Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Theo's Birth

In just a couple of days, our little guy is going to be five months old. It seems like forever ago and just yesterday at the same time. With the move and so much change all at once, we are still reeling and recovering. But, despite all of the chaos, we had a really beautiful, inspiring birth with Theo, so I'm excited to finally tell you all about it.

On the morning of August 1st, I woke to roll my giant belly over in four steps and was shocked to discover I had wet myself. Just a tiny bit! Of course, I knew I hadn't and that my water had broken, but I was really tired so I just changed my pyjamas and went back to bed. Who does that?!

A couple of hours later, I woke up again - and changed again - and told Joel, "I think we're having a baby today!" He groaned. Understandably. We had been hoping to have one last day to unpack and put things away and then a peaceful weekend before my due date. How silly of us to assume that because Coco was late, Theo would be too. Haha.


I finished packing up my hospital bag. Then we dropped Coco off at the daycare she was in for the week so we could get stuff done at home. We obviously weren't going to get anything done, so we went to Target and printed off a huge stack of photos of Coco to take with us to the hospital. We went back home and packed Coco's overnight bag for her first overnight stay away from me with her cousins. Then we had barbeque for lunch and went for a nice, long walk in the sand on Park Pointe.
I still was not contracting! We decided to go home and Joel had a nap. While he slept, I started to freak out and cry. I was so upset that the house was a mess, that our container shipment from Switzerland had yet to arrive and that I was going to be bringing a baby home to nothing. UPS showed up at the door with a package from Amazon. Okay, not nothing. We'd have four muslin blankets, four organic cotton newborn size Onesies, almond oil, diapers and some of those disposable change pads. Sob! Not the homecoming I had hoped for. More crying and a trip to the toilet and I realized that I was no longer leaking amniotic fluid. I noted that as strange. Time ticked on and I called an acupuncturist who happened to be just down the road and went in for some needles. That darling woman opened the door to welcome me and asked how I was feeling. I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed and told her we weren't ready and she listened and gave me tissues. Then she started needling me and turned on that crazy Chinese music that's super relaxing and lit incense and left me to breathe deeply and relax and the contractions started. By the time the session was over, the contractions had stopped. I went back home and cleaned and fretted a bit more. I tried to lie down for a nap. More amniotic fluid. Interesting. I couldn't sleep. I wasn't hungry. Woe was me.

By this time, it was early evening. Coco had gone home with her cousins from daycare and my mom was calling. She was watching the clock and wisely suggested that I head into the hospital to see if my water was broken. Oh, fine. I said and we drove in.

Just like last time, I had a big "hospital bag" full of things I never used. It turns out I don't need to be in my own clothes during labor. Just give me one of those hospital gowns and I'll be happy. I was lucky enough to arrive at the change of shifts. The outgoing resident checked me and determined my water had broken, but it was probably a high tear and not a real rupture. She was all geared up to induce me and get things going. I was not keen on that plan and neither was my labor nurse. The nurse sort of shooed the doctor away and the next shift came on. Dr. Griffith came in with her sweet smile and happy curly red hair and I felt so good to be in her hands. She adopted a wait-and-see approach and the resident, Dr. Payne (poor guy), was on board, too. Hooray! No induction.

I began doing lunges and hopping around. Because my water had been broken for more than 12 hours AND I was Group B Strep positive, I was put on some antibiotics. Whatever. Natural childbirth was already dropping like a rock on my list of priorities. I sipped water and looked out the window over Lake Superior. The sun was beginning to set and the evening felt so safe and relaxing. I'll admit, it was awesome to be toddler-free and just chatting with Joel while the doctors hooked me up to IVs and all that.

Pretty soon, the contractions got more regular. Then they got more intense. For a few hours, we had a really great rhythm going with the birthing ball. Joel stood behind me, supporting me. I was breathing through them and they really had my attention. Pretty soon, breathing progressed to moaning. Then a switch flipped and it all changed to back labor. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I felt like I would die and asked for the anesthesiologist in case there was a wait. He showed up about thirty seconds later. I sent him away again and tried to keep going. Joel was no longer able to help me through the contractions. I screamed at him and told him not to take any more photos. I also yelled a bit at my nurse. I tried getting in the shower and the feeling of water made me want to go ballistic. Out of the shower. Then it was a variety of positions, tons of screaming (and yelling) and I was still only at 5 cm. EPIDURAL. Obviously.

Dr. Bayer showed up on the dot. I was so relieved. Then I had to get through two or three more contractions while he inserted the epidural. Joel was sent off down the hall to the waiting room and I didn't even care. I panted through the contractions. Now here's where I say, in retrospect... In retrospect, given that I was able to pant through the contractions while holding my nurse Joyce's hands in a death grip, and given that they were so strong my upper lip sweat and I saw blue in between and thought I would pass out, I was probably heading into transition. Maybe I could have even kept going because maybe it wouldn't have been much longer. But jeez. I just couldn't take it anymore. Back labor is not normal labor. It's not dull pain or discomfort. It's white hot, searing pain that makes your upper lip hot-cold with sweat and your vision black out. I'm woozy just recalling it. So forget all that "in retrospect" nonsense.

Things progressed from there. The first epidural didn't work, so about an hour of excruciatingly painful-on-one-side only contractions, Dr. Bayer came back and re-did it and I went to sleep. Bliss!
Things progressed on their own without any pitocin or help. But, Dr. Payne did rupture my (already-broken) waters with a crochet hook and very soon after, I was fully dilated. Just as the sun was coming up over Lake Superior outside the window.
The room was glowing. It was time to push and I was so ready.

Now, here's where I get to feel really, insanely, extremely proud. I may not have been able to hack it against the blacking-out back labor. But, let me tell you, I can push. I am so incredibly good at pushing and I love it so much.

For our first attempt, Joyce had me on my back pulling on a sheet tied in a knot with Joel on the other end. (I think he was pretty amazed at how strong I am!) We tried that for about 25 minutes over four contractions and then I told Joyce it wasn't working and I wanted to try my side. Once I was in a favorable position, she was cheering, told me to remember exactly how it felt to push like that and went to get the doctor after the first push. It was a flurry of activity, lots of gloves snapping and robes going on.
And then, just three pushes later - THREE - Theo was born into a sun-drenched room exploding in cheers for the awesome pushing. The first thing I noticed looking down between my legs were his massive man hands.

He was huge.
4354 grams, or 9 pounds 9 1/2 ounces. Wowza. No forceps, no straining. Just my own strength. Grrrrr. That felt so good.
What a beautiful day.
After some much needed sleep, Joel brought Coco to meet her brother. And our life as a family of four began. To all those people who love to quip, "You only need boobs and diapers!" I am here to tell you, you're wrong! But we survived somehow - and continue to do so! Stick with us. Lots more good bloggy stuff to come. xoxo

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Decorating: The Kids' Room

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Now that we're moving, all I think about is furniture. I think it's partly because I have nowhere else to channel my nesting energy while packing up our home and getting rid of things, and partly because redecorating is just about my favorite thing ever. I still need to fill you in on the details of our move - it's a big one - but for now, let's talk about how cute Coco and baby boy's shared room is going to be.

We are getting Coco the cutest ever toddler bed and handing down her changing table and crib to baby boy. I'm going for a yellow, pink and blue color scheme and getting each of them the adorable silhouette duvet covers from Stokke for their respective beds. Before he transitions into the crib, we will co-sleep with baby boy. And while most of his naps will be outside in his pram, I got this lovely bassinet for his naps inside. For his clothes and blankets, I decided on an ultra modern dresser that combines the white of the changing table and the natural wood of the crib to tie them together a bit more.

Another element I really wanted to include was a big cozy chair we can all snuggle up on to read books together. I love the pop of color in the form of a yellow nightstand next to the chair to hold said books. ;) Because Coco will be choosing her own clothes and dressing herself any day now, it was important to get her a toddler proportioned wardrobe and dresser so that she can reach everything. And, finally, to keep the room cheerful and cozy, I chose an aqua dot wool rug for the floor. 

I am so excited to see it all come together! Do your children share a room? Would you have a boy and girl share or do your children have their own rooms?

Friday, April 11, 2014

3 1/2 Room Apartment in Seefeld: We are moving!

Some big changes lie ahead for our little family. With baby boy making his entrance this summer and our move coming up, I'm dealing with it as best I can. But honestly, I love our apartment and city life so much, it's hard for me to give it up. :( Moving forward in life is always like that isn't it? I have the hardest time letting go.

*UPDATE May 1: The apartment has been rented. Thank you for your interest!*

But the time has come to advertise our beloved apartment. We are looking for someone to take over our apartment and furnishings as of July 1st. We investigated every possible scenario of how to structure our move and given that I'll be nearly 8 months pregnant at the time, we decided it's best to pass on our furnishing to the new tenants and pay for IKEA delivery and assembly at the new place. 

We have the most beautiful 3 1/2 room apartment, right in the heart of Seefeld. It's located on a quiet lane with easy access to public transport, the lake, parks, grocery stores, shops and restaurants. It's the perfect place to live! Click on "Read more" below to see more photos and get the details.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Montessori Monday: Beautification

Sunday afternoon, I had just finished making a cup of tea when I was walking out of the kitchen and had to stop to admire our little flower arrangement on the kitchen table. Having flowers in our home brings me an incredible amount of joy and happiness. Such a small thing has such a lovely impact. 

The idea, feeling and understanding of beautification is also integrated into the Montessori curriculum. The classroom isn't just a room with materials where lessons can take place. It is a carefully laid out, inviting, beautiful place that calls to children and motivates them to explore. That is why instead of calling it a schoolroom, it's called The Children's House or Casa dei Bambini in Italian. Montessori believed the children should feel at home and that through creating an attractive place, they would also feel called upon to care for it. Isn't that wonderful?

The only other place I've seen that idea laid out is in the book Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure. Have you read it? It is fascinating. Over the course of eight weeks, you completely re-energize, de-clutter and deep clean your home. I can't recommend it enough. About flowers, he writes:

As simple as it sounds, the act of buying flowers for your apartment holds great significance and will heal your apartment on many levels. As organic elements, flowers strengthen the bones and contribute to the breath of your apartment through humidifying and cleansing the air...Typically one buys flowers for another, but it is particularly important that, whether you live alone or not, you view flowers as a gift to your home. This is the beginning of nurturing your home and taking care of it. 

I think it's absolutely beautiful. Now every time I buy flowers, I see them as a gift to our home and I love the atmosphere fresh flowers create. It truly is an interaction and brings new energy into our space. In Montessori classrooms, the children learn flower arranging from age four or five. This awareness in Caring for the Environment instills in them a love of beauty, order and nurturing their space. 

Do you buy flowers often? What are your favorites to have at home?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Have a fantastic weekend

This weekend we are going to the Knies Kinderzoo in Rapperswil. They have a baby elephant! And a baby camel! And elephant rides! It's going to be exciting. Other than that, I hope to get in a few naps in and enjoy the sun. I hope it's sunny where you are. 

Here are a few links for your weekend:

Love these adorable finds under $20!

Very sweet, new-to-me blog

The right milestones to watch for - and help happen.

Ten best airports in the world.

Stay-at-home-mom day. Laughed out loud!

Clever yet innocent April Fool's prank.

What it means to be an American woman abroad. Also laughed out loud! 

Have a fantastic weekend! PS - I discovered a previously unknown perk to Vidis Kochtüte tonight: It's just as easy for Joel to make dinner as it is for me. :) :) :) Take it easy and I'll see you back here Monday. xo 

Elephant and girl photo via Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Experience with Vidis Kochtüte

Last week we tried Vidis Kochtüte for the first time. The recipes are super quick and easy and after our first dinner, I immediately ordered a five-recipe bag for this week. From now on, I think Monday afternoon is going to be my favorite time of the week because our Kochtüte will arrive. :)
It's lots of fun to unpack the bag and see all the ingredients. All items that need to be refrigerated are packaged separately in a reusable compost bag. I put everything away and then flip through the recipes for the week to figure out what to make first based on the dates on the meat and fish, or the delicate nature of the produce. Last night we had a salad because I wanted the greens to be super fresh. Tonight we are having the wok veggies for the same reason. The fish is good through Friday and the pasta is shelf stable well beyond that time so they can wait.
Preparation goes extra fast because mostly everything is pre-measured and ready to use. We save the little plastic fish from the soy sauce for Coco to play with in the bath. They're lots of fun! 
Once I've decided what to make, I simply gather the ingredients together with the recipe booklet and in less than 30 minutes, dinner is served! These salads with orange vinaigrette and smoked ham were so good that we completely forgot to take a photo. ;)
But look at this incredible veal and mashed potatoes from last week. The topping was a delicious garnish made with dried apricots, almonds, parsley and garlic. Amazing! 
Coco couldn't wait to dig in, but she controlled herself long enough for me to take a photo. Much to our surprise, the portions are generous enough that all three of us felt satisfied and full, without feeling stuffed, after each meal.
We loved seeing Coco try new flavor combinations. And she loved having adult food with us. On a practical note, we find clean up is quicker and easier than usual. The recipes are so well organized that it's just 15 minutes back to a sparkling kitchen after dinner. I'm hooked; I don't want to ever want to go back to planning and shopping for our meals!

We are now happily paying Vidis Kochtüte customers since giving it a try! If you like to cook, but hate grocery shopping and planning, I highly recommend Vidis Kochtüte. All of the ingredients come from high quality Swiss suppliers and are bio (organic) wherever possible. It's the best thing I could have asked for while pregnant with a toddler. Honestly. :)

Special offer for Swiss Lark readers: Enter the coupon code SWISSLARK (all caps) at checkout and receive a 20 CHF reduction on your first order. Offer good through June 30, 2014. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Montessori Mondays: Floor Bed

Because we've been so happy with Coco's Stokke Sleepi crib, we've decided to get the same one for baby boy, but in white, and with the kit so that it grows from Mini (pictured) to Sleepi. I'm sort of giddy about it and can't wait to have our precious, heavenly smelling newborn swaddled up in that bed for his nap with the white on white on white bedding. Swoon! 

I love everything about this plan, but...it is in direct opposition to the Montessori way. Click on "Read more" below to find out the Montessori approach to infant and toddler sleeping...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Have a lovely weekend.

Do you watch music videos? I usually don't because they're always so bad and I feel super embarrassed for the musicians who look so silly and over-directed. BUT...these sisters from HAIM (rhymes with time) completely rock. I have the biggest girl crush on them. They seem so cool. I like to think we'd have fun hanging out. But let's not get carried away...
Haha! ;) I can't get that song out of my head ever and I love singing along with it while I make dinner. They're such good female role models for young girls. Totally rad!

And here are a few links for your weekend.

Would you let your child play at The Land?

Soon to be stylish baby names? I love Otto! (But glad our name isn't on the list;)

I can't wait to make these ping pong ball cafe lights for Coco's room.

Gorgeous, natural-looking summer eye shadow.

That's all I've got for now. This week was too beautiful to be inside surfing the web. ;) I hope your weekend is lovely! See you back here Monday. xo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Turning a Corner

Things around here have been really awesome lately. I think it all comes down to one simple thing: I quit my job. 
When I was working (and she was coming to work with me) it was only a few hours each morning, so I didn't see how it could be so disruptive. But it was incredibly stressful and put a terrible strain on our relationship. I knew I had to quit when I realized I wasn't enjoying my daughter at all anymore. Now that I've quit, Coco is back to her usual self. She's joyful, energetic, curious, talkative, happy. She's not acting out in an effort to get attention. She's not willful and surly. It's so nice to have our girl back! I felt so bad about quitting, but it was absolutely the right decision. 
Now our routine is back. We get up in the morning, have breakfast together and either get out to do something or relax a bit at home. I'm blogging again. Coco is napping again. I don't feel overwhelmed, irritated and tired all the time. We are all benefitting. And much to my surprise, two-and-a-half is turning out to be quite a delicious age. I'm blown away by the expressive, thoughtful little person she's become each and everyday. Oh, Coco. Words cannot express how I love you so. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cold-Busting Super Lemony Ginger Chicken Soup

Whenever I get a cold, I always crave chicken soup. Obviously! But oddly enough, chicken soup in a can does not exist in our neighborhood grocery store. That leaves me several unappealing options: Have a stockpile on hand for when sickness strikes, head out to a specialty grocery and buy some, or make stock ahead and freeze to whip up soup in a jiffy. None of these options works well because if we have a stockpile of cans, we end up eating it other times. When I'm sick the last thing I want to do is make a trip to a specialty grocery (and most likely find they don't have what I'm looking for when I get there anyway;) And our freezer is just slightly bigger than a shoebox, so we don't the option of freezing anything.
The last time I was sick with a cold about a month ago, I took the path of least resistance to brothy, healing goodness. I cut corners, I broke all the rules, and I made a delicious, nourishing soup in about half an hour. It was so satisfying and soothing, that even when we have access to cans again, I will probably go ahead and make this anyway. It's not made with homemade chicken stock, or even home-roasted chicken, but I'm no longer convinced that's better. 
Cold-Busting Super Lemony Ginger Chicken Soup

1 store-bought rotisserie half chicken
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 liter (32 oz) fresh water, or as directed on your bouillon
3 celery stalks, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
15 grams (1 Tbsp) butter
1 knob of ginger, sliced
1 lemon, washed and halved
Handful or two of egg noodles (optional)
Salt and pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. 
  2. Sauté the onions and ginger with some salt until the onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Add celery and carrots and sauté for a few minutes. 
  4. Add a few grinds of pepper, bouillon cubes and water, turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down to medium-low. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, drop in the lemon halves and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 12-15 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken. 
  6. Bring back to the boil, toss in noodles and chicken and cook until noodles are ready, according to package instructions. 
  7. Serve immediately. 
This soup will last a couple days and tastes even better when reheated the next day. Don't discard those yummy, flavor-releasing lemons halves until the soup is all gone. If you want it even brothier, just add more water and bouillon to suit your tastes. I hope you won't need this anytime soon, but if you do, get well! xo

PS - Our Vidis Kochtüte sack arrived last night. So beautifully presented and we can't wait to share that with you later this week. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dior's Trianon Collection

Last week, we were walking through the city with Coco when I saw the Dior Trianon Collection on display in a parfumerie. I was glued to the window display admiring all the pretty details. Everything in the collection is feminine and flowery. The eye shadow palettes are gorgeous and I'm especially fond of the nail polish colors and the Pétillante lip gloss. What do you think? It looks like a popular one - everything is selling out already!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Vidis Kochtüte Dinner Service

What should we have for dinner? seems to be the eternal question in our house. It plagues me day after day, week after week. This pregnancy, I've been so tired and grocery shopping with Coco has become so difficult, I can't tell you the number of nights I've sent Joel for  take-away pizza and salad! :( So I was delighted to learn about Vidis Kochtüte. It's a dinner service here in Zurich that aims to put healthy meals on your table without any fuss. Here's how it works:
On Monday, at the time of your choosing, Vidis Kochtüte deliver a bag of fresh ingredients to your door. Within the bag is everything you need to make three delicious hot meals, right in your own kitchen, without stepping foot in a grocery store! The recipes are tucked in with the ingredients and you only need to provide basics like oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and butter. 
Each of the recipes takes about 30 minutes to prepare and then dinner is served. I practically jumped for joy when they asked me to give it a try. ;) Next week, we are getting the Classic Small Bag, and I'm so excited that I don't have to plan meals, or grocery shop, for three nights! I honestly can't wait. 

Special offer: Vidis Kochtüte is offering all Swiss Lark readers a 20 CHF discount on their first order. Just enter the coupon code SWISSLARK at checkout. Offer good through June 30, 2014.

Thank you so much, Vidis Kochtüte

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coco's Fasnacht Costume

Last Saturday we took Coco to a children's Fasnacht celebration in Neumarkt, our favorite part of the old city in Zurich. It was a beautiful sunny day and just the right amount of festivities and excitement for our little 2-and-a-half-year-old sweetie. Her costume was a roaring success. Click through to see more photos and read more about Fasnacht.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coping with Winter Dry Skin

It's that time of year again. My chin and cheeks feel like sandpaper and it makes me not even want to wear any make up. So, yesterday, I was in the Apotheke and they had little sample packs from Nuxe, including their famous Huile Prodigieuse. This morning I slathered it all over my poor face and it smells incredible. All of the other samples were equally wonderful smelling. I fear that I have found my latest beauty weakness. Leave it to the French. They get me every time! 

What are your winter skin secrets? And, in case you missed it, oil cleanser (also French;)

photo via Feel Unique

Monday, January 27, 2014

Flags made from food.

I love these flags made out of country's traditional foods. The French flag is made out of blue cheese, brie and grapes. Turkey's out of Turkish Delight! And Brazil's out of banana leaf, pineapple, passion fruit and limes. Aren't they so clever? You can see the rest, made for the Sydney food festival, on Marvelous. Which is your favorite? (USA made me laugh;)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So this is where I've been...

Today we had our twelve week scan for our little baby bun! He or she is, in the words of our doctor, "perfect!" and expected on or around August 4th, 2014. It's so surreal to be pregnant again. Despite the three months of being more tired than I've ever been in my life, holding my breath while opening the refrigerator door so I wouldn't gag and eating bizarre things like Cocoa Krispies for dinner, it's still hard to believe that a little person is growing in there. That's probably the biggest surprise of the second pregnancy. It's just as unbelievable. 

At the same time, it's a bit anticlimactic. As we were leaving the doctor today, J said, "Man, it's not nearly as exciting as the first one!" And it's true. I think we go into each doctor's check expecting to see fireworks or hold a real baby. Then, all we get is the much-anticipated-and-hoped-for-thumbs-up, these grainy black and whites and asked to come back in four weeks. ;)

Here are a few more ultrasound photos, if you'd like to see. 
The baby now measures 6 centimeters long. Check out that brain. What a smarty!
He or she was really moving around a LOT. It took the doctor nearly 15 minutes to get the nuchal translucency measurement. During that time, we spent lots of time poking my abdomen to make the baby move and got lots of waves back, like this one. Do you see the little hand on the left? Hi, baby!
Serious crotch shot! (But way too early to tell;) We've decided that we are going to find out the gender this time. I want to be able to have all those sweet baby boy or girl clothes washed and ready to clothe those adorable little legs. 

I'm so happy to be able to share this news with you all, finally. :) Now that the extreme fatigue or the first three months is over, I hope to get back to blogging on a regular basis. Thanks for all the notes and messages during my absence. I've missed you, too! xo
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