Monday, December 25, 2006

Dalty's First "Solid" Food

(Originally posted Monday, December 25, 2006 by Tim )

So we’re bad parents. We were supposed to wait until six months before offering Dalton any “solid” food and we broke down tonight at the five and one half month mark. Dalty has been intently watching us eat for over a month now with occasional grabs for plates of food and serving utensils. It’s been clear that he has really wanted to try what we have been eating.

Cat mixed up some mashed banana with breast milk tonight and the entire family crowded around for the show. He was all over it. He doesn’t yet know how to get food off the spoon, but he was reaching for it each time and helping Cat guide it into his mouth.

This post’s picture was taken by either his aunt Laura or his aunt Jessica. I’m not sure which, but I’m sure they will let me know in the morning. It doesn’t quite do justice to the level of enthusiasm that Dalton had for the experience.

We’ve been holding off because the current thinking (at least in the books we read) is that you want to wait on solid food until the babies stomach lining has sufficiently matured such that it won’t let large protein fragments into the blood stream. The hypothesis here is that large protein fragments in the blood could elicit an immune response and lead to future allergies. At six months, the stomach lining of an infant has developed such that this is not considered to be a great risk. We’re only two weeks short on six months (less than 10%) and he’s really quite a physically advanced baby.

Ok, I still feel guilty…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dalton's First Christmas Service

(Originally posted on Sunday, December 24, 2006 by Tim)

Today was Dalton?s first Christmas Eve. We are celebrating the occasion in Florida with Cathy?s family. The usual tradition is for them to descend on Cathy?s grandparent?s house in great numbers from a variety of locations. Dinner is consumed and then there everyone moves to the family room for the opening of gifts.

The extended family on Cat?s side is quite large. Cat?s mother has six siblings, each of whom has a family with at least two children each. In addition, there?s a half generation gap between Cathy and most of her cousins. The average cousin age is about 12 years old. This makes for a rather cozy room full of rowdy kids shouting, tearing open presents, and generally increasing the entropy of the universe by several orders of magnitude.

My general defense at this event is to fall asleep. I usually find a comfy spot at the back of the room. When the volume turns up, I tilt my head back and I?m out in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, I?m a father this year and thus I have a responsibility to stay awake and watch my son experience the event. Well, that and someone took my comfy chair.

Dalton is the first child of his generation. As you might expect, he is the subject of much attention from his great aunts and uncles as well as his first cousins once removed. He received a great many gifts today and participated in some of the unwrapping. Since I was awake anyway, I took the opportunity to snap a few photographs. Today?s photo is a ?representative example?.

After the holiday bonanza, we returned to Cathy?s parents house to open more gifts. Once again, Dalton was a recipient of many gifts. The biggest single category for the day was children?s books. A number of the books were of the ?touch and feel? variety. You may be familiar with these books. They have a picture of a bunny and part of it has some fur attached that bears no small resemblance to astroturf. I got a kick out explaining to Cat?s cousins how these books were crafted. ?Look a bunny!? , I?d exclaim while the page was open to a picture of a rabbit. I?d then point at the textured fur on the rabbit and say, ?and they made it from real bunnies.? I was almost the only one to find this funny the first time I did it and certainly the only one who found it funny the fifth time. Go figure.

Mom reading to Dalton from a book made with kitties in the picture above.

Next, we went to one of the Christmas Eve services at Cat?s parent?s church. While neither Cat nor I are religious, it was quite nice from a number of perspectives.

First, Dalton has now been in two different churches and he hasn?t burst into flames on either occasion. We find this comforting.

Second, tonight?s church was the one in which our wedding was held (neither of us burst into flame on that occasion either). There is some amount of symmetry in the fact that Dalton?s first Christmas service would be spent in the church we were married.

There is also the singing. I have developed a much greater appreciation for singing since Dalton was born. Usually when I?m at a church service, I either mouth the words or sing very softly. I?ve grown to enjoy singing more and it was fun to being doing so in a group this evening. I saved the program as there were a couple of songs that I?d like to sing for Dalton in the future. I had thought that Dalton would enjoy the caroling, but it turned out to be a bit much for him at the late hour. It ?knocked him off the boobie? (disturbed his nursing), he protested, and we were forced to retreat to the ?dome of silence in the back of the church. From there on out, things went pretty well. There were lots of toys in the ?dome of silence? and a big mirror. Dalton really likes mirrors and it is always nice to find one that I?m not afraid he?s going to knock off the wall.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Awesome ginger cookies

(Originally posted on Friday, December 22, 2006 by Tim)

Carol's delicious ginger cookies:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 t cloves
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3.5 oz crystallized ginger chips, minced
Combine butter, sugar, molasses, egg, beat well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture. Mix well. Add ginger chips. Chill one hour. Form 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, place on a baked greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Stealth posted by Cathy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Or maybe a cook...

(Originally posted on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by Tim)

Here's some more career aptitude testing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Travel

(Originally posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 by Tim)

Today?s picture is from our travels to Florida to celebrate Christmas. We were waiting to board the plane in Roanoke Airport and I was observing where the other babies were in terms of development. There was a veritable herd of 5 month olds at the gate, all doing different things. Some of them were walking, some were talking, some reciting Shakespeare, and I think I saw one integrating with a set of crayons. Dalton watched the other babies for a while and then decided to upstage them by putting his foot in his mouth.

I?ve been obsessing a little bit over Dalton?s developmental milestones. To get a better idea where he?s headed, we gave him a career aptitude test. As you can see from the picture, he is apparently well suited to be a hairdresser.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Generation Plant

(Originally posted on Friday, December 15, 2006 by Tim)

Scandal! Two posts in a row without a picture of Dalton. To put you at ease, Dalton is doing well and we do still take pictures of him. This post is even about Dalton-- sort of. Well, maybe this post is more about me, but he is still in it.

My sister in law's husband Larry was telling me about a friend of his who has an interesting tradition in her family. The family has a bamboo tree that is passed down from generation to generation. By passed down, I don?t mean that someone hands the plant off. Each child gets a clipping from the bamboo that they grow and then pass on clippings to their children.

If you know me or you?ve read many of my posts, you know that I enjoy growing plants. When Larry told me about this tradition, I thought it was a really great idea. I thought I would pick out a suitable plant and start this tradition with Dalton. I started thinking about what kind of plant would be best for this process. It would need to be something easy to care for and also a plant that is interesting. Interesting is important. While I?m told they are good in salads, passing dandelions down from generation to generation lacks something. Besides, all dandelions are to be killed on sight in our household.

As fate would have it, I didn?t have to make a decision on the plant at all. While I was talking to my Mom, she mentioned that she had saved some cuttings from her fathers Christmas Cactus. Even better, he had grown those plants from cuttings from his mother. Mom has now given me a cactus (pictured above) grown her cuttings so that is four generations.

I tried to find the official term for plants passed down generation to generation and I haven?t been successful. I?m probably not using the correct search terms. I?ve never been very good at finding things on the internet (at least compared to my peers). Hence, I?ve decided to call the cactus our ?generation plant?.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fish Tycoon - a really dumb review

(Originally posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 by Cathy)

I've been playing Fish Tycoon lately. The basic premise is that you've got an aquarium simulator and can breed the various fish to "discover" 400 fish species, including 7 magic fish. So far, I have discovered 66 fish species, including one of the magic ones. (I deserve no credit for the magic one, since it hatched from a starter egg.)

I was poking around looking for a discussion/FAQ of fish tycoon breeding, when I found this USA Today review. According to the reviewer, Jinny Gudmundsen, kids can learn about both genetics and fish breeding from this game.

Um, yeah, right.

Now, I'm no expert on fish genetics, but there's something pretty um... fishy here.

It's a minor quibble, but all Fish Tycoon fish are apparently simultaneous hermaphrodites. (Meaning they're both male and female at the same time.) Now, that's not totally crazy for fish, although sequential hermaphrodites are more common. (Meaning, the fish starts out male and switches later, or vice versa.) Anyway, as it works in Fish Tycoon, you can impregnate any fish with any other fish - fish gender is apparently unimportant. I guess I don't blame the game designers too much for making all of the fish simultaneous hermaphrodites, although I'm really not sure how I'd explain that to the kids the reviewer recommends this game for.

My larger complaint is that the genetics are totally botched. Each fish has two characteristics: the fin, and the body, with 20-ish choices for each. Ok, so far so good, two is simple, but that's enough. Here's where it gets weird. Fish Tycoon fish are apparently all homozygous, even where that's impossible. If you breed two different fish together, all of the offspring are identical to each other (and often radically different from either parent). That's ok if you suppose the parents were homozygous. (Example from humans: someone with two blue eye genes has kids with someone with two brown eye genes - all their kids have brown eyes, since all the kids get one blue and one brown gene, and brown's dominant.) BUT, if you take the identical-looking offspring of those different parents (which really -must- be heterozygous) and you breed THEM to each other, you get offspring that look exactly like their parents. That's just wrong. (Going back to the eye example, some of those humans' grandkids will have blue eyes and some will have brown.) There's no way I can pervert Mendelian genetics or even non-Mendelian genetics to make that one work, unless you get into some really bizarre (and mostly speculative) weirdness about killer genes.

While I'm picking on genetics, these nominal 400 different "species" of fish are all able to cross-breed, with fertile offspring. (Assuming the offspring survive. Realistically enough, some offspring don't survive.) The offspring of crosses between two fish with different bodies and fins are very different in appearance from either parent, with really no traits from either. That's pretty extreme, although it does make it easier to tell one set of pixels from another. But where things go wrong (again) is here. If fish species A and fish species B mate to produce fish species C, quite often fish species C and fish species A can mate to produce fish species B, and B and C produce A. I can't figure that one out.

So what do we have? A genetic system that doesn't resemble real genetics much at all, or if it does, only resembles the weirder bits of real genetics. This is not a game to teach kids genetics.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go check on my fish.

(this is Cathy posting - oops!)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Dalton's First Snowfall

(Originally posted on Friday, December 8, 2006 by Tim)

We?ve had warm weather this winter, but that ended yesterday. I?d been half dreading/half waiting for things to get cold so I could see how much benefit we gained by insulating our attic last spring. So far, we?ve felt the benefits as it has been significantly warmer upstairs compared to downstairs. The good news, is that it was still significantly warmer upstairs this morning. The bad news is that it was 63 degrees Fahrenheit downstairs this morning.

It got down below zero with wind chill last night. I?m not sure how wind chill affects houses. There must be an effect as I would expect more cold air to blow in and also remove any warmer air from around the house. However, it seems that wind chill is specific to objects that can give off water and I don?t think that is the house. Still, based on the house?s performance, I?m hoping that last night is one of our coldest nights.

Our kitchen remodel continues to drag out. The guy we?ve brought in to put down the linoleum is unhappy with the job that was done by the guy who put down the underlayment. It?s not a great shock considering we let the first guy go given the sloppy quality of his work on other things. It looks like the remodel is going to stretch into the new year.

Yay! More dinner preparation in the bathtub!

Today?s picture was taken yesterday when we got home from our shopping trip. The snow had let up a little bit at this point. My collection of pictures of this moment have either Dalton smiling and Cat half in the picture or Dalton not smiling and Cat full in the picture. It looks like I better keep my day job.

Dalton's Winter Suit (one of them)

(Originally posted on Friday, December 8, 2006 by Tim)

I took this one a bit later to try and get a picture of Dalty smiling with Mom in the picture. Unfortunately, the snow stopped while we were getting him into his blue stripey snow suit. I think he looks adorable in that thing.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Developmental Milestones

(Originally posted on Monday, December 4, 2006 by Tim)

Sorry for the dearth of posts. Things have been busy here and it has been difficult making time for them. As Cat eluded to in her November 24th post, I?ve been beginning to take more of an interest in Baby Dal?s development in relation to the dreaded 4-5 month ?norms?. I figured I'd better post fast before we got into the 5-6 month "norms".

Frankly, I?m surprised I avoided obsessing over this stuff for so long. I tend to be very goal oriented and I can?t imagine having a child would somehow squelch that trait. I?m guessing I was able to avoid it in part because Dalton is so big for his age. I?d equated growing fast with learning fast in my mind. The book I?ve been looking at has also been a bit confusing. It talks about five month olds and it isn?t clear whether they mean 4-5 months or 5-6 months. There?s a big difference between fifth month meaning 4-5 instead of 5-6.

I made the mistake of picking up the book at the dinner table a couple of weeks ago and jumping to the developmental milestones section at the back of the fifth month chapter. I found that it actually says ?four to five? months back there which removed quite a bit of ambiguity. Dalty?s current milestones are as follows with editorial comments.*

Large Motor

1. Pushes up on partially extended arms, chest and part of tummy off floor. Plays airplane: rocks on tummy, flaps arms and legs.

Ok, Dalty hates to be on his stomach. He?ll tolerate somewhere between 15-30 seconds of tummy time before wailing ensues. As a result, he doesn?t know what this ?push with your arms? thing is that you speak of.

2. Creeps and wiggles a few feet.

On his back?

3. Cranes neck forward to see and grab his toes when lying on back.

He?s all over this one. ?Toes! I have toes!?

4. Holds entire weight on legs when supported standing.

Ok, he?s had this one down for months. He?s definitely not lagging on leg development. It must have been all the Dad enforced baby squat sets in the first month.

5. Assists by lifting head, flexing elbows when pulled to sit.

I hadn?t seen this one when I first read this. I think he started doing it the next day. Either that or I wasn?t actually looking/testing for it previously.

6. Sits propped up with pillows or leaning forward on hands; can lift one hand to reach for toy.

Two weeks ago, he wasn?t doing any of this. Today, he can definitely sit propped by pillows and he can support himself with his hands for a short time before he demonstrates the patented Baby Dal face plant. I don?t think I?ve seen him go for a toy with one hand from this position.

Fine Motor

1. One handed , more precise reaching for toys within arms length.

More precise than what?

2. Transfers objects purposefully from hand to hand, hand to mouth.

Well, everything goes in the mouth these days. Hand to hand transfers are still accidental as far as I can tell.

3. Hand accommodates to shapes of objects before making contact.

I?m not even sure what this one means. Is that a no?

4. Grabs and plays with necklaces, glasses, hair.

and clothes and plates and placemats?


1. Babbling begins.

Well, I have been a little incoherent over the last few months.

2. Crying diminishes as expressive sounds and gestures increase.

I think we?ve been seeing some of this.

3. Attempts to mimic caregiver?s sounds.

He often says things like ?ga? and ?hey? right before I say them.

4. Responds to labeling accompanied by directed gestures.

No signs of this. The dogs have it down pretty well though.

5. Develops rhythmic dialogue, turn taking.

I?ve seen a little of this, but not really any more than he was doing two months ago.


1. Tracks familiar person leaving the room, pursues dropped toys.

He?s been tracking for some time.

2. Attention span increases; may play with blocks and small toys ten to fifteen minutes.

Yes. Thank God.

3. Interested in colors, small objects, picture books, squeeze-and squeak toys, different textures.

and dogs and spoons and napkins and tablecloths?

Today?s picture is actually from a couple of weeks ago. You will notice the similarity to the one that Cat posted on the 24th of November. I think this was the day after getting worried about Dalty?s milestones and we were doing some Dad powered baby sit ups.

* All milestones are taken word for word from ?Growing Together: A Parent?s Guide to Baby?s First Year? by William Sears.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lovin the exersaucer

(Originally posted on Monday, November 27, 2006 by Cathy)

Here's a photo actually taken today. I know you're shocked. Thanks again to Gail and Walt for the exersaucer - we're getting lots of use out of it!

Friday, November 24, 2006

More on puudge

(Originally posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 by Cathy)

We were at Mill Mountain today for lunch, where we met a six month old, whose grandma proudly announced that he was 14 pounds and 25 inches. And I thought (but managed not to say) "Yeah, he looks small to me, too."

In today's picture (er.. taken Wednesday), Tim works on teaching Dalton to sit. I'm sure he's working on something witty to say about how he wants Dal to meet or exceed all of his monthly milestones.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not so pudgy

(Originally posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 by Cathy)

Dalton's 4 months checkup was on Monday. He's off the charts (>95th percentile) for both length and head circumference. He's 70th percentile for weight (16 pounds 4 oz). I guess we're going to have to stop calling him pudge, huh? We're off to Florida with aunt Jes this evening. Looking forward to seeing some of you soon, although I wish it were for happier events.

The photo is from Oct 19th, our last visit to Florida.

If anyone's thinking about buying clothes for Dalty, think 12 month size and warm. 9 month stuff is fitting pretty well right now, and summer is definitely over here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Phyllis Tidd Catotti (1929-2006)

(Originally posted on Monday, November 13, 2006 by Cathy)

My grandmother died early this morning. I'll have more to say later, but the obit will do for starters.

    Phyllis Tidd Catotti of Gainesville died November 13 at North FL Regional Hospital. Mrs. Catotti was born in Bennington VT on January 27, 1929, the daughter of the Charles and Gladys Page Tidd. She moved to Gainesville with her husband and children in 1963.

    Mrs. Catotti was a homemaker, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She will be dearly missed by Arthur, her husband of 58 years; five daughters Carol Sarisky of Gainesville, Donna Catotti of Haines, Alaska, Claire Warren of Miami, Jan Catotti of Aiken, South Carolina, and Anne Butler of Knoxville, TN; two sons, Charles Catotti of Durham, North Carolina, and Christopher Catotti of Oviedo, Florida; four sons-in-law; two daughters-in-law; 18 grandchildren; one great-grandson (that's Dalty); and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brothers Charles and Lawrence Tidd and her sister Anne Kiersznowski.

    She was an active member of Holy Faith Catholic Church and the Hofa Craft Group, where she was known for the small hand-sewn bears that she created. She also enjoyed many other needlework and craft projects, collecting antiques, birdwatching, reading, word puzzles, and watching Gator sports. She was an accomplished cook and baker, and her family continues to enjoy many of her special recipes. Mrs. Catotti suffered with rheumatoid arthritis and several other illnesses for many years and faced physical pain and increasing disability with both courage and acceptance.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dalty vs The Dragon II

(Originally posted on Sunday, November 12, 2006 by Tim)

Things have been busy here. Halloween is two weeks gone and I'm finally managing to post about it. We've had my parents visiting and Brian and Aduin as well. Everyone had seen Dalton before this visit and enjoyed the new, more interactive Dalton. He has developed the coordination to grab things. My favorite is when he tries to pull Cat's placemat (and plate) off the dinner table. For some reason, she suggests that I need to hold him more when we eat when I express my amusement.

The other cool thing he has started in the last few days is that he is kicking things in a directed manner. He has a "baby gym" in his crib that has a few hanging toys. The gym has two arches. One hangs things over him at roughly shoulder level and the other dangles a ball with a few inches beyond his feet. Our little soccer player has begun looking at the ball and then kicking his foot at it to make it fly. He only kicks at it when he is looking at it. I am, of course, smitten with the behavior. It?s really a joy to watch his coordination skills develop.

Ahhh, but this post is supposed to be about Halloween. Some people go all out on decorating their yard for Halloween. They put up gravestones, hang scarecrows, and put out hand carved pumpkins to make the trick or treaters feel welcome. They really get into the spirit of things. Cat and I, we have a different strategy for Halloween. We turn out the lights and pretend we?re not home. If we?re planning ahead, we pile dog poop on the side walk as a biological deterrent.

With Dalton on board, our Halloween activities (or lack thereof) are going to have to change. We decided to warm up for Halloweens to come by dressing Dalton up this year. We were assisted in this endeavor by our friend Kris, who made Dalton a chain mail shirt. As you can see from the picture, Dalton was a knight this year. Cat and I have been discussing whether or not Dalty will get to play with toy guns. As you can see from his costume, we?ve compromised. He won?t get to play with toy guns, but we?ve started him on knives before four months.

For more Dalton Halloween photos, check out the album.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Well, at least one of us looks cute

(Originally posted on Wednesday, November 1, 2006 by Cathy)

Here's another photo from our trip. The hat was made by my aunt Donna, who was visiting from Alaska the week we were there. I love his face, but am considering photoshopping myself out!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Political Sign Fairy

(Originally posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 by Tim)

I've been working on painting the back porch door to our house for the last three days. Cat had asked me to paint is as Little Dog liked to scratch it while you were opening it so he could go out. When he isn't scratching the door on his way out, he?s biting Sam. All this has relegated him to sitting 6 feet from the door (and everyone else) when it is being opened.

As you are likely aware, we have an old house. One of the bonuses of having an old house is that you get lead paint and asbestos for free. Hence, when Little Dog would frantically scratch at the door while you were struggling to let him out, the lead containing chips would fly everywhere.

The door had been living on the garage floor for last three months. I had taken the door off its hinges and moved it there so that I could paint it without having to worry about dogs pinstriping themselves when they get let out. I then shut the garage door (out of sight, out of mind) and the rest was history.

The temperatures have started dropping here and without the porch door, the cold seeps directly through the cracks in the kitchen door. Needless to say, Cat has been hinting that maybe I could actually paint the door and put it back up. The forecast called for 65-75oF on Sunday through Wednesday and I figured I might not get another chance to paint that door. I?ve been trying to get it finished before I hit my long work days (Tuesday and Wednesday).

So I was out on the driveway last night frantically painting the door while the sun set. The light was getting so dim that I turned on the headlights for my car to help me see what I was doing. As I was working on it, a black truck pulls up into my driveway and a guy in a suit and a guy in a flannel shirt get out. It turns out that the guy in the suit was the Democratic candidate for Commonwealth Attorney. I guess there is going to be a rally in town soon and they wanted to put three small signs in my yard.

It?s probably a good idea to bring you up to speed on who is running for what in our area.

Senate: Allen (R) vs. Webb (D) ? a close race
House: Boucher (D) vs. someguyidon?tknowcausehesgoingtogethisbuttkicked (R) ? a massacre
Commonwealth Attorney: Finch (R) vs. Nagel (D) ? no polls on the race that I?m aware of

Now I have been meaning to get a big sign put in the yard for Webb for a while. It is a really close race and we live on a busy street. I figured the sign might assuage some of the guilt I feel for have strong political views, but never doing anything about them.

So these guys ask me if they can put three small signs in my yard. My response is, ?Well, I?ve been meaning to get a big Webb sign for a while.? I then feel bad because I have the candidate for Commonwealth Attorney standing next to me and I say, ?and you can put a big Nagel sign up to.? I follow this with, ?Is there really any point to putting up a Boucher sign??

Boucher has been in congress multiple terms and is so far ahead of his opponent that I don?t know who it is.

They looked at each other and one of them said, ?He likes to see them.?

I gave in. ?Ok, you can put up three big signs. Put them where ever you like.?

The sun had pretty much set by the end of our conversation so I went in for the night. When we woke up this morning, we had three new large signs in our yard, just in time for Halloween.

Those of you hoping to see Dalton in his Halloween costume will likely have to wait until Thursday. He was in full Dalzilla mode this evening and there was no way we were going to try to get it on him. He finally got to sleep about a half hour ago. I?m told screaming at the top of you lungs is hard work.

Today's photo is from October 7th. It's another example of Dad being not too good with that focus thing, but I like his expression.

Monday, October 23, 2006

There might be a post here eventually

(Originally posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 by Cathy)

(At the right: Grammie gets to hold Dalton)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

No big post today

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 22, 2006 by Cathy)

No big post today. Dalton and I are in Florida, visiting his grandparents and great grandparents. Today's pictures are in the photo album, please help yourself.

Friday, October 20, 2006

One down...

(Originally posted on Friday, October 20, 2006 by Tim)

E is for edgy, that no one likes to see rawr rawr?
and F is for fussy, it?s Dalton?s specialty rawr rawr?
and G is for grumpy, he?s a big grump you see?
and Dalton Dalton Dalton starts with D rawr rawr rawr rawr.

Cat pointed out to me that I hadn?t posted about meeting one of my life goals a few weeks ago. Yes, Cat and I finally beat Diablo II on hardcore mode. It?s a victory that has been two years in the making. We lost a few characters along the way. When we play these games, we both tend to be fond of making glass cannons. In other words, we like to play characters that are all offense and no defense. This isn?t a good match for hardcore mode where you lose your character and have to start over if he/she dies. Over the years, we progressed to higher defense characters and finally managed a combination that let us win the game.

The last fights in the game were rather tough. This was not so much a result of the game mechanics as much as Dalton feeling grumpy the Saturday we sat down and finish the game. We had to take turns where one of us played while the other held and sang to Baby Dal. Eventually, we got to the final battle and had to set him in his bouncy chair for 5-10 minutes. He was having none of it and protested loudly the entire fight. I think we both felt pretty bad by the end. If he ends up pursuing a life of crime as an adult, I?m pretty sure it?s that 10 minutes of not being held that will be the cause.

Today?s picture is a screen shot of the account that contains the characters that Cat and I beat the game with. The title Guardian is given to characters that have won. I played the barbarian and Cat played the druid.

Before you start protesting loudly about the lack of baby picture, I have a special surprise today. I finally managed to record Baby Dal when he was in a talky (and happy) mood. You can be assured that this was not recorded when we were fighting the final battle in Diablo II.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

O is for off key...

(Originally posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 by Tim)

One of the things I did not anticipate in being a new parent is making up your own songs. Cat is much better at it than I am. She can spontaneously make up words for extended ballads. My version of spontaneity usually involves a thesaurus and an hour of grimacing at the keyboard.

I will take credit for starting a recent song that we have been singing. Dalton has a sleep and play that has a roaring stegosaurus on the front with the words ?D is for dinosaur?. I turned this into a song that goes through the letters of the alphabet. The words are sung to the tune from the Cookie Monster song. The first four lines can go like this.

A is for angry, that Dalton likes to be, rawr rawr?

B is for boobie, that Dalton likes to see, rawr rawr?

C is for cranky, he?s cranky as can be?

and Dalton Dalton Dalton starts with D, rawr rawr rawr rawr.

That is about as far as I can go. Ok, to be honest, even the above lines are Cat modified versions of my original lyrics. She can do this song all the way through the alphabet while changing the second half of each line on the fly. Did I mention she was driving at the same time?

Today?s picture was taken on the 12th of October. I title it, ?Dad can?t figure out manual focus.? Maybe I need to be looking through the view finder instead of using the digital screen.


(Originally posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 by Cathy)

Help, this dragon is trying to EAT me!

(There is a certain art to taking photos while the swing is going. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm sure there's a certain art.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Frost and Fall

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 15, 2006 by Tim)

Ah, the cool days of Fall. The skies are clear and the leaves have started falling from the trees. For me, this translates into more yard guilt. I didn?t rake the leaves in the backyard last year and I seem to be a bit more busy this Fall. Unfortunately, the guilt multiplier will be higher this year as I should be composting those leaves. There is still some chance that I?ll manage to rake the leaves this Fall. It?s only slightly less probable than me being struck by lighting twice?in a leap year.

Along with the changing of the leaves, we have had our first set of frosts. As a result, the tomato plants this week. I can?t say that I?m too disappointed. We hadn?t gotten much out of them recently. They had been sprouting tomatoes left and right, but all the fruit was splitting while it was still green. I?ve asked around and the consensus is that it was very wet this year. It?s not a very satisfying answer as I can?t do anything about it.

Part of me is actually glad the tomatoes have died off. The other day I went out in the back to throw the bone (ball) for TY. All the dogs get excited when a human goes in the backyard so the usual stampede ensued. Now our three dogs will occasionally get in fights. Probably the worst one they had was when TY and Sam started fighting when Cat was throwing the bone. To avoid a repeat of the experience, Cat and I are very careful that Sam has a bone in his mouth before we throw for TY. Modi loves this because Sam won?t drop the bone once he has it and it makes him a wonderful target. I don?t know if I?ve mentioned it before, but we once found Modi?s great grandfather in a book on Welsh Corgis. Apparently he is descended from a long line of deranged champion herding stock.

So I?m trying to throw for TY, and Sam needs to have a bone in his mouth. I start saying, ?Sammy, where?s your bone?? This drives him into a frenzy as he begins to comb the yard looking for one of his toys. While he is looking the other way, I decide to risk a throw and TY goes running. While TY is looking for the thrown bone (he can?t seem to keep his eye on the ball), I walk over to the garden to look over the tomato plants (pre-frost). While I am there, Sammy shows up panting hard with is tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. I say, ?Sammy! Where?s your bone??, and then I go back to inspecting the tomatoes. A minute or so later, TY shows up with his bone and I walk away from the garden to throw for him. At this point I notice that Sammy has something in his mouth. It?s green and he seems to have drool oozing out of both sides of his mouth. Sammy grabbed a big green tomato out of the garden while my back was turned. While I watched, he frantically ran around for about a minute before he had punctured tomato enough to realize it was edible. He then promptly sat down and started eating it.

Now let me remind you that Sammy is Mr. Explosive Diarrhea Dog. I?m thinking, ?Oh great! He?s going to be sick in the middle of the night in the middle of the carpet.? Actually, if he was sick in only one place, that would be pretty good for him. I march back in the house and decide to leave him out for an hour or two. Maybe he?ll get sick right away and then we wont have a mess in the house. After about five minutes, I poke my head out to check on him and see him grazing with his head over the fence in the garden like it?s the salad bar. Curses! After that I chased him back into the house. We lucked out and he didn?t get sick that evening. I?m hoping he forgets that the garden tomatoes are food by next summer.

I call today?s picture, ?Dalzilla vs. The Dragon.? It was taken last Thursday, October the 12th.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Brrr. It's cold in here today

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 8, 2006 by Cathy)

Today's photo.

More Scrabble

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 8, 2006 by Tim)

You would not believe how much grading lab reports motivates me to do other work around the house. Well, maybe you would.

I have managed to clean my entire desk, hang some insulation in the basement, and hang a load of laundry. I?ve also been playing a space based video game and read a graphic novel. Oh, and I have graded 10 out of 40ish lab reports.

Part of the motivation to cleaning the desk was so that Cat and I could set up a newly purchased Scrabble board between our computers. I?ve been getting better at the game. Until Cat and I started playing a couple months ago, I never realized how much strategy there was in the game. I always thought it was just about having a big vocabulary. The vocabulary helps, but I often end up playing some lame two letter word in the place of something more elegant to block a potential good move by Cat. Either that, or I end up playing ?Zee? or ?Ex? on a triple letter space because it?s worth a lot more points than the six letter word I have in my hand.

Cat and I didn?t get a chance to go to the coffee shop this weekend. If we had, I would have gotten more work done. Our Scrabble games have been limited to home. Yesterday, we played on some clunky web site that had to send me an email every time Cat finished her turn even though she was logged in on a computer four feet away from me. Despite a decent level of irritation with the interface, the game went well for me. I only lost by 9 points instead of my usual 100 points. I also scored above 300 for the first time. The current game in progress has the potential to be very high scoring. I lead off with ?Puree? for 20 points. Cat used all seven of her letters with ?Peeling? and earned 64 points. I was thinking I should just forfeit for a fresh start when I realized I could play ?Suffix? across a triple word score for 78 points. I think the most points I have previously earned for a play was 39.

I could thoroughly bore you about Scrabble, but I want to get to bed and I?m sure you want to hear about Dalton.

He continues to do well. We haven?t been into the doctor lately so I can?t tell you how huge he is. He did seem to nurse most of the day today so I expect he is working hard to maintain his reputation.

When he hasn?t been eating this week, he?s been experimenting with his vocal cords. Dalton has discovered that he can make some very high pitched squeals. Right now, he isn?t really using them when he?s distressed. We?re finding them to be quite cute. He?s also cooing a lot more as well. We tried to get a recording of him, but it?s proving as difficult as catching him smiling on film.

As you can see from this post?s picture, I did manage to catch him in the act this morning. The trick is not using the flash. Our camera has a pre-flash and it tends to startle him out of his smiles. This one was taking without the flash at breakfast.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Stages of outgrowing a (footed) sleeper

(Originally posted on Saturday, October 7, 2006 by Cathy)

1. Sleeper fits like a bag. Dalton can put both feet in either side, and generally does.

2. No sign of the feet actually being in the sleeper feet, but now the legs are in the right places

3. Feet well differentiated.

4. Feet don't fit! Another sleeper into the "too small" pile.

(this picture is actually from today)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wilderness Festival

(Originally posted on Sunday, September 24, 2006 by Tim)

(OK, so this was actually posted on October 7th. I?ve back dated it to the day that most of it was written)

We?ve had a busy, but relatively uneventful week out here. Cat and I have gotten over our colds. Dalton still seems to be a bit congested, but he never developed severe symptoms as far as I could tell. Since babies do all their breathing through their nose, I was worried when he started getting sick. I know how hard it is for me to breath through my nose when I have a cold, and I can switch over to my mouth. Maybe he can too, but I haven?t seen him do it yet.

The three of us have been making a habit of walking down to the Coffee Depot (coffee shop) every Saturday morning. Dalton usually falls asleep for the first hour or so and it?s a great place to sit and catch up on my grading. They also have some good drinks and scones there. The food selection is broader than scones, but most of the rest of the items are a bit mediocre. All the same, my usual morning order includes an egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant. The sandwich is interesting. They order thin scrambled egg rectangles from somewhere that then get folded over threefold and covered with a cheese like substance. This is then placed between croissant halves and heated in the microwave.

We generally have the coffee shop mostly to ourselves. The place is huge and the layout is pretty nice. There are a couple of big tables in back and also two big cushy couches. Yesterday, the place was pretty empty. It was just us and the girl who sings loudly with her iPod on (henceforth known as opera girl). This was in distinct contrast to last weekend when the place was packed.

The reason for the crowds last weekend was that Christiansburg was holding its annual Wilderness Festival downtown. The festival consists of a multitude of huts set up by vendors of kitsch, charities, politicians, radio stations, and purveyors of foods that should be avoided by any reasonable adult who gives much thought to their ingredients. On the way home, I showed my iron willpower and avoided all food products. The fact that I had already stuffed myself at the coffee shop and that the baby was crying had nothing to do with it.

The funny thing about the Wilderness Festival is what it celebrates. Many cities in Virginia have a rich history. Many of them were touched by significant events in the Civil War. Others are the sites where important institutions were founded. Christiansburg?s claim to fame is that Daniel Boone once came through town, picked up some supplies, and didn?t pay for them. Yes, that?s correct, the Wilderness Festival commemorates the day that Daniel Boone ripped the town off.

Despite the reason for the festival, it does draw quite a crowd. Our downtown coffee shop was packed. There was a wood carver working in the front as well as a literacy charity selling used books. Lots of people filed in from the street and the barristas behind the counter had their hands full. The air was filled with the chatter of happy patrons with Opera Girl caroling in the background. It was good to see the place doing so well. We really enjoy the place and sometimes worry if it will continue to stay in business. I don?t really know the economics of a coffee shop. There are a number of people that come in, order their coffee, and leave. It has been around for three years so I assume that business can?t be that bad.

Today's picture is Dalton with our good friend Anduin at her house near Washington DC. He is wearing a sweater and booties that she made for him. I don't know if you can see in the picture, but the sweater has the cutest little square buttons. The picture was taken on September 2nd.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And another picture we didn't post on time...

(Originally posted on Saturday, October 7, 2006 by Cathy)

(from 9/20)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Baby Dal is still huge

(Originally posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 by Tim)

I?ve figured out the way to quickly get a doctor?s appointment. All you need is a infant. You make the appointment for the baby for some panicky parent thing, and then you plop yourself on top of it. ?I?d like to see the doctor too. I?m not feeling well and I?m afraid I?m going to give it to the baby.?

We?ve actually all been sick the last two weeks. It?s my fault. Well, actually, it?s the students fault. They come to school each fall and bringing Dog knows what with them and spread it around. This year, they managed to infect everyone with a Y chromosome and a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Radford. In turn, I brought my cold home and gave it to Cat and Baby Dal. Since Cat and Baby Dal don?t get out much, it?s been hard for me to shirk the blame this year.

Now we wouldn?t have been all that worried about a cold. However, one of my co-workers was diagnosed with pertussis (Whooping cough) this fall. It turns out that she had it all summer and the stuff isn?t contagious after a few weeks, but we didn?t have all that information at the time. It?s highly contagious and has a 50% infant hospitalization rate so we were quite worried. As a result, all three of us piled into the doctor?s office for Baby Dal?s two month appointment.

Cat and I both got a one shot vaccine for pertussis, diptheria, tetanus. Baby Dal got four shots covering nine diseases. Our shots hurt and his were given with the same 1 cm long needles (different needles, same length). He took two in the pudge of each leg. With the first one, he demonstrated his chameleon like ability to turn beet red in milliseconds. His legs did swell up a bit and we had a higher incidence of Dalzilla for the next two days.

A big part of going to the doctor is getting Dalton measured and weighed. I?m happy to report that he is still huge. At two months, his weight was 13 pounds 4 ounces. His length was 24 and a quarter inches and his head circumference was 16 and three quarters inches. That put him in the 80th, 90th, and 95th percentiles for weight, length, and noggin respectively. I was surprised that he?s longer than heavy. We might have to stop calling him pudge all the time.

Today?s picture is from last Friday. Baby Dal has been full of smiles lately and we?ve been trying to get a picture of one. As you can see from the picture, he?s clearly forgotten the immunizations from earlier in the week.

Monday, September 18, 2006

We know you aren't reading for the text anyway

(Originally posted on Saturday, October 7, 2006 by Cathy)

So here's a picture... (from 9/18)

As I recall, there's supposed to be a blog post all about how much Dalton loves to look at the quilt hanging over his changer. But there isn't. Deal with it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

If I made the rules...

(Originally posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 by Cathy)

If I made the rules...

  • Babies who refused to sleep except on/next to a parent wouldn't startle awake every single time that parent blew his/her nose or coughed.
  • Parents of babies who refused to sleep except on/next to a parent wouldn't get sick.

Greetings from baby sleep deprivation land.

Thursday, September 7, 2006


(Originally posted on Thursday, September 7, 2006 by Tim)

Thursday is the day I?ve cleared to help Cat with Baby Dal. I?ve found that it takes discipline on top of no regular responsibilities to keep the day clear. Today, I had an ad hoc meeting that was scheduled for 11 am at Radford. Since I was already going to be in, I told my students that they could make appointments to see me in the morning. One of them took me up on the 8 am slot so today ended up being a half day of work for me. This would have been OK except I forgot to tell Cat about it. Last night she told me that I?d need to take care of Baby Dal in the morning so she could get some student recommendations done. Ooops!

Cat ended up writing those recommendations when I came home after my meeting. We walked down to the coffee shop and I carried Dalton around in his sling while she did her writing. When she was done, she emailed the recommendations off to a secretary somewhere who presumably took care of the rest. It?s hard not to love wireless internet.

Dalton slept for the entire time I carried him. He would sometimes fuss when I sat down so I pretty much walked around or ?danced? with him in one place. While it wasn?t particularly ?productive? time for me, I was still able to get some things done. I found a nice high table where I could comfortably write while ?dancing?. I?m giving an exam in General Chemistry tomorrow and I was able to take it to test the length. It took me fourteen minutes while juggling a baby. My usual rule is that I need to be able to complete the exam in one third the time students have for it to be the right length. They get fifty-five minutes so 18 minutes would be about right. I?m either getting better at taking my own exams or this one?s going to be a bit short.

After the exam proofing and recommendation writing were done, Cat and I sat down for a game of Scrabble. This is never a pretty sight. Cat has a significantly larger vocabulary than I do. In everyday life, I obscure this truth through the liberal use of a contraption recognized as a Thesaurus. In Scrabble, our differences are accentuated with Cat using words like ?Ibex? on the triple word space while I struggle to place common three letter words in the middle of nowhere.

The game actually started out pretty well for me. I was actually in the lead for the first five turns. Realizing that this couldn?t last, I contemplated starting the coffee shop on fire while she complained about ?bad letters?. At the first sign of smoke, we would have had to flee. I sure I could have conveniently knocked over the board while simultaneously grabbing the score sheet. From there, it would have been easy to declare myself world champion and refuse to ever play the game again.

However, before I could initiate my plan, Cat exceeded my score by placing the word ?zee? on a double word square. My response was, ?Zee is a word?? Apparently it?s the spelling of the word for the letter Z. Why Z is spelled ?zee? instead of ?z? is beyond me.

This last weekend, we drove up to Washington DC to visit friends from graduate school. One of our friends, Brian, is a professional photographer in his spare time. If you were at our wedding, he and his wife Anduin did all the pictures. Today?s picture was taken by Brian while we were visiting. I think it?s fantastic. It?s so good that it facilitated an ?I?m a Dad event today.? I actually removed the Transformers icon that I was using as my desktop background and replaced with the aforementioned picture.

Brian is a better photographer than we are

(Originally posted on Thursday, September 7, 2006 by Cathy)

Photos from our visit to Springfield, to visit with Brians, Anduin, and Amy.

Friday, September 1, 2006


(Originally posted on Friday, September 1, 2006 by Cathy)

Dalton weighed in at 12 lbs 11 oz yesterday, leaving him between the 75th and 90th percentiles still. He's outgrown all of his Gerber brand 3-6 mos onesies, and the small/3mo Carters brand sleepers are too short as well, although he's still got a bit of roon in the onesies. Note to anyone buying for him for Xmas: he'll need at least the 9 month size, and winter clothes in the 12 mo size wouldn't be silly. (And if it's Gerber, better add an extra 3 mos to what I just said, since they seem to run really small.)

The dregs of Ernesto have us totally drenched. I'm still waiting on laundry from two days ago to dry, which is further exacerbating the suddenly-none-of-these-baby-clothes-fit problem.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A nice relaxing day

(Originally posted on Thursday, August 31, 2006 by Tim)

I?ve stacked my schedule at work so that I have no commitments at Radford on Thursday. It allows me another full day to spend with Baby Dal and Cat each week. The ?cost? of this is that my Tuesdays and Wednesdays are really long. I?ve been getting home those days between 7:30 and 8pm. I?m generally pretty exhausted so any time I get with Baby Dal is of marginal quality.

Today I had a full day of Baby Dal. He was very interactive today. There were multiple times where he held eye contact with me for 10 minutes or more. In addition, his social smile is growing in and it is truly a joy to behold.

Cat had her last appointment with our midwife (Hannah) today. The picture is of Hannah holding him. Unfortunately, Hannah and Cat were working on a lot of girl stuff today and Dalton was pretty cranky by the time they finished. What you see is the best expression I could get out of him. I can?t say enough good things about Hannah. It?s a blessing to have someone like her in our area.

I?m going to cut today?s post short. We may be heading out to Washington, DC tomorrow to meet friends. If so, I need to be up early. It?s about a four hour trip BD (before Dalton). I?m wondering how long it will be with multiple stops for changing and breastfeeding.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One Week Down

(Originally posted on Sunday, August 27, 2006 by Tim)

I?ve successfully survived my first week back teaching classes. I feel like I?m already way behind, but I think it?s the usual amount. Memory is a slippery thing and it?s likely that every Fall term begins this way. If past terms are predictive of future performance, I?ll be caught up in General Chemistry next week and I?ll continually slip behind in Biochemistry. Fortunately, Biochemistry isn?t a requirement for a future class so the amount of material covered isn?t as critical as General Chemistry.

I don?t know if I?ve posted it, but I?ve followed up on my threat to teach General Chemistry on Rollerblades. The back story is that Radford is using a new computerized system to assign classrooms. We provide it with useful information such as our class size, what type of multimedia equipment we need, if we need a sink, what kind of board we would like (white or black), and where our office is located. I?m convinced that it ignores everything but class size and then assigns classrooms. As a result, my General Chemistry class is as far away from my office as is possible. In fact, the classroom is barely on campus. You have to cross the street that divides campus from Bar Row and it's the only campus building on that side of the street. If my class wasn?t at 9am in the morning, I?d have students staggering in and ordering drinks.

I?ve now taught three lectures of General Chemistry and only had one student comment on the Rollerblades. The class is mostly freshmen. Maybe they think this is normal for college.

Today?s picture of Baby Dal is of him in Cat?s arms yesterday. It?s funny, people ask me about him at work and I don?t have all that much to say. He?s taken over our lives so I should be able to go on and on about him. It?s just that I think a lot of the details aren?t going to be very interesting to someone else. Things I could say include:

1. He?s healthy.
2. He?s gaining weight well.
3. He?s not too bad in the middle of the night.
4. He spits up a lot and a good amount if it ends up in Cat?s hair.
5. He can fill diapers with impressive quantities of orange stuff.
6. I can generally calm him down by walking with him and singing ?American Pie? off key.
7. #6 hurts my back. (I?m going to try working those muscles at the gym)
8. He generally cries when he?s not being held (this is getting better).
9. He has an innie belly button.
10. He tends to have a fair amount of baby acne.
11. His diaper was filled with (insert state of matter here) last night.
12. He woke up X times last night.
13. Anything with the words ?nipple shield?.
14. He?s supporting his head much better now.

Usually, I stop at number three so as to not horrify or bore my audience. I?ll often state that we?re quite happy with him. This is apparently an odd statement. The response is often, ?Well, that?s good because you can?t give him back.? Really? Are you sure? I don?t remember that one being covered in any of our childbirth classes.

I love my sling

(Originally posted on Sunday, August 27, 2006 by Cathy)

It isn't every day you can get a baby to fall asleep while you're unloading the dishwasher...

Saturday, August 26, 2006


(Originally posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 by Tim)

I have proof that the classroom scheduling software at Radford is possessed. Today, I ran into one of my colleagues from the math department. He and I both teach classes that are the same size from 11-12pm. His class is in the science building on one side of campus and mine is in the math building on the other side of campus. Our offices are in the appropriate buildings as opposed to our classes. I?m thinking that we should work out a stealth switch. Now I just need to find someone running a bartending class close to my office that I can switch for my classroom on Bar Row.

A funny thing happened to me at the doctor?s office last week. I had gone in to ask about a laundry list of minor health annoyances. They are all chronic things that I ask any new doctor we switch to. I guess I?m hoping one of them will have some new or different miracle cure. They include things such as old sports injuries, minor psoriasis, and a chronic sore throat (likely allergies). While I was there I also had some baby questions and I wanted to ask if we could get a karyotype done on Cat, Dal, and me. Cat and I thought it would be fun to have a frame that had pictures of each of our chromosomes. Think of it as an alternative family picture for science nerds. I?ve looked up the procedures for doing your own karyotype on the internet. I have access to the proper equipment at work and I?m trained in the necessary skills. However, generating a karyotype is tricky and I think it would take me a week of work to get it right. As such, I was interested in how much it would cost to have it done for us.

It turns out that they don?t ever send out for karyotypes from our doctor?s office. As far as I know, it?s a procedure that is generally limited to amniocentesis. They check the chromosomes of the fetus for any major abnormalities that would indicate genetic diseases such as Down?s syndrome. Health care is limited in this area. You have to go all the way to Roanoke to get amniocentesis done. Come to think of it, you have to go all the way to Roanoke to find a midwife as well.

Since they never do amniocentesis, my doctor wasn?t sure where I could call to ask how much it would cost to have a karyotype done. Her comment in talking to me was, ?They?d surely do that with paternity testing, don?t you think?? Now I teach DNA techniques. There are a lot easier and more accurate ways to do paternity testing than amniocentesis. I mentioned this to her during our discussion but apparently it didn?t stick. At the end of our appointment, we walked over to a group of nurses where she said, ?He needs the number of the paternity testing lab.? much to my embarrassment.

Dalton had a grand old time in his bouncy chair today. He was enjoying watching the hanging ball and giraffe wobble around. He discovered that he could get all sorts of wobbling by kicking his feet (which bounced the chair). I must have taken more than 20 pictures. Many of the pictures had him smiling, but this was my favorite.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Catastrophic structural integrity failures and cantaloupes

(Originally posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 by Cathy)

So we planted a cantaloupe plant in the garden this year. I suspect it was my idea, since I've never seen Tim purchase a cantaloupe, which makes me suspect he doesn't like them all that much. Cantaloupes aren't my favorite fruit either (I'm a pineapple and berries of any sort person), but I remembered that we had a "volunteer" in Mom's garden growing up, so I figured "how hard can they be to grow?"

I didn't plan on hail. We had hail twice within 48 hours of putting in the garden. The first cantaloupe seedling didn't make it. That's structural integrity failure #1. We replanted. This plant did ok, although nothing like the squash. In the end, it produced one cantaloupe. That seems like a lot of garden space for one piece of produce, although I guess in terms of mass it's better than the sugar snap peas. Tim picked the cantaloupe and brought it in, whereupon I declared it to be not entirely ripe. So we left it sitting on the counter, hoping it would ripen a bit before we cut into it.

And there it sat. And sat. And maybe sat some more. I'm not actually sure what day the cantaloupe came in from the garden, but Tuesday was the day when I decided it was time to cut into it, ripe or not. So I picked it up, noting a small mooshy spot on one side. Something (Dalton?) distracted me, and I set it back down. A couple hours later, I came downstairs again and noted this incredibly rank smell coming from the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, I discovered a large part of the counter (and most everything on it - fortunately mostly dirty dishes) adrift in rotten cantaloupe juice. Apparently in the couple hours I'd left the cantaloupe in the kitchen, it had rotted the rest of the way through the rind, releasing all the yummy rotten goodness from the inside.

Yuck. Next year, I think we should stick to squash.

[Aside: I'm writing this post in part because it occurs to me that I haven't told Tim yet what happened to his prize cantaloupe. The joys of parenthood.]

[Aside #2, to our single friends: If you think a post about rotting cantaloupe is bad, the other option for today was one about mastitis. Trust me, it could be much worse than rotting cantaloupe.]

Monday, August 21, 2006

What the Devil?

(Original post Monday, August 21, 2006 by Tim)

Sorry that it has been so long since my last post. I’ve started back at work and I just don’t have the time that I used to. I’ve also not been really good about getting pictures of Dalton. Part of this is due to the greater difficulty getting a picture of him these days. When his eyes are closed, I don’t want to take a chance and wake him up. When his eyes are open, he’s often in motion. I haven’t figured out how to make the shutter on my camera fast enough to give me a clear picture. Today’s picture was actually taken on the 16th of August. I took about 10 of these and I actually have ones where he has a beauty of a smile on him. Unfortunately, I was moving the camera or someone was moving the house or something like that and the other ones are pretty blurry.

Speaking of work, I walked by a car today in the parking lot that had a bumper sticker I’ve wanted to post about.

It read, “Fairlawn Church, We’re the church the Devil told you about.”

Ok, someone needs to help me out here. What the heck is this supposed to mean? Let’s assume for the moment that I converse with the Devil on a regular basis.* What exactly is the Devil going to say to me about this church?

Assuming that I know he’s the Devil and we’re buddies, here are some possibilities…

“Is it just me or does it itch in there?”
“You do know that those guys all vote Republican, no?”
“You’ll catch me in that place when you know what freezes over.”
“I could almost hang out with those folks if it wasn’t for the hats with the little propellers on top.”
“Sob, I’m so misunderstood. I need a hug.”

On the Dalton front, tonight’s game was keeping him asleep while trying to get a little work done around the house. The challenge was that if he started to rouse and found himself alone in bed, he would startle and start to cry. Our solution was to fold laundry in the room with him while watching him closely. At the first sign of stirring, one of us would run over and lay down next to him to give the impression that we never left. We need to buy him a blow up Cathy doll to put next to him to help him sleep. Come to think of it, based on how little he has been sleeping, I could use one too.

*Many students, several co-workers, and one ex-wife will attest that this is true.

What the Devil?

(Originally posted on Monday, August 21, 2006 by Tim)

Sorry that it has been so long since my last post. I?ve started back at work and I just don?t have the time that I used to. I?ve also not been really good about getting pictures of Dalton. Part of this is due to the greater difficulty getting a picture of him these days. When his eyes are closed, I don?t want to take a chance and wake him up. When his eyes are open, he?s often in motion. I haven?t figured out how to make the shutter on my camera fast enough to give me a clear picture. Today?s picture was actually taken on the 16th of August. I took about 10 of these and I actually have ones where he has a beauty of a smile on him. Unfortunately, I was moving the camera or someone was moving the house or something like that and the other ones are pretty blurry.

Speaking of work, I walked by a car today in the parking lot that had a bumper sticker I?ve wanted to post about.

It read, ?Fairlawn Church, We?re the church the Devil told you about.?

Ok, someone needs to help me out here. What the heck is this supposed to mean? Let?s assume for the moment that I converse with the Devil on a regular basis.* What exactly is the Devil going to say to me about this church?

Assuming that I know he?s the Devil and we?re buddies, here are some possibilities?

?Is it just me or does it itch in there??
?You do know that those guys all vote Republican, no??
?You?ll catch me in that place when you know what freezes over.?
?I could almost hang out with those folks if it wasn?t for the hats with the little propellers on top.?
?Sob, I?m so misunderstood. I need a hug.?

On the Dalton front, tonight?s game was keeping him asleep while trying to get a little work done around the house. The challenge was that if he started to rouse and found himself alone in bed, he would startle and start to cry. Our solution was to fold laundry in the room with him while watching him closely. At the first sign of stirring, one of us would run over and lay down next to him to give the impression that we never left. We need to buy him a blow up Cathy doll to put next to him to help him sleep. Come to think of it, based on how little he has been sleeping, I could use one too.

*Many students, several co-workers, and one ex-wife will attest that this is true.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Got milk?

(Originally posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 by Cathy)

And if you think his face is bad, you should have seen my blouse.

More Infant Martial Arts

(Originally posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 by Tim)

Wow! How time flies. I managed to get a picture of Dalzilla practicing his ninja skills four days ago. This move is known as the Sleeping Lizard Nipple Block.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Daltonzilla does Roanoke

(Originally posted on Sunday, August 13, 2006 by Cathy)

Well, we had a successful trip to Roanoke yesterday. We started out around 1pm, by going to Radford (which is in the opposite direction) to move an instrument. (Too heavy for Tim to move alone.) Dalton fell asleep in the car and slept through an hour of unplugging, moving, recabling, etc. (The silly thing has like 15 parts and 100 cables. I'm not exaggerating - much.) So around 2pm, it was time to head out to Roanoke. 2pm is about two hours before Daltonzilla usually makes an appearance, and we were an hour away from Roanoke, so I wasn't all that optimistic that this was a good idea, especially since we wanted to get Thai food, look for a dresser for our bedroom, and buy some pants that I could conceivably wear to opening week at Roanoke College without too much embarrassment.

We actually managed to do everything in Roanoke without a major meltdown, although Dalton did insist on eating in JCPenney's (twice) while I shopped, and in the Thai restaurant. I love my baby sling.

We did have some crankiness in the car on the way home (at which point it was 7pm, which is well into normal Daltonzilla primetime). We stopped and I fed him again. I thought I'd failed to settle him down when he went back to crying once we started back on the road again, but he conked out and slept the rest of the way home within a couple minutes.

So call that trip a success. We didn't find a dresser, but we did find a coatrack/bench/cabinet thingy for the entryway.

Of course, we paid for the delayed appearance of Daltonzilla. We had about an hour of totally inconsolable last night once we got home. We were going to try to watch The Butterfly Effect, but Tim declared it to be too intense to watch while trying to deal with a screaming baby. So we ended up watching The Fifth Element instead. The Fifth Element, despite the lousy reviews, is quite possibly Tim's favorite movie of all times, which means we've both seen it enough times that it hardly matters if there's a screaming baby drowning out some of the dialogue.

And that was our day. Daltonzilla gave up for the night and fell asleep about 20 minutes into the (second) movie, but we stayed up until midnight watching the rest of the movie. (Not like we didn't know how it ended!) We'll see just how much we regret that today. Dalton and I got up at 7 this morning when he got squirmy. I caught a half hour catnap while Tim walked him around, and now Dalton's asleep on my lap again as I type this, so we'll have to decide whether we're going to use his nap for napping, or cleaning, or showering, or... well, the list is endless.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


(Originally posted on Saturday, August 12, 2006 by Tim)

Cat has been selectively eliminating common allergens from her diet to see if it makes Baby Dal less gassy. She finished her 3-4 days without milk yesterday. Before yesterday, my money was on soy as the elimination of milk hadn?t seemed to be working. Around dinner yesterday, I wasn?t so sure. Baby Dal had been an angel since I had gotten home. He had been alert and active and I had gotten a fair amount of smiling and eye contact. Once we had dinner made, however, he transformed into Dalzilla. Lots of cranky behavior ensued. We tried out the stroller for the first time to see if it would calm him down. Boy, was that a mistake. He went ballistic. We had all three dogs along for the walk as well. That didn?t lower the stress level either.

He is still ?sleeping? through the night so we are counting ourselves lucky. By sleeping, I mean he does wake up to feed, but then he goes right back to sleep. We?re on our way to Roanoke for shopping and Thai food today. He?s doing well in the car. I think he may be getting used to the car seat.

Cat has pointed out that we gave Baby Dal three last names. For those of you that don?t know, Dalton is the last name of a famous chemist. He was so famous that he had a unit of measure named after him. A dalton is approximately the mass of a proton or neutron.

The three last names has caused some confusion already. The nurse at the doctor?s office asked us how our baby girl Johanna was doing. She asked this despite him being in blue and our putting the correct names in the correct places on his chart. Dalton got even by peeing all over the scale when she weighed him.

As you may have noticed, we have lots of nicknames that we use for Dalton. Some of these we?re going to need to drop once gender identity starts becoming important. I?m not intending to teach him gender roles, but we do live in rural Virginia. He doesn?t need to be getting beat up on the playground on a regular basis because his nickname has ?doll? (Dal) in it. Of course, we could have him trained in karate so he can kick the butt of any kid that makes fun of his name. For some reason, this suggestion elicits the same look from Cat that I get when she catches me feeding the dogs beer. I think it would be great. We could then get the ?My honor student beat up your honor student? bumper sticker for our car.

By the way, today's picture was taken yesterday. He's asleep right now and there is no way I'm going to take a chance of waking him up.