Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Habeas Corpus

Last night, Max developed this sudden and bizarre fascination with our rocking chair. He kept pulling all the cushions off of it, casting them to one side, and examining the wooden framework underneath with intense concentration. The third or fourth time he did it, Ian said, "What's under there, son?" Max looked up at Ian, smiled happily, and replied with something that sounded very much like, "Bodies!" Ian and I looked at each other with our eyebrows raised. "Did he just say 'bodies'?" Ian asked me. I was forced to agree that it had sounded like it to me, as well. Ian repeated his question, and Max said, "Bodies!" again with grisly amounts of good cheer. Ian looked cautiously at the rocking chair.
I have been forced to remove both Max and Ian to a secure location until I have finished tying up a few ... ahem ... loose ends. They know too much.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

This morning at the park I ran into an acquaintance that I haven't seen since I had Maggie. She cooed over Maggie, asked how I was, and then asked what Maggie's name was. When I told her, she said, "Oh, how cute! You have such an unusual name, though -- maybe you'll pick something more adventurous for your next baby." To which I replied with a face very like the one I am making in the included picture. Now, I try not to use this blog for complaints against my fellow man, but I am in a ranting sort of mood today, and have therefore composed the following list of the four most aggravating things about this comment:

1)As far as I know, neither Ian or I have ever gone on public record guaranteeing the world that there will be a 'next baby'. (My mother insists that I have made promises to this effect, but she has yet to produce documented evidence to back up her claim.) Babies are wonderful, mine in particular, but they are also expensive, time-consuming, and exhausting. Not to mention the fact that Maggie weighed almost ten pounds at birth, and I had her the old-fashioned way (no C-section), and it was really uncomfortable. While I have enjoyed the warm glow of feeling tough as nails ever since, and while the baby in question has made it worthwhile and then some, I do not think I can be blamed for having reservations about birthing a third and possibly even larger specimen of Tillmanhood. For a casual acquaintance to assume that she knew my reproductive choices is kind of weird and more than kind of irritating.

2)Even if you have decided that you know Ian and I well enough to believe that we will undoubtedly have more children, however (and I don't care who you are or how well you know us, this is a strange thing for you to decide), imagining that we are saving up the really good names for later offspring sort of implies that we are not overly fond of the children we already have. Which we are.

3)Because we do, in fact, like our kids, we actually put a great deal of thought into what to call them, and carefully selected names that we like and that are special to us. I think that most people choose names for their children that they like and that are special to them. It is therefore inadvisable to offer criticism of the names people choose for their children, since you are almost certain to insult them and you are likely to wind up the subject of an irritated and unflattering blog post.

4)I, myself, am the proud owner of an 'adventurous' name. I like my name, I think it suits me, but it has also been a pain in my hindquarters from time to time. People frequently ask what ethnicity it comes from (none, by the way -- it is a product of my mother's invention, as far as I know), it always gets mispronounced, and it has forced me to have many uncomfortable confrontations with teachers, bosses, parents at the preschool, etc. ("No, I'm actually positive that it isn't pronounced 'Chelsea', despite the fact that you've been calling me that for the entire year that you've known me.") Perhaps this entered into my leaning towards more classic, only-one-way-to-say-it names for my kids. I'll tell you this, though. If I ever do have a third baby, I am naming it whatever the most popular name for that year is, spelled the most traditional way possible, and I will be sending that woman a birth announcement with a picture of me sticking my tongue out at her on it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Max and Maggie are almost exactly the same distance apart in ages as Ian and his sister, Jean. Since the childhood brawls between Ian and Jean have become the stuff of Tillman family legend, I have been anxiously watching my children for signs that they are following in the footsteps of their aunt and father.

Oh, dear.

Friday, July 27, 2007

These Are A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

As my parents-in-law prepare to make their move to the coast (and don't think we haven't thought about how best to smuggle ourselves there in their suitcases, because we have), they have begun the daunting task of packing up their current home, where they have lived for twenty-plus years. This has led to a number of things migrating from the archives of the Tillman (Sr.) household to our apartment. This is mostly a good thing -- we've gotten some pictures and other treasures that come from Ian's grandma's house, or from Ian's own childhood, and it is wonderful to have these objects to connect us to our family and our past. I must admit, however, that I view this fellow joining our household as somewhat of a tragedy. It is an action figure from the Alien movies, and I have mistaken its scaly brown tail for a real-live snake or lizard on more than one occasion. It is both gross and scary, and I would be discreetly smuggling it out to a new, bright future in the apartment dumpster as we speak, except for one thing ...

...Max loves it. Loves it. It is Superman's new favorite nemesis, and it growls at me frequently from the safety of my delighted son's fist. While I could heartlessly rid myself of this heirloom and face down the adults involved in its infiltration of my happiness without a twinge of conscience, I cannot quite deprive my innocent child of a toy that he loves without a solid foundation of reason. If anyone would like to send me an article proving that Alien action figures are well-known choking hazards, or are made with lead paint, however, I would be thrilled to receive the information.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In Which Maggie Turns Two Months Old And Is Stabbed

Maggie had her two-month check-up yesterday, which is the one that I dread because the first shots happen at the end of it. Despite the pall that impending needles cast over the day, it was nice to hear from the pediatrician that Maggie is a perfect specimen of babyhood (even though we already knew it), and to find out how much she has grown. Maggie is presently weighing in at 13lbs. 2oz., measuring 24 1/4 inches, and has a head that is 40.5cm in circumference. The doctor was very impressed by Maggie's strength (which is intimidating), her vocalizations (which are melodious and sometimes sound freakishly word-like), and her mellow disposition.
Speaking of mellow dispositions, and bringing the story on its long, meandering path on home to my point, the shots were not a big hit with young Margaret. She never got a fever, but she was clearly sore, especially on the legs, and she screamed whenever she was put down, moved away from the boob, touched on the legs, breathed on, or looked at wrong. I felt so desperately sorry for her that I don't think I put her down once yesterday. This gave me many exciting opportunities to figure out how to get through an entire day one-handed. I'm like MacGyver now, people. I can change diapers using one hand, a stick of gum, and a toothpick. Maggie is much improved this morning, so my new skills might not be needed for awhile, but I plan to keep them well-honed. There are shots coming up at the four-month appointment, too, after all.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

And The Little One Said "Roll Over"

Well, here we are again. Stupid tummy time.

It's a tough job, but I gotta roll over. I'm not standing for this anymore. Okay, first the arms ... commencing baby push-up ...

Halfway there, Baby! A short break ... nice deep breath ...

I made it! My success is always so bittersweet, though ... why, oh why won't Mama take the hint and end this cycle of tummy time torment?

That's what I think of you and your stupid "developmentally important exercise". Someday I'll be stronger than you, Mama. Think about that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yakity Yak

When Max first started talking, I made lists of all the words he could say, both for myself to gloat over his genius-ness and so that I would have a precise answer when his pediatrician asked about his language development (but mostly for myself to gloat over). I have had to abandon the lists, however, because he simply knows too many words now for me to keep track of. (I can gloat without the list, though, so don't you worry.) Even more impressive than the sheer size of the vocabulary, though, is how he strings words together. He will casually drop sentences like, "Maggie cry. Mama Maggie up?", or "Eat broccoli, please?" into the conversation, and I am floored. (Yep, he is a loving and attentive brother, and he even likes broccoli. He is a golden child, and most people wish he were theirs, but he's not. He's mine. See how I gloat with no list?) Mind you, we are also getting the occasional sentence like, "No, Mama. No bath. Max mad, Mama!" or worse, "Uh-oh, Mama. Dada? Ewww. Uh-oh." Even these troubling phrases, however, are made cuter by Max's adorable little voice and unique pronunciation. After nearly two years of guessing, we now get to actually know what is going on in that giant head, and it is an ever-absorbing spectacle.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Grapefruit, Prepare To Meet Your Maker

Max has always been a good eater, and for this I am grateful. It is a big part of the reason that he was able to leave the hospital less than a week after his premature birth. It is the reason that, despite that premature birth, he is now in the ninetieth percentile or above in terms of size for his age. It makes mealtimes easier and more pleasant. He particularly loves fruit, which means that I now have a partner in fruit consumption, something that has not been true since I moved out of my parents' house and cast in my lot with Ian (who has a blanket ban on all fruit. How does he survive and not get scurvy? Only by the grace of God.) It is only recently that the dark side of Max's culinary enthusiasm has made itself known to me. This morning, for example, I cut up a grapefruit, gave half to Max, and put the other half on my own plate. Delightful. Nothing better than sharing a grapefruit with someone you love. Evidently, Max does not agree with this sentiment, though, because he downed his own grapefruit like a boa swallowing a helpless ... whatever defenseless creature boas eat ... and then began eyeing my half suggestively. Being a loving mother, and knowing that there was another grapefruit in the fruit basket, I gave him my half and went to cut up the backup grapefruit for myself. When I got back to the table, however, Max had already eaten his bogarted half and was asking for more with great, dewy-eyed sincerity. The long and the short of it is that Max ate two grapefruits, a piece of peanut butter and jelly toast, a glass of milk, a banana, and a granola bar for breakfast. I ate the crumbs and rinds Max left behind, and I was careful to do so while he was napping, lest he take those from me, too. This sharing thing is not working out to my advantage as much as I thought it would.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Magic Number (+1)

For those of you who do not know, Ian and I named our blog after the Bob Dorough song, "Three is a Magic Number", from the show Schoolhouse Rock. Since I was pregnant with Max at the time, and we were about to become a family of three, we decided that the song's pro-#3 sentiment was a fitting one for our blog to flourish under. However, several people have recently called my attention to the fact that with the addition of Maggie, we are now a foursome, thus rendering our much-loved title false and misleading. While journalistic honesty is important to us, we will not be renaming the blog -- the title graphic took Ian forever. Nor are we writing new lyrics for the song, as my sister Jessi suggested, because that takes time and brainpower, and I have two children under the age of two and therefore am short on both time and brains. And no, Granny, we will not be hurrying to have a third child solely to make our blog consistent with our lives. So where does that leave us? Well, I vote that we all pretend that we never noticed the discrepancy, and carry on in mutual self-deceived bliss. To aid me in distracting you from the potential scandal, I have included a photo-enhanced presentation about why we will be keeping Maggie in spite of the risk of bloggy upheaval. By the time you get to the end I bet you will have forgotten all about this nasty business.

She smells delicious ...

... she is a snuggly little lima bean ...

... and she proves that it is our stellar genes, rather than just a lucky fluke, that made Max, since we are now two-for-two in the awesome offspring column.

See? Don't you feel better? I bet you don't even remember what we were talking about before. In fact, I bet the cuteness of that last shot left you in such euphoric adorableness-overload that you don't even remember how to scroll back up to the top of the post and remind yourself what we were talking about. Why don't you just step away from the computer, taking the feel-good vibes that come from our totally aptly titled blog with you, and go enjoy the beautiful sunshine? I think that would be for the best, don't you? You have a nice day, now.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Worth A Thousand Words

Maggie is at that point in her babyhood where she is starting to smile and socialize a bit. Her smiles are beautiful, heart-stoppingly wonderful, and as photographically elusive as Sasquatch. If I may, I would like to invite you to travel with me on the rocky, obstacle-riddled, often disappointing path to capture and share a smile.

Phase One: Smile vanishes as soon as camera comes out. Infant replaces smile with guarded, wary expression.

Phase Two: Infant is reminded that the camera-holder is also the milk-maker, and considers capitulating in order to secure her hourly fix. Infant attempts to compromise with a pucker-face. Mama does not accept the compromise.

Phase Three: Infant teases with a giant grin that is whittled down to a minuscule smirk just as picture is taken.

Phase Four: Infant is forced to admit that Mama is sort of delightful, in spite of obsessive picture-taking.

Phase Five: Just as Mama is about to give up and put the camera away, Infant busts out the full-wattage, gums-out, complete-with-coo-of-delight bounty. Now, about that breast milk ...?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy Dillen Day!

Happy Birthday, Sisto! I wish you were not celebrating your birthday on the opposite side of the country, but know that I am celebrating with you in spirit. Max took his first taste of dill pickle today in your honor. (He did not care for it.) Thank you for your unconditional and absolute support and love, which helped me to feel like I might, with luck, survive this whole two babies thing. I love you muchly, as do we all.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Sand + Water + Bucket + No Pants = Happy Max

You can refer to it as The Chelsa Principle Of Mathematics, because I discovered it. Thank you, I have to agree that it would be a complete travesty if I don't win the Nobel Prize. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ode To A Boob (Composed At 4:15 a.m.)

(Editor's note: This is meant to be experienced as a performance piece. To fully appreciate it as the author intended, you must read it aloud, pronouncing 'boob' as 'boop', and ideally, you should have a couple of friends chanting, "Shh, close your eyes and go to sleep, Max" with slowly increasing desperation in the background throughout the piece.)

Boob, Mama?
Baby Mama Boob.
Dada boob?
Maggie eat?
Maggie Mama boob eat.
Mama Mama.
Milk? Milk.

--Max Tillman

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Maggie Takes Back The Tummy

As aforementioned, Maggie does not care for Tummy Time. Despite my heartfelt talks with her about the ways that it promotes development, and the ways that we can make it fun with a few color-contrast toys and a positive attitude, she continues stubbornly unimpressed. When tooting, pooping, barfing, and yelling all failed to make her parents abandon their merciless abuse of her, Maggie took matters into her own abdominal muscles. At the tender age of six weeks old, our delicate flower of a daughter has learned to do a push-up, jackknife her body sideways, and roll off of her tummy triumphantly. I looked it up, and Max started flipping when he was four months old. The average age, according to my parenting books, is around three months. Apparently, Maggie is a very physically strong, and very stubborn, genius of epic proportions. This is not a great combination to contemplate if you are the people in charge of raising her. All we can hope for is that she will be a benevolent ruler.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Importance Of Good Grooming

Hi, I'm Max. A lot of people have been asking me lately, "Max, what's your secret? It just seems like you have it all together, you know? I wish I had half your devil-may-care charm and grace!" Well, it is really very simple, and I am happy to share my tips for success with you all. I like to start out each morning by carefully applying a wet hairbrush to my golden locks until they achieve a rooster-comb like brock. Then I brush my teeth. I really try to get ten or twenty million tooth-brushings in before noon whenever possible. Sure, it takes a lot of time and effort (not to mention water splashed everywhere) ...

...but observe the results! I've found that a winning smile and an impressive hairdo will often distract people completely from the fact that I am clad in nothing but a saggy diaper. It is amazing what you can pull off if you are confident, charming, and well-groomed.

Now YOU try it!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Note From Maggie To Whatever Team Of Sadistic Pediatritions Came Up With 'Tummy Time'

I will be hunting you down and flipping you over onto your tummies as soon as I am mobile.
Love, Maggie

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Aly!

I know, you are probably thinking to yourself right now, "That's not Aly." And you would be right. Most of the most recent pictures I have of my beautiful sister, however, feature her high on claritin in an effort to cope with allergies to my cats. As my birthday gift to you, Aly, I am not including any embarrassing photos of you, but am instead offering you an old image of Max in your favorite giraffe suit. I hope you enjoy your day. All the Tillmans adore you!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Death Of A Cheerio

In Which We Follow A Whole Grain Oat Morsel On Its Brave Journey From Box To Watery Grave

9:30 a.m.: Everything begins normally. I awaken in my cardboard enclosure, surrounded by other Os. I am a bit crowded, as always, but otherwise calm. At 9:32, however, things take a turn for the eventful when a hand reaches into the box that has always been my home and pulls me out, along with a handful of my friends and relations.

9:40 a.m.: I am tossed unceremoniously into a small Tupperware container and given, along with my unlucky circular companions, into the small hands that will ultimately orchestrate my doom.

At first, it seems as though I will simply be eaten, not a fantastic fate, to be sure, but one that every cheerio knows it must one day face.

9:45 a.m : The maniacal ogre now in charge of my well-being has other plans for me. After tossing me and the remainder of my cheerio colleagues out of our tupperware and onto the couch, the small hands of doom descend and carefully select a single O (me, alas!).

9:47 a.m.: The being who has become the instrument of my destruction presses me against the lips and nose of his infant sibling, in a misguided attempt to feed me to her. When the baby merely looks quizzical, the tupperware container and I are chucked into her bassinet and left there. I begin to think that I will be one of those cheerios who gets lost in a fold of fabric, forgotten, and allowed to grow stale quietly and with dignity.

9:48 a.m.: Alas! May my brethren shed a thousand oaty tears for me that it is not to be! I am removed from the bassinet by the mother of my tormentor. The beast renews his interest and asks for "more?" in a manner that would put Oliver Twist to shame. The mother, using her questionable parenting skills, capitulates, and I am delivered back into the hands of cruel fate. I am the unwilling companion of The O Destroyer as he goes outside. After one brief glimpse of blue sky, I am flung by my gleeful captor into a bucket of sandy water, clearly placed there by the fiend in expectation of my coming. Nor am I the first O to be thus abused -- I can see two or three whole grain corpses drifting around at the bottom of the bucket.

9:50 a.m.: Just before sweet oblivion takes me, I see the hand that has destroyed my feeble oaty hopes plunge into the bucket once more. My last thought before I am masticated and can think no more is: "Dear God! After all that, he's still planning to eat me!"