Archive for the 'More cookies… I mean carrots' Category

Birthday karaoke

March 7, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I turned 33 a week ago. It can be a tough age, 33. It claimed three of my heroes — John Belushi, Chris Farley and Jesus. All of whom exhibited an above-average fondness for prostitutes.

All things considered, this was the best birthday I’ve had in a long time, and it came together at the very last minute. The past few birthdays, I’ve tried to put together epic parties by hyping the event weeks ahead of time then spending most of the event itself wondering why everyone didn’t show up. And the truth is, no matter what type of social event you’re planning, only about half of everyone you invite will actually come. It’s like election voter turnout — you can MTV Choose or Lose it up all you want to, but 50 percent of the population is still going to stay home.

This year, I kept it noncommittal and low key. My wife’s birthday — earlier this month — and Valentine’s Day both were underwhelming for us, thanks to a lack of money and an abundance of baby demands. So I was either going to have no birthday, have a few people over on my birthday, or just go up to karaoke.

Karaoke night has been a social tradition almost since I moved up here. Every Thursday evening, the Mexican-themed restaurant I used to work day shifts in has karaoke in their bar. It’s right across the street from the Australian-themed restaurant I used to work night shifts in, so it’s easy to get old coworkers to stop in, have a few drinks and maybe sing some Roxette or something.

Once a month, they have karaoke on Saturday, and I found out Friday morning that the next night, my birthday eve, would be February’s Karaoke Saturday. I asked Tiffany about me going or us getting a babysitter and going. She was willing to drive the kids to St. Louis, drop them off overnight with a grandparent or two and then drive back so we could go together. I called my mom to ask about keeping the kids. My mom offered to come up to Springfield, get a hotel room and babysit there. Bing bing bing! Jackpot! Instant winner!

The hotel chain of choice for grandparents on both sides of the family is Drury Inn. There’s an indoor pool — which means Sarah can put on her floaties and cruise the perimeter with adult accompaniment — and a free happy hour. Three drinks per guest. None of the visiting grandparents are drinkers, so on a couple occasions, I’d sit and slam a six-drink happy hour while talking about family stuff.

These days, Dry Andrew can still enjoy the spread of free food at the Drury happy hour, which on various days includes microwaved chicken tenders, the microwaved contents of a giant can of chili, microwaved baked potatoes cut in half, microwaved hot dogs that are lukewarm and gray, iceberg salad mix, Ruffles in a bowl, and carrot and celery sticks.

On my birthday eve, Sarah laid waste to the carrot sticks, neglecting the chips in the process, which surprised and pleased me. Tiffany happened to call from home during Sarah’s carrot binge, so of course I bragged about it. Then Tiffany told me carrot sticks are a choking hazard to a 2 year old. One more lesson learned by New Dad after the fact, but wouldn’t it make me seem like a better parent if I told the attending physician my kid choked on a carrot and not a giant deep-fried meatball?

Sarah spent the night at the Drury with my mom, while I went to karaoke and Tiffany stayed home with Silas. I’d invited people up to karaoke the night before via Facebook, with the tantalizing promise that my elusive wife, who was pregnant for a total of a year and a half, would be joining in the festivities. When she changed her mind and didn’t show, there were grumbles of disappointment, but I was glad she was staying home to protect our valuable. (That wasn’t a typo. We only have one valuable.)

Had Tiffany come to the party with me, it would have been a more cohesive social gathering. As it was, probably 15 people were there because I invited them, but they were spread all around the room. Not everyone knew everyone, and a couple people didn’t know anyone but me, which meant some people weren’t having the best time possible.

On a selfish level, though, it was great for me, because I love to work a room when I can. I was trying to keep up with three separate crowds, which kind of reminded me of that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams has to go to dinner with his family as the British nanny and do a job interview in another part of the same restaurant as himself. Minus the dressing up like an old lady, in my case.

At midnight, it was my birthday. I was invited out to the 3 a.m. dive bar people were headed to next, but when you’re 33, and you don’t drink anymore, the Taco Bell drive thru sounds like a way better idea than the afterparty.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah always laughs at my jokes.

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Beefaroni and Tofu

January 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

In the last entry, “The Editor” mentioned how much I love our new toaster/egg-poacher, which is a true nugget of heavenly countertop-appliance goodness. I’ve also become rather fond of the slow cooker, though my expertise and versatility limits me mainly to pork and beef roasts thus far.

On the stove and in the oven, I make chicken dishes, chili (mostly without grease), a mean tofu fried rice, even a cream of mushroom soup tonight with bacon and fresh sauteed green beans. And, though I didn’t think of it until just now, I haven’t microwaved a can of Beefaroni for myself in a couple months. Progress? Perhaps, but Beefaroni is more of a springtime dish, anyway. When the days get longer, the weather gets warm and the trees come to life with fresh green leaves, it’s time for some hot Beefaroni*.

Sarah’s pleasure is the duplex sandwich cookie, and today I introduced her to a striped chocolate shortbread cookie from the Keebler Fudge Shoppe. I didn’t pick them out, my wife did, but I opened and closed the Fudge Shoppe like four times yesterday. I opened the shoppe** for Sarah a couple times, too.

Sarah’s kind of a Beefaroni and Tofu eater herself — she eats fries and cookies, but she also enthusiastically eats salad, grapes, strawberries, apples, crackers, cottage cheese and sliced American cheese. I’m working on getting her to eat meat, but she’s still kind of traumatized from seeing the movie Food, Inc.

Silas, meanwhile, is fast becoming a champion eater of the cereal/baby food/formula swirl. Which is the daily special every day — room temperature swirl in a ramekin served on a colored plastic baby spoon. Will the swirl include the Stage 1 pureed peas or Stage 1 sweet potato today? Well, that’s where we keep the excitement of variety alive for the little guy. He never knows which bland vegetable flavor he’ll get each day until the colored plastic baby spoon gets jammed into his mouth.

And they say the Mr. Mom routine is borrrrrring…

*Any time I write about Beefaroni, all I ever hear back are negative things. Beefaroni gets a bad rap in America, and I blame the 1996 classic “Seinfeld” episode “The Rye” for that. You remember the episode. Kramer is charging for romantic horse and buggy rides, and he feeds the horse a Costco-size can of Beefarino. Stench and hilarity ensue for the passengers, and the ride comes to an early, abrupt end.

**Tiffany wants to joke that “shoppe” should be pronounced “shoppee,” like “Sharpie” in a foreign accent or something. I figured “shoppe” was probably of French origin and used by Keebler to seem more elite and justified in charging 4 bucks a bag or whatever. A little online research just now, though, revealed that “shoppe” is not French; it’s a made-up American capitalist word.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah swings on her first birthday.

I move to the couch!

October 5, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Week 3 of my ankle-break recovery exile is offering a change of pace. Instead of sitting in bed at my mom’s house all day into the wee hours of the night, I’m sitting on my in-laws’ basement couch all day into the wee hours of the night. It’s 2:23 am right now. Silas is asleep beside me. Ten minutes ago, he was awake. An hour ago, he was asleep. Two hours ago, he was awake. And so on. Awake, asleep, awake, asleep. He’s an indiscriminate, narcoleptic infant.

Really, the only time Silas concretely decides he wants to be awake is when I turn out the light to go to sleep. I can’t decide whether he’s afraid of the dark or is just a jerk. I’m kidding, of course. I’m the jerk, I think. I feel inconvenienced when Silas decides he wants to eat just as I’m getting ready to enjoy my own piping hot food. I mean, can’t the kid wait? He eats all the time. He gets like eight bottles a day. I only get four to five giant meals a day. If I’m lucky.

I’m sending a message by moving my base of operations from the bed to the couch. The message is, I’m not helpless anymore. Okay, I still have food brought to me, and I’m still not doing my own dishes or laundry, and it’ll be a little while before I’m back to work, but I cleaned my room today. And, let me assure you, that’s an accomplishment even when I’m not injured.

After the washcloth bath I gave myself* early afternoon, I brought my dirty clothes back to the bedroom by gripping them in my crutches and tossing them forward a few feet at a time. Takes a little while, isn’t pretty, but achieves results. I liken this process to a dimwit simpleton with a chopstick in each hand, tossing lo mein toward his mouth and occasionally hitting his target. I also managed to make the bed in fifteen minutes flat while hopping on one foot.

I’m even watching both my kids simultaneously again for up to two hours at a time. My best bet with Sarah, almost 2, is to keep her close to me and engaged. We read the same two books four or five times each, and we watch a little Barney** on the DVR. Then I get bored and crack the lid on the laptop, at which point Sarah makes a beeline for the laptop and asks optimistically, “Elmo? Elmo?”

I cruise to Sesamestreet.org and show her an Elmo video, it ends a couple minutes later, and Sarah asks, “More Elmo?” She just learned the word “more” in the last week or so, but she’s 100 percent on top of it. This girl can’t be happy with one of anything. She needs to watch more Elmo while she’s eating more cookies–uh, I mean carrots. More carrots. Lots and lots of carrots. I’m not one of those dads.

If I keep her close by and occupied, there’s no trouble. Couch-bound with a broken ankle, I can still grab my daughter’s legs and lift her upside down above my head, twisting her back and forth and exclaiming, “She’s upside down! Sarah’s upside down!” while she laughs and squeals her head off. Then I deposit her safely on my chest, and she says, “More! More!” And I oblige her. Being a dad has its simple, sweet moments.

It’s the idle hands that truly cause problems. If Sarah gets distracted by the stuff in the room, she’s simultaneously meticulous, thorough and unbelievably sloppy about moving every object to somewhere it doesn’t belong. Tonight, she wandered over to the CD tower, grabbed a CD from the rack, walked back over, handed it to me, said “Here you go,” and repeated the process a couple dozen times.

This was the most exhaustive look I’ve had through the music collection of my wife’s parents. Checked out some Glen Campbell, Tony Bennett, the Benedictine Monks Chant album (triple platinum!), the second of Amy Grant’s fifteen Christmas albums*** and lots of Bach. Towards the bottom of the stack are the CDs you can tell my in-laws bought on a foldout merch table at the back of the church directly from the artist. Nice of them. These are the CDs with no bar codes on the back, released by people you’ve never heard of. I wonder when those CDs last made it off the rack for a courtesy listen before Sarah haphazardly yanked them off earlier today.

Time to sign off. Silas is awake again, and he smells poopy. This could be a five-wipe affair.

* = You don’t want to smell me until I can walk again. Chances are, by that point, you will still not want to smell me. But I normally give off a pleasant aroma. I’m still rotating Perry Ellis For Men and Hugo colognes I bought duty-free on my cruise vacations in 2004 and 2005. I don’t see an expiration date anywhere on the bottles, so I’m gonna spray those things until they run out.^

** = It seems like every “Barney” episode lately has one of the little kid dinosaur puppet characters getting mad, then Barney reacts by singing the same cute song about mad LKDPCs. Which, by the end, makes the LKDPC into a happy LKDPC. Sarah loves it. I scratch my head.

*** = She went overboard with the holiday releases, but I love ’80s Amy Grant. I grew up in the church and spent eleven years in Christian school. I’ll still take some “Where Do You Hide Your Heart,” “Find a Way,” “Stay For Awhile,” “Lead Me On,” “Sing Your Praise to the Lord,” “Angels” and “In a Little While” on the Bose headphones any day of the week.

^ = A black lady I worked with once asked me, “Is that you wearing all that cologne?” I eagerly responded back, “Uh huh, it sure is,” thinking she was going to compliment me. She continued, “And I mean, ALL that cologne,” and tossed off an unpleasant nose wrinkle. My wife loves that story. I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about cologne moderation in the eight years since the incident in question.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah and Silas, both looking at a non-existent camera to their left.