Posts Tagged ‘stay-at-home dad’

Another Pathetic Son of a Bitch

December 1, 2010 1 comment

When I decided to return to school and become a stay at home dad, I vowed to not become one of the following:

  • Hipster Dad, who’s goateed face greets each day by donning the uniform of  jeans or cargo shorts, ironic t-shirt,  retro shoes and iPod,  and who then listens to Vampire Weekend and The Hold Steady while running errands, cooking and folding laundry.  Take a look at the picture of me with my kids in Central Park this summer to see how well I’ve avoided that trap.
  • Oprah Dad, who, much like Oprah Mom, rarely misses an episode of Oprah or Dr. Phil.  Or The View.  Or Ellen.  Or Kathie Lee and Hoda.  Or anything else on daytime television.  And who cannot carry on any conversation that isn’t an extension of that day’s programming.
  • Fat Dad, an example of which is doubtless within 50 feet of where you are.
  • Slave Dad, who spends every waking moment in servitude to his family, an endless stream of sports practices, errands, play dates, school projects, volunteer gigs as well as cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.

Central Park Summer 2010

So I’m a partial but not complete failure in this regard, which frankly is progress over the usual assessments directed my way.  To give myself some solace, context and excuse to drink beer during the middle of the day, I set up an interview with another stay at home dad also in my graduate program.

Jim Shoff is a former managing director at a Wall Street investment firm.  He took a buy-out awhile back and now splits his time between caring for his wife and three teenage children and attending communications graduate school at Queens University of Charlotte.  Where he once clipped bond coupons, today he clips actual coupons.  And while he doesn’t have a Wall Street salary anymore, Jim says he now gets paid in other ways that aren’t so immediate: for example, his kids have better lives and have been able to pursue new sports and interests.  We agreed how lucky we are to have this time with our kids.

With that necessary nicety behind us, we were both now free to express what a giant pain in the ass it is to be a stay at home parent.  Perhaps it’s better if not combined with the demands of graduate school–neither of us would know.  Certainly those women in the traditional housewife role had and still have difficult jobs.  Again, we don’t know but we’re also pretty sure those women have not had to endure the disapproving looks of strangers or snide remarks of family or acquaintances who consider our new roles as merely excuses to slack off while our wives support us.

Jim and I, we are heroes, we are victims…we are full of shit.  But then so is anyone else who considers raising their own kids the equivalent of hanging on a cross.  It’s difficult, unappreciated work, full of emotional minefields, long hours and the sort of cleaning tasks that would only be performed by someone who loves unconditionally.  But what else are you going to do?

Jim says he will one day return to work but not in banking.  Fittingly our conversation that day finished up on the topic of laundry–we both prefer top-loading washers.  He has two dryers.  I’m so jealous.


My Average Day is Shockingly Dull Yet Exhausting

November 18, 2010 6 comments

Yesterday was fairly typical for me–see below.  Bear in mind that any entry involving the children does not capture the true constant goat wrestle that is life with kids.  They are devoid of any memory of owning a book bag or coat let alone that these items should be with them when leaving the house in the morning and returning each afternoon.  Also absent from kids’ memories–pencils occasionally need sharpening; markers have caps; the existence of forks, spoons, napkins, tissues; toilets flush; oral hygiene; how to take a bath or shower; any items needed or due dates for school projects; current day of the week.  It’s easier to state what kids can remember, which is limited to what gifts they want, any promise you may have made them and any time you cursed in their presence.

Enough digressions, here’s my day for Wednesday, November 17, 2010:

8:00 Breakfast, make beds

8:30 am  Kids to school–no breakfast for Kate as she took 20 minutes to brush her teeth and walk downstairs

9:00 am Coffee, online newspapers, email, Twitter and text

9:30 am Finalize hotel contract for February trip to Washington, DC by Sam’s scout troop

10:00 am Gym–first week back since my toe injury.  Weights, floor exercises, half hour on Arc Trainer, run a half mile to test out the toe, ten minutes of soccer ball drills

11:30 am Lunch meeting & interview with fellow student Jim Shoff

2:30 pm Tutor undergraduate student

4:30 pm Return home, start laundry, unload dishwasher

5:00 pm Help kids with homework–Math help for Sam while Kate requires assistance to focus on anything that isn’t an animal or shiny

5:30 pm Start dinner while continuing homework help, more laundry

6:00 pm Usually in class by now but no class this week; phone call with childless friend whom I believe was sitting at a bar on the water in Miami across from his office–he sucks

7:00 pm Dinner, dishes, more laundry

8:00 pm Phone calls to finalize Thanksgiving plans with family while kids watch TV

8:30 pm Text wife to pick up another protractor for Sam, less than 24 hours after the last one was purchased

9:00 pm Cattle-prod Kate into bathtub

9:15 pm Remind Kate to bathe before water gets cold

9:30 pm Wash shivering daughter myself, wife arrives home following one of her two weekly study nights for EMBA classes

9:45 pm Kids in bed, wife’s night to read with Kate

9:50 pm Phone call from parents

10:10 pm Text reading, computer work

1:00 am Bed

No TV but I don’t consider that a loss.  Also absent was any significant contact with my wife, which she probably doesn’t consider a loss.  Mixed into the day were about a dozen car trips, a few random calls and several email and social media checks (except for Facebook, which I check about as often as I replace the AC filters in my house).  Took the picture below of me just before bed.

Does this make me look fat?

Actually I didn’t, I’m just jazzed for the opening of the next Harry Potter movie.  That’s a picture of Dobby, a house-elf from the Potter books and movies, and that pic is of course the copyrighted material of Warner Brothers.  I do feel like him some days though–not in a withered and persecuted sense but rather in the invisible, unappreciated laborer sense.  Better not tell anyone I speak Spanish or they’ll have me arrested.

Recipes from a Busy Stay-at-Home Dad

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve always enjoyed cooking but didn’t get to do a lot of it when I was working.  Now that I’m at home and in school, I’m cooking quite a bit more, both out of necessity and because it provides a much needed sense of creative accomplishment.  Plus my family are eating healthier, even when I’m in a night class and can’t actually be at the dinner table with them.

These are some of my favorite recipes.  Most require a minimal amount of prep work and cooking.   And all of these reheat well for another meal or if, like my house, someone is always arriving home late.  Try one out and let me know what you think.

Cuban Black Bean and Ham Soup

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Cuban Black Bean and Ham Soup

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, undrained
  • 1 pound lean or low-fat cubed ham
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • ¾ cup diced red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 quarts fat-free chicken stock
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • low-fat or fat-free sour cream
  • cilantro for garnish

In a 5-quart stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, red bell peppers and garlic. Sauté vegetables for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in ham and cook 2-3 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. Season with cumin and cilantro. Sauté for 1 minute to allow spices to toast. Blend in Rotel and tomato paste. Add chicken stock and black beans. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If a thicker, smoother soup is desired, purée half of the soup in a blender. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro.


Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lime Butter

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lime Butter

  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds of Mahi Mahi filets, approx. 1 inch thick
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime

Mix butter and lime zest into a paste.

Over medium hot grill, place filets skin side down—be sure to oil metal grate before adding fish.  In microwave, melt butter-zest mixture and add lime juice. Brush butter mixture onto filets. Cook fish 6-7 minutes on each side or until flaky.


Grilled Leg of Lamb

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Grilled Leg of Lamb

  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, 5 to 6 pounds, butterflied and skewered

Can substitute lamb chops or lamb shoulder chops.  The latter are cheap and tenderize quickly and well in the marinade.

1 Put onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil into a food processor and pulse to combine. (If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the onions, garlic, and rosemary very well and combine with the rest.)

2 Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper over the lamb. Place marinade and lamb into a 1-gallon freezer bag. Spread marinade over all sides of the meat. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and let sit for 20 minutes until meat reaches room temperature.  Remove from bag.

Preheat a gas grill on high heat.  Sear each side of the leg for 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 30 minutes or until thickest part of the leg registers 130 degrees on a meat thermometer, turning every 10 minutes.

For chops, preheat grill to medium high.  Grill chops for 4 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 minutes per side for medium.

Transfer meat to cutting board or serving platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let sit for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve with the meat juices.

For a great sauce, mix one cup of sour cream with one tbsp of horseradish and one tbsp milk.


Sautéed Campari Tomatoes

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Sautéed Campari Tomatoes

  • 1 pound Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tblsp minced garlic
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

Over medium high heat, add olive oil and garlic to pan.  After 30 seconds, add tomatoes.  Sauté uncovered, adding salt and pepper.  As tomatoes soften, add basil and cook until wilted.

Makes a great side dish for grilled chicken or steak.