Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sandwich Wars

It takes every fiber of my being to prevent this blog from turning into all Star Wars all the time. The first thing Elijah asks when he wakes up is, “Can I watch Star Wars?” And the last thing he says before he goes to bed is, “Can we play Star Wars?” This pleases Diana to no end.

Actually, I’m happy that the boy has finally found something he wants to play with. Our house is a graveyard of abandoned train sets, plastic workbenches and thousands and thousands of unused toys of every shape and size. Boo hoo. It’s sooo tough being upper middle class. Sheesh.

He’s really into the Star Wars action figures. Or as everyone born in the 1970’s refers to them, “Star Wars Guys.” Speaking of the 1970’s, I keep finding old Star Wars guys in boxes in our basement, so he’s getting quite a little army of chewed up obscure characters that date back to when I was 5.

Then there’s the other thing. Look. I’ve never tried to pretend to be cool on this site. In fact, I’ve tried to explain just how nerdy I am. But I’m afraid when I reveal this latest bit of nerdom I’ll lose all three of my non-family readers. Here goes. I have a collection of unopened, mint-in-box Star Wars figures. When I was in my early twenties, I started to have a little disposable income. So rather than invest it or take actual girls out on actual dates, I bought a bunch of Star Wars crap. I kept them in a box with the vague hope they’d appreciate in value.

But after Diana’s tenth or eleventh threat to throw them out and after researching their complete lack of value on the internet, I decided to open them up one at a time and let Eli have at ‘em. They’re the perfect bribe. Eat your veggies? Get a Storm Trooper. Take a nap without destroying your room? There’s a shiny Boba Fett in it for you.

And I freaking love watching him play with them. He has no real idea of who the characters are or their backstory. Or even what the Star Wars story is. So he just makes stuff up. The other day, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, two arch enemies, sat down for bologna sandwiches. I had to bite my tongue for fear of shouting, “Darth Vader and Luke don’t eat bologna sandwiches! They try to murder each other!”

Cousin Finn, who really initiated this whole Star Wars obsession, can only take about five minutes of playing with Eli. After the third of fourth time Eli invites a battalion of Rebel Forces to go to the water park, he throws up his hands in disgust.

Eventually, he’ll learn the rules of who hates who and which guys are good and bad. But for now, I’m happy with the Sandwich Wars.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It’s That Time Again

Rather than go through the trouble of visiting every child in Lisle individually to catch their colds, flus and hoofs and mouths diseases, Elijah went straight to the source: The water park.

Now if you remember from last summer’s hilarious HamannEggs anecdotes, Elijah loves the water park as much as I love a good butt scratching after a long night’s sleep. The following are two, count ‘em, two Eli water park stories.

According to Diana, Elijah was in a frenzied state the entire time they were there. Never one to shy away from anyone, Eli spent the entire time getting into other kid’s business. He reportedly knocked over big kids’ sand castles, splashed anyone within a 100 yards and yelled, “Hi! I Eli.” to anyone who would listen. Rather than beat him senseless, the other kids actually enjoyed Eli’s harassment. But there was one poor kid who made the mistake of wearing Star Wars swim trunks. This blew Elijah’s mind. He literally spanked this poor child’s butt while pointing out the characters on his shorts.

“Free pee pee oh!” (C3P0) Whap.

“Artoodee!” (R2D2) Whap.

Diana wondered if the kid may have had Autism. Because although he was double Eli’s age, he was terrified of Eli’s advances. I wonder if it was simply fear of being spanked by a 3 year old.

Diana said Elijah was so gleeful the entire day that she was afraid he’d drown himself by gulping gallons of water in mid laugh. He couldn’t be phased by other kids splashing him, pushing him down or running away in terror of getting spanked by him.

However, Eli draws the line at messing with his mommy. At one point, Diana sat in the kiddie pool to cool off (and apparently to see what sitting in pee feels like). Suddenly, a kid came up to her and dumped a bucket of water over her. Not exactly an assault, but Eli would have none of it.

Elijah suddenly dropped his gleeful smile and turned ice cold. He stomped over to the offending kid and said with a ferocity that surprised Diana, “Don’t. Do. That.” And then pushed the kid to the ground.

Having defended his mother’s honor, he went back to laughing hysterically and tormenting the poor Star Wars boy.

In case you were wondering, I spent that day in my office spanking co-workers.

p.s. I don’t have any photographic evidence of Eli’s water park glee, but I’m pretty sure his face in today’s photo is a good representation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nuclear Technician Prospector

Hamann boys go through two distinct appearance phases as infants. Phase 1: Old Man. Phase 2: Painfully beautiful. It is with a little disappointment that I am announcing Luca’s official transformation into Phase 2.

Why would I be disappointed by Luca turning into a painfully beautiful baby? I dunno. Child abuse? There was just something completely awesome about having a tiny 80-year-old man around. And his lack of teeth combined with his near constant smiling gave him an Old Timey prospector look. He always looked like he was about to say, “Thars gold in my diaper, I tells ya! Gooold!”

Aside from the Old Timey prospector, Luca can also look a lot like a nuclear technician. Luca has this awesome jumpy seat plaything he spends a lot of time in. It’s a big, plastic circle he sits/stands in the center of. He is surrounded by a seemingly infinite collection of buttons, toys and gadgets. It creates the effect of Homer Simpson’s work station at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. He absolutely loves it. And, quite frankly, when he’s in it you can go take a shower or go check email or go fight the Galactic Empire with a certain obsessed 3-year-old.

All you need to do is occasionally ask Luca if he’s keeping the town safe from a Three Mile Island style disaster. He’ll look up and smile with his “Thars gold in this nuclear power plant! Goooold” face.

But, that’s all coming to an end. We’re going to have to retire the Old Timey Prospector and the Nuclear Technician. And make room for whatever occupation painfully beautiful people do. Kept Man? Layabout? Creative Director at an ad agency?

p.s. A quick Eli story. We had a Father’s Day cookout last Sunday. As I lit the grill, I gathered all the toddlers around me and warned them about burning their faces off. I said, “Guys, what is the hottest thing out here?” I pointed to the grill.

Elijah responded, “The sun!”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Morning shift

As I mentioned a few days ago, we broke Luca. Meaning he wakes up a hundred thousand times a night, screaming. We’re trying to break him of this habit, but it’s taking a lot longer than we thought. Luca’s daytime traits are: Chilling out. Smiling. Asking if you want your coffee topped off. Luca’s nighttime traits are: Being a stubborn so and so.

So by mid week, Diana was so tired she was walking into walls and wearing her underwear on her head. Wednesday night when I got home from work, Diana announced she was going to sleep at 7:45. I told her I’d take over the Luca night duty.

Of course he was fine for me and only woke up once. But the anticipation of Luca waking up caused me a night completely devoid of sleep.

6am rolled around and both boys woke up raring to go. Diana, feeling 5% better, told me she’d hang out with the guys and I could get one hour of sleep. I had meetings, so I told her I needed to be rousted at 7.

And that’s when Elijah declared, “I want to sleep wif you.”

I explained the situation to him. “Look, you can sleep in here. But dada needs sleep. Very very badly. So, no noise. Please, please please. No noise.”

The following is the rundown of Elijah’s version of letting me sleep from 6-7am:

6:05-6:14 - Loudly singing the theme to “Star Wars” and shouting, “Pew pew pew!”
6:15-6:16 - Listening as I threatened to send him to live with gypsies.
6:17-6:29 – Whispering the theme to “Star Wars” and whispering, “Pew pew pew!”
6:30-6:31 – Listening to me weep.
6:32-6:33 – Removal of pajama pants and nighttime diaper.
6:34-6:45 – Positioning his naked butt on my head.
6:46-6:50 – Riding my head like a bronco as I tried to wrestle him off.
6:51-6:58 – Hysterical crying at not being able to put his naked butt on my head.
6:59-7:00 – Sleep.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Perfect Day

You can’t win them all. The vast majority of fatherhood involves dropping your steak in the dirt. The trick is to concentrate on the moments that work. Those rare times when you don’t happen to have a hysterical child squirming in your arms, covered in blood or dirt or steak juice.

A few weeks ago, I had one of these moments.

It was sunny and warm. And Mother Nature hadn’t yet turned on the humidity in Chicago. I was sitting on the back porch with Steve and the clock had just struck noon, which meant it was technically legal to be drinking our ice cold beers.

Elijah and Finn were standing in the middle of our tiny back yard. Each was holding an upside down plastic croquet mallet like a Lightsaber. They were making the appropriate “Pew pew” noises.

Steve and I took turns shooting both boys with the water hose. The boys dodged, weaved and blocked the stream of water with their Lightsabers. All while shrieking the kind of shriek that means they were having the ultimate Star Wars time. The trick was not actually nailing either one with a direct hit. Nothing brings Star Wars fun to a halt faster than a gallon of water in the face.

I know it doesn’t seem like the ultimate father/son moment, but I couldn’t help thinking, “This is why I signed up for being a dad.”

Some dads’ perfect moment is fishing with their son while whistling the Andy Griffith theme. Others find perfection getting sunburned and drunk at Wrigley Field. But me? It didn’t get any better than yelling, “The Force is stronnnng with you, Jedi.”

I’m fairly sure the moment was broken up by Grover attempting to hump the Jedis. Or it was time for lunch. Or we ran out of beer. I can’t remember. But when Eli turns 14 and suddenly decides I am not worthy of hanging out with, I’ll have this to get me through the rejection.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Road Pee

Steve and I drove down to Peoria last weekend with Finn and Elijah. Aside from a non stop Star Wars marathon, the boys didn’t need much to keep them happy. But the combination of sippie cups and small bladders meant we stopped every fifteen minutes on our 3+ hour trip to go pee pee. Well, mostly Finn needed to go pee pee. Eli, who had soaked through his pants within the first two seconds of the trip, just wanted to ape what Finn was doing.

Now, being a terrible son, I hadn’t been on a trip to see my parents since well before Eli became semi-potty trained. So I entered a new world: Road Pee.

I’m fairly sure we made it through the gas stations and McDonald’s without either boy contracting a disease so horrible they can only refer to it by numbers. But here are a couple highlights:

We stopped at a Casey’s General Store that looked like it a set piece from “Mad Max.” There was a shirtless, tattooed covered dude staggering towards the menacing cashier. The cashier was no better. Apparently Casey’s corporate dress code doesn’t require sleeves. Or deodorant. I tried to talk Finn and Eli out of using their restroom, which was located through the back storeroom and gimp pen, but they were both engaged in the pee dance. But it was by far the cleanest public rest room I’d encountered in years. I still didn’t let the boys touch anything, but kudos to you, frightening Casey’s General Store.

At a Mc Donald’s (Steve and my preferred restroom stop. They have the best French fries), Eli barged in and began rattling the one and only stall door, which was locked. The occupant tried to give us the international symbol for “occupied,” which meant coughing loudly. I steered Eli to the urinals, but he had no idea what they were for. Behind us, Finn burst in and began rattling the one and only stall door. I thought the poor man was going to cough himself into a trip to the emergency room.

This last story isn’t a Road Pee, but it’s worth a tell. My father was using his personal facility, as is his given right, when Elijah entered unannounced. He proclaimed, “I have ta pee, grandpa!” And then stepped up to the plate without waiting for my dad to finish. I’m sure the last time my dad shared a pee with another dude was decades ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Luca’s Signature Move

Lately I’ve been thinking about the 1980’s World Wrestling Federation. The over the top, jumping off the turnbuckle, spandex and steroids fun I used to stay up late watching on Friday nights. I much prefer it to the mixed martial arts octagon stuff popular today. Partly because I like my violence fake and cartoony, not arm breaky and nose bleedy.

But mostly because the wrestlers of yore had great “Signature Moves.” Usually employed at the end of a match, the signature move was the theatrical climax. It also meant you were only a couple minutes away from being able to go to the bathroom.

Hulk Hogan had the “Atomic Leg Drop.” Rowdy Roddy Piper had the “Sleeper Hold.” And my favorite character from The Cold War, The Iron Sheik, had something called the “Camel Clutch.”

Well, Luca has his own WWF signature move. “The Face Rearranger.”

If there is one thing Luca still loves, it’s when you stick your face in his face and say, “Boo.” It’s a guaranteed smile, and an almost guaranteed guffaw. But now that Luca can use his hands, he likes to grab your face. It usually starts with a gentle caress. He’ll lay his hands on your cheeks, which makes your soul expand ten times its normal size. But then he’ll squeeze his hands, hard. Crushing your nose, eyeballs and anything else he can get between his fingers. I’m usually lucky to come away from that maneuver with both ears intact.

I can’t understand how he got the hand strength to rip apart my face. I mean, it’s not like he gets much exercise in his bouncy seat. But somehow he has the ability to move your facial features around like a flesh and bone Mr. Potato Head.

Luca also doesn’t limit his super baby strength to your face. He loves to grab hold of any extra fat you have dangling off your body. He’s taken great fist fulls of my love handles, but an iron grip on my arm fat and stretched the seams on my thighs.

But he does it with such glee. I honestly think it’s out of love. But like Baby Huey (third weird pop culture reference of the post), he simply doesn’t know his own strength.

So I’ve taken to pinning his arms down while I “Boo” him. But it just gives him better access to work the body.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sleeping Arrangements

We broke Luca. We broke him because we got greedy. Here he was, content to wake up once a night, pound a bottle, and then immediately go back to sleep. Because any more would be un-Luca-like.

But nooooooo. We couldn’t just let him wake up once a night. We wanted the whole night. 8, 10, 12 hours wasn’t good enough for us, The Super Parents. So we started messing with the system. We took away his pacifier. We started changing his bedtime. We started denying bottles late night.

And then he got broken.

Luca now wakes up five times a night. He flops around and shrieks like a banshee. And when you go over to him at 2, 3, 4, 4:30 am, he simply looks up and smiles the greatest smile ever. “Oh, a bottle? No thank you. I just wanted you to wake up and cross the room to look at me so I can give you this winning smile. Your welcome.”

Over the weekend we got to a panic state. And by “we” I mean “Diana Hamann.” She officially had it with our happy night owl. And we are implementing the “Cry it out” method.

It’s controversial, but it worked for Elijah. You basically let the little guy cry until he learns to comfort himself. You let him go until the edge of hysteria. The only bummer is it can take a few days of crying. Which is noisy.

So we moved him to Eli’s room so he can deal with it.

Actually, we set up his crib in Eli’s room because he’s going eventually have to sleep there. And it made more sense to get him used to a new room plus a new sleep schedule at the same time rather than go through trauma twice.

We spent the while day playing it up with Eli. “Oooh. You have a room mate now! This is soo fun. Your little brother and you get to share a room! Yay!”

At bedtime, we made it as fun as possible. We played music. We read books. We kept pointing at Luca and saying how great it was he was with us.

Elijah seemed to get into it. But when Diana turned off the lights and kissed Eli goodnight, he said, “Mom? Take Luca with you.”

To add insult to injury, we both separately whispered to Eli over the course of the day, “You know Eli, if Luca cries too much you can sleep in our room.”

I’d like to go on record now as saying that was the biggest mistake of our parenting lives.

Sure enough, at 9pm Luca started squawking. Eli immediately cashed in his chips and bee-lined to our once two person bed. Then at bedtime, Diana decided to sleep in Eli’s room so she could comfort Luca in the middle of the night.

So, to recap. We moved Luca to Eli’s room, Eli to our room, and Diana to Eli’s room. So we can all get to a normal sleeping arrangement.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Occasionally, I really have to stretch to find stuff to write about on the blog. I’ll stare at the boys (Luca in particular) and think, “Do something funny. I’m dying here.” Other times, I’ll get a backlog of hilarious stories that I can’t seem to fit in with all the other night terror/129 degree fever stuff happening.

This is a pretty big story that fell through the cracks.

Elijah is potty trained. Not even kind of potty trained. He simply doesn’t wear diapers anymore. I think its because Diana got him some pretty hilarious underwear. It’s a hacky thing to joke about, but man, I would love to go through my days knowing under my blue jeans I’m sporting repeating images of Elmo juggling the alphabet. It would make my marathon meetings much easier. “Why am I smiling? Oh, you know. The alphabet.”

We do require Eli to wear diapers to bed. We’re no dummies. If I had the kind of night terrors Eli does, I’d wiz all over myself on a regular basis.

Eli doesn’t even like to pee in his diaper. He will actually take off his diaper, place it on the floor and urinate into it. How proper.

But, being a sneaky little so and so, he knows he can get out of napping or bedtime by announcing he has to go pee pee on the potty. And he can squeeze out urine at will to prove his point. I think that’s how you get urinary tract infections.

So we’ve been telling him he has to stay in his room for naps, even if he does have to pee. “Go in your diaper,” we say. Elijah will wrinkle up his nose and look at us like we just asked him to pee in his own pants.

The other afternoon I was doing something productive like making out with Grover when Eli came down after his nap. His hair was awesomely hair-metal from sleep and he was carrying a cup from his art table.

“What’s in the cup?"

“Pee pee.”

“You peed in your cup.”


“Because you didn’t want to pee in your diaper.”


“And I told you you couldn’t come downstairs during nap time.”


“Very well then.”

So I emptied his urine sample into the toilet. What was I going to do? Yell at him for have a freaking great idea?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It may be my lack of emotional ability to deal with Elijah’s illness, but it was more serious than I let on. If not for Diana carting him back and forth to the hospital twice and the doctor’s three times, he could have been in far rougher shape. Like going blind shape. Like an infection in his brain bean shape. So officially, Diana. Thank you. I love you.

As I said the other day, he has been able to snap back fairly fast. But he isn’t 100% yet. The only real side effects from being so sick is he lost some weight and he is behind on his sleep.

Oh, and he has the night terrors.

Last night, he screamed as if a rabid gremlin was chewing his face seven times. Seven. Times. Diana took care of him six times. The one time I dragged my post-Blackhawks win body into his room, Eli was in a deep sleep, hysterical to the point where I was deeply frightened, all while laying on his back furiously kicking his bedroom door.

Let’s compare what the internets says you should do in this situation to what I did last night.

Rule #1: Don’t speak to the child. Attempting to soothe him will intensify his terror. (I stuck my face in his face and shouted, “Eli! What’s wrong with you? Wake up! Wake up!”)

Rule #2: Don’t say his name. This can make him more upset. (See my failure of Rule #1.)

Rule #3: Don’t try to vigorously wake him. He will think he is being attacked. (I wonder if holding Elijah’s arms and legs down while shouting his name in his face counts?)

The internets say it will go away in time. But sheesh, I was fairly close to walking him down to the Indian Catholic church two doors down for an impromptu exorcism. But that would’ve involved me putting my shoes on and stuff.