Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I’ve been unbelievably busy this week.  I feel like I’m living a clich├ęd movie script. Where I’m the driven, workaholic father who abandons his kids and wife and, after a lot of slapstick, learns the true meaning of life.  I keep expecting to find myself suddenly being played by Jim Carrey.

Long story short, I haven’t been able to write any blogs because, well, that involves being in the same zip code as my family.

I went to my iphone file that says “Blog Ideas” and scrapped the bottom until I found an old story that hasn’t been reported.  It’s called “Storm.”

A few weeks (Months?  Years?) ago I came home on the train during one of those freak Spring Chicago storms.  As I walked up Dempster street, I had to leap over torrents of sewer water.  There was one awesome moment where a cab literally splashed me with a giant puddle from head to toe.

After getting home and wringing out my jeans, I noticed Elijah was watching the Weather Channel.  You gotta love a child who is so obsessed with TV that he’ll gleefully sit in front of a man pointing to a map.

I realized the man was point to Illinois.  After a scary alert noise (which didn’t seem to bother Eli) a disembodied voice informed me that our town was under a severe thunderstorm warning.  Not watch.  Warning.  The voice was so kind as to tell me when the “high winds and human head sized hail” would be hitting us.  7:46PM.  Exactly.

And what time was it?  7:44pm.

I began to speak in the voice I reserve for when Eli and Luca splash water out of the tub.

“Everyone!  We are moving to the basement!  NOW!  This is not a drill.  Listen to my angry voice.  Go downstairs!”

Eli looked at me like I was nuts.  I told him, “If you go downstairs right now you can watch this dude point at maps on our big TV.”  Done and done.

Luca wasn’t as easy to convince.  I had to chase him all around the house.  When I snagged him, his smell indicated something awful had happened in his diaper.

I scooped him up and ran upstairs.  Why I felt like my son couldn’t face the apocalypse with a poopy D, I’ll never know.

But I became irate with Luca’s lack of cooperation with the diaper change.  Out his window, I could see the face of an old man in the clouds breathe in and make a blowing face.

I threw on his diaper (probably on his face) and literally ran down stairs, past Diana, who was standing in the kitchen ignoring my demands, and found Eli watching the big TV.

Di eventually joined us and we did the countdown to the storm.  3…2…1…nothing.  Not even a thunderclap.  I shrugged the shrug of an overenthusiastic father and put the boys to bed.

I drove to Whole Foods ten or so minutes later, where I was pounded by an epic hail storm. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I keep a little list of blog ideas on my phone.  They’ll usually say “Poop,” or “Hanna” or “Storm.”  To remind me of today’s post, I had “Pee Bag.”

A few weeks ago, we drove out to Diana’s dad’s house for a Mother’s Day BBQ.  After a quick stop at Starbucks to cut through my low grade headache, we jumped onto highway 294 for the hop skip and jump to Lisle.

About 5 miles into the trip, we hit a massive backup on the highway.  No movement whatsoever.  A fleet of fire trucks and ambulances flew by on our left, which signaled something bad was happening.  On the bright side, Luca got to scream, “Fire Engine!” every five seconds.

I slunked down in my seat and resisted the overwhelming urge to lay on my horn.

Almost as if on cue, Elijah said, “I have to go potty.”

Like all great parents, Diana and I ignored him.

“I have to go potty now!”

I scanned the area.  We were in the middle of 6 lanes of traffic with no cover except for a billboard advertising a nearby strip club. 

“Hey, it’s too dangerous to go outside.  You’ll have to hold it.  We’ll be at Papa’s in the next hour or so.”

“I have to go potty now!  Right now!”

I said, “Whelp.  Just go in your pants, dude.”

Diana looked at me with a look that communicated her thankfulness I am not the day to day caregiver of her children.  She then reached into the diaper bag and pulled out a plastic sandwich baggie.

They got him out of his pants and he unleashed into the bag.  Luca was too occupied with the sirens to notice his brother getting closer and closer to overflowing the baggie. 

It was only after he finished did we realize the baggie did, in fact, have a leak.

I suggested we throw it out the window and onto the windshield of the semi adjacent to us.  Diana opted to zip the top and hold the piping hot plastic at a non leaky angle. 

We were on our way shortly after and had to distract the kids away from the carnage a few 100 feet away.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


There is a scene in the movie “Animal House” where John Belushi’s character Bluto walks through a cafeteria line, shoving food into his mouth so he doesn’t have to pay.  It culminates in him cramming an entire hamburger into his face so aggressively it looks painful.

That is how Luca approaches every meal. 

I know I’ve addressed this before.  His epic messiness when he consumes food.  But this shoving junk into his mouth is alarming and gross.  It’s galarming.  He looks like a python trying to fire down a Yorkshire Terrier.

Diana and I constantly say, “Small bites, Luca.  Small bites.”  He looks at us with 30 carrots sticking out of his face and says, “What?”

Which sounds like “W*$$#^JH9?”

It all boils down to the fact that I do not want to give him the Heimlich Maneuver.  I don’t want to give anyone the Heimlich Maneuver.  Ever.  I have a gravestone already carved that reads “Here lies Richard Eric Hamann.  He never had to give the Heimlich Maneuver.”

Something tells me I’m going to have to dust off my chisel.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Elijah and Luca and I were walking to the park Saturday when I suggested we have a quiz.

“What’s a quiz?”

“A quiz is when I ask you junk and you tell me the answers.”

Eli got really excited and we started off small, like the color of the sky and the color of our house (which he got wrong) and how to spell everyone’s name.  But after a block or so I decided to get a little deep.

“So.  If a kid can’t walk and needs a chair with wheels to get around, is he better than you, worse than you or the same as you?”

Eli thought for a moment and said, “The same.”

Quite frankly, I was surprised.  Someone had been teaching this child acceptance of people not like him.  And it wasn’t me.  Not that I am intolerant.  I just haven’t really thought to bring it up since the dreaded handicap guy at the zoo incident a year ago.

I decided to probe this a little further.

“What if the kid couldn’t hear and needed hearing aids? Does that mean he is better than you, worse than you or the same as you?”

“The same.”

Eh, lucky guess.  His mother has been hard of hearing his whole life.  If he was prejudiced against deaf people he wouldn’t get any chicken nuggets.

I went for the mother load.

“What if this kid was in a wheel chair, was deaf and he had different colored skin than you.  Would he be better than you, worse than you or the same as you?”

“The same.”

I bent down and looked at him squarely in the eyes.  I said, “Eli.  I want you to know I think you are a pretty great kid.”

He said, “Let’s do the second round where I get double the points.  And you ask me math.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mothers Day

I was out of town all last week locked in an intense maternity ward for ideas.  I came back late Friday to the dull realization that I had put exactly zero thought against Mother’s Day for Diana.  And I knew I couldn’t count on Elijah and Luca to do anything because they are lazy good for nothings.

Diana, in a pretty perfect articulation of why she is an awesome mother said, “I don’t want anything for Mother’s Day.”  Which made me want to do something extra special.  Something that would truly show how much she means to us.  Something big.  Something incredible.

But then I just decided to take the boys to Target instead.  I tried to prep them for the task at hand.

“Now guys, I want you to choose something Mommy would really like for Mother’s Day.”

“Like a toy?”  Eli asked.

“A fire engine!”  Luca chirped.

We arrive at the big red store and steered them away from the toy section.

“I want you to pick out Mommy’s present all by yourselves.  I’m not going to help at all.  This is all you.”

Elijah directed us to a wall of sunglasses and picked out a pair of Ray Ban knock offs.  I will admit I was kind of disappointed his selection wasn’t more insane.  But I stayed true to my oath that I wouldn’t try to influence them for my own comedic purposes.

Thankfully, Eli changed his mind and selected a pair of glasses that can be best described as a cross between “The Terminator” and “Truck Stop Escort.”

I immediately threw them into the cart and said, “Well, we need to find Mommy a dress to go with these glasses!”

We went to the ladies section and Luca immediately ran into the bras and panties section.  The comedic results could have been delicious.  But he emerged from the underwear section a little older, a little wiser, but empty-handed.

Meanwhile, Eli had fallen in love with a Muumuu the color of which causes near blindness.  I actually attempted to guide him to running pants or a sweatshirt or anything.  But he held firm. 

So we wrapped them up and presented them to Diana Sunday morning along with a big breakfast and a slew of hand made cards that actually communicated the proper message of love.

Diana called upon all of the acting ability from her days playing Little Orphan Annie and convinced our sons they had selected the greatest gifts in the history of the world.  Neither boy asked why Diana didn’t wear the outfit to her Dad’s house later that morning.

Diana did me the favor of wearing the outfit for today’s photo.  As you can see, it’s impossible to make her look anything but beautiful.

I love you, Di. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Last weekend, Diana was at work and Luca was napping.  I found myself with absolutely no desire to do anything productive.  Luckily, I knew someone else who shared this feeling.  And I knew where to find him.

I poked my head into our office and found Elijah at the computer.  He was engaged in what I hope was not hacking into NORAD.  I flopped down on our daybed and thought about taking a nap.  I half heartedly flipped through a book and set it down.

“Hey Eli.  Do you know what we’re doing right now?”


“We’re hanging out.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, hanging out is when you sit with someone and you don’t really talk and you kind of do your own thing.  But it’s just nice to be in the same room.”


He wasn’t impressed with that little life lesson.  But I sure as heck was. 

See, the thing is, I don’t just love my son, I LIKE him.  I want to hang out with him.  He’s completely awesome.  Even when we just sit there, he’s completely awesome.

I’d rather hang out with him than Obama or Michael Jordan or Brad Pitt (Jeff Tweedy, you’ll see your name isn’t on that list.  Call me).

I mean, He says things like, “Are sporks real?” 

So if you’ll excuse me, I am going to hang out with Eli.

p.s.  Today’s photo is from Eli’s first Karate test.  I believe he received the ancient Japanese honor of “Participant.”