Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Canada -- The Final Chapter

This is our last day in Canada, unless you count the bleary traveling hours between five and whenever we cross the border in the morning. We've had a really amazing trip, and it'll be very sad to leave. This is a picture I took this morning in downtown Castlegar. Look how green it is! It's like living in a campground (only more showers and fewer people yelling at their kids about hot dogs).

This is Max and his beautiful great grandma. Look at how they have the same facial expression!

This is Max with his . . . Second cousin? First cousin once removed? How does it work, again? . . . anyway, she is my cousin Haley, so whatever relation that makes her to Max.

Max and his mama with Auntie Lynne, chillin' on the lawn.

Unfortunately, Max's grandpa has become extremely aggressive and violent now that Max's departure is imminent. He began threatening us with a garden hose merely for mentioning the trip back home. He is now tied up in the basement, for his protection as much as ours.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good Canadian Times

It's been a bit rainy this week (oh, happy Chelsa), but we have managed some well-timed travels around Castlegar. On Sunday, we went past the house where I grew up. I was going to take a picture of the outside, but then I saw people standing on the front lawn (presumably the people who now own the house). I explained what I was doing there, and they invited me to look around inside. It was amazing how little it had changed. They had painted, and laid down new flooring, but I could still easily find my way around. I got so excited, though, that I forgot to take any pictures. Sorry, Mum. Here are some other pictures to help make up for it.

Here we are at the Colander, a restaurant in downtown Trail. For those unfortunate souls who do not know the Colander experience, it has elements of The Old spaghetti Factory, only better food. Ian had never been there before, but look how happy and at-home he looks. I think we're turning him Canadian! I even heard him say 'eh' the other day!

This is a random house in Trail. You do get to see, though, how much lush green foliage people here get to take for granted.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On Your Marks!

Max's Grandpa has become very invested in Max's first official crawl taking place while he is in Canada. He has been offering constant verbal encouragement to crawl, placing enticing things just out of reach, and keeping the video camera constantly at the ready, just in case. He says it is only fair that Max select Canada as the location for one developmental milestone, and he would like to lord it over the American relatives that he was on the scene and they were not. I keep telling my father that Max has a somewhat whimsical sense of timing, but hope springs eternal. Max has three days left to fulfill his Grandpa's dreams. Anyone care to wager?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Graduations and Baby Mohawks

Okay, so the following blog post consists almost entirely of family photos from Alyson's graduation, and you might be asking yourself, "Where are the pictures of Max that we have come to expect from a magic number blog post?". Well, he'll be back. In the meantime, you will have to bear with me, or try to find another blog with an equally cute baby to tide you over (except we both know that there is no such blog, because there is no such baby).

Alyson and Dad dancing after the grand march, which for those of you who don't know is Castlegar's ending to the graduation festivities. It sort of combines the most disturbing aspects of prom, beauty pageants, debutante balls, and fashion shows. I am not sad that I graduated elsewhere, although I do like the father-daughter dance part.

Look how happy and relaxed Alyson looks in this picture. It is really amazing, when you consider how much her hairstyle and dress must weigh, and how many times during the day she expressed feelings that were the opposite of happy or relaxed.

Now this may be a more accurate impression of her feelings. Do you think this violates the smiling cheerfully deal we made?

After all, Max and I lived up to our end of the deal, and here is the proof. No, this is not some rare form of Canadian sea urchin, it is Max's mohawk in extreme close-up.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Great Canadian Adventure Continues

Today was Alyson's graduation ceremony, an event that has met with mixed reviews from Alyson herself.
Here is my beautiful sister marching. She is smiling because she does not know that we are taking her picture:)
Alyson requested that Max sport the fauxhawk for her graduation. I agreed, on the condition that she pose often and cheerfully for photos. Throughout the ceremony, I heard the audience whispering "Look, that baby has a mowhawk!" His fame is now international.
Max is surrounded by beautiful aunties, ready to cater to his every whim. There'll be no living with him when we get back home.

Max and Jillian color-coordinated for the graduation ceremony. What an attractive couple!

Friday, May 26, 2006

And As Promised . . .

Here are some photos of our first night in B.C. Max with his (and my) Aunty Penny, Grandma Julie, and a photo Ian took of Max and I recovering.

We're Here! We're Here!

Well, we have safely and (mostly) happily completed our epic journey to the Canadian frontier. We do not have pictures yet, because we are missing a ???? (Ian told me what we need, and what I was able to glean was that it is something that allows our camera to make friends with this computer, and that it should be easy to find), but hopefully we will be able to remedy that soon. Max did extremely well with the early wake-up time, first airplane ride, and subsequent battalion of friends and relations. He got to meet many people last night, and to flirt with many teenage girls (friends of my sisters'). He was exhausted last night, and slept without twitching for nine hours. Ian and I, being older and not as good, coped with slightly less grace, but we are all a bit perkier this morning after a cup of good old Canadian tea:)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hulking Out

Max has been doing a lot of drooling and chewing the past few days, and we think we can see a glimmer of a white tooth on the bottom. I have been trying, therefore, to think of things for him to chew on that are not made out of my flesh. I was eating watermelon yesterday, and I thought, 'why not? It's cold, it's hard (the rind part), and it would be difficult to choke on'. I gave Max a piece to experiment with (yes, Granny, the rind was organic, and I washed it thoroughly first) and he loved it. He may have loved it more than he has ever loved anything before.

In between these two photos, an incident occurred which I have nicely opted not to photograph. Max stuck the watermelon a bit too far into his mouth, gagged himself, and barfed everything he has ever eaten out onto the tray.

I removed the watermelon from Max's grasp, having determined that there were unforeseen complications to its consumption. Max was not pleased. Then he had to be cleaned off, on account of the barfing, and he was really not pleased. In fact, he worked himself up into a full-fledged temper tantrum.
It is rare in the life of a Max that tears do not produce immediate results. When Max realized that I was not returning his barf-covered piece of watermelon to him, he became enraged. He pounded on his high-chair tray, screeched with indignation, and described himself as 'inconsolable'. Even his eyebrows turned red with the unfairness of it all. We came to an uneasy truce after I nursed him a little, but he would like it known that I am still on probation.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Express Mail

We have begun packing for our semi-annual northerly migration to British Columbia, where Max can be exposed to the quirkiness of yet another branch of his family tree. Although I have made this trek almost every year since I was eight, I seem to have a lot more to pack this time around. I don't get it. Max is the smallest person in the family, even if you include the cats (and why wouldn't you?). Why does he require the most and the heaviest luggage?

Monday, May 22, 2006

In Mama's Loving Arms

This is what I get to look down and see every single day, everybody. It's okay to be a little jealous.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Busy As A Slightly Sinister Bee

Ian and I have both noticed another sudden developmental leap in Max's style of play recently. He is not saying words that we understand yet (although he does seem to have a fondness for the syllables mamamamama) but he is able to convey more subtle shifts in mood ('I'm annoyed enough to growl irritably, but not quite enough to cry', for example). He is also using his hands much more precisely, and is exploring the way individual fingers wiggle on the hand. Of course, these new skills have a dark side. He has begun grabbing things off the kitchen table from his high chair, and I have not yet gotten used to his increased precision enough to remember to move everything out of the way before he sits down. Today he stole a receipt that had a staple in it, and had gummed it down to pulp before I could wrest it from him. I spent ten minutes rooting through the paper goo to make sure he hadn't eaten the staple. When he is on the floor playing, I need to mind my p's and q's more as well . . .

I used to be able to leave Max on his blanket, go to the bathroom or put away laundry or whatever, and come back confident that Max would be where I left him. All at once, however, Max has become surprisingly mobile. Even more alarmingly, his ability to premeditate mischief seems to have increased. He'll see a piece of filth that the vacuum cleaner missed, get a wicked gleam in his eye, issue a full-throated battle cry of "mamamamabababababaayeeeee!", and commando-crawl over to it, mouth wide open to receive and fully explore its filthy goodness.

Friday, May 19, 2006

. . . And Your Little Cat, Too!

Well, everybody, the good news is that Max has said his first word. The bad news is that only the cats can understand him, because his first word is "meow". He has become extremely enamored of the cats recently -- not only noticing them, but actively trying to roll/wriggle/guerilla-warfare-style-crawl to where they are. The cats' interest in Max seems to have waned in direct proportion to his increased fascination, possibly due to Max's tendency to express love through the tiny, pinching fingers of doom. Knowing that the cats seem to flee from his presence, but unable to understand their reticence, Max has begun imitating their meows with disturbing accuracy. He is apparently under the impression that the cats will find this enticing. So far, this impression has proven incorrect.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Encore! Encore!

So far, general consensus seems to be that Max resembles my side of the family more than Ian's. Round cheeks, round chin, deep investment in having bare feet, etc. He does, however, share many things in common with his dad, as well. He has the aforementioned Tillman largeness to the cranial region. He has Ian's proportions (short legs, long body). He has spontaneous bursts of delight at jokes that others find puzzling. And, of course . . .

. . . like his father, Max is an avid music enthusiast. Look at him! He's a natural! He even knows to engage the audience while he plays!
And of course, part of musicianship is exposing yourself to other musical styles.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Amazing Mer-Baby

Max's Gramps got a small swimming pool for his birthday, and has generously shared it with Max on a couple of occasions. For some reason, Max loves the swimming pool, despite a growing hatred of being bathed. To my untrained, unknowing eye, the experiences seem identical (inflatable bowl filled with water, naked child, etc.), but whatever.

I know I am pushing my luck here. If I want Max to like me at all when he is a teenager, I really need to stop putting pictures of his naked bum on the internet. On the other hand, Teenage Max, your bum will never be this cute again, so maybe you should appreciate my documentation of it and stop stealing my car keys.

I think we were all a little jealous of Max. Yes, we could have climbed in the pool, too, but let's be honest. We would have gotten a third of our bodies wet, at the most, and it's a bit demoralizing to wedge your grown-up body into a small pool, all the while hearing the plastic sides squeak in protest.
Public, outdoor nudity, cool wet water, and an alligator that squirts water from its tiny 'O' of a mouth. Seriously, what could be better?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Narcissus Complex

Max has known for awhile now that a being not unlike himself dwells in the mirror, but he has achieved new peaks of delight in his relationship with his reflection recently. Baby Max in the Mirror knows the best jokes. Baby Max in the Mirror makes the best faces. Baby Max in the Mirror has the best dance moves. Max (the non-reflected variety) has discovered what I have known since his birth -- he is a wonder to behold. And now he knows it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We Don't Need No Stinking Washcloths!

Max has never been a huge fan of baths. He loves the nudity that's involved, and the splashing around in warm water also meets with his approval. When it comes to the hair- and face-washing, however, Max parts company with the bathing experience. I keep telling him that smearing food all over his person is self-destructive if he wishes to prolong the time between baths, but he's a real live-in-the-now kind of guy.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Max would like to thank all the moms that helped his mom learn how.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Lament Of The Large-Headed Baby

At Max's developmental check-up, the nurse practicioner suggested that Max might do some of the physical, balance-oriented stuff (crawling, walking, sitting independently, etc.)a bit later than average . . . not because he was premature, but because his head is really, really big (98th percentile!), and it might require greater than average strength and balance to haul it around. If you look closely at these pictures, you can see the slight blur, where his wee neck is trembling under the weight. Oh, well. We all have challenges in life, and Max's giant head will at least afford him a giant brain to help him invent solutions. Perhaps some sort of sling, to bear some of the weight? A lode-bearing hat? A summer home on the moon, where gravity does not pull quite so strongly? Hmm. . .

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Gaping Maw

Max got a new high chair from Granny and Gramps about a week ago, which allows him to sit at the table with his mom and dad and join in the dinner experience. He can be part of the conversation ("How are you -- no, wait, Max just spit a crunchy on me! So you were saying -- no, aarrgh, Max just smeared banana everywhere! Anyway, where were we? So what did Max do today?" and etc.). He can be at eye-level with the rest of us. And -- most importantly, as far as he is concerned -- the attached tray is fantastic for banging on to demand food, for painting with food when it arrives, and for spitting food onto to indicate desire to vacate the chair. Thanks, Granny and Gramps!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I Give You My Heart . . . And My Teething Biscuit

Max and Julia enjoyed a romantic picnic in the park this week. You may wish to shield your eyes from the cuteness. It's like looking at the sun too long . . . you can burn out your retinas from overexposure to these lovebirds!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Farewell, Sweet Exersaucer

Max went to Sacramento today for his developmental check-up, to make sure that his early arrival is not affecting his growth. Overall, the visit went very well. Max met with three different people -- a physical therapist, a nurse practicioner, and a social worker. The visit took two hours, and Max was definitely a trooper. We learned some interesting things about how babies develop, and how premature babies need some extra help to develop the muscles in the front of their bodies, because those develop last in the womb. As a result of this, the therapist wants us to increase Max's tummy time and decrease his time in walkers, exersaucers, etc. She also wants us to stop assisting Max to stand, so that he is encouraged to use his arm muscles to do it himself. Max loves his exersaucer, so this will be a bit sad for him. For this and other reasons, the physical therapist was not his favorite person. In fact, he threw a giant tantrum in her presence. She wasn't my favorite person, either, to be honest, but I did not throw a giant tantrum (not yet). The consensus of all of these medical professionals is that Max is 'adorable', 'so sweet', and 'absolutely wonderful'. Which we already knew, but it never hurts to hear it again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kanga and Roo

I remember when I was seven or eight months pregnant, thinking to myself, "I can't wait until I have the baby, and I don't have to carry this heavy weight in the front anymore". Oh, carefree youth.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Run While You Still Can!

Max likes eating. He likes biting, he likes gnawing, he likes chewing, he likes smearing food around, and he likes the sensation of a full belly. His enjoyment of food, in fact, far outweighs his desire to pause before putting something in his mouth, to reflect on whether it is even really food, how it might taste, where else it has been on its journey to his mouth, etc. The other day I was sitting beside Max on the floor, playing with him. I looked away for a second, and almost immediately felt an indescribably horrible sliminess envelop my toe. I looked down to discover that my bloodthirsty son had run across my foot in the course of his travels and decided to help himself. People ask, before you have a baby, if you'd prefer a boy or a girl. They never ask if you'd prefer a herbivore or a carnivore!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Secret Identity

I recently found out that Max's Uncle Josh sometimes refers to him as Spiderman, because he is long-legged and armed. I don't understand what he's talking about at all. Max never (especially not here) looks like he is balancing atop a flannel blanket web, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting bug/teething ring.

Male Bonding

Max learned a new manly ritual last night -- watching the basketball game with his dad. He wore the traditional outfit -- underwear and a stretched-out tee shirt -- and while he could not have a cold beer, he did have some warm breastmilk during a commercial break. Sadly, he also learned that basketball is a cruel mistress . . . if you look closely, you can see a salty tear trickling down Ian's face while Max attempts to comfort him. Sorry, Kings.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Doublemint Twins

Max had another encounter with his cousin Joseph yesterday. He and I spent the day with Joey and his mom (Ian's sister Jean). Unlike their last meeting, when their interest in each other was limited to half-hearted glances and the occasional face-poke, the cousins got very excited upon catching each others' eye. They both smiled, giggled, and reached out to touch one another's hair, which raised the cuteness levels dangerously high. When Grandma Tillman got home from work and found both her grandsons at home, she narrowly escaped bursting with the excitement of it all.

While Joey and Max seem to like each other a lot, we did catch a glimpse of what their two-year old interactions might be like. Max brought some of his toys to 'share' with Joseph. Notice that Max has all the toys in his lap.

Now look! Joseph appears to have commandeered the stash of toys. Max is becoming less and less sure about this sharing thing.

Max attempts to hoard some of the toys behind his back, to be played with later, when Joseph isn't looking.