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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

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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.

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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.


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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! ‚̧


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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!




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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.


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Photography Fun 101

Hey Friends!

Wanted to share with you some of the goodies I’ve used and am currently using on my photography journey. ¬†I am going to share some of the super basics first and hope to make it a series!!! It’s Jen’s Dummy guide to taking pictures take 101. ¬†Today I’m starting with the GEAR. ¬†I’ll cover the cameras I’ve owned and the LENS YOU MUST BUY (and it’s only $125 dollars – fits full frame and crop sensor Canon cameras!).

Some time ago, my husband brought home a Nikon DSLR (similar to this one) ¬†and I really fell in love with figuring out how to use it outside of some people’s beloved auto mode. ¬†With mostly trial and error and not enough Youtube… I was starting to get the hang of all the gizmos and gadgets (really just buttons and dials) attached to the camera. ¬†When my obsession really went insane was when I became pregnant and had my first son, Evan. ¬†Nothing gets you in the mood to take pictures more than an itty bitty still little sleepy baby. ¬†And so my love for photography… Exploded.

Evan’s first trip downtown labor day weekend – BOB pictured with the infant adapter and car seat attached.

BOB is the way to go!! 

After thousands of pictures, an many more blurry pictures after my lens stopped auto focusing… Hector gifted me a new camera. ¬†This camera (Canon 60D, find it used and¬†CHEAP here) ¬†When I got this camera and THIS lens. ¬†My world got flipped upside down in the best way. ¬†This to me, is the best starter kit. ¬†Nikon I’m sure has a similar set up but do yourself a favor if you are just starting out and get a 50mm 1.8f stop (or lower) and get ready to take some amazing pictures. ¬†Another great starter is the Rebel Series by Canon.

My Canon 60D has taken pictures of couples, babies, families and trips. It’s literally been in a couple countries and has been a tremendous workhorse and been a tremendous teaching camera.

Having the ability to use my passion to make other people happy has also brought me tremendous joy. ¬†Getting pictures of growing families and knowing people will have them for a lifetime, and hang them in their homes is the greatest feeling. ¬†That said, I did want to upgrade my gear game. ¬†So this year I’ve upgraded to the Canon Mark III, 5D.

I haven’t had Mark very long and I’m still getting used to the slightly different interface but I’m looking forward to elevating my pictures a bit with some of my new gear.

The other thing that’s used a TON in my life is: Adobe Lightroom. ¬†This really helps edit pictures to give them an edge, fix under exposure, fix eyesores and stuff like that super easily! ¬†HIGHLY recommend Lightroom.

I’ll be updating the blog with some BASICS and hope you will join me for the ride!

What gear do you have? Do you shoot in Manual? ¬†Do you point and shoot? Or are you like “iPhones have wonderful cameras!” (they do!)

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