Friday, September 23, 2016

State of the Lark

Tomorrow we're celebrating Coco's 5th birthday with a party down at the children's museum. Five feels like a big one. Thanks to this loving girl, I have been a mama for five years! Coco is acting so grown up these days. I'm so proud of her. She is ever the treasure of my heart.

I spent the whole day baking these pink cakes for her and then, after she and Theo were asleep, I started going through old photos and now I'm a blubbering mess crying at my computer. She should still be this little. I should still be able to stroke those dark hairs on her temple and marvel at her creamy, soft, smooth skin. Those tiny little fingers. That sweet nose and determined brow. Those round, kissable cheeks. I miss her as a baby so much. Even when she still was a baby, I was already missing her eventually not being a baby.

And now I'm here. She is a little girl and I marvel at all she is and all the things she says. All the ways she's growing and changing. And I anticipate missing these days. These days when she still comes into our bed at night and still wants to snuggle and still wants to sit on my lap and read stories and tells me everything about her day.

Sometimes motherhood just hurts. I shared it once before, but this poem, published on Momfilter in 2012, sums it up perfectly. Since I was already crying, I went ahead and read it again and made it an all out sob fest over here. My baby girl's growing up way too fast!

I'm still looking for that pause button. But in the meantime, we just have to savor each moment as best we can. It feels like the moment you become a parent, someone hits the fast-forward button and it all starts to disappear in the rearview mirror. Life is so beautiful and fleeting. And now I'm off to go get Theo, who is crying for me, and to snuggle his sweet little self and savor his soft, pudgy arms and legs for a moment before I close my eyes and get some sleep. Goodnight! xo

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Same Clothes, Two Days In A Row

When I went to study abroad in France, we had a pretty exhaustive two-day orientation. It included the usual stuff on how not to be an American jerk (remember who was president in 2002), some tours of the old town, and also some tidbits on cultural differences - little things that would be rude or unacceptable in America, but that were totally fair game in France.

We were warned that eye contact with men would be interpreted as an invitation to come talk to us, to which I responded, "Wait! If we want to talk to a guy, all we have to do is look at him?!" much to the dismay of my professors and advisors. Then they let us know that it is okay to use a hunk of baguette to mop up any sauce incroyable from our plate and not let a drop go to waste at the end of a meal.

But by far, the most wonderful tidbit of all was that en France, it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same exact outfit two, even several, days in a row. Can you imagine?! I was overjoyed. In high school, I had a friend whose sole goal was to be voted "Best Dressed." Every night before she went to bed, she laid out her clothes for the following day, including accessories and plans for what she would do with her hair. She had a personal policy never to repeat an outfit within a two-week period. Exhausting. I had grown up going to Catholic school, so I literally wore the same exact outfit every day all year long, except for free-dress Fridays, which didn't even happen every two weeks. In high school, I valued sleep over everything else and could only envy my friend's discipline.

So when they told us this in France, I was delighted. I put my new French practices to use right away. I happily mopped up sauce and ate it on baguette. (Salad dressing, too!) I tried out my man-fetching eye contact skills, but if I'm honest, I was too timid and shy to pull it off. And I excelled at repeating outfits. The laundromats were expensive and I was on a student budget, after all. If something was not dirty, not only did I not wash it, I wore it again. The very next day. I pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever.

I reluctantly left this practice behind when I left France, but I still long for it. Actually, in Switzerland, I figured since we were sharing a border with France, it was close enough and deemed it fair game. But here in the US, not so much. It could possibly work on the weekend. Or, maybe the same outfit to work Friday and out running errands Saturday? But I'm thinking if I had gone to work in the same outfit two, or even several (!!!) days in a row, there would have been summons for a meeting. Obviously, since becoming a mom, my clothes are never clean enough to wear again at the end of the day!

Cultural differences are so fascinating. Really, why shouldn't we wear the same clothes two, or even several days in a row if they're not dirty and it's a put-together, smart outfit? Would you do it? Do you?

PS - I recently recovered some of my emails from my time in France that I'll share with you next week if you'd like to read them. They're hilarious. France Lindsey was really something.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Montessori Monday: Eat Your Vegetables

Montessori Monday is an advice column written by yours truly. If you have a question about Montessori philosophy, parenting or discipline, or anything else in that realm, contact me and your question could be the next Montessori Monday post!

Dear Lindsey, 

I know it's been asked a hundred times, but how do you get a 2.5 year old to eat vegetables? I'm not that concerned; I keep suggesting and providing them patiently. But, it really winds my husband up which makes meals more stressful than they need to be!


Dear Frazzled,

I can totally relate to your frustration with this issue because if I'm honest, my blood pressure is never higher at any point in the day than it is from dinner until our kids are asleep in bed! ;) But, don't fret! Your toddler can and will eat vegetables. First, we need to talk about getting wound up.

Toddlers love to flex their muscles and experiment in creating change and wresting control, particularly when that change and control have to do with the behavior of other people. The fact that your husband gets wound up at mealtimes is allowing your toddler to have all the power. Montessori said that once we get into a power struggle with a child, the only way we'll ever win is though our physical dominance. As adults, we know we're getting into a power struggle the moment we begin to feel wound up. Being bigger than our child means we can pick them up and remove them from a situation, but we can't make them eat a vegetable. We can't make them do anything! As long as your child is directing her energy toward holding her ground and frustrating your husband by not eating vegetables, the actual nutrition component remains a moot point.

The first thing you need to do is sit down with your husband - without your child - and establish this fact: Your toddler will grow and thrive whether he eats vegetables or not. It's true! If your husband is worried this isn't true, have him ask your pediatrician or a midwife, or another trusted advisor in that capacity. I'm certain they'll tell him the same thing.

Next, once that is agreed upon, release all cares about vegetables. At mealtimes, come together at the table, dish up with everyone getting vegetables on his or her plate, toddler included, and finally, eat.

Say nothing to your toddler about her vegetables. Do not look at them sideways.

Now here's where many people might say, "Ignore them altogether!" But ignoring means pretending something is not there, in this case frustration, irritation, anger, whatever it may be, when actually it is there. That's no good. Children are not fools. They know when the frustration is there, whether you're showing it or not, and they know they're in control because of it! So, the key is to genuinely not care. Repeat silently in your head: My child will eat vegetables when he is ready. Until then, he's just fine. Release all cares about vegetables.

Eventually, your toddler will eat her vegetables. One school I worked at had hot lunch provided. Meals were balanced with salad or vegetables beforehand and a main course. Most children would eat the main course, but many children did not want to eat the salad and vegetables. After three or four months, most kids were eating everything. There was just one child who still wouldn't touch anything and ate nothing each day. Finally, his mother confessed that she felt so guilty picking him up two hours later than his little sister that she had a fruit danish and cheese stick for him in the car every day. Well, there you go. If she hadn't done that, he would have eaten just like everyone else!

It might take months for your child to eat vegetables, but it will happen. Just last night, in fact, Theo finally ate his green beans. I can't tell you how many nights he's had green beans on his plate and tried one and refused the rest, or just not tried any at all. But, last night he gobbled them up.

You have the right idea in your approach: always provide vegetables, be patient and don't be that concerned. Rest easy! You're doing a great job.

Fellow parents, how do you get your children to eat their vegetables? What about picky eaters in general? I'd love to hear your tricks!

Friday, September 16, 2016

State of the Lark

So I'm trying something new. Instead of doing a link list as I've done on Fridays past, I'm going to ramble in a stream of consciousness, part essay, part journal entry sort of way and sprinkle links at you within the text. You'll still get your links, but mostly I'll just share my thoughts on how the week was and what we did over the course of the week, subjecting you to my inner monologue. I think you'll like it! I decided to give this a try for several reasons. One, I don't seem to have enough time to post five days per week lately and the Friday link list is not really a full post, in my opinion. Two, I frequently do something that seems "blog worthy" but the daunting reality of taking and editing photos is very off-putting for me (I'm in it for the writing!) and a lot of times, things aren't really enough to make a whole post out of it. Not in 2016 anyway. Back in 2006, blogging was SO different. Just look at this post from Oh Happy Day. And what about this one from Cup of Jo? My how things have changed. These are now more on par with Facebook status updates. Some of these old posts might even fit into a Tweet! What will 2026 look like? Just for fun, here's one of my 2006 posts.

This week, we baked the New York Times' Original Plum Torte Recipe from 1983, pictured. My mom's friend has a huge Italian Plum tree that yields insane amounts of fruit every year. When she first brought me a box of like 70 plums, I'll admit I was a little overwhelmed, maybe even slightly annoyed? Coco ate a lot of them. I ate a few. And then, this glorious recipe showed up in my news feed. Holy moly. So easy, so simple, so absolutely delicious. I have enough plums to make three more and you better believe I'm baking all three today. Two will go in the freezer and one will be for the little patio pizza party we're having to celebrate my uncle (and mine and Coco's) birthdays tonight. If you have plums, make this torte. If you see plums at the farmers market, buy a dozen and make this torte! Be aware: I took ours out at 45 minutes. Watch it carefully. One of the commenters on the Times article said that she baked this during an open house to try to get her house to sell after it had been on the market for a while. And it sold! I totally believe it. It's that good.

Every time the Apple folks come out with a new iPhone, they have to come up with superlative phrasing to out-do the year before, which was the most spectacular thing ever, until now. But, this year, with the camera on the 7 Plus, they've actually really done something. I am hoping to get one for the camera alone. Let's be clear. I do not need a new phone and I should really be focused on the fact that our monthly bill will be dropping drastically now that our phones are "paid off". But, the camera!

Our kids are sick again, if you can believe it. This time it's a fever, cough and stuffy nose. Coco is (more or less) old enough for Children's Dimetapp, which absolutely saved us last night. Theo on the other hand is a nursing monster when he's sick. He called out "NAY! NAY!" all night long and chased me around doing the same all morning before his nap today. I really love that he has his own little word for nursing. Coco just called it milk! But, I was tired of hearing it by about 10 this morning. I think we may need to throw a pot of this on the stove. I've always made enchiladas with the chicken after making stock. What do you use it for? And doesn't this sound like the best stock of all time for a cold? I mean, yum.

So, something that took up a great deal of head space this week was coming to the realization that my family and friends, and just about everyone here who wasn't also in Switzerland (so everyone) does not understand that we are still reeling, grieving and suffering from the loss of it. It seems so completely obvious to me because I am the one who is sad and depressed and can't seem to escape those feelings on a day-to-day basis. But to everyone else, that is ancient history! Truly. We have been back in the US for over two years. But it still feels very fresh to us, even after all this time. So, I heard something that really struck me on that vein. I was reading a post on The Alison Show and she mentioned that Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project says, "What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while."

That really got to me because it speaks a lot to where we live and what our daily rituals are within our time and place. I think I miss a lot of the everyday aspects of Zurich much more than the big, spectacular, but also wonderful parts of living in Switzerland. I miss riding the tram and pushing the buggy around the city and shopping at our local Coop, where I could have done our shopping with my eyes closed! That's definitely one of the hardest parts for me.

And then I read this article about loss and grieving and it describes exactly how I've been feeling. And continue to feel. Jeez, seems like a dead horse by now, but this shit is hard and it is real. I think it's extra hard knowing it's still there. The decision to come back was our decision and it's not gone. How do you get closure when it's still there and we could just go back? Of course we couldn't go back to our same apartment and same life - Coco is older, we have Theo, etc. But, we wouldn't want to, either. The city itself, that's still there. Brutal.

Okay, enough rambling for this week. I'll leave you with this one last thing: Can you believe these beautiful photos taken down in subways? I love them all. I just realized I've never actually lived anywhere with a subway. Interesting.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. We are taking it easy and hopefully the kids will be over their cold by Sunday as we are planning to go back to Silverwood for the last nice day. Today is the last hot summery day. I've got my duvets airing out on our bedroom balcony and I'm excited to have the patio lights on tonight. See you back here Monday! xo

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Birthday Wish List

My birthday is less than two weeks away. And this year, I'm determined not to let it get swallowed up by Coco's birthday. That little darling was born two days after my birthday in 2011 and it's been a challenge to have our birthdays so close ever since. Yesterday, I finished planning her party, and now I'm ready to start thinking about my own.

Here's what's on my wishlist:

1. Smart, timeless blazer to wear with jeans and flats // 2. Glossier Boy Brow to give my brows some oomph // 3. Instax Polaroid Camera (and film!) because memories // 4. Slouchy Birkenstock booties for stomping through crunching leaves (I also love these) // 5. Dior Cheek & Lip Glow to have that flushed sick child look all winter long - minus the fever ;) // 6. L&J pillowcases I love that they say Good Night on the back // 7. A preorder copy of the new Domino book to flip through for inspiration // 8. A giant 1 liter size bkr bottle in the coolest new color // 9. The most striking Marimekko duvet covers to take us into winter

What's on your fall wish list? Or maybe you have a fall birthday, too? Apparently more people are born in September than any other month!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Roadmap for Making Major Life Decisions

J and I are at a really exciting place right now. We are busy as can be, and in total overdrive planning mode. I sort of love that burst of planning and excitement that comes along with fall. It's like the "other new year." So the biggest thing on our minds, aside from all of the responsibility and intensity of J's class schedule at the moment, is next year. Next fall. When our lives are officially back on track, and this long and strange detour is over. All things considered, this detour has worked out extraordinarily well. When I think of all that we've been through, I realize that these were big things we had thought we would do "someday." It reminds me of the Doris Lessing quote: Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible. Damn if she wasn't right. We knew we wanted to experience the house-and-yard-life in Spokane, we knew we wanted J to do this coursework, and while we didn't leave Zurich to set out and do those things initially, I'm grateful we ended up right here, right now, doing them.

Even still, there is a piece of me that is shellshocked and hesitant, because it hasn't been easy. That piece can make me doubt myself and my ability to make decisions at all.

After a bit of Googling, I wasn't coming up with any good roadmaps for making major life decisions, so I drew upon what I've learned over the past few years, mixed it up with some conventional wisdom and anecdotes I've collected, and I'm eager to share it with you. If you'd like to make your own, grab a notebook or paper, some pencils and pens and let's dive in.

A complete road map for making major life decisions, straight ahead!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Have a healthy weekend.

This week was the worst at our house! Coco and Theo had the nastiest stomach bug and projectiled all over the house. It was a flurry of laundry, bleach solution, Disney movies and lots and lots and lots of snuggling. Now, of course, I have the dreaded bug and I just want everyone to be healthy and to clean the entire house from top to bottom with Lysol. Ugh.

Aside from that, we're all feeling really happy and positive lately. I feel really free and optimistic these days. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the future is bright! How nice to be able to say that. :)

Here's a sampling of what caught my eye around the web this week:

Let's talk about teachers for a minute. It's shameful that 60% of American teachers work a second job just to get by! And, Uber is preying on that need? Sigh. We can do better, America!

Such good news!

Go ahead. Feel good.

Citizens of Humanity fortune cookies?!

Roald Dahl on kindness.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.

Happy to see that our Jenny Lind toddler bed when styled for a little boy totally works! (Theo will be getting it soon;)


Nobody saw you. (So good, I cried!)

I'm eyeing these fab chairs for a kids' room redo, including a play area!

Write your way out of an emotional funk.

Photo from the always beautiful Harrys Ding Instagram.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and stay healthy. It seems so early for these bugs to be circulating, but it's cold and feels like fall. Every year is different. Last year, it was summer well into October. What can you do? See you back here next week. xo

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How long can boy girl siblings share a room?

Since Theo was born, Coco and Theo have shared a room. Theo has the Stokke Sleepi, the same crib Coco slept in, and which we absolutely adore. And Coco has the Jenny Lind Toddler Bed. For the time being, Coco is still small enough to sleep in a toddler bed, which is great. But if she grows as much this year as she did last year, she definitely won't fit any longer! At some point, I supposed we'll have to take one panel off of Theo's crib to convert it to a toddler bed, but I'm holding out. 

At bedtime, they go to sleep in their own beds in their room, but I must admit that most mornings we still wake up with both of them in our bed! Theo cries, and without even fully waking up, I just go get him and snuggle up with him in our bed. Then, at some point, Coco stumbles in and snuggles up between me and J. Buying a king when I was pregnant with Theo was the best move ever. It literally takes up our entire bedroom, but we couldn't agree more that it's the best use of the space. I have always loved platform beds, but never considered why until I saw Swiss Miss's apartment tour. It's true that a low bed seems to take up way less space. Bonus!

So, next year is going to be a big year for our family. Coco will be kindergarten age and we have to start thinking about where we want her to go for elementary school. That might involve moving if she goes to public school here in Spokane. Then again, if she goes to Cataldo, where I went for elementary school, we could stay put as it's private and it doesn't matter where we live. But, if we stay put, this house only has two bedrooms. So that begs the question, how long can boy-girl siblings share a room. Or maybe the better question is how long will they stand for sharing a room? ;)

I got on Pinterest, and while I didn't find many ideas for boy-girl shared rooms, I did find some really gorgeous unisex rooms that I could totally see my kids loving. We already have that IKEA rug in their room, and how beautiful is this Oeuf bunk bed? I love the clean lines. But, space permitting, it might be better to have a twin over full bunk bed so a parent can comfort a sick child? Or, so a parent can go get some sleep when the children have invaded the big bed? Or, so the room can be converted for guests? So many options to consider.

We do not keep any toys in our kids' room. It is strictly for clothing storage, dressing and grooming, and sleeping. I really like the idea of Coco and Theo being able to share a room for at least a few more years. Of course children prefer to have their own rooms, and as time goes on, Coco is going to want to do more in her room than just sleep. But when space is at a premium for families living in the city or in apartments, it's not realistic for children to have their own room. Besides, sharing requires compromise and cooperation in children. There is everything good about it.

Did you share a room growing up? What about your kids? How long can a brother and sister share a room? Tell me all about it in the comments below! 

(Bunk photo via Decoholic, Foot-to-foot beds photo via Apartment Therapy)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Have a brilliant weekend.

The pools have been drained, Coco started school, and this morning we woke up to rain. Goodbye, summer. It was wonderful. It was quick. And it was the only thing standing between us and J's last year of his program, which is now underway. Hooray! As much as I love summer, I can't regret that we are this much closer to our next chapter. Bring on fall!

So, here's a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week and a few things I wanted to share with you:

Delicious for a cool rainy day.

Theo's favorite birthday present of all.

The threat we all hope is a promise!

The grim reality of housing in Portland.

...and Brooklyn. (Ha;)

Get it done.

In a world of pure imagination.

Living (very) small in Paris.

Eyeing this darling top for Coco.

Muslim women speak out following the Burkini bans.

Best new mom post ever!

The place for Swisssick Americans.

Exactly what makes that song so catchy.


Have a wonderful weekend! It's Labor Day here in the States, so Monday is a day off of work for most people, but I'll see you back here Tuesday. xo

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Experience Montana

Last month, J and I went away for a night without our kids for the first time ever. Think about that. Since the day Coco was born, we've never been away together without at least one child. So, it was incredibly wonderful, and relaxing, and also surprising...

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