Friday, January 29, 2016

Have a lovely weekend

This weekend, it's supposed to be mild and sunny, so I can't wait to get Coco and Theo outside at the park for the first time in months. Then the snow returns next week. Ho-hum. It's not that I don't love the snow, but winter can feel so long and dreary. It's hard not to be counting down the days until spring at this point!

Here are some links for you:

Winter rituals to help you through.

For the bearded man in your life.

In favor of having a third!

Barbacoa recipe, because I miss Chipotle!

You'll never look at a binder clip the same.


Let Tinkerbell tinker. (Good advice for little girls).

A stay-at-home-mom on the verge of depression.

Kale is not healthy.

My roommate's Alt Summit recap post is so sweet!

Although that photo makes me think of this book. Ha! ;)

Have a great weekend and see you back here on Monday! xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Four Fabulous Instagram Accounts

Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform. Here are four accounts you should definitely be following if you're not already! Miss Etc (above) is a DIY & Lifestyle blogger from Bordeaux. Her photos are colorful and bright and always cheer me up.
Janne Honkaniemi is Finnish, living in Finland. His photos are exquisitely dramatic and full of feeling. He portrays the cold and ice with such beauty. He also travels and shares equally beautiful photos of landscapes elsewhere, including Switzerland last summer! They will evoke your senses of adventure and wonder.
Another French Instagrammer I adore is pomverte, from the Southwest; think Provence, Nice and Marseille. Her gentle and clean photos of the beautiful sun-drenched landscape and her adorable children and new puppy will warm your heart.
Finally, I recently discovered flywithcarola, a Vienna-based flight attendant for Swiss. If you've never dreamed of being a flight attendant, then her Instagram feed is sure to give you the envie. Her photos are chic and will speak to the wanderlust in your heart.

I find that Facebook can really get old with all the angry political messages (guilty! Go, Bernie!) and immature memes (again, guilty!) but Instagram is all beauty and inspiration; a true break from all the noise of everyday life. Don't you agree? And who are your favorite Instagrammers? I am always looking for new people to follow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What I learned at Alt Summit

I'm back from Alt Summit! This week, I am spending some time updating the site and making a plan to put everything I learned into action. I'll have a Friday link list for you this Friday and then starting Monday will be the post-Alt Swiss Lark extravaganza. Or something like that. ;) I'm really glad I went and really so excited to get to work.

See you on Friday. Until then, have a great week! xoxo

Photo by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Donating my breastmilk

I'm en route to Salt Lake City on a layover in Boise. I'm doing a mobile post, so I apologize in advance if things look a bit funky. Last night I was up late finishing my suitcase and making final preparations. Getting ready for Alt Summit was mostly about clothes and business cards and blogging goals, but another important thing I had to take care of was my precious breastmilk. I have thrown away so much breastmilk over the past few years! It's painful to do, but Coco and Theo never took to the bottle, so breastmilk we had in the freezer just ended up being wasted.

I knew I would have to pump at Alt. Initially I thought I would just pump and dump. What's the point of sterilizing and freezing and transporting the milk if it's just going to be tossed in the garbage in a few months? But then I imagined dumping that warm, sweet, creamy milk down a drain and realized I could never do it.I set out to find a way to donate my milk.

Google searches only pointed to milk banks, which expect a longterm commitment and lots of testing up front. That wasn't realistic for four days during a busy-from-dawn-until-dusk conference. Then, as it happens, a fellow Alt participant runs a site called Lactation Link. Perfect! I got in touch with her and she tipped me off to Eats on Feets, an informal mom-to-mom milk sharing program (it's a play on Meals on Wheels). Each city, state or region has their own Eats on Feets Facebook page. I offered my milk on Eats on Feets Utah and within a few hours, I had connected with three different moms who wanted some of my milk! One mom just adopted a newborn in Utah and needs a bit more milk before they head home to Portland together. The other two moms are sisters whose babies are a bit older, but are both quite tiny. Isn't it magical to imagine Theo's milk plumping up another baby, or babies?! It makes me so insanely happy!

The only challenge now is being away from my sweet Theo bear for four days. Leaning into bed to kiss his warm head goodbye while my Lyft waited outside this morning was so hard!

Have you ever donated breastmilk or received donor milk? I'd love to hear your story!

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Business Cards for Alt Summit

My business cards arrived from Moo and I could not be happier with the results. They are thick, luxurious and absolutely beautiful to the last detail. More pictures and some musings on being called Swiss Lark, but living in America, after the jump...

Monday, January 11, 2016

What are your wildest dreams?

Over the weekend, I saw this photo from Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day on Instagram, and along with it was the following caption:

Speaking of New Years Resolutions... about 10 years ago I made this list of goals and taped it to my fridge. I guess we can finally check the last one off our list. Expecting a baby girl in June.

I cannot stop thinking about it. TEN YEARS AGO! She created these goals ten years ago and did not give up on them. It's so easy to think that other people somehow achieve their goals quickly, but really, big goals take time. As long as we're at it, let's just look quickly at the other two items on the list. I know that Jordan and her family were living in Paris when we moved into our apartment in Kieselgasse. That was 2011, so if this list is really ten years old, the first achievement took a full five or six years to come to fruition. I also know, from reading her blog, that they bought their house in San Francisco spring 2013, seven years after the original goal. And now, the third baby (a girl!) is coming along ten years later. 

Isn't it just awe inspiring? 

Maybe it's not for you. After all, this is hardly profound. In the theoretical sense, I have always known that big dreams and big goals take a lot of time. But somehow, seeing it presented like this, I had a total gong moment. It kind of made my head explode in the best possible way. And it's really got me thinking about the goals I want to set this year, and about my wildest dreams that I want to write down, hold close to my heart and keep at the front of my mind, regardless of when they happen, because they are what matter to me.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm so grateful now for the hell we went through last year. That living nightmare made us stop and ask ourselves, "What really matters to us? What kind of life do we want to spend our time, energy and money creating?" We are forever changed. J and I are no longer the naive, impatient people we were going into that experience. It turns out that wasn't actually a career path we wanted to be on anyway and now we are heading in a completely new direction in life. 

Ten years is 3,652 days. After Coco's ballet class this afternoon, I'm taking her and Theo to the paint store to pick up some paint chips. Tonight, after they're sleeping in their beds, I'm going to sit down with a hot cup of tea and make two paint chip cards. One with my goals for 2016 and one for my wildest dreams that I would happily invest the next 3,652 days making come true.

Do you write down your goals in life? Do you believe in your wildest dreams?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Getting ready for Alt Summit (and Happy weekend!)

O. M. G. I am so over-the-moon excited to be going to Alt Summit 2016 just 12 days from today! My roommate and I have been firing texts and emails back and forth about everything from business cards to clothes over the past few days and it's really starting to feel real. This is a long-time dream come true. I have been wanting to attend Alt Summit for four years now. That is definitely one of the silver lining aspects to unexpectedly winding up in Spokane at this point. And 2016 is the final year the conference will be held in Salt Lake City, so it's like it was meant to be. All that said, I'm also slightly intimidated, so I'm keeping the above mantra, from Emily McDowell, in mind. I say slightly because it's true. I am slightly intimidated, but over all, I think I am going to be exactly where I belong at that conference. I can't wait! Honestly though, what am I going to wear?! ;)

J is teaching ski lessons and Coco is going to Mini Mights camp this weekend up at Mount Spokane. Theo and I are going shopping for Alt Summit clothes. And Saturday night after our kids are in bed, my cousin and her boyfriend are coming over with wine and Cards Against Humanity. Should be fun!

If you're going to Alt Summit, the first half of this link list is for you. If not, skip ahead! 

The best business cards on the web. (I can't wait to share mine with you when they arrive next week.)

I got these cute notebooks to take along.

I plan to wear these flats in red with stripes.

That one time Adele played to a crowd of 150 at our neighborhood pub in Portland.  (!!!)

Turmeric tonic? Yes, please!

Have a great weekend, everyone! See you on Monday. xo

(Emily McDowell artwork via Pinterest)

Thursday, January 7, 2016


The New York Times released their 52 Places to Go in 2016 today! It's a gorgeous, extra-large format article with integrated videos of destinations. The highly varied list includes places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Vaud, Switzerland, both places I highly recommend. Absent from the list, and pictured above, is Bora Bora, which has been at the top of my list of places I want to visit for longer than I can remember. It's seems like the most perfect South Pacific vacation possible: nothing but beaches and clear water, sun, snorkeling, eating and sleeping. Obviously when we go, we won't take our kids! But, seriously, can you get over the color of that water? I am swooning and hypnotized at once.
Another destination I'm dying to visit did make the list: Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. J and I have some friends who just moved to Dubai and seeing their life there through pictures and Instagram posts makes me want to visit even more. Wouldn't it be magnificent to walk through the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and ride a camel in the desert? It looks like one of the most breathtaking places on earth. I can't wait to plan a trip there. I wonder if we should take the kids?

What places are at the top of your travel list? Where would you recommend?

(Photos via Infoshutter, South Pacific Management Hotels, National Geographic, Mercury Tourism)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Our New Favorite TV Show

Naturally, when Homeland season 5 ended, J and I were left with this big gaping hole in our week. Sunday night during Homeland is the sweetest contradiction. Sure, the weekend is over, but it's Homeland night, so who cares?! That show continues to knock our socks off season after season. It doesn't just maintain its awesomeness, it gets better and better. Season 5 was impeccable in my opinion. Plus, I loved all the super European shots of Berlin and the scenes in the Hauptbahnhof were so beautifully captured.

Solely for the purpose of watching Homeland, we signed up for a Showtime account on our Apple TV. It has not been a disappointing purchase. For a while we were watching Happyish. It follows a couple through the midlife stuff that families experience. It's good, but a bit too crass and too many f-bombs, honestly. (I feel like a total grandma saying that, but come on. A wider, more creative vocabulary beyond the f-word is a good thing;)
Then we started watching The Affair. Wow. Don't let the title and the steamy, weird poster deter you. This show is high quality TV and the storyline is literary, gripping, intricate and intelligent. We are about half way through season 1 and completely hooked. It captures, spot on, the slow motion train wreck that is guaranteed to follow any affair, but it's so much more than that. It has a Montague-Capulet small town feud element, and each twist and turn comes along and surprises you in a completely believable fashion. 

Have you seen The Affair (no spoilers, please!) and, what else are you watching these days? We are always on the lookout for new shows! ;)

(Homeland photo from HITFIX; The Affair poster via COLLIDER)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How many children do you plan on having?

When J and I first decided to start a family, we wanted to have four kids. Then we had Coco and things changed. Initially, during her babyhood, I was so high on could nine that I thought I wanted five, or maybe six kids! It was the absolute best thing I had ever experienced to have a baby. Of course, babies turn into toddlers and when Coco hit toddlerdom, our preferred number of kids quickly dropped to two, maybe three. Immediately after giving birth to Theo, I was convinced we were done. But about 24 hours later, I thought, no, we can still have another if we want to. I was completely high on the baby love; the hormones were in high gear once again.

I do not take for granted that we are really lucky that this is an easy do-or-don't question for us. J and I are so fortunate to have been able to conceive exactly when we wanted to (twice!) without month after month of disappointment. So, the question is, do we want to have a third child?

I think about this question all the time. Here are some of the most arresting (in my humble opinion) thoughts on the topic, in no particular order, and from a completely random assortment of sources.

From a woman in the checkout line at the grocery store, mother of three:
You'll never regret the children you have. But, if you regret not having them, then you're old and it's too late. 

From a friend, mother of three, on her Instagram feed:
You don't know your perfect number of children until you've surpassed it. #stillkeepingallthree

From a friend's mom, mother of three:
It just felt like our family wasn't complete. Once we had our third, I knew it was.

From a friend with no children of her own:
It seems like having three means you're really only a mom; it's your whole identity, which is great if that's what you want.

From my cousin, mother of four:
The transition from two to three was the easiest one for us.

From a friend of a friend:
With three, that was when I really felt like it was too much and I couldn't handle everything.

When you have your first child, of course it's a huge deal, and kind of scary, and completely amazing. Then, in my mind, having an only child was never an option, so naturally, the second came along as a given. But the third. That is really something. Deciding to have a third child, there are no illusions. You know exactly what you're getting into and it's no small thing!

As of next week, I will have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for FIVE SOLID YEARS. That is an extremely long time. And as much as I love all of this intensive mama time, I'm really starting to wonder what it would be like to feel normal again. If we have another baby, it's going to be at least another three years, from conception, before I feel normal again. And then there are all the logistical and practical considerations like cars (minivan?!), car seats x 3, travel x 5, swimming lessons and camp fees and tuition x 3, being outnumbered, needing a big living space and so on.

I just keep pondering, because Theo isn't even two yet and I am loving every minute of his babyhood. Besides, he and Coco are just about the most perfect, healthy, incredible little beings imaginable. It's the toughest question in the world, and not the least bit important to answer right now. I think about it a lot all the same.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Goddess Card Reading

How did you begin 2016? I woke up after J had already left for the mountain to teach ski lessons and paused for a moment to marvel at sweet, angelic Theo still sleeping beside me. Then, I slipped out of bed quietly, threw on my favorite-ever merino wool leggings and a sweater, and turned up the heat. It was so cold! Just 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but brilliantly sunny and beautiful. A greater marvel still was that Coco was also still sleeping -- in her own bed! So, without wasting a moment, I poured myself a mug of coffee from the French Press J had left half-full for me and grabbed my deck of Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards. Then I went out into the full sun on the living room rug and gave myself a new year reading for the weeks and months ahead.

2016 is going to be a very good year.

I received my goddess cards from a yoga teacher and friend in Arizona. They are remarkably accurate and encouraging and I honestly cannot recommend them enough. Each reading is a three card pull detailing the immediate past, present and near future.

According to the goddesses, my work in the immediate past has been to get in touch with my divine self and femininity. This really seems to fit with my recent commitment to meditating and self-care. For the present, my current task is to focus on unconditional love and forgiveness. It was the perfect card to pull right now because Duluth is truly behind us. All of the bickering, judgment and chaos we experienced there is finished and gone. It feels so good to let it all go. For the third and final card, which foretells the future over the next few months, I got a reminder that the future is bright. My job is not to worry, but instead to visualize abundance.

Life feels filled with promise and goodness right now. It's a funny thing; J and I have less money and more uncertainty than we've ever had as a married couple. And yet. We are so filled with joy. We are optimistic about our future plans and goals. We are so in love with our kids. We treasure all of the time we have together. It's such a good feeling.

Of course, things aren't perfect. Some days it feels like slogging through a field of mud. Some days it feels like we screwed up and made all the wrong decisions in life. Some days, our kids, being the young little people they are, test our patience to the very limit. Some days I'd give anything for a few hours alone. But, overall, we are healthy and happy and life is beautiful.

Our new year's resolutions are all about scheduling. Time for J to ski. Time to be together as a family. Time for me to blog and write. I came up with a mantra: Don't stress, MANIFEST! We busted out the Hello Family calendar I brought back from Switzerland in October and we are ready to make all of our dreams come true. Watch out, 2016. We're coming for you. I am so grateful to be alive, healthy and dreaming big dreams for the future.

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start, too. Isn't the promise of a fresh year stretching ahead so exhilarating? Happy New Year! xo
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