Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2nd New Years Eve



There is a hip restaurant not far from us. It’s a place that would have been uber cool in New York circa 1992. Lots of exposed brick and not a drink under $12. Which means it is the height of cool in suburban Evanston 2008. Fortunately for us, they hosted an under 12 New Years Eve party tonight. $15 for unlimited pizza and balloons (cash bar). But Diana and I thought, what the heck?

We found ourselves surrounded by Evanston’s elite hip parents and their offspring. Every Jordan, Dylan, Emma and Eli north of Chicago was in attendance.

We immediately realized that the owners of said cool Evanston restaurant had no idea what they bought into. It was bedlam. The windows rattled at the screams of children. The tight jeans wearing staff stood wide eyed, frozen at the onslaught of anxious, overprotective moms. The line for free pizza was near riot level. And the owners actually attempted to cordon off a huge pile of balloons for the adult New Years Eve party set to begin several hours later. The poor guards were overrun within minutes.

I stood in the middle of the dance floor, with Elijah on my shoulders watching my beautiful wife rip a piece of gourmet pizza into Eli sized bites among a sea of screaming children and I thought to myself for the second year in a row, “This is the greatest night of my life.”

I immediately lowered Eli to eye level and tried to explain my love for him. “Eli. I love you so much. You are the greatest kid in the world. You make me so happy I can’t stand it…”

Eli began shouting, “Down! Down!”

So, like last year, I’m going to use the last blog entry of the year for a special message to my son. Don’t read it, jerks.

Dear Eli,

Every day I spend with you is the best day of my life. I am so very lucky you are my son. I am also very lucky to have your mom, who is the greatest, prettiest, coolest mom in the world.

And let us not forget the greatest dog in the world, Grover.

I’ll promise you this, my son. I will do everything in my power to make you happy. We’ll have lots of fun next year. Just you wait.

Love,

Your dad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ah Adah?




Long ago, before Elijahs and sippie cups and Exploratoriums, Diana and I honeymooned in Thailand. Where we rode elephants. Why? It’s the Thailand equivalent of drinking Margaritas in Mexico. You just have to. While Diana loved the adventure, I found our encounter with the elephants to be terrifying. Not one of them could fly with their giant ears and they seemed to always be on the lookout for opportunities to smash us to pieces. And they were covered with weird wiry pubic hair.

What does this have to do with Elijah who wasn’t even a concept 5 years ago? Well, he currently is obsessed with elephants. He can’t get enough Adahs. Oh yeah. He calls elephants “Adahs.”

There is a scene in “Jungle Book,” his current favorite movie, that involves a troop of Adahs stomping around. Eli stomps around the living room in time with the Adahs and it is just adorable. He kicks his little leg into the air and pounds the carpet while saying, “Adahhhh.”

He has also added Adahs to his current list of things he needs to know the location of. “Ah Mommy? Ah Finn? Ah Go Go? Ah Adah?” And so on.

Unfortunately for the rest of the animal kingdom, Eli could care less about anything that doesn’t have a long trunk and poos in gallon form. We went to the library today, like every other bored child in Evanston. I found a giant book about the zoo and tried to read it to him. But he refused to look at any page that didn’t contain valuable ivory.

He is currently upstairs napping, clutching the stuffed Adah he got for Christmas.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jane Goodall



Last Night, Steve and Tom arrived at my house at exactly 8:00:01 for our Friday night beer drinking slash TV watching slash staring at each other fest. No matter how much we encouraged her to join us, Diana concluded jamming needles into her eyeballs sounded like more fun.

So she decided to sneak upstairs and observe Elijah as he drifted off into sleep. It started off as a mission to go read her book in bed, but when she got to the top of the stairs she realized Eli was still awake and had yet to notice her. So she dropped to her hands and knees and crawled over to Eli’s crib

Here’s what Diana saw:

8:01pm: Subject thrusts buttocks into the air. Possibly in an attempt to release noxious odor. But most likely to look cute.

8:03pm: Subject burrows head into corner of the crib. This maneuver is called the “Dan McNulty.” Don’t ask why.

8:05pm: Subject completely flips in the crib and attempts the “Dan McNulty” on the western side.

8:07pm: Subject sits upright in crib and calls out, “Daddy?” Observer considers going to get daddy but concludes daddy must be in an in depth conversation with brother about who can win an arm wrestling match between The Hulk and Thor and doesn’t want to be disturbed.

8:08pm: Subject drinks from sippie cub like a drunken sailor and flops back down. Buttocks in the air.

8:10pm Subject declared the Cutest Baby In The World and Observer goes to bed to read books.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ah Rick?



If you can make it through seven years of college and manage to look at someone’s spleen without barfing, you get to be called “doctor.”

If you can make it through Iowa and Hillary and Joe the Plumber, you get to be called “president.”

And if you can make it through one slightly gross evening at the Evanston Hospital Maternity Ward, you get to be called “dada.”

So imagine my surprise when a certain twenty month old started calling me by my first name.

I arrived home from a trip to Atlanta last week and found Marianna and Elijah sitting on the couch. Eli was extremely excited to see me and said, “Rick! Rick! Rick!”

I said, “Whatchoo talkin’ about, Eli?”

Marianna said, “Oh, he call you ‘Rick’ now.”

I said, “I assume you spank him for this offense.” And Marianna just laughed the laugh that means she doesn’t understand what I’m saying.

Now, I’ll tolerate most everything with Eli. The poop. The occasional tantrum. The poop. But I will not accept being called anything but “father, dada, dad, pops, daddy” or “El Dadderino.” There’s a certain smug Liberal Arts major jerkness I find in calling your parents by their first names.

Thankfully, he doesn’t call me ‘Rick’ full time. He just seems to do it when I’m at my most vulnerable.

Like if I’m struggling to wipe Grover’s muddy feet after taking him on a sub zero walk.

“Hi Rick!”

“No. I’m dada.”

Or if I’m swearing while assembling the new treadmill we got for Christmas.

“Ah Rick?”

“No. No Ricks here. Only dadas.”

Diana thinks it’s hilarious. Grover, thankfully, still calls me “daddy.” But now that he’s 28 in dog years I think he’s being sarcastic.

Tradition



I never really understood how family traditions were created. I figured it was a slow, glacial process where one day you looked up and said, “Oh, I guess we throw dishes at the wall every Thanksgiving.”

Well, this year my brother Steve decided to manufacture a tradition. He declared, “From now on we are all going to 3pm family mass on Christmas Eve.” Diana thought and said, “I’ll see your church and raise you Champaign and appetizers immediately after.” Diana and Steve then spit into their hands and shook on it. In my imagination.

I got pretty excited about family mass. Then Diana told me family mass does not, in fact, feature a puppet show and a balloon drop. All it is is a regular mass where they don’t mind when your kid screams. Thank goodness.

Di, Elijah and I settled down beside the other Evanston Hamanns and wedged Eli between us in the hopes he’d behave. It also gave him a chance to practice his favorite new word, “Stuck.” He boinged between Diana and my legs saying, “Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.” He made it through the first song at which he clapped enthusiastically.

But then he immediately remembered this was the place of head dunking and started howling.

Being that it was family mass, no one noticed or cared. But I have a pathological desire not to be the dad whose kid ruins Christmas mass, so I scooped Eli up and went looking for a hiding place. I’m not sure who designed our church, but they forgot to add a basement, closet or anything resembling a small cage. In fact, everywhere I went, the acoustics would send Eli’s cries up to the ceiling and down directly into the ears of the grade school Mary, Joseph, Sheppards and Wise People. But they were all pros.

After Eli slapped away the priest’s hand who was attempting to bless him, Diana said, “We’re outta here.”

We spent the rest of the evening sipping bubbly and watching Finn try to prevent Eli from destroying his new Star Wars stuff.

I haven’t been mushy in a while on the blog. But I am dumbfounded at how lucky I am. This child, for all his hilarious attacks of grouchiness at the worst possible minute, is the light of my life. I love him so much it physically hurts. And I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have the greatest wife in the world who I can share this little miracle.

I hope you all had a great Christmas/Chanukah filled with bubbly and cheese and crackers and non-destroyed Star Wars stuff.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ah Finn?



For years, my idol was Wilco’s lead singer, Jeff Tweedy. I concocted elaborate schemes to become his best friend. I tried desperately to shorten the six degrees of Kevin Bacon that separated us. I even contemplated converting to Judaism so I could just so happen to show up at his temple. I’m sure somewhere a lawyer is drafting a well-worded restraining order as I write this.

Luckily for Elijah, his idol is his cousin Finn. It’s much easier when the object of your obsession lives five minutes away. I’d say roughly 3,000 times a day Eli looks out the window and inquires, “Ah, Finn? Ah, Finn?”

Even more luckily for Eli, he got to spend two glorious days with his idol at my parents’ for a pre-Christmas spectacular. Eli shrieked with glee as Finn shoved him to the ground. He positively howled when Finn chased him through my dad’s living room and crashed into the glass French doors. He even attempted to mimic Finn’s sippie cup drinking style. Which involves sprawling across the arms of a recliner.

Unluckily for me and Diana, Eli wanted to spend quality time with Finn at 4am Saturday night. We bolted up in bed to the hysterical cries of Eli. We held him and he sobbed, “Whaaaaaaa. Ah Finn? Ah Finn?”

The combination of being in a strange darkened room and not being able to see Finn rendered him unable to go back to sleep. We tried rocking him and fetching him water, but he kept crying and inquiring. Crying and inquiring.

Finally, I put him on my chest, which calmed him down. He wriggled into a comfortable position and drifted off to sleep. However, his comfortable position included jamming his shoulder into my windpipe. I tried to reposition him, but that only served to wake him up.

“Whaaaaaa. Ah Finn?”

At which point he wriggled back to cutting off my air supply. I laid there, convincing myself that I only needed 20% of my usual oxygen intake and I drifted off (blacked out).

Thankfully, I woke up not dead the next morning and took Eli out to the kitchen for breakfast. He got headed off at the pass by his idol, who resumed chasing him for the next 12 hours.

p.s. The only photographic evidence I have of the two boys is this image from last April. The Wolfman in the background is Steve. I also think that’s Grover’s nose on the right.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yo, Toothbrush Raps



Last night Chicago was hit by a rush hour snowstorm. Since slush turns commuters into idiots, I opted to stay at work and catch up on a few things. Just then the phone rang.

“Our power is out.” I heard both Elijah and Grover having conniptions in the background. Grover was particularly was upset that his lack of thumbs prevent him from using a flashlight.

I decided to rush home so I could sit in the dark with the rest of the clan. The details of my trip are too gruesome for a family blog. But those Chileans were asking to be eaten. By the time I entered the house our power was thankfully back on.

I took over Eli duty and Diana turned her attention to turkey tacos. I sat in the rocking chair and proclaimed it Story Time. I commanded Eli to fetch me a book. Preferably one that included Elmo, or explained where the wild things were.

But Eli handed me the rhyming toothbrush book. Curses! If you remember from a few months ago, this book features an overly cheery kid who explains the basics of cleaning your teeth by combining words like “paste” with “haste.”

“Are you sure you want this book? What about Elmo?”

“Teeth!”

“Ooh look the alphabet book. Which letter is this?”

“Teeth! Teeth!”

“Fine. You better be a dentist when you grow up.”

I decided to spice up the rhyming toothbrush book by rapping it. I put on my best street voice and said, “yo” a lot and spit all over the back of Eli’s head in a attempt to mimic a drum machine. Eli loved it and helped me lay down a funky fresh beat and danced like a malfunctioning robot.

I was really getting into it and started freestyling about sinks and the dreaded gum disease Gingivitis.

Suddenly I turned to see Diana standing behind me on the steps. Her expression was that special combination of horror, pity and mocking that comes from discovering your whiter than white husband flashing tooth related gang signs to your toddler.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Genius



As I crawled into bed last night with my lovely wife, she looked up from her book and said, “Do you think Elijah is particularly special or does every parent think their kid is special?” I said, “Yes.”

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure how to talk about Eli’s recent developmental leaps. Here’s the deal. He knows the alphabet. Every letter. He also, and this is very very unconfirmed, can recognize whole words like “Grandpa.” Now, keep in mind this child is 20 months old. TWENTY. Most children get their letters and numbers (I forgot to mention he can recognize 1-10) around 2 1/2 to 3 years old.

Diana proclaims our child is a bona fide genius. I like to remind her that he was so far behind in learning how to walk that we were afraid he’d be dragging himself, army style, into his college freshman seminar.

I’m a little worried at this rate of brain development that by the time he’s 3 he’ll be writing this blog and I’ll have to sleep on the floor with Grover. For the short term I’m not gonna put any pressure on the little guy and be pleased as punch when he builds a nuclear warhead in our basement.

In case you were wondering whether he got his brains from me or his mother, I had to look up how to spell both “bona fide” and “genius” on dictionary.com.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

TCDITW



I’d rather not turn this blog into a constant advertisement for the Exploratorium. So let’s just say earlier today Elijah and I visited a certain place where he explored. In possibly an auditorium-like setting.

After depositing our coats, I let Eli loose to frolic in the germ factory that is any collection of children under the age of 18 and I did what I always do: make sure I’m the coolest dad in attendance.

There wasn’t much competition this morning. There were two dads carrying on a conversation about 401Ks and triceps exercises. Not cool.

There were also a few dads paying absolutely no attention to their kids. Definitely not cool. One of their kids, dressed as Batman, muttered to himself as he paced, “I just have to get this show started…we’re much behind schedule and the show simply MUST go on…”

And there was one dad in the center of the room trying to comfort a child who was so hysterical and out of control, Eli toddled over and gave the dad a hug. The dad thanked him as sincerely as I’ve ever seen an adult thank a 20 month old. Kind of cool. But not as cool as me.

Content in my superior coolness, I walked Eli over to the puzzle center. Eli enjoys the dumping of the puzzle pieces, but has yet to understand the concept of putting the puzzles back together, which he leaves to me.

And then I saw him. The Coolest Dad In the World.

The Coolest Dad In The World (TCDITW) was dressed in a red stocking cap with skulls on it. He also had on a matching red sweatshirt that had a deliciously ironic name on the back. “Beef” or something. He also wore skinny leg jeans and big, clunky skateboard shoes. TCDITW had tattoos on both arms which means he must have been in the arts. Or (gasp) in a band. I think he burned one in the parking lot before coming in.

I tried to distract Eli from TCDITW. I was afraid he’d ask to go home with TCDITW. I’m sure Diana would’ve understood.

TCDITW also had a superiorly cool parenting style. He called his son “Dude” a lot. Why didn’t I think of that?

Eventually, Eli toddled over to TCDITW. I said, “Goodbye son. It was nice knowing you.” But much to my surprise, Eli looked right through TCDITW and walked over to a nerd-dad at the computer center and sat in his lap.

p.s. I keep forgetting this little Eli tidbit. When he wants your attention, whether it be to fetch Grover or find his mother, he will hold out his little paw and solemnly say, “Come…” You are then required to hold his hand and faint from cuteness.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh Nu



Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Elijah discovered the word “No.” He pronounces it “Nu.” But thankfully and cutefully, he doesn’t know how to use it correctly. It’s his go to answer for everything. Ask him if he wants breakfast and his response is, “Nu nu nu,” while he attempts to climb into his highchair.

“Eli, do you want to live with Elmo on Sesame Street AND have a million dollars?”

(Pause) “Nu?”

He also uses it to head us off at the pass when he’s in trouble. Elijah will be giving himself a birdbath in Grover’s water dish and while Diana runs over to scold him he’ll wag his finger and say, “Nu nu nu.” He uses this in combination with saying, “Hi!” in a gleefully happy voice when Diana is really angry with him. The cuteness instantly makes you forget his tomfoolery.

He got to use both weapons when we brought home our Christmas tree. I stumbled in the front door Sunday carrying the tree and I shouted to Eli, “Look! It’s a tree! But inside the house!” He shrugged his shoulders and went back to watching Elmo.

But as soon as Diana started unpacking our Mexican ornaments, Eli toddled over and said, “Cewl.”

“Did you just say, “‘Cool?’”

“Nu.”

Steve and Pam and Rory and Finn entered for beers and tree trimming and Elijah said, “Finny!”

“Did you just say, “’Finny?’”

“Nu.”

We were smart to attach all the breakable ornaments at 3+ feet and higher because Elijah’s favorite activity was removing low hanging fruit and hucking it across the living room.

“Elijah! Do not throw ornaments!”

“Hi!”

(Hucks a new ornament into the kitchen) “Elijah Steven Hamann! No no no!”

(Wags his finger ridiculously cutely) “Nu nu nu.”

(Puts one ornament into his mouth while simultaneously throwing one at the dog) “Elijah! No no no! Not for babies!”

“Nu nu nu. Hi!”

It’s gonna be a long Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tube People




I blogged a little while ago about the cool Skokie Exploratorium. No, I am not being paid by them. But you know what the greatest place in the world is? The Exploratorium!

Anyhoo, after Diana woke up from her much deserved Saturday morning sleep, our options for entertaining Elijah was treat him for hypothermia or take him to the $4 scream fest.

Saturday morning must be Dad’s day, because the parking lot was filled with men yanking their kids by the mittens and pounding coffee. Di, Eli and I had a blast. Because it was 11 degrees, all the smart parents kept their kids at home, so the Exploratorium was relatively empty.

Diana, as always, was snapping photos so fast Annie Leibovitz called from San Francisco to ask that we give it a rest. So with more than a twinge of mischief, I decided to carry Eli up into the giant series of tubes that line the ceiling. The tubes are meant for older kids, but I still lugged Eli up there thinking, “Best. Photo moment. Ever.”

I shouted down to Diana, “Take my picture! Take my picture! No! Not Eli! Take MY picture!”

Once we got to the tubes I remembered my fear of heights. They were connected by a series of unstable nets and plastic catwalks that creaked under my considerable weight. The entire structure seemed to groan like the hull of the Titanic. I was petrified with terror. Elijah, on the other hand, scampered around with stunt man abandon. I begged him to stay still and let daddy have a heart attack in peace. But he did not share my desire to live past Saturday.

I realized the only way down off the tubes was to ascend to the next level of horror and then slide down a twisting slide that clearly wouldn’t fit both a fragile baby and his sweat-drenched father. But then I found we could descend the way we came, down a series of plastic steps.

Luckily, Eli didn’t mind carrying me as I hyperventilated with sobs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Footloose Berka



Diana enrolled Elijah in a local dance class. She cleverly informed me of this on the day of, as I was walking out the door for work so I wouldn’t have enough time to slash her tires.

I pretended that the dance class was Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian fighting dance. Or at minimum the Kevin Bacon dance moves from “Footloose.” Because Kevin Bacon is all man.

But the reality is the dance class featured an aging hippie playing a mandolin. Her instructions were to dance or not. Pay attention or not. Stick around or not. Smash each other in the head or not. The kids were free to express themselves any way they wanted. I certainly hope we paid a lot for this top-notch instruction.

According to Diana, Eli expressed himself by watching himself in the dance mirrors. He is his father’s son after all. She said he actually practiced wondering where mommy was. “Ah mama?” He’d say to his reflection while shrugging.

Later on, the hippie asked all the moms to corral their kids while she handed out drumsticks. Diana said this was the only part of the class where the kids had to do as instructed. Probably because they were all holding wooden weapons. We wouldn’t want it to turn into Capeoira, would we?

Diana said there was a woman wearing a berka off to the side who had an uncontrollable child. He ran around with the drumsticks swung them wildly. The hippie woman tried to get control of the crazy kid. Most likely by saying, “Oh, bummer man. Mellow”

Elijah dropped his weapons and approached the berka woman. He then crawled into her lap and gave her a hug. I’m not sure what her berka-religion says about getting hugged by a crazy-haired toddler wearing a robot t-shirt, but she was into it.

The hippie told Diana, “Your son has a lot of love to give.” He is his mother’s son, after all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bye Bye Poop



It’s been a while since we’ve had any good scatological stories here at HamannEggs headquarters. Today’s isn’t terribly gross. It’s actually kind of cute. As cute as toilet humor can be.

Many of our friends with older kids tell horror stories about potty training. One unnamed friend has a five year old who still prefers the feeling of feces next to his skin than going in a toilet. No, it’s not cousin Finn. He’s three. Speaking of Finn, if it wasn’t for his deep obsession with Star Wars, he’d still be in diapers. Apparently, Jedi Knights go pee pee in the potty. Who knew?

From what Diana and I have read on the subject, potty training can take years and the worst thing you can do is rush the situation. A lot of experts say the first step is simply letting the little guy know that mommy and daddy go pee and poo in the toilet. No judgments, just the facts.

Well, you can imagine my delight in showing Elijah what happens behind closed doors. So I’ve adopted an open door peeing policy. When it’s time to go, I’ll shout, “Eli! Get in here! Daddy’s going pee pee in the potty!” Elijah will run across the house at full speed to see the action. He’s fascinated in the process.

His favorite part is the flush. Eli will wave bye bye to my urine and say, “Bye bye pee pee! Bye bye poop!”

No. I do not allow him to see me poop. I do enough mental damage by bathing with him. And no, Diana does not participate in the show and pee. The various equipment of men and woman will just confuse him.

Now Eli has taken to saying bye bye to his poop and pee when he’s on the changing table. So we’re on to something. But there is still a very good chance we’ll screw it up and have to send him to college with diapers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pass Me The Rock



Diana had some important hotness maintenance to do at the salon yesterday, so Elijah and I had some father and son time. It was too cold to take Grover outside and we didn’t have access to the car, so we spent most of the day in Eli’s room.

Boooooooring.

We actually resorted to reading stories. Bleh. Fearing I’d turn on the genetic code for nerdness he inherited from me, I called my brother Steve. He arrived several hours later with the object of my affection: The baby basketball hoop.

Alright alright, I’ll admit it. Elijah’s freakish height may have attributed to my desire to get him into basketball. So twenty years from now when he turns pro he can buy me a Humvee. Or whatever post oil dependence status symbol is in vogue in 2028. I’m pretty sure it will be a Humvee.

Thankfully, he loved it from the first moment I put the ball, or “rock” as the kids call it, into his meaty fists. He began dunking the ball immediately.

I began praising him in a manner that will most likely scar him years from now. But then I taught him a time-honored lesson. Your dad will be able to beat you in basketball as long as he is two feet taller than you.

Oh man I schooled him. Yes, he can dunk. But his defense sucks and he has no outside shot. I, on the other hand, am automatic from the three-point arc, or the shag rug as it is better known.

Eli got bored pretty quickly and moved on to throwing his other toys across the room. I shouted, “Who got next, jerks?” Grover posed a mighty opponent. Mostly because his defense consists of biting me in the collarbone. And his propensity for eating the basketball.

When I woke this morning I found Eli practicing his dunks. “Good luck, sucker,” I said as I chomped into a croissant and flipped through the Humvee catalogue.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 2: Exploratorium Edition


This Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. Well, there was the small hitch of the meal sending my mother to our couch for the majority of the afternoon with stomach cramps. Who knew she wouldn’t like my famous Strychnine dressing?

Elijah was an angel. He sat through lots of hair tussling and unwanted hugs. And he napped through the actual meal. So as far as he knows, the Pilgrims and Indians shared cheese hot dogs at the first Thanksgiving.

But his angel like behavior won him a treat on Friday. A visit to the Skokie Community Center Exploratorium. Diana swears by the place. From her description, it sounded like a cross between Disney World and Disney Land. I imagined costumed performers and merry-go-rounds and experiments where you get to blow your eyebrows off. And for some reason I imaged belly dancers. I decided to take him myself so Diana could catch up on work. And I wanted to see the belly dancers.

We arrived and I paid a grand total of $4 for the two of us. The overly cheery woman behind the desk directed us to the Community Center’s basement where lots of hand made signs alerted us to the fact we were entering the Exploratorium.

The $4 entrance fee should have tipped me off. The Exploratorium was essentially the basement of your richest friend. There was a broken train set, several plastic riding things, a leaky tub filled with moldy plastic things and a stage with a costume closet that looked like it had been hit by a mortar attack.

But based on Elijah’s enthusiastic wriggling out of my arms and his shouts of, “Doon doon,” I decided to give it the old college try.

The thing is, The Exploratorium’s awesomeness comes from the fact that it is essentially the basement of your richest friend. Can’t afford to buy a train set? Go visit Mr. And Mrs. Exporatorium. House not big enough to crash a plastic airplane in? The Exploratoriums are happy to have you over. Building code won’t allow you to build a waterfall in your basement? You have a standing invitation at the Exploratoriums. Afraid wearing a dress will turn your boy into a ballet dancer? Mr. and Mrs. Exploratorium won’t tell. So I donned a plastic fireman hat and followed Eli as he howled with delight.

The coolest slash scariest slash coolest part of the Exploratorium was the massive climbing structure. It was basically a McDonald’s Playland without the thick coating of McRib sauce. There were huge tubes running across the ceiling and children were scrambling over it like spider monkeys. Occasionally a child would scream, “Mom! Help!” And the poor kid’s mother, unwilling or unable to climb the structure, would eventually have to leave the child to live among the tube people.

Of course Eli wanted to climb it. But it was just a bit beyond his ability. To access the Tubes, you have to climb a series of big padded levels around 3 feet high. Eli would take a running start and hurl himself into the padded step, scramble like a crab and then fall back to the ground. Meanwhile, hundreds of children would scramble up the steps over, around and through him.

It reminded me of the scene in “Full Metal Jacket” when Private Pile got stuck on the basic training wall while the other recruits lapped him again and again.

Eventually, with me pushing him from diaper level, Eli ascended to the first level. He rolled over onto his back and gasped, “Bye bye.” I scooped him up and took him home for a well-deserved nap.

I am truly thankful for that little guy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Through G



Saturday morning I did my early morning routine with Elijah, which is lay in bed with a pillow over my head until the cries of “Mommmmyyyyyyyy” are too much and I get him out of his crib.

I blearily plopped him on his changing table and once I got his soggy diaper off, Eli looked up at me and said, “A-B-C-D-E-F-G.” In order. 27% of the alphabet without a mistake. I did a cartoon double take and said, “Whazza? Say that again.”

He looked at me and said, “C-C-G-B-Z-Z-B.”

“Much better,” I said. “No learning.”

Later that morning Diana’s folks came over and we were all upstairs in Eli’s room messing with these huge foam blocks with letters on them. Diana was holding letters up and asking Eli which were which.

I’m not kidding here people when I say he got 75% right. G, C, U, A. He couldn't quite get Z. But who uses Z besides Zebras. Stupid fakes horses...

Why? Why does he continue learning? If he continues learning that means he’s continuing to grow. Which means one day he will get to the stage where he is smart enough to leave and go to college. Maybe in another state. I’m not sure I can handle that.

Is it true what smoking cigarettes stunts your growth?

Dear Department of Child and Family Services,

This cigarette comment is meant to be taken as a joke. Please do not take my son away from me. Also, I am not actively trying to prevent my son from learning. It's just easier to joke about it than reveal my true feelings. I love this silly little letter learner.

Emotionally unavailably yours,

REH

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Cow Says




When I arrived home last night, the first thing I noticed was our front windows were thrown wide open. Mind you, it was 27 degrees outside. So I rolled my eyes and prepared for whatever shenanigans our Romanian sitter Marianna had going on.

As I entered the house, Elijah came running at me full speed and hilariously amped up. But he didn’t look injured so I went over to close the window. Marianna entered from the kitchen waving a towel.

“Oh, Elijah make a terrible poopie! Terrible poopie.”

Not smelling anything, I began to search around for Romanian liquor. After an unsuccessful search, I asked Marianna how Elijah was today.

“Oh, he now knows what a cow says…”

What? Eli finally learned that awesome baby trick, “What does the (fill in the blank) say?” I picked him up and asked, “Eli, what does a cow say?”

I expected him to give me the Romanian word for “moo.” Like,“Meeshlosh” or something. But sure as the day you were born the little guy said, “Mooooooooo!”

I almost threw up from cuteness. I asked him, “What does a doggy say?”

“Huff Huff.” Close enough.

Then I asked him what a kitty says. His response was, “Eeehhhh. Eehhhh.” Two out of three ain’t bad. And besides, he’s never seen a cat in his life.

It goes against the non-aggression treaty we have with Grover.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Detective Elijah



Elijah has entered a new and hilarious stage. It is the “I need to know where everyone is at all times” stage. It basically involves shrugging your shoulders and inquiring where people who aren’t in the room are. If I’m not in the room, he shrugs his shoulders and says, “Ah Dada?” Or if Grover is outside peeing he’ll shrug his shoulders and say, “Ah Gro? Ah Gro?”

If Diana is out of the room, instead of saying, “Ah Mommy?” Eli will shout, “Mom!” at the top of his lungs. But he does it in a teenager obnoxious way. Maaaaaawwwwm! Maaaaaawwwwm! He will continue shouting, “Maaaaaawwwwm!”until Diana answers, “Yes Baby?” from the other room. Then they start a cheerleader call and response:

“Maaaaaawwwwm!”
“Yes, Baby?”
“Maaaaaawwwwm!”
“Yes, Baby?”
“Maaaaaawwwwm!”
“Yes, Baby?”
“Maaaaaawwwwm!”

This goes on until Diana enters the room or I throw myself out the window, whichever comes first.

The other morning I was in the shower and Elijah, who was watching Elmo with Diana asked, “Ah Dada?” She said, “He’s in the bathroom.” Eli then toddled over to the bathroom and began pounding on the closed door like a SWAT team captain.

It’s a bit disconcerting. But I prefer it to his last stage. The “I don’t give a rat’s patootie where you’re at unless I’m hungry” stage.

I don’t have a new photo. Diana is in her busy time for Wine Goddessing. And given the current collapse of society, we need all the extra money we can get. To buy shotgun shells and canned goods. And Star Wars toys.

So here is a picture of my beard.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How To Dance Like Elijah



First, play your favorite song. Elijah recommends the ABC song played through toy toolbox speakers. It would also help if you could use batteries that are 3/4 dead, so the ABC song sounds as if it were sung by a Quaalude abuser.

Next, bob your head like a chicken. You may be asking yourself, “Should I be bobbing my head like a chicken to the beat of the song?” Lord no. Your head bobs should have nothing to do with the actual song. The more random the better. You may also want to assume the vacant stare of a stuffed animal.

Then, jab your fingers into the air randomly. Or, if the mood strikes, hold your arms straight out like a B52 bomber. You can also twist your body to make your arms swing wildly in all directions. Again, you need not do this to the time of the music.

The most challenging part of the Elijah Dance is the legs. There are two distinct moves. 1) The squat. 2) The straight-legged walk. Use these in combination to mimic a drunken Olympic weight lifter.

Lastly, and this is the most important, if your father tries to join in on the dancing by painfully yanking Grover into a standing position and jumping up and down, run away angrily.

Man, that kid cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Giddy Yap!



I believe it is the duty of every father to introduce his son to the concept of the horsey ride. It’s what’s linked fathers and sons since the time when they rode actual horseys. Before horseys became extinct.

Allow me to explain my version of the horsey ride. I lie on my back and let Elijah sit on my stomach. Then I try to buck him off by thrusting my hips wildly while yelling, “Boing! Boing!”

Now, many of you are picturing this in your mind’s eye and thinking, “That seems weird and creepy and vaguely inappropriate.” Well, you should see it in person. It is most definitely weird and creepy vaguely inappropriate.

But whatever. Eli loves it. Nothing makes him laugh harder than getting launched off my fat belly. And it’s a lot easier than the horsey ride on the back or horsey ride on the shoulders. Remember, I am a lazy lazy man.

But I can no longer lie on my back watching TV without the little monkey toddling over and jumping on my stomach. And when he is in the zone of bouncing on my fat stomach he has the concentration of a professional bull rider.

Can I digress for a moment? Why do professional bull riders wear helmets now? Isn’t the whole point that there’s a chance you’ll bash your skull in?

Now where was I? Oh, bashing Eli’s skull in. The other night he was boinging on my stomach and Diana came over and asked for a smooch. Eli was concentrating on staying on my stomach for more than 8 seconds, so he refused. But Diana was insistent.

“Gimmie a smoochy. Gimmie a smoochy. GIMMIE A SMOOCHY!”

Finally Eli cocked his head and “air kissed” her in the most hilariously dismissive way ever. He looked like Joan Rivers on the red carpet. But without the hideous plastic surgery.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Toys R Us



Elijah was flat out bored yesterday. It was the first really cold day of the season, Diana was still under the weather, and my version of entertainment was playing “Watch Daddy listen to sports radio.”

After the 505th temper tantrum, Diana suggested we update the boy’s toy chest. His current collection, with the obvious exception of Elmo Up Up, is geared towards infants who prefer to watch blinking lights while they sit in their own poop.

So we loaded up the family and headed to the toy store. Now, many of you out there are wondering why we’d head to the toy store in November when Eli is very likely to be avalanched in toys come December. My answer is two fold. 1: We’re idiots. 2: We spoil him.

It dawned on me as we traveled up and down the aisles that Diana and I have very different views about toys. We each wanted toys that projected the kind of child we want Elijah to be.

“Hey an easel. He can express himself artistically.”

“Hey Star Wars. He can express himself Star Warsily.”

Diana filled the basket with things that would expand our son’s mind. I filled it with things I remembered from my Cold War youth.

Meanwhile, Elijah just wanted to get out of the cart and make out with stuffed animals.

We finally agreed on some stacking blocks, which Diana thought would encourage his creativity and I thought would make nice missiles. We also got him a little train, which I convinced myself could be violent if Eli and I really put our minds to it.

On a side note, Elijah spent a large part of the weekend dancing to Diana music. I’d object if it wasn’t so darned cute. For all of you Phish fans out there, he is currently dancing to “Tweezer Reprise.” Which I’m sure brings back lots of memories of corrupting my wife.

Today’s photos was taken earlier in the week when it was over 30 degrees.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tupid Tupid Tupid



The other night I was enjoying re-watching the Obama acceptance speech and pretending I had something in my eye when Diana burst through our front door.

“Sick. Very very sick. Need soup. Sleep.”

After heading to Dominicks for a case of vegetable soup, I poured Diana into bed and crawled in beside her. As I stared up at the ceiling I thought, “This isn’t good. What happens if Elijah…”

On cue, Eli started wailing. I sprang out of bed to calm the boy so Diana could sleep. He was fiercely pissed. I concluded that he caught the same bug as Diana. I kept him in his sleep sack and held him in the rocking chair and soothed him.

After he calmed down I put him back into his crib. I got so far as our bed when he started howling again. Diana started moaning beside me. She needed sleep to survive.

This time, I ran downstairs and got him a glass of water. He eagerly slurped the sippie cup. I stroked his head and slipped back into bed.

5…4…3…2…1. Eli started yelling again. Diana kicked off her sheets and started to get out of bed. I pushed her back down and said, “I’ll handle this. Go to sleep.” Diana mumbled something incoherent.

I hoisted Elijah out of his crib and took him downstairs. I laid on the couch and put him on my chest. I made sure he was warm enough in his sleep sack. He seemed to calm down a bit and I thought he was on the verge of sleep.

I closed my eyes and thought to myself, “You got this father/husband thing all figured out, Hamann.”

Eli’s eyes sprang open and he started wailing again. Poor little guy. I rocked him and rocked him, but with no success.

By this time it was 3am and I was exhausted and out of options. I made the decision that Elijah was gonna have to man up and cry himself to sleep. I put him in his crib and crawled back into bed.

He was super pissed and howled louder and louder. Diana crawled out of bed and I said, “He’s fine. He just needs to sleep. Come back to bed.”

Diana ignored me and went into Eli’s room. A few seconds of silence went by and she came back into bed.

“He peed through his diaper and his pajamas were soaked.”

Eli immediately went to sleep. As did Diana. I, on the other hand, stared at the ceiling until morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Water Evidence



On Friday, May 23rd, 2008 I wrote one of the worst blog entries in HamannEggs history. I can’t link to the post because I blog at barely a third grade level. Anyway, it was a lame attempt to prove why Elijah likes water more than other babies. My evidence? Eli likes baths. And sticking his hands in the dog’s dish. And messing with the toilet. Wow. I should’ve gone into advertising with convincin’ skills like that.

Well, yesterday Elijah gave me some more evidence that he loves water. In the form of trying to drown himself.

Diana and Eli and Grover headed down to the Evanston lakefront to take in the glorious day that changed America forever. Yay Obama!

Apparently they stood at the water’s edge watching Grover splash in the lake when all of a sudden Grover decided he was a world class swimmer. He took off towards Michigan doing whatever stroke dogs do. The backstroke? So Diana waded out to call Grover back to the shore. At which point Eli decided he wanted to visit Michigan as well. He toddled out into the surf and promptly got knocked face first into the murk by a rogue wave.

Diana grabbed him by his hood and hoisted him to safety. But he was covered in cold cold water. According to Diana, as soon as she set his soaking butt down in the sand, he ran back towards the lake again and went face first into the drink.

Hypothermia is not high on Diana’s list of things to cure Elijah of, so she stripped him down to his diaper and stuffed him back into his car seat.

So there. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Elijah loves water more than your kid does.

You know what? This post is kind of lame too. I’m not going to write anymore about water. It’s my writer’s kryptonite.

p.s. I don’t have any photographic evidence of the event. So pretend the bowl of candy is the lake, and the Elmo costume is filthy water mixed with crack vials and syringes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote



I don't care who you vote for today so long as you vote. So stop reading blogs and go stand in line.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Elmo Up Up



Steve and I headed down to Washington Illinois last weekend to help my mom with some housekeeping. Not literal. Emotional. So we figured, what the hey, let’s bring Finn and Elijah down. They have been getting along like champs.

The only blip on the way down was after passing the 100th consecutive McCain/Palin yard sign, Finn had enough and barfed a gallon of vanilla shake all over Steve’s car. Elijah was understandably freaked out so we spent 10 minutes holding our puke covered sons in a church parking lot saying, “It’s ok, it’s ok. Sarah Palin can’t get you. She’s not real. She’s just a character made up to scare liberals into voting.”

After our sons tag teamed to cover every inch of mom’s house with every single dust covered toy from our youth (Finn was delighted to see all the old busted Star Wars crap), we decided to head to the Happiest Place in Rural Illinois: WALMART.

We loaded up my mom with enough Lean Cuisines and ketchup to last her a month and then set our sights on the real reason we went to the home of the decline of western civilization. The Toys.

After selecting a nice Star Wars thing for Finn, I began to search the aisles for a proper Eli reward for being a good traveler. Truth be told, he could have burned Steve’s car to the ground and I still would’ve gotten him something. I’m a sucker. After cruising up and down the plastic haven, I spotted what I was there for: The Elmo talking things.

There was a “Tickle Me Elmo”, A “Scare the Crap Out of Rick Elmo” (with a moving mouth) and a “No Way In Hell Elmo” that cost $80. I handed Eli each one and he’d violently toss them to the ground. But then I handed him an “Elmo Up Up.” Which says, “Elmo up up!” Elijah gently kissed it on the mouth.

“We have a winner!” I proclaimed to the zit faced Walmart employee who was cleaning up the discarded Elmos.

Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as we got back to mom’s Eli promptly forgot the Elmo Up Up and went back to chasing Finn and knocking over valuable Star Wars antiques. I tried in vain to get Eli interested in the thing, including singing the Elmo Up Up song so often that even Finn asked me to knock it off.

When I arrived home yesterday I presented the Elmo Up Up to Diana, who said, “It’s creepy.” And on the kitchen floor it stayed. I couldn’t even get Grover to disembowel it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween 2








If you’ll recall from last year, Elijah was so freaked out about the holiday that we almost eliminated it from our lives altogether. I was fully prepared to spend this year’s October 31st hiding from Trick Or Treaters in our basement. But as we all know, basements are where the zombies, Jasons, Freddies and Michael Myers hang out. Not to mention the hidden Grover poops.

This year was much more enjoyable. Eli went so far as to actually wear the Elmo corpse costume. But he refused to wear the Elmo head for more than 3.5 seconds. So he spent the majority of the evening looking like our living room shag rug. I was a wee bit disturbed by the Elmo head dangling on Eli’s back, however. It looked so sad.

Eli was still too young to really understand the concept of Halloween. The doorbell would ring, Grover would bark his head off, Elijah would race to the front door and bang on the screen door. I’d let him go out on our porch to investigate the costumed youth, but he’d take one look at the various Pocahontas or Michael Phelpses and he shout, “Dada! Up! Up!”

Unlike last year’s Spidermen, there was no central theme to this year’s costumes. The only really scary one was an obese child who came to our door dressed as a remarkably accurate “Chucky.” I dumped the majority of our candy into his bag, screaming, “Just take it! Take it all you vile obese doll from hades!”

The party didn’t really get rocking until Finn arrived dressed as a Star Wars clone trooper. Eli and he spent the rest of the night chasing each other, screaming and occasionally chewing the outside wrapper of a candy bar before dumping it back into the candy bowl. I imagine kids all over the neighborhood handing their parents slimy, tooth marked Snickers that were immediately sent to Evanston police headquarters.

The rest of our local friends also arrived and seemed to delight in quietly drinking wine after Eli went to bed. Thankfully, Finn chased him into a good night’s sleep.

I guess we’ll do Halloween next year.

p.s. I’ve included a lot more pics than usual. Including an adorable Rory dressed as a bear or a badger or a hamster. Awwwww.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Prep



Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend. So it’s Fall. Which means we move the clock over to the window and throw it in the neighbor’s birdbath.

The HamannEggs team is a little scared about the impending time switch. Because Elijah has been waking up at 5am lately. So very shortly it will be Elijah waking up at 4am. And I flat out refuse to wake up earlier than our nation’s senior citizens. They deserve to have first dibs at the buffet tables.

So we’ve been trying to shake up Eli’s sleep schedule in an attempt to knock his wake up time back a few minutes. We’ve put him to bed early. We’ve put him to bed late. We’ve made him take extra naps, no naps, naps on Grover. But no luck. At 5am sharp every morning we hear the telltale, “Aaarrrghh,” from Eli’s crib.

And then we broke him.

Two nights ago, he punished us by not sleeping a wink. Not a moment from 7:30pm to 5am. So our house became two zones. Zone 1: Swear Zone. Zone 2: Helpful Parent Zone. Allow me to demonstrate.

There would be exactly 35 seconds of silence where Diana and I would pray a little pray that this would be the moment he would finally sleep. And then we’d hear, “Aaaarrrgh.” At which point we’d start with the swearing. “Why won’t he #%$@##%@% sleep? What the &^%? *(&^*&^%%$ damned (&*&%!”

But then we (Diana) would open our adjoining doors and walk into Zone 2. “Hey buddy. I’m so sorry you can’t sleepy. What can I do? Rock you? Here. Let me rock you. I love you.”

Zone 1 got progressively more sweary throughout the night.

At 5am, Diana decided enough was enough and took the child downstairs for Sesame Street. I came down later and tried to talk to Elijah.

“Hey man. Why didn’t you sleep last night? Don’t you know little guys need sleep?”

“Shoe.”

“Yes I see the shoe. But mommies need sleep. Babies need sleep too.”

“Shoe.”

“Ok, let’s put the shoe down.”

“Shoe.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chunk



I’ve gone on record as saying I don’t like Elijah’s long hair. For one thing, being as beautiful as he makes gender identification difficult enough for the general public as it is. Add in golden locks and we might as well have named him Elaine.

But whenever I complain about it, Diana uses her secret weapon. She simply says, “If you want him to have shorter hair, YOU cut it.” At which point I’d slink away, mumbling about how I get no respect I tells ya, and tugging at my tie. My laziness is my Achilles heel.

Well, last night I’d had enough of him looking like a cross between Brian Bosworth and Farah Faucet. So while I was in mid bath with Eli, I proclaimed loudly, “It's time! Woman, get me some scissors!” Diana yelled from the other room, “No no no no!” But I was adamant. She reluctantly handed me some shears and a plastic comb and sat perched on the end of the tub.

“Careful. He gets his power from his hair,” she said.

I ignored her and took a huge chunk out of our tiny Sampson’s hair. And then another and then another. Diana began to shake. “Give me those scissors, you butcher.”

We wrestled over the boy’s hair, snatching the scissors out of each other’s hands and attempting our own version of awesome. By the time he emerged from the bath he looked like someone had at his hair with a band saw and a spoon.

Luckily, Eli doesn’t seem to care about his looks. His mother, on the other hand, is mortified at his homespun do.

Today’s photo is all that Diana will allow the viewing public to see of his new haircut.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bullies



Life is pretty easy for a beautiful baby. You essentially have to blink your big blue eyes and the world is your oyster. This morning Elijah got a tough life lesson in the form of his first bully.

If you’re gonna write a family sitcom, sooner or later you have to do the inevitable bully storyline. Remember when Bobby Brady punched out that kid who made fun of Cindy’s lisp and then gave the bully a lisp and he had to borrow Cindy’s “She Sells Sea Shells By The Seashore” book?

Now, why can I remember that but not remember to rinse off my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher? Oh yeah. The booze.

Eli was already off his game this morning because he woke me up at 5:15am and I spent the next two hours asking him why he enjoys torturing me. By the time Di woke up Elijah was sleepy and whiney and in a snit. So Diana went to her “go to” whenever he gets to be a sourpuss: The Library!

As I’ve said before, Elijah loves the library. Mostly because there is a giant stuffed bear and lots of spit-covered toys. But I secretly think he likes it because the other moms fawn over him and look at their own children like there are ogres compared to our curly blonde cutie pie.

But Elijah encountered a young, rolly polly Germany toddler who, unprovoked, stiff armed my son and knocked him to the ground. Apparently the only injury sustained was a crushing realization that not everyone is nice and cool and gives you kisses. And some people, some two-year-olds in fact, are actually future a-holes.

When Diana told me this story, I was fairly bummed out. I didn’t want him to learn some people are a-holes until he was well into his advertising career.

p.s. Today’s photo is a very blurry representation of Eli trying on his anti a-hole helmet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christening 2: Elijah’s Revenge



Last Sunday was Steve’s daughter Rory’s wedding. I mean christening. Diana had an out of town Wine Goddess thing, so it was just Elijah and me. I figured I’d put the kid in a cute outfit, we’d sit quietly in the pew, pray, and have a pizza party.

Right? Right?

Once we arrived at the church, Elijah caught a terrible case of the Terrible Twos. As soon as the priest started his routine, Eli recognized him as the guy who poured holy water on his head six months ago. His reaction was, “He aint getting me this time. I can run now.”

And no amount of looking through the hymnal would appease him. He started shrieking and I realized I was fast becoming known as the Guy Who Ruined The Christening.

So I snatched the squirming screaming boy and ran out of the church’s side door. Eli instantly calmed down and started sniffing the church flowers.

But it was 55 degrees and Eli was jacketless. I thought the only worse then ruining the christening was ruining my son. So I carried him back inside the church. I was able to watch the priest pour holy water over Rory’s head. She barely blinked. She had this awesome “Oh, well I guess I’m Catholic now” expression.

Eli began shrieking again and I worried the priest would drop the next baby into the bath. So I spent the rest of the time bouncing inside and outside based on Eli’s shivering and shrieking.

The pizza party was a bit better. Elijah was able to chase various children around. But the moment I put him in a highchair to eat delicious pizza, he pitched his head back and started howling. I decided this was the perfect time to buy everyone in the party a beer on me.

I got Eli home and found the angriest poo I’ve ever seen in his diaper. Maybe that was causing his troubles.

p.s. Today’s photo is of Rory and Jabba The Hut. I’m sure she’ll be totally cool with that shot when she’s 16.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fool Me Three Times, Shame On Everybody



I’m tempted to just type “So, Diana was in the tub with Elijah…” and let everyone just fill in their own scatological story. But this one is too good to pass up.

I was in the office reading up on Huffington Post, the world’s most liberal website. Did you know Republicans are evil? Anyhoo, I heard Diana shout, “Rick! Get in here!” from the bathroom.

I strolled over knowing full well what awaited me: An angry mommy, an oblivious baby and a floating poopie. I was right on all accounts. As I lifted the slightly lighter Eli out of the tub, Diana gave me the details.

Apparently, in the midst of squirting each other with plastic bath toys, Eli suddenly stood up and said, “Pooh…”

Diana, seeing no poo, thought he did a #1 in the tub. Gross enough, but she corrected him in an attempt to lay the groundwork for future potty training. “No, pee!”

“Pooh,” Elijah said.

“Pee,” Diana said.

“Pooh,” Elijah said.

“Pee,” Diana said.

And then Eli made his point. A horrible, horrible hilarious point.

Since that poo story is a little, um, light, I’ll give you a two-fer today. Eli loves the alphabet. Thank you Sesame Street. But he still hasn’t gotten the hang of all 26 letters. In fact, he really only knows E, C, D, and Z. But he knows the cadence of the alphabet song. So feel free to sing along with Eli as he recites the alphabet:

E C DD E C D, EE, DD EE D, CC DD EE C, CC DD and Z.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CSI Sesame Street



I rushed home last night to watch the presidential debate. Luckily, Elijah was still awake and finishing up Naked Crazies upstairs. So I rushed up to force him into kissing me. I popped into our bedroom to change clothes and I stopped short.

Laying on our bed, was a gutted, dismembered corpse of the Sesame Street character Elmo. All that was left was a head and red-furred skin. As shocked as I was about the viciousness of the attack, I was more traumatized by the killer’s need to display the body on our marital bed. The eyes. They wouldn’t stop looking at me.

Eli stumbled into the room and I said in a whisper, “Honey…did…did you kill Elmo?” Eli laughed and ran back to his toys.

I began to panic. Surely a beloved Muppet like Elmo would be missed. And since Elijah is Elmo’s #1 fan, he’d be at the top of the police’s list of suspects.

I had to make a plan. I had to get the body out of the house without the neighbors seeing, or Oscar The Grouch (it was trash day, after all).

But as I collected the body, I realized it was a Halloween costume.

So he’s going as Elmo this year, everybody! Set your cameras for cute. Based on his general hatred of having anything on his head, I’m guessing he will be in the Elmo corpse costume for about 25 seconds.

p.s. I keep forgetting. Eli now dips towels into Grover’s water dish and tries to suck on the dog water. We have to put up a baby gate to prevent him from being the grossest baby in the history of the world. That has nothing to do with today's post, but I'm sure I'll want to remember this tidbit of gross years from now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Young Man And The Sea



We took Elijah and Grover to the beach Sunday to celebrate the last day of Indian Summer before the hammer of winter rubs our face into snow drifts and shoves snow down our jackets and hits us with a snowball I’m SURE has stones in it.

As usual, Grover was intent on chasing his tennis ball until either his heart exploded or my arm fell off. Diana was intent on keeping an eye on our wandering Catholic.

About 3,000 tennis ball throws in, Eli turned on a dime and went walking away from us. Diana gave me a look like, “Let’s see where this goes,” and we followed the child. Eli started walking towards the lake, which was a good three football fields away.

Never once did he turn around to see if we were watching him, following him or preventing him from being kidnapped by Northwestern Unversity students bent on forcing him into their sick world of study groups and Birkenstocks.

Eli continued on and into the lake. Way into the lake. He did not stop until a wave knocked him backwards. And luckily into the arms of his mother. He snapped out of his trance and said, “Up up up!”

Once Diana put him down again, he started off for the lake and got soaked and knocked over again. Diana grabbed him and we started for the car with Eli wailing and pointing back to the lake.

I began to wonder if Eli was really our baby. Maybe he was an alien from planet Lake Michigan, who was being called home a la E.T. That would suck. I really like Eli.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unnecessary Roughness



For the first year of Elijah’s life, I treated him like a Faberge Egg. Even though our nurses at the hospital tossed him around like a rag doll, I was convinced if I was too rough with him I’d pop one of his arms off like a cupie doll.

But now that he’s mobile, he can barely make it across the living room without bashing into something. Usually me. But every once and a while he will take a serious tumble that makes me shout, “Nooo! Faberge Baby!”

Yesterday, we visited some of Diana’s friends from Berkeley who moved to Evanston. Aside from having a house that makes ours look like pile of wet matchsticks, they had two cute boys who book-ended Eli in age and an endless array of cool toys and balls and plastic things without sharp edges. So Eli did as always does when he finds himself among people of his own height: he went nuts.

He spent roughly three hours running at top speed throughout the Berkeley friends house screaming his head off. Luckily, the Berkeley boys were also well versed in the screaming arts.

As we were having a post dinner glass of wine and attempting to have an adult conversation over the delighted howls, I watched as Eli ran clockwise around a couch and Jonah, the eldest boy ran counterclockwise. Completely unable to stop the impending crash, my brain began to assume the voice of an NFL sportscaster.

“4th and two. This is a do or die moment for team Hamann. Clock is running down. Here’s the snap. Hamann hands off to Hamann. Hamann cuts to the outside…he has daylight…15…10…5…Ohhhh! He gets tattooed by Jonah!”

Eli bounced off the boy and flew backwards. Luckily, his face broke his fall. As he lay there, I began collecting our things and Diana rushed over to our clump of baby. Nothing ends a night faster than a hysterical child.

Jonah attempted to give Eli a pile of colorful magnets as a get-well gift. But Eli was too hurt and angry to accept. But we were able to calm him down with a fist full of raspberries.

But by the time we got home Eli had forgotten all about his face plant. And I realized I have to teach him the fine art of Juking.

And when he's older I'll have to teach him about using two analogies in one paragraph (see: first paragraph).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scoop



Occasionally at HamannEggs Headquarters the writing staff (me) gets into a bit of a rut. It’s hard to come up with things that are on the verge of being funny all the time. Especially when my interaction with the child during the week involves watching him watch Sesame Street in the morning and hearing him shout, “Hi dada!” from his crib when I get home at night.

So yesterday I tried to engage in a little HamannEggs reporting. I emailed Diana and asked her to pass along any funny, or poo-related stories. Her response, and this is a direct quote from my email inbox, was:

“How about that he's the cutest baby in the world. The world!!”

Jeeze. How am I supposed to keep readership above the 7 person level with material like that?

When I got home last night (after hearing Elijah shout, “Hi Dada!” from his crib), I sat Marianna down and asked her if Eli did anything funny that day. Her response was, “Oh. He is an angel. He is so smoochy. Soooooo smoochy.”

I said, “Yeah yeah. HamannEggs covered that July 8th. What else do you have?”

Marianna said, “Ohh. He say, ‘Ooo ooo aahh ahhh.’ Just like the Nemo movie!”

I said, “Do you even read HamannEggs? We did a story about that September 28th.”

Marianna said, “He’s smoochy.”

Diana promised me that she has some funniness from their visit to Story Time at the library. But I have to check her sources.

A big HamannEggs thank you to Juliet Greenberg, our friend who works at Pixar. She sent Eli an awesome Finding Nemo pillow, which is now a permanent member of Eli’s crib managerie. This morning Eli spend a half hour saying, “Ooo ooo aahh ahhh” to said pillow before saying his most favorite sentence, “Mama! Up up up!”

Then I get to say to Diana, “He’s asking specifically for you.” And then I go back to sleep.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mutt and Finn



Given how awesome Elijah is, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we will add another member to HamannEggs in the next 2-40 years. Di and I have even talked about the subject in theory. Like the theory that intelligent life exists in the universe. Or the theory that McCain can win Illinois in the general election. But unless a brother or sister arrives via spaceship, a la E.T., the boy will be an only child for the near future.

But every once and a while I get a glimpse of what the house will be like if and when we have another baby. And it will be crazy.

Today, uncle Steve and cousin Finn came over to watch the beginning of the White Sox game. Normally, Finn and Eli have a kind of United States/Canada relationship. They play near each other and generally pretend the other doesn’t exist. And occasionally cross the border to get cheap whiskey or dodge the draft.

But for some reason today they decided to join forces for the first time ever. And the results were hilariously loud. They spent the entire time chasing each other and screaming at each other and throwing soccer balls across the living room. If they weren’t being so darned cute, I would have noticed the windows were rattling at their shrieks. Grover stood at the back gate patiently for five minutes before I noticed and freed him into the quiet, quiet yard.

Occasionally, the duo would collapse in a pile of exhaustion. At which point Steve would shakily open two beers before the screaming began again.

I began to wonder what will happen when the two of them decide mischief is more fun than simply chasing each other. I see shaved dogs, broken windows and flaming bags of poo in our future.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Word From The Dog



I…Have…Had…It!

You know what? I’ve been pretty cool about the human puppy so far. From the moment that little poop factory came into my life, I went from being numero uno (pets, treats and runs ever time I want) to a second-class citizen. But I was ok with that. I got it. He smells like a combination of the Woman and the Mailman, so I knew he was important.

But I could always count on two things in life. One: The Man always smells like beer and panic. And Two: When the Man and Woman and human puppy leave, I get a treat. Case closed.

You know what happened yesterday? The human puppy ate my treat!

The Woman and the human puppy were on their way out of the house. I knew because they put on extra layers of fur. And then the human puppy went over to my cave in the back of the house and started pointing at my treats. The little hairless ape was going to give me a treat! I was like, “Now were talking.”

I ran across the house to him and put on my Cute Face. I open my mouth really wide and pant and cock my head. No human can resist giving me a treat when I do that.

So the Woman comes over and says, “Blah blah blah Grover blah treat.” But she grabs the treat box and I know it’s on.

She handed the human puppy a treat and I sit pretty waiting for it…waiting for it…waiting for it. AND THE HUMAN PUPPY TAKES A BITE OUT OF MY TREAT! I was like, “Whoa there human puppy. What’s up with that?”

Thankfully, the Woman yanked the treat out of his hands and said in her voice that’s usually reserved for making me feel bad about marking my territory inside, “Blah blah blah Grover Blah blah blah treat.”

And then the puppy starts screaming and pointing at my treat.

The Woman sighs and carries the human puppy out of the house. On her way out she gives me the treat with the bite out of it. Gross. Have you seen the inside of a human’s mouth?

I wanted to throw the treat right at the human puppy. But I don’t have thumbs. So I ate the treat. But I didn’t like it. OK. I liked it.

Grover out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Milkbone






It looks like the collapse of the economy is hitting the old HamannEggs pretty hard. We’ve resorted to feeding Elijah Milkbone dog biscuits.

Now, this is a clear example of why I love Diana Hamann. She is the greatest mom ever. She would throw herself in front of a bus to protect our son. But on the other hand, she allows Elijah to learn some of life’s lessons on his own. Like, for instance, that Milkbone dog biscuits do not taste very good unless you are a dog.

My favorite part is the fact that instead of rushing over and screaming, “No! Dirty!” and calling the E.R. to have his stomach pumped, she took the time to go get our camera and document his dog biscuit eating for posterity.

Take a moment to review the photos. They are priceless. Especially the last one, in which the full realization of eating dog food hits him like a ton of bricks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We All Scream For Dada!



Take your favorite song, mix it with your favorite line from your favorite movie, add in the voice of your grandmother, plus Frank Sinatra. No, make that 5 Frank Sinatras. No, make that 100 Sinatras. Multiply it by 1,000. And you still wouldn’t compare to the sound of Elijah shouting, “Dada!” when I enter the house.

Last night I got home right before Eli went to bed. Diana was winding him down and he was all wet haired and freshly ruby faced from a good scrubbing. As soon as I entered the house, he shouted, “Dada!” And I shouted, “Dudes!” And Grover started jumping on me. At which point I decided all bedlam should break loose. I started running around the house shouting and Eli followed me shrieking and shouting, “Dada!” and Grover was completely agitated.

Diana, on the other hand, was watching from the couch calmly saying, “Rick. Rick. Elijah needs to sleep in a few minutes. Let’s calm down…”

But who the heck wants to do that? I kept screaming and Eli kept screaming and laughing and we jumped on the couch and kissed Diana and rolled on the floor and got so whipped up I thought Eli was going to have some kind of fit. He actually started panting like Grover.

I also began to notice my own heart pounding in my chest and wondered if this was good for my weak Hamann heart. But I figured it this was the big one, it was worth it.

I still don’t have any new pictures. So enjoy this old shot of Eli eating Grover’s dogfood.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

May The Force Be With You



There is something all men do, regardless of race, country of origin, language or socioeconomic status. And that’s quote movies. Diana thinks it’s genetic. That somewhere along the lines of evolving from the apes, all the Y Chromosomes decided to launch into Bill Murray’s “Cinderella Story” monologue whenever we’re within 100 yards of a golf course.

I, on the other hand, think it’s merely out of stupidity. That when we’re standing on a rug, we generally have nothing better in our brains to say other than, “It really tied the room together, Dude.” That’s from the “Big Lebowski,” Mom.

Well, thankfully Elijah has fallen into that very male habit of quoting movies. The quote is obscure, but it’s from his one and only movie, “Finding Nemo.” There is a scene when a bunch of fish induct Nemo into a club. And the fish chant, “Ah ooo ah ee ah oh oh oh…” over and over. Not much by way of famous lines, but it struck Eli somehow.

Now Eli says, “Ah ooo ah ee ah oh oh oh” over and over. You can hear him chant it in his crib. He’ll chant it in the stroller on his way to the park, much to the dismay of the other parents who think we’re raising an Aborigine.

I have to say I’m pretty proud of him. I used to be able to quote every line of “Star Wars” from start to finish. Hmm. That was probably the nerdiest thing ever written in this blog.

But know we have a way of answering people on the street who ask if Eli is a boy or a girl without yanking his pants down.

p.s. Our home computer is still broken and we don’t have access to our photos. So show this picture to any man and watch the quotes fly!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apparently He’s A PC


Our home computer was on the fritz yesterday. And has been on the fritz off and on for the last year or two. Most of Diana’s work flows through the thing, as well as most of my pornography viewing, so it was important that we get it fixed asap.

The people at the Apple Store could only see Di at 4:30, which is Elijah’s witching hour. This coupled with the fact that he didn’t have a good nap stack the odds heavily in favor of a bad day for Diana and an interesting blog entry.

By the time the two of them entered the white walls of the place where money goes to die, Eli was redlined with energy. He began shrieking, wanting to get out of his stroller. So Di let him loose rather than watch the smirky Mac Guys make snarky comments about her parenting. Most likely in front of an all white wall.

The moment she put him down he raced across the Apple Store and found the one Sesame Street game among the thousands of boxes that lined the shelves. When he was unable to extract the contents of the box, he began yanking down box after box.

The childrenless Mac employees weren’t sure what to do, so they asked Elijah if they could demonstrate the latest ipod. Eli threw a box at one of the Mac people, in a protest of Apple’s habit of introducing a completely awesome version of a product the minute I buy the old version.

Diana scooped Eli up and strapped him into his stroller. Which made him cry. The Mac nerd she was talking to tried to explain our computer needed a bunch of new parts and wouldn’t be fixed for several days. But she couldn’t hear him over Eli’s howls.

Diana finally got home and called me, frustrated with life. I was at an agency golf and beer drinking outing. I could not make her believe I was having less fun than she was.

Today’s photo is another in the “Don’t talk to me during Finding Nemo” series.