Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I love my backyard.  I told Majestad the other evening that the more time I spend back there, deep in the JUNDLE, the more I love it.  Could just sit out there reading for hours.  We really haven't had a peaceful place outside to relax since our house in Dallas.  And even that was soured by The Old Yellers, Fat Elvis and The Martini Boys.  Remind me to tell you about all that sometime.  Home Port 2.0 had lots of fine qualities, but going outdoors to watch (and hear) the abominable little Satan-worshiping thugs-in-training ooze past on the sidewalk wasn't one of them.

But la casa nueva's BATYAWD is different.  Very different.  I mean, it's nothing fancy, and we had to dismiss all the servants waving palm fronds and swatting mosquitoes, but we get by.  We're out there all the time, almost year round.  Jack climbs (small) trees, plays in the sandbox, kicks soccer balls, rides his TRAI-CEEDLE and sprays people in unflattering places with the water bottle that I use for fire control while grilling.  Sorry to everybody at the party Saturday night.  My bad.  Looked like we were running an incontinence awareness rally.

If we happen to have left the garage door up, Jack usually finds his way in there and jimmys my car door open.  I've mentioned before that Jack loves to play in the car.  Any car.  He loves to wreck all the switches and levers and buttons so that when I crank up the next morning, the thing acts like the jalopy in Christine.

A favorite activity of mine has been climbing in there with him, dropping the windows, and listening to the radio together while H.M. fixes dinner.  On Monday, in a quarter hour or so we listened to Tom Petty, The Cars, The Stones, and (his first ever, to my knowledge) Conway Twitty.  That's right, Harold Jenkins is alive and well on my watch!  But pretty soon, all the stations went and hit their (seemingly?) synchronized commercial breaks, and I switched it over to the ancient tape player.  Yes, the tape player.  Still works.  I had 1970's Let It Be by The Beatles on tap, one of my favorites.

Jack had been kind of less active than usual, but had still dug out my old yellow flashlight from the glovebox for his mic.  When we hit Paul singing the title track, Jack came over and flopped back in my lap, listening to the entire song without moving.  I did wonder if something was up.  So I asked him, "Do you feel okay?"  "YEH."  "Do you feel sick?"  "UMM... EH."  "Does anything hurt?  "EH.  NAH."  So I let it go.  The music played.

We sat, and I thought, this is absolutely perfect.  Playing records with my  son.  You know, only a few moments are the really special ones, the unscripted ones that stick with you.  There's no second take on those.  Their personal significance is difficult to explain to others.

Jack's cough brings me back from my thoughts.  I look diagonally just in time to see projectile yak explode in a torrent onto my steering wheel.  And he starts... laughing.  Dirty baby.

We clean him (and me and the car) up, and put him on the sofa under the now infamous Masai blanket.  I later see him climb up to the top of the sofa, flip the lights off, head back down to his nest and look at me.  "DOH TO SWEEP," he said.  And he did, until about 7:30 next morning.

So if you ever have the pleasure to fear for your very life and ride in my car, this story will explain the existence of two things there:  (1) the airline yak sacks and (2) the faint, yet unmistakable smell of peaches.

The next morning H.M. asks him what he did yesterday.  He starts cackling, and says, "I FROW UP ON DADDY!"

Dirty.  Rotten.  Baby.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

People Dressed As Bugs

I don't know why I'm procrastinating this week.  Usually when I get this off of writing, I post a huge photo montage and everybody's happy.  But that's problematic, since I couldn't tell you where the digital camera is.

We took Jack along with us to see Cirque du Soleil last weekend.  This was our second Cirque experience, and we saw Ovo.  And the missus LOVES her some upside down contortionist trapeze artists a zillion feet up spinning 27 plates on both ears.  I think my impression from the first show (Corteo) still holds for the second:  I can't remember being more entertained.  In the fullest sense.  Like maybe in an older sense, if you get me.  It's truly a spectacle.  And spectacles are fun.  That time, we got 2nd row, jewel-encrusted seats from the Cinnabar Mines, but this time we sat up with all the unwashed (on our own dime) in what turned out to be good seats.  So I've bought back a small amount of self respect by swinging my own boletos.  Go figure.

So Ovo is all about bugs.  And Jack likes bugs.  The Dude was pretty fidgety after the entr'acte, but ended up sitting through the whole 2.5+ hour deal.  We asked him afterwards what his favorite kind of bug-performers in the show were:  "Ants...  I an ant."

An ant?  If you mean unstoppable, dedicated, hard working and clever in achieving your (unknowable) ambitions, then yes, son, you are an ant.

Hi, I Have A Factoid
The kid is getting a bit more bold around strangers lately, and is now regularly talking to them (I hesitate to use the loaded term strangers, but when the shoe fits).  Majesty told me he cruised up to a little boy at the local lye-berry the other day and said, "Hi, I have a rock!"

His descriptions of the world around him are getting more involved, too.  Which is weird.  Most times, I just slog through my day, doing whatever I'm doing without really giving it a second thought.  You might, too.  But now, I've got my own Howard Kosel doing the rundown on my every activity.  "Daddy is driving, and Jack is riding, and Mommy is in the passenger seat!"  No one really calls shotgun "the passenger seat" around our house, but he soaked that up from somewhere.  No telling.

A Sweatshop of One
As the sentences lengthen, the attention span does, too.  H.M. got him to move four boxes of diapers, a box of wipes, and a box of Kleenex from the kitchen to our stairs with no reminding.  If you know Jack, you know that's as ridiculously impressive as riding a unicycle on some fishing line above people's heads.  If you guys haven't looked into using your progeny as illegal and scandalously cheap child labor household help, it's just brilliant.  Next up is home repair.  Is it wrong of me to slip the Home Depot "1-2-3" book in with his Curious George yawners?  Is it?  I can't wait until he hits Basic Home Wiring.

Okay, So the Wood Part Is Inedible?
Oh yeah, one last thing.  So everybody at his little school got Popsicles as a treat one day.  Uh, yeah, no nap that day...  Anyway, some of the kids had no clue how to eat the things.  His teach said everybody looked to their MacGyver expert, Jack, to show them all how.  Cannot BELIEVE my kid knows more about junk food than, well, anybody on the planet.  There are some tough, tough parents out there.  C'mon, guys, Popsicles = America.  Believe it.

I leave you with a pastoral pic of The Playgroup Posse chowing in the peaceful park.

Ciao, ragazzi.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fairy Castles, Mr. Jones, and KI Tablets

Fun With Site Meter
I have many questions today.  Not that all of them are important.  I'm also wordy.  Be ye warned.  There's no telling where this one will go.  Deep breath.

That Site Meter thingy, for anyone that has a blog, is a pretty darn interesting little timewaste tool.  Who religiously reads CJMP in Boise, ID?  Or Pine Lake, GA?  Panama City, FL?  Denver?  I know exactly zero people in all those places.  Don't get me wrong, I love (the lack of humidity in) Denver.  It's like being ON ANOTHER PLANET, humidity-wise.  Had a great time in Boise, years back.  We spent as much company dough as we realistically could at Milford's Fish House.  Anyway, welcome, all you endearingly lovable complete strangers, you.  I guess you ran dry of unhinged dad bloggers locally?  Well, heck, come right on in.

Site Meter's also handy for picking up search terms that people use to find your slice of The Internets.  I happened to post back on November 1st, 2009.  Well, Blogger's labeling convention is year first, then month, followed by day.  So the 1st of November would yield "2009-11-01."  And Blogger sometimes sticks "archive" on the end of post htmls.  You would not BELIEVE how many folks from the... er, Dar al-Islam arrive here, on this very infidel's kid's blog, via the search term "9-11-01 ARCHIVE".  Boy, that's fun to think about, isn't it?

"Hello... Newman. Dallas."
We took a quick weekend trip up to visit our ex-city to meet my parents at the Dallas Arboretum.  I think their harsh winter took a bit more of a toll on the plants this year, but all in all a good visit and a nice day for all of us to sit and talk and eat sandwiches under the budding trees.  And the fairly tale castles.  There were those.  We knew nothing of this beforehand, but the chipper vol that welcomed us pointed out to me where the fairy castles were located.  I could only reply with, "Oh excellent.  Those are for me."

After we got a demon-possessed, absolutely stark-raving-green-bananas-insane Jack to sleep for his nap, two hours late...  Okay, gotta tell you about that:  Biting himself, cackling hysterically, screaming, making animal noises, running in place, waving his arms wildly...  I was about 2 minutes from calling in an airstrike on my own position.  Majesty was ready to lovingly strangle him.  I tried to recall the 'sleeper' hold that the old-school 'rasslers did.  Anyway, after that fiasco, we went off to have dinner with an assortment of my long lost cousins.  Actually I'm probably the long lost cousin, here.  Semantics.  By dinner's end, the whole table was helping Jack endlessly circle an embarrassingly long, magnetically-connected train around the table.  One (anonymous) cousin-in-law had more fun with the trains than Jack did.  I'll try to post pics of that - I got some really incriminating ones.

Next morning we got up and had the best waitress ever at Le Peep.  High fived Jack because of his eyes, she said.  The eyes he was mercilessly using to put the moves just all over her.  She didn't stand a chance.  This gal even put in his order early... Parents:  How many times have you had waitstaff do that?  It's genius.  Sure, H.M. and I are hungry.  But if Dude's happy, then the grown folks are way happy.  Genius, I say.

Here's Money for Pizza and Potassium Iodide Tablets
Jack's very best babysitter has gone and got herself in Japan.  Right.  The earthquaked, volcanoed, sunamied, partially radioactive Japan.  Everybody remember to include not only our extremely important, selfish vested interest, but the region and people as a whole on your prayer list.

On St. Patrick's day three years ago, we found out our boy was exactly that:  a boy.  Dead serious, here - he presented himself in all of his nekkid glory on the sonogram, fully reclined, legs extended and crossed, one hand behind his head.  I asked the tech if she could see a martini in the other hand.  Sláinte, me boyo, Sláinte.

Quick Hits
  • Jack told Majesty the other day, "I have Belle's ball!"  He did, but nobody's talked about the ball being The Fuzz's, the LORD rest her, in many, many months.  Best memory ever.
  • A Long December by Counting Crows came on the truck radio the other day.  Jack immediately pipes up:  "It's like Mr. Jones!"  It's amazing us how he can pick up, even now, songs by the same artists heard in different contexts.
  • Jack tee teed in the potty the other day for the first time.  It' was more of a dribble, but hey, victories are victories.  We're not potty training, this is more of just an effort to derail him peeing everywhere as soon as he hits his bathwater.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So THAT's What the Kids Call It Nowadays

Quick one this week, sorry.  Busy.  Really busy.

The backstory is that el Capitan is very fond lately of this book that talks about Tanzania, and the Masai, and the animals there, all of that.  Just file that one away for later.

For the uninitiated out there, there comes a time where you can ask direct questions of your sprog and get fairly direct answers.   It's almost like they're human!  What book do you want to read?  What do you want to eat?  What doorstep do you want me to leave you on?  You can ask just about anything you can dream up.

Anyhow, Majesty was running a bath for Jack earlier in the week, and she had the dude pretty much peeled down all the way.  So she asks him, "Do you have anything in your diaper?"  Because, I mean, first of all, that's pretty important pre-bath information.  And as I said, you can usually get a straight answer.  She asks again.  No reply.  She asks a third time, "Jack, what do you have in your diaper?"

"A wildebeest."

Don't we all, brother.  Don't we all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mission Accomplished.

I had one, and only one, objective while Majesty and el Capitan were out of town:

Don't burn the place down.

That's reasonable.  I mean, you remember what happened last time.

Well, mission accomplished!  Ah, that's easy, you say, the whole not-burning-down-a-structure thing.  No sweat.  Well, normally, sure, I'd agree with you.  But when you put (1) a completely unsupervised white collar guy (Read:  someone that could mortally injure himself with everyday household items), (2) all the electrical switches, fan controls, and outlets Lowe's would sell me together with (3) a somewhat creatively electrified Reagan-era house, there's a very real risk of fire.  Explosions.  Fatalities.

But I did it.  Or rather, I didn't.  Burn it down, that is.  I replaced probably a third to a half of our crumbling, arcing (!) outlets and switches, and removed a ton of dimmers.  Riddle me this, Batman:  Why in tarnation would you want a dimmer over your breakfast nook?  That's kinky, bro.

And most of the (unlabeled) breakers in the breaker box now have been mapped.  Thanks to literally 60+ trips up and down my stairs.  Is that it?  Nope.  That one?  Nope.  My buddy Mike pointed out to me that it could have been a 15 minute job had I had an assistant and a few cell phones.  Yep.  But I wouldn't have gotten the unexpected residual effect.  My legs?  JACKED!

After I got sick of risking electrocution playing electrician, I ended up in the front yard taking down a tree stump with an axe.  Got more than a few horrified looks from passersby.  I am still dead tired.

H.M. took Jack over to Alabama for the week, pretty much just to raid their kiddie clothes stores, this time for larger sizes.

The fam took him to his first Mardi Gras parade (with Cousin Eli).  I'm told he had a blast, and had his first experience with cotton candy and moon pies.  It probably won't be his last.  "BIG fan!" is what his mom wrote me.  He loved the bands, too.  Tubas and drums are always popular in his world.  The day he gets his hands on a tuba is the day it all goes south.

Other points of interest from Alabama:
  • Heard that Jack got to ride in Poppa's boat on a gorgeous sunny morning, and even got a wheelbarrow ride from his great grandmother.  Yep, you read that right.
  • He slept like a baby the whole trip.  Go figure.
  • Jack can now spell:  JESUS, JACK, and BEBE.  Oh, and BIBLE.  Not bad.  Line up now to coach my son to spell your name!  Only $25.00.
  • Jack has an imaginary dog named Button.  (We're told) Button is black with white ears.  Jack will take him for a walk as often as he can using a long, thin stick as a leash.  Pretty funny.  And economical.