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Christmas Eve 2008

Merry Christmas from Dash!

I'm way behind in posting stuff, but Holidays are here.  Check back soon.

Christmas 2008

We opened presents on the morning of the 24th (thanks, all you long-distance contributors!) and headed to Tucson, Arizona, to visit Grandma and Grandpa Stokes who were arriving there that day with Aunt Jojo.  We spent Christmas, Friday and Saturday there.  We spent time and had a couple of dinners with Great Aunt Carolyn and Great Uncle Wally, who flee the Midwestern winters there.  Grandma and Grandpa are going to spend three months there this winter, so hopefully we'll be seeing them a lot.  Aunt Jojo spent a tremendous amount of quality time with Dash.  I think they like each other.

click any of these picture to go to the Christmas 2008 page

Dash is at an interesting age.  Lots of fun, an interesting conversationalist, but also a new level of sophistication to his petulance and manipulation.  He seems to be either very very good or very bad.  He wants what he wants when he wants it.  Hopefully, this year Leigh and I will be able to help him with the idea of cooperation or maybe even obedience.  We can dream, can we not?

After what seemed like three weeks of spotless potty training, it seems like Dash has little preference for wet or dry pants.  He's capable of staying dry but seems to have little interest in remaining so.

Dancing Fool

His big thing now is dancing and strumming his guitar to concert videos.  Primarily Taking Heads "Stop Making Sense" and U2's "Live at Red Rocks" and recently "Rattle and Hum."  He has a tremendous interest in and memory for songs and lyrics.  He'll be doing something and tie into a song.  One night he was doing that constant 3-year old thing:  "Look at me! Look at me" and then change the cadence to match Midnight Oil's "Look at me, oh yeah yeah, look at me, now" from "Only the Strong."  He's always singing U2 stuff and saying he's Bono. 

We're honestly a bit concerned that he's going to want to turn into one of those mullet-wearing eight-year-olds rocker kids.  I'm happy that he likes music and hope to nurture whatever interest he has along those lines and I certainly remember my Goth days in college where I wore nothing but black when I went out.  We both would prefer that he hang out with the nerds; I'm not convinced the jocks are much better behaved than the rockers.  In any case he'll probably wind up better than I did:  I hung with the marching band, without actually being in it.  I'm not sure there's anything more lame than that, though they weren't a bad influence...
Here he is in November imitating the Talking Head's David Bryne's stage antics.  I thought I was off-screen.  I have no shame left, apparently.  

January 10, 2009

Happy New Year!

I've been terrible lately with the updates, eh?  Since I've been focused on providing photos and they take a long time, I've been bad at updates.  I've already forgotten all the charming minutia that's happened over the past few months.  I guess I should focus on capturing the memories and making the photos a little more secondary.

January 11, 2009

After a long bout of rainy, ugly, cold weather, we had some Santa Ana winds that cleared the air and raised the temperatures.  We not only took the boat out with Chantelle, Andy and Julianna, the kids and the ladies went tubing.  Ahhhh, nothing like being cooped up for a while and then a Sunday like yesterday.  Lovely, lovely.

Sunday, January 25, 2009 

Post-holiday blues?  I was printing a couple of day care Christmas pictures when I stumbled over a cute video...  Also, international law dictates that if your kid dresses up in a costume with antlers, you have to post a picture...

Looking back at some old videos, I wish I hadn't turned off the camcorder when Dash would get upset.  In retrospect his meltdowns and tantrums seem quaint, almost cute.  I'll relate this in that same spirit, not to complain but to preserve. 

The Terrible Twos weren't all that terrible.  He did, of course, become aware of the power of the tantrum, but he was reasonably judicious with them.  Maybe Two is the Age of Honing the Skill.  Three seems to be the Age of Using it to Taking Charge.  Pretty much every school morning he'll find something to cry about; sometimes he seems to forget that he should at least pretend to perceive some slight.  Everything must go precisely his way or the hair trigger goes off. 

Don't get the impression that he isn't a joy at times.  Most of the time he is delightful.  But there doesn't seem to be much middle ground anymore.  One extreme or the other.

What gets me riled up is that he clearly knows the difference between right and wrong; he knows when he's messing with us.  It's hard for non-parents to understand that a three-year old is capable of effectively presenting himself as an equal in the family power balance.  I know I'm not the Alpha-member of the family, but, dangit, I'm going take back my Alpha-male status (if everyone is okay with that).

Initially, I had some more anecdotes in this vein, but apparently I'm through venting.

Turning to the more fun stuff...

Dash really likes dancing, singing and strumming his guitar to Talking Heads and U2.  One night we were watching U2's Live from Red Rocks DVD.  Like most of their concerts in the mid-eighties this 1983 concert closes with a song called "40".  The closing refrain is "How long to sing this song?  How long to sing this song?"  The crowd keeps singing it long after the band has left the stage.  Dash knew that after the DVD was bath time.  So as he and I are singing "How long..."  I morphed it over to "How long to take this bath?"  So he and I are singing "How long to take this bath?" as we turn off the TV, climb up the stairs (which is never as simple as it sounds (he thinks it's an acrobatic device)), fill the bath, take off the clothes, get in the bath, etc., etc.   After about 15 minutes I ask him seriously:  "Dash, how long to take this bath?"   He says "40.  Forty minutes."  My jaw drops.  No where in the song is 40 even mentioned.  He knows the name, though.  I was stunned that he made a very clever association that I didn't.  Smart kid.  Smartass kid.  What's that Grandparents Prayer/Curse: may your children be just like you.

By the way I looked up why "40" is called "40".  I thought a likely explanation was that they asked "How long to sing this song?" forty times, but I wanted to make sure that it was not how long a bath should last.  The lyrics were inspired by Psalm 40.  Is that the Bathittudes?


Thursday, Feb 5, 2009

I got a little insight into the "Child Star" world - not that Dash is a child star.  I always saw those parents saying "Yeah, we never pushed little Jasmine.  It was always her idea."  I always thought "Yeah, yeah.  You're enslaving your child to make up for all your perceptions of being slighted as a child."  I know better know, in some cases anyway.  I first played the Talking Heads concert video on some boring winter Saturday (one that didn't have any football games, obviously).  We had listed to an average amount of music during his babyhood.  Kate Bush's "Sky of Honey" came out soon after his birth, I remember enjoying that, but it wasn't like he was immersed in music.  But he was immediately fascinated with Stop making Sense, as it starts with David Byrne and his acoustic guitar, adds a bass, then drums, then a full band.  Lots of dancing and facial antics.  He was pretty much hooked and it became an occasional time-killer.  He asked for a guitar at some point and we picked one up for him at the fair.  Didn't seem all that urgent.  He started doing what David Byrne did on stage.  Still, nothing too alarming, even though dancing was involving.  I guess when U2 released Under a Blood Red Sky, Live at Red Rocks in late 2008, I watched it with him while babysitting.  He was pretty much hooked from that point on. 

That became the big thing, the thing he wanted to do.   As is always the case, because he'd actually paid attention to us when we used it as a bribe it became the reward and the motivational tool.  Naturally, because you want your child to be happy, you accessorize, notably other concerts by U2 and other good people (so far mostly U2, with some Midnight Oil).  I bought him a microphone, and an amplifier (what good is a mic without an amp?).  He loved the microphone until I plugged it into the amp, at which time he lost his mind because I had to move it from the center of the room to reach the amp.  He does that a lot, turns a reward into an ordeal.  Finally I got him to stop crying and starting singing into it.  He finally laughed a little when he heard his voice coming out of the speaker.

A mic needs a mic stand, does it not? Evidence that Dash can work you: as we were driving to Radio Shack to get the mic stand, Dash was putting it on thick:  "Daddy, I love you.  I love you a lot."  "Are you just saying that because I'm getting you a microphone stand?"  "Yes."   He want on to yammer about how he loves everybody...

Anyway, turns out that he doesn't sing so much as use the microphone as a prop.  He does whatever Bono does with the microphone.  Because Dash isn't as nimble-fingered taking the mic in and out of the stand, Dash spends most of any given song trying to attach the mic to the stand.

Leigh was/is a little worried about some of the content: "I can't believe my three-year old knows the words to Helter Skelter."  Actually that's one of the more benign songs out there:  "When I get to the bottom, I go back to the top, of the slide and I stop and turn, and I go for a ride.  When I get to the bottom then I see you again.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!"  I can live with that.  Now if he starts singing I am the Walrus, then I worry.

March 9, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa Stokes came and went.  We boated and zooed.


The Wild Animal Park has a Helium balloon that goes up 400 ft.  It's about 75 feet up in the shot to the right.

Dash had absolutely zero fear.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing.  The shots below are at 400 feet above ground.  Those little dots on the ground are people.  Winds blowing, balloon swaying: not a worry.

Dash at his Happiest (except maybe when he's with his cousins)


March 10, 2009

Whaddya think about the new website navigation?

This is happening a lot earlier than I expected.  Not that Dash is getting reactions from saying things like "Poop!" and "Fart!" at inappropriate times. We got a note from his teacher to talk to him about saying "Poop and peepee because it is not funny".  I told Leigh that we have to take a different tack, because it is indeed funny and he knows it.  Dropping Dash off at DayCare I ran into my old boss, whom I hadn't seen in a while.  Dash sat through a very long conversation, the latter of which was my boss lecturing Dash on why he has two ears but only one mouth.  After Majid delivers the punch line.  Dash counterpunches with a matter-of-fact: "Poop!"

No, what surprises me is that he's trying to tie saying naughty words into the songs he sings.  I remember in 1977 or so, being eleven, thinking we could cuss in front of our parents because the Elton John song was called "The Bitch is Back".  Whoops.  Well Dash actually was singing: "Shut up, Bloody Sunday".  The stinker.

March 24, 2009

Went to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Tucson one last time before they head back home.  Will post a picture soon.




Have I been complaining too much that Dash can be a monster sometimes?  Before you judge me too harshly, check this out.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What does it say when you get a new U2 DVD and you think to yourself "I can't wait to show this to my three and a half year old"?

Dash has accompanied me to my last three haircuts, where he gets a trim also.  Celina has been cutting my hair for over ten years, Leigh and I were sitting at PetSmart waiting for Kili and Zanzibar when Celina waddled in with a Veterinary need on the same day she gave birth to her youngest daughter ten years ago.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm reading into this or whether Dash was actually flattering somebody.  He works Leigh and me all the time, but this is the first time I've seen him verbally do it, to a virtual stranger, no less.  Here's the skinny:  Celina greets Dash with a big (unwelcome) hug, but, far more central to his being, a couple of lollipops.  After our haircuts (he finally let her wash his hair when I reclined in the chair/sink next to him), Celina gave Dash a bag with a few more lollipops in them.  As I was paying up, Dash started waxing poetic about the big 5" diameter spiral lollipop we bought him on our way back from Tucson (the Subway we ate at is contiguous with a Trucker Store (you know, where you can buy CB Radios and, in the bathroom, cologne) and he's now at the age where he sees everything and wants us to buy one of each)  "...it's big and it has a whole bunch of colors..."  And then he says, and, let me know what you think, lifting his bag "but I like these better."  I don't know.  He is an absolute master of manipulating Leigh and me, but it's all whining and brute force hissy fits.  This was subtle, this was smooth.  If true, Leigh and I should just surrender now..


Dash, apparently like many young boys, is fascinated by superheroes.  Dash, apparently like many young boys, likes to climb and has poor table manners and, like many young boys, likes to combine these two vices.  In a somewhat unusual result from an all too common trend Dash wound up launching a full bowl of chicken noodle soup into quite an arc, part of which intersected his head.  In the quickly ensuing bath to get the fauna and flora out of his hair, I mentioned that he was, in fact, a Soup Hair Hero.  That actually made Leigh laugh (it's like the virus makers vs. the virus screeners with her, you gotta be creative to get past her defenses).  I think that's the second pun he got to enjoy.  The first was when I was reading about these rats that were stealing pies on the open seas.  They were Pie-Rats!  Get it?  Pirates!  Pi-rats!  Pie rats!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sorry about the lack of new content: I got sucked into the tax-preparation abyss.

This weekend was one of those weekends when you're glad to pay the mortgage.  It was beautiful, warm, no wind.  We made our first foray to the beach this Saturday.  Dash spent quite a while playing in the sand, with the frisbee, and a dump truck before heading down to the water. It was cold, of course, but the air was as warm as it ever gets.  After a few minutes of the running-away-from-the-waves-and-then-back-to-the-waves game, Dash grabbed his boogey-board and said "I wanna surf."  I couldn't get him near it last year.  No problem this year. He was all grins and giggles as few floated with the waves.  It apparently was only too cold when he got tumbled, as he rocketed straight upward and then ran 100 feet onto the beach.  But right back on the boogey board.


Too skinny for his pants...


Dash's new round of swim lessons. It's all about the toys and splashing around.  He's very comfortable in water, but having not swum all winter he's behind where he left off.  Calvin is his new instructor; like Josh a good guy.

Sunday Night, April 26, 2009

Hi.  Leigh was up in Palm Springs with some girlfriends this weekend, so I'm pretty worn out.  I was hoping that the weather would be hot (it's never hot) and that we could spend two days at the beach.  Instead we had a strong cold wind that ruled out water activities.  So that left me intimidated with a lot of one-on-one time to plan (he's high energy; I am only in ever shorter bursts).

We watched a movie Friday night.  Funny what he picks up. One character said "That's a good cup of Joe."  He didn't quite understand that and asked me to explain it to him.  Why that, I don't know.  

The plan for Saturday was the Wild Animal Park and then stopping by Julianna's place, where she let's her parents live, too, if they're on their best behavior.  I was thinking that's still a lot of time to kill, but then I was reminded by events (or non-events) that getting ready for the the Animal Park burns up three whole hours.  Since I was not in a hurry, everyone was happy.

Dash spent a good portion of his time at the Animal Park running around on a couple of steps behind the walkway in front of the Gorillas.  Why?  Because they reminded him of a stage.  So he's running back and forth using his hand as a "microphone" putting on a show.  Not sure when to be worried about this. Seems harmless enough.

Afterwards we head to Chantelle and Andy's place, where Andy was kind enough to cook us dinner (but mean enough to prevent me for milking this weekend as a "hardship case" for Leigh Points).  The kids ate little then went upstairs to play.  Chantelle says how much fun Julianna and Dash have together, when we realize they have been quiet for a long time, which, as any parent knows, means certain trouble.  Upstairs we find them like this.

After we get home, still in the van, Dash says "give me that cup."  My virtually empty cup from our Jamba Juice treat earlier in the day.  He holds it high, getting that last drop of strawberry smooth, he puts it down with a big "Ahhh!"  I laugh, because it's so funny, the enthusiasm in the "Ahhh!"  Plus, he now has a big red stain across his face, not unlike the Joker in Batman.  Seeing a comic hit, he takes another empty swig with another big "Ahhh!" and:  "That's a good cup of Joe!"  I shot milk out of my nose, which was weird, since I hadn't had any milk in hours.

He's gotta good memory.  I was saying "mmmmm" about some food and he something about that was the sound an "m" makes in our 1st (and only (and aborted)) Reading Lesson from Tuesday.  And than he said "motor" "cycle" and "sis" "ter" which were part of the "Say It Fast" task.  I abandoned the lessons, 'cuz I thought he wasn't listening (he certainly wasn't cooperating).  I guess I'll give it another shot.

It's also kind of weird when you're playing something and he says "..slapping 'em down.  One hundred.  Two hundred.  And I can see them fighter planes.  I can see them fighter planes,"  just like Bono says it.  (I think I've mostly abandoned the idea that this web is primarily for public consumption (I think I would pick differnent things to publicize).  Instead, it's to us and him to remember what he was like, quirks and all (especially the quirks), many years from now.  

This morning after we both slept in late (yay!), Marissa called and we arranged for some Dash and Alex Soccer down at the park.  I never knew there was so much crying in soccer (although the flopping should have given me a hint).  Two boys, one net, two balls, what could be so agonizing?  Well, one ball was a light-weight 12" blue ball and the other a 6" soccer ball; which essentially made them the Ball of Shame and the Ball-that-cannot-be shared.  Anytime Alex had the good ball, Dash was apoplectic.  I had to explain to Dash that when you watch soccer, if you have twelve guys, only one can have the ball.  The other eleven don't fall down and cry to get the ball back.  At most only one falls down and cries, but that is to get a penalty on the guy who knocked him down.  So there was much crying.  But it was still less stress than eating in a restaurant.  

We also tried out scooters.  We had gotten Alex and Dash 2-wheeled scooters for their third birthdays, a bit prematurely.  Marissa bought a three-wheeled scooter to minimize the need for buying whole blood.  Two boys, two scooters.  That didn't last too long, but Dash showed much better balance on the three-wheeled than the two.  So, even though I thought I was having a cheap date, it wound up costing $40 at Toys-R-Us for a "Spider-Man Three-Wheeled Scooter."  After a failed nap attempt (mainly for me than Dash), we went down to the bay and rode it for about an hour and a half.  It was cool to watch him develop coordination over the ninety minutes.  I suspect that he'll have the three-wheeler mastered in short time; after which we can move him onto the two-wheeler and then to bicycle training...

Then, to everyone's relief, Momma came home and everything is normal again.  

Thanks to Chantelle, Andy, and Marissa for lightening the load.  I'm exhausted, but it was fun.

Late Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waaaaay behind on the postings...  Have a lot of stuff to post, including Florida trip...
The video to the right will be good extortion in his teenage years...  It's a long freedance by Dash (he had been going at it unnoticed for some time prior to me running upstairs to get the camera).
Facebookers:  there's non-Dash, pre-Dash stuff about Leigh and Jeff at http://LeighandJeff.com.  It's coincidently three and a half years out of date...

Late Thursday, June 24, 2009

Dash and Alex on the bumper cars:
Compare to the last time they were on bumper cars (almost exactly a year ago).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When driving your kid around it is preferable to keep him engaged rather than go about your business like he's not back there.  Half the two mile trip to daycare runs along a railroad track frequented by the local commuter (the Coaster) and Amtrak.  I remember Dash once saying a long time ago "The engine is in the back!  So he has had some interest in them.  He certainly likes his train table.  I yell "Train!", roll down the windows and generally make a fuss when I see a training coming.  Another thing we -er, I- like to do is try to predict how many school buses we'll see on the way in.  We've seen seventeen, once.  Twelve is a good day.  

Well, the boy is growing up.  Interests changing.  Awareness growing.  He seems to be aware of what "normal" behavior is and what can be described as eccentric.

One day, driving home, I yell "Train!", and start rolling down the window.  Dash says, somewhat concerned, with perhaps a hint of the full blown embarrassment he will feel too few years from now, "Why do you like trains so much.  And school buses?"

Reminds me when my Dad, Mom, brother and I would drive from Orlando to Miami to see my mom's mom.  Mom and Danny would be asleep before even getting to the turnpike.  I'd stay up to keep Dad company, because I loved him and didn't want him to be lonely.  Years later discussing this with him, he said "Yeah, and you'd never shut the heck up the entire way."  Oh well, kind intentions are noble if not always recognized...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Conversation started by Dash this morning, while I was tying his shoes, In his common pose - his hand on my forehead for balance:

"Daddy, I love you.  

You're funny.  I'm funny, too."

"Yes, you are."

"Your Daddy was funny, too."

"Yes, he was."

"But he died." 


"I'm not going to let you die.  I'm not going to let Mommy die.

I'll protect you."


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