Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Camels that Moo

Today it was Madeleine who was playing Little People at the windowsill:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Little People go Swimming, and Julia doesn't

The Little People had an incredible adventure this afternoon, making their way across a bridge and jumping an astronomical distance up to the windowsill, all in order to swim in the pool and try going underwater for the first time. Everyone who was everyone was there: Pilot Paula, Police Officer Patrick, Sarah, Maggie, Sonya Lee, Grandma & Grandpa, and even Eddie, who was too shy at first to join the pool party, but ultimately summoned his courage and took the (literal) plunge. Not only did the Little People embark upon this great outing, but Julia delivered it in epic form. I am pleased to present to you a snippet of THE LITTLE PEOPLE OPERA:

I'm guessing Julia's underwater theme has something to do with the fact that swim lessons have been canceled for the past two days due to overly high chlorine levels at the town pool. To make up for the disappointment of missing today's lesson, we had a friend from Julia's school over for a play-date, which was a lot of fun for all kids involved. Madeleine worked herself so hard trying to keep up with the big kids that she took a good, solid 3-hour nap this afternoon. Instead of being shy or wary at all when our guests showed up, she immediately warmed to Julia's friend as well as to the friend's siblings and mother; in fact, when the mother was ready to leave after making sure her daughter was feeling comfortable with a drop-off play-date, Madeleine began to sob and reach for this other mother, crying out, "Courntey! A goin! A Courntey!!" Luckily, the real Courntey's remaining presence was enough to calm her and get her re-interested in the excitement of trying to join in everything her big sister and friend were up to.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer swim lessons begin today for Julia, and she has been so excited leading up to the big day that she decided to get a little extra practice, even around the house:

To add to the excitement over the weekend, the girls (and of course their parents!) had a great time with their Nana and Gramps, who came for a visit yesterday. We all took a trip over to the town pool together, where Julia got to show Nana and Gramps the moves she learned at swim lessons last summer and warm up her swimming muscles to get for her first lesson today. Madeleine was more interested in stomping her feet in the shallow water and taking trips down to squeal in delight at the painted turtle in the middle section of the pool. Here are some pictures of Madeleine with Nana and Gramps, or, as she was convinced they were called:

Madeleine and Gramps

Madeleine and Uncle Mike

Last night as I put the girls to bed, Julia sighed contentedly, "Mama, I had fun with Nana and Gramps today." Madeleine, as well, voiced her happiness over the visit as she laid in her crib: "A fun a Nana Gramps a UNCLE MIKE!" Between Cinderella, Courntey, and all the Uncle Mikes, Madeleine is well on her way to having her own collection of invisible friends similar to Julia's Mister Cause-Cause and Cudda and so forth. I dare say Mister Cause-Cause and Uncle Mike banding together would be a force to be reckoned with.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Ethan!

The girls gave Ethan a warm and loving waking-up this morning, climbing into bed to snuggle him and say "Happy Birthday Daddy!" (or, in Madeleine's case, "Happy Daddy.") After a brunch of bagels, scrambled eggs, and coffee, Ethan was treated to the various cards Julia had made for him, as well as a pile of presents from me. Julia huddled beside him as he opened his presents, realizing by around present #4 that they actually had nothing to do with her as either giver or receiver. "Uh, Mommy, did I get Daddy any presents?" she asked, looking around the table to see if there was anything she could give to him. Not to be hindered by the fact that I had chosen all the gifts independently of her, Julia scampered off and quickly returned to the table with a used gift bag containing one of her books inside. "Happy Birthday!" she exclaimed joyously, pulling out Ethan's favorite (voice dripping with sarcasm here) book, "The Bear Detectives." I think this is one of the perfect examples of "It's the thought that counts." Julia really handled the fact that it was somebody else's birthday with grace today; in past family celebrations, she insisted on opening our gifts for us, while today she was happy to simply watch as Ethan opened his gifts, brightly declaring, "Well, THAT was fun!" after he had opened the last one.

Perhaps part of what made it easier to share the gift-receiving limelight is the fact that the girls obtained a huge pile of books yesterday from their beloved baby-sitter, Jeannie. Among the books is a new "Sleeping Beauty" paperback, which Madeleine quickly adopted:

This morning, as we were letting Daddy sleep in, Madeleine and I had the following conversation about this new book:

MADELEINE: A Cinderella!
ME: Is it Cinderella?
ME: Yeah, there's a castle.
ME: Is there a dragon in the castle?
MADELEINE: (opening the book to show me the following page):

MADELEINE: Uh-oh! A daddy colorin' a PAPEW!
ME: Did you color on that page?
MADELEINE: Colorin a daddy!
ME: Is that Daddy?
MADELEINE: Yeah, a Daddy. Efan!
ME: It's Ethan?
MADELEINE: Yeah, a Efan. Efan!!! Air AAAAAHHH yoooooooooo?
ME: Daddy's sleeping.
MADELEINE: (making snoring sounds.)
ME: Today is Daddy's birthday! We get to sing happy birthday to you! We have to figure out what to make for daddy's breakfast. I wanted to make pancakes, but he said he'd prefer bagels.
JULIA: I want pancakes too!
ME: Me too, but Daddy gets to choose because he's the birthday boy.
MADELEINE: Aunt mancake! A mancake!!

Don't worry, Madeleine wasn't too heartbroken about forgoing her mancake. As soon as we were in the car (Ethan behind the wheel, of course) with the bag from Cafe Fresh, it was all about "Aunt baaaagelllll!!! Aunt a baaaaaaaaaageeeeellllll!"

Hoping the day will be a relaxing one for the b-day boy. Happy Birthday, Efan Rowe!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

With three straight days of rain and my driving prohibition, we Rowe girls have had to go to extra efforts to entertain ourselves. Some of the ways in which we have stayed busy over the past few days:

A trip to Plaster Fun Time, where Julia got to paint a Little Mermaid figurine to keep on her special decoration shelf in her room, and I got to paint a letter "M" to hang in Madeleine's room. Of course, seeing as Plaster Fun Time is in the next town over, getting there entailed a 2+ mile walk through the rain, pushing Julia in the stroller, but she was a great sport about it. Since Ethan was working from home for the day, I was able to leave a napping Madeleine at home and get some one-on-one time with Julia, and when Madeleine awoke she and Daddy came to pick us up and spare us the walk home. We had just about finished our artwork when Ethan and Madeleine came waltzing through the door, Madeleine's face breaking into a radiant smile of delight upon seeing us. Her euphoria was short-lived, unfortunately, as she spotted a Snow White figurine upon the shelves of items to paint, and suddenly realized she had been left out of the fun. "Aunt a Cinderella! A Cindereeellllllaaaa!" she wailed, clutching me around the legs in despair, completely disinterested in her letter M. Figuring she might want a chance to go out and try her own hand at some artistic creations led us to our next outing of the day:

Arts and Crafts hour at the library. Here the girls are making spiders, which Julia took very seriously (counting and double-counting her spider legs to be sure she had 8), while Madeleine took the opportunity to decorate her fingers with glue from the glue stick. Thankfully, despite the relative disinterest in the finished products, Madeleine was thrilled to be included and "allowed" to try out all the art supplies, even if she did have a melt-down because she wanted to try and drink out of the straw that was attached to her star-shaped hand-crafted magic wand.

The girls have continued with their dressing up, with Madeleine maintaining her interest in the astronaut helmet and Julia mixing it up with all different dress-up combinations. Check out her newest look below:

We have also been reading lots and lots of books, or, when I'm feeling too exhausted to continue reading, the girls fill in their own words to go with the pictures. As I lay drowsily fighting off sleep the other day, Madeleine flipped through one of her big picture books, pointing out the various things she saw. I was shaken out of my near-sleep fog by Madeleine saying, "TWUCK! Airpane. Remember? Remember? (tapping me over and over.) Remember a airpane?" I'm so glad the trip has stuck with both girls so deeply even after a week of being home. I think the fact that we were visiting family made it particularly special for all of us.

Tomorrow looks like more rain but at least it's the weekend so I will have my designated driver on hand!! Who knows what kind of outrageous adventures we'll be able to have if we're able to go by car! Stay tuned to find out...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cinderella and the Bapboom

Julia has kindly shared some of her Polly Pockets with Madeleine this week, allowing her sister to join in some of the pretend games in Julia's room, and even permitting Madeleine to take a Polly Pocket or two downstairs to play with. Madeleine recently became very attached to the Snow White figurine (or, as she calls her, Cinderella) and has been carrying it around the house, taking her on all sorts of adventures. Snow White has had a dangerously wild ride, facing all kinds of perils, none quite so treacherous as... THE BAPBOOM!!! (Duh duh duh...)

Madeleine ran to me frantically for help, wailing, "Uh-oh! A Cinderella! Stuck! Get it?"

I wonder when she will learn not to stick things in things.

Poor "Cinderella" did not escape unscathed:

Okay, I'm kidding. She was already one-leg Snow White when she went into the vacuum. Of course Julia was so generous about sharing her broken, gimpy Polly Pocket.

In a recent development, Madeleine has finally caught on that some princesses have names other than Cinderella, and has now started referring to Snow White as "Snowman." We're getting there...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dress-up and photo browsing

In the latest Little Mermaid installment, Ariel sets her sights much higher than a sailor prince she rescues from the sea. I present to you the newest sequel to The Little Mermaid: Ariel and the Astronaut:

Things got really interesting for the astronaut, though, once Binky Cowie came into the picture:

Alas, Ariel was shunned for the astronaut's true love.

On another note, Madeleine and I looked at vacation pictures together this morning, and here is what she had to say about the following photos:

"A Madeleine, a eating ice fweam TWUCK!"
(Close, honey. Cupcakes.)

"A Juchie, a Madeleine, ice fweam TWUCK!"

ME: Madeleine, who's this?
ME: Uncle Dave, yes. And who's this? (pointing to Emily)
ME: Baby...
MADELEINE: Baby who.
(I have been prompting her to label the particular babies we know lately by saying "Baby Who?" after she points out "baby!" Apparently she now thinks "Baby who" is an actual name.)
ME: It's baby Emily. And who's this? (pointing to Aunt Sarah.)
1 for 3, at least.

ME: Madeleine, whose house is this?
MADELEINE: Doggie animal!
(I guess this means she thinks Clara is the head of household, since "doggie animal" is the affectionate way in which Shannon refers to her dog.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dinner time math lessons

The girls tried their hands at counting last night during dinner:

JULIA: (pointing to one finger at a time) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Nine fingers! (looking confused.) Wait, I have ten fingers. That can't be right. (counting again) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Ten fingers!
ME: Great job, Julesie!
MADELEINE: One, two, fee, four. Four finners! (Looking around proudly.)
JULIA: Madeleine, can you count to eleven?
MADELEINE: Twelve, firteen, fourteen.
ME: (cheering and clapping) Hooray, Madeleine!
MADELEINE: (pointing at one finger at a time) One, two, fee, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.
ME: Good counting, Madeleine!!!

In the "too much of a good thing" category, it soon became clear that Madeleine was so distracted by counting that she had no interest in eating her cheeseburger, so I decided it was time to re-direct her attention.

ME: Can you eat your dinner please?
JULIA: Who are you telling it to?
ME: Madeleine.
JULIA: Why, Mama? What is she doing instead of eating? Counting?
ME: Yup. Madeleine, can you eat your burger?
ME: Burger, Madeleine, not tiger.

This of course generated giggles all around the table, leading to repeated growling performances and expectant looks around at all of us. Before I knew it, the entire table (myself, the lone hold-out insisting on the importance of eating dinner, excluded) was loudly growling and exclaiming "TIGERRRRRRRR!!!" and causing a general raucous uproar. Happily for me, the growling did not come to an end even after dinner had been eaten. As I changed Madeleine into pajamas and got her ready for bed, she entertained us both with more growling: "GRRRRRR!!! Tiger! No, no, Cwawa, no gowwing!"

I guess Clara's growling is as threatening to her as a tiger's. ???

This morning the growling has been forgotten, but she did get on a repetitive loop with her little people as they climbed into the orange dump truck, exclaiming "I'm SWEATY!" to each other over and over again. The things kids pick up. One never knows what to expect.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bus ride adventure

Today the girls and I got to try out the public transportation in our town, as I am on driving restrictions for the next 6 months. We decided to take the local bus over to the Y so that I could get in a workout without having the added workout of trying to walk there and back with the kids. While I am obviously not thrilled about relinquishing my driving privileges, I can at least say that the girls were thoroughly excited about riding on the bus. As Julia put it, "Taking the bus is WAY more fun than driving!"

The ride home would have perhaps been equally as exciting had we not been stuck waiting a half hour for the bus to come. Julia began to weary of the wait, wisely pointing out to me, "Well, Mama, THIS was not part of our plan." "What was not part of our plan?" I asked her, running after Madeleine for the umpteenth time as she tried to take off down the sidewalk. "Waiting FOREVER for the bus to come!" Julia clarified, still finding ways to keep herself occupied as she hopped around the sidewalk holding two sticks and singing a song about "Doo doo doo, I love you!" It doesn't seem like the long wait scarred her too badly, since after we got off the bus and were walking towards home she told me that "riding the bus was an adventurous wonder!"

The bus got us home well past the girls' usual lunch time and Madeleine's nap. To make up for lost time, when we got home I immediately served the girls lunch, before even getting into the shower or stretching. Madeleine decided not to stay put at the table with her food, and went charging off into the living room after I handed her a banana (exclaiming "YAY! Manna!"), subsequently managing to lose the banana within the first few minutes of taking hold of it.

"Madeleine, where did your banana go?" I asked her, to which she reassuringly replied, "A manna it's under blanket." "Under what blanket? Can you show me?" I asked, beginning to search the living room. "I put a manna under couch a under blanket," she responded, as if it was perfectly obvious where the banana was hiding. "Can you show me?" I prompted again, receiving a wide-eyed, enthusiastic "Uh-huh!" in return, followed by aimless wandering around the living room, calling out, "A manna! Manna?"

I still haven't found it.

After getting Madeleine to nap, I had to hold off just a bit longer on my shower as Julia had a sudden mid-lunch poop attack. After she was finished and had wiped, she began dancing around the bathroom singing an impromptu, brand-new composition: "Vagina, vagina, who likes vaginas?"

My children are brilliant.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vacation ends

We Rowes are all a bit sad to be home and back to reality after such a fabulous vacation. While yesterday was a loooooong day of traveling, we were at least able to spend the day before, our last full day, thoroughly enjoying ourselves in every imaginable way. Madeleine found even more new ways to get herself into mischief, such as opening the door leading from Auntie Shannon's apartment out into the hallway, completely ignoring me when I reprimanded her, and running out into the hallway all the way down to the elevator before I was able to catch her. Or, if that doesn't strike you as mischievous enough, here's this example: after going for a swim, I brought her up to the bathroom (her bedroom) to get her into dry clothes and into her crib, only to realize I had left all the diapers in the living room. I had already stripped her down nude, so I stuck her on the potty for a minute, figuring if there was any imminent pee it would come out in the potty. When nothing happened after about 30 seconds, I put her back down on the floor, dashed out of the room to grab a diaper, only to be greeted by the sight of my darling little imp splashing around in her puddle of pee on Auntie Shannon's bathmat, clomping around on the floor around it to make pee-prints with her feet. All I can say is: I should have known.

We spent our last day exploring some Atlanta hot spots we'd never visited before: the Childrens' Museum, and Centennial Olympic Park. (Thanks for the wonderful suggestion, Cousin Jessica!!) The girls could not have been more excited about the museum. It had everything one could think of for kids who love pretend play - Julia and Auntie Shannon had an elaborate game of "Halloween" in which they picked their pumpkins at the farm and went home to carve them and prepare an autumn harvest dinner, while Madeleine got to chuck balls around and stick her hands in the sand table. I think they could have stayed there for hours on end, had the museum not closed about an hour after we arrived. Not to worry, though; we next headed to Centennial Olympic Park so the girls could cool off the in the fountains, which was a whole new exciting adventure.

Now, I must point out: here are pictures of my child who is afraid to even dip any part of her face in the pool water, who clutches onto us for dear life if we attempt to let her try floating or kicking her feet on her own in the shallow end:

And my other, fearless child? The one who carelessly plunges off the ledge of the swimming pool, who spontaneously dunks her entire head under the water while I'm swimming her around, who has no qualms about running off out of her aunt's apartment without a grown-up accompanying her? Absolutely terrified of the fountains. She wouldn't even go near them, but she was certainly happy enough to sit a substantial distance away and watch the kids frolicking:

We finished off the day with a grilled dinner out on the patio by Shannon's pool, a bottle of wine for the adults to share, an evening swim, and s'mores cooked in the fire pit for dessert. I don't think any of us could have imagined a better way to spend our last night together.

While it was bittersweet for us all to return home, it was Madeleine who provided the most unexpected lament. After we had settled in a bit, she began asking for Cinderella (aka Princess Mia), whom I had packed, along with other Little People, for the trip. I retrieved Cinderella from the suitcase and watched Madeleine squeal with delight as I handed the Little Person over, but apparently playing with Cinderella at our house just wasn't the same. "Aunt Georgia! Aunt Georgia!" Madeleine began to whimper. Unfortunately, though I was able to give her Cinderella, giving her Georgia was beyond my capabilities.

I expected the kids would be exhausted and sleep late this morning, but au contraire. Julia came to my bedside at 5am to deliver this really urgent piece of news: "Mama. Guess what? I was CONKED OUT."

I suggested she go try being conked out again.

Anyway, here we are, back in the Rowe household, ready to enjoy whatever new adventures come our way this summer. (And whatever they be, rest assured that you can read about them here!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Julia uses her imagination

While driving through Virginia Highlands this morning, Julia randomly began the following conversation:

JULIA: Did you know that lucky means ducky?
ETHAN: And what does ducky mean?
JULIA: It means quacky.
ETHAN: And what does quacky mean?
JULIA: It means squeaky.
ETHAN: What does squeaky mean?
JULIA: It means like a squeaky toy.
ETHAN: Like a squeaky toy, huh?
JULIA: (grinning) Yeah, and a squeaky toy is like... a... PORT-A-POTTY!
ETHAN: So what you're saying is, lucky means a port-a-potty?
JULIA: (incredulous) NOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Funny that it would be absolutely outrageous to say lucky = port-a-potty, yet it's perfectly reasonable for a squeaky toy to equate to a port-a-potty. I guess I'm just something of a dunce because I can't seem to follow her logic.

Once we returned back to Shannon's apartment, Madeleine went into her bathroom pack 'n play ("A binky cow-cow? Binky cow-cow?") and Julia began an intricate game of Little People. Since she narrated everything as if reading a book, I am luckily (port-a-pottily?) able to share the whole exciting game with you:

NARRATOR: It was Sonya Lee's first day of school. She was so excited! She was going to kindergarten.
SONYA LEE: (singing) Ooohh, I'm going to kindergarten, I'm going to kindergarten!
NARRATOR: All the rest were not singing so happily. They were at home getting ready. Some needed to fly.
SARAH AND MAGGIE: (hopping into the orange airplane.)
NARRATOR: The teacher was at the school, and the parking lot was a little one, over there. The tracks were used for balance if any babies came on. The kids walked in. (clacking sound as all the Little People walked across the coffee table.)
PRINCESS MIA (the teacher): Go find a desk, because I'm going to read some stories.
NARRATOR: "Wow! Stories!" they all said. Maggie found a desk in back that was just her size. The other two sat right next to her. Then Grandmother and Grandfather sat right in front of them.

(At this point, Princess Mia read "Dora's Halloween Adventure" to all the kids):

Princess Mia leads her kindergarten class of wildly varying ages

PRINCESS MIA: (after the book): Okay, kids. Now you can figure out what you wanna draw.
NARRATOR: They went over, and they drawed with markers (Sarah and Madeleine), they drawed with pencils (Grandma and Grandpa), and they drawed with crayons (Sonya Lee, Pilot Paula, and Maggie.)
PRINESS MIA: Great job drawing. Now it's outside time!
NARRATOR: They all RAN to the door. And then it was go home time.
PRINCESS MIA: Bye, everyone!
SARAH: Hey, guys, am I going to your house, or to my house?
SARAH: Your house? Okay.
BABY MADELEINE: (getting into the helicopter) Hewwicopter!

The others hopped into the orange plane and were off, happily flying home after their first day of school.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More vacation

The girls had a great time with their Auntie Shannon last night, going out for a pizza dinner, then getting to stay up extra late and eat freshly baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Although they were having a ball, Julia apparently still missed her mommy a bit, telling Auntie Shannon all the things she loves about me (turns out it's my voice and the way that I talk that has charmed Julia so completely.) Julia also showed Auntie Shannon her "loving face" - which is to say the face she makes when she's just loving mommy. Curious about what this looks like? Here's a picture of Julia making her "loving face":

I gotta hand it to Julia; that face absolutely screams "love."

When Ethan and I returned home from dinner, Julia was happily chatting away to Auntie Caitlyn on Skype, while Madeleine had been put to bed in her "bedroom" (the bathroom which adjoins the room the rest of us Rowes are sleeping in.) I think she was a little too overstimulated after a fun evening out with her auntie, however, because when I peeked in at her I found her standing up in her pack 'n play, putting Cowie into the shower stall and dancing him around in there. Needless to say, both girls were up nearly as late as the adults, but on the positive side, they both also slept past 8:00 this morning.

Today we've been enjoying the lovely weather, spending the morning at a nearby playground and then going for a swim in Auntie Shannon's pool before lunch. The girls have also spent some time exercising their creative powers as well, with Julia acting out the character of "Weird Girl," which, luckily, Ethan managed to catch on video:

We're on our way to enjoy a picnic dinner at the park and maybe do a little night-swimming before bed; one thing is for certain - the girls will be going to bed MUCH earlier this evening, whether Cowie and Weird Girl like it or not!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vacation, Days 3 and 4

The Rowe family spent yesterday visiting with the other Rowe family, namely our girls' Uncle Dave, Aunt Sarah, and cousin Emily. We all had a great time catching up, and Julia and Madeleine took to their aunt and uncle very quickly. Madeleine, in fact, seemed to feel an instantaneous attachment to Uncle Dave, actually asking for him over me as we were swimming in the pool. "Want Uncle Mike? Uncle Mike?" she continually insisted. "Uncle Mike" appears to be similar to "ice cream truck," in which the words "uncle" and "Mike" seem to be inseparable terms in her mind and are combined to simply signify the concept of any given uncle. The girls got a chance to play on the playground next to the pool as well, plus watch "The Little Mermaid" and a few episodes of "Dora" back at Dave and Sarah's house; in other words, it was a day packed full of fun, despite the fact that Madeleine came down with the fever Julia had suffered earlier in the week and became something of a cranky basket case by day's end. As we drove back to Auntie Shannon's house WAY past the girls' bedtime, Julia commented on how she would like to move to Atlanta because she loves it here. "And I love Texas," she added. "Mom, don't you just think that Georgia and Texas are the best places that were ever made in the whole world?" I wonder if the fact that we have visited both on family vacations has something to do with her deep abiding love for these locations.

This morning, the Rowe family enjoyed some homemade pancakes to celebrate Ethan's and my wedding anniversary, and the kids watched another "Dora" while enjoying their breakfast. Julia took the time to ask an important question: "Mommy? Why does Dora have such a big head?"

I must admit to having wondered the same thing on more than one occasion.

After breakfast, the Rowes had an exciting opportunity for a photo shoot with a professional photographer we met at the pool where we're staying. The photographer assured us that we got some sweet shots of Julia, though she can't guarantee the same for Madeleine. This shot that Ethan got on his iPhone basically sums up the photographer's experience shooting both children:

The best part of the photo shoot, for Julia, was that she got to go on a scavenger hunt all around the apartment complex grounds, along with the 5-year-old son of the photographer. The kids were fast friends, and were so delighted with the various leaves, petals, wood chips, and rocks they found that they began pleading for bags in which to carry their collection. I managed to find something that would do the trick, though I must say, nothing says beautiful, scenic family photo shoot like plastic doggy-poop bags:

This afternoon we may try a family trip to the zoo, depending on how Madeleine is feeling, which should be fun for parents and kids alike. In the meantime, Ethan, Julia and I are in the midst of a riveting pretend game in which Julia, named Ella in this game, is a student at school who is the best writer in the whole entire world. She therefore gets to leave school early, and come home to me, her mother, who is required to act surprised every day (each day in this game spans about 5-10 minutes) when she arrives home.

I do have to say, though, 9 years down the line and this is exactly where I want to be! I am so thankful for all the wonderful adventures being a member of the Rowe family allows me to have!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vacation, Day 2

While Ethan, Julia and I have been busy recreating, Madeleine has been busy getting into anything and everything she can manage to get into. She has been out of her mind with excitement at being in an entirely new surrounding, full of as yet unexplored niches and objects. She has managed to get into quite a lot of mischief already; for example, climbing, fully clothed in her pj's, into the full bathtub and plonking her entire body down in the water. I should point out that the tub was full simply because she had just taken a bath, been dried off, and put into her pj's so she could go to bed nice and clean. Apparently she wasn't ready to be done bathing yet and decided to take matters into her own hands.

After being stripped out of her wet pjs and changed into a dry diaper, it was time for dinner, followed by a dessert of chocolate cupcakes made by Auntie Shannon. In Madeleine's case, the dessert was more of a chocolate crumble, created by her own hands all over the kitchen floor, and then gobbled back up off the floor:

Today has been a lot of fun for both girls, beginning with brunch at one of our favorite Atlanta eateries, The Flying Biscuit, at which Julia got to actually order mac 'n cheese for her brunch, and Madeleine got to focus her attentions on repeatedly dipping pieces of her oatmeal pancake in my bowl of warm fruit compote. We spent the rest of the morning at Piedmont Park, where the girls got to run all around the playground (or, in Madeleine's case, run off from the playground chasing after a guy with a weedwacker.) We cooled off in the afternoon, following naptime, with a family swim in Auntie Shannon's pool, then had an evening out for burgers and frozen yogurt. Madeleine very proudly ate her cup of fro yo all by herself with a plastic spoon:

All in all, a busy and exciting day for both kids; we'll have to see what new adventures await us tomorrow!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vacation, Day 1

After a very eventful and dramatic end to last week (for those not in the know, I spent a day in the hospital after apparently suffering a seizure), we are finally on our family vacation to Atlanta, GA! Unfortunately, the vacation is not off to the best start, as poor Julia came down with a fever last night and has been feeling awfully miserable today. She's getting some TLC from Auntie Shannon at the moment, snuggling up in the bed in Shannon's loft watching a Halloween movie.

Madeleine has found countless ways by which to entertain herself, rendering all the toys I packed utterly unnecessary. As I write, she is thoroughly engrossed in the activity of opening, closing and reopening the same two cabinets and the same two drawers in Auntie Shannon's kitchen. She doesn't attempt to pull anything out of the cabinets, thankfully, just peers inside, occasionally making comments like, "I don't see it!" and then closes them anew. Earlier today Madeleine had a ball playing with all of Clara's dog toys, loudly labeling each one as she pulled it out of Clara's bed. And here I was worried that the girls wouldn't have anything to do at Auntie Shannon's house unless I brought toys and books along.

We haven't even been here a day yet, but we've still had a chance to do some fun family activities, among them swimming in the warm and sparkling-clear pool at Shannon's apartment complex. Both girls had a blast, and Madeleine was especially adventurous, deciding to try going underwater without giving me any warning, so that as I held her in the water she suddenly lunged forward and plunged her whole head under the water, then came back above surface sputtering and crying. You might think that one experience of the sort would be enough to teach her, but this is Madeleine, after all, so of course there were another two such head dunkings to follow. Julia, on the other hand, finally worked up the courage to put a portion of her chin under the water, which, believe it or not, is great progress for her.

The Rowe family has had two fine meals out in Atlanta so far, one being dinner last night, and the other brunch this morning. Madeleine has proven her adventurous spirit and her inner weirdo without a doubt on this trip, last night in drinking straight from the shaker of parmesan cheese at the pizza restaurant we went to, and this morning in both drinking straight from the cup of creamer that was set down next to my cup of coffee, and in eating the whole pad of butter that was on her pancake plate. The verdict on both: not too tasty. In fact, she even spit the butter back out, declaring in a pained voice, "I don't like it!" Perhaps if she had eaten a pancake instead she would have been happier with her breakfast.

Anyway, we are all hoping that Julia's fever will be short-lived and that she'll be back to her usual energetic self soon, and we're looking forward to more adventures of all sorts down here in Atlanta. We will keep you posted!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Many of you know that Julia and her friend Nate have been friends since toddlerhood, and until they entered preschool and had different schedules, they had weekly play-dates. By the time she was a year old Julia could correctly identify Nate (or, in her words, "Nay,") and his parents, Neva and Thad ("Nefa and Fad.") We are unfortunately not able to get together as often now that the kids are older (for the aforementioned reason), but we still do try to have play-dates at least once a month. It's especially nice to play together because Nate has a younger sister, Anja, who is Madeleine's age (you may recall our pizza dinner play-date with kids running rampant.) Madeleine, however, is not quite as on top of the names of the other kids in Anja's family. While she can identify Anja and say her name quite well, she's kind of off base on the rest of the family. For whatever reason, she thinks that Neva is actually named Courtney, perhaps because whenever we hang out with them she hears Nate referring to me as Courtney and incorrectly assumes that label is for his mom. To further botch things up, Neva, in Madeleine's words, is actually "Courntey." Thad, on the other hand, is "Daddy." Which may possibly be an attempt to say "Thad," but seeing as Neva is me, I suppose it's also plausible that she thinks Thad's name is Daddy, or that since he's fulfilling a father-like role towards her, he actually is Daddy. At any rate, Madeleine and I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon watching videos of her that I have posted on the blog and on facebook ("Aunt Madeleine Twinkle Twinkle ogaime?" "Aunt Madeleine a hide and seek ogaime?") Once I got tired of replaying the same videos, I showed her some recent photos taken over Memorial Day weekend. When she saw pictures of Neva, she immediately pointed to her and said, "Courntey." Despite me correcting her multiple times, every picture of Neva was still "Courntey," so I guess that's what she has imprinted on her brain at the moment.

Speaking of botched up names, Julia came up with a really great silly version of the name "Isa," as in Isa from Dora the Explorer. She sang some really great songs about "Assa" today; songs which repeatedly used the name "Assa" over and over again.

I wonder if Assa and Butt Crocodile are friends.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Julia's new hairstyle

Julia asked for a hairstyle she's never worn before as I got her ready for school today. She was very excited about the finished result:

She felt so special with her fancy hairstyle, in fact, that she decided to glam herself up a bit more, running up to her bedroom to put on some jewelry. She was delighted with her entire ensemble, but was seriously stumped by a really important question: "Mama, do you think I look like a princess, a queen, or a girl having a birthday party?"

I'll let you cast your votes; here are some glamor shots:

She ultimately decided on being a queen, and it wasn't long before she had a daughter, princess Madeleine:

Queen Julia and Princess Madeleine

Madeleine wasn't too keen on the princess game once she realized Queen Julia's vision for the game was that it was bedtime for Princess Madeleine, who had to stay in her bedroom laying on the futon with the door closed (and was reprimanded if she got down to play with puzzles or look at books.) Luckily, it was shortly time for school so the game was able to end quickly without too many tears.

After Julia went to school, Madeleine was no longer a princess and just went back to being her regular self. She even sang her rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for me on video:

I think it might be time to make our Rowe family trio into a Rowe family quartet!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pretend play

Julia and Madeleine engaged in simultaneous, parallel pretend play this afternoon, both oblivious to the others' narration of what was going on in their fantasy worlds (save for the occasional stealing of an idea by Madeleine; after Julia referred to one of her dolls as Clara, Madeleine began yelling out "Cwawa! Cwawa!" in her own game.)

Here is a snippet of Madeleine's pretend game - Cinderella (aka Princess Mia) played Hide and Seek with Project Daddy:

Meanwhile, Julia's dolls went on a train ride to Disneyland, and upon their return home began singing songs about how great they are:

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Today I had my student recital for all the kids I teach, so Ethan and the girls got to sit in the audience and listen to the piano and flute performances. Or, perhaps I should say that Julia got to sit in the audience, while Ethan got to stand up holding Madeleine with all his strength as she wriggled to get down and made loud exclamations throughout. He spent most of the recital either outside the building, or at the very least, outside of the recital room with her. While Julia wasn't exactly perfect (for instance, she thought it would be a good idea to lift up my dress and expose my underwear as she sat next to me in the audience, then after I reprimanded her, to lift up her own dress and splay open her legs), she did sit more or less quietly. (And I use the term "sitting" somewhat loosely, as she spent a lot of the time wiggling around in her seat and turning around backwards to gaze at the kids behind her.) Madeleine, on the other hand, felt the need to make noise the entire time she was in the audience. ("Say Backpack! BAAACKPAAACK!!") Her finest moment, according to Ethan, was during the last student performance, done by a girl who happens to also baby-sit for our girls. Since Madeleine recognized the familiar face, she felt the need to squeal the student's name loudly over and over, occasionally punctuating the name with "FWUTE!" As Ethan was taking her out of the room for the umpteenth time, he whispered to her, "Madeleine, you stink," to which she exclaimed "Stinky BUM!"

I remember, at one of my student recitals a few years ago, thinking Julia was so distracting because she ran up during my performance at the end and banged out a few notes on the piano. Madeleine was in my belly at the time, so I had absolutely no idea what distracting could really mean and that I literally had another thing coming!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Binky, Cowie, and Bingo

Madeleine broke the "binky rule" today, by which I mean she is only allowed to have her pacifier at nap and night. She snuck upstairs to her room and came back down with binky and "Cowie" (her name for her little cow Taggie that she sleeps with; in old blog posts you can see her sleeping with Cowie on her head or face, which hasn't still hasn't really changed.) Since it was so close to bedtime I decided it would be more hassle than it was worth to try and return the beloved items to her crib, so instead I gave her the evening sippy cup of milk that she has each night before bed and planned to bring her up as soon as she was done. Unfortunately, she found herself facing a conundrum. With binky occluding ability to actually consume the milk, she had to make a choice: lose a precious few minutes with binky, or forgo the milk. She attempted a compromise, taking binky out of her mouth for a few seconds at a time to take a sip of milk, then popping it back in. After about 15 minutes had passed and she had hardly had more than a few quick swallows of milk, I came to the conclusion that I had to take matters into my own hands or she would never get to bed. During one of her non-binky moments, as she sipped her milk, I stealthily palmed binky and walked away. I optimistically hoped for out of sight out of mind, but of course she was too smart for that. So smart, in fact, that she had to speak a few full sentences about her missing binky: "Uh-oh! Where binky go? I don't know! (looking around) I don't see it!"

Speaking of smart, I have been attempting to go over the letters of her name with her, just to give her a basic sense of name recognition. Julia was a much easier name to learn, containing only 5 letters, all of them different. I have felt a sense of dread trying to teach Madeleine the 9 letters of her name, with so many e's popping up all over the place. To my happy surprise, however, she seemed to recognize the letters when recited out loud as we played in the yard today.

MADELEINE: Madeleine!

I was so proud of my genius daughter that I had to bring her over to Ethan and Julia and make her repeat her performance, which she did with flying colors.

It wasn't until later on, as I read her a book, that I began to second guess my assumption that she recognized the particular letters as being those in her name:

ME: There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o. B-I-N-G-O...
MADELEINE: (triumphantly) Madeleine!

Nice try, honey, but no.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A night out and about

Last night was an exciting adventure for the Rowe girls; we had an evening out to dinner at Julia's favorite restaurant, followed by a subway ride into Boston to watch Ethan run the Corporate Challenge, a big road race for teams of co-workers from Boston businesses. Of course the girls were out WAY past their bedtimes, but they managed to hold together pretty well.

Some memorable quotes and moments from our dining experience:

Madeleine, on her dinner: "Mmmmmm! CHICKEN!" (she ate an entire breast and a half.) On her broccoli: "No. Uh-uh." (putting the pieces of broccoli on my plate.)

Julia, on eating a bite of her mac 'n cheese: "Mom, but is there really such a thing as mac 'n?"

Madeleine, on eating a bite of her dessert: "Mmmmm!! Ice fweam TWUCK!"

Some memorable quotes and moments from our trip to Boston:

Julia, skipping along through the Boston Common, oblivious to the people walking around her as she veered in and out of their paths, loudly and exuberantly singing to herself and occasionally yelling things to me like "Mama! I had SO MUCH FUN riding the subway!!"

Madeleine, upon seeing two squirrels scampering around on the walking path in front of us: "Duck!"

Julia, on waiting to see the first of the 12,000 runners in the Corporate Challenge cross the finish line, exhibiting her absolute faith in Ethan, "Mommy, is Daddy gonna be the WINNER??"

After the race the girls and I got to hang out with Ethan while he stretched on the Common. I snapped a photo of Ethan with his gals, and you can see how interested they were in sitting with him and that they were not thinking about how fun it would be to run around in the grass AT ALL:

On our train raid home at around 8:30pm, Madeleine decided that instead of showing her fatigue at being out well past her bedtime she was going to go completely manic and... uh... "entertain" everyone on the train. "Twankle twankle little STAR WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" (laughingly looking around to see which strangers were paying attention to her.) "CHU-CHU CHOO-CHOO Twain is comin' OGAIME!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOAHHHHHHH!!" And so forth. I'm sure all the commuters making their tired way home from work were thrilled to have a loud, interfering distraction from their books and cell phone conversations.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gymnastics recital

Julia finished up her gymnastics class with a little recital this afternoon, and afterwards proudly received her applause and a certificate:

Here are some of the highlights from the recital:

Julia models her tuck, straddle, and turn jumps on the gym mats

Vault, jumps, and rolls in both directions

Julia on the balance beam, with Madeleine crying in the background because, after witnessing the vault, she requested, "A Madeleine turn a jumpin on the couch?"
(The answer was no-no.)

A quick bar routine: tuck, pike and straddle

She definitely has a little more work to do on her cartwheels, though:

After the recital, Madeleine finally had her turn jumpin' on the couch, though her favorite activity was hiding in the "cave":

Not really a surprise; she absolutely loves putting herself in things. (If you can't tell based on this picture of her watching Dora while sitting in her baby doll bassinet:)