Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Jungfrau Marathon, Switzerland

I find it hard to believe that it has been almost 3 years since my crazy husband ran the Jungfrau Marathon - an entirely uphill marathon, up a Swiss Alp, often with a 10% grade, that ends on a glacier.

When signing up for this marathon the organizers suggest that you add 1.5 hours to your best marathon time, and assume that will be your time for Jungfrau. If that calculated time is over 6 hours, they suggest you not enter. Anyone who takes longer than 6 hours to finish the race does not receive a race shirt or finisher medal.

Dan finished in the top third for all of the men in 2011's race, and I was obviously so proud of him.

Jungfrau is in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, and is worth the visit if you're into hiking, skiing, and other outdoorsy activities. It's picturesque as can be, and was in fact the area that Tolkien used (Lauterbrunnen specifically) as inspiration when writing about Rivendell in "Lord of the Rings."

We stayed in Wengen for the race, and since Dan's legs weren't complete lead the day after, we went for a hike to explore the Jungfrau at a slower pace. On the way home we stopped in Lauterbrunnen for a few hours to check out some waterfalls, have a beer, and take a lot of pictures.

If you ever the chance to participate in the Jungfrau Marathon, I say go for it, as it's been labelled as one of the most beautiful race courses in the world. It's not so bad to participate as a spectator either.

This year's race will take place in about 2 weeks, and it's hard for me to believe how far we've come since that race. We've made friends, we've lost friends, we've had highs and lows, we've made a little human, we've grown as individuals and as a couple. I hope to be able to bring Oswin to Wengen and Jungfrau sometime in the near future, to take the cogwheel train to Kleine-Scheidegg, to pretend we're walking in a chapter of "Lord of the Rings," to show her somewhere that showed us how strong we really are, well, that would be amazing.

Happy travels friends, and if you're running this year, Hop Schweiz!

A la prochaine friends...


Monday, September 1, 2014

A Day in Geneva.

Last Saturday we spent the day in Geneva...

...it's something we used to do pretty frequently, between festivals, yoga, and just plain exploring...

...but now, well, we take a bit longer to get out the door, and sometimes don't get as far. 

It just makes it that much more special when we do get in nowadays. 

Last Saturday was no exception. We started the day with a renversé at a new-to-us cafe by the gare, followed by a walk across the lake. 

We took some mandatory pictures of Jet d'Eau...

...and of the Flower Clock....

...before heading to grab some macarons at Ladurée.

I took a little stroll in Hermes on Rive...

...before we took a leisurely walk through Old Town, where we made a pit stop in one of my two favorite notebook and stationary shops, Bookbinders...

...where I may or may not have scooped up one of their last red cloth notebooks with a Swiss cross embossed on the cover. 

We then walked up the steep hill to our favorite square in Geneva, Place du Bourg-de-Four, and had a drink at our favorite cafe, La Clémence. It was a nice day to sit outside, a little chilly, a little grey...

...in other words, my favorite kind of day. 

We would have been remiss had we not made a pit stop at St. Pierre's Cathedral before heading back home...

...afterall, it is my favorite historical spot in Geneva. 

And so, tired from a day of exploring one of our favorite cities, we headed back to France. With a pretty box wrapped in ribbon and full of macarons, and a few new goodies to warm up our home. Oh and pretzels, there were pretzels. Days in Geneva always make me so happy, but it's also nice to come back home to our mountain. Something about the Jura just feels so, homey. 

A la prochaine friends...


Sunday, August 31, 2014

45 weeks: The Jumping Book Thief

DSLR cameras are awesome for a variety of reasons, except that in the age of iphones, I've become lazy when it comes to uploading pictures from an SD card. What? I can't just open the picture in a different app and share it with the masses? I have to use another device to do that?! How archaic. 

As tomorrow Oswin turns 47 weeks old, I figured it'd be a good time to finally share her weekly photos from 2 weeks ago. SD cards and life getting in the way, and such. 

Oswin learned some cool new tricks during week 45, like jumping up and down in her crib while holding onto the top of the bars. Jump jump jump. It really is quite entertaining. 

She upped her sneaky cred as well. Mama didn't give her enough credit in what she could access from inside the crib, and found that she now can reach out of the crib and pull books into it from a nearby side table. Because board books are killer good teething toys. "Le panier de Souki" will never be the same. So that was the end of leaving books on the table.  

I thought this outfit was a good one to use this week for her pictures, as we've come to the time of retiring it. It's sad but true. It's been one of my favorites, and I was so excited when my parents surprised us with it after one of their walks to Petit Bateau on their last visit to SwitzerFrance. I've been putting her in it since she was way too small for it, and now I can't believe how small it is on her. Swan song of a favorite track suit, if you will. 

Outfit details:

Bib bandana // Chicken and Charlie
Sweatshirt and trousers // Petit Bateau (Fall 2013)

A la prochaine friends...


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Teething is the devil.

I know, I know, I'm sure all of you veteran mama's are thinking "obvious first time mom is obvious," but it's true. I didn't fully understand how horrible teething was until Oswin started cutting her first two teeth this week. 

I was under the impression that once the tooth starts bursting out of the confines of a baby's gums, that all would be hunky dory. NOPE.

She either isn't sleeping, or hibernating. Or waking up screaming in agony. Yesterday was the first day since she was probably four months old that she ate no solids, well, except for the black beans that she threw up. She had a low grade fever, has been fussy, and just isn't our happy little girl. Give us our child back lower and upper front incisor!!!

We caved and decided to buy the necklace. You know the one. The one with the magical amber stone powers. Cosmic black magic crystal energy and such. Enough people swear by it that it's worth the 20 euro to me to try it. Our doctor also suggested a homeopathic liquid called Camilia, which we started giving her last night. Lots of snuggles, lots of nursing, lots of "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," the occasional Dafalgan (like Switzerfrench Tylenol). 

Last night was better. Most anything would have been better than the previous night where we all got about 2 hours of sleep. Last night she slept from about 3:00 am until almost 10:30 am, which for those who know her, well, that isn't a lot. I'm sure there will be ups and downs for the next few days until that tooth is out in all its tiny glory, but for now I'll take that as a teething victory.  

So that's our weekend sorted. We won't be straying too far from home. A trip to the market tomorrow if our little miss is feeling up to it. And Penn State Football opens up in about 30 minutes for the 2014 season, so there's that. 

How about you, any tried and true teething cure alls? Mythical crystals? Rain dances? Potions of coconut oil? ANYTHING?! (Seriously, anything?)

Happy first day of College Football tout le monde (or, er, aux etas unis)! 

A la prochaine friends...


Friday, August 29, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Dan on Surprise

Head on over to my Instagram account (@outlawnotahero) today to see Dan's third entry for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: All the Love! Today's entry is on the theme of surprise. We took the pictures for this post at one of my two favorite fig trees in town. It's so large and in charge, even after they pruned a massive amount away this year. 

And in case you're wondering, nope, none of the figs were ripe yet. We've had so much Aug-tober this year, we'll be lucky if they ripen by actual October. But I always love a visit to one of my two favorite fig trees all the same. 

Thanks for following along for this series with us, it's been such an honor to be included with the other diarists in this series, and the support we've felt from everyone who has been following along is palpable. You guys make this all so much more fun!

Happy weekend!

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Surprise

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 third of six posts that I will be sharing here on the blog (you can find my first post here, and second post here), and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram a little later on. Today's post will center around the theme of surprise. Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this journey with us.

My sweet little Oswin,

We went on a little hike the other day Oswin. A hike on the trail just behind our house, that leads us up to the cow pastures on the Jura Mountains. We said hello to the horses in one field, walked over stones, and took in all the silence of nature. We counted butterflies, light blue ones especially, and watched the grasshoppers in action. The wind was blowing gently, blowing the wild grass and brightly colored wild flowers of the mountain, and we stopped to notice the wild blackberries that were growing. Mama may have picked a few to snack on. We picked a few wildflowers and waved them around in the air. We even found something new and unexpected, a wild pear tree. All our years of living here and I have never noticed that wild pear tree. 

We walked up and up, not too far as you were getting sleepy, but enough to heal Mama's mountain-lust. We walked up to the one open field with the one dead tree in the middle of it. We checked on the birch trees and then just stood there, breathing in the mountain. With our back to the mountain we could look out over Geneva and the lake, as well as see the not far off Swiss vineyards and neighboring french towns. We waved to Jet d'Eau, which could be clearly seen from where we stood.

Something pulled us up onto the mountain that day little Oswin, and as cliche as it may sound, when the mountains call you must go.

The life of an expat is not a simple one my dear, you leave pieces of your heart in so many lands with so many friends, and sometimes it is hard to feel whole. Nowhere and everywhere feels like home, and while making your home in one land you yearn for that of another. On a typical day I am simultaneously homesick for the city and the sea, but yet can't imagine ever saying good-bye to "our" mountains. The Jura have stolen our collective hearts, and I'm sad for each day that we don't spend a portion of time exploring it's elevations and woods. Around every rock lies something new - a newly flowering plant, a chamois, an overgrown trail that we decide to try, a wild fruit plant. There are not many things in life anymore that can truly surprise us as nature can. 

When Papa and I were waiting for you to make your grand appearance into this world, we wanted to be surprised, by everything. We wanted the blissful chaos of taking an unknown and sometimes scary-as-hell-trail on the Jura. That kind of trail that typically leaves me telling Papa, "we have to turn back," and then upon looking behind me realizing that is not possible. We wanted you to show us the way to go, because like nature, if you try to control an unknown entity too much, it will show you just how little control you actually have. We didn't want to find out if you were a boy or girl until we saw you for the very first time. We didn't want to read any of the "What to Expect" books or the like, we wanted to, for better or for worse, figure you out on our own. We knew your name, but we were keeping that to ourselves, because sometimes surprises are fun to hold close to your chest. But for two people who like to make lists and have all of our bases covered, we were really flying pretty fancy free when it came to your arrival and early days. We wouldn't have had it any other way. You're going to be showing us the way for the rest of our lives, why not start with your birth. I knew things could go wrong, so we didn't have a set birth plan. We trusted you, and we trusted our doctor. We worked with surprise to allow you to do your thing and give us the most beautiful little bundle of joy in an almost 8 pound package that we could have ever hoped for.

Flowing free like the wind, letting the waves take you, letting the universe work in its own mysterious ways...allowing yourself to be flexible in this life will take you to wondrous places you may have never dreamt. Keep your eyes on your dreams, but know that there is not just one trail to the top of the mountain. One of the best hikes that Papa and I ever took was on a trail that it seemed no one had been through in awhile. The trail markers were there, but it became increasingly overgrown as we went higher and higher. As we neared the road, we were essentially scaling a wall. I didn't think we would make it. I was scared and cursing that trail marker for lulling us into a "safe" path, which seemed anything but. As Papa grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the road, I realized that we had made it, and we had done something awesome, and different, something I had not thought we'd have done that day while drinking our morning coffee. Papa took my pocket knife and carved our initials into a tree. The silence of nature on this trail was deafening and beautiful, something we had not expected. A welcome surprise following our ascent. We found a cabin we had never seen before, and had lunch overlooking a field of wild daffodils...all things we would never have found had we taken our normal route to the top. 

All of the surprises in this life will not be wonderful and tree-lined though my dear. People will disappoint you. I hate to say it, but they will. People whom you thought were your friends, almost like family, will let you down, and it will hurt. Sometimes family will let you down. These are those gut wrenching surprises that will knock you off your feet that we wish we could protect you from, but we can't. And we shouldn't. Because through this process you'll learn who it's worth to give your time and energies to, and who it's just not meant to be with. Blood doesn't give someone the right to treat you any less than you deserve, nor does being a kindred spirit in a far-away land. But don't become jaded like your mama. Try not to take it to heart too much. Some people are meant to stay, and some are meant to go, and that's ok. That's good. Learning whom to let into your life and who to keep out can actually be one of the most life-affirming surprises of all. Surround yourself with positive people, because life is too short to be spent with people who are shitty to you. Learn from the sour surprises while you cherish the sweet ones.

The other day we went on a hike Oswin. We went further up than I had planned. Mama needed it. And then, somewhere off in the distance, we heard cow bells. This is normally a calming sound to me, but being with you on the mountain meant that we were in their territory, in their pasture, and it scared me a bit. Cows are a lot bigger once you're on the same side of the fence, as are their sharp and pointy Alpine horns. I couldn't see them, but I could hear them as we picked up the pace heading down the mountain. We had enough surprises for one little hike. After all, little adventurers need their naps, and their mamas need coffee. We'll say hi to the cows another day.