Book reviews and lots of ’em

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I love taking walks with the kids out around my little village. It never fails to remind me that, holy crap, I live in Switzerland. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when you’re living your little life, stuck in the house with the kids or running to the grocery store. Sometimes you have to stop and look around and really take in where you are. It’s easy to take things for granted, something I think we all do a little too much.

I adore the poppies that grow wild in the fields I have to cross to get to the bus stop. I adore Mont Saleve, the backdrop to our life here, a crazy mysterious cliff face that rises straight up from the ground and announces in grand fashion where France begins. I love that yesterday I took the kids for a walk to the post office and stopped short when I heard the deep bleating of a herd of sheep. It made me giggle. Sheep baa-ing sounds really fake if you’re not used to it. Then X started baa-ing back and it just made my day. I’m not used to being in this kind of environment and I love it. I love my kids get to be surrounded by it. Continue reading

Father’s Day and a baking roundup

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! Here is the present I got Zach. You should know what makes this really special: Coffee Crips bars are his favourite, but they are made only in Canada. I had no idea this was a regional treat. I’m sad for the rest of the world that they don’t get to enjoy the delectable coffee-esque wafers encased in chocolate. But I had to go through some trouble to get these guys here. I skip the importation taxes by having friends sneak these in (also always appreciated: wine gums and twizzlers). Not pictured are some cookies I also made with Coffee Crisps in them – very good.

The book, Toddlers Are Assholes, is brilliant. Well, I expect if you don’t have kids you might find it somewhat funny, but if you, at this very moment, have a toddler, and haven’t slept in awhile, and are constantly up to your elbows in bodily fluids, you will likely cry laughing. Z and I certainly did. Z especially is having a tough time with our picky non-eater, so the chapter on mealtimes reduced him to helpless giggles. Sometimes you just need to laugh, you know? Continue reading

Soup Diet Revised

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Once again, it’s time for me to face facts: it’s going to be awhile before I fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. As with after having X, I find myself still surprised by how much weight I have to lose. I was SOOO much more careful this time around. I gained the recommended healthy amount of weight I’m supposed to gain (albeit on the high end, but I actually felt like I was dieting during the pregnancy. So hungry. But the Euro OBs are way more harsh about this. I was told I would feel hungry the entire time and that meant I was probably eating the right amount). It’s clear to me that I’m one of those women who just gains a lot of weight during pregnancy. To be honest, I almost wish I had just gone nuts again. At least I would have enjoyed myself at some point.

The truth is, pregnancy is really really hard on the body. It’s two months later and I’m still recovering, still some residual pain from the whole ordeal. Doesn’t really make me want to procreate any more. Good thing I already have two pretty cute kids. But it seems so unfair – you go through this whole process, it’s uncomfortable and painful, then it gets REALLY painful, and then … your whole body has been reshaped. And I’m one of the lucky ones without any real lasting damage, it’s all superficial for me. But you then hear stuff like: you need to start working out as quickly as possible in order to make up for all this damage. Because the truth is, that stuff about being patient and the weight will come off on it’s own, it’s bullshit. That weight is not going anywhere until you do something about it. Continue reading

Chicken Piccata

I had a smug mommy moment last week. Forgive me – it happens to all of us. E had a pediatrician’s appointment, which I had scheduled at a time I knew was going to work well for me – the buses would get me there at the right time without having to push my gigantic double stroller through angry crowds of commuters. Everyone had slept well the night before, the kids got up at different times so I was able to easily dress and feed them without one of them sitting next to me crying angrily. I got out of the house with all appropriate water bottles, milk bottles and snack jars, as well as extra diapers and clothing I would need. I even had lots of time to make the bus, meaning I didn’t have to do my more-often-than-not frantic dash across the countryside to catch it so that by the time I got anywhere I was sweaty and breathing heavily and all together a typical harried mother of two. No, this time I was even well put together – makeup: on, hair:  brushed, outfit: rather cute if I do say so myself. I thought at the time: Two kids? I got this.

In my defence, my next thought was: Enjoy it now, because you know it’s not going to last. In fact, it lasted until I got to the pediatrician’s office to discover the appointment was in fact the previous day. I had completely missed it. I just had to laugh, because what else do you do? I made an appointment for the next day (at a much less convenient time, I might add). Continue reading

Book reviews

There’s a lot that you forget about having newborns, I think, no matter how recent your last baby came along. Since you spend most of their infancy in a hazy fog of sleep deprivation, I suppose that makes sense. For me, one thing I forgot is the smell. When I walk into the residential wing of our house (ha, didn’t I just make it sound like my house is enormous? It’s not), I walk into a wall of this smell. Newborn babies smell like … warm pooh. I’m not sure how it is that the pooh smell is warm, exactly, but it is. It permeates the very walls of the rooms. Breathe it in, because no matter what you do, there will always be more warm pooh. I’m just happy that the weather is good enough to keep all the windows open.

The other thing I forgot is the rapturous joy that comes with baby’s first smile. It is such a beautiful thing, to see your little one’s face light up with recognition and love; it’s as if they’ve only just discovered happiness for the first time in life. E is a serious little girl, and approaches most of life’s challenges with a furrowed brow. She doesn’t just throw smiles around, that one. So when she finally graced me with a grin, well, all the trauma and pain and blood and lack of sleep and warm pooh smells, it is all worth it. How is it that they do that?

I also firmly believe that newborns have preferred music, although I’m not quite sure how they decide this. X, for instance, was all about Bruno Mars, played very loud while being rocked and swung around rather aggressively. E, though, is all about the country. Alan Jackson to be exact. Nothing calms her down like a good two-step. I like to think it’s because even though she’s born and raised in Switzerland, she has ingrained memory of where her family comes from. All this two-stepping is making miss Stampede. Continue reading

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Ok, it’s been an extremely long time since my last post. But, guys, you know what is really hard? Two kids, that’s what. And it seems to be getting harder as the days go on. One toddler who is still adjusting to no longer being the only star in our sky. And one baby, no longer a newborn and all of a sudden MUCH more fussy. Especially between the hours of 9 pm and 3 am. WTF is up with that, I want to ask her, in the sweetest way possible.

I startled myself when I saw my reflection up close in my medicine cabinet one of these nights. It was an accident – I’ve been avoiding my reflection for awhile now. But all of a sudden I was face to face with myself under the harsh fluorescent lights. Startled might not be the right word. More like horrified. I look like a zombie. And not like the way you say it affectionately when someone is kind of tired and dopey. I mean, I could have been an extra for The Walking Dead. A well-preserved zombie, but still. My eyes are SO bloodshot from lack of sleep, they are bright red. And the lovely bruise-like under eye shadows are highlighted nicely against the anemic pallor of the rest of my skin. Take a chunk out of my cheek and I’d have everyone running for cover. I probably already do.

But everyone knows dealing with a new baby is hard. This is nothing new. So instead of boring you, I’ll show you something that is much prettier than me:

MintChocoCupcakes2 Continue reading

Blackberry Pie Bars

Spring has been well-established here in Geneva. Everywhere you look, it is green. Flowering trees are in their glory and my lawn is a carpet of wildflowers. Having never experienced a true spring before (you know, where stuff grows and there are leaves on the trees), I find the weather kind of miraculous. We’ve been trying to get outside everyday, enjoying some fantastic sunshine and resting when we can!

With the beginning of the nice weather comes my increasing interest in fruit-based desserts. Time to shed those fatty winter recipes and heavy chocolate treats, along with the layers of pregnancy fat that’s surrounding me! Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t eat delicious things.

I’m actually able to do some baking, largely in part because E will only settle down when she is wrapped up in a sling on my chest, and I am moving around. There’s no sitting down these days, which would be fine if the newest little monster slept at all during the night … but these are the challenges we agree to take on with kids. The upside is: more baking. Continue reading