Monday, October 24 2022

another weekend in pictures

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Monday - it's time for a journal entry. I'm settled into the dining room computer today. The smell of burning mineral oil still wafts through the air. But don't worry - there's nothing weird or dangerous going on. That's just the final step in cleaning my cast iron pans. One of them is clean, the other sits on the counter, still covered in a glistening layer of pork fat decorated with flecks of burnt rice. I think I'll save that second pan for later in the day when I need a mental break.

Sip. Things have been good lately. The air feels chilly, and even though it's hard to leave the comfort of your warm sheets in the morning, it helps to have a good breakfast to look forward to. In our house, Eggo waffles are all the rage.


Rodney, dressed for hat day at school, polishes off a wafffle.

Miles and Rodney eat waffles like they're going out of style. No matter what they're eating, they're always in a hurry to shove their plates in the sink and escape to the play room. So it really says something when the meal makes them stick around at the table longer than they have to.

Other news - Miles upgraded to a forward facing car seat. It probably could have happened sooner, but it was a busy summer. No hard feelings, now that he enjoys the luxuries of staring out the window and riding in the car without his knees touching his chin.


Marissa, determined to make the most of what may be our last swell of warm weather, spent some time outside with our wayward rain gutter that spills into the yard. We call it the swamp, a phrase coined by Rodney. The two of them filled it with rocks, and that should be good enough to keep the dogs from playing in the mud.


The backyard swamp

"So it was like a real swamp?" I asked Rodney. "Like the one where Yoda lived?"

"Yeah," nodded Rodney. "It was a swamp with no trees."

On evenings where we're not in a hurry to get the kids to bed, we watch Star Wars together. We had no problems making it through the innocent and upbeat A New Hope, but the grittier sequel Empire Strikes Back gave Rodney some hesitation. Last night, he stopped mid bedtime routine, crying loudly in his room.

"I just had the scariest thought ever," he told Marissa. "I thought... what if Darth Vader got me?"

The stakes are higher in Star Wars. Paw Patrol battles a goofy mayor. Ryan's World and Kid City battle boredom. Star Wars might have been the first thing we watched that portrays a real sense of danger and evil. That might be a lot to grapple with as a kid.

By the time I got home from running an errand, Marissa had already calmed Rodney down. But Rodney tried to get extra attention anyway. "Hey dad," he said casually from his bedroom. "Want to... come closer to me and talk about my feelings?"

The flippant offer made me think that he was more interested in pushing his bedtime further back, and maybe talking me into a snack. "Nah, dude. I'm good," I replied. Then I chuckled to myself at the intrusive though I had about waking him up in the middle of the night while wearing a Darth Vader mask.


A question for the crowd - what are the best kinds of snacks to get at a Polish grocery store? I ventured back last week in the evening just before they closed. Vacuum sealed smoked trout, a whole aisle full of different pickled vegetables, and cookies from just about every country in Eastern Europe. I panicked, grabbing a pack of palmiers and a tall beer from the shelf.


Rodney helped me cook pasta. We made a simple red sauce with ground pork, onions, and mushrooms. While I cooked the noodles, I tasked Rodney with stirring the sauce. Maybe it was the extra involvement, but he got really into the sauce. He took one burning hot bite after another, offering some to Miles and Marissa each time they walked by the stove.


We took the kids to a Hawks game - Miles' first hockey game. Taking two kids a hockey game is no small feat. Driving, parking, and walking... scanning tickets at the door and getting snacks... coordinating bathroom breaks and keeping them in their seats for three periods of hockey. "We're cool parents", we quietly repeated as kind of a tounge-in-cheek salute to our herculean effort.


In honor of kids night, the team set up games in the lobby. We played a round of giant tic-tac-toe.


The boys added their touch to a giant marker mural. Miles left colorful smudges behind him while he fidgeted and scooted around on his butt.


We tried our luck at hockey stick ski ball.

Climbing the steep stairs of section 3 with two beers in my hands and two bags of popcorn tucked under my arm, I lost my footing. Beer splashed on my jersey and down my legs. But it was a good game, and a tiring day at the United Center with kids still beats a day spent anywhere else.


That's what I got. Have a great Monday, friends.