Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ambush



At the park the other day, Diana was entertaining Luca while trying to keep an eye on the always busy Elijah. Suddenly she spotted him.

An unsuspecting man with an iphone sitting on a picnic table. Diana describes him as a young businessman who looked in desperate need of a break. Which is the least creepy reason he could be hanging out at a park in the middle of the day.

Elijah suddenly stopped in mid-play and cocked his head. He could smell the iphone from across the playground. The poor man just sat there, like a wounded gazelle.

Diana, knowing the game was on, just sat back and watched the scene unfold.

Slowly, deliberately, Elijah crept towards the businessman. He typed. Elijah crept. He typed. Elijah crept.

The man eventually looked up from his phone and found he was sitting next to a very precocious three year old.

Elijah asked, “Do you have the bird game?”

The man said, “Huh?”

“Do you have the Star Wars game?”

The man stared at his iphone and said, “I don’t have any games on my phone.”

I imagine to Elijah, this sounded like someone telling him The Man in The Yellow Hat wasn’t Curious George’s father.

I’m not exactly sure how the story ended. As far as I know, Elijah threw the man’s iphone into a drinking fountain in disgust. But I imagine Diana finally came over and saved the man from having to debate our son in the must have apps and let him go about his business.

p.s. Today’s photo isn’t from the park. We have no evidence that Elijah has actually been outside this summer.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BAMF


In Luca’s quest to learn how to crawl, he somehow ripped a hole in the time space continuum. He doesn’t so much crawl as disassemble his atoms and reassemble them in a new location faster than the human eye can see.

Set him down on his butt and turn your back for a split second and, BAMF! He’s across the room. Or BAMF, he’s in the kitchen. Or BAMF, he’s in Utah.

While it’s awesome that he has powers no other human baby possesses, it’s a little dangerous. Yesterday, Diana put him down in our room and turned to answer one of the 1,000 hourly questions posed by Elijah. She turned back around and he was gone. But it wasn’t a “BAMF,” it was a “BAMF thud thud thud.” The poor little guy BAMF-ed himself all the way down our stairs. He was ok (apparently one of his other powers is unbreakable bones), but he was extremely unhappy.

Diana thought a little fresh air would cheer Luca up, so she took everyone outside. Diana took her eye off him for exactly .0002 seconds when, BAMF! He transported himself across the deck. And down the three stairs. Thud thud thud. This time he gave himself a nice scrape across his ample forehead.

So we officially dusted off the old baby gate.

At 6am this morning I used it to cordon off the living room. That way Luca couldn’t BAMF his way down our basement steps or BAMF his way into our cleaning chemical cabinet.

Both Grover and Eli were not pleased with the re-introduction of their old nemesis. Grover found it impossible to hide from children with the gate up, so he paced our living room all morning. Eli also found it impossible to open our fridge every five minutes and announce things he wanted to eat. It also prevented him from access to the toilet, so I spent a good portion of the morning lifting him over the gate to pee, which quickly became a game that was only fun for Eli.

But at least Luca was safe, right? Of course not. He BAMF-ed himself into every piece of furniture in our living room. Bonking his head on every surface. By the time Diana woke up, his little face was puffy and streaked with tears.

As I got ready for work (yes, on a Saturday. Eli, and Luca, consider this your official warning about following my footsteps), I heard Luca shriek from downstairs. I found him in Diana’s arms, bleeding from the mouth. He apparently BAMF-ed his face on our hardwood floor.

I would not be surprised to see our house covered in foam when I get home.

p.s. For you non nerds, BAMF is the sound a famous comic book character made when he transported. Not all my references are Star Wars.

Friday, August 27, 2010

iphone


When I arrive at my front door every night, I crouch down as low as I can get and then open the door. 10 times out of 10 I find myself face to face with Grover, who thinks I’m hilarious. I say, “Hello, my special little guy,” and then straighten myself up to my maximum 5’10” and shout, “Hello human members of my family!” Or something like that.

Elijah usually comes running at that point. Naked. Screaming with delight. And before my hug, before I can ask him about his day, before I can even get my shoes off, he asks.

“Can I play wif your phone?”

And it isn’t just the moment I walk in the front door. It’s when I’m tickling him. It’s when I’m on the toilet. It’s in the middle of the night. It’s when I’m playing with my phone.

“Can I play wif your phone?”

“Can I play wif your phone?”

“Can I play wif your phone?”

I should have never, ever, ever let him see my awesome iphone. Yes, I have an awesome iphone. They issue them to advertising people along with skinny jeans and beards. From what I understand, the phone makes calls. But that’s not what it’s used for.

A few weeks ago, I showed him an app on my iphone that simulates a Star Wars lightsaber. Now, why did I do this? I have no clue. Was I drunk? But he quickly became obsessed with playing with my phone. And over time he’s discovered all the games that appeal to 3 year olds and 38 year olds.

This morning, I found myself late for work and chasing Eli through the house to reacquire my phone. And had to literally wrestle it from his hands. At which point he threw a tremendous fit.

On a side note, Elijah cannot dress himself. Buttons frustrate him almost as much as cramming his head through a t-shirt. And yet, he can use 4G touch screen technology. On another side note, Diana cannot figure out how to use 4G touch screen technology.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Noise


Who told Luca he could be noisy? I want names. Elijah, I’m looking in your general direction.

What used to be a child who could go hours without so much as a “peep” has turned into an amplifier turned all the way up to ten. Or eleven if you’re into Spinal Tap.

Every morning when I do kid duty, I prefer to lay on the floor and enjoy that strange place between sleep and awake. I believe that place is called Cincinnati. But noooo. Luca decided to become a one man drumline/ chorusline.

His favorite thing to do is crawl over to our TV cabinet and swing the big, wooden door closed so hard it rattles the windows. BAM! Elijah, Grover and I all secretly hope he’ll pinch his fingers, but he never does. Once I’ve had enough and block the doors with furniture and Golden Doodles, he moves on to the toy oven we have in the corner. To make me an omelet? No. To smash the tiny pots and pans together. BAM! Eli, who knows violence against his brother is a one way ticket to the stairs, holds his hands over his ears. Grover simply paces. Hoping he can stay alive for eighteen more years.

He also loves screaming. If he’s happy because he can now crawl? “Yeearrrrrrgh!” If he’s mad because I put him in his bouncy seat office? “Yeearrrrrrgh!” If he wants to eat, sleep, sit, be held, get changed? “Yeearrrrrrgh!” If he wants to be quiet? “Yeearrrrrrgh!”

When I take Grover out for his morning constitutional, I can hear Luca’s gleeful/angry screams all the way to the street. Grover just looks at me with a look that says, “Let’s not go back. We can run away and start a detective agency.”

At least I can go to work where the only sound is the quiet weeping of my co-workers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Independence


The other night, my brother and I were having an argument about who was the bigger scaredy cat when we were kids.

“Oh yeah? I once spend three days in the basement hiding from the pizza delivery guy.”

“You call that scaredy? I’m hiding in my basement right now.”

Thankfully, or maybe unthankfully, this is not how Elijah views the world.

Last weekend, the family went to a big old South Side cookout. It was at this huge, rambling house owned by a fairly famous radio personality. There were dudes that looked like they came out of a 1970’s crime movie lurking around. There was a beheaded pig being carved by a man with a massive butcher knife. There was Pabst Blue Ribbon beer being consumed un-ironically.

Needless to say, I stayed on Diana’s apron the whole time. But Eli? He immediately took off in search of big kids to play with. And if it wasn’t for me nervously searching for him every ten minutes, I honestly don’t think we would’ve seen him for the three hours we were there.

Here is just a taste of what I found, when I was lucky enough to find the boy:

-Elijah standing on a chair asking question after question about how one butchers a pig with a massive knife.

-Elijah playing pool with a troop of kids three times his age. And cheating.

-Elijah at the fridge instructing party goers to please “Bring my dad a beer. He needs one.”

Now, remember. This kid is THREE. Not five, not ten. Three.

I spent all my time not searching for Eli with Luca. At least he needed to be with his parents. Mostly because I wouldn’t put him down.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dusty



Most of my morning routine revolves around my ability to leave Elijah and Luca unattended. Yes, I’m bucking for “Parent of the Year.” But after the boys are fed and the cartoons are on, I have to attend to the three “S’s:” Shower, shave and…uh…sing?

Elijah is easy. As long as there are moving pictures on the TV, no force on Earth can extract him from the couch. All he needs is a six pack and a bag of Doritos and he’d be me in my mid to late twenties. And thirties.

Luca is becoming a problem. Time was, all I’d have to do is plop him down on the carpet with a handful of plastic things within arm’s reach. He’d be happy as a clam.

But now he moves.

This morning before I jumped in the shower, I tried to completely surround Luca with things to interest him. Including turning on the movie “Annie” (Diana :1, Star Wars: 100).

But before I could properly soap myself up, I heard Eli shouting from across the house.

“Daaaaaaad. Luca is crying.”

“Can you try to make him laugh?”

“Daaaaaaad. Luca is crying.”

“What does he need? Dad is rinsing off his wiener.”

“Daaaaaad. Luca is crying.”

I leapt out of the shower and walked into the living room, still soaked. Luca was nowhere to be found. Except there was the sound of a crying baby. Somewhere.

After a frantic and drippy search, I found Luca wedged between our couch and the radiator. He had backed himself into a corner, literally. I poked my head into his little prison and said, “It isn’t so bad in here. Maybe I can stick you here every morning when I shower.”

He replied by shrieking.

I dragged him out by his little arms. His lower body was completely covered in dust and dirt accumulated in the three years it’s been since we vacuumed.

Luca stopped crying and I put him back on the floor. He immediately began scooting backwards again, towards the couch-radiator prison. I contemplated spraying his knees with Lemon Pledge.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Sun Will Come Out


I can’t blame Diana. I really can’t. At least three times a day, a toddler will swing a lightsaber at her skull. The chances of walking across our carpet without a plastic rifle getting embedded into your foot are nil. Even Luca uses Star Wars figures as teething rings.

In a bold, last ditch, Hail Mary move, Diana introduced the family to the movie “Annie.”

Diana loves this movie. Has donned the curly red wig in countless productions. Knows every word of every song, knows who played the war profiteer, Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finney in the movie, her dad in local theatre).

Here’s the thing. I’ve never seen it. I don’t know why. I have nothing against rich old guys who use their power and influence to buy their very own red headed orphan.

Diana went about it in the right way. She placed the movie atop our TV and drummed up interest by saying Elijah could only watch it if he was a good boy and took a nap and didn’t hit, bite or cry. Kind of a tall order these days. But it worked. After a short while, Elijah began talking about nothing but Annie. Who was this girl in the short red dress? Why did she have such terrible hair? And what, if anything, did this have to do with Star Wars?

I came home Sunday from Yoga (Yes, I still do yoga. Wanna fight about it?) and found Diana and Eli watching Annie for the first time. Diana hedged her bet by setting the viewing during the time of day we usually ban TV watching. So there was an illicit quality to the screening. She also acted out the entire movie for Eli, which I’m sure he thought was black magic.

Was it a success? He did seem to enjoy it. So much so that he spent the rest of the day singing a song about Annie. But he set it to the Star Wars theme:

“Annie…da da da Annie…da da da Annie…Annie and Sandy!”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Camp


Luca doesn’t need a lot to keep him occupied. Plop him down in front of a couple chewed up relics from the Elijah infant era and he’s good for, well, forever. The only time he makes a peep is when he falls over and cracks his skull on our coffee table. And even then he’s reluctant. “If you guys don’t mind, can you tip me right side up? And shove my brains back into my head?”

Elijah, on the other hand, needs constant stimulation. The ratio of free time to destruction is fairly one to one.

So Diana opted to put Eli into summer camp. No, not one from “Meatballs.” This is a series of day camps connected in some way to the city of Evanston. But I’m not convinced they are actually affiliated with Evanston. Because I’m not convinced it is actually a camp.

Diana drops Elijah off at an un-air conditioned building teeming with hundreds of toddlers and, like, one chaperone and then picks him up at the end of the day. Since Eli only wants to talk about Star Wars, we get very few details about what happens.

After attending “Nature Camp,” he’d occasionally come home with a wadded up page from a coloring book featuring a tree. But he couldn’t say if he learned anything about nature. Or if he actually left the un-air conditioned building to, oh I don’t know, experience nature. The kid is covered with mosquito bites. But 100% of them were acquired within five feet of our house.

Eli has since moved from quote, unquote nature camp to “Cooking camp.” Now as a full time sissy, I love the idea of Eli learning how to cook. I imagine us flambĂ©-ing side by side, while wearing matching chef’s hats. Maybe we’d even open up a restaurant together. We could name it “Can I have some Jelly Beans?”

Here’s a rundown of the food Elijah has, em, cooked:

-Snack Mix
-Chopped cucumbers
-Something called “worms.”

Okay okay, I know it’s a lot to expect a three year old to learn how to break down a chicken or red wine reduction. But snack mix?

I can’t wait to send him to watching TV camp.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joy Virus


Diana is all about the details. Who needs to eat, or poop when. Who has cooking camp (don’t get me started), who hasn’t had a nap in the last 48 hours. Her mind is a trap of tiny details that keep everyone in our house alive.

I, on the other hand, prefer to parent by gigantic, sweeping declarations. I’ll swoop into a room and announce (to no one in particular), “From now on, everyone wears red!” Or, “We’re throwing all our non-Star Wars toys into Lake Michigan!” Typically, Diana will look up from her glass of wine and give me that smile that says, “I acknowledge what you are saying, but will do nothing.”

Well, I’ve been reading the horrible book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” It’s horrible not because of the writing (it’s great), but because the author has ruined all food for me. Literally. I’ll save you the effort of reading it with this simple summary: Everything you eat is made by the devil and will make you grow a tail.

Because of said book, I announced to the family that I was officially banning all non-organic foodstuffs. We were not going to eat anything not made by the teamwork of Mother Nature and a man in a straw hat. I declared this while thrusting my fist into Elijah’s jar of Jelly Bellys.

Diana suggested we go to the Evanston Farmer’s Market to shut me up. I loved the idea. It would get the boys out of the house on a Saturday, plus will allow me to feel superior to anyone who doesn’t want to spend $7 on a kernel of corn.

We arrived at the Farmer’s Market and Elijah immediately took off in search of someone who could make him a lightsaber out of a balloon. Diana, who is in better shape than me, ran off after him.

That left me with Luca in his stroller. We, well, strolled. I was in search of listeners to my organic ranting. “Oh, you eat food grown not within 50 feet of your house? Maybe I can interest you in some toxic waste as a salad dressing. Bah!”

But I started to notice that people were stopping in front of the stroller by the Volkswagen bus-load. Not just the old ladies. Getting an old lady to pay attention to an infant is like shooting organic fish in a barrel. But hippies, kids, lunatics, folk singers, political activists and regular people were all stopping to get a look at Luca.

And laughing. They were all laughing at him. I got a little ticked. What’s so damned funny about my son? His zipper can’t be down, he doesn’t own one.

So I stopped the stroller and bent down to see what the hilarity was all about. Simply put, Luca looked like the happiest child on planet Earth. His hair was standing straight on end from the wind. He had the largest grin I’ve ever seen in my life and was hopping up and down on his butt with glee. He was pounding his fist on his stroller tray like he was begging the world to stop telling the funniest joke ever.

The hippies weren’t laughing at Luca. They had simply caught Luca’s Joy Virus. Of which I hope there is no cure.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Night Moves



As I’ve noted many a time on the blog, Diana does 99.9999% of the child rearing in our family. Aside from the, at most, 1 hour in the morning when I look after the lads and the 2-3 hours I give her on the weekend, she is in charge. Which I’m sure directly results in the hilarious “pleases” and “thank yous” that come out of Elijah’s mouth.

I think she’d agree that the worst shift is the overnight. It’s certainly a lot better than the up-every-hour early days of both boys. But it’s always a crapshoot. Will they sleep through the night? Or will it be a never-ending loop of cries and poop?

To top it off, I’ve suddenly acquired the ability to sleep through anything. Time was, when the diaper hit the fan late at night, I’d wake up with the team and at least make a half-hearted attempt to pitch in.

But since my summer business hit, I’ve zonked right through even the most hysterical crying. By Diana. At most, I’ll open one eye to make sure Diana knows where the fire extinguisher is or groggily point to our box of silver bullets we keep on the nightstand.

Every morning I wake up refreshed and semi hung over and ask Di how it went. She’ll look at me like I’m nuts and say, “Didn’t you hear the werewolf smash through the window?” Or, “Didn’t you see me fight off that possessed tree a la ‘Poltergeist?’”

I’ll usually lie and say, “Oh yeah. I heard it. I just didn’t want to get in your way. You looked like you were having a really great time with the C.H.U.D (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller).”

p.s. I have no idea what today’s photo is about.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Dead Animals


There are plenty of terrible lessons about the world Elijah and Luca will have to learn. Girls will break their hearts. Eggs will cause them intestinal distress. Great looking pants will be itchy.

But I’m of the opinion that part of my job as a dad is to act as a World Shield. I want to protect them from the realities of life for as long as I can. At least a couple months.

So imagine my disappointment when I had to talk about death with Eli last weekend.

We were walking around the block with Grover when we stumbled across a dead squirrel on the sidewalk. Elijah immediately wanted to know why the squirrel wasn’t moving. Grover immediately wanted to know why he couldn’t eat the squirrel.

I decided to sidestep the whole death thing. “He’s just, um, sleeping. Very soundly. With flies all over him. Hey look! Grover is pooping!”

We made it back to the house with no more talk about the sleeping squirrel and decided to play in the back yard. But God decided he wasn’t going to let me off the hook. Floating in Eli’s kiddie pool, we found a dead bird. I decided to let him in on the whole death thing.

“Look, Eli. This bird is dead. He must have gotten sick and he fell out of our tree.”

“What’s dead?”

“It means he isn’t alive. He won’t fly or eat or sing anymore. He’s dead.”

“What?”

I decided to give Eli some religion, “He went to heaven. Heaven is a great place where the bird will get to eat whatever he wants and get to fly wherever he wants without cats getting him.”

“What?”

Diana suggested we bury the bird. I found a spot in the yard under a stump and Eli helped me dig a hole. Elijah got semi distracted by the amount of worms in the hole. I wasn’t about to get into the science of death, so I decided to stay theologian.

“We’re going to put the bird in the ground and then we’ll say a prayer. That will make him get up to see God easier.”

Eli had no idea what I was talking about, but he let it go. After depositing the bird in his final resting place, I said a prayer aloud. I won’t give you the details of my terrible eulogy. I realized halfway through I was teetering into mocking the whole ceremony of death, so I quickly covered the bird with dirt and the log.

The rest of the day was spent explaining to Eli why the bird wouldn’t grow out of the ground like mommy’s plants.

p.s. The Skokie Exploratorium is open again after a long remodeling. Thankfully, they didn’t add any dead birds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Finite Love Conundrum


Last Saturday night, Diana and I were enjoying a post boy bedtime glass of wine when conversation turned to The Finite Love Conundrum.

For those of you who have yet to give birth or have only one child, I’m going to let you in on a dark secret fear all parents have. The Finite Love Conundrum.

The Finite Love Conundrum is a panic that sets in when you learn you’re having baby #2. The fear that it will be impossible to love another kid as much as #1. If you’ve kept up on the blog for the last 3 years, you know we L-O-V-E Elijah. Obsessive, semi-creepy love. The kind of love that defies logic and makes you want to document every poo, pee and stupid Star Wars story.

So when we learned we were having Luca, along with all the usual pre-birth panic, I found myself deep in the Finite Love Conundrum. How on earth could I love another person as much as Elijah? Isn’t love like fossil fuels? It has to run out at some point. And then you have to turn to the less effective and costly solar powered love. I promised myself that I’d keep my solar powered love for son #2 to myself, thank you very much.

But then Luca arrived.

I don’t know how he did it. But we L-O-V-E this kid. Crazy love. I find myself whispering desperate, insane things to him when all he wants to do is drink a simple bottle. I have a permanent lump in my throat from seeing that boy’s beautiful face 8 months ago. Ask me what I’d do for him. If I needed to murder someone to save Luca, I wouldn’t blink an eye. Hand me a claw hammer and a drop cloth.

He completely re-wrote the mathematical rules of love. He added one of those sideways “8’s” that means infinity. I love each of those two knuckleheads individually without equal.

There is no Finite Love Conundrum. There are vast, untapped love reserves I never knew I had. We have barrels of the stuff piling up now. Diana and I can’t walk through the house without knocking over a love barrel. The love just spills everywhere.

And don’t get me started on trying to get love out of the carpet.

p.s. Luca has another tooth. Eli named it "Toe."