Monday, November 30, 2009

New Directions

Today was a day which both epitomized and cemented the tidal wave of change that has been slowly building force and is now sweeping through our family.

It was a day in which Mrs. LIAYF voluntarily left behind the tensions and palpable stress of the corporate world to return to her roots. To return to that which she was doing when we first met, a time when she was truly excited to get up in the morning and leave for work.

And as the clock struck 3:00 today, she was officially another step closer to realizing this dream. It will come to pass in a little over a months time. In the new year she will open a green focused, eco-friendly daycare and preschool. Among other things, she will be offering cloth diapers, organic food and a program that focuses on compassion for others and community involvement. All things we had trouble finding when we were looking for a daycare. It is a venture that speaks to the heart of who she is. And I am extremely proud of the sacrifice and hard work she continues to put into this project. She is a lovely woman who will put her heart and soul into this business.

(Reading nook figures to be well used by Lukas)

Understandably, the response has been overwhelming and all positive. That helps since a career change coupled with starting a small business is a hugely draining proposition in both time and resources. Sleep has been at a premium over the past several months. Personal time? Nearly non-existent. But we have all persevered and now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The fruition of a lot of hard work is upon us.

This will also mean that Lukas will be able to a part of this program and therefore get to spend more time with his lovely mother. And, as a result, today was also Lukas' last day at his daycare center. It has been a good spot for him over the past two years, and he has made friends of many of the playmates who are also in his toddler room - he has in fact grown up with several of them. This does make me a bit melancholy about the whole transition as he certainly doesn't grasp the meaning of what has transpired. As far as he knows, he will see his friends again sometime soon. And that weighs more than a bit on my heart.

I will also miss the times we spend together driving to and from his daycare. Though just an hour a day, it was an hour of father/son bonding time. Time where we could discuss the world around us. I enjoyed this time immensely.

However, I don't want to let these melancholy thoughts pervade the happier ones that are also present about the new and exciting direction our family is turning. This is a time of great change. A time of new beginning and old loves. And we are all extremely excited.

But most of all I am excited about the prospect of a good night's sleep.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Most Memorable Thanksgiving...Almost.

If you happen to be driving through Seattle anytime soon and glance over to see a middle aged, tired and sickly looking man walking down the sidewalk, palm open, slapping himself in the middle of the forehead, chanting "Stoooopid, Stoooopid, Stoooopid!", just roll down the window and call out "Hi there, Seattledad!.

I awoke this holiday morning still suffering from a draining bout of Strep Throat, coupled with what I believe to be a separate virus still affecting my eyes. Despite the illnesses, the of the morning went off without much of a hitch. That is, until Mrs. LIAYF and I were in the final frenzied throws of getting ourselves and Lukas loaded into the car for our visit to the farm for Thanksgiving dinner.

You've been there, right? Leaving by a deadline, in order to coordinate a child napping on the ride, and still making it on time for you event. Well, things were going swimmingly but we were running a tad late. To make it into the car by our 11:30 deadline, we were piling things into our hands before rushing out the door.

As I was doing said piling, Mrs. LIAYF calls down to me"Honey, grab my wedding ring from above the sink". So I did. I also grabbed the keys, slung Lukas onto my hip, and also grabbed his coats in my hand as I scurried down the stairs. Then as I reached the car and fumbled for the keys, my mind in ten different places, I felt something slip in my grasped hand. What was it? As I set Lukas into the car seat I realized it.

The ring was GONE!

Was that what it was, or had I dropped it somewhere else? A quick scan of the area revealed nothing. Mrs. LIAYF arrived, and with my heart dropped somewhere below my stomach, closer to my bowels, I told her I had no idea where her ring was. We did not panic at that moment (in fact Mrs. LIAYF never did - she is a wonderful understanding spouse) but began to search. With a fine tooth comb we looked everywhere from outside in the wet bushes to inside the car, to inside the house, to shaking out the coats. Nothing. The ring had vanished. I was close to distraught.

After nearly an hour searching with a tired toddler in tow, we reluctantly gave up and left for Thanksgiving dinner, letting my parents know we would be late. Mrs. LIAYF had resigned herself to never seeing her diamond again.

About the time we left the driving rain converged on the region. The traffic for the 1 1/2 hour drive stretched into 3 hours bumper to bumper. By the time we arrived, we were all tired, hungry, sick, and had to pee. Thanksgiving dinner had been served. Plus, it was nearly time for Grandpa to leave and tend to the Farm.

But then, as I reached back to grab Lukas' fleece jacket, I happened to reach down into his sleeve, and there inside the upturned cuff, was Mrs. LIAYF's diamond. Safe and sound, but precariously close to being lost forever.

It was a Thanksgiving Miracle!

Though I still felt pretty stupid for not being more careful with such a valuable possession of my wife's, we all then sat down and enjoyed warmed up turkey with all the fixings, good company, and the knowledge that we had one more things to be thankful for this November 26th.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Imagine All the People...

Lukas doesn't live a sheltered life, so that can't be what it's about. His daycare room has 18 toddlers in it after all. He seems to be a very well liked boy, always smiling, with tons of friends he interacts with on a daily basis.

So, I am not exactly sure why he needs the company. But, we have had a visitor in our house recently. Our neighbor Nate. Nate is about 8 months older than Lukas and given the hectic schedules of both families we have not been able to hang out nearly as much as we would like with this terrific family. Nate did have a birthday party recently where the boys played nice and enjoyed each others company.

Since then Nate has been visiting quite frequently. He plays with Lukas, has snack with Lukas, and goes down for nap time with Lukas too.

The only problem with Nate visiting so much is that he is not really here. He has become Lukas' not actually imaginary, Imaginary Friend. It is actually pretty cute. Lukas even got a bit upset this morning after breakfast when I went to clean up his plate. "No, leave it there!" he proclaimed. "Nate is going to finish it."

I know having imaginary friends is not uncommon for toddlers. Many of whom are probably real people. I just wasn't expecting it from Lukas as his age (not yet 2 1/2). I suppose there is no harm in it and it doesn't mean that he is in dire need of another little one to hang out with. At least I hope not. And I'm sure he will grow out of it soon enough.

Now excuse me while I go check my Twitter account.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Laughing Matter

Seattledad: “Hi I’m James and, uh,… I'm a Laugh-Aholic”

All: “Hiiii James”

Seattledad: “ Well, I guess it's been a tough week for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor relapse”

All: “Ohhhhhh” (disbursed mumblings and quiet whispers back and forth)

Seattledad: “Yeah, everything has been going so well recently too, what with all the long hours spent on remodeling. And the money…yeah the stress that finances add to a situation, coupled with my recent bout with a persistent virus have really kept my recovery ON track. I seemed to be doing so well. So well (fading).

Face in the crowd: “What Happened, Man! Tell us what happened”

Seattledad: “Well, my 2 year old was sitting on the potty yesterday...”

Voice from the back: “Not the potty! Curse those things. You gotta be strong man. Strong.”

Seattledad: “I know, I know. I should’ve seen it coming. He was sitting there, still groggy from naptime and out of habit I sort of exaggerated my stride as I passed the door. Immediately, the kids cracks up.”

Guy in row 5: “You should have extricated yourself right there, Dude!”

Seattledad: “Yes, I should have. But I was too weak. I didn't see it coming. I thought about calling someone, but-no phone. Next thing you know I am passing by the door backwards the other way…and the little guy completely loses it. Loud, exaggerated laughs echoed from the bathroom. Right there guys. Right there I was hooked. I started going back and forth past that door, each time altering my stride or direction in increasingly exaggerated ways. I even did circles till I got dizzy! Sure, I should have found an out. Might have been able to, but I found myself completely lost in the high of the moment."

Face in the Crowd again: "He was on the TOILET fuh crying out loud!"

Seattledad: "And he kept on begging me for MORE! Calling out ‘More Daddy, more!’ and ‘You’re silwi daddy’." (wiping at eyes). "Sorry, I get emotional thinking of it."

Moderator: “That is enough for today James. And don’t let it get to you big guy. Yes, you messed up alright, but that is what we are here for. To get you through these tough times.”

“Yeah! Uh, Huh! Word!” (strong looks of support)

Seattledad: “Thanks. That’s why I love you guys. (Looking away, fist clenched, arm in L shape).

All: (Applause)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

About Face

I got another one of those emails yesterday. Someone wants to be my 'friend' on Facebook. Let me tell you, for someone who often complains at home about the fact that I don't have many friends, I certainly have enough people who want to befriend me online.

This is a good thing right? Well, not necessarily. For me at least. You see, I am nearly maxed out on the time that I can give to my social networking applications. In fact, I only created a Facebook account because I wanted to see if I could locate a friend of mine from kindergarten. Make that my best friend from kindergarten who moved away just after we started 1st grade. Nick Fringle (Not sure that is the correct spelling). I remember him telling me he was moving to Hillsboro, Oregon. Then I never heard from or of him again. That was something like 36 years ago.

So, I created the Facebook account. Searched for my little buddy Nick. And came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch. It was a big disappointment. I have since spent little to no time on Facebook. The fact is, since I created my Twitter account, the time I have devoted to this blog has suffered. And since I created my blog, the time I have devoted to my family has suffered. And since I created my family, the time I have devoted to myself has suffered.

You get the picture. Devoting another chunk of my already dwindling 'free time' to yet another social networking application would be just too much for me to shoulder, lest I begin to seriously neglect something more important in my life.

So, I guess my question is: Facebook or Twitter? Do you have a preference? Do you do both? How much time do you spend on each, as opposed to blogging? It seems to me that Facebook is used by many more non-blogger types, ie friends and family from real life. (My parents even have an account!) While with Twitter I feel that I can create more of a relationship with interesting folks who are, for the most part, like minded.

In the end, it is one or the other for me, because unless I give up networking on Twitter, or worse yet something else more important like sleeping or spending time with my wife and son, I simply don't have time to be your Facebook Friend.

But, if you're in Seattle anytime soon give me a call. Maybe we can grab a beer and catch up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My 1st Kiss & A Bowl of Hot Random to Go.

Lady Mama tagged me with the following Meme. It has been quite a while since I did one of these, plus I really like her blog, plus I am home pathetically sick with little else to amuse me besides the sound of construction in my basement, so I decided to give it a go.

1. Name someone with the same birthday as you. My former boss. It was awwwkward.

2. Where was your first kiss? Oh yeah. In my bedroom. I am pretty sure it was 'Destroyer'.

3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property? Not that I can remember.

4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? I am proud to say NO.

5. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? Does mumbling the hymns in church as a child count?

6. What's the first thing you notice about your preferred sex? Uh...her smile. Yeah, er...her smile. Was that convincing?

7. What really turns you off? Women with too much makeup.

8. What do you order at Starbucks? Grande Americano (2 pumps mint, 2 pumps mocha, w/room)

9. What is your biggest mistake? Not having kids earlier. This is a blast.

10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose? Does home remodeling count?

11. Say something totally random about yourself. I once entered a frog in a hopping contest when I was deeese big (Palm down by my hip.)

12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? Funny you should ask...

13. Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows? Only a couple episodes of Elmo with my boy.

14. Did you have braces? No.

15. Are you comfortable with your height? Well, if I was 6 inches taller, studies say I woud have a lot more spending money about now.

16. What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you? When we met Mrs. LIAYF was completely broke, but still brought groceries over and stocked my fridge. I asked her to stick around.

17. When do you know it's love? When you can remodel a house together without plotting your partner's untimely demise, it's love.

18. Do you speak any other languages? I'm getting skilled at deciphering toddler babble.

19. Have you ever been to tanning salon? Yes. (I grew up in Washington State. And we are as white as falling snow by the time Spring rolls around). It has been years though.

20. Have you ever ridden in a limo? No. But I REALLY want to do that thing where I stand through the moon roof with my arms outstretched as we drive through Time Square. Perhaps someday.

21. What's something that really annoys you? Boy Bands.

22. What's something you really like? Me lady. And me boy.

23. Can you dance? Once my wife stops hysterically laughing at the thought, then I will ask her opinion.

24. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room? No, thankfully.

25. Tag 5 people! Hmmm, let's see. Who might actually do this? How about:

Steve @ Myboys3
Karen @ If I could escape
Migthy M @ The Mighty M Family
Matt @ DC Urban Dad
Eric @ Juggling Eric

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Faint of Head

Things were never like this before. The only explanation I can come up with is that I may be going soft in my old age.

Before the birth of my son a couple of years ago, I had a extremely strong composition. I was born, raised, and spent my early adulthood on our family dairy farm in the southwestern part of Washington state. I worked hard, slept little, and witnessed more than my share of what could be called gruesome things. Whether it involved animal or human, there were many times where I watched blood, including my own, being spilled during those years. Enough blood and gore, in fact, that I became accustomed to witnessing it, and though it always bothered me to a degree, it did little to affect my psyche.

However, those days are fading into the rearview mirror for me now. Nearly 10 years have since gone by. And the pendulum that is my composition, my make-up, my ability to deal with such circumstances, seems to have swung the other way along with the passing of time.

The first clue that this shift was taking place came in the hospital after the birth of Lukas. I had just accompanied Mrs. LIAYF through a difficult 80 hour labor. We were both dead tired, but the time had come to make the decision on circumcision. Mrs. LIAYF left it up to me, but only requested that if I decided to have it done, that I be there with him. So I did. It was a new and painful experience seeing my baby boy laying there helpless and in such pain.

In the end it became too much. I felt light headed and the next thing I remember was looking at the spinning shoes around my head, of the doctor and nurse. They set me in a chair, and we all had a long, genuine laugh at my expense.

However, it didn’t end there. I had knee surgery later that same Summer, and as I was being prepped for the procedure, out came the needle. I had not slept at all the night before. My head started spinning, and again down I went. This time it was not as humorous as the last time. Though still worthy of a few laughs.

Fast forward to last week, when I went in to get a seasonal flu shot. I again had not been sleeping well. I was escorted around to sit on a bed. Out came the smallish needle. I felt light headed once again. Had a sense of what was coming. But this time I stopped the nurse. Told him that I needed to lie down and was allowed to. After a few minutes of laying there regaining my sense of normal, I got up and left. Without fainting. And without laughing about it either.

What bothers me now is that I may not be able to respond appropriately when and if that day comes where my child is hurt and bleeding in front of me. I'm not sure what has brought these recent fainting episodes. Though, they didn’t begin to happen until after I became a father at nearly 40 years old. Correlation? Have any of you experienced anything similar?

I guess they weren't kidding when they said 'Everything changes after you have a child.'

Photo by ZaldyImg's

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Floundering Father

"These are the times that try men's souls."

Ok, ok . Fair enough. Those are not my words. Thomas Paine, in fact, penned those words, in reference to struggles of a newly declared independent nation against the treachery of a dastardly and oppressive invader from foreign soil, right after the birth of our nation in late 1776.

I looked it up to refresh my memory, so I figure I am at least as smart as a 5th grader.

As for the quote, I find relevance in those words even to this day. Perhaps it's just that I am battling a rather dastardly and oppresive bug which is making me feel as if my throat was given the once over by an angry drunk with a belt sander. Or it could be that we are going through some fairly substantial life changes here at Casa de LIAYF resulting in late nights, long weekends, no down-time, and plenty of Thanksgiving sized helpings of mental stress being served up over said change.

However, as the Black Knight would say "That? That's just a flesh wound!"

No what really got to me today (aside from the rude, middle aged grocery checker ironically enough named Darwin) was witnessing Lukas go from his shiny, happy normal self to sick little boy in a matter of minutes.

He had mentioned his stomach hurt a couple of times earlier in the day, but then went about business as usual laughing, smiling and being his goofy self. Then it was "Mommy, pick me up!" And as he ran for her he inexplicably veered off in a near perfect 90 degree angle towards me, arms still outstretched. I obliged and picked him up only to be immediately rewarded with a projectile vomit shower. It appears that 1 out of 1 kid in this house prefers to puke on daddy, at least the first time. Mrs. LIAYF was christened three times this evening after the initial incident.
The poor little guy didn't stop until he was all emptied out and asking to be put to bed, which, after calling the consulting nurse and also verifying his fever was not too high, we did.

In his 28 months this was the very first such vomiting episode for our son. I think that after a good nights sleep, he will be feeling much better. However, this was a tough thing to witness for this dad. You never like to see your kids sick, but this whole stomach flu thing is just disturbing in a whole NEW way for us.

No, I'm not a Founding Father. Just a father who has found another reason to worry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Hardy Boys

The promise came from Mrs. LIAYF. It was more of a bribe really.
"Lukas, eat all of your dinner and I'll give you a surprise". "I want a tattoo!" was his reply. Fair enough. It was a deal.

And at that, the remainder of our 2-year-olds Friday night pizza was devoured without delay, followed by his mother bringing over a basket, filled with skin art booklets toddler dreams are made of. Sharks, Pirates, Trucks, and Firemen to name a few.

Sticking with his recent fascination, Lukas chose a large firetruck to adorn his forearm. A wet washcloth and 30 seconds later and he was grinning from ear to ear. Then, apparently wanting to share his new found happiness with his old man, he declared "Daddy needs one too!"

Not wanting to disappoint our little guy, I agreed to get my very own 'Tat' . I was very excited since, truth be told in my 42 years I have never made the commitment to get a tattoo. I have toyed with the idea of getting some cool symbol which fostered my individuality, but the time just never seemed right. I had resigned myself to the reality that my opportunity had passed.
But now I had lost myself in the revelry of the moment, visualizing what tattoo I would get to complete the father/son bonding ritual we were about the share. Perhaps a Sun for my calf, or Da Vinci's Man in Balance on my shoulder, or even a string of barbed wire abound by bicep. I would definitely be increasing my cool factor immensely.

"Dat one" Lukas then called out, startling me out of my daydream and preempting my very own choice. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I had no say in the matter. And so it was.

I'm guessing I won't be taking the extra effort to roll up my sleeves and show off my 'Gun' adorned with this Tat...

But at least we compliment each other. And what chic doesn't dig a guy with a Dalmatian?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Darndest Things

Humorous things often come from the mouth of a 2-year-old. Thought I'd share a few recent quips from ours:

"Man were Choo-Choo Train, Daddy!"
(After hearing a Pavarotti clip on the radio this morning. Opera/Train Whistle. I make that same mistake all the time.)

"That's Grandma Woo!"
(Looking at an old HS Basketball photo and pointing at a team mate of mine. Er...not quite son. Note the Adams Apple.)
"You almost too cool, daddy!"
(I grinned at this one…that is until he repeated it and amended 'cool' to 'school')
"Well…we did not go under it."
(Duh! After being asked if he went over the bridge that morning)
"I saw a cwown yesterday!!"
(At the Sunday Farmer’s market. I kinda hoped he would forget about that. It was a seriously creepy looking clown.)
"You siwii Daaaddy!" (laughing)
(While acting goofy together last night. Pure fun.)

"One square for pee-pee Daddy!"
(Behind me while finishing my #1 business. Note to self: Must teach that boy to shake!)

"Cover me up. Cover me up Mommy!"
(3:30 AM last night. Followed by several pointed pokes in my back from Mrs. LIAYF...Ugh! He should have just asked for me in the first place.)
And Finally...
"Kiss it!"
(After bending over naked and telling us his bummy was hurting.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Real Treat

This year was the real deal. Lukas' first Halloween Trick-or-Treating. Yes, we did take him around the block when he was four months old but that was more to show him off in his cute penguin costume.

Then last year we discovered what real Halloween horror was as our son was admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital with a serious staff infection. We were quarantined in our room for 36 hours over the holiday while the hospital confirmed the infection was not MRSA. It was the scariest Halloween Mrs. LIAYF and I ever experienced.

Saturday night, however, was simply pure fun. Lukas was dressed to the nines as a Firechief and after an afternoon party we pulled onto our block to the flashing lights of local 'Engine 31' responding to an emergency call a few houses down. We walked up to take a closer look, then 4 firefighters came out to load back into the truck and one of them came over with a huge smile and handed Lukas an official Firefighter sticker, calling him "Chief". Then as Engine 31 pulled away, all 4 firefighters waved at him enthusiastically and honked the truck horn as they passed. He beamed.

Next it was off to the houses for his first taste of trick-or-treating . We explained the concept to him - "You knock on the door and say 'Trick-or-Treat' and the family will give you a surprise" - however, we were not sure what he would make of it since he has NEVER had any candy. In fact, after grabbing a tootsie roll from one house he enthusiastically pronounced "Look, a brown stick!"

It didn't matter though, as Lukas was having a blast just visiting strange houses, most often yelling "TRICK-OR-TREAT!" as we approached a door. Then when it opened making a quick dash inside past the surprised occupant, leaving Mrs. LIAYF or I to sheepishly chase after him into the person's home. It was ok however, as we were always let off with a smile and a laugh. Especially after we explained our 'Family' costume - Fireman, Kitty (Mrs. LIAYF), and Tree (Me covered in autumn leaves).

All in all it was pure fun for all of us, and a much needed break from the hectic hours we have been putting in evenings and weekends.
We already can't wait for next year!
P.S. The foil wrapped chocolate eyeballs were also met with disappointment as he tried to bounce them but they just thudded on the floor.