Monthly Archives: August 2011

camping with dad

i guess the only pic i took of the scenery was in the background of this plant

The kids, the dog and I went to Orcas Island for our last trip of the summer. We met up with our good friend Steve D’Amico and daughter Olivia and camped out at Doe Bay.

This trip was a necessary trip. Last month I took the kids on a spontaneous camping trip that sucked. It was a mile long uphill hike where I forgot the sleeping bags and water. We ate lucky charms and drank 7 up and slept under a shared blanket and the tent’s rain fly (until it started raining.) Both Abby and Zach told me they never wanted to go camping again. But after some bargaining, they decided to give me one more chance.

The Doe Bay Resort is a fascinating place. It’s kind of like a commune with short term residents. Yurts and tiny cabins and tents. An organic garden that feeds the restaurant guests. A community fire pit and (gasp!) clothing optional hot tubs. It was a unique experience and we had a blast.

We played a lot of Yahtzee and Farkle, and collected a bunch of rocks. The kids wandered around with newly made friends, Stevie D and I kicked it, and I spent lots of time (all of it, really) sharing a leash with our dog Roger. Any time I tried to leave him in the car or at camp, he yipped away the surrounding serenity. But that was nothing really.  Our first morning there, at 730am, Abby went to the car to get Roger’s leash and accidentally hit the panic button. Since we were staying in a “natural amphitheater,” the sound bounced and echoed throughout the bay. I had to run across the gravel road, half dressed and in bare feet, to help Abby turn it off. Ahh good times.

Stevie D rockin' the bay

TOO MANY PICS! I've earned the nickname papa razzi

It’s been a wild summer, full of great things and tragedies. It’s so nice to have such awesome people to be with through it all.

Zach and new friend Sten landed some serious jumps!

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For Nana Lydia

Pusch Ridge is at the highest point on that there mountain.

We are down in Tucson Arizona right now, celebrating the life of my mother in law who died unexpectedly last month. As we had done with her husband 10 years earlier, we set out on a hike to spread her ashes on the peak of Pusch Ridge. One big difference was that last time it was on a pleasant spring day in May. This time we were pretty much in a sizzling frying pan. Another big difference? 10 years of chasing nana’s grandkids around!

So four 40+ year olds headed off on a hike that climbed to a mile high peak. It was a 2600 foot elevation gain in a steep and short 2 miles. The beautiful views were well earned, with pokey cactuses (cacti), and temperatures over 100 degrees, and tricky loose rock sections and questionable footing. Way down below at the house, we had a telescope all set up so the kids could see us at the top of the summit. Amazingly, nobody bumped it and it actually worked.

the temp hit 111 degrees fahrenheit on the day of the hike. (this thermometer is in the shade.)

The temperature that day hit 111 degrees Fahrenheit (this thermometer is in the shade.) We came home exhausted, drank gallons of water and took baths in ice cubes. All worth it for Nana Lydia.

Thank you Lydia for all the beautiful things you put into my life.

the grandsons were stylin' at the memorial service. and Suz gave a beautiful tribute speech about her mom.

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Pearl Island Paradise

Oh Pearl Island, you perfect little place. Every year we take a trip with 3 other families to this tiny island in the San Juan islands off the Washington coast. There is no ferry service. There are no roads. There is no tv or telephone. Even if it didn’t have an amazing view it would have been paradise on those things alone.

Our families have a total of 10 kids, all between the ages of 6 and 10 (9 girls and 1 boy). Our friends the Corley’s own some amazing property on the island. One of the lots has a cabin where we eat our meals. But aside from eating, we’re outside the whole time. Our hosts are a fascinating family, with a legendary history of camping that has been carried on, generation after generation after generation. We stay in meticulously kept canvas tents (30+ years old) on tarp-covered platforms in the woods, about 20 feet from the beach. It really is paradise, fun and awesome and relaxing and fun (and awesome.) It’s totally safe too. The kids can run around on their own for hours and the water is cold enough to discourage deep swimming. The biggest danger they face is a bee sting.

Every year there is a scavenger hunt. The pioneers, or the natives, or the pirate Blue Beard will leave behind all kinds of clues. It is definitely NOT the dads or moms, no matter how much evidence suggests otherwise. The first year’s hunt was about an hour long. This year, it took two days for them to finish. My favorite clue this year had the kids putting kayak paddles end to end for 10 lengths on the sandy shore. They couldn’t believe it when they discovered that 10 lengths was buried in 3 feet of sea water. They complained to their moms that the dads forgot to check the tide charts. They just couldn’t believe  that ancient Indians would do something like this on purpose. So they impatiently waited.

The next morning, after breakfast, the tide was low enough to resume the hunt. A corner of the lock box was sticking up out of the sand, holding the next in a series of clues that had them running up and down the island for hours. They dug up pirate skulls. They found pieces of a home made wooden jigsaw puzzle (on two different islands!). There was a code to crack from the pages of 4 different books, and ultimately there was a trail of jewels that led to a real live treasure dig. They found a treasure chest filled with $1 coins, chocolate coins, and (almost) real jewels!

But my favorite part of the trip was yelling over at the kayak campers on nearby Posey
Island. The first night we yelled “HEY POSEY! We got spirit, yes we do! We got spirit, how about you!?”
And when they didn’t respond, we booed them. All great fun for the kids.

pirates night out

On the last evening there, we tried it one last time. And miraculously, they responded! “Hey Pearl!….” The kids went into a frenzy. I think it blew their minds. I bet every island in the area could hear their laughing and cheering, they were so excited. So cool that the kayakers did that. I’m guessing we’re looking at a very loud new tradition.

This trip is so amazing every year. Here are some pics that almost capture the paradise.

zach earned his rock-skipper badge this year

our little mermaid


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The Best Book I’ve Never Read

Dandelion Wine is my all time favorite book. How good is it? So good that I’ve never even been able to finish it. It’s been 19 years I think since I first picked it up. I’ve never made it past page 50. My current copy is more tattered and loved than pretty much any other book on my shelf.

Ray Bradbury = magic. And Dandelion Wine is profound. He had a blast writing this book and it shows. I love his rhythm- not just with his prose, but with the way he summons the senses and makes me hear the bees and feel the sunshine, and how he can even make my mouth pucker at the taste of imaginary almost-ripe blackberries. When I read it, I want to be a writer too. Immediately. So I put down the book and pick up a pen. I do this year after year and I still halfway believe that someday I will actually finish the book. Honestly though, that could ruin everything. This book is an eternal childhood summer and I don’t want it to end.


(Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is now being made into a movie. I probably won’t see it, but man is it tempting…)


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Soap Suds and F Bombs

Before you read this story, I have to say that Zach is an awesome awesome kid. He is sweet. He is sensitive. He likes to fight like a ninja and spontaneously tackle his friends. Sometimes things get rowdy and out of hand, but that’s not the norm. The story below is NOT a typical day in my life. Just so ya know…

About 10 weeks ago I wrote a post about my 6 year old son Zach learning the F word. Yesterday he let his first one fly. “You big f–k!” Not at me though. He was in a rough house argument with the neighbor boys, his two closest friends.

The next thing i know, the neighbor boys and my daughter are in front of me with huge eyes and dropped jaws.

First, Max. “Zach said the F word.”

Then Tim. “Zach called me the F word.”

Then Abby, nodding fervently. “He did.”

Zach came up the stairs and barely tried to mount a defense. Poor li’l guy. He honestly thought he was going to be grounded forever. I took him upstairs and the idea struck me to wash his mouth out with soap. I’ve never done such a thing. I wasn’t that committed to the idea, but he put up zero resistance. So I put a little on his tongue,  he made a face, I gave him a towel to lick, and he went into his room for a 30 minute time out. That was his punishment. Oh and he doesn’t get dessert for 3 days and had to go over and apologize to the neighbor boys. I was kind of proud of how dadly and responsible I was. I was holding my children accountable.

Then I went on facebook and got my face shot off. well maybe it wasn’t that bad. But what I thought was a funny story to share turned out to be not-so-funny to others. Let’s see. I got booed. Booed! On the first comment! And I was publicly admonished by my mother. And then there were the astounded friends and family who literally could not believe that I could do such a horrible thing.

Not much more to the story except for the thread. In the end, Zach and I both learned the same lesson from opposite sides.  Zach got too dirty, and I got him too clean. Then we both clearly got our messages of significant disapproval. Then we both felt really guilty and decided we don’t want to ever do this again.

(here’s the facebook thread. no pics or names to protect the peeps.)

Derek Munson

A classic parenting rite of passage. Zach just dropped the f bomb and I washed his mouth out with soap. (fyi- liquid soap didn’t achieve the desired result. maybe too much lavender? it took the old fashioned bar to make him cringe.)

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Yesterday at 2:31pm · Privacy: · Like ·

  • Suzanne M., Sam, Maria C. and 4 others like this.


Yesterday at 2:39pm · Like


You’re lying, Derek. You didn’t, really?

Yesterday at 2:50pm · Like


Hot sauce might work better. Good luck!

Yesterday at 2:59pm · Like

Derek Munson (starting to get a little concerned) i did. that’s not child abuse is it

Yesterday at 3:10pm · Like

Derek Munson and i didn’t stick the bar of soap in his mouth or anything. i just put it on his tongue for like 5 seconds till he wanted to spit it out. aw shoot now i feel bad.

Yesterday at 3:13pm · Like


Turning you in Munson

Yesterday at 3:16pm · Like


Wait until he becomes a teenager. You will here it most of the time.

Yesterday at 3:20pm · Unlike · 1 person


I have heard that threat spoken of many times, by many people, but I never knew anyone who carried it out… Til now! Lol! Poor Zach. xo

Yesterday at 3:37pm · Like


I got a bar of dial rubbed IN my teeth…. not abuse

Yesterday at 3:40pm · Like

Derek Munson i just talked to the neighbor lady and she gives her boys liquid soap, and then they have to take a swig of water and swish it around for a minute. made me feel better. 🙂

Yesterday at 4:03pm · Like · 1 person


Derek, if I swear Somehow i still get a little taste of Palmolive in the back corner of my mouth that takes me back and reminds that the f bomb is not appropriate, so it’s a lesson that keeps on giving…

Yesterday at 4:34pm · Like


Sam (owns a spicy barbecue sauce company) DUDE! Soap is not a food product! No matter who or why, it is not meant to come in contact with mucus membranes or be ingested! Hot sauce is a food product, it can produce tears and strong feelings of regret, without the toxic subtances that can be found in soaps!

Yesterday at 5:23pm · Like · 1 person


Lifebuoy – yuck. (A Christmas Story reference)

Yesterday at 5:34pm · Like · 1 person


I have made Lucy suck on a bar of Dove. I even checked with a doctor. It is fine for them. Just don’t use something like Zest.

Yesterday at 6:20pm · Like


(this is my mom’s post- her first scold in what? Like 20 years?) Geez Derek! I think the past three weeks have caught up with you. I’m not a fan of what you did!

Yesterday at 8:31pm · Like


hard core….

Yesterday at 8:40pm · Like


My dad did it to me but since he was the one I learned it from, it was not very effective. Plus he was cussing me out. Good ol’ days…

Yesterday at 8:52pm · Unlike · 1 person


You didn’t REALLY do that, did you?!

Yesterday at 9:49pm · Like

Derek Munson (unabashedly defensive) this torturous incident, along with the one spanking i’ve delivered in my 8 years of parenting, should help cement my reputation as a cruel and ruthless parent. tough love. i am willing to bet that i won’t be hearing the f word for a few years.

Yesterday at 9:49pm · Like

Derek Munson and mom! what the hay? you so don’t want to get into a public discussion about appropriate parental discipline strategies! :p

Yesterday at 9:55pm · Like · 1 person


(my sis) HAHAHAHA. Amen, brotha.

Yesterday at 9:59pm · Like


‎… but you didn’t REALLY do that, did you?!

Yesterday at 10:03pm · Like


Derek -I happen to know you are a great dad and you did the right thing…I remember a certain thing called a wooden spoon and I turned out ok :)…I had great parents and still do…just remember you are the dad!

Yesterday at 10:05pm · Like

Derek Munson (incredulous and tired) for real- do you guys really think the punishment outweighs the crime? my typically very sweet 6 year old boy took a swing at his friend and called him a fuck. “You big fuck!” totally not acceptable! the punishment was immediate and unprecedented as it should be. it was experiential instead of some vague conceptual thing like a time out. sheesh- it wasn’t ajax and a toilet brush. he was actually curious about it. there weren’t any tears. i just told him i had to get the dirty words off his tongue and he was fine with it. i’ve had a harder time getting him to eat his dinner.

Yesterday at 10:10pm · Like · 1 person


The whole concept is so bizarre to me, I can’t wrap my head around it.

Yesterday at 10:37pm · Like


Right on Derek! Probably 4 out of my 5 kids had a bar of soap in their mouths at least once. The dirty words are what does it. It is NOT child abuse (your Dr. confirmed it) But a way to get their attention and discourage that language. I’m behind your actions one hundred percent. I think I’ve told you in a past post, I’d love to be your kid because you play and encourage creativity. A good balance of disapline makes for an excellent dad.

23 hours ago · Like



20 hours ago · Like


Sam  Soap is not the answer, I don’t disagree that a punishment was deserved, but no matter who’s doctor says what, soap is not a food product. Just curious as to the credentials said doctor has and upon what he would base such a statement. “It is fine for them”?!? Better check with the FDA doc!

11 hours ago · Like · 1 person

Derek Munson sam- have you developed a hot sauce for this? i think this would be an awesome and funny product to add to your line! i bet you’d get great national press for it too. instead of mild, medium and hot, you could have bad, very bad, and whatever comes after that. maybe liquid soap flavor. 😉

10 hours ago · Like · 1 person


Sam It could be a money maker, it would definitely get press, bad press and hate mail. I think this is a pretty good idea. Don’t worry Derek, the challenges become even greater as they grow older! I have a 17, 15, 6, and 3 yr old boy.

9 hours ago · Unlike · 1 person


Soap poisoning has been well documented:​ch?v=Ktzt096mlxs

Soap… Poisoning

4 hours ago · Unlike · 1 person ·


Suzanne (my wife) This discussion is incredibly entertaining and worth documenting in the Munson family history . . .must be the first time that derek has ever been accused of being a hard ass.

4 hours ago · Like · 1 person


Where can I get my “DUDE! Soap is not a food product!” T-shirt?

4 hours ago · Unlike · 1 person

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Seafair Weekend in Seattle

the hydros and their drivers


Seafair Weekend! Does it get any better for a boy in Seattle? I think not. As a kid, I remember the window-rattling sneak attacks by the Blue Angels. And the Goodyear Blimp as it occasionally meandered right through our neighborhood. There was a parade, with pirates (were they real?) scary enough to make my big sister cry. And at the center of the whole festival, the hydroplanes. Hydroplanes! Boats that wanted to fly! Those magical machines could churn the waters of Lake Washington with such ferocity that every town in the region could not escape their awesome scream.  And not just down near the lake either, but in distant hilltop neighborhoods,  just like ours.

The kids in my neighborhood, and lots of other neighborhoods too, had a yearly summer tradition. We made our own hydroplanes out of wood. We designed them and cut them with saws and painted them. We hammered extra nails through the bottoms to make big sparks. We took a stretch of kite string and tied one end to the hydro, the other to the back of our bikes. Then we dragged them, jumped them, raced them around the neighborhood.

Now, 33 years later,  Zach and the neighborhood boys are being initiated into this sacred Seafair tradition. Fun stuff!

a little design work in the studio

lots of tweaks!


Zach rockin' the hydro

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clouds on vacation

CHECK IT! A rare moment in the pacific northwest: 10 days of blistering heat, without a cloud in the sky.

(today’s headline is inspired by my friend Nina Laden’s book Clowns On Vacation.)

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