this is not a mommyblog… or is it?

helping others – far and near Thursday - 14th March 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — luettedeern @ 1118

i know when i think about donating money, time, and/or items to organisations, i think about the potential impact, whether the donation is truly appreciated and how i can make my donation go farther. alas, i am not bill gates nor am i mark zuckerberg and cannot splash out a cool million to my favourite causes. there are so many!  i wish i could pump up the bank accounts of a few worthy organisations, but since that’s not going to happen,  i need to get more creative.


one thing i can do, is spread the word. today, i want to draw attention to two friends’ non-profit, called Kaidedra. two former colleagues at the world economic forum started this non-profit to help support sustainable community initiatives in burkina faso. why there? why not. there are so many communities across the globe that need support and my friends chose this one. and i say, more power to them!


if you are looking for a way to help and want to know that your donation will go somewhere and will actually help and be put to good use as opposed to being sucked up by admin costs, please have a look. actually, have a look anyways. it’s inspiring to see what people can accomplish when they let their passion be their guide.



time flies Tuesday - 12th March 2013

Filed under: the daily grind — luettedeern @ 1125

it is hard to believe that i have let this sit for so long. i often thought about writing a post to my blog. but then looked around my house at piles of dishes, laundry or duplo blocks and brio trains scattered across three rooms and thought better of it. 

in the meanwhile since i last posted, i no longer have only one little person around but two. two little people to eat up all my free time. don’t get me wrong: i love who they are and i love that fact that they make my life richer every day!  but adding a second child doesn’t just double the work. other mothers told me that, too. and i thought, yeah, whatever. i can do one, i can do two. wrong! when i found myself in the situation of having 2 under 2 and still a stay at home mama, i nearly lost my brain every day. now that i have 2 under 3, i lose it every other day.

in any case, i am going to try to keep up my blogging if for no other reason than to keep myself a bit saner.



all swum out Tuesday - 17th May 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — luettedeern @ 1020

like most kids, lovebug likes to swim. 

well, actually, she likes to be carried around in the pool by her papa or me. we love to take her to pools where we can swim with her, instead of going to the baby pool. we visited the merano therme in merano, italy recently and she had a great time. so much so, that she promptly pooped out in her maxi cosi. 

even though we weren’t really supposed to take pictures (for privacy reasons, as the lifeguard told us when he discovered we were busy snapping away), i thought this was cute snap of her snoozing poolside.


day”care”? i wonder… Friday - 13th May 2011

Filed under: the daily grind — luettedeern @ 1134

while i’m still at home with lovebug, we don’t put her into any sort of daycare.

it’s not only a financial decision. it’s a joy to be with her everyday. and the more i see of the daycare groups with their caregivers at the playground and around our neighborhood, the happier i am that lovebug is safe with me.

we were recently at the playground. as we were walking up to it, i noticed this 20ish girl, lazing around in one of the netted swings for the kids, smoking a cigarette and drinking a fanta.

i thought to myself, who is this delinquent chica cluttering up the playground, not only by blocking the jungle gym but also by SMOKING and drinking soda? way to be a role model – because i do believe it takes a village.

as i’m contemplating saying something to her or letting it lie, i see the daycare group.

or wait, what i really see is, a group of toddlers roughly the same age, toddling about at one end of the playground while 2 caregivers chat to each other. neither of them were really paying attention to any kid, at all. two prams with babies in them stood near the girls. and the ratio of toddler to caregiver was abysmal. and for what one pays here in switzerand for daycare, you’d every right to expect more.

but wait, there’s more.

remember that 20ish, lazing, smoking chica? she was one of the caregivers. taking, a break? i suppose? 

there are so many things wrong with this picture. i felt so awful for those little toddlers, not only whose safety was compromised because the caregivers were too busy chatting and taking a break to pay attention to them, but because i was a mama who was there taking care of my little one and witnessed this. what would the parents of the toddlers in the group feel if they knew how little the minders seemed to care about their kids? 

and it got me thinking again about the luxury i have right now of being with lovebug. now don’t get me wrong, i very much miss being a professional and my thoughts on that i’m going to share in another post soon. 

but i thought, i just wouldn’t know what was happening with lovebug if i put her into daycare. when lovebug falls and bumps her head, and i pick her up and she hugs me like a little monkey, with arms and legs wrapped around me so tightly and her head on my shoulder so i can smell her head – i want that hug and that safe feeling to last forever. and i know THAT’S the kind of care i want her to have. 

who would do that for her if she were in daycare? most likely, nobody. judging from the things i’ve seen lately. probably just a pat on the head and an “it’s all better now”.

if that. 

eventually the lazing smoker got up, left her fanta bottle on the ground, and joined the other two “caregivers”. they rounded up the toddlers, had them stand in pairs (sort of), pushed the two prams with little babies in them, and headed off to where ever they’d come from. dragging some crying toddlers in tow. 

it made me sad to see, that as a result of choices families need to make – that mama goes back to work, the children may really suffer. 


doing nothing all day Monday - 2nd May 2011

Filed under: the daily grind — luettedeern @ 2047

it never fails to annoy me to no end, when, after he comes home from work, and finds unfinished, half-folded piles of laundry or a disaster-struck living room strewn with toys and bottles, my husband says, what did you do all day?

now, i know he doesn’t really mean it, and he always says it with a smirk to mean: just kidding.

but, it gets me thinking:

what did i do all day?

i remember when i had a job and was paid by an employer. i left the house at 730 and came back at 1930. i remember looking at the clock sometimes at 1500 and being a little shocked at how fast the time went by. by 3 in the afternoon, i had probably been in a conference call or 10, went to a meeting or 5, had lunch, sent 20 emails, deleted 10 emails, ignored 200 emails, gossiped with colleagues, rearranged my desktop… you know, busy important stuff. i probably also had time to walk to work, grab a tea or two, surf a bit for some guilty pleasure reading, or planned a weekend activity.

now, when i get up, my work day starts immediately, because i get up when lovebug gets up.

i may not be sending emails to secure someone’s speaking role on a panel in Davos anymore, or taking part in a conference call to discuss the global agenda a few times a week, but i am busy contributing to the good of the world in my own way: i’m busy raising a little person, who – i hope – will be a responsible, contributing, conscientious, friendly and all around good citizen one day.  in many ways, what i’m doing now is the most important thing that anyone could ever do.

it’s a pity it doesn’t pay better.

still it’s hard to piece together what i actually do. i mean, i cook, i clean, i entertain, i teach, i comfort, i learn, i fail and try again, i smile, i clean some more, i walk, i sit, i crawl, i laugh, i giggle, i play, i sing, i dance, i worry, i hope, i rearrange things, i put things away and take them out, and i try to be creative. i am so busy, i don’t really have time to think too much about stuff other than the here and now.

i am always amazed when it is 7 at night and my husband comes home and asks me the dreaded question. if i had to answer, i guess i would have to say “i did a lot of nothing”, because how can i sum up what it means to be a mama at home with my daughter all day?

when lovebug finally lays her head down at night, having spent an entire day learning and changing, i sometimes take some time to reflect on what i did and i am constantly awed by how time consuming and fulfilling doing nothing all day is.


ja, the baby spricht deutsch Wednesday - 30th March 2011

Filed under: the daily grind — luettedeern @ 1114

my husband (half) jokingly says my accent in german sounds like a hamburger hafenmitarbeiter. which, truth be told, i am completely and totally cool with.

since we are both bilingual in german and english, we would like to raise lovebug to be bilingual too. now, my husband speaks english as a native speaker even though he grew up in germany. i speak german like a very advanced professional – i don’t say fully native because there are just so many nuances that aren’t first nature to me. but, i can absolutely get along in a professional environment with my german and some people don’t even guess my native language is english: i am always amazed and flattered when someone asks me if i am from denmark or the netherlands. so i must be doing something right!

but, getting back to lovebug. we want her grow up in a completely bilingual environment. there are many reasons, but mostly because i do believe in the studies that prove that bilingualism has benefits for a child’s cognitive development, including early reading, better math skills and improved problem-solving skills. (if you’re interested, raising bilingual children, by carey myles is a nice place to start.)

one thing i read over and over again is that the key to raising a bilingual baby successfully is to pick a plan and STICK WITH IT.

we are trying to split the languages between the two of us: papa german, mama english.

the problem is, we are not very consequential about it.

i am at much at fault as my husband is for that.

sometimes the german word is quicker on my tongue than the english, or i happen to have german in my head at that moment. not to mention the fact that my husband and i actually speak denglish to one another anyways. so, conversations with my little lovebug often turn out something like this:

are you taking a bad now?

wo ist dein diaper?

willst du obst for breakfast?

where is your flasche?

i can only imagine that her brain is a bit confused. yet, despite confusion, i think we are doing her a favour rather than not, in trying to ensure that she is exposed to both languages early.

i am amazed and humbled by my friends who speak 3 or more languages and were exposed early either through their environments or parents. it seems to me they have fewer troubles picking up new languages or communicating generally. to my mind, they are all exceptionally gifted communicators.

if i were fluent in another language, i would throw that in too. i’d love a little bambina, who could parler with the best of them.

i am certainly interested to see what her first real word will be.


traveling with baby part 2 Wednesday - 23rd March 2011

Filed under: escapades with baby — luettedeern @ 1144

warning, this post is about poop.

as you know, we recently went on a trip to italy in the car with our little brood – cat included. i anticipated that oskar, the cat, would be the problem. during our google maps sanctioned 4-hour turned 5 1/2-hour drive there (thanks to the skiers who were headed to the resorts in austria), we (read: i) were a bit freaked out that oskar would have to go to the bathroom. how do you help a cat go to the bathroom on the road? i had visions of the front seat with cat doodoo on it and was wondering what that would do to the car’s resale value…

thankfully, that didn’t happen. one little mew at one point and other than that, oskar just snoozed away and seemed perfectly content. so, we made it to bolzano completely in tact. the sun was shining, it smelled like spring, and we knew the holiday would be good.

lovebug is generally a good traveler. she went on her first transatlantic flight at 7 weeks and had already done the trip to bolzano once before. she is pretty seasoned and doesn’t complain too much. but, she has developed a strange association with her carseat in the car, which has come to create excitement more than just a few times.

now, i don’t really mind changing diapers. i may complain about it a bit at the end of a particularly long day or when the contents have spread up the back or squished out the sides, but for the most part, it’s ok. not my favourite task, but not as bad as i had imagined it would be before lovebug was around.

but, this kid has a knack for pooping just a few minutes after we get her settled into her carseat and pull away from the curb. i don’t mean a small, quick poopie diaper either. i mean POOPIE DIAPER. we joke about it, that it seems to be her cue: sit in carseat, drive for about 10 minutes, time to poop. her head gets all red, she purses her lips, clenches her fists, and i hear a barely audible squirty sound, and then about 30 seconds later,  the smell hits me. it takes another 60 seconds or so for the smell to hit the front seat. (i sit in the back with her right now).

holy crap! literally.

i am generally appalled by most changing tables and italy is the rule rather than the exception to this. so, i changed lovebug’s icky diapers in the backseat. it is nothing short of comical. usually because i am squealing at her papa:

hold her! hold her! she turning over!

it’s up her back!

her foot’s in it! it’s on the seat!

where are the wipes?!

then, once she’s all fixed up, i hand her papa a diaper weighing about 2 kilos to deposit somewhere else.

on the way to back from milan, she pooped 3 times. all of them icky.

she giggles her way through the changing and more than once, sympathetic fellow travelers in the cars parked next to us, smile in at me in the backseat as i change her. lovebug sees them and starts to flirt.

and even though, changing her diapers in parking lots and at rest stops isn’t the most elegant or exciting part of her childhood, it is going to be something that we will laugh over for many years to come.


green products again Tuesday - 22nd March 2011

Filed under: greenie — luettedeern @ 859

i just saw this piece on abc news on green products for baby. although i cannot get most of them over here in europe, i wanted to share with anyone who may be interested. most of you mamas are probably up at 700 am anyways, so you may have seen this on gma, but in case you missed it. it’s added in the links section to the right “green products for baby”, since my wordpress literacy isn’t up to snuff yet and i don’t know how to embed the link here.

i love those little bamboo wipes! and i hope to be able to find some some green sunscreen. i have been looking already for a week or so, and haven’t found the right product yet. blue lizard was the one recommended to me up to now, but it doesn’t seem to have made the leap to the continent yet.


joining the playground tribe Wednesday - 16th March 2011

Filed under: the daily grind,Uncategorized — luettedeern @ 1734

so, i went to my neighbourhood playground with lovebug for the first time recently. pulled up with my baby’s ride, a joolz. could see the other mama’s checking us out, deciding if we were going to be accepted to the playground tribe or not.

i felt oddly and completely self-conscious. did i have the right kind of shoes on? is a stokke or a quinny the pram of choice around here? what is the mama “look” in my part of town right now and am i sportin’ it? should i walk up to someone and say hello or stick to myself and wait until an opening for conversation arose through the interaction of the babies? i didn’t know anyone and wasn’t noticing any welcoming smiles or interested looks, so i sighed and pulled up to the swing so lovebug could have some fun.

i was clearly the new kid in town and had to figure out where i fit in the playground hierarchy.

the others stood around in little cliques of playground mamas. and there was a very clear division between different groups. this group over here looked kinda eco-greenie, that group over there younger and athletic, there was another group of foreign nannies near the slides speaking romanian or hungarian, not sure which. could have been polish too. there was also a small cadre of swiss grandmas with tea canisters casting deciding glances over everyone. the spanish speaking nannies formed yet another lively group. one lone papa sat on a bench amidst all of it. this isn’t sweden, after all.

i wasn’t at all sure which was my clique, or which one it should be.

the playground is an important place in the life of a stay-at-home-mama. you need to be accepted there. if it’s your neighborhood playground, you’ll probably be there often, see the same mamas, and want to talk to someone at sometime. even if just to discuss something banal as the weather.

i don’t speak or understand (too well) swiss german. i speak high german and can do that perfectly fine. but not swiss german. and i have no intention of learning it. so, i felt uncomfortable making my way to the group of swiss german speaking mamas.

the young, athletic type mamas seemed like they’d be nice too, but their group was laughing and talking intensely while standing close to one another in a circle facing each other. how do you break into that? you can’t exactly sidle up to them and casually bump into the circle. without looking like a desperate fool, that is.

i feel like i need a strategy for the playground. a friend of ours recently told me, one way that he gets into conversation with groups of people at the playground is to bring along a toy and drop it nonchalantly as he passes them. they will probably notice the toy and call his attention to it. et voilà: instant conversation. he did stress that you must choose toys you are willing to get dirty. it may take a few drops for the conversation to begin.

i may try that next time – we have enough toys.

for lovebug it is really important. since she isn’t in day care or a playgroup (i have no idea where to do that here) some of her main interaction with other kids will be at the playground. starbucks is the other place. i can already see how her face lights up when she sees other kids and it makes me feel a bit badly, that i can’t quite figure out how to break into the groups.

i would have thought that as an adult, it would be no big deal to make friends at the playground. but in some ways, it is sort of like being a new kid at a new school on the first day of high school.

the best i can say is that we are working on it. the other day i actually talked to one of the swiss mamas at the playground. maybe a playdate is only a few weeks away…


traveling with baby part 1 Tuesday - 15th March 2011

Filed under: escapades with baby — luettedeern @ 1203

we just returned from a 10 day trip to northern italy. in the car. with lovebug. and the cat. i’d post a picture here of how stuffed to the gills the car was, but am afraid that we’ve broken some sort of Swiss law about overpacking your car, have subsequently endangered all other drivers on the Swiss roads, and will be tracked down and skewered. so, i’d better not. btw, i always feel like i am breaking some sort of a law in switzerland, but that is fodder for another post.

the cat came along because i felt so guilty leaving him alone at home with just a cat sitter popping by every day (and do i REALLY know if she actually comes every day?). since we had an apartment in italy, oskar could come with us and enjoy a break himself. he had a big sliding door to the terrace all to himself with neighbourhood cats and birds to meet. for a city cat who lives on the top floor, this was surely something close to nirvana.

packing up lovebug and all her stuff for a holiday is nothing short of planning an international move. the stuff this kid needs to get along is truly shocking. since we are introducing her to cups now and trying to get rid of the bottle, the sippy cup had to come. she needs her little silicon spoons. she likes her special food so the food had to come too. don’t forget the formula, bottles, pacifiers, socks, bibs, toys, zwieback, burp cloths, and, and, and. it was comical. every time i thought i was done packing for her, i thought of something else. i made lists and constantly updated them. the thing is, sometimes the peace of the day hangs in the balance if that one pacifier isn’t found within 10 seconds. so, i took my packing duties very, very seriously.

italy is a wonderful place for many reasons. we were in northern italy and milan which is still orderly and clean like northern europe but has that italian flair for living that makes italy, italy. a wonderful mixture, if you ask me.

we discovered much to our delight too, that italians love babies! everywhere we went, people were constantly talking to lovebug, smiling at her, coming over to touch her and generally making a big deal over her. she loved it! she smiled at everyone and giggled. flirted with every waiter and beamed at every grandpa she saw. a nun even came over and blessed her in the milanese duomo.

things like that just don’t happen in switzerland or germany.

sometimes a sales person will mention how cute she is or a fellow tram passenger will sneak looks at her, but the enthusiasm isn’t the same. it’s all very civilised and reserved here in zürich. the whole attitude in italy about babies was just so warm and welcoming. it was so very refreshing.

going to restaurants was of course a bit of a challenge sometimes. the first restaurant we went to in bolzano had no lift or changing table. actually, the changing table issue came up repeatedly in italy. restaurants just didn’t have them very often. i don’t know what italian mamas do.

lovebug did very well though in the restaurants, eating her food then chomping on bread or pizza crusts. i did feel a bit badly about the state of the table and floor around our table as we left restaurants. you’ll see from the picture that we left a pile crumbs, wipes, and once or twice an empty baby food jar behind us. of course compensated with a nice tip.

next post i will share more from our journey in italy.