Is cleanliness close to godliness?

Sometimes, it’s really hard to get kids to clean up their shit. Doubly so if they are hurtling towards pre-teen/teenager-dom. My kids, and wife, are no exception to this.

Initially, I had the idea of making a series of videos just for the kids to show them exactly what is expected of them when I tell them to clean something. I pictured it in the vein of the last half of Clockwork Orange, where Malcolm McDowell is getting rehabilitated. Only my interpretation would be without Malcolm and, you know, the boobs.

Then I had a thought: This would look pretty sweet on the blogMaybe there’s some ass of a father who doesn’t have a good concept of cleanliness… 

I would like to state for the record that the bathroom in question is by no means spotless by the end of the video. However it is certainly cleaner than it was at the start and is probably cleaner than your bathroom. 

Thanks for watching!

 

In which, you learn about Mr Did (or, ‘a little about me’).

One day, while I was going about my morning routine, I spied, my little bitty eye this fine fellow hanging out on the curtain in the room where I keep my computer.

katydid? katyDONE!

Naturally, I was taken a little aback by this given the fact that the room where I keep my computer is my bedroom and the curtain that he was camped out on was the curtain by the bed that I share with my wife. As a general rule, I don’t fuck with bugs. It’s not some convoluted religious philosophy, I just generally accept the fact that everything on this planet has it’s job. Everything. If the bug is keeping me from getting something done, or else is just generally being a nuisance, well, that’s a different story.

Given that I have never seen a bug like this before, I was filled with a mild consternation. And given that we are living in a digital age, I posted that shit to the internet.

Less than five minutes go by and one of my Facebook friends informs me that this is indeed a Katydid, it’s edible, and that I should establish dominance by eating it.

Alas, this was a minute too late!

I replied: 

“… it’s not really edible anymore. After having a long conversation with it, I learned that: 1. It’s voice is deeper than Barry White’s 2. It hailed from the Greater Ohio Katydid Orphanage 3. It truly enjoyed watching my wife sleep and it was plotting my untimely demise by attacking me repeatedly (after my wife had gone to bed, forcing me to read by the use of my book-light). I must admit that it was relatively successful because I had thought that it was the grasshopper that had gotten trapped in our room a few days ago. Yes, this is not the first time that an exotic bug has gotten trapped in our room. (Seriously, I don’t know how these little shits do it: Our house is two-stories and our bedroom is on the second floor!). After concluding my conversation with Mr. Did, He found out exactly how heavy my dictionary was. Repeatedly. The lesson? I value the weight of words.”

In short, if I am reading, do not bug me.

How to make a “Daniel J. Burger”.

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Ingredients

This is a general list. Don’t take it as gospel. At the core of any burger is the meat and the egg (because it acts like an adhesive that holds the meat and goodies together). To make a Daniel J. burger you need those two things and a good onion. That’s it. 

  • Meat
  • Egg (The actual number you use varies depending on how much goodness you’re trying to stuff in your burger. I generally stick with two eggs. If it’s too wet {don’t puss out, you’ll know how wet is too wet} cut that shit with some bread crumbs).
  • Onion (Whatever the fuck you got works. Me, I stick with the sweeter variety).
  • Sauces (hot sauce, teriaki, ketchup, mustard, whatever). *OPTIONAL
  • Seasonings (Whatever you’re trying to get rid of will work as long as it compliments everything else.).
  • Goodies (Beans, veg, fruit, get freaky with it. It’s your damn burger.). *OPTIONAL
  1. It starts with the meat.
Take the meat, break it up in a bowl with a spatula or whatever you have handy.

Take the meat, break it up in a bowl with a spatula or whatever you have handy.

2. Season that shit.

Start with the dry stuff first. Don't just dump it on there and leave it, dummy. Mix it in with whatever the fuck you used to break up the meat.

Start with the dry stuff first. Don’t just dump it on there and leave it, dummy. Mix it in with whatever the fuck you used to break up the meat.

Do the same thing with the sauces. Yes, you have to mix that in too.

Do the same thing with the sauces. Yes, you have to mix that in too.

3. Put the meat to the side and cut up the onion. It’ll give the beef a chance to suck up all of      that goodness you just assaulted it with.

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Behold! The Might of the Onion! As it makes most things tasty!

 

 

After the onion is chopped to your liking, add it to the meat.

After the onion is chopped to your liking, add it to the meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, do the same thing with the sauces and spices. Mix that shit up real good homey!

Then, do the same thing you did with the sauces and spices. Mix that shit up real good homey!

4. Now for the eggs.

They don't have to be brown. I'm not an egg snob like that. They can be whatever you want. I just happened to have brown on hand because The Wife wanted them. I will say this though, in terms of fried eggs and omelets and such, the brown egg is unparalleled. Too bad it costs too damn much.

They don’t have to be brown. I’m not an egg snob like that. They can be whatever you want. I just happened to have brown on hand because The Wife wanted them. I will say this though, in terms of fried eggs and omelets and such, the brown egg is unparalleled. Too bad it costs too damn much.

Crack the eggs and start mixing that shit with your hands. This is what it looks like when you have done it right.

Crack the eggs and start mixing that shit with your hands. This is what it looks like when you have done it right.

5. Start making patties, beotch.

I don't know what the proper ounce rate is for a burger. I generally try and make them a bit on the smaller side so there's left overs and because my peeps don't eat with wooden legs in mind.

I don’t know what the proper ounce rate is for a burger. I generally try and make them a bit on the smaller side so there’s left overs and because my peeps don’t eat with wooden legs in mind.

Put that shit on a plate, you patty making fool!

Put that shit on a plate, you patty making fool!

When you've gone through all of the meat, wrap that shit with plastic wrap.

When you’ve gone through all of the meat, wrap that shit with plastic wrap.

Then put them in the fridge. Most people would dispute this, but I swear by it. By letting the meat chill, your letting it recoup thereby ensuring that the patty keeps it's shape. I've made burgers without this step and they've always fallen the fuck to pieces on me. Generally, I let them chill for an hour. You don't want to let them sit for too long. If you do that, you'll start losing juices. *Beavis laugh* Juices.

Then put them in the fridge. Most people would dispute this, but I swear by it. By letting the meat chill, you’re letting it recoup thereby ensuring that the patty keeps it’s shape. I’ve made burgers without this step and they’ve always fallen the fuck to pieces on me. Generally, I let them chill for an hour. You don’t want to let them sit for too long. If you do that, you’ll start losing juices. *Beavis laugh* Juices.

6. Get cookin’ sucka!

There's plenty of ways to cook a burger: grill, pan fry, baking, whatever. I used the panini because it cuts down on the cooking time. It's a bitch to clean but it's worth it. You just have to make sure the fucker is hot enough.

There’s plenty of ways to cook a burger: grill, pan fry, baking, whatever. I used the panini because it cuts down on the cooking time. It’s a bitch to clean but it’s worth it. You just have to make sure the fucker is hot enough.

Yes, the panini cooks on both sides. Mine is cheap so I still have to flip whatever I'm cooking on it to get the same look on both sides. This was after one flip.

Yes, the panini cooks on both sides. Mine is cheap so I still have to flip whatever I’m cooking on it to get the same look on both sides. This was after one flip.

7. Don’t forget to eat the son of a bitch.

See? Burgers are easy. Cooking is easy too (just so long as you don't freak out and act like a little bitch).

See? Burgers are easy. Cooking is easy too (just so long as you don’t freak out and act like a little bitch).

In the end, regardless of who you are and in spite of what you have going on in your life, cooking is an essential skill. 

Got a burger recipe? Wanna let me have it for the amount of “fucks” I put in my entries? Sally forth in the comments at the top of this post! 

A brief word on food.

One of the cornerstones of our society is the necessity of food. While our bodies can survive for nearly three weeks without it (Gandhi, yep the “Be the change you wish to see in the world guy”, also known as Sir Ben Kingsley to others…. survived 21 days of complete starvation. Obviously he had water or else he would have been dead inside of 5 days) one would think that it would be common sense for an individual to have a working knowledge of food preparation (e.g. you know the difference between your ass and a hole in the ground when you step foot in the kitchen).

Sadly, most people cannot make the aforementioned distinction. 

If you marked my progress in the kitchen from when I first started out as a stay at home parent, to now, it would be a thick, black line that traveled through smoke (the smoke being whatever the fuck it was that I was cremating in the oven), traversed canyons of boxed dinners (mac ‘n’ cheese was not only friend to my family but also really friggin’ versatile: seriously google it. People have taken that staple a real long way) and is currently supporting someone who cannot only improvise on the fly, but also follow some pretty complicated recipes.

Cooking is not scary. It is following directions. That’s all that it is. 

If you’re not completely sold on the idea that you should be working on being considered a wizard in the kitchen, cooking is also SCIENCE. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that (even if you aren’t a dad, husband, whatever) chicks dig a guy who knows his way around the kitchen.

Currently, I have a very modest collection of recipes here. Unless otherwise noted, most of them ARE NOT MINE. 

If they are not mine, I will obviously say so. I will link to the origin site, the original recipe or (if it’s something out of a book, for instance) I will link to the Amazon page featuring the book (if there isn’t any other stones for me to turn over).

While a lot of people would consider this a “hack” thing to do, I would also like to point out that they are missing the obvious: IF  A RECIPE IS ON HERE, IT’S BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL RECIPE DIDN’T HAVE ANY FUCKING PICTURES. 

My main goal in making recipes a part of this site is to educate people (men, specifically) that they should be cooking more instead of relying on simpleton shit like fast food or boxed dinners or any other garbage. The sad truth is that Men are less likely to get their asses in the kitchen if there aren’t any pictures. 

It is my hope that in posting the steps, with the pictures, and the general amount of time it took me to work through the recipe, that some of the sting will be taken out of learning how to cook.

Additionally, if people have a general problem with what I’m doing (be it the creator of the recipe or people in general), I warmly invite them to shut up: if you didn’t want people giving you free publicity about something you created, you shouldn’t have put it on the internet in the first place.

Why I think I’m qualified to talk about this shit.

As stated in the previous post, I am a stay at home parent and have been one for the past 5 years.

That’s it. That’s the only legitimate qualification I have that gives me license to blog about shit that is related to stay at home parenting from the male perspective.

If you want to go a bit deeper, here are some other things that may qualify as qualifications:

  1. Prior to committing myself to my family, I had been working since I was 14. For the slower people out there, by the powers of MATH, that means that I had been working, and holding employment for nearly two decades. Why is this worth a mention? Because a large percentage of the people that you share oxygen with are burdened with the stigma that most men become stay at home parents because they’re fuck ups who have shit wrong with them and can’t keep a job. By the way, if you thought that about me, fuck you.
  2. I have multiple college degrees. Fat lot of good they’re doing me, right? I’m only mentioning them here to make the people who thought I was a fuck up feel even shittier about their judgmental bullshit.
  3. I have been with the same person for nearly 12 years. We have three children together (Two of the children share my DNA: That’s right, the oldest was part of a package deal when I was courting my wife. Best quote I have ever heard about that was something along the lines of “It takes a big man to be a father, but an even bigger man to be a father to someone else’s child. Suck on that, person who initially thought I was a dead-beat.)
  4. Then there’s this photographic evidence:
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The middle child.

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The youngest child.

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The eldest child.

In short, I think that I know what I’m talking about. Should you disagree, feel free to comment on the matter in the comments section at the top of this post OR feel free to fill out the contact form at the top of the page. Just remember the golden rule: don’t be a dick. 

Dealing with parental stigmas.

In the event that you are a Stay-at-home Dad (Bully for you!) I’m sure that you are still trying to get your sea legs and work out all of the kinks. It’s not a science after all.

Have you gotten to the point where you’ve wanted to say “The hell with everything!” and run away screaming into the night? Has the irrepressible feeling that you are underappreciated around your own home become to feel like an albatross around your neck, slowly pulling you down into the ether? Have you thought about getting divorced because you can’t handle the adjustment phase?

It may seem like I am joking, but I’m not. There’s something inside the male persona that does not let them properly articulate their own feelings. There are a few shining stars who are able to do this and I admire them for it. But for the most part, men shut down completely if they have to talk about their feelings.

I’m no exception to this, are you?

Consider this the next time that you are thinking about walking away: While the phenomenon of dad’s who stay at home is relatively fresh, it has been argued that “divorce will become less harmful to children than it is today. Father’s who share the care for the children will feel a stronger attachment to their children and will be less likely to stop visiting or helping…” (Smith, p.49, 2009)

Still don’t think your presence has made a difference?

That’s all right. I don’t blame you. Anyone who says that they were completely prepared for being a stay-at-home parent (or just being a parent) is a complete liar.

I have long been of the opinion that the one thing that keeps transitioning from being a breadwinner to a stay-at-home Dad an easy right of passage is the stigma that is attached to it.

Gasp! Negative sentiments about a man staying at home with his children?

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! There most definitely is a stigma attached to being a Stay-at-Home dad. 

My first encounter with it was 5 years ago during the paperwork portion of renting our house. I was on the phone, talking to the woman who ran the rental office in an attempt to build a rapport with her and to galvanize the fact that my family and I weren’t hillbillies.

Then she asked me what I did for a living.

I told her that I was a Stay-at-Home Dad.

It was like someone had flipped a switch. She went from being all chummy and glad to having someone of solid character in one of her properties to a cold-hearted shell of a person. She couldn’t get off of the phone fast enough.

“…This myth, (that) Stay-at-Home Dad’s are dysfunctional parents who are so demoralized by unemployment that they are incapable of pulling their weight around their house” (Smith, p.58, 2009) is perpetrated by every member of society who has every given a man playing with his kids at the playground before noon a funny look.

Who’s to say if this stigma will ever be put in the ground?

While as a society we are constantly evolving and creating, there are just some things that won’t go away. Racism, ageism, sexism… Basically any sort of -ism. What adds insult to injury is the fact that these things, these -isms are all born of our personalities.

I’m just as responsible for this stigma as much as you are.

Consider this: 4 out of 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families. Additionally, there are an estimated 143,000 Stay-at-Home Dads with children under the age of 15, worldwide (Stout, 2010).

While men being the caregivers for the children may be a relatively new twist that our society has taken it should also be noted that gender roles as a whole are starting to change. More fathers are starting to participate in the daily mechanics of their families (dropping kids off and volunteering at their school) than their predecessors. If you want further proof, you needn’t look any further than the diaper-changing table in the men’s room (Gill, 2001). Additionally, “more and more fathers are filing complaints with the federal EEOC claiming that their employers have discriminated against them because of their care giving roles… (Some) employers have wrongly denied male employees requests for leave for childcare purposes while granting similar requests to female employees… (This results in) men deciding that they want a work/family balance” (Smith, p. 76, 2009).

So by now, I’m sure you are wondering what all of this means? Facts are great but they aren’t going to help you through your daily family-balancing act.

This means that you are not alone. You’re not feeling feelings that haven’t been felt before. And you most certainly are not going through something no one else has gone through before.

It seems like a bitter pill to swallow but it’s not. If you’re having a hard time adjusting to not being the breadwinner, find someone who has gone through what you are going through and petition them for advice.

Not sure you want to do this for the rest of your life? Then find someone who has made a career of this and see what they think.

As our society continues to grow and evolve so will the number and nature of parents who stay at home with their children.

If your situation isn’t working for you, it’s up to you to fix it.

Sources Consulted

Gill, LIbby. (2001). Stay-at-Home Dads: The Essential Guide to Creating the New Family. New York: Penguin Group.

Smith, Jeremy Adam. (2009). The Daddy Shift. Boston: Beacon Press.

Stout, Hillary. (2010). When Roles Reverse: The Rise of the Stay-at-Home Husband. Retrieved from:   Today Parenting.

How I started as a stay at home parent.

For all intents and purposes, I can be socially classified as a ‘stay at home parent’. Here’s how I started out.

I came into this position by way of getting fired from my job. At the time, this stung a little bit since I had three children and a wife to support. Ultimately, my dismissal wasn’t that much of an issue because:

  1.  I knew I was going to get fired. Management was completely turning over the store. Anyone who had a negative thing to say about how things were going got the axe. If things weren’t that simple, the people who spoke up the loudest were set up to fail. I was one of those people.
  2. The plan that the wife and I had from the beginning was for me to be a Stay-at-home parent as soon as she finished school and got a job. As you can see, this as merely an acceleration of our plan.

She was so great about me getting fired. She had already known about everything that was going on. I think that some part of her thought that it was just a matter of time as well.

As a Stay-at-Home Dad, I had it relatively easy at first. My wife was completing her last semester of nursing school which necessitated her being home full time as well. The “hardest” part of my day was keeping the younger two kids occupied long enough while Mommy found a quiet part of the apartment to hole up and study in.

Keeping the house from looking like a bomb just went off? Piece of cake. Our apartment was a bit on the small side plus there were two adults there for most of the day. Keeping the kids occupied and happy? No problem! I completely loved being there for them. The title “Daddy” became synonymous with playtime and all around merriment. [I think that this was in large part a reaction to the type of father that I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “dad bashing”. My father was a good man and I know he tried but for myself (being the youngest of four by nine years) it was too little too late. As a result, when I became a parent myself, I came to the conclusion that the only thing that I really needed to do in order to be a successful parent was the opposite of everything that my parents did.]

Two months into my new job, the wife and I eventually made the decision that we needed to move in with someone until we got “back on our feet”.

As a man, this was a tough thing for me to do. I don’t care if it sounds cliché. Men are conditioned to provide for their family. It wasn’t until the move that the feeling of being a failure began to sink in. On some levels, I still have this feeling. Being the breadwinner and getting fired from your job is a rough thing to go through. It may seem impossible but  “even if it is forced on you by a layoff or any other external circumstance it (being a Stay-at-Home Dad) can only work as long as you stay in touch with the feeling that you are doing something important” (Gill, p.50, 2001).

By July, we’ve completely moved into my sister’s house and my job gets even easier. Now, there’s even less ground to cover and there’s a third adult! I hit the jackpot.

Within weeks of moving in, the wife found a job and things were pretty good. The hardest part of my life at that time was trying to figure out what got capitalized in “stay at home dad”. 

We stayed at my sister’s through the middle of November. After Thanksgiving break, we moved into our first house.

Then the honeymoon came to an abrupt and hellish halt. After the last few boxes were unpacked, the wife and I constantly butted heads on every little thing. There was no middle ground.

If you are a Stay-at-Home Dad, don’t get scared: this is perfectly natural. “Expect dads to do things differently from moms… Men and Women are different… Their differences should be recognized and embraced” (Gill, p. 50, 2001). Personally, I would take a fight about the type of soap in the bathroom any day than complete indifference. If you’re fighting at least you know that the other person cares enough to put in that kind of effort.

Don’t like fighting? Then communicate. Communicate like you have never communicated before. Don’t confuse this with giving in on every little thing. If your wife has some sort of hair-brained scheme about anything or something is not getting done to her liking at all do her the courtesy of hearing her out.

Seriously, stop what you are doing and give her your undivided attention. It might not be that wacky of a plan after all. She may be right about your ability to clean something properly. Or she may have gone completely around the bend, regardless, hear her out. If she’s wrong, then logically and politely shoot her down. If things give the appearance of going nuclear, COMPROMISE.

Find that middle ground.

That way everybody wins.

** Since we’ve been ‘on our own’, I have been practicing what I have been preaching and things have been great. Things may not get done on a regular basis or they may not get done to someone else’s liking but everyone is getting the respect that they need.

Source Consulted

Gill, Libby. (2001). Stay-at-Home Dads: The Essential Guide to Creating the New Family. New York: Penguin Group.

In which, I tell you what this is all about.

So, what’s this site all about? Who’s running this show? How do I navigate all of this flotsam? I didn’t realize that I was signed up for this… wasn’t this a blog of a different color?

Greetings and salutations! My name is Matt and I am a stay at home parent who currently resides in NW Florida. It is my sincere hope that “The Rank Spoon” becomes a repository for all of the information that a man needs to navigate dad-dom. Shit, even if you aren’t a family man, hell even if you aren’t a man, there should be something of interest to you: I do go on about things.

As I cover more topics, I will be updating the category list regularly. Currently, I posts lined up for:

  • Food
  • Dad know-how
  • (Occasional) Admin  (such as news, rants, what I’m doing elsewhere)
  • Man-health
  • Sex
  • Your Significant other

And yes, this blog used to be a lot different. I came to the conclusion that while I was enjoying what I was writing about, it just wasn’t for me.

For the record, I’d like to point out that when I did buckle down and tell people that I was a stay at home parent, everyone told me that I should write about it. This was over 5 years ago.

I didn’t know shit then.

I still don’t think I know shit.

But I do know that if current “me” were in a room with the “me of 5 years ago” I’d totally whoop the “me of 5 years ago” like the little bitch that he was.

Thanks for reading this,

Matt