January 2012


Wisconsinites have their own accent that seems distinct from other parts of the midwest. The accent in our neighboring state of Minnesoooota is probably well known because of Garrison Keillor. There haven’t been a lot of major celebrities or pop culture icons coming out of Wisconsin to promote the accent, though that changed recently when we became superbowl champions and when Miss Wisconsin was crowned Miss America (though Chris has no idea if any of these people have accents or not). Also, our governor has made national headlines for acting tyrannical and mildly deranged, but even on his worst days he just doesn’t seem as whackadoo as Jesse Ventura, so again we defer to the Gopher State.

We were unaware of the accent until we moved here, partly because it doesn’t seem well known and partly because we had never been to Milwaukee before Chris interviewed at MCW. So far there is no sign of it in Everett’s speech. However, he has shown a great affinity for bags, which are a good example of a pronunciation that seems peculiar to Wisconsin: groceries and other items are carried in a “bayg”. To pronounce this properly you need to expand your mouth from side to side, almost in a smiling motion. In a previous blog post we wrote about how Everett likes to gather treasures. Lately he has been putting them into baygs that he carries around for different purposes.

The red insulated bag is one he fills with plastic food, puts over his shoulder the same way Chris carries his computer bag, and says “I’m going to work”. The blue bag with yellow and red stars is for snacks and money, including a special portfolio of flattened pennies he has acquired from zoos and museums. The tie dye bag is actually a pillowcase he made at daycare one day recently and we aren’t really sure what is inside it because he keeps it closed with rubber bands and almost never opens it. Judging from how it feels we think it contains soft items like pillows and clothing along with harder items like tools, pens and books. It doesn’t seem have any unusual smells to indicate that perishable food is inside, which is great because he currently keeps it in bed.

Two other bags that are in common use are both white, heavy canvas totes with Everett’s name embroidered into the side. One of them is for preschool. Each morning we pack it with clothing, ducky and “made blanket” (Everett’s name for the blanket that Melissa knitted for him before he was born). And each evening we unpack it to find pieces of artwork from school that day, one example of which is an Abe Lincoln tophat and beard:

The other bag contains swimsuits and towels for Everett and Chris to take to swim lessons on Wednesday evenings. We took swim lessons about a year ago and signed up for them again starting this January. It is noteworthy that on the first night of swim lessons a few weeks ago Melissa lovingly packed all of our swim gear ahead of time into a large shiny pink bag. She claims that it isn’t pink or shiny, but Chris still decided it would not be appropriate for the mens locker room at the YMCA, so we switched to the comparatively boring canvas bag instead.

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It appears that one part of Everett’s identity is that he fixes things. He has been interested in tools for some time, mainly Dad’s but sometimes he will use his own, and he is keenly interested when Dad is performing repairs. One day recently at preschool a girl’s headband broke and he said “GIve it to me. I’ll take it home, fix it and bring it back in the morning.” His teacher seemed skeptical but this was something he took seriously. On the way home that night Everett told Dad not to tell Mom about the headband. And when we got home he didn’t ask Dad’s help to fix it. He sat down with Mom at his table, glued it back together and returned it the next morning. For this he received a Good Deed Alert at school:

A couple days after this we found a dead squirrel in our yard. Based on the position we think it fell out of our neighbor’s giant oak tree. When we showed the squirrel to Everett he immediately asked “Can we fix him?”. After we explained no he asked “Can we see his insides?”, a question that likely stems from his previous experience with a decomposed squirrel body. Again we said no but explained that we were going to bury him in the backyard. We dug a hole and then picked up the squirrel to move him, to which Everett commented “If I was a squirrel and I got dead I would want to take a ride on a shovel.”

He hasn’t performed any more repairs in the last couple days. However, there are many times where we can watch him and sense the gears turning in his head as he processes new experiences. We feel confident that questions about what can and cannot be fixed are going to come up again soon.

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Everett has started to take a great interest in forts. For some time now he has gone outside to sit in a nook in the tree next to the garage. That was the original “fort”. Since then we have moved on to forts that require more construction and less imaginative power to see, although we note that forts of any kind seem to encourage lots of imagination as in one of the books he currently likes called King Jack and the Dragon. Anyway, we recently built a fort from scrap lumber in the backyard, and have been building forts in the house made of Straws and Connectors (a Christmas gift), as well as pillows and blankets:

He wants to sleep inside his pillow forts, which causes some consternation for his parents who want to make sure he can still breath. So we told him that if he wants to be in a fort while sleeping it has to be the igloo tent, and when he asked for an explanation (apparently our parental desires don’t carry much weight without reasoning that is deemed acceptable to a three year old) we told him that we are worried that he won’t be able to breath. Now the pillow forts are called “no breathing hole” forts. He tells us that he wants a fort to protect his babies (ducky, lamb and baby nightgown) and so that no one can see him while he is sleeping. Of course, he knows that he has a lot a freedom during the night. When he is doing something he isn’t supposed to do during the day he will say to us “Look the other way for a long time.” But at night he can rearrange his room and we may not find out for quite a while, so all we can do is limit the amount of fort construction materials in his room and keep trying to teach him good sense.

We’re not sure if forts are a factor, but recently it has become somewhat difficult to get Everett to sleep. The fact that it is also difficult to get him to eat  suggests that something else is going on. We think he is avoiding these activities because they reduce the time available for talking, which is something he expends considerable energy on. A few nights ago Everett got up at 4:30am and didn’t go back to sleep (and neither did anyone else). He took a normal length nap and went to bed late that night, so apparently those hours of sleep are lost forever. With regard to eating, we have been encouraging him to try a variety of foods including black eyed peas on New Year’s Day:

and have explained to him the need to eat to get big and strong. He likes this idea and will show us his muscles

but any parent knows it is quite difficult to get a child to eat if they don’t want to. Fortunately the cut on his forehead is healing, so that’s a good sign, and his pediatrician isn’t concerned about his weight or size. Therefore his diet is currently in a category titled “Things that parents fret over but seemingly no one else is worried about”. Conversations we have had with friends and neighbors suggest that this list can get rather lengthy.


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As children Melissa and Chris both used to watch a cartoon series on TV called Schoolhouse Rock. To our knowledge these are no longer broadcast but fortunately we were able to get the entire collection on DVD. Our favorites are all in the Grammar Rock collection: Conjunction Junction, Unpack Your Adjectives and A Noun Is A Person Place or Thing. Everett’s favorite is Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla.Rufus, along with his sister Rafaella Gabriela Sarsaparilla and their friend Albert Andreas Armadillo (no relation to the Sarsaparillas), teaches viewers about pronouns:

This is how the word sarsaparilla entered Everett’s vocabulary. Apparently he has not yet realized the primary message of the song: pronouns allow you avoid repeating lengthy nouns. Or maybe sarsaparilla is just fun to say over and over?

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