Friday, October 28, 2011


Last night was Elijah’s school’s Halloween party. Eli went as Jango Fett (Star Wars bounty hunter), Luca went as the most adorable Yoda ever and I went a Darth Vader. Well, I didn’t have the helmet, so I looked more like the clone of Luke Skywalker from the book, “The Last Command”…I’ve lost you already, haven’t I?

Diana went as a hot and tolerant mom.

The party started an hour before leaving for school with the ritualistic decorating of cookies. My role was to yell at Elijah and Luca to stop eating my masterpieces. Their role was to eat everything not nailed down. Diana’s role was to make fun of my art.

Right before we left, Luca barfed. Natch.

But by the time we arrived at school, something else was up. Luca was drooling uncontrollably and was slurring his words. “Dada” sounded like “Lala” and he kept telling people he was dressed up as “Yola.” We started to panic a little that he had eaten some peanuts (for those of you not keeping track, Luca is allergic to them).

Diana started to get that look of a mom whose kid is about to go into allergic shock. She basically stood on a cafeteria table and shouted, “Is there a doctor in the house?”

I believe the man who looked at Luca was a Paleontologist. But he had a “DR” in his name, so that gave him the right to stick his fingers in my son’s mouth. He said Luca didn’t look like he was in any real danger, but we should give him some Benadryl just in case. Yeah, Benadryl. That would have made sense to have on hand with a kid who is allergic to mystery things.

I offered to run home and get some. I offered this because I did not want to be alone with a kid having an allergy attack. The idea of having to use the emergency “EPI” pen fills me with dread. But Diana was the only one who knew where she hid the Benadryl, so she took off in a panic.

I held Luca in mu lap, praying the parents would stop staring at us with concern. It was about this time I realized if this did go really south and Luca’s throat did close, the dreaded EPI pen was in the car with Diana and I’d have to perform a tracheotomy with a Capri Sun straw.

From behind me, I heard a voice. “Hey. You Darth Vader! That awesome! Hey. He Yoda! That’s awesome!” I turned and saw a kid who was clearly Autistic. That special kind of Autistic kid who loves Star Wars more than anything. It’s really the only part of Autism I understand.

I started to say, “Hey buddy, I’m having a bit of a panic attack here, “ but the Autistic kid would not be denied.

He pointed at his own shirt, which featured the Wookee, Chewbacca. “You know Chewbacca? He’s awesome. He has lots of weapons he can use to fight off bad guys and his friend is Han Solo and he’s real strong.”

I said, “Well, technically those aren’t weapons. That’s ammo for his laser crossbow…” A fresh pool of Luca drool snapped me out of my own Autistic trance.

Diana rushed in a few minutes later and we administered the Benadryl. Within minutes we were back in the business of trying to figure out how to use the restroom in our Star Wars costumes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Milk Strike

With Elijah, we were fairly strict about weaning him off pacifiers and bottles and other things he derived any and all pleasure from. It was our attempt to toughen him up to make in on the mean streets of upper middle class Evanston. And as he entered his private pre school in his $40 leather Converse sneakers this morning, I think he appreciated how tough we were.

Luca, on the other hand? Meh. He can do whatever he wants. If that means he wears rubber rain boots and a diaper to the Whole Foods, fine by me.

But he is a little long in the tooth for bottles. I’m not wild about the oral fixation-ness of it. Won’t that lead to smoking? Delicious, delicious smoking? Smoking that made you look so cool when you were 24? Man, it would be soooo great to just buy one little pack. No one has to know. One cigarette wouldn’t hurt after all these years, right? Marlboro. That was my brand. Marlboro Ultra Lights. Mmmm. Ultra.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Bottles. Well, we decided the best possible time to wean Luca off bottles was after uprooting him from his home, forcing him to drive across the country and sleep in a room he doesn’t remember in a house that is essentially foreign to him.

Yeah, what could go wrong? Well, he has decided, no bottle, no milk. Flat out refuses to drink milk from a sippie cup, a regular cup, a flask, an udder. Nothing. He simply looks at it like it used to taste good and says, “Baba,” in a wistful way.

I was of the mind that he would eventually come around and drink milk like a normal kid. But it’s been a long time with no vitamin D. He’s starting to get that stooped over look of those old foreign women. And I think his bones are getting brittle. I thought I heard a “crack” when I hugged him today.

Well, long story short, we’re back on bottles. Kid’s gotta have milk. I figure he can go with bottles until he’s 18. Legal cigarette age.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

First Sleep Over

I’m trying to come up with the specific reasons we moved back from Denver. Telling people, “Denver just felt like that friend who is really nice, really into triathlons but has no sense of humor,” just gets confused stares.

I guess one of the big reasons is we realized out there how important being close to family is to us. I really, really missed my twin brother. But I also missed my mom and dad and stepmom and non twin brothers and nieces and nephews a ton.

So on our jaunt back to Evanston, I built in a stay over with my older brother, Dave. He has a lovely family in my hometown of Normal, Illinois. We used to fight like cats and dogs as kids and had a bit of a cold relationship in our twenties. But through a lot of effort from mostly him, we’ve become pals in our thirties. To top it off, he has this awesome 5 year old kid with the equally awesome name of Fox.

As you can imagine, the second we entered the house, Fox and Elijah became best friends forever. It didn’t hurt that Fox has an arsenal of plastic guns the likes of which would never be allowed in a certain hippie woman’s house.

The boys refused to leave each other’s side all night. So when bedtime came around, the suggestion came up that the boys may want to sleep in the same room. That familiar “ding” went off in my head, “Hey…this sounds like a blog entry waiting to happen…”

We put an air mattress in Fox’s room and after a few books we said goodnight and went downstairs to watch “Extreme Couponing.” The next hour was like watching action through a strobe light. But the distance between strobes was about 10 minutes apart.

We’d sit for a while, watching coupon hoarders and then hear that telltale thump of kid activity. We’d go upstairs and catch the boys in mid-crazy. Flash, they were jumping. Flash, they were fighting. Flash, they were half out the window. But each time they got busted, their reaction was like, “Hey, it’s completely normal for a four year old and a five year old to be hanging from the ceiling.”

Eventually, we decided to cancel the sleep over and I put Eli in the guest room. Based on the complete fit both boys threw at the act of leaving each other the next morning, I still think it was a success.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ride Home

Dear Inventor Of The Portable DVD Player,

Hi. My name is Rick. I have this blog. It’s a nice blog and once in every great while, someone reads it. The subject is my family (Hamanneggs, get it? You know, eggs?). Sometimes it’s sappy, other times it’s funny. The thing is, I prefer to write about the funny stuff. And the funny stuff that happens to my family comes in the form of disasters. You know, poop on the floor, puke in cleavage, pee in the hair. That sort of stuff.

Which brings me to why I am writing you. We recently moved back to Evanston from Denver, Colorado. By car. A four year old and a one year old trapped in a car. For sixteen hours. I was convinced those 16 hours would be good for at least thirty entries. In my mind’s eye, I saw a Subaru flying down the highway on fire, windows covered in jelly, with a dog attempting to leap from the from the trunk. Yes, the dog would be on fire.

But once we started on our journey and turned your invention on, there was nothing to write about. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Elijah and Luca sat quietly for 16 hours. Not a cry. Not a whine. Poop remained safely where it belongs. The only disaster I could see was the destruction of their attention spans from sitting in front of a video screen for 16 hours. But we won’t see the results of that for years. Years, man.

Thanks for nothing, jerk.

p.s. This is where we lived in Denver.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dr. Hamann

Over the last ten months, I’ve completely lost the ability to drink. Maybe it’s the altitude. But after a glass or two of wine, grandpa needs his nap. Thankfully, my meth addiction is going strong.

Last night, a few co-workers took me out for a goodbye beer. And at the time, I didn’t think I had that many of them. There was no lampshade atop my head. My knuckles were decidedly un-bloody. But when I woke up this morning, I had one great hangovers. My head was bounding. My stomach churned. I was covered in sweat.

And then Luca and Elijah woke up.

Now, I could’ve pawned off wake up duty on Diana. But that would have meant cashing in one of my husband chips. I don’t have that many left and I want to use it for permission to go to Las Vegas one of these days.

I managed to get milks delivered and the TV turned on without barfing. And then laid on the floor and announced that Dada was not feeling well and it would be awesome of we kept the crying and shouting and jumping on me to a minimum.

Elijah immediately took a seat on my stomach. At which point the world tilted 45 degrees and I decided it would be a great idea to stick my head into the toilet.

After spending a while thanking the porcelain, I hear the door open. Luca toddled in carrying his toy doctor kit. My heart almost exploded. What kind of almost 2 year old leaves the joy of early morning cartoons to administer medical care to his hung over dad?

He handed me the plastic stethoscope and plastic bottle of pills (there was no toy Vicodin inside, damn it) and then actually came over and gave me a hug. Not surprisingly, the hug made me feel lots better. I tried to explain to him I wasn’t actually sick and had brought this all on myself, but he kept rubbing my back and murmuring, “Dada sick…”

Diana eventually took pity on me and took over so I could take a half hour shower. I told her about her son, the most compassionate baby ever and she said, “Well, you may feel like crap but at least you’ll get a blog post out of it.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Be Prepared

Luca is obsessed with the TV show “Fireman Sam.” In his unbelievably cute halting style, he’ll tell anyone who listens, “Fireman. Sam. To. The Rescue!”

For those of you who don’t watch TV at 6am M-F, Fireman Sam is a Welsh animated series where mildly Mongoloid-ish people learn about fire safety. But Elijah and I have learned something valuable from it: Always be prepared. For Luca’s pee.

Much like the titular character, Eli and I are always poised for the announcement from the basement, “Luca went pee pee on the potty!” When those magic words come, you have to drop whatever it is you’re doing and run, don’t walk to the bathroom.

We’ve dropped full bottles of water. We’ve left stove burners on high (what would Fireman Sam say?). We’ve left Grover in mid butt scratch.

The screaming is deafening. Di, Eli and I shout our intense approval. “You went pee pee! You went pee pee!” Positive reinforcement.

Luca usually stands there, naked, with a huge grin on his face. Elijah then dramatically unveils a Thomas The Tank Engine sticker for Luca’s pee pee chart. I don’t know why Luca doesn’t get to do his own sticker, but like all Welsh Fire Fighting techniques, you don’t want to get in the way of the bureaucracy.

And then there is the ceremonial dumping of the pee from the baby potty to the toilet. My least favorite part of the program, Eli and Luca’s most favorite part of the program.

From there, it’s life as usual in the firehouse.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cock Robin

I watched a George Harrison documentary the other night and I was struck yet again by how many musical geniuses were exposed to great music when they were very young. Now, I’m not sure I want either Elijah or Luca to become musical geniuses when they get older. You know, because of the heroin. But just in case there is musical genius rattling around inside one of them I yanked the guitar off the wall.

Feel sorry for them. Feel very, very sorry for them.

I announced we were going to play some music and they needed to get some instruments. They both chose drums. Of course.

I found an ancient chord book of Children’s songs and made my way though the classics while they smashed stuff. “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, B-I-N-G-O, She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain,” etc. Yeah, we weren’t nailing “Hey Jude,” but it was fun.

Elijah was the first to get bored and he yanked the chord book out of my reach and announced he was choosing the next song. He immediately picked a song called “Who Killed The Cock Robin?”

“No,” I said, “I don’t know that song and it’s creepy. And it says ‘cock.’” He was adamant about hearing who killed the drawing of the dead bird on the page.

So I made up my own version of the song, all in minor chords. It sounded like a funeral dirge.

Of course he loved it. He demands to hear “Who Killed The Cock Robin,” every time I come within 50 feet of the guitar. And now he constantly walks around the house singing:

Who killed the cock robin?
Who killed the cock robin?
“I” said the sparrow with my bow and arrow.
It was I…oh it was I.

p.s. Today's photo is another in the “Insane Clown Posse” series.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Back Trip

Now that’s we’ve made the decision to move back to Chicago, which meteorologists are predicting will have the worst winter in the country, we need to figure out how to get everyone back.

If you’ve been a longtime reader, you’ll recall we did the move out here in long, drawn out stages. Di and I drove out here and then I flew to Illinois, and flew back with the boys. Yeah, that didn’t work out for me. I think I still have post traumatic stress syndrome from that flight. In fact, I think I’ve blocked most of it out from my memory. I seem to recall something about pee.

So this cross country trip, I decided to make it easy on us and propose a new plan. I suggested to Diana that she fly home with Luca and I’d drive with Elijah and Grover. I figured we should split the pain rather than double up on one parent. And I think Eli would get a kick out of seeing the vast emptiness that is the Midwest. Check that. I think Eli would get a kick out of watching 18 hours of DVDs.

Her response? No. Way. Not in a million years. Her suggestion was for me to fly with the boys and she’d drive with Grover.

Did she even hear me? I explained it again. Me go with one boy. She go with other boy. Man to man defense. Share pain. No heap pain.

Again, no way. Not going to happen. After a little digging, I discovered the root of the problem. Diana holds a massive fear of flying with children. Not a fear of flying. A fear of flying with children. Any children. It fills her with intense dread.

So I tried to figure out the story problem. If two adults and two children are crossing the country with a giant black dog, what combination is the least awful? Then I realized I was terrible at story problems and just decided to cram everyone in our Subaru and drive together.

Because what fun is visiting hell if you can’t do it as a family?

Stay tuned.

p.s. That’s a Green Bay helmet Luca has on. We need to get back to Chicago immediately.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I have a terrible memory. I think it came from living under those powerlines for so long. Or possibly the half bottle of wine I drink ever three hours, but if you ask me what Elijah or Luca’s birthday is, I get flustered. I know one is right around Thanksgiving because he gypped me out of turkey one year. The other one is the day after my mom’s birthday, which is in Springtime. I’m 80% sure.

That’s why we have the blog. With it, I can remember important things like birthdays. But I can also remember tiny things that would get lost in the yearly shuffle back and forth to Colorado. Things like the time Eli pooped in the tub. Or when Luca pooped on the floor.

Aside from poop. I’d also like to use it to remember the heartbreakingly perfect moments of the boys’ lives. Like every night ay 10pm. It goes a little something like this.

Every night when Diana goes to bed, she asks me to take Elijah from our room into his own room (Lately Luca is too noisy at bedtime for Eli, so he’s been getting permission to sleep in our room).

I challenge you to find something more beautiful than Elijah while he sleeps. He’s usually moving too fast during his waking hours to truly appreciate how gorgeous this kid is. But I usually sit for a few seconds and just watch him breathe. I then try unsuccessfully to lift him without disturbing his perfection. There’s usually a quick twitch of terror when I lift him. His arms and hands palsy in different directions but then he realizes he’s safe. He sighs against my arms and I feel happier than I can describe here.

I carry him across the house, pausing in front of Diana so she can look at him and make a dramatic weeping face. Then I walk down the hall to his bedroom and I whisper to myself, “Ramming speed.” I hold him out in my arms and I use his little feet to push open his door. He never stirs when I do this.

I then tiptoe him across the room and put him into bed. He immediately burrows into his pillow.

After putting his blanket on, I tiptoe over to Luca and peer into his crib. He just as perfect as Elijah, but in an intensely boy way. He’s usually sprawled across the blankets like he just finished a case of beer. I watch him too, and put my hand on his stomach to make sure he’s breathing. Because I have to. I just have to.

And then I try to gently pull his blankie out of his clutches so I can cover him. He rarely lets it go without a fight. I then drape the blankie over him and tip toe out of the room and think, “I gotta remember that somehow.”

p.s. Sorry about the lack of funny in this post. As a consolation, today’s photo is Luca after he just ate a Halloween cookie. Doesn’t he look like a member of “Insane Clown Posse?”