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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