Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to me

I had a nice birthday today hanging out with my hubby and girls. I think the kids may have even had as much fun as I did, despite the fact that they weren't the birthday girls. Really, I can't blame them; what's not to love about starting the day off with chocolate chip pancakes?:

And then, of course, there was bubble wrap to trounce upon after I opened my birthday package from Yia-yia:

And Madeleine was absolutely entranced with the birthday card Ethan gave me:

"It's CLAWA! Look, it's a CLAWA!"

We headed down to the Boston Common after Madeleine's nap to enjoy the nice weather and let the kids take advantage of the summer activities there before they close for the season. We started off with the carousel:

They both loved the ride, although Madeleine seemed to think she could just switch seats mid-ride and experience all the other animals besides horses. "A sit a DOGGIE? A sit a CAT? A sit a DAT ONE?"

After the carousel the girls had an utter blast splashing around in the frog pond:

Next stop was the Tadpole playground, followed by the Public Gardens:

The best part about the Public Gardens was the Make Way for Ducklings statues. Julia insisted on sitting atop each duck in turn:

While Madeleine preferred to give each of them a hug:

Finally, to end the Boston adventure, we went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants:

We have been hesitant to take the kids here because we didn't know if they would a) sit still through dinner and b) actually like the Ethiopian cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they fulfilled both expectations. In fact, Julia even asked, "Um, Mom, uh, the next time we go to the Frog Pond and go see the Make Way for Ducklings statues, could we go here for dinner again?" And Madeleine, while spitting out her vegetables ("No, fank you.") and eating only a little bit of food in general was still on quite amazing behavior, sitting still in her chair without even an attempt to get down or tip over the woven basket table. She seemed fascinated with the decor of the restaurant, although she insisted, a bit disturbingly, on pointing to the woman in one of the pictures and shouting, "It's MOMMY!" repeatedly:

The birthday finished off with Julia and Ethan singing to me while bringing me a chocolate tofu pie complete with lit candle (although all we had was one of the two 3's needed to announce my age.)

Julia had already eaten a cookie for dessert, but was clearly concerned about my birthday happiness, because she asked, "Mom, can I please have a piece of pie after my cookie so I can make your birthday even better?" And she did, and she did.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Vermont and back

This past weekend was hugely exciting for Madeleine. She finally got to hang with the REAL UNCLE MIKE!

The girls had an absolute blast in Vermont; so much so that Julia spent a significant part of the drive home lamenting the fact that we had to leave. Not only did we get to take part in the beloved summer activities like riding the boat out on the lake and helping Nana in her garden, but we got to celebrate Gramps's 70th birthday with lots of different relatives. I especially loved seeing the girls play with their cousin Dash and really getting to know him. Even if they didn't want to sit still to pose for a picture documenting our happy family reunion:

And of course, the girls wasted no time showing off their true colors to the rest of the Vermont household. In a performance that perfectly showed off their individual, particular weirdnesses, Julia and Madeleine put together an impromptu interpretive dance to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." While Julia sang and pranced around doing made-up ballet moves in the family room, Madeleine decided to lay herself down in the middle of the living room rug and start fake snoring. As Julia nearly tripped over her sister in her state of dancing and singing oblivion to the world around her, Madeleine requested song after song so that she could continue her snoring performance on the floor. My children aren't weird AT ALL.

Speaking of snoring, during our last night in Vermont, I slept extremely fitfully due to Ethan's grizzly bear snoring and the chilly temperature in the bedroom (thanks, Hurricane Irene, for messing with our summer weather!) I thought I was pretty quiet in my requests for Ethan to a) cuddle up against me to warm me up and b) lay on his side to try and mitigate the snoring. After all, Madeleine was in the pack n play at the foot of our bed so I didn't want to speak too loudly. However, she was quick to prove herself as someone who doesn't miss ANYTHING when, upon waking in the morning, her first comments to Ethan were "A Mommy SNORING! Mommy's really CHILLY! A Mommy's COLD!"

All in all, it was a great trip and a wonderful family reunion. The girls have enjoyed seeing pictures of the trip to reminisce, and if Madeleine starts missing Uncle Mike too much, I'll just have to take her down to the banner at Town Hall so she can look at his picture there.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Over the Day

Julia's newest compositional masterpiece, "Over the Day."
(N.B. this title is not set in stone; in the words of the composer, "It could be 'Over the World' or 'Over the Day")

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last week, on a rainy day, I took the girls to the library to play. On our way out, I allowed them to choose one DVD each to rent and take home. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, chose Dora. Julia decided to turn down all of the Disney movies I showed her, and instead chose a 30 minute Sesame Street montage called "Elmo Says Boo." When we got home, she immediately wanted to watch it, and little did I know a video geared towards toddlers about Elmo would provoke so much fright in my nearly-five-year-old. "MOM!" I heard her scream at one point during the video, so I ran in, and as soon as I saw the sketch on the tv, I was transported to my childhood and the sheer terror I felt at this particular sketch. Does anyone else remember this? Were any of you as freaked out by the dancing statue as I was?:

Ethan had no recollection of this particular scene, so last night we sat down as a family to watch it together. Thankfully, Julia has gotten over her fear and now finds amusement in the dancing Ernie statue, and Madeleine was completely unphased by any spooky elements of the skit. "Look! It's Burp!" she exclaimed, pointing at the Bert statue. "She's DANCING!" she announced as the Ernie statue tap-danced to "Rubber Duckie." Apparently she is Ethan's child, since he was quick to proclaim that he found it unfathomable that such a scene could inspire fear even in a child.

As I put Julia to bed last night, her mind was still on the pyramid scene:

JULIA: But Mom, do you think Ernie and Bert were really in the pyramid?
ME: No, I think they were pretending they were exploring a pyramid, and it was all in their imagination.
JULIA: But why do you think they were just pretending?
ME: Well, the pyramids are very, very far away, and it's not easy to get there. And they're not the kinds of things you can just walk into and start exploring.
JULIA: But why can't you just walk in?
ME: Well, they're very popular. Lots of people want to visit. It's called a "tourist destination." So you don't just get to walk in all by yourself and explore. It's like when we go to the aquarium, we can't just walk in and look at the fish all by ourselves. We have to stay in line and pay to get a ticket to go in.
JULIA: Well, what other places do you have to buy a ticket?
ME: Most places that we go. There are some places that are free, like the library, or the playground, or the park.
JULIA: But why do you have to pay money at most places?
ME: Well, because they're businesses and THEY need to make money. That's why Mommy and Daddy both need to have jobs, so we can make money to pay for the things we do. What kind of job do you think YOU might want to do when you're grown-up?
JULIA: Well, I'm not sure yet.
ME: That's okay! You have lots of time before you have to decide.
JULIA: Maybe I'll be a musician.
ME: You'd be a GREAT musician.
JULIA: Are you and Daddy musicians for your job?
ME: Well, Daddy has his church choir job and he's a musician for that. But he's mostly an engineer. I'm a musician for my job. That's why in college I studied music. So I could learn everything I could about music so I'd be ready to get a job doing music.
JULIA: (thoughtful) Well, Mom? Are there any colleges you can walk to from Needham?
ME: Sure. Why, are you thinking you want to still live here when you go to college?
JULIA: No, I'm just thinking that I don't want to break any laws about driving to get to college.

Apparently she thinks she'll be going to college in the next 2.5 months before my driving restrictions are lifted. I mean, she's really bright, but I think college at age 5 is a bit of a long shot...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gymnastics class

Julia decided that we should play "gymnastics class" today, and she would be the teacher. She pulled some books out of the bookshelf for us to sit on so we would know where our spots were, and once I was in place, she was ready to give instruction.

I had expected she'd be modeling different gymnastics moves and was sort of dreading having to mimic them. But little was I prepared for what a Julia gymnastics class would involve.

"Okay, mom, here's what we do," she commanded, opening her play tool kit and handing out hammers and saws to Madeleine and I. It turns out that gymnastics class entails carrying out play construction on the living room floor, trading off tools every few minutes, and then getting an entirely new set of tools a few minutes later. I'm not sure what Julia thought she was doing in her Creative Movement class, but I can guarantee it wasn't hammering and sawing on the gym floor.

Once Julia was satisfied with our construction skills, we finally progressed to some gymnastic moves. Thankfully, I was spared the labor of having to imitate the tricks Julia modeled for us. Instead, I had to make sure Madeleine didn't break her neck as she enthusiastically threw herself into the various postures Julia was showing us.

Speaking of Madeleine, today was a typical day for her, complete with cramming her body into various spaces that aren't intended to hold a human child:

I conclude this blog post with a Madeleine quote, announced to us as she ran around the living room instead of eating her dinner:


Monday, August 22, 2011

Back at home

The girls thoroughly enjoyed our trip to CT, although all the excitement, stimulation, and late bedtimes definitely wore them out. I turned around to check on them as they watched "The Little Mermaid" during our drive home yesterday and saw this:

She had actually pulled her blankie, kitty, and binkie out of the bag next to her in preparation for her nap. She had, in fact, already taken her afternoon nap at Yia-yia's house, but hey, what's wrong with a little 5pm pre-dinner snooze?

Julia seemed to think it was a good idea too:

After seeing everybody at Yia-yia's house, I'm not 100% sure Madeleine understands that Yia-yia, her aunties, and we Rowes all actually live in separate places. I'm pretty sure she thinks that her aunties and Yia-yia come as one package (especially given that she couldn't tell the difference between Auntie Shannon and Auntie Caitlyn half the time.) She definitely didn't seem to understand that her aunties also left Yia-yia's house to go to their own homes. Here's her world vision of where everyone suddenly disappeared to once we were back at our house:

ME: Where's Auntie Shannon now?
MADELEINE: Auntie Shannon's at a CVS!
ME: Where's Auntie Caitlyn?
ME: Where is Yia-yia?
MADELEINE: Yia-yia went to STORE!


Today we got back into the swing of things and had some fun around our town, taking the sixxy-nine bus to the Y in the morning, and going to free swim in the afternoon. Julia was beaming with pride at my praise for her ability to swim many strokes without needing to put her feet down on the bottom of the pool. She then wanted to know if she looks like a "real swimmer," and came up with the following game: "Mom, I'm going to show you all my fantastic swim moves, and you watch, and pretend that I'm a REAL swimmer!" Needless to tell you, it was a riveting game. Madeleine's most exciting moment was seeing a seagull up close and personal, hanging out right near the pool.
"Seagull! Seagull! Gobble, gobble!" she squawked in delight. "I see it! Seagull! Gobble, gobble!" Once the seagull-turkey hybrid flew off overhead, she was broken-hearted, but thankfully we had a chance to watch him circle around in the air for awhile before he was completely out of sight.

Our afternoon faded into evening as we walked home from the pool, complete with music. Madeleine requested a Julia original: "A schoolbuses please Julia?" Before I knew it, both girls were singing "Schoolbuses, schoolbuses, schoolbuseeeeeees!" together sweetly. (Until Julia started sticking her face too close to Madeleine's and then Madeleine started screaming and whacking Julia in the face and then Julia started screaming that Madeleine was whacking her and so on and so forth... but it was nice while it lasted!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Down to CT

We took a family trip to CT this weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday. Our initial plan was to drive down Saturday morning, but we made a last-minute decision to leave Friday night and surprise Yia-yia and Aunties Caitlyn and Shannon. Thinking the kids would fall asleep in the car, we left right around bedtime, only to have both girls wide-eyed and captivated by every sight out their window the whole drive down.

After getting to bed past ten at night, I would have expected Madeleine to sleep in a bit in the morning, but I guess the excitement of being in CT was too much for her, as she was up at 6am. From her pack-n-play right beside our bed, she began planning her day: "I want go downstairs? I want see Uncle Caitlyn? A see Yia-yia? See Uncle Caitlyn?"

I can only imagine how confused she's going to be next weekend, when we go to Vermont to see Nana (aka Gramps) and Gramps (aka Uncle Mike), along with the REAL Uncle Mike and his family...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Julia the mechanic

Julia decided to start her own business today, and opened up a car shop:

Hoards of Little People drove their wounded vehicles to the shop, begging for Julia the mechanic's help in fixing their cars. With hammers from her tool kit, Julia was able to come to the rescue:

Here is her business statement to promote her new operation: "It could be really good to fix cars, vans, trucks and any other kinds of vehicles. It can be really good for fixing so many cars that you have to do one at a time. And cars get very good, but only sometimes, maybe flat tires, getting broke down cars!"

Wow. If that statement doesn't bring business pouring in, I don't know what will.

In other pretend play news, the girls have enjoyed playing "fairies" lately. Yesterday Madeleine was a fairy bride, while Julia was Rapunzel the fairy, and they went about using their magic wands to make everything in the house beautiful:

This morning, as soon as the girls were up, they decided to resume their fairy game, donning the crowns and grabbing their magic wands.

"I'm a fairy!" Julia declared as she twirled around the dining room waving her wand.
"And I'm... CUMPUNZEL!" Madeleine informed me. Fairy Julia and Cumpunzel even put a magic spell on Daddy to make him handsome before he left for work. I bet that made him feel great.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Loving hearts

Happy Birthday to my mom, the girls' Yia-yia! In honor of the special day, Julia made this picture for Yia-yia, with the instruction "Mom, will you tell Yia-yia that I call these my LOVING HEARTS?":

(Gramps, she also made some loving hearts for you in honor of your upcoming b-day...)

The loving hearts are not the only things she made today. After calling me into the bathroom ("MOM! COME AND SEE WHAT MY POOP LOOKS LIIIIIIKE!"), she remarked upon her toilet creation: "Mommy, don't you think my poop looks like a SEA CREATURE that's moving all around?"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bath-time, explained

The girls really love bath time, and Julia has had quite a history of coming up with imaginative games while in the tub. (Losagna and Lousagna, anyone?) Lately she has been using a slew of terms to describe the various games she and Madeleine play, and my curiosity finally got the best of me after hearing things like, "Mommy, can you give me a washcloth because I need to give Madeleine her CHAMPAY." And speaking of Madeleine, Julia is quick to correct her if she doesn't pronounce Julia's bath language correctly. (MADELEINE: A want "pour water?" JULIA: It's called "pourpaninse pour water," Madeleine!)

Today I sat down with Julia to get a better understanding of the various bath activities she and Madeleine partake in.

"You put water on your head and I do a champay. You can get things that have water, like the toys that I got Madeleine for her birthday, you can dump water over your head, and anything you want to do, you could wring Belle's hair out to get water on your head, you could wring Ariel's hair out to get water on your head. You can put washcloths in the water and then do this with them (petting her hair.)"

Pourpaninse pour water:
"You fill a cup up and then give it to Madeleine, and then she would dump it out. And she calls it 'pour water.' I would fill a cup up for Ariel's bath time, and then I would put her in and then I could take her out when her bath would be all done."

Dumping water when I'm not doing a champay:
"Well, I pour water over my head, like, not just one time. I would pour water over my head or over Madeleine's head two times. We wouldn't put the other things on our head, I could fill a cup and dump water over my head."
(I was initially confused about the difference between dumping water and champay, but as I now understand it, a champay is done with bath toys or a washcloth, but never with a cup, and dumping water is only done with a cup. Phew. Glad I finally got to the bottom of that one.)

Hopefully this will enlighten all you readers. I mean, her explanations make perfect sense, don't you think?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raindrop, Come On My Hand

Julia came up with a brand new musical composition today, and I think it's safe to say that it she sang it enough times to ensure it is stuck in all of our heads. We just finished a recording session of this soon-to-be hit, so prepare yourselves to be stunned by "Raindrop, Come On My Hand":

A bit of background information on this this song: While I pushed the stroller home in the rain from the library this morning, the girls seemed to get a little claustrophobic under their protective plastic rain sheath (one of the stroller's bonus features.) Julia felt the need to start making silly noises, which led to Madeleine screaming "NO!" and kicking at the sheath every time Julia made some goofy sound. Julia, incapable of performing an action unless every person in the vicinity voices their consent, was completely bent out of shape about Madeleine's disapproval. Despite comments such as, "Julia, just ignore her. She's not the boss of you," Julia continued to bemoan her situation: "Mooooom!! Madeleine's saying NOOOOO!" Before long, Julia was deliberately sticking her face in Madeleine's personal space to try and elicit a "NOOOOO!", so both girls were chastised, leading to Julia's typical hyperbolic reaction to being reprimanded. "I just get in trouble EVERY DAY! I'm in TROUBLE! I am NOT a nice girl!" She then, in order to punish herself for being such a not-nice girl, began sticking her hand out of the stroller to get it wet. And before long, was singing "Raindrop come on my hand, raindrop come on my hand, raindrop come on my hand, because Madeleine says no," on repeat for the rest of the walk home.

It just goes to show: sometimes the greatest works of art are born out of moments of true angst.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Growing up

Exciting news in the Rowe household: Julia lost yet another tooth last night (her fourth!)

Not one to EVER do anything without explicit approval from those in charge (in other words, the exact opposite of her sister), Julia felt it necessary to wake us up rather than looking under her pillow herself this morning: "Mommy, I'm just so excited, I can't wait any longer! Can I please look under my pillow to see if there's money there??" Needless to say, after discovering her dollar, she was back in our bedroom to wave it delightedly in our sleepy faces.

It's hard to believe how big she is getting - it absolutely blows my mind that she is going into her very last year of preschool and that she's lost four teeth already! It's amazing how time flies - speaking of, the girls have enjoyed looking through their baby albums lately, seeing pictures from the day they were born and looking at their newborn photos. While Madeleine browsed through her album, I pointed to a picture of her in the womb, saying, "Look! See how Mommy has a big belly? That's because Madeleine is inside Mommy's tummy!":

Madeleine then pointed to the following picture in her baby album, exclaiming, "Look! Daddy's inside Madeleine's BOTTOM!":

I think she really gets it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ballet show

Julia and Madeleine put on a ballet show for Ethan and I this morning. Here are some of the highlights:

And in case that's not enough, you can watch scenes from the ballet below:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quotes and photos of the day

While having a play-date with Anja:

MADELEINE: (wailing) A Baby Dashiell!!! Baaaaaaby Daaaaaasheill!! She's STUCKING!

While pouring bread dough ingredients into our mixer:

ME: Uh-oh... (putting my finger into the mixing bowl to get at the little flecks of food that hadn't been properly washed out)
JULIA: Mama? Why did you put part of YOURSELF in that bowl?

While eating snack and hearing Ethan come downstairs to use the bathroom:

MADELEINE: Where Daddy goooooo?
ME: I hear him! Where's Daddy?
MADELEINE: Right dere! She's PEEWING!

And finally, photos of Madeleine proving that just because you're doing household chores, you don't have to forgo your sense of fashion:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who Madeleine loves, and the Children's Museum

So, this morning Madeleine and I had the following chat:

ME: Madeleine, I love you! Do you love Mommy?
ME: Who else do you love?
MADELEINE: Love Gramps? Love Nana?
ME: You love Gramps and Nana?
MADELEINE: Yeah. Love Yia-yia? Love UNCLE Caitlyn?
ME: You love Yia-yia and Auntie Caitlyn?
MADELEINE: Yeah. Love Shannon? Love UNCLE Shannon!

I'm surprised she didn't say she loves Uncle Mike.

This afternoon, we had a fun play-date at the Easton Children's Museum with our friends Ben and Adriana. The highlight of the trip for Julia was the face paint area; here she is modeling the flowers I painted on each cheek:

In fact, she loved the face paint so much that she decided to add a little more all by herself:


Madeleine's favorite seemed to be the fire truck, although she didn't feel the need to cover her ears while she played on it. Instead, she kept her hands busy on the steering wheel:

The only caveat to this outing was that Madeleine did not fall asleep on the ride home as expected; or rather, I should say she did not fall asleep at the start of the drive, but instead slept for the last 10-15 minutes or so. Despite my attempt to transfer her from Ben and Adriana's van into her crib, she woke up, and has been chatty and rambunctious up in her bedroom ever since. Sigh. Too bad Uncle Caitlyn isn't here to snuggle her to sleep.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This morning, as I was getting breakfast for the girls:

ME: Julia, would you like Life cereal, or some toasted bread?
JULIA: Umm... I think Life.
MADELEINE: (frantically) I want toasted chocwat? A toasted chocwat?
ME: No, Madeleine, we're not going to have toast, I'm going to get you some Cheerios.
MADELEINE: A toasted chocwat? I want toasted chocwat?

A minute later, I turned around, and as she plead desperately for toasted chocwat, I saw her carrying the tin of tofu chocolate pie from the fridge. Needless to say, I did not let her have "a toasted chocwat" for breakfast, despite her can-do take-charge attitude.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting social

We had a very social weekend, beginning with a visit from Thad, Nate and Anja on Saturday, during which we all went over to the pool for a swim, followed by dinner and dessert back at our house. Julia and Nate seemed to truly enjoy their chocolate chip cookies:

On Sunday, we hosted a reunion with friends from our college, all of whom now have kids. Madeleine must have thought that every time we had friends and their children over we would head over to the pool, because as soon as guests arrived she insisted on taking her dress off, then spent the next half hour or so walking up to any adult she'd encounter asking, "A take a off a diaper pwease?" As you can see from this group kid photo, the dress remained off but we held firm about the diaper remaining ON:

Today was considerably calmer, especially since I was suffering from a migraine. Julia was hard at work building the bunk beds of all bunk beds for Cartacarizza, Project Daddy, and Princess Mia:

A budding architect, she also built several towers:

Maybe instead of giving us her tooth fairy money to buy a new house, she can build one for us someday.

While I spent most of the day on the couch, we did have a big adventure riding the "sixxy-nine bus" over to the Y. I think the girls were more excited about traipsing through the puddles on the sidewalk by the bus stop than they were by going in the play room at the Y:

At one point, the 59 bus heading the opposite direction pulled up at the bus stop across the street. Madeleine went through a spiral of emotions as she saw it pull over, then drive off without us on board:
"Yay!! Da sixxy-nine bus! A get on? A get on a sixxy-nine bus?" As the bus began driving away, she held up both hands, shouting defiantly: "STOP! STOP sixxy-nine bus!"

The sixxy-nine bus did not listen.

With no smooth way to tie these pictures in to the rest of the post, I leave you with the following photos of Madeleine talking on a sippy-cup-phone and eating a banana: