Dialect Quiz Maps, Or: Visual Proof That I Married A Southerner

I was going through my drafts folder and came across this post that I had started to write a few months ago, but for some reason forgot about and never published. It’s completely random — dialect quiz maps, generated by online surveys that produce heat maps of which parts of the U.S. your individual way of speaking is most and least similar to, taken by both me and Joe.

It all started one evening after Lillian’s bedtime, during our nightly routine of wasting a bunch of time on the internet instead of doing something productive and meaningful, when Joe sent me a link to this dialect survey from a researcher at NC State University. Unfortunately that one seems to have closed since we took it, but the New York Times offers this similar one which (as of this writing) is still available. We both took both of them, and it was fun to compare the results, since I’m native to the Chicago area while Joe is originally from Pensacola Florida.

So with no further ado, on to the maps! This first one is mine, from the first survey:

Dialect Map (Sarah)

And here’s Joe’s map, from that same survey:

Dialect Map (Joe)

You can tell just from looking at them which of us is originally from the south, right? Although it’s interesting how his map has the hotspot on Chicago as well as the southern states — maybe all the years of living up here have had an influence.

The maps from the second survey looked a bit different, and offered a bit more detail in terms of plotting which specific cities you were most similar to, but painted a similar picture overall. Here is my map from the second survey:

Dialect Quiz Map (Sarah)

And here is Joe’s map from the second survey:

Dialect Quiz Map (Joe)

Not surprisingly, my most similar cities were centered right around Chicago, while Joe’s were deep in the south — I’ve been told that Pensacola is in many ways more similar to Alabama than to the rest of Florida, so having Montgomery as one of his most similar cities makes a lot of sense. Although we were a little curious about that hotspot in Colorado on mine, and in New York on Joe’s.

For how dramatically different our maps are, though, differences in the way we pronounce things or use expressions is something I hardly even notice on a day-to-day basis. Some of this may be due to the familiarity of living with and talking to the same person every day for years, though I think it’s mainly that despite some notable differences (like “y’all” instead of “you guys”), just by being an English speaker in the United States there’s bound to be way more similar than different.

Have you ever tried taking one of these dialect quizzes? Did your map reveal anything unexpected, or highlight any fun mismatches between you and a spouse or significant other? Feel free to share in the comments!

27 Weeks Pregnant — And So Far So Good

The weeks have been flying by, and it’s hard to believe that I’m already 27 weeks pregnant — almost getting into the third trimester! The due date is sneaking up on us, and we still have a lot of preparing to do. I also realized I didn’t have any “baby bump” pictures yet, but we managed to snap one outside earlier today:

27 Weeks Pregnant

That small blue purse Lillian is holding is actually mine. “I’m a grown-up!” she said.

I was looking through my old blog posts from when I was pregnant with Lillian, and thought it was interesting to compare what was going on in the 27-week update last time with what’s going on at 27 weeks now. Just to go down the list and see how the various symptoms compare:

  • Weight Gain — So far, I’ve gained 23 pounds during this pregnancy — last time around, I had gained 28 pounds by this week, so I suppose that’s a good thing. On the flip side, I started this pregnancy a fair bit heavier than last time, so it’s not like I’m lighter or leaner; if anything, my total weight is probably higher now than it was during the 27th week of my first pregnancy. My attitude toward diet and nutrition is also pretty lax, as evidenced by this recent tweet:

  • Aches & Pains — One of the “fun new pregnancy symptoms” listed in my 27-week update with Lillian was unruly ligaments and my hips feeling all out of whack. That symptom has returned this time, with my hips feeling weirdly dislocated, though it’s hardly noticeable unless I’m going up or down stairs, and so far hasn’t interfered with walking to and from the train station to commute to work.
  • Heartburn — Only a little so far. I thought it was starting up with a vengeance a few weeks ago, but so far it’s just been a few isolated incidents, and seemingly limited to when I eat spicy stuff — popping a few Tums has been enough to keep it at bay in those cases.
  • Swollen Feet — None yet! Unlike last time at this stage of pregnancy, my Olive Oyl feet are still as unnaturally thin and bony as ever.
  • Baby Kicks — Lots! Just like last time, the kicks are sometimes so hard that it seems like my whole belly shakes.

Symptom and discomfort wise, this second pregnancy seems to be going almost more smoothly than the first (which was pretty easy as far as pregnancies go). It’s enough to make me worry about being lured into a false sense of security only for some big complication to arise — like the appointment for the diabetes test is in a week and a half, so I’ll be knocking on wood that everything comes back A-OK from that.

And in the meantime, we’ll just keep on keepin’ on, try to get moving on our baby preparations, and enjoy these last few months of being a family of three!

A Father’s Day Survey, Answered By A Two-Year-Old

I’ve mentioned before that Lillian’s daycare does all sorts of fun crafts and activities, with a project made of construction paper, paste or popsicle sticks for just about every day she spends there. Usually these are sent home in batches every few weeks — so on Saturday, we were a little surprised to open our mailbox and find an envelope containing some handcrafted Father’s Day themed goodies.

Along with a crayon-colored paper tie and “Dad” keychain, there was a laminated sheet with an “All About My Dad” Father’s Day survey that had been answered by Lillian (and subsequently filled in by a grown-up, of course). We found it pretty amusing, and since it seemed too cute not to share, here is a glimpse:

Father's Day Survey: All About My Dad

The image above is probably a little hard to see, so I went ahead and typed out the answers below for easier reading:

  • My dad is grown up years old.
  • His hair is brown and his eyes are brown.
  • My dad likes to wear pants.
  • He likes to eat cereal.
  • He is smart because he knows he’s really smart.
  • My dad works hard at the vacuum cleaner in the car.
  • My dad always tells me close the windows.
  • It makes my dad happy when he goes potty.
  • If he could go on a trip, he would go to in car/boat and he would take the car seat.
  • I really love it when my dad gives me fruit snacks.
  • If I could give my daddy anything, it would be a blue present & a red one too!
  • My favorite thing about my dad is he has two hands!
  • Love, Lily ♥

Some of these answers had us laughing out loud, but made perfect sense — Daddy does put on pants and eat cereal, every single morning! To provide some context, here are some notes and factoids that may clarify things a bit:

  • Daddy’s hair is more of a sandy blond, and his eyes more of a hazel, but I guess brown on both counts is pretty close by two-year-old standards.
  • A few weekends ago, we took the car to one of those self-serve car wash places and gave the interior a good cleaning and vacuuming, for the first time in probably two years. Daddy worked hard at it, alright!
  • Recently Lillian figured out how to open and close the automatic windows in the car –sometimes we tell her to close them, but more often that button just “breaks” (aka we activate the child safety lock feature). Daddy also insists on closing the new front windows before leaving the house.
  • I think any parent going through the potty-training process can relate that a child going potty is cause for joy and celebration and M&M’s, so I wonder if that gives the impression that grown-ups are just fixated on going potty, like it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Like better than Disneyland.

It may seem simple, but reading through this little survey really made our day. Happy belated Father’s Day, everyone!

Installing A Window Air Conditioner (With Support Brackets)

Our house doesn’t have central air conditioning, but the previous owners had left behind two window air conditioner units — a small one, which we’d been using in the tandem room to cool the bedrooms, and a larger one, which we’d been putting in the dining room to cool the rest of the house. With our house being on the small side, this worked out pretty well for the past three summers for keeping the place reasonably comfortable and cool — we would just install them when it started getting hot out, and put them away when fall arrived.

But then last year at the end of the summer, when we were taking in the big one from the dining room, we had a bit of a mishap and dropped it out the window. And due to our house’s first floor actually being a half story up, this resulted in it falling about eight feet onto a concrete sidewalk. Sadly, the old air conditioner did not survive.

But thankfully no one was hurt, and it didn’t damage anything else on the way down (though it came very close to clipping the faucet for our garden hose) and overall was just an expensive lesson in being more careful when installing or removing window air conditioners.

A few weeks ago, when the weather around here finally started getting warm, we went shopping for a replacement, and ended up choosing a 14,000 BTU model by GE — this seemed to be about the biggest one we could get before needing a special 220 volt electrical outlet. And for installing it, we also picked up a pair of heavy duty support brackets, which we hadn’t been using with the old one.

Window Air Conditioner Support Brackets

The above photo shows what the new air conditioner looks like fully installed with two support brackets — specifically A/C Safe AC-160 Universal Heavy Duty Window Air Conditioner Supports (← Amazon affiliate link, though we picked ours up at Home Depot). Technically just one balanced in the middle should have been sufficient to support our air conditioner, but we decided to double down for added strength, stability, and ease of installation (since having two basically created a handy shelf to slide the air conditioner out onto).

These brackets have the benefit of not needing any kind of drilling or fastening on the outside wall; they just screw in to the bottom of the windowsill, and then have grippy rubbery legs to hold them in place on the outside. One drawback, though, was that we found them to be fairly difficult to install — more so than we expected, and almost to the point of considering returning them to the store. Below is the installation diagram from the back of the box:

Air Conditioner Support Bracket Installation

We had an unexpectedly hard time with the last step, connecting the upper (horizontal) piece with the lower (angled) piece using the bolt. But we did eventually figure it out, and for anyone who may be reading this and experiencing similar difficulties, here are a few tips that may be helpful:

  • If it seems like the bolt doesn’t fit through or line up correctly, this is probably because the lower piece is slightly crooked — it was hard to tell that this was the case at first, but we were able to get it right by having Joe hold it straight and steady from the outside while I secured the bolt from the inside. (I imagine this would have been more difficult if we were up higher and having one person hold it from the outside wasn’t an option.)
  • The bolt will slide in on one side, but must be threaded out on the other side — this was a little confusing since I was expecting to be able to slide it all the way through and then tighten the nut, so when that didn’t happen it seemed like it must not be lining up right or something.

The new air conditioner actually came with its own set of installation instructions, which involved disassembling the case and screwing into the window frame in several places, along with a pair of dinky support brackets that looked like miniature toys compared to the two we ended up using. After giving it some thought, we ended up disregarding those instructions completely, sliding the air conditioner out onto our brackets, and then lowering the window (and bracing it with a board) to hold everything in place.

That was two weekends ago, and so far so good — although if our support brackets fail, or if our brazen disregard for following instructions comes back to bite us, or we figure out some other way to destroy a second air conditioner, I will be sure to post an update. In the meantime, I’m just really happy to have a working air conditioner installed and ready as we approach the hottest part of summer — especially considering that I’ll be entering the third trimester of this pregnancy in just a few short weeks!

Have you ever used support brackets when installing a window air conditioner? Or dropped an air conditioner out a window for that matter? Feel free to share your thoughts and stories in the comments!

Front Window Upgrade

In the spirit of getting caught up with some of the things that have been going on around here but haven’t been mentioned on the blog, for today’s post I wanted to share one of the biggest improvements we’ve made on the house in a long time — a window upgrade! More specifically, replacing the front windows.

To give a bit of background, the windows we started with were of the simple wooden pane variety, old enough to have that wavy effect from where the glass had settled over time, and weren’t in particularly good condition overall. Of the six individual windows, only one was in working order to actually be opened and closed, which could be frustrating on days when it would’ve been nice to let in some fresh air or a cool breeze.

Here’s a view of the old windows, taken way back when we first moved in — notice how they also had an outer pane of glass (or storm window) hanging over the front:

Old Window Closeup.

As far as requirements went for replacing or upgrading these, it was a pretty short list:

  1. Functionality – intact screens, able to open and close (so pretty much the bare minimum)
  2. Aesthetics – we wanted to keep the same basic shape and look of the old windows as much as possible.
  3. Energy Efficiency – because if we were going to the trouble and expense of replacing them, it just made sense.

We actually pulled the trigger on this little home improvement project last October, via this company, which was able to deliver on all three of our requirements while also offering a low-interest financing option (which we’ve since paid off in full). This is probably one of those projects where you could save a bunch of money by doing a DIY installation, but for something like this, we knew we would be in way over our heads and it was time to call in the pros.

The installation happened on a Saturday, and for a few hours our living room looked like this:

Window Installation Inside

The tarps they hung up did a good job of keeping dust off of our furniture while they were ripping out the old windows and everything. Although I have to admit, it was a little unnerving to see the front of our house looking like this, even temporarily:

Window Installation

Before replacing them, I somehow hadn’t really noticed how much space was between each of the windows — about six inches or so — and it turned out that this was completely hollow, empty space, with no insulation or anything. But happily, the window guy went ahead and added some insulation during the process of installing the new windows.

And now for the fun part — before and after pics. This first photo was taken shortly after we bought the house, and shows the old windows:

Front Windows - Old

And here’s a much more recent photo from the same angle, showing the new windows:

New Front Window Upgrade

We were able to keep the same overall look with six individual double-hung windows, and even the same vertical dividers on the upper half of each of the windows (the new ones are actually between the panes of glass to make for easier cleaning, which is nice.) Overall it’s a pretty subtle difference, and I like to think that they don’t detract anything from the Chicago Bungalow character of the house — or that an onlooker might not even notice anything had changed unless they actually saw them being installed.

The only drawback was that by the time the new windows were installed, the weather had turned too chilly to have them open, followed by one of the longest and coldest winters in recent memory — although in that regard, the improved insulation and energy efficiency of the windows couldn’t have come at a better time. Not the slightest hint of draftiness or cold seeping in, even when the temperature plummeted to the insane lows seen here and here.

So far, we’ve only replaced the front windows — we’d eventually like to upgrade the rest, since they’re all just as old, energy inefficient, and barely-functional as the front ones were, but for the time being these were at the top of the list due to being the most prominent from both the outside and the inside (since the living room is where we spend most of our time).

Anyway, that’s one more item to check off of our (seemingly endless) home improvement to-do list! It’s a good feeling to be plugging away at these things one chunk at a time, even if we aren’t quite ready to move forward with the major attic remodeling project just yet. But as they say, “all in good time, my pretties,” and then tend to their flying monkeys.