Saturday, August 29, 2009

Who the HELL gave David a hammer?

If you look closely and you're not blind, you will see that there are actually two boxes. The one on top is empty. The one on the bottom is not. David was beating the crap out of the top box with a meat tenderizer. Enough foreshadowing for you?

Yes, Destructo Dave proved his namesake yet again. After finishing his cute little bashing frenzy on the first box, unsupervised Davey went completely ballistic on the second one. For the memory-challenged readers, the second box was the one with the undented IKEA furniture anxiously waiting to be built before some kid with a meat hammer discovered it. Honey, why is David giggling and who gave him a weapon?

But I get ahead of myself. Before the Tale of Two Boxes came the story of the kindergarten Prince and his pyjama sunrise with la Principessa.

Chiara and Peter woke up this morning and played cards. Cute - makes you want to gag, but cute. Alessio woke up and there was no getting that boy's stomach away from the table. Uh, how do you say 'tapeworm' in Italian? David woke up with bed-head and probably just sat there thinking 'hey, what could I destroy with a meat hammer if Mama and Papa were stupid enough to let me have one?'

Breakfast made Mama's brain sleepy enough to think that she could lay down for a five minute snooze.

It's not surprising that David was the one who volunteered to jump on Mama's head and yank her ear to confirm what a stupid idea that was. What is alarming, though, is the tiny blur in the background. Tom had found a stick with a ball on the end of it and for some reason began re-enacting the Korean convenience store scene from 'Falling Down' all over Mama's legs. In a tag-team match, I think David would pick Tom.

After a good Mama-lashing, nothing hits the spot more than five minutes in the cooler.

Okay, I am not even going to try and explain this one. I can tell you, though, that I will not be eating any of the cold cuts.

Tom's freaky eating habits were not restricted to the privacy of our own home. At IKEA, Tommy Tarzan publicly wowed the shopping world with his new banana trick.

When Tom does stupid things like this, three things normally follow. First, David cracks up. I mean he really loses it; eye-tearing, gut-clutching, snot-blowing, down-on-the-floor full-on hysterical outburst. Second, Papa cracks up, pretty much in the same fashion and order, only I tend to add a certain degree of flatulence to the scene. Third, Angie turns into a mean version of Puff and starts hyperventilating fire on me. My only defensive response was that I was laughing at the fact that David was laughing and not necessarily at Tom. Ow, fire burns.

Peter was feeling a burn of different sorts after mistakenly getting within arm's reach of David's scratching hand.

We had all three boys in one oversized IKEA shopping cart. It wasn't oversized enough, though. At one point, David marked out his own personal space by scratching a prison tattoo on Peter's chest. Peter of course screamed like a little girl for twenty minutes. After that, though, he seemed quite proud of his 'flesh wound' and even forced me to take a picture of it. Here you go, Rambo.

After searing Peter's gash with a blow torch, we decided to treat the wounded to ice-cream. Tom loved the ice-cream, but did not comprehend nor did he accept the simple fact that when you devour the entire cone in three seconds flat, there is no more ice-cream.

It was at this point that wise Papa called an end to Mama's shop-a-thon and rounded up the Zoo Crew for a short ride home and a long bath to bed. At least, that was my idea.

My Bath, Bed and Beyond plan had several minor faults in it. The first being that David's leg was in a freakin' cast. I didn't care, though. The boy stunk. Bad. Plus, I had Saran Wrap and duct tape and was fully willing to ignore the doctor's advice to not give him a bath. What the hell does he know anyway - he's just a doctor.

Even David was cracking up as I wrapped him up.

'Papa, this no work, okay? I go not in the bath.'

'Trust me; I know what I'm doing. I broke my arm once and I bathed.'

The funny thing is, a broken arm that is in a cast wrapped in Saran Wrap and duct tape doesn't get nearly as wet as other appendages that actually get completely submerged in water. Like feet.

I think we are trying to break (get it?) a new record for how many times a cast can be reset before it heals. The day after David broke his foot, it itched. This resulted in Angie walking into his bedroom to find that he had 'scratched' his cast into crumbles. Cast number two came off several days later when the doctor had to confirm that his foot was still broken. It was. Brilliant. Thanks, Doc. Cast number four was actually the end result of my attempt at de-stinkafying Dirty Dave.

He smelled great, but the doctor took one look at my make-shift cast after destroying cast number three and began asking a bunch of really stupid questions.

'Is that duct tape?'


'What is that wrapped around? Did you use a ... is that a kitchen towel?'


'You didn't try giving him a bath, did you?'


I wish the Hippocratic Oath also included a clause that prevented doctors from making you feel like an ass. Although this would probably prevent Angie from ever entering the medical field, and since we need to keep our options open, I kept my mouth shut.

Meanwhile, back at the Zoo, the animals were getting restless. To try and make them more restful, we invited Daniel over for what turned out to be a childish card game. Just my style.

The game was progressing along nicely when Peter decided to amaze Daniel with his ability to fart from his armpit. I'm sorry, I don't care how old I get - that shit is funny. I cracked up and looked over at Angie, who was frowning. Then she huffed and glared at me again. This honestly made me laugh harder and then she began really scowling in my general direction. When we finally made eye contact, she quickly darted her eyes to the sofa. Enough foreshadowing for you?
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I played Queen cards with Daniel.
David: When we played that with the cards with Daniel.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When Davey scratch me.
David: When I cried 'cause I heared not when you tell me stop and I in trouble.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with you and Mama and Tom and Davey surprise maker.
David: To play Mama and Baby, where Peter is the baby 'cause he is.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Destructo Dave self-destructs

Yes, I always knew it was only a matter of time before David would break a leg. No, I never thought it would be his own. Yes, Dave turned his destructive powers on his foot while jumping in the pool of plastic balls at the indoor playground. No, he did not cry. Yes, he kept insisting that it was fine and began crawling around the playground. No, his foot was not fine; it looked like his ankle had swallowed a donut. Yes, we took him to the emergency room. No, it was not the first time. Yes, I can only hope it will not be the last.

David was actually having a ball at the clinic. As soon as the doctor came in, David began asking about his lollipop. Next he demanded a red cast, okay? The doctor wisely chose my preferred way of dealing with David's demands and just ignored him.

After the doctor set the cast, he left the nurses to deal with David's wishes. They caved in like amateurs, though, and David raked in a lollipop, two bags of Gummi bears, and some sugarless gum. One of the nurses even picked up David and gave him a sugarfull hug. She had what I would call 'healthy' eyes. David looked at her, though, and started shouting 'bye-bye, frog-eyes!' Just when you thought those ovacles couldn't get any bigger, her eyes bulged and she looked like she was going to break his remaining healthy leg. Whoa, calm down, froggy. We grabbed the fearless gimp before he started laughing at the nice bug-eyed lady and split.

This all happened on a Friday - just in time for the weekend. Why can't shit like this just happen on a Monday like it's supposed to? Being wise beyond my years, I immediately knew that we were in deep trouble. We normally tend to plan the weekend full of things that make our kids run, jump, swim, wrestle - whatever burns the most energy. With David being one leg short of a good energy burn, we were up shit creek without a speedboat. A what?

Roger that, sailor. Speedboats don't have gas pedals; they have gas handles, which were at full throttle for the entire time. I was pretty sure the boys were having a good time, but I asked Peter just to be sure.

As you can see, he hated it. So did David, who was stuck in the back with me waiting for his turn. As he waited, I explained to my first mate, Eisi, that my camera was full. I told him that it was strange, since I had only taken 15 or 20 pictures and that it might have something to do with the format I had chosen.

'Format? I can fix that.'

'Okay, cool. Here you go.'

After a few minutes, Eisi handed back the camera and proudly informed me that it worked. I took a picture and sure enough, it had enough memory. Thanks, man. After a few more snapshots, I wanted to see how they turned out and realised that all of my previous pictures were gone.

' exactly did you fix the problem?'

'You said it was a problem with the formatting, so I formatted it.'

'You realize that formatting means you delete everything, right?'

'Oh, that explains the pop-up warning that all files would be deleted. It worked, though, didn't it?'

I went on to explain to Eisi how he had deleted my precious memories from the previous week, including the actual pictures of David at his first visit to the doctor's office. The snapshot above was actually taken the next week, when Destructo Dave had completely destroyed his first cast by picking at it and had to have a new one put on. It's a good thing I am always so far behind on my blogging.

So anyway, back to David waiting for his turn. He was rubbing his hands together, which told me he was plotting an evil plan.

Curiosity got the better of me so I swapped Peter for David just to witness the actualization of his evil thoughts. With David at the helm, I quickly understood his diabolical laughter.

To avoid a swan-harassment lawsuit, Papa came to the rescue with a sharp 180 and the bright idea to go ashore for ice-cream instead.

Port call was great, but no self-respecting sailor goes ashore without getting a tattoo or having a beer. I was too lazy to get a tat, so I opted for the brew. As luck would have it, we ran into an overly self-respecting bartender and a guy who was peacefully born lazy.

I love the picture to the left of me, because Johnny Mac, Peter and David are all completely focused on the beers. Never too young for a Guinness. I love the picture to the right of me because Damo was showing the boys the inside of his two fingers and not the outside. Peace, brother.

For those non-European American types that don't know, the outside finger display is the Irish equivalent of
giving the bird. In case you need a visual:

We took Johnny's hand-advice and walked off. Somehow, we ended up back down by the river. At least we weren't in a van.

Clooney was great in the water. Excellent jumping, great posture, really big splash, and superb strokes, even if the paddle was his only doggie style. He had everything going for him until he went for the dismount. As much as he tried, he just couldn't make the last hurdle; at least his trainer yanked him out of trouble, though.

The doggie Olympics didn't stop there, though. Peter joined in with his Olympic stickus throwing that made the crowds go wild.

Okay, the crowd was only one and David was only watching because the poor guy could not move.

I'm always a sucker for the immobile, so I scooped up the poor kid and casted our bond with a photograph.

Yes, the view was that beautiful, even without the kid I was holding. No, I didn't Photoshop my biceps - they really are that huge and hairy. Yes, I love this picture. No, I don't want my destructive David to ever grow up. Yes, I loved holding him in my arms. No, it wasn't the first time. Yes, I can only hope that it will not be the last.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we go to motorboats.
David: When we go by Sarah and make that kuchen.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When we couldn't play football on the Neckar.
David: When I that on home and Peter make me off.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play dinosaurs.
David: To play with Tom, but only when he cry not.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Whackos

Some weekends are relaxing and quiet. Others are overcast with whiskey-tasting over-hangs and not-so-silent kids who have lost their marbles. This weekend was an all-inclusive trip to the Whacko ranch.

It started out with a relaxing and quiet dinosaur dig.

This nice block of cement was Peter's leftover birthday gift from Brian. Peter's been dying to crack at it since April, but wise Papa avoided this with thoughtful comments like 'you're not strong enough' and 'you're just going to make a complete mess and get bored after two minutes.'
I don't call myself 'wise Papa' for no reason. Over the years, I have measured the height of my children's attention span and come on; Peter's not exactly the king of endurance.

After, imagine that, two minutes of chipping away at their prehistoric brick, the boys gave up and started playing with their Gormitis, knowing full well that Papa would really like to take the digging hammer and chisel and go to work on these little bastards. And just witness the archeological patience needed to chip away such a huge corner in only two minutes!

Speaking of impatient fossils, Angie was busy in the kitchen falling in love with potatoes.

Aahh, that's cute. The potato is shaped like a heart - isn't that so sweet...

'Yo, potato head! Snap out of it and get back to your salad - I got a work party to go to. Chop-chop.'
I actually cannot publish Angie's witty retort without getting into all sorts of trouble with a few animal rights groups. You sure have a creative imagination, though, honey.

To make up for Angie's politically funny references to animals, I thought I would slap a few bugs on Peter's landing strip.

Angie, the teacher, was quick to start babbling about slugs not being bugs and some other nonsensical phrase that rhymed, but did nothing for me. At least she didn't whack me in the face with a squishy ball. Yes, this is one of her patented techniques that manages to keep her students quiet while she schools them. Whatever, psycho bug lady - you can throw all the squishy things you want; you won't shut me up.

So after Angie was done beating the crap out of me with bean bags, she handed me two bowls of potato salad and told me to have fun at my party.

'Uh, what? You're not coming?'

'Moron, it's Chiara's birthday party. In our garden.'

'Didn't she already have, like... three birthday parties?'

'Yes, but this one is in our garden.'

'Why isn't it in our family calendar? You know, right next to the entry that says 'Steve's BBQ Party' that's been there for a few months?'

'A better 'why' question is what you are still doing here.'

'That wouldn't be a 'why' question, that would be a 'what' question. Who's the moron?'

'Go. Now.'

Not one to argue with Master, I left and went to party, fully expecting to end up on the sofa at some point. The BBQ was great and all was fine and dandy until the whiskey-tasting train left the station. I hate missing trains, so I kept boarding every chance I got.

At one point, I got bored with boarding and wisely switched to a taxi as my preferred means of stumbling home. Despite a few marital calls like 'are you coming home soon?' followed by 'when are you coming home?' followed by 'you need to come home soon' followed by 'you better get your ass home soon', I still did not sleep on the sofa. To be honest with you, as I always am, this had more to do with the limited size of our sofa than any attempted kicking of my ass to said sofa.

That's right, Angie was hogging my place. I didn't like that my better half was snoring away and drooling all over my expected sleeping arrangements, so I woke her ass up and told her what a horrible teacher she is so that I could regain my coveted spot. It worked.

The weekend did not stop there, though. Oh, no, I had the entire Sunday to continue irritating family members other than my lovely wife. I knew there was a reason we had kids.

The day after the night before we invited Sheyeste and Sharpur over. Before you ask, no - I did not force him to change another flat tire for me, since that is something that I can do without help. Really. Quit laughing!

For some strange reason, they decided to bring their kid and before long, Sharpur was getting Artin and Peter high.

Getting high invariably ends up with a bad case of the munchies or inexplicable urges to get wet. So I've heard. Our boys had obviously eaten enough.

At some point during their wet trip, the little munchers started trippin'.

Luckily, they were under close adult supervision. Kinda.

As Shayeste and Sharpur enjoyed their bird's-eye view, David was quietly enjoying a bagful of choking hazards.

Not only did David lose his marbles; Tom also decided to WOW everyone with his newfound Johnny walker.

My only thoughts at first glance - 'WOW - that kid should be taken to the Whacko ranch.'

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I get to sleep with the Gormitis.
David: When I go down in the pool and I go BOOM and water goes out.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't sleep by you.
David: When my belly hurts.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with David Gormitis, but only when he steal not.
David: To play with Peter Gormitis.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smells like teen soup

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, there party animal. I haven't even started this blog and you already want to show everyone how 'happy' you got on your first night? Calm down, Veany-bean, we'll get there eventually. Jeeze, college chicks!

My little sister took her first solo flight for some band gig in Italy. She plays this kick-ass musical thingy, although I can't remember which one. Is it the tuba? Bagpipes? Doesn't matter. Vena's musical kick-ass stopped in Germany for a two-day visit on the way to band camp.

After my Dad's fly-by visit and my older sister's overnighter, I am really beginning to wonder about my family's endurance of visiting my family. If my mom comes to visit for an hour before going home, I'm going to seriously question the Johnson's travel logic. And blame Angie, of course, since logic is so her thing.

Being the considerate and frequent traveller that she isn't, Vena decided to land at 6:30 in the morning. Not only did she manage to drag my ass out of bed before even my kids were awake, she also forgot to tell me which terminal. We have two and I picked the wrong one.

After getting yelled at by the German 'helpers' at the help desk, I discovered that terminal 2 is not the terminal for ALL international flights - just the departing ones. Needless to say, Vena was arriving and I was in the wrong freakin' terminal.

I thanked the friendly ass-helper for their ass-istance and then panicked my way to terminal 1. By now I was a little late, but not worried, since going through German customs is about as lengthy and friendly as their help desk. I checked the boards to find the arrival gate - nothing. Shit.

Although I really did not want to, I made my way to another 'help' desk. The lady behind the counter punched me and made me pay her five dollars to tell me that the plane had landed an hour early. Shit.

After a rather painful eye-poke and another five dollars, the friendly lady helper even revealed to me the gate where the early bird had landed. Danke, Frau Helferin.

Oddly enough, the gate was completely empty. Shit. I tried to find someone working there and didn't manage to locate anyone with a pulse. Shit. It was at that point that I realized I would need to return to the helpful ones. Shit, shit.

Just as I turned to make my way back to what would surely have been a good kick to the groin for asking about my sister's whereabouts, Vena came strolling out of the gate. She ran up to me, gave me a hug, told me what a cool brother I am, and then began babbling about losing her bag and how sorry she was that I had to wait while she filled out the lost luggage paperwork only to discover her 'missing' bag on the way out. On the conveyor belt. Where it should have been. There was only one response to that.

'Damn it, Vena! I have been sitting right here for over two hours, worried sick. You owe me BIG TIME!'

Okay, I have to admit, I owe Vena more than she could ever owe me. I tormented the HELL out of her growing up. But, she's still growing up and she still smells like soup, so I somehow justify this to the voices in my head. She felt bad, though. When she cried and asked for a tissue, I told her to ask the heavy-set lady at the help desk. I know, Angie has already told me - I'm an ass.

In addition to me, everyone LOVED Vena. For different reasons of course, and not all of them were related to soup. Tom loved Vena because he is a baby and these creatures with their useless legs are amused by anything, especially humans, no matter how goofy looking, that play with him.

Angie has strange women stopping by all the time and Gizma normally bolts out of the room and hides from the gossip under our stove, prompting me to cook something requiring use of the broiler. I'm not sure if it was the petting, cuddling, or disgusting cat-hugs that Vena was dishing out, but Gizma seemed to genuinely like our gifted musician with the vegetable soup perfume.

Peter and David were in love at first sight. I told them not to take a second sight, but they were too busy getting music lessons from Aunt Dena. I mean Vena.

Oh, violin! Of course! It's kind like a tuba, just more expensive, which made me really nervous when David asked if he could 'bang-bang-bonky-bang' on it. Needless to say, his lesson was relatively short and closely supervised.

Angie loves anything musical, so she was completely thrilled when Vena struck a few chords without the little Sopranos.
I have also been known to be musically inclined on Saturday mornings, but Angie just complains about my solo renditions and opens the bedroom windows.

After lunch and a show, we hit the streets to find out why the tourists love this city so much. Our kids are apparently a big attraction, at least for the Asian camera-snappers.

This lady stopped us by the old bridge and asked if she could take her picture with Peter and David. I winked at her and asked her if she didn't mean me. She didn't.

Now we come to why I love Vena. Aside from smelling like soup, which she does - just sniff her - she has discovered the glorious wet stuff that I call beer. I know I used this as the opening picture, but like her concerts, it deserves an encore.

The last time we saw each other, Vena did not drink, since the U.S. has this silly little thing called drinking age, and Vena was silly enough not to get a fake ID. This time around, post-21, it was a completely different silliness.

'Vena, do you drink now?'


'Cool, well - what do you drink? Beer, wine, mixed drinks...?'


'Okay. And wine - do you like red or white?'


'Sweet or dry?'


Man, my liver misses the hell out of my college days. I also miss the hell out of my digital camera which was 'dropped' to the floor of the pub shortly after this picture. Note to self: never, ever, ever get your sister loaded and leave your camera on the bar. I know this will be painful for one of my two readers, but for the rest of this blog and until I can buy a new camera, you may simply have to enjoy my incessant ramblings even more than pictures.

Actually, there's not a whole lot more to write about. After our first night's debauchery, Vena was not feeling so hot, so I made her some eggs and bacon and made her go hiking up by the castle with the overly energetic Zoo Crew. Don't ask Angie why, but this worked.

The second evening was slightly less wild, unless watching German TV and nursing a water is your idea of kickin' it. Before going to bed, I did the parental 'check'.

'Vena, what time does your flight leave?'

'14:45 - you've already asked me this?'

'Don't roll your eyes at me. Do you have your passport?'

'Yes. Go away.'

I went away and woke up the next morning ready to take my soup-smelling, passport-toking, itinerary-know-it-all sister to the airport. On the way there, I remembered the slight mix-up with terminals and asked Miss World-Traveller to check her itinerary just one more time. The good news was that she could tell me it was terminal 1. The bad news was that 14:45 was the arrival time in Italy and not the departure time in Germany, which was 12:15. This news flash came at 12:03 and we were 25 minutes from the airport. Shit.

I laughed and pointed fingers, of course. It wasn't my flight, after all, and I've missed my fair share. Vena wasn't laughing, but at least she was quick on her feet. We switched her flight and called her contacts in Italy who were supposed to pick her up.

'Yep, flat tire. My brother is too stupid to change it on his own, so we waited hours for road side assistance.'

Yeah, where's Sharpur when you need him? I evened out the fees they charged for being a wingbat with some spending cash for her über-21 parties in Italy. Jeeze, college chicks!
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we go up to the Königstuhl.
David: When I go there today with you and your sister Dena, I mean Vena.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When my legs is sleeping.
David: When Peter have a book from me that is mine book.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with Davey.
David: To play with Dena again - I like her.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Would you like catch-up with your blog?

[Author warning: this is the longest blog ever written]
So, yeah. The road trip is finally over. We got back home and somehow Angie completely forgot that Jen had volunteered our free home and board to these two homeless weirdos from New York the next day. At least Lisa and Susan talked funny; I'm a sucker for funny accents and I love weirdos. I even marry them, sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, the road trip was nice, in a 'I hated every waking moment of it' kind of way. Susan and Lisa's three day home crashing was, um... also nice. At least the animals were entertained.

After winding the Zoo Crew up beyond any reasonable hope of sleepiness, the New York city girls went out for an intellectual night in the city. The problem was, they forgot to bring any intellectuals with them.

Instead, they brought Sarah, Danie, and some other chick with pouty lips. Yes, Angie dragged our newfound strangers out for Quiz Night at our pub around the corner. No, they did not win, as is evident by Angie's long face. Her lip quivering might have more to do with the empty beer than losing BIG TIME at quiz, but we'll never know, since the Brainiac and the Big Apple gang came home missing too many brain cells to really tell. Uh, when is it my turn?

After two nights and three days of serving New York's finest, we kicked Lisa and Susan to the airport and got on with our camping trip. Our what??

Silly me had somehow sillily thought that after eleven days in the car with three screaming brats and a silly backseat driver who sat in the front to be even more annoying, followed by three days entertaining silly New Yorkers who suck at quiz, I would somehow be entitled to a little break. Silly me.

Camping was awesome, if 'awe' is synonymous with 'really' and 'some' somehow equates to 'loud'. After such a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable test of my hearing, I had a brilliant and somewhat quieter idea. It involved ice, popcorn and me screaming at Peter to stop screaming during the 'scary dinosaur' bits.

Yes, the shirt says it all. Peter was so more than happy, though. His shirt really should've read 'MAN! Is Papa cool or what?'

Speaking of cool-ass manly Papa-types with chest-fulls of hair and biceps that you could crack coconuts with, Tom was busy learning how to push chairs around the room.

Actually, there's not a whole lot to say about that one. He pushed a chair. I mean, come on. I'm his father and I was still saying 'whoopty-doo' to over-astounded Mama. If she starts bragging about this amazing new trick that Tommy can do with a chair, just humor her and say 'wow'.

Opa is another one of those amazing types that can do amazing things with chairs, like sit in them. Angie, come quick! You gotta see this!

He can also make monkey faces and actually get David to look you in the eyes. As easy as this sounds, it's not. My camera has been trying in vain to make eye contact with him for over three years now. Tom, on the other hand, had no problem establishing eye contact with Brian.

Direct contact with Brian can be damaging to the eyes, but David and his Ray Charles spectacles managed to survive the encounter. All this close encounter made the third kind want to gnaw on some meat sticks. Don't ask me why.

After chowing down, the kids went completely theatrical on us. It was all fine and weird until Peter decided to bust out his dramatic solo.

Uh, what in sweet hell is THAT? In Peter's defense, it was theater, so I guess I should have expected some bizarre dance moves, but holy crap! Even bizarre has its limits.

To make up for being so weird, Peter thought it would be totally normal to strangle Dalia with his patented Heimlich hug that is normally only appreciated by people choking on chicken bones.

Luckily, Dalia has a high tolerance for weirdos. This probably stems from parental influence, but according to Angie, I've been known to be wrong. Yeah, sweetie - I can think of one time, for sure.

Dalia has been wanting a dog for more than half of her life. She ended up with Cash instead, which is something I've been wanting for more than half of my life.

After letting Cash walk Brian around for a while, we went to check on Tom.

If this does not scream 'Hey, look at me - look at what I'm doing - LOOK AT ME!!!' I don't know what does. Okay, I admit - between the chair trick and the one-baby band, I would have to pick Mr. Bojangles.

At some point in the past several weeks that I'm trying to catch up on, Peter and David had Artin over and taught him how to lock out the women and children first.

This was funny for the first hour or two, but then Angie started holding up hand-written notes like 'I'm hungry' and 'open up now, damn it!' For a teacher, she's not really that bright; she knows the boys can't read. Anyway, it started getting dark and it was totally impossible to watch TV with Angie screaming her head off on the balcony, so we let her back in. The screaming continued anyway, though, so I think I know how I'll handle that one next time.

After instigating everything, Peter left with Artin to spend the night at his house, leaving a rather sad David. Mama came to the rescue by calling in Sarah's snuggle crew.

Chiara and Alessio went to sleep like professionals. David is more of a blue-collar kinda guy, so he kept the party going even after they zonked out. It was cool, except I had to go in two times because David was poking Chiara in the face and shouting 'are you still awake?'

Before the adult types zonked out, Barb showed up and we also had a cool 'poke her' party of sorts.

Barbara won and was just a tad bit too happy about it. It's okay, though. After each round, I kept poking her in the eye, asking 'are you still winning?' After a few rounds, her chip pile began to mysteriously disappear.

David must have feared retaliation for his long night of eye-poking and wisely chose the appropriate safety gear to defend himself.

This picture is great because it is documented proof on what a climbing-freak Tom is becoming. He is an absolute pro at climbing anything and everything. This would probably not be a problem if it weren't for his descent techniques, also known as falling.

So far, Tom has had a bloody nose, a bloody lip and a sore throat from screaming after those fun events. No band-aids, yet, but they will come in good time, I'm sure. David did have a band-aid on his arm, which was from a vaccination shot against ticks. This is probably good, seeing as how he loves to roll around in mother nature's mud, dirt, grass and Sami's weeds.

We went to Kika and Sami's for a nice BBQ. David forgot his wallet and couldn't pay, so Sami put him to work in the garden as compensation. During one of his thirty-four breaks, David decided to make Lauri cry.

Angie thought it might be the tattoo on David's arm, but as always, her thoughts are useless. Doesn't matter; we now realize that we will have to slowly and delicately acclimate Lauri to the Zoo Crew. Very slowly.

I think Artin and Peter probably played their 'lock a parent out' trick on their over-nighter, since Shayeste and Sharpur offered the next day for Artin to crash at our pad. It was Artin's first overnight adventure and he loved it. I'm pretty sure that his parents one-upped us by injecting sugar and chocolate into the kids before dropping them off; they were still buzzing three hours after 'lights out'.

It still amazes and disappoints me that kids who go to bed later than usual do not, actually, wake up later. They still get up at dawn's first light, but then they are cranky and tired and don't understand why but somehow blame you. Luckily, I am used to this after almost a decade with Angie, so I did what I tend to do with her and just ignored them. By the sixth cup of coffee, they were sociable again. And wired.

Their poses in this picture remind me of the video for 'Sabotage'; they're only missing the fake moustaches and rubber pistols. After getting our beastie boys down from the roof, we took Artin back home. I kept feeding him chocolate and sugar and giggled my ass of in the car until we had a flat tire right in front of their house. Damn Kharma and her sick sense of humor.

You would probably be super proud of me that I was actually able to change a car tire without calling roadside assistance. I would probably let you believe this if it wasn't for the fact that Angie has recently figured out how to write comments on the blog. Damn.

To avoid Angie ratting me out, I can simply come clean. Sharpur came to the rescue.

'So, you have a flat tire'

'Not well endowed is actually the PC thing to say, but yes. Do you have the number for roadside assistance?'

'Why? We're men. Let's just change it.'

'Of course, that's what I said. I am man. Let's do it!'

'Where's the jack?'

'I don't know Jack.'

'The tool-thingy to make your car go up in the air.'

'Oh, that thing. I don't know.'

'Do you have a manual?'

'Of course. No self-respecting male drives an automatic.'

'No, that's not what I meant. You know, what Steve - how about you just stand there and hold this flashlight.'

'Sure, but it's daytime - why do you need a...'

'Just hold it, okay.'

To make a long dialogue short, Sharpur changed the tire and I watched him. It was fascinating! It is also the reason that everyone in the picture above was showing their dirty hands except me. After the picture, I rubbed my hands on the old tire so I wouldn't feel left out, but somehow that happened anyway.

Not left out was Tom, who was actually left in.

'There's a hole in my bucket. Can't buy no beer.'

While helping to change Papa's flat tire, Peter learned that your hands get dirty. Unlike David and Tom, Peter does not like dirt. He's a clean-freak, actually. Border-line obsessive compulsive at times, but that's a funny story for some other blog.

After my car's tire exploded, my bike's tire felt left out and decided to blow itself up. I decided to take Peter with me to have it repaired.

Peter decided that there was no way he was going to touch the tire and 'make my hands filthy-dirty, no thanks, Papa - you do it'. I thought about calling Sharpur, but remembered his words of wisdom: 'We're men. Let's just change it'. Thank you, oh wise one.

I finally got Peter to walk with me to the bike shop, where I was confronted by the most honest and least customer-friendly businessman ever.

'Hi, my old tire has a problem with the chain rotator. I'd like to change it and I brought a new tire with me.'

'Okay. You just need to change the tires, then.'

'Great, how much would that cost, then?'

'What? Are you serious? Just change the tire.'

Thanks again, ass-monkey who called my manhood into question. I can change a freakin' tire, by the way!

Luckily, we did not need bikes to go to the Kika kids' Summer Fest. No, we needed a train ticket and a lot of patience instead.

What you see here is David holding up his arm as if it is a 200 lb weight after we took a pen and wrote my cell phone number on his arm. Peter did not need this, but then again - he has never run away in crowded areas.

From my point of view, the festival was great. Kids, music, freaky weird people in costumes on stage.

The only thing missing was the beer tent, but it wasn't happy hour yet, so I was not panicking. From the kids' point of view, the festival sucked. There were lines everywhere and 'nothing fun to do'. At least they were good at concealing their discontent to the three adults who woke up MEGA-early on a weekend to get them to the damn thing on time.

Angie was not one of the three yawning musketeers, by the way. She was busy at home breast-sleeping Tom and laughing at me, I'm sure.

Shayeste, Sharpur and I racked our brains trying to figure out what could possibly top an outdoor children's festival with all of their well-known and adored TV friends stuffed and in real life? Oh, of course - how stupid of us adults - Burger King! They have cardboard crowns, greasy burgers, and a playground that is apparently missing a sign that warns of flying destructive objects. Please don't sue us, Shayeste.

After our cholesterol intake, I made the wise and healthy choice of ice-cream for dessert.

They were on such an adrenaline high by this point that I am completely amazed that I managed to get a photo with both of them actually sitting. I can tell you, it did not last long. We got home and Angie questioned why the boys were so high on life. I counter-complained with one of my own - why was Tommy getting so high?

Tom likes to climb. I vaguely remember mentioning this somewhere, although I'm not sure where. Doesn't matter, Peter distracted me with his 'arrested elephant' dance that he must have learned from 'Pumpkin-Top', cousin to carrot freak.

Tom felt a little left out. Again. To feel a little left in, he decided to portray a pirate riding a lizard. Yeah, so...that's really, um...unique, Tom.

Not one to be outdone, Peter joined the crowd surrounding Papa demanding my attention.

Ah, Peter - that's a really cool costume and all, but most Superheroes need at least one eye to carry out their kick-ass super-awesome powers. What hero are you supposed to be, anyway?

Oh, cool. You must be the incredible 'E-man'. That's really, uh, special, but you do know that your name actually begins with a P and not an E, right? Blank look. Whatever E-dude, you cool.

E-ter and his sidekick O-m went to the L-ayground and had a ball on the L-ide.

Where was A-vid during all of this cryptic fun? He was busy getting a haircut. When I put David to bed, I only need to run my fingers through his hair once or twice and he is out like a light. I thought this had something to do with him being in his bed and snuggled up on his pillow and therefore already somewhat sleepy. Angie would love hearing that once again, my thoughts were wrong.

This is the 'Going, going, gone' sequence with David at the barber shop. As he dreamt sweet dreams of destruction, mayhem and homeless weirdos with funny accents, I was busy putting catch-up on my blog.