Monday, February 5, 2018

2018: The New Years Card That Never Was (and a Four Months Late Birthday Party!)

So...2018 should have been our EIGHTH YEAR sending out a super cute card to our friends and family to ring in the New Year. Oops! Things were so crazy throughout the fall and holidays that it just never happened. We got my sister to take some very cute photos of us, I mocked up the card, and then, it was just too late. So, I let it go! The photos are keepers though:

I guess we'll revive that tradition next year. In the meantime, I'm happy we have family photos from the end of 2017. 

The other thing that fell by the wayside after our move fell through was Coco's birthday party. You see, in July, when we still thought we were moving, we had a Bon Voyage birthday party for Coco with her dear friends from her Montessori class. She was feeling really sad about not being able to invite those friends to her birthday party once we crossed the pond, so we decided to have a separate party just with them. 

Then when we didn't move...well, that was awkward. And it was not a quick conclusion, either! It took nearly six weeks to wait on the appeal and things were really in flux that whole time. Once we had finally moved into our current house, Coco's birthday was just 10 days away. Because she had only been at her kindergarten for a couple weeks and didn't have an established group of friends yet, it would have normally made sense to have a party with her Montessori friends. But, of course, we had just had a party with them a short while before. Yowza!

So, we waited and then a couple weekends ago, we had the absolute cutest birthday party for Coco. She invited a super sweet group of girls from her kindergarten class and it turns out that the end of January is primo birthday party time! Only ONE girl couldn't make it, due to Ski School and they all had so much fun. Pro tip: If you're looking to conceive, April is a great time. ;)

Not one, but TWO of Coco's very best friends actually have her exact same birthday! Needless to say, they were a little confused about the party happening in January. But, the mom of one of the girls said she thought it was pretty awesome. Her daughter's party had been all preschool friends and she would have loved to have delayed it until her social scene was better established at kindergarten. Winning!

So that is how our 2018 has started out. Now that February is here, maybe things will settle down a bit. Maybe? Possibly? Or maybe I'm just a perpetual hot mess? That's okay, too! 

How has 2018 started off for you? Are you feeling cool and collected, or all over the place? 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Have a darling weekend.

I'm in love with this baby bunny - and with those short black fingernails! I must schedule a gel manicure for this weekend and get mine done the same way toute de suite. What are you up to this weekend? I am absolutely dying for spring. It's been so unseasonably warm and rainy here that it's hard not to think that spring is just around the corner. I'm itching for longer days, more time outside and to feel warm sun on my face. It seems so close. Does it seem close where you are, too?

And here are a few links for your weekend:

I had all but forgotten about this album. So. Many. Memories.

Coco's class had a "stuffy party" (?!) and for her ONE stuffy, she chose to take this one. Heart warmed.

They don't call it beauty sleep for nothing!

Birdseye view.

I'm sorry, but there's just no way I cannot make this.

Still the worst DIY ever.

Emotional courage.

Whoa. I have no words. (But I'll never buy Frankincense again. Shoot!)


They are truly the best sandwiches in the world.

I'm absolutely loving this bag.

Sorry for the light posting this week! Theo has a stomach bug and J and I had a lot on our plates. So, enjoy your weekend and I plan to see you back here Monday! xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Birth Plans

Let's just talk about birth plans for a minute if we might. I was so determined to have a natural birth with Coco because I thought that it was somehow wrong or weak or a failure to get an epidural during labor. So I hired a doula for our birth and read tons of books by Ina May Gaskin and others, and got really into this school of thought that drug-free birth was actually superior to other births.

These photos of me are three days before Theo's due date. I was enormous. I did not hire a doula. I did not go into it determined to have a drug-free birth. I had had really debilitating lower back labor with Coco and I knew that it was less planning, preparation and will power than it was just sheer luck and genetics and body type that determine how a woman's birth will go.

So when I was searching for something else today and the website for The Bradley Method happened to come up in the Google results, I couldn't help but read the snippet which included a testimony declaring "People told us we shouldn't try to have a natural birth with our first baby -- 'find out what it's like first,' they'd say. But we decided we'd get it right the first time."

Oh man! That last line really made my blood boil. "...we decided we'd get it right the first time," as if there's such a thing as "getting it wrong." Arrrrgh.

I just want to say this loud and clear: If you are pregnant and fretting about getting your birth "right" just stop right now. Have an open mind, do your best to remain calm, surround yourself by supportive people or just have one or two trusted people with you if that sounds better, trust your body, trust yourself, don't approach it as a sport or competition, do what works for you, and place some trust in the professionals caring for you. When Theo was born, he was gigantic! But much to my surprise, never once did anyone mention a cesarean. I really believe that most of the time, if a recommendation is made, it is with the mother and baby's best interest in mind.

But I have to admit that this culture of "getting it right" is so pervasive that a huge part of my desire to have a third baby has come from wanting to finally "get it right" and have a drug-free birth. I still want to do it just so I can say I did. How stupid is that?! Seriously. I am forever grateful that western medicine has provided us with the tools and options not to die in childbirth at the numbers women did in the 19th century. And to suppose that using pain relief or a life-saving surgical option during labor and childbirth is not "getting it right" is incredibly narrow-minded.

Besides, childbirth is merely the rite of passage into being a mother. Just as a wedding is not a marriage, childbirth is not being a mother. Motherhood is a continual commitment. It's about the love and connection we develop with our children. It is the support and unwavering devotion we make to our babies throughout their lives. It's the relationship we cultivate, day-by-day, year-by-year to be meaningful, positive, caring and life-giving forces in their lives. "Getting it right" is to have a trust- and heart-centered relationship with our children. And that is all.

Okay, rant over. I should also add that if you are one of the women out there who managed to go through childbirth without pain relief or a cesarean, that is simply lovely. I do not mean to belittle your ability to withstand the pain and discomfort of childbirth. I admire your strength. Our experiences were not the same, and both were right.

Did you (or do you intend to) have a birth plan?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Have a fabulous weekend.

This weekend is a long weekend and I'm looking forward to doing a bit of organizing, clearing out and relaxing. We are also finally having Coco's birthday party on Sunday. More about that later...I'm also very excited to attend this event for my talented brother-in-law, Tod. It should be fun to get out for an evening, listen to some poetry, and a enjoy a libation or two afterward. Yes! 

I hope your weekend is fabulous! And here are a few links for you:

Coco's favorite song. She loves belting this one out in the car, or in the playroom, or the living room. Basically anywhere! I can't even tell you how cute it is. :)

My childhood classmate is going to space. No joke. 

Some (very welcome) toilet training wisdom

This French album never gets old.

The difference between wanting and being.

My new all-time favorite lipstick. (I got the raspberry:)

An inspired Helsinki home.

I was incandescent with envy.

Make that decision!

Spokane is making it onto some fancy lists...!

I hope your weekend is 100%! And I'll see you back here Monday. Thanks for reading, and please, please, please tell your friends about Swiss Lark if you like what you've been finding here. It would absolutely make my day! So much love to you, my dears. xoxoxo

(Photo via tentree/Instagram)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Garderobe wherever you go.

Last week I took Theo for a check-up at the pediatrician. We got through the front door and got all checked in with insurance and I signed a bunch of forms and then we made our way to the waiting room. I took off my coat and hat and scarf and then Theo's coat and hat and looked around for somewhere to hang them up, but I didn't see anything to hang our coats. So I walked back toward the front desk and peeked around the corner into an adjoining room, and still nothing. No coat rack, no hooks, no hangers.

In Switzerland, everywhere you go there is always a Garderobe, or cloakroom, as pictured above so you don't have to schlep your coat and deal with the bulk of it during your visit. Restaurants, doctor's offices, anywhere you're going to stay for a while and need to be unencumbered, there will be a Garderobe. It's such a nice touch and so practical and makes everything more comfortable. The practice is so common that when I called to set up our insurance, the woman gave the example of having your coat (!!!) taken from a Garderobe as the example for itemizing something. ;) And it was actually really hard to find a photo of a Garderobe to use for this post because it's a given, not a special feature.

So at the pediatrician last week, I was sure I was just missing it and I asked the receptionist where we should hang our coats. She looked at me like I was from Mars and then laughed and shook her head and said there was no coat check. So I just ended up piling everything onto a chair next to me. Once we were in the exam room, I thought surely there would be hooks on the back of the door, but still nothing! So, in the end, our huge puffy coats just got shuffled from chair to chair and kept falling on the ground until it was time to go. How ridiculous!

Spokane has long, cold, snowy winters every year without fail, so I'm surprised this hasn't caught on yet! Do you have (or need) cloakrooms where you live? Would you use one?

(Photo via Zahnarztpraxis Dr. Freichel. Psst...Garderobe are also very much a thing in Germany;)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thinking Back on The Cranberries

As I mentioned last week, I was really upset to hear the news of Dolores O'Riordan's passing. I hope that her family and loved ones were able to properly say goodbye during her services and that they will find slices of peace somehow amid this tragedy. Because what a tragedy. She was so young. 

I found myself, among many others I would imagine, listening to The Cranberries a lot after hearing the news last week. I found it amazing that I remembered and could sing along with almost all of the lyrics. What was also amazing was that, despite knowing them, I had never had fully paid attention to the lyrics. Not properly anyway. Many of The Cranberries' lyrics are so sad. So complicated. So grievous. Dolores O'Riordan clearly had a great capacity for vulnerability and experienced life's highs and lows with a great intensity. 

I didn't appreciate it at the time, but Dolores' lyrics and The Cranberries' music really buoyed me through my teenage angst years. I owe them so much gratitude. 

For example: 

Something has left my life, 
And I don't know where it went to
Somebody caused me strife, 
And it's not what I was seeking. 

Didn't you see me, didn't you hear me? 
Didn't you see me standing there? 
Why did you turn out the lights, 
Did you know that I was sleeping? 

Say a prayer for me, 
Help me to feel the strength, I did. 
My identity, has it been taken? 
Is my heart breaking? 

On me, all my plans fell through my hands, 
They fell through my hands.
On me, all my dreams,
It suddenly seems, it suddenly seems, 

I had never noticed that she was singing the word EMPTY in that song, which is of course the title of the track. That is at once embarrassing and somehow sweet and innocent. And it's also understandable because as a teenager, I listened to this album on a CD, so I didn't see the track title on the screen in my car or on the screen of my phone. It just said "05" on my Sony boombox. But as an adult, I'm surprised that Dolores O'Riordan could write those lyrics in her early 20s. I find myself in awe and appreciative of their poignancy. 

And then there's the Ireland factor. When we moved to Dublin when I was 7 years old, it was the first time I'd ever been on a plane. It was a year and a half after my dad died when my mom decided to move the family to Ireland! And as it turned out, all it took to be completely whole again was getting on a plane, flying up into the air and landing somewhere else. In Ireland, I was invincible. No one knew my dad had died of cancer a few years before. No one thought of me as that poor child who lost her father. There was no pity anywhere. And on top of it, I was the American girl. I had an accent (for a while anyway) and I was novel and exciting. It was heaven for a bereaved child. 

So when we left Ireland, following my First Holy Communion with my classmates from the Dominican Convent School in Dún Laoghaire; and riding the Dublin City bus home from school each day; and my best friend Sinead from school; and my First Holy Confession; and Christmas the Irish way (lots of nuts and mandarins); and pneumonia and house calls from the doctor; and watching I Dream of Jeannie after school; and going to the chipper; and hanging the laundry to dry on the radiators; and sleeping by the fire in the living room when the boiler was out; and watching my mom desperately try to light a coal fire with rings of newspaper like the neighbors; and playdates with Karen and Emma, neighbors down the street who were Catholics from The North and had moved to Dublin after their grandfather was shot point blank upon opening his front door one evening when the bell rang; and standing on an old coffee tin to watch the tinkers beyond the back garden wall; and sneaking past the bus driver to save my 25p to spend instead on candies at the little shop across the road from our house; and the brilliant, dazzling rays of sunlight streaming through the clouds when they parted long enough for the sun to break through; and the wonderfully heady smell of peat smoke; and the wet, grey almost-rain-drizzle that hung low over everything and made it all so green. When we left all of that and that life we had established, I was devastated. 

I remember sitting in the upstairs hallway of our house waiting for the taxi to come take us to the ferry and feeling a pain that could only be described as "a tiger inside my stomach." I remember so clearly saying "It feels like a tiger is in my stomach." If that pain could have made a noise, it would have been a primal, screeching, destructive roar. And it was inside me. I was 8 years old.

Less than a decade later, as a high schooler in Oregon listening to The Cranberries, Ireland seemed so far away as to not even be real. Ireland had been this huge, significant, shaping force in my childhood and yet it didn't feel like something I could claim as my own. Once I had regained my American accent and way of life, Ireland receded into the realm of distant memories and dreams and seemed as if it didn't exist at all. I clung to those dreamlike memories and I longed for that time and in some small way, Ireland always felt alive through The Cranberries' music and Dolores O'Riordan's lilting Celtic vocals. It was a quiet savoring. Like a link to something I had lost. All of this came rushing back to me while I was listening and singing along to The Cranberries last week. Music is mystical like that.

So I wish Dolores O'Riordan's children and family and mother great courage and strength as they navigate their grief. And I send so much love to them and to all of Ireland as they mourn the loss of a great.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Photos of Cats and Dogs Dressed Like People

Boom! File this under Bizarre treasure only the internet could give us. Today, in lieu of our regularly scheduled programming, I present you with these century old photos of cats and dogs dressed up as people.

I sat down multiple times yesterday and today to write a Montessori post I had come up with about nudging the child at times when following actually doesn't work, and might even do more harm than good. (What message do we send when we follow a child's reticence? "You can't," or "You're not capable?" Problematic!) But I couldn't make that post come together because for the first time in my blogging career, I felt very strongly that as a mother I was wading into not-my-story-to-tell territory. So after trying two days in a row, I decided to scrap it.

But back to the cat and dog photos. Are they weird or completely fabulous? I'm kind of in love with them and yet find them entirely deranged. You decide. I just can’t.

Regularly scheduled programming shall resume tomorrow! The rest of the bizarre treasure only the internet could give us pics can be seen right here. You're in for a treat because there are fifteen of them. I find "Weighing the Baby" is particularly good. 

(Photos via The Atlantic)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Have an amazing weekend.

Do you have anything exciting (not boring;) going on this weekend? I'm afraid that I don't, but this David Bowie quote still made me smile a little smile. I frequently worry that posts I write will be too whiney, or negative, or depressing. But then I get all of your incredible comments and I am so happy to have pushed through the fear and hit the "publish" button anyway. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for being part of this little corner of the internet with me. Whether you comment or not, it is such an honor to write words you take the time to read.

And here are some links for your weekend:

A new way to prepare the boring vegetable I never tire of.

If money is no object, this is the face spray you want.

How gorgeous is this Berlin apartment? (Oh, those floors!)

Must make this warming winter soup ASAP!

Small space design lessons from an unlikely source.

OMG. The best sticky notes!

In Praise of an Aggressively Unfashionable Shoe. (And the cuter updated model I'm currently wearing;)

A countertop dishwasher! Incredible.

The easy way to keep those resolutions.

Gigantic waves on the Oregon coast.

The Butter Chicken lady. (Do you have one?)

Europe's next destination hot spot.

Finally, I cannot fathom the sad news about Dolores O'Riordan. Full post coming next week. It's just too big. I'm starting to cry listening to this song.

From the archives:
Dublin summer.
Davos winter.
Spokane summer.

I hope your weekend is amazing! See you back here Monday. xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where are you from?

I have realized over the past few years that I am "fromless." There is actually no place that I feel like I am from. On my Facebook profile it says Portland. I think that's partly because I lived in Portland when I joined Facebook and partly because where else? I had gone to high school in Portland, learned to drive in Portland and come of age in Portland. It's where J and I moved and had our first apartment together after we were married. It made sense. On my birth certificate, it says Spokane. Living in Spokane again for the first time since I was 13 years old, I can definitely say I am not from here. Yes, I was born here, but I had lived in three countries by the time I was ten-years-old and then the summer after 7th grade, we moved to Portland. I stayed in Oregon for the next 11 years with the exception of studying abroad. But once my brother had graduated from high school, my mom sold our house in Portland and moved away. In fact, when I returned from my adventures studying abroad, mere weeks before I met J, I had just a padlock key and the address of a random storage unit to go home to. My brother was at college, my mom was already gone and the house had new occupants. I got all of my things out of storage and went back to Eugene to finish college. I never even bothered to drive by the house. 

So it's ironic that for the longest time, I wanted one of these family origin map art pieces. Then today, I took Theo to the pediatrician for a check-up and when they asked what hospital he was born in and I had to say he was born in Minnesota, it kind of changed my mind. Sigh. Would I really want a family map depicting Spokane, Illinois, Minnesota and Zurich? 

Well, maybe the Zurich part. Actually, I guess it's not ironic at all that I would want one of those family origin maps. All of my adult life, I have been longing and searching for a place to call home. Do you suppose the woman in this photo realizes that she's wearing a Zurich manicure? Probably not. But that's all I see when I look at it. I suppose in the absence of fromness, not being homeless is the next best thing. But it's strange and unfair and too bad that it took leaving for me to realize that out of everywhere I've lived in my adult life, I have never felt more at home than I did in Zurich. Somehow that city got under my skin and stole a piece of my heart and I don't know what to make of it. It's very possible that I'll never be able to return there to live. And yet, while I am fromless, at least I know that I am not entirely homeless.

Tell me where you're from in the comments below. I would love to hear.

(Family Origin Map photo via Terror Dome/Etsy. Manicure photo via Pinterest)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Best Netflix Show

J and I just finished watching the most exceptional series on Netflix. It's a French show called La Mante. The basic premise is murders by a serial killer - happening for a second time, 25 years later.

I'll admit that initially I was in it for a few very silly reasons. Number one: Le Français. La Mante is a French production, so you'll need to turn on your subtitles. It was so nice to listen to French again! It is absolute music to my ears. Never mind if I still need the subtitles. Reason two: The clothes. I'm sorry, but those Frenchies really know how to dress men. French men's style is much different from American men's fashion. It's so chic and form fitting and way sexier! Finally: The sights and sounds of Europe. I'm completely obsessed with the sound of European police and ambulance sirens. Hearing one always takes me back to that very first jet-lagged day in Paris when I studied abroad in Angers in 2002. Oh, to think of it now. That time. That place. The decision to go to France and study abroad was such a good move. It hugely informed who I am today. But I digress.

Suffice it to say that I found La Mante a bit slow, if not très prévisible at first. However, I was soon completely sucked in and hooked on the compelling narrative. Sure, there is plenty of blood and gore in La Mante, but it is made tolerable by the tension and intrigue from the interpersonal relationships. La Mante goes in-depth examining the emotional forces that lie behind all of our desires and motivation. By the end, I was absolutely floored, as I'm sure you will be.

Have you seen La Mante? (No spoilers, please! Email me if you must.) And any shows you recommend? Also, are you counting down to the Homeland premiere, too?! I actually cannot wait.

(Photo via Le Journal Des Sorties)
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