Friday, April 30, 2010

Pretend play and new skills

Yesterday while Julia was playing with her toy food in her play kitchen, she started putting the fruit into the refrigerator and organizing the various pieces into rows. She couldn't seem to find her red apple, and asked me repeatedly if I had seen it, then finally located it near the doorway, remarking that it must have dropped when she was carrying her play fruit in from the other room. She then went back to organizing the different pieces of play food in order to find a place for the apple, and announced to me, "Mommy, do you know what this is called? It's called correcting the apple to the other fruit."

Yesterday was also the first time Julia tried to incorporate Madeleine into her pretend play; while they often "play" together (usually consisting of Julia talking in a high squeaky voice and grabbing parts of Madeleine's body a lot less gently than we would like), this was the first time Julia tried to include Madeleine in equal play, rather than taking on the roll of big sister entertaining the little sister. Madeleine was a baby in Julia's game of house, though unfortunately Madeleine would not really cooperate with the game. When Julia put a blanket over her and told her it was time to go night-night, Madeleine continued "crawling" (her odd version of crawling, that is) around to the point where the blanket slowly fell off of her back. Oh, well. It was still fun to see the beginnings of what, somewhere down the line, will be actual pretend play between the two girls.

And speaking of Madeleine, she has recently mastered the ability to sit up from a lying-down position. I love watching how easily she does it, although I don't really appreciate the new skill at 5 in the morning when she is repeatedly sitting up in her crib and then screaming for me. It was a lot easier for her to fall back asleep when she was already lying down...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Terrible Threes

Ahh, 3-year-olds. I love this age in so many ways, but in so many others it can be really tough. All the battles of the wills, the flyings-off the handle at the drop of a hat, and the attempts to always get one's way can be more than a bit trying. As in the enormous temper tantrum Julia threw yesterday because her friend Wyatt had dared to open up her container of Little People and start playing with them. The end result of the big melt-down was Julia up in her room in time-out, screaming for about fifteen minutes, both about the Little People, and about the fact that she had thrown Kitty (her security object that she sleeps with at night) behind her dresser in anger, had then pulled the dresser askew and noticed a web and what she said was a spider behind the dresser, and was too terrified to retrieve Kitty. When she was calm and under control she was able to come back downstairs, and we wound up leaving Kitty behind the dresser because I was in no mood to crawl around behind it after she had thrown it there in the midst of her fit. So when we were getting her ready for bed last night, she remembered about Kitty, and the following conversation ensued:

JULIA: Uh, can you get kitty from behind my dresser, because there's a spider there.
ME: (looking behind dresser) I don't think we can get kitty, because he's in a cobweb and now I need to wash him.
JULIA: But he was in a spider web and Daddy, I want you to smoosh that spider.
ETHAN: (looking) I'm not sure if I see a spider.
ME: It's just a cobweb back there.
JULIA: (enthusiastically) Yeah, Daddy, there's a cobweb! So it's a SPIDER!
ME: But Julia, you're not going to be able to use that kitty tonight, because now I need to wash it. Do you want to use your other kitty? (pointing to identical, but cleaner, newer, unfaded version that we had to buy when we forgot Kitty on an overnight trip.)
JULIA: No, I just want my other kitty.
ME: Well, I told you that you can't have that one tonight because I need to wash it. You made a choice to throw kitty in an unwise place because you were having a fit, so now the consequence is that kitty is too dirty to use. You can use your other kitty.
JULIA: (grumpily) I don't want to sleep with ANY kitties.
ME: Okay, fine.
We then got into bed and I turned to the first page of her bedtime story.
JULIA: But Mom, what am I supposed to use instead of kitty?
ME: I already told you that you can use your other kitty, but you said no.
JULIA: I said No, yes!

Ahh, I see. I had not realized that when she said she didn't want to sleep with any kitties, that meant "no, yes," which apparently means she did want to sleep with her other kitty. Silly me.

And on a completely unrelated topic, I tried teaching Julia how to sing "Frere Jacques" as a round yesterday. She got the hang of it pretty well at the start of the song; she starts to lose the pitch towards the end, but still, not too shabby for a 3-year-old. I did get a video of us singing together; she's come a long way since her "Fredda Jacques, dog my food" days!:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our future pets

So, I was teaching a piano lesson yesterday, and Julia had come along to play with the younger sibling of my student, as she does most days of the week. When she and her play-mate came up from the basement to have snack, I overheard the following conversation between Julia and my student's mother in the adjacent room:

JULIA: We don't have a dog or a cat at our house.
MRS. MOORE: We don't have a dog or a cat here, either. Do you wish you had a dog or a cat?
JULIA: No, because my Mommy is allergic to dogs and cats.
MRS. MOORE: If you did have a dog, what would you want to name it?
JULIA: Um, Boo-Boo!
MRS. MOORE: Boo-Boo! I like it! And what would you name a cat if you had one?
JULIA: Um, Boo-Boo!
MRS. MOORE: Boo-Boo and Boo-Boo? But what if you had a cat and a dog at the same time! If you said, "Sit, Boo-Boo," how would the animals know which one you were talking to?
JULIA: Okay, then I think I would name my cat Duck-Duck.
MRS. MOORE: Boo-Boo and Duck-Duck - I think those are great names!

Hang on here. This is the girl who has come up with names like Cartacarizza, Project Daddy, Treadmill, Sand, and Fauna. And now she is resorting to names like Boo-Boo and Duck-Duck?? Seriously? Though I must say, the idea of a cat named Duck-Duck is pretty amusing. And honestly, I will happily support whatever creative ideas and names float through that head of hers, but I do think the creative juices weren't flowing quite as much yesterday, especially seeing as she wasn't even motivated to come up with a different name for the cat until prompted to do so. Anyway, as Julia said, I am quite allergic to both types of animals; however, I did grow up with both a dog and cats in my household so who knows if pets are completely ruled out. If we ever wind up with a Boo-Boo or a Duck-Duck at our house, I will be sure to post pictures.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Madeleine's explorations

This morning Madeleine was sitting on the dining room floor and fussing while Ethan and I ate our breakfast, so I thought maybe she needed a new fun place to explore while we finished eating. I sat her down underneath the table, figuring it would be a new perspective for her and fun to try and pull up on the beam holding the two table feet together. Ethan was clearly the wiser parent and recognized it wasn't a very good idea, as demonstrated by the following exchange:

ETHAN: (Looking at me like I'm crazy.)
ME: What?
ETHAN: Don't you think she's going to whack her head?
MADELEINE: (Leaning forward and bonking her head on the beam.)
ME: Yup.

So I moved her further away from the beam and thought she might like to play with the chair rungs (one of her favorite things to do lately; she can almost pull up to standing on them.) However, she decided Ethan's toes were way more interesting, and proceeded to grab onto his big toes, then lean her whole body forward in order to suck on them. Ew.

Later in the morning, we had a play-date over at Neva's house, and while Julia and Nate happily played, Neva and I put the babies down on the play gym together. Neva's daughter, Anja, is two months younger than Madeleine, and while their close age and our weekly get-togethers will very likely lead to a tight friendship at some point down the line, right now they seem to regard each other as objects to grab at and explore. As they lay side by side on the play gym, Madeleine reached over and pulled the pacifier out of Anja's mouth. She then started grabbing at Anja's face with a look of earnest interest, and in response Anja opened her mouth wide and started mouthing and sucking on Madeleine's hand. As Ethan said, when I recounted the story for him, they must have both been in baby bliss.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aquarium adventures

Julia and I just had the following conversation in the car:

JULIA: Mama, do you remember when I called a loser a nut tree?
ME: When you called a loser a nut tree?
JULIA: Yeah. Wasn't that silly that I called a loser a nut tree?
ME: I don't remember that. When did you do that?
JULIA: Yesterday when I saw those losers, I called them a nut tree.
ME: What losers did you see?
JULIA: The ones I saw yesterday.
ME: But, I mean, where did you see losers?
JULIA: Um, the ones I saw at the mall.
ME: Oh. Julia, do you know that a loser really means someone who loses something, like someone who is NOT the winner? So the poem is called "The Loser" because he loses something, his head. But really, loser doesn't really mean someone with no head.
JULIA: (Silent for a minute.) But is a loser someone who loses his hands?

Yeah. She just doesn't get it.

Now, we didn't actually go to a mall yesterday and see losers, but we did spend the afternoon yesterday going into Boston and visiting the Aquarium. We had a really nice time, although there were a few challenges. Here is a synopsis of the afternoon: We parked the car in Newton Highlands and walked down to the T. Got on the train heading into Boston, which was really exciting for both kids, even though they had both been on the T before. Madeleine conked out cold about 2 minutes before getting off the train at Government Center, so instead of Ethan putting her in the backpack carrier we'd brought, he ended up carrying her cradled in his arms through the streets of downtown Boston so she could have her nap. I walked holding Julia's hand, and she skipped along in delight, singing made-up songs at the top of her lungs, happy as a clam, except for when we walked down a street that was undergoing construction, at which point she completely freaked out about the diggers and made me carry her. The noise of her shrieking over the sound of the construction vehicles miraculously did not wake Madeleine. We got to the Aquarium and the line for tickets was ridiculously long; we waited at least a half hour. Julia started to lose it, but luckily I had packed a snack pack of Goldfish, which kept her at bay. Madeleine slept through most of the wait in line, until an announcer came over the loudspeakers in his loud booming voice, which startled her and woke her, so she was transferred into the backpack carrier. We finally got into the aquarium and had a great time looking at all the cool sea creatures in the enormous fish tank. I had assumed Madeleine would LOVE seeing all the fish through the glass, and I was right; however, the thing I didn't think about was that EVERYTHING at the aquarium would be new to her, so she seemed to be equally fascinated with seeing the huge crowds of people milling about and didn't seem to realize that the fish were the main attraction. But she spent most of the afternoon gazing up, down, and around in wonderment:

Julia loved seeing the different fish, especially the sharks - that is, until one swam by VERY close to the glass, causing her to clutch on to me and say, with increasing nervousness and urgency, "Mommy. MOMMY. MOMMY!" We also enjoyed seeing the penguins and the jellyfish, and when we announced it was time to go, Julia decided she didn't want to leave and wanted us to leave her at the aquarium instead. A quick, "Okay, bye Julia" solved that issue, and we headed out and went to look at the boats on Boston Harbor. Julia was out of her mind with excitement seeing the water and the boats, and pranced around the docks twirling around and probably interrupting the peaceful water-gazing of all the people sitting silently around us. One such person did offer to take a family photo of us, which we appreciated, although Madeleine wasn't interested in participating when there were so many cool, shiny things to look at out on the water:

After the boats, we started our walk back to the train, me holding Julia's hand again, and her becoming increasingly insistent that I was hurting her finger by holding her hand. When I asked her which finger, she showed me, and I saw a big splinter, explained that we would take it out with tweezers when we got home, causing her to fuss on and off for the rest of the trip home about not wanting us to use tweezers on her. I had the fun experience of trying to nurse Madeleine on the train ride home with only a little burp cloth to cover up with, but all in all it went pretty smoothly. We got home, extricated the splinter, Ethan cooked some of his delicious beer chili, Madeleine screamed through dinner, Julia made faces of disgust as we insisted she eat at least some of her chili, the kids went to bed, and Ethan and I kicked back to enjoy our current, very exciting version of a date night: drinking some Greek wine and watching the DVR of the Biggest Loser. The contestants are all headless.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vocal warm-ups, among other things

It has been an exhausting week for a variety of reasons, although I have to say that the girls were really sweet and surprisingly low-maintenance today. We took a fun trip out this afternoon to Open Gym time at Creative Movement, and from there went to the children's section of the public library, where Julia saw a friend from preschool. The two girls put on a puppet show together while Madeleine played with the variety of manipulative toys and "listened" to some books that I read to her. It was one of the first days in awhile that both kids have been in good moods - no pouting or melt-downs from Julia (in fact, she was on GREAT behavior at both open gym and the library - who is this kid??) and Madeleine has been so much less cranky and fussy since I started supplementing her nursings with some extra breastmilk or formula. Poor kid has been hungry lately - the doctor thinks that because she is so active, she's burning through more calories than she's taking in, and needs extra milk. So all in all a nice day, though I spent most of it feeling like I was dragging my leaden, zombie-like body through just trying to make it to the weekend! This afternoon, while Madeleine was napping, I told Julia that I needed to practice some singing but that I was too tired to do it. She then informed me that she wasn't too tired to do it, and proceeded to begin imitating my vocal warm-ups. I pulled out the camera to get a little bit of it on video:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Julia says...

Julia was full of all sorts of goofball sayings this afternoon - I actually had to stop what I was doing and go write out some of the things coming out of her mouth so I wouldn't forget. Here, for your reading pleasure, were my three favorite conversations/quotations:

"Hey Mama, my cut is all better! But Mom, I'm a vampire and I'm gonna DRINK MY OWN BLOOD! I'm Vampire Snow White. I'm a nice vampire. Mom, we'll have to tell Yia-yia that I'm Vampire Snow White. Because I think Yia-yia will think I mean that I want to wear my Snow White dress, so we'll have to tell her that I'm just pretending I'm a Vampire Snow White."

"Madeleine, I'm gonna eat your bum! I'm gonna eat your bum! (Chomping sound.) Mom, I ate Madeleine's bum, so now she can't poop anymore. She's gonna poop in her bagina."

ME: Julia, where are the wipes?
JULIA: Ah dahnnah.
ME: You don't know?
JULIA: Whoops Mama, that was the French way.
ME: What was the French way?
JULIA: I said Ah dahnnah, instead of I don't know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Julia quotes, yet again

Some amusing Julia quotes from the past few days:

In Vermont: "Uncle Mike, do you like stinky rain days?"

On the drive home, while watching Sleeping Beauty on the portable DVD player: "Mom, the DVD player almost falled, but I catched it, because I knowed what to do with it."

Driving by a tailor's shop yesterday with a mannequin in a wedding dress: "Hey Mama, I saw a loser!"

Holding up two rigatoni at dinner last night: "Mama, look! Two pastas are stuck together! Mama, it's kind of like binoculars!"

This morning at breakfast, after discussing the way certain names, like Madeleine, are pronounced differently in French: "Mom, I speak in England."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Madeleine mischief

Although she's not officially crawling yet, Madeleine is basically capable of getting anywhere she wants around a room, which means that nothing on the floor, no matter how far from where I've parked her, is safe from her clutches. She has gotten pretty adept at creeping her body around pretty quickly, so I can no longer put her on the floor, walk out of the room for a second, and return to find her anywhere remotely near the spot I had left her. This afternoon while I was practicing my chorus music, I put Madeleine down on the rug by the piano with a variety of toys with which to entertain herself. However, I should have known that other, more enticing things around the room would have captured her interest far better than the toys I had given her. Here are the things she was not particularly interested in playing with and sucking on:

-her rattle
-her winkle
-a musical fishbowl
-a crinkly smiley-faced sun toy

Here are the things she did want to play with and suck on:

-the fleece blanket (which meant she was covering her entire face with it in attempt to get it in her mouth)
-the plastic wrapper for the wipes refills
-the CDs inside Daddy's multi-CD carrier
-her portable changing pad
-the baby monitor, the back of which she popped open, causing the batteries to fall out onto the rug

Needless to say, it was not a very productive singing practice, since I had to run across the room every few minutes and remove one of the above-mentioned items from her hands or mouth. I tried picking her up to hold her while I ran through the last bit of music, but unfortunately she decided that my music score was also an incredibly desirable thing to grab onto and try to shove in her mouth.

Here she is, on the go:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fun family trip

This weekend we went up to Vermont for a Rowe family visit; not only did we get to see Bill and Judi, aka Nana and Gramps, but we coordinated our trip to line up with that of Ethan's brother and his family, who were visiting from California. It was great for the girls to spend time with Uncle Mike, Aunt Kathleen, and cousin Dashiell, and of course Ethan and I were thrilled to see them as well and to meet our nephew. Because there were already a bunch of people sleeping at the Rowe house in Vermont, and because our girls have not been great sleepers lately and were at risk of waking the whole household with their midnight wailings, Ethan and I decided to stay in a hotel to ensure the best possible sleep for all parties involved. We opted for a hotel suite, with a separate, enclosed sleeping area, plus a living area with sofabed and a kitchenette. Julia was so excited when we walked into our hotel room and she got to see our temporary digs. When she looked into the sitting area, she remarked, "Hey, Mom! It's kind of like a living room!":

She was then delighted to discover another room in the whole set-up, exclaiming delightedly, "Look, Mama! I see a bed!"

But nothing compared to her delight when glimpsing the reflection in the mirrored bedroom closet doors, as if what she saw defied reality: "Mama! Look! I see ANOTHER bed!" She was so excited about it, I almost hated to point out that it was in fact the one and only bed and that it was simply an image in the mirror:

She then pranced on over into the kitchenette area and announced, "Look, Mom, they even have a sink here!"

When I responded that they also had a refrigerator, she declared, "Mama! This place is like magic!"

While we enjoyed our cushy sleeping arrangements, we spent the majority of our trip at Bill and Judi's house hanging out with lots of different relatives, which was a lot of fun for both adults and the kids. Julia especially loved her Uncle Mike, and spent a lot of her time engaging him in her various pretend games, even when he was already engaged in other activities. In the middle of our family Hearts game, Julia started some goofy routine that involved her telling Uncle Mike she had to leave and go to Nana's house, after which she would get on all fours and crawl out of the dining room (where the cards were being played) into the family room (where Nana and Aunt Linda were entertaining the kids). She would stop at the family room door, yell out "Ding Dong!," enter the family room and shut the door, then return momentarily to the dining room proclaiming, "Uncle Mike, I'm back!" And then repeat the whole routine all over again. Each time she was back, Uncle Mike had to acknowledge her presence, and after about the tenth proclamation of "Uncle Mike, I'm back!" he said to her, "You're back? Why did you leave?" She looked at him for a minute, then explained, "I left because I'm a dope and I keep leaving." Awesome. Apparently she wanted to show all the relatives what a good parenting job Ethan and I are doing, letting her inadvertently pick up great vocab words like "dope" (and "loser," and "butt.") At any rate, a great time was had by all, and we Massachusetts Rowes are now home so the blogging resumes....

Friday, April 16, 2010

A long and rambling post

I find it so fascinating to listen to children point out the things they observe in the most mundane situations - driving in the car through town, looking out the living room window, looking through books they've heard a million times, etc. Children are not so distracted by their thoughts and their to-do lists the way adults are, and they take the time to notice the smallest of things around them, things that adults usually tune out or don't focus on. Lately Julia has surprised me with things she has been observing and the connections and conclusions she's making, because she's noticing things I haven't actually pointed out or explained to her. Such as:

JULIA: Hey Mom, look, that church is covered in vines!
ME: (Realizing I had never actually noticed the vines.) Wow! You're right. Julia, how do you know what vines are?
JULIA: Because of the book the priest gave her (meaning Madeleine)...
ME: (Remembering the book is called The Man and the Vine and is about a man turning grapes into wine and blessing the wine to become communion, and also realizing we read this book over two months ago): Oh yeah, that's right!


JULIA: (pointing to a gray Toyota Corolla in front of us as we drove down Highland Ave) Mom, look, that car looks just like Neva's car!

I had actually made the same observation myself, since the car in front of us was the same make, model, and color as our friend Neva's car, but it had never crossed my mind that Julia had paid attention to what Neva's car looks like. Similarly, the other day when we arrived home from school, Julia pointed to a black car parked in our neighbor's side of the driveway and observed, "Mom, I think Maisie is probably over having a play-date with Wyatt, because that looks like Noelle's car in their driveway." So not only can she identify what type of car OUR friend drives, but she actually knows the car that our neighbor's friend drives. She was absolutely right - Noelle and her daughter Maisie were over visiting our neighbor friends.

She also likes to come up with advice for how we should go about doing things, now that she's watched us go through various motions enough times to get the way it all works: "Mom, I just got an idea in my head! We should pack BABY TOYS to bring on our trip to Vermont, so that the babies have something to play with! Isn't that a great idea that I got in my head?"

She's not always spot-on in her mental process, however. Sometimes her atempts at deductive reasoning lead her down an interesting path. She asked me this morning if I could color the "kitty skull" in her Sesame Street coloring book, and pointed out other skulls to me - Ernie skulls, Bert skulls, etc. Sounds kind of morose, but the "skulls" are actually just pictures of heads without bodies:

So, just to clear things up: if it's a floating head with no body attached, it's a skull. If it's a headless body, it's a loser.

Now, onto a totally unrelated topic. Madeleine has been loving her new Leapfrog Learning table, probably because it gives her the opportunity to grab onto various buttons, and to flap her hands around wildly whacking things, two of her favorite activities:

However, somebody else gets a little envious whenever any new toys come into the house and wants to have firsts dibs on them:

There is Julia, actually grabbing Madeleine's hand to hold it still because Madeleine's pressing of the piano keys was interrupting the sounds from the buttons Julia was trying to manipulate. Or, in Julia's words, when I told her to stop grabbing Madeleine's hands, "No, but Mom, I'm holding her hands because she's DISTRACTING me from playing my music!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Given that she's the child of two singers, and her mother comes into her class regularly to musically entertain the kids, one would think that Julia would love music time at school and would enjoy joining in the songs, almost all of which she already knows from hearing me sing them at home. However, this does not appear to be the case; her teachers have told me on more than one occasion that she refuses to sing any of the songs, and whenever I come into her class, not only does she not sing, but she won't even do any of the hand gestures or play any of the instruments to at least take part in the songs in some way. Yes, it's true: the girl who bellows out "Once Upon a Dream" with wild abandon at home will not even open her mouth to sing "Open Shut Them" at school. This afternoon, one of her teachers e-mailed a slideshow of pictures from last month's Pajama Day, and as I looked through the adorable pictures of the kids in their pj's, I came across some photos of music time:

That's right. There she is, sitting the whole thing out, refusing to even stand up with the other kids. I have to say, though, I am absolutely not surprised. This is the kid who glowers at Dora the Explorer when Dora asks the kids to say anything ("Swiper, no swiping!") and purses her lips as tightly closed as possible if I encourage her to chime in (and you should see the look she gives me when I start chanting "Swiper no swiping.") She is very much an observer rather than an active participator. So, I guess for the time being, Julia's musical performances will have to continue in the comfort of her own home, or more specifically, in her absolute favorite spot to sing, on the potty, when she's in there with her shirt on and the door closed for privacy and the stool under her feet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Julia has been all about the snacks lately, even more so than usual. She typically gets a morning snack and an afternoon snack in addition to her three regular meals; however, lately, it's more like two or three morning and afternoon snacks in between meals (reminds me of "elevenses" in Lord Of the Rings.) This is not because I'm providing the snacks for her, mind you, but because she has figured out how to connive others into giving her extra food. Her preschool teachers have told me on multiple occasions that she complains all morning of being hungry, so they wind up giving her crackers throughout the morning instead of making her wait until official snack-time. And when I take her along with me to teach my piano lessons, she eats snack at every house we go to, despite the fact that I always feed her something beforehand (because, honestly, these clients are paying me to teach their children and I don't really feel right expecting them to feed mine.) The problem with all this snacking, if you haven't guessed already, is that she subsequently isn't finishing her meals because she's too full from all the crackers, goldfish, and cookies. (Even her preschool teachers acknowledge that despite her complaints of hunger all morning, she's hardly eating any of her lunch at lunch bunch.) Ethan and I are pretty weary of the dinner time prodding and the fact that it takes Julia nearly an hour to eat her meal because she's procrastinating or resisting eating her veggies, so I decided we need to curb some of this afternoon snacking a bit and bring her to the table for dinner with an appetite. So I have been telling her, as we leave for piano lessons, that she already had snack and I don't want her asking for more at the various houses (I had been constantly overhearing her say to my clients, "I'm hungry," or, "Can I have some snack?") She has been good about not asking since I brought that up; however, she's stuck in a bit of a pickle when the moms, now so used to feeding her, offer her snack. So I modified my rule and told her that if a mommy offers her snack and she's really feeling hungry, it's okay to accept, but that she's not to ask for it, and if she's not truly hungry, she should say "no, thank you." The problem with this concept, however, is that what Julia really zeroes in on is the offer of a snack; as soon as said offer is made, she then uses it as an opportunity to ask for a snack of her choosing (as in: "Would you like a cookie, Julia?" "No, I want some of those little bunny crackers." "We're all out of those. How about a cookie?" "Um, I think I want some goldfish.") And lately when we're leaving the house for piano lessons and I remind her that she has already eaten and shouldn't be asking for snack at the houses we go to, she proclaims, "Yeah, but if the mommies offer me some, that's okay." Yesterday I was particularly adamant about the "you don't need more snack" thing because we were on our way to a house at which, the previous week, Julia had eaten a cinnamon bun, then asked for goldfish, which the client was out of, had been given a snack-size bag of Smartfood instead, had eaten half the bag by the time the lesson was over, and then thrown a fit in the car when I told her we were going to save the other half of the bag for another day. Luckily, my student's mother was on the phone for much of yesterday's lesson so Julia played quietly and happily with toy cars without fussing about being hungry. However, about 10 minutes before the end of the lesson, she must have gotten worried that she hadn't yet been provided with any food, because I heard her ask from the other room, "Mrs. Mitchell? Would you like to offer me anything?" While I applaud her for finding a creative way to work outside of the box in order to get what she wanted, I am a little dismayed that my 3-year-old has already found a way to outsmart her mother and came out of the whole situation with cookie in hand without having directly uttered the taboo words. I can only imagine what the teenage years are going to be like. This child is going to be one tough cookie. Pun intended.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Cheerios

So, apparently Madeleine thinks that it's possible to eat Cheerios and suck on her pacifier at the same time. When she discovered a road block at one orifice, she figured she'd just try for another one and attempted to push the Cheerios towards her nostrils instead:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Revelatory grilled cheese

Just when I think Julia can't possibly get any kookier, she announced to me today, as she ate her grilled cheese sandwich, "Look, Mom! I made Mary and Joseph. And that's Jesus, and that's the angel. They're all in the manger." When I looked to see what she was referring to, she was pointing to various bites she'd taken out of her sandwich. Perhaps she was having some sort of revelatory vision, but it looked just like a plain old grilled cheese sandwich to me:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bathroom art

For someone who is so anal (pun intended) about needing things to be just so when she poops on the potty, including having the door tightly closed for privacy, Julia is surprisingly exhibitionist about the outcome of her time in the bathroom. After sing-songing, "I'm do-one!" and having one of her parents come in, she usually points into the toilet for us to see, nodding her head proudly at her creation. She even sometimes labels her product as if it's artwork. Like today: "Daddy, I did a BABOON poop!" Or the time she pooped a family of eels, who she then named Mary, Joseph and Jesus. She even, on one occasion, pooped Baby Dashiell and his mommy, and was kind enough to point out to us which particular particle was Baby Dashiell. I'm sure the real baby Dashiell's parents, Uncle Mike and Aunt Kathleen, were thrilled to know they were a part of Julia's bathroom creations. Whenever I'm changing a poopy diaper of Madeleine's, Julia rushes in to see what it looks like. I guess she wants to make sure she's still the artistic master of the house and that she's not being outdone by her little sister; sibling rivalry rears its ugly head in the strangest ways...

Friday, April 9, 2010


Last night during dinner, Julia put on quite the entertaining comedy act for Madeleine. I have never heard Madeleine laugh so hard or with such delight. This was way beyond your typical "A-boo!" response. I'm not even really sure what she found so amusing, but for whatever reason, it really did the trick. Here's what Julia was doing: she would run to one corner of the room and exclaim, "Would you like me over here?" which would result in squeals of delight and absolutely raucous laughter from Madeleine. Followed by Julia running to another corner of the room and repeating, "Would you like me over here?" Same response from Madeleine, but up a notch. This went on and on and it just didn't get old for either child - for Julia, the appeal was in making Madeleine laugh and the pride such a feat instilled in her, and for Madeleine, well, who knows. For some reason she just found it positively hilarious. And Ethan and I were pleased too, not just with the happy image of our children playing together, but also because it allowed him to finally finish a story that was interrupted twice earlier in the day; once because of Julia interjecting a million (unrelated) questions, and again later by her pushing the button for her ABC song on her fridge magnet set and then bellowing along with it at the top of her lungs. When the whole routine was over with, Julia decided to explain her motivation behind the idea: "Mom, do you know why I was saying would you like me over here? You know how in Green Eggs and Ham Sam-I-Am says would you like them here or there? Well, I decided to say to Madeleine, would you like me over here, just like Sam-I-Am says in Green Eggs and Ham." I then asked her who she was pretending to be when she said that, wondering if she was imagining herself as Sam-I-Am, or perhaps as the plate of green eggs and ham itself. Her response was: "A cat." Okay, not necessarily the answer I expected... although I wonder, is Sam-I-Am a cat? I wouldn't put it past her to come up with a TOTALLY random answer in response to any question I ask, but I think I'll give Julia the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Now that Madeleine is experienced at eating solid food (kind of a misnomer, seeing as it's all pureed fruits and veggies), we decided to let her try out Cheerios as her first finger food. I remember when Julia was a baby, Cheerios were a life-saver - a great distraction for her as she labored to pick one up and get it in her mouth, giving me a chance to have my hands free for a few minutes. Madeleine was a little iffy about the Cheerios at first, but after a week or so she seems to like the taste a little better. However, I'm not sure she's getting much chance to really taste them all that often - I'd say she actually gets one in her mouth about 10% of the time. She has gotten the hang of picking them up, but transferring Cheerio from hand to mouth is still a challenge. She usually starts out by staring at her Cheerios intently:

Then, once acquiring a Cheerio, she stuffs her whole fist in her mouth, hoping the Cheerio will happen to fall off once inside:

Though it often falls off somewhere else, like onto her bib:

Here she's got one stuck to the side of her hand and can't quite maneuver her fist to get it into her mouth:

So close!

Of course, she had no trouble grabbing onto the picture Julia made at preschool, and taking a few bites of that:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making strides

Madeleine is SO determined to figure out how to crawl, and she is making some real headway, although she doesn't seem to realize that - she spends the majority of her efforts howling in frustration at the injustice of being stationary. Today she was actually able to get up on all fours:

although from there she took things in an interesting direction, pushing up onto her legs as if in a bear walk:

and then lunging her upper body forward.

As you can see, all the exercise completely wiped her out - though this nap lasted about two seconds thanks to the sound of Julia clattering away at her kitchen set. Thankfully a quick move to Madeleine's crib proved successful and she is sleeping off her post-workout exhaustion!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Word play

As we were driving home from church on Easter Sunday, Julia was happily cradling the red egg she received from our priest and chattering about how excited everyone would be to see it when we got home. She then asked me why the egg was red, and I decided to skip the long, complicated explanation about what the color red symbolizes in the Orthodox Church, and instead I answered, "Well, remember we dyed eggs all different colors the other day? I guess the priest decided to dye these eggs red." She sat there quietly absorbing this information for a minute, then responded, "But isn't that silly, Mama? The eggs didn't go up to Heaven!" It took me a minute to realize that between all the talk of the meaning of Easter, plus of course the ongoing discussion of Sleeping Beauty pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, Julia has heard the word "die" quite a lot lately, and has been told that Heaven is the place a person goes after dying. So I then launched into an explanation of the difference between "dye" and "die," which was at least somewhat understood thanks to the fact that Julia had turned to Yia-yia in the middle of church and whispered, "Yia-yia, Mommy told me that you put paint in your hair to make it black," to which Yia-yia responded that it was not really paint (no painting your hair with Dot Art paint, Julia!) but something called hair dye.

In addition to homonyms being a difficult thing for a 3-year-old to understand, so, of course, are puns and plays-on-words. This morning, Ethan started a string of plays on Madeleine's name that had Julia somewhat baffled, but that kept he and I so amused that we ran with it for longer than I think Julia liked. It all started with him saying something to the effect of: "What do you think Madeleine is so sad about? I think we'll have to call her Sad-a-lyn." Followed by: "Or maybe when she's really happy we should call her Glad-a-lyn." To which I dead-panned, "Yeah, and when she's mad, we can call her Madeleine." All somewhat amusing to Julia, but as we continued I think we kind of lost her. Some other potential nicknames:

If she's hanging, we should call her Chad-a-lyn. (or dimpled, Ethan added.)
If she does something really awesome, we can call her Rad-a-lyn.
If she turns into a boy and grows up and has a kid, she can be Dad-a-lyn.
If she turns into a boy and moves to Scotland, we'll call her Lad-a-lyn.
If she turns into a boy and grows up and marries Neva, she can be Thad-a-lyn.

Julia listened to us going back and forth with this, then interjected somewhat nervously, "Uh, no, Daddy, her name is MADELEINE."

A few minutes later, once we were on to another topic, Julia seemed to suddenly find a little more humor in the game, and announced, "Daddy called Madeleine DAD-a-lyn!" "Isn't that silly?" I asked her. "Why do you think he called her Dad-a-lyn?" I thought she might say something like, because he's being silly, because his name is Dad, etc. Instead, her response was: "Because he owns the number four." Oh... I see. THAT'S why.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Julia is going through the fun stage of irrational phobias lately, and it is honestly starting to feel like she's afraid of everything. While she has always been a fearful child, she is definitely taking things to a whole new level lately. Her list of objects that she's currently terrified of includes, but is not limited to: anyone's pet (especially dogs and cats), insects/spiders of any sort, construction vehicles under operation, cars that happen to be driving in the parking lot we're walking in, motorcycles, helicopters, the cut on her knee, the water in the bathtub as it goes down the drain, Maleficent when she's standing in the fireplace on Sleeping Beauty, sweat (usually on Mommy or Daddy if we've gone running), and as of yesterday, her Easter egg after playing Chingity-Mingity. (Chingity-Mingity is a family tradition - a game we play on Easter in which each player has an Easter egg and the object of the game is to tap another player's egg without breaking one's own egg):

She did explain to me why she was afraid of her egg after losing the game: "Mama, I just didn't want to touch my egg, because I'm scared of my crack."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Julia, Julia quite Contrary

Last night while Julia was cleaning up her toys before bed, I started singing the clean-up song that her Yia-yia made up, since I vastly prefer that one to the Barney & Friends "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere..." Julia and Madeleine both seemed to get into Yia-yia's song, and Julia kept asking for repeat performances as she cleaned up. When she was down to the last 2 or 3 toys, I asked her if she wanted me to sing the clean-up song one last time, and she said yes. I then asked her if she could sing along with me, and was not surprised to hear her say no. While she will happily sing "Once Upon a Dream," "Away in a Manger," etc. all day, she will really ONLY sing on her terms. She is absolutely not a group participator when it comes to singing - she won't even join in the songs at preschool. Anyway, I had some crazy notion that if I just asked her to sing with me, she would willingly do it, so I tried again, this time telling her Yia-yia would be so proud if she knew Julia had learned her clean-up song. Julia responded that she couldn't sing it because she doesn't know the words, so I said, "Okay, well since I know the words, I guess I'll just have to sing it." Then instead of "Let's clean up, let's clean up..." I sang, "Let's climb a tree, let's climb a tree..." which elicited the response I was looking for, that these weren't the right words. So I then asked Julia if she could sing me the correct words. Now, I must point out, reverse psychology has never worked on this child - she is way too stubborn to fall for my bait - so I'm not sure what I was thinking here. In any case, she immediately got her grumpy, obstinate face and replied, "It goes, 'let's go riding in an elevator." I swear, she will do ANYTHING to be contrary sometimes! When I tried to make her laugh by substituting those words for the correct ones, she again stopped me, this time telling me in an even more obstinate, grumpy voice, "No, it's 'let's ride a horse." I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything different; this is the child who once said to me, "No, Daddy is not home. Someone ELSE is home," when she was in a grouchy mood and I tried to redirect her attention to Daddy coming in the door, and who also told me she wanted me to throw her snack in the garbage when she was mad at me one day.

And speaking of obstinate, Ethan tried to videotape Madeleine whacking away at the package of toilet paper like it was a drum, but she decided to perform for the camera in an entirely different way...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another random question

Julia, in the middle of dinner last night: "Mama? How can you make a macaroni dinosaur?"

In case you are wondering if she was eating macaroni while coming up with this question, the answer is no, we were actually eating a coconut tofu stirfry. So, your guess is as good as mine...