Alright Chicago, you win this round

By on Feb 21, 2016 in Chicago, Life With Three | 0 comments

Man, that first fake Spring day in February. It’s the best.  After two and a half long months of weather in the 20’s and 30’s (if we’re lucky), a surprise wash of heat from the South sends the temperature surging into the 50’s, and Chicago goes nuts.  You’ll find runners on the lakefront with no shirts, dad’s barbecuing with a beer in one hand, and pasty neighbors emerging from a season-long hibernation.  It’s truly the best. Except in the long run, it might be the worst.  For whatever reason, despite years of experience with the February fake-out, I decide each year that winter is over and my winter coat can be set aside in favor of a light fleece.  It’s Spring, baby!  I can pretty much see the sun!  Don’t drag me down with your “winter apparel”.  And, unfortunately, Leah’s not any better and we end up dragging the kids down to our level of delusion.  That was the case today as the weather dipped back down into the 30’s, bring along with it a frigid Northwest wind. We needed a few things from the store for tonight’s dinner – things we couldn’t find at Harvesttime.  So hey, why not make an outing of it and take a family walk to Jewel.  It’s sunny out and it’s basically Spring.  Kids, put on your sweatshirts; coats are for losers! It’s Spring!* It actually started out pretty fun.  We raised Rocky’s seat on his bike so he could get a little leverage (that boy won’t stop growing), and he was moving with a little more confidence on his bike.  They would ride ahead to each street, pausing to wait for us as we sauntered up along Campbell street. Fun times, guys!  High fives for Mom and Dad!  Screw you, Winter! And then… We turned into the wind.  Momentum slowed as an arctic wind buffeted the kids back.  They struggled to pedal, gritting their teeth as the wind turned their fingers and ears a nice, bright red. “I can’t go, it’s too hard,”  Rocky cried.  Veronica, she just cried, my attempted to cover her exposed fingers failing miserably.  And all the while, we were aware that this was a cross wind and it was actually going to be in our faces on the ride home. While Leah was corralling the kids on their bikes, half dragging them to the Jewel, I was pushing Veronica in the stroller.  It seemed like something was dragging, like when the diaper bag strap gets wrapped around a wheel. I took a look down, but no straps.  The wheel was, however…a little askew.  Huh.  I took a look closer, and it was more than askew.  The wheel was separated from the axle.  The weld that held the wheels together had broken clean off, leaving us with one wheel drift away from the stroller. So we were a mile from the house with: two frozen kids on bikes near tears, one three-wheeled stroller, and one underdressed toddler quite tearful.  Man, these really are the best of times.  And we still had to get home. The way home was certainly fun, in the same way the Bataan death march was fun.  Leah and I behind the kids, driving them forward, while the tears rolled down their cheeks. Lucy: “My fingers are so cold.” Leah: “Lucy, what did I say.  Complaining about it doesn’t make it any less cold.  We’re already well aware that you’re cold.” Rocky: “My ears hurt so bad.” ** We finally made it to Western and Lincoln, probably a half mile from our house, when I look down.  “Fuck.  Leah, we’re down a shoe.” Veronica wiggled her toes in her stripped sock.  Back I go to find the shoe. Leah: “Run” The shoe only fell off four blocks back.  No big deal.  Add frozen toes to the list of parenting fails for the day.  I grabbed the shoe and bolted back to find Leah and the kids.  At this point, the stroller wheel had gone from behaving badly to behaving dead.  The only way to move it was to lift the back end.  At this point, Rocky just tipped over on his bike, playing dead to avoid further pain.  Leah picked him up in one arm and dragged the bike along in another while I brought the stroller along behind, lifting the back wheels off the ground.  But hey, at least everyone was crying. So yes, you won Chicago.  You sucked us in with your little Spring ruse and knocked us down with your Winter chill.  Hope you feel good about yourself. But hey, at least we can say lesson learned, right?  Coats back on at least until mid-March? Maybe.  At least until the next fake Spring day.   * Before anyone calls DCFS, we did take jackets with us below the stroller.  Light jackets.  Without gloves or hats.  Okay, fine, call DCFS. ** seriously, nobody wins if you call the authorities...

The Sibling Sleepover or Best. Idea. Ever.

By on Jan 18, 2016 in Expert Advice, General Family, Life With Three, Parenting | 1 comment

First of all…Hey there! Yes we are still alive with the three kids. Everyone is doing great. And it only feels like we are drowning 97% of the time instead of 98% of the time so, improvement! This past weekend was cold in Chicago. I’m not going to complain it’s been a pretty mild winter and we choose to live here (blah blah blah). But three kids and 0 degrees outside? Shoot me in the face. Seriously. At one point I just curled up in a ball on the couch and went into some kind of hibernation. The hibernation of, “I. Can’t. Even.” We somehow got dinner together and on the table an hour early. Which was good because we were all hungry and it was halftime of the football game…hashtag goodtimingforsportsisimportant. Everyone showered and bathed….and it was 6:30 (they usually go to bed at 8 and we are just starting the bedtime routine at this point). Now what? Lucy and I played some Crazy 8s. Then some War (just as annoying as when I was a kid hashtag ifeachpersonhastwoacesitwillneverend). Veronica went to bed. All the teeth were brushed and potty trips happened. And we were just all done. I mean as always at bedtime. But I mean. Done. So I said, “Hey why don’t you guys go have a sleepover in Lucy’s bed?” [Sidenote: all three of our kids share a room, with Lucy getting a top bunk of a custom bunk system and Rocky on the bottom bed and Veronica in the crib.] Kids: “What do you mean?” Me: “I mean go play up in her bed super quietly and maybe Lucy can read books using a book light outloud…but quietly outloud because Veronica is sleeping.” Kids: “WE TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT!” Us: “Ok. Go. Goodnight.” Up the stairs they went…then there was….silence. We looked at each other and said, “This is just never going to work. It’s only 7pm….but whatever, let’s start a movie.” So start a movie we did. Veronica woke up at one point. Jason put the elders under a blanket with the book light.” At about 8:30 we heard the door open, and little feet come down the stairs. Damnit. Lucy returned the book light. Gave us a kiss, and went back to bed. Rocky gave us a hug and a kiss and put himself back to bed. We looked at each other with a “The Fuck?” look on our faces. How did that work? How did they only wake Veronica up once? But also. THESE KIDS ARE AWESOME! They requested the sleepover again tonight and while I’m all for it, we are keeping it to weekend days (and to keep it special so it doesn’t turn into just pure play and loudness). Rocky also said, “Maybe Veronica can join us when she’s two. I think that’s a good plan.” Given that crazy kid can climb the ladder already and get on the top bunk, I don’t think he’s...

You’s on first

By on Oct 19, 2015 in Parenting | 1 comment

Every week in pre-school, Rocky has a letter of the week.  On Monday, during our walk to school, we generally discuss the letter and all that comes with it. Rocky: What’ the letter this week? Me: “T” Rocky: Does garbage can start with “T”? Me: No, garbage can starts with “G”.  Guh-Garbage can. Rocky: Oh.  Does leaf start with “T”? He’s got a ways to go with his letters.  Actually, I find it more impressive that he didn’t accidentally run into something that started with the letter T as we walked under the trees while trucks whizzed by.  But today, the letter game got a bit more baffling. We were in a quite a rush.  Veronica had slept about an hour total that night and the morning moved sluggishly.  So I threw him up on shoulders and we were off. Rocky: What’s the letter this week? Me: Hmm.  Oh right, this week is “U” Rocky: *giggles* No! That’s not a letter! Me: What? Yeah, “U”.  Like umbrella or unicorn or, uh, underwear. Rocky: *giggling harder* underwear! Me: Yeah, “U” Rocky: No, what’s the letter? Me:  It’s “U”, buddy Rocky: No!  I’m not a letter. Me: Ha, no, not you.  “U”.  The letter Rocky: No!  That’s not a letter Me: Not you, the Rocky.  You the letter.  “U”.  Like unicorn. Rocky: I’m not a letter! At that point I’m pretty sure he was screwing with me.  Which I appreciate.  Now we just have to figure out what to bring in for Show and Share for the letter “U”.  Would it be wrong to bring...

Zombie Niblets

By on Jun 10, 2015 in Parenting | 1 comment

It wasn’t until I had kids that I worried about the zombie apocalypse. Back in my twenties, before we had a house full of kids, I knew I’d be safe in the event a horde of zombies clawed their way out of the ground.  I think most of us think this.  But I figured, hey, I’m a pretty resourceful guy. I’m bright enough and  in pretty solid shape and, most importantly, we owned a fire place poker for whacking undead in the head.  But now, no chance.  There’s a reason you don’t see The Average American Family in a George Romero film, parents running from zombies with a kid tucked under each arm.  That’s because they’re already dead.  Long dead.  Super duper dead, their brains eaten and bones picked clean.  And I think the reason for this is best illustrated with an example. Me: “Okay guys, Veronica is sleeping so we have to be so quiet.” Lucy: “Quiet as mice” Me: “Right” Rocky comes out of the play room playing a recorder.  I shit you not, an actual recorder.  The most piercing instrument known to man.  I guess he couldn’t find the bagpipes. The concept of not attracting the attention of a horde of zombies just isn’t there with the pre-k crowd.  There’s no whispering and no inside voices.  Every single conversation would be: “Alright,” I’d say under my breath, less than a whisper. “There’s two zombies to the right. We just have to get past them and we’ll make it to the safe house.” “WHAT DADDY?” “Shhhh,” I’d whisper, emphasizing the importance with my eyes, my finger to my lips. “I’M HUNGRY I WANT A FRUITY SNACK I’M TIRED LOOK DADDY SOMEONE’S COMING HE LOOKS FUNNY” And that’s why there’s only attractive 20-somethings in the apocalyptic...

The pacifier kids

By on May 18, 2015 in Expert Advice, Life With Three, Sleep | 0 comments

Okay, fine, we’ve officially given up.  You win, Veronica (*throws hands up in the air*). Here you go, take the pacifiers.  Take aaaaallllll the pacifiers.  Because we need sleep and the other shit we were doing? That wasn’t working. But you know what I love about us?  What I think makes us brilliant?  We have a routine.  We have a routine that we stick to religiously.  At night, we have her take a cat nap, and then dinner, and then bath, and then feed, a book, and bed.  And on the days that the schedule is compromised for one reason or the other?  Leah: “Oh, shoot, I don’t know if we’ll be able to get her a bath tonight?” Me: Sigh. “Well, that’s not going to be good.” But, wait, you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER.  We don’t have the right to hem and haw over a routine when it doesn’t work in the first place.  For all we know, the best routine for her, the one that will have her sleeping in until 8 am, might be to eat dinner in the bath tub followed by a bottle shoved through the spine of a book.  Or maybe she should ride through the living room on a llama while a dozen howler monkeys throw food at her, “Come on Eileen” playing softly in the background.  We don’t know.  Nobody knows, because we are sticking to the schedule that has produced zero positive results. But anyway, schedule aside, she’s not sleeping through the night on her own.  Or really, anything close.  We’d reached the point where, every night between 10:30 and 11:30, Veronica would wake up and not go back asleep until she was laying on her mom’s chest.  That wasn’t great sleep for Mom.  And then Veronica would usually make it until about 5 or maybe 5:30 when she would start tossing around on Mom’s chest, so Dad would take her downstairs.  That wasn’t great sleep for Dad.  In the end, everyone loses.  Well, everyone except Veronica.  She was pretty happy, actually. So finally, after months of this, we gave up and started throwing pacifiers at her.  We are now putting her down with a pacifier and have sprinkled a half dozen pacifiers in her crib.  Why not more?  Because the other half dozen that we’d like to put in there are hanging out with the missing left socks.  Someday they will tear this house down and a thousand pacifiers will come spilling out.  We really tried to avoid having her be a pacifier baby.  Not because we don’t like pacifiers.  Shit, we love them.  But because having a pacifier baby means that, for a long time, we’ll be getting up at least once a night (usually twice) to replace a pacifier once she’s kicked them all off the crib.  And you have to go in there and grope around in the dark, running your hands along the crib mattress feeling for plastic (why do they make the little fuckers clear?) (no pacifiers there) Fishing around in the gap between the bars and the mattress, until finally having to drop to the floor and reach under the crib.  And by that time it’s 3 am and you’re pretty much all the way awake and have to go pee. So yeah, we wanted to avoid the pacifier, but she never found her thumb and she didn’t have an interested in a lovey, so here we are. She, like her brother and sister before her, is a pacifier kid.  But you know what?  Last night she slept in until 6am. So I guess maybe the routine does work, plus a pacifier or...

The Carnival Barkers of Campbell Street

By on May 6, 2015 in Life With Three | 0 comments

They’re multiplying and they’re getting louder.  Dear god, is it possible they’re actually getting louder? You may have heard – I think it was mentioned on this blog at some point – that we added a third kid a while back.  She’s the one that sits in the middle of the living room wearing a lopsided smile while we run around like headless chickens trying to corral the elders.  The one I’ve affectionately nicknamed “wait, we have how many kids?!”  Anyway, the last time we were at the doctor for a well-baby visit, the doctor asked if Veronica* had started babbling.  We were looking to hear the ba-ba’s and da-da’s and the ma-ma’s.  Especially the da-da’s.  Always nice to hear those.  We weren’t hearing them, but no problem.  It’s not something we would have to worry about until she turns nine months, at which point if she hadn’t progressed she’d need to be enrolled in speech therapy so as to not fall off the Ivy League track**. But, as one would expect from a future senator***, it wasn’t more than a couple weeks after her doctor’s visit that she started babbling.  It was like a switch flipped.  She went from The Happy Idiot to The Babbling Idiot Who’s Also Happy (Happy Idiot for short).  And holy shit, I think she’s louder than the others. (* see, I do know her name) (** a joke, but deadly serious in New York.  And probably Lincoln Park) (*** Christ, let’s hope not) Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s not possible.  There are two kids in our house that are so loud during bathtime that I have to turn on the bathroom fan to drown them out or I get a headache.  There’s a Rocky living in our house who was referred to as “our little alarm clock” by the neighbor TWO HOUSES DOWN.    But there’s no denying it.  She’s already louder.  And it probably should come as no surprise as her only example is a family that converses across the dinner table at a steady shout.  We’ve got two kids who will sit next to each other on a couch and scream conversations at each other. “ROCKY, LET’S BE BABY KITTIES” “OKAY” “WE’LL BE SLEEPING BABY KITTIES” You probably think baby kitties are quieter when they’re sleeping, right?  You’re so cute. So, I know, you’re probably looking at this and seeing just a house full of crazy.  But you know what I see?  I see the Von Traps of carnival barking.  The future is...