Oregon Coast

Rockaway Beach misty morning
Oswald West State Park
Rockaway Beach brilliant sunset
Back in Portland —a lovely evening with dear friends, old and new
“Life’s a beach”

The Oregon coast was by turns hot and sunny sunny as well as chilly and foggy, and gorgeously ethereal throughout. Lady Kitty made the most of it and still has sand clinging to her scalp! In other brief news, she says “hi” and “bye” (especially while waving and especially to cats), and even said “thank you” and “all done” which I would not believe if not witnessed by Bridget and myself!

Hazel Blue Acres

Lady Kitty really liked climbing in and sitting in the “Berries only!” Radio Flyer… Shhh
So many berries!

Our annual u-pick blueberry excursion with Katie and two of her girls was extraordinarily fruitful this time around! We explored a new farm this year —Hazel Blue Acres, with lovely hospitable farmers. The first variety was just coming into season and there were absolutely loads of berries! We hope to be back in a week or two for subsequent varieties. Let us know if you’d like to join us! A day spent amongst laden blueberry bushes makes for a perfect day— I’m glad to spend it with you!

Lake’s Growing UP

31 May 2016 (Newborn)
📷Lynn Murphy
4 November 2016 (~6 months)
📷 Tolle VanLaanen
21 June 2017 (1 year old)
📷 Tolle VanLaanen
29 November 2018 (18 months)
📷 Joanna-Denise Baykal
26 August 2018 (2 years old)
📷 Joanna-Denise Baykal
1 December 2018 (~2 1/2 years old)
📷 Chamonix Browne
11 May 2019 (~3 years old)
📷 Tolle VanLaanen
10 February 2020 (3 3/4 years old)
📷 Chamonix Browne
21 June 2020 (4 years old)
📷 Chamonix Browne
31 October 2020 (4 1/2 years old)
📷 Chamonix Browne
6 June 2020 (5 years old)
📷 Chamonix Browne

After a full breakfast we rallied to gets weights and measures. Analysis of the data revealed Lake grew 3 inches in the past year and 3 1/4 inches the year prior when we had first started recording Lake’s growth on the kitchen beam at Point Petite.

6 June 2021, Murphy-VanLaanen Family
📷 Chamonix Browne

It’s a wonderful life. So glad we can spend it with you Lake! You’re growing up so well. You can be right proud of yourself. We all love you very much—you’re perfect at every age.

The Cherub and the Imp

Motherhood is full of the best highs and the worst lows. Parenting can present impossible challenges and incubate such guilt-ridden anguish. It’s hard to come out unscathed. When the yarns start spinning and the decibels of my preschooler escalate, my parenting skills dangle dangerously over an abyss. The hypocrisy ignites and my worst patterns emerge. I cringe as I hear myself parroting all the ugly cliches to Lake: You’re too old to be acting like this. You’re being so naughty. I criticize and criticize the poor rascal. Lake is in tears. I feel positively terrible. He feels positively terrible. This is certainly not what is meant by positive parenting. I’m ensnared in this trap again and again. Even though I know the trap is set by stress and fatigue and baited with a hollering baby, and even though I know the trap can be avoided by a taking deep breaths, keeping a healthy perspective, not taking it personally, and swimming around with a joke and a sense of humor, I fall in the pit over and over. These low moments of parenting act like quicksand, and I sink lower still through self-loathing. How could I be such a terrible parent, yelling at my sweet yet infuriating five year old? At the end of the day, this is the reality I must reconcile with both myself and my children. When I’m calm I apologize and hope that my willingness to be honest, humble, and admit fault partially erases the toll my hot temper must have on my innocent and not-so-innocent, but doing-their -best children.

While Lake has been with Nana and Baba this summer (And what could be better than time with grandparents?! Just look at these gorgeous scenes!) I’ve had a bit of time and space to do the work of bolstering my parenting tool belt: strengthening my emotional foundation, and building up my emotional resilience. It’s a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tool belt full of intelligent alphabet soup and helpful acronyms, aimed at reducing emotional suffering, improving communications, and being more present in life. This handy tool belt of parenting skills is all reinforced for me through listening to The Skillful Podcast, where hopefully the repetition serves to build familiarity and bring the skills to the fore when I’m really confronted by a hot torpedo. The ABCs are for Accumulating positive emotion, Building mastery, and Coping ahead. The PLEASE skills of physical health are: PL treating physical illness, Eating balanced, Avoid Mood Altering substances, Sleep, Exercise. I’m reminded to investigate the truth of my anguish-inducing thoughts through Root Cause Analysis: What am I feeling? What’s causing the emotion? and to Check the Facts. Is there another way to look at things? I challenge myself to make an emergency preparedness plan incorporating different Skills: STOP (Stop, Take a Step Back, Observe the situation, Proceed Mindfully using another skill), TIPP to physiologically calm via slowing my heart rate (Temperature (ice water dive, really an ice pack to the eye sockets), Intense Exercise (jumping jacks, deep breaths, planks!), Paced Breathing and Paired muscle relaxation) then proceed to Distract as long as needed until I can proceed with Opposite Action (eg humor instead of anger). It all comes down to Radical Acceptance, and I’m reminded of The Serenity Prayer, which I repeat over and over like a mantra until some of the distress begins to melt and gives way to the possibility of finding my peace and joy amidst the kid and life chaos.

To be sure, the kids can be a bowl of laughs. The “torpedo” is softened to “impishness” and the cherub sets my heart on fire. When she reaches her arms around my neck to give me a hug, there are no words. When she crinkles her nose or waves goodbye, joy crescendos and time stops. The other day we were all in hysterics over lunch. As a family we’re amused by wordplay and Lake has absorbed this trait and skill without exception. Lake especially loves to make rhymes.

“Tomatoes and Topedos! Tomatoes and Topedos! Tomatoes and Topedos!” Lake trilled as he subbed in “topedo” for “potato.” Later he couldn’t even recall the word for potato. “What is that topedo called, again?”

Madeline found it particularly funny as topedo sounds like how one says “torpedo“ in German. That’s an apt descriptor for Lake, he can be a bit of a torpedo of action and fun!

“Never give a nosy person room for a comeback. Humor is the great escape,” writes Frank Delaney in Tipperary.

Lake was asking me what’s the word for a doctor of research. “A PhD? A professor?” I said, trying to read his mind. “No.” He began to get frustrated. “If you don’t know it, I will never be able to know what it is,” he said. The pressure mounted.

“Can you give me some context? Is it a type of career that one of your LEGO figures has?” I said desperately fishing around in the dark. “Is it a scientist?” I ventured.

“Yes!” he said with sheer and visable relief.

“Yes! A scientist! These guys, they science the water,” he clarified.

Lady Kitty is a surely some special category of scientist engineer. She scienced the water to me the other day. She was sitting in the sink bath and wanted her water bottle. She was pointing to it and making little grunt noises. I was being a bit obtuse on purpose because she wasn’t pointing exactly at the water bottle and I am not crazy about how much water she drinks. Thirsty as a fish. She loves that water bottle. Then: sopping wet diapers. Finally she pointed to the water coming out of the tap, then in the general direction of the water bottle. Okay, I capitulated.

While they might both be sciencers of the water, Lake tends to be the imp while Lady Kitty plays the cherub (at least for now–I could see this changing. Lake is proving to be a devoted and tender big brother. And that crinkly nose mischief face of Lady Kitty !!) Auntie Kendra from Alaska writes of our this years’ Father’s Day get-together: “It was so great to finally meet Lady Kitty. I like her immensely ❤ And I also really enjoyed getting to know Lake better. I can see that he is endlessly amusing.” She deals us a solid. As only an auntie could see the truth in a heartbeat.

Lake said, “Want to dance? I’m good at balleting. I’ve seen it so many times I know exactly what to do, and I grew up to spin. I love spinning around.”

He’s a very imaginative storyteller which he likes to narrate with his stuffies and Legos and Octonauts. Sometimes when I’m working in my home office I get to eavesdrop on his antics. “Once upon a time there was an octopus who didn’t have a home but lived on a baby giraffe. One terrible day they met a seal…” And another time I overheard him say, “They’re out attacking the unvisable [sic] ghosts…”

Lake can be an imp and he can also be an absolute sweetheart.

One morning the sweetheart said to me,

“You’ll always be here for me.” I raised my eyebrow, or what I thought might pass as a raised eyebrow. “Oh?”

“But the thing is,” he added with with clever diplomacy,

“I’ll always be here for you.”

And we are. We’re all here for each other through the hot days and the cold. That’s the beauty of family.

Last month Lake said of Lady Kitty, “I think she really likes the life of living with me. I think she really likes living with me. When you do that thing of moving to another house [growing up and moving out]. She would be really sad. I’d have to bring her with me. I think she loves me.”

She does. I’m certain. (To be fair, Lake also adores Lady Kitty!) Lady Kitty is a genuine sweetheart. She is a lovely conversationalist and has a richly nuanced vocabulary consisting of about three words. “Ba” – for “regard, there”. “Da,” for agreement or assent, “Out” for outside. Although recently she has added “Mamamamamama!” with both arms up; roughly translated as “There you are. Finally. I’m dying for milk!”

all PC Chamonix Browne

I continue to be enamored with the ingenuity that the kids show with their imagination and vocabulary/anecdotes. I wish it were always a bowl of laughs, and that’s really what rings most true at the end of the day. But it would be dishonest to say we are always laughing. Taken all together, these days of family life are still the perfect days, and I’m glad I spent them with you. Stay cool in the heat, loves, and as Lake said when I got out the fans, “You get your cool air time!”

Picnic Weather

Matthew’s Beach Park stormy picnic
Tom’s garden sunny picnic and barbecue
Bring out the hot weather watermelon
Rain at Greenlake today

We’ve been enjoying these Midsummers evenings that simply overflow with daylight. It’s a treat to be able to go outside after work, and if we bring our dinner we can play even longer with our friends, at the parks, and in the playgrounds. As such, we’ve been picnicking in all kinds of weather. Each is a complete adventure in and of itself. Combined they are a riotous collage of colors, moods and temperatures that make up June in Seattle. The common thread is the long hours of daylight beckoning is outside to play and picnic in the park.

Golden Garden on Saturday

Five Years a Parent

Thinking of a wish…

Every birthday of your firstborn is an anniversary of parenthood. Michael and I celebrated five years today. We were showered with the presence (and quite a few presents much to Lake’s delight) of friends and family who turned out in an enthusiastic herd for Lake’s 5th Birthday party at Gasworks Park—like lizards coming out of hibernation we basked in the gorgeous sunshine and equally warm glow of each other’s company. It was reminiscent of our last big pre-Covid era birthday— Lake’s Third Birthday. Today guests had “a blast!” and 46 donuts and most of an entire donut cake disappeared amongst the merriment. We thank all for Lake’s kind birthday wishes. It was incredibly meaningful to have a memorable event marking Lake turning five years old and heading to Kindergarten in the autumn. Thank you!

“Happy Birthday Lake!! We love being parents—and not just any parents… your parents! I could snug you forever, too.”

The kids were thrilled for a real party after feeling deprived for so long, as one British mum noted.
Grateful for our au pairs (the devoted Madeline shown here twinning for the party with Lady Kitty)—a winning family alliance.

Happy World Redhead Day!

A trio of blue-eyed redheads under one roof

“Happy World Redhead Day!” our friend Clarence greeted us this morning along with a handful of fun facts. Apparently our particular colorway is the rarest hair/eye color combination in the world with an incidence of 0.17%; approximately 170 in 100,000 have red hair together with blue eyes. We’d be right at home in Scotland or Ireland which boasts the highest global concentration of redheads (13%, 10% respectively)… That’s where our red hair hails—from the Thomson’s and the Murphy’s.

We celebrate diversity and today it’s the uniqueness of red hair we honor. We love our shared gene mutation, but most of all we love our family and friends! A perfect day… I’m glad I spent it with you.

Lady Kitty Walking

Lady Kitty is walking! Her prompt came when crawling was precluded by her hands being full. She’s definitely getting the hang of it. In fact, she’s already leveling up. She likes to practice walking down the stairs facing outward/forward (with help!). And all on her own, she likes to grab her coat and head for the door—ready for a proper walk!

In other developments, Lady Kitty has another tooth coming in–her tenth. Meanwhile, Lake lost his second tooth over last week, and has a birthday coming up next weekend! Thanks for tuning in for a quick update from A Perfect Day. Indeed, I’m forever glad I spent it with you.

Franklin Falls With “Nana as my au pair”

May 15, 2021 —Lady Kitty eats snow

Lady Kitty hiked up to Franklin Falls! It was very busy on the trail but she still found a spot to pause and eat some snow. The water was really rushing from Spring snowmelt—an avalanche had covered the area in late winter adding snowpack to the drainage making for extremely big waterfalls! Too big even to photograph!

Nana took us on this hike and kept a close eye on Lake as the edge of the trail is rather near the steep ledge and the rushing water. Nana had been Lakes au pair for the week while Madeline relaxed in Hawaii. Lake found this hilarious. “Nana is my au pair!”

Meanwhile Madeline felt the perks of the Covid thaw and enjoyed her traveling vacation! Yes even au pairs need a break and are due two weeks of vacation per year, though in our experience they’re always happy for more!

Madeline in Hawaii
Madeline in San Francisco

It’s fantastic and refreshing to get out and explore our beautiful and diverse planet!