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.

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.

Madeline Dear

An encomium to Madeline:









Lake has taken to calling her Madeline, dear as a cheeky term of endearment. We are thankful every day for Madeline choosing to be our au pair! Today she reminds me is our one year anniversary from our match date. So many hurdles to cross and so much determination and commitment on her part—to come and stay. In the beginning after we matched there was uncertainty of whether she would be able to obtain a NIE (national interest exception) visa at all. There was the huge relief when she got acceptance of her visa (she got it!), then: covid quarantines made it nearly impossible to meet other au pairs or make new friends once she arrived. Once she arrived to settle in she was met with a rough bout of homesickness adjustment for the first few months while Lady Kitty cried every day. Then along the way to add injury to insult, she suffered a sprained ankle, MVA whiplash from being rear ended, the death of her cat, and now the unexpected paralysis of her dog Bones. She has remained steadfast and dedicated to our home life and the children throughout, providing a solid addition to our family during this unprecedented year of social self-reliance. Thank you for toughing it out with us, Madeline. We appreciate your support here in our family every day! We wish you more fun adventures for the coming year… car and air travels and dinners out with friends. You deserve a break Madeline—enjoy it! First up, look out Hawaii… here she comes!

Also in the family news this week: Lady Kitty cut her ninth tooth, and Lake lost his first tooth!

Familie Circus

“Our Covid Quarantine Year” photo by Chamonix Browne, The Happy Film Company. Tolle wearing L.K. Bennett

Lately my family has been amused by the hilarity of names for goups of different types of animals. A herd of elk is familiar, but a tower of giraffes?! Really? Can it be? A smack of jellyfish! A conspiracy of lemurs. A crash of rhinoceroses. A scurry of squirrels. A wisdom of wombats. A zeal of zebras?! We laugh together with mouths agape in disbelief.

Seriously, is this stuff for real? What do you call a group of cats? A clowder. A clutter. A pounce. A dout. A nuisance. A glorying. A glare. Apparently any of the above are ligit. It’s so zany it resonates with our year. What do you call a group during Covid quarentine? A pod. A bubble. A household. A family circus.

As the vaccinated population (people poked) grows and expands around us like kernals of corn in a popcorn popper, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be finally well and truly receeding. Days emerge where I find myself momentarily forgetting about Covid altogether before something prompts me to remember (walking from the early morning tennis court into the park bathroom–oh, right, mask up), and it’s like waking from a nice dream and crashing back into the reality of a crushing break-up. What a year it has been!

We were incredilbly blessed by the friends that emerged into our sphere. Our associations shifted somewhat to settle in to routines with those families and friends who were similarly aligned as we were. For these folks we are eternally grateful, especially Clarence, Tom and Mandy, NanaBaba, and the Lange Family.

As much as we tried to keep an even keel, there’s no denying Covid’s collective impact also reached our household as well. Even as we worked hard to maintain a steady sense of normalcy throughout the uncertainty and rapidly evolving guidelines, there were losses and challenges. It helped to have Michael near the front-lines, but not in the trenches, getting the most up-to-date information from infections diseases rounds.

The family circus that will be remembered as our year of COVID quarentine has been entertaining overall. It was Lady Kitty’s first year of life, and Lake grew from a toddler to a little boy. We were certainly never bored! Not with Lady Kitty astounding us every day (Michael said, “She’s fully engaged but can only grunt to get her point across. it’s like being in a different country), and Lake around slinging out memorable phrases like a firefighter with a drenching hose.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you a collection of recent quotes from our contemporary family circus. So, here you go… enjoy!

Lake loves cats. He is an assiduous student of cats and their various qualities and dispositions. He recently described our tortoiseshell neighbor cat, as his “fravrorite cat.” He described her coloring as “black with a shimmer of white. Like Missy but with less hair.” About Mr. Cat, Lake said, “Mr. Cat looks like a movie star, doesn’t he? He just needs some sunglasses.” He came up with that a few days after I had recounted an anecdote from the dentist office. Seeing Michael reclined in the dental chair, I said to him, “You look like a movie star, Michael! Must be the sunglasses.” “No,” Michael dead-panned, “I look like that all the time.” Now, Lake really wants to be a circus actor. “No, just a plain actor. A dramatic actor,” he clarified.

My angels.

Lady Kitty said, “wawawawawa”

Lake interpreted for us. According to Lake, Lady Kitty is saying, “My mommy’s the best! She’s the cook of my life!”

Those two have a really sweet relationship. Lake adores Lady Kitty and vice versa. He continues along this charming vein:

“Lakus Bakus has something to saykus…”

“Lady Kitty, it wouldn’t be the same without you.”

“We’re pals, right, Lady Kitty? We’re pals!”

“Lady Kitty, I’m voting for you, pal!”

“All I need is a Newfoundland. Lady Kitty hasn’t even had the experience of having a Newfoundland around. She hasn’t even had the experience.”

Instead, what she’s grown up with is a clutter of cats! In fact, Lake continued:

“Lady Kitty is going on a safari to look for cats!”

Lake gave Madeline a handful of foreign coins. “You’re so wealthy now. You have a collection of coins!” Then with the thinly veiled generosity of a four year old. He proclaimed “you can buy me Octonauts!”

The Vaccine Spring is lifting the mood of Covid Quarantine, and we’re looking forward to a cultural shift in precautions allowing us to travel to Port Townsend and Leavenworth and other favorite destinations to reunite with friends we haven’t seen in over a year.

“I can’t wait to get busy chopping wood with Baba at Newman Lake. We go out in his huge truck to get wood. And he has me in the front all the way to wherever the wood is, and back. Because it’s not very far.”

“Newman Lake is very deep in the woods. But Quinault is even deeper in the woods. There’s not even a single power cord. Tolle couldn’t even have a single movie to watch when she was there… nothing!” Lake is incredulous and perhaps a tiny bit proud.

It’s true Mama Tolle grew up without electricity and we learned keepin’ busy from a young age. No problems with boredom there!

One of Lake’s beloved family jokes is to ask: “What did you eat for dinner two days ago, Lady Kitty?!” when Lady Kitty has the hiccups. Madeline taught us a German technique for resolving hiccups. Ask the person “What did you eat for dinner two days ago?” The hiccups are stilled into submission by the concentration of remembering. We have all been pleasantly surprised how well it works. Try it!

There’s also plenty of minor disagreements along the way, feeling out our boundaries and continually learning how to get along. but that’s how we get to know each other’s needs and vulnerabilities so we can better be supported, and support each other, right?

Mama: It’s time to pick out your pajamas Lake.

Lake: That’s not something I’m going to offer to do.


Lake responded with, “Now it’s getting complicated.”

In closing, I will include as a tribute some wise words from recently departed Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Many years ago, prior to meeting the Beatles in London at an awards ceremony in the Spring of 1964, Philip was asked if he thought the band was helpful or harmful to Britain. “Entirely helpful,” he answered. “I would much rather people make any noise they like, singing and dancing. What I object to is people fighting and stealing. It seems to me that these blokes are helping people to enjoy themselves.”

Thank you, Prince Philip, for sagely illuminating the fundamental ground rules of community fellowship in bespoke salty wry humor. I appreciate the Windsors’ clear eyed pragmatism. (Happy 95th Birthday, HRH Queen Elizabeth II!) They do inspire me to keep calm and carry on. And certainly share a bit of mirth along the way.

That’s mostly what has been going on during our Covid Quarantine year: a pod of people and a glare of cats living joyously together making a bunch of noise singing and dancing, and only rarely fighting or stealing. I’m grateful for everyone who has sustained us during Covid Quarantine in our bubble. We are looking forward to hopefully being able to pop the bubble soon! Ultimately each and every day has been a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you.

Sweet Peas

Both the kids love frozen peas.

“Peas, please,” is a common refrain around here. Lake delightfully took note “Peas and please rhyme!” as he asked for yet another serving.

I didn’t directly understand the appeal, so I embarked on an investigation. First I asked Lady Kitty.

“Why do you like the peas so much, Lady Kitty?”

“Huh,” she said. Then she laughed and cooed.

“Does it feel good to chomp down on frozen peas where you are teething?”

She smiled with all her eight teeth showing.

That’s right, it Must feel good to cool those erupting gums. Next I tried to find out some more information from Lake.

“I like to be cold,” he said.

I pressed further.

“When you chew them, their juice turns sweet in your mouth,” he said.

Pea juice, now why isn’t that more popular? Or frozen pea smoothies? Has anyone tried that? Let us know if you have any favorite recipes to share. In the meantime these kids are most satisfied with helping after helping straight out of the bag.

My sweetpeas.
PC Chamonix Browne, The Happy Film Company

I love my sweet peas and they love their frozen peas! A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you!