Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paci? Where’d you go?

Di and Eli and I had a magnificent Memorial Day weekend. Given the fact that this will be my last official weekend before the bad bad summer busy season, we family-ed it up like sailors on leave before going off to war. Hmm, that analogy seems off.

Anyhoo, we had a great time. BBQ’s, porch sittin’, digging in the mud. We took many trips to the park for swinging and ball throwing. My blood pressure went down a good 30 points.

But somewhere over the weekend it dawned on us that it’s time for Eli to lose the pacifier. I’m not sure the official cut off for pacifiers. Heck, I’ve seen 25 year olds with them. Or were those cigarettes? But our doctor really wanted him to ditch it after 1 year.

On the pacifier addiction spectrum, Eli is pretty tame. He definitely likes them to sleep, and if he finds them on the floor (it’s gross, but better than finding a used tissue on the floor), he’ll pop it in for good measure. But we did feel bad about denying him his comfort.

We didn’t make a big production of it. We just stuck him in his crib, sans paci. He immediately started howling. We felt like jerks. By depriving him his special thing were we damaging him? Is this how Southern Playwrights are created?

But suddenly, he stopped. Di and I looked at each other and said, “Best. Parents. Ever.”

Before we went to bed we checked on him. The little stinker had a pacifier in his mouth. He had them stashed all over his crib like tiny contraband. All of his stuffed animals had been tossed out of the crib in a desperate attempt to find his stash.

Well, the last few days haven’t been great, without the pacifiers. But tonight was the first night he got so sleep without howling. Hopefully he’s over it and can focus his attention on something else. Like an unhealthy obsession with Grovers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Me vs Di: What Not To Wear

Diana is famous the world over for her OCD. A Phil Collins song has been running through her head for a decade (I can’t mention the name or I don’t get any lovin’ for a month). If she ever meets him face to face, I pity the aging rocker.

She also, like other OCD suffers, needs things in their proper place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen her stop in her tracks, twitch, and move a candle two inches. Unfortunately, this doesn’t match up with a child who suffers from a need to pull everything out of drawers. But she’s dealing and is able to focus her OCD energy on the only thing she really has control over: Elijah’s outfits.

This is a great form of OCD because it results in Eli looking super cute all of the time. Well, most of the time but we’ll get to that in a second. Take a look over the last 13 month’s worth of pictures. Every one he’s put together perfectly. His socks usually match his pants, which match his shirt, which match his hat, which (and look for yourself it’s true) match his PACIFIER.

I’m fine and dandy with it. But, I do not share her need to have a coordinated baby, nor will I go out of my way to make him coordinated. Not because I don’t understand matching, but because I view baby clothing differently. Any and all clothing will be covered in milk, dog spit, mud and food within three minutes of being placed on his body. So why bother? And Eli hates being dressed, so he constantly tries to leap from the changing table, which, if you don’t get clothes on him fast, means your first errand of the day will be to the ER.

So I’ll come down from his room with plaids and stripes, pants on his head, socks on his ears or any other kind of mishmash, which drives Diana up the wall. Most of the time she’ll just grab him and take him upstairs for a new wardrobe. But occasionally we’ll make it out of the house before she realizes he’s wearing tuxedo pants and a pajama top.

Which results in me getting a lecture in being mean to the mentally ill.

p.s. There is no photo today because Blogger is not working.

p.s.s. Never mind.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Water Sports

I’m hoping that this overly detailed chronicling of Elijah’s every poo, spit and yelp will result years from now in some hilarious cause and effect analysis. Aside from the obvious “Overly detailed chronicling of Elijah’s every poo, spit and yelp equals furious teenager.”

But already there are some interesting trends coming from the boy. From day one, he’s been obsessed with water.

He loves baths. Yeah yeah, which baby doesn’t? But I think he takes it to another level. He seems to be studying the water when he splashes or I dump a cupful into his hands.

Where it gets a little gross is he’s also obsessed with Grover’s water dish. If you turn your back for a second he’ll scrunch scrunch scrunch over to poor Grover dish and jam his hand into it. I can’t decide who gets the worst of it. Eli getting dog germs all over his hands or Grover for having his only source of water contaminated by baby goo. We’ve taken to baby-gating off Grover’s water dish to keep Eli out of it. But all it really does is causes Grover to slowly dehydrate.

He also loves the toilet. Yeesh, does he love the toilet. For someone who uses the bathroom standing up a good portion of the time, I’m usually at a loss when he crashes through the door and jams his hand into the bowl. I can usually only shout, “No! Gross! Not for babies!” Either that or stoop to stop him, which is both physically taxing and results in more trouble than it’s worth.

The only water he doesn’t like is Holy Water. But that’s just because a priest dumped it in his eyes.

Perhaps this will result in a future underwater, uh, demolition expert. Or a future underwater, uh, swimming type career. Well, I’m sure the future will hold plenty of career choices for the water obsessed.

Or he’ll be a plumber.

p.s. Since future Eli will most likely hate me for posting a naked photo of him, I’ve included an equally humiliating photo of me. Shame went out window long ago.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dad Hungry

Diana begs me every morning to eat a salad for lunch. Why? Because she knows when I’m out of her sight I eat terribly. Right now I am smearing the keyboard with deer sausage and cheddar cheese. When Diana is at work, I am famous for my “Third Grader Dinner,” which consists of fish sticks and tater tots.

Well, I’ve found a new love: Elijah’s food. I can’t resist the stuff. Chopped up bananas. Chopped up grapes. Chopped up turkey meatballs. I employ the “one for you, seven for me” theory. Eli doesn’t seem to mind as long as he gets to smear his cut all over his face, neck, ears and eyeballs.

I particularly love food packaged for babies. If it has Elmo, Grover or Big Bird on the cover, you can guarantee I’m going to eat it by the fist full.

This doesn’t jive with Diana. Mostly because my love of eating his food coincides with my love of not throwing things away. She’ll reach for a box of Cookie Monster brand crackers and find one half of a cracker rumbling around the bottom. She’s actually taken to hiding Eli’s food from me so he’ll actually have a lunch.

But I can sniff out a baby yogurt hidden behind a package of spinach from a mile away.

Today’s photos is another Christening shot. As you can see, Elijah was a bit scared and needed to hold onto his dad. But he chose to hold onto my zipper, which rendered a good 20 photos horribly awkward for public consumption.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eli Got Religion

From the moment Elijah woke us up last Sunday, Di and I shouted, “Yay! You’re getting God today!” I’ll admit, at the beginning there was a touch of post hipster ironic detachment in our shouts. Because it just ain’t cool to get religion these days.

But as the day wore on and we got closer and closer to Eli’s Christening, our tune changed. We realized that maybe this was something we shouldn’t joke about. That this is something we’ll look back on as a major event in his life. So when we said, “Yay! You’re getting God today,” it was in a whisper.

We arrived at the church with our families and friends in tow. After several hundred photos, the priest asked us to settle down. It may have been the stained glass or the microphoned priest, but Elijah was surprisingly subdued during the first half of the service. First half.

After some prayers and some oil and some signs of the cross, the priest asked us to walk back to the, um, bath. For the main event. As the priest prayed, Eli must have realized what was next because he shed his shirt and refused to put it back on. That, plus the fact that he doesn’t currently wear shoes turned him into Li’l Abner.

The priest motioned us to the “dippin’ position.” He must have known that a full submersion was a recipe for disaster, because he pulled an audible and went for the baptism water on the head rather than the dunk.

But we still had to hold Eli over the bath. Which was Di’s duty. As she dipped him towards the water, Eli grabbed onto the front of her dress for balance. And yanked down. Which revealed a lot more of my wife than I’d prefer the congregation of St. Nicks to see. The priest was understandably off his game, but regained his composure as Di handed off the boy to me and put her goodies back where they belonged.

Eli shrieked when the holy water hit him. And then we dried him off and dressed him in a lovely white Spanish Suit. We all headed back to our house for hamburgers and beer. Which seemed like a perfect end to the day. That, and digging up dirt in my backyard.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Best Birthday Present Ever

I know I sound like a broken record, but this week was another tough one at the magic factory. Instead of eating a pre-birthday dinner with Diana last night I sat hunched over my computer at my very non-celebratory office until I was the last one there.

I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep very well and woke up in a funk this morning. Diana surprised me with a plate of muffins and a kiss, but I was distracted and kind of blue. Di offered to take Grover out for his morning constitutional, so I carried Elijah upstairs and let him crawl around our bedroom floor while I got dressed.

Occasionally the weight of working in such a high stress environment just gets too heavy. Which is almost too stupid to type. It’s not brain surgery or the peace process. It’s making pretty pieces of paper for meetings. But sometimes the pretty pieces of paper start to consume my every thought and I get funked. And this morning I was in a grand funk. So much so that I simply sat at the edge of our bed and put my head in my hands. Oh boo hoo, the overpaid wordsmith was sad. What can I say? I’d had enough.

Out of the corner of my ear I heard the scrunch scrunch of Eli crawling on the carpet. He arrived at my knees and did his arm-raising “up” pantomime. I hoisted him onto my knee and he wrapped his arms around me and gave me a hug. I didn’t have to pin him down and get a hug. Nor did I have to trick him into it.

It was a pure, selfless gesture on Eli’s part. Man, I love that kid.

I arrived at work today and cancelled my afternoon meetings. I’m going to go to the Cub game instead.

It’s going to be a good birthday.

p.s. Grover ate all the muffins while our backs were turned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hook, Line And Sinker

Okay, okay. I know just a few days ago I waxed on about how I don’t care if and when Elijah starts walking. But now that it’s eminent, I want in on the act.

Eli is pretty good at what I call the “Drunken Scooch.” He’ll hold himself up on chairs or footrests or any other baby level furniture and, well, scooch around, off balance like an Irishman after the Jameson factory tour. My apologies to Irish people everywhere for such an unflattering generality.

He is also great at the “Fart Walk.” It’s not what you think. It’s when he grabs onto your fingers as balance and, well, you know, walks. And probably farts.

What he is still working on is the getting from point A to point B without holding onto anything.

So I’ve been trying to bait him into walking. When he is practicing his standing, I’ll sit about two feet from him and call to him like I do Grover. “Come ‘ere. Eli. Come ‘ere little buddy. You’re ever so talented.” In the dumbest voice I can muster. He usually gets excited and inches himself to a fingertip length away from his safety place.

At which point he’ll launch himself at me and crash into my arms. Not technically walking. It’s more like advanced falling. But he squeals with glee, and, of course, I yell like a lunatic at how unbelievably talented he is.

What can I say? Someone somewhere praised a C student enough that one day he became President.

p.s. According to today’s photo, I’ve officially turned into Archie Bunker.

p.s.s. Dear future Eli. “Archie Bunker” is a reference so old I barely know what it means.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother’s Day 2: Elijah’s Revenge

It’s no joke that I think my wife is amazing. Put her ability to deal with my semi schizophrenia aside. And put her ability to deal with my job that causes schizophrenia aside. She keeps Elijah from sticking a fork in his eyeball 24 hours a day and manages to do it while looking like Demi Moore before she went plastic surgery crazy.

So for this year’s Mother’s Day, I decided to give her the best Mother’s Day gift you can give: A break from her Motherly duties. I took Elijah duty the whole weekend so that she could do whatever she wanted. Which was clean the basement and plant 100 flowers around the house. Not what I’d choose (X-Box + Beer), but to each their own.

To avoid her being tempted by a screaming child desperate to escape parental incompetence, I took Elijah to my mother’s, who was in need of some grandson time. So Di had the whole place to herself.

When I told my brother I was taking Eli to Mom’s by myself, his response was, “Tell Eli I’m sorry.”

After a 3 hour trek in which Eli didn’t stop howling, I arrived at my Mom’s house. As I extracted him from his car seat, I chanted, “I think I can I think I can I think I can.” Within 20 minutes my Mom’s house was declared a Disaster Area. Diapers were stuck to the ceiling, crackers were crushed into her carpet, Eli gleefully extracted every item from her kitchen drawers and flung them to the four corners. My Mom had a blast, but I had a minor nervous breakdown.

By the time we arrived back in Evanston, every item of clothing he had was covered in goo. His car seat was more cracker than car seat. His hair color is technically strawberry blond because, well, it contained crushed strawberries.

But Di was happy for the break and Eli was very happy to see his rightful caretaker.

p.s. Matt Cragnolin, the great art director, made Di's Mother's Day card, which I display front and back for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Walk Watch

The first thing people ask when I tell them how old Elijah is, besides, “Lord, I hope he looks like his mother,” is, “Is he walking yet?”

I’m not as concerned with the walking. I got really amped up over him crawling. I viewed that as a must in his baby development. And, quite frankly, I got a little pushy with him to the point of manually moving his arms and legs around when all he wanted to do was take a nap.

As far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t ever have to walk. He gets around fine on all fours. Better than fine. Who needs two feet, anyway? Now, I will admit crawling may hurt his dating prospects as an adult. And he probably won’t be able to pitch for the White Sox. Marathons are out. And he’ll have to get used to getting kicked in the face at the bus stop.

Well, despite my lack of pressure on walking, he’s about three minutes away from doing it. He’s got the standing thing down. I’ll walk into a room and he’ll be standing without holding onto anything and he’ll look at me like, “Oh yeah, this? It’s called balance. Look it up.”

He also loves walking if his mother holds his hands. He doesn’t quite love it when I do it. Maybe because I scream, “You’re walking!”

Marianna thinks he’ll be walking by the time she baby-sits again on Wednesday. “Oh yes. My little angel walk berry soon…” Yoda+nun=Marianna.

I hope he does his first steps while I’m around. Which is about 35 minutes in any given week. But no pressure. Seriously. I mean it.

p.s. If you think I save my abuse for only my son, I present photo #2.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


A friend of ours once said toddlers are like Brittany Spears. They don’t care if attention is positive or negative, so long as it’s attention. In the spirit of that soon to be committed to an asylum pop singer, Eli is out for attention any way he can get it. Here are a few of his favorites:

Climbing. I don’t know where he got his upper body strength. Certainly not from his father. He climbs on the coffee table. He scales the baby gate. He scampers up the stairs in the time it takes you to cross the living room. And when you snatch him from whatever dangerous perch he’s dangling? He cackles like a lunatic.

Dog. Poor poor patient Grover. All he wants to do is lay on the floor and get some rest after a hard day of resting and along comes Mr. Whisker Yanker. I know I’ve mentioned this before (several times), but we can’t seem to wipe the insane look of glee of Eli’s face as he head-butts Grover to the point of hiding in the backyard.

Screeching. Let’s say you are playing with Elijah in the living room with SportsCenter on in the background. And an amazing Top Ten Plays Of The Day pops up that involves a guy dunking a basketball while breathing fire and singing the theme to “Maude.” If you turn your head towards the TV and away from the baby, Eli will screech so loudly it punctures your eardrum. But it’s so hilarious you’ll accept the blood flowing from your ears. He also loves screeching in Catholic Christening classes, lines at the grocery store, and of course the library.

But Heaven forbid you want his attention while Bert from Sesame Street is singing “Doin’ The Pigeon.” It’s like talking to a brick wall. Kids these days.

p.s. Kids in sunglasses? Cute.

p.s.s. Steve and Pam's new daughter, Eli's cousin, is named "Rory Maria Hamann." Cute.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Hamann Egg

Warning. This is a rare, non-100% Elijah focused blog entry. Elijah got himself a brand new cousin. A little girl born to Steve and Pam. What’s the name? In typical Hamann-fashion they have yet to name the little beauty.

Because we love hilarious birth stories here at HamannEggs, let me run down how as-yet-to-be-named girl joined us.

I was woken from a wine-induced slumber at 3am with Steve on the other line. Pammy was having contractions and they needed to head to Evanston Hospital. Although Tom was the official back up dad, they wanted me to be there when Finn woke up. Apparently they thought having someone who vaguely looks his dad wouldn’t freak Finn out. Famous last words.

So I sleepily drove over to the southern Hamann branch and saw a surprisingly casual Steve and Pam out the door. Tom took the couch and I took the master bed. After tossing and turning and sleeping about 4 minutes, I heard the pitter patter of Finn feet at 5am.

Now, imagine this scenario from Finn’s point of view. You go to sleep and your universe is very tidy. Mom, dad, dog, cat all where they should be. Then you wake up and your world has been replaced by two stinky men.

I sat up and saw a horrified Finn trying to make sense of the new bizarre universe he now lived in. I began talking way too rapidly and loudly, “Hi Finn! It’s me uncle Rick! You’re mommy and daddy went away and I’m here to take care of you! DON’T BE SCARED! Why don’t you climb into bed with me and sleep some more!”

He did what any of us would. He ran like the wind. Which woke Tom, who sat upright in the couch and said, “Darrrrgh!” Which scared Finn enough to hide in a kitchen cabinet. Tom and I managed to coax him out with grape juice. Within minutes he was happily watching cartoons and explaining his car collection to us.

Meanwhile, Steve and Pam were leisurely strolling into the hospital. The had filled out the “Pam” on the first form when an intern took one look and shouted, “The baby is crowning!” Steve began to stutter, “I’m not ready. I haven’t gone pee yet.” 15 minutes later they had a baby girl.

Thank goodness they didn’t stop off at McDonalds on the way or they would have to name their baby, “Ronald.”

Steve was home before Tom had to worry about what to do about changing Finn’s diaper.

Yay HamannEggs!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

First Catholicism

In preparation for Elijah’s Christening, we had to attend a class at our future Catholic church. So we loaded him up into the car, post nap, and drove the four minutes to old St. Nicks.

Time Out. Before I go any further, I keep forgetting to mention that Eli hates to have anything on his feet. If we can keep footwear on his feet for more than three minutes, it’s considered a success.

Time In. So we made it to Church, put Eli’s shoes back on and entered the ancient brick structure. As a born and raised Lutheran, I’m always excited to enter a Catholic church. I feel like a minor league ballplayer getting called up to the bigs. Yeah, Lutherans are just as important as Catholics, but there’s just something about all that Latin.

Anyhoo, we went into a small room with three couples whose children ranged from age 3 months to 3 ½ months. Di and I felt instantly like we were bad parents. Guilt. Now I was feeling Catholic.

I’d say we got roughly through fifteen seconds of Christening class before Eli started acting like a goofball. He started grabbing everyone’s Catholic pamphlets. He attacked the nice lesbian couple next to us (What, did you think we’d actually join a Catholic church that wasn’t liberal?). He started loudly chirping his monkey chirp. The 3 ½ month old parents began to twitch. Their panicked eyes seemed to say, “Is this how it’s going to be at 1 year?” In answer, Eli started banging the table. Di gave me the high sign and I walked out of the tiny room with crazed boy in tow.

The rest of the class went off without a hitch. And without me and my son. It dawned on me that I should have been the one learning about Catholic Christenings considering I was the non-Catholic. But we all play for the same team. It should be fine, right? Right?

p.s. Our church submerges babies during the proceedings. Knowing how nuts Eli gets in the tub, I’m fairly sure attendees in the first three rows are gonna get wet.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bad Blogger Bye Bye

Yikes. I just looked at the last time I blogged about the boy. Last Saturday. Sheesh. What kind of bad, non keeping up with the blog kind of dad am I?

Well, I’ve had kind of a tough week at the old salt mines. That coupled with the fact that Elijah is in one of his weeks where he doesn’t leap forward in development by miles and miles. But let me think for a second. There has to be something fun to talk about.

Oh yeah. Eli can pronounce, “Bye Bye.” Up until about two days ago, when I left in the morning he’d do the wave to himself and say, “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b…” Very cute. Although some mornings I think he’s trying to push me out the door. He’d start in on the “b-b-b-b” while I was still in my towel. I’d say, “Daddy will get arrested if he goes to work like this, son.”

Well, last night I got home in time to relieve Marianna while Elijah was still awake. As she was putting on her coat, Eli said, “Bye bye.” Not in the baby babble, but a full-on “Buh Byeeeee.”

Marianna cried, “Oh yes, my angel. You say bye bye to Marianna. Ah yes. Berry berry smart you are.”

And I cried, “Yeah. What she said.”

That’s al I got for now. I have to get back to saving the free world for $100,000 sports cars.

p.s. Ever notice that my personification of Marianna is a combo of a nun and Yoda? Very inaccurate, by the way.

p.s.s I don’t have any new photos. So this is another birthday shot.