Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dragon Dance

"Julia, Daddy really cracked up over your sleep dance pictures that I put on the blog."
"Because, you're funny! You're a funny, goofy girl!"
"Weeelll, you can do a dragon dance, a hat dance, a light dance, a duck dance, a horse dance, a pony dance... and a door dance, and a house dance!"

In case you're wondering, here is what a dragon dance looks like:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Swimming and dancing

Julia enjoyed day 2 of swim lessons this morning, and chattered on and on about it on the way home. That is, she chattered about all the important things: "Mama, TWO girls in my class were wearing UNDERBRAIDS just like me! Mama, the girl with the black hair, her name is MICHAELA. And Mama, there's an Autumn in my class." I commented that Autumn is a pretty name, and Julia responded, "Yeah, it's kind of like the Autumn that was at Kelly's wedding." I was wracking my brain, trying to think if one of the bridesmaids at Adam & Kelly's wedding was named Autumn, and remarked, "There was? I don't remember an Autumn there." Julia was silent for a moment, then corrected me: "No, Mama, you always say AUTUMN and Kelly's wedding."

When we got home, Julia decided she wanted to be a ballerina, so she put on one of her dress-up tutus and asked me to put on the "wedding music" (which really means the "Light Classical" tv channel.) She spent a lot of time twirling around admiring her billowing tutu, then transitioned to her "sleep dance." Wherever she got that idea. Here are some pictures of the sleep dance:

She even showed off her sleep dance to Ethan when he came downstairs for a lunch break: "You wanna see how you do it, Daddy? You just go like this. That's a sleep dance. I learned it by myself, Daddy." Wow, maybe I should rethink the swim lesson thing: who needs instructors when you've got self-taught moves like these??

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cranky-pants and Julia's favorite things

Madeleine has been a fussy, cranky mess today (teething? the miserable heat? tired from not napping well? all of the above?), and while I had to deal with it most of the day, Ethan got his fair share this evening when I had to go out to a chiropractic appointment. This was just before dinner, so he was also trying to get everything prepared to cook, and the usual trick of putting Madeleine in the kitchen in her high chair and entertaining her while he cooked didn't do the trick. Julia wisely informed him that when she wants to have a quiet dinner with no interruptions, she just puts Baby Dashiell in her crib, and so Daddy should try just putting Madeleine in her crib so that the rest of us could have a quiet dinner. She repeated this to me when I returned home, this time with the assurance, "That's what I do ALL the time, Mama. I really do."

Julia has also been something of a cranky, fussy mess today, and again, I think the fact that we had a dangerous heat advisory in effect today has something to do with all our moods. However, we did get to go to one of her favorite places TWICE today - Rosemary Pool! (where she got to wear her "wet bathing suit," meaning the wetsuit with SPF-50 that I recently bought her.) She started swim lessons in the morning, and then I took the girls there for free swim in the afternoon, which put a temporary damper on the cranky-cranks. Speaking of Julia's favorite places, she informed me last night of all her very favorite places to go: "Playtime Village, Creative Movement, Yia-yia's house, Vermont, Texas, The Museum of Science..." After a few minutes she remembered Rosemary Pool and "Aniesani Park" (aka Artesani Park.) And this evening I asked her what her very favorite food of all is, to which she replied, delightedly, "EVERYTHING!" Hmmm. Methinks she is not being quite truthful there. But hey, it's a good answer, I've got to admit...

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Julia has taken an adventurous leap from her usual "one little braid" hairstyle that she instructs me to create every single day. The past few days, thanks to the hot weather, she has requested a "big ponytail," or "an underbraid." What is an underbraid, you might wonder? It is what the rest of the world would simply call a braid:

Julia insists, however, that this style is called an underbraid, despite my attempts to explain otherwise. "No, no, Mama, it's an UNDERbraid because it goes UNDER the back of my head."

And another picture for your viewing pleasure. Madeleine had crawled off into the living room (aka the "toy room" - we no longer have delusions that our living room is actually used for adult recreation anymore) while I was getting ready to go out to dinner for Ethan's birthday last night. When I poked my head in to make sure she wasn't getting into too much mischief, I found her doing exactly what any parent would expect to see their child doing: sitting in a drum, sucking on a tennis ball, happy as a clam. I mean, really, who wouldn't be? What more comfortable place to put your bum than a frame drum, and what more pleasant thing in your mouth than an old, well-used tennis ball?

And finally, some quotes from Julia to finish off this post.

#1 (in reference to the fact that we have one last chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before we've finished the book.)

ME: Julia, how do you think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is going to end??

I am stunned by her powers of deductive reasoning.

(overheard while Julia was playing with her Disney princess reusable stickers and having them "converse")

JULIA: 'Oh, oh, oh, it's me,' said Ariel, shining with twinkly eyes, delighted. 'Not me,' said Snow White shyly.

And I leave you with this one.

"Mama, Baby Dashiell loooves French booty."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Julia works, and Madeleine plays

This morning, Julia decided to play "work." Even though she comes with me regularly to the piano lessons I teach, it must be that her concept of work is defined by what Ethan does, because her game was really playing "Daddy at work." She got her little Pooh computer and her play cell phone and sat at the end of the table. Here's a synopsis of how her game went: she would sit and rapidly type away at the keys on her Pooh computer, with a look of serious concentration on her face. Every two seconds or so, she would chime, "Ding-a-ling-a-ling," then look over at her phone in exasperation, and exclaim, "Oh, it's AGAIN!" Then she would pick up the phone and talk to whoever it was that called (Yia-yia, Neva, Auntie Caitlyn, Auntie Shannon, and Nana.) She would put the phone down and resume her furious typing, only to be interrupted over and over by the ringing phone. At one point, she announced that she was taking a little break, because it was lunch time. Then she said, "But Mama, when Daddy said it was lunch time, he was STILL working. I saw that he was still typing. So I guess I'm NOT taking a little break." Then she opened her computer back up and resumed the cycle of typing and answering phone calls. Finally, she declared, "Mama! It's the weekend!" and packed up her computer and phone and returned them to the toy bin.

Madeleine, on the other hand, is more interested in exploring her surroundings than imitating what she sees. Last night, it was unbearably hot down in the living room, after a day of blazing temperatures and high humidity, so in the last half hour before bedtime, I brought her up to play in her room, where I could turn on the air conditioner. She spent a good deal of the time playing - where else? - under her crib:

And although she had plenty of toys and books to play with,:

she decided to shun them in favor of this aluminum cap, which she flapped around gleefully while saying "Da da da da da da da!":

To each his/her own, I suppose!

And on a final note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ETHAN!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Powers of observation

It is amazing to me, sometimes, to realize how much Julia is overhearing, noticing, and picking up, without Ethan or I directly saying things to her. I suppose I should know better by now, but it still surprises me when she comes out with something that I had never even realized she was aware of. For example, yesterday while we were out in the backyard playing with our neighbors, I mentioned to my neighbor Cynthia that we had to get more work done on our car, which, combined with the work we'd done about a month ago, was really starting to add up. I then commented that we have so many expenses on this month's credit card that it's going to be a pretty hefty bill. Julia unxpectedly piped in with, "Oh, and Cynthia, after we got back from the Texas trip, it wasn't on our credit card!" Referring to the fact that both our hotel and rental car expenses were not on last month's credit card statement, despite the fact that our trip fell within that month's billing cycle. I had commented on that to Ethan after receiving our bill, and Julia obviously overheard and still remembered that information over a month later. On other occasions, she has repeated things that Ethan or I think we've sneakily encoded (Ethan, driving: Oh man, that guy just effed me. Julia: Daddy, why did that guy eff you?) Or she'll catch me doing something, like eating a piece of candy mid-day (no matter how furtive I try to be about it) and persistently ask me why I'm doing such a thing when it's not allowed for her. OR, as she did last night, she will peek out her bedroom window when she's supposed to be sleeping and notice that Ethan and I are out in the backyard talking with Cynthia (with baby monitor in hand, of course!) and we will suddenly notice a little shadow on our back porch and Julia will denounce us for being out there ("Mama, I can't be inside with no grown-ups!")

Of course, she is not always quietly observant. Sometimes, as you all know by now, she is loudly contrary. Yesterday morning, she was mildly cranky that Madeleine was around so she couldn't play with her matchbox cars without Madeleine trying to get her hands on them. She asked me if I could put Madeleine up to nap, and I told her sorry, but it wasn't naptime yet. I could tell she was sort of glowering and feeling grumpy inside, but she didn't throw a fit or make a big deal over it. However, she clearly wanted some space, and I think she wanted something to be upset about, because she told me she needed a time out. I told her that was fine if she wanted some space, but I guess my answer didn't satisfy her. She exclaimed, "Mama, I'm NOT being on good behavior! Mama, I'm hitting EVERYBODY." Okay... I didn't even bother to get into the fact that she hadn't, in fact, hit anybody, or really done anything that was worthy of reprimand. I instead granted her request for a time out (which, in all reality, is just that - a chance to get some space and quiet and get re-centered) and let her go up to her room. So, to sum up this blog posting: Julia's powers of observation when it comes to noticing things said and done by others: phenomenal. Julia's powers of observation when it comes to accurately describing her own actions: completley delusional.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scary puppets

Yesterday afternoon, I took the girls to a puppet show at our town library. The entire show consisted of three separate story acts: The Bear and the Beehive, The Rabbit and the Moon, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Can you guess what Julia was afraid of? The bear? The bees? The man in the moon who turned into an actual man and started dancing around? Nope. It was, in fact, the caterpillar. As he grew bigger from eating more and more green leafs, he apparently grew more and more terrifying to her. As we (the audience) sang "Munch, munch, munch, crunch crunch crunch" while he ate the leaves, Julia moved from an increasingly panic-stricken, "But he's not going to eat us... But he's not GOING TO EAT US, RIGHT MOMMY??" to "MAMA! I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW!" as she clutched onto my arm. After I explained to her that the caterpillar was a puppet on the arm of the puppet lady, and the puppet lady was moving his mouth, and he was NOT going to eat us, she responded with a somewhat disbelieving "Okay..." and sat back down to watch the rest of the show.

Madeleine, on the other hand, sat transfixed on my lap for the first half of the show, staring in fascination at the puppet stage. I had not expected such rapt attention from her, but of course, seeing as she's an 8-month-old, it didn't last. During the second half she preferred to leap off my lap and crawl over to other children and reach out to touch them. However, she is starting to show signs of listening/understanding, which is really exciting. Last night, Julia, Ethan and I were all hanging out in the living room. Madeleine started crawling away, into the dining room, all the way across the room to the kitchen entrance. Unhelpfully, the safety gate between the rooms was open, since we had recently finished dinner and had been bringing dishes in and out. I figured I would need to get up and grab Madeleine and shut the gate, but I decided to take the lazy approach first. "Madeleine! Come here to Mommy!" I called. She turned around at the sound of her name and stared at me, then started crawling towards me. I began clapping and exclaiming over her good listening, which just about put her over the top, and she began crawling even faster, squealing with delight as she made her way to me. As Ethan put it, "All right! She now has the intellectual capacity of a dog." Later in the evening, of course, she decided I was not nearly as interesting as her overwhelming desire to get into the kitchen, but hey, at least it's a start!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Look-alikes (or not), and a Father's Day message

I've been hearing a lot of differences of opinion on Madeleine's family resemblance lately. Some people insist she looks nothing like Julia as a baby, while others remark that their resemblance is striking. I'll let you all be the judge; here is a photo of each girl at 8 months. Who is who?? Feel free to weigh in on whether they really look alike or not:

And on another topic, yesterday was Father's Day. I decided to have the girls make a little video for Ethan while he was at church, with grand intentions of recording a super cute, super heartfelt message to surprise him with when he returned. Unfortunately, Julia had other intentions. All I can say is, we're really engrossed in the potty talk lately...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend travel

The Rowe family took a quick trip down to my mom's house for part of the weekend, which was fun for the girls, although the car rides were a bit longer than usual - and offered less in-car entertainment than usual. In a nutshell, the CD/DVD player ran out of juice about 10 minutes after popping in our first CD, we hit an enormous traffic jam on the way down, and got a flat tire about 15 minutes into the drive home, leaving us with extra driving time and no electronic distraction. Consequently, we had to be more creative in our methods to keep the girls from getting too restless, which led to some interesting conversations along the way. Such as:

JULIA: Why are there no sidewalks on the highway?
ME: A highway is not really a safe place for people to walk or run, so there's no need for sidewalks since there aren't any people out using them.
JULIA: Yeah, because I think if people get too close to the cars, they'll get burned by the smoke!
ME: Well, there's not really smoke coming out of cars. It's not like a rocket ship. It's more that the cars on the highway drive very, very fast, so it wouldn't really be safe for people to be out walking around with the cars speeding by.
JULIA: No, I think people would get burned if they went too close to a car because the smoke is too hot.
ME: Honey, cars don't have smoke coming from them.
JULIA: Yes they do!
ME: They do? Where do you see smoke?
JULIA: The smoke that comes from the BACK of the car!

Late into the drive, Madeleine started to get fussy, so I suggested Julia sing to her:

JULIA: Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky, twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.
MADELEINE: immediately stops fussing.
ME: Great singing! How about "Ram Sam Sam?"
JULIA: A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam, goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie ram sam sam. A raffi! A raffi! Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie ram sam sam.
ME: Good job! Now can you sing "Once Upon a Dream?"
JULIA: I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream... Mama, you're forcing me to sing a LOT of songs to Madeleine.

I then launched into a (probably overly) lengthy definition of forcing and explained that I was simply suggesting she sing to Madeleine, since it was calming her down, and that I was just looking for her to be our backseat helper, but that it was her choice whether she sang or not, and that I did not appreciate her accusing me of forcing her to sing the songs. I guess my speech must have really affected her, because she immediately launched into a deeply enthusiastic, heartfelt rendition of "Schoolbuses."

Here are a few pictures from the visit:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Future drummer?

Perhaps Madeleine is destined to be a drummer. Whenever she gets excited about something, she feels the need to smack her arm ecstatically down on whatever surface is nearest to her. (Julia went through a very similar hand-thumping phase when she was an infant, but she has since abandoned the drumming inclination for her singer/composer ambitions.) In this video Madeleine gives us a few enthusiastic whacks in response to her sweet potatoes:

Madeleine also seems to have gotten the hang of peek-a-boo; not the traditional behind-the-hands version, but a peek-a-boo game above, below, and around one of the dining room chairs (of course!):

Monday, June 14, 2010

On repeat

1:53 pm

JULIA: Mommy, can I have some snack?
ME: No, honey, it's not snack time yet. You just had lunch a little while ago.

2 minutes later

JULIA: Mommy, is it snack time yet?
ME: Not yet, honey.
JULIA: But I'm reeeeeeally hungry.
ME: Well, you're gonna have to wait.

5 minutes later

JULIA: Mommy, NOW is it snack time?
ME: No, Julia, not yet.

2 minutes later

JULIA: Mommy, but I really want snack.
ME: I understand, but it's not time yet.

2 minutes later

JULIA: Mommy, is it snack time now?
ME: Not yet, sweetheart.
JULIA: Mommy, I'm really tired of you saying it's not snack time yet.

Oh. And I wasn't tired of her asking me if it's snack time yet.

And my other persistent child:

MADELEINE: crawling over to my computer cords to try and put them in her mouth.
ME: No, no, Madeleine!
MADELEINE: Ignoring me.
ME: No no! No no touch!
MADELEINE: Looking at me for a second, then resuming her pursuit.
ME: No no touch! I said no! (Picking her up and removing her from the area) Madeleine, I'm really tired of you trying to get your hands on those cords.
JULIA: (consolingly) Mama, it's tough having a baby in the house, isn't it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

House climbing

Madeleine is really interested in Julia's Little People paraphernalia, especially her Little People house (where Cartacarizza, Laurie, Scott, Baby Laurie, Sarah, and Baby Madeleine live.) Not only does she like pulling the aforementioned Little People out of the house and stuffing them in her mouth (thank goodness the new Fisher Price people are way too huge to be choking hazards), but she particularly likes using the house as a means to stand herself up:

But, really, why play with the house upright, when you can tip it over and then climb on top of the whole thing?:

And moving on to Julia, she is still enjoying "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." She wins major brownie points with her composer mother for commenting that the music to Daniel Pinkham's "Advent Cantata" (which we were listening to last night at dinner) reminds her of the music to "Make Way for Ducklings." And as for chocolate factories, she asked me last night, after we'd stopped at the end of another chapter, if Central Market in Austin is a factory. I guess the bulk candy wing of the store must be what she's imagining as we read about Willy Wonka's factory. Glad to know that when we grocery shopped down there we were really taking her into a dream-come-true candy wonderland! When I asked her what kind of candy she would want to try from Mr. Wonka's factory, she asked, "Mama, um, do they have blue?" I assured her there must be blue candy there, and she decided that was her top pick. Perhaps she'll change her mind when she hears about Violet Beauregarde turning into a blueberry, though...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings

Julia recently received a CD of "Make Way for Ducklings," the well-known (to Bostonians, that is) children's story about ducks making their home in the Charles River. This recording is a reading of the story, done by Ted Kennedy, with accompanying music written by the late great Daniel Pinkham, and she has been really into it. She has asked the past three days in a row to listen to it, and even took her breakfast into the living room yesterday morning so she could sit by the speakers and hear it better. While we were listening to it together one afternoon, she turned to me and said, "Mommy, um, Kennedy says 'scootahs'!" That led to a discussion of the Boston accent, and I began pointing out other words, as we heard them, that were pronounced with this characteristic accent: "Mistah Mallahd," "Bawston," "wahtah," etc. Last evening when we sat down to our pasta dinner, Julia said to me, "Mommy! If you had a Boston accent, you would say pawsta!"

We definitely have to make way for Madeleine lately. She is all over - and into - everything! She is now pulling up to standing on anything she can get at, and even stood on her own for several seconds yesterday before easing herself down to sitting. And unfortunately, she seems to think that "no!" means stop, pause and look at the person saying no for a minute, flash them a delighted smile, then resume getting her hands all over the forbidden object. She is also cruising (aka walking while holding onto furniture, the wall, etc) pretty readily at this point, which means she's really going to be trouble! Here are a few photos of her cruising along while holding the beam underneath our dining room table; you can see her position slowly changing as she made her way from one end of the table to the other (you can use the background chairs for reference, since my photo-taking is a little lopsided):

And when she's not playing under that table, she's hanging out under this one:

And finally, since Julia has enjoyed listening to "Make Way for Ducklings" without physically seeing the book and its pictures, I thought she might be ready to graduate to a sparsely illustrated chapter book. We recently took a trip to the library to check out "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (or, if Ted Kennedy had recorded a reading of it, "Chahlie and the Chawcolate Factory") and Ethan and I have been alternating chapters at night. Julia, so far, is really interested in the book, which is great since it's a childhood favorite of both her parents. It's interesting, though; Julia is very much a rule-follower (almost in an obsessive way - she has trouble breaking the routine even if we tell her it's okay on certain occasions) and she gets really worried when other people appear to be ignoring the rules. (As my friend Neva and I joke, she needs a t-shirt that says "Future Hall Monitor.") So throughout the story, Julia has been chiming in with her concerns: "Mommy, but isn't chocolate junky? Then why do they want to be eating it?" "Mommy, but I think Charlie should be going to bed," and so forth. Just WAIT until she hears the things those other wild and crazy golden-ticket receivers do at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer vacation

Julia is now a Teddy Bear graduate; she is officially on summer break and will move on to the Chipmunk class when she returns to preschool in the fall. While she does not seem entirely clear on what "summer vacation" means ("Mama? In the morning when I wake up am I gonna be four?") she will hopefully enjoy getting to the pool this summer and having extra time to play with Madeleine, me, and her other friends in town who will be home from school all day. Last night was the end-of-year "picnic" at her school (which was actually supposed to be an unquoted, actual picnic at DeFazio park, but was moved indoors to her school because of rainy weather) and she got a chance to see her friends and teachers one last time, eat all the frosting off a piece of cake, and get a helium balloon to take home. I will sentimentally display a before and after photo: Julia ready to go over to her very first day of preschool, followed by her very last day, ready to head home:

I guess having one year of school in the bag has made Julia philosophical; she asked me this morning: "Mama? Are you going to grow up to be as big as Daddy some day?" While I have sadly stopped growing, I wouldn't be surprised, given the way that Julia TOWERS over other kids her age, if she one day surpasses Ethan in height. (It's not asking much, honestly.)

Madeleine has kicked off the start of summer vacation by standing up at Julia's baby stroller and pushing it for several steps, opening one of the drawers in our built-in china cupboard, pulling out an old computer-to-camera cord and sucking on it, lunging out of my lap into Julia's and grabbing a fistful of Julia's Fruity Cheerios out of her breakfast bowl, and getting so excited about me while nursing that she had to start whacking me enthusiastically on the breastbone. Yes, I am going to have my hands full this summer, indeed...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Questions and more

Last night when I went into Julia's room to check on her, I found she was still awake, obviously lying in bed with her mind racing. As soon as she saw me, she asked me, "Mama? Was it at Adam and Kelly's wedding that I slept in that bed? Mmm-hmm? Was it?" I love how she just assumes that I can see whatever image is in her memory and answer her question accordingly. In an attempt to get a sense of what bed was in that brain of hers, I asked, "You mean when you were in the little bed, and Daddy was on the floor, and I was in the other little bed?" After she affirmed, I told her that it was indeed Adam and Kelly's wedding. Thinking I had given her the peace of mind that one gets when identifying an elusive memory, I got ready to leave, but clearly Julia wasn't done thinking about the wedding. She followed by asking me, "And where were they?" I explained that Adam and Kelly got married in Vermont, and that they are still living in Vermont now. Obviously, I misunderstood her question. "No, but where WERE Adam and Kelly?" she persisted. I then explained that Adam and Kelly were sleeping in different rooms from the one we were in. "And what room was it?" she wanted to know. Just as I was not able to see the mental picture of the bed inside her head, I unfortunately was similarly unable to psychically see the rooms that Adam and Kelly slept in, having never physically witnessed them. I relayed this to Julia, who then must have switched mental gears, because her response was, "And Mama, there was another one with a ponytail. And Kelly was wearing a bun." "Yes, she was, you're right," I replied. "Why was she?" Julia wanted to know. (Again, she clearly thinks I'm some sort of omniscient presence that knows and understands the thought processes in everyone else's mind.) "I guess that's just what she decided to wear," I answered. Not satisfying enough, I suppose, because Julia proceeded to ask me, "And Mama? Does she wear braids sometimes too?" I assured her that Kelly probably has worn braids before, then high-tailed it out of there with a quick, "Good-night, honey! I love you!" before she could start cycling through all the other hairstyles she could think of...

This morning when I woke up, I came downstairs to find not a series of questions from Julia, but a sentence that shows just how many colloquialisms have crept into her speech lately: "Mama, Madeleine was, like, TOTALLY freaking out, so I gave her some Cheerios." What, is Julia, like, totally a teenager now? And now I'm a little dismayed thinking I must, like, totally talk like that, because I know that, like, Ethan totally doesn't, so she probably picked it up from hearing me!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Julia cleaning, driving, and spelling

Last night, in a somewhat frazzled attempt to sit down and feed Madeleine some pureed veggies and Cheerios while taking a few minutes away from cooking dinner at the stove, I somehow kicked over the box of Cheerios and spilled them all over the dining room floor. I had just finished spooning the last bite of veggie into Madeleine's mouth and knew I needed to run into the kitchen and stir the rice pilaf, so I deliberately left the Cheerios to deal with later. Julia jumped up from the table and said, "Mama, I'll clean then up for you!" I thanked her profusely and raved on and on about what a wonderful helper she is. "It's okay, Mama. I don't mind," she responded sweetly. 30 seconds later she must have become overwhelmed with the enormity of her task, because she then asked, "Mama? Uh, could you help me clean these up?" I had not intended to have her really clean them all up, of course, but appreciated her enthusiastic efforts, and she enjoyed helping me push them all into a big pile and then watch the vacuum zap them up.

On the subject of cleaning up messes, today while I was on the phone with my mother, Madeleine did one of her up the back of the diaper poops, which I conveniently got all over my hand. I had Julia take the phone to talk to Yia-yia while I tried to clean both myself and Madeleine, and I gathered from what I heard Julia saying that Yia-yia had complimented her on "Hold my hand on the Side-waaaaalk!" She then must have asked Julia if she plans on being a singer when she grows up, which prompted this response: "Uh, no, I picked that I'm going to drive a car when I grow up for my job." Yia-yia asked her what color her car was going to be, and Julia replied, "Well, I think I'm just going to use the car that Mommy and Daddy have." She must have more faith in our little 2001 car than Ethan or I do if she thinks it's going to be around in 15 years or so - let alone workable enough for her to drive it as her job! And this is not the first time I've heard her say she's going to drive a car for her job; in fact, it's pretty much her standard response when asked what she wants to be when she grows up. A very funny response coming from the daughter of parents who really dislike driving and who take the kids around town in the double stroller whenever possible instead of going in the car. Maybe I can hire her to run my errands for me 13 years or so down the line - or at the very least, work as my personal chauffeur...

And finally, I share with you this conversation:

ETHAN: (finishing up a conversation with me about a bottle of wine that has been open for awhile) It S-U-C-K-S.
JULIA: Mama, what does S-U-C-K-S mean?
ME: Um, it means it sort of stinks.
ME: (trying to redirect) Julia, I L-O-V-E you.
JULIA: What?
ME: I L-O-V-E you.
JULIA: What?
ME: I L-O-V-E you.
JULIA: Mama, does that spell stinks too?
ME: No. What does L-O-V-E spell?
JULIA: Um, "go?"
ME: How do you spell go?
ME: So what does L-O-V-E spell?
JULIA: Love?
ME: Yes, so what does I L-O-V-E you spell?
JULIA: Mama? Is this a pocket on Dickie Dragon?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A very musical weekend

This weekend was a very musical one for me, and one that required a lot of sitting quietly and listening for the girls. They were really great sports and I couldn't have asked for more from them. On Saturday, I had my recital for all my music students, and Ethan, Julia and Madeleine came to see the performance. Julia, although not always sitting quite still, was quiet as a mouse throughout the whole recital, which is especially impressive seeing as she decided to sit by herself in an empty pew rather than sit with Ethan and Madeleine in the pew behind her, or sit with me up in the front row. Since Ethan was on keeping-Madeleine-quiet duty, Julia was really on her own, and she definitely delivered. The most exciting aspect of all for me was that when we got home, I played excerpts from a few of my students' recital pieces ("Pink Panther," "Fur Elise," etc.) and Julia was able to correctly name which student had played which piece (with the exception of "The Entertainer," to which she exclaimed, "Hey Mama, that's from The Princess and the Frog!") So lo and behold, it seems she may have actually paid attention to the recital. Madeleine, on the other hand, was not so much interested in the music as in the people at the recital, and at the end of the program, when I went up to perform a piece, she was thrilled out of her mind to see me up there in front of the audience. She started doing her guttural "Ah! Ah! Ah!" fake coughing thing, with a big delighted smile on her face, as if, after seeing all the unfamiliar faces going up to perform, she finally spotted someone she knew. (And just about her favorite person on earth, at that.) Luckily, I have mastered the blocking-out-of-kid-noises skill, since that's the only way I'm able to practice music at home, so I managed to tune out all the gagging and focus on my flute playing.

Yesterday, we attended a party organized by our chorus; however, this differed from our usual end-of-the-year gathering in that it was an event specifically designed to celebrate and honor our director's 30th year with the group. So rather than the usual casual, non-structured party we have in June each year, this event actually had an hour of dedications and musical performances in the middle of the otherwise social (eating, drinking, and mingling) affair. The kids had a great time all-in-all; when we first arrived, Julia got to happily munch on hors d'oeuvres and Madeleine was in explorers' delight given that we were in very tight quarters; all she had to do was reach her arm out and she could grab somebody's sleeve, plate, or even grab at the food on other minglers' plates. At one point during the musical performances, she reached out and hooked her pinky in the pinky of the guy standing next to us, and when we let her roam free off in the "kids' corner" (the area of the room where all the kids decided to hang out), she of course went straight for the chairs and crawled around underneath, pulling herself up to standing on the rungs just like she loves to do at home. Julia spent a pretty significant chunk of the party rolling around on the floor in her pretty dress, exposing her undies to the room full of people, and another good chunk of the party playing a wild and crazy game of Ring Around the Rosie with some of the other kids, a version which ended with the kids all pig-piling on each other when they fell down. At one point, she was doing her "gallop time," and our director came over and asked her, "Are you dancing?" She shook her head, then exclaimed loudly, "I'm FANCING!" He didn't quite know what to make of that, and I've gotta say, I don't blame him. Despite her abundant energy during the mingling part of the party, she did, once again, sit quietly during the performances, so I really was proud of her (especially considering I was one of the people performing, which meant Ethan was on Madeleine duty once again and Julia was somewhat in charge of her own behavior.) Madeleine was also quiet through most of the music, although she got a little over excited towards the end and started babbling away through the last performance, as well as during the director's thank-you speech. Hopefully a little voice piping in with "A DADADADADA! BA BA BA!" wasn't too distracting for the rest of the crowd...

Finally, on a completely different note, Julia enjoyed watching the movie "Up" twice over the weekend, since it is currently on Starz: On Demand. She had seen this movie with us in the theater when she was 2.5; she definitely understands it a lot better now that she's older. Which, unfortunately, means she is scared of the "mean dogs" part now that she understands that certain characters actually have malicious intent. She needs me to sit with her during all the mean dog parts, yet she wants her space and independence during the rest of the movie. When I first turned it on for her on Sunday morning, I immediately put my arms around her to snuggle her and sat there thinking how special it was to be cuddling cozily with my precious daughter. Apparently she had a different interpretation of the snuggling, because she said to me, "Mommy, could you please go away now?" Burned! When I got up to head into the dining room, she turned to me and said sweetly, "Mommy, are you so happy I used my manners?" Uh, yeah, that really softened the blow, thanks Julia...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Doop-dop-dop Deep-dop

Julia continues to revel in making up her own songs (and singing them on repeat); with a composer mother and an improviser father, it's really no surprise that she takes such an interest in making up melodies. Her newest composition, "Hold My Hand on the Sidewalk," debuted last weekend as she and Ethan walked to pick up bagels, and it was such a success that we've had multiple performances throughout the week. She even shot the music video last night:

And lest you think she might be a one-hit-wonder (though with "Schoolbuses" in her repertoire, I'd say she's already proven herself), she premiered a second song this week. This song, inspired by Julia's attempts to stop Madeleine from crawling around in the kitchen, goes something like this: "No no in the kitchen-bitchen!" (For obvious reasons I decided this one might not be appropriate to get on video.)

Madeleine has been goofing around in a different way; here she is getting kisses from her teddy bear, which she thought was just about the funniest thing imaginable (although a cameo from Julia distracted her towards the end):

Friday, June 4, 2010

Breakfast conversation

JULIA: Mama, what are those yellow things and those white things in your cereal?
ME: Well, these are oats, and these are corn flakes.
JULIA: But what are those white things?
ME: That's milk.
JULIA: No, THOSE white things.
ME: Those are almonds. They're a kind of nut.
JULIA: Am I allergic to nuts?
ME: No, you're not.
JULIA: Why am't I?
ME: You're not.
JULIA: Why am't I? (concentrating very hard) Why am'''T I?
ME: Why AREN'T you?
JULIA: Yeah. Why am I not?
ME: Most people are not allergic to nuts. Only a few people are. But you have other allergies. You're allergic to tree pollen. Do you know what I'm allergic to?
JULIA: What?
ME: Well, I'm allergic to some animals.
JULIA: Clara, and Halie, and cats!
ME: Yes, I'm allergic to dogs and cats. And what kind of food am I allergic to?
JULIA: Mmmm, are you allergic to nuts?
ME: Nope. What kind of food can I not have because I'm allergic to it?
JULIA: Um, Mama, what letter does it begin with?
ME: M.
JULIA: M... m-m-m... uh, I don't know.
ME: What did I pour in my cereal?
JULIA: Rice milk!
ME: Why do I use rice milk instead of regular milk?
JULIA: Because ya do!
ME: Why can't I have regular milk?
JULIA: Because ya can't!
ME: What would happen if I drank regular milk?
JULIA: You would get sick!
ME: Why?
JULIA: Because... you would!
ME: Because I'm a- (pausing to see if she'll finish the word.)
JULIA: Blank look.
ME: I'm aller- (pausing)
JULIA: Allergic!
ME: Yes! I'm allergic to milk. And I'm allergic to pollen, and to dust.
JULIA: Why to dust?
ME: Well, a lot of people are allergic to dust. Daddy is allergic to dust, too.
JULIA: Mama? Does "d" begin with dust?
ME: Yes it does! (Close enough...)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Madeleine works out

Madeleine has finally figured out how to put her pacifier back in her mouth by herself! Unfortunately, she hasn't yet mastered the art of putting it in the right way:

And speaking of Madeleine, she has been getting more and more active in her jungle gym of dining room chairs. Here she is performing what looks like some variation of pull-ups or other calisthenic excercise. While most pull-ups are done to achieve upper body strength, Madeleine's goal instead seemed to be to get her mouth on one of the horizontal chair rungs so she could suck on it:

And finally, on the subject of Madeleine's workouts, she is crawling all over the place; however, her crawling style doesn't exactly match her excited determination to get from here to there. Instead, she sort of plods along, looking much like a cat stalking its prey, except for the fact that she smacks each hand loudly on the ground rather than sneaking up stealthily. She is also going through the fun stage of screaming every time I (or whoever is playing with her) leaves the room, then she proceeds to take off in her measured, deliberate crawl after me (or other person.) Ethan and I find something so amusingly pathetic about her slow, plodding crawl, with her head hanging down and her ongoing wail of injustice. Last night, I was in the living room with Madeleine, who was happily playing with toys on the rug. I was exhausted and resting quietly on the couch, whereas Ethan and Julia were in the kitchen being raucous and making all sorts of noise. Madeleine had her back to me, and she must have forgotten I was in the room with her, because at one point she heard Julia exclaim something in delight and then press the button on her talking fridge magnet set, and before I knew it, Madeleine began wailing and started her pathetic woebegone crawl off towards the kitchen. I had to call her name over and over to get her to stop for a minute, turn, and look at me; by this point she had gotten all the way into the adjacent dining room, and as soon as she saw me on the couch, she resumed her wailing, turned her body around, and started her slow, pathetic crawl back into the living room.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day fun

Yesterday, to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, Ethan and I took the girls to Artesani Park, which is a playground and water play area right on the Charles River; in other words, a perfect location for a beautiful spring day. The girls were crazy with excitement over the water park - Julia galloped back and forth between the sprinkler fountains and the wading pool, and Madeleine ecstatically whacked her hands against the surface of the water making loud quacking-duck sounds and getting all the more delighted when she splashed herself in the face. She even decided to take off crawling around in the wading pool:

Whereas Julia chose to squat down over the sprinklers so that the water was shooting directly against her bum:

After the pool, we changed into our clothes and the girls got to play on the playground for a bit, then we popped them into the jogging stroller so that Ethan and I could go for a run and take them for a ride by the Charles River. The change of scenery was exciting for all of us, but Julia seemed to especially love it. She took delight in pointing out everything she saw: "Mama! Look! Motorboats!" "Mama, I see ANOTHER boat!" "Look, Mama, ducks!" Perhaps the ducks are what inspired Madeleine, because she spent a fair amount of the ride continuing to quack excitedly, though a significant chunk of the ride was also devoted to chewing on the shoulder straps of her seatbelt, as well as smiling at me with utter joy and flapping her arms around with glee.

We stopped near the end of the run to take a quick picture by the river:

then headed home to barbeque and enjoy our dinner out in the backyard, complete with a strawberry muffin for Julia for dessert, and a tasting of the filthy picnic table leg for Madeleine's dessert.