Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A few months ago, we stumbled into our local public library looking for something to do. After a few minutes trying to find that elusive combination of Star Wars and Dump Truck book (you’re sitting on a potential gold mine, George Lucas) one of the librarians informed us there was a kids’ drum circle ready to begin next door. This, we had to see.
The drum circle dude was the most perfectly cast gentle drum circle guy ever. He stunk, of course. He had inexplicable bracelets and non-ironic peace t-shirt. And shoes which were left at home.
He did a fairly good job keeping the attention of a room full of kids who’d rather be watching Sponge Bob. And he didn’t seem to mind that not a single one could hold a beat (because he was stoned).
But I didn’t truly fall in love with his gentlemen until he taught my son how to make the “drummer face.” He described it thusly: scrunch your nose up like you smell something bad. Then nod your head “yes” and shake your head “no.” It was perfect.
Elijah has been using his newfound drummer face a lot lately. Diana and I have been having a secret battle of music in the kitchen. “Phish” vs “Wilco.” It has to be confusing to our kids. Should they love music designed for white suburban 30 somethings or Caucasian 30 somethings from the suburbs?
Neither one really blows the doors off the house. They are designed to be listened to in dorm rooms by black light.
So the other night I was flipping through my ipod and stumbled across that classic Guns N’ Roses album, “Appetite For Destruction.” Don’t ask me why it was there. I must have been angry in the recent past.
I cranked it up and said, “Who wants to learn how to rock?” Then I played that anthem of trailerparks everywhere, “Welcome To The Jungle.”
Both boys stood agape. I actually thought it was scaring them. But suddenly, Elijah broke out his drummer face and started thrashing around the kitchen. Luca immediately jumped in and they made their own little pre-school mosh pit. Grover leapt on me and humped me furiously. I imagined our landlord neighbors peeking in our windows and praying we’d leave for Evanston sooner than we said.
Once the song was over, I tried to keep the energy up with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” or “Paradise City,” but Elijah kept shouting, “No! No Daddy! Put the surprising song on again. The SURPRISING SONG!”
And then he would make is drummer face.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Hi guys, my dad keeps asking me to let the dog do a post. Grover’s been kind of sulky lately, but he agreed to get off the couch and write. Take it away, Grover.
Hi gang, it’s me your loveable pal Grover. Sorry I haven’t written lately. I’ve been a little depressed ever since we moved to the mountains. The Man told me I’d get to hunt and eat an elk when we moved out here. But it’s been almost year and no elk. I’m fatter than ever. And my fur is falling out. All because I haven’t been able to hunt and kill an elk. It’s really affecting me. This elk thing. Seriously, if I wasn’t going to kill an elk, what was the point of being out here?
So I convinced The Man and The Woman to move back to Evanston.
It was hard. Because I can’t speak English. I had to do it with my eyes. I sat there at The Man’s feet and stared at The Man and told him with my mind, “This Denver thing isn’t working out. You miss Evanston. I miss Evanston. You’re a Midwesterner, man. Your sons want to go back. The Woman lost her mom and she should be with her family. You’ve got that house sitting there waiting for you. And there hasn’t been a single elk that’s come through the yard for me to hunt and kill. Your brother, The Other Man Who Smells Like The Man, is there. Your friends who smell like beer and basements are there. You gave it a shot and it was fun. But it’s time to move back. Time to be where you belong. You can get a job in Chicago doing whatever it is you do. Based on your breath, I assume it has something to do with liquor. I miss the toxic waste smell of Lake Michigan. I miss the stench of pretension on your neighbors. I miss the lax leash laws.”
And then The Man stared back at me with comprehension and said to The Woman, “Do we need to feed the dog?”
Then The Woman said, “Let’s go back to Illinois.”
The Man said, “Fine by me.”
So we’re heading back home. In a couple weeks. Stay tuned.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I mentioned this last week, but Luca’s end of the night ritual is to go sit on his little potty in our bathroom. It’s awesome for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s kind of tough for him to sit down on the potty with his back to it, so he looks an awful lot like an old man easing himself into his favorite La-Z-Boy.
But the real reason I love it is the chatting.
Since Luca isn’t really sure when and if his pee will arrive, he needs to sit for a little while. To help pass the time, I sit across from him on our full sized toilet. Mostly I have my pants on. Notice how I said “mostly.” Anyhoo, we sit and we chat. Well, I ask him questions about his day and he answers. It’s more like a Letterman interview, without the snark.
“Did you play in the sandbox today?”
“Did you eat any sand?”
“Did you play trucks?
“Did you eat the trucks?”
And so on and so forth. The thing is, I think he genuinely looks forward to our little chats. I know I sure as heck do. Life goes by so fast, it’s rare when we can just sit down and talk like human beings. About eating sand.
Elijah sometimes comes in to listen. But he doesn’t butt in on the conversation. He just sits on my lap and listens to Luca’s answers. He’s genuinely interested in Luca and I love him for that.
Eventually, Luca will pee or not and I’ll force him to go to bed. And then Diana and I sit in front of the TV and quietly drink wine.
I think tonight I am going to invite her into the potty for some conversation.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I was kind of surprised by the response to my “Jake” post the other week. It seems a creepy kid who walks in unannounced seems to have struck a nerve. My brother in law Michael asked me never to write about him again.
Elijah, Luca and I went to the park last Sunday to let Diana study for her online wine course (glug glug glug). We were playing “Chewie, punch it.” Which entails holding a kid up in the swings until he cries, “Chewie, punch it!” Then I get to make a Chewbacca sound and release them into hyperspace.
After about the 50th “Chewie, punch it,” I realized Luca had completely filled his diaper. And I didn’t have a fresh one. So I pooped on our party and declared it time to go.
We were making our way through the park when I got a sudden chill. I spun around and there he was. Jake. My new nemesis. He was huffing and puffing and looking like that special kind of dorky that accompanies wearing roller blades and a red polo shirt.
“I’ve been looking all over for you!”
“Neat, you found us,” I said unenthusiastically. I wondered how this kid knew we were at the park. Was he evil enough to read minds?
I also spotted Miss Carol, his grandmother, trailing far behind in her motorized cart.
“You made your grandma come all the way over here in her cart?”
“What a grandma will do for her grandson, huh?” She said. At which point she hit a curb wrong and pitched over onto his side. A group of Denverites lifted her back up.
I then had to break it to Jake and his grandmother that we were headed in the opposite direction, given Luca’s diaper situation. I could see the thought of rolling all the way back home cross Miss Carol’s face. So I offered to walk with her and Jake back to our street.
Elijah blurted out the words, “Jake do you want to come over to play?”
I bugged my eyes out and hissed at him, “No no no no no no no.”
But Jake was already skating towards our house. I accompanied Miss Carol back to her house and I walked in saw Diana, who was not surprised we were with Jake.
“Judas!” I shouted. She had sold our location out. Jake ran off to play with Elijah. But he somehow found it necessary to remove his pants while he played.
I decided it was a perfect time for a beer.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Sorry for the short post today, but the following articulates exactly why I love being a dad:
Diana, Elijah and Luca were driving across town to pick me up after work last night. Elijah was most likely peppering Diana with constant questions about how to kill different Star Wars characters. Suddenly, the following exchange occurred:
Eli shouted, “Mom! Mom! Smell the air! Smell the air!”
Diana looked in the rearview mirror and said, “Eli, did you toot?”
Elijah began laughing uncontrollably. He had nailed the greatest four year old’s joke in the world. The car had almost calmed down when Luca piped up, enthusiastically.
“It smells like tacos!”
I believe it took everything in Diana’s power not to crash the car from laughing so hard.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I spent a good deal of Sunday with Elijah at a birthday party. He was a complete joy the whole afternoon. The fact he got to spend 2 hours in a bouncy castle may have helped his demeanor. But I arrived home pleased as punch.
We burst through the front door and shouted for Luca and mommy, and there was a five minute running and jumping fest.
Suddenly, something felt a little off. There seemed to be too many of us. So I counted kids. 1. 2. 3. Three kids? I could’ve sworn we stopped at 2. So I counted again, thinking I was mistaking a black dog for a boy.
Nope. There was an extra boy in our house. I gestured to the new boy and Diana said, “How did Jake get in here?” The new boy had a name. Jake. And apparently Jake had followed Eli and me into the house. Walked right on in, unannounced. According to Di, Jake lives down the street with his grandmother, Miss Carol. And he likes to walk into our house. He stood there mouthing a fudgesicle and I got a little creeped out.
I volunteered to take Luca to the store and get dinner. Mostly to get away from Jake. As I exited the house I found Miss Carol on our front porch. Miss Carol is very, very old. And it clearly took a lot of effort for her to get to our house.
“Is Jake here?”
“Yeah, he just walked right in, Miss Carol.” I then offered her to come in and sit down for a spell. She refused, and began to make her way back to her house, content that her breaking and entering grandson was safe at our place.
Luca and I spent a lot of time at Whole Foods. I was trying to calculate how long Jake would stay at our house.
When we arrived home, Jake and Miss Carol were standing on our front lawn, having an argument. Miss Carol was trying to get him home for dinner with his mother. But Jake was not having it.
“I am going to eat at Eli’s!”
Oh really? I wasn’t aware of that. Knowing Diana’s feelings about Jake, I was sure Diana wasn’t aware of it.
“You can’t invite yourself over to people’s houses for dinner, Jake!” Miss Carol was at the end of her rope.
I peered into our grocery bag and said, “Oh sorry Jake. I didn’t get any extra food. Maybe next time. See you on the flip flop.”
At this point, Jake was on the phone with his mother, explaining that he was not going to eat with her and would be dining with the Hamanns. I bid Miss Carol a fond adieu and carried Luca into the house.
As I cooked dinner, I could see out our front window. Jake was sitting on a limb in our front yard tree. He was staring into our house.
I did what any red blooded American would. I closed our shades and went back to cooking.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I did it! I finally saw a first! Luca’s first pee pee in the potty! I’m the greatest dad in the world!
Last night, I was in charge of getting the kids put to bed while Diana took an online wine course. I assume it involved sitting in front of Facebook and pounding half a bottle of Cabernet.
After the third reading of “Knuffle Bunny,” (Luca is one of those kids who inexplicably love to read the same book over and over) I declared it time for bed. Luca did not share my desire for him to go to bed, so he scrambled to find an excuse, any excuse to stay up.
“One more bookey! Knuffle Bunny!”
“Ah, no. It’s nigh nigh time, pal.”
Luca scanned the room for something else. “Ba ba!”
“Nice try. You drank your bottle.”
Then the little light went off in his head. “Pee pee on the potty!”
Ahh, checkmate. He’d actually done this several nights in a row. He goes into our bathroom, sits on the little plastic toilet in the corner with an awesome grin on his face and then leaps up after not actually doing anything. It’s just a brilliant way to stay up for five more minutes.
So, of course, I carried him into the bathroom and sat him down. He stared at each other, knowing full well this was another put on. But then…
PEE! Glorious pee. The first pee. Pee numero uno! I got to see it! I wasn’t in a meeting or on an airplane or typing something. I was there. I was there. The cat wasn’t in the cradle. For once!
I think it surprised him more than it did me. He looked down with genuine surprise. I grabbed him and made a huge, huge deal about it. Twirling him and shouting. Elijah, who enjoys pandemonium off all kinds, ran into the room and began screaming.
After the crazy died down and after Luca went to bed, Diana came down from her computer. I was disappointed she wasn’t drunk. But I told her the great news: first pee pee on the potty.
She burst into tears.
Monday, September 12, 2011
It’s too bad this blog will prevent any chance Elijah has of becoming an elected official. Because he makes friends. He’s good at it. When he started pre-school in Denver, it wasn’t a question of if, but how many friends he’d accumulate.
Now that we’re a few weeks in, I’ve been asking, “Who are your friends at school?” His crew is a girl named India, a boy named Jacob and a girl with a name that sounds like Giselle. And it’s a pretty tight knit group. Every night I ask who he played with at school, and every night the answer is India, Jacob and the girl whose name sounds like Giselle.
Last Wednesday, I asked again and again the same three kids came up. Diana, who seemed to have been waiting for that question all day said, “Why don’t you ask him why he only plays with India, Jacob and the girl whose name sounds like Giselle?”
“Because they are beautiful!” Elijah chirped.
Whoa whoa whoa. Aside from the fact he refers to people as “beautiful,” Eli limits his playmates to only the beautiful kids in class? He nodded his head in the affirmative. Doesn’t want to play with the non-beautiful kids? Again, an affirmative.
For a second, I thought, “That’s great. He’s one of the beautiful kids. According to the New York Times, the beautiful people make more money, they’re more successful and they have much better after prom parties.
But then I realized that I may not qualify to be his friend. So it was life lesson time.
“You know, Eli. Just because someone is beautiful doesn’t mean they’re cool. Non-beautiful people can be really cool. In fact, I would guess non-beautiful people are way cooler than beautiful people. Because they have to try harder.”
“But I just like beautiful people better.”
“Because they are beautiful.”
Ugh. I then began a fierce nagging campaign him to make friends with non-beautiful people. When he finally begged me to stop, I knew I had made my point.
And Friday when I asked him who he played with he said, “Dad! There was a boy named Zac who was playing in the sandbox and Zac was not beautiful and I said, ‘Zac, can I play with you?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and I played with him.”
I praised him on behalf of non-beautiful people everywhere
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Finally! Luca finally did something naughty! I was beginning to worry about the kid. He’s so…sweet. By this time with Elijah, we had already named his evil doppelganger, “Hajile.” When Eli was almost 2, Hajile was toppling bookshelves, yanking his diaper off and whizzing all over everything that wasn’t nailed down.
Luca, is much more mellow (by the way, God. I owe you one). He would just rather lie on the floor and play fire trucks than cause me or Diana even the slightest bit of despair.
So imagine my surprise to hear Elijah running through the house shouting, “Luca did something bad! Mom! Dad! Luca did something really, really bad!”
I decided not to get into the whole tattletale thing with Eli because I was overwhelmed with curiosity. Eli led us to our guest room and Diana gasped. Elijah had drawn all over our white pleather couch with a red marker. Wait a minute. I just wrote “Elijah” out of habit. LUCA had drawn all over our white pleather couch with a red marker.
He had also drawn all over his tummy with a red marker, which was beyond cute. But the pleather couch was bad bad naughty.
“No no no, Luca! Bad boy!” The words felt new and exciting coming out of my mouth. Luca began to wail. I was getting kind of a kick out of it. But I could see Diana’s brain pot begin to boil, so I ushered Luca out of the room.
Luca looked at me and said, “I want to sit on the steps.”
“Good idea,” I said.
Luca dutifully sat on the punishment steps and I returned to the room. Diana was cleaning off the couch. Thankfully, Luca had used baby markers that easily wash off. He would live.
By then, Luca had returned from the steps. Apparently 1 minute was punishment enough. Elijah protested, “Hey! Luca got off the steps. He’s in trouble!”
I explained that he was too young to really grasp the concept of the steps, but I was sure he felt bad about his transgression.
We placed the markers out of reach and I took the boys downstairs. I could have sworn I saw a change in Luca’s face. A sense of satisfaction. Maybe “Acul” was born.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Part of why we moved out here to the mountains was to give our sons actual experiences. I wanted to create monumental events that would burn into their brains, leaving them forever changed. Hiking mountains. Punching Black Bears. Shooting Native Americans.
The reality is we still live in a city and I work a job that takes me away from my family for days and weeks at a time. And the epic, live changing events I imaged are harder to come by when one member of the family needs to sleep 2-4 hours during the day. We’ve spent more time at the Denver city zoo than any mountain. By far. I’m not sure if that bothers me or not. It’s just not what I planned.
I found myself rolling these thoughts around in my head while I was driving Elijah home from King Soopers Saturday afternoon. The radio was on and Garrison Keillor was recounting the days before ipods and Facebook, when a great afternoon meant standing on your dad’s lap, steering the car while he drank a beer.
I suddenly remembered Saturday afternoons with my dad when he would take us out driving in the country. I don’t recall a beer in his hand, but I think he was smoking cigarettes at the time. But I remember steering his old beat up yellow car as one of the great moments of my childhood.
I immediately swerved off Alameda and into a massive church parking lot. I turned around to Eli, who was cramming Skittles into his face, a reward for not making my life miserable in King Soopers.
“Eli. How would you like to drive the car?” He looked at me like I was nuts.
“I’ll do the pedals and you steer the wheel. You can stand in my lap.”
His eyes lit up and he crawled across the front seats. I suddenly had a powerful desire for a beer. Or a cigarette. And I let my foot off the brake and put the car into my 4 year old’s hands.
And for about ten minutes, I thought Eli was making an actual memory. I knew I was.
p.s. This photo of Luca’s butt has nothing to do with driving my car. But it is just as awesome.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about Star Wars here at HamannEggs. Mostly because I’m the only one in the house that still loves it. Let’s me re-phrase that. I’m the only on in the house who plays Star Wars correctly.
Allow me to explain.
Last night, Elijah and Luca were in a nice warm bubble bath. Luca had just finished whizzing all over his brother and the subject of playing Star Wars guys came up.
“Let’s get it on!” I shouted.
Luca chose Darth Vader, because that’s the only guy he knows by name. “Darth Vader Darth Vader Darth Vader.”
I tried to choose Boba Fett, but Elijah demanded he get to play with him. For those of you who don’t know who Boba Fett is, you have my sincere sympathy. But he’s this really tough bounty hunter who all nerds wish they could be when they grow up.
Anyhoo, Eli chose Boba and I chose an evil Storm Trooper. And then we started playing. Here’s Elijah’s take on Star Wars.
Cunning Boba Fett was afraid to go swimming in the swimming pool. And he needed his friend, The Storm Trooper, to hold his hand and tell him everything was going to be okay.
I kept trying to steer the conversation back to Star Wars Cannon. “Boba Fett! Let’s uh, stop holding hands and go kill us some rebels!”
“But I’m scared of the pool and bubbles are scary and I want you to hold my hand so I’m not scared anymore.”
“As you wish.”