November 2010

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  We feel truly blessed.  Hope you and yours have a wonderful, fattening holiday!


Laurel, Tim & Miles


G’day mates!  We’re off to Western Australia for a few weeks, so we will be decidedly absent from this blog for a little while.  We’re trading our 7th floor apartment in the tropics for a Hiace campervan and holiday park kitchens in the (frigid, to us) springtime downunder.  Here’s what we packed; I am considering leaving the thing on the right side at home – looks like trouble!:

We could have gotten away with a lot less stuff had Miles been cosleeping, exclusively breastfed, wearing tiny onesies, happy to cruise around town and nap in a simple sling.  In other words, had we made this trip 7 months ago when he was still a newborn. (Take note all those of you with tiny ones/expecting)  But that would have brought on a whole new set of worries 🙂

Check FB and Twitter for reports from the outback!

And anyone else that might be interested in 3 minutes of Miles’ eating videos.  They are pretty darn cute.

Ten months old, and Miles is one happy dude. Lots of smiles, love, clicks and kisses.  We are so happy to have this little man in our lives.

Updates from this month:

  • Fine Motor Skills. This month was all about the point, push and pinch.  He is able to pick up all kinds of food to feed himself, plus use the sippy cup independently.  So, if he doesn’t need us to feed him any more, I guess we are just around  to clean up.
  • Gross Motor. No major developments (like walking) yet, but Miles has much more confidence on his feet, pushing around an office chair or the ottoman as a “walker”, letting go occasionally to stand for 5-10 seconds, executing the power squat to get up to standing, and walking along holding our hands to kick the soccerball 2 feet then go after it again.  He has also learned to play catch with daddy, favoring the kneeling position and the two armed basket catch.
  • Chaos to Order. I remember learning in 10th grade chemistry that the natural world order was chaos.  That has certainly been Miles’ MO up to this point.  We build a tower,  he knocks it down.  We put the toys in a box, he dumps them out.  I clean the kitchen, then all the pans are on the floor again.  This month I saw a little glimmer that this is changing.  A block or two goes back into the box.  He tries to put the ring back on the stacking toy.  Maybe one day he will come into the kitchen and clean it up!  Ha!
  • The food floodgates open. I had been super careful up to this point about what went in Miles’ mouth.  One new fruit or veg every 3-4 days to watch for allergies.  Well, now in preparation for our Australia trip, I thought it would be useful if Miles could be a little more flexible in what he eats.  This month he got chicken, lamb, wheat (bread), beans (hummous!), mushrooms, any veg, any fruit, and many things in the form of feed-yourself.  We are still shying away from eggs, since I have a slight allergy, but I think they will be next.  His favorites remain banana, fresh coconut and sweet potato, and they have been super useful in getting the other, not as temptingly sweet, things down.
  • Sleep.  Someone described Miles as a good sleeper the other day.  If you had told me 4 months ago that anyone would use those words to describe my son, I would have fainted.  But its true.  He is consistent on naps (3-4 hours total a day) and consistently sleeps through the night (7pm-5ish am)  We had a bout of early wakeups (4am is not OK) that were remedied by night weaning.  Speaking of, we are still nursing 4x/day, once in the morning and before sleep, but he stopped nursing to sleep.
  • Other.  Still just 2 chompers…probably at 10% success rate for the EC…his bye bye is the sweetest ever, and I think we are getting some “more” signs during meals.  New favorite is “ceiling fan” (pointing up, arm circling)…clings to momma like seran wrap…loves to take long walks in the stroller…story time is a wonderful time for him & dad, he loves to turn the pages and especially likes the very hungry caterpiller…not too much mama or dada out of his mouth recently, but lots of “ba! ga!” and other adorable sounds, including “click!” which I think he picked up because all old people click at him here.  In Miles’ language it means “I’m so happy to see you and be communicating with you.”  Which is exactly how I feel too.

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving (Malaysia-time, observed) and I have already been into the leftovers and had a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream for breakfast.  We had a great time yesterday celebrating turkey day with our friends and Tim’s coworkers.

Tim started the day super early, getting up at 12:30am for the marathon.  Miles and I were up at 4am with the monsoon that howled through our open windows.  I got turkey #2 into the oven at 6am, attended a one yr old birthday party at 10, cleaned & cooked until 3 when people started to show up.  The power went out for half of our house (an annoying development in our apartment, thank goodness not the part cooking the food) for most of the party, but the evening commenced with a daddy-friend reading stories to the seven children under 5 who were getting ready for bed.  Our family was in bed by 8:30, and we slept like the dead for 9 hours.  What a day!

The turkey was the big hit.  I used the method described here, and had a bit of a scare when the first bird finished in 1.5 hours TOTAL.  Guess I didn’t know my oven as well as I thought I did.  I cranked it down for the second bird, but it was done in 2 hours.  Both were moist and flavorful, and I know we gave some Penangers a different idea of what Turkey is all about.  The stuffing and sweet potatoes also went over splendidly, especially with those of the younger set, and our neighbor brought over a brussels sprouts salad which rounded out the meal perfectly, adding just the right amount of crunch and acidity to punctuate the heaviness of the turkey/stuffing/gravy bites.  Finish it off with pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Brussels Sprouts Salad (from Burcu)

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts (~30), shaved thinly
  • 3 sticks spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup chopped & toasted walnuts
  • 2 oz grated aged cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup dried mulberries (you can use dried cranberries)
  • Juice from one lemon and one lime
  • 6 Tbsp of olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Shake remaining ingredients in a jar to make dressing.
  3. Toss dressing with salad.  Serve alongside Thanksgiving dinner to perk things up.

Here’s a post from Tim:

Laurel has asked me to be the very first guest contributor to her blog with my marathon race report.  I’m sorry I can’t be the author of better news, but here goes.

2am start gun under the typical Penang oppressive humidity.  As I suspected, there were no mileage markers along the route, but fortunately I’d memorized my target splits for the 3 turn-around points along the course so I knew I was relatively on-target through the first 18K.  I also knew (but refused to admit) early on that I was in trouble due to the concerning return of left achilles tendon pain only 20 minutes in.

On the miles in between the very lonely trip across the bridge and back to the island, a breeze whipped up and a “cool” headwind quickly became a full-on Malaysian monsoon.  Torrential downpour ensues, resulting in running ankle-deep through the flooded streets for much of the rest of race.  Mental focus completely shot to hell.  The wheels really came off around the 30K point when every other muscle in my legs threatened to cramp from compensating all morning for the previously mentioned achilles soreness.  Every runner knows this lesson; compensating for an injury is a sure fire way to develop another, usually more serious one.

The mental transformation from race mode to survival mode complete, I was able to keep it together enough to finish up without stopping or walking and actually got a bit of a second wind at the end when the roads dried back up and straight-leg shuffle “sprinted” across finish line.  3:45:57. 66th place out of 1253.

Despite the disappointing time, I feel very fortunate to have gotten the chance to run this unique race in our adopted home town.  An experience I will remember, but probably never repeat.  Finally, I would like to thank my lovely wife for enduring my training schedule, including the occasional 5am alarm from me, not Miles crying.

You already have the end of the meal planned out.  You can do this one blind folded.  It is pumpkin and it sits inside a little flour & butter bowl and you put fluffy white whipped on top.  But, if you want to try something a little different, completely show stopping, and totally delicious, consider this: a gingersnap crumb crust topped with a subtly spiced creamy tower of orange goodness.  Compared to other cheesecakes, it can even be considered healthy, as two blocks of cream cheese are replaced with a vegetable (pumpkin)!

If, like me, you have already stockpiled 6 of the golden oldie with this delicious crust for the big day, consider this treat for, say, a Thursday morning meeting with your esteemed colleagues.  Or some other special occasion.  Like with leftover turkey after shopping on Friday.  I won’t even tell if you top it with a bit of leftover fluffy white.

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake (I successfully broke the cardinal rule of baking and roughly doubled this recipe)

  • 9 oz Ginger Snap cookies
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 30 oz (2 15-ounce cans) canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  1. Line the bottom of a 10″ springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse gingersnaps in the food processor until sandy fine.  Empty into a bowl and add brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.  Mix until you have slightly wet sand.  Press into the bottom of the springform pan and 1″ up the sides.  Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  3. Pulse sugar and ginger in the bowl of the food processor (I won’t tell if you didn’t clean it) until no large chunks of ginger remain.  Add the softened cream cheese and run the processor until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides a few times.  Taste this, and tell me it wouldn’t be delicious on a sesame bagel.  Or some french toast.
  4. In separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk, eggs, flour, nutmeg and salt.  Pulse this into the ginger cream cheese until just mixed, scraping the sides.
  5. Pour 1 cup of this mixture back into the measuring cup, and put the rest into a large mixing bowl.  Add the pumpkin and pie spice into the large bowl, and mix until it is an even orange color.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350.  Remove the crust from the fridge and bake for 5-6 minutes, until just set.  Place a loaf pan with 2″ of water in it in the bottom rack of the oven (this is supposed to prevent cracking, but mine ended up looking like the san andreas)
  7. Pour the orange onto the warm crust, smoothing if necessary to make a flat surface.  As decoratively as possible, pour the white cream cheese mixture on top and swirl it in with a spoon.
  8. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until center is just set and not wobbly any more.  Cool completely on a rack to room temperature.  Cover with foil and refrigerate at least one day.
  9. When you are ready to serve, slide a small knife around the springform ring and release the lock.  Slice and serve.

Note: I also made a couple little muffin cup sized cheesecakes for my husband who I knew would not be able to stand the thought of a cheesecake just sitting there, chilling, for two whole days!  Follow the same as above, but only bake for 15-20 minutes.  This seriously helps with portion control, and I can imagine these little babies freezing particularly well for a cheesecake-anytime snack.

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