September 2009

Baby Steps

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In this blog entry, rather than blathering on about dairy laws, neuroscience problems or Wisconsin oddities I will just share a few recent photos and movies clips of Everett. We know why you’re here. What follows is a pretty random assortment…

Everett’s attitude toward walking has been similar to crawling: leisurely. We have known since April that he can stand on his own, and lately he has been interested in walking while he holds our hands, but it has only been in the last week that he really took an interest in walking solo without immediately reverting to crawling (which he has become amazingly fast at). This video shows a little of each.

In the first half of this you may notice that E is wearing some kind of nouveau dance onesie, and those of you who have little ones may lament the fact that all sorts of fabrics and colors are available for little girls’ clothing but the choices for young boys seem limited to Darth Vader meets NASCAR. This outfit and many others that we like as well are from Sweden.

In the photo at top E is performing Saturday Night Fever during Oktoberfest at the Bavarian Inn. Moments later he does his Wallace and Gromit imitation (for those of you who have not memorized every W&G scene we have included a reminder):

Too many goldfish…

E makes a call on his cordless wood chip:

Posing for next year’s Harvest Fest poster:

Digging in the dirt with Nora at the Harley Davidson Museum:

Two hands are no longer necessary for drinking milk:

Lastly, Wisconsin is well-known for agriculture and also has some great bicycling. What do you get when you put them together? The bike-tractor pull! I think Everett could be a strong contender at this in a year or two, and in the meantime we will keep feeding him cheese. Stay tuned…

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Today we returned to the Wisconsin State Fair Park for the annual Harvest Fair. Quite a crowd turned out for it. Once again we were introduced to some more Wisconsin traditions such as:
1. The pumpkin growers competition, during which we saw a piece entitled “Ginormous Pumpkin on a Dorm Mattress” (please ignore the police tape in the background).

2. Pumpkin bowling. In case I haven’t mentioned, bowling is BIG in Wisconsin, probably because of the long winters. And I know I’ve talked about how important agriculture is. So putting them together seems like a natural next step.

3. Scarecrow daycare. Yes, that’s correct. One of the events at the festival was to make your own scarecrow. Of course, these are life size and carrying them around the festival for hours may be inconvenient, which is why scarecrow daycare was invented. You can drop off your scarecrow, sign him (or her) up for a few activities and then pick him up when you are ready to head home.

Everett isn’t quite ready to make a scarecrow but he had fun playing in the straw.

4. Vintage rock bands. Ever wonder what happened to rock bands from the ‘70s and ‘80s? They didn’t fade away, they came to Wisconsin. Molly Hatchet is playing a free concert tonight.

5. Trains. Everett is pretty excited about them. There are some active tracks near our house that carry several trains a day, which gives E a chance to demonstrate two things. First, how much more sensitive his hearing is than ours. Second, the fact that trains preempt almost any other activity (except eating). He is not quite old enough for the children’s train that comes to the local events like Tosafest and the Harvest Fair:

At this point the astute reader will likely notice two things: first, like most trains that pass through our neighborhood, this one is Canadian (Canada is the next state, I mean country, over to the north). Second, is the conductor a ringer for Uncle Boy or what? And Uncle Boy is certainly the kind of guy who would build such a thing if for no other reason than to transport his grandchildren. Getting back to E, fortunately he is old enough to ride the train at the zoo.

In other news, we continue to receive vegetables from our CSA farm that are unfamiliar and a little difficult to identify. A couple weeks ago we received brusselini. This might have been some kind of joke because not even The Google lists this as a food. Melissa made a valiant attempt at serving it by roasting the leaves. We enjoyed gnawing on them for a while but it’s not something we are likely to try again. Last week we received a head of Romanesco, which look sort of like a land coral or a fractal vegetable:

We haven’t tried it yet but I’ll be sure to follow up once we do. In the mean time we are building a patio in the back yard which we hope to have finished before the end of the harvest season this year.

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There is a giant oak tree in our neighbor’s front yard, and over the last couple weeks it has started raining acorns on our house.  This has had several consequences, some expected and some unexpected.  First, the acorns have caused a frenzy of activity among the local squirrels and chipmunks as they industriously prepare for winter.  This comes at a time when Everett is going through an explosion in language and he noticed the commotion right away.  “Quirrel” and “chip” have become two of his favorite words – they are the first things he says when he wakes up in the morning.  Once downstairs, he stands at the doors and windows calling for them:

Fortunately he never seems to have to wait very long before they appear.  Gramma came to visit us for two weeks and was able to see this new behavior first hand.  During this time Everett got LOTS of attention and play time.
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It was fantastic for everyone, though since she left he has been looking for her as well.  Also, she shared with us a piece of the collective wisdom of grandparents that we initially found unbelievable but have since put to good use: it turns out that the bakery in most grocery stores keeps free cookies on hand for children, and all you have to do is walk up and ask for them.  Who knew?

The acorns are also one of the first signs that summer is ending.  This has been the most pleasant summer I have ever experienced, and I think Melissa feels similarly, but it has clearly been unusual for Wisconsin.  The two crabapple trees in our front yard never bloomed or never produced any fruit; the produce from our shares in a local farm arrived two weeks late, and most tomato varieties never arrived at all.
Lastly, the acorns signal the coming of fall, which means two things for us: Tosafest and winter preparations.  Tosafest is an annual celebration in the village of Wauwatosa where they close the roads and have lots of food and artists and musicians (and beer, of course).  During the celebration we ran into almost everyone we know in the state of Wisconsin.  For some time now Everett has been getting antsy in the stroller but couldn’t walk very far once on the ground.  At Tosafest he put shoes on and walked further than he ever has before.

As far as winter preparations go, I have assembled a long list of house repairs since we moved in a little over a year ago.  Our house is 80 years old and last winter we experienced a lot of cold-related problems: the attic is uninsulated and unvented, so the heat that escapes from the second floor causes the snow to melt which in turn causes huge ice dams which causes water to enter the roof and drip through the ceilings.  The bottom edge of the siding was never sealed to the foundation, which allows so much cold air to come in that our bathroom pipes froze last winter.  I could go on but you get the idea.  I have been making progress on these projects over the summer but not enough, and how I am in a dash to get everything done before winter.  Fortunately, collection of firewood has been going well and we are looking forward to cozy nights during the long winter.  Thanks to the squirrels and chipmunks we have a huge supply of acorn hulls for kindling.

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