Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve 2013

We rang in the new year at Kitty’s house.  It was a rager that included 2 spilled dog water bowls, 2 spilled orange juices and one baby poop in the tub.  As the children screamed and crammed cookie after cookie into their mouths, I never felt happier in my life. 

2013 had its downs.  Some pretty big ones if you keep up with the blog.  But it also had 3 big ups.  And as my custom at the end of the year, I’ll write a little letter to each of my ups.

Dear Elijah,

You are becoming more like your mom every day.  Which means you are becoming more beautiful, hilarious, kind, loving and whip smart every day.  As much as I hate the fact that you are growing more independent and getting a life beyond these four walls, I love seeing how much joy you bring everyone you encounter.  You light up every room.  You make people laugh so easily.

I love you so much. 

Dear Luca,

On the flip side, you are becoming more like me every day.  Your imagination and love of playing remind me so much of myself when I was 4.  You dive into you worlds of Batman and Rescue Bots so fully. 

Your personality is so huge.  Our walls literally vibrate with your shrieks of delight.  Just this morning, your announcement of a dry diaper was the most important thing in the world.

I love you so much.

Dear Diana,

Holy crap.  You have done it all over the last year.  Business owner.  Home builder.  Family wrangler.  Husband consoler.  I have no idea where you got your energy and how you did it day after day.

I honestly wouldn’t be able to get out of bed if it wasn’t for you.  Your unbreakable mission to keep this family happy and healthy is simply awe inspiring.  You get more beautiful every day.

I love you so much.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Oh, it would have been so easy to spend this entire break in front of the TV.  You people wouldn’t know.  I could have totally made up a bunch of stories about taking the kids to museums or the opera and all I’d have to do is add poop or pee and you would have completely bought it.

But I kept worrying if I let the kids watch 14 hours of TV every day it would start a chain reaction that would end up with one of them being lifted out of their shack with a construction crane 25 years from now.  “I wash myself with a rag on a stick.”

So when the neighbor girls asked if we would join them for ice-skating at the zoo, I jumped at the chance.

The day was glorious and unseasonably warm at the zoo.  So warm that some of the animals graced us with their presence, occasionally pleading with their eyes to toss one of our children into their cages.

We arrived at the skating rink for the Zamboni parade.  As I paid for our skates, it dawned on me that there was no chance Luca would join us.  His hatred of water is matched only by his hatred of falling down hard.

Luckily, my brother was there and had no intention of skating either.  So I planted Luca at his side and laced Elijah up.  Eli immediately took his place clutching the railing while his feet flew in all directions.

Just as I was about to enter the ice myself, Steve caught my eye and motioned down to Luca level.

Luca ran up to me and said, “I want to skate.”

Okay fine.  I thought as I paid the man that I was better off feeding my $10 to the nearby goats, but whatever.

As I placed Luca’s feet into the skates I remembered Luca’s other hatred besides water and falling hard: stiff shoes.

Luca hates stiff shoes.  With a passion.  New shoes are met with fierce tantrums and panic attacks and, on one such occasion, a trip home from school.

I was forcing Luca’s feet into the stiffest shoes on the planet.  Which also have metal blades on the bottom.

Nope.  No go.  Before one lace was tied he began gagging and choking in a classic panic.  Tears streamed down his face and he shrieked at the top of his lungs in front of those people from Ohio.

And what did his caring, loving father do?  I lost my temper.  I angrily explained the value of $10 and his punishment for this outburst was to sit with his uncle Steve and watch while I had the greatest time ice-skating in the history of the world. 

I left him bawling with my honestly confused brother and I strode to the ice like an Olympic champion. 

And then I took my place next to Eli clutching the railing while my feet flew in all directions.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Luca and Elijah seemed honestly baffled the Santa at the mall said they were on the Good list.  I think they were a little hard on themselves.  Aside from a little going to bed shenanigans and slowly but surely limiting their calorie intake to exclusively macaroni and cheese, they are both really great kids.

But that didn’t stop me from wielding my power to scare them into thinking Santa was going to drop nothing but Rudolph turds on our house come Christmas Eve.

My main bargaining chip was the xbox 360 Eli so desperately wanted.  I informed him that his parents were not getting him one and the only chance he had was the fat man in red.  Which meant being good for goodness sake. 

Leading up to Christmas, I actually got on the phone with the North Pole and pretended to talk to Santa about throwing the xbox he was making right into the incinerator.  At times like these, I wonder if this is who my 22 year old self thought I’d be when I was 41.  And then I remember how much my 22 year old self wanted an xbox.

Elijah didn’t seem to make the connection that every gift he had received from family and friends leading up to Christmas was xbox-based.  Santa would have to be a complete a-hole to deny him an xbox at this point.

Christmas Eve came and we had a lovely dinner with Diana’s family.  After way too much wine, I put the boys to bed.  I leaned against their bookshelves and tearfully told them how much I loved them. 

Luca looked at me sleepily from beneath his blankie and told me he loved me back.

I looked up at the top bunk and Eli was staring at me with crazy eyes.

“I can’t sleep,” he said in a panic.  He was worried Santa was going to turd bomb us.

I explained that he was in no danger of getting passed over by Santa because he was a very good boy.  But he should try to drift off soon before his dad passed out and ruined everything.

I left him and tried to burn some time cleaning the kitchen.  But I heard Eli freaking out about not being able to sleep.  Diana suggested he get into bed with her, which sealed my fate of sleeping in the Peepeeatorium that is Luca’s bed.

A while later I listed to our room and heard two sets of snores.  I quickly set up for Christmas morning and joined Luca.

In what felt like 5 minutes later, I was roughly shaken awake.  Eli looked at me with the dead serious expression of a surgeon. 

“Santa gave me an xbox.”  

A Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


After Luca’s birthday, Diana asked, “What are you going to ask Santa for now that you got all this great birthday loot?”

Luca thought and said, “I have everything I need.  You can tell Santa not to get me anything.”

Well, this kind of generosity of spirit simply had to be rewarded.  With tons and tons of presents.

The first stop on the Christmas presentathon was Grandma Connie’s house a week before the big day.  Grandma Connie knew exactly what would make our children happy this Christmas with her innate sense of giving and an accurate Amazon.com wish list.

Before they got to open their gifts, Grandma Connie made her grandchildren attend the Peoria Festival of Lights.  The Festival of Lights is a special kind of torture for a six year old and a four year old with present fever.  Cars meandering at 5mph through a picturesque road lined with intricate illuminated decorations and Bing Crosby mocking them through the stereo speakers.

We made it back to Grandma Connie’s before their heads exploded and they tore into their presents.

Grandma Connie and my brothers made sure there was not a single Rescue Bot left in the world not owned by Luca.  Elijah got a bunch of Skylanders stuff.  An obsession that we’ll address in a future blog post.

While all the cousins ripped into their boxes with hyena-like efficiency, Luca merely observed his presents.

I asked him if he wanted me to open some of his toys to play with while we raided my father’s Scotch collection.

He said, “Dad.  Can we take these presents out to the car?  I don’t want to open them.”

I assured him his cousins had no intention of absconding with his Rescue Bots.  But Luca insisted we keep them secure.  It was 12 degrees out, so I suggested a far safer place was in Connie’s guest room.  Because the thieves would have to get past Grandma Connie, who we all know has an incredible left hook.

This made him feel better and we placed all his stuff on a love seat.  Throughout the night he crept upstairs to make sure his stuff was ok.  And he wouldn’t touch them until we drove the three hours back to Evanston.

Special shout out to Chris B, a new reader who says he looks forward to my end jokes. 

Um, Chris.  I got nothing today.  Also, sorry for the terrible spelling and grammar.  This post was titled “Horde” until 1 minute ago.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Truth or Dare

Friday night I came home, bid goodbye to Hannah and was immediately cornered by Elijah.

“Dad.  Have you ever heard of this game, ‘Truth or Dare?’ Can we play it now?” 

“What is it!!!!!!?  What is the Dare or Dare game!!!!!?” Luca shouted.

Elijah explained it and I was immediately worried about what was going on with the girls next door when I’m not around. 

I agreed to play and went first.  I chose Dare.

Elijah laughed.  “Okay.  You have to pull down your pants and underpants and show us your front privates.”

“Whoa whoa whoa! This escalated quickly.  Who have you been playing Truth or Dare with?”

I explained that maybe we needed to start our a little more slowly.  I suggested Luca go.  He chose Truth.  Elijah asked him to look deep into his soul and tell us which vegetable he hated the most.

“All of them.”

Eli’s turn.  He chose Dare. 

Yes, I’ll admit I got caught up in the excitement.  I’d like to officially apologize to my neighbor Paul for having to witness Elijah’s butt cheeks pressed up against our dining room window. 

This went on for a bit but I basically ruined the game by refusing to show my front privates to the boys or my neighbor Paul.