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!