Friday, February 26, 2010

Bob Peterson

I just gotta write this down. I was in a meeting when I saw on my iphone that Diana had called my office. I ducked out and checked my messages. This is what I heard from Diana, pretty much word for word:

“Hey, it’s me it’s 5:20. If I get killed today, it was Bob Peterson of Bob Peterson plumbing or something like that. I Googled ‘Evanston Plumbers’ and he came up, so…why is Bob Peterson the plumber coming over? Because Eli flushed a whole roll of toilet paper down the drain. So that’s that. Ok! Come home!”

Sometimes blog entries are as easy as listening to your voicemail.

p.s. Luca is still the best baby in the world.


So Elijah has a new joke. From the sound of it, I assume his mother taught it to him. It goes like this: “Why do chickens sit on eggs?” (Don’t wait for your listener’s answer) “Because they don’t have any chairs!”

It’s actually a pretty funny joke. Made even funnier by Eli’s punch line delivery. He delivers the line in a coked-up 1980’s comedian style. He runs the words together, half shouting.

The best part is Eli has a hard time remembering the actual joke. So he takes to running his words together and mixes them with pure gibberish.

So it goes a little like this:

“Why chickens (garble garble) eggs? Theydon’thaveanychairs!”

So often the joke’s listener would feign laughter because they feel he has come to the punch line. Or they’ll look to me as a joke translator.

I’m not sure what that has to do with this next story, except they both involve Elijah speaking.

As I said in the last post, we’re trying again to sell our house. We get our real estate advice from Sisyphus. But this time we’ve enlisted the help of an actual realtor. Because what makes more sense than selling a house you’re sure to lose money on? Paying someone to do it.

Well, our realtor is actually a really nice guy and is bending over backwards to get our place sold. Part of the process was Diana taking him through the house to show him all the improvements we made.

As Diana went through the kitchen, pointing out our additions, “We added air conditioning…We replaced all the cabinets and painting them white…” Elijah walked along side offering his own tour of the house.

“This is Grover. He’s black…”

Ok. Hold on. Stop. I have to interrupt the story for a second. Whenever I leave town for business, Diana misses me, for sure. Eli and Luca could care less. But the family member who has the toughest time with me gone is Grover. He gets really depressed and gets a nervous stomach. He actually poops in our basement. I can’ tell you how happy that makes me. Except for the fact that Diana usually makes me clean it up when I get home.

Back to the story. When the tour of the house arrived in the basement, Diana pointed out our old water heater, and our storage and whatnot. But Elijah continued his tour as well, pointing out places where Grover pooped.

“Grover pooped there. He also pooped over there. And there…”

p.s. Bonus Eli story.

This morning when Eli woke up, I went in his room and rocked him on his chair for a couple minutes. Suddenly, he leapt off. He frowned and said, “That smells bad.”

I said, “What smells bad?”

He waved his hand in my general direction and said, “Your…whole…self,” and then he walked out of the room.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great Escape

Both of you loyal HamannEggs readers will recall that we failed at getting Elijah to sleep in his big boy bed/closet and resorted to putting him back into a crib equipped with a crib tent. Which is essentially a tent that, uh, goes over the crib and stuff. It features a zipper entrance that can only be accessed from the outside.

It worked remarkably well for quite a while. You English majors out there will notice a little “ed” at the end of the word “worked” in that sentence. The other night I awoke at 4am to find Eli standing at the side of our bed, eye to eye with me. Rather than scream, which is my legal right when frightened out of a deep slumber, I kissed him full on the mouth. The grossness of that action was enough to make him scurry back into his room.

Later that morning, I marveled at how this kid could get out of a strong, double stitched nylon tent that has no conceivable mode of exit for a two year old. I imagined him working with a team of other POW’s to create a tunnel under his crib, forge documents, make civilian clothing, procure contraband, and prevent the guards from discovering his work. I imagined him repeatedly caught by guards and thrown into solitary with only his baseball and glove as company.

But when I looked closely, I discovered he gnawed through the nylon just above the zipper. Maybe gnawed is an exaggeration. I think he kicked a hole through it. But the fact that he worked it out in his head to punch a hole in the exact right spot and then painstakingly unzip the zipper was awesome.

So we decided to ditch the tent. Eli has adjusted fairly well to his new freedom. Occasionally we’ll hear him pop out of his crib and goof around late at night, but by the time I climb the stairs and burst into his room to yell, he’s always back in his crib feigning sleep.

This morning, I had to wake up for a painfully early conference call. I attempted to creep by Eli’s door so as not to wake him, but he heard me and started loudly shouting his desire to watch Curious George cartoons. Not wanting him to wake Diana or Luca, I tried to open his door to shush.

The little bugger had locked it from the inside. I could hear him laughing in his crib as I struggled to pop the lock.

p.s. We’re trying again to sell our house. The realtor suggested we put up more photos of our family so potential buyers will see the kind of people who live there. By this photo, I’d say completely awesome people live there. And completely naked people.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I was in Los Angeles last week seeing how the west coast looks from a hot, windowless casting call room (it looks like desperation). But Friday night I opted to take the redeye home. Those of you who aren’t idiots who got into advertising may not know what the redeye actually means. I sat down in my airline seat (technically ½ of a seat since the fatso next to me needed the room) at midnight and landed in Chicago at 6am. Despite the overnightness of it all, they do their best to prevent you from sleeping. Seating me next to an obese person, purposely aiming towards turbulence, banging my elbow with the $7 a beer drink cart, it took a greater toll on me than any transatlantic flight ever did.

Why would I put myself through the special kind of hell only a major airline can?

Because the Hamann cousins were gathering at my dad’s house. My work schedule, combined with my inherit laziness has prevented Elijah from getting to see his other cousin Fox Hamann, a mere three hours away. Yeah, he can’t go three days without fighting with Finn, but he hasn’t had any good Fox time since they were both too young to care.

So Finn, Steve, Eli and I drove down to my dad’s with little or no difficulty other than my sleepiness. Thank you, inventor of the portable DVD player. Thank you, inventor of the portable bag of cheddar bunnies.

A little while after my dad and stepmom busted out their delicious venison sausage, my older brother Dave arrived with his wife and two kids. His oldest kid, Josh, doesn’t play into this story because he’s too old find cars and Curious George interesting.

After a little shyness, it began. The Chase. Little did my dad realize when he bought his house, but the layout is perfect for The Chase. If you are age 2-4, The Chase is the greatest game on Earth. The Chase basically involves running in a circle for 6 hours, stopping only to: 1) grab a fist full of venison sausage 2) Smash your head on furniture.

I could tell Elijah was really comfortable with his cousin Fox. Because he removed his pants. So the game of The Chase added a new rule: Avoid the boy with the wiener.

After the three boys were so tired that they didn’t even mind sharing toys, I took Eli, Fox and Finn up to take a bath. The combination of the three of them in the tub bordered on illegal cuteness. But before the photo shoot could begin, Finn took one look at the two other naked Hamann boys urinating on each other in the tub and said, “Um. I think I’ll stay out here and help you, uncle Rick.

p.s. I just realized I didn’t count Luca in the Hamann cousins. He stayed in Evanston with his mother, not crying and generally being perfect.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Come On, Man

Throughout this weekend, I was determined to find something to write about Luca. I set my mind to ignoring all the hilarious Elijah stuff. For example, last night Eli pointed to my fat stomach and said, “You have baby in your fat stomach?” No. That will not make it into the blog. This is a Luca blog today. Nor will the story of how Diana caught Eli practicing crying by himself the other day. This is a Luca entry, darn it.

Diana took Eli to the Nature Center this morning. So I figured I’d spend a few hours with Luca and he’d for sure do something blog worthy.

First, I had to wait until he finished sleeping. I busied myself cleaning the kitchen (Husband of the Year Runner Up). I heard some yelping from the living room and ran in for some blog action. Still asleep. The yelping was from an awful kids show where they ask toddlers to spell things on screen and then awkwardly wait for the answer. I call it “The Creepy Staring Show.”

I lugged the sleeping Luca into the kitchen to sit in his bouncy chair. I figured if I played 1990’s legend “Neutral Milk Hotel” on my ipod, a band Diana compares to disemboweling cats, it would snap Luca out of his spell. No luck. The songs made him sleep deeper. Probably as a protective measure, like a possum.

After mopping the floor, I noticed he was awake. Bingo. I stared at him while he stared at the bouncy chair toys. Alright. Do you bloggiest. He just calmly sat there. Contemplating. Occasionally, he would bat a toy.

Frustrated, I toted him back into the living room. I scanned the TV guide for something I thought would get a reaction out of him. I found Mixed Martial Arts in the 180’s. You know that sport? Where glandular men in very tight shorts sit on each other and pummel their faces into goo? Well, I didn’t let him watch it, but I let him listen to it. I thought the howls of inexplicably furious fans would jar him out of his good mood.

No go. He just sat there, burrowing into me with his gigantic blue eyes. After the third or fourth man was sent to the emergency room I couldn’t take it anymore and switched to the food network.

The sound of the tenth gourmet cat food commercial in a row stirred something in Luca and he began crying. Yes. Success.

I scooped him up and loudly proclaimed, “Oh no. Bad baby. My day is ruined. This uncontrollable crying will surely result in a bloggable story!”

I cradled him in my arms and said to no one, “Whatever shall I do?” He immediately went to sleep in my arms.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hamann and Sons Construction and Demolition

Elijah is not lacking toys. Diana, in her never ending search to find things to occupy the child, has purchased all manner of car, train, action figure. Add to that his growing collection of hand-me downs from cousin Finn, there is an avalanche of things for Eli to ignore in favor of coloring on our hardwood floors with crayons.

My favorite things he owns are blocks. As someone who spends his days doing things that you can’t touch feel or hold in your hands, there is something deeply satisfying about actually constructing a three dimensional object. I can spend hours on end raising tower after tower on Eli’s bedroom floor.

But as much as I enjoy constructing objects d’phallus, Eli far more enjoys knocking down my creations. Mostly he enjoys knocking them down before I’m finished. I can barely get the restaurant, bar and pool area of my hotel up before he gleefully kicks it over, like a two and a half year old Godzilla. Sometimes, like a fifth grade bully, he’ll say, “You cry now.” Which I oblige.

I’ll say, “Maybe you should let daddy get the whole convention center and indoor jai alai court finished before you smash it.”

He responds, “You cry now.”

Well, this Christmas my buddy Tom gave Eli his own Batmobile. It has a key on the back which, when turned, will cause the Batmobile to roar to life and take off on its own in pursuit of The Joker or Mr. Freeze.

This has inspired a new level of Eli demolition. Instead of using his arms and legs to destroy my aquarium slash space observatory slash luxury apartment complex, he rams it with the Batmobile.

You’d think this would add insult to injury, but for some reason, he prefers to use the Batmobile to destroy my buildings AFTER they’re finished.

So now we have a beautiful circle of life in the Eli floor. I’ll build a skyscraper, dedicate it, have a party on the patio overlooking the plastic farmland, marvel at what I’ve built, and then say, “Ok, Eli. Destroy it.”

He then turns the ignition and then stands back to watch billionaire Bruce Wayne topple everything I’ve worked for over the last 10 minutes.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d get tired of a Pixar movie. But after the 40,000th viewing, I just couldn’t take “Up” any longer. Elijah would request it all day every day and, as good as it is, and as much as it should win an Oscar, I wanted to take the delightful old man protagonist and shove him out of his delightful floating house. And burn it to the ground.

So Diana and I tried in vain to get him to switch movies. We went to the store and bought a stack of new-old films. He was mildly entertained by “101 Dalmatians,” but it didn’t take. “Lion King” was…meh. There were even some non-Rick sanctioned movies like “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” and the one where the penguins dance. But “Up” was still #1 in the Eli Box Office.

Then he saw “Bug’s Life.”

“Bug’s Life” was Pixar’s follow up to the smash, “Toy Story.” It’s generally considered the worst of the Pixar movies, which still makes it 1,000 times better than anything else out there for kids. And, thankfully, Elijah loved it and now asks for it all day every day.

If you haven’t seen it, “Bug’s Life” is loosely based on the Aesop fable about ants versus grasshoppers. But with lots more hilarious side characters.

But here’s the thing. “Bug’s Life” is surprisingly violent for a G-Rated movie. The grasshoppers are vicious, menacing jerks who, in at least two cases, murder each other.

As an almost 40-year old, I am completely desensitized to movie violence. When I watched it with Eli I said, “They call that a murder? Where’s the blood splatter? Where’s the brain matter?”

Weeeeellll, it seems to have had an affect on Eli. In the form of nightly nightmares. At least twice a night, he wakes up screaming and ranting about grasshoppers. It takes forever for him to settle down. I shudder to think about what is going on in his little brain to get such a visceral and painful reaction.

So, if you are keeping track, Luca, the two month old, can sleep through the night. Eli, the two year old, cannot sleep through the night.

And if you are keeping track, being the sole reason my son has the night terrors makes me the greatest dad in the world.

p.s. I don’t have any photographic evidence of Eli’s terror. But hopefully this photo of his terrified cousin Rory will do.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


People who don’t know Luca ask me how it’s going a lot. They say it with a lot of drama. With extra emphasis on GOING. They also use that scrunchy face that indicates they expect me to launch into a long, sad story of sleepless nights, piercing shrieks and doo doo covered walls.

“He’s great. Better than great. He doesn’t cry. Ever. He just sits there observing the world.”

They always say, “Great!” But behind their expressions, especially those who have, or are about to have a baby, I can see a little disappointment. I don’t know what to do. Make up negative stuff about him? Lie and say he doesn’t sleep through the night?

I usually steer the conversation to Elijah’s latest antics. Like how he stabbed our HD TV with a butcher knife. That usually satisfies their lust for crazy.

So on top of Luca’s other awesome possibly the best baby in the world-ness, he smiles now.

The other night, he was sitting in his bouncy seat, observing, and I came over to say baby talk things to him. I asked Diana if he was handing out any smiles. She said, “See if you can get one.”

I politely asked him. Nothing. I asked again. Nope. I begged him. Double nope.

Finally, I said, “I will give you one hundred dollars if you smile.” Sure enough, the little bugger smiled at me. Cha ching.

Diana warned me, “Don’t look directly at it. It’s like looking into the sun.”

I said, “Got another one? I just got paid this week.” Bam. He was $200 richer.

But then, like every good drug dealer, he left me hanging. I said, “How about another one? Come on, man. I need it. Just one. Please? Please man? I gotta get me a smile.”

I started raising the ante. “$200? $500? $550?”

Finally, I offered him $1,000 for a smile. And, and this isn’t fiction, he smiled. If he invests this money he’ll be able to afford one book when he goes to college.

Today, Steve, Pam, Rory and Finn came over for a brief visit. Luca was dishing out smiles to Pam and Rory like they were free.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I’m Sorry

I sometimes go through large stretches of my day with an almost uncontrollable urge to punch people. Mostly in months where I decide to take off drinking. But I’m able to control myself and not, as much as I’d LOVE to, punch out everyone who pokes their head into my office and says, “Gotta a sec?” That ability, and not wearing diapers to bed, are really the only things separating me from my two year old son.

Sometimes Elijah just can’t keep from hitting. And I can see it in his eyes. He WANTS to have a calm discussion with you about the merits of watching Curious George for 17 hours straight. He WANTS to keep his cool while his cousin Finn plays with a toy he had no interest in until his cousin Finn started playing with it. He WANTS to keep his composure while put him in bed for a nap he has no intention of taking.

But darn it, sometimes you just have to punch and kick to get your point across.

And he shows remorse, which is good. Although I would argue he doesn’t show authentic remorse. He will, when prodded, apologize for violence.

“Sorry, mommy for hitting you. Sorry, Finn for choking you. Sorry, Grover for using you as Matchbox target practice.”

Here’s the funny thing. Eli has a little glitch going right now. A while ago, he had an absolute fit when Diana dragged him away from the YMCA playroom. He kicked and hit and generally freaked out.

Even though it happened months ago, he apologizes for it all the time. At least once a day he’ll say to Diana, “Mommy. I’m sorry I hit you at the playroom.”

“That’s ok, Eli. But what about kicking me in the face five minutes ago?”

“I’m sorry mommy. I’m sorry for hitting you at the playroom.”

Diana still counts this as an apology for the most recent offense. But I’m starting to get worried about him. Not that he has a mental glitch (ask my wife sometime about her Phil Collins glitch), but because in his head so much violence happens at the YMCA playroom. In his mind, this joint has got to be a cross between Islamabad and South Central LA before the gentrification.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Water Chucking

Every day, Elijah does something that adds to the Vault Of Hilarious. Yes, he does stuff on cue and as his ongoing performance art. But my favorite stuff he does is when he doesn’t think anyone is watching.

Like for instance, Chucking. When Eli loses interest in something, he throws it. Not in an aggressive or angry way, he merely tosses it. Like he can’t stand the sight of it once it ceases to be useful. Sometimes over his shoulder. Sometimes across the room. But the idea of actually setting something down where he found it is anathema. Crayons careen off the TV. Matchbox cars ricochet off Grover. I can recognize the sound of a Sippie Cup hitting a hardwood floor from 1,000 meters.

Tonight, however, he decided he was done with his bath water. Couldn’t be troubled with, oh, I don’t know, taking the plug out of the drain. Heaven forbid. He decided the best way to rid himself of his bath water was to use his potty as a bucket and bail potty full after potty full onto the bathroom floor.

Yeah, this wasn’t good.

Water seeped down our floor and into the electrical box downstairs. The only casualty was the light bulb above our washer and dryer.

As Diana told me this story, she was clicking the light switch on and off as demonstration. I asked her politely to stop because I was afraid her demonstration would include showing me what water plus a couple thousand volts do to a woman in her thirties.

I assumed it would turn her into a superhero.