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"Nothing can stop The Juggernaut!"

So... Theron continues to grow, and in the process he continues to become more active - and more capable of expressing his opinions.

This morning, for example, the Beautiful Woman* went into the kitchen to make some tea. In the process, she stepped over the baby gate. The baby gate is a basically a portable wall that squishes into place across a hall or doorway. It exists for only two purposes: to keep children out of particular areas, and to assist adults in hurting themselves. Ours is one of the old-fashioned ones, made out of wood and wire, with a wooden bar that you press down to hold it in place.

Thus, Theron was tragically abandoned, left alone and desolate in the wilds of the living room. Under the circumstances, you might expect the baby to cry and scream. Instead, he took a running charge at the baby gate, knocked it down, and followed his mother into the kitchen.

Dances With Kitties
The Juggernaut is also evolving an interesting relationship with one of our cats - the cat Astrophe, to be specific. Astrophe used to be indifferent to the baby. Then Theron got a little bit older and learned how to grab things, and Astrophe (along with the other cats) became wary of the baby, instead. Theron's ability to handle things gently has gotten a lot better, so now Astrophe has identified the Podling as a possible source of petting.

So nowadays, when Astrophe enters the room, Theron still chases the kitty. Astrophe, however, will actually let the Podling catch him. Theron then rubs the cat's back. It's not terribly sophisticated or graceful, but it is gentle enough not to hurt the cat. Also, Theron doesn't try to grab handfuls of the cat's fur anymore. Astrophe, for his part, is smart enough to move away before the toddler gets excited enough to start flailing his arms around.

So far, it seems to be working out pretty well.

Theron looks up to see what his father is doing on top of the spotlight tower. (I was taking pictures.)

Baby's first Rock Concert
This past weekend was the occasion for one of the yearly local music festivals. It's a fairly big event, with four stages, an arts and crafts area, a kids area, a food court, street performers... and, of course, a good-sized audience. While the City can't afford any serious Big Names, they get a good mix of performers. Most are either up and coming bands, or bands who were really big a decade or two back; the festival has had Joan Jett, Eddie Money, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Miranda Lambert, Bowling For Soup, and Bruce Hornsby, among others. (It's been going on for fifteen years now, so there are quite a few others.)

I always regard the approach of this weekend with a mixture of anticipation and dread. On the Down side, it takes a lot of work to have everything ready for the festival (I am partly responsible for its website), I work a lot of extra hours during the festival (about sixty-five hours, this year), and since it's in May it tends to be very, very hot. On the Up side, I get to see and hear a lot of interesting bands (for free, since I don't get charged for parking or entrance); as a photographer, I get to go pretty much anywhere, including back stage and on top of nearby buildings**; and I get paid overtime for all those extra hours.

So this year was Theron's first rock concert (as an external baby, anyway. He attended last year, but he was still inside his mother and probably doesn't remember). He was able to play in the fountain, collect toys from the sponsor booths, and meet one of the local Country/Western musicians. I considered getting the baby autographed, but it would have been hard to frame him.

Baby Songs
My wife and I are both English majors. In addition to making us nearly unemployable, this means that we communicate fairly well and that we have larger vocabularies than are really good for us. This leads us into all sorts of subversive and antisocial behaviors: bad puns, rhyming games, nonsense words, and... well... filk.

Filk, for anyone who isn't familiar with it, is basically the practice of taking perfectly innocent folk songs and inflicting your own lyrics on them. So, if you're a Science Fiction fan, the Wild Rover (for example) becomes the Wild Dorsai. In our case, we're basically baby fans, so we sing baby songs. (We used to sing kitty songs, but the baby's taken over.) Most of these are basically nonsense songs, and most have fairly recognizable tunes. Two of them, however, have their own tunes (or at least, no tune that I recognize) and their lyrics are... distinctive.

Our first example refers to one of our most enduring baby games: Wearing The Baby Like A Hat. This essentially means seating the baby on top of my head and walking around. It's not as hard as it sounds; he's fairly stable, so even though I've got my hands around his waist, it isn't that much of an effort. Here are the lyrics for My Baby's A Hat:

My Babyís a hat today
Because he and Daddy have started to play
When he flies through the air
Without any cares
My babyís becoming a hat!

He keeps his fingers so far up his nose
That you canít get him into his clothes.
It isn't too bad, I guess I suppose
But it's something I hope he outgrows

My baby's a hat (thump)***
My baby's a hat (thump)
My baby's a hat (thump)
And what do you think of that?

The second song is only sort of indirectly a baby song. I wanted the baby's first word to be something good. Mama and Dada, for example, are trite and overdone. I wanted him to start with something good, like eviscerate. In an effort to help stimulate his development, I composed the following song: an ode to the joys of defenestration. (Yes, it's a real word. Look it up.)

Defenestration -
It's like m_______****
It's the new sensation
Wherever I go

Get a good reaction
Improve your interaction
Just get good traction
Before you throw!

Keeping the baby's attention
Theron is easily bored, and (like most people) he is most interested in things that he doesn't get to see very often. That means that we only put out a few of his toys at any given time; the rest stay up on top of the shelves. It also means that we have to be careful to keep him occupied; otherwise, he tends to seek out something new and interesting, like a steak knife.

This evening, while we were eating dinner - and bear in mind that neither of us is quite recovered from the music festival last weekend; I'm still catching up on my sleep, and the Beautiful Woman had three full days of taking care of the baby without me***** - my wife handed the baby a Styrofoam container of sticky rice. We were eating Thai food, so this was basically the unused portion of our dinner. The idea was to keep him distracted while we were eating.

Theron thought this was great. He actually ate a little bit of the rice. Then he turned the container upside down, and dumped sticky rice all over the mats in the living room. Then he walked in it.

The problem with sticky rice is that it's, well, sticky. Within a few minutes we had grains of sticky rice all the way into the kitchen, clumps of it all over the living room, and one of my dirty socks glued (with sticky rice) to the bottom of Theron's right foot. Shortly after that, we had sticky rice all over my wife's shirt.

Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem: never use sticky rice to distract your child. Fortunately, it washes off pretty easily...

Soon I will be One Year Old
Theron's first birthday party is this coming weekend. I hope to have a new chapter ready once it's over. There should be plenty of material...

Meanwhile, more pictures from the music festival:

Theron poses with his grandmother at the Lost Parents booth.


Theron explores the fountain at the festival.

* My wife and the toddler's mother, in case you missed that earlier.

** This helps satisfy my lifelong goal of becoming Batman.

*** Each thump indicates that I have touched the baby's head against the ceiling. We have one area of low ceiling in our house. Theron finds this funny.

**** Apparently this is a word that I am willing to sing to my baby, but not to publish on my website. Go figure.

***** Fortunately, her mother - as always - was a tremendous help.