Friday, May 29, 2015

Soap Mystery

Remember the robber I scared off like a big man? Yeah, he came back and stole our TV. But let’s not dwell on that, shall we? We boarded up our windows and my Rottweiler mounted elephant gun arrives in the mail this weekend.

I want to tell the tail of another great mystery: The case of the soapy tooth brush.

Two weeks ago at bedtime when Diana brushed her teeth, her mouth filled with rosemary hand soap. This did not please Diana. But she chalked it up to nothing.

But one week ago, it happened again (cue dramatic music).

As you all know, the boys’ cousins come over almost every Saturday. They play, they cry, they beg repeatedly to play Xbox. And there are great swaths of time where all the kids are out of sight. Either playing on the swing set or playing that “Who Wants To Die” creepy tag game they invented.

It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out it was one of these four kids. We immediately sat down Elijah and Luca and grilled them like Riggs and Murtaugh. We were bad cop/bad cop. If we don’t find out who is squirting soap on Diana’s toothbrush we are canceling cousin time effective immediately.

They both rolled over on cousin Rory. Yes. It had to be Rory. Because she goes to the bathroom. A lot. And when she’s in there she takes a lot of time. So mathematically it has to be her. Case closed. Eli was particularly emphatic that Rory was the only logical conclusion.

I wasn’t so sure. Rory may have a mischievous streak, but soap on a toothbrush didn’t feel like her M.O. And why target Diana? What did she ever do to Rory except give her popsicles? Did Rory hate popsicles?

I eventually sat Rory down, with Luca acting as her lawyer.

“Now Rory. Let me first say I’m not mad and you are not in trouble. I am just trying to figure out who put soap on Diana’s toothbrush. Do you think you may have accidentally taken Diana’s toothbrush and accidentally put it under our soap dispenser and accidentally squirted soap all over it?”

Luca said, “Yes. Because you spend a lot of time in the bathroom, Rory.”

I tried to explain to Luca that he was supposed to be Rory’s lawyer, not for the Prosecution.

Rory interrupted us with the most forceful speech I’ve heard from her mouth. “When I go to the bathroom. I. Go. To. The. Bathroom. That’s it.”

Okay. Sheesh.  I told Diana I struck out and we may actually have to make good on our threat to cancel cousin time.

She said, “Oh no. Eli just admitted he’s been filling our toothpaste tube with soap as a science experiment.”

The little rat was going to let Rory take the fall until his conscious got the better of him.

Case closed. And now a special message to the dude who stole our TV: I sincerely hope the channels get stuck on an infinite marathon of “Downton Abby.” Oh, and that it falls on you and crushes you to death.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Baby’s First Home Invasion

At 1am, I heard the side door bang shut loudly. A little odd given the hour, but Diana roams around a lot at night with wine store related anxiety, so I chalked it up to nothing and closed my eyes.

I heard another thud from the other side of the house. The side of our house that’s currently undergoing a massive renovation. What in the world would Diana be doing over there?

I leaned over and saw Diana was sound asleep. Uh-oh.

I crept over the two, count ‘em, two sleeping guard dogs in our hallway: Grover and Chris and Lexa’s massive German Shepherd Greta. I’ll get back to them being fired later.

I tiptoed through our dining room and peeled back the plastic sheeting separating us from the construction. Then I saw it: A box being hauled out of our front living room by some dude. It appears the construction workers had left the window unlocked and someone was using it as their own personal Best Buy.

As a Dad, this is a situation you play out in your head millions of times. Billions. The number one dad job is to protect your family. That’s it. My greatest fear was someone would come into my home and I would be too scared to protect Diana, Elijah and Luca. I’d choose flight over fight and that would be it. The greatest failure of Dad-ness in the history of the world.

Maybe it was this fear of failure that propelled me across our living room. Or maybe it was the fact that we had just finished watching the revenge movie “John Wick” and I was still amped up from watching Keanu Reeves kill so many people we lost count in the first fifteen minutes.

Either way I ran across the room, stuck my head out the window and shouted, “What the f*ck are you doing?” Loud.

Standing there, with arms full of my stuff, was a bald man who was my age. He was dressed like he was heading off to his own construction site. I don’t think he expected us to be home, because I scared the crap out of him.

He blurted, “I’m here doing work!”

The total illogic of his statement was like a slap to the face. I shook my head and shouted again, “Get the f*ck out of here or I’ll get my gun and f*cking kill you!”

I was glad he didn’t ask to see my gun because I don’t have one. I was also glad he didn’t ask why I didn’t simply bring my fictional gun and murder him John Wick style since it seemed to currently be an option on the table.

The scared bald man burst through our gate and into the night.

I did it! I did it! I scared off a bad man who meant to do my family harm. I brushed off my hands and put my thumbs through my imaginary suspender straps. I also twirled my imaginary gun and put it back into my imaginary holster.

I did a quick search of the premises, this time armed with a lovely Japanese butcher knife Diana had gotten me for Christmas. I also closed up the window and locked it. Case closed.

I went back to bed, so pleased with myself and stared up at the ceiling. I am a modern day hero, I thought. Diana sat up in bed and asked if I had heard a noise.

“I think that was the dogs,” I said. “Oh. And by the way, there was a man in our house but I scared him off.”

“WHAT?” Diana responded in the only reasonable way possible.

“Don’t worry. I scared him off.”

“Did you call the police???” She understandably shouted.

Oh right. The police. They would want to know. Maybe it was adrenaline clouding my thoughts. Or maybe I was a complete moron. But it simply didn’t occur to me to call them.

I called Evanston police and said, “Hi. There was a man who was robbing our house just now.”

They asked if he was still there and I said no, he had been gone for around 15 minutes.

“Sir, why did you wait fifteen minutes to call us?”

I quickly made up a lie that I was busy securing our house and checking to make sure there wasn’t anyone else still there and not spending that time in bed.

Within minutes our house was surrounded by Evanston’s finest. At which point Grover and Greta began barking at the intruders. They are fired.

They didn’t end up catching the guy because, well, he had a lot of time to run away. But the police assured us he wouldn’t be back. Especially with the fictional gun we had in the house.

Long story short, the only stuff the bad guy got was a box of DVDs we set aside for the poor. I hope he likes that scratched copy of The Borne Supremacy.

I also just spent a couple hundred dollars on a home security system advertised (naturally) on NPR.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Team Dad

Alright Dads. Gather around and take a knee. Cut the chatter.

Quite frankly, this team hasn’t been living up to the proud and storied history of the Evanston T-Ball Dads. It’s a disgrace and you better shape up.

Uniforms. How many times to I have to say this? We wear cargo shorts. Big, baggy cargo shorts. I want to be able to fit a Labrador puppy in your pockets. And if I can see your knees you’re running laps.  The only one who gets a pass is McDonagh. As team clown he can wear crazy plaid shorts. Great job, McDonagh. 

You guys know the league is strict about t-shirts. Ratty, old, faded. With obscure or ironic cultural references only. Dolan, what on God’s green earth made you think you could wear a purple polo? Do you want a fine, Dolan? Swap that out for Bill Murray or Dillon Panthers now. Do it. Take a note from McDonagh. “World’s Greatest Dad.” Classic.

I’m also very disappointed in this team’s fitness. Everyone is to be 10 pounds overweight. All in the gut. I want to see guts, people. If I don’t start seeing some more guts you’re all running laps. And I can see in your eyes that some of you aren’t hung over. League minimum is 4 hung over dads. What are you doing on Friday nights?

I’ve also been getting some reports about your behavior in the stands. We aren’t here to pay attention to the game, people. We’re here to humble brag about our success. I wanna hear stories about BMW mechanics and Costa Rican hotels. McDonagh, you just keep doing a play by play like it’s the World Series. That bit’s hysterical.

Oh, and one more thing: Snacks. This is Evanston. Let’s try to keep them inedible and bought from Whole Foods. Something stamped with “organic” or “fair trade.”  Last week someone brought Doritos and Coke we almost had a mom riot on our hands.

That’s it. Let’s get out there and cheer on your sons and the three other kids whose names you can remember.

Hands in and give me a “Reliving our insecurities through our sons” on three.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Its time for my weekly sports anxiety report! Let me don my rumpled plaid sports coat and take a little nip from my flask.

Yesterday, Luca had another baseball practice. And is appears his severe anxiety is over. Diana reported that Luca needed no hand holding in the field and actually nabbed a few balls.

When I asked him about it last night he said, Im pretty much the best baseball player ever. This kind of bums me out because I was really looking forward to hanging with him in left field again. I had my chewing tobacco picked out and everything.

At Elijahs first baseball game, one of his coaches gleefully called him Slugger.  Hey Slugger! Here comes Slugger! Look out, its Slugger!

It was only after watching Eli at the plate that I realized his coach was using the name ironically.

Eli is more of a contact hitter. Theres not a lot of upper body strength, so he just kind of positions the bat in a way that, when it connects with the ball, it dribbles out a few feet. But you know what? It guarantees he gets to first base because what 8 year old catcher knows what to do in a bunt situation?

But I decided it was time to do a little training with Slugger. After a little research, I purchased a Skillz Batting Trainer. Adding a Z to your product instead of an S almost disqualified it, but the thing was pretty highly rated on

The Skillz thing is basically a long stick with a bright green ball at the end. The Dad (me) holds the thing out in front of the batter (Eli) and they whack at it. We gave it a shot last weekend and we had a blast.

Eli loved it because when you hit the green ball at the end it makes this wonderful Ping sound off his aluminum bat that makes the dogs in the neighborhood think the apocalypse has arrived.

It also required almost no baseball knowledge. All I had to do was stand there and shout Home Run! every time he pinged the ball. And bask in the sound of dogs scratching at their front doors to escape.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Hamann tradition is the boys get to select one item from Target for Diana for Mother's Day. Past items have included Terminator sunglasses and muumuus.

This year, in a move that would make Oedipus proud, Elijah and Luca picked out a matching panties set emblazoned with characters from Disneys Frozen. When Diana opened it up (among some more legit presents), they demanded she do a fashion show with a vehemence that would also make Oedipus proud. Diana demurred. I suggested she do a private fashion show for me later, but then immediately felt gross about sexualizing Disney characters. Why does this product exist?

Normally, Mothers Day involves me distracting the boys while Diana spends the day in the yard, gardening. However, we are embarking on a massive home renovation that will treat our original house as a mere suggestion. So we needed to clear out everything east of our dining room in anticipation of demolition.

So instead of puttering in the soil, Diana had to paw through and categorize a billion toys. When you lay out 8 years worth of childrens toys, its pretty staggering. We tried to enlist Eli and Luca to help, but theyd just clutch broken infant toys as if the sad, old dried out Cookie Monster Play Dough set was the key to their happiness.

We ended up sending the boys off to play video games and watch TV upstairs for twelve hours straight. Thus, making it the greatest Mothers Day of their lives.

At one point, I thought we should go outside to practice baseball and I found them in a shirtless, pale pile on the couch. They hissed at me with red eyes like rabid raccoons.

Grover was no better. Moving boxes gives him anxiety because of some ancient trauma that befell some wolf ancestor of his. He spent the whole day sighing and looking at me pleadingly.

At the end of the day, Diana and I lamented our own lack of mothers and plotted evil things to do to the Facebook posters on Mothers Day. But instead the family turned to our other Hamann tradition of saying what we love about guests of honor.

Luca, commented on Dianas excellence in both kisses and smooches. To him theres a difference. Elijah waxed poetic about Dianas ability to spend money on him.

I simply asked everyone to look around. There was nothing that Diana love didnt make better. From the walls of our house to our anxious dog who seemed at ease by her side to our beautiful, kind, funny sons. Its Diana who makes everything in my life wonderful. 

I love you, Di.