Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting the Most Out of a Vacation

A friend of mine was talking recently about the phenomenon that makes us enjoy the act of preparing for a vacation more than the vacation itself. I knew what she was talking about, and readily agreed, but at the time, I didn't realize it was a proven thing! This New York Times article details why anticipating a vacation gives us more happiness and joy than the actual vacation itself.

"The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your happiness from anticipating the holiday trip. What you can do is try to increase that by taking more trips per year. If you have a two week holiday you can split it up and take two one week holidays."

I am in full-on preparation mode for our upcoming trips. Coco and I go to Ibiza in a few weeks and then to the States in June. I'm busily washing Coco's travel cot and its bedding, preparing summer clothing and we even got a new Maclaren buggy that folds for traveling. I'm having a great time anticipating these trips. And now that I've read the article, I don't feel the usual pressure to have an absolutely amazing time while I'm away. In the past, I've always felt like I failed somehow when I found myself on my long-awaited vacation and not having the best time of my entire life. Knowing that it's normal to get more actual happiness out of the anticipation period before the vacation than the vacation itself is comforting somehow. But isn't it just bizarre?! Do you agree with the article? I agree with it, but it definitely seems wrong somehow! ;)

(Photo via Pinterest)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Montessori: Trusting Yourself

When I was teaching, I was decisive and confident in my decisions regarding discipline and limits. I was kind and firm with my students and developed a mutually respectful relationship with each one of them that differed from child to child, personality to personality. I almost never doubted the framework within which I separated acceptable from unacceptable and I took the opportunity to help those children learn the rules and culture of our class community in a positive way everyday.

But as a mother, I'm experiencing something new. Coco is my daughter, and therefore I have a very strong emotional bond to her that I never had with any of my students. I have a whole new respect for effective parents now that I've experienced just how much our little ones tug at our heart strings when they cry and experience disappointment. It's enough to make you give in - or at least want to - even when it's not the right thing to do.

Drawing on my Montessori knowledge, here are the six discipline areas where I have to trust myself as a parent, even when she's wailing her head off.

1). Bedtime. Need I say more?

2). Routine. I know this child (like all toddlers) thrives on a consistent routine. If she's swinging and going down the slide and having the time of her life and doesn't want to leave the playground, we leave anyway if it means having lunch on time, and napping on time, and eating dinner on time...and, you know.

3). Tantrums. Sometimes these happen in public and everyone stares at you like "Go on, make your child quiet. Give her what she wants so she'll quiet down now." Not happening, people. And not happening, Coco. If it's not safe for her to walk up and down the aisle of the tram while it's zooming along, I can't let her do it, even if she thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. And if that means she's going to 'wail and flail' as I like to call it, so be it. What's that, general public on the tram? You hate it? So do I! Duh. But letting her do things because she screams is not a precedent I want to set.

4). Following Through. It's terrible when I hear myself say, "You'll have to get out of the bath tub if you throw water over the side." Because then I have to take her out early the next time she does it. But not following through means she won't believe me the next time. Because of this whole throwing-water-out-of-the-tub fiasco, I have learned to get her all soaped up and hair washed within the first five minutes so that when it's time to pull the plug, she's ready.

5). Asking Yes or No Questions. This is a parenting pitfall. DO NOT ask a yes or no question if it's NOT a question. So obvious. So easy to do anyway. For example, now that Coco is fluent in "No" it is positively ridiculous to ask her, "Do you want to get ready for bed now?" or "Let's go get you ready for bed, okay?" Her answer will inevitably be "No." and then I'll have to go with it because I was an idiot and asked when it wasn't really her choice. It's important for children to make decisions and to experience the power of their own will. So, throughout the day, I do ask her questions. I'll say, "Do you want to go change your diaper?" and if she says no, which is fine, then I respect that. Every time, when I ask a little while later, she says yes because who wants to go around in a dirty diaper. I'm not punishing her or tricking her; I'm allowing her to experience the weight of her decision. I decide what is acceptable in that realm. I never ask her, "Do you want to sit in your buggy while we cross this busy street?" Of course not. But in little ways, I let her have the power of saying no, because she's a toddler and she needs to flex her muscles now and then.

6). Giving Two Choices. Along with the muscle flexing, another piece of development of the will is making choices. In Montessori we are always giving children two choices as a means to put the power in their hands, but within the framework of acceptability we have established as the adult. Narrowing down choices keeps it from being overwhelming, yet still lets the child experience the result of their choice. Two choices is great for clothing when getting dressed. If clashed clothing choices so typical of young children bothers you, let them choose between two complete outfits. ;) I let Coco choose between snack options: grapes or apples? Or between books at bedtime: "Counting Kisses" or "Barnyard Dance"? I tell her to touch the one she wants and she does. When she was an infant, I let her choose her clothes. I said, "Do you want to wear this pink striped outfit or this white one with butterflies?" then I watched closely to see which one she focused her gaze on. It was pretty rad. Here's the thing with two choices. They can't go back. Once they've chosen the blue shirt, the red shirt goes back in the drawer and doesn't come out again even if they change their mind. Why? Because it's important to understand the will. Once they've willed the blue shirt, it happens. It's empowering in the long term, because it enforces the idea of decision and commitment. But in the short term, it can be hard for me as a parent to keep reading, "Old Bear" when she second guesses and wants "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" after all. But I keep on and say really plainly and kindly, "We can read that another time." and nip! That's all. But it's hard sometimes, even though I know it's right.

What are the ways that your child gets you to go against what you know is best? Do you find it challenging to stay the course sometimes?

(photo via Pinterest)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mothers Returning to Work: Jessica and Miles

Jessica works as a Political Science professor. She loves her job, she is super smart and she has razor sharp wit. Her son, Miles, is a character as you can see. You'll enjoy her little soliloquy on motherhood below, which she admitted to composing after a few beers. Smart move, Jess! ;) 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sad Mac

Remember when Carrie Bradshaw got the "Sad Mac" and her computer was toast? I'm hoping that won't be me today. Our computer called it quits last night, just as we were about to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights (which we then watched on the iPad) and we got the spinning circle on a grey screen for 12 hours. :( A little googling suggests that's not as bad as the blue screen, but we have a Genius Bar appointment this afternoon. Sad day.

It's a sobering reminder that we always abuse our computers, never back up enough and should get better at deleting photos. Do we really need 20 photos of Coco napping one random Thursday afternoon? Or 40 photos of pie crust? Of course not. But who wants to edit photos?! Worst. Time. Ever. And here we are, paying the price. Wish me luck!

Apologies in advance that posting may be a little light this week. I'm doing a mobile post on my iPhone now. I hope it looks good on your big screen. ;) We are going to pick up my bike and the baby seat and helmets this afternoon. I'll do my best to keep you posted, but in the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Twitter. xo

Friday, April 12, 2013

Have a sun-drenched weekend!

Spring is finally in Zurich and we are looking forward to sunny days and temperatures in the low 70s this weekend. Finally! Tomorrow we are going bike shopping and then Sunday I have my knitting group and a little girls get together to go to, so Coco will be having a daddy day, hopefully with the new bike seat we plan to get for her tomorrow. Monday is a local holiday that involves a burning snowman that explodes and forecasts the summer. It's a bit too rowdy to attend with a toddler, so we just plan to enjoy the extra day of sunshine together. Here's a bit of what has caught my eye over the past few weeks. 

Command center. Looks helpful. 

So funny! (Or is it depressing? ;)

Dermatologist recommended face wash. Justifies the cost of this little gadget! ;)

Love this kid's sense of humor!

Breastfeeding? Don't rush the solids.

Everything you ever wanted to know about seaming.

10 things to say everyday.

Sugar and kids.

Our latest nightly show. So good!

Obesity in America.

Photo of Athens at sunset from our babymoon to Greece two years ago. And in case you missed it, a new series on Swiss Lark started this week. Here's the first one. :)

Have a lovely weekend and see you back here Monday! xoxo

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Getting a Babysitter

Last night we went to the University of Oregon Alumni meetup for Zurich and Switzerland. It was sort of amazing to meet up twenty other people who had all gone to our university and all ended up in Switzerland. Before going, we expected everyone to be American, but actually there was only one other American there! Most people were Swiss (think tennis scholarship ;) and the rest were from around Europe. It was really fun...except that we took Coco with us. 

I spent the evening chasing her in heels, which I can tell you is not fun. J and I took turns, but the last hour, I changed back into my Uggs because I just couldn't do it anymore. It would have been fine if the venue had been enclosed, but it was an open bar in the lobby of the Marriot. In other words, toddler heaven, with an automatic glass revolving door going onto a busy street. How perfect! At one point Coco ran into the revolving door too fast for me to get into the same side with her. I was right behind her, separated by a wall of glass and thankfully a friendly stranger on his way in picked her up before she could dash into the traffic ten feet away. There were also the valet guys, but I'm glad it didn't come to relying on them for the three seconds it took for my compartment to open up. Goodness.

Parenting is a learn-as-you-go game. Always. So now we have learned that you don't really enjoy yourself at adult functions with a toddler along. I know, it's so obvious! But some events you think to yourself, 'Oh, it will be fun to have her along! Let's take her with us,' and then you realize you were wrong. It was lots of fun for her, but for us, not so much. My new rule of thumb is if the clothing doesn't match chasing a toddler around, she shouldn't come. Pretty clever, right? ;)

(photo via tumblr)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mothers Returning to Work: Maria and Ferdinand

Maria Funk is an Editor at Cornlesen Verlag, an academic book publishing house in Berlin. Her son, Ferdinand, will be two this summer. Click on "Read more" below to learn about maternity leave and life as a working mother in Germany.

Mothers Returning to Work Series

The issue of merging work and motherhood has been at the front of my mind basically since I finished the first trimester of my pregnancy. I hemmed and hawed over it throughout pregnancy and then kept it right up after Coco was born. I'm still at odds with the idea of balancing work and motherhood. ;) So I had a little idea last June to feature a series on Swiss Lark profiling women of varying nationalities on their experiences and choices regarding work and motherhood. It took a long time to get all of the responses back, but with the recent mommy wars, it seems like the perfect time to share it all with you.

Starting this afternoon, I will feature one mom's story each week for five weeks, finishing with my own story and how I navigated the choices that every mom faces. We women find ourselves in a unique position because we are the ones who carry the baby, give birth and breastfeed. As much as we would like these issues to be family issues or societal issues, even when husbands and partners help out and laws are put in place to ensure maternal workplace protection, at the end of the day, these issues affect the mother and baby the most. 


I hope you'll enjoy the series! And I hope it will spark some discussion. If you're a mom was this a tough decision for you? Are you pregnant and weighing your options once the baby comes? 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Waiting for Spring

Today the weather finally broke and it rained. It rained hard and steadily and everything was completely wet and I had to use my umbrella and I didn't have the rain cover for Coco's Bugaboo, so it was soaked, and we ran to get on the tram, and we got inside all wet and dripping and we smiled and laughed with each other because somehow, the world just felt different. During that rain, I knew that winter had officially ended. It was spring rain. It didn't feel cold or forbidding like winter rain; it was soft and warm and gentle and loving. And it's here. Finally. We are not going to be in the dark and cold forever. Spring! April showers bring May flowers.

But in a really odd way, I feel like we needed to be in the dark and cold of winter as long as we were. J and I have been thinking way too much about our future plans the past couple of months. So much so that we had lost sight of the present. The very idea that you could lose sight of the present always seemed ridiculous to me, but it's not. We'd been so caught up with when we should have another baby and when we should move back to the States and what we are going to do next and when we're going to do it that we had entirely lost sight of the fact that we are finally here. We have achieved our long-time goals of living in Europe and starting a family and feeling settled - and now we're thinking about the next thing?! 

No. 

No, no, no, no! That is so wrong

It is not time to think about the next thing. It's time to just sit back and enjoy what we've got, because we have a seriously amazing thing going here and we've earned it. Then at the end of that enjoying, we'll have a downpayment for a house, and our family will have gotten bigger, and we'll be ready to make a new plan. But that's a long way off. We've got a few years of simply enjoying life as it is before any of that planning is necessary again. What a relief that is!

I realized during our extended winter that I can only plan or enjoy at one time; I don't possess the ability to do them at once. ;) So no more worrying and no more planning for the next few years. (I mean it! :) Welcome, spring! We've been waiting for you. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's this blog about, anyway?!

As I stumble along writing about whatever nonsense is interesting me at that moment, I've realized that quite a few of you have stuck around! That makes me so happy. But, I'm curious: What do you like about this blog? What keeps you coming back? Or, what annoys you and makes you not want to come back? I like writing it for myself, which I why I started the blog, but at this point, I'd much rather write it for you. So if you feel like commenting, please do. Or you can send me an email if you'd rather. Either way, I'd love to hear from you. :) xo

Couch to 5k

Today marks the completion of my first week of the Couch to 5k program! (For the third time...but that's okay! ;) I discovered a few things and feel really good about heading into the next seven weeks. I chose to do this program along with ballet class once per week, because running is free and I can take Coco with me in the jogging stroller. It really is so much easier than going to a gym, dealing with daycare and changing rooms and lockers and getting there and back. Overall, running will take so little time and effort. It's the perfect mama exercise. When she's a little older, the gym thing might be tempting as they do have the daycare. But for now, J and I are working on coordinating so I can go to ballet once a week for myself and the other days I can run (eventually!) with Coco. 


Week one was all about the learning curve. The first day, I was having trouble with my phone and not being able to hear the commands. It was raining a little bit, so I had to have the rain cover over Coco in our running stroller and that made the phone impossible to hear. I talked to J about it, who primarily runs with the running stroller (I'm so new to all this!) and we decided that we are going to get this cool handlebar console and cup holder speaker! So fabulous.

On the second day, I almost killed myself and Coco. I took a route that meant we had to cross a busy street and somehow I started out into the intersection and looked up and saw that the light was red for me and turning green for the cars speeding our way. I screamed, threw myself into reverse and vowed never to go that way again. After our near death experience, I discovered that running by the lakeside with a stroller is nearly impossible with all the people around anyway. Fail and fail!

Today, day three, I feel like I'm getting into the groove. The extended winter we're having in Zurich has been really hard on me; I'm sluggish and depressed lately. So I have to say that getting out for a heart-pumping run/walk is really helping. This is going to be so good for me. 

All in all, Couch to 5k is genius. I wouldn't say it's a complete piece of cake, because by the time the "walk now" command comes along, I'm usually fine with hearing it. ;) But it's absolutely doable and not the least bit intimidating. It's broken down into manageable snippets and I can see how over the course of 8 weeks, I'll find myself able to run for 5 full kilometers without stopping. Incredible! Are you a runner? How did you get started? Are you (like me) a running-phobe? If so, would you ever consider the Couch to 5k program? 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baby Fever

I'm feeling it for sure. Absolutely. 

(And I got my period today, so don't get any ideas. We are sticking to the plan! ;)

photo via here.

Baby Bike Seats

Yesterday was finally a sunny day, which gives me hope that we won't be shrouded in darkness with snow flying in our eyes forever. Spring days are sure to come our way and we need a bike seat for Coco asap. I really want to get the Yepp Mini, pictured above. I like that it's front mounted and has all those air holes for ventilation. It comes in white, which I think would look great with J's bike. 
Best of all, you can get a super cute sleep roll for the seat so that your little one can nod off and have a snooze while you're riding around. Last summer, when we tried the rear mounted bike seat, it was frustrating that Coco's neck was all slumped and I couldn't see her when she fell asleep. I definitely think front mounted is the way to go. Now I just need a bike myself and we'll be all set. 

(photos via Adeline Adeline)

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