Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Takes A Village

While Ian and I frantically pack up everything we've ever owned, Max has been hard at work, too. This weekend was especially grueling for him. On Saturday, he endured an afternoon of being catered to and adored by Grandma and Grandpa Tillman. He was forced to play in the pool, watch Lola Dog cavort, and eat hand-made smoothies. While he sees the unfairness of his burden, he is willing to shoulder it for the greater good.

Sunday was pretty rough, too. Max was taken to the park by Granny and Gramps, where he was cruelly made to eat a picnic lunch, play in the public pool, and flirt with humanity in general. I know, it is mean to make my baby carry on under the weight of so much grandparently attention, while I hoard the cushy job of packing in the ten-million degree apartment to myself, but I have always been selfish that way.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shelter From The Storm

This is what our lives have been reduced to. Everywhere you turn, there is a giant wall o' boxes. There isn't even any furniture anymore to break up the landscape -- we sold pretty much all our living room seating yesterday. We are planning on getting a new couch when we move, and a customer of Ian's was interested in our futon, loveseat, and most of our other belongings, as well. I was happy to get rid of the old furniture without the boredom and fuss of a garage sale, but the guy who bought it all was a bit off-kilter. He offered to buy most of our other stuff (none of which was for sale), and kept repeatedly joking that he would like to purchase Max while he was at it. The joke turned from funny to weird around the third time he brought it up. Fortunately, Max was at his grandparents' when the guy came to pick up his stuff, or I might have felt compelled to frisk him on his way out.

Max's bedroom is in the same advanced state of decay as the rest of the house, so I set up his napping space in the one clear patch the living room has left. (And it's only clear because the loveseat was there until yesterday.) Tuckered out from playing with various grandparents, dealing with constant routine disruption, and watching the spectacle of his parents' rapid descent into madness, Max finally succumbed to this new sleeping arrangement this afternoon. Look at the peaceful little oasis he creates in the midst of all the chaos. Oh, carefree youth!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Alien Invasion?

Some people (and you know who you are, Mike) have speculated that Max's generous-sized head and spectacularly advanced brain point to his having alien connections. I have always scoffed at this theory, until I got these pictures today in my email. The sender was listed as 'Zeguron of Neptune', which is weird in and of itself. The pictures themselves, however, seem to imply even more disturbing things. Here we have Max looking a little too innocently surprised, while his Granny points to the sky in terrified awe. Who is Zeguron, and what is he/she/it trying to tell me by sending me this? Is this a threat? A warning? An attempt to blackmail me or Max? Or is this a simple reach for contact from a benevolent species of email-proficient alien?

Here we have Max manning the controls of what appears to be a genuine spacecraft, looking very comfortable and familiar with the vehicle. If any crop circles turn up in our fox-tail yard tomorrow, I am going to have to have a very serious talk with my son.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thinking Outside The Box (If Only We Could)

We have officially reached that phase of packing where key things are now missing from our daily routine. Last night, mid-cooking, I realized that I had cleverly packed all of our potholders at the bottom of a big box of kitchen stuff, forcing me to improvise a protective mit out of scattered household items. Max has adapted to the new, boxed-in lifestyle with his characteristic good cheer, finding the boxes excellent launching pads for all sorts of gymnastics. He has learned to climb to the top of box piles, but he has not learned to reign in his excitement enough to avoid falling off again immediately. This has led to some disappointed tears. He is also fascinated by the tape gun, and has repeatedly requested a turn with it. So far, Ian has selfishly not acquiesced to these requests, but hope springs eternal.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Right Before The Claws Came Out

Immediately after this photo was taken, the following seven things happened: 1)Max reached up and affectionately pinched Edgar's ear. 2)Edgar reached down and not-so-affectionately showed Max his claws. 3)Max laughed and reached for Edgar's tail. 4)Edgar moved his tail to higher ground and raised a threatening paw. 5)Max laughed and made rapid smacking motions on the piano stool near Edgar's face. 6)Edgar narrowed his eyes and batted languidly at Max's hands. 7)I put down the camera, scolded both parties for their respective acts of violence, and removed a protesting Max from Edgar's vicinity. You will notice that nowhere was there any mention of Max stopping and thinking to himself, "Huh, I wonder if hitting/pinching someone with that many claws and that little empathy is detrimental to my health in any way?" Nor was there any indication of Edgar, as far as I could tell, contemplating a move to higher ground to avoid the hitting/pinching. Edgar and Max may not feel that they have very much in common, but they definitely share an innate ability to shield themselves from absorbing any kind of life lesson.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bigger Is Better

Yesterday, we had to take time out from packing to take Max into Sacramento for a head ultrasound. Max's ninety-eighth percentile head circumference, combined with his prematurity, led his doctor to order the test as a precaution, to make sure that there was no fluid accumulating in the skull. Although no one, including the doctor, expected the ultrasound to be abnormal in any way, it was still a huge relief to me when the doctor called this morning and said that there was nothing in Max's skull that didn't belong there. We are now free to revel in Max's giant head, and to celebrate the giant brain encased within. This photo shows off the hairstyle that Max was able to accomplish yesterday, with the help of the ultrasound gel. He's a punk-rocker in the making, I just know it. I think I'll get him a Ramones T-shirt and a tiny skateboard for his birthday.

The Call Of The Open Road

Operation Pack And Move is in full swing at the soon-to-be-vacated Tillman homestead. Max has been extremely interested and helpful every step of the way. He insists on testing the integrity of each and every box before it is loaded up.

He is a very hands-on kind of assistant, and I have several times overheard Ian wondering how he would get anything done without Max.

Goblin has also been a huge burden-lifter, shouldering way more than her fair share of the box-shredding, cat-cave making chores that are an integral part of any move. I am noticeably absent from any packing photos, because my job takes place behind the scenes. Ian (with the help of Max and the kitties) has been doing most of the actual packing labor, while I (without the help of Max or the kitties) have been in charge of keeping the small and/or furry members of Team Tillman out of Ian's way. As you can see from these photos, Ian has so far been way more successful at his job than I have been at mine. I have managed to keep Max from slicing pieces of himself or anyone else with the duct-tape gun, and from knocking any heavy boxes onto himself. I try to draw strength from the small victories, Chicken-Soup-For-The-Soul style.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This Can't Possibly Be Good

Max learned two new skills yesterday, and both are demonstrated in the photos below. Firstly, he removed his own shorts. There are no photos of him actually removing clothing, because he did it quickly and slyly and caught me unawares, but you can see the Donald Duck-ish aftermath. This is not a positive step in a good direction. Max learning how to use carpet friction to wriggle out of his own pants will inevitably lead, slippery-slope style, to him learning how to remove his own diaper. I can only hope and pray that the interval between him learning to independently shed his diaper and him learning to independently use the toilet is a short one.

Secondly, and equally disturbingly, Max used his new, clothing-optional freedom to dig in with his knees, providing the necessary traction to do something he has long dreamed of -- opening kitchen cupboards. He was tentative at first ...

... But when nothing jumped out at him, he quickly became quite bold.

On the plus side, he used all the bowls to write and perform a lovely rhythmic song, which I choose to believe was inspired by his great and abiding love for his Mama.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Max Discovers His Dark Side

Last night, during Max's usual pre-bed burst of energy, Ian and I beheld our child engaged in some peculiar behavior. He crawled over to the blank wall where our bookcase used to stand (it is now packed up -- the bookcase, not the wall), lowered his head like a charging bull, touched his forehead to the wall, raised his head like a leaf-seeking giraffe, then sat up and began smacking the wall with open hands. I had just begun to fear for his sanity when Ian said, "I think he's playing with his shadow." Which is exactly what he was doing. With the bookshelf in the way, and furniture blocking every wall (at least as high as Max can see), Max has never before had an unrestricted, undistorted, perfectly backlit view of his shadowy self. He stayed by the wall for quite awhile, slapping, head-butting, and kicking his own silhouette. I can't decide whether this indicates a healthy self-love, since Max is obviously drawn to his shadow, or a disturbing tendency towards self-abuse, since the shadow was the unfortunate victim of so much aggression. Time will tell, I guess. Time will tell.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Peace Talks

I cannot possibly convey to you how very happy I am to report that Max's nap strike seems to be at an end. After some difficult negotiation, some hurt feelings on both sides, and some lavender in the bath, Max finally succumbed to slumber at exactly 12:10p.m. this afternoon. How long this truce lasts remains to be seen, but for the first time in many days, there is reason to be hopeful that we can all come out of this with no major injuries sustained by either side. Further news will be reported as it happens.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Batten Down The Hatches

It turns out that there will be a (hopefully) brief interval in between our last day at the old house and our move-in day at our new apartment. Luckily, my parents have offered to let our nomadic selves camp out at their house until our new dwelling is Tillman-ready. I suspect that I will wake up in the middle of the night at least once while we are there and find Max missing, but at least my parents' bedroom will be right down the hall, so much more convenient than all the times they tried to smuggle him to their house when they lived in Napa. Knowing that he will be imposing upon his grandparents' hospitality for a few days, Max has already begun preparations. During our last visit, Max very kindly put on a demonstration of some of the many varieties of trouble he could create there.

Granny has been an early-childhood professional for a long time, as well as raising me, so she is no doubt prepared for some of Max's antics. The television cabinet has baby-finger barriers, which have (temporarily, at least) thwarted some TV raid attempts.

The kitchen is more vulnerable to attack. So far, Granny or Gramps has been able to protect the sanctity of the cupboards, but Max is always watching for the moment when vigilance is relaxed, and with several days in which to lay siege, victory is really only a matter of time.

Ah! Security breeches have sprung up already, and we haven't even moved in yet! Oh, sweet unexplored terrain!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Baby Banana Breath

Max's tooth is officially out and proud. After months of hiding, and weeks of barely peeking forth, the tooth has broken the gum and can be clearly seen by anyone who happens to walk past Max's open mouth.

This has thrown open the doors to all sorts of exciting new frontiers. Max can now experience the pleasure of biting and chewing, and I can experience the pleasure of feeding him real food, instead of jars, cans, or bowls of mush. He has very advanced fine motor skills (it's not a Davis parent thing to say, it's just the truth), and picking up small bites helps hone the pincers. Max can now feed himself about half a banana, cut up into bite-sized bananalets.

Of course, he does sometimes get ahead of himself, stuffing piece after piece into the maw without chewing and swallowing the previous bite first. This has occasionally led to heartbreak, when a too-big chunk of food has to be scooped out by the adult unlucky enough to be sitting closest.

Luckily, my resourceful child has discovered a handy storage system for bites that the mouth cannot accommodate. Dead center of the forehead is only one of many interesting and unexpected places that Max uses for squirreling away food. Guess what a few of the others are!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Great Tillman Migration

It recently occurred to us that we are moving in two weeks, and that we had therefore better get to packing. The last time we moved, I was about six months pregnant, and I accused fetal Max many times of hindering my packing and hauling progress. It turns out, however, that eleven-months-old Max throws up some hurdles, too. At least fetal Max never actively tried to unpack our freshly packed boxes, or take advantage of our divided attentions to wreak havoc on the cats. Fortunately, Ian has been an extremely busy bee, and has almost finished the daunting task of boxing up all our books. While the moving process is always a bit painful, it is also a good opportunity to organize and get rid of stuff, and we are all really excited to be in our new apartment, beginning a new, central-air-conditioning-enriched chapter of our lives.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rhythm and Blues

Now that Max does not sleep anymore, EVER, he has a lot more time for exploring the world around him. He has recently become obsessed with rhythm, and has begun trying to snap his fingers, dance, and sing whenever music is playing. He also makes music using spoons, tabletops, and other everyday tools. These egg-shaped rattles are the current favorite -- he shakes them constantly and vigorously, and needs one for each hand. He actually keeps time, sort of, confirming that he is, indeed, Ian's offspring.

To further confirm his paternity, Max is working on schooling his face to radiate salesman-like sincerity. He is getting quite adept, as you can see, and we have put him to work on the task of getting a good price for our Honda.

Sometimes, however, he takes the winning smile a shade too far, and winds up looking a teensy bit like The Joker. He has been watching some Batman cartoons with his dad, who apparently needs to have a talk with him about which characters are desirable to resemble.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anyone Got A Tranquilizer Dart?

Ah! Look how peacefully that baby sleeps, snuggled next to his gourd. (Those of you now asking "Why does he have a gourd?" have obviously never met Max's Gramps. He collects weird things. He is teaching Max to collect weird things. Hey, I don't question your family traditions.) You would think, looking at this photo, that Max is a professional sleeper at the peak of his game, wouldn't you? HA! This is pretty much the last nap he ever succumbed to -- and this picture was taken TWO DAYS AGO! Max woke up around nine yesterday (he did us the courtesy of sleeping in, at least), and did not go back to sleep until after eleven o' clock last night. No naps. None. And I tried everything -- nursing, singing, rubbing his back, darkening the room, staying in the room with him, leaving the room, rocking him, patting him, threatening him, begging him -- you name it, I did it. The worst and most ominous part is that Max did not even seem tired. He wasn't ever fussy, and he never got that glassy-eyed stare that means impending slumber. He was extraordinarily cheerful, busy, and active all day. Whenever I tried to put him down for a nap, he seemed politely baffled as to why I was suggesting sleep when sleep was so obviously not required. By the time Ian got home, Max was exuberantly playing with his egg-shaped shakers, and I was curled up in a fetal position nearby, drooling. And, yes, Granny and Gramps, I am aware that you could and will trot out any number of stories where baby Chelsa interfered with the sleep of others, and that the karmic balance of it all just delights you to no end. Laugh it up.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Seven Year Itch

Seven years and two and a half hours ago today, Ian and I celebrated our wedding and began our life together. Well . . . We began the married portion of our life together.

As many of you know, our lives actually intersected many long years before that wedding day. Ian and I met in Jr. High school, and began dating in May of 1993. This is a picture from Ian's senior prom, in June of '94.

I know that being high school sweethearts makes us a bit freakish in this day and age, and believe me, I know it's not for everyone. For me, however, there could never be anyone else. I can't imagine my life without Ian, and I am grateful that we met and married young, so we could share so much of our lives together.

I love you so very much, Ian, and I have enjoyed every minute of being your wife (snoring and leaving paper towels out notwithstanding). I can't wait for the next part of our adventure together to unfold!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Security Breech

Among the many crimes Max enjoys perpetrating throughout the day, messing with the TV remains an all-time favorite. The worst part is that he knows it is forbidden, and has accordingly begun pausing at the threshold of the TV cabinet, turning, and grinning at me before commencing wickedness. I can't help but feel mocked.

Once he senses that I have been demoralized enough by his taunting, Max proceeds to examine the treasure-trove of cords, knobs, and screens before him. Button-pushing and wire-pulling make up the bulk of the mischief, although he will occasionally branch off into yanking on the nearby lamp or trying to stick his fingers into the electrical socket, just to keep things from getting stale.

Max is smart enough, unfortunately, that he has figured out that certain buttons on the TV make certain interesting things happen. He has learned to change channels (and he NEVER picks the shows we want to see), turn the TV on and off, and get the xbox disk holder to open. The xbox was a favorite pastime, so much so, in fact, that Ian had to remove it to a secure and undisclosed location for its own protection. The moral of this story is that if Max is in the habit of visiting your house, you might want to remove your valuables to a Swiss bank account or lead-plated safe. And never reveal the combination to him, no matter how much he drools on you.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Energizer Bunny Lives At My House

Max is beautiful, good-natured, miraculous, and EXHAUSTING. He does not stop moving. Ever. Ever. If it is on the floor, he'll eat it. If it is dangerous, he'll poke it. If it is forbidden, he'll desire it. If it is a cat, he'll chase it. He has now been swiped at by cats four times (even Edgar!), knocked the lamp over on himself six times, and eaten unknown quantities of fur, cardboard, and carpet lint. While in Canada, his hobbies included climbing the stairs all the way to the top (and then trying with all his might to fly back down), opening kitchen drawers and then closing them on his own fingers, and trying to play video games on the playstation (while eating the wires). He has not yet electrocuted himself or run out into traffic, but only because I have hurled myself bodily in the path of peril. When we move, it might be into a padded cell, for at least one of us. The wonderful and weird thing about parenthood, though, is that in spite of all this, spending more than an hour away from him makes me crazy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Taking The Tooth For A Test Drive

Max's new tooth has inspired -- nay, driven -- Max to explore new frontiers of biting recently. He is no longer satisfied with simple mush, or even mush with a bit of texture. He is demanding culinary experiences that he can really sink his tooth into. Accordingly, whilst in Canada, his friends and relations offered him many new chewing experiences. Max eased in with soft fruits -- cantaloupe, cherries, strawberries, etc.

Feeling the need to nourish the enamel of his dental companion, Max moved on to the mineral-rich sands of several Canadian beaches.

When his tooth was sufficiently suffused with the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and grit, Max took on the challenge of chewing and eating a couple of rocks, fresh from the lake. He couldn't eat every bite of stone, but he is saving the leftovers for when the top teeth come in.

p.s. Those of you who like to comment on the blog will notice that there is an extra hoop to jump through now when publishing your comment. It is called word verification, and it is supposed to help get rid of those "anonymous comments", which are really just web spam and are arriving four of five times a day now. They are aggravating, and so hopefully this will deter the evil spirits that create them, but don't let it deter you!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Piano Men

Max got in some piano practice with Gramps at my godmother's house. He wanted to master a little Chopin, to amaze and delight his father when he returned. He reimagines Chopin's work quite ingeniously.

Back at the Fry family homestead, Max was in a more ragtime-esque kind of mood. He and Grandpa boogie-woogied with a spirit that the world has never known. With so many artistic outlets, and being a Davis child to boot, Max cannot help but be a renaissance baby of epic proportions.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stinky Baby Blues

Well, our Great Canadian Adventure has drawn to a close, and Max and I have returned to Davis and to our Ian. We were both very glad to be off the airplane and back on dry land. I actually suspect that the entire planeful of passengers we traveled with was equally glad, since Max produced an awe-inspiringly odiferous poo right as the plane was taking off. There was nowhere to change him until after we landed, so everyone on that airplane shared in the bounty. Stinkiness notwithstanding, Ian was very happy to be reunited with Max, and declared him bigger and better than ever. I think I even saw a tear of joy in Ian's eye, although it may have been the diaper making his eyes water.

Our week was action-packed, and there might be a backload of Canada pictures on the blog for the next little while. Mysteriously absent from every picture except this one, however, is the famous Aly "Bitterness" Fry. She was actually introducing Max to the pleasures of swinging until the cameras came out, but her refusal to be captured on film has become the stuff of legend, and she made a break for it. To be fair, Max had also had a barfing incident earlier in the day, and Aly may have wisely concluded that an already barfy baby in a fast-moving swing deserved a wide circumference of caution.

Jessi, too, headed for higher ground. Poor Max. Just because he puked once or twice, and just because my grandma happened to ask if we were wearing coconut oil (Max puked banana cream pie, and so yes, in a way we were wearing coconut oil), and just because this happened to lead into a long, grotesque discussion of the smell and color of Max puke, even his most devoted fans started cutting him a wide berth.

We went back for him eventually. (Side note: be sure to admire his frontal tuft, standing at attention in the swing's air current!)

Yesterday we had a picnic at Champion Lake. Max was getting a little burnt out at that point, and shrieked (not so much with joy) when placed in the water. There was another baby having a picnic with his or her family nearby. Max eyed the baby a little, but focused mainly on his lunch. Dad and Jessi both arrived at the unbiased opinion that the baby was not as cute as Max. Jessi found him/her too fat (Other Baby, if for some weird reason you are reading this blog, I am really sorry), and Dad felt that it did not have a firm enough grasp on its masculinity/femininity.

After we were done eating, swimming, and mocking innocent babies, we went over to my grandma's house for supper. Here is Max with his mama, his grandpa, and his great-grandma. Oh, we're cute.

Monday, August 07, 2006

All Things Canadian

Max is learning all about Canadian Pride on this trip. He ate Canadian sand, drank Canadian lake, peed on his Canadian mum (twice!), and I think he is learning French. I'm pretty sure I heard him say "Le Diaper" this morning.

He is also learning about Canadian industry. He visited the dam with his granny and gramps and I, and he and Gramps were both very enthusiastic about seeing the dam in action. He has not yet visited the pulp mill, it being sort of loud and somewhat toxic, but he will be getting a summer job there as soon as he can find a small enough hard hat.

Max has also been vigilant about keeping his aunties busy. By visiting, Max and I are doing our part to demonstrate the importance of family planning to the sisters. Jillian tried to draw Max last night, but was hampered by his fervent desire to eat the sketch and all tools involved in creating the sketch. Jillian has wisely decided to draw Max from photographs of him, instead.

Auntie Jessi's love of Max is great, but is she equal to the task keeping up with him? At first it looks promising ...

... But by day three, Max is still going strong, but Jessi has collapsed on the sofa. I wonder if she still has enough energy to keep Max from pillaging that pile of playstation wires? Only one way to find out ...