Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Max-Pan Alley

Three of the few constants 'round these parts are: 1. Pancakes, 2. Music and 3. Reading. Today the seemingly disparate topics came together and the result was, of course, high comedy.

Lately, Max has been turning pretty much anything he picks up into a guitar. This happened after Aurelio was over and, while Some Girls was cranked on the stereo, he jumped from couch to couch, air guitar-ing, while Max (as usual) watched in awe. So now, Max'll pick up any toy: a pillow; a stick, start strumming it and say, "Guitar! Max playing guitar!"

Just before the time Miles was to arrive, we got a book for Max about being a big brother. One of the key pages in the book, titled appropriately enough "I'm a Big Brother Now!", talks about how the baby is "too little to walk, too little to talk, to little to eat pizza, apples or ice cream". Establishing how cool it is to be big and a brother because, duh, you can do these things.

So today, after a hearty breakfast of five bites of pancake, the family was chillin' on the living room floor. Miles sucking on a lego, Mom watching, Max being random while Dad was cleaning up the kitchen (a little and poorly).

"Dad, come in here," I hear Katie say.

I walk in and there's Max, standing in front of Miles and Mommy, holding a torn pancake to his chest, strumming away wildly.

"Max, what's the song you were singing to Miles?"

Max gives the pancake a strum and belts out in his breathy, two year-old falsetto: "Miiiilllllless! Toooo liiitllle toooo waaaaalk! Tooooo liitllllle tooooooo taaaaaaalk!" (Out of breath now) "Miles! Toooo little toooo ice creeeeaaammm!"

Just when you thought it couldn't get any cuter or funnier, the boy pauses in his strumming and nonchalantly reaches down, rips off a chunk of pancake and stuffs it in his mouth.

My son. My hero, the eating musician who loves his brother.

Comfortable with his Masculinity

"Yes. Yes, I am wearing lipstick. What are you gonna do about it?"

He got into Katie's purse on his own but, considering how much she wants a little girl, I'm betting this was a set-up from the get-go: "Max, I just put Mommy's purse there, on the floor. I have some lovely shades of lipstick in there. Please don't be all cute and pretend to put them on your face. I'm just going to walk into the other room now. Be good!"

It was like letting Curious George loose in the banana factory.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trouble be Doubled

Mad props are due to Grandpa TR and Grandma Sylvia. They ponied up for the Porsche of baby joggers. You grip the handle bar on this thing and a little voice whispers in your ear: "Ruunnn with meeee!" I assume the voice in your head would be different once there's 45 pounds of babies loaded up in there. Something along the lines of "What the F was I thinking? Jogging with babies?!"

No worries, though, it shan't be me thinking those thoughty thoughts as I'm not the coo-coo bird that jogs in this house. That would be Mommy. The most exercise I've gotten in the last two years is how ever many calories you burn while staring longingly at road bikes while you iron clothes for work.

Whatever the case, the jogger has made Katie very happy. Max likes to run around it; Miles likes to sit in it; and neighbor dog, Lucy, likes to scratch herself near it. So, thanks to Pop-Pop and Gange!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where's my Balabuska!??!

The game of pool has wound some weird, clackity-clack thread into the life of Max. Some of my earliest memories are of wandering around Stu's, the bar at the crossroads near my Uncle's house in Wisconsin. Stu's was the hub of activity 'round those parts for everything from turtle races to posting deer hunting stats. My Dad and Uncle Bill would sidle up the bar, forget they had kids and the barmaids would pump quarters into the pool tables so that the shorties could bounce balls around on the table. Too short for sticks, we'd just bounce balls around with our hands until they were sunk. Stu's also had one of those awesome bowling games where you'd slide a puck at actual pins down a mini lane. That was when I realized getting quarters off the old man was like getting blood from a stone, regardless of Blatz consumed.

Something about the table has always drawn me in: the felt, the sticks, the geometry. In college, before we were legal, many a night was passed in the basement of the union with cue in hand. Then, after close, we'd move to the basement of our dorm. My first Christmas break from college was spent in the rec room at my Grandma's condo playing pool by myself or whoever happened in. CNN on the TV and snow whizzing past the 15th floor windows. Later, a gang of us ceramics freaks would drink and shoot stick after an evening clay class. The same gang was super-impressed by said grandmother's lake cabin, replete with a table within falling distance of a fridge. We spent a week, half-naked in a heat wave, kicking each other's asses. Katie and I partly fell in love playing loads of eight-ball.

Pool, I guess, has always meant family and romance to me. So here's Max, really, really loving the game while we visit Smokey at the long-gone Alzheimer's floor. Perfect 'cause, if not for Smoke, there'd be no hippie Uncle in the boonies of Wisconsin and no fabulous cabin up Nort'. It kind of felt like sinning, letting the kid up on the table like this. Hopefully, by the time he has to face Fast Eddie Felson, he'll be broken of that habit.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stepping on a Lego in the Dark

If you were to ask my Dad about our childhood, about all the great memories from our days of youth: the games of "catch"; the Saturday mornings spent laughing together at Bugs Bunny, et al; unloading a trailer of hay bales for my sister's stupid horse, Toby, in the late September heat and Dad hitting his head on the door frame because we were standing in the trailer, throwing bales, and his head going all "I'm in the WWF and I just got hit in the head with a folding chair".

Woah, woah! Now why is that page starred as "good day" in my journal? Oh, ha-ha, yes. It is because, right after he hit his head, Dad said "stupid horse" right to my sister's face. Ok, that part is not true.

But, so, if you were to ask my Dad about his least favorite part of our childhood (aside from the pathological lying which, obviously, continues to this day) he would say the above words to you: "Stepping on a Lego in the Dark". I'm here to tell you that seeing the old man step on a Lego in the daytime was not a sign that you were going to have a good day, I'm assuming I've just blocked out the post "night of the Lego" days.

I think, though, that my Dad's trauma associated with the Legos has less to do with messy, irresponsible, ill-begotten, Lego-leaving-behind, punks (his words, not mine!) and more to do the absolutely and totally unfortunate decoration choices of the people who had our home before us. People who had re-decorated in the late Sixties/Early Seventies. People who liked shag carpet, blue, and dark wood paneling. Most offensive, had to be the living room shag which, if you look in your J. Crew color guide, could only be described as "puke". The Legos were like velociraptors, melding with their surroundings. Ready to jump under unsuspecting feet as they stomped by.

So there's your perfect storm: kids, Legos, and camouflaging shag.

Thankfully, Katie and I have slightly better taste in floor-coverings.

Photo note: I have no idea why we subscribe to Money Magazine as we have none and if we did, it would just get spent on shoes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Planning? Why Would You Think We're Planning Anything?

The fun is beginning. Within the last few days, Max and Miles have had interactions that have gone beyond: Miles playing (sucking on until hand and toy are slimy with spit)with toy in exersaucer/jump up/on floor. Max walks by. Max jerks toy away. Miles has a coniption. Max tosses toy back in Miles' general direction and continues on way.

Now we're getting conspiratorial looks and suspicious giggling. They're kind of in the "otter" phase of their relationship. Before long, they'll be lying on their backs, rocks in hand, cracking open crustaceans on their stomachs. We'd be more concerned if it weren't so damn cute. Also, most of this still ends with Max yanking a toy away from Miles and the accompanying coniption fit.

Who Knew?

In another lifetime, in a galaxy far, far away, I knew my hammocks. Well, actually, some Canadian dude knew a lot about hammocks and while we found ways to pass the time at our mega-hippie campground (this was years before they put in a pool, thank you very much) outside of the ruins at Palenque, he laid the knowledge on me. Lawrence! That was his name. One of those guys you run into while you're traveling in Mexico: bearded, wizened, and totally unencumbered by the realities of everyday life. He was like a Buddhist crossed with a teenager. He had what was basically the Cadillac Escalade of hammocks: a huge, finely woven number that could easily fit two people and - wait for it - was made from silk.

While I did end up spending a lot of time in my not-nearly-as-nice-as-Lawrence's hammock, I never had a reaction quite Miles does to hammock-topia. It must be the horse blanket.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Monday Morning, Everyone!

Per our policy not to discuss the boy named Miles, I can't say much more other than: Here is a picture, a picture of Miles, being his typical irrepressible self. Barred from saying anything too positive about the youngest one, I can tell you that, disturbingly, during this photo shoot, each time the camera pointed away from him, he started to fuss. Somehow, he can probably sense how out of balance the Max-to-Miles "gigs of jpegs" ratio is on our computer and he's trying to carve out some hard drive space for himself.

That or he's a ham. It couldn't be that, could it?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Wife is Amazing

This has been another edition of "My Wife is Amazing".

Monday, July 07, 2008

Miles Loves Hisself Some Toot Humor

I "joke" a fair amount about making sure these boys grow up to prosperous and healthy members of society, i.e: not like their ne'er-do-well, sell-out of a Father. Oh, and these people.

To combat the artistic tendencies with which they've been undoubtedly saddled, I've been leaving HVAC and Plumbing textbooks around in place of all the Eric Carle and Mo Willems books. They're not as colorful or funny, but they're much more edifying.

HowEVER, if turning them away from intellectual, aesthetic pursuits means I've got to sit through a real-life version of Idiocracy, I'm bringing the Art Theory books back out.

On a slightly related note, while Max, like his blogged about brethren, is not so much into all things Fourth of July-ish. It was an opportunity to teach Max how to say "blooow my miiiind!" very dramatically. As in: "These fireworks are going to blooow my miiiind" Then, after about the third explosion, Max's mind was, in fact, blown and I walked back to the car with a totally traumatized kid clinging to me. It took about 15 minutes to weave our way back through a minor throng of sparkler-wielding kids and parents while the big show kept going above us. Poor Max probably wasn't too impressed by my rescue skills. SWAT-Dad I am not.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Toe my Show! To Ma Shoe! Tomah Sho'!

My very first real job, gotten the summer of 1986, was bussing tables at the finest restaurant that Wahpeton, ND could offer: Kelly's Fine Dining. It was right down the road from the drive-in movie theatre, next door to the bowling alley and owned by a funny Greek guy named George, who ran the place with his inexplicably hot, young North Dakotan-born wife named, of course, Joy. Due to my lack of perspective, working there had been a dream of mine for a few years and so, there I was.

Even though my family had been going to Kelly's for years, when I first started working, I had no freaking idea what George was saying to me for the first couple of weeks. Interpreting George had additional points for difficulty: he pretty much had a mild case of Tourette's. So, basically, you're 16 years old, at a new, your first job, and your new boss comes up to you and gives you what sounds like an order in a crazy thick Greek accent all while snorting, adjusting his tie and swearing a couple of times.

It took a few months but, eventually, I came to understand George as if he spoke perfect English.

All these posts about Max talking get a new twist when we run into someone who doesn't spend as much time with the boy as we do. Which is pretty much everyone. Max says, quite clearly, to our neighbor, "Hi! Today, with my parents, I went in my mother's car, to see the excavators near Costco, where my Father works." What our neighbor hears is: "Ni-Ni! Aggle Flaggle Plaggle Snurp!!" Katie and I stand there with these proud looks on our faces. What a complex sentence! We look at our neighbor and she's standing there with a look that says, "Uh, what the F did your kid just say?"

He's our little Greek restaurateur, stuck in the wilds of Eastern North Dakota.

Here's a video of Max making absolutely no sense at all. It's some catch phrase that he's been repeating. And don't ask me how the mini kung fu ties in. He's headed for his own 36th chamber, I guess.

Friday, July 04, 2008

And I Shall Call Him "Brick"

Walks have become a pretty regular thing for the boy and I. On my days off, he'll propose, generally, that we go for a walk two or three times. So, a couple of times a day, we'll go traipsing off for some good old fashioned neighborhood recon.

Usually, we're doing important things like counting ants, checking sand-pile quality, observing that, yes, there is a guy going by on a motorcycle. This data must be recorded! And, truly, there are fewer things more idyllic than walking around with Max on my shoulders while he gets pumped about parked motorcycles, our long, early evening shadows tracking across the front and back yards of South Minneapolis.

The other day, heading home, Max was up on my shoulders when he started a little list:

"I Allie. I Mommy. I Kay."

"Max, what are you doing?"

"I Miles."

"Max, are you talking about people you love?"

"Yeah." ("Yeah" has now replaced "NnnnnnnN" as an affirmative response.)

"I 'ove Mommy. I 'ove Daddy." Ls are an issue for the boy.

"I 'ove big cars. I 'ove little cars. I 'ove plants."

I couldn't help but notice his list had gone a little off what we'd call charmingly cute and veered towards crazy love affair with the whole world.

"I 'ove tree. I 'ove guy." Now I see there's a dude crossing the street up ahead on the block.

"Max, are you just talking about all the stuff you see right now?"


Great. My kid is Brick Tamland

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wood Chips are the New Eleven

Max and the neighbor dog, Lucy have grown pretty close as the summer progresses. At first, when we'd pull up in the car, Max, before getting out of the car seat would query, "Lucy not outside?" Once it was confirmed that the offending Labrador was not outside, he would happily exclaim, "Lucy notoutside!" And comfortably trot to the house. All this, of course, was based on irrational kid-brain fear, as Lucy as never met a molecule she wouldn't lick and call a friend.

Now, every time Lucy is outside, she and Max share special moments through the chain-link fence that separates their yards. Max will hold his hand and giggle madly while Lucy licks it; Max will find a good chewing stick in our yard and pass it to Lucy; Max will turn to Frankie and ask, "Seriously, why can't you be fun like this?"

Recently, we've had Lucy over for a visit or two which culminate in Max screaming with absolute glee while Lucy tears around the yard, buzzing past Max in a full-tilt tear. "Lucy fast!" Max observes once he's caught his breath. Frankie tolerates all this with an occasional Grandpa Simpson-esque bark that says, "Whipper-snapper!!"

Here's Max trying to interest Lucy in an alternative to plain, old, boring just water.

Iggy Popsicle

If a guy wanted to rationalize why he had eased up on posting about his overwhelming cute kids, after you use up the "work" excuse, the next fall-back position is: "they're just so freaking cute. The blog-worthy events come so fast and so furiously, it's much like I once opined to a friend about the illegal and inane facets of the Bush Administration: "It's like counting snowflakes in a blizzard." Once you don't blog about Max refusing to wear sandals except with socks, old-man style, you might as well not blog about the other 400 things he does that blow your mind.

Lest we get waaaay off track, though, and we starting thinking more about the pretty Crayon doodles G-dub does on his construction paper while The Dickster jabs pins into his Voodoo doll labeled "humanity", let me remind you: THE POWER OF MY KIDS' CUTE WILL SAVE THE WORLD!!!

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