Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Strikes The Tillman House

I put this picture on here mostly to bother Ian, but the rest of you reading this can feel free to be bothered, as well. My grandma made me this Frosty The Snowman when I was really little, and it has been part of my Christmas decorating all my life. Ian thinks that Frosty is kind of scary (sorry, Grandma, if you are reading this), and has a steely, serial-killer gleam in his eye. This has only made my affection for Frosty grow deeper with each passing year. I make sure to put him someplace prominent every Christmas season, ideally someplace where Ian's path can cross Frosty's jolly gaze as often as possible.

Frosty posed for his Christmas portrait beautifully, but I had more difficulty with Max. I was trying to get him to wear a Santa hat (which looked so cute it was almost painful during the two seconds it stayed on his head) so I could take a picture of him in it. What I ended up with were several charming action shots of Max removing and throwing the Santa hat.

Frosty notwithstanding, Ian is having a more triumphant Christmas season than usual. Due to Max's penchant for climbing big stuff and eating small stuff around the house, I was forced to face the fact that a giant, floor-to-ceiling tree is not in the cards this year. Ian, who has wanted a small tree every year of our marriage (claiming that the person who has to carry and set up the tree should get to choose the size), and who has been outvoted for the same number of years, finally got his way. We got a little potted table-top tree, which reminds me of the little tree that Charlie Brown gets in his Christmas special. Despite his victory, however, Ian did not find the little tree as problem-free to carry as he hoped. For some reason, this tree has the sharpest needles in the known universe, and it was painful to carry inside, to set up, and to decorate. I have named it Spike.

Last year, Max was three months old by Christmas, and did little more than sleep under the tree while we took pictures of him. This year, he is very aware of the tree. He wanted to pet it desperately, and was completely undeterred by the injuries sustained by both parents during interactions with Spike. He seems to think that it's funny that we have a tree in the house (it is kind of funny, if you think about it), and keeps pointing to it and laughing.

Spike in all his Christmas glory. Next year, we are going back to the full-size tree. Make your peace with it, Ian, or Frosty will be coming after you. Those two little kids on either side of him? They're people that crossed me. Now Frosty has them in his icy embrace forever, Ian.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crimes Against Nature

Wanted for questioning: Max Tillman, baby criminal mastermind. Alleged Crimes: Attempted diaper evasion, engaging authorities in chase maneuvers, attempted computer hacking, using a loaded weapon to urinate on the carpet. Description: Height: @ Three feet. Weight: @ 26 pounds. Hair: Blonde and tufty. Eyes: Blue. Last seen wearing stripy blue pajamas.

Warning! Do not under any circumstances attempt to engage or capture this fugitive. He is reported to be armed (weapon seen here) and extremely dangerous. If you should spot this naked booty anywhere in or near Davis, California, immediately contact authorities.

Criminal M.O.: Max has been known to use his giant eyes and disarming cuteness to hypnotize his potential victims into a false sense of safety. He is not opposed to using biological warfare to further his aims. Committing crimes in a state of complete undress is his trademark. Citizens in Davis or surrounding regions should take the following steps to ensure their safety: 1) Keep extra diapers (huggies, size 5) on hand at all times. Should Max catch you unawares, he will almost certainly pee on you, or worse. 2) Keep all computer equiptment, television remotes, and sensitive paperwork under lock and key at all times. Not only is Max a master climber and hacker, but he may very well pee on or shred your ID or other paperwork. 3) Most importantly, do not pick up or squeeze the fugitive at any time, especially when he is naked. No matter how huggable he seems, or how recently he has peed, the danger is very real and should be taken seriously.

The City Of Davis thanks you for your help and cooperation, and will keep you updated as to the status of our search for Max. May God bless and protect us all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This Diaper Was Made For Walking

Max has been independently standing for about a month now, and he has taken the odd independent step here and there for a few weeks. He can now, however, legitimately declare himself among the upright. That's right, folks, Max has begun the fine art of walking, and can now actually get from one place to another using only the feet. Just in time, too -- he is officially too heavy to carry for long distances, especially now that Speck is part of my daily luggage. Max is very proud of himself (justifiably), and will often applaud himself while he is walking. This does occasionally lead to some balance issues, but Max's enthusiasm for himself cannot be dampened by practicality.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

One of Max's first words was 'cat', and he will still often break into delighted giggles when he sees them, despite having seen them every day of his life. In spite of this, however, (or perhaps because of it), the cats are not all that fond of Max. In his earlier, less mobile days, they mostly ignored him. When he first started crawling, they ran from him. Recently, they have fought back a few times. Max, for his part, cries when he is threatened with claws, but does not absorb the long-term lessons that could be learned from the experience. He tries very hard to pet the cats, but gets excited and winds up hitting, pinching, eye-poking, or pulling fur. The latest wrinkle in the cat-baby interactions is, to me, the most interesting, and I am afraid that it is the most ominous. Max and the cats have begun deliberately competing for space. If the cats are in front of the window, Max will walk over there and shove them out of the way. If Max is sleeping in bed, Edgar will walk on him, in spite of having nine-tenths of the bed, entirely free of baby-body, to walk on. With Speck on the way, I am curious (and petrified) to see how much of Max's relationship with the cats is applicable to his relationship with a new sibling. Will he break into delighted giggles when he sees Speck? Will he try to pet the baby, only to wind up poking him or her in the eye? Or will he and Speck immediately enter into a cut-throat wrestling match for space and attention? At least Speck will (hopefully, at least) not have claws to scratch Max with, or a tail (again, hopefully) for Max to yank.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Is For Aggravation

Max got a book recently from his granny. It's a Sesame Street Sign Language ABC book. Max loves it. A lot. He brings it to me for constant reading and rereading. I am thrilled by his literary enthusiasm, but to be honest, this book does not have a lot going for it in the plot department, nor is it rich in character development, nor are the illustrations particularly vibrant or compelling. Around the three-hundred and fiftieth time I read it with Max, it got a little old for me. When we put all our books and things out on our new bookshelves, I have to admit that I shoved this book deep into the middle of a pile of similar-sized Max-books, thinking that I had found a guilt-free (well, almost) way to rid myself of Linda the Sesame Street Lady and her pesky alphabet signs.

Alas, I was thwarted. I put all the Max books on the bottom shelf, so that he could take them out whenever he wanted. For the first day or so, I congratulated myself on this plan, since Max immediately commenced pulling books off the shelf, eyeing each one briefly, and then tossing them to the four winds of Heaven. What seemed like random acts of pile-making, however, turned out to have a focused and single-minded goal all along.

Guess what reared its ugly head around day two of the book-tossing? And guess who immediately abandoned the book-tossing to carry the ugly-headed item over to Mama for perusing?

I succumbed to the inevitable. I have been outsmarted by my son once again, and his intelligence makes my conscience-stricken self worry that he knows that I hid the book, and fear to try it again. My only hope now is that I will someday grow numb enough with boredom that the book no longer upsets me. Pray for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Amazing, Alarming Expansion Of Speck

I was told that a second pregnancy, especially coming so soon after a first pregnancy, might result in me showing sooner and feeling larger than I did with Max. I attest to the truth of this. In this picture, I am about ten weeks pregnant. I couldn't find a picture of me at around the same point in my pregnancy with Max, so you will just have to take my word for it -- the difference is astronomical. No one even began to wonder if I was pregnant the first time until I was eighteen weeks along or so. Now, strangers have already begun patting my belly and asking when I am due. (Or better yet, seeing my pregnant self with a young baby in tow, the aforementioned strangers will offer helpful observations like, "Wow, you're sure going to have your hands full pretty soon!", allowing me to feel both large with pregnancy and fearful about my future sanity.) My doctor assures me that none of this means that Speck is necessarily going to be a twenty-nine pound baby, but I can't help but wonder. By the end of this pregnancy, I am almost certainly going to have small objects in orbit around my belly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mike, Merritt, and Max Make Magnificent Music

Our friends Mike and Sam were nice enough to let us test-drive their five-month old baby, Merritt, tonight, so that we could help Max ease into the whole Not-The-Only-Baby thing. Max was interested in Merritt, and petted/smacked him a few times. I was relieved to see that he did not seem to be jealous of Merritt, even when Ian or I was holding him. He did, however, notice when Merritt was getting breastfed, and immediately tried to climb up on Sam's lap and get in the way. We are trying to wean Max off of breastfeeding, since I am feeling a bit drained from all possible angles. Max is reluctant to be weaned, to put it really mildly, but my doctor says that I should really try to have him completely weaned by the time I am twenty weeks pregnant, so we are trying to step down gradually. It has been really fun trying to explain to a one-year-old that the milk factory is closing. There has been some yelling (from Max), some tears (from all of us), and some creative comforting techniques (mostly from Ian, since my attempts to comfort often end in more attempts to nurse). When Max saw Merritt nursing, he naturally tried to share in the milk that he has been so cruelly denied on the home front recently. Sadly, Merritt was not interested in sharing. This is the first of many life-is-hard lessons that big-brotherhood has in store for Max, I'm afraid.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beachcombers (Part Three) or Crouching Ian, Hidden Max

All right, this is the last of the beachcomber series. I think I have officially milked our vacation dry of photographs. I have mentioned a couple of times, however, that Max had a slight aversion to the ocean when it came too close, and I wanted to record the moments when that aversion was born, should it come in handy later when he is talking to a therapist about his fear of water.

Phase one of fear inducement: Max's mama, in an attempt to expose Max to the wonders of nature, dangles him over the water. He is encouraged to touch the frothy waves. He does not comply.

Phase two: Max begins to writhe vigorously, in the process nearly defeating his own purpose and getting dropped into the very water he is protesting proximity to.

Phase three: Max decides that Mama is not to be trusted. He appeals to Dad for aid and succor. Ian, who is not a huge fan of being out in nature, either, helps Max to hide behind a boulder. The two of them remain MIA for the rest of the trip.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beachcombers (Part Two)

The cabins where we stayed at Crystal Cove are rented out on a first come, first serve basis, and since there aren't very many available, they rent out quickly. Ian's dad and sister got on the internet on the first available minute of the first available day to rent cabins, and managed to get three rooms in a dorm-style cabin for our family. We found out when we got there that getting three rooms together is rare enough to be almost unheard of, so we were extremely lucky. Even so, the cabins get rented so fast that Ian's sister and dad were unable to rent their first choice, which would have been a single cabin for all of us. We each had our own rooms, but we shared a common dining area and bathrooms with other families renting the place. The rooms also all had twin bunk beds, so it was not exactly a love nest.

Still, it is hard to complain about much of anything when this is the view from your kitchen window in the morning.

Max and Joseph found novel ways to combine enjoying the view with some quality peek-a-boo time.

Two handsome Tillman boys.

We went for some really amazing beach walks together. Max got a little freaked out whenever we got too close to the water -- the noise and the spray seemed to bother him a bit -- but he loved walking along the beach, people-watching and exploring the sand. He did a fair amount of flirting with people going by, too -- he is becoming somewhat too aware of his overwhelming cuteness.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beachcombers (Part One)

Ian, Max, Speck and I just got back from vacation with Ian's family. We went to Crystal Cove, which is in Laguna Beach, and is such a cool spot that I almost don't want to tell anyone about it, lest it become overrun. There are a bunch of quirky little cabins, which were once residences but have been reclaimed by the state (the land is part of Crystal Cove State Park) and are being restored and rented out for vacations. Only a few of the cabins have been restored so far, so there were not very many people there, and it was amazingly beautiful.

As predicted, our trip yielded many cute Max and cousin Joey moments, some of which we managed to capture on film. It was the first time that the cousins have spent more than one day in a row together, and it was interesting to watch them get increasingly acclimated to each other. They actually get along really well, and had very few disputes. Each baby was very interested in what the other baby was doing, playing with, being fed, etc. Joey, who is learning to walk with admirable determination but questionable balance, used Max to steady himself on a couple of occasions, which led to some baby dominoes, since Max is not exactly a pillar of stability, either.

Joey lives near the beach, and is familiar with the sandy delights it offers, but Max had never seen the ocean before. He found the noise of the waves a bit overwhelming at times, but he loved watching the people and crawling around on the sand.

Joey took time away from eating/coating himself in sand to go on a couple of small scouting expeditions. He found, among other things, a clump of delightfully slimy seaweed.

He generously offered to share his find with Max.

Max declined the offer, and the seaweed was ultimately abandoned in favor of more sand eating.

While not interested in touching seaweed, Max did find some items of interest to entertain himself with. Here he is doing his interpretation of Gandalf as a baby.

He buried and unburied this rock for awhile, but when it proved too heavy to carry with him, he lost interest in it and tried a bite of the sand that Joey kept saying was so delicious. Max tried a couple of bites, but he decided that the sand did not quite live up to the hype.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Storage Space

While our new dwelling is more desirable in every conceivable way than our old one, it is a bit smaller. We have one bedroom less than before, which means that a lot of our storage has been taken from us. Fortunately, there is Ikea. We got some shelves there last week, which my dad painted for us and installed over the weekend. They look beautiful, and more importantly, we can now begin the job of excavating Max and Speck's room and unloading our books, records, and etc. Ian was very excited to begin, and immediately put out his most prized records. Along the way, we made an accidental discovery about the shelves. Not only do they store books and music media ...

... they also solve some questions we have had about how to fit two baby beds into one small bedroom. As Max has so ingeniously shown us, we will just stack the babies on these shelves. Of course, for safety's sake, we'll put bookends on either side of each baby. Not only do we have plenty of room for Max and Speck, but we could have twelve more babies if we wanted. (We don't, so don't get excited, Granny.)

Thank you, Max, for once again thinking outside the box and providing us with unexpected inspiration.

P.S. We will be leaving this morning for a small beach trip. On the plus side, this will mean many new and adorable photos of Max and his cousin frolicking on the southern California beaches. On the minus side, there is no internet where we are going, so those pictures will not be available until Tuesday, and neither will Ian, Max, Speck, or I. I know, four days is a long time to live without new Max pictures, or the dry yet touching wit of my blog writing. Try to hold it together until we get back.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Max Stands Up For Himself

There has been a lot of talk recently on the blog about Max's less savory accomplishments -- first temper tantrums, first diaper self-removals, first poops on the floor, etc. I therefore feel that it is time to extol his virtues again, and to inform you of his latest developmental leap. Two nights ago, Ian and I were discussing Max's reluctance to walk, and wondering if we should be doing anything to encourage him along. As we were discussing this, we both happened to glance over at Max, who smiled, clapped, and then stood up. He has been pulling himself to stand for a long time, but this was the first unassisted rise to the feet. Since then, Max has been standing up, waiting for accolades, sitting back down, applauding himself, standing back up, etc. His leg muscles are getting quite burly. He has also begun taking tottery little steps, and just now he walked halfway across the room. It was like he heard Ian and I talking, and said, "Alright, already! If you wanted me to walk, why didn't you just say so!"

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Bad Moon On The Rise

Max's recent outbreak of mischief has many symptoms, just a few of which have been outlined in the last few posts. Perhaps the most distressing, however, is his new and improved diaper aversion. He has been against diaper changes for awhile now (again, as discussed in prior posts), but has always been cheerfully indifferent to the diaper itself, once it was securely on his booty and the fuss of changing was over. Sadly, however (for us and our new apartment carpeting), those days are now but a fond dream. Max's new diaper sabotage technique is two-pronged. First, he takes all the diapers out of the diaper bag and scatters them. His hope is that enough diapers will be lost or damaged that future diaper changes become impossible.

Since phase one has yet to yield any noticeable results, Max wisely created a plan B. When I initially was having trouble with Max's attitude towards changing, I started using a half-nelson style wrestling move to pin Max into submission while changing him, a technique taught to me by Justin Lindsay, Julia's dad. Unfortunately, Max has learned that there is a moment when I have removed the old diaper, wiped the parts that need wiping, and am reaching for the new diaper, when my guard is down and my focus is off a bit. During this moment, he will slither out from under my restraining leg and make a break for it, naked bum and other unmentionables waving merrily in the wind. Today he climbed onto his car al fresco, stood up on it, and (I swear) deliberately mooned me. The worst and most disturbing thing about this scene was that the car, which talks, chose that moment to say cheerily, "Driving is fun!" Ian has already accused that car of being slightly pornographic more than once, and God knows I try never to encourage his theories, but I will never look at that car the same way again.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Juvenile Delinquent

Max now has grasped the concept that certain actions are forbidden. This does not stop him from indulging in these actions (quite the opposite, since he has also learned that the forbidden actions are mostly the best ones), but it is interesting to watch his sense of right and wrong begin to develop. When he is about to do something that he knows he is not supposed to do (climbing the computer table and messing with the record player are the current favorite forbidden fruits), he will stop and look at us first, to make sure we are watching. Then, he will commence wickedness, glancing at us all the while to make sure he is getting a reaction. We have tried what the books all recommend -- saying "no" in a firm but non-scary way and then redirecting Max's attention to parent-sanctioned alternatives to wickedness. This makes Max laugh uproariously, and double his efforts to create mayhem in the hopes that we will say no and move him away again. Tonight at dinner, he was throwing his food on the floor -- his new way of expressing that he wants attention, and my new biggest pet peeve. Ian and I both tried saying no-no, modeling eating, etc., etc. Food continued to fly, accompanied by wild cackles of laughter, until we removed his tray and declared dinner over. I have therefore begun a new discipline campaign -- moving him away from his evil of choice, saying no, and then ignoring him. This has been more effective at upsetting him -- he has begun flinging himself to the ground, squealing with rage and scooting backwards whenever this happens. It has yet to prove effective as far as reconditioning his desire to do wrong, but it is a young experiment, and I still have hope for it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Boys' Team

I have always noticed, from Max's time in utero on, that he responds to Ian differently than he does to me. He gets a little crazier around Ian, he shows off a little more, and he behaves as if he is a little tougher. Yesterday and the day before were Ian's days off, and the first days off in a long time that we didn't have lots of stuff to do. We puttered around the house, started trying to organize Max's room (which is currently a soul-crushing pile of boxes that have yet to be unloaded) so that it can become Max and Speck's room. Even with these projects, however, we were mostly at home, and it's been a while since I have seen Max have so much uninterrupted Dad time. I had, therefore, not fully realized that Max's capacity and desire for mischief are also greatly enhanced by paternal presence. Those of you that know Ian are thinking that I should have expected this when choosing to reproduce with him, and you are right. Max chased the cats mercilessly, he climbed furniture like he has never climbed it before, he slammed the piano on his fingers twice (learning nothing, apparently, from the first injury), looking at Ian with a wily grin after each infraction. Ian had to leave the house during naptimes, because Max was certainly not condescending to sleep if his dad was out in the living room having Man Time. Worst of all -- and I mean, WORST -- Max has learned to open and close all the doors in our apartment. We have been keeping the bathroom door closed, so as not to find toilet water and paper in places where it shouldn't be, but we will now have to employ elaborate locks somewhere high up on the door to bar our rascally son from weasling his way in. He is also no respecter of privacy -- if you go in the bedroom and close the door so you can change clothes at our house, you can and should expect the door to creak open moments later, and a small, fuzzy tuft to appear ominously in the doorway. I am not exactly blaming Ian for any of this, but none of it seems to happen nearly as often when he is not home. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Tillman Family (As Interpreted By Pumpkins)

We didn't actually get around to carving our pumpkins this year. Ian has an aversion to touching pumpkin innards, and Max is slightly too young to wield knives, although he would love to. While we were at the pumpkin patch, however, we did select a pumpkin for each of us, and while they might have been better carved, I think they stand alone as representations of us. The big one is for Ian, because he is the biggest, and because I thought it would be funny to make him scoop out the most innards (a plan that backfired, as it turned out). Max chose his own, the little orange one, and he loves it deeply. I had to distract him with elaborate lego constructions in order to borrow it for this picture. This leaves the bumpy, yellowish one for me, which I feel is unflattering in some ill-defined way. Wait a minute, though. One, two, three ...

Who is this extra, curly little pumpkin on the top for? Aren't there only three Tillmans?

Not for long. Tillman baby version 2.0 is due to arrive May 30, assuming that he or she has a less whimsical sense of timing than his or her big brother (who arrived six weeks early and surprised us all). We call him or her Baby Speck, since we had this ultrasound at seven weeks, and all you could really see was a round speck with a heartbeat. Baby Speck, for those of you unfamiliar with looking at ultrasound pictures, is the pale whitish blob at the top of the dark pear-shaped blob. He or she looks just like me, don't you think?