Mom Shanti

Musings on living abroad, motherhood, yoga, and all the in betweens…

Ohhhhh Mallorca…. September 30, 2010

Filed under: Food,Kids,Travel — momshanti @ 7:46 am

One of the perks about living close to Geneva at the heart of Europe is that a flight to, oh, say, Palma de Majorca is only a hop (skip and jump unnecessary) away.  Last week Fred took five solid days of vacation and we took the hour and half flight to Palma.  The first family vacation without skis in tow since Nash’s arrival almost a solid two years ago!  It was due time, and who better to convince me to embark on such a journey than my most recent Geneva departee (and beloved girlfriend), Laura, who I have been missing since February.  She also has a little boy who has about 13 months on Nash, and our hubs get along well, so we figured why not?

You would think living at the heart of Europe that we do these kinds of things all the time, and every time we do something like this I think longingly, ohhhh why not more often, but to be honest this is one the first of its kind in YEARS.  We’ve done the odd weekend here and there, but not a real deal week-long out and about just being wanderlustly obnoxiously oblivious yet oh so obviously TOURISTS.  And it was fabulous, even if we were obnoxious, which I assure you we were.  Oversized bags hanging off the sides of loaded down strollers, city map in hand looking up, down and around at sights, pushing our way into crowded restaurants and then plopping our nap deprived child into the high chair (Ipod in hand to watch downloaded Yo Gabba Gabba, mind you), him all the while protesting ‘WALK.’

But the flip side of all of that was that once we were at our little casa in the middle of the Soller orange groves, feet kicked up on the coffee table sipping lattes and catching up with two of our favorite people as our babies finally slept upstairs…  vacation at last.  At least until morning when the boys were up and as rambunctious as the day prior.  The two wee ones definitely had a love-hate volley going on throughout the course of the week, something that was good for me to see.  It’s funny that primal sort of ‘Here you, go, my friend,’ and then, ‘NO!! MINE!!’ dialectic that kids are constantly oscillating between.   Here in Geneva, most of my close girlfriends have girls.  And we adore those girls.  And I think Nash is having to learn about personal space and respect and discipline and kindness and sensitivity to a great extent from these girls.   I must admit that it was very enlightening to see just how different being around other boys can be for Nash.   It was rough and tumble like the kid had never experienced before, and for most part, he absolutely loved it.  It was the week of tackles.  Nash has officially learned how to be taken down and take it on the chin (again, for the most part, we had our fair share of meltdowns!)

So yes, our trip to Mallorca was amazing.  We took a little vintage train from Soller to Soller Port, then Soller to Palma, spent a morning swimming in Cala Deia, this remote little cove where we were seriously the very first ones on the playa.   We climbed through the cliff side village of Deia one morning, and strolled the old cobbled alleys of Soller many times over.  Wandering the streets of the port side city of Palma, watching Nash soak it all in all the while.  The food was amazing as to be expected, and most of my day was spent pondering the next course.   Fresh olives to open the palate at every meal, squid every way you like (even in its own ink, which surprisingly was one of the boys favorites!),  a little sobrassada (black sausage of Mallorca… their identity symbol from what I understand), fresh (unpasterized, of course, so off-limits for my 8 month pregnant friend, Laura) cheeses in many colors, varieties and degrees of pungency.  And the wine.  Oh the wine.  I mostly stuck with local whites, though I did bring home one of the reds certified ‘Designation of Origin,’ which I will be trying once the weekend is a little closer upon us (I am attempting  to detox a bit this week after last weeks indulgences.)   They were delicious.  It was all delicious.  But most delicious of all was sitting on the sofa with a glass of my Majorcan white and being asked by my sweet girlfriend if I would be the godmother of her son.

This week was indeed one to go in the books, folks.  Good, good times.

 

Nash’s first Swiss circus zoo September 17, 2010

Filed under: Kids,Nyon — momshanti @ 8:21 pm

You heard that right.  The Swiss circus of Knie has its own ‘zoo.’  And they have arrived in town today for their one night show in our little town of Nyon.  As they bathe and primp the entourage for tonight’s spectacle, for a small fee of 3 francs, one can wonder through the maze of animals encircling the grand circus tent.

I have never been a huge fan of the idea of circus animals.  That they are penned up cruising around in little pint-sized boxes and

pot-bellied pig!

putting on like show ponies it just seems all a bit, well, inhumane.  But what I saw today were camels getting full body rinses, and horses being lathered and massaged.  Monkeys hooping and hollering, wind-sprinting it through little tunnels connecting three ‘cars’ and everyone lounging in the shade on hay cushioned pallets.  Not too shabby.  Maybe its all just a show, or rather in preparation for the show, but the animals did seem very well cared for as far as I could tell.  Word on the street is that Knie takes pretty good care of their lot, so we decided to check it out.

It wasn’t a huge spectacle, but enough so that Nash gave a big ‘WHOOOOOW’ on arrival.  He was happy to peek through the bars at the camels and zebras, the ponies didn’t interest him much, and the horses, well, he’s seen plenty of those.  But the elephants?  OH the elephants.  I thought we were going to have a remake of the scene at the dairy farm yesterday when he threw an absolute body-arching fit when it was time to leave the sand box.  Not a happy camper to walk away from the elephants.  Fascinating as they were munching their branches and covering themselves in hay…  nighttime routine was beckoning after an MIA nap at creche today.

So here you have it, a first for Nash.  And in the middle of our little town.  Can you tell I am loving it here?  Only in Switzerland…

 

my muffin obsession…. September 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 11:29 am

Have I mentioned that I LOVE making muffins?  Not just a little.  Really, I thought for a while that I would start a business baking and selling muffins out of my little Siemens oven in my little Swiss kitchen.   I even went so far as to ‘sell’ a batch to one of my yoga students.  I have never been so stressed and had such a meltdown as I did that morning in preparation for delivery.  It almost put a damper on my passion, but not for long.  It did, however, make me realize that I am not cut out for that right now with a wee man running around and all (and that I commend those who have figured out how to be equipped for that!)  I digress…

But seriously, I am not quite sure of the rationale behind Swiss boulangeries not being able to produce a proper muffin.   They can make croissants and eclairs, tarte au whatever-you-like and ramequins, anything and everything chocolat…  and yet, somehow when it comes to the muffin they are either a) not interested or b) incapable of producing anything worth consuming the calories.   In order to get my fix, I have to do it myself. What this means is that I am always on the hunt for new recipes.  Zucchini Pine Nut, Sweet Potato Cupcake muffins, Multigrain Blueberry…  and since I am married to a bit of a health nut (he would adamantly deny this, but seriously, who would scrape icing off of a cupcake?), I usually do try to find things that are, well, a bit healthier.

I actually can’t take credit for my latest batch.  I hosted my first fete (birthday) here in Nyon for my mother-in-law (belle-maman in French, which means ‘beautiful mother’…  only the French would endear the mother-in-law in such a way, right?  But she is lovely, I must admit…)  I was on the hunt for recipes for the festivities and it was actually MY mother (equally as lovely) who stumbled upon the absolute perfect recipe for the occasion.  It is a from a website that we both love and visit frequently (her probably more so than I) called DesignSponge.

this was the idea for the cake

Oh dear deliciousness with a healthy undertone heaven.  Pistachio Olive Oil Fig Compote Layer Cake with Cream Cheese frosting.  And I substituted agave nectar for the sugar to make it slightly less guilt inducing.  But let’s face it.  Icing is icing.  And I absolutely smothered those suckers in it.  Best prepared with a big hunk of butter, an even bigger hunk of full fat cream cheese and as refined as you like powdered sugar.  YUM.  It was amazing.  I actually botched the first batch baking in a tin that was too deep and not well greased.  Upon turning it out, it fell out in three distinctly separate and un-rejoin-able (if there is a word for this concoction that I have just put together, do tell) pieces.  Morning of the party with Nash dumping the contents of an entire box of Puffins cereal (am) AND his bowl of green peas (pm) onto the floor coupled with having to do TWO batches of the cake…  I was not a happy Martha to say the least.  But, in effect (and happily so) what we were left with were handfuls of cake which went very well casually schmeared with the extra icing (I doubled the recipe).

muffin sandwiches

As for the party, we took a stroll to the dairy farm to get our fresh milk for the weekend and to feed the cows.  The adventure was complete with a few meltdowns between the cousins fighting over who would ride piggy-back on Grandmaman, a dig in the community children’s sandbox at the farm, glasses of fresh milk for the kiddos, a frolic with the geese (actually they were more running/flapping frantically FROM the kiddos), and a visit with the pigs (I can’t really handle the squealing ever since Hannibal, so sans moi.)  This worked up quite an appetite for the party-goers, I must say!

My intention was that it be kid-friendly, and it was, but what that also meant was that most of it looked a bit slopped together (and thereby not worth photographing.)  Even the muffins are a bit scrappy, but something about the structure of them on the little wooden paddle, well, that I felt ok about sharing. (as soon as we dig the cable to connect my fancy Canon to the computer, I will add it;)

Menu:

Artichoke-Spinach Dip (a throwback to parties back in Greenville on McDaniel Avenue hosted by Mom.  Always a staple at her functions as I remember, and I always loved it!)

Southern (kinda) Purple Cole Slaw with Avocado (it was pretty amped up with all the naughtiness of traditional cole slaw, but had to add a little essential fatty goodness to the mix.  An homage to my South Carolinian heritage for my Swiss family.  Next party I will be attempting pulled pork as finding this is as much a challenge as a good muffin.)

Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie (just as it sounds, but for veg I tried to get a little creative and added red peppers to the mix.  Intended to put mushrooms, but they got a little ‘saucy’- and not in a good way- before I could use them.  Nash’s favorite dish at the present, always with a variation on the veggies- Eggplant has been the biggest hit so far!)

Zen Sangria (for the grown-up’s but the look of it was VERY tempting for kiddos.  Looked like Hawaiian punch but was a fiesty version with Green Tea infused vodka in the mix!  Fun times.)

So that was pretty much our weekend.  Sunday I did a morning yoga workshop with Chris Chavez (www.chrischavezyoga.com) at the newest yoga studio in Geneva (AOM Yoga).  Feeling it this morning as he had us trying to push up from Lotus into Crow (legs still bound in lotus) and directly into Handstand.  Yikes!  But fun challenges to spice up my own practice a bit…

A bientot, y’all!

 

friends. (sigh) September 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 10:13 am

So the last few weeks have definitely been some of my most challenging, as I mentioned yesterday.  (And yes, you are not mistaken, I am completely trigger happy with the ‘Publish’ option these early days as a new blogger, two days in a row, wuh-bam.)   Not only was there the uproot from Geneva to Nyon, and then the passing of my husband’s father after quick, vicious bout with lung cancer, but there was also Nash’s rite of passage into the 18 month old realm of absolute chaos, and then the realization that most of my friends in this expatriate haven of French-speaking Switzerland have already or will be in the near future, leaving me.

I know, I know, woe is me and whatnot, especially after my ruminations yesterday about the sensory beauty that surrounds me here in Switzerland, but come on.  Six years.  A best friend a year.  You do the math, that’s a lot of time spent cultivating quite a bit of closeness and then saying goodbye to that presence in my life, at least from a physical standpoint.  And really even more than that because seriously, it is hard to keep up that tight ‘So, whatcha’ up to today’ on the telephone from thousands of miles away.

And so here I sit feeling a bit sorry for myself that one of my closest mommy-friends is moving away in a few months.  She hasn’t even left yet and I am already grumpy about it.  There are times when I lament, ‘ If I know that a new friend is leaving in the next year, she’s out.’ Or, ‘I am not wasting my time on expats anymore…’  Or even still, ‘Whhhhhy do I keep making friends from my own cultural/linguistic background, I must only befriend with Swiss women, they aren’t leaving anytime soon!’

But then I realize how my abandonment (ok, so I am being a little dramatic) is spawning this blog in the first place and I guess I should be telling all you deserters (and you know who you are), Thank you!  I miss each and every one of you so much and for the most part don’t get to speak to you nearly enough, so here is my new outlet for *hopefully* inspiring you to share more with me.  Isn’t that how this all works, karmically speaking?  The more you give of yourself, the more comes back to you in return?  But on the other hand, and to be completely frank, in some ways me writing like this feels like self-indulgent yammering on about my spoiled pampered life here in Switzerland.  N’est pas?

But wait, back to other hand.  The fact is that as glamorous as living abroad sounds, the reality is that it is actually no different than anywhere else’s daily affairs (Western world specific, of course).  We get up.  We eat our cereal.  We run laps around the kitchen.  We chase cats in the garden.  We reheat our cold coffee a fourth time.  We put on Yo Gabba to have 25 minutes of peace.  We call our friends to organize our day.  We read crap online.  We forget to pick up the baking soda at the grocery AGAIN.

You see where I am going with this?

Granted, some weekends we will make trecks up into the Alps for a fondue (rare).  Or jump on that three hour train to Paris (done it only a handful of times since arriving here.)   Or float in Lac Leman (Geneva) to cool off on a hot summer day (because we have no A/C and let’s face it, its only warm enough to do that here about 2 months out of the year.)

So what I am getting at is that it’s the same you-know-what.  Bedtime ritual probably looks as similar as that of the morning, no kidding.  So before you go rolling-your-eyes-and-want-to-punch-me-in-the-face on me, have a think about that.

And this brings me back to my earlier lament about my friends here.  With all the beauty (yes, the views are breathtaking all the time) and all the Europeanness and all the ‘glamour’ of this life here, the real reality is that friends don’t stick around.  And it sucks big time.

But what it does mean (to lighten this up a bit) is that NOW I have this network of beautiful, amazing, interesting, affectionate women in my playground that is the world, right?  And while that usually means that early morning chats are out (minimum 6 time zone hours ahead is not on my side), if I DO happen to wake up and can’t sleep in the middle of the night, guess what?  I am not alone!

What I am trying to say as you so generously check in on my goings on is that hopefully me getting this out, me sharing my life with you in this forum will motivate you to do the same (it already has for some of you!)  And then, I don’t have to feel as though this is all in vain, that I am just blabbing on to hear myself type.   Because I miss all of my friends and family immensely all the time, and I wouldn’t take back a second (even if they were VERY limited) of time with any of you, that is for certain.  And seriously, guys, Facebook just isn’t cutting it for me.  I feel like a stalker, plain and simple.

…to all my friends (and fam) far and wide, my self-proclaimed excusez-moi for being so out of touch over the last six (or one or two or TEN) years…   love, nat

 

On y va… September 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 8:16 am

Its been years that I have considered writing a blog.  Six to be exact.  I am living so so far away from friends and family and now with a wee one on the scene, well I figure why not document our daily mundane like so many others in the internet world of online existence?  I’ve been keeping a journal for years with the intention/hope that someone would eventually read it, so why not just put it all out there for the world to see now?  So here we go, on y va…

Like most mornings I am up drinking my extra milky coffee listening to the ‘clang clang clang’ of the cowbells on the hill just on the other side of the creek from our house.  Nash is upstairs chatting away as he does most mornings, gibbering himself out of his sleepy fog into one of playdates, creche, snackies, booms, snuggles, etc.  Mieussy the cat perches herself on the ledge of the door frame in daily contemplation of ‘outside or inside,’ as delighted that she has the option now as she was when we moved in a month ago.

Geneva to Nyon.  It was a rather simple move and yet one that caused more stress than I have experienced thus far in my 32 years.  Not sure if it was a result of moving with an 18 month old, or if it was more about moving into an older less closet-equipped space where we have had to be more ‘creative’ with our storage?  I am certain that moving day and the death of my husband’s father coinciding at the exact same moment didn’t help, but it is what it is.  Stressful and very very sad.

But here we are now, and I am still getting used to the whole doors flung wide open onto the garden, listening to the cowbells, feeling the cool Swiss morning rustle up autumnal sentiments as the summer wanes its final days…  not too difficult a task at all.  We moved out to the ‘countryside’ for our little guy.  Needed more outside-open-air-green-space-for-him-to-grow-all-the-better in our lives.  I loved Geneva (at least grew to love it after a few years), but it was time for a change.  We were in a gorgeous modern apartment, but one which had neither balcony nor garden.  So as lovely and modern as it was, for Nash to get fresh air we had to make an ‘official’ sortie out the front door.  Now its rain boots over jammies and he’s off…

So yeah, pretty sure my boy likes it here, too, rambling on in his crib.  Downtown he would never have done this, but something about these tranquil mornings has him slow rising these days.   A few minutes ago he started on with ‘Papa, Papa, Papa,’ but he has now moved on to other subjects.  Probably talking about how frustrating it is to be 18 months is what I would guess as emotionally tumultuous as things are at the moment.  One extreme to the next, let me tell ya.  Okay, so that’s not entirely true, yesterday he did sit still for almost an entire hour to Skype with Jamjam (Gramma).  Pas mal.  Something about the computer just transfixes the child, its unbelievable (though not uncommon I am aware.)  Pingu, Yo Gabba Gabba, Jamjam…  top three things he will sit still for.  Much else?  Nope.  He is a super-charged battery these days, most especially wriggly when it comes time to eat something.  It unravels me.

Shoe-shoes.  Or Chaussures?  Not sure which, but Nash is beckoning me with the command as I type.  He was content a good 10 minutes doing laps around the living room/kitchen waving the cat’s fluffy feather duster on a string, her watching him in dismay never having seen such a performance with one of her toys prior to this.

Nash's new playground

And so, I cease my own ramblings as my day is kicking into full gear.  Nesting, teaching, nurturing, those are my gigs today, though not in any particular order of quantity or importance.   The sun is glinting off of the blond head of my child as he runs around in our garden outside and I cannot help but think that documenting this at this very moment is necessary, mundane as it all may be.

And now he has managed to squeeze himself through the bush in pursuit of the cat and into the neighbor’s yard.  Yes, retrieving?  Did I mention retrieving as a gig, because if I didn’t and if I were to rank events in order of occurence, that would most certainly be at the tippity top.