Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Proposition

She stared at me with expectant eyes as her proposition hung precipitously there in the warm evening air.


She was young and pretty.  Perhaps in her early 20's, maybe even younger. I have to admit that I was instantly tempted, especially given the reality that I have recently been feeling every bit, and then some, of my two score and two years of age.

I paused, carefully considering my next move.  The truth was that I had come far to get to this point.  Plus, I had a 3 year old son to consider.  Had she noticed him? He was right there.  Then again, maybe she had clearly understood that he was with me, and that just made her want to all the more.  He is an adorable kid. I probably benefit from that more than I realize.

I took a quick glance around to see who might be looking. I was in my neighborhood after all. 

In that split second the thought also crossed my mind about how this would reflect on my perception of my own manliness.  Like it or not, there is a certain measure of male pride at stake when considering such a proposal.

Finally, after seeing no familiar faces, I decided I'd just throw caution to the wind.

"Uh...yeah, sure.  I could use some help out with those." I responded as I looked from my son to the cart, which was loaded full of grocery bags.

And I gotta tell you, it made things a lot easier.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Help Cure Juvenile Myositis (JM)

Readers, today I am asking that you do something that will make you feel good.  And best of all, you don't have to donate any of your hard earned dollars to do it.  No, today I am asking that you simply place your vote to help the Cure JM foundation win a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant to use towards finding a cure to Juvenile Myositis.

Currently, they are on track to receive one of two available grants, but could use all the support they can get to ensure that they don't slip out of the running before voting ends Sept 1st.

Fellow dad blogger Kevin, from Always Home and Uncool, whose daughter (thing 1) suffers from JM, recently published the following post on his blog.  He has asked that I publish it here as a reminder of why it is so important to lend your support.  If you can, please take the time to read it and then go and vote to help cure JM.

Cole Flack of Oregon received his diagnosis of juvenile dermatomyositis in February 2007, roughly four-and-a-half years after Thing 1 received hers.

In the years that followed, this teenager with a love of sports and being outdoors lost his ability to walk. Cole endured multiple abdominal surgeries to deal with gastrointestinal issues caused by the disease and its medicinal treatments. Yet as recently as the fall, he still managed a full course load at school and compiled a 4.0 GPA.

Earlier this month, Cole went into the hospital with pneumonia.

Yesterday, we received this e-mail written by his parents:

“Hello friends and family,

Cole went to be with the Lord at 7 p.m. tonight. It was very peaceful. Cole is free now to run ... jump ... play baseball ... everything a 15 year old boy should be able to do. …”

Cole is the third child with a form of juvenile myositis that our family has come to know since Thing 1’s diagnosis to die from this rare autoimmune disease or its complications.


When only three in a million children are diagnosed annually in the United States with this disease, that little number grows exponentially in your worried head every time your child coughs or sneezes or scraps a knee.

Please help prevent more deaths of children like Cole by continuing to vote every day this month to help Cure JM, the only national nonprofit dedicated to supporting children with juvenile myositis and their families, win a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant.

That $250,000 equals half our volunteer group’s annual budget, a budget raised solely through fundraising done by the family and friends of JM children. Every penny of that grant is set to pay for research into finding the cause and cure of juvenile myositis, juvenile dermatomyositis and other forms of JM diseases.

Right now, we are No. 2 in the standings – we need to hold this position until Sept. 1 to win the grant money. The only way that can happen is with your help.

You can vote up to 3 TIMES, every day, during the month of August!

(1) Send a text vote: Text 100850 to Pepsi (73774) (standard text messaging rate apply)

(2) Use the Facebook app: http://bit.ly/CureJMonFB

(3) Vote directly from the Pepsi website site for our Cure JM and its affiliated causes at http://pep.si/CureJMKidstoWin5

Friday, August 27, 2010

So, You Think You Can What?

"We danced around like CWAZY!" was his emphatic response as I held my cell phone - speaker on - behind me on the drive home yesterday. It was in response to Mrs. LIAYF's inquiry as to what he did at pre-school that day.

"Sounds like you had fun today" one, or perhaps both of us, responded.

In retrospect, I'm not so sure now if his pre-school is having the best influence on our son as he ends his 2nd week back, after 8 months at home.

That's because later, as I climbed the stairs to join my wife and son who had started the bedtime routine, Lukas came out of his room in the middle of getting undressed. He obviously wanted to elaborate on his afternoon dance routine with his little buddies at school.

"It was called Booty Shake!" he explained naked but for the shoes, and shorts around his ankles. "And, how did it go?" Mrs. LIAYF asked, shooting me a amused but quizzical glance.

"Like this" he responded, before leaning forward and sticking out his backside. That was soon followed by what can only be described as a bout of spastic-like, out of control jumping around the hallway. It was bizarre enough to bring an immediate burst of laughter from both Mrs. LIAYF and I.

"That was.....um.....disturbing" was all I could think to say as I turned to Mrs. LIAYF who still had a large grin of amusement on her face.

Okay, I think I'll just assume now that when the formal preschool curriculum begins in a couple of weeks they'll have the kids start right away on some advanced math, quantum physics, classic literature. You know, the type of subjects that would justify the figure - which may just rival the GDP of some third world countries - which we are now handing over to his providers each month.

Because I'd really hate to think that all he'll come home with are lessons such as how to shake his groove thang. That would be...um...even more disturbing.
This post brought to you in conjunction with Fatherhood Friday over at Dad Blogs. Click on over and check out all the great parenting related post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paying Homage to a Peach

The following is an excerpt from my post Behind Every Revolutionary Dad over at Dad Revolution:

“Buddy, I said come out of there.” I repeated for the second time, my voice getting a bit louder. “You need to listen to Daddy!” We were both tired, my three year old son and I, as well as a bit cranky stemming from the very recent transition we were making. No longer was he staying home all day with Mom, but rather I was getting him up early each morning to take him to preschool.

You can read the rest by clicking over here. As always, comments are all read and greatly appreciated.

**As a side note, I just realized that this was my 400th post! Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to stop by, read, and or leave a comment during the past three years. Your support and friendship have been an unanticipated source of great wealth in my life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sports Day Edition

(Jersey courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa's recent trip to Paris)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeling 'Up' the Creek

We were very excited a couple of nights ago. After all, we were we were finally opening the doors to a whole new world for Lukas. A world where he could travel to the furthest reaches of the globe, see magnificent sights, encounter strange and mythical creatures, and....

apparently have the bejeezus scared out of him too. We feel like such great parents right now.

Saturday night we implemented a family ritual I have long been waiting for. Family movie night. It was also Lukas' first ever movie. I'll repeat that for those of you skimming over this post. FIRST. EVER. MOVIE.

All he had watched up to that point were video episodes of kid television shows and short stories. You know, Elmo, Clifford, Max and Ruby. All pretty tame stuff full of love and hugs, rainbows, cute kittens, and lovable bunnies. At least I am pretty sure they were, since I rarely made it all the way through one of those episodes without getting distracted by life's task list.

Anyway, as a policy we have limited the amount of screen time Lukas has been exposed to as his brain has been developing, so a feature length movie has always been too long for us to commit to showing him. Until now. Mrs. LIAYF and I decided that now that he was past 3 years old it would be a good time to implement the movie night once a month. You know, make it a special occasion...with popcorn and hot chocolate, PJ's and snuggling on the couch.

Unfortunately, our planning didn't extend to carefully researching the movie we were going to show him. And it turned out to be one of those moments, as a parent, that no matter how good of a job you think you are doing (and I think Mrs. LIAYF and I are doing a pretty decent job) that you realize that you haven't quite done right by your child.

It's humbling, and also a bit of a jolt to your parenting ego. Mine at least.

No, I didn't pick up 'Cujo' at the video store, but at times during the movie 'Up' I was wondering if I had. All that we had heard about it was true. It was a great movie. We just didn't realize that it was rated 'PG' and recommended for school age children. I didn't do my research on this one and I feel like I let my son down a bit as a parent. That's because this movie had a lot of serious, and scary stuff for a 3 year old.

Packs of vicious dogs, shooting guns, a house fire, falling, blood, and death all led Lukas to call out a couple of times "OH! This is a scary movie!" While Mrs. LIAYF and I glanced at each other, a bit mortified of what we were showing him, and wondering if we should pull the plug. Instead, we chose the alternate strategy of explaining to him what he was seeing and emphasizing the braveness of the characters, and of course that it wasn't real. It seemed to work.

On a slightly humorous note, the thing that seemed to upset our son the most wan't any of those things, it was when the old man began throwing his belongings out of the house. "They're BREAKING those things!" he wailed, obviously upset. "It's ok, he can replace those things." We explained.

In the end, perhaps we didn't give Lukas enough credit. That's because once it was all over, it was as if the scary parts didn't even happen. He didn't mention them as we prepared for bed, didn't wake from any bad dreams, and hasn't talked about them since. He seemed to understand that it was just a story.

Still, I think we are going to do a lot more research before we choose our next family movie.

Any suggestions?
Image: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Friday, August 20, 2010

You Shouldn't Mosh Past 40

Man, I'm soooore today. True, at nearly 43 years of age I am sore most days, but especially so today. I just took 3 ibuprofen, hopefully they'll kick in pronto.

It's been a while since I've done this, but I went out to a live concert last night. It was a band that we really like and they put on a pretty fun show, so we made an exception and went on a weeknight.

But I'm paying for it today.

Once there, I hung around in back for a little while. But when the show began in earnest a buddy of mine wanted us to make our way to the front of the crowd. That was where the action was. There was a whole lot of uncontrolled jumping up and down to the rhythm of the music. Naturally, bodies were packed in pretty tight and slamming into each other all over the place. It was wild.

On more than on occasion I briefly lost sight of my buddy. It reminded me of a long ago time when Mrs. LIAYF and I were first dating. It was 1996 and we went to see a Pearl Jam show at Memorial stadium here in Seattle.

That was before we had cell phones and we were packed in tighter than sardines about 20 yards from the stage, swaying back and forth. With a big smile she turned to me and said "I'm going up!" And with that she was hoisted into the air and off she went surfing through the crowd on her back. I just sat their in disbelief, sure I wouldn't see her again the rest of the night. About 20 minutes later, exhilarated, she tapped me on the shoulder from behind. I kept her close by after that.

Last night I half expected my buddy to come surfing by just like my wife had done so many years before, but thankfully none of that happened. Neither one of us are anywhere close to our 20's after all.

I was up and down quite a bit though. I did a lot of squatting so that I wouldn't block the view of the gathered crowd behind. Let me tell you, that's hard on 40 year old knees.

Then, after about an hour or so Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew from The Presidents of the United States of America) finally wrapped up his set of kid tunes. It was the perfect time for me to grab my wired up little buddy and head back to find his Mom, who was relaxing on a picnic blanket somewhere back in the crowd.

Yep, I'm definitely too old for this.

This post brought to you in conjunction with Fatherhood Friday over at Dad Blogs. Click on over and check out all the great parenting related post.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monthly 5. What I'm Enjoying in August

Drinking: Redhook Copper Hook. Terrific malty Carmel flavor. Goes especially well with fresh piece of grilled Sockeye Salmon and buttery corn on the cob. Serve ice cold.

Watching: Flash Forward Season 1. This is a terrific new Sci-Fi series with a compelling concept. The only problem? It was cancelled after the season ended. Unbelievable. Perhaps ABC needed the room for another Bachelor spin-off. As if that's what we all need more of...

Reading: The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell. The 5th installment in Historical Fiction master Cornwell's series about the Danish invasions of England in the tenth century. Puts you right in the center of a shield wall fending off bloodthirsty attackers. Fun stuff.

Listening to: I and Love and You by The Avett Bros. The Avett Bros are fast becoming one of my A-list bands. They never fail to disappoint with their mix of bluegrass punk rock. This album is more mellow than the previous ones, but it works in a whole new terrific way.

Zillow.com. Ever since they sent me an email the other day indicating that my house value had increased nearly 19% in the past 30 days, I have been perusing their site. It's very informative. And the stats on my house have me counting my imaginary windfall and feeling much better about our future prospects.

So tell me, what are you enjoying this month readers?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Being Bro-Active

My son, who just turned 3 years old, has himself a buddy. A best friend. Watching them together, I realized that I could learn a few things from their relationship.

Theirs is a friendship that started from the moment they met. Lukas was only 8 months old the day we first took him to visit his daycare. Mrs. LIAYF and I were much like many nervous first new parents leaving their first born child in the hands of strangers for the first time. As we walked through the door there sat, in the middle of a floor mat, an extremely roly poly little guy clad only in a diaper. We sat Lukas down next to Brandon and they just looked at each other for a few silent moments.

Then Lukas burst into uncontrollable laughter. Brandon quickly followed suit.

They apparently followed each other around the rest of the afternoon while Mrs. LIAYF and I enjoyed our first 'post child' movie date. They have been inseparable since. Even back in December after we had to pull Lukas out of that daycare he continued to refer to Brandon as his best friend as the weeks mounted since they had seen each other.

So we arranged a play dates every couple of months. And upon seeing each other each time they acted as if they had just seen each other the day before, excited but never shy as if they were meeting again for the first time.

Then, as life so often does, circumstances changed once again for our family. Mrs. LIAYF would be working outside the home full time once again and we needed to get Lukas into a new preschool. As luck had it, our old daycare/preschool (we were on the original waiting list for 18 months) had an opening and moved us back to the top of the list. The boys would be together again. We were very excited.

Monday was Lukas' first day back at his new preschool. I wasn't sure what to expect as I dropped him off. But, even though no one else was familiar to him, he walked in, saw Brandon, then ran to him as they both sprinted around doing the happy dance. He had a terrific day. According to the teachers, they shadowed each other all day long.

As I was discussing his day with him, I have to admit that my mind wandered a bit. I was thinking about male friendship and envying my 3 year old son's ability to make and keep such a good friend through thick and thin.

I haven't really done that myself.

I am a fairly affable guy and I make friends easily, but as an adult with a small child I have not taken the time, or made the necessary investment to have any such close male friendships. I can't remember the last time I went out without my wife, and or son. I am committed to spending time with them. I have a lot of guys I consider friends, but honestly am lacking those one or two with whom I can open up to as a close friend should.

I also realized that I wanted that. Need that really. And that getting to that point will take putting myself out there more than I have in recent years. So, with that in mind, I decided it was high time to be proactive. I called up a couple guy friends of mine and set up a guys night out. It'll be this weekend. Obviously, by nature this will not lead to the same type of friendship that Lukas and his friend share. And that's not what I'm looking for.

But, it's a good start for a dad in need of a buddy who isn't 3 years old.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Go Around Again!

Yesterday, I had one of those parenting moments that you don’t soon forget.

Let me set the scene. It was a scorching hot mid 90’s Seattle afternoon. To beat the heat we were hanging out at a local Seattle wading pool. As could be expected, we weren’t alone. Stretching out along the surrounding lawn were dozens of small children darting back and forth around the pool under the watchful eye of their dutiful parents.

We had set our picnic blanket out in a shady spot surrounded on all sides by families with similar plans. Sitting there in our bare feet and sipping on our cold drinks, it was a refreshing break from the stifling heat that stagnated in our air conditioned-less house.

Then it happened. And, almost as fast, it was over.

A woman walking a couple of dogs passed between our blankets. The father, upon seeing this happen turned to his 2 year old daughter and said “Look at those dog go!’

Then another dad, who was sitting with his wife and kids to our right piped up “Where are they going?”

A third dad, who happened to be passing by at that very moment chimed in “To a dog party?!”

Without much hesitation, I realized it was my turn. “It’s up in that tree!” I enthusiastically added, pointing a large nearby fir tree.

And with that we all simultaneously burst out into laughter realizing that we had just shared a moment that could only come from being the parents of small children.

It was probably the first ever ‘Go Dogs Go’ flash mob.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Things have been a bit quiet here at LIAYF this past week. That's because Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas and I have been on our first family "camping" trip.

I used the quote marks because we didn't actually pitch a tent and sleep on the ground, but rather stayed in our own small fishing cabin. With mattresses.

I know to some of you die hard campers that may not count as real camping, but to us it certainly did as we cooked our food outdoors, roasted marshmallows & made Smores around the camp fire, didn't shower in four days, and most significant of all were without an Internet connection the whole time.

Plus, we told Lukas we were camping so that is our story and we're sticking to it.

The camp site was at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island here in Washington State, and as the name suggests they were located just off the beach overlooking beautiful Elger Bay on Puget Sound. As a bonus, there was also a Center for Wooden Boats annex at the camp site, so campers could rent out motor, sail, or row boats to explore the surrounding bay.

We also took the opportunity to plan a couple of hikes suitable for an energetic 3 year old. Lukas' first official hike (accomplished all on his own) was an approximately 3 mile round trip to Cranberry Lake, which was really just a large bog with an abundance of vegetation growing out of it.

I'm pretty sure we would have completed the hike in half the time, had we not had to stop at every Salmon berry bush along the way to nourish ourselves.

In all, the place couldn't have been more family friendly as the 40 small cabins were mostly occupied by families with younger children. Thus it didn't take long for Lukas to find several other kids his age to tell what to do make friends with. Plus, it was far enough removed from the bright lights of the city that we also had an amazing view of the Perseid Meteor Shower on Wednesday night.

Oh yeah, I made a lot of wishes that night. Don't worry, I'll not forget all the little people once they start coming true.

In fact, we had such a great time that we decided to stay an extra night and will be planning early for a return trip next Summer with a larger group of friends.

It will most likely be the next time I am offline for 4 straight days.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Audible Shock and Awe

OH. MY. GOD! My ears may just go into audible shock in short order.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for Mrs. LIAYF and I (me mostly) to muster the energy to speak to each other, or hear each other, over the yelling and screaming that now emanates from Lukas' tiny lungs.

Sure, many of my regular readers may be laughing because they remember my recent post about how the Terrible Two's are a myth.

I received an almost universal response of "The two's were perfect. It's the three's that you have to worry about!"

To those who would chuckle, I can only say "Not so fast." No, Lukas has not suddenly turned into some kind of demon child who gets upset at the drop of a hat. No, on the contrary, he is still the adorable boy that we have always known.

Just at a higher volume.

The boy talks a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. He babbles almost non stop. About everything under the sun. And do you know what? Yes, you guessed it. He seems to have to YELL it enthusiastically. Often with spittle flying from his lips in all directions.

In fact, if we gave him red cherries to eat, a moment later he would probably have sprayed a pattern on the kitchen wall interesting enough to make the CSI folks take note. He's that energetic about what he has to say.

So, in a feeble attempt to counteract this newly developed verbal enthusiasm, Mrs. LIAYF and I have taken to repeating the following mantra over and over. And over again.

"Softer voice Lukas. We can hear you, we are right here."

"Soft voice."

My 42 year old ringing ears are holding out hope that it sinks in.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

National Night Out

I'm recovering today from last night's National Night Out. If you have never heard of National Night Out, it's officially a crime prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

Unofficially it is a large collection of block parties. Close your street, bring out the grills, furniture and, of course, beer and get to know your neighbors. I heard a figure that Seattle had nearly 1600 blocks registered. Mrs. LIAYF and I are our block watch captain's and thus were in charge of organizing and hosting the event for our street. If you are not doing this on your block, by all means put it on your calendar for next year. It's a terrific way to meet and catch up with your neighbors.

Here are a few random observations from our Seattle block party.

1. We gave out fliers to 45 houses, and had 16 families represented. It was decent participation but It's still hard to fathom the number of families who didn't take a few minutes to at the very least walk out to the center of the block and say hello to The people who live next to them.

2. The past couple of years we hadn't officially registered our participation with the Seattle Police Dept, but they sent a patrol car out anyway. It was cool for the kids. This year however, when we called in our request we were told that we had to be officially registered to have a patrol car stop by. So we did, but this time they didn't show up.

3. We must have close to 30 kids under the age of 10 on our block. With the street closed, they rode rampant up and down the street all night. For them, it was pure bliss.

4. A one point a large group of boys congregated on one particular lawn, playing wildly. I dubbed it The Yard of the Flies.

5. At the height of the festivities one of the houses whose occupants didn't show up to the party apparently ordered a pizza. The delivery guy drove around the barrier, weaving though hoards of small children on bikes, until he was stopped by all the tables in the street. Seriously?

6. The residents on the next street over from us are a bunch of showoffs. As if it wasn't enough that they had LIVE music that we could hear, then they started shooting off some fireworks too. Taking notes.

7. One couple decided to eat the tickets they had to the Seattle Mariners game and attend the party instead. Judging by the M's horrific season so far, that was a wise choice.

8. I called it officially over at 10:45 PM without having convinced anyone else to take over for us as block captains. Looks like we will be hosting again next year.

9. The downside of hosting the party is having to clear the street and clean up after it is all done, which is a drag.

10. The upside is getting to take home all of the leftover beer.
How about you readers. Did any of you also participate in the National Night Out?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sole Man

I'm not sure what possessed me to grab them, after they had sat up there on my shoe rack for at least the past couple of years. Perhaps it was because it was Summer, I was dressing more casually at work, I needed a pair of brown loafers, and this pair was more lightweight than the shoes I had been wearing.

Whatever the reason, they were the pair I chose that day and I didn't give it any more thought. Thinking back on it, I do remember a couple of instances while walking in them that things felt kind of.....different. But certainly not different enough to make me stop and investigate what was up.

Later that day, as I was finishing up my lunch, an Outlook reminder flashed on my computer screen. Good thing too, since I had forgotten all about it. An impromptu meeting had been called earlier that morning. We weren't told why, but it was important since not only was my boss attending, but my boss's boss, and my boss's boss's boss.

In other words, I HAD to attend. And it was starting in 5 minutes a few buildings from mine. Then as I quickly gathered up my notebook and writing pad and made my way out my door THWACK! I heard it.

What the?

I looked down with amazement as I looked at my right foot, whose socked toes were staring me right in the face! The sole of the shoe had nearly completely separated from the leather. I couldn't take a step without them clapping together.

"You've gotta be kidding!" I grumbled to no one in particular as I weighed the options in my mind. Not enough time to glue them together. No material to sew them with. "Ah ha!" I thought, as I grabbed a rubber band off my desk and attempted to quickly wrap it around my shoe. It busted on the second twist, leading me to curse a bit more under my breath. I tried again with a thicker band which thankfully held, but was extremely obvious as it was light tan in color against a dark brown shoe.

It would have to do. I would just avoid people as much as possible.

But as I walked out my door not 10 paces in front of me were my boss's boss and boss's boss's boss! They turned to me "Headed over?" they asked. "Meet you there in a minute," I said as I veered off in another direction, pausing to give them enough time to distance themselves. Then, as I exited the front door of the building confident that I was clear I ran into two other colleagues from another office headed the same way. I couldn't avoid it this time. We would have to walk together.

As I walked I made small talk, trying my best to keep them from glancing down at my still bound shoe. Suddenly, I heard a SNAP! as the rubberband shot off the end of my foot and landed out in front of our path. Grrr...how embarrassing. I wasn't sure if they had noticed, then again I'm not sure how they couldn't have. "See you there" I confidently said and thwacked my way ahead of them to the building we were meeting in.

Entering the room, I seized the a chair in the back row, hoping I could sit there unnoticed. Of course that wasn't going to happen as another group of colleagues entered, saw me and took chairs surrounding me. I certainly didn't want them to look down and see my toes sticking out of my shoe. Even as benign as it was, it was one that I didn't want people to joke about around the water cooler for years to come.

Thinking about it during the meeting, I knew that I would never have had this problem before becoming a father. Now, I just don't have the same kind of time to be as thorough with the little things such as checking the soundness of my shoes. C'est la vie!

After the meeting ended I lingered, leaving with the last person out the door who happened to be heading my way. "I'll see you back at the office" I said to her. "I'm going to make a pit stop first."

And with that I shuffled off in the other direction, hoping no one else would notice.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Helping Out - It's Not Child Labor

I love that whenever I have a task to complete around the house, particularly when it is outside, Lukas is excited to help out. He can't wait to get on his 'work' clothes and get dirty. The enthusiasm he shows for what I would otherwise consider miserable work, often leads to another fun father and son bonding moment.

For instance Sunday afternoon, thanks to my father's pickup truck being available (I'm choosing to focus on the fact that it was available to use and NOT that it was here because he and a good portion of my family are all traipsing around Paris - probably gulping red wine, eating stinky cheese, and gnawing on baguettes as I type this), I decided it was a golden opportunity to avail myself of the last of the Big ol Dirt Pile.

It certainly wasn't something I had been looking forward to doing. Truth be told, I was kind of dreading it seeing how we have officially entered the Dog Days of Summer. However, as I began to load the first of countless shovelfuls of soil into my wheelbarrow, Lukas came rolling up with his own wheelbarrow ready and willing to earn his supper.

I was happy for the help. We shoveled, we sweated, we stopped to eat peas from our garden. We even stopped to throw a few immature plums into the bushes just for the fun of it.

And, after a couple of hours of hard labor, we were good and ready for the fine meal Mrs. LIAYF had just pulled off the grill. Food always tastes better after hard labor. Especially when it's accomplished with the help of your 3 year old son and his little wheelbarrow.

It even made me forget for just a little while that I was here in Seattle shoveling dirt, and NOT traveling through France eating stinky cheese.