Mom Salute: Jenny Trainor

Jenny with her husband Patrick and their children Levi, Luke, and Cambrie.

Jenny Trainor and her family live in a suburb outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she's made a big impression on her mommy friends. She's the type of mom we all aspire to be--the one who seems to treasure and soak in every moment of motherhood and who is content to selflessly put her family's needs first; the one who absolutely loves spending time with her kids. I always admire mothers who find true joy in motherhood and remind me that despite being difficult at times, there isn't much if anything that can bring more happiness than raising a family and watching your children learn, grow, and enjoy life. Jenny also recently began what I consider a superhuman feat when she started homeschooling her oldest son. Homeschool moms amaze me! To top off her homemaking feats, Jenny is a couponing extraordinaire, so maybe we'll see her on that crazy coupons go show on TLC one of these days.

One of Jenny's Minneapolis friends, Lindsay, nominated her for a salute and had this to say about the friend she admires so much:

Jenny has an enthusiasm for motherhood that is contagious. The first time I met Jenny she had just had her first first baby and one of the first things she did was show us her baby and with a huge grin on her face say, "And now I'm a mommy!" That same joy hasn't faded over the years. 
She is a fun mom and is constantly thinking of and doing fun things with her kids - drive in movie birthday complete with box cars - check, bring a water table into the gym at church to fill up those long winter days - check [remember warm weather friends, this is Minneapolis we're talking about!], chase all the kids around at the park while being the monster - check, and so on and so on. While I might be inclined to sit and talk to other moms at park days, Jenny is out chasing and playing with all the kids. 
Jenny is not only a fun mom, but also an excellent teacher.  She currently is homeschooling her son and you can see her taking moments to teach and train her children in all they do. Jenny is truly an example of someone who finds the joy in motherhood.

Jenny's mother shared these thoughts about her daughter:

Jenny Trainor is one of the most patient, fun loving mothers that I know. She is the only mom I know who will have a pirate birthday party and will build a slide out of an old refrigerator box, connect it to her basement staircase, and have kids slide down the stairs as they pretend to walk the plank. 
Another fun thing she has done to make one of her children's birthday parties more memorable is spending hours cutting out and making 23 box cars that were painted to look like the Disney Cars Mater and Lighting McQueen. She didn't have a lot of money, but she had a lot of imagination and desire to make her little boy's birthday party one that he won't forget! 
In addition to being a fun mom, Jenny is also a great mother. Jenny has the desire to raise her children to be good citizens. She home schools and takes every opportunity to introduce her children to new experiences. She expects them to be mannerly and respectful to others. She is firm, but loving, and never raises her voice to get her point across.

I always especially love reading what the husbands says about their wives when I put together salutes. Here's what Patrick said about his sweetheart:

Jenny is an amazing mother and a great example to me of what it means to be a good parent. When I think of Jenny, one of the first things that comes to mind is the unconditional love that she shows towards others, especially children. Not only does she show this love for her own kids, but this love extends to nieces, nephews, children at church, our kid’s friends and many others. The patience that she shows towards others is something that I strive to emulate.  
When I am left alone with our two sons and daughter, I consider it to be a monumental accomplishment if they are still alive when Jenny comes home, and that’s usually only an hour or two later. Somehow Jenny is able to not only keep our kids alive day after day, but also manages to homeschool, take care of the house, prepare meals, provide service, fulfill her church responsibilities, and complete many other tasks.  
Like most good mothers, she is constantly putting others before herself. While homeschooling our children she is able to turn almost anything into a teaching opportunity and can find ways to make most everything fun and entertaining. Her creativity never ceases to amaze me. Even with everything that she has going on, she often makes time to help me with my commitments. I often joke that you can find Jenny’s hand in anything that I do well, and it is absolutely true. 
Even though she displays all of these great characteristics, she remains humble. In fact, she is likely blushing as she reads these comments.

Blush away Jenny, because we've loved reading about you and are sending you a big old #momsalute from the rest of us moms in the trenches. You deserve it for giving motherhood your all and being someone your children and your whole family can rely on, learn from, and emulate. Thanks for being the type of woman who inspires all the moms around you to be better and to give a little bit more of themselves to their sacred role as mother.

P.S. Can I have an invitation to your next children's birthday party?


How Costco restores my faith in humanity

With so much tragedy in this world, it can start to seem like a pretty scary place. "Worst mass shooting in US history" isn't the type of headline I ever want to read and it breaks my heart thinking of how many people were personally impacted by one evil man and how so many are impacted every day by the evil acts of others, many of whom wield guns. I desperately wish I could do something more than simply pray for the friends and families of the victims and keep reposting Moms Demand Action posts on my Facebook feed.

It's always amazing though, how simple, small, everyday interactions with people can remind you just how genuinely lovely the far majority of the human race is. Today I'm sharing a little collection of those every day moments that are evidence to me of that beautiful fact. And I'm doing it by explaining how Costco restores my faith in humanity.

This is not a sponsored post, haha.

1. People at Costco LOVE kids. Go to Costco with a baby and you'll feel like a celebrity, go to Costco with five small children and you'll feel like royalty, no joke. Exhausted, stressed-out royalty, but beloved royalty nonetheless.  
"Super mom!"
"You're my mom idol!"
"Those are the most beautiful kids ever!"
"You're my hero!"
"Way to go!"  
I feel like my fan club headquarters are at a warehouse grocer. 
I once went to Costco with my sister when she was visiting from out of town. Her exhausted three year old had a major meltdown part way through. As she fought to keep her cool and calmly tried to get her crying and screaming daughter toward the front of the store to take her to the car, an older gentleman shouted at the top of the lungs from way down the aisle, "You're doing great Mom!" and gave her a huge thumbs up. I honestly can't say I've had nearly that much positive feedback and encouragement in public anywhere else (other than my mom salute experience of course!). In fact, I often get a look of disdain when dealing with a toddler meltdown. It means so much when someone chooses empathy over judgement.
2. Trader Joe's is great, and many of you are going to hate me for what I'm about to say, but I call it the anti-Costco. Tiny carts, tiny portions, and tiny aisles. With two side-by-side child seats in the cart, plus plenty of room to maneuver a wide load with a kid riding on and hanging off each side, Costco knows how to make things easy on Mama. Plus the carts are basically un-tippable. We've had several cart tipping incidents, two of which occured at Trader Joe's of course. Yeah, I have a lot of good parenting stories. 
Costco obviously caters to large families since they sell mayo jars bigger than my head, but the fact that there's somewhere a big family can go and be accommodated comfortably is such a relief to me. Most of the world doesn't seem set up for parents with several kids in tow, so my favorite warehouse store is a happy reprieve.
By the way, when my kids are grown and gone I plan to shop exclusively at Trader Joe's, so don't worry, I do realize how awesome it is, it just doesn't work for us right now... at all. 
3. The other day I was at Costco with just the little girls, my two year old and 8 month old, which is actually quite a treat since I usually go with all five kids. As I was getting my receipt checked on the way out the door, I saw someone's ridiculously huge toilet paper block teetering on top of the pile in their cart and realized I forgot to buy paper towels, something we desperately needed and that I had specifically gone to Costco to buy. When the receipt checker (do they have an official name? I'm sure they do) saw the look on my face, she asked "Did you forget something?" I explained to her that I did and she offered to hold my cart next to her while I ran to get the paper towels (looking back, I should have asked if someone could just go get them for me).  
I trekked to the back of the store with my two babies, without a cart this time, got the paper towels, and attempted to carry/drag them while coaxing my two year old, who was by now completely done with shopping, to keep walking toward the front of the store to check out for the second time. A sweet woman saw me struggling and ordered me to put my paper towels on her cart because she "was headed up to the front anyway." 
Once I got there, I found the shortest line and was waiting for my turn when the man in front of me, who only had a few things himself, asked if that was my only item and offered to let me go in front of him. When I moved up, the man in front of him also offered to let me move ahead of him, making me the next person to be checked out rather than having to wait in line at all with my on the verge of losing it toddler.  
Three thoughtful souls within a matter of two or three minutes performed simple acts of kindness that honestly made my day. Those are your typical Costco shoppers people. Maybe it's just our location, but I firmly believe that place rocks.

It may verge on cliche (how do I type the accent in blogger?), but as I think about how we can impact the world for the better in the face of unfathomable tragedy, I think not only of prayers for comfort and political activism, I think of living a truly good, selfless life every day. I believe showing everyone you meet the type of thoughtfulness and kindness we all wish mankind displayed toward one another on a broader level makes a difference. The only way to fill the world with goodness is by being truly good yourself. And being truly good doesn't take much. Encourage a stranger, offer a helping hand, compliment someone every day, even about something small. Tell the person in front of you at the DMV that they're wearing a really great outfit if you notice they are. Give a mother a #momsalute for heaven's sake! Make yourself everyone's #1 fan, especially those who may at first seem very different than you.

I want to treat people everywhere like my unofficial fan club at Costco treats me.