Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Miles is awfully fearless. He's our little two year-old bull-in-a-China-shoppe. He's been voted "Most Likely to Have Stitches Before Age Five" by the rest of his pre-pre-school classmates. All that said, My-My he has little sprinkles of total innocence that sparkle through his Evil Knievel exterior. One of those dashes of purity is the quiet, whispering way Miles says, "Wooooooooow" anytime something blows his mind. I suppose it is sweet that you can still elicit this response -- for the time being -- just be showing him a really cool Lego or a dead bug with holding up a Playboy centerfold right behind it.

I finally realized, tonight, that, yes, you can flip the screen of the camera around to get Miles' wow-face while simultaneously taking a picture of wow-face! Ladies and Gentleman! I present, wow-face!

The Art of the Harangue or My Little Perspective Machine

Like any good “ism” -- Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism, Modernism, what have you – your ideology needs a central tenet. In Marxism, of course, history moves forward in a dialectic. Capitalist pigs will become Communists once they realize the folly of their silly individuality and money-grubbing ways. Dialectic! Parenting kinda works the same way: the parental ideology goes head-to-head with the little bastard ideology until somebody gets their goddamn ice cream. . . .or not.

If we have a central thought to our parenting, it’s basically of the “Short leash now, long leash later” mindset. The idea being, I guess, that if we hammer things down now, they don’t come loose a few years from now when we aren’t with them every second of the day. As in, hopefully, I don’t have to follow people around the house, turning off lights; or, getting tossed in your room for sticking your tongue out at me means, 12 years from now, I don’t have to be picking you up at the police station regularly. Yes, I wish me luck too.

Much like any of the aforementioned “isms”, they’re great in theory (Socialism: everybody gets stuff and we’re all happy! Capitalism: everybody gets stuff and we’re all happy!) putting that theory to work can be a little trickier. With Parenting-ism, our little “short leash” experiment results in a lot of haranguing. Some might more politely call it debating, while another, equally accurate person might say nagging. I suppose it depends if you control the ice cream supply or not.

I don’t think this is a new or exciting theory of Parenting, it’s sort of just my way of rationalizing all the “No, Max! Max, no! Miles, stop it! Hey, eat your potato! Guys! Guys! Guys! Can we pick this up, please? Guys! Give that back to your brother! Give it back! Miles! Miles, could you not shovel that dirt onto your brother? Max, could you put on your pants for me, please? Max. Max. Max! Alright, I guess nobody wants ice cream.” that goes on around here. While it's tiring, I have to admit, it kinda works 'cause these boys can be amazingly polite and obedient.

But, admittedly, you can only push the harangue so far until even your kid let's you know you moved from firm parenting into asshole territory. To whit, one evening, not long before bathtime/bedtime:

Max: "Daddy, why are you so distracted tonight?"

Me, surprised/chagrined: "Wha. . What, Max?"

"Why are you so distracted tonight?"

At this point, of course, I knew he was just trying to express to me that I had been being a jerk most of the afternoon and evening. But, every moment is a teaching moment, right? So I tried to get him to flesh it out a little.

"Max, when you say "distracted", what do you mean?"

"Well, today you are just being mean to me and I'm sort tired of you yelling at me today."

"Oh, Max."

Here's where even the most hardcore parent should turn to jerkbag-flavored putty and so, that's what I did. I pulled Max close and told him I was sorry and while I'm always going to be a little bossy, I would try to be nicer about it in the future. Max growled his little "Ohhhh, Ooo-Kay" that he uses when he really doesn't think "OK", he's just too tired to argue about it anymore. Plus, he got his ice cream.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chip Off the Old Block, Chip Off the Old Block

Miles proves that not only is he ready to write full scripts for most of the sitcoms currently airing on broadcast television, he confirms that he, unlike his brother, is not an alien and is very much his father's son.

Here's a link for you facebookers since I'm too lazy to upload this to the FB:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fantastic Four

One of these days we need to convince Katie to throw a crappy party with crappy decorations and crappy cakes for horrible, ugly children just so the rest of us mortals needn't feel so very, very inadequate. Katie has no mercy for our fragile egos, though, so, if you're going to top Max's Fourth Birthday Party, you'll need to: Make more than two earth-moving machine themed cakes (Or perhaps one very, very large one). Make a excavator-themed runner for the table. Recover the dining room chairs to match the theme and, finally, hire a massive front loader to give the kids rides around the neighborhood in its bucket (Kidding!).

The amazing thing is, as awe-inspiring as her efforts are, there's no amount of obsessive Wes Anderson-esque decorating that could fully express how much we love this goofiest of goofball kids, Max. For every tantrum and episode of stupefying insubordination during the last four years, there are dozens of little (and big) moments made up entirely of crystalline wonderment. These moments, while they fill me pride and love and joy that pretty much percolates down to a molecular level, also come a tint of sadness. It is in those moments that I realize that a goofball this cute and good could not have possibly come from me, really, in any way. So, it is in those moments that I realize my son is an alien. An alien from a planet populated by horrible, beautiful angels so enchanting, by the time they've driven you insane, it's too late.

I for one, love the comforting feel of my strait-jacket and welcome my little alien overlords!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Missing: One Beach

At least one week of our blog-cation was predicated by an actual, real-life, use-your-vacation-time-for-something-other-than-home-improvement-projects vay-cation. Katie's parents, who live in some sort of magical commune down Florida way where, instead of running around barefoot; growing organic produce; selling hemp necklaces and having casual sex, the world revolves around playing golf and being retired, flew the whole fam-damily down to escape winter for one glorious week.

While it wasn't the warmest winter week Florida ever unloaded onto the tourist hordes, we still managed a full day at the beach and, most pleasantly, a guy could walk around barefoot and not find himself suddenly and awkwardly frozen to the ground, contrapposto. The Beach, I think, is particularly thankful it wasn't warmer because, seriously, the amount of damage that Max and Miles were able to incur in one day, armed with an array of plastic shovels and buckets was, um. . . impressive. Impressive and disturbing. Like, if they had more time, eventually the Florida DNR would have been forced to amend their "No at the beach" signs with Ghostbuster-style pictures of Max and Miles.

The boys' first plane trip went swimmingly. Max decided that watching DVDs wasn't worth the inconvenience of wearing headphones which left Miles alone with his favorite videos, blissed out at 39,000 feet. Max read books and was generally adorable while he peppered his accommodating travel neighbors with questions about their personal lives.

While I might say that picking a highlight would be tough: The yards of fried fish? Grandpa using a cordless drill to punch open a coconut? Cooking in a kitchen with a. space and b. awesome equipment? The endless supply of good beer and amazing wine? That coupled with the fact that we didn't have to drive anywhere? Katie finally giving in to her urges and feeding one seagull one cracker and then being surprised when every gull for two miles went all "Birds" on us? Nope. The highlight would be watching the boys totally bond with Grandpa TR and Grandma Sylvia: TR spent a good portion of our rainier day re-discovering Looney Tunes via the boys' current number one favorite DVD of all time, while Syl, Max, and Miles cultivated a mutual appreciation for fine antiques and the art of their preservation in the face of the inferno of destruction called "Grandchildren".

So, to Pop-pop and Gange, we say thanks for your hospitality and generosity! To the beach, we say Sorry! Hope you're feeling better! We'll be back!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Efficiency Expert

The boys have a lot of opinions about how we do things around here. Many of their beliefs are incorrect and based on flawed logic. Say what you will about their misapprehensions (When you help make waffles, the color of the chair you stand on matters. No, I don't need to come in right now. Is is actually not dinner time. I didn't want noodles, I wanted pilaf), you can't say Miles, at least, isn't organized about the whole deal.

Here's Miles observing and recording data about (possible) inefficiencies during dad's dishwashing. You may think you've have feelings of inadequacy before, but nothing comes close to having a two year-old take notes on your dish-doing. I could barely get out of bed the next morning, I was so depressed.

And, of course, I was devastated when the final report was leaked to the public before I had a chance to formulate a response.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

They Call Him Rio and He Dances on the Sand or Yes, We are Like Rabbits

Our little blog-break was long enough that another cousin fell out of the Max and Miles Cousin Tree. Super-cute cousin, Lucia, got a brother named Rio a few weeks ago. Much like Lucia, her brother has a heavy genetic predisposition to overwhelming cuteness. So much so, we might almost be able to forgive the fact that Duran Duran gets stuck in my head every time I look at/hear about/talk about/think the baby boy.

Eventually, someone will have to have a conversation with Rio explaining why Uncle breaks into a spastic rendition of "The Reflex" each time he comes around.

Until then: Welcome Rio!!

Cool Hand Max

I don't know: somewheres about 3-5 times a year, this will get stuck in my head. It's quite catchy! Sad thing is, I only remember one line which I will sing over and over. Katie loves it when I sing one line from a song over and over and over. Loves it! Now that I found this video, horrifically, I hear that I was even singing that one line incorrectly. It's like the time in fifth grade: I was singing The Eagle's "Heartache Tonight" wrong. (I think I was screwing up the "heartache tonight" part. You know, just that part.) Scott Morrison, rightly, about fell out of his desk and then ran to the first 15 people he could find to tell them I was messing up "Heartache Tonight". I think Sister Leonida laughed the hardest. Then she washed my mouth out with soap.

Of course, since I'm a dork, I've been singing it to/around Max his whole life and now I find out that I've been mangling one of the better moments in film history and, as a result, (like anyone is surprised), I've screwed up my kid! So, just as a parenting rule, do you admit you were wrong and start singing it correctly and then have to explain why? Or, more likely, do you sing it correctly only to have Max tell you you're singing it wrong (which he will) and just keep singing it wrong? Years from now, some film freak is going to pull up this clip on his YouTube Brain Chip (tm) and show Max another way his dad turned out to be quite a fallible dweeb. I see Max standing there, blinking, "My dad. . . was. . . was. . . wrong?!" Hopefully he'll be between 13 and 50 when he finds out so it won't come as too much of a surprise. Otherwise? Oh! The heartache. . . tonight.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jimmy B is in Da Houuuuuussssse!!!

18 Years Later . . . .

"Hi, Scootchie."

"Yo, Wuz-Wuz."

"Yo, Scootch, did I ever tell you about Jimmy B?"

"You mean, Jimmy B, the Jimmy B that ruled Chicago's West Side like a slightly-crazed benevolent dictator made from velvet and a hammer? Like he was a velvet hammer? A result of the deadly combination of fiery Irish blood co-mingled with the stoic genetic code of the mighty Slavs. The Jimmy B who, at the tender age of six, would shake down half the fifth grade, and take the loot back to his classmates, shouting, "Push-Ups on the hiz-ouse!!"? Jimmy B who would walk into an olde-timey screening of Stars Wars with his Dad and all the geek-dads and geek-kids would stand to wait until Jimmy B had picked his favorite seat? That Jimmy B?"

"Wait, Wuz, when you say "ruled the West Side", by "West Side", do you mean "a couple of blocks between his house and the Costco over there"? And by "ruled", do you mean "sort of bossy when amped up on chocolate milk"?

"Uhhh, yeah. Yeah, that's pretty much what I mean."

"Jimmy B."

"Jimmy B!"

Max, Miles, Katie and I would like to welcome new cousin, James William B____, to the universe! Congratulations to my sister and my brother-in-law!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tiny Bubbles in the Ocean

I don't really remember a time when I couldn't hold my breath under water. I have some weird memory of dipping underwater, face-to-face with my mom, practicing exaggerated, puff-cheeked breath-holds. I'm pretty sure, though, that that's me remembering seeing my mom do it with my sisters. Certainly, if you dug deeply enough, there's a brother there, disdainfully snorting: "For the love of pete! You don't know how to do that either?!"

Maybe we had more access to a pool; maybe our family made underwater breath-holding a priority. All I know is, Katie and I -- on the already long list of our parental failures -- feel negligent in the swimming/things-are-ok-underwater front.

Which leads us to this:

Bathtime, USA. Max and Miles are almost-floating in a very full tub of water and bubbles. You have to fill the tub waaay up with hot water during these cold snaps: the bath is on an exterior wall and it takes more water to heat up and keep the tub itself warm. The suds are courtesy of a couple of pumps of "bubble juice" (aka shampoo) and a giant, beer-fueled, dad-shaped water agitating machine.

The boys are going through their normal bathtime motions: fighting over this toy and that, thinking about splashing each other, finding ways to get water out of the tub and onto the floor. Towards the end of the bath, Max realizes the the water depth is almost swimmable. Before long, the wee skinny-dippers have turned the tub into a tiny natatorium, the two of them basically scooting through the bubbles, alternating ends of their non-olympic-sized pool.

Seizing a moment to calmly talk about swimming, I start to tell Max about when I lived near the ocean and would go swimming every night after walking down to the beach. (I left out the part about being on the lam from the federales and the endless, endless 3am dancing to the cheesiest disco ever. Un-ironic dancing!)

"You can even put your head underwater, if you want."

"Really? Yeah!" And, to my surprise, Max dips his face right into the bubbles. Unfortunately, we hadn't gotten to the "nose-plugging" stage of the whole deal and on his way to the water, he breathed in a whole bunch of bubble foam.

"Oh, oh, oh!," exclaimed Max as he pawed at his face, trying to get the bubbles out of his nasal cavity. "Hey! That doesn't feel very good, daddy!" As I wiped the suds off his face and calculated how much therapy it was going to take before he'd ever swim, Max snuffled and snorted bubbles out of his nose.

The whole time this was going on, Miles gleefully continued sloshing from end to end in the tub, giggling insanely. Max got back into the tub and Miles, inspired by his brother but unaware of the results, slapped his face into the water. All Max and I could do was watch. Miles sat up, the foam sliding down his shocked/angry/confused face. He was trying to draw in a breath to cry, but his nose and mouth were full of foam. This pissed him off even more.

Max, pouting, calmly watched this unfold and then with a hearty sigh, filled with resignation, understanding and consolation, muttered, "Yeahhhhh, that doesn't really work." As that sentence tailed off, Miles finally got his wits about him enough to start screaming.

Bathtime, USA!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I will NOT be Out-Sissified! or Happy Birthday, Honey PleaseDon'tHitMe

You know, when this guy writes a post that makes me cry, it's time for some payback! So, while I feel very sentimental about my children and all that, I'm going to do it the old fashioned way: I'm going to explain why my wife is better than his wife (and by extension, how she's better than almost all of you).

If you climb into your way-back machine, you'll remember that Katie likes to obsessively sew. Every so often, it's like she eats a just-bit-too-old taco and, instead of food poisoning, what comes out is really cute, sewn stuff. So, right before Halloween last year, she found a taco in the back of the fridge and this happened:

Yes, those are little, individually sewn, monster/scary things heads.

Then, just days later, for Miles' second birthday party, since Miles has been into the dinosaurs, Katie made a dinosaur-themed cupcake mosaic. This photo was taken even before she added the red lava/frosting "erupting" from the cupcake volcanoes!

I kind of went back and forth on this over the last few months: do I post these things and make you all feel crappy(er) before the holidays or do I wait and just straight-up ruin your whole year? Go big or go home is what we say around here.

So, to my amazing, magical wife, the goddess of all that is good and true and beautiful in the world, I say Happy Birthday! Thank you for tolerating me! Thank you for being the dopest, super-hip, mega-mom to these incredible boys. You literally save us everyday; bring home the bacon; and fry it up in the pan! If, years ago, someone had told the dorky, high-school me -- wait, the grade-school me. . . wait, the kindergarten me -- that, fear not, fat kid! The coolest, smartest, funniest, hottest most-angelic woman you ever met is going to love you and offset all your genetic and emotional shortcomings in the guise of two, brain-meltingly cute kids! Well, I would've laughed you right out of my naptime.

So even though I made you all feel kinda inadequate, I'll thank you for not waking me out of whatever crazy, giggling/screaming/whining-kids-everywhere dream I'm having right now.

Happy Birthday, Mamacita!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Interrogator

One wonderfully infuriating thing about the one we call Miles, the youngest one, is that, as fate would have it, when his earliest language skills were forming, his older brother happened to be in the deepest throes of his "Why (insert every damn thing here)?" phase. While Max has moved on to his "This-is-my-universe-please-explain-to-me-why-I-should-continue-to-tolerate-you?" phase, Miles still thinks it's OK to question everything.

In fact, the boys' first conversation went something like this:

Max: "No, Miles! No, you can't have the crane. I'm playing with the crane."

Miles: "Why playing, Max?"

"Because I like playing with the crane, Miles."

"Why crane, Max?"

Max, exasperated: "Because it's a crane, Miles." Then, under his breath, "I don't know why 'crane', Miles."

For the most part, Miles figures the last word he heard is should be the subject of his question, so there's lots of exchanges like:

"Ok, let's go out to the car!"

"Why car, mommy?"

"Because we have to Max to school, Miles."

"Why school, mommy?"

"Because we go to school to learn things."

"Why learn, mommy?"


That's not to say the boy isn't capable of the occasional curveball. Recently, I was getting the boys ready for bed, walking around with Miles on one arm, looking for his damn blanket. Now, another great thing about Miles is, when has a really important question, he'll twist around in your arms and lean right into your face to make sure he gets his question across. So, here we are, moving from room to room, searching for Blanket when, apropos of nothing, in my best "Grover" impression, I call out, "Blankie! Oh, Blankieeeee?! Where are youoo?!"

Suddenly, I feel all 30 pounds of inquisitive toddler contort so his big, oceanic eyes are right in my face. I was thinking about how incredible his eyelashes are when, in the most "WTF" tone a two year-old can muster, Miles wondered, "Why Grover, Daddy?"

"Why not Grover, Miles?", I volleyed.

Thankfully, we found Blankie about then, 'cause I doubt I could've handled it had the philosophical debate gone much further.

Yes, Max, There is a Santa Claus

For a long while, I liked Christmas. If we weren't packed, cousins and cousins and cousins and sisters and uncles and aunts and grandparents, into the living room of my dad's childhood farmhouse home -- this, after desperately waiting for the Christmas dinner dishes to be done so we could open presents -- we were later that same night in the car, driving through the snow, looking for Rudolph's nose peeking through the clouds, on the way to Christmas at Grandma Coke's. Some years we'd trek to my Lord-of-the-Hippies uncle's, dress in layers and huddle around the wood-burning cook stove (for many years, the only source of heat in the house) and not think twice about taking a soak in the mini log cabin sauna before jumping into the Yellow River.

Some years we stayed home, creating adventures between recently unwrapped Tonka front loaders and plastic horses on a fantastic orange shag carpet.

Then, as it tends to happen, things got more complicated. Hell, even before we had the boys, you'd need an itinerary and an egg timer to make sure you stayed on schedule.

This year, though, things sort of started to crystallize for me. The boys, especially Max, are becoming active participants in the whole coo-coo Christmas experience. You'd think this would just crank the insanity dial to eleven but, really, the experience of watching Max draw a picture for Santa to put next to the plate of cookies left out for said same St. Nick, was so full of pure, innocent magic, I couldn't help but get pulled on in.

We all got up Christmas morning, looked at the crumbs, the note and the Santa diorama left behind; we opened presents; had a big, yummy breakfast and then went out to play in/shovel/blow snow. It was so stupid idyllic, the old me would've puked. I still kinda want to puke, but that was only because I drank too much Scotch with those damn Santa cookies.

Next year, watch out: both Max and Miles will fully comprehend Santa and Rudolph!

Max Von Hefner-Capote-Rubirosa

International playboy and occasional pants-wetter, Max, would like to wish everyone the happiest of holidays, coming to you here from the comfy confines of the robe given to him by his super-hip great-grandmother, Gi-Gi. Two things happen when he puts this thing on: 1. Even though no one in the house owns a pipe, he begins to stomp around the house looking for his. 2. This music and this music begin to spontaneously play every time he walks into a room.

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