Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Very Hungry Three Year Old

Good Saturday to you readers.

Despite battling another head and chest cold, of which Mrs. LIAYF and I are now fully grasping why it is called common, Lukas has not lost his appetite.

Not at all. In fact, it is only Saturday afternoon at the time of publishing this, and thus far our little three year old has already consumed, respectively for breakfast and lunch:

1 bowl of dry granola
2 large blueberry pancakes with peanut butter and honey.
1 egg - scrambled with serving of Monterrey Jack cheese.
1/2 large banana
1/2 large Kiwi fruit.
1 cup of milk

2 whole peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
1/2  large Braeburn apple
1 medium sized bowl of tomato soup.
1 cup of milk

Frankly this amazes me.  How can such a little dude make short work of so much food?

After he had finished lunch Mrs. LIAYF and I just looked at each other with a grin, before she said to me "Wow. How much is he going to eat as a teenager?!"

I'm not sure, but I am sure we will be just as incredulous then as we are now.

P.S. He slowed a bit at dinner, eating only half his bowl of chili along with 3 mini corn muffins and applesauce.  But then proceeded to eat a bowl of popcorn during movie night before rounding it out with a bowl of cereal before being tucked in for the night.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't Spill the Beans

A while back I opened a cabinet in my office at work and realized that I had a rather large jar of pennies that I had forgotten I had put there.  It was not too long after that, that I passed by an empty desk in my office which, for quite some time had had a candy machine sitting on it.  It was one of those coin operated machines, with a turn dial like you see near the entrances of your local supermarket. You know the kind.
However, this machine was not filled with plastic eggs full of cheap and flimsy surprises like rubber spiders or rainbow tattoo's.  No, this candy machine was filled to the brim with jelly beans.  Jelly Bellies to be precise.  Colorful little lovlies in a wide range of different, delicious flavors like buttered popcorn and peanut butter.

Of course a few weeks later the two thoughts, bouncing randomly around in my otherwise empty noggin, accidentally bumped into each other and viola' I had an idea.  I realized, and it was an amazing concept, that for a few inexpensive shards of copper, I could bring Lukas a treat when I picked him up from pre-school. 

That was, If he had a good day of course.

As you would expect this plan met with overwhelming approval with Lukas, who loved the beans.  In fact, the morning after his first shot of beans we were driving past my work on our way to his preschool and he pointed to my building and said "Quick, pull into your work!  Let's get more jelly beans!"  "No, my work is closed buddy." I replied.  "Well, can't you open it?" he persisted.  To which I then replied "Well, yes, but that's beside the point.  I'm not going to." I held firm, all the time impressed by his 3 year old logic.

Fast forward to several weeks later (that would be now) when in effect it is a foregone conclusion that when I pick him up, I will be bringing a few tasty jelly beans.  And it has effectively turned from being a reward for having a good day, into a reward for getting his stuff together and getting to the car without darting off in several different directions.

Add to that the fact that the candy machine is nearly empty, and I can foresee that perhaps it may be a good time to start weaning my little guy off his jelly bean habit.  I consider this a wise decision since he has possibly become a wee bit too dependant on these treats. 

I think that perhaps he has even developed what, if left unchecked, could become a unhealthy reliance on these little beans.  I mean I don't want this to progress to a point where he would HAVE to have these lest he become upset and irritable?  How sad would that be?

Actually, can you hold that last thought readers?  I'm actually going to pause this post now.  I am just realizing that it is currently late afternoon.  And I really need to make a coffee run.

I don't do too well without my afternoon cup of Joe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Learning With Dumbledad

"I have a cape like Super Lukie!"

When you are a 3 year old like Lukas, every day is chock full of golden opportunities to learn new and interesting things about the big, fascinating world around you. 

And as parents Mrs. LIAYF and I take joy in converting every opportunity that presents itself into a learning experience for him.  We read him multiple books each day, try to answer all of his "why" questions with well thought out explanations, engage him in conversations about his day, and attempt to expose him to new and interesting experiences that will foster his cognitive and emotional development. 

All that being said, he seems like a pretty bright kid, so therefore I figure we must be doing a relatively decent job of not screwing him up with our efforts.

But the extent of his learning doesn't stop there.  Not by any means.  For instance he is also the star pupil and currently the only enrollee in what could be considered our very own school of goofiness. It's kind of like Hogwarts if you replaced the witchcraft and wizardry part with silliness and goofballery. You could call it Laughwarts. Which I guess that would make me his Prof. Dumbledad.

I say this because not a day goes by where we are not goofing around with Lukas, making him laugh, teasing him, tickling him, making strange voices, or flashing him goofy looks at him for laughs.  Thankfully, these tricks usually work. The end result is that we don't end up taking life too seriously.  And we kid around and laugh.  Often.  I'd like to think we (mostly me really) are also teaching him some good life lessons by having this fun.

And so far I have been impressed with Lukas' study habits here at Laughwarts. They seem to be paying off nicely.  For example, just the other day I was getting breakfast together while Mrs. LIAYF was readying Lukas for school.  It was taking them a while, so I paused and walked to the living room to see if I could hear if they were on their way. 

That's when Lukas suddenly jumped out from behind the wall with a roar, completely surprising me.  Startled, I jumped back defensively. Pleased with his own efforts, he proceeded to laugh uncontrollably at that one.
Ah yes, the comedic force is strong in this one.

Personally, I love all this fun we have.  I am a natural goofball, and being a dad has given me the outlet to keep things around Casa LIAYF loose and light.  And although my little guy is progressing nicely with his training here, he is now where near ready to graduate to the big leagues.  Rest assured Dumbledad still has a few tricks and secrets up his sleeve left to teach.

Maybe even a whole chamber of them.

image by Mr Spielbrick from, CC-BY

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Elephant Boy

Mrs. LIAYF and I took Lukas to a birthday party Sunday morning for one of his pre-school friends.  It was a nice party, but like most we attend during the blustery months, it was more or less just another day at pre-school.  On the weekend. 

True, it was at a different location, with several toys that were new to them and there were cupcakes and pizza.  But other than that, it had a rather familiar feel to play time at the pre-school.  The real benefit to Mrs. LIAYF and I was getting to spend a bit more time getting to know the other parents.  Strangely, we all seem to crave the social interaction.

Speaking of familiar, after the party we had another in what has become an increasingly more frequent series of instances that, quite frankly, blow my mind as a first time father.  Since we had all slept in Sunday until nearly 9:00, when the party ended at 12:30 Lukas was not yet ready for his afternoon nap.  Luckily we were across the street from a nearby shopping center with a covered play area, so we made a b-line for a bit of extra active time. 

But as we approached, Lukas surprised us by announcing "Oh yeah, I remember this place.  We have been here before."  He was correct.  And that wouldn't have been such an interesting statement,  but for the fact that the time we had been at that particular park was before he was 2 years old.  Over a year and a half ago.  This was a fairly distinct type of playground, so I know he wasn't remembering a different experience.

I just had to turn to Mrs. LIAYF and say "Wow.  He remembered being here before?"  As I mentioned, this is not the only recent instance of his clearly remembering events or places he visited from well over a year ago.  It has been happening with increasing frequency and it makes me wonder about his long term memories, and weather he will retain any of those from age two as he gets older. 

I am pretty sure that much of what he is experiencing now, at 3 1/2, he will carry forward in some capacity.  Especially the significant events such as birthdays, holidays, and special shows such as when we recently watched a stage production of 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile' by the Seattle Children's Theatre.  But how much I'm not sure.

Personally, my earliest memories are date back to when I was 2 or 3, but before the age of 4 or 5 there is precious little I remember.  That's what makes me so shocked at Lukas' ability to recall events from what, to a 3 year old, is so long ago.  Mrs. LIAYF, on the other, hand does have many more lasting memories dating from when she was Lukas' age.

Perhaps these early memories, such as his visiting this particular playground, will eventually fade away as he gets older and replaces them with newer and more significant events, yet to happen, from his childhood.  That could be what happened to me. 

But really, I hope not.  Because for him, this is a fun age packed with sublime moments filled with laughter, joy, and wonderment at the world around him.  And wouldn't it be a great gift for him to grow up, and older, with the ability to easily recall many of these amazing moments?

That way, maybe we could even share them together.  All over again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Choosing My Mob Name

Happy Friday Readers.  -I did something yesterday I don't do often these days.  Listen to the news.  And, as it happens and I'm sure you are aware, the story of the day yesterday was a fairly interesting one with the sweeping arrest of 127 mafia figures in the Northeastern United States.  Big news indeed. 

As they always do, the list of charges named against these Fellas included Racketeering. Now, I have to admit that in all the years I have been listening to news reports of charges against alleged mobsters, I've never actually had a grasp of what that term means.  Of course, by deduction I have a notion. 

That being said, it actually sounds more like a game you'd find guys with names like Chip and Carmichael engaging in at the local Country Club.  Maybe that is why these alleged figures fight these charges so hard.  I'm sure no street boss worth his salt wants that kind of distinction listed on his rap sheet.

But what was even more interesting to me was listening to the reports of the mob names of some of those indicted. Among them "Roc", "Jack the Whack", "Johnny Banana", Vinny Carwash", and "The Claw".  Great stuff!  I love nicknames like these.  Only the longest of my readers will remember the post I did about our nicknames for Lukas

There were many, including his Medieval name - Lukie Longshanks - my personal favorite.  However, also listed was his very own mob name, Lukie the Prune Faced Boy. We still use it, but Jam has now replaced Prune as his check decoration of choice.

Anyway, all the talk of colorful names left me longing for my very own mob name. So, I did a quick Google search and found a Mafia Name Generator, which only further proves there is a website for everything.  Getting excited, at the prompt for my name I typed in what those close to me refer to me as: Jim.  Mere seconds later, I had myself my very own gangster name.  What was it?

Drum roll......

Jake Costanza


Huh?? At first I was obviously skeptical, and a bit disappointed.  Even Mrs. LIAYF was given Jumpy Carlota, although it had nothing to do with her name.  I had expected a more colorful version of my own name to be spit out.  Something like Jimmy the Finger or even Jimmy Crack Bones.  But Jake Costanza? Was that even a legit mob name? 

But then it dawned on me. Maybe it was after all.  Could this mean I was given a name from New York's infamous Costanza crime family?  Being accepted as one of their own?  Would a cover job at Vandelay Industries be far behind?

But would I have the stomach for such a name?  I had heard rumors that thier Don, Papa Frank, is a powder keg with a reputed short fuse - confirmed when I found the clip below: Video from everywhere!

How would I ever tell THIS MAN that I was a huge fan of Jay Buhner as a Seattle Mariner?

Smartly, In the end I decided just to stick with Jimmy the Finger.

So tell me readers.  What is your mob name?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Could Just Eat Him Up

If I only had a brain!

We had a nice family moment on Monday.  I was in the kitchen working hard at cleaning up, or possibly browsing the Internet  (I can't recall which, but I'm sure it was one of the two) while Mrs. LIAYF was close by with Lukas in his play area. 

My two favorite souls were busy playing with a structure with walls that you can rearrange with pins to make different rooms for the accompanying people and furniture to interact in.  The simple minded among us might call this an open air doll house, but personally I prefer 'architectural design starter kit'. 

Anyway, they were playing out scenario's with the action figures when I heard the following conversation take place between Lukas and Mrs. LIAYF while he had a hold of two of the adult action figures.  "Mommy, this is the Mommy and Daddy.  They are going to get the little boy up from his nap."

How sweet I thought to myself.  He is actually playing out a scene from our happy life together. A smile crept across my face.

"But, Oh No!  They are going to EAT HIS HEAD!" he continued.  "Quick!  He needs to get away!"

Then as he grabbed the boy figure and pretended he was running off with him, he added "They are going to get him.  I need to get him to the astronauts fast so they can BLAST him off to space!"

Well, at least he has an active imagination.  My smile turned into a good laugh, shared by Mrs. LIAYF then Lukas too.

Hmmm, I wonder if Stephen King started out this way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Many

I believe that this plants my blog, not unlike me, firmly in the realm of the middle-aged.  I had no idea three years ago when I posted this entry, that I would still be here 1096 days later. But thanks to the support of Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and my readers, I am still inspired to keep chucking coal on the LIAYF fires.

I had started on a real post to publish between this one and my Delurking Day post, however a rather charming bout of stomach flu came calling on our home.  With much effort I did get a large cup of coffee down this morning.  It was my only 'solid' in the past 24 hours.

So, with that said, I would just like to thank everyone who has been kind enough to stop by, read, and or comment on one of my nearly 500 posts. 

Your presence is much appreciated.

Friday, January 14, 2011

For The Love of God, Leave a Comment Already!

It's Friday Readers.  And for your information, it's not just any Friday, but a 'holiday' of sorts.  Yes today, January the 14th, 2011 is Delurking Day.

If you are not familiar with Delurking Day, it is the one day of the year when bloggers such as myself beg, plead, coerce, and sometimes even promise false riches to convince our readers to leave a comment on our post. In short this is the one post all year, where we have no shame.  So PLEASE leave a comment.  If you do, I will leave the sum of $1,000,000.00 in crisp bills (small denominations) in an unmarked bag in the bushes next to your front door.

Why do this?  Well, because, and I will try to explain this to all of you non bloggers out there in the simplest terms, because once in a while we need that ego boost to keep us from hitting the big red 'DELETE' button on our blog and going on with our lives - as normally functioning individuals.

This is actually the 3rd year I have posted on Delurking Day. Sadly, the first year I didn't receive a single comment from a lurker.  Last year, I had several comments, but most were from my regular readers, and not from lurkers such as my parents - who I have, at this point, given up all hope of their ever commenting.  But they are readers, so I appreciate that.

If I hadn't installed Google Analytics on the blog a couple years ago, I might even think that I only have 50 or so readers.  But no, Analytics actually tells me that I have nearly 1000 unique readers a month.  Compare that with the comments that I get from approximately 40-50 different readers (mostly other bloggers) and that leaves nearly 950 of you who theoretically should leave a comment on this post.

Okay, so perhaps a few of those unique visitors are merely serious Star Wars geeks who were brought here by google, and who leave almost immediately when they realize that it is not the REAL Anakin Skywalker authoring this blog, but rather some latte sipping dude who calls himself 'SeattleDad'.

But hey, that still leaves at least 20 or 30 of you who must read on a regular basis....and have never left a comment.  Well friends, now is your chance.  Do it for the thrill.  Do it for my sanity.  Do it for my ego.  I don't care what you do it for.  Just do it.

The cash will be in the bushes tomorrow.  Scouts honor.*

*Disclaimer:  I was never actually a Scout.  I grew up toiling on a dairy farm.  This left no time for frivolous pursuits. Sadly , I never got to take that Archery class I sooooooo badly wanted to take. But no, I'm not bitter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's A Scratch!

I received quite a few concerned looks at work Monday morning, as I arrived sporting a rather nasty looking facial wound.  It was a nearly 3 inch long deep scratch -still red - that ran from just below the middle of my lower lip to the bottom of my chin.

Mostly, I just played it straight, leaving my co-workers not quite sure whether or not to inquire as to what sort of 'situation' left me looking so physically gnarly.  But when they did ask I tried, in all seriousness, to give a good story.  My answers included:

I got into a knife fight at a bar on Saturday with a mouthy New Orleans Saints fan.

Biopsy.  Turns out I don't have chin cancer after all.

I tried to steal a piece of Gazelle carcass from a pack of feasting Hyenas.

I got a shave and a haircut. My barber turned out to be Freddy Kruger.

But mostly, if they stared at me for a while I would just say "You should have seen the Raccoon!"

Then, inevitably I would have to tell them the truth which was that I tried to come between a Mama Bear and  her cub.

I was playing chase with Lukas and telling him I was going to "GET HIM" so he ran over to Mrs. LIAYF giggling and said "Save me Mommy. Save me from the Monster."

Apparently she took him seriously, as she stuck her hand out at just the same time I was lunging my face towards him, resulting in her nails scooping up large chunks of my chin skin during the impact. There is always that moment of pause before the pain sets in. 

Yeah, it was ugly as blood gushed everywhere for a moment.  Who knew participatory parenting could be so dangerous? To her credit, Mrs. LIAYF must have apologized a hundred times.  She felt awful.

But not as awful as I did when she squirted the liquid Neosporin into the wound. 

Non-Stinging my ass.  At least we ALL  had a good laugh at my expense.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Watchman

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you have probably heard this before.  I used to be a HUGE sports fan. 

Don't get me wrong, I am still a sports fan.  I always will be.  Leopards don't lose their spots. However, there was a time for me when it was more like an obsession.  My emotions would literally shoot to the highest reaches, then plunge to the deepest depths like the proverbial roller coaster, based on how my teams were doing at that moment. And there were a lot of those moments.

What was the problem? Well, let's just say being a Seattle sports fan recently has been akin to hopping a coaster in which you get in, and it simply drives you slowly around in a circle before depositing you back where you started.  Sure, there have been athletic successes in my city over the past half decade, but precious few.

That fact, combined with the decisions Mrs. LIAYF and I made to get rid of television in our home when Lukas was born, has led to my distancing myself from watching spectator sports.  And when I say distancing, I mean that I hadn't watched a game all year long.  Baseball, Basketball, Football.  This from the guy who used to fall asleep to Sportscenter, and then turn it back on the next morning to once again watch the highlights. In short,  I have done a complete 180 in my viewing habits

Save for a few instances where I heard about something spectacular after the fact, I haven't minded.  I have traded planning my weekends around the games that are on, to planning them around what I can do with Mrs. LIAYF and Lukas.  And it has been tremendous.  Being there, in the moment, with my son while watching him grow and learn without that added distraction has created moments and memories which have been many of the best in my life.

However, as I look back on my life I realize that there are other events I have witnessed which are seared into my memory and which bring up a flood of positive emotions with them as I remember.  Edgar Martinez doubling home the winning runs for the Mariners in '95 against the Yankees.  The US Gold medal Hockey game in Lake Placid in 1980.  Doug Fluties Hail Mary pass against Miami. Man those were great plays.  It makes me happy to remember witnessing them.

I had another such experience Saturday.  Although I had been a terrible football fan, not watching a game all year, I ventured out to a local sports bar while Lukas napped to watch a playoff game.  One that I was sure would be over by the time I got there.  As it turned out, that was certainly not the case.

I pulled up a chair in between two other fans and watched what was one of the most improbable games I have ever watched as my hometown Seahawks, who came into the game as the first team in playoff history with a losing record, won an intense and dramatic game against the heavily favored defending Super Bowl Champion.

And better yet, the win was sealed sealed by one of the greatest individual plays I have witnessed.  The place where I watched was nothing short of electric.  Swelling with the type of emotion that comes from watching the improbable happen.  This was one of games, and experiences, I won't soon forget.

As Lukas gets older, I certainly don't want to let spectator sports get in the way of spending real and quality time with him. On weekend afternoons, we should be be hiking or biking or playing catch instead of watching games.  But with that said there also should be room carved into our schedule for catching a few important games.  They can be a lot of fun.  I can't forget this.

After all, lasting memories are formed through a variety of experiences.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fear Not Citizen

It's a little known fact that Lukas wasn't born here.  Nope, Mrs. LIAYF and I actually found him inside a steaming hot space capsule in the middle of a corn field. There was a fairly long stretch of scorched earth leading up to the half buried capsule.  Inside, there was only this beautiful bouncing baby boy, along with a note indicating that he was sent here from the planet Cute-ton.* (This also explains why he gets physically weak in the presence of kittens as well as Drew Barrymore pictures)

There were two things that Lukas wanted for Christmas.  A rocket and a superhero cape.  As you might have guessed, Santa's helpers were kind enough to oblige on both counts.  The rocket, which came with two astronauts, three aliens, a moon rover, and a countdown to blast off button the sound of which is now forever etched into the deepest reaches of my memory, received heavy play time early on.  The superhero cape? Not so much.  It sat, pretty much ignored for the past two weeks, in his play area.

But today, with Lukas was back at pre-school after break, Mrs. LIAYF asked him if he wanted to wear it to school.  "Yeah!!" he enthusiastically responded.  And with that she loaded him into the car and off they went.  We she returned, she indicated that some of the other kids were oooohing, and aaaahing already over his red cape with the lightning bolt on back.

Later, when I arrived at the school to pick him up, I had already forgotten about the cape.  But as I entered the play ground, he spotted me and came sprinting across the yard with his hands outstretched and red cape flying behind.  "Daddy, daddy, I'm saving people!" he exclaimed as he turned and ran off towards a large group of preschoolers lined up to go inside

"He's been AWESOME!" the teacher on duty volunteered to me.  "He has been running around all afternoon 'saving' kids from peril. So much fun."

"Daddy, Summer was stuck up on the slide and I helped her down." he then explained to me.  "Way to go son." I responded rubbing his head.  Then, as the kids entered the school and began taking off their coats, the same little girl got her arm stuck in the sleeve.  With a huge grin, Summer then held her arm out to Lukas, who pulled the coat free with just the right amount of gusto.

"That's so cool!" said another mom, who had witnessed the act of gallantry.  Then, looking at his cape, with the lightning bolt emblazoned on back, she asked "Who is he anyway, Shazam?"

"Why no Ma'am" I responded.  "That's Super Lukie"

We all got a good laugh out of that.  And that being said Lukas turned, placed one hand on his hip while extending the other straight into the air, and flew us both to out to the car.

On the way home he regaled me with more tales of helping citizens in peril...and stopping meteors headed for earth.

*This is a complete fabrication for dramatic effect, and in no way diminishes the 80 hours of truly laborious labor which Mrs. LIAYF endured to deliver our son unto the planet Earth three and a half years ago.  I, of course, could never have endured such an ordeal.  I am extremely weak by comparison.  I am also not stupid.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Blade Runner Released

Happy New Year readers!  This post comes to you from beautiful Seattle Washington, where the sun has been shining in a nearly cloudless sky all year long.  Sweeeet.  Ah yes, the promises that the new year bring seem so much more attainable when you are soaking up bucket loads of Vitamin D. 

I sincerely hope the golden rays of 2011 have similarly shone upon you all.  We here at LIAYF are recovering a bit here today, as a last minute party invite found us walking down the street last night to one truly social gathering.  There were kids, there were toys, there were fireworks, and there were drinks aplenty. In short, it was a lot of fun.

Yesterday was also a fun day here for another reason as Mrs. LIAYF and I took Lukas ice skating for the very first time.  There is a small rink set up at the Seattle Center for the holidays so we decided it would be a fun way to close out year.  And it most certainly was.

I doubt I have ever mentioned this here before, but my own first experience ice skating was fairly memorable as well.  My first experience on blades wasn't until I was in my late 20's when I went on my first date with a gorgeous blonde, who would later tell me that she was so impressed that a guy could make such spectacularly theatrical falls onto the ice, and always pop back up with a smile, that she knew right then and there that he was the person she wanted to spend her life with.  And so we have.

My lovely wife and I can only hope Lukas' first experience ice skating will have such a profoundly positive impact on his life, as mine had on me.  Though it is unlikely that he met, or shared the ice with his future bride yesterday.  Although, you never know.  Perhaps he and that slightly older beauty who gracefully glided by at about the 1:25 mark will unknowingly bump into each other on their way to a psych lecture 16 or 17 years from now. Stranger things have happened.

True, we may never know what future benefit our little guy will glean from strapping on blades for the first time.  But I do know that Mrs. LIAYF and I will be glad we caught it on tape.