Fontaine à Chambéry

Fontaine à Chambéry

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baby Toothbrushing

Z now has 6 little teeth, so about a month ago, we bought a toothbrush for her. We’ve merely been using it as a distraction when we are getting her ready for school in the mornings. She likes to watch us brush our teeth and she copies, but we didn’t really get serious about brushing those baby teeth until last night. I bought fluoride-free infants’ toothpaste yesterday at Target (it’s fruit flavored!) and we brushed Z’s teeth as best we could. She flipped out. She likes doing things herself and was very angry that I was pinning her arms down and brushing her teeth rather than letting her do it herself. Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8. Kate was talking about what a hassle it was to brush all of her children’s teeth, and after last night, I cannot imagine being responsible for brushing eight little mouthfuls of pearly whites. I suppose once they get used to it, it’s not that big of a deal anymore. But eight?Good lord. So, I suppose this will just be one thing we need to be strict about until it becomes part of our routine. But man, am I grateful we don’t have eight mouths to brush every night.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thoughts on Parenthood

Your heart will melt the first time your baby smiles at you.

Diaper explosions and leaks are inevitable, so carry plastic bags at all times.

Z started sleeping through the night at 4 weeks. Yep, we’re very, very lucky.

Teething sucks for everybody, but those pearly whites are so cute!

We had our first ER visit when Z was 5 months old because of an RSV scare at daycare. Thankfully she didn’t have RSV, just an ear infection. She was chumming it up with the nurses while we waited to see the doctor.

Tragedies like Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon bombings make you realize how precious life is and how you’ll do anything to protect your child. Z will always be my baby…even when she’s 60.

Milestones are exciting! Sitting up, crawling, starting solids, talking, using a spoon and fork, waving, clapping, walking…there are so many things your baby learns to do during her first year of life.

Take family photos on a regular basis. We’ve taken a total of 4 since Z was born (and none professionally). I’ve vowed to get better about this.

Take at least one photo a day of your kid. They grow too fast.

Traveling is easy if you’re calm, come prepared, and go with the flow.

The other day I was lying on our bed with Z and I kissed her forehead. She looked at me, then reached over and gave me a really slobbery kiss on my cheek. I started laughing so she kept doing it. Be sure to record little moments like this so you can look back and reminisce.

It would be nice to be able to go to the bathroom alone.

An empty plastic bottle filled with macaroni noodles or beads makes as good of a toy as a $5 rattle.

Google will put your mind at ease and give you more to worry about all at once.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Z's Birth Story

Happy first birthday to our wonderful daughter! 

Surprisingly, I slept really well the night before we went to the hospital. I guess I knew it would be the last night of really good sleep I’d get for a while. I called the hospital to make sure they had a room available, and we got the last room! We got to the hospital at 7:30 in the morning. The nurses were all really friendly and had just come on duty and made it their mission for me to be comfortable and have everything go according to plan (or as close as it could). I got settled into my gown and got in the bed. They did an internal (worst thing in the world) and turned out I was already in labor and was having contractions, which I couldn’t feel. They said we would have been at the hospital regardless of whether I had gotten induced or not, so that was comforting.

Most of the day we just hung out and waited for things to happen. I tried to rest as much as I could and we watched tv and I read. Robin dozed. I got an epidural, which was no big deal. Even though I had been having huge contractions before that, I wasn’t feeling anything. We continued to wait. At 5:00, we heard screaming. The nurses in the hall were yelling for an epidural. We heard a lot of running and Robin peeked his head out—they were heading next door! We then heard screaming for about 5 straight minutes. We were joking that the woman should have gotten an epidural sooner so she wouldn’t disturb everyone. A while later a nurse came in to check on me and we asked what happened. Apparently the woman had gone to another hospital for an induction but was sent home because it FAILED. What? She was then on her way home when she realized that no, it actually hadn’t failed, and she was in full labor, so she stopped by the hospital. That’s how Peaches K. (Yes, that was her name, according to the white erase board outside her door.) had her baby within 5 minutes of arriving at the hospital. I still feel bad for her.

Around 5:45, I got really nauseated and actually threw up all over my gown and bed because it came on so suddenly. The nurses were thrilled and said that meant I was close to having Z! My doctor came in and did another internal and said “Well I’ll be damned; you’re dilated to 10 centimeters!” The whole crew came in and at 6:20 I started pushing. It progressed slowly and is really hard…even though you’ve never done it before;instinctively you know how to do it. At 6:55 my doctor came back in and could see I was getting really tired. He asked if I wanted to use the vacuum and I agreed. At 7:03, Z was born! She was gorgeous and was looking around and got mad when they cleaned her up. R cut the cord and took photos while they weighed and measured her: 18.5 inches, 7.4 pounds, and she scored 9/9 on both Apgar tests. After I got cleaned up, we snuggled for a bit and took our first family photo. My mom came and held Z before they took her to the nursery for her hearing test and the other things they do with babies after they’re born. The nurse ordered my dinner: hot dog, chips, andjello. I took a shower. The nurse brought Z back and we all settled in…then we couldn’t figure out the swaddle. We called the nurse and she showed us. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t fall asleep. Z was whistling and making a lot of loud newborn noises and I was paranoid about watching her. R suggested Z spend the night in the nursery with the other babies so we could get some rest. Z was born one day before her due date. She’s a very punctual girl and likes to keep to her schedule.

The day after Z was born, my grandparents, mom and aunt came to visit. Z smiled for the first time. And no, it wasn’t a fake smile—she’s been smiling ever since. We got to go home the next morning. Getting Z dressed in her going home outfit was so scary. She was so tiny and I thought we’d break her. She didn’t even fit in her car seat. When we got home, we quickly fell into a routine, most of which included resting and watching the Olympics. My birth experience was very positive. I’m thankful I was not Peaches K. that hot day in July.

 Smiling the day she was born

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pregnancy Story

In honor of our dear, sweet Z's first birthday, I decided to write about my pregnancy, her birth story, and our first year as parents.


I started feeling really weird a couple of weeks into November 2012. I knew something wasn’t right because all of a sudden I was exhausted all the time, to the point where I’d fall asleep almost anywhere. It was a huge feat to move from the couch to our bed in our tiny apartment. That’s just not normal for me. I was getting my hair cut a week before Thanksgiving when my hairdresser took one look at my hair and said “Are you pregnant?” Your hair looks different.” I had chalked my exhaustion and crankiness up to stress from work, applying to grad school, immigration stuff and our impending French wedding reception, but when she said that, everything immediately clicked. I fervently denied being pregnant and promised I’d start deep conditioning my hair on a regular basis. I looked at my calendar that night and decided that I’d take a pregnancy test the next week.

I woke up the morning of November 23, 2011, the day before Thanksgiving, and took the test. It was positive. We were surprised, scared and excited. I went to work and could hardly concentrate on anything. Just to make sure, I tested again every day, multiple times a day, for the next 3 days. All tests were positive. I looked over my planner, which I’m meticulous about keeping, and calculated my due date to be Wednesday, July 25.

At our first doctor’s appointment a week later, the doctor confirmed a very strong, healthy heartbeat. He set up my next appointment for after the New Year and said we’d do an ultrasound at 12 weeks because the risk of miscarriage was significantly decreased at that point. We decided to not tell anyone until after the first trimester in case anything happened. Man, that was tough. I had started having all-day sickness and throwing up in the morning and at nighttime. I was sure my family knew something was going on since I was no longer drinking and was throwing up anytime we ate chicken. R ended up caving and telling his parents before we went to France, because, as he pointed out, they would know as soon as I wasn’t drinking wine. I somehow managed the trip to France and back, being surrounded by my family and best friends, throwing up a lot, being worried about a miscarriage, without anyone catching on. Whew.

We went to the doctor for the 12 week appointment and saw Z for the first time. The doctor confirmed only a single baby (thank you!) who had a great heartbeat and a large head…it was measuring 3 weeks ahead of schedule because of her big bilingual genius brain (that's what we decided). We got photos of the ultrasound, which we immediately fawned over and printed duplicates at Walgreens. For my parents’ anniversary on January 11, we gave them an ultrasound photo. My mom thought it was a picture of the glacier we had visited in France. My dad immediately knew what it was. They were thrilled! Next came my sister H, who was really excited to become an aunt. We then told our grandparents, friends, and extended family members.

We were researching daycares and put our names on the waiting list on February 10. The waiting list is usually a year long, so it was smart we put our names on when we did. The following week, February 17, we had our 17 week ultrasound and learned we were having a Z! This date was monumental for two reasons: we found out we were having a daughter, and it was the last time I threw up (until delivery day that is. Stay tuned). Hooray. We went to Babies R Us and bought a bunch of baby girl things after our appointment.

The pregnancy progressed great. Z was growing well. I felt her earlier than is normal, about 18 weeks. She was a mover and shaker from Day 1 and was/is always on the go. I had a bout of bronchitis that required some medicine but besides that everything progressed smoothly. I started keeping a list of my cravings: pumpkin seeds, turkey bacon, Bread Co. everything bagels and cream cheese, lattes, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (I could eat a bag every day), Rich and Charlie’s salad, and fruit; and my aversions: anything involving chicken, especially creamy chicken. 

At the end of April we bought our first home, and we moved in on May 5. The following Saturday, May 12, I was feeling weird. Really tired and crampy. I was exhausted from the move and unpacking everything, and we had had a lot of really hot days. I went to the bathroom and noticed a little blood. I tried not to freak out—I still had 2 ½ months until my due date—and called Robin. He and my dad were setting up for a family barbeque because my uncle was in town, so my mom took me to the ER. I figured I had a UTI and would get some antibiotics and go home. Uh, nope. I ended up spending the night in the hospital. Luckily the placenta was intact and there weren’t any tears. The doctors didn’t know what had caused the bleeding, but Z was her usual moving self and seemed great. I had been having contractions but wasn’t feeling them, which was good. After spending the night in the hospital and being released on my very first Mother’s Day, I stayed home for a week to sleep and take it easy.

Our birth class started in late June. We were the farthest along because the other couples weren’t due until late August, September, and even October. I was glad we registered late so that everything we learned was fresh in our minds. The class was pretty uneventful. We learned about the process of childbirth, watched some terrible videos from the ‘80s, and learned relaxation techniques. Our classmates were really interesting…there was one couple in particular we felt sorry for, because we were certain the baby was going to have a tough life: the mom, who was in her early twenties, was addicted to meth. They only came to one class and then we never saw them again. There was another couple that made class really interesting too. The woman, again in her late teens/early twenties, seemed like she didn’t really even want a kid, and her husband said as much. He was gung ho about everything. During the birth video, his wife sobbed because she was so scared. Everyone just sat and looked at her. Her husband didn’t even try to comfort her. I wonder how their kid is doing?

The rest of the pregnancy went great. I started to really show in mid-May, but I was still tiny. At my 39-week checkup on July 16, my blood pressure was sky high. My doctor ordered me to go to the ER to make sure it wasn’t pregnancy-induced hypertension. We hung out at the hospital for a couple of hours and everything went back to normal, so we were able to go home. At this point, it was mid-July, over 110 degrees every day (the hottest summer on record in St. Louis, AWESOME when you’re pregnant.) and I was so tired of being pregnant. We had everything ready: the nursery, clothes were washed, diaper bag packed, car seat installed…all we needed was our Z to arrive. I had my 40-week checkup on Monday, July 23, and once again my blood pressure was high—it was 150/100, which is very high for a pregnant woman. I didn’t have any of the telltale signs of preeclampsia, which include protein in the urine and swollen hands, feet, and face, but my doctor was still worried. He decided to put me on blood pressure medicine and I’d have to come in twice a day for the rest of the pregnancy to get my blood pressure checked out. He then looked at my chart and said “Unless you’d rather get induced? Tomorrow works for me if you’re free.” I immediately agreed and went home to tell Robin that we’d be going to the hospital tomorrow to have our baby.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY Kitchen Makeover

We've been talking about giving our kitchen a facelift for ages. I think it's a direct result of watching too much HGTV and seeing fixer-uppers and DIY home renovations. We researched the price of new cabinets and were astounded at how expensive they were--over $5,000! We decided a paint job was a better idea. After talking about statting the project for a while, we finally set a date where we'd be able to paint the cabinets and put in some new cabinet pulls. We got all of our supplies, which totaled $180 dollars. The process was incredibly lengthy but it turned out great!

Buy Your Materials

1. Choose your paint. We chose Behr White Truffle because it went well with our granite counter tops.

2. Find cabinet pulls that you like.

3. Buy your primer. We used 1-2-3 Primer because you don't have to sand the surface before you paint. It eliminated a lot of work and went on very smoothly.

4. Get a box of trisodium phosphate to thoroughly clean your cabinets before you prime. It gets rid of grease and dirt and makes the cabinets pristine. 

5. Buy your other supplies: bucket, brushes, plastic drop cloth, cloths to use the TSP with, plastic gloves, face masks, sawhorses, and anything else you'll need. R owns a paint spray gun thing so he used that, which worked AMAZINGLY. It really made the paint adhere to the surface of the wood a lot better than had we painted with a brush. Also, the coverage was smoother and the paint dried a lot faster. 


1. Clean your cabinets out. While this was a pain to do, it was also nice to see what we had crammed in our cabinets. I found coffee that expired in 2011. 

2. Take off the cabinet doors, and mark their location so you put them back correctly later. Remove drawers.

3. Clean all wood with a mixture of 1/2 cup TSP and 2 gallons of warm water. Be sure to use gloves, because TSP can really irritate your skin. Rinse the TSP residue from the cabinets by using a damp, warm cloth.

4. Apply primer and allow to dry. 1-2-3 Primer has a dry time of 1 hour between coats.

5. Apply paint. Allow to dry 2 hours between coats, if necessary. We only used one coat. 

6. Put cabinet pulls on.

7. Attach cabinet doors and return the drawers to their sockets.

Notes: Read the paint label, but with Behr, you can't wipe down the paint for 4 weeks because it takes that long to cure. After all of your hard work, make sure you avoid ruining the finish. 

Behr paint is about $33 at the Home Depot

Choose cabinet pulls, if you don't already have them






We still need to add the new toe kick and find a plug cover for that outlet near the ceiling.

Our next project is to add backsplash and new lighting. We would also like to get a new stainless steel stove and clear up our limited counter space by putting the microwave above the stove. All of this will take months, but it's fun to think about, plan, and take time to find the materials we want. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

We painted our kitchen cabinets over the weekend (will post about that soon!) so our house, and especially our kitchen, is a huge mess. I needed a quick and easy dinner idea that involved little cooking and preparation so I could try and get some order restored to the household. This recipe was fast, easy, and best of all, the only prep was throwing everything in my beloved crockpot.


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of salsa, any flavor (I used mild)
2/3 cup of water
Whole wheat tortillas
Taco toppings such as: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, onion, corn, black beans, sour cream, etc.

Put chicken in the crockpot and cover with the salsa and water. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and return to the crockpot. Put meat and toppings in whole wheat tortillas. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Things to Do Before You Travel Abroad

1. Contact your bank/credit card company to tell them you'll be out of the country. If you don't, you run the risk of having your debit or credit cards flagged for fraudulent activity, rejected when you try and make a purchase, or worse, eaten by an ATM (this has happened to me, and it's not fun).

2. Get cash before you go. It never hurts to have enough money to buy meals, get into attractions, and tip drivers. You don't know what the situation will be when you arrive at your destination. When I went I Greece in 2004, all of the banks were on strike, meaning that I couldn't get money from an ATM or cash my traveler's checks (remember those?!). Since Greece was the second part of my Mediterranean vacation, and I was too young to have a credit card, this really sucked. Those kids (I was traveling with a group from high school) who had extra cash quickly became powerful. 

3. Read about the destination, local customs, and attractions. Knowledge is power, and can prevent you from missing out on something or making a fool of yourself because you aren't aware of customary tendencies.

4. Learn some basics of the language. You don't have to become bilingual, but learning key phrases will help you and will make natives treat you better because they'll appreciate your effort. My broken Italian and French has come in handy plenty of times.

5. Scan your passport and save it in an email to yourself. Don't print copies and put it in your luggage! If your luggage gets lost, your copied passport papers will be inside, which is bad news. If you lose your passport, you can head to the nearest U.S. Embassy and get a replacement ASAP from your digital copy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Venus Fly Trap

Because our cats eat anything green, we can't have house plants, so they're currently at my parents' house, where they're slowly dying of dehydration because my mom forgets to water them. I really like greenery and the way plants spruce up interiors. I'm hoping someday the cats get over their penchant for plant-eating and subsequent vomiting so we can once again have plants in the house.

A couple of Christmases ago (well, more like five), my mom managed to find Venus Flytraps and put them in our stockings. The flytraps were miniature and there were four of them in the little plastic container. My sister and I spent Christmas morning putting stuff in their mouths (?) and watching the plants clamp down. It was definitely one of the coolest gifts I've ever received.

Unfortunately, things started to go wrong that very morning: I dangled a ribbon in one of the trap's mouths and it closed. I tried tickling the flytrap to get the ribbon out but it wouldn't budge. In another of the plant's mouths I put some raw hamburger. It closed and didn't open again; I thought it was digesting. I monitored the progress of my precious flytraps and was concerned when their vitality appeared to be dwindling. A few days later, I went to Egypt for two weeks. I asked my family to take good care of my flytraps while I was gone.

When I returned, I was dismayed to find that every one of my traps had died. They were all shriveled and black. The ribbon eater still had the ribbon dangling from its mouth. I don't think the hamburger had been consumed either because it was starting to smell really bad. 

I've never seen flytraps for sale, but if I do, I'd like to try to have them again. I wonder what the cats would do? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Where Are They Now?

My sister H and I went to Paris in May/June 2009. We timed our trip perfectly because it wasn’t quite tourist season and the weather was gorgeous—sunny and 70 degrees each day. We decided to spend our money on attractions, so we ate cheap while we were there; most days we would walk down the street to a little bakery and buy a French baguette, then we’d stop by a cheese shop and get a hunk of cheese to share. We spoke no French and as I remember, the proprietors of the shops didn’t speak English (or if they did, it wasn’t to us). Rather, we pointed to what we wanted and they handed it over. Although it doesn't sound like it, it was all very amicable. We’d eat our lunch of bread and cheese in a park near our hotel, or while walking around the streets of Paris.

One day we were leaving the park by the Eiffel Tower and saw a kiosk full of bikes. These are located throughout the city so you can rent a bicycle, ride to your destination, and return the bike at another kiosk. We decided to ride back to our hotel, which was located on a street off of the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe. When we tried to check out the bikes though, the automatic card reader wouldn’t accept our credit cards. You couldn’t pay with cash either. We kept trying, with different debit and credit cards, but to no avail. 

At the same time, a couple and their son came up and started trying to get bikes too. We sort of waited around to see if they’d be able to figure out how to work the kiosk. When they were unsuccessful, we walked on and decided that we’d find a restaurant to eat lunch. We settled for a tiny pizza parlor that could barely fit the six tables that were inside. The couple and their son walked in right after us. "We overheard you say this place had pizza, and it sounded good. We aren't stalking you!" they said, as they were seated at the table next to us.

Because of the close nature of the tables, the family was only about 3 inches away from our table. We started talking and learned that the family was from the same town in Colorado where our great aunt lives (small world!). The family was taking an extended vacation throughout the major cities in Europe--Paris, Rome, Madrid, London--in order to figure out where to live next. What? That's right, they were moving from a small town in Colorado to a major city in order for their son, who was seven or eight, to have a better education. I distinctly remember the dad saying "It's time he learn a new language. His mom is fluent in Spanish, and I speak French." Wow, impressive. 

The son was very different from other boys his age. He told us in great detail about everything they had seen and done in Paris. He spoke a lot about his favorite works at the Louvre, which they had visited the day before. Being an art history nerd, I really enjoyed talking about art with that kid. The boy even asked us what we had on our itinerary. How many little kids can participate in a conversation like that with total strangers? As lunch wrapped up, the dad told us that he was an author and had just published a book called Wakeup Call From Mexico. He told us to look out for it, we agreed that we would, and we parted ways down the thin Paris street. 

That was four years ago. I still think about that family from time to time and wonder where they ended up and how their language learning is going. The family as a whole was so enthusiastic about learning, travel and culture; I truly hope they're out there in the world doing and experiencing great things. A couple years ago for H's birthday, I bought her Wakeup Call From Mexico. I doubt she's read it, and maybe she never will, but it's cool to own a book by an author (Wilson Beck in this case) you met while trying to rent a bike in a foreign country. If you're out there Beck family, I hope you're well. 

Perfect weather for a bike ride.

H had her purse in the basket and everything!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Product Review: Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Serum

Want longer, thicker lashes? Six months ago, my friend J told me about a great product I should try. "It seriously changed my life. People ask me all the time if these are my natural eyelashes," she told me. She does indeed have beautiful eyelashes.

Rimmel London's Lash Accelerator Serum is a relatively inexpensive ($8 at Target) and pain-free way to get longer, thicker eyelashes. You just apply the serum once daily either before you put on your mascara or before you go to bed (it's part of my bedtime routine). If you do this religiously, you'll start to notice improved length and fullness in your lashes in about 3 weeks. I have really thin eyelashes and I've noticed a definite increase in eyelash attractiveness since I've started using this product. I think I'm close to even competing with R and Z. (Don't you hate when men and/or babies have gorgeous eyelashes and don't even realize how lucky they are!? Z takes after R and won't ever have to use mascara. Lucky girl.) So, if you're in the mood to try a new product, choose this one! 

Here is where you can find more information about this product, compliments of Rimmel London's U.S. website.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Family-Friendly Frozen Treats

Since the 4th of July is synonymous with eating delicious frozen desserts (or at least it is to me), I've been trying to find a healthy alternative to ice cream packed with sugar. And boy, did I find one. Best of all, the ingredients are things you already have around the house. This recipe is good for humans and animals alike, because the ingredients are all-natural. 


2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup blueberries, or to taste
3/4 cup strawberries, or to taste
Ripe bananas
Ice cube trays

I made a few different batches: blueberry, strawberry, banana, and plain. Blend the fruit and yogurt in the blender until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Baby, pooch, and kitties (give them the plain kind) can all enjoy this healthy frozen treat. Happy 4th of July! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Zucchini Soup (Made with Two Ingredients!)

On this unseasonably cool, dreary and rainy day in July, all I want to do is snuggle up with a book and some soup. So, here’s one of my favorite summer soup recipes that’s quick and delicious, and only has a few ingredients! It is good served both hot and cold, depending on your preference.  


1 wheel of Laughing Cow cheese (I use the Garlic and Herb flavor)
3 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices

In a stockpot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pieces of zucchini and boil until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. Unwrap the wedges of Laughing Cow and put in a blender. Add the zucchini and puree until smooth. Pour back into the stock pot and heat through, if desired. If you want, you can season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, but I usually eat it plain. Serve with bread. Enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Easy Fish Tacos

We've had these twice now and they've been delicious both times. The total prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 7, and everything is prepared in one skillet (and a cutting board). Gotta love an easy cleanup, especially on a weeknight.


4-8 tilapia fillets, cut in 1-inch sections (I've used frozen and fresh and both turned out great). If you like more substance to your tacos or are cooking for more people, use more fillets.

Chili powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Garlic, to taste

Whole wheat tortillas, warmed

Taco toppings such as: diced onion, diced tomato, black beans, corn, lettuce, shredded cheese, avocado, lime (to squeeze), salsa, or buffalo ranch dressing

1 tablespoon olive oil


Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and heat. Add the tilapia and seasonings. Stir occasionally, until tilapia is cooked through and beginning to crumble. 

Warm tortillas in the microwave. 

Prepare tacos according to your liking. Create a taco bar if you're serving a lot of people. Pour some margaritas. Voila, you're done!