Monday, February 18, 2019

Raccoon








While we drove up to the cabin last weekend, Luca was bored. The cabin is boring. Driving is boring. We are boring. McDonald’s is boring. Boredom is boring.

I told him I read a New York Times article about how kids should be bored more. He asked me about the details, and I admitted I hadn’t made it past the headline. But rest assured a major publication wanted him to pipe down.

Once we got to the cabin, I was immediately put to work putting together a thing whose sole purpose was to make me angry. Luca spent that time walking from room to room, announcing how bored he was. I asked him to help me and then refused to let him do anything more than hand me screws.

I had a massive fit after realizing I made a critical and irreversible mistake on the thing, so Diana suggested I go outside with the other grouch.

Luca and I immediately entered a silent, beautiful wintry Michigan wonderland. Snow fell on our shoulders and we crunched through the forest, following the little creek that borders our property. We followed tracks obviously left by bears and tigers. We cracked huge chunks of ice. We squished our boots in frigid mud.

Occasionally, we’d look at each other and say, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had.” And we’d mean it.

My feet got a little cold from mud squishing, so I suggested we head back. On our walk back, Luca pointed out rusted wagon parts and old liquor bottles. Suddenly, we saw a dead raccoon. I was super excited to poke it with a stick. Poke poke poke.

I held out my poking stick to Luca and said, “You wanna get in on this poking?”

Luca said I was being disrespectful and suggested I pray for it. A child who had been to church three times in his life was suggesting I administer last rites to a rotting rodent. Nevertheless, I was touched and asked God to protect the raccoon and help guide him to raccoon heaven.

Satisfied, Luca and I crawled up the ravine to our house and told Elijah and Diana about our adventure.

Eli said, “Remember when we went to your office and saw that dead rat with the blood dripping out?




Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Schuyler


On the occasional Friday, I would drive home from work early and literally sneak into my house. Tip toe style. My purpose? A vain attempt to catch Schuyler yelling at our kids. Not because I thought she was a bad person. I just couldn’t believe that a human being could deal with our kids for 5 years without ever raising their voice.

Never once did she yell at them. Oh, she would sing to them. Like a bird. I’d hear her laugh, and giggle and tease them. But never yell. Sometimes I would yell at the kids in front of her to see if she would join in. But no. Always kind. Always cheerful. Always happy. It drove me nuts.

So it is with great sadness that I announce Schuyler is moving on from HamannEggs. She is headed to Los Angeles to become an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner).

I have two favorite Schuyler stories that I’m 99.9% sure have already been covered in the blog, but too bad.

The first? Schuyler wrote and recorded the cutest song in the history of the world about Eli and Luca. It has everything a hit song needs. Cheese, dogs, orange juice, and friends. It’s still online, here: https://clyp.it/0egkyjsi. I dare you to listen to it and not melt with adorable adorableness.

The second? When we spent a billion dollars renovating our house, we put in a bunch of new appliances in our kitchen. On the day they were installed, the electrician didn't install the overhead lights. Schuyler wanted to cook a frozen pizza for the boys, but couldn’t see what she was doing. And proceeded to cook a pizza cheese side down. You can imagine the mess. I forgave her because I thought it was so hilarious.

Last night was her final time with the boys. They hugged and promised to text each other and exchanged gifts. I gave her my patented awkward hug.

A half hour after she left, I couldn’t find Luca. He wasn’t in his usual screen watching posts. After a short search, I found him in the basement crying real tears. His little red eyes broke my heart. I gathered him up on the couch and held him. I was proud that he was feeling actual human emotions. Emotions that I had done a marvelous job of smashing down over the course of 46 years.

I told him he was welcome to cry for as long as he wanted. And then I went into a big, long dad dissertation about feeling your feelings and how his emotions are coming from a place of love and love is great, man. And men should be proud of their tears.

I basically ruined it.

We’ll miss you Schuyler. There will never be a babysitter like you.  When you win your first Grammy, you don’t have to thank us on stage. But it would be cool.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2019 Cold


Everyone has the day off due to extreme coldness, but there isn’t much blog-worthy about it. We’ve all sunk into our normal at home routine. Diana is taking the government down one Tweet at a time. Luca and Elijah are digitally murdering their friends and I am sitting in front of the fire pretending to work and listening to The Pixies.

But we’re feeling good. The 2019 cold bug finally left the premises. But not without a fight.

A really nasty cold brings out the true character of whomever it attacks. My Lutheran/German-ness came out big time. I wanted, no, needed to work through my illness. “No…I’m…fine,” I would spit through my teeth while sweating my way through a meeting. The fact that I was contaminating everyone I worked with mattered not. If they were good Lutherans they would come in to work as well. And people would talk fondly of us when we died.

The cold leapt from me to Luca. I know the exact moment this happened. It was when I kissed him on the lips. I couldn’t resist because he was acting so hilarious and cute. My bad. Luca becomes angry when he’s sick. Very angry. He sprawled out on the floor in front of his bedroom and refused any attempts to move him the 8 feet to his bed. He told Diana he did not want her near him, but demanded that I sit on the hardwood floor and listen to him moan. No, I could not read or listen to music. I was being punished.

The cold then made its way to Diana. I know the exact moment this happened. It was when she kissed me on the lips. She couldn’t resist because I was also acting hilarious and cute. Her bad. Diana got it worst of all. She legitimately couldn’t get out of bed for two days. I’m sure the executives at HGTV noticed a spike in “Househunters” viewership. Because when you boil Diana down to her essence from a cold, she is HGTV.

Elijah did not catch the cold, and thus had to attend school. Eli would rather be bedridden and dangerously dehydrated than sit through math. But he hilariously couldn’t catch the bug. He tried kissing everyone infected. He licked our used silver wear. He drank our contaminated Nalgene bottles. No luck. He half-heartedly tried to fake a cold (cough cough), but we all knew he was a big old faker.

I fully expect him to catch it two minutes before our Superbowl party.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Death Hill


A big old pile of snow dumped on Evanston over the weekend. Which means three things:

1.     I woke up extra early to shovel  everyone’s walk in a pathetic attempt to win “Best Neighbor.”
2.     I lost my Apple Air Pod headphone in said snow as God’s commentary on materialism.
3.     We went sledding on Mount Trashmore.

Longtime readers of HamannEggs know Mount Trashmore is the local heap/hill featuring an Easy, Medium and Death hill. For the last eleven years, we’ve been content to safely glide down the easy slope. But this year, the boys and their cousins decided not to be big babies like the babies on the Easy hill and spent most of their time on the Medium hill with the faux snowboarders and other tweens.

I was not feeling well, so I sat on the ancient wooden fence/toboggan run and handed out witticisms to the other parents as a public service. My other duty was to tell Luca when it was clear for him to sled down the hill, as he was terrified of smashing into someone making their way off the hill. I feel ramming into a kid with your sled is a rite of passage, so I always said it was clear.

Sorry for this detour, but it was brutally cold. And there was one dad who just wore jeans and a long sleeved shirt. No hat. No jacket. No gloves. His manliness was a marvel. The rest of the dads all agreed if our wives left us for him it would be understandable.

Back to the story. After an hour or so of Medium hill, Elijah decided he wanted to head to the Death hill his cousin Finn. I assumed they would both chicken out once they got to the summit, so I said go nuts.

It’s called “Death Hill” because there are many, many signs posted by the city explaining there was a 100% guarantee of death from sledding down this hill in big red letters. Of course it was packed.  

Eli and Finn and I stood at the top of Death Hill and I awaited the back peddling. But no, they were determined. I gave them an out by saying Diana would be mad if she heard about them messing around on the guaranteed death mound. They simply said, “What she doesn’t know won’t kill her.”

I’m not doing the top of this hill justice. The wind was nuts. Huge swirls of snow and ice brutalized our faces. It was, at most, 6 degrees. And for some reason, dogs roamed around, unleashed. I guess their owners figured the animals had a better chance of survival on their own.

Eli and Finn decided to share a sled, so they gave me their spare. I looked at Finn’s thin little frame and realized I didn’t exactly have my brother’s permission to kill his son. I gave them some quick advice. Don’t put your feet down. Don’t turn. Don’t stop. Hold on for dear life.

They zipped off with shrieks of glee. They accelerated to collarbone breaking speed, but made it to the bottom of the hill without incident.

I found myself in a quandary. At the top of the Death hill. Too tired/sick to walk down. But I was also not interested in a trip to the E.R.

I decided to go the fast route and slide down. But safely. In control. Hamann-style. I sat down on the little plastic circle and scooched forward.

Without warning, gravity took its hold and I immediately forgot rule #1: Don’t put your feet down. The top of Death hill had been rubbed clean of snow revealing only dirty and gravel underneath. My attempts at stopping sent a rooster tail of debris into my eyeballs. I raised my hands to my eyes, which caused me to begin a death spiral (rule #2 and #4).

I was quite sure I would become another victim of Death hill, another notch in the Evanston City warning signs. But sooner than you can say, “Does anyone know CPR?” I was at the bottom of the hill.

I quickly convinced Luca that he was cold and we went home for hot chocolate.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Minivan


Nope. No way. Not in a million years. We’re not minivan people. We’re cool. We wear t-shirts and jeans. Look at our cool haircuts. Look at our glasses. Look at my beard. Minivans are for soccer moms. We listen to The Pixies. Did I mention my many tattoos? Our kids have super long hair. We swear. We go to concerts. We eat Indian food.

Damn it. We bought a minivan.

The Chrysler Pacifica war began with a Jim Gaffigan commercial. One that so charmed Elijah and Luca that they decided then and there that we must have one. When informed of this fact, both Diana and I burst out laughing (see above paragraph). Eli and Luca pronounced it “Ch-rysler” with the “CH.” But no amount of adorable mispronunciations would sway us.

But E and L were no dummies. They had already won a war of attrition to get us to let them play Fornite. They knew the rulebook. Keep asking. Over. And over. And over. Ask when your parents are tired. Ask then they are sick. Ask when they are vaguely hung over.

The boys would say things like, “You know. The Ch-rysler Pacifica has a sunroof. And a great sound system. And optional leather seats.” Nice try. We knew all they cared about was the DVD player on the back of the seats.

Suddenly, in a fit of brilliance, Eli said, “The Ch-rysler Pacifica comes in a hybrid.” Bingo. That was the day I lost Diana to the dark side. Suddenly, buying a 7 seater was the only way to save planet Earth.

One night, my family sat me down and laid out all the reasons. Think of the gas mileage. Think of the environment. Think of the trips to the cabin. Think of our poor old dog, who needs help getting into our SUV.

I rebutted in the dad-est way I could. “It’s too expensive.”

To my surprise, Luca came over to my side. But I think it was because he simply liked making Eli angry.

Diana considered my arguments thoughtfully and carefully and bought a nice burgundy Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. I stewed and pouted and acted like a put upon dad.

But then, like all decision I pout about, I actually drove the thing. Heated steering wheel. Captain’s seats. Parking assist. XM Satellite Radio. Where have you been all my life? I’ve been suggesting trips to the cabin just so I can drive it.

Last night, I was hanging out with Eli before bed and he said, “You know what I don’t like about the Ch-rysler Pacifica?”

I told him it was best to keep that little tidbit to himself.  







Monday, January 7, 2019

Secret Tag



I don’t think I accurately described the joy of vacationing with two children who aren’t in constant danger of drowning.

Previously, I would spend 99% of my vacation with Luca clamped onto my side like a koala, his little talons digging into my skin for foothold. I would also have to be on constant lookout for Elijah, who had zero fear of water combined with zero swimming ability. He would leap into any deep end, surf or scalding hot tub, fully expecting his father to rescue him by the elastic waistband of his Avengers swimsuit.

But now, both boys have been through hours of YMCA swim lessons. They aren’t going to make the Olympic team any time soon, but they can keep their heads above water, which is all I care about.

So I can now actually have fun with them. If you read previous posts, you saw our Jason Borne (“Jesus Christ, it’s Jason Borne!”) antics and attempts at the jumping off a ledge and catching a football World Record.

My favorite game we concocted was called “Secret Tag.” I would pick an unsuspecting pool goer and the boys would have to tag them without them realizing they were part of the game. Mostly by accidentally bumping into them (“Excuse me, kind sir.”).

When I write it out, this game sounds super creepy. But it was more slapstick than gropey. Besides, I tried to pick people who wouldn’t call the cops or beat us up when they got tagged by an eleven year old.

Yeah, it really was only Eli who played the game. Luca would try his hardest to play, but every time he got within 10 feet he would shout, “I can’t do it! It’s too weird!”

Eli has no shame. Man, woman, baby, Eli would tag every one of them. He wanted to up the ante by trying to get a stranger mom to hold his hand. But Diana caught wind of it and shut the whole game down.

So we went back to diving for that piece of onion that dropped from my taco.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve 2018


We’re in Mexico, so we aren’t doing our usual tradition of stumbling across the yard to Chris and Lexa’s. We’re planning on stumbling across the pool to the hotel restaurant, where they’ve planned a little extortion meal for everyone dumb enough not to make reservations somewhere else. It’s so expensive that Diana flat out refuses to tell me the price.

We spent the day poolside, constructing elaborate games. One was called “Jesus Christ, it’s Jason Bourne.” We chopped off the JC part of the title after we realized it was offensive. Our games all involve some kind of tag, mixed with making sure Luca doesn’t drown.

Right around siesta time, a massive storm blew in. As Diana collected our stuff, the boys and I decided to tough it out. Wind turned once peaceful umbrellas into weapons. Seagulls shouted at us to leave our French Fries and run. We decided to high tail it once we saw the staff leave their tips and make for shelter. But not soon enough to miss getting utterly drenched. Right now I am sitting among the soggy garments of lazy children.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now is the time where I leave a little New Year’s Eve note to my fam.

Dear Elijah,

You’ve become so independent, so sure of yourself, so confident. You own junior high. And you’re the first kid I’ve ever met who got a Christmas love note from his teacher saying how amazing they are. Every year you get kinder and sweeter and funnier. I hope 2019 brings you happiness and many, many victories. You may be better than me at Fornite, but I still love you more.

Dear Luca,

You make me laugh so much. You are just so silly and fun and goofy. You have such spirit. I love that you find your own things to be into, like baseball. But you still keep one foot in our family. You’ve got such a fun little crew of goofballs and I’m glad you are so loved. I hope 2019 brings you lots of adventures and lots of laughs. You mae be better than me at Fortnite, but I still love you more.

Dear Diana,

You are so strong, so amazing. I can’t believe you are able to keep such a sense of humor among all your ailments. You are an inspiration. Thank you for making me brave and making me take risks. Your bets always pay off. I can’t wait to see what we do next year. I hope 2019 brings you peace and calm in our cabin and lots of amazing wine. You may be better than me at decorating, but I still love you more.

Dear Grover,

Don’t die. I love you.

p.s. Sorry for the photo. Flashes are for suckers.