Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Somewhere, in the not-so-distant past, Max heard someone say that they felt sick. (On Sesame Street, maybe?) Apparently, the dramatic potential of ill health appeals to him, because he has been "feeling a little sick -- cough! cough!" ever since. He puts long, thin legos in his mouth and claims that they report fever, he loudly and with great and tragic aplomb sneezes into his hands, and he clutches his throat with both hands and looks woeful, regretfully informing me that he has lost his voice. Here's the thing, though -- Max has actually been sick ... hold on, let me count ... three times in his life. He has very little real-life experience to draw on, and his performance reflects this lack. His 'fevers' include the prop of the faux thermometer, but he has not committed to the role enough to adopt the quiet, glassy-eyed temperament that has accompanied his real-life fevers. His sneezes and coughs lack even an attempt to simulate actual snot -- he basically just says 'achoo!' or 'ahem' and then asks for attention. And, of course, most glaringly, when he says he has lost his voice, he neglects to consider that he is using his voice to inform me of the loss, thus poking holes in his own tale of woe. Not surprisingly, Max has found that his recent bouts of ill health have not been met with an overabundance of sympathy. In fact, his cruel and neglectful parents seem amused by his maladies more often than not.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Max has created this game in which he, Ian, and Maggie run and hide, and then the monster (me) thunders ominously down the hall in search of prey. The plot line of this game grows increasingly elaborate as time goes on. Max seems to simultaneously be: the wily escapee of the monster, the sassy yet naive gingerbread man, the only known world expert on optimal blanket placement for monster concealment, and the bold and fearless rescuer of Princess Maggie. He's got a lot of balls in the air, folks. (By the way, every time Max discusses rescuing Princess Maggie, I feel the need to apologize to Margaret the elder. I am so very sorry for Max's not-so-feminist attitude, Margaret the Elder, but this is a direct quote from Mario, which he plays with Ian. If it helps, Maggie seems to be heading down a very self-rescuing developmental path.)

The role of Monster is a challenging one for me, because I have to be the scary monster, and then I have to do a 180 and be the comforting mama if the monster gets too intense, and then I get taunted for being weak and I have to go back into monster-mode. I am a shoe-in at the Oscars this year.

Maggie's inclusion in this game was allowed by Max grudgingly at best, initially. As Maggie gets older, however, she is increasingly not content to remain in the background of activities, and her titan-like strength means that one has to take her desires seriously. After some negotiating, though, Max now seems to enjoy making her a part of the action, and will remind Ian that she needs to hide, too. Maggie, always an avid Max fan, is THRILLED to be a part of his play. Their cuteness is really quite extraordinary.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Max and Maggie ( I almost called this post "M and M", and then recoiled in horror from the accidental pun, so we all dodged a bullet, People.)

Max and Maggie are both at really fun ages right now. (Mind you, I am saying this less than 24 hours after literally telling my mother that since she wanted grandchildren so badly, she should now consider herself morally obligated to take on the care of their bloody-nosed, poopy, teething, crabby selves, but a good night's sleep does wonders for the outlook.) They are changing so much so quickly, and it has been amazing to watch their developmental milestones fly past.

Maggie is at that really responsive, happy, playful point in her babyhood. She plays several games now: peek-a-boo, chase, I-drop-stuff-and-you-get-it-for-me-and-I-drop-it-again-and-etc., and POUND, which is a game Maggie invented herself and which mainly consists of pounding on stuff with her baby fists. She also talks a little bit. For awhile, we wondered if we were imagining her speech, but multiple witnesses have agreed, so we can now report that Maggie can say the following words: "Mama", "Dada", "cat", "baby", and "done". She also does baby signs for "milk" and "more". She is still not a giant fan of the solid food, and will say "duh!" (done) and make the sign for "milk" repeatedly during solid food time, clamping her tiny lips determinedly shut against the spoon. Sometimes I kind of wish I had never taught her that sign.

Max, on the other hand, has been hard at work on his driver's permit, and hopes to be a fully licensed driver by his next birthday. He has dreams of driving the van to preschool in the fall, to impress his new classmates. I keep telling him that with the ever-increasing price of gas, this is unlikely, but he is nothing if not determined.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do I Have To Share?

Max has always been a social person, and I love that about him. As he gets older, he gets more and more interested in being social with kids his own age, and so Ian and I have been thinking about options for preschool in the fall. Yesterday, I spent a little time consolidating plans for Max to attend the preschool where I used to teach. Obviously, its a school I know well and feel comfortable with, and I think that Max will really enjoy it. After I hung up the phone, though, I had to have a little cry. I can't believe that Max is old enough to go to school! As much as I know that he will be more than ready by September, there is some really big, selfish piece of me yelling, "My baby! Mine! I don't want to share him!" The phase of Max's life where I can supply his every social need is ending, and I am going to miss it. I can already foresee that Max's first day will be much harder for me than it will for him. I marvel over how cavalier I was when I was on the teaching end of the relationship. I knew, and I thought I understood, that people were entrusting their children to me. I never really understood, though, that it is more than that. When you put your child in someone else's care, you are entrusting them with your heart. And my heart is growing up just a little too fast.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Don't Mind Some Unabashed Baby Bragging, Do You?

Maggie in her christening gown is quite possibly the loveliest thing I have ever seen. I meant to include these pictures in yesterday's post, but it was sort of monstrously long even without them, so I decided to give them their own post.

I am so grateful that my grandma saved her christening gown, and allowed us to use it. It was perfect. Also perfect -- Maggie rebelliously lifting up her gown in each and every one of the formal pictures, so that you can get a little peek at the roly poly baby leg.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In Which Maggie Is Blessed

We had a Blessing Ceremony for Maggie this weekend at the Unitarian Church. The building and grounds are so beautiful, and we had an amazing sunny day for the occasion.

Maggie's mama and grandma accidentally but completely coordinated outfits. If we ever need Team Tillman uniforms, Elaine and I are all set.

As lovely as the church was, and as gorgeous as the day was, Maggie's beauty commanded every eye.

My grandma Kay loaned us her christening gown for Maggie to use. It is from Grandma's christening, and it is almost one hundred years old. I really love the gown, which is long and ivory-colored and simply embroidered, and it was so special to be able to include a piece of our family's history in the ceremony.

And speaking of the ceremony ... it was, um, action-packed. We had Max's Blessing ceremony at the same church two years ago, and it was a very peaceful event. We had yet another opportunity on Saturday, however, to rediscover one of parenting's great truths: things are more complicated when you have more than one child. Max stood up with us during the ceremony, and he started out relatively calm.

In the middle of the ceremony, the minister puts a small amount of water on the baby's head. In this picture, you can see our minister moistening Maggie. Notice the following: I am holding Maggie, Ian is holding Max, and Max has suddenly become sharply interested in the proceedings. None of us know it yet, but Max is about to have a giant meltdown. Ready? 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Oh, look! Now I am holding Max and looking shell-shocked, while Ian holds a squirmy Maggie and the minister tries to restore order. In between these two pictures, Max suddenly wailed, "I DON'T WANT WATER ON MAGGIE'S HEAD NO NO NO I DON'T LIKE IT WATER ON MAGGIE!" and fell apart completely. He went and sat with my mum for a minute, but kept crying for me, and so that's how we finished the ceremony.

I held Max, Ian held Maggie, who decided to pass the time by playing peek-a-boo with the excess fabric in her gown, and Maggie was blessed with the melodious sound of Max sobbing piteously for a background. We are still not sure what caused Max to object so very strenuously to Maggie's moistening. He doesn't like getting his hair washed, and so maybe he felt protective of Maggie, or maybe (more likely) he was worried that he was next. I also sort of accidentally scheduled the ceremony for the middle of his nap time, so that may have been a factor, too. The minister did a good job of allowing us time to regroup, and of staying calm throughout the hullabaloo.

After all that, we obviously needed to rejuvenate our strength, so we went to Granny and Gramps' house and ate. And ate. And ate. There was a lot of food, and all of it was really good, so we kept eating for awhile.

And then we partied. Grandma Kay told Maggie some secrets.

Grandpa Phil and Max prepared for their circus audition. Working title of their act: Phil and his Amazing Blue Worm Boy!

Unable to compete very well with that act, the rest of us entertained ourselves as best as we could.

As the day progressed, it became not just sunny, not just warm, but HOT. Gramps busted out the hose for the kids. I thought that Maggie might be freaked out by the coldness and the squirtiness, but she loved it.

And Max, of course, is old friends with the hose, and renewed his love affair with enthusiasm.

Ian has long insisted that Maggie is unusually musical. I am not sure if this is true or not, being so unmusical myself that I have no way to judge, but it makes Ian happy to think that at least one of his genes squeaked through into Maggie's decidedly Chelsa-ish form. She is certainly an appreciative audience, at least.

We had a lovely day together, and even Max's meltdown was sort of nice (in retrospect), because it really emphasized the point of the blessing. We are welcoming Maggie into her family and into the world, and Maggie's world includes and incorporates Max. Look at her jolly little face. We are so overwhelmingly happy to have her.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

We had a Blessing Ceremony for Maggie yesterday, with a big, wild party, and pictures of that are coming, with possible video bonus. What with all the partying and blessing and child-wrangling, though, I can't quite face it yet. You will have to be content, therefore, with this slice of Easter adorableness. Happy Spring, Everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sleep Club For Babies

Hi, I'm Maggie. I'm here today to tell you about a novel new lifestyle makeover I've recently designed. I call it the "sleep during the day, then stay awake all night nursing" plan. My mama is bug-eyed from lack of sleep, so I know it's working out great for her, too.

My easy-to-follow lifestyle adjustment has three basic steps:
1) Sleep most of the day, awakening just long enough to refuse to nap during your sibling's naptimes. While your sibling is being put to bed, pop up from your crib at irregular intervals, crowing and cawing loudly. Resist all efforts to keep you awake and lively during daylight.
2) Awaken around eight or eight-thirty, conclude that you are feeling peckish. Play with but do not actually eat your solid food. Request nursing repeatedly.
3) Continue to request nursing frequently throughout the night. This step does require a certain amount of vigilance -- ideally, you want to squawk for more milk right at the exact second that your mama decides you're done and starts to drift off to sleep.

Ask me about the many benefits that this lifestyle offers; after all, I'm not just the president and founder of this exciting new plan -- I'm also its top client. Call today!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Skeletons In The Digital Camera Closet

I had BIG plans for today's blog post, people. I was going to tell you all about how Maggie has learned a new baby sign ("more"), with photos of her signing it as proof. I was going to tell you about how Max and Maggie seem to have gotten past their sibling angst, at least for now, and are playing together in new and exciting ways, with photos of them being cute together as proof. I was also going to discuss the awesome french toast cut out with cookie cutters breakfast I made for Max this morning, securing my place in the Mama Hall Of Fame and tricking Max into eating three eggs and two pieces of toast and a banana, with lip-smacking pictures of the whole breakfast as proof. However, we will not be discussing any of those things, because Ian has apparently stolen the camera and taken it to work with him. I was therefore reduced to hunting through our computer files for old pictures that I could blog about, and during my hunt, I discovered this disturbing sequence:

Three things have become really clear to me since viewing these pictures. First, I have got to get rid of that godforsaken Alien action figure. Clearly, its presence is unhealthy for all of us. Secondly, Ian must not, under any circumstances, be permitted to use the camera unsupervised ever again. Thirdly, and most importantly, I have clearly not been offering Ian a long and detailed enough to-do list, and the poor lamb has been reduced to filling his time any way he can. Don't fret, though; I can remedy that problem easily.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Which Chelsa Is Irritated By A Number Of Things

Item 1 on my list: Maggie's teeth. Dear Tooth Nubs: Whatever it is that you are doing in there that is making my beloved daughter bite me and keep me up all night, it is important that you stop doing it immediately. Thank you.
Item 2: I found four grey hairs on my head the other day. Dear grey hairs: cease and desist reproducing right now. I am unamused.
Item 3: When I bemoaned the aforementioned grey hairs to Ian, he icily informed me that some people would feel really lucky if they were still growing hair of any color, and that perhaps I should take my luxuriously full-maned self elsewhere with my complaints. And that was the most sympathy I got out of him on that subject.
Item 4: My mother chirpily commented that she has only just now begun to go grey. Arguably even less helpful than Ian. Which is why I am talking to you, Blog.
Item 5: I ordered a dress online, and received the wrong item from the company. This wouldn't be the end of the world, except that the item I received was a pair of jeans with MULTI-COLORED RHINESTONES affixed to the back pockets. I am sad a) that such jeans exist in the world, b) that I am, however briefly, the owner of such a fashion aberration, and c) that when I alerted the company to their error, they offered me a five dollar coupon by way of apology. As if five dollars is enough to compensate for my lost innocence.
Item 6: Max has decided that his stuffed bear is a baby. This is adorable in theory. Rather than care for the bear baby himself, however, Max keeps me continually informed of it's needs (which are considerable), and then demands that I care for it. That hairy little bear baby poops and cries nonstop, and seems quite neurotic, to boot.

That's all I can think of right now, but I'm sure more things will aggravate me as the day progresses, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Heart

I am utterly crazy about this boy.

Possibly because he is utterly crazy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

In Which Chelsa Raises An Irate Fist To The Heavens And Curses Daylight Saving Time

I have composed the following letter, which I plan to deliver as soon as I figure out how to time travel:
Dear Mr. Willett,
Hi there. My name is Chelsa. Obviously we have never met, since you died 62 years before I was born. It is, therefore, shocking that you have managed to impact my life so negatively, and to instill so much bitterness and rancor for you in my heart. Right now (always supposing that I have used the time travel device correctly), you are getting ready to propose an idea which will eventually become Daylight Saving Time. Wikipedia tells me that you came up with this idea after observing with dismay how much of the glorious summer daylight was wasted by so many people. Kudos on your active and nature-loving lifestyle. You know what, though? Some people enjoy sleeping in. Also, and even more importantly, some people have small children, and those small children do not understand your elaborate dance of the clocks, and therefore end up going to bed really, really, really late at night. And then the daylight that you so want us to enjoy is instead spent in a crabby and sleep-deprived fog. So thanks for your busybodyish need to force us all to get out there and seize the daylight, but no thank you. Please reconsider putting out pamphlets or otherwise endorsing changing the clocks to match the seasons. History will thank you.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Welcome Baby Sophia!

Mama to Max: Hey, Max! Come look at this! This is a picture of your new baby cousin!
Max: That's Joey?
Mama: No, that's Joey's new baby sister!
Max: That's Joey's baby?
Mama: Joey has a baby sister now, just like you!
Max: That's Joey's Maggie!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Imaginary Friends (Or Violent Adversaries)

Max has been exploring his inner thespian recently. His play is much more elaborate and creative than ever before, and he has begun playing and conversing with stuffed animals, action figures, and altogether made-up beings. Everyone, good or evil, seems to like drinking tea. Last night, Ian was commenting on Max's newly vivid imaginative play. He said, "It's funny, because so much of his play incorporates Star Wars or Superman or stuff that I've shown Max, and that he knows I like. You can really see how you imprint your kids' inner lives, and how so much of how they think and what they like comes from you." (Disclaimer, because I know Ian will complain: This is not a direct quote. I can't remember exactly what he said, but this is the gist.) We both reflected sentimentally on the wonder of parenthood for a moment, and then Max called, from the other room, "Dada! Lotta lotta Darth Vaders! Shoot them! For the kill!" The tender moment ended with Ian receiving a lecture on appropriate and non-violent games to share with your two-year old.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Maggie's relationship with solid food is slowly becoming friendlier. She still spits out a fair percentage of her rations, but she is at least opening her mouth for bites now, and seems happy to be eating. The increase in solid food consumption has led to many of the side effects that I predicted and feared -- our entire lives are splattered with baby food, Max has begun asking me to feed him his meals again, too, so as to share the attention, and the other end of Maggie's digestive tract has begun producing poo in a wide variety of colors, textures, and degrees of disgustingness. However, there is one really marvelous side effect that sort of balances it all out -- she now sleeps for 10 or 11 hours straight at night! Yee haw.

*Bonus Question: If you look up Maggie's nose in this picture, you can see tiny particles of what she ate for dinner. Was it
a)green beans?
b)sweet potatoes?
The winner gets no prize, but does get to experience the warm glow of correctness, plus the warm glow that accompanies studying food particles stuck up a baby's nose. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

If Diana Ross And Mr. Rogers Collaborated On Song Lyrics ...

Dad to Max: Hey Max! Sing this: "Stop! In the name of Love! Before you break my heart!"
Max (singing passionately): Stop! In the neighborhood! Am ram mamamammmm heart!"

We love him to the moon and back. You can see why.