Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh, How We Do Have Fun

Max has managed, somehow, to enter into his most interesting, fun, exciting, charming phase lately, while simultaneously becoming his most challenging, defiant, claiming-of-authority-he-does-not-really-possess-ish self. I realize that these two phases seem to contradict one another -- how can you be your most charming and most defiant at the same time? -- but Max is apparently able to keep a lot of emotional balls in the air. Everything that I say lately gets contradicted. Everything. ("I love you, Max." "But you do not love me." "Please come over here, Max." "But I am not going to come over there." "What do you want for breakfast, Max?" "But I am not going to eat breakfast." and etc.) It really, really, really, really, a lot, I am not kidding, bugs. Just when I am online ordering the pamphlets for the state's top-rated boarding schools, however, he will creep over to me, all giant, dewy eyes and clasped hands, and say, "Can you please play with me, Mama? You are my best friend." And he is so funny and winsome and creative and loving that I inevitably decide to keep him, even if he would be saying, "But I am not funny and winsome and creative and loving and I do not want you to keep me" if he could read what I was writing right now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aunt Jean!

We miss you and wish we were celebrating with you. In honor of your birthday, Max said the following: "Joey is great! He is my best friend! But it is not Joey's birthday. Jean is Joey's friend. Jean lives at Joey's house. Happy Birthday! Jolly Good Fellow!" Exactly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Maggie Slideshow

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live with a Maggie, here is a handy, condensed version of our year. It has a soundtrack, so don't let the music jump out at you loudly. (Although, letting loud sounds jump out at you would make for a more accurate Life With Maggie simulation, especially if you watch it while you are trying to sleep or get some work done.) Cheers!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Maggie's Birthday Roundup

Maggie's official birthday party is scheduled for next weekend, and you can bet your bum that there will be pictures of that coming up. Additionally, Ian and I are working on a Maggie-themed slide show, which should be up and running tonight(ish). Our celebrations yesterday were low key, but we did party down, Tillman-style, and so Maggie's actual birthday went thusly:

On my birthday, my mum always calls me at the exact time of day that I was born, so that we can reminisce together over what a delight I have always been. I like the tradition, and want to continue it with my children. I, however, had the good manners to be born at 8:15 a.m., while my kids were both born at much less decent hours. (Max: 6:25 a.m.; Maggie: 12:24 a.m.) Nonetheless, I remained stubbornly awake with Maggie until 12:24 on her birthday morning, and reminisced about what a delight she's always been while Ian blearily and with much grumbling photographed the moment for posterity. Maggie, for her part, began her second year of life in much the way she began her first one: nursing herself to sleep on my chest and then refusing to be dislodged from her place of comfort.

To Max, the fact that it was Maggie's birthday meant two things: a hearty round of "Jolly Good Fellow", sung off-key but with admirable gusto, and cake. We made the horrible error of showing Max the cupcakes (one each for Max and Maggie -- Ian and I had sugar-free ice cream, because being a grown-up sucks) before dinner, and then telling him that we would not be eating the cupcakes until after dinner. We realized our error almost immediately, but it was too late to go back, and so we soldiered on, ate dinner, and made forced pleasant conversation while Max lay under the dinner table and wailed "We're done with dinner! We need cupcakes!" at two-second intervals. By the time we had finished making our point (whatever the hell our point was in the first place), Maggie had fallen asleep, so Max sang to her slumbering self and ate his cupcake in her honor.

Maggie did wake up in time to eat her birthday cake on her birthday. She was bemused by the cupcake at first, and examined it from all angles, unsure whether it was food, a toy, or some sort of baby IQ test.

Maggie smooshed cake into the tray, her hair, her belly button, and both nostrils, and then finally, some stray frosting found its way into her mouth and she realized that she loved it.

A lot.

Delighted with her new, cake-eating lifestyle, and in the throes of her first sugar-high, Maggie was humorous to behold. The humor wore off two hours later, when the sugar high was still carrying Maggie on its glucosey wings of frenzy and the rest of us were ready for bed, but how often do you turn one, for goodness' sake?

And that, my friends, is how Maggie ushered in her onehood.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Which Maggie Turns One

One year ago today, Ian and I were introduced to this be-mohawked little lady for the very first time. She was very soft, and very pink, and very determined. We liked her immediately.

One year later, Maggie is bigger, and she can do more tricks, but not much else has changed. Her hair has changed color, but she is still be-mohawked. She is still soft (except where she has built up a callous on one leg from crawling), she is still pink, and she is still very determined. And, of course, we still like her, so much that I am hoping she will let us keep her. Happy Birthday, Maggles.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Emotional Roller Coaster

Max to Mama: I am happy when Maggie is awake. I like to play with her because she is my friend. Maggie is a good friend. She is my favorite. Maggie has a shovel. She is hitting me. I am okay. But I don't like Maggie, Mama.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Max and Maggie usually nap in the big bed, and it is a precious and increasingly infrequent day when they both nap simultaneously. It has occurred to Maggie, somewhere along the way, that if she stays up while Max naps, she can play with whatever she wants and have unlimited Mama time, and these facts strike her as appealing. Occasionally, when they do nap together, I will leave them sleeping and go frolic in the other room -- you know, I'll go to the bathroom without an audience, or I'll eat lunch without other people's hands in my food -- I am unstoppably devil-may-care like that. I always keep the door a bit open, though, so I can keep my eye on the napping duo. They have been known to wake each other up, and Maggie in particular has to be watched closely, because she thinks that she knows how to get out of the big bed by herself but she is sadly mistaken. The other day, I peeked in at them, and saw that Maggie had rolled over, Max had flung out an arm, and that my two beauteous children were holding hands in their sleep. By the time I got the camera, they had shifted slightly, so that Max is technically holding Maggie's elbow, but I took the picture anyway. Not only is it still cute, but I like having photographic evidence of them napping at the same time, so that I can sigh over it longingly on days when one of them naps and the other one watches me go pee and then puts their hands in my salad.

p.s. I know it looks like Maggie is being smothered by the pillow, but she's not -- I checked. And then I checked again. And then, five minutes later, I checked again. And then, eventually, I just moved the pillow. I woke her up, of course, but safety first.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I am grateful to my mother, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunts, my sisters, my sister-in-law, and all the mothers who helped to make me the person and the mother that I am. Happy Mama's Day from a happy mama.

Friday, May 09, 2008

In Which Max Has His First School Experience (Sort Of)

Alternate title: How Chelsa has allowed her overprotective inclinations to shape her life and the lives of those around her

This month, I have begun substituting a little bit at the preschool where I used to work. Yesterday, I brought Max with me, in the interests of conducting a little social experiment. Query: Could Chelsa cope with being a teacher and a mama simultaneously, and could Max cope with sharing his mom and his space without being utterly hampered socially by her presence? It seems that the answer is yes to both parts, at least so far. I really enjoyed being back and teaching, and Max had A BLAST running, biking, climbing, sliding, painting, drawing, building, eating, dressing up, getting undressed, and etc. Although, if you ask him what he did at school, he will answer: I got a boo boo. And he did. He slipped and scraped his knee like, five minutes after he arrived. With a keen eye for the dramatic, though, he has apparently decided that the story of his day peaked there, and further information will just detract from the narrative arc.
In light of the success of our experiment (the other half of the offspring juggling party, Maggie, stayed home with Ian, and they evidently had a delightful time, too, without even a boo boo to mar their day), I am thinking that I will substitute more often, allowing me to make a little extra cash, get out and about, and most importantly, feel like I am giving Max the social experience and greater independence of preschool without actually having to let him out of my sight very often. I wonder if I can employ a similar technique when he starts high school? Or dating? Good grief.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Every time I make a comment like this, the gods seem to hear me and punish me for my good cheer, but Max and Maggie have been playing together beautifully lately. Maggie is finally old enough that she can participate in games, and Max has been really taking advantage of having a playmate. He invites her into his play all the time, and sometimes even gets upset if she wanders off. Last night, Max and I built a fort out of the piano bench and the Auntie Aly blankets, and Max kept lifting the blankets, peeking his tufty little head out, and squawking, "I want Maggie to come in here! Maggie, come in here, pleeeeeeease? Maggie! Mama, put Maggie in here!" Maggie was a little unsure about crawling into a low, dark cave that was dangerously full of Max's knees and elbows, but she finally took the bait. I don't know exactly what they were doing in there, but it involved much giggling. Siblings can be a pain, and I have definitely watched Max and Maggie struggle to claim privacy, space, and greater shares of attention. While their getting older and more independent is definitely bittersweet, I am so glad to see them grow into their siblinghood, and to get to a phase where they appreciate each other.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Gramps!

I have spent a while this morning contemplating the perfect anecdote to sum up my dad. I could tell you about the time that he got me a Jesus candle for my birthday (none of us are catholic), and then laughed himself to tears over the joke, which no one else quite got. I could tell you that he has a hat, purchased at a thrift store, that has a name tag pinned to it that says, "Michael", and that he has never removed the name tag, even though his name is Bob. I think that the best, most Gramps-summing-up story I could tell, though, is this one: when I gave birth to Max, six weeks early, it was scary and sad and overwhelming. Everyone rallied around us, everyone wanted to help, but mostly we just had to watch Max grow into his body enough to be ready to come home. While we were doing that, my dad cleaned, organized, and sterilized our entire house. He put oil in our car and checked the tires and installed the car seat. He cooked food and insisted that we sit down and eat it. He allowed us to worry about nothing but Max, which was good, because that was pretty much a full time job. He is zany, and eccentric, and his fashion sense is often a step or two beyond the rest of us. Mostly, though, he takes care of us, in thousands of small but significant ways, and Ian, Max, Maggie and I are all so very lucky that he is ours. Happy Birthday, Pops!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The House Always Wins

When Maggie was around eight months old, we began speculating, for lack of anything better to do, about when she would walk. Since she seemed to be on the developmental fast track, I predicted that her first steps were imminent. My mother, who is contrary by nature, disagreed, and a semi-friendly wager was proposed. I bet that Maggie would take her first steps by nine months, and be a full-fledged walker by ten months. My mum bet first steps at ten months. We observed keenly as Maggie pulled to stand, started cruising from furniture piece to furniture piece, and then -- sort of plateaued there. Nine months passed. Ten months passed. When Maggie hit eleven months old, we were forced to admit the bitter truth: we had both lost. If you are thinking of throwing your own chips onto the table, though, I am sorry to tell you that the game is now closed. Maggie took her first step this morning, at eleven months, nine days, and eleven and a half hours old. She is brilliant, and beautiful, and fantastic, and now, she is also mobile. Heads up.