Can I Have A Grande Skim Triple Shot Caramel Macchiato With Extra Sleep Through The Night?

espresso.jpgNext month Adam turns one year old and he is still not sleeping through the night. Jack, who is turning five next month, conversely was a champion sleeper from the beginning; born with the innate near-feline ability to sleep for 12 hours stretches and through disturbances with decibel levels that would not only startle most people awake but render them at least temporarily deaf.

120 dB – Approaching 747’s that mistake our porch light for a landing beacon and trace an unfortunate flight path over our property. 90dB – Our bedside clock radio/blender since there’s nothing quite like waking up to adult contemporary and fruit smoothies. 70 dB – The constant car door slamming from our next door neighbors who we could only determine were training for the World Series of Chinese Fire Drills Regional Qualifiers.

Most nights we had to wake him up to feed him. He spoiled us.

It may be that Google Maps plots the directions to the Sturgis Bike Rally from any starting point in the country to follow a route directly passed our house between the hours of 10pm and 4am or that his room is just simply closer to the front of the house resulting in more road noise, but Adam still wakes up at least twice a night. He is the antithesis of Jack; the crying counterweight screaming in the night balancing the scales of parental fairness.

Our fatigued desperation has compelled us to unprecedentedly solicit the advice of other parents and thereafter attempt the culled methods, tips, old wives tales, homeopathic remedies and techniques guaranteed to get your child to sleep though the night or your money back.

Included among the failed attempts are the cry it out method, the co-sleeping method, drinking chamomile tea before nursing, a motion activated musical mobile, sleep training, an inverted facelock sleeper hold, hypnotism, a pre-bedtime bath, nitrous oxide hits, repeating the phrase through gritted teeth “Why won’t you sleep Baby?”, allowing a giant glowing butterfly to flap into the room through an open window then hover ominously over the crib, reruns of Jay Leno’s opening monologue, C-Span…none of them worked.

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The closest thing we’ve found to a solution to our late night woes was when we put a Homedics White Noise Sound Maker in his room to drown out the din of the world by surrounding him in a computerized cocoon of artificially reproduced nature sounds. This particular White Noise Maker has six self-described soothing, natural sounds that help calm a baby to sleep. We’ve tried all six of the sounds with Adam with varying degrees of success. In order of least successful to most successful are:

6. The Heartbeat –Meant to simulate a mother’s natural heartbeat it is actually a meddlesome downstairs neighbor banging a broom handle on the ceiling because Homedic sound engineers were cranking Freebird at 2:00 in the morning again.

5. Rainforest –Sneak into a Petsmart after hours, mic every animal, kick the cages, and press record.

4. Waterfall – If you’ve ever stuck your head out the window of moving car, have gone skydiving or simulated hurricane conditions in a wind tunnel then you’ve heard the Homedic Waterfall.

3. Summer Night – In this Monroe Midsummer Night’s Dream the crickets are really just squeaky brake pads.

2. Rainfall – Put a pound of Oscar Meyer Bacon in a cast-iron skillet, put the skillet on the stove, turn the burner on high, listen carefully; fat rendered waterfall.

1. Ocean – If seagulls owned espresso machines or were at least allowed into Starbucks you too could enjoy the dulcet ebb and flow that Ventis young Adam to sleep every night.

So thanks to a glorified sound effects machine we’re sleeping again. Even if it’s only for 4 hour stretches we’re sleeping again and to that end it matters very little to me that Adam has developed a fondness for seabirds, an addiction to caffeine, an insatiable hunger for breakfast meat and an unnatural affinity for southern rock anthems.

It matters very little ’cause I’m as free as a bird now, and this bird you’ll never change. Lord knows, I can’t change. Lord help me, I can’t change.

Alright Mrs. Esposito! Alright! Stop Banging! I’ll turn it down!

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Mombies and The Night of the Living Dad

Though the creature comes in many forms its distinguishing characteristics are unmistakable. The lack of heartbeat or other vital signs, a diminished intelligence, an inability to reason or use tools; clumsy, violent and ungainly movements, a lack of empathy or mercy toward their victims, a hunger for human flesh and a ravenous and unrelenting instinct to convert all living things into one of them. That’s right, I’m talking about Republicans. I’m obviously joking; everybody knows that Republicans can use tools. No, what I’m talking about are Zombies.

When Jack was only three years old I let him watch Shaun of the Dead with me. Shaun of the Dead is a British zombie flick based around a character named Shaun, a thirty-something attempting to get some kind of focus in his life all while he has to survive an apocalyptic uprising of zombies. Despite being tongue-in-cheek there are many scenes that are entirely inappropriate for children; yet in a decision that lacked any parenting wisdom I allowed him to watch the movie in its entirety.

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead it sparked a fascination with all things Zombie.

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead we have since re-watched it countless times and even recreate certain scenes together. (Dibba Dibba Dibba Da Dibba Da Di)

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead he knows that the only way to stop a zombie is to destroy the brain or to vote them out of office.

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead he knows that the only way to turn into a Zombie is to be bitten by a Zombie or to have your annual household income increased to over $100,000. In fact, just recently I was impressed by his inquisitive level of reasoning when he asked, “If to become a Zombie you have to be bitten by a Zombie then where did the first Zombie come from?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the first Zombies were just former members of the Whig party.

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but when World War Z occurs and the undead descend upon us my son will be one of the few equipped to not only stay alive, but to lead an army of survivors to victory over the flesh-hungry ghouls.

You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares and you would be right. About a week ago he had a night terror in which he screamed and cried so hard that it took me and Kathleen 15 minutes to calm him down and get him back to sleep. The next morning he said he didn’t remember waking up, but that he did have a nightmare about Zombies. In his dream he said there were Zombies in the house and he was trying to hit them in the head with his black aluminum baseball bat, but one of the Zombies grabbed it out of his hand and then bit Mommy.

As I listened to him recount his dream, my stomach turned because it was my fault that he had a dream directed by George Romero and voiced over by Vincent Price. It was my fault that he had a dream in which he couldn’t save his mother from a Zombie bite. It was my fault that instead of dreaming about using his baseball bat to crush fastballs for game-winning homeruns, he was having dreams about using his baseball bat to crush the skulls of reanimated corpses.

I tried to make him laugh by asking him if they turned mommy into a Mombie, and he said without smiling, “No Daddy, she was turned into a Zombie.”

I worry so much about being a good father to both Jack and Adam, about teaching them the right things and raising them to be compassionate, confident and fearless; but sometimes I forget that they are just children. Impressionable, vulnerable, innocent little boys who need me to protect them from the nightmares that too quickly creep into their heads without my help, not to put baseball bats in their hands and demand they protect themselves from the monsters that I let in.

Is Your Child a Musical Prodigy? Nothing a Little Antacid Can’t Fix.

stevie067.jpgBefore Jack was born I fantasized that he would be a musical prodigy. I’m not sure when or why this yearning to father a wunderkind developed, but if Mozart’s first compositions were written when he was only five years old, Buddy Rich began playing drums at 18 months old and Yo-Yo Ma was performing for audiences at the age of five then damnit it was just as likely that my son would also display a profound talent for a musical instrument at an early age.

Now, whether this meant that he would stroll from the birth canal rhythmically finger picking his umbilical chord like a Mariachi with a flamenco guitar or whether it meant he would bear a resemblance to Dizzy Gillespie while nursing a bebop solo into the conic mouthpiece of Kathleen’s nipple, I was certain that by the time Jack was five he’d be performing at the Ed Sullivan Theater on The David Letterman Show while I chugged Vodka and Red Bulls with Tina Fey in the Green Room.

However, every instrument we’ve introduced to Jack with the hopes of it being the catalyst to inspire his dormant musical genius only wound up sharing space in a canvas bin with the disassembled body parts of the Potato Head family; and there’s nothing more heartbreaking than baby’s first didgeridoo tangled in the black polyester cape of Darth Tater.

The acoustic guitar we bought him for his third birthday gathers dust and hangs on the wall in his toy room like a rabbit in a butcher’s window, he refuses to complete the essay portion of his Julliard application and not a single item from the Budding Musicians Band in a Bucket (including kazoo, rhythm fish, harmonica, tambourine, egg shakers, musical spoons, 3T Leather pants, Jose Cuervo Sippy Cup, and Crayola Eye Liner) captivated his interest for longer than a few seconds.

In fact, he’s tone deaf, forgets the words to songs and plays air guitar like he’s itching a poison sumac rash on his stomach. I knew those traits were inheritable but I honestly thought they skipped a generation.

Jack turns five next month, has given no indication that he is a musical prodigy, and can’t even use a Yo-Yo let alone perform like one, but there was this one time when he was holding his harmonica that I thought maybe, just maybe I was seeing the first spark of brilliance flickering behind his eyes. He sat motionless while staring at the 12-hole chromatic and I whispered, “This is it. My God, this must be what Stevie Wonder’s parents felt like.” As he raised the instrument to his mouth I closed my eyes and waited for him to bend a soulful wail reminiscent of Fingertips (Pt. 2) that would be the long-waited indicator of his prodigious talent.

Silence…then what sounded like a sneaker on wet bathroom tile. “Daddy, I burped in my harmonica.” he confessed. “Just put it in with the Potato Heads.” I sighed.

Compensation Injuries: How To Fit 10lbs of Parenting in a 5lb Bag

soularsys1.jpgI’ve heard it said that you can’t catch up on lost sleep, and I’m beginning to think the same is true for being a parent. Like millions of other parents I too have a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job, so the time I get to spend with Jack and Adam during the week is separated into two periods. 1) The Triaskinforit Period lasts from 7:45am to 8:30am every morning during which essentially the only interaction I have with the boys is watching Adam chew on a trail mix of Lincoln Logs, Hot Wheels and vacuum extension brushes and when Jack walks in the bathroom while I’m showering to tell me he has to go potty. 2) The Juraskinforit Period extends from 6:00pm to 9:00pm every evening during which I try to unsuccessfully pack 10lbs of blissful family togetherness into a 5lb bag, but usually only succeed in collapsing from exhaustion on the kitchen floor. Meanwhile, Adam sits under the dining room table blowing into a kazoo and Jack inches towards the ceiling by wedging himself into the frame of the kitchen door jam.

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So, to recap the work week quality time with my offspring: In the morning my youngest son chews on an upright Bissell with a low-carpet setting while the eldest relieves himself during my wash, rinse and repeat cycle. In the evening Kathleen and I sprawl on the kitchen linoleum as Adam hums a vibrating rendition of Camptown Races and Jack dangles from the crown molding like Tom Cruise on a rock face in Mission Impossible 2, minus the extreme Scientology and Katie Holmes brainwashing. Oh, de doo-da day.

Because I have no governor on my paternal engine to regulate the guilt that builds up during the week, when Saturday rolls around I try to expunge my guilt through a form of extreme über parenting (ordinarily seen in cases of divorce or living on Long Island) that involves overindulging even the most miniscule whims of your child(ren). Thankfully, Kathleen works Saturday mornings leaving me free reign to implement my compensatory style of parenting. Unfortunately, Kathleen works Saturday mornings leaving me free reign to implement my compensatory style of parenting.

I’ll offer some examples from last Saturday morning as a microcosm of how I try to offset being away from Jack and Adam during the week with an unhealthy level of Over the Top Child Rearing; which, among other things, entails driving a long haul truck and winning back the heart of my alienated sons by becoming a champion arm wrestler.

I couldn’t just make them breakfast and sit on thecouch watching cartoons all morning. No, we had to go out for breakfast, to a diner, where a cantankerous waitress named Fran would mistake Jack for a girl and Adam could fidget in a wooden high chair made with wood from California’s Petrified Forest and mash packets of saltines into the Formica table with a spoon. And when Jack said he wanted bacon he couldn’t just have a few strips of bacon, he had to have more bacon than even Kyra Sedgwick could handle. Fran … lop a pig in half, drop it in the deep fryer and put it on a plate! My boy wants bacon…and bring a few more crackers over, too. And another silverware roll, thanks. Oh, and a seat cushion for this tree stump you call a high chair.

Once we were back in the car and on the way to the park Jack asked if we could play our Vs. game which is where we pit comic book heroes, villains and movie characters against each other in head-to-head matches then together decide who would win the fight. I said we could, but we couldn’t just play head to head match-ups. No, I had to create a 64 character bracketed double-elimination tournament with a wild card play-in game and a best of 7 Final match-up. (Godzilla won a tight series 4-3 over The Iron Giant)

While at the park Jack wanted to walk over to the pond to feed the ducks. Well, of course we can feed the ducks Jack. However, we couldn’t just leisurely toss them scraps of wonder bread; we had to feed them popcorn. Not just one bag though, we had to buy every bag of Smart Food Reduced Fat White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Popcorn from the vending machines. So much popcorn that the ducks would think they were under Roger Ebert’s chair at a matinee showing of Ratatouille.

Back at the house we were playing in the backyard and I was throwing Adam in the air and catching him, drinking in his laughter while gazing up at the look of wonder on his face. Jack wanted me to throw him up in the air too, so I put Adam back in his stroller and tossed Jack into the air. Not just a couple inches or a foot in the air though, I was literally threw Jack as high as I physically could. So high that during his atmospheric freefall he achieved terminal velocity and executed an 8-way vertical formation with a gaggle of Canadian Geese before pulling the rip cord on his chute.

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My concern is that if this trend continues breakfast meat, superhero round robin competitions, gourmet popcorn and formation skydiving with waterfowl will turn into more expensive unnecessary compensations like, for instance, a puppy or college tuition.

Damn… Jack has somehow made his way to the ceiling fan blades. I’d help him, but Adam is beginning Row, Row, Row Your Boat and he wants to do it as a round. Kathleen, where’s my kazoo?

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson. Do You Want Me To Give You Something To Cry About?

artgarfunkel.jpgMy father was and continues to be a remarkably giving person. Whether it was long the hours he worked at his various jobs, the early Sunday mornings he drove me, my sister and my brother around on our paper route or the thousands of baseball, softball and football games and practices he attended my father was a giver. He gave until it hurt.

Us.

He often gave until it hurt us.

In fact one of my father’s favorite expressions was “Do you want me to give you something to cry about?” That was my father, the paradigm of generosity. He would see us blubbering over something he didn’t consider deserving of our swollen teary eyes, snotty runny noses, and trembling bottom lips and he would selflessly volunteer to take time from his busy schedule and peanut butter sandwiches on white bread to provide us with something worthwhile to cry about.

It may be suitable to mention at this point that my father was frequently responsible for supplying us with what we felt was an excellent reason to be crying in the first place so as you can imagine we rarely accepted his munificent follow up offer to furnish us with additional things to cry about.

When I was 10 years old, for example, I rode my bike to the mall even though my father had specifically told me not to; my beautiful 527 lb rust-brown banana seat Huffy Thunder Road forged from the hull metal of retired Russian oil tankers capable of speeds up to 13mph depending on the downhill grade of the road. My clever and flawless reasoning was that dear old dad would never find out because he was working on the railroad all the livelong day (literally, he was an Amtrak electrician) and I would easily get home before he did.

Unfortunately, when I returned to the bike rack my lock had been cut and my bike was gone. This, I thought, was something to cry about so I did. I cried when I told the security guard what had happened. I cried when the security guard called my house and my father somehow answered the phone. I cried when I saw my father pull into the parking lot, step out of the car still dressed in his work clothes and stride towards me and the security guard. Before I could apologize or explain, my father smacked me in the head and this made me cry even harder. “Do you want me to give you something to cry about?” my father asked as he signed the incident report the security guard had handed him. I was 10 years old, scared, embarrassed, my bike and only form of transportation was gone and I had just been cuffed in the ear and even then my father wanted to give me something to cry about.

We could have avoided a lot of confusion growing up if he would have given us a pocket card listing his acceptable reasons for crying. At least then when he asked us if we wanted him to give us a something to cry about we could have referenced the card first before answering.

This past week while Kathleen and I were in the kitchen loading the dishwasher, or more specifically I was loading the dishwasher and Kathleen was then rearranging the dishwasher so that instead of 3 dishes we could fit 43, Jack and Adam were playing on the floor behind us with a battery-powered Spiderman Bump & Go Dune Buggy. The toy has a motor and a spinning cylinder on the bottom that propels the toy in all directions and prevents it from getting stuck against a stationary object. Apparently though if your 4 year old son places it on the head of your 11 month old son who has hair like Art Garfunkel the hair gets twisted into the spinning cylinder which then continues to rotate and weave the hair into the gears like a textile loom until the result is a 4-wheel Spiderman banana clip. After we untangled Adam’s hair without thankfully having to resort to scissors and pulling out only a couple of his golden locks (currently taped into his baby book), I found Jack standing in the living room. Before that moment I had never even so much as spanked him, however I knelt down next to him, took his right hand in mine and tapped the back of it with two fingers.

I’ve had my hand stamped at keg parties harder than I tapped the back of his hand, yet he stared at me in utter disbelief for a second before he started crying. My initial reaction was to ask him, “Do you want me to give you something to cry about?” but I didn’t. My second reaction was to pick him up, to hold him while he cried and to talk to him about what he did wrong; which is what I did. He told me as I carried him around the dining room that he was sorry for hurting Adam and so I told him I was sorry for smacking his hand, but that sometimes Daddies have to do things they don’t want to do.

Like work three jobs, or get up at 5:00 am on your day off to drive your kids around on their paper route, or spend every spare moment of every evening and weekend in the stands, in the dugout or on the sidelines of Little League and Pop Warner games

Maybe my father worked a lot, but he was always there for us. Maybe my father didn’t spare the rod, but he also didn’t spare a hug after a difficult loss, a kiss goodnight or a hand to hold. Maybe my father would sometimes give us something to cry about, but he would always give us something to laugh about.

My father was and continues to be a remarkably giving person and though I don’t know if I have it in me to raise Jack and Adam the same way my father raised me, I’m going to try.

WWE Smackdown: Androgynous Wedding DJ vs. The Human Cannonball

cannonball_small.jpgBefore Jack and Adam were born I clung naively to the idealistic notion that if I ever had a son I would never force feed him societal expectations of masculinity and gender or reinforce only the predominant male stereotypes in his behavior yet hypocritically on the other hand if my son grew up to be, I don’t know, say an All-Star Pitcher for the New York Yankees with a PhD in Oncology who marries a Runway Model/Children’s Books Author and who, after retiring from Baseball with 5 World Series Rings and 323 Career Wins and after providing us with no fewer than 7 grandchildren, is inducted in the Hall of Fame, discovers a Cure for Cancer, and is elected President of the United States I’d be OK with that, too. Despite this unrealistic promise to myself have I at times told Jack to “toughen up”, “stop crying”, “walk it off” and “do another shot with me”? Of course. Do I allow him to watch wrestling, zombie films, action movies and The Family Guy even though if he were a girl I would not? Sadly, yes. Am I the type of jackass who asks semi-rhetorical questions then answers them himself? Absolutely not.

I was reminded of this unrealistic promise recently when I took Jack to the Saratoga Race Track, the place of Legends, Horses, Bobblehead Jockey Giveaways, Phenylbutazone and Cortiscosteroids. Since Jack usually only bets the Trotters and the Saratoga Race Track features thoroughbreds we decided to just walk around and enjoy the day rather than place a wager on any of the races. In the family section of the grounds where the Mommies say to the kids, “Don’t bother Daddy, he’s busy right now.” while Daddies stare up at simulcast televisions mounted in trees, betting slips white knuckled in one hand a can of Coors Light in the other, saying, “Come on Baby. Come on you son of a bitch. Come on.” we stumbled across something called a Backyard Circus.

A Backyard Circus is a kid-oriented Circus of imagination where a Ring Leader uses the children in the audience to fill all the roles of the show; the tightrope walker, the Lions, the ballerinas and clowns, the strong man, Siegfried & Roy and the Human Cannonball. As he announced each role the kids would raise their hands to volunteer for the part and he would select them from the crowd. When he got to the part of the ballerinas though, a little boy around the age of 3 in the front row enthusiastically raised his hand and the way his father sprinted towards him panicked you’d have thought the kid was on fire. When his father reached him he forced his son’s hand down and told him, “No, you’re going to be the Human Cannonball.” to which the kid sobbed, “But I want to be a ballerina.” To which his father corrected him, “No, you want to be the Human Cannonball.” This exchange went on for a few more seconds until the boy ran to his mother in tears and the father ran to the nearest television with his betting slips and a Coors Light.

Jack looked up at me and asked, “Why is that little boy crying?” so I tried to explain what had happened all the while wondering how I would have honestly handled it if Jack wanted to be a ballerina. I asked Jack, “Do you want to be a ballerina?” and he said no. “You can if you want you know.” I pressed, but he said again that he didn’t want to be a ballerina and I dropped it before he changed his mind. There were two more incidents that happened after that however that continued to make me question the expectations I’m projecting onto Jack.

The next day while we were at a playground Jack was mistaken for a girl by another parent. This has happened countless times since Jack was a baby except it’s usually blue-haired grandmothers octogenarianating their senility on us in the food store.

“Oh, your daughter is beautiful. What’s her name?”
He’s a boy and his name is Jack.
“Who’s a boy?”
My son Jack.
“Is he home with his mother?”
No, he’s right here
(to Jack) “Sweetie where’s your brother?”

Which is right about when I start pelting them with heads of lettuce.

Later that evening Jack came into the living room where Kathleen and I were, stood in the middle of the room and said, “What’s this called?” Not knowing what he was about to do I quickly prepared a couple possible answers. “That’s called a round house kick” or “Oh that? That’s just your average Three-quarter face-lock Russian leg-sweep” and that was when he executed a perfect rendition of The Macarena. Dumbfounded I stared at him and said nothing. He must have thought he did it wrong so he performed it again and I looked at Kathleen and asked, “Where did he learn the Macarena?” She looked as shocked as I was until Jack answered for her, “I learned it at camp.” Damn it, I knew there was a reason I didn’t want him going to that camp. “We paid to have them teach our son line dancing?” I questioned Kathleen and she reminded me that it was a free camp.

I don’t want to be one those fathers constantly sprinting towards my sons insisting that they be human cannonballs instead of ballerinas, but even though I’ll continue to correct the legions of AARP members who think Jack is my daughter and even though I’ll help Jack figure out the tricky spin maneuver in the Electric Slide there’s a part of me that hopes I don’t have to.

Does that mean you’ll someday see me staring up at simulcast televisions mounted in trees with betting slips white knuckled in one hand a can of Coors Light in the other? Of course not. Does that mean that at this Friday Jack and I will be watching WWE Smackdown? Sadly, yes. Does this mean that I actually am the type of jackass who asks semi-rhetorical questions then answers them himself? I still say no.

Fault Disney: Source of Canadian-Branded Disney Products Unknown

disney.jpgAccording to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family with a child born after the year 2000 can expect to spend about a quarter-million dollars to raise that child to the age of 18; which is apparently the age at which this study believes all children become constitutionally prohibited from asking their parents for money.

Although the study included expenses such as housing, healthcare and doctor visit co-pays, stock in Banquet Chicken Nuggets and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as well as the gallons of gasoline necessary to drive a child to hundreds of play dates and sports camps/competitions it failed to consider the annual financial strain suffered from 1) Impulse purchases of 70%-Off Spiderman paraphernalia at Target 2) A near intervention-level addiction to Mini-Golf 3) Vending Machine Gumballs at Hollywood Video 4) Plastic garage sale dinosaurs 5) Gifts for the dozens of birthday parties that children are invited to over the course of the year and 6) How any and all loose change in my pocket going jing-a-ling-a-ling winds up in Jack’s and Adam’s piggy banks.

Like most parents, Kathleen and I have found it necessary to supplement our income in a variety of ways. Kathleen, for instance, picks up hours at a friend’s dry cleaner while I most recently have served as both a Geography Tutor for the Miss Teen USA representative from North Carolina and as The Jerry Lewis Telethon’s principal script writer and sensitivity coach.

Last month though we realized that we were depleting the coffers faster than we were replenishing them and together we decided that to ensure the opulent quality of life to which we had grown accustomed (23 inch cable-ready color Television, paying bills on time, jumbo eggs, plastic garage sale dinosaurs) we would have to partake in acts of a somewhat illicit nature. We’re not proud of what we are doing, but when it comes to Jack and Adam there is no sacrifice we won’t make.

Since making that fateful decision to operate above the law, every Friday we load a 27 foot Winnebago painted to look like Celine Dion’s Tour Bus with thousands of black market Disney DVDs and plush characters manufactured locally in an abandoned warehouse by seasonal migrant apple crop workers. Once loaded up we make the 7-HR drive to Ottawa, Canada to rendezvous with our contact who then delivers the cargo to local toy stores to be sold as copyright infringing trademark violating Canadian-Branded Disney products. Currently the ten top demanded items we’re delivering on our next trip are:

1. Winnipeg the Pooh and Winnipeglet
2. Lightning McQuébec (from Le Cars)
3. Mickey Mousaskatchewan
4. Mike Ottawasowski (From Edmontonsters Inc)
5. Manitobaloo the Bear (Le Jungle Book )
6. Torontoy Story Une and Deux (DVD )
7. Montréaladdin (DVD)
8. Chicanada Little (DVD)
9. Pinocchiontario (DVD)
10. Albertarzan (DVD)

The Celine Dion Tour Bus has thus far proven to be a perfect subterfuge going through customs at the border; as usually they just wave us right through. If we are stopped I normally announce in a berating tone that Ms. Dion is Canada’s National Treasure and how dare a lowly customs agent presume to think it is acceptable for him to question her integrity let alone disturb her while she is resting.

We realize we’re risking Felony International Trafficking Charges punishable by 2-5 years in a U.N. Detention Center, a $500,000 fine and season tickets to the Toronto Blue Jays, but with both Jack and Adam’s birthdays coming up in October and the Stock Market wreaking havoc on our juice box futures we simple can’t afford to stop.

Paolo just called to tell me that I’m needed at the warehouse to review the final edits on “Finding Nemontréal”.; believe it or not we actually got Alex Trebek to do the voice of Nemontréal’s father. Now, since none of our high-quality black market knock-offs are currently available stateside our Ottawan contact Jean-Luc, beginning this week, will put some of the items up for bid on Canada’s version of eBay called eB,eh? As a special offer to the readers of this blog though, if you send me a request by the end of the week, I’ll mail you an advance copy of 101 Canadalmations before it is released next month.