Friday, June 19 2020

marshmallow incentives, refunds, and sweet potato gnocchi




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Friday. Congratulations on making it to the end of the week. Even though it’s Friday, Rodney and I are treating this morning like a Saturday, lazily soaking up this beautiful morning with some breakfast and Blippi on the couch.

I should have known better - today I tried to shake up Rodney’s day by bringing him some sourdough toast with jelly.

“It’s pretty sour-y,” said Rodney, turning up his nose at a wedge of bread. Rodney had started to use the word sour-y to describe everything he doesn’t like, or in the case of breakfast, anything that’s not a sippie cup of milk and a blueberry crappy bar.

So how are you feeling this morning? Today I’m thankful for coffee. You know it’s funny - just after writing about all of our coffee brewing mishaps yesterday morning, we had a bonus round of coffee spillage. As I was recapping everything that had happened to Marissa, Rodney swung his arm an knocked over her open tumbler, sending a beautiful, steaming brown waterfall over the edge of our side table. Our brand new wireless charger floated away like a raft in a river of hot coffee.

After patting the mess dry with a few wads of paper towels, we assessed the damage. The wireless charger is no longer charging, and it currently has twenty four hours to remedy itself before I declare it dead. On the bright side, it’s been a real struggle trying to keep Rodney from setting his milk on top of the charging pad like his personal coaster. And now that it’s likely fried from being coffee logged, we can just designate this as his permanent personal sippie cup coaster. In our house, every piece of technology either dies a hero, or lives long enough to become one of Rodney’s toys.

Sip. After brewing even more replacement coffee, Rodney and I went to Hy-Vee. After yesterday’s grocery haul, I’m starting to wonder if I’m being a little too permissive with the treats. I let him talk me into a bag of marshmallows, a pack of Tate’s cookies, and a tiny toy motorcycle.

The marshmallows at least are a pretty useful bargaining chip around the house. It’s becoming clear to me that Rodney will do just about anything for a marshmallow, and we’ve started to use them to motivate him to do chores.

“Dada - two marshmallows please? I been a good boy,” says Rodeny, wringing his hands together in the kitchen, smiling from ear to ear.

“Put the dishes in the sink, then get a new roll of paper towels. Then put your toys away,” I said. Twenty minutes later, Rodney will be waiting in front of me with his hands cupped, and later I’ll find all the dishes stacked haphazardly on the kitchen counter, his toys shoved to the corner of the living room, and a free roll of paper towels lying on the kitchen floor.

“You should just buy the smaller marshmallows,” said Marissa. “Then we can give them to him more often for smaller jobs.”

“That’s a good idea,” I replied. “A marshmallow is such a big deal, it’s sometimes hard finding enough things for him to do that justify a big marshmallow.” Marissa was aptly viewing this as a dog training problem. In dog training, incentives are valuable, and it’s important to reserve them, stretch them out, and make them achievable.

After returning from Hy-Vee, I sent Rodney to his room for some quiet time and began to put the groceries away. Marissa, who was on the phone with some kind of customer support line, flashed me a grin from the dining room.

“Hi there,” said Marissa in a sweet Midwestern tone. “So you’re now the eighth person I’ve spoken to, and I’m just trying to find the answers to some questions I have about getting a refund.”

After some time, she wheeled into the kitchen and pumped her fist. “They’re giving us a refund for the igniter that I fixed,” said Marissa.

“GET OUT!” I replied.

“Man Sears is terrible,” laughed Marissa. “They didn’t even escalate me. I just kept getting disconnected, and then I think they just got sick of me. We’re getting a full refund.”

“Man, and this is the place that actually correctly diagnosed the problem,” I said. “If anything, of the two places we paid to come out, this was the murkier one. If you got your money back from these guys, the other place is a slam dunk.”

“Oh no, we definitely deserved a refund from this place too,” said Marissa. “Remember - they bumped our appointment by another month, and didn’t bother telling us. The guy was just a no-show.”

“And not to mention you just did the freakin’ work yourself,” I laughed.

After putting the groceries away, Rodney joined me in the dining room to make sweet potato gnocchi. It’s a fun recipe that just involves mashing up some cooked sweet potato flesh with ricotta, a beaten egg, and flour. Rodney likes to join when it comes time to roll the dough into long snakes and chop them into tiny pillows - or as you might call them in Dutch, kussentjes.

“Dada - I have more flower please?” said Rodney reaching for the bag sitting on the counter.

“Nah, I think you have enough in front of you,” I said, preoccupied by my own orange dough snake. But Rodney persisted, and after climbing precariously on the top railing of his ladder, he managed to reach the bag of flour. By the time I caught him, he had gathered a pile in front of him and buried his face in it, like Al Pacino in Scarface.

“I think that’s enough flour for you,” I laughed, zipping the bag shut.

“Thanks for making my favorite meal you guys,” said Marissa as she sat down at the table. I had finished the sweet potatoes in a sauce made from browned butter, bacon, chopped rosemary, and a half scoop of salty pasta water.

“So this took about twice as long as it normally does, because I rolled every piece of gnocchi across a fork to try to make those pretty ridges,” I said. Marissa picked up a kussentje to study it.

“There’s nothing to see,” I laughed. “It didn’t work. Even the ones where it did, it went away the second they were cooked.”

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a wonderful day today.