Monday, December 31, 2012

Ringing in 2013!

What are your plans for New Year's Eve? We are popping open some bubbly for an early toast, doing a few sparklers to see Coco's dazzled reaction - and going to bed early! 

Tomorrow morning we leave first thing for our little New Year's vacation in Davos. I have been freaking out because I don't know what to pack for Coco and I'm nervous about the cable cars and hotel stay and travel cot and snowsuit and boots and hats and mittens and whether or not she will sleep and if it will be any fun for me at all while J is skiing most of the day and if Coco will nap and if it will just be a big waste of money like our epic Corsica vacation fail. So I got all bent out of shape last night, tried to blame everything on J, quarreled with him and then felt really sheepish afterward. This morning, he got up early with Coco, let me sleep in until 10 and made me breakfast. What a sweetheart! It helped immensely and I don't feel so nervous or crabby anymore. 

Even still, I'm heading into the New Year feeling apprehensive and unsure about things. 

I told myself I would stop worrying about it, but I continue to wonder when I'll go back to work and in what capacity? Boo. I should really just enjoy this incredible time of being a stay-at-home-mom, so why do I do this to myself? 

I have been a rotten blogger as of late because I lost the cable to transfer photos from the camera to the computer and I feel like I can't post anything beautiful. It's silly, but resolution number one is to figure out the cable situation! 

It doesn't help that I feel really homesick following our amazing holidays with my brother - more on that this week as I cover our entire, spontaneous, unexpected holiday together. It was so incredible!

And then there's our apartment - we have been living here long enough that it's time for a Feng Shui attack on the place. J got me a Feng Shui book and the Apartment Therapy Cure book for Christmas and I cannot wait to clear out and infuse some new energy into our lives. 

At the same time, I just want to book a winter trip to my mom's and hide from it all. Isn't that how we always feel in the deep depths of winter? Isn't this period right after the fun and festivities of the solstice just the worst?! It's dark and cold and stagnant. And every year, as soon as Christmas is over (and winter is really just beginning! :( Oh my...) I always crave spring and summer and they feel so impossibly far away! That just makes the darkness and cold all the more formidable. Sigh. 

So let's do this, 2013. The sooner you're here, the sooner the light comes back. And the happier I'll be.  Happy New Year, everyone! xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Analyzed Movements

In a Montessori classroom, we don't teach children to do concentration-building activities like Washing a Table or Polishing a Cup, we show them. And the way we show them is very deliberate. First, there is very little or no talking. That is because children can listen and children can watch, but not at the same time. Second, we use analyzed movements. What we are teaching a three-year-old when we show him how to wash a table, is how to follow an intricate set of steps that are sequence dependent. By slowing it down, and using movements that are clear, easy to follow and demonstrative, those little tiny children are able to take it all in and replicate a complex activity through imitation. It's simply brilliant. 

And that is where analyzed movements come in at home. Naturally, after many years of spending my days using analyzed movements to demonstrate lessons, open and close doors, push in chairs, carry trays, wash hands, sharpen pencils, trace shapes, wipe up spills, pour water and sew buttons, it spilled over into my everyday life. I am not claiming to be a ballerina, but I do tend to make an effort to be gentle and careful in my movements. I tread lightly, I put things down softly so that they don't make a big noise, I close doors quietly by turning the handle. And most of the time, I do this without thinking about it because it has become a habit for me. 

The real beauty of this is that Coco is imitating my every move! 

Oh my gosh, she is as delicate, careful and graceful as a 14-month-old could possibly be. It truly blows my mind. Part of it is just the way she is, of course. Within hours of her birth, the midwives and nurses all made remarks about how feminine and refined her movements are. And newborns barely move! But a lot of Coco's movement comes from modeling. Today I watched her take the lid off of a little toy metal stock pot and replace it again and again and again. She did it so carefully, with such concerted effort and inquisitive curiosity. She bent down to look closely at the lip of the lid and how it fit into the pot and she did it without making a lot of noise. (A few minutes later she was banging on the pot with a spoon! ;) But the point is, she wanted both experiences. She wanted the typical (and wonderful and exhilarating) toddler experience of banging on a pot with a spoon. And then, on the other hand, she wanted the refined, fine-motor experience of taking and replacing the lid with finesse. It really took me by surprise and made me thankful once again for my Montessori experience before becoming a parent. 

Have you ever considered how your everyday movements translate to your child's movements? What do you think of the idea? 

(Photos of Coco at 9 months carefully turning the pages of a book)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Traditions: Our Favorite Christmas Movies

To me, spending time with family is the most important part of Christmas. This year will be our first year on our own as a little family, so we are focusing on creating lasting family traditions that we will continue on through the years. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching holiday movies together. When Coco is a little bit older, we will bake some cookies and make hot chocolate together before we snuggle up on the couch with a fire going and watch our favorite movies.
The best holiday movie of all time is probably Elf. How is it that it never gets old and never loses it knee-slapping hilarious qualities? I love this movie and it will be so fun when Coco is old enough to understand it, too.
My other favorite holiday film is Meet Me in St. Louis. It is a classic! Did you know that the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written for this movie? Hearing Judy Garland sing it never gets old. What a movie!

What movies do you watch at Christmastime? Or do you prefer to keep the TV off, even at the holidays?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preparing for a Trip with a Baby

This weekend Coco and I are off to Dublin to visit some friends for the weekend. J has opted to stay in Switzerland and ski, so I will be traveling solo with my little lady again. It's surprising how it gets easier and less intimidating as you go. Here are my five trips for an easy trip with a baby - or should I say toddler?!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Sippy Cups vs Real Cups

Sippy cups are great when babies are first learning to drink, but then they can become a crutch. And let's face it, most of those things are seriously ugly. So, instead of getting Coco completely hooked on sippy cups, we introduced real cups very early. We got her these sweet glasses at IKEA. They satisfy two Montessori prerequisites - 1). they're breakable and 2). they are a smaller version of what adults use. They also satisfy my own prerequisite of being very inexpensive. (See Montessori prerequisite #1 ;) So when we are at home, these are the glasses Coco uses at mealtimes. When we are out and about, we take a sippy cup because they don't leak or break and that's important when we're riding the tram and she decided to toss it over the side of her stroller. Around the house, she also uses a sippy cup because it doesn't spill and because she could get hurt if a glass broke and I was in the other room. Soon we will switch to the Sigg bottle Klinik Im Park sent her for her first birthday, but it's a little big at the moment. 

Perhaps you're wondering why Montessori philosophy would suggest giving a baby something breakable. Excellent question! It is because we want to give children a realistic impression of the world  we live in and the everyday objects in it. The things adults eat and drink out of are breakable. Yet, when we give children things to eat and drink out of, they typically are not breakable. This gives the incorrect impression that you can drop, throw or otherwise be careless with cups, bowls and glasses because they will not break. On the other hand, during dinner a few weeks ago, Coco knocked her bowl off of the table and it broke. It made a really strong impression on her. J and I stayed quiet and watched her react and take it all in. She stared for a long, long time at the broken bowl and spilled food without saying anything. Finally, it registered and she looked at us seriously and said, "uh-oh." Then we knew she understood what had happened. I explained that her dishes will break if they fall to the floor and cleaned it up with little fanfare. 

We use glass and real dishes at most of her meals at home and it's the only break we've had so far! Of course we expect more, so we use inexpensive glassware and dishes, but she does seem deliberately careful within her capabilities and it is amazing to watch. I feel that it respects her intelligence and gives her an appropriate challenge in fine tuning her motor skills. 
She also thinks that eating off of regular dishes and drinking from a normal glass like we do is pretty cool. :) Do you give your child real, breakable dishes and glasses? Or do you think plastic is the way to go?

Friday, November 30, 2012

lamercs* Baby Bandanas

Have you seen the adorable baby bandanas from lamercs* on Etsy? They keep babies warm with their soft flannel backing, and during teething, they're the perfect accessory to catch all of that baby drool! My grandma Jule, whom Coco is named after (and who lived to be 97 years old!) believed that you should always keep your neck warm in winter to avoid catching cold. To that end, Coco will be wearing a toasty lamercs* bandana everyday this winter! I just love how they complete Coco's look. Aren't they gorgeous?

If you're in Zurich, lamercs* will be at the American Women's Club Christmas Market this Sunday, December 2nd from 11 to 4. Stop by and see the lamercs* holiday line as well as the beautiful range of feeding bibs, bandanas, and new change pouches.

For readers outside of Switzerland, lamercs* ships worldwide! Read the sweet story of how lamercs* got started and go to the lamercs* Etsy shop to get one-of-a-kind, affordable handmade gifts for the babies on your list this holiday season. 

Do you accessorize your baby? Would you?

(lamercs* is a Swiss Lark sponsor and this is a sponsored post. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Buy or Not to Buy...

Did you go crazy shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I was so amazed (and affronted!) by the emails I received from just about every single retailer I've ever visited in my life last week telling me about their sales and promotions and free shipping offers. Oh my goodness. What a racket.

J and I feel really compelled to be thoughtful with our consumer habits in 2013. I think that sometimes in our modern life, we shop and buy things for absolutely no reason at all. Do you agree? We've been thinking a lot about what we need, versus what we're being told we need by advertisements. This year we're trying hard to come up with a really thoughtful, balanced approach to our holiday spending.

My sister Juliet recommended the idea "just enough to live well" and we are taking it to heart. Here are a few ways we've decided to spend money this season for the joy it gives us and the need it fills.
J is crazy for skiing, so he bought a pass to Laax for the season this year. After Christmas, we are going as a family to Davos for a week. I am looking forward to playing in the snow on the sun terraces with Coco, drinking hot chocolate, and napping while J skis. In the evenings, I can't wait for fondue, wine and watching movies. 
As a gift we can all enjoy, we are getting the Muuto teapot and pepper grinder. The teapot has been on my wish list for ages. And the pepper mill is something we truly need and will use everyday. I love little luxuries like that! Nothing beats a hot pot of tea in the winter. 
Quite by mistake, it has become our tradition to go to the Conelli Circus every year here in Zurich. It is a darling little circus set up over the water on the Limmat River, with a live mini-orchestra, lots of acrobats, and tricks and dancing. It is an animal-free circus and beforehand there is a champagne bar with a piano player on the ceiling. It's an amazing experience. We love it!  

What ways will you be spending money this holiday season? Is being mindful of how you spend money and consume a priority for you? 



Monday, November 26, 2012

Coco's Transition from Co-Sleeping to her Crib

Last week, we hit our limit with our sleeping situation. I was sitting across from J on the couch after finally getting Coco to sleep (it was sometimes a nearly two hour process!) and feeling completely drained. I explained to him that I was on a tired marathon. I had hit the proverbial "wall" months before and it felt like there was no finish line. I just had to keep going, bleary-eyed and irritable and exhausted. I really had nothing left. As a marathoner, he understood. And he was appropriately horrified! If that wasn't bad enough, J had taken to sleeping in the guest room in order to be rested for work. It was time for a change. And after months of hemming and hawing, we were finally ready. 

Let's start from the very beginning and I'll tell you all about how we went from two hours of struggling, crying and stress at bedtime to a peaceful routine, a quick snuggle and a sleeping, happy baby with no crying or fussing in only 20 minutes. It's been positively magical!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Night Movie Night (As in, the sleep training worked!)

Coco's sleep training has gone so incredibly well that J and I were able to have a lovely evening together not once, but twice this week! :) Tonight we had our favorite meal from this cookbook and then we watched The Artist. It's such a cute love story and we adored the sweet dog. Our first impressions of the movie. J: "He's flying an open plane with a top hat on?! This is great." Me: "Is the whole thing going to be silent?" But I loved it in the end. 

Would you believe that Coco didn't wake up once and she didn't make a peep when she went to sleep tonight?! Tomorrow I'll write a full post detailing our entire experience with sleep training this week. It's been like magic! Until then, sleep tight and sweet dreams. xo


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How do you take your champagne?

When J and I got married, I wanted to have champagne coupes rather than flutes. I find the coupe so  much nicer in every way. It is feminine and delicate and I love the sweet, humble silhouette. They're much more sophisticated than flutes, don't you agree? ;) But, much to my surprise, I had the hardest time finding a rental company that had them! One company actually told me they could give me mismatched coupes, as in some with gold rims, some plain, some with beveled stems, some not. And she actually pressured me to go for it because I'd never find "those old-fashioned things" anywhere. It seemed that everyone preferred flutes, but I persevered. In the end, I found an abundant supply of coupes at AtoZ Rental, which carries mostly giant lawnmowers and machinery, but I guess in their case AtoZ is an accurate name. Wow, did my search pay off.
We had a champagne pyramid for our guests. It was so fun to fill and watch bubble over. Did you know that a pyramid really only wastes about half a bottle of champagne? 
J and I toasted with the same "Bride and Groom" coupes that my parents used at their wedding. 
Our approach to our wedding was "simple yet elegant" and the champagne pyramid was built in bubbly, sparkling decoration. It was absolutely fabulous! So, which do you prefer, coupe or flute? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Baby Jet Lag

This picture is little Coco fast asleep somewhere over the North Pole. We were on our way to the States back in February and it was a very peaceful and easy flight. In fact, flying east to west is always easy. It's coming back to Europe from the west coast of the US and dealing with the 9 hour time difference and life-shattering jet lag that is so impossibly awful! 

To that end, I've been researching a lot about jet lag and babies and there is just not much out there. Most articles are just a very obviously plagiarized version of the Baby Center's! At this point, we seem to have found a schedule of waking at 9 am, napping from 11-1 and again from 5-6 and going to sleep between 10 and 12. I'm so exhausted I can barely think. She's waking every hour or two screaming for milk. And I just don't have that much milk anymore. She's almost 14 months old. Production has slowed. :( I'm more tempted than ever to get started with sleep training, but all of the books specifically say not to start during a developmental milestone or when a tooth is cutting. She took a few independent steps last night and she has three teeth swelling her gums into little white mounds of flesh. Poor Coco! And poor mama. ;) Have you dealt with extreme baby jet lag? What worked for you? Once your baby found a rhythm, how did you dial it back to normal times? 

Montessori Mondays: Toy Rotation

Having too many choices overwhelms children, just as it does adults. (Right? ;) So it's so important to make your child's toy storage respond to that need so that you can have a happy, independent player on your hands. I advocate for making your child's toy selection appealing in its simplicity, accessible in its organization and manageable in its size. That said, it's much harder to do than it sounds. 
Last week, I set out to organize Coco's toys and ended up taking three full bags of toys down to our cellar space! Now she has one small box of plush toys, one small box of hard-sided toys, one pushcart and five other toys out at a time. It's still a lot of toys. Then, every ten days, I'll go down to the cellar and rotate out new ones. 
It was surprisingly very difficult to pare down her toy selection. I felt like I was getting rid of her toys and then I found myself almost sorting them unintentionally. That was when I realized I had to take a different approach. So instead of demoting lesser toys to the cellar, I decided to put many of the favorite toys in the cellar to start out instead. It was actually a really good approach. 
Surprisingly, the toys that remain are getting so much more use. I shouldn't be surprised, because it follows exactly the idea that too much choice is actually overwhelming, but it surprised me anyway. And knowing all those lovely favorites are down in the cellar is my motivation to rotate after ten days and not just forget about them. That will keep things novel and interesting for Coco all the time.
Best of all, I love that our living room is no longer being taken over by toys. (Now I just need to install the wall shelves in the kitchen so that everything that was in the sideboard before the left side was given up for toys isn't left just sitting on top. ;) Can you believe how quickly a small child accumulates toys? Do you rotate your child's toys? If not, would you?

Friday, November 16, 2012

A little secret concerning sick babies.

Lately I've been noticing a trend on Facebook, Twitter, and even in a parenting magazine I was reading in the doctor's waiting room. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Klinik Im Park's New Birthing Wing

On Saturday, Coco and I went to see the newly remodeled birthing wing at Klinik Im Park, where she was born. It was absolutely gorgeous and so incredibly chic! It actually made me really excited to have our next baby. Seriously. I'll be so excited to give birth again!
Klinik Im Park is part of Hirslanden, a group of private hospitals around Switzerland. I have a supplementary insurance plan (on top of my basic health insurance required by Swiss law) that covers private hospitals. The plan I have was raised to about $100 per month in 2013, but in 11-12, I paid around $85 per month. It's a Semi-Private plan. That means I can go to a private hospital, but I don't get my own room; I share with one other person as opposed to four as is standard in the general wards of regular hospitals. Going to a private hospital has pros and cons. When I wanted an epidural, I didn't have to wait - which they guarantee at Klinik Im Park. On the other hand, I have friends who waited two hours or more in the regular hospitals! But, they got through it. :) Hirslanden had absolutely amazing food, high thread-count sheets and a complimentary champagne dinner for J and I on our last night. It is luxurious and more like a five-star hotel than a hospital. But that has its drawbacks. It doesn't feel like a normal hospital because it's not a normal hospital. If something goes wrong, chances are they will have to transfer you (or your baby) to another hospital. That said, my experience giving birth was amazing at Klinik Im Park and I'll definitely go back. But not for a while. Don't get any ideas! ;)
Each of the birth rooms has an LED light installation on the wall. It's not so much for the mother, who couldn't care less about twinkling lights during labor, but for the father. It's relaxing and soothing and meant to bring calm to the nervous daddy. 
I loved the combination of pure white light and soft wood. It is serene and minimalist and perfect for setting the mood of peace in order to cope with the intensity of labor.
Each of the rooms has its own birthing tub, as well as various birthing stools and instruments for support. The midwives at Klinik Im Park are amazing and so knowledgable to help you through labor. They also offer aromatherapy, acupuncture and massage to help women through labor. I know to some people it must seem crazy to look forward to giving birth again, but I honestly look forward to having that incredible experience again. What a beautiful job they've done on the maternity center. It is gorgeous!  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nesting for a New Baby

When Coco was on the way, I had no shortage of projects to direct my massive amounts of nesting energy into. We had just moved into this apartment and all of our time and energy was going into building IKEA furniture. At least 20 pieces, including our PAX wardrobe system. Not for the faint of heart, people! ;) But for the mama in an already settled situation, this e-course from Red Velvet would be perfect. And for a mama who has everything ready and an overdue baby, it would be even better. I can't think of a sweeter way to spend those final days waiting to see that little face, kiss that tiny head and marvel at those tiny ears, than making sweet baby bibs and burp cloths by hand. 

My nesting was less about cutesy baby stuff and more about the power drill.
Here I am 8 months pregnant building some IKEA furniture. It's kind of nuts looking back, but also seems serene and easy compared to how it would be to do all that now with a toddler! 
Our whole apartment was filled with these familiar IKEA boxes. Nesting energy is no joke. None of it phased me in the least. I was so happy to be creating a home for our little family. 
Just look at those puffy, water-filled pregnant feet! I had just finished wrangling the slipcover onto that couch. It may have been more difficult than building the couch itself. Time to put those feet up! ;)
Once I had finished the apartment, I didn't stop there. I moved on to the cellar and built all of those storage shelves and meticulously organized our belongings on them. A word to the wise: Harness the nesting energy, pregnant ladies! Once the baby arrives, you're in a completely different mode all together. All naps and no storage shelf building. Really. 
Then there was the recycling. In Zurich, recycling has to be tied in bundles. That's most of our IKEA recycling right there, all neatly tied in descending sized bundles. I still can't believe how insanely I nested. I was truly a busy bee. With a power drill.
Finally, here I am on my due date, relaxing on the couch and watching a movie with J, ready and waiting for the baby to arrive. Luckily I got a little rest because Coco didn't come for another 5 days. I didn't mind  that she was late, because at that point, I needed a little rest! Did you go crazy nesting for your baby? Will you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IKEA's Chalet Collection

I instantly fell in love when I saw IKEA's Chalet Collection for this winter. I'm well aware that the last thing I need is more stuff from IKEA given our already overflowing cellar space and apartment. But, I don't know if I'll be able to resist having those stag's head pillows for our couch. My rationalization is that we'll now have separate fall/winter and spring/summer pillows and throws. That's sensible, right? ;) Do you like the chalet aesthetic, or have we just been in Switzerland too long? 

(photos from IKEA)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blogging Advice from an Expert

While I was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to meet briefly with Liz Stanley of Say Yes to Hoboken. Liz is a really successful blogger who teaches classes for Function and she will be a speaker this year at Alt Summit. Needless to say, she knows her stuff! So, it was invaluable to put some of the questions I've been asking myself to her, and hear her expert opinion. 

Question #1: Should I change the name of my blog? Folio Rose was named for Portland, Oregon, The City of Roses, with the idea that it would be my little folder of life in Portland. But then we moved to Switzerland, and suddenly the name meant even less than it had before. (Let's be real here, Folio Rose is a rather obscure name in any case! ;) 

Liz said to change it now! She had the same problem with her blog, which is very clearly connected to Hoboken, New Jersey, when they moved to San Francisco. At that point, her blog was already big enough that she couldn't really change the name. But Folio Rose isn't that big so I hope you'll all bear with me and be excited to have a new name coming soon. It will reflect life in Switzerland for an American couple with a baby and how much fun and how lovely that is. Much better, don't you think?! ;)

Question #2: Do I have to post everyday Monday through Friday in order to be successful at blogging? I've been trying to make the blog a Monday through Friday thing for months now, but I just don't think it's realistic. :(

Liz said no! "You don't have to post everyday." she said, shaking her head and smiling. "You don't." Phew!! She went on to say that two or three posts a week, that follow a predictable schedule, are enough to build a following and grow traffic. The most important thing, according to Liz, is high quality content. 

From now on I will post three times per week. I'll continue with Montessori Mondays because that is fun to write about and share with you and I love the comments and conversation it generates. Then I'll post on Wednesdays and Fridays. Liz said that once the blog can pay for childcare, then it's okay and good to post 5 days per week, but not to stress over it until then.  ;) Seriously! Isn't it so awesome I had the chance to pick her brain for a few minutes? 

Question #3: Is it a good idea to partner with friend's who have Etsy shops as beginning sponsorships?  I have a couple of friends who make awesome stuff that I'd love not only to have, but I'd love to share with all of you. Through trades, I'd get their awesome products and they would get exposure to you, my audience. This aspect of blogging is central if you want to turn your blog into your job, but it's also the part about blogging that makes me the most uncomfortable. I would never recommend or promote something I didn't truly love myself, but I would also never want my blog to read like an advertisement or make people feel pressured into buying more things, or inadequate or lacking. Flipping through a fashion magazine tends to make me feel all of those things at once! :(

Liz said definitely to pursue those relationships! She said it's good for me in that it's something original and tested and true that I can tell my readers about that they won't have heard of before (original content!) and, of course, it's good for my friends because I'm giving my honest endorsement of their handmade product to a group of people with interests and values similar to my own. When phrased in that way, it didn't make me uncomfortable at all. Just like I loved our experience with Jana Manja Photography here in Zurich, I'd love to share my friends gorgeous Etsy shops with you. So be looking out for that soon, and hopefully the blog may have a couple more sponsors very soon. :)

Question #4: How long did it take you to build your blog into a job with a full salary? I've been blogging as hobby for more than 6 years now, so obviously making money isn't why I do it. But if I could, I'd love to turn it into my job. Of course, I want to be realistic in the goals I set for myself.

Liz has been blogging for seven years now! And only in the past two or three years has her blog really  begun to generate a full salary. She said that it would go faster if she were to do it over again because she knows more looking back and that with all of the online resources and tools, it's bound to be faster for today's bloggers. It also requires a certain amount of luck! Nothing is guaranteed. But, if you love it, and you'd be doing it anyway, just keep at it was her advice. Sounds good to me!

So over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a redesign, brushing up on my bio, tightening the focus of the blog and giving it a new name. I'm really happy to have a clearer direction of where I'm going with blogging and what I want to accomplish with it. Thank you for your patience during my trip back to the States (when I was barely writing at all!) and in the upcoming transition to a new look and name. It means the world to me that you enjoy reading about our life here and watching our baby girl grow up with us!

Thank you for being a part of this with me. xoLindsey

(San Francisco neighborhood map from here)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coco meets Target

Last week we took Coco to Target. She loved being in that cart more than you can imagine. And my theory that Target uses some sort of subliminal messages was strongly reinforced. Coco didn't get fussy once while we were in there. Now that is odd. It was lots of fun, we got all sorts of goodies to take home with us and another quintessential American experience is checked off the list! ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coco's First Birthday

Last month, Coco turned one and we had the absolute best first birthday party for her. (I think the adults had more fun than the kids! ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Routines

No sooner do you become a parent, than you're hearing right, left and center the importance of routines. If you are a Montessori teacher becoming a parent, you already know this, and you think to yourself, that's right, nothing is more important to children and babies than a reliable and consistent routine. But setting routines is way more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. Sigh! We did find a really amazing groove when Coco was about 4 weeks old and I read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. I didn't read it until she was already 4 weeks, but I would recommend getting this book while you're still pregnant and reading it during those last weeks when all you want to do is sit with your feet up anyway. :) The baby whisperer covers everything from coming home from the hospital to bathing to feeding and sleeping, and makes it all easy as can be. Honestly. We enjoyed that period so much. But then, at around six months, Coco grew out of the newborn phase and the tips and tricks in the baby whisperer weren't working anymore. 

While daytime has always been fine, things progressively became more complicated in the evening. Coco started eating solid food, needing a dedicated dinner time, which conflicted with our dinner time. Then she started moving around, which meant that putting her to sleep for the night by herself in our bed was suddenly hazardous! The evening period between 5 and 7:30 became my most dreaded time of day and I'm still trying to figure it all out. I've read The No-Cry Sleep Solution, Dr. Sears' The Sleep Book and now I'm reading The Sleepeasy Solution. It's not all that easy. On the one hand, I'm questioning the choice to co-sleep. But then again, it wasn't really a choice as Coco wouldn't sleep at all unless we were touching! I'm sort of shocked and upset with myself that so much time has passed (she is already one year old!) and that we haven't managed to sort out a better nighttime routine. But, that is silly too, I guess, because you can only move forward when you and your baby are both ready. 

As of now, I'm determined to get our ducks in a row and develop a good nighttime routine - before Coco can walk and talk! I know she is old enough and ready. And finally, I am ready. I did a full year of very much baby-lead routines and parenting and now it's time to come up with something more sustainable. We all need good sleep, J needs to be rested for work, I need to wake up without a kink in my neck! And what if I go back to work at some point? And what about when we have the next baby in a couple of years? And what about when Coco starts Montessori pre-school? Having a good nighttime routine is necessary for all of these scenarios to function well. Plus, having a routine is kind of great, don't you think? What is your routine like during that dreaded evening period? How do you fit it all in peacefully and still have time for your spouse and yourself? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Have an amazing fall weekend!

This weekend, I am looking forward to bright blue skies, warm sun-filled afternoons, long shadows from golden evening rays, fiery pink sunsets and extra cold nights that make for extra crisp mornings. Tonight my mom and I are going to have a fire in her chiminea in the backyard and make s'mores. Yum! Saturday, my uncle is taking us to an Apple Smash party. We will enjoy the fall weather and help make fresh-pressed cider out of the gorgeous, world-famous Washington apples. Sunday night, I'm thinking of making a sage-y beef stew. What are you doing this weekend? Is the weather beautiful where you are? 

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week. 


We just received our beautiful free trial


Coco's favorite toy these days.




My weekend reading


I am so inspired by this story!


Darling non-toxic shoes from Germany.


Definitely worth watching if you haven't already.


Swiss Lark has a new Facebook page. Please like us!


Enjoy your weekend and see you back here Monday! xo

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coco's American Identity

Of course Coco is American. That is really important to us because we are American. But I now understand, in a very concrete way, that her American identity is much more than a passport she carries. Yesterday, the lawn guy came to mow the lawn, and Coco was absolutely amazed! 

(She had no idea what was going on! ;) Get the whole story after the jump. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Montessori Monday: Reality vs Fantasy

For her birthday, Coco received this sweet book, by the author of our favorite, Goodnight Moon. My cousin, who is mommy to three little girls, gave it to us and said that they read it so many times and carried around in the diaper bag for so long, that it just fell apart one day! After reading it to Coco, I could see why. Big Red Barn follows a day in the life of a group of barn animals, from sun up to sun down, the things they do, where they go and how the act. At night, it shows how they sleep with the big moon in the sky. The book introduces loads of vocabulary for babies: big, small, animal names, colors. And for older children, there are infinite prompts for curiosity and discussion. For example, the line "...And under the hen was a quiet egg," is just the sort of thing to capture the intellect of a small child. Why is the egg quiet? What is inside the egg? And why is it under the hen? Big Red Barn is perfect because children, even little tiny babies, want and love books that portray the world in a realistic way. 

In my Montessori training course, we learned that the world is wonderfully exciting, interesting and satisfying to children just the way it is. We don't need to make it magical or interesting by adding fairies or wizards because it already is magical and interesting to them. Not only that, but until children gain a firm understanding of the world as it is (around age six), they aren't ready to integrate the dimension of fantasy into the mix. It's impossible for them to separate reality from fantasy and that leaves them confused and dissatisfied. As a Montessori guide, the favorite books in my classroom were always the ones deeply rooted in the reality of everyday life. Books like Little Mommy, A Day at the Seashore and Angus Lost would have the group of 26 children silent, mouths literally hanging open, listening to and adoring every. single. word. By contrast, the very cute and whimsical Olivia series never held their attention for long. Children want pigs to be pigs and children to be children because that is something they can relate back to their own lives and understand.

When reading good books to children, it's not necessary to try to facilitate discussion or learning; it happens naturally when books are written well. Simply read, read often, and the rest shall follow. The most frequently asked question I received as a Montessori teacher from parents was "What should we be doing at home?" My answer: Read together. How often do you read with your children? And what books are the favorites in your house?  

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