2016 Goals – Month 1

I shared before I had some goals for 2016, so I thought since we are coming to the end of the first month in 2016 (can you freaking believe it?!), I’d update here my progress.

Regarding the weight loss: I started out at 149.5 lbs and weigh now 146.5 lbs, which is better, yet not really significant since that number fluctuates daily. The lowest I’ve been this month, was a few days ago, at 144 lbs. Again, nothing mayor, but still improvement. I’ll take it as progress.

Regarding the No-Buy: Well I mega crashed and burned there. I realized one of the work trousers I had bought last year was worn out and had to go, and the other two were way too big on me. Not necessarily because I’v lost all that weight, but more so because since I had gained weight and all my pants were too tight, I had both those last year a little bit lose, so I wouldn’t feel tight. The logic, I know. Well, now I needed new black pants for work. I went out to get just that. Yeah, right. I got 5 pairs of pants, 1 blouse, and 2 vests. And I also got two pairs of jeans for Mike. So there went my no-buy in January.

I also bought a little bit of makeup… :( I ran out of deodorant, and the one I use is sold at Sephora. That, I realize now, is very dangerous. Anyhow, I got myself the needed new deodorant (Lavanila the Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Coconut), a not-needed yet wanted eyeshadow palette (UD Naked2 Basics) and a primer (MUFE Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer). I use ebates though, for online shopping, and Sephora had an 8% cash back, so there’s always that.

This month, I’ve also bought a Groupon for a face serum, a lobster roll lunch for two, and yoga classes. The yoga classes though, are also part of the 2016 goals. I need to get back into exercising somehow, and yoga has always been so good for me physical, mentally, and spiritually.

I’ve also bought some toiletries I needed (shampoo, conditioner, body butter lotions, and the sort), but that doesn’t count. As the deodorant from Sephora (only the deodorant), also does not count for the no-buy. Those things are more necessities than wants. The no-buy is really for extras, for those things that are, as we say in Spanish “antojos”.

We went to IKE this weekend and got a drawer unit (Alex 9-drawer unit). We needed that for the study. To actually free up the study closet, and make more room for Mike’s clothes. Poor Mike had his clothes spread out in 3 rooms. Now, at least they are in just 2. But, I’m guessing that doesn’t count either, because technically, we did need that unit.

Regarding meditation: I’ve been on a roll. Meditating every morning I can, which tends to be 4 out of the 7 days of the week. So, all good there.

I think those were it. I didn’t write down goals, or set deadlines this year. I just kinda said aloud that I wanted to lose 20 lbs and go on a no-buy, to save for a house. The yoga, meditation, and exercise bits, I’ve added to the lose weight goal, which I’m thinking is more of a get healthy goal instead. Overall, I think I’m making progress in some areas, and not so much in others. Hopefully, February, will be on the positive end of the balance for all areas. How are you coming along with your resolutions/goals for 2016? Do you have any?

6 Months – Name?

It’s been 6 months since the wedding, so that means it’s our half-anniversary today. I’m not sure how I feel about a 6-month milestone, especially because in February it will be 5 years since Mike and I have been together, and a year-and-a-half since he moved-in and we began living together. So, this 6-month milestone doesn’t seem like a big deal in comparison.

Mike and I were talking about this the other day, and we both feel like not much changed after we got married. Especially not for him, since I was the one who changed my name, he didn’t even have to do that. Well, frankly I didn’t have to do it either. I could have changed nothing regarding my name. But I wanted to help myself identify more with us as a family unit, and taking Mike’s last name has helped me do just that.

I didn’t completely lose my name either. I would never do that. You see, in Venezuela a married woman takes her husband’s last name and it’s placed after both of her family names. In Venezuela, I would be: Jennifer Mata Gómez de McMahon. Incredibly long and very inconvenient. Here in the US, I’ve always been just Jennifer Mata, and now Jennifer Mata-McMahon. Still long, yet not as long as the Venezuelan version, and a bit more convenient.

Of course, people at work still call me Dr. Mata, or Jen Mata, which seems very short and easy. I guess that’s why it’s stuck. Also, 6 months is not enough time for people to get use to the name change. I know I’m not quite use to it yet. Although, outside work, some people just call me Jennifer McMahon, or Mrs. McMahon, which I guess is the oddest of all of those names for me still. It’s interesting how much we identify ourselves with our names, isn’t it? Mata connects me to my Venezuelan roots.

Though, my name has always been an issue for me, or actually not for me, I know how to spell it. It’s been an issue for others. In the US when I say my name, people ask me to spell my last name, and I do spell it for them “M, A, T, A. Mata.” “Double T?, they ask.” “No just one T.” “Oh, Mara, they say.” “… No, MaTa, with a T, not an R, just one T, which sounds like a T. MaTa.” In Venezuela, they don’t know how to spell Jennifer. They don’t ask you to spell your name in Venezuela, they just write it as it sounds. I’ve had my name written it all different “Spanish” ways: Yenifer, Yeniffer, Yennifer. You see J sounds like and H in Spanish. And Y has the J English sound, so of course they would write it with a Y and not a J.  And pronounce it as “Henifer”, when they read “Jennifer”.

The kicker story, was that one time I had applied to a scholarship and got it. When I went to the office and told them my name they looked for my file. There was my file: Jennyfer Mata Gómez, and a second one just next to it: Jenny Fermata Gómez. I smiled and hung my head. I explained to the woman I was both those people, and she had two files for the same person; she had messed up the name. It took her a while to believe me, and realize her mistake, but eventually when Jenny Fermata never showed up to claimed her scholarship, I think she finally realized I was right.

McMahon is no piece of cake either. When people read it, they do not know how to pronounce it. They pronounce all the letters, and as I’ve been told, that’s not right. As it turns out, it’s pronounced McMan, as if the “h” and the “o” did not exist. Another problem is that, when writing it, people often don’t capitalize the second M. So after I’ve spelled it for them, they write as Mcmahon.  I now say: “My name is Jennifer Mata hyphen McMahon, let me spell it for you J, E, double N, I, one F, E, R, Jennifer, M, A, T, A, Mata with one T, hyphen, capital M, c, capital M, a, h, o, n, McMahon. All Ms in my name are capitalized.” Try that for size won’t you? It’s take 5 minutes just to get a person to write my name correctly. To have them then call me Je-Ji ;)

I’m kidding, I love my nicknames. And I have tons of them, but that’s a topic for a different post. I went on a tangent with the whole name thing. My point though, was that not much has changed since we got married, and 6 months doesn’t feel like any major milestone. My name changed and in conversation now, I refer to Mike as my husband. That’s another aspect, I guess I’m still not use to. But other than that, we live in the same place, have the same discussions over the same things, enjoy doing the same things, and carry on with life as we did a year-and-half ago.

I’ll let you know, once we get to the one year mark, if I see any more differences. For now though, the main change has just been my name.



For quite some months now, I’ve been using the Calm app on my iPhone. Have you heard of it? I feel like everyone knows about it already, but by the rare chance you haven’t heard of it yet, I thought I’d share my experience.

I use it mostly every morning. When I need to be somewhere extreemly early, I don’t meditate. Although, once I did practice a commuting meditation while driving, on my way to an elementary school to supervise some of my students. In any case, on days I do meditate, as soon as I wake up, I grab for my iPhone and open the app, and proceed to meditate for 10 to 20 mimutes, depending on the selected session. The app has a lot of different programs to complete, or independent sessions within particular topics,  with different time lengths of meditation one can select from.

So far, I’ve completed several programs: 7 Days of Calm, 21 Days of Calm, 7 Days of Sleep (although I want to do this one again at night, before going to sleep), and 7 Days of Happiness. Currently, I am completing 7 Days of Gratitude. The isolated sessions I’ve tried have been on: Non-Judgment, Calming Anxiety, Calm, Body Scan, Deep Sleep, Deep Concentration, Loving-Kindness, and Confidence.

I have the paid subscription, that allows me to have full access to everything they put out, for a year. They constantly are launching new programs. Right now there’s a new one called 7 Days of Self-Esteem, which I’m probably trying up next.

I used to meditate on my own. In a quiet space, with a candle lit, concentrating on my breath, and letting thoughts come and quickly go on by. It was sometimes harder than others. I started with 5 minutes, and doing one-minute weekly increments, had gotten up to 20 minutes. It worked well for a while, until I stoppped doing it, and getting back on it, starting from 5 minutes again, seemed very hard. It was then that I discovered Calm, and have not looked back since (this was back in September 14th, 2015).

For me, meditation has a great deal of benefits. I not only enjoy it because it helps me concentrate on my breathing and as a result calm myself, but it definitely has helped me be more present in the day-to-day activities and interactions with others. It truly helps me be a calmer and overall happier person. When I don’t meditate regularly, I see the difference. Stress tends to build up and begins to take a toll on me, both physcially and emotionally.

In today’s session on Gratitude, the focus was on being more appreciative of ourselves. At the end of the session we were asked to write down 3 characterisc or abilities of ourselves, for which we are grateful. I jotted down: ability to be kind, compromise, and listen with interest to others. I obviously don’t portray those abilities 100%  of the time. But most likely than not, those would be good descriptors for me. I have an ability, or natural inclination, to be kind, compromise, and listen, and for that I am truly grateful.

Have you tried Calm? If you’re looking into meditating and feel it might be a bit daunting, or don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend this app. I have no affiliation to it, nor am I being paid to review it or recommend it. This is my own, honest opinion and thoughts, based on the experience I’ve had with Calm in the past 4 months. Try it, who knows? You might also benefit from centering yourself and adding a little positivity to your days.

I’m still here – The Update

I left off July 13th, two weeks before the wedding. Things got a bit busy after that, sorry. But let me recap and bring you up to speed to today.

(07-17-15) My family starting arriving for the Wedding. We had a full house for about a week before the wedding; it was crazy and it was great all at the same time. I loved that I had Venezuelan representation in the house. Thank you all, for coming!

(07-24-15) The rehearsal at the church, followed by a yummy rehearsal dinner happened quite smoothly.

(07-25-15) The wedding occurred the day after.  It was not without hiccups here and there, but fortunately no one really noticed and all seemed to enjoy themselves and have a good time. It was memorable, and after all the stress (there was a lot of stress build-up in the preparation), I was glad it was over. It was a beautiful, traditional, Catholic city wedding. Elegant, classic, timeless. Our church was St Vincent DePaul’s Parish and the reception was held at The Murphy. Both unforgettably beautiful spaces filled with history and stunning architecture. We danced the night away. It was fun.

(07-26-15) We spent the night, well only a few hours really, at The James, and flew out to Punta Cana very early the next morning. We spent a week in the Dominican Republic, in an all inclusive resort, with the most delicious all-you-can-eat food. There was a beach at walking distance from our room, several golf courses, a mall, several different restaurants, a few pools, and yoga and tennis classes. It was perfect.  We celebrated Mike’s birthday there at a Michelin star restaurant after a day of golf for him, and yoga and beach for me. It was awesome.

(August) My family was still in town when we got back, so we got to spend some time with them. The first month back was a blur of getting back into normal life mode. Life after the wedding, as I liked to call it. Or getting my life back, which I still refer to daily. If I could go back to before the wedding, I would have taken some things off my plate  during the wedding planning months (like the presidency of my home association, for example), or would have hired a wedding coordinator to deal with some of the idiots we hired before and during the wedding. But anyhow, I’m not doing this ever again, so there’s not much “live and learn” here to remember for next time, thankfully.

(Sometime in September) We sent out Thank You notes to all our guest, for coming to celebrate with us and helping us get ourself going with wonderful gifts and words of wisdom. Thank you!

(Also in September) School started again, and during the Fall term I taught two courses, one I had taught before (now with some modifications) and a brand new (to me) internship. I had to hit the ground running once Labor day had passed. The term went well. I think it’s the term I have enjoyed the most teaching-wise thus far. My students were great and I truly enjoyed teaching and learning from them.

(October) We went to NYC for my birthday. I got to see my very good friend Eleni, who was spending part of her sabbatical in NY, and my wonderful sister surprised all of us, with live entertainment in a party she so graciously hosted in my honor. I love that woman. And a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, accomplished woman she is. I’m sure you would love her too, if you ever met her. My cousin Marco was there too, and that was such a special and heartfelt event.

(November) Was all about wrapping up the term, flying to Orlando for an invited presentation at NAEYC and then Thanksgiving with Mike’s family, up in Wisconsin. It’s always a good time up at Nancy and John’s place. They are such sweet and attentive people, I truly enjoy visiting them. Also, in November there was a situation with my car, which led me to turn it in for a new one. The positive is that I finally got myself the car I had been wanting and saving for for a few years. All my savings had gone into the wedding, so I thought it would take a few more years of saving to purchase it. But as good fortune and hard work would have it, I’ve been doing some consulting work on the side, which allowed me to purchase it sooner than I thought. And just in time too, because my old car really had to go immediately (I’ll tell you the story another time).

(December) Saw us working to get all things done in time to take some time off. We drove to NYC with the boys in-tow. It took us 13 hours, but we made it in one piece, all in one day. We spent about 5 days in Manhattan and then drove up to Hudson, were we spent two glorious weeks in the wilderness. Well, in a beautiful house, with central heating, wifi, and plenty of supplies. We spent Christmas and New Years there, and on the 2nd promptly drove back home.

(January) So far January has been good. I’ve resume my meditating, which I truly believe had much to do with last term being so positive for me. And I’m in the throws of several research and writing projects that I am very excited and motivated about. There is a ton of service on my plate these days too, but it’s ok, I’m not doing anything I don’t believe in, so that’s always a good thing.

This new year 2016 promises to be very busy, it has been so thus far. I have high hopes for it being filled with finished projects and accomplishments work-wise. At a personal level, I’m seeking peace of mind and embracing happiness. I think daily meditation is a good start, but I also think I need to get myself to yoga and exercising again, in order to achieve the happy state. I want to embrace being grateful and stressing less about the small stuff. I want to let things go more, and not strive for perfection as much.

I also need to lose 20 lbs and go on a no-buy phase in order to start saving again, this time for a house. But if I’m being fair to myself, I have started tackling all of those goals already. I have lost about 3-4 lbs (depending on the day), and have stopped buying things I want but don’t need (I was on a makeup buying spree that seemed more like an uncontrolable addition than anything else). The daily meditation really helps me be more present, grateful, and loving. It’s working. I’m on my way to making 2016 all I need it to be. How about you? What have you been up to since we last talked?

T-Minus 2 Weeks

We are only two weeks away guys. Two freaking weeks!!! Actually, it’s less than two weeks. To be exact, we are 12 days away from the wedding day. Anyone nervous yet? Yeah.

I’m stressed, been super stressed lately. But not nervous yet. Hope I don’t get nervous and get over my extra high stress levels, so I can relax and enjoy all of this. Thing are all falling together. Just a few little details to get together, but for the most part it’s out of my hands now, meaning all those hired and contracted vendors should be on it or getting on it next week.

Here we go, yahookitie!!! Wish us luck, and hope for not too many things to go wrong.

Happy 4th!

flag and fireworks

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope you are off to some fun ventures. I have already had a homemade facial, a teeth whitening, and a bubble bath. Pampering anyone?

I hope your 4th is great too!

Happy BDay Max!

2015-06-27 10.50.00 (1)

Maxy turns 7 today.

Happy Birthday, my loud, grumpy and cutest-thing-ever boy!

T-Minus 1 month


(This is so us…)

We are exactly one month away from the wedding date. I haven’t been posting anything about the wedding preparation here. Well, I haven’t been posting anything here lately, wedding related or not.

Anywhoo, a lot of the preparation has been taken care of and we are pretty much set with all the big stuff. I only have left the flowers and center pieces, and the gifts for both the guests and the wedding party. The Hora Loca, is still pending, as well as settling the transportation. But other than that, everything else that was recently pending I have at least touched base with, and will be deciding on this coming week: the food for after the church rehearsal, choosing the cake provider, the make-up and hair tryouts, which I have set appointments for, and buying the tickets for the honeymoon. That’s it, everything else is pretty much set.

One more month people, like Nick says “it’s only 30 days, Je-Ji”!, but who’s counting?

(or is it more like this…?)


Practicing with MakeUp

As I mentioned, I’m debating if I want to do my own makeup for the wedding or if I will go with a professional, so I have been practicing. This is a look I did a few weeks ago.

Every time I see photos of myself really up close, or just plain funny looking, I can’t but sing that old song “con esa cara e’loca…”. Do you know that song? Is it just me, or do you remember that song too? No? Oh, well.

Any way, here are all the products I used, starting from the top with the face primer, ending with lips..

Makeup Products

Some of these products are just ok, but others are the bombikitie. If I decide to go on my own with the wedding-day makeup, I would use them for sure. The ones I highly recommend are: the concealers and highlights (L.A. Girl Pro concealer, Maybelline Dark Circles Treatment, and Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighter), the Naked Urban Decay eye shadow palette, the E.L.F. makeup remover pen for mistakes, the Cover Girl Lash Blast (my favorite drug store mascara), the Bobbi Brown mascara (my favorite high-end mascara), the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil, and the Hourglass blushes. The rest are good, but they don’t make it or break it for me, so I could use another version of the same type of product and probably be ok. In fact, today I’m trying the L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte foundation, and so far it is the only foundation I’ve tried that really covers my “problem” pores. I’ve tried others who claim to do it, but nope, this one is the only one so far that has done the trick. This might be love!

On MakeUp

I go through phases of addiction to activities. Sometimes it’s something healthy like yoga, zumba, or jogging. Other times it’s not so healthy, and focused on food, chocolate, ice cream, chips, nuts or a particular candy, off the top of my head: jawbreakers, Double Bubble gum, Charms blow pops, starbursts, sweetarts, toblerone, twix, … you get the idea. And yet other times, I guess appropriate for this era, my addiction goes to digital, online activities like blogging, FB, twitter, pinterest, playing Sims, and most recently You Tube.

I’ve always watched videos on You Tube, I tend to end there when I’m searching for how-tos, specifically technology related, or when I’m searching for class resources for my students. But recently, while looking for bridal makeup tips, I bumped into a whole world of beauty related videos, and now spend endless hours watching a series of beauty vloggers on You Tube.

I’m still undecided between having a professional do my makeup for the wedding, or applying all the skills I’ve been learning these past months and brave it, and do it myself. I’ve learned a ton about makeup application, about different products, and have purchased a lot of products, some which I’m still tying out. It’s definitely a different type of hobby, but it ‘s just fun to watch.

There are thousands of beauty vloggers out there, so I thought I’d share with you my favorite ones, to save you some time. If you are already into makeup, you’ll love them. And if you are not, beware, you might get sucked in.

Lisa Eldridge – A professional British makeup artist, who works with A-lister actors and models.

Essie Button – A young Canadian living in the UK.

Amelia Liana – Another young British fassionista.

Leighann Says – A quirky and sweet girl from Houston.

Kathleen Lights – A young Cuban-American girl from Miami.

Young Wild and Polished – A crazy, funny woman, who loves her bloopers.

Coffee Break with Dani – A young Mexican-American mom of two, from Dallas, who loves to teach “pandas” about makeup.

Jessica Murphy (JAMbeauty89) – A fair girl from Indianapolis, who is getting married soon.

The Makeup Chair – A makeup artist who teaches online.

Sona Gasparian – A makeup artist offering latest beauty trends and tips.