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.
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.
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.
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.
I used to travel. Not like wanderlust world traveler kind of travel, but a reasonable amount. I’ve seen my fair share of places, though I have many on my list left to visit. But you know, you have kids, and you work full time. And it takes planning. And it costs money. And, let’s be honest, is it really even fun to travel with kids? We did do a bit of traveling–both domestic and international–with our first. But we added another kid to the mix and all travel came to a halt. We finally–FINALLY–planned and booked a vacation to Mexico, which we took last month. And it was so wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t leave-your-kids-and-spend-a-week-sipping-cocktails-on-the-beach wonderful, but it was better than I expected.
Full disclosure: the best part of this trip was that my parents and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were on this trip. Yeah, yeah. It was nice to spend time with them. But the absolutely BEST part was a ratio of six adults to three kids. Glorious.
Pinterest. The double-edged sword for the creatively challenged. On the one hand, you have an infinite supply of creative ideas at your fingertips to create a beautiful party. On the other hand, it creates unrealistic expectations and inevitable disappointment when your creations don’t turn out the way they looked online. To add insult to injury, I’m friends with the world’s most creative women. Their parties are always adorable and staged down to the smallest details. And somehow, to my complete befuddlement, they don’t spend an arm and a leg putting it all together.
I’m not creative. I mean, not in the artistic sense. Need me to resolve a complex issue in an asset purchase agreement? I’m your girl. Have a landlord-tenant dispute that’s at an impasse? Call me up. But if you want photo-ready, staged parties, with perfectly assembled centerpieces and a professionally designed dessert table, I’m completely helpless.
Traveling with kids. Some people love it. Some people think it’s torture. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. When we had my daughter, we continued to travel without hesitation. R was on her first flight at four months old, and she was on a total of 14 flights in her first 14 months of life, including two international trips. Once we had D, all traveling came to a halt. Part of it was circumstantial due to work schedules, but much of it was my own trepidation of traveling with two children. Determined not to be home bound for the next few years, I opted to face my fears and book some travel. Whereas I used to have a You-Can’t-Be-Too-Prepared attitude about traveling with kids, I now realize that unless I’m planning a trip to a remote locale, even with kids, less is definitely still more.
Let me be real with you guys. In theory, I envision myself on vacation in some sexy new bikini with my hair perfectly “beach-waved” under an adorable Panama hat with glowing skin and perfectly poised for an Instagram-worthy photo op. In reality, my vacations (the last real one I took was three years ago) are an opportunity for me not to have to wear makeup for a week, pull out the eight-year-old bikini that I haven’t worn for two summers, and slather my pale-ass skin in SPF 50 every 30 minutes so I don’t burn to a crisp. And those sunset photos where I’m casually laughing on the beach with my family? They look more like me running after my toddler who got naked because she didn’t like the sand in her butt, a baby crying because his sister knocked over his pile of sand, and a husband catching up on emails because there’s no such thing as a real vacation from work. It’s not a pretty picture.”