Easter Greetings

“Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” said Jamma Julie to Lake.

“The egg,” he said without a moment of doubt.

“Well, I’m glad we finally got that sorted,” said Julie.

“Thank you for bringing the fun and joy, Jamma Julie!

“Come every Sunday! We’ll be covered with mud! We’ll be covered in pitch. We’ll be covered with cake—head to toe, we’ll be covered with cake. We’ll find the taste of candy in the air!”

Lake exuberantly invited Julie back to join us for weekly Sunday dinner. Does he think then there will be an accompanying egg hunt laden with treats? Or is the fun and joy of being all together what he’s craving to repeat? Or perhaps it’s simply time for resuming our pre-pandemic routines — maybe Lake is remembering what I barely can, that more than a year, and a lifetime ago Julie came on Sundays for dinner. What a lovely tradition.

May every Sunday have the Easter Sunday feeling. We rejoice in the rebirth of Spring, hope, faith and love. From our family to yours, sending Easter greetings!

Lake takes his Easter Egg hunt very seriously. He had utmost faith that the Easter Bunny (As tall as you Mama. Walks on his hind legs. With a backpack. All geared up. Gorgeous colors—pink, purple, blue, yeah, with spots all over. Dots yeah…) would have visited early Easter morning.
Lake and Tolle made a Vanilla Almond Easter Cake for afternoon tea with Jamma Julie
Hidden gems in Pritchard Island Beach Park
Lady Kitty finds her first egg hidden in the boxwood hedges.

Mumsy

Photography by Chamonix Browne, The Happy Film Company 2021
PC Chamonix, 2021
PC Chamonix 2021

Covid has gifted us the opportunity to truly lean-in to parenting. To domesticity. To home life.

When Lake was one year old, my position at work transitioned from being at the hospital five miles away and became based out of an office building a few blocks from our home. What fortune! At the time, I didn’t think things could get any better (or closer!) And then last year whilst on maternity leave with Lady Kitty, the novel coronavirus situation unfolded. The ensuing covid pandemic ultimately allowed for my work position to become available for WFH (work-from-home) accommodation. It’s been such a welcome and unexpected blessing, and has allowed me to support my devotion to both work and breastfeeding seamlessly.

These months my office, for better or for worse, has been a tiny closet (with a window) located off the living/dining room at the hub of our home. Michael calls it the grand central station of the house, allowing me to be immersed in my work and my children at the same time. Although it is not without the accompanying feelings of the working-mother guilt, am I focusing enough on my work? Am I focusing enough on my children? Yes, with Madeline on board as our au pair, I am present for both. Overall it is absolutely an agreeable situation—the major silver lining of an unfortunate global event.

Everyday these days is a perfect day to be mumsy!

April Fools!

Lady Kitty contemplates downclimbing a few days earlier.

The joke was on me this April 1st. My kids woke up at the crack of dawn and were wide awake. Usually I can cajole and convince them it’s still nighttime anytime before 7:30 am when our au pair Madeline starts her shift. This was not the case for April Fools. Lady Kitty had woken up early, and with her she brought Lake. And Lake was feeling fresh and chatty.

Often Lady Kitty sleeps straight through the night. They both do. Sometimes, (a few nights a week? it’s not a huge deal and comes with its own pleasantries) Lady Kitty will wake up for a night milk, or as more often is the case, an early early morning feed around 5 am. Then she’ll happily return to her peaceful baby slumber while I slip off to work. Lake typically will have remained alseep the whole time, none the wiser. This was not to happen on April 1st. April 1st was not to be a typical day.

After feeding Lady Kitty and tucking her in, thinking she would be utterly content, Lake hollered alarm bells to me. “Tolle! Tolle, Lady Kitty is out of bed!” Lady Kitty had indeed crawled right out of her bed, and as I returned to the scene, she dodged me. She zoomed underneath my feet and went straight for the stairs. She navigated her crawl purposefully over the baby gate without missing a beat. She paused to look over the edge. She had sometimes sat at the top of the stairs as if gazing down into the canyon from the rim, but never before had she attempted downclimbing. Today was different. After a short caluculating apprasial, she scooted herself around to where her backside was in the air, and began feeling her way down the stairs, feet exploring the way like antennae.

By the close of day, she was scooting up and down the stairs nonstop, even with favored objects in hand such as her calculator. Clack, thump, thump, slap. Clack, thump thump slap. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, full of confidence. The type of confidence that’s earned through the reward of having taken of a well calculated risk fueled by curiosity.

Focussed on the task at hand.

They both took monsterous naps later and the joke was all on me. What can I say? A perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you.

Soccer Mom

The dawning of a new era

Two days ago a neighbor with two boys around Lake’s age invited Lake to join a soccer team they were starting up for Tuesday’s at Tom Park. I asked him and he was 100% positive on the idea. I was pleased in a proud way, with not a touch of resentment about sliding over in to soccer mom territory. Something I swore I’d never do. I immediately RSPV’d yes for Lake.

Yesterday Lake started getting cold feet about starting something new. He was adamant soccer was not his cup of tea. He only meant to watch. Mind you, he really had never played soccer or any sport and couldn’t have a very strong idea of what it would be like since none of us knew. It was in the process of organically evolving. I tried to keep a non-committal and inquiring tone to flush out his concerns. Michael and I and Madeline all talked with him about soccer, sports, and trying new things.

Today he began warming to the idea, until his excitement reached a feverish pitch. The time could not come soon enough for us to pack up Lady Kitty in the Ergo Baby and walk over to the park. He raced down the sidewalk toward the play field, ebullient to all we met along the way. At 18:30 he jumped right in with both feet to his first season of soccer practice. “No,” he said, “not practice… I’m doing it.”

And he did. Ran, slipped and slid, kicked that ball, and listened up to the coaches, Ben and Beckem. One hour of standing on the sidelines feeding Lady Kitty and chatting with the other parents later the sun had set, it was getting cold and most of the kids had lost at least one shoe in the mud… “How was soccer, Lake?” I asked. “Pretty good,” he said. “And very exercizy.”

He kept his white shorts clean but everything else was covered in sandy mud. Into the bath he went and we sped as quickly as possible toward the hot dinner Madeline had waiting (bless her heart).

“How was it Lake?” said Madeline. “Great,” he enthused between bites of roasted potato. “I’m certainly going back next week.”

We’re proud of you son, not just for the goals you’ve made, but for putting yourself out there to try something new. As he observed if he stayed home and played, he would be the fastest and he could always win. To play with others meant he would not necessarily be the fastest and would likely sometimes lose. And somewhere in there he made his own choice to play on the team.

And that, friends, makes me a soccer mom. Quite pleasant actually. Even Lady Kitty had a splendid time, waving and socializing in the fresh air, intermittently cheering Lake on.

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

Sakura Season

Sakura season is upon us once more. The annual bursting of blossoms is a much anticipated and refreshing event. March gives way to April, shedding the vestiges of winter with a flurry of cherry blossom snow. Each year we pause to celebrate nature together and reflect, stunned by the scale of the ephemeral beauty surrounding us. This year it has been made even more precious (if that’s possible) for the overall rarity of grand celebrations. And grand it is! Thank you for joining us on out seasonal cherry blossom romp. This Spring we’re really stepping between the rain drops!

Our annual family walk about through the UW Quad
And home again!
Our littlest cherry blossom 🌸

A perfect Spring day for marking sakura season. I’m glad I spent it with you!

Spring has sprung!

Cherries are blossoming, bulbs are emerging and days are thankfully lengthening—Spring has sprung in Seattle! And with it brought a little surprise visit from Uncle Peter Jakin!

Big smiles!

Uncle Peter Jakin came bearing gifts… Auntie Denise hand knit 🧶 a little red dress and white stockings for Lady Kitty. Lady Kitty adores her new upcycled outfit. Lake adored having his uncle around for a morning of playtime. Thank you for visiting on this rainy Spring day! A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Siblings

January 2021
April 1985

Here are Lady Kitty and Lake are twinning with Kendra and Michael when they were the same age: 1 and 4.5, respectively. Lady Kitty and Kendra are clearly pleased to be in the company of their big brothers, and are also rocking the same birthday dress. Another thing Lady Kitty has in common with her Auntie Kendra: having her first word be “ball”… it might have been a fluke hearing Lady Kitty say “ball” and point to her birthday balloon a few days before her first birthday, except that the experience continues to repeat itself. And the story goes, according to Jamma Julie, that Kendra’s first word was “ball!” as she lunged at her big brother Michael who was holding a ball. Kendra went on to be six feet tall, excel at volleyball and eventually coach at the high school level in Ketchikan. Meanwhile, Lady Kitty is about two feet tall, climbed three flights of stairs today when she first took to stairclimbing, and is simply having a ball.

Stairclimber

While Lady Kitty astounds us with her “boww” and other priceless vocalizations, eg: “Is that a dinosaur in our living room?” Lake is at the perfect age to delight us with his creative phrasing. I’m amazed at both the magnitude of my enjoyment of his worldly observations, as well as their ephemerality. One minute I’m howling with laughter, and a few minutes later, I cannot recall what he said. So, I’ve taken to grabbing a pen post haste, to be able to share a few gems with you.

Luckily, also, our friend Clarence has a keen ear and a strong memory, so it’s great to eavesdrop on their conversations by way of him texting me later.

For example Clarence shared, “Oh, I forgot from yesterday when the three of us first ventured to “Spinning Chair” Park.

Lake said: “You know what? When I grow up I’m going to be an Acrobat!”

Clarence: “You are? And why is that?”

Lake: “Because I am balanced!””

A perfect 7.0

The day before when I’d walked down to Spinning Chair Park with Lake and Lady Kitty, Lake said:

“Those four leaves were like jogging. The wind was making them jog. And they were like jog. Jog. Jog.”

And then remembering an amazing video clip Michael shared with us earlier, he said, “Keyboard cat is so skillful with instruments. I wonder if he can play the how do you say it? Di’kar? [guitar] or the harmoniker? Harmoniker cat!” He laughs at his own wit. I join in; I’m having an absolute ball.

I’m thankful every day for your entertaining comedy during this ongoing global pandemic and with limited external socializing, I’m especially glad you have each other to grow up together with. A perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you two siblings.

Rainy Day Zoo

Is it worth it? Going to the zoo on a cold rainy day in the dead of winter wearing a mask, wearing a baby and trying to reason with a four year old? You may have also found yourself asking this question. On a day much like today’s cold blustery day, I certainly was.

On the short drive to the Woodland Park Zoo, after a full-on melt down had subsided, Lake proclaimed he is going to be a zookeeper when he grows up. Not a veterinarian, a zookeeper. So I promised we’d ask about their volunteer program when we arrive. They accept applications in January and the minimum age is 16. We filed that information away in our minds for future reference. In the meantime Lake has eleven years of practice on our own in-house petting zoo (comprised of Mr. Cat, Mr. Silky and Missy) to focus on.

Even on the coldest, darkest, rainiest days, the zoo never fails to reveal at least a few unexpected gems. The reward for our effort comes during that surprise moment an animal connects with us. An acknowledging nod by the orangutan to Lady Kitty. A hippopotamus yawning, the gaping jaws opening wider and wider like a cobra, Lady Kitty waving goodbye to the Malayan tiger.

31 January 2021

Finally, there is the sweet confidence that comes from executing a planned adventure. Even as a pre-schooler, Lake is rich (and gaining) in self-awareness: “We made the zoo happen,” he said afterwards, with confidence and a measure of pride. There’s a capable kid that will be able to take himeself and his kids through the cold rainsorms of life. So in short, yes, it’s worth it.

A perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you, Lake and Lady Kitty. We made the zoo happen.

Littlest Valentine

Our littlest Valentine is almost one year old! She’s fully engaged with growing up and her participation is absolutely endearing. She surprised us with the cut of a new tooth on the bottom left, after nary a fuss. She’s cruising around proficiently. She converses back and forth with you using the prettiest little grunts. She giggles and shares.

Most of all, Lady Kitty loves to smile and wave! One hand or two, her joyous waving of hello, goodbye, and all those moments in between is gorgeous and totally heart-melting.

Big brother Lake is melting hearts and growing up, as well. Tonight he popped into the kitchen to proudly show us that he had successfully gained his pajamas. I was washing up and drinking hot chocolate while Madeline dried and made herself a coffee. We pleasantly chatted. There must have been a slight scent of sweetness in the air as we performed our tasks and pleasantly chatted. Lake burst into the scene, instantly catching the mood, and dared himself a brief glimmered hope among his heavy wager of doubt.

“Is there dessert?” Lake said.

A pregnant pause ensued as my internal struggle with prudence and compassion duke it out. Into that space Lake’s matter of fact reason swelled. His hopes were dashed back from whence they had come as quickly as they were born.

“The answer is probably no, right?” I let my breath out, and with it evaporated the half formed words of a little hot chocolate with his name on it. He had let me off the hook, and handily parented himself. “That’s right, honey, no dessert. It’s bedtime.” I couldn’t help feeling proud of my sensible child, as he went on his merry, if not slightly resigned, way.

We hope you enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s. We love love! A perfect day—I’m glad I spent it with you!

Lady Kitty and the Big Snow

Seattle has a tradition these past three years of saving up the annual snowfall for a Big Snow in February. As Lady Kitty concludes her first year, she experienced her first really big snow. It had dusted a bit prior to Christmas which was really quite lovely. And then this weekend—President’s Day weekend—we were graced with absolutely heaps of snow. We had a pop-up piste out our front door. Ski-in/ski-out was delivered express to our doorstep.

The whole city turned out in support of winter sport. We walked everywhere as much as our feet could carry us, taking in the sights: legions of snowmen rolled up overnight, snowboarders caught air at Greenlake, and cross-country skiers swooshed to and fro going about their business.

I spoke with Lake at NanaBaba’s who said, “I didn’t know there was snow in Seattle too!” Yup, loads of snow Lake! Nearly a whole foot! The cats didn’t know what to make of it. Mr. Silky comically walked outside like the snow was on fire. Mr. Cat went in and out a lot.

Mr. Cat couldn’t decide …return indoors
Or remain outside

Lady Kitty bundled up to keep cozy warm and took it all in stride.

A perfectly snowy weekend, I’m glad I spent it with you.