Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Key Lime Cove

Wait a minute.  I write a blog?  I love blogs! 

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I came back from my shoot to a smallish mountain of work just waiting for a completely jet-lagged man like myself to mess it up. 

But allow me to back up a minute to tell a tail of the greatest/worst place in the world.

About three days before I was set to come home from South Africa, I got the call that happens every time I go out of town:  The Broken Diana call.  It usually involves bouts of crying mixed with detailed descriptions of all Elijah and Luca’s transgressions.  This latest one involved Luca punching Diana in the eyeball, at the request of Eli.

I offered my condolences and said if there was anything I could do from my luxurious 5 star hotel bar, I would.  Diana suggested when I get home, I get the boys as far away from her as humanly possible. 

I suggested Wisconsin.  Namely, the Key Lime Cove waterpark.  I’d seen it from the highway on a few trips north and looked simply awful and great.  A big beige building with brightly colored waterslides erupting from every angle, kind of like a poop-filled Medusa.

I also heard it was wonderful and hideous from a few friends.  Great for kids, but Hell on earth for adults.  I was hooked.

I invited my brother’s clan along and after changing into our various super hero themed swim suits, we entered the pool.  It was glorious and miserable.  The air temperature was slightly too cold to be comfortable, yet warm enough to hasten the spread of disease.  The smell of urine/poop/chlorine was deafening. 

Eli’s eyes bugged out and I could tell I had just become the greatest dad in the history of the world.  I looked at Luca and instantly remembered, “Oh yeah.  Luca hates the water.”

Wanna go on the water slides?  No.  Want to go in the kiddie pool? No.  Wave pool?  Nope. 

I did finally convince him to ride an inner tube around the lazy river a few times.  But I accidentally capsized us and almost drowned Luca in a very un-lazy way.

We both decided our favorite ride in the park was the showers right before entering the pool.  They were so warm.  And so free of diaper residue.  Luca and I spent an hour lathering each other up and rinsing off. Glorious.

After our 50th shower, I suggested we all head to ye olde timey ice cream shoppe for burgers and, God willing, beers.  After we ordered from the perkiest waiter in the world, I noticed Luca did not seem well.  He was laying lifeless on the booth and his eye had a decidedly goopy look. 

Pink eye!  He also complained of an earache.  Most likely from whatever microscopic things lived in the lazy river.     

Exactly a half hour later, his ear became unbearable and along with it, his screams.  Since we were all sharing a room, I decided to drive him home to Evanston, wailing the whole time.  Thanks to a healthy dose of Children’s Tylenol, he fell asleep and his ear felt much better.

But his eye is still goopy.

Monday, July 22, 2013


It’s hard to describe what I do to people.  “You know those things you fast forward past on TV? I make those.  Sometimes in other countries.  Usually with a guy named Jimmy.”

Elijah and Luca, who have grown up in the world of Netflix and DVRs, aren’t even sure what a commercial is.  Thanks boys, you and your pals will eventually put your dad out of a job.  So it’s hard to get them to understand why dad is in South Africa for so long.  And why he calls at weird times of day.  And why all his photos on Facebook look like they are taken at a winery.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to travel around South Africa on a blessed day off from commercial making.  Aside from many many wineries, we visited a small town in the south part of South Africa that boasts real live penguins.

I remembered a few months ago when Eli was talking to me about sea animals, he mentioned that there were penguins in Africa.  I recall I said, “Um, no.  Son.  You are wrong.  Terribly wrong.  Penguins exist in cold weather only.”

Apparently, there are penguins in non icy parts of the world.  The ones down here in the Africa climate have a distinct air of “Duh, we are the smartest penguins ever” about them.  So smug in their non constant fight with death.

Immediately after the penguin encounter, I called the boys.  I asked them how camp was going (they don’t remember) and if they are being nice to their mom (they punched her in the eye) and they asked what I was doing here.

I said, “Well.  I just saw some penguins.”

And suddenly, my job got real, real interesting to them.  Every time I call them now, they assume I am surrounded by African beasts.  Like I spend my days wrestling crocodiles and mending broken zebra butts instead of complaining about catering.

Every time I call, the first words out of their mouths are, “What animals did you see today, Daddy?”

“Well, no.  Dad didn’t see any animals.  But I did see a big old lighting guy who had brown teeth.  Jimmy and I debated how much someone would have to pay us to kiss him.  The going rate was $300,000.”

“So…no penguins.”

And that’s when they hung up.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013


You know you live with someone day in and day out and you begin to forget their magic powers.  For instance, it was only until I forced Elijah and Luca to accompany me downtown did I remember what charming little buggers they are.  And it took a vaccination to do it.

On the day before I flew to South Africa, I had to go get a few shots to prevent me from whatever diseases they have down here.  Hep A?  B?  Zebra fever?  Unfortunately for the boys, it involved driving into Chicago during the start of the weekend rush hour. 

Elijah took more offense when I called a fellow driver “dummy” than when I called a cabbie the A Word.  He made me promise never to call someone “dummy” every again.

Fine, as long as the A word is still on the table.

We sat in the waiting room and the staff hung over the desk, enchanted by Eli and Luca’s every utterance.  The boys borrowed my sunglasses to do some rock and roll role playing and I thought the receptionist was going to have a conniption.  Which I’m sure they treat at Northwestern Medical Center.

We had to go into a consulting room to speak with a travel doctor about what kind of water I should drink (bottled) and what kind of vegetables to avoid (every).  Within two minutes the doctor was putty in their hands.  Suddenly, a clandestine candy drawer was opened and the doctor begged them to treat themselves to as much sugar as they could eat.  I guess she was more concerned about Malaria than Diabetes.

Elijah and Luca asked and were permitted the opportunity to give me my injection.  I wondered aloud if a 6 year old and 3 year old were the best candidates to stick a needle in my arm and the doctor said, sure, it would be part of a junior doctor’s program.

Thankfully, their roles were that of hand holder and band aid applier.  But I still asked if all this was sanitary.  The doctor said yes, especially compared to what I would be exposed to in South Africa.

I miss those guys.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Sorry about the lack of HamannEggs posts.  No posts = busy dad or drunk dad.  Considering I was toiling until 1am nightly on an unnamed massive beer client, both are correct.

My lack of posts means you people miss a bunch of hilarious Hamann boys antics.  Their recent trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Their camp stuff.  Their abandonment of baseball practice.  Their excitement over moving into a new house.

New house?  New house?  Since when did we purchase a new house?

It’s been one of those developments that have been simmering under the HamannEggs radar for a while.  Diana got some insider trading info about a big, cheap house on the market.  I’m not at liberty to say who tipped us off.  Did I mention Eli’s friends Callie and Liddie live next door?

On a personal note, since Callie and Liddie are now our neighbors, I hereby promise to learn the correct spelling of their names.

Anyhoo, we snatched up this big old rambling 2 flat on a lovely street that butts up against a park.  We were able to buy it in addition to our other house.  Busy 1am Dad does have a few advantages.

We attempted to sell our old Ashland house in vain for months and months with no luck.  Buying two houses was within our means.  Actually affording two mortgages is very very out of our means. 

It became a source of stress at our house.  It was an omen of bad fortune and financial ruin.  I stopped sleeping.  I got really snappy with the boys and was generally a pill to deal.

As our move date became eminent, we bit the bullet and decided to rent out the old Ashland house.  We began referring to it as “That damned house.”  Or “That goddamned house.”  Or “That goddamned stinking crap hole house.”

Thankfully, a very nice family took us up on the rent and we breathed a sigh of relief.

We sent the boys to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and moved into our new place.  And by “we” I mean “Diana.”  The job was taking its pound of flesh.  Which meant Diana had to pack, move and run a small business while I sat in a conference room 11 miles away.

It’s been a bit stressful.  Oh, and did I mention I’m traveling to South Africa?  Yeah.  Life isn’t lining up very well.

I managed to squeeze in one day off in the last month a couple days ago.  Diana asked me to head to our old Ashland house and do one last run through to make sure we had packed all our ant baits and Lego heads.

I was stressed.  I was exhausted.  I was hot and stinky and generally in a foul mood when I walked around.

But then, like a scene from the worst TV movie imaginable, I imagined all the little scenes of our two boys growing up there.  Eli standing naked in our front picture window for the neighbors to see.  Luca poking his little head through the bannister.  Their little first steps on that ratty old orange rug.  So many bashed heads on our kitchen island.

It’s the first house either of them knew.  And I’m going to miss it.  Goodbye old house.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Luca Defense

Yesterday morning, I took the boys to swim lessons.  After a lengthy trip led through the bowels of the YMCA by Elijah (“This way!  No, this way!”), we found ourselves in the big pool.

Before I could even say, “Don’t drown,” Eli leapt into the water.  I figured he knew what he was doing and went to go find Luca’s group.

Luca looked positively petrified.  His fear of the water hadn’t abated in the previous weeks’ classes.  He motioned for me to get close.  “I think I am just going to put my feet in the water and not get in the pool today.”

“Well, that isn’t up to me.  We’ll see what your teacher says.”

His teacher was a very cute high school student who completely ignored Luca’s suggestion for a feet only curriculum.  She gently grabbed him and placed him in the water.

Luca quickly adopted his defense mechanism for forced swimming: catatonia.  The cute teacher would grab Luca by the waist and pull him away from the edge.  His body froze in rigor mortis.  Arms frozen in front of him. Hands still in ledge-grabbing claws.  Legs stuck out straight. 

And the worst were his eyes.  Oh those eyes.  Lifeless orbs.  His far away look made me wonder if in his head he was sitting on our leather couch watching cartoons.  When Luca would pass in front of me, I would wave frantically, hoping to get some kind of reaction.  Some kind of acknowledgment that there was a human under that panic.

The teacher would then attach Luca to the other side and go detach the next fear-paralyzed child.  To me, it seemed more like moving luggage across a wet tarmac than swimming.

But she knew what she was doing.  Eventually, each child would wiggle their arms or legs and, in some cases put their face in the water.

Eventually, Luca was removed from the water and life returned to his extremities.  I told him how proud I was and he was very brave.

He said, “Can I have a treat?”

And out of nowhere Elijah returned to say, “Can I have a treat too?”