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"Our Little Parrot"
(November 2008)

It'll be the middle of November by the time this entry makes it onto the site. Halloween has come and gone, all the candy has been eaten, and we're trying to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the financial implosion that always comes in January. Despite the lingering sense of impending doom, this has been a fun month.


"Happy Halloween!"

Theron had a great time at Halloween this year. He helped me set up the decoration in the front yard. He carried his pumpkin and wore a necklace of glowsticks with great satisfaction. And, of course, he went from house to house, collected candy, and even said, "Happy Halloween!"

Unfortunately, none of our costumes worked out quite the way we intended. This is mainly because the weather was far too warm. By the time Theron and the Beautiful Woman made it to the Mom's Group activity that morning, we knew they weren't going to work.

Theron was supposed to go as Elmo; the costume was too hot, so his mother took it off and spiked his hair up instead. She had intended to accompany him as Cookie Monster, but when she put the hood/mask on, Theron freaked out. Apparently, in addition to cookies, Cookie Monster had just eaten his mom. So... no Sesame Street costumes. They went as rebel rockers instead.

I had intended to dress as Connor McLeod, using a nice London Fog trenchcoat that I picked up on Ebay for $20. Unfortunately, when the day came, it was too hot to wear a coat. So I made a quick switch to a pirate outfit, instead. It was still a little warm; what I really needed was a costume that involved shorts and a tee shirt.

For the actual trick-or treating, we took one of Theron's white shirts and wrote on it with a magic marker. The back said, "Rebel." The front said, "I rebelled against my Elmo costume." As a costume, it actually worked:

The problem is, if I put together a costume for next year that actually does involve shorts and a tee shirt, it'll be freezing. Texas weather...

Texas Renaissance Festival
This was our next big event, two weeks after Halloween. It was basically a weekend trip; TRF is down near Houston, making it a bit under a five hour drive for us. So, the plan was to drive down there, meet one of my old college friends and his family, and spend the night with them. We'd drive back in a more leisurely fashion on Sunday.

As with Halloween, this A) didn't work according to plan, and B) was a lot of fun anyway.

The first part worked pretty well. We packed on Friday night, so when we woke up on Saturday we just loaded up the car and took off. Theron was the very last thing to go in, so he was still asleep for the first two hours of the trip.

This trip was also a sort of test run for Thanksgiving, which is coming up soon and will involve driving down to a dude ranch. As an early Christmas gift, my parents gave us a portable DVD player.* This kept Theron occupied for the rest of the trip, so we managed the first leg entirely free of complaints from the Podling. My wife is deeply in love with the portable DVD player; I think I'm jealous.

We made it to the festival, found the friends we were looking for, and went inside. This is more impressive than it sounds; last time we tried this, we never found them. We were all at the same festival, we just failed to either find or identify each other. This was despite having made arrangements in advance, and spending the whole day looking.

Inside the festival, we checked out the booths, boggled at the prices, and made fun of the "sword"** vendors. They had rides (though, in keeping with the medieval/fantasy theme, everything was people-powered). Theron went on two spinning rides ("More round-and-round?") and one giant swing ("More swing?"). He looked around, ran around, and generally had a good time.

(We had a good time, too. Then again, any time I get to wear a sword around is a good time.)

Then we left the festival, and our plans went off the rails. The next step was to follow our friends back to their house. Unfortunately, we couldn't find them; the place has more than one exit. Fortunately, they had printed off directions, and we were able to follow those and eventually arrive at their house. Unfortunately, the route we followed was the same one that everyone else was using, and it took us half a century or so to get clear.

Once we reached the house, we ordered pizza, put the kids to bed (our friends have a boy of their own, Clay, who is about a year older than Theron and enjoyed showing off his toy dinosaur and his new puppy), and chatted a bit. Then we collapsed. Everything was more or less back on track...

...until about five-fifteen in the morning. We'd all been worn out, and something about that part of Texas had set off our allergies. By five-fifteen, Theron was so stuffy that he basically couldn't breathe if he was horizontal. We tried a few things, but couldn't get him to settle back down -- at least, not in a way that would let him sleep. He was getting progressively more unhappy, and we were about to reach a point where he would either A) wake up and play, and in the process wake everyone else up; or B) going into a screaming, crying, miserable meltdown, and in the process wake everyone else up.

So, finally, we gave up. The only sensible thing we could see to do was load Theron in the car and head back to Dallas. That would allow his sinuses to drain, and hopefully he could get back to sleep. So, I shook my friend awake and gave him a quick summary of the new plan (which was possibly garbled by me being half-awake and suffering my own allergy attack). Then we threw everything back in the car and headed out.

That part actually worked fairly well. Theron did go back to sleep, and we got back to Dallas in time for me to collapse (while the Beautiful Woman covered the Snot Explosion). She then kicked me awake, and I took over the Fountain of Mucus while she took a nap. So, by evening, we were exhausted but functional.

Theron is still stuffy, as are we. I think it's going to take a few days for our systems to figure out that we aren't still breathing the gunk that set them off.

Our son, the parrot
Shortly after the last entry, Theron quit burbling***, at least mostly. Instead, he has started repeating almost anything we say, verbatim. So, for example, two weeks ago I found him holding the plug-in charger for a portable phone. He was holding the cord, and swinging the heavy end (you know, the one with the prongs) around. I said, "Oh, look, Theron. You found your weapon. Good."

He answered: "Weapon, good."

Last night, I told him he was a good boy. He said, "Good boy."

Later, on the way home from my parents, we were singing Jingle Bells. Yes, I know it's far too early for this; he started it. Someone has been teaching it to him, probably in preparation for one of those horrible end-of-the-year shows where the parents ignore how bad the singing is and dote on the cuteness of the children instead. So we were singing Jingle Bells, and we finished the song, and he said: "You did it!"

This is a terrible situation, because it immediately confronts me with a horrible temptation: what can I get him to say? It has to be something fairly easy to pronounce... and something that won't get me in too much trouble if he happens to say it again in, say, first grade. "Masticate," for example -- despite being a perfectly innocent word in its own right -- is probably unacceptable. I have, however, gotten him to say "Impending Doom". I'm fairly pleased with that.

The good part about children who can talk
One night he was crying in bed. When I went in there, he had unzipped his outfit (we put him in the one-piece footy-pajamas to keep his toes warm). I asked him if his teeth were hurting, and he said, "Yes." Then he said, "Diaper." So I asked him if he needed to change his diaper, and he said: "Yes." I asked if he had pooped in his diaper, and he said yes to that too. So, I pulled him out of his outfit, pulled his diaper off, wiped him clean, and put a fresh diaper on.

He hadn't actually pooped, but he seemed much more comfortable after I'd changed him. I'm guessing, but I think maybe the old diaper wasn't on quite straight, or was chafing, or something like that. He drank some water, then settled down and went to sleep after that.

It is very, very nice that he can now tell us what's wrong. Having to guess is, frankly, horrible.

It's also possible that he's starting to make things up to get attention/stay up later, but I don't think so. He's not even two and half, yet, so I think it's a little early for that. We'll see, though.

Theron isn't much of a cuddler, at least not usually. He likes to run around; he's usually busy doing things. Even if we're sitting on the couch watching Elmo, he tends to stay on his side... unless he's busy jumping or climbing on us. That's pretty much the pattern in restaurants, too.

There are, however, a couple of exceptions. When Theron isn't feeling well, he wants to be held. In fact, he can be downright clingy. And when he's going to sleep, he really wants someone to lay down with him.

Now, generally we don't do this. We tell him that he's a big boy, and he needs to go to sleep by himself. He complains about this, sometimes loudly, but he usually does it.

There have, however, been a few occasions where we've tried it. These are generally nights where he's either had trouble getting to sleep in the first place (by eleven p.m., we're pretty desperate); or else they're times when he's woken up in the night, and is having trouble getting back to sleep.

So, basically, you stretch out on the mattress beside him, and he tries to cuddle. Unfortunately, his idea of cuddling involves pressing as much of his body as close as possible. He keeps trying to burrow into you, which means there's no way you can get comfortable. Plus, he's constantly moving as part of the process, so he isn't really settling down, either.

It's like snuggling with a rhinoceros.

The Rhinoceros... of Luuuuuuuv.

Theron has been on the receiving end of tickles for a long time. I tickle him; my wife tickles him; and occasionally other people tickle. Mostly, he thinks it's fun. (We're careful to stop before it goes from fun to irritating.)

Recently, however, he's decided that turnabout is fair play. So, he will attempt to tickle his mother (or, rarely, me). He does this by putting his palms on our ribs and waving his fingers around while yelling "tickle-tickle-tickle" - except his pronunciation isn't quite right, so it's more like "teekle-teekle-teekle". We both laugh helplessly, because it's just so cute.

I'm not sure the description really does it justice. So, here's some video:

And now, here are some other pictures and video.

Climbing on a Giant Spider In the Pumpkin Patch Still in the Pumpkin Patch
Drawning Hair on a Pumpkin Elmo and Cookie Monster Look at that ghost!
Working on a Jack'o'lantern
How we watch TV Playing in the Pumpkins
Fountain At the Dallas
Ice Cream at the Renfaire Our son, the baby elephant

* Actually, they just gave us money, and the Beautiful Woman bought it. My brother and his wife helped her pick it out, which was a big help.

** See, calling something a sword implies that it has a blade made from an actual metal, and that you can swing it without endangering yourself (within reason). The ability to actually cut things is generally also a prerequisite for the label of "sword". Most retailers are selling Sword-Like Objects (SLO's) or, at best, wall-hangers. That's fine, if all you want is a decoration; but don't swing them around. There was a video clip going around a while back, which demonstrates the dangers: click here to watch.

*** Talking randomly to himself, in nonsense phrases. Actually, I'm not sure they were nonsense; he may have been reciting chunks of dialogue from various Elmo programs.