Category: Holidays

The 2016 Christmas Door Decorating Contest

 

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At first, rumor had it that there would be no Christmas Door Decorating Contest. Then five days before judging, they announce there will be a contest. Five days is not enough time. The previous year took me three weeks to handcraft a well decorated door. And I won 1st place in H6.

This year I’m in H3, and I got 3rd place. Good enough for a dozen cookies as a prize.

The guy who won 1st place cheated. He got his door decorations from his buddy who won the H3 contest in a previous year. Then he put those same decorations on his door for this contest. It took him all of 20 minutes. The second he won, he took down the decorations and boxed them up for the next year, while everyone else still had their doors decorated. What does that tell you?

While the 1st place door only took about 20 minutes, I spent about 25 hours hand crafting a 3D snowman and cutting out approximately 100 snowflakes! Among other things. I wanted to make a beautiful 3D Christmas tree, but there simply wasn’t enough time.

It was nice to enjoy the Christmas Spirit with my wife, Suzie. She is the one who always encourages me to participate in the annual Christmas Door Decorating Contest. She brings so much warmth to my days. Suzie loves Christmas music during the holidays, so as I decorated the door, I also listened to Christmas music.

Although I’m thankful for all my blessings and my heart is filled with joy and gratitude, I must admit that it sucks that a guy can break out a winning door from last year and win again this year, with no real effort.

Then, on top of that, I didn’t even get to take a real picture with my door. I don’t know what happened. Usually they post a date and time for pictures. It seems as if they didn’t even want to do the contest at all…as a result they just rushed through it.

Oh well, it’s prison. What do you expect?

Better luck next year.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!

 

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Steven Jennings

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 2)

 

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After reading an email from my sweet wife about what she is thankful for, I realized that my previous Thanksgiving post was incomplete. I failed to mention the things that I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for having such a wonderful family. Starting with my wife. She is so incredibly kind and loving. Her dedication & loyalty is absolutely impeccable. I am so blessed to have her. Thank you, Suzie!

I’m thankful for my amazing mother and all of her love & support. Thanks, mom! I love you.

I’m thankful for my sisters, and my nieces & nephew. I’m especially thankful for my brother-in-laws and how they treat my sisters and their kids.

Wow! There’s so much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my Friends.
I’m thankful for my readers and followers.
I’m thankful for being in The Dog Program.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to blog.
I’m thankful to be alive and to have a release date.
I’m thankful for my Marriage.
I’m thankful for clothes to wear and food to eat.
I’m thankful for JPay.
I’m thankful for football season.
I’m thankful for Influential Books to read.
I’m thankful for my health.
I’m thankful for Stone City Blog.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to take NA classes to earn back good time.
I’m thankful for all my blessings and for all the people who love & support me.

Thank you.

 

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Steven Jennings

 

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 1)

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 1)

football

Football started at 9:30am and continued throughout the day. I loved that!

At 10am, they served brunch. We had:

Cold Cereal (Reece Puff)
Belgian Waffles
Fresh Danish
Scrambled Eggs
Turkey Sausage Links
White and Chocolate Milk

After brunch I came back to my cell and slipped into a bran new sweat suit. Then I crawled up on my bunk, got under the covers, and watched my fantasy football players do work! I pretty much layed in bed all day and watched football.

At 5pm, they called dinner. For being in prison the food was excellent! We had:

Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Turkey Gravy
Corn on the Cobb
Yams
Cranberry Jelly
Homemade Dinner Roll
Chocolate Crème Pie

At 7pm there was a Bingo Tournament in the gym. The prizes consisted of: deodorants, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, and body washes. I’ve played my fair share of bingo, and I gotta admit, I don’t like it. So I didn’t go play this year.

Happy Holidays.

 

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Steven Jennings

 

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 2)

We Won The 2015 Christmas Door Decorating Contest!

 

 

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I know this post is late…but better late than never.

My wife and I won the 2015 Christmas Door Decorating Contest!!!

For the back story on this project, you can read our posts:

Christmas With My Wife
Christmas With My Husband

The prize for 1st place was a huge double layered 12”× 24” Spice Cake with white frosting. I gave most of it away. It was way too much for one person. Then I sent the winning door to Suzie. Not the actual door itself… here, let me explain:

Before I decorated the door, I sheet rocked it with cardboard. Then I attached all the decorations to the cardboard. So nothing was actually on the door except for cardboard. After we won, I just peeled off the cardboard, cut it into three sections, and stuffed it into a customized box I made for shipping. When she got it, she re-assembled it, and now has the winning masterpiece hanging on her bedroom wall.

If you look closely, there is actual popcorn and fruit loops strung on the tree. 🙂

Oh, and the snowflakes are all dangling on the door by strings of floss. When the judges came to see the door, I turned on my fan and pointed it towards the door to make the snowflakes flutter and float as if really falling from the sky. And the presents under the tree are all 3D and each have an individual Christmas tag.

Sorry I left ya all hanging for so long.

So now ya know…WE WON!

With 900 miles between us, we worked together brainstorming and putting this Christmas project together with love…and our creative teamwork proved successful.

I love doing things with my wife that helps bridge the long distance between us.

 

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Steven Jennings

Christmas With My Wife

 

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Just before December approached, I asked my wife, “Is there anything I can do for you this Christmas?”

She said, “Hmm, let me think about it.”

A couple days later she tells me, “I thought of something we can do together!”

I respond, “Reeeallly. And what might that be?”

“Well, you know how much  I love Christmas…” she began.

My baby LOVES Christmas! She goes all out. She decorates her house and the tree, listens to Christmas music as she bakes, and much more.

She sent me 20+ Christmas cards throughout December, each one was different and full of love & life. Her words were full of comfort, encouragement, memories, hope, humor, and passion. My sweet lady even sent me a personalized paper Christmas Tree to hang in my cell!

We had date nights watching holiday movies/programs together at the same time. She also sent me TONS of pictures, too. Which I absolutely LOVE!

So YES!!! I know how much she loves Christmas and this time of year.

She continued, “I’d like for us to win this year’s Christmas Door Decorating Contest.”

We’ve done this together for the last 2 years. We’ve placed 2nd and 3rd, but haven’t gotten 1st place yet. So I respond in a skeptical voice, “You want to WIN IT?!”

She says in a confident & sweet voice, “Yes. Win it for us! You’re always telling me that we can do anything we set our minds to. Lets WIN IT! We’ll do it together.”

I perk up and say, “You’re right, baby! I’m going to win it just for you!”

I’ve put over 70 hours in on decorating my door. It looks AWESOME! My wife inspires me to go above and beyond. Every second I spend crafting this door into a masterpiece, I’m thinking of my beautiful, loving wife.

(picture from 2013)

(picture from 2013)

Even though we’re almost 900 miles apart, I feel a strong spiritual connection to her.

She sends me ideas, sketches, paper cut-outs, and all kinds of creativity for the door. I send her samples of those ideas and await her approval, or her suggestions of improvement. And I love it!

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. She soothes my soul and puts nothing but love and joy in my heart. The way Suzie loves me is the best gift I’ve ever received. The warmest, most powerful feelings I’ve ever known are generated by this incredible woman and her love.

Because of her, this has been one of the BEST Christmas’s since childhood. As a matter of fact, she makes me feel like a child again with all the anticipation & excitement she brings to my life. She takes me up outta this gloomy, negative prison environment.

christmas spirit

I have felt the Christmas Spirit so strongly. With every ounce of my strength & energy, I will love this woman the way God intended for a husband to love his wife.

For my wife’s perspective, please read her blog titled, Christmas With My Husband.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

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Steven Jennings

 

PS – We Won The 2015 Christmas Door Decorating Contest!

Thanksgiving 2015

 

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I went to brunch at 8:30 am. Then layed around and watched football.

Then went to dinner at 5:00 pm. I had: fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravey, yams, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie w/whiped cream.

It was actually pretty darn good! I was thankful.

Then I came back, hopped up on my bunk, and watched Chicago beat Green Bay! Who knew???

From 7-7:30pm, there was a live band made up of inmates who played a few songs in the dayroom.

I’ve never seen that before…not in the unit dayroom! It was cool. They were good.

But wait!!! The festive events arn’t over yet…

Today (Friday) was the start of several tournaments. I entered the Dominoe tournament. I won my first match and advanced in the bracket.

Then I subbmitted my name for the Pie Eating Contest. Outta 60 submittions…I got randomly selected. I ate one Chocolate Cream pie in 1:28! That was good enough for 1st place! By 5 seconds!!! I got a big ribbon that says: 2015 PIE EATING CHAMPION

Then the whole unit played BINGO for bags of homemade cookies. I was sitting at a table w/two other guys. We all agreed that if anyone of us win…we’ll split the cookies 3 ways. One of us won!!! The cookies were delicious.

I am so thankful for life.

No matter where we are…life is what we make of it.

 

MEDITATION:

The great joy of life comes into my soul, flooding me with love and thanksgiving.

I do not grieve or feel sorry for myself, because nothing is lost or gone from me.

I have friends and family who love me. I have the most sensitive, loving, wife in the world.  I have inner peace with a spirit of love and appreciation.

No matter where I am, or where I go, peace, love, and serenity will follow me.

I keep my friends and family in my heart…they are always with me.

I am filled with the joy of living and the great peace that comes to all who believe in the power of love.

 

Happy Holidays To Everyone!

Enjoy your blessings & love your family.

 

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Steven Jennings

Happy Halloween!

Christmas Door Decorating Contest 2014

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My goal was to get 1st place this year. I got 3rd. Last year I got 2nd (see: Christmas Door Decorating Contest 2013).

The 2nd place winner was Mark Till (see: Mark Till). But he was sooo mad that he didn’t get a picture taken standing by his finished door. He felt the contest was rigged.

I love my 3rd place door!

The tree is 3-D made out of layered cardboard. It is strung with real popcorn, and I made the lights out of plastic spoons. The coffee table has milk and cookies on it. And I wrapped empty cardboard boxes as the 3-D presents under the tree. As you look out the window you’ll see a snowy landscape, a snowman, and Santa flying across the sky with his reindeers. But you can’t see all that because I covered my door with pictures of the people I love…my wife & family.

Even though my door placed 3rd, it’ll always be #1 in my heart 🙂

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I just thought this door was kinda funny, so I thought I’d share it. A couple of inmates painted it, but some of the staff deemed it to be inappropriate. They said it depicted gang violence. (The red snowman is a Blood. And the blue snowman is a Crip.) So they took it down. In prison, there is a serious side to everything.

 

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Steven Jennings

Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

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On Dec. 14, 2014 I had one of the best visits ever!

My sister Tabatha, my brother-in-law Justin, and my niece Hudsyn, all came to see me.

This was a special Christmas Event. I had to submit an application just to be considered. Once approved, I attended six workshops.

At the workshops, we talked about what family means to us and how being locked up might affect them. I have to admit, I got a little emotional at times.

We also picked out gifts, and wrapped them for the kids coming to see us. I picked out a Barbie Bath kit for Hudsyn.

Justin, Santa, Hudsyn, Tabatha, Steven

Justin, Santa, Hudsyn, Tabatha, & Steven

At 11:30 AM I was called to the visiting room. As I walked in I saw Tabatha and Hudsyn. They’re in line, waiting to use the restroom.

Tabatha says, “Look Hudsyn, there’s Uncle Steven.”

I smile and wave, “Hi Hudsyn.”

She’s shy. She hides behind Tabatha.

I walk up to my sister. We give each other a big long hug. My heart is instantly filled with love.

Hudsyn runs away a few feet, then stops. I see a guy walking in my direction, but I think he’s just passing by. When he stops, I realize it’s Justin! I almost didn’t recognize him. I shake his hand and give him a hug as we exchange pleasantries.

Within minutes we’re all at our table. Hudsyn sees the crayons and paper. She wants to color. I open the box of crayons and ask her, “What color is this in Spanish?”

One by one I hold up a different color and she says the color in Spanish. She easily knows them all.

Then she takes a crayon and writes her entire name. Her printing is very good. I’m impressed! She’s only 3 years old.

Tabatha asked her, “Where do you live?”

Tabatha then asks her, “What planet?”

“Planet Earth” she says with a smile.

Before long we’re over at the kids section with all the toys. There’s a little two-foot plastic slide. She’d rather jump off it than slide down it. I catch her in mid-air then extend my arms over my head before bringing her down to her feet. She runs back around, and climbs to the top of the slide again.

Soon there are five other kids in the rotation. One kid says, “Do that to me. Do that to me.”

I want to, but I don’t know that child. I don’t want to cross any lines. So I say, “You’re too big. Let’s see if you can jump to this line.” I point to a crease in the mat on the ground.

As a new kid tops the slide, they look to me for instruction. Before I know it, I have them doing 360 degree, air walks, spread eagles, daffies, and back scratchers. Except for Hudsyn. When she jumps, I catch her and lift her to the sky.

As soon as I set her down, she runs to the end of the line. I take this opportunity to slip away back to the table to talk with Tabatha and Justin. This visit is AWESOME!

Within minutes Hudsyn is by my side, “Come play with me. Come play with me.” Awww! How can I say no? Off to the slide we go.

***

Remember all the workshops I had to attend for this event? There’s a reason for that.

Dawn Taylor gets on the microphone. She’s the event coordinator who puts all her heart and soul into all these special events. She says, “Who in here has seen the movie Frozen?”

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All the kids shout, “Me, me, me, me…”

She then points to life-sized cardboard cut-outs of all the Frozen characters and asks the kids, “Who’s this? Who’s this?”

All the kids yell the character’s names as she points to each one.

By now a few kids have gathered around Dawn Taylor. She asks, “Whats your favorite Frozen song?”

The kids say, “Let It Go.”

All of this Frozen “talk” has created some type of a buzz amongst the children. Even Hudsyn stood up on her chair to get a better view.

Then…over the PA system…the music starts…”Elsa? knock, knock, knock, knock, knock

That’s my cue!

I stand up and sing, “Do you want to build a snowman?”

And the next guy continues, “Come on lets go and play.”

IT’S A FLASH MOB IN PRISON!

For the next 10 lines, various men stand up and sing it loud.

About 15 inmates are in on it. All the visitors are clueless!

This is what those workshops were all about. We were choreographing, practicing dance moves, learning the lyrics, and trying to get in sync.

As the song, Do You Want To Build A Snowman, transitions to the song, Let It Go…all of us guys move to the center of the room. Then we split, half to the left and half to the right. We’re singing and dancing as we show off the moves we learned from the movie.

The response from the kids and parents is amazing!

By the 3rd and final song, Happy, everyone is clapping along and laughing.

Tabatha & Hudsyn

Tabatha & Hudsyn

I loose myself in the moment and bust out my self-taught, top-notch dance moves!

I have to admit, this is one of life’s greatest moments for me.

(The flash mob was recorded. I’ll try to get the video to share with you all.)

After the dancing, we all gathered around the big screen and sang, Let It Go.

Steven & Hudsyn

Steven & Hudsyn

In that moment, the love and harmony I felt was at an all-time high.

As I reflect back to those moments of pure joy, it validates the truth within the scriptures. I can talk about love and joy all day long. And sometimes I do. But only through experience does it offer true liberation.

Let It Go is a perfect song. The past is in the past…let it go, let it go. My spiritual awakening has created a new life for me. I absolutely love it!

After all the singing, I gave Hudsyn her present. I got a feeling of longevity. Thoughts of Uncle Steven will linger in her mind every time she plays with her Barbie Bath kit. It feels good knowing this distant memory won’t be so distant that fast.

All too soon, it was time for my family to leave. I get a big hug and kiss from that same shy little girl. I hug my sister as I thank her for all her love and support. I shake Justin’s hand as I hug him. I simply look at him in the eye and say, “Thank you.” He says, “Your welcome” and encourages me to remain on the good path. I absolutely will.

Thank you to everyone for all your love and support.

 

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Sincerely,

Steven

Christmas Day

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-8AM-

Merry Christmas everybody!

Today is going to be a great day. I just got done talking with my sweet wife. She sang me Christmas songs. I love that! So soothing. I will call her again after breakfast. She loves it when I call her. So today I will call her as much as she wants me to.

 

-9AM-

For breakfast they served:

 

Banana

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Danish

Fried eggs

Hash browns

Biscuit w/jam

White and Chocolate milk

 

Not bad for a prison meal.

 

After I ate, I came back and called my wife again. All our lovey dovey talk really put me in a GREAT mood. I am so thankful to have this feeling of love in my life. I owe the world to my wife. She truly makes me a better man.

After we hung up, I went and read Proverbs. Then I participated in the Holiday Spades Tournament. I’ve won this tournament several times over the years. But not this year. I’m already out.

Now I’m just sitting in the dayroom writing this blog on my jp4 touch screen as I wait for a phone to open up. I’ll call my baby one more time before I go lay down and relax.

 

-3PM-

I just woke up from a nap. Today is a lazy day. I’ll stay in bed until dinner. I’ll read “The Power of Now”. I’ll watch basketball. Miami and Cleveland are on now. I’ll listen to music. I’ll meditate. I’ll lay here and dream of the day they let me go. I’ll visualize the man I want to be. Minute by minute I’ll transform my mind into the man I was born to be. Today will be an easy breezy peaceful day.

 

-7PM-

Dinner was delicious! I had:

 

Fried chicken

Scalloped potatoes

Candied yams

Corn on the cob

Pull apart rolls

Fruit salad

Pumpkin pie with topping

 

Now I am back on my bunk…..chillin. Sharring my Christmas day with all of you.

It’s an easy life in here. But first I had to get past all the loneliness and accept responsibility for all my wrong doings. I deserve to be in here. I was wrong. I must pay the price. That’s what I’m doing. As I pay my debt to society, I might as well make the best of it. How, you ask? Well my friends, just kick back and watch. I can show you better than I can tell you. I still have 15 years to do. And through this platform I invite you to ride along on this journey.

Along with my wife, friends, and family, all of YOU inspire me to achieve greatness.

Thank you for all the supportive encouraging comments.

Thank you for reading. My heart is full of love.

 

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Sincerely,

Steven