Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vive La Illustration

“Okay, okay. I get it. Paris is beautiful. Do they have to keep rubbing our noses in it?” These are the thoughts of an exhausted dad at the end of an impossibly beautiful vacation. We’d been up and down the Sein, raced by priceless works of art to squint at the Mona Lisa, shushed each other at Notre Dame and ate frog’s legs enveloped in second hand smoke from real Parisians.

When Diana suggested we check out a new Paris neighborhood, I balked. Ehh…Is it just going to be another charming street lined with picturesque houses and restaurants? Can’t we just lie in bed and watch that movie about the dog dying over and over Luca downloaded from Itunes?

Diana sealed the deal by saying this neighborhood, Montmarte, featured street artists who would do your portrait for a small fee. Vanity overruled my exhaustion. We cabbed up the big hill and, sure enough, found ourselves immediately accosted by (mostly) men with chalk and rolls of paper.

After some shrewd negotiation where we agreed to the first price the artist suggested, Diana and I, and Luca and Elijah paired off for our sittings. Our artist was just perfect. Rumpled shirt, floppy hat, cigarette stained fingers. Eli and Luca’s looked more like an investment banker on the run from the law, which had its own charm.

I was pleasantly surprised at how serious they were. The artist and the boys. Eli and Luca stood perfectly still, so as not to ruin the artist’s concentration. The boys wanted to present the best possible subject. I was more in the mugging for camera camp. I’m not terribly photogenic, so I didn’t have high hopes for our illustrator.

When our artist was done, he presented a drawing that was definitely of two people. While not exactly Diana and Rick, he had done a marvelous depiction of Obi Wan Kenobi and Twiggy. Later that evening, Diana “accidentally” lost our drawing at a cafĂ©.

Eli and Luca were presented a perfect illustration of two 1970s girls. Much to my utter delight. The boys weren’t quite sure what to make of it, but decided to be flattered and happy. Luca held on to the drawing for the rest of the trip and it now resides in our dining room.

And hopefully it will remain in the family for generations.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Vive La Pee

When we arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport, we realized we had too many people for one rental car with Di’s Dad and his new wife. For a brief moment, we contemplated driving a massive tour bus the rental agency had no problem offering up. Despite Elijah and Luca’s fierce begging, I wasn’t confident in the strange European stick shift. I think it involved the metric system and ravens.

We decided to rent these two little sporty French cars. They weren’t Renault, but they were some kind of brand the makers knew would never make it in the United States. Mostly because the drink holders wouldn’t accept a 14 liter Big Gulp. They were so French they smoked and drank coffee and kind of hated me.

But I simply adored buzzing around the French countryside. The roads near our little farmhouse were built for a single horse, or maybe a single girl on a bicycle carrying a baguette, so they made driving a thrill and a terror.

Paris roads, on the other hand, were designed to welcome invading armies. Huge, sprawling, impossible to navigate. Our little GPS voice (British accent, not Pepe Le Pew) would simply inform us we blew right past our round about over and over. But since it was the most beautiful city in the world, I was enjoying the heck out being lost.

Eli and Luca, on the other hand, needed very much to pee.

As we concentrically circled our hotel, Eli became more and more agitated. “I have to pee. Now!” But there was nothing we could do. Downtown Paris is absent of McDonald’s you could justify peeing in because that’s why they make McDonald’s.

Finally, Diana just suggested Eli go in one of our water bottles. I’m fairly sure this was what he was angling at the whole time. Because there is nothing more freeing than whizzing in a foreign country in a foreign water bottle.

The European bottle opening was elegant, but not conducive to effective waste management. So while I was trying to locate the impossibly narrow alley where our hotel was located, Eli literally peed over every inch of our cool little French car’s backseat.

I shouted, “Not on the wine!” and Luca’s screams are still echoing off the walls of Notre Dame.

However, this pee incident pales in comparison to my own brush with bladder issues a mere 24 hours later. But because I am the writer and editor of this blog, you will never know my embarrassment.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vive La Bee

We rented this impossibly French little farmhouse when we were in the Loire Valley. Next door to the hilariously small beds and showers with impossible controls, there was a little enclosure with two goats, a handful of chickens, and a donkey who would love nothing better than to eat you. When we were checking in, the owner of the house pantomimed losing a finger when referring to the animal. The boys loved it and took every opportunity to pet “Mr. Donk.”

Because of the barn, our farmhouse was also home to 400,000,000 flies. They were everywhere. In our baguettes, our Chenin Blank, our frogs’ legs, and our berets. We didn’t care because we were in friggin’ France and it was beautiful.  So we learned to live with our insect friends.

Except for the bee.

On the second to last night we were there, the families had all gathered at the outdoor big wooden table to eat cheese and drink whatever treasure Diana had found on her daily wine exploration. As is custom, right hand was for wine glasses, left hand was for fly shooing. Luca, who had recently become addicted to stinky cheese, came running up for another fist full of funk.

He grabbed onto my chair and very matter of factly said, “Oh. I just got stung by a bee.”

And for nearly half a second, everything seemed fine. After that half a second, the pain started. His eyes became huge saucers of agony and he grabbed his finger in a death grip. The sound that came out of him was pure horror.

I scooped him up and ran into the house so as not to disturb everyone else with Luca’s screaming. But the farmhouse was seemingly built to amplify children’s wails and I turned and ran out into the field with him.

My heart broke as Luca hyperventilated and screamed, “JE-SUS! JE-SUS! I can’t live! I can’t live! JE-SUS!”

I wondered for a moment if we would be spending the evening searching for a hospital among the tiny little towns called “Blou” and Blu,” but Luca didn’t seem to have any allergic reaction a la “My Girl.”

We treated his wound like we do every Hamann injury: unlimited screen time. My French brother in law also assured Luca that the bee was murdered for his offense. By beheading.

Luca was fine and now carried a healthy, and I’m sure lifelong fear of bees. But not donkeys.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Baby’s First Transatlantic Flight

The Hamanns are going to France! I mean, The Hamanns went to France! I’m in the process of downloading the 4,000 photos we took on our adventure. I have lots of fun stories to tell about wine, castles and at least 2 pee pee accidents.

But first things first. We had to get to France.

By the time we arrived at O’Hare International Airport and Chili’s, I had sunk into a coma-like state of dread. Elijah and Luca were not seasoned business travelers. They did not know how to balance their wine and Ambien intake to get the most grooviness out of their flight. Also, we were flying coach, which is for suckers.

As we made a little pile of lettuce and tomatoes from our airport sandwiches, a dude in a blue jump suit and neon yellow vest approached.

“Do your sons want to come with me to see the cockpit?”

I realized at that moment all you have to do to kidnap my sons is wear a neon yellow vest because I blurted, “Yes!” without even blinking. He told me that Diana and I could come as well and I said, “Oh, yeah sure. That works too.”

The pilot and co-pilot seemed totally fine dropping their pre-flight checklists and letting two knuckleheads yank and push whatever they wanted. We snapped photos and proclaimed our love of American Airlines and eventually found our seats.

Elijah was particularly disappointed we weren’t in First Class. Tell me about it. Luckily, we were in the bulkhead and spread out our seventeen iPads.

Next thing you know, we were in the air!

Things went smoothly for the first couple hours. The boys watched movies and played games and peed many many times. Eventually we beat the sun and the flight attendants turned off the lights. I suggested the boys do like Diana, who was already fast asleep.

Eli pointed to his in flight entertainment and said, “I am not sleeping.”

I had slightly more control over my seven year old. I made Luca a little nest of blankets and told him to try his best to get some shut eye. For the next 5 hours, Luca thrashed in his seat. Occasionally flopping his legs or head into the aisle, or shouting, “I CAN’T SLEEP!”

At one point, he raised his sleepy head up, hooded in his blankets and simply groaned. Eli remarked, “He looks like the Emperor from Star Wars.”

I decided sleep was beyond reach for all of us and caught up on an HBO show I’ve been meaning to watch.

We landed in France, totally shredded from lack of sleep, but excited for our adventure.

More to come.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

How To Get A Super Soaker

Last weekend we went to the lovely and hilarious wedding of Diana’s dad. He married a delightful woman named Sharon, who, upon first meeting Elijah and Luca, tried to give them toy guns as gifts. Even though they were confiscated by Diana, the gesture cemented Eli and Luca’s love and respect.

The service itself was a traditional Catholic Mass, with wedding vows inserted right after the sermon. Which, and this is not an exaggeration, included a section on the evils of pornography. Luca performed his duties as ring bearer with aplomb, and Eli declared, “I think I am done with church for a while.”

The reception was in a completely kick ass church gym a few miles away. There were trays of turkey and mashed potatoes and a cash bar, much to everyone’s surprise. However, a certain wine store owner came packing two cases of Champagne, which supplemented the $2 beers.

After several glasses of the good Champagne (yes, Diana brought secret Champagne for us), I was ready to dance. Despite the D.J.’s refusal to grant my request for hard core gangster rap, he got almost everyone out of their seats. Including Eli and Luca, who put on a blistering display of moves. Those after school hip-hop classes paid off.

Like any great D.J., ours knew the magical moment to switch from “The Macarena” to “Oh My Love My Darling” by The Righteous Brothers.

I rocked back and forth with Diana using my best junior high dance moves. Luca had vanished, probably to the haunted forest behind the building (more on that in a future post).

I turned to see Eli dancing with an older woman.

Somewhere in the shuffle between up and low tempo, someone’s mom asked Eli to dance. He had his hands at 10 and 2, and was taking serious instruction on how to slow dance. The mom told him how to move to the slow beat, how to look into someone’s eyes and when to try to grab a butt (not that last one).

I almost burst into tears. How many 10 year olds would do this? He didn’t have an ironic, “help me” face. He didn’t act like a jerk. He didn’t launch into a goofy robot dance. He just danced with an older lady and was cool about it.

When he got into earshot, Diana told him, “You can have any toy you want.”

Eli simply nodded, he knew the score and had made his calculations perfectly. And the next day was the recipient of a comically large Super Soaker water gun.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

First Funeral


Hi Gang!

I’m sorry it’s been a little while since I posted on HamannEggs. We had one of those crushing episodes in our family that makes it hard to write silly stories about the comings and goings of poop and pee.

My nephew passed away.

Yeah, that’s hard to read. Even harder to type. He was a beautiful little guy who had one of those smiles that occupied his entire face. He was the kind of baby who could be passed from loud relative to loud relative without breaking his adorable disposition. There was only one thing he loved more than being chased by his brother, and that was being held by his mom.

You can imagine the giant crater left behind by his loss.

Diana told the boys and they were able to process the information. They tended to look on the bright side, hoping Grandpa Ed would finally have something to do up in Heaven.

We wanted the boys to attend the funeral, but I got some nosy advice discouraging us from bringing them to something so sad. Children shouldn’t have to experience death. Children shouldn’t have to see people they love cry. Children might make an inappropriate noise during the service.

Luckily, Diana has never taken nosy advice about Elijah and Luca, so we drive to Iowa with clip on ties and the world’s wrinklest white dress shirts.

They did great at the service. They designated themselves official babysitters of their other cousin and added much needed levity. Elijah was really concerned about Diana and patted her arm when things got emotional.

Towards the end of the service, I noticed Luca was sitting a row behind us, intensely listening to the priest. He had the same look on his face when he’s trying to figure out what 7 times 3 equals. Luca loves rules and Catholicism could keep him occupied for years.

After the service, everyone stood on the front of the steps and released balloons into the air. Eli and Luca’s cousin said, “How will the balloons know how to get to Heaven?”

Here’s hoping my dad remembers how to change diapers up there.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day 2017


Every year, the big Evanston street fair lands on Father’s Day weekend. I love that our town  throws a giant party filled with bird people, geriatric belly dancers and henna tattoo artists for all the dads. And we upper middle class dads came out in force, dressed in our definitely not cargo shorts, our best Star Wars shirts and Vans slip on shoes. The bravest among us dared to wear the straw hat from last year’s trip to Mexico.

Custer’s Fair (named after the street famous for no other reason than it’s where the fair is) runs right by Diana’s store, so she needs me to man the Wine Goddess booth. There is no better way to spend Father’s Day weekend than miscounting change and explaining over and over that no, there are no free samples like the fudge booth. I actually love it. I get a front row seat to a parade of people who seemed to be conceived from a mind meld of George Lucas and John Waters.

At the end of my shift, my brother arrived with Elijah and Luca. Steve had the look of someone who was spending his Father’s Day weekend watching his brother’s kids. Luca proudly asked me if I wanted to see the gift he just bought. I held out my hand, and in it he placed a “#1 Dad” button.

I made it. All that hard work. All the late nights. All the yelling finally paid off. Number one. I was the top dad in the world. I mean, they don’t just give out that button to anyone. I wonder if Luca needed to give some kind of presentation. Was there a committee? How did I beat out that dad who brings the baseball pitching machine to the park? There must have been some pretty dark stuff in his closet besides that pitching machine.

I ended Father’s Day with that most fatherly of activities: having a catch with the boys. Where I threw a baseball right into Luca’s groin. 

Thankfully, there are no give backs with #1 Dad pins.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pee Mystery

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old fashioned poo and pee story at HamannEggs.

All of the apartments we lived in while I was a kid kind of run together. They all blend into a shag rug/bunk bed/fern clump. In my memory, the living rooms were all covered in cat barf and the bathrooms were all covered in pee. I vividly remember my mother shouting, “Don’t you even aim?” With three sons, she never stood a chance. 

Luckily for Diana, the boys are fairly decent shots around the toilet since they are short.

However, in the hours between 10pm and 7am, someone pees all over everything. Toilet, floor, sink, ceiling, neighbor’s house. It would be impressive if it was so disgusting.

Unlike my mother, who just succumbed to the squalor, Diana wants to find and punish the culprit. Elijah and Luca, who are in a phase where they must destroy each other, build elaborate legal cases against their foe.

“Eli always drinks too much water before bed.”

“Luca pees so angrily.”

“I heard Eli telling his friends the other day that he plans on peeing on the seat so you’ll sit in it at 2am. True story.”

The boys suggested putting a camera in the bathroom to catch the pee thief. I didn’t like the idea of my phone being covered in any other pee than my own.

Diana simply leaves the seat up now in the midnight hours so there is a slightly larger target for the boys. It seems to have held back a little of the flood.

The other morning, I was petting Grover in the wee early hours (Rick Time) when I heard a child’s door slam open. The child raced into the bathroom and whizzed over everything, and then raced back into his room. I could tell he was still deep in R.E.M. sleep. And must have been dreaming about the Skokie water park.

I didn’t have the heard to wake him up and chastise the boy. So I won’t reveal his identity now. I’ll just continue to encourage pre bedtime pees and maybe go buy a tarp.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Concert Laugh

I played Baritone horn all through grade school and high school. I’m sure my parents went to quite a few of my performances, but in my edited memory, they never came to a single one. In the totally fictional version, I look out into the auditorium, only to find two empty chairs with “reserved” scrawled across in children’s handwriting.

Again, I’m sure parents went to a ton of band stuff, but my screwy memories give me plenty of anxiety over showing up to Elijah’s stuff.

Last week I raced home to attend Eli’s first band concert. A concert that had been rescheduled due to a kidney stone issue the music teacher was all too ready to describe in graphic detail in a recent note home.

Eli plays the French Horn. Well, a French Horn occupies space in our front room. I’ve never actually heard him play because he never, ever practices. The French Horn basically plays itself, as any maestro will tell you, so I wasn’t worried. Plus, it was 4th grade band, so I was already expecting a sonic horror show.

The Earth decided to be super hot that day (thanks Obama) and the school auditorium wasn’t air conditioned, so we decided to sit as high up in the balcony as we could. Just to make sure we captured all the heat.

Unlike the more austere audience on the main floor, the balcony took on a decidedly Jimmy Buffet vibe. Moms and Dads shouted down at their kids on stage. A lot of neighborhood gossip was loudly aired. I even brought out my rarely used “shush” for a couple loudmouths.

Things quieted down just as Diana snuck in from work to take her seat and the show began.

The music teacher (straight out of Central Casting) gave us a brief update on his kidneys and referred us to the Xeroxed programs. There were two groups: “Fourth Grade Band” and “Advanced.” Way to beat around the bush. Why not call the first group “Sucky at Band?”

Each group had about 10 songs. Group 1 was on first and the collective audience thought to themselves, “As soon as they are done I am OUT OF HERE.” But the band teacher, evil genius, informed is that we would be listening to 8 songs from “Fourth Grade Band,” then the ten “Advanced” songs and then back to “Fourth Grade Band.” Essentially trapping us into listening to all 20 songs. I couldn’t even be angry.

The concert sounded exactly how you’d think for 30 kids who had just picked up their instruments 3 months ago. But here and there you could pick out the melody of “Hot Cross Buns.”

As the music teacher raised his baton to begin another song, a student prematurely ejaculated a note from his trombone.

Diana burst out laughing. Now, Diana has a lovely laugh. Simply lovely. But it is a laugh that travels. And it bounced off every wall in the auditorium. I bugged my eyes out at her and mouthed, “Cut it out!”

But “Laughing In Church” disease struck Diana and tears began streaming down her face. Her body heaving with laugh spasms.

Luckily, her laughs were quickly drowned out by what I can only assume was “Hot Cross Buns” again.