Monday, November 26, 2007

Our little head banger

(Originally posted on Monday, November 26, 2007 by Tim)

I wish this post was about Dalton?s profound appreciation for heavy metal. Alas, he has started whacking his head into things?intentionally. The behavior started a week or two ago. Whenever he would do it, we would remove him from whatever he was bashing with his head. I?m afraid it became something of a game for him and we were reinforcing the behavior.

To help ourselves out of this mess, we did what any self respecting modern parent would do. We got out all our books on parenting, made a big pile, set a laptop computer on it, and asked Google. Wait, there?s self respect in parenting?

I found an article near the top of the list on a web site run by pediatricians (not the Sears). It had some interesting things to say about Dalty?s new trick. For one, it said that he should outgrow it by 3 or 4 years of age (oh, joy). It also mentioned that he really couldn?t do enough damage to hurt himself, that pain would stop him from hitting his head too hard. This is mildly comforting to a parent. They are probably correct, but the cost of being wrong is pretty high here.

The best thing off the web site was a reference to a 1977 study of intelligence scores between head bangers and non-head bangers. There were 555 infants/toddlers in the study and it was found that head bangers actually had higher intelligence scores. Hurray! It?s a sign a genius! Cathy?s response was, ?just think about how smart those kids would have been if they didn?t bang their heads?. It would just figure that Linus Pauling was a kid who wanted to bang his head but his parents didn?t let him.

After some research, we?ve managed to get the most egregious thumping under control. When he is walloping the wall or the floor we just make a point of completely ignoring him. He usually stops immediately. When he doesn?t, I can always up the stakes by cuddling with Mom. That reliably gets him running over to nurse. You?ve never seen a toddler move so fast to knock Daddy out of the way.

Where we have a problem is with a toy dog affectionately known as ?Doom Puppy?. This toy sings and talks when you press the various appendages. Dalton has taken to pinning Doom Puppy on the floor and banging his head up and down on it. While Cathy and I ignore Dalton when whomping begins to occur, Doom Puppy doesn?t seem to have the same level of finesse. It just keeps singing new songs and saying new words to reinforce the behavior.

Maybe I can get some sort of remote control cut off switch. I?ve got to know someone who could make one of those.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our little tiger

(Originally posted on Sunday, November 25, 2007 by Tim)

So Dalton fell out of the bed last night for the first time. It is nothing to be alarmed about. Our ?bed? has just been a mattress on the floor for almost a year now. We?re not even sure if he fell out of bed, kept sleeping, and then woke up annoyed or if he woke up when he fell out of bed. He was asleep again almost immediately in any case.

With monthly (or longer) updates, I feel like I should be listing all the new things Dalton has done. I think I?m going to shirk that responsibility. I?d have to do some ?research? to figure out what I last reported and what is new. If I try to do that, I?ll never get this out.

I suppose I could write briefly about milestones. He?s ahead in terms of all milestones on common web sites. He?s right where he should be if you look at the lists generated by those overachieving babies that have been observed by the Sears in their books. I wonder what causes the discrepancy. Is it that the Sears use their own kids heavily in their analysis and that they are better teaching parents? Or is it that the Sears list where babies really are and these other web sites are afraid of hurting parent?s feelings. The other web sites live in the world of Lake Woebegone where all the kids are above average.

Soap box moment: This trend to make everyone feel good about their progress is a big part of why we?re all going to be speaking Chinese in 20 years if you ask me. That, and the decreases in intelligence due to lead exposure in children?s toys.

On that delightful thought, I?ll list a recipe. It?s not much of a recipe except that it makes a very quick (and yummy) main course for a lunch. The lunches we bring to work are pretty programmed. They contain an apple, some carrots, a granola bar, a banana, a cheese stick, and a main course. The main course often consists of leftovers from the previous evening?s dinner. But what to do when there are no leftovers? Well, there?s a sandwich if there is bread. Dalton is, however, the breadinator so there are good odds there won?t be bread. I discovered the following ?recipe? on one of those woeful days when we seemed to be lacking all materials for a main course. It is good hot or cold.

Beany, cheesy goodness
1/2 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1/8 to 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/8 cup salsa

Today?s picture is of Dalton in his Halloween costume. Rawr!

One addendum

(Originally posted on Sunday, November 25, 2007 by Cathy)

Dalton's big thing this week is turning on ALL his electronic toys at once. At the moment, we have the discordant cacophony of "doom puppy" singing heads, shoulders, knees, and toes, two glow bugs singing different songs (hush little baby and twinkle twinkle little star, in different keys), and a vibrating pig thing with zippy jingle-type music. Sometimes, we add in the computer, playing something from Dalton's favorite musical group just for good measure.

I think I may go crazy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ugh! Dental Surgery

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 14, 2007 by Tim)

This week's big event for me has been dental surgery. Some of you may have noticed that I used to brush my teeth with a Sonicare toothbrush. This resulted in the recession of some of my gums. The hygienist has switched me to an Oral B with a very soft brush and a draconian cleaning routine. Unfortunately, it was too late for three teeth and I needed a connective tissue graph (don?t look at this one while you?re eating, it?s gross).

So here I sit, two days later, with a swollen face, a black eye, and stitches all over the inside of my mouth. My current diet is composed primarily of Ensure supplemented by soups, yogurt, and apple sauce. It will continue as such for the next few weeks.

While the procedure and the aftermath have been unpleasant, I can comfort myself in the following facts:

1. The procedure wasn?t as bad as 14 hours of natural labor.
2. The diet in the aftermath isn?t even close to having my jaw wired shut and drinking only Ensure for 6 weeks (this happened to Cathy in college).

These two comforts came from my hygienist and Cathy. Neither mentioned them with direct reference to my predicament. Well, maybe Cathy?s comments on the jaw wired shut were. The hygienist made her comments when she and I were discussing whether or not I should get general anesthesia for the procedure (which I declined in the end). She commented that it would be fine with my mouth being numbed as long as I didn?t freak out when I saw dental instruments. In reference to not liking the loss of control involved with general anesthesia, she mentioned that all three of her kids were natural births. I made the connections between that and this procedure not being as bad as child birth on my own.

It seems that child birth will now be the extreme example used to compare all painful events. It?s kind of like comparing all bad movies to Highlander 2.

Now that I?m now on my all very soft foods diet, I?m going to be making a bunch of soups. I may start posting soup recipes as a result. This may result in a burst of postings over the few weeks or it may result in more radio silence. I?ll let you make your own bets on the outcome.

Last night, we made broccoli, apple, and peanut butter soup (yes, it?s really a recipe). It was different in a good kind of way. Here?s the recipe. It?s slightly modified from Soups for all Seasons by Nava Atlas.

Broccoli, apple, and peanut butter soup
2 tbs butter
2 large onions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 medium carrots (sliced)
3-4 cups broccoli tops (very finely chopped)
2 medium apples (peeled and diced)
6 cups of vegetable stock
¼ of white wine
1 tsp of garam marsala (it?s a spice)
2/3 cup peanut butter
¼ cup of lemon juice

Melt the butter and sauté the garlic and onions in a soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the onions just start to brown. Add carrots, broccoli, apple stock, wine, lemon, and garam marsala. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Fish out any chunks of food that obstinately avoid the mixer and feed them to the baby. If you should be in the unique situation that you are not cooking for someone on a liquid diet, feel free to leave the soup a bit chunky.

The soup is now ready to serve unless you aren?t allowed to eat anything hot. If that is the case, wait until it is lukewarm and then enjoy.

We had a first when we took Dalton to the park yesterday. The ?park? is the playground at the local elementary school. It has the standard jungle gym with attached slides. Dalton loves slides. We generally put him at the top, hold his hands, and he zips on down. Once he?s at the bottom, he turns around and tries to climb back up the slippery slope. Having been at a number of parks with slides of late, I?ve been surprised at how many kids climb up the slide as opposed to climbing the ?stairs? on the other side.

Yesterday, one of the slides was pretty short and Dalton started going down it on his own. I don?t know if I?ve posted this before, but he has a ?no? with a head shake that is in his vocabulary. When Cathy would stand at the middle or the end of the slide, he would say ?no? and shake his head. If she was clear, down he would go on his own. He was also walking around and climbing up the stairs to the top of the slide on his own. It was very cool to watch. We would have gotten pictures, but we?re bad parents and forgot the camera.

I know that you all want to see some pictures of my puffy face and black eye, or better yet, the inside of my mouth. Unfortunately, I don?t have any at the moment so you will have to settle for a cute picture of Dalton signing ?more?.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chore Wars

(Originally posted on Sunday, October 7, 2007 by Tim)

I?m an avid gamer and I hate doing house work. With that knowledge at hand, you may find it surprising that I haven?t played a video game since the end of July and I?ve been doing large amount of house work (for me at least). The explanation for my aberrant behavior is simple and I?ve been using regularly over the last year.

I blame the baby.

I've decided that I don't want Dalton playing video games. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off considering how ubiquitous they are these days. My plan is to play it by ear, however, it has not escaped my notice that it will be very hard to make an anti-video game argument if I'm playing them myself. Hence the cold turkey behavior over the last two months.

The increase in housework is baby related as well. We have an old house and we want to keep it cleaner with Dalty running around.

If you?ve been reading this blog for some time, you know that I can be obsessive at times. This is particularly the case when there is a goal involved. Recently, I managed to put this behavior to good use when Cathy and I agreed to a 30 minutes a day rule for housework. Not only did this new system set a goal for daily housework, but it rolls over from one day to the next. This set off my compulsion to collect and hoard. I quickly piled up minutes and I?m currently several days ahead. It just doesn?t get any better than this.

Ahhh, but it does. This weekend, I discovered that there is a web site out there (Chore Wars) that allows you to set up a Dungeons and Dragons type game where you advance by completing chores. I had seen a webcomic on Penny-Arcade (rated PG13 for language) making fun of the web site months ago, but I hadn?t realized that there was actually a game associated with it. I anxiously explored the site to see if my house cleaning experience could be improved, but I was disappointed to find there wasn?t much to the ?game? of Chore Wars. It is pretty much just a chore tracking system.

Fortunately, I had a lot of time in the car this weekend. What I needed was some sort of game where doing more chores yields an advantage. I was brainstorming with Cathy on this and we came up with a set of modified rules for Scrabble. The game is played as normal with the following exceptions.

1. You get a letter for 5 minutes of housework.
2. You can play consecutive words as long as you aren?t just adding to the end (no singular word immediately followed by the plural).
3. You can have more than 7 tiles.
4. No bonus points for 7 letter words.

The result has been a 50% increase in housework for me. Not only do I get to hoard my extra days of work done, but I get to compensate for the fact that Cathy is significantly better at Scrabble than me.

Ok, ok, I know that you really want to hear about Dalton, but I need to get to bed. He?s a great kid and he?s doing well. He?s got a bunch of words and he?s walking and climbing on everything. The picture above is from last week.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another photo, finally!

(Originally posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 by Cathy)

This one's from shortly after the haircut.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yummy sprinkles

(Originally posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 by Cathy)

I totally want a "ask me about my yummy sprinkles" T-shirt, but how many people would get the reference? :)

New tricks

(Originally posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 by Tim)

Sung to the tune of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star", or "Ba ba black sheep", or the "A, B, C" song. You pick.

Pitter patter little toes,
Watch the baby, there he goes.
Climbing on the shelf so high,
See the baby try to fly.
Pitter patter little toes,
Watch the baby, there he goes.

The last month has been filled with developmental milestones for Dalton. He?s started to walk and quickly transitioned to walking being his major mode of locomotion. He?s also started talking. He has five words depending on how picky you are. He?s also learned this new skill (you might want turn your monitor sideways for this one). I have to say that it?s put a damper on one of our schemes to increase parental sleep.

As you may already know, Dalton sleeps in bed with us. What this means is that he's used to going to sleep with a parent next to him. Ok, he goes to sleep with Cathy next to him and a boobie in his mouth. This means that we don?t have him on anything resembling a schedule. For Dalton to get to sleep, he has to walk over to Mom, latch on, and decide to stay there until he conks out. This generally happens sometime between 7 pm and 10 pm depending on how many naps he has had, whether there's anything more interesting in his field of view, and how cranky he?s feeling. This can be fairly tedious, especially when he's in a cranky mood, very tired, and adamant about not going to sleep. When this happens, he often doesn?t give in to the sleepies until he falls down or crashes into something because he?s too tired to maintain decent motor control. There?s then crying followed by nursing followed by the blessed victory of the Sandman.

One of our recent tricks has been to hint that it is bedtime by turning out the lights and having Mom and/or Dad lie down to go to sleep on the floor of his playroom. Sometimes this would result in his crawling around for a few minutes, get bored, and crawl over to Mom to nurse and go to sleep. As the parent, you could even go to sleep in this scenario because the playroom was safe. We'd baby-proofed it to the point where there really wasn't anything he could get into.

This, of course, changed when Dalty added a little z-axis to his life. There?s no going to sleep when the baby can climb up on the toy box system. Not only do we need to worry about him taking a swan dive onto the floor, but he also likes to carry heavy toys up there and bang on the windows. He?s also reasonably unconcerned over the consequences of quickly returning to floor level. If he reaches for your hand, he's likely to soon jump off!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Airport Adventures

(Originally posted on Monday, August 6, 2007 by Tim)

Working your way through the airport is a different experience with a toddler. There?s a lot of extra baggage to be carried and he really isn?t interested in helping with it. There?s the diaper bag that is stuffed until the seams stretch with diapers and wipes and food and toys and books and clothes and baby utensils. There?s the stroller that is great for carrying the extra luggage through the airport when the baby isn?t in it. Finally, there?s the car seat that is just heavy and unwieldy to carry. I?m seriously considering hiring a Sherpa for our next airport adventure.

The best part of the toddler airport adventure is getting through security. I?ve been sending Cathy through with the baby and then I proceed to dismantle the stack of things I?ve heaped on top of the stroller. Shoes go in one tray, the computer in another, and the camera in a third. My backpack (containing the work I never even attempted) goes on the conveyer followed by the car seat, followed by the folded up stroller. Each time the stroller or car seat are disturbed, a shower of Cheerios and desiccated peas shower the floor leaving a trail through the security station that even Hansel and Gretal could follow.

I saw an interesting device in the Rochester Airport today. It was apparently a replacement for the metal detectors that are present in most airports. I think they were trying it out because they had the normal metal detectors and then they were herding a small line of business travelers through this thing. It was like the metal detectors, only longer and thicker. The TSA agents would prod a meticulously dressed salesman into and tell him to stand still. The device would then blow air at him (complete with air compressor noises) lifting up parts of his sport coat and ruffling his pants against his legs. When I first saw it, I burst out laughing. I couple of businessmen looked at me uncomfortably when I did this. Apparently, they thought I might draw attention to them and they would be subjected to the wind tunnel treatment.

I have a guess for what the machine is for. I expect the air is supposed to blow any traces of explosives off of the clothes of the suspected terrorist. The some of the air around the traveler is then collected and run through a mass spec. If compounds with masses common to explosives are detected, then the TSA folks know who to tackle. I thought about asking one of the TSA folks what the machine was for but I decided against it. First, they seemed to be on high alert in Rochester. Second, I really wanted to know if my idea was correct and I doubt he would have known what a mass spectrometer was. Finally, I slipped on a paste of Cheerios and squashed peas and by the time I recovered my balance, the opportunity had passed.

Today?s picture is of Grandpa Johann entertaining Dalton while we were waiting in the airport. Dalton had made a beeline for the escalator. I have it on good authority that those things eat toes so we wouldn?t let him stand on it. However, he seemed to be content to ride it up and down repeatedly in the arms of Grandpa.

Monday, August 6, 2007

New York Wedding

(Originally posted on Sunday, August 5, 2007 by Tim)

We are in New York this weekend for my cousin?s wedding. The ceremony was held in a Catholic church with beautiful stained glass and fifty foot cathedral ceilings. The place was immaculate to arms length (or greater distance) inspection. I always wonder how you do cleaning and maintenance on a ceiling that high. I guess they bring in one of those cherry picker things. This church had an older feel to it which makes me wonder what they did before someone invented cherry pickers. I?m guessing really tall ladders or they had someone swinging around in the rafters on ropes.

We?ve always worried a bit that Dalton might burst into flame when we bring him into a church. He?s been in a few so far, but all he seems to do is break into a rash. I coated him with a whole tube of hydrocortisone cream to try and keep him happy during the wedding. Unfortunately, he only lasted about five minutes before he started testing the acoustics in the room. Needless to say, Cathy and I spent most of the service walking him around outside. I am curious as to one thing. How many sins did Dalton/we rack up for him eating Goldfish crackers during communion.

The reception was held at a golf club that had a beautiful view of Seneca Lake. Golf courses seem to have less of an allergenic affect on Dalton than churches and he had a good time. He enjoyed crawling and walking around the ballroom and pretty much getting into anything that Mom and Dad would allow. It was a fun party and not so loud that we felt the need to remove him.

A nice benefit of the trip was that Dalton got to see a number of his relatives on my side of the family for the first time. The picture above is of him with his Great Grandma Buswell.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Woof! What a day.

(Originally posted on Sunday, July 29, 2007 by Tim)

Today was a busy day. Cathy and I finished off our work hours at Dalton?s day care by putting up a ceiling fan. It was much more of an ordeal than I expected and I?ve learned to expect ordeals with these sort of things. We were replacing a fluorescent light with a ceiling fan and the old electrical box was plastic and held in place by one nail to a sixteen inch joist. Of course, I couldn?t tell this when I was trying to pull it out. All I knew was that I had a plastic box that was fixed into the ceiling in an unknown manner. I did not discover the nail until I had the box 90% out (1-2 hours later, I wasn?t counting). This was followed by hours shopping for a new electrical box, cutting a bigger hole, installing the box, obsessing over the leveling of the fan, hunting for tools, and frenzied cleaning of a room that will be filled with toddlers tomorrow. All in all it was a 6 hour experience.

The silver lining is that we were at least being ?paid? by the hour. We?re all caught up with our hours for Spring and we now have a few finished for the Fall.

I really hate demolition work. It?s especially bad with you have to do the remolition work afterwards before you can be finished. It?s not very rewarding to be tearing something down. The fruits of your labor are a mess.

To reward myself on the way home, we stopped off for ice cream. We also went out for ice cream last night. Both times Dalton was all over it eating as much as we would put in is his little mouth. This is a change as he didn?t quite know what to do with ice cream a few months ago. I think it was too sweet for him as he?s always loved frozen peas and frozen blueberries. He?s apparently gotten over that and his Dad?s sweet tooth is growing in.

He had his first year checkup last week. He?s 50% for weight, 75% for height, and off the charts for head size. Would you believe that both his parents have trouble finding hats in large enough sizes? Cathy followed the chart back and he?s always been big headed. I guess it helps to explain the long arduous pushing phase of her labor a year ago.

Surprisingly enough, the ceiling fan work was not the low point of the day. While I was taking my shower afterwards (I had drywall in my pants), dogs managed to kill a cat in the backyard. Cathy and I got to spend the next couple of hours talking with all the near neighbors to see if they had a black cat with white socks. I thought I had found the owners at one point. The father came over to our house, identified "Mr. Purrty", and brought him back to his house. I was of course very apologetic and was grateful that he was reasonable as the cat was killed in our fenced yard. The story did have a happy ending for him. Shortly after, he called and said that it wasn?t his cat as his had showed up right before he got home. We never did find the owners. Cathy is going to let animal control know tomorrow in case someone calls looking.

Being parents of a one year old, the cat ended up in a closed Huggies box during the various phases of transport. I know if I was a better physical chemist that I'd have a good Schrodinger joke here. I guess I'll have to teach that class next summer.

The silver lining is?well there is no silver lining. The dogs smell like dead cat.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finally! More sleep!

(Originally posted on Saturday, July 28, 2007 by Tim)

I?ve not posted in a long time. My excuse for the last month is that I?ve been teaching Organic Chemistry 2. I?ve always wanted to teach the course and an opportunity came up to teach it in the summer. It ended up being more difficult than I anticipated. Lecture was 2 hours a day and the lab was 3 to 5 hours a day. After that, I would go home, eat dinner, and then work on lecture notes and grading. I was running 5 to 6 hours of sleep for the whole month of July. I submitted my grades last night and got 9 hours of sleep. Hooray! I barely knew what to do with myself today.

My reason for teaching the class was to get to know the material better and I really had a good time from that point of view. I will have to seriously think about it before teaching future summer classes for the first time. It took a lot out of me.

I?m going to try to get posting again so I?m going to give myself permission to keep these short. However, before I sign off, I want to share something funny on a poster "promoting" the writing center where I taught. This is the sort of thing that happens when english majors try to make science and math jokes. The poster had the following equation on it:

(You + Idea)/writing center = paper

Sooooo?the writing center makes my paper worse, no?

Friday, July 27, 2007

So is that a yes?

(Originally posted on Friday, July 27, 2007 by Cathy)

I wrote to Boca, to ask if their veggie burgers contain ingredients from China.

I said: Does Boca use any ingredients originating from China?

Here's the response I got:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

We have been actively monitoring the activities related to the FDA and USDA investigation of melamine and melamine-related compounds in pet food and have reviewed sourcing for our products. Based on our review of these ingredients and suppliers, we have no reason to believe that any of our products are impacted by ingredients implicated in the recent pet food issue.

Please be assured that from ingredient procurement through finished product, we take a number of precautions to assure the safety and wholesomeness of our products. We will continue to monitor this situation closely, review our practices and will implement appropriate safeguards wherever necessary.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. If you would like more information about our safety and quality efforts, please visit the Quality and Food Safety section of our website

Kim McMiller
Associate Director, Consumer Relations

Is it just me, or is that a non-answer?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A very special treat

(Originally posted on Saturday, July 21, 2007 by Cathy)

Today, we have a very special treat for you. Not quite Dalton's first walking, but about 2 minutes after:

And for a second movie attempt:

In other news, my glasses broke today. 3rd pair (two different styles) in the last two years. I will -never- buy another pair of Ralph Lauren glasses again. My warranty is up, so it looks like I'm on my own for the next pair. Blah.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Another movie

(Originally posted on Sunday, July 8, 2007 by Cathy)

Dalty's finally figured out how to turn with the push toy. Click the link for a movie.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Click on the title above for Dalton playing with his birthday blocks from Grandma and Grandpa S.. (Warning: 54 MB file. Go get coffee or beer or something.)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Read The Cow Goddess

(Originally posted on Thursday, May 31, 2007 by Cathy)

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, this isn't really the sort of post you're hoping for, with a cute picture of the baby and everything. (Although maybe I'll add one later tonight when I'm at home with the camera, to appease you?)

I've been reading for a while now, and she's hilarious and spot-on, most of the time. At the moment, she's running a series on a fictitious place called BirthSMART, and doing a mighty fine job of poking fun at mainstream obstetrics in the US. I highly recommend you read it.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dalty needs more toys!

(Originally posted on Monday, April 9, 2007 by Tim)

Our storage system for Dalton?s playroom came in. We didn?t get any feedback from our vast readership so we went with our original design. The colors are custom. The white and red colors are a good match with the trim and couch in the room respectively. The yellow/orange ended up a shade light. I?m not going to bother taking up the yellow color with the manufacturer as I?ve been on an seemingly endless quest to get Home Depot to match our trim downstairs. It's just not as plug and play as advertised. That endeavor is probably it?s own blog post. I doubt it will get written considering my recent consistency in posting.

The entire system was shipped Fed Ex (ground I assume) and would have fit in the back of my car.* Accordingly, some assembly was required. I think we spent about six hours on the assembly once all was said and done. It was pretty expensive too. We probably shouldn?t have spent all that money on it. However, I?m convinced that if my parents had bought me one of these things, that I?d be the CEO of a multinational corporation right now.

All kidding aside, we?re very happy with it. Even Dalty loves it. It was especially rewarding to set him up next to it when it was done. The lower level is just the right height so he can hold himself up with one hand and bash it with a toy held in the other. Lots of smiles were to be had and those are priceless even if they are moderately abundant.

*Actually, I don?t own a car. Both cars are in Cat?s name. She reminds me of this often.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy easter!

(Originally posted on Sunday, April 8, 2007 by Cathy)

No real post, but here's today's best photo. Tim promises a long post on new furniture... later.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Long time, no post?

(Originally posted on Sunday, April 1, 2007 by Tim)

As you might have guessed, I?ve been a bit busy of late. I?ve been meaning to post about my New Year?s resolutions for three months now. It?s fair to say that real life set in when Cat went back to work. Despite having mostly quit video games and having hired someone to vacuum, dust, and clean our house every two weeks, my free time has evaporated.

It?s been a pretty good three months. Everyone has been relatively healthy. Dalton continues to progress in ?baby stuff?. He?s currently working his way up to walking and crawling, his top two teeth are coming in, and he?s discovered consonants. He even uses them some of the time.

Spring has arrived here and I?ve started working on the lawn again. I drastically trimmed back the grape vine and the roses in late winter. Both look to be leaving out in a healthy way. The four trees I planted a year and a half ago are also budding and leaving. I?m happy to report that the cherry tree is doing well. It is grafted to produce two types of cherries and both parts of the tree look good.

I was planning on planting 10 or more rose bushes down the front sidewalk this spring, but changed my mind when I started looking at different varieties. The problem is that I?m not going to go with the kind I planted last year. They were ?discount? roses I picked up while waiting in the checkout line at Home Depot. They aren?t disease or insect resistant and thus were a lot of work last year. Besides, I don?t know what variety they are anyway. They?re red and have tea shaped flowers. That?s all I?ve got to go on.

In looking over different varieties of roses, I picked out some that are disease resistant and have large flowers. However, there?s a lot of different kinds of roses out there and I won?t really know what they look like until I?ve grown them. The varieties I?m looking at aren?t cheap, but that?s not the real problem. It?s digging the holes. It?s a lot of work to dig a good hole for one rose bush much less 10 of them. The thought of planting 10 bushes and not liking them at the end of the summer is not all that appealing. As a result, I?ve decided I?ll put in three bushes of varieties that look good this spring. The two next to the house will be red and I?ll put one out by the mailbox that is yellow. If I?m happy with them this year, then I?ll carry out my evil plan to fill the yard with rose bushes next year.

The only post in three months and I STILL didn?t talk about by New Year?s resolutions. Sigh, maybe next time.

Today?s picture is of Dalton and our good friend Deborah who was over to dinner a month ago. When I say over to dinner, I mean she and her husband Rick brought dinner. Yummy, homemade, Moraccan food. Thanks again Deborah and Rick!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

More teeth!

(Originally posted on Sunday, March 25, 2007 by Cathy)

No photo to document them yet, but Dalty busted out at least one, probably two top teeth today. There's a reason he's been a grump, apparently.

Photo is from Mom's visit last week, Dalty shows off his playroom

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


(Originally posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2007 by Cathy)

Sorry, we've been remiss in posting and photos lately. Let me at least correct things in the photo department. See below, and also

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ice storm

(Originally posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 by Cathy)

Post? You wanted a post with your photo?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dalty's Playroom

(Originally posted on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 by Tim)

Dalton?s playroom is coming along nicely. It was painted in the big pre-labor painting fiasco this summer. We then had new windows put in but the guy did a lot of damage to the frames installing them. I would say I spent a good 8-10 hours repairing the damage and repainting. I think we?ll hire someone else next time. I?ve also patched and repainted the mark/hole in the ceiling where the old overhead lamp used to be. Oh, and it has new carpet. I had to patch up some of that job as well, but most of that was replacing a piece of broken trim.

This makes it time to start furnishing the room. We?ve even already spent some money. The Grand, a furniture store near us had a sale this last weekend. We had a coupon for 10% off so we headed over to see if we could find a sleeper sofa for the playroom. We?re not usually sale shoppers and I realize that they probably marked everything up 20% and then sent us a 10% coupon, but we do need a couch in there.

We?re not likely to ever really take advantage of a clearance sale. We?ve gotten kind of picky in our old age. We wanted a specific color and fabric to our couch and we were willing to pay extra to have it customized. We also paid extra to have them put the stain guard on it. I?m not sure whether that was a good choice or not. I worry that stain guard is something like the extended warrantee on appliances, not needed but they sell it to you anyway. I also wonder if we could have done the same thing with Scotch Guard or some such. Well, in theory, stain guard is a good idea since it will be in the playroom and Dalty will be on it a bunch. We?ve also been of the opinion that we have much more money than time these days. It helps that we?ve saved so much by skipping on Dalton?s vaccinations.

So the couch is on order and we were trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the room. Cat wanted to put up some shelves or bookcases to hold toys and leave the rest of the room open for play. In surfing for storage systems, we came across this company that makes modules that you can arrange as you like. As a bonus, it's made in the USA which is pretty hard to find these days. I'd much rather help employ American workers than assist China in becoming the next superpower.

We?re quite smitten by the system and will probably order 18 or so blocks in a week or so. The pictured structure is designed to run along the wall and under the window. As such it needs to be one row high for those 6 boxes in the middle. It can only be 3 boxes wide on each side. On the sides, the height can 1, 2 or 3 and it doesn?t need the shelves (it could be solid boxes). The red matches the couch to be, the yellow matches the walls, and the white matches the trim. I?m providing all this information on the off change that you have greater artistic ability than we do. We're pretty happy with this design and colors, but we wouldn?t be surprised if someone else came up with something better. You can find a power point file with our design here for easy modification (if you have power point). Try to keep from going too nuts on triangle openings as we think it will be hard to place stuff in those cubbies.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Helping make the bed

(Originally posted on Sunday, January 28, 2007 by Cathy)


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Your check has been cashed

(Originally posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 by Tim)

If you?ve given us a check sometime in the last year, it has been cashed. Actually, it hasn?t quite been cashed yet. Tonight I initiated our annual ritual of cashing the checks by filling out the deposit slips. I?ll bring them into the bank tomorrow...Really.

It was quite a haul this year, over six thousand dollars. Fortunately, Cathy and I both have HIGH paying academic jobs that pay us ENOURMOUS amounts of money. Otherwise, we might have had to cut back on Dalton?s medical expenses more than we have. As it stands, we only had to leave out his vaccinations. They're optional anyway. All the other kids are getting them and that will keep things from spreading to Dalty. Besides, who wants to get stuck in the pudge multiple times.

In case you?re wondering, we don?t cash checks more often for a few important reasons.

1. Checks improve with age: Checks are like fine wines. There?s nothing worse than drinking a wine before its time. Checks are best appreciated when they are allowed mellow and achieve their full potential. Nothing warms the heart more than cashing a check that has the dry feel of parchment and ink faded by the sun.

2. Stimulate the economy: American corporations need your help. Delay cashing their checks and help their bottom lines. How else will they continue to pay their CEOs ridiculous bonuses and increase earnings at the same time. Well, I suppose there is always the mathemagic of the finance department.

3. The bank is too far away: When we moved to Christiansburg, we wanted to keep the same bank. Unfortunately, Bank of America has branches in Blacksburg and Radford, but not Christiansburg. We figured we?d just mail checks in instead of delivering them in person. It hasn?t worked out. I?ve been thinking that we should switch to a bank in town. Among other things, it would give Baby Dal and I another thing to walk to when Mom is at work.

Things have been so busy here that I haven?t taken a picture of anything since we got back from our holiday travels. Today?s picture is of Dalton and my Mom at my parent?s place around New Year?s Day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Deadly Daycare Crud (or.. welcome to the germ of the month club!)

(Originally posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 by Cathy)

Once upon a time, before Dalty was even a speck on a glimmer in his daddy's eye, my organic prof at New College had a bad term, in which it seemed like he was sick more than he was healthy, with one cold after another. He described having kids in daycare/school as being a subscriber to the germ of the month club.

So I sort of knew what I was getting into, with Dalty starting daycare. What I didn't count on was that you get your first germ delivered on the first day - they don't make you wait until you've been there a month or anything. Dalton's first day at daycare went well, although he wasn't there for as long as he typically will be, since we had some issues getting out the door in the morning with the 20-thousand plastic bins stuffed with baby stuff (more on them in another post, perhaps).

(Warning, parts of this are graphic.)
Tuesday was my day to stay home with Dalton. The three of us went out to dinner. I was feeling a bit queasy when we got back, but thought maybe I'd eaten something that didn't agree with me. Dalton and I went to bed, and then the vomitting started. Apparently Dalton and I picked up the deadly daycare crud at nearly the same time, and it has a pretty consistent incubation time, since he waited a whole 10 minutes after I started puking to follow along. At first, I was trying to tell myself that it was just sympathetic, since his aunt Jes used to puke any time anyone else did, and maybe it's genetic.

Nope. We spent all of last night with me running into the bathroom for various forms of gastrointestinal distress, and Dalton, not understanding the proper use of a barf bowl, throwing up in bed. His sequence went something like "nurse, nurse, nurse, projectile vomit, whimper, fall asleep." (I was personally doing a pretty good job with the projectile vomitting and whimpering part, but less well on the falling asleep part.) So what do you do with a baby who has just thrown up all over his part of the bed, but is now blessedly asleep, especially at 3 am, with one parent with a major presentation the next day, and the other parent with 5 hours of teaching time the next day? You shrug, figure that if he's sleeping he isn't screaming, pull the covers up a little bit higher so that he doesn't get cold (since now parts of him are damp) and try to fall back asleep, mostly unsuccessfully, since the entire front of your torso is wet with baby spew.

Fortunately, we're somewhat inured to the bed smelling like sour milk.

And on that note, Tim just came downstairs to say that Dalton has thrown up again, and would I like to reload him?

No picture today (did you REALLY want one?), but I did add some to my previous posts below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Look, I'm logged in as ME!

(Originally posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 by Cathy)

The big news (as implied from the previous post) is that Tim bought me a laptop for Christmas. I wasn't sure that I would really use it enough to justify it, but so far I'd say that Tim was right (and I was wrong - enjoy it while it lasts, Tim) and it's been nice to have. It's a convertable notebook, so it goes into tablet mode where you can write on the screen (like Tim's, for folks who've seen it), but also has a regular laptop keyboard. The handwriting recognition is quite good, so I can write instead of typing when the mood strikes me. (It isn't quite as fast, but I probably write at 50 wpm, so that's pretty tolerable, and sometimes it just feels right to write with a pen. I guess I'm still a little bit of a technology dinosaur.)

I'm finding that the main use for a laptop is for getting work done while Dalton is asleep. I'm typing this lying on my side in bed (with my head at a 45 degree angle to the screen), with a boob in Dalton's mouth. It's a little awkward, but I finished off and uploaded my lab syllabi and caught up on a bunch of email during this nap, so apparently it's workable. (Yes, Dalton's head is under my arm, between me and the keyboard.) Tim came to bed last night to find me finishing off writing (with the tablet pen) my answer key for the assignment my class has due tomorrow. So so far I'd say it's a successful gift, in that it's adding a couple of hours onto my day, although at the expense of my afternoon nap.

Sorry, still no picture. We have some good ones on the camera, but the camera is downstairs, and I'm not. Now we need WiFi on the camera, huh?

Dalton had his (belated) 6 month appointment today. Poor kid, he had 5 shots and a finger stick. Owie.

The photo is from our visit to northern MN, earlier this month. We're really backlogged on photos, sorry!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kitchen update

(Originally posted on Sunday, January 14, 2007 by Cathy)

Jessica came over yesterday to watch Dalton while Tim and I did work on the kitchen. Now normally, Dalton LOVES his aunt Jes. Loves her to bits. Giggles for her more than anyone else. Yesterday was apparently not a normal day, and I hope it doesn't bode ill for school tomorrow.

I did get most of the plumbing done, although I have to track down a leak and get a stuck joint unstuck in the hot water supply line so that we can hook up the dishwasher. It's the classic 90% done, but the last 10%'s likely to be a bear.

I got my materials mostly uploaded to blackboard this morning in the coffee shop while Dalton slept on my lap, but I still need to polish up my lecture for tomorrow and figure out exactly what's going on the first homework assignment. And I need to gather up the stuff Dalton needs for school tomorrow from its locations throughout the house (including the clothes line). But hey, I still have 18 hours until my first lecture, and Dalton's bound to sleep for a couple of those.

Another photo from our trip to MN. Still catching up.

(Cathy posting again, just realized I'm -still- logged in as Tim.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Starting work, and daycare, and...

(Originally posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 by Tim)

It's been a crazy week here already, and the craziness is really just starting. Today, I left Tim and Dalton home alone together for a full work day. They've been together for a couple hours at a stretch before, but never anything resembling a whole day. I'm sort of sorry to report that I don't appear to be entirely irreplaceable, but mostly I'm relieved to report that they did great, Dalton napped (briefly anyway), and screaming was minimal.

Dalton conked out at 7:30 tonight, which is much earlier than usual, probably because he slept less during the day than usual. So we had dinner (sort of in shifts, since Tim had dinner ready while I was still nursing Dalton) and are now about to open presents. Yeah, Christmas presents. This is about when we do it most years.

This week's other big news is that Dalton just got off the wait-list for the Montessori school, and he's starting there on Monday. They sent me home today with a huge shopping list and pile of forms to fill out, including one that his pediatrician (who is on maternity leave) is supposed to sign. That's going to be tomorrow's aggravation, I can tell already.

I had my first field session with the breast pump today. I pumped roughly what Tim fed Dalton (and what ran down Dalton's chin) while I was gone, so it looks like the supply/demand ratio is running pretty close to 1.

The photo was taken by Gail last week while we were visiting. This is her sink, not ours. Ours is installed, but we have to do the plumbing to supply it with WATER still, hopefully this weekend. Maybe next week we'll feature a photo in OUR kitchen.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Dalton's First First Class Seat

(Originally posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2007 by Tim)

We traveled to my parents place for New Year?s this year. We took a major airline out of Roanoke, so it has been another comedy of errors. It might be funny if any of the errors were ours.

It?s important to mention that no major airlines actually fly into Roanoke. All the major airlines contract with regional carriers to shuttle passengers from Roanoke to one of their major hubs. To better understand our situation, let?s try a little role playing. Imagine yourself to be a regional carrier. You?re lean and efficient. You know your area and you?ve specialized to serve it. Why on earth would you think about partnering yourself with a big, inefficient, bankruptcy prone sloth like one of the major airlines?

So the efficient regional carriers aren?t partnering with the major airlines. What does that leave? The disorganized and inept refuse whose business is actually helped by partnering with a larger airline. As a result, we never get out of Roanoke on time. This trip was no exception. Our flight was so badly delayed that we switched to the later flight. Unfortunately, the geniuses at Roanoke only managed to retag two of our three bags for the new schedule. Cathy even asked the luggage guy directly and he assured her that he had found all three of our bags and retagged them.

In addition to changing our flight out of Roanoke, we also rebooked our flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. Things must have been bad because the ?United? representative put us on an American flight. We arrived in Chicago with about an hour to spare and ran over to the American gate to be greeted by a long line. I was nervous because we didn?t have boarding passes for the American flight. I was worried that they would be overbooked and we?d end up stuck in Chicago at the end of the day.

We got up to the front of the line and our gate assistant had the look of a polished bureaucrat. He was expressionless and took our tickets without a word. Over the minute he worked on our tickets, the only sound was the occasional clicking of three or four keys on his keyboard. He then scribbled something unintelligible on my ticket and told me that he would call me back up for boarding passes. I asked him if we had seats or not and after a slight pause, he nodded yes.

Now I have little to no experience with American. If it was a United agent, I?d be sure he was lying to me. If it was a Delta agent, I?d have felt a lot better. I was worried that this American agent was just giving me the nod to get me out of the way so he could continue to adeptly strand more people in the Chicago airport. Cathy, was convinced that everything was OK. She assured me that we had tickets, he was just waiting to organize people?s seats. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that we weren?t displayed on the waiting list that was up on the boards. Still, I nervously paced around the gate area with the baby.

After what seemed like two and a half hours (more likely 20 minutes) he called me up right before boarding. He handed me our boarding classes and said, ?I had to put you in first class?. I gave him a stunned thank you and headed back over to Cat. Apparently, he had been waiting to see if anyone on American?s frequent flyer program wanted to upgrade before he gave us those seats. Cathy?s response was, ?Are you happy now?? I was just relieved that we were going to get to Minneapolis in the near future.

Cathy and I have flown first class before. When the flight is domestic, it?s not that big a deal. The seats are bigger and they bring you drinks in a container made of glass. In contrast, first class is a big deal on international flights. The seats recline to make a bed on those flights and the class makes the difference between being able to sleep and not.

This was Dalton?s first first class seat and I thought it appropriate to record the occasion. You can see that he is quite excited about the whole thing.