Getting kids to do things: putting away clothes

Any parent, let alone a stay-at-home Dad, needs to be a good communicator. You need to know what to say and when to say it.

Let me set the stage for you: 3 years ago one of the things that I have struggled with up until a couple of months ago, was getting my oldest daughter (who was 7 going on 40 at the time) to put away her clothes properly. This had been something that was a sore point for both me and my wife since we started having our daughter put away her clothes. (She was 5 when we started this agonizing process.)

Both together and on our own, my wife and I had taken the time to point out what article of clothing should be put away ‘where’ and what should be hung up on a hanger as opposed to what we were ok with being folded and put away in a drawer.

Our daughter speaks English. She’s not blind. There’s nothing holding her back from doing all of the normal, physical things that 7-year-old children do. She just chose not to put away her clothes the right way most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s been able to do it right the first time every so often but for the most part, she would do everything in her power to do it the wrong way. I would find dresses balled up behind her desk, underwear stashed underneath the bathroom sink… My personal favorites were the multiple times when she would cram everything that needed to be folded into one bin.

We’ve taken stuff away. We’ve threatened with grounding. We’ve made her do it over and over and over again. Then we thought we were doing something wrong. So we (my wife and I) and reevaluated our daughters clothing arrangements and made it ‘idiot proof’. Nothing was working. We had gotten to the point where we thought what might be considered effective, might not be appropriate.

It was after the last ‘idiot-proofing’ (what you see in the following picture) that my wife and I had our last straw. It was more of the same thing. Clothes stashed, knickers hidden, dresses barely on the hanger in the first place.

While my wife was ripping apart our daughters closet again, I calmly and severely reminded our child of the last room that she occupied. Prior to living where we are now, our daughter had to share a room with her younger brother (he’s 4 now) and her younger sister (she’s 2 now). It was a small room, taken up mainly by a bunk bed and crib that she, our eldest daughter, was in charge of keeping neat and tidy. It was something that she was able to do with great ease as the 3 of them only had a handful of personal belongings in it.

I told her quite plainly that it would be the same situation. Only now, it would be the 3 of them all in one room, with 3 separate beds, and all of their possessions. And she would be in charge of cleaning all of it. Regardless of ‘who’ made ‘what’ mess.

She understood me quite clearly and has long been aware of the fact that I never bluff. Her closet along with her room has never been a problem since.

I never claimed to have all of the answers. But I have some ideas on where you can get them.

Everyone needs a little help now and again. The loose idea with this part of my site is that it’s going to be a rolling list of links that people can click to because there will be some things in the future that I am a bit out of my depth on.

New as of Wednesday,  December 16th 2015

MISCELLANEOUS

MUSIC

  • I don’t like handing money over to iTunes to get some new music going. Does anyone, really? Through ways that escape me, I have found Listen to Youtube. Be careful where you click: this is an ad heavy site. It’s not completely obnoxious, you just have to “read” before you click. Wanna have a go with me about “pirating”? Fill out the contact form, fucker: I’ll show you what “swabbing the deck” really means. (Edited: I’d also like to point out that normally, I would get new audio stuffs from the local library. My current library stinks. As in, I can’t get new audio stuffs. They don’t have the funding. Seriously. So, there’s that).
  • BEHOLD! The Rollins Archive. Henry Rollins’ radio show from the very beginning. For free. Download it. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Fugazi created a comprehensive web site of all of their shows. Even if you don’t know who they are, you need to check this out. Also, the music can be bought on the cheap

PODCASTS

As a stay at home dad with three kids in school and a deep-seated phobia of having to deal with people on a regular basis, I have discovered the pot of veritable wonder that is podcasts. The first link is the home page for the podcast, the link underneath that is a specific podcast that everyone ought to listen to.

RECIPES AND FOOD

MOTIVATION!

Look no further than Henry Rollins. 

I first saw Henry in an ad for Macs in one of my sister’s Rolling Stone Magazines. I was super young, definitely pre-teen. If I’m not mistaken, shortly after that ad, he ended up having a column in Rolling Stone for a short period of time.

I have been a fan ever since.

Since I have come to be a certain age, a lot of what he has talked about has held a certain resonance with me. Just… Just check him out.

If that’s not your bag, try some Neil Gaiman on for size. 

In Which, I Talk About My Adventures in Body Hair Grooming.

Shortly after our world had stepped over the threshold into the 2000’s, man-scaping became a ‘thing’. Men, once hairy of forearm, were spotted out in public working on their farmer’s tan. Father’s once ashamed to sit on their front porch on a hot day, without a shirt, could now do so and know what a stiff breeze felt like on their stubbly back. Eventually, the Internet to spoke up and created a new word for these men who folliculy manipulated their appearance (amongst other things). And lo! metro-sexuals were born.

For those who don’t know what that is, the term metrosexual is a now antiquated term used to identify a grown male who takes care of their appearance in the same way that women zealously use beauty products and age defying cleansers. This male, the metrosexual, sexually prefers women, contrary to the implication of their description.

Men began publicly identifying as ‘metro’ when Bravo put Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on the air. Essentially, this was a reality show that took 5 gay men (of some renown) and tasked them with some hapless chump who couldn’t dress himself and lived like a college kid in a dorm room.

Yes, I watched the show regularly for the first couple of seasons. Don’t judge: it was 43 minutes of catty gay men ripping on a man child. What’s not to like about that?

At the height of the metro sexual phenomenon, my older brother and I were regular drinking companions.

On one particular excursion, I had met him at his apartment in Brooklyn, Ohio. For some impossibly stupid reason, my brother needed to change his shirt. He did it really fast, like the fat kid in gym class. But it wasn’t fast enough for me to notice that something was ‘off’.

His torso, from his pierogi shaped chesticles down to his (at the time) 3rd trimester food baby belly was completely nude. No hair. Smooth & shiny.

I didn’t question him at the time (probably because it was his turn to buy) but I did have an immediate thought. Either he’s on estrogen pills or something fucked up is going on here!

  • My father was a hairy man. He wasn’t Robin Williams hairy but he had enough for people to make sweater jokes should he doff his top. As such, my oldest brother (not the drinking buddy) was also hairy. Point of fact: I remember seeing a picture of Oldest Brother from the 1980’s in which he was wearing a sleeveless shirt. The hair on his shoulder/upper arm area was the same length as his moustache. Further, I was (and am) hairy. It only stands to reason that all males from the same parents would be just as hairy as the father, no? My confusion was palpable.

I questioned my brother about the incident recently and this is what he had to say.

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Sidebar!

Yes, I probably did call him a faggot. No, I don’t recall given that this was over 10 years ago. In the event that there might be someone somewhere reading this with bunched panties, I’d like to point out a few things that you may or may not be aware of.

The relationship between brothers, good brothers who keep in touch and have your back when you need it, should be the epitome of tough love. Case in point, if one brother is doing something vaguely effeminate, it is the duty of the other brother to call him out on such behavior. Doubly so, if the reasoning for the effeminate behavior was unsound. Hence, my word choice.

Do I use this word regularly? Nope. Have I in the past? Yep. But not in a harmful way.

My understanding and use of the word fag, as well as gay, or retarded has been in terms to describe something as dumb, boring, or useless. Do I still use those words in the same way? Not really. I have kids who understand the comic value in swearing and name calling. As a result, I have to watch my mouth.

End of Sidebar!

After my brother’s admission and his reasoning (that being, it made him feel less ape-like) I decided to give it a try. Sadly, I thought at the very least a lack of body hair might help my chances with the ladies as I had just come out of a horrible relationship at the time and I was remarkably lonely.

That’s right: the advent of man-scaping officially brought men into the circle of hell that the advertising & cosmetic industries had been holding women hostage in for years. “Do this thing with that product and the mate you want will love you forever”. Such a sad, and fucked up world we live in sometimes, no? I digress…

The first time I did it was on a wintry Sunday night in the laundry room of my mother’s basement. No, not exactly prudent timing on my part as far as the seasonality goes. And yes, I was still living at home at the time. Why? You might be asking… Because it was a lot cheaper than living in some shithole apartment.

There were a few remarkable things I noticed upon completion.

  1. Since I had never done it before, I decided that everything must go from the head down. So I took a pair of clippers and went to town. The drop in temperature from start to finish was bananas! (In the future, I made the strategic choice to doff my fur coat during the height of summer. It makes existing when the temperature is 90+ degrees much more bearable).
  2. Muscles. I had muscles. I had never noticed them given all of the personal foliage.
  3. Genital shaving is a fine art. Additionally, there is no greater pain than shaving your junk and knicking it because you were having a hard time clear-cutting the forest, as it were. And yes, the first time I knicked myself was the first time I was teary-eyed and trying not to land on the laundry room floor.

The next day, everything was amazing. My skin was new. Wearing clothes, watching the muscles in my forearm work, even taking a shower was a new experience. I was convinced that no woman would find me attractive as hairy as I was and I became fanatical about man-scaping for the next 10 years.

My fanaticism reached the point where I would actually take shaving cream and razor to a given area after it had been buzzed with the clippers. I was in pretty deep and it was inescapable. About a year later, advertising company’s were capitalizing on this new trend. Special clippers and lotions were made just for man-scaping.

The bitch of all that nonsense was that I had found someone who loved me for me within a year. Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on me until almost 7 years into our relationship that I could be doing all sorts of other things with the time I spent shaving myself.

Nowadays, the only shaving I do is my face and my swimsuit area. On occasion, other areas will be groomed but only by my wife’s hand. She enjoys it and it keeps her calm.

I’m sure there are weirder forms of meditation out there.

Getting Your Kid to Shed Their Training Wheels.

That’s not a metaphor. I’m being literal.

When it comes to teaching a kid to ride their bike, I have found that the only thing that will help you (and your child) is having a healthy understanding of your child’s personality (Are they an adventuresome hooligan? Or are they someone you’ll eventually have to kick out of your house when they hit they’re late 20’s?), consistency (NO! YOU AND JUNIOR CANNOT TAKE A DAY OFF FROM LEARNING HOW TO RIDE!), repetition (See previous parenthetical) AND ONE, METRIC FUCK-TON OF PATIENCE.

Preamble.

When it comes to determining your approach to getting your kid road-ready, you need to be a bit choosy about the method that you adopt.

Some people will tell you to take away one of their training wheels (like how I learned) so they can work on finding their center of balance. The only foreseeable problem with this is that you run the risk of your kid milking the fuck out of jettisoning the last training wheel. I have vague recollections of doing this when I was this age and I sure as shit remember my son pulling this on me as well.

Other people will tell you to fuck all that. They’ll tell you to take the kid (and the bike…) for a drive to the nearest hill. Then they’ll tell you to pitch both training wheels, give the kid a speech about learning to ‘nut-up’, and then assemble kid on top of bike and pitch them screeching down the hill. Here’s the problem with this method: Most kids aren’t dumb enough to fall for this. They also have large and long memory banks. In the event that they do take the bait, they will kill you in your sleep when they are 16 because of the time you told them to ‘nut-up’ right before they got a compound fracture because you were being an asshole. 

Then there are those of you out there who like tools and gimmicks like ‘coasting bikes’ (No shit: I have seen infomercials selling a training bike that  doesn’t have any pedals. It’s basically a scooter minus the ‘standing bit’. Seriously, why waste the money when you can just take the pedals of off your Tater-Tots trike??? )  or those bikes ‘half-bikes’ that attach to the parent’s bike (I’m assuming the purpose of those is so the kid can get an idea of what bike riding is?).

What My Kids Put Me Through When I Taught Them How to Ride.

I don’t believe that there is a ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way to teach your kid how to ride their bike.

When the eldest was learning how to ride, I was working all of the time so I missed out on that. With the youngest (and smartest of the three) I barely had to do anything. There wasn’t any one training wheel stuff or removing her pedals so she can learn how to coast. All I had to do was go out there with her and give her a shove every so often until she got the hang of it. The middle child, he was such a glorious pain in the ass about learning how to ride his bike. 

For the record, my son’s personality has always been that of a little old man. To wit, he knows what he likes as well as doesn’t like, and he fucking hates change. (I’m the same way to a degree).

I took off one training wheel, I removed the pedals and taught him how to coast, I put the pedals back on (but not the training wheels) and I spent a lot of time walking around our neighbor hunched over from being ordered (by my progeny) to not let go of his handlebars while we did our lap around the block.

Eventually I won this battle. The day came when he acknowledged that he didn’t need me as much when it came to riding his bike. In order to ensure this concession, I told him (in so many words) that if we were to leave the house on foot, he had to ride his bike.

What the ‘Learning How to Ride a Bike’ Resources Are Lacking.

The most important thing you can teach your kid about riding their bike is how to fall off of it and not get hurt. 

Some, if not all bike riding resources available to parents seem to skimp on the fact that your Tater Tot will fall down and go boom when they are first starting out. While that’s not helpful at all, it’s also not surprising. Kid’s don’t like getting hurt anymore than their asshole parents do. 

What worked the best for me when I was teaching the boy how to ride was figuring out which foot was his dominate foot and then lowering his seat all the way down. If their seat is as low as it can go, then you are basically minimizing their chances of injury (a selling point in the event that your kid is being a bit of a pussy about the whole thing…) and if you know what foot is the dominate foot, then you also know which foot they are more likely to use in order to avoid doing a face plant.

In Conclusion.

Don’t be one of those assholes who makes a fuss every time your Tot falls down and gets hurt. Yes, you should show some concern. But it shouldn’t go any further than that.

In the event that you are one of those parents who fusses every time your kid gets hurt: Nice going asshole! You’re setting a bad example!

The only thing that a kid gets from a parent who fusses every time said kid falls down and goes boom is the idea that physical pain is something to be feared and in some instances it can be used to get attention from the parent. No, kids don’t articulate it exactly like that, but it’s the truth.

People get hurt. Old, young, poor health, good health: the sooner you teach your kid that, the sooner they’ll accept it and make it a part of their life.

In the end, what will work for both you and your soon to be bike rider is consistency, repetition, AND A FUCKTON OF PATIENCE. The more patience the both of you have, the easier it will be. 

A quick-ish word about “depression” being a son of a bitch.

Before I say anything further, it should be noted that I have absolutely no medical credentials. I have no certifications. I have also not been treated for depression. I am a man who has experience with depression.

As such, the purpose of this post is to address the topic of depression in the event that there is someone out there, male or female, working parent or stay at home parent (like myself) who is “down in the dumps” as the vernacular goes.

A little about me.

In terms of my genetic make up and heritage, there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about me. I’m a white male, of Irish descent. While I don’t like to bandy about cliches or stereotypes, what they say about Irish men being emotionally retarded is fucking true.

We don’t like our feelings. We don’t like talking about our feelings. We certainly think that there should be a medical procedure to remove the little buggers so we can live the rest of our lives in drunken ignorance.

I am no exception to any of the above.

I don’t like talking about myself PERIOD. I never have. As I am usually loathe to deal with anything feeling related, it can be safely assumed that I have never given it much thought. In general, I have always preferred to listen to other people talk about themselves. What’s at work there, is the fact that most people, LOVE TALKING ABOUT THEMSELVES.

Perhaps I’m a coward. Perhaps it’s a level of self consciousness that I’m not willing to deal with. Maybe it has something to do with some childhood trauma that has been buried deep within my dome. I just don’t know.

From ages 12 to 35, there have been numerous points in my life where I have been depressed. This isn’t the “boo hoo I can’t get laid” type of depression (even though some of it was). This is the “being a lone peach in a can full of syrup, fully realized” type of depression. Everything is awful. Every movement feels like trying to walk through waist deep water.

For the record, this has lessened substantially within the past 12 years.

What I am getting at.

As a parent, depression is a relatively easy trap to set for yourself.

Kids are fucking expensive. They’re not “gifts”. They are people. People cost money. Kids need money in order to grow. That right there is fuel enough to make any parent, new or seasoned, feel like they are in a race that they can’t win.

As a parent who stays at home (especially if you are a dad), it’s even easier to feel the wastes of depression seep in. YOUR JOB DOESN’T END. You don’t get that moment to look forward to when you realize that your workday is almost over and you get to go home. You are all ready there. Nothing ever stays clean and simple things like your asshole kids turning off the fucking bathroom light upon exit amounts to you asking them to build a goddamn rocket.

What’s worse is the fact that all of the parents around you are either bad at parenting or they are just assholes. Effectively you are on your own.

“In the event of fire”.

It’s ok to fall down every once in a while. What you have to keep in mind is that you can’t be the person your kids need if you can’t pick yourself up off the ground. Being depressed is ok. Letting it control your life and inform your behavior in your immediate environment is not ok.

If you need help, ask your significant other. Don’t have one? Think of the one person that has been close to you all of your life and ask them. That’s what they are there for.

If you are like me (emotionally stunted) and you don’t want to due to whatever cockamamie excuse you’ve cooked up, you still need to do something about it.

 This is where the Tumblr comes in handy. Don’t fuck around with the internet. That’s just asking for trouble. On tumblr I see a lot of posts about depression and what to do when you’re in it. A lot of them seem like they are on the level. As far as I know, you don’t need a tumblr account to use tumblr. Why not give it a look? 

What I do.

 My general rule when it comes to dealing with anything negative is that I am allowed 20 minutes to feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I can manage and get my shit together in the time allowed. Sometimes, not so much. The important thing is to recognize the behavior (hopefully before it starts) and take action. Usually this amount to me:

  1. Letting my wife know what my fucking problem is.
  2. Writing a telephone-book-sized journal entry about what my fucking problem is.
  3. Resort to OTC’s like Sam-E or St. John’s Wort.
  4. Work out and managing my food intake with Swiss precision.

In Sum.

Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re going through, it is temporary. While it may seem like “it’s easier said, than done”, it is the truth. What you need to do, is to have the courage to admit that something is wrong. But what you need to realize and accept is that you need to take that step a bit further and correct ‘the wrong’ that is making you suffer.

In the event that you want someone to chat with (that is relatively objective) I can be contacted here

How to Make “The Fried Chicken”.

If you are relatively new to the kitchen, or you are a novice and the idea of Salmonella scares the shit out of you, cooking chicken in any way can be a terrifying experience.

Don’t feel bad, I was the same way. For the longest time I would overcook chicken to the point of practically jerky-ing it because:

  1. I was young and stupid and not very picky about what I ate.
  2. I figured that the longer I cooked it, there was less chance of it being undercooked.

For the record, chicken is not supposed to taste or look like shoe leather. In the grand scheme of things, chicken is a versatile and indispensable part of any kitchen because it goes with nearly anything. As such, anyone worth their salt ought to know how to prepare it in a couple of different ways.

Today, you’re going to learn how to make Fried Chicken.

Materials Needed

  • Chicken tenders You can try breasteses. Me? I prefer the chicken tenders because they are easier to work with and if you make enough of them, you have leftovers. Leftovers are good. 
  • Eggs. That’s right: eggs. The eggs act like the glue that hold the breaded deliciousness onto said chicken. The quantity depends on how much chicken you are frying. With a 5lb. bag of chicken, you can expect to use at least 3-4 eggs.
  • Breading material of your choice. People get a little freaky with this. You can use corn flakes, pork rinds, traditional breading, basically anything that can be refined to a powder can be used as breading. For this particular example (and my breading of choice) I use almond flour.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!!! Do not fuck around with store bought almond flours. Yes, it may have certain benefits (health, taste or otherwise) but in my experience they are expensive as fuck! For this recipe I bought sliced almonds and then gave them a go-around in the food processor. Sure, it looks chunky but it’s still consider ‘almond flour’.

  • Seasoning. This is strictly all on you. You like it sweeter? Figure it the fuck out and get some sweet shit up in that. I tend to go the savory route as you will see in the following pictures.
  • Cooking implement of your choice. I have the blessing and curse of having a fryer. It certainly makes frying shit easier. You can fry on your stove top with the pot and/or pan of your choice.

ADDITIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!!! When I was still trying to get my sea-legs as the stay at home parent, I ventured into making fried chicken on the stove. Basically the recipe called for a pot and a fuck ton of oil that had to be at an appropriate temperature. Me being a rookie, I got the food thermometer out and tried to take the temperature of the oil that I had been heating on the stove. What I didn’t know was that dropping something metal into a heated, semi-volatile substance, will indeed, scare the living shit out of you.

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED, HEAT UP YOUR OIL!

It doesn’t matter if you’re using the stove top or a fryer like I have in this recipe. Breading the chicken is a bit tedious. The last thing that you want is to go through all of this shit AND THEN have to wait for the damn oil to warm up.

STEP 1. THAW THE CHICKEN!

STEP 1. THAW THE CHICKEN!

Again, while chicken can be a tasty component of any meal, it’s really easy to get sick from mishandling raw chicken. I recommend having the water running to ensure ease of rinsing hands. Additionally, it is not advisable to have thawed chicken sitting in it’s own juices. Why? I have no fucking clue. I just remember that from my ‘retail days’ and the occasional reiteration when I settle on watching the Food Network.

STEP 2. MAKE THE FLOUR!

 Almonds seem to be the miracle nut. You can use them as a breading, a substitute for pizza dough, if you leave them in the food processor long enough, they’ll eventually reduce to almond butter.

If you don’t have a food processor or a half way decent blender, I recommend one of the less healthier options of breading.

This is what the final product should look like. Don’t worry about the clumps. As long as it has a powder-like consistency, you’re good to go.

STEP 2-A: SEASON THE FLOUR!

Almonds on their own taste like ass. They are the healthier of the nuts in the Nut Kingdom but in terms of flavor, they are pretty lacking.

Seasoning is a personal thing. Some people prefer smoke, others prefer fire. Myself, I like to fall somewhere in between.

IMG_3283DON’T FORGET TO MIX THAT SHIT UP!

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This is what the final product should look like. 

STEP 3: BEAT THE FUCK OUT OF THE EGGS!

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While it does seem a bit cruel and sadistic to use chicken embryos like glue on chicken corpses, there isn’t a better thing out there for what we are trying to accomplish. Make the above picture, look like the below picture. 

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My tool of choice is the fork. I just don’t have the coordination to whisk anything. Should you use the fork as well, make sure you get enough lift in your eggs. That means, hold the bowl at a slight angle over your sink so that everything pools to one side and then stir like a motherfucker. 

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE ASSEMBLY LINE!

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This is what I do. You may want to play with this to find out what work for you. Should you be using a fryer, put something underneath the son of a bitch as the breading will find a way to fall through the holes during the journey from the assembly line to the fryer. 

STEP 5: START BREADING!

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TAKE THE CHICKEN!

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DROWN THE MOTHERFUCKER! (BE SURE TO GET BOTH SIDES!)

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DROP IT IN THE SEASONED BREADING!

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HIDE IT IN THE BREADING WITHOUT LOSING IT!

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NOW, PUT IT IN THE BASKET! OR WHATEVER!

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LATHER, RINSE, AND REPEAT UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF CHICKEN!

See? Simple yet tedious. 

STEP 6: START FRYIN’!

Did you read the thing about the oil at the top of the page? Sure fucking hope so. Doing all of that work and then having to wait is a buzzkill.

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When I cook, I generally don’t use a timer. I go by sight, smell, and texture. If you’re just starting out, don’t be a goddamn hero: use the timer until you get good enough to eyeball whatever the fuck it is that you are cooking.

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When it comes to the almond-flour-ed chicken, you want a light change in color. Yep, you want to see it go from brown, to light brown. Dark brown is ok too. Not everybody has the palette for that though. It’s not that it tastes horrible. People prefer to not have burnt nuts in their mouth.

STEP 7: FINISH HIM!

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TA DA! It’s a meal. Chicken, not just fried chicken is simple to make as long as you know what you are going to do with it.

Got a preferred method of chicken making? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Why your spawn should be cleaning up after itself as soon as it is able to walk. 

Way back in the day, before I entered dinosaur-dom, I remember hearing peers and certain family members make mention of the fact that they didn’t have to clean their room (or anything else in the house for that matter) because their mother did it for them.

Keep in mind that the general tenor for families back then was that both parents worked. That’s right: not only did mom have to have a part time job, but she was still in charge of making sure that the homestead didn’t go to pot.

I knew then, as I know now, that that is an incredible load of bullshit. No kid, anywhere on the face of the earth, should be exempt from cleaning up after themselves and pulling their own weight around the house. The only thing that a parent accomplishes when they absolve their child from cleaning or any other household duty/responsibility is the creation of an entitled shit who expects things to be handed to them and will most likely live a large portion of their life in this state.

I’m not advocating whip-cracking. I’m not saying that your children’s lives should play out like the first act of Cinderella. Or that your children should identify with the drama Roots.

What I’m getting at is that you, as a parent, are solely responsible for making sure that your child is armed with the knowledge that they can, and should help out around the house. 

Want to make it easy on yourself? Start them off young. 

For my kids it started off with simple things: putting away toys and picking up around the house. Eventually they graduated to dusting and wiping stuff down. Vacuuming eventually came to all of them despite the fact that we lost a lamp or two during the learning process.

By the time that they were 8, they were doing their own laundry. Yes, 8. They loved it.

This might make you pucker at the thought of having Little Johnny or Susie Shitpants do their own laundry. It shouldn’t: If you are with them every step of the way and you are teaching them correctly, your child ought to be able to do their own laundry. Look at it this way: if they’re doing it right, it’s one less thing you have to  worry about.

For the record, I started them on their laundry when they were 8 because they were at a decent height in order to get clothes from the bottom of washer and into the dryer.

Since my family and I have relocated to Florida, I have taken to using a chore board. It doesn’t waste paper and it establishes culpability (e.g. they can’t “loose” something stuck to the fucking wall). 



It’s nothing fancy. Just a cheap picture frame I picked up from the local department store.
Also for the record, I typically stick with one chore. As barometers I use the collective behavior of the group and what may be going on during the week. Summer time is a little different since they have “so much time” on their hands.

In sum, keep in mind that raising a child is a process. When it comes to showing them a new skill or teaching them the proper way to clean ‘a thing’, it will take some time for them to get it as right as you want them to get it. They are also going to cut corners. Kids are sneaky as fuck.

Also please do the world a favor: make sure you are creating an individual who will contribute to society, not drag it back to the stoneage.

When my kids learn to drive.

Today’s child doesn’t really understand that driving an automobile used to be a privilege. Given the commonality of cars these days, who can blame them?

One of the things that grows from this commonality is a new level of impatience. People in general seldom drive for pleasure like they used to and when they do drive, their fellow drivers aren’t going fast enough to suit their needs. As a result of this impatience, car accidents happen more frequently. If you need evidence, google ‘auto detailers near me‘.

 When privilege become expectation.

The last automobile accident I was in happened when I was 14. My father was driving. I was in the front passenger seat. We had just crossed a major intersection on a two-lane road that our neighborhood was built around. Approaching us was a long line of cars, at least 5 deep.

I don’t remember what the holdup was for the oncoming traffic.

It could have been some old bitty, nothing but two hands on the steering wheel and a faint wisp of purplish white hair where the face should have been. I never knew. I was staring out the window, bored, like everyone normally is at that age.

My father’s attempts at bonding with me usually culminated in long car rides. Presumably this was due to the fact that it’s awfully hard for someone in their teens to ignore the person behind the wheel given the fact that the person behind the wheel is in total control of the environment.

As we began to pass the cars, that’s when I heard my father swear. At that age, I had heard my father swear before but this time, there was a hint of helplessness to it.

“You fucker“. 

I looked up at him and then through the windshield. Another car from the back of the throng was hurtling towards us. Neither of us were wearing seat belts.

Avoidance wasn’t an option.

The oncoming car didn’t have the chance to accelerate fast enough to do any real damage to us. The only souvenir my father had from that event was a knot high on his forehead and a totaled car. I had managed to escape with some bruises and some cuts on my hands because I was fast enough to put them up to protect myself from the windshield.

When my kids learn to drive.

Every kid expects their parent to teach them how to drive. With how common cars are and how glorified they are (The Fast and Furious franchise), it’s basically in their DNA by now. The idea of control, the controlling of a vehicle, of the fact that you are in charge of a destination hits all of the really gushy parts of their little lizard brains.

I’m not looking forward to the days when I have to teach my shit-heads what it really means to be behind the wheel of an automobile.

It’s not because I think that all kids (even mine) are dumb and reckless. It’s because I don’t want to ponder how they might feel or react to their fellow drivers who could potentially be less than courteous. It’s because, if they get into an accident (which might happen) that it won’t be due to the fact that they were being careless. And, it’s because I can only hope they will have the balls to call me when they know that they are too fucked up to drive. 

The bottom line is that other drivers, even you, dear reader, and even me, are assholes. The thing that I have been driving into my children’s brains since they have been able to interpersonally relate to people outside of the family, is that you can’t change an asshole: you can only give them a wide berth. 

 

On Sleeplessness and Getting ‘Quality Sleep’.

I have had issues with sleep since the 4th grade. 

At that time, I was a child of two worlds. This is also known as living with mom during the week and living with dad during the weekend.

During the week, I was inundated with the strict Catholicism that my mother tried to use as a tool to enforce my obedience. On the weekend, my newly sober father was multi-tasking: he was learning how to be a father again (as he was drunk when he was supposed to be doing those duties when my siblings were my age) by basically letting me do whatever and spoiling the shit out of me (a common tactic divorced dads usually resort to in an effort to curry favor with their children). Occasionally, he’d alternate spoiling me with letting me know how he really felt about my mother.

One time he dropped me off from school and laid this one on me: “I would be getting out of prison right about now if I had killed your mother.” I was still in the 4th grade at the time.

Freshly divorced parents are too self absorbed to realize that if there is a kid in the picture, that the familial schism that their hubris has caused is going to fuck up the kid more than it ever will them. 

So, from the 4th to the 8th grade getting quality sleep was a pain in the ass for me. If I couldn’t shut my brain off at night, I was getting to bed on time only to wake up an hour later unable to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. By the weekend, I was completely fucked because my father wanted to be ‘the cool dad’ so it became normal for him to let me sleep until the afternoons.

Bear this in mind: I harbor no ill-intent towards either of my parents. I’m just illustrating how sleep was a hard won ally for me. 

From high school until the present day, I didn’t fare much better. Sure, I got better at understanding people and how they worked. And sure, gainful weekend employment coupled with social activities made going to sleep at the end of the night a breeze thanks to sheer exhaustion. But getting enough quality sleep has always been a pain.

In recent years, if it hasn’t been anxieties about employment, or the future, it’s been about someone else: a new baby, a sick child, or a light sleeper sleeping next to me.

Since I have become the resident Resident of my family and since I have accepted the fact that I can’t burn the candle at both ends (like I did in my youth now that I’m in my mid-30’s) sleep is my favorite hobby.

Unfortunately, there are still some incidences where I can’t turn my brain off.

What to do in the Event of a Sleep Malfunction.

Before I go further, I should re-iterate that I’m not a sleep expert, nor am I a medical professional. 

I’m just another asshole who has an opinion and can kind of write good.

If you’re having trouble sleeping for a prolonged period of time (longer than a week), quit dicking around and make a doctor’s appointment. I  personally hate hospitals and I have a general disdain for doctors. However if there’s something keeping me from sleeping that may be “internal” you better damn well believe I’m making the appointment.

If you can’t bring yourself to do that, here is a short list of things that have worked for me in the past. (Maybe something herein will work for you too).

  1. Ear plugs and an eye covering of some sort. Yes, it’s a very thin line that separates you from a bird in a bird cage when you use these tools but sensory deprivation fucking works. I don’t use ear plugs often because they get irritating after a while, but I do make it a habit to cover my head. No light = better sleep.
  2. Daily physical activity (a.k.a keep yourself so busy through the course of the day that you have no choice but to go to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow). Think of it this way: you’re earning your right to sleep at the end of the night.
  3. Writing and meditation. Both are very effective means of helping you shut your brain off. I use the writing because I live with four different and dynamic people. Sometimes they do shit and behave in a way that makes me want to squeeze their heads so hard that their brains shoot out of their assholes. Instead of doing that, I write about the stupid shit they do that pisses me off. In doing so, I’m able to strike an understanding of said behavior and come to a middle ground without entertaining the idea of exactly how much Comet I would need in order to clean up feces and grey matter. The meditation has helped in the past because sometimes you just need to sit down and breathe. The only problem with that is that you need to make yourself do it consistently so it becomes a habit. Here are the apps that I use: Stop, Think, and Breathe, Meditation Studio by Gaiam.
  4. Alternate methods and drugs. As far as the ‘alternative methods’ are concerned, they’re pretty simple. The first one that I started using was to have a cup of ‘sleepy’ tea. Lame sounding, but it works. Lately I have been partial to Sleepytime Celestial Seasonings with Echinacea. It’s fucking delicious and is just as good as a traditional ‘night cap’. Sure, I have to get up in the middle of the night to take a piss, but it’s a small price to pay for quality sleep. My recent addition to my sleep regimen has been leaving one of my feet uncovered. I read an article on Mental Floss that explains the science behind it and guess what? It fucking works. I get to sleep faster. My last method I don’t do as often as I should: it’s taking a cold shower before bed. Doing this is the real life equivalent of getting hit over the head with a sledge hammer. I first came across this when Tim Ferriss included it in his book, The 4 Hour Body and came across it again when AOM did a post on it as well. It works. And yes, you get used to the blast of cold water on your bits rather quickly. With respect to taking pills to go to sleep, I haven’t taken any that require a prescription (yet). When it comes to over the counter drugs like Benadryl and Melatonin, I highly suggest that you tread lightly and do your own research. Speaking for myself, both drugs have consistently left me sleep drunk (I need to take a nap shortly after getting up in order for the fog of drugs to dissipate). This may not be the case with you. Again, tread lightly.

Have a sleep ritual or trick you’d like to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

 

Why I went to College. 

I’ve never wanted to go to college. Seriously.

Back in 1998, I was 18. I had no concept of how important an education was. I had it worked into my head that I was going to continue playing in my band (which broke up shortly after high school), I’d still work at the grocery store I was working at, and that things would somehow still be o.k.

Shows you how far my head was up my ass back then.

In the space of three months, my life took three different turns:

  1. My mother told me I could live in her house after high school, rent free, if I went to college.
  2. My girlfriend at the time gave me the ultimatum of ‘go to college or we’re through’ (we broke up before we graduated high school, in case you were wondering).
  3. As a graduation requirement, my high school required it’s students to fill out at least 1 college application.

So I took the plunge.

I filled out the application for my local community college and I got a good taste of what a ‘higher education’ could have given me.

By the time I had reached the end of that journey, the taste was effectively fucked out of my mouth.

It wasn’t like high school anymore. I couldn’t sleep my way through a class, do the bare minimum of work and still manage to pass somehow. This was my own time and money at stake.

I made the best of it and I still graduated. That was in 2004.

Hindsight has shown me that it’s not about the amount of time and money spent. It’s about the knowledge retained. While I may not have retained a lot from most of the classes I had taken then, I learned something about myself.

I think my biggest problem with going to a traditional school was the fact that your education/grade was contingent on someone else’s existence. That someone else being your professor.

You either got a professor who was self centered and who didn’t really care if their class was engaging or not (just as long as you were jumping through the hoops that they had set out for you). Or you got a professor who had a passion for what they were teaching and they wanted to pass that passion onto more impressionable minds.

It makes you wonder why, as a society that is constantly changing, we haven’t made substantial changes to this yet. Perhaps if there were more educational options, more than just going to school online and homeschooling (and if it was free), our children, our society might be better off.

When I enrolled at Kaplan there was no ‘A Ha!’ moment. It was something that I felt I needed to do. This emphasis, this inflation of education (the idea that the higher your educational degree, the better off you will be) was ingrained in me by society.

That was the fall of 2010.

I had taken online courses before and I had enjoyed the experience. So I had no trepidations about what Kaplan had to offer.

I was pleasantly surprised! It was everything I had expected and more.

Most colleges that offer on line classes completely eschew any sort of ‘classroom’ involvement. Kaplan provides you with live ‘class seminars’.

They also had realistic professors who were more concerned about the retention and application of content as opposed to the number of hoops the students had jumped through. The only thing that I had regretted was not doing this sooner.

In 2012, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Communications. 

If you haven’t enrolled in Kaplan (or any other school, for that matter) and you want to get the education that you need, then enroll. Be warned! Like all colleges, like all classes, you need to put in the effort. If you are not putting in the effort, then why are you wasting everybody’s time?

There’s always going to be someone else who would be more than happy to take your place.