Thursday, January 31, 2013

Zurich: BACKbAR Bakery

We have the most amazing bakery right at the end of our street. I embarrass myself with my terrible German in there at least once a week.
BACKbAR is right at the tram stop, so oftentimes, I like to pop in and get myself something as Coco and I are going out. I park her buggy right out front so she can see me and I go inside. Then it's a race to see if I can get something before the tram arrives. Sometimes I'll have just 40 seconds and the women working there never understand my pitiful German pronunciation, which slows things considerably! Trams wait for no one in Zurich. If it's leaving at 11:09, it's leaving at 11:09, so sometimes I have to just leave mid-unsuccessful-order and run out and get on the tram and zoom away. Hopefully they understand that! I mean, the trams have a schedule that ticks like a Swiss watch to maintain!
Two items really appeal to me at BACKbAR. One is the "Cherry-Pie" (which is really more of a crumble). I am powerless to resist the "Cherry-Pie" with a cup of coffee during summer afternoons, but for some reason during the winter, I couldn't give a crap about it. 
Then I'm pretty much obsessed with their Pizzabrötli. It's a little piece of bread with tomato sauce and mozzarella put under the broiler. It's my preferred snack and not only is it good, but it is so CHEAP! And cheap in Zurich doesn't happen. The Pizzabrötli is a mere 1.80, which is truly unbelievable. I can't name anything else that you can get in this city for less than 2 francs. Not a tram ticket (not even a short-distance tram ticket!), not a cup of coffee, not anything. So the Pizzabrötli is truly something special in the most expensive city in the world. 
I'm sure the bakery ladies think I'm a weirdo coming in there all the time with my reusable coffee mug trying to order Pizzabrötli and not even able to say it. But oh well! It's my yummy little indulgence that I don't have to feel guilty about because it basically costs nothing. :) From now on, I'm just going to speak English at BACKbAR. "Cherry-Pie" obviously won't be a problem and if I just say Pizzabread, I'm sure that will save me at least 8 seconds. ;) 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Some Fresh Air

Today Coco and I got out for a nice long walk in the neighborhood. We both needed a good dose of fresh air because yesterday I was sick with the nasty virus that's going around. It's the reason Coco threw up on the way home from IKEA. Although J and I solemnly agreed that she must suffer motion sickness, I woke up at 2 am to J taking the cover off of his duvet. "What's going on?" I asked in that middle of the night sleepy voice. And he told me. Coco had puked all over his duvet. Yuck. Luckily it was a clean hit and once he'd changed the cover, we all went back to sleep until morning. Then I woke up feeling like death and it just got worse as the day went on. J is the sweetest. He rushed home from work, took care of Coco and fed her dinner and then went to the store for me at 8pm when the only thing that sounded good was Top Ramen and Sprite. He came back, made it for me and got me all set up on the couch and we watched a movie. My hero!

Today everyone is feeling better and Coco is such a little explorer. 
She was totally amazed by the VW bus at the Volkswagen garage. She pointed and said, "Mommy!" and we had to cross the street to get a closer look.
I had horrible flashbacks of our vacation last summer when I saw their Corsica Ferries sticker. ;)
Then she spent 20 minutes toddling through our neighbor's courtyard, pausing to check out their groovy Panasonic bicycle. 
Next stop was the pharmacy. She was in love with the little children's area and carried around the stuffed animals and took a look at the pamphlets. 
Once she had the pharmacist's attention, she threw the pamphlet on the floor.
Then she practiced climbing in and out of the little armchair four or five times. It was super cute. Naturally!
Finally, we went to the store and I was delighted to see that the overpriced berries have arrived! No surer sign that spring is just around the corner. Hurrah! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What are your hobbies?

My greatest hobby lately is knitting. I have always enjoyed the act of knitting, but somehow I never got that excited about the stuff I could knit - until I had a baby! Knitting patterns for babies are so adorable and useful, it's hard to choose. Over the past month or so I've made two baby hats for Coco, both of which turned out way too small. (But they'll be perfect for the next baby ;) And now I'm really getting brave and gearing up to start a sweater! I was delighted to find both an English-speaking knitting group and a really friendly knitting shop right in our neighborhood!

I learned to knit for the first time when I was seven years old and my family was living in Ireland. I still remember the green knitting needles with black tips that I learned on. :)  Then, in my twenties, while I was in Montessori training, my friend Kyrie taught me to knit again. And, finally, a few years ago in Portland, I took a sock class at a knitting shop in our neighborhood and learned how to knit in the round. In that class, my knitting skills and knowledge really skyrocketed, so if you know how to knit and purl and you've made a scarf, I highly recommend finding a class. You'll be amazed at how you jump to the next level. 

It's so satisfying to be learning something new and honing a skill. But, in all honesty, I think the thing I love the most about knitting is how relaxing and calming it is. What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy about them and how did you get started? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Going to IKEA

Today was our big trip to IKEA. Let me begin by saying I'm so happy we don't have a car. Driving in Zurich can be a bit of a nightmare because the streets are tiny and twisty and there is a lot of traffic. Add to that that Coco hates being in the car and she screamed and cried pretty much all the way there and you have less than fun. But once we got there, she was happy and had the time of her life pushing a little chair all over the children's department and restaurant and halfway to the bathroom.  She was unstoppable and it was adorable. She was so completely invested in pushing that chair! She leaned into it with nothing but gusto and looked completely satisfied and happy. It was a total joy to watch. What a  racket it made! People were confused, alarmed even, looking around to figure out what was making that low grumbling and then they'd see tiny Coco pushing with all her might and even the snarliest of grouches had to smile. :) If  the Google Maps App hadn't completely drained my battery driving out there, I would have taken pictures and probably a video too, but as it is, my phone died before we made it home! I should have done it anyway, darnit. It was so cute!!

I freely admit that I'm one of those weird people who actually really likes going to IKEA. Right now I'm in the midst of several little home improvement projects and I can't wait to install our new kitchen shelf (with hooks for hanging pans!) and get our office more organized. Naturally, we ate the meatballs for lunch, and just in case you're wondering, we drove a Mobility car to get there. It's a nifty car sharing program here in Switzerland that I have a membership to with my annual tram pass. Even though I like IKEA and we had lots of fun, it's always stressful toward the end and getting home. And then, just for good measure, Coco threw up a few minutes from home. Nothing like a little extra laundry and fuss on top of the IKEA madness, right? My goodness, what a day. 

So, do you like IKEA, too? It's exactly the same everywhere, you know. ;) 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Have an inspiring weekend.

What are your weekend plans? We are having a yummy French Toast breakfast tomorrow and then taking it easy. We have to gear up for a trip to IKEA Monday. It's always an ordeal! ;) I'm so excited that January is almost over; I can practically taste springtime. Never mind that it is absolutely freezing these days. The picture of the penguins is from our visit to the zoo this week. They were happy! We were cold. 

I want to make Molly for Coco immediately!

Perfect cold weather meal

This event looks amazing. And I'd like one of these, please!

My friend Kyrie and her husband Robert's new blog is excellent.

I'm making this for Coco right now in white

Lullabies that adults can enjoy, too.

We are making the switch. (Not brand loyal! ;)

OMG. Must have.

Reading recommendations. 

Thank you so much for all of your feedback on our baby question. I found your emails, Facebook messages, comments and face-to-face insights so reassuring and helpful! Enjoy your weekend and see you back here Monday! xo

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Keepsake Baby Handprint

Do you have your baby's handprint in plaster to cherish forever? Neither do I. The entire frustrating and failed process of trying to get Coco's handprint in plaster after the jump.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When should we have another baby?

Before having Coco, it all seemed pretty simple. We knew we wanted a lot of children. Three at least, maybe even four. And we didn't want them too close together. And we hoped to have a mix of girls and boys. All in all, pretty straightforward stuff, right? Then last week, J and I were sitting on the couch chatting and we realized that it's actually time to start thinking about when we'd like to start trying for the second baby. I never expected this, but it's completely making my head spin! 

The many, many head-spinning factors include, but are not limited to:

When will I go back to work? Or will I go back to work at all? And if I don't, what about the baby after that? And is that financially feasible? Oh my God. I think a decade of my life just flashed before my eyes. Yikes.

What about age? I'm 33 and we want lots of children. Problematic. Should have started earlier! 

What about help with Coco? My mom is a teacher, so summer is her freest time of year. I'd like to plan for the next baby to arrive in summer so that she can come help out. That means September is the time to start trying... (It seems so soon!)

But what if it takes a while to conceive? We might not be as lucky as last time. As J pointed out, the logical thing seems to be to start trying a month or two early then. But then what if we are as lucky as last time? Spring baby with no help? No thanks!

And what about Coco? It seems weird, but oddly enough, I feel a little guilty when I think about having another baby. "What about Coco?" I always seem to hear myself ask. How can I love her and care for her when I'm tired out of my skull and busy nursing a newborn? I never expected to feel this way, but I do. 

So I'm curious. Did you have your children when you felt like it, or was it something you planned out? Did you always feel 100% ready, or were you banking on those nine months as a buffer? Go on, be honest. I would love to hear. ;) xo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dinner Party Fun: Drink Markers

Last weekend, we had our friends Karina and Roger over for dinner and used these amazingly fun drink markers I got for Christmas for the first time. They had everyone laughing because as you take a drink of your wine, it appears to be your actual mustache!
They are made of silicon and come stuck to a sheet of thick plastic. When you're done, you just stick them back on to be used again and again.
Our glasses seemed to take on their own personalities and it was impossible to grab the wrong one. I used to think that drink markers were frivolous, but now I consider them essential. So much easier than reading lip prints!
Coco didn't get a drink marker on her sippy cup, but she was delighted to take part in the toasting. Cheers! ;) Do you use drink markers? What are your favorite ones to use?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Montessori Mondays: Involving Children at Home

Little children find mundane tasks like emptying the dishwasher exciting and fun. So, as the adults who care for them, we are fools not to take advantage of their enthusiasm. ;) 

Everyday, Coco loves to help me empty the dishwasher. We started with just silverware. She would hand me one piece at a time, then I'd say thank you, put it away and she'd hand me another one. Sure, it took forever but it's worth it. I can tell that when she helps me, she feels involved and she also learns the processes that make up daily life at home. 

We may have some broken dishes in our future because now she's branching out. She's graduated to handing me plates and coffee mugs, too. ;) Good thing they're all from IKEA and easily and inexpensively replaced!
All together too often, we hesitate to allow children to do things like emptying the dishwasher when they want to. Then fast forward a few years and we expect them to do it when they're no longer interested! If you start out at the beginning fostering that interest, it will translate naturally into genuine involvement and help with chores and household tasks. That involvement means a sense of responsibility and accomplishment that is so healthy for building confidence in young children.  

Do you let your toddler help with household tasks? Will you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Holiday: Davos

On New Year's Day we left Zurich and went to Davos for three nights. It was lovely, but also (as traveling with a baby always is) such a learning experience. ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zurich: mARTa photography Baby Photos

Exactly one year ago, we had Marta Kepinska of mARTa photography come to our house to take baby pictures of Coco. Aren't her photos sweet and delicate? Marta brought everything with her to shoot studio quality photos in our home where Coco would be most comfortable. We were so pleased with the results.  
Visit mARTa photography to learn more about Marta's baby and maternity photography, maternity consultancy offerings, or to schedule a session. One year on, we know we will treasure these photos for a lifetime! Thank you, Marta. xo

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Holiday: Mt. Pilatus

On Colin's last day in Switzerland, we took the train to Luzern and went up Mt. Pilatus. It was so breathtaking! The Alps were out in their full glory and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Best of all, they let us take the Bugaboo up in the gondola. Can you believe it?!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Life as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

I thought that being a stay-at-home-mom would be so easy. (I did!) And I could not understand, for the life of me, what moms who didn't have to work were complaining about. 


Now I understand: It's not easy. And they're not really complaining those moms, they're just really, really tired. 

Being a stay-at-home-mom is not easy. It's everything. You're the boss and the manager and the accountant and the cleaner and the cook and the lover and the hugger and the storyteller and the grocery shopper and the organizer and the laundry doer and you're those things and more 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To sum it up, you're the mom. Somehow that all escaped me before I was the mom. Isn't that something?

In the beginning, it's so different. Then you ramp up as you go. Life with a newborn is completely all-encompassing and you're wholly engrossed in breastfeeding and sleeping when the baby sleeps and floating around in this blissful yet disorienting tired cloud of newbornness. It's beautiful and hazy and in a way you don't even remember it later. That's the easy part. The baby doesn't move. The baby doesn't really do much of anything except nurse, snuggle and poo. When you hold a newborn against your chest and they sleep there like they're the happiest person on earth, like they're actually in their own personal heaven, it's a really wonderful feeling. You can get lost in that newbornness and I recommend you do. Stay there for a good three or four months. Don't worry about mopping the floor. The baby doesn't move, so food and drink aren't being slung from the highchair onto that floor just yet! I think Coco was four months old when we finally mopped the kitchen floor. Whatever! We swept. ;) None of that matters with a newborn. It really doesn't!

But it matters with a toddler. Yes it does.

Tonight I mopped the floor. I had really let it go. It had been two weeks since the last mopping and it was sticky. My slippers were literally sticking to the floor and there were spots and fuzzy, gooey places. Ick! I had to mop it twice! The water was black half way through the first mopping, so I finished up, let it dry, re-swept and mopped it again with fresh Mr. Clean water. Oh my goodness. And it's not just mopping. Everything at this stage matters. Each day is a marathon of events, anticipating Coco's needs and balancing those with the household tasks and carrying out a skillful dance around each component to get through the day with a minimum of crying, tears, frustration and impatience. Luckily, a certain amount of frustration is good for children. It makes them resilient and prompts them to begin to problem solve. Phew! Because regardless of the planning, responding and executing of the daily routine, there are usually a few hiccups.

And then there are the golden days when you hit it just perfectly. The pictures above are from two days ago, when Coco and I went to the park and then to feed the ducks. She ate everything at lunch time and was full of energy when we went out. She was delighted to be out in the wide open and walk and explore. She loved the swings. She was in awe of the ducks. Then she fell asleep and had a two and a half hour nap. On the way home we did the grocery shopping and dinner was on time and bedtime a breeze. It was a perfect day. 

I realized this morning, when I was writing my grocery list at 10 am and planning the evening's dinner, that I'm getting really good at this stay-at-home-mom thing. Far from perfect, but really good. Gone are the days when I started thinking about dinner at 4 pm! I'm doing this stay-at-home-mom thing. And I'm doing it well. :) It's nothing like I thought it would be, but it is rad. 

When I was in college, I toyed with going into the Peace Corps. At one of their informational meetings, I got a keychain that said, "The toughest job you'll ever love!" and used it as a zipper pull on a hideous Eagle Creek purse I had. (Can you even call this a purse?! Eeew.) But back to the point, I loved the concept on that keychain. Tough work that pushed you to your limit, that challenged you to be creative and resourceful, that tested your capabilities and made you feel good, made you feel alive, made you feel awesome. Yes! 

I never went through with the Peace Corps, but I found that job anyway. Being a stay-at-home-mom is truly the toughest job and I will ever love. I love it so much!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Montessori Mondays: Children and Technology

Along with keeping it real and using natural materials, Montessori philosophy does not support babies, toddlers or small children engaging with technology. And we Montessori teachers are not alone. Did you know that the American Pediatric Association believes children should not watch any TV (or even see screens!) until they're two years old?! And it's not just in the States. In Australia, the recommendation is the same for under-twos

It's easy for J and I to keep Coco away from the TV because we don't watch TV ourselves. If we do watch a show or movie, our rule is to do so only when she's sleeping. But where it gets tricky is all the other screens. iPad, iPhone, computer. They're all screens and limiting their use to when she's sleeping is a lot more difficult. During the day, I keep my iPhone in the bathroom and only check it when I go in there. I try to write my blog posts during her nap, but I'll admit that right now I'm in the kitchen writing and she is playing with blocks in the living room. :( For the most part, we try to engage in modeling positive activities in front of her: knitting, reading, cleaning, cooking, to name a few. We are not perfect, but all in all, I think we do an awesome job of keeping her life as screen-free as possible. And I am very proud of that. :)

But...I do think there are a two instances when screens are okay. 
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