Monday, June 27, 2011
I can see it happening and I’m purposely not doing anything about it. I know I should put a stop to it to prevent a future mental breakdown.
But Luca is acquiring an unhealthy obsession with his blanket and I love it.
It’s this old, ratty fleece number with what used to be a lion or a monkey or a tree sloth on it. But whatever jungle creature was there was rubbed off a long time ago.
In bed? Luca MUST have it. The very second you drop him in the crib, he scrambles around mumbling, “Bankie,” until it’s in his clutches. He then pulls it up over his head to sleep. I used to worry that he’d suffocate under the fleece, but Bankie knows what its doing. There have been times when I’ve checked on him late and night and tried to pry it from his hands to better cover him, but he holds it with a death grip. There have been times where he’s cried out for hours and hours because the blanket dropped to the floor.
Now he’s taken his obsession outside the crib. It’s not too bad right now. He doesn’t need it constantly. But several times a day he’ll snap to attention and say, “Bankie!” Then he’ll reach his little paw through the jail bars of his crib and yank it out.
Elijah’s instinctive big brother-ness comes into play when Luca carries the blanket around. Eli loves to yank it out of Luca’s hands and watch him scream. Eli gladly takes the on-the-stairs punishment.
Why do I love this? It’s not exactly healthy. Weaning him off this will not be pleasant down the road. And I wonder what it says about his addictive personality.
And it can’t be the Linus thing. Linus wasn’t my favorite Peanuts character. I’m a Pigpen man, myself.
You know why I love it? Because it gives him comfort. And his comfort is the most important thing in the world to me. I need him to have comfort. I need him to feel okay. I need both boys to feel okay.
And if a little, ratty piece of fleece can be his life preserver in this increasingly f-ed up world, I say, “Thank you, Bankie.”
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Luca is teething. That is the only conceivable explanation for why he is acting like a complete jerkface these last couple days. He’s whiny. He’s cry-y. He clutches Diana’s legs with such ferocity that her pants end up on the floor at least 3 times a day.
And he simply refuses to sleep. When bedtime rolls around, we can expect at least an hour of him screaming, “MOMMY! WHERE ARE YOU????” before he collapses in exhaustion.
Elijah loves this latest development. If Luca is still screaming at his bedtime, he gets to sleep in our bed. And sleeping in our bed is the greatest thing ever. There are decorative pillows. It vaguely smells like dada farts. Diana’s stuffed bear is easily accessible and my stuffed Grover doll is never well hidden.
The question “Is Luca screaming or isn’t he?” has become the most exciting event of Eli’s night. See, we do Eli’s pre-bedtime books in our room, where we can’t actually hear if Luca is caterwauling. So when it’s time for him to bed down, I click on the baby monitor.
If we hear silence, Eli has to leave Contestant’s Row and sleep in his room (The studio audience groans). But if I click on the monitor and we hear screaming? Eli wins! The bells go off, confetti and balloons fall from the ceiling and Bob Barker reminds us to get our pets spayed or neutered.
I’ll admit I’ve been adding hype to the event. I try to get Eli whipped up by saying, “Whadda think? Do you think it will be ‘Scream? Or No Scream?’” And Eli stares at the baby monitor like it’s going to pop open and there will be a million dollars inside.
Last night he chanted, “Scream…scream…scream…” while pumping his fists. I flicked the monitor and there was only static on the other end.
Eli sunk his head in disappointment. I said, “Ohhhhhh. Sorry, Eli. Thanks for playing ‘Scream or no Scream.’ We have some nice parting gifts and of course the Scream or no Scream home version…”
And suddenly we heard over the monitor, “Mommmmmmmy!”
Eli jumped up and down like a college girl visiting Burbank, California.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My first Father’s Day in Denver did not start out well. The children awoke at an ungodly hour and Diana began weeping uncontrollably, knowing it was her duty to let me sleep.
After a guilty and fitful sleep, I wolfed down my special Dad’s day eggs and suggested Diana go back to sleep for the good of all mankind.
I received some awesome Father’s Day gifts including a Dillon Panthers t-shirt (those of you who get the reference will know how awesome that gift is) and some Vans tennis shoes that were far too youthful for my rapidly graying self.
I also got a great multicolored scribble drawing from Elijah.
“It’s a Star Wars ship.”
“Of course it is.”
But the best present came much later in the day, when Diana transported us all to Illinois for dinner.
I’ve been really missing my hometown lately. Maybe it’s the picture perfect weather here. I’m beginning to wonder if I need 99 degrees and 100% humidity to be happy. But by some stroke of luck, Diana found a chain restaurant in Denver whose only other chain is located in Central Illinois.
It was called “White Fence Farm.” And it was awesome. It’s as if someone transported Pekin Illinois brick by brick to the mountains. There was a petting zoo. There were hundreds of lacy doilies on the table. There were 80 year old women everywhere. There were piles of deep fried chicken everywhere. All of the employees were forced to wear outfits that would make the strictest Mormon bored to tears.
I was positively giddy when we sat down to dinner. And then it dawned on me. We never go to dinner with Eli and Luca. They had no idea how to behave. Elijah wondered loudly why his food was not on the table when we sat down. Luca immediately began an hour long effort to cover the walls of White Fence Farm with food. Eli then announced he would be visiting every one of the 1,000 tables in search of friends.
We decided to have wine.
I sat back and watched it happen. The flying food. The vain attempts by Diana to keep things together. The sideways glances of the Mormon servers. And I realized I could not physically be happier if they were loading the mashed potatoes with Vicodin.
I love being a dad. I love it more than I ever thought possible. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Thank you, Eli, Luca and Diana. I love you guys.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
I was on a flight back from California last week when I heard a dad and his young son a row behind. After listening to them for a while, I began to become intensely irritated.
No, not because the kid was crying. I have a strict policy of not getting irritated by crying babies on planes. Hear me, Karma? Hear me?
It was because the dad was putting on a show for the other passengers. It was the “Aren’t I the most hilarious dad” show. His responses to his son’s most basic questions were in sarcastic quip format.
“No…I don’t think the pilot will let you fly the plane, Logan.”
“Maybe the flight attendant will let you have a beer, Logan.”
And then he’d pause for laughter and applause. I couldn’t understand why it bugged me so much. He wasn’t screaming at his kid. He wasn’t hitting him. And then it dawned on me.
I DO THE SAME THING ALL THE TIME.
I realized 99.9% of my conversations with Elijah and Luca in public are for the benefit of passersby.
I like to think it’s to show off their impossible cuteness and hilariousness. But…no. It’s to portray myself as some kind of awesome sitcom dad to complete and utter strangers.
Why do I care if the checkout girl at Whole Foods thinks I’m a cool dad? I actually caught myself fake laughing on the street at something Eli didn’t say.
I know most of you are thinking, “Um, isn’t this basically what you do on this blog? Write stories to make you look like a cool dad?”
Damn. I’m kind of a jackass. But as far as our neighbors are concerned, I’m a cool dad jackass.
p.s. I’m convinced Diana sent me these photos to kill me with cuteness.
Monday, June 13, 2011
On Saturday, we had a fair amount of errand running/house un-destroying in preparation for a friendly BBQ. In true man-to-man defense style, I decided to bring Luca along with my chores.
Why did I choose him? First, because he isn’t at the stage where he questions my every move like a certain 4 year old we know. Second, I could guarantee at least two cripplingly cute things would come out of his mouth per hour. How can you not want to hang out with a kid who uses the word “Yippee” without a trace of irony?
Luca and I arrived at King Soopers after pointing out every car (“Car!”) and squirrel (“Kitty!”) along the way. For those of you who don’t know, King Soopers is exactly like Jewel Osco in the Midwest, except they can’t spell “Super.”
At least three times over the course of our shopping I had to stop and allow Luca to have an in depth conversation with an old lady. It would go something like…
“Well, hello, young man. Don’t you have the most beautiful blue eyes.”
“You have such a beautiful smile.”
“Are you shopping with your daddy?”
“Um…well. I must be going.”
While searching in vain for something Diana surely put on the shopping list to torture me, I spotted a rack of Matchbox cars. I could honestly think of no other child in King Soopers who deserved a 99 cent car more than Luca. So I nabbed a fire truck and handed to him.
“That’s right. A fire truck. It’s yours, pal.
I realized I had made a mistake. Luca wanted me to open up the package and let him play with the fire truck. Opening up things at a grocery store goes against everything I believe in. I loath parents who let their kids cram their fists into cereal boxes in the store (Diana does this). Why? It’s stealing. Pure and simple. What happens if you suddenly get called away to an emergency and you can’t pay for your opened package? You go to hell. That’s what happens.
I tried to ignore his increasingly loud pleas of “Fire truck!” I tried to explain in detail that he would get his mitts on the fire truck the moment we left, but I simply didn’t want to break the law and go to hell just for a little piece of metal and plastic.
“FIRE TRUCK!!!!!!” He had hurt little tears in his eyes and I could not prevent him the object of his desire any longer. As I ripped open the package (among what I imagined was the coming horde of security guards) and handed it over to the gleeful cherub, I wondered what I would’ve done if he was screaming “BUTCHER KNIFE” or “VIAL OF COCAINE!”
Luca spent the rest of the day showing everyone his “New fire truck! New fire truck!” Right before our BBQ, he fell down our back stairs because his fire truck stuffed hand wasn’t holding onto the railing. I felt like we were being punished by the King Sooper gods.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I came home from work yesterday in kind of a grump mood. My grump mood lasted almost 30 whole seconds before Elijah came up to me and gestured me to bend down to Eli level.
“Dada,” he whispered. “I think we should tickle Mommy. I’ll distract her and you tickle her.”
At which point he walked up to her and shouted, “I am distracting you, Mommy!”
Suddenly, life seemed full of endless possibilities. And I decided right then and there to switch Luca from bottles to Sippie Cups. Our doctor has been encouraging us to wean Luca off bottles for a while. I’m not sure the medical reason. Maybe she doesn’t want him to have to bring baby bottles to college.
Anyhoo, we haven’t been really trying to get him to make the switch. Why? Because he looks so damned cute walking around in nothing but a diaper with a bottle in one hand and a fire truck in the other. And I’ll miss his shouting of, “BA-BA!” at 5:50am.
But I was full of milk and vinegar last night and declared in my head that I was making the switch.
After his bath, I asked Luca if he wanted to drink his milk out of a “Big Boy Sippie Cup.”
I handed him the cup and said, “Look out! Big boy coming through! Stand back!”
The funny thing is, he was actually proud of himself. There was a distinct swagger to his toddler stumble. And he stopped in front of Elijah and dramatically drank from his cup to get his attention. Like all big brothers, Eli ignored him.
I scooped him up and laid Luca on the changing table. As I removed his diaper, Luca tried to drink from the Sippie Cup. A much different experience than drinking from the flow control of a bottle. He immediately chocked on the deluge of milk and had a violent coughing fit.
I righted him on the floor, repeating, “You’re ok, you’re ok.”
And then he barfed all over himself. And me. Disgusting, toddler food barf. Elijah just happened into the room.
“Barf!” Said Luca.
“Should I go get mommy?”
“No,” I said. “We don’t need to bring her into this,” I tried to mop up the barf with Luca’s pajamas.
“Barf!” Said Luca.
“I think we should get Mommy.”
“No! Leave her out of this!”
Eli then began shouting for his mother.
Diana came down and observed the situation. Child covered in barf. Husband covered in barf. Sippie Cup covered in barf. Floor covered in barf.
She realized life was full of endless possibilities.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I raced halfway across the country on my personal airplane that I shared with 500 of my closest friends. Once on the ground, I hopped in a cab. And $75 later, viola! I was in the puppy pile that is my loving family.
Elijah took time away from PBSKids.com to acknowledge my existence. He pointed out a pile of chocolate chip cookies sent by our friend Kitty on the counter. I asked how many he had eaten that day.
“I don’t like chocolate,” he said.
“What are you, a communist?”
Thankfully, Luca came running across the kitchen, shouting, “Cookie! Cookie! Cookie!”
I lifted up the man after my own heart and gave him a cookie. He greedily took a huge bite, smearing chocolate all over his face. My stomach turned a little and I set him back on the ground.
I announced to everyone that I needed to pee pee and I headed to our facilities. Luca was close on my heels.
I left the door open because it’s my rental house and I can do whatever I want. Luca entered, curious as ever to the process of non-diaper urination.
“Yep, you got that right.”
“Two for two. That is, in fact, my penis.”
Then Luca reached out with his still cookie clad hand.
“No! No! No! No touching my pee!”
I tried to bat his hand away with my one free hand, but he was quick. Within seconds, his once delicious cookie was saturated.
At which point his 19 month old brain wondered, “Does a pee covered chocolate chip cookie taste good? Or bad?”
I used my free hand to knock the cookie from his hand. He was furious.
“You should be thanking me!”
We then spent the next dozen or so minutes vigorously washing our hands and looking on the bathroom floor for a wet cookie.
Monday, June 6, 2011
How do I know I’ve turned into an old man? I asked for J Crew pocket t-shirts for my birthday. That was it. No matter how hard Diana prodded, I’d just mutter, “J Crew pocket t-shirts,” and then go back to hiking up my pants and complaining about local government and teenagers’ hairstyles.
Thankfully, Diana wouldn’t take “J Crew pocket t-shirts” as an answer and surprised me with a visit from my brother Steve over Memorial Day weekend! Having him in town was better than a whole drawer full of J Crew Pocket T-Shirts. Even the ones that look like they’ve been worn by someone who actually works for a living and then sent to me.
He arrived late Friday night, well after the boys were in bed.
Sunday morning when they woke up at 5:55am, I made the mistake of telling Elijah and Luca that their long missed uncle was sleeping in their very house. I spent the next two hours fending off their surprisingly organized attacks on our guest room.
Eventually Steve did open the door and accepted their onslaught. Eli was positively giddy at seeing his uncle. Luca was a little more skeptical. I don’t think he remembered how much we look alike and was quite disturbed his dada doppelganger wore glasses. Steve had to walk around blurry vision-ed to keep Luca from bursting into tears.
Steve, Elijah and I traveled to Mork and Mindy’s hometown of Boulder to have lunch and visit the Crocs store and we spent a delightful afternoon drinking beers and playing in the Luca Car.
And then Steve destroyed our house.
Steve and I went out for beers after dinner. So many beers that the idea of coming back to our house and watching the “Family Guy” Star Wars parody sounded like a great idea.
As Steve figured out how to turn the TV on in the guest room, I suggested officially grabbing one too many beers from the fridge. Steve heartily agreed. I took one step into the kitchen and squished into 2 inches of piping hot water. I noticed water gushing from behind our dishwasher. The hot water line had burst.
Unfortunately, the water gushing wasn’t limited to our kitchen. We had a miniature waterfall in our basement as well. Thankfully (knock on soggy drywall) it was isolated to our laundry room and not on our sons’ heads.
But Steve spent is final day in Denver watching our landlord pace our house, biting his nails to the quick.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Too many hours in front of TV as a child has given me fairly unrealistic expectations for my holiday celebrations. If my Christmas morning doesn’t include footy pajamas and a Red Rider BB Gun, I fall into a funk. If Halloween isn’t attended by at least one WW1 Flying Ace, I sulk in my Han Solo/Pirate costume.
So when I heard we were attending a real, live Memorial Day BBQ at our friends, The Goodriches, I fought hard against my mental demands that it be perfect. But deep down I needed it to be completely awesome.
When we arrived, it was 72 and sunny. Check. There was delicious Colorado beer in ironic cans. Check. There were both hot dogs and watermelon. Check. There were water guns. Double check. As I watched Jimmy’s kids, Tom’s kids and my kids chase each other through the sprinklers and occasionally cry, I realized this may be it. The holiday that lives up to every Brady Bunch episode ever.
Then Madeline, Tom’s unbelievably cute daughter, asked for permission to take her pants off.
Jimmy’s son then exclaimed, “I’m a naked boy!” And before I could protest, every child in attendance took their clothes off. There was no where for my eyes to gaze that wasn’t filled with watermelon covered naked bellies and soaked superhero underpants.
Elijah, of course, needed to be reminded constantly that we were keeping our underwear on.
I noticed that Luca kept all his clothes on. He seemed to look at the other nudie kids with mild contempt as well. I mouthed, “I love you,” to him.
But ten minutes later I found him shirtless in the sandbox, rubbing sand all over his naked belly.
p.s. I have, literally, hundreds of photos of this inappropriateness. But they broke my computer.