In which The Four-Year-Old dips into phrenology

1883 Phrenology Chart (via Wikipedia)

The Four-Year-Old, surveying the world from her car seat: “Mommyo, why are some trees called evergreens?”

Mommyo: “Because they keep their leaves all year round and are always and forever green.”

Caught up in the excitement of knowing the answer to one of the Four-Year-Old’s questions without recourse to the iPhone, Mommyo decides to share her other tidbit of knowledge on the subject: “Trees that lose their leaves in the fall are called deciduous.”

The Four-Year-Old: “Why?”

Mommyo, stumped and worse, driving, so unable to consult her usual panel of experts, replies: “I don’t know off the top of my head.”

The Four-Year-Old: “Do you know in the bottom of your head?”

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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5 Responses to In which The Four-Year-Old dips into phrenology

  1. Paul says:

    Deciduous is from the latin: de + cadere, so literally “to fall off”. I didn’t think of this off any part of my head, I just looked it up. 😦

    The antonym, evergreen, lacking such a lofty etymology seems plebeian in contrast. Or should I say, run-of-the-mill?


    • Shala Howell says:

      Yes. I’m afraid I got lazy with that Caterpickle in not cracking open the Virtual Webster’s. Fortunately, you were all over it, for which The Four-Year-old says “Thank You.”

      Hmm. Well what she actually said was “Cool,” but I expect she really meant “Thank you” as she is a very well brought up child indeed.


  2. Pingback: The trouble with watching nature shows | CATERPICKLES

  3. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is
    popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know
    any solutions to help protect against content from being ripped off?

    I’d certainly appreciate it.


    • Shala Howell says:

      Yes. Couple of tricks:
      1) Put an internal link to one of your past posts somewhere in your text. Many times I’ve discovered someone copying and pasting my work onto their own site bc WordPress alerts me that I have a new pingback to an old post where I wasn’t expecting one.
      2) Set up one or more Google Alerts for some key phrases you use all the time in your writing. Google will send you an email letting you know where those phrases pop up on the web. You can scan the results for anything suspicious.
      3) If someone does copy your stuff, and you want them to take it down, send them (and/or their ISP) a DMCA take down notice (


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