the thaw

January 19, 2010 |  Category:   family life

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It’s been hard to stay upbeat when there is so much suffering out there. I can stop watching the news or turn away from the images, but that doesn’t seem right either. I want to know what’s going on, I don’t want to push it aside. I’ve been thinking about the recent suicide of the NYU computer science professor as well. If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can read it here if you wish, but the jump from his 16th story balcony allegedly came after an argument with his wife over the care of their premature twins. Not surprisingly, there has been some discussion on whether or not fathers can experience male post-partum depression, which really is a topic that has not been talked about. Also of interest is this related article in the Daily Kos about the ugly and hurtful nature of anonymous commenting. This quote – “the Internet is not a consequence-free playland” – articulated what I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I’ll save that for another post.

Parenting might be the hardest thing you will do. I know it is for me. There are really good days, there are bad days. And some days are just plain HARD. Yesterday was a really bad day even though we had all the intentions of a good day, especially with the weather thawing to a balmy 46 degrees. It was brilliant outside. We had plans. It wasn’t to be though, from every angle, and I’m still feeling the sting today. But you have to try and move on. The kids quickly do. But it’s disheartening to see a day go sour when you had plans to do something fun because ironically, you realize that you need more joy in your life and a rare day presented itself when every member of the family was free from commitments. It feels defeating.

As bloggers we curate content that is only a small slice of our life. What we choose to share is of our own personal choice and comfort level. I’ve been blogging since 2004 (via popgadget and babygadget). Before that I ran an Asian American webzine with a restaurant and food guide, so in actuality, I’ve been blogging much earlier than that (though we didn’t call it that back then, and good lordy, I had to handcode every single page of that massive site). After 4 years of blogging about baby products and gadgets, I knew that I wanted to return to a format that was much more personal. After a while, writing about pretty things, shopping and products felt empty and tedious, and while I do immensely enjoy reading all the wonderful design blogs out there (I really do!), I find the blogs that I gravitate towards the most these days are ones that are more personal, for all the reasons that some of you commented on in the last few posts (thank you, by the way).

One of my favorite bloggers, Metrodad, only posts once a month, sometimes with even longer lapses, but he has a dedicated reader base, judging by the comments alone, who await his posts. Why do they stick around? Because he’s funny and honest, and you sort of feel like you know the person (or what they choose to reveal) and you start caring about them (kinda weird, right??). I relate to a lot of what he writes and it feels good to be validated about your feelings when others are feeling something similar (and in a coincidence of all coincidences, we actually both wrote pretty much the same post on the same day). But when he revealed that he was in the process of getting a divorce, it was shocking as there were no indications about any problems in the marriage in previous posts. I respect that he held back, but opened up about it when he was ready. Now he blogs about being a single dad.

And so as we approach the 2 year anniversary of the blog, I finally have come to terms with what this blog is after fretting now and again that it might be too personal for a business-related blog. I’ve had some friends raise eyebrows about how personal it is, only because they wonder what customers might think when they see posts about kids and bits of our life when they were just expecting….what, cookies? I don’t know. I’ve thought about taking the link off of our W&S website for this reason, but I’ve decided to leave it alone. In my mind, it’s almost impossible to separate our life from the business. We started the business, among other reasons, because we wanted to make a change from restaurant life so that Mark can spend more time with the kids. All of that – dealing with business stress as we struggle of find a balance with family life, the challenges of being a dual self employed household in one of the most expensive cities in the world, figuring out the logistics of pushing 15 packages headed to the post office in a granny cart while walking your kid to school – all of that is intertwined. I doubt that if I was just writing about cookies, you’d stick around. All of it is a part of our story.

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  • quyen huynh January 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    I love this blog Jenna! I love how personal it is. I love that your writing is so true to how we are all feeling about our career, family and making changes in our lives. For pure selfish reason, I hope you continue to keep writing on a personal level and taking pictures of the girls.

  • lesley Graham January 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    jenna–i could not agree with you more about blogging, why we do it, and the inner conflict of what to share/not to share. i too gravitate towards personal blogs. it’s refreshing to be able to relate to others, be inspired by them, and challenged. i really enjoy reading about your life and seeing your beautiful pictures. your family is lovely!

    sincerely,

    lesley

  • Bess January 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I want more cookies! (Kidding!!) I think part of the reason I love reading your posts is precisely because you deal with the self-employed experience in a whole and honest way. Working for yourself, most often in the very same home as your family lives in, sometimes during hours that traditionally would be “family time” make it nearly impossible to separate work life from family life. I really appreciate hearing about the ups and downs of the business and your everyday life.

  • emmy January 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I love this blog sooo much and I hope you keep bloggin for a long long long time!!!!! I can’t get enough of your super cute kids!!!

  • Laura January 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I’m rather new to your blog and have remained a silent reader until now. I know that you have expressed that you’ve been rather down lately, so I feel compelled to give you encouragement even if in a small way. I randomly stumbled upon your blog and was immediately impressed by your candid and personal posts. I find them refreshing and inspiring. Your children are absolutely gorgeous. I’ve really enjoyed learning about you and your family even though I am faraway and disconnected from you in basically every way. So, thank you for hanging in there and for doing what you’re doing. I hope you feel more energized and inspired soon.

  • kate January 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve been thinking about the subject of oversharing on blogs a lot lately, and just how personal mine should be. When I started my blog, I wasn’t very personal at all and stuck to just sharing things I loved, but not myself. But as soon as I opened up and shared my life, my blog evolved into something so much more, something I got so much happiness out of. But I was at dinner with a friend a few weeks ago and they made a little joke about how my blog makes it look like I have some sort of charmed, perfect life, when they in fact know it’s far from that – because I don’t share much of the bad parts. This weekend I had two awful things happen that made the weekend rather sad, but I chose not to talk about those things in my weekend post because it was too personal, and too much of a downer. But is that misleading of me? I open up, but not for everything? I struggle with where to draw the line. My coworkers, my boss included, read my blog and I really put myself at risk when I step over that line.

    I love your blog Jenna, I love that you say things out loud that I’m also thinking despite our age and background differences, and it makes me feel a little less lonely to hear certain things. Plus, your girls are like little adorable rays of sunshine on the internet:)

  • modernemotive January 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Amazing post Jenna. I think blogs that show transparency, as yours does, are simply the best and the ones I gravitate towards.

  • fiona January 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I have 284 feeds that I read regularly and yours is becoming one of my favorites. The photos are beautiful, as are the girls and you are honest about your trials. I often find the only blogs that I really connect with are those written by people who are willing to share some truth. It allows, as you pointed out about Metrodad, a relationship, albeit one sided. The issue of bloggers lives looking perfect is not unlike any other form of media. When we look at magazines and movies we don’t want to see rough drafts and boom mikes but we do want to feel connected to the message and we need to remind ourselves that it is only a small bit of a very big story. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s easier for humans to connect on the basis of hardship because we can relate to it. I wish bloggers didn’t have to think so hard about what’s appropriate or not. I hope that the fact that most of the readers have a heart and are rooting for the writers is worth the flies that find there way into the ointment from time to time. Thank you for your blog. : )

  • G January 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Jenna, I buy your food BECAUSE of your blog. the LAST thing I want is to support a business where everyone pretends to be so happy they are Keebler tree elfs. I like the ups but I like the lows more. Business and life is not even remotely easy and I resent marketing that implies it is. Your food TASTE better because there is sweat, tears, uncertainty and pain behind it. Your COOKIES take on a greater taste level in terms of sugar and salt because it is ephemeral – no business lasts forever (unless you are Tylenol) but I know your food reflects what you feel now, today, not in some fantasy land. Food and life go together and food MUST incorporate the dark sides too.

  • gizella January 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    i think with Etsy and the world around us in general, we are getting used to, and require the oversharing. I love hearing about your business, want everything you make, and can relate to your parenting issues and triumphs. Hun, you have the whole package!

  • Caitlin January 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    This was such a lovely post. Thanks for sharing a little glimpse into your life. I find it fascinating that you and your husband are both self-employed and living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (as you pointed out). Then on top of it all you are raising two beautiful little girls- which is more than a full time job itself. It’s very inspiring to read about how you keep it up, so I hope you continue this blog! I will certainly continue to read it.

  • deka January 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    you’re so right that family life, and business are linked …especially in your case.
    and difficult just to talk about cookies by the way ;-))
    i just want to say that i like the light you raise, in every way,
    in your pictures, in your words …
    hope you will continue, loads and loads of time !
    take care …

  • Amie January 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I must admit, I was initially a little surprised at how personal your blog was (after finding it through your Etsy link). But ultimately, I think that is why I keep reading it. I don’t have children or a husband, but I am a designer, have a small business, and struggle with the challenges that come along with each of those things. I relate to what you write because you are honest and real. Please don’t change a thing.

  • wendy January 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    know what you mean about gravitating towards blogs that aren’t all just business and fluff because like you said, life is very much a part of small businesses like yours. it’s tough to find the right balance on a blog and it’s something i still struggle with with each post. i love reading about your family and how it intertwines with your biz. it’s stuff that i find really interesting these days with the new baby and as i think about the future of my creative pursuits and the realities of life. there are only a couple of blogs where i actually read all the text and yours is one of them.

  • Lyn January 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Lovely blog and so beautifully honest. I’ve just started browsing your site and I am already addicted because of how “real” you come off the page. I really admire how you balance the personal with the business and completely agree it is all part of your story so you shouldn’t hold back in fear. I hope to one day blog as honestly as you in such a well-written way.

  • Chai Ling January 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Yes, Jenna. Keep the link. Words might not be able to describe how much I love your blog; but I know one of the reasons I stay because you are real, personal and honest. It’s special. You are right on your doubt will people stick around if you blog all about cookies. It might end up being just another business established blog, nothing but product and price. Jenna, your blog rocks!

  • Julia January 19, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I always wonder who is behind some of the products or small businesses that I admire, but it isn’t often you can break down the wall between business and personal. After finding and reading your blog (and being linked from your site), I was in love. I think it’s an amazing thing, both in the personal aspect of the blog itself, but also knowing the people behind the W&S. Seeing and reading about how hard you both work, and how lovable you both are, makes me want to support you. Being a private person myself, I know how nerve-wracking it is when you start revealing yourself, but when you connect with complete strangers it changes your perception of that. I agree with the above comment, you could write a 3 page post and I would read it all..

  • leslie January 20, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I enjoy your blog for so many reasons, but one that stands out more than the rest? You blog about real life, complete with the ups and the downs. The glossy facade of some blogs are oftentimes too boring to read! Yours? Definitely not boring. 😉

  • Shanessence January 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

    I came across your blog at a very low time in my life. Somehow I stumbled upon it as I was in the midst of completing my dissertation, doubting whether I would finish. As I stared at the screen around 2 am, I was looking for comfort, for shiny success stories, for relief. But instead, what I’ve found through your realness is that the salt of life makes the sugar taste twice as sweet. In other words, that night I found comfort in your open book, in knowing that someone else out there struggles and triumphs just as I do. Keep it up with your amazingly soulful writing. Thank you for sharing.

  • Shanessence January 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

    By the way, I finished! Submitted it last Friday. 🙂

  • Mary-Ellen January 20, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Hugs, Jenna. You are not alone. In a big way, just reading this post helps me because I know I am not alone. There is a big stigma against talking negative about family time, or time with your children. Some days, or should I say most days, I am consumed with guilt. I always thank you for your honesty and in a great way validation. No one ever talks about how hard, challenging and–did I say hard–parenting is. I think it’s wrong. We need to talk more about it so other potential parents can have a real idea about what it is about. I know I thought it was just pure bliss. I love my children and my family and we have great days and really bad ones. It is the guilt that I struggle with the most. It is just good to know that I am not doing everything wrong and each family struggles are similar to mine.

  • Renee Alam January 20, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I love your blog and visit everyday! While I do love seeing your cookies, I do enjoy reading about your family life… I think we are all curious about the lives of others… maybe it makes us feel better that we all go through the same struggles,etc., so I think it’s nice to see real families blog instead of seeing only the good stuff. I think having your blog connected to your website allows people to see who you really are & it gives the customer a different (and better) relationship with your business. I know I love family businesses and enjoy having peeks into their lives. You have linked your blog with your business with such style. I like how you just tell it like it is… I never feel like you post stuff just for attention, you post from your heart & I know I enjoy the realism of this blog.I hope you neverstop blogging! 🙂

  • Amanda January 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I came upon your blog a long time ago and love to read your posts. In fact, because of the beautiful photos and your honesty and humor about the ups and downs of life, it’s the blog I most enjoy. Thanks for continuing to write about your life and business.

  • Jenna January 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Thank you guys!
    Kate, I totally hear you on the part about getting so much more happiness from the blog after opening up. And I don’t think you are misleading people. It is YOUR blog and what you choose to share is your decision, plus there is so much potential nastiness out there, that I completely understand not wanting to share and being vulnerable. And if I had a full time job where I knew my boss was reading my blog, I might not be so personal either. You do have to protect yourself.
    Shanessence, I’m so glad that I was able to help, even just a little bit. Congrats on finishing your dissertation. That is a huge accomplishment!

  • sabine January 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

    hello from austria!
    i am a business mother too (my little girl will become 2 years old next month). i found your blog some weeks ago, and appreciate your open words. i decided to not give a direct link or hint to my company on my blog (i have the company now for seven years) … the blog is only a few months old. and it is mostly a “mamablog”.

    what i do absolutely understand is your struggeling at the moment. i am absolutely stressed balancing being a mother and owning a company (unfortunately there are also no grandparents or other relatives around). i think the truth is simple: there is too much of everything (work, needs of other people, information ..). and too less time for simple pleasures and joy.

    but maybe it is only january and march will be much better (we don’t have much sun here this time).

    i hope you will be better soon.
    i enjoy your blog.
    sabine

  • Kate January 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been reading your site for some time now, but given that I had to input all my info today, apparently I have never said anything. Such a shame. Your blog, your voice and your family are truly beautiful things, and your photography takes my breath away in it’s simple ability to capture your world. All of these little things, when placed together with a touch of honesty about the reality of life makes for a read that I eagerly scan for each day, and leaves me a bit more content when I finish. We all have those days where nothing fits, our clothes even seem foreign and when we lay down at night if we’re not careful, we can suffer immense despair over a perceived failure. When that happens to me, I just take a deep breath and think ‘This is my life and tomorrow is a new day.’

    Be kind to yourself and keep taking those breaths.

  • Nina January 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I do agree that male post partum depression exists. I personally was on the other end of that and yes, definitely it is real!

    About the hurtful commenting on blogland. I really do think that those people who do that use the internet to be able to release stresses they feel in real life because online nobody knows who they really are and no one can really touch them nor have any direct consequences for their actions, so they feel liberated somehow to be able to write things no matter how awful they seem, maybe they feel like in real life they are not in control and on line they are, somehow by uplifting someone’s day or ruining it. I was a victim of it myself and I feel ashamed that I even let it affect me the way it did.

  • maiko January 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I totally agree with what you are saying. Everything goes hand by hand, and things are good and bad because of that reason. Like some other people have already mentioned, I love the product with deep story behind it. I often support the products because I want to support all the people and things that enabling the product to be there. I enjoyed this post very much, and I want you to keep writing this way. At the very end, people like to find warmness and comfort of people.

  • tabitha jane January 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    thanks for being so honest about the hard parts of life. people tend to gloss over these things so easily . . .

  • Steph January 20, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    hey Jenna,
    Please don’t get rid of your link from W&S site. That is afterall how I found your blog. In fact I found you through etsy when my eye caught your Earl Grey cookies while searching once.
    I now check your blog every couple of days to see your beautiful pics and read your adventures. This is the first time that I’ve commented and felt compelled to by what you wrote.
    My sister lives in NY, so when my husband and I came to visit in October I had ideas of things I wanted to do by reading your blog. My husband, sis and I went to the High Line and for our 6 year (10/11) anniversary went by ourselves to Storm King.
    We even went to the Brooklyn Flea so I could get some cookies. a I met your husband, but felt wierd saying that I read your guys blog.
    Please keep sharing your stories and recipes. I love reading them and of course using your recipes (made the cherry chocolate bread pudding for X-Mas actually) seeing your pics and of course purchasing and eating your cookies!

  • dani January 21, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Great post. I actually have no interest in your cookies (no offense) but read your blog because of the family bent. I just had my own daughter and it is nice to look at pictures of what she will soon become (she is just an infant now). I like that you are honest in stating what motherhood is really like. All too often parenting is (bad pun coming) sugar-coated to seem perfect and beautiful. We have all conspired to create a myth that raising a family is easy, which is so not true. It is exhausting, grueling, tiring, and frustrating, but the beautiful pictures of your family remind me that it is also magical. Keep doing your thing, girl!!!

  • Caroline, No. January 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Trufax.

    I was thinking just today of sending an email to my nearest and dearest to say, ‘If I seem upbeat on my blog don’t think that I’m brushing off that heavy conversation we just had or that I’m not thinking about you…’

    It’s hard to maintain the line between personal and staying on topic but I enjoy your blog and others do too so just keep on keeping on!

  • verhext January 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Hi! Just came over at Anna’s recommendation – I love your writing style and openness. Will definitely keep reading as I start my own family!

  • katy elliott January 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I just came over as well per Anna’s twitter. I love your writing. I’m personally tired of reading about products on blogs and the constant consuming. I love to hear about other people’s real lives. I’m a blogger too and I struggle with how much to share. I can’t wait to read more of yours.

  • MadsMom January 22, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Just found you through a retweet and I am so glad that I’ve taken a look, what a wonderful day to find you. Thank you for the honesty and inspiration. I’m just 50 so posts in to this blogging world and am happy to find the masters out there for guidance.

  • Sara Jensen January 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    This is actually the first post I have read of yours. It’s amazing how much this resonates with how I have been feeling about connecting my site with my blog. Or if I want to make sure not to talk about Henry, remembering something someone once said to me “don’t ever tell a client that you are mother, no one wants to work with mothers.” but, why would I want to work with them? The better people know me, the better I think, we can work together.
    Thank you.

  • RarerlyWrongErin January 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I love your blog and have been reading it, almost since its inception, because of the honesty. The truth sets you free and lights the candle of recognition in those who hear it/read it. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for ignoring the naysayers. I have often contemplated deleting the nasty anonymous comments from my blog, but felt that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter- for they hide behind anonymity and we put it out there. Best to you and your family in the new year. xoxo

  • nicole January 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    i love your blog and your cookies but i love the human side of business…inspiring to those of us trying to strike the balance between work, business, and family. also, i am a long time lurker/admirer. thank you for inspiring and for being a “regular” mom with a busy yet “regular” life. whatever regular may be.

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