Monday, April 6 2020

trick plays, puzzles, and big bubbles

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. I hope you're feeling good, staying healthy, and ready to begin another work week. The weather was beautiful this weekend, and we did our best to use up as much of it as possible - and it's a good thing we did. We have lots of rain coming this week. In the forecast I'm looking at, I'm literally seeing a little rain icon on every single day this week except for Friday. Fantastic, right?

Sip. I had a great day yesterday. We had a small brunch on the couch while watching church. Marissa and Rodney shared a big bowl of Colossal Berry Crunch, and I had a fried egg on toast with hot sauce. Remember, I have to get at least one pan dirty, even for a quick breakfast. After finishing our sermon, Marissa and I made a plan for the day. She had heard about a small pop-up toy store run by a couple in the Jenny Street neighborhood, and suggested that as a family afternoon walk. We played around with the idea of a picnic, but as it was already getting into the afternoon, suspected that wouldn't be worth the trouble. Before getting ready for the day, I hit play on an inane YouTube video called "greatest trick plays of the decade! suggested by YouTube from the NFL channel.

"I'm having de ja vu," I said. "I feel like I've watched this video on a Sunday afternoon before when I was supposed to be getting ready for something." I eventually did get up off the couch, with the help of Rodney who instigated a Nerf gun fight on the way up to his bedroom.

"We're going out today, dude. Let's put on a sweet outfit," I told him while getting his clothes out of the drawer. Rodney was visibly excited, stepping into his little blue jeans and struggling his way into his shirt. He followed me into the bathroom while I brushed my teeth and put gel in my hair, holding out his hand for some of his own.

After brewing another pot of coffee and filling some travelers, we dug Rodney's car stroller out of the shed and made our way down the sidewalk. There were lots of people outside, especially on the bike path. In fact, the little bike path that ran through Goodman Community Center by our house was even more congested than Atwood Road, joggers, walkers, and bikers all evenly spaced out six feet apart. Clearly people are making the most out of the outdoor provisions in the restrictions, but suddenly I grew worried that they would have to restrict that too.

We wandered through Atwood, meandering our way though empty sidewalks and intersections, pushing Rodney in his blue car and holding the dogs close on their leashes. At last, we arrived at the pop up toy store. A young couple stood on their porch wearing gloves and masks. Their front yard was decorated with hand drawn signs, kites, and puzzles on display. One of them stood in the driveway, showing off the bubble kit in a live demo. Rodney eagerly pulled on Marissa's hand, trying to get closer.

"No dude, we have to stay on the sidewalk. Look, we pick something out from here and they bring it to us," advised Marissa. "This is so nice you guys are doing this," said Marissa to the lady on the porch. "I saw this on Facebook and immediately new this would be our big plan today, he's so excited."

We chose a butterfly kite, a giant dragon puzzle, and of course the bubble kit. "OK, just lay your card on the stairs please," said the lady. Marissa slowly approached the porch steps with Rodney and set her card down, then backed away. The whole thing looked like a tense, strangely adorable robbery. Wearing gloves, the woman picked up the card and carefully punched the numbers into a computer, then placed everything with the card in a bag. "I'm gonna put this on the stairs for you know," she said, setting the bag where Marissa laid her card. "Thanks so much you guys."

"Thank you!" replied Marissa. "What do you say?" she said nudging Rodney.

"THANK YOU!" called Rodney. I could have sworn he also muttered happy birthday under his breath.

We made our way home, and Rodney held the kite in his lap. After putting his car back in the shed, I set him up for quiet time in his room. I cracked his window to let the breeze fill the upstairs and opened his puzzle up on his desk before heading into the kitchen to start on dinner. Marissa came downstairs fifteen minutes later.

"Just so you know," she said. "Rodney lost his open window privileges. He kept trying to smash his toys in the window."

"Boys are the worst," I said. Marissa nodded and headed downstairs to paint. I returned to making a pizza.

And speaking of pizza, I'm finally starting to get the hang of this civil war flour we bought. I still don't like the way it tastes, but at least I know how much to add. It's drier than all purpose flour, so I just need to use a little less of it in everything - which is bad news, since I'm trying to get rid of the stuff, but I'm too conscientious to just throw it away.

The pizza came out of the oven around seven. After wrestling it out of the pan onto a cutting board, gritting my teeth to prevent an outburst of anger, we ate at the dinner table. Marissa and I scarfed down our pizza and chatted while Rodney finished.

"It's getting dark, dude," said Marissa. "We can do bubbles tomorrow, let's play with your puzzle after dinner instead." I made a sad face, then interrupted. "Maybe just a few bubbles. He was pretty excited. But you gotta finish your pizza, dude, ok?"

Rodney nodded, and stuck all 5 cubes of pizza in his mouth, looking back up at me with wide eyes and full cheeks. "Good call," said Marissa. "Bubble time!"

Marissa poured the bubble packet into a bucket, holding it up to me and smiling. "I'm glad we didn't also get the refill," she said. "Look, this stuff is literally dish soap. It's even blue!"

We made our way outside. Marissa used the green sticks to dip the string into the soapy liquid. She used her arms to make one big fat bubble that fell to the ground. "I remember the guy being able to make more than one bubble," she said looking confused.

"Here, can I try?" I said, reaching for the wands.

Have you ever come across something that you are inexplicably good at? Apparently I'm good at making bubbles with a string. "Here," I said, suddenly assuming the authority of a bubble-making master. "You can make a cinching motion with the string and make as much as you want." I made several bubbles tumble into the yard. Rodney ran after them swinging a baseball bat.

"Show Rodney how to do it," said Marissa.

I grabbed Rodney, and made a bubble with him. He dropped the wands and picked up his bat again, taking a square stance. "I think he's just more interested in whacking 'em," I said. "Here, I'll do it from the deck."

I set up shop on our deck, throwing bubbles down to Rodney, the dogs excitedly running in circles around him as he chased the bubbles with a bat. "I feel like a boss in a video game or something," I said. "Only maybe just the boss at the end of the first level. Bubbles aren't that scary."

Thanks for stopping by this morning. If this whole COVID thing has got you stressed, take a day to mess around with some bubbles in the backyard. Once the weather gets nice again, of course. Hope you have a wonderful Monday.