Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:15 pm

My sweet Miles, on his very first day of preschool and his very last (today).  Oh, how he’s grown, in so many ways.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:56 am

Denny was leaning over, helping Tobin with something.  Tobin pointed up at the chest area of his shirt, which was poofed out due to gravity.

T:  You have milky in there!


A keen observer

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:03 pm

I was trying to change Tobin’s diaper, and he was being very uncooperative, wiggling and squirming, rolling around, and generally making it impossible for me.  Finally I spoke sternly to him.

A:  Tobin, you must lie still so I can change your diaper.

T:  You frustrated.

Mistaken identity

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:15 am

It’s Miles’s last week of preschool, and I was getting sentimental.  I put on a kind of silly, falsetto, half-Southern voice.

A:  Mah bay-beh!  I can’t believe you’re almost done with preschool!  Mah bay-beh!

M:  You’re talking like Russian people.


The Tobin Times #21

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:11 pm

My squishy Tobin,

I started writing this just now, and I entitled it “The Tobin Times #22.”  Then I looked back at last months, and I realize I did the math wrong:  you’re only 21 months old now.  That’s good news.  It’s like I get a bonus month with you.  It won’t be long before I have to do some serious calculations to figure out your age in months, but I thought for the time being I could still keep a tally in my head.

Photo by Denny Crall

I guess that goes to show how cluttered my head is.  Things have been busy lately.  We’re just wrapping up our mini-vacation, which involved a trip to Lincoln for Uncle Tyler’s wedding (technically this occurred after your 21-month birthday, but it’s fresh in my mind now, so I’m going to write about it for this month).  We had such a good time.  You were a very good boy in the car, only getting a little antsy a few times.  You love Skittergramps’s blue van, so it was a treat for you to have some extra rides in it.  We went to the Lincoln Children’s Museum, which was so much fun.  You really liked the big red truck, the water table, and the stage.

When you played on the stage, you put on a fierce face and said, “I bad guy.”  I thought it was so cool how you’re learning to pretend, to separate fantasy from reality.  You understood that a stage is a place to act like someone else, and you showed us just whom you wanted to be.

I knew it was just pretending, because you’re really not a bad guy at all.  You have stinker tendencies sometimes:  today you threw a ball right in your brother’s face.  But you’re getting better at acting contrite when we scold you.  You say you’re sorry and have the decency to act sad about it, rather than laughing like you used to.  Well, you still sometimes laugh when you throw food on the floor.  I guess I should just be glad that you seem to realize hurting others has negative consequences.  We’ll keep working on the food-throwing.

Another fun Lincoln adventure was a trip to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.  It’s a small zoo, but a fun and nice one.  You really liked riding a pony, seeing and petting the baby goats, and getting a look at some more exotic creatures like peacocks and tamarins.

The biggest highlight of the trip, of course, was spending time with Uncle Tyler and your new Aunt Oxana.  We got to meet Oxana’s family from Russia, and they thought you and your brother were very well behaved, though they did comment on your high energy levels.  You were so good during the wedding.  You didn’t cry or cause much distraction during the ceremony, and you tore up the dance floor with your brother and cousins during the reception.  You got to stay up way past your bedtime on more than one of those nights in Lincoln, but you adapted well and were generally a great kid to have around.  You can say Oxana, though I’m not sure you ever said it directly to her.  You have plenty of years left to do that.

Oxana and Tyler and building a new house, which is still under construction.  We stopped by the site, and it’s going to be a lovely house,  it wasn’t a very safe place for you to roam free.  There were building materials lying around and wet joint compound on the walls and floors.  You got wiggly while we were taking the tour, so finally I found as safe a place as I could see and let you down for a bit.  You immediately found a pile of lumber scraps and build a block tower.

You continue to say funny and interesting things.  Your favorite word right now is enormous, which is pretty cute to hear come out of your little bald baby-looking head.  You really liked the enormous windmills we saw on our drive through western Iowa and Nebraska, and you talked about them a lot.  You also recently used the word yesterday in the correct context.  We were outside on a Sunday, and you said, “We dig in garden yesterday,” and in fact we had.  I think it’s pretty cool that you’re gaining a conception of relative time.  That’s hard to grasp and hard to explain.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You love attention from big kids, such as your brother, his schoolmates, and your cousins.  At the wedding, some cousins were kind of manhandling you, but you loved it.  The downside is that your brother learned some bad habits, like picking you up.  The even downer downside is that you laugh when he does it, which isn’t much disincentive.  You guys still get along quite well.  Your only squabbles are about sharing toys, pretty much.  You want to do everything he does, including ride on the big-kid part of the double stroller.  That doesn’t always work out so well.  But you are always ready to go get him when his school day is done, and he often greets you with a big hug.  I think you’ll miss him when he starts going to school until 3:00.

We don’t have too much planned for the rest of the summer—maybe a long weekend in Chicago, but mostly just hanging around, going to the library and the Natural History museum, eating flavor ices and frozen yogurt, playing in the garden and at the playground.  I’m sure you’ll have fun in the sprinkler and at the pool.  Enjoy the warm days ahead, little Tobin.  I’m excited to spend them with you.




Water over the bridge

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:55 am

Miles, Tobin and I are planning a trip to the doughnut shop.

A:  Tobin wants a doughnut with yellow sprinkles.  What kind do you want, Miles?

M:  Speaking of yellow, when I went to the bathroom, there was so much pee I had to flush!


The Crying Game

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:53 pm

Both the boys were crying for no good reason at the same time, which is my Kryptonite.  I was feeling very stressed out by the situation.

A:  At least one of you is going to have to stop crying.

M:  Tobin can.  I did yesterday.


BLT salad

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:36 am

My friend Mandy inspired the BLT salads we had for dinner last night.

It was a nice, (relatively) light main dish salad that will be even better when we have garden tomatoes.  It was made of salad greens, halved grape tomatoes (independently seasoned with s&p), thinly-sliced red onion, roughly-chopped hot bacon, boiled eggs, homemade croutons, and sunflower seeds.

I think I’m going to make more entree salads this summer.  These croutons have been a revelation.  They’re so easy and an order of magnitude better than boxed croutons.


Monthly Miles Memo #64

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:39 pm

My dear Miles,

Your feet are huge.  We need to get you a new sock wardrobe, because the size 4/5 socks that have fit for a long time due to their stretchiness are getting dangerously tight.  I look at those big-kid feet and I remember your tiny baby toes.  Jellybean toes, I called them, because each one was just a tiny little pellet I wanted to nibble.

March 2008 (age 2 months)

Now, most afternoons, I look down at your feet and see that you’re only wearing one sock.  You say that your socks rub your feet uncomfortably.  That’s reasonable.  The strange part is that it’s only ever one foot.  It makes it hard to match up socks when I’m folding laundry, because rarely do they go into the same hamper at the same time.

You’re finishing up your last weeks as a preschooler now.  That’s tough to fathom.  I’m feeling much less overwrought about kindergarten than I did about preschool, probably because you don’t seem nervous about it at all.  You did great at kindergarten round-up.  A couple of your school friends and some neighborhood friends will be at the same school as you.  It will be tough to leave Willowwind, because you had a great experience there, but I know it’s prepared you well for your future.  You’ll take some summer school classes at Willowwind, but those are separate from the preschool program.  You’re ready to move up to the big time.

You’re really excited about Uncle Tyler’s upcoming wedding.  Dancing at weddings is pretty much your favorite thing ever, and you’re psyched about the new clothes you got for the occasion.  We’ll swim in the hotel pool, maybe go to the zoo and the children’s museum, and then spend some time back in Ames with Mubby and Skittergramps.  It’ll be a nice mini-vacation, since we may not do anything else this summer.

Gardening has been one of your preferred hobbies lately.  You helped me plant some carrot seeds (which still haven’t sprouted) and you did some indoor planting of flower seeds at school and a kit Mubby got you.

You eat a lot of Wheat Thins.  You drink a lot of lemonade.

You still need a firm routine.  Last night it was getting pretty late, and you and your dad and Tobin were hanging out in bed reading stories.  Your dad noticed the time and said that the stories he was reading you counted as your bedtime stories.  You burst into tears because Mommy always reads you stories.  And Daddy wasn’t reading the right bedtime stories (currently Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, and 101 Dalmatians).

Those are long stories, and you tend to interrupt a lot.  But we didn’t fight you on that one, because, really, am I ever going to look back and think, “I’m sure glad I skipped reading those stories to Miles so he’d go to bed fifteen minutes earlier”?  You got all your stories, in the right order, read by Mommy.  I like our rituals too.

We had our big choir concert.  I was so proud of you—how brave and confident and attentive you were.  You’ve always been attentive.  At rehearsals, when the other kids were running around being squirrelly, you always sat quietly, playing with my phone until it was the kids’ turn to sing, and then you were immediately focused and ready to sing.  I worried a little that you weren’t making friends, but by the end, you’d gotten to know quite a few of the other kids.  Also, by the end, you no longer needed to be in constant physical contact with me.  During the rehearsal period, I sometimes had to stand in the soprano section (gasp) because you were too shy to stand with the kids unless I was right there with you.  But you got over that and were just fine joining the kids onstage for the kids-only numbers in our concert.  You even added some choreography.

Photo by Gary Clarke

Gabe, one of the big kids, was your total role model.  He’s a really sweet guy, and he was so kind and friendly to you.  He’s going to be a fifth grader at your elementary school, so I’m glad you’ll have an older buddy around the halls.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You have a whole repertoire of songs you like to sing, and they’ve fully infiltrated Tobin’s brain, too.  We play them in the car, all of us singing along, and I’m so glad we got to share our choir experience.  You have a good musical ear, I think.  You like to study the sheet music.  You’re taking a drum class this summer, and I hope there’s a little music theory in there.

Your reading is really taking off too.  You’ve had a good basic handle of reading for a long time, but you have a perfectionist streak that makes you reluctant to try when you’re not sure (this is also what led us to taking you to an optometrist because of how you failed the eye chart test at the doctor’s office—it turns out you could see it, but you didn’t want to say because you might be wrong).  But you and your dad have been working with the letter blocks a lot, and last night you read the dedication in your Disney storybook with almost no help.

Soon you’re going to be reading over my shoulder, and I’m not going to be able to skip chunks of the stories anymore.  Maybe you will have moved on to something a little more compelling by then.  You’re probably still too young for Harry Potter, but maybe I can find a chapter book for us to read together at night.  I’m glad you’re not ready to tuck yourself in yet.

You got a haircut last weekend, and your dad told me he overheard you telling the stylist, “Don’t cut off too much.  My mom likes my curls.”  Yes, I do, my sweet boy.  I love your curls, and I love your smile, and I love your pointy elbows that always seem to jab into my muscles, and I love your enormous feet.

Photo by Denny Crall

I will still need you, I will still feed you, when you’re sixty-four (months).




Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:57 pm

This morning, Tobin and I had been playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” and of course we left a mess of marbles on the floor.  A while later, I was in the bathroom getting readyTobin came in and proudly showed me a zip-lock bag full of the marbles.

T:  All by myself!


Na na na na na na na na

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:14 pm

We’re working on Miles doing his own bathroom clean-up.  Today, after a bathroom visit, I got him started and then handed him a wipe to finish up the job.  He wedged it in, let go, then looked back over his shoulder.

M:  It’s a butt-cape!

My week in food

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:04 pm

I’ve been trying some new things this week.

Monday:  Fajita quesadillas, a rip-off of something I like at a local restaurant.  I sauteed up some shrimp (for me) and chicken (for DC) in some latin rub seasoning, as well as a red bell pepper and an enormous onion, also with some of the latin seasoning.  I stuck the aforementioned into big tortillas with Mexican blend cheese (I think it was Monterrey Jack, asadero, and queso quesadilla), folded, and toasted them up.  I served them with salsa and sour cream.  Denny probably wanted guacamole, but his dream came false.

Tuesday:  Chicken Caesar salads, the chicken seasoned with cajun seasoning.  The salad was pretty pedestrian except for the croutons.  I  cubed up some “Italian peasant batard” (so Hy-Vee calls it) with butter, garlic powder, and salt, and crisped them up in the oven.  I thought I made way too much, yet somehow they all disappeared.

Wednesday:  Ribeye steaks with an exciting new broccoli treatment.  I was thinking about my old-favorite oven-roasted broccoli, but it’s warm today and I didn’t want to heat the oven up to 425F.  I found this pan-roasted broccoli, and it was really good, maybe even better.  I did change it a little–I couldn’t deal with that much butter, so I used about half the recommended amount plus a little glug of olive oil

The rest of the week is TBD.  I imagine there will be a scrounge night and a going-out night in there somewhere.

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