Friday, April 16, 2010

Baseball and Beer

I got a call from the school nurse today saying that my oldest son wasn't feeling well, and could I come to get him. He's been a little sick the last couple of days. On the ride home I told him I bought Pirates tickets for Sunday's game near where his best friend's family will be sitting. That cheered him up. He asked if he could get something to eat and drink at the game. I told him we would be doing a little pre-game tailgating, but I joked that I'd buy him a beer at the game.

"Dad! I can't have beer until I'm like 20 or something," he said.

"Well actually, 21. That's just about 14 years from now. When you're 21 I'll buy you a beer at the ballgame."

"Well", he said, "I might just want some ice cream then!" he laughed.

"It's a deal!" Then I said, "Do you think you'll still want to go to baseball games with me when you're 21?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe you'll say 'Sorry dad, I can't go to the game. My girlfriend wants to go dancing' or 'She says there's a sale on duvets at Pottery Barn'."

"Nooooooo!" he screamed.

"Or maybe you'll say, 'Can't go dad, I'm hanging out with my friends'."

He said, "No dad, I'll always want to go to baseball games with you. Why would I ever want to do anything else?"

I hope that in June of 2024, he and I will be sitting together in PNC Park, and I will buy him that beer... or ice cream.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wakey-wakey, puny human!

This morning, Drew was up early. He's always up early. Every night around 4 A.M. we hear, "Is it daytime yet?" from what sounds like a disembodied voice in our room. No it's just Drew either in a sleeping bag on the floor next to our bed or in our bed (which means kicking me repeatedly until I move to where I have about 14 inches of our King Size bed to myself). As long as he's comfortable. Right.

Lately, he's been taking great joy in waking up Clay, who still gets his 11 hours in most nights and is usually only awoken with promises of french toast sticks, or threats of buckets of cold water being poured on him. The boy like his sleep; except of course at bedtime.

So this morning I hear "I'm Optimus Prime!" coming from Clay's room. I go in to find Drew in his Transformed state, shaking his brother's bed with the menacing, electronically processed voice of a 3 year old screaming, "I'm Optimus Prime! Wakey-wakey Clay!"

For a moment, in the half-darkness, Clay wasn't sure what was going on. Then he let out a little yelp and threw the covers back over his head. After a second, he realized what was going on and got up and started telling Drew that this was not funny.

Maybe tomorrow, I make sure Drew finds the Incredible Hulk Smash Hands before he goes in to wake Clay. Wake up, puny human!

UPDATE: He came into our bedroom this morning as a pajamaed Darth Vader to wake us up. And so it goes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

For the first time since Clay was one, we will be waking up in our own house on Christmas morning. Clay doesn't remember that and Drew wasn't even thought of, so for all practical purposes, this is our first Christmas at home. When I was a kid, we went to my Baba and Gigi's (grandparent's) until I was about 6 or 7. That was only in Carnegie, so just a 20 minute trip from home. I remember when I was 6 sleeping on their couch, being awoken by a noise. I opened my eyes and I saw someone coming out of the basement door. It was Sviate' Nikolai (St. Nicholas; we Ukrainians were visited by Santa dressed in his golden bishop's robes, mitre and staff). I saw his beard, I saw his golden robes. I shut my eyes, because I was excited and terrified at the same time. If he knew I was awake, would he leave without leaving presents for me, my brother and cousin? I heard hushed whispers in Ukrainian. I think I heard my Uncle John. Did he help Sviate Nikolai?

Before i knew it it was morning and I was awake. I heard my mom, aunt and baba in the kitchen. I saw the presents under the small tree in the tiny dining room. He was there and he didn't know I was awake. That year, I can still remember some of my presents; my first Mickey Mouse wrist watch, which I think still runs; Major Matt Mason, Astronaut along with his lunar jet pack (which needed 20 feet of black thread which was tangled beyond repair in about 10 minutes); and my Scooby Doo movie projector, which only showed cartoon stills on the wall.

The presents weren't important. I will always remember that Christmas. I can picture all of us sitting around my grandparents' tiny table in that tiny dining room for Sviate' Vecher (Christmas Eve Holy Supper). I remember the yellow bowl full of pierogies, I remember those who were there who are gone; Baba, Gigi, Marisha, Marish-Mama. I remember listening to everyone sing Ukrainian carols; but most of all I will always remember that I did see St. Nicholas. Years later, I was told, it was probably my older brother, my dad or my uncle with a yellow coat on. But I know that he was there in the little house on Logan Street on Christmas Eve 1969.

Tonight 40 years later, Clay and Drew will have Sviate' Vecher with their Baba and Gigi, cousins and family. Tonight they will await Santa sleeping in their own beds. Maybe one of them will hear a noise in the night or wake up and see a figure walking through the house with presents. Maybe they'll tell us they saw or heard Santa. Maybe they'll keep it secret. But the best present I'll ever have is 30 or 40 years from now, them telling their children about that first Christmas at home in Pittsburgh; when Santa came and they believed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Steeler Kitty

This morning I took the boys to the doctor's office to get their second H1N1 shot. Since this was our second shot, I knew Clay was nervous about it. OK, nervous is not the right term. Maybe TOTAL FREAKOUT MODE would be more like it. He doesn't like shots; as he told me about 500 times today before during and after the shot. Drew on the other hand doesn't care. He looks at the nurse all, "Yea, c'mon, gimme your best shot. I'm not gonna give you the benefit of seeing me cry, lady. What that was it?!?! Pffft! I'm outta here!"

This must be more common that older siblings freak out more. Across from us a little girl, not more than three was waiting for her shot with her two older brothers. She got her shot with out a peep. But big brothers reacted from "That really hurt" to "OH MY GOD, I THINK THEY USED A JACKHAMMER TO PUT THAT THING IN!" The little girl looked at her brothers and at Clay and I could hear her saying to herself, "Men!" Then she looked at Drew and and probably thought, "Dude, call me when you need a prom date."

I calmed Clay down enough to get him out of the exam room without making the people in the waiting room think Civil War surgeons were back there amputating limbs off of first graders. As we passed the "sticker bin" which usually makes all things better, I noticed all that were left were pink stickers with cute kitties on them. The nurse said, "Wait, I have some dinosaur stickers here." Clay took a dino sticker and plastered it on his rugby shirt. Drew pushed the dino sticker back, took a pink sticker, slapped it right on the "7" on the front of his Ben Roethlisberger Steeler shirt, looked up at me with a smile on his face and shouted, "STEELER KITTY!" Thankfully "Steeler Kitty" was gone by the time I picked him up from pre-school. Maybe one of the girls swiped it from him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Pirates of the Allegheny

Today is the eve of the G-20 Summit here in Pittsburgh. It's also the eve of my 46th birthday. We're also fast approaching the end of the monumental record breaking 17th straight losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. So to protesters and delegates alike, get the hell out of my town as quickly as you can and don't leave your crap laying around; Pittsburgh Pirates, you suck and you break my 6 year old's heart every day; and happy birthday to me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Guess They're More "Cat" People

The other day I noticed there was a large rabbit sitting in the street in front of our house. I didn't think much of it until I came back from dropping the kids off at school and it was still there. I went over to it, got about 5 feet away and it hissed at me. It's neck and head was moving but the rest of the body was lying still. Well, I don't need to be hissed at twice; and I remember the killer rabbit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Spamalot", so I bravely shouted, "Run Away!!!" and ran inside.

After a few minutes, I started feeling guilty because, after all, we just had a visit from this guy's cousin, the Easter Bunny, last week. So I looked out side and I saw a couple of crows approaching the rabbit. By the time I got to the door, they had started pecking at him. The sound of the door scared them away. I'm not a huge fan of birds in the first place, but I really hate crows so I thought I'd better do something.

I called the local animal shelter; got a recording. I called the Humane Society; I got the number for a company that would come and remove the rabbit on my dime. No thanks. So then I called the local police and explained the situation. I turned the police scanner on and heard the dispatcher make her call. Somehow it got turned into a "rabid raccoon" call. After about 5 minutes the officer pulled up.

I explained to him that it was a rabbit and not a raccoon. He looked at it and said that there have been a couple of reports of rabid raccoons that he'd "taken care of". He got out his snare and hooked the rabbit. It immediately freaked out and let out a squeal like a hungry newborn baby. Then he said, "Well, I have to shoot it".

"OK", I said stupidly, "Where?"



The officer said, "Well is there a place to do it in the back yard?"


"Do you want to bury it?"

"What?!? No! Hell no! We just got a new dog. I don't want him getting into that. The garbage truck is coming this morning. Can we put it in the trash?" I asked.

"Sure, you get a bag and I'll meet you in the back", the officer said.

I went inside and retrieved a garbage bag and got out to the backyard just in time to see the officer unholster his weapon and BAM! He brought the corpse, still in the snare, over and we shoved it in the bag. Meanwhile I notice many of our neighbors peeking out the doors to see what the hell was going on. I shot them a smile and a little wave. They, mostly, shut their doors or blinds.

It wasn't until later, after the rabbit was safely in his 45 gallon Rubbermaid sarcophagus, that I thought what must the neighbors be thinking; seeing me standing there with with a cop, the smell of gunpowder wafting through the air, shoving a bloody animal (which was about the size of our new dog) into the trash.

"Well, so much for their new dog." "Didn't even make it a week." "I thought you could take them back to the shelter." "Let's never ask them to watch OUR dog." "Maybe they're more 'cat' people."

Lewis was at the vets for the day. I think a couple of our neighbors were relieved to see him come home.