Sunday, November 17 2019

video games, dinosaurs, recycling, and mushrooms

Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone! Happy Sunday. It's a beautiful day outside, in the "stay-inside" kind of way. This morning I'm catching up on dishes from last night, and Rodney is still sleeping. Marissa just left to attend a dog agility seminar. As she grabbed her notebook, I shoved a stuffed pepper into some tupperware and handed it to her like a football.

Yesterday, after posting a fashionably late journal entry, we hung around the house for a bit. I decided to boot up Super Meat Boy, and the game piqued Rodney's interest. After a few minutes of playing, I handed him the controller and did my best to get him started with moving, jumping, and the basic point of the game. Mom joined us on the couch too. Admittedly we're eager to get Rodney into video games. Out of all the things he's interested in, there are few he can work on quietly by himself. Sometimes, when he plays in the corner with his toys, it's more of a continuous show-and-tell, where he feels the need to run over to us in the kitchen or at the dining room table and give real time updates as to what each of his trucks are doing. The thought of him quietly entertaining himself with something that's not TV is appealing to say the least. Marissa flashed me a smile as soon as Rodney figured out how to wall jump and exclaimed "I GOT IT." I responded, "I think it's happening," using only my eyes.

We heated up some leftover pizza and sat at the dinner table, letting the Super Meatboy music play on as a soundtrack to our lunch. We finished eating, then parted ways to finish our morning routine, meeting at the door about an hour later so we could head to the Alliant energy center. As we parked, we could see a single long necked dinosaur sitting on the back of a flat bed truck. It had a 'for sale' sign slung around it's neck. "Are we buying that on the way home? Think we can fit it in the car?" I joked.

We were greeted at the door by a long walk way guarded by a giant inflatable dinosaur head. Inside, there were large mechanical dinosaurs roaring, and stirring as people walked by. Some of the dinosaurs had a tiny camera hidden at their feet, and they would follow you with their eyes and even mimic you with their arms.

The biggest hit of the afternoon was probably the archeology dig sandboxes. Rodney sat in the sandbox and used a brush to clear the sand off of a large dinosaur skeleton. We would have probably sat there for an hour, but in an oversight there were no chairs or benches for parents to sit, so we had to move on.

Rodney enjoyed the dinosaurs with reserve and admiration. Some of the kids were trying to climb over the ropes or pull at their teeth and arms, but Rodney was reluctant to touch anything. He'd approach a dinosaur, wave to it, savor it for a few seconds, then say "OK bye bye" and take small steps elsewhere.

His good behavior earned him a toy from the gift shop. We picked up a soft rubber T-Rex, and we named him Tyrannosaurus. As we exited, we walked through a section of the arena packed with inflatable bouncy castles, arcade games, and concessions. Lines wrapped around each attraction. I saw a row of picnic tables where tired parents sat eating snacks. "Of course they only want you to sit where they can make money off of you," I complained aloud.

I dropped Marissa and Rodney off at home for a nap, then left to get groceries. Before stopping at Hy-Vee, I swung by the recycling center to drop off some old rugs we had temporarily stashed in our car. Marissa has always done these little recycling center trips - so much so that the workers know her by name.

Madison takes their recycling seriously. As I was flipping the rolled up rugs in the dumpster, one of the workers raised his voice at someone who was putting metal in the 'wood only' dumpster.

At Hy-Vee, I picked up bell peppers, mushrooms, shallots, a bottle of wine, and a pair of steaks. When the pregnant lady I live with wants steak, she doesn't have to ask twice. I returned home to a quiet and sleepy house and quietly began cooking. The mushroom stuffing I like to make it peppers is kind of hilarious because to make enough, you have to start by chopping something like forty mushrooms into very tiny pieces. Once you've filled a bowl with pulverized mushroom bits, it all gets dumped into a dutch oven with butter and shallots. From there, the goal is to just boil off all the water. It's one of those recipes that only comes together at the end. About half way through, staring at soggy mushroom crumbs soaking in hot brown mushroom water, you'd be tempted to lose faith, but eventually they dry up and the mixture becomes creamy like a stuffing.

Meanwhile I steamed six eggs, chilled them in cold water, then scooped out the yolks. The yolks get mashed up with the stuffing. Finally, the bell peppers get hollowed out. It was a great task for testing out my new Opinel cooking knife.

I stuffed the peppers, topped when with cheese, then slid them into the oven before turning my attention to the steaks. Canola oil, butter, tinfoil. We sat at the table and munched on warm bread while the steak rested and peppers finished in the oven.

This morning, after Rodney wakes up and I finish cleaning the kitchen, we're going to take a walk to the grocery store. I haven't decided on dinner, but for a late night snack, I'm going to try to make a blooming onion. I found a video recipe for it last night, and suddenly soaking a sliced onion in buttermilk, dredging it in flour, and dropping it in oil for a few minutes didn't seem so scary.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Take it easy today, we have a long week ahead of us. Relax, drink coffee, make a bloomin' onion, and watch the Bears game tonight. Thanks for reading!