What is Coding? (And what I like about it)

July 24, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Work

las Vegas taxiYashica Mat 124-g, Ektar 100 rated at 400 and pushed two stops

When I started researching software engineering back in January, I didn’t know much about what coding was past fiddling with <p> and <a href>  tags in html. I’m still getting questions that lead me to think a bit more exploration of this topic would help. And maybe get some more people to try it, because coding is really fun! Even better, it’s a really important skill to have as technology progresses and we inch toward The Singularity.

Software engineering/coding/hacking/computer programming/etc are all terms used in a variety of ways to refer to the act of using a language to make stuff happen using a computer. There are a lot of programming languages being used out there, and the industry is shifting toward new ones all the time. Facebook recently introduced a new one called Hack, ios and android each have specific languages used for development, I’m hearing rumors that Python is out and Javascript is in, but I’m sure next week that will all be old news. Once you know one language there is enough crossover to start picking up others, the way Romance-based language speakers can pick up Italian or Spanish or Portugese more easily than a first-language Chinese speaker because there are similarities between the way the different languages work.

Want to know what it’s like to work with one of these languages? There are so many free resources out there by now that deciding which one to use is probably the hardest part of beginning to learn. Some of the most commonly-referenced resources are Khan Academy, Codecademy, Udemy, and YouTube. I’ve actually had several important breakthroughs watching different YouTube videos, because sometimes a concept needs to be explained a certain way before I can really grasp it. I think you can’t really know what it means to code, or if you’d like to code, unless you try it. Read more →

Why Coding?

July 22, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Work

An Instagram comment pointed out that I’ve talked a lot about what I’m doing, but not why I’m doing it. Why would a 30-year-old mother-of-two with an English major, photography business, and several blogs attempt to join the world of tech and do software engineering (which to the outsider might seem like something that is dry, technical, and math-heavy)? I’m not going to get into some of the false assumptions about software engineering, I think that would do nicely as a post on its own. This is my chance to document the thought process I went through to arrive in this place where I am now.

I’ve been unhappy with my current blend of SAHM/WAHM for awhile now. If I’m home I should either be working on housework, Jenna Cole photos, or Pinterest Fail. It made it hard for me to enjoy the time spent at my own house because thoughts of my to-do list were always nagging at me. Even making a coffee and sitting and drinking it in the front room felt overly indulgent. I should be answering emails while I drink that cup of Joe! I was spending too much time telling my kids that I can’t be available to them because I have work to do. l was handing off the kids when TH got home and literally sprinting around the house to try to get everything done before bedtime. I certainly didn’t like what I had become, and I don’t think anyone else did either.

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Blogging and editing photos and marketing for your own business are all solo activities and there were entire days where I wouldn’t see or talk to anyone in-person except my kids. This pattern makes me a very lonely extrovert. I was spending 2+ hours in the car each day shuttling them around, and in-between I would race home and try to knock out as much as possible for my business before I would pick them up and hurry back to fit in gym and dishes and laundry before bed. It felt like I was running myself mad and not really getting anywhere. Read more →

July 2015 Update

July 09, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Adventures

 

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. Read more →

One Quick Take

June 03, 2015 By: Jenna Category: Personal

Pentax 645, Portra 800, theFINDlab

Next week is his last at the preschool we’ve loved so much. The preschool that saved my sanity by helping me navigate through years 2-4 of parenting, a stage of development that felt like it was never going to end. But it has ended, and suddenly our four-year-old who would meltdown at the drop of a hat has transformed into a five-year-old who tells stories and asks for hugs and regularly surprises with his conscientiousness and desire to fill people’s buckets.

We haven’t talked yet about how he isn’t going to be going to the same school as his best friend anymore. We’re packing up the house right now, and where we live next won’t be that much farther from his best friend’s house in driving distance, but these two have an incredibly deep bond that won’t ever be the same after they start into different school systems for kindergarten. T1 has never napped well at school, and last week he shared that it’s because he’s worried he will be too groggy to get a seat next to his best friend when they get up from their mats and move to snack time. So he rests on his mat for two full hours, forcing himself to stay away for what comes next. That’s love right there.

 

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.

 

30 of my Life Highlights Read more →

      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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