Frisco mom Jenni Jensen and husband Mike have four kids—Will, 19, Grace, 18, Andrew, 14, and Nora, 13, who has Down syndrome. Nora was the inspiration for Frisco’s Hope Park, the inclusive playground that Jensen founded in 2010; now Jensen owns and runs brickLAB, a toy store and makerspace.
4AM I wake up and move to the family room sofa to watch a few hours of Netflix. Right now, I am hooked on a show called It’s a Miracle.
5:45AM Get out clothes for the day, take a fast shower, and start getting myself ready for the day—all while listening to Kid Rock!
6:45AM Let our 7-month-old puppies outside. They jump all over me and act like they haven’t seen me for years. I wake my daughter Nora to help her get ready for school. She has Down syndrome and had a stroke when she was 6 and lost most of the use of her right arm.
7:20AM It’s time to wake Andrew. He sleeps like a log, so this is just the first wake-up call.
7:25AM Second wake-up call.
7:30AM I am now annoyed; third wake-up call.
7:35AM Let the knucklehead puppies in the house. Time for Nora’s grooming routine. Wrestle hair (big knots) into a ponytail, brush teeth, clean her glasses and apply deodorant, which we call “tickle fest” because she squeals when I put it on her—all while dancing to Adele or the Bee Gees.
7:50AM Time to wait for the bus. Bus arrives. Goof around with Steve, the bus driver, as we get Nora on the bus, and then tell her to have a great day and that I love her. Deep sigh!
7:55AM Back in the house to hound Andrew to get moving, reminding him of every step along the way. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other diagnoses, so the mornings are challenging for us.
8:25AM Hound Andrew again.
8:30AM Send Andrew out the door, telling him to have a great day and that he is loved.
8:32AM Deeper sigh! Thank God that two of my kids can manage themselves!
8:45AM I head out the door in the crazy heat of Texas to volunteer at the Frisco ISD Parent Sanctuary and Lending Library housed at the Early Childhood School.
9AM Arrived on time! At the Parent Sanctuary, I check people in, help them look for resources for their children with special needs, and comfort them if they need to talk. I have cried with many parents who needed a shoulder to cry on because their child was just diagnosed. That is honestly my favorite part of volunteering here.
9:35AM No one has come in yet, so I start working on some of my projects. I need to reach out to several people that might be able to teach classes at brickLAB. No one has stepped up yet, so I need to post an ad on Indeed.
10:40AM A mom with a small child comes in to the Sanctuary. We talk about her child that was just diagnosed with autism and how I can help.
11:46AM After the woman and her child leave, I get to work on my other to-do’s. I just became a board member at the special needs nonprofit Frisco SAGE this fall, and I need to come up with some fundraising ideas for the year. I call a friend of mine about having a gala next year in September.
12:35PM I am starving! I pull out my snack and chow down.
2PM The Sanctuary closes, and I head over to brickLAB.
2:40PM Finally home. I throw some laundry in the washer and do the dishes. I look in the freezer for something to make for dinner. Frozen lasagna it is. Of course, two of my kids won’t eat that, so I will also make chicken nuggets and veggies.
3:50PM I wait for Nora’s bus to arrive. I give her a snack, and her occupational therapist rings the doorbell.
4:40PM Andrew’s ride drops him off. I talk with him about his awful day at school, and I try to make it seem like it wasn’t so bad. Then he has a snack while we are talking, and I mention homework. He hates when I say that word!
4:45PM As Nora finishes up with OT, I check on how it went.
4:50PM I get Nora going on some writing or a little project. She keeps herself busy for a bit as I get lasagna in the oven. She is singing to herself in the background. We decide to play some Van Morrison and dance around the kitchen as we cook.
7PM Dinner beep sounds off. Mike and Will walk in the door for dinner. We eat and talk about many things, but mostly we ask Will about the Marines. (He just joined the Reserve.) It is so nice to hang out with my grown–up boy!
8PM It’s Nora’s bedtime, so we get her ready. Pray and send Nora to bed. Then try to help with Andrew’s homework. I am tired, and he can’t focus any better than I can.
8:42PM Clean up the kitchen and hound Andrew to finish his homework. I put the knuckleheads in their pen where they wait for Daddy to come and play.
9:12PM I am so tired … Andrew and I have this great idea to get up at 5am and finish homework. I figure that works for me since I am up anyway.
9:19PM I sneak into my room and do my evening grooming ritual. I try to say a quick prayer, and I go to bed. Lights out.
Favorite indulgence: The Cookie Rack’s cookies
What’s she’s reading: Disney U by Doug Lipp
Best vacation: Italy with my hubby
What’s in her Netflix queue: It’s a Miracle, Workin’ Moms, Atypical, Shameless and Ozark
Favorite movie: Where Hope Grows
First celebrity crush: Shaun Cassidy
Beverage of choice: Coke
Words she lives by: Always have hope.
Biggest pet peeve: Loud, long–drawn-out yawns
Best purchase ever: The magnetic phone holder in my car
Favorite beauty product: Burt’s Bees beeswax lip balm
When life gets stressful, she: Prays
Motherhood in five words: Awesome, challenging, busy, rewarding and enlightening
Celebrity mom she admires: Laura Bush
Dream job as a kid: Set designer for Broadway plays
Favorite scent: Lemon and lavender mix
How she met her husband: In high school. I dated one of his best friends.
She’s really good at: Helping other people. I volunteer for several charities.
She’s really bad at: Cooking
Habit she can’t quit: Eating carbs
Image courtesy of Jenni Jensen.