Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

We decided to have a low-key Halloween this year -- Max has a runny nose, he and Maggie are both too young to care whether or not they go trick-or-treating, and Ian and I are both too old and jaded to want to. Even a low-key Halloween at the Tillman house, however, is of course, a fiesta. We are unstoppably fun that way.

We kicked off the festivities this morning by finding an uninvited guest (yes, it is a real, live spider, and yes, it is gigantic) up by our air conditioning vent near the ceiling. I glared at him for awhile, working myself up into that state where you are so creeped out by a bug that you leap up and claw at yourself every time your hair or clothing brushes up against your skin. When I was reasonably certain that the spider was not taking the hint and leaving of his own accord, I got the mop out and, after a courage-working-up pause, I smooshed him. Well, I smooshed him sort of, and then he took offense and crawled into the air-conditioning vent, where he either finished dying or carved out a new and fabulous existence for himself out of the reach of my mop. Nature and I have had a troubled relationship of late.

Like I said, Max has a runny nose, and is not feeling quite himself. Like I may or may not have said, he is also becoming somewhat dramatically inclined. When you look at this picture, imagine him crying out, "HELP! HELP ME, MAMA!" in tones of great urgency, because that is what he was doing.

He can't hide all of his light under a bushel, though, no matter how melodramatic he tries to be. At heart, Max is just irrepressibly cheerful.

Especially if someone gives him a small sampling of Halloween candy.

Look at my beautiful daughter's sly little smirk. She looks like she and the pumpkins have a private joke. I wish I knew what it was. I bet it was funny.
Max dove quite enthusiastically into our pumpkin carving. He narrowly avoided getting carved himself, and even more narrowly avoided carving his mama. A helpful parenting tip: overexcited two-year old + slippery pumpkin innards + sharp knife = many opportunities for lost limbs.

Max was initially quite hesitant about touching the inside of the pumpkin. "Goo!" he said in tones of repulsed wonder. "Slimy! Pumpkin wet!" Ian makes a similar argument when asked to participate in pumpkin carving every year.

Unlike his father, however, Max proved persuadable, and many a slimy pumpkin seed was felled by his spoon.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cute, With A Side Of Gross

Apparently, I am a neglectful mother, because it has taken twenty-five months for me to introduce Max to the whole kissing an injury to make it better thing. He pinched his finger in the piano lid a couple of days ago, and wept over it long and bitterly. I took his hand and kissed his injuries, telling him, "Mama will kiss it and love it all better." Max put his wailing and moaning on hold, and looked at his finger with owlish interest. "Kiss?" he asked me. "Kiss owies?" "Yeah," I said. "All better!" Max, a skeptic like his father, looked dubiously at me, then at his hand. "Again!" he ordered, shoving his hand up my nose. "More kiss!" You have to admire his dedication. No true scientist, after all, would declare an experiment a success after only a single trial.
Either the second kiss did, indeed, make Max's pain melt away, or his data gathering is not yet complete, because I now am expected to kiss even the most minor insult to Max's person. This sounds downright adorable, and it is, and you are no doubt thinking, Chelsa leads such a glamorous and carefree existence, with nothing to do but smooch her beautiful son all day. Think about this, though, lest your envy overtake your life and all your finer feelings: I said, and I repeat, even the most minor insult. Bonked head? Kiss it, Mama. Belly button lint? Kiss it Mama. Shoe came untied? Kiss it, Mama. Runny nose, diaper rash, toe jam, puked on by Maggie? Pucker up, Mama.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Tragic True Story

Once upon a time, Ian had a job that kept him away from his loving family from 9:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night. In order to spend any waking hours with him at all, Ian's wife and son shaped their daily routines in accordance with Ian's, and consequently, the Tillman family had a later than average bedtime. This was less than ideal, and so brave Ian went forth and conquered a different job, one that allowed him more time with his family but necessitated that he rise earlier in the morning. Ian and his devoted wife, Chelsa, began attempting to adjust the bedtimes of their small prince, Max, to match the new schedule. Sadly, the old job had carried with it a powerful curse, locking the young prince's sleep routine into place with the ferocity of a thousand burning suns. Ian and Chelsa struggled in vain to counteract the curse for many moons, but the more they strove to undo what the evil former job had wrought, the more resistance they met.
Ian and Chelsa were at wit's end, their young prince going to sleep later each night, awakening earlier each morning, and gnashing his teeth more strenuously each time bed-related rules were enforced. Thus, they awaited the ending of Daylight saving time with anxious anticipation. Although normally, Daylight saving time met with much grumbling, they were willing to overlook its many inconveniences in light of the small advantage it offered in shifting their son's bedtime curse. When they noticed, yesterday morning, that their computer clock had changed, they rejoiced, and put Max in his bed that night at what he thought was his usual time, but his parents knew to be an hour earlier, thanks to the transformative magic of DST. 72 minutes later, a greatly aggrieved Prince Max finally and unwillingly succumbed to slumber, after over an hour of yelling, weeping, threatening, and generally causing a ruckus. Chelsa and Ian were quite unhappy, but clung to the thin, tattered comfort of the fact that at least he was still asleep no later than usual, since DST had bought them that precious extra hour.
Imagine, then, their confusion and consternation this morning, when the radio declared it an hour later than they knew it to be, as if Daylight saving time had never ended at all! And imagine their further consternation, when a more detailed Internet search revealed that, thanks to George Bush's Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight saving time was moved forward a week, and was not therefore ending until Nov. 4. Apparently, Ian and Chelsa's computer clock had not received the memo. Our story therefore ends on a tragic note: Ian and Chelsa felt dumb, were rushed in the morning thanks to losing the hour that they thought they had gained, and, worst of all, realized that instead of going to bed an hour earlier, their stubborn young prince had actually gone to bed over an hour later than usual. The moral of the story, one that we all know but that it never hurts to be reminded of, is that neither George Bush nor Daylight saving time will ever help you undo any kind of curse.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pumpkin Patch Trip #2

I realize that the last few days have been sequel-rich, and I apologize if you feel like you are experiencing the blog equivalent of a clip-show. This post, however, features completely different content than the first pumpkin patch trip. We went with a completely different family, on a completely different day, to a completely different patch. And you know what? No one likes a complainer.

I enjoy this picture for two reasons. One: this tree being and I are making the same face. Two:Maggie, if you look closely, is clearly rolling her eyes about her dorky mama. She is so very advanced!

This is sort of a weird picture, because Max reached his hand through the head hole at the last second, so it looks disturbingly like he is bursting out of his own chest cavity. Or it would if the painted person figure were a more realistic illusion.

They have these padded sawhorses that kids (or adults who live tragically in the past of their own youths) can ride, and Max was excited to try one out. However, it turned out that several of the Lindsay girls were also excited to try out the very same horse. Andrea and I proposed a shared horsey experience.

Max was bemused, and then increasingly anxious, to find himself in the middle of a Lindsay sandwich. He graciously bowed out and left the horse to the cowgirls.

The pumpkin patch we went to (Silveyville, in Dixon, for any interested parties) had a pumpkin painting station. Max painted his pumpkin a sinister and almost uniform black, with a few blue and yellow spots, just for contrast. This picture was taken moments before he accidentally dipped his hand in the paint, wiped his hand on his face and then his shirt, and consequently transformed into his alter-ego, Max, The Shirtless In Public Superhero. I couldn't really capture Max's alter-ego in action, because I had to attend to the various paint-related issues that his new identity brought into our lives, and therefore could not use the camera.

Look how happy Baby Sammy (Maggie's future spouse/punching bag) looks. Little does he know what's in store for him.

Andrea and I, who have posed together with our babies in less comfortable times, thought that an updated group photo might be nice. Look how both mothers are cheerfully not realizing what their respective offspring are up to down below. Maggie is all but throttling poor Sammy, for goodness' sake!

Oh, Sammy. I'll protect you as best I can, Buddy.

This is probably what Sammy saw in his dreams last night. Fatal attraction: Infant Edition.

Under Construction

You may have noticed some changes to our bloggy decor. We are currently in the process of mixing it up in MagicNumberland, and Ian would like me to inform you all that it is a work in progress. He will be designing a new title graphic tonight, one that includes both children and fits in better with the new color scheme. His professional pride does not wish for you to think that this is the completed makeover. What do you think so far?

Resemblances: The Sequel

I continue to assert that Max and Maggie do not look particularly alike. I could write you a very long list of their dissimilarities, so detailed and specific and convincing that you would come away wondering if they were even related at all, if only Maggie were not pooping as we speak, necessitating an abbreviated post. In spite of this, however, I have been having some photographic flashbacks lately. This recent picture of Maggie, for instance:

She kept reminding me of someone as I looked at this photo, but I couldn't figure out who or what, until today, when I was rooting through our picture files and found:

This picture of Max from March of last year, when he was just a little older than Maggie is now. Granted, they are wearing the same outfit, and they are sitting in similar positions in similar chairs, which could be throwing me off. Am I crazy in thinking that there is a little something the same-ish about them, after all?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Team Uniforms: Take Two

Once upon a time, when Max was a baby, I got him a set of pajamas. The had stripy little shorts, a lizard on the shirt, and they were orange. These are most if not all of the things that a Chelsa loves in a baby outfit. Consequently, Max wore them frequently, and when he outgrew them, I lovingly saved them for future offspring. So perfectly tailored were they to my taste, in fact, that Ian's mom spotted them in Baby Gap awhile later, and bought Max the very same pajamas in a larger size. This, of course, left me with two sets, and I immediately envisioned (I was pregnant by this time) the wondrous matching outfit photos that would soon be mine to cherish. In the time it has taken Maggie to grow into the smaller pair, however, Max has almost outgrown the larger pair, causing me to feel a certain sense of urgency (and causing Ian to mutter darkly that Max looks like he is wearing stripy hot pants whenever he puts them on, and wouldn't it be nice if Max's mother prioritized her son's budding masculinity over some stupid picture that no one will sit still for anyway?). I have now tried to capture the synchronized pajama moment twice. The first time went poorly. The second time (last night) went better in the sense that no one got peed on, but did not yield noticeably more attractive pictures. Sadly, of all the photos taken, this was the best of them. Who's up for round three?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pumpkin Pie

From The Mind Of Maggie

Hello, what's this? And, more importantly, does it yield milk?


It's kind of weirdly compelling, though. Having it in my hand makes me feel like kicking up my heels. Since it doesn't have the good manners to make milk for me, though, I'm just going to kick up one heel. Whee!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rub A Dub Dub

I have been apprehensive about bathing both of the offspring simultaneously, because of the juggling of slippery wet bodies, and because both of them are remorseless bathtub urinators, and they could easily create a sort of bathtub pee soup between the two of them that would not brighten any one's day. And by any one's, I mean mine. Max, however, forced my hand by requesting Maggie's presence in the bath with him on several occasions. Apparently, he is bored of his other bath toys.

It actually wasn't as difficult/gross to duo-bathe as I had feared. Maggie did pee (twice!), but it was at the very end of the watery jubilee, and it was mostly contained in her baby bath. No one slipped soapily out of my grasp and down the drain, and everyone got more or less clean, and so I declare myself Mama Bather Extraordinaire. I will be wearing a crown from now on.

Max LOVED having Maggie in the bath with him. He "helped" wash her, getting entirely overenthusiastic about the soap and the washcloth. He considered letting her play with his alphabet letters, but decided that they were too precious a resource to share. He let her look at them once or twice.

I know that Maggie looks worried/disgruntled in all of these pictures, but she was actually quite delighted by the bath. She enjoys baths, she enjoys watching Max, and she finds the stripy shower curtain compelling, and so the combo was a smorgasbord of sensory delights. She kicked her feet and cackled wildly throughout most of her scrub-down. In the pictures, cackling and kicking seem to translate into worried/disgruntled, so you will have to take my word for it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I was startled yesterday to realize that Maggie had turned five months old. Five! She is almost half a year already! How on earth did that happen? The baby-ness seems to be going by so much faster the second time around. Every morning when I get her dressed, there is somehow more clothing that is too small, and she develops a new skill every time I look at her. Sigh. My only consolation is that she grows more charming by the minute. She smiles and giggles constantly, she reaches out her arms to be picked up, and she talks frequently and with great earnestness. I have no idea what "gooopapapththththpfft" means, but she will grab my face and turn it to make sure we have eye contact while she says it, so apparently it's serious.
Today is also the two-year anniversary of my due date with Max. I have noticed this date every year since Max was born, but this is the first time that I've noticed it in a happy way. When Max was born, I felt profoundly grateful (as I do now) that he existed at all, that he was extraordinarily healthy and strong, and that his medical journey was short and without lasting ramifications. On his due date, though, I did think about what it would have been like if he had not been premature. I thought about that week that we couldn't bring him home, and I grieved for that lost time. It was difficult teaching him to nurse, and I grieved for that lost time, too -- time that I had to spend making bottles and feeling guilty, instead of enjoying my baby. I also thought about the many small details -- how I never got to finish setting up the nursery, how none of his carefully selected newborn clothing fit, how he had to be delivered by a doctor instead of a midwife -- that added up to simply grieving for the fact that some of what I had anticipated and envisioned about becoming a mom had been changed, or lost.
Last year on this date, I had just found out that I was pregnant with Maggie, and I was really overwhelmed by the possibility of another early birth. I was scared that with my attention divided between Max and a new, sickly preemie, I would be unable to adequately care for either. With help from my much lower stress spouse, I did manage to put my fears on the back burner, but I paid close and obsessive attention to every twitch and twinge my body made, and it wasn't until I had passed the thirty-seventh week that I was truly able to relax and anticipate my soon-to-be-born daughter.
Today, watching Max and Maggie play, I feel really happy to be sitting here on this date. The truth is, every new parent feels overwhelmed and afraid and guilty from time to time. Things happen the way that they are supposed to, and every part of every person's life helps to create and shape them. If any piece of Max or Maggie's story had happened differently, then they would be different. And I would not in a million years want either of them to be anything other than exactly who they are.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Snugglers

If the cuteness of this image just took your breath away, don't panic. It happens to me all the time. Just breathe deeply and absorb the picture slowly, letting yourself acclimate to the cuteness a little bit at a time. There! Even with the combined adorableness of Maggie's stripy jammies, the daddy-daughter hug, and the peaceful expression on both faces, there is no reason why we all cannot enjoy the photo safely. Just take reasonable precautions, and no one needs to get hurt.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Daring Young Max On The Flying Trapeze

Today, Max and I went to our first "Mommy and Me" gymnastics class. Max liked it. A lot. He would like to know how soon we will be moving to the gymnasium full-time, and why we have been living in an apartment like a bunch of suckers when there are places like the gym class, full of children and trampolines and bouncy balls, instead.

His excitement, combined with the poor lighting, created pictures that are mostly a little blurry.

Although not without a certain abstract artistic merit.

Even with the blurriness, though, I hope you can see how huge his smile is in every picture. He loves climbing, and he loves other kids, and this combined both for him. My utterly unbiased opinion is that he was the cutest kid there. And the smartest. And the nicest. And the blurriest.

It was lovely for me to be able to be with just Max for a little while, having playtime by ourselves. Well, by ourselves except for the ten other kids in the class, and their parents, and the teacher, all of whom Max found more interesting than he did me. But you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Can Call Me Pigeon Slayer

We appear to have shed our unwelcome, beady-eyed harbinger of doom, at least temporarily. Whilst on the phone with my friend Sarah yesterday, I explained my being-held-hostage-by-a-bird dilemma, and she was unimpressed by my overly girlish aversion to confronting my feathered foe. She shamed/coaxed me into taking back my territory by shooing the pigeon off of the porch with a broom. She reassured me that the pigeon's initial flappy descent onto my head was likely a fluke, and the worst case scenario about confronting it was that it might not fear me enough to vacate the porch. So I took it on, Max weeping piteously behind me because I categorically refused to let him help. I brandished my broom at the pigeon, who hooted derisively and scooted over behind the toy bin. Hesitantly, driven on only by my deep desire to not be called a wimp by Sarah (who was still on the phone with me at the time), I prodded the toy bin with the broom, shifting it several inches. The bird's head appeared around the side of the bin, its beady, flames-of-hell-colored eye upon me. "Its watching me", I whispered to Sarah. And then I said "AAARRRGGGHHH!!!" in a much louder voice, as the pigeon rose into the air, flapped directly towards me for a pace or two, and then flew away, saying, "Nevermore!" once more for luck over its shoulder. Apparently, a relaxing night spent pooping on everything that dwells on our porch was all that the pigeon needed in order to heal and restore its powers of flight. Or it was faking injury the whole time. What a punk.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Inch By Inch

Maggie is now moving freely around the living room. First the bum, then the shoulders, then the rest of her. She can be found, after only brief absences on my part, clear across the room from where I left her, chewing on Max's shoes or bits of alphabet letters he left on the floor, the activity blanket a blot on the distant horizon.

The only problem is, she keeps moving backwards. This aggravates her deeply. She will see something she wants to gnaw on or claw at, she will rear up and commence motion, and she will find to her dismay that the desired item has retreated farther instead of coming closer. She can't figure out what she is doing wrong. Is it a sign of inherent evilness in me that I find this so very funny?

In other news, that Godforsaken pigeon is STILL sitting out on my porch. Ian came in to tell me that it had left this morning, but by the time I got up, it was back. This means that, wounded wing or no, it is capable of leaving my life if it chooses. I have considered letting the cats out to scare it away, or devour it in a disgusting and bloody display of problem-solving, but I am worried that it has some sort of disease. Bird flu, or whatever. Meanwhile, while I sit in here and wring my hands, it has pooped on much of our patio. Also, several pieces of the laundry I threw at it yesterday are still scattered around out there, which looks sort of white-trashy. And, I am pretty sure that I read in our apartment newsletter (But how much news could one apartment complex generate? you ask. Enough for an entire monthly newsletter? Surely not! And yet, there is a newsletter every month) that they are conducting outdoor maintenance inspections today through Friday. Will I get in trouble for harboring an illicit pigeon on my patio, even if I swear that I am in no way its ally? Will the inspection be rigorous enough to scare away the dastardly fowl? One can hope. Otherwise, my plan B involves waiting until Max is asleep (because otherwise he will want to help, and he is at least as likely to take the bird's side as he is to take mine) and then chucking more laundry at it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Am Never Leaving The House Again. Ever.

I generally have a one-blog-post-per-day limit, because I like to space them out to smooth over the periods where I have nothing to say, and because otherwise I could potentially become a sad creature who blogs about her life with such obsessive fervor that she neglects to live her life. However, I have just been the victim of my second bird to the face in less than a month, and I am really having trouble accepting and coping with the incident. Is it a coincidence? I ask myself. Did I offend some bird somewhere, in such a way that it ordered a hit on me, and all breeds of fowl set aside their differences to answer the call? Is the universe trying to tell me something? Surely there is a better and clearer way to deliver the message, Universe, than chucking birds at my face?

I was taking an armload of dirty laundry out to the washing machine, which is in a little closet off our porch. I opened the sliding glass door, chatting with Max over my shoulder, all innocent and carefree and trusting in the goodness of the world and all its creatures. Out of nowhere, a gigantic ball of flapping, shedding feathers fell from the sky, pooped on me, and only missed getting tangled in my hair because I screamed and chucked all the laundry into the air in a warding-off gesture. The pigeon (for this is what the ball of feathers turned out to be) landed just outside the sliding glass door, which I promptly slammed shut. Max was whimpering nervously, because I had screamed. I examined the bird through the sliding glass, and saw that it had a hurt wing, which sort of explains its behavior but does not explain why I had to be the one to get in the way of the suicide dive. The cats gathered at the window (as seen in this picture), the pigeon settled itself on Max's talking car outside (as seen in the upper left hand corner of this picture), and Max and I had a frank talk in which I apologized for screaming and scaring him, explained that I was fine and the pigeon had just startled me, and advised him not to get too emotionally attached to the wounded pigeon, who will almost certainly be making some cat's day a better one in the very near future.

The pigeon is still sitting out there, the raven to my brooding Edgar Allen Poe. The cats are enthralled. Max keeps pointing at it and repeating the key phrases from my talk with him, in tones of hushed fascination. "Bird. Mama scare. Mama cry. Mama is okay. Flying. Owies. Owie wing. Bird." Not to be insensitive to the pigeon's plight, but since it is likely to die and I cannot save it (even if I were so inclined after being scared, feathered, and pooped on by it), I wish it would move along and perish elsewhere. I do not relish the thought of explaining its death to Max, and then having him repeat, "Die. Bird. Cat eat. Bloody massacre" for the rest of the week.

Granny Sweaters Galore!

Okay, we all remember this slice of cuteness from the other day, right?

But we now have twice the knitted delight here at The Magic Number, because Granny has recently completed a Max sweater, in festive orange. Note his matching pants, shoes, and his slightly pouty GQ expression. Every woman's crazy about a sharp-dressed man.

It's a snuggliness parade!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Considering the fact that they sprang from the same gene pool, Max and Maggie have surprisingly little in common. They do not look, sound, or behave even remotely alike, something that has allowed Ian and I to feel like we are parents for the first time twice. If that makes sense. While I find their many dissimilarities charming and fascinating, and while I think that each of them is the most uniquely perfect example of babyhood that the world has ever known, I have been looking in vain for some shred of evidence that they are even related since Maggie's fetushood on. And I finally found it. In comparing these two pictures, I can actually see a sibling resemblance, both in facial features and in behavior. Max and Maggie may be differently built and complected, and they may have different interests and preferences and challenges, but they both clearly like a nice sprawled-out sleep in the dead-center of the parental bed.

Max in January of 06 (around four and a half months old).

Maggie in early October of 07 (around four and a half months old).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Strength Of Ten Maggies (+ 2)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Maggie is on the move. She is now using her vast and terrifying strength to compensate for her not-quite-five-month-old coordination, and the result is an inchworm-style, mostly backwards crawl. Today I set her down to play on her blanket, talked to Ian and Max for five minutes or so, and looked back to find Maggie halfway across the room. She saw me watching her, reared up on her elbows, heaved her belly up, and scooched back another couple of inches. Then she laughed. God help us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Luckiest

All the omens pointed to a bad morning. Max, who had installed himself in our bed around two a.m., woke up around seven and was immediately angry at me for nursing Maggie. He slid out of bed and went to find Ian, while I stayed in bed, continued to nurse Maggie, and made a mental note to research child-friendly tranquilizer darts on the Internet later. Ian came into the bedroom and informed me that Max needed some diaperly attention. Max walked in and jumped on me, his odor confirming Ian's claims. I detached Maggie and got up. When I removed Max's diaper, he said, "Gross!" with quite unnecessary amounts of cheer. Ian laughed way more than is advisable for a man who does not wish to find poopy diapers under his pillow tonight.
Max ate breakfast, smearing oatmeal on most of North America in the process, while Maggie kicked her covers off and then woke up mad because she was cold. Ian declined my suggestion to take one or both children with him to work. Max pooped again after Ian's departure, creating a palpable smell that left the neighbors on all sides wondering whether their combined complaints would be enough to get us evicted. Not to be outdone, Maggie pooped while I was still elbow-deep in Max feces, soiling her diaper, her clothes, her activity blanket, the floor, and my remaining good will. I cleaned and clothed everyone and then we all evacuated outside. We watched the rain and played in the sandbox while the apartment air slowly cleared. Max gave Maggie some sand and they both laughed. "Max helping, Mama", Max informed me. "Love you, Mama. Love you, Max. Thank you, Max. Sky crying? Kiss Maggie", he added, directing a European-style air-kiss in Maggie's general direction. They're mine, I thought with amazement. I get to be their mom. How on earth did I get so lucky? And just like that, it was the best morning ever.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Muppet Show

This sweater is only going to fit for the next 3.2 seconds, so I felt the need to document it for posterity. Granny made it for Maggie before she was born (before Maggie was born, obviously -- Granny did not make any sweaters for anyone while still a fetus, as far as I know)...

...and it is among the more wonderful, fuzzy, knobby, orangey-pinky garments the world has ever known. Look upon her cuteness, ye mighty, and despair!