Monday, June 15 2020

goals, expectations, and weird hobby people

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Monday, and congratulations on officially making it to mid June. To set the scene here, Marissa and I are breaking into the first pot of coffee in our upstairs bedroom. Our shades our drawn, and behind me, an angrily swaddled Miles is teetering between either a sound sleep or an hour long session of womping. And if the fussing hasn't already woken Rodney, in a moment he'll be awake too. He'll probably have changed himself into a bizarre long sleeve and dress pant outfit combination, and with long wooly socks over his hands, he'll whine and pine until I give him the all clear to emerge from his dark bedroom.

But that will all come in due time. Right now is journaling time - our time. How are you feeling this morning? For me, it might just be the coffee talking, but I'm looking forward to jumping into something productive today, and I have a few goals for the week.

Sip. Dutch is one of the things I've been putting off. My duolingo streak is solid - I'm actually less then a month away from hitting a full year straight of daily practice - but I found a native speaker on reddit who is willing to listen to a voice recording and reply with some customized criticism. She sent me over a short story to read, and I think this might be the week I finally get around to it. But it won't be easy - there are plenty of words in the sample text that I'm not familiar with.

Dutch seems to happen in spurts, and I feel a lot like Rodney probably felt when he was just learning to speak English. Some weeks, I feel confident, and my ear does so well that I feel like I can follow Dutch speaking podcasts and YouTube videos with ease. And other weeks, it feels like even simple review is a battle.

So goal number 1: finally getting around to making a rusty Dutch audio recording for some feedback from a native speaker.

My second goal for the week is to take Rodney somewhere. Today, Madison begins phase #2 of reopening. Most restaurants and businesses are open for outdoor seating and reduced capacity. Parks, playgrounds, and attractions are now open. And almost as if Rodney was following the news on his own, he just happened to start asking me about playing at the park. It's been a long quarantine, and that kid deserves some time away from his noisy baby brother to blow off steam on a jungle gym. I'm going to make that happen, even if I have to immersion baptize him in hand sanitizer.

Sip. Yesterday was a good day. We took it slow in the morning, and after reading yesterday's entry from the couch with coffee, Marissa gave me a sad smile.

"I feel like I'm not making today special enough for you," she said. "I don't have anything planned."

"It's OK," I quickly replied. "I'm having a hard time slowing down to reflect on it. Even in that little shoutout, I felt like I was forcing it a bit. I don't even know if I feel like looking at wedding photos today."

Marissa nodded. "There's too much going on around the house. Miles has me so tired." As we were talking, Rodney leapt off the couch and over my lap. I bobbed my head to avoid his flying kick.

"We're in the same boat together," I said. "We can celebrate it however we want, and we can set the expectations ourselves. Plus, six isn't really a significant number, right?"

We ate lunch together on the deck. I heated up some paella and threw together a Dutch baby in our cast iron pan. We tiredly sipped on coffee, waiting for Rodney to clear his plate.

"C'mon Rod - pick up the fork and eat," I scolded. Rodney was crouched on the balls of his feet in his chair, his eyes wandering around the sky.

"If you finish eating, we'll play a game of BEACH" said Marissa enthusiastically. Rodney perked up, and reaching for his flimsy plastic fork, began to shovel a haphazard mixture of spicy paella and syrupy German pancake into his mouth.

Holding up our end of the deal, once Rodney finished eating, Marissa and I played a game of beach with Rodney. Rodney paced around the backyard with his big red ball dispatching nonsensical instructions to us.

"BEACH!" yelled Rodney.

"Beach," we echoed unenthusiastically.

"Beach sucks," I laughed as Marissa and I waited for Rodney to dig the stray ball out from underneath his playground. "We spoke too soon about this game. It's just another game where Rodney tells us what to do."

Marissa laughed. "Yeah, I don't feel like doing this right now."

"We can tired him out before his quiet time," I said. "He keeps missing the ball, and you'd have to think he's starting to get tired running after it."

"BEACH!" yelled Rodney.

"BEACH!" we answered.

After dinner, I put Rodney to bed, and Marissa and I got to work. She was tending to the saltwater tank, and I was making a loaf of bread.

"This quarantine has really turned us into weird hobby people, huh?" I laughed. "You're getting really into the fish tank."

"Yeah," said Marissa while inspecting the tank. "I feel like I spent all day working on it today. I really enjoy it, even when I'm cleaning it. What are you making?"

"Another loaf in the pan," I answered, stirring the thick dough together in the bowl. "The batches I make in loaf pans are way easier, and they turn out a little better than the boules. This recipe is Krang bread - or at least that's what the name will be if it works out."

"Krang bread?" asked Marissa.

I nodded. "Yep. Krang's has just been so cocky lately. So I'm going to make him put his money where his mouth is and see how he does in a no-kneed recipe over night. No fancy proofing basket or luxurious gluten stretches!" I raised my voice, as if I was trying to get a rise out of Krang in the corner. "How is the tank doing?"

"I think I took care of most of the brown algae, but I want it to be really good for when our clown fish come tomorrow," said Marissa. "Oh, and Bruno is really mad at me because I moved his rock."

Bruno stood in a fighting stance in the corner of the tank. I clambered beside Marissa, kneeling next to the tank to get a good look. "Oh he is angry," I said. "Let me get a picture of him."

"Just don't use that picture for your blog tomorrow," said Marissa. "All the sand is kicked up right now, and I don't want people to think our tank is dirty."

"You spent all day cleaning the tank," I chided. "Nobody is going to think our tank is dirty. And I think everyone will just be grateful to finally see a decent picture of bruno."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Monday, everyone.