Friday, December 18 2020

zooms with santa, paw patrol conspiracies, and cilantro

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. It feels so good to be able to say that this morning. The week was long. Gratifying, but long, and I can't help but feel like it's all been working up to this afternoon when I can sign off for the weekend and take a nap. In fact, just thinking about this afternoon's nap is making me feel giddy.

Today is a bitter sweet Friday. It marks what is officially the end of the "flex Fridays" perk my work has extended through quarantine. Up until now, Friday has been a half day. They were very clear that this was just a temporary benefit to help everyone adjust to the remote lifestyle, but sad to see it go nonetheless. Here's to you, flex Friday. I'll never forget how good flex Friday lunch tasted, and how wonderful the flex Friday after lunch nap felt. From here on out, I'll have to stick it out for the whole nine-to-five just like everybody else. Life goes on.

Sip. How much do you hate me for getting to have half day Fridays all this time? What kind of Friday do you think this will be for you? And how was your Thursday? I had a busy, yet fulfilling Thursday. In the morning we had a potential production issue come up, so we had to do some scrambling to make sure things would be fine at least through Christmas. Pretty much the rest of the day I was heads down planning work for our interns.

Meanwhile, downstairs in our dining-room-turned-shipping-center, head Christmas Elf Marissa hit a major milestone. As of lunch time yesterday, we are officially done with Christmas cards and Christmas presents. Everything is either in the mail or sitting in a box against the wall waiting for our family contactless Christmas present drop off tour around the Midwest. We're still trying to find a good day to hit Minnesota, but the Illinois leg of the journey is finalized. Yesterday, I went a little overboard and sent out an hour and minute itinerary to plan the journey. We depart our home tomorrow after lunch. We'll hit Geneva, West Chicago, and Lombard. By the time we're done, it will be dinner time, and we'll be within dangerous striking distance to a lot of excellent eating options. Marissa will probably want to stick it out until we reach the Beef-a-roo in Rockford, so the big questions is whether or not I will be able to convince her to let us stop at Los Burritos beforehand.

Marissa, and even Rodney share my excitement for the journey. What a testament for how bored we've been these days that we're looking forward to spending six hours in the car together on Saturday.

In other news, Rodney has been on his best behavior lately, and I think it's because this whole concept of Santa's naughty list finally clicked. Marissa says she's been in daily communication with Santa on where Rodney stands in the great balance of naughty and nice. I was there to add necessary detail.

"Momma talks to Santa?" asked Rodney.

"Sure dude," I replied. "We both do. We do a Zoom call with him every night, and he says 'how was Rodney today'?" Rodney was speechless as his imagination silently ran wild. Marissa's lips were pursed to keep her from accidentally laughing.

"That's right, dude," said Marissa. "Like today, when I dropped my phone while feeding Miles? Santa was extra impressed that you paused Paw Patrol and got off the couch to pick it up for me, and I didn't even need to ask you."

"Dude, that was a game changer," I stressed. "I think that really factored in to this Mighty Pups Paw Patrol Tower."

Yesterday during a 1-on-1 with Connor, he asked about the role of Paw Patrol in our household. "I don't even know what Paw Patrol is," he laughed. "It's a show right?"

"It's a show, unfortunately," I replied. Miles began to wale in the baby monitor. I reached across my desk to hit the power button.

"Do you like it?" he asked with a wry smile.

"That's a complicated question," I replied. "I think I'm not alone when I say that most parents have a love-hate relationship with the shows that occupy kids. You're grateful that they have something that makes them happy, but you hate how repetitive and condescending it is."

Marissa and I still sometimes exchange Paw Patrol conspiracy theories. Yesterday, Marissa referred to Ryder as a 'boy millionaire'.

"This is new," I said. "So you think he's a millionaire?"

"Well sure," replied Marissa. "How else would he afford all the fancy equipment."

She has a point. Each of his dogs owns an amphibious tank. He has complete autonomy over the tallest tower in their beautiful ocean side city. On a whim, he can screw around in outer space, take people across international borders, and deploy deep sea submarines without asking permission from anyone. He'd have to be a millionaire.

"Maybe it's all government funded," I laughed. "What if Ryder just cons the Canadian government into paying for all of this like Elon Musk?"

"Speaking of Paw Patrol, have you seen any of these dinosaur universe episodes?" said Marissa.

"Did they jump the shark?" I asked.

"It's Paw Patrol," said Marissa. "The show is constantly jumping the shark."

As ridiculous as we find shows like Paw Patrol and Blaze, they make Rodney happy. And they also make us appreciate the shows that we all like - things like the Dude Perfect YouTube channel.

We ended the night on a bowl of chicken gumbo. The last time I made gumbo for us, Marissa wasn't a fan. To be fair, for someone who doesn't like gravy it's inherently a little hard to sell her on what is essentially an entire bowl of gravy. But this time around, I put a little tuft of cilantro on top of the soup.

"The cilantro is a game changer," she said hungrily lapping up the soup.

"Of course it is," I laughed. "That's the cheese on the mouse trap."

"What do you mean?" she laughed.

"Whenever I make something that I know you'll have a hard time enjoying, I throw in one of your favorite ingredients to lure you in. It turns out you're easy to please, it just took a little cilantro on top."

After dinner, Marissa was in the kitchen making chocolate bars. As a joke, while she wasn't looking I sprinkled cilantro on the plate.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I hope that you have a good Friday.