Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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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?


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Minimalism

When we got pregnant, we quickly realized that we needed to divest ourselves of a bunch of stuff. You see, with no plans to move, we had to convert El Hombre’s office/man cave/storage to a nursery. I vividly recall the satisfaction of a cleaner living space, so as the year progresses, I’ve vowed to slowly reduce the amount of things I own.

I’ve discovered that I tend to hang on to clothes and makeup so that was the first thing I groomed. Out goes old exercise clothes, freebie shirts and general things I haven’t worn. In stays well-made, classic pieces.

Next month I’ll go through accessories and shoes. With less stuff junking up my space, the easier it is to put outfits together!


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Hello silence

There is nothing more luxurious than the sound of silence. Everyone is asleep except for me and Lola. I’m fighting the urge to bang around in the kitchen because then I have to clean. (I’m really into making cookies right now. Who doesn’t like cookies?)

Speaking of silence, I’ve made the decision to start reducing the digital noise in my life. I’ve started with deleting my Facebook app, which means I’m only checking it every few days or so. And you know what? I don’t miss it. It’s very similar to when we cut cable – most of the anger and rage of the every day world has disappeared. No longer am I stumbling across headlines screaming atrocities, written by one party or the other and only loosely based in facts. No longer am I seeing the world portrayed as a hateful place.

I’d blame all this on the election, but truthfully it’s only the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. Rather than socializing, I’ve found many of my connections are surrounding themselves with like-minded people and supporting their views with memes, or articles that are based on bias and written months or years ago. That’s just not what I need. And from what I can see, it only creates more of a divide.

Honestly, I’d delete most of my social profiles if it wasn’t for my freelance work. But when the gleeful rage hit it’s fever pitch last Wednesday I shut down my computer and went outside. I spent an afternoon in the park with my friend and our babies and you know what? It was much, much more peaceful and interesting than any social media interaction I could have had.


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Perfection

We are home from the hospital and our family has doubled in size. 

Is there any more perfect moment than sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby, listening to the rain while the sun breaks through the clouds?

As we drove home from our first pediatrician appointment, I turned to my husband and told him I have the opposite of baby blues. I’m so overwhelmed by how fortunate we are that it makes me teary eyed. 

Enjoy these small, lovely moments  in your lives people. 

Birth story to come!


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Get it done

Frequently my friends will ask how I’m coping with not working. As I mentioned before, I’ve always been that person who runs a million miles an hour, and slowing down isn’t necessarily my strong suit. Admittedly, I’ve struggled a little more with this in the past couple of days. I’ve been feeling like I have a million things to do and no energy to do them. I’ve also started feeling overwhelmed, like I’m forgetting things. I’m not happy when I don’t feel productive and I feel guilty when I feel like my husband has to do all the heavy lifting.

Then this morning it occurred to me that just because I’m not working doesn’t mean I can’t resurrect old habits. So when El Hombre jokingly asked what was on the agenda this week, I wrote it all down. I mean, duh! I’ve always been a list person and after 5-6 years of working within some form of an agile methodology, I know how to easily rank and prioritize my items.

Can I tell you how much better I feel, now that I’ve crossed a bunch of this stuff off my list? Seriously! From calling insurance companies to pesky errands, I’m finally getting stuff done that I’ve been procrastinating on. And it makes me feel more in control, because the last thing I need is to have these babies come and everything up in the air.

 


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Our Baby Shower: A recap and tips

Who doesn’t love a good party?

This weekend we celebrated our baby shower with our friends, and guys, it was a blast. For those who don’t know, I generally bristle at the idea of “shower-style” parties. I don’t get into games, I usually don’t know a lot of people except for the host and overall I find them awkward. I didn’t have a bridal shower and, had it not been for my friend Natalie, I wouldn’t have done a baby shower. But I’m glad I did.

You see, Natalie knows me. So there were no games and we took the same approach for this party that El Hombre and I would for any other party. We rented our condo pavilion and invited pretty much everyone we see regularly – men, women and children.  And we all had a blast. Our party was supposed to end around 6 or 7, but our last guests left around midnight. I had no idea where my phone was for the majority of the time

In my brief experiences of throwing parties, I have realized there are 3 key aspects to a successful party:

  • Good food
  • Alcohol
  • Good music

People won’t often remember the details of decorations or the venue and our personal preference is to have outdoor parties and clean, minimal decorations so that people have space to move around. What people remember is seeing friends, munching on something tasty and drinking a cold beer while watching their kids running around making friends and playing.

Because I didn’t have my phone, I didn’t take a single picture. But most of my friends did – using our hashtag, #marcheztwins.  Here’s a few that I lifted off FaceBook:


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Time for a girls trip!

It seems that the first quarter let-down has hit some of my friends pretty hard. Now that I’m not stuck in a cubicle or traffic for 10-11 hours a day, I’ve taken advantage of talking with my friends more often. And sadly, it seems a lot of them had a rough start to this year.

Since I’m a transplant in a largely transient city, I often lament that all my friends have moved. (Yes, I know I’m being melodramatic in these moments). But I do still have people here. So in my texts, chats, etc. with one of my friends, I came up with an idea. Why not take a vacation day from work, drop the kids at school and then head to Miami with me? The ultimate goal: Islamorada. Since I can’t drink for awhile, I volunteered to be designated.

It didn’t take a lot of persuasion.

So a few weeks ago, two of my friends and I hopped in my car and headed south. We picked up some Cuban coffee and pastelitos for some fuel and then headed straight down toOverseas Highway.

If you’ve never driven through the Florida Keys before, I highly recommend it. As you are passing through narrow strips of road, with endless blue water on either side of your car, it’s virtually impossible to retain any level of stress. It’s often ranked as one of the most scenic drives in America and there’s truly nothing like it.

I’m pregnant so that means I am hungry and thirsty all the time. Our first stop? The Key Largo Conch House. All I have to say is Conch Fritters. Get them. While this place isn’t on the water, it is tucked away so you aren’t right on the highway. It’s in a quintassential Florida Keys house and you can sit inside or outside on the porch. We grabbed an outside table and split a bunch of food. Service was great and the food was on point.

After that, we headed south. The girls wanted to stop at Tiki Bar so we made a pit stop for rum drinks and water. Since we couldn’t hang on the beach, we headed off to the marina dock, where we dragged chairs in to the sun. As we lazily sipped our drinks we watched boats coming in and going out to the Sandbar. Admittedly I’m not a huge fan of this place because it’s a little too “Spring Break” for me, but it was a good first spot for some sun.

After we got too hot, we hopped back in the car to cool off with some A/C and headed to our next spot: Anne’s Beach. This beach is one of the more popular beaches in the middle keys – partially because there are not many public beaches in Islamorada but mainly because it’s beautiful. But parking is minimal so if you go on the weekend you have to get there early… even on weekdays it can be tough – we got lucky with a spot in the second lot.  We found a cozy little nook of beach where we spread out our towels and immediately waded in to the ocean. The water can still be a little cool (by Floridian standards) but because it’s so shallow the temperature was perfect.

We took selfies, laid out for some much-needed sun and chatted to our hearts’ content. And Instagrammed it all for our people to admire from their cubes and offices.

Once again, it got a bit toasty so we hopped back in to the car to head to the bar at the Islander. I love this place and El Hombre and I will often stop to get food and drinks at the bar on our various trips to the Keys.  It’s beautiful, laid back, great service and a pretty view. It’s also a great place to stay because unlike Tiki Bar it’s not full of annoying Spring Breakers.

The girls sipped on more rum drinks while I drank my soda and we all dried out. One of my friends started surfing Islamorada Real Estate listings for investment properties while my other friend and I split a dessert (it’s for the babies.)

As the day came to a close, we decided to go for dinner before getting on the road. I originally wanted to go to the Lorelei, but it was packed with no parking. So we ended up at the Green Turtle Inn. Again, amazing food. My favorite? Lobster Mac & Cheese. I ended up with a salad for my main course, while the girls split a bunch of plates that I nibbled off of. While a tad pricy, this restaurant is worth every penny.

After we finished dinner, we had one last stop. The Blond Giraffe in Tavernier. Normally El Hombre and I never stop at these places because he’s not a key lime kind of guy. But one of the girls wanted to pick up some treats for her family. While she picked those out, my other friend and I split a piece of pie. All I can say is, “Yes”. Have you ever taken a bite of something so good that you half close your eyes in sheer bliss? That was me at that moment. It was also the sugar burst that got me home.

All in all, it was a good day trip. When life starts to give you lemons, it’s time to gather your girls (or guys) and head out for a day of beach hopping and good food.

The Conch House.

The Conch House. Get the Fritters I tell ya!

Key Largo Conch House

Key Largo Conch House sign. These signs are all over the Florida Keys

Tiki Bar Marina Islamorada

The view from our spot at the Tiki Bar. Clear blue water for miles.

Anne's beach, Islamorada Florida

Anne’s beach – so peaceful

Beach selfie in Islamorada

Selfie time at the beach!

The beach at the Islander Resort.

The beach at the Islander Resort.

Islander Bar Islamorada

The view from the Bar at the Islander. Nice and shady after a day in the sun.

Cannoli

Cannoli. I’m all about that toffee.

Pool time

A bit of pool time before our day was done.