Rubbing shoulders with Annie Sloan


me and annie sloan2Of course interviewing a celebrity can be intimidating. Lucky for me I was too busy with my daughter’s sixth birthday party mermaid extravaganza to obsess about the upcoming interview until the night before. By obscess I mostly mean, worry about important things like:

  1. What am I going to wear?
  2. How much sleep I will loose by getting up early to drive across the country (yes you can drive accross the whole country by mid-morning)?
  3. What’s the best lunch restaurant in Neuchâtel to eat with your 6 year old daughter?

Annie Sloan is best know for her boutique brand of chalk paint. I knew I didn’t want to write another post about how chalk paint sticks to any surface or a tutorial on waxing. What I really wanted to know from this successful woman, had more to do with the idea that she raised three children AND created a successful career simultaneously. I wanted to know how she created a word-of-mouth sensation without much of a marketing budget and how she became a Pinterest sensation. I wanted to know why bloggers (like me) evangelize ASCP (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) without any compensation at all- not even in the form of free products.

neuchatel prominade2

Scenic Promenade on the shores of Nuechâtel.

Neuchatel is a charming city on the shores of the beautiful turquoise lake in the French region on the far west of Switzerland. Coco and I got up rather early and headed off for the long drive and a girls day out. I had lined up a sitter for the demonstration and interview, (which ultimately fell through-but thank heavens for iPads).

Victoria Sparkes is the owner of  Bateau Rouge, she is also my art dealer. And now you know how I managed to score an interview with Annie Sloan. Bateau Rouge is a small gift shop and creative studio on Promenade Noire number 8, one of the main streets in Neuchâtel. The chalkboard sign in front, alerts you to specials and treasures inside.


shop treasure

The shelves are full of colorful paints, knobs and artwork to beautify your surroundings. My little birds are perched all over the store.

my little birds smaller

The real feature that day, was a stencil demonstration by none-other than Annie Sloan herself.

annie demo & ASCP

I was surprised at how unpretentious and relaxed she was. I didn’t know what to expect exactly: a bigger entourage, a large colorful hat embellished with feathers – she is British after all -and an artist. In reality- Annie Sloan was quite normal. The news crews from Neuchâtel were on hand to document the entire process and add to the excitement.

tv crews there too

Stenciling as you may remember, is nothing new. It’s making a re-entrants onto the craft market with sophisticated laser cut patterns for all types of decor. Annie Sloan carries a line of stencils as well as, fabrics and of course her paint products. She showed us how easy it is to use them and how flexible they are in achieving a customized work of art. She answered lots of questions including several regarding painting fabric with chalk paint.

She is so honest & down-to-earth she even told a story of how one of her favorite linen jackets had faded and rather than tossing it out, she dyed it using black Annie Sloan chalk paint. She then reached for it and showed us that it was the jacket she had brought along for the day – a little eccentric perhaps, but the jacket was indeed very black and a perfect way to demonstrate that the products do work.

After autographs and photos and fielding lots of questions, she took a few moments and we sat down in a sunlit corner of the shop. She shared with me her journey as an artist and as an educator and how merging the two careers have become a satisfying business and brand. She told me that her desire to practice her art and decorate her surroundings led to creating ASCP- which properties of adhesion, mixability, ease of use, and a beautiful color pallets made it a welcomed solution for DIY’ers decorative needs, and filled a nitch in the marketplace. She told me about writing her first book 27 years ago when her oldest son was just a toddler. While raising 3 boys she managed to continue writing books~ 24 more, as well as working as an artist.

She shared with me that serendipitously her husband an IT professional and a left brain balance to her right brain creativity -built her a website very early on. That internet presence combined with her own early adaptation to Facebook and Twitter are important contributors to her success. Social media has indeed played a large part in her ability to market her brand at a very low cost. It’s hard to search Pinterest for more than a few minutes without running a crossed a mention of Annie Sloan chalk paint. She attributes luck too much of this success and claims that a great product sells itself. She says that by continuing to fill niches in the market with her products she can continue to grow her business and remain successful in spite of lower cost competitors. For anybody that has used her product, we all know that it’s hard to beat. Brand loyalty among her users is significant-I believe it’s because her brand is dependable. When you invested so much time and money into a piece of furniture or cabinetry (or just about anything you want to craft by hand), it provides a lot of peace-of-mind knowing what outcome to expect. And while her products are not inexpensive, they really do work. Thats the reason why bloggers like me, want to shout from the rooftops and tell every one about ASCP.

Annie credits her distribution channel of stockist as another strategy of success. By selling paint through experienced stockist, she is able to provide customers with necessary support. In addition to their stockist, customers can reach Annie Sloan and her team via Facebook and other social media any time of day. She is very quick to answer questions and assist customers through social media. I left Bateau Rouge feeling inspired by a strong woman with a vision, and a disire to share her talent and passions. And because of that desire, she has become incredibly successful along the way. I’d interview celebrities like this everyday if I could. Now Annie, could you just invent something that makes dinner and runs errands so I have more time to paint?! Special thanks to Victoria Sparkes at batue rouge and Annie Sloan and her team for making days like this possible.

match icecream 2

***On a side note: when ever possible, match your gelato to your outfit . 

Coco turns 5

coco the birthday girlWe spent Coco’s Birthday at my brothers home in Virgina.

old farm houseHe lives in a beautiful 100 year old farm house with my dear sister in law and 7 beautiful and brilliant children.

reluctant guest

My brother the gentleman farmer and somewhat reluctant birthday party guest.

My kids love visiting because there is always something to do and some one to do it with, and so it is a natural choice to spend your birthday here because its always a party!

cousins- someday jack may regret the streamersAnd can I tell you that it was the easiest birthday party I ever threw! No sending invitations, no waiting for RSVP’s, no wondering how many to plan for or stressing about decorations and games.

annie cute!There were classic sack races and bound-to-be-classic balloon-wedged-between-body-train game, we video taped wet washcloth relays where it was passed from foot-to-foot through teams of players. We laughed so hard the home movies are too shaky to share (and I have some pretty lame production skills as it is!).

sack race 2

party games3Thanks to the nieces and nephews who did the decorating and organized games, all we had to do was order a cake. I called the bakery and asked for rainbows and princesses, it was everything Coco had dreamed of.

bday cake 2



The best find was these cute Mooshka dolls that she picked out for her birthday. Have you seen these things? Are they all the rage back in the states? I LOVE THEM!




The party was held in the garden with sparklers and loads of cousins, so pretty much a perfect day.

perfect daySeveral of the cousins were at an unfair disadvantage during the games, having to compete while under heavy doses of Benadryl because they had contracted a bad case of poison ivy at the waterfalls on July 4th. I’m still counting my lucky stars we somehow avoided that! And do you see how cute the homemade crowns turned out?!

close up of cute kidsAnd just in case you want to know all about Coco watch her birthday interview. It’s packed with hard hitting questions and musical dance numbers. I think 5 suits her!

My Name is Hollee & I am Gift Averse.

I grew up in a gift adverse family. And because I don’t have much of a memory I can’t tell you a whole lot about it. I have really cute photos of Christmas time with my sister and we were always sporting matching new homemade dresses and matching baby dolls. I know that we had visits from Santa and all the normal American Christmas surprises, but by the time I was about 12 (I was the oldest) my parents started giving us a budget and taking us to the big city (Atlanta) for annual Christmas Shopping. I actually adored this tradition. Being an (almost) bona-fide teenager there was nothing more important than the opportunity to pick out my own clothes! And because we wore homemade clothes for most of our childhood (back then it seemed very “poor” and uncool)  I could think of no better way to guarantee acceptance and popularity than and Esprit tee shirt or Calvin Klein jeans, which was pretty much the only 2 things I could afford with my budget. I learned to appreciate what money could buy (or not) and I learned to take really good care of the Esprit tee shirt because it cost me so much. Over-all I can say that my parents did me a favor.

Are we gift-averse because of how we grew up?

I wonder what my younger brothers and sisters felt about it? The 3 oldest children are so close in age that I suspect we pretty much were always lumped together for every big conversation, like the existence of Santa- or lack of, like where babies come from, stuff like that. I can’t be sure about my brother – I know he wasn’t around for the baby talk, but I can be certain that my sister and I were pretty much raised as twins so I probably had the benefit of Santa and magical Christmas much longer than the rest of the kids. Maybe this is another one of those practical facts about raising large families. I digress. The point was that I was about 12 but they were about 11, 9, and 7ish and 3 (he was probably still getting Santa gifts?). I wonder if this is part of why we are so gift averse? We were given a budget, picked out what we wanted- there were no surprises. There was no concern about finding the perfect gift or the sweet feelings of excitement that come when you open exactly what you have been wishing for. We also did not learn to give gifts- which is really a talent. There was not much emphasis on gifts at all – because by the time Christmas rolled around it was entirely possible that we might have been allowed to wear the “new dress” or the “new coat” to some kind of special holiday occasion that preceded Christmas. I kind of remember Christmas time as a time to get together with cousins, to eat at Grandmas, to enjoy some homemade treasures (my favorite part) and to re-enact the nativity scene whilst narrated from the bible by the family patriarch. Then again- I don’t have much of a memory- maybe I saw this on TV and thought I remembered it. Mostly the complete De-empahsis on gifts was a positive experience.

It’s so funny how these childhood experiences shape your life. Still today I truly believe that -in general- Christmas is over commercialized. I stand firm on my opinion that the debt and stress of gifting is a negative aspect of the Holiday Season. I struggle to minimize what my kids get from us and from Santa. I use stockings as and excuse to replace practical necessities like toothbrushes and socks and underwear and hair barrettes. Looking back however I have a lot of thoughts and questions about gift giving.

Is there a flip side I am missing out on because I am gift averse? How do I show the gift-lovers in my life that I care?

  • I am generally uncomfortable with receiving gifts.
  • I have a hard time buying gifts for others.
  • I prefer homemade gifts because it equals time, thoughtfulness, and a representation of ones talent. And because I don’t want someone spending a lot of money on me (this part applies to everyone but Spartacus)

Fast forward to  today, I got together with some English speaking ladies who started meeting for a coffee many years ago. When I lived here before -12 years ago- the same tradition existed, the people are mostly all different, except for one or 2, which pretty much makes me one of the senior members of the group. But because we just moved back a few months ago I am still considered a newbie. The ladies are mostly British, there is a Swiss, a few Polish Canadians, and a Polish Ecuadorian, there is me- an American, and another American friend who splits time (winters) in Thailand, a Brazilian, A Chinese-Indonesian-Swiss, I hope I am not forgetting anyone. The point is we are a international group who really just meets to chew-the-cud and help each – to be each others family and community. It is a place to get answers, and to relax for a bit. I don’t often make it to the weekly coffee but I usually try to make the monthly (or bi-monthly) Birthday lunch. This event is organized by a few of our senior cruise directors and hosting duties are rotated around to each ladies home. Every one brings dishes of food and sits at a beautifully set table. The Prosecco is poured and we all enjoy a slow lunch to catch up on each others lives. I am one of the few with children still in-the-nest. At first I thought that I would never fit (back) in with these ladies who had the time to “lunch” and who dressed for the occasion. I thought that I would not have things in common or that my wild children would prevent me from attending get-togethers. Slowly over many months I have been so grateful as they have remembered the children’s birthdays, as they have always welcomed me with smiles and genuine questions of concern. They were the ones who donated silverware, and temporary bedding and some of the basic necessities we needed when we got off the plane. Davina was one of my first friends, she brought her son to befriend mine and play with him when we first arrived. I can’t even tell you how grateful I was that after weeks of talking to no kids, little British William was the kindest friendliest playmate to both of them. Davina even drove Spartacus over an hour away to pick up our car when it was finally cleared for purchase (another story). These ladies were here to catch me when I dove head first into this experience. I didn’t even know I needed to be caught I thought I could land all by myself.

Many of these ladies (mostly Brits) are career contractors wives. They (husband and wife team) have been around the globe, taking jobs and loosing jobs and relocating every few years or more as they follow the ups and downs of the aviation industry (warning – stay out of this industry if you can). They have raised children in foreign countries and know the warmest place within 800 miles to spend spring break. They are world travelers and have been a source or reassuring advise especially about how the kids are adjusting (or not). Today they gathered to celebrate my birthday. I arrived a few minutes late because I had to run Coco to speil gruppe. Gabriel (and the ipad) tagged along with me and were greeted with an equal amount of hospitality (this is always such a relief). The ladies seem to understand that it’s important that you meet even if you have to bring the kids along. Today they made sure to buy some “special” non alcoholic spumante- JUST FOR ME!?!? You can not imagine how much this gesture touched me. I didn’t even know that anyone noticed I don’t drink. They poured it into a beautiful champagne glass toasted the birthday girls and ate a lovely homemade lunch followed by 2 birthday cakes! Just before we all got ready to leave they started pouring the gifts into my lap, and this is when I really started to feel… nervous, embarrassed, unworthy. I didn’t know what to do with all these gifts. I hardly even know these ladies, why are they buying me all these gifts, I haven’t reciprocated. I don’t even know what to do with them. I thanked every one, gave out cheek kisses and carried my lute home. Coco and Axel could hardly contain their excitement as they got to take turns opening gift after gift: chocolates, a new uniform (apron), a handbag, little candles, a new timer (perfect for use on slow children) and lots of other sweet little trinkets.

kids opening gifts

coco's face

I was overwhelmed at the love that these gifts represent. I realized how delightful all the wrappings and ribbons were. I really wonder if they all know something I don’t? I wonder if everyone else knows what it’s like to be far from friends who normally make birthdays special? I wondered if all husbands forget about gifts and birthday cakes and anything else regarding my existance (opps, was that out-loud)? I wonder why they are so thoughtful to me? I wonder if it’s not too late for me to learn the art of gifting? Am I wrong about my gifting opinions? I have to admit all those trinkets and all that sparkly paper did a little something for me. How about you, are you gift averse? Why?

Daydreams of Mexico, Sparkly New Earrings, and Facebook Birthdays

Today I wished we were sitting on a Mexican beach, which is pretty much how I daydream about spending all my time. Instead I thawed out some rib-eyes that were gifted to us by my American Military friends who can get American beef at the BX on base. I figured it was a good day for a splurge. I added a shake of this and a glug of that and pretty soon the stove top was sizzling like my skin on a hot sunny day.
Homemade Fajitas and a big spoonful of guacamole is the next best thing to sitting on a Mexican beach in the winter right? And speaking of sizzling my skin….

fajita lunch_1

I am including this photo of myself so I will someday look back and think- “I wish I only had that many wrinkles”. This wrinkled mug was hard earned by lots of sunny days growing up in Florida- I wouldn’t trade it for all the smooth skin in the world. If you live nearby and have seen me at the gymnastics studio, or the grocery store, you may not recognize me. Today I got up, showered and applied some make up. I decided I wanted to head into this day fully camouflaged. My sidekick -Coco also wanted to get into the action and whilst she was supposed to be coloring with markers at the table, applied her own version of black eye makeup. I wished I had snapped a shot but you can see the residual leftover marker stains on this photo below where it looks like she has a black eye.

someday Ill wish I only had these wrinklesI also want to point out the lovely new earrings that arrived in the post. It is a tradition that began many years ago, maybe 10 or 12 now. I have a sweet and generous girlfriend with the worlds best taste in jewelry. We reluctantly compete with address changes and in-spite of where we are in the world, a tiny box criss-crosses the globe and arrives in my mailbox right around Dec. 10th. I always wait to open it but it’s usually the first thing I do on Dec. 10th and every year I unwrap a lovely new pair of sparkly earrings. Almost with out exception they are my favorite color- a shade of Caribbean seawater. My sweet girlfriend always remembers, and is always on time. Which is more than I can say for myself but I resolve to be on time in 2014! Today I am so happy to be sporting the prettiest new pair of turquoise blue ear bobbles! I stared into the stones while eating fajitas, its practically like I am on a beach in Mexico.

bday with kids

After cleaning the black marker off Coco’s eyes, she was pacified with a candy-cane on the cheek. As for Axel, I think he is starting to look more like me. It’s a lovely thing to see some resemblance in these children that nearly killed me during pregnancy.

Finally lets talk about Facebook. I have never been a huge fan, in-spite of having been a member for years. Ironically though I login very regularly now craving news from the states and friends back home. And just last week I discovered that my dad knows how to use the laptop AND Facebook when I posted a request for anyone knowing my parents where abouts to send me their new address (yes we are a family of gypsies). Miracles do happen. Today, I have been surprised with the little birthday wishes popping up – it is so curiously delightful to me how something so small can really be so Splendid. People you can hardly remember, people  you have never met in person, people that you haven’t seen in years all chiming in to make your day a little brighter and a little more celebratory. Today I have a new respect and appreciation for social networking! Thank you Facebook for connecting me with the world and for helping me realize that even though I am so far away from home, I am not so far from the thoughts and hearts of people who love me. And as I blow out birthday candles I will imagine you are all with me, on a beach in Mexico, eating chocolate cupcakes.

Birthday Interview Tradition

photo: Ruth ann photography ~ Axel requested sticky buns for his birthday dessert- I was lobbying hard for rice-crispy treats since they take me 5 hours less to make- but ohhh so good!

photo: Ruth Ann photography ~ Axel requested sticky buns for his birthday dessert- I was lobbying hard for rice-crispy treats since they take me 5 hours less to make- but ohhh so good!

Nine years ago, like most first-time parents in America, I started to worry about:

  1. the cost of collage
  2. the dreaded but inevitable trip to a Disney theme park
  3. purchasing a video camera

Since the first two were easier to procrastinate, we bought a video camera. For a while we were pretty good at taking video, but a big bulky extra piece of equipment to find and carry ended up being removed from our priorities and there are years of our lives unaccounted for. If I had ever re-watched the videos or learned to make and share cute movies I may have found that carrying the extra weight of a big video camera was worth it.

Later, i phones helped us capture video and we suddenly took a lot more photos because we always had the camera with us, but again I never bothered to edit the video or share it. Apparently the lives of both my children as well as our own are not interesting enough to document, but when I got committed to blogging I knew I wanted to improve my photography. I wanted proof of all the gourmet meals and fancy party ideas I was producing. Enter my Nikon D-90 SLR camera. It can even take video! I purchased the body and a few lenses. I love the 50mm lens because suddenly my kids look cuter through it, and suddenly I am gushing about them a lot more often. Since I try and take it everywhere on the weekends (the only time I get very far from the apartment) I almost always have it with me. I have enjoyed dabbling in video here and there but until Coco started swimming last month I never considered sharing it on Moxiblog. In between furniture refinishing, 3 course meals on the table by 11:30AM and trying desperately to maintain an exercise routine, I am squeezing in you tube tutorials on i movie editing. For some people this might be cake but for me it’s like sewing pipping and zippers for throw pillows- AGH!

Amateur it may be, today I am sharing Axel’s birthday interview. A new tradition (thank you Pinterest) that involves asking the same 20 questions every year and seeing what answers we get back. If I can be consistent it will be so fun. Coco’s video this year was so much longer, she is a girl, girls have a hard time deciding! Axel is already 9 years old and I so badly wish we had a few more years of this on tape, but better now than never… Happy Birthday my little boy- I love you.


Annie Sloan Chair Class at Bateau Rouge

before-after.moxiblog.comOn Saturday I attended my long anticipated chair class. Knowing I had to leave the house early in the morning I hardly got any sleep the night before (don’t you hate it when you have a morning flight?!-)

rainbows always look better in person

The sunrise and early morning rainbow were my reward for an early start and good omen for the spectacular day that lay ahead! The directions for Bateau Rouge are a little tricky with a GPS. I was looking for a business or a warehouse, but was so surprised when I ended up at Vikki’s home. She lives in a beautiful OLD gated estate  just outside of Neuchatel. Her office, studio, and shop are all in the basement level of her stunning home- what a perfect way to live I thought, as I gazed over the garden and swimming pool.

Jessicas pillows stunning!

Here is a photo of Vikki’s sofa, don’t you just love those vintage french pillow? Get them Here!

When we arrived we chatted over a tea and all got to know each other a little while everyone trickled in. I suggest if you are going to host a class of any-kind, be sure to invite Jill from Rheinfelden- she bakes the best cookies!

tryptic- get startedEveryone put on old paint shirts and got down to business. First we were supposed to remove old upholstery before we arrived. Next pick our fabric and paint (this was the best part!) and then the real work began.

Jens chair in progressPainting a few coats before lunch while chatting-mostly about thriving in an expat life. Paint, Cookies, Advice…. could I ask for more?!

lovely lunch

dining room

Why yes, lunch! Our host/instructor Vicki prepared the worlds BEST (I’m not exaggerating- if I can procure the recipe I will share it) Veggie Lasagna. Having lunch with these amazing and inspiring ladies was such a treat. After apple crisp and chantilly cream served out of a tall crystal bowl, we marched back to the studio for the marathon finish.

table mate Isabells beautiful chair

This is Isabell, she is french, and she made a real french chair with a real vintage tar stamped grain sack! Tres magnifique!

as far as I got in chair class

My chair was overly ambitious for this class and for a single day. I was there until nearly 8pm, but I got the base done. My trim is on order so once I get that in the mail I will glue it on, I don’t think you can really tell from these photos.

chair after

Monday I spent the entire day making one blasted cushion!!! Don’t look too closely- its far from perfect! Piping AND a zipper?! This was a 10-piece pattern with no directions that I figured out by taking the cushion apart with a ripper. I am soooo proud of myself! I am however, dreading making one for the matching chair.

Is there such a thing as color regret? I am still a little unsure. I love the color, but don’t know about it for this chair. It certainly isn’t boring or dreary. What do you think? It would look great on a big Charleston Porch! If you are looking for a fun day, and a class on Annie Sloan Painting and fabrics, why not come on over to Switzerland and visit Vikki at Bateau Rouge.


Räbliechtli Um-zug

raebe_12Happy Monday! We are waking up to a very crisp morning, last night it snowed down to 500 meters, which is hard for most of my American friends to quantify, so lets put it this way, the Eiffel tower is 324 meters tall. So we almost got snow in the valley. It’s a perfect situation because everywhere we turn it looks like a winter wonderland, the sun is shining (as it usually does after a big snow) and best of all the sidewalks are clean and there is not brown slush all over the roads.  Last week our village had the annual turnip carving for the Räbliechtli Um-zug~ Which is a turnip light parade.

axel Räbliechtliumzug

sonja Räbliechtliumzug

some of cocos friendsWe met one of our neighbor friends at 5:00 and walked over to the Catholic Church in the town center, to be there by 5:15. The walk takes a normal adult about 3 minutes but we were walking with two 4-year-old’s so that slowed us down a bit. At the chapel we sat quietly for a few minutes where some guy talked about the origins of the tradition- but my German/Swiss-German wasn’t good enough to understand it. The children all sang a little song about the light parade and we all lined up outside to get on with the show!

torches and bells

waiting for police to cross the street

Kayla and Coco

It’s a cute little tradition for the young children of the village to make a carved turnip lantern and march around while some of the older kids wearing white robes ring bells to lead the way. A few ladies in charge carried torches and made sure the kids stayed behind them by stretching a rope across the road.

coco and village children


hnaging turnip from stroller

The turnip carving is a little like a Jack o lantern but small and portable.

lanterns on sticks

lanternsIn different Canton’s in Switzerland they put the carved turnips on sticks but most of the lanterns at our parade where hanging with wire.

Here is a clip on how the lanterns are made:

After the parade everyone met back at the school yard which is in the center of town and ate hotdogs and “turnip tea” which turns out to be a fruit-herb tea. I love learning about these very Swiss traditions and sharing them with you- this is real Swiss village life!hotdog time

sophia Räbliechtliumzug

back to school for an expat mom

back to school crowns

It’s that time. Every year when mothers celebrate back-to-school, so eager to have time again to grocery shop on their own or do a little more of what we get done normally but with the precious silence we crave when children are fighting or tearing through the house wet and muddy. Excited to get back to a routine, we eagerly start back to early bedtimes. We shop up for back to school and begin planning our own fall schedules again.

Truth is this year I am a little less excited. I am feeling cheated out of at least a month of summer vacation. We didn’t get out until July 6. I haven’t had alone days since we arrived in April. I guess I have gotten used to it. One or both children are always with me. Our school schedules are totally different that in the states. BOO and Spartacus come home everyday for lunch. CoCo, well she only had 2 hours of play group on Friday afternoons (after her older brother arrived home for the day). While I crave a little alone time, I have become accustom to always having them with me. I realized now that in a funny way it has  provided me the luxury of relaxing a little. I am able to  keep them more watched over and enjoyed the short summer of sleeping later, traveling more, and the reassurance that my kids are spoiled and safe.

During early days of our relocation here we experienced some bullying almost immediately. It left me feeling very un-easy and guarded. During the summer months however my children have enjoyed my watchful eye and endless entertainment, but Monday it all comes to an end once more. I will send Gabriel off to walk to school by 7:45 am (truth is I am usually just starting to wiggle my toes and blink my eyes open at about this time). When I send him out the door I will pump him up with as much confidence and excitement as I can muster. I will feel worried and guilty after I close the door. I can not help myself, I know it will be difficult. I know he is not going back to school to reunite with old friends and compare stories of summer vacations like he would be if we still lived “back home”. I hope he will not feel too terribly different as he quietly sits in his assigned seat understanding little of what will be said that day, or that month. I pray the children will be kind and remember that he was the 2nd fastest runner in 2nd grade last year, and hope that will help his chances of being respected and winning friends. I hope he will remember these hard days and come to the understanding, someday, that he is better for it. I hope that he will also remember how he feels to be an outsider and that he will always see the child that needs a friend. I hope he will be that friend. I hope he will always have courage to do hard things.

I will make a special dinner on Sunday night, we will sit around and talk about each child’s strengths and talents. We wear crowns and eat on a table cloth. We will also remind them of our families privileges and how we will always stick together. I hope if they feel alone for a few hours during school that they know, once they are back home they are loved and supported and safe. My husband will say a special prayer with each of them. They will be reminded to work hard, have courage, remember who they are. We will act excited and hope for the best.

For the first time ever I might just cry when I send him off to school.

Any of you moms ever feel this way? Remind me what a great experience this is for him again? Tell me what an opportunity it is for our family? Remind me not to feel guilty for making him do hard things.

Festival Favorites- bon appetit

Swiss day

cute Swiss accordian

Happy Swiss National Day! If you go to one of the many festivals around Switzerland today, you will probably encounter traditional Swiss food. This is not a comprehensive list of but a few examples of festival food vendor offerings.


If you have spent a few days in Switzerland you have probably encounter the Bratwurst. It is a sausage usually composed of veal, pork, or beef. The grey looking ones seem to be most common and are made of veal.

ochs am

ochs am spiess w/

Ochs am Spiess- This is a young cow roasted on a spit. It tastes smoky and was very tender. It was offered with potatoes and a brown gravy sauce.


cheese scraping

cheese on bread

Alpler Rosti- This is a Swiss hash-brown or potato pancake. Each vendor is cooking it slightly differently. IF you are from the states you may know of Waffle House scatter smothered hash-browns, this is the best way I can describe it. Some have onion,some ham or bacon, and each is a filling specialty.


Apfelkuchen or Opfelchuechli- translates as apfel cake. The festival food vendor that I asked said his version was apple Pie- but you get the idea. The Opfelchuechli he served was rings of batter fried apples with a vanilla sauce and cinnamon and sugar.


If you have favorites to add to the list, join the conversation at Facebook, moxiblog.

Paci Party

Agh! Brothers! Always trying to sneak in and wreck my party!

Agh! Brothers! Always trying to sneak in and wreck my party!

A few weeks ago we decided for Coco, that the time had come to bid farewell to her pacifier. We had only one paci left and it had tiny holes. Even though it did not work properly she still did not want to give it up! The big problem was the the tiny holes were allowing moisture and germs in. I only noticed the damage when I saw some gross looking germ infested mess that I knew was not good for her! So I insisted she finally have the paci-party we have been discussing for years.

I have been reading articles for some time about how to gently coax the paci habit away. I was hoping she would give it up on her own – like some of my friends claim happen in their households. But since the paci was now a health risk, and since I refused to buy a new one- we went out searching for a helium balloon and some cupcake mix instead.

Finding a helium balloon in our village is not so easy. Unlike the US, they seem to be a bit of a specialty product?! Crazy huh?! I visited a few stores – grocery & craft and hobby, even a florist, but no one carries them except gift shop stores. I paid 2 chf for a Pink latex balloon! We used to get these at publix for free every other day! I quickly discovered that one latex balloon was not strong enough to carry a paci away to heaven so that Jesus could give it to another baby- in our case he was going to repair it and sanitize it first. *NOTE: Mormons do not really believe that Jesus refurbishes pacifiers. I had to get 2 more balloons to make sure they would lift it far enough away, never to be found again.

After a quick goodbye, Coco let go of the balloon bundle and we all smiled watching it float away into the sky. It was at that moment I thought I should take a photo- I ran looking for my camera. Can you spot the balloons?

paciparty balloons

After the paci floated out of sight, we celebrated Coco’s coming-of-age by feasting on prinzess Lillifee cupcakes (a German fairy princess that has built a merchandising empire out of stickers, pencils, cute children jewelry, games, books, AND CUPCAKE mixes). Sophia even got a new toy to help distract from her loss. It’s colorful & makes noises that you would expect to hear tinkerbell dance to- of course she would rather have this than a paci!?


It’s been several weeks since the paci party. I expected a sleepless week and a lot of tears, but actually it wasn’t that painful. She gets tired and regrets the decision, but I tell her she is a big girl now and I hold her hand and she falls asleep. Sometimes I hold her hand for a few minutes and she still doesn’t want to go to sleep, and because I always believe that I am a little bit of a distraction, I leave the room. She usually cries or fusses in protest and eventually falls asleep. I hope this is going to disappear with maturity. I don’t want to be a human pacifier but I hope she will learn to soothe herself to sleep soon. I miss our morning cuddle time, I realize now that she was content to lye in bed because of the paci. Now she is up quickly asking for breakfast. She is napping a lot less, which is good, but also missed. I have obviously been less productive as far as my blog goes because I seem to have a little less time at the computer, but I made progress with my most important job~ being a mom. My little baby is growing up! Now we are tackling night-time pull-ups. We had 2 dry nights, but today I am washing sheets. ANY TIPS?!

sleeping without paci