Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fair Addiction

There is this place, turn right past the McDonald's and drive under I-5, where you can first see the tall oblong mast of the Zipper and the swinging cars on the Ferris Wheel. You catch your first whiff of corndog and steer manure and keg beer and know, undoubtedly, that it's fair time. I'd forgotten about it, or forgotten about the feeling that I used to get at that place, even though I've driven past this spot a thousand times, until last Thursday when I took Dylan to the fair.

It was love at first sight. I heard her squeal, and when I checked the mirror I saw her absolutely ecstatic expression. I'm sure she had no idea what she was seeing, exactly, that was so thrilling. After all, she'd never ridden the Zipper or the Ferris Wheel, but carnival rides are like mall Santas, they ooze hope, excitement, promise, and pleasure.

We spent the next three days trying to decide if we wanted to ride the carousel horses just one more time, or take a bold step and try out the Dizzy Dragons. The final count was carousel horses - 11, Dizzy Dragons - 1. We tried other rides, too. Pink Pig Airplane was a second place favorite, just ahead of Pink Car and Pink Truck. When I'd ask what she wanted to ride next, "Pink," was always the first reply until I could narrow it down.
When we reached a fever pitch with the carnival, and I feared that Dylan would force me to unbolt a carousel horse and kidnap a carnie so she'd have them with her forever and ever and ever, we'd stop for a healthy snack of cotton candy, corndogs, and mini-donuts. Fortunately, Dylan was enamored by more than just the bells and lights of the carnival. She also got to see all of her friends. She'd run off with them and I'd suddenly have a couple of minutes to dash over to the beer garden.

I took Dylan to the "Extremely Amped Motocross Show," which was guys on dirt bikes doing crazy X-Games style jumps and a band playing Journey covers with a lead singer who dressed like, as Dylan put it, Barbie. Honestly, I expected her to get bored and anticipated leaving five minutes into it. Not so. Dylan loved the whine of the bikes and after every jump (even if they were mili-seconds apart) she'd tap her cousin Roxy on the shoulder and yell, "That was soooo cool!"
Every evening, the only way we could get Dylan to leave without dragging her and leaving little claw ma rks down the midway, was to promise that we'd be back. But then Sunday rolled around. We rode rides to the point of exhaustion, missed her nap, and, sadly, had to break the news that we had to go. It was hot, we'd just spent our last twenty dollar bill on corndogs and Dippin' Dots, and needed to go home and get some rest. Dylan cried, real tears, all the way to the car. "I want Fair," she sobbed. "Next year," we promised as we pulled out of the parking lot and crossed over that place, just past the I-5 overpass where we couldn't see it anymore, not even the Ferris Wheel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Say Cheese!

Grady just celebrated his big one-month birthday with a grande milk, a soy-formula fart, and a twenty-two hour nap. Man, that kid can party. During this first month, Regina worked tirelessly to get our little man on "the schedule." As far as I can tell, "the schedule" involves feeding, burping, diaper changes, and naps. It seems there are some subtleties to "the schedule" that I am missing. I sense the undercurrents of some sort of rigid plan, but I cannot figure out of what, exactly, the plan consists.

Whatever Regina's doing, she's doing it well, because Grady (usually) only wakes once during the night to be fed, can already roll over, and can down a big bottle of formula without barfing all over himself. I know this because my wife tracks his routines on a little notepad we keep by the microwave. It reads something like this: 9:45 PM, 6.5 oz. formula, stretches, change pee/poo. I add to it in my distinct penmanship to make it seem like I'm doing a lot to help out with "the schedule." I include things like: 2:00 AM, 32 oz. Mt. Dew, 75 push-ups, toilet trained. 4:30 PM, 1st shave, Japanese lessons,
rugby practice. 5:00 AM, finished training every unbroke horse on the ranch, ate a steak.

I'm probably a little subjective, but Grady's a pretty handsome little guy. He really resembled Dylan during his first few days, but now he's growing into something very different. He has finer features, lighter eyes, and a stronger chin. And while these features look beautiful in person, Grady isn't the most photogenic kid in the world. Sure, Regina has snapped some great shots of him, but we're used to Dylan, who, even on accident, always takes a great picture.

Grady is a pretty good sleeper. Even when he's awake, he looks like he just might drift off at any moment. It's a great quality, and a gift, especially with a sister who has an abundance of energy, but sleepiness doesn't always translate well to film (or pixels). With his eyes half-shut, Grady comes off looking like an extra on the Sopranos. He just needs a polyester track suit and a few gold chains. I expect every caption beneath his pictures to read, "Gimme the @!&% macaroni or I'll breaka your legs."

Case in point, our friend, Amber, who is a great photographer, came over and wanted to snap some shots of the the two of us. I'd just come in from work, so my dirty hands juxtaposed with the clean baby had the potential for some decent pictures. She took quite a few pictures and do you know how many turned out? One. And it was of Grady's feet. It seems that our little guy got at least one trait from his old man, the ability to wreck any photograph.

We're okay with it; he's a handsome devil and gets cuter by the day. We figure that he'll be as good looking in pictures as his sister soon enough (thank God for Regina's good genes). Until then, we'll keep snapping shots of our beautiful little Goomba who will be half-asleep, daydreaming about macaroni and milk.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hanna, Party of Four

It's amazing what we've forgotten about baby-raising in just two years. "We?" Regina asks, one eyebrow raised. "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?" Okay, it's amazing what I'VE forgotten, but, still, it's pretty amazing. I consider myself a nearly-average dad, but I'm embarrassed at my baby ineptitude -- especially since I've already gone through the sleepless nights, streams of poo, bottle warming, milk barfs, impossible toy-assembly, navel swabs, weird rashes, the car seat weight, awkward comments from strangers, and all of the other little grunts and oddities that come with babies. You'd think Grady was our first child and I was a sixteen year old father.

Grady brings some new things, too. Pee fountains. Like the ol' pull my finger trick, they get me every time. Regina reminds me to put the little pee-pee tee-pee over his boy-parts to prevent golden showers, but I get lazy. I also get lazy about putting the new diaper beneath the old one I'm changing, but that's just an issue I'll have to work out on my own. And, yes, things get messy. We met a hippie couple who were doing the whole No-Diaper thing with their newborn. I guess when you live in the forest, toilet training takes on a whole new meaning, but the mother confided in us that it could get pretty gross. I probably shouldn't use them as the benchmark in bodily function cleanliness, but I bring them and their messy baby up when Regina asks why I'm cleaning off the changing table again.

Grady also has Metatarsus Adductus. If you just met him, you'd think that was latin for extraordinarily handsome, wickedly smart, and well-hung. And while these attributes may be true, it's not what Metatarsus Adductus means. Simply put, he has little bean feet, probably from cozying them together in a tight womb. They will straighten on their own, but we help the process along with little stretches. Our doctor told us he'll probably grow up with a foot fetish (he told us twice, so we're taking it seriously). We're thinking the slight turn-in on his feet will make him a fast runner and there will, finally, be a fast Hanna.

Grady may have the foot-structure advantage, but Dylan will probably claim the Fastest Hanna title first. She can not walk. You're thinking, she's two, right? Shouldn't she? And, yes, she should, but Dylan thinks walking is for the old and infirm. Dylan runs. Everywhere. Barefooted, in flip-flops, cowboy boots, irrigation boots, sneakers, it doesn't matter; she is Charlie-Hustle around the yard. It's fun, and a scary, to watch because Chowder, her puppy, is usually running around -- or through -- her legs.

Very quickly we are learning that two young children can cause an energy vacuum, but, amazingly, with all of the craziness, we've also figured out that the little boogers also revive us. So, we'll keep watching Dylan do laps around the yard, training Grady to be World's Fastest Hanna, and he'll keep peeing on me (Doh! Not again!), and Regina will remain the voice of reason throughout it all, and the Eastside Gang will just keep on truckin'.