30 Life Highlights

May 07, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Personal

I like using my birthday as a chance to reflect on my life. My 26th and 27th years must have been particularly good, if the Amazingly Awesome lists I put together are any indication. For my 30th I’m thinking less about how AMAZING everything is and more about the remarkable experiences and states-of-being that pushed me to where I am today.

This post started out as a fun little trip down memory lane, but after I finished the list I noticed some patterns that reveal what’s most important to me, and where I should be focusing the majority of my time and effort. I was surprised to see that work came to my mind. I hold no fondness for the uniforms, or the long days on my feet,  or the hot-hot heat as I drove tractor through the cherries. It’s the relationships formed with my coworkers and the satisfaction found in being assigned tasks and accomplishing them that I enjoyed so much. This is one of the primary reasons why I want to get a job working for someone else within the next year.

Many of the things I wrote down only made the list because of the people I was with. I need to make it more of a priority in my life to put time and effort into those connections. And travel too, travel needs to always be a priority in our budget and lives.

Quite a few of the experiences reveal nostalgia for the way I grew up. We had the opportunity to provide that same life for our children, but we turned it down in favor of a life that will keep us away from my hometown in the thick of the hustle and bustle. There will always be a part of me that romances the pastoral, and I’m glad my parents still live there so the kids can continue to have those experiences in the summer. The suburbs are very bland (San Francisco city proper has my heart though!).

Thinking about my own childhood of course means I’m going to think about the childhood I’m giving to my kids and what I want them to remember. I have zero memories of my mom sitting on the floor playing with me. What I do remember is the stuff that I now realize would have taken hours and days to prep for. Going boating at Mardon, spending a week at the county fair, the trips we took, the pool we had in our backyard which my parents rarely swam in but probably spent a lot of time maintaining. I’m going to be guilt-free about saying “I’m busy right now, go play” in our daily life, but take more time to go to the beach or San Francisco or  Lake Tahoe or a road trip along the coast.

You know I didn’t make the list at all? Stuff. No mention of any of the toys I got as a kid, or the items I saved up for when I was independent, or talk about how well appointed the furnishings are in our home. Less stuff more experiences has been something we’ve been working toward over the last year, but assembling this list has made me want to double down and make it our new religion. We are moving to Redwood City this summer, and I’m going to use it as a test to see how much we can simplify and downgrade. Our home won’t be Pinterest-worthy, but we will get to know our neighbors.

When I’m 40 I’d like to make another list detailing the highlights from now until then. I want it to be filled with experiences over stuff, food, adventures we squeezed into our daily life, trips to places far and near, and stories about the ways I strengthened my connections with the people who matter most to me. I think I have enough information now to see what’s going to bring me the most joy.

30 Things I Loved About the Last 30 Years

(in no particular order)

1. Growing up on a farm

Here I am, somewhere around five years old, sitting on a horse in my front yard. Behind me is a ditch where we would swim. I’m smiling in the direction of the single-wide trailer where we lived until I was eight years old. It was a life full of simple things, and I never knew how poor we were. I’m very lucky to have parents who worked so hard to give me a great childhood. My kids will never know a Christmas where we spend Christmas Eve with dad’s side of the family watching rodeo clips, wake up the next morning and open presents before eating waffles, and then head over to the dairy to spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. They’ll have other things, new traditions and experiences but I’ll always miss what we had.

30 of my Life Highlights

2. Pretending to be a model in Rome

I’m far better behind the camera than I am in front of it, but my  mom worked it and we came away with some once-in-a-lifetime shots. Marching in front of the crowd at Trevi Fountain and getting up the courage to act like there weren’t hundreds of eyes on me was exhilarating. Maybe I’ll make my sister do the same thing in Greece this June.

30 of my Life Highlights

 

3. First sunset in Hawaii

The entire trip was extraordinary, but the portion that makes me happiest to look back on is from our first night, right after we got checked into our hotel. My sister and I decided we were going to race the sunset to the beach, and we ran around frantically trying to get everyone into suits before the sun disappeared completely. We speed walked the block to the beach and were treated to the best sunset of the trip. As good as the sunset was, the part that makes my chest feel a bit constricted with happiness was holding T1 in my arms in the ocean as he said over and over “This is the best ever!” and threw his head back in some of the purest joy I’ve ever seen on his face. I want more moments like that with him, 1000x over.

 

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One Quick Take

February 23, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Personal

I still haven’t heard back from Hackbright, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to focus on anything other than refreshing my email every few seconds. At this point I’ll be happy to get any news at all because it feels like I’m stuck in a sort of limbo, unable to make any plans for the next few months because I might be commuting up to San Francisco 6+ days/week. I thought the interview went really well, but with an 8% acceptance rate the odds aren’t in my favor. Stay positive! That’s what I’m trying to focus on, even when the feeling looms over me that no news doesn’t seem like good news in this instance.

Opening up my inbox and finding scans from the Vegas trip I had at the beginning of February was a welcome diversion. We managed to coordinate the schedules of seven different people well enough to spend three days in Vegas together. We lost our light to a bank of clouds right as we were leaving the hotel for pictures/dinner, but I adore these underexposed photos just the same. Below are Megan of Muncher Cruncher (if you’re into health/fitness you’ll love her Instagram account!) and our friend B. We shopped, ate, walked, one of us won $100 at the slots, and sat by the pool talking about Serial. Good, in a different sort of way than the good times we had at BYU. Three more years and we do it again? Definitely not seven, that was far too long.

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Yashica Mat 124g. Acros 100.

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A Week Off

October 27, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Travel

Morning faces in Houston, 2013

We are spending this week in Houston, staying with our friends from our time at business school. We have boys the same age, and our youngest kids are only a year apart, which will matter less with time. I’m most looking forward to the feeling of absolute acceptance and comfort whenever I spend time with them. We make dinner together, clean up together, stay up too late together. Moving around a lot makes it hard to make it to that point with people, the point where you aren’t putting on a performance at all and are able to fully be yourself.

As I mentioned in a previous post, TH is working a lot more than we thought he would (even more than his last job) so these trips are chance to deepen connections with people I love, and have a fantastic time eating and exploring and photographing with some really fabulous people. I don’t know if we’ll be able to make this trip next year, when T1 is in kindergarten, at least not for this long. I’m not sure what the policies are in our school district where we live now, but I’ve heard that the schools can be pretty aggressive about pursuing parents who don’t have their kids in school enough. A friend told me about being reported to the police when she went out of town for a week, and then kept her daughter out of school the next week due to illness! What’s that like in your area?

If you’re in Houston, I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested in doing a Jenna Cole photography shoot while I’m here! Send me an email or comment below if you’d like to learn more.

 

My Ideal Vacation with Young Kids

November 19, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Adventures

My trip to Texas taught me a lot about how I’m going to approach travel with young kids for the next few years. There are people who take their children to Disneyland, and talk in glowing terms about nothing but the smiles and laughter and first encounters with characters who previously existed only in a virtual world. I know that a trip I took to Disneyland with young kids would not be summarized with a Pollyanna attitude. There would be meltdowns and missed naps and obscene amounts paid for messy popsicles in the shape of Mickey’s head. I don’t generally consider myself to be a negative person, but when it comes to parenting I have a hard time managing my expectations and the trying experiences are what often stick in my memory.

Speaking of managing expectations, I didn’t manage mine very well for the first portion of our trip, spent in Austin. I was meeting my parents there while they were on a business trip, and staying with two young kids by myself in a hotel (my parents were in a separate hotel, a 5-minute walk away) was a lot harder than I thought it would be. T1 saw his first 3D movie with my parents and I’m happy about the little bit of time they were able to spend together, but that’s something I won’t be repeating again until both children are self-sufficient.

Traveling with young kids means making-do without the arsenal of resources that helps make parenting manageable and enjoyable. After two days I left Austin and drove over to Houston to spend a week with our closest friends from Chicago. When I got out of the car and hugged Paige it took a lot to hold back the tears – I was overwhelmed with relief to be in a kid-friendly environment with my friend who I can 100% be myself with. We didn’t have anything except the mundane planned for my stay. We went to the gym, made meals from scratch, traded off childcare responsibilities as we ran errands, and stayed up late into the night painting our nails and talking about our husbands.

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Instagram Friends

May 04, 2013 By: Jenna Category: blog

I’ve had lots of meetups in the past with people I don’t know in real life. Weddingbee friends, Facebook friends, and blog reader friends. So why is it that making new friends via Instagram feels a bit strange?

It’s not strange Jenna. It’s awesome. I know this because I mentioned on one of my Instagram photos that I was itching to take pictures of someone other than my family, and a woman in the area whom I had never met before spoke up and said she would be interested in getting together so our kids could play and I could take pictures. I took her up on her offer and had a great time. And now we are meeting up at an amusement park (tomorrow) as well!




Moral of the story: Making new friends via Instagram is not weird. And I want to keep doing it.

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      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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