Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best baby hat of all time.

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don't ask for. This is certainly true in the case of Coco's adorable Earhart hat from Jojoco Hatmakers in Chicago. It was a baby shower gift from J's best friend from high-school and his wife. And wow. Those two clearly knew what they were doing when it came to buying baby gifts. In the beginning, it was way too big for Coco, but as soon as it fit, it became our go-to hat. I honestly cannot believe how much we've used it. She wears it for walks with daddy in the Baby Bjorn on crisp days, or for playing inside on a chilly day, and it layers really well under a wool hat. I love that hat so much. The way it fits on her downy little head just makes my heart swell with happiness. And now that it's getting too small, it kind of breaks my heart. But I am so overly sentimental as a mom. Every time she hits another milestone or I have to put away a set of too-small clothes, I reflect and marvel on how fast it's all going. And then I remind myself that it's more goodness that lies ahead. With that in mind, we are going to go to Sun People Dry Goods while we're in Spokane next month to get Coco a couple more Jojoco Earhart hats in the next size up. We could never go wrong having the natural color cotton one again, and maybe a second in polar fleece. That will keep her warm and toasty all winter long. Do you (or did you) have a hard time watching your baby grow up so quickly? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Montessori Monday: Natural Materials

One of the things that makes Montessori classrooms so beautiful is the use of natural materials. Plastic or pretend things are generally avoided. Instead, the aim is for everything to be real and purposeful. Montessori felt very strongly that children should not be "given the world in facsimile," but rather that they should be given a manageable piece of the world that they can work and interact with independently. Instead of a play kitchen, children can delve into the mesmerizing activity of washing a table, and they do so with a basin, soap, pitcher and scrub brush, wearing an apron as they make bubbles. (Experiences like this are presented in an orderly and controlled fashion so that children can replicate the task on their own without frustration or a huge mess. ;) Throughout all of the activities offered, the materials that are used are natural and real wherever possible. Metal, glass, fabric, woven grasses and wood are lovely to touch, hold and see.
At home, you can follow this model in your child's toys. Coco has wonderful wooden blocks in a handwoven basket, the most beautiful cloth ball, and an indispensable silver rattle. Not everything is natural material, of course, but the difference in the weight, texture and feel of natural objects versus plastic makes them much more enjoyable and intriguing. What are your child's toys made of? Do you make a point of presenting your child with natural materials?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The sweetest baby clothes: Tea Collection

I'm so behind in making Coco's 1st birthday wish list! But right at the top is a selection of adorable baby clothes from Tea Collection. Coco already has a romper from their spring line and it's luxuriously soft and easy for her to maneuver in. Over the next few months, as she starts to walk, I'd love to dress her in (clockwise from top left) the Nordic Layer Dress - with vermillion leggings! It's cute and girly, but won't get in her way crawling around or climbing stairs. The cute-as-can-be Night Owl Pajamas. Wouldn't they just be the sweetest on her chubby little thighs? The soft and feminine Winter Blooms Romper. It's ideal for cuddles and books by the fire. That is, if she ever takes a break from pulling up on the bookshelf and tossing all the books on the floor! And, last but certainly not least, the Swedish Lark 2-piece Set. Those gypsy pants are kind of amazing. I like to imagine her walking in them, toddling to and fro with her darling diapered baby bum. That makes me smile.

Comfort and mobility and soft, high-quality fabric are the most important things for me in baby clothes. What do you look for in clothes for your baby? Is there anything better than dressing a baby girl?! (I'm thinking the answer to that last one is no. ;) xo

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Reading Glasses

I've been thinking I need reading glasses for a couple of years now. My vision is fine, it's just sometimes when I read or use the computer for a long time, I begin to squint or see double a bit. It turns out to be a completely normal problem. Phew! So earlier this week, I went to have an eye test and see about getting a pair of glasses. My vision is at 120% (whatever that means!) and for reading, I need a very light prescription. Oh. My. It is so awesome! I should have gotten reading glasses long ago. Everything is extra clear and sharp and easy to read. No squinting or straining! I can't wait to try knitting with them on. Really, why didn't I go sooner? :)

As for the frames, I really wanted something a bit classic yet original. I love that they're light enough that they're not burdensome and big enough that they're not always crowding my field of vision. Getting glasses was super easy and my supplementary insurance will cover 200 francs of it. Rad. Do you wear glasses? I'm curious, did you have a hard time settling on frames? To me it seemed like a big decision. ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Montessori Monday: What is Montessori?

Last week, I wrote about housekeeping and Montessori-at-home and had the idea to share with you lovely readers each week on the blog how I'm incorporating Montessori principles into our life with Coco. But it's not just me who is Montessori trained in our family. J is also a Montessori trained teacher, for children ages 6-12! And my mom is trained for both 3-6 and 6-12. I attended Montessori nursery school from 2-6 years, old as did my brother and sisters. We are definitely a Montessori family, and we all think it's pretty rad. 

Naturally, the best place to start in sharing Montessori with you is to lay out what Montessori is. So, without further ado, let's jump in. 

The short answer is that Montessori is a developmentally-based educational system. Meaning that unlike most pedagogical models, the Montessori method was developed based on how children actually are, rather than imposing a model on children based on an ideal of how they should be. That sets Montessori apart from the rest. Montessori is not affiliated with Waldorf, Emilio Reggio or any other form of alternative education. It stands quite alone. Maria Montessori was Italian, born in 1870, and the first woman to become a doctor in Italy. She was extremely intuitive and applied her talent for scientific observation to children when the only job the powers-that-were would give to a woman was working with the children of the adults in the asylums in Rome. The result was a significant and impacting body of work that has lasted until this day. Did you know that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin credit their experience in Montessori nursery school for their success? They do!
Montessori pedagogy is unique in that it places a huge focus on internal motivation. Children in Montessori classrooms work separately or in small groups on what interests them. They can spend as much time as they need on a given task. Within a framework of rules, they have a massive amount of freedom to make their own choices. They learn by doing. 

Each week, on Monday, I plan to share with you a piece of our life at home that is done in a Montessori way. If there is something you are curious about, please send me an email and ask! I would love to hear. 

(Top photo from here)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sick Baby & Montessori Monday

This very sweet little girl has a fever and needs 100% of my love and attention right now. Even though I hate blogger mobile posts, I'm doing one now. :(
Montessori Monday is postponed. But I'll have something great for you tomorrow. Wish me luck that we get some sleep tonight.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a sweet weekend.

This week was a busy and stressful week in our house. Coco has been teething mercilessly and it's made for difficult nights for everyone. Poor baby! She's getting closer to walking every day and her favorite thing lately is climbing the stairs. I still can't believe she is almost one year old. What a precious, sweet time it has been. And (much to my surprise) it just keeps getting better all the time. :) What are you doing this weekend? I'm hoping to do some knitting and we want to take advantage of the perfect fall weather with a few walks. 

A few things that caught my eye this week below. 

Our Friday night dinner (with quinoa instead of white rice!).

Hot pink will keep winter cheerful!

I'm obsessed with this emerald hue right now.

Number 2 describes our house lately.

It's all about the drugstore mascara.

Interesting debate on girls and women.

I have to get Coco this darling playtime bib.

With winter coming up, this is a particularly gorgeous book.

And, just in case you missed it, my guest post on momfilter!

See you all back here Monday! xo

(Photo via Flickr)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bento Boxes for Baby Food

I saw these adorable bento boxes the other day in my favorite neighborhood shop, Einzigart. They are so cute, I could honestly scream! But I left without buying one because I couldn't think of any reason I needed one. Then it occurred to me later that it would be the perfect thing for Coco's food on our flight to the States in three weeks! The top is a little bowl and there are two compartments below. Ideal for baby cereal and finger foods. So today we went back and Coco picked the geisha in purple when given the choice between the two girl designs. I also got a little drawstring carry bag for it that will also fit a few spoons, bib, a jar or two of baby food and some face wipes. Isn't that just perfect? I loved them so much I got a few more as gifts for people back home. Do you use a bento box? Would you? 

(Photo from Bento & Co.)

Today is the day! #iPhone5

I am absolutely so excited to hear about the new iPhone 5 today. Yes, I am aware that I am a total Apple nerd. When the iPad came out, J and I were having lunch together in his classroom that day and we totally watched the iPad video on my iPhone while we ate. Embarrassing, I know! 

I just hope that the new iPhone will be available in Switzerland soon. Yesterday I was able to call Swisscom and get my iPhone 4 unlocked. Can you believe the timing?! So perfect. Coco and I are homeward bound at the beginning of October. :) Does anyone know a good prepaid service for iPhones in the US? Are you on pins and needles to hear about the new phone? Or am I just way too nerdy to admit freely on the internet? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Thought for Today

Today I'm thinking of all the victims and their families and wishing them peace and strength. 

(photo from Upworthy)

On Housekeeping and Montessori-at-Home

I always daydream of having a housekeeper who comes once a week to do the deep cleaning in our house. In my mind, this means that our home always feels organized and tidy and it's a huge stress relief for me to have that component of our lives taken care of. So the other day, when I ran into a friend on our lane, we got to talking about cleaning and housekeeping and I shared my daydreamy thoughts with him. 

His response really surprised me. And seriously got me thinking. All of my deep thoughts on cleaning and what it means to be a good mom after the jump!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zurich: Family bike ride to Frau Gerolds Garten

J had today off, which was so lovely because the weekends are never long enough! Spontaneously, after breakfast, we decided to go for a family bike ride. Züri Rollt is an awesome bike sharing program throughout the city of Zurich where you can get a bike and helmet and baby seat (and baby helmet) for free! So amazing. Especially in a city where nothing is free - or even remotely affordable. ;)

When we first got Coco in the baby seat, I wasn't sure if she'd like it very much. But then she started checking it out and soon after, she relaxed and settled right in.

We rode through the middle of the city and Coco was having a great time chirping, squealing and babbling as we zoomed along. We stopped at Paradeplatz to take a few pictures and then we continued on to west Zurich for lunch at Frau Gerolds Garten. I've been wanting to check this place out all summer and today was the perfect day for it!

Frau Gerolds Garten is a super cool summer restaurant with a sustainable, eco-friendly mission. Much of the food is grown on-site in amazing raised beds right next to your table! And the kitchen, bathrooms and entire restaurant structure are made of recycled shipping containers. It's completely rad. 

Just next store is the Freitag flagship store, which is also made out of shipping containers. Freitag made some sleek, industrial benches for Frau Gerolds that really add to the cool feel of the place. I'd love to have one as a little seat outside our kitchen window. Don't you think they're cool? 

The food was very yummy. We had sausages and then we shared a summer salad with avocado, hearts of palm and sundried tomatoes on greens. But perhaps the best thing of all was the water. In Zurich, you never get water at a restaurant unless you order bottled water. But at Frau Gerolds Garten, there was fresh water with lemon, orange and mint out on the bar and you could drink as much as you wanted!

After lunch, we hopped back on our bikes and rode home just in time for Coco to have a nice long nap. I'm so excited to have a bike of my own with a baby seat. Family bike rides are my new favorite thing. Do you have a baby bike seat? Is it front- or back-mounted? I'd love to hear why you love it (or hate it! :) xo

Guest post on momfilter.

If you don't already read momfilter, an amazing blog for moms, today would be a good day to check it out. I am very happy to have written a guest post for them about Swiss health care and delivering a baby in Switzerland. You can see the full post here

Coming up later today I have a post all about seeing Zurich by bike - with a baby! Make sure to check back for that one and all the cute pictures. Speaking of cute pictures, yes, that is Coco eating a french fry. My mom introduced them to her while she was here and now she's crazy for them. (Sigh.) Luckily she is content with homemade fries for now. ;) Happy Monday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Have a gorgeous weekend!

This weekend I'm in the mood to cook, so we are eating lots of excellent food and enjoying one last summer weekend. It's a three-day weekend for Joel because of a local holiday involving bows and arrows and children. Last year a girl won! We plan to relax, swim and kiss summer goodbye with love. What are you doing? Is the weather forecast good where you are? 

Here is a little sampling of what caught my eyes (and ears) this week. 

Tonight's dinner, which J calls an Italian cheeseburger! ;) Don't skip the cream. 

Sorry fall, summer's back

A beautiful song to make you think.

I've really been wondering about this. Poor baby!

Omgosh. I'm addicted!

Fantastic episode that will have you laughing out loud.

I just signed up for two free online classes! #thanksbing

Sometimes we find what we're meant to do a little bit later than most

Not helping my Mexican food obsession!

When we buy a house. (J said no, by the way. ;)

See you back here Monday! xo

What new moms really need.

Aside from a devising a showering routine that is lightning fast, and adopting a hairstyle that doesn't require styling, I have discovered two essentials that I need (and love!) since becoming a mother. Don't laugh at the second one.

A DLSR camera. It is so important to invest in a decent camera - and learn how to use it - ahead of time. For the first six months of Coco's life, we were taking pictures with our point and shoot, but way more often with our iPhones. Don't do that! iPhone photos are not quality photos when it comes to printing and archiving. Then I got a Canon Rebel and 50mm lens

I'll admit that when I first bought it, I was telling everyone I had a new camera with a 50 milliliter lens and that I had also gotten a telescopic lens. It is not a measuring cup and no good for stargazing! What I did have were 50 millimeter and telephoto lenses. ;) All the same, I learned how to use it and now we have gorgeous, photo album worthy photos of practically every waking moment of Coco's life. So worth it!

Trashy TV. This is invaluable at the beginning when your baby only wants to sleep in your arms. The first three weeks, J and I would settle onto the couch in the evenings with Coco in my arms on the Boppy Pillow and watch episode after episode of WEEDS! Sweet family viewing, right? Not really. 

But, really. I actually get kind of teary eyed when I hear the Weeds theme song now. It reminds me of those tender early days as a family. It was the perfect thing while we were exhausted and housebound. Watching trashy TV, drinking nursing tea and eating tons of cookies was just so satisfying. Now that Coco is older, once she is in bed at night, all I want to do after a long day of caring for her, meals, cleaning, laundry and diapers is kick back with a glass of red wine (or sometimes water! ;) and r-e-l-a-x. Last night, I finally finished Desperate Housewives. What a disappointment! But trashy and fabulous, nonetheless!

What are the unexpected essentials and guilty pleasures of your life as a mom? And what are your favorite trashy TV shows? I'm looking for a new series! ;)

(Canon photo from here. Desperate Housewives logo from here.) 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On having a tiny baby.

Monday afternoon, I took Coco to be weighed and measured at the Mütterberatung, which literally means "Mother Counselor." Once a week, in each neighborhood's community center, midwives are available to answer questions and help with any challenges. It's nice, because often times you don't need a doctor, but you do need some reliable advice. The Mütter- und Väterberatung (it's for dads too! ;) is just one of the many awesome perks of having a baby in Zurich. 

This week, I actually went to a different neighborhood's Mütterberatung because Coco is always sleeping during ours. It had been ten weeks since she was weighed the last time and she wasn't growing out of any of her clothes, so I figured it was time. We got her on the scale, and I was more than a little shocked to see that Coco hadn't gained any weight all summer! In fact, she had lost 100 grams. Yikes! But the midwives were not concerned at all. They were more interested in whether or not she's trying to feed herself (she is; it's messy!) and if she's pulling up and crawling (definitely!) and if she's happy and active and has more teeth (yes, yes and yes - we're up to five!). Then the midwife pulled out the percentile chart and showed me that Coco is right there on the 10th percentile line. What a relief! And how fabulous. Maybe it's selfish, but I love having a tiny baby. She's so snuggly, so light and so easy to carry and hold. It's lovely having her be so small because then it doesn't seem like she's growing up quite so fast. Even though she is. Just look at her standing there. She will be walking without holding onto anything in no time! 

Having the Mütterberatung is invaluable because I might have freaked out over her weight unnecessarily. Having them there, I avoided a stressful couple of days waiting for a doctor's appointment and worrying that she's not eating enough. I'm so thankful for my healthy, happy, tiny baby girl! How did/do your babies measure up to the percentile chart? And what about you as a baby? Do you agree that those charts are just silly? ;) xo

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Your Pregnancy Week by Week

While I was pregnant, my absolute favorite pregnancy book was Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Dr. Lesley Regan. It's a super heavy, mammoth encyclopedia of everything there is to know about each individual week of pregnancy. Basically, it's what every pregnant woman wants. Every Saturday morning, I'd get out of bed, read through the new week's information while eating a gigantic breakfast, and devour every detail with delight. It's an awesome book and I highly recommend it.

Oddly enough, it seems to be Coco's number-one-favorite book to pull off of the bookshelf and look at. It must be the glossy cover and gorgeous full-color photos that catch her eye. ;) What pregnancy books did you read? Or, if you're expecting, which books are you enjoying right now? 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Do you own a house?

Something that I daydream about often is being a homeowner when we move back to the States. We really love apartment living in the city, but we also know that someday we are going to be so ready to for a house with a garden and a big front porch and lots of space for our family and entertaining. A couple of years ago, when we were just arriving in Switzerland, getting settled and feeling good about staying, I saw the cutest house for sale near my mom's. 

As crazy as it sounds, I kind of wish we had bought it and rented it in the meantime! It's right across the street from a cute coffee shop and in the exact neighborhood I want to live in when we move back. I actually saved the photos from the listing (don't judge!) and I like to look at them every once in a while, daydreaming of pies cooling on windowsills, backyard grill parties with my mom and sisters and Coco's cousins, and walking the kids to school through crunchy fall leaves. Doesn't it just sound like heaven? 
I always become ridiculously attached to my apartments, but living in a house will be even more wonderful because it's long term. It's exciting to be saving every month for this big, adult step we will take in the next five years! If you're a homeowner, I'd love to hear your tips on house hunting, home buying and settling in. What worked well in the process? What would you do differently?   
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