Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Observant and the Not-So-Observant

As we rode home on the sixxy-nine bus after a trip to the Y today, I sat marveling over how intelligent and observant my daughters are. Spotting a truck that said "CVS Pharmacy," Madeleine turned to me and said, "I want go CVS? Go bagel store?", after which Julia remarked, "Mama, isn't it cool that some things are just named with letters, like CVS and SUV?"

Then we got home and my brilliant Madeleine decided to take a Tootsie Pop out of the cupboard and eat it with the wrapper still on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


A few days ago, Madeleine and I stopped by the grocery store on our walk home from her Creative Movement class. Spotting the pumpkins outside the store, she became convinced that we were buying a pumpkin, despite my repeated assertion that we were not going pumpkin picking until the weekend. As we walked through the various aisles in the store, Madeleine felt the need to continually tell me, "I want pumpkin!" with increasing urgency. When we checked out and paid without any pumpkin, I assumed the matter was settled; however, along our walk home, Madeleine lamented over her non-existent pumpkin: "My pumpkin! My puuuuumpkiiiiin!!!"

A few hours later, when I went into her room to get her up from nap, she gazed at me groggily for a moment, then requested, "I want my pumpkin!"

So you can imagine how excited she was today when I took her to our local "pumpkin patch." Since we were visiting during non-business hours, we weren't able to take a pumpkin home, but she was perfectly content to fondle them and move one pumpkin from its spot to another.

It turns out we were not the only ones there browsing through pumpkins and taking pictures. Another little girl with braids was in the pumpkin patch, posing for pictures taken by what appeared to be her grandmother. Although Madeleine had never met this girl before, she did not hesitate to confidently address the little girl with a name that seemed appropriate: "Julia! Look at THIS pumpkin, Julia! Look, Julia!" I guess since all older women are grandmothers and all men are daddies, all little girls must be Julias, in Madeleine's world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Potty reading material

As Madeleine is learning to use the potty (albeit with many wet and dirty diapers in between potty-sitting), I'm beginning to learn her bathroom habits. It turns out she's one of those that needs to read something while sitting on the pot. We usually start with a book I can read to her, then afterwards she likes to look through the same book herself. Among her favorite toilet reads is "My Little People Schoolbus," in which she can open a myriad of flaps and make comments about the various Little People characters. If she doesn't know the names of the particular Little People, she doesn't hesitate to confidently label them with a name anyway.

MADELEINE: (pointing to the child at the far right window) It's GRANDMA!
(pointing to the middle child) That's SNOW WHITE! (pointing to the boy at the far left window) That's BOY!

One of her other preferred potty books is the Sesame Street "Pumpkin Patch Party." In fact, I've read it to her so many times that she can recite it from memory, including the captions under each flap. For instance: "Uh-oh! Here comes Headless Horseman! (lifting the flap) It's Ernie and Burp!"

Unfortunately, my video camera battery was low so I was only able to capture a few minutes of her potty reading adventures today, but here's a quick glimpse at all the fun I get to have as I sit on the bathroom floor while Madeleine entertains herself on the toilet:

Monday, September 26, 2011


Julia has decided to be a princess this afternoon, one with all the luxuries a girl could ask for in her royal suite: her own large bathtub (the couch), a kitchen in her room in case she needs a snack, French doors (two little wooden chairs between the living and dining rooms), teacups of water "for in the night, in case we get thirsty," a washing machine, and a laundry basket.

Despite all these luxuries, however, she is still relegated to sleeping on the floor and looking after her little sister, Princess Baby Dashiell:

I guess I, the Queen, am too busy to look after Baby Dashiell, although I did get a chance to meet with my royal stylist, (also Julia; man, that girl doesn't get a break), who gave me a stunning look. Get ready to be wowed by my bonnet with accompanying felt headband:

Princesses Julia and Dashiell have since woken up from their nap and are enjoying some snack together in the royal kitchen.

And speaking of waking up, Madeleine and I had this conversation as I got her out of her crib this morning:

MADELEINE: Julia's still FWEEPIN'!
ME: Yup, Julia's still sleeping, you're right.
MADELEINE: Daddy's still FWEEPIN'!
ME: Actually, Daddy's at work.
MADELEINE: Mommy woke up!
ME: That's right. I woke up when I heard you wake up.
MADELEINE: Yeah, Mommy woke up and Mommy say COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!

She sure knows what's going on around here, all right.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Questions and necklaces

Julia asked a very astute question this morning, after examining a sticker proclaiming "Yes!" in her new sheet of Highlights stickers she received in the mail:

"Mom? Why sometimes is there an upside-down lower case 'I' at the end of words?"

And in other news, the girls had a great time at their friend Cooper's birthday party in Rhode Island yesterday ("Pirate Island!" as Madeleine called it.) They have been ecstatically going through the loot in their goody bags since the party ended, and among the favorite goodies are the little plastic beaded necklaces they both received. They modeled their new necklaces yesterday and today. I especially like Madeleine's bohemian chic look today, complete with knitted winter cap and sandals.

Saturday's post-party necklace-wearing

Sunday morning's outfits with necklace accompaniment

Friday, September 23, 2011

Through Madeleine's eyes

My dinner, through Madeleine's eyes:

MADELEINE: Look, it's Mommy's ham!
ME: Yes, that's my ham.
MADELEINE: Look, it's Mommy's BWOKIE!
ME: Yup, my broccoli.
MADELEINE: Look, it's Mommy's BALLS!
ME: Those are my peas.
MADELEINE: Yeah, it's Mommy's balls.
ME: They're peas, honey.
MADELEINE: Oh, yeah, that's Mommy's PEAS!

A ride on the 59 bus, through Madeleiene's eyes:

MADELEINE: (pointing at an elderly African American woman) Look, that's Grandma!
ME: Oh yeah? Is she a grandma?
MADELEINE: (pointing at the same woman.) Yeah. That's Grandma. It's TAMARA! That's Mommy. It's Courtney.


MADELEINE: (in regards to the bus waiting to pull out of the parking lot onto the main road) Oh no! The sixxy-nine bus STUCKING!

MADELEINE: (pointing at an elderly Asian American woman) Where Grandma go? There she is! That's Grandma!

MADELEINE: (pointing at a young woman boarding the bus) Who's dat?
WOMAN: (smiling at Madeleine) Hi! How are you?
ME: Can you say hi?
MADELEINE: (staring wide-eyed and silently at the woman)
WOMAN: Hi! (walking towards her seat)
MADELEINE: (pointing after her) Who's DAT? WHO'S DAT?

MADELEINE: (pointing at an older man with a bushy mustache and American flags all over his hat and shirt) That's Ethan! It's Ethan! Yeah, that's DADDY.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


MADELEINE: (from the potty) Julia's DANCING!
ME: Julia's eating her lunch. She's not dancing anymore.
ME: The music is still playing, but she's not dancing anymore. She's eating her lunch.
MADELEINE: Oh, yeah, it's da MUCUS.
ME: The MUSIC. Can you say MUSIC?
MADELEINE: (delighted) MUCUS! Not mucus.
MADELEINE: Yeah, mucus. Not mucus.
ME: Can you say MUSIC?
MADELEINE: Mucus! Mommy, say mucus?
ME: Music.
MADELEINE: Julia, say mucus?
ME: Julia, Madeleine wants you to say mucus.
JULIA: (giggling) Why?
ME: Madeleine, can you say MUSIC?
MADELEINE: MUCUS!! Mommy, say mucus?

I gave up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Halloween fort game

Yesterday after school, Julia wanted to play "something really fun together, like the HALLOWEEN FORT game!" How could I turn that down? So she got busy setting up our individual forts. Hers was more of a traditional fort, though she opted to sit atop the fort most of the game, rather than underneath where it was dark and probably boring:

My fort was enormous, and consisted of a circle of chairs upon which I could sit, plus a pillow for when I got tired and needed to lay down, as well as a smorgasboard of plastic pretend food to eat if I got hungry:

My daughter knows me too well; she even included a coffee maker in my new digs. And hey, I really can't complain about the fact that I got to fort it up in royal comfort while she got to sit under a table covered with blankets in the dark.

Of course, since it was not just the fort game but the HALLOWEEN FORT game, we had to have a jack-o-lantern. While some might argue that it already had a face, Julia insisted that it did not, and set about carving it with a plastic play kitchen knife:

Speaking of pumpkins, Julia and I had the following conversation this morning:

ME: Julia, don't you think Madeleine has such a round little pumpkin head?
JULIA: (smiling nervously like she's not sure what to say)
ME: You have a nice round pumpkin head too. I'm so jealous. I wish I had a pumpkin head because I *love* pumpkins. But only you, Madeleine and Daddy have such nice round heads.
JULIA: But Moooooom, you have a pumpkin head too!
ME: No, not really. I have more of an oval shaped head.
JULIA: (cheerfully) Well, Mom, you have a... uh... well, Mom, should I say half a pumpkin head?

I'll take it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Conversations with Madeleine


MADELEINE: (smacking the Baby Dashiell doll's head onto my face)
ME: Careful Madeleine! Can you be gentle with Baby Dashiell? Can baby Dashiell do nice?
MADELEINE: Do nice, baby Dashiell. You can do it! (taking Baby Dashiell's plastic hand and stroking my face)
ME: Thank you!
MADELEINE: Good job, Baby Dashiell. Good job nicing Mommy, Baby Dashiell!


MADELEINE: (On the potty, with no clothes on) Oh no!
ME: What's the matter?
MADELEINE: (pointing at a miniscule white puffy fleck on her inner thigh): Oh no! My bum! It's a WHITE SNOWMAN!


ME: Madeleine, do you know how old you are?
MADELEINE: I'm five and a half!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


JULIA: I'm Julia, the Surpriser Kadizer! That means... I can do tricks!
MADELEINE: I want Trix!
JULIA: My first trick is the disappearing... SCALE! I waved my wand and said something, but I also said "Brickety Broar!" My next trick is the disappearing TOOTHPASTE BOX! Abracadabra, Brickety Broar, turn my collection into... a TOOTHPASTE!

They are clearly on the same page here.

As they were earlier in the day, when Julia decided to put on the "My Little Pony Show" for Daddy and Madeleine:

And Madeleine decided she was more interested in stuffing two baby bottles in her mouth than in watching the performance:

Two very different, equally determined, minds at battle today...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Madeleine's apparel

After sobbing her heart out over the fact that we dared to leave Julia's school without Julia on Wednesday (the whole car ride home was filled with Madeleine's plaintive wail: "Juliaaaaaa! Juliaaaaaa!"), Madeleine was determined not to be left out of the action this morning. As Julia got herself ready for school and we awaited the mom who was swinging by to pick her up, Madeleine scrambled to get herself ready as well. She absolutely insisted on wearing her sneakers and her coat, as if having her outside apparel on as well would ensure she couldn't get left behind this time. Waiting down in our front foyer for Julia's ride, Madeleine eagerly stood right against the glass of the front door, exclaiming with happy excitement when she saw the woman who was to drive Julia walk up to the door. Sadly for Madeleine, Julia was ushered out, and Madeleine was left standing in the foyer with me. After another long sobbing fit over the unfairness of it all, Madeleine decided to change up her ensemble, ditching her coat and donning some sunglasses, in order to play "library":

She busied herself checking out one princess book after another for me, looking very librarian-like in her glasses, of course.

Later on in the afternoon her look got even more fashionable:

If you're not all copying this high-fashion look after reading this, I will be stunned.

As the morning progressed, she decided to dress down for comfort so she could get cozy on the dining room floor for some coloring fun:

Luckily for Madeleine, the morning passed quickly and Julia was home before long, so sisters are reunited once again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The My Little Pony show

Julia put on the "My Little Pony" show today and requested that I sit in the audience. She also gave me the following instructions:

"Mom, when the pony show is going on, there can't be any talking from the audience."

I obeyed, although I did answer questions when asked.

If you are interested in seeing any of this riveting show, in which each pony takes a turn chomping on some grass and then laying down to go to bed (I guess I should explain to Julia that horses actually sleep standing up), I got a bit of it on video:

After turning the camera off, the show got so exciting I just had to start recording again to capture Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie's secretive, magical night journey through the sky:

If you're watching the videos and you hear Julia sing the theme song, don't be fooled - it's not the real "My Little Pony" tv show. No matter how authentic it sounds, I assure you, it's just Julia.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Julia's foolery

Julia has been big on trying to fool me lately, although her attempts to fool me are completely contrived and often require her to request that I pretend not to know what she's doing. For instance, whenever she plays with her Little People house, she loves to press both the telephone (which makes a ringing sound) and the doorbell (which ding-dongs appropriately.) If I forget to respond to either sound, she gives me a gentle, subtle reminder: "Mom, do you think that's our phone ringing?" or "Mom, can you say, 'Who's ringing our doorbell?" After I respond as prompted, she then exclaims with delight, "It's not our phone/doorbell! It's in my LITTLE PEOPLE HOUSE!" She is all the more delighted by my fakely enthusiastic reply: "Oh, you tricked me! I thought it was the REAL phone/doorbell!"

Yesterday, as she sat playing with her My Little Ponies, she began singing the theme song to the My Little Pony show. "Mom!" she called from the living room. "Did you think you heard the tv and you heard that 'My Little Pony' is on?" Attempting to be honest but to also appease her, I responded, "Well, I thought I heard the theme song, and I was wondering where it came from, then I realized you were singing it! It sounded just like the real thing!"

Not good enough, I guess.

"But Mom," she persisted, "were you thinking, Julia must be watching 'My Little Pony' in the living room because you heard that music?" "Uh... yes," I answered, breaking down in my attempt to be truthful. "It was just me singing!" she announced joyously. After I heaped praise on her for sounding like the authentic theme song and for tricking me so thoroughly, she seemed placated, and went back to playing her game.

I guess the implausibility of the entire situation was too much even for her, though, because a few minutes later she asked me, confused, "But mom, how did you think the tv was able to turn on? Did you think I turned on the show without asking if it was okay to watch it?"

Oh, Julia, I guess your rule-abiding conscience just had to get in the way of your fanciful imagination and ruin the fun of pretending you fooled me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creative Movement

Today was Madeleine's first class at Creative Movement, after two years of watching Julia's classes from behind the closed glass doors to the gym. I have to admit, I had no idea what to expect in terms of behavior. I figured there was a fair chance that Madeleine would have no interest in sitting at circle time participating in group movement activities, but thought maybe this would be a good introduction to how to take part and behave in a group setting.

So the class started off, and amidst the chaos of toddlers running rampant, knocking over the barrier of mats to get into the closed-off gym area, kids having screaming melt-downs on the mat, mothers frantically running off to grab their errant kids, can you guess who was the only toddler in the whole class who sat there on the rug, copying the body movements the teacher was demonstrating, actually participating in the class? Would you believe it was Madeleine? The kid who had a full out laying-on-the-back kicking and screaming tantrum in CVS because I went and grabbed her after she tried to run out the automatic doors while we waited in line?

I know. I was pretty shocked too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Paper Bag Princess

After listening to Daddy read "The Paper Bag Princess" this morning, Madeleine flipped the book over to the back cover to make some astute observations about the pictures on the back.

In regards to the author, Robert Munsch:

"Look! She's doin'... her grandmother where are you?"

In regards to the illustrator, Michael Martchenko:

"That's Daddy!"

In regards to the dragon:

"Look! It's dinosaur! She's eating HOUSE! She's dragging HOT."

Wow. She could not have been more spot-on even if she'd tried.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Study in Contrasts

Julia's big accomplishment during our trip to the Y this morning: earning two stickers as a reward for cleaning up all the toys in the play room, per the baby-sitter's request.

Madeleine's big accomplishment during our trip to the Y this morning: playing in a pile of dog poop while we waited for the bus home. Not only was it all over her hands, but she managed to smear it in various places all over her clothes as well. With two minutes until the bus was scheduled to arrive, we sprinted over to the building next to the bus stop and washed her hands, only to have her repeatedly point (with finger making contact) to the poop stains on her clothes, exclaiming, "Look it's a DOG POOP!"

I must admit, both behaviors are completely consistent with their personalities.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Singing and a dinner party

There is no doubt about the fact that my girls love to sing. I have been especially amazed by Madeleine's recent broadening of song repertoire; she is not only able to sing most of her favorite songs by heart, but she is also frequently overheard singing Julia's many made-up compositions. This is not to say her renditions of various songs are completely accurate. She gets especially mixed-up with the Music Together song "Two Little Blackbirds," often confusing it with the poem "Two Little Songbirds." And one can see why, as the words are quite similar:

Two Little Blackbirds
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack and one named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill

Two Little Songbirds
Two little songbirds sitting on a wall
One named Peter, one named Paul
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul
Come back Peter, come back Paul

Some of the more amusing of Madeleine's renditions include:

"Two little blackbirds sitting on a wall. One named Peter, one named Paul. Fly away Peter, fly away Paul. Come back Jack, come back Jill..."

"Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill. One named Peter, one named Jack..."

"Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill. One named Jack, one named Jack. Fly away Jack, fly away Paul, come back Jack, come back Jack."

"Two little Jack, one named Jack. Fly away Jack, fly away Jack, come back Jack, come back Jack..."

Or sometimes she even names the blackbirds after her tv friends, like the kids on "The Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That:"

"Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, one named Nick, one named Sally..."

Here, on video, she sings a bit of this song in between two rousing renditions of Julia's famous composition, "Hold My Hand on the Sidewalk"!:

You'll notice Madeleine is sitting in a row of chairs as she sings. That's because she was in the car. Julia set up a minivan for us to sit in. Apparently even in Julia's pretend play I'm not allowed to drive, because she came to my house (the couch) to pick me up and drive me to a dinner party. Madeleine and Julia's three baby dolls rode in the car with us as well. When we got to the dinner party, Julia began cooking in her play oven, and you can see what a wonderful influence I must be as a mother as she decides how to best keep her triplets out of danger of the hot stove:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A trip to the library

Today, in an attempt to avoid being cooped up in the house all afternoon, we braved the rainy weather and walked to the library to play. Despite the fact that we pass by the library on nearly every trip through town that we take, Julia decided it was necessary for us to have a map to show us the way to our destination. She quickly set about creating a map with her markers and paper, and as I pushed the stroller along on our way, she called out these very helpful, crucial directions to me: "Mom, the map says STRAIGHT, TURN, LIBRARY!"

While Madeleine wound up trying out all of the various toys in the children's section, Julia preferred to play in a select few areas, truly devoting her creative talents to make sure she got all she could out of her pretend play. After putting on an elaborate puppet show for me in which each puppet had a specific name (such as Penguin E-E, Hissy Friend the iguana, and Dolphinny Teethy), she headed over to the puzzle area. As soon as she got her hands on the ballerina puzzle, she decided to put on "The Ballet Show." Apparently her princess opera was just a dress rehearsal to prepare her for her very first public performance, because today she entertained the entire children's section of the library with her ballerina's deeply emotive arias. Rest assured, she suffered no stage jitters, and was so intensely focused on her game that she was not afraid to bellow out her songs despite the myriad of people around her. Madeleine, on the other hand, preferred to work her puzzles in silence, with the occasional heart-broken, "My digger!!" if a piece from her construction puzzle fell to the ground.

Upon returning home, Julia gave me a huge boost of confidence regarding her expectations of my cooking when she announced, as she took a bite of chicken, "To my surprise, I like it!" I'm glad I was able to surpass her expectations so successfully.

Monday, September 5, 2011


The big news of the weekend is that Madeleine has had success on the potty for several days straight. Unlike Julia, who absolutely refused to poop on the potty (and then insisted on taking off all her clothes once she finally got comfortable pooping in the potty), Madeleine has had no hesitation about depositing her poop in our toilet. She has also peed several times in the toilet, although she has continues to pee freely in her diaper in between potty sessions, so we are certainly not ready for underwear anytime soon. To keep her entertained while she sits on the pot, and to keep her from undoing the entire roll of toilet paper all over the bathroom floor (as she has done at least three or four times now), I have been reading to her and singing her songs while she waits for pee or poop to come out. I'm not 100% sure she actually understands why she is sitting on the potty; to her, the expulsion of urine or feces seems to be incidental to her sitting on the potty for story or music time. In fact, when she first peed in the toilet, I got her down to wipe her and she immediately asked, "A sit back on potty?" because I had not finished the story I'd been reading. This morning, while she tried the potty, she was more in the mood for music, requesting song after song from me:

MADELEINE: I want Two Little Blackbirds Sitting on a Wall?
ME: (singing) Two little blackbirds sitting on a wall, one named Peter one named Paul... etc.
MADELEINE: A Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?
ME: (singing) Twinkle Twinkle...
ME: (singing the alphabet)
MADELEINE: I want Trot trot a gramma's house get little girl cherries we got there tree was bare so we'll trot back? (Otherwise known simply as "Trot trot to Grandma's House")

While she is reaching a new milestone in her developments on the potty, she apparently thinks she's ready for other milestones marking her maturity, such as kissing boys on the lips. Yesterday we got together with my old childhood neighbor and her husband and son, and Madeleine planted several big wet ones right on Alex's mouth. Yikes.

And on a completely unrelated note, other than the fact that Madeleine is involved, I present to you two of the weekend's most memorable quotes:

MADELEINE: (as we walked to meet Daddy at the train and Madeleine spotted him in the distance) AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
ETHAN: looking our way and waving

MADELEINE: (stuffing a Dora figurine in Butt Crocodile's mouth) Say Abre, cwocodile. ABRE! (removing Dora and saving her from being devoured)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Pretty Princess Opera

Julia put on her most elaborate opera to date this afternoon, playing with the removable-sticker princesses that come with her "Pretty Princess Places" book. Each princess in turn got a chance to sing an aria about her magical life, while in between each tune the princesses engaged in a bit of dialogue. Here is a video of Cinderella's operatic performance:

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Return of "Hello Buddy"

Madeleine has recently adopted an activity that Julia loved at this very same age: that of singing the Music Together "Hello Everybody" song to every single person she can think of. However, the difference lies in the simple fact that while Julia sang, as she called it, "Hello Buddy" to every member of our family and every friend any of us had in the world, Madeleine instead prefers to sing it to our Little People. Today I managed to get a bit of it on video, as she greeted each Little Person while taking him or her out of the plastic Little People bin:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Julia's television set

Julia spent all afternoon working on making a play television set, sneaking furtively up to her room to add special touches that would only be revealed to me when she was finally finished. At long last, after dinner, she brought the tv to me so that I could watch a movie on the couch.

After all the hard, secretive work up in her room, this is what her television looked like. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off:

WOW. Unbelievable artistic genius.

I guess when you have as imaginative a mind as does Julia, all it really takes is a cardboard diapers box with some bubble wrap draped over it, and in your creative world, you've got a tv.

The bubble wrap, by the way, has continued to entertain both girls all day long. As Madeleine likes to say, "I'm playin' POP bubbles!"