Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SuperMax Takes On Halloween

As many of you know (as any of you within range of my constant complaints on the subject know), we had a difficult time settling on a costume for Max. I wanted that subtle combination of unique, comfortable, and adorable that is so difficult to come by. In the end, time pressure and Ian's unceasing campaigns won out, and Max became Superman. It is not tremendously unique (I saw at least ten other Supermen while trick-or-treating today), but it seemed relatively comfortable, and it was definitely adorable.

The city of Davis does a special afternoon trick-or-treating, where kids can go to various stores and trick-or-treat. Max and I set out with a giant gang of little girls (we went with some friends who have kids around the same age, all of them female except for Max) and took on the town. Max didn't do much candy collecting, since he can't eat much of it, but he did get a token chocolate bar from his dad, who was among the treat-passer-outers.

Right up until the second I took this picture, Max and Julia were reaching out to each other and smiling. Now Max looks like he is about to barf, and Julia looks half-asleep. It's how any really good date should end.

After we got home, napped, and ate dinner, I did give Max a tiny piece of celebratory Halloween kit-kat bar. He has never been given chocolate before, and was amazed by the deliciousness of it. You can observe his eyes, half-closed with chocolatey bliss.

When the chocolate was all gone, a bereft Max had trouble finding reasons to go on. Then the sugar high hit, and he bounced off the walls for awhile before calling it a night.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Photo Ops

You know how, when you're little, there is a whole list of things that your parents do to irritate you that you know you will never do? And then, somehow, being a parent totally mutates you into a person who does each and every thing on the list? For me, as the daughter of a photographer (and an eccentric photographer to boot), I was frequently photographed in awkward positions, with the sun in my eyes, feigning a wide range of emotions while really all I felt was aggravated that the sun was in my eyes. I always believed that I would not allow this cycle of cruelty to continue. And yet ...

Here we have Max at the playground yesterday. He is happy on the swing at first, and downright adorable with his tuft wafting in the breeze. It's the perfect time for a picture.

He is so adorable, in fact, that even when he begins visibly reaching out, requesting exodus from the swing, I try to convince him that he is still having fun so that I can get the perfect shot from the perfect angle.

Next we move on to a bouncy tractor ride. Again, Max is intrigued initially, and even makes some 'vroom' sounds while bouncing.

Ultimately, the tractor's lack of stability is troubling to Max. My desire to photograph him in the tractor long outlives his desire to be in the tractor. I try saying 'vroom' to renew his interest. My vrooming falls on deaf ears.

By the time we move over to the horsey, Max is not even initially receptive. Look at his expression of barely contained terror! When will this torment be over?

Granny and Gramps (who are also snapping pictures at a furious rate) try to rally the troops. The troops take things into their own hands and try to shimmy down the side of the horsey, when they see that no aid and succor is being offered.

This plane ends up being the most successful playground toy, and Max's enjoyment lasts the longest on it. Perhaps this is because it's less springy and therefore more stable than the other toys. Or perhaps it is because Max labors under the impression that he can use it to pilot himself away from his family and onward to safety. I wonder what will be on Max's list of things that I do to irritate him that he will never do to his kids? Other than this day, I mean.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I mentioned yesterday how much Max is eating. Both quantity and variety have increased, and this has led, logically but grossly, to an increase in the quantity and variety at the other end of the digestive cycle. Fine. Whatever. I taught preschool, I'm pretty tough, I can handle a little poo. Except that the last two nights in a row -- TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW, mind you -- Max has somehow managed to poo not only well in excess of his daily quota, but out the side of his diaper and onto whatever is unfortunate enough to be underneath him. Last night, he was in his high chair when the bomb dropped, and the entire seat of the high chair was disgusting, as was the entire seat of Max. Ian cleaned the chair, I cleaned the Max, and I honestly cannot say which of us got the short end of the stick. Tonight, I was caught unawares by how serious a diaper-change I was undertaking until it was way too late. Mother and child were both covered in unspeakable filth, and then, to add insult to injury, Max peed on me while I was trying to piece our shattered lives back together. I chucked him immediately into the bath, where he peed again, and then attempted escape. No shame, folks. No shame at all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bottomless Pit

Well, its official. As of this morning, Max now eats the most of anyone in the family. For breakfast today, he consumed an entire banana, a peanut-butter and jam sandwich, a yo baby yogurt (peach flavor), and a string cheese. I won't tell you exactly what Ian or I ate, but neither of us even came close to that. Ian's sister always used to complain that there was never any food in the house during Ian's teenage years. I always thought she was exaggerating slightly, but I see now that she was telling the simple truth. Ian and I have plans to discuss taking out a loan to pay for groceries with a bank officer later this week. Max won't be a teenager for a while, but I feel that it is good to lay the groundwork for the future.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In Pursuit Of Pumpkins

Last year, Max was exactly forty-five days old on Halloween, and while we still made him dress up in a costume and go trick-or-treating, he will probably mostly remember it, if at all, as the day he inexplicably had to wear a fur wolf suit in eighty degree weather. This year, while Max is still not quite old enough to understand or anticipate Halloween, he is definitely old enough to enjoy watching and exploring the spectacle of the holiday. Consequently, we ventured forth today on our first family pumpkin patch adventure.

There were a lot of different varieties of pumpkin, and Max wanted to see, pat, and lick them all. He was a little uncertain at first, and explored pumpkins from the safety and privacy of his wagon.

There was so much to see and touch, however, that his restraint did not last long. He dove into the pumpkin patch headfirst, determined to find the best possible family jack-o-lantern.

We could tell he had found the exact right pumpkin when we saw the satisfied smirk on his face. When we tried to pick him up and put him back in the wagon, however, he immediately tried to get back to his new pumpkin brethren. The fact that the ground was hard, and had occasional sharp dirt clods and pumpkin vines, drove not the slightest wedge between him and his new squash family.

Eventually, we persuaded him to come home with us, but he did smuggle this tiny pumpkin out with him, and carried it all the way home. (I don't know if you can really see the tiny pumpkin in the picture, but if you look closely, it is the thing in Max's hands that he is looking at instead of the camera.) I am pretty sure I saw Max give the pumpkin a kiss before we put it in the car. Is it the orangeness? Does he feel a sense of kinship, because he and the pumpkins share a certain roundness of head? Or is he callously planning to scoop out their guts and taste his first pumpkin pie? We cannot hope to know, although I did see him with a Betty Crocker cookbook this evening.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Spooky Halloween Rant

Dear People Who Make Halloween Costumes: Thank you for your many delightful and adorable costume creations. I can see from all the advertisements that you seem able to find an unlimited supply of rosy-cheeked babies who are thrilled to wear hats, hoods, face makeup, masks, and fur-covered polyester outfits. I would like to humbly submit, however, that my son does not seem to be one of them. As you can see from the included picture, we live in California, where it is not exactly fur-covered suit weather by the end of October. In addition, my son has an unusually large head, with a tendency to get unusually sweaty. He is therefore adverse, somewhat understandably, to head-coverings of any kind. While I have seen warmer weather costume options for girls -- fairy princess suits, cheerleader outfits, etc. -- I am not yet an enlightened enough parent to allow my one-year-old son to defy gender conventions and select one of these. Perhaps you can help me to find an option that is comfortable, practical, and baby boy friendly. Thanks.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jolly Green Giant

Max has mostly graduated away from the jars of baby food, and has embraced finger foods of various kinds. This is more convenient in many ways, and it is pleasant not to always know the answer to the question "I wonder what that would look like pureed?". It is also messier, however, and there is no way not to make that an understatement. It is also more challenging to get Max to eat balanced meals, since he feels completely free to throw whatever he doesn't like on the floor or down his pants. I was pleased today, therefore, when Max accepted and then devoured several trees of broccoli at my grandparents' house. Some of them were bigger than his head (which is in itself of considerable size), but he gnawed away at them like a professional.

Why broccoli, which is smelly, strong-tasting, and a weird texture is considered food of the gods, while other more palatable foods suffer the humiliation of floor-hurling, is a mystery for the ages. Not only did Max like the broccoli, however, he buried his face in it like a lion eating a gazelle. There were broccoli flowers in between all four of his teeth, up his nose, and all over his chin like a leafy green beard. I'm going to rub broccoli all over him on Halloween, and he can be that little friend of the Jolly Green Giant's, Sprout. I have been looking for a novel costume idea.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Splash Zone Widens ... And The World Trembles

I don't know if you can really tell from this still photo, but Max has begun violently splashing in the bath the last few scrubbing sessions. I invariably end up just as wet as he does, despite my place on the sidelines of the bath. You can't really see the waves he is creating, and I have forbidden photos of my bedraggled, drowned-rat self to be used as evidence, so you will have to rely on his face to really experience the magic. If you look closely, you can see that his eyes are slitted almost closed, so that he doesn't get water in his own eyes. Since he is in the 98th percentile for height, his eyes are far enough away from his hands that you can imagine the strength of the wave that would necessitate this kind of caution.

His other move, which he can be seen preparing for here, is a sort of modified cannon ball. Gripping the bar along the side of the bathtub (which I still see no use for, other than Max's sinister applications), he will stand up, get all the way up to tippy toes, and then sit down abruptly, causing a bum tsunami to rock the bathroom.

This photo was taken immediately before Chelsa was pulled into the bath by Max, where she disappeared down the drain and has not been heard from since. Max is believed to have sent down his bath boat as a life preserver, so there is reason to hope that Chelsa remains among the living. Teams of tiny spulunkers are investigating.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


As part of a new bed time routine, we are trying to get Max used to winding down with Dad for a little while before going to sleep. The experiment has been succeeding a little too well. Max finds it so relaxing to curl up on his Dad and listen to music that he has decided that Dad's chest is his new bed. It is then sometimes hard to persuade him to transplant himself to the actual bed when the time comes. I don't mind this so much -- it ties up both Max and Ian, leaving me the bed to myself -- but Ian keeps claiming that his lower back dislikes staying in one position so long. Whatever. I'm sure they'll work it out. Meanwhile, I'm going to stretch out in the queen-size bed, starfish-style. Ahhh.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Frontiers

Rather than learning to walk, Max seems to be taking his movement skills in an even more vertical direction, and apparently has some internal checklist of every climbable piece of furniture in our house. He has been climbing the couch for awhile now, and attempting to go from there to the sweet, forbidden land of the computer desk. More recently, he achieved the summit of the rocking chair, and has used this launching pad to try scaling the vertical blinds and to climb onto the piano. Max is not the kind of guy to rest on his laurels, however. The other day, I turned my back for, like, two seconds, and when I turned back, this picture was before me. What I mind the most about this is not so much that he can now evidently climb the kitchen chairs. What disturbs my sleep at night is the look on his face, as he contemplates the new and destructive forms of mayhem this accomplishment opens up for him. If he can climb the kitchen chairs, he can access the kitchen table. If he can access the kitchen table, he can spill/smear/break/scatter any dish or substance his unwary parents leave out for him. His future is looking bright, indeed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Greetings From Whoville

Hi, my name is Chelsa, and I'm a Max-hair-petting-aholic. I am trying to get a handle on it, but it is an uphill battle, with plenty of steps backwards. Now that Max has more hair, and now that his hair is fluffier and wispier, my addiction has become even more difficult to surmount.

Luckily, Max does not seem troubled by his mother's compulsions. Hair horns merrily waggling in the breeze, he continues his bathtime boat captain duties with admirable focus and dedication. He can now put the correct shapes in the correct holes three times out of every five. (The boat has those geometric matching shapes and holes.) It must be that giant brain.

While Max is devil-may-care about the shapes his hair may take while he plays, he is not really a fan of getting the hair rinsed when the time comes. I try to ease him into the whole water on the head thing, but his suspicious nature gets in my way. I am trying to make him think that we are just playing with the water, pouring it near but not on the head, but you can see by his face that he is not buying it. The giant brain has disadvantages, too. Increasingly so.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Max had his twelve-month check-up on Tuesday, and he is (surprise) still perfect. He now weighs in at twenty three pounds, two ounces, bringing him up to the forty ninth percentile for his age. He is thirty two and three quarters inches tall, (ninety-eighth percentile), and his sizable noggin is still sizable (fifty centimeters around and off the charts percentile-wise). Not bad for a scrawny little urchin who weighed in at five pounds not so very long ago! Max is doing everything he is supposed to be doing as far as language development, social skills, and gross motor skills, and his lurking and hoarding skills are far above average for his age, as you can see from this photo. Max did not enjoy any part of the doctor's appointment, and said so frequently and loudly. He seemed to find getting weighed particularly offensive, and retaliated by peeing on the scale, the nurse, the wall behind the scale, and the sticker the nurse offered him as a bribe. He is also above average on the vengeance peeing scale. Way above average.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pizza is good.

As many of you know, I like to make pizza. This is good, because Chelsa and Max like to eat pizza. Anyway, I made a particularly nice one last night. Anyway, there is none left, but if you ask nicely I will make more.



Max has now achieved a skill long-awaited by his mama -- he gives kisses. His kissing technique involves opening his mouth and applying it, sucker-fish style, to the object of his affection, and he seems to be kissing the plastic pig from his barnyard set at least as often as he is kissing Ian or I, but it is still heart-stoppingly adorable. Look out, Ladies!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Conditional Love

Ahhh. A serene family dinner. We're practically a Norman Rockwell painting, for goodness' sake! You can almost feel the warm glow of familial love radiating peacefully out at you, can't you? The only thing marring this lovely scene is the look on my father's face. Is he laughing? Screaming? What, in the midst of all this tranquil togetherness, could possibly be causing such an expression to occur? Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Aha! A more detailed analysis of the scene reveals the source of Gramps' distress and/or hilarity. Max, left to his own devices with some ravioli, has been quietly creating a mess which radiates outward for an alarming number of feet on each side. He seems to have dyed his eyebrows red with tomato sauce, there are pasta bits up his nose, and we haven't even discovered what may have been lost down the front of the diaper yet!

Once the coating with slime is as complete as Max can make it, he of course requests a hug. Despite our appearance of all-encompassing love, Max has trouble getting his request met. For some reason, not only is no one hugging him, but they are hastily backing away from the table. What kind of bonds does this seemingly happy family really share, if they can be so easily shaken by a little tomato sauce? Oh, the seedy underbelly of any family dinner is a dark and disturbing thing to behold! Is there any real love to be found anywhere, or is it all just a shallow facade?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Ian!

If you are asking yourself why I picked this picture for Ian's birthday post, then chances are that you don't know him very well. Not only does Ian like Superman a lot, but he is quite super, and I am giving him the birthday gift of not posting embarrassing pictures of him blowing out candles while Max wipes slime on him (and I do have such pictures on file). Ian, you are an amazing gift to my life and to the life of our family, and I love you muchly. Happy Birthday, and accept this picture as a hint of your gift to come (I wonder what it could be?).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Birds Of A Feather

Yesterday, Ian and Max and I made the trek down to Riverside and back for Ian's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Max is a seasoned traveler by now, and weathered the flights with his good cheer unruffled. We had a really wonderful day. It was a nice opportunity to admire Ian's grandparents' amazing accomplishment of sixty years together, and to enjoy being with the family that is the fruit of those sixty years. Max and his cousin Joseph had yet another opportunity to run amok together, which of course means that we have yet another opportunity to post the photographic fallout on this blog.

Like most houses that do not shelter babies full time, Ian's grandparents' home is full of fantastic opportunities for baby mischief. After herding/corralling/reprimanding both boys for awhile, Jean (Ian's sister and Joey's mom) and I decided to take the babies outside, where the scope for trouble is not necessarily less, but the possibility of breaking stuff is at least minimized. After exploring for a little while, Joseph decided to help out his great-grandparents by doing a little gardening for them. He repeatedly tried to prune their flowers for them, and was baffled by his mother's reluctance to allow him to perform this chore.

Max appeared to be crawling vigorously around the walkways while Joseph and his mother argued about the merits of Autumn pruning, but clearly he took in the entire debate, and was firmly on Joey's side. While Grandma and Aunt Jean were distracted by Joey, Max attempted to finish what Joey had started. Most of the flowers survived nicely.

Naturally, once you have trimmed and pruned and eaten all the stray leaves on the lawn, you're going to want to do a little watering. The only thing standing between Riverside and a major flooding incident was the fact that neither Max nor Joseph figured out where the hose turned on and off, or how to work the sprinkler.

Efforts to bring chaos into an otherwise orderly backyard complete, Max, Joseph, and Phil (their granddad), had a photographic destiny to fulfill indoors. Elaine (Ian's mom) made this shirt for Phil when Ian and Jean were little. She got some extra material, meaning to make matching outfits for Ian and Jean. Time apparently marched on, and she never got around to making Ian and Jean anything, but she was only off by one generation. Look how cute they all are. Max noticed that his shirt matched the others' about fifteen minutes after putting it on. He found it fascinating. He kept pulling his own shirt up so he could see it, then pointing to Joey and Phil. This picture is one of many of the trio in their team uniforms, but is the one that has all three making the closest thing to a smile.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cat Wrangling

Yesterday afternoon, Max and I were having a lovely time sitting in the living room playing with his big tub of birthday quatros (like legos but bigger). Feeling relatively safe leaving him for a moment, I went into the kitchen to get myself a glass of water. As soon as I was out of sight, I heard the ominous sound of giggling. Everyone knows that a baby sitting alone in a room laughing is not good news. I hastened back into the living room and beheld the following:

Edgar, our cat, had been napping in the rocking chair when I left the room. Like myself, he apparently felt that his actions were relatively safe. Also like myself, he was mistaken. In my absence, Max had climbed into the rocking chair, and had discovered something new and exciting about gravity. If he sat on the very edge of the chair and bopped up and down, he could make Edgar bounce. The hilarity of this, combined with the effervescent burst of power, was making Max laugh hysterically. I could almost see poor Edgar rolling his eyes as he looked at me. I informed Max that he might fall off the chair, or receive a paw full of displeasure from the increasingly disgusted Edgar. Max listened to my lecture very respectfully.

And then he went right back to rocking and poking Edgar, the amusement not having diminished for him, or increased for Edgar, in the slightest.

Eventually, Edgar did take a half-hearted swipe at Max, leap down from the rocking chair, and leave the room, shooting me a significant glance as he did so. Edgar does not feel that his life or his place in our life have been enhanced by Max's arrival at all, and he likes me to understand that he continues living here and receiving food and pets under protest. His bitterness was evidently lost on Max completely, since my notorious cat-harasser of a son spent the next five minutes roundly applauding his own show. He asked Edgar to take a bow. Edgar declined from his new napping place deep under the bed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sir Maxelot In The Dragon's Lair

I am a genius and here is why: We have been trying for awhile now to get Max to spend at least part of each night in his little bed, which is on the floor near ours. (This isn't the part where I am a genius, but it is background information.) Max has been trying for awhile now to convince us that this is not a good idea. He will usually go to sleep in his little bed easily and cheerfully enough, if his mama is there to snuggle him to sleep. About fifteen or twenty minutes later, however, he will flail in his sleep, open his eyes, and convey both through facial expression and through auditory assault that he is unhappy to find himself alone. Last week, however, I had a thought. (This is the beginning of the part where I am a genius.) If Max does his flailing thing while I am still lying there, he will resettle himself without waking up as soon as his hand touches me. It occurred to me that sleeping Max could potentially be fooled by a decoy. (This is the part where my genius really begins to flower.) We got this dragon at Ikea awhile ago, and it is almost as long as I am. As soon as Max went to sleep, I sidled away from him, and replaced myself with the dragon. Twenty minutes later, Max's arm shot out, touched dragon, and was apparently satisfied. He slept in his little bed for three hours that night, and has done so every night since. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the love that exists between a boy and his dragon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Adventures In Maxness

Max is definitely developing his own perspective on the universe. His sense of humor has gone from juvenile but easily understandable (funny faces and sounds, etc.), to being entirely his own and often baffling to his parents. Last night, he laughed for twenty minutes because he smacked the dinner table and I said, "bang bang bang!" And I'm talking knee-smacking, eye-tearing, face-reddening laughter. I think of myself as reasonably funny, but I wouldn't call that the moment when my comedic genius peaked. He has also started making strange faces, seemingly with the intention of making us laugh. This is the latest weird expression. Ian calls it the 'Stiff Upper Lip' face. I call it the 'Popeye'. His sense of humor may be too advanced for us.

When his stand-up routine is over for the evening, Max likes to stretch out, relax, and climb stuff. The rocking chair is his newest conquest, and it is an especially delicious triumph if there is clean laundry to be kicked/thrown/pushed out of the way.

Hmmm ... I wonder why the cats never want to sit in this chair anymore? It's weird. I'm going to go pull their tails and then ask them.