Fathers’ Day

Fathers’ Day

Happy First Fathers’ Day, Sweetheart!

What a great dad! Who knew this is where we’d be today? Here we were: just a carefree couple of sweethearts at a holiday party December 2010.

Now you’re a diaper changing, baby whispering InstaPot chefing husband and father. A mighty fine one at that! We are so blessed. I love you! Let’s celebrate you!

When I asked what you wanted for Fathers’ Day, a trick I learned from you, you said, “Pie!” So we made a day of it; a nearly five mile day of it. We walked the Burke-Gilman to Fremont,

had brunch at Cafe Turko, our special occasion location (they make the best hummus),

and then explored the extensive Fremont Solstice weekend market (there was a dog parade!) as a digestive before pie.

At the festival the second person in two days asked me, “Is that a puppy in there?!” Referencing Lake in the Baby K’tan baby carrier wrap… pregnant pause. “Or a baby?” I show the little big feet. Oh… I think they both wanted it to be a puppy.

My husband and I did an impromptu sway dance together in the street while he sang along to Kodachrome by Paul Simon covered by Two Horse Too Many. It was beautiful.

Then he got a key lime hand pie. Bliss!

It was an epic day.



We are walking up to meet my husband’s cousin and his family at our favorite weekend vegan brunch place, Araya’s Place, on the Ave, where it turns out the University District Saturday Farmer’s Market is currently in progress and in the process of wrapping up. Amazing how we always miss it, when it’s right here. Every Saturday.  So we are totally unprepared. We have no cash, but it sure would be nice to buy a fresh onion for dinner. We come across a farm stand selling organic produce including bunches of three sweet onions bundled together for $3. Ah ha, maybe this will work out after all.

To the woman: “Will you sell us just one onion for $1… That’s all the cash we have.” Maybe we can get a close of market break.

Laotian… “Negotiation…” Laotian Her to him.

Him: “No. I can’t do that.”

I’m in the middle of protesting about how $1 is all we have, when he walks over to the table with the onions, and thrusts a trio of onions into my husband’s hands and turns on his heel. So kind. So nonchalant. So generous. So pragmatic. Thank you Mair Farm-Taki from Wapato.

We pick up three huge bunches of Red Russian Kale from Nash’s farmstand which takes cards. We remark at how delicious local kale is, and how the stuff that’s grown in hot southern climates gives it a bitter taste and a bad name. I ask how Nash is doing, for old times sake… He used to show up at the community dances I’d go to sometimes when I lived out on the Olympic Peninsula. Apparently he’s doing really well, and working on an invention to help with the cabbage harvest. Something involving a tractor and a conveyor belt that follows the cabbage beheaders along in the field. Excellent!

Then we come upon this stand with piles of berries. I am standing there absolutely lusting after the berries. There is also absolutely no one there to buy them from. I check my timepiece. It’s 2:12; the market must close at 2pm. Shucks. A lot of vendors are still selling or starting to pack up. This one just jetted. My husband suggests I just start eating them. That would surely bring someone to ask me to pay for them, he reasons. Ha ha. Reluctantly we move along, so as to make it onto our meeting somewhat on time.

After lunch at Arayas where we introduce Lake to cousins Steve and Angela and their two girls, we visit for a long time. Normally we come right when they open, so we weren’t prepared for them to be closed from 3pm-4:30pm, which they were. We continued to visit in spite of any hints or glares they may have been giving us. Lake woke up right around when I was finishing eating, and he decided to be his charming self for a surprising length of time. He and the cousins entertained each other with market produce.

As we are walking home there are two women, one young one not as young, with a pile of market stand gear and three half flats of raspberries. The younger one is ogling our baby. Meanwhile I’m ogling her berries. My husband and I hold a quick conference. Again I’m struck motionless to just fantasize about bringing the berries home. He thinks I stand a better chance, being the mummy with the baby, of procuring some raspberries from the sympathetic woman guardian of the last raspberries. I’m too embarrassed. Ultimately he approaches and I tag along and we purchase a half flat with our credit card. I’m not sure where my trepidation stemmed from, perhaps I was hoping for more of a negotiations, or maybe even free. I think if it had just been the younger woman with a taste for our baby, the odds would have been more in our favor. As I thanked her, she said, “no problem, they were just going to go back to the farm and get composted.” That gave me pause, “are they really just going to get composed?” I asked as the older lady returned with our credit card and the square. “Oh, no,” she said. “The farmer will probably eat them for dinner.”

When we arrive home, my husband makes yummy hot (soy) chocolate with raspberries in it, which I let boil all over the stovetop and watch paralyzed as it erupts down over the oven onto the floor. It cleans up, and the beverage looks dubious but is in fact delicious! Like warm raspberry pie with chocolate fudge sauce. Let the thunder storm roll through.We are cozy here!

Smoking hot!

Smoking hot!

Yesterday evening my husband and I are walking home with Lake in the wrap from dinner at Taste of India. We are within a block of our building when I smell smoke, like cedar plank salmon without the salmon, or a hot sauna, without the sweat. Off to our left is a small, maybe 18″ in diameter, smoldering patch of beauty bark in the planted strip next to the sidewalk behind a car park. It’s actively smoking. It appears as though someone tossed down a lighted cigarette and the beauty bark caught. A sobering reminder that even though it has not felt particularly hot lately, it’s still super dry. It seems small and by extension perhaps insignificant, but it’s smoldering and slowly spreading. These things have a way of continuing to grow like an insidious carcinoma and turn into something big. Better to catch it small even if it seems like overkill or overreacting. I pull out my mobile and call 911 to report the fire.

Though my husband really wants to put it out himself. It’s all he can do to not crush it with his mighty foot. And be done with it. But you never know how extensive it might be under ground. My days of working in the woods and my early education by Bambi and Smoky the Bear were kicking in. Only YOU can prevent forest fires. Okay, urban fires.

“You’ll need to stay there until they arrive, otherwise it will be impossible for them to find a small smoldering fire in the planting strip.” I have more confidence in the Seattle fire department apparently than the fire dispatcher has in them. So we wait the three minutes for the truck to zoom up. Out hop the crew of four men and one woman and immediately set to work putting out the fire. No eye contact or verbal communication is made and yet they seem to have no trouble at all locating the hot spot. We walk off a bit, then I stop wanting to look on a bit and capture the scene for your benefit. Is that gauche? Then the friendliest fire fighter approaches us and explains the situation. Impulsively I ask if he’d oblige us with a photo op for my son. You see, he’s 2 1/2 weeks and this is his first fire truck. He gives us the greatest shot of the boys (above).

Today Lake and I walk up to TNT taqueria to meet our new PEPS friends for lunch. My friend Julie and her cavewoman alter ego taught me to order off the menu a side salad, no queso, with a side of chile braised beef on top. I love that they source their meats locally and name the farm. I’m a bit Portlandia that way. Yum! Cheers to friends!

Then after a long visit at Pharmaca we pick up some essentials and walk home just as it begins to lightly sprinkle. Good, it appears we could use some wetting rain!

Partway home Lake begins to wake up with the munchies. It’s so convenient to be able to feed him on the go while he’s in the wrap. Lake and Leak, all in all a great excursion! Thank you friends! We made it safely home.

Kicking it back at the flat under Mr. Silky’s watchful gaze.

Hot Water

I keep turning on the hot water tap. Water keeps not coming out. Our building is getting its hot water system updated in the boiler room. The hot water has been scheduled to be shut off entirely for yesterday and today. So this is day two of cold water only. It’s not quite coinciding with one of our heat waves either. It’s been a bit chilly actually. I continue to turn on the hot water tap by force of habit. 

The situation is reminiscent of the great storm and power outage of December 2006. The neighborhood I was living in was without power for five (long) days. It turned out the fireplace was not designed to actually heat the house, and that was discovered only after the difficulty of procuring any firewood in the city full of others having designs along the same lines. I think I took a shower at my aunt and uncle’s partway through. (Thank you for your generosity!) And rejoiced that it was the holiday season and there were plenty of parties to go to where people had power. Although then it was truly freezing, whereas now it’s just in the 60F’s instead of the 80F’s. 

Of course it’s challenging not having hot water available with an infant at hand since infant and frequent washing-up seem to go hand in hand. Breast milk in all its various forms seems magnetized to clean fabrics. Fresh from Leak (me), cultured a bit from my yogurt machine (Lake), or aged (nappy explosions). Once a new clothing outfit goes on, I start counting the seconds before they are christened. Four [seconds] seems par for the course. Meanwhile we wash up with cold water. 

Gratitude check… It’s summer! We have running water and the drains are draining! Kitters remain unfazed. Lake is darling.
And, when all else fails, a girl can still go shopping! We packed up and went on a local adventure, walking up to the Ave to browse the University Bookstore. That’ll boost the spirits! And voilà… 

Hot water and summery weather are back when we return!

Fender Bender

Fender Bender

Thursday last week, when both my parents came up for a visit, they came in wielding the fruits of my car’s windshield. Tucked under the wipers were two points of notice. One from not more than an hour earlier, announcing my car was in violation of Seattle’s 72 hour maximum street parking rule. Honestly it had been parked in the same spot without moving for a good several weeks by that point. And a note regarding the fender and bumper damage that had ostensibly occurred the day before on Wednesday. I was busy having the adventure of childbirth and getting my feet under me with a neonate, and meanwhile my car was having it’s own adventures (misadventures) on the city streets of our University District neighborhood. Amazing what can transpire in this city while you’re busy looking in the other direction.

(Our cutie amusing himself in the basket)

On point one, I weighed the benefits of simply paying the $44 parking infraction, but then figured I had little to lose by contesting, and could make a fairly compelling case. I sent in this letter with my ticket, and I’ll keep you apprised of the outcome.

Point two is where the flummox comes in. This guy we will call Bender, is a college student who appears extraordinarily conscientious, leaves a verbose apologetic note and going so far as to duct tape my broken bumper together. He leaves a phone number, no name. See exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

Replace my bumper?! Who is this person? There’s body damage to the fender and the damage to the headlight as well. To me this is an obvious insurance claim. I quickly realize that dealing with this naïve young man will surely raise my stress level, so I enlist the help of my husband to be the liaison to communicate with Bender. I call my insurance company and get the lowdown. Basically it should really only go through my insurance if he is truly an uninsured motorist, or if he is absolutely uncooperative. In that case, the deductible would be $300 for me or $100 if I could provide his name, address and phone number. But then it gets tricky if he has insurance, but just won’t divulge. So I ask my husband to try to get his insurance information. Bender is evasive and says he doesn’t know, that it’s through his mother who is out of town. This goes on for a week.

(Our muscle waiting for the word)

Meanwhile I fit in an appointment to get the estimate from my Autobody Shop. I’m not surprised it’s >$1600, and that’s with the caveat of no body damage being found when the damaged bumper and fender are removed. They need the claim number before proceeding to order parts and call me to book my appointment. Time to get serious with Bender. Either he will or he won’t provide his insurance information, as he is required to do by Washington State law. Again he is dodgy, and repeats his mother is out of town, but he thinks $1600 is ridiculous for a bumper and demands the name of the Autobody Shop, saying he is going to call them (and give them a piece of his mind apparently). I’m so embarrassed. This shop is really good and I’ve been using them for 15 years. It took me a week to get in for an appraisal appointment. It reminds me of the irrational eccentrics that want to argue with us at the pharmacy regarding what their insurance should/does/doesn’t cover. Some even go so far as to provide us with handwritten letters of rant addressed to the Mr. President.

My sweet husband gave him 45 minutes, ample opportunity to harass the Autobody Shop, before calling back. Bender was contrite at this point and provided his mother’s insurance information. The insurance carrier, it turns out is a small seven office outfit in Southern Mississippi on central standard time with no 24 hours call center. The saga will continue unresolved until the coming day. It seems doubtful that this insurance company has a contract with my Autobody Shop as one of their preferred providers. We are crossing our fingers that it won’t be required to ship my car to Mississippi for repairs. They might just duct tape it together and ship it back.

(Meanwhile we walked up to Mr. Gyros for lunch today. My elegant green shawl hides a 2.5 week old!)

Goodbye Nana

Goodbye Nana

After 2 1/2 glorious weeks of having Nana in town, today is our last day together. She’s heading home to pack and leave for Newman Lake on Friday. It’s time to entertain at the family summer lake cabin in Eastern Washington for the next few months. Visitors are expected. Our next meeting may just have to be over there at the lake! 

We will miss you, Nana! It’s been extraordinarily wonderful to have Nana in our corner while we got our feet under us. 

She walked, she washed, she cleaned, she grocery shopped, she cooked, she got take-out, she rocked, she shushed, she diaper changed, she ran errands, she chauffeured, she laughed, she cried. She even withstood and cleaned the litter box. She cleaned and treated our leather sofas. She bought shelving and organized our camping gear, allowing my husband’s bicycle to move from the flat entryway to its own park place in the basement storage unit. Ahhhh. She brought over her drill and stud-finder, helping my husband to manifest his vision of a projector-based home theater with the big screen. Now we are able to turn our entire living room into a baby friendly cinema. I especially and desperately enjoyed her taking Lake out for two hour post-prandial walks whereby he would sleep and I could take my own midday and/or evening nap, and get really deep responsibility-free beauty sleep. 

Nana was here every day until I was up and about… sometimes for 16 or more hours a day. She was here even several days before he was born, carrying us through the epic labor and birthing event (coming soon Lake Odin’s Birthday Story: a five day relay). We benefited from her endless energy and maybe even started to see the bottom of the wellspring. Thank you for being with us during this incredible transition, Nana. We couldn’t have imagined doing it without you. 

Thank you to Seattle Auntie for hosting my parents for this big event! You made it comfortable and possible! 
And a big thank you for your generosity in parting with your wife for these few weeks, Grandpa! I know it’s a bit like Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers when she’s out of town. We’re so glad you were able to come up to Seattle and meet Lake over the weekend. He’s excited for you to teach him swimming! This I infer from the constant swimming motions of his limbs. And more than one person have taken a look at his feet and nicknamed him Flipper. 

It really does take a village. Merci beaucoup Nana! Bon voyage!

Sexless in the City

Sexless in the City

My husband gave me the sweetest gift as a “push prize”. Besides Lake! A mummy gift for Lake’s birthday, and no, it wasn’t another Tiffany ring and no, we’re not allowed to have sex for six weeks postpartum. 

He gifted me this blog. 

The blog was my husband’s idea. He thought it up, named it and set up this blog site for me to record my thoughts and experiences of being a  first time new mother. After several decades of university and professional adulthood, I think he was right to intuit I might benefit from having an intellectual project to focus on ever day. He points out it is not only a way for me to share, but also for posterity. He knows I’m not likely to be a scrapbooker, but that I love to write. He knows me pretty well; I’m constantly surprised. 

He began recording my thoughts and publishing posts in the very first days after Lake was born, before I had the wherewithal to accomplish something of that nature myself. I was in a freshly postpartum fog, otherwise known as shock. Yes, I was in shock. Yet, the days pass quickly and the challenges of one day are quickly forgotten as they are supplanted by problems of the new day. It’s vital to get it down while the moment is fresh. You’ll have seen his scribed posts with my voice narrated in quotes early on. He generated the inertia and was patient while I developed the habit of writing and publishing myself. I have so much gratitude for his insight and technical acumen in creating this forum for us to share our story with you. I am enjoying it very much and I appreciate my followers and readers. It’s super fun to read your comments too. Thank you for your support and love. 

Here’s a little bedtime banter with my husband regarding our blog. Enjoy!

“I feel like I’m Sarah Jessiaca Parker or something, out living her life, writing her clever columns. Carrie Bradshaw!”

“Are you excited to be out and about, and have an old flame see you from behind, and then turn around and it be like when Carrie saw Aiden? You with Lake in the Baby Bjorn on as a front pack? That element of surprise… You’d love that!” He would. 

“Yeah, where’s Aiden now? We could use him to buy the apartment next door and knock down the adjoining wall! Double our space!”

“Please, some discretion!” He just keeps typing… “No really, stop!” He kept typing, recording everything in those early days. 

“You know you’re in deep when you wake up and find a [cloth] diaper on your pillow, that you’ve been sleeping on a diaper!” He loves my you know you’re in deep jokes…

Two guardian angels on the headboard offering oversight to Lake’s feeding. They make for super supportive and zen lactation consultants. I’m so blessed to have a good eater!

Now We’re Cooking!

We went on a family field trip today to a vegan Indian cooking class hosted by the Vegetarians of Washington at the Upper Crust in Greenwood. It was taught by Sunita Shastri, who demonstrated Cucumber Coconut Salad and Lemon Rice from a southern Indian style, and the northern Indian specialty Chole, a spicy chickpea gravy curry. It was a successful experience. Not only was Lake an amazingly well behaved baby, eating and sleeping like a champion, but we each learned a few helpful things about cooking with Indian spices and we able to sample a few new dishes. For example, in Indian cooking the spices are nearly always sautéed into the oil base as a starting point to enhance their flavor and soften the texture of the seeds eg cumin and mustard. Furthermore Sunita follows the principle that vegetables will also be tastier and cook faster if also sautéed in oil. Not all spices, however, have the same temperature heartiness. Therefore, sauté the cumin and mustard seeds first, then add turmeric with the onion and garlic phase, and garam masala even later when adding the moist vegetables like tomato. Note the layering of spices in her recipe methods below.

We couldn’t help but also enjoy the unexpectedly rich comments of the other guests. We couldn’t stop chortling to ourselves, really! One woman had the audacity to ask Sunita what the secret is to not have your house smell like Indian cooking. She replied, “there is no secret.” The woman asked the question again. Sunita repeated herself. My husband retorted under his breath, “don’t cook Indian food!” Another, perhaps even the same woman, asked if she ever substitutes for ghee. This is directly after Sunita was explaining her background included starting a company to produce fresh locally made ghee after experiencing difficulties procuring good tasting fresh ghee here in the U.S. The guest continued on, that she often substituted truffle oil or cashew butter, or… She lost Sunita’s attention before she even finished her comment. Another participant asked if one could make gluten free naan, and Sunita laughted and said that then it wouldn’t be naan, it would be something else! Someone asked about the 3-4 cloves in the Chole: cloves of what, it didn’t say? After demonstrating the cucumber coconut salad preparation, a thin gentleman in the front row asked what the calorie and protein content of a serving of of the salad contained. Sunita gave him a blank look.

How many calories? I guess 30 kcal, 1g protein

Cloves of what?

If peas aren’t available, one can substitute peanuts, but the quantity would be reduced.

We made the most of out excursion to Greenwood by stopping in for lavender hot chocolate with hemp milk at Chocolati. 

What a fun afternoon! Thank you for joining us on our Sunday outing. Let us know if you try any of the recipes!

Out on the Town

My husband invited me out on a date today: to go outside, view the water and take in some sunshine. I was hesitant, it would be my first walk postpartum and I’m technically on bed red still until Monday. Ultimately my love for my husband and my confidence that he knows me better than myself sometimes won out, and we set out from the flat for an inaugural walk. The sun was shining, and it felt good on my aching back. 

The blocks were longer than I remembered. We stopped frequently to rest, to breathe in the fresh air. Michael joked that we were getting a maximum amount of fresh air per foot: a dense walk. I vividly recalled walking meditation at Spirit Rock in Marin County a decade ago when I was on a mindfulness retreat. I relished the simplicity of walking very slowly, aware of each footstep as it interfaced with the earth. We made it to the University Bridge at 40th and Eastlake. We walked out onto the bridge, intending to stand over the water. The bridge was vast. It has always been such a short bridge in my mind. I’m usually running across, nimbly. Maybe I’ve never walked across it before. Pretty view. Nice clouds. Sailboats, and kayaks, and boat boats going by. Friendly joggers. Let’s head back. That’s enough walk for today.

Lake was a champion. He’s not new to this; he’s been walking daily with Nana since he was two days old. 

After a light lunch and a nice nap, we felt re-energized, and we set out for Columbia City to Lake’s first real party! Boy, if you ever want to get a party started, set a two week old down in the center of the room.

We had come to wish our friend Sarah Rawlins (a friend I’d met at my new employee orientation at Harborview Medical Center two years ago) a good send off for her nine months in South Sudan. She will be doing mission work as a training nurse in a large field hospital there. She’s a courageous woman with a heart of gold. There were flat Sarah dolls as party favors, so expect to see Sarah joining us on a few adventures around town, and maybe some hikes. I suspect in the next nine months, both of us will need a friend in our back pocket from time to time. We are here for you, too! Bon voyage et bonne chance Sarah.

Good night friends!

Mr. Cat Manny

It happened! Mr. Cat is mannying for Lake! It’s so nice and convenient to have an extra four pairs of paws in your court. 

Except Mr. Cat isn’t very dependable because as soon as I took the lid off the pan of homemade grass fed organic beef stew I was heating up for lunch, Mr. Cat hastily bailed on Lake to come investigate his chances in the kitchen!

Maybe Mr. Cat will become a more reliable cat manny with time.