Silly Sibs

Lake and Lady Kitty are both saying funny things every day, and I’m not able to really record them adequately. I can hardly remember the beginning of the sentence by the time they’re at the end. Their quotes and quips are completely unexpected and hilarious. I’ll try to share a few with you; they’re not perfect quotes, but close.

Lady Kitty: “you Funny Girl, tiny little Mama”

Then she continues with her more common refrain about how she’s tiny. “Mama you’re big. I’m tiny. Mama you have big arms. I have tiny arms. I have tiny legs. I’m tiny.”

Lake: “I had a growth spurt in the night! I was like: Why is the bunk bed this much shorter?! Oh, I had a growth spurt in the night!”

Lake: “at a wedding recently it was a long shot, I was like why are all these people with red hair. Oh! They’re all my cousins!“

Lake: “oh my ducking god. I mean. Oh my ducking goodness.”

Lake: “I like Greece! They believe in God a lot. They believe in Gods a lot.”

Lady Kitty wanted to sleep under the sleeping bag when we were camping. I was trying to reason with her to get inside the sleeping bag we three were going to share, worried I’d squish her if she was sleeping in the middle between us and under the sleeping bag instead of inside it. “Don’t worry Mama, it’s fine. I’m fine.”

Lady Kitty: this is my pack-kak [backpack]…

What’s your favorite food Lady Kitty? “I like pink. I like pink and I like wuwul (purple)…”

“I like ‘peetos’…” She laughs at her pronunciation of tomatoes. “I say ‘peetos’… [more laughter] I like ‘peetos’ Mama!”

Lady Kitty: “I want more wuguck [yogurt] Mama, pleece.”  

And potty humor never fails to make these two enjoy themselves and lighten the mood… “Are you poopy, moms?“ Lady Kitty said, and found this hilarious, especially the more she said it and to her great delight kept calling me “moms” and laughing more.

Lady Kitty to Mama after Lady Kitty hit Lake and was being held accountable asking her to apologize to her brother. “Will you “sorry” with Bro Bro?”

“You do it.” she likes to say.

Lady Kitty to Michael at tuck-in: “Is your bed cozy, Dada? My bed is cozy.”

We are so glad you have a cozy bed, have fun, and have each other, you silly sibs. We love you both so much!

First Day of First Grade

Today was the first official day of First Grade for Lake. We saw him off on the yellow school bus in the morning, and he piled out of the bus a little more than seven hours later, tired and covered with orange felt pen. After a quick snack and hearing a few highlights such as coloring his bear at school, we said a hurried goodbye to Jo and Martin. It’s been really special to have Lake’s first au pair back to visit us.

We hurried off as Lake had a pressing engagement. Today he did a spot of acting in his first film. I think he found it strange compared to putting on shows on the beach or in the living room especially because he wasn’t the director this time! In this instance he took a lot of direction and repeated the scenes for many “takes.”

Our neighbor is a documentary filmmaker and she had scouted him. She successfully enticed him to participate with the promise of cookies. Lake grew regretful of his earlier enthusiasm as he started to get cold feet walking over after school. By the end, though, Lake was thoroughly warmed up (mostly from running back and forth down the boulevard aiming for that perfect shot) and started to appreciate the artistic process.

I taught belly breathing at bedtime, a self-soothing technique. He liked it but soon tired of lying in one position and wanted to listen to Tara Brach to go to sleep. So that we did. Well done, Lake! You worked hard today. A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Mt. Rainier 2022

The VanLaanens have a Summer camping tradition at Silver Springs. It’s not much in terms of ambitious mountaineering or taking the kids into the backcountry but it’s something of a start hopefully, and we’ve kept it up over most of the years of our marriage and family life. This particular National Forest Campground is located near Crystal Mountain Ski Resort serving as the perfect springboard to explore both the Paradise and Sunrise areas of Mt. Rainier National Park. We love to take our au pairs there as our big annual family camping holiday. They’re more accustomed to family holidays at the coast of Egypt or Croatia or Italy, but we take them to Silver Springs in our “tiny” “Auto” —as Lady Kitty and Lake would say, respectively.

This year, it was super special to introduce our new au pair, Linnéa from Sweden, to our beautiful nature and majestic peak so soon after her arrival in our country and our home, as well as to revisit our camping tradition with our first au pair Jo who was back for a visit with her Dutch-German longtime boyfriend Martin. She could introduce him as well, and we reminisced about our first camping expedition with Jo, Doreen and Baby Lake. It’s a bit of a christening into the VanLaanen family and the Pacific Northwest.

This year we rented a van to drive in addition to our tiny Auto to more comfortably accommodate our growing “family.” We camped two nights in our three tents. We had nearly enough sleeping gear to spread around among everyone. During the day we all piled in and drove to Paradise and back and from Sunrise to sunset. It was a wonderful experience. I think it’s safe to say fun was had by all.

Our happy troupe at Frozen Lake — above Sunrise
The Strong Women of the Skyline Trail— Paradise
These characters — this is what tent camping for two nights does to Michael’s hair!

Runaway Flower Girl

When my pulchritudinous and highly accomplished second-cousin-once removed announced her save the date for the post-covid ceremony of her to her lovely Romanian husband, I may have stepped in and volunteered Lady Kitty to serve as their flower girl. In spite of the distance of our direct relation, I have been quite close to her family over the years. Her little sister served as flower girl in my previous wedding. So, I was thrilled for Lady Kitty when the couple agreed they would love to have Lady Kitty as their flower girl for their beach-chic wedding at the historic Golden Gardens Beach Bathhouse.

As the time drew nearer, I came to realize the folly in my thinking. It became apparent that Lady Kitty is actually a bit too young to perform solo or semi-solo in front of a crowd. We made some last ditch efforts to introduce her to the wedding party and to the entire concept of flower throwing. Michael and the bride’s good friend “MJ” gave heroic cameos in the flower girl training school. Alas, Lady Kitty walking by herself tossing flower petals from a flower basket was not meant to be. Due, however, to the graciousness of my cousin the bride, we pulled off a successful showering of preciousness to make way for the beautiful bride and her parents. (I walked along with them carrying Lady Kitty wearing her baby’s breath crown that she tore off at the last minute.)

What a lovely celebration! We wish the newlyweds all the best in their life together! And such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you! Professional photographers were present at the wedding, so perhaps additional photos to follow. In the meantime enjoy some royal cuteness!

Top of the World

After a wonderful summer of auntie, uncle, cousin and grandparents’ love, the kids are back in residence! Queue soundtrack…

Top Of The World (1973 Remix)CarpentersFrom the album Love Songs

Such a feelin’s comin’ over me 

There is wonder in ‘most every thing I see

Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes

And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Everything I want the world to be

Is now comin’ true especially for me

And the reason is clear, it’s because you are here

You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around

Your love’s put me at the top of the world

Somethin’ in the wind has learned my name

And it’s tellin’ me that things are not the same

In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze

There’s a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind

When this day is through I hope that I will find

That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me

All I need will be mine if you are here

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around

Your love’s put me at the top of the world

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around

Your love’s put me at the top of the world


📸 Emily Hogan

County Fair

Siblings at the fair! Precious to see Lake’s arm around Lady Kitty on the roller coaster! Summer fun times with Nana and Baba are coming to a close today. We can’t thank Nana and Baba enough for the gift of all these perfect days and memorable experiences together. ❤️


Camp NanaBaba also included as a finalé… a Robin Hood production. Lake made his own guitar and ran back and forth through Nottingham Forest beachfront. Nana played the ocarina from the attic along with the hats and cape. Nana reported, “The kids looked so great.” As an addendum, Lake did a Robin Hood archery show and shot both arrows about 25’. Great work thespians! Bravo! Bravo!

A Perfect Summer

Coming into the final week of NanaBaba Summer Camp at the Lake. Has this Summer whizzed by for you too? A review of some of their fun exploits with photos by Nana. A perfect Summer at the Lake with lots of cousin time and full of NanaBaba activities… it’s all that Lake hoped for. And Lady Kitty was along for the ride… and to beginning to learn how to swim! Well done team, all around!

Summertime Siblings

Summertime sibling fun 📷 Nana

It really doesn’t get more Summertime siblings than this photo by Nana. Due to the extreme graciousness and seemingly boundless energy of NanaBaba, the kids get to enjoy a Summer of freedom at the lake place. This is their dream as well as a lifetime dream of mine especially to have my daughter spend her Summer there at the age of two. I was also two when my older brother and I spent a month at the lake cabin alone with our grandparents for the first time. It became a annual tradition for the next 13 years and built many warm memories, and remains my happy place.

There’s nothing quite like the love between grandparents and grandchildren. ❤️

Many many thanks to Lynn and Duane for carrying the tradition torch and hosting Lake and Lady Kitty for their best Summer experience! So special!