Saturday, June 30, 2007

Now I get it

Whenever I get home from work, Diana happily greets me with a “this was the greatest day ever…” And then describes in great detail how awesome Elijah is and how hilarious/cute/good he was over the course of the last 8 hours.

However, this is while she is handing Eli over to me, who usually in a red-faced squirmy, pre bedtime fit of rage. I look at him, granted with a heart full of love, and think, “This was fun today?” Unfortunately, my schedule allows me only angry pre-bedtime Eli contact during the week.

I wanted to get in on the non-rage Eli, so I took Friday off work. And wouldn’t you know it, from dawn ‘til dusk he was a happy, cooing, kicking little bundle of awesomeness. It could be his new and improved nap schedule, or it could be his new medicine, or his new stomach (we got him a new stomach at Wal-Mart, they’re right by the Doritos), but he was in a great mood. And as a result, I was in a great mood.

The only bummer is, I have to go back to work on Monday. Diapers and X-Box games cost money.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You're doing it wrong

I typed the word “Baby” into the book search and got 366,824 results. There’s a freakin’ book on everything. Sleeping, eating, pooping. Did I mention the book on pooping?

I’ve read 4 books on babies so far, which is roughly .001%. And yet, when I visited my friends, and new parents, The Spetts, I was doling out advice like Dr. Spock. The Star Trek character, not the baby doctor.

“Oh, you’re not dangling your son by his feet for two hours a day? It’s all the rage in Europe. Here Lori, let me help you with that breast feeding…” The Spetts took it in stride. Mostly by looking to Diana, who vigorously shook her head and made the “crazy” sign.

You see, I am the official “You’re doing it wrong” Police at the house. Where Diana raises our son 24 hours a day through hands on trail and error, I read books on baby raising, which gives me just enough knowledge to be a danger to myself.

My latest book is on healthy sleep habits. I’m convinced (because a book told me) that our son is drastically sleep deprived and this will result in him becoming a neurotic who obsesses over things like healthy sleep habits.

So every morning after reading 5 pages of my sleep habits book on my way to work, I call Diana to tell her what she did wrong the night before. “Diana, you need to be consoling him every time he moves his arm in his sleep…” Or, “Diana, you should be letting him cry for exactly 46 minutes a day. No more, no less.”

Since this is all over the phone, I can’t see her making the “crazy” sign.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Maybe Eli will get by on his looks

I particularly like talking baby things with my co-worker/friend Pat Hanna because his daughter is almost a year older than Elijah. Which means he has lots of answers to questions like, “Is poo really supposed to be that consistency?” He also, like me, refers to spit-up as “puke.” Because that’s what it is.

I was sitting in his office yesterday comparing gross baby notes when the subject of reading came up. I asked him when he started reading to his daughter. He said, “Well, technically we started before she was born…”

I replied, “Oh, well yes…um, me too. We’ve been reading to Eli since before he was conceived.” I quickly backed out of his office. I hadn’t cracked a book in front of Elijah in the two months he’s been on Earth, which means he is WAY behind. Isn’t reading the key to all brain function? Don’t the experts say you have to read to your kid if he’s going to develop verbal skills? Stupid stupid stupid. I may as well hand him a nametag and teach him to say, “You want fries with that?”

So I raced home and declared in a loud voice, “I’m instituting a bed time story! Starting tonight!” Diana looked up from a squirming Eli and said, “Good luck.”

I took the boy upstairs, and after cramming him into his sleep gear, I grabbed the first book I could find. It was a biography of John Adams. I then grabbed the second book I could find. It was “Guess How Much I Love You?”

I think I through the word “much” before Elijah arched his back and went absolutely nuts. He screamed bloody murder (every body’s a critic). Diana came upstairs and said she’s been trying to read to him for weeks, but he no like book learnin.’

Maybe we can teach him to be a Linebacker for the Bears. They don’t gots to be smart, do dey?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Happy

A few readers have commented that my last post was a bit on the angry/bitter side. Yeah, now that I read it again it does seem a little nasty. I just missed my boy. But today, I’m dedicating the post to all things that make me happy. In list form for your convenience, but in no particular order.

1.When Eli is done with a bottle, he’ll crack this smile with the nipple in his mouth. It makes him look like a Texas billionaire chomping on a cigar.

2. Diana sometimes tries to get Elijah to sleep for five more minutes in the morning by placing him “stomach to stomach” with her. It works sometimes. But other times, he gets really mad and bounces his head up and down on Diana’s chest. Hilarious.

3. There are 2 lions and 1 elephant on Eli’s bouncy chair that hang down right at eye level. At times, he becomes extremely interested in them, to the point where you can’t get him to look away. I wonder if they’re giving him instructions.

4. Elijah, like his mother, takes particular joy in being naked. Sometimes when I’m changing him I’ll let him linger for a few seconds, sans diaper. I do this only when I’m sure he’s not going to take a shot at me. His face lights up when he gets to go “free and easy.”

5. Occasionally, when I’m feeding him he’ll reach up and grab one of my fingers. There’s nothing funny I can write about that. It’s simply cute.

6. Elijah is out of his tiny tiny faze, so he can actually wear things other than onsies. Which means kick ass stuff like an outfit that makes him look like a panda and another one that says “I’m a lion and I roar.” When he’s 14, he’ll be mortified that we have photographic evidence of these.

There. I feel better already.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cat's in the Cradle

I’ve been super busy this week. On a pitch assignment that is too embarrassing to mention. The worst part is the hours on said idiotic pitch have meant that I went several days this week without seeing my special little guy.

Luckily, Diana is very understanding about my current job stupidity and doesn’t hassle me. But I feel terrible about Elijah. Advertising is filled with divorced hacks who never see their children and somehow believe 30 seconds of television that most of America is leaping out of their chairs to avoid makes up for it.

Am I the only person who is missing this logic?

The good news is I’ve been able to spend the whole day with Elijah. Diana is at a wine thingy and I have baby duty. The hilarious part is today Eli decided to nap for roughly 85 hours. My interaction with him has been peeking in every hour or so to make sure he’s still asleep (he was).

I’m in the let sleeping babies lie camp. Especially since he is not one for the nap. I'm always afraid he's missing way too much sleep. And somehow that will result in him being a black t-shirt wearing punk when he's a teen. I imagine watching him shake out his greasy long hair in my basement and thinking, "If only he napped when he was 2 months old..."

So I spent a large part of the day watching the Cubs/Sox game and leaping out of my chair to turn off commercials.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Elijah’s doctor recommended we take him to a specialist for his acid stomach. Partly because she exhausted all her options and partly to get us to stop calling every three days and saying, “Well, your suggestions don’t work, lady. Listen to this!” And then we’d hold the phone up to a crying Eli.

So she set us up with a “tummy specialist.“ That’s what it says on the doctor’s business card. Now, being a kid focused doctor, I know you want to have some kid friendliness in your practice. That way parent/kids don’t get any more freaked out than they already are. But come on. Tummy? That doesn’t really inspire confidence. I kept thinking the doctor was going to leap into the room on a pony and make balloon animals.

But no, the doctor was totally professional and had tons of great suggestions for Eli’s stomach. The great news is Eli doesn’t need any drastic procedures, like surgery. And the, ahem, tummy doctor said his condition will most likely go away at 6 months.

Today’s picture is from the world famous artist, Steve Hamann. It’s great to have a talented guy like that around. He called and asked what my next post was going to be about and within an hour he rattled off this masterpiece. Although I’m a little scared of the X-Ray image. Steve says it’s an X-Ray of a mouse. I don’t know why, you ask him.

p.s. Diana loves our pediatrician, who is extremely cool and calls us on her personal time to see how Elijah is doing. Diana hates it when I blame our pediatrician for Elijah’s acid stomach. My characterization of her is entirely fictional.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Baby Head Smasher

My Father’s Day post was pretty sappy. What are you going to do? The kid melts me like the ending of “Terminator 2.”

Anyhoo, I was going to tell this story on Father’s Day, but its adult situations and adult language makes it eligible for it’s own post. Let me take you back in time to…THE SATURDAY BEFORE FATHER’S DAY…

The other Evanston Hamanns (Steve/Pam/Finn) were over for pre-Father’s Day beer with my mom and step dad, who were stopping by on their way to Door County.

Anyhoo, little Finn Hamann, super cute 2 year old, was running around generally acting hilarious. I invited him to help me water the flowers, since his condo living doesn’t include much water hose action and kids + hose = fun. So we went to the front of the house and soaked everything within a five-mile radius. He loved it.

So part of my watering included hitting a hanging plant from the top of our stairs. Finn, of course, followed me like a tiny blonde golden retriever. I jumped down the stairs and started nailing the bushes with water. I turned just in time to see Finn take a header off our bottom step. He landed on his melon with a crack that can only be described as “soul shattering.”

I scooped up the screaming child and handed him over to his mother, Pam. My brother Steve looked at me like I tried to kill his son. I looked over at Elijah, who’s expression seemed to say, “Oh, that’s what you do to 2 year olds? I can’t wait.”

The good news is Finn rebounded fast and exhibited no signs of concussion. He even let me play with him and the hose again, but with feet firmly on Earth. But secretly I felt miserable at my inability to keep children from cracking skulls. And every time I picked up Eli, he screamed as if to say, “put me down, baby head smasher!”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Hey gang! I made it to my first Father’s Day.

I have to say, I got exactly what I wanted this year: sleep. The boy and the mommy let me sleep until 9:30 today. Then I got a fantastic breakfast in front of Meet the Press and then Eli gave me a Baby Bjorn, which I think was some kind of hint, and Grover gave me a robe. Nothing says “dad” like a robe. I imagine shuffling around in it 16 years from now yelling at Eli that I didn’t have my own space car when I was his age.

I’m going to keep this short, because I’m going to go cook steaks for dinner, like a dad should. I wouldn’t trade being a dad for all the tea in China. It made me realize there are a million feelings yet to feel. And it made me realize what a fantastic wife I have for giving me such a great boy.

Sorry this isn’t a very funny post. They can’t all be.

Today’s picture is my all time favorite. Taken just minutes after Elijah was born. The look on my face says, “What the Hell just happened?” I’ve pretty much has this expression every day for the last two months.

I raise my ice cold Sierra Nevada to all the fathers out there.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hide Your Baby At Work Day!

Diana had an eye appointment downtown today. So rather than make Pam watch him (again), or Leah (again again), we decided to introduce the little guy to his first soulless corporation. It was Hide Your Baby At Work Day!

I will not lie to you people. I was petrified at the prospect of bringing my innocent child into this den of advertising. I think babies have 6th sense for evil. I thought he was going to freak out like that gorilla in “The Omen.” So much despair can’t be good for a 2 month old.

Of course, Elijah proved me wrong. He calmly stared up at the florescent lights and was vaguely interested in the various ad banter. Here’s how the ad people reacted :

Hipster ad guys with slim fitting jeans and expensive t-shirts avoided him like the plague. They’d walk by and say, “Ohh, a baby. How original.”

The young, pre married ad chicks with their crazy hair and equally slim jeans clutched their ovaries and moaned, “I neeed a baby…”

The bitter creative directors with their desperate attempts to look young (slim jeans) acted really kind to Eli, but then said things like, “Sure he’s cute now, but give him 15 years he’ll be drinking beer bongs like my good for nothing son…”

I could not get him out of here fast enough. Diana already scheduled an exorcism with the priests down the street.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm in my happy place

Tuesday was time for little Eli’s first round of inoculations. To which Diana and I quoted “Raising Arizona” profusely. “You gotta get the Dip Tet, Hi…”

We’ve planned for a life of unplanned pain and suffering for our son. Leaving the stove on, sledding mishaps, etc. But to actually participate in causing Elijah pain? Really?

Luckily, I could use the old work excuse. “Sorry, I can’t make it to Eli’s shots. I have a meeting with, uh, President Bush? To, uh, talk about advertising?”

So Diana was stuck going to the doctor. Now, for those of you who are first time readers to the blog, our baby boy has had a rough two months. Acid stomach, searing gas pain, the emotional stress of having a giant black dog as a brother. So my lovely wife was not looking forward to the “procedure.” Again, she wished she were a whisky drinker. Or Eli was.

Well, the moment of truth came and the doctor shoved a needle in my baby’s leg. And what does he do? Falls asleep. I’m fairly convinced he’s doing this just to make me go insane.

p.s. I realize I’ve used far too many question marks in this post. Unlike my wife and son, I AM a whisky drinker.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This chopped liver is delicious

Despite having a boiling caldron of a stomach, Eli is starting to sleep a lot better. Yeah, he still gets up three times a night to eat. But I’ll take three times a night over, say a hundred and thirty.

This morning I heard Eli and Diana upstairs taking care of some pee pee diapers. I found them having a cute conversation on the changing table (I think they were talking about last night’s Sopranos. Or fluffy bunnies.). Eli is at his happiest in the early morning hours and he was smiling up a storm. I wanted to get in on that action, so I ran over and shoved my face in his face and made my best idiot sounds so I could get me some smiles.

I’m not joking here, people. Eli actually craned his neck so he could look past me at Diana. He has got a major crush on his mommy.

I looked down at Grover and said, “I feel your pain, boy.” Grover looked at me as if to say, “I knew you’d be back. Now go get me a tennis ball.”

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Yep, he's a Hamann

Elijah is a handsome baby. I think we can all agree on that fact. But, he really doesn’t look like either Diana or me. In fact, when Di took him to the doctor the other day, the nurse said, “Ohh, he’s so handsome. He looks nothing like you…”

So occasionally, there is the slightest pang of “Did the hospital mess up and send us home with someone else’s baby?” I mostly think this when he’s having a fit.

But last night at o-dark-o’clock, I was changing him when I noticed his little shirt wouldn’t fit over his belly. I had to fight back tears because I knew without a doubt that he is my boy: he has the Hamann Belly.

We Hamanns are a proud people. Devastatingly handsome. Brilliant. Maybe a bit neurotic. But what defines us is our bellies. None of us are fat. We all just happen to have round bellies. Most notably Al Hamann, my dad’s dad, who had the most famous Hamann belly. Round, proud, German. People used to drive from miles around to see it. Lutherans would rub it for good luck. The rest of us Hamanns carry on the tradition to various degrees depending on how many beers are in the fridge.

Welcome to the family, Eli.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Parlor tricks

Sorry I haven’t added much this week. And no, mom, I don’t have writer’s block. Me busy. Advertising can be a fickle mistress. A mistress that makes you work long hours. That sounds a lot more dirty than intended.

Anyhoo, I arrived home the other night to find Diana reading this book called “Happiest Baby on The Block.” I was too tried to make an ironic joke about our currently Fussy Pants Jones. But the gist of the book is babies would prefer to be in the womb, but they get kicked out before they’re done.

The thing with this book is you can simulate the womb, thus triggering their “Calming Reflex.” I coughed into my hand and said, “Bullsh*t.”

As if on cue, Elijah started crying up a storm. Red faced, squirmy. Angry at me, Diana, Grover, Steve across town.

So Diana does these 5 womb steps (if you want to know the steps, get the book, this isn’t a lending library) and wham! Eli goes from 60 MPH to zero. He laid there in her arms, silent, with a most thoughtful expression.

I dropped to my knees and bowed down to the book. I know, we’re not supposed to worship false idols, but I am currently building the book a temple. And an ark.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Monkey Advice

I got home last night from a rather soul-sucking day at the office to find my poor wife standing in the middle of our living room, glassy eyed, with a red faced and squirmy Eli. She said, “I wish I drank scotch.” It appears that Eli’s acid medicine wasn’t working and he was more than making up for his calmness of last week.

So I removed the screamer from his mother and took him upstairs. He has this jungle playset thing that is basically a green mat with two arches that play jungle music. There are lots of hanging animals that he likes to look at, especially this little stuffed monkey.

I grabbed the monkey and assumed my monkey voice. “Hey Eli, it’s me. Your friend the monkey. You know what the cool kids do? They act calm for their moms. And they don’t scream and wiggle. You dig?. Calm babies are totally awesome. To the extreme!” For some reason the monkey talks like a 1980’s advertisement.

Eli seemed to agree with the monkey because he calmed down. And with a couple of minor skirmishes he went to sleep.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Date Night

Over the last month and a half, dinner for Di and I usually meant cramming something down our throats on the way to our little crying guy. And entertainment meant pretending to be awake for CSI: Little Rock. It dawned on us that counting the last two months of the pregnancy when Diana felt too bloated to leave the house, we hadn’t been out on a date since 1964.

Enter: The Grandparents. Don and Sheila Jacklich graciously came by last night to watch Elijah while Diana and I went out to a real, cooked by someone else, meal and a movie. Considering the fact that the Jackliches had to drive over an hour to get here, we opted for a 6:30 movie, which meant we ate at 4:30 with Evanston’s retired population. I was dressed in my white belt and matching white shoes and Di wore a lovely broach.

We felt the need to leave ten pages of detailed Eli instructions for two people who raised 5 kids on their own. And during the movie I secretly held my cell phone in case there was an emergency.

Of course everything went swimmingly. Or at least that’s what Don and Sheila said. I suspect Eli had a few minutes of screaming, but the g-rents would never admit it so as not to lose their baby privileges.

p.s. I told Don and Sheila “no parties,” but I found an empty keg cup on the back porch. For shame.

p.s.s. Stop what you are doing and go see “Knocked Up.” Funniest* movie of the year.

*If you enjoy stoner gross out humor.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Everybody's a critic

I think every dad wonders what his kid is gonna be when he grows up. Or better yet, fantasizes about his son growing up to be incredibly famous and buying them a mansion with a really big TV. Yeah yeah yeah, I don’t care what Eli does as long as he’s happy. But sometimes I imagine Elijah as a rock and roll star. Minus the drugs and VD.

Luckily, we’re a pro music house. Diana holds a Bob Marley dance party with Eli every day (I don’t approve due to the future blond dreadlock thing, ew). So this afternoon I broke out the old guitar. I broke out the newly purchased children’s song book and rocked out to “There’s a Hole in the Bucket” and “Bingo” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Eli’s mood swung from mildly irritated to downright angry. True, I mangled most of the chords and my singing sounded like Grover chewing a wet sock. But give a dad a break, huh?

Friday, June 1, 2007

The love affair

I received this photo today and my initial reaction was to double over in a wave of cuteness. I almost fell out of my chair.

Then I looked at his eyes. Pure, unadulterated love for the photographer. And the photographer ain’t me, folks. This is the beginning of a long, long affair of the heart for Diana and Elijah. There should be string music in the background. I’d be jealous if Eli wasn’t half me.

I certainly hope this blog still exists when Diana is grounding him for ramming the spacecar (It will be 2023) into our garage. Of our, uh, spacehouse.

I get the feeling Grover and I are gonna be spending a lot of time together.