Category Archives: Blogging

“We love him”

I found myself choked up this morning whilst reading this blog post by Handsfreemama, shared on Facebook by Rebecca of the simple as that blog.  If you aren’t already you MUST follow both of these lovely ladies’ blogs if you are a parent, artsy, crafty, into photography (even if it’s just with your iphone!) or if you just like to be inspired by others.  These ladies continually do a great job at inspiring and motivating me.  I suggest every one at the very least read the blog post “Six Words You Should Say Today” which is the one I read this morning.

I now have a son, his name is Harvey (or “Don Harvey” depending on who you ask!) and he has shifted my world in an amazing way.  Not only mine but my entire family’s as well!  When I read this post I immediately started to think of him and of how I will interact with him with regards to his activities in the future. I don’t know what he will like to do, maybe it will be sports, or instruments, or chess or working on cars like his dad?  It really doesn’t matter though, I imagine I will think that whatever he is into is the coolest and, here come those magic words, I WILL “love to watch him ____________”. I can’t possibly imagine not saying it outloud, but I can also totally see how such a simplistic phrase might fall to the wayside in lieu of lengthier and thus seemingly more sincere commentary.  I hope that my eyes are now opened to the beauty of allowing ones self to keep it simple, to not drown ones thoughts and intentions with unnecessary words.

After my trip into the future with my own son, I then allowed myself to travel back in time to the hundreds of soccer games and practices that my own parents were a part of and tried to remember the types of conversations we use to have with regards to my playing.  I don’t remember the exact words, but I can say that my memory of their involvement relays to me that they did in fact LOVE to watch me play.  The rest is irrelevant and they got their point across regardless of how they might have phrased it because I have no doubt if I were to ask them now or if I had asked them then, they would happily admit to how much they loved to watch me play.

There is something seriously magical about making your own parents into grandparents.  It’s a gift that can’t be measured and one that my parents have embraced with arms open wider than I could have possibly imagined, it’s so wonderful to watch their eyes light up at the sparkle in 3 month old Harvey’s deep blue eyes.  I once again glimpse at the future and see all of us thinking to ourselves just how much we love to watch him play, sing, dance, cook, jump, explore and discover this amazing world we live in. Now I just hope that we will all remember to say it out loud.  I will feel quite accomplished if that practice becomes a part of my sweet boys life in such a way that he lives without hesitation in expressing his joy in witnessing the lives of those he loves.

I do know that I love watching those that I love falling in love with my boy, it makes my heart sing.  And whether my mom, Harvey’s grandma, knows that shes doing it or not, she sends me a text after every time she watches him that simply says “We love him”.  It makes my heart swell with pride and puts a smile on my face every time.

Make a point today to tell someone how you feel and keep it simple with those six little words, “I love to watch you ________”

-thejensspin

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Your Short Story

I have been contemplating posting this for quite some time.  I consider myself an open book and fairly free in the “social media realm” but this has been a struggle for me.  I was inspired by the courage of a friend whom I already admired and respected for her talent in photography but for whom my respect grew even more when she announced the loss of her pregnancy on Facebook last week.  She did so with grace and gratitude for the love that she is surrounded by and it was a sad but beautiful thing to see.  So here it goes.  This is our story of loss.  It can’t all be butterflies and rainbows but it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and share something that hurts as much as something like this does.  I am hopeful that sharing this story will bring comfort and companionship to someone, anyone that has to go through this.  This is very raw and perhaps offensive at times, but it is as real as it gets and my true account of one of the saddest events of my life.  I wrote this mostly to document my experience and put it into my Project Life but it has always been in my head that I should and eventually would share it.  So here it goes….

 

 

What We Thought

The photo on the left is what we THOUGHT you looked like… The photo on the right is what you truly looked like when you stopped growing….

 

January 16th, 2014

The day seemed long because I was anxious about our appointment.  Your Grandma made me chocolate banana cupcakes with strawberry cream frosting.  They were a Pinterest request and “she just happened to have everything she needed laying around” so she whipped them up and brought them to work.  They were DELICIOUS!  Those pretty little cupcakes seemed like the perfect way to start the day that would be the day that we would FINALLY know you were “real”.  Your Dad and I would finally get to hear your little heartbeat and see your tiny little body on the ultrasound screen.  Yes, I was anxious but MOSTLY excited!  

Cupcakes

Your Dad (always the multitasker!) was dropping a car off at Brandon Outback so I picked him up there.  On the way out to Brandon I listened to “Riding Elevators” on repeat.  I sang the lyrics at the top of my lungs with the windows down and my heart wide open.  I had such a content and peaceful feeling, so light and…. happy.  We were about to actually FEEL like parents!

We made it just in time for our 3:15 appointment.  I did my obligatory “pee in the cup” and luckily we didn’t have to wait very long.  So in we went to the ultrasound room.  She told me to just undress from the waist down so she could do an intravaginal ultrasound and get really close for the “pictures”.  So I did, slipped on a gown from the waist down and laid back in the chair.  The space was very small so it was a little awkward with Don in there, but he found a corner to occupy and the technician came back in.  We got started and she told your Dad that we would do the “fun stuff” first.  So he was ready with his phone to take pics and video.  Within a minute she had an image on the screen and I remember her saying something like “looks like you’re not as far along as we thought”…  To that I naively responded with something like “yeah we found out really early so it may be off a little…” (Whatever the hell I meant by that?)  I will hold in my heart the memory of this one flash, this one image where I could see “you”.  You were “floating” in darkness… and then in an instant, “you” were gone.  She started rapidly snapping through taking screen captures of every angle.  Still completely chill and unaware of what was happening to me, to us, in that moment I asked he if we could at least hear the heartbeat?  She said “No, I wouldn’t do that with this machine, let’s just wait till you see the doctor.”

And just like that she stood up and left the room, I put my pants back on and looked up at Don and shrugged my shoulders and said “well maybe something is wrong?”.  He looked at me with love and said “I’m sure there’s nothing wrong”.  Such sweet naive little love birds we were.  So off we went to the next set of waiting rooms.  As we sat there I still really had no idea what had just happened or what was about to happen I don’t think Don did either.  We were ill prepared to say the least.  Fortunately I wasn’t letting my mind wander to worst case scenarios, I was just existing in that space and time.  I was present in only that moment and that was all I could manage.  

My favorite, “Anna” (she’s a nurse practitioner) was in the hallway giggling and laughing, basically shit talking about a crazy patient.  Don and I giggled, it was hard not to hear them and it was funny.  A nice little distraction while we waited.  She saw us and proceeded to give us the story, we laughed some more and then she ducked away for a minute.  I took that chance to explain to Don how much I like her and that she was who I saw for my annual visit right after he and I got together.  She stole my heart at that appointment when she told me “this is the happiest I’ve ever seen your vagina”.  I mean how could I not love her after a statement like that?  She also made sure to hook me up with as many free samples as she could manage and extra scripts and what not.  So yeah, she’s cool and I really like her.

A few minutes passed and she came back with my file (“our file”) and she called Don and I into the doctor’s office.  We followed her in and sat down….

She had “the face”….

She began….

I remember so much about this day, but the next minute or two?  They are in there somewhere but it’s a blur.  I do know that in those two minutes I put on my “matter of fact face”, nodded, accepted the facts, asked logical questions and said “ok…” an exceptional amount of times but I don’t remember Don saying anything…  “Anna” left to “give us a minute” and so we could wait some more for the doctor…  As she shut the door behind her I remember her saying “the doctor will be in with you shortly”.  Never in my life has that phrase bothered me or incited any sort of anxiety, but, in this moment it hurt.  I couldn’t understand what the hell I could possibly need to see the doctor for at this point.

Time passed….

and also didn’t…

and we were quiet.

So very still and quiet.

I pulled out my phone and sent Anita a text.  She was at the port on a cruise ship and was eagerly awaiting an ultrasound snapshot.  Instead I crafted a text:

“Baby stopped growing 😦 I am ok, we are still at Dr.’s office now.  Just wanted to let you know before you left. I love you.”

That was seriously shitty but necessary.  She was moments away from setting off on a trip and I had to TEXT her the news that her niece/nephew didn’t make it.  Just one of many messages that would need to be relayed.

“Anna” came back in and said one more thing, what that was I couldn’t tell you because that’s when I broke.  My “matter of fact face” melted right off and right behind slid the first tear betraying me and my keep it togetherness completely.  The damn burst and then I was wide open and vulnerable.  Hurt seeping into every cell of my body as reality and her cold bitchy ways started to set up shop right in my dead womb.  As this is happening “Anna” says “There it is. It was inevitable.”….  She then hugged me and I wept.  Embarrassed and hurt I wept in her embrace.  She looked over my head at one point and asked Don how HE was, if he was ok.  I remember that but I do not remember hearing him respond but I am certain he had his “military/strong man face”.  She left again, this time leaving me with the box of tissues. Dammit.

Don and I alone in the room again I finally look over to him and said something like “I’m just worried about what you’re going to do…”  In my head I was worried about what he was going to do as in be mad or crazy upset?  Because I knew I didn’t have it in me to help him manage any of that in this particular moment.  His response was epic and so classic THE DON, he says, “Well I’m not going to divorce you.”  HA!  To that I said something like “you better not mother fucker! and that’s NOT what I meant!”

Dr. “S” finally arrives.  I don’t know her, never met or seen her before… Seems appropriate that she should have “this talk” with us.  So she begins by going over the facts.  The baby stopped growing at 7 weeks, I was in the midst of a missed miscarriage and here are your “options”.  A fantastic snapshot of our life at the time would be the first question I ask as soon as the “options” are brought up, “is that going to be covered by medicare?”. “Medicare? or Medicaid?” she asks.  I seriously responded with “I don’t know, I have a gold card.”  (Fuck my life.)   She said that she didn’t want me to worry about that, that it would all be covered…  She pretty much told me that having a D&C was my best option.  My body had let five weeks go by without aborting the baby itself so there was no telling how long the “limbo” could take if it happened naturally… So I chose to have a D&C.  We went over some paperwork, signed my name a couple times.  Then it was off to the checkout counter.  This part of the process was way too long and I was doing my best not to completely fall apart while answering questions, making decisions and scheduling.  Don kept it together too although it was difficult and I could feel his patience waring thin as we waited and waited to get out!  In the end it was decided that I would have the D&C on Monday, the 20th, Martin Luther KIng Jr Day and Mikaela’s birthday… As good a day as any I suppose.

We got in the car and it was quiet.  I had been playing “your song” through my iphone so now there was just silence.  We stopped at a gas station to fill up and headed home.  We didn’t say much.  Don seemed to be most worried about having to tell his sisters which pissed me off a little bit at the time.  But looking back it seems like a perfectly acceptable concern.  I considered turning on the radio but couldn’t think of any station that would be playing the appropriate soundtrack for the drive home after finding out your baby is dead.  So it remained quiet.

We took the new expansion off of the crosstown, mostly by accident but it turned out to be a good distraction.  It was the first time we were on that road, seemed strange to get such different views of our city from way up high.  When we got to “malfunction junction” it was almost five o’ clock and I knew that your grandma was waiting for an update…  I was so sad to have to call her and tell her this.  Nothing is ever real until you tell your  mom, you would have learned that I know…  So I took a deep breath, let out a sigh and called…

I think I said “Hey Mom” I don’t remember what she said after that, I think she asked a question about you.  I remember I managed to squeak out through my choked throat “there is no baby” and then she said “what?” in the sweetest most comforting heartwarming voice that can only come from one’s mom and then I explained that you had no heartbeat.  That you had stopped growing at 7 weeks.  A lot of what came next is a blur I just remember being very worried about her.  She was so excited about you and so very happy for us.  She will someday be the most amazing grandma.  I am so very sorry that she will never know you.  She asked if I felt like I needed her to come over and while her love is always welcome it felt like something that Don and I needed to tackle together.  Not to mention a mom hug in that moment would most likely have sent me into hysterical convulsions.  We said “I love you” and with that the hardest call was done.

Once we got through traffic we stopped at Al’s aka Nebraska Mini-Mart to get ice and coke because we had decided that cocktails were definitely in order.  He gave us what we morbidly deemed the “Dead Baby Discount” after he asked how “things” were going and he became the first person we told… in person.  I just said to him that it didn’t work out and he reassured us that we’ve got time and we’ll try again but that he most definitely would not be taking our money on this occasion.  Good times.

Conveniently we had an appointment scheduled with Joelle to sign the new lease for our house.  So when we all sat down to go over the paperwork she became the second person we got to tell in person.  She too was reassuring and kind.  After she left Don and I went to ABC on Kennedy to get some more cocktail supplies and then we headed to Chipotle so that Don could get some comfort food. 

Doing the best we can

We came home, made cocktails, took a couple pictures to shove into my project life and Don ate not one but TWO Chipotle burritos.  He loved you a lot little one.  Dead baby grief requires double duty comfort food apparently. We spent the rest of the night making seriously inappropriate dead baby jokes which helped us to laugh instead of cry. I called Valerie and let her know, she too was heartbroken but, she and I are both very logical people.  Mother Nature knows best and she decided it just wasn’t meant to be this time.  Val does a great job of helping me to see the silver linings of things. Excelsior!  I decided that a round of informative matter of fact texts to close friends was the easy way to tell everyone.  There was no way I could speak out loud the explanation over and over.  I just couldn’t.  So I checked that task off my to-do list and had many heartfelt responses of sympathy.  I realized that Don had not called his “people” and I knew he needed a little push…. So, I texted Don’s bestfriends and let them know that they should call him.  One called after I had some time to text with him which worked out good because the other called right away.  He spoke to both of them for a little while each and he seemed to feel “better” once he had gotten those conversations off his chest.  I eventually got to talk to Amber which was an extremely hard call, but luckily Don and I had had time to loosen up beforehand.  It was really sad to realize what a precious opportunity it was for Amber and I to be pregnant with our first babies at the same time and to face the sadness in knowing that that will never be possible again.  It was a once in a lifetime chance that was now gone.  

We wrapped the night up dancing in the front room to techno songs to the point of pure exhaustion.  We cuddled together very tight in bed that night, neither of us giving the other too much space to move or to get lost.  Our grips were fierce having been reminded in such an intense way, just how very fragile this life is.  We are lucky to have one another and we will always love “you”.  You helped Don and I to see just how much we do want a family and also to feel and experience just how intense the love for one’s own child can be.  You were so tiny but you shifted our world in the best way you could by showing us a glimpse of everything we’ve always wanted. Thank you for that.  We needed you.

Love, 

Your “Mom”

 

January 26th, 2014

It had been a long day celebrating Gasparilla and it was so nice and comforting to end the day at home with just my big sister.  Anita and I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning talking.  We covered every emotion that I was going through but also everything that she was and had gone through.  It’s tough work being a big sister.  It was the first time we had been together since everything happened.  It was so incredibly good for my soul to share everything with her.  

When she left the next afternoon, I was just starting to have “cramps”.  They came in waves and were uncomfortable but mostly manageable.  But as I stood in the frame of our front door watching her back out onto the street and drive away, I realized that I was alone.  And it started to ache.  Being alone is not something that normally makes me unhappy or vulnerable, but, I think my body and mind knew what lay ahead and being alone felt more relevant in that moment than it has in a very long time, maybe ever.

I was alone with what was left of “you”… and “you” were about to leave me completely.  There I was alone and becoming empty.  I ached for my husband but I quickly became too consumed with the process to think of much else.  I started to hurt all over, physically it would come in waves, later I would learn that those “waves” were similar pains to contractions… Thank you for the practice sweet one…  

My heart hurt the most.  I missed you, I missed the hope for you that I fell in love with.  What was left of you was leaving me and I was ALONE.  Alone in a new and foreign way.  

“I go home to the coast it starts to rain I paddle out on the water. Alone. Taste the salt and taste the pain I’m not thinking of you again. Summer dies and swells rise the sun goes down in my eyes. Take these broken waves, darkly coming to take me home. And I’ve never been so along and I’ve never been so ALIVE.”

-Third Eye Blind

A part of me wanted “your dad”, my husband, my partner…But this way was better. I was not in charge of managing anyone else’s emotions, instead I had the freedom to FEEL EVERY ONE OF MINE.  I now know that I needed this to be something just you and I shared.  An experience only to be remembered by “us”.  And so “we” did… and so it was.

After about 6 hours of painful waves, throwing up from pain meds and taking care of the physically real remnants of “you” I finally felt the last bit of “you” leave me.  It was done.  “We” were done and I was now left with the task of once again feeling complete with every piece of “you” gone.  I was alone.  But I, unlike you my love… was ALIVE.   

Thank you so much to all of our friends and family that have been so amazing as we have recovered from all of this and somehow managed to fall even deeper in love.  We are incredibly grateful every day.

-thejensspin

 

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Where I was 9/11/01

I will never forget.

This post was written and shared last year on this day.  My story hasn’t changed, but, I am going to make it a tradition to re-share it each year as well as share any new thoughts or life experiences that may be relevant as the years go by.  Last year, I read a number of stories of my friends with children struggling with the explanations that need to be made when you are a parent.  From what I gather, it’s a difficult piece of American life to explain to children.  I will cross that bridge when I come to it… But for now, this is my story, Where I was:

It has been exactly eleven years.  I was 20 years old. I had bid my teenage years goodbye just twelve days prior.  What happened that day however, made me feel smaller and younger than I had ever felt before.  I was living with my boyfriend at the time in a crummy apartment complex in Brandon, Florida.  We didn’t have much, but what we did have was fine by me, because I was in love… or at least what I thought love was at the time.

I was sleeping when it all started.

It’s funny how strange it can make you feel when you realize the things that have or can happen while you are sleeping.  Simple things like spiders or roaches crawling on you, to nightmarish things like someone taking your child from your home while you slept in the next room.  Sleep is such a wonderful state and one that I cherish… But… the fact that I was sleeping when the world as I knew it had started to shift is still mind blowing to me.  How could I not have felt that something terribly wrong was happening?  We all like to think that when disaster strikes our intuition will alert us and cause us to act appropriately… But alas, my “guts” did no such thing.

That day began for me with the ringing of his Nokia cell phone.  I recall being irritated that I was being interrupted in my slumber, but proceeded to check right back out once he answered the phone.

It took only one second for my instincts to kick in and I bolted up right, immediately realizing that something was terribly wrong.  It was as if that nokia phone was pressed up against my own ear as every word coming out of it was dripping with panic and terror.  His brother was in Queens.  He couldn’t stop talking and all I remember him saying, over and over and over again, “They’re coming for us!  They’ve got us! We are going down! It’s over!” and then one clear and properly enunciated sentence; “A plane hit the twin towers!”

I don’t remember if he said anything to his brother… I don’t think he had an opportunity.  We were told to turn on the TV, so we did. It was the first TV I had ever purchased, it had a VCR built in! and it swiveled.  I absolutely LOVED that TV, in fact, I still have it to this day, I somehow can’t bring myself to part with it…Never in my worst nightmare could I have imagined the horrific images that would be projected from it’s monitor.

At the same moment we turned the TV on he lost the connection with his brother, that would be the last we would hear from him for days.  In fact it would be days before he was able to check on any of his family, all in New York.  All cell phones and land lines were blocked.

That memory would stick with me and on August 15, 2003, I was living in Queens, New York and working at Bayside Outback.  There was a blackout.  The very first thing I thought was that we were under a terrorist attack.  Cell phones were already not working so my very next thought was that I needed to get to the land line and call my mom.  I called her and told her that I didn’t know what was happening, but that I was worried that it might be really bad.  I told her I loved her and that I would try and get in touch with her again when I could.  I will never forget the sickening feeling I had in my stomach making that phone call.  For a moment I had let myself think that it would be the last time I heard my mother’s voice, the last time that she would hear mine. Luckily, the blackout was just that and nothing worse.

What I saw on the television captivated me.  I sat on the corner of the bed with jaw dropped open in shock and just kept saying out loud, “This can’t be real. This can’t be real.”  At that point only the first plane had hit.

I started to realize that I was witnessing REAL PEOPLE jumping out of buildings.  Even typing that now I feel sick to my stomach.  Terror and pain so fierce that people were either choosing to or being pushed out of the burning building.  “This can’t be real life”.

Looking back it is outrageous to realize how incredibly slow my brain was working.  I was so overwhelmed with what was actively happening that at no point did my mind transition to the “what could happen?” or “what is likely to happen next?”.  It seems to me now that it is perhaps part of the “American Condition” to not have thought past what might happen next.  In other countries, where survival skills are part of daily life, it most likely would have occurred to them that there was no reason to assume that there wasn’t another plane on it’s way, that there weren’t bombs set up through out the city, that the terror was only in that moment.  They would probably have looked ahead and tried to see what terror may be next.  It seemed to me that what I was watching was as bad as it could get.

At 9:02, we watched live as the second plane was filmed crashing into the South Tower.  Time stopped.  I stopped breathing.  Screams, I could hear so many screams, the entire country screamed at that moment. Tears started.  And then the fear started to set in.  This IS REAL LIFE.

Again with the slow moving brain.  At no point did it occur to me what would happen next.  What could be worse?  I was watching the only reality I had ever known burn and realizing that I was helpless.  I not only had no concept of war, of battles, bombs, mass murder, terrorists, I knew I had no survival skills.  I felt confident that I had the will to live, but at what cost and against what kind of enemy?  I had never imagined I would have to think about such things.

In the next forty five minutes or so, we learned that we were under terrorist attack.  That all air traffic had been stopped.  That a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. More Americans were dead. And then my slow moving brain processed what the media had been speculating would probably happen as the first tower started to sink as if into quicksand, no longer visible in the sky, a black cloud even darker than the one that proceeded it racing upwards.  Again. There were screams.  “This can’t be real life”.

News of  Flight 93 going down started to be reported.  It was somehow a piece of “good news”.  Amazing, strong and brave Americans had banded together upon learning what else had happened that morning and decided to take control of their destiny.  They stopped what was intended for that plane from happening.  True American heroes.

Somehow, I was still holding on to hope, thinking that all of this was more reminiscent of a Hollywood Blockbuster than an early morning news reel and that surely there must be something that won’t go wrong.  My hope was shattered as the second tower collapsed and the reality of the last hour started to sink in.

We were under attack. “This is REAL Life.”

All of America was glued to their televisions or tuned into their radios for the rest of that terrible day and for days, weeks and months to come.  The footage that would be shown later would not be what I had witnessed live that morning.  As it shouldn’t have been.  I will never be able to get the images out of my mind.  People, real life people, jumping to their deaths, others trapped and never able to find a way out.  I don’t ever want to feel the way I felt that morning again.

I realized on that day just how small and insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. My love for my country had never been greater.  But my pride had been taken away completely.  I felt like I didn’t know what being an American really meant anymore.  It had never occurred to me that we could possibly fall victim to acts of terrorism like that.  One of the craziest things to think about now, is that I was aware of other terrorist activity that had occurred in the U.S. before that day, but I think I am not alone when I say that it had never once occurred to me that there was EVER a possibility for something as monumental and detrimental to take place.

My fiance’ posted this on his Facebook Status today:

“Its been eleven years and I still reflect on that day for the week leading up to today, and weeks following today. I was in basic training, red phase. We had just finished our run for the morning and the ‘sick call rangers’ had met back up with us from being lazy and getting out of P.T. . They told us that the twin towers got hit, but noone believed their lazy asses because we had just gotten our asses handed to us by the drill sergeants on the 5 mile run. Chow hall, two minutes to inhale, back out the door and in formation. March to the armory warehouse. In single file line and with a quickness we are issued our rifles, return to formation, and are abruptly commanded to fall back in single file line to be issued our bayonets for the first day of bayonet training. Normally we roll out immediately after to get on cattle trucks, but today the commander was there speaking to the drill sergeants, and a few minutes later we all are ordered to return our weapons and bayonets. Much confusion at this point. We all assumed we were going to get smoked, but we had no idea why. First Sarg comes out and yells ya’ll are going to WAR!!!!! We then proceed to go out to the field where we are met by the commander and told about the plane attacks and then issued a day of relief for what I guess was to make sure that noone was going to kill themselves with their bayonets. 9-11-2001 I will never forget.”

Even though I had heard this story before, seeing it put into words and knowing that these words came from the man I am lucky enough to be spending the rest of my life with really struck me today and inspired me to, for the first time, put my own experience of that day into words.
It’s hard to believe how far apart and completely different my future husband and I’s realities were 11 years ago today, but, if 9/11 teaches us anything, it is to love one another, to cherish every moment and make the most of the life you are lucky enough to live.
So much more information came out after the day, facts, stories of heroism, love lost, love rekindled and the list goes on.  One of the most gut wrenching parts for me was hearing the voices of people who knew they were living their last minutes or sometimes even seconds.of their life and they wanted to make sure that the people they loved got to hear it one last time.  Don’t wait.  Tell anyone and everyone as often as you can, you will never regret it.
I will love my country and my fellow Americans for as long as I shall live.  I am the product of good men who have gone to war to protect and support this country and I will forever be proud of that.  I am honored that I will be married to a man who selflessly served his country.
In Loving Memory. 9/11/2001. I will never forget.
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How thejensspin got it’s name.

thejensspin

thejensspin

I signed up for the dailypost over a year ago… I have yet to participate and even so I am pretty sure this topic is not up to date, but, you gotta start somewhere right?  I am also sure there is probably a more sophisticated way to reference said dailypost but I don’t really know what that might be, so, here’s the link:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/choosing-a-blog-name/#more-28963

“thejensspin” took me a long time to come up with as my blog title.  I had asked for suggestions from friends as well as on Facebook and while I got a few interesting suggestions, none of them really stuck for me.  At the time that I started this blog I was JUST learning how to “surf the net“, seriously.  I can not even express how dull my interweb life use to be, there were days when I would literally refresh my facebook feed every thirty seconds to see if someone else had finally said/done/posted something.  I had no idea where to look, I didn’t follow any blogs back then, I didn’t even know that something like GoogleReader existed (which makes it even more difficult that our relationship will be over in just a couple of weeks since we were just getting to the honeymoon phase of our relationship…) and I wasn’t shopping on Amazon.  I was… out of touch.

So when I started wedding planning, there really was no option but to start mastering the internet!  And once I started to discover all of the wonders that were all brand new to me, news stories, cool blogs, pinterest finds, awesome photos, the latest mac/apple news, I felt like I wanted somewhere to share it and talk about it, I kept coming back to it being “my spin on things” or my “take on things” so I was already spinning those two phrases in my head, but the entertaining part is the “the”.

Cue my husband, “The Don”, and yeah, his name is Don, actually Donald (which is really only associated with the duck and Trump, neither of which is very “cool”) so why wouldn’t he do everything he could to make his name cooler?  So, before he and I became an item, I got a picture message one night with this:

Oh man... The. Don.

Oh man… The. Don.

Now at the time, he was not my man, not my responsibility, he was just my kick ass friend with an awesome sense of humor and this just made my night.  TOO FUNNY!  and yes, it’s real.  Here it is again a few years later:

still there!

still there!

I have to show that because we’ve had so many people ask if it is real or not, because it is incredibly silly (as many tattoos are) and people who get to know Don before seeing it are always stunned by it!

I will admit, if he had wanted to get it after we were together I may have put up a fight and been a little uptight about it… but, since he did it before hand it all worked out and myself and my family fell in love with him, name tag and all.  People love it, think it’s crazy and have absolutely fallen in line and taken to calling him THE Don.  It’s hard to believe sometimes how many people have gone from calling him “Donnie” (pre-me) to now ALWAYS calling him “THE Don”.  I can’t help but feel that his commitment in branding himself had a significant impact on others deciding to go along with the whole name change!  I know it did for me.

When The Don and I first got engaged it became a running joke that I would be taking his first name instead of his last “Mrs. The” or “The Jen” etc. and I have to admit that it was a lot easier for me to imagine my name with a “The” rather than a completely different last name!  I even worked it into the end of my wedding vows in saying that I was so honored to be “THE Jennifer ….” it was a sweet moment and got a chuckle from our guests.  When searching for my blog name I wanted it to be something that would stand the test of time and continue to be applicable, so, it seemed right to include my “married name” thus “THEjensspin” was born.

THE end.

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“Clouds”

I spent this past weekend under the “clouds” enjoying my first ever music festival. We traveled to Gulf Shores Alabama to attend The Hangout with my sister, brother in law and two other couples and it was an amazing adventure. Three long days of sun, music and shenanigans.

The Hangout

 

The Hangout deserves it’s own post which I am working on, or rather I should say, “is on the list of things I will/should be/could be working on”? But for now, I’m just going to share the story of our journey home.

Monday, May 20th, 2013:

The whole crew got up and snapped back to reality after a whirlwind of a weekend. Everything was packed, condo cleaned out and we all got ourselves strapped in and ready for the 8+ hours that we would be driving home. I had the pleasure of being a passenger and not a driver. So I spent a lot of time playing games on my iphone, which is not something I usually do (I’m usually busy doing super important things like checking my Facebook, Instagram and Feedler accounts!) but I let myself get lost in Fruit Ninja‘s dojo, played a marathon of SpellTower and read some of Jodi Piccoult’s newest novel “The Storyteller” (which I am loving by the way). I was perfectly content allowing myself to enjoy just wasting time away. About five hours into the trip I caught wind of the tornadoes that struck in Oklahoma and I’ll admit, I let it flutter right through my thoughts and away again, still caught up in my own peaceful reality.

By the time we got to Daytona to pick up our car and head back to Tampa I had had time to look into what was happening and as we all know by now, it was devastating to see such unavoidable hurt and destruction. So many peoples entire lives forever changed in only a few moments. I began to feel a little guilty for the state of bliss I had been in all day, checked out from the world while so much was happening. But, at the end of the day, there wasn’t much I could do but send love and healing energy to everyone, so I did.

 

Don and I regrouped, gave hugs to my sister and brother in law and started the rest of our journey towards Tampa. Along the way I got an update from my CNN app saying that “Zach Sobiech, cancer patient, has died…”. I opened up the story to read more and there is where I first learned of Zach’s incredible story. Heart already heavy from all of the devastation in Oklahoma I played Zach’s Youtube video through the speaker in the car so Don and I could both hear:

 

With a knot in my throat I proceeded to the next video featuring celebrities singing along to his song “Clouds”:

 

 

So incredibly moving, to see such a beautiful message catching like wildfire and to see kind celebrities coming together to bring awareness to something so worthy. Tears were shed, and I laid my head on my husband’s shoulder and embraced the knot in my throat, feeling lucky to have him by my side. What a whirlwind of emotions I was feeling, overwhelming compassion pouring from me for so many, including Zach, as well as concern and frustration for those in Oklahoma. And then there was love, light and happiness still lingering within me from the incredible trip we were coming home from. In that moment I was reminded for the countless time in my life what an incredible force and blessing music is. Music, the universal language that has always been there to comfort me (usually on repeat) whenever I need it. So thankful to be able to not only hear it but to also feel it.

Zach’s song, “Clouds”, is number 1 on itunes, an incredible feat for even the most talented musician. People are talking about it and word is spreading, which is a wonderful thing. It’s amazing to see what “we” can do, when something beautiful, positive and inspiring just sweeps over us and makes something magical happen. Zach lit a fire that shall continue to burn long after his passing.

On that note.

Nothing to complain about from me, happy to be alive, healthy and in love. Surrounded daily by friends and family that greet me with a smile and an open heart. I will sing my song for them or you anytime.

My heart goes out to all of those in Oklahoma who are now and will continue to be coping with the aftermath of Monday’s tornadoes and to those who knew Zach, may you be forever comforted by the beautiful songs that he left behind to be shared with you and with the world. He is an inspiration.

Huge shout out to http://soulpancake.com/ for helping spread positivity, laughter and creativity throughout the world. Thank you for sharing Zach’s story with me and with the world.

“I want everyone to know: You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” -Zach Sobiech

 

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It’s been a while… Brief Project Life update

Sigh…

Well, keeping up a blog is work, plain and simple and it’s not just work, it’s creatively inspired work.  Thus, when the creative mojo is sparse or non-existent, it’s damn near impossible to get the fingers to the keyboard.  It’s been about two and a  half months since I have taken the time or have been inspired to sit down and write something here, which is ok, I don’t have a hyped up following that is chomping at the bit to read what I will type next, so I am safe for now.  There are however; a number of bloggers whose pages I have become accustomed to reading every day, those bloggers are not allowed to go on hiatus for months at a time! But I am a “baby blogger” so I am not going to feel too guilty about my absence. For those of you that do read when I write I am thankful for you and hope that my sporadic nature doesn’t take away from your enjoyment of my posts!

Project Life:

Well, it’s going.  It’s going really well at times and then slow and then swell and back again.  Which, with a project like this is to be expected.  One thing is for sure, I still love it and I have no intentions of abandoning it or not completing it.  I have visions of beautiful book shelves filled with Project Life Albums.  My kids will love them someday (my future kids that is) and I know that it will bring my husband and I joy to look back through them as we get older.  All of that being said, it is a time commitment and I would say that it is probably wise for any and all “Rookie Project Lifers” like myself to approach the first year as a complete and total experiment.  I am STILL, almost 5 months in, figuring out what does and doesn’t work for me and what exactly Project Life means to me.

Things like:

Do I want to include memorabilia within my pages? or do I want to save those things for Smashbooks? Or has the streamlined method and look of Project Life changed my mentality all together and now I just want to focus on pictures and journaling?

What is my style? will my style keep changing or will I eventually fall into a rhythm? is falling into a rhythm the same as being lazy and will I be happy with my pages if/when I do find a rhythm?

Do I really like core kits? or do I just like to make my own cards or subscribe to the kits from Studio Calico? or just print the digital kits?

Do I want to stay committed to majority handwritten journaling or do I want to start incorporating more typed/printed text?

Do I like “brushes” on my photos or no?

Will I ever learn how to use the Silhouette Cameo? and if I do, what kinds of things will I use it for for Project Life?

Inserts and embellishments or no?  Right now they seem necessary but, at this rate there will be at least two if not three albums PER YEAR… That’s a REALLY BIG BOOKSHELF we’re talkin’ about in only a few years LOL!

Things I do know:

I do seriously LOVE, having this record of our lives.  I find myself wishing I had been doing it all along and Becky Higgins posts success stories of people going back and documenting their lives on a regular basis, so, maybe that will happen some day.

I like randomness.  Matchy matchy throughout a whole album is probably never going to be my style, but I will say that I like the idea for albums that are based on a theme such as a baby album or wedding album, I can see the cohesiveness making more sense in those situations.  I am contemplating using a blend of core kits to put together a wedding album for Don and I.  So I guess I still do desire some variety lol.

I am not committed to always using the 12×12 format, I have seen a number of examples of people using different sizes such as 8×10 and 8×11 and I think I am more attracted to rectangles than squares, but we shall see how that goes.

I just recently stumbled upon annmarielovespaper and LOVE her style, this is a great example of what is generally more aesthetically pleasing to me:

Love this!

One issue that would arise for me if I switched to this kind of format would be photo selection as it is already very difficult for me to whittle my photos down for each week and I don’t think re-sizing them will be solution enough. For now I am happy and committed to sticking with the 12×12 albums for the first full year.

I am not nearly as obsessed about rounding corners as I thought I would be.  Now this could be because I have let myself get behind so my priorities have shifted towards completion rather than “perfection”.  I’m not ruling out the possibility that I may eventually crack and go back and round every single corner, but for now, my corners are random and that’s just fine by me.

More on getting behind.

At first, around the time of my “Deep Thoughts of a Rookie Project Lifer Part 1” post, I was up to date, working at the end of each week on the week that came before and while that was working, it was also a bit… frustrating.  I found myself wanting more to work on and also wishing that my Studio Calico kits were already there for me to use, so I decided to intentionally let myself get 2-3 weeks behind so that I could use the SC kits when I wanted to and also so that there would be more to work on at once.  It was good in theory for about two weeks and then…. LIFE HAPPENED!  One event, sickness, new car purchase, maternity shoot, Netflix marathon led to another and before I knew it I was 6 weeks behind RAPIDLY approaching 7.  That was NOT a good feeling.  I started to panic and flail around in the quicksand of my craft room and quickly had visions of writing my “I Failed at Project Life” post.  But, after I let myself have a breakdown I pulled myself together, organized my photos, all in one night, printed them two nights later and then WENT TO WORK for a day and a half.  I would guesstimate that I spent probably about 16-20 hours that week catching up on Project Life.  Now that’s A LOT of time BUT, that averages out to a little under three hours a week for the 6-7 weeks that I was behind which is about how much time I was spending when I was doing it week to week.  Plus, all of those hours were enjoyable for me, I love working on Project Life and working with photos on the computer, it’s stress relief in and of itself even though not having kept up with it was what was really stressing  me out.

A couple of months ago Don and I went to a baby shower for some very sweet friends of ours who were expecting their first (and only) child, baby Ty.  I decided that I was going to give them what I wanted them to have and not so much what they picked out at Buy Buy Baby, I mean, that’s what friends are for right?  So, I ordered them the Project Life Core Kit Baby for Him edition, a 50 pack of Project Life pages, a We R Memory Keepers Album and a Canon Selphy printer.  They seemed pretty excited about it and the handsome little man has since arrived (he was born last Friday) which just happened to be the day that I assembled her album for her, perfect timing!  So I am hopeful that she will keep up with it, at least for the first year and honestly if she does, how could she not fall in love with the concept and want to keep on going? Right?… We shall see.  I will be dedicating an entire post to the baby album putting together process and when I do I will link it up here.  For now, here is a sneak peek at what that whole process entails:

Project Life Baby Album

I will just say that before you offer your services in this particular area, make sure you truly do love the person you are doing it for because it is quite a bit of work and also that you have a VERY large space to work in!

That’s all for now on the Project Life front, I will continue to work on part 2 of my “Deep Thoughts of a Rookie Project Lifer” post and hope to post it in May sometime.

 

 

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Dream Killers on Internet Forums… Rude.

 

Dream Killers SUCK!

DREAM KILLERS ON INTERNET FORUMS:

I have finally decided to put myself out there and dip my foot in the waters of the photography pool.  That being decided, my already chronic googling problem has been in overdrive the last week or so and this post is just a tid bit of BS that I stumbled upon in one of my MANY random searches.  This poor person made the mistake of asking the same question I googled on Yahoo Answers:

Question:

What equipment do I need to start a photography business?

I enjoy photography and have a digital Nikon D40 with a few accessories that I love to use. I wanted to take photography to a business level since recently I’ve had a lot referrals from family and friends to do their pictures. Thing is I don’t really know what I need. I figure that I’d start small and get the basics and start small. So what should I get for portrait style photos? What are the best basic necessities that I would need that are portable an can take with me?

Also I’m not sure what to charge. I’m just starting out and haven’t charged anyone for taking photographs since it’s mostly close friends and family but I want to be compensated for my time when I do it for others. Should I charge for photos? Give them a disk with the digital pictures? Anything helps.

In response to a comment, I have taken photos at weddings and other functions where there was a hired photographer and my photos were better than the photographers. Everyone has said so and agrees which is why they ask me to take the photos and why I want to do it professionally at least part-time for now. I like candid photography but people are interested in portrait photography like in a studio. I usually do them with scenic backgrounds but I’ve been asked to go to people homes to do family portraits and I don’t know what I would need besides a background and stand. Such as what kind of lighting, props etc.

Best Answer – Chosen by Voters”

“I have answered this question 1000 times before, and I am going to give the short answer.

If you don’t know what equipment you need for a photography business, then you can not start a photography business.

Somebody who is about to start a business will know exactly the equipment needed (and will likely already own it and be very experienced with it) and will not need to ask a question like this. You are years away yet.

Praise from family and friends on your images do not count.

Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true.

+++

“I have taken photos at weddings and other functions where there was a hired photographer and my photos were better than the photographers.”

Bullshit indicator = 100% probability..

“Everyone has said so and agrees”

Praise from family and friends on your images do not count.

You can not do anything “professionally” until you first have a clue what you are doing… Which you don’t.. not by years. You can not “get the basics” and do things “professionally” at the same time.”

Yup, dream killers.  I would HATE to see the “long answer” to this question, since he has answered it 1000 times you would think he would just have the document ready and waiting to paste onto every person that “needs to get a clue”‘s questions on the internet…Rude.  I just don’t understand the value of cutting people down in this manner.  Google, the internet in general, is, in my opinion, meant for questions just like this one and yet THE FIRST listing that came up when I typed it in is something like this that offers not only no REAL answer to the question, but ALSO provides a healthy serving of self doubt with a side of sh!t talking… RUDE.  Who has time for this?  Who trolls these forums just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting surfer of the net?  People.   Obviously people are and that is the saddest part about it.  I can only hope that I don’t have any “people” like this in my life that are annonymously trolling the internet to talk down to others.  One of the MOST disturbing things about this “answer” is that it is voted “the best answer” by MORE people that are VOTING and supporting these inappropriate forum shenanigans.  Ugh.

Just to be clear, when I googled “What equipment do I need to start a photography business?”  I wasn’t looking for opinions about my life, skills etc. I was honestly looking for a list.  I am a lister, I function in lists and the great thing about lists is you can just cross off the things that don’t apply to you should you “borrow” someone else’s list and if you’re lucky, someone else’s list might be EXACTLY what you were looking for.  So, when I assemble my list for gathering equipment for my own purposes in a photography business, I will be sure to post it on here, tagged appropriately and accessible to any other poor soul that may dare to have the audacity to ask such a question on the internet.  Hopefully that list will someday take over the dream killers number one status on google 🙂

(to be fair, there were, on this same thread, other kind souls who did provide lists, or at least words of encouragement, but they did not receive the votes for “best answer”)

-end rant

 

 

 

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Today’s Homework, Thank you Ali Edwards!

Ok, (SO) <Ha! I really can’t stop saying (SO)… Scrolling through Google Reader today and found this great video tutorial that if all goes well should be the first step in the direction of me finally getting my photos sized down and ready for the 3×4 pockets!  This is a great video and I will be trying this out when I get home this evening 🙂

From the lovely Ali Edwards:

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In the Spirit of Lists

Another Pinterest find which fit my day and my creative mojo perfectly:

http://www.baubauhaus.com/

 

Also, while I am on the list tangent, 30 days of lists  is something that I have wanted to try and was quite popular when I first started smashbooking, butI always seemed to miss out on the start date and then it just seemed like more of a hassle to try and sign-up and catch up.  It was an awesome way to use smashbooks and a lot of the smashers I followed in the beginning were using theirs for their #30daysoflists.  But, this time around I have notice and I am kind of a believer that you can never have too many lists thus I am toying with the idea of signing up for this as well… We shall see.

-thejensspin

 

 

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Because I too like Projects!

Doing my morning scroll through my google reader and I have found two new blogs to follow, www.hernewleaf.com, from my own wandering on Pinterest and the other via Ali Edwards’ perusing of Pinterest, where I found www.moorea-seal.com. I absolutely LOVE Pinterest, but it is one of those places that I have to tell myself to NOT GO TO quite often because if I do then before I know it 3 hours of my life are gone and so are the three hours that I could have had to work on all of the incredible Pinterest projects I had posted on my last binge… It’s a vicious cycle but also an incredibly inspiring place to visit.

  • I am working on not saying “So” SO MUCH in my writing, so I am going to put it in parentheses for a little while, every time that I would have used it… Starting… now:

(SO) On my EXTREMELY long monthly Project Life post last week I mentioned that I really want to find a way to get myself back into Smashbooking and this morning I was inspired by a project that Ali Edwards is doing, it’s called 52 Lists and she found it on Pinterest via the lovely Moorea Seal’s blog.

I’m a sucker for lists…

Simple enough, A new prompt each week for a new list.

Isn’t it amazing how much easier it is to get a project going when you have the reassurance of someone else giving you the prompts?  LIke #fmsphotoaday,

there is nothing too incredibly unique or unusual about the prompts that are on here monthly lists, but the fact that someone else came up with the subject matter just gives me the freedom to focus on the fulfilling the request and responding openly and that is what I find most enjoyable about projects like this.  I would feel completely overwhelmed and unsure of where to start without the prompts as a starting point, but this is something that I think I can get into.  It would/could be an insert into my Project Life, but I think it will be more fun and interesting to use a Smashbook to document it.  (SO) Along with my Project Life I will now be doing 52 Lists.  I plan on trying to incorporate some of the Studio Calico kits that I have been hoarding since I joined the monthly program as well as magazine clippings that I have been habitually collecting, categorizing and hoarding since birth it seems like!

  • I once took an art class (and by that I mean that I took EVERY one available to me whilst at community college, to the point that my parents got a real kick out of asking me how “basket weaving classes” were going) and we had a couple of mixed media projects that we were assigned.  Most of the other students brought in a couple of current magazines or pulled from the stash of magazines at the studio… but not me.  I came in with my six categorized gallon size zip-lock bags completely full of clippings.  The Professor came by and took notice of my collection and asked where I had gotten “all of that”, I replied that I had been saving “this stuff” for as long as I could remember… “Just in case”… Spoken like a true hoarder LOL  But, there have been many times when my collection has come in handy so I’m happy that I have kept up with it.  I can never send a printed material of any sort off to be recycled until I have determined that there is nothing else in it that can be useful to me in some way, UPCYCLE/RECYCLE for the win!

This will also give me a chance to start using up some of the washi tape that I have been collecting and hoarding since I purchased my first roll from the K&Company Smashbook line.  Moorea is encouraging those that decide to take part in her project to link their blog posts and/or pictures back to her site corresponding with the prompts so that we can all see and share our lists with one another.  (SO) I will be doing that as well, look for that post on Mondays most likely as I am a procrastinator to the core and she posts her new prompts on Tuesdays so I will most likely be completing the previous weeks lists just before the new one comes out (of course that’s just after I catch up on the last 5 weeks worth of lists!)

-thejensspin

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