July 2015 Update


Life Is For Strange Adventures And Take Pics

(wise words from some European clothing designers)

I’m starting this from the Caltrain, the same place I’m going to be from 5:00pm-5:30pm, Monday-Friday, for the rest of July (and again from 10:30pm-11:30pm). But I’m getting ahead of myself already as I write this life update after what has been two pretty incredible summer months with a whole lot of zigs and zags that I didn’t see coming.

Last time I checked in my sister and I were planning a trip to Greece. We’ll get to the reason we didn’t end up going, but I never would have thought I’d be so happy to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime destination. We would have been there right when the banks shut down. Shortly after that post I wrote about my 30th birthday party, which escalated to a scale grand enough that my friend’s started referring to it as Jenna’s Second Wedding. I blame Ami of Elizabeth Anne Designs for this, and by blame I mean thank, because she turned my birthday party into a styled event unlike any other! She was sick right in the middle of it, which I know was absolutely miserable because a few days after she left I was stuck in bed with the same illness. She gave me an incredible gift, not only giving a lot of time and energy to help me plan the day, but putting my celebration before her own needs on the day of. I love you Ami! Can you all click over to Entouriste to see the gorgeous travel photography blog she has put together, and as a way for me to say thank you to her?

I’m still sitting on the photos from my birthday as I work out the details re: having them published (we borrowed all sorts of delightful pieces, which helped keep costs down, but now we need to deliver on the promise of publishing and marketing mateirals), but it was a night unlike any other. Once the set is published somewhere I’ll come back here and share my thoughts about hosting a birthday party-turned styled event, and what I wish I would have known before I embarked on such an undertaking. Which is not to say that I didn’t love it!

The day after my party I unloaded party supplies while fighting off a hangover (it is shockingly easy to drink too much champagne since the stuff goes down like soda!), and the day after that I started packing up our house for a move from Fremont to Redwood City. Our house guests from the party hadn’t even left yet, but there was no time to spare. The day after that I was down-and-out with the sickness, and by the end of the week the old house was clean and the garage/top floor of the new house were full of boxes (nothing on the ground floor of the house because the floors and counters were going to be redone while we were in Europe). We moved earlier than anticipated because the market here is incredibly competitive, even for rentals, and when a desirable option came up we went for it full force (our application included a letter with photo and several paragraphs waxing on and on about how much we love the property) to make sure we didn’t hit July without a place to live. Definitely could not have made that move happen as fast as it did without the help we hired, who both packed the house and transported all of our stuff. I didn’t declutter during the packing process the way I was hoping, but I can do so on the other side as I take stuff out of boxes next week.bHave you read the book about decluttering? I have so many friends who rave about it..

A week after the housing transition T1 graduated from ABC Magic Moments Preschool in Fremont. I cried hard, sobbing-style, throughout most of the graduation proceedings. T1 was so earnest, so hopeful, so proud of the work he had put in to learn the songs they danced to. I also cried because the director and staff have put together a program that was exactly what we needed during a really hard time. They became my rock, a lifeline on the mornings when I cried so much during getting-ready and on the way to school that I didn’t have any tears left. The move to Redwood City was a good choice for all areas of our life except this one. I feel like T2 is getting short-changed, but I’m trying to be optimistic and believe that there is something good around the corner that we don’t know about yet. For this next year T1 will go to a charter school in Redwood City, and T2 will most likely be in a nanny share with the nanny we’ve been using on-and-off since she was born.

The day after graduation TH flew to Europe for work and my sister flew in, and the day after that we took our suitcases and car seats to the airport for a 2:00pm flight that would eventually get us to Katowice, Poland. As Instagram readers know, at the check-in desk we were informed that a passport needs to have three months left on it for travel into Germany, and T1 only had two months left on his. I had never heard of this before, and the next few days were a rather hellish experience trying to get an expedited passport right when the government announced issues with the passport production pipeline. I gave up hope, cancelled our flights, and that same afternoon had a passport in hand and booked flights once again for a hefty fee. All of that tumult and confusion cost us enough that it no longer made sense to go to Greece, and so my FIL suggested we take a short cheap flight to Milan instead. I was thrilled to be visiting Italy once again! Looks like those three semesters in college weren’t a waste after all… right? The bottom floor of our rental house was cleared out for renovations and the fridge was empty in anticipation of our trip to Europe, so we fled to Marin County and cashed in on some SPG points for two nights at a hotel. We swam and rented movies and ate yogurt and only endured one epic meltdown. Give us a year or two and I think weekend getaways could be something we would really enjoy doing as a family.

When we finally did take off for Poland we had lost our row of four seats together, but having two sets of middle seats actually showed us that it’s better for the kids to be split up. They don’t fight over who has what toy or book, and if one is sleeping the other can be playing. Being in the middle wasn’t great, but my seatmate to the right was missing her baby and didn’t seem to mind the many trips we took to the bathroom for T2 (who was in a pull-up, but still wanted to use the bathroom (and let’s face it, I needed to use the bathroom pretty much every time she did!)) My sister sat next to a young guy with a bottle of wine and I think his crush on her helped lessen any frustration/annoyance he might have felt about being seated next to young kids on a plane. On the way home we flew with the adults in aisle seats and the kids in middle seats and it was the perfect arrangement (actually, the two people assigned to sit next to the kids raised a fuss and were moved, which meant we had some extra space for our stuff and bodies to spill into!) I’ll recap the Europe trip with film photos later on this year, but can’t move away from this topic without saying that I loved traveling with my sister. We worked really well together (even driving in Napoli there was no fighting!) and I felt like we gave each other the right amount of space to vacation together and apart in our own ways. I wanted to go this year because I think it’s incredibly important for the kids to see their Polish grandparents at least once a year, and I think the 10 days they had with them was enough to keep building up a foundation for a strong bond over time. I came home feeling a pull to learn Polish, for myself and for the kids, and we’re looking into the possibility of spending our Saturday mornings learning Polish via Skype.

I submitted my second application to Hackbright on May 9th, and by the middle of our Europe trip I was starting to worry that something went wrong with my submission and so I sent them an email to check in. They hadn’t started reviewing applications yet, but right before we flew back to San Francisco they emailed me with an offer for (another) first round interview. Last time I was declined after the first interview, and this time I feel much more confident that I’ll make it to the second. Due to not only my earlier-in-the-round submission date, but also because of the 20-session Hack Reactor Bootcamp prep course I’m doing M-F in the evenings thoroughout July. Hack Reactor advertises itself as the Harvard of the software engineering Bootcamp programs, and when I saw the prep course email come through I emailed TH immediately to ask if he thought I should sign up (it’s definitely an investment) and lucky for me he also replied immediately to say he thought it was worth the money. The class sold out in only a few hours, the first one of its kind that Hack Reactor has done in the Bay Area. If Hackbrigt passes on me again I’ll apply to Hack Reactor, but Hackbright is my preference because of the way it is contributing to the females-in-tech movement. But I also think a male-dominated program like Hack Reactor could use the presence of a passionate, confident, driven female who believes that females have something unique and valuable to contribute to the industry. Either way, Jenna being accepted into a software engineering Bootcamp program is a decision where everyone wins. 🙂

I’m finishing this email up on an airplane (actually I think last time I wrote a life update like this I was on an airplane) flying the kids up to Washington for a month with my parents. When we set this up originally I was going to spend the month coding and packing, now I’ll spend it coding and unpacking. My cousin, home from BYU for the summer, will act as nanny during the day while my parents work. The kids will swim, dig in the dirt, BBQ, visit their great-grandmas – enjoying a life that’s completely different than the one they experience in Slicon Valley. I’m excited for them, and am very thankful to my parents for agreeing to set this arrangement up (my parents are expanding Andersen Organics very rapidly this year and I know it’s going to take some work for them to fit everything in!) I hope the kids will spend long summers with their grandparents throughout their childhood, but this is a little earlier than I expected such arrangements to start because kids this age can be demanding and exhausting (and that exhaustion multiplies as you get older!)

Along with the coding and unpacking, I’d like to also focus on setting some new healthy habits and tweaking some areas where I’ve been lax. I’ll join another Crossfit gym, will finish reading Secrets from the Eating Lab by Traci Mann and focus on getting down to the low end of my weight range, am going to try out doing a capsule wardrobe in an attempt to curb the number of dresses I get from the Menlo Park thrift stores, and would like  to try a spending fast after a very indulgent past six months. My M-F commute into SF involves about two hours on the Caltrain, so I may even have some time to update you on my progress. No guarantees, per my usual. I gave you quite a bit to chew on with this monster post though. It’s my meatiest in a long time, I think because I love the direction and I’m headed and when I’m happy I want to write more. I felt stuck for a long time, but I don’t feel stuck anymore.

15 thoughts on “July 2015 Update

  1. Comments are back open! I have nothing worthwhile to contribute: the kids are beautiful and so big and it sounds like you’re so happy.

  2. So happy to see a new post! I miss your blog. Hopefully you will have more time for blogging while the kids are getting spoiled by their doting grandparents.

  3. Good for you for chasing your dreams and making stuff happen! This is probably way out there and it seems like you’re pretty set on the coding stuff right now, but have you ever considered going into nursing? It would give you lots of flexibility, lots of options (different fields within the nursing world, including informatics), and great earning potential. Just a suggestion because you seem to have compassion for others and a determination that I think patients would appreciate.

    Thais Reply:

    I don’t think the earning potential in nursing is enough for what Jenna is looking for. Not to mention the schedule is far from flexible in reality and you’re working holidays and summers are hard to get off when everyone else wants to be off and you’re short staffed. My hope is that nursing will be much better in the next 10-15 yrs than it is now. As a good friend of Jenna I don’t think nursing would be a good option for her at all. I love nursing but we have miles to go before I feel like it is a wonderful career. We are not nearly as appreciates or respected by doctors, hospital management and patients for as little as we make and the amount of work we do.

    Rachel Reply:

    I don’t know Jenna at all. It was just a suggestion and it was interesting to hear your perspective. Having been an RN for years, I do disagree with you on the flexibility, etc. Also, for many people, nursing is a wonderful career (not for everyone, though!) and I think you get out of it what you put into it. If you feel unappreciated as a nurse now, it likely won’t be any different no matter what changes are implemented in the years to come. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

    Thais Reply:

    Having been an RN for years too I know there are parts of being an RN that are wonderful, but your regular bedside nursing which is the bulk of nursing jobs and careers is just not that wonderful which is why there is so much discussion on burnout, patient to nurse ratio, patient safety, and all the million of issues there are. Changes that can be implemented in years to come like better nurse to patient ratios, looking at acuity and fair assignments, better shift conditions such as studies that have been done on night shift and the importance of breaks where staff can sleep, better trained aides, and I could go on and on. I still feel in a standard 12 hr shift job that is not greatly flexible, those are long days where you wouldn’t even see your kids you’re gone for so long. Great management goes a long way to making staff feel appreciated, managers who stand by their nurses, and respect them and their time. Like I said miles to go before I feel inclined to recommend it as a wonderful career.

  4. Great to see everything is going in the right direction for you right now! One thing jumped out at me in our post – if you don’t feel comfortable answering, please just say “too personal to explain.”

    I wondered what was going on when you said you were in tears every morning getting the kids ready for school, and still in tears when you dropped them off. Was there some crisis that you didn’t mention on your blog or IG? It sounds like it must have been serious if you were so upset day after day to the point where you couldn’t stop crying and the teachers had to comfort you.

    Whatever it was, I hope the issue is resolved now and perhaps one day, when you have had some healing distance of time, you can blog about how you overcame the problem.

  5. Hmmm… What do you think happens to children of single parents? Should they ship their children off to their (hopefully two-member) grandparent households permanently? What is wrong with single parent households? What are families supposed to do if one or both parents work very long hours? What is a “typical family dynamic in a who-parent household”?

    Francesca Reply:

    I don’t think Kelly was casting aspersions on single parent families. I think what Kelly meant is that even though Jenna is married, the family dynamic is not typical of a two-parent family, from what we can read in her blog/ IG.
    The husband does not seem to be home on evenings or weekends, and he hasn’t joined the family on their last two overseas vacations. I’ve been reading Jenna’s blog for a while, and when she talks about doing her own activities on the weekend such as going to the gym, for a hike, out with friends or to shoot a wedding, she seems to need to arrange childcare rather than counting on her husband. Her only descriptions of family meals involve herself and the children, not the whole family sitting down together. This is more similar to a single-parent dynamic than a two-parent dynamic.
    My husband takes it for granted that I look after the kids while he’s at work, but I take it for granted that I can count on him on weekends and evenings if I have my own work-related/ social activities.
    Jenna, I will admit when I first started reading TW last year, I assumed you were separated/ divorced from your husband, because I seemed to be reading a chronicle of a woman raising kids without anything more than generous financial support from her ex-partner. I’m probably not the only reader who has made that mistake. This might be where there is some confusion with some comments you receive.

  6. Welcome to Redwood City! I live here and it’s a great place to live especially with children. The library is wonderful and the activities downtown are all free and super family friendly. Good luck with coding and unpacking!

  7. Love your blog and latest update. You motivate me just by your positive spirit and energy!

    Just by reading these comments, you have inspired me to keep living my life in the most productive, positive way for my family AND IGNORE WHAT OTHERS THINK OF HOW I DO THAT!

    I don’t want to start a debate on your comment section. So those who have commented please remain respectful.

    I am not a Mormon. I read Mormon Mommy blogs. I read Non-Mormon Mommy Blogs. I read non mommy blogs. I read blogs that inspire me or that broaden my view of the world.

    I feel from some of these comments you are being passively-aggressively attacked.

    1) No one would ask a man if he wanted to be nurse when he clearly stated his goals are to work in coding
    2) No Mormon Mommy blogs that I read have these comments about the blogger’s husbands not being involved in the kids lives. Even the popular Mormon Mommy blogs that state their husbands don’t get home until 9pm.
    3) No one should ever cross such a boundary to “suggest” to a Mother that she should send her children to live with their grandparents……..are you kidding me? That is incredibly rude and arrogant.
    4) No one should passively aggressively “ASK” ……which clearly is intending to “IMPLY”…….that you had a crisis. Once again, how rude! And by ending it with a smug sentence that the reader hopes you deal with the IMPLIED crisis with distance healing of time???

    Wow at your strength Jenna and Bravo for not responding!

    I can’t imagine how some of these commenters would judge my life if I blogged. My husband is in the military and was gone for tour of battle for 18 straight months (with only two weeks visit). TWICE. that’s 36 straight months apart. I did the best I could. We all did the best we could. But there were many times I was in tears and not because of a crisis. But because seasons of life change and evolve. We adapt to our circumstances and do the best we can.

    As I mentioned, I am not a Mormon. But this outsider looking in sees a positive, happy, joyful woman who is perhaps being passively aggressively attacked by Mormons or those who have not respected your choices on YOUR belief system.

    I have not intended to stir up drama. But just had to speak my truth. (Turn off comments or delete my comments if needed:)

    I look forward to your next post!:)

    Francesca Reply:

    I’m sorry you thought my post was passive aggressive. If you see in Jenna’s blog, in the middle of all the happy positive news, she said: “The [daycare staff] became my rock, a lifeline on the mornings when I cried so much during getting-ready and on the way to school that I didn’t have any tears left.”
    If I posted online that I was crying each morning until there were no tears left, I would hope somebody would say “Is everything okay?” It is not passive aggressive to ask if someone is okay when she is telling us she went through a difficult time.
    Jenna’s comments are moderated and she did edit my comment, but she still posted it so I’m trusting she didn’t think it was passive aggressive. She did leave in the line where I said: if you don’t feel comfortable answering, please just say “too personal to explain.” As the comments are moderated, and do not show up on her blog unless she approves them, either she is happy with the message or she wants the right of reply. She didn’t respond so now I don’t know if she is happy with the message or delegated the right of reply to you.
    Everyone who reads this blog has subscribed for updates and for the access to comment. You’re actually not helping Jenna by alienating her followers when Jenna has already cleared their comments to show on her blog. I assume Jenna gets sponsorship and publicity for her blog, but who wants to subscribe/ comment if she delegates someone to call her subscribers names?
    Jenna, I’m sorry that you were offended by my comments. I would have assumed that you only show comments that you are happy to respond to. I don’t feel comfortable subscribing to your blog any more if you are going to post offensive comments from other readers rather than answering me directly yourself. As I said in my post, you only had to say “too personal to explain” or not show the comment at all.

    Jenna Reply:

    Hi Francesa, I keep forgetting to attempt to respond to comments on the train. Sometimes the WordPress app can be buggy. I liked your original comment and have been thinking about a response that won’t stir up too much trouble for myself.

    I do moderate, but I don’t believe in editing people’s comments. I don’t think it’s my right to change someone else’s message (though some would of course dispute the way I don’t allow lots of messages through as not being any different 🙂 ).

    With comment’s like Renee’s it can be difficult to figure out whether to send it through. It feels crappy to delete comments that seem well-intentioned, and of course she stroked my ego a little which is always nice. I screen for character attacks and didn’t see any. I’m not going to respond now, but I’ll make a note to myself to look at TW comments on the train today. Thanks for speaking up and voicing your thoughts.

    Lauren Reply:

    None of the above comments sound like attacks, even passive aggressive ones. Stop looking to stir up drama. They sound like genuine questions from readers who have thoughtfully worded them and expect no response if Jenna is unwilling to answer. I think because she has been so candid in the past her readers are more comfortable asking those questions. If she isn’t interested in answering, she won’t.

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