Monday, May 30, 2016

Drop EVERYTHING and Dance, Sucka!

We built this city. built this city on kindie and folk.

We listen to a lot of music in our household.  From Kindie, to Blues, to Folk, to Americana, to Classical, to Indie, to Grunge, to Classic Rock, to.....well anything really.

That being said, we do have a kid themed Pandora station we listen to on most weekend mornings.  It is a mix of kindie artists such Caspar Babypants and Elizabeth Mitchel, with some Johny Cash, Jack Johnson, and the like thrown in for good measure.

And, once the algorithm gets cranking, it ends up being a fairly fun and breakfast appropriate mix.  The only problem I guess would be that there is not a lot of new music added to the profile, so after time you end up hearing the same songs on a regular basis.

I say 'problem' but, in all honesty, even this has it's advantages.  It's silver linings, if you will.

The most obvious of these to the LIAYF household is that the kids, as well as Mrs. LIAYF and I have identified for each kid a song that is "Their Song".   For each these are songs that elicit a healthy round of dancing and general merriment.

NO. MATTER. WHERE. WE. ARE!

Usually, as I mentioned, this is in our kitchen. On a weekend morning during breakfast.  So, if Annabelle's song 'Ho Hey' by the Lumineers comes on, we drop everything, crank up the volume, and proceed to enthusiastically dance around the kitchen like complete fools, laughing and intermittently hugging all the way through.

Thankfully, Ho Hey is a relatively short song, because by the end Mrs. LIAYF and I are pretty much worn out.  In fact, after a minute or so we are usually eagerly awaiting the conclusion.

Similarly, we laugh and dance enthusiastically and sing to Lukas' song 'The Best Day of My Life' by American Authors.  This is a great song, sure, but it's even longer than 'Ho Hey', so takes a lot of effort, especially for a....um.....seasoned dad such as myself.

Bottom line, it's fun, but it can be a little much if done on too regular basis.  And now the kids expect dancing to happen anytime either of these songs come on.  Nay, they DEMAND it!

That became apparent a few nights ago, when, after walking around our local business district, we all stopped into a local Starbucks where most tables were quietly taken up by singles on their laptops. But the music was playing, relatively loud.

And of course, as soon as we had ordered, 'Ho Hey' started piping loudly out of the speakers.  Annabelle, in here cutest 3 year old voice, immediately screamed "My Song!", grabbed our hands, and led us to the middle of the store where she started to dance around still holding our hands.

Well, what could we do?  What would you do?

I'm sure we looked rather foolish to the rest of the onlookers, but we all danced around until the song was over.  We were a little more muted and not quite as enthusiastic as we usually are in our kitchen.   But drop everything and dance, we did.

Annabelle was pretty happy with that, which made it all worth it.  Although I sure hope we don't start making a habit of dancing around public places.

Even if it is pretty darn cute.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What a Rube!

For his 3rd Grade Science Fair recently, Lukas was tasked with entering a project as part of a class assignment.

He was excited about the idea not only because this meant no additional homework for a month, but because after entering a project in the fair during his 1st grade year (I wrote about it here), he was not given an opportunity last year in 2nd grade, as the teacher opted instead to do a whole class project, which bummed him out.

So, this year he went all out and decided to go with an idea he has been wanting to pursue for some time, having collected various and sundry items that might someday be used in just such a project.

What was the project, you ask? Well, for his Science Fair Project, Lukas designed and built his very own Rube Goldberg Machine, which was all kinds of cool once completed.  

Just take a look at this, his first successful test of the full machine, and try not to smile a 10th of what he does in this video.   Don't worry, it's only a minute and well worth a watch.



Yes, it was test #101, like he said!  But only test #7 of the whole finished machine.  Mrs. LIAYF worked with him on many of the details, but make no mistake, this was his project and he was the point person on every part of the process.

We are all very happy with his choice of projects, because besides being a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun as you can see, and Lukas also learned a LOT about physics during the process.  As he is quick to point out, his Machine used gears, levers, pulley's, wheels, axles, and springs to convert energy into completing the task of popping the balloon. 

Thankfully, the Science Fair went off without a hitch too, with his whole class - as well as curious onlookers from around the school, expressing much interest in the machine, and wanting to try it out for themselves.  

Of course, not every individual run through went off without a hitch, but that only stressed the delicate balance that had to be attained to make the Rube Goldberg Machine work as designed.

Before you ask, no, I guess I am not smarter than a 3rd Grader.

Which is also pretty cool I suppose.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Triumph of the Jedi

"Join Me!"  "Nooooooo!"

Boom, Lukas can officially drop the mic on childhood!

That's because on our recent trip to Disneyland, which happened over Spring Break here in Seattle, Lukas was able to don a Jedi robe, draw a green light saber, and battle against perhaps the most iconic villan in movie history, Darth Vader!

Hey, but I am still his father!!

As you can see from the photo above, Lukas had amazing form as he parried all light saber srtikes by Lord Vader, and returned his own forceful blows as well.  This was no surprise to Mrs. LIAYF and I as he has been training around the LIAYF household for years now.

Certainly this was one of the highlights of our vaction, as Lukas and I arrived early at Disneyland, waited in line until the gates opened, then raced full speed over to Tommorowland where we were met by.....a rope.

Yep, that's right.  Once he and I had raced through the park to the Tommorowland, where the Jedi Training was to take place, we had to wait another 20 minutes behind a rope as hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of park goers squeezed up behind us waiting for the rope to drop.

And all around us, we heard dads and moms, and sons and daughters talk about one thing. One Thing!  Getting signed up for Jedi Training, which only happens for a few lucky Padawans each and every day at Disneyland.

Selfie at the rope, waiting for the race
through Tommomowland!

So, as we prepared for the rope to drop I implored Lukas to hold onto my hand while we ran through Tommorowland to the sign up line so that he wouldn't get run over by the hoards of crazed dads and Mom's gathering behind us.  I was carrying a heavy backpack, but I was determined to also save my son from determined mass.

Then the rope dropped, the signal was given, and Lukas surprised everyone and sprinted like a cross between The Flash and Dash from The Incredibles and left me in the dust becoming the first person to reach the place where the training was to take place.

This from a kid who was in a wheelchair with a broken femur just a few months ago!

The only problem was that this was NOT the place to sign up for the training, which we didn't know.  This allowed another Dad to pass us in line.  This was no problem though, as second in line was plenty enough to choose our time slot and get Lukas signed up to train as a Jedi.

And, to ultimately battle every Jedi's arch nemesis, Darth Vader!

Honestly, I'm not sure who loved this more, Luke or his Father.  And by his Father, I am not referring to the guy in the black mask!

Our first trip to Disneyland was amazing, and I will post more about it in the near future, but this one experience had to be the defining moment of our trip.

The Force is Strong in our son.  He fought like a true Jedi, and certainly made this Father proud.

This was fun.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pattern Recognition

Can you find the pattern?

"I found the pattern", Lukas told us mere moments into his math homework tonight.  In a blink he had completed this 'work' and was then distracted by another subject.  His bouncy and energetic sister this time.

This boy.  Finding patterns has always come naturally to him.  A small window into just how his mind works.  And a wonderful, loving mind it is too.

He will find them often.  Look for them in numbers, and in nature, these patterns.  Finding them in places, and pictures that are not immediately obvious to his mother and I.  It takes an inherent gift to see these alignments through the fog of noise that permeates our perception.

He has this gift.  We've know his mind gravitated towards certain affinities since he was very young.

It's pretty cool.

I have no doubt that one day patterns, or numbers of some sort will be a part of his trade, perhaps even his source of enjoyment.  Sabremetrics anyone?  Maybe that's just a dream of his father's, mine, a guy who loves the smell, the taste, the feel of baseball despite his team disappointing him without fail seemingly with each cycle of the earth round the sun.

But if they aren't, I'm fairly certain he will find another endeavor which will bring a heartwarming smile, which is another thing that comes natural with this one.  And his little sister as well, come to think of it.

Hmmm, seems like a pattern there.

How lucky Mrs. LIAYF and I are.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Yeesh! Teach a Kid to Read


Fueled by Pudding

Lukas, who's 8, not surprisingly has been reading for some time now.   In fact, just this past week his teacher informed us that he was reading well past his grade level now.  It was pretty fantastic for a kid so highly math inclined his early reading had suffered by comparison. 

But, that being said, when kids learn to read it can have certain drawbacks. Let me proffer an example.

It was sometime after 10:00PM the other night when Lukas came down from his room.

His approach was announced rather clearly by the thumping of the stairs as he trod down them.  Mrs. LIAYF and I were in the kitchen, having just recently finished making lunches for he and Annabelle for the next school day.

"What's up Buddy? Why aren't you asleep?  I asked him.

"I'm hungry" he let us know.

"Okay, tell us what you want? But it'll have to be quick" Mrs. LIAYF interjected.

"Some warm milk with cinnamon. That always puts me right to sleep." he replied.  It seemed reasonable.

Then he opened the refrigerator to grab the milk, and after a brief scan of the contents added "And some chocolate pudding!" He had obviously seen a plastic cup of it sitting there on the shelf above the milk carton.

"Pudding? Not the best idea right now."  I then let him know. "Yeah, too much sugar right at bedtime."  Mrs. LIAFY chimed in, backing me up.

"Uh, No" was all Lukas said in reply.  I looked over then and saw him pointing up to the chocolate pudding, laying on it's side with it's top seal showing.

I then glanced in there,  and Lukas read the words aloud as I was reading them off the packaging to myself.  "Sugar Free Snack Pack Chocolate Pudding".

I looked down at him to see a huge smile on his face. He was pretty amused, and proud of that zinger. Then I glanced over to Mrs. LIAYF who was also trying to hold back her laugh.  It didn't work, as we all immediately burst out into amused laughter.

What could we say? Our boy had undoubtedly had exposed the glaring flaw in our argument.  No, we couldn't say much, especially with the laughter.

So, I placed a cup of pudding, along with a spoon on the counter top as his just reward. What would it hurt this one time.

And, after enjoying his sugar free chocolate pudding and a little warm milk with cinnamon, our satisfied and sated son was off to bed.

Where he fell asleep pretty darn fast.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Stuff Happens. Remember it Fondly.




It happened once again the other day.  With little fanfare.  And why should it have any, I thought to myself afterwards.  It was just stuff.

Stuff that served a very important purpose, yes.  But just stuff.

What happened was that while Mrs. LIAYF was loading up our backpack - the one we take along when we travel outside the home with our kids - she had a small epiphany and pulled out several items that had been crammed down there for months, and had not been used for some weeks now.

This stuff just happened to be diapers and cream, wipes, and extra clothes.  All the necessities of going outside the home with a child who hasn't yet learned the art of holding it in.  But we were (are) now there with Annabelle.  Once she made her transition it was seamless, and she has not looked back.

It seems a fairly regular occurrence that we grow out of one thing or another that facilitated our kids nurturing.

To reiterate, I had absolutely no problem with dispensing of these items, so didn't object.  As I mentioned, it had  no fanfare at the time, save for a sigh of relief at not having to pack the extra bulk around on my back.

But the idea of this moment, the significance of it, has stuck with me for several days now.

This transition, albeit small, told a story about the development of our daughter and the stage she has now reached at the ripe old age of this many (three fingers).  She is certainly not a baby anymore. Heck, she is not even a toddler anymore.

This was another sign that she is a little girl.   A sweet, sassy, funny, loving little girl.  But certainly not too little..

And, oddly, at this stage of my own life, this seems to have happened in an instant.

Although no, I won't soon forget all those messy diapers, late night feedings, bottles prepared, and transitions (from sitting to crawling, then standing and walking, now climbing), it has all still become somewhat blurred into an instant for me as I look back.

Like *poof* I have a lovely little girl.  It's amazing.

But I don't want to forget. So, I want to hold onto those memories.  Not only the memories of those true milestone events, but also the seemingly insignificant passing of stuff. Such as what we rid ourselves of by emptying out a simple backpack.

Those items,  the insignificant necessities of raising a little person, seem to flow by me in time as if I were a polished boulder, forged eons ago, and sitting in the middle of the rambling stream that represents their childhood.

Why should I want to hold onto these pictures in my head?  Aren't they just ancillary to the more important events that implant themselves into my long term happy memories?

I guess it's because of the amount of blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids ( for lack of better terminology) that accompanied each of these.  They are all a part of the experience of raising our children.

Touch and hold any one of these items before it goes.  Think about how you used it, and for what.  As if a brush, It will trigger images of the real art you put onto the canvas that is raising your children.  Your masterpieces.

Perhaps I am being too melodramatic here.  After all it's just stuff.  But, as I pondered moving on from those items that afternoon, I did flash back, if only for a moment, to remember the reasons they were there.  The times I changed our daughter in a restaurant, or on a blanket outside at a park.  There were certainly some less than ideal outcomes.

And remembered in those instances happy times.  Happy, not because I was doing something unpleasant, but because I was there for her, doing my job.

Being a parent.

Her Dad.

Monday, February 29, 2016

10 Signs You May be an Old Dad

Boys pants, and Curtains were perhaps in same
section of Sears 1975 catalog?

I love being a dad!  I really do.  But the truth of the matter is that I didn't exactly get an early jump on the game.   Sometimes I feel like an old dad.  But that's because I am.  I'm 48 with a 3 year old, so I think I qualify.  

How about you gents?  If you are a dad, younger than me and reading this, you might wonder if you should you classify yourself as an old dad too.  Well, if you aren't sure, no problem, because I've listed 10 handy signs that may just indicate you really are an old dad.  

See if any apply.

1.  Your memory is such that when your son asks you to tell him a story about when you were a little boy all you can muster is "Ancient Chinese Secret!"

2.  You're not too disappointed when your kids have bad dreams in the middle of the night, because that also means that after you put them back to bed you can make a much needed pit stop on your way back.

3.  Your 3 year old spills milk on the kitchen floor, and since bending over to wipe it up seems like too much effort, you decide a better option is simply soak it up with your sock.

4.  After looking at hundreds of digital pictures of themselves your kids want to see pictures of you when you were a kid.  Unfortunately, all you have are a pathetic few tattered, misaligned, and color-faded prints.

5.  After looking at said color faded pictures, you're very thankful the Sears Catalog is no longer the most convieient method parents have for back to school shopping.


6. Whenever your kid gets the slightest nick or scrape you pipe in with "We can rebuild him, we have the technology!" while simulating a choppy, slow motion, bionic run.

7.  After you both hear a great song on classic rock radio your kid is visibly confused when you tell him "I think I used to have that one on tape."

8.  You make a special trip to Costco just to 'Buy ibuprophen'.

9.  You kid laughs when you tell him you had a party phone line growing up, and the party consisted of 'some nosey neighbors who could listen in on you'.

10.  When challenging your son to a game, and he says 'You're going down', you respond by saying "No, you're going down.  Down, down, down, to a Valley Deep Below".  

Bonus sign:  You interrupt your son, whose very deeply involved in a game of Minecraft, just to tell him "You know Buddy, I used to kill it at Galaga."

Done?  Need more time? Nodded off in the middle? Well, If more than one of these apply, you should probably consider yourself a member of the club.

I'd stay to chat about it, but I'm tired and really feel like going to bed now. 

Hopefully someone will have a bad good dream and want to wake me up to tell me about it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Logical Dad Blogger Song


As they are young, it seems that life is so wonderful,

A miracle, oh it is beautiful, magical.

And both of us in the wings, well we are singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully, watching with glee.

Ah, but we have to send them away to teach them how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical.

And while we work away, they're shown a world where they can be so dependable, more verbal, intellectual, mathmatical.

There are times when both of them are asleep,
The possibilities run too deep
For such a simple dad.

"Won't you please, please tell me what you've learned?"
I know it sounds absurd
I want to write about what you've heard.

Need to watch what I write or they'll be calling me too comical,
unreadable, fanatastical, whimsical.

Write down all my ideas, to find something acceptable, respectable, presentable. While still making them eat their vegetables!"

And at night, when both of them are asleep,
The possibilities run too deep
For such a simple blogging Dad.

I must please, please, write down what I've learned
Write down what I've heard
I know the notion sounds absurd
But they can read it when they're old. 

When they say "Please tell me who I am!"

"WHO I AMMMM..."

My deepest apolgies to Supertramp, from whom I've borrowed here. But you're logical. You know that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A REAL CHANGE of Perspective

Consider picking up one of these papers
next time you see a vendor.  Well worth the $2
investment.

Tonight was another night where we had dinner out with the kids.  

Truth be told though we would have just as well eaten back at home, but we had eye appointments for both kids this evening (You've seen their glasses), and didn't get finished until nearly 6:00PM. 

Immediate nutrients were a requisite, lest we all melt down.

So pizza was on the menu, at a joint on Seattle's Capitol Hill, which was not far from the eye doctor's office.  As usual we ended up ordering too much pie.  The kids are actually smaller than they seem when they are hungry.  I know, go figure.

Anyway, after the meal we eventually packed up the kiddos along with our leftovers, and headed down the sidewalk on our way back to the cars.  We were walking hand in hand - as it was dark and it's just nice to hold the hand of someone you love.  

As we were walking along paying most of our attention to those of us aged in single digits, I glanced up to see a man approach.  He wasn't dressed well, and it was immediately obvious to me that he was not in the best of places.  He asked for some cash.  Unfortunately I don't usually carry cash so while still passing by I told him that I was sorry, but couldn't help.

After a few steps though, Mrs. LIAYF looked over at me and told me to "give him the pizza". Of course, this immediately seemed pretty obvious to me as well.  He clearly needed it more than we did. So I back tracked to man, who was walking the other way and offered him the extra pie.  But he just kept on walking.   Thinking he didn't hear me as I usually talk softly, I approached closer and offered again a bit louder.

That is when he turned towards me an very angrily yelled "NO!!" right in my face.  Then mumbled some incomprehensible words as he walked off.

I was startled a bit by that, but accepted his decision and rejoined my family.  It was then that Lukas, who looked a bit shocked himself told us "I'm scared."  

"There's nothing to be scared of Bud" I told him, "Your Mom and I are right here with you."  We resumed our walk, and Mrs. LIAYF and I began to explain to our son about people who are struggling and whose brains don't always work in ways that others would expect them to, but that doesn't  mean that we shouldn't still try to help these folks out when we have an opportunity.  That there are a lot of folks looking for a bit of help, which might just make a huge difference for them.

Ironically, about the time we were walking and explaining this to him, we were also passing another man, selling papers.  I immediately recognized this as a REAL CHANGE vendor. The vendors are homeless, and sell the papers to earn much needed money.  Money they use to survive. Mrs. LIAYF and I usually include them in our year end giving.

So, I stopped our family for a second time and although I still didn't have any cash on me, used the opportunity to approach this man and again offer our leftover food.

"Absolutely!" he beamed, flashing a huge smile - obviously thrilled at the prospect of a hot meal on a cold evening.  "Thank you so much.  And please take a paper.  Please." he extended one to me, which I gladly accepted and returned the gratitude. 

Literally a few moments had passed since the first encounter, and here we were able to see such a different reaction to our offer.

It was powerful. 

With that, we once again we resumed our walk to our car.  And were able to use this new encounter to greatly enhance the learning experience the kids were getting.  We explained to our little ones that as they could see, you can't make assumptions about people based on what you see on the outside.  

Sure there are going to be times where people act badly, but it's usually for an understandable, if unfortunate, reason.  But that more often you will see how people are good and appreciate any amount of genuine help we can give, even when they are struggling the most.

That was a lesson worth so much more than a few slices of leftover pizza.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trinketville


It was a major, dare I say 'epic' haul last night, as we returned home from dinner out with Grandma and Grandpa.

Lukas, Annabelle, Mrs. LIAYF and I met my folks at a local 50's themed diner for burgers, fish and chips, milkshakes, and classic rock and roll. There's a jukebox in this diner where, for two bits, you can choose from any number of classics.

Somehow by randomly punching at the jukebox buttons Annabelle chose the song Teenager in Love, prompting a near hyperventilating howl of laughter from Lukas. He's 8.

Anyway, all those things were cool for sure but were NOT the highlight of the evening for the kids.  There was something much cooler in this establishment to occupy their time.

If you are thinking to yourself "I bet there was also one of those vending dispensers of cheap trinkety toys in little bubble shaped plastic containers there as well"  Ding, ding, ding and DING! crown yourself king of the Internet for the next 30 seconds, because you're good at this game.

On this particular evening our happy kids lucked into the perfect storm, or perhaps more appropriately, the Bermuda Triangle of tiny plastic treasure pieces, when the combination of Grandpa, vending machine, and change dispenser formed a soul and dollar bill sucking triangle just outside of the two tables we had pulled together to give the other patrons a barrier between themselves and our pinballing children.

And our kids deftly took full advantage of their good fortune (it's rare they get to deposit more than one quarter into such machines) by raking in such amazing treasure pieces as plastic bracelets, plastic rings, plastic heart shaped key chains, rubber aliens, plastic watches, compasses, and spinning tops.  All in multitudes.

Personally, I was a bit sad to see that not one of those tiny plastic bubbles had a sad looking tiny plastic boy in it. Not a single one.

Perhaps Lukas was looking for one for me though, because he and his sister just kept feeding the machines.  First the change dispenser, then the trinket barfing hunk of metal and glass. Over and over.  This machine even seemed to be looking up towards the grownups and laughing every time it coughed up another plastic bubble.

On a side note, If that's not already the theme of a horror movie, it should be.

When it finally did stop, Mrs. LIAYF's body was adorned with much of this haul. She looked like a much prettier,  plastic adorned version of Mr. T - circa 1982 and Rocky III.   Apparently she was acting as the safe deposit box while our little pirates were out looting.

I would have loved to have found a way to leave all those trinkets right there, at the diner. Perhaps for another less fortunate and Grandparent-less child to happen upon.  But alas, it was not to be.

The haul was gathered. It was brought home.  It will find it's way into the nooks and crannies of our home.  It will take it's rightful place there amongst all the other trinkety treasure that my kids have gathered over the years.

One day, a long time from now, no doubt there will be a headline that reads something to the effect:  'Scientists break open Seattle home  - Are appalled at the number of tiny plastic pieces they find.

Yes, welcome home endless tiny plastic pieces of junk.  You have now arrived at Trinketville.

Enjoy your stay.