Facing Mortality

Lately Lake has been full of musings and concerns over his own mortality. I was moved to inquire where it was coming from when he confessed to finding “the dying days” scary. I’m not strong at screening what he watches, especially if I’m trying to watch something on the downlow and he pops over for a sticky beak. Luckily I don’t watch much in the way of films. But it turned out I was watching a Dollywood Heartstrings Nextflix original “If I Had Wings” where the older man (after first reconnecting with his long-estranged children) fell down the stairs and had a stroke or had a stroke and fell -down the stairs- and ended up in the ICU on life support. There was a long scene with each of his loved ones at his bedside saying goodbye. The tubes And the machines of the life support system added to the drama of the passing.

Now Lake is popping up frequently with “I have more days than Daddy before the dying part. I don’t want to have any more birthdays. Every day is closer to the dying days.”

What ensues here is my best recollection of our conversation. I find real conversation like this with my nearly four year old so dear.

Yes, in essence every day we are alive is closer to the dying day, Lake. That’s why we life life fully—each moment with presence, integrity, vitality, kindness and purpose. We never know when that day will be. You’re right that it’s more likely that you have more days than Daddy, but it’s not a guarantee. And as we get older our maximum days left alive is ever decreasing, and we still may end up living longer than a younger person. We have no guarantees.

“I’m scared of the dying part.”

You know some people find peace with the comfort of dying since our bodies wear out and aren’t built to last forever. Aside from that and in spite of it, some people find getting older to be a rich and rewarding experience. Especially when living a life well lived… With age there’s so much more to bring perspective into each moment.

The circle of life.

Other times he sings Hakuna Matata.

Toolbelt

What’s in your parenting toolbox? Mine has a lot of great tools… like free weekly emails from Julietta Skoog of Sproutable on positive parenting. Sometimes at the least convenient times all the tools tend to be mislaid and stashed away in that hard to access place in the back of the locked garage out in the backyard. When I most need them, it can feel virtually inaccessible and out of reach. Maybe the trick is to put all those great tools in a toolbelt to carry around with me to keep them close at hand. I’m looking on Etsy for that right now. Do it for this angel. He’s almost four; he tries me for everything I’ve got, and then some.

Then he’ll say something like: “ what’s this? Oh it’s moss. I thought it broke off the [woven jute] rug. It was teasing me.” They did look the same.

And in the middle of a difficult evening I had a touching moment. Taking the 45 home from a long (fun) day playing with friends, as we’re passing Greenlake, a young black man/teenager passes us and prepares to disembark. He was sitting behind us. Now he moves past and in front of us. Nice smile, good eye contact he speaks to me as he’s waiting for the bus to pull up to the stop. “Thank you. You just taught me a lot.” Oh? I was quickly and deeply moved, and a tiny perplexed. I floundered for something meaningful to say back. Oh? I hope it was something good. It takes a lot of patience to stay calm. “Something just clicked. Now I see why people turn out different.”

Feeling grateful blessed, humbled and honored. It’s these beautiful brave souls and that positive parenting at work. Keep the toolbelt close at hand for a perfect day… I’m glad I spent it with you!

Naps and Smiles

Naps and Smiles… Lady Kitty has some new milestones! Truly the bright moments of my days… both for Lake and now for Lady Kitty! Today she’s two months old, and what is she up to? She is learning to nap and smile! I am celebrating!

All dressed up and no place to go!
Guess I’ll have a picnic and smile at mama; then take a nap! I’m such a big girl!

And she’s still sleeping at night. Happy two months, Lady Kitty! A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you smiley sweetheart!

Seattle Mounted Police

Who knew there was a cavalry of eight horses on the Seattle Mounted Police Unit? Michael and I sure didn’t! In our collective forty years of living in Seattle neither of us had seen nor heard of their existance. So it came as a delightful surprise when out walking with a friend to stumble on Mounted Police horse trailers, and later to find them in “action”. We met six of the team (three human and three equine) on the more or less deserted University of Washington campus. In the shade of the infamous cherry trees of the quad we chatted with the friendly unit. They were charismatic police embassadors and encouraging of us to pet Sherman as ridden by Officer Chase. I was a huge fan and Lady Kitty was not shy. It was the highlight of our walk, (and my day), so I was thrilled to be able to share this with you, dear reader!

To read more about the Mounted Patrol from the Seattle Police Foundation here is a short synopsis.

Petting Sherman in the Quad

Steal Magnolias

Steal your neighbors magnolias. Psst, they will forgive you when you give them a platter of these sweet floral delicacies!

Edible flowers never tasted so good!

Tempura Magnolia Recipe

By Maria Taipale

1 egg beaten,
2 Tsp flour
1 Tsp powdered sugar
Beat until you have a smooth batter – you might add a little more flour and powdered sugar
Wash flower leaves, pat dry, pull leaves through batter on both sides, fry in half butter half vegetable oil until golden brown, then sprinkle with powdered sugar! Bon Appetit!!

I was introduced to these unique sweets while visiting friends of friends in Düsseldorf and there was a magnolia tree on their apartment patio. The wise and talented Maria Taipale whipped up a few platters of these delightful tempura battered flower petals! This memory has recently been jogged back into the forefront of my mind as our neighborhood magnolia blossoms rain down daily in the wind. As I watch them glittering against the blue blue sky while breastfeeding Lady Kitty or later sweep the beautiful petals up off the front walk, I daydream of Düsseldorf.

If you try the recipe please let me know what you think!

Walking on the Grass

This anecdote is written by “Uncle” Clarence from his visit yesterday. He’s part of our quarantine family. It’s really too funny not to share. So enjoy some dating/life wisdom from an almost four year old. Written by Clarence Ladd Cantillo.

Oh! I remember something funny about Lake @ “Tom” Park yesterday that I failed to mention.

Which way?

Standing about the middle @ the Park’s Pathway intersection, I asked Lake which one does he want to take and I’ll follow. He said this one (Left).

Lake walked for a bit then he turned about and took the path on the right. I said; “Lake, I thought you wanted to go this way?” Lake answered; “No, I changed my mind. I want to go this way.” I noticed that he was looking at a Looker of a young lady who stood up from her Beach Towel. Lake was transfixed!

Then I said; “Lake, you’re walking off the path.” Lake answered; “Sometimes you need to walk on the grass!” And all the while never taking off his gaze from the young lady.

Sometimes you need to walk on the grass…

Feeling Tied Down?

Feeling glum? Feeling tied down at the moment? No where to go? No friends to see?

Hopefully the warmer weather is enticing you outside and is cheering you up! It’s essential business to turn that tied down feeling around— for a change try feeling tied up instead! All tied up with fun!

Do something silly! Sunday morning we put on baby clothes for fun, looking for one that would fit an almost four year old. It was heeeee-larious! “I’m getting heee-larious!” Lake exclaimed with absolute five star glee. This cos-play is not reserved for toddlers. Anyone can be silly with costumes! Clown around by donning on your kids’ clothes, your partner’s clothes, your old Halloween costume! You’re bound to get a laugh!

Lake wearing his 6 m shirt and mama’s mittens! Heeeee-larious!

Diurnal Baby

Lady Kitty is the most incredible diurnal (active chiefly during daytime) baby! She will take little cat naps in your arms, but otherwise she saves up her big 12 hour sleep for the nighttime, and does it practically all in one go and cannot be woken for love or money. She doesn’t get out of bed for less than a million dollars, as the saying goes. Milkies will do, though! She’s really out like a lightbulb, usually by or around 9pm. She likes a snack around 5am, and then will continue sleeping until 9am or even 10am! So, unsurprisingly she’s not a big daytime napper. I’m really not complaining and I hope there’s no regression coming soon!

Slowing Down

Breastfeeding, eating, changing diapers, washing dishes… organizing, darning, getting around to finally sewing on that missing button… These are the activities that occupy my mind and my days as one bleeds into the next. We are slowing down and pacing ourselves. What we initially took for a sprint or an underwater swim (“hold your breath!”), now is looking like a marathon, or more likely, an ultramarathon.

As the natural world is waking up all around us, we’re being tasked to find our hibernation mode. Spring is turning out to be an exercise in slowing down. Mining the deep well of our inner worlds, our creativity, our imagination and drawing up memories to savor of travel and dinner parties and visiting friends.

We are brushing up our “bakes” while baking bread, cooking up big pots of soup, and going for lots of walks. Having home-improvement projects and deep organizations going on at least in the background, if not the foreground, I find helps too.

Slow feet

All told, we painfully miss our friends and family, especially grandparents! The thought of shelter-in-place orders continuing throughout summer creates a social reality difficult to imagine, yet appears a seemingly likely possibility. In the meantime, we remain extremely blessed to be healthy and joyful, with good humor and plenty to focus on right here at home.

Hello… new baby! If slowed down enough, it is nearly always revealed to be A Perfect Day. I’m so glad I spent it with you, darling.