Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dad Resolutions For 2012

Happy New Year 2012!
This will be my last post here at Luke, I am Your Father.

Of  2011 that is.   Ba Dum, Dum! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Yes, It's still 2011 here in Seattle as I write this, but the New Year is currently steamrolling across to globe and headed our way like a bunch of crazed, vintage 1985, Seahawks fans leaping from their seats in a successive Wave, and throwing their arms wildly into the air. Only, it's timing is much better.

And, even though it's been quite a while since I partied like it was 1999 (our store of Poppers for tonight not withstanding - woo hoo!), I wanted to make sure to note the passing of the old year and welcome the new one with a final post containing some of my goals for my role as a father for the upcoming calendar year.

Yeah, resolutions can be a lame attempt by those lacking proper normal resolve to use the changing of the calendar as a metaphor for the changing of their habits to ones which might serve themselves better in the upcoming year. But hey - when you are generally sleep deprived and up to your eyeballs in daily 'tasks', it doesn't hurt once a year to give yourself a mental boost by using them to give yourself a bit of extra motivation.

All that being said, even though I think I am a pretty good father to Lukas, I believe I can do even better in the new year.

So here are the 5 Dad Resolutions I have made for myself for 2012. 

1. I resolve to get to bed by midnight every night - This sounds crazy when I read it, but in reality I am often not getting to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning.  Especially on weekends.  Obviously this makes me tired the next day and I am subsequently not as engaged with Lukas as I could be.  I should really be in bed by 11:00 but will start with midnight for now.  Baby steps.

2. I resolve to look first for an opportunity to teach - I  joke around a lot with Lukas.  I like to make him laugh, and we do a lot.  But I really need to take a cue from Mrs. LIAYF and more often look first to teach Lukas about why things are the way they are, rather than turn it into a joke.  He deserves that more than I currently give to him.

3. I resolve to reduce my random online time by 50% - Sure, this is hard to measure, but it is a goal.  I spend a lot of time online doing things that don't ultimately benefit Lukas.  Cough*Twitter*Cough.  Yes, I still give him quite a bit of attention but I can still do better. And will.  This doesn't mean I will stop blogging, but there are certainly other areas where I can certainly reduce my screen time.

4.  I resolve to exercise 3 times a week -  This one is huge.  I am forty four years old now, and although I am not in terrible shape, I am not in good shape either.  I often  feel guilty when I am too exhausted to engage Lukas in an activity he wants to participate in.  As I get older, for Lukas' sake I really need to ensure he has a healthy father around.

5. I resolve to discipline more consistently - This is not a big problem with us, but I am a pretty laid back guy and can tend to let things go when I should be providing a more consistent message with Mrs. LIAYF.  It will definitely serve Lukas well as he grows older to have a clear message from both his parents on where his boundaries lie. 

So, tell me readers.  Do you have any parenting resolutions for 2012?  Care to share?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Top Post July - December

This is the 2nd half of my 2011 'Best Of' blog posts entry.  You can view the first installment, from earlier this month, here.  Taken together, they provide a primer on what 'Luke, I am Your Father' was about in 2011. 

This past year has been the 4th that I have published here, and honestly it has also been the most difficult.  I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the time or motivation to post regularly here.  I'm sure most bloggers experience this at some point.  Still, looking back I have published some good material this past year, and hope to continue doing so well into the future.

So, if you are new to the blog or just an occasional reader, check these following posts out and let me know what you think.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you in 2012, and beyond.

July: Transformers: The Dark Side of Pretending to go to the Moon: Strange things can happen when you combine walkie talkies, Transformers, and pretending to blast off for the moon.

August: The Dad Foodie: This father is a 'Foodie', but probably not the kind you're thinking of. 

September: Mermaid Spotting: I have NEVER taken my son to McDonald's, but we are from Seattle so.... 

October: 4 Year Old Mind Tricks: This is NOT the post you are looking for (waving hand back and forth). 

November: Taking a Deep Breath: When you feel yourself getting upset, sometimes it helps to sing a song. 

December: SeattleDad's 2011 Best Albums Post: My most thoroughly researched, non-parenting post! 

Honorable Mention: Where I am From: This started out as a Meme, but I went in my own direction.  With good results. 

Honorable Mention:  We're Adopting - You can Help We are still waiting for our second child to choose us. Read about our hopes for adopting him or her.

Thanks for reading.  Tell me readers, what were your favorite posts from 2011?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Get What You Want

This can certainly be a good strategy, but is by no means a sure thing.

Therefore, if you REALLY want something, at times it is better to take matters into your own hands.  Maybe employ an alternate strategy.

Like this:

Which, if done diligently, will in seemingly no time lead to this....

And soon enough, before you know it even you will have enough to buy yourself this...

We'll see when it arrives but I'm pretty sure this will travel waaaay higher than a Reindeer.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

SeattleDad's 2011 Best Albums Post

One thing I have noticed while perusing several 'Best of 2011' albums posts is that they are all vastly different.  I think that's a product of the fact that there is an abundance of great music being made right now, but also because with all the delivery choices out there these days, it's easy to focus on a narrower set of genres to the exclusion of others.

And I'll be the first to admit that this is probably the case with my list as it stands below.  I'm sure I have missed some great music simply for the fact that I haven't been exposed to it.  That being said, I have listened to a ton of great music this past year.  And the 20 listed below are the ones I personally consider the cream of the crop. Each title links to a video from a song on the album.  Enjoy.

1.  The Cave Singers - No Witch Smooth, folksy goodness oozes from the seams of this Seattle trios third release.  Great music to play while kicking back after a long day at the office. 

2.  Tapes n Tapes - Outside  When all the 'Best Of 2011' lists were coming out, I quickly scoured them all to see how high each rated this record.  Needless to say I was disappointed not to find it on ANY of them.  This record has addictive riffs and catchy hooks laden throughout. I probably played it more than any other record this year. Given that, I would be very interested in hearing what you think about it after giving a full listen.

3.  Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues  This second release from the Seattle folk rock artists is a beautiful, mellow, and  harmonious compilation that will surely be as fresh and relevant 10 years from now as it is today.

4.  Deer Tick - Divine Providence I've seen this record described as 'sophomoric' and 'a party album', which is probably true but hey it's also a lot of fun.  There are elements of punk, twang, garage rock, and humor all blended together to make what was easily my favorite noisy release of the year.

5.  Black Whales - Shangri-La Indeed  I had never listened to a Black Whales song before getting my subscription to Spotify, but I really enjoyed what I found in Shangri-La.  Yes, this is yet another Seattle band, and perhaps I am being a homer but if you haven't checked these guys out, believe me you won't be sorry you did.

6.  Beirut - The Rip Tide  Another beautiful record from Zach Condon full of Eastern European gypsy influences and indie vibes.  Beirut continue to be one of my all time favorite bands and The Rip Tide picks up nicely where The Flying Cup Club left off.

7.  We Are Augustines - Rise Ye Sunken Ships Pela was one of my favorite bands a couple of years ago, and I was pretty bummed when they broke up.  And, although I hadn't followed the career of band members Billy McCarthy or Eric Sanderson there was no mistaken it was their new collaboration when I first hear We Are Augustines.  This is a stunningly great record and on my most played list for 2011.

8.  Devotchka - 100 lovers  An eclectic, grand, and distinctly European sound, coupled with beautiful harmonies permeates this release.  Don't be surprised if you find yourself daydreaming while listening to this record.  Perhaps their best release to date.

9.  My Goodness - My Goodness 
Terrific debut from this Seattle Blues Punk duo. Has the riffs to keep you coming back over and over again.  Very similar to The Black Keys sound, but it has its own unique vibe.

10.  Sallie ford & The Sound Outside - Dirty Radio  Hailing from Portland, Oregon Sallie Ford had got unique pipes and a lot of fun rock and roll energy.  This release is full of rockabilly leaning music that is simply fun to listen to.

The second 10.  Honestly, any one of these could easily have cracked my top ten but although it was tough I had to choose.  I also have one confession.  Since they are not streaming it, and it was just recently released, I have only heard a couple of Songs from The Black Keys El Camino, but I am still ranking it in my top 20 because, after all, it's the Keys and thus is awesome. 

11. Mastodon - The Hunter
12.  Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
13. Fruit Bats -  Tripper
14. Youth Lagoon -The Year of Hibernation
15. Black Keys - El Camino
16. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
17. British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall
18. Jeff The Brotherhood - We Are The Champions
19. Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday
20. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo

Tell me readers, what where your top releases of 2011?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Picture that Didn't Make the Blog

Looking through our old pictures, I have found a few great ones which, for one reason or another, didn't originally make it onto the blog.  Like this one.

Lukas was 3 when this photo was snapped.  He had just commandeered this shovel from his good friend.   From her expression, can you guess how she felt about that?

Funny thing is, Mrs. LIAYF and I can routinely be found wearing those exact same expressions!

Thanks to my blogging buddy Lee over at An Ordinary Dad, for the idea for the post.

Photo Credit: Chris Landry Photo

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's School Choice Time! $K - 8

Throughout Lukas' first 4 years Mrs. LIAYF and I consistently held firm with a certain mantra. 

Despite statistics indicating that approximately 40% of Seattle families opt to send their children to private schools over a vastly less expensive public option, we weren't buying it.  "We went to public school and turned out just fine" we would tell anyone who broached the subject.  And "We're not even considering private school as an option"  we told not only friends and family, but each other often when we thought about the choice we would have to make someday far in the future regarding where Lukas would go to kindergarten and beyond.

We honestly considered public school as our one and only choice.  End of story. 

But, and I'm sure you've gathered this by now, a funny thing happened along our path to loading Lukas onto a bus bound for the neighborhood elementary.  As he entered Pre-K we started taking a more thoughtful look at the choices that were out there, and began to educate ourselves about the quality, cost, and philosophies of those different options. 

While Mrs. LIAYF was busy checking private school application deadlines (many of which are due by mid-January), we scheduled some tours and attended some open houses at some very nice schools.  Schools where, personally, I was AMAZED at the individualized and challenging lesson plans for kids starting in kindergarten. 

These were schools with top-notch facilities, small class sizes, enthusiastic and engaged teachers, and caring and involved parents.  Schools where the 3rd and 4th graders were addressing the large tour groups and giving presentations, the likes of which even to this day would make my knees buckle more than a bit, with confidence and ease.  In short, it was clear to us that for most of these private schools, the kids who attended were getting a fantastic education. And they made us want very much to send our son there.

This is not to say Lukas wouldn't get a decent education at his local public school - which is one of the better public schools in Seattle.  However, we have yet to tour it or even talk to the Kindergarten teachers.  That's because tours in our public schools aren't allowed until late February, long after applications are due at the private schools.  So basically, to even consider these private schools we have to get those apps in now, at up to $100 a pop.

What we do know about our Seattle public option, however, is that the class sizes are going to be huge, up to a 26 or 27 to 1 teacher to student ratio in Kindergarten with no teachers aides (Washington has the 3rd largest ratio in the country), and the schools are bringing in portables to handle the extra kids.  This, while we would also have to pay for the 2nd 1/2 day of Kindergarten.

I mentioned to a neighbor who has a child at our neighborhood school what we had heard mentioned regarding classes that size.  The kids in the middle get very little attention, while the needy kids and the squeaky wheels are focused on.  That's about sums it up, she indicated.

But that has only made our choice more difficult.  As you have probably already know, these private schools don't come cheap.  Yes, Mrs. LIAYF and I are both professionals making a decent living wage and we are extremely lucky to even be able to consider private school, but with all our other obligations, and the hope of another addition soon to our family, it would be extremely difficult to swing yearly tuition at the kindergarten level that rivals that of many colleges.  Sure, we will apply for any tuition assistance each school has to offer, though we are generally unsure what if any we would qualify for.
But the real question isn't "Can we afford it?" It's "Can we afford not to if we can at all find a way to make it work?"  Lukas is a bright, funny, and extremely social boy with loads of potential.  We love him to death and want the very best for him.  But the questions still remain.  With some of the extra savings from choosing a public school (even though we would be paying for full day vs half day public kindergarten) could we supplement with after school classes, trips, technology, etc... which would give just as good an overall experience?  Well, we're really not sure.

In the end our choice will most likely come down to where he gets admitted (did I mention these private schools are highly competitive for available spots?), how close that school is to where Mrs. LIAYF and I work, and how much, if any, tuition assistance is available.

 If the combination is favorable, and the stars align just right, next year we may be eating at home much more often, staycationing in our beautiful city, brewing a lot more coffee rather than hitting the corner Starbucks, as well as any other belt tightening measures we haven't already employed.  If not, we will enroll him in his public school and be active and involved parents there instead.  We'll know more in the coming months.

How about you readers.  If you had to tighten your belts considerably to send your kids to private school and a better education, would you opt to?  What other considerations which I haven't mentioned here, would you have to consider?  Thanks for any feedback you can give.

Photo credit: 

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Top Posts: Jan - Jun

Tra la la la la....Oh, hello readers. 

In case your were wondering, yes it IS that time of year again.  And no, I'm not referring to "The Holidays".  Rather, I'm talking about that other tradition that takes place as the we prepare to bid adieu to the past year, and welcome the new year (you know, the one where we will get into better shape, get more sleep, learn a foreign language, etc....) into our lives.

Of course, It's End of Year List time!

Here at LIAYF I will be doing a few list posts, most notably my 2011 Best Albums post, which I am especially looking forward to since I have listened to a ton of great music this year, but I am going to begin by continuing the tradition I started last year of breaking up my Best of list into two posts. One for the first half of the year, and another for the last half.

So if you are new to LIAYF, or if you are an occasional reader, check out these posts - which I consider to be among of the best that I published in the first half of 2011.  Then, look for the July - December edition towards the end of the month.

January - Fear Not Citizen  What do you get when you give a 3 year old his very first cape and unleash him on the school playground?  A Super chivalrous hero for the people, that's what.

February  - I Don't Blame Him, I Think She's Great Too  This dad realizes he can't compete with a Mother's love, and is just fine with that.

March -  Hot Potato - The crowd experiences an emotional roller coaster during this nail biting competition in the pre-school room.

April - My Good Friday - I exorcise the skeletons of my past, in order to move forward with my family's future.

May - Rhymes with Sympathy - Our very first parent teacher conference came during pre-school.  And it reinforced some wonderful things we already knew about Lukas.

June - Troubles Will Be Gone -  Sometimes shedding some light on ones fears is all you need to do.  Especially when it comes in the form of a rocket.

Honorable Mention - Holy Dry Shorts Batman -  Sometimes getting a reward for a special accomplishment is only half the fun. (Awesome picture included!)