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Birthday Tradition + Evan is 5!!

Happy Saturday!

I’m writing this post with my 5 year old sitting my lap, head on my shoulder, snuggling and drinking a #fab4smoothie. It’s like I’ve gone to heaven.  He’s sad his daddy went to work, I think he’s been enjoying weekends when we are all together as a family because last weekend we had 3 whole days together.

I’ve written how I’m loving our little adventures in this post and keeping in the theme we took Evan to Wisconsin Dells for his birthday!  This is the second year we’ve done a mini trip for his birthday instead of a party and it is pretty safe to say it might become a tradition – a mini trip instead of a birthday party.  When I do parties I go a bit crazy see a couple examples here and here.  I LOVE the craftiness of it all but like all big events they are expensive, end too quickly and the cleanup is just my favorite part 😉  – I guess next year I should have a party to just clean up the aftermath LOL. Doing a weekend away not only ends up being so special for Evan (3 whole days of celebrating!!!) but also it’s filled with 3 days of lots of memories and not as much prep for party drama.

We had a really wonderful time.  Wisconsin Dells is a massive tourist whateveryoucallit.  You get to this place you just see tons of billboards advertising a gazzilon things to to do, colorful motels, signs for resorts, hotels and just TONS of roller coasters, mini golf places, water parks… Loads of people with a similar weekend getaway idea like yours.  This year we did lot of what Dells became popular for in the first place,  the Dells.

We enjoyed a river boat tour of the Upper Dells in the rain.  Actually I really recommend you going on a day with a bit of light rain like we did because they don’t pack the boats which have an upper and lower level which means HALF the people and I’d suspect a much more enjoyable experience.  They had two land landings that were absolutely breathtaking but really tight short paths so with double the people it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.  I’ll try to get a video from the go pro because it was hard to snap pictures – none of these even begin to describe how breathtaking it is in person:

This was absolutely kid friendly.  The boys really enjoyed the paths through the landings (you can also see the tight space below):

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Our second day out there we rented a boat for the morning on Lake Delton.  Again crazy how we got so lucky with the weather.  This all sport lake is public so the traffic can get outrageous, but because the am started out overcast we had the lake basically all to ourselves which meant a few laps just us.  Evan’s vintage Snoopy PFD – I can’t even.

Grandma Debbie always the best around – got into the water with them:

We even saw a BALD EAGLE perched atop a tree on our way back when the lake was getting busy because the sun was making an appearance.  Very. Cool.

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We stayed at a resort with a water park so the kiddos really enjoyed that.  While the boys napped with my parents Hector and I went on a hike.  The hike was AWESOME but the bugs were a-plenty.  I forgot bugspray and got eaten alive.  Do yourself a favor, don’t bring the kids and cover your extremities with LOOSE fitting clothing not leggings that they eat right through and dear LORD use bug spray.  Just do it.  Let me be the example of what not to do. If you don’t do chemicals (trust me I have all the fancy no chemical bug sprays but will take something more powerful next time) take a shower in essential oils before and bring a bucket with you for the trip or maybe one of those bee suits. My legs were horrific after that hike.  Upside?  I walked quickly and kicked my heart rate up – it  made for a good workout – not upside, racing through the views.

Thanks for letting me share some of our adventures with you!  We had a great time and those things inspire us to just keep moving and take in all the pretty things around us.

I’m off to start some of the many outstanding projects for the day.  Have a fab weekend!  I’ll leave you with the face on the Wisconsin River:

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Please like me on Facebook!! << what. Plugs are a thing.

 

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Fab Four Smoothie

Good day!  Wrote this several days ago and have since made oodles of smoothie combos so I’ll def come back with more suggestions!

So I mentioned in my last post I’m reading the book Body Love (well listening to, I grabbed the audiobook, I suggest hard cover for this as there is lots reference material and sciencey words HA).  Kelly talks a lot about her #Fab4smoothie.  She actually swears by it, and says a lot of her clients (who include Molly Sims & Jessica Alba) really subscribe to her Fab 4 combos: protein, fat, fiber and greens (well, duh)!  I’m giving it a go because, why not.  It’s not like I don’t already eat clean but I don’t balance my meals always with those four categories and it’s pretty straight forward so I thought I’d share today’s smoothie, it was… not bad! PLUS I’ve been doing extensive research about how terrible sugar is for you so I’ve been really limiting/eliminating sugar anyway (Kelly would approve!).

I’ve been a smoothie making machine for some time.  My beloved Vitamix is honestly the best thing since sliced bread IMO so I’ve thrown all sorts of concoctions in there.  One super important thing in all those?  Fruit.  Def.  I mean, my fave that I lovingly call my own Mean Greens Spicy Machine (celery, pineapple, spinach/super greens, lemon, coconut water, fresh ginger + Cheyenne pepper!) doesn’t have too much in it but it’s certainly more than what Kelly would like us to do as far as sugar content (coconut water + pinapple). She’d like you to limit the fruit to 1/4 cup or none and if you use coconut water – no fruit.

I’m sure I’m like a lot of people when you go “I need fruit in my smoothies…”  But once you try it – it’s not so bad!

Today’s smoothie was just these simple things plus Cacao Powder and two really big handfuls of greens:

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All these are super clean – the protein powder obviously the most processed (I also have been using this which is collagen protein peptides, more on those in another post).  The nut butter has one ingredient (cashews!).

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Super buttery! I also found this nut milk brand and am really pleased with it and the ingredients:

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Chia seeds for fiber a ton of greens and I had myself a super simple very satisfying smoothie (also threw in some ice).  This really keeps me satiated for some time, that’s a huge part of her book – that we should eat to satiety and and not confuse our system with sugar and insulin spikes which cause a bunch of different issues.

As I continue to follow this I’ll def tell you about my experiences along the way, but encourage you smoothie lovers need a simple quick breakfast people – to try a non-fruit (low fruit) #fab4smoothie and checkout Kelly’s Website for other smoothie ideas.  I do promise a full review on her book I have about 30 minutes left to listen to and I think I will be purchasing a hard copy for reference material!

Chat soon!

 

 

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Adventure

I mean, what’s the definition of adventure?  To me it could be cleaning under my bed.  I never know how some things get under there. But I actually like to associate it with movement and exciting places.

Yesterday I made my husband and kiddos run to the beach.  Ok not literally run, we got into a car but I just said let’s go!  Evan’s happy place is the water.  He could live in the water if he could – as we drove downtown we were just dressed in regular clothes because it was chilly.  Honestly the boys weren’t even dressed warm enough.  The waves were NUTS.  I mean Crazy.  There was no beach! There was about two inches of water covering what typically is a packed with umbrellas and towels beach after several hundred feet about 50 feet where waves started breaking was a sandbar where people were watching waves from.

This is what my chat sounded like to Evan.  “Evan, honey, walk slowly so you don’t splash water everywhere.  If you get cold we’ll go back.”

His response:

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He just flew through the water.  It could have been bath water by his reaction.  But this is what I love about being a parent. To Evan it’s simple, he loves water – he sees water, he enjoys it.  Better that than let him eat all the chocolate cake he wants.  I choose my parent battles.

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After running though the water we made it to the sandbar and he just loved digging his hands and feet into the sand.  So. Simple. No toys, no nothing.  Just me screaming,
“Evan don’t go into the water… Evan be careful… Evan those are big waves PLEASE be careful…  EVAN NOT THAT FAR” Then there was Michael, his take not his?  Terror.  This was an Evan party.

I love being with my guys.  They make my heart so full.  We also tried out some new gear – can’t wait to share some of that with you all!  Just need to figure that out… but this post is mostly me taking pictures of my almost 5 year old.  Someone hold me.  Seriously.  This post is also about me encouraging everyone to just get up and go.  Yes it’s easier to sit down and binge watch GOT, I mean I certainly did that this winter & rushed home for my dose of Jon Snow after this beach adventure.

Make as many days you can an adventure.  Go walk your neighborhood or drive somewhere prettier.  Take LOTS of pictures.  My mom always jokes about my hundreds of pictures but I will never regret them.  Ever.  In fact I’m upgrading to video!  Need the best of both worlds.

The last piece of this post is to wish you all a very Happy Monday!  Let’s kick ass this week.  Tomorrow I plan on a 5am row.  Join me on Snapchat friends:  jlmattes

Go into your week with this enthusiasm and nothing will stand in your way.

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Therapeutic Bed of [Plastic] Nails

On my continued search for wellness I’ve been trying to spend some time reading, listening to podcasts or listening to someone read to me (audible) focusing a good chunk of this (75%) on health and wellbeing.  I’ve been a reader of the Fitnessista blog for some time and recently she did a post about the book Body Love and mentioned the podcast The Skinny Confidential.  I do not go running to buy books she likes but I did listen to the Podcast on Kelly’s book and bought the book on audible.  I’ll review it when it’s over but check out the episode (70) here.

Queue the life-change; well not really life change but added addictions… I’m quickly catching up on podcasts with Lauryn and Michael and really enjoy their back and forth banter.  They make this look so effortless and natural but I know they are crazy savvy business people and everything is well thought out. ANYWAY if you want something for a steady state cardio day or a metro train ride… Check them out.

On to the meat and potatoes of this post.  I am on a constant journey to relieve stress.  I’ve been a huge fan of acupuncture but haven’t made an appointment in a while.  I haven’t read up too much on the benefits of acupressure but I just bought this mat and holy OHMYGAUD.  It’s crazy amazing.

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The spikes (pictured above) are SHARP. I remember unpacking it like wth!? How am I supposed to use this?  Michael and Evan both have put their little paws on it and are like MOM that is SHARP.  So after the fear of it and with a shirt on (you should do it with a shirt off or very thin shirt to start) I laid down on this legit bed of nails.

As I laid down, I may have said “fuck” or “jesus” a few times.  It was not so pleasant and I definitely wanted to just get right back up but I remembered it said a few minutes to get used to the sensation and it’ll be worth it.

Sweet. Baby. Jesus. Sticking with it was so. worth. it.  I’m not one of those people who enjoys pain – not at all.  So I’ll tell you this, the couple minutes of discomfort while your body figures out what the hell you are doing – push past it and the calm that rolls over you is out of this world.  Game changer.

You can thank me later. Do an Amazon search there are tons of makers of this thing because I did call this the bed of nails post I’ll also give love to the Home for Bed of Nails which just so happens to sell this mat, HA.

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Mr. EJV

Today I got back on the blog bandwagon.  I love the blog bandwagon.  I think everyone should have a place to put memories, favorite things, what you are up to, what you aren’t up to and, well, just sit and type/write.  I have always been a on again, off again blogger.  But I have had this blog for over 5 years.  How do I know?  I started it before I had my first son, Evan.  Friday, he will be 5.

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I’ve written a lot about Evan.  About my pregnancy, shared by birth story (here & here), wrote a post being honest about how I felt when I found out I was pregnant.  I’d share milestones and tell you what our family was up to.  Of the thousands of words I’ve typed… None would ever do my sweet Evan justice.

Evan has been amazing from the start.  He was the sweetest baby, toddler and is a fabulous big brother.  He’s grown to be a sweet loving caring boy.  He is so genuine.

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and handsome 😉 – but he is just wonderful.  He loves arts and crafts, his scooter, his friends (especially Finn!), and our family.  He is so in touch with his feelings and is a lover of life. He’s happy.  So happy.  He started soccer last fall and a mother came up to me and just said “he’s so happy, all the time” and my heart just filled with pride, such pride.  Deep down that’s all I want for him, happiness.  I want him to be happy, spread happy.  Stay positive and sweet and just love. life.

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It’s really ironic how we are told to teach our children to be good humans.  Ironic how? He’s taught me to be a better human.  He’s taught me to slow down, not get mad, smile.  He wants everyone around him to be happy.  He sees life so simply.  He loves sugar, hates vegetables but today tried a piece of baby spinach from my salad because he knows health is important to me.  At 4 years and 360 days old he knows how to do this.  I fear for his sensitivity because I don’t want to ever see him hurt… I do not look forward to those days but I know he will get through them… because he is amazing.

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Evan, my love, thank you for being my first baby.  The one who taught me I am good at something, who made me feel whole.  Thank you for being my angel here on earth, my light on the darkest of days.  My true hero, you are just everything.  Happy happy almost birthday to you.  I will get you a spider man cake so we can re-use your decorations from last year (he remembers! wants to recycle!!!).  I will also kiss and hug you so much. So. Much. and I apologize in advance for the tears.  They are happy tears because I just don’t know how I was so lucky to become YOUR mom.

Love you to the moon, sweet boy.  I want to hug your face the way your brother does:

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July [Face] FAVS + Boys

Well hello there!

I’ve been off doing a bunch of stuff but decided to pop back in with an brief update on my sweet boys and some super. favorite. FACE things as of late.

A couple of weeks ago my wonderful sister took me on a weekend trip to Minnesota.   While there, she spoiled me rotten and I picked up a couple finds that I. AM. OBSESSED WITH. so I just feel I MUST share.   Walking off the plane after a glass of vino… we stumbled into the in-airport Kiehl’s and this amazing sales guy just swept me off my feet into happy skin land. It’s like angels were singing when he put this mask on my hand.  I mean, he really actually had me at turmeric – a powerful anti-inflammatory.   I don’t know if you’ve jumped on the turmeric bandwagon, but I have. Hard.  I try to add numeric to a bunch of things and even have it in pill form so why not jump in and put it on my face.  So I bought it and I’ve been walking around daydreaming about the feeling of this heavenly mask on my face.

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This mask is so amazing and energizing and it smells like heaven.  I bought it with a broken cap because i just couldn’t leave without it and they were sold out of all the travel sizes (and had to buy the travel version because I didn’t have a checked bag.  Really try it.  You will LOVE it & you’re welcome.

The one place I do not skimp out on are things that go on my skin and into my body.  If you know me you know I am certainly not a makeup person.  I’m a moisturize, bb/cc cream, maybe foundation, mascara and eyeliner out-the-door-in-5-minutes-girl.  Sometimes I’ll add a dash a bronzer or blush to my cheeks so it doesn’t look like I live indoors.  Anywho, I’ve done a bunch of different moisturizers but this one, someone pinch me.  It’s my favorite and I will put together a fund forever to always have it in my face arsenal.

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Yep another Kiehl’s product (why did it take me so long to find this stuff?!) – Rosa Arctica lightweight cream is just as described, lightweight and magical. Well I added the magical part, but it is.  I look forward to the two times a day I put this on my face. It is just spa-like and I cannot help but just rave about it.   Key Ingredients:

  • Rosa Arctica (Haberlea rhodopensis)
    • Known as a regeneration flower, it is able to survive up to 31 months in a dry-out cycle, by falling into anabiosis. When proper moisture conditions are restored, it returns to life within hours. On skin, it works to jolt cellular vitality, stimulating skin’s own collagen and elastin production.
  • Vitamin E
    • Naturally occurring in plant leaves and skin, Vitamin E helps neutralize skin-damaging free radicals and has soothing moisturizing properties
  • White Birch Extract
    • A sugar derived ingredient known for its ability to restore hydration and nutrients to the dermis and epidermis layers of skin . This potent active increases skin elasticity levels and collagen production resulting in restored skin density, volume and thickness.

I’ve been trying to take better care of myself and feel better about the skin I’m in and these products have stood out in my attempt at an at-home spa experience.  I’ll keep updating you on all things I’m obsessed with lately in my journey to wellness and self driven anti-anxiety.  Feeling better about myself really helps with those anxiety flare ups.  I’ve been off spending time remembering the things that make me, me and keep me my positive self.  Some of these are a way of thinking but some of them are strictly SELF CARE!!  I already can’t wait to show you my new deodorant and bed of nails (this is the pain that just feels so good!)… I might be able to share those with you later this weekend.

The boys are THRIVING like beautiful summer flowers after spring showers:

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Michael is 2 going on 10 and Evan will be 5 (hold me!) next week. I love living through their smiling simple happy lives – you know when they pickup a dandelion and make wish for cake for dinner:

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Off to get a bunch of stuff done.  Cannot wait to chat with you all again real soon!

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2016 Wrap Up

Well, there it is. Another year gone.  This year like all the years before I pledged to be a better me.  Turns out, there were a lot of things that made this year particularly tough. I won’t dwell on all the shitty things that happened.  It’s not worth it, they have taken way more than what is reasonable of my (and a lot of the world’s) time and energy.  We just all need to really stand up for what we think is right and raise really good little humans.

This year I’ll call the year I realized that sometimes you just are depressed.  Not sure where it comes from potentially it’s chemical.  Maybe made worse by a lack of sleep, compounded by too much anxiety and the normal life stressors.  This year I lost the ability to normalize feelings and exercise my typically hard coded self control – maybe a byproduct of depression? Who knows I’m not a psychiatrist I’m only as good as my research on doctor google. There were blips of normalcy and happiness here and there and there were some highs (that glimpse of YES!).  I just feel like with each step of success there was a sideswipe of something that felt like it wasn’t so successful.  Such is life.

The two not-so-little things that kept my feet moving and face smiling where my humans:

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These guys.  What to say but holy Lord thank you for giving them to me.  Evan and Michael are just the most freaking wonderful little people and I cannot believe they are mine.  Somehow I managed to not completely F them up yet 🙂 – Somehow they are just perfect.  Curious and THEY give me hope for our future.

These kids love things I hate – like Chicago winter:

and find happiness in things that matter and are so simple – like each other and laying under a twinkling Christmas Tree:

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So for 2017 my goal is just to LIVE.  To enjoy the small things and write things down that I’m grateful for at least I know that every single day I get to say family.  Both blood and not.  My work family.  My friend family.  My nuclear family.  Everything family.  The highs of my life are always surrounded by people.  By connections, relationships.  Oh and endorphins.  This girl is going really focus on giving herself the time to stay fit and healthy because that’s the root of what I am.  Mom guilt is so real.  But I need to trust that my family (friends, family, etc) knows that working out and taking time for me – makes me, me.  It makes me a better mom, friend, sister, wife.

So here is to sore muscles, epson salt and essential oils and tiny human hugs and kisses.
Cheers.

Jen.