Saturday, January 20, 2018

Family Band

Well, not a day passes in the Rowe household without one of Madeleine's creative ideas coming to life.  Today, she has formed a new family band: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  True to its name, the band is made up of instruments created with recycled materials, to be played by members of the Rowe household.

Behold, the mini-trumpet:

Made from a toilet paper tube and an empty Icebreakers container, this trumpet is sure to produce a unique sound!

Next up is Ethan's guitar:
This one is made of construction paper and string, and the bottle cap serves an important purpose.

MADELEINE: Oh, that's the chip!
ME: You mean the pick?

Madeleine's own instruments are finger cymbals:

I don't even know what old game pieces or tokens Madeleine used, but whatever they are, they are now serving their purpose, along with painters tape, in percussive form.

Auntie Shannon got a clarinet:
This one is made out of TWO kinds of tubes: a paper towel role AND a toilet paper tube, plus an empty water bottle.  Not sure what function the piece of paper serves, but it is obviously an important part of the contraption.

Finally, Julia gets this amazing microphone:
Why *not* sing into a water bottle?  The days of using a microphone to project one's voice are over.  What a cool effect it will produce when one sings INTO a closed bottle!

Oh, and how could I forget my own role??  I'm the conductor, and here is my super amazing conductor's baton:

Take a pen and a pencil, some painter's tape, and a sticker from a piece of fruit, and you can't go wrong.

Want to hear Reduce, Reduce, Recycle in action??  Here they are, folks!:  (This is like the sixth video attempt or so, because everybody's instruments kept breaking or losing parts)

I don't know about you, but I think that went perfectly!

Friday, January 19, 2018

MLK Jr. Project

Madeleine came home from school with her Martin Luther King, Jr. project that she had completed in class.  I am definitely loving every facet of it!

First of all, there is her list:

Write a list of things that would make the world a better place

1) Help my auntie at her lab
2) Go to the beach to pick up litter
3) Try harder to keep my temper down

Move over, Auntie Shannon, and make space at your lab desk for Madeleine!  The newest microbiologist in town is ready to join your cancer treatment research team!  And I suppose picking up litter around town is a little too bland to be world-changing, so Madeleine is headed to the beach to start clearing the sand and water of junk!  Finally, I like that Madeleine appreciates that changing the world can begin on a micro level.  The act of one 8-year-old keeping her own temper down can reverberate throughout the entire world!  (And though I say this tongue-in-cheek, I do in fact believe that each person on earth putting his or her best self forward can make a world of difference!)

Then we have Madeleine's illustration of peace:

It appears to be two hands reaching towards each other, then high fiving, then rotating around in confusing directions.

And Madeleine's illustration of "no peace":

Here we have headless and legless torsos shoving each other, or bro-smacking each other on the chest, not sure which.  Definitely no peace for those without heads or legs.

Last, we have a lovely illustration of Madeleine achieving one of her aforementioned goals towards making the world a better place:

"Picking up litter at the beach."

Awww!  Look!  The turtle is thanking her - and proclaiming that they are saved.  I am all for this idea, Madeleine, not only because it saves the earth, but it opens the door for sea animals to start speaking English!  What could be cooler than that double whammy?

I am proud to see that Madeleine has goals not only for the short term, like controlling her temper, but she has her sights set on a future in saving lives as well!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Math Matician

Ethan got to be the guinea pig today, the first to play Madeleine's new "board" game along with her.  I'm still not 100% sure on the rules of the game, but I did video a bit of the end of their first play-through to get some sense of how it works.  And if you, like me, can't quite follow how the game is played, you can at least get some enjoyment out of Madeleine's ponytail extension, hand-made flower lei, and wildly colorful and patterned outfit:

Madeleine even put her new game into a box and marked it with important information.  Pay no attention to the big picture of a CD player on the box: Madeleine gets props for using recycled material to carry her game pieces in:

If you want a chance to play Math Matician (aka Mile Pool), just let the game creator know!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Game

I just can't even wait to see how you play this game that Madeleine is making:

I just have so many questions already.  What the heck to chipmunks have to do with a Mile Pool?  Let alone an Evil Red-Orange Terrorizing Fox?  Are the little crumpled pieces of paper with smiley faces the game board pieces, or do they serve some other kind of interesting function??

I will keep you posted once I get a chance to give this game a whirl with my own Energizing Chipmunks.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Swim Meet

The girls had a swim meet in New Hampshire today, so we Rowes headed north right after lunch.  Ethan mistakenly took an early exit in Nashua, and I used the opportunity to have him stop at a gas station so I could use the bathroom.  It was smooth sailing to the meet once we got back on track and we made it to the meet in plenty of time.

The meet and aftermath were a demonstration of both competence and incompetence on the part of our girls.


-Julia's relay not only came in first place, but they dropped three seconds off their best time.
-Madeleine qualified for District Championships in yet another event, the 25 yard backstroke
-Julia took a whopping 6 seconds off her time for the 200 IM and dropped a second off of her 100 butterfly time.
-Madeleine had a solid performance in the 25 yard butterfly, finishing in the top 3


-Julia insisted on coming up into the bleachers with her big fat swim bag clocking people in the heads because she thought she needed me to ask me to come help her take a shower in the locker room.  (ETHAN: Use your intelligence.  You can do this on your own.  JULIA: But what if I can't figure out how to turn the shower on?!?  ETHAN: Again, use your intelligence.)
-Julia also forgot to pack underwear so she had to put her wet swimsuit back on after her shower.
-This conversation with Madeleine as we prepared to leave the swim meet:
MADELEINE: Mommy?  You know that gas station we stopped at on the way here where you went to the bathroom?
ME: Yeah?
MADELEINE: I was wondering if we can stop there on the way home, because I have to go to the bathroom.
ME: Um...why don't you just go to the bathroom here?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Oh!  Okay!
-The goldfish situation:
Madeleine refused to use a certain shower because there was a goldfish in it.  I had no idea what she was talking about, until we got home and had a discussion at the dinner table.
JULIA: I had my Goldfish for a second snack after I was done swimming.  But the last three got soggy, so I had to throw them away.
ETHAN: Why did they get soggy?
JULIA: Because I was eating them in the shower!
ETHAN AND I: You eat in the shower?!?
JULIA: Yeah!  I like eating in the shower!  But I dropped a few Goldfish, so I just kicked them into another shower.

But, hey, at least they scored points for the team, right?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Spelling Word Sentences

Part of Madeleine's homework last night was to write sentences using her spelling words.  She sure didn't phone it in.

Shall we have cereal for breakfast?

I'm all done folding my laundry, Mom!

I often find Mr. Chang very strange.

Luciana played well on her foghorn in the concert.

"You were great!" Chelsea remarked coolly.

Alexandria was wearing a beautiful, long tight scarlet dress.

"This is very important business!" the governer scolded.

"It's gonna be rainy today," forecast Manager James explained.

"Whatever you do, do NOT discard that bonnet." Emily's mom scolded flatly.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an AMAZING American roll model!

Okay.  I guess Madeleine doesn't know that a foghorn is not a band instrument.  But, wow, props to Luciana for figuring out how to "play" one in a concert!  Also, who ever knew there's not just weather forecasters but a forecast MANAGER to boot?!  And finally, what is the deal with Chelsea?  Isn't it kind of an oxymoronic compliment if you give that compliment coolly?  I mean,  without reading past the quotation marks, I am tempted to imagine Chelsea remarking *warmly,* but apparently not.  At least she's not scolding her daughter flatly about discarding her bonnet.  Come on, Emily's mom.  Put a LITTLE feeling into your scolding.  Seriously, sheesh, how do you expect Emily not to discard her bonnet if you're gonna give her such lifeless instructions?  Get it together.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Well, we had ourselves a real Monday of a Monday this week.  Thrown back into the full routine after having only a few days of school last week,  (thanks to the holiday and the blizzard) and coming full off of an extremely busy and hectic weekend, it was full steam ahead whether we liked it or not.

I myself had an exhausting day at work, and the kids decided to challenge my patience just a little more once school got out.  When I arrived to pick them up to go home, Madeleine had other plans.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  I have to go over there to work on something with Lousy.  We're making a SECRET HANDSHAKE!
ME: Well, you have a few minutes, but as soon as Julia comes out of school we have to leave.  I've got a piano lesson to teach.
MADELEINE: (running off to find Lousy without acknowledging she'd heard me)

Meanwhile, a friend of mine had brought something for me, a hand-me-down coat for Julia, and had it in her van, parked by the back path to the school.  She offered to have me walk with her to the van and grab the coat as we all headed home.  When Julia appeared out of the school door, I called to Madeleine, who was off in the snow with Lousy.

ME: Madeleine!  We need to go, right now!
ME: No, now!

I began walking with Julia down the back path, turning every so often to see if Madeleine was following.  She was not.

JULIA: Mommy!  We need to wait for Madeleine!
ME: Honey, she's going to have to catch up to us, because I have to go grab the coat Sadie's giving you.
JULIA: But Mommy!  She won't know where we are!
ME: I told her we were leaving so she should know we're on the path (craning my head to see if Madeleine was coming.  She was not.)
JULIA: (stopping in her tracks) I'm gonna wait for Madeleine.
ME: Okay, fine, but let me go grab that coat.

After I had secured the coat, I turned around to look for my children.  It took some time before they finally appeared up the path, and Madeleine grasped me like she had lost me forever, tears in her eyes and streaks on her face.

ME: What's the matter, honey?
MADELEINE: I couldn't FIND you.

I wonder why that is, Madeleine.

As we approached our house and I planned to quickly get the kids settled with snacks before my sitter came, I mentioned to Julia that the results were in from the weekend's swim meet.

ME: There was one mistake, I think, though.  They recorded your breast stroke time as a 43 instead of 42, probably because it's hard to read the penciled-in handwriting of the timers.


Next thing I know, she was a heap on the kitchen floor, sobbing hysterically, while Madeleine announced, "I need to POOOOP!" and headed off to the bathroom.  My sitter arrived to find Julia and I together on the kitchen floor as I tried to console her over the disastrous one second error in the time results, and I had to leave for my piano lessons before things could fully resolve.  Luckily, the sitter had brought Christmas gifts for the kids, including a new pair of super fluffy slippers for Madeleine, so that helped distract from the afternoon's various crises.

When I arrived home from work, things seemed calm, and the girls were in better moods.  Julia went off to her room to practice her flute, and Madeleine did some reading for school.  After Julia had finished practicing, she joined us in the living room, where Madeleine was practicing the piano.  Madeleine played through the Arabian dance from the Nutcracker, and logically decided the next step was to perform an ad hoc song and dance routine for Julia and I. 

MADELEINE: Araaaaabia, I looooove you..... (twirling and carthwheeling around, wiping out multiple times thanks to the slippery fluffy slppers)
JULIA: Do we have to watch the whole thing, Madeleine?
MADELEINE: Araaaabia, oh Araaabia - (face planting and nearly hitting her head on the fireplace)
ME: Madeleine.  You have to stop flailing around because you almost hit the fireplace!
MADELEINE: Araaaaabia, oh Araaaaaabia, I looooove you - (turning to Julia and whispering) Get your kazoo from your flute case!
MADELEINE: Araaaaabia... (running off into Julia's bedroom)

Julia and I foolishly assumed the performance was over, so we moved into the dining room, when suddenly I heard the sound of a body hitting the ground, followed by the clatter of what I was really afraid was pieces of a flute falling onto the hardwood floor.  

I was correct in what I heard.  Madeleine had run to get Julia's flute case to secure the kazoo for her totally amazing and graceful performance, and had slipped YET AGAIN in the fluffy slippers, hitting the ground so hard the flute case popped open and sections of flute scattered around the living room.  I put the flute together and had Julia try playing to make sure nothing was broken.

The F# key was broken.

Julia burst yet again into hysterical tears, while Madeleine declared, "No one should ever love me.  I have to go into my room for the rest of my life" and went into her bedroom.

Big, big, biiiiiig deep breath to muster every ounce of calm I had left.

I brought Julia's flute to the town music store for repairs and had a long talk with Madeleine about how she had now learned that one must be extremely gentle with musical instruments and she is never ever ever to touch another person's instrument without consent.  The girls were both full of remorse towards the other; Madeleine, for breaking Julia's flute and causing her sister such heartbreak, and Julia for seeing Madeleine so guilty and torn up.  Everyone is friends again.  The flute is still in the shop but I have been assured I can get a rental if it's not fixed in time for band.  I am hanging on to every last thread of patience and hoping there are no more surprise issues for the rest of the week.  Maybe, if I'm reeeeeally lucky, I might even get to the weekend without anymore surprise performances I have to sit through, either!