Archives for ‘Holiday’

Christmas Card 2013

December 25, 2013 By: Jenna Category: family, Holiday

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We made it! With the birth of T2, yet another move, demanding work schedules, and the Thunderous Threes all happening in the same year we are breathing a big sigh of relief as we think about 2014. We are still in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’m drafting this letter from a different home address yet again. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that 2014 will be the year with no moving.) We loved our East Palo Alto house, but made the decision back in June to move to a new rental in Fremont. A big thank you to my parents for hosting us for 6 weeks while we waited for our new place to become available (and watching our kids so we could have an adults-only weekend getaway in Portland!).

We like our new neighborhood much more and are using all sorts of methods to meet our neighbors (the most out-there attempt involved nailing an introduction letter to the tree outside our front door). The population in this area is very diverse and it’s been fun to explore the multitude of Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican restaurants in the area. Turns out T1 is not a fan of the bubbles in bubble tea but he loves Chinese donuts.

TH and I are busier than ever, juggling two young children along with work. It’s a lot harder than we thought it would be. Thank goodness for babysitters and preschool! TH travels for work Monday-Thursday. While he’s gone I care for the kids and work on a growing number of projects – www.jennacole.com, www.pinterestfail.com, and www.thatwifeblog.com.

T1 is thriving in his fantastic preschool, attending full days every weekday. He loves making friends, starting every sentence with “Ma”, and exploring his ability to exercise his independence. Between the passionate outbursts his tender side shines through – when we caught a bug and looked at it under a microscope he begged me to set it free so it could go back to its mommy.

T2 has started digging through my kitchen cabinets and walking along the furniture. She’s a resilient little girl who survives being sat on and dragged around (literally) by her brother on a daily basis. When I say “It’s time to go get brother from preschool” she flaps her arms and waves excitedly. He is her very best friend and I love to listen to them babble and interact on the drive home from school every day.

This year we are particularly grateful for technology and the ways it keeps us connected. Social media that fosters connections with friends who live far away from us, video chats with family as we’re making dinner, Skype with family in Poland (who we, sadly, didn’t get to visit this year), screen time that gets us through the littles witching hour in the evenings, and phone calls between husband and wife as we live apart each week.

Thanks to all of you who make our life better in some way being being in it.

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Christmas cards past: 2008, 20092011, 2012

Who Makes the List?

December 20, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Holiday

Moving around a lot means we have a lot of friends in different places. Lucky us! But what to do when assembling our Christmas card address list each year, as sending out cards can be a bit of an investment. My solution to this has been breaking up our address list into two categories. The first is the people who will always get a card no matter what: parents, siblings, grandparents, people close enough to be in our wedding party, coworkers*, and people who we are currently conversing regularly with. The second list is much more discriminatory: those who sent us cards the previous year.

After I’m done displaying the cards from each year I open up my address spreadsheet and bold all of the names that we received cards from. I add in any people that sent us a card that weren’t already on our list. Then I let the list sit for 10 months, until it’s time to send out cards for the next year. I add in any new friends we’ve made, delete the non-bolded names of people that don’t fall in the essential category, and order for my newest list amount.

I like this system because it helps keeps costs down, and develops a reciprocal relationship of sorts when it comes to sending out cards to people. The string of cards in our hallway grows by the day, and it makes me so happy to walk in the front door and see the smiling faces of our friends and family.

Christmas Card List Dilemma
Image via my Instagram account, @thatwife

 Do you send out Christmas cards? How do you manage and assemble your list each year?

 *Good networking and relationship-building.

Navigating the Santascape

December 10, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Holiday, Parenting

Our decision to be a “no Santa” household was largely inspired by our religious beliefs.  Even though we have left those behind we are forging ahead with the plan to take all of the credit for the gifts our children receive each year. I feel very strongly that our children need to have a firm grasp of money, and how very finite that resource is. Treating Santa as fiction instead of fact is one of the first steps we are taking toward that.

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T1 is 3 1/2 years now, and this is the first Christmas that I have had to act on my plans, instead of just getting philosophical about them in conversation. His friends tell him about Santa at school, we walk past Santa at the mall, he sat on Santa’s lap at a church breakfast. I struggled to converse with him about this and wasn’t sure how to react, until I was able to come up with a litmus test  to quickly think through each Santa situation.

Mentally insert Mickey Mouse whenever we see Santa. Mickey isn’t real, and no parents go out of their way to convince their children he is. But when you see Mickey Mouse at Disneyland no one says to their child “That is a man dressed as a giant mouse pretending to be Mickey.” Instead you let your child be excited about the experience, and at some point in time they realize that the characters they encounter in the theme park are college kids dressing up in furry sweat-boxes.

This approach is working great right now – T1 gets to excitedly point to every Santa that we pass, and to sing the songs and listen to the stories. I don’t have the options to bribe or manipulate him using threats about Santa not coming unless he listens to me (he should listen to me because I’m his mom and that’s the way the world works), and we get all the hugs and kisses and thank you’s for the presents he finds under the tree.

Halloween 2013

November 01, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Holiday

I haven’t done a personal photo shoot in a long time, hardly done much more than edit a personal photo once a week, but there is something about Halloween. I love pictures of people in costume. After T1′s preschool parade we came home and took pictures in the front yard. My mom took over the costume duties for the kids (I think it will be a nice tradition, and a way for them to bond with her from so far away) and their costumes were entirely her doing. T1 was Thomas the Tank Engine and T2 was a “Boo Monster”. My mom gave me a cream dress a few months ago, and I’ve been wanting to wear it so I threw a shawl over it and went as a bride.

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Choosing an Appropriate Halloween Costume

October 30, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Holiday

The weekend before last I posted the following photo and description on my Instagram feed.
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Halloween = my favorite time for over-saturating social media with photos of my kids. For this party Miss is a loose interpretation of a samurai, Mr is Buzz Lightyear.

If you visit my account you’ll see that my loose interpretation of a samurai costume hit some nerves, and cultural appropriation is something I’ve been thinking about ever since.

The podcast http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/category/stuff-mom-never-told-you/ just did an episode on this titled “What Not to Wear on Halloween” and I think it’s a great listen if you’d like to spend some time working through this issue.

This is the conclusion I have come to: It is never appropriate to represent or impersonate a negative or offensive stereotype of a currently-living group with a costume. Additionally, a privileged group should never dress as a member of a group they have oppressed, offended, or reside above in a given area (either presently or in the past). Be culturally sensitive about donning costume inspired by foreign cultures, particularly those your own culture has oppressed or attacked in some way.

If you have enough not to be homeless, you should not be dressing as a homeless person for Halloween. Living without a home is not a joke. If you are healthy, don’t dress up as a cancer patient. Having cancer is not a joke. (If you actually have cancer, feel free to dress up as someone with cancer. Maybe it can be a make lemonade from lemons kind of situation?) “White trash”, illegal alien, blackface. All are offensive. One of the Stuff Your Mom Never Told You hosts pointed out that at the end of the night the Halloween participant gets to go home and take their costume off. They may have been pretending to be a Black, mentally ill, incarcerated character, but after the party is over they get to go back to being a white, wealthy, TV personality. A better homage to Crazy Eyes would be donating some money to a cause that support similar women who need assistance getting back on their feet after incarceration.

I’ve cited some examples that I consider to be very obvious, but there are some I can’t decide on. What if I want to dress as a maid? Maybe the sexy French kind, maybe as someone in regular clothes who carries around a mop and set of rags all night. I think telling someone that they can’t dress as a maid somehow implies something negative about being a maid. But if I picture Paris Hilton dressing as a maid I get a bad taste in my mouth – it feels wrong. Same thing with dressing as an auto mechanic, or Walmart employee, or coal miner. Where is the line between personifying an idea and making a joke out of it?

I think the best approach to choosing a Halloween costume is to think about the person you are representing and decide how you are portraying their personhood. Most importantly, think about how they might feel if you were to encounter them in person. If there is any hesitation on your part, or any possibility of offense on theirs, choose something else. If you don’t know if something is offensive read about it on Wikipedia or ask someone who is well-read. If you’re reading this I’m going to assume you have the means at your disposal to create almost anything you can dream up; unique and creative costumes are the best kind anyway. Leave the flat jokes and hurtful stereotypes to the comedians who aren’t savvy enough to come up with sharp and innovative material.

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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