From Highland Park to Hainesville, the Lake County suburbs are vast, and everyone is looking for that parent who’s just like them. This month we’re taking a look “Behind the Trike” and meeting the parents who bring Lake County to you every day. Today we meet, Jen, our “Adventurous Optimist.”
I had the chance to sit down and meet our two newest writers, the incredibly lovely married couple Jen and Chad. They have two sons, just like me, and have an interesting perspective on life in Lake County. I know you’ll love them as much as I do after you read more about them!
Explain your tagline:
In my heart, I believe the world is full of people who want to make it a better place. It might not always be easy and obstacles might get in the way but I think we all want the best for ourselves and our friends and family. Being able to see the good in the world and in people is what makes me an optimist. I’m proud of having a knack for finding the silver lining and being able to see the glass as half full. I’d much rather focus on the positive and make plans than spend time wallowing. And speaking of making plans, I’m all about trying new things and living the growth mindset. I’m always up for an adventure and love to take my family along with me. I guess this is what makes me the adventurous optimist!
What would your kids say about you?
My kids would totally say that I love books. Which is totally true. My husband would say I’m a little too book-crazy but I think if I’m going to be passionate about something it might as well be something that helps my kids be better people. I believe we learn about ourselves, others, and the world from reading books. I’m happy to share my love of books with my kids. They would also say they think I’m pretty cool for recently getting my motorcycle license. And they would say they want me to get a bike with a sidecar so they can tag along.
What is your most challenging moment as a parent?
I’ll never forget sitting outside of my kids’ room when they were old enough to cry-it-out. All the books say it’s healthy for kids to get into a good sleep routine and I definitely needed a good night’s sleep but hearing them cry and having to just wait was one of my hardest moments as a parent. Since then, the hardest thing for me is keeping my car clean! I find cracker crumbs and lollipop sticks and other random little boy detritus in my backseat all the time but this isn’t a battle I’ve had the energy to tackle yet.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the world around me. I’m super active on social media and have found some amazing people who inspire me in so many ways. I’m also lucky to work in education and to be surrounded by great people locally too. Seeing others trying and doing and succeeding or trying again inspires me to believe in myself and take risks. When I see others learning and growing, it makes me feel empowered to know I can do it too. Jen blogs at teachmentortexts.com, and she can be found on Twitter at @mentortexts as well as jenvincentwrites.com.
What do you do to recharge?
Yoga and writing help me feel grounded. I love to run but lately have been battling an injury so yoga is perfect. It’s low impact but gives me time to quiet my mind, reflect on my life, and de-stress. Writing is like therapy for me. When I write, I process all the thoughts and ideas tumbling around in my head. It helps me make sense of new things, figure out problems, and outline plans. Time with friends and a nice pedicure are great too!
What is the hardest part about work-life balance?
Wanting to do it all and do it all well makes it hard to find balance in my life. I love being a mom but I also have hopes and dreams for myself personally and professionally. I know that if I didn’t pursue my own dreams, I wouldn’t be a healthy or happy mom so I try to make time for myself and for my family. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my husband’s support. I’m lucky that he believes in me and wants to support me and will take the kids to Great America or trampolining while I get things done. In the end, I know I can’t do absolutely everything to the highest standards so I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. I believe we are all perfect in our imperfections. I wish more people could appreciate all that they do and are and stop comparing themselves or holding themselves to unrealistic standards.
Favorite Activity in Lake County?
See Chad’s Behind the Trike interview! He stole mine! No, really, I do love Elawa Farm and the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. It will always be close to my heart having grown up there and seeing how much fun my kids have there.
Besides Elawa Farm and the Wildlife Discovery Center, I love visiting libraries like Barrington Public Library and independent book stores like Lake Forest Book Store. I could spend all day in a bookstore and the thought of snuggling up with my kids and enjoying a good book is my idea of a great time.
Most Memorable Family Event?
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. We usually watch the fireworks in Mundelein but sometimes we’ll see them in other towns or at other times throughout the year. I love seeing my kids’ faces upturned and illuminated by the crackle of the fireworks lighting the night sky. There’s something magical about the quiet stillness on the ground while colors explode and sparkle in the sky.