Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve 2010




Oops. I know I promised the second half of the flight to Denver story today. But I realized that today is, in fact, New Years Eve. And as custom on HamannEggs, I write a little note to each of my sons, capping a year of adventures. If you’re used to HamannEggs being funny, this isn’t your entry. If you’re used to HamannEggs being not funny, you won’t be disappointed.

Okay, here goes.

Dear Elijah,

Last night, I turned on the TV to occupy you because I was still horribly sick. I laid on our daybed and silently shivered, even though I was covered with two blankets. As I clenched my eyes to block out the light, I felt something. You had gone into your room and grabbed your little blanket and put it over my shoulders to keep me warm.

Why did you do this? How can your brain work like that? How can you, a three year old, be so incredibly kind?

When we took you out of school to move to Denver, your teachers were in tears because they couldn’t bear to see you go. “He’s so special,” they all said.

You are special. You are sweet and funny and beautiful. You make me so unbelievably happy, I find it hard to articulate in words.

I love you son. I will always love you.


Dear Luca,

Joy radiates around you. I have yet to see a person meet you who doesn’t explode into laughter at the sight of your glorious joy. You are joy incarnate.

I wish I could be more like you. I wish I had your disposition. I wish I had your curiosity and your sense of adventure. I wish I had your joy.

You won’t remember our lives before we moved to Denver. But I did it for you. I did it so you might be a few degrees happier. That’s how much I love you. I’d move across the country for you to be a few degrees happier. I’d move to another planet for you to be a few degrees happier.

Because every day you make me a few degrees happier than the last.

I love you son. I will always love you.


And now for a bonus letter.

Dear Diana,

I’ve never written you a New Year’s Eve letter on the blog. We usually exchange letters off line. But this year, things have been going so fast, our lives are changing so rapidly that I haven’t had the chance to tell you all the things I should tell you every day.

I think you are the most wonderful woman in the world. You are the one and only reason our family is together and happy and healthy and filled with laughter and love. Without you, we wouldn’t have made it out of the Evanston City Limits.

You are kind. You are lovely. You are funny. You are smart and cool. You are the best wife and mother three goofball boys could ever ask for. We secretly talk about how much we love you when we’re together. I hope you feel at least half as much for me as I do for you.

I love you, Diana. I will always love you.

Love,

Your Dad (Husband).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flight #1


Sorry about the lack of posts this week, gang. I came down with a terrible case of altitude flu. But I’m feeling slightly better. Slightly.

Now where was I? Oh, yeah. The trip.

After Luca, Elijah and I destroyed the Peoria International Airport’s security line, we made our way down to our gate. After thirty or forty trips to the bathroom for Eli, I heard the blessed words.

“We’re beginning advanced boarding for anyone with small children…”

I gleefully skipped up the ramp, pushing Luca in his car seat. But when we got to the jet bridge, I realized we were on the tiniest of puddle jumpers. There was no way I could fit Luca’s car seat down the aisle. I had to check it and carry him. But while I was unpacking Luca, Elijah decided once again to take off. This time, towards the plane’s entrance.

“Eli! Eli! Eli! Wait! You wait, mister!”

But he didn’t wait. He padded confidently into the hull. By the time I caught up with him, he was saying his magical words to the cute flight attendant, “Hi! I Eli! I’m cute and nice.”

She was his forever. The two of them made moony eyes at each other the whole flight. She’d wave from her little jump seat and he’d blush and wave back. Sheesh. She even got the pilot to say Eli’s name over the intercom pre-flight, but neither one of use heard it because we were too busy arguing over whether the FAA’s ban on electronics during taxi included his DVD player.

Luca, despite not having a car seat, did great. For some inexplicable reason, he was content to just sit in his massive plane seat. He looked like a miniature Russian banker. I kept expecting to turn and see him playing Sudoku.

Aside from the occasional whine about how quickly I was dolling out jellybeans and a bout of Luca wanting to crawl over his seat and into the lap of the Iranian gentleman behind him, Flight #1 went off without a hitch. There was a moment in the Chicago where Elijah decided to lay down on the jet bridge, causing a slight traffic jam.

But that was Flight #1. Flight #2 will be revealed soon.

p.s. I don’t have any recent photos. So enjoy this oldie and goodie.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Plan


As I descended into Peoria airspace a week ago, I heard it. Something popped inside the ear of a young kid at the front of the plane. He was shrieking, “OOOWWEEEEE! OOOWWEEEE! I want offfffffff the plaaaaaane!” The passengers looked at the boy with expressions that said, “Oh, that poor little boy.” The passengers also looked at the boy’s parents with expressions that said, “What kind of monster takes a small boy on an airplane?”

I was about to fly halfway across the country with two small boys. Two small boys I was technically incapable of taking care of on solid ground. I slowly rocked back and forth in my seat, grinding my fists into my eye sockets. Not only was I out of my league, I was playing the wrong sport.

I had less than 24 hours until go time. I needed a plan. And fast. After arriving at my dad’s I began to work on Public Enemy #1: Elijah. I needed him to behave on two flights and one layover. I needed help. So I began training him in airplane cuteness.

“Eli, what do you say when you meet a flight attendant on the plane?”

“Hi! I Eli! I’m cute and nice.”

Perfect. Next, I moved on to Luca. Before I could instruct him in airline cuteness, he grinned, pointed at my nose and said, “Beep.” He clearly needed no instruction. The kid could teach a graduate level course in cuteness.

I then looked at our luggage situation. We had too much of it. I began chucking everything that wasn’t essential. Books? Gone. Toys? See ya. Life saving medicine? Bye bye. I managed to get our carryon gear to Luca’s carseat, a sack of diapers and a sack of food. My thought was I could keep them from bawling if their faces were crammed with jelly beans.

My dad helped us get to the Peoria airport and got us as far as security. But they would let him go no further. As our gear crawled through the x-ray machine, Elijah took off running, shoeless. Luca’s shoes, on the other hand, seemed to be attached to his feet via Superglue. Taking them off seemed to give him great pain. Our food bag spilled, catching the attention of the security dudes, who felt the need to inspect every jar of baby food, every bean of jelly. I couldn’t seem convince the people behind us to leap over us in line. They were content to watch me die a slow death.

And that was just the security line.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hipster Christmas Special



I have lots of stories about carting the boys to Denver. But why spoil a Christmas by describing my mental breakdown? I’ll get to all the juicy bits next week. I’d rather regale you with Baby’s First Colorado Christmas.

Our friends the Goodriches have impeccable timing. At the very moment Diana, Luca, Elijah and I were at each other’s throats, trying to unpack a life’s worth of knickknacks, they called to invite us to their Christmas Eve tradition.

We drove downtown to the Masonic temple. No, the Goodriches aren’t Masons. None of them know the secret symbols on the dollar bill. They’re members of an alternative Christian church that rents from the secret society.

As we sat down, a 30-Something dude wearing a cowboy shirt approached the audience.

“Uh, this is, like a kids’ Christmas service. So we encourage your kids to, like, yell and stuff.”

I realized this was the priest. He looked more like he should be starring in “Ski School 2: Electric Boogaloo” than leading a congregation.

He introduced a three piece rock band, who led us through all the Christian classics. Wait, are they playing with ironic detachment or enthusiasm? Only the screaming children knew for sure.

Luca took the priest’s instructions to heart. His howls of “Uppieeee Uppieeee” could be heard clearly over the Emo harmonies. But as I looked around the bearded, the tattooed and the completely normal, no one cared. And no one cared when Elijah and his new buddy, Davis Goodrich, re-interpreted the hymn’s lyrics to include the word “poopie.”

And this Christmas morning, as I held Luca and watched the sun rise over the Rocky Mountains (we don’t have mountain views, but allow me some creative license), I realized just how awesome this new adventure is going to be. And I was feeling actual enthusiasm, and not the ironic detachment I do often use at this time of year.

Happy Christmas, readers. I love my family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Connie Hamann


Hey gang,

I'm finally in Denver with the boys. I'm too fried to write a proper post, so I'll let my stepmom, Connie, guest write today via an email she sent a couple days ago:

"Hope things are all falling into place and your are not completely overwhelmed or exhausted.

Things here are way good and just wanted to let you know that we haven't turned Eli's brain to mush with T.V. He has been delightful all day with helping me make best ever turkey sandwich for him and grandpa ed for lunch as well as chex mix for dad when he arrives. (Speaking of rick's arrival, here is the bittersweet -- When I told him Rick would be here for dinner he wanted to know if dana could come instead and then fox when he struck out with dana! He has also helped with laundry, making beds, etc. I am not sure what he does in the bathroom as he likes his privacy but do know it involves lots of singing.

Luca has been great as well and lots of "beeps" with noses and I'm pretty sure with as much as he has eaten today that ed couldn't have fed him yesterday!

All of that to say, we are soooooooo glad to have had these few days with them(and don't tell ed but glad I didn't even have to share them with him today)"

p.s. Thanks Connie.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moving



Sorry gang,

We're in the middle of moving to Denver. So I don't have very good stories or internet access. Thankfully, my dad and stepmom are taking care of the boys. So I'm going to let my dad take over the blog today, in the form of an email to me earlier.

"The boys decided to awaken a bit early today; both by about 5:55. Luca has definite thoughts about what he wants to eat - this morning oatmeal not so much. A bit of it is still in his hair; maybe he will have it later. I probably exaggerated the 40% walking, but it has certainly increased. He was less interested in opening the double living room family room doors this morning and has been content being contained in the family room. When naps and bed time are right for him, it is so cool - 32 seconds of crying and then out!

Eli is watching LOTS of TV; sorry about that. But I regularly interupt him with attacks of the tickle monster, some playing with cars, and stories. He too has gone to bed so easily, and is a very good eater.

So, I hope they have been having fun; I know I have - but I'm sure ready for my bed at night and don't even cry for 32 seconds!

I hope all goes well today with the furniture drop off, and that your trip back tomorrow goes well too, Rick. I will be at Joy's tomorrow, but Connie will be home all day. Dad."

p.s. Luca walks now? It's a shocker to us.
p.s.s. Eli watches a ton of TV? It's not a shocker to us.
p.s.s.s I'll make up for lost time next week with lots of awesome blogs.
p.s.s.s.s. My dad is awesome.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scat


Sorry for the lack of posts, gang. It’s kind of hard to write stuff about the kids when I’m, uh, nowhere near them. So I’m going to have to use my memory for HamannEggs hilariousness for the next week or so.

Until recently, Luca had two distinct types of poop. The first? “The Neat And Tidy.” That’s the poo I hope for whenever I remove his D. It’s, as the name suggests, self contained and pleasant. It doesn’t get all over Luca’s hands when he aggressively grabs his genitals and I can get through the process with little or no vomiting.

Then there’s the “The Poopsplosion.” That’s the bad one. I don’t like to talk about it. We keep a fire going in a barrel out back so I can throw clothes, diapers, beds, dishes and Goldendoodles into it in case of Poopsplosion.

Well, over the last week or so Luca has added a new kind of poo to his repertoire. “The Scat.” The Scat is when Luca poops a handful of little pellets, like a deer. At first, I put The Scat into the “Neat and Tidy” category. They’re usually fairly firm. They come in a little pile. And don’t stink like an oil refinery.

But after a few events, I’ve come to hate The Scat. Why? Because they roll. They roll everywhere.

Here are some non-joke places I’ve found Luca’s Scatt:

-In Luca’s Sleepsack.
-In Luca’s PJs.
-In Luca’s fists.
-On the floor under the changing table.

Here are some joke places I’ve found Luca’s Scatt:

-In my coffee.
-In my breast pocket.
-Between my toes.
-In Grover’s ear.
-In Elijah’s butt.

Well, I’m going to try to keep HamannEggs going while I’m in another state. But the boys will join me in just a week or so. The trip out here will be worth about thirty blog entries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beep


I love Luca. There. I said it. Now I can’t take it back. It’s in the internets forever. The kid is such an easygoing joy. It makes me want to give him everything he wants all the time. Luckily, all he wants is to eat, sleep, play and have the occasional clean diaper. Oh, and he wants to murder me.

Huh? Oh, the murder part. Yeah, I don’t think he is calculating in his murderous ways. But sometimes his version of playing results in some serious pain on my part.

For instance, he really loves jumping on my stomach. Which isn’t that terrible in and of itself. It’s a great ab workout. But occasionally, he’ll take a flying leap onto my stomach when I’m not looking and I’ll actually feel his knee connect with my spine.

And yesterday, we created the “Beep” game. The Beep game involves Luca touching my nose and saying, “Beep.” I then shout, “Beep!” which, to a one year old, is the funniest thing on the face of the Earth. We spent a good hour Beeping. Which I think says more about my ability to be entertained than his.

Where does the injury part come in on such an innocuous game? Talons. Luca has incredibly sharp fingernails. No matter how often we (Diana) clips them, in 3 hours they are so sharp they’d make Wolverine proud (Man, it’s been a while since I’ve made a serious nerd reference on the blog).

So, Luca would occasionally miss my nose when he Beeped. Which resulted in some serious lacerations. He all put lanced the little skin bump I have under my nose. The good news is he didn’t charge a deductable. He also jammed his finger into my nose so far, I forgot my address for half an hour. And I have yet to get used to the giant, floating crease in my eyesight.

Now, why would I continue a game that involved me bleeding from the ear? Because it made Luca laugh. Laugh real hard. And if I can make that kid happy with a small amount of pain, I’ll do it every day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vocabulary


Luca is up to 6 official words: Up (“Uppie”) Bottle (“Baba”) Elijah (“Eee eye”) Baby (“Baby”) Bye (“Bye”) and Grover (“Grover”). Fairly good for a kid who is barely a year old. And whatever words he doesn’t command, he takes care of with pointing and grunting.

The other boy, on the other hand, seems to be headed in the other direction, communication-wise. Elijah has started making up his own language, “Elijish.”

Elijish is a fairly unique language. Because there is only one person in the world who understands it. And that person revises the rules of the language every time he speaks.

For example, Elijah will point to a fork and say, “Daddy, can I have a gleepglop?”

“Oh, this is a ‘Gleepglop’ in your language?”

“No, it’s a ‘Florblech.’”

“Wait, you just said it was a ‘Gleepglop.’ Now it’s a ” ‘Florblech.’?”

“No, daddy. It’s a ‘Blorgblorg.’”

At which point I stick my head in the oven. The other night, Elijah was speaking exclusively in Elijish. I decided to up the ante by speaking in Rickish.

So when he said, “Smorbutt gerflunkle boof,” I responded, “Blaffle herckle jerkle.”

Elijah laughed his head off and we began a mock argument in our respective languages. It sounded like a UN conference mixed with a taxicab ride.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Traveling


Attention inventors. If you can create a machine that allows you to snap your fingers and move across the country, I will personally give you $100. But don’t spend it all in one place.

Man, this whole uprooting your family thing is stressful and complicated. Here is today’s version of the plan: This weekend Diana goes to Denver and finds a kick ass house for us to rent. The 13th, I fly to Denver to start my job. The 14th, I’m discovered as a fraud. The 18th, I fly home to do Christmas with my dad, Connie and brothers and wives and everybody. The 19th or 20th, Diana, Grover and I drive our car to Denver with a trailer holding all of my Star Wars guys. The 22rd, I fly back to Peoria to gather up the boys. The 23rd, I fly with the boys to Denver. Then we begin our lives. Whew.

Now, which do you think is the craziest part of this already crazy plan? Yep, the me flying across the country with Elijah and Luca part. We’ve done the math and it makes the slightly most sense. But my blood runs cold every time I think of it.

So I decided to do a trial run last weekend. I drove the three hours to my dad’s house, alone, with both boys. How did it go? Well, I am currently typing his entry with a pen clutched in my teeth. You see, the straight jacket isn’t very forgiving.

Let me back up. The beginning of the trip was fine. Elijah had his movies. Luca had his pacifier. I had a slight hangover. Everyone was having a great time. But around the time I actually entered the freeway (roughly 14 minutes into the trip), Eli got bored.

“Dad! I have ta pee!”

Elijah figured out that those 5 words would instantly trigger a mini adventure. An adventure including disgusting bathrooms, swearing dads and vigorous hand washing.

So he kept saying it, and saying it, and saying it. And we kept stopping and stopping and stopping.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t he put a diaper on Eli?” I. Have. No. Idea.

After 10 hours, we made it to the Chicago city limits. Of course, Eli shouted the 5 words. I pulled off, yelled, washed and got them back in their seats and attempted to get back on the highway.

“Dad?”

“No! You just peed! We are NOT pulling over!”

“Dad?”

“WHAT?”

“You didn’t put on my seatbelt.” I looked back and sure enough, he wasn’t belted in. Now, if this was 1970, that would be ok. But here in 2010, that’s an emergency. I shouted a swear, hit the gas and swung the car across traffic, desperately trying to find an off ramp.

Elijah shouted, “Dad! Mom said you have to drive slow. We’re precious cargo!”

I pulled over in a terrifically sketchy Chicago neighborhood and belted Eli. Of course, there was no way to get back on the highway. So I took my sons on a brief tour of “Places You Should Never Visit In Chicago.”

Eventually, we made it back onto the highway. I calculated that, at our current pace, we’d arrive at my dad’s in roughly 30 hours.

p.s. Diana gave Luca his first haircut yesterday. I can’t decide if he looks more like Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” or Moe from “The Three Stooges.” Either way, he looks awesome.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Word From The Dog


Man, I am the worst second son blogger on the face of the Earth. There wasn’t a single ounce of fluid that dripped from Elijah that I didn’t obsessively document. And now I let giant evolutionary leaps just fly right by. On the bright side, Luca can simply print out this entry when he heads to the psychiatrist to explain why he hates his father.

So I’m going to let Grover the dog take over the blog today. He’s much better at reporting, apparently. Take it away Grover!


Heyyyyyy everybody! It’s me! Your loveable pal Grover. I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written. You see, I’ve been a little depressed for the last year or so. The Man and the Woman went and had another hairless puppy. Almost immediately I lost another rank in the pack. Just as I was getting used to being number 4. And I didn’t even get to fight him for it. He would’ve been no match for my dog kung fu skills.

But enough about me. I have some exciting news to report about puppy number 2. He says things now! He has four official words.

His first word is “Car.” He points to that giant metal dinosaur that occasionally consumes the family in the front of the house and says, “Caarrrrr.” The Man and the Woman get very excited when he says this. Something about him being a real boy. But that’s not why I’m excited. I’ll get to that in a minute.

His second word is “Bottle.” Although he pronounces it, “Baba.” For those of you who don’t know, a “bottle” is a detached teat that puppy number 2 drinks from. It’s usually filled with delicious fluid that tastes a bit like milk. Oh, but heaven forbid I drink from it. The Man and the Woman get that deep voice when they catch me and, bam, my tail goes right between my legs.

Third word? “Up.” He says, “Uppie uppie uppie,” all day long. And then the Woman picks him up. At which point she tries to eat his face. If he really wants someone to eat him, talk to old Grover, silly. I’ll never understand humans.

Why am I excited? Because he says “Grover!” Granted, he mispronounces it. He says, “Go! Go!” It’s so adorable I want to vomit and eat it. It makes my heart swell every time he points at me and says, “Go!”

Does he say “Mommy?” Nope. “Daddy?” Not yet. “Puppy Number 1?” Not on your life, mister. Yeah, eat it, puppy number 1.

Go! Go!

Friday, November 26, 2010

ONE




I was running Grover at the church yesterday morning when our cigar chomping neighbor approached. We had that “how quickly can we end this conversation” conversation when, for lack of really anything else to day, I blurted, “It’s Luca’s birthday today.”

He looked at me like I was nuts. “It hasn’t been a year yet,” he matter of factly said and then blew smoke in my face. How on earth did this beautiful child get to be a year old? It’s as if he didn’t want to bother us with the difficulties of a newborn and just leapt to being one.

Luca woke up yesterday, like all Hamanns on their birthday, grouchy and pissy. I felt a tiny pang of joy because he was actually being kind of a jerk. I feel like he needs to jerk it up more.

I proudly exclaimed this to Diana. She said, “Have you fed him?” Oh yeah. Food. After he ate he went back to his usual good natured self. Pushing cars and saying, “Ca.”

Eventually, the obligations of Thanksgiving took over and I busied myself with making my world famous stuffing. Or rather, my co-opted from my great friend Patrick’s world famous stuffing-stuffing. Diana tried to keep us on point by making birthday cupcakes and shouting, “It’s your birthday!” every five minutes.

We carted the family to the in-laws for dinner and presents.

Here’s what I love about Luca. He’s a boy. Through and through. Which means buying him presents is incredibly easy. Cars. Cars cars cars. If it has wheels, he’ll play with it.

So we gave him a fire truck (and a ball toy which he ignored) and then we didn’t see him again for 2 hours. Why would he want to disturb our Thanksgiving meal? We tried to give him some mushed up turkey and potatoes, but he wanted to get back to his truck.

Luca made it through the ceremonial First birthday cake in typical Luca style. He carefully pushed a finger into the icing and then said, “Ca.” No matter how we tried to get him to smear the contents on himself, he refused. That would be too much trouble.

So happy birthday, Luca. I love you. I love your big, blue eyes. I love your crooked smile. I love your monkey chatter. I love your daredevil streak. I love your hatred of fuzzy clothes. I love your chuck roast feet. I love your insistence on playing in Grover’s food. I love your complete lack of need of attention. I love your ticklish belly. I love your vaguely Russian gangster appearance.

I love you, son.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Circus Peanut


Yesterday, I came to the office and started feeling a little…meh. I chalked it up to the post quitting letdown. Or possibly the intense amount of crap that has to happen before we move to Colorado was weighing on my brain.

Then I started feeling ill. Really ill. I thought, “Panic attack!” Having experienced a million panic attacks in my life, I knew the only way to get past it was to completely freak out and let it dominate my life.

But then it started to feel like an actual physical illness. Not my usual mental illness. I tried drinking water. I tried keeping my mind off it. I ate soup for lunch. Then I barfed in my office trashcan.

After hiding the vomity trash can in my neighbor’s office, I took a cab home. I found Diana splayed out on our bathroom floor. She had the same flu I did. But worse.

For the next 8 hours we took turns destroying our bathroom and generally neglecting our sons. Right around bath time I suggested we split up, so we could neglect our sons one on one. Diana took pity on me and let me have Luca duty.

I plopped him down in the boy’s room right next to my barf bucket. I moaned, “Do whatever you want…just don’t jostle daddy. Or his barf bucket.”

Luca responded, “Ca,” and began his new circus routine.

We have this bright red little art table in the center of the boy’s room. Its purpose is to mock Diana and I with its oversized white paper while Elijah covers the walls with crayon.

It has this little red chair with a big star cut out of the back that’s perfect for sitting. Luca will simply not leave it alone. For some reason, he loves to climb on the chair, stand on it and practice his balancing. Now, keep in mind Luca cannot keep his balance when he is standing on planet Earth. He can stand on his own for about .25 seconds before crashing to the ground. Why does he insist on adding the eight degrees of difficulty by standing, unaided, on a bright red chair? He even holds his arms outstretched in a “tada” pantomime. He then falls from the chair, cries, and climbs back up on top.

Last night, as he ascended the chair, I begged him, “Please don’t do your circus routine. I’m too weak to catch you.”

But no, he insisted on climbing, standing, tada-ing and falling. Over. And over.

After his fifth or sixth tada-topple, I rolled over and positioned myself under the chair. That way when he fell off, he simply landed on me, laughed at my groans and climbed back up on the chair.

Why not remove the chair? Why not throw the chair out the window? Why not burn the chair? I have no idea. Becoming a human trampoline was the only solution my fever addled brain could think of.

This weekend I’m going to rig the chair on top of a flagpole so Luca can really wow us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Pitfalls of Scaring


Every Sunday night, I like to make a semi-fancy dinner for Diana. When she’s suggested getting take out, I’ve actually whined, “Sunday dinner is the only chance I have all week to be creeeeaaative!” I wish I could take back that whine. And my manhood.

Well, last night I was stirring and stirring and stirring my delicious risotto and I could hear Diana putting the boys to sleep upstairs via the baby monitor. Among the screaming the tickling I heard Elijah announce that he had to go downstairs to go to the bathroom.

“Ahh,” I thought, “This is my chance to scare the crap out of him.” I positioned myself behind the fridge and listened to him bound down the stairs. I pictured him, floppy blond hair, noodle arms flailing, wiener also flailing.

I heard him round the corner in our living room and pad into the kitchen. I leapt out from behind the fridge and yelled, “Booo!”

Elijah did the following. In order.

1. He shrieked.
2. He jumped a foot in the air.
3. He pooped.

Now, aside from the mind-boggling grossness of what happened, we both thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I couldn’t help but say, “Eli! I just scared the crap out of you!”

He responded, “You scared me and I pooped!” Thankfully, he didn’t not commit the swear to memory.

After we got him cleaned up, I tried to send him back upstairs. But he wouldn’t let it go.

“Daddy. Scare me again! Scare me again!”

I told him that scaring the poop out of him was not cool of me to do and I was sorry. But he asked again to scare him.

I pushed his little butt up our stairs and promised I’d scare the crap out of him the next night.

I look forward to it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Denver


As you recall, we took the kids to that cabin a few months ago. Diana and I asked Elijah what he wanted to do while he was there. Go fishing? Hike? Brawl with some townies?

His reply was, “I want to see some stars.”

It hit me like a punch in the chest. My son had spent three years of his life on planet Earth without seeing an actual star.

I’d been so busy being a bigtime Chicago advertising jerk that I denying my sons their right to climb trees and catch wild animals and then get bitten by wild animals and then go to the hospital for twelve rabies shots in their stomachs.

So we decided to move the family to Denver!

Yep, instead of raising our kids to be gun toting Chicago gang members (I was hoping for Crips, Diana was hoping for Bloods), we’re going to raise our kids as pot addled ski bums.

I got a really great job at a small advertising firm not far from downtown Denver. There are enough good neighborhoods around that my commute will be less than 5 minutes. And, as everyone who I interviewed with said, “Brah, you’re like, 20 minutes from fresh powder. Brah. Brah.”

The move is not without its downside. We’ll be leaving our favorite people in the world, Uncle Steve, Aunt Pam, Finny and Rory. I’ll miss them with stabbing pains through my heart. But I’m hoping my time with them will move from several short spurts a week to long, luxurious vacations in the mountains.

And that goes for the rest of your guys. This is your official invitation. If you can drag your sorry butts to Colorado, you’re staying with me. And I’m taking you to…uh…that mountain where they do the skiing and stuff.

More details to follow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Choice


Sorry for the delay in hilarious HamannEggs posts. I’ve been up to my ears in bigtime advertising writing junk and stuff. So this story is a little late. It happened last weekend. But it involves puke, so I know you’ll want to read it.

Last Saturday, one of Elijah’s chums had a birthday party at the YMCA. Which has an endless supply of hobos who could double as clowns and pizza servers. Actually, it was pretty awesome. They brought in one of those bouncy castles to the gym and had lots of cool games like tug of war. There is nothing more hilarious than a troop of four year olds with severe rope burns.

After the bouncing and tugging, we all adjourned to the community room for more pizza, cake and cookies than twenty children could ever hope to consume. Can you see where this is going?

At about midnight, Diana and I awoke to Eli-screams. I waited in bed for Diana to calm him down. But after several minutes I realized it was more than just your garden variety ants crawling all over me dream. I entered the room and saw Luca jumping up and down in his crib and Elijah splayed out on the floor. Diana was busy mopping up the biggest barf in the history of barfs. It was as if he asked an elephant to guest barf for him.

Diana then gave me a choice. Tend to Elijah in our bed or wake up early with Luca the next morning.

I had to do some split second calculations to make it appear like I wasn’t trying to figure out how to stick Diana with the worse job. Ok, Eli had barfed. Don’t want to stay up all night with a barfer. But Luca was still in his wake up at 5:30 stage. Don’t want to wake up before the sun. But perhaps Eli was just barfy because of the pizza and cake. But also perhaps Luca would sleep in because he got woken up at midnight by barfing.

I gambled and chose Eli duty. I choice wrong.

Instead of a “I got stomach full of crap” barf, he had the “I have an actual virus” barf. Like clockwork, Elijah would scream out, waking me up out of a dead sleep and then empty whatever goo had accumulated in his stomach for the next ten minutes. I’d then clean him up. Give him some water, rock him to sleep and then doze off just in time to hear him scream out.

Two highlights:

1) I got tired of changing our puke covered bedding, so I grabbed every towel we owned and layed them in a stack on our bed. Elijah would barf and I’d simply yank of the sodden towel. I’m a genius.

2) I woke up to hear Eli heaving his guts out, but he wasn’t on the bed. I discovered him sitting on our floor, barfing into my favorite pair of blue jeans. I tried to extract them, but he wouldn’t let my Levis go and continued to fill them with barf.

Meanwhile, Luca woke up the next morning at 7:30. Happy as a clam.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beatings



People ask me, “How do Luca and Elijah get along? Do they like each other or do they fight?”

Until recently, my standard answer was, “They love each other. They never fight.”

Now, however, I’m having to adjust my answer to, “They love each other. They always fight.”

Well, not always. They seem to only fight when Diana and I are out of the room. We’ll hear a shriek and a cry and when we run into the room, Luca will be on the ground, red-faced and screaming and Eli will have the most innocent look on his face in the history of faces.

Yeah, I get it. Brothers fight. Cain, Able, Richard III and King Edward, Michael and Fredo Corleone. Even Steve and I, who have a relationship that defines the word “creepy” used to beat each other so often that the only way we’d stop is when our older brother Dave decided beat us as a change of pace. It’s part of the job requirements for being a brother.

But what bugs me is the fights are fairly mismatched. Considering only one of the two of them know they are actually fighting.

Here is a typical scenario:

Eli will be sitting at his drawing table, working on his masterpiece, “Things I Eat For Lunch,” when Luca will come scrunching up. Luca will pull himself up to see what his older brother is doing. “Oooh, crayons.” Luca will then attempt to grab a crayon from the table. At which point Elijah knocks Luca to the ground. Cry cry cry, parent enters the room, lies commence.

So we’re trying to nip this lopsided battle in the bud until Luca either learns how to walk or learns Brazilian Jujitsu. Which means Eli has been spending an inordinate amount of time in jail on the stairs. But trying to explain this to Eli has proven difficult.

“You can’t push your brother.”

“But he took my crayon.”

“That’s no reason to push him.”

“But he took my crayon.”

“Again, that is no reason to push him. You love him.”

“No I don’t.”

“Why would you say you don’t love your brother?”

“He took my crayon.”

“Go sit on the stairs.”

I’m sure this will all be resolved in the next 18 years or so.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reminder



Luca is starting to get his own tiny personality. Yeah, right now he’s still more like a puppy than a human being. But we’re starting to see what he has in store for us. I’m happy to report that those things are hilarious and poop filled.

The other day, Diana was engaged in her always losing battle to keep the house in order. Put one toy away, watch two toys come out. Clean one dish, watch two dishes shatter on the kitchen floor.

She came upon Luca, who had managed to nab her Blackberry from what was once a baby-proof locale. She wrestled it away from him (a lot more of a struggle than you’d think with an 11-month-old). Before she placed her phone in a new baby-proof locale she looked at the display.

Luca had typed “P-O-O-P.”

I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. When she told me, I was absolutely giddy that he was sending her a perfect message in four letters. Like the room full of monkeys on typewriters who write Shakespeare.

“Oh, no. That wasn’t a message to me,” she said. “It was a reminder to himself.”

Several hours later, Diana put him down naked in his room after baths and then ran downstairs to deal with whatever crisis Elijah was having.

When she got upstairs, Luca had pooped, in her words, “Three perfect poops.”

I just love the idea that Luca sent himself an email reminding himself to defecate on his floor.

The story gets a little less cute when he ground said poops into the floor and into one of Eli’s “Curious George” books.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shining Face




I think “The Shining” is the most terrifying movie ever. You can have your “Exorcists” and your “Saws.” I’m fairly convinced I’ve never seen the entire movie, unless you count watching it through the picket fence of my hand over my eyes. The thing that gets me is two, non bloody scenes. It’s when the mom, Shelley Duvall, and the boy, Danny Lloyd, in separate scenes, have the most terrified looks on their faces in the history of movie faces. It’s as if we’re watching their brains tear apart right before our eyes.

We did that to Elijah on Halloween.

Our street is lame on Halloween. We are the only house that actually encourages children to come Trick Or Treating. The rest of our neighbors board up their doors, turn off their lights and hide in their basements. As if giving out a couple pieces of candy would turn them into zombies.

So we decided to take everyone to the fun part of town. Where people actually give out pieces of candy instead of half assed excuses. I put out a bowl of candy on the front porch with a sign that read, “Please take two.” Steve and his Star Wars clad crew piled into their car and we followed them to our friends Kitty and Joe’s house.

Kitty and Joe do it up right. Their big, rambling brown house was covered in stringy cobwebs, ghosts, goblins and whatnot. They had a big fire roaring in their front lawn (probably the minorest of their infractions against Evanston laws). They had a apple bobbing bucket filled with Coors Light and, I believe, some candy somewhere in there.

Their finishing touch was a life-sized motorized zombie that crawled creepily across their sidewalk. It was bloody, grey, and as authentic as a motorized fictional character can be.

Diana and I leapt from our car, grabbed Luca and danced across the lawn, congratulating Kitty and Joe on their creepy masterpiece.

Someone was missing from our celebration. Namely, Elijah. We turned around and looked in the car. He was having a real-life conniption fit. The motorized zombie had snapped something in his psyche. He put those movie Shining faces to shame.

I thought for a moment that he was being a drama queen. But after attempting to drag him out of the car, I could tell he was freaking terrified of the zombie. He kicked his legs, bugged out his eyes and screamed the most desperate scream in the world.

Diana decided to hide the zombie by putting Elijah’s Star Wars mask over its face. “See? He’s a Star Wars zombie!” That seemed to make things worse. Elijah was close to hyperventilating.

Joe turned the zombie off and we managed to get Eli out of the car. But he was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. All he could do was mumble, “Caaandy. Caandy.”

We made it around Kitty and Joe’s block without any other incident, but I kept asking Elijah if he knew where he with us and not slipped into some parallel universe of terror.

Eventually, we drove back to our house for some Hamann fun, red wine and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” on a constant loop on the TV.

When we got home, I noticed that some kids had ignored our “Please take two” candy sign and had cleaned us out. Then I made my own Shinning face.

p.s. PUMPKINS!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Han Literally Solo


Lots of awesome stuff to write about Halloween, gang. So much funny that I’m going to break this up into a few easily digestible, Snickers fun-sized pieces.

A few weeks ago, Elijah and I visited the formerly abandoned storefront that was converted into one of those giant costume warehouses. We b-lined right past all the gore and found the Star Wars wall. Eli picked out his Clone Trooper costume and the most annoying laser gun in the history of man. I then turned my attention to the adult Star Wars costume.

There it was. Han Solo. Captain of the Millennium Falcon. I had to have it.

Eli tried to convince me to go as Darth Vader, but I ignored him and cradled my Han outfit.

CUT to two weeks later. Eli and I drove to his school’s Halloween party. We were both giddy at year two of matching outfits. Remember last year’s Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat?

Hold on a second. I know there are some of you out there who are thinking, “Hey, Han Solo was never in the same movie as the Clone Troopers. You weren’t matching.” To which I say, “Shut up, nerds.”

Once again, I was basically the only parent who dressed up. Dad who dressed up in a suit? You don’t count.

I walked in, no, strutted in. I was all swagger, as if I just got done helping Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. The first mom who spotted me said, “Hey, nice pirate costume!”

What? No! I wasn’t a pirate. I was Han Solo. Captain of the Millennium Falcon. Ok. Yes. My Han Solo costume was basically an open white shirt, blue vest and dark trousers. And I refused to shave my beard. So there definitely was a bit of Captain Hook going on. But I was with a Clone Trooper!

But I wasn’t. The major difference between this year and last year was last year Elijah was scared and shy. So I held him the entire time. It was a lot easier to get Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat when we were both together. This year, the minute we hit the party Eli took off to be chased by constant stream of girls shouting, “Eeeeeeeli!”

I found myself alone, in the corner and sweating in my polyester outfit. I could feel the other parents’ eyes on me. “What’s up with the weird pirate?” they all seemed to think.
Occasionally, I’d try to nap Eli and force him into standing next to me. But after a few seconds, some cute girl in a “Toy Story ‘Jessie’” outfit would yank him away. My face burned. I began a paranoid spiral where I imagined all the other parents laughing and pointing. I imagined them starting a “Rick is a total dork” club and I was the only one not invited.

A full hour before the party was over, I reached my limit of completely unwarranted humiliation and I lied to my son, saying the party was over and it was time to go home. He shrieked, “Noooo!” and I physically had to remove him from his friends.

As I dragged Elijah out the front door, kicking and screaming, I passed by a mom who was eating a cupcake.

“Nice pirate costume.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Platypus


Elijah has been sleeping in lately. What used to be 6am has drifted gleefully into the 7:30 range. But Luca has been reading “Murphy’s Law: A Baby’s Guide.” So he offsets the new Elijah wake up time by getting up for good at 5:30am.

After changing him and letting him point at my nose a few times, I descend the stairs with Luca and turn on the TV. Inevitably, it will be an infomercial for one of those extremely intense work out systems featuring very fat people who, over the course of one editorial wipe, turn into very thin people who yell a lot. I typically think about working out for 15 whole seconds before opting to lay on the couch.

Sooner or later, I have to shower. Despite being a very advanced baby, I don’t feel comfortable leaving Luca alone while I bathe. I think the Department of Child and Family Services would agree. So I have no other choice but to take him into the bathroom with me.

Here is where I run into problems. Luca doesn’t understand the word “no,” yet. It means as much to him as yelling “platypus” when he does something wrong. And oh, there are lots of things to yell “platypus” at in the bathroom.

Take this morning. After rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, I peeked out of the curtain just in time to see Luca finish unrolling and entire toilet paper roll onto the floor. Platypus!

At which point he moved on to dipping a hand into the toilet. Double Platypus!

Luca then crawled over to the shower curtain and played peek-a-boo with me as I shaved my legs. I mean beard. That is definitely not a “platypus” activity. What’s the opposite of “platypus?” “Pinot Noir?”

But then Luca got really interested in the stuff happening inside the shower. So he tried to join me by climbing into the tub (platypus!). That’s all well and good unless you are wearing a flannel pajama set.

I grabbed him, getting him even more wet (platypus daddy!) and plopped him back down in the center of the bathroom floor. Which made the bathroom floor very, very wet. I made a mental note of blaming the wet floor on Elijah when Diana discovered it.

Luckily, he got the point and moved away from the tub and began using our toilet bowl cleaner as a baton.

PLATYPUS!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Abracadabra


To tell you the honest truth, I was getting a little nervous about Elijah’s imagination. He just wasn’t using it. And to me, an imagination is more valuable than a million dollar pitching arm (unless he gets into the pros, then I say bring it on). Whenever I suggested pretending, he’d say, “Can we watch TV?”

Thankfully, he’s been starting to pretend things. Okay, mostly things that involve being a cast member from a certain movie that involves stars. And wars. But I’ll take it. Even if it means getting bashed repeatedly by a plastic lightsaber. Or getting bashed repeatedly with a stick substituting for a lightsaber.

The other day, Eli, Luca and I were playing in their room. Which means I lay on my back and listen to sports talk radio and let both of them jump on my stomach. It’s a great ab workout. Suddenly, Eli picked up a drumstick and stared waving it around. I was thinking, “Great. Time to get lightsabered.”

But then he started yelling, “Abracadabra! I turn daddy into a frog!” I thought, “Oooh. Time to show the boys my awesome acting skills.” And I leapt around the room eating bugs and ribbit-ing enthusiastically.

It turned into a hilarious game where Eli would think of an animal, abracadabra me, and watch me make a complete fool out of myself.

After he exhausted his knowledge of animals, things got a little weird. He tried so hard to think of things to turn me into, but could only find inspiration in his room.

“Abracadabra! I turn daddy into a…book! Abracadabra! I turn daddy into a…crayon. Abracadabra! I turn daddy into a…ceiling fan.”

I was tough to find use my method acting stills for inanimate objects. I found myself saying, “Hey everybody! I’m a book. You can…uh, read me and stuff.”

For some reason, Elijah thought that was just as hilarious as watching me on all fours, chewing my cud. So I had to pretend I was a photograph and a rocking chair and a Diaper Genie.

I got tired of the game way before he did, so I yanked the drum stick/magic wand out of his hands and said, “Abracadabra! I turn Eli into a monkey!” Watching your son run around the room screaming, “I’m a monkey,” is the greatest. Almost as great as watching him run around the exact same way and scream, “I’m a donkey!” Or “I’m a bookshelf (turns out my list of animals is just as short as Eli’s).

We then turned our dark arts on Luca. He did a fantastic job of pretending he was a baby.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mt. Stairmore


This morning, I was putting on my special orange socks in our room. They’re special because they’re orange.

Suddenly, I heard a crash and a shriek from the bottom of the stairs. I ran, naked except for a single orange sock, to the shrieking. I found Luca trapped under a fallen baby gate. He had pulled down the one protecting the bottom of our stairs. He wasn’t hurt, but angry because he couldn’t crawl out from under it. I paused for a moment, marveling at just how much he looked like a bug caught under a fly swatter.

I was not surprised at his accident. Because for the last week or so Luca has been obsessed with our stairs. Or as I like to call them, “Mt. Stairmore.”

No amount of blockade can keep this kid from climbing the stairs. He simply MUST climb them. Why? Because they’re there.

So last Saturday, after unsuccessfully attempting to block his path to the stairs with sandbags, barbed wire and an electric fence, I gave up.

“You want to climb the stairs so badly? Go ahead. See if I care.” Reverse Psychology 101.

He got a steely look in his eye. And he mounted Mt. Stairmore. I acted as Sherpa. Which meant placing my hand two inches away from his bottom in case he decided to fall backwards (Hence my motto, “not on my watch”).

After a while, a long while, he made it to our landing. “You did it!” I said, “Now we can all go on with our lives. I think Angelina Ballerina is on TV.”

But no. He wasn’t done. He was going full staircase.

The second set of stairs was far more difficult. Yes, because it is roughly twice the distance as the ones leading to the landing. But now, there were interested parties.

I’m sure climbing your first set of stairs is tough enough. But imagine doing it with your three year old brother screaming in your face, “LUCA! YOU’RE CLIMBING THE STAIRS!” Add to that a massive black dog whose tail just happens to be at perfect face-whacking height.

He stopped halfway up the second set and caught his breath. “It’s ok, buddy. You’ll get him next time.” I patted him oh so patronizingly on the head.

But then in a spurt that would’ve made Jon Krakauer proud, he scaled the last few feet to the summit. I proudly opened the baby gate and we all cheered.

I then scolded us all for waking up mommy so early on a Saturday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back and Forth


Remember that episode of “Family Ties” where Alex P. Keaton takes two girls to the prom and has to run back and forth to keep both his dates happy? No? Well, do you remember that episode of “Brady Bunch” where Peter takes two girls to the prom and has to run back and forth to keep both his dates happy? No? Well, they were funny.

I felt very much like Alex/Peter last Saturday night. Once again Diana had to attend wine class all day and then had to teach wine class all night. Sometimes I think she just makes these things up so she can get out of the house and I get angry that I didn’t think of it first.

Towards the end of the night, I got myself into a little pickle. Luca was exhausted from trying to climb Mt. Stairmore all day. So I took him upstairs and tried to get him ready for bed.

Now, where the cucumber turned to a pickle is the Elijah situation. He runs about a ½ hour behind Luca in the going to bed timeline. So while I was trying to get Luca to stop yelling at me, Elijah was left to his own devices downstairs in the tub.

While Luca was pointing at my nose, I’d got the distinct feeling that Elijah was pouring gallons of water onto our bathroom floor. So I told him, “Hold a sec,” and raced down the stairs. I’d found Eli debating the finer points of tub peeing with his rubber ducky and I breathlessly said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I ok.”

Then I got a vivid mental image of Luca doing a handstand on the top of the baby gate at the top of our stairs. I ran, three steps at a time, back up to Luca. He, of course, was busy banging a wooden block onto a plastic block. I then stuffed him into his PJs.

Did I just hear Eli open the front door and run naked into the street?

Thankfully, after sliding to a stop in the bathroom while clutching my heart, I found Eli still in the tub sucking the filthy bath water out of a wash cloth. Gross, but at least he was inside.

I did this run back and forth at least 5 more times, all the while concocting bigger and more destructive fantasies of what my well behaved sons were up to. By the time I had the mental image of Eli shaving Grover with our butter knife, I was exhausted.

I eventually fell to a heap on our bed after getting both boys in bed. I don’t know how Diana does it.

p.s. Today’s photo is from my new expensive feature on my iphone camera that makes your photos look purposely crappy. Ain’t technology great?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sink


Luca, my son. You may notice that there hasn’t been a ton of coverage of you since you were born. The weight of the blog always seems to be about your brother Elijah. This is not, I repeat, not because we don’t love you. It’s because you are so good. Mark Twain said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.” Now, I assume you’ll be soon into the stage where your antics are immensely blog worthy. But at your current stage of goodness, all I can blog about is your adorable pointing and even more adorable nose-grabbing. Which, unfortunately doesn’t make for funny posts. But the fact that you don’t do horribly hilariously tragic things is why I love you.

Which leads me to today’s post.

I received an email from Diana yesterday. The contents were simply a video. Now, I don’t post video to HamannEggs. Mostly because I eventually turn these posts into book form and video doesn’t work in paper. But it’s also because I don’t really know how to post video to the site.

So, I will now attempt to describe the contents of the video.

We open on the point of view of a mom. She is walking through our kitchen. We see our cabinets. We see a high chair.

Suddenly, the camera pans to our bathroom entrance. Through the doorway, we reveal Elijah Steven Hamann. He is sitting in our bathroom sink. He is fully clothed and covered in dirt. The sink is halfway full of muddy water.

The light flicks on (Diana loves proper lighting) and Elijah looks into camera with a “Oops” expression. Diana says, “Um. Turn that light on,” and Eli complies by flicking the switch next to the mirror.

Diana says, “Can you tell the folks at home what you’re doing?”

Elijah, trying not to laugh, says, “Sitting in the sink.”

“Why are you sitting in the sink?”

“Because I want to wash myself off. Because look (he lifts a soggy shoe out of the water) I got dirty.”

“How did you get all dirty?”

“Because I was making some cakes…in the dirt.”

“You were making some dirt cakes?”

Elijah cracks a crooked smile. “Yeah.”

“Did they taste good?”

Elijah mumbles something while dipping his hands into the filthy water.

“And can you also tell the folks at home why you are in our sink rather than our tub?”

Elijah responds by turning on the water in the sink. The sink continues to fill with water. “Because I’m filling it up. (Garbled) My shoes!”

The camera focuses on the filthy water, Eli’s filthy shoes. And the mud and dirt caked on the sink.

“My socks!”

Diana says, “Mhmm. Mhmm.” Elijah attempts to stand up, revealing his soaked bottom. She moans, “Elijah…”

The camera pans back out, again revealing the filthy mess.

Diana says, “Not good.”

“Why?”

“Because you are making a big mess.”

Elijah says, “Huh?” And then looks around in genuine surprise that he was responsible for the destruction of our bathroom.

Eli then looks down from the sink, realizing that he has no real way down from the sink. The camera shows the distance from the sink to the floor. Diana says, “And it’s a long way down.”

Fade to black.

Here is the actual link if you want to see it in non-book form: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54798788@N06/5078486836/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Instructions


Last Saturday, it was gorgeous. Sunny. 80 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky. So naturally Elijah, Finn, Rory and Luca wanted to sit in our darkened living room in front of television all day.

But after much dragging, yanking and pulling, we went out back to play in the yard.

Eli and Finn played Star Wars. Steve and I drank beer and talked about Star Wars. Luca and Rory discussed their plans to escape their nerd relatives.

Suddenly, I heard, “Rick? Rick?” from over the fence. It was our 5-year-old neighbor Molly, who wanted to come over and play. I said, “Sure. Knock yourself out,” and opened the side gate.

Molly gathered the kids and suggested they all play a game. Her first thought was baseball. Both Elijah and Finn looked at her like she was speaking a foreign language.

“You guys don’t know how to play baseball?” Finn and Eli continued to stare blankly at her.

While Molly taught my son and nephew how to play our nation’s pastime, I began to imagine where I’d put my “Worst Father Ever” statuette. It never dawned on me that part of my duty as a father was to, in fact, teach my son how to play sports and other icky stuff.

Feeling an intense desire to overcompensate for my lack of father-ness, I leapt off the deck and volunteered to pitch. It was not long before Eli and Finn decided it was a lot more fun to use the Wiffle bat as a lightsaber.

Molly, ever the sports optimist, then suggested they all play soccer. Eli and Finn stopped in their tracks. Again, struck dumb by their father’s complete lack of instruction on, well, anything.

“You guys don’t know how to play soccer?” Molly asked. With silence as her answer, she audibly sighed and began to cement her role as the boys’ true father figure.

I announced the fact that, like all true Americans, I knew nothing about soccer and rejoined Steve in our discussion “Chewbacca versus Darth Vader: who would win in arm wrestling?”

p.s. I cannot take all the credit for Eli’s lack of sports knowledge. This is how his mother allows him to leave the house.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicken Dance




Thank you everyone who responded so nicely to my last post. I got reactions ranging from laughter to concern to a request to use the story as a way of illustrating Schizophrenia to grad students. I hope I can horribly disappoint you with today’s post.

In one of the more cute things that’s happened in recent memory, Luca dances now. If you put music on, he bounces on his tiny butt and waves his arms like wings. He looks like an adorable little chicken. Which means he looks like the exact opposite of an actual chicken.

Luca has just gotta dance. I mean physically. He needs to dance in the same way he needs to breathe in Oxygen and breathe out Carbon Dioxide. I don’t even think he likes to dance. It’s completely involuntary. Play your ipod? Flap flap flap. A terrible jingle blares out the TV? Flap flap flap. If you hum a jaunty tune? Flap flap flap.

That’s actually the way I figured out Luca dances out of Pavlovian compulsion. I was in the bathroom the other morning and I heard the “screench screench screench” of Luca crawling in to join me (another one of his compulsions is the need to touch our toilet. But that’s another blog entry). I looked down with a mouth filled with mouthwash and Luca looked up at me, pointed and smiled.

I tried to communicate with him, which was hard to do with a mouth full of Scope. My end of the conversation ended up being humming through my clamped lips. But to Luca’s ears, it must have been music because he started flapping. I immediately laughed, spitting Scope all over the mirror.

I hummed, he flapped. I hummed, he flapped. This went on until he reared his head back to laugh and smashed his skull in the porcelain germ center.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homeless Hero


Making it through a Saturday without the help of Diana is hard. Very hard. By midday, I’m usually in full yell mode and the house is typically on fire.

But last Saturday, I decided to take the degree of difficulty up several hundred notches. By taking both boys to a friends’ Oktoberfest party across town. Via the bus. This is the juggling equivalent of going from one rubber ball to ten flaming axes while riding a unicycle on a high wire. And the high wire is on fire. And the unicycle is on fire.

Almost immediately after strapping Luca to my chest and shoving Elijah out the door I realized I was making a huge mistake. It took us 10 minutes to make it past our neighbor’s front door (see my post on Lollygaggers).

After completing my transition from brown to grey hair, we arrived at the bus stop. The only person in line was a massive, bearded homeless guy. He was as big as a house and in full catatonic mode. Elijah attempted to strike up conversation. “Hi. I Eli!” But the man just stared straight ahead, listening to the secret telepathic messages being beamed into his brain by the local squirrel population.

I looked down the street. No sign of the bus for miles and miles. Eli could sense that there would be a wait because he started acting like a goof ball. He started running around this big green transformer thing and playing “Hide From Daddy.”

And with 100 pounds of Luca strapped to my chest, I couldn’t keep up. He’d zig, I’d zag. I began to panic because we were at the intersection of two of the busiest streets in Evanston.

Suddenly, Eli bolted for the street.

I shouted, “Freeze!” But Eli kept running with a full head of steam. He had a good three steps on me.

Just as he reached the curb, a massive paw stopped him in his tracks. The catatonic homeless guy had snapped out of it and physically prevented Eli from living out my worst nightmare.

I snatched Eli, turned to the homeless guy and gushed, “Thank you thank you thank you, homeless guy. I reaaaaaally appreciate it.”

But the homeless guy had already snapped back into catatonic mode. He wouldn’t acknowledge me or Eli, despite Eli’s mimicking of my gratitude, “Tank you man. Tank you.”

We eventually got on the bus and the homeless guy started raving to the bus driver. I kind of wanted to tell the driver that the homeless guy had just saved my son’s life. But like all people who fear conflict, I quietly pretended to adjust Luca’s collar while he was tossed from the bus.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lollygagger



I finally got the flu, gang. It stinks. Except for the not going to work and getting to spend the whole day in bed eating soup and playing on the internet part. But I find it difficult to write without, you know, throwing up. I tried to get Grover to do one of his guest blogger pieces, but he’s still mad at me for having a second baby.

As I’ve been laying up here sweating, I’ve been able to hear the delightful caterwauling of the kids downstairs. But at about 3pm, Diana tried to get the kids dressed and ready to go to Target. “Elijah, get your shoes on. Elijah, get your shoes on….”

I dozed off into a fever sleep and woke up at 3:55. Diana still hadn’t gotten Eli out the door. “Elijah, get your shoes on. Elijah, get your shoes on.”

Our son has become the King Of The Lollygaggers. I can’t decide if it’s because he knows it drives us crazy or if it’s because TV has shredded his attention span.

Last weekend, in order to give Diana a sick break, I took Luca, Elijah and Grover on a simple walk around the block. After forcibly cramming him into shoes and a jacket, we walked outside. This is how it went:

I’d walk 50 yards with Grover and Luca and wait. And wait. And wait. Eli would walk two steps and examine a leaf. Then he’d grab a stick that looked “exactly like a Star Wars gun, daddy!” And shoot passersby. And then he’d fall to the ground, dead. And then he’d crawl two steps. And then he’d notice an anthill. He’d have a heart to heart with the ants and then take another step. Where, inevitably there would be an interesting leaf.

At this point my patience would be evaporated and I’d stomp over and grab his hand to drag him along our walk. Holding his father’s hand flies in the face of his idea of walking, so he’d howl that he wouldn’t lollygag anymore and keep up as long as he didn’t have to pass me his flu germs.

Eventually, I’d relent and let him have his hand back. Eli would actually keep up for a…

Hey, that leaf looks awesome.

p.s. Today’s photo is the result of Diana allowing Elijah to dress himself for school. It must have been “Teenage Thai Prostitute Day.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Standing



Even though we’ve been home for less than two days, the fantastic memories from our vacation have been pushed aside to make room for the horrible flu that’s ravaging the Hamann house. This vile bug has picked off everyone. Eli, Diana, Luca.

Everyone except me. I feel like the last man in a zombie movie. Armed only with a gallon of Purel and a delicious Spanish red wine.

But I wanted to give you an update on Luca’s bag o’ tricks.

He points now. Thank goodness he only uses this power for good. Because the sight of him giving you the finger with that big lopsided grin can explode your heart. God have mercy if he gives you the double barrel fingers. Last night, when he was covered in his own vomit and possibly the largest diarrhea in the history of man, he still managed to point at me, smile, and say, “Gee.”

The best is when he gives you the old “E.T.” He loves it when you return his point and touch fingers. He laughs. You laugh. You promise to buy him a yacht. He hopefully eventually forgets you promised to buy him a yacht.

Not content with crawling, Luca also stands now. Which delights him to no end. He gets so excited by his own balancing act that he clucks like a chicken. His standing also results in lots of falling. So he has a permanent bruise on his forehead. But it also resulted in this story:

The other night, while Diana was in bed with the bug, I was in charge of getting both boys put to bed after baths. I raced Luca up the stairs and plopped him down and locked the baby gate.

I snatched up Elijah and shoved him (maybe a little too hard) towards the stairs so I could make the nighttime milk run.

When I rushed back, I found Eli laughing hysterically on one side of the gate at Luca, who was standing on the other side of the gate. Luca was engaged in what we like to call “The Naked Crazies.”

I said, “Eli, keep him crazy. I’m going to get the camera.”

Having no luck in my short search for the camera, I grabbed my phone and raced towards the stairs. I heard a horrific shriek. An Eli shriek. I thought for a moment that I’d be spending the evening at the Evanston hospital.

But then I saw it. Eli had taken a direct hit of pee from Luca. After the initial shock, he found it as hilarious as I did. Luca found it to be funniest of all. Probably because it was his pee.

Eli and I marveled at the ferocity of Luca’s pee. He must have nailed every stair down to the first landing. I congratulated him on his pee. And then I calculated whether pee was something you had to actually clean up from carpet or if I could just let it dry.

I wont tell you what I decided. But next time you’re over and smell pee, it was Grover.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fishing



For Diana, one of the selling points of our South Haven vacation cabin was its proximity to fishing. She thought this was a can’t miss father/son activity. The kind of bonding activity that we’d both remember for years to come. Provided I blogged about it. She even went so far as to purchase a childrens’ fishing pole and tackle box.

Now, considering I referred to the fishing pole as a “fish stick,” the chances that this father and son moment would include the actual catching of a live animal were very slim. And I meant to keep it that way. The thought of me mincing around a hooked bluegill was not the image I wanted my son to have of his father. But I had to at least make it look good.

I asked one of the Lexus driving locals where the nearest fishing hole was. She explained that it was off season and there was no fish to be had. Perfect. I explained to her that it was just for show and I had any actual interest in the physical act of fishing. This was a photo op.

She suggested we fish in the nearby creek. She said it was perfect because it was filtered water from the nearby nuclear power plant.

Um. What? We were cabining near a nuclear power plant? The woman was kind enough to point to the massive cooling tower over the ridge. Her handyman companion said, “Yeah, you may just hook one of them three eyed mutant fish.” Spare me the Simpsons references, townie.

Anyhoo, Elijah, Diana, Luca and I trekked down to the place where the nuclear stream met Lake Michigan. Eli was elated at the prospect of netting a shark or a whale. Diana was elated at the prospect of photographing Eli’s first fishing outing. Luca was elated at the prospect of eating sand.

I looked at Eli’s kid tackle box and selected a bright yellow lure. I attached it to his line and showed him how to cast.

And then we were fishing. Really fishing. I began to actually relax and enjoy this moment. Fishing isn’t about killing a lesser animal. It’s about fathers and sons sitting together and not talking to each other. I welled up at the sight of my son saying, “Where are you, fishes?” I suddenly desperately wanted him to catch a fish. I wanted him to boat a marlin that day.

But as I looked down at the 3 inches of nuclear water, I knew he’d have to wait another day.

Eli eventually got bored of not catching any fish and announced that he had to pee. So I taught him something I was an expert at: urinating under rich peoples’ docks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Luca Got Christened


We’re heading off to vacation, gang. So I won’t be able to report the comings and goings of poop and pee this week. I imagine the 17 people who follow the blog will fall to negative two. But who needs ya?

Where was I? Oh, bringing the boy into the church. No surprise, but Luca’s biggest religious day to date began with Elijah. Vomiting all over our bed. I blamed it on him chugging from my bedside water bottle all morning and yelled at him thusly.

It turned out that Eli was, in fact, sick. So most of Luca’s Christening day was spent following Eli around with a bucket and carpet cleaner.

Around 3 pm, Diana’s folks arrived to drive with us to the church. Luca was dressed in a blue shirt and sweater to bring out his eyes. The Lord likes coordination. I declared Eli okay to attend the ceremony. Eli responded by vomiting all over our couch.

Diana’s dad Don leapt to the rescue. He would stay at home with boy #1. The fact that the Bears were in a tight game against the Cowboys had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.

CUT to the church. Our small, but powerful contingent was all there. Luca was in great spirits.

And, I say this with almost 100% certainty, I believe the priest liked Luca best. He gave Luca an extra portion of scented oils. And I am sure the priest winked at him when he delivered his sermon. This story was most likely repeated among the parents of all the other kids. But they lie.

Luca and the priest had a falling out the minute the dunking occurred. Luca decided at that very moment that being nude in front of 50 or so strangers and the indignity of getting ½ submerged in holy water was too much.

Luca cried until we held him upside down. At which point he laughed. He loves being upside down. I couldn’t help but feel it was semi sacrilegious having an upside down baby at church, but whatever.

We all high tailed it back to the house for that most Christian of meals, wine and pulled pork sandwiches.

We were greeted by Don, who instead of his suit, was wearing one of my towels around his waist.

I thought, “Sheesh, the Bears winning is exciting. But not THAT exciting.”

It turns out Elijah had puked on him with such ferocity that it rendered his suit unwearable. I think Don burned it in the yard.

We scrambled to find Don something that was more appropriate to Luca’s Christening than my white towel. We opted for my old blue bathrobe.

The rest of the evening was spent with some of my favorite people eating and drinking and laughing at Don’s expense. And if that isn’t evidence of a higher power, I don’t know what is.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Missions


A few months ago, Diana was trying in vain to entertain Elijah at the Evanston library. Suddenly, a (these are Diana’s words) completely nerdy 5 year old latched on to our son. He suggested they play “Spy.” Not knowing what a spy was or how one plays it, Elijah immediately accepted the invitation.

Diana, seeing an opportunity to not have to constantly entertain the boy, let Eli go off with the nerdling. What Diana didn’t know is playing “Spy” involved the nerdling proclaiming Diana their boss. Which meant she had to send them off on missions.

At first, she was into it. “Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find me a monkey wearing a sweater. An argyle sweater.”

But after a while, she became bored with her role as mission giver outer and started phoning it in. “Uh, find me a book. Or not. I don’t care.”

The nerdling whined that Diana wasn’t fulfilling her job as spy boss. Diana told him it would take one phone call for him to get reassigned to a listening outpost in Siberia.

But the spy game had an affect on Elijah. He loves being assigned missions at the house. “What’s my mission? What’s my mission?”

We’ve found this to be a great distraction tool on long road trips. Where his missions exclusively involve finding things in the passing scenery.

Given the fact that his viewing radius is roughly 2X2 feet from his carseat, we make it fairly easy for him. I look ahead a block or so and spot a bicyclist or a Target store or anything else that will pass directly in front of his face roughly 2 seconds later.

It ever ceases to amaze him that the thing I just asked him to locate just happens to be right under his nose.

But, like the library, his ability to keep asking to play the world’s easiest game doesn’t ebb.

“What’s my mission? What’s my mission?”

So after the second straight hour, we get into the “Find me a black car” phase.

“Find me a black car.”

“Found one! What’s my mission?”

“Find me a…white car.”

“Found one! What’s my mission? What’s my mission? What’s my mission? What’s my mission?”

Then comes the cheerful suggestion that we play “Who can stay quiet the longest?”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reunion


Sorry gang. I was in Germany this week, suffering through some fairly crippling jetlag, mixed with some fairly inedible Business Class food. You now have my official permission to punch me for complaining about Business Class.

I arrived home yesterday at 1pm, which felt like 34am. I swung open the door and waited for my family to cover me with their love. And waited. And waited.

But the house was empty.

My heart began to ache. Instead of a spastic 3 year old, an overly optimistic 9 month old, a lovely 30 something year old and a homosexual goldendoodle, I got a silent, yet slightly destroyed house.

I started to have a mini panic attack. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t watch TV. I couldn’t open a bottle of beer (we didn’t have any). I wandered around the house, dabbing my tears with wooden toy blocks and Star Wars guys. I really needed to see the family unit.

Suddenly, I saw our black WV pull up in front of the house. Diana began the ritual of extracting the boys from car seats. I ran out onto the porch and yelled, “Heyyyyyy you guys!”

Diana lit up and greeted me with a kiss. She handed me Luca, who smiled the greatest smile in the history of the world and said, “Dada.” Yeah, it was more of a baby babble “Dadadadadadadadadada.” But to me he was greeting me by name.

And then Elijah leapt out of the car. Diana said, “Look Eli! You dad is home from Germany!” I shouted, “Come here, Eli! Give me a hug!”

Eli shouted, “Daddy! Can I play wif your phone?”

2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Grover didn’t arrive home until an hour or so later. His response to me being home was the usual uncontrollable humping.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Watch


Look, I know. Kids will be kids. They’ll fall out of trees. They’ll break their arms. They’ll get huge gashes that need twenty stitches. But I have a hard and fast rule that governs all my child raising: NOT ON MY WATCH.

I don’t want to be the one who contributed to their life-changing injuries. More over, I don’t want to be in attendance of their life-changing injuries. Does that make me an overprotective parent? Sure. I’ll gladly accept that label while Diana sits in the emergency room.

Last weekend I almost blew my one and only rule.

Here’s how it went down. I had Luca on the changing table and removed his (thankfully) pee filled diaper. I reached over to the trusty Diaper Genie and attempted to plop the sogginess into open lid. But it wouldn’t fall in. There was a pair of sweat pants jammed in there. Elijah sweatpants.

Look, we’ve all been there. You have an accident in your sweatpants and you want to hide the evidence. So you jam them into a garbage can. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Most of us just haven't done it during an NCAA game at Murphy's Pub. I've said too much.

I quickly became engaged in a tug of war with the Diaper Genie. It simply would not release the sweatpants. I yanked and yanked.

And then I saw Luca fall off the changing table out of the corner of my eye.

Luckily, I have cat-like reflexes. So I stuck my leg out and pinned him to the side of the table. This prevented him from falling all the way to the floor. But it also prevented him from not getting completely smooshed into the changing table.

He cried. I hugged. He cried. I kissed. He cried. I shushed.

Ask any parent. Every kid falls off the changing table. It’s a rite of passage. Elijah famously fell off the changing table when he was roughly the same age as Luca. BUT IT WASN”T ON MY WATCH. It was Kitty’s fault.

But this one was all me.

p.s. Bestest picture ever.