Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Pack Light when Traveling with a Baby

Last spring, Theo and I made a five day trip to San Francisco. It was a really intense trip for a college friend's memorial service and to meet a childhood friend's newborn baby. We were all over the Bay Area, from the hot sun to fog, plus I had to bring my laptop so I could work every morning. It's never been my forte, but I totally nailed packing light! All the essentials - and what to leave at home - after the break.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Montessori Monday: Independent Food Prep

A few weeks ago, J and I were so tired, Theo was still sleeping and Coco got up and made herself a toaster waffle and fed herself breakfast - all while we slept! All went well, except that she used about half a bottle of maple syrup. So, a few days later, when she was asking for toast at the breakfast table, I started to get up to go make it and then realized, wait a minute! She can do this herself.
We put a little IKEA stool in front of the toaster. Coco knows there can't be anything on top of the toaster or touching the toaster. She gets the bread from the refrigerator and a paper towel to pinch it with when it pops up. And there's that Trader Joe's boxed wine. Don't knock it till you try it!
I fill a small bowl with butter and give her a plate and knife as well. When it comes to children's flatware, finding well-weighted pieces that are heavy enough, yet balance on a child's hand, is tricky. Coco received this WMF set from some friends in Zurich for her second birthday and it's amazing. Another set we like is this one.
Coco used her knife to spread the butter on her toast all by herself. She also took a few breaks to just eat the butter off of the knife!
When she was all finished, she was so proud. Not only did she do most of it herself, aside from my getting the butter, but it kept her really busy and quiet so J and I could actually have a conversation over the breakfast table. Win, win!

How do you help your children achieve independence in food prep? Or do you? I constantly have to remind myself that she's capable of so much more than we realize!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Have a delicious weekend!

What are your weekend plans? I've been running all over town like a madwoman this morning prepping: It's our birthday weekend around here. Coco's birthday is Tuesday and mine is Sunday. We are having a Frozen themed party (her choice!) on our patio for Coco on Saturday afternoon and a BBQ party for the both of us with my family at my mom's house on Sunday. It's a true Indian summer here and we are enjoying our time outside. Sunday, we may even bust out the chiminea if it goes late enough that it starts cooling off!

Here are a few links for you:

Amazing satellite images of humans' impact on the earth.

Pasta shapes do matter!

Brain-twisting images.

Coco's Halloween costume. (And Theo's!)

Renting in another ten years.

Another reason you wish you were Norwegian.

Do you eat your veggies?

Outside the frame.

Empowering mothers.

Perfect fall booties.

I hope your weekend is amazing. See you back here Monday! xo

Photo via veryeatalian

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tying Up Loose Ends

Has your life ever been a complete and total wreck? Before last year, I thought I knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed, or maxed out. But as it turns out, I did not! Up until then, I had been busy, I had been stretched a bit thin, I had bitten off a bit more than I could chew, but I had never been overwhelmed or maxed out. People throw around those terms casually. I used to do it myself! Looking back, I realize that I had never known my own limits until last year happened. I was going along, juggling everything life threw at me with relative ease. I was feeling pretty good, adding balls bit by bit and then, suddenly there was one, or two, or five balls too many and I could not do it. I literally could not keep all the balls in the air. They started falling, to the ground, bouncing around, rolling out of my reach, and that was it. I was overwhelmed. I was maxed out. And it was all I could do to just keep the really critical, important "balls" in the air. Have you ever experienced that? I'm still gathering all the balls that got away.

This morning, I woke up early enough to call Switzerland and took care of some loose ends that had been bothering me and keeping me awake at night since we left. It feels so good. 

Next, I have decided to start planning and searching for a really cute fall/winter capsule wardrobe. Have you ever made a capsule wardrobe? This fall, I want to wear lots of red and warm, cozy textures. I am in love with the tights and scarf in this photo. I also want to start wearing more boots and skinny jeans and some day I'll acquire a classic trench

We also got our Y membership all set up last week! It's the best thing ever to drop the kids at the Childwatch, work out while listening to a podcast or music and then take a long, hot shower all by myself before picking them up again and heading home. 

All of these steps are more progress in the right direction. Goodbye, loose ends! Hello, organized and happy fall. I know spring is the time of year we are supposed to feel inspired and get our ducks in a row, but fall always does it for me. Perpetual teacher, I guess, or maybe it's because I was born in the fall? Whatever the reason, I'm so happy to be feeling inspired and come out of the fog.

Photo via Manger

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zurich Bound

Theo and I are going to Zurich next month. I cannot imagine what it's going to feel like to land at that familiar airport I've landed at so many times before. Will it still feel like home? Will it not? What will it feel like when I get on the little underground train at the airport and we begin zooming along toward customs and baggage claim and the flip book style movie of the Alphorn players and Heidi pops up on the walls of the tunnel, and the sound of the yodelers and cowbells fills my ears? Will I cry? Probably.

When Coco and I left Zurich to move to Minnesota, it was all so rushed. We really did leave without saying goodbye and it's been killing me ever since.

Somehow, we managed to get through last year, and then we made the move to Spokane, and slowly, the dust has been settling. Not too long ago, toward the end of the summer, I saw a friend post about the Zurich Writers Workshop on Facebook and I really wanted to go.

Of course, it's a terrible time to go! J and I are both still unemployed and looking for work, and despite the airline miles we had from our time in Zurich, I was worried that traveling would affect my unemployment. So I gave the Unemployment Office in Minnesota a call, and it turns out that traveling to attend a workshop and network with editors and publishers is completely allowed and won't affect my unemployment at all. Well, there you go. Nothing is holding me back.

Theo and I are going to Zurich. We're really going. I'll be attending the Zurich Writers Workshop and networking during our stay. I'll get to see my beloved friends, Theo is going to meet his baby friends whose mothers and I shared our pregnancies. I'm going to visit our old neighborhood, stroll through its streets as I once did with Coco, shop at our old grocery store, mail J and Coco a postcard or two from our old post office, walk by the lake, breathe it all in, arrange to visit our old apartment and give it a big hug. I'm going to do all this in the hopes of saying goodbye, of letting it go, of moving on.

One way or another, if we are to move forward in this life, I must do this. I hope that being there, I will realize that I am back where I belong being in Spokane. I hope that I will remember all of the reasons I believed Zurich was never a long-term possibility in the first place. Because I sure can't now. Is our life there all gone? Is it still there? Is there any hope of touching it or claiming it once again? There is only one way to know. Away we go.

Zurich Airport photo via Airviation. Tiefenbrunnen photo via Martin Strobach.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Montessori Monday: Getting Dirty

Do you let your kids get dirty? Do they spend time outside collecting nuts and leaves and chasing squirrels? This past week, the Oxford Junior Dictionary opted to remove dozens of nature words like 'acorn' and 'minnow' from their latest edition and add tech words like 'broadband' and 'chatroom' in their place. This is worrisome. 

Montessori honestly didn't say much about children being outside and getting dirty or being in nature. On the one hand, she didn't have to, and on the other hand, it was completely irrelevant. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Have a magical fall weekend

What's happening where you are this weekend? Around here, I'm meeting an old friend from grade school for lunch on Saturday (thanks, Facebook!) and we are taking Coco to see a children's opera of Hansel & Gretel on Sunday. She's obsessed! 

And here are some links for you to peruse: 

Adorable for those little sniffles and coughs.

Libraries with ukuleles?

I like this.

Air cleaning house plants.

Man buns. HA!

IKEA designers on Instagram.

Completely odorless and tasteless! Life changing.

I hope your weekend is wonderful! See you back here Monday. xo

Photo of forest floor via Agua Marina

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mom's One Line A Day Memory Journal

During our trip to Missoula last weekend, my sister and I had the best time. Ira Glass was very engaging, and I slept two full nights for the first time in nearly four years! Saturday, we skipped the hike and walked all over town and browsed so many cute shops. Because J's and my adventures in unemployment continue, I've been avoiding shopping all together lately. But then something surprising happened: I didn't really want to buy much of anything anyway! Ever since I adopted the Konmari Method and went (and continue to go) through so much work to get rid of the tons of stuff I don't need, I am very careful about what I bring into my life in the first place! I don't buy anything unless it sparks total joy and is exactly what I want. It is awesome.

One thing that made the cut is this Mom's One Line A Day memory journal. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Best Burgers Ever

Fall is here. Knowing it would make its entrance one night as we slept, we did our best to enjoy every last summer evening on our patio. The very last one, we had artichokes and my friend Stephanie's famous burgers. The full step by step after the jump.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Baby Measurements

When Theo was born, I realized (suddenly) that I think in kilograms and centimeters. The nurse weighed him, once she had managed to pry him from my arms, and exclaimed, "9 pounds, 9 and a half ounces!" to the cries of delight and surprise from the doctors and other nurses. Meanwhile, I smiled a half-smile and asked, "What's that in grams?!" and then, upon hearing the whopping number 4,350, burst into shocked laughter like the rest of the room.

This does not apply to adults, mind you, just babies and children. When we took Coco to Enchanted Forest, she was not allowed to ride the log ride because she isn't yet 40 inches tall. To me, 40 inches sounds really tall for a 3-year-old, so I was thinking she's doing all right at 37. But then, I converted it to centimeters and nearly fell over. Coco is only 94 centimeters?! Most 18-month-olds are taller than that. Oh dear. 

So I continue to shop at H&M where the sizes are listed in centimeters, and I continue to convert Theo's height and weight each time I take him to the doctor. That little chunker at 12 months weighed more than Coco at 26 months. He was so happy to get off that scale! I will never understand Celsius and I had to convert my own weight into pounds at every prenatal check, but for babies and children, I seem stuck on metric. Just another repat problem! ;)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Insel Ufenau

Fall is an excellent time to visit Insel Ufenau in Lake Zurich. Boats depart regularly from B├╝rkliplatz and it takes a few hours to get to the island. Once you're there, a short walk will take you to the old Roman church and the restaurant. It's never a bad idea to call ahead and check the restaurant is open. However, there is always a sign visible from the boat telling you if it's open or closed before you alight.
While I was pregnant with Coco, we did a lovely trip to Ufenau and had food from the restaurant. It was so relaxing.
Then, when Coco was a toddler, we took her there. Instead of eating from the restaurant, we brought a picnic and got a full bottle of the wine made from grapes grown on the island! ;)
Coco loved running around and seeing the animals. Best of all were these lunching rabbits. Then we took a little tour of the island and made our way back to the dock where the boat pulled up perfectly on schedule to take us back to Zurich. It is a full-day trip from Zurich, but a very relaxing and enjoyable one, particularly if you enjoy sitting on (or following a toddler around) a boat.

Have you been to Insel Ufenau? What did you think?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Have a lovely weekend

What are you getting up to this weekend? I am going away for two nights with my sister to see Ira Glass in Missoula - with no kids! I'm super nervous about being away from Theo because I've never left him overnight before, but I'm looking forward to a girls' weekend. We are going on a hike on Saturday before Ira and out for breakfast on Sunday. Can't wait! If you have any tips on traveling (and pumping!) away from baby, I'm all ears.

And here are some fun links for your weekend:

A 9/11 rainbow.

Making these for Coco's lunch next week.

Celebrities with no makeup.

Tiny bathroom help.

This guy on the ukulele is just insane.

Have you tried overnight oats?

Cities by starlight.

We got held up taking Coco to school last week!

36 hours in Portland.

This cracked me up!

One double tour, please. I'm swooning!

10 podcasts to change your life.

Can you believe it's been 14 years since September 11? It feels like yesterday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! See you back here Monday. xo

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Italy Travels: The Blue Grotto

Over the next few weeks, I'm planning to share with you our soul-crushingly beautiful and perfect Italian road trip from the Easter Holidays in 2014. Coco was older, and hooked on Peppa Pig and the iPad, so unlike our first road trip experience with her, it was completely wonderful. First up, The Blue Grotto. 

You know those experiences you've heard so much about that you're sure it will never live up to the expectations? The Blue Grotto is one of those - and it surpassed the expectations! More photos and details after the jump.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Things I didn't like and now miss from Switzerland

Go figure! The very things that used to annoy me in Switzerland are some of the things I miss the most.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Follow me on Bloglovin'

Do you use Bloglovin' to read blogs? I just got Swiss Lark all up to date on the Bloglovin' site and you can find me here. Bloglovin' has a really beautiful interface that allows you to browse all of your daily blogs in one place. They also have an explore option to help you find blogs suited to your tastes as well as a streamlined app. I highly recommend it!

Feminist stock photo via Cup of Jo

Friday, September 4, 2015

Have a grateful weekend

How was your week? Coco had her first week of school and we are all happy to be back on a routine. Coco especially. That girl just loves school. What are your weekend plans? Some of my favorite cousins are in town this weekend for my cousin's 50th birthday party Saturday night. It's going to be so much fun! There is definitely a cool snap in the air these days. Fall is upon us. Hooray! I cannot wait to make this incredible Green Goddess Roasted Chicken. Doesn't it look so good? I'm drooling over that photo. :)

And here are a few links for your weekend:

"But I was wrong, and oh how I loved being wrong."

Signing up for this class ASAP.

What starts labor.

To the moon.

Radical apartment makeover.

Dreaming of this vacation. Have you been?

I'm swooning over this space.

Ways to ask your child about their day.

Excited to read this book.

Finally, on a very serious note, I am so upset over the Syrian Refugee crisis.

Two ways to help: JRS and CRS. These two charities do an excellent job of getting the resources and help to the people who need it - quickly.

I'm curious if those of you with children have felt compelled, or needed to talk to them about this? What have you said? How did you say it? I want to talk to Coco about it to help her gain awareness of the fragility of life and to develop empathy and compassion for others. I do not want to shield or shelter her from these omnipresent things in the media that might just confuse her otherwise. I would love to hear how you're handling it.

One thing is for sure: It's easy to take the only things that really matter for granted. I am so grateful that J, Coco, Theo and I are all safe, healthy and alive today.

Have a fantastic long weekend and see you back here Tuesday. xo

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Setting up House: Office

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
We are slowly but surely getting our house all set up. It is a real treat to decorate such a cozy, well-proportioned space. Bizarre as it may be, all of our furniture has wound up fitting so perfectly, sometimes within a centimeter! Our space last year in Duluth was absolutely huge and I learned that I hate living in a large space. When we got this tiny house, I never thought everything would fit, but I honestly didn't care. The moment, I walked through the door, I was completely in love and ready to sign on the dotted line.  I can't wait for everything to be finished and share photos with you. 

The most fun part of this process has been repurposing furniture in an effort to avoid buying anything new. We are pretty much flat broke and canceling or reducing every payment possible. (Just a little aside: unemployment is not fun and it has taken living that reality to fully realize what it means. So if you're going through it, you are not alone!)

We had originally bought the IKEA shelves pictured above for our bathroom last year. By the time things started heading south, they did so in a flash, so we kept them in their packages and moved them with us. Now I envision them over our desk, like pictured below.
We have the same desk and legs pictured, but we got knock-off Eames chairs to go with them. With the addition of an IKEA RENS sheepskin, they're actually quite cozy and comfortable. I have an angular white lamp with a cork shade from last year, but we desperately need a calendar. In Zurich, we would get an ugly, free, vertical-format calendar from the Apotheke every year. We simply cannot function without a calendar on the kitchen wall to give that visual of available vs. unavailable. In addition to a beautiful calendar, we are going to give this app a try, but I'm skeptical. First of all, it's unattractive and I just don't see myself wanting to open it and look at it. Secondly, it's all too easy to ignore it, or get distracted by other texts, notifications, or just Candy Crush when it's on my phone. ;) But, it's pretty highly rated with lots of accolades, so I suppose we ought to try it. Do you use it? How is it?

Finally, I really want to have some succulents or other easy-to-care for plants to add some life and green. You can take the girl out of Oregon... I love these little kitty planters, but they're pricey, so I'm going to hit Goodwill and try to approximate. Wish me luck!

Do you have a home office? How do you keep it inspirational, fresh and uncluttered?

PS - Our mini office in Zurich.

Scandinavian office photo from Avotakka

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Broken Nose Story

I'm very happy to report that my nose is all straightened out and my black eye is almost all cleared up. Would you like to hear what happened? 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our New Favorite Wine Glasses

Do you use nice stemware? We do not. Over the course of our marriage, J and I have broken dozens of IKEA wine glasses. We have never bothered buying the real thing because we know we'd break those too. HA! So on our trip to Oregon wine country during our vacation last month, I didn't hesitate to pick up a couple of these awesome wine glasses at the Anne Amie Vineyards. They are flexible and shatterproof, yet still sparkle and look like real glass. They don't alter the taste of the wine and they're BPA-free. Sold! I'm a devoted coupe girl myself, but they also have champagne flutes. Long live summer. I can't get enough of these dreamy evenings on our patio. 
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