Lollipops & Laptops

The Sticky Life of a Working Mom

Indoor Plants for the Black Thumb

Indoor Plants for the Black Thumb - Lollipops & Laptops

Graphic via Love the Garden

When I say I’m not a green thumb, I can’t stress it enough. I kill plants faster than they die naturally. How long is a bouquet of flowers supposed to last? More than two days? Could have fooled me. I’m not really into plants, except for the whole life-giving-oxygen-provision thing. So I have happily gone about my life without them inside my house. I tried to get some fake stuff, and to be fair, I’ve recently happened upon a few decent-looking items here and here. But I started to look around our house and feel like it was looking a little, well, dead.

My colleague recently gave me a little potted bamboo plant, and after a few weeks of successfully keeping it alive in my office, I decided it would be a nice addition to the abnormally large counter space behind my sink in the kitchen. I’m happy to report that the thing is still living five months later! My new confidence of keeping living things alive (toddler and baby included) led me to do some research on plants that aren’t high maintenance.

I’m all about practicality, so I decided if I’m going to put effort into keeping anything alive in my house besides my kids, I might as well make them useful. So I focused my research on plants with air cleaning or other good qualities. Thankfully, NASA already did the work for me. Check out my list below for some mean, green, hard-to-kill, poor-air-quality-fighting machines.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me: Prenups in a Modern World

Prenups in a Modern World - Lollipops & Laptops

The prenup. That dirty little word. In all honesty, before I went to law school, I had the same reaction. “Why are people getting married if they’re preparing for divorce?” But if you think about it from a different perspective, it starts to make more sense. You don’t buy homeowner, car, or life insurance planning to need it. It’s there in case the unexpected happens. Just like estate planning, you hope you won’t need to utilize the documents (at least in the short term when it comes to estate planning). But being prepared can save the headache–and a hell of a lot of money–down the road. Unlike an estate plan, which everyone needs in some form, not everyone needs a prenup. So how do you know if it is right for you? Here are a few considerations.

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Summer Cocktails for the Lazy Hostess

Have we established yet that laziness is my mantra. Okay, let’s go with a nice euphemism: efficiency. I’m not a big drinker, and if my day/week/month has been one where I need to knock a few back, it needs to be as simple as popping off a bottle cap or a quick twist of a corkscrew. But I have had house guests that prefer a little something stronger when the clock strikes six thirty, so I’ve made a point of trying to stock a bare-bones bar. I don’t want to stock hundreds of dollars of liquor, mixers, and garnishes if they’re not going to be used. The key is to stick to a few classics that are likely to satisfy the broadest number of potential imbibers. Check out my summer cocktail bar–a minimalist bar utilizing a few key liquors and a host of things that should already be in your kitchen.

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9 Reasons Why Managing Employees is the Same as Parenting Toddlers

9 Reasons Managing Employees is the Same as Parenting Toddlers - Lollipops & Laptops

A recent promotion at work has me managing a few new employees, and I realize I’m uniquely qualified for this big task because I parent a toddler. These scenarios are interchangeable for me whether I’m in the office or at home.

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Monthly Challenge Review: Book Blast

Monthly Challenge Recap: Book Blast - Lollipops & Laptops

This was a very bad idea. Setting a time-consuming goal two weeks into adding blog writing on top of a full time job while parenting a toddler and baby was a bad idea. I’m not really sure what I was thinking here, other than I really wanted to catch up on the 50+ books that continued to stack up inside and on top of my nightstand. I challenged myself for the month of June to read one book per week for a total of four books.

I don’t read particularly fast, despite my parents’ investment in a speed-reading course in high school, and I know very well how little time I have outside of work, parenting, and now, blogging. And yet, I delved into my first book with high hopes. On June 13, I was 60 pages into 234 of book one. Out of four. Did I cut myself some slack and cut my goal down? Hell no. Within 2 days, I finished book one and was on to book two.

And by June 30, you bet your ass I finished All. Four. Books. Aside from learning that I can function on very little sleep even when it’s not baby related, I actually did manage to enjoy most of my reading. I tried to hit different genres for each book to push myself out of my comfort zone.

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Mentor Mistakes and How I Fixed Them

Mentor Mistakes Fixed - Lollipops & Laptops

Like most students, I was pretty wise to the concept of getting a mentor from early on. I read a lot about how to find a mentor. I was good at pursuing the relationships. And yet, I let a few potentially incredible mentors slip through the cracks because I didn’t properly cultivate the relationship. Luckily, I’ve adjusted my approach and been able to find some fantastic mentors despite my initial mistakes. Keep reading for some of my worst mentor-seeking offenses and how I’ve succeeded at finding a few great mentors since.

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Balancing Extracurriculars and Full-Time Work Schedules

Kids' Extracurriculars & Full-Time Work - Lollipops & Laptops

When I went back to work after I gave birth to my daughter, my husband and I were each working about 60 hours a week. We’d often eat dinner at 9:00 pm while hovered over our computers finishing off the day’s work. It was a schedule that worked for us with an infant that had no interests beyond milk and sleep.

As she got older, we wanted to put her in extracurriculars, but there were very limited options that worked with our schedules. We settled on two classes in a row on Saturday mornings, but ultimately cancelled them because too many conflicts arose with birthday parties and other obligations, and it was impossible to get make up classes on the weekend. After my daughter begged to get back into her classes, we decided to give it another shot. Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful as we learn to juggle extracurriculars and two full-time work schedules.

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Professional Wardrobe for the Casual Dresser

I spent seven years in higher education, and I really honed my “student” look during that time. Today, my weekend wardrobe looks a lot like that student look I perfected: jeans, a loose t-shirt, Converse or Rainbow sandals, aviator sunglasses, and a delicate necklace. Unfortunately for me, the industries I work in (law and commercial real estate) are extremely conservative. In my office, business casual is considered progressive in the wardrobe department.

I’ve been working on finding ways to be comfortable, both physically and mentally, in my professional clothes. I’ve curated a capsule wardrobe below that meets my three needs: comfortable, timeless, and as casual as acceptable for a professional workplace.

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5 Ways to Entertain Your Kids on Weekends (When You Just Can’t)

Entertaining Kids on Weekends - Lollipops & Laptops

I work full time Monday through Friday, so “family time” only happens on weekends, unless you count family time as eating dinner with one hand while bathing a baby and toddler with the other, in which case, I get about 2 hours per weeknight of family time. And yet, by about noon on Saturday, I’m fresh out of ways to entertain my kids. This is particularly annoying when, like mine, the kids are too young to entertain themselves for any significant amount of time. You can only go to the local park or play with the hardened play doh set so many times. In a desperate attempt not to lose my mind or fake a work emergency to hide out in the office on a Sunday morning, I’ve compiled a list of ways to entertain children when you’re not creative, don’t have Disneyland season passes, and can’t bring yourself to let them watch another hour of YouTube Kids.

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Kid Clothing Purge: Kidizen

Kid Clothing Purge: Kidizen - Lollipops & Laptops

Warning: this post is not for the sentimental. I legitimately do not have emotional connections to things. I sold my wedding dress a few months after our wedding. People ask me if I miss it, and I can honestly tell you I haven’t thought about it once. I keep photo albums and I do have one banker’s box of “memories” (a few sports medals, some hysterical passbooks of notes between friends in high school, and a book of really mediocre poetry that I wrote as an angsty adolescent), but other than that, I regularly purge everything in the house.

So what’s a girl to do with all those clothes your kids wear three times before they grow out of them? Well, for many of them, I hand them down. My daughter’s clothes have mostly gone to my niece, and about 70% of my son’s closet is made up of hand-me-downs from my nephew, which are now cycling back to the newest baby boy in the family.

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