Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I was riding my bike home from work the other day when something caught the corner of my eye. I screeched to a halt and beheld a glorious sight: An orange plastic child-sized car. Attached was a sign with the magical words “F-R-E-E.”
I scooped up the car, ignoring the distinct rattle in the wheel, area and walked it home with my bike. A guy walking his dog said, “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.” I said, “Shut your face!” In my mind.
I arrived home and Luca immediately declared it “The Greatest Day Of My Short Life.” The kid completely flipped over the (most likely scabies covered) car. Never mind the fact that it kind of smelled. Never mind both front wheels do not move. Never mind the fact that, when pushed from behind, his little feet become trapped under the car.
We eventually placed the immovable car in the backyard where, among the uncut grass, it gives our home a distinctively white trashy feel.
If it was up to Luca, he’d eat, sleep and poop in this toy, which he has delightfully dubbed “Luca Car.” When he isn’t sitting in Luca Car, he is standing by our sliding screen door pointing and shouting, “Luca Car! Luca Car!”
Elijah, who has absolutely zero interest in cars of any kind, suddenly can’t stay away from Luca Car. Why? Because it makes Luca furious when Eli sits in Luca Car. And Eli loves to make Luca furious.
So whenever we walk out of the back door, Elijah bolts as fast as he can to Luca Car, often times shoving Luca out of the way. This makes Luca shake with rage as he waddles over to Luca Car. Eli takes great pleasure in pretending not to notice as Luca screams in his face and tries to drag him from the car.
I usually have to physically restrain Luca and demand Eli give the car back. He tries to protest, saying how much he loves sitting in the immobile vehicle, but he can’t help but crack a smile at his shrieking brother.
Eli better enjoy it, because I think Luca is about two weeks away from being able to beat him up.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Diana went home last weekend to visit her mom and dad. As the boys and I drove her to the airport, NPR did a story on the upcoming rapture. If you’re reading this in a non-rapture future, there was this preacher nutcase who, through careful misinterpretation of the bible, predicted the end of the world would come on 5/21 at 6pm sharp. It got a lot of media attention for no other reason than people were already bored with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s affairs.
Diana suddenly got a weird look on her face. “You don’t think it will happen, will you?”
Well, now that she mentioned it, I hadn’t given it much thought. But then I could read her mind that in the so-unlikely-it’s crazy event of the rapture, she would want to be there with Luca and Elijah.
That’s the hard part about being a parent to explain to non-parents. Our intense desire to eliminate all pain from our children’s lives makes us stress about imaginary disasters.
I pointed out that both our children were without sin and baptized. They would be riding the golden unicorn to Sesame Street. Diana and I were on the fence, savedly speaking. I said maybe we’d both get to share a pitchfork.
This next part is the rapture-honest truth.
Elijah piped up from his car seat. “I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt that I went to that place in the clouds, what’s it called?”
“Heaven,” I said shakily.
“Yeah, Heaven. I went up there and you and mommy got left behind. I was sad.”
I suddenly took the rapture .0005% more seriously. Saturday came and mostly went and I found myself emptying the dishwasher at 5:30pm. A half hour away from go time. I realized meeting the rapture with my hands in a dishwasher was really un-cool.
I found myself dialing the phone, almost unconsciously. I needed to talk to someone in the Central Time Zone. Knowing they’d be hit an hour before us.
Thankfully, my Peoria parents answered and informed me there were no Horsemen of the Apocalypse ruining their grilled veal.
Crisis averted, I hugged my sons and promised I’d never yell at them again. This lasted until we went to Whole Foods the next morning and I screamed at Elijah in front of a woman who seemed to have Child Services on speed dial.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
This is a story that fell through the cracks, gang. But it illustrates Elijah’s personality so well, I have to tell it.
As you recall, my father gave Elijah a Darth Vader costume for his birthday. And for several days after, he wore it constantly. At any given moment in our house there’d be a tiny Dark Lord Of The Sith playing cars, pooping or watching Star Wars.
Inevitably, there was that moment when Diana had to ask herself, “Do I take a miniature Darth Vader to Chipotle? Or is that weird?”
She chose the dark side of the Force.
As she entered the Chipotle with Darth and Luca, Diana looked around. The only other patron was a suited businessman sitting on a stool, finishing off a burrito.
Almost on cue, Tiny Darth climbed onto a stool directly next to the hapless businessman and struck up a conversation.
Diana was far enough away that she couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but close enough to watch their body language. So she decided to just finish ordering and watch for the cue that the guy had enough.
What always strikes Diana about these situations is not how well Elijah handles himself. He has absolutely no fear of talking to complete strangers (the #1 reason he is never allowed to go anywhere by himself). No, it’s the way adults seem perfectly content to carry an adult conversation with a 4 year old.
From what Diana could see, the man fielded a barrage of questions from Eli without ever once stooping to patronizing and without even looking around to see if this tiny Anakin Skywalker (spoiler alert) had a parent.
Eventually, Diana and Luca crossed the restaurant to save the businessman. She said, “I bet when you woke up this morning you didn’t think you’d be having dinner with Darth Vader tonight.”
He said, “No. No I did not.” And finished his burrito.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I awoke yesterday to the smell of waffles. Which I think means you’re having a stroke. But then I heard Elijah and Luca screaming, “Dada! Dada!” Then I realized I wasn’t having a stroke, but was having my yearly birthday breakfast in bed. Diana plopped down a beautiful tray of coffee, waffles, fresh fruit and turkey bacon.
The boys then attacked my breakfast, shoving fistfulls of fruit unto their faces and smearing syrup all over our comforter. I held my coffee above my head to prevent burns to myself and my children.
Diana asked what I wanted to do on my special day. I thought for a moment and said, “Let’s go to Casa Bonita!”
Now, given the fact that we had never been to Casa Bonita before, this received no response from the family. But from this day forward, “Let’s go to Casa Bonita!” will be greeted with shouts of glee.
Casa Bonita is a Colorado institution highlighted in a recent “South Park” episode. In fact, the only way I knew the place existed was from flipping around the upper cable channels a few weeks ago.
No amount of description can do this place justice, but I will now try.
Casa Bonita is located in a strip mall just outside Denver. You are greeted first by the smell of a place that has not seen fresh air since 1974. You are then greeted by a sign that demands you order an entrée. Now, what kind of place demands you order food? The kind of place who has been shaking rumors of open cat food cans in their kitchen since 1974.
After standing in a winding line for the better part of an hour, you receive your meal cafeteria-style.
Then the awesome begins.
The dining room is a massive man-made cavern. Its centerpiece is a 30ft waterfall cascading into a pool. Casa Bonita is not about food. It’s about entertainment. Entertainment like:
Sullen cliff divers!
The same sullen cliff diver juggling fire!
Strolling mariachi players!
A gun that shoot bubbles!
An arcade that stopped buying new games in 1974!
A scary cave that has not one, but two warnings about children under the age of 5!
Old Timey photographs!
One of the guys who draws your picture!
Elijah’s brain melted the minute we entered. He spent the whole time shouting and pointing, and not eating his food (thankfully).
Eli watched a pirate skit with rapt attention. About halfway through the skit, the table of uniformed American soldiers got up from their table to head to the bar. That crisscrossed Eli’s brain wires and he said, “Dad! Those army men are going to fight the pirates.” Later, Eli stumbled across the same soldiers and demanded to know why they hadn’t captured the pirates. They ignored him.
I can always judge the success of a place by the level of fit our kids throw when they have to leave. By that measure, Casa Bonita is the greatest place in he history of the world.
I am the luckiest man in the world to have Diana, Eli and Luca in my life. And Casa Bonita in my life.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The boy’s bedroom is haunted. I’m not sure what kind of a-hole ghost gets his translucent jollies off scaring a 4 year old and a 1 year old, but this apparition has been working overtime lately.
At minimum once a night, but usually more like a thousand times a night, Luca or Elijah will call out in terror and begin hysterically crying. By the time Diana or I race over the ghost has already left, leaving nothing but ectoplasm (pee) in his wake.
The other night, Luca woke up screaming every hour on the hour. I’d race in, shout, “Got ya, Casper!” (with no luck) and lift Luca out of his crib. We’d then sit in the rocking chair for a few minutes trying to find a comfortable position. He’d squirm, adjust and flop around on my lap until I said, “Would you like to go back into your crib?”
This went on hourly until 4am when I realized Luca had been dressed by a certain wife in footy pajamas.
No no no no no. Has the woman learned nothing about our baby? He’s a weirdo. If he doesn’t have everything completely right in his crib there will be no sleeping. Blanket must be over head. Stuffed animals must be flanking his body. Light must not creep into room. And FEET MUST BE COVERED. Come on. She’s better than that.
When I grouchily jostled Diana for a 4am explanation, she said that Luca’s myriad skin ailments now include sheets of skin peeling off his big toes. I just threw up writing that.
Our pediatrician recommended a toe ointment to combat the sheeting. So Diana attempted to contain the ointment by putting him in footy pajamas.
I suggested in the most 4am grouchiest way possible that I would prefer to keep his toes in a jar over putting him in footy pajamas ever again.
Later that day my friend Tom told me that your feet temperature is the biggest indicator of your sleep success. I grouchily replied, “Shut it, Cliff Clavin.”
So Luca is now back to sleeping in his bare feet and the ghosts are attacking only once a night.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
My grandfather Al was a fastidious man. He would actually do work on his Colorado mountain cabin in a crisp pair of wool slacks and a pressed dress shirt. It’s why he will always be 100% more cool than I'll ever be.
When Steve and I were little, little tykes, he took us to Baskin Robbins for our first ever ice cream cones. Within 2 minutes of receiving our cones we both licked too heavily, sending the strawberry goodness tumbling to the filthy B&R floor. My five year old memory envisions his head popping off his neck as we wept.
What does this have to do with 2011? Everything.
Halfway through Mother’s Day, I suggested we go to our local ice cream parlor. I think I said, “Hey, no one else in Denver will think if this, given the fact that it’s 80 and sunny!” The ice cream was actually part of an elaborate bribe structure to get Eli to behave at Home Depot.
We arrived at Bonnie Brae Ice Cream and, gasp, there was a line around the block. Luca could care less since he didn’t actually know what the heck we were doing. Eli, on the other hand, tried with all his might to keep it together. He knew one wrong move and his hopes at getting pink ice cream would be dashed. He stood in the hot, hot line with his eyes closed, saying a little prayer.
Finally, we crossed the threshold and entered the madhouse that was an ice cream store on an 80 degree day. The high school aged staff had ceased giving a crap about the wants and needs of thousands of Denver yuppies.
While Luca put on a clinic of “How To Be An Adorable One Year Old” for the old ladies, Elijah sat at a tiny table, eyes bulging with anticipation.
1 pink cone. 1 mint chocolate chip cone. 1 cookies and cream waffle cone. Stat.
I handed Eli’s pink cone to him and turned to receive cone number 2. Then I heard it.
A scream that punctured the eardrums of everyone in the parlor. Eli had knocked his pink ice cream off his cone and was screaming at its meltingness on the floor.
Diana, the hottest mom in the room, scooped down and grabbed the pink blob off the ground and handed it to the sullen ice cream girl behind the counter.
“Can you just put this on a new cone?”
I grabbed her wrist. “Ew! It’s been on the floor! Give him a new one!”
Diana rolled her eyes at my ignorance of the 5 second rule and asked for a new scoop in a cup, this time.
I walked across the parlor to pay and to distance myself from Eli. I heard him scream again and shriek something about the difference between cones and bowls.
He was that kid! That kid who everyone stares at in the ice cream store. The tantrum kid! I locked eyes with Diana from across the room and we both burst out laughing.
Eventually, we got Eli outside to calm down and he managed to force down his ice cream. Luca commandeered Diana’s cone and inhaled it. But not before covering the entire front of her shirt in ice cream.
Monday, May 9, 2011
We’re on our third screen door. They keep getting destroyed. How? Well, our children cannot bear the thought of being without their mother. Elijah or Luca will spot Diana trying to make an escape to our garage and they’ll start crying and shrieking, “MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!” And, on occasion, Luca will rip through the screen like The Incredible Hulk and chase her down.
So it’s not like Diana needs reminding how much they love her. But we had to mark Mother’s Day in a non screen door way.
Eli and I brainstormed on Saturday.
“I think we should make her breakfast in bed,” I suggested. Elijah got excited by this. So I asked what he thought we should make. I said, “What do you think mommy’s favorite food is? We’ll make that.”
Eli thought for a moment and said, “She likes water.”
Menu complete, we moved on to the card making. I quickly drew some green flower stems and Eli beautifully scribbled some flower tops. I then asked him if he wanted to do a few more cards. I’d do the outlines and he could color them. But he had to suggest the subject matter of our drawings.
“What about ant traps?”
“I don’t know if mommy likes ant traps. Let’s keep thinking.”
“Cars? Star Wars? A train? Dora The Explorer?”
“Mmm. I dunno, pal.”
“Oh! How about a grilled cheese sandwich?”
We ended up agreeing on an elephant and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Mother’s Day was, as usual, filled with Diana’s springtime love; planting flowers without children hanging on her pants. We topped it off with a trip to the ice cream parlor, where Elijah had one of the most epic freak outs of his young life. I’ll describe that horror a little later.
Diana, you are the greatest mom in the world. You have raised two unbelievably kick ass kids. You’ve made me the happiest dad ever and to quote Lizzi Weinberg, “Your wife is a total knockout.”
I’d rip down a screen door for you any day.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I’ve gotten really bad at marking Luca’s firsts. I made such a big deal about Elijah’s first poop, smile or murder. But as with all second children, the firsts (ALTHOUGH JUST AS IMPORTANT, FUTURE LUCA WHO READS THIS) tend to get glossed over in favor of louder, more violent events.
So I’m proud to remember to announce Luca’s first official bubble bath.
Diana bought the boys some Dora The Explorer bubble bath the other day. It smells like strawberries instead of a small, Hispanic cartoon girl. Which is probably best.
Anyway, Elijah could not get his clothes off fast enough. He begged me repeatedly to let him turn on the tub’s jacuzzi jets and let the bubbles really fly. But I smartly ignored him.
I chased down Luca, nuded him up and held him over the tub. Based on the horror that crossed his face, I realized he had never been in a bubble bath before. I thought, “Meh, he’ll love it,” and dropped him in.
It’s not as though he hated it, but he did not like it. He stood in the tub with a perturbed look. He folded his little hands in front of his fat belly and minced around. I suddenly thought, “This is what my son will look like if he turns out to be a big queen when he grows up.” I also suddenly thought, “I hope he gets a better haircut if he turns out to be a big queen when he grows up.”
Eli sensed his brother was not happy with the bubbles, so he began smearing Luca with handfuls of the berry scented white stuff. Luca began shouting, “Out! Out! Out!”
I glared at Eli and hissed, “Can’t you see he hates that? Keep your hands to yourself.”
“Oh, sorry daddy.”
One of the things I love about Eli is his ability to take a joke to its breaking point. Seemingly oblivious to me just admonishing him about it, he grabbed two handfuls of bubbles and covered Luca’s fat belly, which resulted in fitful tears.
I yanked him out of the tub and quickly tried to towel off the bubbles. They were like a virus. Luca kept finding new patches of bubble and he’d shriek until I smooshed them with terrycloth.
Meanwhile, Eli poked his head over the tub wall and said, “Look daddy! I have a beard!” And he had a perfectly formed Van Dyke.
I had to admit, “That’s a pretty awesome beard, Eli.”
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Last night we went to dinner with some pals. When we got home, we paid off our sitter and I retrieved Elijah from our bed. As I carefully placed my arms under his body I noticed something. Wet. Real wet.
It seems as though Eli convinced our sitter that he didn’t need a diaper to sleep and she bought it.
The soaking was exclusively on my side of the bed, so Diana simply went to sleep and sent me to the daybed. In hindsight, sleeping on a half urine soaked bed was pretty gross of Diana. But sleep trumps everything.
This morning, I awoke to Elijah crawling into the daybed with me. “Oh, hi daddy. You scared me.”
Shortly after, I bottled and diapered Luca and set him lose on the floor. I then crawled back into the daybed and tried to fall asleep. Eli even let me hold his hand for a minute.
But then it happened. There was a third body in the bed with us. LUCA. He finally figured out how to climb onto the bed. Game over, man. Game over.
Eli and Luca immediately turned into two puppies, crawling all over my head. They fought slash tickled each other slash irritated the heck out of me. After a particularly loud bout of hair pulling, I shouted, “Get off get off get off! Go bother your mother!”
They both shouted, “MOMMY!” and raced into our bedroom. Within seconds, both puppies were all over her. Diana found it adorable for three seconds. Then a child sized foot stomped her boob.
“Get off get off get off!”
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A few months ago, our office had a little happy hour where spouses and kids were invited. Elijah took this opportunity to go completely bonkers. He ran up and down the halls screaming and chasing every kid in sight.
At some point in the festivities Eli lost track of his bladder and whizzed all down the front of his pants.
I was standing with my boss when Eli raced up to inform me of his newly soaked sweats. I announced, “Who wants to take this kid home? He peed himself.”
My boss, who is an incredibly nice man, said, “I’ll take Eli. He’s cool.”
Eli looked him in the eye and said, “No, seriously. I peed on myself. Look.”
The point I’m trying to make is Hamann men have weak bladders. At any given moment, I’m about five seconds away from wetting my pants. And I’m willing to bet big money that my dad or one of my brothers is currently standing at a urinal.
Now hold that thought for a second.
Our buddies, the Goodriches, gave Eli a bike recently. I dunno if you’ve seen these, but it’s one of those bikes without pedals. It’s called a “Skuut.” But I refuse to call it that.
Last Sunday, Eli and I went on its inaugural run. He did pretty great. Especially since his sense of balance is that of me after several beers.
But he goes REALLY slowly. A woman in a motorized wheelchair literally passed him on the sidewalk. Eli convinced her to give him a ride.
And now the purpose of the pee opening. Eli asked me if we could ride to the park, a mere block and a half away. I suggested we take Luca in his stroller as well.
Suddenly and without warning, the gallon of water I had consumed earlier in the day came to full term. I announced urgently that we were heading home from the park. I shoved Luca to the end of the block and waited for Eli to catch up on his bike.
And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.
It became clear that I would not make it at the current pace. To encourage Eli to hurry, I turned to my old friend, Yelling. I shouted, “Get your ass in gear, boy!”
This was the moment Eli rediscovered his love of dandelions.
I raced down the block and grabbed Eli under one arm and his bike under the other. I then shoved Luca’s stroller the rest of the way home with a series of violent kicks.
I won’t reveal if I had an accident. But let’s just say Eli had the right to say, “Who wants to take this dada home?”