Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gender reveal!

We are having 2 BOYS!!!!  It has taken me a little time to write this post. I needed time to take it all in!  The first day we found out we were having twins I told Derek: " I don't think I could ever raise twin boys!"  I said this over and over to myself and others for several weeks,  Being a mom of many boys, I know that 2 (or 3 or 4..) boys together means energy, noise, teasing, fighting, tears (sometimes theirs, sometime my own) and sometimes even blood.  I know that my stewardship over my children includes teaching them to love and most days it's hard to recognize progress in this area with all of that going on.

Then there is the issue of Adelaide having a sister.  I have 5 amazing sisters who are so much a part of my life that I can't imagine a world without them.  Like my sweet Mother, they inspire me to be better, advise me when I am in a difficult situation, comfort me when I struggling and serve me when I am in need.  How could Adelaide go through life without even one sister?

All of these thoughts filled my mind as the ultrasound tech announced that we would be having 2 boys.  I must have looked pretty flustered because she asked me multiple times if I was OK.  Derek on the other hand couldn't keep from laughing out loud which made the whole situation even more comical.

Shock was only the first of the emotions that hit me, next I went through denial, and then a strange sadness.  My sadness  was for the loss of the sister that I had somehow been sure was coming for Adelaide.   After feeling this sadness, I  then felt guilt for feeling sad (why would any human being ever feel sad when she is able to bring 2 beautiful children into the world?)  These thoughts recycled themselves over and over in my mind. After about a week I gathered the courage to tell my extended family who had kindly reported that they were praying that we could add another girl to our family.

Before I had announced the gender of the babies to neighbors, I got a call from a sweet friend who told me (without knowing our news) how glad she was that there were strong families raising boys who could one day marry daughters like hers.  I know she was inspired to call since I think the adversary  had been filling my heart and mind with just the opposite idea: that I was already doing so poorly with the boys I was raising now that adding to that number would only make everything worse.

In time I was able to recognize that my feelings off loss for the sister we wouldn't give Adelaide did not equal sadness at having 2 baby boys.  It was a totally separate emotion.  Working though those emotions I was able feel, peace, then total joy at the privilege of welcoming these little spirits into our home.  I have also come to realize that although I cherish the sister relationship I enjoy with my own siblings, God has sent me "sisters" who, while not my blood relations are every bit as dear and precious to me as my own family.  I have no doubt that Adelaide will be equally blessed in her life as she finds dear friends to fill in those gaps.  Besides, she will ever be the lone princess in the Jensen home, and who wouldn't love that?

Although it would be a while before I would feel this  complete peace I could feel God whispering peace to me the very evening of the ultrasound.  As I drifted off to sleep I could hear the words of a favorite primary song come to my heart: "We are as the army of Helaman...".  6 boys, could potentially mean 6 missionaries.  That would be pretty awesome!  I may not be the mother that I dream of being, Many moments of our day are filled with all  those boy things I mentioned above and more but a home full of boys also can mean a home of strength (physical and emotional), a home of service, a home of missionaries, a home of protection and a home filled with the priesthood.  Who wouldn't feel so blessed to have all those things?  Besides, if my boys end up anywhere close to being like Derek, they are going to be amazing.

Yes we are having 2 more boys!  I can now say with a smile (and a twinkle in my eye!),  Isn't is womderful!?

 Baby "A" 3-D facial image

Baby "B" 3-D facial image

Friday, August 21, 2015

Guess the gender of our twins!!!!

I recently did a photo shoot with my kids and got these photos, some were a little happier than others to have their photo take:).  Looking at these beautiful photos warms my heart and makes me realize how quickly they grow!  It also makes me wonder what things will be like in a few months when we add 2 more to the mix.  What will the twins be? make a guess!  Will they be boys? Girls? or one of each? comment below!

Wesley age 13

David Age 11

Keller age 9

 Adam age 6

Adelaide age 4

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a new journey

We are adding 4 feet to our family!

                                   Jensen twins: due Feb. 2016!

This photo was taken when Adelaide was just days old.  At the time it seemed crazy to see that many little feet belonging to our family.   Having Adelaide join all those big brothers made our family feel a level of joy we didn't know was possible.  I wondered how I could ever want for more.  As time passed I didn't feel a void necessarily but I could never feel peace about being all the way done with the "having children" phase.

All the moms I talked to had their own stories of feeling closure; some said they knew their family was complete the moment their last baby was born.  Others said that over time they felt peace gradually sometimes over a period of years.  I figured since I hadn't had any revelation about it that my closure would have to come gradually.  I prayed for peace, I had faith that if I gave away all my baby toys, car seats, crib, changing table and blankets and bought a car with exactly 7 seats in it that I would be showing God that I had the courage to look forward to our next chapter: "Child Rearing".

I even told Heavenly Father that His helping us get over to Russia with a family of kids could be a sign that we are ready for that chapter by going on cazy adventures with the children we already have.  Things were going great, or so I thought,  Soon after getting home from our traveling I was awoken by a little voice whispering  "Mom".  When I opened my eyes there was no one there.  I was tired...was I just hearing things?  Then it happened again and this time it was so real to me that I actually answered: "what?"...when I opened my eyes again there was no one there.

I began a very long very painful battle with myself. I wanted to have another child, if it were God's will, certainly I would be obedient if I felt prompted to do so, but each time I asked in prayer I felt that His answer was that the choice was mine.  "Well, if the choice is mine" I reasoned, "Considering the challenge it is to raise the 5 very dynamic children that we have and considering every one of my many weaknesses, I choose out of pure logic to be done."   Yet that answer would never really bring me peace.

Weeks and months passed.  I asked for a priesthood blessing, attended the temple weekly, fasted and prayed earnestly begging for an answer.  Each time the answer was the same; this choice was mine to make.  I have made many decision based on faith and obedience.  I feel like obedience was not the issue, God clearly wanted me to be strong enough to decide on my own and to own my decision. Why couldn't He just tell me the right choice?

Finally one day my answer came.  Oddly, it happened on my temple day but not at the temple. Although it was my day to be at the temple, I hadn't gone since I was expecting family to come in town.  I was standing in my kitchen washing dishes as my two younger kids played with play dough. We were listening to Janice Kapp Perry's greatest hits CD, when my very favorite of her songs came on.
             "Where is heaven?  Is it very far?  I would like to know if it's beyond the
               brightest  star...I can see it, that it's not so far, when you're with the ones
               you love it's right where you are."

And it was, for one moment as if heaven really were in my kitchen.  I was overcome with peace, joy and a desire to bring another child into our home.  Not because I felt like I should, or because I wanted to obey.  I wanted it with all my heart.  I had made the decision for myself!  It felt so good!
I immediately sent a text to Derek telling him that I really wanted a baby.  He has ever been wary of having a child too far apart from the other kids.  He replied: "Well, if we are going to go for it, let's just have 2!"

I suppose that sending us twins is just the remedy for Derek's concerns.  Now I see God's wisdom in helping me choose this choice on my own (with His help of course but without feeling compelled or commanded). I feel it had to be that way in order to have the strength to accept that our family will be jumping overnight from 7 to 9!  Jensen town is about to get just a little crazier than it already is!  I say: Bring it on!

"Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not."  D&C 6:36

summer fun

Arrow of Light

On July 22, 2015 David received his Arrow of light.

Easter 2015

Russian 101

Stateside Home-bound Journey

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thrift-Store Parenting and Orphanage #3

I love shopping at thrift stores. To me going thrift-store shopping is like going on a treasure hunt.  Some people avoid thrift stores because they are filled with other people’s old, unwanted stuff organized under one roof like a glorified garbage dump. In Order to find the gems that are hidden there one must put in the time and be patient while sifting through the mountains of other stuff.  People who avoid thrift stores will save themselves the much time and effort it takes to search for treasures but they may  never find that first edition book or discontinued toy among all the clothes from the 1970s.  I think that being a parent is a lot like thrift-store shopping.  Most days are really hard.  There are piles of dirty laundry to clean, loads of dirty dishes to wash and toilets to scrub (all of which I actually enjoy doing if I have the luxury of having a day devoted to cleaning.)  What’s really hard is watching your children struggle or quarrel or fail.  But then there’s the glorious gem that comes when your child does something amazing that really surprises you, or they finally understand a principle you have been trying to instill in them for years.
Our whole experience in Russia was much like this.  Each day was filled with trials, frustration, discomfort, inconveniences and let downs (many of which I was fully prepared for and glad about for the sake of my kids who had not known a life outside of the ease and comforts of small-town Idaho.) And then there were some sweet, amazing moments that could never have been made possible with out all the sadness.   I thought that by taking my kids to a local orphanage and getting them acquainted with some amazing orphan kids that they would really understand the gift that it is to be a part of a family (albeit a crazy one!)
It took a lot of persuasion to get the director of Orphanage #3 to allow our family to come do service there which was no surprise.  Before heading to Russia I had worked for months trying to find a service opportunity for our family during our time in Saint Petersburg with no luck.  I don’t know if it was the fact that we were Americans or that they simply didn’t want outsiders in their children’s homes.  After setting up a meeting with the Orphanage director she told us we could help with the English class.  I imagined singing songs and doing fun activities with loads of little sweet orphan children.  When we got there they lead us to a nice room with 5 teen-aged orphans who already spoke really good English.  Could we really do any good for these kids? I had a flashback of when I went to Russia 21 years ago with a youth group bringing gifts to orphanages.  Each orphanage that we visited put on a huge show; singing songs and giving us gifts in return.  It was so strange because all we wanted to do was to serve and do good but it seemed equally exhausting for them to host us.
Even though it was not what we expected we were excited for an opportunity to do any service.  We had a lot of fun and the English teacher invited us back for the following week, only the message must not have been communicated to the director because when we arrived no one was ready for us.  Everyone was scrambling when they saw us.  We ended up getting an unofficial tour of the orphanage (given by one of senior orphans) where we were able to meet orphans of all ages and see their living quarters etc.  It was so cool to have this very real, very sweet glimpse into their world. These dear children living at Orphanage #3 lived in rooms with 5 kids per room and 3 rooms per group.  Each group had a common area and a grandma that lovingly watched over them; helping with homework, laundering clothes, making meals and giving encouragement.  The kids seamed much like siblings very comfortable together, they were put into groups of varying ages and many of them shared similar hobbies as siblings would.  


 We taught one group how to make bracelets and they gave us some Russian coins.  We had a wonderful time.  We told them we would see them next week and made a plan to make bracelets for each orphan (about 60).  When we bumped an assistant director she looked stern.  She said we shouldn’t have come.  I had a feeling that catching them off guard was going to bring consequences.  Sure enough the director sent me a text the next week telling me that they were unable to accept us regularly.  We had promised the kids to meet them the next week to finish making bracelets together.  I tried calling the director just to ask if we could see the kids one more time but she didn’t respond to my calls.  Why did it have to be so hard to do good?  I don’t know if anti-American sentiment had anything to do with it.  I’m certain the director thought she was doing what was best for the children, but allowing them to choose I’m certain things would have been different. 
We had already begun making bracelets for each of the children and promised to return so we decided to continue to make the gifts and see if we could drop them off sometime before heading home.  It took us several weeks to make and assemble 60 gifts but we finally got them all ready and wrapped.  We decided to drop them off on our last day in the country (which happened to be a Sunday and I was hoping that the staff might be reduced allowing us to actually go inside the orphanage and give them the gifts ourselves).
I decided it would be wise to only bring Wesley and David so as not to be too overwhelming to the children.  I have to pause and say at this point that a certain one of my children had protested every outing we had gone on since day one in Russia.  I prayed that he would agree to going to the orphanage because I knew that if we could get in that it would be a very amazing way to end our trip. 
To my surprise although given the chance to head home with Dad, he offered to go with us!  Before entering the orphanage we huddled together and said a prayer that we would be permitted to go inside and give the kids the gifts ourselves.  As we approached the entrance I recognized the grandma on duty.  She smiled and warmly greeted me.  I told her that we were leaving the country in the morning and asked her if we could give the children some hand-made gifts.  She said yes!  What a sweet thing it was to give our gifts to each child along with a card with our contact information that read: “you always have a friend in America”.   Once inside with the kids we sang and laughed and enjoyed a wonderful time together.  I wished I could have stayed with them forever!  
One Darling girl Liza (age 15) was so excited to have us there.  I loved her so much and wanted to give her something special since our gifts were more for younger kids. I realized that I could give her the earrings out of my ears.  When I gave them to her she squeezed them in her hand and said, this is the best ever! She asked me if I could take her home.  My heart was so full of sadness that I couldn’t just take her with us, how I wish I could have!!
 As we mounted our scooters for the journey home we said another prayer to thank God for His kindness in helping us have that experience with the kids. Then that same child who had not been much excited about anything during out trip had a mighty change of heart, he said: “Mom, do you think we could ever adopt a Russian orphan?” My heart could have exploded with happiness at the sweetness of that moment.  I explained to him that Vladimir Putin had recently made it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian orphans.  

Even though our experience with the orphanage was definitely not what I had dreamed it would be, the joy of that evening spent together with those kids will stay forever in our hearts.

Our family may be quirky and loud, we may have times where we disagree, fight, yell, cry and hurt feelings but we also love and forgive one another and we never give up on each other because we are working for the eternal prize of being together forever.  Having the chance to be with and love those kids made us all realize how precious it is to be a part of a family, one you can hold onto forever no matter what.  Just like finding the treasure in the thrift store after hours of searching, during those final hours of our time in Russia we had found our treasure and it gave purpose and meaning to all of the struggling and heartache.
“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.” D&C 58:3

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rest and Relaxation in Riga!

Have you ever reached into the pocket of some jeans you love but haven't worn forever to find a 20-dollar bill?  Best day ever right?

 It's even sweeter when you really really need the money:). I recently found my own lost treasure, one that I really really needed, only it was much more valuable me than money:).  Towards the end of our Russian stay I got a message on google plus from a dear dear friend whom I hadn't seen or heard from in many years.

Sister Kearns was an answer to prayer for me in the MTC when she joined me and my companion to make a threesome halfway through my stay at there.  Her energy, smile and completely completely real personality helped me to ease up and smile more as I tend to take things a little too seriously.  I loved her! How could I not totally love her! We served in different missions and ended up losing track of each other over the years. Hearing from her was such a treat! Even more exciting was the fact that she was working in Riga, Latvia not far from Petersburg!  She invited me to come visit and offered us to stay in her lovely home.  Even though we were getting short on time there I really wanted to go!

Since we knew we would already be traveling to Moscow we took a 14 hour bus ride from Moscow to Riga (it seems like would be drudgery but actually it was SO much fun my older boys and my sister Chrissy...can I just say that traveling with her is the most fun EVER, she has been all over the world but that doesn't stop her from being perfectly amazed and thrilled by each new place she travels!)

We even met a Latvian Olympian on the bus who had participated in the Salt Lake games which I had attended (small world!)

and when we got to the train station we met some sweet Russian-speaking missionaries (yay!)

Being with Amy was once again an answer to prayer and just what we needed during that time.

 I hope with all of my heart that I can be someone's lucky penny sometime as she was for me and that I can strengthen the feeble knees and lift up the hands that hang down.  Viva La Riga!