Browsing Tag


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.


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


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


(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.

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! 

How I produced, pumped, and saved 1000 ounces of breast milk during maternity leave

November 4, 2016

Jared and I did not take a single parenting class when I was pregnant with Jude. I knew my trusty friends, Youtube and Google, could help me if needed. When researching pregnancy and childbirth, I failed when it came to reading about breast feeding. How hard can it really be? I have boobs, the boobs will fill with milk, and then the baby will drink the milk. Easy peasy.

I was wrong. Breastfeeding was and still is challenging!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that breastfeeding, with its many known health benefits for infants, children, and mothers, is a key strategy to improve public health. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of complementary foods for at least 1 year.

The CDC and AAP failed to mention that if you want to exclusively give breast milk to your baby, you need to bust your ass each day. You may even do everything you can to breast feed and something still just doesn’t work! My personal experience is that providing your baby with breast milk is extremely taxing, exhausting, and rewarding.


1000 ounces

1,000 ounces in 3 months

I knew I would be going back to work when Jude was 3 months old. I also knew that I wanted to give him breast milk until his first birthday. Thanks to my breast pump, I was able to pump and store over 1,000 ounces before going back to work. Here is how I did it:

1. Supplement
After reading the reviews on amazon, I ordered Fenugreek Seed  and Blessed Thistle. Although some claim they didn’t see a difference in milk production, I personally did. For the low price of these supplements, I thought it was worth a try!

2. Pump
As a baby gift, my mom got us the Medela Freestyle Hands-Free Double Electric Breast Pump. I could have found a cheaper option that would be covered by insurance, but I was set on having a pump that was battery operated and hands-free, so I could walk around the house while pumping. The freestyle allowed me to pump everywhere. The motor is so little that it could easily fit in the diaper bag. I once even pumped while at the movie theater!

3. Kiinde
If you have ever washed a breast milk bottle, you know that the fatty liquid can leave residue inside the bottle. Kiinde offers an easy alternative with its disposable bottles. I was able to pump directly into the storage bag with the Kiinde system. If Jude needed a bottle when I wasn’t around, Jared could easily pop a nipple onto the storage bag. The one downfall of this system is that the bags are quite large. You still have to use a 6-ounce bag even if you only produce an ounce of milk.

4. Pump Strap
As I said before, I pumped EVERYWHERE. We live about 20 minutes out of town so I always used that time to pump. The Pump Strap allowed me to be hands-free, so I could pump and drive at the same time. I tried many different support devices including the Medela and Hogfish but this was my favorite. I loved that I could keep my coat on while pumping during the cold winter months.

5. Extras
I purchased doubles of many items and sometimes even triple! I believe we have two car chargers and at least four wall chargers for my pump. I know we have at least triple of every pump piece (besides the motor).  I would justify paying for all of these duplicates by calculating how much money breastfeeding was saving our family because we didn’t have to buy formula.

6. Time
In order to reach 1,000 ounces before returning to work, I had to spend a lot of time pumping. I began pumping when Jude was just a few hours old.  After a few weeks of building up my supply, in a thirty-minute pumping session, I could usually produce 10 ounces. In addition to pumping, I was also breastfeeding as much as possible. I once calculated that with breastfeeding and pumping, I was getting milked for at least 8 hours each day. This was a typical day for us:

7:00 am: breastfeed
7:30 am: pump
8:00 am: finish
10:00am: breastfeed
10:30am: pump
11:00 am: finish
1:00 pm: breastfeed
1:30 pm: pump
2:00 am: finish
4:00 pm: breastfeed
4:30 pm: pump
5:00 pm: finish
7:00 pm: breastfeed
7:30 pm: pump
8:00 pm: finish
10:00 pm: breastfeed
10:30 pm: pump
11:00 pm: finish
1:00 am:breastfeed
4:00 am: breastfeed
4:30 am: pump
5:00 am: finish

7. Support System
I told EVERYONE I was a “pumping mom”. The truth is, in order to pump, I needed some extra help! My parents would order dinner for me when I was in the car pumping outside the restaurant. My husband would wash the pump parts each night. My sister-in-law was always answering the crazy questions I had. My friends cheered me on as I tested my breastmilk for alcohol after girls night. I had so many people that knew my goal and encouraged me. I know I wouldn’t have reached my goal without their support.


1000 ouncesSquare

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

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