Thursday, August 30, 2012

So Long, and Thanks for All the GoldFish

As I mentioned in my previous post, after nearly 5 years with his current care provider, Friday will be Lukas' last day at Pre-K there.  Wow.

I have to say, despite what I wrote in my last post, up until now it hasn't REALLY sunk in.  And, given that, there hasn't been a lot of emotion about the day from anyone involved.  However, now that I am writing this post it is starting to seem very real.  Change is here.  It feels....a bit scary actually.

Mrs. LIAYF and I have treated this week here pretty much like any other, with only a few mentions about how he will not be seeing a whole lot of his friends after Friday.  We have, though, talked about setting up some play dates to try to soften the blow.

In reality, almost all his gang are from other parts of the city, so Friday will probably be the last time he sees some of them - although there is a birthday party for 3 of them in a couple of weeks where many others will attend.

Lukas is aware of this fact for the most part.  Mrs. LIAYF and I  have not belabored it so as not to make too big a deal out of what may end up being one of the most stressful times of his young life.  Most of the time our son is very good about dealing with all kinds of changes so we are hoping that he won't hit a point where he is really sad about it even though we know having such emotions is not a bad thing.  Just something to work through with understanding and love.

We will be a bit sad about leaving the facility as well.  Not as much as we would have thought a few months ago, but it's change for us too.  Different routines to get used to.  Different adults to learn to trust handling the one thing we treasure most in life.

For the past 5 years Lukas received good care from this group of caregivers.  For that we are grateful.  In the end however, we had a decision to make.  To keep him there another year, or to send him to kindergarten.  That decision was shaping up to be one of the most difficult Mrs LIAYF ever had to make.  In the end though, there were a few recent instances we experienced with them which made it clear that Lukas would not benefit from another year there.  Despite all the arguments for Red-Shirting, we couldn't ignore that.  Plus, intellectually he is extremely ready to move on.

Instead he will be going to kindergarten in a small class in our neighborhood where the teacher/student ratio is 10 to 1, and the mix is K-2.  We were elated to get the spot, as it seems to be just the type of environment he needs.

So Lukas will have his last day at his Pre-K Friday.  He should have a lot of fun since a pajama party is planned, along with an undisclosed movie (we are never told about them) and tons of sugary treats.  I'm sure it will get a bit on the wild side at times.

Afterwords we will clear out his cubby one last time, probably give a few hugs, then say so long...

And thanks for all the goldfish.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hey Everybody! It's My Dad!

I entered Lukas' Pre-K classroom for one of the last times on Monday.  We have been there for nearly 5 years, but the time has come to move on.  

I guess I was feeling a bit nostalgic thinking of how quickly time has passed, because I lost myself for just a moment thinking of all the memories that have been made having him across the street from my work.  All the times I have spent my lunch hour reading him books before mussing his hair, giving him a huge bear hug and kiss, then walking back across the road to continue my work day.  Having him this close has certainly helped alleviate many a stressful morning, giving me the perspective needed to finish out the work day with.

That's why I was so touched that, when I entered the room and picked him out amongst the wriggling mass of tiny moving body parts, his eyes met mine and he let out a smile that ran wider than the mighty Pacific. 

Almost immediately he raised his arms over his head in triumph and shouted at the top of his lungs "Hey everybody!  It's my Dad!"  before sprinting over to me and leaping resolutely into my arms.

I have to say, that never gets old.

"You're happy to see me, Buddy?" I asked, beaming myself.  This is the way it's supposed to be.  The only thing better would have been to have it play out in slow-motion, with touching music. In the background I could hear the teacher calling out something authoritatively to the rest of the group.

There, in my arms, he again he raised his arms over his head and let out a enthusiastic "YES!" 

But there was something different about this yes.  It seemed more like a "Yes" of triumph.  Then, I realized that he wasn't even looking at me.  His eyes were fixed across the room, towards his friends.

"YES" he said again pumping his arms downwards - then up again. This was followed immediately by an equally enthusiastic "I DON'T HAVE TO CLEAN UP!"

Afterwords, he reached down and gave me a big hug around the head.  He was definitely happy to see me. 

In a perfect world, the music would have drowned out that last part.  But I'm good with nearly perfect.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Word You're Searching for is Space 'Commander'

Imagine for a moment if you could meet one of your idols. Someone who currently holds a position and the prestige that you yourself someday aspire to.  Someone that millions of people around the world look to as a symbol of the very best in their craft.  How cool would that be?

Very cool right?

Perhaps it would be like me meeting the most efficient middle manager in the all the world.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure he (or she) would be the most interesting person on the planet.  Oh, the stories I'm sure he could tell.  Wow.

Alright, alright.  Maybe using me as an example in this story is not such a good idea. about you imagine instead that you just turned 5 years old and you have been into everything rockets and space since the tender age of 2.  And, also imagine that also since that time you have only wanted to be one thing when you grow up.  An Astronaut.

The Shuttle Atlantis

Then, imagine your parents tell you that the module used to train all the Space Shuttle astronauts is coming to your local Museum of Flight, and will be a  permanent exhibit.  Permanent.  Do you think you would be excited then?  Darn right you would be excited!  You'd be thrilled.

But do you know what would thrill you even more?  No?  Well, I'll tell you what would thrill you more. That would be if you were told that you would be able to meet a real live Space Shuttle astronaut - more than one actually.  But, specifically, the one who grew up in your neighborhood AND who piloted the Shuttle Trainer to the museum landing sight that very same day inside the NASA Super Guppy.

NASA Super Guppy

Do you think you would be even more excited?  SURE YOU WOULD!  And if you had yourself a 5yo sized NASA flight suit you would probably even wear it to greet him.

And when that astronaut saw you approach and, reading the patch on your flight suit, greeted you by saying "Hello Commander"  you might blush just a bit and be slightly timid in your approach.  But, as you got into position for your picture with a real astronaut, your smile would give away just how excited you really were.

Lukas and Commander Greg Johnson - Astronaut

You can't tell me that wouldn't be cool.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'Felixing' Catches On

I posted last week about our having attended the Felix Hernandez Perfect Game for the Mariners and how special that experience that was. 

Well, after Felix struck out the final Tampa Bay Rays batter of the game, he struck a familiar pose that is now oft imitated around Seattle, and the world really.

Striking that pose is being called "Felixing", and it's catching on.  It's even been noted that, as a result of Felixing one can "LET THE WILD RUMPUS BEGIN"

If you have any doubt this is catching on, just Google Felixing and check out the results.

Seriously, this trend is so cool even my man Eddie Vedder was seen Felixing at a M's game this week.

The mania did not evade our home either.

And, you think this trend is catching on now, just imaging what would happen if The King throws another Perfect Game tonight against the struggling Cleveland Indians!  That's right, he takes the mound at home, in Seattle on Tuesday night seeking to guide the Mariners to their 7th straight win.

I've got a good feeling about this one.

And if any of the above happens, you can sure bet that there will be a whole lot of Felixing going on.

Happy Felix Day! readers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Camping" We Were

Just this past weekend, Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I went on our now annual "Camping" trip to Cama Beach State Park on Washington's Camano Island.  

As I have explained in previous posts, the quote marks are necessitated by the fact that instead of pitching a tent and roughing it properly, we actually stayed in a small one bedroom cabin...with electricity.  But, before you jump the gun and make a hasty judgement regarding our camping cred, I will point out that we had to pack in everything for the trip, even the bare essentials, there was no bathroom in the cabin, and worst of all.....wait for it.....there was no WiFi! 

Yes, roughing it we were. (Does the Yoda voice convince you? No? Even the slightest bit? I doubted it would.)

Okay, it may not have been roughing it, but it was a pretty fun trip anyway.  It was definitely our type of camping.  Despite the cabin accommodations, we still cooked all our meals outdoors, stayed up late around a bonfire roasting marshmallows, stargazing, and spent time roaming the surrounding trails and beach.  And, for the first time in the 3 years we have been taking this trip we invited friends too.  Our party actually had a total of 7 of the 40 cabins that are available at the site, which added a whole new level of fun and camaraderie to the trip compared to the previous two years.

We did, however, have a bit of a scary moment on the first night as Lukas who was running towards the public bathroom tripped and fell forward just as the metal door was being opened from the inside.  The sharp door hit him smack in the middle of the forehead opening an inch and a half gash into his  hairline.  Luckily, Mrs. LIAYF was right behind him and scooped him into the women's room as he bled profusely all over the place.  It was so bad, I was even called into the Ladies bathroom to help out. 

 By the next morning, the bleeding still hadn't completely stopped, so we drove him an hour to an urgent care center where they glued his wound closed, apparently the equivalent of a few stitches.  Through it all he was very brave, and thanks to the quick reactions of Mrs. LIAYF and the help of other campers, it wasn't much worse and he recovered his spirits very quickly. 

He even seemed to like the reaction he got when he would tell all who inquired what happened, "Well....I just cracked my head open."

The next afternoon he and Mrs. LIAYF even got to go sailing on a large sailboat visiting the neighboring Center For Wooden Boats.  The captain was kind enough to allow him to take the wheel on a couple of occasions.

Above, was my view of his trip.  That's because there wasn't enough room on the boat for one extra person.  Instead I was offered the chance to sail on a much smaller 'Pelican' sailboat of which the crew included the captain, myself and two other tourists who had never sailed before.  This may have been the last time I saw them as the current and wind were strong and our captain was a bit green around the edges. 

3 hours later, we gave up and I had to Google the Center and call on my iPhone to tell them to come give us a tow back.  We were quite a ways down the sound by then and the 4 of us were joking all the time about our 'Rescue', the one pack of crackers we had between us, whether the militarized dolphins would surface on either side of the boat to allow us to grab their dorsal fins and give us a tow, and if there would be a crowd with survival blankets to greet us when we arrived.   All there was was an empty boat house though. 

Everyone else in our party, oblivious to my peril, were back at the cabins grilling up dinner.  I joined them with a story to tell around the camp fire that night.

Despite all the added drama, it was still a peaceful, relaxing, trip which served to melt away the stresses of normal everyday life.

We're already making plans for next year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Perfect (Game) Attendance

If you follow me on Twitter, or just happen to have noticed one of the widgets on the right hand column of this blog, you are probably aware that I am a big professional baseball fan.  Specifically, a fan of my hometown team, the Seattle Mariners.

However, as big a fan as I am Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I don't get out to the ballpark very often.  In fact, before up to the point, we hadn't been attended a game all season long. That all changed on Wednesday when we, along with my parents, took in an afternoon game at Seattle's Safeco Field.

We picked the Perfect game to attend.

That's because The King, Felix Hernandez, pitched the 23rd Perfect Game in Major League History, and the first for the Mariners!  It was absolutely amazing to watch.  We were standing and cheering loudly the whole 8th and 9th innings, and erupted in euphoria after the final out.  We were even high-fiving complete strangers, but it didn't matter since, for a franchise and city aching for good news, this was something worth celebrating.

If you want a condensed version of what we saw (minus the time in line for Pulled Pork sandwiches, beer, and lemonade of course) you can see all 27 outs back to back in this video:

As a baseball fan, this has to rank as the best moment I have ever witnessed in person, barely edging out Ken Griffey JR's 8th homerun in as many games, at the old Kingdome on July 28th, 1993. Yes, for a sports fan, this was like finding the Holy Grail.

But what made it even more memorable, was the fact that I got to share it with those I love.  Especially Lukas, who at the tender age of 5 can now say that he has been witness to history.

I have no doubt that he will remember this day forever.  Especially since I will be reminding him of it so often. He will probably eventually be sick of me saying "Remember that time we went to the 23rd Perfect Game in baseball history?  Did you know that that was out of approximately 400,000 games played? Yeah, we were there."

Hopefully not though, since he was able to cross Attend Perfect Game off his bucket list before he even understands the concept.

How about you readers?  What is the most memorable sporting moment you have witnessed with your kids?

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Sublime Parenting Moment

One of the things that kept me sane during many of those sleep deprived evenings I spent rocking Lukas in a seemingly vain attempt to get him back to sleep when he was a newborn was thinking of all the amazing experiences I would someday get to share with him.  I would imagine the excitement he would display when Mrs. LIAYF and I finally introduced him to his first taste of ice cream, or took him to his first baseball game, or to his first movie in a theater. Those sorts of things.

Of course, what really sustained me during those wee hours was imagining what I  myself would be feeling as I stood beside my son as he experienced those memory making events.

Well on Sunday night at 10:30 PM - long past Lukas' bed time, while the three of us were on our annual camping trip far from the lights of the city, we stepped out of our small cabin which sat at the edge of a rocky beach on Washington's Puget Sound and listened to the waves slap against the shore.  It was a warm afternoon, with the temperatures reaching into the mid 80's but had cooled quickly with the setting of the sun.

We brought our pillows, blankets, and a sleeping bag for Lukas which we lay upon the top of a picnic table just outside our door.  Lukas crawled in and laid on his back as instructed.  Mrs. LIAYF and I each also laid on our backs on a bench to either side of the table to make sure he didn't accidentally roll off.

Then, looking up into the sky, we waited.

Before long a streak of light shot across the sky in an amazing display.  "Did you see that buddy?!" I called up to him.  "Yeah! I saw it!" was his reply.  "Wasn't that pretty cool?" Mrs. LIAYF asked.  "It was! It was" he responded.   After not too much longer, another star shot across the sky headed towards the horizon.  We all let out a collective "Oooooooh!" as the flaming rock glanced off Earths atmosphere. 

A couple minutes later a bright light, too high to be an airplane and with lights not flashing, steadily made its way from West to East across the night sky.  "Do you know what the light is Lukas?" I asked him.  After getting no reply I told him it had to be the International Space Station.  As it moved further East, we watched the reflecting light of the Sun dim until it was no longer visible.  "Wow, that's cool" he finally responded. "And do you see that white streak running through the sky? That's the part of our galaxy of stars.  It's called The Milky Way."  "Mom, we can see Milky Way!" Lukas excitedly called out, even though she was right there for the entire conversation.

This night of watching the sky was the embodiment of what I had imagined 5 years ago as I held my newborn son in my arms.  To me this was sublime.

We stayed there, the three of us, laying on that picnic table for another half hour or so watching the Perseid Meteor Shower on full display.  In that time, we saw perhaps a half more dozen shooting stars, a few satellites moving in random directions, and also a couple of passing jetliners. 

Then, it was time to gather up our son and take him back to bed.

But before I left him with Mrs. LIAYF, who lovingly read him a story, I held him in my arms and told him that I loved him.  I might have even rocked him back and forth slightly.  We've certainly come a long way in the past 5 years.

Afterwards, he slept the whole night through.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Things I Didn't Write About

The Arrival of the Shuttle Trainer -
Another Event I Didn't Recently Write About

First, let me say that I am shocked pleasantly surprised that at least some of you are still hanging around judging by the comments and hits on my last post. Thanks to all those who took the time.  It is appreciated. I'll be the first to admit it was starting to look run down and abandoned here.

It's kind of crazy that I waited so long to post.  Okay not crazy, but after posting at least once a week for over 4 years it felt like an eternity.  It's weird how quickly it can all slip away when  your priorities change.  I nearly even forgot how to start a new post.  Then, unless I was just imagining things,  when I figured it out and opened up the 'New Post' window I'm pretty sure I startled a couple of squatters here.  They proceeded to high tail it out, leaving a pile of dirty blankets at the bottom of the page, a few crumpled papers that appears to have been written in Russian, and a really peculiar smell.

This hiatus was not planned either.  I'm not one of those bloggers who has his schedule planned out perfectly, meaning there was not a announcement post letting everyone know that I was taking a month off.  In retrospect hat might have been a good idea.  But, in reality, every time I went to write something, the inspiration just wasn't there.  It became worse than writers block, in that I didn't even get to the point of writing.

It's not like I didn't have anything to write about.  There were plenty of things I didn't write about in the past month.  Like my 2 WEEK stint on Jury Duty.  That's right, I was that guy.  You know, the working stiff who finds himself stuck on a jury, trying to catch up on work with the jury room WiFi during legal wranglings.

The civil case involved a boy and his single mom suing a school after he put a drill press through the palm of his hand.  He claimed it was due to negligence on the part of the school, but turns out he was messing around and stuck his hand right into it.  Although I could empathize with the mom and wanting financial security for her son, there wasn't a lot of honesty in their claims.We found for the school.  I was even voted the foreman.

I could have also wrote about our trip to the farm to celebrate Lukas' 5th birthday.  Or our recent viewing of the Blue Angels air show, which was amazing.  Maybe even the fun we had at our local street fair, or parade complete with a ship full of Pirates blowing off an awfully loud cannon! 

I could have written about a couple of our family bike rides, one where Lukas biked nearly 10 miles on his new 16" bike (which I could have also written about!)

A couple of things I didn't write about but probably still will, are the time Lukas got to meet some real Astronauts, and also the final chapter in our hard wrought decision on whether to Red Shirt Lukas for kindergarten this year.  Another post might even revolve around the disappointing circumstances which finally helped us decide.

But those are topics for another day.  One hopefully not too far in the future because thankfully with that last post I am feeling a bit like my old bloggy self again.  I doubt that this means that I will be back to a semblance of my old posting schedule, but I hope to not leave month long gaps in my timeline either.

Besides, I need to guard this place in case lest those squatters come back.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Best Day Ever!!" ~ Two 5 Year Olds

Don't Fence Me In!

 "Dad, can you come down here and help me out with something?"

That was the question that Lukas posed to me as Mrs LIAYF and I sat on our deck after we had just finished dinner.  We had seen some tree branches rustling back and forth and were not sure what exactly he was up to.

"Are you trying to break off a tree branch?"  Mrs. LIAYF interjected but Lukas just shook his head side to side with a sly smile.  "Okay then" I said dubiously, "Give me a couple of minutes and I will be there to help you out."

And with that Lukas was once again down the steps in a flash.  Soon, we could also hear that he was talking to his buddy from next door, another slightly older 5 year old who has recently been his partner in crime.  They seemed to be plotting something but we couldn't tell what it was.

And then the grunting started.  First softly, then labored.

Now, Mrs. LIAYF and I were engaged in our own post dinner conversation, and thus not quite tuned in to what was going on.  So, it took us a couple of moments to look at each other with puzzled looks on our faces before jumping up and heading down to the source of commotion.  At the same time, our neighbors emerged from their adjacent house as well.

It was at that moment that we all witnessed the final concerted yank from one side and labored push from the other.  And with the collaborated effort a large board broke joyously free from the fence that separated the two boys homes.

And as the 4 adults looked on, processing what we had just witnessed Lukas and his friend started to jump for joy, raising their arms over their heads in triumph.   "Yay! We did it!"  Lukas shouted as he jumped about, smiling broadly.  "Best Day Ever!!" added his accomplice, who was also beyond elated.  Before, there had been a slit not quite wide enough to pass back and forth from house to house.  Now that was no longer an issue.

Shaking my head I grabbed the board, looked at my son with an amused but disapproving look, then tossed it under the deck, presumably for the foreseeable future.  "Can I go over and play?" he then asked Mrs. LIAYF and I.

"Not tonight", was the answer.  "You guys really should have asked us first!."  In reality, I have to admit that we had been promising to open a path between the yards for a few weeks, but hadn't done it yet.  I guess their patience had just run out.  It's a reminder that a few weeks can seem like an eternity for a 5 year old.


"Maybe." was our response.  "We'll discuss it tomorrow."

Of course, since then the boys have been back and forth numerous times, having a blast playing with each other.  Most of the time they even follow the rules and ask first.

Despite the gaping hole in our backyard fence, I guess it was a pretty good day.