Monday, January 20 2020

bbq, naps, projects, and something crazy

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you are having a relaxing day off thus far. With the combination of working hard in the basement last night, staying up late, and sleeping in on my day-off, I'm feeling a little groggy this morning. I spent the last hour or so cleaning up the kitchen and putting Rodney's clothes away, and that seems to have helped wake me up to the point where I can write a coherent journal entry. Sometimes you need an hour or so of menial tasks to help metabolize the morning coffee and wake up, you know?

Today I have a day off work for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but I'm also on-call as of 8 AM this morning. I'm feeling pretty fortune that my on-call rotation landed on this week. I make a little extra on holidays, as they count as weekend hours, and not to mention I have one less day to work our support queue, which I only do during business hours.

This morning, I toasted some Eggo waffles for Rodney and Marissa, who rolled out of bed at almost the exact same time I did. After breakfast, Rodney led Marissa by the hand to the living room, where they "played videogames", or more accurately, watched YouTube videos of video games with unplugged Xbox controllers in their laps.

Yesterday was a pretty great day as well. After church, we decided to try out a new BBQ place on the west side of town, and we had a pretty good experience. The food was delicious, and after returning home, the smoked brisket, ribs, and nibbles of Rodney's pulled pork sent me into a full blown food coma. I changed into something comfy and napped on the couch with Ziggy while we watched the Chiefs vs Titans game on TV.

After a nap, I got Rodney out of bed and took him to Hy-Vee to pick up dinner. I was planning on an easy night of pork chops with apple juice pan sauce, but I also picked up some chicken thighs so I could try out a new dip. Hy-Vee was practically emptied due to the Packers playoff game, so Rodney and I could afford to take our time. Before leaving, he selected a chocolate egg from the candy rack.

Back at home, Rodney and Marissa hung out in the dining room watching the football game while I prepared dinner. I was much more pleased with the pork chop glaze this time around. Last week making this meal, I didn't let the sauce reduce enough, and it looked more like a dressing. I didn't make the same mistake last night. I simmered it in my pan until it could all practically fit on a spoon, then whisked in some cold chunks of butter. The final product looked like melted caramel, but it tasted like pork and apples.

We let Rodney watch the rest of the football game with me, then Marissa put him to bed. After splitting off to catch up on our chores, we reconvened in the kitchen to attack the basement stairs, which was the last project card we had planned for the week.

In our project system, every Sunday we drag a new set of cards to the TODO column. The goal is only add to the board what you think you can get done in a week, and we use sizes to estimate how much effort each card is. A small is about an hour of work - like last night, throwing away all the garbage at the bottom of the stairs. A medium might be a few hours of work, and a large usually spans over a day. At the end of the week on Sunday night, we tally up the cards we completed - smalls get 1 point, mediums 2 points, and larges 3 points.

Last night, after finishing the basement, Marissa and I met at the board in our bedroom and tallied up the cards. We finished 13 points this past week, and the week before was 11. "Don't forget, this is water slide weekend, so we might not have as much time as last week," Marissa reminded me. We adjusted the total planned work for the week, leaving room for the fun weekend. That's a great example of what advantage we get from tracking projects with points.

Before heading to the couch for the rest of the night, I stopped by the kitchen to finish making my dip. Before heading down into the basement, I seared some chicken thighs and gently simmered them in some buffalo sauce before allowing them to cool. I would split apart the meat with my fingers, then reduce down the buffalo sauce to a syrup and add that as well before chilling the shredded meat in the fridge overnight. I had agreed to only use our choice mild barbecue sauce, but after tasting the final product, I couldn't resist throwing in some Shaquanda hot sauce as well. What they don't know won't hurt them, right?

We retired to the couch to watch a little more of Aliens. The further we watch, the more Marissa and I are convinced we had never actually scene this second movie in the series. I would have certainly remembered it being this bad. In the movie, Ripley goes with an elite squad of space Marines to go handle an alien outbreak on the colony, but these space Marines practically act like a high school football team. They complain, interrupt their officer all the time, and refuse to take anything seriously. "Wouldn't they just fire these people? Isn't this the Marines?" I questioned. "Why are they chewing gum, throwing things, and acting like kids stuck in after school detention?"

So that's what I got today. As a family, we agreed to lay low at least until lunch, reserving the afternoon for - Marissa's words - something crazy. What does crazy mean? I floated the idea of bowling, but perhaps that's not exotic enough for a Monday afternoon without work. Rodney seems to be in a video game mood today, so the arcade or Dave & Buster's is always an option. Or maybe we'll just hang out outside and pelt the side of the house with snowballs. Truthfully, we could do anything on this day off - the only way to waste it is to do something we don't enjoy.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Happy MLK day, and hope you do something you enjoy.