{ the end of summer }

September 8th, 2014

It’s been awhile.  Summer is slipping away from us and it’s been a wonderful one.  Last summer, I didn’t get out  much since Owen was still so little, but this summer has been full of activity and adventure.  We’ve explored all of the parks around us, gone many times to the zoo, been swimming, taken walks almost every day and library visits every week.  Sometimes I miss having a bitty baby, but I really love having a curious little boy full of wonder and enthusiasm for activity and the outdoors! 

Our Owen is such a sweet, darling little boy.  He is full of personality, spunk and even a little sass.  It’s so much fun to watch him learn and grow.  Lately, he dances, stomps, claps, blows kisses, gives high fives, says about five words, runs all over the place, and still loves to snuggle his momma.  It is so cliche, but I fall more in love with him all the time.

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I’ve photographed seven weddings this season, and I have four more to go – my last one in November.  I made the decision this year to only shoot weddings and do away with other kinds of shoots.  It’s allowed me to make enough income to spend my days home with Owen – just working a few weekends a year, which is perfect.  I am so thankful for a schedule like that that allows me to be so present with my little one.  Even with this relatively small amount of weddings (compared to other photographers), I have felt really busy and a bit overwhelmed at times.  I really don’t know how photographers who have weddings (sometimes multiples ones!) every single weekend do it and stay fresh and creative.  Being a complete romantic, I love photographing weddings, but there is so much pressure and stress that comes along with it – bad lighting, family drama, bridal parties running late, drunk guests hitting on me, rainstorms, unrealistic expectations.  With all of that, my anxiety hit it’s worst point ever this summer. I’ve been praying a lot about the direction of my photography business and the possibility of cutting back even more – maybe only doing a few weddings next year.  I’m looking forward to this winter as a time to step away, re-evaluate and see what I feel the Lord is calling me to do, especially with our family possibly continuing to grow.  

Funnel and I are nearly done with our home study to become a licensed foster family. We are both excited, but it is definitely a different feeling this time around.  When we were going through the homestudy process last time, we knew that the end result would be us becoming parents and having a baby.  But this time, we really have no idea what the outcome will be.  It’s very likely that we’ll have several short or long-term placements before an opportunity comes up for us to adopt again, and that could mean some real heartbreak for our family as we fall in love with these precious little ones and then have to say goodbye as they are returned to their families.  But even though we would love to adopt again, that’s not our only reason for becoming foster parents.  We have plenty of room in our home and lots of love to share and it will be a privilege to provide stability and love for these kids, if only for a short time.  I’m trusting the Lord to guard my heart and give me the strength to do this scary thing. During our last adoption, I clung to the verse that said God can do “immeasurably more than we can ask for or imagine” and that is something I am going to hold tight through whatever we have ahead of us.

I am so excited for this fall – I haven’t made our offical “fall fun list” yet, but I am excited for many things, including the Renaissance Fest, the Pumpkin Show, taking Owen trick-or-treating for the first time (he is going to be an adorable skunk!), celebrating EIGHT years of marriage and TEN years of love with my beloved Funnel, baking lots of yummy apple and pumpkin things (I am baking apple chips this very moment!) and becoming a part of a foster/adoptive group at our new church.

I’m not sure if anyone still reads this blog anymore, but if you do, thank you for visiting and reading about my little family.  Have a wonderful week!

Blessings,
Jen
 

{ may }

May 21st, 2014

I love May. When there are more warm days then not and the sun is on your face and summer is just around the corner. The ice cream truck starts making it’s rounds in our neighborhood.  In the mornings I hear the gibbons screeching from the primate rescue on the next street over, and in the evenings I can hear our neighbors out on their decks and the kids playing tag until it gets dark. There are new loves and new lives beginning. Weddings and babies and graduations.

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This May, my baby boy turned one year old.  It’s weird because I feel like I have known him forever (and how did I live my life without him?) and at the same time, it seems like it was only yesterday that he was a crying, red-faced, beautiful baby, placed in my arms for the first time.  There was a vast, empty pocket in my heart for so long, and he filled it and made me a momma and I am so thankful.   It has been a wonderful, beautiful year and I am so lucky for the privilege of knowing and loving him.

Ten Mays ago, I became friends with a boy named Funnel, who had long, shaggy hair and wore thrift store tee shirts and tight jeans.  I had just turned 20 and he had just turned 22.  Five months later, he kissed me and 2 years after that, he married me.  Ten Mays is a long time to know someone and love someone.  1/3 of my life, and entire decade.

My heart is bursting with love and joy because this May has made me an aunt two times over.  A baby niece and a baby nephew, born within  a week and a half of each other.

So much to be thankful for in this beautiful month.

{ eShakti review }

April 9th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from eShakti asking if I would be interested in a free dress in exchange for blogging about their clothing and website.  Free dress?  Um, yes please!  I had actually come across eShakti a couple of months earlier, and liked what I saw, so I was excited for the opportunity!  The dresses from eShakti remind me of a few other clothing companies I love: Ruche, Mod Cloth, and my very favorite, Shabby Apple.  Their dresses are classy, pretty, vintage-inspired, and modest.  The pricing is also similar – most of eShakti’s dresses are in the $60 – $80 range.

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As I was browsing their site, I came across something  that none of those other companies offer: customization.  For $7.50, you can input your own measurements rather than using one of their standard sizes, and they will create a custom dress fit just to you.  And even more exciting – you can make the dresses even more customized by choosing alternate sleeves, necklines and hemlines.  They also offer sizing up to 32W, which is another thing that these other stores don’t offer.

For my dress, I choose the Red Floral Embellished Poplin Dress.  In the warmer months, I pretty much live in dresses and skirts, and I wanted a summery dress that was casual enough to wear on a regular basis, but that I still would feel super pretty in.   And since I don’t own anything red, I thought this would be really fun for me.

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I wanted to try the custom sizing, so I had Funnel help me take all 8 of my measurements. I also decided to opt a longer sleeve, rather than cap sleeves, because cap sleeves tend to make my arms look bigger.  I also picked “above knee length” for the length.

I got my custom-made dress in hand 12 days after I ordered it, and I loved it!  It fit perfectly and seemed really well-made.  I loved all the little detailing – the scalloped hem, the embroidery, the pockets (!!!), and it even had little things inside the dress to keep your bra straps in place!  I can’t wait to wear this dress as it starts warming up here in Ohio!

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I will definitely be ordering from eShakti in the future!

{ a spring holiday to turks & caicos }

April 2nd, 2014

Last October, Funnel and I entered a photo contest to win a vacation put on by Dear Photograph & the film, About Time.  The tagline of Dear Photograph is “Take a picture of a picture, from the past, in the present” – and that’s what the contest was, with the theme of love and family.  When we decided to enter, we really didn’t think we had a chance of winning, but we thought it would just be really fun to go back to Rising Park and find the exact spot where the first picture ever of us was taken (back in 2004, when we were just friends).

This was our entry:

contest entry

 Dear Photograph,
A friend snapped this picture of us nearly ten years ago, when we were just a couple of kids. We were only friends, but I had a secret crush on him and he had a secret crush on me. When he finally kissed me later that year, I told him “I wish I could keep you” and he said, “I wish you would.” And I did. We came back to this spot on the eve of our seventh wedding anniversary.
Love,
Jen

I was shocked a few weeks later to find out we were one of 4 finalists, and then even more surprised to find out we had won! We were so excited and grateful – we never could have afforded to go on a vacation so soon after Owen’s adoption, and especially now that I’m not working, so this was such a huge gift to us.  We got to pick where we wanted to go and we decided on Providenciales, part of the Turks & Caicos islands.  I had been wanting to go there ever since I had seen La Tartine Gourmand’s post on Turks & Caicos a few years ago.  

So we headed to Providenciales (nicknamed “Provo”) the first week of March.  It was breathtakingly beautiful –  white sand, stunning turquoise water, temperatures in the 80′s.  The beach we stayed on, Grace Bay Beach, was just named the 2nd best beach in the world.  At the airport, we were talking with an older couple and we asked them if they had visited the islands before.  The wife said, “Oh yes, probably at least 25 times.”  And now we understand why.

The highlights:  we snorkeled at the world’s third largest reef, drove all over the island on the other side of the road, kayaked in the ocean, visited Iguana Island, tried conch prepared five different ways (conch salad, conch creole, cracked conch, conch chowder and conch fritters), enjoyed lots of rum punch, and took long walks along Grace Bay Beach every evening at sunset.   It was so relaxing and warm and it was wonderful to have some time for just the two of us to reconnect, expecially after all the changes we’ve had in our life this past year!

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So thankful to About Time & Dear Photograph for sending us on this wonderful vacation.. I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life!

{ hello 2014 // goodbye 2013}

January 6th, 2014

2013 was a beautiful year. It brought me my sweet Owen and made me a mother. I said goodbye to the busyness of the workforce and hello to quieter days at home, watching my little boy grow and change before my eyes. There have been tough days and stress and worry and exhaustion, but I am so full of gratitude for my life, all the blessings in it, all the longings fulfilled.

I am looking forward to discovering what 2014 holds for our little family. Funnel and I have signed up for classes this spring to become licensed foster parents. (I’ll share more on that soon!) We also WON a vacation thanks to a photo contest put on by Dear Photograph and About Time, and Funnel and I are going to the island of Providenciales (part of Turks & Caicos islands) in the Caribbean for a mini-holiday in March.  I’ve also made 9 little resolutions for 2014 that I hope will bring wellness to my body, mind and spirit. I think it’s going to be another good year.

Here are a few recent favorite photos of Captain Owen:

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Till next time!

xoxox,
Jen

{ a quick update }

November 11th, 2013

Two weeks ago, was our seventh wedding anniversary.  Thanks to my mother-in-law, Debbie, we were able to have an entire 24+ hours of just the two of us!  We went hiking to the top of Rising Park and then spent the night at the Welsh Hills Inn in Granville.  Aside from us demolishing a giant deer with our car on the way to our B&B (or more accurately, aside from a giant deer demolishing our car) it was such a wonderful anniversary.  My love for Funnel is ever-evolving and growing and seeing him become a father to our son this year does things to my heart that I cannot explain.

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Two days ago, Little Owen turned 6 months old.  He is so sweet and energetic and happy and hilarious.  I kiss his big cheeks hundreds of times a day (I’m not exaggerating) and I just love him so much.

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A week from today, we will be in court finalizing our adoption and Owen will legally become our son.  I will be excited and relieved once everything becomes official and final.  At some point I hope to write a post about God’s provision for us in Owen’s adoption – financially, logistically.  I really feel like it is so miraculous that the adoption is paid for, that our agency conceded on me being a stay-at-home-mom (something they were fighting us on), that the timing of everything was perfect, that our homestudy was completed just in time for Owen’s birthmom to receive our profile and choose us.  I could go on and on about it.

I would love to update the blog more regularly, but it is just so far down on my priority list that it doesn’t get to happen very often anymore.  Hope to write again soon!

Love,
Jen

{ mary }

August 18th, 2013

It’s weird to quit a job while you are on leave because there isn’t a whole lot of closure. There’s no goodbye party, no last day of work, no chances to hug your co-workers farewell.

After I resigned from my job, a few weeks before my maternity leave was up, there were a couple of people I wanted to see  in person. One of them was my friend Mary, who I thought of as my “work mom”… always there to listen, give me advice or a hug, to tell me she was praying for me. I emailed her at the end of July to see if she was free the following Wednesday so that I could bring Owen in to meet her. She emailed me back and said she was going to be off that day, but we should plan a day in the following couple of weeks. In her email she said, “We should just plan for another week, but let’s not let it get away from us!”

Well, it got away from us. I never emailed her back, I never dropped in to see her.

And then, today, I found out that she passed away on Friday.

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Mary was such an incredible person. If I had to pick one word to describe her, it would be “kindness.” She was one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. I never heard her say an unkind thing about anyone – not even once. And really it was the opposite – she was always bragging on people, saying such nice things about everyone. She would be at the front desk saying to me, “Isn’t Jamie just so great with the kids? They just love him” or “John has the patience of Job, doesn’t he?”

The kids in the day treatment program – even when they were cussing out every other staff member and destroying things- would always treat Mary with respect because they all loved her. I would often see them sitting in her office, chatting with her, when I would go back to that wing of the building. I think a lot of people included “chatting with Mary” as one of their coping skills. I think she was kind of like a mom to everyone.

Even in the midst of Mary battling breast cancer, Mary was so positive and upbeat, and always so concerned for everyone else’s lives and problems. She would always remember and ask me about the (minor) things I was going through, and she would tell me she was praying for me. She was so excited about me becoming a mom and always was asking for updates on our adoption process. I still have the card she gave me for my baby shower – full of encouraging and reassuring words.

card from Mary

Mary was such a sunny person and the world seems a little bleaker today, just knowing she is no longer here. I’m going to miss my sweet friend.

Two things I am thinking about today:
1. I would like to be more like Mary. I want to be defined by kindness. I don’t want to say an unkind thing about anyone. I want to care about other people and their problems rather than my own. (How amazing would the world be if everyone was more like that?)

2. Never take for granted how precious time is- spend time with people you care about everytime you get a chance. How I wish I would have not let time get away from us – and gone in to see her while I still had the chance.

Protected: { the week our life changed: part 3 }

August 16th, 2013

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Protected: { the week our life changed: part 2 }

July 30th, 2013

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Protected: { the week our life changed: part 1 }

July 27th, 2013

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