Thursday, September 3 2020

spacing out chores, meal planning, and ping-pong

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Grab a cup of coffee - it's journal time. How is your Thursday going so far? Do you feel like you can eek out two more work days before the holiday weekend?

I'm feeling good today. I'm showered. The kitchen is in order. And I caught up on all my chores last night. Here's a tip for anyone who has thought about how they want to space out their chores for the week. You might think it's a good idea to try spacing them out evenly so you have only a little bit of work to do each day. If that works for you, then more power to you. Instead, I like to make myself extra busy on one weekday. On Wednesdays, I'm on the hook for cleaning the stove, the microwave, the fridge, and the pantry, and doing these things along with cleaning up after dinner inevitably leads to just cleaning the whole kitchen.

Why fit so much work into one evening? Because the next day feels amazing. After putting Rodney to bed on Thursday, I can use up the evening as I see fit. I can work on some code, surf the web, or just waste away on the couch catching up on YouTube videos. I'm not quite sure what I'm in the mood for tonight.

Chores completed. Kitchen cleaned. This is a good morning. I've even already submitted my order of groceries to Woodman's. This evening, just to keep things rolling with the French cooking, we're going to have a brown lamb ragout. Leery of items on Woodman's site without a thumbnail image, I've also added some chuck roast as a backup, just in case their interpretation of lamb shoulder isn't fit for a stew.

Tomorrow, I'm going to drag my deep dish pizza recipe out of retirement. Homemade tomato sauce, spicy Italian sausage, and an embarrassing amount mozzarella and provolone sandwich slices. Here's a little deep dish trade secret for you - I like to use the cheep sandwich style cheese slices because there's less moisture and the pizza stays together better. The drawback is you face an uncomfortably vivid visualization of how much cheese your eating when you finish the pizza (usually about a dozen sandwiches' worth).

And Saturday is a little far out yet, so I've put in a soft commitment to making some kind of kale, bacon, and chicken breast dish with roasted potatoes on the side.

Sip. We had a good day yesterday. I spent almost the entire morning in meetings, but they were the fun kind. Mostly just getting to know the new people that were added to my team while I was away. Even though I put something general in the meeting invite like "talk about projects", we covered everything from forest fires, to protests, to keeping babies quiet. And then there's always those stand by ice breakers for nerds like us: "what editor do you use these days", "what's the worst piece of code you've ever seen", and "how has software disappointed you today?"

Marissa, Rodney, Miles, and I jumped in the car to pickup some things from Target, grabbing Portillo's on the way. It felt nice to get out of the house, and even the thirty second walk around the car to buckle Rodney's seat belt was rejuvenating in a way.

Back at home, I gutted through the rest of the work day, rewarding myself with a quick power nap before starting on dinner. That was when I noticed the large tattered brown box leaned up against the wall.

"The ping-pong table!" I said excitedly. "Have you set it up yet?"

Marissa shook her head in disappointment. "I'm returning it. It's a huge piece of crap." She went on to explain that the four stabilizing screws had completely stripped the threads of the cheap particle board, and even if she hacked it back together, it was only a matter of time before it would break again.

"So the person on Amazon chat just told me to send it back. Oh and this is the box they sent it in," laughed Marissa, directing my attention to the ripped up cardboard. "The corner was also smashed. I was really tempted to reply Impossible - you packaged it like an ape."

(That's apparently a paraphrased deep shot Office reference. Marissa instructed me to include it in the story for the true fans).

"Rodney's going to be so bummed," I said.

"Actually," interjected Marissa. "I tested out the paddle and ball on our dining room table. It works pretty well."

So after dinner, we cleared the table to give makeshift table ping-pong a whirl. Rodney and I took our spots opposite of each other. I volleyed a soft serve in his direction, rolling past his paddle onto the floor. He broke out into laughter, scooping the ball off the ground before hitting it wildly in my direction.

Marissa opened the rest of the ping pong balls and began to throw them around. The game of ping-pong delved into chaos. I exchanged my paddle for a frying pan before the three of us ran around the dining room hitting ping pong balls at each other. The dogs watched us from the living room, puzzled by the sudden madness. Pure, liberating bedlam.

Rodney gasped to catch his breath, his lungs filled with hiccups and laughter.

"I think most of them rolled into the basement," said Marissa catching her breath.

I put Rodney to bed. Marissa, tidying up his room, floated an exciting activity for the next day to get him excited.

"Dude, how about this," she said taking a knee at his bedside. "Do you want to take your bike tomorrow and get some ice cream?"

Rodney shook his head. "I want to play PING-PONG," he replied.

"That was unexpected," I laughed. It was clear Rodney preferred our stir crazy flavor of dining room ping-pong, but to prefer it over ice cream? Unheard of.

We corralled all the missing ping-pong balls together and stowed the paddles away on a shelf.

"Lord of the Flies ping-pong really made an impression on him, didn't it?" I laughed.

"Yeah no kidding - I'll put these here," said Marissa. "I guess we'll be needing them tomorrow. See? Who needs a ping-pong table?"

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful day today.