Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Radish

Finn started complaining in the car the other day that his butt... excuse me, "behind"... hurt.  His explanation:  "I think I have a radish."

Given that he's never been to a Sizzler salad bar and therefore the only radish this kid has ever seen is on the side of the Amazon Fresh truck that delivers his lazy parents' groceries, we're pretty sure he meant rash.  Considering the crap we've been feeding him and the non-stop Christmas festivities, we're not surprised.

Of course, radishes weren't the only things he got this Christmas.  In addition to all of the trucks and playsets he's been pining over for the last month or two, he also got swords.  Lots and lots of swords.  Enough to beat me over the head with a different one every five minutes of the day while I "work from home" this week.  Foam swords, pirate swords, samurai swords, and... oh yes, working lightsabers that light up and make cool battle sounds when you swing them around.

All of the sword fighting has even motivated Finn to add a new word to the family vocabulary:  

Spain - v. to hit really, really hard with a sword, "to where you make a clanking sound."

Allow me to use it in a sentence:  "If you get spained too many times on your behind, you might develop a radish."

I should actually correct a point about the lightsabers: they're not both his.  The red one is mine.  I've spent the last couple of days alternating between checking email and trying to convert Finn to the dark side of the force.  No luck so far, but I'll keep trying.

Or I'll cut off one of his hands.  I've seen the movie.  I'm pretty sure those are the only two options.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Most People Call Me Finch"

As I sit here typing this, my shoulders are killing me from the epic weekend that Finn and I spent together.  With Kitty otherwise occupied, Finn and I spent the time alternately ice skating (with TinyTribe), on waterslides (at Great Wolf Lodge with Max and Tatman), or jumping on humongous inflatables (at Pump It Up for Theo's third birthday party).

The waterslides were probably the most epic, being that they were Finn's first and the Great Wolf Lodge is like Vegas for the pre-drinking set (and for the drinking set, given that they let you bring your beer right up to the edge of the pool), but I think it's that last one that did my shoulders in.  Finn didn't want to do the inflato-slides himself, probably still smarting from getting tossed around on the waterslides, so I was forced to embrace my inner three year old and bounce along with him.

Unfortunately, my inner three year old is surrounded by an outer thirty-eight year old.  Ouchie.

After a couple of days like that, what we all need is a nice mellow weekend... which we are absolutely not going to get any time soon.  Our dining room is filled with boxes - a move that I am certain we will not be getting away with any time in the future ("Yes, Finn, Santa drop-ships some of his stuff here to save on fuel costs.") - our front yard is filled with Christmas lights, and Finn's bed is filled with a squirming ball of anticipation that no longer wants to go to sleep.

He also continues to struggle with this whole holiday spirit thing, despite our attempts to instill it in him by force.  His G'parents and I took him to the Children's Museum the other day, where after having multiple requests turned down in the gift store, Finn informed me that he "wasn't going to deal with me, because [I didn't] have any money."

Of course, I'm not putting too much stock in what he says these days.  He also informed me this weekend that most people call him "Finch".  When pressed for the names of the folks who call him Finch, he would only reply:  "most people."

Perhaps I'm not giving him enough credit.  This may all be misdirection.  After all, "Finch" is bound to be a in a better position on Santa's list than Finn...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Finn deals in one currency these days:  treats.  His understanding of money is based on an exchange of silver for candy or popcorn.  His first thought upon waking is, "How am I going to get candy today?"  The first question that he asks when he sits down for dinner is, "What are we having for dessert?"

If he doesn't like my answers to these questions, he asks his Mom.  Or he asks me again.  Forty-seven times.

Part of this is our fault.  We spent about a month drip-feeding his Halloween candy to him, like a playground drug dealer, really establishing his sugar habit.  Upon realizing what we were doing, we had to call in the Potty Fairy's more attractive sibling, the "Candy Fairy", to come and remove the remaining pieces.

At least the Potty Fairy left a lame present.  The Candy Fairy didn't leave anything except for sugar withdrawal.  Finn is not a big fan of the buzzkill Candy Fairy.  (The Candy Fairy, on the other hand, can't wait for next Halloween.)

On the upside, his grandparents were here this past week, and since his grandfather has an appetite for treats that rivals his own, he was flush with cake & cookies.  But now that he's stuck with us again, it's back to reality - and that means back to jonesing for a fix of the good stuff.

This year, I would have assumed that I could really leverage Santa threats to help control things like candy-begging, but it's not working.  We even have an Elf on the Shelf - that Finn very creatively named "I Don't Know," as in, "What should we name this elf?"  "I don't know." - who's supposed to be reporting back to Santa daily.  Unfortunately, Finn pays about as much attention to the elf as he does to my requests that he not run his hands around the inside of the toilet bowl right after using the bathroom.

That is, not at all.

We need to get this Santa thing worked out ASAP.  Bribery and fear are the only tools I have in my parenting toolbelt to combat this sort of behavior and I'm afraid that right now, my toolbelt is empty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Occupy Thanksgiving

I know I'm late to the thanks-giving party, but I've got a good excuse.  We were holed up in the wilderness last weekend, far away from the laptop, deep-frying turkey and trying once again to get Finn to stand up on his own on skis.  We conquered the former (as we do every year), yet didn't quite succeed on the latter.  I don't blame Finn.  We've still got him on those lame strap-on skis with no ankle support AND the weather decided to welcome us up for our first runs of the year by pepper-spraying us with ice and 40 mph wind gusts.

After that, I'll be giving some serious thanks if he ever wants to accompany us back to the mountain again.

So in the spirit of giving thanks, allow me to offer the following (belated) items for which I am truly thankful:

  • To my wife:  I am thankful for everything that you do, even when everything that you do has a habit of costing exactly $2,000.  You make it all worth it, though, by letting me sleep in on the weekends, even when Finn has no interest in doing so himself.  It does not go unnoticed.  I always say a big hearty thank you directly into my pillow before falling back to sleep - you just can't hear it.
  • To my son:  You have the uncanny ability to turn any situation into a happy one by giving me a big hug exactly when I need it.  I know you're getting older and that this type of thing isn't going to last, but they're extremely helpful - particularly in reminding me that a <insert irrationally emotionally loaded sports team here>  loss isn't the end of the world.  
Finn's hugs also help me overlook the fact that he's got designs on my woman (Finn, word to the wise.  When someone asks you who your girlfriend is/who you're going to marry, "Mommy" is not the proper answer if you want to keep living under my roof.) and the fact that the speed with which he moves through life appears to be in direct inverse proportion to the urgency with which I need to get somewhere - i.e., the Ninja Principle.

I'm also extremely thankful for the $.62 that I've made in ad revenue from this blog in the last year.  Only 3,225 more years like that and I'll finally be able to buy my wife something nice.

Hang on, Kitty, almost there!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rent with Your Legs, Not Your Back

In honor of National Movie Rental Safety Week, here's a firefighter displaying the proper posture to be used when renting a movie from a vending machine.

And if you're thinking that he dressed up for a special occasion, you're right.

We call that occasion: "leaving the house."

Halloween is every day when you're a three-year-old Ninja.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Potty Fairy

Finn loves his little potty.  And why wouldn't he?  It sits right next to the big potty where Mommy & Daddy spend 75% of their time and it's got a selection of Finn-specific reading material.

Mommy & Daddy don't love his potty.  We used to love it, when it was key to his potty training, however since he's used to learn the big potties when he's anywhere other than the upstairs bathroom, it really holds no value for us.  Cleaning out a poop-filled plastic bucket when you know your son can use the regular toilet just isn't that enticing.

I'm sure that's just us.

We've put up with it, because he loves it, as proven by all of the fire truck stickers all over it.   That's not enough any more.  Particularly after what happened today.

Kitty was at an all-day event, so it was just Finn and me.  We ate some breakfast and came upstairs to get ready for a day of digging in the dirt, jumping in leaves and watching college football.  I left Finn in the bathroom to go potty while I went to darn my socks/check my email/catch a catnap and returned to the bathroom just in time to see Finn sticking one of the aforementioned books underneath the seat on the big toilet next to him and then.... sticking the book in his mouth.

Once I finished dry heaving, I grabbed the book and burned it.  Then we had the talk about the Potty Fairy.

It turns out that the Potty Fairy comes and takes your little potty once you're big enough to use the regular toilet.  He then brings it to little girs & boys that are just learning how to use the bathroom, since they need it more than he does.

And given the current situation, the Potty Fairy comes tonight.

Given that all Fairies need to leave some sort of present when they take something - per Fairy Rule 1342 - the Potty Fairy will leave some suspiciously familiar looking Halloween candy and the special headphones that may or may not have been a Christmas present, but that really weren't that exciting of a Christmas present anyway.

I hope the Potty Fairy doesn't read him this blog post while she's here.  That will really make us look bad.

Sorry Future Finny.  Not for taking away your potty, but for letting everyone know what you did with that book.  That was pretty gross.

Even grosser?  I still kissed you goodnight.  Right on the lips.

Don't tell Mommy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trick or Pee

Dear Halloween,

I just wanted to send you a quick note thanking you for being awesome once again.  Watching my three-year-old criss-crossing the neighborhood at top speed in his adorable Green Lantern costume reminded me of why you used to be my favorite holiday.  The ice cold beer in my hand showed me that you still can be.

I just have one request:  please install more Porta-Potties on the trick-or-treat circuit.  You can totally make them haunted if you want.

Other than that, keep up the good work.  Nice job with the Halloween-lame-apple-treat reduction project which you've clearly undertaken since I was a child.  Much appreciated.

Old Man with the Full Bladder

Monday, October 24, 2011

Home Alone

Kitty and Finn have been gone since Friday, visiting the Finn family back in Connecticut.  This is the first time since Finn was born that I've been home alone and I finally understand what people mean when they say, "The house feels so empty."

Well, as empty as a house full of pizza boxes, beer cans and two cats that like to wrestle on top of your head while you're trying to sleep can be.

To help fill that emptiness, here's a face full of stickers.

Wednesday can't come soon enough!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Finn loves money - particularly coins.  They're dirty, they make a lot of noise when it you shake them around, and if the thing you're shaking them around in happens to blow open, they create lots of really painful projectiles that make Daddy scream like a little girl.

Plus, he's now pretty clear on the fact that one needs money to purchase the things one wants.  Up until recently, the only actual enjoyment Finn got from money at a store was when I took him to cash in ten years worth of pocket change at the grocery store Coinstar machine.   Unfortunately for him, all he got out of that was a crash course in infectious disease, since those machines are disgusting.  But now that I'm regularly using the "I don't have any money" excuse whenever Finn senses that we have come within 10 miles of a toy store, he's starting to realize that money might actually be something that he wants to get his hands on.

So last weekend was a big event for Finn.  After scrounging up all of the shrapnel/coins that were laying around the living room, he used "his" money to buy something that he wanted at the store.  We dug through all of the coins before we went, sorting them out by type and value.  Somehow a 2 Euro coin had gotten into the mix and I had to explain that those didn't work here.  He looked at it in disgust and told me to, "Take it back to Europe."  I was so proud.

Once we got to the store, we had to figure out how we were going to spend the three dollars we had scrounged up.  He initially wanted a case of ice cream bars, but those were six dollars.  He then wanted a case of cupcakes, but again he was short.  Eventually, we were able to find a single cupcake in his price range and we let him bring it to the cashier and pay for it out of his "wallet", which is a lovely - and very dirty - Ziploc bag.

Now that we've got the exchange-of-money-for-goods thing down, the next step is to teach him the sense of reward that comes from using your money to buy things for other people.  Not interested in wasting any time, I started that lesson last weekend as well, when I made him buy me a cupcake.

I hope all lessons are that delicious.


The picture above is from the Boeing Museum of Flight, which Finn and I also hit last weekend with Archer & Cyrus.  That's a shot from inside the Concorde that they have on display there.  As you can see, it's not very big and they don't trust anyone to actually sit on the seats.  This is in contrast to the gift shop, which is enormous and which they have no problem putting all purchasable items directly within a child's reach.

The place was packed and I lost Finn momentarily.  As I was frantically searching for him, I could barely hear his little voice repeating "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy..."  This only made me more frantic, until I almost tripped over him, sitting on the floor, checking out a Lego airport set.  He looked up at me and in a very unconcerned voice asked, "Can you buy this for me?"

I think it's time for another cupcake lesson.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hand me downs, cont.

That last picture really didn't do the situation justice. This is the picture Kitty just sent me.

I don't think I'm going home. There's no room for me in that house anymore.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Hand-me-downs are great.  They save the recipient tons of money and they're a great way to recycle something that kids seem to burn through so quickly.  They're particularly helpful when your kids are Finn's age and younger - e.g., before they're old enough to resent them.  I figure that we've got a couple more years from which to squeeze the bags and bags of clothes that we're still getting from our friends before Finn begins to question why his jeans come pre-grass-stained in the knees.

Of course, the downside of this situation is that we've up to recently been in possession of the last boy amongst our friends.  That means we're at the bottom of the hill down which all boys' clothing currently rolls, resulting in a situation like the one you see at right.  This is Kitty's latest attempt to work through these bags and sort them into sizes so we can throw them all haphazardly back into a closet.

I liked hand-me-downs much better before they took over every square inch of living space in my house.

On the other hand, perhaps it's a good thing that we have so many clothes.  Apropos of nothing last night, Finn announced:  "Sometimes when I poop a lot, I need to wear shorts."

When pressed for an explanation, he would only repeat: "Sometimes when I poop hard a lot, I wear shorts,"  as if adding the word "hard" to the sentence would explain everything.

Given how well he poops, I hope there are lots of shorts in those bins.

Monday, October 3, 2011


For the last three months, this has been Finn's favorite "book":

Seriously, for the last three months, Finn has not let this thing out of his sight.  Look how destroyed it is.  He brings it to school.  He asks us to read it to him.  He is clearly this costume store's biggest fan and key demographic, which is apparently why they sent this to him in July.

At first I thought it might be the catalog's disturbingly revealing little girl get-ups that he likes so much, but it quickly became apparent that his real crush was the cover model:  Green Lantern.  He's never so much as seen a Green Lantern comic book or watched a single episode of the old Justice League cartoons, but he's been unwavering in his assertion that he wants to be Green Lantern this Halloween.

As a former comic book junkie, this pains me.  I'd place Green Lantern one step above Aquaman on the Superhero Lame-scale.  At least when Entourage talked about doing an Aquaman movie, they were joking.  Finn clearly didn't get the joke.

No matter how hard I'd push for Batman or Star Wars, he's stuck to his Green Lantern guns - which is just a reminder of how much easier life was before opinions.  Of course we caved, and we got him his Green Lantern costume.  Sure that this would result in a Halloween like last year where he'd refuse to wear the costume the minute it arrived, we made him put it on last night.

Ryan Reynolds, eat your heart out.

The best part?  Target had a cool ironic Green Lantern t-shirt on sale, so I'm going to swallow my nerd pride and accompany my son as a much bigger, significantly less cool, but more ironic Green Lantern.

Don't tell Batman.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finny being Finny

Building on the success of basement baseball, Finn and I spent the last few sunny Seattle summer days in the backyard this weekend working off of the tee.  While my pitching is the stuff of basement baseball legend, the tee definitely affords Finn a little more predictability in ball placement and allows us to really work on the fundamentals, i.e., the proper method of sticking out one's tongue.

Jordan may have perfected the look for a basketball player, but professional baseball is sorely lacking in this department.  Notice how intimidated the tee is.  It really works.

Unfortunately, we were only able to get about ten good swings in before he lost interest and started throwing the ball against the house yelling "Doofa!", which is a multi-purpose Finnese word, but in this case I believe it stood for,"I'm done with you, old man!"

I was happy to get those ten swings.  Far from criticizing his form at this point, I'm just hoping to get him hooked on an activity that we can share.  His existing hobbies of eating dirt and incessantly begging to watch Bob the Builder are somewhat limited insofar as my enjoyment goes.

As I think forward to his inevitable pro career, it occurs to me that we're going to need some Fun Trivia Facts to show under his name and picture up on the big screen at the stadium when he comes to bat.  While I'm not sure "Dirt" would be a good answer for "Favorite Food," I'm positive that we can do better than some of the Mariners.  Ichiro's favorite off-season activity?  Baseball.  Franklin Gutierrez's favorite?  Vacationing.  Don't you feel like you know them so much better now?

While we work that out, at least the kid has shown that he's not afraid to get a little dinged up.

I just hope Major League Baseball has a healthy supply of Cars band-aids for these knees.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This was a great sports weekend.  Even though the sport pages will tell you that the Yankees dropped two out of three to the Blue Jays, that the Nittany Lions eeked out an embarrassingly slim victory over perennial punching bag Temple killing any chances at a return to the Top 25, and that the Seahawks got blanked on the road, I'd still call it a complete success for two reasons.

First, this weekend marked Finn's first request to play catch.  Granted, he wanted to play catch with the toy basketball in the basement, but he still said, "Dad, let's play catch."  I got choked up.  It was just like Field of Dreams.  Plus, he was actually able to catch the ball when I threw it to him.  I used to state that Finn was destined to play shortstop for the Yankees on these very pages, but I haven't done that in a while.  Mostly because he has proved to be terrible at catching balls with anything other than his face.

But not anymore!  Whereas I used to have to very carefully toss the ball directly into the area where his hands were already clenched in order for him to catch it, this weekend he deftly picked the ball out of the air time after time like he was intercepting either of Penn State's ridiculously poor excuses for a quarterback.  Plus, once he picked up the bat, he was able to make contact on enough pitches that he easily could have made the top of the Mariners batting order.  Finally, when we took that basketball and pointed it at the hoop, he nailed four in a row from about 10 feet out.  Amazing, even if the hoop is only three feet off the ground.

I have no idea where this athletic talent suddenly emerged from, but I'm pretty sure it's not his Y chromosome.  For all my big talk and fandom, the only sport skills he's going to pick up from me are the ability to look incredibly awkward in tiny little track shorts, prodigious mediocrity across the board, and an affinity for drinking games.

Even so, it's nice to see that my dreams of retiring on his talents are still alive.

Second, this weekend marked the return of the Puyallup Fair and with it, the greatest spectator sport known to man:  Mutton Bustin'.  

That's not Finn in the picture, but it will be next year.

I don't know whether it was the wet weather or if we just got lucky with a good crop of sheep jockeys, but the Busters this year were awesome.  We saw at least four kids go the distance.  Maybe wet wool is easier to hold onto, but it was impressive.

Finn kept saying that he wanted to ride, but given how he reacted when we put him on the stairs to the slide by himself immediately following this, I'm pretty sure he was just talking smack.  He does like the mud, though, so I'm really hoping that next year is our year.  You can ride until you're six, so we've got some time.

Of course, if we've got major league scouts sniffing around, I may need to put the kibosh on the whole thing.  We can't risk my... er, our future financial security.

What we can risk, however, is our arteries.  Since I chickened out last year, I was determined to end my fest with a Krispy Kreme fried chicken sandwich this year.  Behold, you can actually see my heart attacking.

Now that's good doughnut.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It's turning into spider season here in the northwest, when the entire town turns into a big sticky web, and this doesn't sit well with Finn.  As we were dodging webs on the way to the car this morning, Finn taught me a new word: "spited".  This is apparently a cross between 'spider' and 'smite' and therefore means: "to be killed by spiders as you try to squeeze into your car seat."

Used in a sentence:  "Daddy, don't let me get spited!"

I successfully kept him from getting spited... but only after he said "please".  Because we're totally hard-asses like that.

Apparently only the threat of getting spited is enough to actually squeeze a please out of this kid, since normally getting him to show any common courtesy at all is like getting him to pull his hand out of his nose.  That is to say, it's not easy - though far less disturbing at a restaurant dinner table.

And though we try not to make it a battle of wills, let's just say that he's spent many an hour locked in the backseat of the car in a hot parking lot with his windows rolled all the way up because he didn't say please when he asked to come inside the water park.

Oh, if only.  That sure sounds like it would work.  Instead, we're forced to use bribery to show how much cool stuff kids that say "please" and "thank you" get, like ice cream and cookies and college funds.  Turning our kid into a polite adult is going to break the bank.

Sometimes he'll happily accept a request, announcing "of course I will" when asked to do something or throwing in a random unprompted "thank you", but still very few pleases that don't come with threats or treats.  Very unpredictable.

But then again, he's an unpredictable kid.  This morning, after I saved him from being spited, as I was leaving daycare I asked him to take off his shoes so he could go play with his friends.  I turned around just in time to see him taking off his pants.

That surprised me, because in my experience, it ALWAYS takes a "please"  to get someone else to take off their pants.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One Crazy Summer

I know that there are only 3 people that still read this blog - and two of them live in my house - so for my other reader, apologies for the total lack of posts this summer.  It is not representative of a lack of caring on my part, or a lack of cute on Finn's part, but simply a lack of time.

In the last nine weeks, I've apparently only spent two weekends at home with the remainder of the time spent gallivanting around the country both with family and without picking up all sorts of exotic diseases. Finn and I did run into Ken Burns in the Dallas airport, and he apparently thinks little kids who travel on airplanes in Superman pajamas are cute, which I agree with, provided there is an outlet underneath the seat to keep the DVD player charged.

I also happen to think that Ken Burns would be cute if he traveled in Superman pajamas, but alas I didn't think to share that with him, just shooting a loud, "Finn, you should be very excited that Emmy Award winning documentarian Ken Burns just complemented you!" over my shoulder as we raced toward the nearest bathroom.  You know, because I'm sure his ego needed that.

We also spent time back in NY, hunting Lyme ticks and learning that a three year old expects more from his grandmother's 65th birthday party than a catered dinner and an open bar, commenting "this isn't a party."  Ingrate.

But mostly I learned that my son is growing up really, really fast, as evidenced by the fact that his increasing whining vocabulary, his ability to argue with me in fully formed sentences and the fact that we no longer get to pre-board the airplane.

However, it delights me to no end that despite all of these things, all he needs to be happy is a big pile of dirt and a couple of diggers.  If only we had thought to serve that at Grandma Parker's birthday party.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whispering Win

One of those counter-intuitive parenting lessons that I've only recently actually come to appreciate is that yelling at my kid really isn't the most effective means of changing his behavior.  Sure it works in the short-term, particularly if you really want to put a scare into him, but long-term he appears to have developed a yelling tolerance, which results in louder, more prolonged yelling, and so on and so forth until you're screaming yourself blue in the face while your kid continues to happily dump an entire sandbox worth of dirt on your kitchen floor.

The positive discipline disciples will echo this and will tell you to speak in an even voice and use matter-of-fact language when correcting behavior.  The problem is that that approach is extremely unsatisfying.  I've come to really enjoy yelling and just speaking matter-of-factly doesn't feel like it's actually accomplishing anything.  So I've decided to go in another direction.  I whisper.

Turns out that whispering is incredibly effective with Finn.  He'll immediately (usually) stop what he's doing and really pay attention to what you're saying - since I'm guessing he can't really hear me and wants to make sure he's not being offered a cookie.  Regardless, it's become a very dependable means of halting bad behavior without him just tuning me out.

Of course, it helps that whispering really, really annoys Finn in general.  I mean, he really hates it.  I was walking him downstairs this morning, whispering that we were going to sneak up on his Mommy - to which he reacted by hitting me in the face for whispering.  In his defense, he was still waking up and he did ask me to stop whispering... twice... which I didn't.

But that doesn't make it right.  You'd better believe I was upset.  And you know what happens when I'm upset with Finn.

That's right.  He got a good whispering-to.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs.

Let's give it up for my boy Finn and his newfound bladder control.  Potty training has been a long endeavor, going back about a year now with a couple of stops & starts.  We clearly forced the first attempt on him before he was ready... and the second attempt... but this time around, we let him set the pace.  I never thought I'd be this excited about two self-motivated trips to the bathroom in one evening, but here we are.

Of course, I don't want to jinx it.  I feel like an athlete that's been asked about the playoffs after a mid-season three-game winning streak.

"Well, we're seeing the toilet well right now, but we can't get ahead of ourselves.  We just need to focus on tomorrow.  It's a good bladder we got here.  We're just going to have to take it pee by pee."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Movie Night

Happiness is a Friday night, a popcorn dinner and Cars 2 on the big screen.

And I'm pretty sure Finn thinks so too.

-- Post From My iPhone, in Radiator Springs

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Here's what I learned while I was away from home for work the past two weeks:
  1. A wiener schnitzel is not a fancy hot dog. Similarly, an andoulliette is not a small andouille sausage.
  2. They must use a different "star" scale for hotels in Europe. Similarly, "Comfort Inn" must have a different meaning in British English than it does in American.
  3. Read the fine print if booking a half-day tour from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Apparently, "half-day" in Hebrew = "find your own way home".
But mostly I learned that 10 days is a really really long time to be away from my family.

Not that it was all bad, mind you. Apparently without me around to spoil him, Finn learned how to dress himself without whining, how to say "please" without additional prompting and in general how to be a fine upstanding member of this family.

Let's see how long it takes me to undo all of that good work.

It's good to be home!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What came first, the booger or the scab?

Finn has developed a new favorite hobby.  The good:  it's free and he really seems to enjoy it.  The bad:  he hasn't yet learned that you're only supposed to enjoy it in the privacy of your own totally exposed car in rush hour traffic, like your Daddy.

No, it's not head-banging to vintage Winger. It's picking his nose.

And he REALLY likes it.  I estimate that Kitty and I now spend roughly 1/3 of our lives smacking his hand away from his face, since the Positive Discipline books don't have a chapter on resolving this through love and/or logic.

The issue isn't so much that he's picking his nose, but that he's doing it really poorly.  He'll be blatantly mining for gold at the restaurant dinner table, he'll be picking a winner right before grabbing a toy at the playground, he'll be исследовать просторы носа/ноздрей - which apparently is a Russian euphemism for digging boogers out of your face - right before grabbing a grabbing a piece of food out of a shared bowl/bag.

And it's not just that he's doing it in so obvious a fashion, but that he's also apparently injuring himself in the act.  We've noticed that he's now got a scab in his go-to right nostril.  I believe that the scab is a result of his energetic snot mining.  Kitty maintains that it's the itchiness of the scab that is causing him to appear to be picking his nose.

I fear that this disagreement may continue well into Finn's adulthood.

Perhaps while we await the ultimate resolution of that discussion, I can teach him the ol' stealth pretend-to-be-scratching-your-nose move to at least cut down on the public embarrassment.

Plus, if he's taking a more modest approach, he'll be far less likely to seriously injure himself while head-banging to vintage Winger in the car. It certainly works for me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

You are our rock and our roll. What would we do without you? Someone has to be the one to give the kid a chocolate cupcake at at 7:45 PM at night (last night). I warned of poor (craaazy) judgement, but the post cupcake walk/run/jump/dance around the neighborhood was more than entertaining (and worth it). Plus we now have a strategy for today, when the Ninja skips his first nap EVER in favor of the Mariners game at 1:00 PM. We know baseball is a close second behind your family and threatening all the time, especially during the playoffs. So bring on the cupcakes and let's hit the ballpark. Besides, if he crashes, it's only the Mariners after all.

Happy Father's Day Woody. We LOVE you and Finn says you are the best Dad he has ever had.

Happy Father's day to Grandpa Finn and Grandpa Parker too!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cupcake hangovers are the WORST

Kitty was out of town this past weekend, cashing in some of the chips she earned while I was on the Cabo bachelor party a couple of weeks back.  While she was gone, Finn and I set new personal pizza bests, eating it for every meal for three straight days.  We broke that streak only so we could attend a barbecue, where we both finally had a healthy meal... of cupcakes.


They were delicious.

As always, the picture says it all.  This is what happens after three straight days of pizza, topped with four cupcakes.

Cyrus does not appear to be impressed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kicking your hands all over the place

Freddy Mercury stopped by our house at the crack of 8:30 am Saturday morning.  Clearly, he didn't appreciate the fact that I was still in bed, so he decided to break out a window-rattling version of "We Will Rock You."  I stumbled bleary-eyed downstairs to give Mr. Mercury a good talking-to and was confronted by the sight of Finn and Kitty rocking out to Queen in the living room.

Apparently, Kitty had asked Finn if he wanted to sing a song, expecting a request for the house favorite Garbage Truck and/or Fire Truck Song.  Finn broke character, however, and specifically requested "We Will Rock You."  After confirming that he really did mean the Queen song, she obliged by cranking it up to 11.

Even more surprising than him knowing the song was the fact that he knew many of the words, even though I'm pretty sure the line is "kicking your can all over the place," rather than, "kicking your hands all over the place."  Don't bother trying to convince Finn of that.  He'll happily demonstrate what kicking one's hands all over the place looks like.  Of course, he needs to do it sitting down.

I'm just happy that he knows some rock and roll lyrics.  For a couple of people that spent their entire future retirement savings and son's potential college education on concert tickets and "incidentals", we've done a terrible job of introducing him to music.

In fact, up until this point, I'm pretty sure the only song he knew the lyrics to was "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus.  While it is cute to hear him singing about throwing his hands up and moving his hips, I'd much prefer him to not be the guy in the Hannah Montana t-shirt getting beat up on his first day of kindergarten.

Of course, if the bullies do come at him, he can always kick their hands all over the place.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer sports

Sunshine has finally arrived in Seattle... for the moment... and with it comes Finn's favorite summer sport.  It's kind of a combination of horseshoes, baseball and straight up chillin' in a bathrobe that's 2 sizes too small.

We call it Ninjaball.  You should try it.  It's awesome.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

220, 221... whatever it takes

Finn's ear infections have been nothing if not consistent.  It's gotten to the point where the appearance of even a drop of snot from his nose means that we have roughly one week before an eardrum ruptures if left untreated.  We've long since passed even our non-hippie doctor's comfort level with prescribing antibiotics, so we attack his ears at the first sign of congestion with garlic drops and crank up the humidifier in his room.

The only thing we've found to have any success in putting them off is body work, and so it was that Finn and I found ourselves at the chiropractor this week.  As a master appointment-scheduler, I chose rush hour as the perfect time for our downtown appointment.  And Jena chose the moment I was trying to navigate through downtown to text me and inform me that Finn was wearing underwear, rather than the afternoon pull-up - as his deadbeat parents had not stocked his daycare bin.

No worries, we were still halfway potty-trained, right?  After making it up to the chiropractor's office and getting the bathroom key so that I could use it, I asked Finn if he had to use the potty too.

"Yes, I do.  My pants are wet."

They sure were.  And given that I hadn't anticipated the underwear, I didn't have any backup.  Remember that scene in Mr. Mom when Michael Keaton is drying the baby off by holding him up to the hand-dryer in the bathroom?

I wish.  I would have given anything for the chiropractor's bathroom to have had a hand dryer.  Instead, I stripped Finn naked, smeared his pants with soap and attempted to furiously clean them with paper towels - taking a quick break to call Kitty to see if she had any motherly advice (nope) and to snap the picture above.  Do you know how long it takes to dry pants using just paper towels?  Let's just say that it's a very good thing we were 15 minutes early.

Once we got in to see the doctor, I wasn't quite sure how to bring it up without embarrassing Finn.  Of course, once El Dampo-pants had hopped up on his table, I realized it was already too late.  Fortunately, the doctor didn't seem to notice.  Or at least, he was nice enough not to mention it.

But back to the original problem, hopefully this chiropractic work fixes the ear infections because Finn is currently hemorrhaging snot.  After dinner tonight, he was urging us to come outside to see his "painting".  When I got out there, he was rubbing his nose all over the back of his chair.

"Look, I'm painting it yellow!"


Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm not making him cry, he's making himself cry

In honor of the Yankees choking it up this weekend, I present this awesome video in the event that you have not yet seen it:

I'd like to think that I wouldn't be pestering Finn like this in the unimaginable event that he professed a love of the Red Sox over the Yankees, but I know I'm kidding myself.

I'd probably spit on him.

Let's hope that we never find out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Few things in life are as satisfying for me as pulling an enormous dandelion from my lawn and discovering its 6 inch root. Every successful extraction without any root breakage is an event to be celebrated, as evidenced by my mad dash from the front lawn, up the front steps and up two flights of stairs to show the monster I pulled on Saturday to Kitty... who happened to be in the shower.

She was suitably impressed.

As the proud owners of the requisite Seattle lawn ladybug sign, we have eschewed pesticides and herbicides, which means it's me against the weeds. Mano a rooto. And with my trusty weed hound in hand, I prevail.

Unfortunately, my pleasure comes at my son's expense.  I've taken away one of the joys of spring:  making a wish and blowing dandelion seeds on a warm spring day.

You can play "mama had a baby and its head popped off" all you want, but blowing dandelion seeds in my lawn will earn you a night in the box.  I don't care whose son you are.

Luckily, once again, he's got school.  Check it out.

I'm positive Finn's secret was that he wished he could do this at home, but he didn't want to tell Jena out of fear of fatherly reprisal.

Smart boy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mommy Day!

If there is one thing that consistently sets Mother's Day apart from all others, it's the absence of any mothers at the grocery store at 7 AM. That place looked like a single Dad support group this morning.

To the Ninja mother, who keeps the family fed, clothed and healthy, words cannot express what you mean to us. Luckily, that's why God invented flowers. And grocery stores that open at the crack of dawn.

Happy Mother's Day, to Ninja moms everywhere. If Finn had his druthers, he would have bought you all cards. And then he would have disregarded every piece of advice his collective fathers would have given him and told you all about it last night.

Lousy secret-keeper.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the taco truck...

It's been a busy week. It started with Grandpa Finn's visit over the weekend, extended into a couple of 11 hour days at the office, included a dual-40th birthday party, the beginning of softball season and a company Mariners outing. By tonight, all I wanted to do was hang out with Finn.

With Kitty working late, we were instructed to head to the taco truck - our current favorite West Seattle fine dining establishment - for dinner. As I was picking Finn up from Jena's, he asked if I had to go to the baseball game. I told that I wouldn't be going anywhere tonight, that I just wanted to hang out with him.

I asked him if he wanted tacos and he said no. I asked him where he wanted to go for dinner. He replied that he didn't want to go to dinner. He just wanted to hang out with me.

That earned him a trip to Giannoni's for pizza and a Mighty Machines Power Pack at Target.

I don't care if he was playing me. That was worth it. I even let him brush my teeth as I tried to brush his, as seen above.

And yes, it is as fun as it looks. Until he stabs you in the back of the throat.

Incidentally, as a YouTube digger/firetruck/garbage truck addict, I thought he had seen them all. That is, until I found this. I think it literally blew his mind, particularly because we watched it right after his third birthday. Freaky.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Here are a couple of things that I learned from the Internets today:
  1. Jena runs a sweatshop - or as she puts it, a "meaningful jobs" shop
  2. Finn knows how to use a fork
Check it out:
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The fork thing is the more surprising of the two - because I think we all knew what was really going on in Scott & Jena's basement - insofar as I had come to believe that the only proper use of a fork in Finn's hand was to hit me in the face during dinner.

Things are going to get much more complicated for Finn, now that his true cleaning & eating capabilities are out in the open. Thank goodness someone is teaching this kid some life skills, because it sure ain't happening on my watch.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

... does it come in "Lightning McQueen" red?

"Oooh, that's a nice bag!"

- overheard as Finn opened the computer and noticed the website Mommy had last been looking at; clearly this was a set-up job

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Like Pulling Teeth

Here's what I learned last week, aside from the fact that 38 is a boring birthday: taking your three-year-old son to the dentist is worse than going to the dentist yourself. And lest you think that's because he was difficult, allow me to clarify: he didn't mind in the least. Now, he wasn't as excited this time as he was the first time we went, when he spent the next two weeks begging me to take him back to the dentist so he could play with their toys, but he still didn't bat an eye. He was cool as a cucumber, following everyone's instructions and never once complaining or crying.

I - on the other hand - was freaking out. Just watching the incredibly nice hygienist lady move in with her torture tools had me squeezing Finn's hand more for my benefit than his (see: white-knuckled hand in accompanying picture).

I suppose this is my karmic payback for taunting my parents' dentist friend by calling Finn's baby teeth "training teeth" and telling him that brushing isn't important because they're going to fall out anyway, as I fed him another lemon.

Despite my utter disregard for my son's oral health, his teeth are fine. All screwed up alignment-wise, just like his daddy's, but take it from me that a lifetime of orthodontia leaves one with a comforting humility and healthy sense of humor. You never take yourself very seriously again after you've had to wear the Frankel:

Of course, I can imagine that the only worse than wearing the Frankel is paying for the Frankel. I wonder if I've still got my old one laying around...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whose birthday was it, anyway?

So it was my birthday on Wednesday, but I'm pretty sure Finn had a better day, since he got to tour Zeek's pizza.

That totally beats my day, where I was showered with such deep thoughts as: "Just so you know, you are now equidistant from being legal to drink (21) to getting your AARP card (55)."

Thanks Dave.

For more of Finn's pizza tour, check out Jena's excellent blog here.

I'm pretty sure daycare wasn't this cool when I was three.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

... because, you're about to find out

"Finn, do you know what PMS is?"

- Overheard in the bathroom tonight as Kitty was trying (unsuccessfully) to get Finn to brush his teeth

Monday, March 28, 2011

Farty Birthday

Finn and I had a lovely walk home from dinner last night - just us guys - where we alternately discussed who had farted last, who had farted loudest, and upon our return while lying in his bed last night, the proper method of cleaning a fart. (Spoiler alert: Per Finn, it's in the sink with a toothbrush.)

And so I say to you, Finn, on the third anniversary of your birth, that there is literally nowhere on Earth I would rather be than discussing farts with you.

Happy birthday, big guy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trapped In the Closet

One of my fondest memories growing up is the time that I spent the weekend at the Concord with my friend Dave & his family at a convention they were attending. The weekend was memorable for a couple of reasons: the Concord had a sick arcade (and I could play a mean Zaxxon) and the convention had all kinds of freebies, like these slick little paper cutters that made us feel like we were packing heat. But the biggest hit was the fact that his parents let us sleep in the closet of the hotel room. I slept near the door and Dave slept on the elevated interior, which meant that he rolled down on top of me a couple of times, but that didn't matter because it felt like we had our own - poorly decorated and awfully cramped - little world in that closet.

I'm hoping that's exactly how excited Finn was when we pitched him into the closet of our room at my parents' house in Key West, as shown above.

In preparation for his weekend sharing digs with the laundry, we moved him out of his crib earlier this month. This was a big step - probably more so for Mommy, who had a hard time letting go of the crib and has even moved his crib bumper into his new bed - but it was overdue. If left to his own devices, Finn would have happily been carried to college in his crib, having never shown one iota of interest in leaving it.

Finn offered to help me break the crib down and even went and grabbed his plastic saw, which reminded me of how I put the crib together. I've never been one for reading directions too carefully, mostly just glancing at the pictures and trusting that I'll figure out how to make it all fit together. This approach works great when I'm playing around with software on the computer, but the confidence is questionable in the real world considering that it's never worked. Not once.

The crib was no exception. I got it 75% put-together, but the side rails weren't quite lining up. They were too wide for the frame by about an inch. After swearing at whatever illiterate Chinese sweatshop kid had managed to screw this up, I attempted to fix the issue the only way I knew how: with the circular saw. After cutting off both sides on one rail, I realized that I couldn't possibly cut off the sides on the other since there were pieces on it that were clearly needed to attach it to the sides of the crib. After scratching my head for an hour or two, I decided to do the unthinkable: read the directions.

It was then that I learned that I had used the wrong bolt holes to assemble the frame. Once that was fixed, the whole thing fit together perfectly - on the untouched side. Once I managed to locate and reattach the pieces I had previously sawed off, I was able to get the whole thing together again, albeit with a nice scar on the back rail to remind me of what an idiot I am.

It's a good thing that I'm not going to be my son's only male role model. He'll also have my brother, who knows his way around a tool box. Here he is showing Finn how use a power drill to reattach the [insert critical part] that I have mistakenly removed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Key West

We have just returned from a much-needed vacation to the new Parker family compound in Key West, where the weather was criminally good, the company was outstanding, and new cousin Alex impressed the whole family with every smile and gurgle. Finn, in turn, wowed his easily-impressed Grandparents with his broken English and prodigious dirt-eating.

Seriously, that kid ate at least a pound of dirt a day.

And in case you're wondering, yes that is actually Marilyn Monroe alive and well in Key West. The likeness of Finn, however, is a statue. Amazing attention to detail. Notice the dirt ring around his mouth.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Conversational skills

Talking to Finn is increasingly easier. He's able to not only articulate his thoughts in the form of infuriating opinions, but he's also starting to respond in a more thoughtful manner.

For example, tonight we were discussing the importance of washing one's hands:
Me: Washing hands is important. Even Tango washes his hands.
Finn: Tango doesn't wash his hands because Tango doesn't have hands.
Finn: Tango throws up on the floor every day and we have to be careful not to step in it because then we would have to wash our feet. And that would get the towels wet.
Finn: And the washing machine doesn't use water.

Kind of a head-scratching finale - though if the washing machine doesn't actually use water, that would explain why it's the only appliance in our house that hasn't flooded the joint. He was either practicing his mom's conversation skills, whereby the speaker randomly eliminates portions of the conversation that he or she deems wasteful without informing the listener, or he was practicing his pre-school Charlie Sheen.

Which begs the question, when do random divergent comments like that go from being adorable to being cause for concern? If he doesn't figure this out before college, he's going to find himself in the "challenging" major of Communications, like his old man and the entire Penn State football team.

Speaking of, I think he's ready for college. He's proven that he's already a deep thinker. He had a major existential meltdown the other day when we passed an excavator that didn't have a dump truck.


We had to pull over. It was heavy, man.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yelling Procedure

Discovered this image on Found the other day:

This is fantastic advice. Kitty should enforce this for both me and Finn. Unfortunately, I think we're going to have a problem with question #5. Finn thinks our house is red. I have no idea what you call the color, but I'm pretty sure it's not red.

We're screwed. I hope there's a TV in this hallway.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Finn started the day on the right foot today, informing his Mommy that he liked her scarf.

This is impressive in that it's the first compliment he's ever dished out. Given how sick the whole family has been this week, it's also one of the first things that he's said in days that wasn't attached to vomit. It's also a nice change of pace from the typical topics he reserves his words for, such as barking orders for more "garbage truck songs" on YouTube or complaining about having to spend five seconds on the potty.

He's taken an early lead in the Compliment-Mommy-Off that's bound to result, as I deal with the inevitable, "Your two-year-old son said he liked my scarf. Why don't you ever compliment me like that?"

Keep it up, kid. See if I'm so free with the popsicles next time you catch the flu.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Children are born thieves. They steal your money. They steal your youth. And they apparently even steal your favorite color.

Until very recently, my favorite color was blue, however Finn has informed me that my new favorite color is red. This is due to the fact that he has appropriated blue as his favorite color, and he is apparently unwilling or unable to share.

Red's cool, I guess. Fire trucks are red and I too like fire trucks.

But if he steals the Yankees, pizza - or God forbid, Journey - from me, we're going to have a problem.

Please boy, at least leave me with my Steve Perry:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Suffering in Silence

Poseidon and all of his little water god buddies are clearly still unhappy with us. Maybe it's because I call them all "little water god buddies" or maybe it's because I never really lived up to my wedding vow promise to Kitty to "stop at every swimming hole" (turns out there are a lot of swimming holes!), but whatever it is, they continue to punish us.

This time, they've decided to blow out the underground water line between the street and our house. At least I assume that's where the leak is, since for once I can't locate it by soaking wet carpet/ceiling. It's been a very quiet leak, one that we only confirmed last week when Kitty could hear water running through a pipe by our outdoor spigot and which explains our ever increasing water bills. I had thought they were just "potty training" laundry bills.

We've been doing a lot of laundry.

Identifying and diagnosing a problem like this is not dissimilar to how it used to be trying to figure out if something was wrong with Finn. You could tell when he was acting out of sorts, like I could tell our water bill wasn't quite right, but if there's nothing visible and if your kid/pipe can't talk, you're left either waiting to see if something big happens or you rush off to the doctor/plumber, leading to your friends/neighbors diagnosing you with new-parent/rich-loser disease.

It's great once your kid starts talking, since now he can inform you of exactly what's bothering him. This greatly helps your decision tree. For example, prolonged ear pain is probably worth a trip to the doctor, whereas acute Bob the Builder deficiency can be easily remedied in the basement.

That assumes your child will tell you when something is wrong. An assumption that Finn confounded today when his eardrum exploded out of nowhere.

Well, not totally out of nowhere. He mentioned as we were getting ready for bed last night that he had an earache. And this morning, the contents of his head were pouring from his ear. The doctor confirmed a ruptured eardrum, due to severe infection, on one side and a less-serious infection on the other which means only one thing: this kid is much tougher than I am, as I would have been begging for death with that going on in my head.

On the upside, the rupturing of the eardrum apparently eliminated the pain and now he's back to his usual cheerful, snotty self. With that having resolved itself, maybe the outside leak will do the same before the plumber gets here on Tuesday. Either that, or somehow every bathroom fixture in our house will simultaneously explode in slow motion while the 1812 Overture plays on the stereo.

More likely the latter.

Poseidon Rules!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cat's in the Cradle

I was gone for the first half of last week on business again. This is what Finn looked like before I left:

And this is what he looked like when I got back:

What a difference four days makes.

Particularly when that four days is actually two years. I was really just looking for an excuse to show these pictures side by side. I can't get enough of how much he's grown... or how little I remember him being as tiny as he is in that first shot.

I also can't get enough of what a weird photo prop that giant jellyfish/uterus is.

Stay classy, Seattle Aquarium.