Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jiltin Joe!

It's been an interesting few days since my last post. Mrs LIAYF woke last Saturday morning and immediately began to puke. No warnings from the night or the day before either. I knew we were in for a long haul when she was in bed sick all that day. Fortunately she began to feel a bit better on Sunday. However, I was the next victim of the stomach flu, and it has been quite a while since I have felt quite so terrible. We did all we could to keep Lukas from getting this nasty bug and he has yet to show symptoms. Thankfully, he seems to have dodged that bullet for now.

One result of having had this bug and not being able to eat (nothing remotely sounded good for a couple of days) was that I could also not drink my morning coffee. I have been a big coffee drinker for the past several years, but I hate the taste of the stuff so I have been using lots of sweetener and chocolate to make my coffee into mochas (which I do enjoy). The very thought of coffee made me feel even more ill so I abstained for a couple of days. I was really surprised when I didn't immediately get the pounding headache I feared would come the evening of the first day I missed my caffeine. So I decided to cut the coffee out completely for a while to see if I would start to feel better and more energetic without it. It took its time, but the throbbing headache did come and with a vengeance too! I was so naive to think I had gotten off so easy.

It has now been over a week since I last had a morning-or afternoon- cup of Joe, and I can honestly say that I do feel like I have more energy and am not experiencing the highs and crashing lows after the caffeine and sugar rush wears off. Today my body was definitely asking for a jolt mid-afternoon but I stood firm on my pledge to myself to quit and after an hour of so, I was feeling better without the boost.

You readers may not know this, but I turned 40 last Fall. I feel that I need to have more energy to keep up with Lukas as he grows and explores the world around him. I try to eat healthy (lots of organic foods) but I still have a bit of a sweet tooth. I am hoping less opportunities to put creamer and sugar into a cup of coffee (and then into me) will help me to get back some of the energy I seem to have misplaced over the past few years. Wish me luck.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baby Cheesehead!

Around this time last year my parents, who own and operate an organic dairy farm (yes, the same dairy farm on which I grew up), were taking a trip to Wisconsin to accept a National Quality Award from Organic Valley at the company's annual convention. The family dairy had had the highest quality milk as measured by Organic Valley in all the states West of the Mississippi. I am very proud to say that they have learned they have received this honor once again this year. (Congratulations to my parents, and also to my brother Ron, who together run the dairy!)

Anyway, Mrs. LIAYF was pregnant with Lukas at that time. Once I learned that Dad and Mom were taking a trip to Wisconsin, I thought it might be nice for them to bring back something for their unborn grandchild, as they did for us as kids when we were young and they went on trips (mostly these were trips to Hawaii or cruises to the Caribbean, so I would get a colorful t-shirt saying something like "Maui" in stylized letter with a flower on it). Well, I thought of Wisconsin and joked "Bring us back a baby cheesehead." I didn't think they would actually do it, or that there would even exist such a thing as a baby cheesehead, although I knew there were plenty of grownup cheeseheads in that area.

I forgot all about the request, until we visited the farm several weeks later and my mother proudly brought down a bag and wanted me to open it. I laughed hard when out came the infant sized cheesehead complete with chin strap. "I was only joking!" I said. But they then began to explain what an ordeal it had been to actually find a baby cheesehead and how they enlisted several of the people they had met at the conference to actually find this cheesehead for their unborn grandson. If I remember correctly it involved something like a last minute frantic search before their plane left Green Bay, time which they could have been enjoying some Brats with a couple of cold 'Milwaukee's Best' to wash them down and send them home fat, happy, and needing a salad!

So, Dad and Mom, this post is for you! Thanks for getting Lukas the cheesehead! It now fits and I am sure he will be wearing it on all our outings around Seattle this Spring. Well, maybe just a few mornings in the house to start with!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Roller Coaster of a Day

Ok, so we survived Lukas' first day of daycare (having decided he was well enough to attend), which happens to have also been my first day back at my job after swallowing my manly pride and taking the past 6 weeks off during a busy time at work to take care of Luke while we waited for a spot to open at the facility across the street from my employer (I do wonder what my co-workers and subs actually think of my taking this time off that they don't want to, or are too polite to mention. They have all been very accomodating so far). It also happened to be Mrs. LIAYF's first day of her first jury trial as an attorney, although she has been practicing Law for the past several years. All that being said, it was a day that had a lot riding on it for the Austin clan!

Even after preparing everything we could think of (and then some) the night before, the morning was hectic and hurried and I was out of the house 15 minutes beyond my 'burn time', as in 'I need to leave now or possibly get burned'. It was ok, since I called in and warned the office that I would be a bit late because of 'formalities' associated with the first day drop off and the fact that I could not do a test drop off last Friday due to several vomiting babies waiting to be sent home.

The drop off did go well and Lukas, true to form, immediately began to socialize, giggle, and flirt with a cute 11 month old brunette beauty named Summer (Luke the Charmer). I proceeded to work, where unannounced to me, my office was having an impromptu meeting in front of the only entry door, and I had to walk to gauntlet of shame for being 20 minutes late on my first day, hearing smug comments like, 'so glad you could join us' and 'here take a name tag so we can all remember who you are', real funny stuff from normally lame humorless sorts. (Just kidding guys, cause I'm a kidder, you are all very funny, yes, uh (cough) very funny indeed!)

Things, however, did go well from there for the rest of the morning with no surprises, and at noon I went to check on Lukas to find that he was asleep and had done very swimmingly during the morning, eating, drinking, and sleeping like a champ. So, away I went without seeing him, my plan to try again at 2:00. But as I was walking along the sidewalk towards the facility at that time, I met his care provider taking Lukas and two other babies in a triple stroller out on a walk. I was excited to see him, but, frankly, he looked awful. He had been crying, his face was still wet, he was slumped over, and when I smiled at him he just looked straight through me with a blank look on his face. No smile or apparent recognition of me at all. That was extremely disconcerting, but since the other babies were protesting because they were not moving, I let her proceed while I went the block back to work feeling very uneasy.

Then, after an hour of not really concentrating on my work, I decided I had to go back and check on Luke again. I didn't know what to expect once I arrived, this being his first day and all and what I had experience the previous hour, but once I got there Lukas was all smiles and was playing happily like he didn't have a care in the world. So I gave him a big hug and went back to work. All is good, end of story right? Well, about an hour later, just before I was to leave work, I received a call from his provider who wanted to tell me that Lukas was now running a fever of 101.5, and that if that didn't get better by Thursday, I would not be able to bring him in! Strange days indeed! He had been fine all day long and especially just an hour and a half before.

Anyway, we went home, had a nice uneventful evening, with a normal temperature, and Lukas slept happily through the night without a peep. He does seem to be doing much better today, so I sure hope things go a bit smoother Thursday when we try this all once again. All of you with kids in daycare, is it always this dramatic??

Wish us all luck.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Last Days!

Today is my last day at home with Lukas before I start back to work and Luke starts daycare tomorrow. It is very sunny and beautiful in West Seattle today, so I had planned for us to spend a nice day together, with lots of play time and a nice walk out and about to enjoy the sunshine.

Lukas, however, unfortunately has another cold and is not feeling his perky, smiley self. So, we will be spending a nice day together anyway, but we will be making sure that the Budlet is comfortable, hydrated, and caught up on his naps! I am not sure where Lukas picked this bug up, coming so close on the heals of his last virus, but he could have caught it when I went with him in tow, into the pharmacy waiting room of my HMO on Friday. I needed to get a prescription filled and while waiting I let Lukas play on the floor and he put a toy there in his mouth. I first wiped it down with a diaper wipe, mistakenly thinking that would sanitize it. I guess you live and learn when you are a new dad! Or perhaps, he picked it up somewhere else, although those possibilities are few really.

So, Lukas is feeling crummy and so is Dad for exposing him once again to another bug. Mrs. LIAYF and I will now have to, on the very first day of daycare, make the decision that multitudes of parents make on a daily basis. "Is my child too sick to go to daycare or should I stay home with him?" It would not look great to miss my first day back to work after being out 6 weeks. We will decide that tomorrow. Que Sera Sera!

For now however, Lukie Long Shanks and I will sit here, looking out onto the beautiful day, listening to the new 'Jack Johnson' disc and enjoying each others company, congestion and all.

Raisin Brain, Yummy!

Only $1.99, what a deal!!
Had to share this picture, courtesy of the West Seattle Blog. Obviously the person who updated the reader board was first in line!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal!

Not sure how I missed this, but the Mariners pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona yesterday. It is a sure sign that spring is on its way in what looks to be a fun season for the Hometown 9. Especially exciting is the new one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Eric Bedard. Maybe, just maybe, we can seriously compete this year. Hope springs eternal.

One of the things I most look forward to as Lukas grows is introducing him to the fever that comes with supporting your favorite team. I love baseball and, win or lose, I am a diehard fan. I can't wait to teach Luke about all the intricasies of the game as a fan and hopefully as a player as well. Whatever happens with our team this year, it should be a lot of fun to follow the daily ups and downs and to appreciate the finer points of the game.

Oh, how I love Spring!

Soooo Close!

At 7 1/2 months old, Lukas continues to progress towards crawling, using all available down time (that being down on the floor or bed or other flat surface) to practice his moves. He can get up on his hands with his chest in the air, or have his arse up in a downward dog yoga-like pose, and recently he has even started to get up on all fours in the crawling position on rock back and forth, knowing that some inner instinct is telling him that although this is difficult, he must do this.

Today, he started to pull himself forward in a semi-crawl that shows even more progress. Think either a dehydrated man, dragging himself through the desert, looking up to beg 'Waaater, Waaater?' or else a soldier in boot camp, having to drag himself forward under a screen of barbed wire, with live fire screaming above his head.

We want to get the first official 'crawl' on tape for posterity, so we can later show him some great memories that he will be happy to see and not embarrassed by. Like the 'naked butt' shot or the photo of his hairy soul patch that was wierdly placed right above his tiny baby butt cheeks when he was born. (For the most part, this has thankfully went away or else Luke might have grown older with some sort of complex about this, I know I would have). So, I am following Lukas around with the video camera hoping that I will be there to record the first crawl, as well as any other firsts. Unfortunately, he starts daycare next week, so they will most likely witness more than a few of his 'firsts' and get to see his happy smiley face all day long.

But that is ok, since even the seconds with Lukas are pretty darn amazing!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will You Be Mine?

Happy Valentines Day to Lukas' Mother! Luke, you are truely lucky to have such a wonderful, loving, thoughtful, and compassionate mother to love and nurture you throughout your life. Not all children (unfortunately few) will be the recipients of a fraction of the love and support that your 'ama' has already, and will continue to provide you. She will be there to hug you when you're having a bad day, kiss your owies to make them feel better, understand when you are frustrated, as well as be your moral compass when you look for guidance in tough situations. She is fortunately one of a kind, and she is all ours!

Honey, you have been absolutely amazing throughout our dating, marriage, journey to parenthood, and now as a wife and mother. Your are a beautiful person, inside and out. I love you! Happy Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lukie Long Shanks

I took Lukas to his first drop off visit to daycare today. It is amazing how many things we need to get prepared for a two hour unattended visit (unattended by parents - the daycare workers are there). We packed a bag with extra clothes, sippy cup, soft cover photo book, lion teething toy, bunting outfit, diapers, solid food and spoon, and enough paperwork to keep the whole Pentagon busy deciphering their meaning for months. (When they are not planning their next brilliant scheme along with W, of course, to solve the mess overseas!)

One of the pieces of paperwork asked, among other more important things, for Lukas' nickname. Lukas has several nicknames. There's the obvious one 'Luke', and the happier version 'Lukie'. But we also have several other names by which we call our son. There's 'Budlet' to which I have referred to him in several previous posts. This was a version of 'Little Buddy' (remember Gilligan?).

Also, when Luke was born he had a long patch of hair on top that we would wind up into a big curl on top of his head. It made him look like a 'Who' from the Grinch stories, so we started calling him 'Lukie Lou Who.' There is also 'The 'Cutest Boy Ever' as in "who's the cutest boy ever?" I am sure he is not the only boy with this one though, since we all think our child is the cutest on the planet even when there can be only one, kind of like in 'Highlander'.

There are also some occasional nicknames, like his Mafia name 'Lukie the Prune Faced Boy' which he gets after most lunch meals. Lukas is also in the 90% percentile for length for his age (he most certainly didn't get this from me since I am 'Just Your Average Guy of Average Height' and if I was taller 'I Coulda' Been Special' on the hardwood). So we often call him by his Viking nickname 'Luke the Long'. Of course this also doubles as his pirate name (aaarrrrgggh!), or we modify it to make it his medieval name 'Lukie Long Shanks' since I am positive there was a 'Long Shanks' in a movie with knights I saw once. By the way, yours truly had a nickname in high school. It was 'Jambo' (they drew First Blood) and with the new Rambo film out soon, I'm feeling a comeback. Uh, maybe not.

Anyway, the point is that nicknames are loads of fun. And with as many times (hundreds) Lukas hears his given name through the course of a day, it is nice to mix things up a bit. Hopefully this will spark his creativity as well as he grows older.

So, I am back from daycare now and Lukas 'The Charmer' had everyone raving about how great and happy he was. All the daycare workers commented with apparent surprise (or really good acting) at how social and fun he was. 'The Cutest Boy Ever' strikes again.

When I dropped him off he was so curious about everything going on he barely noticed I was trying to get his attention to say goodbye. Then when I picked him up, he fussed because he wanted to play some more. So much for missing his old man. And, he didn't use 95% of the things we packed for him, but it was great for us to know that we were prepared for all eventualities.

'Lukie Lou Who' will be just fine at daycare. 'Jambo', however, will need some adjustment time!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Got the Blues Before Sunrise!

My whole family has been feeling quite Blue lately. Please do not worry or feel the need to call us up to send us cheer, although we certainly love to hear from you all when you keep in touch. We are blessed with wonderful family and friends who fill our life with good cheer. No, do not despair over these Blues. They are certainly the good kind.

Washington State had its Democratic Party Presidential Caucus yesterday and the whole state seemed to be feeling much of those same Blues that we were feeling right here in West Seattle.

No, these Blues do not depress but instead give hope. Caucuses are a wonderful showcase of the Democratic process. And though our household of two registered voters, like many of our friends and neighbors households, was a split household, we both agreed that 'Hope' was in the air. The state went heavily yesterday to Barak Obama, favoring my half of our split household, but we both agreed (something we have heard on countless ocasions recently) that either Dem would be a good choice to represent us in November. We are definitely Blue Staters here.

We agree on that, and also on the fact that although Lukas is too young to understand what happened yesterday, it was a great thing to have neighbors debating with neighbors over the merits of one candiate or view, after listening thoughtfully to the opposing opinion. It was healthy debate, the kind that will hopefully lead our country back to the proud place of real values and real focus that we held in the last millinium. It was also the kind of debate that all families should engage in, without judgment. If we all do this at home, around the dinner table when possible, just think how open minded and non-judgmental a society we can eventually become.

It is a wonderful thing to have that kind of hope again. So, here's to the Blues!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Don't Take Your Guns to Town, Son!

We are fortunate this week to have Grandma Lou out here on the left coast from her Oklahoma home visiting Lukas for the first time in his young life. Grandma is visiting for the first time only now because she has been battling colon cancer and has just finished a successful six months of chemotherapy, to everyone's relief and joy. We are all thrilled to see her, and Lukas, after his initial stranger anxiety wore off, is quite taken with his all the attention his new found grandmother is showering on him.

Lou is a real maverick. She is 64 and still trains horses on a longhorn cattle ranch in the Oklahoma panhandle. A tough old gal, if you ever knew one and country to the core. In anticipation of her arrival, we have countrified our West Seattle lifestyle, putting away the Hives, Nirvana, Blakes, ect.. Cd's and also putting aside our Netflix 'Six Feet Under' disks and instead breaking out the Loretta Lyn, Johnny Cash, and Wilco discs and also renting a few Westerns, including '3:10 to Yuma' (the new one with Russell Crow) and 'The Three Burials of Me...(can't spell it without going to look and I am too lazy right now) Estrada' .

We hadn't watched a Western in a while and '3:10' was awesome. I also am a huge fan of Johnny Cash (we may end up watching 'Walk the Line' as well) and am certainly digging on the tunes. I just need to kick back and pretend those cat fur dust bunnies rolling by are tumbleweeds (hey, they are often big enough) and the Western experience will be complete. It is nice to break out of your same old routines sometimes and change to a different theme for a few days, even though I am already having what seem like DT's from missing the next episode of 'SFU'.

It is a terrific experience for Luke having family visit. Unfortunatley it doesn't happen all that often, so we will enjoy it while we can, because come 'High Noon' on Monday, it will be back to normal (whatever that is) around here!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Milk Bong!

As mentioned in a previous post, Lukas never took a bottle. This was due to an abundance of the enzyme Lipase in his mothers milk and an abundance of ignorance of this fact on his parents part. Since that time, we have been giving Luke thawed milk out of a modified bottle/sippy cup called a 'Nuby'.

The problem, and I am not sure if this is actually a problem or more of a blessing yet, is that Lukas will slam his milk down in a matter of moments. For those of you who did a bit more than study in college, it is almost as fast as beer from a 'beer bong'. He will go through 5 or 6 oz in under a minute, then let out an impressive belch that would make a truck driver blush. He does end up getting a bit of the milk run down the sides of his face as well, so this is not the most clean and tidy eating experience, however, he is getting his fluid nourishment and seems no worse for wear. I just am not sure how this will translate as he goes to daycare.
I guess time will tell, but in the mean time.......Party On!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Poop Sandwich

It's just after 4 AM and I am standing above Lukas' crib with a hand on his chest trying to convince him, in a gentle maner, that it's still 'sleepy time'. I, to my surprise, am starting to feel like crap. I have that feverish sweat, that raw throat, that stuffy nose. I say 'to my surprise' since Lukas and the Mrs. have had this virus for almost a week now and I have yet to catch it from them. That is despite being home with a very mucusy boy, who every few minutes would lean his head back and with all the force his 7 month old body could muster, sneeze right at me, blowing great gobs of slimy snot all over my personal space.

I have to admit that after a couple of days I started to get a bit cocky and confident that I wouldn't get this bug. I'm sure that I was thinking "I'm Invincible Man!" envisioning myself with a white suit with a large Block letter 'I' on the front. After all, I do generally have a great immune system and the things I do get tend to be gone almost as quickly.

I was actually joking about it a couple of days ago with a friend who knows about my days growing up on the dairy farm.

me -'I was exposed to so many bugs growing up, no wonder I don't get sick often'
him -' Yeah, I'm sure you could eat a poop sandwhich and not even get e-coli''
me - 'Probably have had more than one in my day'
both - 'ha-ha, ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha, ha, ha!

I'm not laughing now, though! I feel like a poop sandwhich right at this moment as I look to Lukas who is just beginning to get over this bug. It has been a couple of months since Mrs. LIAYF has nursed Luke to sleep in the middle of the night. I go in to calm him when he wakes in the night and, since I don't have the boobs, he goes to sleep much quicker and wakes much less frequently. So, mom is not nursing him at night . . . with one exception . . . when he is sick and draining and needs the fluids. He is feeling much better, so I try to stand firm and convince him that he should go back to sleep without nursing.

He reaches his hand out from under the cover and with big eyes, gives me a clear ASL "milk" sign. My response is to give him the "sleep" sign in return. He is not appeased! After about 20 minutes, I need something for my dry throat so I go to get my glass of water. I bring it in to his room (the irony totally lost on me at this point) and take a drink right in front of him. My son, with the dry and sticky throat, is watching me chug down a refreshing drink as he politely asks for a drink of milk. I am a bad dad sometimes.

Anyway, after a few more moments Mrs. LIAYF suggested that we just give him some water in his sippy cup. She's the smart one in our relationship. I was prepared to wait him out, to prove that I had more resolve. Lukas began to cry intensely, Mom handed me the cup through the door, Lukas drank, Lukas fell asleep shortly thereafter. Dad felt like a poop sandwich.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Goodbye to an Old Friend

It is said that having children 'Changes Everything'! After 7 wonderful months with Lukas, I can't say that that is entirely true (I am esentially the same person), however, it does ring true in so many little ways and some not so little, as well.

I am esentially a frugal person. I don't like to spend money on things I don't really need. Therefore, I tend to hold on to things until they are 'well loved' you might say. However, now that I have a son I have had to change my philosophy with regards to some possesions that may not measure up in the realm of the 'safe for baby' dept. Therefore, Mrs. LIAYF and I decided that with Lukas about to enter day care and both of us needing to drive, we would upgrade our second vehicle to something suitably safe for the Budlet. We ended up buying a Honda CRV crossover (today's answer to those who would never be caught dead in a minivan, yours truely included) which was just slightly used.

With that purchase, it is now time to say goodbye to my 20 year old S10 Blazer. I have had this vehicle for 16 years, and it has seen me through a lot of change. It has been a great car and, although is getting pretty rough around the edges (when cleaning it for sale yesterday, I joked that I was 'polishing a turd') and is definitley not up to the safety standards I expect for Lukas, it still runs well, and best of all, it is paid for long ago!

I thought this would be a difficult decision, to get rid of something that has been with me for so long (my wife and I had our first date, and more than a few memorable moments in that car), but in the end it was actually a very easy choice. Lukas' safety trumps all nostalgia and it is past time to find Blaze someone else who will make thier own memories with it. Hasta La Vista old friend!