Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rollin' in the Dough

Let's face it folks, if you live anywhere North of, say, the 35th parallel you are in what can be referred to as the 'Dog Days of Winter' (hey, even L.A. saw recent snow). Here at our house, the weather outside has been frightful. And, though work cancellations are delightful...not being able to place Lukas in daycare for a bit of playtime with his buddies has brought on a serious bought of cabin fever for all of us.

So, with all the local playrooms closed due to the weather and us not wanting to venture out into the biting cold for a walk or stroll, Mrs. LIAYF had the great idea of making playdough. I hadn't known that you could make it at home, and surprisingly enough to me, it turned out to be just what the boredom doctor ordered.

Lukas was as concentrated with the whole process - from mixing and making the dough, to playing with it - as we have seen him in quite some time. We had everything we needed around the house to make it, and he had a ton of fun using cookie cutters, baking tins, and utensils to shape and form the finished dough. It kept him occupied for nearly an hour! That's a toddler eternity.

So, if you have a young kid or two and need something to do, consider making some dough. Mrs. LIAYF found this recipe on the web, but you could do some research of your own.

Playdough Recipe (need one bowl of these ingredients for each color)
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
1/4 cup salt
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar

Mix each bowl of dry ingredients well. In a separate measuring cup combine 1/3 cup boiling water (or just hot water if working with toddlers), food coloring and 1/2 Tablespoon oil. Add this entire mixture to each bowl of dry ingredients and knead well (add more flour or salt if too sticky). Seal in plastic container or ziplock bag to store. Will last longer in the refrigerator.

This playdough is non-toxic, but too salty to taste good to a kid. However, if you get snowed in and can't make it to the grocery store it might go well with beer and pretzels. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Every little boy needs trains . . .

This is what it's all about.

(You may notice that this clip abruptly ends. This is because I made the mother of all photographic Faux Pas and busted the camera on Christmas morning! All is better now that the camera has been exchanged and we are once again prepared for life's Kodak moments.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ok, I'll Play Along

But only this one time. I was tagged by Diane, over at the Mommy Diaries to do an impromtu game of "Gotcha". After an early evening of sledding with Lukas, Mrs. LIAYF, and friends, I am downstairs from Lukas' evening routine, and just checked my reader:

Enough said. Here are the rules:
1) Take a picture of yourself right NOW!
2) DON'T change your clothes, DON'T fix your hair... Just take a picture.
3) Post that picture with NO editing.
4) Post these instruction with your picture.
5)Tag 10 people to do this..

I'm only tagging 5 because I'm too lazy and don't want to take the time to do 10 links. Sorry Diane. Does this mean I get seven years of bad luck?

I'm apologizing in advance for the post-sledding look (have you seen the Seattle news? We have been snowbound for days!). Enjoy the picture!

And here are the "Lucky" tagged ones:






Sorry guys. Play along only if you like.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bada Bing, Bada Boom

Ok, so perhaps folks here in the Great NW went a bit overboard with the Bing Crosby Christmas music the past few days. I believe the words to the song were "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas", not "I'm dreaming of getting totally dumped on right before Christmas".

However, all that dreaming and singing seems to be paying off in spades here in Seattle today as we have 6 inches of snow and counting since this early this morning. Oddly, Mrs. LIAYF and I were awakened at 5:00 AM by a loud rumbling Boom, preceding the start of the snow, which we later heard described as 'Thunder Snow'. A strange phenomenon that we had never heard of before.

However, we did get that "Noooo Day" that I hoped for in a recent post, as the whole of the city is pretty much shut down. My workplace, not known for making the best decisions regarding such matters decided to stay open. Then, when virtually no one showed up, they finally made the decision to turn around send those few back home. It was an exercise in futility that, thankfully, I did not partake in as I cashed in the baby card early on.

Have a great day. We are off to take Lukas sledding for the very first time. Cheers!

Monday, December 15, 2008


As I mentioned in Sunday's post, this past weekend was the Christmas kickoff at our house. Besides listening to Christmas albums (Rev. Horton Heat -We Three Kings is a favorite this year), putting up lights, and putting together gifts for out-of-town family, we also weathered the frigid cold to bring home the Christmas tree!

This year's tree wasn't the largest, or most symmetrical we have put up in recent years (you get much less critical when the weather is below 2o F, there is a brisk wind, and all the trees are covered with snow). But, thankfully after we arrived home and secured it in the stand, we were satisfied that this was no Charlie Brown tree either.

Mrs. LIAYF, after some pathetic begging on my part, agreed to depart from our White light only policy and add some colored lights into our Noble Fir, "For Luke's sake". Hopefully, the result will convince her that we can go with a technicolor tree next year too. I like the colors. Colors pretty.
And, in a brilliant move on her part, Mrs. LIAYF also instructed me to hang the crappiest of the ornaments at the bottom of the tree. I, being of narrow mind, hadn't considered this while pondering the perfect placement of our ever growing stash of priceless keepsakes. The wisdom of her ways paid off right away though as Lukas, warned many times against grabbing the ornaments within his reach, couldn't help himself and subsequently damaged several of them in just a couple hours.

I snapped a quick picture of these laid out on my kitchen island. I think I am going to call it the Island of Misfit Ornaments. Most of these simply have missing strings, except the Ice Skating ornament. This one suffered the most damage, and was probably our most cherished of them all (commemorating our first date). I'm confident that it can be fixed though, as Mrs. LIAYF is licensed in Washington to carry a glue gun.
Not included in the picture is the broken snow globe which we had to discard right away. Nothing says 'good parenting' like your 17 mo. old tugging at your pant leg so he can hand you a jagged chunk of curved, broken glass covered with wet glitter snow.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with the Robot, he just wanted to be a dentist.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Imagine a scenario where you go to bed happy, healthy, and secure only to wake up and realize that thing are different. Much different actually. This realization might just freak you out a bit. Or perhaps at least cause you to be a bit confused, right?

Lukas had just such a moment Sunday morning. Mrs. LIAYF and I were awaken by the sound of Lukas in a state that seemed to be awe mixed with disbelief. "Waooooooo!" Was the actual sound that broke our slumber at 7:00 AM Sunday morning. Followed shortly by "Was dat?" "Was dat?", "WAS, DAT?"

We entered Lukas's room to find him standing in his crib, holding out the window shade, peering out onto a Winter Wonderland. Several inches of snow had fallen overnight.

There had only been one day of snow here all last Winter, when Lukas was only a few months old. That one snow has not even been enough to stick, so this was our son's first real snow. He was in awe and very excited.

"That's snow" we told him, almost in unison. "Noooo" was his reply. He repeated it all day long, "Noooo". "Noooo". "Noooo". We learned very quickly to distinguish between "No" and "Noooo".

This was our designated weekend to decorate for the holidays. It was too icy to drive, so after breakfast we bundled up Luke to protect him from the icy cold conditions outside, grabbed his red wagon, and headed out on a short treck to pick our Christmas tree. Luckily, our local nursery, with a perfect tree selection, is only a block from our house.

The snow ushered in a real sense of holiday spirit in our home. It was the perfect beginning to our Christmas kickoff. Plus, there is more snow forcast for later in the week. If we get enough accumulation, they may even declare a snow day at work!! So, as they say...

"Let it noooo, let it noooo, let it noooo!"
Photo by Bradley J

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Sloppy Problem

Mrs. LIAYF and I need to nip this in the bud. And we need to do it right away. After all, this could lead to years of heartache and loneliness. Not to mention the solitude and self doubt that would naturally go along with it. Plus, if I can’t rectify this issue now, my own lingering guilt about my failure to provide proper guidance may haunt me for years to come. No one wants that!

Allow me to explain. Lukas has been practicing his kissing skills lately. So far they leave much to be desired. No matter how much we try to convince him to purse his lips together, most of the time he is not quite getting it. When prompted to "Give us a kiss", he just smiles wide - then zeros in on us with a big, wet, and sloppy open mouth. He will wrap his little arms around our necks, looks us right in the eyes with concentrated determination, and plant his rather wet and juicy lips right on a check, or even a whole upper lip and nose on occasion.

Cute? Yes. Adorable? Absolutely. So where's the problem you might ask. With the ladies friends. The problem is with the ladies who will eventually vie for his affection. In my own unscientific poll I have found that big, wet, sloppy kisses are kind of unpopular with those of the fairer gender.

Mrs. LIAYF has even confessed to dumping a former acquaintance for being a sloppy kisser. And I know if I occasionally get a bit lax with my own technique, to this day she will call me on it. Similarly, I once ended a high school fling with a girl who had a terrible technique, one which left me nearly choking with each kiss. The fact is it’s a harsh, harsh world out there and those with inadequate skills are in danger of being left behind, lonely and confused.

Given all this, I think we need to redouble our efforts. Daily smooching practice will have to commence right away. Perhaps some lemon juice or sour patch candy would be in order. And in order to be a good teacher, I need to first become a good student. Continuing Education, if you will. Mrs. LIAYF doesn’t know it yet, but she will need to help me brush up, so we can pay it forward. We can call it one of those ‘Win-Win’ situations.

Let me know what you think folks. Am I off the mark here? And how about you? Have you ever dumped anyone for being a bad kisser?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Take 1

"Hey! Why are you handing me over to this Creepy dude who looks like Elmo with white fur all over him? Not cool Dada! Not cool at all..."

In retrospect, I guess we should have had a Santa picture taken last year. If we had, Lukas might not have been quite so freaked by this encounter with the Jolly Red Man at his daycare's Holiday party yesterday.
Good thing there are still 3 weeks left before Christmas. It might take a few more attempts to pull this off!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do I Have to Spell it Out For You?

In a recent post I commented that I was astounded at how someone on the radio could use "The C Word" outloud during dinner. I opined that they must not have received the memo regarding that word.

Well, it appears that Lukas did, in fact, get the memo. Upon coming downstairs at 7:00 AM this morning, Luke went directly over to a neatly put away box of ASL flash cards, opened them and began thumbing through them, tossing aside the ones he didn't want....

Until he found what he was looking for, and politely walked over to me with big, expectant eyes and handed me this . . .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chaos Theory

It all seemed pretty placid when I walked through the doors of Lukas' daycare yesterday afternoon. All the children were sitting calmly in a semi-circle with their tiny little backs to me, while the 'teacher' read them a story. I can't remember what the story was, but the scene immediately brought a smile to my face as I perused Luke's chart of progress for the day.

Then I heard him. Lukas was actually sitting in another teacher's lap, so I hadn't actually picked him out of the crowd on my initial glance. But I could see him now, and he was upset. Crying actually. As I went over to find out what was the matter, instead of coming to me for comfort, Lukas got up mid-story and made a bee -line to the sliding plastic curtain separating the playroom from the kitchen. He shook the curtain and wailed.

His teacher got up and explained to me that not 10 minutes before, Lukas had turned to see another mother, her back to him, leaving the building. This mother had the same hair and body type as Mrs. LIAYF and upon seeing this scene Lukas had called out "Mama", "Mama!!" but to no avail. They had been attempting to calm him since.

Surprisingly to me, my appearance had not comforted my little guy in the least. Worse, now he was shaking the curtain harder. Much like Dorothy trying to ferret out the Great and All Powerful OZ. Adding insult to injury, he was now hungry and snack time was in 15 minutes . I was there to whisk him away with an empty belly. He would have none of that.

Another teacher popped up, hoping to calm the scene. "Let me get you a cracker to go, Lukas". Bad idea. One by one the content pre-toddlers, upon hearing the word "cracker" lost focus, jumped up, and moved towards the curtain. The first teacher emerged with a vanilla wafer and handed it to Luke who was now on my hip with a birds eye view of the unfolding chaos below. Another teacher stood up and helped the first try to re-form the story-time circle. However, before one could be set back down, another would jump up and run crying hungry for the curtain. It was clearly a losing battle, but one they continued to wage.

Lukas, happy now, simply looked on from above, enthusiastically munching on his vanilla wafer with a grin. And with the hoard of hungry toddlers having re-grouped and in the midst of mounting another offensive, I quietly backed my way to the exit door and slipped out into the darkness of the early evening.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The "C-Word"

As Lukas' verbal skills continue to improve with each passing day, Mrs. LIAYF and I have been polishing up on our spelling skills. If there is an item or topic we want to discus to which Luke has an associated word, and we don't want him immediately weigh in, we have begun to spell that word out.

O-u-t-s-i-d-e, is a prime example. A few too many slip ups using that word at a time when going outdoors didn't jive with our plans, taught us pretty quickly to spell it out, lest we have a very disappointed little guy on our hands.

Another word, and one that has come up with increasing frequency in recent weeks, is cookie. The mere utterance of the "C-word" gets our little guy worked up into an excited lather. He will immediately stop whatever it happens to be that he is doing and, looking at us with wide, expectant eyes and begin to almost chant '"cuh-cah", "cuh-cah" while consecutively both rubbing his hand across his chest (ASL for please) as well as rotating his nearly cupped together hands back and forth on top of each other (ALS for cookie).

How can we resist? Granted, we don't give him cookies (really just animal crackers) everytime he asks for them, but the above mentioned scenario is just so damn cute, it makes it extremely difficult to say "No". Hence, we have learned rather quickly to spell out the "C-word".

All that being said, we weren't prepared when, 5 minutes into dinner a couple of nights ago, someone talking on the radio inexplicably used "COOKIE" in a sentence. So much for a balanced meal that night. How could they be so inconsiderate? I guess they didn't get the memo.

Mostly though, I think we are good with our current approach. At least until he learns to spell!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks!

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Banilla Yogurt. It makes for great shave cream, what ever that is.

2. The little red guy with the funny voice. We are like brothers!

3. Sleeping in until 7:30 this morning. Mom and Dad were much more alert when they came to get me out of my sleeping cell.

4. Being the only person under 16 at Thanksgiving yesterday. I got loads of attention. What a sweet gig.

5. That I am feeling better recently, and was able to fight off that nasty staph infection which ruined my Halloween. I have got some catching up to do.

6. Uh, Yeah.....And mostly I am thankful for Mom and Dad, who love me with every ounce of their being. They say that a lot. I am very lucky to have them, although they always tell me that they are the lucky ones.

Happy Black Friday everybody!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh Yes, He'll Sing

In what appears to be an amazing case of dumb luck, I believe I have inadvertently stumbled across what may prove to be a major new tool in the war on terror.

We all know that torture to elicit vital information (tactics such as electric shock or water boarding), are not sanctioned by the Geneva Convention, and for obvious good reasons. Likewise, tactics that once were considered sure-fire ways to convince a combatant to 'give up the goods', such as bamboo shoots under the fingernails, foot roasting, or being slowly drawn and quartered, are neither sanctioned nor practiced by civilized nations in this day and age.

Of course there are other information gathering methods generally deemed more humane and acceptable than the above mentioned interrogation techniques. Sleep deprivation or playing loud rock music come to mind (Actually, this sounds like a typical weekend in our household). But even with these there is no guarantee that if a desperate situation were to arise, where timely information was of the essence, that vital information could readily be obtained.

But I have an interesting new suggestion. When faced with a situation requiring the most extreme truth-eliciting methods, the modern-day interrogator can set aside the Metallica discs, discard those bamboo shoots, empty out the tub of water and instead pull out a...


Yes, a diaper of all things. Based on recent research in our house, the mere act of changing a diaper can turn even the most even-tempered and pain resistant person into a writhing, screaming, kicking, and protesting subject who would do anything, or say anything (within personal limitations, of course) to get you to stop.

I know what you are thinking. "It seems so inhumane". But folks, I can assure you that it's not. The pain associated with this new method is not physical, but rather mental and should not result in any lasting physical effects.

That being said, I will need additional research to determine if there is any long term mental scarring associated to this act.
I'll post an update in, oh...about 25 years!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Guys Night In

In a bold move designed to lift our family out of the running for the title of Most Boring Family Ever, Mrs. LIAYF decided to take some friends up on an offer to do a girls night out Saturday, leaving Lukas and I home alone. While she was out painting the town red, the Rock Star type Par-tay that I was envisioning for Guys Night In ran into some early snags. Not the least of these was Lukas forgetting to stop and pick up the cigars and beer. Doh!
In all seriousness though, things were complicated from the outset by the fact that the girls were meeting at 6:00 PM. This meant that it was up daddy to get Lukas bathed and to bed. I don't imagine this would be too big a deal for most parents of a 17 month old, but since we had been taking the whole boring thing so seriously, this is the first actual night that Mrs. LIAYF has intentionally left it to me to get Lukas to bed on my own. (I wasn't joking about the boring thing)

I had put Lukas to bed on my own once before. This happened when Mrs. LIAYF was held up at work, and that went rather swimmingly as Luke curled right up and went to sleep, no questions asked. In my demented sort of parental calculus, that one instance several months ago added up to "No problemo. Piece of cake. Been there, done that".
I was never strong at math.

This time around was met with a stark and rather immediate realization on Lukas' part that "Things ain't right here! Where's Mama? You have no BOOBIES!"

Still, I have to hand it to the little guy, as he gave it an early college try. After I put him down in the crib, there was about 15 minutes of silence, time where I was wiping my brow and rather pleased with myself for deftly navigating what could have been a very upset, and very unsatisfied little boy.

Then the cries started. Muffled at first, but then much louder. Sticking to our trusted routine, I waited the mandatory 10 minutes, then went to tell Luke it was "night-night time", calming him before leaving the room. I repeated this a couple of times to no avail, before abandoning that and trying to spend some extra time in his room trying to put him to sleep.

That didn't work either. So I returned to the comfort him, leave the room strategy. He would fall asleep intermittently for longer stretches, leaving me thinking he was out for good, but then wake up upset once again. Nerve wracking stuff, which left me with my trigger finger on the Talk button, ready to call home the reinforcements. I held off though, which was for the best.

After a while Lukas tired out and went to sleep, with me still completely on edge-hoping that it would last. In the end I survived, and Lukas is no worse for wear. But without beer, cigars, or television I am only left here to blog about it all while Mrs. LIAYF enjoys a much deserved night out.

Boring is as boring does.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bring it on!

I have generally greeted that period after Halloween and before, say December 15th, with grudging acceptance. Grudging acceptance of those who would hasten the impending holidays, with lights, trees, Christmas music, ect. . .

It's not like I have had a 'Bah, Humbug' attitude. Not at all. It's just that it has always seemed WAY too early to see holiday decorations sprouting up in early November. After all, once Halloween is in the rear view mirror, there are still nearly 7 weeks before Christmas arrives.

However, this year there is an ever so subtle change brewing somewhere in the inner reaches of this dad's soul. I still think it is too early for the full on holiday barrage of everything red, white, and green. But this year there is a noticeable lack of disdain for those who would hang out the icicle lights right after Halloween or put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It is a softening of the spirit that seems to correspond to the multi-faceted softening of the man.

Don't get me wrong. There will be no tree in this house before December 15th. The holiday music will stay on the shelf until then as well and the gift purchasing will most assuredly be last minute as it always seems to be. Rather, It's the spirit of the whole season that seems to have taken a festive new hold in me this year.

Of course, this is in no small part due to the fact that Lukas will be a year and a half old this Christmas, and for the first time will be aware that things are interesting and different around the house. I look forward to sharing all this with him, as well as sharing the spirit of giving that also comes along with all the decorations.

So, to those neighbors planning to decorate with adandon on the morning of Nov 28th, I say "Bring it on!" Just leave the giant, blow-up, holiday themed Scooby Doo in it's box and out of the front yard.


Monday, November 17, 2008


This has all happened before. I can sense it. Perhaps last year? Maybe. Regardless of when, I am made aware of it again and again in all its horrific detail each time I step through the front door. "Happy Halloween" greets me cheerily on the porch, but then thumps against the door to my chagrin. The banging of wood on glass serves as a chilling reminder of things left undone.

The life sized skull stares at me with hollow eyes as I pass through the foyer. The hovering hoard of hanging bats flutter gently in the breeze generated by my walk to the fridge. The strings of spiders still cling to my island light fixture, blending neatly with what must be more than a few real ones by now.

The skull lanterns still hang menacingly in our picture window, painting a vivid picture to our neighbors of a family not ready to give up the ghost . . . so to speak. The orange lights still frame our stairs and front porch, adding an unworldly feel to any strangers approach. Hell (yes, hell), even this still smirks at us from an overlooking shelf, as if done with nefarious intent.

The Halloween decorations still adorn our humble home. It is Monday night as I write this and I had every intention of taking them down this past weekend. Really, I did. Didn't happen. Someone passing by might soon begin to suspect we are The Adams Family. Or perhaps even the Munsters (the dearth of sun here in Seattle leaves us all a bit on the pale side this time of year). My procrastination is shamelessly out there for everyone in the world to see.

However, anyone who doesn't read this blog, which pretty much means everyone who is not you, will get a different story. They will hear all about how we missed Halloween this year. And a Birthday as well. No Trick-0r-Treating, No costumes, No cake.

We are just making up for it. And I suspect we will be making up for it until next weekend as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Plasma Time

I've decided. I need to get myself a brand new 31'' Plasma! Oh yeah, it's going to be suh-weet. Better yet, this is a purchase the whole family will be able to enjoy. Well...eventually, at least.

Ok, so I'm not talking about a new Plasma TV. Heck, I don't even have cable, not to mention the spare cash to fork over for one of those. Although I have to admit that that would be a nice way to watch my movies at home. Someday.

What I am talking about though, is a PlasmaCar. This toy car was voted a winner in the 2008 Fat Brain toy awards. And deservedly so, I must say.

While checking out an indoor community play area with Lukas yesterday, Mrs. LIAFY and I happened upon a couple of these cars and since the wide open space was otherwise empty, we took them for a spin around the play room. We ended up riding them for several minutes while Luke busied himself with toys his own age (the car is for 3 years and over), and we had a blast!

These cars are operated by inertia, centrifugal force, gravity & friction, so no pedaling or pushing is involved. Just hop on, turn the wheel, and spin around the room. Backwards, forwards, hairpin turns, you name it we were able to do it with these amazing little cars. I had never heard of a PlasmaCar before yesterday, but I was instantly hooked. All you need is a smooth, flat surface and you are ready to roll, continuously!

The heck with buying one for your kids, I recommend you go out and buy one for yourself. You'll definitely feel like a kid again. I sure did.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fly Me Past the Moon...

Fascinating news came out this week that Astronomers have positively identified the first planets beyond our solar system. Three of the four planets discovered are circling a star named Fomalhault b. (I think we need a naming contest for this one) Fomalhaut b, as it is now known, is said to be 148 Trillion miles from Earth (this # reminds me of the size of our national debt) while those planets discovered are said to be distinctly un-earth like, being comprised mostly of gases.

( rendition by ESA, NASA, and L. Calcada)

Un-earth like perhaps, but still, this news stirs the imagination. Knowing there are planets outside our solar system, as opposed to speculating about them, rekindles once again in this father the fascination with what lies beyond the reaches of our current minuscule view into the vastness of the universe. I find myself again asking "how many billions of other pale blue dots are out there are at this moment circling their own bright stars?" This is a concept that can easily boggle the mind.

Sure, given the limitations of physics as we know them, even if found, never will we be able to actually visit any of these perceived worlds. And never, as imagined in early science fiction, will we be able to gently set our conical rockets down on distant rocky shores or amidst vast cityscape's previously unconceived of by our limited spheres of knowledge. Ah, but to imagine...

To consider that one day Lukas, who harbors a not uncommon fascination with rockets, and whose middle namesake (not by chance) happens to be the second person in human history to plant a foot solidly on another world, could see or even become an astronaut and be the first human to travel beyond the moon to further off worlds in our solar system, perhaps even beyond. Well, even if very far-fetched, that is just a very cool concept to this dad.

But alas, those worlds are still just speculation. And absent the positive discovery of other earth like worlds, I am left currently to wonder about these gaseous planets, identified in the affirmative. Could a different form of life exist there? Could it be sentient? Could, 148 Trillion miles away, some hydrogen based father be just as proud of a little puff of gas as I am of Lukas? Maybe. Just maybe.

Perhaps, in a vignette not unlike one of our own, after speculating themselves about life on other distant worlds, that hydrogen based Fomalhault father holds out what passes for a finger, the little puff tugs on it, and some form of carbon based material is expunged. They both laugh hysterically, while in another corner of their home, a mother gas cloud just rolls what passes for her eyes and sighs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

*School* Pictures

Luke's first 'School' pictures arrived yesterday. I was a bit surprised when I first heard that our daycare actually had a picture day, but Mrs. LIAYF and I were excited to actually have a professional photographer get a shot of Lukas because, in his 16 months, we had yet to have a formal sitting for him. Not even a sit down picture with Santa last year, a parental crime of monumental proportion that we will certainly not commit again this year.
Although Luke looks a bit startled and wasn't smiling, we were pretty happy with how this picture turned out. After all, he wasn't crying despite strangers messing with him. Being a handsome boy helps quite a bit too. The photographer did a good job of getting him to sit still and get his attention which is something we have extreme difficulty doing ourselves. Kudos to them.

Scary Mommy recently posted a call out to bloggers to show the good, the bad, and the ugly school photos they have stored away. Since this is Lukas' first picture day and it turned out fairly nice, for me it qualifies as the Good.

Now, for the Bad - Mrs. LIAYF generously allowed me to post her high school marching band photo from 1985, freshman year (yes, she was a band geek):

(Bee Girl, Be a girl...)

Personally, I think she's adorable. Mrs. LIAYF, however, cringes whenever she sees this lovely photo. Note the big feathered hair (not as big as other girls' hair - she went to high school in Kentucky), the high-riding band pants, the fabulous plaid sash, shiney wide belt, black ascot, and the "action" pose of her mallets. She informs me there was also an enormous black cowboy hat that went with this outfit (thankfully, not pictured). Freckles weren't cool yet, but this picture shows she had a ton (the marching band practiced outside a lot in the sun). This picture reminds me of Jodi Foster in "Freaky Friday" - she also played the glockenspiel. Mrs. LIAYF rocks this uniform, don't you think?

As for the Ugly, I pulled out this gem from my personal archives:

(If this kid comes along...You must whip it!)

Check out those phat burns! And the Devo style helmut head was a 1979 must have. Other great features highlighted in this school picture are the "snap it already!" fake half smile as well as the faded orangish purple tint. Finally, this shirt is a disco dream, calling out loudly to the ladies that it is worn by one very cool, and very available, dude (especially to one band geek - four years my junior and probably in grade school at this point).

Lukas has many years of school pictures ahead of him, but I'll go out on a limb here and say he won't be able to top this one for extreme nerd factor. Do you have any geeky photos of your own? Brave enough to post them? Go on over to Scary Mommy and post them. I dare you!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Week of Sundays

(Lukas wants this Monkey off his back!)
Ah, the grey overcast has arrived, the daylight is in short supply and open bumbershoots provide a colorful canvas of convex trampolines for the never-ending bombardment of raindrops from above. Fall in the Northwest usually means hunkering down, layering yourself before stepping out, inside projects meant to kill the time until the weather brightens, and often daydreaming about, or traveling to, some far off place where the sun still shines and shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops are still the attire of choice.

Given Lukas' yet to be fully resolved run in with some rather sinister bacteria, what was to be our first famiy vacation since his birth 16 long months ago didn't materialize. November sunshine and fresh air down south in Texas gave way to doctor visits, grey skies and flood warnings here in Washington. Not exactly what we had envisioned as that pick-me-up to build momentum and carry us through the long dark Winter months before the Spring begins again to rear its head (kinda like Putin) sometime in late March or early April.

In the place of a proper vacation, we have relaxed, completed projects around the house, had friends and family visit, and generally spent the time enjoying the company of our wonderful son. Everyday this week has been like a lazy Sunday for us, and it has been terrific. True, we would have liked to have slept in a bit longer (Fall Back is not a concept that a toddler sleep routine adapts to easily!), but that aside it has been a rare opportunity for both of us to be SAHP at the same time for an extended period.

Mrs. LIAYF and I have been able to interact on a more intimate level with Lukas given that the outside pressures of work and travel were alleviated. It has been amazing to be here to listen as his vocabulary seems to have exponentially taken off, and his understanding of the world around him blossoms. Each time I am witness to Luke saying a new word for the first time or demonstrating his growing understanding of the world around him by picking the right picture out of a series of photos when asked "where is the ...?", I feel as if I am privileged to be viewing something extraordinary happening.

I am not sure if it is because of who I am at this time in my life, because of how old I am as a first time father, or because I am a pretty boring guy in general, but to be here in the moment witnessing a child (my child) develop is nothing short of amazing. I may have missed a vacation, but just being able to spend the extra time with my son, especially when he is not feeling well, leaves me wanting nothing more.

Tomorrow, sadly, my week of Sundays will come to an end.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wordy Wednesday - "Yes, We Did!"

Congratulations to President Elect Obama! I am extremely proud of the message of hope and change my country delivered yesterday. Obama's acceptance speech was both inspiring and unifying at the same time, while Senator McCain also showed the class act that he is by giving a gracful and unifying concession speech of his own. This was a truly historic moment and I am honored to have been witness to it.

Lukas proudly wore his Babies for Obama button all day today. It was amazing to hear the buzz and the conversations that filled the sidewalks of Seattle on this historic afternoon. Hope was in the air!

On another note, Lukas is feeling much better today as well. He is in great spirits and his fever seems to be gone for good. He is, however, still walking gingerly on his left leg after a run in with a playground slide shortly after a follow-up visit to Children's hospital on Monday. I took him down the slide and his left leg got caught between mine and the slide on the way down. We initially thought his leg was broken given his tearful reaction as well as the fact he couldn't put weight on it for several hours afterwards. Thankfully, X-rays were negative for a fracture but it remains very tender a couple days later. This rookie dad feels pretty bad - next time I take him down a slide I'll make sure to hold his legs in!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Meanwhile in Another Universe...

(Lukas after his knife fight - the other pirate didn't fare so well)
It has been postulated that ours is only one of an infinite number of universes, and that every decision that a person makes leads you to the universe that we currently occupy. Those other universes, it is theorized, hold our alternate lives, lived out with the decisions that did not happen in this universe. In an odd twist of fate, you have been privy to one of those alternate Austin family universes that did not play out in our universe, but must, if the theory holds true be taking place as you read this post.
Right now, in that alternate plane, we are indeed enjoying our visit to Dallas. We had a wonderful Halloween Night of trick-or-treating, birthday cake, and enjoyable conversation with friends we have not seen in a long time.

What really happened is much less appealing. Much less enjoyable for sure.

I had written my previous post Thursday morning, in anticipation of not having the time on Friday given my packed agenda. However, Thursday mid-morning I received a disturbing call from Mrs. LIAYF. Lukas had taken a turn for the worse, the swelling in his cheek began to grow much larger in the days since I left home. He was being admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital to have immediate surgery to drain what had become a frighteningly large abscess in his lymph node (confirmed by ultrasound and CT scans). The infection was bacterial and not viral after all.

I hopped the first flight out of Dallas Thursday afternoon, making it to Seattle in plenty of time before the surgery which was delayed until 10:30 PM Pacific time. The surgery was successful, and we were able to see him just after midnight, Halloween and (Birth)day. Worse yet, since the doctors were not sure what had caused the infection and Lukas had developed a strange rash on his arms, we were promptly put into a quarantined 8x10 room where we spent the next 36 hours. Luke was on IV antibiotics and we were set for a few days of worry. No sleep (nurses coming in every few hours to check Luke's IV and vitals), no trick-or-treating, no birthday cake. It was a true Halloween horror tale that we will never want to repeat.

The cultures came back this afternoon - a staph infection. We were finally released after the final determination. Lukas, true to form, was amazingly cooperative and stoic about all the poking, prodding, and inability to walk since the IV was in his right foot, and the foot strapped to a board. He spent most of the time in a little red wagon surrounded by toys (including a cute stuffed panda he was given in the ER - courtesy of Allie's Friends Foundation). All the nurses and doctors were genuinely amazed at his demeanor given his 16 month age. We, however, were not. He is a wonderful little boy, in this and every conceivable universe!

As crazy and painful as this holiday turned out to be, we are just blessed to be at home now with our brave little guy. We are also equally blessed to live so near the fabulous Children's Hospital. Despite the absence of cake and Halloween fun, Mrs. LIAYF insists that she got exactly what she wanted for her birthday - her family together and her little boy getting better. Please send us your thoughts and good karma. Lukas needs all he can get to help fight off this tough infection.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reunion Tour

Happy Friday! Happy Halloween! And best of all Happy Birthday Mrs. LIAYF!

Yes, it is my wife's birthday today, one of the most festive days of the year. She should be kicking back, with a warm beverage in hand, thumbing through magazines, getting a foot rub, or whatever else catches her fancy. But alas, she is doing none of those things, and neither is she opening any gifts.
Instead, It is yours truly who is getting the the great gifts today, and better yet they are being airmailed right to my Dallas doorstep. Yes, Lukas and Mrs. LIAYF are traveling out this very afternoon to spend a few days with me here in the Dallas area visiting some friends. And not a moment too soon, I might add. We certainly need a good dose of family togetherness time to lift our spirits out of the pit they have been in recently.

I have been here in Dallas, wrapping up my business conference, but honestly, my mind has not really been in the game for the past several days. Granted, I have learned lots of important things, and have also diverted my attention briefly with other interests (visiting Dealey plaza and standing on the grassy knoll) but as recent readers will understand, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't go more than a few minutes without wondering how Lukas and his amazing mother (the birthday girl) were faring at home.

The Mumps-like virus that plagued Lukas for nearly 2 weeks would not go down without a serious knock-down, drag-out, kicking, screaming, hair-pulling, bloody lip fight. However, that particular holiday ghoul has finally been vanquished, once and for bloody all. (Fingers crossed, breath held, garlic necklace? Perhaps it works on Vampires and Mumps-like viruses too)
It was funny that, as I wrapped up my business here this morning, I glanced skyward to see, staring ominously down at me like the Death Star on a skewer, the Dallas Reunion Tower. Thankfully there were no giant laser beams which shot out of it to destroy any worlds while I watched, but noticing it's name on the wall outside did seem a fitting reminder that very long week my family has endured is finally at an end. Best of all, I was headed for a sweet reunion of my own. Well, I am off now to DFW and might not be checking in for several days, so I wish you all a great weekend.
If I see someone dressed like Lord Vader at the airport, I'll be sure to direct him to the Hyatt.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hope for Luke's Future

I don't often get political on this blog. That's good because I should be leaving politics to the politicians and pundits. And, unlike many voices I hear out and about these days, I understand that there are many people out there with different life experiences than mine. Different life experiences, and different life philosophies, necessarily result in different viewpoints.
That's alright with me. Our country needs differences of opinion. Being able to freely voice such a diverse range of opinions is one of the fundamental cornerstones of our great nation. Though sometimes difficult, I try to respect those opposing opinions for what they are. I believe we need to move back in the direction of respecting the opinions of others even if we do not agree with them. That is one of the tenets that I hope to instill in my son as he grows up in this increasingly bitterly divided country.
Most would agree though, that we are faced with a historic choice about the future of our country this November 4th. It seems to be a consensus opinion that we need change. I agree. I have not felt good about what direction our nation has been headed in quite some time and as such feel that we need a dramatic new direction and focus for our country. I won't get into specifics since I don't feel this is the place for it. If you disagree with my opinion, I am sure you do so for your own valid reasons.
Personally, I'm voting for a more hopeful, united future for our nation. For our kids. I believe one ticket clearly provides this kind of hope more so than the other. No matter who you prefer in the election, be sure to do your civic duty and cast your vote. I did, as an absentee.
You may have already guessed but, for the record, here's my vote:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leavin', on a Jet Plane

For the first time in nearly a year, I will spend a few days away from my family as by the time this post is published I will be 35,000 feet up joining the Mile High Guilt Club headed for a business trip to Dallas. As if a trip away from home wasn't enough to deal with, I also have to reconcile the fact that I am leaving while Lukas has yet to recover from the Mumps (or Mump-like) virus that he has been suffering from for the last 10 plus days.

And, since Luke is still running a fever he can't go to daycare. We don't have anyone else to watch him especially since most of our generous neighbors have kids of their own who shouldn't be exposed. Mrs. LIAYF will have to stay home to take care of him and will thus miss out on a very important work project of her own.

She doesn't mind at all because, as it should be, Lukas is the most important thing in the world to her. It bothers me though, since it seems that every business trip I have taken since we found out we were expecting a child has been met with some sort of minor crisis at home, leaving me with a generous helping of miserable guilt for being away.

"Hey, I can sleep in past 6:30am!" just doesn't seem as exciting when you are leaving sick and burdened loved ones behind. I know, I know, that's life. Right? Still it doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

Anyone out there with any words of encouragement for this guilt-ridden dad?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jeopardy Answer: Improvise

Jeopardy Question: What do you do when you find yourself in dire need of a Dancing Chicken Elmo?

Lukas was in better spirits today, but still running a fever and as you can see in this clip his cheek remains rather large and tender.

Friday, October 24, 2008

If it Looks Like a Mump...

Warning! This is going to be one of those warm and fuzzy dad posts, so if you are squeamish about such things you may want to come back for a future post. You see, Lukas has had a pretty tough week and all I can think about is what an amazing little guy this is. And I just have to let the mush spill out. Sorry.

Lukas may have The Mumps! Yes, Mumps as in swollen cheek mumps. Well actually just one mump, if you want to get technical. Even though he had the MMR shot over a month ago he still is showing many of the signs of this now rare virus. It began about a week ago with Luke having an irritable cough which wouldn't quite go away and all signs of a healthy cold. By the weekend he was running a moderately high fever and after an outing to a park on Saturday, his right cheek was red and looked like it had a sunburn. By Monday his temp was around 99 degrees and although he had a bit of a runny nose he seemed otherwise ok, so we took him to daycare.

An hour after I dropped him off, I received a call from daycare that Lukas' right cheek was beginning to swell. It hadn't gone away by the afternoon so I took him to the doctor who diagnosed a blocked salivary gland (most likely caused by a cold virus) and ordered a precautionary blood test for the Mumps - which he indicated was basically a non-existant chance since he had had the MMR shot over a month earlier. We were supposed to try to entice salivation (with sour foods) and use a warm compress on his tender cheek several times a day. None of this reduced the swelling and redness in his check which only got worse as the week progressed. His temperature rose to 102 F and stayed there.

There were more visits to the doctors who were all quite puzzled by his now enormous puffed cheek. They ordered more blood tests but still believed his condition resulted from a virus, so did not put him on antibiotics at that time. After these secondary blood tests came back yesterday they indicated the strong possibility of a bacterial infection so the doctors prescribed the antibiotics. However, they were still puzzled at this fact: None of these very experienced doctors had ever seen viral infection cause as much swelling as Lukas had in his cheek.

The doctors (five consulting with each other at this point) resisted calling his now obviously infected glands a bacterial infection mainly because of Luke's demeanor. "If this were a bacterial infection, he would be acting more sick and upset, and have more tenderness to the touch". My response was "It is tender and he is upset. He is just normally such a happy child that even when he is feeling his worst, he can still manage a smile or a laugh in between sobbing and tears." The doctors just shook their heads, the most experienced saying that he still felt that this must be a viral infection (certainly not the mumps since he was vaccinated) but he prescribed the antibiotics just in case.

And now today, I recieved a confirmation call that the blood test for mumps came back positive for mumps antibodies. The doctors huddled up again and held firm that Lukas does not have the mumps, just elevated anitbodies from his vaccine a month ago. I am not sure exactly what to believe at this point. We will probably never know for sure.

So that is where we are now. I was back at work today, after watching our boy for the last three days while his mother was off doing her job, which involved giving other guys "What for!" for a change (as her beloved late grandmother put it).

This seems very surreal to me, but I just have to say that spending those 3 days with our son reinforced in me what a truly good child he is. Despite his incredibly tough week, with all the fever, upper respiratory infection, extremely swollen face, multiple blood tests (with clumsy phlebotomists, I might add) and loss of appetite he would always recover very quickly from all the poking and prodding. Most incredibly of all he still had several moments of pure unadulterated baby joy. Yes, many of those were followed minutes later by fussing and crying, but the joy in him definitely wanted to find its way out, to manifest itself into a game of imitate daddy being goofy and have corresponding laugh attack.

And that, to me, is an amazing testament to the goodness of my son. Mumps or no Mumps!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hidden Mickey?

I have now submitted this post in the DC Urban Dad, Balls contest.

It's October and October means baseball playoffs, which I love despite the fact that my hometown 9 have been rather disappointing in recent years. But no, we won't go down that sad sad road today. However, my daydreaming about the great American pastime reminded me of something I had completely forgotten about.

A few years back, I was browsing a local thrift store when laying loose in a bin of otherwise useless junk, a slightly weathered old baseball caught me eye. I picked it up and noticed that it had a few signatures on it, some of whom I had know to be slightly famous players. Judging by where I found the ball, my immediate thought was that I had found a ball that someone had tried to fake signatures on. I bought the ball for a buck or two and since I was busy at the time, I put it away with some other memorabilia to be pulled out at a later time.

So, after having this baseball memory, I decided to dig through my garage and pull out this box of baseball souvenirs and take another look at what was there. What I found was very intriguing to say the least. Here are some pictures of the that old ball and the signatures I found.

On this side was Bill White, and former Mariners Manager Jim Lefebvre.

This side was signed by Tom Tresh, and Tony Conigliaro.

I couldn't Make out whose signature this was.

And here was the most interesting signature of them all. Mickey Mantle? I think this must have been why I had thought it was not an authentic signed ball. Who would let a ball like this end up at a thrift store? Below is a photo of a more recent signed Mantle Ball that was selling online for about $3500.

Of course I can't authenticate anything about this baseball since I picked it up in a thrift shop, but the more I look at it the more I believe it to have authentic signatures. If authentic this would be a terrific keepsake for Lukas and would add to his collection of signed baseballs that includes future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and Negro League icon Buck O'Neil. I guess I should do a bit more research and see if I can have it appraised. Anybody out there have an idea of where to start?

I wonder when the Antiques Roadshow is coming to Seattle?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tickle Me Hideous

Hey Friends, want a surefire Halloween prop to scare the begeezes out of all the kiddos who come tramping up to your door? Great, because I know exactly what will do the trick!

Ghosts? No, not ghosts. Bats? Yes, black flying rodents can be scary, but they are way over-used. Witches? They are so last (and every) year. Skeletons? Not scary, just watch a few episodes of 'America's Next Top Model' and the fright factor goes way down.

No, this Halloween if you need to bring the fright to a whole new level, you will need to get your hands on one of these guys.

Yes, a "Tickle Me Elmo"!

Lukas has developed an odd facination with Elmo that he could have only picked up from the dancing chicken Elmo at daycare - which he loves. No, Elmo had never reared his ugly head in our house before tonight. But, he caught a glance of an Elmo in a children's catalog and began immediately chanting 'Ah-mo', 'Ah-mo' (this coming only days after 'mama'). So, we decided it was time to break out the "Tickle Me Elmo" that a gracious friend had gotten for Lukas as a Christmas gift, but which we had yet to give to him (hoping we could postpone the inevitable).

At first he was very excited to see Elmo, but what was to be a fun reunion with his fuzzy red friend quickly went south. We set it down and Lukas began to dance, expecting it to 'do the chicken, bock bock bock!' Instead, Elmo rolled on the ground insanely laughing, shaking and banging its little furry red head repeatedly onto the floor.

After witnessing this seizure-like behavior, Lukas started to shake his head 'No-No'. Then, when Elmo didn't stop a look of fear crossed Lukas' face that we have only seen in bad horror flicks. You would have though TME had sprouted a pair of horns, a tail and his head had spun around. (We've only seen this look of fear on Lukas' face once before - when a scary-looking old tatooed waitress picked him up and held him at a local eatery). The horrified face, a beat, then our boy began to scream bloody murder yelling "NO! NO! NO!"

Mrs. LIAYF quickly took Lukas to the other room to dance with him. I hid TME and chucked the packaging. Lesson learned: to a toddler, TME is no less than Norman Bates meets Chucky in Texas wielding a rusty chainsaw! We hope he sleeps through the night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Phone Home

It started out as a mere annoyance, but as the afternoon gave way early evening and then with Lukas finally down for the evening after being sick all day, it began to really bother Mrs. LIAYF, and therefore myself as well. She couldn't find her cell phone.

All the usual household hiding places (pockets, drawers, countertops) had been checked and crossed off the list, all the time the assumption being that the phone would turn up before the day was done. But it hadn't, and she desperately needed it for a busy Monday, so we began retracing her steps since she last used it.

She had gone to work Sunday morning and had called me on her way home from the phone, so I checked the car, but the phone was not there. I asked her what was next, and a look of recognition and regret crossed her face. "Remember earlier when we loaded Lukas into the CR-V before you left this afternoon?" I did. "You handed Lukas to me to go get his diaper bag and before I grabbed him I set what was in my hands on top of the car. My phone was one of those things, but I am sure I didn't grab it off the roof!" We just looked at each other with a look of resignation. I too have left things on top of the car often. It's especially easy while loading a kid into a car seat!

It was late and dark, so I grabbed a flashlight and went to the street for a look around. Nothing. I walked down the block with the flashlight perusing the curb hoping to get lucky, but the incident had been several hours earlier. It could be anywhere. As I came back to the house, already forming a plan of how we were going to get Mrs. LIAYF a new phone, as an afterthought I pointed the flashlight one last place and amazingly found her phone.

On top of the car!

I had driven over bumpy streets, up and down hills, a total of at least 5 miles round trip, but that phone remained where it had been placed. Mrs. LIAYF recently confessed to coveting an iPhone. It's a good thing we had not purchased one for her because I'm convinced it would not have survived the trip.

The free phone we received for signing up for our plan 3 years ago. It found it's way home!

Friday, October 17, 2008

South Park

Last weekend was beautiful here in Seattle and we decided it was the right time for Mrs. LIAYF and I to squeeze in an outing with activities that we could enjoy, after countless recent trips focused around Lukas. After perusing the local paper for nearby activities we settled on visiting a hip, up and coming Seattle neighborhood about 10 minutes to our southwest, where many local artists call home and which was also hosting art tours. A promising afternoon was in store.

But when we arrived in the neighborhood, we found that there were no actual tours as was advertised though there were some shops where we could browse and view some local art as well as let Lukas down to wander around a bit. Not exactly what we envisioned but interesting nonetheless. Eventually we happened upon Fantagraphics, a local bookstore specializing in graphic novels.
Ironically, just the day before we had made a donation to our local public radio station while Pulitzer Prize winning author and comic book icon Art Spiegelman was being interviewed and thus were rewarded with a personalized postcard drawn by the artist himself. At Fantagraphics we were lucky enough to find a signed copy of Speigelman's children's collection Big Fat Little Lit, which will be paired up nicely with the autographed graphic postcard we will receive for making the donation! It is still a bit advanced for Lukas so we will be setting them aside for his future enjoyment.

We lunched at a local restaurant where Luke flirted heavily with an artfully tattooed girl with a rock-a-billy haircut (maybe all the Rev. Horton Heat we listen to has rubbed off). We then decided that since there was limited art to see, Lukas would actually love a visit a local park we spied just a block and a half away.

It was a brisk fall day, but the beautiful park and playground toys were empty. Not a soul, save for an interesting character happily chatting with himself near the park entrance. The emptiness was much to Lukas' liking though, since he didn't have to wait for a ride on the bouncy motorcycle!

True to Lukas form, he played with abandon - running from play structure, to swing, to the motorcycle, to the slide and back again to the structure. This was a perfect opportunity for our mini mountaineer to climb to his heart's delight, which he did until his tiny legs and feet began to drag ever so slightly, followed not to long after by a few stumbles and some rubbing of the eyes.

That was our cue to scoop him up and head for the car, our promising trip to explore some grown-up activities having given way to yet another afternoon of smiles, laughter and enjoyment with our happy little boy.
The day turned out better than we could have hoped for!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fairly Unbalanced

No matter what your political persuasion, you have to admit this is pretty hilarious!

Originally viewed over at dsharpe.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


This morning, for the first time in months, Lukas said "Mama" several times to Mrs. LIAYF! It was one of the first words that he said back at around 8 months, but since then has not used it.

He has, though, been using other words quite regularly, like dada which she worked on with Lukas over and over in his early days. Unfortunately, I hadn't worked nearly as hard to get him to use mama, so it has been rather hard on Mrs. LIAYF, especially the past few months, to not have Luke call out to her by name. She had even said that this is the gift she most wanted for her birthday (which happens to be Halloween day).

I'm not absolutely sure why it has taken this long for Lukas to adopt the use of mama, but I strongly believe that it is because she has always been there for him with nourishment, smiles, laughter, consolation, and unconditional love. She has been his world - ever present, ever near. So, perhaps he's never felt the need to call out for her by name.

But this morning it was terrific to hear Luke call out "mama" several times, and it was equally terrific to see my wife's smile illuminate our dimly lit bedroom on this cool October morning. It was truly the sweetest sound to fill our house in quite some time.

Happy early birthday, Mama!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


There are some things you initially think you will never do. But then you realize that even though it may not be cool, who really gives a rat's posterior about cool when you are actually cool. No, I am not buying a minivan! I said that there are some things that you initially think you will never do, that is not one of them. I know I will never buy a minivan (not that there is anything wrong with it, of course).

But there has been a dramatic change in the temperature around here, it being Fall and all. This fact, coupled with what I can only assume are brain cell challenged folks working the off-site heating/air conditioning controls at my work, it has been down right frigid in my office. Yes, you guessed it. The AC is still pumping despite the fact that it is 50 degrees F outside. I guess they didn't get the memo. In fact, you could literally hang a side of beef in my office and it'd be good. "Yes, wheel that carcass right over here with the others, friend".

So, as I was mentioning, there are a few things that I never thought I would do, but I have stopped worrying about being cool when I am down right cold. I would previously chuckle to myself while passing all the ladies in my office who had their tiny little heaters blasting during mid-spring. No longer. We now have solidarity! I put in my request for a space heater a couple of days ago and it arrived today. Let the warm air roll!

Ok, why do I suddenly feel like an 80 year old grandmother? Oh well, at least I am warm.

I'll need another place to store the meat though.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Were We Thinking?

At the behest of Mrs. LIAYF, and to my initial dismay, we decided to do some Fall cleaning and reorganizing around the house this past weekend. As it happens, the reorganization of our living room turned out fantastic. Mrs. LIAYF was true to form and had graphed out a chart of the room with the new furniture arrangement in little paper cut-outs so she could map out all possible scenarios beforehand. This reduced our physical trudging around time to a minimum, and allowed us to have a beautiful, no-cost redesign. Lukas especially enjoyed waking up on Monday morning to a 'new' space with more room to roam and explore.

While we were at it, we also decided it was time to purge some of the unnecessary chotchkies that seem to multiply like randy rabbits every year while our attention is focused elsewhere. Case in point is this CREEPY snail head that has been sitting on our shelf for a the past few years. We hadn't even noticed it for quite some time. It is actually a candle, and a stinky one at that.
I think we picked it up on a Mexican vacation a few years back. Not sure what the heck we were thinking, but we both took a closer look and burst into laughter simultaneously as we considered what all the visitors must have thought of our taste when a stray eye would have landed on this oddity. Note the Mona Lisa smile, paired with the stubby antenna. A cross between "My Favorite Martian" and a lipstick commercial.

I had originally considered giving it away as prize to someone with the most interesting story of what they would do with it, but am reconsidering. After all, Halloween is just around the corner and it would actually fit in quite nicely with the other decorations.

What about you? Give it to me straight. What sorts of bad-taste chotchkies do you have displayed around your house? If your story is good enough, I might just send you this beauty after the Halloween season!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Aqua Powers Resonate!

Yesterday, Dan over at All That Comes With it, in a comment to my "Worshiping a False Hero" post, questioned my childhood idolization of Aquaman. I was taken aback. Didn't every kid idolize this watered down superhero? Dan must surely have missed the nuances that made Aquaman the mega superhero that he is. I think the following video should set Dan straight.

Watch closely and notice how Aquaman and Aqualad adroitly handle those wild sea horses, and how our aqua hero smartly uses his telepathic ability to summon all the oceans creatures to be his aqua posse and to help defeat the evil Nepto and his roguish sea viking raiders! Need I say more?

No apology needed Dan. Just pass on the good word about Aquaman across the pond!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Worshiping a False Hero

I have always been a huge sports fan. Back in the mid 1970's, watching all kinds of spectator sports and their various superstars perform amazing feats of athleticism while I sat glued to the television on lazy weekend afternoons, was what I lived for. I was a pre-teen then, and idolizing some of these men as heros came naturally. About that same time, I was also leaving behind my worship of comic book superheros such as Aqua Man, Batman and my personal favorite Superman.
Those early days of The Justice League gave way to idolization of sports teams and their superstars such as the New York Yankees with Reggie Jackson, the Philadelphia 76ers with Dr. J., or even Richard Petty and his NASCAR racing team. But to me, above all those and other mega stars, one player stood out as a special sports hero to me. Unfortunately, it was O.J. Simpson of the Buffalo Bills.

( Yes, I even had my very own O.J. Jersey!)

To this day, I distinctively remember watching in awe as O.J. sliced and diced his way through opposing defenses (ok, maybe a not the best choice of verbs) with such style and grace that I wanted to be just like him. It was amazing to me how O.J. would slowly get up limping after an amazing run which culminated in being slammed to the ground by several opposing defenders. He would gingerly limp back to the huddle, me holding my breath wondering how badly hurt he was, only to have him break off another graceful dash down the sidelines on the next play. Yes, The Juice had special skills.

As I'm sure most of us do, I also remember the shocking news of his wife's murder back in 1994, and the infamous low speed chase in the white Bronco. I watched the trial of the century with utter fascination, and heartfelt sadness that a childhood hero of mine had fallen so low. I was also convinced of his guilt, and like most of the people I knew, was equally shocked to hear the not guilty verdict. I still remember that moment vividly. It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. It was blow to my young notion that in my country justice would always be served.

(photo by bullywhippit)

Now, 13 years later, comes the news that O.J. Simpson has finally been convicted for a separate set of crimes, including kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from an incident in a Las Vegas casino a year ago in which he attempted to steal some of his own sports memorabilia. With this conviction also comes the word that The Juice could even spend the rest of his life in prison for committing these crimes. Clearly a case of right sentence, wrong crime. Yes, O.J. should be rotting in a jail cell for the rest of his natural life, and you won't find many people who will be shedding tears for this terrible, iconic figure in American pop culture.

It seems odd to me now that as a child I idolized such a morally corrupt person. The fact was, that like most sports stars of those days, I knew a whole lot about O.J. Simpson the athlete, and very little about O.J the man. I do believe that with the proliferation of the media culture of today such disparity of knowledge has narrowed, thus making it easier for those kids today who are looking for a true hero to worship.

As Lukas grows and becomes aware of such things, I will do my very best to keep him from being awed by a high performing athlete's on-the-field accomplishments and automatically putting that person on a pedestal. It will be a fine line I'm sure. I don't want him to lose that sense of wonder and excitement at seeing those amazing feats of athletic prowess, I just want him, in the end, to judge the man's character by what he does off the field or court. Things like how he treats his family, or how he deals with adversity. Those things are the true measure of a man. Not, how fast he can run through an airport, or dodge defenders.

As for O.J., I hope for everyone's sake that this pariah of a man is in fact sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars. He deserves it, if not for this crime, then for the murders he committed all those years ago. It would be a fitting end to a sad chapter in American pop culture history.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A New Sheriff!

(Sheriff Lukas - 2008)

Yep folks, there's a new sheriff in town! This new sheriff promises that he will make a strong effort to clean things up around here! He also indicates that given the proper time, he will certainly flush away the dirty elements that have been menacing this humble abode.

The residents around here, though skeptical that anything can be done right away, do welcome the idea that this sheriff will eventually restore order, serenity, and cleanliness to this small community.

(Sheriff James - 1968)

The old sheriff did a pretty decent job for many years. He was a beloved figure, especially with the attractive females around town. However, with the community growing in population, leading to an increasingly cluttered and failing infrastructure as well as increased rowdiness over the past several months, he has grown tired. The result being that too many punishable offenses have been allowed to slide by without proper retribution.
Lawlessness is on the increase, with the younger members of the community committing numerous previously unknown acts in these parts, such vandalizing public property and abusing local house pets. A change was necessary!
And now, with the news spreading quickly, the rogue elements are in disarray and are running scared. It's once again safe to visit our town!