September 2013


This has been a full weekend. On Friday night Chris and Everett went to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for the owl hike at dusk. We didn’t see any owls during the hike, but we did learn a lot about them, and at the end of the hike we got to spend some time with four owls who are residents at the center.
We also received instructions on how to build a nest box for an Eastern Screech Owl or a Barred Owl.

On Saturday morning we went to visit our friend Vicki (who is also a colleague of Chris’ in the Neurology Department) who just had hip replacement surgery. Vicki gave Everett a ginormous cookie with a snail on it, and Everett regaled Vicki and her brother with stories about his life and how it has changed since the twins arrived.
We also took a short break to assess the acorn situation in Vicki’s front yard, and we collected several specimens that are quite different from the ones we find regularly in our neighborhood. One day soon we will offer these to the squirrels at our house alongside fruits from the Oak tree in the front yard and the Black Walnut in the backyard to see which they prefer. Naturally this will be documented using our motion camera, and we will report our findings.

In the afternoon Chad and Amanda stopped by for dinner on their way back to Akron from a wedding in Appleton. Their daughter Katie was born five days after Gwen and Teddy. We did not manage to get a picture of the adults, but did get one of all the children together. It is quite challenging to get a picture of three babies and a five year old that is: 1) in focus; 2) none of the children are crying; 3) most of them are looking at the camera; 4) there isn’t a dog or an adult wandering through the frame. Chris took several, and this was the best one.

On Sunday morning Everett went to Sunday School for the first time. We forgot to tell him in advance, and it did not go well at drop off. The teachers don’t know him, so they mistakenly interpreted his reaction as separation anxiety. In fact he was just angry that we didn’t tell him it was coming, which is reasonable and we are usually pretty diligent about it. On Sunday afternoon we visited Weston’s Antique Apples in New Berlin.
We have been there once or twice before – they have over 100 varieties of apples and a picking season that can last from August to December.
Astute readers of our blog will recall a similar picture of Chris and Everett from three years earlier.

On Sunday evening we had dinner at The Landing. Everett got to drink from his German stein that was a gift from Grandaddy.
And we were joined by with Roy, Kathryn, Jackson and Ryan. Roy is a friend of Chris’ from graduate school in Utah. His wife Kathryn is a GI physician who is doing a fellowship at MCW for the next year, so they are living a couple miles away from us in Wauwatosa. Their son Jackson is a few months younger than Everett, and Ryan turned one on the day Gwen and Teddy were born. Ryan just learned to walk and is really enjoying his newfound freedom. Translation: Roy or Kathryn were chasing Ryan most of the evening, and we attempted to have an adult conversation with whoever wasn’t chasing him. Perhaps this is what we have to look forward to in about a year, times two. We would have included pictures of our dinner together, but photography was virtually impossible.

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This week Chris and Everett have both had a mild cold. Everett has coughing fits, which wake him up, so he is getting less sleep than normal, and as a result he is really tired at 7am when it’s time to wake up for school (he missed one day of school this week). He has been waking up at night, sometimes from coughing and sometimes from bad dreams, and when this happens he wants one of us to check on him. Chris has been getting up, then spending the rest of the night in Everett’s room. This has made Chris extra tired. So today we all overslept and Chris took Everett to school in the car. During the ride Chris was drinking from a travel mug.

“Dada, why do you drink coffee?”

“Well, drinking coffee is not a nice habit. It gives you terrible breath, and ideally we wouldn’t need it if we got enough rest. But we don’t, so we drink coffee to wake up and stay alert. The reason we don’t get enough rest is because we are awake all day, and during the night the babies are awake. And we tell them ‘Babies, it’s the middle of the night, so go back to sleep!’, and the babies say ‘What’s the middle of the night? We don’t know what you are talking about. It’s party time!’ ”

“Dada, Tell that story again, but this time make it funnier!”

This story makes it sound like Chris isn’t getting much sleep, which is true, but no matter how little he sleeps Melissa is sleeping less because she gets up to feed the babies a few times a night. They are now on sort of a schedule: they go to bed around the same time Everett does. For a while Chris was feeding them a bottle between 11-12pm, but this wasn’t really getting us any extra sleep, so now we just leave them alone until they wake up between midnight and 1am. Then another feeding in the middle of the night, and another at dawn. Gwen has been known to sleep from midnight to dawn on occasion. When we wake up in the morning there are usually one or two babies in bed with us.

Our experience over the past couple months has been like swimming in the surf. Tiredness comes and goes, and just when we think we have gotten into a rhythm, an inexorable wave of sleepiness picks us up for a few minutes and then sets us back down. For Melissa this happens in mid-afternoon. For Chris it happens around the children’s bedtime. It is the most intense sleep either of us has experienced in a long time. It is also completely disorienting, as in: Where am I? Where are the children? How long have I been here?

Are there parents that don’t drink coffee? There must be, and it would be interesting to hear their coping strategies.

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Holy Guacamole

We recently started reading books about Skippyjon Jones. The great thing about them is that they are enjoyable for everyone to read (and many of you already know that this is not true of all children’s books). Everett and Skippyjon have several things in common: they both like to bounce on their big boy beds; they both have big imaginations; they both like to act. Chris and Melissa feel an affinity for Mama Junebug Jones and the challenges she faces while raising an active, imaginative child. Usually at some point in each book Skippy is bouncing on his bed and happens to fly past his mirror, at which point he sees his reflection and exclaims “Holy guacamole!”. He then reasons that because of the size of his head and ears relative to his body, he must be a Chihuahua rather than a Siamese cat, and he transforms into El Skipito Friskito, the great sword fighter.

Today Chris took all of the children on an adventure while Momma had some alone time at the house. First we went to Concordia University in Mequon to checkout the ampitheater and hike to the lake. Concordia has been in Milwaukee for well over 100 years, and moved to the 192 acre Mequon campus in 1982. Some time later they restored the bluffs over the lake, and now it is a truly idyllic place. It’s difficult to believe that some of the views from the amphitheater are on Lake Michigan, just a few miles north of downtown Milwaukee.
It’s also somewhat difficult to believe that Lake Michigan is in fact a lake. Everett and Chris had a long discussion about why it wasn’t an ocean, and what distinguishes an ocean from a lake. It’s one of those things that seems obvious until you try to explain it to someone, especially if that someone is asking hard questions. Chris could use a little help here.

We hiked to the lake and played on the rocks for a couple hours while the babies enjoyed some fresh air.
Everett was pretty surefooted on the loose rocks but surprisingly took a spill on the limestone steps; he scraped his knees and arm, and got a fat lip. After we felt that he had recovered enough to eat, we hiked back up the bluffs and went to Qdoba for lunch. Everett had a cheese quesadilla with chips and guacamole. When it was ready he asked “Is that regular guacamole or holy guacamole?”, and Chris answered that it was the latter in a confident manner that seems to come naturally to fathers. On a distantly related subject we should ask Melissa in a future blog post to describe the origins of the internationally-famous recipe “Tomatoes Koomer”. This is pronounced \ kü-‘mer \, even though the spelling is identical to \ ‘kü-mər \ Ridge Kentucky, which is coincidentally where they were camping the first time she tried the dish.

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Summer 2013

This summer flew by. The combination of pregnancy, birth and caring for two newborns has created a much higher activity level than normal. The latter in particular has caused considerable sleep deprivation, which has seriously distorted our sense of time. The twins generally sleep during the day, while Everett sleeps at night (and he is rarely awakened by them). This combination has been rough for us. Many days we are so tired that we are just trying to remain functional. After an especially noisy night last night, Chris joked this morning that he had to have a cup of coffee to be awake enough to make a trip to Starbucks for coffee. Everett is mostly taking these changes in stride, and we have repeatedly assured him that we are sometimes short-tempered and grouchy because of lack of sleep, but it’s not because of him and we don’t feel any differently about him now that the babies are here.

In terms of weather, this has been the most pleasant summer either of us has ever experienced. Temperatures were consistently in the 70s and in the low 60s or even 50s at night. We did have a few hot spells, but none lasted very long and it was never as hot as last summer. This was a blessing for Melissa while she was pregnant and a blessing for all of us in terms of enjoying the outdoors. The lower temperatures meant fewer fireflies than normal (or flash bugs, as Everett calls them), but it also meant fewer mosquitos. In fact, we hardly saw any mosquitos at all.

To wind up the summer we went to our last day at the pool on Sunday
and had family dinner on the patio for Labor Day.
We are also preparing for Everett’s first day of 5K tomorrow. Chris tuned up the bike today, and we set alarms and made lists of things that must be done before we leave in the morning, especially since it is even less likely than usual that Chris will remember everything. Everett is very excited – he was overheard saying “My heart is beating so fast with joy!” when the subject came up a few days ago. He is excited because:
-He will be one of the senior kids in his mixed 4K-5K class, and he will get teach the children coming in.
-He wants to see his friends again.
-He will now be going to school for full days, and as a result he gets to have lunch and recess and gym.

Melissa is excited to have 8 hours a day when she is only watching two children. She has big plans for establishing a routine with the babies and conquering several large projects that have been languishing at our house.

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