Thursday, February 11, 2016

You Can Not Stop Our Apple Fun!

A Tiger, a Lion, and a Dog walk into a bar balancing fruit on their heads.
"Cider!" they demand in unison.
The bartender, who is a Bear holding a mop, looks visibly agitated.
The Tiger points towards the Lion and asks the Bear "How do you like them apples?"
It's at this point that the Bear, who is not amused, assembles an angry mob and takes out after the three thirsty patrons determined to put an end to the madness these unlikely friends have wrought.

Or something like that.

Sorry, but I have read the Dr. Seuss classic 'Ten Apples Up on Top' to Annabelle so many times lately that I am starting to make up alternate versions in my head.

She loves the story though.  Demanding it each and every night at least once before bed.  It's pretty cute how she reads along as we turn the pages.  "One on Top!  Two on Top!" and then gets visibly concerned for the Dog, Lion, and Tiger as the mob of angry birds and bears chase them, trying to stop their apple fun. 

"A Mop! A MOP!" she will exclaim in her squeaky but high pitched toddler voice, then express sheer joy when the cart is run into at full speed and the explosion of apples end up landing on top of all the parties involved.

Lukas, who loves to read to his little sister, or Mrs. LIAYF will usually start her off with a couple pages before sending her off with me to read the rest of the story.  Of course, I always have to start over.

In fact, I have read this story so many times recently that I think it's soaked into my subconscious.  And not in a good way  - ie: my lame attempt at a bar joke above.  

Another example of the saturation of this children's story into my brain came at dinner last night.  As is often the case with Annabelle after a long day at preschool, she was tired and loopy, and didn't want to eat her dinner.

Mrs. LIAYF and I were determined to get her to eat something though, knowing of course that if she didn't she would put a sudden halt to her bedtime routine later and demand a bedtime snack.  We were unsuccessful in getting her to eat the grilled chicken I had so lovingly cut into tiny pieces for her plate.

So I tried the apple slices.  

This is where my brain, which was obviously full from alternate story scenarios, failed to make the correct neural connections in my prefrontal (or maybe postfrontal) cortex where decision making is housed.

"How about eating your apples, Annabelle?" I started.  Seeing three slices there I then followed with "Just the three apples Annabelle."  I should have stopped there, but the rest just sort of came shooting out. 

You know where I'm going with this don't you?

"Three Apples up on Top!" I exclaimed, realizing immediately I had made a mistake I couldn't unmake.  

Yes, almost immediately our 3 year old tired girl grabbed those apple slices and smashed them onto her head right there at the dinner table and with an extremely loud and exuberant howl yelled "Three on Top!!"  before letting out a laugh that was well out of proportion to the joke. It came out as almost maniacal.

She then hopped down from her chair and, like the three beasts in the story, started to dance around and try to do tricks with her apple slices still mucking up her hair. Trying to stop her was nearly impossible at this point.

My face instinctively made a sheepish expression as I glanced over at Mrs. LIAYF, who was giving me a look most husbands are probably familiar with.  Without saying a word, she was saying "Really?"

Mea Culpa.  I could only blame that blasted book.  The book, the book!

Yes, we did stop her apple fun.  In this case, after triggering her I had to become the Bear with the Mop.

But, as is par for the course in our household, watching our 3 year old cutie pie do anything absurd, you can't be irritated for too long. A while, yes, but not long.

We all ended up laughing at her humorous display, but letting her know it wasn't appropriate for the dinner table, and directing her back to her meal.

We have shelves and shelves of kids books.  

It may be time to pick another for bedtime.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Cakes

"What do you want for breakfast this morning? I asked Mrs. LIAYF on Sunday.

As is customary in our household, I make breakfast on weekend mornings and we eat together as a family.  Usually banana pancakes and scrambled eggs are on the menu at least one day, if not more.

I have a nice system for getting them made and on the table.

"Oatmeal" came her reply.  "I feel like we need something healthier this morning, and we had pancakes yesterday."  I was prepared for this answer, and was, quite frankly, feeling the same way.  Some Steel Cut oats sounded pretty good.

However, when I announced this to Annabelle, she was visibly disturbed.  "NO!" came her stern reply.  Being 3 years old now, she is not shy about voicing her opinion.  And acting on it.

It was at this point she emphatically marched over to the cabinet where the pancake mix was stored (yes, I use a mix most of the time - I didn't say I was a gourmet), pulled out the heavy bag, and started trying to lift it over her head onto the counter top above.

Annabelle loves eating pancakes for sure.  But what she REALLY loves is making pancakes, which enevitably involves eating some (a lot) of the batter.  That's absolutely one of her favorite things. But we can't have pancakes every weekend morning, so I decided to make a mini stand.

As if.

"Honey, I said we are having oatmeal this morning.  Not pancakes."  I let her know, a bit more firmly.  She responded by reiterating her position.  "Pancakes!"  

I was beginning to get annoyed at the fact that she was obviously not listening to me, when I looked at her cute little face and decided that, in this case, it wasn't worth starting the morning off on a sour note.

"Okay sweetie" I relented.  "Why don't we make both pancakes AND oatmeal?" This was greeted with a huge smile.  

Yes it was a bit of extra work making two separate breakfast meals (I felt like a short order cook), and we had to make sure our kids got healthier fare down their gullets later that day.

But when Annabelle looked up at me while mixing the pancake batter with so much care - batter which, by this time, was then also dripping slowly down onto her chin - and gave me a one word status update, I knew I had made the right call.

"Happy."  She proclaimed, as she flashed another big smile.

"Yeah, me too Sweetie."  I had to acknowledge  "Me too!"

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Younger Self: May I Present what Old Really Is

Focus on the car, not the skydiver in front of it.

You know how sometimes you say something cliche' out loud to yourself? Something like 'If I only knew then what I know now....' or 'I wish I was a young as when I first thought I was old"?  No?  Well, If that's your answer then you are most likely too young to understand this post.

My guess is that you can understand it just fine though, considering my demographic.

That being the case you will totally get what I was feeling the other day as the I was looking back on an old post I wrote here nearly 6 years ago.  It was called 'File Under Dating Advice' and it had a picture of my High School set of wheels (seen above), a very cool '74 Malibu with swivel bucket seats, new rims, a cool new paint job, and a totally awesome cassette tape sound system on which I cranked the likes of Van Halen and Def Leppard while cruising through my junior and senior years of High School.

Hint: If you read that old post, you'll probably be envious of my pants so unless you want to spend the rest of the weekend green you shouldn't do so.

Yeah, those were the days(Not really as I have found much happiness since - read my archives)

You know, as I reminisced about my old car that my Dad and I fixed up I realized something that could either make me chuckle a bit, or else feel pretty envious of my younger self.  I realized that my 'Old Car' was only a mere 10 years old when we fixed it up.  And that we bought it for only about $500.


I say ouch because currently, along with Mrs. LIAYF, I own two cars, 2.  One of these cars is already 10 years old this year (we just paid it off a couple months ago), and the other is 15 years old - half again as old as my first HS car -  and we still have 2 years of payments left on it!

Plus, both my current rides have backseats sticky with crumbs and remnants of long ago used kid snacks.

Just part of the joy of being a parent.

Oh how I wish I had that 74 Malibu still sitting in my driveway, all paid off and ready to drive to the grocery store to pick up....well overnight diapers or cold medicine, or something like that. But you get the picture. I would surely have many driveway moments finishing off a Quiet Riot song.

I would just have to dig out my classic cassettes, stick my pinky in one of the holes to tighten up the tape, hoping it hasn't twisted.

And get wild, Wild WILD!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Big Squeeze

I won't deny it, I love hugs.  Who doesn't, right?

In fact, I'll take them anyway I can get them.  Taking them is often the case when it comes to the kids, as I have been known to grab a passing Lukas or Annabelle from behind and pull them to me for a big ol' daddy bear hug.

Lukas has taken recently to dangle his legs when this happens, and exaggerate being squished.  Like I am squeezing the insides out of him or something.   When that happens I usually just pick him up a bit and swing him side to side gently before giving up and letting him go on to wherever he was headed.  I can't believe that would be somewhere more important than in the arms of his loving father, but he may not (and does not) always agree.

So, it was with utter delight a couple nights ago at dinner that he got up mid meal (note: this is usually a no no.) and came over to my chair and gave me a big hug of his own while sitting on my lap.  This was after a long day of work for me, so I found it especially nice and I correspondingly have him one of those big squeezes.

But this time, instead of groaning, he let out a happy sound.  "That feels real good Dad" he let me know.  So I squeezed eve tighter, but not enough to hurt him of course.

That's when he whispered in my ear "I love you Dad".

And even though it was Monday, and I had a lot to experience in the next few days, my week was made right then and there.

Yes sir.  I can never get enough hugs.  Especially the kid kind.  The ones where you squeeze real tight and never want to let go.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Fest Fit for a Kid

Thanks to the generosity of the Seattle Mariners, Lukas, Annabelle, Mrs. LIAYF and I, along with some good friends, spent the afternoon at Safeco Field here in Seattle enjoying their annual January FanFest and getting ourselves psyched up for the upcoming baseball season.

If you are a fan, and I for one am a big one, you can't help feeling a bit of optimism with the change of direction that new GM Jerry Dipoto has so swiftly implemented.  His ideas seem so logical and many are ones that long time fans have been calling for for ages.

As for our visit today, our whole party had a blast touring the dugouts and the clubhouse, seeing and hearing firsthand how the players prepare for, and relax after, their home games.  My favorite parts were seeing Kyle Seager and Robinson Canoe's lockers, as well as a private sneak peak at the clubhouse batting cages where future Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez and newly inducted member Ken Griffey Jr spent some so many hours perfecting their craft.

After that we toured the many exhibits set up for visiting fans before making our way to the kids play area to let Lukas, Annabelle and their friends burn off some much needed energy.

Of course, that made us all pretty ravenous, so we logically feasted on some ballpark fare, and before calling it an afternoon Lukas and I, along with our friends ventured out to Left Field with our baseball gloves and had a memorable game of catch together, covering much of the very same turf that so many big leaguers have also covered since Safeco opened bck in 1999.  It was a whole lot of fun, and Lukas really enjoyed himself.

Almost as much as I did.

Lukas and a good buddy, ready for outfield catch session.

True story - I have a jar of dirt in a special place in my garage from the initial groundbreaking of Safeco back in February of 1997. (it was parking lot so I guess in this case they torn down a parking lot, and put up Paradise.)

By the way, I was happy to learn that you can sign the kids up for the Mariners Kids Club for free this year, which has a lot of cool benefits.  We could have done it at FanFest today, but the lines were long so we'll just do it online

All in all, it was a fun afternoon and it certainly got me excited for the upcoming Mariners season, as different as it promises to be

Maybe this will finally be the year that the team returns to the playoffs.

Hope springs eternal!

Disclaimer: The Mariners provided our tickets free of charge, but did not ask for any corresponding publicity.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Episode II: The Force Helps Out

With the Jolly man, a couple days before surgery.

Happy Holidays readers.  We had a very Merry Christmas here at the LIAYF household, as you can see from the picture above.  That's despite the fact that Lukas was once again recovering from major surgery.

Even though I'm calling it major surgery, I'm not sure it can officially be called that (who decides that?), but we reached the six month time frame after his original Femur break, it was time for our little guy to get the plate and screws removed his right leg so that it can continue to grow and strenghten properly.  It took over an hour, so to all of us it was major.

The operation happened a couple of days before Christmas back at Seattle's Harborview trauma center with his original surgeon, and although he was able to go home that same day, he has been once again non weight bearing on his leg until today.

He will remain partial weight bearing for now, until he can finally heal enough to once again ditch the walker and wheelchair that he has spent so much time using over the past six months.

As we all know from experience, a big part of the healing process comes from happiness and distraction, which is why all the celebration of Christmas with the gifts and treats and extra love from Mrs. LIAYF, Annabelle, and I being home with him helped out quite a bit.

Another event that helped out came this afternoon, as we arranged to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Seattle's very best place to watch a movie, the iconic Cinerama movie theatre.  Mrs. LIAYF and I have watched many a movie at the Cinerama, including pretty much every opening of any hyped new Sci Fi film before Lukas was born and Annabelle joined our family.  But this was the very first trip there with Lukas.  And it was amazing.

We thought Star Wars certainly warranted loading up his wheelchair and arranging a time to view it.

That last part, came about because of some diligent legwork from Mrs. LIAYF, and also the generosity of the Cinerama and it's staff - who are 2nd to none.  The movie was actually sold out well into January, but after an email looking for ADA seats the Cinerama let us know we could attend today's show, and out of amazing generosity didn't charge us for any of the tickets!

We were blown away.  Not only by the Cinerama, but also by The Force Awakens. This was truly an amazing movie that held incredibly true to the original films, kept the action, adventure and effects coming non stop for the duration and left no one in the whole venue disappointed.  Don't worry, I'm not going to include any spoilers here.

And we have also counseled Lukas about spoilers once he retruns to school, as we are sure some of his classmates will not have seen the film.

Luke has been have liked Ep 7.
In the end Lukas LOVED the movie, as did Mrs. LIAYF and I. We were all very grateful to the manager of the Cinerama, who had helped make our afternoon so fun.

As I mentioned, Lukas' leg is healing.  It will be at least another 6 weeks before he can even participate in PE or Recess at school.  But, importantly, he IS healing and strengthening both his leg as well as his resolve.

At this rate, he will be stronger than ever in no time.

And ready for another epic light saber battle with his dear old dad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Super Girl

My Kryptonite - My powers weaken in her presence

Annabelle is all about Superman recently.  And it's pretty darn cute.  This love affair with Clark Kent's alter ego started with a Superman stuffy that she 'procured' from Lukas' room a couple of months ago.

Ever since then, she has been carrying him around, making him fly, and pretending to make him jump over tall buildings, or chairs, or counters, or sofas, or....well you get the picture.

That last part is probably due to the original and classic 1940's Superman cartoon episodes that we have let her watch recently, including the pilot.

"This looks like a Job for Superman!"

She couldn't say "Super" when she first caught the bug, so she just called him Haaman which was pretty cute for a while until someone to be left unnamed (sorry Honey) taught her to more closely enunciate "Super" and now she clearly calls him Duperman, which is still pretty cute I have to say.

And since she clearly shows preference for the Man of Steel, which doesn't seem to be fading away, Mrs. LIAYF and I have decided to capitalize on the opportunity.  When she finally mastered the art of potty training we rewarded our sweet little thing with girls Superhero underwear, including a couple of Supergirl pair which, of course, she prefers to the Batgirl and Wonder Woman panties.

We even pulled out a cool Superman emblazoned silver vest that we saved from way back when Lukas was 3 years old.  She rarely wants to take that vest, or another long sleeve super T, off.  Even begging to sleep in the T as a night night shirt.  How could I resist?

I'm not really sure how long the Superman obsession will last with Annabelle, but we will happily ride it out as long as she shows continued interest.  And, we really did need some additional Christmas gift ideas for her anyway.  What to get?

Mrs. LIAYF found a pretty cool print, with the Super logo, that said 'Superman was Adopted Too'.  How cool is that?  Obviously, that resonates with us.

This looks like a job for Superman, indeed!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fashionably Late Halloween Post

Okay, I know it's probably lame to finally post Halloween pictures on Thanksgiving week, but I'm sure that once you actually see the kids in costume all will be forgiven.

First, there's the siting version....

Then, there's the standing version.....

There.  I knew all would be forgiven.  Who can stay mad after seeing cute kids? Not me, and not you either.

By the way, that's a Super Spy (ala Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in MI) and, of course, Atom Girl (Lukas' superhero name for Annabelle).

Aren't they awesome?

Oh yeah, lots of candy was gathered....and consumed.  Although, it's almost Thanksgiving and we do still have most of it in our cupboard and not in Dad's waistline, which is a win.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Amazing Magic Hands

Just because he spent the Summer in a wheelchair, it didn't mean Lukas wasn't having fun and being creative.

One of the cool projects he worked on was making a stop motion short, to enter into a kid film festival.

The festival was the First Film Fest and, even though it hasn't been judged yet, we are not really holding onto any notions that he will win anything with the film.  Rather, it was just a fun project that introduced him to film making, and the real labors that go into even a very short piece. Over 500 frames were shot for this short.

The film tells the story of a robot magician who is pleasing his audience and having fun at the expense of his owner, who was having a nightmarish dream.

Or was he?  Skynet has nothing on these Lego Robots.  Especially the incomparable "Amazing Magic Hands!"

Prepare to be amazed!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015