Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:33 pm

On the Clarke side of the family, we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in one fell swoop for the last few years.  This year we did it at a community center in Monticello, which we rented for the afternoon because it’s easy for my grandparents to access, and their apartment isn’t big enough for our whole gang.

Here are some of the shenanigans that ensued.

Flickr Video


[person’s] little [name]

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:47 am

I got an audio recording on my phone of Miles listing off the various nicknames people have for him.


Aprille:  Miles, are you Daddy’s little…?

Miles:  No.

Aprille:  You’re Daddy’s little…?

Miles:  NO.

Aprille:  You’re not?

Miles: MO-EY! (more–he wanted to play with the iPhone some more)

Aprille:  But we have to record something so we can listen to something.  Are you Skittergramps’ little…

Miles:  No.

Aprille:  Are you Uncle Tyler’s little–

Miles:  PAL!

Aprille:  Yes, and Skittergramps’ little…

Miles:  Mi-nu (Mileo).

Aprille:  Yes, and Mama’s little…

Miles:  Mu– bebbeh.

Aprille:  Yeah, and Daddy’s little…

Miles:  Boo-boo.

Aprille:  Yeah!  And Mubby’s little…

Miles:  Muh (Muffin).

Aprille:  That’s right.


Banana Pudding Pie

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:37 am

Banana Pudding Pie, from Country Living Magazine

50 vanilla wafers
2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (more if using kosher salt)
5 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin (optional:  see note.)
1/4 cup cold milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, pod and scraped seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh whipped cream
5 tablespoon caramel sauce, plus extra for garnish
3 medium bananas, sliced

1.  For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crush vanilla wafers and toss with brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and sea salt. Stir in melted butter and vanilla extract and press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

2. For the filling: Chill a medium bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice water and set aside. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and sea salt together until very thick and light in color. Set aside. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3.  Bring heavy cream, remaining 3/4 cup milk, and vanilla bean to a boil in a medium pot. Remove from heat, slowly whisk cream mixture into reserved egg mixture, pour back into pot, and stir over medium-low heat until it reaches a boil. Pour into chilled bowl, remove vanilla bean pod, and stir in gelatin mixture, butter, and vanilla extract. Let cool and fold in whipped cream.

4.  Spread caramel sauce over crust. Line with 2 1/2 bananas and top with pudding. Chill for 2 hours. Decorate with remaining banana slices and caramel.

Note:  this never set up very well for me, so I ended up serving it frozen.  It was good, but next time I hope it sets up better.  I think I might have screwed up the gelatin part.  That said, you could make it vegetarian by skipping the gelatin and freezing it.

The country life

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:20 am

It was a gorgeous weekend, just fantastic, especially for November.  We started an adventure on Friday night, with a trip to Ames to spend the night with Mubby and Skittergramps on the way out to Nanna and Papa’s farm in southwest Iowa.  We explained to Miles ahead of time that we were going to see Mubby, Skittergramps, Nanna, Papa, and Uncle Michael, which he thought was cool, but he automatically added Uncle Tyler to that list and didn’t seem to believe me when I said we weren’t going to see him.

Uncle Tyler or not (though he did have a great weekend over in Lincoln; something good happened in the world of sports, I hear), we had fun.  Miles was a little scared of the farm animals, but he liked the animal toys Nanna bought him, and he had a great time playing catch and peek-a-boo with Papa.

Also, I got to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies related to going a-visitin’:  reading the periodicals of others.  It’s always interesting to take a look at magazines I don’t subscribe to.  At my parents’ house I read Consumer Reports, The Sun, Utne Reader, and Oprah (diverse group, no?).  At the farm I read Country Living, which as far as I can gather is mostly about decorating, but it also has an interesting feature a la Antiques Roadshow where people show things they acquired one way or another and the expert tells them whether the thing is worth $4 or $5000.  I bet more often they’re actually closer to the $4 end, but they don’t feature those very prominently.

Flipping through those Country Living magazines made me remember a really good recipe I got out of an earlier issue during another visit, which I was happy to find on their website.   I’m going to blog it in a new post so I can have an electronic record of it.

We also got H1N1 inoculations.  I have a major injection phobia (not blood draws, just stab-n-squirts), so when Cheryl (aka Nanna) suggested that their neighbor, who is a public health nurse, might have some extra doses, I got that familiar pukey and light-headed feeling.  I knew it was important to do; there have been a lot of people sick at work, some of whom keep showing up, realizing they’re still sick, then going home.  I’m not in the super high risk group, but Miles is, and I don’t want to bring anything home to him.

We went over to the neighbors’ house to visit and get stabbed.  They would have come to Nanna and Papa’s, but we decided we didn’t want Miles to associate their house with pain, so we went there instead.  She set up a station in the kitchen and got her equipment all set up.  I asked for a chair to sit in, due to my passy-outy tendencies in those situations, so she got me one.  Sitting down helped, though would it have killed her to find a chair with arms?  I kind of felt like I was going to fall out the side.

Actually, though, she did a great job.  The injection itself barely hurt at all, and once my blood pressure got back up to a normal level, I was fine.  Her husband did say I looked a little peaked when I got back to the living room.

Miles did okay too.  He howled as he got the shot, but he recovered quickly and was ready to get back to the Legos.  He needs another dose in a month, which might be kind of hard to find around here.  Apparently it’s easier to find the shots in the more rural counties, because the counties with larger cities (and notably the huge hospital here in Iowa City) are using up all their doses on health care workers.  We might have to go back next month for another round of down-home country kitchen immunization.  It’s the same place they make sauerkraut.


Monthly Miles Memo #22

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:29 am

Dear Miles,

This is coming a day early, because tomorrow we’re going to Nanna and Papa’s farm, which has cows and kitties and a dog the size of a pony, but the Internet access isn’t so great.

We’re coming into your last two months as a one-year-old.  You love to say two, whether as a reference to your upcoming birthday or as a clarification on how many crackers you’d like.  It comes out more like doo, but we know what you mean (most of the time).

Your language skills have grown so much this month.  You love to try out new words and make observations about your world.  Sometimes when we’re outside playing, you look up at the sky and say “Blue!” like you’re the first person who ever noticed it.  I love watching you get so excited about things.

Another thing we’ve learned about you this month is that you very much do not like your observations to go unacknowledged.  If we’re trying to get you calmed down for bed and you notice your an orange crayon somewhere and start yelling “Oh!”, my first inclination is to ignore your outburst and focus on Go, Dog, Go or whatever story we’re reading.  But if I try that, you’ll keep hollering about your crayon for a very long time.  It’s not that you necessarily want to play with the crayon; you just really want me to notice that you noticed it.  If I say, “Yes, that’s an orange crayon,” we can get right back to the book.

I also appreciate your desire for accuracy.  The other day, you were looking at one of your blocks that has letters on all six sides.  The letters are consecutive, and I could see an X and a Y on the surfaces facing me.  “Beeee,” you said.

Assuming it was actually a V you were looking at, I took the opportunity to model the fricative for you.  “Yes, that’s a vvvvvvveeeee,” I said.

You looked at me like I was nuts.   “Beeee,” you said again.

“Yes, vvvvvvveeeeee.”


Then you turned the block and I saw that on that block, Z had been reached and the alphabet started over.  It was, in fact, a B.  Sorry for not believing you, honey, but thanks for not falling for it.  You know when things aren’t right and you won’t stand for it, whether it’s a letter or a cabinet door that’s ajar.

First-born syndrome, maybe?

Life without siblings and without time with other kids in a daycare setting has created (or maybe reinforced an existing tendency toward) timidness in you.  When we go to the library and play with the wooden train set, other kids grab trains out of your hands, and you just stare at them.  You don’t usually get upset.  You just seem bewildered that anyone would act in an impolite manner.

The same thing happened yesterday when we went to the mall and you played on the kids’ play structure.  Lots of kids, mostly bigger than you, were running all around and bumping into you, mostly accidentally except for one rude jerk who needs some anger management.  Right now, you are a tender little fellow, which I find a lot more charming than an aggressive nature.  But your dad thinks you need to learn to assert yourself, and he’s probably right.  I’m not sure how we’re going to do that, but we’ll sort it out.

What you lack in aggression you make up for with curiosity and a love of learning.  You know almost all your letters now, most of them in the traditional way and some of them in funny ways.  For example, when you see a k, you say gay and make a kissing noise.  I don’t think you’re making any comment on gay kissing, specifically.  You just need to practice your unvoiced consonants.

You love to point out letters you see places.  On our mall trip yesterday, we had to pause by a jewelry store so you could show me the “D—Dada!” in the word diamonds.  I never thought of the Coral Ridge Mall as teeming with educational opportunities, but it turns out there are a whole lot of signs to read.  You didn’t believe me that the concentric circles at Target weren’t an O, though.

You had your first Halloween with anything resembling awareness this year.  I though you’d get a kick out of all the doorbell-ringing, but what you liked best was just being outside at night.  We went to an event at our neighborhood shopping mall a couple of nights before Halloween, which was fun enough but kind of confusing, and then we went to some neighbors’ houses on real trick-or-treat night.  We tried to bring you back inside, but you wouldn’t have it.  You just wanted to wander around the yard, kicking leaves and looking at our jack-o-lantern.  Once we finally shoehorned you indoors, though, you had fun answering the door with me.  You also liked sorting all the brightly-colored candy, though this year your consumption levels were pretty low.

Another exciting thing that happened this month was a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit Uncle Tyler.  His sports team didn’t do so hot in their game that weekend, which would ordinarily have sent him into a spiral of grumpiness, but you made him smile.  He made you fly in the air, played catch with you, and shared his toys.

(Photo by Gary Clarke)

Mubby and Skittergramps taught you to flex your arms and make a muscle-man grunt after saying Tyler, a gesture that now represents the letter T to you.  Now, when you see a T, a lot of the time you skip saying Tyler altogether and just do your muscle grunt.

It happens organically, the development of a family code.  Every day when we talk about the things we see and the people we know, tiny bits fall together to form a language that only we understand.  It’s like when you see a cow and say Papa (because Papa raises cattle) or when you see a raccoon and say Guh (don’t ask).  When you’re thirsty, you ask for ghee mi, which is not Indian food at all, but rather Miles-milk in the green cup.  It requires a lot of explanation for people who don’t hang out with us, but that’s okay.  A family code is one of the things that holds us close together in this fast-spinning world.  It can also introduce some great words into a person’s vocabulary.  Thanks to Uncle Tyler, I still sleep on a dudju every night.

Yes, you do throw a tantrum now and then, but mostly you are sweet and hilarious.  Despite some incoming molars, you’re doing better with your sleeping overall, though this morning I woke up with your feet in my face and your head pointing down toward the foot of the bed.  You and your Beanie-nanny have great times together, and you never fret anymore when your dad and I leave.  This morning, your block tower was already four-high by the time we got out the door.

But just when I think you’re such a big boy, you cuddle up on my lap and smash your cheek against mine.  Sometimes you transmit applesauce that way, but I don’t care.  As you played on the mall play structure yesterday, every couple of minutes you’d look around to spot me on the benches.  I kept moving so I could keep an eye on you, and as you scanned the adults sitting there, I could see you mouthing  “Mama?”  When you’d spot me, you’d give me a huge smile and get back to your playing.

It’s okay, Little Scoop. Go have your adventures.  I’ve got your back.



Powered by WordPress