The Dog Days of Summer

by Lacey Appolito

Being a parent is a rollercoaster. Every day is different, though it can feel like ground hog day, and some days are better than others. This summer has been particularly challenging for me as a parent (and really as a functional adult, too).

For those of you who don’t know, I am a work from home mom. I own and operate an e-commerce business out of my home, but I also wear the hat of stay at home mom. My three kids, who are currently 5, 3, and 2 years old, attend a mother’s day out program for 20 hours per week during the school year, and I really do have a pretty sweet gig when school is in session.

BUT school ended May 18th, and summertime has been a little rocky to say the least. Caring for three children under the age of six is a full-time job. Every minute brings new demands for snacks, more milk, potty help, diaper changes, attention, redirecting, and SO. MUCH. REFEREEING.

On top of the daily grind, I am trying to run a business. When my kids are home for the summer, it is difficult to work on growing or improving Little World Organics. I do what I can to get by and then it is back to my kiddos, because they need me almost all of the time.

Now here is where things get really interesting… I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I am tired. I am uncomfortable. And most days the temperature is over 100 degrees, making our much needed outside time pretty freaking miserable.

So what is a super pregnant, stay at home/work from home mama to do?

Do better. I have to do better.

Better for my kids. Better for my business. Better for myself.

My little tribe and I have exactly one month until school resumes for the fall semester 🙌, and six weeks until our family grows by one, which will inevitably change our family dynamic forever.

During the dog days of summer, when all I really want to do is curl up with some Netflix in a very cold, dark room, I vow to:

  • practice patience
  • find time to work on my business while the kids are sleeping
  • be present when they are awake
  • exude love
  • minimize exasperation
  • play more

We’ve had a rough couple of days around here, and it is time to turn it around. Despite the enormous amount of energy it takes to pack up three little ones and take them to the neighborhood pool alone, I am going to do it. They need it. I need it. It’s time to breathe some fresh air into our summer routine. I am ready for a change.

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Snack time at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Mom’s Return to the Work Force

By: Aimee Tafreshi

ID-100338823Like many moms today, I worked a full-time job when I gave birth to my first child. I remember how hard it was to leave my baby after my 12 weeks of maternity leave were up—a generous policy compared to many work places, yet meager compared to other parts of the world. I blinked back tears as I commuted to my office and felt a huge part of me left behind at home.

I also remember the day I packed up my office for the last time, a few weeks before my little girl’s second birthday. I would miss looking out my wall of windows to behold the Capitol and downtown Austin—I doubted I would ever score such a view again—but I looked forward to my freedom and more time with my growing toddler.

Back then, I was a single mom, sharing custody with my child’s father. I saw my daughter for two hours each weeknight after work and every other weekend. She lived with me, but the practice of law is a jealous mistress. The rest of her time was spent with my devoted, Spanish-speaking nanny or my child’s father. It was probably these circumstances that led me to walk away from the work force at the time, but only after I was engaged to someone able to provide financial support. Single parents have the first and foremost priority of providing a roof over a child’s head, food and health insurance; everything else is secondary.

Fast forward six years later, and I’m a mom of three, happily married and enjoying life as a freelance writer and Zumba instructor. And then life dealt me a broken foot, so teaching the latest Latin moves was out of the question. As I clomped around in my boot, I pondered my next move. I loved my free time with my kids, but in the back of my head I always wondered if I would return to the work force. I knew the longer I stayed out, the harder it would be to return. The corporate world could understand some time off to raise children—women seem to be given this latitude more than men—but how long of an absence was acceptable? Five years? Ten years? Six years had elapsed since my time at a law firm, and I decided it was time to dabble my feet in the water again.

While sidelined, I reactivated my bar license and had fun watching continuing legal education videos about white-collar crime. This may sound fairly boring, but as far as the law is concerned, this is exciting and interesting stuff. I spent a week’s worth of time applying for a few prosecutor positions with the Department of Justice. They happened to be hiring in a nearby big city, and those opportunities don’t pop up everyday. I have no prosecutorial experience, but being in the courtroom going after bad guys has always been a dream of mine. Of course, it may not be the job most compatible with balancing motherhood, but I would worry about those details later.

Fast forward a few months, and the feds hadn’t called yet. As I mentally prepared for my foot surgery, I periodically checked out the online job listings to see if anything fit my requirements and vice versa. Most legal jobs here are out of the question because I am not licensed to practice law in Florida, and there’s no way in heck I’m sitting for another bar exam. One day I saw a listing for a part-time job where I actually understood most of the responsibilities and seemed to meet their hiring criteria. I quickly shot them my resume and a hastily written cover letter, as I didn’t want to waste multiple hours on an application only to hear crickets in response. My surgery was coming up soon, but I figured it would be months until I’d hear a response; after all, the job posting was brand new.

Lo and behold, I received an email requesting a telephone interview. I was floored and realized I hadn’t interviewed for a job since 2006. The timing was interesting. I was scheduled to have surgery the very next day. After much thought, I brilliantly (or stupidly) set up the interview for the following morning, hours before my surgery. I didn’t want to risk fielding questions while under the influence of post-surgery pain meds. I would go through an interview sans caffeine (or anything), as I was about to undergo general anesthesia. I’ve never experienced a job interview without adequate hydration or caffeine coursing through my veins. I told myself this was all mental and that I could do it. I was so nervous about the interview that the impending procedure became an afterthought.

The phone call seemed to go okay. I didn’t really think the interviewer was too impressed, and I figured I did not get the position. To my surprise, I received a job offer at the end of the week, as I floated around in my post-surgery stupor, non-weight-bearing for nearly one month. I was excited but also very scared. I was returning to the world of deadlines, responsibility beyond my family and the billable hour.

Two months into the job, and it is the perfect fit for my life. I work remotely and bill about 30 hours per week. The company is flexible and doesn’t micromanage my time. I can go to work in pajamas with greasy hair and don’t have a commute. The hardest part is the aspect I struggled with years ago—mommy guilt. When I got the gig, we scrambled and had to put all of the kids in full-time care, not an easy feat at times during the summer. Luckily, there were a few day camp options, and my youngest son’s school goes year round and caters to working parents.

A part of me felt guilty at first. As my foot healed and I regained my ability to walk, and could finally fit my deflating big foot in flip-flops, I wondered, shouldn’t I be hauling the kids every day to some cool summer location, like the beach, pool, or the museum? I know the days are long and the years are short, and I don’t take a day for granted with them. But then I thought back to my days as a single, working mother, and I remembered what I did back then to cope.

When I came home from work, I completely switched into “at home” mode. My attention was on my daughter for those two hours before her bedtime. My nanny tried to bathe her but I insisted on having that duty, as I needed every minute with her. I treasured reading to her each night as we rocked. I remember waking up most Saturday mornings to attend a parent and me music class, as we often rushed home afterwards so her father could pick her up for his time.

When you work, you don’t necessarily miss out. You just have to become more present when you are with your kids. Ask them about their day, look them in the eyes, engage them in conversation, put down your phone. For working parents, most of these things are no-brainers because you can’t wait to see your little ones at the end of each day. You are tired, but you find that extra reserve of energy and enthusiasm to share with your greatest work in life: your children.

You also become a weekend warrior. When you have a blank canvas of a week in front of you, Saturday and Sunday don’t seem as crucial to fill with meaningful time. As a family, I feel like we have really lived life lately. We’ve been to the beach, the pool, the zoo, church, brunch, the movies . . . we are exhausted come Sunday evening, and sometimes the solitude on Monday morning after the kids are dropped off is a welcome one.

Whether you work outside of the home, at home or stay at home with your little ones, I can say there is no easy path. You can only choose the best option for your family, and make the most of your precious time together.

Aimee Tafreshi is a freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com and her own blog once in a blue moon, aimeetafreshi.com. She is also a mother and professional chauffeur to three spirited, young children.

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boy Part Deux

And the blog writing hiatus continues… The last time I found the energy to sit down and write something other than a grocery list was oh I don’t know, a trimester ago or so? That’s right. I’m preggers. Knocked up. With child and without an ounce of energy, which is compounded by the fact that I have a 14 month old boy who unlike his mama has enough energy to power the great state of Texas.

Thankfully I am feeling more energetic with every passing day. The first trimester was brutal. The past couple of weeks have evolved into doable. It’s no coincidence that my little fire cracker has found himself in mother’s day out twice a week despite the fact that I resigned from my teaching job in June to stay home with my growing boy.

And how is the stay-at-home life treating me, you ask? It’s hard. Really hard. I seemed to have had way more time on my hands when I was teaching, which probably doesn’t reflect positively on my role as an educator, but come on… I taught fourth grade. Those kids are independent. They could work quietly at their desks for hours on end while I worked quietly at my desk for hours on end. And by “worked quietly” I obviously mean trolled Pinterest for recipes I’d never find the time to cook and outfits I’d never find an opportunity to wear. But that’s neither here nor there now. My days of leisurely trolling Pinterest (or leisure in general for that matter) are long gone.

It’s funny how different the second pregnancy is than the first. Other than a closet full of clothes that don’t fit, I really don’t feel pregnant. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a whole lot of time to focus on this baby like I did when I was pregnant with Jack. Most weeks I can’t even remember how far along I am (15 weeks I think?), and don’t even ask about fruit-size comparisons.

I am happy to report that I have managed to remember prenatal vitamins each night, but I have been wayyyy more lax in every other regard when it comes to this pregnancy. With Jack, I didn’t drink any coffee during the first trimester and throughout the remainder of my pregnancy I would have one cup per day.

These days, a cup of one coffee is absolutely necessary to function within the loosest definition of mother, and most days it requires a second. I haven’t made the plunge into three cups daily, but I often wonder if that would propel me into good wife and homemaker status, as well. Guess we’ll never know…

During my last pregnancy, I avoided cokes (Southern for soft drinks) like the plague as I normally do in everyday life, but the past few weeks, a late afternoon Diet Dr. Pepper has become somewhat of a daily ritual. That ritual may or may not also involve a bean burrito from Taco Bell.

It has to stop.

Jack, the product of my perfectly executed first pregnancy, is pretty dang flawless in my opinion. Sure he’s strong-willed (stubborn) and the pickiest eater around (aside from myself), but other than that we’ve got ourselves a golden boy on our hands. I’m worried that my less than ideal habits with baby boy #2 (yes, it’s a boy) may equate to a less stellar version of baby boy #1.

I’ve got to turn this pregnancy around.

No more late afternoon Taco Bell runs. No more ordering pizza multiple nights in a row. More walking. Less chemicals.

Starting tomorrow, of course.

In my previous post I shared some photos from the first half of our summer. Below you will find pictures from the second half of summer, which include Jack’s first birthday and a trip to Florida, as well. Hope you are enjoying some cooler temperatures this weekend. We are loving this late summer cold-front here in Texas!

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Not interested in his smash cake AT. ALL.

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Not really interested in the beach either. Boo.

Summertime, and the Livin’ is (Sort Of) Easy

It is safe to say that I have been on a blog writing hiatus for the past month or so. I felt sure that once school ended for the year I would have nothing but time on my hands. Time to write. Time to clean and cook. Time to relax. I suppose I underestimated the amount of undivided attention an almost one year old requires. Now don’t get me wrong… I love taking care of my little guy and feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to stay at home with him from now on, but holy Hell is it hard! Baby Jack- soon to be Toddler Jack (not to be confused with Simple Jack)– is in to absolutely everything. He is an ER trip waiting to happen (happened, but that’s a whole other story).

And the kid is not a napper. Who are these people whose children nap for 2-3 hours at a time? What is their secret? I am lucky to squeeze a 45 minute nap out of my child each day, and I have so many things to accomplish during those 45 minutes that I accomplish absolutely nothing. It’s all kinds of awesome. I am really good at starting tasks and really, really bad at finishing them.

In addition to neglecting every major bullet point on my to-do list this summer, I have also been busy traveling. In June the hubs and I took our first baby-free vacay to the land of hipsters and heat… Palm Springs. My husband was a groomsman in the destination wedding we attended. I was happy to hold the title of wedding guest extraordinaire (self-appointed title, but title nonetheless). I had no obligations other than to show up to the rehearsal dinner and wedding. I took it upon myself to take full advantage of the pool and more importantly poolside bar. It was glorious… And then I was SO ready to be home with my sweet little boy.

Why we decided to fly out of LAX the morning after a wedding I will never know, but it’s a good thing that there was a cute little muffin baby waiting on the other side, because I can say with some degree of confidence that I wouldn’t have survived that brutal trip home otherwise.

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The Texans of the group paying respect to one of our favorite locals in a little film shot in town called Dazed and Confused. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it tonight. 

About a week after Palm Springs, Jack and I trekked it down to the Texas Riviera (gulf coast) with my parents. It’s almost like the Mexican Riviera, except pretty much the complete opposite. Despite the brown water and stinky sea-weed covered beaches, there is something rather charming about our little coastal towns. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia aspect that draws us back year after year.

We are beach people, so I was thrilled when we took Jack down to the beach the very first morning and he absolutely loved it. He squealed in delight! He giggled with glee! We could not keep him out of the water! And then he got nailed in the face with a wave… So long beach and hello pool.

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Jack loved spending time in the pool with his papa.

 We also got a day of rain while at the beach. Luckily, the Texas State Aquarium wasn’t too far away.

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Jack pointing at all of the “doggies” (aka fish). 

Not long after our trip to the coast, it was time for the annual 4th of July neighborhood parade. We live in an older neighborhood in town. In fact, my mom grew up on the very street that I now live on, and she has proudly walked in the parade for the past 50+ years, and my sister and I spent every 4th of July as children dressing up for the parade. Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal in my family.

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With two summer trips and a holiday down, it is time to plan Baby Jack’s first birthday party. I can’t believe my sweet boy will be one in a little over a week… Check out the adorable invitation I created on Shutterfly:

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I’ve been all over Pinterest searching for decoration, cake, and food ideas for the big day. Stay tuned for my next blog post documenting the day I attempted to make a “practice” cake for his birthday. That day was yesterday, and it’s safe to say that I am still recovering from the whole debacle. It was quite the sh*t show.

Bitty Baby Box

I have finally made it to my last week of school… Ever.

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I’m going to miss (most of) my kids and all of the ladies on the 4th grade team who I’ve been so fortunate to work with, but I can pretty much guarantee a happy dance as I walk out of my classroom for the last time on Friday. Gone will be the days of endless grading, the pressure of statewide testing, unnecessary meetings, high-maintenance parents, and bureaucratic crapola in general.

I can permanently delete my five o’clock alarm, say goodbye to eating breakfast in the car, and possibly even find the time to make dinner… Possibly. Jack will get me at my best now instead of twelve hours deep into my day when I am mentally spent. Checked out. Basically brain dead. Twenty-four 4th graders can do that to you. But then again so can a 10-month-old… Maybe things won’t be so different after all?

The past few days we’ve been hinting about our latest endeavor on the LWO Facebook page… The Bitty Baby Box. I am so excited about our monthly subscription box which will consist of organic products from home and abroad, such as food samples, articles of clothing, and other baby necessities that we can’t wait to share with you. We are starting small and offering only twelve subscriptions for our first shipment mid-July. Here is the age/gender availability breakdown:

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0-6 months- 3 boxes

6-12 months- 3 boxes

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0-6 months- 3 boxes

6-12 months- 3 boxes

A one-month subscription will cost $30/box including shipping. Checkout our Facebook page to peek into our July box! If you would like to reserve your spot for the month of July, fill out a registration form here.