Monday, April 4 2022

finishing exercises, brunch, and walking around the mall

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday.

It's the fourth day of April. The first day of a new week. The sky is still grey, and the weather is still stuck between winter and spring. Even though nothing has really changed about my habitat, I can sense change in the air. The routine is back, and everything is clicking into place. Rodney is back at school. Our morning crew is fully staffed. A special stillness hovers over the house that feels so inviting. It makes me want to drink coffee all day and catch up on things.

Sip. It's good to be here today. Things feel like they're clicking into place, especially because Marissa and I finally finished trainer Greg's transformation program. We hammered out the final workout on Saturday. Though it could have been my imagination, in that sixty minute workout it felt like all twelve weeks had jumped on my back at once. The soreness. The fatigue. The sweat. I grunted through my final reps - squats with a barbell resting across my shoulders. I felt a wave of relief when I realized I was finished.

To celebrate, Marissa promptly made a batch of box mix brownies. The scent of dark chocolate began to trickle out of our oven. Standing around the fridge, we each drank a bottle of cold water while we waited for our treat.

"So what was the most annoying exercise?" I asked.

"DB snatch," said Marissa. She didn't need any time to think. The simple movement of picking a dumbell off the floor and pulling it upwards across your body like a zipper seemed to psychology defeat Marissa every time it made an appearance.

"I'm going to go with the rear foot one-legged squat things," I said. "As if it's not enough you have to do a squat with one leg, you have the added humiliation of losing your balance. And there's so many of them."

Marissa nodded and took a swig of water.

I added, "also, medicine ball slam gets an honorable mention." We both laughed. Since we don't own a medicine ball (and we don't have a suitable floor to slam anything heavy), we had to feign the action with a dumbell, pretending to bounce it on the ground with two hands like a basketball. The exercise popped up in our workout queue in our shorter sessions on Thursday. Trying to win back some free time for the evening, we squeezed this Thursday workout into the time it took to bake dinner in the oven. I grew to hate these because they were always accompanied by my own hangriness.

"How about the exercises that made you feel the coolest?" I asked.

"Definitely the bench press," said Marissa. "It makes you feel strong, pushing something that heavy up with your arms."

"Similarly, I really like the dumbell fly," I replied. I mimed the motion of bringing two dumbells together with my arms out. "It makes me feel like I'm in a Rocky montage."

What happens next, now that we're done with the training program? We're taking a week off exercise while we figure it out. Right now, Marissa and I are overwhelmed with how much time we have in the evenings. After putting the kids to bed, Marissa immediately disappeared to cut loose in the studio. I leisurely tidied up the house and cleaned the kitchen. Occasionally glancing at the clock on the oven, I couldn't believe how much time I had.

We had a great weekend. On Saturday, the whole family got up early and drove to Illinois. We dropped Marissa and the dogs off at the agility facility in Huntley, then the boys and I drove a little further to Schaumburg for more field research.

We ordered brunch at a place called Bill's Diner. Since I was watching both Miles and Rodney, I didn't have the mental bandwidth to fully take in the setting. In fact, going anywhere with both boys, it's hard to pay attention to anything other than their immediate needs. I spent breakfast time cutting up pancakes, holding Miles' milk, picking up plastic trucks off the ground, and protecting the Spidey and his amazing friends from falling into maple syrup. Rodney leaned in and told me he had to go to the bathroom. So the three of us left our table, elbowing our way to the bathroom in the back. I shut the door , locking the three of us in a single stall. Holding Miles on my hip, using a urinal, helping Rodney wash his hands - it was like a well-rehearsed circus act. Even simple things watching both kids, like using the bathroom in a diner, require some high flying acrobatics.

Feeling the need to stretch our legs, we took the car to the nearby Woodfield Mall and walked around. Sure, walking around the shopping mall is hardly considered cool anymore. But for kids, there's no better distraction. I strapped Miles to his walking stroller. Legs dangling out of his harness wrapped in a dark navy blanket, he was quite comfortable in what we refer to as his "FDR geddup," and there were plenty of things for him to stare at.


I took Miles and Rodney to Surf City Squeeze, an unassuming smoothie shop tucked underneath a set of escalators. Nothing about this humble little smoothie shop would make you think it was special, other than fact that this stand has been in Woodfield for three decades. I know I'm biased, but if you ask me it's the best smoothie in the world.

While we waited, I handed the phone to Rodney. He took approximately a hundred blurry pictures. Meanwhile, I juggled our three strawberry banana smoothies.


We stopped to get a photo in front of the sonic photo.


Just after a kind stranger had snapped our picture, a guy in a fuzzy bunny costume walked in front of us. He turned to wave at Rodney and Miles.

"Are you guys going to go see the Easter bunny?" said the attendant. The guy in the bunny costume jumped a wooden barrier, taking a seat in front of a sprawling line of kids and parents.

"I think we just did, and we didn't even have to wait in line," I laughed.

Is walking around at the mall still cool? Smoothies, sonic, and the easter bunny - of course it is, the mall rocks.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great Monday, everyone.