Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I spent the weekend at my dear friend Andrew's bachelor party...

It was lovely.

I came home Sunday evening looking forward to undoing the kind of damage that can only be done by eleven guys sharing a house and a three-day bender, but I found things at home had gotten a little "third worldish".  Evidently our drains are backed up.

It's Tuesday now and we haven't made a contribution to the local sewer since Saturday.  No dishwater, no laundry, no showers, and obviously no flushing.  You can go ahead and google something else now.

Still there?  Awesome, I'll try not to use any adjectives like "brown" or "pulpy"

This isn't a brand new problem.  There have been signs leading up to this including a visit from Roto-Rooter two months ago that actually made things worse.  Then this past Saturday the garage flooded after Erin washed some dishes, so she put all visitors on alert.  Everyone got the memo.  Unfortunately one unnamed absent-minded visitor forgot for a few minutes and suddenly things went from bad to extra "third worldish".  Cholera outbreak style.

Life doesn't stop for these kinds of things so Monday morning I went to my first day volunteering at Liam's new preschool.

I. Freakin'. Love. Preschool.

I can't wait to go back.  It was only two and a half hours but that's plenty of time to work up a good sweat.  Not to mention cover one's self with finger paint, jam, and snot from screaming children who can't sit still during circle.

After preschool I had two hours to feed the boys a dirty lunch, put their filthy bodies into their filthy beds, and get to the dentist to get the crown I had scheduled for that day.  Let me tell you, nothing kicks the stink up to the next level quicker than the kind of nervous sweat that comes from having a tooth ground into oblivion.

I came home smelling like poo on an onion.  The boys weren't much better.  Neither were our clothes, the kitchen, and really every surface of the house.  My father-in-law was in the bathroom heroically trying to solve our problem, while dry heaving.  This involved cutting our spoiled toilet out of the bathroom floor since it was our only access to the main drain and the previous owners had cemented it in.  They were pranksters those previous owners.  His efforts were unsuccessful so we faced another night of filth and binding food.  I couldn't do it though.  I managed to wash myself with a quart of water and I drank my dinner (sidenote: A spouse of mine, who asked to go unnamed, had a high fiber cereal and ended up going in a plastic bag at 5am.  That was a low point.  But what a champ, eh?) 

This morning I put in the call to get a pro on the job.  They'll be here any minute.  I'll finish this post later, hopefully with good news.

By the way the only reason I'm home today is because my parents went on vacation and they usually watch the boys Tuesday.  We tried to find someone else to watch them today but our usual backups were busy and we couldn't find anyone new in time.  This is just as well since I hate starting any professional relationship with a call to CPS.

UPDATE:  The guy found our "cleanout" buried in the side yard which was good news.  He was in and out in under an hour.  As soon as he left I stripped Liam of his filthy rags and he shouted "NAKED...can we take a shower?".  It broke my heart tell him, "I'm gonna need ten minutes alone, buddy.  Then HELL YES!!"

Here's Finn covered in three days of filth and wearing an oversized onesie from Healdsburg Cheese Shop.  Apropos since he smells like cheese.  

P.S.  While I was writing this Liam celebrated our success by taking an adult-sized dump in the adult-sized potty.  All by himself!  I rewarded him with another shower.

P.P.S.  I just remembered I scheduled my TB test today.  Also apropos.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Visit from my First Boyfriend

The other day I was at work, minding my own business, when I got a text. It was from my first boyfriend, we'll call him "Scott" because that's what I called him in this post from last October. (Not to be confused with any other Scott who has appeared in this blog in the past. Completely different Scott).

I should say here that aside from a comment or two on facebook over the years, I have not seen or been in any real contact with this person since I was 18. But to receive a text saying "hey this is Scott, I might be in San Fran later today, wanna hang out?" didn't strike me as that odd. Between school and camp and various jobs I've held over the years, I get texts or emails like this from time to time. Usually with a little more notice, but hey, I can roll with any variety of punches.

I was super busy at work that day so I didn't put too much thought into his visit aside from making some very basic arrangements. I was stressed and so as the night wore on, his texts about flight cancellations and emergency landings and lack of available flights just sort of went in one eye and out the other. I thought we'd have to put our catch-up visit on hold until the next time he had some crazy layover in the city.

But the next day he was in my car, in Santa Rosa, and we were heading to the Russian River Brewing Company. Apparently he's some sort of important beer nerd, so he was pretty excited about this. Like, palms getting sweaty and eyes growing wide and a little bit crazy the closer we got kind of excited. I told him that Paulie and I had a Beatification from RRBC that he could have. His reaction was the same as when I agreed to have sex with him the first time - " Are you serious?!" (side note: I tried the beer. I'm incredibly unqualified to do this, but here is my review anyway: Meh.)

As we made our way to the brewery, I asked when he was flying out. He didn't really have an answer for this. Instead he indicated that maybe he'd just "take a bus back," or "rent a car"...when his "money came through." I laughed and said "oh god, is this going to be one of those situations where you show up and just...never leave? Ha ha ha!" He just chuckled and said "heh heh....heh, no....." and looked off into the distance.

For all of my talk about growing up with men and having some sort of insight into the male psyche, sometimes I'm a little slow. It took me several hours and a few subtle clues to figure out that Scott was, perhaps, going through one of those midlife crises during which men look up old girlfriends. Apparently lots of people do it. In fact Paulie did it. So, okay. No big deal. I figured I could dodge whatever intentions he had fairly gracefully. I mean, we were a couple ages ago! It's not like me rejecting him now would break his-- oh, shit. I forgot. I broke that poor young man's heart.

I'd sort of blocked out that detail until we were two beers in and somehow got on the subject of, well, old stuff. He reminded me of the entire winter I thought I had scabies (ahhh, memories). I asked him to refresh my memory on how in the world my mother had ever let us go on a date when I was a mere 14 years old (by using incompetent brothers as chaperones). He said he'd recently found an old picture of me in "that black dress" I wore all the time - the one with shoulder pads that made me look like a skinny football player. Or a short Anthony Kiedis in drag. When I wondered at how he managed to still have such old photos, he said "well, you know, I mean come on - you were my first love...first heartbreak.... Gotta keep those pictures! Heh..." (looks off into distance). As I do in all situations in which I feel awkward (aka - most), I laughed too loudly. Then said "welp, time to head over to MY BOYFRIEND'S HOUSE for dinner!"

How do I get myself in to these situations?! Mike says it's because I'm terribly, terribly naive.

I braced myself for the inevitable question - whatever that would be. I wasn't sure what to expect. But as time went on, it didn't come. Huh, I thought. Maybe he's not pining away for our lost teenage love after all! Hm! Just to be sure, the next day I asked him how he was feeling about all of the big changes happening in his life. Except I worded it more like "so, do you think you're going through some sort of midlife crisis or something?" He asked me to define Midlife Crisis. "You know, you get to a certain age and start questioning all the choices you've made in your life, feeling like the grass is greener elsewhere, regretting things, deciding to try again, take more risks...things like that."

He thought about this for a beat and said "nah, that's been my whole life. My whole life has just been one long midlife crisis. I can handle all this stuff. It's just sort of overwhelming being here with" (here it came - the big, torch-carrying confession...) "Russian River being right down the street from your apartment!"

And that was the end of that.

I realized that actually he'd just gone out of his way to postpone connecting flights, put off some business, and shuttle from San Francisco to Santa Rosa then back again for one simple thing: Beer.

I hope it was worth it!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mystery Moisture

Yesterday I caught myself three different times thinking...

"yeah....that's probably pee"

Should I just start putting down newspaper?  We started off strong with the potty training but somewhere along the way things derailed.  I think Liam's just decided he's fine with the pee being on him most of the time.  In his underpants, in his bed, on his booster seat: no problem.  When we started him on undies he'd have an accident and the world would come to an end.  Now he just lets loose and moves over slightly to a dryer spot.

I never thought I'd be this cavalier about my kids' juices.  I remember before becoming a daddy I was having a conversation with a guy once who was holding his daughter and, in mid sentence, cleaned half a cup of snot off her face with the palm of his hand and wiped it on his pants.  I thought "don't gag don't gag don't gag", then I gagged a little.

Now I find these damp spots and immediately dip my fingers in them and smell the tips like some kind of Parisian Nez.  

Top notes of Cheerios with a hint of apple juice, nice.

There's just something about his spit, pee, poop, barf, snot, etc. that's not gross to me.  I actually find it less gross than my own.  But that doesn't really explain it since I've never actually poked through my own turd to try and identify it's contents.  I guess its all part of the natural/bizarre parental progression.   

Christ, I'm turning into Amanda.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh School, How I Love Thee!

Evie started Kindergarten on Monday, and holy sweet jesus in a biscuit, am I a happy mama.

I was a beautiful, emotional experience, pushing my lastborn out into the world of big kiddery and -- oh my god, who am I kidding? I JUST GOT MY LASTBORN INTO THE WORLD OF PUBLIC SCHOOL, y'all!!

Sure, when Jonah started Kindergarten I was a soppy-eyed mess. His dad almost had to rip me limb-by-limb away from my quirkily angelic firstborn. Other parents and I wept and commiserated in the hallway outside the classroom after we'd been kicked out - trying to be strong and not peek in the tiny rectangular window in the door. It was a very emotional experience. This time, however...this time....

The moment Evie's teacher said in her sing-songy way "now lift up your kissing hands and send kisses to your parents and say 'bye bye! See you after school!' I blew a kiss to my youngest child, walked out of the classroom, took a deep breath...and then I was all "I'm outta here bitches! I got shit to do!"

I went for a jog! I bought Jonah jeans that actually fit! I did a shit-ton of laundry! I did a buttload of dishes! It was ah-maaaaa-zing.

At pick up time, I noticed something different on the faces of the other parents than I'd seen at drop off. The morning of the first day of school always means exaggerated frowns while hugging and saying "oh my gosh, can you believe it?! FOURTH GRADE (in Jonah's case)!!!! Waaaaaaah!! The summer went by just tooooo fast!!" By pick up time however, everyone is ecstatic. We're all hugging and saying "holy christ! I'm cannot believe I made it though the summer! School is AWESOME! Let's go get coffee tomorrow! Woo Hoooooooo!"

All joking aside, I'm so proud of my little moody hissing hellfire-on-legs daughter. She's been scaling the fences of that school since she was old enough to scale fences - but she still felt a little scared to be an actual student there. After her first few minutes, however, she was a total pro. Like a boss.

That's just how she rolls.

Monday, August 20, 2012


First day of school!!  I dropped Liam off this morning at 9am to his first day at Healdsburg Community Nursery School.  No tears, no tantrums, just off he went headlong into the world of sandboxes and macaroni art.

It really wasn't that big of a deal for me either because of my natural stone-like stoicism and unshakable decorum...

Baaaaahahahahahahahahaha!!!  Yeah right!  Says the guy who needs to breathe into a paper bag every time he watches Finding Neverland.  EVERY TIME!  No, it really wasn't that big of a deal for me because it was only 2.5 hours long and I've had PLENTY of time to mentally prepare.  I think.

All the same I did find myself a little shell-shocked.  I didn't really feel like going home right after dropping Liam off.  I considered just staying in the car since 2.5 hours isn't an unreasonable amount of time to wait, but sitting in a van parked outside of a children's school for that long is bad practice.  Instead I went to Flying Goat Coffee where I swapped knowing looks with some other first-day drop-off parents, had some cappuccino therapy, and held Finn a little too tight.

I picked Liam up at 11:30 after showing up 15 minutes early and waiting in the car looking not creepy (shut up).  He was just as cheerful leaving school as he was being dropped off.  He's a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy I guess.  I asked him how his first day was to which he replied "peanut butter and jelly" which translates to "I had so much fun I didn't eat anything".  Five stars out of five.  I didn't really get the chance to hear anything from the teachers or the other parents but I guess no news on the first day is good news.  Other than some incriminating paint-smears and dirt-boogers it's hard to know exactly what went on but that's okay.  I'll get the full experience next Monday on MY first day of pre-school.  That's right it's a "co-op" so every other Monday, starting next week and on into the foreseeable future, I'll be educating the future of America.  I'm a little nervous about this and shared my concerns with Teacher Julie (who, by the way, is awesome).  She said not to worry about a thing because she'll coach me every step of the way.  Her first bit of advice was "don't help them do anything they can't do themselves".  Like what, hoisting them up to the top of a slide with a tricycle so they can ride it down, piling the whole class into the canoe and running through the playground with them on my back, or seeing if they could swing all the way around?  Why not?!  Either Erin warned her that I can be a bit of a Lennie, or she just read me like a book.  Either way we're all in good hands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mario Kart

Pixar movies have been our go-to over the years when we need a substitute 'parent'.  Who can parent all the time?!  Strangely though, in the past few months, every time I ask Liam "what do you want to watch?" expecting to hear "Wawee" (Wall-E), "House" (Up), or "Mater" (Cars 2) his answer has been "Aya Wii, HOO-HOO!!"

It took us a couple of days to figure out what that meant.  We figured it out but the answer left us even more puzzled.  We have a Nintendo Wii with only one video game: Mario Kart.  When you switch it on there's a little shimmer noise followed by Mario announcing the game's title "Mario Kart Wii, HOO-HOO".  Naturally Liam thinks that's what it's called.  The Mario Kart part is a little too tricky for him to say so he shortens it to "Aya".  It's now his most requested thing to watch.  It's also his answer when you ask him what book he wants to read, what he wants for dinner, and if he needs to go potty.

Aya Wii, HOO-HOO!!

Yeah, we get it.  Apparently Liam really loves watching me and Erin play Mario Kart.  It could be the action, it could be the music, or maybe it's just be the seizure-inducing lights, who knows.  The problem with us playing a video game though is it negates the beauty of having something he can stare at while we do other things.  Consequently, we rarely indulge him in this request but that doesn't curb his asking.

Aya Wii, HOO-HOO!!

Last night we thought we'd treat him.  Even though he was reading (bad parent!) I cranked up the volume from the other room and Erin filmed his reaction when I turned on the Wii (the audio is key on this):

I don't know if that's cute, funny, or disturbing but I've watched it thirty times so I thought I'd share.

Friday, August 10, 2012

No, it's fine. Really.

When people meet the boys for the first time they look at the blond hair and blue eyes and invariably say something like, "where'd they get THAT, the mailman?! Hahahahahahaha!!!".  My usual reaction is to just quietly excuse myself to the nearest bathroom for an hour or two.

I think the mailman is pretty unlikely since he's Japanese, plus but I've formed some solid theories as to who their real fathers are:

First there's Liam.  He's sandy blond, blue-eyed, shockingly handsome, brooding, and introspective.  He can be intensely calm one minute and spiral into a sobbing wailing mess the next.  He is very popular with the ladies and has an insatiable affinity for pasta, which suggests some Italian ancestry.  Therefore...

Finn's a bit trickier.  His head is yellow like his brother's but much more spherical.  He literally eats constantly, a quality that is aided by his disproportionately large mouth.  My best guess...

I figure both fathers have to be celebrities since Erin could have just about any man she wants.  One would think I would be upset knowing that they're not really my biological children, but really I'm fine with it.  You'll excuse me for a minute...I have to go use the bathroom

Monday, August 6, 2012

That Toddlin' Town

We just got back from Chicago last night.  All four of us flew in Thursday and spent four days reuniting with the Smith family.  For those who don't know my maiden name is Smith.  The Baird part is Erin's which I added on because I love her (and because I wanted to more easily google myself).  I got to hang out with cousins I hadn't seen in decades.  One thing's certain, the part of me that just gets more maniacally cheerful and rosy cheeked the more I drink is definitely Smith.  Not that my mother's side can't tie one on and have a blast but the Smiths take it to the next level.  Even the BBQ in the thunderstorm was Norman Rockwell-esque.

The first night we took over a deep-dish pizza place and I immediately noticed that all the work I'd put into teaching my kids the most basic table manners was going to quickly be undone, hopefully not for good.  All of my cousins have kids around Liam and Finn's age.  It took about ten seconds for the new generation to figure out that they outnumber us and have a hell of a lot more energy.  After that came their epiphany that sitting in a chair next to your parent and eating was absurd when you could be crawling under said table with your new best friends or tearing down aisles and up and down stair wells.  We tipped well.

Since I'd given in so quickly, the next two days were spent taking the kids around Chicago to places where they were free to run full speed at all times.  Fortunately Chicago has lots of that.  The best was the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  It's basically a giant puddle that has these two fifty-foot towers displaying vaguely ethnic faces that spit water on children every ten minutes or so.  This was perfect since it was 95 degrees and 90% humidity.  That same park has what the brochures call The Cloud Gate Sculpture which is stupid because everyone else calls it "The Bean".  They call it this because it's a giant metal bean.  I got a few good pics of the family around and under the bean but when I stood back for a longer shot, so I could get a picture of its distorted reflection of the Chicago skyline, I nearly lost consciousness from fluid loss.  I swear it was 20 degrees hotter near the bean so we went back to getting spit on by giant immigrants.

The highlight was the aforementioned BBQ in a thunderstorm.  My cousin Diana and her husband Rick hosted the whole family and it was awesome.  There was BBQ, thunder, lightning, bagpipes, an entire floor for kids, lots of adult beverages, and lots of very happy rosy-cheeked Smiths.  Liam summed it up best with the Shakespearean tragedy he put on when we told him it was time to leave their house.  He upstaged the thunderstorm easily.

So now we're back home.  I'm grateful for such a great family but right now I'm extra grateful for a full day off before going back to work.  I've got a jet-lagged infant to go tend to so here are just a few pictures:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kid Games

We all have one - a friend who has no kids and therefore is sooooo much more creative and patient with our children than we could ever hope to be. This person is also way more fun than we are. This is the friend that you wait to tell your kids is visiting, so you can lord it over them as bribery or potential punishment. "Welllll, uncle Nayt was going to visit this weekend, but I might need to call him and tell him not to come if you don't clean your room...." or "if you hit your sister one more time I'm calling uncle Nayt and telling him to cancel his flight! No Nayt for you!" 

I swear at one point in my life I practiced positive, non-manipulative discipline. I really did. 

Nayt was kind enough to type up some of his most tried-and-true kid games. I have seen them all in action, and have been begged to play them on many occasions but, as I've said, I don't have the patience for more than about 4 minutes total of any one of these.*

  • The Gripper - I make a mouth with my hand called The Gripper. If the kid comes close, I grip his/her wrist. The Gripper only lets go if the kid gives him something else to grip. Often the kid will hand one object after another to The Gripper who drops one object for the next. Sometimes the gripper refuses an object. Sometimes the gripper sniffs the object. They love it when the gripper furiously shakes an object.  
  • Kid Jail - I tell them I'm putting them in jail and narrate each step of the way: "First I grab their wrists (while standing behind them), then I cross them over their body, then tuck their hands under their arms. Then they're in Kid Jail and they can NEVER BREAK OUT." Then I let them twist their wrists out of it (but not too easily) and I act shocked and say no one's ever broken out before and they are delighted. Sometimes they will reverse it and put me in Adult Jail and I act really mad that I can't break free. (I think they love the affection in this game)
  • Huge Reaction - Have a huge reaction to anything they do. Once, every time my friend's daughter hiccupped,  I acted completely startled, and more startled with each hiccup until I was scrunched up in the corner in fear. It made her laugh until tears came out.  
    Nayt with some kid
  • Please Don't Eat That - Act totally grossed out that the kid is eating whatever food. Maybe say I'm disgusted by "human food". This will make them finish their plate every time. (Amanda's Side Note: My kids LOVE this game and yes, always clean their plates) Once I incorporated fake phone calls to my superviser "Yeah, he's doing it again. He took another bite. I know, it's disgusting. I tried, he won't stop. EWW he just took another bite. I'll call you back, I have to barf."  
  • Push the button - Pretend there's a button on my chest, or hand, or whatever that makes me go to sleep and wake up. Sometimes when I wake up I repeat a robot startup message, or say "I don't know what happened, one minute I was awake and then..." and they've usually pushed the button again.
  • Mime Car Controls - Pretend invisible things control the car: 1) Ask if they want to see my motorcycle trick and mime revving a motocycle handle while revving the gas (while in neutral) 2) Pretend there are several strings hanging from the ceiling and when I pull each one it controls a different feature of the car like the gas and brake etc. After modeling it, let the kid conrtol the strings. Have to exaggerate the gas and brake slightly for the effect to seem real. 3) Use Jedi-like hand gestures towards to the road ahead or the next lane to change lanes or speed up. I still don't have a very good one for stopping - so far I just slowly close my fist while slightly lowering it.
  • Let Me See Your Brain -When they do something smart, I ask to see their brain. I hold their head and put my eye right up to their ear and say "Yep, I can see your brain, you are definitely smart." 

  • I have to add one more, the lazy-man's kid game, which I play constantly with my own kids.

    * Tickle Monster - Hold your hands in a tickle-claw up in front of you and make your eyes very wide while saying "Tickle Monster" in a very Frankenstein-esque fashion. Actually slowly walking toward them and eventually catching them (because they always lay down on the floor or 'hide' on their bed) is optional. Personally I like to just strike the pose from time to time, maybe shift forward in my chair an inch or so, which always sends them screaming. 

    Good times. Now go forth and play! 

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    My New Roomie

    I've been struck this week with a mysterious sneezy tonsil swelling grossness that seemingly no amount of booze will cure.  The boys are also afflicted but Erin so far seems to be spared...well, not entirely.

    Within the first two minutes of sleep every night this week I get that gentle request from the other side of the bed that I "do something about my snoring".  I appreciate her patience but after spending so many years together I can read the subtext loud and clear: Get the fuck out of earshot or I swear to god I will cut you, CUT YOU!!

    I leave because I'm a gentleman and truly scared of her.  My problem is I don't really know where to go.  I have a delicate frame so the couch isn't a great option.  We have an extra bed in what used to be the 'guest room' but that became Liam's room once we upgraded to a cuter child.

    The first night I tried to creep super stealth ninja style to the extra bed without waking Liam.  I succeeded but as soon as I fell asleep my presence was noticed.  I'm not sure which end announced my arrival since it was taco night but I'm pretty sure it was my snoring head.  I woke in a state of total confusion with his overly excited big dopey grin saying "HI DADDEEE!" to my open eye.  I went and slept on the couch.  Sort of.

    The next night I managed to creep again to the bed without waking him and somehow got a full night's uninterrupted sleep.  This was probably due to his being totally exhausted having not slept at all the night before after the excitement of finding me in the room.

    The third night began as the other two had but before I could fall asleep I was discovered.  I heard his little feet plod over to the bedside and he looked at me shyly.  I thought I'd try the commanding father tactic so I told him "No, you go BACK TO YOUR BED".  The look of heartbreak he gave me will haunt me to my dying day.  He started to actually go back to bed but I caught him half way so I could start my penance immediately.  I decided that not only would he be sharing the bed with me but we were going to do it right.  I gathered all his toys, blankets, and pillows and set the whole bed up just like it was his own.  Surprisingly this was the key to him actually going to sleep.  Who knew?!

    It was a great night too.  He and I tossed and turned a little but not so much that it was an issue.  He's more into cuddling than Erin and doesn't seem to mind my snoring, so I guess that's it.  Erin, if you're reading this, we've had a great run but it's just you and the cats from here on out.  Godspeed.