Thursday, January 29, 2009

Potty Step Stool

Elijah loves anything to do with the potty. Except the actual act of going in the toilet himself. He loves books about potty training. He loves to inform you about what you are about to do, what you are doing and saying goodbye to what you just did.

When his cousin Finn comes over, Eli insists on watching him go to the bathroom. To which Finn says, “Uh, ok…”

Last Saturday, Diana and I were drinking coffee in the kitchen when Eli padded by purposely. He walked up to the toilet and began removing his pants, saying, “Pee pee?”

Di and I looked at each other shocked. “Is this happening? Is he about to go pee pee in the potty?” Diana raced over and yanked down his diaper and said, “Go nuts!” It was a false alarm. He was merely practicing his one act play, “Finn Goes Pee Pee.”

But we realized we needed to step up the potty training from potty theory to potty practice. We brought up his very own tiny potty from the basement and proclaimed it his forever. Or until he has to go to college. I really don’t think he wants to explain it to his roommate.

He of course wants nothing to do with it. He views it as a nice blue step stool that allows him to access poison hidden in the bathroom cabinets.

Monday, January 26, 2009

George Monkey

I believe it goes without saying that Elijah is the epitome of cute. From his floppy mop to his obsession with elephants to his saggy diapers, he just melts your heart.

So why would I try to force a cute affectation on him? Because I am an unfit father, that’s why.

Let me back up. My friend Pat Hanna and I like to swap cute kid stories. I think it is in a secret attempt to make sure our kids aren’t seriously deranged. “Eli bangs his head on the floor when he’s really ticked. Do…do your kids do that or do I have to take him to a baby psychiatrist?”

A while ago Pat and I were talking about our Toddler’s obsessions. After acknowledging that we can’t even count Elmo anymore, Pat mentioned his daughter Noley (HamannEggs trivia, Noley is Eli’s arranged prom date) loves Curious George. But she refers to him as “George Monkey.” She constantly asks, “George Monkey? George Monkey?”

Cut to me reading books to Eli. Some friends of ours gave us a nice package of Curious George books a few weeks ago. And Eli had taken a mild interest in them. Not the kind of interest he holds for any book dealing with potty training, but interest nonetheless.

So when he points to a Curious George book I immediately say, “George Monkey? George Monkey?” I think it’s a little bit of bad parenting to purposely refer to something by the incorrect name. Like calling bananas oranges and then sending him out into the world to forever be ridiculed at the supermarket.

Thankfully, Eli usually looks at me like I’m an idiot. I imagine him sitting around with the other toddlers in “Everybody Move” class.

“My Dada calls Curious George ‘George Monkey.’ Do…do your dads do that or do I have to take him to an adult psychiatrist?”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Word From The Dog

Hey everybody! It’s me. Your loveable pal Grover. I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been busy completing my self-help book for dogs, “A Toddler In The House. Your Life Is Over.” I detail my step-by-step program to draw attention away from impossibly cute toddlers.

Here is a sample:

The Man is much more gullible to faux emotional distress than The Woman. If you come upon The Man laying on the floor next to The Competition, simply lay down heavily and sigh. I recommend trying to wedge yourself between The Man and The Competition. You also may want to put your paws over your nose and utilize the Boo Hoo Eyes (STEP 14: SAD EYES SAY SO MUCH).

This usually results in The Man having to pet you and ask what’s wrong. However in rare cases this will result in drawing the attention of The Competition. Which as we know leads to tail pulling, eye poking and the disgusting fingers in your mouth syndrome. If this happens, refer to STEP 311: SO YOU WANT TO MAUL THE BABY...

Well, you get the gist.

I’m still looking for a publisher. Not being able to speak human does slow down the process. As does not having thumbs. And my terrible breath is not helping. Wish me luck.

Grover Out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Diana and I decided to take a stand against TV. Well, Diana decided to take a stand against TV and I said, “That sounds fine, dear.” Elijah inherited his father’s addictive personality and he LOVES TV.

The other day I tried a test. I stuck my face in front of his face while Elmo was on. He craned his neck to see. Then I moved in his way. He craned his neck further. I moved in his way. Eventually he fell of the couch. Whatever injuries he sustained were lessened by his ability to see Elmo again from floor level.

So Diana instituted a no TV after 9am rule. Eli spent the entire day Sunday saying, “DG? DG?” But Diana and I are tough customers. We said, “No! No TV. But we will go buy you $100 in new toys to distract you.” So we bought him a bunch of plastic jungle animals and a tool kit and some blocks. What’s that word when milk stays around way after its due date?

I excitedly tore into the toys in Eli’s room.

“Oooh look. Elephants! You love elephants!”


“No. No TV. Let’s play the game where peace loving townspeople build beautiful high-rises and then the Elijah Monster destroys them.”


“No. No TV. Here. Take this block. I’ll give you one free shot at my face.”


Thankfully, Eli’s addition seems to have waned over the last few days and he only asks for TV 80% of the day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First "I Love You"

Today is Diana’s birthday. And as you know, the #1 present in the Hamann house is sleep. But we upped the ante by going out to dinner with a gaggle of Diana’s old high school chums last night. Steve volunteered to baby-sit, and added the bonus of bringing along Finn. To avoid any late night Finn freak-outs, Steve decided to sleep on our tiny guest mattress with Finn in Elijah’s room.

So technically, that counts as a first sleep over. But just barely. There was no pizza or sticking bras in the freezer or rooting through the phone book for listings of Michael Hunt.

Diana and I got home relatively late (11pm. Call Missing Persons) and we stepped over Finn and Steve and went to bed.

Eli, still kind of sick, woke up at 4:30 again and started howling. Not wanting to wake up our only guaranteed baby-sitter, I ran into the room and snatched the angry toddler, swooping him into our room. Diana and I tried to calm him down for the better part of an hour, but with no luck. Eli was coughing mad.

Suddenly, out of the shadows I saw a young, blonde haired boy of 4 or 5 by our bed. I was petrified, thinking it was Elijah back from the future, coming back to warn me of some terrible parenting mistake I was about to make.

But then I realized it was Finn. He said, “Uncle Rick. I don’t like it when Eli cries. Make him stop.” I sighed and took both boys downstairs for Sesame Street and milk. Finn noted, “The sun isn’t up yet, Uncle Rick. When is it going to come up?”

Diana got her favorite birthday present several hours later. Eli finally told her he loved her. But she had him pinned to the ground and she was begging him to say it. It sounded like one of those trained dogs owned by weird old ladies. “Ry Rove Rou.”

You know what? Ry Rove Rer too. Ry Rove Rer more and more every day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ears Like a Hawk Pt 3

It is minus ten in Evanston right now. Minus. Ten. Elijah, Grover and Diana are hold up in our house burning my old Star Wars figures for warmth. Chewbacca burns the hottest.

The only real bummer about the cold snap besides the fact that it can kill you, is Eli has acquired a severe case of the snots. Someone turned on the nose faucet and broke off the handle. His goo is everywhere. Ew. I can handle the gross, but the general stuffiness is causing him sleep problems. He can only get a slight whistle of air through his nostrils and when he tries to breathe through his mouth it causes a cavalcade of hacking coughs. At which point Diana and I ask, “Was that a ‘Whoop?’ Is he ‘Whooping?’”

Last night I applied Vick’s Vapo Rub to his bare chest just before I put him to bed. He loved it. Eli rubbed his own chest and giggled creepily. I said, “Don’t be weird.”

Cut to 4:30 am.

“Sniff. Sniff. Cough. Cough. Whaaah!”

I got him out of his crib and saw that he was covered in his own snot and his pajamas were open at the chest from him rubbing his Vick’s chest. I rocked him back to sleep. But not before he wiped his snot all over my left arm.

This morning I woke up at 7 and heard Eli still snoring in the other room. I tip toed downstairs and showered and crept back up to our room. Eli was still miraculously asleep.

I then attempted to dress in the dark, silently. I opted out of wearing my chain mail armor or my silver bells pants. But I remembered it was minus ten degrees outside and I’d need a sweater if I was going to make it through the day without, well, dying.

I opened my closet and found a dry cleaning bag containing a sweater. I silently lifted it out of the bag and then I heard it.


Those dry cleaner jerks had the gall to put that dry cleaning paper in the sweater. I got to the point where putting the sweater back in the closet would make more noise than just removing the damn paper. So I quickly snatched the paper out.


I turned back to the bed and saw Diana sitting upright with an expression of horror.

“Sniff. Sniff. Cough. Cough. Whaaah!”

I ran out of the house and into the cold where I could die in peace.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Move, Everybody.

Last week I promised a blog entry about Elijah’s dance class, Everybody Move. The near deafening lack of request for the subject matter from all 8 HamannEggs readers really has me charged about the subject.

Everybody Move is taught at the Evanston dance center. It’s nestled in a strip mall between a Christian book store and a clearly drug front clothing store that features baseball hats with messages spelled out in rhinestones like, “Beat” and “Street.”

Eli and I arrived at class and removed our jackets. The class features a padded ramp and some other padded mats. In the center of the room stood a Medieval torture contraption. It looked like two wooden ladders precariously leaning together to form an inverse V. Before I could ask the moms in attendance if this was used to punish bad children, the aging hippie teacher arrived.

Eli began saying, “Ju? Ju?”

I said, “Yeah. I guess she’s Jewish. But that’s not cool, man...”

I then realized the aging hippie was pouring juice into Dixie cups on a nearby table. She covered the cups with a tie-dyed cloth and said, “That’s for later.” For the rest of the class, various teams of children attempted to scale the table to no avail.

The class was essentially the hippie playing fun songs surrounded by small carpet squares. The children would sit for a moment and then tear off to climb, then fall off the Medieval contraption or try to pole vault onto the juice table.

There were props and dancing and I sang along so loudly that the other mothers looked at me like I was Eli’s “special” older brother. Sometime during class Ryan, the cute girl Eli ignores showed up with her mom. Eli did his best to not pay any attention to them.

Finally, the hippie announced class was over and began to hand out juice cups. This was the only time the class actually paid attention. They sat on the carpet squares quietly like little yogis.

It broke my heart a little to see him drinking from a real cup. I prayed he would dump it onto himself and stay a baby. But he held his cup out to the aging hippie and said, “More Ju? Pee (please)?”

Today’s picture has nothing to do with dancing. But check out his huge paws on that steering wheel. He could knock out a buffalo with fists like those.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Friday night and most of Saturday, Evanston got pounded by a massive snowstorm. It was Diana’s morning to sleep in, so Elijah, Grover and I spent the majority of the morning watching the white stuff fall.

As mid morning turned into late morning with no sign of my wife, Grover started to get that look in his eye. That look that says, “Outside is 5th on my list of places to go pee and poop.”

It suddenly dawned on me that children love snow. And the love only leaves the minute you have to drive your aunt and uncle from O’Hare airport to Peoria in a massive snowstorm (shout out to aunt Julie and uncle Dick! Yeah!).

So I bundled our bundle of joy from head to toe and trudged to the church. Unfortunately, I assumed it was a light, fluffy, “White Christmas” style snow. But it was in reality an angry, nails falling from the sky style snow. Grover didn’t seem to mind and leaped from drift to drift.

We encountered our neighbors from across the street frolicking. Now, they are a nice enough family. But they harbor fear and hatred of giant black fluffball dogs. Whenever they see Grover they say, “Hello…grover,” with utter contempt.

Grover can sense this. So he immediately jumped on them. Thankfully, they didn’t press charges. But the dad tried to ignore Grover and play with his son. Who was being humped by Grover.

Knowing our standing in the neighborhood was fast dwindling, I scooped up Eli, who was rendered incapacitated by a 2-foot drift, and started back for home. I shouted for Grover to come.

Unfortunately, Grover lost his favorite tennis ball in the sea of snow and refused to come with me. He is adamant about leaving the church with his ball. This, coupled by his terrible sense of smell meant we could be out there for hours tracking down his ball.

I started shouting, “Hey! Grover! Hey! Hey!”

Elijah decided this was the moment he’d start repeating everything I say.

“Hey! Go go! Hey! Hey!”

I said, “You aren’t helping, you Goonie.”

“Hey! Go go!”

Grover attempted to find the ball in our neighbor’s kid’s hat. I eventually lured Grover home with a decoy tennis ball. But I knew we were off the across the street neighbor’s Christmas card list forever.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time Out

Diana is experiencing that rare occurrence where all her various Wine Goddess balls in the air are crashing down on her head at the exact same time. And throwing in the Elijah ball was starting to make her teeter on the brink of insanity. I prefer a sane Diana, not a screaming at people on the street while wearing tinfoil on her head Diana.

So she asked me to take the day off work and tend to Eli duty on Tuesday. I was glad to. I was experiencing a lull before the storm of sports car advertising and was spending a lot of time pushing a toy Porsche around my office saying, “Vrooom vroom!”

I decided that my childcare would not include TV. We have a lot to thank the TV for. Eli's early adoption of the alphabet. His ability to count to 10. His desire to eat at Chili’s. But Di and I think he’s been spending too much time in front of the Tube of Boob. He asks for Elmo and Nemo and Jungle Book way too much for our liking.

So we went to the “Everybody Move” dance class, which was so hilarious it deserves its own blog entry. We also went to the church and played with Grover in the snow. We did some guitar playing. And by about 10:30am I was out of ideas.

I forced us both to sit in his room and play with his toys. Eli was not into it. He didn’t nap much and kept asking for TV.

“Ah Elmo? Ah Memo? Ah elpant?”

“No. No TV. Let’s play with this broken piece of plastic.”

Eli got grouchier and grouchier. I tried to distract him with the 100 wooden blocks Steve and Pam got him for Christmas. They have letters and numbers printed on them. So we played the game “What’s this say?”

As I was squinting to read a red “J,” Eli hucked a wooden block at me from two feet away. It struck me with a pointy corner a centimeter under my eyeball. I recoiled in pain.

He clearly didn’t do it on purpose. But it was hard to rationalize with rage coursing through my veins. So I did the only thing I could think of. I gave him a time out. I put him in his crib and went downstairs and watched the clock for two minutes.

Eli was not pleased. He howled in anger and tossed out all his toys and blankets like a prison inmate who lost yard privileges.

I have no idea if he understood that he got a time out because he nailed me with the block. But we got along a lot better after the two minutes. When I turned on “Jungle Book” and put an ice cube under my eye.

I recalled this story to my co-workers and brother and the general consensus is two fold:

1) No one can believe Eli waited 20 months to hit me in the eye with a block.
2) Just wait until the punching stage, which occurs at roughly age 12.

Monday, January 5, 2009

First Unrequited Love

Elijah is nothing if not verbal. The little chatterbox always has something to say. Mainly about elephants and his new favorite person, Steve (Ah Steeeeve?). He also loves the game “Can you say?” Where he mimics everything you utter. No, we don’t do swear words. We’re not his uncle. But there are two things he flat out refuses to say:

“I love you”

Whenever you ask him to say his own name or proclaim his love for you he gets this sheepish grin and cocks his head and bats his eyes in a “Well gosh” kind of way.

I have no idea why he won’t say his own name. Maybe he doesn’t like it. I knew we should have called him “Elephant Hamann.”

I guess I can understand the “I love you” thing. He just wants to be sure, you know? Not rush into anything. Especially since Diana and I have bathed, clothed, fed and changed his poopie diapers for 20 months.

But what completely baffles me is his refusal to fall in love with Ryan. Ryan is the cuter than cute daughter of Diana’s childhood friend, who just moved to Evanston. They’ve had many playdates and Ryan has fallen head over heels for Eli. And Eli, in a trait he inherited from his father, is completely clueless.

Over break I got to see Ryan attempt to get Eli to notice her. She hands him toys, which he immediately chucks. She runs by him while looking over her shoulder in an attempt to get him to chase her. Which ironically is how Diana got me. But he just busies himself with smashing blocks together.

After Ryan left from another bout of being ignored, I sat Elijah down for a man to man.

“Look, Eli. I don’t think you realize what a good thing you have with Ryan. She’s totally cute.”

“Ah Go Go?”

“He’s on the couch. I don’t mean to be rude, but I honestly don’t think you are going to do better than Ryan. I seriously think you should take the next step and actually acknowledge her existence”

“Ah Steve?

“He’s at his house with Finn.”

“Ah Finn?”

“Alright. I won’t push. But she isn’t going to wait forever. And Emmet from playgroup is just waiting for the right moment.”

“Ah Go Go?”

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Immediately after marveling at my copious body hair, people who see me without my shirt always ask about my tattoos.

“What do they mean?” Is always the question.

They mean I was an idiot in the 1990’s.

Yes, I was part of that sad, unfortunate crowd who was convinced burying a needle filled with ink into your skin somehow made you different. I believe the number of us lonely souls is roughly 40 million.

And for you kids out there, getting a tattoo is mighty stupid. They never go away and the chances that you’ll still be interested in an obscure Star Wars symbol 15 years later is mighty slim.

Well gang, I made the mistake again! I got an “e” today. For elephant! Or was it for eggplant? I forgot.

Steve is currently painting a big mural in Elijah’s room. A jungle. We offered to pay him, but he flat out refused. So I suggested we go get tattoos signifying our love of our kids. My treat. And Steve can’t resist self-mutilation.

My “e” was relatively painless. Steve’s “F” (Finn) was tougher because he is running out of arm real estate and had to get his on the tender underside of his arm. We didn’t get a Rory “R.” Because I’m not a tattoo bank.

I’m certain I will regret this immature decision. Around the time Elijah starts stealing space cars and telling me how much he thinks I’m a space dork.

But until then this little “e” will remind me how much I love that little guy.

p.s. I do realize I am tacitly giving him permission to get a tattoo or whatever futuristic thing kids will be into. Like attaching an extra bionic arm of something.

p.s.s. Diana thinks it’s cool.

p.s.s.s. Don’t worry. The photo has it reversed. We won’t have to change his name to “9.”