Wednesday, November 30, 2011
As a child, asthma prevented me from being able to play outside with the other kids in my neighborhood. So I found comfort in the magic of movies, which turned into a lifelong passion. I would go on to direct masterpieces like "Taxi Driver" and "Goodfellas." Wait. That’s Martin Scorsese. Well, still. I like movies a whole lot.
And for four and a half years, I’ve been waiting for a time when Elijah would be able to sit through a whole 2 hour flick at the theater without freaking out and forcing me to leave early (Rick Hamann fact: The only movie I’ve ever walked out on is Ghostbusters 2).
Well, last weekend I decided it was time for Eli’s first movie. Not because Eli had reached any major developmental milestone. “The Muppets” came out and I wanted to see it and going by myself would seem creepy at best.
Now, if you are Tom Goodrich, you are probably thinking, “Hey. He’s lying. Rick and Eli went to see Cars 2 with me and my son Davis in Colorado.” To which I say, “Tom, let’s keep that to ourselves and let me tell my story, huh?”
Where was I? Oh yes. Lying.
Last Sunday, my brother and his kids went with us to “The Muppets.” While we waited for them to pick us up at our house, Eli hit Luca and I threatened him if he hit his brother again, I’d cancel our movie and we’d just stay home. He hit Luca again, but I pretended not to see it. The show must go on.
We arrived at the theatre and Elijah was extremely excited. Not for the movie, but for popcorn in a bag. So, Sodium in hand, we took our seats in a theater packed to the gills with kids. I figured even if Eli had a meltdown, he’d be in good company.
I loved the fact that he demanded to sit next to his best pal and cousin, Finn. But it also broke a chip off my heart.
Eli wasn’t quite sure how to behave at the movies, so he aped everything his cousin did. I could not convince Eli to take his jacket off because Finn wore his. And then Finn removed his jacket and I got to hold Eli’s.
None of the kids really liked the film (My review: 3 ½ HamannEggs) but they did great and I hope to take Eli to many, many more movies soon. Does anyone know when “Saw VI” comes out?
Monday, November 28, 2011
Luca’s official birthday party went off without a hitch. It was great and hilarious and filled with friends and cousins and cake and pizza and probably the greatest fire truck in the world (thanks Iris). But you know what the problem with a perfect birthday party is? It ain’t blog worthy. Filling this page with a detailed account of how well behaved everyone was is b-o-r-i-n-g.
So I’ll give you 2 short Luca stories to make up for it. One involving poop.
Diana says it best: On time for a Hamann is ten minutes early. I need to be on time. Ask anyone who works with or is married to me. On. Time. Unluckily for me, no one in my direct family takes after me. On Thanksgiving, our goal was to hit the road in the morning. And well after noon no one was ready to go but me and I was a little testy about it.
I gathered up a sopping wet pile of clothes from the bathroom and huffed up the stairs. Half way up, I smelled something…evil. Logically and illogically, I placed my nose into the wet clothes in my hands to find the source of the stink. Nope, just garden variety urine. Three quarters up the stairs I found it: a perfect poop. It was really flawless. If I asked you to draw me a piece of poop, this would be it.
Naturally, I blamed Grover. I balled up my fist (in my mind) and searched him out. But at the top of the stairs I found Luca, naked, standing over another perfect poop.
He said, “I made a poop, Dad!”
“I can see that,” I said, trying to act angry.
Luca said, “I sit on the steps?” (For those of you who are new to the blog, you wrong me? You sit on the steps).
I said, “Sit? You’re one letter off, pal.”
As I alluded to on Luca’s birthday post, we are digging out our basement. Our current basement was built in 1890, apparently when people only grew to be 4’5” tall. So I have to duck whenever I want to sneak beers in peace.
Anyhoo, Diana got the idea to dig out our basement to make it normal person sized and eventually make a kick ass playroom to sneak beers in. Digging out our basement is the awesome Tim, from Windy City Unlimited Concrete. Tim could not be more Chicago if he was constructed from parts of Mike Ditka and Dorothy Hamill (She’s way more Chicago than Capone).
Anyway, as a pure Chicago man, he feels the need to come over every once and a while to make sure as the man of the house I’m okay with his work. He’ll come over and pound on our door, crush my hand in his paw and use words I have never heard like “underpinning” and “manual labor.”
The other night, Tim was standing in our basement explaining again how this procedure will not destroy our house when Elijah came running in. I shooed him out saying, “No no no. Men talking here. Besides, it’s dirty down here. And double besides, you need to be upstairs watching Luca.”
As if on cue, Luca entered the filthy basement having freshly removed every bit of clothing I had recently applied. Luca then began a very authentic impersonation of a home inspector. Looking in corners, kicking cement, knocking on pipes. Tim didn’t miss a beat except to say, “Kids are funny,” and continued speaking contractor-ese to me.
p.s. My brother Steve wanted me to advertise his new art blog to all seven of my readers: stevehamann.blogspot.com.
Friday, November 25, 2011
On Wednesday, God gave Luca his birthday present a few days early by way of “Windy City Unlimited Concrete.” A massive cement mixer parked in front of our house. The purpose of which will be revealed in another blog post. No, it is not a full sized statue of me. Despite my lobbying. Luca and his cousin Rory sat by our front window screaming like it was Beatlemania. Luca kept shouting, “That’s crazy! That’s crazy!”
Yesterday, we took the crew out to Lisle for Thanksgiving and a mini Luca party. Diana’s dad provided the best gift of the day, a massive yard that has yet to be raked, and will not be raked this year. “I plan on letting the snow cover it,” he said proudly. The boys and their female doppelganger cousins, Sheila and Serena, jumped in massive piles of damp tree droppings.
The adult guests tried and mostly succeeded to keep the mood up, as this was out first Thanksgiving without Di’s mom. We had a lovely meal and Luca received some awesome gifts. I’ll give you a hint what they were: it rhymes with “truck.”
Luca slept so hard on the ride home that woke terrified and screaming when we unbuckled him from his car seat. His screams echoed through the house and he woke up several times throughout the night to scream. Apparently, turning his personal calendar over is painful. I completely understand as I look down the barrel of 40.
Tomorrow, we will be giving Luca an official birthday party with the Evanston crew. Elijah, and only Elijah, thinks it’s a surprise party. He keeps saying, “Let’s just tell him not true things!”
Luca, this next part is just for you.
I love you, buddy. But it’s not like you make it hard. You are simply the most loveable kid I’ve ever met. You are the funniest, happiest, kindest, cutest little boy currently residing on planet Earth. You approach everything with such glee. Running, playing, watching TV, crying. Even your screams in the middle of the night seem to come from a place of glee. As I write this, you are perched on a stool, shouting, “Help! Help!” But your shouts are nothing but gleeful.
I wish I could give you a cement truck every day of your life.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Since moving back to the greater Chicagoland area, I’ve contracted a little germ phobia. Maybe it’s because I got a little too used to the sterility of Denver. But every time I hop on the subway now I get the heebie jeebies. I don’t remember the poles being so hot. And wet. I’m about five minutes away from carrying a permanent tissue in my hand.
So what better way to rid myself of this fear than take Elijah and Luca on the train? Back in the infant Luca days, Eli and I would escape the crying and boobs and ride the rails like two hobos. And what’s better than two hobos? Three hobos.
We walked to the El and I noticed how people would actually slow their cars down to check out my cute boys. I’d tell Eli and Luca to wave at them to see if they’d crash their cars.
Once we got to the El platform, I gave the rules. Rule number one: DO NOT fall onto the tracks. Rule number two: DO NOT push your brother onto the tracks.
We looked across the tracks to the Southbound line. The only other people at the Dempster stop was a dad and his son. Clearly on a crying/boob escape run.
Of course, Elijah shouted, “What are you doing?”
The dad said, “We’re riding the train!”
Eli responded, “No! You’re riding the El!”
The man shuffled his son away and our train arrived. The conductor came out and said, “Are these boys or girls?”
I thought, “Really? They’re in blue jackets and Star Wars hats.” But I let it slide because she offered to toot the horn for them.
Luca was entranced. He loved ever moment of the train. He kept looking at me dead in the eye and saying in hushed tones, “We’re riding the train…”
Eli cured my germ phobia by constantly biting the train pole. I informed him that if the train stopped short he’d get his teeth knocked out. He looked at me like, “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
We hit the end of the line and back and I added on a trip to the pet store, where the awesome clerks brought out a giant turtle. I discovered Elijah is terrified of giant turtles.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
I share an office with a pretty great guy whose kids are much older than Elijah and Luca. We were speaking the other day about when the constant panic of being a dad wanes. I told him I expected it to happen when Luca gets married, because then he’ll officially be someone else’s problem. Hopefully when he's 15. But my office mate assured me that his parenting sphincter loosened (maybe not his exact words) when his kids stopped falling down all the time.
Yeah, I thought. Maybe it’s his disproportionate head size. Maybe it’s his proximity to pointy things. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a klutz. But Luca’s body is in a constant state of healing. As of this writing, he has a split lip, a scratch on his face and around thirty bruises.
There are advantages to being a klutzy almost two year old. He gets lots of kisses from his mother. At least thrice a day Luca will smash into something, like Elijah’s fist, start screaming and then find himself in the loving arms of his mother. She’ll soothe him by asking, “Shall I kiss it?”
To which he always says, “Yesh.”
Lately Luca has been skipping a few steps to save time. He’ll reach out a hurt appendage and say, “Kiss it!” Usually, this appendage is covered in Beefaroni. Or slugs. And he’ll hold it out, dripping and say, “Kiss it!”
“Do I have to?”
I can’t say no, so I try to kiss his Beefaroni finger or eyeball with as little actual contact as possible. It’s all the more difficult because I’m beginning to suspect the Beefaroni appendages aren’t actually hurt and he just wants to see if he can get me to do it.
Just know, Elijah came into the room and asked what I was doing. I said, “I am writing a story about Luca.”
“So I can remember the funny stuff you guys do.”
“Will you read it to me?”
So I just read it to Elijah and he simply said, “Hmmm,” and walked away.
Everybody is a critic.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Elijah is by no means a bad kid. He’s extremely well behaved 99% of the time. But we’re greedy, so Diana instituted a sticker behavior chart.
When Di attached it to the fridge, I was surprised by its complication. The chart was a maze of Elijah accomplishments from “Listening” to “Being nice to Luca” to “Breathing in and out.” 5 stickers would result in a trip to Target to purchase a Star Wars guy of his choice.
Because the behaviors included “Putting on your clothes” and “Trying new things,” Elijah nailed 5 stickers in about 15 minutes. So off to Target we went.
Standing in front of the Star Wars figures wall, I found myself arguing with him about what guy to buy. Luca sat patiently in the cart, wondering how he could be related to these two nerds.
Plastic figure selected, I moved on to buying something for son #2. No, he doesn’t have a sticker chart. But his cuteness alone warrants a constant stream of gifts. Besides, buying Luca a toy is like shooting fish in a barrel. Fire Trucks. End of story.
We went to the truck aisle and I handed him a few fire trucks to review. He ended up selecting a truck with little yellow buttons on the top, when depressed sound like this, “WHEEEOOOOO!”
In the vast landscape that is Target, I didn’t realize how loud this sucker is. But once we got into the car, the sound filled the tiny space with horror. WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO! One the ride home, I kept pulling over to let emergency vehicles pass that didn’t exist.
Once we got home, I realized what a huge mistake this particular toy was. It was loud. Real loud. WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO! Because it was so loud, Luca loved it. His tiny fingers were mashed on the yellow buttons 24 hours a day. WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO! WHEEEOOOOO!
But, as it turns out, tiny chubby fingers weren’t the only way to make this horrific sound. Pick up the fire truck?
Trip over the fire truck?
Look at the fire truck?
Think about the fire truck in the middle of the night?
Throw the fire truck into the garbage?
Remove the fire truck from the garbage when Luca cries?
p.s. Here’s Luca with his pal JB. They are in a fierce battle over who is the cutest baby in the world.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I don’t want to be the yelling dad. I hate it when I raise my voice at Elijah, and to a hugely lesser extent, Luca. When I turn into Mad Dad I instantly regret it and feel like I’ve failed as a parent.
Which brings me to yesterday lunch.
I mentally agreed with myself earlier in the weekend to approach any and all Elijah frustrations with a Zen-like calm. Kill ‘im with kindness, I say.
I tested this approach by making both boys some of the grossest risotto in the history of the world for lunch. Before you think I am some kind of gourmet, it came from a bag, adding to its grossness. I tasted the orange (roasted butternut squash!) goo and immediately knew neither boy would consume more than a bite of it. But I was determined to expose them to food beyond macaroni and cheese, so I demanded they both eat one full spoonful before I would make them pizza.
Luca ate his spoonful with utter glee and then dumped the entire contents onto the floor for Grover. This kept Mad Dad at bay because, yes, he did technically eat one bite. Grover loved it, by the way.
Elijah took one look at the orange goo, made all the more disgusting by the fact I served it in an orange bowl, and retreated to the couch.
I quickly followed and explained the situation. He would need to eat one full bite of food in order to eat any other food for the rest of his life. Simple.
“I don’t feel good.” He made a little hugging gesture around his waist.
“Nice try. Get in there and eat one bite. Then I will make you delicious, non orange goo pizza.” I felt pretty good. He was being obstinate and whiny, but I felt completely in control.
I calmly explained non-eating would result in me calling off our planned visit to see his cousins.
“No you are not. Get. In. There. And Eat.” I could feel my skin turning slightly green, hulk style. But unlike David Banner, I took a deep breath and calmed down.
Rather than continue the fight on the couch, I gathered Eli up and gently placed him on his chair in front of the goo.
“One bite. That’s all I ask. Please. Then you can have a pound of pizza.”
This went back and forth for a few rounds. And then I snapped like a cheap rubber band.
“Go sit on the steps!” I bellowed. I loudly proclaimed that Eli was not getting another bite of food until dinner and no one, not mommy, not Luca, not Grover, was allowed to feed him under penalty of getting some of the same yelling at Eli was experiencing.
Elijah sat on the stairs and cried. I angrily told him he was being a bad boy and was making me furious. Eli cried harder.
Eventually, I dumped the disgusting risotto down the drain and sulked. Elijah eventually came off the steps without eating and went until dinner with no additional food.
Turns out he was, in fact, sick. As a dog. As evidenced by his raging fever and stomach cramps that came on at 10pm last night.
As I smoothed his sweaty hair away from his forehead, I felt like I earned an F minus as a dad and I asked him for forgiveness. He did not grant me this. Or that’s what I could gather from his moans.
So I’ll simply attempt to raise my grade to a D this next weekend.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I try not to make this a “Kids Say The Darndest Things” blog. For starters, Bill Cosby had that market covered in 1995. And if I spent all my time on this blog relaying the hilarious things Elijah and Luca say I’d be missing out on my favorite subject: me.
But today I’ll make an exception.
Last night I made it home in time to participate in crazy time. Diana and I laid in our bed and watched as Luca and Eli ran from room to room screaming and shouting and generally terrorizing Grover.
At one point, Elijah stopped short and looked at us in the bed.
“I have to get the camera.”
He arrived several seconds late with our ancient digital camera around his neck. He began to art direct us for the perfect shot.
“Turn that light off. Move over to the left.” He was practically saying “Work it…work it…”
He snapped off a few hundred shots and some of them were quite good. Diana said, “Eli, maybe you could be a photographer when you grow up.”
I immediately thought, “There’s no money in that.”
Eli looked at us and thought for a moment. He said, “No. I’ll be too busy being Luca’s dad.”
Thursday, November 10, 2011
A quick story to begin that has nothing to do with today’s blog except for the fact it’s cute:
Diana tossed Luca into a shopping cart in the Target parking lot and they entered through the automatic glass doors. The moment they hit the red carpeting, Luca breathed deeply and sighed, “Ahh. Smells like Target.”
Anyhoo, we’re white. Really, really white. The combination of both Diana and my DNA is a black hole of pigment. This whiteness makes me I worry my sons will only have white experiences and white friends and white bread sandwiches. So whenever Elijah takes a mild interest in someone or something non-white, I overpraise to the point ruining whatever it is he was curious about in the first place.
Which brings me to Spanish.
Eli has been learning the occasional Spanish word at Pre School. When we’re driving around, he’ll say things like, “Dad. Did you know how to say ‘one’ in Spanish? ‘Uno.’”
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awesome! You know how to say ‘uno!’ That is the greatest thing in the history of the world! Uno! UNO! Wow. That’s really, really great. I hope you can use this talent with your future Latin American friends.”
Well, like any four year old whose father just spewed praise all over the back seat, he’s beun making up Spanish words to get me to say how smart he is.
“Dad, do you know to say ‘pasta salad’ in Spanish?”
“Ah. Are you sure? That doesn’t even sound Spanish.”
“Dad. Do you know how to say ‘cat’ in Spanish?”
“I know that one. ‘Gato.’”
“No, it’s ‘Plecolatical flangol.’”
“Wait, isn’t that just what you said ‘pasta salad’ was in Spanish?”
Incidentally, Google just informed me “Pasta Salad” in Spanish is “Ensalada de Pasta.”
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
After 4+ years, the blog has fallen into some predicable patterns. Summers are filled with stories of my intense fear of the boys near swimming pools. Spring is focused entirely on the lead up and let down of Elijah’s birthday and Winter revolves around my weepy and sappy year end notes to my family.
But Fall? Fall is all about Daylight Savings Time. This meaningless turn back of the clock never ceases to toss our family onto its ear. It always, always breaks the boys. They wake up at 4am. They sleep fitfully and angrily. They make me grouchy at new jobs.
Luca has been particularly affected this go around. Each night at bedtime, he stands in his crib shouting our names to tuck him in for the 99th time. Even Grover. He springs awake 5-100 times a night and attempts to wake up his roommate brother. All of which can be heard over the baby monitor.
“Eli! Eli! EEEEEEEEEEEEEELI!”
“Luca! Be. Quiet.”
“Luca! No! Bad boy!”
After this goes on for a while, I feel compelled to save Elijah and try to get Luca back to sleep. I kind of love it, though. Oh, I try to act mad when I go in there.
“Luca. You need to go sleepies.”
“Can I watch Fireman Sam?”
But then comes the greatest part. The rocking. Even though Luca seems wide awake, he’s usually exhausted from sleeping ½ hour a night. So when we arrive at the rocking chair, he clamps onto me like one of those Kuala Bear thumb toys.
It takes about three seconds for him to fall asleep, but I like to just sit there and listen to his heavy breathing.
Baby sleep experts will tell you this is the worst thing you can do. To reset the sleep patterns, you gotta put them down to bed and walk away. Allowing a baby to be rocked in the middle of the night will create a pattern of neediness and sleeplessness that can take months to fix.
But I’m fairly sure if the experts were hugged by Luca in the middle of the night, they’d give me a pass on this one.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I officially had my first day at the new job this week. And with that comes a lot of stress. What button down shirt do I wear? The checkered one or the other checkered one? And don’t get me started on choosing those first day pair of jeans. Come in on the first day with the wrong jeans? You may as well just turn right around and go home.
So it was with these things on my mind that I bedded down on New Job’s Eve. I managed to drift off fairly easily (Thank you, inventor of Pinot Noir). However, the germs that had invaded Elija earlier collectively decided I should not have the opportunity to sleep.
I awoke at 2am to a bull seal attempting to crawl out of Eli’s throat. He was coughing so ferociously it rattled the windows. Like any caring father, I closed our bedroom door to shut out the sound. I then prayed he would remain in his bed and not want to sleep with us. The answer to my prayer came in Elijah coughing into my face.
“I’m sick,” he moaned.
“Climb aboard,” I whispered, wiping my face. As Eli nestled in, I looked at the clock. If I immediately fell asleep, I would still be 50% alive on my first day. I shut my eyes.
This is when Eli decided to put his cold feet on me. Two pieces of sashimi laid across my thighs. I whispered, “Please don’t put your feet on me. I hate that. Daddy needs to sleep or he won’t make a good impression on his first day and first impressions are the most important…”
Eli responded by coughing.
I abandoned ship, knowing I’d never sleep in the current situation. Elijah responded by rolling completely onto my side of the bed.
I was exhausted. So I stumbled into the boys’ room and crawled into Eli’s bed. Check that. I crawled into Eli's torture chamber. The rock hard mattress and sharp particle board was specifically designed by the good people at IKEA to ruin my first day at work.
I stared at the ceiling for hours, feeling the particle board dig into my calf muscles. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 5:15am. I closed my eyes. At 5:35am, Luca discovered me in his brother’s bed and began shrieking happily at this oddity.
So now I’m known at the office as the sleepy guy.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
My brother and his Star Wars posse showed up at precisely 4:30pm. We snapped our yearly Halloween photo on the front steps, which looked like a group photo in front of Comicon, then we headed out on our official Trick or Treating route: from our house to Kitty’s house for beers.
Before we hit the first smashed pumpkin porch, we coached Elijah. “Here are your lines: ‘Trick or treat!’ Wait for the candy. Then, ‘Thank you!’ Wave to the audience and move on.”
Eli nodded his comprehension and attacked.
“Trick or treat! I don’t like chocolate!”
This little ad lib took our neighbor completely aback. A four year old who doesn’t like chocolate? Um. Isn’t chocolate the complete point of Halloween? Our neighbor peered into her plastic orange bowl.
“Well, honey. All I think we have is chocolate…”
Elijah looked at the Snickers in his hand and threw it, disgustedly back into the bowl. Life lesson time.
Eli listened intently as we explained Halloween is not a grocery store. If people were nice enough to give out candy and it happened to be chocolate, he was to say, “Thanks anyway!” and either smile and back away from the porch or take the chocolate for dada.
For the rest of the night, I took sick pleasure at watching the expressions on people’s faces when Eli informed them that he was not a fan of chocolate. A few dads rushed back into the house to find a replacement. We’d shout, “Don’t worry about it,” from the street, but some people were determined to find something, anything to give this tiny Star Wars guy. A spoon. A chicken leg. A TV remote.
Eventually, we made it to Kitty’s house.
Now, if you remember from last year, Kitty really does up her place. Spooky music. Bonfire. Hay. And she also had a battery operated zombie that caused Elijah permanent mental damage. This year, I thought, “He’s 4. He can handle a little zombie action. Hell, he’s seen countless dudes get murdered on Star Wars. What’s a little bloody grey guy?”
Um, no. As soon as Eli caught sight of the zombie, his memories from last year came flooding back and he began screaming hysterically. Spilling his non chocolate treats all over the grass.
I scooped him up and shout-whispered in his ear, “He can’t hurt you. He can’t hurt you. He can’t hurt you.”
But Eli wouldn’t listen. He shrieked until we got him safely inside Kitty’s, where I could calm myself with a Bud Light.
We asked Kitty to keep the zombie every year until Eli comes to grips with his fear. Then we will allow him to smash it with a baseball bat. That doesn’t seem like psychological abuse at all.