comment 0

One & Eight

2020 is the year my sweet baby Chris, turned one and my sweet big boy Ev turned 8.

This year with Chris has been one of intense ups and downs (he was born, he is thriving, he’s walking and talking! but there was also a literal pandemic, murder hornets and brain eating amebas…), but he has always been the constant undying bright light. I will NEVER be able to put into words the amount of joy this baby has brought to our lives. He is everything, to all of us. He has fit SEAMLESSLY into our family (not our laundry situation, but def to our family). He’s made me realize, once again, my children are my LIFE. They are my right now identity. I don’t know me without them and while some people will say that’s wrong, I don’t really care, to me it is right, to me it is perfect and to me I have never been happier (yup pandemic life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and I drop a lot of Fbombs but man, give me another baby now… I LIVE for this season of life).

You see, and I am fully aware this is not true for all (and THAT IS OK!!!! We do not all need to feel the way I do), motherhood is what I was meant to do. It is what I was called to do. I literally have positive chemical reactions in my brain, fuzzy feelings in my soul and overwhelming positive vibes in my life when I have a baby. When I nurse this baby, when I wear, hold, smell, even when I yell when bitten by baby… I was MEANT for this. But back to C, this was supposed to be his and Ev’s post:

One is laughing, one is running, one is talking (WOW, Da, hi) one is wild in the very best way. One is reminding me how intense baby fever is. One is still snuggling, still nursing, still hugging you every single chance we get.

Now eight. Eight is unbelievable.

Eight is funny, eight is kind. Eight is a lover, a reader, a running partner on occasion, a helper ALL THE TIME, a friend, obviously big brother, and pretty much everything >> no actually everything. He’s the one who made me a mom. I’ve never been more proud.

Eight is resilient, eight is independent, eight is shy but eight is brave.

Eight is also attitude. It’s funny to catch the attitude, then he gives you that heartbreaking smile:

One and Eight (and almost six) have been my lifelines. They were from the moment their little bodies grew in my womb and landed in my arms but man, this past several months has taught me there are no more important relationships, in life, than these. My love for them grows fiercer every. single. day. My drive to be the best at everything I do is only heightened because I know they are watching.

They are my guiding lights, ironic huh? As I’m supposed to be the guide, the protector. But children, they hold all the answers. Life is simple. WE, us. Us adults. Complicate it. You go after your goals, while uplifting others, you lay punches on loved ones because sometimes relationships are hard, but five seconds later you guard your family fiercely and you make up. You teach one another to be kind but sometimes kindness is lost in emotion, so you also teach forgiveness. You teach grace, you teach your kids to be proud of who they are and standup for those around them. We teach them that they are privileged, not all are, they are inherently lucky. They have taught me to listen. To stop and just listen.

Eight and One (and almost six) are my life. Eight and One and almost six plus my other Thirty something male in the house, we are the closesest we’ve ever been. I am so lucky to be locked up with the sweetest, most loving, growing, thriving, wonderful boys.

And also, happy belated birthdays my July babies. I love you.

comment 0

The Just Because Post

Well, life. Fuck? AmIright?

Please do not excuse the swearing. We are in legit unreal times and I am certainly going to type in the manner in which I speak. Ask all friends, it’s riddled with swear words. Anywho. how are you? I hope as good as can be. I do what to give you my ‘just because post.’ It is random, it is appropriate and it is this:

We are alive. We are grateful for our home, our health and our family;

We are confused. What day is it? I mean, it’s Sunday of course, I know because I work tomorrow. We are snuggling, we are social-distancing and we are trying hard not to read/watch the news. We however, do allow lego books, especially as chew toys because I mean, little teeth:

We are 8 months, we are getting some big boy top teeth and we are obsessed:

We are also trying to keep some sort of norm. Lots of family snuggles, lots of family laughs, too much screen time and lots of Peloton time. Lots of meltdowns, lots of let downs, lots of thinking. Thinking runs from, we are good to we are fucked. We are happy to we are depressed… it’s fine, we are all fine. Truly we are. We miss our family. We sing for our heroes and we have subscribed to Instant Cart. We tip well, we scrub hands often and we are doing the best we can.

I bought a new SD card, because although I have some time, I didn’t want to spend it reformatting SD cards.

I tipped that driver well too.

I hope you are surviving. If you are thriving, good on you. But we just want people to survive.

Love from afar,


comment 0

2019 the Wrap-up

Hi Friends. It’s been a while, it’s a theme I know.

I’ve spent the last 22 weeks really just soaking up life. In the best way – simply. I’ve been soaking up baby days like NO other. Probably because outside of an oops baby, this is likely our last. I’ve loved every single second. But I do want to talk about this year in general. It was such a blur as I swear pretty much every year in your 30s is.

The start to this year brought wicked morning sickness. Followed by the horrific flu, followed by pregnancy depression. So really the first half felt very muddled. I do remember telling myself to enjoy the pregnancy but that is just generally hard for me and because this was my 3rd time, I accepted it.

I won’t lie winter 2019 was not our best season but we trucked through it. Thank you to friends like Katie and Timmy who sent literal help – pizza and ice cream and people at work who just made it wonderful to be there. Spring was ok, but we did visit the Atlanta aquarium with my sister and mom – because my sister spoils the shit out of my kids. Spring also had soccer. We LOVE soccer in our home and Dad was coach so that was fun.

Summer was wonderful. Hanging with he guys the guys hanging in the pool and with family. Celebrating Evan turning 7!

I crushed it at work, tried to crush it at home but came home and slept a lot ūüôā – but as the sun came out for summer, my outlook on life turned too. I was SO. DANG. EXCITED. for this baby:

I won’t lie, and I think it’s totally fine to say. Christopher Andrew is the highlight of 2019. He is the sweetest most wonderful baby I have ever met.

He has fit so perfectly into our lives. Going to every soccer game, picking up his bros from school, being snuggled closely in his scouts and slings. Watching his bros and his besties play.

My time off was so well spent, hanging with my dudes plus Hannah and her dudes and my bestie Ava:

Hanging with my family who is my everything. My momma, my sister, my dreamy husband. I feel so lucky and blessed even with my sick main men at home this week. I basically have had about 22 weeks of maternity leave. It’s been the most magical time and I’m so happy. It’s really set me up to have the best 2020.

Oh and good old MAV turned F-I-V-E

Light and love my sweets. Sending so much love. May your days be as merry and bright as the moments caught in some of these photographs:

comment 0

A Birth Story – V3

Just a little bit of background. ¬†I am type A. ¬†I’m organized, methodical, have anxiety around messes. ¬†I enjoy agendas, schedules, plans. ¬†I’d like to think I’m calm and easygoing but reality is… I’m not so much. ¬†This is probably one of the reasons pregnancy doesn’t agree with me much. ¬†I do not like body expansion, I do not like being out of control.


37+ weeks

I had a few blog posts half baked: ¬†what’s in the go-bag (delivery bag), how I’m feeling about baby 3, what new things have I gotten for baby 3, etc. I expected these to be pre-baby posts, but spoiler alert – baby 3 came BEFORE I expected him to!

Now for a little history and a couple of things about how my pregnancy was progressing. Evan and Michael were both exactly 41 weeks when they were born. ¬†Evan was high and I showed ZERO signs of progression, I was induced with Evan. ¬†Michael was different, I excitingly showed signs of progression starting around 37 weeks, 1cm, 2cm, 3cm – but he stayed put until 41 weeks when as I went to be induced, I was in early labor. ¬†Both these births were absolutely wonderful. ¬†For this baby, however, he was just like big bro Evan. ¬†Seemed perfectly comfortable hanging out cooking. ¬†At 38 weeks I was checked… No progress. ¬†At 39 weeks I was checked… No progress. ¬†So I didn’t really feel the need to get anything done I absolutely thought I was going to have an August baby, banking on 8/7/2019 which would have likely been the date they would have induced me.

Well, like some things in my life – I was wrong. ¬†On July 29th, I was working from home. ¬†I had logged off after having a pretty productive positive day. ¬†I made a ‘labor cake’ with my kids (I literally didn’t even have a slice), cleaned up the kitchen and waited for my husband to come home. ¬†I took a shower when he got home and laid in bed after. ¬†While watching TV I felt a “pop” it was a weird sensation, not like a kick… I literally thought to myself that was weird.

Some point after that I was like “ok Jen, get up, get dressed” when I got up weird things started happening. ¬†It was like a slight gush down there and for a second I thought I may have peed on myself. ¬†This happened a couple more times, light events and so I went downstairs. ¬†I found Hector cellphone in hand who had just finished dinner, plates still on the table in front of him this is how the conversation went:

Me: “Babe, I think we need to pack our hospital bag. ¬†Not sure what is going on but my water may have broke”
Hector: *sheer panic on his face* “are you serious?” *gets up and runs upstairs*

Hector texts our family text (Mom, Sister, Me) at 9:05 “I think Jen’s water broke” – I polo my friends “I think my water broke” then I called my doctor. ¬†At this point I had zero contractions. ¬†I felt pretty good minus slightly panicked because the bag I had mentally packed wasn’t physically packed – whoops!

Then the chaos began, kids were excited and up, mom and sister rolled up. ¬†I finished sorta packing and got in the car quite anxious. ¬†By this time I knew by water had definitely broke because there as lots of leakage happening. ¬†We get to the hospital and get sent to triage for them to “confirm” that my water broke. ¬† The nurse was nice, and confirmed what we already knew, my water had broke (10:50pm). ¬†They do a test with a swab, if it turns blue it’s amniotic fluid, it turned blue. ¬†My doctor who is absolutely by the book also took a sample to check under he microscope. ¬†In triage they took my blood, hooked me up to an iv and I wanted to walk over to the delivery room.

At about midnight I started Pitocin; at 1am I was 3 centimeters dilated.  1:50am I was really feeling the contractions.  2:45am they checked me I was 8cm. 3am I started feeling a crazy amount of pressure and had Hector get the nurse, I was 9cm. Nurse had to run to wake up the doctor and at 3:27am baby was in my arms:


and just like that our family was a little bit bigger:

IMG_41526lbs 7.5oz and 19 inches bigger to be exact.

Christopher has been hanging on tight to us for 7 weeks and it has honestly been the most magical time. ¬†My whole family couldn’t be more thrilled to have this little love to snuggle and get to know:


The snuggles are truly endless. ¬†Thanks for waiting on this post. ‚̧


Anywho – this baby showed me my Type A personality can be thrown off big time. ¬†My bag wasn’t perfect, my story was his. ‚̧ I’ve taken about 10 thousand pictures if you follow me on instagram I post too many there @jen.stays.well and @jenlmvilla

until next time



comment 0

Mind Chaos

3 weeks. It’s been 3 weeks since our newest little man has joined us. My birth story still isn’t done, I have 10 thousand things going on in my brain and I’m really just trying to find my new routine while enjoying every single snuggly moment I can. So as my sweet sweet babe sleeps wrapped in his Solly Wrap I’m going to share some current mind chaos. In hopes someone can give me some pointers on how to slow my brain the heck down and I’ll share what I currently do to slow the chaos down.

It’s been a while since I had a new baby. While some things are [luckily] second nature to me, some of it is a very raw reminder of how I felt early months with my other boys. So while nursing and just caring for this sweet baby is wonderful, my anxiety is not. It’s not a baby anxiety which is what I want to talk about since it seems people don’t equate having a baby and escalating anxiety not relating to baby as a thing but it totally is – it’s a life anxiety and it’s heightened right now likely because of being postpartum. It’s a the house isn’t clean, it needs to be perfect. It’s a my kids are watching too much tv, I’m a bad mom. It’s a it’s 6pm and dinner isn’t done, now my kids are starving – bad mom. Baby C is 3 weeks old I only have x amount of weeks left with him before I go back to work = bad mom. He’s growing so fast = tears because time just doesn’t slow down. There is DUST EVERYWHERE! Ugh, this dog I love him but I JUST vacuumed. Ugh the battery died on my vacuum cleaner and I can see dog hair is just piling up. Is that a crumb? The floors need to be washed. Michael needs to be picked up, better walk faster. Ugh it’s hot, is the baby too hot? am I walking to fast for his little head? Did they wash their hands? Ugh. Germs, no baby colds, no KID COLDS, I hate sick kids – anyway you get it. My mind is in CONSTANT chaos. It’s constantly jumping from one thing to another and then more mom guilt – I’m spending too much time worrying about all I do and not enjoying baby snuggles, baby nursing sessions, etc.

Then I remember to slow down and get back to basics. Being 3 weeks postpartum I feel awesome physically we are walking several miles a day but I really need to find my meditation and more vigorous workout routines again. This helps me get back into check but I also need to be aware this anxiety is more intense than my usual anxiety and I need to be comfortable talking about it and asking for help, as much as I am super woman – there are other heroes in the world, right? I mean some things are just too much to take on all on your own.

So why write this chaotic post about my mind chaos? To remind myself of two things and to remind my readers of this same stuff:

  1. We are all doing a great job. It’s fine to want to be better and work toward it, that’s life – growth. As long as you recognize it and work towards it rather than become totally impaired by said anxiety of being perfect, you are doing great. Are you actually impaired? Miserable? Time to talk to someone about figuring out tools to get out of it and being open to ALL avenues of it not just talking about it, but finding the HELP to get you back to a person, you should never just feel like a shell, or hopeless, and if you do let’s talk about it let’s hold each other up.
  2. Find your anchor + change your perspective + gratitude. What brings you back to the present? For me it’s a few things: it’s writing, being creative through photography and using my mind for something tangible so I can say this is how I spent my time. It’s physical exertion (getting in a walk, run, ride, yoga, and meditation). It’s listening to my Spotify playlist, reading, listening to a podcast or audible (again using my brain to focus on something). It’s looking at my kids and being grateful for all of it – the arguments over what shoes to wear but also the sweet moments when I have all kids piled on top of me (sometimes I have a give me MY DANG SPACE moment but other times I realize this won’t be forever and I need to just enjoy the affection I’m getting from them today).

How do you tackle mind chaos? Do you experience it? Is it overwhelming or does it just fuel your more productive ventures?

Anywho, my current babe is in need of something so I’m out. ūüôā

comment 0

He’s Here!

Ok so I really wanted to give you guys a full birth story, first – but it’s taking way longer than expected to get that over the line so first we will introduce you to our perfect little BOY.

On July 30th (39 weeks, 5 days) we welcomed this sweet boy, Christopher Andrew, to our family:


Mr. CAV is the perfect addition to our growing family:


and we already cannot imagine our lives without him.

MAV IS A BIG BRO!  Please stay tuned for way more squishy baby pictures, a birth story and all the things we are loving!


At the very top of the list are absolutely the fresh baby snuggles.


The new family of 5.

comment 0

Evan is Seven

Per my last blog… Evan is now seven. ¬†I have no clue how this happened, honestly. ¬†Having kids really puts your life into hyper speed nothing NOTHING¬†NOTHING tells you the time is passing quite like growing children.

This is the first time several years we weren’t going on vacation for Evan’s birthday. ¬†His summertime bday is a great time to give myself a break on planning a party and take the family on vacation instead. ¬†Parties can be¬†expensive¬†and¬†stressful¬†so we’ve opted out of them. ¬†This year being 100 months pregnant for Evan’s birthday a vacation was out of the question.

So this year we decided to do a SMALL last minute party for my special guy. EvIs7_-26

It was literally a perfect day. From cold and rainy to hot and sunshine for pool time. It was thrown together in a day too. ¬†I had told literally two family friends “hey can you come to my mom’s for a pool party?”


and both came through the way amazing friends do.  Evan had the best time just splashing around and celebrating with special people.

EvIs7_-8There were bubbles, people ate pizza, strawberries, watermelon and of course we did a fun festive cake:


Evan asked everyone to help blow out his candles ‚̧ – we sang happy birthday opened a couple gifts and just enjoyed each other’s company.

Literally the perfect day.  Evan even let me take some pictures:


and this guy helped so much:

EvIs7_-47Not pictured is my saint family, especially my mom who hosted the event.  She is such a blessing.  We are so lucky to have her and so lucky to spend so much time with her.  I love that my boys have such amazing memories with our friends and family we are truly surrounded by the best human beings on the planet and as baby day draws closer I reflect so much on this simple truth: family and friends are everything.

Of course we wanted many other people to share the day with us, but our small homes and last minute planning is what allowed this to fall together perfectly and unstressfully.

Evan is SEVEN!  Crazy.


comment 0


Seven years ago the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me nestled so sweetly in my arms after 41 weeks of waiting (you can read about it here and here).

Evan has been the most wonderful little person since day one.  The sweetest baby.  The sweetest most chill toddler and the greatest big brother.

He’s our little slice of Heaven and today he is Seven. Happy Birthday my sweet soul:


Cannot wait to celebrate so much today! ‚̧


comment 0

Little Life Update

We have been REAL busy over here friends! ¬†My oldest kiddo, Evan, is going to 2nd grade and is currently loving summertime. ¬†He’s also currently annoyed that everyday I tell him to pick up his math facts book and fill out pages and read his something treehouse books (I bought him a whole set 75 bucks and the deal was he’d read one book a week we are currently lucky to get through a CHAPTER a week). ¬†He definitely rather just hang outside, preferably in Grandma Debbie’s pool. ¬†My other little dude, Michael, is gearing up to start school this fall too. ¬†He knows nothing different than his current crazy routine. The hubby is keeping busy, and I’m doing my very best to not drive him totally crazy.


As for me, well, I’ve been busy doing the daily stuff and busy daydreaming about…


MAV becoming a big bro! ¬†We are adding another little Villa to the family¬†soon. ¬†I’ve held out on this stuff for a while because being me and a weekend photographer I wanted the perfect shots. ¬†I wanted the coolest announcement and lots of bells and whistles. ¬†Well today I finally pulled out (what I think is) the first onsie my mom bought for little one and told my kids (both nice, dirty and picture perfect…) to go outside as the sun sorta set. Michael brought a transformer and I bribed him with waffles for dinner… You do what you have to. ¬†I got [no] perfect shots but there it is – little Villa V3 coming soon.


Evan my perfect angel has been, well Evan. ¬†Michael is also excited but also has no idea what he is in-store for. ¬†Anywho, plan is to keep you all updated on my little blog. ¬†I’d also like to try a little vlog, but alas big ideas over here and little execution.

Join us on our journey! Follow me at @Jen.Stays.Well on Insta for updates and blog posts ‚̧ Later, friends!




comment 0

SUMMER Vacation

Hey ya’ll.

How’s life treating everyone? ¬†I hope fantastic.

We have just-ish returned from a fantastic vacation. ¬†This is the first time in the LONGEST TIME – maybe ever? That Hector and I have been off for two weeks with both children – again maybe EVER (even when he babies were born I’m thinking Hector only had a week off… and just a day with MAV) in the course of our relationship together. ¬†This time off has been so amazing, restful and just down-right good for the soul.


White sand, blue water, brown babies. ¬†That’s what last week really consisted of. ¬†We headed down to St. Pete’s area for a week of GLORIOUS HEAT and sunshine. ¬†So many people gave opinions of, “YOU ARE GOING TO FLORIDA IN THE SUMMER? ¬†It’s going to be HOT” – and well sure it was, but seems like Chicago was just as hot seeing the state of my outdoor plants and Chicago does not have ocean front property where dolphins literally frolic in the sunshine… ¬†The Gulf gave us a beautiful breeze and with a pool and the ocean we were happy as clams. ¬†It is summer, I’m here for the heat. ¬†The sun, the sea.


Trying to get them to smile together for pictures is getting more and more difficult. ¬†I suspect sand and sea callings were at odds most of the time. ¬†You see, my Evan, he’s quite the fish.


He spent loads of time enjoying the sea and the rest of the time was spent in the pool.  MAV enjoyed the sand.  He took half of the beach up the pool shower each day.

My dear friend Katie¬†has spent many a years at this beach. ¬†She called it magical and seriously that’s just what it is. ¬†Each morning dolphins would roam up and down the coast. ¬†We’d sit with our coffee and a book (I have read two books TWO books so far on this vacation, more on that later) on the amazing porch and just listen to the waves crashing and our dear dolphin friends (almost like clockwork) would be slowly strolling near the shore. Heaven.


Katie and Evan ^ she’s the best, huh? I must say too I had amazing beach hair on this trip. ¬†Head to my insta account to see (jen.stays.well). ¬†Katie and her beautiful family were so much fun to hang with. ¬†The kids got along great (duh, practically besties) and the adults played hours of rummy.

I have nothing more to say other than this trip was exactly what everyone needed. ¬†What my soul needed. ¬†What my family needed. ¬†Even the drive (though long and likely our first and only one, ha) was stunningly beautiful (many pictures on my insta… jenlmvilla).

I’m working on me quite a bit these days. ¬†With work and kids and life you just sorta lose too much. ¬†I find myself longing to just immerse myself in my children and family and that’s what I have been doing… but it’s time to rebalance and find some ME time so I can continue to grow and thrive in my own right.

Sea is healing. ¬†The beach is where the soles of my feet speak deeply to my soul and heart. ¬†Feeling all the feels, bits of white sand, jagged sea shells and burrowing mussels. ¬†No matter where you are make sure you make sure you are #livingthegoodlife we’ve only got one and it’s mostly about perspective. ¬†‚̧

xo friends,

until next time which I always hope is sooner rather than later… but you know, life.