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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!

Running without pain.

December 8, 2016

…….

I couldn’t walk without pain.

I trained responsibly for the Fargo Half Marathon. I followed a training plan, actually rested on my off-days, cross-trained, and did strength training. However, after the Fargo Half, I was in quite a bit of pain. Although my entire body ached, my shins were screaming the loudest.

After a two-week rest, my shins were still wounded. I wanted to begin running again but I didn’t want chronic shin pain throughout the summer. In a last-stitch effort to save my favorite hobby, I visited our local running shop, See Dick Run, to get a running analysis and shoe recommendation.

(Before going to See Dick Run, I was running in the Brooks running shoes. Specifically, the Glycerin 11s.)

When I arrived at the shop, the salesmen, Adam, did a quick ipad recording while I ran down the sidewalk. Afterwards, we analyzed the clip, chatted about my goals, and he suggested I try on the ugliest running shoes I had ever seen… The Hoka One One Cliftons.

I wanted to hate these shoes because I couldn’t imagine wearing them in public. They make me look like I am trying to add two inches to my beastly height of 5’2 (and ¾… can’t forget that ¾ inch.) Nevertheless, when I laced them up and went for a run down the sidewalk, my outlook changed.

These shoes are magical. They made me feel as though I was walking on clouds! In the following months that I wore my Hokas, I was finally able to run a full marathon (26.2 miles). This was a goal I had previously never accomplished due to injuries.


…….
A few weeks ago, my shins started to hurt again and I knew it was time to visit See Dick Run. This time, the owner, Richard, was in the shop with his adorable daughter. I tried on a few different types of Hokas but ended up sticking with the Hoka Cliftons.

If you haven’t tried the Hoka brand of shoes or have not been into our local running shop, please give them a shot. See Dick Run has a treadmill in the shop so you can even try running in them before you make your purchase. The staff is very welcoming and supporting a small business is one way to help your community!

Summary
Who: Richard, Adam, and YOU…treat yourself!
What: Hoka shoes
Where: See Dick Run
Why: Because Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.

Happy Birthday Argo

November 20, 2016

Two years (+ 1 day) ago, on 11/19/14, I received an amazing birthday gift.

Nikita + Havoc had a litter of Siberian husky puppies.


Six weeks later, we named one Argo Abraham Gowan, and brought him home.

Happy birthday to my…


… trouble maker…


… running partner…

… fellow coffee drinker…


…baby kisser…


… and best friend.

Happy 2nd birthday buddy. We love you.

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.

Halloween Costumes Without the Cost

November 1, 2016

2015

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:
bathat

Onesie:
BatOutfit
Our little bat:
JudeBat2015
2016

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.

En’to·mol’o·gist
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)
Entomologist
2. Net (similar)
5F1A0012
3. Hat
5F1A0073
4. Bugs
5F1A0076
Ta-Da!

5F1A0106

Happy Halloween!

DIY Birthday Hat

October 24, 2016

DIYBirthdayHat

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.*

Supplies

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.

Steps
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.

IMG_6928
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.

IMG_6931
IMG_6932

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

IMG_6929
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
IMG_6742
Step 10– Have your dog model for you when your child won’t
ArgoSide
ArgoSquare
Step 10.5– Try not to get eaten by the dog.

AngryArgo

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.

No-Sew Simple Felt Garland

October 19, 2016

FeltGarlandWhen it came to Jude’s first birthday decorations, I wanted to keep things simple. Helium filled balloons are a pain to transport, streamers tear easily, & confetti would get eaten by the birthday boy. I was looking at my Pinterest page for inspiration and found this:
FeltStreamers>>> source <<<
There was just one problem… The project above requires sewing. Back in 7th grade during our home economics class, I made a deal with one of the boys in our class. He did the machine sewing projects and I did the hand stitching. With this master plan, I never learned how to use a sewing machine. Back to the drawing board for me…

I kept looking on Pinterest and found this:
garlandblogger>>> source <<<

Using Anthropologie for inspiration, Berta from “Mommy like Whoa”, made this beautiful felt garland piece. In her tutorial, I saw that she was using a needle and thread to string her felt. That seemed a little too time consuming for me so I set out to try something a little different while still using the Anthropologie garland as inspiration.

Anthropologie

………………………………………………………………..

DIY $8 Garland Felt

Supplies:
Scissor
Yarn or twine
15-20 pieces of felt

Felt notes: I used the colors “Smoke” + “Silver Grey”. I purchased mine for $0.39 per sheet at Michaels. Being I didn’t know how much felt I would need, I preferred to buy it by the sheet than by the yard.

IMG_6792
Cut the felt into strips. I did not measure ANYTHING.
IMG_6791Now decide what order you want your strips in. I made a pile and randomly pulled from it.
IMG_6793Think about how long you want your garland to be and cut your twine or yarn accordingly.
IMG_6794Lastly, tie your felt in knots around the string.

Ta-Da! That is it! A no-sew felt garland tutorial for you to try.
The cutting and knotting were time consuming but were simple enough that I could do it while playing with Jude on the floor. Be sure to share your photos if you give this a try!

FeltGarland

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.

FullSizeRender_10
Happy Birthday.

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