Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Handy Coffee Trick

I can't seem to keep a travel coffee mug around for long. I lose them or break them constantly it seems. So, I've taken to taking my coffee to-go in a repurposed jam jar. It is the perfect size and the hot coffee makes the lid seal so you don't have to worry about lots of spilling. Kinda genius if you ask me! ;) And I love that it doesn't matter if I forget it on the tram. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Montessori: Setting up for Success

In a Montessori classroom, the goal is always to make the child feel challenged but not discouraged. We want to set them up for success. That isn't always easy, but generally, progressing from simple-to-complex works. Rather than diving into button sewing with a three-year-old, I'd probably show them simple weaving with yarn and burlap first. But, if the child is particularly dexterous, going straight to a button could work. It's always a process of gauging the best lesson to give, giving it and then observing to see if it was too simple, too complex, or just right. The perfect lesson is challenging enough to be genuinely satisfying to accomplish, without getting disheartened along the way and giving up.

So, when it comes to Coco and her emerging skills, I try to apply the same philosophy. Right now her favorite thing is her scooter. That thing is such a genius design, it's the perfect example of setting up for success. Note that the scooter has two wheels in the front. It can still tip over, but in the beginning, she was able to focus more on the motion and feel of scooting than on simply staying upright. It also has a ring instead of a t-bar at this stage. We have the t-bar in the cellar to put on when she's taller and more coordinated, but for now the ring is very forgiving if she oversteers, whereas the t-bar would be more sensitive to steering movements, taking her straight down in the process. Coco has gotten so good at her scooter that she really flies on it now. But it was tough in the beginning. It was work for her and she would only keep at it for short stretches. Watching other children on scooters motivated her to get better and now she is so fast, I have to run to keep up! ;)
Another related concept I always follow with Coco is allowing her to do what she can do on her own - but not helping. Saturday, she really wanted to climb onto and sit on this street barrier next to the sidewalk. It's a pedestrian street the barriers block, but I think they're let down to allow delivery trucks to go in during the week. Because it was a safe situation, I let her go ahead. I stayed close enough to catch her if she were to fall, but I didn't help. I didn't even touch her; I was just there in case. She struggled quite a bit, but she eventually got it. She was so contented and proud of herself! 

This approach helps her to know her own limits, sends the message that we believe in her - and (bonus!) we're never stuck lifting her onto the slide and "sliding" her down over and over again. ;) I simply do not have the energy to helicopter about fussing over her when we visit the playground, so I'm particularly grateful for that last bit. 

What do you do to set your children up for success? I'm curious, is it a concept you had thought of?

PS - If you live in Switzerland, Coop Hello Family and Pampers are running a scooter promotion. It's an amazing deal!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Have a lovely weekend.

As I was going through my links to share with you this week, I noticed a pattern. Lots of articles and posts pertaining to (and perhaps defending) one aspect of motherhood or another. It got me thinking about postpartum depression, which I've been thinking about all week after hearing that a woman in our online mommy group here in Switzerland lost a friend to postpartum depression related suicide this past weekend. Her baby was just 5 weeks old. Can you imagine the horror for her husband? It's so tragic and even more so because it's preventable. All of us should know the warning signs. It's harder to see in one's self, so if you have people around you in that delicate postpartum time, pay attention. Seeing so many articles and posts about motherhood in my links list you can see why new moms have such a hard time. It's almost impossible to find a way through all of the criticism, even when it's well-meaning. So I'm not going to share any of those links, because I have come to believe that it's damaging to keep that line of dialogue going. I'm not saying that woman committed suicide because she read too many articles saying it had to be this way or that, but what's the sense in having a bunch of articles that make moms worry and doubt themselves? None.

So instead, here are just a few other things. 

Coco would flip over this Eiffel Tower Halloween costume. Should I do it?! I'm afraid she is too young and won't be able to walk around or function at all. ;)

But this garden gnome is ridiculously cute!

My grandma Marie's favorite cocktail

A super unique way to order photos. I'd love to get these for my siblings and mom of our summer vacation in the North Cascades this past 4th of July.

The prettiest cake of all time.

Insider tips on IKEA cabinets.

I broke up with Swisscom and got an upgrade!

A family dinner that will satisfy the adults and picky eaters alike. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. My friend going through IVF got a positive pregnancy test this morning!!! Thanks for all the wishes and prayers. Now let's hope for an easy and healthy pregnancy all the way through. I am so excited for them I can hardly stand it. :) See you back here Monday. xo

(Photo from here)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rearranging Furniture

I think most people fall into one of two camps: those who find rearranging furniture refreshing and those who find it unsettling. I am the former and J is the latter. 

Earlier this week, I rearranged the nursery/guest room/office to see if I could make it feel more spacious. And to get a feel for whether or not we could actually go ahead with the loft bed idea I wrote about a few weeks ago. I moved every single piece of furniture multiple times and then found myself putting everything back the way it had been. What a drag. But somehow in the shuffle, I found a new arrangement and I actually really like it. Obviously we will have to adjust the art work and wall sconces, but I think it's a big improvement. 

Growing up, I moved the furniture around in my bedroom every six months or so. I just never get tired of walking into a room that feels fresh and new, yet familiar all at the same time. I also get miserably bored if things are just the same all the time. 

So which are you? A rearranged or a leave-it-be-er?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Switzerland: Lost and Found on Display

One thing I really love about living in Switzerland is the way people display lost items they have found. If someone sees a hat or scarf lying on the ground, instead of leaving it where it is to get dirty (or taking it for themselves) they put it on display. That way, when the owner realizes it's missing and retraces their steps, there it is, just waiting for them! Isn't that wonderful?

I love how that pink nuscheli is perfectly clean and without a speck of dust in the top photo, even though it's in the busiest square in the city. Then last summer, I happily found a lost hat of Coco's tied to a street sign in our neighborhood. It totally made my day. With babies and toddlers, it seems we mamas are always losing things, doesn't it?

And it's not just Zurich, I saw this trend in action in Neuch√Ętel when I lived there, too. I think it is just completely rad. What do you think? Will you start doing this where you live? Do people do this already?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Montessori: Best TV Shows for Toddlers

I do realize that it's a contradiction of terms to have a Montessori post about the best television shows for toddlers. 

It's true. So let me explain. 

We did our very best to keep Coco away from screens all together before she turned two. But now that she is two, I find it really unrealistic and unnecessary to make her life completely screen-free. It was actually starting to stress me out! So we decided that some TV time now and then is not a problem for us. Of course, we limit the amount of time she watches TV to not everyday and for shorter stretches, 20-30 minutes normally. And we also really limit what she watches. Children's shows with fast, flashing images and crazy music make me sick, so I can only imagine what they're doing her developing brain! For that reason, we steer clear of all the usual shows and stick to a select few. 

Friday, October 11, 2013


You know how it always feels like summer is so short and winter is so long? I think this composite photo of Venus throughout the year is proof. The bottom is the winter solstice, the top is the summer solstice and where it crosses over itself is where we are right about now: the equinox. Just look at how much bigger winter is. Sigh.

Yesterday was the first really cold day in Zurich. You could feel the bite of the chill and smell the snow in the air. All the foothills are already dusted in white and winter does not feel far away. But I was hot and sweaty at my ballet class. I'm so happy to be back. And I am so out of shape! I'm quite sure my face was the color of a beet by the end of the hour long class. My darling teacher, who's so cute I just want to eat her up, reassured me by saying, "It goes away fast, but it comes back fast, too." How perfect.

Here are a few little fun things from my week:

Melt in your mouth fall meal. (I made it with an extremely cheap cut of beef and it was wonderful.)

The Cozy Coupe's adorable history.

I love this Matt Walsh guy! 

This wonder oil is amazing.

I'm flying through The Paris Wife on the iPad. 

And I can't recommend Nicole's Classes enough. I learned SO much in Photoshop 101. Worth every penny! 

I hope you have a fantastic weekend! See you back here Monday. xo

(photo via Cranium)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coco's 2nd Birthday

At the end of September, Coco turned two and her birthday brunch was a huge success! It was super fun for both the children and adults alike. Her wonderful godmother, Noel, hosted and I am so excited to finally share some of the photos with you. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Little Update on a Cloudy Tuesday

We've had a lot up in the air recently. But, thankfully it has all landed and we know where we stand on all fronts! :)

For starters, I am not pregnant. Phew! Over the past week, while I was waiting on my very late period, (but testing negative on a home pregnancy test) I learned that night-weaning will mess up your cycle big time! I am so thankful and feel very fortunate that we night-weaned when we did because right now would just be a terrible time for me to be pregnant. I absolutely need to go ahead with this ear surgery as soon as possible and it would be very stressful and potentially dangerous to wait, so it's really nice to know where we stand. Now I can move on to more exciting questions like whether or not to lower my health insurance deductible for 2014, and which hospital to go to, and things like that. 

Now that I don't have to worry about making plans for baby-number-two, I am actually delighted! I'm going to get back to my ballet class, finally. And maybe I'll even join a gym and do lots of Pilates and finish the Couch to 5K at last. It's very liberating; something I didn't expect at all. 

And then what should happen out of the blue, but I got a call from a former work colleague with a job prospect. I got the call Thursday, went to visit the school Friday, and I'm happy to say I loved it. If everything works out, I'll be working part-time starting in December and Coco will get to start in Montessori, too! Isn't it bizarre how all of a sudden, things just start falling into place and coming together? Life really is full of surprises. 

Now I'm happily getting used to the idea of Coco and I getting up and out the door together in the morning, having a lovely Montessori three-hour work period (with a view of the lake!) and then after lunch, our afternoons free for Coco's nap, grocery shopping, errands, visits to the park, and just being at home. I think at this point it could give our lives some much-needed structure.

Finally, I'm terribly excited because a close friend of mine is currently going through IVF and this past weekend, they extracted five eggs, four of which fertilized successfully. This Friday, if all goes well, they will go ahead with the implantation! (I told you it was terribly exciting.) So let's all send tons of love and good wishes and prayers their way! 

That's the update from here. More posts with beautiful photos and less blabbering coming up tomorrow! ;) xo

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zurich Kunsthaus with Coco

When Coco was just a little baby, one of our favorite things to do with her was visit the art museum. Zurich has a lovely art museum and the permanent collection is free on Wednesday afternoons! Coco loved going and seeing all the art. Especially while being in the Baby Bjorn facing out in order to take it all in. 
When she got hungry, we stopped and nursed on a settee surrounded by giant paintings. It was rather idyllic. It's hard to believe how fast and dramatically our little baby girl has grown in such a short time. I'm looking forward to sharing photos from her 2nd birthday party with you this week! xo

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Coco's First Walkers

Coco put so many miles on her first pair of shoes. And then, one day, they didn't fit anymore. Properly fitting shoes and well-made baby walkers are so important for little toddlers just beginning to walk. Did you know that babies are born with mostly soft cartilage instead of bones in their feet, but the adult foot has 26 bones?! That sums it up right there.

During our trip to the States last fall, it was the perfect time to have Coco fitted for first walkers. She was pulling up on everything, and taking a few steps with her trolley, but not fully walking yet. I took Coco to be fitted at Berg's Shoes in Spokane. My siblings and I got our first pairs of walkers there, and our mom did, too. It's a family tradition! 

I wanted a classic white boot for Coco, which apparently nobody wants anymore. The salesman had to look in the back room and managed to find a few dusty boxes, much to my delight. I ended up getting Coco the Stride Rite Elliot. It's technically a boy's shoe, but I paid no attention to that. How can a classic white baby walker be for a boy or girl? 

Stride Rite make the best baby shoes of any American company. They're well-constructed out of quality materials and designed for the movement and growth of little feet. As a bonus, they're not outrageously overpriced. ;) When I worked in Children's Shoes at Nordstrom during high school and college, I sold dozens of pairs of these little white boots. I just don't think they could be any cuter. Our salesman at Berg's did an excellent job measuring and fitting Coco's little potato feet into her shoes. Then, a month later, she was off and toddling! 

Now her little white boots are in their box in the cellar, ready to take back to Berg's to be bronzed the next time we go to Spokane. I have so many wonderful memories of her beginning to walk in those little shoes. I love the idea of keeping them forever. Did you keep your baby's first pair of walkers? Did you have them bronzed, or do something else?
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