Saturday, February 27, 2016

DAY 1637 ... To My 9 Year Old Self

Dear 9 year old Jenn -

Life is rough right now huh?

Being the oldest of 3 kids and getting blamed for everything,
and never ever getting along with your little sister.
You have already moved 17 times,
and have already attended 6 different elementary schools.
You got hit in the left eye with a shovel so bad that it tore your retina,
and your dog Taz,
that you got for a birthday present,
died 3 days after your birthday.
And the roughest part of all...
Full House just ended,
and your heart broke for the very first time.

I get it.
That kind of sucks.
Life is rough.

But here is what I want you to know,
from your 30 year old self.

Your Mom,
she will have 2 more kids.
So you will be the oldest of 5.
They will both be boys.
You will actually be in the room when the youngest one is born.
Although there will be 13 years between the two of you,
your bond will be out of this world!
They will be the BEST uncles that your kids will have!
Yes, you do have kids.
They, your brothers, will be so smart,
and so talented that it will make you so proud.
They will be such a blessing in your life.
Your kids will do that too just so you know.

Your sister,
your only sister,
will also become one of your best friends.
After you move away for college,
everything will change.
You will realize how amazing your sister is,
and you guys will really learn to love each other.
It's kind of amazing!
Just a heads up,
she will get married years before you,
and she will have a kid before you.
Don't be discouraged.
Your niece is AMAZING!
God's timing is everything.

You will move another 12 times.
But you get to live in Hawaii,
so don't be too bummed.
the next move your family will make,
the one that will be the hardest move you've ever made,
will be one of the best things that will ever happen to you.
The friends and memories that you will make will change your life.

You will change schools 3 more times,
and then you will go on to get a college degree,
and then a master's degree.
Education is important.
Never underestimate the importance of learning.

You will lose 50% of the vision in your left eye from that darn shovel accident.
You will get glasses.
But that has always been something you wanted so it's more like a dream come true.
You will also get braces, which you also are dying to have.
But really,
the vision loss is somewhat entertaining and really isn't such a big deal.
You will never cry tears out of your left eye again though .

You will develop a dislike for dogs.
And at 30,
you will have never owned a dog while living on your own.
And that's totally okay,
because you have 2 of the CUTEST kids around.
And kids beat puppies any day!
And just to give you a heads up...
Your heart will break many more times
And it will be a lot more difficult than your dog dying.
But you still will have the cutest kids ever!

And guess what?!?!
Full House will come back on TV,
Well kind of.
But I am not even going to attempt to explain Netflix.
Just know Netflix is life changing and AWESOME.
You can watch the entire 1st season when you want,
where you want,
any time.
And you will watch the entire 1st season the day it premieres....

The future is pretty great.
I know things seem sad and hard sometimes,
and honestly,
the hardest parts of your life are yet to come.
But you will make it through them,
and you will be stronger and better off for those days.

Just know that your future is amazing!
So dry those tears and be young while you still can.
Also eat more Taco Bell.
.69 cent tacos do not stay that price forever...

Love - 30 year old Jenn

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Pure Suckiness.

Let's be honest...
my life has been hell lately.
Not in regards to myself,
thank goodness,
but when it comes to my children.
Which is honestly,
worse than if it was myself.

First of all,
I hate winter and pretty much everything that comes with it.
This includes illnesses!
Aniston has received a steroid shot every winter since she has been born.
Benson is following in her footsteps.
Double suck.

I seriously bundle my babies up every time we go outside!
It drives me crazy that they get sick even though they are totally prepared for the cold,
but then I see babies without coats or hats or socks in the cold and they're not sick.
What the heck?
I get annoyed so easily.
It probably doesn't help that my office is basically in our home and people come in and out of the office all day and who knows what kind of diseases they are bringing in.

Benson was put on a new antibiotic on Saturday,
due to an ear infection.
I noticed on Sunday a little rash around his belly button.
I thought that maybe his diaper or pants had been rubbing him wrong,
and since I didn't notice anything else I just let it go.
Maybe that's where I failed...

we were at the library and I noticed that the back of his neck was really red and rashy.
When we got home,
I got him undressed and ready for a bath.
That's when I saw all of the rash.

I sent pictures to my Mom and my cousin's wife, who is a nurse,
and they were both 100% sure that it was an allergic reaction to his antibiotics.

Sure enough.
This morning the doctor confirmed that Benson is allergic to Cephalasporins.
Cool bro.

I cannot even express the anxiety that I have and the pressure that I feel to remember this.
This kind of terrifies me.
I know that it's not a super big deal,
but as a parent,
I want my children to be perfect and healthy and happy,
and now I feel like I have genetically failed my baby.
That sucks.

Can't I just live inside a box and never leave so that no one can ever get sick?
Self imposed bubble mom?

I am grateful for doctors who can solve these problems,
and I am thankful that we have options when it comes to medications.
We really are blessed.

I am confident that this will not be a problem in the future,
and bonus,
I learned a new word today!

Monday, February 22, 2016

DAY 1632... Being a Work From Home Mom

I am so extremely blessed with my current job.

Spencer and I are among many weathering the challenges of being married,
having two kids,
all while he is attending school.
I had graduated with my undergrad before we married,
and I received my master's degree 3 years after we were married.
I have the skills and job experience,
as well as the education,
to have a well paying job.

But at what expense?

I hate the idea of daycare.
I know that that is what works for some people,
but it is NOT for me.
It's like cloth diapers,
Taco Time,
or McDonald's hamburgers...
It's just not for me.
It's an opinion and feeling.
I have absolutely no issues with people who choose daycare for their child,
I understand that in some cases,
this is the only option.
But it was something that Spencer and I really wanted to avoid.
I absolutely do not want anyone else raising my children.
Benson is too young to talk and tell me if something horrible happened,
and I am one protective mama bear and feel as though children who cannot talk are too vulnerable to be left without a parent or family member who truly has their best interest in mind.
I am going to blame these thoughts and worries on the fact that I read too much.
Especially online...

Spencer and I are the kind of people that when we want something,
we will do just about anything to accomplish it.
This includes who and how are children are raised,
and avoiding daycare at all costs.

A week after Aniston was born,
I got a job,
that I loved,
working for the school district.
It was perfect because I only had to be at the school for 4 hours a day,
in the afternoon,
and we were always able to work Spencer's school schedule around it.
I made some amazing memories,
and some good friends at this job.

I kept working that job for 3 school years.
But the further along you get in school,
the less selective you can be with when you take your classes,
which meant we weren't going to be able to manipulate Spencer's class schedule to work around my work schedule anymore.

Towards the end of my 3rd year with the school district,
my brother Jake was coming over and spending a couple hours with my children while Spencer went to class.
Even though it was family,
and my children were still kept in my home,
it worried me.
I just didn't like it.
Plus, Jake was leaving to go on a mission and the thought of daycare or a babysitter scared the heck out of me.

Spencer and I decided that we would apply for an apartment management position.
We didn't know exactly what that would encompass,
and we didn't know if it would even work,
but it felt like the right thing to do.

I found a couple openings and applied to both.
I didn't think anything would come of it because these are coveted jobs in Rexburg,
and really hard to get.
ask anyone in Rexburg and they will tell you how competitive these jobs are.

Much to my surprise,
I had the opportunity to interview at two complexes.
My first interview was with a corporation who owned a bright and shiny and new complex.
The pay was amazing and the job title was insane!
We would live in the complex in a brand new 3 bedrooms apartment,
but I would be required to work in the office 8 hours a day.
Basically this put us in the same boat as before.
I would be making more money,
but I would be gone twice as long and we would be faced with the daycare situation all over again.

The following day,
we had a joint interview at a smaller complex that was privately owned.
Has anyone ever experienced a joint job interview with their spouse?
So awkward!
Spencer and I left the interview feeling like such failures!
We truly felt as though it had gone horribly horribly wrong.

2 days later I turned down the job offer from the corporation owned complex.
Even though we hadn't heard back from the smaller complex,
we just didn't feel like it was the right fit for us.

On St. Patrick's Day,
I don't know why I even remember that,
I received a phone call from Seattle, WA.
I knew immediately that it was the owners of the smaller complex.
I braced myself for the blow.
But surprisingly,
they offered us the job.
I bawled my eyes out,
because this was such a blessing for our family!

At this specific complex,
the office is attached to the apartment,
and is only open 4 hours a day.
But let's be honest here,
It's a 24/7 job.
I get texts, calls and knocks on my door all hours of the day.
But it's 100% worth it to me.
This allows me to stay at home with my children,
to raise them,
to be comfortable,
and basically to have my dreams come true.

It doesn't matter what Spencer's school schedule is like,
because I can watch my kids while I work.
We have set up the apartment so that their toy room is next to my office and I just set up a gate and they play while I work.
It isn't a huge complex,
and there is down time,
so I can still play and pay attention to my children during work hours.

I don't miss out of milestones,
and they won't have another person to tag in their favorite memories.
I get to make the memories with them.
I get to be the one who they will remember.
For me,
this is really important and something that I needed to have.

The apartment is perfect and we love it.
We have no debt (except car and school loans),
and have been blessed to have all of our needs,
and most reasonable wants met from this job.

The owners are AMAZING,
and so easy to work with.

We have been here almost a year,
and even though there are times where playing mom to 168 single guys can be difficult,
we feel so blessed to be where we are and to have this opportunity.

There are definitely challenges when it comes to working at home.
My children don't always understand that I'm working,
and it's hard to explain that to them.
But it is really the ideal situation for our family at this time.
It takes A LOT of discipline to work from home and sometimes focus gets lost.
This isn't a stay in you PJ's and chill kind of job.
I have 168 sets of parents counting and depending on me to make their sons living experience,
while at school,
an amazing experience.
it can feel like a lot of pressure at times.
I definitely run these apartments and manage the way that I would want someone to treat my son when he is away from school.

We have received the blessings of having so many service opportunities while managing,
and we have been exposed to an entirely new world,
with the opportunity to learn and gain new skills.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
I know that we were blessed and given this opportunity,
partly because of my education and qualifications,
but mostly as a confirmation that we are where we need to be and doing what we need to be doing.
That is definitely something we needed in Rexburg.

Shout out to all the work from home parents.
It's not always easy,
but for me,
And I'm sure for you as well,
it's 100% totally worth it!

Friday, February 19, 2016

My Favorite Things... Mind, Body and Spirit

I have been exposed to so many amazing new things lately.
Things that have blessed and changed my life.
This is my way of sharing those things with you and hoping they may change yours as well.


My mind is a crazy jungle of a mess.
But every now and then I am able to find a way to calm it down.

Meditation helps.

Don't judge me by this one,
Because I know it seems a little crazy.

But Oprah has this amazing meditation program.
The program lasts 21 days,
And really helped me to calm my mind and relax me,
Especially before bed.

This nice thing is that there are different programs,
for different aspects of life.
Everyone is different so one program would not be sufficient for everyone.

You can check out the different programs here.


If you're a dude you might want to skip over this one.
You'll definitely want to skip over this one.

It's no secret that I suffer from really painful cramps and just the worst periods.
I truly hate it.
The pain is so bad that I throw up,
and I tend to remain in the fetal position for most of the week.
But ain't no one got time for that.
Especially between working,
single parenting,
and everything else in life.
There just isn't time to be sick like that for an entire week every stinking month!

About 5 months ago I ordered a Diva Cup.
I read an article online about them and I was curious.
I seriously was going through a large box (36 count) of super absorbent tampons a period,
bleeding through,
ruining clothes and everything.
It sucked.

The Diva Cup has changed my life!

Super weird to get use to at first.

But I have never bled through once in 5 months.
It's comfortable enough to exercise,
do anything when it's in.
I never feel it.
You can leave it in for 12 hours.
I typically change it every 8-10 hours.
It's easy to clean and to use.

It can be a little time consuming at first,
But it doesn't take long to adjust to.


I never thought I would be shouting from the rooftops about a feminine hygiene product.

But with all this talk about the tampon tax,
this is the answer!!!!


Check them out on Amazon here.


I have read through the Book of Mormon several times.
I have even used study guides and other helps in order to gain more from my study.

But this study guide,
by far,
has been the best thing!

It isn't boring,
or dull.
It keeps you engaged,
and more importantly,
it keeps you asking questions you may have never considered,
and has helped me see and understand the Book of Mormon in an entirely new light.

I actually feel really excited to study my scriptures at night,
and for that I am so thankful!

Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


We have made it to the halfway mark of Spencer's internship!
Can you believe it???

Nobody says it better than my old pal 
Bon Jovi...

7 1/2 weeks to go!!!
7 1/2 weeks of single parenting left!!!


Monday, February 15, 2016

DAY 1624... I'll Love You Forever

I have been anti-Valentine's Day for years.
For the past 12 years I have eaten Taco Bell and chilled every Valentine's Day.
Remember how I gave up fast food for the entire year this year?

But since I have had kids,
holidays have become way more amazing and fun.
I want to celebrate them to extremes for them!
I want their memories of holidays to be special to them!

Aniston started her V-Day action early with her preschool party on Thursday.
She is growing up way too fast!

Two days before Valentine's day,
I received an e-mail about a family in our church with two small boys and absolutely nothing else.
They didn't have anything for Christmas and a plea was made to help them.
Aniston walked in on me reading the e-mail,
in tears of course,
and immediately went into action.
She filled a box full of toys she could part with,
a large bag full of treats,
and 2 Valentine's Day cards for the boys.
She really is the sweetest spirit around!

The kids woke up early on Valentine's Day,
And we're so excited to see what Cupid had brought them.
Luckily the toys and new books distracted them long enough for me to get breakfast ready.

I served up some heart and lip shaped pancakes.
Basically the kids mostly ate the whipped cream I topped their with,
But it is what it is.
A little extra sugar is expected and okay on V-day!

I actually loved that Valentine's Day fell on Sunday this year!
I loved getting the kiddo's all dolled up their Valentine's attire.

Being able to be somewhere,
A place that we go every week to show our love to Christ.
The kids did AMAZING at church!

Benson literally stared and the cutest little girl,
about his age,
like this for 5 minutes.

My son is a total creeper!

For dinner I made Taco Bell crunch wraps.
They were good.
Not as good as TB,
But I am still so impressed that I have made it this long without a fast food fix.

After dinner,
Aniston and I made Rice Krispie treats and delivered them,
Along with Valentine cards to my family.

Although I still firmly believe that Valentine's Day is the most ridiculous holiday,
I really enjoy celebrating it for my children.
Any excuse to spoil my little loves!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

DAY 1623... Tiny Dancer

When Aniston turned 3,
I rushed to enroll her in preschool and some sort of activity.
For whatever reason,
where we live,
there is nothing for kids younger than 3,
except for overpriced swim lessons which we already did.
I really felt that the socialization and learning that she could gain would greatly benefit her.
We settled on a dance/gymnastics class after weeks of research.
Tuesday is definitely Aniston's favorite day of the week!
I wish she got to go to dance/gymnastics more than once a week,
but it is still amazing.
The price,
her teachers,
everything is so great!

She is the second youngest by 2 weeks,
but one of the biggest kids.
Let's be honest though,
I was the giant in my 2nd grade class.
So much taller than everyone else.
Then I stopped growing in 3rd grade and haven't grown since.
The other mom's were shocked when they found out that she was only 3.
Her class ranges from 3-5 years old.

It's true,
her attention span isn't the best.
And she does get distracted by her friends,
but she loves it and she does try hard.

I have been waiting for years for the day where I got to watch one of my children perform in public.
My expectations weren't very high.
I mean after all,
she is only 3,
and dancing in front of a large group is insanely scary!
Especially when you're only 3!
Even though I practiced with her at home,
and we had a lot of talks about how this might be scary but definitely rewarding,
I really wasn't sure how she would perform.

Can we also take a moment to talk about the make up in dance?
My 3 year old was wearing more makeup than I have ever worn in my life!!!
I don't even know how to apply blush and eye shadow!
I tried watching YouTube videos,
If anyone has tips as to how to apply mascara to a 3 year old...
I'm all ears!
It is impossible!!!!
Where are all my pageant mom's at?

It was amazing that my parents could be there.
(Sorry about the closed eyes Dad...
It was the only one where Ani was smiling.
I promise to get a better one with you at her end of the year recital.)
Benson was obviously thrilled to be there...

It was sad that my husband couldn't be there,
but modern technology is amazing,
and for that I am so grateful!

Right before her team was about to hit the floor,
Aniston turned to me and said,
"Actually Mom... I don't really want to dance anymore."
My heart just broke for her.
I'm sure she was feeling nervous and anxious,
And she probably didn't understand her feelings 100%.

But then one of her little friends grabbed her hand,
And all of her fears were forgotten.

Her performance was anything but perfect.
As soon as she spotted my parents in the crowd,
Not the big crowd directly in front of her,
they were sitting on the other bleachers,
She was only dancing for them.
But eventually she got turned back around.

The best part,
That wasn't on the video,
Once the song ended and the crowd cheered,
Aniston ran straight to me and jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug ever!
I could feel how excited she was and how proud she felt of herself.

I coached competitive high school cheerleading for 4 years.
For years I got so emotional watching my own teams compete,
even though they were not my children or blood related.
I loved watching their parents beam with pride,
and witnessing the love that they had for their child and their accomplishments.
I watch my parents as they experience their children's successes,
most recently my youngest brothers insanely amazing accomplishments in debate and drama.
I even get emotional when he tells me about his successes or when I watch him on stage.
{SIDE-NOTE... At the end of this month he is playing James in James and the Giant Peach at the High School here in Rexburg. It's going to be insane!!!!!}
I yearned for the day when I would get to experience that as a parent.
was that day for me.
Watching Aniston take the floor in front of at least 200 people,
was one of the best moments of my life.
And even though the dance was far from perfect,
that didn't matter in the slightest.
She smiled the entire time.
She was happy.
She felt good about what she had accomplished,
and as her parent I couldn't help but to be so proud and,
of course,
so emotional.
I had waited for this day for years,
and I just could not stop crying.
I had to explain to Ani about "happy tears."
She thinks I'm crazy.
Today was everything that I had imagined and hoped it to be and more.

Today was definitely one of those days that I will never forget.
It was one of those parenthood milestone days that will always hold a place in my heart!

Friday, February 12, 2016

DAY 1622... When Ours Minds Lie

When I was only 14,
I was diagnosed with severe depression.
Although I loved high school,
and was very active during that time,
it was a really difficult time for me.

I have been on every single medication imaginable,
I have talked to numerous therapists,
and since that day,
I have also been diagnosed with severe anxiety.

At night,
I lay awake in bed often.
My mind racing,
my heart pounding,
and my hands shaking.

During the day,
headed to the store,
my mind starts racing,
my heart starts pounding,
and my hands began to shake again.
Not because I am scared,
but because of the anxiety that comes to me in every situation that takes place outside my home.
It even happens when people come to my house.

I can be visiting a friend,
or simply having family over,
people who I know without a doubt do not judge me,
and still these symptoms will present themselves.

Having babies did not make these symptoms any better.

I do not blame my children at all.
I do not blame anyone but myself.
It's my mind,
it's my body,
and no one can really do anything about that...
except for me.

In the past I developed horrible habits to deal with theses emotions.
I had some friends who broke me of these habits and helped me.

prayer and exercise are the best ways I have found to fight my inner demons.
Exercise is so helpful.
But there are so many days where I am so low,
that I cannot physically bring myself to actually exercise.

I have learned that what works for one person,
doesn't work for everyone.
When you open yourself up,
and expose your mental illness,
so many people,
out of the goodness of their hearts,
will give you suggestions or tips as to how to help.
I use to get really annoyed at this,
but then I realized that if they were taking the time to make suggestions,
they were only trying to help.
How can you be upset with someone who is only trying to help?

I have also learned that many people do not understand mental illness at all.
I married someone who has never experienced these feelings,
and who frankly,
does not understand how I feel or how this affects me.
He does his best,
bless his heart.
I know that this cannot be easy for him to deal with.

I would say that my min dis plagued by this negative and anxious thoughts about 80% of the day.
They sneak in when I think that I'm happy.
They sneak in when I am least expecting it.
They sneak in when I am playing with my kids.

I have learned to push them aside.
But there are times when they are just too powerful for my mind.
that's when they linger and I tend to doubt myself and my abilities more than ever.

Overcoming anxiety and depression will be a lifelong journey for me.
There are times when I feel really good,
but there are also times that I feel really bad.

I am actively learning more how to manage and deal with these lies that my mind tells me,
and sometimes that means cutting people out of my life.
Sometimes it means unfollowing people on social media.
Sometimes it means I choose not to see certain people.
Sometimes it means that I go to bed early.
Sometimes it means that I feel like a hermit and don't leave the house.
Sometimes it means that I do not respond to texts.
Sometimes it means that people get the wrong impression of me.

But part of dealing with my mental state,
is not caring about what other people think.
Of course,
that is so hard to do,
but some days I am really really successful at doing that.
But when I fail,
I fail hard.
But it's okay to fail.
And I'm learning that.
I have to remind myself of that every,
But I am learning.

And any progress,
no matter how small,
is progress.

I may never rid myself of the demons in my head,
but I can,
and I will,
manage it.

It's okay to struggle and to have faults.
But ignoring them,
and refusing the deal with them,
is where we will land ourselves in a place where no one deserves to be.

I think that it's also really important to not allow yourself to be put down or bullied by others because of your weaknesses.
I did that.
I allowed an organization to bully me because of my anxiety and depression,
and I lost something that I loved dearly because of it.
I really regret that.
this same organization has won awards for their help and willingness to fight mental illness.

How we protect ourselves from the demons in our minds will vary,
and it's up to you to find what works.
But I know,
without a doubt,
that there is hope for every single person.
Your world may be the darkest black in this hour,
but I know that it does get better.
It doesn't always stay better and there will always be storms to weather,
but there is always hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

DYI... Valentine's

Aniston is still obsessed with Star Wars.
She actually calls it Darth Vader.
But the obsession lives on.

So when it came time to get things ready for her Valentine's Day Party at school,
I was not surprised that she insisted on "Darth Vader" Valentines.

I have this thing about making things.
Not because I have the time,
or because I think what I make is better than anything store bought,
but because it gives Aniston and I an opportunity to do something together,
and to add puts a little more love into whatever we make.

I found these super cute Star Wars clip art set from DorkyPrints,
(view them here),
And opened up a word document and got to work.

With a little help from Pinterest,
what did we ever do before Pinterest?
This is what we came up with.

I felt a little iffy about the Han Solo with a gun,
but it's Star Wars.
I'm not encouraging any child to use a gun,
but it's Star Wars...
If any parent has an issue,
they can bring it up to me.
I had the same hesitation when Aniston insisted on bringing her Little People nativity as her show and tell.
I was sure someone was going to freak out,
but it went down without an issue.

Each card will have a green, blue or red glow stick (lightsaber) attached,
and will be hand delivered,
by Aniston,

to her classmates during their Valentines Day Party.