Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Playing Nice

Being our only child, Mrs. LIAYF and I are very invested in Lukas' emotional well-being.  Perhaps too invested at times.

Lukas is an outgoing kid and a lot of fun to be around.  And, he is not is timid. If he enters a room full of kids, even if they are older, he will jump right in and start to play.  Not only that, he will have definite opinions as to how that play develops.  Often, he is the kid on the playground calling the shots. 

He seemed to have nurtured that mindset while in care with Mrs. LIAYF, during his 8 month hiatus from his daycare. During that time he was in a much smaller group of kids.  Of that group he was the oldest, and clearly the most developed of the children, so he became the de-facto leader of the group.

However now that he is back in his old center, this time in a pre-school classroom with 32 kids, he has had to reestablish himself in the social pecking order of a new group.

I witnessed a couple of instances last week while picking up Lukas, where he was playing contently by himself while a group of his peers were laughing and playing together.  Later, I asked him about who he played with that day, and he indicated that his friends "Kinda didn't want me to play with them."  He said this without too much associated emotion.  Pursuant to his personality, he seemed alright with that.

I, on the other hand, was extremely sad for him at the time.  I had actually witnessed this behavior 2 or 3 times and I was sure that he was being ostracized from the group for being too forceful with his will.  I told Mrs. LIAYF about this fear, and she related to me that she had noticed something similar while dropping him off one morning.  We talked to his teacher, who indicated he was just learning to fit back into the group.  A group which had had several months to learn each other's style of play.

Still, as parents we took this hard.  Our son has always been socially outgoing with everyone he meets, and to think that now he was being told by his friends that he wasn't welcome made both of us pain for him.  The thought actually made me as melancholy as I had been in a long time.  After all, we couldn't do much to help him out.  This was something he would have to deal with all day at school, while we were off at our jobs.  Obviously feelings of guilt at leaving him there also started to creep in.

Mrs. LIAYF and I even spent an evening dwelling on how he was having to deal with these issues and wondering if there were ways we could make him feel better.  The next day was a carnival at his school and, as we arrived we were apprehensive about how he would be interacting with his friends.

We shouldn't have been. 

As it turned out, he ended up playing all afternoon at the carnival with his peer group.  Plus,  I have since witnessed him playing within the group on multiple occasions.  They all seemed to be enjoying each others company.  His teacher even gave him a glowing report yesterday when I picked him up.  "Awesome day playing with the other kids" she told me, knowing I had been concerned.

I guess that my son, at three, is old enough to figure such social matters out on his own.  And, that maybe his Mom and Dad shouldn't own his feelings quite so much. It was a learning experience for us too.

Hey, we have only been parents for three years.  We'll figure things out soon enough.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Is Fun: Giveaway

"This disc is a good one.  I'm excited about it."

Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I were with friends visiting a music festival at a local park when we happened upon Presidents of the United States of America front man Chris Ballew, aka Caspar Babypants strumming on his guitar.  It was in the woods and there weren't too many people around, so we struck up a conversation.  The topic eventually came around to his upcoming Caspar Babypants studio release This is Fun.  I mentioned that I had just received a review copy in the mail and received the above response.

That was a few weeks ago now, and I have to say that after listening to it on almost continuous play since, he was justified in his excitement.  This is Fun is, as advertised, fun.  It is also, like his first two kid music releases under the Babypants alias, quirky, catchy, and infectious.

This is not just a kids album, it is an album that you will, dare I say, really enjoy.  Mrs. LIAYF and I certainly do, and there are relatively few kid focused releases that we can say that about.  There isn't an adult cringe worthy track out of the 20 included and the very first offering All You Pretty Babies always gets our toes tapping, and Lukas dancing from the get go.

That being said, my favorite track from This Is Fun (followed closely by Dark of Night, a duet with Elizabeth Mitchell) is actually a cover of another Seattle band.  Caspar Babypants really kicks things into high gear on the Nirvana song Sliver accompanied by none other than Nirvana's Krist Novoselic on Bass.

"Grandma take me home! Grandma take me home! Grandma take me home!"  Chris bellows as the song reaches it's pinnacle.   

Indeed, this is fun.

This Is Fun releases on November 2nd, but leave me a comment or, if you are on Twitter, tweet about this and mention @SeattleDad and I will enter you into a drawing to receive a copy of the album which I will hold Friday, October 1st.

Must be a resident of the US or Canada to win and leave a valid email address or Twitter handle.

Full disclosure: All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. I have been given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Double Down

I'm over at DadRevoution today talking about memories pre and post fatherhood.  Below is an excerpt from the post.  If your interested I'd appreciate if you'd click on over and check it out.
My son is only three years old, and something strange occurred to me recently. I can’t really remember how I spent most of my free time before I was a dad. It’s odd because I must have had tons of it. Free time that is.
I mean if I think of it, back then I didn’t have to do all the extra maintenance that comes from having a 3 year old boy. Like the extra laundry and dishes and food prep. Similarly I didn’t have to spend my evenings preparing a snack for him the next day, just in time to then participate in his nightly bedtime routine. [READ MORE]
Plus, I didn't get around to linking up the post I did two weeks ago over at DadRevolution.  It was about raising Lukas to understand how lucky he is in a world of limited resources.  You can also click here to read that post.  Here is a sample:
“He’s a lucky boy.” Mrs. LIAYF said to me, as we both were glancing over at our son who was animatedly ‘putting out a fire’ in his play area.
It was one of those grounding moments. You know, the kind that makes you take pause and recalibrate your mindset once again. I, as I suspect most people do, need that every so often. That’s because as much as I get caught up in the daily list of tasks, together with my beautiful wife, of keeping the hamster that is life racing steadfastly along its wheel, it’s necessary to stop every so often and take stock of how fortunate we actually are.  [READ MORE]
Thanks, and if you don't already, please consider adding Dad Revolution to your RSS Reader. You won't be disappointed in the content.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: I Get Mad Edition

Draper, this coffee is too hot.  Could you cool it off?  Please.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thug 1

No One Touches the Ship, Capish?

It would seem that I've now been designated as Muscle.  A nameless but necessary tag along for my 3 year old son. If you have ever seen any movie or television crime drama sporting a bad guy you will recognize the character to which I'm referring.  I'd be one of those two or three dudes that silently stand behind the headlining character. The one who is looking to 'accumulate' things.

If the credits were to roll on my recent outing with Lukas, I'm pretty sure I'd be listed as: Thug 1.

If I happened to be interviewed about that outing it might go something like:

"Yeah, we were working a three year old birthday party Saturday night at a local play center, and the Boss wants me there in case there's some trouble, ya know.  Well, everythin' seemed to be goin' fine and all when, outta nowhere, this other little dude from a rival family tries to grab the Boss's Pirate Ship.  Words were exchanged and all of us guys were reaching inside our jackets for our pieces (Reese's), when cooler heads prevailed.  Good thing too, cause things coulda gotten messy in a hurry."

The above mentioned incident did, in fact, take place.  After the said commotion had ended Lukas' will had prevailed and he ended up with the Pirate Ship in question.  But then, not 5 minutes later, he decided that he was going to move on and play with something else. 

Enter Thug 1.

"Guard this Daddy!" came the command as I was catching up with another parent.  I looked down to see the ship in question rising towards me.  And, as I took a moment to finish my thought, I heard another "Daaaaddddy?"  Apparently I wasn't responding quick enough (a mistake that could have serious repercussions given my role).  I looked down to find him holding the pirate ship over his head ala Cusak and his boom box in Say Anything.

"Got it buddy" I responded grabbing the ship.  Although the other boy was currently no where to be seen, one couldn't be too sure.

Then a little while later, having now successfully proven my worth, I was once again entrusted with an important assignment.  Mrs. LIAYF had come to take him to the bathroom in anticipation of the party soon ending.  But before he went, I was entrusted with not one, but TWO Buzz Lightyears to "Guard". 

Given my newfound role, what I really wanted to do was go and stand in front of the bathroom door, sunglasses on, and with my legs spread shoulder width apart and hands cupped in front of me at crotch level (they must teach that move in 'muscle' school) , but I decided that might look a bit on the strange side since I was still holding a Buzz doll in each hand.

So, I moved to a sidewall to prevent a move on the toys from behind.  A quick glance of the room revealed only one suspicious looking Mom.  However, I quickly squashed any sinister ideas she was cooking up with a measured stare in her direction.  The toys would be safe from rival families.

Sure, Thug 1 may be nameless, but he's good at his job.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Easy Choice

letter E Á S Capital Letter Y (Takoma Park, MD)

It was one of those mornings.  I had it all carefully timed out to let Lukas sleep until the very last moment before waking, dressing, and getting him out the front door.  Barring anything out of the ordinary, I would be pulling into his preschool about 10 minutes before 8:00.  I would sign him in, take him to the bathroom to make sure his bladder was empty and his hands were washed.  Then, after a big hug and a kiss I'd zip off to work.

Of course, careful planning would have actually built in extra time for things to go awry.  They always seem to do so when you're in a hurry. Although I'm no rookie, I'm still getting back into the swing of getting him out the door on time after several months without that job.

And on this particular morning, I was in a hurry.  Nothing big barred us from leaving the house on time.  It was more of a series of little things.  Lukas didn't want to get out of bed for one.  He was still tired, having fallen asleep later than optimal the night before.  Plus, I didn't have everything ready to grab and go like I should have.  He needed extra clothes that day.

The end result was that we arrived at preschool a few minutes after 8:00.  Not normally a big deal, but that day I had an event starting at my work promptly at 8:00.  Thankfully, I worked close by.  So I sent him to the bathroom while I signed him in.  Then I heard "Uh Oh" as I approached.  It turned out he missed the mark and peed down his leg onto his pants.  Sigh. 

No problem.  Like a well oiled machine I sat him down on a little couch without blinking and proceeded to change him into clean clothes.  As I did he grabbed a nearby book and started thumbing through it.  In no time flat, like Super Dad, I had him back into dry pants and ready to tackle the day.

It was then that he turned to me, holding up the book.  "Will you read this to me Daddy?" he asked.  "Nope, I have to leave for my meeting buddy" I responded succinctly as I went to put away the dirty pants.  However, after doing a circuit of the noisy, echoing room clutching the book, my son returned with a disappointed look on his face.  Another 3 year old friend of his had only stuck out his tongue when Lukas asked if he wanted to look at it with him.  "Please read this to me Daddy?"  he politely asked again.  But I was in a rush to get to work.

As I was grabbing the doorknob to leave, a quick glance at my watch revealed that it was 8:10. "Why don't you ask one of the teachers to read it to you?"  I suggested.  But as the words were leaving my mouth my eyes were taking a scan of the room.  The teachers were all otherwise engaged and tending to the group of kids who were swirling about the room.  I didn't see that suggestion coming to fruition. It seemed to me, in that instant, that the surrounding chaos faded away and Lukas and I were suddenly alone in the room. 

I looked down at him.  He was still glancing at me with pleading eyes.  They said 'Please Daddy.'  I thought of work. Then realized that I work so that I can have moments such as these.  In that moment it became an easy choice. 

So we found the quietest corner we could and read it together.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So He Sent Them to Bed Without Any Bananas

Dad Blogs Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Follow the Beaver

Ever seen a Beaver on a Leash?

Today's my birthday.  Like most birthdays in your 40's, I wasn't too excited at the prospect. After all, there is nothing at all special about turning 43.  40? That's a milestone.  42 is the meaning of everything.  44 looks cool because there are two 4's.  Even 45 is better, because it's halfway to 90.

But 43?.....meh.

But wait.  There actually was something special about turning 43.  Of course, spending the day with my lovely wife and amazing son was terrific...but I get to do that every day.  Yes, I'm lucky that way.

No, today Mrs. LIAYF and Lukas collaborated to give me something, shall we say, outside the box.  It took everything trick in the book to keep Lukas from spilling the beans to me, but in the end Mrs. LIAYF was able to keep the trip to a local zoo secret.

Once there I was treated to a Camel ride.  How cool is that?  I am actually this moment adding it to my Bucket list, just so I can cross it off.  Done, and Done.  The only problem was that when I sat on him it didn't seem to agree with him in the least.

I was actually going on the camel ride with Lukas, but as I climbed aboard the grumpy beast decided to sit.  The sudden lurch forward and down forced Lukas's face into the saddle bar that he was holding, splitting his lip and making him cry. 

Not seeing any Rodeo Clowns

Once the trainers finally convinced Dumas to get up, Mrs. LIAYF pulled Lukas off and the camel immediately dropped down again.  By then a crowd had formed to witness the drama.  After a couple of more minutes of convincing, Dumas once again rose to his feet shaking me violently from side to side. But I remained in the saddle.  I felt a bit like Luke Perry in 8 seconds.  I should have thrown my arm up and behind me for dramatic effect.

With that, the crowd cheered (okay, maybe I imagined that part) and I then rode my camel around its track, all the while smiling at the bystanders like a float queen on New Year's Day.  Yes, It was memorable.

But oh no, the fun didn't end there.  Not at all.  We still had a zoo and aquarium to explore.  It wasn't too long after the camel ride that we turned a corner to see two zoo keepers walking a Beaver through the grounds on a leash.  "Follow the Beaver" I called as Lukas and his mother came over and we all got an up close view of the furry, over sized, wood chomping rodent. (Yes, a beaver is really a rodent.  I do my research here.)

Other highlight of the day included:

An up close look at a Walrus' privates, as it swam right next to our faces which were only separated by several inches of solid glass.

Lukas seeing that a Giant Pacific Octopus' favorite toy was a Mr. Potato Head. (Nope it wasn't Darth Tater but I bet it would love one for Christmas)

Lukas seeing the sharks, and also seeing that the Sea Otter's had a Little Tikes climbing cube just like his. Though they probably get more use out of it than we do.

The Jelly fish exhibit.  However, I must say it was rather disappointing that there wasn't an accompanying Peanut Butter fish exhibit.  Did I mention that this was around lunch time?

Lukas feeds a Budgie out of his hand

All, in all it was a fantastic birthday experience which was made perfect simply by the fact that I got to spend it with my Lukas and Mrs. LIAYF. Perhaps 43 will be a pretty good year after all. 

It certainly got off to a beastly start. In a good way.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Flex Plan

I've been meaning to start working out again for some time now.

I think I need to start slowly. To work in some serious stretching. You know, ease my way into it. This is especially true since I think my body is beginning to atrophy from my sedentary job.  I'm just not as flexible as I used to be.

The fact is I really dread dropping things these days. Because hey, It's a long way down there. Some days, It's almost seems as if - following my lead of being proactive on things - rigor mortis has decided 'Why put off until he's dead, what can be done today?'

Of course when you have to keep up with a 3 year old, this is not at all good.

I was once again reminded of this again the other night as Mrs. LIAYF and I were beginning Lukas's night time routine. After his bath, they decided to do a round of yoga before bed. Apparently they had been practicing in the previous months they had spent together, since Lukas knew several poses. They both plopped gently down on the floor of his bedroom.

I just stood there and observed.

They started with a pose called Cat-Cow, two animals I was very familiar with having grown up on the farm. Thankfully, their Cat-Cows were much more palatable than those I had grown up with.

Then they did the Baby pose to Lukas' obvious delight.  He was all grins as he rocked his legs back and forth and pretended he was an infant again. It was fun to watch them.

"Time for Downward Dog" Mrs. LIAYF called out and as they assumed that position Lukas, true to his humorous toddler form, joked that it was time for me to wipe his bum. Finally, after a couple of other poses I can't remember the names of (one of them looked like The Crane from the Karate Kid movie) Mrs. LIAYF said "Let's do one that Daddy can do too!" "It's called The Gorilla" she continued as they both stood up, bent over and let their arms hang to their sides.

"That one I can do" I chuckled as I bent over to partake in the pose.

In the end, I guess I did alright. However, all the while I kept thinking to myself that I needed to begin that workout routine sooner rather than later. That's because the whole time, instead of my pose looking like this....

I 'm pretty sure it actually ended up looking like this....

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plenty of Time

I'm not sure how the conversation started.

Next year he will be in Pre-kindergarten.

His birthday is in June. Should we send him to one year of Pre-K, or two?

Perhaps one year at his current location, and one at what will be his kindergarten?

She does research.

Our school lines have recently been redrawn. The elementary which is closest is not where he would be assigned.

They rank 25th in the state. Out of over 1000 schools.

The one he will be attending, the one farther away, was 225th.

Decent.....but not 25th.

Can we appeal to get in?

There is yet another close by. Their test scores are off the charts.

Ah, a school for gifted students.

If it were up to the parents, this is where all the kids would be.

Curious. My elementary, in its small town rural setting.....996th.

I'm not the Amazing Kreskin, but I do predict an improvement there next year.

At the one he will be attending, (#225) city police shot a man with an AK-47 a couple blocks from it last week.

Somehow, all of this is too real.

I'm still wiping his butt for crying out loud.

We still have time.

Plenty of time.

We agree to put this aside for at least a year.

And simply enjoy this age while we can.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First, A Few Words

Lukas is 3 years old now and still so much fun to be around.  The pure joy he demonstrates each day as he sets out with enthusiasm to face a world largely unknown to him is amazingly infectious.  It's a large part of his personal magnetism and the allure of nearly all kids this age.

It makes me happy. It gives me reason to smile and laugh several times a day.  I can see why some people keep having child after child. They're like junkies.

Let's face it.  By the time we have hit our 40's we have for the most part seen it all before.  Experienced it all before.  There is little new to stimulate our imagination.  But kids? They encounter new stuff on a daily basis and are thrilled at much of what they experience.  As an adult and as a father this is an incredible process to watch unfold.  To see my son experience something for the first time.

Firsts.  I often think about them when they are happening for Lukas but most often forget about them as life quickly moves along its relentless timeline.  It seems that nearly every day there is another first for my son.  Some of them these I have chronicled here.  Such as his first word, his first straw, his first stand, his first steps, his first ice cream cone, his first pedaling, and most recently his first camping trip and his first movie.

Others I think about mentioning but never get around to it, while still others are mere happy memories.  These are the little things that most people probably take for granted.  But certainly not when witnessed through the ecstatic eyes of a small child.  Some recent examples for Lukas are his first parade, his first water balloon, his first hard candy, his first lollipop, and of course his first electric toothbrush.

Of course, there will be many many more firsts for my little guy.  I know him, and I know that he will greet each one with curiosity, enthusiasm, and a zest for the experience that I would probably be jealous of, if I didn't feel so overwhelmingly privileged to watch take place.

Even if you are new to my blog you've probably figured it out by now that, yes, even though I'm in in my 40's I can still find joy and wonderment in a first of my own.

My first child.