April 2013


Today we bought a new car, the first one we have purchased together since we were married. Some of you may recall that Melissa bought a Honda CR-V in 2002, a couple years before she and Chris first met. At the time they started dating Chris was driving a Montero that had some unusual characteristics. For example, one night when we kissed while sitting in the car the engine started spontaneously without the key in the ignition (!?!). Some time later, after Melissa became Chris’ sugar-mama, Chris stopped driving it altogether and later noticed that a tree had started growing out of the passenger door. This was how he knew it was time to give it up, and since then we have been a one car family.

The color Odyssey we purchased is “smoky topaz”, which sounds much more mysterious than our lives actually are.
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The interior is “truffle”, which sounds much more pretentious than our lives actually are. We chose the colors by process of elimination: they didn’t have blue, and white was out of the question. All of the remaining colors are so ambiguous that we would be hard pressed to name them when we fill out our motor vehicle registration. The color we purchased is in fact so nondescript that Melissa accidentally started following another Honda Odyssey on the way home from the dealer. Instead of ending up at our house she found herself at The Chancery in the village.

We chose the Odyssey after going through an extensive process of evaluating different makes and models. We ruled out the Volvo station wagon, as well as a number of “crossover” vehicles (whatever that means). We wanted sliding doors, easy access to all seats and features that would work well for a family. The distinguishing feature of the Odyssey over the Sienna was the flexibility in carseat locations: the Odyssey has LATCH connectors for 5 car seats, enough for the kids and a couple friends. The car is unbelievably deluxe compared to what we had when we were growing up. When Chris was in grade school his Dad bought a Chevy cargo van, built benches in the back and lined the whole thing in yellow and orange shag carpet (you can almost hear Austin Powers saying “Yeah Baby!”). The driver and passenger had lap belts, but there were no other safety features to be found. There was certainly no movie player, climate control, etc. I’ve been thinking about telling Everett how good he has it, but I suspect he would grasp it about as well as I did at his age.

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Everett is starting to explore more abstract concepts in language. One day recently Melissa was driving when she thanked another woman for not letting her merge into traffic. “Mommy why did you thank her?” This led to a conversation about sarcasm, and since then Everett pauses from time to time when we are talking and asks questions like:
“Are you using sarcasm?” or
“Are you teasing me?” or
“Are you mocking me?”

The last question is something he learned from his Bible book in the story about Jesus. The books are written for children, but don’t sidestep any of the major events. This has made him intensely curious. “What’s crucifixion? Why were they mocking Jesus?” On a related subject, he has become very interested in church recently is quite impressed with Pastor Chris.

In an effort to get him to read more, Chris started putting signs over the weather station in the kitchen with words like pounce, springy, roughhousy, etc. Everett asked who put the signs up, and Chris told him that the weatherman had come by in the night. 6 months ago this probably would have been an explanation he accepted, but no longer. “Daddy did you put those signs up?” Chris prevaricated for a couple minutes until Everett insisted¬†“Tell me the truth, did you do it?” So Chris confessed. There’s no point in allowing a sense of distrust about something as small as this while we are trying to preserve one of the biggest ongoing conspiracies on earth.

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School Night

Tonight was the first time that we, as a family, got to go inside Everett’s classroom to see what he does in school everyday. The first 45 minutes was a pot luck dinner with other parents and children. The next 45 minutes were spent in the classroom. It appears that Montessori classrooms are a bit unlike others in that children structure their own time, hence they lack rows of desks. Also, there are a lot of specialized activities that require training before they can be used properly. We learned several things. First, we learned that Everett knows the location of many more countries in Africa than we do. Second, we learned that Everett is entirely capable of cleaning up after himself without being asked. In contrast, it is sometimes a struggle to get him to hang his coat up at home. Third, we learned that the teachers have special powers over children that parents apparently don’t possess. The classroom was abuzz with activity when suddenly all of the children simultaneously went silent. The adults kept talking for a few moments until we realized something important had happened: Ms. Tierra had rung a small bell, signaling that it was time to be quiet to that she could make an announcement. This was truly impressive – several parents mentioned that they should try using bells at home. Lastly, Chris finally met Everett’s friend Mary that we have heard so much about. Everett and Mary are inseparable at school, and have announced they are getting married.
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Unfortunately, Mary’s family is moving to Indiana at the end of June, so this will have to be a long-distance relationship until they are old enough.

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Everett has enjoyed playing hide and seek with us for some time, and mostly it has been a game of humoring him while we are partly hidden or pretend to look for him in implausible places. However, tonight he hid in a way that I have never experienced before (Chris speaking): I knew he was on the second floor of our house, but it took me about 10 minutes to find him. He found a hiding spot that was so clever that I didn’t notice him, even when (in retrospect) I was looking in precisely the right location. This has happened at the same time that he has realized that he can sneak up on us in the house. Not sure what this means for our future.

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Momma Bear

Melissa is now known as The Momma Bear. Piggy and Kitty are the baby bears. If Chris makes a reference to “Momma‚Ķ” then Everett immediately jumps in with “bear”. Recently, Melissa got a Snoogle pregnancy pillow and Everett started laying inside it during roughhousing, and we observed that it kind of felt like a cocoon, and then we started talking about hibernating. This naturally led to a conversation about how bears love bacon, and about how Gramsy and Grandpa used to feed bacon to the bears through the windows of their car at Yellowstone National Park (this was a time with a different sensibility about feeding wild animals). So one morning Everett and Chris were making bacon for breakfast, and Everett joked that the smell of the bacon was wafting upstairs and was going to wake Momma out of hibernation. It seems to have worked.

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On Monday this week Everett and Chris rode to school together for the first time with Everett on the trail bike, which Chris recently bought from a fellow Tosa Spokesmen.
Everett made it the entire way and seemed to enjoy the new ride. The biggest problem was the zoo interchange construction project. For those of you who aren’t from this area, the zoo interchange refers to the intersection of I-94, I-894 and Route 45. The state has been talking about rebuilding it for some time, and recently they stopped talking and started doing it. This will be a massive project spanning several exits and neighborhood roads in almost every direction. The effect it has on our commute is that they closed the section of the Oak Leaf Bike Trail that goes from Underwood Pkwy to 115th St. Without it we are forced to cross Route 100 on surface roads, which is unpleasant under normal circumstances, but with the construction it is an ordeal. Nonetheless, Everett seems to have a great time and as soon as we rolled up to school he hopped off the bike and walked in.

Everett has had a cold for the last few days. The symptoms always seem worse at night, so after he gets up in the morning he seems better and we aren’t quite sure whether to keep him home from school or not. He went to school on Monday and Wednesday, home on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Thursday evening when Chris got home Everett was just not himself – he was very groggy, almost delirious, and he felt warm. The most alarming symptom came when Chris picked him up he said “Daddy, I don’t think tonight is a roughhousing night.” We don’t recall this ever happening before. We called the pediatrician, gave him Tylenol for his fever, and put him to bed. About a half hour later he said he was starting to feel better, and within and hour he told Chris “We are off the hook,” and then the two of us spent time time with a new app that allowed us to try out different hairstyles.
Saturday morning he was still not feeling great but he still made it out the door to the sibling class at the hospital where he learned how to hold a baby, how to change a diaper and some of the anatomy involved in birth. From this he made a drawing for Momma to see when she is in the hospital. It included her, him, one baby being born and one baby still inside her. This is just one of many ways that art and play have allowed Everett to express what is going on around him. His stuffed animals (collectively known as The Snugglies) have been coming down with a number of ailments and injuries lately, and Everett explains the treatment plan they must follow to get back to health. One of them is a doll named Kittybell who he is very protective of, and who now sleeps in a crib made from a cardboard box.

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