Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Mom’

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.

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Family welfare

December 3, 2010

Andrew Hicks

At the time of The Event, I had health insurance for my entire nuclear family through my job as restaurant server, bartender and hourly manager. All I had to average was 25 hours a week, and they took a nice fat chunk out of each check. It was my first time being health-insured since just after my college graduation, and the Hicks clan quickly racked up a few high-ticket items. There were two live births, Sarah’s hospitalization for RSV* and the bizarre incision and drainage of an abscessed cyst in my right armpit. Which, if you like grossness, is a pretty interesting story for another time.

Then came the compound ankle fracture. Ambulance, emergency room, surgery, hospitalization and physical therapy with a lady who told me I’d be out of work “for at least a week, maybe even two.” I’m closing in on three months missing work, and the simple fact is, when you don’t work, you don’t automatically get your health insurance money withheld from your check. You also aren’t making the money you usually make at work. Money got scarce fast, we racked up a balance with the insurance company and got dropped halfway through last month.

Now, remember, I work an hourly job with a bunch of restaurant folks. Some of them are kids who live at home and may or may not roll out of bed by 2 pm; others are my age and have multiple kids. The whole way through, there were people telling me I could get free health insurance through the state if I qualified on an income-based level. I consider my lifestyle to be lower-middle class, and I figured if we did qualify for state medical cards, it would be just barely. And I also figured, I had earned the right to have health insurance as a benefit, so I might as well get it and pay for it. Responsible, right? Maybe even noble?

The nobility, real or imagined, fades a bit after you can’t work, and your existing bills – which you were not quite in full control of even before the accident – start backing up while brand-new accident-related bills start pouring in. Long story short, just before becoming uninsured, Tiffany and I applied for public aid. We got a notice almost immediately that the babies were covered, which brought peace of mind. Then, probably a week later, the rest of the results came back. Insurance for the whole family, free of charge. With all the media-bitching about Obamacare rules and regulations, this seems like some good old-fashioned welfare that FDR could cozy up to. Or wheel up to. Whichever.

Also, now there’s state-provided grocery money on a debit card each month. Gone, at least temporarily, are the days when I’d drop into the supermarket for a couple quick items, figure out by the crowds that it was the first of the month, get stuck in the checkout behind the family with the two full carts of stock-up goods, and then send out texts like, “Where’s the aisle for people who are buying items with cash they earned themselves?” to everyone I could think of while I was waiting to buy my white wine, bread and milk.

I’m still not yet earning money working, post-accident, but the money we’re saving now on health insurance, groceries and babysitting bills (you’re reading the words of a modern-day Mr. Mom) amounts to more than two grand per month. And you know, if you’d talked to me just before I popped out my ankle, I would have told you $250 a week for childcare for two children was a ripoff. Now that I’ve been home alone with Sarah and Silas for more than a month, it seems like an absolute bargain.

*I’d never heard of RSV, but it’s a pretty widespread respiratory virus among the very young. Sarah wasn’t even 2 months when she got it, most likely from a baby at the daycare she’d just started going to. It just seemed like she had a cold at first, but the virus took a quick progression on her infant body. One Sunday afternoon, when I left for work, Sarah was short of breath, and Tiffany and I made plans to take her to the urgent care first thing in the morning. Midway through my shift at work, I got a call from Tiffany, from the emergency room. Sarah had turned blue. Tiffany had called 911. Paramedics had come to the house and taken my 13-pound baby out on a stretcher**. Baby Sarah was in a room in the ICU for three days, hooked up to monitors and a baby IV. The first night, when the nurses wouldn’t let us feed her, was the hardest, but Sarah responded to treatment immediately and got better. Aside from a few chronic earaches in her early months, Sarah’s been a really healthy baby.

**Which, when you think about the heavy-lifting side of it, has to be a jackpot situation for paramedics. They don’t know whether they’re going to show up to hoist a 600-pound dude who just suffered a McRib-induced coronary blowout or a tiny, blue-faced infant. Morbid as it is, the sight of the blue baby has to at least be a physical relief as far as back pain goes. Kind of like when you’re helping a friend move, and the other guys always end up having to grab something heavy on the Next To Go list, while on your turn, the closest thing to grab is the box of pillows. Then again, my eyeballs probably zero in on the box of pillows and the box of paper towels and the box of toilet paper. I’m an out-of-work welfare recipient, after all.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Baby Sarah in the days she could be contained in a colorful bouncer.

Birthday blog hiatus

November 20, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Would this be a good time to mention that my goal rate of blog posts is one per day? I want to have daily Mr. Mom diaper stories for you – I mean you specifically; yes, you, the person who’s reading these words right now. What time of day do you do your idle Internet reading? First thing in the morning, over a cup of coffee? During hours 3 through 7 of your state job? On your phone during rush-hour traffic? Or, like me, in the dead of night when everyone’s asleep? Whenever the time, my goal is to be there for you every day. Maybe not in the form of a fully-realized, 800-word comedic tour de force, but maybe with just a couple good paragraphs to tide you over on your way to go play Farmville until dawn.

So, yeah, I want to write good new stuff every day, and this is my first post in almost two weeks. I was without a computer for about a week while SpacebarGate2010 resolved itself in the form of a brand new laptop keyboard that was shipped in from California, I think via Pony Express. I had lofty plans to maintain productivity sans laptop. I was going to write blog posts on my phone, or I was going to hand-write them and type them up on the public library computers*. Neither of which happened.

Meanwhile, this blog slipped down my priority list in favor of the seemingly endless stream of multitasking that is taking care of very young children, keeping the house clean and finally testing out that Cubed Duck Steak With Pickled Rhubarb recipe for the Crock Pot. You’re really cheating yourself if you don’t let your duck steak and rhubarb simmer for at least half a waking day. And the atmospheric, grandma’s-house smell is better than potpourri.

It seems I’ve gently nudged Sarah’s body clock back since we returned home. During the ankle recovery exile at my in-laws’ house, Sarah was up at 8, down for her nap at 1, and in bed at 8, like clockwork. It’s still pretty clockwork-esque, but we’re living in some time zone a few hundred miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Sarah stays up until around 10 or 11, then she doesn’t get up until somewhere around 10 or 11 in the morning. Silas, meanwhile, doesn’t go to sleep for the night until somewhere between one and two. God help him, he has to watch the entire episode of “Last Call With Carson Daly.” Most 4 month olds go to bed after Jimmy Fallon. Silas is an incorrigible sleep maverick.

Sarah's untouched, unadorned birthday cake.

When she turned 2 this month, Sarah got to have three birthday celebrations she’ll never remember. The night of her birthday, we got a cake and a bunch of Hot-N-Ready Little Caesar’s Pizza**. She made a big old mess and was cute and loud. That weekend, we traveled down to Tiffany’s parents’ house, had pulled pork and opened presents. Sarah’s favorite gift is a trio of flat boards that contain rows of letter, number and animal shape blocks with little round plastic handles. In theory, the flat boards supposed to hold the blocks. In reality, this 2 year old prefers her blocks scattered throughout the upstairs of the house. More specifically, they’re scattered wherever my right foot is about to step when I’m holding Silas over my right shoulder and can’t see directly in front of me. Those little round plastic handles really hurt when you drop your weight on them. It’s been a bad autumn for me below the calf.

The third birthday observance was like a week and a half after Sarah’s birthday. Our next-door neighbor brought her four kids over, ranging in age from 3 to 8. We had more cake and, oh man, more Little Caesar’s Pizza. And Sarah was presented with a baby doll that the 8 year old kept reminding us had only cost her mom four bucks. It was fun to watch Sarah play with a group of bigger kids, and she took an immediate liking to the baby doll. In some cultures, 2 year olds take care of actual babies***, but Sarah’s chopped-and-screwed toddler attention span only allows her to be big-sisterly to the inanimate object for a minute or so. Inanimate Baby is outta luck with his toddler babysitter around these parts.

Okay, that’s it for now. See you tomorrow. Riiiiiiiiight…

*At various points in my modest life, the library computers have been my main means of accessing the Internet. It’s always an interesting scene at the library. Large, creepy middle-aged guy on my left is playing some game where he needs to find the Silver Sword of Samsifar so he can defeat the leather-winged griffin on the island of Kurr. Large, creepy middle-aged guy on my right is busy posting Facebook updates of how he’s doing in the eighth grade. I’m just there to pay my electric bill.

**Talk about a comeback. I grew four waist sizes to Little Caesar’s between seventh and tenth grades, then I thought they went out of business. Now you can walk into their restaurant and get a gooey, piping-hot, sweet-sauced pepperoni pizza immediately for five bucks. Maybe this was what finally snapped Snooki out of that anorexia. Well, that and the 1,500 empty alcohol calories she ingests before sundown. But I’m not here to bash orange-tinted MTV reality stars. I’m here to talk about freakin’ pizza. And my family. My loving family. Then pizza again. Then family, pizza, family, pizza, until the battery on my laptop runs out.

***Pulled that right out of my ass.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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.