Monday, May 30, 2011

Dad Bucket List

Like nearly all dads out there, from the day Lukas was born there has been a whole list of things I've wanted to do with him, or see him accomplish. 

Of course, when he was first born he was merely a squishy little blob who would cry and poop, then turn around and cry some more and poop lots more.  Obviously it would be a while before I could take him on our first hike together, or play my first video game with him.

Thankfully, as Lukas has gotten older, I have been able to cross off several experiences from this mental list, including taking him on his first independent hike and playing our first video games, as well as seeing him ride a bike for the first time, and just last week doing our very first ocean boogie boarding together, which was an absolute blast.

But as time has passed and items kept getting crossed off, new one have also been added. Recently, though unofficial, I have taken to calling this list my Dad Bucket List.

Now, I have been contemplating making this an actual working list, rather than just ideas bouncing around in my head.  But what to add?  And just how far into the future should I look?  Obviously this idea is still in it's early stages of development but depending on how much actual thought I put into it, it could serve as a springboard to many wonderful shared experiences between Lukas and myself.

Or, it could just end up being another exercise that gets partially completed.  I would hope not though as I think this idea does have potential.

But now the hard part.  What to actually put on a Dad Bucket List? Perhaps I'll just start with 15 things off the top of my head that I still look forward to experiencing with Lukas for the first time as a dad.  I know that as soon as I hit 'Publish' there will be several more that bounce to the front of my mind, but sure enough, I'll add and refine them.

So, off the top of my head, here are my first 15:

1.  Watching the original Star Wars movie.
2.  Witnessing his first organized sporting competition
3.  Building and launching first model rocket.
4.  Overnight backpacking trip.
5.  Attending a Star Gazing Party.
6.  Having him read me a story.
7.  Coaching one of his teams.
8.  Riding a large wooden roller coaster.
9.  Reading the Harry Potter Books with him (I haven't yet read them).
10. Taking an Ocean Kayaking trip.
11. Trip to the batting cages
12. Watching a Movie at a Theatre
13. Getting a Major League Autograph.
14. Sailing outing together
15. Catching his first Fish

I'll admit I struggled a bit on how to word these, but basically they are just things I want to either experience with Lukas, or be there to witness first hand as a dad.

So tell me readers, so you like the idea of a Dad Bucket List?  And if so what's on your Dad, or Mom, Bucket List?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mr. Pac Too Much Man

Not the whitest kid on the beach, but maybe the cutest?

Greetings, or more appropriately Aloha from Sunny Hawaii.  For those of you who couldn't guess from the picture I posted earlier, we are on the island of Oahu.  Kailua, on the windward side to be precise. It's a picture perfect destination, with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and we are very much enjoying it's charms.

As we do on most vacations, we opted not to stay at a resort but to rent a cottage near the beach in a smaller town instead.  It's less expensive this way, and although there are still a lot of tourists around, most of the people hanging out at this gorgeous white sand beach are locals.  We have found this to be our type of relaxing vacation, but of course there are drawbacks.  One that comes to mind is that, given that this is a beach community, most of the locals spend a lot of time in the water, getting tanned and incredibly fit.   Mrs. LIAYF even commented to me the other day "Wow, everyone is in such good shape here."

Now I am a reasonably slender guy, but hanging out on the beach amidst all these locals has more than once made me feel like I was Uncle Buck out there.  And being fairly pale from the rainy Seattle winter and spring hasn't helped matters either.  Thankfully though, we are not the whitest people on the beach. Yes, we make sure to spot those who are early on with each trip down there.

Another thing we realized shortly after we arrived was how grossly over packed we were.  The three of us each had carry on backpacks, plus we each checked an additional bag. Add to that a car seat and we were slugging through the airport.  One of our rolling duffel's was even 6 pounds over the 50lb limit and I had to quickly shift those pounds to the other bags or pay Alaskan another 50 spot.  This was after we bought a couple of those vacuum seal bags to conserve more space to pack unnecessary things.

Our over-packing probably stemmed from Mrs. LIAYF and I being so incredibly busy leading up to the trip.  We had practically zero spare time to even think about what we would need, so we ended up just bringing things, just in case.

In my own case, things such as....

A Beach tent - Way too windy here to use, even if we wanted to.
Pants - Seemed like a good idea in Seattle.
Fleece pullover - For those chilly Hawaiian evenings?
15 too many shirts - We have a washer and dryer, so I could have brought just 4 or 5.
3 books - What, the islands turn me into Evelyn Wood?
4 swimsuits -  I have used only the one. Newsflash, it dries in the sun.
Beach towels - Yes, these were provided at our cottage
Multiples of almost every bathroom item - Er...I should have checked with my wife.

This was only really the tip of the iceberg, as Mrs. LIAYF also packed much more than she or Lukas would need for clothes, along with loads of toys and books for Lukas, and a few containers of dry foods so that we wouldn't have to spend so much on food when we got here.

It's not like we are amateurs at packing either as Mrs. LIAYF and I spent two weeks in Germany and Italy about 10 years ago with only a large backpack each for the whole trip. But alas, that was well before we were parents and we had plenty of time to carefully plan each item we would take along.  Even so, too much stuff or not, right now we are just happy to be on vacation. 

Plus, I will probably be in much better shape by the time I schlep all these heavy bags back to Seattle.

How about you readers?  Do you over-pack when you go on vacations too?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Twelve Years Past

Twelve years ago today, the best decision I ever made had it's day in the Sun, literally.  May 23rd, 1999 was a glorious 85 degrees without a cloud in the Olympia, Washington sky. 

The day was almost as beautiful as my radiant new bride.

Now, a dozen years later, my love for Mrs. LIAYF is stronger than ever, and she has shown me over and over again, through countless acts of selflessness, compassion, humor, and love, that there was good reason that once I saw her walking down the aisle that day, my nerves immediately disappeared. 

We have been through 12 years of ups and downs. Mostly ups.  And we now have an awesome son who is a product of our happy union.  Yes, this is certainly the way it's supposed to be.

Happy Anniversary Honey.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


So team LIAYF is on vacation. FINALLY!  I can honestly say that of all the vacations I have taken in my two score and some years, that I have never (none even close) needed one like I did leading up to this one.  The past couple of years, and especially the past 6 months have been especially stressful on multiple fronts, not the least of which has come from work pressures, and this trip has been highly anticipated.

Already, only one day in, and despite some early challenges (read: rain, disappointing room accommodations which lead to an immediate change, a nasty hacking cough from yours truly which kept the whole family awake most of last night, and yes, a lobster red streak across my back that is sure to start torturing me anytime now) the stresses are starting blow away with the swift island breezes.

It helps to have a nearly 4-year-old along for the trip.  To some this may seem counter intuitive, but not for us as Lukas never ceases to be a joy to  have around.  From the ear to ear grin on his face as he sat in his window seat in anticipation of, then while the plane was taking off, to his eagerness to talk to the Captain as we exited, and his insistence on pulling his own bag through the airport despite it being well after midnight Seattle time. 

Then today, seeing his squeals of excitement, non-stop laughter and chant of "Wipe out!" as he took on the mighty Pacific for the very first time on a boogie board, each time running back in for more, it just made me extremely relaxed and happy.

Tomorrow, more of the same is on the agenda. Minus I hope the dramas of our first day.  We may even think to pull out our camera and take a few pictures, something we are notoriously terrible at remembering to do.  Then, on Monday it's the lovely Mrs. LIAYF and my 12th Anniversary.  I'm not at all sure of what the symbol of the 12th anniversary is - Sand would make sense - but whatever it is, I can't think of a better place to be spending it with my wonderful wife, and little guy.

Where exactly are we?  Here's a hint:

Granted, it was a bit cloudier here on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I have mentioned here before that I am a big fan of my hometown band, the legendary Grunge rockers Pearl Jam.

Personally, I consider PJ to be the greatest living and still united American band, period.  Sure you could make valid arguments for other bands, but for me there is just something different about Ed and the guys that set them apart.

What is that something? Maybe it was the Saturday Night Live performance of Alive back in 1992 which introduced me to the band, and had such a profound impact on the way I would view music for the next two decades.  Or perhaps it was their wild concert that same year at The Gorge in George, Washington which I made the trek to with 3 of my buddies that cemented that status in my mind. 

Then again, it could have been the concert of theirs I attended a couple of years later with my hot new girlfriend at Seattle's Mercer Arena (a truly amazing concert experience) where we shimmied our way to near the front of the jam packed crowd before she smiled at me and announced "I'm going up", then disappeared - crowd surfing off during a blistering set.  I knew right there Mrs. LIAYF was unlike anyone I had ever dated before.  And it was she who, a couple of years later had partial lyrics to the song Smile engraved into my wedding band, further endearing me to my favorite group, and her of course.

Pearl Jam, the band who had an awesome cameo as the group Citizen Dick in Cameron Crowe's classic movie Singles, turns 20 this year. 

There are a lot things planned to commemorate the anniversary including a Summer festival, a new studio album, and a documentary about the band by Crowe.  I thought I would add my own small commemoration to this 20th Anniversary lineup with a post listing my choice for the 20 best Pearl Jam songs.
Some of you might feel inclined to comment, telling me why you don't like the band.  Don't bother.  I know their music is not for everybody, and if you are one of those people...this is Not for You
But, if you ARE a fan, leave a comment telling me what some of your favorites are.  Here are mine:

1. Alive

2. Smile
3. Just Breath

4. Yellow Ledbetter
5. Black
6. Not for You
7. Daughter
8. State of Love and Trust
9. Life Wasted
10. Wishlist

11. Crazy Mary

12. Better Man
13. Man of the Hour
14. Given to Fly
15. Dissident
16. Evenflow
17. Bee Girl
18. Amongst the Waves

19. Garden
20. Nothingman

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rhymes With Sympathy

As unfathomable as it is to Mrs. LIAYF and I, seeing how we are fairly certain it was just a few weeks ago we first brought Lukas home from the hospital, we had our very first parent teacher conference with his primary teacher today.

Yes, they have those in pre-school these days.  We were shocked too.

Teacher Kate, whom Lukas adores and who will be pretty hard to top as the finest non-parent caregiver that our son will ever have, sat Mrs. LIAYF and I down this afternoon at a tucked away table, in a corner of the quiet restaurant a few blocks away from his pre-school. She then carefully laid out an evaluation sheet in front of each of us.  The form consisted of nearly 50 points of observation.  This was obviously one of the benefits of the lofty tuition charges we pay laid out before us in a tangible form.

We then proceeded to have a thoughtful discussion with her about each of those points.  But although it was a terrific exercise for us, we didn't learn too many things that we didn't already know about our little guy. Right now he's not so much into art or music, or rowdy play.  Rather he tends toward highly imaginative play and building interesting and unusual things with a variety of different materials.  He is also well liked and makes friends rather easily, while never excluding anyone from his games.

Then, to that last point Teacher Kate said something that truly stunned me.  She told Mrs. LIAYF and I that Lukas was "off the charts when it came to caring for his friends."  In fact, she said that he was "The most empathetic child in her any of her groups" followed up resolutely with the word  "Ever!"

I wondered if I had heard that correctly.  But yes, that is definitely what she said.

Wow!  This is the lead teacher of a large preschool program (there are 32 kids in his class this year) who has more than 15 years of experience with kids. That was amazing. 

She then went on to tell us how Lukas was always the first one to make other kids feel better when they were sad or hurt, and how he is always extremely generous with his toys. Those facts didn't stun or surprise us however.  We see those traits shine in our son on a daily basis.  If we give him treats or stickers, he is always immediately looking for someone to share them with. It makes him happy to give things away. And he always offers these items up with a smile on his face.

In fact, we went to a restaurant this afternoon and sat next to three on duty police officers.  When one gave him a sticker, he responded in kind by digging through his change wallet and offering each them a shiny penny to keep.  Seattle's finest really seemed to enjoy that exchange.

These are traits we, as parents, have stressed to our son from very early on and ones we believe will serve him well as he grows older.  But we've merely made suggestions to him. He's the one who has developed them as a part of his personality.  And of that we can be proud.

So, with our first parent teacher conference successfully under our belts, his mother and I drove over to his preschool to pick up our wonderful son.  And, as we arrived we peeked over the fence into the play yard to observe.  

He was sharing a box with one of his friends.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Locker Room Talk

Lukas started his first swimming classes this past week.  We enrolled him in the parent and tot program with me and he is loving every minute of it.  So much so, that with his recent obsession with superhero's I wouldn't be surprised if Aquaman becomes a new favorite.  Not that there's anything wrong with Aquaman of course.  I was once an Aquaman fan myself.

Anyway, we have only been to one class so far and we have already been working on kicking his feet, blowing out through his nose as he puts his head under water, and reaching with one hand and then the other as we moved through the pool to retrieve a toy we tossed ahead of us.  Like many of the sporting events we have undertaken, the swimming seemed to come naturally to him.

His locker room etiquette on the other hand? Not so much.

Prior to class starting we obeyed the posted rules and hit the showers to rinse off the outside world before depositing ourselves into the pool.  Next to us in the open shower cavern was a naked guy who was also showering, after apparently exiting the pool.  I pressed the button to turn on a shower head for Lukas.

Then as I was immersing myself with warm water, Lukas yelled at the top of his lungs - in his normal voice "Look Daddy!  Look, look!  That man is washing his pen*s!!  He's washing his pen*s! Hahaha. That's siwwey daddy" as he continued laughing while the water ran down his face. 

I think it was more that he was doing this cleansing in public that struck Lukas as amusing.  "He's just cleaning up Bud.  We all do that" I replied to him, as I turned to the other guy who I could tell was a father himself as I saw his older son showering on the other side of him.

"Uh, sorry Man" I offered to the other dad, a little embarrassed "It's our first time in a public locker room".  "I understand" he responded, pointing a thumb over at the kid next to him.

Then, a few minutes later, as we were drying off in another section of the locker room, Lukas whimpered a bit, before turning to me and telling me that "A man made a mad face a me, Daddy".  I looked around, before telling him that I was standing right there, and I didn't see anyone make a mad face at him.

"Yes he did!  He's right there!" my little guy shouted out loud again, pointing directly at another dad who was not 5 feet away from him.  "Look!" To Lukas' credit, the guy did have a pretty sour expression on his face, but it certainly wasn't directed at my little dude.  "Yeah!" Lukas continued - turning to me still shout talking through his clenched teeth and forcing his cheeks downward, "His face is doing this Daddy!!"

With that I couldn't help looking over at the dad once again to see how close he had nailed the guys expression, but at that he was already walking off to look for his son. And with that my 3 year old and I were briefly alone again in our section of the locker room. 

It was a good opportunity to have a one on one with him about locker room etiquette. And about keeping his thoughts to himself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dad Streaking

Hi all.  I am over at Dad Revolution today talking about streaking.  No, not that kind of streaking wise guy.  I have yet to subject the public to such trauma, and I'm happy keeping it that way.

But I do talk a bit of baseball, and also of my own impressive personal record that I hope to keep up for years to come.

You can read that post here. 

When your are done reading, let me know if you're a streaker too. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Boy's Best Friend

"It's dead Buddy.  Daddy's going to have to flush it down the toilet."  Mrs. LIAYF informed Lukas.

"Ohhhhh" he whined.  "But he was my fwind".  "Can't we keep him?"

"Nope, sorry.  If we do, his body will just start to decay and then some flies will find him and lay eggs in him" she held her ground.

"I know what we can do" he whispered quietly with a smile forming on his face "We can put him in a box and keep him in my room where things can't get to him." 

It seemed like a pretty sound plan.

"No Buddy, friend or not, we are not going to box that thing up so you can keep it in your room Silly. That's kinda gross" she responded with a smile of her own, as she politely asked me to dispose of the body.

"Really? This was your friend?" "Uh, sorry Bud" I laughed as I picked up the large dead house fly with a piece of toilet paper and unceremoniously deposited it into the toilet bowl, before sending it on its final journey.

Thankfully, he didn't seem too broken up about it.