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:


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:


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.




Life with MAV

Michael is 20 something months old.  So funny, with Evan I would know basically how hold he was to the minute.  With MAV I totally have been doing 2 things 1- saying “he’s one, he’s almost one and a half, he is one and a half” He is currently one and half and that’s all I can remember.  🙂 2- I actually use a friend Katie’s son as a benchmark because he is under one and his birthday is super close to MAV’s so I just pay attention to her posts and add a year, then forget into the month, Ha!  Tim (Katie’s husband) was talking about his son at work recently telling me what he is up to and I say “wow! at only six months old?” – Tim: “Uh, no he’s 8 months” – HAHA.

I also wrote a lot more about Evan’s development.  But with two little dudes, a dog, husband and house – oh and a full-time job – let’s be real I haven’t been able to sit and write much.  BUT MICHAEL IS AMAZING.


This child just is the best.  He’s so funny, so curious and sooooo sweet.  He is HUGE, loves to talk and loves to run, play and generally not ever sit still:


Sound familiar?  He’s definitely my boy.  A momma’s boy in every sense of the word (sitting on my lap now pushing my arms away from the keyboard).  He ADORES his brother and our neighbors – at this morning’s 7 am walk outside he ran right to Hannah’s looking for Decky and Finn (sounds more line “inn”):


(See Hannah, my kids creep too! haha)

He’s loving summer, loving being barefoot and not afraid of the frequent wipeouts he endures trying to keep up with everyone.  He loves water tables, and water in general – shallow but loves to soak himself.  He’s mastered drinking out of cups without tops and eats all my veggies (for now, Evan did this too – now is on veggie strike typically).  He’s a huge eater HUGE eater.  He loves to tell you about everything he sees “Look! Airplane” – “Hear dat?  vroom vroom” “hear dat? choo choo train!” “Wat was dat?” “look look! garbage truk””mommy evan seeping!” – That was our convo during pictures this morning. ❤ [Follow my snap where i ask him to repeat everything: jlmattes]

We are enjoying are dudes more than anything these days but I selfishly blog so here is my update to friends and myself.

Off to run around with the dudes. Michael did a lot of smiling BEFORE I whipped out the camera this am. ha 🙂



Site Revamp

Well not so much a site revamp, more like making this site more of what it is.  It is still the fit wife a lovable lifestyle!  But it truly is so much more, now that I have a family really truly cherish the wellbeing of our [not so] little family.  Along the lines of my big hairy audacious goal of owning a thriving family wellness center one day my blog is going to really center on wellness.  Lucky for me fitness is a major contributor to wellness. Yoga, running and meditation are going to keep me sane as a take on my greatest challenge and gift: being a mom to the future.  I told Evan today he could be the President.  I won’t push him in any sort of direction but I will encourage him to be the best he can be, bonus points for making other people happy, the environment healthy & of course the country, hell the world a better place.

One of the things I think about a lot is how the environment around me will affect my children.  How my attitude, my drive (or lack of drive!), my bad moments, my awesome moments – they contribute to the environment where I raise my children and where I create the  most important relationships.  I get a lot of “Jen your house will always be a mess” or “just relax” – and I feel like telling people “don’t you think I’d love to not get anxious around a mess?  Don’t you think I wish I could RELAX?  Relax? that sounds freaking ah-mazing.” No. Seriously.  I’m probably as naturally high strung as they come.  So here I’ll write about some awesome things that help me, some terrible things that don’t and I promise the boys will end up making guest appearances.

Part of my site revamp will be slow, today I asked Hector to turn the camera around for me.  I set it up as best I could so he could just snap and we could go.  Pictures are everything to me, I love taking them, editing them and sometimes I like to be in them.  We’ve let the awesome habits fall short due to time, but in the end I go back to my roots – and I want my kids to know that too.  You can have it all and you can have fun on gloomy days, even when your momma keeps asking for kisses:


We kiss and hug a lot in this household.  Love. is. everything. and so is this:


Stay tuned friends!  Go run in the rain, you’ll feel like a badass. 😉 – Spaghetti squash is roasting, I know MAV won’t know the diff but let’s see if I can trick POTUS 2050.


Two Cents.

I am just going to say this:  I am horrified at the way this primary is happening.  What the actual F is going on?  This is to choose the presidential candidate to RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  The next POTUS, I mean I feel like I’m watching a bad new Netflix series, not the good ones I’m used to.  I am honestly terrified that this is the landscape of 2016.  There is so much I love about the United States but there is also so much that needs to be re-evlauated from EDUCATION to the environment to tort reform to the healthcare nonsense.  This country is filled with brilliant minds, beautiful people and OUR CHILDREN.

Why can’t we all take a step the f- back and realize we do not need so much hate and negativity.  Why can’t we all also come to grips that we are capable of doing great things as long as we can find some common ground.  When everyone is grasping at straws to get a vote we get a whole bunch of people who don’t even know what the true platform their maybe candidate is running on.  When we have violence at conventions and hateful words spewing all over Facebook – it’s a terrible state and I’m TERRIBLY sick over it.  Everyone wants that big flashy “I did this” instead of the “this is what is best for our country.”  I’m so sorry people but at this rate the history books will not have the best stories. Let’s get real – people are googling how to leave the United States…

What kind of country – what kind of WORLD are we setting up for our children?  I really do want people to take time to look at who would be best for our country, who we would be proud to have running for office, someone to represent us around the WORLD.  Open your history books people, we’ve already found out that certain things put us on a bad path, why would we want to repeat those things, expecting a different outcome?  I mean, what is driving people’s thought process here?  I really feel like I missed something crucial – I understand people want change but not thinking about consequences is what got us here.  It’s so hard to look at my beautiful children and think that any progress we’ve made could be squandered; or any future progress can be diverted.  It’s so simple, get back to the basics.  Like a bad diet; if you change it slowly you realize big change.  When you do the next “fad” diet you end up with rapid weightless followed by a sleuth of other issues because you didn’t have a BALANCED SUSTAINABLE DIET, you also typically end up in worse shape than when you started.

Also, for the record.  My husband is an immigrant.  Some of my best friends are immigrants even more are FIRST generation.  America is one giant pot of immigrants, and it’s those differing ideas, those fresh genes, those new traditions and forward thinking that has made us great, given us an edge.  There is a lot to be said to be the country people flee to instead of flee from.

I’m beyond proud to be an American.  I’m proud my children are little mixies and I’ll be proud when everyone realizes we need to create a world that will set them up to create real change and create amazing relationships. Off to do my part in raising my little humans who will know to be grateful, to be human and to be kind and thoughtful of their impact on this world.



Spring Fling

Yesterday was stunning out.  Absolutely stunning.  I can’t remember a day I felt lighter and happier recently.  I’ve always known I’ve been connected to amazing weather, probably like many people, but my mood is still on a natural beautiful day higher fresh warm air and sun.

Of course I took some pictures. My boys loved the nice weather as much as I did.  We went to Costco, Grandma Debbie’s and then to a nearby forest preserve where we watched all the deer just hanging in the field and the boys practiced running away from the camera… in the mud:


We took Mia and Gma’s famous hat:


We left happy and really dirty.  Both ended up shoeless and pantless in their carseats:


It was fun to get out and run.  This week I had a pretty terrible fall downtown and my body is all funny still.  I fell on my self side, walked funny for a day and now my right hip and back and just all of me hurts.  It’s funny because yesterday chasing the boys I thought to myself “this better not be the feeling of aging because it’s Bull$%*^ if it is” – so last night when I got home I did a whole lot of stretching and day dreaming my my bestie’s reformer, she’s definitely inspired me to step up my Pilates game and I’ve been researching studios and creating a side fund for a reformer of my own (probably will take me 3 years to save for, ha!) but with kiddos investing in home equipment just makes the most sense for me.  It’s great to get to the studio but it’s both expensive and not easy to juggle and let’s not even discuss my inherent guilt of being away from the boys all the time.  I’d rather wake up early run downstairs and do things or stretch and walk when boys go to sleep.  Fitness and activity is something I want to show them is possible and luckily when it’s nice out we get to do things together – chasing a three year old and one year old around is definitely a workout because they of course go in opposite directions 70% of the time. 😉

I love them, so that was our fling with spring. Today we are going to do laundry. Woot. I’ll leave you with what most of my pictures yesterday looked like, the backs of the kiddos:


Let’s Talk About Love

Today being Valentine’s Day and all – let’s chat about love.  So many people are Valentine’s Day haters.  “It’s fake, a made up holiday, blah. blah.” I must admit I may have felt this way at one time while browsing the hallmark isles… But to be honest I now have no space for that nonsense and that’s until well just 5 minutes ago when I made up my mind lol.  It really goes back to the whole idea of life is what you make of it. That’s just the honest truth.  A lot of people would then tell me “that’s because you have had someone to share it with” and that’d be totally and absolutely correct.  Every year I have lots of people to share it with.  Besides my “partner”, my mom, my dog, my boys, my dad, my brother, sister, friends, Netflix… You get the idea.  It’s a day to just draw a heart, eat a chocolate and remind yourself to be grateful for all those in your life.  I will also say this.  Nothing trumps this:


I want to teach Evan to love fiercely. I want him to tell people he loves, that he loves them – often. I want him to hug people tightly and tell them how he feels. And someday I hope he does a little extra for his special someone(s) on this day.

I want him to own his feelings and be the gentle kind loving soul that he is to everyone he meets.  I seriously am just so enamored with this child.  He’s just the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to Hector and I. Without a shadow of  doubt I know he will go on to do great things, who knows what things… But I want him to LOVE what he does and I want him to love sharing that LOVE with the people around him. I want him to get excited about Valentine’s Day and share smiles and giggles.  Some years will be harder, but I’ll remind him there is always someone to love and I will always be his backup Valentine (I selfishly hope that he picks me to be his first Valentine… OR at least not always be runner up or second… or third… 😉 ).

Today is a day to celebrate relationships.  They are what gives true meaning to life.  They are what brings happiness and they are what makes life worth living. I hope everyone had a wonderful day and shared it with someone special.  Even if that someone special is just you.  I mean, what’s wrong with loving YOURSELF.  Doing something extra special for you.  I bought myself pjs that say: #Selfie #nofilter #flawless and a candle that said “Be Grateful” and I just took deep breaths and appreciated the wonderful people around me… and maybe a small piece of a heart shaped pizza from Lou’s.


The Boys.

Happy weekend.  I’m attempting to blog with my sweetie on my lap – wish me luck and thank you Baby Einstein and apple.  Michael – oh sweet Michael.  I’m going to give you a quick update on my sweetest little face, first:


MAV is seriously just such a joy.  He’s just so happy, pretty much all the time. He’s mastered the art of walking.  He started earlier than Evan did in an attempt to keep up with his big bro.  He’s just the best.  When Michael was about six months old we tried to start solids and it was almost scary how he wanted ZERO part of it.  I thought he would never eat.  But at 14 months old (almost 15!) he can – and will – eat just about anything. Ha. Especially all the stuff I do not want him to eat.  We are still nursing a big (queue the ugly eye rolls from nursing haters, look away folks I’m sticking my middle finger high up in your face). He’s quite adventurous. His favorite thing to do is climb. He can go up AND down the stairs now without issue (still scares the hell out of me).  He’s working on talking, he’s a parrot for sure and has a good mix of Spanish and English words.  He says “Hec tor” a lot. Oops. ha. But Agua and Mas are used frequently.  Mamamamamamamama is still his favorite and I love love that it’s usually accompanied by a sprint and arms raised in my direction, as he gets close it changes to the soft “up.” *sigh* my heart just flutters for my boys.  Michael LOVES music, he sings and dances oh and he ABSOLUTELY ADORES EVAN:


Evan loves him so much too. It’s just so cool to watch them interact.  I find myself just watching them and hugging and kissing them so much.  They are just the best. Mr. Evan is 3.5, and he speaks as though he’s 12. He has jokes, he’s extremely witty and he is the most loving, gentle, kind human being. I wish I could give myself credit for this, but honestly it just came with him it’s totally natural and God-given.  I’m so lucky to call them my boys.

Evan is just about potty trained.  I’m bringing this up because this has been the crappiest experience of parenting so far because I cracked under the pressure of “peers” not really peers because my friends and true support system wouldn’t have ever told me I was failing but it’s no secret that a lot of kids are potty trained before 3.5 and so many people would give me the stare of “he isn’t potty trained yet?  My kid was potty trained at 3 months old” “really? still in diapers? sucks” “Is he wearing diaper still?” “how hold is he?”.  I found my ugly parent with this and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly forgive myself for it.  I would become so frustrated with him not wanting to use the potty and that frustration after a long day of work, driving, cold, etc. would definitely not treat him like it was “ok” to still be in diapers.  Of course, hindsight, I feel freaking terrible I treated him like this even if it was only sometimes.  He just wasn’t ready.  Now that HE decided he was ready it’s been the easiest experience and has only made me feel crappier, ha!  So he will get lots of bribes for being so awesome.  I love you Evan, I’m sorry I allowed society to make me an asshole, even as an adult I am learning to not let peer pressure get to me. I just hope you are more graceful in your adulthood with this and your children.  That said, because he was so ready, he just goes to the potty by himself! ha already. It’s quite amazing.


Today we are going to clean up, and get out.  Chicago is a bit cold, a bit snowy and we are ready to get up and out!  I’ll be doing laundry all weekend long and really trying to continue the “purge” not sure where all this stuff came from but it really  needs to leave.

I need to bust out my camera and get some new shots of the boys! God knows only 239K pictures isn’t enough. Ha!



Oh Hey!

My the landscape of NYE has changed for our household.  As exciting as it is to see some people partying hard, I’m happy to just be at home and sleeping by 10:30.

This holiday season has been super laid back, exactly what we needed going into a new year. 2015 was a good year. Our babies have thrived, we have grown and our hearts are full and grateful.

This year we will continue to set the bar high, be humble, be grateful. I’m looking to continue to expand my little photography obsession and really challenge myself fitness-wise.  With two kids, moving around is easy but finding quality time in my day to focus on my favorite fitness activities has proven pretty difficult.  As I’m quiet a fan of mat workouts – I typically have a little dude or two vying for my attention during them though.  It’s great because I love that Evan challenges me to races around our house, or squat challenges. However, it’s difficult too because I can’t focus on just myself.  I struggle with this immensely because I know this time that they want to be with me is not going to be forever, and being away from them for most of the day makes it super difficult – I feel crazy guilty. I mean look at this face:


Another problem I have: falling out of love with my gym.  I’ve written blogs about breaking up with gyms and finding new homes.  I must say, once you have that place where you feel comfortable to do your thing – it’s hard to replicate unless you find a new home.  I’ve tried a couple gyms since leaving Loyola Fitness Center and I’m just totally disappointed in them all.  I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t love it.  What do I love? A heated yoga session in the dead of winter.  I’m putting it on today’s agenda.

To start the year off right, I’m also scrubbing down my house of sickies. Happy New Year!!!


OH -For the Things I Love

I started to write a post around my birthday discussing how I actually like aging.  Because I’m slowly learning more and more about myself. Likes, dislikes – things I should spend time on, thinks I shouldn’t – relationships I want to develop, relationships that I don’t –  I love being a mom, love working (usually 😉 ), love taking care of my home (minus folding laundry and picking up dog poop), and generally enjoy being able to try to manage time doing things I love.  This year has been an immense year of growth, trying to find my rhythm and why some weeks are challenging as hell, some remind me that this is the only life you have and I find bliss and peace everywhere I can.


I’ve always been a thinker – I think all the time, makes it difficult to sleep sometimes difficult to focus on one task at hand because I have a million things floating in my brain.  I used to think exercise was my only release but I’ve found comfort in taking pictures, reading to my boys, and attempts at meditation. I’ve also found that forcing myself to get through something has helped me focus on something longer (ie those difficult coloring books, running an extra half mile or pushing myself in a challenging yoga pose just when I think I can’t I tell myself f-you, you can). Projects outside my scope of BAU at work have also helped a bit because I feel like I’m doing something bigger than my job title, hopefully making changes that might HELP an employee get through something.  It is very natural for me to put more on my plate, because for some reason I never really feel a sense of accomplishment – I never feel I’ve done GOOD enough.

Another thing that has challenged me lately?  Taking pictures.  I’m not quite sure of my goals yet maybe it is to learn Photoshop (haven’t opened it yet for any of my pictures, I’ve done light editing through Lightroom), or the capabilities of my camera – or maybe,probably most likely, it is to give someone a feeling of happiness through photographs the way Shannon (S.D. Wyatt Photography) has done for me.


Yesterday I took a few pictures of one of my very best friends.  This is a raw photo, no edits, no nothing.  It shows that babies aren’t always perfect but the look of calm and control on this momma’s face is true – she’s got it.  She’s in control and knows what her baby wants and needs, it’s truth, in a picture and I love it:


Then the moments with my boys, it is a challenge to NOT pick up the camera and try to capture everything with them – and just be in the moment.  I love them more than anything on the entire planet (again, no edits):

evan evanmav

This year I’m still finding it challenging to fit everything in and typically things for me fall by the wayside – actually too often they do.  So I’m making it a new goal to make sure I make time to get away, by myself, and nurture the things I need to nurture – for myself.

I’ll continue to overdo – it’s just who I am but in the meantime I’m going to fill my day with baby snuggles, laundry (yuck), and some homework.

Love. Light. Peace.

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Well. Year one party for MAV – is a wrap.  As my boys literally fight over cheerios in front of me I’m going to attempt to tell you how much fun we had at Michael’s Camp themed birthday party!

I tend to overdo things.  I do sorta-well under pressure (ie, I’ll panic to those close to me but somehow pull something off – not to my perfect idea in my head of what it should be but successful in a sense).  So I’m here to share what we did for Michael’s party.

We went with the camping theme because I’m obsessed with all things woodsy right now.  I swear by adding neutral serving staples to my party pockets (ie, apothecary jars that have been to several events or cool cake platters that I’ll stack and use to hold cupcakes) and knew I loved the rustic things and could use them in other settings (Thanksgiving!!).  So I’ve been scoping Marshall’s for deals on things like that.  I’m also a huge fan of Michael’s who seems to have killer deals on cool things – and Amazon of course:


Target was also essential they had awesome burlap pennants that I was able scoop up every trip 🙂 We also took time to bake some amazing cupcakes!!  Thanks momma mattes for the help we even did homemade buttercream icing.  Not good for you, but better than the store bought junk!  We made tons of oatmeal cookies, had smores things to go and of course the trail mix bar (using cool Chinese to-go containers).

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Staying true to my roots I also made a last minute cake topper that I set on fire after this picture:



I have a pretty small house and was CRAZY blessed that the weather was spectacular.  I prepared for it not being so awesome by buying an outdoor heater (and praying, a lot – but this outdoor heater is so awesome I will likely buy another for my patio). My amazing mom got a jump house that the boys went INSANE for – we will never not get one for any future parties it was that popular.


They had so much fun (so did I!!!).  I envisioned tents of sorts as a front yard display to show people there was a cool party going on and my husband came through with these SPECTACULAR teepees!  DIY!  When I looked up what I wanted (Land of Nod) I was like “uh. no.”  But used them as an inspiration point. So Thursday night my husband did this:


Just twine, super long (8ft!) poles, and painter’s tarp.  SO. Fun.

The day of the party I can’t say enough how perfect the weather was:


We connected the teepee’s with my favorite lights ever so at night it was pretty magical:


Oh and put together a fire pit of course!

We also requested that guests wear their best plaid or flannel shirts!  It made for awesome pictures:

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But the best thing of all in this party?  Seeing the most important people in our lives.  Everyone who was invited and everyone who came, mean THE WORLD to our family so it was such a blessing everyone came to celebrate our special little guy!  We had an AMAZING TIME!!

Until next time, from #CAMPMAV – Nicole waives you goodbye!


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