Thursday, December 31, 2009

News Years Eve 2009






For the last few New Years’ I write a supposedly private note to my son, Elijah. Aside from the weak gag of yelling at my readers for reading the message, it serves the purpose of an official record all my sissy feelings for the last twelve months.

We’re leaving for a fancy party in a few hours, so I wanted to get all my sissy feelings out before I meet my old nemesis, Veuve Clicquot. And I have an additional letter to write this year.

For the record, I don’t write a letter to Diana because she gets her own private letter from me on Christmas morning. And I don’t write a letter to Grover because he finds my writing hackneyed and generally a waste of his time. So here goes.

Dear Elijah,

I’ve cried only one time in 2009. It was when I dropped you off at school a few months ago. I was in the parking lot and it just dawned on me that I loved you so much it physically hurt. And to see you grow up is the greatest adventure I could imagine. I wouldn’t pass up a single moment of this crazy, silly, scream-filled year for a billion dollars.

Next year will be great, son. I promise to go on lots of Dad and Eli only adventures. Especially ones where we go to the puppy store.

You just walked into the office and unrolled my yoga mat and said, “I have to do my exercises, daddy.” I can’t find a better example of why I love you.

Dear Luca,

Well, well ,well. The Silent Man. My dad told me my kids would be different, but I assumed we’d be getting a carbon copy of son #1. I’m so happy you proved him right.

We hardly know each other, but we already have a heap of memories. My favorite so far? When we watched at Jean Claude Van Damme movie late at night because you couldn’t sleep. You just stared at me with those dark eyes of yours and I thought, “I had no idea I could love another kid as much as Eli. But…there it is.”

I know you’re trying to figure it all out, behind those dark eyes. But let me help you with one answer: Your mommy and I love you more than anything in the world.

Love,

Dad

p.s. This was the sissiest of them all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Quick Reason Why I Love Diana


6pm tonight. Luca was so desperate for food that the actual taste of milk in his mouth made him furious because it wasn’t in his belly. I had an extremely howly, squirmy, red-faced baby in my arms in the Luca Room.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Elijah decided at that very moment that he hated this favorite food, Mexican rice. So he was screaming at the top of his lungs and banging his feet against his highchair, making a noise that would impress a jackhammer.

Grover sat at the end of the Luca bed, starting at me with a look that said, “No, in fact, I do not forgive you.”

Suddenly, Diana entered the room with a freshly opened beer. Probably the most desired beer in the history of hops and barley.

Unfortunately, both of my arms were busy with trying to feed Baby Banshee. Diana tipped the beer into my mouth. So it was Mommy feeding Daddy, Daddy feeding baby. Yeah, we’re not going to win any Parent Of The Year Awards with that maneuver. But I love her.

p.s. Despite being the most beautiful woman in the world, she doesn’t want her photo on the blog right now. So please enjoy this photo of my in my Rex Grossman jersey Christmas present. And my underpants. That’s about five jokes right there.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Should’ve Named Him “Marty.”


Christmas was great. And by “great,” I mean there were no blog-worthy disasters. Elijah went sufficiently bonkers. Di’s family came by and sufficiently praised my boeuf bourguignon. And we learned that Luca is sufficiently farty.

For those of you who are about to give birth (Patrick, Tom), around the 4th-6thth week, babies are at their most gassy. Whereas Eli’s version of gassy was to projectile vomit on my dress shirts, Luca’s form of gas is way more hilarious.

It’s like living with a one man Dixieland Jazz band 24 hours a day. Immediately after eating, he begins with the “Saints Go Marching In” in his diaper. Now, you can imagine how this delights me. Diana, not so much.

Although sometimes it really looks like it hurts. He gets red faced and scrunches up and then, wait for it…wait for it, “TOOT!” It seems as though he needs to mentally get his spleen out of the way before he can really let loose.

This all culminates in his 9-10:15 “witching hour.” If only all of us could decide that we were going to be jerks at the exact same time every day. But it seems as though he gets his baby daily calendar out and says, “Ok. Eat. Sleep. Toot. And then howl from exactly 9-10:15pm.”

So after Diana and I have had our wine and have watched enough HGTV to make me want to drive nails into my skull, I’ll scoop up Luca at 9pm on the dot and sit in his darkened room on the rocking chair and let him go nuts. And it’s not like he rattles the windows. He just squirms, grunts, cries out and toots in no particular order.

And then at 10:15, on the dot, he will get into a ball, let out one hellacious howl, followed by a day’s worth of toot and then it’s like a switch turns off. He immediately falls into the deepest sleep and doesn’t wake up for 4 hours.

So yeah. I’ll take my grouch baby in one and a half hours per day increments, thank you very much.

p.s. This is Diana’s sister, Peggy playing the one man Dixieland Jazz Band.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jelly Beans and Dinosaur Screams


Merry Christmas everyone! I’ll report on anything interesting tomorrow. But for now, here is our Christmas Eve story.

Elijah and I went to the expensive grocery store to get stuff for boeuf bourguignon and to get out of the house while Diana dealt with a surprisingly fussy Luca.

As we were walking through the bulk food aisle, a very nice elderly French woman stopped us. I resisted the urge to announce, “We’re making boef bourguignon! Like you people!” She was filling up a plastic bag with jellybeans and offered Eli a couple.

Eli realized that very moment he lurved jellybeans. He repeatedly asked the Frenchy, “More? Jellybeans?” She was nice about it, but finally said, “I auf to saf some for my granddaughter.” We bid her farewell and cruised on. However, in every aisle we walked down, there was the elderly French woman. “More? Jellybeans?” I’d attempt to go what I thought was her opposite direction and there she was, attempting not to make eye contact with Eli. “More? Jellybeans?”

I had an epiphany. We were set to attend Christmas Eve Mass with the Steve Hamanns. He and I looked at it like a suicide mission. We knew the outcome. Kids under 5 in church? Disaster. But tradition is tradition. You have to sit in church before you get presents. That’s the way we did it when I was a kid, and by gum, that’s how we’re doing it. I figured I could bribe Elijah into sitting quietly during church – with jellybeans. Yeah, I know. Wrong holiday. But I was still playing in the Catholic treats, so I think it was ok.

Diana shrewdly announced that Luca was too fussy to go to church, so she would volunteer to make appetizers for afterwards. I wished I had though of that.

I laid down the rules as we entered St. Nicks. “Ok. If you’re quiet and sit still, you get…” Then I held out the box of jellybeans. Eli’s eyes lit up. We managed to get to the Hamann pew when it started. “More? Jellybeans?” As the organ started, I began feeding him jellybeans one by one. He sat there like an angel as the kids dressed as angels slumped by. I thought, “You’ve done it again, Hamann.”

Right about the time we realized this was a Spanish language mass, Eli hit the threshold of jellybean sugar in his blood. He began vibrating and buzzing and took on the irritating qualities of that one guy who snorts coke at your party. He began running headlong into the heaters, making a loud “bang!” He also announced his desire to speak with the priest. “I want to talk to the man!” He also decided at that moment to become potty trained. “I want to go pee pee in the pottyyyyyyy!”

Luckliy, Finn and Rory were engaged in battle with Steve and Pam, so Steve gave me the finger across the throat gesture and we high tailed it out of there.

Once at home, Pam, Diana and I began chugging Champaign and we let the kids loose on the presents. Star wars stuff. Art stuff. Books. I made a game decision to let Eli open one of his official Christmas day presents. The Dinosaur. The Dinosaur is actually a Matchbox car thing that really doesn’t do anything except look like a dinosaur with a couple ramps. Diana wanted me to return it because it was so lame.

But what she didn’t know is dinusaur+car=awesome. Finn and Eli began a feverous battle for it. Pushing. Crying. Yanking. Finn announced loudly that if he did not receive one from Santa the next morning there would be severe consequences.

Which was their cue to leave. Eli immediately forgot about The Dinosaur and went immediately to sleep.

Diana and I sat on our bed and listened to Luca scream and I thought, “This was the greatest Christmas Eve ever.” And I meant it.

p.s. Power To The Babies!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Look Me In The Eye


The other day, I was rocking Luca in his room during the fifteen minutes a day he’s in a bad mood. He was concentrating out into space and I wondered, “How far can this kid see?”

I was going to ask Diana, but she was engaged in imitating an obscure Pixar movie character to the delight of Elijah. I forgot about my eyesight question and fell madly in love with her all over again.

Today, I was “working from home,” which means keeping my phone vaguely within 100 yards in case there was an advertising emergency. The Chicagoland weather was crappy crappy crappy, so Diana asked me to take Luca to his one month check up.

After checking height, weight, noggin size, etc (he’s 50th percentile across the board, unlike Eli, otherwise known as Andre the Giant), the doctor asked me if I had any questions. Resisting the urge to ask about his ear hair or what percentile he is, penis-wise, I asked about his eyesight.

“Oh, he can see perfectly from short distances. So right now he can see your face.” I looked at him on the white crinkly paper and said, “Pretty handsome, aren’t I?”

She washed her hands and said, “The nurse will be in shortly for his one month shot.”

Come again? Shot? No, no no. I’m not the shot guy. I’m the jokey guy.

But the nurse came in and told me to hold Luca. As the shot was administered, he looked me right in the eye and could see me perfectly. Here’s a rundown of his expressions:

1. Hey, I know that guy. He’s the one with the beard.
2. That feels cold.
3. That feels like a giant needle being thrust into my leg.
4. You, sir, are a son of a bitch.

And then he proceeded to cry hysterically. Heaving, hiccupping, elephant tears. The works. All they while, looking at me with perfect eyesight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baby Straight Jacket and The Two Stooges


Luca has been putting in some serious sleep at night. 4 hours is a ton for a 3 ½ week old. We’re not ready to proclaim him Best Baby In The World just yet, but he’s in the running.

But even though he’s taking it easy on us, Diana still doesn’t get a full night’s sleep during the week. So we’ve decided that I’ll take the overnight shift on Saturday nights. While I am far less neurotic than I was with Elijah, I still like to take certain precautions.

Namely, the Baby Straight Jacket. Some people refer to it as “Swaddling” or the “Baby Burrito.” I’m not a big fan of calling it Baby Burrito. Yeah, inside is warm and farty, but it seems like an insult to my son to dress him in something that college students eat to prevent hangovers. I prefer the even less flattering reference to my son being a lunatic, The Baby Straight Jacket.

For you non-parents, The Baby Straight Jacket is basically wrapping a baby tightly in a blanket, pinning their arms against their body. This is to prevent them from involuntarily punching themselves in the face while they sleep. Oddly, it’s comforting to the babies not to punch themselves in the face.

We’ve found that Luca actually prefers to keep one arm out of the Straight Jacket. He holds his arm over his head, fist clenched, giving him a look of the cross between Superman and a member of The Black Panthers.

We also prefer to Baby Straight Jacket him in stolen hospital blankets. There is just something about hospital blankets. They’re the right size and right material for perfect Straight Jackets. No kid can escape. I don’t care if you are baby Houdini. So yes, I’ll admit it. So yes, a few blankets accidentally fell into my backpack. And by “a few,” I mean “20.” I’m not proud of it. But we’ve tried every other material known to man and none compare to hospital-grade Straight Jackets. Our pediatrician busted us with the ill-begotten blankets at our first check up. She just laughed, so I’m going to take that as permission.

Other than that, I just give him the “Moe” a few times a night. I do have a thing about airway blockage. SIDS is no joke and I wake up panicked every once and a while, wondering if Luca’s mouth and nose have been covered up in his sleep. Even if he had control of his arms, he’s in a Baby Straight Jacket. So at least once a night, I’ll creep over to his co-sleeper and feel around to make sure his nostrils are free. Since I do this in the pitch darkness, I usually end up accidentally yanking up on his nose holes with my two fingers. Remember that move Moe from The Three Stooges did? Usually to lead Larry or Curly around? I end up doing that.

I think Luca prefers when his mom does the overnight shift.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peril


Good old Elijah. I’ll give it to him, he’s smart. Very smart. Too smart?

As you recall, he’s experimenting with ways to pull attention away from Luca. From the “I love you, man” to the tantrum. Well, he’s stumbled onto something pretty genius: Peril.

When Diana sits down to breast-feed Luca, she has to be fairly stationary. There is a fair amount of gear, like her Breast Friend thing and her towels and her water and, oh yes, a three-week-old baby. So once the event starts, she has to sit until Luca is satiated. So if is definitely hard to jump up and fetch milk or apples or Curious George cartoons.

So when Diana hunkers down, Elijah will instantly attempt to get himself into some kind of life threatening situation. He’ll climb up onto, and get stuck in, Luca’s crib, or he’ll climb onto an unstable stool in the kitchen. Or he’ll play with a litter of rabid coyotes or the bear traps we keep in the den.

And then he’ll shout, “Mommy! I need heeeeelp!”

At which point, in order to keep from having to rush to the hospital, Diana will have to extract herself from the Breast Feeding Station and find the fire extinguisher or our anti-zombie spray. Which involves removing Luca from her, um, milky areas. Which results in the rare, but loud, screaming from boy #2.

Each night when I but Eli to bed, I have my nightly talk.

“Hey buddy. Mommy needs your help with Luca. He’s just a little baby and needs a lot of attention. So can you try to be good tomorrow and not get into trouble when Mommy is feeding Luca? Like not playing with the nuclear weapons we have under the sink?”

“No.”

For better or for worse, Elijah hasn’t really figured out the concept of lying yet. He delightfully admits to all his wrongdoing.

“Elijah, did you hit Grover?”

“Yes! And I kicked him. And I kicked Mommy!”

We’ll see if this honesty lasts. I somehow doubt it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disaster


Yesterday morning was the official end of my paternity leave. And when I left Diana, she had that glassy eyed look of a mommy who just pulled an all nighter with a three week old. Add to that a two year old who was still deciding whether he wanted to be Elijah or Hajile, and we had the potential for a disastrous first day back.

Luckily, December is slow for sports cars, so I scrambled out of the office and swooped home to the rescue.

On the El, I had images of our house half collapsed, half on fire. I imagined Diana hiding in the basement, shivering, while Luca rode Grover through the house like Sea Biscuit. I saw Eli, dressed in leafs and holding a conk shell, standing atop our TV demanding his 12th consecutive hour of Curious George cartoons.

I burst through the front door and shouted, “Attention! Daddy’s here! Everything is going to be ok!”

I ran into the kitchen and found the following scene:

Luca was fast asleep in his bouncy chair. Elijah was happily finished with his hunger strike and shoving fistfuls of pears into his mouth. Diana was bright-eyed, fully clothed and chatting on the phone. She was also juggling knives with her feet and playing the banjo one-handed. Okay, that last part is an exaggeration, but they were all doing fantastic.

Eli shouted, “Hey Mommy! I love you.”

Okay, I’ll admit it. I felt a little disappointed.

I asked Di if I could do anything.

“I don’t think so. We’re cool. Oh, Grover could use a walk.”

I led Grover out the back door. “At least you’d be a disaster without me,” I said. He urinated in reply.

p.s. Today’s photo is the only Luca shot I have on my phone. Which was shot at an angle that makes him look like an alien. When I show co-workers my beautiful son, they say, “Oh…he’s…cute-ish.”

I need a new shot.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It’s Alive!



Guess who finally woke up? Yep. Luca decided sleeping 22 hours a day wasn’t for him. Fortunately, he didn’t wake up very angry. He doesn’t really cry that much. Unless you put him down.

Luca wants to be held by his mommy. All the time. If you set him down while he’s asleep and he wakes up not in her arms, watch out. It sounds like stepping on a cat’s tail. With cement shoes.

I can understand. Look at his alternatives.

A chair that swings so hard he is constantly in danger of being pitched across the living room and into our faux fireplace.

A bouncy seat with a demented, dangling plastic lion and his equally evil plastic elephant. I imagine he believes they speak to him. “Sure. Go ahead. Fall asleep, Luca. I hope you don’t mind us biting your toes while you rest…”

And then there’s the floor. I can’t imagine why he doesn’t want to lay on the floor. A surface covered with Grover leavings and 2 ½ years of Elijah goo. Maybe he wouldn’t fuss so much if we gave him a HAZMAT suit.

So, yes. Along with trying to get Eli to eat (his latest attempt at attention getting is a hunger strike), Diana has to cart around Luca. She has taken to wearing her “Breast Friend” tutu all the time. It has a little ledge she can plop Luca. He just lays there observing all he rules like a miniature Cleopatra.

My paternity leave ended and I’m back at work. Last night, Luca sensed this and decided he would institute a no sleep rule for Sunday nights. Again, he didn’t really howl. He just scratched around and “Meh-ed” all night. Diana, bless her, attempted to let me sleep and deal with the night owl.

This morning while I was getting Eli his soon to be uneaten breakfast, I noticed Diana is starting to get that 1,000 yard stare Vietnam vets got when they had to go back into country.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eli Vs. Sweet Potatoes



irst, a Luca update. He’s awesome. He’s so mellow and sleepy, the other night at 4am I actually Googled “Can a baby sleep too much?” The answer is no. So we’re going to let him sleep until he decides to hate us. Eighteen years seems about right.

One of the greatest things about having a baby is the food. I don’t know who created the tradition of bringing food over to new parents, but our friends and family won’t be satisfied until Diana and I are 300 pounds.

Wednesday night, out of the blue, our super nice neighbor across the street who we have said fourteen words to in our 3 years at the house, showed up with a full meal. She offered to watch Luca while we ate, but we refused. Not out of politeness. We were afraid of what she brought. Was it Hamster Thermidor? Was it Toe Nails Three Ways? So after some Luca holding (he didn’t make a peep), she scooted out the door and we nervously peered under the aluminum foil.

Chicken and stuffing and mashed sweet potatoes. And to top it off, chocolate chip cupcakes. Awesome. We wolfed it down like savages. After we stopped panting, we noticed Elijah hadn’t touched his meal. Since he hadn’t also taken a nap, we knew we were in for trouble.

“I want a cupcake.”

Hmm. Interesting. Eli hates sweets. And we told him so. “You hate sweets.”

“I want a cupcake.”

The light bulb went off. It was time to introduce him to the concept of food compromise. Parents and kids have been trading bites for sweets since the introduction of Hamster Thermidor.

“Eat a bite of sweet potato and you can have a cupcake.”

Thus began a ridiculous fight that lasted waaaay longer than necessary. Eli shouted “No! I want a cupcake” about a thousand times. We chased him around with a plastic spoon filled with coagulated sweet potato repeating, “Just one bite…just one bite..then cupcake.”

Remember, Eli hates sweets. So if we had “won,” and he had indeed eaten the spoonful of sweet potato, he would’ve barfed from the cupcake.

So Eli ended up in hysterics and going to bed without a real dinner, and the last thing he said was, “I want to eat sweet potato.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pee Poo Pee


Last evening, I attempted to give Diana one half of an hour of peace without any men. This was no small feat. So I created the following game.

I positioned Elijah on our bed. Next, I put Luca in a bouncy seat about two and a half feet away from the bed. Finally, I put Grover in Eli’s room across the hall. And here is a typical round.

Step one. Smash Eli in the face with a pillow. Hard enough that he falls on the bed.

Step two. Run across the room, stopping at Luca’s bouncy seat and gently kick it to get it rocking.

Step three. Grab a rotten dog toy and toss it down the stairs. Grover crashes down after it.

Step four. Run back to the bed, where Eli has recovered and start round 2.

This created a perpetual motion machine of laughing, falling and bouncing that remarkably kept all three, well all four, Hamann men occupied long enough for Diana to get caught up on her phone calls and emails.

About halfway through, I said to Eli, “This is fun!”

He responded, “Yeah!”

I said, “What should we call this game?”

“Pee poo pee!”

Of course. I am in the process of lining up a professional Pee Poo Pee league. But it’s hard to round up enough men, babies, two year olds and dogs. So far, all I have is Barry Bonds and Rin Tin Tin.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stare Hard


The blog serves many purposes. For instance, evidence for later in life “Uh, no you cannot borrow the car. You peed on me in 2009.”

But it also gives us a very inaccurate calendar of when we can expect things to happen with Luca. For instance, according to Elijah, we’re at the stage where he finally woke up. And woke up angry. Very angry. So it is with more than a little trepidation that we expect Luca to realize he hates being outside the womb any minute.

But here’s the thing. He’s awake a lot right now. His eyes are open and he’s alert. But he doesn’t cry. He just calmly stares. And stares. And stares.

It’s more than a little disconcerting. Mostly because he has really dark eyeballs. He looks a little like those kids from the movie “Village of the Damned.” The one with the glowing eyed mind control children. Have you ever seen that movie? Me neither.

Sometimes, when he’s half awake, he stares at you with one eye open and the other eye tightly closed. Which makes him more of a mind control Popeye. “Givesk me some spinach!”

The only bummer is Luca has his days and nights mixed up. So he spends his nights wide awake. And staring. He doesn’t really cry. He just “meh’s.” He’ll spend hours and hours just going, “Meh….meh…meh…”

Aaand I just took a 45 minute break from writing. Luca was crying and wouldn’t allow me to put him down. So the blog also serves as on official jinxer.

p.s. Luca had his 1st bath. Hated it!

p.s.s. Luca already peed on me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Love You Man


Before I left for Paternity leave, work lunch conversation turned to sibling rivalry. It seems as though every person at my table had been almost murdered by their older brother or sister when they were born. There were attempted smotherings. There were attempted drownings. I think one kid pushed his brother out of an airplane.

So I was a wee bit concerned about Elijah’s mental state when Luca came home. Let’s face it. Eli received 110% of our attention for 2 ½ years. We don’t do board games. We don’t watch “Mad Men.” We don’t paint. Our hobby was adoring our first born. I had visions of Eli constructing a crude guillotine in our basement.

I’ve said it before, Eli is doing great at being knocked down to #2 on Billboard’s Top 100. But he still craves attention. Over the last week he’s been experimenting with different modes of acquiring our eyeballs.

Crying. Everything from faux injuries to not having his towel properly draped over his shoulders is an excuse for the water works. At minimum, he gets a hug and a kiss. But he’s a terrible actor, so when he’s really chewing the scenery we’ll let him complete his performance on his own.

Screaming Tantrum. He rarely uses this technique. Eli only breaks out the “Li’l Bastard” kit when he’s used all his other options. The only real bummer is he tends to use this technique when we’re at Target and I haven’t had my coffee. So then I break out my “World’s Worst Dad” kit and start yelling. I think this year’s Christmas Card is a photo of my and Eli playing tug of war with a plastic bunny rabbit.

I Love You Man. Now this, this is the best. It goes as follows. I’ll be cooking or trying to climb on top of the massive pile of garbage inhabiting our living room when Eli will say, “Hey Daddy. Hey Daddy. Hey Daddy.”

I’ll respond as all dads in the world do, “Yo! Talk to me, Goose.”

“I love you.”

At which point the heavens open, the choir starts in and they drag that big harp into our house. I immediately hit “Toys R Us” on speed dial and say, “Send me over one of everything.”

And the funny thing is, I fall for it every time. You’d think after the 100th “Hey Daddy. Hey Daddy” I’d know what was coming next. But I’m always knocked out when he says it.

p.s. Those things on his ears are from Diana’s breast pump. Don’t tell him.

p.s.s. A quick Luca thing. He poops like clockwork when you feed him. You know you are just about done with the bottle when you hear the telltale “pop.” He poops with such ferocity that he surprises himself and his arms flail. Pop!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Belly Button 2


This morning, we realized Luca’s little belly button thing fell off.

Whereas with boy #1, we would’ve taken pictures of the brown chunk and bronzed the brown chunk and written a folk song about the brown chunk. Instead, we just chucked brown chunk #2 into the trash.

Baby 2 Syndrome.

I’m going to fight baby 2 Syndrome and attempt to obsess over the tiny details as much as possible like I did with a certain future neurotic. But it’s hard. I’m sure Columbus had a hard time getting excited about the new world on trip #2.

“Ohh, spices and indigenous people I can exploit. Whoopee.”

But Luca is his own man. That ear hair thing, for example. And, I am noticing he is starting to lose that black hair of his. So instead of looking like George Bush, like Elijah, he’s starting to look a lot like character actor, Stanley Tucci.

He also is much better on the whole breast feeding front. Eli never really got the hang of it. To which my dad said, “He must be a leg man.” But Luca can’t go fifteen minutes without requesting his favorite place on earth, the circular breast feeding pillow with the greatest product name in the world, “The Breast Friend.” Elijah refers to it as the tutu and wears it for he four minutes per day Diana doesn’t have it on.

We’ve had to enact a Rick friend ban on the house because it constantly looks like a 14-year old’s dream come true in our living room with all the exposed Diana parts.

Also, Luca’s either a lot more mellow or we are. It’s partly because we don’t treat him like he was made out of snowflakes like we did with Eli.

But he hasn’t officially woken up yet, so I’m still holding out hope for a bottle tossed across the kitchen episode again.

But I did manage to shout at Elijah in Target this morning, “Eli! Stop screaming! Daddy has to talk on the phone to uncle Steve about Star Wars!”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Swap


The one on one parenting (I’m not using “Man To Man” anymore because it’s probably copyrighted and I can’t afford to get sued) is working out great. For me. For one, I get to spend all day every day with the greatest two and a half year old in the world. For two, the greatest two and a half year old in the word sleeps twelve hours every night.

So when I get emails saying, “Oh man. I feel for you. It must be hard.” I think, “Yeah. I think I’m getting bed sores.”

That leaves Diana and Luca to duke it out every night downstairs in the Luca Suite. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it, but for the first month or two we’re sleeping in separate rooms. Diana, downstairs with easier access to the bathroom and baby gear and me upstairs with easier access to our comfortable bed.

Fortunately, Luca’s still in his sleepy stage, so he mostly chirps when he’s hungry instead of screams. But he’s only 8 days old. So he needs to eat every 2 hours.

Diana has been doing great, but the lack of sleep is starting to wear on her. So last night, she suggested we swap duties. She’d take Elijah (sleep) and I’d take Luca.

I scrambled. “Well…well you have to feed him breast milk. I don’t have breast milk.”

“I pumped. You have enough for the night.”

“Well…well Eli specifically asked for me.”

(To Eli) “Do you want mommy or daddy to wake up with you tomorrow?”

“Mommy.”

Traitor. I actually wasn’t too bummed out about it. I don’t think I’ve been having the true infant experience as of yet. The prospect of a sleepless night somehow felt authentic.

At 11pm, I set out the bottles and pacifiers and wipes and TV remote (I was planning on catching up on the in-trouble Obama administration as reported by “The Daily Show.” Then I laid down in the Luca Suite.

I immediately started to write today’s blog in my head. “Sharing a room with Luca is like trying to sleep with a hamster…”

But then I heard crying from upstairs. Really hard crying. I ran upstairs and saw Diana comforting Eli. And then the smell hit me. Puke.

Apparently, when last night’s recipe called for “medium rare steak,” I misread it as “medium rancid steak.” While Diana and my wine-lined stomachs could handle it, Eli got a case of the barfs.

So every two hours when I woke up to feed a contented, barely meowing Luca, I could hear Eli upstairs working out the devil. And poor Diana comforting him. She got less sleep than I did.

We’re going to try it again tonight in the vain hope Diana will get an actual night sleep. Although I assume Eli will come down with 24 hour Chicken Pox.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ears



Diana is lovely. Ask anyone who still harbors a crush on her from her Phish tour days. She just has good genetics. So image her disappointment at birthing boy #1 who, while beautiful beyond belief, has a full head of blonde hair and bright blue eyes. People on the street still think she’s Elijah’s nanny.

I think she secretly hoped this time Luca would at least have a passing resemblance. But if you look at almost every child born to a Hamann in the last 100 years, her odds are stacked blondly and blue eyedly against her.

The heavens smiled on her because boy #2 is a raven haired beauty like his mommy. And while he has the newborn blue eyes, they do look mighty dark.

But, unfortunately for Luca, he inherited something terrible from me.

Ear hair.

His ears are covered in thick, black fur. In fact, his ears look more like Grover’s than anyone else in the family. But I highly doubt Grover had anything to do with Luca. Let’s face it. Given Grover’s obsession with me, I’m thinking he bats for the other team.

And if you look closely, you’ll see he doesn’t exactly have eyebrows. It’s as if the good Lord got a little mixed up on where the eyebrows go and accidentally attached them to Luca’s Dumbos.

Our doctor says that the ears will lose their fur soon. But in case it doesn’t, I’ve been researching baby ear waxing. I couldn’t find anything on Google. But they did recommend a couple great places to get his ears pierced.

Well, it’s been seven days and I’ve written the first blog that will make Luca hate my guts when he reads it later in life. I’m a little behind schedule.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Man To Man


One of my funny dad friends, for lack of actually remembering let’s just say it was Max and Mile’s Matt, described the arrival of baby #2 in basketball terms. It’s best to use man to man defense. When baby #3 comes (when Hell freezes over) you go to zone D.

Since my breast milk hasn’t come in yet, Diana has decided to take Luca. I’m taking Elijah. While he’s faster than me, I’m still tall enough to block his jump shot.

Diana actually sleeps downstairs with Luca and I sleep upstairs with Eli. Did I mention Diana is the most wonderful person in the world?

A word on how Eli is dealing. Pretty darn well for someone who just experienced a coup d’etat. He’s dubbed himself the Official Person Who Announced When The Baby Is Crying.

So it’s up to me to entertain Eli while his mom is otherwise engaged. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Diana is amazing. I don’t know how she was able to entertain this kid for the last 2 ½ years. Eli has the attention span of a gnat. There’s a part of me, 99% of me, who is tempted to turn on the TV at 7am, plop Eli in front of it, and go hide in the basement for the next 12 hours.

Yesterday, I decided to take Elijah on the subway for entertainment. Yes, that mode of transportation that I loath for two hours every week day. But he loves trains and for a $3 investment I could guarantee he couldn’t escape unless he overpowered the conductor.

He was mesmerized. Looking at it through his eyes, it was kind of awesome. There were germs. There were stinky people. There was a lot of weird noises. There were doors that opened and closed by magic. There was a lady yelling into her phone. What more could a two year old want?

CUT to several hours later after Eli went to bed. Luca is currently famished all the time. So Diana unfortunately has turned into some kind of half woman, half baby. Last night, there was a rare five minutes when Luca wasn’t attached to her and a little fussy.

So I attempted to occupy him for a half hour so Diana could sleep. I looked at old blog entries and remembered the old “Walk Around The Room In A Figure 8” trick. I turned on the TV and found the groove I had worn into the ground from Eli.

Richar Pryor’s “Live At The Sunset Strip” was on. I spent a half hour laughing myself silly while Luca peered into the darkness. Suddenly, I snapped off the TV. I realized that over the course of that half hour Luca had heard every single swear word in the English language.

I’m terrific.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Frat House




About a week before Luca was born, I conducted a test of the emergency baby system. I called Steve at about 8:30 to see how fast he’d respond. But also to see if he wanted to get a beer.

No answer. The message I left was, “This is a test of the emergency baby system. You failed.”

However, Steve answered on the first ring when it was really Luca Time. And he basically offered to watch Elijah for the foreseeable future, including taking him to his in-laws for Thanksgiving. He also promised to bring along his favorite person in the world, cousin Finn. He saves his magic for game time. Practice is for bench players.

After the blessed event Wednesday night, Luca was exhausted and expected to sleep for 24 hours. And the hospital began pumping Diana full of Magnesium Sulfate (Or is it Sulfite? Weigh in, Jolene Hamann) for her Preeclampsia. Mag Sulfate (ite) is essentially a neurological inhibiter. Which essentially causes the symptoms of being at a Grateful Dead concert without the ability to do that dance where you swing your arms over your head. She was knocked out.

Given the choice between watching Diana become “The Walrus,” or going home for my last night of sleep, I chose sleep.

It was 11pm when I unlocked the front door. It looked as though a bomb went off in the living room. There were toddler clothes everywhere. Macaroni and Cheese was caked on every surface and a donkey was tied to the radiator in the kitchen.

Yet, all the beer cans were neatly stacked in the recycling bin.

Any worry I had that Eli would be sad while we were gone disappeared immediately. His uncle Steve knew how to show a good time.

The next morning, Finn woke me up and forced me upstairs to release Eli from his crib tent. Eli ran right past my outstretched arms and continued his fierce laser gun battle with his favorite person in the world.

Attached are photographs of Eli and Luca at almost the exact same time on Earth. Can you tell who is who? Eli’s the one who will refuse to take a nap 2 ½ years later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Luca!



Introducing Luca James Hamann! Seven pounds, nine ounces. Oh yeah, and that photo of Diana? It’s the AFTER picture.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start this story right. By talking about me. I was at work yesterday trying to tie up loose ends on a big pitch. I was getting ready to write a whole bunch of scripts when Diana called.

“Come on home. I have Preeclampsia again.”

For those of you who are new to HamannEggs, Preeclampsia is a semi-dangerous blood pressure condition that requires quick getting out of the baby. Di had it with Elijah and it resulted in a pretty nasty labor plus some major side effects from the Preeclampsia drugs.

I took a cab home and found Steve already at our house for Eli duty while Diana was upstairs packing. I was feeling good. I’d been through this before. I bent down and tried to explain the situation to Eli. He simply said, “Please come with me.” My heart immediately ripped in two.

Then Grover ripped my heart into fourths by looking at me and whimpering.

Diana casually walked down the stairs and said, “My doctor forbade me from coming home because Preeclampsia gives you seizures.”

I’d had enough of people trying to give me a panic attack and guided Di to the car.

The doctors were not terribly concerned with Diana’s blood pressure, but got the labor ball rolling with some drugs. They inquired about if and when Diana would like drugs for the pain. We explained that with Eli, they screwed up the epidural and Diana experienced labor like Scarlett O’Hara. She would be taking the drugs, thank you very much.

The delightfully nerdy Anesthesiologist arrived and proceeded to make Diana’s back look like a piece of Swiss Cheese attempting to get it right. We appreciated his perfectionism, but watching him attempt to yank Di’s spine out (in my mind) made the outer edges of my vision get mighty fuzzy. I thought passing out before the labor really began would make for good blog material, but I opted for staring intently at the wall clock until it was over.

Di, of course, repeated over and over, “It’s…better…than…the…alternative.”

I went back to writing my scripts. Oh yeah, I was writing scripts in the delivery room. I’m not sure if that makes me really dedicated or sick. I’m going with sick.

At about 7:15pm, Diana got really uncomfortable. Really. Uncomfortable.

She called for the nurses. I asked, “Hey, have they checked your, you know, gear down there?” Di thought for a moment. No, they had not, in fact, checked her since we arrived 8 hours earlier.

Look, Labor and Delivery nurses don’t come down to my advertising agency and tell me how to wear short sleeve t-shirts over long sleeve t-shirts. But Diana was at the point where she was about to yank the bed railing out for use as a weapon.

So they took a look.

Go time.

I’m not kidding here people, it took longer for me to get to this point in the blog entry than it took Diana to get Luca out. As the nurses cleaned up my beautiful, beautiful son, there was a little bit of a “that was it?” feeling in the room. Hence, the photo.

Diana was so awesome, so unfazed by the whole thing that she got into a really deep conversation with the doctor about her placenta. And then took a picture of it. If you want to come over and take a look at the photo, be my guest.

I love that woman. I love my son. Happy birthday, little guy.

More later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's time

We're leaving for the hospital right now. Keep your fingers crossed. It's about to get twice as hilarious around here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Punchy


I’m not much of a fighter. Aside from a couple drunken brawls in college, I haven’t raised my fists in anger in my adult life. However, I’ve been a black belt in the ancient martial art of “Withering Sarcastic Comment” for quite a while.

So imagine my surprise at learning that Elijah has been doing a bit of the punching and the kicking lately. I asked him how his day was last Thursday night and he proudly exclaimed, “I kicked Finn!”

Much like trying to explain to a dog why he shouldn’t defecate in the house hours after the act, I sat him down and, “We don’t hit or kick, buddy. It’s not nice to hit and kick. We’re nice guys.”

He responded from planet Mars, “Okay.”

I said, “Why did you kick your favorite person in the world, Finn?”

“I wanted him to move.”

“Couldn’t you just tell him to move?”

“I also hit Mommy. And I kicked Grover!”

I suddenly felt left out that I had yet to be the object of baby violence.

I need to lay down some hard core discipline. But I’m not really sure what to do about it if I don’t catch him in the act. And of course he has been an absolute angel all day today.

So I’ve been trying to get on his nerves. You know. Yanking toys out of his hands, poking him in the chest. Making fun of his favorite sports team. Telling him Curious George is his evolutionary relative. But no go.

He simply says, “I want to dance!”

p.s. Here is a photo of his victim. He clearly had it coming.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CHART O BOT


I came home the other night and was greeted by the usual greatest greeting in the world, the shrieks of my boy, the agitated leaping of my dog, and the far less crazy, but equally delightful kiss from my wife.

Elijah began chattering about robots. Not knowing what in blazes he was talking about, I asked the translator.

Diana said, “We made a robot suit out of a cardboard box today.”

I was overcome with love for my wife. As a card-carrying nerd, I am hopeful Eli will follow in my footsteps as a marching band/Star Wars dork. Ask Bill Gates if he prefers being a nerd to a jock. He’ll more than likely throw a stack of thousand dollar bills at your head.

Diana, on the other hand, would prefer our son to be football star/prom king. That’s because she, unlike me, was part of the prom court and knows the benefits. The benefits being telling your non-prom court husband you were in the prom court. Do I sound bitter?

Anyhoo, Diana helped Eli make a robot out of a big old cardboard box. He put it on and did a series of beeps and boops.

I took a closer look at the robot box (I’ve attached a photo for your review) Along side an Eli-drawn series of scribbles, which I assume were meant to be wires, was Diana’s rendition of…a bar graph.

A bar graph?

What kind of Robot has a bar graph? Was he supposed to be the POWERPOINT 2000?

“SALES FIGURES DO NOT COMPUTE. WARNING! WARNING! 2009 PROJECTIONS LOOKING GREY…”

I guess I can’t expect the prom queen to know robots need, at minimum, metal pinchers, a couple laser guns and an “evil/not evil” switch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Butcher


We’ve been slowly but surely preparing for the arrival of Bruce. You know, nailing up plywood over the windows, surrounding our house with sandbags, stockpiling Pinot Noir. The usual.

Last weekend, we decided everyone in the house needed a haircut. We didn’t want to look like the Manson Family six months from now. So Diana headed off to her fancy salon, I went to my $13 haircut chain and then I took Elijah to his kids haircut joint.

After countless commercials showing kids crying while getting their hair cut, I was a little nervous. But Eli was happily chirping in his car seat, so I was already ahead of the game.

We arrived at the shopping plaza and found the Kid Cuttery. I was instantly impressed. Each station had a boat or a Humvee or an airplane for the kid to sit in. Plus, there were TVs everywhere playing Elmo or Disney’s “Sexually Charged Teens.”

We had a few minutes before Yolanda, Eli’s hair cutter, was ready. So we explored the salon. I started to notice that everything had a thin layer of baby goo mixed with tiny hairs. My skin started to crawl. We had turned away from Evanston’s overrun H1N1 inoculation line earlier in the day. I could almost see the tiny, fuzzy green germs waiting for a chance to hitch a ride home with us. I grabbed Eli and hissed, “Stay away from us,” loudly enough to get the attention of the owner.

Finally, Yolanda was ready. Eli climbed into her pick up truck chair and she invited us to pick a DVD from the shelf for Eli to watch. I grabbed an Elmo movie, which was covered in hair, and held it by my fingertips.

While Eli was entranced by the skipping, stuttering movie, Yolanda asked what we wanted.

“His mother wants him to have a ‘surfer’ look. But I’m thinking something a bit more ‘Mayberry.’ High and tight.”

Yolanda looked at me concerned. “You should do what your wife says.”

I said, “Hey. I’m the one paying double what I spent on my own haircut. Get to work.”

Yolanda finished up and spun him around for my review.

“The bangs are too long. Hit him again.”

Yolanda said, “Your wife is going to make you sleep in the doghouse.”

“Hit him.”

After she chopped him, I realized I may have been a little hasty. He now looks like a little Dutch Boy mixed with Jim Carrey’s character from “Dumb and Dumber.”

Diana forgave me. But she’ll be shaving my head this afternoon as retaliation.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adventure!


Now that Diana is nearly incapacitated with son #2 (Bruce) in her belly, she is finding it harder and harder to keep up with our constantly on the run son #1. Elijah got away from her the other day in front of the grocery store and by the time she caught up with him he had almost gotten inside a Northwestern University dormitory.

Now, while that would make a great concept for an 80’s movie “30 Drunken Men and a Baby,” chasing Eli wasn’t Diana’s idea of fun.

So this weekend, the first one I haven’t been at work at since the Clinton Administration, I decided to attempt to give Diana some “Mommy Time.” I tried to describe the concept to Elijah.

“We’re going to leave Mommy alone so she can read her books an play on the computer.” Which only made Eli want to read books with his mommy and play on the computer.

So I used another tactic. “Let’s go on an adventure!”

Eli became much more excited about that prospect. We left our house and said the only rule was Eli got to decide where we went. I followed him down the street with Grover. He decided his idea of adventure was yanking on our neighbors’ front doors. I began to worry he’d actually find an unlocked door, and possible a shotgun toting paranoid inside, so I established our only rule of adventure: No breaking and entering.

At the end of our block, we discovered a couple arguing in their front yard. They had made the mistake of buying a massive oak dining room table, but opted out of paying for movers.

I whispered to Eli, “Should we rescue them as part of our adventure?” He ran up to the couple and began pounding on their table. They seemed confused why a 2 year old had suddenly entered their argument, but also pleased that he was articulating their frustration.

I offered to help them move the table. The couple had that look of, “How much is this bearded weirdo going to charge us?” I explained that we were having an adventure and were looking for good deeds. The only payment was to hold onto Grover’s leash and keep my son from moving into a dorm.

I placed myself at one end of the table and hoisted along with the husband. As I heard my vertebrae fuse, I realized I should have made an adventure rule about helping people with 1,000lb furniture.

I exited the house, hunched over, to find Eli running around their front yard and the wife attempting to comfort Grover, who was whining at my lack of being in his eyesight.

We finished our adventure by observing the Christmas House. A house down the street that has no less than 20 of those massive blow up decorations. The constant drain of their electricity was causing repeated fuse blows, and repeated deflation/re-inflation of the decorations.

It held Eli’s attention while I lay on the cement trying to realign my back.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Money


I’ve been putting in some awesome hours at work this past week, so I haven’t had a lot of Elijah time. I tend to race home in order to make it through the door at 7:45. Which gives me fifteen full minutes to whip my son up into a fevered frenzy before he has to go to bed.

The other night I got home and Eli attacked me (naked) when I got to the top of the stairs.

“I want money!”

I looked in my pockets and found a few pennies. I handed them to Eli.

“No! I want money!”

“What, do you want a check?”

Diana clarified, “He wants you to do ‘One for the Money.’”

Now, for those of you who aren’t two and a half and live in our house, “One for the Money” involves swinging Eli over our bed four times while saying, “One for the money! Two for the show! Three to get ready! And go!”

And then you toss him onto the bed, hoping he will not land on his head, or land on our headboard. Or land on the floor.

He prefers when I do “One For The Money” because I have less regard for his safety than Diana. Eli ended up on my bedside table a few weeks ago, but laughed like a hyena.

Given the fact that he is a good thirty pounds, it’s quite a workout. And since my schedule doesn’t allow eating, let alone going to the gym, I will do “One for the Money” as many times as my muscles will allow.

Diana, on the other hand, is currently carrying around another person. So her ability to accomplish multiple “One for the Moneys” is severely limited.

Yesterday, Eli was bugging her. “I want money! I want money.”

Diana said, “I’m sorry, honey. Mommy’s back hurts. I can’t do ‘One for the Money.’”

Eli looked at her cross and said, “You back is fine. I want money.”

It’s the root of all evil.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Firefighters


Elijah figured out a long time ago that when he gets a boo boo, his mom and dad will come running and kiss him. So we’ve entered a stage of “The Phantom Boo Boo.” He’ll call from the other room, “Ow! Ow! Mommy!” And when you run into the room he sheepishly says, “I got an owie on my finger.” Upon examination of the finger, at most you’ll find a slight discoloration.

Well, Eli has gotten tired of our less than enthusiastic responses to his Phantom Boo Boos. So he recently decided to enlist the help of the Evanston Fire Department. When he gets a Phantom Boo Boo, he’ll shout, “Mommy! Call the Firefighters! I need a Band-Aid!”

And now Eli has expanded The Evanston Fire Department’s role.

“Mommy! I need milk! Call the Firefighters!”

“Mommy! I have a poopie diaper! Call the Firefighters!”

“Mommy! I can’t find my car! Call the Firefighters!”

Diana has taken to pretending to call the Fire Department to pass along the requests.

“Hello? Firefighters? Can you bring Eli an apple juice? And can you bring me a Chai Late?”

Eli added, “And bring me some pink ice cream.”

And before Diana pretended to hang up he added, “And bring daddy some wine!”

Now that would be tax dollars at work.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009





Evanston city rules allow trick or treating from 4-7pm. Steve’s family arrived at 4pm on the dot, Finn dressed as a Star Wars guy and Rory dressed as an angry giraffe. Diana opened the wine and we put Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on a constant loop. Then we waited for the trick or treaters.

And we waited. And we waited.

After nearly an hour with no visitors, we decided to take the boys for their first official trick or treat outing. Now, through children’s books and intense one on one training, I had been coaching Elijah on how to trick or treat. Ring the bell. Say your line. Get the candy. Say thank you.

So we tried it out on our neighbors’ house. Ring. No answer.

Next house. Ring. No answer.

Next house. Ring. Answer! Eli and Finn shouted, “Trick or treat!”

“Sorry kids. I’m not giving out candy this year.”

Eli looked at me as if to say, “Way to build it up, old man. I crammed into a stinky monkey costume for this?”

Luckily, around the corner, we saw a house totally decked out for Halloween. Complete with scary music piping out of the windows. Jackpot.

We approached and the owner of the house said, “Head into the foyer. Candy is on the table.”

I knew this joke. Kid goes into the garbage bag lined foyer. Kid grabs candy. Masked dude leaps out. Kids scream. Parents purchase nightlights in bulk.

The boys wandered into the foyer, oblivious. I loudly announced, “We have a two year old and a four year old here, people!” I turned to see a guy dressed as “Jason” hiding behind the door. He very politely explained his blood stained intention not to scare our kids. His zombie with its skin half off co-conspirator leaned in from the window and said, “Have a great night, kids!”

After a few more successes on the next block, we went home and commenced the Halloween dance party. Star Wars Guy, The Man In The Yellow Hat, Curious George and Angry Giraffe danced the night away to “Thriller” over and over. While Grover, dressed as a humping dog, humped me ferociously.

In case you’re wondering. Diana, Steve and Pam went as a film crew for Halloween. They taped every hump for future use for when I run for office.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Celebrity


I suited up in my yellow felt jumpsuit, crammed Elijah into his monkey gear and put on Curious George on the TV as inspiration. I applied my giant yellow hat and headed out to the car for our big pre school Halloween party. As I put the car into gear, I realized I had no idea where Eli’s school actually was.

After a series of concentric circles, we stumbled upon the school. The parking lot was filled with uncostumed parents dragging various Darth Vaders and Princesses and Spider Men towards the door. My felt jumpsuit suddenly felt very, very warm. A dude in an SUV gave me the “thumbs up” as he drove past and I remembered why I was there. For the boy.

We walked into the activity room in the YMCA basement and felt 30 pairs of eyes fall upon us. It suddenly dawned on me. For the under five set, Curious George and The Man In The Yellow Hat are massive celebrities. Bigger than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the rest of the People Magazine Top 10 combined.

The kids, and strangely the adults, began shouting, “George! George! Man In The Yellow Hat!" Cameras flashed. A little girl in a Tigger costume ran over and yanked hard enough at my costume that I instantly regretted not wearing sweat pants under the yellow felt.

Eli’s eyes got as big as saucers and moaned, “I wanna go home…” Celebrity did not sit well with him at all. The only way I could convince him to stay was pouring apple juice down his throat. But we spent a good part of the beginning of the party in the darkened room adjacent to the party.

Eli eventually warmed up to the idea of celebrity and we’d do a circle around the tables and refill his juice glass. He would mildly wave at his adoring fans as I acted as body guard.

At the point I was fairly sure the next glass of juice would result in vomit, I packed him up and headed home. I allowed him the forbidden request of watching another episode of Curious George before he went to sleep. Celebrities don’t have to follow rules

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chomp


The whole inspiration for writing this blog was Neal Pollack’s book, “Alternadad.” It’s the story of a somewhat obnoxious hipster raising a “cool” son. The story crescendos with his son, Elijah (natch), having trouble at pre-school because he bites the other kids.

It brings to light by basic concern with our Elijah and pre school. When he’s at our house, he’s an absolute angel. He’s funny and cute and sings songs by himself in his crib. But when he’s out of our sight, is he a jerk? Is he secretly living a double life? Biter by day, great kid by night?

Well, thankfully we’ve discovered over the last few weeks that Eli isn’t the kid who bites at school. He’s the kid who gets bitten.

Diana got an incident report from the school last week. Apparently, a boy in his class was angry that Eli wouldn’t give up a plastic thing and took a bite out of crime. I won’t reveal the boy’s name for fear of getting sued. Let’s just call him “Jerkface Biting Jerk III.”

I took a look at his back, were the bit was (who bites another kid on the back?). There was barely a mark. Just a little red half moon. But I felt a rage that, quite frankly, startled me. I was seized with a desire to seek out Jerkface Biting Jerk III and apply BBQ sauce to his back.

After telling myself boys will be boys, I wondered if I should really be doing anything. If I were a sitcom dad, I’d probably dig out my old boxing gloves and give a heartwarming lesson about self defense before the commercial break.

But I don’t have boxing gloves. And I don’t know anything about self defense. And when I probed Eli about his feelings on the subject, he proclaimed, “I’m delicious!”

So I guess I’ll do nothing and hope next week’s episode is the one where Joe Namath guest stars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BVD


A few months ago, a colleague and I were having beers when he demanded I answer a simple question, “Are you going to be a sissy and force your child to wear a bicycle helmet?”

My initial thought was, “Can I survive jumping out the window to avoid talking to this guy?”

I can kind of see his beer addled point. Overprotection is a slippery slope. One day you’re screwing in child latches on every drawer in the kitchen and the next you’re your draping son in bubble wrap.

Yes, when we were children we raced around on our bikes without helmets. And we sat two inches away from our mom’s cigarettes and hung out the window of the family station wagon and used Crisco as suntan lotion.

BUT WE KNOW NOW THOSE THINGS ARE TERRIBLE FOR YOU. It’s not overprotection when there are decades worth of data proving having a helmet on your head increases the chances you won’t have to collect your brains in a Tupperware container if you fall off your bike.

What does this have to do with anything? It has to do with painting. Lemmie explain.

As you recall, we turned our dining room into a room for Bruce Grover Hamann. Bed for mommy, crib for Bruce, hidden bottle of Jameson for daddy.

But we needed to do some painting, because we’re predicting Bruce is going to be a stickler for decorating. So we hit Home Depot for a paint run.

Apparently, some paint gives off bad fumes. The fumes are caused by something called VOC, or BVD or ADD or something. The colleague at the opening of this story would say, “Kids have been smelling paint fumes for decades. Why are you spending double on low BVD paint?” Because we can. That’s why. Talk to me when you have a kid.

So Diana asked the man behind the counter to make sure we were getting low or no BVD paint. The man looked her right in the eye and said, “All our paint is low BVD.”

So Diana spent the day painting Bruce’s room. Oh, was that because I was working? No, I was playing with Elijah that afternoon. It was because Diana believes I do a horrible job painting and it was faster for her to do it than to have me paint and then redo it all.

Once she finished, she realized the room stunk. Low BVD paint doesn’t have a smell, so it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce we got had. Now, we’re convinced Bruce is fine because I famously ate paint chips as a toddler and I turned out okayish. But it didn’t stop Diana from feeling The Rage.

She returned to Home Depot and went to the service desk. There was a nice Hispanic gentleman at the post. Diana said, “Are you the manager?”

“No Ma’am.”

“Can you get the manager? Oh, by the way, I’m PISSED. So you may want to take your coffee break.”

The nice Hispanic man ran screaming.

I wasn’t there, but I assume the managers on duty needed a serious diaper change when Di was done with them. Long story short, Home Depot gave us our money back and paid to have Bruce’s room professionally repainted. With another company’s paint.

I don’t have any photos of Diana or Bruce’s room. So just pretend Elijah is Bruce and the green tractor is BVD fumes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Steel Trap



Can you remember anything before you were five years old? I mean, I got nothing. A vague, fuzzy image of me rocking in bed and my dad looking at me like he was sizing me up for a baby straight jacket. But other than that, zip.

It’s my own lack of memory of things that happened 35 years ago that made me think babies have no ability to remember things. I thought they were like ducks. Each morning is a completely new life.

But like every other thing I think I have figured out about childhood, Elijah proves me wrong every day.

As we wind him down for bed every night, he insists on “Cuddle Cuddle,” which involves rocking him in his chair and listening as he rattles off the tiniest details of things that happened months ago like a baby savant.

A few days ago he asked me to list the animals at the Goebbert’s Farm.

“Uh…there was a pony. I remember that. I have pictures. And…um…a monkey?”

At which point he launched into an inch by inch description of the Farm, complete with how many bites it took the giraffe to consume an ice cream cone filled with feed.

So last night, I decided to use his brainpower for good.

“Elijah, mommy is great, isn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“And she’s pretty, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes. Mommy pretty.”

“Tomorrow you should tell her she’s pretty.”

“Okay.”

This morning while Diana was on the computer I asked Elijah if he remember what he was supposed to say to his mommy.

The little light went on in his head and he sprinted into the office.

“Mommy pretty. Mommy pretty.”

Yes, it was quickly discovered that Eli was coerced. But the five seconds of joy it brought Diana was worth the deception.

But at least I’m not making him fly to Las Vegas with me to count cards.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkins and Giraffes






It’s fall. Most people’s favorite time of year. The air crisps, bronzed leaves fall from the trees, and the giraffes eat ice cream cones from your hands.

As Elijah would say, “Whaaaaaat?”

Since arriving back from another European sports car odyssey, I was anxious to spend not only quality time with the family, but super Hallmark Card quality time. Where our memories would forever be seen with that fuzzy lighting they use on Cybill Shepperd.

My brother and his family invited us to Goebbert’s Farm. It’s a huge pumpkin patch in the west suburbs they visit every year. We agreed to everything but the joining my brother and his family part. Nap schedules didn’t match up.

After only one complete turnaround on the directions, we arrived at Goebbert’s. Let’s see…a beautiful Fall Sunday two weeks before Halloween. Goebbert’s would be empty, right? Yeah, think Normandy landing.

As we passed the huge wooden cut outs of every conceivable cartoon character known to man at the entrance (apparently Goebbert’s has a great copyright lawyer), it dawned on me that I was about the experience child awesomeness. And judging from the fact Eli’s head exploded before we touched a single pumpkin, I was right.

Lemmie lay down just some of the child brain melting we experienced: Pony rides, a metal pumpkin-eating dinosaur, two, count em, two giraffes, a baby tiger, pig racing, port-o potties, corn stalk mazes, a haunted house. The list goes on forever.

What 99% of the stuff we saw has to do with pumpkins, autumn, Halloween or reality, I honestly have no idea. But Elijah raced around in a frenzy that made paying $3 for an ice cream cone filled with seeds (for goats and giraffes to consume along with your finger) worth every penny.

Later that night, I attended a Wilco show with some friends of a friend. I excitedly recalled the day’s events, “And, and there was baby cow that you could pet and I think he liked me…”

The hippest of the dudes there, clad in a leather jacket and choker necklace looked me right in the eye and said, “You just gotta check your cynic at the door, man.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Curious?


It’s the middle of October, gang. And you know what that means! It’s time to officially announce Elijah’s Halloween costume!

This year, he is going as CURIOUS GEORGE!

I can feel the collective blog world saying, “Least surprising surprise ever.”

Yeah, well. What did you think he was going as, Gandhi? The kid eats, sleeps and poops Curious George. He can be in the middle of having the grandest grand tantrum on the earth and he’ll stop in mid cry to say, “(sniff sniff) Watch Curious George?”

A few weeks ago Diana called me at work and said she needed a huge favor from me. I immediately thought she was going to ask me if she could spend money on new curtains. Because I am a stereotypical dad in a 1950’s TV show.

“Um…do you think you could go to Eli’s Halloween party at school on the 28th?”

“Sure. Why is that a huge favor?”

“I was wondering if you’d dress up as The Man In The Yellow Hat.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know or forgot or lost your sense of childhood working late on advertising stuff, The Man With The Yellow Hat is Curious George’s caretaker. From what I gather from the books and TV show, he doesn’t have much of a job other than rescuing George when he almost kills himself every twenty-two minutes.

So when Di asked me if I’d dress up as the guy who keeps George from getting killed I immediately said yes.

“Well…no other parents will be dressing up.”

See, here is the thing. Roughly two and a half years ago, I decided I was never going to refuse anything to my son based on my ego. If I can make him happy by dancing naked in our living room in full view of our neighbors across the street, great. If I can make him happy by singing the ABC song as loud as I can in Jewel and getting tailed by security, fantastic.

So if I can make him happy by wearing a felt yellow hat and getting laughed at by a bunch of Evanston parents, you bet your butt I’m going to do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hide and Seek



Bad. Bad bad blogger. I’m really sorry three people who read the blog. It’s not you. It’s me. The demands of sports car performance have kept me out of the loop with the goings on in Elijah Land.

I had to work all weekend, but managed to get home last night in time to see Eli completely covered in spaghetti sauce. I invited Diana to do whatever she wanted while I took over parenting duties. Of course she chose to vacuum the house.

After bathing Eli, I took him upstairs and told him I’d play anything he wanted, thinking he’d want to play “tent,” which involves covering him with a blanket and asking, “Where’s Eli,” over and over.

He surprised me by saying, “I want to play ‘hide and seek.’” I assume this was taught at school, as well as how to sing “Wheels On The Bus” for 3 hours straight.

“Do you know how to play ‘Hide and seek?’”

“No.”

So I explained the rules to him. He seemed to get it. I put him in his room and asked him to count to five. I heard him counting and I ran into our room to hide. I turned around and found that he had followed me into the room. He immediately screamed and ran.

I followed him into his room and explained the rules of the game again. This time, I told him to run and hide and I’d count. I counted to 5 and opened my eyes. Eli was standing there and immediately screamed and ran.

Not technically “Hide and Seek,” but it was pretty hilarious.

At this point, Grover came upstairs to investigate the screaming. I tried once more to get Elijah to stay in his room and count to five. I made it to our room and hid in plain sight, right around the corner of our doorway. Grover followed me in and stood directly in front of me. Completely giving away my hiding place.

“I’m hiding. Go away. Shoo.”

Grover decided this was the perfect moment to leap on me and start humping. Elijah came in and found me in this compromising position. He screamed and ran.

I’m now worried if he actually plays “Hide and Seek” at school he’s going to ask where they keep the humping dogs.

I don’t have any photographs of us playing “Hide and Seek,” but I do have a shot of Elijah doing a great impression of a ventriloquist dummy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Poop Barf


Diana called me today and asked if I would please add a new blog post so she doesn’t have to look at Bruce Sprinsteen’s butt every time she turns on the computer. But I’ve been up to my ears in sports cars, so I’m really without good Elijah material. And as you know, my wife is a bad Eli story giver.

So I asked Diana to manufacture an Eli incident.

“Give him some matches and watch the hilarity fly!” I said.

“No. We have too many cute things to burn our house down.”

“Then. Strip him naked and throw him in the street.”

“No. I like him too much to have DCFS take him away.”

I hung up, frustrated with my Eli writer’s block. So I had to break into my vault of embarrassing and gross dad stories.

***DISCLAIMER*** This is a gross story that involves poop and barf. So if you don’t like stories of poop and barf, go read that Bruce story again.

OK. So what’s my poop and barf secret story? I barf when Eli poops. All the time. And it’s gotten worse over the last couple months. Especially now that he’s getting bigger. When I change his diaper and there is some especially icky contents, I’ll honk. It’s terrible. I can’t help it. I have a hair trigger gag reflex. Ask Grover.

Luckily, the Diaper Gene makes a terrific barf slash poop receptacle. And now that Elijah is getting good at potty training, I can usually make it to the toilet, a mere two feet away from his potty.

I am worried about how this affects Elijah. I do not want him to get a complex over his poop. So far he seems to take it well. He simply asks, “What you doing?” To which I’ll respond, “Daddy’s pretending to be a seal.”

However, last night when I got home I was changing him (a pee, thank goodness) and he asked, “Puke macaroni and cheese?” I said, “Oh no, buddy. You don’t have to puke. That’s just Daddy’s bizarre hang up.”

He seemed fine with adding that to his growing list of weird stuff Daddy does that Mommy doesn’t do.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Boss



Slowly but surely it’s dawning on Elijah that there is another baby coming who is about to ruin his life. He will point at Diana’s belly and say, “There’s a baby in there.” To which I say, “Careful. Mommy is not happy about her big belly. We do not point at Mommy’s big belly. We don’t not mention Mommy’s big belly. We do not think about Mommy’s big belly...”

He also delights in laying in the bassinette we’ve positioned in the dining room we converted into a bedroom. Which was a bedroom before we converted it into a dining room. I apologize to anyone whose head just exploded. But we’re trying to discourage him from laying in the bassinette, because I don’t think our new son will appreciate being smothered by his older brother.

Earlier today, Diana was driving Elijah to Lamb’s Farm. To look at pumpkins. I’m not sure what lambs have to do with pumpkins. Add to that Lamb’s farm is also a home for the mentally handicapped and it’s best not to try to figure it out and just keep this story moving.

Diana asked Elijah his opinion on our frontrunner first name.

Just a sec. We’ve decided not to tell anyone our potential first name anymore. Because whenever we solicit opinions, everyone just gives us their opinion like we asked. Mostly responses have been luke warm at best and downright hostile at worst. And it’s not like we’re suggesting something horrible like Hitlersatan. And since we aren’t getting the response we want, we’ve given up until it’s attached to an unbelievably cute baby. At which point people will be forced under law to say, “Oh my. He looks just like a Hitlersatan!”

Back to the car. Diana asked Elijah, “Eli, what do you think of the name (name withheld) for your new brother?”

“No.”

“You don’t like it?”

“No.”

“Well, than what name do you want?”

“Bruce.”

Bruce? Bruce? This name, aside from being completely awesome, came completely out of thin air. As far as I can tell, Eli has never met a Bruce in his life. There is no Bruce on the two TV shows he watches. His teachers are all ladies, none of them named Bruce. And there is no one at his school whose parents are gutsy enough to name a child Bruce. And I’m sorry to Mr. Springsteen, but we do not listen to his special brand of soulful New Jersey music.

Bruce. I like the ring of it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alien Abduction


A while ago, I read that psychologists think those weirdo alien abduction stories are actually repressed memories from when you are an infant. Apparently, babies’ eyesight ain’t so good right after they’re born, so when they see their moms and dads peering into their crib they look like grey blobs with big eyes and little slits of a mouth. What does this have to do with Elijah? Be patient. Sheesh. You kids and your lack of attention. I blame MTV.

Anyhoo, we’ve moved Eli back into his crib. We just couldn’t keep him in his coffin closet during the day for naps. And, if you remember from 6th grade math:

(Elijah + No Nap) = Halije

So, we needed to contain the boy. Back to the crib for him. But we were faced with another hurdle. Namely, Eli can leap over his crib railing like a hurdle.

Unfortunately, this meant dropping $100 on a crib tent. What’s a crib tent, you ask? It’s a tent that fits over the top of his crib. It actually creepily looks like a mesh oxygen tent.

Thankfully, Eli loves it. And he has been sleeping much better and we seem to have banished Halije back to The Land of Screaming Two Year Olds.

The other night, I came to bed and Diana said, “Let’s go look at our boy.” It seems every night before she goes to sleep, Diana enters Eli’s room carrying a Star Trek flash light she got from a cereal box.

Well…it’s hard to call it a “flash light.” It’s a piece of plastic shaped in a kind of “U.” I think it’s the symbol for Star Trek (I’m a Star Wars nerd, not a Star Trek nerd). But when you press a button, a red light shoots out. I think it is for killing Klingons. But Diana uses it for seeing our beautiful son’s face in the dark.

Diana says that occasionally, she’ll shoot him in the face with the red light and his eyes will be open, but he doesn’t acknowledge her. Which brings me back to paragraph #1. I think he thinks he’s about to be abducted by aliens and is paralyzed by fear.

Let’s see, one minute you are asleep dreaming about sharing a banana with Curious George, the next minute you're awake, in a creepy oxygen tent, with that alien you remember from when you were two weeks old shooting you in the face with her laser.

Yep, paralyzed by fear.

Incidentally, I had to look up the spelling of “Klingon” on the internet. I stumbled across the official Klingon language institute homepage. They have a handy phrase section.

“nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e’” means, “Where is the bathroom?”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Word From The Dog



Hey everybody! It’s me, your loveable pal Grover. I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve written. Quite frankly, I don’t really read the blog anymore. Mostly because I can’t read. But also because me and the human puppy have come to terms with each other. I’m fine with being at the bottom of our pack. And the Man feels guilty enough that I literally barfed the other night from too many treats.

But I’ve just figured something out. The Woman is ripe with another puppy. I can hear it sloshing around in her womb with my super hearing. And from what I can smell, it smells like a healthy baby boy. A delicious, delicious baby.

Anyhoo, the other night when I was putting on one of the greatest sad dog performances of my career (which resulted in the Man sneaking me a piece of chicken), I overheard the Man and the Woman talking about naming the new puppy. Meh. My suggestion, “Stinky Hairless Poop Machine Number Two,” went unnoticed.

But then my ears perked up. The Man suggested they name the puppy’s middle name after me! (First name withheld) Grover Hamann. I was so flattered. I decided then and there to stop licking the Man’s food when he wasn’t looking.

But then the Woman looked at the Man the same way she looks at me when she discovers one of my hidden poops in the basement. I could hear her blood pressure go up. And I could smell she wanted to dump the Man’s wine on his head.

Being only as smart as a two year old human, I couldn’t understand everything she said, but I could make out the words “ridiculous,” and “asinine.”

Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Besides, there is only room in this world for one Grover.

Grover out!