About Me

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Hi I’m Jen- I'm one lucky lady to be married to the most wonderful man, Jason. I am a mother to three beautiful children, Grant, Norah, who was born with hydrocephalus, and Mason. I love spending my time with my family. I also like to challenge myself with new things. I'm on a constant quest to become more organized, it may never happen but it's a dream. I currently work part-time as a RN in an emergency department. I love this journey of life that I am on with God by my side, knowing that all things are possible when you Believe.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Play, play, play

A place where imaginative play is encouraged and loud noises are welcome, that is a place for us. Betty Brinn Children's Museum is where we headed to celebrate Norah's birthday. Much fun was had by the birthday girl and her big brother, as well Jason's parents and his brother's family.

What a fun afternoon!

Monday, July 25, 2011


I had a couple of posts planned for this last week but life with three kids has meant to go with the flow (or sometimes, roll with the punches). So for now I'll give some quick updates.
  • Norah decided to finish out her birthday in true style. Just before bedtime Norah crawled into the bathroom after pulling off her shorts and leaving her diaper behind to attempt to use the toilet. She continues to show some interest in potty training but we aren't pushing it. I was sitting in the family room nursing Mason when I heard her crawling onto her potty chair, followed by a crash. I'm not sure how she fell but as soon as Jason found her sitting next to the toilet and as soon as he picked her up it was apparent we had a problem. When Norah fell, she developed a hernia. She was seen in the ER and next week will see a surgeon to plan surgery (hopefully while I'm still on maternity leave). Until then we are watching it closely to make sure it doesn't cause any problems.
  • Mason is 7 weeks, time is flying by. I can't believe how quickly he is growing and changing. This week, he has given me the gift of sleep. He learned that sleeping 6 to 7 hours straight is a good thing. In return of this gift of sleep, Mason has become a bit more demanding during the day. He likes to eat every two hours and if he's awake, his preferred spot is in Mommy's arms. We compromised the last couple of days with a sling.
  • Grant amazes me with all the changes he has made since turning 3. He is a boy that likes to stay busy, busy, busy. If we can't keep him busy, he find his own projects. This last weekend, he did a great job keeping up on task as we worked to clean up the landscaping around the house and work on some projects in the house. He has taken to his roll as big brother, being helpful to entertain his little brother or help Norah reach something. Currently he would like to start changing his siblings diapers for me, while I would love the break from stinky diapers, I think I'll keep that task for myself or Jason for now. I do love his enthusiasm though.
  • Jason's company was given a new contract to start on this last week that brings us some peace and decreased stress of unknowns of job stability. We are hopeful that this will continue. We would really like to sell our house, and buy a new home. While Norah is doing far more with her development than we were ever given hope for, her gross motor skills have us concerned. Norah is currently walking with a walker, a walker that doesn't fit a couple doors in our house, including the bathroom and we have lots of stairs in our house. We don't know how long Norah will need a walker for, a year or a lifetime, we would like to a house that she is able to move around in.
  • As for me, I'm trying to soak in all this wonderful family time I have been able to have while home on maternity leave. I have truly enjoyed this time with my family. This last week I have started to tackle some deep cleaning and organizing that I put off while I was pregnant. It feels good to sort through things, put them in the right spot and get rid things that we just don't need.
  • Last is Charlie, our beautiful Cockapoo that Jason and I have had for 6 1/2 years. We love our dog dearly and have had to come to terms that maybe it is time to find a new home for him. We learned that Charlie is extremely sensitive to babies crying when we had Grant. Every. time. a baby cries Charlie howls (and howls, and howls). He becomes very stressed by having a baby in the house (and we've had 3 in the last 3 years). We have been able to accommodate Charlie, but at times he has been aggressive. We would feel terrible if anything we to happen to our children because of him and feel that he deserved to be loved and spoiled something we currently cannot do since we have to keep him separate from the kids. This week he will be spending some time with another family to see if they would like to take Charlie. We pray that we are doing the right thing for Charlie and that this family will want to keep Charlie. I feel so torn about giving my dog to another family, but know that the stress we have been feeling isn't good for any of us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Norah's Turning 2!!

Happy Birthday Norah!!

Could two years really have gone by this quickly? What an amazing year it has been.

A year ago you had just began to sit unsupported. You weren't able to get yourself into a sitting position on your own, but would try hard. You could lay in a crunched position with your head and feet off the floor for 30 seconds at a time. We would tease you about your abs of steel. Now you can pull yourself to stand and are walking with a walker. You are just beginning to stand independently. You tease us with one good 5 to 10 second stand during therapy but as soon as we're home, you refuse. You have taught us that you will do things in your own way and in your own time, so we should be patient.

Last year we were just listening to our first 'mama' and 'dada' being called out with your sweet voice. This morning we woke up at 4:30am to you screaming "Mama. Dada. All done napping. Time for snuggles. Mama! All done napping!!" You have developed amazing language skills. You listen to us speaking and take your time repeating what we are saying. In the last month you have begun singing songs to us. Your favorite songs: You Are My Sunshine and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

You have found a fondness for your baby dolls. You love to feed your baby doll a bottle then sing them Rock a Bye Baby. You are very nurturing in you actions whether it be playing with you dolls or helping soothe you new baby brother, Mason. You crawl up next to him as soon as he begins to cry. You try to give him his pacifier and tell him "I know Mason, it's OK. It's OK Mason. Adododo-oo."

You keep us guessing with that shunt of yours. Since January you have had several episodes of vomiting and tiredness that make us very concerned. We haven't figure out what is causing it and why it comes and goes the way it does, but we will keep working hard to find answers. Eating has proven to also be an area of struggle so we are thankful that you love to drink your Pediasure. You like to tease us with taking a bite of food then spitting it back out 5 minutes later. But we having been working with a speech therapist to improve those chewing skills, sloooowly we have been making progress. You recently began taking bites from your food rather than making us cut it into little pieces.

You have develop your own way of manipulating us to get what you want. Whenever you aren't getting what you want, you turn to one of us and so sweetly and innocently say one simple word: snuggle. We gladly oblige, picking you up with a smile, happy to snuggle up with our sweet baby girl. Within seconds of us picking you up, you begin squirming to get down or over to want you were trying to get to. You leaving us shaking our head, thinking we fell for it again. A smart one you are.

We are proud to be your parents Norah! Happy Birthday Sweetie Pie! Love, Mom & Dad

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Ultimate Job Training - Becoming Norah's Mommy

Tomorrow my baby girl turns two. I can't believe two years have past, but more I think about everything Norah has overcome, I feel blessed to be her Mommy. I think that God has an amazing thing going on down here on this Earth of ours. I pray to Him daily ask for his guidance for everything from strength, patience, understanding, acceptance, to help getting Grant to stay in his bed, for Norah's health and for Mason to sleep for at least 4 hours during the night. I ultimately know that everything comes in His time and prayers are not always answered exactly how I asked for them to be answered. For God has a plan for each of us and as I look back at the journey I have taken thus far and choices I made and know that His hands were working to mold and shape me to become Norah's mom.

My parents helped me to start on this path by teaching me about God and His amazing love. They encouraged me to participate in activities through our church, school, 4H and girl scouts. All of these lead to volunteering to help others often at nursing homes or group homes for those with developmental delays. Time was spent getting to others who may have been different from me, but had so much love to give.

When I was in high school, summers were spent working at summer camps that put on for kids in local communities with ADHD. If we hadn't spent endless time learning about this during training sessions I wouldn't have known that these kids were any different. I love spending time doing activities and playing games.

While in college I worked as a student athletic trainer, learning to be watchful during activities and how to help recover from injuries. I loved be involved with the athletes and learned how much goes into making collegiate athletes their best and the dedication that is involved from not only the athlete but also their coaches, teammates and trainers.

I spent two summers during those college years, working at summer camps. The first camp I worked at was Shetek Lutheran Bible Camp. One of the weeks was spent with campers with special needs, by far the best week of the summer. I learned alot that summer, and left wondering if I wanted to have my own kids someday. Being the person to watch over ten, 13 year old girls for a week would make anyone go a little crazy.

The other camp I went to work at was Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake. This place is amazing. Many different groups brought campers to this spectacular place including MDA and Easter Seals. The whole summer was spent working with a whole spectrum of people with special needs/concerns weather it be muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism to children who had been sexually assaulted. This was a big summer for me. I learned more about myself working here than at any other time in my life. I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue a career in dietetics. I also knew at the end of that summer I wanted to marry my now husband, but that wouldn't happen for two more years.

After that amazing summer, I had no idea what I wanted to do, other that marry the man I love. I finished my degree in dietetics, while also getting a new job working at a nursing home as a patient care assistant. My nutrition background did not go unused, it has served me well working with Norah and her difficulty gaining weight. But what next...what anyone would love to do, move back in with your mom and dad. Yup back to where I was four years prior. I did get the next job in this grand plan of His, preparing me.

Children's Care Hospital and Schools is an incredible place in Sioux Falls, SD.  This is a place where special needs can come to live. I once heard it described as a nursing home for kids, and while I found that to be a sad statement because this place is amazing, it does help to begin to think about what this place does for kids. It was here I knew what was next, I wanted to become a nurse.

Back to school I went, excited about truly knowing what I wanted to do. During this time, is when I began working at the same hospital I still work at today. I worked my way up, starting as a patient care assistant, then as a nurse extern, until I became a Registered Nurse. I had even taken care of a couple patients with shunt failures prior to becoming pregnant with Norah. We see very few of those at the hospital I work at, and I was the one who was assigned to be their nurse, coincidence or all in His plan? You tell me.

Now I can spend a few moments, as I snuggle with my beautiful little girl, to wonder why God choose me to be Norah's mommy. I can now see it was always part of His plan. I feel blessed that He prepared me so well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Discovering Grass

One of my favorite first for all of our kids has been discovering grass. That first time they are gently placed in the bed of lush long green grass. Their face goes from being shocked from the new sensation to one of wonder, what is the long tickling stuff all around me. Last night I watched in amazement again as I laid Mason down in the grass. He enjoyed kicking his legs, and squirming around. He even reach out in attempt to take hold of it. I do believe he liked it. At least for 10 minutes then he wanted back to a place he prefers these days, in his mommy's arms.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Enjoying Millennium Park

I thought I share some more pictures from last Saturday when we were in Chicago. We arrived early to the park in anticipation for the days' events. I didn't want to be late because of construction or the unpredictable Chicago traffic. While we waited for our friends to arrive, we had fun looking at ourselves in the large mirrored bean that sits in Millennium Park. It was so fun to see Grant and Norah discover their reflection. Norah took a little bit longer to discover her reflection but once she did she wanted to keep touching and give kissing it.

Once it was time for us to part ways with our new friends, we had to fulfill a promise to a very cute little boy who wanted to play in the fountain. It was such a gorgeous afternoon, we couldn't say no, and I came prepared with extra clothes for these 'just in case' moments. Norah liked to watch the water, but when it can to be near it and the possibility of getting wet she didn't want anything to do with it. Jason kept a watchful eye over Mason while capturing some good  pictures of us stomping in the water.

Once we were wet, we strolled around the park drying off. We enjoyed the rest beautiful afternoon with our little family. Jason told me that he didn't think we were considered little anymore, now that we have three kids, but I disagree. It feels like we are still a little family so I'm stick with it.

Once Grant was spun until he couldn't walk straight and his picture was taken next to the 'Grant Park Music Fastival' Sign, and Norah had posed for a dozen pictures where she continues to 'pick nose' and Mason had taken a nap and ate again, we finally had to leave Millennium Park behind and head back to Wisconsin.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Making New Friends

On Saturday our family had an amazing outing to Chicago, getting to meet to other wonderful families that each have a little girl that also has hydrocephalus. We first "met" these families through the internet. When I first learned of Norah's diagnosis of hydrocephalus I found the Fetal Hydrocephalus website that has a list of blogs kept by families that have children living with hydrocephalus. I read everyone of the blogs and stories listed looking for hope, and I found it. One of those blogs was The Beautiful Cayman Cindy, whose mother Kristen has an amazing talent for writing, photography and giving hope to someone like me.

All three moms holding their girls for snack time
 I continue to belong to a couple of websites with message boards for families and people with hydrocephalus as well as check in the the fetal hydrocephalus website. Shortly after Norah had turned one I "met" Claire's parents who had just learned that their baby was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. It brought back all the raw emotions I felt when we had just learned of Norah's diagnosis. I wanted them to know I had been where they were and give them the same hope I had looked for while I was pregnant. They also began keeping an wonderful blog called Our Journey with Fetal Hydrocephalus.

This weekend we were privileged to get to spend the day with both of these families, and meet them in real life. It was a surreal feeling to be sitting next to the people that you have seen pictures of and written back and forth to but had never really met.

We spent time talking and playing in Millennium Park getting to know each other and share stories. I really enjoyed meeting both of these families and wished the day could have lasted longer. Now I'm looking forward to hopefully getting together again in the future and also meeting some of these other families who I've met through the Internet in person.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Baseball Team & a Cheerleader

That's what I heard my dad calling his nine grandsons and one granddaughter. I thought it was a cute way to described all of them.

4th of July Weekend Fun

We spent the holiday weekend at my parent's cabin in Minnesota with all my sibling and their children. We are becoming quite the clan. We hadn't all been together since Christmas so it nice to see everyone and catch up.

Grant loved being outside weather it was sitting on Grandpa's riding lawn mower, playing in the sand or in the water.

Norah also loved the sand, but didn't want to explore the water. She was content to sit on the deck and play or watch over Mason.

Mason's schedule is still very much spent eating and sleeping, so as long as he was comfy, he was happy.

blogger has something against this pic & won't upload it correctly, grr

It was a wonderful family weekend! I just wish I could have seen the fireworks, but it was late and Norah was over tired and all Mason wanted to do was nurse. Oh well, maybe next year.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Double Baptism

Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

While we were home over the 4th of July weekend, Mason was baptized along side his cousin Jack, who was born just a couple weeks before him. My dad had asked my sister and I to consider doing this since he would have a hard time finding coverage for his business to come to two separate baptisms where we each live. Since Mason's middle name is Randall after my dad, we felt that is was very important for him to be there. Unfortunately doing this 500 miles from where we live meant that Jason's family was unable to be there, and were missed.

Mason and Jack were able to be baptized by the same minister that married their parents. They were also baptism in the church I attended growing up and where Jason and I made our wedding vows. It truly was a special day.

Both of families and sponsors of Mason and Jack

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Three Peanuts Stuffed in a Van

We love getting to go visit my parents, and the kids love their Granny and Grandpa. However, this comes with a long road trip, one that is 500 miles. If we could drive without stops it would take us around eight hours to get there. Our increasing family has made 8 hours in the cars fade away. This last weekend for the 4th of July Holiday we traveled to Granny and Grandpa's lake house, it took us just over 12 hours to get there. Eight hours in a car is long enough, tacking on four more hours gets you a lot of "are we there yet?" from Grant while Norah pipes in saying "all done." Stops for nursing Mason, potty breaks for Grant, and getting out of the car to eat all added up despite trying to enough entertainment to occupy our little travel mates.  Movies, Leapster video games, Tag Jr, books, baby dolls, snacks and singing did not take us as far as I had hoped.

Grant & Mason in the back seat, Grant loves sitting next to his little brother . He does a great job keeping him happy in his infant carrier.

Norah watches over her brothers from her middle seat.

Before we made the return trip home we wore out the kids as much as possible to see if we could knock some time off. It was successful because we were able to get home in just over 9 hours. We could have been home about a half hour less but Norah had a complete melt down after 6 hours in the van. We pulled over and calmed her down and we were off again. Mason was a complete trooper on the way home. He was going four hours between nursing sessions, and he would just sleep away in his car seat.

**We are also loving the new layout of the seats in the van. We put two car seats in the back allowing us to fold down one in the middle. This gives us a big space to work with, if it's raining outside we can get in to put the kids in their seats without getting drenched, there's a spot for Norah's walker and a good spot for a quick diaper change. **