jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.



Wife, mother, artist, teacher, and friend: with four children in three years things get pretty crazy. Finding time to reflect on motherhood and identity, making art, and connecting with gal pals new and old brings me back to sanity (or as close as I’ll get in this lifetime.)


I needed a facelift (which goes without saying.) I don’t look like this anymore.

Jennie, age 5, Kindergarten, 1976

Jennie, age 5
Kindergarten, 1976

So after 6 months of blogging it seemed time to spruce up the face a little bit, you know? The blog face that is. Why not start with the About page?

When I started this blog I thought I’d write about craft projects with my kids, awesome recipes, pinterestable birthday cakes… but now I realize that’s just not me. Or it’s the me that I do when I’m doing jazz hands in the pre-school parking lot but it’s not me me.

Me me is the things I’m thinking about, the things that drive me, the things that go through my head while driving my minivan.

Jen & Co. February 2014

Jen & Co.
February 2014

I started writing mostly about my kids; them growing up, teaching them things and so on. But then writing about my kids made me think about how I survived my childhood with a crazy family rife with disabilities and illness (and love, there was lots of love, too) and a mother who tried hard in her way but didn’t always have the resources.

Mom, me, Butchie, sister, sister, Dad, brother Two years before my father got sick 1977

Mom, me, Butchie, sister, sister, Dad, brother
Two years before my father got sick

So then I realized I wanted to write about my resources; my beautiful kids, my awesome husband, the dear friends who fuel me, going running in order to catch myself and always the ocean, the ocean.

This is my Gravatar:

we all wore this dress.groeber.blair

This is me wearing the red gingham dress.

Jennie, sister, sister, Mom and goat 1973

Jennie, sister, sister, Mom and goat

I had always remembered seeing pictures of my siblings at the petting zoo, but not me. And in my memory my childhood is like that- fourth child, healthy child, peacemaker. Nothing there to take a picture of. But here it is, I found proof. My mother took me to the petting zoo with my sisters, my father took the picture, my retarded brother Butchie stayed at home. But I’d forgotten. If I hadn’t found this photo I wouldn’t know that I’d been to a petting zoo before I took my own kids.

So for me, this blog is proof. It is proof that as a parent I cared about my children deeply, and I tried mostly pretty hard and I failed them a whole bunch (I may have yelled once or twice or used my third arm…) It’s proof that we did things, we thought about things, I noticed them growing, I marveled and cried and laughed.

For now this is the place I’m keeping this time in my life, of becoming who I am today.

we all wore this dress.groeber.blair

This is a print I made about being a sister and a mother and a friend. It’s called We All Wear This Dress. I could have named this blog that. Because I’m finding that we all do wear this dress (and that’s not just for the ladies… gentlemen wear this dress, too.) My sisters and I literally all wore this dress. And the print is mended with thread the way my mother mended our clothes, the way we each mend the things in our lives we cherish. I am wearing the (metaphorical) dress my mother wore when she raised us. We all mend. We watch. We fix. We reflect, or at least I do.

And these are the stories I tell my Mama friends. Hopefully they’re the stories that we all tell each other.

Sometimes I rhyme things, like in the Elf on the Shelf. My Mother’s Letters got me Freshly Pressed (and Date Night and the Wind Turbines did, too!) and a lot of people read Lederhosen, which contains some of my prints and is more about my retarded brother Butchie than about German leather shorts. This one is, too (about my brother, not leather shorts.) And here’s one about getting old. Oh, wait, here’s another one. And here’s one about female beauty. Which brings us back to the facelift.

I’m not actually going to get one. Although if someone offered to inject botulism into my face for free, I’d be all in. Botch it up! Get all up in those forehead wrinkles! I’ll say it’s to relieve migraine headaches so my daughters don’t get the wrong message. There might just be a blog post in that…

Right now I’m cooking chicken piccata so I should probably go. When the smoke detector goes off the fire trucks always come. Long story… I’ll tell you about it later.

I’d love to hear from you. I am so happy you’ve stopped by. Come back soon.

47 comments on “About

  1. Carly
    October 8, 2013

    Love the blog! You are a wonderful writer and have a special way of capturing the magic of the many daily moments that create the stream of our lives. They are poignant, irreveren and funny as a life fully lived can be.
    🙂 your old teammate, Carly

  2. jgroeber
    October 8, 2013

    How lovely that my very first comment ever is from you and filled with such awesomely kind words. Most appropriately though, it occurred on the kind of leaf-crackling day that always makes me think of standing in the goal, swinging my stick, defending for awesome diva women like you! Thank you!

  3. pjhagan
    October 23, 2013

    Jen! Hi from Syracuse for the first time in many years. I’ve been trying to find a way to write to you since I’m coming to Pingree next week (!!!). Hope we can connect!

    Peter Hagan

    • jgroeber
      October 23, 2013

      Ah, a blast from the past! So funny you found me here. Hopefully we can catch up when you’re in town. Safe travels!

  4. Julie
    February 4, 2014

    Hi Jen! Your writing is lovely and powerful! I’d like to chat with you if you’re interested. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      February 4, 2014

      Thank you for the kind words and for reading, Julie!
      I sent you an e-mail. Looking forward to connecting.

  5. giselacarmona
    February 12, 2014

    Jen! We have to keep trying for the Mother of the Year Award… meanwhile I feel very happy to have nominated you to the “Field of Flowers Award”… I just love your blog!

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  7. librarylady
    March 31, 2014

    Looks like a fun blog. I look forward to more.

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      So glad you’ve come to visit (and have decided to stay around for more.) How I love your name, librarylady. because only really good things could come from the librarylady. Am I right?

      • librarylady
        April 14, 2014

        Hah! Hope so. Thanks.

  8. Emily
    April 1, 2014

    HI! 🙂 I am a Year 12 Studio art student, I have used your works as inspiration as my theme is family, and my subject matter focuses on the children. I have to do a comparative task, so I have chose you, and Kathy Kolliwitz to compare 🙂
    So I am wondering, I know you have an ultra busy life! I mean look at your adorable children! That if you could please e-mail me 🙂 and I’ll send through some questions 🙂 this would be extreeemly helpfull! 🙂

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      Hope your project is going well. I’m so glad we could connect. Good luck!

  9. Matt
    April 15, 2014

    You’re very good. I’m so glad I saw that note from Nadia.

  10. jgroeber
    April 15, 2014

    Aw, shucks. That Nadia… Talk about being a great writer. Sheesh, that one.
    Thanks for the note and the follow. Right back at you.

  11. Tandi
    April 19, 2014

    Hi Jen,

    I’ve come across your blog today on Freshly Pressed and I very happy to have discovered it. I love that you are an expressive writer, a thinker and someone who knows whats important in this life. (Or at least we might agree on the things we think are important.) I’ve seen many blogs, but very few that combine beautiful prose, thoughtful commentary and obvious humanitarian tendencies. And I want to say THANK YOU! I think the world could use more blogs like yours. At the very least I know I can. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      April 20, 2014

      I need you to write my next cover letter. Deal?
      Thank you for those kind words. In the midst of four rug rats literally high on Peeps and candy necklaces, a quiet word of affirmation is a delight. Thank you!

  12. Ann St. Vincent
    May 8, 2014

    Jen…I nominated you for the Liebster Award…hope you don’t mind the extra work 🙂

    I couldn’t find your email so feel free to read about it here if you are so inclined:

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      Thank you so much. It’s amazing to me that someone from out there in the ether would recognize something to celebrate in my writing. I’ve been meaning to try to create a separate page for that, and I may just do it yet, but it may not be right away. Hope that’s okay. (Do these things have expiration dates, or can we return to accept them when life gives us room? Ha!)

      • Ann St. Vincent
        May 18, 2014

        No expiration date at all! I completely understand that life doesn’t give us much room… look forward to your answers when you get a chance 🙂

        • jgroeber
          May 18, 2014

          Yay! And thank you again. One of these days…

  13. bethteliho
    June 27, 2014

    ….and now I am in bloglove with you. Just like that. You’re amazing. even this About page is freakin’ perfect. I’m going to stalk you (in a non-creepy way) from now on. Love you like chocolate. Already. xo

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Love me like chocolate?! I live for chocolate!! That’s the best non-creepy love declaration ever! (Your recent post at Sisterwives is a heart stealer, by the way.) You rock.

  14. donofalltrades
    July 9, 2014

    Love it! Looking for a follow button now.

    • jgroeber
      July 10, 2014

      Yay! Does this mean I finally have a real follower and not just some guy named Ravisumabeatboxx who still hasn’t taken the fake wordpress gibberish off his non-existent blog. Because I can’t figure those followers out. Are they all one guy? Is it a joke? Is it a contest? Does he live in a yurt? Who knows?!

  15. jgroeber
    July 12, 2014

    Ha! Love this! So many possible future identities; mamawinslottery, PeoplesSexiestMama, MamainCorfuDrinkingWine or simply margaritamama. (Crap. I think that last one is taken.)
    By the way, does Ravisumabeatboxx have wifi in his yurt? Who knows?! Only Ravi. And he never comments.

  16. ripplesnreflectiontimes
    July 27, 2014

    Yeah, I am telling you … that you write wonderfully and balance wonderfully too. My name is Aruna Menon from India. loved your “About ” page .. haven’t gone through all the posts but hoping to, by and by. Take care … keep blogging and getting Freshly Pressed !!

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  18. Sue Robb (was Cressie)
    August 16, 2014

    I worked with your father in the 70s, and greatly admired him. I met you and your mum and family many times. I am sorry to hear that he died – he was a wonderfully amusing, exceptionally intelligent man.

  19. reeannalynn
    February 16, 2015

    Such a unique and inspiring blog! I look forward to following 🙂

    Reeanna Lynn

    • jgroeber
      March 9, 2015

      How did this lovely comment fly below my radar? Thanks for stopping by and for the follow. So glad to meet you, Reeanna.

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  21. Catherine Hamrick
    July 2, 2015

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Great to meet any fan of Brenda Keesal (!

    • jgroeber
      September 18, 2015

      How did I not see these comments on my About page? Seriously irresponsible. Welcome!

  22. zenmamalove
    July 26, 2015

    What an awesome introduction to you. I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your blog and look forward to reading more of it. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, I am honored.

    • jgroeber
      September 18, 2015

      See? I had no idea this comment was here. Someone should take my blogging license away. It’s shameful.
      So glad you found me here. Please come again.

  23. bumbismom
    August 6, 2015

    I’ve tagged you in the 10 Things Writing Challenge. You can check it out at Please don’t feel obligated to write along. I just wanted to give your blog a shoutout and show some #bloggerlove for your blog.

    • jgroeber
      September 18, 2015

      I think this literally just came up in my e-mail. Like today. I swear. I know that makes no sense, but there it is.
      And thank you. That anyone reads what I write is always a wonder. I may not actually do this awesome thing, especially since I missed the invitation by one month (which is ten years in blog-time.) But I thank you. Truly.

      • bumbismom
        September 19, 2015

        No worries. It’s hard to keep up with them. Just enjoy reading what you write and wanted to give you a nod.

  24. A
    September 18, 2015

    Hello 🙂 Our mutual friend Rara nudged me in your direction, I look forward to reading your posts! Best wishes…

    • jgroeber
      September 18, 2015

      Ah, any friend of Rara’s is a friend of mine. She’s a dear and gifted one, that Rara. Thank you so much for stopping by and for following.

      • A
        September 18, 2015

        It’s my pleasure, I’ve no doubt of that 😉

  25. Kelly
    April 28, 2016

    Just popping in to give you some love. I so rarely read on my laptop and I am craptastic about remembering to come back and comment… I love your words. And now that email is almost 99% ads when your words arrive in my email inbox it is like a GIFT! A wonderful gift….

  26. Sarah Carter Mangham
    August 20, 2016

    Hey teach! Just found you via a Scary Mommy lost about love. I saw the name and knew it had to be you. Oh the days in Freeman back at Blair. I still have the drawing you made for me when I graduated. Glad to see you’re well.

  27. Janet Lewis
    March 24, 2019

    Jen, I just wanted to let you know that I have FRAMED your wonderful pen & ink drawing titled “View on Glover’s Reef” that you gave me as a thank you gift. I noticed that you signed the drawing as Jen Groeber & The Johnsons; I got to thinking that you just might be a famous artist. So I typed your name in and found out that you are. “jen groeber: mama art”. It was fun to read your blog and to take a look at some of your other pictures you have drawn. It was truly a pleasure to share some vacation time on Glover’s Reef with you and all of your wonderful family. Blessing to you and all of your family. Jan Lewis

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