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Halloween Is Over
(November 16, 2010)

Halloween has passed, and now the dreaded Holiday Season is bearing down on us like an express train. An express train covered in big metal spikes and saw blades. A spiky express train full of poo! And all we can do is sit in our stalled car on the train tracks and pray that engine starts in time.

Ahem. Pardon that. I got carried away by the imagery.

So, a month or two before Halloween, we asked Theron what he wanted his costume to be. He said, "Jazz." Jazz is a Transformer: he changes from a robot to a silver sports car. He's also the only Autobot to actually die in the recent (live-action) Transformers movie. (He gets ripped in two by Megatron.) It's an odd choice, and I'm guessing that it came from the Transformers video game that Theron occasionally plays.

So we wait a couple of weeks, and we ask him again. I was half-expecting a different answer: Ben 10, maybe. But, no. He says, "Jazz."

So all right. That's tricky, but he's adamant. There are, we quickly discover, no Jazz costumes on the market. There aren't even any costumes that we could modify to make into a Jazz costume. We'll be building this from scratch. So my wife goes out and buys a pair of gray knit pants and a matching gray turtleneck. (We're in Texas, so it's absolutely impossible to guess what the weather will be like on All Hallows Eve. Some years it's shorts-weather, and some years you need a jacket and ear muffs. This is a mid-weight compromise.)

The Beautiful Woman then got some black iron-on patches, cut them into robotic shapes, and ironed them on. To avoid confusion, she also used them to spell out "Jazz" on his collar. I purchased a simple grey mask - the kind that covers your eyes. Theron wanted some sort of helmet, but I'm glad we didn't try that; he only wore the mask for about two minutes.

Then my father, using a picture from the Internet, started assembling a gun arm to complete the costume. It was built from cardboard, white glue, and a bit of old broomstick, but after he got done spray-painting it... well, look at the results. It even included a built-in flashlight.

Baby Roland went as a pumpkin. My wife went as Athena (the goddess), and I stayed home to hand out candy in my ever-appropriate guise as Scary Guy In A Mask.

Shortly Before Halloween
October 28, 2010 - Theron has a trundle bed in his room. The trundle itself is over in Roland's room, so the Beautiful Woman can get real sleep when she's in there. For the last couple of weeks, I've been sleeping in Theron's room. This is usually fine, since Theron actually prefers to sleep on the floor... most of the time. For the last two nights, he's been experimenting with sleeping under the bed, which is fine. With the trundle gone, there's plenty of room for him.

Last night, he decided that he wanted to sleep on top of the bed. Generously, he offered to let me sleep under the bed. I was so tired that I agreed: "Fine, as long as you go to sleep." There's enough room under there, as long as I don't try to do anything extravagant, like actually sit up. Or roll over. Or inhale too deeply.

So last night wasn't like sleeping, really. It was more like spending eight hours in storage.

Yes, we're still potty training
Theron is actually making good progress: he urinates in the potty, and only wets himself very infrequently. We're still working on poop, but he's starting to get it - he actually pooped in the potty at his Nana's house the other day.

My next goal is to teach him how to wipe himself after he poops. This is more important than you might think, at least as far as my sanity is concerned. The other day, we were getting ready for the bath, and... Well, I knew Theron had pooped in his pull-ups, at least a little bit. So I take off his shirt and and pants, and - leaving the pull-ups in place - I go and drop his clothes in the dirty laundry. When I return to the bathroom, I find that Theron has pulled down his pull-ups and, well, Assumed The Position. His pull-ups are down around his ankles, and he's put his back to the door. He's bent over, so his head is down at a level with his ankles. His bottom is extended, exposed, and ready for cleaning.

If his butt were a cannon (Heavens forefend), I would have walked right into the line of fire.

Roland tries to do everything
So my wife posted a message on Facebook (on November 10, for future reference):

Roland is a rollercoaster ride. He seems determined to pass through EVERY stage as fast as possible. Crawling? Check. Separation anxiety? Check. Standing? Check. Cruising? Check. Taking a step without falling? Check, as of 3 AM this morning. I am SO EXHAUSTED.

She's completely right, though. And he demands our help with all of it. Do not deny The Will Of The Baby!

Oh, and she left out one other thing: teeth. He has two of them, bottom center. We expect the rest shortly. And maybe, just maybe, once he's finished all that, he'll start sleeping regularly again.

Theron is still happy about being a big brother. In fact, he told his mother that he didn't remember when Roland first joined us. Which is kind of cool, really. The biggest problem we have on that front is that he gets too enthusiastic about wanting to play with his brother. We have to remind him to move slowly and be careful. (We're also working with him about what sorts of objects Roland shouldn't be given - small toys, coins, and other choking hazards.)

I have re-established the corral in the living room, to give Roland a place that has a padded floor. It also gives us a place that he can't leave. Roland is deeply offended by the fact that everyone else can freely cross the fence, and - because of the separation anxiety that my wife mentioned - putting him inside pretty much requires us to stay inside with him. We can only escape if he's really, really distracted.

Baptism for Unbelievers, Part I
Early in November, my mother brought up an issue regarding Theron. Theron attends church with them on Sunday, and in this particular denomination even small children can receive a wafer during communion... presuming that they've been baptized, of course.

Theron hasn't, but he is showing a strong interest in getting a communion wafer like everybody else does. My mother's point was, basically, that even if the Church is okay with it (and they are), she doesn't think he should be receiving communion without know what it's about. I'm not at all sure how much that's the actual issue, and how much it's just a passable cover for wanting to get her grandson baptized. I'm also utterly unaware of what my father thinks; he just sat back and let my mother lead the charge. That could mean that he doesn't think it's that big a deal, or it could mean that this is really important to him and he just doesn't want to get confrontational about it.

At this point, I'm not sure what we're going to do about this. I haven't even mentioned it to the Beautiful Woman yet, because it's potentially quite a complex and delicate issue in terms of the family dynamics, and she's exhausted from getting through her semester and taking care of the baby.

Parenthood: not for the faint of heart
I thought we had things pretty well under control. I mean, my wife was sick last Thursday (November 11) with the Horrible Tummy Bug From Outer Space, but the worst of that only lasted about twenty-four hours. I stayed home to take care of her on Thursday, and was back at work on Friday. We're just lucky she didn't come down with this while she was teaching.

Then, on Sunday, the Beautiful Woman was making a pumpkin pie. She reached into a can to scoop out some pumpkin stuff, and found a sharp piece of metal with the side of her index finger. When her finger wouldn't stop bleeding, she came and woke me up.

I started to dress the wound, realized just how deep it was, and changed plans. We were off to the emergency room, instead.

I have to say, both boys dealt with it really well - especially Theron, whom I woke, dressed, and shoved in the car. He was very helpful, and we sat in the family room and watched episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on my laptop while the nice doctor sewed up my wife's hand and asked her for parenting advice. Six stitches later, we were on our way back home.

The funny part was right after we arrived. My wife is sitting on the little cot/bed in the emergency room. She's brought a sweatshirt with her, and has it sitting in her lap. Theron is sitting in front of her, on the end of the bed. All of he sudden he reaches back and lifts up the sweatshirt. Looking at his mother belly, he says: "No baby."

Because apparently that's what happens when you come to the hospital: they hand you a baby. (I bet they keep a pile of them in the closet somewhere, and just hand them out when people come through.)

And then, because clearly we didn't have enough on our plate already, Baby Roland started throwing up that night. He'd caught the Horrible Tummy Bug From Outer Space. The only bright spot in all this is that so far, Theron and I have not caught the thing. Here's hoping.

Update: Oops. Not two hours after I wrote that, Theron fell prey to the Horrible Tummy Bug From Outer Space. I just heard from my wife. So now I'm going to load this onto the website before I, too, am struck down.

Baptism for Unbelievers, Part II
Somewhere in the midst of all that, I managed to speak to my wife and her mother about the issue of baptism. My Mother-In-Law is a minister for the Disciples of Christ, and I was worried that there might be some interdenominational friction... but, no. In fact, her take on the situation was extremely helpful: she thinks he's too young. Baptism now will be much less meaningful than baptizing him later, when and if he chooses it for himself. She also pointed out that as his parents, this is really our decision to make.

That's still going to create some friction, I think, but it'll be the sort of thing that's best addressed by looking at how my parents handle having Theron at their church. Which is going to be an interesting conversation in its own right, but at least it's not going to require us to reconcile disparate views from various parts of the extended family.

Theron may well decide to get baptized at some point. But when and if that happens, it will be his decision. Which was pretty much the plan all along.

We don't have a lot of pictures this time
Our camera broke. So the last batch of pictures that I have are from Halloween. We're going to have to do something about this, before our friends and family riot.

Late Update: My brother and his wife have provided us with an early Christmas present in the form of a shockproof, water-resistant camera that will suit our needs admirably. So there will be pictures and video for the next entry. Meantime, here's a single video clip of Theron singing in the car:

Theron Sings Along