Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jump! Go Ahead and Jump

"This way!  Follow me.  Follow me!!"  was his plea, as Lukas waved his arms trying to get the attention of a couple of the other kids nearby. 

He clearly had a plan.

But the the other 3 and 4 year old in question weren't exactly cooperating on this Sunday morning as I watched a few feet away holding my steaming paper cup full of my favorite caffeinated beverage.  They were zipping this way and that, energy bursting forth as they got their first tastes of what the facilities where the birthday party we were attending had to offer.

We were at a kids bouncing place, complete with several large inflated 'rooms' strategically laid out for maximum kid enjoyment. 

I was still perfectly happy occupying my spot, chatting with the other parents who happened to wander by, moving only when I needed to keep my eye on my little guy.  But, seeing Lukas becoming a bit frustrated by the lack of cooperation from his little buddies, I set my coffee down in a safe place, kicked off my shoes, and called out to him "I'm coming Buddy. Which way are we going?"

Now, there weren't any other parents on the bouncers, but there were no rules specifically prohibiting it either, so when Lukas' eyes grew wide and his smile big, and he responded with "This way!" jumping into an inflatable that turned out to be a giant maze with slides, I dutifully followed suit.  Mrs. LIAYF, not to be outdone, also came along on the next pass.

It was a great decision.  That's because I jumped, slid, bounced and laughed with him - and a lot of the other kids, plus some parents - for nearly the next hour and a half straight.  And Lukas had a terrific time.  Honestly though, I haven't had that much fun in quite some time either.  Including a morning at the very same complex a couple of weeks before.  I hadn't really participated on that morning, but this time I had the bug.

After it was all said and done, we were lining up to move to the pizza and birthday cake portion of the morning, and although I was certainly showing my 40 and 3 years by being a bit spent as well as overheated, I was ready to go again the next week.  There was only one small problem. 

There were no more birthday parties planned amongst Lukas' circle of friends.  What a bummer.  I even joked to a couple of the other dads that we should just show up the next week with our kids and blend in to whatever party was going on.  Everyone's heard of Wedding Crashers.  Well, we could be Bouncy Crashers.  They all laughed, but none actually seemed game.

Oh well, I'll get over it.  But I'm sure glad I decided to set down my Cup of Joe and join with my son in some unadulterated fun.  I need to keep reminding myself to do things like that.  To enjoy these moments as they present themselves. 

Becuse before I am ready for it, they won't be there for me to take advantage of anymore.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Holy Dry-Shorts Batman!

Another milestone has been reached here at Casa LIAYF.

Lukas, who has been in underwear for well over a year now, still has his occasional accidents. This happens mostly at preschool, and because he gets so focused on what he is doing, or playing with that he doesn't realize that he needs to go until it's too late. So, it's an ongoing process.

But recently we have been employing a reward systems for different types of good behavior and promised him that if he went for a week straight without being wet, excluding sleep time, we would buy him brand new underwear.   And he would get to pick them out, with any characters he wanted.

Well, this past week after several near misses, he finally did it! He was dry all day for a whole week straight.  We were very proud of him, and let him know it with pelnty of hugs, kisses, and high fives.  Plus Mrs. LIAYF, who picked him up from preschool, drove him straight to Target to pick out which new underwear he wanted.

After careful deliberation, Lukas decided go old school and pass on the Marvel underwear as well as the Pixar underwear which sported  the likes of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Cars, and Nemo, for none other than a five pack of skivies sporting the Superheros from The Justice League, one of my childhood favorites.  These included Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and, of course, Batman.  What can I say, the boy loves the concept of Superheros.
I heard all about the selection from a super charged and grinning 3 year old when I arrived home from work Friday.  But that actually wasn't even the best part.  I was also greeted with "Close your eyes Daddy.  We have something for you too!".  I couldn't think what it could have been, but obliged nonetheless and also held out my hands as instructed. 

Then when the lovely Mrs. LIAYF handed something to Lukas, who then placed the soft item into my hands, I opened my eyes to behold....my very own pair!

I could use Bruce Waynes $$ too!

What a surprise!  Apparently my being dry all week also qualified me Superhero underwear too.  Believe it or not, these are the first pair I have ever owned.  I never even had Underoos as a kid as I think I was too old when they came out.
Then, after a cleansing run through the wash cycle, Lukas and I both got a chance to wear our new super shorts all day Saturday.  We had a lot of fun too.  (Well, that's if you qualify a middle-aged dad running through the house in his underwear singing Na-na-na-nuh, Na-na-na-nuh, Na-na-na-nuh Batman! as fun.) 

And while Lukas insisted on wearing his new underwear backwards (because that way he could see the Superheros, and thus causing the front to be in back with the narrower fabric slipping into his little cheeks), I was able to officially dispell any notions that if you wear Batman underwear at night and lean back pointing them to the sky - with your hands on your hips - that you can make the Bat signal appear.

Anyway, the process of potty training can be a long ordeal, and using rewards to speed up the process has proven to be a beneficial, at least for us. 

Congratulations Lukas.  You are a Super good boy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Older Dad Blues

Good afternoon readers.  It's Spring!  It's Friday! The Sun is Shining in Seattle!  Now, if I were only able to replace the whole 'working like a dog' thing with spending time with my lovely wife and son, this would qualify as the perfect day.

Despite being inundated at the office, I am also spending time over at DadRevolution today as well.  For those of you still foggy from lack of coffee no, I haven't been cloned, but merely have a post up over there for your reading enjoyment.  It touches on the physical challenges of becoming a father at roughly he same time I turned half of 80 years old.
Here is an excerpt:

I got a bit of a late start at being a dad. My amazing son was born at the end of June in 2007, and barely two months later I turned 40. We didn’t hold a big party for my 40th birthday party, since Mrs. LIAYF and I were still in sleep deprivation induced shock at the time. Plus, I’m not sure I would have known how to respond to not only the jokes about being over the hill, but also about how old I would be when Lukas entered High School, got married, or had kids of his own.
Sure, there’s a lot of good natured kidding around when it comes to subject of being an older parent, but you know what? It is, at least partially anyway, based in reality. By the time you are in your 40′s - unless you are some sort of health freak – you’re slowing down considerably from your earlier days of adulthood. Heck, my parents were in their early 20′s when they had my sister, brother, and I. And although 3 kids in three years sounds rough (Mom, you were amazing), I often wonder if the dealing with 1 kid when you are 40 is roughly the same equivalent...

To read the rest, including a painful turn I took a being a 'horse', you can click here.

How about you?  At what age did you first become a parent, and how did that treat you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not ALL Fun and Games

Parenting can be Super hard at times
I know that I have a certain voice with this blog.   I tend to blog mostly about all the fun I have with Lukas as a first time father.  About the cute things Lukas says, or the poignancy and humor I experience as the parent of a now 3 year old boy. I do this because that is what my take away is.  I love being a parent, and really do enjoy spending time with Lukas. 

But, of course as all parents are well aware the exercise of raising children is by far the hardest endeavor we will ever undertake.  To put it another way, this is hard work people.  If you are a parent, you already know that.  And although I don't often blog about it, there are a lot of aspects of being a dad which I would certainly rather not have to face.  I just choose not to make them a primary focus here.

All that being said, I thought I'd take this opportunity to list, from my perspective, a few of the more challenging aspect of raising a 3 year old. If nothing else, to prove that I can talk about the difficulties as well as the good stuff.  Yes, there are others as well, but these immediately come to mind.  They will probably even sound familiar to most of you as they are hardly unique to my experience.
Making Sure He Gets Enough Sleep -  I once read that the most significant benefit to the mental development of young children was making sure they got enough sleep.  Every since Lukas was born Mrs. LIAYF and I go out of our way to ensure that Lukas gets the proper amount of rest. That includes giving him the opportunity to nap every day, and getting him to bed at a decent hour each night.  We have done pretty well so far with this, and consider ourselves fortunate that he has only failed to nap once or twice.   Still, sleep is always an issue and recently bedtime has often become a struggle to get him to stay in bed. (Sound familiar?) When he doesn't, he can have a rough following day.

Providing Consistent Discipline - Holy smokes 3 year olds can be super cute.  This is especially true when they are asking you to consider reversing one of your disciplinary decisions.  Trying to provide a consistent message in the face of "Please Daddy, I won't do that ANYMORE."  is usually a no win situation.  I give in a lot more than I know I should, but when I have to hold firm I find it one of the hardest things I've ever dealt with. 

Dealing With Bad Dreams - Lukas has an extremely active imagination.  It's not surprising to me that this manifests itself in the form of scary dreams.  Mrs. LIAYF and I do our best to assure him that there are no monsters hiding under his bed at night.  And when he asks "Well, what if there are?" we just assure him that if there ever were, they would certainly be the good kind.  It's tough to deal with those middle of the night wake-up cries.  More for how how it scares him than the amount of sleep I lose.

Teaching Him Proper Stranger Caution - Our son is an extremely social person.  He has been since he was born.  And while it is adorable to see him say hello to strangers, often bringing smiles to their faces, we also have to teach him to have the proper amount of caution when it comes to people he doesn't know.  We have to consistently let him know that it's only ok to talk to strangers when he is with a trusted adult.  He actually said to Mrs. LIAYF the other day "I can only talk to a stranger if I know they are nice, right?"  To which she had to say no, it is more complicated than that.  That bad people can pretend to be nice so he should only talk to an adult he doesn't know if he is with one who he does.

Dealing With Rejection - This one is probably the toughest for me to navigate as a father.  As I mentioned, Lukas is an outgoing boy and prone to be a leader type (a bit bossy).  Naturally, this can come across as a bit much to some of the other kids who, at the 3-4 age will simply let you know that 'you can't play with us', or 'you are not my friend'.  Of course, kids at this age are fickle and who is a friend one week, is not the next and he is no exception to this rule.  But with Lukas, we can tell how much it really hurts him if he is excluded.  Trying to explain the intricacies of such behavior to him in a way that helps him to understand and also makes him feel better, is a very difficult process.

There you have it.  The aspects of parenting which I find most difficult at this juncture.  I'm sure they will change and evolve as my skills and experiences as a parent do as well.  They don't at all tarnish the joy I get from being a dad, they are simply part of the package.

How about you readers?  What are the most difficult aspects of parenting you face on a daily basis?

By the way, I have been nominated to be on the Circle of Moms Top Daddy Blogger list.  I have installed a button on the right sidebar.  If you like the blog, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to cast a vote for me.  Voting can be done daily, and ends April 4th.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I'm afraid I may have lost a family 'heirloom' and I'm bummed.  I wanted to give it to Lukas, as I am sure he would appreciate its intrinsic value. 

I hadn't thought of this item in quite some time.  But I certainly remember growing up with it on the shelf of my bedroom.  I am also fairly positive I had it when I moved into my first house 20 some odd years ago.  From there however things get pretty fuzzy.

I thought of it a couple of days ago when Mrs. LIAYF showed me a divided box of interesting specimens from the natural world - fossils, slices of rock, and geodes.  She had collected them for several years and recently put them together for him.  I looked at it and thought "I know what would go perfectly as an addition to his collection!"  But I wasn't sure where to look.

That got me thinking.  Where might it be? 

Tonight, I returned to the garage to search for it.  No such luck.  But I did find...

 My pickle jar of original Mt. St. Helens ash, that I scooped off the top of a fence at our Southwest Washington state farm back in May of 1980.

My jar of 'soil' from the ground breaking ceremony for Safeco Field, dug up by yours truly back on March 8th, 1997.  No, it's not just another jar of chunky ash.


An old cigar box filled with, among other things not one - but two harmonica's, a few cool old coins dating back to the 1850's, and a mint Topps baseball card featuring perhaps the best right handed pure hitter to ever grace the diamond - Edgar Martinez.  The real value in this card however, is that it proves that Edgar at one time actually ran.

Now as awesome as all of these things are, they were not the item I was looking for.  As a matter of fact the heirloom I was looking for was actually waaaay cooler than any of these things.

Frustrated, and now fearful that I had permanently misplaced my most prized boyhood possession in desperation I turned to Mrs. LIAYF to see if perhaps she had seen it.

"Honey, I seem to have misplaced my petrified turd.  The one my grandpa gave me when I was a boy.  It was found in a fossil field.  Have you see it?"

(Blank stare)

"It's about this high (holding my hands about 8 inches apart) and the bottom is flat so it could sit upright like a sculpture. Ring any bells?

She just replied with an incredulous look "You have a petrified turd?". 

"Well, I did have one."  was all I could muster.

And now I am afraid I may have lost it for good, which is too bad since altough Mrs. LIAYF may not comprehend, I think Lukas would have really understood its value.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mr. Hide

"Let's play Hide and Seek!" was the greeting I received as I entered our living room on Sunday. 

Despite the fact that I had a lingering cold and nasty cough the result of which had me feeling like death left out on the counter with the lid off all night, I simply couldn't refuse.  The forces that hold the fabric of the universe together (well, this one anyway) would be in serious jeopardy if I begged off.  I am Daddy and that's my job.

"Sure Buddy" I responded with a smile.  "Okay Daddy, you go and hide and I will find you!" Lukas instructed me.  And with that I was off to find a suitable place to hide from my 3 year old. 

As I mentioned I wasn't feeling all that well so naturally the creative center of my brain, which I am convinced must be roughly the size of a grain of rice and buried deep down - somewhere behind the primal stem perhaps? - wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders.  My first attempt to hide found me squeezed into a corner behind a wall one room over. This seemed reasonable, since in past renditions of the game this usually worked pretty well.

This time Lukas found me in 5 seconds flat.  "Okay, let me try this again"  I said then went off and hid behind the inward opening bathroom door, which was a surefire bet for causing lots of searching.  But again I was found by a grinning boy, with little effort. Likewise I met with similar FAILS when attempting to hide under the covers of the bed, and also standing near the back entry way with a backpack held in front of my body.   Lukas is older now, and obviously wise to all my dated hiding ploys.

Then I realized that I had be more creative.  By this time I was smiling and laughing a lot which helped spark a new idea.  "Stay here and count to 10 Buddy" I told him as I left him in the upstairs bedroom and entered the hallway.  Then I lifted the rather squeaky baby gate that still closes off the stairway to the main floor and fake stomped a few times to make it sound like I was going down to hide. 

Then, with my 40 plus year old Ninja skills I slipped quietly into the bathroom with nary a squeak of the Fir floors listening as Lukas came out and immediately headed downstairs to look for me.  "Daddy, where are you?" he called from down in the living room, to my obvious pleasure.  Yes! Point to Dad.  Even though he is getting good at this game, I proved I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I have a feeling I should enjoy it while I can, though.  My days are most definitely numbered.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Open Your Pie Hole!

image: pievscake.com
Yes!  It's Monday readers.  Now, normally I wouldn't be very excited about the arrival of Monday, but this one is different.  That's because this beginning of the work week is a holiday. Okay, it's not an official holiday, but it IS one that I can whole heartedly get behind.

Happy Pie Day to you all.

With the recent focus on the cupcake as the dessert treat de jur, it seems pie has been flying under the sweets radar.  But I personally think you get much more delicious goodness for your money with a slice of pie. This day my friends, pie takes a back seat to no dessert!

As for this 'holiday', It's a little known fact that one of Nostradamus' more obscure predictions had a guy called  Seattledad 3.14 times more likely to eat pie on March 14th 2011 than any other day in the year.  It seems I now have the power to make that prediction come true.  This is despite the fact we have no pie in the house, which can only be remedied by another after work stop which, as I have noted before, can get a bit dicey at times. Ah, but duty calls.

Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I did celebrate Pie Day Eve on Sunday with a stop at Seattle's Shoe Fly Pie Company.  Aren't all the best holiday's celebrated the night before?  If you don't think so, tell me the last Flag Day Eve you let loose.  Anyway, we were out for a weekend afternoon stroll in the rain, which we are contractually obligated to do once a month as Seattleites (It's in the contract, along with a mandatory stop at Starbucks and a stop at Pike Place Market for fish tossing practice), when it really started to pour and we took refuge in the pie store.  It was a good call.

The hardest part was trying to decide which of the tasty pies to try.  We finally settled on a slice each of Rhubarb, Cherry, and Coconut Creme.  Lukas picked the Rhubarb, which before eating a bite was his favorite despite the fact that he had no idea what Rhubarb was.  "Don't worry, it's yummy" Mrs. LIAYF assured him.  He agreed after his first taste, but quickly changed his mind once he got a taste of the delicious Cherry slice.  Then, when I slipped a forkful of the Coconut Creme into his mouth his eyes grew wide and he let out a prolonged "Mmmmmmmm!"  We had a winner, and Lukas now had a favorite kind of pie.

Plus, by the time we had finished our slices, the rain had softened enough for us to begin our trek back to our house with  proper sustenance to get us there.  I would venture that the LIAYF family did Pie Day Eve up the way it is supposed to be done. 

So Happy Pie Day to you all.  I hope are lucky enough to score a slice of one or more of the kinds of pie you like best.  We never did get to find out in the famous kids story what were the nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best, but in closing I will leave you with mine - which are in no particular order.

Strawberry Rhubarb
Coconut Creme
Key Lime
Lemon Meringue

Tell me readers.  What is your favorite kind of pie?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Little Dudes Coupe

Gentlemen Start Your Shopping!

I laugh about it now.  There are a lot of opportunities to laugh at your former self after becoming a parent.  I mean, they seemed so unsanitary, and certainly not a place I would ever want MY kids hanging out in.  Grimy is probably the word that comes to mind to best describe my feelings towards them.

Of course now that I am a father - a full time working father who also drives his son to and from school- I know better.  There are times, like tonight, when they seem nothing short of a Godsend.

I'm referring, by the way, to those shopping cart cars that line the entrances of local grocery stores. Yes, those grimy, beaten up red cars with the yellow roofs attached to the front of a shopping cart. 

But new dad's take note.  Now, if I am lucky enough to score one of them while stopping in to pick up a few items for dinner on a solo trip home at the end of the day with Lukas, I consider myself golden.

Take last night for example.  After a long hard day at his daycare Lukas was T.I.R.E.D.  Unfortunately, there wasn't anything at the house to make for dinner so I had to stop at the grocery on the way home.  I had tried a walk in with him under similar circumstances a few days before, with disastrous consequences.  He was mobile, tired, hungry, and grabby. Needless to say that outing didn't end so well. 

But last night we scored a red car on the way in to the store.  He actually wanted a blue version he spied as we pulled up, but once we got there, it had been commandeered by a set of twins.  Lukas just looked a me with a 'Dude! Where's my car?' expression, before jumping into a red model.  From there I was able to dart from aisle to aisle looking for items on my list, keeping him entertained by zipping around the store at a jogging pace making hairpin turns around newly formed displays of crackers and soda.

I have found the key is to treat the ride like it's the 24 hours of Le Mans.  And most importantly, to keep moving.  I don't need to tell you how many 'treats' they keep on the bottom shelves at these places. There were several occasions last night where zoomed right past an item while Lukas' arm and finger were outstretched and he implored me to "Stop! Stop! Look! Look Daddy! Look!"

There were even a couple of times when he tried to crawl out the window of the cart car while it was still moving, ala Bo or Luke Duke in the General Lee.  I think I even heard him let out a high pitched "Yeeeee Haaaaw!" as we passed that same blue car sailing fast down one aisle.  I could have swore one of the twins looked a little like Roscoe P. Coltrain. 

And when he wasn't itching to get out and grab something tasty that we passed, he was actually hamming it up with the other patrons.  There were several folks who were caught off guard by a tiny little voice inside the car saying "Hello!" as we passed them.  Invariably, this brought a few smiles to some otherwise serious faces.

No, I no longer have disdain for the grocery cart kids cars.  I now think they are a pretty awesome way for me to keep my son entertained and out of trouble while I am getting some necessary shopping done. And despite being foiled from grabbing all the goodies the store has to offer as he passes, I think the amusement park ride type of atmosphere has Lukas sold on them too.

Plus, as the 3 year old smiling blonde who came up to talk to him while he sat in the car in the checkout line can attest, the fairer sex seem to dig a guy with a cool set of wheels too.

Vroom, Vroom indeed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hot Potato

I've always been a competitive person.  Maybe it's because I watched, and participated in, multitudes of sports from a young age.  Whatever the reason, I really enjoy the drama and the suspense that naturally comes along with the buildup and conclusion to almost any competition. 

Of course, I suspect most people are wired this way to some extent, but for me this competitive nature can sometimes manifest itself from even the most mundane of situations.

Including pre-school playtime.

Such was the case Tuesday when I entered Lukas' classroom to pick him up and head for home.  As I usually do, I entered and peered over the wall of cubby's that separates that area from the stage where many of the organized activities take place, such as story time.  But on Tuesday another activity was on the agenda.  A game of Hot Potato.

The game was just getting started when I entered and Lukas was one of approximately 22 kids gathered around in a circle while a small boom box played kid tunes.  I quickly noticed that the kids were passing around a pillow sized, inflated Mylar potato.  And whoever was left holding it when the music stopped, was OUT of the game.

I sat and watched as the game went on, and on, and ON some more.  But with each halting of the music, Lukas would once again be safe and I could feel my excitement rising.  Then, when they were down to approximately 8 kids left and the circle was tightened together I started to think that he might just have a shot a winning the whole thing.

About the same time I started to get extremely nervous every time the 'potato' ended up in his hands, especially when the music had been playing for a lengthy amount of time.  I might have even verbally implored him to 'Get rid of it quick, Buddy!" but I'm not sure, because in the excitement things were happening fast.

Then, another dad pulled up beside me, and quickly realized what he was witnessing.  I'm fairly certain he too could feel the excitement in the air.  "He's got game" he offered with a grin.  It was during his next turn with the sizzling starch that Lukas went to pass it to the next kid and it slipped out of his hands darting out of the circle. "Ooooooh" the other dad and I gasped, as another 3 year old boy, one who I had long since assessed as the biggest threat, went to grab it.  When he did, the music stopped. 

"Yes!" we mouthed to each other.

That left only 3 kids still in the game, including Lukas.  Once again the music started, and the potato was passed.  Lukas survived yet another near miss.  From behind the wall, his cheering section hooted as it was now down to the final two in a truly thrilling match-up.

Back and forth went the potato.  On went the music.  The tension in the air was palpable as I held my breath despite my racing heart.  Then, when I thought I couldn't take it anymore and might have to avert my eyes, the music stopped for the last time!!

And Lukas was left holding the potato!

"Ahhhhhh!" We groaned from the bleachers.  The other dad turned to me and joked. "I guess that means no dinner for him".  I just smiled as I walked over to Lukas to congratulate him on a good clean game.  As it turned out, they couldn't really hear us over the music.  And neither actually seemed to care who won. 

Lukas just looked at me, grabbed a book and asked "Can you read this to me Daddy?"  "You need to go to the bathroom first" I responded.

Then I added, "I'll race you there".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

'Cool Toys' Story

Hours of Good Clean Fun

This past weekend, walking into the kitchen I was greeted by the following matter of fact statement:

"Brandon has more toys than I do".

Lukas was about to leave with his mother for a play date at his buddy's house.  He must have spent some time leading up to that contemplating the last time he had visited him, and all the cool things his friend had to play with and share.

"Well, you have quite a few toys too buddy."  I responded.  It's true, he does have a large number of toys to play with, but in reality we have shied away from making those toys with a lot of bells and whistles.  So, in reality Brandon doesn't have a lot more toys.  He just has more cool toys.  At least perhaps in the mind of a 3-year-old boy. You know, ones that make lots of blasting noises and shoot thing across the room.

As it neared time for them to step out the door I reminded him to grab a few toys of his own to fill his backpack and share with Brandon.  At that he went to the other room and returned a few minutes later with a slightly heavier pack.

Then, according to Mrs. LIAYF, later when our little guy and she arrived at thier destination and gathered in his friends living room, Lukas pulled off his backpack and emptied it's contents onto the middle of the floor.

It contained, among a small number of other things:  A few random finger puppets and a rock.

Yes, I said a rock.  And not even a very cool one at that.  Just a small gray round one with an old chunk of cement crusted on it.   And Finger Puppets?!  He almost never plays with those (maybe a couple of times in nearly 4 years). In fact, these are quite possibly the lamest excuse for toys ever. That is if you can even call them toys.  Mrs. LIAYF had told him to pack his red rocket, but apparently he decided against it.

At that point Brandon came over and grabbed Lukas and they both went off to play with his cool toys, leaving Mrs. LIAYF to converse with the other boys parents while the rather sad display sat awkwardly between them the whole time, not to be touched until it was time for them to leave.

Brandon's parents must have secretly thought we were taking minimalism to the extreme.  Good thing he didn't also packed one of his large collection of sticks as well.  It might have been too much.

I'm not sure if Lukas planned it that way or not.  He can't be that ingenious at 3.  Can he? But nonetheless, point taken.

SeattleDad's now on the lookout for some more cool toys for his son.