Saturday, November 22, 2014

A way late post: Oswin's First Birthday

Way back when, on a day that I like to call the 7th of october, 2014, we celebrated a very special little first birthday...

....the first birthday of our little Miss Oswin Jade!

It was a small celebration, with just a few guests...

....some macarons...


...and a bottle of champagne, which had been given to us by the hospital after Oswin was born. 

I can't believe that a full year has gone by since our little adorable dragon came into the world. I can't imagine our lives without her. You truly make every day more fun than the last, and no one on this earth knows how to keep us on our toes quite like you do. Happy Birthday little one, with many many many more to come. 

And a special thank you to oh so sweet and talented Meg of meg-made. She is the creator of this adorable tutu skirt with poms on the inside (which Oswin was obsessed with), and even sent along a special sparkly headband to accompany it. The skirt is adjustable so she should be able to wear it for many a birthday or playtime to come. The kind people I've met through this whole blogging and instagram community make visiting these spaces something I truly look forward to, and that kind present certainly made Oswin's special day a little more special. Many many thanks!

A la prochaine friends...


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Oswin Takes: Mont Blanc

A couple of weeks ago, Les Duggans took a short road trip to Chamonix, with hopes of taking my latest sling diary pictures in the French Alps, on Mont Blanc at Plan de l'Aiguille (2317 meters).

Unfortunately, as plans often do, ours fell through. It turns out that Oswin is a bit too wee to take the telepherique up to Plan de l'Aiguille, and we were plum out of luck. 

So, as I mentioned in the aformetioned sling diary post on the theme of bliss, we turned lemons into Limoncino and hiked a little closer to the foot of the mountain. 

We chose not to hike up to our original destination as that would have been a much bigger hike than what we had intended for that day, and there was no way we would beat the race against the sun (or nap time). So, we hiked around for about an hour or so, sought out wild ferns, used large gnarled tree roots as steps, and marveled at the downed trees that had fallen victim to previous avalanches. We even fed Oswin her lunch up on the trail. 

I was bummed about not getting to walk around the glacier and show Oswin the higher parts of the mountain, but that will have to be for another day. Another day where we're ready to spend the better part of 3 hours going up, and ready to make the descent as well. Maybe this spring. We'll see. 

After our hike we explored the city a bit, which I had never done before. I always forget that Chamonix is an actual town, and not just the starting point for one of my favorite hikes. But more on that tomorrow. We're actually heading to Chamonix today, with one of Dan's best friends from college who is visiting us for the weekend. We haven't seen him in over five years! We're hoping to find another way to get Oswin up higher on Mont Blanc today, one that doesn't involve an all day hike. There is apparently a train that will take littles up, so we'll let you know how that goes. Fingers crossed!

Hope you have a fantastic Saturday in your part of the world!

A la prochaine friends...


Friday, November 7, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Dan on Bliss

Have you seen Dan's latest post for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries? The theme this month was bliss, and the post can be found over on my instagram account (@outlawnotahero), or by searching the hashtag #danslingdiary on instagram. For this entry we crossed over the border to Switzerland to take a family walk through the vineyards, and snapped some photos along the way. It was a gorgeous afternoon for it, and one of those walks that always prompts me to say "why don't we do this everyday?" It was a good reminder for me to search out the wanderlust near to us, that which still needs exploring, because one day it may not be just outside our front door. 

Thanks to everyone who has been following along over the last five months of this series, it's been so much fun to take part in. I can't believe we each only have one more post left! I'll be so sad to see it go, but am so grateful to have been a part of this series, along with so many inspirational and awesome mamas.

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, November 6, 2014

My oh my... I ever have a lot to catch up on! 

I've been neglecting the blog a bit lately. Well, I wouldn't really call it neglecting, more like, I've been missing it dearly and why can't I get by on only 5 hours of sleep so that I can blog before Smaug wakes up kind of neglecting. I've been trying to tweak my daily schedule and lately blogging has taken the hit. I could go all cliche right now with "there's never enough time" and "if only I had more hours in the day," but I'll spare you the doldrum pity party. Just know I've dearly missed this little page of mine, and all of you that do me the honor of stopping on by. 

So, while I slowly begin sifting through the hundreds of pictures I've taken over the last few weeks, which include Oswin's First Birthday, my parent's trip to visit us here in SwitzerFrance, a day in Chamonix, and the like, I'll leave you with some pictures from last weekend's Thoiry Sunday Market. It's been too hot for October/November, but the temperatures are finally dipping into the 50s and dare I say upper 40s, so we're finally get a bit of the leaf show that fall promises. I really miss my fall and winter coats, so if we could just hurry this show up mother nature I'd be much obliged. 

Until then I'll keep drinking tea and pretending that's it cold in our house. 

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Bliss

As many of you may recall, Dan and I have each been chosen to be sling diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love. This is the fifth of six posts that I will be sharing here on the blog (you can find my first post heresecond post herethird post here, and fourth post here), and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram a little later on. (You can find his past posts by searching #danslingdiary over on Instagram.) Today's post is all about the theme of bliss. I can't believe it's my next to last one! Where has the time gone?! Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this fun journey with us. 

My sweet little Oswin,

As I sit here, drinking my coffee while you nap, I think back to all the things that your Papa and I have done over the last five years of living along the French-Swiss border, the area that as you know, we like to affectionately call SwitzerFrance. And what stands out to me about this month's theme of bliss, is that my most blissful moments while living here have been the ones that were a bit left of center. The everyday, the seemingly mundane, or the times where things went seemingly wrong, and yet we were able to make things happen, despite consequences or circumstances. Europe has been good to us, but living on one paycheck means that you sometimes have to get creative when it comes to living and traveling just outside of one of the most expensive countries in the world, Switzerland.

Oswin, before you were born, Mama and Papa didn't have a car. Well, that's not entirely true, but it took us almost three years to be able to afford one. That can get tricky when you live at the foot of a mountain. When you get older we will tell you stories of when we used to walk uphill, both ways, 2 miles in each direction, in the snow, just to get baguettes, milk and eggs, and it will be completely true. We will tell you of the time Mama rode her bike 11 miles to bring home a large potted fig tree in her bike basket. We will tell you of our first year in SwitzerFrance, the year that Papa carried our Christmas tree on his shoulder well over a mile in the freezing cold. And the large slices of lumber that he carried home on his shoulder from the aforementioned 2 mile uphill each way in the snow walk, just to make us a Christmas tree stand, using a really cheap saw. There are so many stories like this Oswin, of a time before you were born, of a time before we had four wheels and a clutch. And though these stories may seem silly to some, they bring me so much joy and nostalgia. We were propelled by our ideas, and didn't want to miss out on life because we couldn't yet afford a car.

The truth of the matter is that we loved those walks, and those bike rides. Not everyone has to (or gets to, as I often told myself back then) walk 4 miles for food: to be in the fresh air, to have that connection to what they're eating by bringing it back through (sometimes) blood, (always) sweat, and (sometimes) tears. And though it might have been easier to borrow someone's car to drive to the Christmas tree market, and buy a pre-made stand for that tree, it was a lovely, albeit cold, walk back to our house. The stars were out, we could see our breath as we walked and talked, and when we came home we put on Christmas movies, poured ourselves glasses of wine, and proceeded to make our own salt dough ornaments (in case you're wondering, that explains our Star Wars and yoga businessman ornaments, as those were the only cookie cutters we had). We found our bliss by taking chances, and making things happen, even if it was difficult at times.

Now I know that living that life at this point in time isn't feasible, at least not everyday. But you and I, we do that shopping trip every once in awhile. It's nice, it's quiet, it's empowering, it's exhausting, and it reminds me of a time when we could take 3 hours and 4 miles to pick up our daily bread. But more often than not, we go for a hike on the mountain behind us, look for birds, check out trees and wild shrubs. Sometimes we go a little further away to do that, like on the day we took these pictures while hiking on Mont Blanc, in Chamonix, France. We had an unexpected glitch on that day's plans: you were apparently too young to take the telepherique up to a higher point on the mountain, called Plan de l'Aiguille du Midi (2317 m.). We could have hiked with you up to that point, but we started too late, and we'd lose the race against the sun. So instead we spent a little time hiking, and then, for the first time ever, walked around the city. We had an amazing day, both unexpected and exploratory. Who knew there was more to do in Chamonix besides hiking? Not this family, apparently. We strolled the streets, sat at a cafe and had some frites, you made friends with everyone who happened to look in your direction, and I swooned at all the shop windows. Sometimes it's the unexpected glitches that give us our most memorable and blissful days, and this was one that I won't ever forget.

But everyday bliss isn't just about making lemonade out of lemons, it's about who you're drinking the lemonade with. When you're with the people you love most in the world, even the most mundane acts, or the unplanned glitches, can turn into moments of pure gold. One of my favorite memories of living abroad has been when Papa and I road tripped to Pisa, Italy for a physics workshop. It was January, and like all of our road trips to Italy, we would have to go through the Mont Blanc tunnel. As we approached the line to go through the tunnel, we were told there was an avalanche warning, and that we would have to wait until the officials gave the all clear to continue forward. We were stranded, with a whole lot of angry skiers, in our cars, in a whole lot of snow. So what did we do? We had an avalanche picnic! Baguettes, cheese dip, berries and espressso in a thermos, while listening to the radio and occasionally getting out of the car to stretch our legs and throw the occasional snow ball at each other. Yes it slowed up our travel plans. Yes it was a little scary. Yes it was really early in the morning and cold, but because I was with my bestie, your Papa, I couldn't care less. A glitch in our plans turned into a fun hour of hanging out and appreciating not only the majestic scope that is Mont Blanc and the French Alps, but also appreciating the fierceness that is Mother Nature.

The avalanche warning wasn't the only glitch in our plans for that ten day trip. There was a small earthquake while we were in Pisa. There was an Italian train strike, which forced us to cancel our Florence portion of the trip. This was a bummer, but it led us to actually signing up to go to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which we wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise. It also forced me out of my comfort zone to take one of the last trains before the strike formally began to Lucca, a small medieval town about 45 minutes away, to explore solo. There was also a freak blizzard that hit the Mediterranean while we were heading to our last stop on the trip, a monastery turned spa in Monchiero Alto, where we somehow made it through a foot of snow with our old-and-lacking-snow-tires-or-chains-car. We were snowed in and forced to spend an extra night. (That was a great glitch.) What I'm trying to say, Oswin, is that the bumps are what make life interesting, and that trip, that ten days of all plans falling through and drinking a whole lot of lemonade (or in this case, Limoncino), turned into one of the most memorable, most blissful trips/times/ten day periods of my life. That will always remain one of the greatest times I've ever had, ever. There were scary moments, there were uncomfortable moments, there were moments when we just looked at each other and said "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!" And it was the best. Road trip bliss, with my best friend in the whole wide world. Plans are meant to fall through, and the true test is what you do with that adventure as a result. We found the bliss in our logistical disaster, and we did it together.

I hope that you learn to turn the glitches into gold my dear. Because life is what you make of it, and if you make it blissful, it will be. Every moment won't be bliss, but if we keep trying, we can find the fun in most things. Food shopping without a car, carrying Christmas trees over a mile along a mountain, making the best of a freak blizzard or train strike: all have bliss hidden in those moments if you choose to see them. Find the happiness in the bumps in the road or the avalanche warnings, whichever the case may be. Appreciate all that your body can do, everyday. Appreciate the food you're putting into your body for fuel. Appreciate your health, which I can't stress enough. The mere fact of waking up and finding that you are healthy is bliss enough in itself to make the day go well, please don't ever forget that. Find the happiness in every act, because it's there, it really is. Even in walking four miles uphill both ways in the snow for groceries. You just have to look hard enough. And I hope that one day you'll find a partner in crime to appreciate those moments with. But just know that Papa and I will always be here to have an avalanche picnic with you, whenever you want, all you have to do is ask.

We'll even bring the lemonade.



Sling pictured: Essential Silk Sling in Shadow Tart, by Sakura Bloom