Taking Lake over to West Seattle provided him with an overview of his hometown in a way that brings perspective, different than can be gained by looking up from the ground below.
We had a quintessentially Seattle summer sunny Sunday. We walked to the University of Washington Link light rail station, rode the light rail to Pioneer Square station, walked around PIO for a while enjoying the scene and the heaps of Sounders fans, took the water taxi to Alki, ate at Marination, walked the Alki waterfront boulevard, watched some beach volleyball and returned home by reversing the journey. Add a Baby Björn, a Cedars Indian takeaway dinner at home with friends, some coordinating plaids, and eight miles on foot, and you’ve got our day covered.
While his mummy was rockin’ out this morning to Daddy’s favorite tunes Lake rolled over. I rocked with my breast friend. He rolled from front to back. Mr. Cat looked on.
Lake is getting so big, we’re trying to make more room for him to grow in. So, we did another round of massive tidying today. The rockin’ and rolling kept it light, kept the overwhelm at bay a bit. Hard workers all of us!
Lake’s two month birthday present arrived today. How exciting! Mr. Silky feels it too.
We’ve been anticipating this moment for quite some time now. We are celebrating with watermelon agua fresca whipped right up in the new Vitamix and a movie night. It’s so hot we decide to stay with the theme and watch Walkabout, a thoughtful 1971 film set in the Australian outback. The agua fresca is necessarily refreshing. It hits the spot! Our new baby food maker is proving its worth right out of the box. Michael claims it makes him feel instantly elevated, especially combined with our InstantPot and Glassybaby collection. Ahhh… we’ve arrived at the ultimate in appliance lifestyle. It’s even better shared with friends during our little impromptu party.
Of course it is also quite exciting that Lake is two months old today. He’s a perfect human being; working so hard at living and growing. We love him so much. Lake, we are glad you arrived and are here with us now.
We thought we were ready. It’s the height of summer, we have all this time off, we are getting our feet back under us. It’s almost a moral failing or a guilty conscious to not go hiking being me from here. Enough with stylish coddling in the city, it’s time to get out into nature, where the essence of our lives are distilled to the most essential, like drops of colostrum. I tell my longtime friend Katie, I’m ready for a backpack, just a one-nighter. Lake is portable. I’m never happier than walking. We are mobile. It seems like the biggest challenge is simply
How can I fit enough cloth diapers into my backpack?
Katie wisely deflects my enthusiasm to join her on her backcountry rare plant survey, and instead suggests we all go together with her three year and eight year old girls on a dayhike in the North Cascades. Part of me knew this was the prudent first step anyways. So we set up a date, which was yesterday. We rendezvoused in Sedro Woolley at a park with a playground and carpooled up to the trailhead from there.
The intensity started right out of the gate. Lake had suffered a blow out, so poo is dripping between him and his car seat when I extract him from the car. There is not a drop of shade in the parking lot, and what it lacks in amenities it makes up for with biting deer flies. We manage to get cleaned up, and sun screened and bug repellent-ed using the picnic table as our comfort station… I don’t have a square centimeter left on my body by the time I’m done that’s not been bathed in about three different layers of sunscreen and insect repellent. The midday sun at this elevation presses into me with a sense of emergency. I’m anxious for shade, a quiet baby and no flies.
At 3:15 we were finally headed up the track.
Well, Sauk Mountain really socked it to us. Goodness! I could not in good conscience recommend this hike to anyone I care about. It’s frankly a harrowing hike.
They are not kidding. The tread is significantly deteriorated by erosion to the point it is only marginally safe at best. And here I am with Lake in the front pack and as much water as I could carry in my backpack, doing my inaugural dayhike since Michael proposed at Gem Lake last year. My symphysis pubis is not yet fully rejoined. I still have ligament pain and instability in my sacroiliac joints and my core, in spite of my best efforts to the contrary. I’m all top heavy. It’s super hot and the deer flies are ubiquitous and biting! Unfortunately the view is absolutely stunning from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Baker. Heaps of wildflowers in prodigal bloom. Obscene amounts and variety of butterflies.
The air was fresh and sweet. Especially on the way down, after some time had passed and the sunscreen/bug repellent fragrance was wearing off. I could breathe in the mountain air. Big lungfulls to store up for the return to the city.
We made it back down to the trailhead in just one hour. Safe and sound. We were the last car in the lot. It was cooler, there were fewer flies, and I was significantly less addled when performing the perfunctory picnic table nappy change and Lake refueling. What a day! Katie had driven and so it was a luxury to have to girls to provide “in-flight” entertainment for Lake in the form of peek-a-boo, singing songs, admiration and general goings ons. He was engaged and quiet for the car ride home. Refreshed after his “nature bath,” oblivious to the fretting of his mummy, he was completely content. A strong hiker. A perfect day. More to come. We are glad we spent this one with you.
Lake has two big blueberry eyes. I thought it was adorable yesterday when my friend’s thoughtful and intelligent 8 year old daughter proclaimed:
Lake would get First Prize for Eyes.
Today those award winning eyes accompanied me on a full day of appointments. He got his zen on at mummy’s acupuncture visit, got weights and measures at the doctor and even went to the dentist. Don’t we look happy (and filled with relief!) about the fact that we made it through our first teeth cleaning together! His homework is to aid me in getting back to my twice daily dental care routine. The morning brushing got dropped these past few months and the teeth sat up and took notice today!
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Greenlake staying cool in the shade by the water. We walked 6.5 miles today and boy I’m tired! Perhaps partially due to the heat and also owing to that he’s officially weighing 11.5 pounds now.
Last evening Lake and I shared a few peaceful transition moment down on Lake Washington by the UW Waterfront Activities Center. This warm evening reprieve from the hot day was especially refreshing coming after a long and difficult 24 hours of distinctly non-“Newman Lake time” yesterday. We had a rough close of day Sunday night encountering significant congestion from Cle Elum home due to construction and accidents, then juggling the unloading of the car with Lake unhappy to be helping and unhappy to be sitting it out too. The next day post-holiday Blues of unpacking, house cleaning, and grandparent withdrawals set in. Not having Nana and Grandpa’s extra sets of loving hand and heart and smiling interfaces around put us in a challenging adjustment period of being back home in the city.
So it was in this frame of mind that we found ourselves exhausted and spent, feeling near overwhelm. Then suddenly we are back at the water’s edge feeling the gentle rocking of the waves, the sounds of the lapping and the boats. I find it so interesting what a different environment being on or near the water creates. Simply walking out onto the dock is calming. I forget that this access point to a new perspective is so close really, only a few blocks away.
Evening by the lake turned to night, and somewhere in there we seemed to hit our reset button. The house is tidy. The laundry is queued. The kitchen and bathroom are clean. It is good to be home with Daddy again. My husband is a very good listener. That played no small role in lessening our burden. And then today dawns a brand new day.
We are resilient and ready for resuming our urban adventures! First day for the Baby Björn! Lake and I celebrate this shared milestone with matching outfits and several play dates.
Lake has recently been fondly called “barracuda” by my brother and by my friend Kelly “barnacle” el percebe, the Spanish endearment for a baby that eats all the time. I’ve been operating off the notion that Lake may have to grow to 6’6″ by the time he is fifteen years old or so. To that end he’s going to need a lot of milk early on to fuel his growth, so I offer him the breast every time he makes rooting gestures.
I’m reminded at PEPS earlier last week that the sleep education begins at just a few weeks old and that he would be typically doing his nights by a few months old. I’m wondering about nudging the mealtime structure, too. Lake is nearly two months old now and time is passing quickly. My windows are rapidly closing, so while on holiday at the lake I cracked back open the book that so inspired me while pregnant Bringing up Bébé to check in with the basic principles and timelines of typical French baby rhythms.
I’m reminded it all comes down to the importance of the Pause. The reason for the pause is the teaching of alert awareness and patience so that our children may enjoy the world and their experiences in it. And their parents too! When the children can entertain themselves and happily become accustomed to delayed gratification, they are more relaxed and confident. Certainly traits I wish to empower Lake with by patiently teaching patience.
Doing his Nights
I’ve been pretty pleased with his rhythm since a few weeks old of typically sleeping from approximately 11pm to 5am. Then often he’ll eat for an hour and have another sleep segment. But it’s not bomb-proof. It could be better. Especially since we are moving him out of our bedroom and working to reclaim our parental privacy and relationship intimacy.
Upon revisiting the phenomenon of French babies doing their nights from just a few months, it’s supported by intriguing research*. The experimental group was given a few basic rules to follow from birth or just a few weeks old compared to the control group who were given none.
Not to nurse, rock or hold baby in the evening before sleep.
Starting at weeks old, between midnight and 5am, do not attempt to nurse unless other means have been tried and failed: reswaddle, pat, re-diaper, walk around.
Distinguishing between whimpering in their sleep versus awake crying. Ensuring that your baby is awake before picking up!
The findings are compelling. For the first three weeks there was no distinguishable pattern or difference among all the babies. However, by four weeks 38% versus 7% were sleeping through the night. Then the experimental group was all sleeping through the night by 8 weeks, versus less than a quarter of the controls. What?! That’s a very strong endorsement. Lake is officially 8 weeks old now. He is a trooper for doing his nights pretty well, but honestly it’s not 100% and it’s always the breast. Before, during and after sleep. Is it me, not being creative enough or does he really need the breastfeeding for energy to grow? I do try to use the Pause, but perhaps not rigorously enough. Well, there’s always extinction which works in just a few days, but the main drawback again is parental consistency. Dang! You gotta want it!
Eating meals (Wait!)
By age four months, the rhythms of the French babies’ appetites have all coincidentally coalesced to coincide with the 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm mealtimes of their French parents. The are also referred to elegantly as “meals” not “feeds.”
Okay, so I still have a few months to get with the program. I begin referring to his eating as a meal, mealtime, first course, second course, etc. but what else should I be entertaining over the next few months?
It looks like I should begin now at approximately two-three months to stop treating him like an addict, and begin to follow three basic principles:
Lake should eat at roughy the same times each day.
Lake will enjoy a few larger meals rather than multiple snacks.
Lake should fit into the family schedule.
Hmmm, well, we do the larger meals rather than snacking for the most part. I think this has enforced his general pattern of daytime eating and nighttime sleeping. Schedule and timing, though… Mummy’s going to have to work on putting that concept into practice for her own self first. Being on maternity leave with a newborn (who admitted is quickly changing) is the antithesis of having a schedule. Okay, the challenge is on to begin adding a bit more rigorous discipline to our days… Regular mealtimes and sleeping our nights.
*Pinella T, Birch L. 1993 Help me make it through the night: behavioral entrainment of breast-fed infants’ sleep patterns. Pediatrics 91(2):436-43.
This morning Lake and I watched the sun rise over the forested ridge across the lake at 0545. It is quiet, save for the sounds of the birds, osprey, occasional bass jumping plop. The large waning moon is still prominent in the sky, cerulean blue, not a cloud in sight. The early morning mist is rolling off the lake. The air smells piney and fresh. A breeze is picking up, ruffling the deciduous leaved trees along the shore. A long train rumbles along in the distance. The resident bald eagle is keeping vigil from atop a tree on Priest Point at the end of Diana Bay.
I feel the sun warming my shoulders. I stretch. I unroll my yoga mat on the dock savoring the sensations of the moment. My practice unfolds with a nearby spider managing her web as witness: Sun Salutations, Eagle, Sleeping Eagle, Mountain… When I roll up my mat, the eagle has taken flight, the coffee is ready and the great blue heron is fishing off Mike’s neighboring dock.
Lake is tucked in for an early morning cuddle with Nana. I share coffee with my Dad on the front porch. A lone yellow jacket hums by for a reconnaissance. A few bass fisherman have cruised by on their way down to the lily pads at end of the lake. The sun rises higher. It’s still quiet. I want to elongate this day, this week, this moment, breathing in the goodness of the present. This is our sun salutation. This morning we are here. Tonight is for Daddy and the City of Seattle. With God and Lake as my copilots. A perfect day. I’m glad I’m spending it with you.
Newman Lake… Why do we love it so much out here? It’s possible to get a bit fanatical about how wonderful the lake is and how attractive
the lake lifestyle is. It’s so relaxing. It’s so safe. It’s our happy place. It’s full of families who’ve been sharing summers for years, for decades, for generations. It’s so friendly!
Today we spent all day socializing. Not on purpose directly. It just happened, really. We set out for a walk through the woods, where we saw six deer, and then two more later, who may have been the same two as from the earlier bunch of six. We walked around the bay and the peninsula visiting the Galvans, the Heylmans, the Martins, Landreth, Beil, and then we had the Aldworth and Frasco families over for dinner. Everyone is happy to meet Lake, but it’s not just that. It’s what people do around here: drop in, drop by, come around, socialize, stop in, stop by, come over, say hello. Everyone is friendly and so relaxed, on “lake time”, and you’ve known them and their parents and maybe grandparents too your whole life.
Around here we are known as the Thompsons, or as a reference to Ruthie and Don who are both passed away, but who were fixtures of the community for 70+ years. My grandmother Ruth (Thomson) Thompson grew up summering in this cabin with her parents and two brothers. Then she and her husband Don Thompson raised their two children summering in this cabin. One of them is my mother. All throughout childhood beginning when I was just two years old my parents sent my brother and me here to spend summers with our grandparents Ruthie and Don. Now my parents are here spending summers renovating the cabin, “shoring it up” so to speak and generally carrying on the tradition. We introduce ourselves as Ruthie’s granddaughter, daughter, daughter’s husband, etc. Even my dad, who has never been a Thompson, introduces himself as a Thompson out here, in town, at the library, and at the local U-pick farm “Carvers” where he picked our green beans today for our dinner tonight.
It’s friendly. It’s folksy. It’s safe. It’s so safe we leave our car keys in the car, our homes not just unlocked but with the doors open day and night. People don’t just wave from their car, which they do, but they also stop and have a whole visit. People look out for one another, call you if there’s a stranger walking in the area. Families are now purchasing second lake homes to accommodate the growing generations.
The Barrett’s daughter and her husband just bought the old Pool place.
This is how things go here in our bay. It’s comforting. It’s folksy friendly, and it’s my happy place. I’m so glad I could share it with you, Lake and all you lovely folks at the Lake.
We set out under dubious skies. Nana accessorizes with a fleece and rain jacket and I with my straw hat and sunglasses. It feels like the weather could go either way, and most probably both ways given sufficient time. The impetus for our excursion was to take a piece of outgoing mail up the mailbox. Friday had been thus far a pretty off and on rainy day overall. We had a fire going inside in the fireplace and a we enjoyed a leisurely brunch. Our cabin is at the end of a long shared gravel driveway, and it’s a short walk up to the paved peninsula road where the cluster of mailboxes and newspaper boxes reside. So getting the bill in the mail was our overt objective, but the covert aim was more that it was an excuse for a walk to liven up our day.
So the three of us, Nana, Lake and I are out for a walk. We were nearing the paved road when I hear a vehicle drive up fast then stop. I guess it’s the mail truck, and sure enough it zooms by past our field of view at the end of the tunnel of vegetation. We are thus committed to walking down toward the end of North Peninsula Drive to catch her on the way back. Indeed we do. We successfully flag her down as she comes zipping back up the road and hand over our letter.
Inertia has us continuing along down the road, and before we know it we arrive at the end where our friends Craig and Kathryn Ann live. We drop in unexpectedly for an old fashioned visit. Kathryn Ann is home so we visit and enjoy iced tea and coconut water with fresh mint on the welcoming porch. They have a beautiful view of the lake from their charmingly restored cabin on the point. I’m wearing my sunglasses and there are big swaths of blue sky and puffs and whisper of fluffy white clouds. Kathryn Ann has fun meeting Lake and singing him songs they wrote for their own blue eyed red headed baby boy who’s now 22 years old and living in the American Southwest on a conservation corps. Funny how they grow up!
Nearing the end of our social call, as we are inviting them over for dinner tomorrow, the skies turn ominous and black. Nana puts her jackets back on which had been around her waist for the ride, and I prop my sunglasses up on my hat. The weather suddenly shifts.
It threatens rain our whole walk back and we duck down to the beach at the tip of our bay. It isn’t until we are crossing our next-door-neighbor’s beach when the first gigantic raindrops begin to fall. Nana takes a quick documentary photograph, and then we scurry up the steps to our side porch as the hail arrives with a vengeance, driving down with unrelenting fury. One of my hands covers Lake’s soft head and the other his tender feet, and we dash into the cabin. We look out as the hail and rain sheet down, the wind torrents, and the electric lights flicker. We are secure and dry and we don’t lose our power; we make it in the nick of time!
This video doesn’t exist
We relish the exhilaration and anomaly which is our stormy weather reprieve. The afternoon is filled with reading by the fire, hot chocolate and popcorn, a real contrast from our hot day yesterday, and our hot summer days likely looming again on the horizon. The calm comes later, after the storm, when the surface of the water is completely glassy.