Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mommy Bootcamp

I am in such awe of my little boy.


It feels like the first 4-5 months with him were Mommy Bootcamp. They were hard, and they were strenuous, and they took just about everything that I had. And then, I apparently not only passed but graduated, and I've been rewarded with this happy, smiley, giggly joy of a child, who even seems to be sleeping through the night except my brain won't even really acknowledge or recognize that fact b/c part of me still fears that if I celebrate it, it will stop.

Today Cristina and I went into town to meet up with the other Geneva housewives at the Cafe des Bastions. Donovan smiled and flirted with other bus passengers the entire way in on the bus. He did get a bit fussy while we sat at the cafe, as it was nearing naptime, but other than that he did quite well and he had a grand ole time trying to eat my water bottle (he first tried to go after Cristina's Coke Light, but we told him he wasn't allowed to have any till he's older). That was actually the first time he'd reached to grab and mouth something that we were holding and eating/drinking out of, which I'm taking as confirmation that he may be getting ready for solid foods. =P

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Rive area, then down by the water and checking out some of the lakeside festivities in the Jardin Anglais. We tried getting crepes but apparently we were just too early for the stands to serve any, but we did snag some illegal candy (they're not allowed to open and sell before a certain time, but then one of the guys in charge walked away from the stand and so the women let us buy our bagful anyway). The entire time D was happy as could be. You wouldn't even have known we had an infant with us, had it not been for the loud BLABLABLABLABLABLA coming from his stroller. Then we'd look at him and laugh at the racket he was making, and he'd take a break from his babbling and trying to get his foot into his mouth to flash that irresistible smile and dimple at us. When we finally got on the bus to come back home he smiled at us for a bit, then drifted off to sleep, not waking till we reached the front door.

Do you see what I mean about my super amazing wonderchild?

Zach came home a bit after we got here, and then we all went up the road a bit for the Fete des Pompiers in our village. D didn't last too long, though, as it was rapidly approaching his bedtime. So I brought him back home, and he started fussing a bit as I laid him on his changing table to get him ready for bed, but then I smacked my lips at him, an immitation of this funny thing he's started doing lately, and that just cracked him up and he smiled, giggled, and babbled through most of the bedtime routine after that. I read him a bedtime poem, gave him just a bit to eat, and then laid him down on his bed and laid down beside him to sing him a lullaby. He looked over at me and smiled this joyful smile as I sang to him, a smile that melts my heart every time because it is so directly a response to me, and he watched my face and reached out to touch my mouth, and I think this is one of the favorite parts of my day because of how engaged and enthralled he is by me. It's one of those moments that truly makes you feel like a Mother. And then I pulled the string on his musical giraffe toy, turned off the lights, and from down here a few minutes later I hear nothing. My guess is that when I go up there in a minute to check on him, he'll be turned over on his tummy, thumb in his mouth, possibly with one arm over his giraffe, sleeping soundly. I will look down on him, his sweet little body, and wonder to myself how I ever got to be so lucky.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

Shortly after D's birth we broke down and hired a woman to come clean our house twice a month. It has been quite wonderful in many ways. It's been great to have someone else come in and vacuum away all the dustbunnies that threaten to take over the house after just a week or 2, and to clean the bathrooms, and just make everything look... nice. In other ways it's been a bit of a pain in the butt, though, like how for the 3+ hours that she comes I feel like a guest in my own house, having to work around where she's working, or the annoying aspect of how she tends to put things away and de-clutter, which is great, except that she puts things away in a different place every time and so on more than one occasion I have spent 20 minutes searching for something that she put away and that I have no idea where it went. She also kept spending more and more time cleaning, going from the agreed-upon 3 hours a visit and creeping up to 4+. Unfortunately since the only language we have in common is French, and neither of us is all that proficient in it, our communication abilities are also limited and thus it's hard to talk about these things, or at least I feel kinda intimidated to try. I did get her to use the Ecover cleaning solution I bought instead of her usual products, which has at least succeeded in our house not smelling like a chemical plant every time she came over.

(Yes, I realize I'm complaining about having someone come to my house and do my dirty work. What's that I was saying the other day about feeling like a yuppie?)

Last week Zach and I were talking about some different things like when we may want to think about buying a house and what we'd have to do in order to do so. We have a bit of a dream of returning to Europe in 5-10 years for another stint, but in the longer-term we do love California and would like to settle there if we can. The limiting factor there being mainly housing, as in being able to afford one. We've been doing pretty well with putting away savings since we married, but we still have a ways to go as we're set on wanting to be able to put 20% down on any home we buy, and I don't know if you've done the calculations lately but 20% on a $500k+ home is, like, a whole crapload of cash.

So, looking at our expenses we tried to find some things to cut, and one of them is our cleaning lady. With the stretching of working hours she's gotten to be more expensive than we originally thought, and now that D has gotten a lot more manageable and I don't feel like a zombie anymore (at least most days) it feels like cleaning house ourselves wouldn't be that big of a deal. Especially if we set aside particular times and dates to do so. Part of me figures we'll be more motivated to do this now, thanks to the combination of a) a soon-to-be-mobile baby who'll be getting into everything and my god do I need to be vacuuming the rugs every day??, and b) some days if you had the choice between cleaning toilets and dealing with a infant, you'd hand him off in a second and grab the scrub brush.

In a related note, I'm also considering switching over to using more natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar. I love me some Method, and I probably would still want to use some of their products when we move back, but baking soda is also mighty cheap and green. I even came across an article online today about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar, instead of shampoo and conditioner, for washing your hair. I don't know how well it would actually work, but I'm reading a good bit of happy experiences with it and it's not something I'm opposed to trying. Funny how having a kid makes you think more about the products you use in your home, their impact both on you and your family directly and also on the environment, long-term.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photos: The Farm

I've been wasting spending lots of time on lately. I saw a friend the other day who was wearing one of these bird nest necklaces and it looked so cute, and I just may have to get one for myself. Or maybe I'll show it to Donovan and he can get it for me for my birthday. =P Along with maybe this one, too. Because they're both so purty. I'm thinking a high percentage of my future jewelry purchases may come from etsy. There's so many gorgeous creations there, and it's quite the nice idea to help support individuals rather than big corporations. Yes, even if that big corporation is my beloved Target.

Zach came home a bit early so we took D down to a spot by a stream nearby and hung out there for a bit. He didn't think too much of the water, but then he was lying down on Zach's lap and was having a grand ole time and I got some really really adorable pictures of him.

Not a whole lot else to say, so instead I'll share a few pictures from Saturday, at Jonathan's family farm.

the farm

the farm

the farm

the farm

the farm

Monday, July 28, 2008

You know it's bad when it takes you longer to think of a title than it did to write the actual post

Cristina arrived safe and sound yesterday morning. Her suitcase decided to be fashionably late, but eventually it showed, too. Donovan has seemed quite pleased to have his aunt here. Although we think he may also be wondering where the rest of the entourage is, and why they didn't all come together as a set like last time.

We haven't been up to much these past 2 days, yesterday we kinda hung out at home letting Cristina get used to the time difference (and play with her absurdly adorable nephew). Today a few girlfriends came out and we all had lunch at the restaurant next door. I've been meaning to have people out here for that for a while, so it was good to have it actually happen. Later this week we're thinking about going to Montreux for a day, and maybe another day trip before Zach leaves town on Sunday.

D turns 6 months in, like, a week. Holy cow. We have his 6 month check-up on the 7th, I think, and I think after talking things over with our pediatrician we'll probably get him started on solid foods. I'm excited, and also kinda anxious as it's a whole 'nother endeavor to think about on a daily basis, but you know I can't wait to see what he thinks of avocados and bananas. =P He hasn't been reaching out to try to grab our food yet, but he does seem to stare me down when I eat in front of him and I swear he starts moving his mouth as if chewing and almost licking his lips, so he might be getting ready for this. Eek, my little boy is growing up!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Today was just... lovely. Zach, Donovan, and I, along with 2 other couples and a family of 4, spent the day at a friends' family farm outside Neuchatel. The farmhouse was adorable, and has been in his family for 300 years. Talk about history. Within minutes of arriving 3 of us had our fancy-pants cameras out, capturing pictures of the house, flowers, hairy scottish cows, etc. We had a great time chatting, joking, eating, laughing, playing with the 2 young boys from the other family, and watching the others get drunk. ; ) The 2 boys, by the way, ages I think 4 and 6, LOVED Donovan and played with him quite a bit. Very cute. =) D did great, too, hanging out and enjoying the attention, and dealing pretty well with sleeping in a strange, new place.

Everyone else stayed at the house overnight, but we drove back so we could spend the night here to pick up Cristina at the airport in the morning. Looking forward to a fun next 2 weeks with my sister in town. =)

Wow, I'm working on uploading photos from the camera and, um, wow I took a lot of pictures today.... lol It is also approaching 1am, and thus time for bed. Goodnight.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Today I discovered the Digital Photography School forums, and, well, that's where a lot of today's free time went.

That, and creating myself a photo gallery on Imagekind. Not that I expect anyone to actually buy anything off there, out, you know, it's out there. In case anyone happens to come across it and be interested. It's free, can't hurt. ; )

Donovan and I had a good day today, he started doing this thing where he opens and closes his mouth as if he's chewing and he totally reminds me of an old man, and it's kind of hilarious. I got video of it, though I'm ridiculously behind on uploading videos to youtube so it might be a while. Hey, I finally am all caught up with putting up the trip (and subsequent) photos on flickr, so we're making progress, slowly but surely.

Tomorrow should be a fun, if perhaps long, day. We'll be spending the day up in Neuchatel, going to a friend's family farm to help celebrate a recent wedding. We'll then drive home after dinner, hope that the late evening doesn't disrupt D's sleeping patterns too badly, and then go greet Cristina at the airport Sunday morning! She'll be here for 2 weeks, yay!

And now I need to get myself to bed, b/c I keep staying up way too late after D goes to sleep, and that's a bad BAD habit that I really need to break.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This may move us up another notch or 2 on the yuppie-meter

I bought a new stroller today.

Funny thing is, up till yesterday morning the thought of buying a stroller hadn't even crossed my mind. I'm still quite happy with our first stroller, it's served us wonderfully these past several months, and even though it's already showing a bit of wear and tear (quite appropriate, really, for everything we've put it through) I think it'll still last a bit longer. However, it is quite big. And bulky. And heavy. And when I take it into town I have to rely on someone to help me in and out of the trams, which usually isn't a problem, but it does often deter me from going to certain parts of Geneva if I know that I'll have to take buses that have several steps to get on and off them.

But, again, I hadn't really thought about any of this till yesterday. I'd gone to Orchestra to see about using up a remaining gift certificate there, and as I was perusing I glanced at some Maclaren strollers on display. Hmm, not a bad price, actually. And look how light and small it seems. So I went home and did some research, and within a few hours I was CONVINCED that we NEEDED to buy one of these new strollers. Sure, we only have a couple months left in Geneva, but it would make outings into town easier, and even back home going to Target would be nicer if I had a small, sub-10lb stroller to gently put in the trunk rather than hoisting our current 20+lb model.

So Zach and I talked about it that night, and I convinced him, and so off I went today to purchase our new contraption. ; )

After looking at the models online I had originally set out to get the Triumph, since it has a reclining backrest. I spent a couple hours today shuffling around 3 different stores trying to get the best deal, and after some thought and price-comparing I wound up going with the Volo instead. The reclining aspect didn't seem enough to justify the extra cost, especially when considering that the underbasket in inaccessible (and thus, kinda useless) when the seat's reclined. I also found the visor to be a bit nicer on the Volo (more coverage). With the gift certificate the price came out to be lower even than what it would've cost in the US (wheeee!). And yes, I do realize I could've gotten a perfectly good umbrella stroller for under $50 at Target, but really the basket and the sun visor are pretty valuable perks. There were some other brands in the stores that I looked at, but they were about the same price for the same features and Maclaren has quite a name, it seems, and thus I'm trusting it.

I'd purposely taken D into town in a sling so that I could start using the new stroller right away, and my goodness... was that awesome. It felt like I was hardly pushing any weight at all, and I could easily lift the entire stroller with D in it to get on and off the bus. It's just simpler to manage around town, bottom line. So I'm pretty happy right now. I still see quite a lot of usability to our big stroller, but it will be quite nice having this smaller, lighter option to use when I deem it necessary.

New stroller

And, as you can tell from the picture, D seems to like it quite a bit as well. =P

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Zach and I were recently talking randomly about pipe dreams, how some people seem to dream up these wild schemes that never really pan out. Whether this is an inherently bad trait, I don't think I can pass judgement on, as I imagine most of us have wild dreams that we nurture that we may not even reveal to others, as in the very backs of our minds we may know we may never actually accomplish them.

However it got me thinking, and realizing for the first time, or perhaps just in a conscious way for the first time, that I have the opposite problem. I don't dream big. Sure, I've done some great and cool things, moving to Switzerland being one of them, but those came about because I happen to be married to a dreamer.

In college I entered the Honors program, which allowed me to take really interesting classes that were limited to about 20 people each. I found these classes fascinating most of the time. But I didn't graduate with the Honors credential, mainly because that would have required writing a thesis. And somehow I believed that was beyond my abilities. And this is where the big realization part comes in, as I've noticed before that I often shy away from demanding opportunities and assumed a lot of it was due to laziness on my part, not wanting to put forth the effort required. But I think it goes deeper than that, to not thinking I had it in me, that I wouldn't be good enough to complete the task in a satisfactory manner. It comes down to even silly, dumb things, like how I enjoy taking photographs and think I actually do a decent job yet feel too shy to add "photography" as a hobby or interest on myspace because I don't want to seem full of myself or like I think I'm that good (I mean, c'mon, doesn't everyone wanna be a photographer? What makes me think I'm special?).

Ever since going through the Montessori teacher training I've thought about how cool it would be to open up my own school one day. But I hesitate from making it an actual goal of mine, because of the magnitude of what that would entail-- getting credentials for being a director, building up enough cash to buy materials, finding a home for my school, teachers, students, etc. It all seems like too much. I'm still not quite prepared to make this a life goal, but it's certainly something to let simmer in the back of my mind for a while.

I remember a high school teacher telling me at the end of the semester that I needed to speak up more, as I often knew the right answers but felt too unsure of myself and thus assumed I was wrong. I think I've come a long way from back then, but clearly I do still have some work to do. Realizing that I often sell myself short is a big step. Acknowledging the challenges that I have faced and succeeded at, such as my education, the Avon Walk a few years ago (both the physical aspect of training and walking, and raising over $3,000), and, hell, motherhood, is another. Now I need to keep these pieces of information with me always, as a reminder to go for it when I find myself thinking, "No, I couldn't possibly do that."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Explosion of Cuteness

We tried taking D swimming today. It didn't quite work. But my god did he look ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS in his swimsuit and hat. =P

Today was a pretty good day. I'm almost scared to even blog about this, b/c it seems that as soon as I acknowledge good things to the interweb Donovan's tide changes, but here goes: he's been pretty great lately. Yes, we have fussy moments and even days where he's kinda cranky (still waiting for those teeth to pop through... any day now....). But for the most part, he's been a doll. A big part of this is that he seems to have figured out this going to sleep bit. Where as we used to have up to 10-15 minutes of fairly hard crying most nights, all of a sudden we now get maybe a minute or 2, then perhaps a bit of whimpering, and then he's out. We've been able to do the same for naps, too, which is incredible, and honestly I swear he's going to sleep faster than when I'd spend what felt like forever rocking him to sleep. Now I'm afraid that tomorrow he'll not go to sleep since I've announced it... but man. Not having that worry of, "Ok, is he tired? Is he tired enough to actually go to sleep if I try to make him? Am I gonna spend the next 30 minutes pacing the room holding him?" is a huge weight off my chest and a big relief to my day. I actually folded and put away laundry and unloaded the dishwasher today in the times when he was playing quietly in his bed before drifting off to sleep.

My friend Sara came over today for a bit. I don't even remember when was the last time she saw D, but he was certainly much smaller at the time. I haven't seen her myself in what feels like ages so it was nice to catch up.

Then after D woke up from a nap at about 4pm I texted Celine, whom I knew was staying at her mom's just up the road today, and asked if she'd mind us stopping by for a bit. She messaged back that she was just typing out a text to see if we'd join her and Arthus down by the pool. So off we went, me excited to get a chance to put D in his new swimsuit (he actually has 2 new suits, one of them is a baby speedo-style that I could not resist. I'll need to put the other on and take pictures in case he doesn't get many more swims this season...). Unfortunately once we got to the pool we realized that the wind was just chilly enough to keep us from swimming. In fact it was chilly enough that both boys were in pants and sweaters before long. But they had fun hanging out anyway, and I got an adorable video of Donovan pawing Arthus all over his head (just as he does with me when I'm nursing him... I guess that's his way of saying hi to people). ; ) I have some cute pictures of the 2 of them hanging out together on their blanket, but blogger keeps uploading them sideways for some strange reason so I guess y'all can just wait till I get around to putting them up on flickr.

And with that, I bid you all a good night...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Perfect Sunday

We've had a good bit of gorgeous, sunny weather lately, which has been incredible and wonderful and I hope it continues. Zach hung out with Donovan most of the morning, bringing him to me for feedings but otherwise letting me have a bit of time to myself. It was quite nice, let me tell you... Then he and I took D on a walk early this afternoon and got to watch storm clouds roll in and the wind pick up, it was really cool watching the clouds gather and change, and then we got home about 10 minutes before the downpour started. The crazy thing was then after maybe half an hour of hard rain, it stopped and the sun came back out again. It was like a Texas storm.

Jonathan and Jessica came by for "tea" (really, orange banana juice and apricot pecan cake-- the juice made and brought by them, the cake imported by us from the Collin Street Bakery) right around the time the storm broke. We had a great time catching up with them, as usual, talking about their recent wedding, her trip to Sardigna, their move to Texas next year and how great it'll be to see them when we go home to visit other family. Next weekend we should be going to his family's farm for a post-wedding celebration, something I'm really looking forward to (despite the potential for trouble that accompanies attempted travel with an infant).

Then in the evening Celine, Laurent, and little Arthus stopped by for dinner. We set Arthus and Donovan down on the floor facing each other, and it was absolutely adorable watching them study each other's faces. I got plenty of pictures, don't worry, and a short video, too. We all took turns juggling our respective babies as they turned from cheerful to more sour moods, switching back and forth from English to French as the conversations went on. It was a great dinner and I hope we're able to do this again before we leave. Celine and Laurent mentioned wanting to do a family vacation out in California, and it would be wonderful if they did so as I'd love to see them out there and I do hope we keep in touch.
Today is the 20th, meaning we now have just under 2 months left here. I've started making a list of electronics that we need to get rid of, since they won't work in the US, and am trying to think of what else we can do to prepare now, as I know time will only fly by from here on out. I will post that list here, as well as send it on to a few groups of friends here, in hopes of coming across someone who may happen to be moving to Geneva right around the time we leave and will want our stuff (gosh that would be nice).

It still seems surreal to think that we soon won't be living here anymore. I will be sad to leave, and am motivated to make plans to see friends here more often in the next several weeks. Today was just so nice, catching up with friends, and soon we'll be half a world away from all these wonderful people.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

six word sunday: Peace talks are currently in progress

"So we agree on the terms?"

six word sunday challenge

Of Cats and Babies

At some point today Sierra threw up a hairball on our bed. I'm gonna take it as her being freaked out about the cleaning lady being here this afternoon as opposed to her being pissed off at us about this whole baby thing. Sierra's had it pretty easy so far, what with Donovan pretty much being a lump that we just carried around but didn't bother her much, instead providing her with all sorts of fun new sleeping spots (car seat, bassinet, stroller seat, bouncy chair, etc). She even often jumped up on our laps when we were holding D, or when I'd be nursing him, and seem for the most part oblivious of the baby right next to her.

But now D is getting more active, more curious... and extremely interested in Sierra. He'll watch her from across the room, engrossed. And I think it's starting to worry her. She still walks almost right by him when he's on the floor (I think those are times when we're lying on the floor, too, and her desire to try to get petted by us overrides any aversion to the babe). But she also seems to get a bit more worried about him when, say, we're all hanging out in bed in the morning or whatnot. Today I was holding D kinda close to her and she batted at his hand once (I don't think there were any claws present), which landed her a nice swat on the head from me. I've been kinda lax about the 2, so the incident this morning was a bit of a reality check and reminder never to leave the 2 unattended even briefly, especially as D transitions into being a bit more mobile (and Sierra a bit more of an interesting target).

Zach was off hiking today, went to the Valais with a couple visiting coworkers. He just got back a little bit ago, had a great time. Luckily D was in pretty good moods today so it wasn't a big deal to be on my own all day, and I know days out in nature have a very soothing effect on Zach so I'm glad it all worked out. Though I did tell him he may be on Donovan duty a lot of tomorrow. ; )

Friday, July 18, 2008

If only Geneva were like this every day....

I did go out last night, met up with the other moms at Cafe Cuba. It's good to have a reason to get dressed up and go out every once in a while. I got to talk to some moms that I haven't seen at the group in a while, and overall I'm pretty glad I went. Didn't stay out very late, I was home by about 11:30pm, just in time to get ready for bed and then give D a feeding as he woke up. I've been developing a bad habit of staying up that late anyway, just with dinner and spending time with Zach and then internetting and all, so I didn't really lose much potential sleep, even.

Zach and I had appointments to go see the dentist this afternoon. He took off half the day from work and we went down there with D, marveling at what a gorgeous day today was. You really come to appreciate the sun when at least half the days are spent in dreary rain. I am happy to report that my teeth are in good condition, though my gums not so much, and predictably it kinda hurt to eat for the next few hours just from general soreness. Oh well. Not that I've been that diligent with dental health the past, oh 5 months (hmm wonder why).

Afterwards we hung out by the water a bit, sat at one of the stands along Quai de Mont Blanc and had a drink while D napped in his stroller, watching the alternately luxe and Euro-white trash crowds walk by (most notable was a group of 3 young women dressed to, uh, impress, with one of them wearing a loosely-crocheted white tank with nothing underneath). Eventually we figured we should be heading back home, but not before attempting a quick COOP grocery run while I tried to entertain D (who was growing less pleased with the situation as time went on, but then seemed satisfied chewing on a bag of granola).

And now, the kiddo is asleep and we're enjoying a lovely dinner that Zach made and trying to ignore the horde of flies that is trying to take over our house (god I miss screened windows and doors, I don't care that they're uglier). All in all, a pretty good Friday, I'd say. Well, you know, despite the time sent in the torture dentist chair.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whoa, TWO outings into Geneva in one day?

I took D into town today to meet up with the girls for lunch. He did pretty well on the bus rides there and back, always a relief. We got into town a bit early so I stopped by a toy store and bought him some more fun wooden toys and a couple of these cute plush toys that and go on his wrist. I put them on the lap bar of his stroller and he had quite a time playing with them through the first part of lunch. He then started getting tired and upset, and so we left, proving that my decision to eat at home and not order anything at the cafe had been a wise one.

The mothers group I go to has their monthly ladies night out tonight. I'm exhausted and probably should stay home so I can go to bed, but I have yet to make it out to one of these nights (the last 3 have taken place while Zach was out of town), and my last chance to get out on my own was about 6 weeks ago for SAtC (well, ok, not counting a few opportunities in Texas), so I feel like I really should go to this one. Though I doubt I'll stay very long. The kiddo might be waking up around 11 or midnight, so...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey, Pandora, is this your box?

D has been so easy-going lately, being happy hanging out on the floor, rolling around, grabbing his toys, etc. It's been pretty great. Which is why then today hit me like a ton of bricks. It started overnight last night. I don't think D's sleep was much worse than it's been but for some reason it felt like it-- like his crying started up again as soon as my head hit the pillow, my watch being the only proof that, yes, 3 hour did actually pass by already. Then the day itself... I don't know if it was teething pain or something else bugging him. I could distract him into smiles and even some giggles if I worked hard enough, but otherwise he resumed his fussiness, and by the afternoon I was resorting to lots of comfort nursing in order to get him to sleep, something I haven't needed to use in a while. The poor guy kept putting his hands in his mouth and tugging at his ears (which he's been doing off and on for a week or so, and I wondered if he might have an ear infection but they checked out completely fine at his check-up last week). Then Zach came home and of course D was in a great mood for that last hour before bedtime (showing off for dad). I did worry that putting him down would be rough tonight, as he was pretty cranky again by the time we went through his bedtime routine, but to my surprise (and great relief) he quieted down and fell asleep in less than 5 minutes.

We've been letting him put himself to sleep at bedtime for a few weeks now, and it's been going ok. I'd rather there be no crying involved, but most nights there's still some-- between 5 and 15 minutes. I hate to listen to it, but honestly when I think of what it usually took for us to get him to go to sleep I do honestly think he's spending less time crying overall. I still go to him when he wakes during the night as I don't want to deny him food if he's hungry, and then even if he wakes a little at the end of the feeding 99.9% of the time he goes back to sleep with no problems. I think I mentioned already about wondering what to do with his night feedings, if he really needs so many or if I've "trained" him to stay hungry, but I'm also not quite prepared to take action on that quite yet. I realize we're kinda not following the usual "cry it out" routine by rocking him to sleep at naps and going to him in the middle of the night, and maybe those are mistakes that are/will bite us in the ass, but as weird as it might sound I'm not ready to let him cry it out at those other times yet, and Zach and I are also not prepared to go back to rocking him to sleep at bedtime. I think we need, and deserve, that nighttime break and to actually spend time together as opposed to tag-teaming on Operation: Sleeping Baby for indefinite amounts of time each night. I'm always a bit nervous bringing up this issue as the whole "cry it out" thing is so controversial and I'm sure some of you disagree with it and might even think less of me as a mom for going that route. But so far this routine seems to be working for us, and as long as D continues to be happy and healthy, both physically and emotionally, and Zach and I remain mostly sane, I think that's all that really matters.

Long tangent aside, today left me beat, and so while I had hoped to catch up on my 365donovan project on flickr (haven't updated in 3 weeks), I think it's probably wiser for me to hit the sack, and hope for a better, calmer day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yay for Blue Skies

Zach was still home this morning when D woke up, so we got to have a bit of family time before getting our day started. I then took advantage of the opportunity and took a shower while Zach and Donovan hung out on the bed. Sneaking glances at them, they looked heartbreakingly adorable, Zach smiling down at D and D reaching up and touching his daddy's face with his fingers. But then D noticed me off to the side and fixed his gaze on me... and wouldn't look away. I don't know if it was him starting to get hungry or what, but it was cute and also a bit unnerving at the same time, having him just stare me down. I guess he knows him mommy (and food source) when he sees her.

The morning revealed a gorgeous blue, cloudless sky. This was not an opportunity to be missed. The baby talk group has started meeting up at different parks in town, so I figured I'd get out of the house with D and get some time playing in the grass while chatting with other moms. Turned out the other moms were busy. We showed up a little after 10am, which was still on the early-ish side so I figured I'd wait a bit and others would show (the official meeting time is 10a-12p). I found us a spot in the shade and spread out our blanket and Donovan seemed to have a fun time of hanging out looking at the grass and trees and things. We then walked around in the park a bit, and then he ate, and soon it was just past 11am and still no one was around. So I started walking towards the exit, and that's when I ran into Sarah with her kiddoes, Nila and Jonas. So I stuck around chatting with her for a bit, which was nice, She's the one that I met on my first time to go to the baby talk group, and we shared a due date, Jonas was born I think just 1 week after Donovan. She's a really warm and welcoming person, also very down-to-earth and, well, the kind of person that, if we were staying here longer, and if we lived a little closer together (she lives a little ways into France), I could easily see becoming good friends with. We had a good time hanging out and had lunch together at the cafe next to the playground, and then D started getting fussy and needing a nap so I brought us on home.

I suspect that D might be having some teething pains again, though they seem to come and go throughout the day (the past 2 days it's seemed to bother him most in the early afternoon...?). I swear I feel a hard lump right under one of the spots on his gums where his first teeth should be coming up, but I have no idea what that really means. The great thing is he now can hold his own teethers, so that helps a good bit, although I've also tried giving them to him chilled and he doesn't seem to like that at all. I also have some teething gel and teething tablets (as well as good ole baby Tylenol), and while I'm not crazy about the idea of using medication on him especially for something that has no clear end in sight, it's nice to at least have the options there in case he really needs it.

Zach actually came home from work kinda early today, and the weather was still gorgeous outside, so we decided to test our luck and take the kiddo next door for a dinner out on the patio. I figured he'd done so well this morning at the park, he might continue being in good spirits. Unfortunately he kinda got cranky, I think from a combination of tiredness and sore gums, and so I ate quickly while Zach tried to entertain him, and then I brought him back home to get ready for bed. Oh well, it was worth a try, and that is part of the benefit of the restaurant being right next door. I think the baby monitor might even work out on their patio, so we may try to go over sometime after D's gone to bed.

Speaking of going to bed, it's time I did the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guess who learned a new trick today?



"So what if I like to suck on my toes??"

He's been reaching and grabbing his toes for a little while, but today was the first time he actually brought them all the way up to his mouth. I think he's quite proud of himself.

PS- He's also rolling over!! I first saw him roll from back to tummy about 2 days ago, although Zach claims it didn't count b/c D hadn't yet figured out how to get his arm out from under him after rolling (I say it TOTALLY counted). But then today he did it again, no questions-- he was playing on his back on the floor, and when I looked at him again a couple minutes later he was on his tummy, both arms free and everything! I then clapped and made a big fuss and he looked at me like, "What, did something happen?"

One last cool Donovan story-- I gave him a "bath" today, again sitting him in his little bath chair and spraying him down with the detachable shower head, and all of a sudden I noticed that he was purposefully moving his hands and feet into the water stream. I'd move the shower head to one side, and he'd put his hand right in it again. Same thing with his feet. He had that really concentrated look on his face the whole time, too, it was adorable... and very cool. =P

Sunday, July 13, 2008

happy go lucky

We've had a pretty nice weekend, in spite of all the rain. Celine and Laurent stopped by with little Arthus this afternoon so we took a walk with them around the village. It was good catching up with Celine, trading notes on our little ones. Arthus is 1 month younger than D, and was born 1-2 lbs smaller, but has just about caught up with him size-wise. It's fun to see them actually notice each other and take interest, as at first D seemed totally oblivious of this other baby in the past. It's a shame that we won't get to see our boys grow up a bit more together, but hopefully (weather-permitting) we'll have a couple visits to the pool together before we leave.

D has been in such great moods this week... I keep waiting for it to change. The world seems so much more interesting and enthralling to him now that he's able to interact with it more. Our neighbors offered to lend us a walker that they bought for one of their grandkids a couple years ago, and I bet D would love it but alas I just don't feel comfortable letting him cruise on wheels on these smooth wood and stone floors.

We're still battling sleep issues. I'm wondering if I should step in to try to instill some sort of a sleep shcedule for him, or continue sitting back and letting him do his thing. His naps are all over the place-- still usually the same length (about 45 mins) but sometimes he seems exhausted after just 1 hour of being awake and other times goes 2 or 3 hours with no problems. I also wonder if I should try to phase out or spread out night feedings at all, or leave it alone (I don't expect him to sleep 12 hours without eating, but surely he should be able to go more than 3-4 hours between night feeds?).

We've been opening the doors more often on days when it's nice, which is great except it means that flies are coming into the house. Flies that then buzz around your head. And land on your arm. And shoulder. And then in your hair. And they're really, really, really annoying. And unfortunately I'm terrible at wielding a fly swatter. At least they only live a few days at a time...

six word sunday: So many books, still no answers.

So many books, still no answers.

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Photos: East Texas

My step-dad organized a family reunion for his and my mom's kids at a resort out in East Texas. That's where we spent the first full weekend of our time in the US. Here's a few pics:

Holly Lake
Philip and Ryan playing with Donovan.

Holly Lake
Ryan was so excited to see her cousin, it was beyond adorable. I thought she might get over the excitedness after a day or 2, realizing that babies don't really do much after all, but nope! During thr whole weekend, and the rest of the week that she was in Austin with us, wherever Donovan went, she wanted to go, too.

Holly Lake
My sisters playing Mastermind.

Holly Lake
We let Joey baby-sit one night. She did pretty well.

Holly Lake

Holly Lake
"Don't tell Aunt Jenny, but I just pooped...."

Holly Lake
Lindsey playing with D, after a dip in the lake.

Holly Lake
We HAD to make a stop in Corsicana, TX, to check out this infamous fruitcake bakery.

And the kind-of annual family photo:
We've been taking these shots since... well, I think the first one I remember was taken the day before Zach and I got married, so that was 4.5 years ago. This time we included Zach's parents, and my dad (way in the back there) since they joined us for the weekend. Unfortunately Cristina's new husband was not able to make it in time for the picture... hopefully we do an update at christmas-time and get him in, too. Unfortunately we're not always great about planning ahead for these, which is why half the people are wearing matching black shirts... and the other half aren't. Ah well, it lends a cool effect anyway, no? ; ) (btw my step-brother- the one holding Joey- and his wife are pregnant, so D will be getting another cousin later this year!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slight Change of Plans

The discussion of when we'd be moving back to the US only just crossed from hypothetical to "Ok, what dates are we really talking about here?" a couple months ago. We were somewhat torn about it, but we eventually settled on a move-back date of November of this year, a time that seemed to work well for us personally as well as for Zach's current work projects.

Zach has been debating what his next career move would be, particularly for after the move. He'd talked about going for a MBA, either on the side or more full-time. He also was interested in a position that would soon be opening up in California (with the same company he works for now). As has often been the case for him, he felt pulled by different goals, some of which conflicted with each other.

One night while I was in Texas and he in California working for a few days, he called me with some news and an option. We were to discuss it briefly, think about it overnight, and then decide by morning. He'd been interviewing for that position at work, and the news was that his boss was about to offer it to him but with the disclaimer that it would mean moving back August 1 of this year-- much sooner than anticipated, just a mere 3 weeks after returning from our trip to Texas. As I thought about it, that date just seemed way too soon. We'd have to immediately start packing everything up. My parents and brother have also been planning a trip to visit us this September, and while I knew they'd still have a good trip without us there and my mom insisted not to let those plans influence our decision, I didn't feel right just up and leaving before then. Zach agreed with me, and so the August move date went off the table.

Zach then called me back the next night. He and his boss had talked some more and come up with a compromise-- a move-back date of mid/late September (after the family visits), with Zach spending 2 weeks in the US in August to help make up for the later start. I still didn't like this idea that much-- two weeks by myself with Donovan? The longest I've gone without Zach's help before was 5 days, and that had been hard enough. At the same time Zach had grown to really want this new opportunity at work, it seemed like the right "next step" for him, and if it's important enough for him then I want to be supportive even if that means making some immediate sacrifices (as I would expect him to do for me if I were faced with an opportunity that I felt I couldn't pass up). And aside from this initial 2 week trip away, this new job would mean less travel overall in the long-term.

So, long story short, Zach took the job. Our move-back date is tentatively set for September 19 of this year. He'll spend the first 2 weeks of August back in California. We've arranged to use frequent flyer miles to get my sister to come over to visit us at that time-- she'll be here 2 weeks, overlapping with Zach 1 week and then keeping me and D company the next. I'll only have 1 week on my own, which barring health disasters or crappy baby moods should be doable, especially if I get better at asking for help from the many friends who have offered it.

In some ways it's a bit of a shock to think we have less than 3 months left here, that we need to start making preparations for the move pretty soon, to think of everything that will need to be done in the following months. But having also just returned from spending time with family, and longing to do so more often, this does feel like the right thing to do.

Also? This means D gets to spend his first Halloween in the US. Meaning I get to dress him up in a cute costume. Random, I know, but I honestly was a little bit sad thinking of a Nov 1 moving date, as that would've meant we would've just missed the holiday, which is one of my favorites. =P

She'll be comin' 'round the mountain....

We have some dear friends in California who should be at this moment in the beginning stages of labor, hopefully. She was scheduled to go in for an induction last night, and is hoping for little Sophia to arrive sometime today. So if you all would please join me in keeping them in your thoughts, hoping for a speedy and uneventful labor and recovery, and for a healthy, precious little girl to welcome into the world.

And to have her weigh in at 6lb14oz, as that was my guess in the pool. ; )

UPDATE: Little Sophia was born yesterday morning! (July 10, 8:45am PST) Her parents seem to be absolutely smitten, and all seems to be well. She is a petite yet healthy 6lb1oz. Yay! (despite having lost the pool) =)

Another mantra to add to the list

I think one of the coolest parts of being a parent has got to be watching your kid learn new things and acquire new abilities. D's always been pretty good with tummy time, but in the beginning he'd only really be happy doing it for a couple minutes at a time (not that I can blame him... how much fun must it be to lay on your stomach when you can hardly lift your head or see anything?). Now he's a pro, and the past few days has even figured out how to bat at and grasp a toy in front of him while laying on his tummy (he even grabbed a toy and brought it up his mouth yesterday!), and will hang out on his belly for a good 5-10 minutes at a time, totally content.

His eyesight has also gotten so much better. Yesterday we were looking out the window and 3 people on horseback passed by in front of our house. I swear Donovan had his eyes glued to those horses! Then this morning I took a gamble and took a quick shower as he lay (on his tummy, looking at himself in the mirror!) on our bed (our shower doors are clear glass, and with the bathroom door open I had a straight shot at him). I was watching him as I washed my hair and at one point he looked over at me, paused, then broke out into a big smile. I assume that meant he could see and recognize me, even though I was a good 10 feet away at least. And when just a few months ago he couldn't focus on anything more than 10 inches from his face, well, I'd say that's pretty huge.

One of the last days that we were in Texas I took D to church with my parents. I had grown up in this church, baby-sitting for many of the children in that congregation, and I knew both my parents had been talking D up a storm to everyone and that they were anxious to get to meet him. When hearing that he was 5 months old, more than one person commented on what a fun age that is. And I'm glad they did, because I needed that reminder. That whole week D had started waking up every 2-3 hours at night, whether from travel fatigue or a growth spurt or teething I do not know. Either way, I was pretty exhausted, and when I'm sleep deprived like that I have a much harder time appreciating D's cute moments. I'm guessing that was a pretty huge factor in why it felt like it took me so long to really bond with him after he was born. But when I make myself really pay attention, my god he is incredible. And hilarious. And beyond adorable and fun.

Really, every month so far has been a pretty fun age. It's just that, as with most situations, some require a bit more work to find the fun parts than others.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Photos: Austin, pt1

Paris airport
World traveler.

texas family time
Hangin' with his Abuelito

D's first trip to the pool
First time swimming! He was kicking his legs and everything. So cute.

D's first trip to the pool
Danyelle is funny.

texas family time
See, he does cry. ; )

mom playing piano
Mom playing piano for D. I have a few piano music CDs but I'd almost forgotten how much nicer a real piano sounds.

Harpo. So regal. So fluffy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another brilliant program brought to you by the Dept of Homeland Security

Did you know that, as of January 1st of this year, citizens of the US are not allowed to leave the country on an international flight unless they have either 1) a ticket to return to the US or 2) proof of residency in the country they are flying to?

We didn't either, until we arrived at the Austin airport to fly back to Switzerland, and were told that unless we could provide documentation showing that we live in Switzerland, we'd have to buy a ticket back before being allowed on the plane (even though our flight was technically round-trip, in the eyes of the Homeland Security honchos we were leaving the US with no ticket for returning and thus the Austin-Geneva leg of our trip counted as a one-way ticket leaving the country). I happened to have my residency permit with me (which I bring when traveling, though I have never ever before needed to show it anywhere). Zach had his Swiss driver's license, which might not have been "proof" enough. Donovan doesn't even have any documentation yet, other than his passport. The lady working the counter was as flabbergasted as we were, and was able to work things out so we didn't have to buy a return ticket right there. It's a good thing we got to the airport 2 hours early, though, as getting all that straightened out took kind of a while.

BTW we are now back home in our village, safe and sound. D did fabulously on the flight, he basically ate, slept, and smiled, with very minimal fussing. I did not do quite as well, as I just have a crappy time sleeping on airplanes always, but whatevs. I'm wondering what the evening has in store for us... he's currently down for a nap, I'll probably try to get him down for bed within the next couple hours, but by then it'll still be the middle of the afternoon Texas-time so who knows what his little body will think.

I am also right now looking through all the pictures we took. All in all with the 2 cameras we had a 1,178 pictures (and some videos). I'm going through and getting rid of fuzzy or otherwise bad shots, and am already down to closer to 1,000. Hah. I may be uploading these in several batches over time so as not to overwhelm the entire internet with my gazillion pictures. I will say one thing, I've got quite a few gorgeous shots of D with many of his admirers. =)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We're Country, y'all

I went through a country music phase when I was younger, I think about 7/8/9th grades or so. I never got into the whole "kicker" look with boots or Wranglers or anything, but I got into country music. I became a big fan of Garth and Reba, Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney before he decided to become the next Jimmy Buffet. Sure, sometimes the songs were extremely depressing, but country also seemed to have the most beautiful love ballads. It is the only music genre that brings a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat on a fairly regular basis while listening to it. And the lyrics tended to be simple and clearly sung so that words were easily understood, and after just a few listens you'd be able to sing along making it great car music.

I later moved away from listening to country music much, other than when out two-stepping at Midnight Rodeo. However I tend to gravitate back to it on these trips back home to Texas. I don't know if it's just the local radio stations, but it seems whenever I turn one on about 50% of the songs are ones that I remember from my country music days. And, since the lyrics were simple to begin with, I'm still able to sing along to The Dance or Don't Take the Girl when they come on.

And so while I think I might only own 1 or 2 country CDs at the moment, and I listen to them almost never, there's this comfortable, warm fuzzy feeling I get from listening to the country music stations when we come here. It kinda feels like home.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

More updates from ATX

Last night after D went to bed Zach and I met up with my sisters and dad at the new Chuy's down south. Zach was worried that the food and ambiance wouldn't compare to the original, but I think I may actually like this Chuy's better. Same yummy food, no parking hassles, and a super cute outdoor waiting area that almost makes you forget you're in the middle of a huge strip mall. Earlier that afternoon we went to the mall with Hank and Susan, who got to push D around in his stroller while Zach and I shopped, then went by Butch & Sarah's to go see their 6-week-old baby, Allotis (I think that's how it's spelled). Brandon and Kara also stopped by while we were there. It's fun to get to catch up with people, even if it's just for an hour or 2. Kara's business has been taking off like mad over the past few years, which is awesome (Brandon has now left his engineering job, as well, to work for her). I'm debating asking her to make me a diaper bag. ; )

We then got home and were about to get to bed, expecting the little one to wake up maybe around midnight (it was 11pm) but as I walked into the room to climb into bed I heard this little cry coming from his pack-n-play. From then on through the night he woke every 2 hours. He'd eat and go back to sleep relatively easily, but still... every. two. hours. I think that really is a first for him, even as a newborn I don't think he went less than 3 hours between night feedings. I have no idea what the deal was, but I hope it doesn't last. He was actually sleeping up to 9 hours at a time last week, and I think I then messed him up with 2 late nights and the trip to East Texas, as that's when his sleep started going to pot all over again. I had hoped to go see The Hudsons play tonight, but I think I need to first make sure I get D to bed early, in hopes of helping him sleep better, and possibly then get to bed myself. That's the problem with baby's early bedtime-- it's great having some time after he goes to bed to do your own thing, but if you do so then you're missing out on that precious sleep. Then again I also need to take better advantage of having grandparents eager to watch him so I can go take a decent nap (that whole sleep-when-baby-sleeps thing works great... as long as your baby is actually taking substantial naps himself. I'm still waiting for his naps to consolidate into longer-than-45-min stretches. Then again they say that happens once nighttime sleep settles into more consistent, longer patterns, which we have no signs of yet, either, sooo...).

The rest of the family get back from East Texas today. Zach just left to go play some golf with Andrew. I have no set plans for the day yet, though maybe I'll call Jenny and try going to Target again. I've gone there twice so far and spent close to $600 so far this trip. Zach's rethinking whether moving back would actually save us any money after all...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A series of mini-updates

Yesterday we got back from spending a long weekend in East Texas as part of a family reunion. It was mainly for my mom, step-dad, and their children, but we got Zach's parents and my dad to come as well, so Donovan had his own entourage of grandparents to follow him around at all times and take him on walks and sing to him and entertain him in any way imaginable. He's gonna be so disappointed when we get back to Switzerland, looks around, and sees it's just him and me again. ; )

Last week we went to Central Market with my dad and he went around and introduced D to all ther employees that he's gotten to know there on his frequent shopping trips. It was quite cute. I think later today we'll go to the coffee shop that Hank and Susan often go to to show D off there as well.

It's funny the things you feel yourself needing to get used to all over again. I have no idea what the speed limits are anywhere, realizing I've totally gotten used to the Swiss system of having "default" speeds that you use unless there's a specific posted limit. I'm also once again taken aback by the size of people here.

D seems to be teething again/still. I think I can actually feel a swollen spot on his lower gum this time. He seems to be constantly gnawing on his or others' fingers. The other day we gave him a cold carrot to chew on, he seemed to like it, if only for a few minutes. I wonder when we'll actually see a tooth...

Now I'm realizing it's already Wednesday, we leave on Monday to go back to CH, and goodness time is flying by.


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