I woke up and glanced at my phone. It was 8:30. I wouldn't get out of bed until 9, biding my time between snuggling with Ziggy and reading gossip about the Chicago Bears on reddit. Eventually, Ziggy wriggled free and leapt off the bed. She was hungry. Waiting at the door, she quietly yipped at me until I too emerged from the bedsheets.
As I unlocked the baby gate in front of the stairs, I could hear Rodney stirring in his room. I peeked my head in through his door. He was standing on his bench staring through the parted curtains and out of his window, watching cars whiz by on East Washington. He looked content. I let both dogs out, then flung their big bin of kibble on the counter, moving a few dirty dishes aside. There was still a stack of pans, mixing bowls, and ramekins piled next to the sink from last nights dinner - the lingering smell of cream and mushroom still hovering around the sink.
I cracked the back door ajar. Ziggy came racing into the kitchen, followed closely but less urgently by Ollie. Ziggy spotted the bin of dog food on the counter, stood on her hind legs, and lunged toward the counter as high as she could. I removed the lid, and filled an even scoop for Ollie. I took a few steps toward his bowl, and Ziggy scurried between my legs. She knew she couldn't have any of Ollie's food, but she watched closely as I filled the bowl and Ollie started eating - almost as if she was jealously counting every piece of kibble he got. I walked back to the bin, Ziggy scurrying behind me. She held her breath, and by the time the first piece of food touch her bowl she had already began eating.
As the dogs finished eating, I went upstairs and leaned into Rodney's room. He was still standing by the window, but hearing the door creak he turned and smiled. "OH, HEY DA," he said cheerily.
As I picked him up, laid him on the changer, and proceeded to discard his diaper, Rodney filled the room with incoherent stories, dreams, and thoughts. He talked about taking his cousins on a water slide, sleeping with the dogs in bed, and completing a puzzle. As he finished his morning dream report, I pulled his pajama pants of his waist, picked him up, and set him on the floor. He ran downstairs and sat on the couch. I turned the TV on for him and went in the kitchen, stopping to fill up a cup of coffee. The coffee maker was still hissing and burbling, but the carafe was full and inviting. I took a sip of coffee, quietly savoring my favorite part of the day.
Marissa sleepily had asked for French toast the night before we drifted off to sleep. I filled a bowl with milk and added a pinch of salt, stirring with my finger. I grabbed the eggs out of the fridge and placed them on the counter. One by one, I cracked five eggs into the bowl. On the fourth, a little piece of shell slipped through my fingers, but I fished it out with my pinky nail. I added some salt, then grabbed my whisk out of the dishwasher. I took a moment to admire the firm, pale yolks suspended in clear egg white before destroying them. I mixed vigorously.
I lifted the heavy cast iron pan off its metal hook and placed it on the stove. The burner clicked three times, then ignited, quietly roaring underneath the pan as I turned the dial to medium low. I cut a piece of butter and set it in the middle of the pan. It started to melt, and gently float around the pan.
I sliced the end off the bread and nibbled it. It was chewy in the inside, stale on the outside, and it would make for perfect french toast. I sliced four even pieces and carried them to the stove on a plastic plate. One by one, I plunged them into the cool milk, then into the cool eggs, shaking them above the bowl to let excess run off the slices of bread. I laid them evenly across the center of the pan. I could hear the butter seething underneath the slices. The beaten egg started to leak out from the bottom of the bread slices, forming a ghostly egg white halo.
I leaned into the living room, where Rodney was fixated on the TV. "He dude, will you go get momma?" I asked. "Tell her breakfast is almost ready."
Rodney scooted to the edge of the couch, then began carefully walking up the stairs. As he disappeared around the corner, I heard him repeating my words to himself, "… tell her breakfast is almost ready."
I made my way into the kitchen. Smelling brown butter and cooked eggs, I grabbed a rubber spatula and gently lifted the corner of a slice on the outside. The slice, now half french toast, was dark, and still glistening with butter. I delicately flipped each of the pieces with a spatula, catching them with my finger. I could hear Marissa making her way down the stairs. "Breakfast is almost ready," I announced.
A few minutes later, I lifted another corner. The slice was now brown, candied, and glistening in butter. I flipped each piece into a metal bowl and liberally sprinkled the pile with sugar and cinnamon. I tossed the bowl over the sink. Some sugar and cinnamon escaped, scattering on the floor.
I stacked the pieces of toast onto a little plate and set it on the table. Marissa was helping Rodney into his seat. Her eyes widened in anticipation as I placed the plate of french toast in the center of the table. "Dig in," I said. I walked back into the kitchen to make another batch.