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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.

 

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 <<

 

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.) 

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!

Our 2016 Christmas Card

December 18, 2016

ChristmasCard2016OutlineChristmasCard2016backOutlineMay the joy of Christ fill your hearts this holiday season and throughout the new year. Merry Christmas from the Gowans!

4(Photo by Granny Kelly)

2(Photo by Granny Kelly)

3(Photo by Granny Kelly)

8(Photo by Granny Kelly)
6(Photo by Granny Kelly)

9(Photo by SB Photography)

Travel: A weekend in New York city

December 5, 2016

As a kid, I grew up watching hockey games at the University of North Dakota. One of my favorite memories was riding the zamboni during period breaks on the opening night of the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Although it would take a lot to top that experience, a weekend trip to New York City to cheer on our home team came awfully close!

Friday-3:45AM
I woke up and realized that we overslept. We hurried out of the house and we were on the road by 4:00 AM. We arrived to Fargo at 5:10 and squeezed through security with one minute to spare. You may think I am just being dramatic but we literally had ONE MINUTE before they were shutting the door. When we got to our seats, I turned around to see my shoeless mom walking down the isle. We were off to a wild start!

(Watching 13 Hours– I highly recommend it!)

After our layover in Chicago, we arrived in New York City. In looking for a taxi, Andres, a random man I met on the sidewalk, lined us up with a car service and to our hotel we went.

Tip: If you have a party larger than four, instead of getting two taxis, look into getting a private car service. It can be cheaper to have a car service provide you with a suburban (and driver), than flagging two taxis. In our case, that was true. 

Central Park
After lunch, we walked to Central Park to look at trees, rocks, and grass.

Jared asked me to Photoshop pigeons on his arm like in Home Alone, but I thought a random photo of him sticking his arm out was more entertaining.

pigeon

Lion King
We stayed at the Marriott Marquis and the Lion King broadway show happened to be a few feet from our hotel door. As someone that isn’t crazy about theater, I thought this production was outstanding. After the show, we were all raving about the play. My dad, however, was not as impressed. We later realized that the play didn’t make sense to him because he had never seen the movie… He always surprises me!

Tip: If you are going to go to the Lion King musical that follows the storyline of the movie, watch the movie. 

Night Caps
We went out for drinks after the Lion King and only walked a few feet before flagging down a few carriages. We pressured our bike driver to race the other driver and we lost. After a few drinking games and changes of scenery, we called it a night.

Hockey Hockey Hockey
On Saturday, we did some sightseeing, napping, and eating. My dad insisted that we all wore unflattering matching green jerseys on our Saturday adventures. Before the hockey game, we went to two receptions for UND fans. Both were completely full and we had to leave. That’s when I knew we had a wild night ahead of us. Upon arriving to the game, we met one of my college friends, Joe, and did our best to show him a true North Dakota hockey experience.

I think we succeeded.

(Keeping up with the UND football game.)

(Matching green tents courtesy of the man footing the bill.)

Sunday- 6:00AM
Bright and early we left to the airport. Once again, we used a car service and it ended up being the same price as a taxi fare. By 4:00 PM, we landed in our great state of North Dakota.

Las Vegas 2018
I am thankful we were blessed with such an amazing opportunity to travel to NYC and watch our hockey team dominate. I am already looking forward to the Las Vegas hockey game in 2018!

Gifts from people I don’t know 

November 30, 2016

For the last three years, I have been in Las Vegas when my birthday rolled around. (How great is that!?) This year, I was at home BUT I still figured out how to feel like a high roller on my special day.

…Discounts. Coupons. Free. Those words sure make me smile…

A few days before my birthday, I took to Facebook to find out which places in Grand Forks offered free birthday food. It turns out that I could only find THREE places in which you can get a free birthday meal with no strings attached. I discovered in most places, you needed a companion to  pay for a meal to get the free birthday entree …OR… you had to sign up for a rewards program.

Starbucks 1

After realizing there were only three places with truly free birthday meals, I got two identical e-mails from Starbucks wishing me a happy birthday. Included in each email was a coupon for a free food or drink item.

How could this be?!

It turns out that I used to have an active Starbucks account with my maiden name. Now, I have one with my married name. Being both accounts have had activity, they sent a birthday surprise to each!

Starbucks allowed me a window of a few days to use up my birthday giftS. Trying to get the most out of my free food or drink item, I ordered a sandwich the night before my birthday because it costs more than my regular drink. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture before I ate it. Please enjoy the photo of my empty bag instead.

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Starbucks 2

My big day had arrived! I started the day off with a trip to Starbucks after school drop-off. A few seconds after taking the photo, I realized that I should have ordered a venti instead of a grande because a venti is larger AND still free. Next year I will remember!

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Mama Maria’s 

I finished up my duties at work around 1:00 and headed to Mama Maria’s for my free lunch. I forgot to bring cash for a tip so I ordered a glass of wine, which allowed me to add gratuity on my card.

After triple-checking with the waitress that my entree would be free, I placed my order, and hung out with all of my imaginary friends.

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Paradiso

Onward I went. My next stop was Paradiso. After once again confirming that my meal would be free, I ordered a glass of wine and my entree. After a few bites, I asked for a to-go box and the check. I was in and out before I could take more than a sip of my drink.

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Cherry Berry

After leaving Paradiso, my car smelled of leftovers and my belly was full. I ran a few errands and squeezed in a workout before picking up our son at school. Together, we traveled to Cherry Berry for a nice treat. Upon our arrival, I quizzed the kind employee as to how to redeem by birthday treat. At the Grand Forks location, I was able to get 10 ounces free with my ID. Being I was full, I let our son fill up the cup and added a few gummies for myself.

When there was one gummy left, he told me I could have it because it was my birthday! How sweet is that?!

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Overall

Growing up, my dad was always gone on my birthday because he would be hunting out of state. Now, every few years, my husband also goes on that trip. When I told Jared of my birthday plan, he mentioned it sounded a little depressing and apologized that he couldn’t come with me. He was right. In fact, I was a little hesitant to eat alone. Thankfully, it turned out to be a great experience! I am going to make this a new birthday tradition.

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