Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween Weekend!

Theo and I are back from Zurich after a harrowing journey that included an unexpected overnight in Denver! I can't wait to tell you all about our incredible trip next week. In the meantime, if you haven't already, be sure to check out all the posts on Instagram. It was an Instatrip, for sure!

What are you doing for Halloween? We are having a very early dinner party with cousins and then trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Honestly, it looks like something out of a movie around here with all of the fallen leaves and jack-o-lanterns everywhere. Last year, Coco wanted to be a farmer and Theo was a cow. This year, she is going to be Elsa and he is going to be Olaf. I can't wait to see them all dressed up.

And here are some links I've been collecting for you!

Run, mama, run!

Have you ever used a travel pillow? Are they worth lugging around?!

Well, this is tragic.

Thought provoking.

What is an ideal childhood to you?

Rose petals in the rain.

No recipe soup.

A Sci-Fi housing and space solution for San Francisco?

Quick and low mess Pad Thai!

Now that Theo's walking, we are busting out this sweet toy. SO much better than the noisy popper version. ;)

Have a wonderful Halloween and see you back here Monday! xo

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our House Tour


Before I left for Zurich, we had been decorating and organizing like crazy. For me and J, our house is always an evolving work in progress, but now that we are at a point where it's feeling more "finished," I am so excited to share our house photos with you.

What's even more exciting is that I get to point you on over to Design Mom for the full reveal. I have been a huge fan of Gabrielle Blair's for several years now. I discovered Design Mom when we were living in Switzerland and the Blairs were living in France. Gabrielle's writing on her blog is so open and heartfelt. This honest post on depression echoed in my ears last summer when I was having a hard time. And their Olive Us videos are just too sweet for words. If you're not a reader already, I highly recommend it. Plus, it's now a book!

So, without further ado, and if you haven't seen it already, please head on over to Design Mom to see our sweet little nest and read all about our transition into the living-small reality that makes our little family of four so happy. Thank you for reading, and thank you, Gabrielle, for the feature! I am beyond excited. xo

Friday, October 16, 2015

Goodbye, Kieselgasse


Yesterday, Theo and I landed in Zurich. I didn't waste any time in finally going to say goodbye to our old apartment in Kieselgasse. When Coco and I left Kieselgasse, on June 23, 2014, the very last day of my pregnancy my doctor would allow me to fly, I went out the door and down to the tram just like I had for every other trip we'd taken to the US from that apartment. I didn't pause, I didn't say goodbye. And because J was still working and didn't go with us, it didn't feel any different. Of course, it was different, very different! We never went back. Yesterday, I finally did.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Embracing Uncertainty

I was chatting with Coco's godmother on the phone the other day and I explained to her that I knew, already, before boarding the plane, that I'm not going to return from Zurich with any sort of clarity or closure. Life just doesn't work that way. "Of course not!" was her emphatic reply, "Don't put that kind of pressure on your trip and on yourself. You'll just ruin it," which is exactly true. And I'm not just ruining the trip with that kind of unrealistic expectation for clarity, I'm ruining my life. How can I enjoy the trip to Zurich if I place that kind of expectation on it? And how can I enjoy this chapter in Spokane if I'm focused too much on where we're going, especially if I don't even know where we're going?! We cannot know where we are going. We can set our mark and work toward it, but life is fluid and ever-changing and, honestly, I kind of hate that.

Then, I saw this article in the New York Times about forgiving mistakes and embracing uncertainty. This really stuck out for me:

"As is often the case, it is very easy to look backward and make up stories about why certain things happened and then take either the blame or the credit for them. The reality of life is often a bit more nuanced. As I carefully reflect on the good and the bad experiences, I have come to the conclusion that, in both cases, I was simply doing the best I could with the knowledge and experience I had at the time."

Can we ever do anything more than our best with the knowledge and experience we have at the time? No, we cannot. So instead of answering all of life's burning questions and correcting the poor decisions of the past, I'm just going to go to Zurich, get some really great knowledge to catapult my freelance career to the next level, enjoy being with friends, introduce Theo to everyone who knew him only as a bump, soak up everything I love about that city, and leave not knowing what's going to happen or where we'll be in two years or five years. I think I can do this. 5:45 am flight tomorrow. Wish me luck. xo

Zurich photo via Pinterest

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Five Tips for Cute Bento-Inspired Lunches

As crazy as it may sound, I actually really enjoy making Coco's lunch. Sometimes it's a bit rushed and that takes the fun out of it, but most days, I love putting together her cute, healthy ensembles. I'm all about using Bento boxes, accessories and picks to make lunches cute and appealing. It's working! Most days, she finishes every last bite. 

My top five tips for packing cute bento-inspired lunches after the jump. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Montessori Monday: Just scrub it!

Coco is a newly-minted four-year-old. As such, she does many four-year-old things, like ballet class, and dressing herself, and refusing to wear a barrette. On some of these occasions, she becomes grumpy and oppositional. What I've learned, in my few short weeks of being mama to a four-year-old girl, is that the battles are plenty and choosing them is key.

To that end, Coco can wear whatever she wants - if she dresses herself. :) (More on this in a later post!) She can also have an afternoon at home without a barrette. Yes, it drives me nuts to see her with her hair hanging in her face, but it's not worth the battle. One afternoon last week, without thinking, I approached Coco and tried, unsuccessfully, to get those bangs pinched nicely back from her face, and into a barrette. She pulled back, she protested, she got angry, and I could tell it was only going to get worse. I tried distracting her with a drink of water, or playing with some toys.

None of it was working.

So I grabbed a scrubby brush, squirted some soap on it and announced, "Well, I am going to scrub the pirate ship!" and without another word, quickly went out the back door.

She followed me!

Montessori children do lots and lots of scrubbing. There is a whole sequence involving a table that progresses (of course!) from simple to complex. It begins with Dusting a Table, goes on to Washing a Table and finally, Waxing a Table. The aim is not so much to clean the tables of the classroom (although they do get clean) as it is to engage the child in a series of actions that follow a sequence. 

Following a sequence requires concentration, thinking of what comes next and preparation. It leads to problem solving and dynamic thinking. All of these things lead to a phenomenon Montessori called "Normalization." It sounds horrible, like something out of a psychological reprogramming lab, but really, it's the idea that the normal qualities of a child emerge through "purposeful work done with the hand, and accompanied by concentration" and abnormal behavior and qualities, like tantrums and being contrary, slip away.

A few scrubs into my pirate ship cleaning and Coco announced that she wanted to do it. I got a bucket of warm water, another squirt of (ridiculously good-smelling and environmentally-friendly dish soap) and she was busy for the next TWENTY minutes. When she was finished, she was right back to her happy self. When all else fails, just scrub it! I did a super fun Hyperlapse (6x faster than normal) video of the action. Take a peek!

What are your go-to ways to steer your child around a tantrum? I would love more tricks up my sleeve because, as we all know, the toddler/preschool years are tough!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Have the best weekend


I am so bummed today because we had to cancel our weekend plans to go to Seattle and visit our old neighbors from Zurich who just moved back. It turns out this is the one weekend this month that J has class all day Saturday. Boo. But, so far we've made the most of it. I took the kids to the Y and they played in the Childwatch while I worked out. Then we got everything to make the most ridiculous meatballs that I discovered from a Facebook video of all places. I am throwing them in the Le Creuset in a few minutes here and can't wait to see how they turn out. Three cheers for crisp(er) fall weather, savory slow-cooker meals and the amazing leaves around town. If there is one thing I can say without a doubt, it's that Spokane has the best weather ever. Sunny spring, hot hot summer, golden-warm colorful fall and freezing snowy winters. I do love that.

Here is a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week:

Tonight's meatballs. (Just ignore the cheesy music!)

Well said.

Have you ever had a Word document just disappear?! This completely saved me this week.

Grown-up play kitchens.

LOL.

As much as I love co-sleeping, I believe this.

Gorgeous pizza dough.

So sweet.

My new favorite laundry detergent.

And I'm so honored to be guest-posting on Kimmy and Bear covering Montessori topics for the next five weeks. You can see the first post in the series here.

Have a wonderful weekend! See you back here Monday. xoxo

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Zurich Plans

Our trip to Zurich is just 9 days away. I honestly thought I would be more excited than I am about going, but I feel conflicted. I can't help but run down the list of possible outcomes in my mind. The idea, after all, is to go to Zurich and come back with a sense of closure. Then, I can leave all that behind me, fix my gaze straight ahead and move forward in establishing a full, rooted, permanent life in Spokane. Perhaps it will help that we'll be in Zurich when the weather is cold and grey and nasty?

Deep down, I know that doesn't matter.  The fact that we were always out and about regardless of the weather is one of the things I miss most about Zurich. Just this past weekend, someone was telling me to make sure and walk to the parks here in Spokane while we can because soon it will be too cold. But all it made me think was that I need to remember to pack baby scarves and get Theo a pair of rain pants so we can take advantage of the parks in Zurich while we're there. In the same conversation, this person asked if I have been making friends or finding mama groups to join. I have not. Until we know, absolutely 100% sure, that this is where we are going to stay long term and raise our children and put down permanent roots, I'm not doing any of that. When we left Zurich, we didn't fully appreciate that we had put down roots there. It was so painful to leave our home, our apartment, our lifestyle and those meaningful friendships. I simply cannot go through that again. Beyond this darling house of ours here in Spokane, (which I absolutely love, but that we will grow out of in two years anyway,) I am not interested in establishing any attachments just yet.

That's why this trip is so important. I'm not convinced we are done with Switzerland. But I can't be sure it's right to go back until I've been there as the person I am now. We have grown and changed so much since we left. Nothing is the same. So I suppose it's only natural to feel a bit of trepidation at going. But, we are moving onward. This is the first step.

Photo via Style Me Pretty

Monday, October 5, 2015

Montessori Monday: Screen Time

Screen time is a slippery slope in our house. Is it in yours, too? A few weeks ago, I had begun to see a lot of behavior in Coco that I didn't like. She was impatient and more prone to frustration and irritability. Then, I happened to read an article in Psychology Today that made me think.

The author starts out by addressing the alarming prevalence of moody and aggressive or depressed and disengaged children and teens. This often leads to a diagnosis of ADHD or similar, but the problem is that medication and the usual treatments don't produce results. What is often being overlooked is simply screen time. In order to determine if that's the cause, it's necessary to do an "electronics fast" to "reset" the brain. Incredible, right?

We decided to do an electronics fast with Coco and she didn't watch television or movies, play with the iPad or iPhone or do anything electronic for two full weeks. The results? Just as the article promised:

"If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns."

You can read the entire article here. It is a fascinating and inspiring read.

Now we are in the process of deciding when and how much screen time Coco can have while still maintaining her sweet, curious, creative, inquisitive, playful, joyful nature. So far it seems like no screen time Monday through Friday is going to be best in our house. And on the weekends, not more than one or two hours. One or two hours of screen time per week is not much. But, after the fast, and now that Coco's brain is reset, we find it easy to enforce.

Have you ever done an electronics fast for your child - or for yourself? I want to hear all about it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Have a safe weekend

It's shameful to think that another school shooting is on the books here in the USA. This is definitely not helpful in our attempts to repatriate. I feel like running back to Switzerland at the earliest opportunity. Hug your loved ones a little closer and a little longer this weekend.

On a lighter note, here's what caught my eye this week:

Made me laugh out loud. (A few times!)

Such a quiet, peaceful moment.

Montessori in a nutshell.

NYC is a close second.

Perfect fall comfort food.

My sister made this cake for my birthday and it was so good.

The power of a bedtime story.

Because we all need advice from a chic French girl.

Beautifully arresting.

Read until the very end.

And, J and I were quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about repatriation. Check it out!

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

Photo via Con Poulos

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