Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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Minimalism

Lately I’ve found myself musing about how transformative these last year and a half has been.  It’s no secret that we’ve been divesting ourselves of excess over the past year or so. As we donate, upcycle or toss items, It’s become clear how expensive it is to buy cheap things. Most of our clothes that were “cheap” have become rags, while the more expensive things are still in perfect condition after years of use. The same goes for kitchen ware, housewares and more.

It’s striking to see how our natural style has emerged as we rid ourselves of impulse buys we never really needed. Gone are the radical colors and what remains are calming blues, greens and taupes. Colors that soothe and inspire relaxation. (that is, if you are a geek and believe in color theory like I do.)

Overall, it’s interesting just how transformative it is to pare down and live with less. Yes, there’s a certain catharsis of ridding yourself of excess, but it also lends itself to a more relaxing home environment. Now things are easier to find and organize. There’s less to negotiate when pulling things out of closets or drawers and there’s less to clean. Everything has it’s place, everything is functional and everything stands the test of time.

These are small things but they have a big impact on our lives. Think about it – how often do you get frustrated when you need to find something and you can’t figure out where it is? Now imagine trying to dig through a drawer, dropping something on the floor or your foot because that drawer is overflowing with stuff. Unnecessary stuff. You’re already frustrated. Then you have to get on a call with a client or a vender – it’s already off to a bad start, even if you don’t realize it. As I contemplate all these things, it’s no wonder that I find myself less anxious over things that don’t really matter, and more focused on the things that do.


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Summer musings

Summer is pretty much here, and it’s got me a bit nostalgic for my childhood. I remember eagerly waiting for the first official day of summer (which, by the way, was the last day of school). It was a countdown to long days outside, pool days and library books. Once summer was here, we knew we were allowed to play outside ALL DAY, catching lightning bugs at night and drink honeysuckles. That was a North Carolina summer.  We didn’t care how hot it was, or if we would get tan lines. We squirmed to get out the door as our mom slathered us in coconut-scented sun screen and we charged like bulls into our kitchen for lunch, only to charge back out and jump on our bikes, or explore the woods.

When my mom needed to get out of the house, she’d load us up into the minivan and take us (with some of our friends if we were lucky) to the community pool. As we got bigger, we’d get to go to the local waterpark if we were lucky. Looking back, both were great ways to wear out three hyperactive little kids.

I also think about our family trips to the beach and the mountains. We’d build sandcastles on big, wide beaches with my dad, while my mom looked on from her beach chair. We’d make “beach friends” – kids near our age that were camped out near us. Friends we never expected to form lasting friendships with, but were fun to hang out with for a few days. We’d ride bikes and go to bed listening to the ocean and the crickets.

Or we’d take a break and head to the cooler, more dry air of the mountains. We’d take hikes and splash in swimming holes and go home to pick blueberries off my grandmother’s trees.

Now, as we have our own kids, I think more about these things than I used to. As an adult, I realize that these were not the more simple times that I remember. There was the stock market crash, the cold war and who knows what else. But we don’t remember that. I remember my dad serenading my mom on the guitar with the song, “even though we ain’t got money/I’m so in love with you honey…” but we didn’t understand the reason why he’d continuously sing that song. We just knew we loved how he’d play the guitar and sing.

These are not simple times. But as we grow into this whole parenthood thing, I want to make sure we build the same sort of adventurous, fun and idyllic memories for our girls. I want to shield them from the darker tones of life without smothering them or painting a false reality. While I plan to vet their activities, I don’t want to over-architect them. I want them to make real friends, play in person and interact with people face-to-face as much as possible.


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Life, lately

How are we halfway through the year? How are my babies almost one? Why would I ever go back into a 9-5 setting?

These are the random thoughts that flitted through my head as I watched my girls giggle a play while cupping a warm mug of coffee between my hands and listening to it rain.

I’ve heard that once you have kids, the days go by slowly and the years fly. It’s true. But I think that’s more than just having kids, it’s life. And these are the things that I’ve been contemplating lately. Particularly as it involves how I spend my waking hours.

Sometimes I feel like I never unplug. Working from home does that to you because there’s not a clear delineation between work and home. But unlike before I don’t resent it. Maybe it’s because I love my work, or because I am lucky to have awesome clients, but now I’m excited to plug in and work on things. Or perhaps it’s having adult conversations about something other than babies. It’s probably all of the above.

But as I listen to my friends complain about their jobs or sitting in traffic, I find myself regretting spending so much time and energy towards things that didn’t excite me. Now there’s a bit more risk, but it’s so worth it. And I’m pretty sure that now that I’m feeling so much more positive about that part of my life, the opportunities are starting to roll in. So thank you, Universe, for the affirmation!

 


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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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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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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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That freelance life

I’m 10 months into this whole parent adventure and five months into the remote/contract/freelance world. To say that it’s an adjustment is putting it lightly. I knew that there’s some grit that goes into working for yourself, but what a rollercoaster!

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I feel that this is definitely my path right now, but the learning curve is real, people. Now that I’m getting into my groove with this, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about my experience thus far.

The struggle’s with working from home with kids

I am pretty disciplined and routine-oriented. However Z & E haven’t clung to a routine until recently, so the whole “work/nap/cook/live your life while they nap” concept has been non-existent.

I also have a sitter, because anyone who says you can work with two babies at home is either a liar or a superhuman. But occasionally I get a meeting scheduled when I don’t have my sitter and the girls are awake. Which results in conference calls with babies peeking over my shoulder, screaming hysterically and/or trying to attack the phone or computer.

Professional Self-care

Part of the reason I started my freelance career now (versus a few years from now) is because I wanted to keep my brain active in my industry. But at times I’ve felt that I’ve picked up more than I can chew, so I found myself sacrificing my time for myself (what little I have) to finish work.

Once I came to this realization, I’ve adopted the attitude that I need to treat myself like my best client. If I let myself go then it trickles down into my family and my work and that’s a spiral that’s best avoided.

My goal is to focus on building my own brand a little bit at a time. This way, as I inch closer to freelancing full-time, I have a name built for myself outside of my former professional contacts.

The thrills of freelancing

One of the reasons I left my last job was lack of inspiration. I loved the people I worked for but my career path was not one I wanted to continue. I knew I wanted to eventually work for myself so I saved up along the way so that I could give this whole freelance thing a go.

While it sometimes gets overwhelming, there’s something so satisfying about working on projects and campaigns that I’m passionate about. I also contend that there’s nothing more exciting than working for clients who are passionate about their business and excited to make their business grow. Call me a nerd, but I love leaving strategy meetings with the feeling of excitement.

Being accountable for your own success

I’ve been managing clients, campaigns and projects for years now. But I’ve never managed my own business. Because we’d planned for this, I’m fortunate that I can be choosy when it comes to who I work for and what I work on. Long story short, I am only working on projects that are exciting – either in terms of the business or how it gets marketed, clients that are passionate about their business and view me as a team member.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Even in my short time, I already recognize that not every project is the right project. Part of being accountable for my own success involves stepping back and away from a project for the good of myself and/or for the client. It’s not easy, but these conversations need to happen for the best of the relationship.

For those other WFH momtrepreneurs, how have you found your experience?