A love letter to my dishwasher in these unprecedented times

An ode to the hardworking appliance that is the true pandemic M.V.P.

Loading the dishwasher

Ah, dishwasher, my old friend, my comrade, my trusted ally...Remember when it was just you and me and the dinner dishes?

Every evening, after the one single solitary meal per day that our family actually ate together at home, I'd sip some wine and listen to music while loading you up, and then I'd press your button and send you off on your gurgling nightly mission. You'd chug and scrub and rinse and dry while we slept, your whirring motor and whizzing jets lulling us into happy, peaceful slumber.

And in the morning, I'd open your door to a sanitized wonderland emerging from a cloud of steam, fresh like the dawn, sparkling with the promise of a new day. Fragrant and squeaky-clean and still warm, your bounty would be unloaded into the dish cupboard.

Then throughout the quiet day, you'd wait and rest, proud of your accomplishments, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to slosh into action. As the need arose, perhaps a cup or a bowl would land in your racks, but you'd bide your time, never running at anything less than maximum efficiency.

It was a more innocent era.

Now, months into the greatest challenge you have ever faced as an unsuspecting household appliance, we both know better than to expect those easy evening loads to return any time soon. Now, you're just fighting to survive.

The burden you've borne for all of us through this unprecedented crisis is so great, even the washing machine sends its respects.

Not even those little pre-made dishwasher detergent pellets can save us now.

At first, I thought we could simply run you once after lunch and then once after dinner. How wrong I was to imagine that this level of chaos could be contained. Thinking of my own hubris now, I can only laugh with the bitterness of a wilted spinach leaf stuck in your utensil rack.

Then—what a fool I was—I had the audacity to suggest that family members drink from fewer than three dozen cups per day, in an effort to lighten your workload.

We both remember how well that went. (About as well as telling people to just wear a mask for the love of all that's sudsy.)

My various attempts to delegate your all-important mission to other family members have caused us nothing but shame and regret. One morning I opened your door to find the entire contents of our dish cupboard crammed into your racks in crusty unwashed heaps—after loading you up with literally every plate we owned, nobody pressed your start button. Your sense of dignity was dealt a shattering blow.

Another afternoon I opened your door to find that some infernal fiend had forced you to run a full load for a plate, a cereal bowl, three forks and a spoon.

Mistakes were made.

But still, we count ourselves fortunate. We've heard the horror stories, and we've escaped the worst. No one in the family has started you up with liquid dishwashing soap in your powder detergent compartment. No squishy silicone baby bottle part has gotten sucked down into your drain. No dishwasher-safe plastic sippy cups have been so haphazardly loaded that they fell onto the heating element during the dry cycle, to be melted into the twisted and unrecognizable shapes of our own tortured souls.

And if there's a positive side to any of this, it's that our bond has never been stronger, dishwasher. We've grown to trust each other in a crisis, with a mutual understanding and respect forged in the crucible of battle. I truly believe that both of us will make it through this time stronger, better, wiser.

Just please, please, please don't break down. You're all that stands between my family and an utter Lord of the Flies-style collapse of organized civilization. I know you've got my back. And I've got your top and lower rack.

The washing machine on the other hand...that one's on its own.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


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