This Little Blog, an Interview with Jenna J.
Tell us more about yourself, your family, and your site:
My husband and I met working at University. He was photographing an event, and I noticed he was taking a lot of pictures of me. The first time we talked, I had this calm thought of “Hmmm, this is the person I’m going to marry.” There wasn’t any stress; we both just knew. We got engaged pretty soon after we started dating. As a couple, we like to keep things simple and don’t need a lot to feel content. We’re perfectly happy giving each other homemade coupons for dates and IOU foot rubs for Christmas. We don’t like to waste or consume a lot (I’m talking material goods because we love to consume food). We have a passion for learning about the world and other cultures, and we fiercely love our friends and family. Our house is always filled with people who are living or staying here, and we have way too many stray animals. That’s just the way we roll.
In 2011, we became a trans-racial family when we adopted our son. What can I say? Our son is everything to us. Little T, as he’s called on my blog, can’t get through an hour without smiling or laughing. He fills our house with love and adventures every day. A lot of what I write is for Little T. I hope he can look back at my blog someday and see how much we love and care about him.
This Little Blog began in 2011 as my creative outlet. Two years before we had Little T, I was taking 22 units at school, working full time as a teacher, and planning our wedding. It was tough when I was let go from my teaching job because of budget cuts. Being a stay-at-home mom is tough! One of my biggest challenges was the lack of social interaction and creative work. I started my blog so I’d have something artistic to work on while documenting motherhood with Little T. I started writing about vegan food, Little T’s adventures, and life in general. I started my blog for myself with the mindset that nobody would probably read it, and if they did, cool. I never expected to find such a loyal readership so early. It’s been a great surprise and another thing I am so incredibly grateful for. I also didn’t expect to have opportunities open up when I began blogging. It led to photographing a vegan cookbook cover, which led to my starting my own photography business. In a nutshell, blogging has been a great experience for me.
A lot of our other mom bloggers love to take pictures. As an experienced photographer, do you have a couple of tips you can share with us to take better pictures?
My background is in documentary style photography, so I enjoy taking pictures that aren’t posed. For this style of photography, I’d suggest thinking about how your children react in situations and have your camera ready. Are they going to be seeing something exciting? Is Dad about to lift them up in the air? Our son is obsessed with drummers, so we knew he’d have a fun reaction to them. When we saw drummers coming towards us in a parade, I immediately turned my back from the drummers and caught a picture of our son’s reaction to seeing them. The photo was priceless.
Another suggestion for parents with small children, is to always work around children to get good photos because sometimes they aren’t in the mood to play along. It happens all the time. They’re kids, after all! Instead of forcing the issues–which will result in forced smiles or cries–see what they’d like to do and photograph it. I photographed a cute toddler who was getting over a cold and having a hard day. She did not want to be held for a posed shot, so we had her run around and explore instead. Every once in a while the parents would kneel down next to her and put their arms around her. We snapped amazing pictures of the three of them and she was so much happier as a result. Another example is in the photo I’m using for this interview. We were working on lighting and had Grandpa watching my son so we could focus for a minute. My son really wanted to come over to me, and instead of keeping him away we told Grandpa to go ahead and let him run over. It resulted in one of my favorite pictures. You never know, sometimes children’s instincts are better than our own when it comes to photography.
My last tip (I promise) is to get out there on the blogosphere and start looking at photos. There are so many resources for “momtogs” if you just take a few minutes to learn every day.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your family? (Places you like to go, things you like to do at home for family bonding, etc.)
We’re big foodies over here, so we love cooking and occasionally going to a restaurant. We also enjoy celebrating the seasons and going to fairs and festivals. We go apple picking in the fall, look at Christmas lights in winter, visit the arboretum in the Spring, and pick strawberries and visit lavender festivals in the summer. Most of the activities we choose are free or inexpensive. We also like to dance and sing our hearts out, which is ironic because we are terrible singers and dancers. Right now our son thinks we’re super cool, but someday he’s going to look at us and realize that we are soooooo uncool!
Are there any good vegan food recipes you can share with our readers?
Theo’s favorite recipe is very simple. I dice up some apples, shake them in a bag with some cinnamon and cranberries, sprinkle a little water over them and microwave the mixture in a covered bowl for two minutes. Easy, and delicious!
What are some ways in which your family tries to save money?
We have a budget that we follow with an on-line banking system that lets us know how we’re doing. Since I haven’t been working, we’ve cut back on a lot of extras. No more Netflix, nail salons, or gym memberships. We use baking soda and vinegar for home cleaning, make our own food, and don’t buy things unless we really need them.
What are your top 5-10 tips for moms?
1. We’ve heard it before, but this bears repeating: we have to take care of ourselves! Think of it like the air mask on an airplane. We can’t help anyone in an emergency if we don’t put the air mask on ourselves first. Whether it’s taking a walk each day, having a few minutes in another room, starting a blog, or having dinner with girlfriends, we’ve got to make time for ourselves to recharge.
2. Sometimes I catch myself stressed because things aren’t going exactly the way I planned. I’ve learned that when you have kids, you have to let that go and simply enjoy things as they unfold because kids are especially talented at dismantling plans. Am I right?
3. Don’t judge. Us mommas should stick together. Most parents are doing the best they can. As a side note, have you noticed how many choices parents make a day? It’s insane! We all do our best to make decisions as they come up. Some decisions turn out better than others.
4. Support your partner and find ways to compromise. My husband and I are great at making long term decisions, but we were terrible at making decisions together when they’d come up in an instant. We decided to switch decision days for the first few months until we got the hang of each other’s parenting styles. If we couldn’t make a decision, it would go to whomever’s day it was. It sounds silly written down, but it made things so much easier for us.
5. Enjoy parenthood as much as you can. *sigh* It’s true when they say it goes fast.