Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:36 pm

Miles saw this picture on a blog I was looking at:

M:  What is that?

A:  A kitty and a girl.

M:  Is she trying to eat it?


The Great White North

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:20 pm

Last night before bed, Miles had a cup of water with ice cubesThis morning, it was still by his bed.

M:  Where did my ice cubes go?

A:  They melted.

M:  I thought they would stay frozen forever.

A:  Nope, ice cubes almost always melt, unless you’re at the North Pole or something.

M:  Or Minnesota.


The Tobin Times #1

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:15 pm

My dearest Tobin,

My first draft of this letter began with a description of the crazy morning we had, largely due to your brother.  My purpose there was to point out how calm and sweet you were through the whole thing, but as I looked over what I had written, I realized I was heading in the wrong direction.

One of my close friends is a second-born child who has a lot of useful advice on the topic.  I didn’t want to interrupt her workday by asking her opinion on a blog post, but I’m pretty sure I know what she would say:  don’t start the Tobin Times by writing paragraphs and paragraphs about someone else, only to tack “And you were such a good boy” on at the end.

So now, I delete.  That story is for another time.  This?  This here is Tobin Time.

The day you were born was unseasonably cool for August.  When my labor was just beginning, your dad and I took a walk outside and enjoyed the beautiful day.  People kept telling me that second births go faster, so we didn’t waste too much time getting to the hospital.  Eighteen hours of labor later, you were in my arms, pink and vigorous and nursing perfectly.  You’re a good sleeper, and you have fit right into our family.  Yes, we’ve had to make some changes to our routine, but it’s really amazing how easy it’s been overall.  You belong with us.

I can’t say for sure whether your personality at one month will be similar to your personality down the road, and I promise I will still love you if (when) you turn into a grumpy preschooler, but for the time being I’m really appreciating your chill nature.  Right now, for example, you’re lying next to me on the couch, looking up at some art on the wall.  It’s probably out of your range of focus, so all you see are colors and general shapes, but I love the fact that it’s holding your attention.

Yesterday I was reminiscing about the time I went to Paris and spent many hours wandering museums by myself.  I really enjoy going to museums alone.  There’s no need to stay longer than I want in any particular area, and I don’t feel pressured to make intelligent commentary about chiaroscuro or upward movement or any of those things I learned about in high school Western Civ class.  But if your current personality holds, you might just be the perfect museum buddy.  I have this dream of taking you to the Reina Sofia museum and showing you Picasso’s Guernica, which we would stare at for a long time (it’s a large painting and requires viewing from several perspectives).  Afterward maybe we could get a lemonade in the park.  Of course, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll let your dad take you to a playground or sporting event, hit the museum on my own, and meet up with you afterward.  Either way is fine with me.

I gave official notice at my job yesterday.  As of September 30, when my maternity leave expires, I will be a stay-at-home mom.  That’s such a funny thing.  I never in my life expected to be such a thing, and something tells me I’ll want to pick up some part-time work once you’re bigger, but for now it seems just right.  I so enjoy our mornings together when it’s just you and I and the house is quiet.  There are yellow leaves falling off the trees in our front yard now, and we have the window cracked so I can hear the branches rustling in the breeze.  Later, we’ll walk over crunchy acorns and pick up your brother at school.  I’ll probably bring a blanket to make sure you stay toasty in the stroller.  My summer baby has become a fall baby.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Staying home with you does mean a bit of a hit to our budget, so we’re probably more likely to go to museums in Chicago than Madrid for the time being.  That’s okay.  They have some nice Picassos at the Art Institute too.

Of course no one can say for sure just yet, but so far people are telling me you look like me.  That’s a nice boost, since you’re awfully cute, and people have been saying for 3 years now that your brother looks just like your dad.  I call you my little meatball, because you are round and savory and squishy.  At your two-week doctor’s appointment, you weighed nine pounds, which is a full pound up from your birth weight and a 1.5 pounds higher than you were when we left the hospital.  I’m so proud of you for eating and growing so well.  I like to say you’re a nicely-marbled little T-bone.

Today we enjoyed one of our favorite family fall traditions:  a trip to Wilson’s Orchard to pick apples.  You slept through the whole thing, but I hope you get a big kick out of it in the future.  The rest of us do, and being there as a family of four had a nice symmetry to it.  Next year, maybe you can even have a taste of apple.

For the time being, you just get carted around.  Today, we hauled you to the apple orchard.  Yesterday, I hauled you to HyVee and Willowwind.  Last weekend, we hauled you to Marion for Grammy’s birthday party.  We’ve hauled you to a lot of different restaurants and parks and the library and everywhere else we’ve needed to go.

And throughout it all, you were such a good boy.

Love for the rest of my life,

Photo by Jun-Nicole Matsushita





Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:12 pm

Miles, Toby and I were hanging out.

M:  Dee bah doo mee bah dee doo.

A:  What language is that?  Is that baby?

M:  It’s French.

A:  Oh.

M:  How do you say French in baby?


Also embiggening

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:30 pm

I was tucking Miles into bed.

M:  My pillow needs fluffening.

The heart of the matter

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:57 am

Miles and I were talking about different feelings.

A:  What are some things that make you smile?  Does cookie dough ice cream make you smile?

M:  Yes.

A:  And going to the playground?

M:  Yes.  (pause)  And love.


Monthly Miles Memo #44

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:49 pm

Dear Miles,

I want to keep these Monthly Miles Memos being mostly about you, so I’m not going to dwell too much on your little brother.  He’ll get his own letter on or near the 21st.  But becoming a big brother is a pretty major thing, so I’ll discuss a few aspects of your new role that bear mentioning.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You are (mostly) so sweet and kind to Tobin.  You always worry about whether he’s okay, and you never want him to be in a room alone, even when he’s sleeping.  You reassure him when he cries, and you touch his hair and remark on how soft it is.  You were very interested in his umbilical cord stump, and when it fell off a few days ago, I brought you in to show you because I thought you’d want to see it.  You seemed concerned and asked why it happened.  Trying to reassure you, I explained that it was normal, and it was a sign that Tobin was growing up big and strong.  Much to my surprise, you burst into tears and said you wanted him to stay little.  Now you know how I feel every time I hold you in my arms and mentally gasp about how big you are.

You do seem enormous now.  I like that you still enjoy cuddles, because I love having you on my lap, but you take up almost the whole couch.  You’re still a skinny guy, but despite being one of the younger ones in your preschool class, you’re among the tallest.  You’ve had a lot of fun playing sports lately.  Your dad got you a soccer ball, and you’ve been playing with it a lot.  I don’t know enough about soccer to know for sure how you’re doing, but you can kick straight and stop the ball by stepping on it.  Sometimes you fall down, but not usually.

The weather has been great lately, so we’ve been spending a lot of time playing in the park.  Your dad is still home half-time (and I am really, really not looking forward to that arrangement ending), so we’ve been doing lots of family trips outside.  I can tell school has improved your social skills, because you’re doing a good job of talking to and playing with other kids at the playground.  You also get excited when we see your classmates out and about.  We recently had encounters and HyVee and El Bandito’s restaurant with a couple of kids from your class, and you were mostly thrilled and only a little shy.

You’ve been really imaginative lately.  You like to act out stories you know and make up new ones, using your various toys as props and characters.  Anything with a string attached is Rapunzel, including a rather pathetic-looking little plastic duck with a long cord and a purple top a friend brought back from turkey.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You never want to tell your dad or me what you did in school.  Thank goodness for the notes your teacher leaves on the white board outside the classroom, or I’d assume you sat in a corner and did nothing all day.  Of course, I often catch you singing songs you learned in school (sometimes in Spanish), and rumor has it you spend a lot of time with your new friend Tessa.  Your dad is usually the one who drops you off, and he tells me that Tessa often runs to greet you.  You don’t always welcome her hugs, but your teacher tells me you’ve become great buddies.

It was a summer of big transitions for you:  starting school, moving into a new bedroom, and getting a new brother.  I’m so proud of how well you did at all of them.  You’ve been having fun listening to Beatles songs (and singing along with your own variations, such as “Lucy in the sky with all the diamonds”).  You love sprinkling yourself and others with the garden hose.  You can put on your own shoes, and you like riding on the back of our new double stroller when Tobin and I pick you up from school.

Photo by Gary Clarke

My first baby, my special boy.  I love you so much.



Zuni Café Roast Chicken

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:47 am

I just realized I’ve never blogged this recipe, and I need to, because I make it often enough that it should be recorded here.

I got this from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn got it from the Zuni Café.  I imagine some modifications have happened at various junctures, but in any case, it’s an easy and low-fuss way to make a tasty, moist chicken (as long as you have some time to spare).  I excel at things wherein the hardest part is the planning ahead, so this is the perfect recipe for me.

Zuni Café Roast Chicken

One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2-pounds (this is important; chickens this small can be hard to find at the grocery store, but the size ensures ideal brining and roasting)
Assorted herbs (I’m using sage, rosemary, and lemon basil)
Plenty of salt (1-2 tablespoons)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Season the chicken: [1 to 3 days before serving; give a 3 1/4 to 3 1/2-pound chicken at least 2 days]

Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough — a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove some chopped herbs into each of the 4 pockets.  Stick any remaining herbs into the cavity.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Prepare your oven and pan: [Day of, total time is 45 minutes to 1 hour]

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle (I use a cast-iron pan). Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Rest the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate.  Wait 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.

Serve with veggies, salad, couscous, rice, potatoes, whatever.



Ever vigilant

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:28 am

Miles and I were hanging out in bed with Tobin, who was sleeping.  Mubby was downstairs, and Miles wanted to go check on her.

M: Will you come with me?

A:  Sure.

M:  Bring Tobin.

A:  Oh, I think it’s okay if he stays here and sleeps.

M:  But he doesn’t want to be by his self.

A:  Shall I ask Daddy to come be with him while we go downstairs?

M:  Yeah.  I will take care of him while you go get Daddy.

Powered by WordPress