Monday, February 29, 2016

Choosing a baby name

How did you choose your baby's name? While I was pregnant with Coco, we didn't find out the gender of the baby, so we had to choose two names. Before we had even conceived, we loved the name Theodore because J and I had both had a student named Theo. He was in my class first and then graduated to J's class when we were teaching in Portland. He was a simply delightful child, lovable in every way. My dad died when I was five years old, so using his name as the middle name was a given. Voila. Theo's name was chosen before we had even started trying to become parents. Ha!
I was about two months pregnant and so queasy when we settled on Coco's name. It was an evening in February and J and I were watching TV after dinner. I was sipping on mango juice to try to curb my nausea. One great thing about our TV service in Switzerland was that we got a huge number of British channels and could watch all the murder mysteries we desired! Have you ever watched Poirot? He's a very funny Agatha Christie mystery character. J and I have seen every single episode of Poirot ever produced, but at that time there were still loads of episodes that we hadn't seen yet. 
So there we were, watching Poirot and the story was The Affair at the Victory Ball. Everyone is going to a costume ball, where guests are supposed to dress as someone famous, so Poirot goes as himself! Only Poirot... Anyway, one guest at the party who was part of a six member Harlequin group costume gets stabbed to death at the ball. Then, the following day, another member of the Harlequin costume group dies of a drug overdose. Well, of course, Poirot uses his little grey cells and pieces together what happened and how the deaths were connected and solves the mystery. 
I don't remember much (it's funny how Agatha Christie mysteries are so completely forgettable) but I do remember that the  woman who died of the drug overdose was named Corrine Courtney -- and she went by Coco! J and I had been throwing around the name Courtney for a girl for a while at that point. He knew a girl in college named Courtney who had a Swiss boyfriend and a Freitag bag and he thought she was super cool and always associated the name Courtney with Switzerland. 
I like the name Courtney because I have never met a Courtney I didn't like. I love that it's a really solid, down to earth, yet happy name. Even still, I was on the fence because I really wanted to name a girl Maxine. Catherine Keener's character in Being John Malkovich is my absolute forever style icon, but J wasn't convinced, mainly because of the nickname "Max" or kids making fun of her and calling her Maxi pad. So silly. But, he did have a point, so my counter argument was that "Court" isn't a very nice nickname either. 
So when Coco Courtney was there on the screen with her CC monogrammed pill box on the bedside table, dead in her bed, I grabbed J's arm and practically screamed, "We can call her Coco!" and the name Courtney was settled. And now this is the point in the story when we all collectively ask ourselves who the hell names their daughter after a woman who's just overdosed?! Well, we've gotta grab inspiration where we find it, right? Besides, just read the book or watch the show and you'll see she wasn't really to blame...
Fast forward 7 months and I'm in labor. J is all excited and proud as he fills out the paperwork after we arrive at the hospital. We still don't know if it's a boy or girl. He chooses this moment (look at my face) to ask me if maybe we should do a different middle name if it's a girl. Do I look like I give a damn? No, no I do not, but he's asking, so I suggest my grandma who died just a few months after our wedding. 
J is delighted with this idea because she once complimented him on the headdress he was wearing at Thanksgiving; when in reality, it was just his hair. J was already proud of his ridiculously amazing hair at that point, but that remark from my grandma really put him over the top. During my labor, I am convinced we are having a boy, so I don't think much of it. 
That night at 10:21 pm little Courtney Julia was born, and you better believe that that paperwork was in the hands of an efficient Swiss clerk by 8 am Friday morning. They're not just efficient, they will actually fine you 2500 CHF for holding up the birth certificate and registration of your child if you don't have a name selected within 72 hours of the birth! So when I found myself unable to shake the feeling that she looked more like a Margaret the first day, I had to just shrug it off. Doesn't she kind of look like a Margaret?
The first few weeks of her life, I was insanely proud of my baby girl and everywhere we went with her in the Bugaboo, people would lean to peek in and ask her name. They would smile at me expectantly, and then when I replied, "Courtney," their smiles would vanish from their faces, which would then contort into an expression of repulsion and confusion. They'd often just shake their heads and walk away. After experiencing this a few times, I realized that perhaps the name Courtney really doesn't work in Switzerland. I mean, how would you feel feel upon seeing a beautiful baby girl, asking her name, and then being told, "Hildegard." Not good, right? My apologies to any Hildegards reading this, but that name is just not pretty in English, much the same way Courtney is not pretty in German. Plus, the Swiss can't even say Courtney! When our Swiss neighbor would see her, it sounded like she was saying, "Hi, Curny!" like Kurt, but without the t, and a knee at the end. Eeeeew!
So, we used Coco exclusively from the time she was about two weeks old. It never failed to turn that expectant smile into a bubbling over expression of outright mirth. "Like Coco Chanel!" they would squeal. Yes. Just like Coco Chanel. Much better!
When we moved back to the US, we wondered if we might start calling her Courtney more. But, it turns out she doesn't even respond to Courtney. She is Coco. When she's in trouble, she's still Coco. When she introduces herself, she's always Coco. I've even stopped filling out forms with Courtney "Coco" because it just lends itself to confusion.
When I got pregnant with Theo, we knew that that would be his name. But before we knew he was a boy, we tossed around a few girl names: Maxine Lindsey and Marlowe Lindsey were the two top contenders. Then, we found out it was a boy and he was born and we named him Theo and it's been all good ever since. 
I often wonder if we should have put more thought into Coco's name, or if we should have named her Coco legally. I guess I really regret not giving her my name as her middle name. But any time I find myself doing that, I just shrug it off! In the end, your baby embodies whichever name you choose and it takes on a whole new meaning of its own. Don't you agree? 

How did you choose (or are you choosing) your baby's name? Spreadsheets and rankings? Reading through book names? Or just choosing one without much thought?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Have a breezy weekend.

We are going to have some legitimate spring weather this weekend. Naturally, that includes warmth, sun, and of course, rain. HA! ;) I'm planning to clock some serious hours at the park and maybe even make a picnic happen before the rain starts. Are you with me that spring has got to be the most glorious thing about being alive? After a long, cold winter it's pure bliss! Yes. Bring it on.

So, here's a bit of what caught my eye this week: 

To keep the little hands away. (We need this!)

Love this little kitchen!

Fascinating child-rearing practices around the world.

If you like anything rose, you'll love this amazing candle.

Clever ways to tie a scarf.

A fun podcast about work-life balance for the working mamas out there!

The spring sneakers all the models are wearing.

"When somebody shows you who they are, believe them." Love this no nonsense advice.

The Italian coffee king's final resting place.

J.Crew's extra 40% off sale ends tonight!

I hope your weekend is absolutely wonderful and sunny and springy. Photo of Coco above at the Zurich Botanical Garden taken by J back in the day. Swoon. What a beauty! See you back here Monday. xo

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Montessori: Bring Your Parent to School Night

Last night was "Bring Your Parents to School Night" at Children's House, where Coco has been attending Montessori since we moved to Spokane. My mom started the school over ten years ago and it is such a beautiful thing that Coco gets to have her grandma as her teacher. Plus, it's the sweetest school community. We love the way Coco comes home telling us great stories of things she did every day, and how happy and satisfied she is with the supportive environment and all of the friends she's made. Every night before we eat dinner, she says the little blessing they use at school, "Thank you for the food before us; Thank you for the friends beside us; Thank you for the love around us." Then Theo claps and it's just as cute as can be.
The idea with Bring Your Parent to School Night is that the children have a chance to give their parents lessons, and show them, first hand, what they're doing at school every day. Coco didn't hesitate to jump into giving us a variety of lessons. It was a bit of a juggling act trying to keep track of Theo while paying attention to Coco's very detailed and precise lessons. 
At one point, we discovered that Theo had completely hi-jacked another child's table washing work! I guess I know what we need to set up at home in order to keep Theo busy and happy! Can you believe the focus and concentration on both of their faces? Montessori really is magical. It's like I'm discovering it anew watching my own babies live and grow with it.
Coco gave us lessons on the Metal Insets, Binomial Cube, Weaving, Table Washing and more. Head on over to Instagram to see a cute video of her getting her apron on. So darling! I don't think I could be more proud of Coco. She is smart, caring, talented, beautiful and so much fun to be around. I love her to the moon and back! 

If you're local to the Spokane area, and looking for a top quality Montessori program, CHMS is almost full for next year. Tours and applications are happening now! I can't recommend it enough. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The best and worst cities to live in 2015.

This week, the 18th Mercer Quality of Life study was released, and - no surprise - German-speaking cities took half of the top ten. That Teutonic approach to efficiency, maintenance and work-life balance is pretty much perfection. Vienna topped the list and Zurich came in at number two, followed by Auckland, Munich, Vancouver, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Sydney. If you've never been to, or lived in Vienna, just watch the time lapse video below and you'll be searching airfares! (You're welcome:)

"Quality of life" is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but I have to say that until living in Zurich and actually experiencing top notch quality of life, I didn't really know what the phrase meant. Now I can say that to me it's many things, including easy access to the outdoors, safety and security, reliable public transportation, cleanliness, parks and public spaces, access to high-quality, nutritious food, and cosmopolitan urbanism. But don't take my word for it, check out this video from Monocle.

Killing it on all fronts, Zurich! Did you hear that? I think it was my heart breaking.

I am writing this blog post from the car parked in front of our house. This has become my defacto office because when Theo falls asleep in the car on the way home from dropping Coco off at school, I have postpone my errands and leave him until he wakes up. It's a bummer, but that child will not transfer from the car seat to his bed, or to our bed, or to the couch, or even to the stroller. Sometimes, dependent on some elusive combination of the alignment of the planets and what he ate for dinner three days ago, he will transfer to the stroller, but only once. So if I do a quick errand and then put him back in his car seat, it's nap over. Ugh. This was simply never a problem with Coco. It was perfect if she fell asleep while out and about. She was in her Bugaboo and I was free to run all the errands while she slept. We went from the sidewalk to the tram, to shops, through lines, to the post office, back onto the tram or bus, even onto a boat and I didn't have to disturb her through all of it! How I miss that. Sigh.

Here in the Northwest, we have the great outdoors, but we do not have easy access to the outdoors. When I say easy, I mean without a car. Driving for 20 minutes, an hour, two hours to get to a trailhead is not easy, in my humble opinion. From our apartments in Neuchâtel, Adliswil and Zurich, we were able to walk right out our front door and to a trail head. No train, no tram, no car - no joke. Even in Seefeld, right in the middle of the city. Is that not rad?!

The ol' cliché that you don't know what you have until it's gone comes to mind. But it could always be worse! Baghdad was the very last city on the list (even after Damascus!) And New York, Paris, San Francisco and London didn't even make the top 25. You can see the full list and read about the study here

Have you lived in one of the top eleven cities? (Beautiful Amsterdam is number 11:) What is wonderful or dreadful about where you live? What matters most to you when it comes to quality of life? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Traditional Housekeeping Schedule

How do you keep your home clean, tidy and running smoothly? I am infinitely happier and enjoy my day-to-day so much more when our home is humming. Doesn't that word just fit? In my mind, a humming home is one that is not just clean, but also well-organized, cozy, inviting, well-stocked and truly tidy. Since my unemployment ended, J and I have rearranged our lives so that I'm at home and not working at all. It's the best thing for our family at this point, and it definitely won't be forever, so I'm embracing it fully. I have decided to master the art of being a homemaker. Or, domestic engineer if that sits better with you. 

I was remarking to my mom that I want to set up a routine where I change the beds and wash all the bedding on Monday, clean the kitchen on Tuesday, clean the bathroom Wednesday, dust, vacuum and mop the bedrooms Thursday and dust, vacuum and mop the living room on Friday. In addition, I'd like to do one or two loads of laundry and two declutter/tidy pomodori per day. That way, with a couple of hours each day, I can maintain a humming home without ever letting it become a complete pig sty or having to spend five or six hours cleaning on a Saturday while J takes the kids on a hike and I miss out. My mom's response? "It's just like the song we sang when we were little. 'Monday is for washing...Tuesday is for dusting...'" to which I responded with a probing, inquisitive look and immediately Googled "traditional housekeeping schedule." turns out this is totally a thing! And now I officially feel like a 1950's housewife. Yikes! But, in all seriousness, I have been wanting to get a schedule going like this ever since Coco was about Theo's age. Now that we have two little people making messes and generating laundry, it's more necessary than ever. 

I've found schedules like this one, but I'm not interested in including the weekends. (Heck no!) I also found this one which is intriguing and includes a day for grocery shopping and errands. But I need to tweak so that it fits with Theo's naps, Coco's ballet class, school drop-off time and includes the kids. I realize that now when they're tiny is the time to get them involved in household chores. And, lest you're worried about J's involvement, just know that he cleans the kitchen every evening after dinner; he also does the bath and bed routine every night; he participates in the general tidying daily; and he makes me coffee every morning. So don't think for a second that he gets a hall pass on cleaning just because I'm at home. ;)

I'm working on a schedule that's going to work for us in the hopes that it will make life easier and more enjoyable for everyone, but mostly me. I want a dedicated time for everything so that nothing gets overlooked and I have a plan in place at the start of each day. Doesn't that sound lovely? 

Some day, I'll go back to work and this won't be my reality any longer, but for now I'm totally geeking out on my domestic engineer position. ;) Help me out! How do you manage your household - cleaning, errands, laundry, tidying? How do you involve your children? I really do have to laugh out loud. It's like playing house, but with real children!  

(Gorgeous kitchen photo via La Mini Maison)

Monday, February 22, 2016

The anatomy of a sleepless night pondering a third baby.

Theo was such a perfect baby. I cannot get over how cute he looks in those manly little pajamas. He's always been a big tummy sleeper, so I stay away from this style of pajamas with the buttons down the front, but these were a gift and I absolutely adored them while they fit him. It seems like he's still my little baby, but that sweetheart in the photo is now a full-fledged toddler. I can't believe it!  

Last week, I got a little taste of baby again while he was sick. Starting Tuesday night, it was rough and I barely slept for three nights. Finally, Friday morning at 3 am, I was running on fumes and so desperately needed to sleep. All attempts at napping during the day had failed for one reason or another and I was so tired it actually hurt. Up until that point, our night had been patchy at best, but it was at 3 am that I finally woke up fully and accepted that Theo was too miserable to do any real sleeping. I pulled myself upright and tried to give him some ibuprofen. He was angry, flailing and sent it flying out of my hand. So, I did what I had to do and got him into a headlock and forced the 5 ml of ibuprofen into the back corner of his mouth with the oral syringe. (Pro tip: Always buy the ibuprofen with the oral syringe over the little cup. The little cup will just wind up being swatted across the room and that stuff is sticky! Anyway...) 

Once I'd dosed the little guy, I took him out into the living room where we sat on the couch together.  I yawned so hard that my eyes squeezed shut and a few tears escaped from the corners of my eyes. Bleary eyed, I caressed Theo's soft chubby feet. Some light from the street lights was sneaking in through the blinds and the room was decorated with scattered dots. All was quiet. Theo's sweet downy head lay heavy on my shoulder, when suddenly, I was overwhelmed by a rush of absolutely gut wrenching nostalgia. I rubbed his back, closed my eyes and breathed in his smell. I wished that time would stand still so I could hold onto that fleeting moment with my baby just a little bit longer. 

Lately, I just can't seem to shake the feeling that Theo's babyhood and Coco's childhood are just slipping away from me every second of every day. And they are, I guess. 

When we got back to bed, I took Theo's temperature again. It was still high, but the ibuprofen hadn't really had time to start working yet. I massaged some lavender balm onto the soles of his feet and we sat together. I rocked him and hummed lullabies quietly in his ear. I kissed his round cheeks and lay him down on his tummy. I continued to rub his back until his breathing was completely even. It was hard to believe how frustrated I had felt when he was flailing and punching the ibuprofen out of my hand. Sleeping there in the dark, he looked like a little cherub. 

I was exhausted, but too filled with swirling thoughts to fall back asleep. My brain wandered and I wondered if maybe I want another baby sometimes because I feel like I missed out on a lot of Theo's babyhood due to all the stress and chaos of last year. Some days it felt like all I did was shuffle him from one seat to the next: baby swing to car seat to the bouncy seat in my office and back again. We were so busy and overwhelmed and lacking any support. But having another baby wouldn't change that. A lot of the time - most of the time - I'm just so happy with Coco and Theo and our family really does feel complete. And yet, I remain inquisitive. I continue to feel that longing and wonder about it. 

After asking around, I was relieved to discover that most moms feel like they didn't get to enjoy and focus on their second baby the same way as they did with their first, simply because they still had - wait for it - their first! So I am glad, looking back, that I prioritized the way I did last year. Our house was a complete and total wreck (no exaggeration) but I was snuggling my baby and listening to my toddler's stories and spending time with my husband and I enjoyed all of them and those were the right choices. If we were to add a third helpless little human to the mix, we'd be back at square one and there would be that much less mama energy and attention to go around. Not to mention taking care of myself and having enough time with J. I'm not sure that's what I want. We might actually favor the lifestyle of travel and adventure over the lifestyle of the big family. 

I jotted down a few notes and then heard Coco's door open and her little feet pitter patter into our room. She climbed in and I helped her get situated and go back to sleep. Then I found myself squished, rather uncomfortably, between my two little miracles as they slept. And lying there in the dark, my thoughts no longer swirling, drifting off to sleep, I thought to myself how wonderful this season of my life is and vowed to enjoy it while it lasts. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Enjoy your weekend.

Wow. This week was a doozy. I am actually writing this post on the laptop from the driver's seat of our parked car while Theo naps in his car seat. It is not worth it to try and move him. The poor little guy has been sick and miserable and cranky and I haven't slept much in three days. Ugh. That needs to change ASAP. I had two posts I was really looking forward to sharing with you yesterday and Wednesday, but when the kiddos are sick, everything else takes a back seat. Next week! 

Until then, here's a bit of what caught my eye this week:

Patagonia is having their annual sale! This is honestly the best sale there is. We got Coco and Theo spring/fall fleeces and summer weight fleeces. Prices are now up to 50% off. 

Are you a beach person or a mountain person? I am definitely a mountain person and this close up confirms my belief that beaches are just nasty!

Fascinating innovation for c-section babies.

I desperately need to print some photos.

Modernize your resume. Loved this!

We try others, but always end up coming back to this incredibly wonderful smelling bubble bath!

Muses, not so amused. 

Great tips for hanging curtains

The peony photo is from a trip J and I took to Nice when I was pregnant with Coco. We loved Nice. The markets were every bit as charming as you'd expect and the sun was so glorious. What I wouldn't give to have three days on the Côte d'Azur sans enfants lounging on a beach chair. Bliss! (I'm still a mountain person for the record;) Enjoy your weekend and see you back here Monday! xoxoxo

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to Polish Copper

Copper is so hot right now. It seems like everywhere you look, you see gleaming copper. But, in reality, copper is really hard to keep shiny and polished. It develops a natural green patina from water exposure and gets dark and dull from heat exposure. J and I bought these gorgeous copper pots and pans more than ten years ago! They're by Martha Stewart Everyday and were only on the market for about 10 minutes, so we feel super lucky to have gotten some. We took them to Zurich with us, and then brought them back. We'll probably never get rid of them.

Over the years, I've tried every method of polishing from store bought to homemade polishes. Some were way messier than others, but one super cheap and easy way stood out and is my go-to. You'll never guess what the "polish" is.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Have a magical weekend.

Do you have big plans for Valentine's Day? J and Coco have skiing all day Sunday, which is a bummer, but we've got some amazing sea salt dark covered chocolate caramels and we will open a special bottle of wine once we get the little munchkins to sleep. Really, we just love the simple little things in life, so I'm excited to hang out at home. Soon, however, we'll be getting regular date nights again. We've got some neighbors that we might start a babysitting swap with and that will be a wondrous thing! I can't wait to get it started.

Here's a bit of what caught my eye this week:

The gravitational waves discovery blew my mind. This line in particular made me stop, take a deep breath, and bathe in the awe of it all: "Science, like art, music and literature, has the capacity to amaze and excite, dazzle and bewilder." Indeed. Kudos to you, Einstein. 

Show your cast iron skillet some love.

Arresting photos from British slums in the late 60s. 

How excited are we for Target's new Pillowfort Collection?!

The best romantic lines for Valentine's Day. 

My mom was always trying to stop us from using these. (Genius!)

And, I just want to say thank you to everyone for the messages, comments, tweets and emails in response to this post. I am overwhelmed! Your engagement and contribution makes this a two-way conversation and that absolutely makes my day. Thank you. 

Take some time to ponder the infinite this weekend. See you all back here Monday Tuesday. Happy Presidents' Day! xo

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Elle Luna: The Crossroads of Should and Must

It's impossible to say this without sounding dramatic, so here it goes: The closing keynote speech at Alt Summit changed my life.

I know, I know! That sounds extreme, but it's true. It absolutely did change my life.

It went like this: I listened to Elle Luna (whom I'd never even heard of!) speak on Friday afternoon of Alt Summit. Then I proceeded to read HER ENTIRE BOOK, and do all of the exercises and reflections on the flight home Saturday evening. And then I realized something: Up until that point, I had been trying to recover from the bad decision to go to Minnesota. That had been a mistake, a misstep, a failure. When I say "go to Minnesota," what I'm really saying in fewer words is: taking a huge leap of faith and crashing into the reality that we never should have left Zurich; then making the choice to leave Minnesota and not waste any more time there once we realized we'd made a huge mistake; then making a major move for the second time in less than a year with a baby and toddler; then going through the hell of unemployment; and, finally, finding ourselves completely unmoored with what seemed like nothing but each other - THAT was the big failure, that was the mistake to come back from. Right?
Actually, it was the best thing that ever happened to us.

All of that misery I just listed off is not the good part, of course. But in her book, Elle examines the idea that we all reach a point in life, or perhaps again and again, when we are forced to confront the choice between that which we must do and that which we should do. The things we must do are art, passion, living a life that is filled with that which we love. The things we should do are duty, obligation, playing it safe and saving face.

I'm sorry to say that if we hadn't been thrust into our current reality, we never would have chosen it.

Being unemployed is scary. Particularly when you have two little children to care and provide for. Having no job is humiliating, because in America, we are what we do to generate money. Elle suggests a different model when she examines Picasso, who famously said, "It's not what an artist does that counts but who he is." And yet, Picasso turned his own idea on its head through the way he lived, because in his biography, written by Ariana Huffington, she can only capture him by writing simply "What he did was what he was." He was his art. He wanted to live nobly and be separate from it, and yet he had become one with his art. It was his true passion.

Elle finds early on in her journey that she must paint. Of course it's only in retrospect that she sees that this was her own personal crossroads of should and must. She chooses must and it takes her to wild and wondrous places.

Let me just say that throughout our life together, J and I have felt a lot of callings to our passions, but we have always stayed in our comfort zone. That said, our comfort zone is pretty broad. We have lived abroad and traveled and done so many adventurous things together. But, at the end of the day, comfort is comfort. It's not until we step outside of that comfort zone that things get interesting, or take off completely.

So that is exactly why going to Minnesota (you know all that that encapsulates now) was the best thing that ever happened to us. All of a sudden, we were thrown right out of our comfort zone like a shot from a cannon. It was loud, it was dramatic, it was painful. When we landed, there was nothing to hold on to. Nothing, except what was within us. And what was within us turned out to be the things we must do. We were pushed up against it and finally had no other choice and for that I am so grateful. I am blogging and writing like never before. J is stepping into his place in this world like never before. We are happy like never before.

When I heard Elle speak and then went through the exercises and roadmap to must in her book, two things happened. One is that I reframed the way I had been choosing to look at our journey up until now. Secondly, it affirmed all of the choices we've made along the way. We opted for less money (just enough to not be reckless!) in favor of more time together; we opted to follow our passions in favor of seeking safety in something that doesn't satisfy us; and we opted to believe in ourselves. In short, we chose must. 

This is the full, nearly hour long video of Elle's talk. If you have an hour to devote to it, I absolutely think you should. And then you should read the whole book and do the exercises. It might just change your life, too!

#choosemust xo

(Photos via Elle Luna's Instagram and Buzz Feed)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Winter Knitting for Spring Days

I'm so excited for spring I can hardly stand it! Yesterday, it was 50 degrees and sunny when Coco got home from school, so we jumped in the car (sigh!) and went to the park. It was so amazing to be there with just a fleece on and no hat, and to be able to push the kids in the swings without risking frostbite. Today, it's back to being grey and cloudy, but the promise of spring is still in the air. We are getting there, folks!
I knitted this cardigan sweater for Coco a couple of years ago and she's finally growing out of it. We got so much use out of this thing. It makes the perfect spring jacket with a scarf, or on a cooler summer evening, it's just right once it starts to get chilly. In the fall and winter, it's perfect all day layered with a turtleneck or long-sleeve tee. It rolls up nicely to stash in a purse or bag.
Because I knitted it with Cascade 220 Superwash wool, we just threw it in the washing machine whenever it needed a wash. Washable wool is one of my favorite things. It is truly magical! I wish I could make Coco another cardigan like this one, but like so many patterns, it only went up to 18-24 months. Why?!
If you're on Ravelry and know of any good knitting patterns for the 3-6 year old range, please add me! My username is lindseymclean and I would love some recommendations. There are a lot of wonderful patterns on Ravelry, but sometimes they're hiding amongst all the others, if you know what I mean. ;) My friend Kyrie wrote this beautiful pattern, but as much as I love cables and seed stitch, my truest love of all is stripes, of course. If you're looking for me, I'll be searching for striped cardigans on Ravelry! xo

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On missing Zurich

It's been nearly 20 months since we left Zurich, and I'm still hoping against hope that we will fall in love with life in Spokane. You don't understand; I really want to! Right now, we are essentially living the life I dreamed of when we were in Zurich. I even wrote a post about it, back in 2012, which I remembered last night when I was trying to fall asleep. The photos are all blurry because they were just taken off of a real estate listing, but you get the idea. I thought it sounded like heaven to live in Spokane with pies cooling on windowsills, backyard grill parties with my mom and sisters and walking the kids to school through crunching leaves. Pretty much exactly what we're doing right now.

So what I'm hoping for is that it all pans out something like this: When we grow out of this little rental house in a year and a half, I hope that we will buy a home a little farther up the hill and that Coco will start kindergarten fall of 2017 at either Hutton or Wilson school. But, the truth of the matter is, this does not feel like heaven. I'm not sure it's going to work for us to leave city living behind and embrace the Spokane lifestyle we thought we wanted. I'm more than a little baffled by it all to be honest.

You know that whole saying that life is what happens while you're making other plans? Well, I think something happened to us in Zurich while we were making Spokane plans. It seems ridiculous, but while we were there, distracted by the idea of pies cooling on windowsills in Spokane, we were falling completely and totally in love with Zurich (and cooling pies on our windowsill there, something our American windowsills aren't even big enough for FYI). Looking back, I can see that there were glimmers of recognition. I remember saying to J once that I wished we were from Zurich because then our family would be there and we wouldn't have to choose between the two. But overall, we were largely unaware of what was happening.

Here's the cold hard truth: We are not from Zurich. And it looks like we are going to have to choose.

These photos are from one of the countless walks that J and Coco took during our time there. We took lots of walks all together, of course, particularly on Sundays. But their daddy-daughter walks were my time to take a nap, or go have coffee with a girlfriend, or even listen to a podcast and clean the house if it were particularly disgusting. It was their special thing. They would go hiking, or take sausages into the forest for a weenie roast, or just explore the city. Coco loved life in Zurich. 

Last year, she often cried as we walked to the car, saying "I want to walk! Why can't we walk?" And now, when we're leaving for school, she still says from time to time, "I wish we could walk or take the train instead." If we buy a house up the hill, it will be a priority that they're able to walk to school. But in terms of parenting and day-to-day life, I, too, prefer the lifestyle we had in Zurich. I was under the impression that having a car would make everything easier and more enjoyable. And while I can appreciate the convenience of Costco and driving, that doesn't mean I like it. I would rather not have a car and go everywhere with the tram and buggy instead. I miss it. 

All of these thoughts were swirling around in my mind before I finally succumbed to sleep last night. When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling a bit pensive about it all. Coco, Theo and I went through the motions. We all got dressed and everyone was fed; I packed Coco's lunch and we got her off to school. After we got back home, Theo and I didn't even bother coming inside. We set off on a meandering walk around the neighborhood and I was shaking it all off. It was sunny. I was feeling pretty good. 

Then, I happened to see that my friend Chantal had published a new article in the Washington Post about the rough adjustment back to American life after living in Switzerland. The topic was American birthday parties. (Side note: With Coco's birthday being in September, we made the exact same mistake as Chantal. And we'll do it again next year, too!) But it wasn't the topic itself that was so upsetting, as it was the reminder of the reality we're living in now. We feel out of place and unsettled in our own country. On top of that great thing, we miss everything about our life in Zurich: city living, Swiss Sundays, the trains and trams, mommy group, no car, the lake, wonderful friends, life-work balance, everything! And yet, family is so important. I love being near my mom and my sisters and my dad's brother and my cousins and other aunts and uncles and everyone. It really is so great!

Walking along with Theo this morning, reading Chantal's article, I wanted to scream out loud! But I just cried a little bit instead. So the question is this: Does being near family make up for absolutely everything else

I have no idea. Luckily we've got all the time we need to figure that out.

Monday, February 8, 2016

DIY Cross Stamped Pillow Cover

This simple project has been over a year in the making. I first pinned a pillow cover that I thought would be an easy (and even better) do it yourself job, shortly after Theo was born. I got the pillow covers and then life was so busy and relentless, I never got to it. But I didn't forget about it. Last summer, after we got settled into our house, I picked up the art supplies I needed and carved my stamp. 

Then it all sat in a closet until I heard the closing keynote at Alt Summit by Elle Luna, author of The Crossroads of Should and Must

Friday, February 5, 2016

Enjoy your weekend.

Do you have anything special going on this weekend? We all have a cold, so we are lying low. Speaking of, I totally jumped the gun with this post about getting better sleep; I've felt like a zombie since Theo kept me up all night Tuesday night with a fever. That's Murphy's Law right there!

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

I'm loving this gorgeous Danish design blog, Mad & Bolig. The lovely room above is from their site, and everything else is equally drool-worthy!

This is what firm yet kind discipline looks like.

I was duped by this one!

10 brilliant Eames chair facts.

Coco never stops talking! (We had quite a few of these;)

Love this inspirational post.

I'm swooning over this bubble chandelier. (Do you think J would go for it?!)

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Winter Blues: Summery Mantle

Our mantle was looking a bit drab with all of the festive Christmas stuff taken down. So I decided to make it more cheerful - while simultaneously willing summer to come - by putting a few beach-like items up there. Of course, I also included lots of candles. Tea lights are probably the most magical winter pick-me-up there is, wouldn't you agree? Their soft glow is so cozy, comforting and warming. When I lighted them last night, Coco oohed and aahed. Then this morning, she exclaimed, "Oh no! Who blew out the candles?!" Teachable moment harnessed. Coco now knows it's not safe to leave candles burning. Oof!
One of my goals for this summer is to collect shells and beach glass for the mantle. They would look so great with these breezy votives and that incredible piece of driftwood J found on the shores of Lake Superior. He carried it, along with Coco in the hiking backpack, for miles! Just let me point out that it is so heavy. That was a labor of love for sure.
Normally I like to do some tall or tall-ish flowers next to this lamp, but right now I'm really digging the clean, sparse look without any. That's the beauty of winter, isn't it? Calm, quiet, space, rest, pause. It gets totally depressing after a while, but it's the key to renewal and rebirth. 
When I lived in Phoenix for a year, my body was confused and longing for winter when it never came. Any time I feel bummed out, I remind myself how much I treasure four seasons. When winter arrives with its silence and stillness, it feels good to retreat, light some candles and look inward. Even though it seems to be slogging on forever, (and I will be positively euphoric to see crocuses, tender blades of spring grass and sunshine!) we are embracing it as best we can: Theo and I are bundling up and getting out for walks almost every day, I've been doing lots of baking, and J and Coco are skiing every weekend. How are you embracing winter? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to fall asleep

How are you sleeping these days? We are finally getting more sleep around here thanks to one ridiculously simple trick we figured out and a dose of understanding.
There's Coco, looking so sweet while she sleeps, but recently I had started calling her 'the nighttime terrorist', because she was. For over a month, she was coming into our room and keeping me awake anywhere from one to four hours per night. J has this strange ability to sleep through these sorts of disturbances, but I was completely coming undone with fatigue. By day, I was so tired that I worried I shouldn't be driving. And at night, it was physically painful. One night, in particular, I remember counting to twenty while doing deep breathing exercises before picking her up and taking her back to bed because I was worried I might throttle her, much the way Homer throttles Bart. Yes, it was that bad and, no, I did not throttle Coco. 

But then we discovered this trick: HOT WATER BOTTLE! Total. Game. Changer. I'm sorry to overuse capital letters and punctuation like that, but really. We put a super hot (190 degree) hot water bottle under the covers at the foot of her bed wrapped in one of her lovey blankies. Since we started doing this, she stays in her bed all night almost every night. I could cry with happiness.
As for the Tugboat, we had tried everything. We did the "least cry approach" and that Swedish sleep cure and we finally just gave up and decided to take the path of least resistance. That was the best choice ever. Theo's still a baby and he is deliciously snuggly. We get him to sleep in his own bed at bedtime, but then, when we go to bed, I go pick him up out of his crib sleeping and bring him into bed with us. It's easy, we all sleep better, and really, that's the whole point.

I was feeling badly about it, thinking I shouldn't be so lazy when I read the best advice I've ever seen about babies, children and sleep in the Washington Post. The author, Meghan Leahy, is a mother of three and a certified parenting coach. She writes, 

Children can really become needy for their parents’ attention at night. Why is this? At night, the work of the day is done and it is time to relax. What brings children the most relaxation? Being physically close to their parents. Even older children want to feel close to their attachments. 

She goes on to give really thoughtful, loving advice to the parent who wrote in, but for me, that little tidbit about children wanting to be close to their parents just sunk in and felt right. So right, in fact, that a few nights ago, when Coco got a nose bleed and came into our room and couldn't get back to sleep and kept me awake from 1 am until 4 am, I didn't have any Homer-like urges to wring her neck. I rubbed her back, I told her how much I love her, we held hands in the dark and she kissed my fingers. Eventually, we both fell asleep, relaxed. 

You can read the entire Washington Post article here.
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