Sunday, May 10 2020

family photos, more oven problems, and bread on the porch

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Dear Journal,

Good afternoon, everyone. Today I extend you a happy Sunday, and a happy Mother's day. I hope you all remembered to do something nice for the mother in your life.

Rodney and I are taking it easy this morning. The frigid, drizzly rain means we can hang out on the couch and take in some Paw Patrol without the guilt of wasting beautiful weather. And with a Dutch Baby brunch still sitting in our stomachs, we have at least another hour before we need to start thinking about lunch.

I got kind of distracted this morning. Yesterday I wrapped up a project that regularly synchronizes our combined family photos to the family computer. Wanting to test the new mechanism out, I opened up Google Photos to add a few pictures to the album, but then of course that led me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia. Spring break in college, getting engaged to Marissa, living as a care free married couple in Rockford with only a young, well-behaved Ollie to worry about. We had some good times.

Sip. Marissa and I had kind of a rough day yesterday. She rolled out of bed a little more tired than usual. "Miles was hard last night," she reported. "He's still eating, but the feeding sessions take about an hour and a half." And between catching up on sleep, keeping Rodney occupied, catching up on laundry, and putting things away around the house, our precious Saturday morning slipped away with a whimper.

"So Rodney needs a shower still, we're about an hour late for quiet time, and he just finished his 'special gatorate', so he'll probably have a big poop soon," I said, sighing into my hands. Marissa sat at the table beside me, wearily picking at a bowl of lunch leftovers while holding Miles with her other arm.

"Man, it's so nice outside," I said looking up at the window. "I feel kind of bad that Rodney hasn't had any outside time. I just feel like the whole morning got away from us."

I caught up on the day while Rodney slept. About two hours later, I gave him a quick shower, and the two of us made our way downstairs to start on dinner. I held Rodney's attention for as long as I could, cooking some rice, cutting some vegetables, and peeling shrimp for dinner.

"I'm a little burnt out," said Marissa sauntering into the kitchen.

"Do you want to go for a walk or something?" I suggested, wiping off Rodney's hands at the sink. "You can just go by yourself with the dogs - it might be kind of nice to get some alone time."

"That does sound nice," said Marissa. "It's been a tough day. It feels like all I've done today is nurse Miles."

Marissa took the dogs for a walk, and I practically shoved Rodney outside to play in the yard while the sun was still up. After setting up all the ingredients for fried rice, I excitedly retrieved the metal bowl of sourdough bread from the oven and peeked underneath the tinfoil. The raw dough smelled fragrant and fruity, happily gurgling underneath a puffy, pliable skin. I rubbed my hands together with anticipation before turning on the oven.

The oven clicked three times, then went out with a puff. "Oh you gotta be kidding me - son of a..." I muttered gruffly to myself climbing down on my knees to peer inside. I removed the pizza stone, and the grates, angrily flinging them behind me onto the floor. I tried the button again - click, click, click, then silence. I clenched my fist and took a few deep breaths.

Marissa returned from her walk, and I greeted her at the door with my frustration. "I'm so sick of this thing," I said. "I tried the warming drawer trick that the guy showed me, but it's not working. I emptied the whole thing out. It's still not heating up."

"How long has it been running?" asked Marissa.

"Just a few minutes. I only wanted to warm it up so the bread could finish proofing," I anxiously replied.

"Well if it's not working, I don't want to run the oven. What if it's filling with gas or something?" answered Marissa.

"But if I don't run it, how do we know if it's really broken?" I replied. "Maybe it just takes a while sometimes. Maybe it's always done this and we just didn't notice it. Maybe there's some small workaround we can do..."

"We shouldn't mess with it," said Marissa sternly. "We'll call the guy out again and just tell them that it doesn't work sometimes. It's their job, they'll figure it out."

"Seriously?" I said, raising my voice. "So we're going to invite the guy back and just say it doesn't work sometimes? He's going to laugh at us. It's not like he's going to plug it into a computer and magically find the problem - "

"I don't know! He might! I don't know anything about ovens and I would rather you spend your effort doing something else." Marissa stormed out of the kitchen. I flung a rubber spatula into the sink in frustration. I took a few minutes to compose myself.

"I'm sorry I lost my temper," I said to Marissa standing in the living room. "I need to tell you how I'm feeling. Obviously, I'm feeling a little ripped off - like I rolled over and let that guy take our money without actually doing anything. I feel trapped - it's like the oven is not broken enough to fix it or justify getting a new one, but it doesn't work well enough to be confident in it. And with how much planning we put into meals these days, that's frustrating to me."

Marissa nodded. "It sucks," she said quietly. "But I understand how you feel."

We put Rodney to bed, and after getting Miles into a fresh onsie and putting him down for a nap, we met on the back porch for some beer and sourdough bread. The oven did eventually turn on, and the bread turned out wonderfully.

"This was a rough day," said Marissa with tears welling up in her eyes. "And my walk with the dogs wasn't even that good. I lost my patience with them, and it was like I couldn't get out of 'dog trainer' mode."

I nodded and took a sip of beer. "And you want to prove to yourself that you can handle a new baby without cutting corners on anything else, right?" Marissa nodded, and I continued. "I feel the same - I was disappointed in myself that I lost my temper with the oven and got a little too fixated."

"So what's your plan? With the oven?" asked Marissa.

"Well, since we still don't know how broken it is, I guess we'll just have to keep testing it out by making bread every night," I laughed.

"Right," said Marissa. "It's just data - we need more data points," she laughed with a mouthful of bread. "Let's do this - how about we talk about today's highs."

I smiled. "Great idea - you go first."

"I liked playing outside with Rodney today," she said.

"Oh thanks for doing that," I interrupted. "I felt guilty about keeping him cooped up this morning."

"We had a good time," laughed Marissa. "We played baseball in the backyard. How about you?"

"I got some good me-time in," I said. "It was fun working on our family photos. And the bread turned out amazing," I said. I looked up and patted Marissa on the hand. "Hang in there, buddy. We'll figure things out, and try again tomorrow. We don't have anything to prove."

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday.