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?  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The (possible) Transition from Co-Sleeping to a Crib

Back in the spring, when I first saw this hilarious comic strip about co-sleeping, our sleeping arrangement was really working for us. At the time, I scoffed at this comic, dismissed it as anti-attachment-parenting, and carried on with our blissful sleeping arrangement. Then, ever so slowly, Coco became really good at rolling over, then scooting, then sitting, then crawling, then pulling up and then, suddenly, co-sleeping was a bit of a nightmare! That's when I remembered the comic strip, Googled it, and laughed out loud at how true it is. If I could describe parenting in one word it would be: Humbling. My how things change. ;) Coco is totally "The Stalker" and we know "H is for Hell" well.

So we have reached a strange point. As much as I love co-sleeping, or maybe the idea of co-sleeping, I'm just not sure that it's working anymore. It's hard to sleep when you're being kicked in the face and I really question if any of us are getting the rest we need on some nights. The domino effect when one of us wakes up affects us all, even if it's just to roll over and resettle. In the evenings, Coco goes to bed first and I often go in to check on her while she's sleeping alone in the bed. I see how peaceful she looks and how soundly she's sleeping (in snow angel position, of course) and I can't help but wonder if she might actually prefer sleeping in her own bed?

Just as these new and unexpected questions started bouncing around in my head, I read this post on A Cup of Jo all about the book The Sleepeasy Solution. It's a sleep training book and pretty much something I never thought I would even consider reading. Ever. Much to my surprise, after reading the reviews on Amazon, I decided to order the book, just to see what it says. Did you co-sleep in the beginning and then transition your baby to a crib or bed? What prompted the change? How have sleep/nights/life changed for your family? I would love to hear how it went for you! xo

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

International Travel with a Sick Baby

It seems to be our family tradition to come down with the stomach flu the day before we fly to the States. Monday morning Coco started throwing up at 6 am. In all honesty, better her than me, but it still put a serious crimp in our plans. By 5 that evening, I had been doing laundry non-stop and she was still at it! :( So we went to the Kinder-Permanence urgent care at Zurich HB. I was so impressed with the facilities, staff and doctor. Then at the Bahnhof Apotheke, we didn't have to wait in line, the doctor had faxed our prescription over so they were already working on it and they were so helpful and kind. All in all, a good experience if you must go at all. 

One of the things the doctor prescribed at Kinder-Permanence was what I came to call "The Magic Suppository." Don't ask me what's in it, but it's a little suppository that stops nausea and vomiting for 24 hours. She told me if Coco was still sick in the morning to go ahead and give it to her before we left for the airport. Sadly, it was necessary. But then, much to my surprise, everything went really well! Our flight to London was easy. She slept during the layover and the flight to Seattle could have been a lot worse. She was fussy, didn't want to sleep much and I spent most of the flight walking her around in the Ergo, but she didn't throw up once. 

Once we got through Seattle and on our Spokane flight, I was so relieved that I had made it through the whole trip without a change of clothes for myself. Isn't that just how it goes when you're a mom? You pack two extra outfits for your baby and none for yourself. ;) I was slightly euphoric boarding the plane and stopped to take that photo of the sunset. Isn't it gorgeous? The wind smelled like salt from Puget Sound and I was so happy to be in my beloved Pacific Northwest! 

Well. For the record, let me just say that the magic suppository lasted 21 hours, not 24. :(

Just after we landed in Spokane, Coco threw up all over me. Actually, at first, she just threw up on my jeans. Then the flight attendants quickly handed me a wad of paper towels and Coco threw up on my shirt. Then, she threw up again and it was happening so fast! In a moment of total and utter lack of brilliance, I thought I would stop the vomit with the paper towels. So I held them up to her mouth gently thinking that maybe the paper towels would just absorb all of the puke? Of course not! It sprayed everywhere. Vomit all over my face, in my eyes, in my hair. With everyone taking their things out of the overhead bins and watching on in horror! It was my worst nightmare. I honestly thought I would cry. And for some strange reason, the absolute nicest guy in the world was sitting next to me all the way from London to Spokane and he stuck with me, people! How ridiculously lucky is that?! The flight attendants gave me wet paper towels and he actually held puke-covered-Coco while I cleaned the throw up off of my face. He talked me through it, carried my bag and helped me at baggage claim. Oh my God. Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am. 

So here we are. Coco slept a fitful sleep for short stretches last night and at 3 am got hungry and had a little bowl of banana and rice cereal. She's been napping most of the morning and I think she is finally in the clear. J just sent me a string of alarming texts from Permanence. He's got it, too, and said it's the worst pain he's ever experienced. Poor J! I think by this time tomorrow, if I haven't gotten it yet, I probably won't. But major apologies to everyone who was on any of our flights yesterday. Oops. Maybe trip insurance is a good idea once you have a baby. I'm curious, do you buy flight insurance? Have you ever used it to cancel and re-book? Was it a hassle or did they come through as promised? I would love to know! ;) xo
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