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!

Franklin Falls in Summer

We revisited Franklin Falls today. Michael and I had hiked in 18 months ago in the snow to find a frozen world and a waterfall of adequate impressiveness. Today, Lake, Lady Kitty and Vivien also joined the party and we were out for an afternoon adventure. Franklin Falls was impressive. Early summer snowmelt roared out of the Cascade Mountains, tumbling over the falls, and rejoined a boisterous South Fork Snoqualmie River 70’ below.

Standing close I was pummeled by the forcefully pulsating falls. My dress quickly grew wet and clung to me. Looking up into the rushing water was like riding a roller coaster.

Laughter poured out of my soaked body with the delight of being touched by the wild. I howled and yodeled as all else receded. The myriad concerns of mothering and household management evaporated. There was no room. There was only nature’s baptism.

What a rush. It was hard to turn away. Highly recommend. A perfect day: I’m glad I spent it with you!

Forties

I adore Pamela Druckerman’s books. Of course, there’s the classic, Bringing up Bébé, but there’s also There are No Grown-ups: a midlife coming-of-age story. Therein she has droll lists highlighting the comical struggles of the decade; the decade that serves as an “intro to aging” or “Adulting 301” for most.

Here’s my: You know you’re in your forties when:

It takes nine miles to warm up for a run.

Your teeth suddenly and consistently get food stuck in them.

You have a few ex-friends.

Your highest aspiration in life is to have your medical chart read, “Delightful, well-appearing, vivacious, and pleasant. Well-groomed. Alert and oriented x 4. Bright affect, mood is stable.”

You recognize in real time when you need to shift into DIY Mother’s Day mode.

Your joints are not what they once were; you put your mountaineering skills to work hobbling around the house, chimneying down the stairwell and being thankful for handrails.

You can recall a time when you refinished your own hardwood floors and replaced any and all chandeliers with zeal, though it’s beyond you now.

You know how to spell hemorrhoids.

You can take a harsh analysis of your strengths and faults and accept them; you’re even learning how to work them to your advantage.

You see the forest for the trees and can (more often) let things go.

Be well,

xoxoTolle

Maya Angela Smith’s Boston Globe Op-Ed

www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/14/opinion/black-mother-to-be-im-already-full-heartache/

My dear friend and neighbor Maya Angela Smith published this heartfelt personal essay today in the Boston Globe. I’m bursting with pride I love her so much. I can’t stop crying I love them so much. Congratulations on your publication, Maya. Lady Kitty will be your son’s fierce friend and defender. We’re here for you.

One week old Lady Kitty with Maya Angela Smith.

Blessed

Lake having a snack before bedtime: I keep eating… like a baby dinosaur!

Later during the tuck-in, after our “songs (Katie, Twinkle, Baby Boats, Lake-Bake, and Chin Song) and a cuddle”, and a kiss (only on the lips Mama)…

Mama: have a blessed sleep, my love.

Lake: What does ‘blessed’ mean?

Mama: Wrapped up in the safety and grace of God, and God is love so it means sleeping all wrapped up in a cloud of love.

He was quiet, taking that in. I think he liked it.

Blessed (and lucky) boy! He found this himself.

Lake is learning new words every day. He still says ointmeal for oatmeal but he no longer says hopspital. Now he clearly enunciates hospital. He maintains a mild interest in speaking German. “How do you say that ‘very’?”

Sehr.

Ich liebe dich sehr viel.”

“Ich liebe dich auch sehr viel, Lake.”

Lake is four years old. He’s growing so tall and charming. They both are! Lady Kitty is nearly four months old already! Blessed be.

All dressed up and no place to go: on creating a covid capsule collection.

It’s been an interesting year so far, to say the least, with many new developments. First, I was pregnant, then there was Lady Kitty; then there was a pandemic induced government issued stay-at-home order, then there was racial violence by police triggering demonstrations for BLM and racial equity. It puts things in perspective and makes you stop worrying if your stomach is lumpy. So what? Wear clothes that are flattering and feel good, do a plank and forgettaboutit. Get on with your dharma, and the important work of making the world a better place.

So in the backdrop of “There’s a lot going on” it was about time for me to adjust my wardrobe to keep up. I don’t mean adjusting my wardrobe of what I was wearing, I mean re-organizing my literal Ethan Allen wardrobe. It was time for my wardrobe to honestly reflect these times. It was time for radical acknowledgement and acceptance of what’s currently what. I’m wearing a lot of black maternity yoga pants as a starter. Super comfortable! Let’s fold them and feature them so I’m not routinely reaching into the way way back down low of the bottomest drawer for my go-to clothes. It was high time to create a capsule collection for my life as it is.

What’s a capsule collection, you ask? It’s basically a subset of your clothes that you’re featuring. To create a personal capsule collection for a special period of time is a simple and rewarding task. What you get is a perfectly curated boutique created just for you, by you, (with a little help from the spectacular stylist Mellicia Marx). Your capsule collection ideally honors your style aspirations while simultaneously remaining grounded in the demands of your lifestyle.

I’m a big fan of matching outfits, so I freshened my capsule collection by adding some Marimekko whimsy to the mix. (Stay tuned for some cute overload family photos!) While I was waiting for my order to arrive in the mail, I boxed up all the stuff I’m not currently wearing. That is: anything that’s too small, too big, too tight, fancy or fussy, anything for winter, and anything that’s not easily laundered or breastfeeding compatible. Clear the cobwebs! I’ll be happy to rediscover those treasures later when it’s time to integrate back into the workplace. Finally, I folded (Mari Kondo style) and placed my chosen items (yoga clothes, nursing bras, along with the fun new cotton prints…) in beautiful bento box display.

Suddenly it’s fun and easy to get dressed for success. Everything fits. Everything is compatible with my needs. I’m not confronted with clothes that don’t fit and That I can’t wear today. I don’t have to wade through or weed out the wardrobe to find the gems. They all work and support my day-to-day parenting in style. Now, I’m all dressed up with no place to go! Well, ready, set, phase 1.5 Seattle! Let’s make the world a brighter place for all of our children, one gorgeous, courageous smile at a time.

Lake Twenty-two 2.0

The Lake Twenty-two Trail in the Mt. baker Snoqualmie National Forest is so lush and relaxing we had to return… and bring the boys too. The whole family piled into the Egg and drove back out to the Mountain Loop Highway. This time, knowing how popular the hike is, we woke up early to get ahead of most of the teens with amplified base strapped to their packs. The trail crew had been there and cut out all the blow downs we had navigated around last week. Feels to good to be in the mountains and to breathe the mountain air.

Back on the trail again…
Lady Kitty is quite the hiker!
The boys take in the the majestic waterfalls
Lake Twenty-two. All the ice melted out over the past week.

Lake loved it. He did great with all 2.7 miles of trail up to the lake… and back! Sometimes we were hiking through little rivers, and sometimes the rocks we were navigating were taller than his legs. He was a “proffy” [professional] hiker! Vivien told him that and he kept repeating it as he skipped, ran and jumped along the trail. He alone among us was not totally bushed at the end of this perfect day!

Growth Mindset

Lake is telling jokes. Michael compliments him on being a funny guy.

I start chiming in about how hard Lake is working at being funny. The harder you work at it, the funnier you get. Michael interjects that it helps if you’re innately funny. Then you have a better chance at becoming really funny. And he continues that Lake is inherently funny. He’s got the bones of the joke and the timing… Yes, you really work hard at your job of entertaining, Lake, I counter.

I’m trying hard to get Michael’s attention to emphasize “growth mindset” without having to directly discuss it in front of Lake. My subtlety is not transmitting the distinction. I finally nudge Michael, “pssst, growth mindset, please!”

Lake is immediately interested.

“Lady Kitty sure has a growth mindset”, Michael says. He winks. “She tries really hard to get you to feed her so she can grow. Pure growth mindset, that one!”

Growth Mindset

Not having preconceptions about the phrase “growth mindset” Michael was able to come up with a witticism. The principle is worth sharing though. I first became familiar with the psychology concept of “growth mindset” reading The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confidant, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl. A very good read. Not too long. I highly recommend it. In Chapter 3: “A is for Authenticity” the authors introduce the Stanford researcher Carol S Dweck who coined the term. Her body of work shows the importance of praising effort over ability in building children’s resilience, perseverance, engagement, confidence, ability to stay calm under pressure, and ultimately how far they will excel. The type of praise children hear builds the framework for how they perceive themselves, their abilities and determines how far they will be willing to take on challenges where they may have to risk failure. It influences how far they go in their life’s work and successes. She calls this growth mindset and distinguishes it from fixed mindset. The distinguishing feature of growth mindset is “process praise.” Hence, my sensitivity to Lake thinking he’s a funny guy versus he works hard at being funny.

Lake is more likely to be insecure and stopped by fear of judgment if he’s been made to believe he’s a funny guy. Since it’s an immutable qualifier, he’ll be worried that he might not be funny after all and stop trying. Whereas he’ll be more interested in being creative and trying to reach new levels of hilarity if he’s got the (correct) idea that qualities are qualities are expanded by practicing. And my, we want Lake to be not only resilient, but also maximally funny!

Relationship Repair

My husband has a super power. He is adept at assessing people’s character and crystalizing nebulous problems. When I point this out, he demurs. Recently I asked him for some relationship advice. Not my own. Obviously.

This was his solid advice:

1. Be kind.

2. Let it all go.

3. Start practicing #1 and #2 and keep on doing that every day forever. The silver lining is that you should be doing this anyways. This is the work of being a human.

4. Find workarounds for everything that you can. If you don’t like the way she drives the car, get her her own car and stay out of it; she is 100% responsible for her car.

5. Later, much later, when a bank of trust has accumulated in the relationship, you can start talking about stuff again.

Maple Syrup

It was after curfew. (Seattle has a 6pm curfew this week. These are indeed strange times.) I didn’t think that applied to our afternoon walk. We were out and about in the neighborhood, heading down to the “spinning chair” park. We passed a low growing Japanese maple.

“Is this a maple tree?” asked Lake.

“Yes, it’s a Japanese maple,” I answered.

“Will it grow maple syrup?”