Monday, August 31, 2015

Montessori Monday: Ask me

I finished my AMI Montessori diploma ten years ago now. I taught for six years, and then, when Coco was born, I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom and focus on my blog. I started the Montessori Monday column and have written on a variety of topics. But now I want to hear from you! What are you curious about when it comes to Montessori? Please email me your questions at lindsey (at) swisslark (dot) com and I will choose a new question to answer each week. 

And, in case you missed them, here are all of my Montessori posts: 

I look forward to hearing from you and answering your Montessori questions!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Have an inspiring weekend

What are your weekend plans? I am having my nose reset this morning. Wish me luck!! Then, we are dusting off the lunch box and getting the back-to-school clothes washed. Coco's first day at Children's House Montessori is Monday! She had her orientation yesterday and it went swimmingly. We're really looking forward to that sweet school community. It still feels like summer here, so we are using our kiddie pool as much as possible and going to a little three-year-old neighbor's birthday party Saturday at the wading pool. Maybe things are finally starting to turn around after all.

Here are a few links for your weekend. 

Macklemore has immortalized Spokane!

The longest tunnel in the world.

Trying to figure out where we are on this chart.

What a tear-jerker

This list has me inspired to cook from scratch again.

A bit on moving.

Spend all your money on experiences.

I love everything rose.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and see you back here Monday! xo

Photo via Mazama.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Tuesday, my mom took Coco and Theo for the day and J and I had a date day at Silverwood Theme Park. It was just what we needed to take our minds off of all of this miserable stress we're living through, even if it was only temporary.
We got soaked through on Thunder Rapids, screamed our heads off on Tremors and I literally thought I would die on the Panic Plunge. Oh, and then there was the insane dangling at high heights and utter discombobulation of Aftershock. 
On the way home, we stopped for BBQ in Coeur d'Alene at Porky G's. It could not have been better. The huckleberry barbeque sauce was amazing and the place itself was completely rad. Note the water feature to the left of J in the upper right photo. Also the ride on boar to the right. We will definitely be going back!

Do you like rollercoasters? When was the last time you went on a ride that made you close your eyes? (I closed my eyes a lot Tuesday;) xo

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sorting it All Out

It feels like the dust is beginning to settle for the first time since we left our happy, comfortable lives in Zurich. I really miss it. This photo is from one of the countless days Coco and I spent walking around our neighborhood the winter after she learned to walk. She toddled happily from planter to tree, lamp post to gate, locked up bicycle to shop window, focused intently on exploring and examining every detail. It was relaxing and quiet. Sometimes it was a little lonely or boring. But mostly I loved watching her take in the world at her own pace and discover things. I love this photo for the way the cool winter light is reflecting from the building across the street onto the soft blue of the shutters. It was quiet. It was calm. This photo captures that. It seems impossible to me that I won't find myself wandering that same neighborhood again some day. I'm not convinced we are finished with Zurich. I wonder if we might go back.

Of course, that is a big consideration and one that I don't take lightly. Last year was a complete throw away year, but now we are in a place with real potential. My mom and both of my sisters live here in Spokane, Washington. Having family around is huge. 

Still, I do miss Zurich.

I miss the social life we had there. We had tons of friends in Zurich and hosted or attended dinner parties every fortnight at least. 

I miss the work-life balance. People lived balanced lives, something I fear Americans have lost sight of all together. 

I miss our neighborhood, the parks, the lakeside, the trains and trams.

I miss my mommy group

I miss the affordable, world-class healthcare and feeling safe.

I also miss things that are a little less tangible, a little harder to separate by location. For example, I miss feeling organized, like our ducks were in a row. When Theo was born, our shipment from Zurich hadn't even arrived. That meant I had no changing table, no crib or bassinet, no breastfeeding pillows, no swaddle blankets, no clothes. Nothing. I had nothing. I ordered some emergency supplies to get us through until the shipment came, but knowing everything I needed was all in the shipment and how much the move had already cost us, I couldn't justify buying much. So we started out unprepared. When you start out with a baby unprepared, you never catch up. When you add other crazy, stressful demands to that, it's a living nightmare. Would Theo's arrival have blindsided us in the same way if we had stayed? Probably not, but I'll never know for sure.

I feel the need for some sort of closure. When we left our apartment the morning Coco and I flew to the States (ahead of Joel because I was so pregnant), I just ran out the door like any other time. Joel handled the handover of the apartment a week later, so it wasn't empty, it didn't really feel like we were leaving for good. I didn't pause, look back or say goodbye. I just went out as if I were popping down to the post office or grocery store and would be right back. The following night, after we had arrived at my friend Heidi's house in Minneapolis, Coco woke up at 4 am with jet lag, confused and disoriented. "Where's Daddy?" she asked me in the dark. "He's at home," I replied, and then choking on my words, "I mean, he's in Zurich" and my heart sank and it hit me and, being 34 weeks pregnant and brimming with hormones, I sobbed quietly. 

I need to go say goodbye to that apartment, to that life. I need to be in Zurich again and see if it erases any of the illusions I'm holding onto. If we are going to move forward, one way or another, I need to let all of that go. So I'm working on a plan to do just that. Have you been in a similar situation? What helped you to move on?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Have a restful weekend!

This week was not our finest. I broke my nose in a collision with Coco on a water slide! I will tell you all about that next week, but suffice it to say that I'm not going back to Splash Down for a very long time. I'll be icing and wearing movie star sunglasses until further notice. 

On a happier note, I've been compiling ideas for Coco's 4th Birthday party at the end of September. We cannot get over this to-die-for shimmery unicorn piñata from Oh Happy Day! I know how I'll be spending my weekends in September. ;)

And here are a few links for your weekend.

These would come in handy right now.

The unicorn piñata DIY!

Don't forget the humanities.

Oregon is definitely the yummiest.


This is why I went home so quickly after Theo was born.

How cute is this toaster?!

I am registered for Alt Winter. Pinch me!

Haha! Made me Swisssick.

It's smoky. Very smoky.

The perfect way to enjoy a peach.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Best Tips for Building IKEA Furniture

It's pretty hard to beat IKEA. It is very affordable. It fits well into small spaces and it's good-looking stuff. All around, the full package if you ask me. 
It is no joke when I say that I have probably built more IKEA furniture than most IKEA employees. Every single piece of furniture in the photo above is from IKEA!

I have learned, when it comes to IKEA, it is all about the assembly

Here are my go-to tips and tricks for getting the most our of your IKEA furniture.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Our Oregon Vacation Photos

Last week, we had the most magical vacation, thanks to Coco and Theo's grandparents in Oregon. They hosted us at their big farm house on 1 1/2 acres, smack in the middle of the gorgeous Willamette Valley. There was plenty of room for Coco and Theo to run and play and even a big red barn; they were in heaven! Quite by accident, we stumbled upon the formula for the perfect week of summer traditions in Oregon: One day in the mountains, one day at the coast, one day at Enchanted Forest, one day in wine country, one day in Portland and s'mores all together on the last night. I'm already excited for next year!

All of the details and more photos after the jump if you'd like to see. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Learning the Ukulele

I've wanted to learn the ukulele for a while now because I had heard that learning the ukulele is easy and fun and doesn't really take much time. I find it a huge stress reliever to have a hobby that uses my hands, but knitting never appeals to me in the heat of summer. Plus, I really miss having music in my life (I played clarinet in high school!), so the ukulele sounded perfect. I sort of forgot about it for a while. Then, when we took Coco to see her first movie, Inside Out, earlier this summer, Pixar released the sweetest short film, Lava, right before the movie. Lava is an animated story told through a really sweet ukulele song. I was sold. 
I came straight home and ordered a simple ukuleletuner and an instructional book! In all honesty, I would probably skip the book and just use You Tube if I were to do it again, but the tuner is an absolute must have! In the first few days, you have to tune your ukulele a lot as the strings stretch out and wear in a bit. Having a tuner means faster tuning and more fun playing.
It's amazing to pick it up, learn a few chords and be playing in no time. For me, the hardest thing is to keep the strumming pattern going through chord changes and I had to develop some callouses. Ouch! So far, I still can't play and sing at the same time, but I'm working on it! J is quite the natural and I love the soft strumming that tends to fill our evenings now. We pour some wine or open our favorite summer beer and chat as he strums and I make dinner while the kids play. It's pretty dreamy! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

J's Books

Yesterday, we finally got bookshelves built and in place and all of J's books unpacked. Don't they look nice? It is really starting to feel like home around here. It's funny, because when we got married and moved into our first apartment in Northwest Portland, (pictured below) I could not stand J's books. There were so many of them - and they took up so much space! 
When we moved to Zurich, J insisted on bringing what I considered way too many books along. And  of course while we were there, he increased his collection even more and we wound up moving all those books, as well as the ones that had been in storage in Portland, to Minnesota. J managed to fill all of the built-in bookshelves in our gigantic house with his books. It was incredible. Thank goodness he decided to pare down his collection before our move to Spokane because we no longer have built-ins for miles and we are back to living in a tiny house. 
Now, I'm happy to say that I truly love the sight of J's books. Without them, our home wouldn't feel complete. It's sort of hilarious that the very thing that I despised and found so bothersome in the beginning has now become one of my favorite things about living with J. What a nice surprise! 

I'm much more of a library lender, or passer along of books to friends; I don't feel the need to have a collection. I'm curious, do you have a library of your own? How many times have you moved it and where?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Enjoy your weekend!

We just got back from a super relaxing week-long vacation at J's parents' house in Oregon. I can't wait to share all of the photos with you next week. As a sneak peak, the photo above is from a killer hike we did in the Cascades. When I say killer, I mean, like, it almost killed me (see first link below). I had Theo in the Ergo and it was less than fun by the end. However, that feeling when you get back to the car, put on a pair of Birks, chug some water and get the A/C blasting is pretty great. Long live summer!

Next week will be a full one. I've got lots of fun content lined up. Until then, here are a few links for you.

Time to get back in shape once and for all.

Coco and Theo's weekend plans, courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa.

Swiss precision.

This is simply ludicrous, ladies.

So fortunate to have attended a workshop with this brilliant writer. Isn't her advice reassuring?

Have you secured your IKEA dressers?

Beautiful childhood photos.

No wonder I've been having such a rough time. We're hitting many of those at once. ;)

This made my day.

We live in a progressive city.

This National Park looks mind-blowing. (I'm embarrassed to have never been!)

What caught your eye this week? Till Monday! xo

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy World Breastfeeding Week

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! I don't think I've loved anything in my experiences as a mother more than breastfeeding. But it isn't always easy to get breastfeeding established and it can be painful at first! The beginning with Theo was particularly difficult. When he was just one week old, we wound up in the ER because he had spit up some blood and we had to be sure it was my blood and not something horrible like internal bleeding or stomach problems. 
Thankfully, it was my blood. But then I had to pump exclusively for a week while I healed and I learned a lot. Here are my favorite breastfeeding products if you'd like to know.

Lanolin is an ointment that is completely natural and safe, and that you don't have to remove before your baby nurses. It's a lifesaver for cracked or sore nipples. It's also good in a pinch for lip balm, diaper cream, Neosporin substitute, just about anything. Just make sure you've washed your hands before squeezing a pea size amount onto your finger and use a new finger if you need more.

The Avent Manual Pump saved me when Theo was two days old. My milk came in and I was so engorged I thought I would die. At 2 am, we drove to Walmart (the only place open, unfortunately) and came home, washed and boiled all the parts and were back in bed with 8 ounces of milk in the freezer by 3:30 am. It's fast, easy to clean and you control the speed and intensity. I've also heard good things about the Medela one.

My Brest Friend Pillow has got to be the worst product name ever. But, combined with a handy breastfeeding footstool, you'll be comfortable while nursing through meals, while typing emails or whatever else you multitask at while nursing. 

After Theo's ER visit, our pediatrician wrote me a prescription for a Medela Pump in Style double breast pump. Since Obamacare, insurance companies are required to provide an electric breast pump to any mother who wants it. Awesome! 

I got so sick of boiling all of the pump parts and bottles, so I got these handy microwave sanitizer bags. Just add a couple ounces of water, microwave a few minutes, drain and dry. So much faster and easier than boiling!

And if we have another baby, I'm getting these glass bottles. It seems that every few years, the plastic we thought was safe is not safe after all. :( Better to just go back to the classic.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and want advice or support, I would love to help. Please email me! lindsey (at) swisslark (dot) com.  Breastfeeding is such a beautiful way to bond with your baby and the benefits are truly magical. Don't give up without talking to me first! xo

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My long absence and the blog redesign

I'm sure you've noticed that Swiss Lark is taking a new direction and has a new look. This little blogging hobby of mine really does bring me so much joy and I am so happy to be back with you here in this space. You have no idea how much I missed it and you this last year.

I suppose a little explanation as to why I dropped off the face of the internet is warranted. Last fall, I was busier than I have ever been in my life when I found myself back at work with a one-month-old. We can talk more about that later, (all things considered, I had negotiated for and gotten the best possible all-around scenario for a working mom, even if it did happen way ahead of schedule) but it was overwhelmingly demanding and my life seemed to be falling apart all around me. We were dealing with big life events: international move, Theo's arrival, Coco's starting school. Coco's potty training regressed and our lives were complete chaos. I flat out flunked a post-partum depression survey at my six week check and was sent to speak with a therapist at the hospital. We talked for a bit and I explained how utterly maxed-out and overwhelmed I was. I couldn't keep my house clean; we weren't even close to being fully unpacked! Of course, I wasn't sleeping and I was literally exhausted. I told her how my heart ached for our life back in Zurich: our friends, our apartment, our neighborhood, all of our comfortable and familiar routines, the trams, the wonderful parks and green spaces for Coco right outside our front door. Most mornings, when I woke up, I was stunned to find that I was not there when I opened my eyes. 

The therapist was really sweet and caring, and she had all the right letters after her name, but she had no frame of reference for what I was going through. She had been born in Duluth, raised in Duluth and had never lived outside of Minnesota. She dismissed my grief over leaving Zurich with one simple sentence, "There may be a bit of loss and grieving there," and her active solution was that I stop blogging and reading blogs, "because it's not healthy to compare yourself to other people's seemingly perfect lives." I protested because I really love blogging and it's something that gives me a great deal of satisfaction and creative outlet. But, ultimately, because I didn't have one minute to devote to blogging anyway, I told myself it was for the best and let it drop. 

That therapist was the first of three therapist/counselor/life coach professionals I saw during our year in Duluth. And blogging was the first of many important things that I let drop. I can count on one hand the times that our house was truly clean and tidy during that year. I can count on one finger the number of times we entertained. We went on exactly three date nights during that year. We ate Papa Murphy's pizza on more nights than I could possibly count. Every knitting project that was in progress when Theo was born is on the exact same stitch now as it was then. The situation we gave up our life in Zurich for was not what we had been led to expect. We managed to weather the storm and survive by focusing on and loving each other as a family. Just about everything else, housekeeping, cooking, knitting, blogging, reading, fell by the wayside. J didn't ride his bike once all year and he could probably count the number of runs he got in on one hand. It was a living nightmare. I am so glad it's over.

When we got into this little house of ours and started decorating and got our office area all set up, I got the itch to start blogging again. I got so excited to return to this space and continue with the new theme of repatriating after life in Switzerland. I knew the blog needed to be fresh and new, but honestly, I don't really have the skills to make a beautiful blog template. Additionally, I don't have the spare cash to spend on a service like Wordpress or Squarespace. Then I remembered that a friend had tipped me off to Blogger templates on Etsy. I did a quick search and found this template by The Sunday Studio. I could not be happier!

Angela, the owner of The Sunday Studio, is friendly and fast and helpful and made all my dreams come true. With the current template, I don't have to resize every photo, they just resize automatically, and when I had trouble installing the links bar, she did it for me. If you go deep into the archives, you will come across blurry or slightly off-center photos here and there, but for the most part, everything is looking perfect and amazing. Thank you, Angela! 

A new chapter has begun on Swiss Lark. I think it is going to be a really wonderful one. I can't wait to share photos of our new house once it's all set up and life in Spokane is pretty darn lovely when it gets right down to it. Today, Joel and Coco are riding the Hiawatha Trail. And when my new bike arrives, Theo and I will get to join them on lots of bike rides and fun times, too. Thank you for sticking with me! So much love. xo

Monday, August 3, 2015

Theo's 1st Birthday Party

I cannot believe our sweet Theo bear is already one year old. It's true what they say: The days are long, but the years are short! The last year is pretty much a complete blur. From what I understand, that is pretty standard for the second child!
Saturday night we had a very sweet celebration for Theo at the splash pad in Manito Park. My mom organized. She got a delicious lemon cake as well as pizza for everyone. The rest of us brought along various drinks and appetizers and I happily took care of the decorations. The cake topper is from French Toast and the rest came from good ol' Target

Because we are no longer in Switzerland, I was a little worried about drinking beer and wine at the park. We had solo cups, but I actually brought along brown paper lunch bags in case anyone wanted to cover their beer. I nearly got laughed out of the party! ;)

Coco and her second-cousin, Thayne, had a great time running around in the water, playing with the helium balloons and throwing the frisbee Joel had brought along. They were also kind enough to open Theo's presents for him. ;) He got new stacking cups, a few things I had gotten while still pregnant in Zurich, and his favorite, an abacus. (More on that seemingly inappropriate choice later;) Then it was time to sing and eat cake!
Theo was spellbound by everyone singing happy birthday to him and Coco was kind enough to blow out his candle. Then it was time to dig in! 
Theo took eating his cake very seriously as you can see. He polished off a whole slice and then had a little more! Well, it was his birthday party after all. 
For the remainder of the party, Theo was absolutely mesmerized by his abacus. My mom is also a Montessori teacher, so she did not get Theo the abacus for math, but because she knew he would love using his little finger to move the beads up and over the arches. She was right! I have to say, now that we have it at home, it is so lovely and inspiring to watch him work with it. Plus, his little fingers could not be any cuter!

We feel so lucky to have that little dumpling of joy in our family. He is sweet, thoughtful, so so so soft, cuddly, curious, unbelievably strong and delightful in every way. Happy birthday, Theo! We love you so much. 

Photos by Amy Sinisterra
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