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National Camera Day!

Hey, did you know it’s National Camera day? I didn’t even know it was a thing until today.

How many other holidays have I missed? I could have been celebrating or at least using it as an excuse not to get any work done…

Anyway, I digress. In honor of today, my now third favorite holiday (behind Halloween and Donut day, obvs) I wanted to give you a look at my camera equipment.

I am NO professional, and 90% of my best shots don’t make the Gram, and are framed in my house (all of the kids, go figure). I just absolutely love photography and have taken a few courses, enough to know the basics, and one day will have the time to learn more.

Other than my iPhone, here is what I use (clickable links to shop if you’re feeling froggy!):

Canon EOS Rebel T7 with kit lenses and Yongnuo 35mm on the body.

Canon EOS Rebel T7. This is my main self-shoot camera, mainly because of the Wifi function and ability to use my phone as a remote. The kit lenses are good, but I live in the 35mm lens, mine is base grade and takes beautiful pictures.

Nikon D3200 with kit lens and 50mm lens on the body.

Nikon D3200. My og DSLR. Pretty basic as far as functions, and a great starter DSLR camera. I only really use this now because of the 50mm lens, for when I want to shoot a stellar portrait or take a photo with a low aperture (shallow depth of field aka blurry background).

Giant camera bag!

My camera bag. Huge pockets, I can fit both cameras and a few lenses, I love this for when I take the kids out in the woods. I can basically take the cameras, plus snacks, phone, keys and other assorted mom stuff all in one bag. This is from Amazon.

Regetek Tripod, bought from Amazon.

Tripod. Perfect for self shooting, not a MUST, because for a long time I propped the camera up on whatever was handy it made due just fine. But, recommended especially if you have mega hand shake, like I do.

Neweer ring light and backdrop stand, sheet courtesy of my bed.

Finally, my make shift at home shooting area. Complete with ring light, backdrop frame and giant white sheet because paper would last .01 seconds in my house.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the total cost, I’ve accumulated this all over the course of several years, some new and some second hand. Get out and shoot some pictures today! You don’t really have a choice, it’s basically a law, because it’s a holiday.

Summer Learning

My youngest son, Liam, had a developmental delay. He has special tools and programs at school to help him, but I was in a state of panic as to how I was going to keep him engaged and learning through the summer.

In a wonderful stroke of luck, I got an opportunity to try the Learn With Homer app, and it’s been absolutely life changing!

It’s like no other learning program/app we’ve used before, and here are a few point that make it stand apart:

• They have a series of questions to answer when you sign up, this combines your child’s interests, age, and level to tailor a perfect learning path.

• Provides opportunities to practice the skills they have learned, and keeps them motivated to continue to learn.

• Grows with them as the learn, build skills, and succeed.

We set aside time each morning for Liam to review skills he has learned and to try new games and puzzles to build on those skills and to learn more.

In the beginning it was a routine, now it’s a highlight of the day! He will stop other activities to ask to play Homer, and how it’s helped him stay engaged and improved his speech is immeasurable.

Click here to learn more about how it can help your child, and to sign up for a 30 day free trial

It’s ok if you don’t.

When the body acceptance and self love movement really started to gain traction and became more talked about on social media, I fell deeply in love with the messages.

I wanted so badly to look at my body and love it, to feel what the people spreading the messages felt, to know absolute peace within myself.

When that didn’t happen for me, despite wanting it so badly to the point of forcing it, I felt like a failure.

Once again, I couldn’t live up to this new expectation.

I had failed at getting and staying thin, and now I was failing at loving my body at it’s current state.

I had gone from being envious of those in smaller bodies, to being envious of those that could just happily exist in theirs.

Boy, was I going about it wrong… so, SO wrong.

First, I let comparison be the motivator.

Second, I thought the way to freedom and self love was by learning to love my body unconditionally, every single day, all it’s scars and flaws, it’s rolls.

I’ve learned now, that no one is at the peak of this journey. No one lives life completely free of self hate and bad body image days.

I’ve also learned that I’m not going to love my body every single day. I’m not always going to run my fingers over my stretch marks and smile knowing they’re there because of my babies, or because I lived for the moment and not the pant size. That’s just not reality.

I now appreciate my body, for its life, it’s breath, it’s heart full of love… every single day.

I’ve let go of the idea that if I don’t love the way my body is right now, I’ve failed, because appreciating it always is better than faking love when I just don’t feel it.

Tired

I remember the tired that comes after childbirth, the deep fatigue and exhaustion. It’s an emotional and physical tired that no amount of sleep can cure.

There is a lot of talk about that tired. Maybe it’s the feeds I follow or how I take in social media. I love the open discussions about hard that stage is. Because it’s brutal.

I want to talk more about the tired that comes when your kids are older. It’s a completely different animal.

“I have a teenager” tired is constantly bracing for the next argument, always worrying that you haven’t prepared them for life enough, walking the thin line between protective and overprotective.

Constantly wondering if they are making smart choices when you aren’t around.

Staying up late to greet them when they come home from nights out.

It’s an emotional and physical tired that no amount of sleep can cure.

Then comes “my kid isn’t under my wing, are they ok?” Tired.

Basically parenting is exhaustion woven into moments of pure joy, love and beauty.

Damn, I’ve been tired for 15 years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Little Me

Gonna hit you with a sentimental Saturday post.

I saw a baby picture of myself for the first time at 37 years old. This was that picture.

The story is long and somewhat sad, but after years of transient life, my bio mom put me in the foster system, and I was eventually adopted at almost 5 years old.

I had tried for years to contact my birth mother so I could just see pictures of myself. I wanted so badly to connect myself to a baby Jen, but it felt like I was born a 4 year old.

Years of dead ends, road blocks, and cold shoulders stopped me from pushing on, finding where I fit.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I wanted so badly to have something to look at, too get a glimpse of what she may look like.

It was difficult living in one life, never truly feeling like you belonged, but not a part of your “true” life, because you were adopted out. It been very tough for me to form solid bonds as a result, I have just never felt connected.

It’s been a long road, trying to overcome those feelings of not belonging anywhere.

I don’t hold bad feeling, anger or resentment. I would love answers and insight, but I know I’ll never get those, so I’ve moved on.

But when I got these pictures from a biological family member in 2018, I sobbed for what felt like hours. That’s me, little me. I did exist as a baby. And damn, I was cute!

Dear Body,

I will not be sad about the way that you look, the scars that you bear or the marks you’ve grown. ⁣

I will not be sad that you don’t look like her, or them or that. ⁣

I will not put pressure on you to perform in in a way that feels forced, foreign or painful. ⁣

I will not expect the impossible, the unattainable the out of reach- because it doesn’t exist. ⁣

I will be sad for how I’ve mistreated you, for the actions and inactions that have weakend your health or made you feel less than. ⁣

I will do better, and make the wrongs into rights by listening to your pleas, by giving back, by nurturing you.⁣

I will compare you not to the bodies of others, not to the impossible standards, to the photoshopped and face tuned perfection that isn’t real. ⁣

I will heal you with love, fuel, care and most of all understanding and grace and time. ⁣

Lots of time. Because that’s all we have, you and I. Time together. Time to be complete and completely in love. ⁣

Words from a post I made on Instagram in January 2020, I still feel this way.

How I felt.

Up until a few years ago, I felt like people treated me like a child, or that I was looked at as less mature because of my larger body.

As if the state of my body was a measure for my ability to “adult”, the larger it was, the less capable I was.

It felt as though I wasn’t completely in control of my life, because I was heavier, like I couldn’t be taken seriously because of how I looked.

I often stopped caring about myself completely because it felt like I just didn’t have the ability or maturity.

It was bullshit. I projected how I felt about myself, often assuming others felt the same way.

I closed so many doors, gave up so many opportunities because I let myself believe I didn’t deserve it. After all, I couldn’t even maintain my weight, how could I excel in anything?

I spun a tale of woe, like no one believed in me, truth being, I never truly believed in myself.

I still sometimes feel like I don’t have my shit together, and it’s flashing over my head like a neon sign. And you know what, I probably don’t have it all figured out, but I know now it’s not because of my body.

My size isn’t measure of my maturity or ability (this is me, reiterating that to myself!).

Happy International Women’s Day.

I’m an adoptee.

I’m a domestic abuse survivor.

I’m a person who has had to shift gears and start over numerous times.

I’m a soft heart surrounded by a tough exterior.

I’m a mother who gets it wrong 60% of the time, but will never give less than 120% all of the time.

I am strong, valuable, deserve my words to be heard and read.

I’m a mess, but a beautiful one.

I am a Woman.

I am raising a Woman. And she will know she’s got the world in her hand.

Happy International Woman’s Day, you amazing humans.

How do we mourn what we once were and move on?

I got this shot accidentally the other day.

I noticed how my body has changed, over the last year. Over the last 5 years, 10 years, since before I was a mother.

I have been asked this question, and I asked it last night in the clubhouse chat about Body Confidence (shakily, I was nervous!)

How does someone move from mourning a body they had, to accepting and eventually appreciating the body they have this moment?

While there is no single concrete, the general consensus is learning and continually working to appreciate yourself and your body for all it does for you now. That is an absolute truth.

My answer is:

I’ve seen my body change over three births spread 10.5 years apart, 3 drastic weight loss attempts that ended in regain, health conditions. My weight looks like a skyline view of the mountains, peaks and valleys.

Never in those times of change was there an ability for me to move from missing the body I had to appreciating it, no matter how hard I tried to switch my internal thinking.

Until I let myself actually mourn. I cried, I yelled, I looked at old pictures. I rode the wave of sadness and let it wash over me.

Then I stared deeply at those pictures. Saw how hard I faked my smiles, how I hid my “thinner” body at pool parties, how hungry I was when I refused food to get my “pre baby” body back, how I would work out for hours, missing moments with my kids.

Once I let myself feel the feelings, I was able move beyond mourning, into accepting. I had processed the sadness, realizing it was always there, and it had nothing to do with the scale.

The journey from accepting to appreciating is one I am still on. Some days I accept, and some days I truly appreciate.

For some, the answer is knowing you will mourn, work to focus on what your body does and challenging your inner critic, that helps move to acceptance.

For others we need to plant deeply in the mourning, let it consume us, and then let it fade. Then take the next next step in our healing.

This journey is so personal, one or both or a completely different scenario might be the path you take. But no matter how what direction you choose, they all start with a first step.