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.