Bio: Jennifer

DreamTeamJennifer and Family
  • Age: 37
  • Spouse: I've been married to Michael since 1995. He's a high school English teacher and an online college instructor.
  • Kids: Rebecca (11), Anna (8), and Daniel (2)
  • Pets: Hunny (a sweet, loving, and not-too-intelligent Cockapoo) and Mr. Smee (a Flame Point Siamese mutt who loves kids and avoids most adults) -- both were rescued from shelters
  • Hometown: Born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago, I now live in the middle of corn and soybean fields about 100 miles southwest of the city. We're seven miles from the nearest town -- no stoplights, population less than 3,000!
  • Writing: My credits include FamilyFun, The Chicago Tribune, Woman's World, and numerous regional parenting and online publications.
Greatest inspiration: Mary, the mother of Jesus

The song/TV show/movie that best describes my family life: I'm torn between the theme song from The Addams Family and "We're All in This Together," from High School Musical.

Favorite time of day with my kids: If our evening isn't too chaotic, we can manage to watch television together before the girls go to bed. It's nice now that they are older and we can watch something non-animated that we all enjoy. Lately it's been "I Love Lucy" reruns with me on the couch and one girl tucked under each arm.

Least Proud "Mom" Moment: My own mother left me in a store once... While I've yet to duplicate that moment, when Rebecca was about 10 months old, I put her in for a morning nap and sat down to work on an article. She was fussing, which wasn't unusual -- she has always had to complain about going to sleep. I was on the phone, interviewing an expert for an article I was writing. Rebecca was fussing longer than usual, but I had to finish the interview. Finally, about 20 minutes after I had put her in her crib, I went into the bedroom to find her still sobbing with her foot stuck out through the crib rails. She couldn't figure out how to turn her foot straight to pull it back through. Guess who napped in my arms that morning?

Biggest fear: If we're talking visceral, heart-pounding fear, then I'd have to say spiders, especially indoors.

Funniest thing my kids have said or done lately: They just don't say as many funny things as they get older. Spelling sentences, however, can be very telling. In second grade, Rebecca wrote one for the word, "expert." Her father, who at the time, was known to stage elaborate games of indoor tag with his daughters, was presented this way: "My dad is an expert at chasing girls."

Most embarrassing moment: Anna's first grade class made a "book about moms" for Mother's Day last year. Each child answered the same series of questions, and the teacher compiled all the answers into a book -- one page per question. On the page, "My mom always says," one child said, "I love you," another said, "You are my special girl," and Anna said, "Stop that!" On the page, "My mom's favorite thing to do," one child said, "Play with me," another said, "Cuddle," and Anna said, "Talk on the phone!"

Favorite season or holiday: Being married to a teacher has spoiled me, as I love summer vacation and having three solid months of "family time."

Parenting pet peeve: Clothing that is tossed into the hamper inside out, balled up, or with socks and underpants stuck in the legs of pants drives me batty.

Favorite midnight snack (or afternoon snack with kids): My kids love when I make "Mommy's Special Mix" after school, which is nothing more than an assortment of five or six things I find in the pantry, tossed "trail mix" style in a sandwich baggie.

My Philosophy of Parenting (in 20 words or less!) Never say never. Never say, "I'll never have a toy box in my living room!" Never, ever say, "MY child will never behave that way in church." (Okay, 27 words -- I tried!)

If money were no object: I'd have at least three more children.

Five things in my purse: A bag of YoGo snacks, a really dull emery board, keys to the girls' school (I'm on the Board of Education), a Kermit & Piggy coin purse, and a picture of my kids from December 2006.

Best advice I've ever given: Listen to your Mommy (or Daddy) voice. Parents know their child better than anyone. Even experts can be wrong. If an issue shows up on your radar, take the time to investigate it to your and your child's satisfaction.

Best thing about my husband/wife: Michael is my best friend.

Biggest parenting challenge: Trying to raise "others first" kids in a "me first" society.

Least favorite household chore: Hmmm ... looking around, I'd have to say dusting!

Favorite family dinner: Oddly, the one food that I can cook which everyone will happily eat (even the baby) is chili. We've been eating it two or three times a month, lately. Even in the summer!

The most important thing I can teach my children: I want my children to understand that attitude is more important than accomplishments.

The biggest lesson I've learned from my kids: Leave your expectations at the door! My children are constantly surprising me with their feelings, thoughts, and reactions. When I expect a situation to unsettle them, they roll with the punches. When I think smooth sailing is ahead, they find chaos. My girls are daredevils and athletes and my boy isn't too keen on merry-go-rounds. I've learned to let my children, instead of society and well-meaning friends and relatives, let me know what works for each of them.

null data...
promoObjectId (null)
promoObject.title ()
promoObject.contentType ()
promoWidth ()
promoHeight ()
promoContainerId (editorialPromo1)
promoCSS (on_travelTips_aggregate)
this displays when the floating stack report is on
null data...
promoObjectId (null)
promoObject.title ()
promoObject.contentType ()
promoWidth ()
promoHeight ()
promoContainerId (editorialPromo2)
promoCSS (on_travelTips_aggregate)
this displays when the floating stack report is on