Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bento Box Lunches

I fell in love with bento box lunches while ordering a replacement band for Coco's bento box earlier this week. Aren't they adorable? Originally, I got Coco's bento box just as a way to carry around her cereal and snacks. Making actually bento meals for her will be much more fun! I love how bento box meals have a good balance of protein, fruits and veggies, and how it's all presented in the cutest and most appealing possible way. What toddler could resist?! 

Details of my first of many bento orders after the jump...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TV Series

Since becoming parents, J and I love to have a show to watch every evening once Coco is asleep. It's our time to relax together after our long and busy days. We cuddle up on the couch with a glass of wine and fly through series, watching one or two episodes every night until we are finished. Our favorite TV series of all time have been (top down) Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad and Homeland. We just started season two of Homeland this week and we are so invested that we actually high five each other when there's a breakthrough; and I can't stop my heart from practically pounding out of my chest during some scenes. It's ridiculous! I hope Homeland goes on for many more seasons, but at the same time it seems like a lot of shows peak at the second or third season and then start to go downhill. (Weeds comes to mind...;) After Homeland, we are planning to start in on Californication and I'd also like to try Big Love (the show, not the practice!;). The Wire never did it for us and neither did Dexter or True Blood. What are your favorite series? We need to keep 'em coming. :) 

(photos via 1, 2 & 3)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Signs of Spring and Our Comfortable Routine

Slowly, but surely, the improbable signs of spring are starting to show. A peek of sunshine here, melting snow and new grass there. The glorious warm feeling of the sun on your back. 
Most of the snow has melted and the grass is that coming-to-life color that screams spring. It's not winter grass, it's grass that is getting ready to grow. Next the pine boughs will be taken off of the roses and then the blooming will begin. I can't wait for the blooming. It's so miraculous each year to see everything burst into color and full of life. I'm so ready.
But whenever it gets real, I remember to savor the last bits of winter. Lots of roaring fires and lighting candles in the evenings. Eating all of the delicious things that just don't taste good when it's hot outside; Raclette and Fondue, ginger snaps and shepherd's pie. It's such a relief to know that winter is almost over, it makes it easier to enjoy these last weeks.
We have fallen into such a delightful routine and I am just so impossibly in love with my life right now I can hardly believe it. Coco is happy and growing and satisfied and delightful in every single way. Every morning, once we've eaten and tidied and dressed, we get outside for a walk - at least one, but often two per day. We go all over our neighborhood and look at everything there is to see. Cats hunting birds, birds singing in trees, muddy hillsides, budding flowers, pebbles, bulbs pushing up through the dirt, doorways, gates, fences. Everything is interesting to Coco and I love watching her curiosity in action. Then we get back inside and warm up and eat lunch together and she's ready for her nap. While she's sleeping, I bake and clean and do laundry and keep our home cozy and neat. She wakes up warm and snuggly and we sit and read a pile of books together. Then she plays and I make dinner or sometimes we get out for another walk and blast of fresh air. When J gets home, we all eat together and then her bedtime routine makes evenings so easy and enjoyable. One of us gives her a bath and gets her ready for bed while the other cleans the kitchen. Then everything is done and she goes to sleep happily, easily, and J and I have the evening together. It's kind of perfect! I just had no idea life as a stay-at-home mom could be this good! But, somehow our lives have fallen into this happy, effortless rhythm and I am so grateful. At night, before I go to bed and the house is quiet and dark, I pause and look at our sweet little home and feel like the luckiest person in the world. It's that good.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Amyjo Designs: Upcycled Denim Skirt

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans that you've worn to death? I ruined my Seven Dojo's while I was pregnant and they got holes in the inner thighs and seat because of all the weight I had gained! ;) But thanks to Amyjo Designs, they have been reborn as a cute new mini-skirt. Click on "Read more" below to learn all about upcycling old jeans into new things!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Have a splendid weekend.

How was your week? Ours was super relaxing and chill with J home the whole time. We had all sorts of grand plans of things we would get done, but all we did was read, take naps, eat long meals and watch Homeland with a glass of wine after Coco went to bed. It was lovely. By the way...I just booked our tickets to Ibiza, so it's official! Coco and I are going to the Holy Mama Yoga Retreat in May. I cannot wait! Eeeek! 

Here's what caught my eye around the web this week:

Ansel Adams would have been 111 years old this week. Isn't his photo of the Tetons above magnificent?

Obama discovers Montessori!

Great article about hipsters and suburbs. ;)

We've talked about changing your name, but would you choose a whole new one?

Why did I instinctively do this as a parent? My grandmother's Finnish blood? :)

A gorgeous and natural laundry gadget. (via apartment therapy)

This apartment has me dreaming of San Francisco architecture.

Deceptively simple.

Instant snow in Siberia!

I am *in love* with the entire Spring/Summer collection.

And now it's time for me to run off to my ballet class. Such a perfect way to kick off the weekend. :) I hope yours is as splendid as can be, and see you back here Monday! xo

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Learning to be On-Time

Since moving to Switzerland, I have had to completely rewire my brain when it comes to time and punctuality. I was am one of those people who never gets anywhere on time. :( Ten minutes late is my usual, but I've been known to be half an hour late (or even more!), depending on the occasion and situation. Obviously, it's not a good thing to be "a late person" anywhere, but in Switzerland it is literally unacceptable. (Can I just say that I am the last person on Earth who should be living here?! ;) After two and a half years, I am beginning to gain a whole new understanding of time. I am still late more than I'd like to be, but I'm seeing time in a whole new light. It's rather amazing. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Coco's Favorite Toddler Meal

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an old issue of Everyday Food I had brought to Switzerland with us when we moved. It's a well-loved edition and is all wrinkled from getting wet and has stuff spilled on the cover because I used it so many times to make Emeril's Chicken-Patty Pockets, one of our favorite recipes of all time that I had completely forgotten about! Of course I went ahead and made it for dinner that night. Much to my surprise, Coco couldn't get enough! 

Instead of making hers into a wrap with the Turkish flat bread J and I used, I cut up one of the patties and put it on her plate along with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and gave everything a lovely dousing in the mint and lime yogurt sauce. She it all and even asked for more cucumber - twice! Isn't it surprising how toddlers will gobble up the foods we least expect them to? We have noticed that Coco loves nothing more to be eating what we are eating. So I'm taking advantage and trying to expose her to as many flavors and textures as possible while she's in this exploration phase. Too many children seem to only want pasta! ;) 

In the beginning, Coco was slow to take to solid food. Once she got into it, her favorite baby foods were avocado, banana and mashed potatoes. Now that she has her molars and can use a fork and spoon, she will try anything and we are always looking to introduce her to more foods. What are your baby or toddler's favorite foods? Which ones took you completely by surprise?

(photo via Martha Stewart)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do or Don't: Holy Mama Yoga Retreat, Ibiza

Have you ever been to Ibiza? It always makes me think of foam parties and craziness, but apparently there is a whole different world on the north part of the island. Up there, it's all yoga retreats, hiking and chilling out in nature. I had no idea!

I'm terribly tempted to join a few of my friends and their little ones for a mommy and baby yoga retreat in Ibiza at the end May. It sounds amazing: A full week in a private villa with yoga everyday (babysitting included!), three freshly prepared vegetarian meals for mama and child daily, smoothies and super foods to snack on throughout the day, space to relax by the pool and under the pergola, and a spa pass to a spa nearby (while they babysit, of course ;). Wouldn't it be amazing to watch one of the legendary sunsets with my girlfriends while our little toddlers run around on the beach and play in the sand? 

I would so love to join them, but we leave for the States June 11, so it would be a serious turnaround once we got back. Also, I have my doubts. How well would Coco do with babysitters she's never met?  And then there is the issue of packing for a trip like that. We would have to bring her travel cot and her lovey and her stuffed rabbit and about a billion nuggis and numerous other things. And what if she doesn't like the food? Worse yet, what if something happens and she gets hurt or seriously ill while we're out in the middle of the Ibicencan countryside? 

But...I suppose there is always the possibility that everything could go smoothly and it really could be a heavenly retreat with my beloved girlfriends and their little ones. And besides, we have iron-clad Swiss health insurance and Rega. ;)

Over the past few days, I have been trying (quite unsuccessfully) to decide against going. The price isn't cheap, but it isn't completely outrageous, so that isn't an automatic deal breaker. And it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! We are living in Europe; it's not far to go. Coco will be at a great age for running around on the beach and playing in the sand and yet she still flies free on my lap. :) And, because we plan to start trying for another baby around Coco's second birthday anyway, I might not have an opportunity like this again. What do you think? Should I go ahead and do it? Or should I save the funds and the headache of two big trips virtually back-to-back? 

(Photo of a typical Ibizan sunset from here)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Montessori Mondays: Choosing a Montessori School

Not all Montessori schools are created equally. In fact, the name Montessori is in the public domain, so that means that anyone, anywhere can open a "Montessori" school regardless of their education and training. Click on "Read more" below to learn the important things to look for when choosing a Montessori school for your child.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Have a fabulous weekend.

What are your weekend plans? I'm going to my ballet class tonight, and then heading out for a friend's going away party. It's crazy to think that we have been here long enough to see people leaving. :( I'm looking forward to a night with the girls, though! :) It's been years at this point...

Here's a bit of what caught my attention this week around the web. 

My No. 1 pet peeve. Learn it! 

Our Sunday night dinner

We read this book at least six times per day this week.

I'm a devoted fan, but having a hard time imaging this one. Curious! 

This meteor footage from Russia is unreal.


This should have been my valentine to J. ;)

Coco has become so attached to her lovey recently.

I wish this apartment were available during our Paris trip in May.

I hope your weekend is lovely in every way!! See you back here Monday. xo

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Going to Acupuncture

Have you ever been to acupuncture? I recommend it to everyone I know. And I'm always surprised to learn how many people are afraid of going! They think it will be painful or scary. (It is not.) So I asked Eden Alexander of Golden Acupuncture here in Zurich if she would be willing to have a photographer along at my next session. 

Click on "Read more" below to see what a typical acupuncture visit is like from start to finish. The amazing Olga Bushkova took photos.

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is a beautifully sunny, cold day in Zurich. We started our day with heart-shaped blueberry pancakes and bacon. Then we went into the city center and Coco toddled all over St.-Peter-Hofstatt, a lovely square on top of a hill in the old town. You can see more pictures of our day on Instagram and even a few videos on Vine (my username is swisslark, of course!). :)

Wishing you a very happy Valentine's Day! xo

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Timeline: Ten Years Together

J and I have been together for ten years now! It's hard to believe so much time has passed since we met.  Here is a little timeline of our time together if you would like to see.

2003 

This is the first picture ever taken of us. We met at a Christmas Sweater Party at J's apartment in December 2002. Then we didn't see each other again until February 2003 when we ran into each other at a coffee shop neither one of us had ever been to before! This picture is a few days later when we went out in a group of friends and then hung out at J's apartment after. I think it was actually February 13th! Isn't it funny how in college everyone has dress-up clothes? I'm wearing crazy Elvis glasses and J is a cowboy. He even has a little toy gun. Silly! We had both just returned from our study abroad experiences. I had gone to France and J had been in Germany. We loved Europe and from the very beginning it was our little joke that we'd live in Switzerland someday because both French and German are spoken here. (Haha!)


This is us later that summer before we moved to LA. We only stayed in California a few months because I hated it! And, we learned while we were there that we actually hadn't graduated from the University of Oregon and needed to complete one class each to finish our degrees! What a mess. (And it looks like my scanner is a mess, too, considering how dusty these photos are! ;) So we went back to Eugene. I was happy to leave LA because I realized while we were there that it wasn't getting me any closer to my goal of moving back to Europe. When we got back to Eugene, I took more French classes and got a minor and J finished a major in German. That totally ended up helping us with the permit application to come to Switzerland seven years later! Good move, us. :)

2004 

This photo is from the rehearsal of my sister Amy's wedding. Doesn't J look like Jesus with his big hair and beard? I think those are skate shoes he's wearing. Makes me laugh! In 2004 I started the Montessori training in Portland and J was still in Eugene for a few months, so I drove down to see him every weekend. 

2005

In 2005, I was still in the Montessori course and J was interning in Germany. I went to see him for spring break and we hiked the Cinque Terre in Italy. It was gorgeous. (Last fall, we took Coco there and hiked a portion of the trail with her in the Ergo. It was so fun to return as a little family.) Then that fall of 2005, when I was finished with the Montessori course and J was back from Germany, we moved to Spokane! Looking for jobs and trying to establish ourselves as recent grads was brutal. J ended up moving to Seattle for an internship. I applied for, and accepted, a job in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. More long-distance dating for us. :(

2006

When J took me to the Seattle airport to leave for Neuchâtel, I was so sad. I had honestly thought that we would end up going our separate ways at that point, but once I was waiting to board the plane, I knew that that wasn't going to be the case. After the first four months in Neuchâtel, I went home for Christmas. Here we are all dressed up and ready to go out on New Year's Eve. We had so much fun and the plans were already underway for J to come to Switzerland and join me.

2007

J arrived in Switzerland February 25, 2007. I went to meet him at the Geneva airport and I had the first week of his stay off of work for ski holidays. Within a week of his arrival, he proposed! I was surprised and happy. Here we are that night. He stayed in Neuchâtel with me for three months. Then we made plans to return the States. We went to interview with a school in Arizona and were both offered positions. J was to take the Elementary Montessori course over three summers' time and work as a classroom assistant during the school years in between. I was offered my own class. It seemed ideal! But then everything fell apart when the summer Montessori course was full. We ended up being apart again! :( Oh, it was horrible. J went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the academic year Montessori course and I went to Phoenix. If I had it to do over, I would go to Milwaukee with him. We survived somehow, but it was the worst year of my life. I took over an extremely challenging classroom in Phoenix and didn't experience any success all year long with those children. It was hard being apart and I hated driving everywhere, not having any seasons and planning a wedding under all that stress. That year, I had strep throat FIVE times. It was miserable. :( 


We did have a few good times though. I went to Chicago with J to watch him run in the marathon. We had an amazing time and he finished in 3:34 before they shut it down due to the extreme heat and the death of a runner. Yikes! 

We visited each other every three weeks at least during that year, but it was so hard! Thank goodness we never have to relive that one! ;)

2008

Our wedding was fabulous! Definitely the best party I've ever been to. If only it hadn't gone by so quickly. It really did seem like it was over in a flash! 


After our honeymoon at Sun Mountain Lodge in the North Cascades, we packed up and moved into our first apartment as a married couple in Northwest Portland. J carried me over the threshold and my brother and my friend Joy helped us move in. It was so exciting!

2009

Summer 2009 we took a trip to Ireland on buddy passes with my friend Andrea who worked for a big airline company at the time. We had so much fun! We drank Guinness, walked out to see Newgrange, and explored Dublin. Little did we know that a year later we'd be moving to Zurich! Eeek.

2010

July 31st, 2010, we officially moved to Switzerland. We spent that summer getting rid of almost everything we owned, except for what would fit in a 6'x8' storage unit. We sold our beloved car and let go of our lovely apartment. During our first school holidays, in October, we took an amazing trip to Italy. We zipped all over Rome on a scooter, stayed in a little apartment off of the Piazza Navona, sat for hours in the sun and read books at cafes, went to Florence, stayed in Assisi and hiked between three Umbrian hill towns, ate tons of amazing food and visited Pompeii. It was awesome. And very soon after that, we realized we were ready to have a baby. It was our last carefree vacation as a couple. And it was perfect!

2011

2011 was the year I'd been waiting for all my life. I was so happy to be pregnant, I loved that we had finally attained a level of success in our careers to be able to take on the responsibility of starting a family. I felt secure and happy like never before! It was (and continues to be) so amazing. :) That year, we saw our little baby dance and flip on the ultrasound monitor. We traveled to France and Spain and Greece. We moved to our beloved Seefeld neighborhood. And we brought our baby girl home from the hospital. I don't see how it could have been any better. 

2012

We spent 2012 wholly invested in our lives as parents. We found time for a couple of dates. We overcame challenges and difficulties. We learned to relax and laugh at the small stuff. We loved every single minute of it. 

2013

2013 is the year of the toddler for us. Coco is more independent all the time. We are learning about tantrums (note the Jimi Hendrix above). We don't have many pictures of us all together because either J or myself is always behind the camera. ;)

Just think if a fairy could have whispered in our ears on our first date ten years ago that in 2013 we would be living in Zurich, married almost five years, with a beautiful daughter. We never would have believed that fairy! ;) But here we are. 

And won't it be fun to see what the next ten years hold? Happy ten years together, J. I'm so glad we met! xo
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