Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March madness

I think it surprised David more than it did us when he started snapping this morning. I don't want to foster any kind of competitive brotherly hate, but it took Peter 5 years and 17 days to discover his snapping gene. David accomplished this milestone after only 3 years and 10 months. Hey, Davey, maybe you should try whistling.

It all started in the kitchen. Angie and I were talking and completely ignoring David, who had raced in and was trying to tell us something that was sure to be earth-shattering news. Angie was busy going on and on about how awesome I am, though, so neither one of us was bothered about the earth shattering. David apparently was.

At one point, he got really frustrated and annoyed. He gets these genes from Angie, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that he did what Angie does when she is annoyed and feels neglected.




'I said, HEY! Mama!'


It wasn't until the third snap that we finally realized what was happening.

'David! Did you just snap your fingers?'

David stared at his fingers for a few seconds before grinning like the village snapper.

'Yeah, I did.'

Since he had finally gotten our attention, we asked him what the hell it was that he wanted. He didn't answer, though; he was too busy running off to find Peter. Yeah, he gets the bragging bit from Angie as well.

So, now onto a part that he gets from me.

Hanging out at Irish pubs in Germany is also Angie's thing, but I'm still claiming this one. Angie can have the 'memory' gene, which Peter definitely has. He told me once that he remembered being inside Mommy's belly and that it was like being in a laundry machine. The creative lying gene is mine.

David is certainly creative, but he didn't inherit the remembering gene. You can yell and scream at him until the veins in your neck are about to burst and he still forgets it two minutes later. I gave up trying and turned to the Godfather for a favor on Lauri's first birthday. Please, Padrino, teach him to remember.

Sami started with a game of memory. David continued to flip the same two tiles over for the first twenty minutes, so I'm thinking that he wasn't quite getting it. Oh, well - it's the thought that...shit, how does that phrase go again?

David was more in his element when Jack and William stopped by for a scary movie-night sleepover.

You'll notice by most of the expressions here that The Gruffalo was a bit frightening; only David was laughing his ass off. Angie and I both get scared every now and then, so I'm not sure where David gets his 'I fear nothing' gene.

Sometimes, genes have nothing to do with it. I've learned that having older brothers to teach you all kinds of bad shit can also influence your development.

Yes, B is for Bad and D is for David. Thanks again, buddy, for teaching him to eat markers.

After painting the table, our sofa and the wall green, it was time to get the hellions ready for bed. First stop - teeth brushing 501.

After a rather loud and chaotic hour in the bathroom, Sandy volunteered to read a story to Tom.

Tom had maxed out his energy levels after having four other BIG boys to play with all night, so he was one wink shy of crashing big time. Thanks for jumping on that grenade, Sandy - you're a peach. I'll just tend to the wild ones.

I somehow managed to tame the adrenaline-crazed weirdos. After a few hours, I also managed to have a drink or five with the other crazed weirdos.

It doesn't take much to get the adrenaline flowing again. For David, it was a pair of kickass shorts with a matching hat that Grams had given him for being such a good boy.

Ah, did Grams just use David and good in the same sentence? Doesn't matter. David wasn't the only one prancing around in trendy outfits.

The only thing funnier than Armin sporting an Afro was when Barbara 'discovered' that Angie had stolen her childhood sticker collection. Scratch and swipe.

Apparently Angie found this treasured jackpot in her old room and used selective memory to claim it as her own. Since then, Angie has ignored the careful labelling of each sticker written in Barbara's handwriting and simply ripped off the protective plastic so that she could use Barb's cherished stickers for her class. I had a stamp collection growing up, but as far as I know, none of my sisters destroyed it just to save a bit of cash on postage. Bad sister!

Barbara forgave Angie, but only after several glasses of champagne. I would have made Angie wear the Afro to work, but maybe I'm just less forgiving and more creative than Barb.

Sticky Fingers was feeling a little guilty, so she bought Peter and David a new night-light.

I don't quite get the connection between stealing your sister's memoires and buying Din-o-lite for the boys, but some things are better left unasked. Like 'when the hell did the boys get old enough to walk to school by themselves?'

Not to drive the wedge even deeper, but Peter was 3 years and 7 months when he made his first solo flight and he didn't have a big brother to help him out. Sorry, Davey, but whistling will be the tie-breaker.

Tommy caught on that there was a competition and apparently wanted to join in.

I have collected some pretty bizarre stats on Peter and David, but I don't recall ever recording the first time they successfully captured themselves with a butterfly net. This is probably because even they have not done anything so weird. You can thank Mama for that gene as well.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That I played with Daniela dominoes because I had fun.
David: When we call Nil 'cause I like her and she like me.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I missed Grams and Opa.
David: Nothing today was bad.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play on my birthday and go to the Schnitzelhaus.
David: Tomorrow I go to Peter's birthday. Ha, he-he - I'm here already!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kite dragging

Yeah, there's a reason I don't let her drive. Aside from valuing my life, Angie tends to get distracted easily. Like today, when I gave her the simple task of getting the navigation system from the glove box.

'Ooooh, look at me. I'm a monster! Booga-booga!'

'Ah, yeah. How about that nav, honey?'

'Scary. Soooo scary.'
'You know, I thought we agreed not to drink until we get there.'

Angie continued not scaring people with her key monster that she bought at a KIDS store for the entire drive to Eisi and Martha's. I don't know if I was happier to see them or just to get the hell out of the car. I mean, come on. No offense; I like them, but it's hard to compete against two hours in the car with the key freak. At least they seemed happy to see us. For a few minutes.

After a few minutes, the boys discovered Eisi's new Foosball table. This took approximately 0.4 seconds. Our original plan was to let Clooney attack the boys while we talked with the adults. After overhearing the boys screaming about the 'super-duper-cool' table soccer in the other room, it took Angie 0.2 seconds to disappear.

'Yeah, nice to see guys - bye!'

I hung out for another 1.5 seconds of awkwardness before excusing myself to go 'check on the boys'.

Four hours later, Eisi grew impatient of Angie and Peter getting their asses beat. He suggested we do something outside, since the weather was so nice.

'Yeah, nice try, Eisi - why don't you go fly a kite?'

The boys had never flown a kite before, but they were certainly intrigued. No, Peter, it's not like driving a bus.

The first thing I noticed when we got to the kite-flying field was that there was no wind.

I questioned Eisi on this, who just shrugged at me and pretended like he didn't speak English. Whatever, Frenchie. The good news was that there were absolutely no other kiters, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I actually asked Eisi about this strange fact as well, but again I got the French look normally reserved for American tourists. I live here, damn it.
I'm crap at building anything that's not IKEA, so I left the kite assembly to Smart and Smarter.

Yeah, okay. Three hours later, Eisi was ready for take-off. I was ready for a beer, but instead I brought up the whole wind thing again. 'Foux da fa fa' was his only response before heading down the runway. Whatever, froggy.

In case my foreshadowing drew you into a false sense of believing that a kite can fly without wind, let me just dispel these silly thoughts - it can't. Eisi figured this out after an hour or so of inventing a new game called kite-dragging. The boys were cracking up so much; I even gave it a try.

After tearing down kite alley like a bat out of my house, I turned back to find Angie, not the boys, laughing her freakin' ass off. It's strange. Angie and I have known each other for over a decade now, so I've always known that she's a bit odd. I just never knew that watching a hairy-chested sexy man run faster than a mongoose would make her laugh. Maybe it was the kite. Um, you can stop laughing now.

The laughs did not stop, though. After tucking the kite-kiddies into bed, Le Eisi decided to start speaking English again.

'Hey, let's play a joke on Peter and David.'

I was in from the get-go. And now you know it; the secret is out. I love Eisi because he shares my passion for practical jokes and tormenting children. I know it's mean, but I just can't stop myself. I've even thought about joining Assholes Anonymous.

'Hi, my name is Steve and I am an irritating bastard. It's been five minutes since I've annoyed another human.'

Amazingly enough, it was Eisi, not me, who launched operation Prank the Kids.

It was a simple plan, actually:
  1. Drink a beer.
  2. Repeat step 1 until steps 3 to 12 smell like a good idea.
  3. Steal a chocolate egg containing a small toy as a surprise from innocent kids that love and trust you.
  4. Very, very carefully remove the aluminum wrapper.
  5. Make sure that Angie is not watching or witnessing anything.
  6. Crack open the chocolate egg along its seam very delicately.
  7. Open the plastic tube inside that encases the small toy.
  8. Replace the boat, car, airplane, spaceship or whatever shitty prize lies inside with a clove of garlic.
  9. Reseal the egg and put the wrapper back on.
  10. Place the egg on the breakfast table.
  11. Giggle and wait in anticipation.
  12. Give up on waiting and just wake them up for an early breakfast.
Peter and David were MEGA excited when they saw the breakfast dessert on the table. They are normally not allowed to have dessert until after cleaning their dinner plates with their tongues. I explained to them that this was a special treat. Get it?

After tearing apart their nutritious egg, Peter was the first one to scowl. His tears of disappointment were drowned by laughter. I won't tell you who was laughing, but I can certainly tell you who wasn't.

Speaking of Angie, she was busy fighting off an attack from the breakfast gang after someone (I won't reveal my name) explained that the 'garlic' trick was all her idea. Poor Angie. The confused miscreant couldn't understand why she was being assaulted and turned to me for help. The boys were watching my reaction, though, so I just shook my head, told her that she was a mean Mama and asked her how could she. Then I grabbed my camera.

Even Tom came to the rescue with the most amazing flying leap from the bench. He is now getting to the age where he can really hurt if he hits you in the right spot. The bridge of Angie's nose was exactly that point.

Angie screamed and David laughed. There was a slight pause as the others decided which road to take. Tom broke the silence with hysterical laughter and Peter nervously followed. I think you know which road I took and you probably can guess how much Angie appreciated the finger pointing that accompanied my chuckles.

The boys quickly forgot the prank and had a blast until it was time to hit the road. Tom, on the other hand, was still really pissed that Angie had pulled such a mean joke. In retaliation, he waited until everyone was buckled in and the engine was started before making his movement.

Seconds after Tom broke the stench barrier, we broke the hell out of the car. Phew.

I eventually evened things out between them by promising him that I would post this picture of Mama holding Tom's rage.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we go to Eisi's and Martha and Clooney.
David: When I play with Martha.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't play one more table soccer with Eisi.
David: When I not more with them play can.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to do a trick on Eisi and maybe on Martha, too.
David: To play where one is a human and the others are animals.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Coyote Peter

Please don't ask me why Peter is trying to gnaw his foot off. This is a tactic normally left to trapped animals and guys trying to sneak out of dates that went fantastically well until they sobered up. So I've heard.

In case you didn't notice, I'm slightly behind on the blog. So, March is going to be a series of catch-up blogs. As both of my readers know, this means a lot of pictures.

The first is a lovely trip to the zoo.

This is only lovely if you're British, which I'm not. Sorry, mates. I'm American, and we sometimes overlook the whole 'thinking' thing. Had I thought about it before taking the boys to the Zoo, I would have probably realized that going to look at animals is not the most exciting thing for a kid to see if he just came back from a trip to AFRICA! Yes, Peter reminded us of that slight oversight several times.

'Nice lion, isn't it Davey? I saw so many in Africa, where I was and you was not.'

'Nice elephant, isn't it Davey? I saw so many elephants in Africa, where I was and you was not.'

After several other animal exhibits, David had had enough.

'Papa! Peter, he not so nice. He say I no in Africa, but I want to Africa go. Why you so mean and not me take?'

I tormented over my options of telling David that his English grammar sucked and telling Peter that he was being an ass. In the end, I had to side with David, who was the one who had been left Out of Africa.

'Hey, Peter - in Africa, did you ever have to wait in the hot car by yourself because you pissed off everyone travelling with you? I only ask, because if you brag about one more animal that you saw in Africa, I'm going to box you into a crate and ship your smug ass back to the Dark Continent.'

After that, Peter was wisely silent and David gloated gleefully and not so silently. Deep inside, I smiled.

I also smiled when I found that Peter and/or David had filled my stinky shoes with a Monchichi.

The Monchichi really did not serve a purpose; my shoes still stunk, but at least now Angie's childhood doll could bond with my foot funk. Angie was not amused.

I was amused by Grams, though, who taught Tom a new and interesting version of Cowboys and Indians.
In her world, the game was apparently called Indians and Parking Attendants, but at least Tom enjoyed it.

Tom also enjoyed a little brotherly dispute with Peter, where he decided that he needed safety goggles before he physically 'explained' to Peter that he really didn't appreciate the whole 'stealing my banana' trick that Peter had pulled earlier because he had wanted a little extra potassium in his cereal.

Even though he is the elder alpha male in the zoo, Peter relented and finally let the 'youngins' have their bananas. Thanks, Peter, you're a gem.

Peter moved on to the university, where he impressed the ladies by looking like he couldn't be bothered by the monster lurking behind him. He gets that nonchalant, I-don't-give-a-shit look from me. I can so totally relate.

This scary looking monster is also known as The Gruffalo, one of Peter's all-time favorites.

After totally impressing the hotties with his ability to stare down dangerous creatures, we decided to confront the creature's creators.

After waiting in line for over an hour, I completely understood why Angie had asked me if I could 'help out'. It wouldn't have been so bad, but Sarah was watching Tom and fully expecting a quick in-and-out that would last maybe ten minutes, based on what Angie had promised her.

Two hours later, a red-blooded and hot-haired Italian lady stormed in and threw Tom into my arms. She muttered something that surely translated as 'you are so hot, but even I have limits - take your son and don't ever lie to me again about how long you'll be while I watch your child.' There were also a few choice comments about my biceps that I purposely left out so that Angie doesn't get jealous. I am so freaking considerate, I kill myself.

Anywho, the hot and feisty Signorina chick stormed off, leaving me in line holding one screaming Tom, a super-mega hyperactive David, and a slightly under-fearful Peter who should maybe think about moving to older books with characters that actually do scare him. That, or just have him read the blog.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we go see Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson.
David: When I think I look Mr. Bean, 'cause he so funny.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When Mama she cut my wart and she take my foot off.
David: When I cry 'cause we not look Mr. Bean.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to do a trick with Eisi and we're going to do a trick with Martha.
David: To play where one is a human and the others are animals.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Holy shit, Scott! I don't know what the hell happened to your skull, but I'd hate to see the other girl. By the way, Mary Shelly called and she'd like her neck plugs back.

You're probably wondering how we ended up in a pub with the Modern Prometheus. Aside from staring, we were there to also say auf Wiedersehen to Scarface, who was going back to the States, provided Homeland security lets him in.

Before the freaky farewell, the freaks watched soccer.

It all started when Barb and Armin stopped by and convinced us to take our kids to an Irish pub and watch soccer. I was so totally against the idea, but Angie was wearing pants again, so we went. Period. End of discussion. I had NO choice in the matter. Angie shouted 'Drink!' and I asked 'how much?'. The cool thing is that Angie and I know each other so well that she didn't even need to answer - I just made certain assumptions. Sure, some of them were horribly wrong, but I tend to block out horrible things. Never happened.

What did happen was that Peter kicked my ass in darts. Again. It was also horrible.

I never quite agreed with how fiercely Tiger Woods' father made him train and practice, but after tonight, the greedy side of me is thinking 'holy crap! this kid doesn't suck - I can probably bank some cash here.' The absolute greatest is that I can also accompany my new dart prodigy to the matches. And where are they normally held? That's right - pubs. Right on, right on - I love you Tiger, I mean Peter.

The aftermath of a long night of liquid coaching was that Angie had to wake up with the boys. Trust me - we do take turns. Angie had assumed that an early morning bribery of cartoons and sugary cereal would distract the animals from her hard night as assistant coach long enough for a quick snooze on the bench. As per usual, the animals sensed fear and showed no mercy.

I really can't decide what was more freakin' hilarious - the fact that our kids were power-beating my wife awake or that Barb was so totally enjoying the older-sister-smackdown. Hey there, sugar-pants, maybe you shouldn't have terrorized the shit out of your little sister by locking her in a graveyard when she was still preadolescent.

Obviously, such early childhood trauma affected Barb deeply, especially when it came to crafting snowmidgets.

After creating her abominable monster, Barb sat on the window sill for hours twitching and staring at the snowwoman with the red hat that eerily resembles one of Angie's. Every now and then she would giggle to herself and mutter things like 'take that' and 'uh-oh, here comes the sun'.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we was by the darts and I beat you up.
David: When I played with ga-ga goo-goo Peter 'cause he are a baby - waaah.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That Eisi not come.
David: When you was mad 'cause I put not my pajamas on.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Go out in the garden and catch some animals.
David: To play with friends and go to a party.