Monday, May 31, 2010

Last night's bedtime conversation

ME: Good-night, Julia, I love you.
JULIA: Mommy? Why do some people not want songs at night?
ME: What do you mean?
JULIA: Why do some people not want a song?
ME: Well, not everybody gets a song at night. I don't get to have a song before I go to bed.
JULIA: Why not?
ME: Because, I don't have someone sing to me before bed.
JULIA: No, but, why do some people with big feet not want a song before bed?
ME: People with big feet? Who has big feet?
JULIA: No, I mean, people with big feet who are big kids and not little babies.
ME: Why, what kids do you know that don't want songs before bed?
JULIA: Well, why do some kids not get songs?
ME: I don't know, Julia. I don't know whether other kids we know get a song or not before bed because I don't live in their house.
JULIA: Why not?
ME: Well, whose Mommy am I?
JULIA: Mine.
ME: Right. So I'm not other kids' mommy, so I don't know what happens at their house before bed. Good-night, honey, I love you.
JULIA: But Mommy, CAN I have a song?
ME: You WANT a song? I thought you were trying to tell me you don't want a song.
JULIA: No, I DO want a song.

Oh, okay. She was so clear about her intentions, I can't imagine why I didn't understand what she was asking for from the get-go...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Girls in the choir loft

Today was the last week of choir at my church before the summer vacation, and despite the fact that Sunday school had already ended last week, I wanted to go and sing even if it meant having both kids up in the choir loft with me. Luckily, Ethan has had a few weeks off from his church choir gig, so I was able to bring him along with me for the extra hand. As we were packing up the diaper bag, I suggested to Julia that she choose a few toys to bring and play with up in the loft, since she wouldn't get to play with all the toys down in the classrooms today. She ran off and collected some items while I dried my hair, and when I asked her if she wanted to bring a few of her Little People as well, she resisted, claiming she'd already picked her toys. I encouraged her a few more times to bring the Little People because she might get antsy up in the loft, but she stubbornly insisted they needed to stay at home in their house. When I tried to have Ethan pack a few Little People to be on the safe side, Julia was on the verge of a melt-down about it, so we told her fine, but that it would be her problem if she got bored up in the loft and we weren't going to entertain her.

I must admit, I shouldn't have really worried about it, because both girls were really on wonderful behavior through the service, and they found plenty of ways to entertain themselves outside of playing with toys. In fact, Madeleine wanted nothing to do with the toys I'd brought her. She instead spent the first half of church getting excited about her reflection in the metal joint on the banister separating the top and middle rows of the loft. Not only did she flap her arms around joyously and smile at herself, but she decided to very loudly and repeatedly make her guttural "AAAHHH!" sound as she gazed at herself. When she tired of that, I tried putting her in the Baby Bumbo that's kept up in the loft, with some toys to play with, but she just shoved the toys away, pulled her legs up out of the Bumbo and lunged out of it, then proceeded to pull up to standing on the diaper bag, the Bumbo itself, Julia's chair, and whatever else she could get her hands on. Again, I really can't complain, because she didn't cry, fuss, whine, or do anything that would distract the congregation, but I did get a kick out of the fact that she decided to show the choir her daredevil personality and her ceaseless acrobatics.

Julia, on the other had, sat quietly for most of the service, and I honestly couldn't have asked for better behavior from her. At one point she did go into the diaper bag to take out the two toys she'd packed. Having shunned the Little People idea in favor of the toys she had already chosen, I expected to see some of her favorite, most exciting toys; however, I suppose one can really never know the inner workings of a child's brain. Here are the toys she packed for herself to play with at church:

A set of pretend keys that she got for her first birthday, and the mallet to some musical instrument. Seriously?? She refused to bring her Little People. Instead she wanted to play with pretend keys and a mallet (without the accompanying instrument)?!? I am still at a loss as to what compelled her to choose those two particular items out of all of the toys we have in the house. However, I will say that she sat there holding those two toys, pressing buttons on the play keys (even though the batteries died a long time ago so the buttons do nothing) and whacking the mallet against the side of the keys quietly. So, I guess I can't really judge her choice, because she seemed perfectly happy with them. But - really??

When we got in the car after the service was over, Julia started patting the right side of her head and saying, "Mama, is it this side?" I was asking her what she meant by that; did she mean which side was her braid on? (No.) Did she mean which side was that, left or right? (No.) Did she mean which side was her ear infection on? (No.) "Is it this side, Mama?" I asked her to elaborate, and she wasn't really able to, beyond asking, "But is it just medium?" Is WHAT medium? Her braid? (No.) Her ear infection? (No.) Her head? (No.) "But is it this side?" (patting her head repeatedly.) I finally gave up on understanding what she was talking about, though I have to admit I'm still really curious as to what on earth she was trying to ask me. Like her reasoning for bringing a toddler set of keys and a mallet to play with at church, I suppose I won't ever really know.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Coughing fits, real and staged

The girls have been a little under the weather with a cold and cough, and Madeleine seems to find her cough so fascinating that her new favorite thing is to deliberately force herself to make a gagging/dry cough sort of sound. (I guess this was the next logical step from "AAAHHHH!") She gets particularly carried away with her fake cough when she's trying to accomplish a physical feat; for whatever reason, making the sound must help with her concentration or something. I got a little bit of fake gaggy coughing on video, although she became more interested in watching me hold the video camera and sort of lost her momentum:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Uncle Obama, and specialty chicken

Sometimes I wonder if Julia lives on some other plane of existence.


ME: (Pausing from scrolling through tv channels to watch Barack Obama giving a press conference.) Julia, do you know who that is?

JULIA: Mmm-hmm.

ME: Who is it?

JULIA: Uncle Dave.


During our dinner of chicken stir-fry and rice:

"Mama, I know a special kind of chicken. It's called vriadios. And I know a special kind of rice. It's called chicka-choce chicka-choce."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Elizza and the Castle"

Elizza and the Castle by Julia. Part fantasy princess tale, part gory horror story:

"There's a girl with brown hair and her name is Elizza and she's mean and she eats all the worms and then they DIE and they go up to heaven.

And then there's another girl and she has yellow hair in a bun and her name is Alexandra and she's a princess and she brings the dinosaurs there so she can eat them. (ME: So that who can eat them? JULIA: So that Elizza can eat them instead of the worms.) The worms are CAPTURED. They go up to heaven.

And Mama, she has VERY SERIOUS DRAGONS that bring the people to jail. So they put them in cages and put them out to sea so the volcanoes can blow.

The worms slither across the ground and stop til they get the girl, and the beautiful princess was there and then they get away from Elizza.

Mama, so, when the worms die, all fire comes, and they go UNDER THE GROUND. Their bones go under the ground.

Then, um, a fairy comes, and um, a man comes, um, then the prince comes, and brings the princess BACK TO THE CASTLE! Isn't that nice? And, Mama, do you know what color the princess has? She actually has yellow. Yellow hair, and she has blue eyes, and a pink dress with short sleeves, and it was a TANK TOP dress.

Mama, um, Elizza has brown eyes. And do you know what color dress she has with the short sleeves? BLACK. A black dress, Mama."

ME:And how does the story end?

JULIA: Um, ahh, mmm... Once upon a time, THE END!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Last night at dinner, Julia was spewing out all kinds of random statements in the midst of eating her sausage and veggies. I wish I knew what had been going on in that head of hers to lead her from one point to another. Here are a few samples from her smorgasboard of random thoughts:

JULIA: Mama, it wouldn't be nice for someone to put sticks in ement mixers.
ME: You're right, it wouldn't be nice to put sticks in cement mixers.
JULIA: (thoughtful) But could you HIT a cement mixer?

I explained the cons of hitting a cement mixer with both your hand and your car, which I guess must have bored her, because she then turned to Ethan and exclaimed, "Your name isn't Daddy or Ethan. I'M Ethan! I'm Ethan ROWE-ROWE!"

Okay... wherever that came from. She then spent the next several minutes telling Ethan he was Courtney Rowe-Rowe, she was Daddy, and so on. I don't remember who I was but I'm sure there was some label given to me as well. Once she had tired of dubbing us all with new goofy names, she suddenly began the following conversation:

JULIA: I wish I was a pretend girl. Daddy, I wish I was a pretend girl.
ETHAN: Well, you could make up a pretend girl, and you could pretend to be her, and then you could be a pretend girl.
JULIA: (as if Ethan had said the most illogical thing in the world) No, I wanna be a CROCODILE!
ME: (beginning to furiously type the ridiculous things Julia had been saying to put on the blog.)
ETHAN: Julia, are you TRYING to give us memorable lines?
JULIA: Uh, yeah. Is that not nice?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Madeleine has a new favorite game, in which someone (usually Ethan) looks at her and says, in a guttural rasp, "Aaaahhh!" She then opens her mouth really wide and responds, "Aaaahhh!" And back and forth and back and forth. It's pretty neat to see this first step towards talking; she understands that she's in control of her vocalization and is deliberately imitating the sound she's hearing. Hopefully, however, she will eventually move from a demonic, rasping "Aahhh!" to real words, but for now, it's a start. Here is a video I took of Ethan engaging her in this favorite game out in the backyard:

The best part of all is that when I was watching the video on my Flip Camera later on, Madeleine was crawling around the living room uttering "Aaaahhh!" in response to hearing herself do it on the video.

You may also notice that towards the end of the video Julia is beginning her endless "why" cycle. "Why did you say X?" (Explanation.) "But why (some facet of explanation)?" (Further explanation.) "But why (some other facet of explanation)?" Etc. As we were putting her to bed this evening, I was about to read her a bedtime story, when I decided to tease her a little, and we had a conversation that went something like this:

JULIA: Your turn to read, Mommy.
ME: Why my turn to read?
JULIA: Because it is.
ME: Why because it is?
JULIA: Because it's time to read my bedtime story.
ME: Why your bedtime story?
JULIA: Because I want you to read it.
ME: Why do you want me to read it?
JULIA: Mama, why are you being me?

Interesting that she knew I was imitating her! At least she is aware of what she's doing! And happily, I must have burnt out her interest in asking "why this, why that" because she listened contentedly to the whole story without interruption. Hmmm, perhaps I have learned a valuable tactic, although I can't imagine the "whys" can really stay quiet for long...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Melt-downs, messes, and masterful manipulations

The girls seem to have picked up a little virus while on our vacation, as they both became congested and mildly feverish on Thursday. Nothing major, but enough to make them a little more tired and cranky than usual. Despite being stuffy and coughing, they are basically able to play as normal, so yesterday afternoon we spent a good chunk of time playing in the back yard and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Madeleine needed to go in for a nap after an hour or so, and about forty-five minutes later I started to see signs that Julia was tiring and needed to go inside for some down time. When she gets cranky, upset, has hurt feelings, is overtired, or any combination of the above, she starts to get very contrary - ridiculously so - as you have probably gathered from previous posts about her melt-downs. I was beginning to hear the contrariness creep into her speech, ("Julia, I'm really proud of you for using your manners." "No, you are not proud of me!") and decided to nip things in the bud before she really fell apart, so I told her it was time to go inside in ten minutes. She of course didn't want to, which led to a screaming fit about wanting to stay outside, with me carrying her kicking and screaming into the house. Once inside, I followed my typical method of dealing with her fits, which is to basically ignore them, unless she's doing something unsafe. When she gets into this contrary mode, it's as if she gets herself stuck, and needs to spit out as many preposterously contrary statements as she can to get her anger out, and I always get the sense that she's trying to ruffle my feathers with what she says, so I generally just tune her out until she's over it and is ready to apologize and get on better behavior. Yesterday's fit took things to a new extreme; here are some of the things she was shouting out at me: "Mommy, you did NOT say go upstairs. Mommy, YOU DID NOT say go upstairs! Mommy, YOU DID NOT SAY GO UPSTAIRS!" (for about 10 minutes straight.) "Mommy, I was not being mean to you. I was being mean to WYATT. I was being NICE to you." "Mommy, it was NOT ten minutes Mommy. It was FOUR minutes. Mommy, it was FOUR minutes! It was NOT TEN MINUTES MOMMY!" "Mommy, I want to be ALONE from you." (Me: "Then go in the other room, because I don't really want to be around you when you're acting like this anyway.) Followed by: "No, Mommy, I WANT to be with you! I do NOT want to go in the other room Mommy!"

At one point, I lifted her up and carried her into the living room so that she wouldn't wake up Madeleine (seeing as she had been throwing her fit right by the back door, which is also right by the stairs leading up to Madeleine's bedroom.) I left her in the living room to carry out her fit and made myself busy on my computer in the dining room while she blew up at nothing. The absolute pinnacle of ridiculousness came while she was in there: "Mommy, this is NOT a living room! This is NOT a living room, Mommy! We don't HAVE a living room. Mommy, this is another DINING ROOM!"

Wow. She showed me. Harshness.

I guess my non-responsiveness was starting to bug her because she decided to come into the dining room and spout contrary statements at me while I typed away. I'm not sure if she suddenly wearied of being angry, or if it happened to dawn on her that she would rather be resting on the couch watching tv, but mid-contrary vitriol, she suddenly whined, "Soooory! Mama, I'm soooory!" I looked at her but didn't respond, because I didn't love the tone she was using to apologize. She whined a few more sorries at me, then asked me, in a completely normal voice, "But Mama, could I watch a show?"

End of story: I gave her a 15 minute probation period to get her act together and change her behavior, after which she was able to happily watch Curious George with some snack and juice, and all was well in her world once again.

Moving on to Madeleine, I had one of my yuckiest parenting moments to date yesterday. I was getting her ready for her bath, and decided to just whip off her onesie and diaper in the bathroom and pop her into the tub, figuring I didn't really need to wipe her pee if she was about to get washed. That is, I was assuming all she had in her diaper was pee. WRONG. I was sitting on the toilet, lid down, pulled off her clothes and diaper with her still on my lap, only to see an enormous load of poop in the diaper. But, of course, she was already sitting bare-bummed on my lap. And I was wearing shorts, so she was actually sitting bare-bummed on my bare legs. Awesome. Now, having worked with kids all my life, and having two little ones of my own, I am not usually squeamish - I've cleaned up poop, vomit, spit-up, and the works, but something about having both thighs covered in fresh poop really grossed me out, to the point where I had to call Ethan to come deal with Madeleine because all I could think about was getting myself cleaned off. EW!

And one final Madeleine anecdote - that little stinker somehow figured out how to wriggle out of her Sleep Sack overnight - without it coming unzipped. I have no idea how she did it, but when Ethan brought her to me to nurse this morning, she was wearing the sleep sack down around her ankles. Yes, this kid is going to be trouble!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Skillful moves

Madeleine is now an expert at pulling up to standing, and she's trying to do it on every apparatus in our house. She is consistently getting herself stuck between the bottom rungs and the seat of our dining room chairs, because she pulls up using the rungs and tries to stand right up only to bonk her head on the bottom of the chair seat. Instead of pulling her head out and sitting down, she prefers to try and climb her body further into the space between chair seat and bottom rungs, which, in my opinion, is just asking for trouble.

Madeleine's new jungle gym.

She is also now able to stand at the safety gates like a prisoner rattling the rails of her cell:

And check this out:

I love the casual one-hand-for-balance thing. She is such a little daredevil - it's exhausting trying to keep up with her! Such a contrast to Julia, who has always been cautious and tentative, especially when trying something new. Julia actually used to cry when she was first able to stand unsupported - not because she couldn't do it well, but because she felt nervous without me holding onto her hands. It's a whole different world watching Madeleine as she throws her entire body over Julia's art table rung, or attempts to pull up using the wall and loses her grip and bonks her head on the baseboard, or gets her body wedged underneath the chair seat.

On the subject of new fancy moves, Julia had her first class of the spring session of Creative Movement yesterday, and she was happy as a clam when I picked her up. She ran over to me and exclaimed, "Mommy, we didn't do any of the things I don't do today. I participated in EVERYTHING!" Hooray!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New maneuvers and new imaginary friends

I cannot believe what a little monkey Madeleine has become over the past couple of weeks. She is maneuvering her way into EVERYTHING. Yesterday she climbed into her Baby Bumbo seat and used it to prop herself up so she could reach Julia's wooden blocks, then pulled some blocks out of the bin and started sucking on them. This morning I watched her crawl over to Julia's art table and literally pitch her body over the rung at the bottom. She made it over with her body and one leg but couldn't seem to hoist the other leg over. I considered my options: a) extricate her from under the table, b) at the very least, remove Julia's box of art supplies (which were under the table... in an old Sam Adams box, of all things) or c) grab my camera. So I did what any good parent would do and went for option c. Here she is after lunging herself over the table rung:

And wouldn't you know it, she started trying to get that second leg over:

Of course she was successful. Before I knew it, she was under the table - I still can't believe she climbed over that rung all by herself and got under there. I guess Julia's artwork is not safe in a box pushed all the way against the wall under the table. Time to find a new, out-of-reach spot for it.


And moving on to Julia news. After going for a run this morning, I was stretching on the rug in the living room, and Julia was sitting on the couch, babbling away to me about a dinner plate and different foods. I was half listening at first, but as I started paying more attention, I realized I wasn't 100% sure who she was talking about. Here is what I caught: "And when I ask her what she wants for dinner, she usually picks pasta. But sometimes when she says pasta, she really means rice. And sometimes she wants stuffing. And Mama do you know which plate is her dinner plate? The PINK one. That one is her dinner plate." I was embarrassed to ask who she was talking about because it would be evident that I hadn't been giving her my full attention, but I asked anyway, and it turns out I hadn't actually missed anything, because Julia herself didn't seem to know who she was talking about. She sat there for about 30 seconds thinking hard, and finally came up with, "Mmm... ahhh... mmm... her name is ARA." (Not sure how to spell that one, but it rhymes with Sara.) I then asked her which one is Ara (assuming it was one of her little dolls or figurines.) She responded, "Um, the one with the pink dinner plate." Yes, I got that part. "But is she one of your dolls?" I asked. Julia got a huge, shy smile on her face, and I then asked, "Oh, is she invisible?" She admitted, "Mommy, she's PRETEND." She then launched into a physical description of Ara, despite the fact that she's invisible. She wears a ponytail, but not a big ponytail, just a medium one like the one I was wearing. And she has brown hair just like me. She also looks like me. So, it seems I have an invisible twin walking around our house, wearing a ponytail and eating pasta, rice, and stuffing on the pink dinner plate. When I was a little girl I used to constantly pretend that I had a twin sister; little did I know my daughter shares my exact same fantasy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back into the swing of things

We are slowly adjusting back to reality now that we're home. Surprisingly, the one hour time difference has left us all really jet-lagged; it was tough getting up this morning, and we actually had to wake Julia so that she could get to school on time. Despite her sleepiness, she was thrilled about going back to school, and even asked to stay for Lunch Bunch today. When I picked her up, I found out from her teachers that she had told them lots of details of our trip - specifically, that she wore a polka dot dress to the wedding and danced with the bride, and that Mommy's dress had sparkles on it. While I was there getting her stuff together, she decided to share more details about the trip, ones that really highlighted the best moments of our vacation: "When I was swimming with Daddy I put part of my face under the water and I choked." (referring to Ethan losing his footing and accidentally causing Julia's open-mouthed face to dunk under the water.) And: "I have bumps on my arms now." (Referring to her molluscum contagiosum, a viral skin infection that spread from her belly onto her arms this past week.) Both anecdotes well worth sharing.

On our car ride home, we had this conversation:

JULIA: Mommy, when we get home, after you eat your lunch, can I watch a show?
ME: Um, yeah, I think that would be alright.
JULIA: I want the outside one.
ME: Silence.
JULIA: Mama?
ME: Sorry, I'm trying to think of what you mean by the outside one.
JULIA: I mean the outside one of the show. The one that Daddy put on for me.
ME: Um... do you mean, was it a Dora, or...
JULIA: The Max and Ruby outside one.
ME: Okay. The outside one. I'll have to look On Demand and see what Max and Ruby episodes they have.
JULIA: Well, it's an outside one, and they paint in it.
ME: Is it Max and Ruby: Art?
JULIA: No, it wasn't that one.
ME: Was it a new one for you? Had you ever seen it before?
JULIA: (Thoughtful) Ahh...mmm... I think, like, ahh...mmm... I think it was the one I watched two days ago, when I was two.

I checked when we got home; Max and Ruby: Grandma. She was partially right. She did not watch it two days ago. But she did watch it last spring/summer, so she was two when she first saw it. And since yesterday means any time in the recent past, it makes sense that two days ago might signify about a year ago, at least in the Julia sense of time...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

We are back home this afternoon after a really wonderful family trip. Yesterday was our last day, and one of the highlights of the day was a trip to the kiddie wonderland of ice cream shops, an Amy's Ice Cream with a big kiddie playground. Julia could hardly contain herself; chocolate ice cream and a play area - what could be better?

Another highlight of the day was a family swim at the hotel pool. Madeleine was once again enthralled with the water, and Julia got a chance to go into the deeper part of the pool with Ethan holding her. Ethan also got to play "Hot Water, Cold Water" with her this time, so I was off the hook. After swimming, we took a trip over to visit my Aunt Elaine and Uncle Dave, who live in Austin, and we enjoyed the company of a bunch of other Osowski and Bellas relatives who had stopped by as well. Julia was acting cripplingly shy the majority of the time, and resorted to pointing, gesturing, and indecipherable pantomiming rather than speaking at all, so Ethan and I had no idea what it was she was trying to indicate half the time. Madeleine, on the other hand, decided to get down on the floor and go after Kenny the chihuahua with wild abandon; no shyness there. After a dinner out with my cousin Emily, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night.

We were up at 4am today to catch a 6:10 flight out of Austin. I had been really worried about the girls getting up so early because they have been so sleep-deprived this past week, but they honestly couldn't have behaved better on the flights:

Important piece of advice for parents traveling with small children: skip a bunch of naps and put them to bed really late every night of the trip, and then they will sleep like angels for the whole flight back and you and your husband will get a chance to - gasp! - read a book without interruption.

As we were getting onto the last flight of the trip, from Chicago to Boston, I told Julia that we had one more plane to go on and then we would be back in Massachusetts. She again asked me, "But why didn't we go to Texas on the plane yet?" I am not sure why she doesn't seem to understand that we had been in Texas the whole vacation. In fact, I'm sure she knows that, since she commented on being in Austin, Texas several times through the course of the trip. Maybe it's short-term memory or something. My guess is that she now assumes every plane ride will take us to Austin, since that's where we went in the first place.

Ethan and I had a fun time once again trying to lug all the suitcases, the kids, the stroller, etc. on and off the various forms of MA public transportation, but the good thing was that we had a LOT of helping hands from the other T riders. Another piece of advice for people who are traveling: bring a couple of kids with you, because then random strangers will rush to help you out with your luggage and the trains will wait for you if you're running a little behind (or literally running to get on in time.)

During our commuter rail ride home, Julia once again started loudly singing a new made-up song; something about "rockitude" that morphed into "walkitude." I'd like to think she was giving her parents a pat on the back for our rockitude dealing with all the walkitude we had to do today, suitcases in tow and strollers in front.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 4 adventures

We're having a great time in Austin, and it's hard to believe we're into our last day here. Last night as I put Julia to bed, I asked her if she was having a fun vacation. After she affirmed, I told her we still had one more day of vacation, then the next day we would be going home, which spawned the following conversation:

JULIA: And then are we going to Texas?
ME: What do you mean? We're in Texas right now. We have one more day in Texas, and then we're going back home.
JULIA: But then are we going to Texas?
ME: Tomorrow we're in Texas still. Then we're going home.
JULIA: But when are we going on a plane and going to Texas?

Um... not sure what she's been thinking we've been doing all this time. But I guess she must be confused, seeing as when we stopped at the CVS yesterday, she asked me, "Mom, is this the same CVS that's near our house in Needham?"

Aside from the confusion about where whether we are in Texas or not, she has had a great time enjoying Austin's attractions. Yesterday afternoon we went to Zilker Park, where Julia got to play on the huge play-scape (she had so much fun that she threw a fit about having to take a break to go sit down and eat the Italian Ice that Ethan had bought her as a special treat). The play area had several large xylophones that kids were making music on, and I went over to one and played "Schoolbuses." I tried to get a video of me playing and Julia singing, but she rejected me in order to go and play on this instead:

Madeleine had a fun ride in the baby swings:

and then we took a walk along the trails by Barton Creek and the Colorado River.

After Zilker Park, we went to a great Tex-Mex restaurant with Auntie Shannon and Patrick, and Julia loved the fact that we had constantly-replenished baskets of corn chips at our table. Her favorite part was probably dumping about a teaspoon worth of salt on every corn chip, and of course, lining them all up in a row before eating them. After dinner we all took a swim at the hotel pool before bed, although Julia couldn't play "hot water cold water" because there were already about 5-6 people in the hot tub. Madeleine had her very first swimming pool experience, and she was WAY into it. In fact, when I was trying to just dip her little legs in the water to get used to it, she just went right on ahead and plopped down on her bum on the step. Her favorite part of all was whacking at the water with her hands and trying to get her mouth down to it to drink it - which of course we didn't let her do. She probably could have stayed in there all night, but for the fact that her lip was quivering with cold (and of course the impending bedtime.)

And as you can see, going for a swim right before bed was a great idea for making sure the kids were wide awake and stimulated instead of going right to sleep:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wedding fun

Friday started off with thunderstorms and torrential rain, so we decided to spend the morning indoors, and took a leisurely shop through the enormous Austin Whole Foods supermarket, enjoying lots of free samples, and picking up some of the Whole Foods specialties. This store is so huge that they have a whole section devoted to clothing, and of course, there was a headless mannequin, or as you probably all now know, a loser. Julia, as usual, pointed it out, so I had her stop to pose with the loser:

In the afternoon, we attended to wedding of my cousin, Stephen, to my now cousin-in-law Samantha, and Julia had an absolute ball! Ever since the wedding of Ethan's childhood friend Adam this past summer, Julia has been obsessed with weddings, specifically with brides in their wedding dress. So what a treat it was for her to actually get to dance with the beautiful bride last night; my usually slow-to-warm-up-to-new-people daughter went right to Samantha when she held out her arms to Julia:

Truth be told, Julia wasn't shy or self-conscious at all during the wedding reception; she was out cutting a rug like you wouldn't believe, along with a handful of other kids. In fact, there was a period of time in which the dance floor was completely, solely occupied by kids, and you would have thought Julia was in wonderland, she was so happy to be out there prancing around:

Madeleine even decided to join the kids out on the dance floor:

She was fascinated by the disco lights and kept crawling over to wherever they were flashing, then attempted to grab at their reflection and pick them up, which resulted in her just whacking her hand against the floor repeatedly, but at least it kept her entertained!

And speaking of Madeleine's moves, this morning we went out for brunch at Kerbey Lane, another of our favorite Austin eateries. Madeleine decided to be as inopportune as possible and do a big poop as soon as we'd placed our order, and of course the restaurant didn't have a changing facility in the restrooms. Ethan chose to take her out to the car to do a diaper change, and he determined the trunk was the roomiest place to execute said change. Well, apparently the trunk of the car was an exciting new destination for Madeleine, who couldn't contain her curiosity and wound up rolling off the changing pad and crawling all around the trunk to explore her new environment. Luckily, the poopy diaper was off and the new diaper was on before she decided it was time to up and move, so the poop did not also take a trip around the trunk along with her... potential disaster averted!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 2: Madeleine explores, Julia lets loose

Madeleine has been very intrigued by her new surroundings on this trip, and she has been working hard on her new tricks as she explores her environment. When we got into our hotel several hours past the kids' bedtime on Wednesday, I put Madeleine into her pack n play (which was provided by the hotel, so it was a different make/model than the one we have, therefore veeery interesting and exciting) and instead of falling right asleep like we had hoped, she kept repeatedly sitting up and crawling around all over the pack n play with her Sleep Sack on. I think I put her down on her back about 8 different times, and within a few minutes, I would glance over and see her crawling around again, a look of very focused interest on her face. But perhaps of even more interest to her are the tall chairs that are seated at the breakfast bar in our kitchenette. I had placed her down on the floor with a few toys yesterday while I was trying to make myself a quick lunch, and when I looked over to check on her, this is what I saw:

She not only pulled up to standing, but she was just hanging out with only one hand for balance as if it was a total piece of cake to be standing there. I guess that only satisfied her need to explore for a few minutes, however, because the next time I took a peek at her she had actually crawled underneath the chair and stood up under the seat, happy as a clam to be in her little hide-out:

Aside from the excitement of the chair, we got to do a lot of fun things yesterday, and Julia seems to be in total paradise on this trip. I took her to the hotel pool yesterday while Madeleine napped, and although she was completely, irrationally terrified by the gardener running his hose to water the plants, she had a great time playing "hot water, cold water," a game which consisted of her sitting at the base of the hot tub and kicking her feet in the water, then getting up to walk over to the steps of the pool to do the same thing, then back to the hot tub, etc. Since she's only 3, can't swim, and kind of klutzy and living in la-la land a lot of the time, I of course didn't feel comfortable letting her prance around between the two water areas by herself, so I also got to play hot water, cold water, as much as I would have loved to just stay put in the hot tub for a little while!

After Madeleine woke up, we went to Mozart's Coffee house to meet an old friend of mine, Ginny, who now lives in Austin. Julia got the special treat of having a super-duper sized cupcake for snack there, and we sat out by the lake with our coffees, snacks, etc. Julia spent the first half of the visit too shy to even look at Ginny, though she started coming out of her shell and galloping around the deck, and before long was completely obsessed with Ginny and wouldn't let the adults get a word in edge-wise. "Um, you know what? We don't have Snow White or Tinkerbell, but we only have Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Little Mermaid..." "Do you know what? Madeleine had to get shots and she ATE her green band-aid!" "Um, do you know that yesterday (this past winter) we had dinner at Nate's house and he said 'I'm gonna climb up a tree and swing from its branches?" And so on. She even gave Ginny a repeat performance of "Schoolbuses" and a bunch of the other coffee-drinkers on the deck apparently got a kick out of it.

The Rowes at Mozarts.

In the evening, we went to the hotel social hour, which not only had complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres, but also a live band playing out by the pool. It seems that Julia is a country music fan, because she had a total blast dancing to the music, to the point where the band members themselves commented that they liked her dancing in between songs.

Ethan and the girls at social hour

Julia and Ethan twirling around to the live music

More to come!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Austin, Texas, USA

We are here in Austin, Texas after a loooooong day of traveling yesterday. I can't believe how exhausting a day it was, but I must say the girls were amazing and really held together despite the fact that their parents could barely hold it together. We left our house around quarter to eight in the morning to walk to the commuter rail station near our house. We had the brilliant idea that we would take public transportation to the airport to avoid paying to park our car there for 6 days. However, I have to wonder just a little if it might have been worth the money to make our lives a lot easier... I'm sure we were quite the sight, Ethan and I, pushing the girls in the double stroller with a bag in the storage area underneath the seats and a garment bag draped over the stroller hood, pulling two suitcases along, carrying the diaper bag (packed - stuffed - to capacity), and trying to hold a Starbucks coffee in one free hand (not to mention my purse around my shoulder.) We managed to make it work and it helped to have the girls in the stroller, although the getting on and off of the various public transportation vehicles was a bit trickier, since we had to get the girls OUT of the stroller to fold it up and carry that on along with all the bags, and the children. At least we got our workout in for the day, and as awkward and bumbling as we must have seemed, we did manage to get both on and off the commuter rail, navigated our way through South Station, got on and off the Silver Line bus, then got to our terminal at Logan. Whew! Julia had a grand old time on both the train and the bus, and she even composed a new song while we rode the bus, and decided to sing it at full volume over and over and over and over as we rode the bus to the airport. I took a video of her singing it today so that you can hear what a crammed, packed bus full of commuters got to hear for about 20 minutes straight:

Our flight out of Boston was delayed, which is a good thing since there was a reasonable chance we weren't even going to make the flight at its original time. Julia was thrilled about riding on the plane, and as we went up into the air, she turned to Ethan gleefully and exclaimed, "Daddy! If a plane was trying to fly through a teeny tiny little hole, IT WOULDN'T FIT!" I really couldn't have asked for better behavior from the girls on the plane. Here's a photo montage to show you how they occupied themselves:

In this last picture Julia is watching Sleeping Beauty, which I assumed would keep her quiet for an hour + and give me a chance to read my book, but unfortunately, I was wrong. Despite the fact that she has watched the movie probably a million times, and can recite all the picking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel stuff, she decided to ask me a question about once per second. "Mama, why are they bringing Sleeping Beauty back to the castle? Mama, why is Sleeping Beauty sad? Mama, why's she crying? Mama, why did they say 'let's give her a minute?" Etc. However, I can't complain, because question-asking is MUCH preferred to whining, being bored, getting into mischief, or any of the various other difficulties I could have encountered with a 3-year-old on the plane. As the flight came to an end, Julia made up a new song, the lyrics of which were, "I have a trophy, I have a trophy!" Like her schoolbuses song, this one went on ad infinitum, but hey, at least she can carry a tune so the "audience" could have been worse off!

We got to Chicago around 1pm and our 2:20 flight was delayed until 3:15. Then delayed again until 4:35. Julia and I decided to take a walk through the airport to break up the tedium. We passed by a clothing shop with headless mannequins ("Hey, Mom, look, losers!") The flight was then delayed until 4:53. Around 5:30, we finally took off for Austin. The girls were exhausted, it was nearing bedtime as the flight progressed, but they really held up well considering. Julia decided to dazzle the people on board with a very loud rendition of "Once Upon a Dream." Madeleine started to fall apart near the end of the flight, and I wondered if she needed a diaper change, but since the fasten-seatbelts sign was on, I tried to change her across my lap. As soon as she got in that position, she assumed I was going to nurse her, then got awfully angry when that wasn't the case. In fact, she yelled out, "Maaaa-meeeee! Maaaa-maaaa!" Now, I'm not delusional enough to think my 7-month-old really spoke my name, but let me tell you, hearing that was enough for me to break down and nurse her after the diaper change, even though it wasn't time.

When we landed and were waiting to get off the plane, Julia exclaimed loudly, "Mommy, are we in Austin, Texas, USA?" That got a chuckle from many passengers around us, so she then said, "Mommy, I call it Austin, Texas, USA. What do YOU call it? Daddy, I call it Austin, Texas, USA. What do YOU like to call it?"

At long last we got to our hotel, got the girls to bed, and woke up today ready to start our vacation. We went out for breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants, Magnolia Cafe, where Julia enjoyed some pancakes and bacon and got to draw on her place mat. She drew "a mean, mean guy with mysterious eyes":

Stay tuned for more Austin, Texas, USA updates as we enjoy our vacation...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The ement mixer doing instruction

While we were in the car on the way to my piano lessons this afternoon, Julia was doing her usual thing of remarking on everything she could see out her window, and she announced, "Hey, Mommy, I just saw an ement mixer!" "Oh, a cement mixer?" I responded. She has been frequently pronouncing this incorrectly, though we had talked about it on our last drive and she was able to correct it. After hearing the proper pronunciation, she replied, "Yeah, a cement mixer. Mama, sometimes I forget to say it the right way, so I said ement mixer instead of cement mixer. Sometimes I don't do it the right way, because I'm still learning." I find it interesting that lately she's noticing words she is not pronouncing correctly, like when she told me, "Mom, I said it like you do, 'Creat-ee-ive Movement!" which was one notch closer than her usual "Creavive Movement." And just the other day she said, "Mama, now I say it the right way and I know it's CONSTRUCTION, not INSTRUCTION." (I always found it quite amusing that the diggers near our house were doing "instruction," but her conjunctivits was an eye "confection.")

Though she's really making strides with her pronunciations of tricky words, her observation still has a little ways to go... shortly after discussing the ement mixer, she cried out in delight, "Look, Mama, I see a policeman riding in a REGULAR car!" I looked around to try and figure out what she was talking about, and realized she was pointing to a Brookline Driving School car, with the school's name on top of the car in the way that a cab has TAXI on its roof. So, not quite a police car, but at least I see what made her think of that.

And on the way home from piano lessons, she declared, "Mommy, I just saw a MESSED-UP house! I saw a house with a messed-up garage! It was messed up and had no coloring on it. It was kind of white, but a little bit brown. I think maybe it was old. Mama, I guess some people really like white, so they decide to have a white house." I'm still not entirely sure what a "messed-up house" with a "messed-up garage" looks like, but I told her perhaps the house/garage were being re-painted.
(Or perhaps it was about to be torn down and soon there will be an ement mixer there doing instruction and building an entirely new, non-messed up, full-of-color house...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Little things

So, now that Madeleine is crawling all over the place, she is getting her hands on things that she really shouldn't be sticking in her mouth. I keep realizing that my attempts to baby-proof are far from complete. Despite the fact that we have safety gates up, all of Julia's toys with tiny parts have been moved up to her room, and things like markers, play-dough, etc. are kept up on top of the art table (as opposed to underneath, where they had once been, to keep the top of the table clear for doing art), Madeleine is still managing to get things in her mouth that don't really belong there. Some recent examples include a rock that had obviously fallen off someone's shoe onto the living room rug, an old red pepper that had dropped under Julia's seat one evening after dinner, and a stray piece of Julia's artwork that had been blown off of her art table. Some days, no matter how vigilant I try to be, she gets things in her mouth and eats them and the only way I discover them is by changing her diaper the next day. Last week I found a chunk of the cardboard binding to the book "Big Bird's Copycat Day" in her diaper. Mmmm, delicious.

In my attempts to get every little thing off the floor that should NOT be eaten, I have actually found some toys that had been missing for awhile. We were quite pleased to discover our missing copies of "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Mister Brown Can Moo, Can You?" under the couch, but perhaps most exciting was the return on Sharp Hand... often spoken by Julia in her raspy, spooky voice (Sharp Haaaaaand!):

Sharp Hand hangs out with Julia's little figurines like Elmo, Zoe, Sophia, Aunt Kathleen, Candy Corn, and so on, but they're all scared of him. Specifically, they are all scared that the Sharp Hand is going to get them. I'm sure they're not excited by Sharp Hand's return.

Aunt Kathleen, Elmo, Cole, and Candy Corn.

Per Ethan's request, I dug this old pretend play conversation out of my email account; one afternoon this past fall, I had been at my computer and overheard Julia playing with all her little figurines, and I got such a kick out of what I heard that I started typing everything she said and emailed it to Ethan. Here is the excerpt:

CANDY CORN: (dancing around on the table) Oh, we really wanna do it, oh we really wanna do it, we reeeeally wanna do it!
AUNT KATHLEEN: Really good singing, Candy Corn.
ZOE: I want a turn.
AUNT KATHLEEN: Okay, Zoe, you take a turn. I'll go sit with Candy Corn.
ZOE: (singing) We're really gonna do it, we're going to the show! (To ghost): It's your turn.
GHOST: But I'm really worried that the sharp hand is gonna get me.
AUNT KATHLEEN: (in a soothing voice) No, the sharp hand won't get you.
GHOST: (singing) Everybody in the world, in the world, in the woooooorld.
AUNT KATHLEEN: Good job, ghost.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I woke up this morning to find a whole bunch of surprises for me downstairs! Julia was so excited for me to open my Mother's Day presents:

And my fabulous husband whipped up a delicious pancake breakfast for us:

But I think best of all was this home-made heart banner:

Julia even drew our family on it:

Happy Mother's Day, all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sibling rivalry

MADELEINE: happily and quietly playing with her Leapfrog Learning table.
JULIA: Mommy, I want to play on that side, I don't want this side (pointing to the side of the table Madeleine is standing at.)
ME: Well, Julia, this is Madeleine's toy, and she's playing on that side right now. Besides, you already got to play with this twice today, and this is the first time Madeleine is getting a chance to use it.
JULIA: No, I didn't. I didn't play with it.
ME: Yes, you did. You played with it two times.
JULIA: No, I did not!
ME: Okay, whatever you say.
JULIA: Mommy, I wish all Madeleine's toys could be my toys.
ME: Well, you don't like Madeleine to play with your toys, and you get pretty upset when she tries to touch them, so it's not really fair to say you want to be able to touch all of her toys.
JULIA: laying on the floor and kicking her feet.
ME: Julia, you wanted to go to the playground today, but the answer is absolutely no, because you are not on nice behavior.
JULIA: Yes, we ARE going.
ME: No, I'm sorry, you're not on nice behavior.
JULIA: I don't WANT to be nice. I want to be MEAN.
ME: Okay, that's fine, but I don't want to talk to you if you're being mean, so as soon as you've decided you're ready to be nice, I'm ready to listen.
JULIA: Putting a little doggie toy of Madeleine's on top of the Leapfrog table, then ripping it out of Madeleine's hand as soon as she grabs it. Twice.
ME: Julia, please stop grabbing that away from Madeleine. That's her toy, and it's really not nice of you to grab it from her as soon as she gets her hands on it. That's teasing her, and it's not nice.
JULIA: No, it's not nice to HER!
ME: That's right. It's NOT nice to Madeleine when you tease her.
JULIA: No, it's not nice to YOU!
ME: You're right, it's not nice to me. It makes my heart really sad when I see you teasing your sister.
JULIA: No, it's not nice to ME!
ME: Well, I'm glad you're recognizing that it doesn't feel nice to you when you tease your sister. That means you're showing compassion.
JULIA: (angrily) Mommy, I want you to tease me.
ME: Ignoring her.
JULIA: Mommy, I want you to tease ME.
ME: Ignoring her.
ME: Ignoring her.
JULIA: Putting her play phone on the Leapfrog table.
MADELEINE: Grabbing at it.
JULIA: Mommy, that is NOT my phone. That's a baby toy.
ME: Oh, how nice of you to share it with Madeleine. Here, Madeleine, you can use this.
JULIA: Mommy, I'm not sharing. It is NOT mine. It's a BABY toy.
ME: picking up Madeleine and letting her play with the phone on my lap.
JULIA: Mommy, I do NOT want Madeleine using that. That's MY phone and she can't use it.
ME: Oh, well, you just told me it's a baby toy and it's not yours, so I'm letting Madeleine play with it.
JULIA: No, she can't play with it. That's MY toy.
ME: Well, maybe you should have thought about that before you said it's a baby toy.
JULIA: bringing one of Madeleine's toys over to exchange with the phone.
ME: You need to say, Madeleine, may I have my phone, please?
JULIA: Madeleine, may I have my phone please?
ME: Yes, of course you may Julia, thank you for sharing.

Fifteen minutes later...
JULIA: Mommy, can we please do something fun today?
ME: No, Julia. You blew it.
JULIA: No, I did NOT blew it. Mommy, I did NOT blew it. MOMMY! I did NOT BLEW IT!
Here we go again.......

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Julia performs

Julia has become quite proficient at working the various devices we have around our house, including the remotes for the DVD player and TV, the white-noise machine in her bedroom, and the digital bathroom scale. The latter has been her favorite device of late, and she very proudly taps it with her toe to turn it on, waits diligently for the 0.0 to flash across the screen, steps on, and then announces proudly, "Mommy! I weigh thirty-four pounds!" We then always applaud her for being such a big girl and growing so much and she beams at our praise. I guess yesterday she wanted to really blow my mind because she proclaimed to me, "Mommy! I weigh FIFTY AND A HALF MONTHS!"

And in other skill areas, Julia had her Creative Movement gymnastics class "recital" today, which meant the parents were all invited to attend the last class of the session, and the kids showed off the moves they had learned over the course of the past few months. So Ethan, Madeleine and I all went to watch, and I proudly got my video camera ready, only to have Julia act on her typical group performance behavior:

Never fear, however. As soon as they were performing one-on-one, she was happy to demonstrate her newly acquired skills. Here's a video of Julia going through one of the various floor routines they had worked on:

And here she is doing her bar and balance beam routine, followed by her attempt at a cartwheel:

And finally, the third floor routine - this is actually a replication that she did for me after the performance, because I had pressed the wrong button on my video recorder and didn't actually catch the real deal:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Girls on the move

Though she's not a pro yet, Madeleine has finally gotten the hang of the traditional crawl, rather than the army crawl/body drag thing she has been doing for the past month or so:

And Julia is perfecting her moves as well; many of you know that her favorite activity in our house is galloping back and forth between the kitchen and the living room, an activity which has come to be known as "gallop time" (dubbed so by Julia's Auntie Shannon.) Sometimes she switches things up and she'll walk, skip, or run, but regardless of the type of motion, she loves to go back and forth for what seems like an endless amount of time. I can't help but wonder what the neighbor below our condo unit thinks of the elephantine thumping constantly going on above his head. However, I enjoy seeing the blissful look of joy on her face as she prances between the rooms, and it's a good way to get exercise on days when we can't get out to play. Her teachers at school tell me that every day at 10:30 on the dot she starts prancing around between the snack tables and the story time rug, so apparently gallop time is not limited to our house. For those of you who have not had the chance to see her in action, here is a quick video to give you the basic idea:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fashion flaw

Here is a picture of the outfit Madeleine is wearing today. Take a look at the adorable little three-dimensional flower in the center of her tank top; super cute, right?:

The only problem is, whoever designed this cute little shirt in size 6-9 months must not have actually ever dealt with a 6-9 month old child. What is any baby of that age going to want to do with a big, brightly colored object attached to the front of his or her clothes?

She was going at that flower with such ferocity that I was actually worried she was going to eat one of its petals off. Perhaps this shirt should go back in the drawer until she has moved beyond the obsessively-oral stage.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shoe by shoe

Today we had Neva, Nate and Anja over for a play-date, and the big kids had a ball going through Julia's box of dress-up things. They each wound up with high-heeled princess shoes and fancy hats, and started traipsing back and forth between the dining room and kitchen like little fashionistas in a runway show. Julia even came up with a name for their runway walk - "Mommy, do you know what I'm calling it when Nate and I walk back and forth? I'm calling it shoe by shoe." They were kind enough to stop a few times to do some high fashion poses for me so I could snap their picture:

Madeleine and Anja, on the other hand, still seemed to prefer grabbing at each other's faces, although Neva was able to distract and entertain them long enough for me to get a good smiling shot of the two of them:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A very successful bath

We've had a heat wave over the weekend, and today reached into the 90's, so we've all been sweltering. Madeleine is currently teething and she is an absolute drooling machine; her clothes are soaked after an hour of wear because of all the drool dribbling down onto them. Add to that the sweat from today's scorching heat, and the fact that she's wearing only a diaper to keep her as cool as possible, and she becomes a magnet for every little bit of crud all over the floors she is constantly rolling her body all over. To add insult to injury, she has been spitting up profusely for the last hour or so, with most of the spit-up landing all over her unclothed body and sticking to her skin. So I decided after dinner it was time to give her a bath, and I figured since she's a very solid sitter, I could try sticking her in tub as is, without setting up her little infant bath. I guess the picture I had in mind was of the smiley baby sitting happily in place while mommy washes her, when in reality I should have remembered that this is Madeleine we're talking about. She decided it was time to try and master two new emerging skills, and was repeatedly getting onto all fours in the bath and attempting to crawl around the tub in pursuit of the rubber ducky, slipping and sliding and nearly going underwater several times. I tried holding onto her slippery little body with one hand and hurriedly slathering baby wash all over it, grabbing the cup to rinse her in a totally panicked fashion so I could then grab back onto her as she attempted to crawl off again. At one point she actually flipped over onto her back and nearly went underwater; this frightened her so much that she then just started screaming and decided to work on her other new, almost-mastered skill, pulling up to standing. She kept clutching the lip of the bathtub and pulling her body up, and I'd have to force her back down and quickly try to finish rinsing her hair before she started muscling upwards again. Once I had her out of the bath, I sat toweling her off and brushing her hair, cooing at her about how clean she now was and how much better it must feel, only to have her open her mouth and vomit out an enormous load of orange spit-up all over her newly-clean skin.