Niños Acomedido

I’m grateful for this new concept (stemming from indigenous wisdom) that has just this week entered my consciousness: How to Get your Kids to Do Chores (without resenting it), as illuminated by Michaeleen Doucleff on NPR.

What?! helpful toddlers!? I had not considered really perceiving Lake in that way: as a Mother’s Helper. When he comes running up to me and I’m in the middle of trying to complete a household chore as efficiently as possible I’m typically diverting him towards engaging in some playtime away from underfoot. Here’s a ball. Do you want to play with your train? Where’s the kitty? Please don’t push any buttons. I’m trying to do this chore.

Meanwhile the indigenous wisdom from Mexico says he’s running up to help me out! That he’s inherently helpful and wishes to please me. That being helpful requires no extrinsic reward because the intrinsic value inherent in being acomedido, volunteering situationally appropriate help, brings happiness and creates a warm sense of belonging. Children want to be included to help out!

This insight into toddler psychology and family dynamics is gold! Time to check myself, and retune my parenting instruments. So, what I’ve been doing right by necessity and default is to have him nearby while doing the chores. What I’ve been totally missing as an opportunity is to have him helping me. Any genuine task, no matter how small, he’s able to help with is an investment. It is an investment in having a fully capable, motivated and perceptive household participant at 8 or 9 years old.

When I ran this by my Oaxacan friend Alfonso Escobar, he enthusiastically concurred and immediately began expounding additional thoughts. It has to be together with you. It can be something small like washing the dishes… baby’s love water! It can’t be too hard like giving them a huge broom or false like giving them a little broom after you’ve swept. This is all really useful and I can’t wait to begin beta testing this shift with Lake.

Last weekend I was at an all time parenting low, telling Lake aloud I was so frustrated and couldn’t he just play somewhere away from me while I attempted to do housework. I was stressed to clean our guest apartment and prepare it for our newly arriving guests. I had planned to clean while Lake was napping, but then he wouldn’t take a nap! So I was telling him over and over how frustrated I was because he was supposed to be napping and how could I get the apartment clean and the bed made with him underfoot? Couldn’t he just be happy jumping on the bed? Poor Lake was so confused. And here the answer to my prayers was under my nose. He was trying repeatedly to help me! He could help me with just a little direction. It’s a mind blowing game changer. So tonight I tried it out. He helped tidy up from dinner: tossing the food scraps into the compost bin, transferring the remaining salad from the salad bowl to a plastic container for the fridge. Sure, I had to put the equipment on the floor this time to engage him, but he got ‘er done!

A perfect day for learning and working together. I’m so glad I spent it with you Lake!

Ready, Set, Go (Slowly)

Summer is here! After planning to head out eminently for a bicycle ride to Greenlake pretty much all day, Lake and I finally rolled out this evening around 5:30 pm. Partially around the north side of the lake we encountered the wading pool filled with water, kids and summertime. We had to reconsider our plan to stop and take in the scene. Lake, in spite of his name, is not like a duck to water. Instead he’s quite suspicious of the water that goes sploosh.

Lake gave the wading pool a long slow gander before he began to mosey his way over to the edge. He found a series of buckets and toys to co-opt as his own. He threw the red bucket into the water then followed in after. And then he really didn’t want to leave. They drain the pool between 6-7pm and we stayed for the whole event. Some nice picnickers with a 3 year old loaned us a towel. He was quite wet and the weather was turning cold as we dried off and bicycled for home.

Saddington Bear

I’ve had this idea for a while now to take Lake’s photo with Paddington Bear, the two of them dressed up for adventure together. Well it was just one of those days. Paddington Bear, Maddington Bear, Saddington Bear. We did cover a lot of territory today, just not in the way I had originally imagined. A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you…

Ravenna Swing Crew

The most fun you’ll have all Saturday, she challenged. It took me about 6 minutes to climb up and back to set up the rope for today’s swing, Ryan confided. Would you like to take a swing, James invited.

Yes, yes, and yes, said I! Swinging the evening away under the 20th Avenue pedestrian bridge with the Ravenna Swing Crew was a fantastic experience. All about me was the bright green foliage, and the fresh sweet forest air. Everyone was smiling. Michael joined us after work. Lake enjoyed the giant soap bubbles the friendly crew created. I swung again and again out into the vegetated ravine. It was indeed the most fun I had all Saturday! And it was altogether perfect day, spending it with Lake.

Retreat Gratitude

Every once in a while it’s good to get away. Especially as a mum, time away to retreat, recharge and recenter is invaluable. Lake is the cat’s meow to be sure, however even so it’s all-consuming being a parent, and a mum especially. It’s easy to lose my center in the midst of the family dynamics and toddler antics. The Synergy Yoga Ayurveda Teacher Training program of 2017-18 provided regular opportunities to retreat from the mummy role and emerge even stronger than before. The program culminated in our final retreat last week on Whidbey Island at its bespoke Institute. To be riding the ferry across the water into the portal of sacred Tolle space, this was a deep gift. I am filled with gratitude for all those who made these immersive experiences possible: my husband and son, parents, mother-in-law, and our consecutive German au pairs by letting me go, as well as the teachers and my courageous cohort of students for taking me in. Now, in the weekend post-retreat, it’s a time of integration for the work of true transformation.

Michael Ayres VanLaanen

This fun man is Lake’s Dad. He’s ready to take on any challenge with humor, grace, and aplomb. And he doesn’t mind having his ribs jumped on. I adore watching the way they look at each other. Father-Son is such a special relationship. We celebrated with gifts, pie (of course!), and a bicycle picnic to Warren G. Magnuson Park. The recipe for a perfect day with a perfect Dad. We’re so blessed! We love you, Michael Ayres VanLaanen!

Baba Illuminated

While reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda I came across the phrase: Baba anand (Bliss to you dear one). Baba is dear one in Sanskrit/Hindi, an honorific, used widely in Northern India for Grandfather, wise older male or Saint. Fitting that Lake volunteered the nickname Baba for my father. They are quite a pair. Baba is Lake’s dearest friend, also his Grandfather, wise older male, and quite possibly a saint.

Lake has been known to climb up into Baba’s lap and say, completely unsolicited, “Happy Baby,” and seal it with a kiss. Baba: dear one, for sure! Happy Father’s Day Weekend, Baba/Dad! We love you!


Lake decided Miss Kitty is a rabbit instead of a cat. He calls her “Missy.” Lake loves rabbits and calls them all “hop!” Today he declared “Missy: No Cat… Hop!”

Maybe this explains why Missy is not so into our two lovely male cats: Mr. Cat (aka Serena) and Mr. Silky (aka Friendly). They’re an entirely different species! What a perfect day… I’m glad I spent it with you.

Salmon Berries: local and native

It’s special having Ravenna Park here in Seattle and so close to home. These long evenings nearby to Summer Solstice lend themselves to outdoor adventures, to exploring our own neighborhood, to reveling joyfully in new experiences. It’s the salmon berries that catch my attention. These woods here are a bit of the woods from back home on the [Olympic] peninsula. The salmon berries show me that I am in my native land. I felt it my duty as a mother and a native Pacific Northwesterner. I must introduce Lake to the tart, bitter, watery, and yet sometimes plump, flavorful and slightly sweet, always alluring bold orange berries that are the hallmark gems of the coastal lowland forest. He ate them up! Lake loved it as I told him the story of their native origins and he wanted to keep eating those late spring early summer jewels of the forest.

How tall will your adult baby be?

This is the question that our family is constantly considering… How tall will your adult baby be? How tall will Lake grow up to be? We’re fairly obsessed with this question in our house. Since Michael is 6 1/2 feet tall, he’s always enjoyed the benefits of height. He’s anxious to pass that along to Lake. Lake has always pleasantly hovered around 75-80 percentile for height, however according to our pediatrician, that is not a strong correlation for adult height. It turns out that the best predictor for adult height is the toddler height at 30 months (1 1/2 years old).simply double the height at 30 months. Voila, you’ve got a pretty good estimate of your baby’s fully grown adult stature. “You’ve got to keep feeding him, you know”, our friend gently reminded us. Well that, and we’re grateful for his health and joy too, no matter what his size.

“Lake is so long” says Grandma Annie. Long and tall like Daddy? Six more months until we can do the 30 month maths!