February 2012


Everett has started sharing with us his opinion on many subjects. His comments are sometimes summarized with statements like “That’s silly!”, “That’s ridiculous!” or “That’s impossible!”. We note that we are not allowed to use certain words like “impossible” in his presence without being immediately informed “Hey, that’s my line!” Also, certain words like stupid are off limits for everyone, including strangers and movie characters, who are told “We don’t say stupid!”

On a related subject, Everett recently received some silly putty as a gift. We showed him some fun tricks you can do with it like sticking it to things or using it to pickup newsprint. As we have mentioned many times, he is a collector, and he began taking the silly putty everywhere with him. A few days later we discovered that he was leaving bits of silly putty behind as well, which is why on one recent afternoon Chris got some WD40, rubbing alcohol and dish soap in an attempt to remove silly putty that had been ground into several blankets, clothes and lamby. Lamby is one current member of the menagerie of “babies” that Everett carries around with him everywhere in the house. Other members are: the twin baby nightgowns (formerly Melissa’s); whale; ducky; piggy; an ornamental pillow from Gabby and Grandaddy’s house with a Buff over it (a Buff is sort of a tube shaped bandanna). Of these, piggy, ducky and lamby go with him to school most days and it’s always interesting to hear how their experience differs from his. Anyway, lamby has deep shag fur and was by far the most difficult silly putty removal. By the time Chris finished there was a small hole in lamby’s head, which Everett noticed immediately because, like his Mom, he is a “noticer”. So we got out a needle and thread, sewed lamby up, and now you can’t even tell he had silly putty or a soft tissue injury.

No comments


Since we moved to Wisconsin we’ve made quite a few new friends. When we are getting introduced the subject of who does what eventually comes up. I tell people I am a biomedical engineer, and often they don’t know exactly what that means in terms of a job, but it has the word engineer in it, and that can form the basis of an initial guess. Then I tell them that Melissa is getting her PhD in bioethics. This usually leads to a stumbling question like “What does a…um…who are…uh…what does a person with a degree in bioethics do?” When Melissa isn’t around to answer the question this is what I say:

1. Melissa’s PhD is on pleiotropy. This is a word I had never heard until I married her. Pleiotropy is when a single genetic test can have multiple possible outcomes, and some of these may be unforeseen at the present time. I’m still not 100% sure this explanation is correct but I’m going to try to get it right by the time she defends her dissertation.

2. I’m not exactly sure what bioethicists do, but I have spent enough time around them to know that they like conceptual frameworks a lot. An engineer might wake up and think about what he is going to build, take apart or blow up that day. I’m guessing that bioethicists wake up and think about their conceptual framework for the day, and wonder how their framework overlaps with those being used by their colleagues.

With this in mind, here is our current conceptual framework: Melissa’s defense date is rapidly approaching, so I’m sending out this request to our friends and family all over the world to put on your tin foil hats and send some positive dissertation energy in the direction of Wisconsin. But if you don’t get around to it for a few weeks then please redirect your antennas to Cleveland, since that is where her defense is taking place.

No comments


The last few months have we have been pretty strange with regard to weather. We’re not sure exactly what to call it. Imitation Winter? Winter lite? Florida? To be honest it’s been a big disappointment so far – it’s almost mid February and we haven’t yet had enough snow to build our annual igloo. Sledding has turned out to be rare, at best. However, we were able to get a few runs in this morning before the snow melted in the sun. Note that due to the thin layer of snow it wasn’t possible for Chris to ride so Everett went solo.

This kind of weather has been rough for the troupe of doomsday weather reporters we have in Milwaukee. The worst that has happened so far is a couple of freezing rain storms which were a direct result of temperatures that hover around freezing. A couple months ago one of these storms literally covered everything outside with ice during the morning commute. Melissa wiped out on the driveway and hit her knee. Chris wiped out on the Bakfiets (Everett was not in it at the time), though the cargo box took the brunt of the impact. One question we get often about the Bakfiets is: do you ride in the snow? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that snow isn’t really the problem. Rather, the major problem with winter bike commuting is ice. The snow in this area is a heavy, maritime snow that easily turns to ice with as little pressure as a single footprint. Sometimes it turns to ice under its own weight. In addition, the temperatures have been hovering around freezing for months now, resulting an icy, sloppy mess. Many cyclists now have studded tires to handle the ice but still have to be vigilant about cars and trucks that don’t. Note that we don’t take E in the Bakfiets if the weather looks at all questionable.

If the winter keeps muddling along like this then we might be forced to take drastic measures like visiting New Zealand during the boreal summer.

No comments


The rate at which Everett is cataloging information is now so rapid we think it would be impossible to measure. We observe this in several ways. One is how he fearlessly adds new words and phrases to his vocabulary. Lately he has been hearing things in movies and at school and trying them out in everyday conversation:

“I told you kids, stay out of my butt!” He started saying this last week to the other kids when he arrived at preschool in the morning. It took us a day or two but we figured out that it’s a quote from Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 3.

“I’m stressed out at school.” He started saying this at dinner when we asked him how his day went. So far he has not been able to identify what he is stressed out about.

“There are funny kids at school but I am by far the funniest.” This was a self-observation at another dinner conversation. On a related subject, his teacher told us that he sometimes “holds court” at preschool. While the other children are seated he stands up and talks for 15 minutes at a time on a wide range of subjects.


Another way he is cataloging information is by figuring out how things in the world behave and fit together:

“Daddy, we don’t usually sit on tables”, when Chris was sitting on the coffee table in the living room.

“This is from the Sound of Music”, during a Barbara Streisand rendition of A Few of My Favorite Things. We have no idea how he knows this.

“Ms. Erin, we don’t give wine to children.” Ms. Erin at preschool asked one of the girls if she wanted cheese with her whine, and was immediately admonished by Everett.


Lastly, Everett has demonstrated a remarkable memory:

A couple weeks ago Everett gave Dad four crayons to hold onto. Chris put them in the pocket of his jacket and that night threw them in the crayon bin at home. Several days later Everett asked for the crayons back, so Chris quickly grabbed four from the bin, put them in his pocket and them handed them to Everett. Everett glanced at them and said “Dad, those aren’t the right crayons.” Seriously?!?

In the last few days he has brought up story lines from books that we checked out of the library over a year ago including the book about Sam going to bed and the book about birthday for cow where he wants a turnip instead of a cake. Sorry but the titles escape me right now. There are many other examples we plan to add to this list. Unfortunately, our memory is not as good as Everett’s so it’s going to take us a while to recall them…

No comments
Powered by WordPress
Natural World RapidWeaver theme by ThemeFlood