Category Archives: Personal

I’m really thrilled to introduce, yet another, website design and a logo makeover. It seems I’ve had quite an identity crisis since a couple of years ago. I went from using the same logo for years to hiring a designer to make a new one. I liked it, but over time, I realized it just wasn’t “me.” Since then, I’ve floated around from design to design, logo to logo and I think I’ve finally hit my stride. It’s a little bit of of Tiffany meets Vera meets Anthropologie. I hope you enjoy the new site! I’m in total love with my background. It was created by Kristen at Hello Monday Design.

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kids crafting, construction paper, noodles, castlesAs a business owner and mother to two young children, it’s hard to find time during what the world deems “normal business hours” to devote to working without a Nanny. Every day, we do something called quiet time. My 9 month old naps just fine, so she is easy to manage, but my 3 year old doesn’t want to be without me. So, we have quiet time. I’m sure to most mom’s, quiet time is something they could only dream of getting, but it takes a lot of practice and patience to finally get your toddler to entertain themselves during quiet time.

I took to pinterest and found quiet time boxes for each day of the week and sort of came up with my own box ideas. Each day for quiet time, Carly gets a box. From the time she wakes up until quiet time, I frequently mention the box and hype it up to her so she gets excited about it and excited about quiet time. I’ll put some suggestions below on what to fill the boxes with, but so far, it’s going well. I even grab a different stuffed animal every day and tell her she can share quiet time with the stuffed animal so she “gets to know” her stuffed animal during quiet time and they can spend time doing those activities together. It buys me about 2 hours in the afternoon to do things that I need to get done, whether work related, working out then showering, cleaning, etc. What kind of things do you do with your toddlers to keep them entertained so you can get some work in? Here’s a picture of Carly dancing with one of the castles. And yes, I know my house is messy… and yes, I know my iPhone pictures aren’t the best. :)IMG_9305

  • printable coloring sheet (just google it with your toddler and find one your toddler likes)
  • crayons
  • book to look at/read (depending on their age and reading level)
  • sticker book
  • abc flash cards
  • 123 flash cards
  • flash cards of any kind (like objects or animals)
  • stuffed animal
  • construction paper and tape
  • construction paper and a whole punch of something fun (you can get these at the craft store in the scrapbooking section. We like to use a punch that punches out elephants!)
  • a notepad and a fancy pen to practice writing
  • either a new toy or toy they “forgot” about that hasn’t been played with in awhile
  • dress up (you can do this with boys too! do super hero dress up!)
  • grocery shopping – if you have a kids cart (which most kids want at some point), fill it with groceries they can’t easily open or fake groceries and let them play in their room.
  • organizing baskets with pom poms where they separate out the colors into different baskets
  • build a fort that they can play in during quiet time to do these activities
  • coloring book
  • silly buddy (if they’re old enough to not get it stuck in your carpet)
  • magnets to play with on a cookie sheet
  • trace and lace panels (check out Melissa and Doug)
  • laundry (let them learn or try to fold laundry… it likely won’t go well, but it keeps them occupied!)
  • yoga mat as a play mat (for some reason, my toddler is obsessed with my yoga mat, so I got her a cheap one of her own from Ross)
  • blocks or legos
  • etch a sketch
  • light bright
  • chalkboard
  • play kitchen (even if you don’t have a kids kitchen, get out some spatulas, ladles, spoons, pots, pans, large bowls, etc and let them play with those)
  • have an extra Amazon box waiting to go into the recycling bin or trash can? Let your kids color it during quiet time. Is it a large box? Cut a panel or two off so they can sit inside and color the walls of it. 

Dawn. It’s something I always hated growing up. I’ve always been the kind of person that loves to sleep in, but now that I’m older, I’ve come to really love waking up early, before everyone else is awake, to take in the morning air, sip some hot coffee, watch the sun begin to illuminate my little world, and hear and watch the birds. It’s as if a new day was born… because it was. It’s a new start. A fresh start. A new time with endless possibilities.

jen shannon, jen shannon photography, entrepreneurs, working for yourself, running a business, being a mom and running a business, mamapreneurs, business owner momsI’ve always thought of my blog as a personally professional blog. You know, somewhere where I could talk pretty candidly about what was going on in my life personally and professionally. I can type the way I talk. I can usually draw the line.

But, my friends, today, rather tonight (since it’s 11:30PM… my usual work time) is the dawn of a new day. I’m just going to come out and say it. It’s hard being a working mom. Not only is it hard being a working mom, it’s hard being a business owner and the mother of two young children. I used to think I “had it down” and figured out how to balance, but just when I thought I had it all together, baby #2 came along.

Now more than ever, I’m having a very difficult time balancing life and work. All of a sudden, I’m torn between responding to emails, editing photographs, trying to figure out a business plan with goals for this year and how to meet them with wiping snotty noses, finding where “that” smell came from and entertaining the girls. I don’t know how people do it. I imagine they do it a lot like me. They stay up super late and get up super early and feel miserable in between, but like most entrepreneurs on Shark Tank say, “There’s got to be a better way!”

We’ve tried going the Nanny route. The thought of leaving my kids with someone other than my parents is unnerving, but I decided to take a leap of faith and I feel like it hasn’t worked out for a reason. The first girl was great, but after only one time of her coming, she quit nannying altogether to go back to school. We had someone else lined up but she decided against the time commitment. I quickly realized that it wasn’t a nanny I wanted, it was uninterrupted time to work that I wanted. Could I work straight for 8 hours a day? No. Could I work regular office hours? Definitely not, but if my desire is to have uninterrupted time to work, then I had to plan my day differently.

So I’m starting a revolution in myself and my business. I’m throwing away the business standard that all creative professionals try to live up to and I’m just making it work. Can I set regular business hours? No… but I can answer emails, edit photographs, and blog at midnight, uninterrupted. I can raise my girls, which is ultimately what I want, be involved in their daily lives, and still continue to create. Have a traditional photo studio? No thanks. I love my home studio. It’s comfortable, I can control every aspect of it and I don’t have the overhead expense of a commercial space. I also don’t have a commute! Amen to that! Oh! And I don’t have to share my Keurig… except on shoot days, but that’s a given.

So, my blog readers, I’m going to start blogging everything… No more two separate blogs, no more “only photography related stuff” mentality, just honest, real life struggles. It’s not always candy and rainbows. Wait. Yes it is. No it’s not. Yes it is. Because when you work for yourself, you can eat candy unjudged by everyone in an office setting AND if you eat Skittles, well then there’s your rainbow. BOOM! Peace out. Word to your Mom.

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Easter. We spent it at my parent’s house and had some time to reflect and enjoy each other’s company and what Easter is all about. Jesus’ resurrection.

While we were there, Ellie was crying pretty bad and started mumbling, “Ma ma ma ma.” My mom asked if she could stop eating to take care of Ellie and I said, “No that’s ok. You keep eating. Sometimes, you just need your Mama.” Then I thought to myself, “Why am I telling her this? She knows this already. She’s MY Mama.” Later I had a chance to really reflect on it. Does she really know that? I mean, surely she knows that sometimes she really needs her Mama, but her Mama passed away 10 years ago. Surely she still needs her Mama but no one is here that she can call Mama. Then it struck me pretty hard. I never want to know the feeling of needing my Mama and her not being her.

I can’t relate to anyone who has lost their mother. All I can do is express my deepest sympathies but secretly, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “I never want to know what living without my Mama is like.” Death is a part of life. That’s inevitable. Someday, I will need my Mama and she won’t be here. My first inclination is to always try to find a way to make sure that that never happens, but in reality, it’s going to happen and it’s going to be a pain I never want to know and it will cut deeper than I could ever know. Morbid, I know.

I’ve asked my Mama several times to let me photograph her, but she still says no. When she’s ready, she will ask, but in the mean time, the most recent pictures I can think that I have of her are from over a year ago when my dad, Carly, and her were picking oranges from their orange tree at my childhood home. They’ve since sold the home and moved much closer to us. I want pictures of my parents. I know, as women, we don’t want to be photographed. All of our insecurities rush in as soon as we sit in front of a camera and we see things in ourselves that we don’t like. Even if you can’t get past that, can you at least get past that there are people in this world that love you and don’t see those things? We just see you? We see our life together, our joys and sorrows, our smiles and tears, and life in between?

Some days, I really need my Mama, but I don’t tell her. And I should. My children always let me know when they need me and I know someday, that will stop too. The small things are precious and we have to savor them while they last because nothing lasts forever. Why shouldn’t I give her that same blessing? It was my Mama who I turned to in my darkest time and that’s the last time I can remember her truly knowing that I needed her. I love my Mama. She’s needed more than she knows. XOXO

Carly and Mom

Carly 1 MWP copy

I’ll admit that I had no idea what to name this post. “Mother’s Day” seemed too cliche and far off, “Being a Mom” also felt too straight forward. I felt like it didn’t invoke any emotional response in me and if it didn’t in me, how would it in my readers? I love Proverbs 31, as I am sure many women do, and in doing some research for this article, I came across an article a woman wrote about being at a conference and looking for art prints to help support ministry and came across prints with various sayings on them, one of which was “Real Love Bleeds.” You can read the article here, but those three simple words suddenly made the idea of love make so much more sense.

You see, lately, I’ve been feeling myself get really short and irritable with my toddler, Carly. Oh my sweet, sweet Carly. I love her deeper than even I could know, but she’s entered that terrible 3 phase where every word that comes out of my mouth invokes a response that sends her over the edge. “No, we can’t wait another episode of Sesame Street.” “We just ate lunch.” “It’s quiet time…” “Because you have to take a quiet time in the afternoon…” “No you can’t have quiet time on the couch…” All of these things are world ending to a 3 year old. It’s really began to wear on me and I’ve found myself getting short and sort of apathetic towards her.

On Saturday night, Colby went to put Ellie (our almost 9 month old) to bed and Carly and I went out back to enjoy the weather while the sun was setting. We decided to grab some bread and go down to the lake to feed the pekin ducks (they look like the Aflac duck and we named them Minnie and Daisy) and while we were throwing food to them, I happened to get a glimpse of something just at the water’s edge. January is when the ducks (in our case, mostly mallards) mate around here and come mid March, all the females disappear and only the males are out swimming and quacking. This “something” was a male mallard, but he was sitting awfully still right up against the shore… not moving… I walked over and my heart sank. He was dead. It must have just happened because he wasn’t there when I was outside enjoying the morning before the girls woke up. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had a Mommy duck waiting for him to return with some food while she sat on her eggs. My heart was broken for this little mallard and the potential family he has trying to keep warm somewhere.

At that moment, Carly spotted me and asked what I was doing. I suddenly found myself in the situation of having to try to explain to my 3 year old what death is. How do you possibly explain the concept of death to a 3 year old? I did the best I could, but it made me realize how apathetic I had become over the last couple of weeks to her and in that moment, I sat down in the grass with her, took her hands, and told her how much I loved her. Of course, she loves me too, but she said, “Let’s go over there to those ducks” like it was nothing.

Carly 3 MWP copyYou see, real love bleeds. It is the kind of love that people who believe “real love doesn’t hurt” can’t ever understand. Real love DOES hurt. Real love hurts the worst because that love is so deep within our souls. Deep love is great love and great love is just like what Jesus brought to us when he chose to die so that we could have eternity with Him. Bleeding love is the ultimate sacrifice; the kind of love that means you’re willing to sacrifice everything for that person. It’s the kind of love I have as a follower of Christ, it’s the kind of love I have as a wife to my husband, and it’s the kind of love I have as a mother to my children. It’s easy to get caught up in the frustrations of day in and day out with a toddler in THAT phase and forget that these little people are people too and in need of knowing that bleeding love we have for them.

I hope, on some level, you’re able to relate to this post as I usher in the Mother’s Day season. I created this video to inspire you to be photographed with the people you love. You never know when you won’t have that chance again. Yes, that’s cliche, but it’s only cliche because it’s true. Even if I’m not the one taking your picture, please take pictures. Please be in pictures. Your loved ones will someday come to think of those pictures as priceless. More on our Mother’s Day Sale can be seen by clicking here, but for now, I leave you with this video. I entitled in “Extraordinary” because our lives, even though they may feel ordinary, are extraordinary when we are willing to see it as such.