Tuesday, November 26, 2013


When I was a kid I really, really wanted the Micronaut with the cool helmet and wings.  I prayed to Santa Claus every night for it.  But when Christmas morning came along, poof, no Micronaut with the cool helmet and wings. 

It still affects me 36 years later.

So when Luca asked for an Optimus Prime that’s not just Optimus Prime but is also a car carrier, you can be damn sure I was going to make sure he got an Optimus Prime that’s not just Optimus Prime but is also a car carrier.

Luca has been talking about this toy every day for the last month.  He wanted it so much that he offered up all the pennies in his Spiderman piggy bank to help pay for it.

Which pretty much sums up why I love this kid so much.  Who donates their life savings to help their parents pay for their own birthday present? 

After the 30th or 40th “Dad.  Can you make sure you get me the Optimus Prime that’s not just Optimus Prime but is also a car carrier because not everyone knows what it is…” Elijah finally shouted, “Luca!  We got it for you, all right?  It’s in the trunk of our car!”

The idea of his most coveted toy being on the other side of our front yard was simply too much for him to take, so Diana broke down and gave it to him a day early.  

It has not left his side in the last 48 hours. 

And now, like I do every birthday, here’s a little note just for you, Luca.

Luca, you are a tiny magician who produces joy out of thin air.  Your brightness, your spirit, your zeal for every single day has kept me going in one of the toughest times of my life.  I owe you so much.  Every morning, when I see your little head peek out of your room, I know it’s going to be the greatest day of my life.

I love you pal.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


A quick Ed Hamann story. As the family folklore goes (I can’t vouch for the accuracy, blogs were highly iffy in the 1950’s), dad and uncle Dick and my grandparents were driving across the county and my dad hadn’t eaten anything in days.  It seems he was a notoriously picky eater. 

Fearing for his health, Grandpa Al and Grandma Carol offered to get him anything he wanted to lunch.  You name it.  He asked for pancakes and got ‘em.  But then he refused to eat.  Which was when my dad got spanked.

I’m not saying I agree with my grandpa raising his hand to my father.  But I understand.

Elijah and Luca have become quite the picky eaters.  The list of things they’ll eat without a fight can be counted on two Chicken McNuggets.

No matter what I announce for dinner, the first thing out of Luca’s mouth is, “I hate that!”

Their stubbornness not to eat food is matched by my stubbornness to keep forcing them to eat stuff they hate.

My pal Patrick brought us over a lovely lasagna when I was off work. It was big enough to feed a horse, and had every kind of meat in the world besides horse, so I thought it would be great to feed to the boys.

“Guys!  I am gonna heat up some of this world famous Patrick lasagna for dinner!”

“I hate that,” Luca shouted.

“How do you know?  When’s the last time you even ate lasagna?”

“I hate it.  I tried it once and I hate it!”

“Okay.  If you can tell me two ingredients in lasagna.  Or even tell me what a lasagna looks like, you don’t have to eat it.”

Luca thought for a second.  “I hate it!”

So we all sat down to a nice dinner of lasagna.  Well, I did.  Luca and Eli didn’t eat any of it and we fed it to the garbage disposal. 

And then they starved  until the next morning when they acquired their daily calorie intake in the form of Froot Loops.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Last night, I had the rare opportunity to attend one of Diana’s wine classes at the store.  She was hilarious and knowledgeable and poured wine with a heavy hand.

At one point she was telling a story about balance between wine and food and she said, “It was kind of ‘Meh,” as my husband Rick would say…ARE YOU PLAYING ON YOUR PHONE?”

I was.  I was sending a message to my boss, which was no excuse.  It could’ve waited.  I’m addicted to that little device.  Even as I type this, I am highly tempted to jump on it and play that Star Wars quiz game that ranks you in the world on your Star Wars knowledge.  I’m #1 in Illinois.  Well.  I’m not sure if I still am.  You know what?  I better check.  I’ll be right back.

Okay.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Elijah is totally addicted to the iphone!  He is.  Completely and utterly.  Every morning when he wakes up, he sleepily reaches for Diana’s phone.  He steals it out of Diana’s purse when she isn’t looking.  If he is in the car for more than 2 minutes he begs to play it.  I’ve had to physically wrestle it from his hands after warning him about putting it down.

Diana has counted 50 open applications on her phone at any given time, which causes rolling blackouts around the North Shore.  Her phone goes missing for days on end because, while Eli is great at finding Diana’s phone, he’s terrible at finding it when he drops it underneath the couch when a bowl of grapes arrives.  And Diana is constantly, constantly receiving text alerts to Elijah’s conquests.  “You just completed a hamburger in the hamburger game!”

A few weeks ago, I peered in on the boys before going to sleep to whisper “I love you” to each of them.  However, I discovered a telltale glow seeping from underneath Elijah’s covers.  I threw back his blankets and found him playing Candy Crush or Angry Birds or something.  I simply held out my hand and he hissed at me.

So we’ve decided to limit his access to screens.  We give him a little time in the morning and then he has to take a break for the rest of the day.  Yes, we occasionally give in to his constant begging when fighting him just takes too much effort. 

Do you think that guy from Joliet has eclipsed me in Star Wars Trivia in the time it took me to write this?  Surely not.  I mean, it’s only been a minute or two. 

I better check.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


If you need to go through the grieving process, I highly recommend bringing along Luca Hamann.   His delightful chatter about Rescue Bots this and Rescue Bots that kept me from sliding into the abyss last week.  I didn’t want to leave his side for one single solitary minute until he wouldn’t let me leave his side.

Towards the end of the week, a terrible cold ravaged our house.  Everyone was hacking and coughing and generally miserable.  Luca got it worst of all.  On Friday, he ran a terrible fever and his eyes crusted over with goop. 

I buried him with blankets on our couch and told him he could watch as much TV as his goopy eyes would allow.  He did pretty well, with the exception of not letting me leave the couch.

He required that I sit next to him the entire day.  Every time I’d rise to, oh I don’t know, go to the bathroom, he’d shriek sickly, “No Dada!  Don’t leave me!!!!”

That was all well and good because I didn’t really feel like doing anything besides get caught up on the Rescue Bots TV show.  But at around 3pm Luca got so sick he couldn’t even watch TV and demanded we turn it off.

I was trapped.

I just sat there, listening to Luca’s cold germs make their Oregon Trail-esc trip across the couch towards my orifices. 

Every time I tried to make my escape from the couch, Luca would spring up and hysterically cry at my betrayal.  I would tell him, no, I was no actually trying to leave.  I was just testing out this side of the couch.  Yep.  Still springy.

I had to get our neighbor to pick Eli up from school because I couldn’t figure out how to get our couch to and from Main Street. 

Eventually, I got Luca to agree to move to his bed, where he slept fitfully and feverously.  With me by his side the entire night.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ed Hamann

I tell people I write this blog for Elijah and Luca.  That’s true.  But what’s also true is I write this blog for my dad.  This whole thing is a tribute to the man I believe is the best dad on the face of the earth. 

Everything I learned about being a good dad I learned from him.  My kindness is his kindness.  My warmth is his warmth.  Every corny joke, every whispered declaration of love is me simply trying to do my best Ed Hamann impersonation.

Which makes it all the more painful that we lost him last night.

Dad fought off a vicious and cruel form of cancer bravely, but with humor and humility.  He seemed to care more about how it was affected us, because it simply didn’t occur to him to think about himself.  I can’t help but think the reason he went so quickly was because he couldn’t bear to let us suffer through the awful, deteriorating road that lay ahead.

We were with him last night, and even in the last moments when he was almost gone, we laughed and joked and even poked fun at him, which is how he would have wanted it.  I feel lucky to have been there with his brothers in law, his sister in law, daughter in law, his sons and his wife Connie.

Oh Connie.  Calling you my step mom is such an insult.  You are the best mom anyone could ever ask for.  And I’m so happy to have you in our lives.  

I’m going to stumble on now, being a dad the same way I always do.  Trying to answer the question, “What would Ed Hamann do in this situation?”

The answer right now is to go hug my sons.