White Christmas

We couldn’t have dreamed of a more beautiful snowy holiday for Lake’s first memorable Christmas. It was very special timing and heightened the sense of festivities. Look, Lake… it’s snowing!

Michael was the most excited! We went out for a Christmas Eve romp in the snow. We tossed snowballs and stuck out our tongues. At first Lakes didn’t know what to make of it, but as he warmed up to it he had a great time playing in the snow and visiting with friends and family. All the neighbors were out on Christmas Eve and an impromptu sledding party ensued. Mummy and Daddy gave it a go, but Lake drew the line at sledding… not for him; not this year. He likes to watch the snow from his high-up perch!

In the morning the city was still blanketed in a glittering icy shawl and we celebrated our Christmas joy with a run. I ran to yoga with Jodi Boone and Michael continued on his run around Greenlake. A special Christmas Day.

In the afternoon we were more than happy to sit around the fireplace feeling cozy and content. We ate all the delicious food that Nana prepared and caught up on stories with each other. I told Lake the story of the Christkind, and how he has all of God’s love inside him too. A perfect day; I’m glad I spent it with you!

Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!

Solstice Survivors

This week we passed through the longest night for the year. Today we tromp on the frozen tundra of our friends’ Bellingham backyard and soak up the sunshine! We share a beautiful family dinner. We arrive safely home. Moments like these carry us through the winter darkness.

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, delivers on light vignettes that weave a rich emotionally laden tapestry. She does it in a fresh elegant way, without beating you over the head with it. Christina “Lady Bird’s” (Saoirse Ronan) senior year of high school skips along at lightning speed while we witness up close a lot of landmarks: first kiss, First Love, first sex, joining and quitting clubs, cliques, friends, connecting with mentors, and going off to college. Her particular brand of confidence and vulnerability, openness and resilience, are inspiring.

It’s semi-autobiographical so thank you Greta for mining your joy and your pain to share a deeply moving film with us. We saw casts come and go, and while broken bones were healing hearts were breaking and healing too. There were sobering events and hilarious scenes. My husband and I were on a date night and we couldn’t stop laughing during one somewhat non-sequeter scene. Coach took over the drama club from Father and delivered an uproarious game plan.

Ultimately, it’s a family drama paying homage to the bittersweet complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Just in time for the holidays!


In addition shouting No! with gusto, Lake has taken to stotting. Leaping up off the ground with both feet in the air at once. Gazelles do it on the savannas of the Serengeti at great expense of energy. It is thought that maybe stotting behavior is an evolutionary advantage of “showing off” for the ladies. Lake does like to impress the ladies, as well. Perhaps his stotting aids him with his other favorite pastime: kissing!

Changing of the Guardians

We here at the VanLaanen Huis are gearing up for the eminently approaching “changing of the guardians”. It’s going to be such an incredible and bittersweet transition. It’s three weeks away now. It doesn’t seem real yet. It’s happening though, and the plane tickets are set. Even so, it seems completely surreal. After one year with us as the VanLaanen Au Pair, aka Lake’s best friend and social organizer, it’s nearing Jo’s time to move on. Jo will be leaving early on January 9th and Luisa arrives late on January 10th.

Luisa will be our family’s new Au Pair, coming directly from Germany via a few days of Au Pair orientation in New York. Thankfully Nana will be spending the week with Lake during this transition. Luisa will have time to get settled and oriented and recover from jet lag. We are very excited to welcome Luisa! She is also from Germany, southern Germany, near Freiburg. Lake will be continuing his German education sofort!

You may be wondering,

How did this changing of the guardians line up? Is there a story there?

It is a story of effort and surrender. A story of hard work searching for just the right fit and of meticulously combing Germany. A story of letting go of Jo and of the looming deadline. And in that pause between the inhale and the exhale emerged Luisa in the final hour… Lake’s up and coming guardian angel.

Nein, Nein, Nein, No!

Lake is expanding his vocabulary at an ever increasing rate. It’s a maelstrom of German and English words, and lately it seems like there’s a new one coming every day or every day twice a day. Today he has several handfuls has in circulation:


Mama, Dada, Nana, Jo

Cat, meiu, woof woof

Uh oh

Nein, no, uh uh


Hi, bye, tschuß

Heiß, hot




It’ll be a new surprise every day. He’s so open and loving. Fearless, curious, friendly, resilient and with a sense of humor.

And I think his favorite word, which he employs for subtly different meanings in a variety or circumstances, is “No!”

Baby Loves Grandmas

Baby loves Grandmas, and Grandmas love Baby! Baby loves having Grandmas visit! And Grandmas love visiting Baby! This weekend we were blessed with both days a Grandma visit. Saturday afternoon Grandma Julie visited. They had a great time exchanging presence.

And Sunday Nana visited! Lake and Nana had fun playing with the felt tree that Auntie Kendra made by hand and shipped down from Ketchikan. The felt ornaments stick to the felt tree or Nana’s fleece!