Monday, March 30, 2009

Play D’oh!

Elijah isn’t into toys. There. I said it. As someone who spent his entire childhood hording plastic action figures and most of his pre-marriage adulthood hoarding plastic action figures, this depresses me to no end. Part of why I agreed to have a baby, aside from the obvious chore relief, was so I could buy toys and pretend to give them to my offspring.

While other almost two year olds are obsessed with miniature cars or plastic dinosaurs or blocks, Eli prefers to use them as objects d’throwing. Every few months, we’ll arrive home from Target with a new batch of toy experiments.

Oversized Leggos? Meh. Sesame Street figurines? No thank you. Imported Porsche die cast cars? Nope. Crayons and markers? Only for wall drawing.

I was on my way out the door yesterday and saw a note on the fridge. “Play Dough.” I asked Diana, “Really? Play Dough? Isn’t that a bit, um, lame?” I remembered the only thing you can really make with the stuff is a snake/phallus. And the little bits irritate your mom when you grind them into the carpet.

But after watching Elijah pour out the contents of a Bucket ‘O Blocks only to use the bucket as a hat, I figured what the hey?

So I did a little experiment. I bought a small batch of Play Dough, plus a packet of plastic figures from his second favorite TV show, “Yo Gabba Gabba.”

No contest. While he played with the Gabba plastic stuff for as long as it took to huck them across the room, he LOVED the Play Dough. He spent the majority of the day on our kitchen floor saying, “Squishy,” over and over.

Diana sat with him and made beautiful lobsters. I rolled a red wiener and said, “Look! A pee pee!”

I was banished to the living room where I could play with my Yo Gabba Gabba toys in peace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

APTBWSS: 1 Eli: 0

I’m looking out the window of the office right now at the Adventure Playsets Trail Blazer Wooden Swing Set (APTBWSS). And it’s looking right back at me. It’s talking. I can’t hear it through the window, but I can see its lips move.


And the APTBWSS is well on its way, as evidenced by the two, count ‘em two gashes on Elijah’s face. According to Diana, Eli was innocently climbing the APTBWSS’s ladder when the APTBWSS shook him off. I imagine it laughed like Vincent Price. “Moooahahahah!” Eli also landed on his spine upon reaching the bottom of the slide several times. The APTBWSS shook with laughter. In my mind.

I think this is how kids get Scoliosis spines.

This afternoon, I dragged out my lawn mower’s gas can and a box of matches. “Hurt my son, will ya?” I shouted. As I was about to turn it into a funeral pyre, Eli gleefully climbed the ladder and slid down the slide giggling the whole time. Although he did land with a disturbing spine rattle.

I’ll let you live today, APTBWSS. But I have my eye on you.

Oh, and thanks to all the HamannEggs readers who inserted comments to my last post about no one reading the site. I clearly have loyal readers and a malfunctioning monitoring service.

And yes, I was fishing for compliments. Today, I’d like you to tell me how handsome I am in the comments section.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who’s On First

My lovely wife Diana and my closer than close friend Patrick are both deaf in one ear. That, combined with my severe case of the mumbles reduces any conversation into a series of me repeating myself. And now it has trickled down to Elijah. Apparently, Elijah believes any and all questions must first be answered with either “What?” or “Huh? Which reduces our conversations to a Laurel and Hardy routine.

“Elijah, do you want some milkies?”


“Do you want some milk?”


“Do. You. Want. Milk?”


“Milk. It comes from a cow. Do you want me to put it in a sippie cup?”


“You can hear me.”


“Keep it up and I’m not going to give you any milk ever again.”


“Do you want me to beat you?”


You may be thinking that Eli actually has a hearing problem and I am a terrible parent for making fun. But remember, if I am trying to sneak by him in the morning to make a 6am flight to Atlanta he can hear carpet strands bend under my feet and will wake up angry.

Out of curiosity, I signed up for a website monitoring service to see how many people read the blog. Yesterday’s total? Zero point zero. Not even Diana looked at the site.

Well, at least I still think I’m hilarious. And Grover does. But he can’t read. So he gets a pass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Standoff

The moment I entered the house last night I knew something was up. Grover didn’t leap on me. I found him on the couch hiding his face under his paws. I also knew something was up from the angry, angry howls emanating from the back of the house.

Diana casually entered the living room dressed in her robe. She began tidying up, apparently oblivious to the screeching. I asked Di if she put a rabid ferret into the tub with our son a la “The Big Lebowski.”

“We’re having a disagreement,” she said oh so casually.

Over the increasingly shrill screams from the bathroom, Diana explained. Apparently, the end of their bath routine is the ceremonial pulling of the plug. And last night, Elijah refused to pull the plug. And Diana refused to get him out of the tub until he pulled the plug.

Irresistible force meets immovable object.

Allow me to digress. Elijah gets his stubbornness 100% from his mother. I am a proud doormat. I prefer the French version of conflict resolution. You can have our country, but we get to keep all the wine we can hide.

So I did what I always do when people are fighting. I went upstairs and folded socks. Grover, also a doormat, followed me upstairs with his tail between his legs. I heard them downstairs.

“Aaarrgh! Mommy!”

“Pull the plug and I’ll come get you.”

“No!!!!! Up! Up! Mommy!”

And so on. Diana eventually came up and helped me fold clothes. I asked her if we were planning on leaving our son in the bath all night. Diana just smiled. I asked, and received permission, to act as intermediary.

I went downstairs and found Eli laying in a 3/4 empty tub. He saw me and started shouting, “Up! Up! Dada!”

I said, “Mommy wants you to pull the plug. Can you do that?”

“No! No! No!”

I slapped myself in the face, knowing this conflict was the only thing standing between me and a delicious glass of red wine.
I said, “How about this. We’ll unplug it together. Ok?”

Eli thought for a moment and said, “Ok.”

I put my hand on the plug and he half heartedly laid a finger on my hand. Good enough for government work.

I took him upstairs and mother and son lovingly reunited as if nothing happened. Diana asked me if Eli unplugged the plug.

“He sure did,” I said. And then went back to my place in front of the door.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We did it!

And by “we” I mean “My Father-In-Law Don Jacklich.” For the last week, I’d been having nightly nightmares. I’d wake up, covered in sweat, desperately clutching my appendages while screaming, “No! Adventure Playsets Trail Blazer Wooden Swing Set!”

But I encountered two, count ‘em two miracles this week. One named Diana Hamann and one named Don Jacklich.

Through the marvel that is Craig’s List, Diana found the exact same Adventures Playsets Trail Blazer Wooden Swing Set (APTBWSS) in a nearby suburb. Already put together. All we’d have to do is break it down into manageable pieces and move it across the suburbosphere.

Enter Don Jacklich.

We cruised out to the APTBWSS in Diana’s brother’s truck. After listening to the previous owner describe how awful it was to construct the APTBWSS and how hard it is to re-attach thumbs, Don said, “Ricky, go fetch my tools.”

By the time I came back from the truck, the thing was completely dismantled. The previous owner stood there, ashen faced. He said, “There was a puff of smoke and a sharp crack of lightening and…and…” The man backed away from Don, frightened.

Don just dusted his hands and said, “Go call your wife. Tell her Union rules demand two chilled beers before we put this back together.”


The re-construction was only slightly more difficult. Mostly because Elijah was so excited by the prospect of a swing set in the back yard that he cried hysterically. Don would sometimes allow me the honor of tightening a bolt. Much in the same way you let a child tap a hammer on a discarded two by four.

Needless to say, Eli loves the APTBWSS, And I get to keep all my appendages.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Well gang. It happened. The Terrible Twos have descended on us like the Huns. Diana called me yesterday and said they had to leave the grocery store because Eli was having a massive fit. While my poor wife was trying not to look like a parental cliché, an Asian woman approached. Di thought she was going to have to listen to a broken-English admonishment about our wriggly disturbance of the peace.

“How old he?” she said.

“Almost 2,” Di answered while attempting to prevent Eli from destroying the dairy section.

“It terrible! So bad!” The Asian lady pointed at her own cute, tiny monster. “I can’t control.” At least Di had company.

But I’d like to take you to a time before The Terrible Twos. Wednesday. I arrived home from work right before Eli went to bed. After getting my usual greatest welcome ever from Grover and Eli, Pam started to put her coat on.

I said, “Go hug aunty Pam.” Eli toddled over and gave her a hug.

He then walked over and started shoving me towards Pam. “Hug! Hug! Hug!”

“I believe hugging the sitter is what got Brad Pitt in trouble, son,” I said. I suggested he give her another hug himself. He walked over and hugged Pam again. She hugged him back.

Mid hug he said, “Nice.”

But it was the most hilarious “nice” ever. It was very cute, but also kind of creepily drawn out like, “Niiiiice.”

I believe my son has a crush. But unfortunately I don’t think it will work out. If they get married Pam will be my ex-sister-in-law-daughter-in-law.

Yeah, he better stick to smooching his stuffed animals.

p.s. Today’s photo is the sum total of our potty training results

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

These Are The Jokes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Diana is the funniest woman I know. She’s like Lucille Ball mixed with Carol Burnett mixed with Phyllis Diller. But without being 157 years old.

But here’s the thing. She’s married to a non-laugher. I’ve spent so much of my career dissecting what’s funny and arguing over what’s funny and getting yelled at about what’s funny, it takes a ton of effort to turn on my laugh factory. So when Diana does something funny, instead of laugh I say, “That’s really funny.”

“If it’s funny, why don’t you simply laugh?” she’ll say.

I’ll point to my chest and say, “I’m laughing in here.”

She’ll then point to her head and say, “You’re making me crazy in here.”

Well, lately Elijah has been catching on to the concept of things being funny and not funny. If I’m doing my dance/hump with Grover, or Diana does her silly songs like “You Are a Poopy Pants Pants Pants,” Eli will point and say, “Funny.”

But he won't laugh. He just states the facts.

To which I’ll say, “You are correct, son. Your dada is very funny.”

Last Sunday, Eli was miserable and sick and, quite frankly, being kind of a jerk to everyone. We decided after 9 hours of him being whiney and clingy and throwing multiple tantrums, we all needed a break. So we made the executive decision of letting him watch TV. But just this once!

So we plopped him on the couch with a bag of Goldfish crackers. I went into the den to my Sisyphus task of turning 2008’s blogs into hardback when I heard Diana holler.

“No no no! Naughty Elijah! No! Do not do that.”

I reluctantly went into the living room. I found that Eli had dumped the entire contents of the Goldfish bag over his head. Little orange crackers were everywhere. In the couch, in his hair, in his clothes, you name it. Grover was excitedly eating the evidence.

Eli looked up from his mess and said, “Funny.”

I had to admit, it was a pretty good gag.

p.s. Today’s photo looks as though Eli and the rest of the pride just downed a gazelle.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Bug

Like a bad sitcom roommate, there is a lazy cold/flu Bug that simply will not leave our house. We were introduced to it last Christmas. It was like, “Oh man, do you mind if I crash on your couch for a couple weeks? Just until I can find a new family to infect…”

Being kind hearted, Elijah said it was ok and let the cold/flu mooch crawl into his head. He should have known better. The Bug had all these grand plans. First he was going to start his own Bug business. Something about designer snot. Then he was going to temp at the local drinking fountain. Then he was going to apply to culinary school. But noooo. All he did was hang out in Eli’s head, messing up the place. And it made Elijah miserable.

Thankfully, the Bug got the hint and went over to counsins Finn and Rory’s head for a while. But my brother Steve has no patience for freeloader Bugs and told it to hit the bricks.

So last week, during a torrential rainstorm, the pathetic Bug showed up at our door again. It had some lame story about needing to stay with us until its court settlement arrived. So Diana and Eli caved and let it back in.


I’ll admit, I thought I was immune to The Bug. Di and Eli have been in various stages of sick for months and months and I felt great. They’d be hacking away and crying and I’d be standing on my head. “3 beers a day keeps the doctor away,” I'd sing.

In fact, last weekend I started to get a little testy with my sick family. “Get over it! Take some vitamins and go for a brisk walk.”

And then Eli sneezed directly in my mouth.

This morning I woke up feeling awful. The Bug has not only moved in, he put up all its posters and set up its stereo and put its futon in the corner of my skull. All day I’ve been asking it when The Bug plans on moving on. But The Bug says there is a lot more room in my head than Eli or Diana. Less brains.

I heard it talking about taking the real estate exam. I don’t think it’s leaving anytime soon.

p.s That’s my toothbrush Eli’s messing with.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I think everyone should have an archenemy. Take Superman. If he is walking down the street and suddenly runs into Lex Luthor, he knows the rest of his morning will be spent creating a fair amount of collateral damage in Metropolis.

Well, I am happy to report I have discovered my archenemy. And its name is “Adventure Playsets Trail Blazer Wooden Swing Set.” APTBWSS for short. Diana found it online and desperately wants it for Elijah’s 2nd birthday.

You may be asking yourself, “Didn’t your house already come with a swing set that you spent 2 full days dismantling and exhausting every swear word known to man several years ago?” To which I say, “What, did you major in Hamann Family trivia in college? Good luck getting a job with that.”

Anyhoo, the APTBWSS is coming sometime this Spring. It will not arrive constructed. It will arrive very un-mantled. I know you Hamann Family Trivia majors are giggling into your coffees because I am not known as a handy dad. As you recall, I almost committed myself to a mental institution putting together Eli’s crib.

This morning I looked up the APTBWSS online and looked at the reviews. Full disclosure, the vast majority of the reviews were glowing. 4 stars, 5 stars. But I wasn’t interested in those. I scrolled down to the 1 star reviews. It seems as though the major flaw with the APTBWSS is its relative impossibility to construct. Great. Here are a couple reviews:

(2 Stars By Binki) “Anyone named Rick Hamann will lose a thumb putting this together.”

(1.5 Stars By Mommypants) “Rick should call 911 before starting this project to save time.”

(2 Stars by Grandma9) “Do not attempt to put this together if you like Star Wars, work in advertising and secretly store a Grover stuffed animal in your bedside table.”

Here’s the light at the end of the APTBWSS. Diana’s dad has volunteered to help me put it together. He is most handy. Virtually everything in our house that involves tools other than a spoon was built by Don Jacklich. So at the very least, I can share the pain and several dozen beers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Where are you?

This week hasn’t been very exciting from a blog-worthy standpoint. But I’ll take a drawing on the walls free week, thank you very much. In lieu of anything destructive to report, I’ll focus on a little bit of cuteness Elijah has been gracing us with.

His new favorite phrase is “Where are you?” But in his Toddler speak, it comes out “Wher a ooo?” So when he wants to get out of his crib, he’ll shout from the top of the stairs, “Wher a ooo?” Or if you step away from his high chair at mealtime he’ll shout, “Wher a ooo?” If you don’t come running immediately, you’ll pass out from cuteness.

But as of late, Eli has taken it up a notch. When he wants to shower us with cuteness and we happen to be in the same room, he will simply turn his head away and shout, “Wher a ooo?” To which Diana or I will reply, “Right here, goof ball.” He’ll then turn back and say, “Oh, hi guys.” It doesn’t look terribly cute written out in blog form. But believe me, it’s adorable.

Both Eli and Diana have been under the weather lately. Eli was up off and on all night last night hacking and crying. And Diana resorted to taking Nyquil to cut through the aches and pains. So this morning when I deposited Eli in our bed on my way out the door, Di was especially groggy. So much so that she was only able to muster a half eye open when he repeatedly asked her for milk.

Finally, he shouted, “Wher a ooo?” She was on planet Nyquil.

Today’s photo is evidence that I’ve finally succumbed to being a complete and utter dork. But I wouldn’t change this kind dorkiness for all the Nyquil in the world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First Swear

This is so delicious, I can’t stand it. Like first steps and first poops, the first swear is a major rite of passage. Usually first swears are learned from drunken uncles at family reunions. Or from network TV. So it delights me to no end that the devil’s language was picked from the same woman who has been warning me to watch my mouth in front of Elijah. His mommy!

Last night, Diana made me a delicious taco salad and we sat down to watch the lowest form of televised entertainment: the reality show reunion. Unfortunately, Eli hasn’t adjusted to the clocks, so he was upstairs chattering happily away well past his bedtime.

He had already stripped himself and finished his water and had relayed the events of the day to his stuffed animals. So his only option to occupy himself was dumping all his toys and blankets and clothes over the side of the crib one by one.

(Thunk) “Oh sit!”

(Thunk) “Oh sit!”

I looked at Diana and asked, “What did he just say?”

Diana guiltily tried to change the subject. “Hey, let’s talk about that thing you found in your ear. That’s a great story.”

(Thunk) “Oh sit!”

It turns out, Diana dropped something on the floor yesterday and muttered the offending phrase under her breath. Forgetting full well the boy has ears like a hawk.

(Thunk) “Oh sit!”

I just sat and smiled. Knowing the score of things I’ve done to screw him up versus things Diana has done to screw him up was now 1,000,000 to 1.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soul Train

Diana has a wide array of children’s music CD’s for Elijah to rock out to. Most of them are actually quite cool and not mind numbing or banana phone filled. But almost all of them were supplied by her ex-boyfriend. I refuse to listen to them out of principle. Because I am petty and small.

So this weekend I pulled out some old Beatles CD’s and turned the stereo up. Elijah immediately toddled over and announced his intention to get down and or get funky.

I’ve blogged before about his hilarious dance routines. But lately Eli demands a dance partner. I was only happy to oblige. Let me try to explain his idea of dancing with his dada.

After saying, “Dance! Dance!,” Eli will ask to be scooped up in my arms. But this is no tango. Eli uses his arms and legs to launch himself away from my body to the beat of the music. It takes all of my strength to keep him from shooting across the living room at collarbone breaking speed.

As if this weren’t enough, Grover becomes very agitated at any dancing. I can’t tell if he really loves dancing or really hates it. But he will leap on me/Elijah and gently bite my arms while humping ferociously.

Now, imagine you are our neighbors across the street or a passerby innocently walking their dog. And you happen to peer into our large front window. You’d see a baby trying to squirt out of a grown man’s arms all while being attacked by a giant black bear.

The other night an Evanston police car spent several hours parked in front of our house.

Today’s photo is not of the incident. It’s a nice, non leaping from my arms slash dog humping picture of me and Eli and Finn. But you can almost make out the squad car in front of the house.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Diana and Elijah are pitched in a heated battle. Over pee pee dominance. No, this isn’t a potty training blog entry. That little experiment has completely ground to a halt. This is a battle over Eli’s insistence on whizzing all over himself whenever he takes a nap.

It goes like this. Diana will put Elijah down in our room for his midday nap in his Pack And Play. She’ll tell him she loves him. He’ll refuse to tell her he loves her and she’ll tiptoe out of the room, dejected. At which point Elijah feverously removes all his clothes and diaper.

There is no real explanation for it other than he likes being naked. And who doesn’t? It’s the only way I’ll take a nap. Especially in my hammock. And being naked is totally cool with us at the Hamann house. Unless you can’t control your bladder.

Without fail the little guy will let loose a torrent of pee all over himself, his stuffed animals, his Pack And Play, his hair, our neighbor’s swing set, passing airplanes, Grover. Everywhere. That’s bad enough. But after a little while basking in his liquid leavings, it ceases to be body temperature. And Diana usually finds him shivering, pee covered mess at the end of any given nap.

So Diana has been desperately trying to prevent him from nuding himself. She stuffed him into a sleep sack, which he escaped from like a tiny Houdini. He also bested a full body zipper suit. And a straight jacket slash chain link combo.

So Diana resorted to duct taping. But not without warning. The other afternoon she brought up a roll of the stuff and sat Eli down. She said, “Elijah. Mommy doesn’t want to duct tape your diaper. But if you pee again all over yourself, this is going to happen.”

At which point Eli tickled her and said, “Tika tika tika.” Diana did not pee herself. But Eli did.

So yesterday was his inaugural taping. It was successful. If not slightly humiliating for all involved.

p.s. Diana didn’t have time to gather photographic evidence. So enjoy this photo of me as a child. I think we can officially declare Eli got his beauty from his mother.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Baby’s First Evil Book

Whenever my nephew Finn asks to watch TV at our house and is refused, he asks why on Earth we prevent Elijah from the joy of the boob tube. To which my brother replies, “Because uncle Rick and aunt Di are hippies. Dirty, stinking hippies.”

The result of our TV ban is Elijah has gotten heavily into books. Dog books, Dinosaur books, potty training books. You name it, he reads it. Or asks that it be read to him. But there is one book that he loves which baffles me to no end. “Baby’s First Book.”

It’s a book that was published in 1955. It follows a first person account, or first baby account, of a Toddler going through his/her day. It’s written simplistically, which I can tolerate. “I wake up…I put on my shoes…I play with my ball…”

But then towards the end of the book the story takes a bizarre turn. Right after the Toddler eats some fruit (“I eat some fruit…”) he/she says, “I see some balloons…And a bird…And my present, some paint.”

And that’s it. The book simply ends. Which begs a few questions. Did the baby just drop acid? Was English the author’s first language? Did all involved simply abandon the project to fight in the Korean War?

And to make matters worse, take a look at the cover. It’s a baby reading a book about himself, who is reading a book about himself. Into infinity. I just blew your mind.

Needless to say, the book frightens me. I think if I read it out loud I will open a dimensional portal, thus allowing demons into our realm like the Necronomicon. So of course Eli demands that it be read to him constantly.

“Mo baby? Mo baby?”

“No please. Daddy doesn’t want to. It disturbs him.”

“Mo baby? Again?”

“Fine. But if we let demons into our dimension, you have to help me banish them.”

“Mo baby?”

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Last night, Diana and I planned a romantic dinner at home. I whipped up a disgusting meal I found on the internet (why I continue to trust the same internet that told us hairspray removes marker from walls is beyond me) and we lit candles and put in the latest Woody Allen film featuring three impossibly gorgeous women and one Neanderthal man.

Just as we were about to hit “play,” we heard Elijah upstairs in his crib. This was not the usual screams of “Mama!” and “Dada!” This was something different. He was having an elaborate conference by himself. Or possibly including his stuffed animals. Most of it was Toddler gibberish, but he would pepper in counting to 10, his ABC’s. The most hilarious part is he would begin every soliloquy by saying, “Okay.”

“Okay…blah blah blah…okay…one two fee four five six....okay.”

Diana and I crawled over to the stairs and sat on the landing, listening. And for some reason, this little guy talking to himself just hit us. Our eyes welled up with tears and we couldn’t remove ourselves from the steps.

With all the running around and chasing and tickling and admonishing him about destroying, we forget what an unbelievable experience it is to have a baby. What an absolute miracle…

Sorry. Just now I had to run upstairs and quiet our little miracle who refuses to take a nap. I got to his crib and said, “Eli…you have to go to sleep now.” He then immediately put his head down and pretended to snore with gusto.

The little miracle is turning into a wiseacre.

p.s. Today’s photo is from the series, “Vaseline. She no come out.”