Potty Training is the worst

By on Nov 18, 2014 in Expert Advice, Life With Three, Parenting | 1 comment

All I smell is pee.  The whole house.  Pee. If you polled the world of parenting and ask the simple question “what’s the worst part of parenting (pre-teen addition),” people would do one of two things: respond “potty training” or reveal themselves to be liars.  Potty training is the worst.  The absolute worst. We’re working on potty training Rocky and, while it’s not going terribly, it’s not been a quick process.  This probably isn’t being helped by our lack of consistency.  Monday: “Oh, look at you peeing in the potty! Who’s a big boy?  Big boy putting pee in the potty.  You deserve an M&M” Tuesday: “You peed? Okay, pull your pants up.  Candy? *sigh* I suppose, hang on.” Wednesday: “Candy? Talk to me when you drop a turd.” We have a couple half-filled sticker charts on the fridge, the promise of more candy unfullfilled.  Some days we use pull-ups, some day we use underwear, and some days we stick him in a diaper and change him when we notice his Pampers dragging on the floor.  In short, we’ve been our own worst enemy.  But, by some miracle, we’re approaching some approximation of him being able to keep his pants dry for days in a row.  The weirdest thing is he’s been better with the poop then the pee.  But, then again, I’ve seen his poop.  I wouldn’t want to sit in that either. Just last week, this was a common conversation: “Hey Rocky, did you pee your pants?” Rocky, not even looking up from his play, “Yep” “Buddy, you have to tell us when you have to pee.” Rocky looks up at me with a smile. “It’s okay, Daddy.” Right.  But he is getting close.  The other day, he crapped his pants.  *But*, he did it right in front of the toilet and dragged his underwear down to his ankles to finish his business in the potty.  When I went in to see what was up, he was happily wiping, his legs smeared with shit, along with the toilet seat and rug.  I went to help and he proudly turned to me and said “No Daddy, I’ve got it.”  He’d made it to the potty…basically.  He was a champion…pretty much. I think the peeing started to come around when he realized he was just tall enough to pee standing up.  Actually, he’s kind of the perfect height for it as he can just rest his junk on the rim of the bowl.  No hands needed; no aiming.  He’s going to be really disappointed when he grows a few inches and has to put forth a little effort to hit his target.  And when he finishes?  He bends over and puts both hands on the rim of toilet, leans his head in, and spits out a spray of saliva.  I’m proud to say he learned one important lesson from Dad: you’re not done peeing until you’ve...

It’s My Not-A-Box

By on Nov 17, 2014 in Chicago, Life With Three, Parenting, To Do With Kids | 1 comment

My kids, like most kids I assume given the fact that we have two books about kids playing in cardboard boxes, love to play with and in and on top of cardboard boxes. Both books are fun and I highly recommend them. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli. We always have a stream of boxes in our house from Amazon. Especially with the Amazon Mom (which… why is it called Amazon Mom and not Amazon Parents or Amazon Family or Amazon YouWantADealOnRepeatedItemsYouNeed…anyways I digress) diaper and wipe delivery. The box from the wipes and diapers are especially awesome because they are bigger and the kids can get in them and pretend they are whatever they are pretending. Robots? Cars? Whatever. When I was a kid my Dad and Stepmom got a new dryer and so we had a huge box in our house. I was older than my kids are currently but I fucking loved that thing. It was everything. I painted it so that I could camouflage the eye holes that I had cut in it to spy on people. Ok fine it wasn’t so much camo as much as it was I spray painted the whole thing white and then were the eye holes where I spray painted it black. SO SO SO clever. That box lived in our dining room in the corner until my dad bought me a drafting desk that I spotted and wanted for Christmas one year. I did not want to get rid of that box for the life of me, but a new super cool artist-y desk made me forget all about it. So kids love boxes. So what’s a mom to do when there is an Abt delivery van outside an apartment building with several large refrigerator boxes sans the refrigerator?  A mom carrying a baby in a carrier (which by the way..LOVE LOVE LOVE the Beco Baby Soleil…Love.) with two cold, tired and hungry kids? This mom talks to the Abt guy and asks if she can take one of the boxes. Sure he says, but I can’t empty it for you (it was full of styrofoam). I picked it up and said, “No worries, I can carry it. I’m only a block and a half away.” I think he thought I was out of my mind as he offered a few times to bring it around for me but I declined. Mainly I knew the kids needed to get home and eat lunch and I knew I could muscle it home. So muscle it home I did. The excitement of the box stopped the sadness that was happening. And the dangling of the carrot of being able to play in the box if you finish your lunch actually had the kids finishing all of their lunch. The kids helped me empty the styrofoam which we stacked into the office (a nice job for dad when he got home!) and they went to town. “Wait, I have to get the stool to climb into it.” Even on the stool the box still stood above Lucy’s head. “But Mom, how are we going to get in it?” I tell them they could just lay it on it’s side and you could use it like a tunnel. They really wanted it upright though and so we cut a door in so they could get in an out. Later in the afternoon we cut some windows in it. So now they have a giant not-a-box. The first thing it was, was a jail. But then it was a jail and the hospital, “because we don’t have a lot of boxes to be the city we only have one, so the whole town and all the buildings have to be within the big box.” So now we have a new addition in our living room. I wonder how long it’ll be around. And I wonder what other things it’ll become.    ...

Just another Tuesday

By on Nov 12, 2014 in Life With Three, Parenting | 1 comment

Small Talk (or “Thanks Polar Vortex”) The temperature just dropped about 30 degrees in three hours, which means the Polar Vortex has returned.  I’ve got to say, I’m super excited to have this freezing air here now again for the third time this year.  I think that bodes super well for this coming winter.  But hey, it sure makes small talking in the elevator up to my office easy.  From yesterday morning: “Keeping warm?” I froze briefly (pun not intended).  I’m just so terrible at small talk.  But then I remembered the low today and my reply came to me. “I am for the next few hours.” Boom!  Small talk! It doesn’t sound like much, I know.  But it was words.  Compare that to earlier in the morning when I was walking to the train at my usual brisk pace and passed a guy.  He glanced at me sidelong as I swept past him and said “Geez, you’re passing me like I’m standing still.” My response? “Uh, yeah, oh…Fast!”  I put my head down and picked up the pace.  I’m sure he had mixed feelings being passed by the mentally handicapped guy in the green jacket. Parent of the Year As far as we can tell, Rocky didn’t nap at all yesterday.  Not even a little.  As you may recall, that’s not a recipe for a great night.  We were prepared, though, and managed the crisis pretty well.  But no matter how diligent we try to be, there’s still only two of us and three kids.  Something is bound to fall through. Rocky walks out of our room with my glass of wine in his hand. “Here Daddy, I drink it.” “I’m sorry, did you say you drank it?” “Yeah.” “You drank from this glass?  The wine?” “Yeah.  I drink it.” Nice.  Well, no big loss.  It wasn’t that great a bottle of wine anyway. Mexican Night Our microwave Egg cooked in a non-stick pan Four month old’s blowout diaper CTA floor Carmel factory explosion Oh, sorry, don’t mind me.  I was just making a list of things that are easier to clean than Mexican rice on tostada night....

This is why he still naps

By on Nov 5, 2014 in Life With Three, Parenting | 0 comments

Monday, 3:47pm Text received: Warning. Warning. Warning.  Rocky only took 20 min car nap. I exhale.  Great.  (another deep breath) I don’t have to work late, right? Maybe I do.  It certainly wouldn’t be bad for my career and, at this point, I’m the only source of income.  I should really be a go getter.  How dead would I be if I decided to work late.  Pretty dead, right? (taps pencil against desk) Yeah, I shouldn’t work late. That wouldn’t be cool. Monday, 5:20 pm Receive picture of broken cork in wine bottle with a sad face.  Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Hmm, this train will probably arrive at Western in about 10 minutes.  Why is this train going so fast?  There’s really no hurry.  Alright, no problem.  You can do this.  You’ve faced worse.  Just go in there and head straight to the kitchen and help get the dinner on the table.  Move quick and don’t stop and we can get that kid in bed by 7.  You can do it, big guy.  You’re a winner.  You’re a dad. Monday, 5:35 pm I enter the house.  Lucy is already helping to set the table, not a complaint from her.  That’s a good sign.  Rocky circles the kitchen.  He has a piece of construction paper in his hands that he’s slowly shredding with his chubby little hands.  I pause for a moment to watch him. He’s not blinking. “Hey…buddy,” I say, giving his some clearance as I work my way to the microwave where Leah’s already begun heating up leftovers.  By some act of divine provenance, we’d settled on leftovers for dinner and moving up dinner by a half hour was a simple matter. I notice that the broken cork issue was resolved and Leah has a glass of wine working. Rocky continues to circle. Monday, 5:42 pm HOW IS THIS MICROWAVE STILL NOT DONE.  JESUS CHRIST, AM I A FUCKING PIONEER OVER HERE.  I COULD HAVE KILLED AND GUTTED A PIG BY NOW. THIS FOOD NEEDS TO BE ON THE TABLE. Monday, 5:43 pm “Rocky, buddy, stop.  Stop buddy.  You’re going to break that.  Alright, alright, give me that.  No, you’re breaking it.  I’m sorry you’re sad, but you’re breaking it. Monday, 5:44 pm I turn to Leah.  “Now he’s just throwing markers.  He’s just throwing them. When’s the last time he blinked.” Monday, 5:45 pm “EVERYBODY GET TO THE TABLE!  FOOD’S READY!  GO! GO! GO!” For the next 15 minutes, we basically throw food at the kids.  They’re given honey in which to dip their meat, which is a trick that should clearly be in every parenting magazine.  Because, as far as anyone knows, honey is good for you.  I’m pretty sure it’s a super food and not just a form of yellow sugar.  Monday, 6:00 pm “Rocky, sit back down.  Rocky.  Rocky.” “Rocky.” “Rocky, sit down.  Stop.  Stop throwing that.” “Daddy,” Lucy says, looking up with a honey-smeared face. “Can I have more chicken?” (it’s pork, but now doesn’t seem the time to clarify). “Here, yeah, take your brother’s.” At this point, Rocky has abandoned his plate and is under that table. “But there’s no more honey.” “Okay, use your brother’s honey.” Lucy draws Rocky’s plate by her to dip.  Rocky senses unauthorized sharing in progress and pokes his head back up, eyes wide, lips pulled thin and white. “That’s my honey,” he wails, collapsing onto the floor, his body now entirely boneless. “Here, take her mashed potatoes.” At this point, I scoop up her untouched mashed potatoes with a hand and fling them down onto his plate.  He immediately recovers and brings his face back to level with the plate.  He grabs the pile of potatoes in his right hand and begins to eat them like an apple.  Everyone is happy now, each kid with their favorite food.  This is breaking about 15 dinnertime rules, but it’s Lord of the Flies in our dining room.  This is survival time. Monday, 6:05 pm “Quick, everyone upstairs.  It’s bath time.  Hurry, hurry, it’s soooooo late.  We’re going to do a quick bath and then bed.” Lucy looks confused.  “It’s not late.  It’s early.” “Early,” I say, my eyes wide.  “It’s pitch black outside.  It’s almost the middle of the night.”  Thanks, daylight savings time. Monday, 6:25 pm Bath done.  I managed to force Rocky into his pajamas.  I basically threw toothpaste at the kids teeth.  Rocky still has yet to blink.   Monday, 6:45 Two books down. Kids in bed. Time for a...

That time Jason had a paper route.

By on Nov 4, 2014 in Chicago, Cubs | 0 comments

And I don’t mean when he was a kid. I mean when he was in his mid-20s. I remembered this time in our lives as I was driving down Clybourn Ave today as the place where he picked the papers up was near the intersection of Fullerton, Clybourn and Ashland (goddamn angle streets with your confusing six corners and non-grid nonsense). Anyways, at the time Jason was a writer for a baseball blog (which by the way led us to an Ernie Banks charity wine event (we were sent as reporter and photographer (I didn’t know anything about photography at the time but I faked it) as it was a media only thing) in which Ernie Banks started talking to us, found out that we were physicists and spent the rest of the night calling us his “physicist friends”… it was at this time that Jason had just started his new job and had left the field of physics and said to me, “If you tell Ernie Banks I’m no longer a physicist I will kill you.” He made Ernie Banks laugh. I don’t know if the birth of his kids will trump that moment.)….holy crap that was a lot of nestled parentheses… and somehow also got hooked up with The Heckler . He wrote a couple of articles for them, but his main deal with them was to deliver the hard copy of their publication to bars around the city. For something like $70 a month. That’s how poor we were, like that $70 kinda made a difference in our monthly living.  We were living in the Ukrainian village in a shitty ass apartment and getting really excited if we had $10 left on the last Tuesday of the month because Small Bar would have some beer special for $4 each so we could each have one and leave some money for a tip. At some point he stopped doing it because really the charm of being a 27 year old paper delivery boy wears off pretty fast. That and I think we were just dropping off the papers and having a beer at the bars, thus somewhat negating the $70 per month that we were making. Eventually Jason got a “real” job and made some “real” money. I think back to that time and really if you had told me that in less than 10 years we’d have a house in the city and a pretty nice little lifestyle, I wouldn’t have believed you. I mean I was living in a mouse invested apartment that had a heat problem while trying to write my thesis. I would take a bath in basically boiling water to warm up and then write until I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore and then repeat the process. And even with all that, I look back on those years with extreme fondness. I also don’t think I would have believed had you told me that would be my feelings many years later. Funny how life goes like that.Rose colored glasses and all....