Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cousin Club

The epic meeting of all 4 Tillman/Brooks cousins finally took place on the 18th, and the epic blogging of the meeting will now take place on the .. hold on, what the hell is the date? Let me check ...the 30th. The delay in my sharing the delight of these pics with you is regrettable, but somehow, I have been really discombobulated this month. I think it is the constant stream of vacations and visitors -- we were in Canada at the end of June, at the beach mid-July, then the cousins/in-laws on the heels of that, we have my friend Sarah coming next week, and then we are off to Disneyland. As I read that last sentence over to myself, it occurs to me that complaining about too many vacations may not be the way to come off as exactly pitiable, so without further ado:

Max and Joey were delighted with one another. They have been very different from birth onward, but they complement each other nicely. Max is larger, but more cautious, Joey is smaller but bolder, and so they match up.

It was hard to get a really quality shot of both boys together, since it was evening and the lighting was challenging, and also because neither of them stopped moving ever for the entire night. While I won't be winning any kodak awards, I think you do get a sense of the epic adventure that is Max and Joey.

Who in God's name would give two two and a half year old boys matching lightsabers and encourage them to use them on each other and hapless passers by?


Eager to escape the confines of our small apartment, what with the lightsabers a-swingin' and all, we went to the park near our house after dinner. Max and Joey ran wild and free, Maggie dabbled in the sand a bit and tried out the swings, but Sophia, at four months old, mostly looked all goggle-eyed at the goings on. She was not at all impressed with the twirling thing her mom tried to share with her. Geez, what a baby, right?

I did wonder how Maggie was going to feel about having another, smaller baby in her space. On the one hand, she loves dolls, and Sophia could be categorized as a slightly more life-like version of a baby doll. On the other hand, Maggie likes to pound her dolls' faces into the ground, and Sophia could not be categorized as someone who would appreciate a face-pounding. Fortunately, Maggie's more benign maternal impulses won out, and she kissed Sophia and petted her frequently.

That's the kind of cute that you want to pace yourself when viewing, lest you get an adorable high and embarrass yourself.

Ian's parents couldn't join us for the epic first gathering of all their offsprings' offspring. (Wow. If you say offspring enough times in a row, it loses all meaning. I think I just invented a new meditation chant.) This caused some sadness for all of us, and, I am sure, for them, too. We tried to get a decent and Hallmark-ish shot of all four kids together, but ...

As per usual, you get one kid looking fantastic in each shot, one kid turned to the side, one kid beating on another kid, and at least one grown-up's hand at the periphery of the photo, desperately trying to stave off mutiny. Even with all of that to distract from the subjects at hand, however, I think we have the most stunningly, fantastically, amazingly lovely group of children here that the world has ever known.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Knock Three Times On The Window If You Love Me

This morning, at 6:22, Max sat up in bed, sang a line from "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", asked for chocolate milk, and was right in the middle of yelling at Maggie for being in his spot when he happened to look up at the bedroom window. His eyes bugged out and he started shaking. "MAMA!" he screamed. "MAMA, HELP!" Neither Ian nor I could figure out what had happened -- he was sitting in bed, nothing seemed to be hurting him, nothing looked out of the ordinary in the room or out the window, and while Maggie had been annoying him with her proximity, she was technically still asleep and therefore probably not guilty of anything too heinous. I held Max close to me for a few minutes, and then lay him in bed, where he calmed down and eventually dozed off again, but kept both arms and legs wrapped around me tightly even in his sleep.
After we got up about an hour later, I was in the bathroom washing my hands when Max casually said, "Mama, there was a monster. I saw a monster this day looking in the window. He was looking in the window in our bedroom. He was a red one. He made a face like this," and Max pursed his lips in an 'o' shape to demonstrate.
This explains Max's terror this morning. I, too, would be disconcerted if I saw a red monster peeking in the window and pursing his lips at me. Since I am fairly certain that there was no actual red monster, though (you can never be 100% sure about these things, but I did look out the window when Max got all bug-eyed, and that monster was either a wily SOB who ducked down mighty quick-like, or he was not in fact corporeal), I expressed to Max the theory that he had dreamed the incident. He remained adamant about what he had seen, right down to the 'o' face. He was even reluctant to nap, and asked to sleep in the corner of the bed that is farthest from the window. I have tried to explain dreams to him, but I think that when you are a kid, dreams and reality are not all that distinguishable. Max is getting to be quite creative and imaginative, as I was as a tot, and bad dreams do sometimes go along with all of that. I feel quite sorry for my little guy, although he is now quite cheerful about the monster, and relates it as an amusing anecdote more than a traumatic episode. And, on the plus side, I secretly trimmed the hair on the back of his neck while he was sleeping at nap time, and if he notices (he is still asleep right now), I am fully planning to blame that dastardly red monster.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Know, I Know, I Know ...

It's been about 75 years since last we spoke, and I left you all with a promise of beach pictures and then failed to deliver. I'm sorry. Kind of. I do have to go out and live through these adventures before I can write about them, and this particular trip was really tiring. In a good way, but still. Plus, right after the beach, we had a visit with the famous Cousin Joey, the soon-to-be famous Cousin Sophia, and that was tiring too. In a good way, but still. And the sheer monstrous magnitude of pictures from these two events is so overwhelmingly humongously humongous that I have been afraid to apply my already dangerously depleted energy to the task of sorting and posting them. So there.

How was the beach, you ask?

It was lovely. We escaped the smoky, broiling hot hell that the Sacramento Valley was offering, and we went where it was lovely, and cool, and salty. Look! We're wearing long sleeves in some of the pictures!

Since it is usually Ian or I taking pictures, we have very few photos of all four of us. We attempted to take advantage of having extra camera operators on hand to get a family photo. Sadly, we waited until the end of a beach trip at the end of a long day, and Max was more interested in going home to bed than in flashing his trademark winsome yet mischievous grin at the camera, and Maggie's hood had been trying to eat her entire face for the whole trip and she was not impressed and I was quietly wondering if I had applied enough sunscreen to my face (answer -- nope, I had not. My nose turned a girlish and most becoming pink the next day.) So, once again, we captured a family moment on film, but not perhaps the moment we were going for. Only Ian looks truly content in this picture, and that is because -- I don't know? The hat? The fact that he did apply enough sunscreen? The delighted inner glow that a life with Chelsa constantly provides? Hmm.

Max, who I have always described as a fairly cautious child, got in touch with his inner fearless explorer on this trip. On a related note, I made an interesting personal discovery: I like it when Max is cautious. Gramps aided and abetted rock-climbing, ocean diving, and cliff-scaling activities, and I spent a lot of time cringing and deliberately not looking. Max emerged unscathed. I am sure that my newly developed ulcer will subside in time.

Max also built several delightful sandcastles.

Or, more specifically, Max built 50% of several delightful sandcastles, and then stepped on them, crushed every trace of them, and salted the earth where they had been. He has inner rage issues, apparently. Maybe an overprotective mother who won't let him scale slippery cliffs? Hmm.

Maggie sampled the sand of several beaches during our trip. Her opinion: gritty, salty, and not at all desirable. And yet, she kept trying to eat it. It's like how my mum always asks me for a sip of my lemonade, even though she hates lemonade, and then makes a face when she takes the sip. Those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, Ladies.

Why did we come home, again?

Unlike her brother, Maggie never even offered me the illusion that she was cautious. She was not overly fond of the water, but she took on the sand, the rocks, the seals, and any and every form of seaweed. I am pretty sure I saw her take down a deer with her bare hands. She is a fearless little amazon.

Nope, this sand doesn't taste good, either.

Max saw an older boy skipping rocks one afternoon, and took up the hobby. He did not quite grasp the refined art of rock skipping in the time allowed him, but he did invent a new sport: rock plopping. It is certain to become a nation-wide craze.

Inner thoughts of everyone in this picture:
Gramps: Ta-da! This is going to be the greatest sand castle ever!
Max: This sand castle is looking good. It needs something, though, a little tweaking ... a flag? A decorative rock fence? Oh, I know! It needs a STOMPING! Pillaging commencing in five ... four ... three ... two ...
Chelsa: Max is standing on my hand. Ow. Plus, I'm pretty sure he's planning to stomp this castle. I hope Granny takes this picture quickly.

I drove up to the beach with my parents and the kids on Monday. Ian had to work, so he wasn't able to come up until Wednesday night. Another personal discovery (this trip was chock-full of them. Isn't it nice when we grow as people?): Ian and I are not meant to travel separately. Every night that we were apart, Ian called us sounding drunk and depressed, and I worried myself into eye-rolling fits over him driving by himself on the twisty turny roads late at night. See, Max? It's not just you that I hover over. I'm an equal opportunity hoverer. Anyway, we missed him, and while it is nice to get reacquainted with the fact that you prefer having your spouse around to being alone, even after almost nine years of marriage, it is not as nice as having your spouse around and just assuming that you prefer it to being alone. So, for the next trip, what have we learned? Travel together, don't eat sand, and bring a stylish yet sturdy leash for Max and Gramps.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Evvery Woman's Crazy 'Bout A Sharp-Dressed Man

We are off to the beach for a whirlwind adventure this week, so I will be in a no-blog zone until Saturday. While you are pining for me, contemplate this: why will Max never wear his own hats under any circumstances, but always, always try on Maggie's hats when they are left lying around? Like many things Max does, this is a mystery to me. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Am Not A Big Believer In Auras, And Here Is Why:

The other morning, I was at the grocery store with Max and Maggie. It was about two degrees hotter than the sun outside, so I was trying to get finished quickly and get home before it got any hotter. Maggie was seated in that little seat that they have in the front of grocery carts, and Max was walking alongside me, because he is a self-declared Big Boy, and mustn't suffer the indignity of riding in the cart any more. Max was trying to talk me into buying more milk, and I was trying to resist his sales pitch, when Maggie suddenly started BELLOWING. The earth shook, people. I looked over and saw that she had somehow worked her leg out of the grocery cart leg hole and into a much smaller space between two of the bars of the cart, where her foot was now stuck. As luck would have it, a trembly, tiny little old lady happened to be walking by right as all of this hit the fan, and I spent a purgatorial five minutes simultaneously trying to soothe Maggie, wrestle her fleshy little ankle out of the grocery cart, stop Max from piling milk cartons and other dairy products in the aisle for my consideration ("Look, Mama! Green milk! We need that kind, I think! Look, Mama! Pink milk! I better choose some of that! Oh, see, Mama, we need yogurt!"), and reassure the little old lady, who palsied her way around our cart in nervous circles, wringing her hands and chanting at me, "Oh, no! The poor baby! Should I get the manager? How did it happen? Can you get it out? Should I find some help? Oh, no, oh, dear!" and etc. Maggie was making a lot of noise, and no one likes to see a baby in distress, but seriously? You would think that this woman was at the scene of a forty-car pile up with carnage everywhere. And what the hell is a grocery store manager going to do to free Maggie that I wasn't already doing? Do they keep the Jaws of Life in the back, in case of grocery cart-ankle-related emergencies? And if so, they need to really consider redesigning their grocery carts.
Anyhoo, I untangled Maggie eventually, although she blamed the grocery cart (unfairly, I think. I mean who wedged her foot in the too-small hole?)and insisted on being carried for the rest of the trip, so that she could yell directly into my ear and thus share her displeasure with me with no cart separating us. I shook off the little old lady (who is probably telling all her little old friends about the horrific baby-crippling she witnessed and her own heroic role in the proceedings as we speak), and I unburied Max from the dairy section. I then decided that we had earned a smoothie (the deli at our grocery store sells these all-fruit frozen smoothies, and Max would walk through fire for them). I got Max a smoothie, a bagel for Max and Maggie to share, and a giant coffee for myself. With a shot of whiskey. (I am, of course, kidding about the whiskey. I would never drink whiskey in the middle of the day when I had children in my care. Also they don't sell whiskey at the deli counter of the grocery store.) I had to put Maggie back in the grocery seat in order to put milk in my coffee, and she put up with it, grudgingly, because she had a bagel to gnaw. As we were wheeling ourselves on out, I was waylaid by a middle-aged woman with very long white hair, dressed, it appeared, entirely in strategically knotted flowy scarves in a variety of colors. She was Davis, personified.
"Your children are lovely," she breathed at me. "Your daughter has such a golden, mellow aura about her. She must be a very peaceful person to have around."
I tried to find the nervous little old lady, so that I could have a witness to back up the hearty and sarcastic "HA!" that I uttered, but she had disappeared.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I, Robot

Max designed this robot head himself. The eyeholes don't quite line up with his real eyes, giving his robot head an askew, hollow-eyed appearance, and the mouth is so wide open with robotic glee that you can see the pulse in Max's neck vibrating through it. It is actually quite terrifying.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Like I Said, Not A Sentimentalist

Max to Mama: Mama, I'm hunting for treasure.
Mama: Really? Are you having any luck?
Max: But I am not having any luck. I need some treasure, Mama.
Mama: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Max: Do you have any treasure, Mama?
Mama: I have two treasures: Max and Maggie.
Max: Oh, come on, Man!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Are we celebrating the long weekend with a barbecue, fireworks, good friends, and the avoidance of Santa Bell? Nope. That would be fun, sure, but not very original, and we at Casa de Tillman are nothing if not original. No, we are whooping it up this Fourth of July with a fever (Maggie), no sleep for two nights (Chelsa, Maggie, and Ian), and vast quantities of coffee (Chelsa and Ian). The kids are, as you can see, dressed with a nod to the flag's colors, and we are having hot dogs for dinner, but that is about as far as my patriotism extends, especially since I am not actually, you know, an American. Maggie is the worst possible kind of sick -- she is fussy and hot like the sun at intervals, but she has no other discernible symptoms, so as soon as we get the fever down with Tylenol/cool baths, she becomes irrepressibly lively, which then drags the fever back up, and so on. At least one of us, as I just informed her grimly over my fourth cup of coffee, is taking a very long nap today if heaven and earth has to move to make it happen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Auntie Aly!!!

We miss you terribly.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!!

Yes, non-Canadians, there is such a thing as Canada Day.