Wednesday, April 15 2020

tv shows, parenting guilt, and speed bread

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Welcome to Wednesday, the highly anticipated halfway point in the work week - where beginning of the week hustle meets the end of the week longing for the weekend. Coffee, routines, and notes are behind us, and naps, snacks, and hobbies are in front of us. I think at this point, I'm just trying to do whatever I can do avoid calling it hump day. Damn, I really do hate when the perfect term for something is also the overused term for something.

Sip. The other day, Rodney stopped us in the middle of our bedtime routine, right between story time and prayers. His tone was gravely serious. "Dada," he said, "no more X-men, and no more dragonball. Too scary."

I stopped for a moment, giving his interjection time to sink in. Rodney is a three year old, and it can be hard getting a three year old to focus on even simple things like brushing his teeth or finishing his plate of food. So for him to remember something and bring it up in conversation on his own, this must have been weighing on him significantly.

"Al right dude, you got it." I replied. "This must have been a tough decision for you. Thanks for bringing it up." I felt a twinge of guilt. Officially, Rodney was too young to watch shows like X-men, Ninja Turtles, and Dragonball. But he seemed to really enjoy it and ask for it again. Did I make a bad call? Perhaps, but it was not the time to feel guilty about it. That wasn't Rodney's problem. The important thing was that he was making a decision that something wasn't good for him, and he needed help sticking with it.

"Thanks for telling me Rodney. We'll find a new show for you to watch. Maybe something with less fighting, huh?"

The next morning, Marissa and I set him up with Backyardigans. It's a show about a bunch of animals who, as Marissa summed it up, "just get together and screw around in their backyard." It was an instant hit.

"Sometimes I like to spy on Rodney through the reflection of the window so he doesn't get embarrassed. He was standing up, swaying back and forth with the dance in the show," Marissa recounted. She demonstrated, crouching low and gently swaying, swinging her arms like a skier on a leisurely ride.

And the music is good too. Backyardigans does a good job adding in different styles of music that don't sound too brainwashy. All morning, the house was quiet. There were no fist fights, battle cries, or slashing of swords. Just the gentle, dulcet tones of age appropriate children's programming.

The work day flew by. I took notes, attended meetings, read code, and did all the necessary preparations to keep the agile story hopper filled with well-groomed work. Before long, it was quitting time and my thoughts shifted toward dinner. I got Rodney out of his room, and together we made our way into the kitchen.

"What are we making today, dude?" I asked, fixing my apron around my waste. Rodney ignored my question, digging his favorite butter knife out of the drawer and grabbing his step ladder from the corner. "Let's do soup," I said, answering my own question.

We stood side-by-side at the cutting board. I chopped an onion while Rodney fiddled around with the off cuts and onion skin before I balled them up in a paper towel. Celery, carrots, and leftover Easter ham followed, eventually finding their way into hot butter at the bottom of our Dutch oven.

"OH dude," I exclaimed. "We don't have any bread! Is there anything worse than soup with no bread?" Rodney turned around from his spot at the sink, where he happily splashing around all under the guise of "helping me rinse kale". He gave a sheepish smile, as if to say "whelp, good luck with that."

It was in this moment that Rodney and I invented the greatest original recipe that has ever left our kitchen. With great pride, we present the steps to recreate speed bread. Fair warning - I haven't had a chance to clean this up, and for the sake of reproducibility I have no other choice but to list the steps exactly as they happened.



  1. Turn the oven on at 350F.
  2. Pour 1 cup of hot water into a bowl and add 1.25 TSP of yeast. Dump in some sugar. Use the same bowl of sugar that Rodney was eating out of with his bare hands when you weren't looking.
  3. Give the yeast 10 minutes to bloom. In this time, have your Rodney absentmindedly stir and poke the warm yeast water with his fingers. For best results, ensure Rodney's fingers are still sticky with sugar and leftover Easter ham that he was also eating when you weren't looking.
  4. Add 1.25 TSP of kosher salt and several small squirts of honey. Use a honey jar that is almost empty - the kind that makes fart noises when you squeeze it. Give Rodney plenty of room to laugh as you act out each "fart" of honey into the bowl. Cross your eyes, pucker your mouth, strain your face. There's no excuse to not make a three year old boy laugh with fake farting, it's always a hit. Use 5-7 good "farts" of honey in total.
  5. Stir the ingredients together with a whisk. Add a cup of flour and stir. Continue to slowly add more flour until a shaggy dough starts to form. If needed, switch to a wooden spoon, handing the whisk to Rodney so he can lick the raw dough off of it when you're not looking.
  6. Kneed the dough in the bowl. Keep kneeding and sprinkling in flour until the dough is sticky enough to clean remaining flour off the sides of the bowl, and is still sticky enough for Rodney to pull of pieces and stick them to the back of your neck, but don't give him the reaction he's looking for, it will only encourage him to put it in your hair.
  7. Turn the dough ball inside out, cover with olive oil, and leave it in the bowl covered by a towel. And place it in the oven... oh shoot, did you leave the oven on this whole time? It was not actually supposed to get to 350 degrees, we just needed it warm for the yeast to rise. Shoot. OK screw it, just put the bowl in the oven with the towel, and if you smell smoke or plastic, get ready to pull the pin off your fire extinguisher with one hand while you call in a pizza with the other.
  8. Let the dough rest and rise in the oven for a half our. Take out, and do your best to fold it and deflate the air without turning it into a sticky dough party. Add as little as flour as possible, or at least convince yourself that flour is no longer needed, because you finally put it away and cleaned up Rodney and it's not worth getting out again.
  9. Dump the dough out onto a silpat or nonstick surface. Stretch it out like a pizza, but do not flatten it. Let Rodney pull off a few more pieces for his amusement while you swat his wandering hands away from your creation.
  10. Preheat the oven to 450F. Cover the bread in a towel and set it aside.
  11. Bake the bread for 20 minutes. When there is 5 minutes left (or when the noodles in your soup are falling apart and you need to just wrap up this shit show), pull out the bread and drizzle with olive oil. Stick it back in the oven, and indecisively stand there while you wonder why you dumped olive oil over the top and didn't bother to cover it. Take it out again and attempt to brush evenly with your hand. Burn your hand, then switch to a spoon. For best results, use the same spoon that you've been stirring your soup with because Rodney hid the others.
  12. Remove from the oven. Tear the bread, and breathe a sigh of relief seeing that it is edible. Sit back in satisfaction watching your pregnant wife devour it.

So that's speed bread, what a wonderful accident, huh? Boy I got carried away with that one. Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful day.

speed bread