Here’s some footage from our time at the Justin Roberts concert.Flickr Video
What a weekend.
It all started out innocently enough, with a drive to Ames to visit Mubby and Skittergramps. Mubby was working when we arrived, so we stopped by her dance studio and caught her between classes. She put a pair of tap shoes on Miles, who had a good time making a lot of noise on a chair.
Aunt Suzy and Uncle Joe came down from Minnesota just to see Miles, and they had fun with him part of the day on Saturday. Unfortunately, Joe was taking a bike ride down Lincoln Way, a busy street in Ames, and a jaywalker stepped out in front of him. He swerved to avoid him and crashed, and ended up spending a really long time (10+ hours) in the emergency room while they figured out what to do with him. He has a broken collarbone, a fracture in his hip, and some abrasions. One thing that made it all take so long was his reaction to painkillers, which made him woozy and low-blood-pressured, and the doctors didn’t believe him when he said that was his typical response to painkillers.
So yeah, we didn’t get to hang out with Ah-Ah and Djo (codewords for Aunt Suzy and Uncle Joe in Milesspeak) as much as we would have liked. Fortunately, after an overnight in the hospital, Joe was well enough to make it home.
Today we went for a day of adventure at the Blank Park Zoo, where I had been as a kid but didn’t hardly remember. It’s improved massively since my youth—it’s really very nice now, with lots of different animal habitats and specimens. It’s fairly small, but it was a good, manageable size for our needs today. Miles especially enjoyed the giraffes. Mubby and Skittergramps joined us, and Nanna and Papa (Denny’s parents) came too. Miles was so happy to see them, he about leaped out of his stroller when he saw Nanna approaching.
After a zoo lunch (hamburgers, hot dogs, and fruit with a side of many, many bees) we went to a concert: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players. I thought it might be a little too much for Miles, since he was getting tired before it even started, and it was pretty loud, but he had a great time. He seemed to recognize the songs, which makes sense considering Justin Roberts takes up a fair share of the family iPod. He loved clapping after each song ended, and he demanded “Moah!” (more) every time.
In the car ride home, I asked Miles what was the best animal he had seen at the zoo. “Papa,” he said. I couldn’t argue with his logic.
After all that adventuring, now we’re resting at home. Just a little while ago, Miles was sitting in his high chair having a snack (a blueberry waffle with butter and maple syrup, one of his favorites). I was leafing through a periodical, skimming an article about ways to make your day more pleasant. One suggestion was that at dinner time, each family member should say what the best thing that happened to them that day was.
“Miles,” I said, “what was your favorite thing about today?” I imagined he might do his giraffe impression, which involves him tossing his head backward, or say one of his grandparents’ names, or maybe make the “la la la” tongue-flapping that indicates music (or banana—you have to pay attention to the context).
He gave me a huge smile and pointed down at his waffle.
At least it was bee-free.
Our neighbor kid came to the door the other night. I’ll call him Leroy, which is not his real name, but safety and anonymity are a key part of this exchange. Plus I like the name Leroy. We’ve known him and his parents for years, ever since we moved to the neighborhood, and we’ve been to parties at his house and stuff. Leroy rang the doorbell while his dad and little brother lingered down by the sidewalk.
Aprille: (opening the door) Hi, Leroy. What’s up?
Leroy: I’m fund-raising for Robert Lucas school. I’m not supposed to say my name.
Aprille: Oh. Sorry.
I pretended not to know him for the rest of the exchange. We bought two kinds of cookie dough. I am seriously dreading when Miles has to do this. I remember the excruciating days of selling Girl Scout Cookies door to door. My parents didn’t work in offices, so I couldn’t take the wuss route and just send an order form to work with them and rake in the profits.
That is my tentative plan for dealing with Miles’ fundraising requirements.
Miles is the captain of the Litter Committee. Whenever we’re in a park or something and he sees garbage on the ground, he immediately makes hairball noises and wants to find a garbage can to throw it in. We encourage this in spirit, though sometimes in practice we don’t want him touching that stuff.
He’s been an influence on me. As I waited for the bus this morning, I saw a card with a magnetic strip on the ground. I thought maybe I’d dropped my bus pass, so I checked for it in my bag. My bus pass was secure, and when I looked around a little more, I saw that there were many cards sprinkled around the area.
Normally I would have just left them, but Miles’ little glottal hacking noises were ringing in my head, so I decided to beautify the neighborhood and pick them up. They turned out to be those membership rewards cards you can get at casinos. I know about them because the first/only time I went to Las Vegas, my friends and I thought they were required to gamble in the casinos, so we wasted a ton of time setting up accounts at every place we went. Eventually we figured out that they’re not necessary, but only after I’d opted into something that generated a lot of spam email.
In the case of these cards’ owner, I like to imagine that she has suffered a crippling gambling addiction for years, facilitated by her family’s wealth and power (the cards carry a locally-illustrious surname). After a weekend of debauchery, she woke up early this morning with renewed vigor and tossed the cards into the street in a purge of all that was wrong with her former life.
Or maybe they just expired or something.
When I was a little kid, I thought my name was Apple Clock. The title of this post reminded me of that.
The apple cake with apples from yesterday’s orchard adventure turned out very well—so well, in fact, we (mostly I, although Denny and Miles did their fair share as well) managed to consume almost half of it in the first 12 hours of its existence. I put some in the freezer where I hope to forget about it and then have a nice surprise some time in the future when I’m looking for frozen chili.
I used basically this recipe. My only changes were that I used pecans instead of walnuts and some brown sugar in place of part of the white sugar.
This morning we took Miles out for his first trip to the apple farm (Wilson’s Orchard, north of town). He always gets a kick out of seeing produce at the grocery store—he shouts “Ball!” whenever we get near oranges, cantaloupes, apples, or anything vaguely spheroid— so I thought it would blow his mind to see apples in their natural environment.
It was lots of fun. It was crowded, being a Saturday in peak apple season, but we were able to catch a tractor ride pretty easily down to the picking zones. We were fortunate to have come during Honeycrisp time. For those of you who are not midwesterners, Honeycrisps are a variety of apple developed at the University of Minnesota, so they’re pretty well-suited to the Iowa climate too. They’re really great for out-of-hand eating, very juicy and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Maybe they’ve made it nation-wide by now. Regardless, the last batch I picked up at the grocery store was $3.97 a pound, so it made it all the more attractive to pick some at the orchard for only $2 a pound.
Miles was pretty neutral on the tractor ride, though Denny and I found it a bit thrilling. It went faster than I expected and even went through part of a creek. The lady sitting next to me was about ready to bail.
Once we got out to the pickable area, Miles went nuts. He wanted to put every single apple he could see into my bucket, even the gross rotten ones on the ground. If they weren’t too squishy, we let him do it to think he was contributing, then quickly tossed the new contributions out when he wasn’t looking. (If you’re reading this in ten years, Miles, sorry.) He had fun when Denny lifted him up and helped him pick apples out of the trees, and he also enjoyed gathering gravel from the walkway and throwing it in the creek. Much like the apples, he wanted to pick up every little stone. Good thing we weren’t in a hurry.
We got lots of Honeycrisps, and I also got some Jonathan varietals for an apple cake I’m baking right now. I’ll update on that topic if it comes out photo-worthy.
As we walked from the car to the expanse of blankets and folding chairs on the Upper City Park lawn, Denny asked me how I first heard about Michelle Shocked. I thought hard about it, but I couldn’t remember. My best guess is that I got a CD of hers from the Ames Public Library when I was 15 or so, before I could drive, when I spent a lot of summer days browsing through their music collection. I’d check out whatever caught my eye, then jump on my bike, go home, and dub them to tape. I discovered a lot of good music that way, actually. I also discovered that Alice Cooper looks a lot more interesting than he is, but that’s true of a lot of people.
Michelle Shocked’s music has been part of my personal collection for over 15 years, I’m sure of it. The true standouts like Michelle led me to the CD store (remember those?), and I purchased many of her albums. It was a time when I was figuring out my personal taste, and I remember being surprised that so much of her music was country-inspired, when I was firmly anti-country and firmly into wearing flannel shirts over babydoll dresses. It was unflattering then and it’s unflattering now, so don’t even try it. And yet, country or not, Michelle Shocked’s music is so thoughtful and cheeky and righteous and fun and driving and hardcore and tender that I had to put my prejudices aside and just plain love her.
I chose a Michelle Shocked song for my senior dance recital solo, not one of her most heavy-hitting tunes, but the light and catchy “Cement Lament.” I’m really glad I decided against the Macarena, which was also a finalist (to my credit, I heard it in Spain my junior year, and it hadn’t hit in the U.S. yet).
Fast forward a decade and a half or so: I keep an eye on michelleshocked.com for tour information, and when I saw that she was playing a show in my fair city, I was so excited. If she had ever played a show in Iowa, I didn’t know about it, and this one was perfect. It was free, in a park, and in the late afternoon, so it worked great for my personal schedule and child situation. But even if it hadn’t been so convenient, I would have found a way to go. I don’t actually enjoy concerts very much, most of the time. They’re too loud, people stand in front of me, and a lot of times bands are disappointing live. But Michelle Shocked would be worth it, I was sure.
I was totally right.
She played many of the songs of hers I love the most, such as “Anchorage” and “Graffiti Limbo.” I sang along as loud as I could when she asked the audience to sing, even though it seemed like I was the only one. She played practically the whole Short Sharp Shocked album, my all-time favorite of hers, and after the show when I produced it for her to sign, she seemed pleased that I’d brought it. I thanked her in all those silly, trite ways you thank someone who influenced you without ever meeting you. She was cool about it. I probably sounded like a dork.
She’s committed to affordable health care for all. Hey, so am I! She also suggested that parents do ridiculous things now and then to keep the kids on their toes. I do stupid crap all the time!
It was a really intimate, stripped-down show, with just her on guitar and vocals and a bass player, and another guitar player who joined her for a couple of songs. It wasn’t wussy, though—she can shriek and holler and rock out with her pick out better than most people two decades younger.
If you have a chance to see her, you really oughtta. Even Miles had fun, mostly because it was at a park with playground equipment, and Denny took him to play on it while I boogied.
If there’s anything nicer than summer tomatoes, sliced up while they’re still warm from the sun…
…then don’t bother telling me, because I don’t want to know.
Today, which is also Skittergramps’ birthday, you turn 20 months old. I don’t think you understand the concept of birthdays yet, but you really enjoy it when people sing “Happy Birthday,” so we did that about six times total for Skittergramps. You also know about blowing out candles: you were playing with a candle today (unlit, of course), and you kept blowing on it. Of course, you did that while sitting in your high chair, and you seem to think anything on your tray needs to be blown on. That goes for hot tater tots, grapes, and even ice cream.
I should really be keeping a list of all the words you know, whether in traditional English or your own special language. The best ones come with important gestures and intonations, like your verbalization of wanting music on. You say ladl-ladl-ladl-ladl-ladl (yes, a lot like the word for banana) and move your finger in a motion that in other contexts means “naughty naughty,” but here I think is more of a boogie-woogie type movement.
You make all kinds of hilarious expressions and noises, and you’re so funny. Some background for our readership: you call your Grandma Cheryl “Nanna,” your Grandpa Denny “Papa,” your Mubby “Buh,” and your Skittergramps “Guh.” Yesterday we were spending time with Nanna and Papa and some other aunts and uncles, and the time came for you to take a break for a nap. I promised you that after you took a nap, you could play with Nanna again.
You didn’t like that idea so much, and as I attempted to get you down for your nap, you yelled “Nanna! Nanna! Nanna!”
“No,” I reminded you. “You have to take a nap before you can see Nanna.”
You looked at me, made your voice very small, and said, “Buh?”
It’s so much fun to watch the evidence of your developing brain. I could see what you were thinking: I would certainly like to play with Nanna. However, that seems to be off the table right now. What are my alternatives? Would a nap be required in order to play with Mubby? I think I laughed so much that it probably cost me an extra ten minutes to get you to take a nap, but you did, and after that we had lots of fun playing with Nanna. She’s pretty spry, and she scrambled all over the Albia playground with you. You had a great time with your Papa, too. He held you and let you bounce on an inflatable bouncy house at the Georgetown picnic, poked a strange little decorative leprechaun with you, and led you all around by the hand. You rewarded him with a very nice goodbye kiss as we were getting ready to go home.
And though you can be so shockingly sweet sometimes that I want to put you in a pie, other times lately your opinionated toddler side has been coming out. Your new favorite word is NO with an especially petulant little diphthong at the end. But on the other hand, you’re also learning to nod—you’ve had the negative head-shake mastered for quite a while. You can’t quite get the up-and-down head motion going, but you try your best by leaning forward and backward. This is easier to do while seated than while standing, so we get more yeses at the dinner table than anywhere else.
Last night as we drove back from Albia, several times you broke out into unprovoked giggles. Are you thinking funny things, Miles? Are you telling jokes in your head?
I’m often surprised by the things you notice and remember. During a visit from Mubby and Skittergramps, Skittergramps blew on your head for entertainment. Now, when you see the picture I snapped of the moment, you start blowing on my head and want me to blow on yours.
You’re getting better at reading people and situations too. In one of your books, there’s a picture of a park scene (unrelated to the text) that includes a little boy being comforted by his mother. When you see it, you say “Ba-boom!”, which is your phrase for something falling, be it a grape or your own self. Later in the book, there’s a picture of babies and children sleeping on clouds. After doing your usual loud snore-sound, which is your automatic response to seeing anyone with closed eyes, you pointed to one sleeping child and said “Ba-boom!” I looked and told you no, he didn’t fall down, he’s just sleeping. You insisted on “Ba-boom!”, so I leafed back through the book, and lo and behold, it was the same kid in the same outfit from the park scene.
Books are something we use a lot around here. You have about 48,000 of them due to the generous gifts of many family and friends, and you have some great favorites among them. Right now, you’re really into Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book, and even better, photo albums of family members (mostly with you, because there really aren’t any more pictures in our house that don’t include you, save the occasional arty food or floral shot). You love to name the different people in the pictures, including Aunt Suzy, whom you call “Ah-Ah,” and Uncle Tyler, whom you call “Dial.”
I usually try not to include to0 much scatological content in this blog, not only because it is in poor taste but because I want you to enjoy reading it someday, and who really wants to hear about his babyhood bowel movements? But this one is too good not to include. Your Beaniesitter was the lucky one who got to manage this situation.
Recently we went out to Mekong (the restaurant) for some pan-Asian cuisine, and you gorged yourself on my Vietnamese chicken and vegetables. I mean, you went nuts on that stuff. It’s good—I don’t blame you a bit—but apparently it had some ill effects on your innards. Bean tells me that your butt made a noise like an elephant, and you got a horrified look on your face. You made the “naughty naughty” gesture and ran to your changing table, which is very unusual behavior for you, since you normally do your best to avoid diaper changes. Then, as she dealt with the carnage, Bean tells me you said “Ach! Ach!” the same way you do when you see litter in a public place.
I’m sorry you had such a traumatizing poo-sperience, but I’m really glad you like Vietnamese food so much. You love anything with rice or couscous (all of which you call coo-coo). You do so well with such a wide variety of cuisines, and yet I can’t get you to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You are a weird kid.
A weird and wonderful and wackadoodle kid, and you’re all mine.