the answers.

I met your sons through my work for Altru Health System. I was tasked with coordinating volunteers for  Altru’s Hospice Camp Good Mourning, an annual grief camp for children and teens. Each year, as soon as our application opens, females immediately sign up to volunteer. However, males are not as quick to apply. A month before the event, I posted on social media a desperate cry for male volunteers. Thankfully, many men, including your sons, responded to this plea.

Two weeks before camp, your 20-year-old sons received an email stating they were not assigned to be counselors. Instead, they would be helping with arts and crafts.

Although this was not what your sons signed up for, I never received a message saying any of them wanted to back out. I never heard an excuse or complaint, even though they would be giving up an entire summer weekend to lead kids in painting and making tie-dye projects. Instead, they showed up to camp ready to take on the challenge.

Embracing Their Role and Going the Extra Mile
These three men impressed me and the entire staff from the moment camp began. They didn’t just go through the motions; they went the extra mile and completely embraced their role as arts and crafts counselors, with humility and responsibility.

When they got to camp, these men learned they were in charge of teaching campers how to make jewelry from t-shirts. Deane, Wade, and Wyatt took notes as they received a crash course on jewelry-making. They borrowed a fellow volunteer’s phone to look on Pinterest and learn different ways to create bracelets and necklaces. They even researched how to make fishtail braids as a technique to show campers. With hardly any advance notice, they did everything in their power to be the best shirt-jewelry designers in the state of North Dakota.

Throughout the weekend, Deane, Wade, and Wyatt were selfless and empathic. In between activities, they could have taken naps or sat in the lounge. Instead, they walked around camp asking staff members what they could do to be helpful. They moved tables, cleaned up paint, took inventory of craft supplies, and helped campers make more than 100 s’mores. They swept floors without being asked, and they did every task with enthusiasm. When young campers set up a nail polish station, they agreed to be their customers even though that meant they would go through the entire weekend with colored nails.

Deane, Wade, and Wyatt did everything with passion and purpose. I hope to have them back at camp so they can be role models to fellow volunteers. It was a privilege to volunteer with them at camp, and it would be an honor to work with them in the years to come.

As a mom, I can see how hard it is to raise good kids. It gives me hope to see what a great job you did as parents and, as my own son grows, I hope to instill similar virtues.