Friday, August 29, 2008

So, About That Disneyland ...

Wow. It's been twenty million years, hasn't it? I don't even have a coherent excuse to offer, either. Disneyland was tiring, we are gearing up for a new school year, both for me as a teacher and for Max as (stifled sob) a new student. Plus, and I say this with love, Max has had some 'tude lately. A full time job's worth. With unpaid overtime. It recently occurred to him that he will only be two for a couple more weeks, and he has an entire year's worth of Terrible Twos to pack into those weeks. But anyway. Disneyland! The epic Tillman Adventure!

Our friend Mike, who loves Disneyland, looked at our pictures from our trip eagerly, and then, much less eagerly, said, "But there are no pictures of Disneyland. These are just a bunch of pictures of you guys standing around." It's not entirely true -- we got some pictures of the kids going on rides, or in front of Disney-ish scenery, and my in-laws have since sent me some of their pictures, filling in some of the gaps. But it is true that I didn't get as many pictures as I hoped, and that a lot of the ones that I did get don't really show the Disneyland setting off to full advantage. But when you are travelling with four children under the age of three, and you are in a really crowded and stimulating environment, it turns out that you are very, very maniacally busy, and you have both hands full a lot of the time. And both feet. And the moments when you have the camera and the ability to use it are the moments when you are sitting and eating lunch, or sleeping in the hotel room, or doing other things that are taking place in Disneyland but look like they could be taking place anywhere. Therefore, to set the scene, I am starting with this picture of Maggie showing off some Disney merchandise.

Maggie's love of her cousin Sophia was not diminished by three days of togetherness. There were drooly kisses, baby-babble conversations, and much mutual gazing.

Max and Joey were extremely excited to see each other (sorry about the blurriness, but as usual, the boys they do not stay still for God or anyone). They got along beautifully for about 86% of the trip, even with the irritants of no sleep, crazy over stimulation, and hot temperatures. By the last day, they were getting slightly snarky, and we learned at some personal cost for everyone that it was no longer advisable to put them in the double stroller together by the afternoon of Day 3. Still, though, Disneyland is a lot of excitement and stress for a young person, and I think that their cousinly bond held up remarkably well for a remarkably long time.

I think that this was the sort of picture that caused Mike to complain, and truly, there is not much to demonstrate that we are not just standing in a crowded train station somewhere. We were watching the pixar parade. I look cheerful, but I was actually in terrible pain. Max is heavy, and he was off-center because he was more interested in getting a good view than in sparing my neck, and he was pulling on my hair. I suffer for love, people.

I have a picture of my sister and I on the Dumbo ride from when we were little, and I was really hoping to get a shot of Max and I on the same ride. Sadly, we took Max on a traumatizingly scary ride on our first evening, and after that it was very difficult to persuade him to trust us and go on any rides at all. (Pirates of the Caribbean, and I know, you're thinking well, duh! Why would you even consider taking a three year old on that ride late at night? but I haven't been to Disneyland since I was seven, and I think I got the Pirates ride sort of mixed up with the Fairytale Town ride, and so I thought it was a much more jolly and lighthearted romp, and then about three seconds into the ride I saw the skeletons and the cannons and the fricking Davy Jones ghost and I realized that I was laying the foundation for my poor son to have life-long night-terrors, but by then it was too late, and all I could do was chant, "it's not real, they're just pretend, see, it's like a movie, don't worry, ha ha, it's just a funny pretend movie, see?" while Max clung to Ian and I and his eyes got saucer-like.) So Joey went on Dumbo while Max observed him with detached interest. This is the stationary Dumbo, which is climbable but not part of the ride, and which Max did condescend to pose in.

Yep, Stationary Dumbo. We live right on the edge, folks. Right on the edge.

Ian persuaded Max to help him try to take Excalibur out of the stone. Neither of them could remove the sword, so our whole 'king of all Britain' plan is basically shot. Nuts.

See how we all have matching shirts? I hope you do see, because I think this is the only picture of all of us in our shirts. Mighty cute as we are, the shirts were of this heavy, not-very breathable cotton, and it was super hot in Disneyland, so we all wore them for 1/3 of one morning. There were matching hats, too, seen as modelled by Maggie in shot #1, but the heat and the fact that I have big hair that was poorly and unattractively corralled by the hat forced the hat to cancel its appearance in this picture. It also occurs to me that this is another one of those pictures that Mike complained about. You have only my word for it that we are in Disneyland at all, and not in any crowded shopping mall courtyard. But who roams around in matching Disney shirts like a band of weirdoes anywhere but Disneyland? Lots of people, probably. Sigh.

Ian's parents bravely offered to watch all four grandchildren so that Ian, Jean, Josh and I could go on the California Adventure ride. The ride was really neat -- you fly over scenic parts of California, which sounds stupid when I write it out like that, but it's cool -- you really feel like you're flying over the ocean and the mountains and the vineyards, and they blow pine scents or ocean scents or citrus scents at you while you fly, to match the scenery. Max started crying when I left, which I mercifully didn't know until later. My sister-in-law took this picture, and what amuses me is how everyone is smiling and/or indifferently eating puffs except Max, who is red with rage. Apparently he recovered a few minutes later, and watched the Electric Light Parade with Phil and Elaine, but when I returned from the ride, he said very reproachfully, "I was CRYING, Mama. You were lost, and I was crying 'Mama! Mama!' like that but you were lost." Guilt-tripper.

Joey met Mickey Mouse, and got his picture taken hugging Mickey. Max decided that, when dealing with freaks with giant mouse heads, discretion is the better part of valour, and opted to stare incredulously at Mickey from the sidelines, instead.

Although he was reluctant to go on any ride with Ian or I after the Pirates debacle, Max did agree to go on the Autopia ride. Twice. I think that technically, people his size are not supposed to man the wheel of the ride, but Max was smuggled into the driver's seat once the proper authorities were out of sight.

Max and Grandpa take on the teacups.

This is one of three or four shots I have of Max sleeping, in various locations in or around Disneyland. It has taken us this long and counting to get back to any kind of normal routine. I am not kidding. When we got home from the airport on Saturday night, we changed Max's diaper, wiped his face, put on his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and put him in bed, and not only did he not wake up, but he didn't even twitch.

Maggie liked the people-watching at Disneyland, and the fried chicken, and she loved the three days of uninterrupted Sophia time. She got frustrated by how seldom she was allowed to walk around, though, and she was overwhelmed by the crowds and the lights and the fireworks and the heat, so she clung to me like a very heavy barnacle for much of the trip. She has been coping with the vacation hangover by going on a food strike, and deciding that the time in her life when she nursed constantly all day and all night was a good period and should be revisited. We are finally getting back into a solid food eating, sleeping at night life, for which I am profoundly grateful.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Disneyland '08. Next up will be Max's first day at school (without me there), and also his birthday party, which is going to have a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom theme and which is going to be the event of the season. Anticipate the pictures amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Which Ian Is Forced To Disembowel A Plush Toy In The Dead Of Night

Yeah, yeah, Disneyland. It's coming. Last night's tale of epic toy bug-slaying adventure takes precedence, though, because it is humorous. (To me. Ian found it somewhat less funny, even going so far as to accuse me of a lack of respect for the severity of the situation, but his sense of humor goes to bed earlier than the rest of him.)

Yesterday, Maggie had to have a round of vaccinations, and being fresh off of vacation, Ian was unable to take time off to accompany me to the doctor. Gallantly, but with a sense of dread weighing down my heart, I rounded up the offspring, took them to the doctor, and presented Maggie's chubby dimpled thighs for needling. I was anticipating all hell breaking loose -- Maggie crying about being poked, Max crying because he witnessed the poking, me crying because my life has somehow escaped the boundaries of my control, and then all of us spending the rest of the day crying because once you've gotten started down that path, you might as well keep walking. Much to my surprise, however, the appointment actually went off without a hitch. Maggie cried during the actual shots, but was quickly and easily comforted. Max was fine with Maggie getting shots, once he had reassured himself and everyone around him that he was not next in line for a needling. Maggie slept more than usual throughout the day, but she never developed a fever or soreness. I sent a breezy, self-congratulatory email to Ian, expressing my surprised delight at the smoothness of it all. Ian came home, we ate dinner, we got ready for bed. I cheerfully reminded myself not to be so pessimistic in future endeavours.

Here is where you should insert the ominous music into the movie of my life, the music that means that a sinister shadow is stalking our oblivious heroine.

Maggie developed a slight fever just before bed, which was quickly squelched by a dose of Tylenol. She went to sleep peacefully, slept angelically for about three hours, and then began fussing. I attempted the usual soothing techniques. Fussing escalated to squawking. Squawking quickly became yowling, at which point it occurred to me that Maggie was hot like the sun. I took her out to the living room, gave her more Tylenol, and watched the Muppet show with her while we waited for the fever to subside. It took a very long time. We staggered back to bed at a million o' clock, a.m., I closed my eyes, and that is when, from somewhere in the vicinity of the living room, I began hearing a very strange sound.
"What the hell is that noise?" I asked loudly. Ian muttered something about how the only thing he could hear was me. But then it came again, "YYYYYYYEEEEEeeeeeeeeaaaaaaa". A sort of high pitched, mechanical-sounding whine, just loud enough to make it difficult to ignore. Ian thought it was the air conditioner. I didn't think so. Ian thought he could go back to sleep in spite of it. I didn't think so. Ian thought I was keeping him awake unnecessarily. I disagreed. Finally, after much lively discussion, I remembered that I had accidentally thrown a stuffed bug, the kind that makes a sound when you squeeze it, into the washing machine with a load of laundry that afternoon. I further remembered that the bug had been known to make a sound very similar to the one we were now hearing. Unfortunately, I did not remember exactly where I had chucked the bug after discovering its presence in the load of laundry. Even more unfortunately, Maggie was sleeping nestled against me, so Bug Battle '08 had to be delegated to Ian. It took Ian a long and grumbling while to find the bug, which continued to let out increasingly warped and forlorn buzzing sounds at irregular intervals. And then, of course, there was the question of what to do with the Godforsaken thing once it was found. From the comfort of the bedroom, I heard Ian swearing in a low and heartfelt monotone. I heard several gruesome ripping and scraping sounds. The mechanical buzzing increased in volume and urgency until it was a veritable chorus of the damned. Then it petered out into silence. There was a thud from the vicinity of the kitchen. Ian got back into bed.
"So, you found it then?" I queried timidly.
"Oh, its dead now", said Ian grimly. I laughed. Ian did not.
In the morning, when I had made my decidedly unrested way into the kitchen, I beheld the aftermath of the massacre, which I have now shared with you all. I would have included the voice box, which Ian apparently ripped out of its downy innards, but it was too crushed and grisly, and this is a family blog. RIP, Small Plush Bug. Via con dios.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Which I Wish My Sister Much Joy

My sister Jillian is getting married today. Every part of me wishes I could be there to see it happen, even the parts that are worn to a ragged nub by Disneyland. Jillian and Tom, I love you so very much, and I wish you every kind of happiness that exists and is in my power to wish. Enjoy your wedding day, and every day that comes after.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Nine years ago today, Ian and I agreed to spend the rest of our lives together. Formally. The actual decision to spend our lives together, if in fact we decided it at all rather than simply accepting the foreordained, probably took place shortly after we met, somewhere around 1993. Ian, sans vous, je ne suis rien. I love you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random But Hopefully Useful Pieces Of Information

Thanks, Everyone, for the birthday love! I had a really awesome birthday, and the usual post-birthday let-down has been completely abated by the fact that we are leaving for Disneyland tomorrow morning, so I am a happy 31 year old. Ian made breakfast for me yesterday, I worked at the preschool in the 100 degree heat (no, thank you, Global Warming), and then my parents babysat while Ian and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours. Between us, our friends and we (can that possibly be grammatically correct? and is that even how you spell grammatically? Is grammatically even a word? Help.) have 6.5 children, so this was our first childless dinner together (not counting the fetus, who sort of goes wherever his mom goes right now) in years and years. And it was great fun. My friends brought me flowers, and then this old man at the next table asked why, and then he insisted on leading the entire restaurant in an extraordinarily loud round of "Happy Birthday". It was weird and embarrassing, but also sort of friendly, but possibly slightly more embarrassing than it was friendly.
Anyway, we are leaving for Disneyland in the morning, so we will once again be outside the blogosphere for awhile. Fret not, however, but be of good cheer. This is our last trip for the foreseeable future, and there will be cute pictures of frolicking cousins to look forward to, and we have a list provided by Godfather Mike of Disneyland must-sees, so our trip will be comprehensive. Plus, tomorrow is Ian and my 9th anniversary, and I have provided a small slide show for your viewing pleasure. Seeya on the flip side.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Chelsa

It's Chelsa's Birthday today. Chelsa is a great writer. I am not a great writer. I will simply say that the two days this year that we spent apart were the longest days of my life. Even when I am feeling down, I can look at Chelsa and think "at least I have an awesome wife who seems to be fond of me". That makes me smile.

Also, check out this vintage picture of Chelsa from Granny's facebook page. Doesn't she look familiar?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This Little Piggy Went To Market

Hi there! I emerge from the woodwork, scarred and utterly beaten in both body and spirit, to bring you the following tragic news: Maggie has learned to open the baby gate into the kitchen, climb into the computer chair, and stand up in her high chair. I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that my life as I have always known it is essentially over.

In happier news, it was Pig Week at the preschool last week, and the whole family got in on the action. And by the whole family, I mean that Max, Maggie and I frolicked in the mud, and Ian stood waaaaayyy back on the sidelines and took pictures. Grudgingly. Max was initially wary of the mud, too, especially since it was a surprisingly cool week, weather-wise.

But my genes, at least the ones that love the mud, prevailed, and Max let the oh so dirty good times roll.

Pig Week, by the way, is a week in the summer where the school does pig and mud-related art projects, sings pig and mud-related songs, reads pig and mud-related books, and most importantly, spends the entire week in a giant mud puddle. It is not yet a nationally recognized holiday, but I'm working on it.

I was curious which way Maggie would vote on the mud question. She loves baths but hates swimming pools. She likes sand but hates grass. Her opinions, in other words, are both absolute and arbitrary. She was quite anti-mud at first, and kept asking to be picked up and making the baby sign for "shoes". (I had removed her shoes so that they wouldn't get muddy, and she loves her shoes a lot. Remind me to post pictures sometime of Maggie wearing nothing but a diaper and three pairs of shoes. It's her one really girly thing.)

By the second day of Pig Week, Maggie became intrigued. A whole gang of four-year-old girls took her under their wings, and brought her buckets and sand toys. Eventually, Maggie made herself a place on the fringes of the puddle and held court there.

What? You thought I was only there for the kids?

Good, good times. And now, I have a whole year to figure out how to trick Ian into going in the puddle for Pig Week '09. Could there be a better family photo opportunity? Of course not.

Friday, August 01, 2008