Saturday, October 9, 2010

Three months later

OK, the picture is only a month or two old. I was on Facebook for a while and it is distraction. OK, I was only sort of on Facebook and I fell off pretty quickly. Dalton, classes, and working out are pretty all consuming. I think I still have a wife somewhere as well. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

I was "helping" Dalton with a workbook today and we had an interaction I felt I needed to share. We were doing exercises that involved classifying. One of these had pictures of a violin, a banjo, a guitar, and a saxophone. Dalton immediately circled the saxophone as not belonging.

Me: Why did you pick that one?

Dalton: It's cold and the others aren't.
(We later learned that cold was really curved. Dalton doesn't really have an "R" and it make him difficult to understand at times.)

Me: Cold?

Dalton: It's cold.

Me: (to Cathy) Mom, can you help us out here?

Cathy: Why is it different?

Dalton: It's cold and the others are not.

Cathy: Cold?

Dalton: It's a woodwind instrument and the others are string instruments.

Later, with hand motions, we learned that the saxophone was also curved.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dalton's Birthday Party

Dalton's birthday party (he's 4) was on the 11th. It was a great success. He had a little over a dozen of his friends attend plus parents. We did art projects, made balloon animals, ate cake, and played in the pool at the Roanoke County recreation center (Greenridge). I have been putting posting off because I've felt I wouldn't be able to adequately describe the experience. I was going over the pictures today (thanks Bana) and I think they do a great job telling the story.

Johann's and Sarisky with balloons before the friends arrive.

Dalton drawing.

Maddie, Hannah, and Zoe (left to right). Oh yeah, a parent and grandparent in the back.

Charlie's Dad making animal balloons (he's quite good) for Charlie, Charlie's sister, and Lucas as Lucas' Nani looks on.

Cathy cutting cake for the mob.

Dalton blowing out is candles. He did it in one attempt.

Dalton and me in the pool. I like the way the pool makes me look thinner (no potbelly).

Dalton and Charlie in the pool.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Along with his other activities at the beach, Dalton had a great time flying his kite. Assuming this posts with sufficient resolution, you can zoom in and see a fuzzy Dalton shape in the lower right hand corner. Thanks to Jim for this photo. We brought our camera and it didn't make it out of the case.

We have been three days free of tantrums. It has been nice. We've been making compromises to keep it that way. There's still a lot of aggressive little boy behavior going on. The refrigerator gets kicked on a regular basis despite repeated entreaties from Cathy and I to the contrary. The volume goes up substantially when he kicks the wall or the dog which has narrowed the behavior. I guess we should continue to protest moderately at the refrigerator abuse and let him have a rebellious outlet.

With the aquisition of several Toy Story Lego sets, Dalton has entered another sensitive period for Legos. He built some of them at the beach, finished the others at home, finished the helicopter from a creator set, and asked what else he could build. The helicopter had been 6 months or so in the making. I pulled out a space shuttle I had made as part of the "build this from these parts game" we had been playing a month or two ago. He then requested another one. I told him I would build another one for him after he went to bed for the next day. It's a fun game although I was somewhat regretting it when I was heading to bed and remembered I still had one to build. He got up this morning and it was the first thing he asked about which was nice.
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Thursday, July 1, 2010


We've been at the beach with Cathy's side of the family this week. It's been fun to see everyone. The picture is of Dalton building sand castles (thanks Jim!). This was a relaxing moment for Cathy and me. We weren't there.

Parts of the last two weeks have been anything but relaxing. Dalton has entered a sensitive phase for tantrums. He's working hard on them. He has been averaging one a day for the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it's been more like two a day with break days with none at all. Those double tantrum days can be pretty tough.

Yesterday, we had an early tantrum (I don't even remember what over) and then one before bed. The one before bed was over a refusal to brush teeth for the fourth day in a row. It consisted of Dalton literally screaming at the top of his lungs about how he needed to get to bed for over 90 minutes straight. Our philosophy on these things is to wait them out whenever possible. We don't always have that kind of time or patience, but how do you force a kid to brush his teeth (or let you brush his teeth) anyway?

After much drama (did I mention 90+ minutes) Dalton finally let Cathy brush his teeth and was in bed shortly after. About a half hour later, he had cheered up substantially. He left the bedroom following a very cranky Cathy exclaiming, "Guess what Dad? Mom forgot to brush her teeth."

So, he understands irony.

Why doesn't he understand that if he spends one minute brushing his teeth, we could all get to sleep an hour and a half earlier?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Someone sleeps like a rock.

This picture is from Saturday right after my last post. I walked loudly into the bedroom to check on Dalty. When he didn't stir, I decided to noisily take some laundry downstairs. Still no response. I then proceeded to put the dry clothes on the line on our back porch away. I rattled the clothes hangers, I opened all the windows, I stomped around, all to no avail. Finally, I resorted to laying next to Dalty and quietly talking directly to him until he woke up.

He proceeded to slowly wake up over a half hour or so. Unfortunately, he also gradually transitioned into an hour long meltdown over Cathy not being around. It was essentially an hour of "I want Mommy right now!" Cathy was on the phone for some of it. After much effort, I was able to get him downstairs and eating some things and he felt much better.

Other than the hour after the nap, it was a wonderful Dalton and Dad day. I wonder how it will go next time we suggest that Cathy will be out for a day or more? He didn't demand that Cathy not go anywhere ever again when she got back. There was a lot of nursing to make up for lost time though.
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

He is asleep!

OK, so the picture has nothing to do with the title. Cathy is out of town for the day, possibly overnight and it is just me and Dalton. We've had a good day so far. I even managed to get him to take a nap. I was successful with the "lie quietly for 45 minutes and then you can get up" thing. He fell asleep somewhere between 15 minutes and 45 minutes (I was asleep for that half hour).

After I woke up, I had another reminder of how boring I am. I was trying to think of what to do with my precious hour of time to myself and I decided to clean up the kitchen. Sigh!

The best title for the picture would be "experiments in bouyancy". Dalton had two balloons. One had enough helium left to float and the other did not. He and I played around with the string until we hit neutral bouyancy for the combination of the two. It also was a great opportunity to work on the concept that the bigger object isn't always the heavier one (otherwise known as density). We couldn't get the crayon and the white balloon to float with any amount of string.

Oh, I figured that I would post a quick birthday alert. Toy Story opens in six days. Dalton has been talking about this for the last six months since he realized that he could actually request gifts for his birthday. Tuesday, we were eating dinner at the thai restaurant and Dalton saw someone playing a violin or fiddle on the TV. He said, "Can I have a violin." We both responded something to effect of "Sure, would you like one for your birthday." Dalton almost cut us off in his reply, " I want Woody and Jessie..." only to be drowned out by our laughing. We assured him that he would get the Toy Story Lego set. We'll get him an appropriate sized violin as well if we get our act together.

So...if you're a grandparent and you'd like to get him Woody's Roundup, you have something like three days to order it. After that, I'm buying one in Target because there is no way I'm going to let myself get caught trying to explain the concept of backorder to Dalton. It could be a beat up some other parent in the parking lot of Walmart for their Lego set level situation once Toy Story is out.

If you do order it, please take it off his wish list.

Time to wake the pumpkin up. We're going on two hours of nap here and he'll never get to sleep tonight if I don't take action.
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

My first balloon animal

Dalton had his graduation last Friday. He wasn't graduating anything. He will be in the same classroom next year. However, despite my bad attitude going in (I now have to go to two graduations a year), I thought it was a pretty fun event. They had face painting, a magic show, several craft activities, and balloon animals. I had cooked a new noodles and tofu recipe I made up in double quantities for the potluck. Unfortunately we left it at home (30 minutes away). You can guess what we have been eating all weekend.

It's a good thing I like the recipe. I'll have to post it some time.

I'm not sure why, but I decided to learn how to make balloon animals on Saturday morning. This was reinforced when Dalton accidentally popped his from the night before.

It turns out the balloons are not easy to come by. We found them in Blacksburg at a place called Party Central. I had the choice of buying 100 for $15 or buying them for $0.20 each. I figured I'd be tired of playing with them by the time I hit 20 so I just bought $4 worth.

Little did I know that Cathy would take an interest as well. We sat down as a family and watched some instructional videos. Dalton had a great time trying to blow them up, making requests and playing with the results. The floor is littered with dogs, giraffes, snakes, and several balloon hats we have been required to wear. Needless to say, the 20 balloons ran out quite fast and Party Central isn't open on Sundays or during non-work hours. Maybe I can find a different source near work.

Surprisingly to me, balloon animals aren't that difficult to make. There are lots of ways to make difficult animals, but dogs and cats and other things with four legs, ears, and a tail aren't bad at all.

Pictured is a dog. Notice the long neck?
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

7 days without...

First there was 28 Days Later. Then there was 30 Days of Night. There was even a 100 Days with Mr Arrogant. Well, we're currently living through 7 Days Without Nap. The picture at left was from mid-morning. I took it before the "no more than 10 hours of sleep a night for an entire week" started to show. I'm pretty sure the quoted phrase in the previous sentence is the scientific term for a phycological disorder in toddlers.

That's a shadow, not dirt on his nose. Dirt, however, is usually the best guess.

It really hasn't been that bad a week. Most of it has been free of tantrums and crying. However, the lack of sleep has certainly shown at times.

Another fun interaction was when we were in the car talking about going to the Kabuki (a Japanese steakhouse). Cathy had some leftovers from a job candidate dinner and Dalton had expressed interest.

Me: Dalton, would you like to go to the Kabuki?

Dalton: Yeah!

Cathy: Dad, do you want to go to the Roanoke or Christiansburg Kabuki?

Me: Christiansburg. The other one is alot more driving and we can let TY out this way.

Dalton: I want to go to the Roanoke Kabuki (he's never been there).

Me: Dalton, we're not going there. It is the same restaurant. This will be less time for you in the car seat and we can let TY out.

Dalton: I want to go to the Roanoke Kabuki!

Me: Why do you want to go to the Roanoke Kabuki instead of the Christiansburg Kabuki. You've never been to the Roanoke Kabuki.


Me: How are they different?

Dalton: I WANT TO!

Imagine 10 minutes of this and you get the picture. We did go to the Christiansburg Kabuki and Dalton had a great time.

The Lego game has been going pretty well. Mostly, I have been building something at night when he is in bed and laying out an identical set of pieces for him to use to match it. Today, we made two trucks together that were study enough to survive the slides at the park. I'm thinking of setting up a separate web site for pictures of the things we build. There seems to be a dearth of simple Lego builds on the internet. Maybe I can get some sort of community of Lego building families going.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So the title and the picture have nothing to do with one another. I tried to get a few pictures of Dalton this evening, but he was showing the standard Johann photogenicity. Did I just make up a word? I have a Ph.D. so I get to do that. It's one of the many things I learned in graduate school. Not how to make up words, but that I get to do it.

Hmm...where was I? Writing is sometimes like herding cats for me. Or would it be like herding cat? It could be like herding TY. Dog senility is an interesting thing to watch. Not pretty, but interesting. I'd honestly be keeping a straight chain of thought here but I have to keep getting up to make sure he's not stuck behind a door. A closed door I could understand, but he gets stuck behind open doors.

He's an old dog. He's 14 cycles which is something on the order of 105 in dog years. I find the differences in aging between dogs and humans facinating. Dogs have something like 1/8 the lifespan of humans so it makes sense that things might start to go earlier. However, everything doesn't start to go. My guess is that the systems that deteriorate are energetically expensive. I'm basing this on the assumption that natural selection has weeded out dogs with brains that last 50 years in a body that is good for 15. The energy involved is better spent elsewhere. Of course, one could argue that dogs have been selected more by humans than nature. Perhaps the dog brain has adapted to tolerating humans day in and day out without going postal.

So dog brains go early and dog genetic repair systems go early (cancer). Dog bones, however, don't seem to go early. TY has fallen two feet off my bed onto the hardwood floor twice in the last month. If this happened to a 105 year old human, he or she would be in the hospital with one or more broken bones. It seems that bones are somehow less expensive to maintain. I wouldn't be surprised if a vet or bone doctor could blow a bunch of holes in this argument. This is all rampant speculation (translation: making stuff up). Of course, I get to do that (see paragraph 1).

Cathy might be able to tear down the arguement as well. I think she got most or all of the points on the osteoporosis questions on the practice MCAT. That section was an anathema to me. It's also the only reason she tied me on that section of the test...but I'm not bitter.

So anyhoo...the picture is of Dalton working on a project from the Easter basket that Bana and Papa sent him. You can also see bags of treats next to him. The amazing thing about Dalton and treats is that he forgets about them. He'll come home with some big haul of candy from a school event. We will reluctantly let him have one treat a day from his stash for a day or so and then one of us will place the candy in a cupboard. In most cases, he'll forget it's there.

I'm in so much trouble once he learns to read these posts.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

The new game

This is my latest attempt at a new game to play with Dalton. His interest in larger Lego sets has sharply declined. Well, it's not exactly like that. He likes to have a large set out. He likes to initiate work on it. However, once we sit down, perhaps one step actually gets done (less if he is tired). I'm not sure if it's too difficult or he doesn't want to focus or what.

So I was thinking that we have this huge box of Legos and he generally enjoys smaller projects. My latest game idea goes like this.

1. He and I start out with bags containing identical Lego pieces.
2. One of us builds something.
3. The other copies it.

We've maybe played this three times. The first time he copied the little car I had built in about ten seconds while I was distracted.

"Hey Dad! Look out the window!" Whomp! Little car copied.

The second time, he built this elaborate spacecraft buggy thing. I should have gotten a picture of that. With my luck it wont happen again.

The third time, he dumped the two bags of Legos that I had painstakingly matched for the game into one combined pile and built another elaborate vehicle. I have to say that I admired the creativity, but I wasn't excited about separating the Legos into two bags later. Dalton, I've got this great idea for a new game. Sigh!

It's very reminiscent of me trying to get him to play concentration with an alphabet card deck. My evil plan was to play concentration in front of him and hope he became interested. It worked once. The next time, he collected the cards and said "Let's play Dominion". Dominion is a card game that he has seen Cathy and I play with each other and also at parties. I highly recommend it. However, Dalton understands the rules to be that you flip over cards and call out their funny names. This is pretty much what concentration quickly turned into for us. For a short while, I was able to get him to read the words that I spelled with my funny named cards. He rapidly caught on that there was educational content masquerading as play.

What you see above is my latest attempt. I put it together when Cathy had taken Dalton to Burger King to play on the slides. Keep in mind that this whole Burger King thing has turned into less a play on the slides thing and more a "I get apple juice and maybe some fries" thing.

I think you might be seeing the pattern here. I'm hoping this game catches on with him, but I think it's more likely he'll convert it to something I'm not anticipating.
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've died and gone to heaven!

OK, maybe not but I laughed for about five minutes when I started reading this article.

...and yes, I am going to have to eat at least one of these once they are out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dalton in his Roanoke College colors

OK, so the title is misleading. The wig isn't actually a Roanoke College wig. The color, however, is a good match. Dalton and I spent the afternoon at the Virginia Tech Math Emporium Mall. In case you haven't seen it, this place has all the features of one of those small malls that everyone forgot. Except that it is adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus and the school filled one end of it with computers and desks. I guess they run their math labs online in this area which is aptly named the Math Emporium. At the other end of the mall, is an official VT bookstore. In between is a private gym, a really good coffee shop, and a series of other shops and restaurants that you wouldn't recognize. It's likely that most of those indistinct shops would not exist if it were not for the steady stream of potential customers strolling by on their way for their daily dose of math. Even with this potential audience, the shops don't seem to prosper.

Regardless, we're pretty glad the mall is there. It has a number of fountains and some good space to run around. The bookstore has a children's section where we read books and bathrooms to go potty (critical). Dalty loves to throw pennies into the fountains. I used to ration them out to him to make the experience last several minutes. Of late, he has been holding the pennies and so they tend to go in handfuls at a time. Dalton is not much into delayed gratification.
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The mall also has a number of large ceramic turkeys that have been decorated in various different ways. I took several pictures of Dalton in front of the one covered in Legos (his favorite) today.

We've also had some success in getting Dalty interested in words of late. My trick has been to start watching MY videos. Dalton gets to choose two videos to watch on the computer in the morning and two at night. These are short things of five minutes or less. When the word videos were new, he chose those. When they were displayed on Grandma and Grandpa's huge TV, he chose them. At home, he chooses some ABC music videos put out by They Might be Giants. I've managed some traction by watching my word videos separate from his videos. So far, he has sat down and watched my videos with me. He has resisted (as always) the reading of the words at the end of the video. However, if I read them incorrectly, I can get him to correct me on the ones that he knows. We will see how long it lasts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Legos

This isn't an epiphany to anyone who knows Dalton, but it was obvious this weekend that he hasn't avoided the "Industrial Movie Character Complex". We've been building a Lego fire truck that I received for Christmas this weekend. I've been holding off getting it out in hopes that the "sensitive period" for Legos would end and be replaced with a "sensitive period" for reading. In the meantime, Dalton has been pointing at previous sets we have put together and started asking if we could take them apart and put them back together. I had been thinking about this and decided that the whole philosophy behind sensitive periods is you go with them rather than try to change them to preferred topics. Besides, if he ends up an engineer instead of a writer, I’m not going to complain.

Having made up my mind to get out the fire truck this weekend, I was surprised to find Cathy and Dalton playing with it when we got up. We were working on it yesterday when an interesting conversation took place.

Dalton: Why did Bana and Papa buy you this fire truck?

Me: I asked them for it because I thought it would be fun to put it together with you.

Dalton: Why do you ask for presents?

Me: Well, people who want to buy you presents like to know what you want so they buy something you like.


Dalton: I want the Lego set with Woody and Jessie for Christmas.

This would be the first time he’s asked for a specific gift for a holiday. It took a few questions to figure out what he was talking about. The Toy Story Lego set he’s asking for is one that we saw with him in Walmart.

That was an interesting experience.

He was running out of Legos so we stopped off at Walmart on the way home to pick up a Creator set for him. We had our eye on two of the small ones. He immediately ran over to the Toy Story set. After some intense negotiation, we talked him into two of the small Creator sets.

Wait a minute, we won. How did that happen?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big Bird goes caving

We've been playing hide and seek in various forms at Grandma and Grandpa's house. One form involves taking the Fisher Price figures and hiding them somewhere in the house. Dalton hid Big Bird in an opening in the brick wall behind Grandma and Grandpa's wood stove a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, there's a space between the real wall and the brick that protects it from thje stove. I'm sure there's a design reason for this. It probably involves water. I'm going to hazard a guess that the holes in this wall aren't even decorative.

Ok, I gave in and included a picture below that was taken by the in house security cameras before the incident.

In any case, when Dalton went to retrieve Big Bird, he accidentally bumped him into the space behind the brick wall. Dalton was upset although not meltdown upset. Cathy, who is the only adult with small enough hands to reach in the holes, tried to retrieve the fowl fellow. Unfortunately, the bird wasn't game. Several kilograms of mortar later, Cathy gave up. Dalton was worried about his feathered friend and wanted us to talk for him. Dalty asked questions like, "Are you alright down there?" "Are you cozy?" "Do you have a blanket?". It was quite touching to listen to his concern. I was thinking Dalton was going to start asking to throw supplies into the crevice after him, but he didn't think of it. I also avoided the temptation to suggest it as it has been my experience that my sense of humor is not always appreciated. Big Bird likes bananas, no?

Dalton did decide to stuff a washcloth in the hole so that no one else would accidentally fall down it.

Later in the day, Cathy's parents came home and Grandma and I took Dalton to the park. While we were out, Cathy and her Dad mounted a rescue mission with mirrors and Romex. I'd relate the details, but it brings back memories of our rewiring our house. I don't think we can afford the costs of therapy and marriage counseling involved in reliving that experience. We at least cannot afford that and sending Dalton to college and going to the local coffee shop five times a week. One must look out for the important things in life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Break

This is our week for Spring Break at Roanoke College so we're visiting Cathy's parents. The trip actually represents a surprising level of conventional and rational behavior for us. We actually went to Florida when it was cold outside.

Dalton is having a great time. He's pictured here showing his Great Grandpa Art how to blow up a balloon. The balloon is actually already blown up and left over from Art's 85th birthday party.

We also found a dead rat today. It didn't faze Dalton at all. His reaction was...well I don't remember the exact words, but it was akin to "Hey! Look at that." I suppose an aversion to dead animals is an acquired trait...even for vegetarians.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Howdy! Long time no post. I've been waiting for inspiration. I suppose some blame could be placed on various video game addictions as well. Anyhow, I figured I'd get a picture up of Dalton. He's continuing to grow. Here he is jumping on the mattress in the nursery. In most people's homes, this is the place where the infant sleeps in a crib. Eventually, the infant grow up some and it gets converted into their bedroom.

This is, of course, our house. The nursery finally got some use as a bedroom this month. Not surprisingly, it's use involved pulling in a mattress, Cathy, and TY. I even joined the rest of the family in there a few times. It is quite a warm little room.

I think I was posting about all Dalton's new words last December. We had him playing word games and watching educational word videos. I figured he'd be taking over the posting come February.

Since then we have gone into a word drought. Dalton has shown no interest in words until the last week. We managed to catch his interest by playing some games with letters. Essentially, I have a set of cards with letters that I turn over and use to play concentration. I managed to grab Dalton's interest and he started playing with me. It wasn't words, but it worked memory so I was happy.

Dalton then changed the rules of the game. Now we have to get the cards out and put them in piles of matching letters. We then draw the letters one at the time and call them by names that are related to a card game he has seen us play at parties (Dominion). I draw an "A" and call it an "Estate". He calls an "E" and calls it an "Ironworks". I would draw letters in order and spell words on my side of the table. Dalton tried to take draw some of my letters and I made the game more educational by requiring that he tell me what word he was drawing it from. This lasted about one game before he realized I was attempting to teach him something and he started demanding I steal his letters instead. Sigh! He's a bright kid. He catches on very quickly when I'm trying to make something an educational activity. I also have a terrible poker face.

Oh well, he's bound to hit another sensitive period for words sometime. Maybe it will be when he's through with his current sensitive period for sewing and cooking.
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