Let’s do this!

Lady Kitty reaching out, says, “Let’s do this!”

Lady Kitty surprised us with her first wave of hello and goodbye today. She has a very royal wave indeed. Too funny! Yesterday she experienced a swing and could hold her smile big enough or long enough; she was beside herself with delight!

Children really light up the world. Lake was entertaining us with such joy at the dinner table last night. Nana shared with us, and then we were all acting it out and laughing so hard about an old neighbor dog of NanaBaba that would yap in the night, and the owner who would bellow Kiki. The neighbor and his dog Kiki had a nightly act of call and response. Then Lake howled with delight to see Nana act out how he had been reclining on the kayak with her earlier in the day, being lazy, letting Nana do all the paddling.

Lake alert, setting out

We went out in the canoe and kayak this evening to sit on the water with the bats. I like watching them darting along the water eating bugs while the light bleeds out of the sky. Dusk on the water is so peaceful and refreshing. If feeling world weary, be lightened by a moment in nature.

Be rejuvenated by the joy of children. Such trust. Such exuberance. Such pure hearted courage and curiosity. But don’t lose focus on the big picture of global climate and much needed social justice; if anything redouble your efforts in the name of the children. It’s their world —they’re inheriting it from us—its problems and its beauty. We’re all tasked as caretakers. We’re all in this together. Lady Kitty smiles and waves and exudes encouragement. Let’s do this, she seems say, urging us on toward unity and the greater good.

Funny Papers

Hägar the Horrible, Lake’s fravorite!

Lake is discovering comics. He studies them fervently, then brings over his selection: “Hey! do you want to read this one?” Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The next day: “Will you read it [Hägar the horrible] again? This fight one is my fra-vorite!”

The day after: “I’m too happy looking at these comics.”

He’s perceptive and constantly alert, constantly learning. The other day I said, “Honey, you can’t put the mohair blanket on the floor.” He skipped a beat, then asked, “What’s a mo?”

Colluding in Lake’s development in this way is delightful.

I have fond memories of my grandpa reading us the “funnies” when my brother and I were about Lake’s age. There’s something a little daring in reading the comics. Some cater to adult humor, and Lake soaks it all in. He applies his newly aquired language fearlessly, although he is not always fully grasping the meaning. He makes declarations with an amused glint in his eye, guaging his audience for a response–a true comic.

“I love that darn sweet tooth arm”, he says while pulling on Lady Kitty’s arm. I can’t stop laughing. I mean, if there’s an endearment “sweetheart”, why can’t there be “sweet tooth”? And darn sweet tooth, with surely a hint of the illicit, is even better. We laugh hard together. We are both having a good laugh over sharing the “funny papers.”

A perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you laughing at the lake!

Strawberry Tallcake

Happy Half-Birthday, Lady Kitty!

From siesta to fiesta… After her epic nap yesterday, Lady Kitty was so done with sleeping; she was ready to party. We celebrated her half-birthday with a big hike and a showstopper two tier watermelon cake with strawberry accents. I’m calling it a Strawberry Tallcake, because I loved the character Strawberry Shortcake when I was about four and five years old. Lake loved the color of the Strawberry Tallcake, he said, and was generally very complimentary. It’s gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegan, raw, no-bake, low calorie, and infinitely refreshing. The directions are simple; I dreamed them up on the hike. 1. Carve watermelon from rind in thick wide rounds. 2. Stack in layers. 3. Array cut strawberries attractively. 4. Chill and Enjoy!

This fiesta day served up Lady Kitty the best day of her life. It wasn’t when I was making her half-birthday cake. She would have preferred being held, or playing in the lake. I think she could tell she wasn’t going to profit from this tower of juicy watermelon. Her mama is dragging her feet on the baby-lead-weaning, so she’s surviving her six month milestone remaining a breast-milk bébé. It was later, during the party games, that she really lit up. Lake was playing ball with her and she was having the time of her life. She was sitting on my lap on the shore, where we had been intermittently dipping our toes in the lake. Suddenly Lake threw his new blue wet beach ball straight at us. I smacked it away with my free hand into the waves. Lady Kitty laughed uproariously as the water droplets showered all over us. Lake retrieved the ball, and threw it at us again. Smack! Shower! Giggle! Laugh! Again and again and again. Baby Beach Volleyball?

A perfect fiesta with the siblings: sweet and uncomplicated, just like Lady Kitty herself.


Beating the heat involves a long afternoon nap in many parts of the world. After six months of resisting daytime sleep, the 34oC weather this week is helping Lady Kitty to find her siesta groove.

Peeking in through the screen door

From virtually no naps, or maybe a 15 minute nap at most, to 2 hours napping… what a change. I’ll take it! But I had to peek in to check her breathing!

Doe, a Deer

More tracks on the sand this tranquil morning. We’re sharing the beach and the surrounding forests and fields with a few small groups of long tailed deer. When they’re startled their white fluffy tails spring straight up as they bound off to camouflage in the understory. Lake scampered like a wild animal unfettered by clothes for a bit this morning, knowing it was going to get very hot and very sunny later. He happily played on the beach and in the water humming Doe a Deer to himself before the lake woke up.

Contemplating the night’s deer tracks in the brightness of the early morning sun
Long early morning shadows

Then we ended up visiting the rest of the day. It’s such a lovely feature of this lake community. People are so nice and all our great-grandparents knew each other, and on down through the generations. It’s easy to visit all day by simply walking along the beach in our bay. Visiting and playing through the eyes of my son reminded me of when I was a child. As a child I craved the midsummer weekends when all the folks and kids would be out to play with. Quiet felt lonely. Now quiet feels peaceful. Now I long for the coming of the quiet mid-week days and the fall season after sport boaters have forgotten us. But today I was basking in the camaraderie of the Friendly Folksy festival atmosphere of a mid-August heat wave. A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with the bay!

Red Canoe Farms

Steve and Lisa Pointer own this tidy u-pick blueberry farm in Kootenai County, Idaho. They are extremely nice and have a minimum-spray practice (copper, boron, organic insecticide if needed, and never on the berries themselves). We’ve been a couple of times so far this summer, and we always come away happy, with full buckets and stomachs; promising to get an earlier start next time to beat the heat. Today was no exception despite our best efforts.

Nana is a motivated picker. She was training Lake to be her expert picking aid while I tended Lady Kitty and periodically contributed handfuls.

Concentrated pickers
Spotted crouched between the rows eating from the bucket in the shade
All things considered we picked 8.3 pounds in 1 hour
Lady Kitty was along for the adventure

Check out their farm’s website Red Canoe Farms to plan your own excursion. They’ll be open through the end of August and they keep their website updated with picking hours.

I’m a Doctor of That

Kids say the darnedest things. Lake likes to say: I’m a doctor of that. I’m a doctor of dying is his latest and most frequent proclamation. Whatever it is that ails you, he’s a doctor of that. I’m a doctor of hurt wrists. I’m a doctor of broken toes. I’m a doctor of corona virus. He acknowledges that it’s hard work and he’s paid handsomely for it. When I told him his doctor, Dr. Abby Grant, is getting married, he was astonished.

Tonight he was saying: Doctor Tiger belongs in the forest. Doctor Animal belongs in the zoo. Doctor Snake belongs in the wild things. He was unstoppable. Then, it was “Let’s go on a night espedition!” Then it was types of fish charades. Spoiler alert: he’s quite good!

He still says “breastfest” for breakfast. I guess it’s not too far off if the origins lie in his milkies days. He’s so darn entertaining!

Do you have branches in your mind? He was asking me if I was thinking about flowers.
Lake called it a Daisy Jane, like his friend Maicy Jane, instead of a “daisy chain”

These photos of the kids wearing Marimekko stripes were taken in Seattle on June 11th. Some things haven’t changed. Lake is still saying “breastfast” and “I’m a doctor of that”. Lady Kitty is two months older already and that’s half-again-her-age older. She’s growing up so fast and standing strong on her own two feet. She’s still got her winning smile.

Coquettish on June 11, 2020
Pure joy on August 14, 2020

Perfect days, I’m so grateful to be spending them with you!

Good Days

“Days here are always good,” Lake said to me over lunch. He was recounting an exchange he’s had with the neighbor Mr. Galvan who had looked Lake directly in the eyes and said:

Lake, I gotta tell you something. There’s never a bad day at the lake.”

The dawning of another perfect day at the lake

Lake experienced something new over at the construction site on his morning adventure with Nana: “sand beans.” Nana confirmed it was pea gravel!

I love the unique way Lake recalls things and phrases and events; it is a glimpse into his mind.

He’s having such a good day that time appears to expand in order to accommodate all the goodness. After his nap Nana took Lake out in her kayak “The Flame” and they paddled for two hours. Upon returning for a late dinner, Lake enthused: “I spent the whole day on the row! I didn’t even have a nap!”

Then at bedtime, and peppered throughout the day, he sings to us, “I love you all my love yous!”

We love you too, Lake! Your endearing nature makes the four-year-old mood swings bearable. Continued thanks to Nana for making a warm-hearted home, and all the lovely neighbors out here for building such a historic community. All good days out here at the lake to be sure; this one was no exception.

A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Au Pairs in Peril

I was devastated by the news of the June 22, 2020 executive proclamation suspending visas for aliens who may pose a threat to our economic recovery. In theory I support the sentiment of reducing America’s elevated unemployment rate. I had just lamenting how Switzerland could motivate its nation with a nice “get Switzerland working again; have-a-Swiss-holiday” message, while America wasn’t generating anything so positive and effective.

In practice this restriction doesn’t simultaneously substitute Americans for the jobs of J1 visa holders among others. Our au pair agency is not offering domestic American au pairs the opportunity to connect with American host families (from a different region of the country, say) for an au pair year. I did inquire. Alas, middle class American double-income-dependent working families are simply being stretched thin, asked to do more.

The Economist’s 1 August 2020 publication of “Tearing up the welcome mat” (pp 47-49) captured our alarm of the situation:

“In June [Mr Trump] issued a ‘Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the US Labour Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak’. It froze four types of visas for the rest of the year: H-1BS (for highly skilled workers); H-2BS (fo less-skilled workers); J visas, for au pairs, temporary summer workers and some academics; and L visas, for professionals who are moved within the same company.

“These new rules, combined with the near-total shutdown of visa offices, will destroy American jobs, not create them…

“Banning au pairs won’t create jobs for Americans, either. On the contrary: by providing cheap child care, au pairs mak it it easier for American parents to go out to work. Families that couldn’t afford a nanny can often afford an au pair because part of the au pair’s compensation is a place to stay and a chance to learn English.

“Jason Patwell, a defense conractor, is a single father of three boys, one of whom has special needs. He was aghast when he realizes that an au pair would not be coming. ‘I would love to say I have a back-up plan, but I don’t. I can throw money at the problem, and go into debt. I’ll survive until the end of the summer,’ he says.”

Then in mid-July came our potential break. The national interest exceptions, for which we ought to qualify as medical workers essential to the treatment of COVID patients and research toward new COVID therapies. If granted, at the discretion of the US Consulate in the home country, the au pair must travel to our family within 30 days.

The German au pair we matched with, Madeline Jung, would be so sad to lose her opportunity to arrive in September. We are hopeful that during her upcoming US Consular appointment on 8 September she’ll be granted a J-1 visa under the national interest exception. Then we will all be thrilled to be united together as one strong multinational family! It is truly a matter of national, and personal, importance!

Au pair living is unparalleled

Ich drucke dir die Daumen, I’ll press my thumbs for you! as the German saying goes, roughly translated to: cross your fingers for us!!

Queen Nana

Nana, our Queen Mother, is taking exquisite care of all of us here at her Summer Estate of Point Petite. She grew up here, and now decades later, her grand children are following in her footsteps, as bare feet find their way over well worn rock paths. Each day is an adventure here. Meals, activities (making robots, boating, hiking), and lessons (swimming, reading, manners, and life) are all steeped in her tender loving care. It’s a full immersion act of devotion and we appreciate her so.

Making precious memories.

All perfect days… we’re glad we’re spending them here with you. Thank you for everything! We love you, Nana!