Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Blog Year in Review

It was a wild ride in 2013!

As has become a sort of tradition here at Luke, I am Your Father,  I will be bidding adieu to the current year with a feature highlighting my favorite posts of 2013, month by month.

The stories below aren't necessarily my most visited posts of the year, just my favorite for the given month. And, unless you have been a die-hard reader of this blog for at least the past 12 months (hi Mom), there is a good chance you might have missed a few, or many, of these posts.

Before I start the list, I'll just state the obvious.  2013 was the year that Annabelle happened in the LIAYF household. We brought our daughter home in late December 2012, but it was during the past year where we really got to know what her personality was like.  I'll give you a hint: We laughed a lot more around here in the past year.  And that was a tall order.

Lukas is still his amazing self - a force of comedic, loving, empathetic nature.  Now though, he has a sibling to direct a generous portion of this goodness towards.  Life is good here.

I hope you see that reflected in these stories.  Let me know what you think, and if you had a favorite.  Also feel free to share one of your own.

January ~ The Dark Knight Falleth :  White Nights, Dark Knights, and an epic battle by one dad to juggle two kids with competing demands.

February ~ Lance, A-Rod & Me : Where I come clean about my use of PED's.

March ~ Makin' Banana Pancakes : Where I talk of family traditions and a labor of love.

April ~ Sibling Revelry : It was apparent from the moment we brought Annabelle home, that our kids would form a lifetime bond.

May ~ The Daddy Chair: Where we discover a most unusual method of communication from our infant daughter, and the benefits it has in forming sibling relationships.

June ~ I want Scarves for Father's Day :  These are very special scarves, and I wear them both daily.

July ~ The Sucker Dad's guide to Not Surviving a Hike :  Yes, I am a sucker for a cute kid, and this one could have cost me.  But it didn't.

August ~ Han Solo Shot :  Read it.  Laugh it up.

September ~ Then We Battled the Ocean:  Perhaps my favorite post of 2013.  Sometimes you just have to let things go and have fun.

October ~ 1 is the Happiest Number: Proof we survived, once again, the tumultuous first year.  We celebrated, but we won't be doing that again.

November ~ It Happens, with an Sh:  A rather crappy night, ends well.

December ~ Thinking Small: What would you do with a Hundred Bazillion dollars?  Lukas, wouldn't do that.

Honorable Mention ~

Long Term Project:  I forego the annoying list of house projects once again, to focus on a couple long term projects, and enjoy myself along the way.

10 Things You Can't Baby Proof Once Mobility Happens: These are meant to be funny, but are also TRUE.

Friday, December 27, 2013

10 Things You Can't Baby-Proof Once Mobility Happens

My, my, my baby gets me so tired
Makes me say "Oh, my Lord"
Thank you for blessing me, but...
She's got a mind on crime with two tiny feet
You can't proof this! apologies to MC Hammer.

Now that our Annabelle is walking in earnest, she is a force to be reckoned with.  First crawling, then cruising, and now walking. This girl is fast, determined to get into EVERYTHING, and wearing me out.
"Muh!, Muh!

What am I having trouble baby-proofing?  Well, everything really.  But I made a list of 10 things that so far I, and I am imagining most people, can't baby proof once the kidos become mobile.  Check them out below. Do they apply to you too?

10.  The Christmas Tree ~ I know, this is seasonal and won't be a problem for long.  Hence, it's only #10.  But short of putting a baby gate completely around the tree it's almost impossible to baby proof.   We have had to hang all the breakable ornaments above her reach, leaving the ones "less special" to adorn the lower branches.  But you can't do that with lights!  They have to cover the entire tree, and they are SHINY and PRETTY.  This is a problem, especially when the baby keeps doing her Frankenbaby walk towards them with a finger outstretched, saying "Muh!" "Muh".

9.  The Cat ~ Let's assume for a second you have a cat. If it's an intelligent cat, this is not a problem for move on to #8.  On the other hand, if you have a less than intelligent cat, or like us, one that is so starved for attention that it would rather have it's fur yanked out in hand sized clumps by a giggling baby than avoid her, then it can be an issue.  You might even have to keep on constant alert for the sound of a squealing feline who has not been declawed, and whose tail is being yanked on.  In such cases you will need to intercede. Likely often.

8.  The Entertainment Center ~  Unfortunately One Step Ahead doesn't make latches for magnetized glass doors on entertainment centers, especially ones which have not been latching properly for any number of years. One could, in such a situation, duct tape the glass door closed to keep the baby from getting to your CD collection and reeking havoc. Warning: There will come a day when she figures out a way around this and grabs your new Pearl Jam disc and chews on it.  This will be a less than stellar day.

7.  The Bathroom  ~  The bathroom has any number of hazards for a mobile baby.  Hazards such as a toilet, a trash can, cat food, and cat water (see #9).  Of course, you can keep the door to the bathroom closed.  However, you never realize how many trips to the bathroom your family takes in a day until you have a mobile baby and one of you forgets to close the door on several occasions leaving the baby open to toddle in and head straight for the toilet, or alternatively try out the flavor of the cat food (or dump the cat water onto herself, necessitating a full change of clothing, just as you are set to leave the house for an appointment).

6.  The LEGO's ~  As amazing a toy as a set of LEGO's is, each piece is a choking hazard to an baby.  We have about a billion choking hazards lying around our house.  And, no matter how hard we try to isolate these tiny plastic bricks to non baby areas, inevitably they end up adorning the very floor she is walking on.  Unfortunately "What's in her mouth?!!" has become a common phrase uttered around our household.

5. The Kid Chairs  ~ Once a  baby becomes mobile, if you have any small chairs around for your older kids to use these become a hazard.  Especially when a baby climbs up onto them and brings herself to a standing position, while not comprehending that the next step will find her tumbling off, culminating with a face plant onto the wooden floor.  Said face plant does not deter the climbing of said chair over and over again.  Here, we have even resorted to hiding them in the bathroom.

4. The Refrigerator ~  With a mobile baby in the house, simply opening the fridge can be an exercise fraught with peril.  Say you are putting away some groceries, and from behind you you hear the distinct pattering of tiny feet approaching quickly.  You have to ask yourself "What's on the bottom shelf", and "Am I prepared to pull her away from it, causing an inevitable scream?"   Sure, you will successfully get the door closed most of the time, but do you realize how many times you open a refrigerator in any given day? (see #7).  Ultimately you will turn around and the baby will be toddling off quickly with a jar of pickles.

3.  The Kitchen Cabinets ~  Sure, you can put safety latches on those bottom cabinets, including the Lazy Susan,  Inevitably, you will fail to latch them, and the baby will get into that cabinet and shake a bottle of toxic Goo Gone up and down before trying to chew the cap.  Just hope you are watching at the time.

2.  The Dishwasher  ~  What is more enticing to a baby then an open dishwasher with all that shiny silverware, and noisy glass and ceramic ware? Apparently not much, because every time I open ours to load or unload these items, Annabelle makes a B-Line right for it.  If I am not slamming it closed just in the nick of time, I am instead grabbing her and depositing her across the room.  For the record, this does no good.  She is usually back before I can replace another plate... and usually grabbing for a kitchen knife. 

1.  The Stairs ~  Sure, you can put a baby gate at the top of the stairs, but what if your stairs fan out at the bottom?  How do you keep your now mobile and climbing baby from wandering off and climbing those suckers nearly every time you turn around?  Well, you don't. Annabelle is making a run at them constantly, usually carrying one of Lukas' shoes along with her (we don't know, so don't ask).  

Ultimately, we can't proof that!

If you are like Mrs. LIAYF and I, you just have to follow your newly mobile baby around as closely as possible, try to distract her with something more interesting when you find her in one of the above situations, and hope that you survive this developmental phase without anything being broken, injured, or cut in the process.

Because, of course, there are certain things you just can't proof.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Wrap

Kissing opportunity courtesy of Annabelle.

Merry Christmas all, from sunny Seattle, WA.   Well, at least it was sunny for a while, and fairly mild with highs in the mid 40's.  Not exactly a White Christmas, but I'll take it.

Christmas 2013 in the LIAYF household was filled with lots of music, food, excitement, laughter, and love.

Here are a few of the highlights from the past couple of days:

Lukas Wrote his Santa Letter on Monday.  You can see that he worked super hard on it, and also included a section mentioning what Annabelle would like.  I love that boy.

A labor of love...and hope.

Then we delivered it just in the 'Nick' of time.  Yeah, I know that's not funny.

Overnight this one please.

After that we got to visit with Santa.  Not the real Santa, who was getting the letter, but one of his helper Santas. (And a very good one, I might add).  Annabelle screamed and cried at first, but then Lukas held her hand and, as you can see, she calmed.

"Hold my hand, Brutha!"

You can see how much Annabelle has grown, compared to last year:

When this year's Santa asked what Lukas wanted for Christmas he said "I want a watch for Christmas"  Santa, not hearing him very well seemed a bit incredulous.  "You want a LOT for Christmas?" he asked.  "No, I want a WATCH" Lukas corrected him.  It was pretty funny to witness.

Then, after spending a very enjoyable Christmas Eve with Grandma, Grandpa, and the rest of the extended family at the farm (where, unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures), we woke up this morning to a tree under which many presents were waiting to be opened.

The kids, of course, wasted little time on this endeavor:

Yes, he did get a Luke Skywalker LEGO watch from Santa

Annabelle eyeing new things to run off with.

Afterwards, it was a lot of lounging around the house, eating, cleaning, building LEGO, preparing dinner and enjoying our gifts.  Although I did have to go out and get a prescription filled to take care of another unexpected Christmas gift.  But hey, we have kids in the house, and I am the last to get this particular bug.

Good times.

But really, it was only a small distraction.  The day was so much fun aside from the illnesses.

I have to say, having Annabelle mobile this Christmas has been a lot of fun.  Last year she was just a tiny thing and slept through most of the festivities.  But this year, although she didn't fully comprehend what was going on, she sure seemed to enjoy all of the new things in the house that she could make off with.

The Tutu is a gift picked out by Lukas.

It really was a wonderful Christmas here.  There is no better way to put it.  Having young children in the house is pure joy!

I hope your holiday's have been equally as wonderful.

And to all a goodnight.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thinking Small

I was out walking with Lukas last weekend - correction, I was walking while he was zipping back and forth past me on his Razor scooter - when he saw something shiny on the ground.  He thought it was a coin.

Turns out, it wasn't a coin.  Just some sort of trash that looked coinish (I'm making up words here, just roll with it) while scooting by at high speed.  Anyway, he was only slightly disappointed that the shiny piece of rubbish wasn't money.

More so, it got him thinking.

"I wish I found a hundred bazillion dollars dad."  he let me know.

For the record, I'm not sure where a bazillion falls on the money scale.  Is it more than a 'ga'zillion? Or less?   I'm guessing more because, friends, I think big.

Lukas? Not so much.

"Oh yeah" I responded.  "If you had a hundred bazillion dollars, what would you buy with it?"

"I don't know.....maybe some new Lego sets"  He clearly hadn't given this much thought.

"What else Buddy?  A hundred bazillion is a LOT of money".  I was trying to prompt him.

"Hmmmmm......"  he was really thinking about this.  "Maybe another app for the Kindle?" he offered.

"That would still leave an awful lot of money.  There has to be something else you might want to use it for." I was only slightly pressing him on this.  I was curious by now.

Would he pay off the mortgage?  Send us all on a vacation back to Lego Land?  Set up a college fund? Donate to the endangered Pandas of China?

As it turns out, none of those things were on his list.  Instead of thinking big, it turns out he continued to think small.  Very small.

"Well,  I would make sure that Annabelle had everything she needed dad.  I know she needs some new shirts.  Maybe I would buy some shirts for Annabelle."

Shirts?  I was thinking to myself that maybe paying for her daycare would have been nice.  But shirts or daycare, he was still thinking of his sister and how he could help her out.

"You're a good brother Lukas".   I responded as I patted his helmet.

And with that, he zoomed away on his Razor.  Once again leaving me a richer person for being his dad.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Best Albums Post

My favorite Album of 2013

There has been a lot of speculation in recent years that with the advent of music in a digital format, the album, or music released by one artist in a collection, would eventually become a thing of the past. Well thankfully, as 2013 draws to a close, that hasn't happened yet.  I, for one, love to listen to a group of songs cohesively put together by bands/artists which can give me an enjoyable listening experience lasting longer than 3-5 minutes.  And, as far a new music goes, 2013 has not disappointed.

I'll admit, the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer.  Are these the BEST albums released in 2013? Everyone, of course, will have their own opinion.  For instance as I scanned the best of lists by some of the major music publications (Rolling Stone, Paste, Spin, NPR Music), there was almost no consensus on the to 50 albums of 2013, much less the top 10.

What it boils down to is personal preference.  And the 15 albums below are the ones I found myself going back to time and again in the past year.  Ones that were for one reason or another compelling to me.

With that, I present the top 15 albums of 2013.  Let me know what you think, and please post yours in the comment section.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Scary Tree

It's that time of year readers.  And despite illness, we were feeling the holiday spirit in the LIAYF household.

We put up our Christmas tree this past weekend.  Usually this is a family affair, where the whole clan gather up, don our Winter apparel, and drive out to the National forest to cut down the perfect tree.  No worries, we always make sure we shake out any nests that are lodged in the branches before we head home.

Okay, truth?  We actually take the red wagon around the corner to the local nursery, where we pay exorbitant city prices for a beautiful Noble Fir.  This way we don't have to drive anywhere on the weekend. It's not as lame as it sounds.  Really.

As I mentioned, usually this is what happens.  This year?  Well, since everyone else in the family was sick and feverish, I had to handle the epic quest for the perfect tree alone.  Not to worry though, as it took me all of about 20 minutes.  That's door to door.

And I really did end up with a pretty good tree too, despite my skeptics who were both full of helpful advice as I was leaving.  Point to Dad!

For the most part the tree was a huge hit once I got it home too.  There was one little set back though. Small really.   Kind of funny even,  now that we look at it in retrospect.

It sorta scared the hell out of Annabelle.

You see, she was asleep when I set out on my quest.  And, as previously mentioned, since I was so efficient in picking the perfect tree, she was still asleep when I returned.  Still asleep when I got it set up in its holder. Still asleep, even, when the lights went up.

Then, when she finally did wake up and I brought her downstairs, I don't think she actually saw it at first.

So when I put her down and she started walking towards it she finally stopped, looked up at it for a moment - as if taking in its magnificent beauty, and with a look of pure horror on her face fell onto her bottom and began to cry - uncontrollably.

While, when looking at her this is what I saw:

I'm pretty sure this is more like what Annabelle was seeing:

Of course I quickly gathered her up and consoled her.  "It's nothing to be afraid of" I reasoned, "It's just a Christmas Tree."   I then executed a classic move straight out of the Parenting Handbook (page 1152 if I am not mistaken).  

That's right, I slowly carried her over to the tree, extending her hand to the still green and soft needles and said "See, nice tree.  Nothing to be scared of."  She looked dubious, but not too long after that she let out a big smile.  At that point I knew we were golden.  

And soon the tree would be too.

Tis the season all.  Can't you feel it?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What He Gets From Me

Kids, you gotta love em.

Lukas wrote a story during his early days of 1st grade.  It was about catching the bus.  It was very well crafted.

I will remember none of it.

 Instead, I will remember how he described himself in the 'About the Author' section.

Sure, he may get his math and spatial abilities from his mother, but he obviously gets something from his dear old dad too.  (His ability to write slightly embellished humor)

In case you need help translating 'Early 6-year-old', here it is in all it's glory:

My but stinks today
My name is Lukas
I can shoot out of my eyes tornadoes
My favorite thing is to build with Legos

Err..............That tornado thing is pretty cool, eh?  You can even see it illustrated in the picture!

Okay.  Yes, we have since bathed him.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I mentioned it in passing in a recent post, but team LIAFY spent Thanksgiving week soaking up the sun, and playing with Legos in So Cal.

We, of course, were visiting Lego Land California.

Finally! The Promised Land.

We went in honor of......well in honor of Lukas being 6 years old and crazy about building with Legos. Oh, and we also went in honor of the fact that Mrs. LIAYF and I needed a vacation. A vacation somewhere where the sun DO shine, so to speak.

Mission Accomplished.

Annabelle checks out the sand.

Carlsbad, CA didn't disappoint on either front.  The sun was shinning, with temperatures in the mid 70's most days - except the one day it was in the low 60's and the park was filled with locals in heavy jackets and tokes.  We must have looked like obvious tourists from the north country, in our shorts and T's.

As I mentioned, we did spend some time on the beach in Carlsbad, and at the hotel swimming pool.  But this trip was mainly about the theme park.  And we spent the better part of 4 days there enjoying nearly everything the Lego Land had to offer.

Life size X-Wing Fighter, made of Legos!

Including the rides.

This included a plan.  As soon as we would arrive in the morning Lukas and I would make a B line straight to the roller coasters and get in line.  Mrs. LIAYF would join us as soon a she could stroll Annabelle there to meet us.

Mrs. LIAYF and Lukas after surviving the coaster

We were especially excited the first day, as Lukas had never been on a large roller coaster before.  I had been waiting for this day for a long time.

And, although I tried to warn him that it would be a bit scary at first, he really had no idea what to expect. None at all.  You all remember your first big coaster, don't you?  After coming up from the first big drop the sheer look of horror on our son's face was priceless.

"I REGRET IT!  I REGRET IT! I REGRET IT!" was all he could say, all color drained out of his face.  I had to chuckle to myself.  But I just reassured him that he was safe, and by the end of the ride he was jumping up and down at the opportunity to go again.  And he got to, too.

That was one unexpected advantage of taking Annabelle to Lego Land.   We were able to 'Trade Off' on nearly every ride.  Once one parent rode with him, we switched places and the other parent got to ride with him without any of us waiting in line again!  So, because of his little sister Lukas got to double down on every ride. How awesome was that?

 "Super Duper Awesome!" apparently.  As was Star Wars Miniland, which was filled to the brim with mocked up scenes from several of the movies.  All built out of Legos.  We went back there multiple times.

Lukas and dad at Star Wars Miniland.
An added benefit was that at almost any place where there was a line, there was an opportunity for Lukas to build with Legos.  He took advantage of this opportunity often.  Once, another dad who was watching him build even asked as I walked up, "Are you an engineer? (I'm not).  It's fascinating watching him build"

This of course was a high compliment to Lukas who, if we had to put money down on it, will be an engineer someday.  It's just how his mind works.

Credit that to the genes he got from Mrs. LIAYF, who is equally spatially oriented.

Mrs. LIAYF and Lukas built this Snow Scene in short order.

Unfortunately, although we did spend 4 days there, we didn't see everything by any stretch.  There were a few exhibits we either missed completely or could have spent a lot more time getting to know and enjoy.

I guess it's a good thing we opted to buy the annual passes.  Not that we will be able to travel there again within the year.

The fact is, if we didn't have to buy so many Lego sets, we'd probably be able to travel a couple of times a year.  But with our Lego building crazy son so focused on new sets (he spent a good couple hours at the main store trying to pick out the perfect set to take home), I don't see that happening.

But you never know.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Oceans 13mo

Best caption?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

'Deck' Your Halls - Sol Republic Giveway

For a music lover (look for my '2013 Best Albums' post soon), I have to admit that I have had a pretty horrible home delivery system for quite some time.  Pathetic, really.

Loathe to spend any of our discretionary funds on a new stereo system, especially with small children in the house, Mrs. LIAYF and I have been literally using the same 5 disc changer in our house since the last millennium.  Saying 5 disc changer is actually generous too since, at any given time, at least 3 of those disc slots don't even work.

As a result, like most of the modern world, we have been moving to listening to our music via a digital format (phones, tablet, and laptops).  The biggest problem with that has been the speaker systems with our devices when we are not listening through headphones.  If we tried to turn the music up to any sort of reasonable volume (where it can be heard more than 10 feet away), it sounds like it' being filtered through a tin can.

You get the picture.

Up to recently, to listen to music out loud in the house we have had to put in 5 discs we like and end up listening to the one or two of them that actually play, over and over, and over again.  Yeah, nice.

Comes in a variety of cool colors.

I said until recently because a few weeks ago the fine people at Sol Republic x Motorola offered to send me their Deck Wireless Speaker system to review.  I have to admit that I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the system, but when it arrived it was exactly what we needed!

The speaker system operates off of blue tooth technology (wireless), or direct connection to pair with your device and provide 360 degree high quality sound throughout your rooms, all in a fairly compact little speaker.  The wireless has great range too, as I paired it up with our Kindle Fire HD and carried the speaker to every room in the house without losing connection. (it has a 300ft range).

This wireless speaker instantly allowed me to access all our digital albums and playlists, as well as Spotify, Pandora, Tunein Radio, and more with a sound output that the whole family is happy with.  It even has a 'Heist' mode, where up to 5 different friends can hook up to the speaker with their own devices at one time.

This feature was obviously not designed for my demographic.

From the moment I turned it on, we were happy.  First, we listened to a Recess Monkey album that Lukas had not yet heard, then danced around with Annabelle to some Caspar Babypants songs.  It was then that I remembered that she was wearing her Jimi Hendrix onesie, so I pulled up his catalog on @Spotify and tested the volume of the speaker with All Along the Watchtower!

I can't say that my little girl was overly impressed with such a loud sound, but I certainly was.

As a bonus, Sol Republic also offered a 2nd Deck Wireless Speaker (MSRP $199) to me to giveaway here on the blog as I saw fit!

Very cool.

I have to admit, I'm old school.  You won't have to go through any of that Rafflecopter nonsense here.  Just leave a comment on this post (preferably telling me what your favorite album of 2013 was) by December 13th, and you are entered.  I will also give an extra entry for anyone who newly subscribes to Luke, I am Your Father through RSS or Feedly.  Just let me know that you have.  Sorry, only open to residents of the US and Canada.

Full disclosure: As I mentioned, Sol Republic provided me with free products to review, however the opinions expressed are 100% my own.  I really do love this speaker system.

And the winner is:  Jeff Bogle!  Congrats Jeff.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

She Walks! She Really Walks!!

It's official.  Annabelle took her first independent steps while we were on vacation at Legoland CA this past week!

I was walking with her in front of the Lego Millennium Falcon at Star Wars Miniland, lending just one of my fingers to her for support when it happened.  Judging by her progress I had a sense that she might be able to take a few steps on her own, so I called to Mrs. LIAYF who was not far away to take a look.

Then I let go.

It was at that point, holding her arms in the air for balance that she looked up at us, with concentration blanketing her face, and stepped once, twice, then a third time in our direction - before plopping down onto her bottom.

We, of course, were thrilled.  We had been waiting for that moment for the past couple of weeks, knowing that it was imminent.

I immediately scooped her up and Mrs. LIAYF and I gave her appropriate kudos, smiles, and hugs.  She was all smiles too, knowing she had made us happy.

Check another milestone off the list.

It was obviously coincidence, but for Annabelle, Luke's sister, to have her first steps take place in front of a model of The Millennium Falcon, seemed oddly appropriate.

Yes, I'm a geek that way.

Bonus points to anyone who got the titles Mrs. Butterworths syrup reference.