DESIGN · PERSONAL

BIG NEWS: I Made A Unicorn and It’s So Fluffy!

Back in May 26, 2015, I designed the most magical unicorn for my friends at Undercover.

Juicy, a handsome + good-hearted unicorn was born in an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper that was then hand painted, scanned and digitalized with love by my 10 little fingers. 

Since his earliest days, Juicy has worked side by side with a handful of do-good organizations to help children in need. He’s become somewhat of a celebrity around town for his good looks and philanthropic endeavors.

But he’s lived in Rainbow-2D-Land. Until now.

Juicy is officially ALIVE!!! And it’s so fluffy!!! All thanks to the great vision of #girlboss Mary Quintero, CEO of Undercover.

Meet Juicy Fernando, the most magical friend for a rainy any day.

Want one?

I am so so so happy to announce that Juicy Fernando is now available for pre-order here!

First parcels will ship out October 1st, 2018. My birthday month. Hip hip hooray!

Save 15% when you order during the pre-sale period. Plus knock and EXTRA 10% when you use my exclusive coupon code “messy” (without the quotations).

Click here to shop now!

Be sure to follow the hashtag #JuicyFernando to catch Juicy’s adventures. 

 

 

 

Designed by @mayicarles

Powered by @undercoverboots

 

 
PERSONAL

Did I Ever Tell You About That Time I Got Stranded in an Island?

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, when I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and I see all those gorgeous pics of millennials having money fights in yachts (or what surely looks like it), I secretly daydream of fame + glory.

Sometimes, when I’m filming videos for my blog, I fantasize about having my very own video crew – make-up artist + personal stylist + copy wizard on my team + art director + second camera gal for B-Roll. It would be nice. And easier.

Sometimes, when I’m planning my launches, I imagine what it would be like to do everything I wanna do without having to worry about the freaking budget.

Sometimes… WAIT!

Did I ever tell you about that time I got stranded in an island?

Here’s the story.

I used to be a Program Coordinator for a Central American initiative that gathered the very top leaders in the region under one roof to talk about leadership and giving back. My back in the day gig.

Roatan, Honduras. June 28 2009. I was getting the final details ready for our next leadership seminar so I could finally go snorkeling. At approximately 9AM one hundred soldiers stormed the president’s residence in Tegucigalpa + flew him to San José, Costa Rica. Actions which he immediately called a “coup” upon his arrival there.

Later that day, Roberto Micheletti, the President of Congress and next in the presidential line of succession, declared a “state of exception” suspending civil liberties + various curfews were imposed nationwide.

Our conference was canceled. Obviously. Airports were closed. Mojito pool service was suspended. Sh*t!

Three days in, I’m STILL stranded on this island will all these VIPs, but no seminar. Things start to get scarier, and then… I have this vivid memory of Andres Botran, CEO of Ron Botran*, sitting by my side making phone calls.

* Mind you, Ron Botran is a line of rums from Guatemala distilled by the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, the same distillery that produces the world renowned + award-winning Zacapa line of rums. Aka his a freaking big deal.

Andres hangs up the phone, and says, “I got us a plane out of here, but it’s gotta happen within the next 3 hours. All bags stay behind”.

This would be a secret operation since all air travel was banned.

“I’m in”, I said. It seemed like my one opportunity to do something dangerous + adventurous to tell my grandkids. My Mission Impossible moment.

That night I arrived safely in Panamanian soil. Coincidentally it’s also the night David asked me to be his girlfriend.

And that day I learned about the power of being somebody. Someone very important people respect + admire + love. About the power of knowing people, who know people, who know people. About the power of being able to snap fingers + make the unimaginable happen.

And I remember thinking, “I WANT SOME OF THAT!”

One day I want be able to pick up the phone and be like, “Hey sistah, it’s Mayi Carles here. I need a favor. I mean a plane.” Or whatever.

For years, I’ve been scared to reveal this secret. Will people think I’m an ego-maniac? Am I?

Am I ku-ra-zy for wanting to live in a world were problems get solved by people? Not United Nations, not governments, but PEOPLE?

Am I selfish for wanting to live in a world were honest hard work gives you influence? Influence to truly create big tsunamis of change in the world, the good kind?

Am I opportunistic for wanting to live in a world where karma is at stake everyday all day? Karma that gets innocent people out of sticky situations, sometimes in the form of a private jet, why not?

Am I alone? Wouldn’t it be nice to be recognized? To be stopped in the street by complete strangers, “Hey, I saw what you did there. I thought that was pretty cool.” And to use that “celebrity” status to make the world a better place?

Can we talk about it? In the comments? Cuz I don’t want to feel weird about this anymore.

LIFESTYLE · PERSONAL

A Messy Guide to Traveling with Kids

Tuileries Garden, Paris, France – 2018

It’s no secret that I’m a hermit at heart, but when I do leave the house/office, I LOVE to explore the world + go on adventures with my family.

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I survive bringing Olivia on board. It’s funny you ask because I’m still pleasantly surprise I’ve pulled it off without casualties.

Still, let me be the first to confess that I definitely don’t have all the answers when it comes to traveling smoothly with a 2 year old toddler. What I can provide is a little insight as to how we do it wing it, in case you’re curious + feel inspired to go on your own family outings.

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy – 2016

I’ve rounded up a lot of answers to some of your most frequently asked questions below. Let’s call it A Messy Guide to Traveling with Kids, and living to tell the tale.

The Comb of The Wind, San Sebastian, Spain – 2018

Is traveling with kids really worth it?

I know some people feel strongly that taking kids around the world when they won’t be able to remember it all perfectly is a total waste. I see your point. You might actually be right.

But! David + I truly believe exposing Olivia at a very young age to different cultures + smells + tastes + languages + people, really helps her grow – turn her into a less high maintenance little dictador and more into a mini warrior capable of adapting to any given situation or environment (except when not feed).

I always joke that our goal is to raise a wash n’ wear kid. Not a dry clean one. Can you imagine? It would make parenting so much harder than it already is. 

Rome, Italy – 2016

I’ve also found that not many things top the memories our family has created while traveling, Of course, once you get over that first panic attack of “are we crazy, can we really do this?” It’s ALL worth it – the good (discovering an amazing gelato parlor) + the not so good (getting lost in an airport). 

If anything, traveling together has helped build a special bond between us I am thankful for.

At home + the office everything is such a GO GO GO – emails + launches + live calls (and making sure the nanny distracts Olivia so she doesn’t interrupt the webinar) + to-do lists + groceries + client projects + passion projects + house chores, that we rarely have sacred time as a family of three, know what I mean?

Time stops the moment you’re on vacation. You forget the time. You don’t know if it’s Sunday or Monday. It’s pretty neat. 

Louvre Palace, Paris, France – 2018
Biarritz, France – 2018
La Rioja, Spain – 2018
Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy – 2016

Additionally, as you can probably tell, I’m obsessed with documenting the journey with photos + videos + Insta Stories. Oli often asks me to watch our travel clips over and over again or look at pictures from past vacations. 

Maybe she won’t remember any of it. But we sure will.

Bilbao, Spain – 2018

How do you manage sleeping during your trips?

We like to book a hotel with a king size bed so Olivia can sleep in the middle, just like we do at home. Yes, we co-sleep.

Some hotels, especially in Europe don’t offer this option (even if they say so in their website), so we have to settle for joined-twin beds. I let it slide, but not before whining to hubby + having a lil’ diva moment. Then I remember I’m on vacation, and I calm myself before I wreck myself. Whenever we get a joined bed arrangement, I grab the extra comforter in the room closet, lay it in the middle of the bed, and voila!

Rome, Italy – 2016

Olivia has never been the crib-lover type so she’s grown accustomed to sleeping anywhere as long as mom + dad are on the bed. I guess this has it’s pro’s + cons, doesn’t it? But during travels it’s definitively an advantage.

Oh! And I travel with my pillow, cause not all pillows are created equal. Makes anywhere feel like home.

Tip: Exhaust all your resources to tire out your child before arriving to your room, so when they land on that bed they pass out immediately. Those precious moments of utter silence to scroll your phone + edit photos + post Insta Stories are priceless.

It’s also worth noting that we go for hotels over airbnbs. We like the convenience of having our beds made + fresh towels everyday.

Another biggie is choosing a centric home base in case you have to catch your breath in the middle of the day. We don’t mind splurging a bit more on a hotel to make sure we’re close to everything, and we can easily go back, if needed.  

Montmartre, Paris – 2018

How do you handle meals while traveling?

The biggest thing is to hit a grocery store as soon as we arrive to stock up on healthy snacks (fresh fruit + yogurt + granola + muesli + water), cause no one wants to pay for overcharged water at the hotel mini bar or deal with anyone that’s hangry, including mama when traveling. Game changer.

Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy – 2016

We do a couple of these market runs during the trip. Personally, I really enjoy seeing all the foreign/local food offered. You can tell so much about a place from what they eat, can’t you? And I love to bring home some staples, like a really nice truffle oil or decadent chocolates.

When it comes to dinning out we typically don’t make restaurant reservations. We either ask the concierge at the hotel + friends who’ve been there recently or clients who live there for recommendations. As much as we love an amazing foodie experience (have your seen Chef’s Table? Our fave show EVER!), we rarely go for the trendy Michelin-star rated spots. We opt for the local laid back favorites. 

Florence, Italy – 2016

If I was traveling alone with David, we wouldn’t mind the pretentiousness + the dressing up for the occasion + the long lines + the doll-size food + the bill. We would actually dig the theatricality, and talk about it for ages. But with a kid, heck to the no. Simple, is better.

Also, let me say, we’ve been surprised to find out that eating out with Olivia (and my nice + nephew on our most recently trip) is far more enjoyable than expected. Watching the kids eat an authentic paella or ask to dip their fries in a special aioli sure warms our hearts.

Zarautz, Spain – 2018

A few more tips when it comes to eating out:

  • Ask for a booth or corner table.
  • Order right when you sit down.
  • Ask for the check when your food comes.
  • Wine always makes you a more tolerant parent.
  • Let your kid sprinkle gummy bears on top of her croissant if she so desperately wants to. 
  • Bring a bag of small toys + sticker books for entertainment (I’m an absolute tyrant when it comes to allowing iPads/phones at the table. Don’t like it. Won’t  tolerate it in my regime. Any other time yes, but not here!)
  • Order something safe from the menu.
  • Order something audacious to try something new.
  • Share food.
  • Always order dessert. No one wants to be related to that person who’s counting calories on vacay.
  • Do a restroom run first thing, and last before leaving the restaurant.
Subway, Paris, France – 2018

Do you travel with a stroller?

I bring our stroller along all the time. We rarely use it at home, but we swear by it when traveling abroad.

We enjoy wandering by foot. We like to get to know a place by walking, several miles if we need to. Having the stroller to rely on is wonderful.

Also, it truly helps in the airport! We don’t even check ours with our luggage. We use it throughout the airport + check it at the plane doors or fit it into the overhead compartment (one of the nice perks of the model we purchased).

In case you’re interested we have the BabyZen YOYO+. What we love about this particular stroller is that it folds and unfolds + can be carried like a bag + can be driven with one hand (the suspension is SICK) + fits just about anywhere + it’s easily stored + can be taken as cabin luggage. Sure makes life easier when you want to grab a bite + catch an Uber + hop on the subway or fly to the other end of the world. After doing my research, it seems like the best fit for our family.

What I love about bringing a stroller along is that it serves as a home base during our days of exploring, where Oli can sit + relax or nap when needed. Oh! And if mama ever feels like shopping, guess what carries all the bags? Wink wink.

I think we’re blessed thou with a child that has no problem taking stroller naps, since her earliest days. And we don’t take that for granted. 

Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen, Panamá – 2018

How to you survive airports + lengthy flights with kids?

Here are my top tricks to surviving airports + long flights:

  • Wear comfy matching outfits. Bonus if you look like an Olympic ping pong team. 
  • If you’re traveling with a stroller, don’t check it with your bags. Once you get to the gate, be sure to go up + check in straight away. They will give you a tag for your stroller + also help you board the plane first, which is nice so you can get situated before all hell breaks loose (just kidding). But seriously, probably the best perk to flying with kids is getting to board early!
  • If you’re traveling with a baby, nurse or give them a pacifier during take-off + landing. That constant sucking + swallowing motion can help with the plane changing pressure considerably. For toddlers, you can give them something to eat during this time so they are also chewing.
  • The iPad is my best friend during long flights. Something I never thought I’d say a few years ago. We didn’t expose Olivia to a screen until she turned 1, and we allow minimal screen time at home, so Oli is always elated to get a free pass to watch all the movies she wants on the plane, and we happily oblige. Her all-time-favorite is The Sound of Music + her current obsession is a tie between Ferdinand + Coco.
  • Get on-ear headphones. Airplane ones suck. We got some pretty cheap ones for $17 that were comfortably padded, but you can go nuts if you can and get fancy noise-blocking ones.  
  • Pack a carry on full of surprises! A new coloring book + little animals + reusable stickers + play dough + a toy doctor kit + gel markers. 
  • Also, pack snacks in your carry on that are easy to eat + keep their blood sugar up.  We take grapes + blueberries (careful, they stain) + pretzels with chocolate hazelnut butter + empanadas + raisins + granola bars. I also bring her favorite treats – chocolate covered goji berries + gummies, for manipulation purposes only.
  • When the seatbelt sign is turned off and it’s okay to move around, take a walk up + down the aisles. It’s hard enough for me as an adult to sit still for an hour or two, so I can’t imagine forcing a child to. Plus! It helps to break up the trip, especially if it’s hours upon hours to let them get a bit of exercise.
  • Be nice to the people around you. I remember I made homemade granola favors for Olivia’s first trip (she was 6-months old and we we’re flying to a wedding in Vieques, Puerto Rico) to apologize in advance to my fellow passengers for what they were about to experience. I was always that person who hated seating close to a crying baby, and now I was about to become that mom. Oh God! Oli was still breastfeeding at the time + she ended up sleeping the entire plane ride, but the point is: be a nice and considerate human being. Doesn’t hurt to say hello when you sit down + apologize up front for any crying + spilling or chaos that may break loose at some point during the flight. And let them know you will do your best to keep it to a minimum. 

Not gonna lie. So far, we’ve been really really lucky in our flights. Great people around us, as well as great flight attendants. And when we travel with other family members, everyone help us + we take sleeping shifts. It makes such a big difference.

Very occasionally you may see an eye roll, but for the most part, people are awesome, which makes me regain my faith in humanity. Several folks have actually offered help when they see you could use a hand. They understand you’re just trying to get somewhere too.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France – 2018

How do you decide what activities to do + where to go to keep both the adults + kid(s) happy?

Everyone does as I say. Period.

Kidding.

What happens is Oli is still small. It’s kind of a breeze, because she just cruises in her little stroller vehicle as we wander around museums or shops. 

I know my days are counted thou. Soon enough, Olivia will have a say in the activity planning. And my life will be over.

Kidding.

Florence, Italy – 2016

Obviously we enjoy wine tours + majestic cathedral strolls + shopping sprees, but nothing beats a stop at a carrusel + bookshop + outdoor playground + pasticceria or children’s section at any department store, and seeing Olivia’s eye light up. And so do ours.

Athletic Club Bilbao, Spain – 2018
Galerie Lafayette, Paris, France – 2018

We love seeing her so happy, and I think that’s what ends up happening to all us parents. We soften up in our knees. It’s pretty pathetic. And beautiful.

You know what else? Something we have found to work really well is to show Olivia pictures + maps + YouTube videos + books of the places we are headed, and talk about our trip far in advance. The anticipation of a trip can be as exciting as the trip itself. 

 

Nassau, Bahamas – 2016
Monte Igueldo, Spain – 2018

If I missed anything you are curious about, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to respond!

Florence, Italy – 2016

And if you have any tips of your own that you don’t mind sharing, I would really appreciate it. We have a big trip coming up – the farthest destination yet, and we’re a bit nervous, and could use a hand.

Biarritz, France – 2018
Rome, Italy – 2016

If you only remember one thing from this article please let it be this: Don’t stress yourself out too much about traveling with little ones. You got this! You are a super mom! You were showered with invisible mom superpower confetti capable of achieving the impossible in extraordinary circumstances.

I promise it’s much easier than it looks. Let me even dare say it’s much more straightforward + intuitive + simple than parenting from home. I swear! Or else I wouldn’t keep doing it, do you think I’m a masochist? 

LIFESTYLE · PERSONAL

It’s Been a Heck of a Year (A Letter To My Daughter On Her First Birthday)

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I can’t believe its been a year already. I mean, we just brought her home, like so little ago! Now she is one. ONE you guys!!! How could one feel so huge?

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to get Baby O (or should I call her Little O now?) on her first birthday. She is beautifully uncomplicated. Would rather play with Tupperwares + keys + boxes + TV remotes, than most toys. Simple things. They make her totally happy.

New cute clothes + hair accessories + shoes, those things would only be for me, she’d rather be naked!

So, I stayed up late writing her a heartfelt, teary-eyed mommy to daughter letter (the first of a lifetime of birthday letters I supposed).

Here I go.

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To my beautiful daughter on your first birthday,

You turned ONE! Un añito mi pequeña malvabiscos.

I always thought that at your first birthday party I’d be sitting in a dark corner sticking nails in my eyes in protest of you turning one. Of course, it’s bitter sweet to see how quickly time is passing + how fast you are growing up, but it’s also so incredibly exciting to witness you bloom. So, for the time being, I will hold off the protesting in exchange of watching you become you.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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I‘ll never forget the first day we brought you home from the hospital. You were so teeny tiny, remember? I was afraid to get you out of the car seat… I was panicking about walking you up the stairs to your room… I was terrified to be left unsupervised + expected to keep you alive.

Your dad + I were like, “Alright, we’re a family of three now. We’ve got this.” Of course, we really had no idea what we were doing. I sure had no idea what I was doing or what being a mother truly meant. My! How quickly things have changed.

With each new day + passing milestone, I would say, “OH! This THIS is my favorite stage!” Then I would find myself saying the exact same thing the next day. And the next. And the week after that. I quickly learned that each day is better than the day before when you’re around.

In a way, we all grew together over the past year. You learned many things, we learned many things.

You learned to laugh, and I learned that your giggle is my new favorite sound in life.

You learned to point point point your finger at things, and I learned that you are a girl who knows exactly what she wants.

You learned to say “papapapapa” + “mamamamamamamama”. Then you learned to say “agua” + “Peppa Pig”, and I learned you are one smart cookie.

You learned to nurse, and I learned that breastfeeding you on demand for 12 months wasn’t a sacrifice at all. It was the greatest gift. Despite the social pressures + awkward interrogations, I cherish the memories of having you so close to me, wrapped in my arms. Our happy place.

You learned to push doors + open drawers, and I learned that nothing could ever get in your way. You’re surely on a mission. And I’m psyched to be Hand of The Queen.

You learned to eat solids, and I learned you don’t care much for spoon planes or purees, you would rather grab your meal with your own chubby little fingers, don’t you? So I channeled my energy at researching every nutritional fact about every food + cooked for you every day so you could grow strong. Did you know, petit pois, your favorites, are very high in fiber, which is essential to ensure regular bowel movements? But let’s leave poo for another time, shall we?

You learned to push your little cart everywhere, go places by yourself, and I learned to stop chasing you, learned to let you go. Mi vasquita, you are so painfully independent, yet always find a way back into my arms.

You learned to roll over, to crawl, to sit up, to take your first steps, and I suddenly learned that you wouldn’t stay a baby forever. That’s alright! No matter how many candles you blow, as long as I’m your momma, in my heart my baby you will always be.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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Funny thing is, in many ways, you taught us more than we taught you.

Each day I watch you learn + explore the world around you + I find myself getting excited about the simple joys in life again.

The love you have for the wind…

The way you gaze at the trees…

How you light up when you see a bird…

Your need to ring every door bell + flicking every light switch…

Your pull towards grandma’s coo coo clock…

The fascination you have with swimming pools…

Your obsession with my office supplies…

Your intrigue at whatever dad’s eating. (By the way, that’s how we get you to try most things, we just put it on daddy’s plate. Works every time!)

Enjoying the little things with you was been the bestest!

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I’ve learned to see the world through your eyes + suddenly, everything is even more amazing.

I love being your personal jungle gym.

I love being your favorite pillow.

I love being your safety blanket.

I love loving life with you!

I have been determined to soak up every day with you, especially since you waste no time growing up.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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I took you to the ocean, and you crawled straight into it, fearless, with purpose. You are a total beach babe. That’s why daddy calls you Sirenita (translation: Little Mermaid). You love the water so much, since day one.

I took you to the movies to see The Force Awakens dressed up as R2D2. The force is strong in you child. Feel it. It’s calling to you!

I took you on playdates with your besties Isa Mar + Martina. You shared with them your Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs set, which is your fave. I saw you. And I was so proud of you baby.

I took you to Puerto Rico + flew you on an 8-passenger charger to Vieques to attended your first wedding par-TAY!!!

I took you to Disney World + dressed you up as Snow White, the cutest princess in the magical kingdom. We then sailed away on the Disney Cruise through the Caribbean + dressed you up as the cutest pirate in the seven seas.

But mostly, we spent our days in “goofball island”, which happens to be my favorite also.

You love playing “pick a boo”. You will look me in the eye, grab the closest pillow or blanky you can find, cover your face with it, hold still for a second, then remove it really quick, and surprise me with the biggest giggle. Donde esta Olivia??? Allí esta Olivia!!!

You love books, specially the ones with animals. The lion is your absolute favorite. How do I know? Cuz you “rooooar” when we land on the African safari page.

You love banana bread. Makes you incredibly hyper, so we only feed you that on rare occasions.

You love circling coffee tables like an Olympic athlete doing laps. And while you’re at it, you make sure to knock every piece of decor in your reach + rearrange it to your liking. It’s a skill.

You love Barney. I swore an oath I would never endorse that purple dinosaur in my house, but you LOVE IT. I mean LOVE IT. Okaaaaay. You win.

You love cruising around with movable furniture + making me chase you.

You love tickle fights. And sword fights (ahem ahem, I mean paper straw fights) too.

You love when your grandparents come to visit, so much. And your God Mother too. Heck, you love when the entire clan of comes over.

You love to kidnap our phones + pretend to talk on it. Alooooo!!! 

You love Iker, your big cousin, the greatest baby sitter of all time. It’s the only time you ignore us. No complaining. We gladly use this moment to sit by the sidelines + catch our breath + have a cocktail with an umbrella.

Oh! And you LOVE music. You dance + hum anytime you hear it. You love when Abuelo Cutito plays the guitar + sings to you. And you love drumming to the beat on papa bears belly so much.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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For the record, you’ve never been a great sleeper. You have too much to look at + do for any of that nonsense.

We joke, “Winter is coming” every time the sun is setting.

Yeah. Bedtime has been difficult. I just try to remember how hard it must be to be for you, being so new in this world, thought most of the time I wish you would just fall asleep already for 8 hours straight, preferably in your own mattress, ideally in your own room.

Then it dawns on me that one day you won’t want me singing 12 lullabies or reading 5 books. And that day, I’ll long for the nights I used to rub your little back to help you fall asleep. But mostly, I will miss watching a tu papa check your breathing every 3 minutes to double check you’re still alive. It’s hilarious.

So for now, we’re okay with Plan B: Letting you sleep in our room tonight.

It will soon be over.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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Oh! And do you know why we call you Terremotin (alias Mounstrito)? Because changing your clothes, or diapers for that matter, is like wrestling with a greased Tazmanian devil. You are so not a fan of being still, let me tell ya’.

And you absolutely love being naked! I let you once, be all clothes-less + diaper-less, but it didn’t end pretty. About 30 seconds in I found myself wiping up pee off the floor. So until you’re all potty training will hold off on being naked, alright?

It’s been a heck of a year.

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And have I told you how stunningly beautiful you are? Your Minnie Mouse lashes + gorgeous dark blue eyes have, literally, stopped strangers in their tracks. (What a beautiful baby!)

But even more mesmerizing than your looks, is the beauty of your personality. It amazes everyone that meets you. Wherever we are, you wave + throw kisses + give high fives + clap your hands, as if you were part of the welcoming committee. Everyone wants to be around you. It’s a pull. You’ve got it.

It’s been a heck of a year.

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We did it, Miss Olivia. We survived the first round!

As you can probably tell, forty weeks inside my belly wasn’t enough time to prepare my heart for the magnitude of “motherly love”. I’m convinced that’s why moms cry so much, ya’ know? Cuz we have so much love in us, it can’t possibly fit all inside our bodies, so we overflow. That’s what tears are, joy exploding out of our eyes like liquid confetti.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I am so grateful that you chose me to be your mommy Olivia. You know I asked for you too, right? Dad + I both did. We wished for you… dreamed about you… waited our whole lives for you. You are our bucket list. I want you to know that.

Thank you for the lessons + the laughter + the wake up calls of what’s truly important in life. Thanks for changing me forever + bringing out the best in me. You make me want to be better + do better, not only as a mother but as a wife + sister + daughter + friend. You’re like a lil’ performance enhancing happy hippo pill.

I hope when you’re able to read this letter, years down the road, you will smile, and know that the day you were born was the happiest day of my life. And my first year as a mother my greatest adventure!

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Happy 1st b-day sweetheart!

Your dad + I love you very VERY much.

Te amo infinito.

(aka your Mommy)

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

BUSINESS · LIFESTYLE · PERSONAL

Juggling Life As Girl Boss and New Mommy (Plus My Top 20 Comeback Tips)

Mayi Carles Kate Space January 4

The other day I was talking to my friend Farideh about the challenge of being a new mom + an entrepreneur. She shared with me this quote, which pretty much sums it up: You want to work like you never had children and you want to be a mom like you don’t have a business.

Every mom/entrepreneur in the room is shaking her head up + down right now. I know it.

For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to pick up my slack + get back to the office. The day I had to become both a girl boss AND a mom, like, AT THE SAME TIME. I mean, cuz I know how to do the girl boss thing on it’s own. Even mastered the mommy thing during maternity leave. But! BOTH. Damn it!!!

For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to embody the challenge of wanting to work like I didn’t have a baby to love + wanting to be a mom like I didn’t have a creative empire to run.

It’s the whispers that affect me the most, ya’ know? The little voices inside my head that tell me what I could or should be doing. The gremlins that lure me out of gratitude + happiness. The mental script that teases me into comparing myself with strangers on the Internet. Those moms that are making homemade play dough + wearing Baby & Me matching outfits, while I’m here all like, “I got out of bed + brushed my hair. Go me!”

It’s exhausting.

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I guess it all comes back to fear. Fear of missing out. Missing out on being good enough. A good enough CEO. A good enough mom. It’s my struggle, and I suspect in some ways, it’s yours too. That fear of falling into the cracks of mediocrity… of abandoning our path… of walking out of our true calling… of giving up those precious moments that hold meaning to us so we can prove that we aren’t missing out.

And of course we know inside our hearts that we are everything. E-VERY-THING. That we are exactly where we need to be. On course. On track. Right here. Except when we skip a nap or breakfast because we said YES when we really meant NO. Those times, we really do miss out, on our own live.

Know what I discovered? That we cannot trade living life for what-if, because we’re afraid to miss out a big opportunity, the one that could be our big break. You know what my biggest break was this week? Watching Olivia say “PAH-pa-pa-pa-pa-PAAA-pa” for the first time.

In a way these past months have been about finding the courage to enjoy NOW for what is.

This is a stage. Just a stage. The checking-to-see-if-Olivia-is-still-breathing stage + the car-seat-tantrum stage + the shhhhhh-the-baby’s-sleeping stage. It’s all a stage. Everything’s a stage. And every stage has a beginning + an end. Just a couple of weeks ago we got over the sleeping-in-two-hour-intervals stage, and I tell you the truth: I miss it a lil’ bit because it means my baby’s all grown up. She was so tiny, like, yesterday. What happened?

The years are long, but the days go by so so fast you guys.

Maybe we become. Slowly. Perhaps at some point down the road we all the sudden become worthy to be called “ma-ma-ma-ma” + wear the superhuman boss boots.

Or maaaay-be we unbecome. Gently. Perhaps we unlearn how to be Robocop-woman, and we just are the journey. 

I think it’s the latter.

I trust it’s the latter. Because everyday I close my calendar of perfectionism + give myself permission to stay one more hour in my pijamas (or three) + to snuggle Olivia until we both become one breath + to watch one more episode of Modern Family with hubby (or a whole season) + to have a grilled cheese sandwich in bed… it gets easier. Life does.

I trust that a place in a galaxy not that far away exist, where I don’t have to give up my passion projects + I don’t have to say good-bye to those chubby little hands that like crawling up my chest from 9 to 5 from Monday through Friday. I don’t want to.

I believe there is a place where girl boss meets super mommy, for tea + ginger cookies. And they get along.

The girl boss has the backbone to stay on course + the firmness to keep going for her dreams. The super mommy has the softness to be grateful + the heart to stay grounded. We need both to guide us home.

The girl boss reminds the super mommy of her mission in this world, which is greater than herself. And the super mommy reminds the girl boss that the world doesn’t need more successful people, what it needs is more unconditional lovers + more people who read “Once upon a time…” stories.

They need each other. The girl boss + the super mommy do. I really believe that now.

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My Top 20 Comeback Tips

Coming back to work after hibernating in maternity la-la-land has been sweet n’ sour.

After a long adjustment period, I really feel like I have found my happy rhythm. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, since I still catch myself saying things like “I survived” or “Winter is coming”, but I’m definitively getting somewhere that’s not bad at all.

If you’re looking to return to work after a a sabbatical + you’re freaking out a little (or a lot), I made a list of a few things that helped me transition back into the keyboards. Smoothly. Without hyperventilating.

Here are some handy tips to make your return from maternity leave easier from a momma who’s just been there:

1. Plan It 

If you don’t already run your life around a calendar now is the time to start. David and I both work + have a very hands-on approach to raising Olivia, so it’s nice to schedule date nights + trips. Things to look forward to in between the craziness of building our own brands + parenthood.

Of course, every family’s tolerance level is different. Ours, for example, doesn’t do well on a fixed hour-by-hour routine or controlled feeding feeding/napping schedule, but we have learned that we cannot go more than a week without a movie + we start to get really cranky if we don’t go to our beach house for long stretches of time. So, we make fun plans all the time. And those plans are locked down on the calendar.

We have also become very guarded of our social schedule + only plan for things we really REALLY want to do.

2. Share the Load

Whether you return to work 10 hours a week or 50, you will need to enlist the help of others to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Since we can’t add hours to our day when we return to work or have a Time-Turner like Hermione, we must make adjustments to our existing schedule to fit it all in.

I’m a big advocate of bring family onboard. I literally assign missions to everybody who offers a hand. My mom-in-law helps with the groceries. My sister is great at taking the night shift. Mom babysits during date nights. Auntie Kari distracts Olivia while mommy has lunch. Everyone has a role, an important role. It’s because of them that I’m still sane.

Like the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I see it unfolds in front of my very eyes everyday.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will not make you any less of a mother. I promise.

3. Find the Right Job

When I was returning to work, I made the mistake I see a lot of my gal pals make when going back. I undervalued myself. “I’ve been gone for 6 months.” “Everyone’s forgotten who I am.” “I have nothing to offer.”

Within weeks, I had mastered the art of working while Olivia was rolling around on her foamy play-thingy or family came to visit (ahem, ahem, babysit). Quickly I was feeling underutilized + bored. I had underestimated myself.

Being a mom doesn’t mean you’re all the sudden handicapped or sick. It just takes some re-adjustment + fine tuning.

Take some time to think about what you want to do + what your skills are + what your goals are for returning to work. Is this a return to full-time work that means pursuing a career until retirement, or is this a smaller return to increase your income while still prioritizing your family? What do you like to do? How much time can you give to a job? Can you work from home or would you rather separate the two?

Find a job that’s right for YOU. This is something you will want to talk with your partner, since it affect the whole family. So make sure to carve out time to involve hubby in the process.

4. Pass The Torch

Because I’m the boss of my own time, I tend to leave too many slots available for others people’s agendas + urgencies. I tend to overcommit. I’m that super volunteer people call when there’s an auction or a bake sale. It sucks.

Being a mom has taught me to let go of a few responsibilities, pass them on to someone else if you will. It’s been nice to finally have an excuse to excuse myself. Not that I needed one, but oh well.

5. Hire Help

Get someone in regularly to help out with cleaning + laundry + cooking or any day-to-day task that you dread doing now that time is of the essence.

Her name is Cati, our savor. She comes in weekdays from 8 to 5, and at the end of the day my floors are clean + the plants get watered + there’s homemade almond milk in the fridge. It’s AWESOME.

Plus, not only does hiring help alleviate your burden, you get to help out another working mom by hiring her. Extra AWESOME!

6. Don’t Worry

Try not to worry too much. Your baby will be fine + will not hold your ‘working mommy’ status against you. In fact, you well may turn out to be her role model. Take care + be kind to yourself. You deserve it!

7. Find Trustworthy Care Giver

Finding someone you can trust to take care of the baby in your absence is a big one. I feel very blessed to have family close by that I can count on to look after baby O when I have a doctor’s appointment or business meeting. You can always hire a nanny or find a close-by daycare, if family is not an option. But! Do your research + check references. Muy importante.

8. Pick the Feeding Method That’s Suits Your Family

I made the decision long ago that I wanted to breastfeed Olivia on demand. After overcoming a very rocky + painful start, I’m finally at that point were I really enjoy nursing. I LOVE that it requires no preparation, other than buttoning down my shirt. I LOVE that food is always available as long as we’re together. I LOVE how I feel when I see what my body is capable of doing.

Like that time we went to Vieques. Packing was so easy. And not having to worry about milk temperatures or sterilizing bottles at a remote hotel was lovely indeed.

Or like that other time we were stranded in traffic for 4 hours and 40 minutes coming back from the beach (a trip that usually takes us 1 hour + 20 minutes). No problem. Daddy just pulled over every time Oli wanted a little snack (wink). That was nice.

I really encourage expecting moms to think ahead + pick a feeding method that fits their lifestyle best.

9. Prioritize

Everyone knows I’m an avid list maker. Except now, besides making to-do lists, I make sure to circle in red the items that are top priority.

I’ve learned that not everything is an emergency, like updating my Facebook fanpage or alphabetizing my cookbook collection. If something can be done later, I put it on the back burner without guilt or shame. It’s an art. I think it comes with the hormones.

10. Learn to Say NO

When it comes to setting priorities + boundaries, I say NO many times. I’ve made it a habit.

Make NO your default setting. I know it sounds horrible, but look at it this way: Saying NO to stuff that’s not aligned with your big picture only means you get to say YES to what’s truly important. It’s called living with intention. And living in authenticity with your values is a beautiful thing.

11. Give Your Baby Quality Time

When I started taking a few clients here and there + getting back to blogging + going back to work in general after maternity leave, I made a pack with myself:

  1. Work stays in my studio.
  2. Set decent working hours.
  3. I will not take work home.

When I’m at work, I’m fully present. In my creative flow. The time I step out of my studio + enter my home, I devote it to my family. No working after dinner. No bringing my laptop to the beach. No inbox clean up in bed. No exceptions.

I think that’s one of the main reasons I don’t feel guilty about working or guilty about spending all this time with Olivia. It’s because I enjoy every instant I have with my virtual community + every slit second I get with my familia.

12. Have A Plan B

Sometimes, the best-laid plans can unravel. Tell me about is sistah!

It is possible that your nanny gets ill or the abuelita couldn’t get out of the office + cannot look after the baby as planned. Have a backup plan for such situations. I keep a little black book of options in case of emergencies – that friend you can always count on… that family member who keeps asking if you need an extra hand… that babysitter who can come to the rescue. It’s good to have options.

13. Look Your Best

You may have to buy a new wardrobe! Under no condition should you attempt to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. That’s a great recipe for disaster! Don’t go trying to stuff yourself into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Pick up some new clothes that will flatter your new body. You can also go for a haircut. Now will be a great time to try a new hairstyle. And while you are at it, get a facial + manicure + pedicure too!

14. Sleep, You’ll Need It

Once you return to work after maternity leave, you’ll truly understand what exhaustion feels like. Juggling work + family is one of the toughest jobs in the world. So, sleep whenever you can. That dirty bookshelf can be dusted later. That movie can be watched later. That pantry can be organized later. That homemade cake can be baked later. But you need sleep, NOW!

15. Practice Makes Almost Perfect

Before you jump into the workforce, do some practice runs. Let the babysitter try giving the baby milk out of a bottle. Let the nanny try bathing the baby without you. Let grandma put the baby to sleep without your aid. See what happens. Make adjustments. This will get you ready for the real thing.

16. Remember Why You Are Working

It may be because you need the money or because you need to work to stay sane. Whatever be the reason, remind yourself of it whenever you feel overwhelmed.

17. Let Go Of Momma Guilt

Guilt comes with the territory for most moms. Let go of it. Thousands of working moms manage to bring up amazing babies. My mom is a very successful lawyer. And I think she did pretty good.

Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself if you decide going back to work is the right thing for you.

18. There Is Life Besides The Baby (Hard To Believe, I Know)

No matter how much you love your baby, don’t make it the topic of all conversations. Your life may revolve around your baby, but others have different priorities.

Don’t blame your colleagues for not being interested in what your baby ate for dinner. Don’t blame your friends for not asking you to show them baby pictures. Don’t blame your husband if he wants to talk about something other than the baby’s poo color that day.

19. Don’t Compare Yourself With That Other Moms

Parenting is hard. Don’t compare. Make the best of the situation you + your partner picked. You will soon get into a routine. I promise it gets easier. I swear it gets easier.

20. Get Comfortable With The Stillness

My biggest shock getting back to work was realizing I would never be back, like as the Mayi from before Olivia I mean. Cuz, I used to be one of those bosses that was on call all the freaking time. For e-mails. For customer orders. For comments. For social media questions. For interviews. For round ups. For blog tours. For all nighters. For a catch up chat on Google Hangouts. I was there. Busy busy busy.

By removing all that busy work from my schedule I feared that my brand would fall apart. That I would no longer have friends. That I would PUFF, disappear from the radar.

For the first time in my life, I was forced to make room for emptiness. For alone time. For introspection. For my thoughts. Like when I’m nursing Olivia, I literally can’t do anything else. Don’t believe me? Go ask my Coordinator of Messy, Amanda Sue Howell. It’s true. Every time I try to send her a voice note to catch up on work while I’m breastfeeding or playing with Olivia, she let’s us know she’s not having the multi-tasking thing on her watch.

Being present requires work. Not busy work. Soul work.

In the words of Paul Jarvis (if you’re not signed up to his newsletter, you’re missing out big time): “When your work requires you to be creative, you need to be alone with your thoughts. You can’t get around it. You need the mental space to create.”

We prefer to fill up our days with social media + e-mails + WhatsApp messages + chores. It feels productive. But busyness rarely equals creativity.

Motherhood brings with it mandatory calmness. And with it the boundless possibility of an imaginative mind + an innovative spirit. We must sit though the discomfort, sometimes minutes… hours at a time just watching the baby sleep or ironing cute little clothes. It’s part of the job. And it pays creative dividends.

Stillness is not the ultimate punishment. It feels like it, but it’s the necessary path to true creative work that matters. Just wait + see all the stuff that I have lined up for us from all this quite time. Stay tuned!

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Ultimately thou, there is no amount of preparation that can fully prepare you for the transition from full-time momma bear to world domination biz lady. I think the hardest part with any comeback is always the learning-to-trust-the-mess part.

Trust your husband to take care of things in my absence. So what if he put on the diaper wrong? Let him bond with the baby while you catch your breath!

Trust your mom/mom-in-law/sister/nanny to take care of things in my absence. So they don’t sing like you or dance like you or play like you? Do not micromanage! Your baby doesn’t need mommy clones. What your baby needs is a fun grandma. A crazy aunt. A silly God Mother. A loving cousin that sometimes doesn’t want to share his toys. That’s what will ultimately prepare the baby for the world. Diversity will.

Trust yourself to take care of things to the best of my abilities with a sense of worthiness. If you feel like you are not being as productive at work as you were before, don’t worry. You have just become a mother for God’s sake. It is a HUGE accomplishment. Give yourself time. And talk to other women who are going thought this process. It helps.

Trust. Takes practice.

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To wrap up, here’s my final confession: I’ve changed. I’m more loose in the joints + chubbier on the cheeks + my eyes are a bit more wrinkly. In a lot of ways I’m uglier. Except to people who understand. Who get it. Who know what I’ve been through. To them, I’m prettier than ever before.

I’ll take it. It was all worth it.

It’s been therapeutic to write this. It really has. Thanks for sticking around till the end. Means so much to have a space to share this metaphorical Everest climb with.

Now I would like to hear from you. Are you returning to work after maternity leave? What is it you are worried about the most? What has helped you make the transition easier? Share it in the comments!

*This post is sponsored by Kate Spade NY. All content + ideas + words are my own.

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

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