Introducing Jessica Lukenbill…a New Hudson Mom

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Hi there! I’m Jessica, your resident foodie whose happy place is in the kitchen. “Crazy creative” is a badge I wear proudly. I rely on any number of outlets to keep me sane from cooking, canning, and gardening to decorating, furniture refinishing, and more. I’m always busy. My friends would most definitely describe me as goofy although it does take a bit to get me out of my shell amongst new friends. “Choose happy” and “kill them with kindness” are my life’s mottos that I repeat to my children often. In our family, we crave adventure, travel often, and love deeply.

Our roots

Mt. Pleasant was home for me until high school when my family moved to Midland. My mom is a journalism teacher extraordinaire, so it’s in my blood, too. I spent my high school years on the editorial board of the school newspaper, winning awards for both writing and design. During my senior year, I wrote a weekly column for the Midland Daily News when I was also co-editor-in-chief of the Midland High Focus. After high school and the discovery that college was not for me, I jumped into the workforce, starting off designing ads at my hometown newspaper and then spent almost 10 years doing pre-press and graphic design for a commercial printer and five years managing a sign shop.

My husband of 17 years is Jason, the rock of our family and hands-down favorite parent (even I agree on this one). He works a corporate job in logistics that allows him enough free time to travel, be it via car, plane, or camper, as well as spend some time at deer camp each year. He spent his young childhood years in Chicago but graduated high school from his mother’s alma mater, Carmel High School in the Indianapolis area. 

We met while he was attending Northwood University in Midland, and we worked together at the local pizza place. It was the summer before college when I was still living at home; I was 18, and he was 22. I was grounded and lied to my parents, telling them that I had to work in order to go out on a date with him. I fell in love that very night despite the fact that I totally got caught and got in lots of trouble!

Our family

Our daughter, Gwenna, 9, is on the fast track to becoming a teenager. She loves art projects and cooking, science, and doing her hair and makeup. My goal is to go into the teenage years with positivity in my attitude because I am really, really scared about this. I was not an easy teenager, and she’s definitely my clone. Finding ways to connect with her are things I must do with intention. I’m working toward best-frienddom by teaching her how to cook and giving her some freedom to explore the kitchen. 

Our son, Larson, is starting kindergarten this year at a fresh five years old. Trucks are life, and he has a collection of hot wheels to rival many. Show him a pile of dirt, and he can spend hours building construction sites. He is also my sensory little dude who has a strong aversion to doctors, a limited diet of mostly junk food, and loves cuddling his mama. 

We also have a young silver lab named Indy. He’s our first family dog and is totally perfect. 

Between Gwenna and Larson, we suffered two devastating miscarriages, one at 12 weeks and one at 20 weeks. If those experiences gave us anything, they helped Jason and I learn how to lean on each other, grieve together, and, in some ways, prepared our marriage for the future tests of parenthood and life in general. I have always tried to be open about this because so many people don’t talk about pregnancy and infant loss yet need to. My ear and heart is always open on this subject. Please consider reaching out at any time.

How did we get here? 

At the end of 2017, we were at a major crossroads in life. 

We were on our third year in Southern California. We spent our weekends camping in the desert, climbing mountains with our truck, and hiking to beautiful waterfalls and peaks. Adventuring was taking us places few people ever see when just visiting. When we weren’t traveling, we were living by the pool and doing house projects. I was loving life as a full-time mom with a little cottage food business on the side.

Life was grand, but we were beginning to question our next steps. The education system where we were was not good, and the crime rate was high. Living in a zip code that starts with 9 was also a bit of a wallet shocker. My husband said he felt like we were taking opportunities from our children’s futures and money from their pockets by continuing to pay $600 air-conditioning bills in the Mojave Desert. Trust me, they really are not joking when they say you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. 

Jason had spent 16 years climbing the ladder at a job he loved. We had spent the previous 10 moving every few years throughout Indiana and finally to California. The next rung, well, it kind of broke off in his hands. Our plans fell to the ground, and we knew that even if he stayed with that company, a move would be in order.

The question was, where did we really want to go? After a lot of tears and heartfelt discussion, we realized we both wanted to raise our kids where the bulk of our family and friends were: back in Michigan. So, instead of taking the easy road everyone expected us to take, we shocked them all and took the bumpy road home. He found a new job in Ann Arbor, and we packed up our two vehicles, camper, and two kids for the drive across country. 

The process of settling in was not so cut and dry

We have lived in New Hudson for just over a year. We bought a 1955 former mink farm with seven acres of woods and wetlands. It’s a beautiful, idyllic place to raise kids and stay forever. But the house was a bit outdated inside. We spent the first nine months in our new home living through a major kitchen remodel. My vision required removal of a structural wall and placement of steel beams. It was pretty much a nightmare. We dealt with dishonest and incompetent contractors, got ripped off, and failed inspections. In the end, we watched a lot of YouTube videos to complete much of the finishing work ourselves. 

It was a really hard year for our entire family, but we are finally settling into life in Michigan. We are doing yard work and planning future projects. We are rescuing baby birds, squeezing frogs, and hunting for mushrooms and wild berries. We are also gathering in our kitchen, now the true heart of our home. We are cooking together as a family, trying new recipes, and making memories. We are visiting family, having house guests, and checking out fun new places. We plan to put down roots and spend time discovering all of the wonderful options Detroit has to offer.

Thank you for allowing me to be here

I’m humbled and honored to be a part of the Detroit Moms Blogs community. I truly look forward to interacting with, growing with, and learning from the amazing moms here. 

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As Managing Editor for Detroit Mom, I am surrounded by an awesome community of women who have helped me find a place where I feel I truly belong. I’m a proud foodie who keeps crazy busy with cooking and canning, gardening, decorating, craft projects, and more. My husband of 18 years is Jason, and we have Gwenna, 10, and Larson, 6, as well as a young silver Lab named Indy. We have lived in New Hudson for a few years now. Mid Michigan is home for me, but after my husband graduated college, we spent 16 years moving around his home state of Indiana. Just prior to moving back to Michigan, we lived in Southern California for three years, exploring and extreme-adventuring with our kids to every beautiful outdoor location we could find. We are the family that spends more weekends away than at home, and our kids are master-level road-trippers. Most of our summers are spent at the lake, where I'm convinced it's not a proper summer without a dip in the water every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Reach out and say hi sometime!

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