Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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Friday faves

It’s been a rough week. Both girls are sick and teething so we are all miserable. It’s their first time being truly sick, and while it’s nothing serious, we can’t help feel bad for them. But my personal business has been busy and I’ve been out of the house more for work, which is both invigorating and a confidence booster.

Last week I threw out a post on my favorite things for the week, and I like the concept of embracing the positives in written form, so I’m continuing it this week. Especially because it’s been tough, I wanted to reflect on things that I enjoyed.

Cactus Bloom

Our cactus occasionally blooms, and only in the mornings. There’s something dreamy about padding outside in flip flops with my coffee to see if there are blossoms.

Lizard among our succulents

We’ve been sticking close to home since the girls are sick, so in the quiet moments, I’ve been taking advantage of our front and back patios. El Hombre’s plant game is on point, and it’s nice to sit outside and take it all in. It’s been raining a lot, and the plants are loving it, and so have the lizards.

IMG_3129

I totally get why my mom always made my favorite foods when I got sick. It’s comforting to eat something that makes you feel warm and comfortable inside. Also, it meant I would actually eat. Because the girls’ appetites are down, they get hungry faster, which means they don’t sleep as well and are extra cranky. So I threw together a risotto with sage, using the last of my homemade chicken broth. And I realized that I went from never making risotto in my life, to “just throwing it together” status in the matter of weeks. Cooking is a mental release for me and the more that I can add to my repertoire, the better.

Bengal cat helps me work

This cute little booger has been hanging out with me on the desk, making sure everything is up to par. And by “up to par,” I mean she’s demanding ear scratches.

twin babies playing

At this age, most babies tend to parallel play and my girls are no different. But because they have always been together, they also play together occasionally (when they aren’t stealing each others’ toys and screaming about it.) It’s always so cute to me when they sit right next to each other to play.


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Mama Musings

*This post brought to you by copious amounts of coffee*

It was a rough night guys. It’s been a rough night for weeks now. Between growth spurts, developmental leaps and teething, there’s not a ton of consistent sleep in this household.

Today, as I comforted one twin who’s been rocking a low grade fever for a few days, while playing with the other, who’s been getting jealous, I stared wistfully at the cup of coffee tucked safely away on the bookshelf.

And I thought to myself, this is parenting. I’m not saying that there aren’t blissful, amazing moments every day. I’m saying that those moments aren’t all day, every day.

It’s easy to think parenting is easy if you go off facebook and instagram posts. And I get it – I don’t share the pictures of us looking haggard and worn. Sometimes I snap pictures because it’s proof that there were happy, giggly moments during the day.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my children and I wouldn’t change them for the world. But I can see how kids put strain on relationships. It’s tough. Nonstop crying and uninterrupted sleep will make anyone testy. Lack of proper food because a baby is clinging to you all day will make anyone hangry.

It’s days like this that I’m glad that El Hombre and I have been together long enough to understand when we need our own quiet time. And that we have gone through the natural ups and downs of our relationship to know how to communicate.

It’s also days like this that I am glad that I make my own work schedule. Because there’s no way I would be productive in an office environment on a day like today.

Fortunately I know we’re probably a day away from a tooth cracking through, and things will get back to normal. But seriously, why are humans not born with a full set of teeth?


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Friday faves

It’s been a busy week and Friday got here before a blink of an eye. Between work, life and motherhood, I’ve had lots on my mind and I’ve been feeling a little sluggish and a lot of wanderlust. It’s a strange combo, to say the least.  As I reflect on this week, there are certain bright moments that make me smile, so I thought I’d share a few with you.

Mothers Day flowers

El Hombre brought me beautiful flowers for Mothers Day, and every day they get bigger and brighter. When this lily opened it, it changed the whole dynamic.

Cuban Coffee

Coffee is life these days. There’s rarely anything fancy about Cuban Coffee – it’s cheap, comes in a small styrofoam cup and it’s strong. We have several beautiful coffee shops here in Miami, but they don’t replace walking up to a cafesito corner.

mia nonna

My aunt found several old pictures of my grandmother when she was young, back in Italy. She posted them for Mothers’ Day. My grandmother was a beautiful, dynamic, passionate and admittedly complicated. The timing here was interesting because El Hombre and I got our ancestry DNA results back this week, and I’ve been fascinated by them. Side note, I now know what a haplogroup is.

The Standard Miami Beach

Yesterday we left the girls with the sitter and rode out to South Beach. We started out on Lincoln Road, where we grabbed wine and appetizers while we waiting on our friends to check into their hotel. As we started to walk to their hotel, it started to rain. So we nixed the walk and hopped into an Uber instead.

It’s been years since we’ve visited the Standard, but it remains one of my favorite hotels on the beach. I snapped this picture as we were ducked under an umbrella, walking through the gardens to the bar (hence the blur). There’s nothing like sitting under cover, staring at the bay as water pours down while sipping drinks with friends.


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Working Wednesday – Client work

Clients. As freelancers, we need them. Some clients are great – they invigorate you. You leave meetings totally jazzed about upcoming work and challenges are exciting. I left a meeting with a client yesterday on top of the world. There’s a ton of work to do and it’s all stuff I love to do. When I got home, I immediately filled in El Hombre on what’s in the pipeline.

Other clients, well… Let’s just say that not all client relationships are a match made in heaven. There’s nothing worse than feeling like your client isn’t engaged – especially when you feel like there’s tons of potential. But like personal relationships, there’s not always a spark.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my clients being one of the things that keep me up at night. Specifically, whether I am happy with my clients and whether they are happy with me.  As someone who’s worked in the client world for almost a decade, you come to trust your instincts on these things, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder.

These are my top three warning signs that signal when clients may not be happy:

  • Are my clients less responsive than usual? If they are less responsive and they aren’t traveling or up against a deadline, this is usually a sign that they might be shopping around.
  • Are my clients enthusiastic about new ideas or do they propose new projects?
  • Is conversation stilted or awkward? Has familiarity been lost in email conversations?

So what do you do when clients aren’t happy?

  • Schedule an in-person meeting or go to coffee. I work remotely for the majority of the time, but there’s nothing like face time. It’s my number one way to reconnect – we tend to hide behind computers and phones, and so much gets lost in translation.
  • Provide extra data or analytics, if possible.
  • Let it go. Sometimes the best thing to do is part ways. If this is the case, I always recommend providing a wind-down period. Sometimes there’s changes in budgets or priorities with the client. By bowing out gracefully, you leave the door open for future work.


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Mama MonDaze – Getting out of the rut

Last week I fell into a major rut. We have two teething babies, which means lots of crying and not a lot of sleep. It’s crazy to think about how lack of sleep deprives you of so much.  It’s no exaggeration to say I probably got a combined total of 3 hours of sleep across 4-5 days.

I now understand the term, mombie (mom + zombie). I lost a week of work because there wasn’t enough coffee in the world to replace those precious hours of sleep. Both el hombre and I were irritable and anxious. I felt myself trailing off in the middle of sentences and having to read things over and over.

So what do you do when your kids can’t sleep and it impacts your life?

When El Hombre and I started snapping at each other in the middle of the week, I knew I had to do something. So I packed up the girls and took them to the park. We walked around outside for 30-40 minutes in the stroller, then went on the swings and the playground. On the way back I stopped at my favorite local running store and bought much-needed new running shoes for El Hombre and me.

Getting out is critical to staying healthy with babies.

Because we are firing up our own business ventures, El Hombre and I are home together much more than we used to. This means that our personal time to ourselves is nil. Combine that with TWO screaming babies all day and all night and you can see how this can be negative.

I know that when I don’t get my blood flowing, my anxiety goes through the roof. So taking the time to walk in the stroller outside was almost magical. Even though the girls were awake, they were calm and excited because they got a change of pace. I got time to think (I find that I get my best ideas when outside on a brisk walk) and El Hombre got a few hours of time to focus on his projects.

Getting the blood flowing is good for mama and papa. And what’s good for mama and papa is good for babies.

The next day our sitter came, and instead of focusing on cramming out work (which would have been crap work), El Hombre asked if I wanted to go to the gym with him. So we left the girls and went to work out. That hour break, what can I say? We don’t work out together so we had our own quiet, exercise time. Absorbed in music, sweating out the stress and coming back to center. At least for me.

Accept that productivity comes in different forms.

Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t do it all. And last week I accepted that. If the girls are having a rough week, just getting through it while being supportive and caring is better than forcing things.

Baby Tylenol is good.

Getting out and about definitely helped the girls during the day, but the screaming all night was not getting better. They were miserable. And when they were crying real tears half the night, I realized the issue was probably teeth cracking through. So I gave them a bit of Tylenol. Game changer. I was so tired that I didn’t even think of it at first. Especially since I don’t like to use medicine on the girls as an immediate first reaction. But sometimes you need it. And now that more teeth have cracked through, the girls are feeling better. Being in pain plus being sleep deprived is misery for me, so it’s got to be worse for them because they can’t express themselves the way we can.

Sometimes you need a change of pace.

Once we started getting a bit more sleep, we started feeling better as a family. And on Thursday, El Hombre casually suggested getting lunch in the keys the next day. We woke up to rain and my stomach sort of sank, and I think El Hombre saw that. So he pushed me to check the weather and when I saw the storm heading north, it was on.

By the time we got to Islamorada, the girls were up from their naps and ready to get out of the car. We stopped at one of our favorite little beaches where we walked through the boardwalk and brush to scout the perfect beach location. The girls gleefully crawled through the shallow surf, played with sand and hung out on the little beach while we listened to El Hombre’s 70s spotify playlist. By the time we were ready to go, they knocked out for a good nap. After all, what’s better than a good nap after a beach day?

My overall thoughts on challenging weeks with twin babies.

This past week I learned that there are going to be rough weeks. This was definitely not our first rough week, but after a few months of progressively better sleep, this sleep regression plus the crankiness of teething and growth spurts hit us much harder than I expected.

As I felt the struggle of anxiety and failure creep up, I had to sit back and be realistic about my priorities and what I am capable of. To stay balanced I need to sometimes sway away from one priority (work) to keep another priority going (family life.) To do that, sometimes I have to set aside one of the balls I juggle through the week and pick it up when I’m ready to. And that’s ok because that’s life.

 


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Working Wednesdays: Picking the right client (or job)

We’ve all been there or some form or another – after sitting down with someone to talk about potential work, the offer comes through. But is it the right offer? Should I take it?

In some cases you jive with your potential client (or boss) and there’s no hesitation.

But in many cases, there is that pause. Maybe it’s because the offer isn’t enticing enough – but often it’s because some nagging voice in the back of your head is whispering that it’s not the right fit. I’ve made that mistake – both in my freelance career and the corporate world – enough times to know that I should follow my instincts and decline the opportunity.

As you find your footing in a new venture, like freelancing, it’s tempting to take any work that comes your way. But there’s a danger in this – you might pick up something that becomes toxic, you may burn through a lot of time on projects that can’t be used in a portfolio, or you may end up generally unhappy with the work you agreed to.

So how do you avoid picking up the wrong clients or taking the wrong job offer?

These are the questions that I ask myself, and if the answers to any of these questions are no, then I decline:

  • Is this the right type of working environment for me? I know myself well enough to know that I like a fast-paced, start-up environment where I wear many hats. But if the organization isn’t operationally sound, I don’t do well.
  • Does my work philosophy align with the company’s?
  • Are there open communications across teams and with the person I report to?
  • Do I like the type of work that’s being offered?
  • Will this help me grow professionally and/or add to my portfolio?
  • Do I think the compensation is fair for the type of work I’d be doing?
  • Can I work remotely? If I have to be in an office for part of the time, can I handle the commute?

Because my husband and I are both building up our businesses as contractors/freelancers, we both occasionally get tempted by positions that have good pay. When either of us feels like there’s hesitation, we refocus on looking at both short-term and long-term goals to prevent ourselves from making that emotional decision.


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On raising girls

Yesterday our friend was over with his 7 year old daughter, and as they were leaving, she made a funny (not as in “ha ha”) about being afraid of being a tom boy. My gut response was, “what’s wrong with being a tom boy?” (She didn’t answer).

Her dad immediately jumped into the conversation and told her that it’s good to practice sports now because it’s good for her. And that lots of girls end up going to the gym when they are in their 20s and it’s totally normal.

Our friend is an amazing dad. His daughter is bright and funny and active. She’s spunky and personable. He supports her 100% in her passions – which include dance, skateboarding and cats. It’s clear that he eschews the gender stereotypes of what girls “should” do.

And that got me thinking about raising my own girls.

It’s not uncommon for me to have to explain that my daughters are girls in the supermarket, and I’ve had to defend my choice to not pierce their ears, or dress them in pink every single day. I mean, I like pink but there are other colors on the spectrum that are also awesome.

When a friend gave my daughters a red toy car, someone asked if I was going to exchange it for a “girls toy”. Ummm, no. Why would I make that sort of effort? (Side note, they love that car and it’s good for them, developmentally.)

When I grew up, I had dolls. But my favorite toys were legos and brio and lincoln logs. They weren’t “girls colors” and we all played with them – including my brother. That’s when we were playing inside. Most days we were running around outside with our friends. Whether on bikes or running through the woods around our houses. We got dirty, we scraped our knees and that was ok. My brother, sister and I all played sports – whether we liked it or not. Sure, I took ballet and gymnastics, but not for more than a few months.

My dad also took us outside to play basketball, baseball and soccer. As a family we went hiking and biking very frequently. I doubt it ever crossed my parents’ mind that they should hold my sister and I back from any of these things, just because we were girls.

Now as an adult, I’ve sat in meetings where I’m the only woman and held my own. I’ve spoken in front of large groups of people – including executives and held my own. I’ll never forget one of my colleagues walked past a meeting room and stared – only to ask how it felt to be in a room “with all those men.” My reply, “I didn’t even think about it.”

Yes, I have definitely experienced more than my fair share of gender inequality and it sucks. It happens more often than not, and it’s infuriating. But as I’ve really started analyzing my experiences with this, I’ve realized that I never assume that I’m going to be relegated to a corner because of my gender – not until it actually happens.

So why is this? As I listen to the advice I’m given on how to raise my daughters, I realize this may be part of the problem. When we continue to push a social construct that says that it’s not appropriate for girls to play with the same toys, or play the same sports, or listen to the same music, we ingrain the belief that girls should live by more restrictions because they are inferior, or weaker. That girls should be pretty and soft. That you can’t be both feminine and strong. Well, I disagree.

If my girls love princesses and dresses and frilly things, cool. If they love being outside and sports, awesome. If they love art and drawing or math and science, or maybe all of these things or just some of these things – then I’m all for it.

I want my girls to grow up and be excited for all the adventure that the world has to offer. And if that ruffles feathers, that’s ok.