Monday, April 26, 2010

Fish Network

I’ve said it before, but TV is a menace at our house. Elijah’s doctor berated us for allowing him more than 2 hours a day. Serves us right for not going with that TV doctor. So Diana has really put the hammer down. Which results in a constant barrage of, “Mommy? Can I watch TV? Mommy? Mommy? Mommmmmmmmy?” Occasionally, he’ll wait 2.5 seconds to ask us, hoping we somehow forgot.

His best move is impersonating his brother. “Mommy! Luca wants me to watch TV.” And then he’ll do this little voice that sounds a bit like Senior Wences. “I think Eli should watch Curious George.”

Boy #2 is slightly easier. Mostly because he can’t move. When Elijah is watching his ration, we simply point Luca facing away from the TV. It has to be a little frustrating to always have the feeling that something awesome is happening right behind your head all the time. Something usually involving a diaper-less monkey.

But Luca is not without his own entertainment. At the beginning of the month, I described his bedtime ritual. It culminates in his little baby fish tank. It’s this little thing that hangs over his crib that looks like a TV, smells like a TV and sounds like a TV. Except the only thing that’s on is fish. Little trippy fish that float by. Here is the programming guide:

-Fish News (“Breaking news! President Obama isn’t a fish!”)
-Fish Idol (“See who you, America, voted for. Chances are it’s a fish.”)
-Fish Lost (“It actually makes a lot of sense if you’re a fish.”)
-Fish (“Who doesn’t love Abe Vigoda?”)
-Mr. Belvedere

The best part of the Fish TV is Luca can actually control his Fish TV viewing. Mostly it runs on a timer, but there is a little button on the bottom that Luca can bash with his semi-controlled hand to turn it off and on. Sometimes when we put him in his crib and turn on Fish TV, he’ll immediately bash the button. “Enough with fish already!” And he’ll go immediately asleep.

But sometimes in the middle of the night, we’ll suddenly hear the fish TV in the corner of our room. It just kills me that he’ll wake up and simply check out TV instead of crying. What’s on at 3am? Fish.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Did It!

Ha ha. I did it! I finally did it! I broke through Luca’s austere exterior shell and made him laugh like a lunatic. Not just the heart shattering smile or the equally heart shattering “Ge” noise. I got a full on laugh until you cannot breathe fit from him. Take that, baby who is so good he doesn’t get that many HamannEggs posts!

How did I do it? A witty quip about the sorry state of our society? A Star Wars pun? My rendition of “The Aristocrats?” Nope.

I gave him a zerbert. What is a “zerbert,” you may ask? Well this is the official Urban Dictionary definition:

"Creating a seal between a human mouth and flesh (commonly the stomach or arm) and then blowing, producing a fart-like sound. This word was made popular by Bill Cosby on his hit TV show, the Bill Cosby Show. For most people, it tickles like mad on the stomach, which is what makes it so much fun. Try it out.”

The other night when I got home to relieve Pam from baby duty, I distracted Elijah by suggesting he go destroy something in the name of “Being a Star Wars,” and tossed Luca on his changing table and removed his soggy D.

For some reason, he had forgotten he needs to be an angry ball of baby twine before he goes to bed and was smiling and flopping around like a happy fish. So I started with my “Boo” and “Goo,” but was unable to get anything more than a chirp.

Then I noticed his bare stomach. Just begging to get zerberted. So I went in. He began laughing like a crazy person. So hard that I was fearful he’d pee on me. He didn’t but it would’ve been worth it.

Eventually, the hysterics pulled Eli away from whatever he was destroying and he climbed up the changing table like a ladder. “Again!” he shouted. So I obliged both of them. Zerbert. “Again! Again!”

Luca soon went to sleep without a single cry. He was exhausted. And had well defined abs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being A Star Wars

Why, Star Wars? Why have you forsaken me?

I’ve given you 32 years of my life. We’ve been through so much together. The good times (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back), the bad times (Pretty much all the other movies). I’ve defended your honor against the Trekkies and the Lord Of the Rings guys (“Lordies?”). I’ve built countless models and painstakingly applied tiny stickers to that damned Millennium Falcon. I even sent away for that Boba Fett in 1979, which I still have.

And this is how you repay me?

Last night, Diana told me when she picked up Elijah from school, she was informed that he had an “incident.” An incident involving him punching and kicking another kid. Now, this is the same kid who bit him a few months ago, but that doesn’t make it right.

I said, “Meh, what are you going to do? Kids are kids…”

She said, “Do you want to know why he hit and kicked?”

I felt a disturbance in the Force.

“He said he was ‘Being A Star Wars.’”

Noooooooooooooooo! Come on. Being a Star Wars? He’s never even seen a minute of Star Wars. And suddenly it gives him an excuse to start acting like Ponda Baba (look it up, non nerds).

I could see on Diana’s face that I was in danger of losing my dream to build a nerd in my image. I sheepishly said, “Does this mean we have to throw away his Star Wars stuff?”

Diana said, “I don’t know.” Ominously.

So when Eli woke up this morning, I gave him a good talking to.

“Hey man. I want you to listen to me. When you play Star Wars, you can’t punch or kick. Star Wars is for good guys. You have to be a good guy. No hitting. Not kicking. That’s not cool. Do you understand? No hitting.”

He said, “There’s a machine with a button and when you touch the button it goes beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guns and Butter

A few weeks before Elijah’s birthday, my brother and I were having beers when the subject of gifts came up. Specifically, he asked if he buy Eli a Star Wars toy.

Normally, I would've said, “Yeah. Let’s begin the indoctrination. I’ll go get my robe.”

But I hesitated. Diana and I have differing opinions on the Rebels’ struggle against the evil galactic empire. It’s not that she doesn’t agree with the Rebel’s ideology. And I’m fairly sure she is pro Ewok.

It’s the guns. Before Eli was born, Diana made me promise never to buy Eli a gun. We’re pacifists. And, quite frankly, we’re having a hard enough time keeping him from hitting and pushing his cousins without adding firearms into the mix.

And if you looked at Eli’s list as created by Diana, it was exclusively toy cooking supplies. A toy oven. Toy pots and pan. Toy eggs and butter and a slightly inappropriate toy hot dog.

Upon reading the list, some inner Neanderthal leapt to the surface and shouted, “Cooking stuff? What are we doing, raising a girl?” I was immediately surprised that I had an inner Neanderthal. And that he was such a sexist jerk. And that he didn’t speak in grunts. I love cooking. It’s one of my biggest hobbies. And I am at least 80% man.

So I didn’t mess with his list. But I did give Steve permission to buy Eli some Star Wars stuff. But I didn’t tell Diana. That way I could feign shock and disappointment if she got mad. But I wanted Eli to have the option of playing with guns AND butter.

Birthday day came and went and Eli loved both his toy cooking supplies and toy intergalactic violence. He doesn’t really understand what the Star Wars stuff is, since we haven’t let him watch the movies. But he did learn from his cousins that they go, “Pew pew pew.”

But then again, he doesn’t really understand the cooking stuff, either. He pretended to boil toy eggs with a whole toy garlic. And then he added the creepy toy hot dog. What would Julia Child say?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mornings With Luca

The other evening I decided to do an elaborate impersonation of Diana when she wakes up to feed Luca in the middle of the night. I thumped around crashing into things and grunted and moaned. “Know what I mean? You totally make noise at 4a.m. when I’m trying to sleep.”

The minute the words exited my mouth I knew two things: 1. I could not take the words back. 2. They were the wrong words to say to a sleep deprived mommy.

After repeatedly acknowledging the fact that I was not funny and I was very very dumb, I suggested, “Hey, why don’t I wake up with Luca for the 6a.m. shift?”

Diana accepted my peace offering. Since Elijah doesn’t wake up in the middle of his floor until closer to 7, I usually have almost an hour where it’s just me and Luca.

And it’s kind of awesome.

He’s a great listener. Downstairs, I lay on my back and prop him up on my knees and just talk to him.

“Do you think I'm good looking? If you agree, keep chewing your pajamas. Okay good.”

I’ve also revisited my old comedy routine from when Elijah was in infant.

“Goo. Boo. Goo goo boo.”

While Luca doesn’t laugh as hysterically as Eli did, he’ll occasionally give me a huge smile and say, “Ge.” Which I assume is Luca for, “Oh, father. You are ever so droll.”

My only struggle is keeping him from staring at TV. I try to point him away from the glowing screen of addiction, but he is like an owl. He seems to be able to crane his neck in inhuman ways to watch.

You may be thinking, “Why not just turn it off?” Because I like TV, that’s why.

When Eli wakes up, I position Luca between Eli and the TV. This gives Luca something to watch: His brother watching TV. If I get the angle right, Luca can sometimes be fooled into thinking his brother is staring intently at him instead of Curious George.
Sometimes I can get Grover placed in such a way as to create a three way stare-a-thon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This morning, I laid in Elijah’s bed/closet attempting to steal one minute of sleep. Eli was nude, still a little wet from weeing all over himself, and repeatedly shooting me in the face with his finger, doubling as a laser gun.

I hugged him tight and as he shot and squirmed I thought to myself, “I love you. Happy birthday.” I couldn’t utter the words aloud because, like every year, we lied to him and said his birthday was last Saturday, the day of his official party.

So I just kept hugging him and hugging him, basking in the joy of being shot in the face, while I recounted the last year of his life.

His constant and hilarious nudity. His epic tantrums. His enthusiastic, but off key singing. His crazy delight at the water park. His vomiting at said water park. His painfully cute first day of school. Curious George. Curious George. Curious George. His gleeful cries of “I love you!” That time he stabbed our TV. His inexplicable acceptance of Luca. His addiction to jelly beans. His burgeoning love of Star Wars.

Did I mention the joy? The utter, blinding joy? The all encompassing joy he beings to Diana and I? We are so damned lucky to have this kid.

Eli, you’ll probably read this entry years from now. Maybe you’ll wonder what you were like when you turned three. Well, when you turned three you shot your dad in the face and made him the happiest man on Earth.

Future Eli, enjoy these photos from last Saturday, your fake birthday. Where our friends and family got to spend just a few hours experiencing the joy we feel every day. This is what you do, future Eli. You give joy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nom nom nom

Have you ever slept on your arm wrong and woke up in the middle of the night without the ability to use it? I imagine that is how Luca viewed his extremities over the last 4 ½ months. Big, heavy flesh lumps that occasionally smash him in the face.

Well, good news for Luca. He finally figured out that his arms and hands actually have use: Cramming stuff into his mouth.

I woke up the other morning to the sound of, “Nom nom nom nom.” I peeked into Luca’s crib and found him busily gumming his pajama front. I whispered, “Good luck with that. Keep working and you too can be nude like your brother.”

I forgot how much I love the “Hungry Caterpillar” stage. It’s not like the kid needed a lot of attention before. But now he is content with sitting in his bouncy chair hour after hour, eating anything within a half foot radius. His clothes, toys, fists and pets are all covered with a thin layer of drool. Whenever I carry him in his Baby Bjorn, the entire front is covered in drool within five seconds. “Nom nom nom.”

The only watch out is Elijah is starting to become entertained with the eating machine. I caught him handing Luca Star Wars guys yesterday to see if he’d shove them in his mouth. He did.

But glass houses. I used Luca’s newfound grabbing technique to hold my beer at Eli’s birthday party over the weekend (more on that later this week). It was a neat parlor trick until he tried to tip the bottle into his mouth. It’s not the potential drunken baby-ness that bothered me, it was the potential waste of precious beer.

He’s now old enough to start eating baby food. I don’t know what that makes me weepy, but it does. Diana is planning a big eating event soon and bought a new camcorder in preparation. So we’ll be able to add that to the growing pile of unwatched footage in the office (Our wedding, Eli’s first steps, Eli’s first two birthdays, that drunken night in Cabo San Lucas).

p.s. This isn’t the same photo as the last entry. The angle is slightly different.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The other night, I was deeply engaged in my post family sleep activity. Namely, making out with Grover while watching satirical news programs. Diana walked halfway down our stairs and motioned for me to follow.

This usually means a major fecal explosion that needed both of our attention. I told Grover not to move from his belly-scratch position and reluctantly followed.

Diana silently motioned me to our bedroom. She pointed to Luca in his crib. He was sleeping like an angel. His little arms were spread out wide to hug the world and he had the tiniest smile on his face.

I whispered, “What? He looks perfect.”

Diana then silently motioned for me to follow her into Elijah’s room and she opened the door.

Eli was completely off his bed, laying face down on his carpet. With his crazy hair and contorted body position, I was struck by the word “wino-esque.” I was also tempted to trace him with a white chalk outline.

Now, I try try try not to compare my two sons. They are their own people. But as I attempted to roll Elijah back into his bed I couldn’t help but marvel at how their sleeping positions sum up the boys perfectly.

The next morning, Diana asked Eli why he prefers to sleep looking like a person who had just been administered the Vulcan Nerve Pinch.

He said, “It’s comfortable.”

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, so maybe I’ll try it the Eli way tonight. I’ll have to go buy a bottle of Night Train on my way home.

p.s. Diana just left a comment. Elijah's actual reply when asked why he sleeps on the floor was, "Because it's comf-ty." Which is way funnier.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Once the cool teen agers started wearing the really skinny jeans, I knew. My time for understanding youth culture is over. It’s not so good for my career longevity to squint my eyes and mutter, “You can’t tell the difference between the boys and the girls…” But what can you do?

And I don’t kid myself. I always knew there would be a time where I ceased to understand what the heck my kids were talking about. I figured it would be decades from now, when they’re into music you plug directly into your skull or when it’s fashionable to wear a shiny silver suit on your way to Mars for the night.

I didn’t know it would begin last weekend.

I like to think I’m fairly up to date on Elijah’s life. I know the obscure Curious George characters (Compass is his pigeon friend). I can recite every lyric to every terrible kid song he owns (“Banana Phone again?” Really?). I even know which sweat pants he prefers (Pockets are itchy).

But when he opens his mouth, I have no clue what he is talking about.

For instance, when I change him, he’ll say, “So. Dada. Picture frame coffee cup tape dispenser Rubik’s Cube photo of Diana in a girl scout uniform commemorative boot.”

Those are just random objects I picked from my office. And yet that sentence makes more sense than anything he says to me.

Diana claims it has to do with other non-Curious George TV shows he’s into when I’m not at home. Well, I want to know what the heck these shows are teaching him to make him speak like a bearded crazy on Lower Wacker Drive.

“Hey kids! Want to see your dad get a nervous tick? Repeat after me!”

p.s. I know I didn’t do an Easter post this year. Our Easter was pretty low key. Some friends, some hidden eggs, lots of jelly beans. A half hearted attempt to explain the religious ramifications to a two year old.

The only blog worthy thing was Eli was convinced his jelly beans were delivered by the “History Bunny.” Which kind of makes sense.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Diana and I have decided to attempt one last ditch effort to keep Luca out of a helmet for his head-flatness. Our flat-head expert said if we can keep him off his flat-head for the foreseeable future, there is still a chance it will round out. I like to think it will audibly “pop” like a dent in an old Chrysler.

Unfortunately, keeping him off his head ran counter to my Saturday laziness. Instead of tossing him in his bouncy chair and taking a well-deserved nap, I spent most of the day with him on my hip. At one point, I gathered Luca up in a Baby Bjorn, grabbed Elijah, leashed up the dog, donned my cowboy hat and went on a walk. I got ½ block from the house when one of my neighbors stopped me.

“Your son is wet, Cowboy.” I looked down and saw Eli had a front ocean. Walk aborted.

Thankfully, there was one stretch where both Luca and Eli were napping. And Diana too, but she doesn’t need diaper changes. Knowing I had exactly 43 minutes before one of the boys awoke, I decided to do one thing for myself: trim my beard. Springtime is when I transition from Hairy Winter Rick to Splotchy Summer Rick. I quickly buzzed my face with clippers. Just as I finished the South 40 Acres, I heard Luca cry.

I scooped him up and gave him a big, fat kiss on the cheek. After positioning us on the couch, I noticed that I forgot to brush all the tiny post trimming whiskers from my face. Several of which were now attached to Luca’s face. He looked like Snoopy’s brother, Spike.

Knowing a gross, fake dad beard wouldn’t add much to his self-esteem, I attempted to brush the tiny little hairs off. Those little jerks just wouldn’t come off. Blowing air at his face just made him laugh. Brushing the hairs with my hand just re-arranged the whiskers like a “Wooly Willy” game. And picking at his face with my fingernails just irritated Luca.

Finally after much ado, I knocked the whiskers off and breathed a sigh of relief. I then noticed Luca’s back, which was covered in whiskers. Which made him look like his dad.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fighting Sleep

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Luca is a good baby. Even now when he’s sick and tired of being sick and tired, he still hands out smiles if you ask him nicely. Really the only time he acts like a jerk is the 10 minutes before he goes to bed.

And the weird thing is this my absolute favorite time to hang out with him. Because I love to see him fight off sleep. He makes such a passionate effort to stay awake, even though he loses the battle each and every time.

Take last night. I got home and both Diana and Luca had the crazy eyes. Luca had been barfing off and on all day and Diana was at her wits end. So she handed him over to me and said, “I just gave him a bottle and some Tylenol.”

I asked her, “Doesn’t Tylenol make him puke even more?”

Luca answered my question by covering me with puke not once, but twice. I took him upstairs, laid him on our bed and changed into non-barf clothes.

I then picked him up and said, “Let’s do this.” Sensing he was about to lose the battle against sleep, he erupted in his nighttime fury. But I had my plan set.

First, I dim the chandelier in our room. It makes this beautiful star-y pattern on our ceiling. Luca knows he cannot resist the star pattern. I hold him in my arms, and he can’t help but see the hypnotist ceiling. He actually thrashes to avoid it. “No no no! Not the beautiful ceiling!” But then he locks his eyes on it. Point for Dada.

To add insult to injury, I do my patented figure 8 walk around the room. This is clinically proven to make babies go to sleep. I think it has to do with the fact that my left leg is shorter than my right. This creates a slight swaying motion in my gait. It’s baby Nyquil.

This is when Luca knows he’s done for. His little eyes flutter, Then they close. But that doesn’t fool me. He’s usually good for at least three bursts where he forces his eyes open and he helps. “Ha ha! No sleep for me.”

If I really want to finish him off, I’ll turn on his little baby fish tank in his crib. It’s this trippy little thing that plays music and has this blue screen that simulates the cutest little fishies you’ve ever seen floating my.

When I put him down, He’ll thrash his head back and forth trying not to look at the cute fishies. But then he finds his comfortable flat spot on his head and it’s lights out. He spreads his arms out wide like he’s giving the world a hug and then we don’t hear from him for the next 7 hours.

p.s. I don’t have any new photos. So enjoy this image that inexplicably comes up when I Google “Fighting Sleep.”