Princess Power(s)

Lake is in his second week of Kindergarten. He says, “it’s not my First Day at this rodeo.” Lake has his Sun Powers and he has all the powers (when pressed to elaborate that includes: lighting powers, rock powers, shoe powers, and of course the strongest powers: gun powers). He has all the powers except the “dark powers “ which were stolen by George. I was asking him about the peace powers and the love powers. They are the actually the strongest powers I assured him.

For me, I also have my Princess Powers.

A small quarantine hobby turned into a slight obsession. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge is my style icon. She projects poise, polish, and portrays steadiness of character and love and all the while elegance, cheer, and good humor.

Many call it Copy Kate, or Copy Catherine. For me Duchess dressing adds a touch of glamor and sophistication to the sometimes doldrums of adulting. https://katemiddletonstyle.org/london-covid19/

When faced with an impossible day, I try to invoke my inner duchess to face the challenges with grace, or quite literally don an outfit that the princess wore. There’s nothing like wearing a princess outfit to help me feel up to the challenge. My husband likes to remind me that she is a millionaire and we are not, however she aims to stay relatable and therefore as a parent, I have the feeling she manages many of the same trials as I do. Aiming to weave in the five elements of successful early years parenting as championed by HRH, (take time for yourself, teach your kids to give back, bond with other mums, spend time in nature, lean on family),

a perfect day to invoke Princess Powers might look like this:

Work

Feed Lady Kitty when she wakes up

Work

Take Lake to meet carpenter contractor at condo for plumbing repairs

Take Lake to say goodbye —sold!—to the apartment we lived in when he was born.

Drop Lake off at Kindergarten

Home to meet electrical contractor

Work

Pick up Lake from Kindergarten

Share a quick lunch/snack with my son and hear his impressions from his first school days.

Clean Airbnb Apartment

Work

Walk to the the Park with the kids after work to hang out with the neighbors

Dress Family in freshly ironed Outfits

Meet Photographer at Lake’s Kindergarten for Golden Hour Back to School Photos

Smoothies for dinner

Bed! —Whew!

📷 Chamonix Browne – The Happy Film Company

A perfect day… I’m glad I spent it with you!

Sun Power(s)

Madeline has a quick sense of humor and to all our benefit she uses it advantageously to negotiate with Lake. She wanted to put the sunscreen on Lake and he was trying to argue his way out of it. (He said it was not hot outside.) She said even though it was not hot out, the UV rays are still present and what we’re protecting your face from. From the “Sun Power,” she said. “You forgot the ‘ers’,” he said. “It’s ‘Sun Powers!'” he corrected. She had him in her thrall. Sun Powers are something Lake invented as the strongest super hero powers in the world. He assiduously applied his sunscreen.

I was laughing so hard!

Friday Lake was dawdling over his dinner. In all fairness I had aided him in spoiling his appetite with a snack of peanut butter and blueberry jam waffle (his choice) before dinner. He was visibly worn out and famished when he woke up from his after school nap. He has a cold and just completed two full days of Kindergarten. So I capitulated and let him have his chosen pre-dinner breakfast snack but then later during dinner as energy levels waned I thought I’d poke him a little to see if I could motivate him.

I said, “Oh my! I see I finished all my dinner, I think I’ll try one of those new cookies!”

He told me I was boasting. I paused to consider that one. I agreed I was a bit and apologized. It’s not very nice manners to boast, I agreed, but that I was teasing him a little and it was meant all in good fun. He finished his dinner. Come to think of it, we forgot all about the cookies we were so tired!

Our superhero with Sun Powers and sunscreen protected from the sun’s power!

Lake is five. This beloved ABBA song reflects our mixed feelings about Lake’s milestone of matriculating elementary school this week (substituting pronouns):

Schoolbag in hand

She leaves home in the early morning

Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness

And I have to sit down for a while

The feeling that I’m losing her forever

And without really entering her world

I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter

That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time

I try to capture every minute

The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Do I really see what’s in her mind

Each time I think I’m close to knowing

She keeps on growing

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table

Barely awake, I let precious time go by

Then when she’s gone there’s that odd melancholy feeling

And a sense of guilt I can’t deny

What happened to the wonderful adventures

The places I had planned for us to go

(Slipping through my fingers all the time)

Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t

And why I just don’t know

Slipping through my fingers all the time

I try to capture every minute

The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Do I really see what’s in her mind

Each time I think I’m close to knowing

She keeps on growing

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture

And save it from the funny tricks of time

Slipping through my fingers

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning

Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

SONGWRITERS: BENNY GORAN BROR ANDERSSON, BJOERN K. ULVAEUS

School Readiness

vanlaanen-family-chamonix-films-0001

 

Lake is ready! Activate: School Readiness! School Readiness is complete! School starts tomorrow!

Lake’s preschool years were predominately defined by free play at home and the local parks with our German au pairs, and big trips to Nana and Baba’s. Lake got a taste of the classroom with Saturday morning Kindergarten at the German Language School and swim lessons as a 3-4 year old, as well as Music Together, the 50 minute weekly class he attended with his au pairs from age 7 months through the beginning of the pandemic. Those were our concessions to our preschooler’s group learning. Michael and I wanted him to have as much of a chance as possible to be a kid and explore the world in his own way.

At the beginning of the summer, Lake procured scissors from the kitchen and proceeded to open his own birthday packages. Inside were Legos that he then endeavored to put together by himself, following the “constructions”. He managed it all on his own. That confirmed for me that he would be able to join the Kindergarten class in the autumn just fine.

When I was a young tot of four years, my family famously had me choose between Preschool and Dance Class. Since I was already adept at using scissors and had taught myself to read, I was supported in my choice to skip preschool and to attend weekly ballet and tap dance classes instead. As a result I gained a memorable year with my dad as his “little partner” after my mom went back to work teaching. I followed my Dad around our compound as he worked on projects, and would get dressed up in my pink Strawberry Shortcake outfit to join him in going to “town” for groceries and errands. That year was so special and helped forge a strong and lasting bond between my dad and me.

The freedom of Lake’s preschool years have similarly allowed Lake to spend heaps of time with my parents, his grandparents. They have a wonderfully close relationship and get on famously. Lake just wrapped up more than two months with Nana and Baba this summer at their lake cabin. We are filled with gratitude as they enact what amounts to personalized and private Outdoor School/Summer Camp for Lake- daily reading, playing on the beach, building trails and forts (“shanty”), as well as going to outdoor theatre, and practicing his letters and numbers with Nana. He relishes the one-on-one love-filled time with his grandparents and comes home an inch taller and bursting with new skills and confidence. “I can make ‘breastfast’ myself. I learned how this summer. I just need a bowl. I can pour the milk and everything.”

You can be proud of yourself, Lake! You did it! You’re all set for Kindergarten. Ready, Set, Go!

 

Lady Kitty is following in Lake’s footsteps; PC Chamonix Browne, The Happy Film Company

Mei Mei

Lady Kitty started saying Mei Mei incessantly this past weekend while we were visiting Nana and Baba. She would point and say “Mei Mei” if it was something she wanted. Nana decoded that she was staking claim, as well as referring to herself as Mei Mei and the name stuck. We all started calling Lady Kitty “Mei Mei.” I couldn’t help it, the name is contagious.

“Mei Mei” PC Chamonix Browne

She knows what she wants. (“Mei Mei”). She knows what she doesn’t want. (And she lets us know too by having a huge, short but definitive, bucking bronco fit.) She’s walking and waving and saying a sweet breathy “hi” to all animals she sees. “Hi” to the ducks, dogs, cats, deer, even our neighbor’s plastic swans. Lady Kitty comes up to us now as well, and says her charming honeyed “hi” with a smile and a wave. Hearts melt. A perfect day, we’re all glad we spent it with you!

Return of Lake—revisit Hazel Blue Acres

Lake’s back home! We picked Lake up from the airport on Sunday after he had spent 7 weeks with his Nana and Baba. It was a thrilling reunion at the airport complete with megawatt smiles and theatrical but authentic rushing into each other’s arms. Lake was patched for Mama snugs. At one point after Lady Kitty had a fall, Lake even went so far as to say he wished he’d been the one to fall down and bump his head rather than Lady Kitty.

“Yes,” I agreed, waxing philosophical, “when we love, we would rather take the suffering of another so they can be free.”

“No,” he countered, “I wish I was the one who had fallen, not Lady Kitty, so I could be the one getting Mama snugs right now.”

We went straight out to the organic blueberry farm, much to Lakes dismay. He really was so anxious to be home. We picked more than 10 kilograms of berries to fill and restock our freezer. The ones we’d picked three weeks ago were already eaten!

Lady Kitty is a strong berry picker filling up her bucket! Lake is the one who likes to eat out of my bucket. Both kiddos found a way to walk on the bags of picked berries, so we ended up making a bath of blueberry syrup when we got home.

Now we’ll have blueberries for breakfast before school. That’s right, spoiler alert: Lake’s starting Kindergarten! He came home last weekend for the Kindergarten orientation. He had two days of Kindergarten Jump Start, just enough to get a taste of what’s to come. Initially he was excited, then he was nervous just prior, then after the first day, he didn’t even look back when I said goodbye after dropping him off at Laurelhurst Elementary. He was looking brightly ahead towards the commencement of his scholastic education.

Stay cool! Stay hydrated!

Grass may not be, but Lady Kitty certainly is hydrated! Keeping cool with Mama
Keeping cool with Clarence
Staying hydrated!

Lady Kitty is leadings the family in hydration during these 90F Seattle days. She absolutely loves to drink water. She drinks it it the bath, she drinks it on the go. It goes right through her… leading to a super soggy bottom. It’s funny just how quickly her diaper gets utterly soaked: it’s practically instantaneous. Since she is always drinking here, there, and everywhere —we have to increase our diaper count with our Baby Diaper Service account!

We hope you’re staying cool and hydrated too! Enjoy these hot summer days— it will be dark and rainy again soon enough. A perfect day… I’m glad I spent it with you!

Glamping Girl

Big smiles in the tent
Couldn’t get enough of the wagon rides

Michael was working, and Lake is with Nana and Baba, so Lady Kitty and I were the sole Murphy-VanLannen representatives who went north to the hills of Lake Whatcom to do a little weekend glamping with old friends for the quasi-annual Quinault “Family” Reunion. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces convening in the great outdoors for friendship, connection and laughter. Old friendships such as these are a treasure. Many of the Quinault Family (friends and USDA Forest Service coworkers of my parents) met me when I was about Lady Kitty’s age. Now the Quinault “grand-kids” are playing together! Lady Kitty is such a good sport. She was happy to warm up to the friendly crowd, and waved goodnight to each and every one around the fire circle -twice. She slept “like a baby” in the tent all the night through. It was gorgeous to wake up to her sleeping peacefully next to me, all cuddled up.

Saturday she learned how to communicate the negative. She has been able to reliably grunt assent for a while now and we appreciated her ability to convey her wishes. Now we can be even more certain of her desires, because if she means no, now she will shake her head no. This is a big step forward in clear communication, and possibly the end of all the sweetness. For now, though, she retains her sweetness and simply replies affirmative (grunt) or negative (head shake) as she prefers.

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

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!