Thursday, June 4 2020

jets, pull-ups, and salt water siphons

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday, and happy almost-end-of-the-week. How do you feel today? Do you feel good about what you've accomplished so far this week? Marissa and I have had a busy week around the house. It's only Thursday, and our project board is just about emptied out. At this rate, we might not even have work for this weekend. It feels good getting things done, doesn't it?

I think I've earned some computer hacking time. This morning, after a short walk or a bike ride with Rodney to get some energy out, I'm going to try to coax him into doing something a little more low key so I can set up my computer in the living room.

Sip. Yesterday morning, as we were enjoying our breakfast on the porch, Rodney kept running his mouth about jets and planes.

"Dada?" he asked, leaning his large head in between my tired eyes and my dim phone screen. "We go take off in jets now? Please?"

I cracked a smile. I always find it so funny when he asks an earnest, sincere question that amounts to toddler nonsense, then stares at me with his big, doughy, expecting eyes.

"I'm sorry dude," I said. "We've been over this - Momma and I don't know what you mean by take off with jets."

"Yeah," said Rodney, bouncing in place on his legs. "TAKE OFF with jets!"

Since Rodney was going to leave the whole take off with jets thing to my interpretation, I decided to set him up on the couch with a YouTube video. The cool thing about YouTube is that it's really easy to find GoPro footage of virtually any vehicle or ride, and these make for great kid friendly background videos for the play room. I cued up an hour long video taken from the cockpit of a Blue Angels jet, then set Rodney up on the couch with my USB joystick and my old pair of headphones, which Rodney claimed as a new tech toy when he yanked the cable out.

flying a jet on the couch

Rodney taxis around a San Diego air base with his fellow Blue Angels

By the time he lost interest, it was already time for lunch. Marissa joined us, and we ate leftovers around the dining room table. I heated up the rest of the pork creme pan sauce, and dumped it into a fresh batch of Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, which tasted so good, it ought to be a crime. Usually, when I mess with blue box Mac 'n Cheese, I get some scorn from Mac 'n Cheese purists Rodney and Marissa. "I don't even add milk to it," said Marissa. But my mac 'n pan Sauce cheese tasted so good, they permitted the deviation from the standard recipe.

Rodney went to his room for some quiet time, and while Marissa was at her first post pandemic agility practice with the dogs, I split my time between cleaning the kitchen and soothing a very fussy Charles Mingus.

"You know what sucks?" I shared with Marissa. "I feel like I'm ten times more immune to loud crying than I was when we had Rodney, but also Charles Mingus cries ten times more than Rodney did."

But I did my best to keep the colic at bay, and I drowned out the rest with a podcast. After Marissa returned with a happy and exercised Ollie and Ziggy, I got Rodney out of his room.

"Dada, I pooped! In my pull-ups!" said Rodney, greeting me at the door of his bedroom.

"Oh nice, dude - let's get that changed," I replied, hoisting him up to the changer.

"And I peed too!" He said happily, pointing around the corner. Looking back down at him, I furrow my brow in confusion.

"You peed in your potty?" I asked.

"No - in my pull-ups! The other ones!" said Rodney. I moved aside his closet curtain, and Rodney showed me to a damp, wadded up pull up sitting above his dresser. I started to piece things together.

"Ah, so you peed in your pull-up while you were sleeping?" I asked.

"Yeah!" said Rodney.

"Then you... changed yourself?" I asked.

"YEAH!" said Rodney more enthusiastically.

"Dude, that's pretty wild," I laughed. We had joked before about skipping potty training and just teaching Rodney to change his own diapers, but who knew that pull-ups were the only missing piece to make that a reality.

And just when I thought Rodney's potty training journey couldn't get more interesting. Rodney's potty training reminds me of a college class scheduling fluke where you end up taking a bunch of advanced courses before finishing the intro class. Rodney has already finished most of the advanced classes - peeing outside through a fence, wiping up the toilet seat, changing a pair of pull-ups. I guess he's going to be one of those students who saves Pooping 101 for the final spring semester.

After dinner, I put Rodney to bed, and Marissa and I convened on the back porch with a pair of beers. We chatted about the day while she watered the plants and hosed off our dusty umbrella, which I had finally retrieved from the back of the shed earlier that day.

"So we need to get excited about the first fish tank water change," she said.

"I am excited," I replied.

Marissa smiled. "It will probably take both of us to figure out the first time. We're just replacing two gallons of the water with fresh water, then fixing the levels and stuff."

Marissa and I emptied out a milk jug, filling up all of Rodney's sippie cups and even a few empty plastic water bottles we had lying around. Our fridge looked strange with all the bottles of milk lines up where the jug normally is. "Rodney is going to be really freaked out when he opens the fridge tomorrow", I laughed, taking a swig of milk out of the plastic bottle.

I started the siphon with my mouth, and after spitting out a mouthful of tank water, we swiftly filled two jugs worth of water. We filled a five gallon bucket with fresh water, marking the line with black electrical tape. I started to tip the bucket into the tank, and Marissa stopped me.

"What are you doing?" she said urgently. "We still have to adjust the levels."

"Yeah," I said, lowering the bucket,"but we can just do that in the tank, right? I figure we just deal with the water first, then mess around with the concentrations - what's the difference?"

"The difference is that there are live fish in there," Marissa laughed. "In the meantime, they're hanging around in a tank of tap water."

My eyes widened. "That's a good point - I didn't think of that. Man, this is pretty complicated. So we're basically making two gallons of ocean water in this bucket."

Marissa nodded.

"This is kind of elaborate," I continued. "I don't envy you - I would not want this to be one of my bi-weekly chores."

"It won't be so bad," said Marissa. "We'll develop a good system."

Marissa used a sharpie to mark the side of an old plastic syringe for adding the water conditioner. "Our pH was way off last time," she said. "I think that's why our lil' guy died. I'm surprised the dude at the fish store didn't catch that, I actually bought this pH stabilizer stuff without their recommendation."

As a final step, we just needed to pour the bucket of new water into the tank. "We can use the siphon again," Marissa said.

"Nah, then we have to hold the bucket of water higher than the tank. Just dump it in, I don't want to have to hold the bucket of water over my head," I laughed.

"What?" said Marissa. "It's a siphon. Oh no, do you not know how siphons work?" she asked, playfully.

I took a step backwards and gave her a patronizing bow. "Clearly not," I said sarcastically. "Go ahead and show me how a siphon works." Marissa hesitantly started to draw in some water through the clear tube.

"This water is falling right back down the second you move the straw," I laughed. "You're basically just drinking out of the bucket."

Marissa, while trying not to laugh, swiftly moved the straw from her mouth to the tank. The water gurgled back down the straw into the bucket.

"Ya see?" I mocked. "The source has to be more elevated than the destination. It's not just a magic tube that can temporarily suspend gravity."

"I guess I don't know how siphons work," laughed Marissa.

"It's OK," I said. "Honest to God, for a second there, I had no idea who would be right. But watching you fail gave me confidence."

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a wonderful Thursday.