Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Skinny Dip

Our vacation followed a pretty delightful schedule last week.  We’d all wake up, have a big breakfast and then drive to a nearby Wisconsin attraction while listening to hits of the 80’s.

Then about 20 minutes into the Wisconsin attraction, Luca would have an epic temper tantrum and we’d have to go home.  At which point we’d put him down for a nap and wait for the evening to start.

During this break in the action, Eli was unable to spend time with his betrothed (the computer) because it fortunately broke down.  So he was forced to actually hang out with me. 

We spent a lot of time playing our version of the game “Risk,” which involved meticulously setting up game pieces on the giant wooden table in our cabin until Eli got bored and knocked them all off with a sweep of his arm.

After one such smash, I got an idea.

“Hey.  Want to go skinny dipping?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s when you take off all your clothes and swim in the pond naked.”


See, in the backyard of our cabin, the owner had installed a “filtered pond.”  It was basically a giant hole in the ground filled with stones.  Aside from a couple floating green things and about a million tadpoles, the pond was pretty clean.  You could see to the bottom and everything.

The cabin and pond was pretty secluded, so I thought it would be fun to jump in there nude.  After asking Diana if tadpoles ever swim in people’s butts and applying lots and lots of sunscreen on our genitals, Eli and I hopped in.

Almost immediately after jumping in the pond, I noticed our secluded cabin had a clear visual path to the house next door.  I assumed the occupants weren’t home and weren’t in possession of high powered binoculars.

Grover joined us and we spent a great hour throwing the ball, skipping stones and making sure tadpoles didn’t get behind us.

It was perfect.

p.s.  I opted to show a photo of us playing “Risk.”  You’re welcome.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Like a lot of dads, I wasn’t always a dad.  There was a time when I was a living, breathing, non-yelling person.  And as hard as it is for me or my sons or my wife to believe, I was once a kid. 

There’s a big part of me who wants Elijah and Luca to know what life was like when I was a kid.  It’s hard to put into words what growing up in Central Illinois was like in the 1980’s. 

Luckily, there is current day Wisconsin. 

Last week, we took the boys up to a cabin in Wisconsin for a little non-blogging R&R.  It was just outside a little town called Mt Horeb.  There really isn’t much to tell beyond the fact that Mt Horeb’s official motto is “Trollway of Wisconsin.”  Yes.  Trolls.  The kind you put on the end of your pencil.

But what really stood out to me was the fact that time seemed to have stopped in 1984.  The cars.  The clothes.  The music.  We heard the Van Halen song “Panama,” three times within the first 48 hours.

This is not meant to be mocking.  I was in heaven.  Twelve year old heaven.  We drove through the corn-lined countryside with our windows wide open, shout/singing to Bryan Adams and Guns and Roses.

The boys loved it.  Elijah made his kick ass guitar face and Luca sat with his eyes closed, letting the pollen filled wind flow through his hair.

The only way it would have been more 1980’s is if I had reincarnated my Flock of Seagulls hair and cried because Jenny Bernstein dumped me.  But that would have been weird with Diana there.

I’ll update you more on our vacation in the next couple of days.  Complete with Skinny Dipping. 

p.s.  Today's photo isn't from vacation.  Diana just started a Winegoddess page on Facebook.  Go see it and "Like" it.  Shameless plug!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Elijah and Luca have been sleeping in the same bed lately.  Which I fully discourage because if I have to spend 14 hours on a 100 degree day putting together a bunk bed, both bunks had better be occupied at all times, even at the expense of brotherly love.

Truth be told, my brother Steve and I slept in the same bed for years because we love each other.  And fear closet monsters.

As you can imagine, the sight of both boys intertwined in an Ikea comforter is cute beyond words.  I have no issue with the cuteness.  I am in favor of cuteness at all times and in all forms.

My problem is the screaming.

Inevitably, over the course of the night, one boy or the other will sock his brother in their eye in his sleep.  Or stick a foot in his brother’s mouth.  Or strangle his brother in a “My Little Pony” related nightmare.

At which point the injured boy will scream bloody murder.  The uninjured boy, awoken by the screaming of his bed-mate, will also begin screaming and then I have to get up and calm them down.

The other night, the screaming was so intense and uncontrollable, it woke the ¾ deaf Diana up.  She came in an attended to Luca.  I carried a thrashing Elijah downstairs to sleep with me in our guestroom/office/wine cellar. 

As I drifted off to sleep to the genital irradiating hum of our WiFi, I could still hear Luca screaming upstairs.  I went to investigate.

Luca, in a horror daze, was demanding milk to drink.  Diana was trying to explain that we did not actually have any milk in the house because his father was an idiot and did not purchase milk earlier.

He could not wrap his screaming head around this and shrieked louder and louder.  I got an idea and ran downstairs.  I returned a few minutes later with a Sippie Cup filled with lemonade. 

“Look!  Lemonade!” I said.  Luca snatched it out my hands and drank vigorously. 

Content that I was a genius, I returned to our office and went to sleep.

The next morning, I asked Diana how the night went.  She said, “Let’s make a rule that for now on we don’t give our children a cup of sugar at 3am.”

Apparently, Luca did not go back to sleep.  Instead, he wanted Diana to sing him a beautiful song.  Repeatedly.  Over and over.  Oh, also he wanted to play fire trucks.  I also think he wanted to drive to LA and start a band and whatever else sounds like a great idea when you’re amped at 4am.

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Baseball Game

While I was tucking Elijah into bed last week, I whispered to him, “How would you like to go to a baseball game with me this weekend?”

Eli responded, “Can I get one of those fingers that says you’re number 1?”

Of course he could.

Through one of my well connected co workers (shout out to Adina Birnbaum!), Elijah’s first baseball game was right down the first base line at iconic Wrigley Field.  Now, a few of you may be thinking, “Hey.  Isn’t Rick a White Sox fan?  And isn’t he technically the creative director of the White Sox?  Shouldn’t Eli’s first baseball game be on the South Side?”

To which I say, “Shut.  Up.”

After an uneventful L ride, we strolled into home of such iconic baseball greats as That One Guy Who Played For The Cubs.  And That Guy Who Won The Game.  And Steve Bartman.

We immediately purchased a foam finger, grabbed a hot dog and a beer and found our seats.  A nice fat couple took our picture and I began to well up.  This was it.  This was one of those dad moments.  First baseball game.  I was acting like a real, live dad. 

Eli stood with his hand over his heart for the National Anthem and we both shouted, “Play Ball!”  He crawled into my lap and I tried to explain what was happening on the field. 

He made it through almost 1/3 of half an inning before becoming utterly and irreversibly bored. 

We went to the men’s room four times before the third inning because, well, urinal troughs are way more interesting than hearing your dad say, “Well, yes, a ball is the same thing as a ball but it’s the hitters count kind of ball and not the white spherical things they throw…”

I had it in my head that we would stay until the 7th inning stretch.  Eli had other ideas.  He squirmed and begged to leave and splashed water and lemonade on the infinitely patient man the row ahead of us.

The peanut vendor happened by and I got an idea.  Stuffing his face would keep him occupied, right?  Right?  We went into a feast of shelled nuts and nachos and hot dogs and at one point, a salt lick.

For some reason, I drew the line at a popsicle.  Partly because it didn’t fit into my concept of only eating things with nitrates.  But mostly because I was broke. 

Eli began to weep uncontrollably at this injustice.  He threw his face into my lap and heaved.  I explained to my seatmates that he was a huge Diamondbacks fan and was distraught over the score.

At one point during his fit, a line drive foul ball streaked directly over Eli’s head and into the aisle right behind us.  He refused to acknowledge its existence so long as there were uneaten popsicles in the world.

The 7th inning came and I said, “We can go right after they sing ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame.'”  Eli happily stood and put his hand over his heart.

We jumped back on the L as the sky opened up and rained on the idiots still in their seats.  When we arrived back in Evanston, it was still pouring so we went to the pet store and Eli got to see the giant tortoise.

Which was the highlight of his day.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Camp Hamann

We signed both Elijah and Luca up for camp this summer.  Because if they aren’t occupied they tend to destroy things.  Like Diana’s mind, for example.

We opted for ease over outdoorsy-ness.  The camps are just down the street at the Robert Crown Community Center and Ice Complex.  Home of that one Olympic speed skating guy.  No, not the guy with the soul patch.  The other guy.

Both sons immediately hated it.  Luca attempted to convince his counselors he was suffering from a massive fever, despite an internal temperature of 98.6.  Elijah, who is a bit more experienced at the art of deception, complained this morning of vague stomach pains. 

I can’t blame them.  The camps were kind of awful.  The other attendees were the girls from down the street who stole money from Eli’s piggy bank.  And they could never convince Diana that they actually had our son’s best interests at heart.  They never asked her to sign them in or out.  Never asked if Diana was, in fact, their legal guardian.  And the cookies they gave as a snack yesterday (that I stole from Luca) were awful.

This morning, Eli’s feigned stomach ailment prompted a call from the counselors to pick him up.  Diana arrived a little later and…oops, Eli was no where to be found. 

Was he at the facility?  Um.  Dunno.
Was he at the day’s event, the pool?  Not sure.
Was he wandering the streets of Evanston in a daze?  Gosh, wish we knew.

This lack of information did not sit well with Diana.  I do not believe she burned the Robert Crown Community Center and Ice Complex to the ground.  But I imagine it was on her short list of activities for the day.  An activity much more fun than anything they had planned for my sons.

Eventually, Eli was found at the pool (his stomach issues evaporated when he learned they were headed there), but Diana grabbed him and took him away from camp.  Permanently. 

Luca too.

So we’ve officially enrolled them at Camp Hamann.  Where over half the counselors have given birth to you!  Activities include: watching TV!  Playing on the computer!  Chasing black dogs named Grover!  Watching TV!  Fire truck toys!  Visits from Finn!  Watching TV!  Fighting your brother over fire trucks. 

And snack time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dream Fuel

I’m just going to hit this jinx head on and say Luca is over his terrible twos.  The siege of screaming lifted, revealing a lovely, lovely boy in its wake. 

Oh, sure he isn’t 100% yet.  For example, yesterday he told me he loved me and when I returned the favor, he screamed, “No!  Dada!  I love YOU!”  I said yeah, and I love you too.  He grabbed my face and looked into my eyes and screamed, “NO!  I love YOUUUUUUUU!”  Sheesh.

Aside from the occasional love scream, he’s just been awesome.  He even allows Elijah to hug him.  Although it usually lasts a few fleeting seconds before hug gives way to wrestle, which gives way to face pounding.

Saturday night, after a particularly lovely evening of non screaming, I snuck into the boys’ room and adjusted Eli’s blanket and tried in vain to smooth out his rat’s nest of hair.

I then bent down to Luca and pulled up his blanket.  He reached out and grabbed my arm and squeezed.  I almost vomited from love.  I bent down and whispered in his ear, “Daddy loves you.”

He grabbed my arm again.

I then whispered, “Mommy loves you.”  He squeezed my arm and smiled.  His little eyelids flickered and I wondered if he was dreaming of his mom.

I said, “Fireman Sam.”  His eyes moved again and he grabbed my arm harder.  I thought I’d give his subconscious a bit more material, so I said, “Fireman Sam fights the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers along side Star Wars guys.  But Grover beats them all with his poops.”

Luca turned over and sighed.  I was satisfied I started him off on a magical mystery dream adventure that would blow his little two year old mind.

Sunday morning, we were walking to the park and I told Diana about my dream fuel.  She asked Luca if he had awesome dreams last night.

He said, “No.  I was scared.  I had a nightmare.  About Daddy.”