Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rock Book

On Sunday, I spent way too much on a speaker ipod thingy for the kitchen.  During dinner, I tested Elijah and Luca’s ear pain threshold while they banged their heads as they call it, “concert style.”

Suddenly, the phone rang.  The caller ID was Eli’s teacher.  Of course, I panicked.

“Hi Mrs. P___.  We weren’t just listening to loud metal.”

“Oh.  Okay…well.  I’m calling to ask for your help.  Elijah borrowed (name withheld)’s homemade book last week and hasn’t returned it.  It’s a book (name withheld) wrote about his favorite rock bands and it’s very special to him.  He would be devastated if Eli lost it.  Can you help him find the book and return it tomorrow?”

“I promise you on my honor I will return the book or die trying.”

Mrs. P___ hung up as soon as she could and I turned on Eli like a jackal.

“Hey man.  That was Mrs. P____.  We have to find that rock book you stole.  Where is it?  Where did you last see it?  I, I mean we, have to find that book pronto or you are in big trouble.”

Eli merely shrugged and said, “I couldn’t find it.”

“No.  That is not good enough.  You better go look.  Again.”

I tossed all the stuff out of his book bag and removed all the books from his bookshelf.  I yanked all the sheets off his bed.  No rock book.

Eli didn’t seem to have as much anxiety about it.  Or any anxiety about it.  Luckily, I had enough for both of us.

I lied to him and said Mrs. P___ told me Elijah would no longer be able to borrow any books from school if we couldn’t find (name withheld)’s book.  This didn’t seem to bother Eli either.

Next thing I knew, I was digging through our garbage bins.  I ripped open a bag of recycling and rifled through its contents:  Bill.  Bill.  Bill.  Drawing from Luca.  Pizza box.  Drawing from Luca.  Bill.  Everything an identity thief needs to become Rick Hamann.  Bill.

And there it was.  A little stapled white stack of paper with orange and blue crayon scribbles.  The cover read, “Rokc Badns.” 

I ran inside waving it enthusiastically.  I found it!  I found it!  Eli looked up from whatever he was doing, completely casually.

“Oh. Good.  You found it.”

I went on a mini tirade about being nice to other people’s property and in the future he’d have to be much more careful.

He said, “I bet you threw it away in the first place, thinking it was garbage.”

He was probably right.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Last Sunday, we visited beautiful Dixon Illinois for some good old-fashioned cousin chasin!  I would like you to read that last sentence in your best Georgia accent. 


My brother in law brings a much needed southern beer drinking charm to every gathering.  Proudly comparing himself to Cousin Eddie from the movie “Vacation.”  It’s refreshing, given our increasing association with the fancy pants liberal Evanston set.

The centerpiece to the day was a newly acquired trampoline, donated by their neighbor.  Who no longer wanted the eventual lawsuit that accompanies every trampoline.  What makes this particular trampoline impressive was not its mere existence, but the fact that it literally in top of the Rock River.

The Rock River usually rushes a few hundred feet away from their property.  But Illinois got walloped by a basement dampening storm last week.  It relocated the Rock River to their yard.  Including the area directly underneath their trampoline.

Of course, Elijah and Luca followed their cousins to the river tramp.  And had the time of their lives leaping and falling and flailing just above these raging rapids.

Editor’s note.  The water underneath was completely still and, at best, six inches deep.  But in my mind was a class 4 white water monster capable of sweeping them to Mississippi in three minutes.

I spent the entire visit swallowing warnings to the children.  I bit my fist every time Luca fell head first towards the edge. 

Occasionally, I could take it no longer and would walk down to the trampoline and try to suggest other, less dangerous activities.  Who wants to sit quietly inside?  Ooh.  I bet there’s an Uno deck around here.

Finally, I relaxed enough to enjoy the bouncing through their eyes.  At one point I grabbed Luca and tossed him back into the trampoline in fatherly glee.

But he landed funny on his face and cried.  At which point we went home.  So I won, I guess.

Monday, April 22, 2013

F Word

Warning.  This post is about farts.  If stories about them, jokes about them, or even the word offend you, please go take a look another post.  Like the one called “Fancy Poop” or the one called “Love Poop” or the crowd-pleasing favorite “Kindle Poop.”

A few months ago, the kids and cousins were in a feverish knock knock joke battle when my brother Steve entered the room and stood Akimbo. 

“Knock knock.”

 “Who’s there?” 

“Interrupting toot.” 

“Interrupting toot wh…”

And he interrupted them with a powerful flatulence.  There has never been, nor will there ever be a funnier joke to my sons.  Most notably Luca, who almost needed to be rushed to the hospital with hyperventilation. 

Luca loves farts.  He loves the concept. He loves the sound.  He loves the pageantry.  And mostly he loves the word.  Fart.  Fart.  Fart.  Fart.  However, in the interest of keeping Diana from moving to another town we declared a prohibition on the word.

It became henceforth known as “The F word.”  You are no longer allowed to say the F word without having to go sit on the steps.  Elijah was the greatest offender, but mostly because Luca simply loves saying “The F word.”  He says it with such glee, such naughtiness. 

Oh how he loves to catch you in the act.  “Oooooooo.  You said the F word!”  He makes the “Oooo” go up and down like a roller coaster.  “OoooOOOOooooOOO!”

He also loves to manufacture offenses.  Luca crawls up to Diana and whispers in her ear, “Please Mommy.  Please say the F word.”

“Ladies don’t say the F word.”

“Please, Mommy.  Please.  Pretty please.  Pleeaasssseeeeee?”

When she gives in, he howls, “Ooooooo!  You said the F word!”

And then I have to pretend to be angry and send her to sit on the steps.     

Friday, April 19, 2013


Julian Timberlake, an old pal of mine, used to tell stories about how his father would create elaborate treasure hunts in their backyard to keep him busy in the summer.  Julian is from the deep south, so I imagine his hunts involved civil war era muskets, stately plantations and gallons of sweet tea.

Last weekend, I decided to create my own treasure hunt for Elijah and Luca.  But instead of stately plantations and tea, I used Post-It notes and Skittles.  Oh, and civil war muskets.

I would write little rhyming messages like, “Your next clue isn’t in a hole. Look under the fruit bowl.”  Or, “Don’t fret.  Don’t moan. Look under dad’s iphone.”  It’s a great way to get Eli to read, plus while they hunt I can check facebook for three glorious minutes.

The notes would lead them all over the house and eventually to a drawer or pan with a handful of Skittles.  Solving these riddles are the greatest achievements in their lives.  They go absolutely bonkers at uncovering a few thousand grams of sugar.

My best clue so far?  “Take it from me.  Look where Luca goes pee.”  Oh man.  Luca recalls it like a classic George Carlin routine.  “Dad, remember in the hunt when you said look where Luca pees?”  Yes.  Yes I do.

So now every hunt must include at least one potty joke.

There is now a constant drumbeat to do a hunt do a hunt do a hunt.  The minute I walk into the house after work, they beg me to do a hunt.  I’m awoken in the morning to a hunt request.  But it’s better than sitting in front of the TV.  Unless you’re watching the 1960‘s show “Sea Hunt.”

Our house isn’t very big.  So I’m kind of running out of places to hide post it notes.  But Eli and Luca don’t seem to care how many times I have to think of what rhymes with “Look under Mommy’s computer.”  Don’t be a looter?  It’s not under the scooter?  Mommy’s wedding ring is secretly made from Pewter?

And now, off to buy more Post it notes.  And a rhyming dictionary.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Choice

Luca still drinks milk out of a bottle.  There.  I said it.  It’s terrible that we’ve allowed it to continue so long.  In our defense, our pediatrician said he’d outgrow it.  You know what?  That’s a pathetic defense.  Forget I tried to pawn this parenting blunder on her.

Anyhoo, I’m beginning to get the impression if we don’t do something fast I’ll be toasting him at his wedding with a vessel featuring a rubber nipple and ounce markers on the side.

On Saturday, I decided enough was enough.  I called Luca into the kitchen right before naptime.  I had created a small display.  On the left, a bottle of milk.  On the right, a cup filled with milk.  However, in front of the cup I placed a small pile of Skittles. 

Luca stared at the Skittle pile with intense desire.

“Okay,” I said, “Luca.  You have a very important choice to make.  You can either drink your milkie from a baba, or you can drink your milkie from a cup AND get these Skittles.  Which do you choose?”

“I want the baba and the Skittles.”

“No…that’s not how this works.  The only way you get the Skittles is if you…”

Elijah interrupted me by shouting from the other room, “I choose the Skittles and the cup!”

“No, Eli, this isn’t your choice.  Luca, this is your choice…”

And I described his options again.  Luca thought hard.  To his left?  Comfort.  To his right?  Candy.  At long last he said, “I choose Skittles and cup.”

Yeah!  I did it!  I won!  I won!  I scooped up the Skittles and proudly handed them over.  Luca wolfed them down. 

And then he said, “I chanced my mind.  I want the baba.”

He tricked me!  That little genius tricked me!  I informed him that’s not how the deal worked and he can’t double-cross me.  He said he’d drink nothing then.

I sent him to his nap without milk to think about how he made me look stupid.