April 2012


The nominations for the shark name were:

-Bruce (after the shark in Finding Nemo)

-Fin (which could mean a shark fin, or it could be from the French word for “end”, an allusion to what might happen if you meet a shark)

-Sherman (after the shark in Sherman’s Lagoon).

We presented Everett with these choices and asked what name he would like to give the shark.


“Momma the shark?”


“Is that because the shark reminds you of Momma or because you like the name?”

“I like the name.”

So Momma the Shark is the newest member of the household.


Other recent quotes and events:

-“I love you 150 lbs”

-It is sometimes disconcerting to hear a three year shout commands like: “Keep your slimy webbed phalanges off my boots!” or “Stay out of my peripheral vision!” However, Everett loves to memorize movie quotes, and that’s how they say it in Rango.

-At times Everett’s communication is so forthright it leaves no room for interpretation. A couple weeks ago we were encouraging him to eat dinner by trying to feed him with a spoon and he said “I’m not a baby any more so stop treating me like one!” Noted.

-A girl at the playground recently asked if she could talk to Kyra, Everett replied “She’s not talkable.”

-There are times when Everett is difficult to discipline because he is irresistible. The other night it was about 9:30, and hour and half after his bedtime, and he was still wide awake in bed looking at books. I (Chris) put my head in his room to see what he was up to. He patted the pillow next to him and said “Dada do you want to snuggle with me? I have a snuggly spot right here!” As a parent I should have told him it was way past his bedtime and time to go to sleep. Instead I lay down next to him and “rested” for a while, which consisted primarily of low-key roughhousing until it was two hours past his bedtime and he was no closer to sleep. Then I gave him the proper parental response.

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Today Everett and Chris made a shark. Actually, Chris started making the shark a long time ago for one of his cousins, but then it went into the pile of unfinished projects in need of some final motivation. Everett was recently introduced to the sewing machine and yesterday he asked if he could help sew something, which provided the activation energy needed to finish the shark. We sewed up the sides, sewed on the tail and stuffed in all the batting we could find in the house. Lastly Chris sewed on the eyes and teeth by hand while Everett helped by climbing on Chris’ back and draping scrap pieces of fabric over his head.


The shark is currently in need of a name. Suggestions?

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We have spent almost 4 years with Everett, and in that time we have noticed that he does not make idle comments. If he says something that sounds implausible, for example that he saw a zebra on the way home from school, then in some way shape or form there was indeed a zebra on the way home and it is up to us to figure out how. Similarly, he does not make random requests to see the doctor, and as a result we take him pretty seriously when he does. Last night he awoke with a bad cough, then started wheezing and choking. It was terrifying to watch. Equally concerning was that he said he wanted to go to the hospital. However, we have been through this once before with him and learned what croup sounds like (a barking seal) and that cool air often causes it so subside. It was cold outside, which we thought might help with breathing, but it was also raining so we put him in the car with the doors open and wrapped him in blankets. After a while his breathing improved and we brought him back in to sit in a steam bath. Soon everyone settled down, went back to bed and slept through the rest of the night. The fact that we stayed calm and did not feel the need to take him to the ER might mean that we have graduated from rookie to novice parents. The first time this happened a couple years ago we took him to the ER in the middle of the night, but as a result of the cold night air he was fine by the time we arrived.

On many occasions we have tried explaining to Everett that when he is sick he needs to blow his nose rather than sniffle, and that the latter is making his cough worse. We remind him that Noni gave him chocolate once for blowing his nose and that he might receive similar rewards in the future. He replies by reminding us about the time upstairs in our bed at night when he complied and that he doesn’t need to do so again. It appears that no amount of parental encouragement is going to help here. Once again we will probably need the assistance of other authority figures such as grandparents and teachers. More likely we will just have to wait until he has proven to himself the best course of action, a trait he might have inherited from his parents.

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Everett seems to have acquired food tastes from both Chris and Melissa. Like Chris, he loves sweets in almost any form (ice cream, candy, cookies, cake, cupcakes, etc) and always has room for them even when he claims to be full. And even after dessert there is always room for chocolate! He also loves savory snacks like olives and capers, which Melissa prefers over sweets. As a parent it is somewhat puzzling how Everett has grown as much as he has based on watching his eating habits. Left to his own preferences, I think that most of his meals would consist of about 5 capers and 10 salt crystals, and I’m talking about tiny grains of table salt, not even the large salt crystals that come from the south of France. He has never been a child with much of an appetite, which is compounded by the fact that his curiosity seems to overpower his need for food or sleep.

Everett has also taken a lot of interest in capers of a different type. We have had many adventures on the Bakfiets during which Chris pedals and Everett points which direction to take. During a bike ride yesterday we found a new trail under a bridge near our house, then stopped for a while to determine if the clouds were moving and whether we could jump high enough to catch them. His imagination has grown dramatically over the last year. In addition to his family and friends he is also surrounded by a cast of characters with different personalities, some embodied in stuffed animals and some exist in the form of the many movie quotes that he has memorized and acts out. Popular recent examples are from Rango and Tangled. Here is a rendition from the latter.

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Immediately after Melissa’s dissertation defense the family dispersed. Chris flew to Germany, Everett went with Gabby and Grandaddy to Cincinnati and Melissa stayed in Cleveland to finish her dissertation edits before the deadline to graduate. Fortunately, she had few edits and some of her committee members were still on town, so she finished everything in about a week! Then she drove to Chicago to pick Chris up at O’Hare. Chris had to teach one class on Thursday and a double-header on Friday (due to a missed class on Wednesday). Then we were off on a beach vacation for a week starting on Saturday. Photos of the trip are here.

Fittingly, the first thing we did when leaving for vacation was completely lose track of time. Our flight was at 5:40am on Saturday, so we both set our iPhone alarms for 3:40am. Curiously, Chris’ alarm went off at 3:40am as planned, but Melissa’s phone still read 2:40am. So we checked with two atomic clocks and determined that it was indeed 2:40am and we had another hour to sleep. Our vacation was on an island which we think is on eastern time (though not 100% sure). On top of that, Chris’ sense of time is already wonky due to international travel, and the resort we are visiting often has its own time which is different from local time. Lastly, our phones have persisted in the habit of changing time by an hour in each direction, then reverting back when they are unlocked. So we were really only able to estimate time to within a couple hours.

The family was reunited in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport and then we flew to Punta Cana in first class as a result of some sequence of events that we haven’t yet figured out. Went through customs and passport control in an hour or two. Each of us paid $10 for a visa in the form of a receipt which we held until moving about 10 feet further in line when we relinquished it to another official. It seems that not all countries share our American obsession with efficiency. Tensions were a bit high by the time we got to the resort but we decompressed for a while and then had a great dinner.

Day 1

Awoke about 8am and had family breakfast in the outdoor restaurant. We spent the morning at the pool and managed to commit the rookie mistake of getting sunburned the first day despite repeatedly applying SPF 50 lotion. Napped through the heat of the day and then spent some time on the beach in the late afternoon sun. Met for drinks at around 6pm, as which time Amanda told us that the front desk had called and asked us to move to different rooms. Responses to this news were mixed, and a couple people were just starting to get their feathers ruffled when she said “April fools!”. Good one! Went to dinner and then to see Crazy Signs and the circus show in the theater. Everett made it until about 10:30pm before finally admitting “Momma, I’m tired”, so we took him back and he and Trinity had a slumber party with Gabby and Grandaddy that night.

Day 2

Getting relaxed and into a routine of sorts. Got up at 8am and went to breakfast, then straight to the beach for some water, sand castles and family kayaking. Everett seems remarkably relaxed in the boat.

This trip was a generous gift from Gabby and Grandaddy, who wanted to have a beach vacation with all three generations. We are here with Matt, Katy and Trinity. There is so little to think about here it is remarkable. Seemingly the only decisions we have to make are when to eat. Virtually every need is effortlessly (on our part) taken care of. We are dimly aware of the army of people that must be necessary to provide such service.

After dinner we went to the theatre for the kids show and Crazy Signs. Everett was brave enough to go onstage by himself with all the other children, and was doing his best to learn the dance moves. He seemed to love it, which is not a surprise considering that he dances in our driveway at home to the sounds of the birds singing. Afterwards, in the midst of running around the theatre, he wiped out and hit his head on the concrete pretty hard. No blood, but we did put some ice on it (remarkably hard to find at a French resort) and he decided he had had enough dancing and music for one night. We took him home and put him to bed in Gabby and Grandaddy’s room.

Day 3

Everett and Trinity were both at Camp Gramapa last night, so the adults had a chance to sleep in, yet we still got up at 8am :). Breakfast and then off to the beach and later the pool. One thing Everett never seems to get enough of is water time – no matter how long Chris swims with him there is always an argument when it’s time to get out.

Everett is just as inquisitive as ever. Today he asked “Do ants have lips?” And in case I forget to mention it otherwise, a few weeks ago he asked if it rains in outer space. At the beach there is an endless supply of material for an inquisitive mind: so far we have found three species of crabs, many sea urchins, a few fish, a sting ray that Matt spotted in the water, and many different types of seaweed. We found a free cabana and kept it occupied for most of the day. For Melissa and Chris this provided some much-needed relief from the midday sun, and for everyone else it provided a good place to nap.

Days 4-7

I was going to provide a day by day chronicle of what we were up to, but I soon lost track of the days and in any case our routine never changed much. Everett would wake up between 7:30 and 8am, and even on the nights when he slept in Gabby and Grandaddy’s room we didn’t sleep any later. Breakfast, then go the beach for a couple hours. Lunch and drinks on the beach followed by nap through the heat of the day (though we note that it didn’t yet seem hot enough to turn on the air conditioning in the restaurant). Everett has been taking especially long naps here, so we would usually get back out the door to the beach or pool between 4 and 5pm. After that we returned to the room to shower, then met at the main bar for drinks. Then dinner, followed by the childrens’ show and dance party. Then Everett went to bed and the adults either followed him or went back out for drinks and dancing. Most days Trinity has been in the kids camp while Everett spends time with Mom, Dad, Gabby or Grandaddy. This has worked out great, and no one seems to feel like they are missing anything. Today Everett said he wanted to sign up for some activities, so we may try that tomorrow if there is room.

Wrap up: Here are some thoughts and observations from the last 7 days.

We were initially worried that Everett would stop napping during this trip, though this perhaps isn’t the best way to put it. Melissa was worred that he would stop napping and that, because she is finished with her dissertation and will be watching E most days, she would lose her midday break. However, the opposite has happened. There is so much to do here that Everett rarely goes to bed anywhere near his normal bedtime. And since he discovered Crazy Signs at around 9pm each night he wants to stay up at least long enough for dancing. On Wednesday night the older children put on a dance show and as a result they skipped Crazy Signs for the kids. The next day he was pretty concerned about this. “There was no dance party last night”. We’ll try again tonight (Thursday). Anyway, the result of all of this is that his naps have gotten longer rather than shorter. He now sleeps for two or three hours during the heat of the day.

As with other trips overseas we had a remarkably difficult time getting cups of milk for Everett. We tried ordering in several different languages, but somehow that didn’t solve the problem either: when we got milk it was often served steaming hot. It reminded us of the time in Switzerland when we tried to order Everett a cup of milk using English, French, German and Italian, after which they served him iced tea. Anyway, the milk problem on this trip was solved after Chris figured out where they kept it.

Club Med has somehow resisted enacting rules the way we do in America. We encountered almost no rules and few guidelines while we were there. The only rule I recall is that children had to be six years old to go out in a kayak, but even this wasn’t strictly enforced. On the first day they allowed it, but after that the water was rougher so they asked us to just push the boat around in the shallows. In contrast to many places in America, the resort is not plastered with signs that provide little more than common sense information.

Everett loves stories. He loves hearing them and telling them. He especially seems to enjoy stories that have some kind of surprising element, or are about him when he was a baby. On this trip we encountered a lizard who zoomed away when we tried to pet it, and we also told (and retold) the story about Everett crawling onto Dad’s chest and removing his sunglasses while he napped on the beach in the Cayman Islands.

Animals: We saw lots of sea urchins and several species of crabs. We also saw spiny lobsters when they appeared on our dinner plates. On the last morning we were kayaking when Everett and Trinity spotted a live conch. We also saw a couple schools of fish swimming around us in the shallows. Matt and Katy saw a sting ray. There were several species of sea birds including one that looked like a small pterodactyl. Lastly, there was some species of mud sparrows or bats or both that nested in the edges of the thatch rooves. We found several lizards in the bushes near our room, some brown and some green, which were amazingly fast and able to jump long distances. There were several species of palms, several of which produced small fruits that Everett collected and put in a cup of water to watch during the week. He was performing an experiment to see if they would grow into palm trees.

Summary: The week at Club Med was exceptional and we are all thankful to have had the time together.

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