Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dalty health and Tantive IV updates

Dalton has continued to heal from his fall on Monday. The swelling peaked on Friday. While we still have all sorts of interesting colors in and on his face, the shape of his face is approaching normal.

We had an additional scare yesterday when Dalton woke up with a substantial limp and refused to walk in the morning. Cathy got on the phone with our family doctor who told us to give him ibuprofen and see if it improves. He steadily improved over yesterday and there is no sign of limp today.

We don't know what happened with the limp. Friday was date night so Dalton was at school until about 8:30 pm. He was lying down in a room with a bunch of other kids watching a movie when we arrived. He complained lightly about his leg hurting on the way home and then more so over the sleeping hours. We initially assumed that his overalls were too tight. He claimed that a hammer hit him or a friend made a hammer with his or her hand and hit him while he was laying down at school. There was no mark. We assume he pulled something somehow. We'll ask at school tomorrow, but he is better in any case.

Hopefully, next week will go better. We essentially had our biggest injuries for the year packed into last week.

We've been working on the Tantive IV over the last week and competed it on Saturday. It was a fun activity for Dalton and I. I think it has contributed to a substantial increase in my popularity this week. Dalton has been requesting I sit in the back seat with him on our trips to and from school. I have also started talking through a horse puppet with him during some of our playtime. That has been a huge hit. He tells me I do the voice right (did I mention my sore throat). Today has been pretty much chain demands to play with Horsie. It has been great for learning words as that is Horsie's favorite game. We've added "boy" and "girl" to his vocabulary today.

So here are the pictures of our progress on the Tantive IV over the past week. Dalton placed over half the bricks.

Oh, we're a no guns family so if Dalton asks, those turrets are hair dryers.



No Work on Friday (Date Night)

Saturday (Extra bricks are in front)

Monday, December 7, 2009

LEGO update

Here is today's update on the Tantive IV.

I wish I could say that this was the big event of the day. Dalton fell down at school and hit his head on the concrete. School called me (they never call). When I arrived to pick him up, he had the biggest bump I have ever seen in the middle of his forehead. It was scraped up and bloody for extra effect. We picked up Cathy and headed out immediately to see our pediatrician.

While it looked really bad and Dalton was very upset, he was also very lucid. Our doctor did the standard neurological tests for a 3 year old (how old are you, can you spell your name, what's the square root of negative one) and Dalton seemed fine. He sent us off with advice not to panic if Dalton had black eyes or discoloration on his neck in the next week or two.

In any case, he was completely his normal self tonight including being a turkey about bedtime. We even made some good progress on the Tantive IV.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More LEGOs

We have a long and distinguished history of opening Christmas gifts early in our house (provided they are LEGOs). The latest installment is shown at the left.

I haven't quite been bitten by the LEGO bug like Cathy has, however, I do think the Tantive IV is cool. Not having any better large gift ideas for Christmas and under a constant barrage of requests to update my list, I asked Cathy for this set.

Cathy bought this and my big LEGO gift for her during the Black Friday sales. The two sets arrived in the mail shortly after and I broke mine out on Sunday. It has turned into very nice Dalton and Daddy time. I generally pick out the LEGOs and he puts them on. I'd say he's placed over 60% of the LEGOS so far.

Here's a picture of Sunday's progress. The figures aren't supposed to be in it yet, but Dalton wanted them there. It has already been flying around the room despite the lack of thrusters. I'm thinking of daily updates as long as he's interested.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


We are currently receiving an abundance of snow. This resulted in our annual ritual of building a snow family. Poor TY never seems to get his own snowman. Maybe we'll go back out and rectify that later. You will notice that we went all out this year and even sprung for carrots.

Dalton had a great time. In addition to the snow family he made snow angles, snow people and snow brooms. He also helped shovel and sweep the walk.

For those of you who are global warming skeptics, please note that the arms are branches from our rose bushes with full blooms on them. It has been quite the warm winter thus far.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

D is for drum!

Well, that was disappointing. I spent way too much time combining five pictures of Dalton drumming on a box into an animated gif; only to have blogger change the format or some such and it won't display. Sigh!

Fortunately, living with a toddler has given me a whole new perspective on time needing to be productive.

I don't quite have Cathy's level of obsessive "keep at some technical problem until it works". However, 2 hours later, I did manage a work around with the movie below. It's not the looped like I really wanted, but it will have to do.

Dalton was in a drumming mood this morning. This was during the good hour and a half of "Dad and Dalton" time after we woke up. Cathy snuck out at 7 am for some uninterrupted time at the fabric store. She was there yesterday in the heat of Black Friday madness. In addition to the long lines and the whining to go home, I'm told the following conversation also occurred.

Dalton: "This yellow fabric would be good for a lion costume!"
Cathy: "It's after Halloween. We're not making a lion costume."
Dalton: "I know that."

(some time passes)

Dalton: "These black buttons would make great eyes for a lion costume!"
Cathy: "You were a penguin for Halloween. We're not making a lion costume."
Dalton: "I know that."

(some more time passes)

Dalton: "Let's pick out a pattern for a lion costume."
Cathy: "We're not making a lion costume."
Dalton: "I know that."

I can't imagine why she felt the need to slip out early this morning. I think she said something about Cricut cartridges.

Dalton woke up pretty much right after Cathy left and yelled for mommy. There was a couple of weeks a year or so ago where he would yell for mommy and daddy, but even then he meant mommy.

He was less than pleased to find that mommy was out and wasn't going to be back for a while. His response was to kick me out of bed and wail for 20 minutes straight. It was actually convincing at the beginning, but evolved its way to forced. We keep telling him he needs acting lessons, but he hasn't caught on yet.

Wow! I don't sound like a very sympathetic parent here. I assure you that I have seen them played by actors on TV.

I did feel bad for him, but I also think waking up without mommy being there is a skill he needs to start working on. Next time, we will let him know it will happen the night before.

He cheered up and we had some fun play for about an hour and a half until he hit his head on the wall 5 minutes before Cathy got home.

Our housekeeper came over and vacuumed, dusted, and scrubbed today. She normally shows up on Thursday, but Cathy pushed her visit back due to Thanksgiving. We cleared out for most of the 3+ hours she was here. Our late morning adventures involved the Mall, Michaels, and Target.

While we were at the Mall, I noticed that Dalton can do algebra. He normally rides the cars and a carousel. The cars cost two quarters and the carousel costs one. Today he asked how many quarters we had. After learning we had four, he stated "I can ride the horse (carousel) two times and the car one time." I was pretty impressed.

Another thing that has been going on is that he is in "a sensitive period for language". That's fancy Montessori speak for he's interested in words right now. He now has about 15 words he can read and spell. It seems that he's picking up an extra word or two every day. Here's my recollection of the current list.


Hmmm, I think there are more. Cathy would be able to give a better account, but she's currently trying to get him to sleep.

You might have noticed that we have been teaching him words we normally spell out in front of him. While it is a sacrifice to parental sanity, reseach shows that people learn best when things are most relevant. Besides, I can always talk about the grand excavation that has been sealed and filled with a dilute aqueous solution of sodium hypochlorite.

*Papa will note that he's the first grandparent to make the list. He, of course, has a level of difficulty advantage over Grandma and Grandpa. However, it would be reasonable to gloat around Bana.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


So I'm a big slacker for not getting this up earlier. Cathy asked Dalton what he wanted to be for Halloween and he said "a penguin". We couldn't find any penguin costumes for sale so Cathy proved her awesomomness by sewing this for him. He was quite the hit at the mall getting many ooohs and aaahs.

We managed to dodge the bullet on the candy handout again this year. He was watching the other kids line up to have things put in bags while we were there, but he didn't ask about it. I would expect that this was our last candy free year.

Cathy was critical of her work in that she thought she made the costume too large. I think it looks great. If it is too big, maybe he'll want to be a penguin next year.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

We're back!

We had a good time visiting Cathy's parents in Florida this week. Cathy's Dad picked up on part of our reason for going right away. FREE DALTY SITTING! For some reason, our immediate logging on to the computer or reading books as soon as we arrived (while letting Dalty run amok) was a tip off. Go figure.

I goofed around too much on the computer, Cathy got some good grading in, and Dalty had a blast with Grandma and Grandpa.

Cathy also got to visit her friend Ligia and her one week old daughter Isabel.

We also established that Dalty is still not ready for all day car rides. We spent two days getting down to Florida and two days coming back. I'm going to have to think about whether we drive or fly next time. That TY got to join us made it worthwhile for this trip. I don't know if I'll feel the same way next time.

The most we drove in one day was about 6.5 hours. That's 6.5 hours of driving. We paid for it with perhaps 50% of that time again on various stops. Dalton has figured out that all he has to do is say "I have to go potty" and he gets a stop. We haven't dared try pushing that one as cleaning the car seat is a Herculean task.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009


We went to the Pumpkin Festival last weekend and picked out a couple of nice ones. When we got home, Dalton and I immediately carved this one and he and Cathy baked the seeds. Dalton was reluctant to pull the guts out because they were "icky". This from the kid who is often coated in a layer of mud when picked up from school. Go figure.

Probably 20 seconds after we finished this one, Dalton started asking to carve the other pumpkin. Cathy and I have been able to hold him at bay so far as we'd like to not have two pumpkins rotting in the house at the same time. We're driving down to Grandma and Grandpa's house this next week so the pictured Jack-O-Lantern is going to need to go in the trash soon (or come with us God forbid).

I've been appeasing Dalton by telling him that Grandma and Grandpa would love to carve a pumpkin with him each day while we visit. I'd love to help, but I'll be grading :)
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hide and Seek

Dalton and I played a little bit of "Hide and Seek" yesterday. It started with one of our more familair games. I guess I'd call it "Dad wins tug-o-war and runs around yelling woo woo." This one works pretty much like the title. Dalton and I play tug-o-war with a birth card of his that has a ribbon attached (you will have to ask him why). He lets me win and then I run around the upstairs with it yelling "Woo! Woo!" while he chases me giggling. Yesterday I decided to get out of eyeshot and hide somewhere. He would come into the room looking for me calling "Daddy! Where are you?" I'd wait until he left the room and then yell "Woo! Woo!" until he came back and eventually found me.

At one point, Dalton decided that he was going to hide. He told me to wait until he was hidden and then count to three. Dalton then went off to hide in Gram's room (the guest bedroom). Cathy was up and following him around to make sure he didn't go anywhere off limits like the bathroom closet. After counting to three, I headed out in the hall towards Gram's room. Cathy was there and said, "Maybe you should try the bedroom (master bedroom)." I assume that she was trying to draw things out for extra suspense. At that point a little voice chirps in from the guest bedroom "Gram's room!" I started laughing and wandered in. Dalton was not in sight so I exclaimed, "Where's Dalton?" My reply came from behind the bed, "Behind the bed!" He's clearly got the counting and hiding part of the game down, but I'm not sure he understands what it is all about.

Today's picture really has nothing to do with "Hide and Seek". I wanted to get a picture of the actual game or of tug-o-war yesterday, but he was having none of it. This is him after his first bath of the day. Surprisingly, I got him to willingly let me wash his hair (on the 2nd bath). I can't remember how I did it. I really need to write things like that down.
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Some people watch TV instead...

And of course, you should see the floor.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In goes the dump truck

It's an iconic scene. A parent desperately trying to get an infant or toddler to eat something plays "in goes the ___". We haven't tried this much with Dalty although I can't say what goes on at school. Apparently he feels deprived as last night he started playing it by himself. "Dump truck, dump truck, in my mouth" This is sung to some tune that I can't exactly place.

Note the infant chair (with tray) that he's been insisting on sitting in for the last week despite having unfettered access to adult chairs.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Dalton has rediscovered naps at school. It's funny, one of his teachers commented that a number of his cohort have voted naps back onto the island. I've tried to explain to Dalton that most adults would kill to get a nap in the middle of the day. I might have tranlated this to "give up their treat (chocolate) milk for a nap." I don't have any illusions that he actually listened to me. I expect that the lack of sleep just caught up with him (and his friends).

Dalton is pictured this last weekend when he was in a karate mood. Here we were stacking boxes so he could kick them down. We tried to get the perfect action shot, but we just couldn't get the timing right.

We went out for indian food tonight and I noticed that Dalton is a master of skills needed in academia. Professors often think about something known as the least publishable unit (or LPU). Academia can be publish or perish. This encourages some/many to put the minimal data possible into each paper so as to maximize the number of publications. At the restaurant, we ordered our usual saag paneer (spinach and cheese), chana masala (chickpeas), naan (yummy bread), and a mango lassi (a mango flavored yogurt drink with way too much sugar). We repeatly told Dalton that he could have a sip of mango lassi if he ate some chickpeas and some spinach. Each time, he took a tiny bite of each before asking for the mango lassi (his LEU or least eaten unit).
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Put the camera away Dad

It used to be so easy to take pictures of Dalton. All good things won't last forever I suppose. Not only has he replaced the natual smile with the forced "cheese" but he often doesn't want his picture taken. Here we have a "train" or a set of benches that sit next to where the train goes by. I'm not sure. It seemed to keep changing.

Note the lack of pants which is the status quo around here. Today we actually have long pants and no shirt going. He's been in the mood to kick boxes around so perhaps it is his karate outfit. I suppose it makes a good balance to yesterday (Talk Like a Pirate Day).

We are having a good weekend here. Yesterday was the "Daniel Boone ripped us off" festival in downtown Christiansburg. It was bigger than in past years which was nice to see. Regardless, it didn't impact our Saturday all that much. We did our normal coffee shop then library morning. Dalton didn't express an interest in the blow up bouncy room or the pony rides at the festival and we weren't going out of our way to get him on them. He'll actually get a chance at the blow up bouncy room this Friday at Roanoke College.

Dalty spent much of yesterday putting together a new Lego house with Mom. Cathy caught the Lego Green Grocer on sale and sent me a frantic email to order it for her for Christmas. I think it sat in the house for a whole 18 hours before being opened. It's partly my fault. I unpacked it because I wanted the shipping box for cardboard recycling. Once it was visible, it became unresistable (to Cathy).
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

No Nap Dalton

For the last two or three weeks, Dalton has gone to 90% no nap. It's been a long time since he has napped reliably at home, however, he used to get a regular nap at school. He minimally has to lie quietly for 45 minutes there and he's decided that the minimum is his best available option.

The new schedule has some benefits. He generally goes to bed sometime between 7 and 8 pm. This allows Cathy and I some adult time to play computer games or board games or maybe even very occasionally to clean the house.

One less optimal effect of a paucity of nap is that he starts getting crazy around 6 pm. Sometimes it is aggressive crazy with throwing things and hitting. Sometimes it is cranky crazy and meltdowns occur. Sometimes it is silly crazy or staggery crazy. Tonight it was jump on (or off) the furniture crazy.

Dalton started by jumping off his stool (about 6 inches high). I had to jump off it too as part of the game. He then moved up to jumping off of his crib (does it count as a crib if he's never slept in it?). He wanted me to jump off this too, but I declined on grounds I was too heavy and the crib is too cheap. I suggested that maybe we would want to jump off the coffee/game/craft table (shown in Figure 1) in the playroom. We jumped off this a few times with Dalton upping the ante by requiring spins in the air. Then he discovered that he could leap from the coffee table to the couch. We had about 15 minutes of this with him even timing his leaps so I could get some action shots. Go go flying toddler!
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 Johann's looking photogenic

I was setting up the digital picture frame in my office today and I came across this picture. It's really a great one of my parents with Dalton. This is frankly amazing when you think about it. Johann's are notorious for taking bad pictures. I have two wedding albums to prove it.

I generally have 5 pictures taken of me for any occasion in hopes that one will be acceptable.

Dalton used to have these perfectly natural smiles whenever he realized that we were taking his picture. Somewhere in his twos, genetics took over and they became the forced rictus that we Johanns are well known for.

To emphasize the improbability of this picture, lets do some math.

Assume that there is a 20% chance (overestimated I assure you) that any given Johann will have a moderately natural facial expression in a given picture.

If you have three Johanns in a picture then your odds of everyone looking natural are...

20% x 20% x 20% = 0.8%

So, if you want a good picture of 3 Johanns, you should plan to take over 100 shots to get it. Of course, one of us is likely to go berserk around shot 12.

Bon Appetit

We were eating dinner last night and Dalton took a fancy to my wine glass. I can't remember how he asked. It was probably somewhere between, "May I have water in a glass like yours?" and "I want that glass now!" (accompanied by the throwing of objects and turning lobster red).

The title reminded me that they do a blessing song before eating at school. I think it goes as follows.

"Oh, the Lord is good to me. I thank him for the sun (Son?) and the rain and the apple tree. Oh, the Lord is good to me."

I'm not sure that Dalton understands "the Lord" part of the blessing. He says something more like "Gamore" which I'm pretty sure is a villain monster in one of the old Godzilla movies. Given that interpretation, it might still be an accurate blessing.

I've been trying to get him to replace the blessing with "Ruba dub dub. Let's eat some grub." He insists that we do not eat "grubs". Apparently they are something a kin to tomatoes and peppers in his world.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Upper Limit of My Artistic Abilities

The snow was sticky enough that I could actually do arms. Dalton demanded snow bears. These are on the opposite side of the house from the snowmen so we have to walk from one side to the other to look out the windows at the snow things outside.
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Dalton's First Snowmen

So we had some snow fall today. It was five or so inches and right around freezing which made it perfect for making snowmen. Both Dalton and Cathy hadn't had the experience of making snowmen before and a good time was had by all. I personally had remembered snow being heavier. I haven't been working out so it's not that I'm pumped up.

Sorry for the radio silence on the blogs. I was emailing with a friend (Kris) earlier in the year lamenting the fact that I wasn't feeling creative enough to get the family letter out for Christmas. He said I should just update the blog more often. I decided to compromise and not do either. Go figure.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Loooong week

This has been one of those weeks that wouldn't end. It was the first week of classes, so I had students piling into my office to discuss the schedule changes I'd hoped they'd make over break at the start of the week, a new course and a course with a new book to prep for, meeting back to back MWF, an AI case (academic integrity - never fun), and on Thursday, my pre-tenure review dossier was due. It came in at 199 pages. That's NOT to say that I wrote 199 pages all at once, since quite a bit of it was just compiling stuff I had, but still. On Tuesday, I discovered that somehow about half (i.e. 100 pages) of it was having some weird template issue, and so about every third line was either a different size or a different font. Which doesn't sound like it'd be hard to fix, until you understand that the packet included things like exams with funky characters and stuff, so it wasn't like I could just select all and set it all to the same font and size. Thank Dog I had a back-up from Friday. Ultimately, it was a big cut-and-paste extravaganza, as I debated whether or not to fix the content or to fix the formatting.

Yes, I know Word has a "compare" function that would have made it easy to find two days of changes. Unfortunately, Word won't compare master documents. I could have compared subdocuments, but only about 20% of my text was actually in subdocuments. Note to self: either (a) never use subdocuments again (thus not having a master), or (b) keep absolutely all of the text within the subdocuments.

Anyway, I got it done, I got it printed, I got it hole punched, collated, typed tabs and got them into dividers, and dropped it on my chair's chair at 6pm on Thursday (no one having said anything about WHEN on Thursday it was due), with some pithy note about leaving her a little light reading...

The only thing that I don't like about the finished document is that I accidentally set the margins to mirror, thinking I was going to print it 2-sided, and then I decided that might annoy the promotion committee, so I didn't, but it means my left margin is different on half of the pages. It's only a 1/4 inch, and we just got a department-wide email asking us to reduce copying, so I just left it.

I should have given back some graded pharm chem homeworks today, but I told them that I'd had a 200 page (ok, I exaggerated) document due the day before, and that they'd just have to understand. Now I have two sets of pharm chem and a set of organic chem homework to grade this weekend. At least its the first week, so my lab section hasn't turned in any work, or else I'd have even more work piled up.

Pharm chem seems to be going well - I'm enjoying having a class full of people who are (at least mostly) there specifically because they thought it might be interesting.

We went for dinner on campus tonight. Dalton ate ice cream and part of an apple, and two bites of potato-cheese soup. (Actually, I'm not sure it was two bites - it might have been one.) There's a reason we don't go there very often - ever since he figured out they have ice cream and that you can just walk up to the freezer and get it, it's been all over.