Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stand By to Fire the Ejection Pod

Today was and exciting day here in Seattle as we were visited by none other than the famous R2D2 himself!

This is as close as I am comfortable getting...for now.

Lukas sat transfixed in the front row of the large auditorium at the Boeing Museum of Flight as Master Model Builder Bob Jacobsen explained how he spent 6 years designing and building this version of the ever popular and lovable Star Wars droid. 

And a fantastic job Jacobsen, who you can read more about at the blog Bob's R2 Droid Adventures, did too.  Both with the robot and with his presentation he held the audience rapt. With a helpful colleague working the controls behind the curtain, the Engineer had near perfect 'interaction' with Artoo as the droid beeped and chirped, flashed his lights, spun his head, and rolled across the floor in response to his cues.

Of course, Mrs. LIAYF and I were not sure how real Lukas thought R2 was, but he did understand that he had recently been built by Jacobsen.   As you can see from the picture though, Lukas came prepared by wearing his Star Wars shirt and also by bringing along his R2D2 stuffy (which he actually was hiding behind his back here so the real R2 wouldn't see it.)

Afterwords we toured the cool museum Space Wing which is all set to get the now retired Space Shuttle Trainer delivered right around Lukas' birthday, before being presented with a free model of the Shuttle Discovery to put together.

His mother took the time to do so with him right then and there, before we had to gather up our belongings and head out to a friend's 4th birthday party.

But, on the way out we were once again greeted by R2D2 who was now flanked by a couple of fully outfitted Jedi.  Again Lukas' excitement rose, and this time he decided to show the droid his mini R2 stuffy as he said his goodbye to the veteran co-pilot of countless X-Wing Fighter battles.

And, unlike his previous photo-op, this time R2 and Lukas struck up quite a conversation.

With Lukas excitedly talking about Star Wars, and R2D2 moving around beeping & chirping his responses, I glanced over at Mr. Jacobsen sitting inconspicuously a few feet away with the remote control in hand and a smile painted on his face.   I then thought about how scenarios just such as this must have been played out a thousand times in his mind during the 6 long years it took him to complete this model.  He had indeed created something magical.

"Thank you!"  I mouthed to him.  And then we were off with memories that won't soon be forgotten.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Parenting Advice from "Gunny" Highway

"Improvise, adapt, overcome" ~ Clint Eastwood as Marine Sgt. "Gunny" Highway in Heartbreak Ridge

As a parent, you learn to roll with the punches. To adapt.  It's a simple fact that you have to, or otherwise the pressure could break you into a million tiny pieces like the dried and brittle twig that you are. Then, waking to your surroundings, you would find your chin wet with drool and your attempts to speak resulting only in nonsensical mutterings as you stare at the unusually cushy walls to all sides of you.

And all because that last 'thin little wafer' that came in the form of yet another cup of milk flying off the table, was once again at odds with your EXPECTATIONS of how the meal would play itself out? Okay, maybe that's a wee bit over dramatic, but sadly, but I bet there are parents out there toeing that edge.

So yeah,  It's good to adapt.  To laugh it off.  To take stock of an unexpected situation and "Improvise" as needed. For your sanity.

The need to think quick was what I was faced with a few months ago.  We were at a restaurant.  Had just ordered our food when Lukas raced off to the restroom.   I followed, like the concerned parent that I am, wanting to make sure all was okay.  Unfortunately, it was not.  He's was usually very good, but he was still a little guy.  Plus, I don't think he was feeling very well. 

The problem was exacerbated because I wasn't carrying any spare clothes for him.  Worse yet, friends had just arrived unexpectedly and were chatting with Mrs. LIAYF at the table. So, she wasn't about to come to our rescue.   What to do?

"Improvise!" I muttered to myself, channeling Gunny Highway, as I tossed the affected garment in the trash. Then, to be sure, I carefully washed the mostly clean over-garment before ringing it out and drying it under the hand dryer for several moments.  It seemed like I was in there for hours, but maybe it was only 10 minutes.  I then helped him dress, had him wash his hands, and told him it was time to go back to our table.

"But dad...." he complained, before I told him it was okay.  That there was a name for it.  In retrospect I probably shouldn't have placed a label on our wardrobe necessity. That's because, as he exited the washroom and saw Mrs. LIAYF and our friends across the room at the table he proclaimed, in his 4-year-old outside yelling voice.....


I just looked around at all the other patrons and laughed a bit nervously, hoping that people would still find that cute coming from a little guy.  After all, like I said, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches when you're a parent.

He probably wouldn't show it on his hardened face, but had he witnessed me in action, I'm sure "Gunny" would have been proud.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dealing With Parent Discrimination

I've mentioned this before, but I'm a fairly laid back guy.  I don't get my feathers ruffled very often, and on those rare occasion I do,  give me 10 minutes and I have forgotten about what ever it was.  I'm sure that over time this has served me fairly well, especially in the blood pressure department.

But something happened today that really irked me.  And the more I thought about it the more bothered by it I became.  Mrs. LIAYF had a weekend work project to finish, so I took Lukas out for some father/son bonding time.  We decided to go for a bike ride up and down a boardwalk near home.  It was a great morning with lots of sunshine and spectacular views. Then when we were finished, we stopped off to lunch at our favorite fast food coffee Shop 

Now, I've posted before about our affinity for this particular coffee chain, but It was at this location where the events that bothered me transpired.  The line there wasn't too long, but Lukas and I waited our turn patiently.   Then it was our turn to order, we made our selections.  Since we were having a full lunch we had to make more of a selection than just drinks.  I grabbed a fruit cup, a sandwich, a granola bar, a couple of treats, an Odwalla juice and a coffee.  I think I asked Lukas once if he would rather have a cocoa than the juice.  He declined.  We also took a brief moment to choose a the sandwich. 

All the while the cashier, a youngish guy avoided eye contact, gritted his teeth, and spoke in very short tones to me.  It became more pronounced when I asked him to put money on my card, then pay for it with the newly loaded card.  It was pretty obvious he was doing all he could to keep himself bottled up.  But, this whole transaction didn't take more than 2 minutes, tops.   Probably less.  Someone in the line ahead of us had also taken a bit of time placing their order as well.  I didn't care.

Oddly enough, for the first time since becoming a parent, I had the distinct feeling that I was the recipient of this guys ire because I had my kid with me.  It wasn't a good feeling.  Then, to top it all off, once I was done the cashier slid the next guy in line his drip coffee and loudly proclaimed "This one's on me!  I insist.  Thank you for your patience!"

Then I felt insulted.  It would have been different if I had actually taken an extraordinary amount of time, but like I mentioned this wasn't a long transaction.  Plus I had just bought $25 worth of their food.   But, I decided to try to forget about it and enjoy the lunch.  And Lukas and I did just that, having nice chat about our day and our bike ride.

But, as we were finishing up I noticed that that same cashier was having a problem.  Apparently he had entered something incorrectly while taking an order and he couldn't get it figured out.  He proceeded to call every other cashier over, including the manager while the line was held up and growing longer.  A couple of minutes later (literally), it was to the door, no one was being served, and the cashier was smiling widely as he tried to assure the customers in line that they would be served soon.

Finally, they resolved the issue and began serving the other customers.  That incident took at least 5 times as long as my transaction, probably more.  But I didn't see any free drinks being handed out.  This bothered me all over again.  Thankfully, I recognized the manager.  He had been transferred there from the coffee house near my work, where I was a long time customer.  As we were leaving, he saw me, smiled, and asked how I was doing.

"Not bad." I replied, taking a breath "But I want to tell you about the experience I just had...."

Tell me parents.  How often does this type of parent discrimination happen to you, and do you let it bother you?

Would you have said something to the manager?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Not Everyone Likes Bacon

Lukas loves listening to audio books in the car on our way to and from his Pre-K program. In fact, for his birthday last Summer we got him the audio recording 'Three Tales of My Father's Dragon' by Ruth Stiles Gannet.  He listened to that over and over again, until he had it memorized.

 In fact, he loved it so much that we then picked up an audio copy of 'The House at Pooh Corner', some of the original Pooh stories narrated by Dame Judi Dench. These were followed up at Christmas with a gift of the rest of the original 'Winnie the Pooh Stories' from his grandparents.  We listen to these all the time.

ALL. THE. TIME.  (small groan)

Thankfully they are extremely well done.  But yes, all the time.  Heck, I even have them mostly memorized, which is a minor miracle given my recent bout of early onset oldness.

Anyway, all that being said, when we happened to see a stuffed 'Piglet' animal in a store recently Lukas just HAD to have it.  We obliged, but also go him the other stuffy he wanted equally as much: A stuffed R2D2.  This seemed to bring a measure of balance to the Force.

As of late he has been carrying one of these new pals around most everywhere we go, talking to them, laughing with them, and often telling them rather animated stories.  Yep, It's real cute to watch.

Then, a couple of nights ago we had just enough time before his swimming class to stop and grab something to eat at a local restaurant.  We opted for the 24hr breakfast joint.  You know, the one that rhymes with My Slop.  Truthfully, I shouldn't be so harsh since it was actually pretty decent breakfast for dinner fare.   And it was here that Lukas made a discovery that is sure to be ingrained in his very essence for the remainder of his days on this planet.  It is a simple equation that we all know by heart.

Bacon = Good!!

He gobbled several strips of the stuff, until he declared that his new favorites foods were 1. Pancakes 2. Corn Muffins and 3. BACON. (it's first inclusion on the list.)  In fact, he liked it so much that on our way back to the car, he declared "I'm going to tell Piglet all about it!"   "That's not a real good idea buddy" I replied.

"Why not?" he quizzed. To which I responded "Do you know what bacon is made of? Pigs!" And with that Mrs. LIAYF and I could see his wheels turning for a couple of short moments, until.......

He burst out laughing.  The serious, uncontrolled kind of laughter that ends up being contagious.

It was hilarious.  And for the rest of the car trip, he would hold up Piglet and have differing conversations with him about this and that, all the while trying very hard NOT to mention what he had had for dinner.

Because, of course, not everyone likes bacon.