Monday, July 31, 2006

How To Avoid Monsters Under Your Bed

In Two Easy Steps

Many of us can remember having childhood fears about sinister creatures hiding under our beds. Some of us spent the best years of our lives, the years when we were actually encouraged to sleep as much as possible, avoiding bedtimes because of our fears. Max, on the other hand, has found a novel way to confront and overcome this childhood trauma. Rather than waste valuable time being afraid of the goblin under his bed, he has very sensibly given his bed to the goblin, and taken up residence on a futon mattress on the floor. He is a tactical genius! Any monster that wanted to hide under the futon would have to be so thin and flat that its strength would be badly compromised. Plus, by freely giving up his bed, he cements a useful alliance that he can draw upon when times are tough. If you look closely in the crib, you can actually see the goblin, guarding Max's slumber. Child and mythical beast can both rest easy, knowing that their ally will alert them to any danger. What a beautiful example of mutually beneficial friendship in action!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Where The Wild Things Are

The night Max wore his gymboree suit and made mischief of one kind ...

... and another ...

... his mother called him "WILD THING!" and Max said "I'LL EAT YOUR CAMERA!" ...
... so he was sent to bed without wearing anything.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Exercises In Futility

This is the barricade that Chelsa built.

This is the reason for the barricade that Chelsa built.

This is the Max circumventing the barricade that Chelsa built.

This is the cat food that motivated the Max to circumvent the barricade that Chelsa built.

This is the barricade that Chelsa rebuilt.

This is the Max preparing for battle with the barricade that Chelsa rebuilt.

This is the Max engaging in battle with the barricade that Chelsa rebuilt.

This is the Max getting stuck during the battle with the barricade that Chelsa rebuilt.

This is the Max getting hopelessly wedged deep in the barricade that Chelsa rebuilt.

If you repeat this sequence (with minor variations) forty or fifty times, you have before you a good working knowledge of my day yesterday. Seriously, I am wide open to suggestion . . . How do I keep the star-crossed love affair between Max and the cats' food from blossoming?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crossing The Great Divide

Max is now extremely comfortable with the fine art of crawling. Far too much so, in fact, if you ask the cats. He can make a lap around the couch in fifteen seconds flat. He can be across the kitchen and elbow-deep in the cats' water dish in the blink of an eye. He can leap over small obstacles in a single bound (or a single mad scramble that often ends in a face-plant, for the literal among us), however cleverly that obstacle has been designed or constructed to impede him. There is only one frontier that Max still struggles with . . .

. . . crossing the threshold from the living room to the kitchen. He doesn't mind crawling on the carpet, he doesn't mind crawling on the kitchen tiles, but he dislikes transitioning between the two. So deep is his desire to make mischief in every crevice of the house that he does brave the journey. As a precautionary measure, however, he always lifts his knees off the ground during the crossing, and spider-walks into the kitchen on tiptoe and fingertip. He looks like a tiny human bridge.

Hmm. I wonder if these contraptions would help me walk. Nah, they're probably just for chewing on.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Now that he has the muscle tone to squirm freely, and the space to stretch out, Max has taken to sleeping in all sorts of interesting positions. Yesterday, I went in to check on him at naptime, and I found to my amusement that he had rolled on his tummy and was sleeping with his bum high up in the air. With the diaper providing extra padding, and his stripy shorts adding just the right amount of emphasis, Max's little baby booty was easily the most eye-catching landmark for miles around. Somehow, baby bums are just way, way cuter than the adult version.

p.s. I'd like to dedicate this blog post, particularly the title, to Justin.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

South Side

Ian, Max, Ian's parents and I all made a one-day trek down to southern California to introduce Max to his Tillman great-grandparents. Max is always ready for an adventure, especially when it includes an airplane full of potential admirers.

Upon arrival, Max and Joseph quickly baby-ified their great-grandparents' house. They found many rich mischief-making lodes, which they mined with enthusiasm. Each of them tried rock-climbing on the fireplace, harvesting and eating the leaves of house plants, and stealing candles and floral arrangements for their own sinister purposes. There was a coffee table in the living room that was the perfect height for head-bonking, and both boys were drawn to it like moths to a flame. Fortunately, with constant vigilance by all adults present, we ended the day without anyone sustaining massive head trauma.

The angle of this picture makes it look as if Max and his great-grandma Tillman are roughly the same size. In truth, Max is rather large for a baby, and his great-grandma is rather small for a great-grandma, but I think she has at least another year before he outstrips her in height.

Max learned some valuable secrets of Tillman male-dom from his great-granddad. Hopefully, he will use his new knowledge benevolently.

Ian's grandma is an identical twin. When Ian was little, he apparently used to think that he had two grandmas. I think Max was slightly confused by having his great-grandma seemingly on both sides of him at once. The real great-grandma is on the left. The imposter (otherwise known as Aunt Lorene) is on the right.

Max and Joseph were not impressed by the day-long photography session, and were deaf to our pleas to take advantage of this rare accumulation of all Tillmans. Joseph would only accept a position in this picture if his sippy cup was immortalized with him. So, for posterity, we have Great Grandma and Grandpa Tillman, Max, Joseph, and Sippy Cup.

Rather than embrace the seriousness of the occasion, Max chose to tickle Joseph's armpit mid-picture.

Joseph tried to retaliate, but accidentally got Uncle Ian's armpit, instead. Armpit violations notwithstanding, we did manage to capture four generations of Tillman men in photographic immortality. That's pretty amazing!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Count Maxula

Well, I am sad to report that Max has begun using his two-day-old tooth for evil already. We knew he had been waking up a lot at night, but our love for him blinded us to the fact that he was stepping out and draining the blood of innocent victims up and down our street. No wonder our neighbors' constant stream of visitors has mysteriously dried up. Apparently, he has been using various teething toys to sharpen his tooth into a fang, and his mercilessness is already legend in the vampire community.

Kids just grow up so fast, you know? One day they are so small and helpless, innocently sleeping beside you. Before you know it, and despite your best efforts to influence them in the right direction, they become bloodsucking fiends. I can't help but blame myself. If only I hadn't read all those Stephen King books while I was pregnant.

Sure, Max has tried to come up with a cover story, something about how popsicles ease the pain of teething, and raspberry popsicles make gruesome-looking but innocuously-sourced drool, but he can't pull the wool over my eyes anymore. I'll be wearing garlic to bed tonight.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Drumroll, Please!

Goodbye, toothless grin! Max's first official tooth is currently in the process of rearing its tiny pointed head. I heard something go "clink!" against his sippy cup yesterday during lunch, and when I peeked in there, I could see (sort of) and feel (most definitely) a sharp ridge on his lower gum. I must say, I am a bit relieved. Even though I know that babies do things in their own time, and that there are wide ranges of 'normal' development, part of me was beginning to wonder if I had birthed the only baby in the universe who was missing the tooth-growing gene. Thank goodness I can put that fear to rest . . . now, what can I find to obsess about next?

Multiple attempts to photograph the newborn tooth were largely unsuccessful. Max resisted (understandably) having his mouth held open and photographed, and the tooth is difficult to see even in person. If you look inside the circle in this picture, zoom in, squint, and use your imagination a little, you can sort of experience the dental wonder.

Max is not exactly rejoicing over this new milestone. He has been slightly crabbier than usual for a couple of days now. He has also been waking up three times (or more) during the nights, demanding at least twenty minutes of breastfeeding and spiritual comfort each time. Most of all, he is drooling like a mad weasel. In this picture, you can really see what this tooth has cost him. There is a glistening ring of drool clearly visible around the neck of his shirt, he is glassy-eyed and apathetic, and even his tuft of hair is not standing up with its usual aplomb. The plus side, which I keep trying to emphasize to him, is that being coated in drool will probably give him a slight edge in surviving the heat. He is not looking on the bright side yet, but he will.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No More Spaghetti, I Say!

We tried Max out on a new food last night -- spaghetti. It was blended up, but not pureed, the idea being that Max will ease into the whole chewing thing by getting gradually chunkier foods. It is a good theory. I read about how to smooth this transition in several books, and they are all agreed that this is the way to go. Max does not concur. He did, at great personal cost to both me and himself, eat most of his meal, but he wore a great deal of it, gagged a couple of times, and -- well, I think this face really says it all. Ian was actually a bit worried about posting this picture, fearful that we would be mistaken for a family of spaghetti-eating zombies. I see his point. However, sometimes a picture captures a moment so succinctly that it must be shared.

This morning was a new day, and the breakfast of blended (but not pureed) blueberries proved a much more popular dining choice. He still ended up smearing it everywhere (he tends to put his hands up while eating new textures, in a warding off gesture, and this allows food from both the spoon and his face to get on his hands, and to travel to every corner of the universe from there), but he was at least pleased while smearing. Someday he will be a teenager, and I will long for the days when it was hard to get him to eat. Right now, that is difficult to imagine.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Round And Round The Futon, The Max Chased His Mama

Max's new favorite game is "chase", and he is the master of the flank attack. He will circle around the couch in pursuit, then change direction while hidden from his victim by the couch, so that every corner turned is fraught with peril. He is a tactical genius.

Look at that blood-thirsty grin! He knows there is no escape for us.

Observe his confident stride. Like a deer in headlights, we are powerless to even attempt flight.

Oh no! We've lost sight of him. He could be anywhere! Don't panic, that's the key. We'll just turn around and --

--AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH! My foot! My foot! He's got me! It's too late for me! Save yourselves!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Hands Of Chaos Jr.

When our friend Mike lived with Ian, he would often refer to "the hands of chaos", which is a force that surrounds Ian and sometimes breaks or misplaces objects that Ian interacts with. I always found this tremendously funny, probably because I didn't live with Ian at the time, and was therefore rarely the victim of this force, and also because (to the best of my knowledge) Mike did not call me the hands of anything. Recently, Max has begun to show signs that he shares Ian's appreciation for disarray. For reasons best known to himself, he cannot abide by clean loads of laundry being left neatly piled on a chair or couch. Here he is, systematically removing each item of clothing, throwing it on the floor, kicking it once or twice for good measure, and then grabbing the next item. When the whole pile is on the floor, he will lower himself to a sitting position and stir the clothes around with his hands, organizing them in a system understood by no one except (possibly) Max himself. I am trying to teach him to fold towels while he is at it, but this has so far proved less successful than I would like.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why Do We Buy Him Toys?

Here we have a small representation of the many, many toys at Max's disposal, ready and itching to be played with and explored. Which of these almost infinite choices will Max select?

Trick question. The answer is: Max will reject all of these clean and colorful activities, and will spend hours hunting, examining, and (if not apprehended) eating pieces of trash or bits of filth that he finds on the ground. Thanks for playing our Max Trivia game, folks.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Festival Of Aquatic Cuteness

Max and Joseph were adorable in concert once again yesterday, and to add to the cuteness, we put them in swimsuits and tossed them in the pool. They had a talk about it afterwards, and both agreed that the best part of the experience was a)getting water poured on them by Granddad, and b)getting to eat creamsicles and not getting wiped off afterwards because the pool rinsed them off. The lighting here makes Phil (aka Granddad) look slightly maniacal, but the picture is mostly deceptive. Phil is rarely maniacal, although he does keep mentioning getting the boys guns that shoot marshmallows and letting them loose on each other.

It is difficult to capture the exact cutest moment when photographing an active baby, and it turns out that the difficulty increases exponentially when two babies are involved. Here we have Joseph flashing the camera a winning smile, but Max is desperately trying to escape supervision and swim out to sea. Only Grandma's firm grip on the seat of Max's swimtrunks prevents this from being a photo of Joseph alone.

And now we have Max on board, apparently under the impression that he is posing for GQ magazine, but Joseph has lost his enthusiasm for the camera. In between this picture and the last one, he has tried to jump over the side of the pool and make a bid for freedom. Here, he is explaining to Grandma why his plan would have worked beautifully, if only she hadn't caught him and redeposited him in the water.

Unfortunately, at this point it occurred to both boys that they could tag team us. Joseph is (unbeknownst to us, because we don't speak Baby) outlining a plan to Max, involving an elaborately timed distraction by Joey that will give Max the window of opportunity necessary to escape the pool.

And, even more unfortunately, here we have the plan in action, working beautifully. Joseph attempts escape from the pool, draws Grandma's restraining hands away from Max, and Max is caught here mid-poolside leap. Last we saw of him, he was high-tailing it to dry ground. We think he's headed for the Canadian border. We'll let you know if and when we hear from him.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Peas In A Pod

Max (and his mom and dad) received another visit from Cousin Joey (and his mom and dad) this weekend. We had some action-packed days! We were all very interested to see what would happen now that both boys are crawling, and I must admit that I personally expected some bonked heads, toy stealing, and tears. My expectations were pleasantly thwarted, however. Max and Joseph did not exactly play together, but they imitated each other, chased each other around in a train of adorable diapered bums, and spoke a rare dialect of baby to each other that none of the rest of us quite understood.

Joey was nice enough to share his dad with Max, and the three of them instantly bonded over a truck book. I found the truck book rich in character, but somewhat thin in the plot department. Maybe you have to be a baby. Or a Josh.

While Max and Joseph did not really argue, they did get in each other's way a lot. If one of the boys was going somewhere, and found the other boy in his path, he would just keep steam-rolling ahead. The really funny thing is that rarely did the one being steam-rolled seem to mind, or even to notice. At one point Joseph actually sat down right in Max's lap, and began playing with a toy that Max was holding. Undaunted, Max picked up something else and played on. I mean, if someone you had just met walked up to you, sat down in your lap, and took your stuff, you'd at least raise an eyebrow, right?

It did occur to Max a couple of times that sharing is not quite as good as having everything to yourself. Look at him giving Joseph the evil eye, while he plots how to reclaim prime real estate in front of the puzzle.

The inconvenience of having to share was forgotten, however, when Max discovered that Joseph shares his deep and insatiable desire for banging on stuff. Finally, someone who really understands!

Is it possible that Joseph not only shares the drumming fever, but surpasses Max's great love of the art? Surely not!

Okay, okay, Joseph, you win! Your drumming trumps mine in both volume and longevity. Maybe I'll take up the oboe, or the sax. The sax is pretty manly. Can I have my Mama now?