family fun · Just the two of us · Kids · mental health · parenting · quilty pleasures · The COVID files

Day 8: The Life-Changing Magic of Splitting Firewood

This morning I woke up determined to eat something really nutrient-dense for breakfast so I wouldn’t snack on chocolate chips and pecans all day. A blueberry-spinach smoothie, a hard-boiled egg, and some cherry tomatoes later I was ready to face the day.

We wanted to get the kids outside in the morning. So close, and yet so far – we finally shooed everyone out of the house for a walk around 12:15. One went willingly; one reluctantly; one whining every step of the way; and one only after a minor meltdown and a protracted argument about wearing socks. The argument was so drawn-out that Mr. D and two of the kids went on ahead.

The other two grudgingly came outside, but one still refused to walk anywhere and the other one was just a touch belligerent. As with every conflict or argument these days, I knew their objections were only the surface layer of all the frustration, loneliness, and anxiety that are part of everyone’s days now. I could have gone with the original plan: herd them down the sidewalk like a pair of recalcitrant cats. Instead, I ushered them towards the backyard.

“Do you wanna do something really cool?” I asked in a conspiratorial murmur.

“Ungh. What is it?” She shot back. I reached into the tool shed and brought out my axe. (For those of you who didn’t know this about me, I find splitting logs calming. In fact, I’ve gone so far to say that it works as well as antidepressants for me.)

I’ll pause for a second here so you can consider the optics of the situation. The tween is complaining loudly and long. I reach into the tool shed and stand in front of the tween, brandishing an axe.

I looked at her. She looked at me, at the axe, and back at me. She giggled. The bad mood started to dissipate. For the next half an hour, she worked at splitting logs from the pile in our backyard. Some of them were pretty tough. But she kept at it, and each time she succeeded I heard her crow, “That is SO SATISFYING!!!”



While K was busy chopping her frustrations out, R played on the swing and invited me to play pirates with her. Her first act as the Dread Pirate R was to make me walk the plank. For doing what, you ask? I’m not really sure. But then she sent me on a mission to prove my loyalty by bringing her the treasure chest.




K was so busy chopping wood that she was mostly unbothered by our banter — which, I assure you, she would be in any other circumstances. So R prattled on in her best pirate voice about how she lost her arm in a shipwreck. She was a bit fuzzy on the details.


We returned inside in much better spirits than when we left. Everyone gathered in the library for a fire (with our newly split firewood) and to add a few elements to our family map. The kids got antsy about 5 minutes in. Seriously, I thought we only had one tween — but there were three of them asking, “Are we done yet? Are you through forcing us to stay in here with you?” Eventually we had to dismiss them.

IMG_2706We’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a lot recently and probably know about ⅔ of the lyrics, so I suggested some Hamilton karaoke. Nobody but me and Mr. D was interested, so the two of us sat by the fire and found some karaoke videos on YouTube. We had rapped our way through two cabinet battles and the opening number by the time curious children began to emerge from their solitudes and join us at the laptop. A good time was had by all. BY ALL!

I ignored my kids for the rest of the afternoon. I went downstairs and sewed myself a surgical mask for when I go to collect my parents from the airport tomorrow night (I think it can only be less risky than having them take a taxi that dozens of other people have sat in.) It took me way too long to choose my fabrics and in the end I made it reversible so I could decide later. Which one do you like better?

I know, I know. They’re like the worst passport photos ever. But really, which fabric looks better on me?

I took a nap after that. There’s something so sweet about sleeping when it’s still light outside. It was lovely.

Then it was bedtime for the kids and working time for me. I made a printed schedule of everyone’s day tomorrow. Honestly, I thought our days would be simpler than usual, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Look at this thing!

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 11.06.32 PM

I’m tired just looking at it. Better go to sleep.

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