Archive for the 'Double stroller' Category

Magic zoo

March 12, 2011

Andrew Hicks

This morning, bright and early, with the sun shining and everybody in a great mood, Tiffany and I started talking about taking Sarah and Silas to the Magic House.

For people in their thirties who grew up in St. Louis, the Magic House is frozen in time somewhere up in their cerebral cortex. I haven’t been since junior high probably — the place is synonymous with school field trips and time-killing day camp visits. It would be weird for me to travel to the Magic House any way other than yellow school bus, with a turkey sandwich sogging itself up in the Peanuts lunchbox resting in my lap.

If you’ve never been to the Magic House, it’s basically like a Science Center in your grandma’s house, if your grandma’s house was three times its current size and had a curly slide behind Plexiglass that extended from the fourth floor down to the basement. We’d all go to grandma’s house more often if that was the case.

So at 9:30 or so, we made impulse plans to drive down to St. Louis and take the kids to the Magic House. At 12 or so, we finally left the house. Had to stop to get gas. Had to stop to get ice. Had to pull over so we could get baby supplies out of the trunk. It was 2:30 when we got into town, and we had one baby crying and one without a nap.

Time for a change of plans. Time to go to the St. Louis Zoo. See, we live in Springfield, where the zoo costs $4.50 a person and doesn’t actually have any animals. It reminds me of Noah trying to half-ass his way onto the ark. (“Well, God, I know you told me to get two of everything, but that’s a lotta work. So I got you one apiece of some animals, cool? Over here is our endangered red wolf… What’s that? Okay, you got me, it’s just a stray dog.”)

We drove around Forest Park a couple times, finally vulturing our way into a decent parking spot next to a couple dozen empty picnic benches. Ate a picnic lunch, took Sarah on a short walk, got our stroller supplies packed up, started walking toward the zoo, realized we’d forgotten something, walked back to the car, then back to the zoo.

The best thing about the St. Louis Zoo is, admission is free. It’s second nationally to San Diego’s zoo in awesome freebieness. So despite it being late afternoon with a no-nap toddler, it didn’t seem like a gamble. Say we had 15 awful minutes at the zoo. We still weren’t out any money. We could still go to the Magic House in the morning and pay to put our hands on the giant electric ball.

When you’re out with one kid, stuff takes twice as long. With two kids, you can double that figure again. Every five minutes, we were stopping to change a diaper, to put the little monkey leash thing on Sarah, to calm down Silas’s crying or to put Sarah back in the stroller. Two hours we were there, and I think we saw about as much stuff as a childless couple sees in a half-hour.

This was the second time in a row we hit the zoo at late afternoon. Half the animals were off napping or devouring caribou out of sight. Sarah enjoyed checking out the tiger and the exotic birds* and particularly the monkeys. Two of the monkeys were walking around while having sex, forming a two-backed beast with poor posture**. Also, the burrowing owl was nowhere to be seen, but that’s a no-brainer***.

Anyway, it was a very laborious form of relaxation. Our “packing up the kids and going to see some sights” routine is not as streamlined and efficient as it could be. The fact that we don’t often pack up the kids to see sights — usually, it’s just a short trip to the park or the store or a restaurant — has a little something to do with that.

*Which all had hilarious, bottle-of-wine-sounding names. Picture the middle shelves of your supermarket stocked with affordably priced White Ibis Chablis, Ruddy Duck Cabernet and Black Crowned Night Heron Merlot.

**For those of you marveling at yet another immature, needlessly included detail that has nothing to do with my family or kids, I should add that all my wife, stepson and I all giggled at the informational sign pointing out the “Somali Wild Ass” exhibit. I’ve got this whole idea now of a person of Somali descent being trapped outdoors in a zoo exhibit and doing wild-ass things. You know, binge drinking, flashing for beads, cutting tags off of mattresses. That kinda stuff.

***I stole those last five words from one of my absolute favorite SNL cold opens, in which Will Ferrell as George W. Bush explains who all is in the Axis of Evil. (“Evil Kneaval’s in the Axis of Evil, but that’s a no-brainer. But Dr. Evil, no, he makes me laugh, so he’s out.”)

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Smiley Silas

Procrastination and vaccinations

September 11, 2010

We rent our house. Four bedrooms, two baths, a nice backyard. I’ve talked to my current landlord exactly twice. Once was when the air conditioning went out during a heat wave in mid-June while my wife was eight months pregnant. The other time was on Wednesday, when I broke the sink.

I was doing dishes, a frequent assignment for a daytime dad, and applied what I thought was a miniscule amount of upward pressure on the faucet arm. The thing was rusted out on the bottom, I soon discovered, which created an instant hole that left water gushing out at an impressive 270-degree angle. We ended up doing the rest of our dishes in the bathtub that night, a hardship more bizarre than actually hard. We wistfully compared it to the trials of the original American settlers. Imagine doing the bathtub dishes after the first Thanksgiving. Pause for laughter.

It has to be something dramatic like that for me to call the landlord, even though he’s very courteous and prompt about resolving issues. But both times I made the call over some emergency drama, I tacked on a couple requests that had been brewing indefinitely. Case in point – the entire time we’ve lived in our house, 20 months now, the light fixture in the third bedroom has been broken. It’s always been a case of, “Oh yeah, we need to call the landlord about that.” Instead, we bought a floor lamp and put it on the backburner.

Well, about 610 days later, thanks to me finally bringing it up, we have a brand new ceiling fan/light fixture in what is now Baby Silas’s bedroom. The lesson is, we could have had the fixture replaced 609 days ago if I would have made the one-minute phone call I made on Wednesday. This is a running theme in my life. Stuff gets broken or goes undone, gets viewed as a hassle, gets rationalized out of being acted upon, gets worst-case-scenarioized in my head, and then ends up being resolved way too late in a positively simple manner.

One guy came over to fix both. He showed up announced at 10:40 or so, while Sarah, Silas and I were accomplishing not much of anything in the living room. Sarah had met this handyman once before, when he came over to fix the garbage disposal. At the time, she wanted to give him hugs. This time, she wanted to investigate all the goings-on under the sink. I moved myself and both babies to the master bedroom so Schneider could work in peace.

Kind of the same thing today. I took both babies to the doctor for Silas’s two-month physical and trio of immunizations*. I was running late and couldn’t find the release thingie on the double stroller. Yes, again, I couldn’t work the stroller. My friend Kate Hayes is right. I should practice on that thing in my spare time for when it actually counts.

So I carried Silas in his car seat, and Sarah held my hand and walked from the parking lot through the building, into the elevator and into the office with us. She did great with all that. Sometimes she gets that hyper-independent streak and won’t hold my hand, actually collapses her body so we can’t go anywhere but down to the ground.

Today Sarah was all good walking, but she was also all activity in the examining room. I didn’t bring any toys or books for her, and her only props were two kiddie chairs and a kiddie table. She MacGuyvered the crap out of what she had to work with. She was picking the chairs up and carrying them all around the room, setting up a barricade at the main door. She pushed that table all around the room too. The noise was deafening.

Meanwhile, the nurse was asking questions I didn’t know the answers to, like which hospital we do our lab work at, Memorial or St. John’s? It was a 50/50, and I’m still not confident I answered correctly. In many ways, it’s my first week on the job, and I don’t get daily intelligence briefings. Sometimes as a dad I feel like I can go an entire day without being intelligent at all.

Also, apparently I feed Silas too much. I feed myself too much, so it only stands to reason. My rationale is, if he’s sucking ravenously at the bottle, and when the bottle’s all gone, he’s crying like he wants some more, I’m going to give him some more. I’m hoping this is not the same logic that led the parents of that YouTube Asian smoking baby to up his nicotine intake from a half-pack to a videotaped carton a day. I don’t want to be one of those dads.

* = I feel somewhat lazy as a father. My mom and a concerned conspiracy-theorist friend both wanted to warn me of the dangers of giving vaccines to your infants, and I barely browsed the reading material. I wanted to rock the boat and question authority and screw the man a whole lot more ten years ago. Sadly, now it’s more like, “What’s the normal thing to do? Where do I sign?” I’m old, complacent¬†and conformist. Not bragging, just saying.

Day One of daytime daddydom

September 7, 2010

If you would have run into me a week ago, and we started talking about my kids, I would have launched into a stock bit. About how I was totally cool to take care of one baby or the other at a time but that I hated being charged with both babies simultaneously and now had full appreciation of the burden foisted on single parents, etc.

A week ago, I had no idea I was going to start watching Sarah (almost two) and Silas (barely two months) every weekday from 8:30 to 6. It was an abrupt decision. Tiffany had just gone back to work from maternity leave, and we’d started taking both babies to the same babysitter. This service, by the way, was projected to run us about $13,000 a year. We figured we’d make it work somehow.

Mind you, I’d just celebrated – well, “celebrated” is not really the word for it, more like “wincefully acknowledged” – the tenth anniversary of my intended-to-be-temporary foray into serving and bartending at mid-priced chain restaurants. I graduated college with honors at the age of 21. I was going to take a year off and write a book. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not 1999 anymore, although the band Smash Mouth probably wishes it was.

I had a party-filled twenties and got some writing done that I didn’t really form into anything publishable. It wasn’t until I fell in love, got married, moved away, settled down and opened the baby factory that it seemed both feasible and imperative to get back to writing and performing words that make people smile and laugh. I started doing open mic standup last Christmas. The day Silas came home from the hospital, I joined Facebook. Two new outlets where a year before the only thing on my social/comedic radar was karaoke night.

Then this decision – go on a leave of absence from my daytime job, switch to all closing shifts at the nighttime job, and stay home with Sarah and Silas during the day. No immediate financial loss stands to take place, and things are looking good for my wife and her job. I’ve been wanting to start a new blog but was at a loss for a theme. This ending just wrote itself.

So this was Day One of the new arrangement, and I didn’t need an alarm clock to wake up for it. An alarm clock to me indicates putting an end to sound sleep. Me, I sleep for a few hours here and there when there’s no one crying. Last time was between 5:30 and 8:30 this morning. Both babies came to life just after Tiffany left, and I started my day in triplicate. Feed Baby #1, feed Baby #2, feed myself. Change Diaper #1, change Diaper #2, take a crap. Put Sarah in Outfit #1, put Silas in Outfit #2, put on my old black Sublime shirt with the pinprick hole in the belly.

This mundane process actually takes hours. I might be able to shave off a few minutes after I’ve been doing it a couple months. Sarah can at least pull her shoes on now. She’s obsessed with socks and shoes, actually. The “socks” part I’m not too concerned with, but the “shoes” part down the road could break the bank.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the entire PBS Kids lineup playing in the background: “Dinosaur Train,” “Sesame Street,” “Sid the Science Kid,” “Super Why?” and Barney’s bitch ass. These are a daily staple. Sarah’s at the point where she can name the main and secondary “Sesame Street” characters. She can’t name any state capitals yet, but she knows which one’s Telly and which one’s Prairie Dawn. I don’t even know which one’s Prairie Dawn. All the “Sesame Street” girl muppets seem interchangeable to me.

My mom was kind enough to buy us a Graco DuoGlider double stroller. This thing is a serious piece of hardware. Silas gets mounted facing me in his car seat, and Sarah rides up front. She’s like six feet away from me when I’m pushing them. We just broke in this stroller a week or so ago, and I’ve had Tiffany show me how to unfold it six times. But while Silas is inside asleep and Sarah is strapped into the single stroller next to me, it takes me ten minutes and a hundred attempts to get the thing open and ready. If I was even remotely famous, you’d be seeing footage of this atrocity on tonight’s “TMZ.”

I feel like an idiot, but I don’t give up, and soon the three of us are walking to the bank, to the post office, and then to the park via milelong bike trail. Silas sleeps the entire time, while I let Sarah run free over an empty football field and chase the geese up toward the lake. The weather, by the way, is absolutely perfect. It couldn’t possibly be any nicer, and there’s not another human in sight.

Last week at this time, I was rolling a stack of silverware while listening to some girl ten years younger than me bitch about her love life. I think this is a change for the better. I got a new blog out of it too.