Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Ballerina Dora and Cumpunzel had a great Halloween and thoroughly enjoyed their trick-or-treating experience. So much so that Madeleine felt the need to repeatedly tell me, "I had fun trick-or-treating," while we were, in fact, still in the midst of trick-or-treating. Julia bravely and boldly walked by herself up the steps to ring the doorbell at the house that terrified her last year, due to its creepy sound effects and ghoulish decorations. Scoffing at her 3-year-old fear, she pointed out that none of the special effects were actually real. Then she proceeded to completely freak out over the utility truck in the middle of the road and the workers attempting to restore the power lines that had been damaged by a tree during Saturday's snow storm. Luckily, Madeleine forged on ahead down the sidewalk, convincing her sister that the truck could do us no harm. When we returned home, the girls perused their loot, choosing their first piece of candy as tonight's dessert. Madeleine was so attached to her trick-or-treat pumpkin bucket that she couldn't bear to part with it even for a moment, insisting on setting it on her lap while she used the potty and holding it with one hand while I brushed her teeth. Luckily, Binky-Cowie was the one thing more captivating to her than her bucket, so I was able to pry it out of her hands and get her into her crib with little fuss. Happy Halloween, all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicken bug and chaos

Madeleine woke up this morning with some important news for me: "Mommy, I got CHICKEN bug!"

This is something she has been talking about for weeks now. Even her baby-sitter mentioned to me that Madeleine was going on and on about having chicken bug while I was out at work. Madeleine doesn't seem terribly troubled by her chicken bug; she is merely interested in announcing it to the world.

For those of you wondering what exactly a chicken bug is, I'm afraid to report that none of us have any idea either. Our attempts to find out have gone something like this:

JULIA: Do you mean chicken POX, Madeleine?
ME: Do you mean bug bites?
MADELEINE: Yeah, I have bug bite. I have CHICKEN BUG!
ME: Can I see your chicken bug?
MADELEINE: (holding out her finger)
ME: Do you mean a hangnail?

She was at least temporarily distracted from her chicken bug today due to the weird October snowstorm that hit the northeast, resulting in loss of power in our neighborhood, plenty of downed trees, a transformer that fell on our street and caught fire in the road, and many damaged telephone wires. In fact, Julia and Madeleine didn't even seem to mind that we were freezing our buns off in our unheated house yesterday because they were so fascinated by the snowy scene out the window. Standing on the bathroom stool and one of our little red chairs, the girls were like sentries at the window, staring out at the snow and reporting on any new developments in the street below. When we went out in the car as a family later in the day, Madeleine delightedly exclaimed, "We're going to the SNOW!" We were not, in fact, going to the snow, but instead to the Y so that I could run and then take a shower, but the mere fact that we were out driving in the snowy wonderland was excitement enough for the girls. We wound up taking the most roundabout route possible to get to the Y, due to the fact that nearly every road we normally take was closed. As we squeezed our car by an enormous downed tree, Julia astutely declared, "Mommy, this is just like the "Discord" episode of My Little Pony, because everything is all chaos!"

Chaos, indeed. Let's see how trick-or-treating goes tomorrow in the aftermath of the storm... you may wind up seeing pictures of Rapunzel and Ballerina-in-Boots...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Julia video, and Franklin Park Howl

Julia played a long, elaborate game of "store" today, in which she was the store owner and she was only 21 years old, but all the older workers left her to work at the store all by herself. I was one of the store's most faithful customers (well, really, its only customer) and I got to bring Julia my various items for purchase and have her scan them (swiping them across her Winnie the Pooh computer while saying "boop!") and then bag them (in a Trader Joe's brown bag from Ethan's grocery shop today) and then I had to sign for my credit card with a twist-top crayon across the computer screen. Then I would go home and put my groceries away and take care of my only child, Madeleine, while 21-year-old Julia slaved away at her job in the store. The game was complete with a long, lamenting song by Julia about her tough lot in life and her wish for things to change. Unfortunately, I didn't get her song on video, but I was able to get a little of the game on camera, as she battled with her conscience and realized that her friend (whose name is so ornately complicated I can't even remember how to pronounce it) is right that she should be at work.

Later on in the game, Julia came to baby-sit my daughter Madeleine while I was at yoga class, but then they got really rambunctious together and our downstairs neighbor rang the doorbell to ask us to quiet down and that was the end of "store."

On another note, this morning Ethan and I took the girls to Franklin Park for their Halloween howl, during which the kids got to ride on a hayride, travel through a "haunted maze," trick-or-treat for candy, and, of course, show off their Halloween costumes. As we walked towards the trick-or-treat trail, Madeleine proved that she really understands the Halloween ritual when she exclaimed, "I so excited go trick-or-treat at GRANDMA'S HOUSE!!"

Grandma's house did not disappoint, and both girls delightedly enjoyed one of the lollipops from their loot pile on our car ride home.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Music making

While we have succeeded in brain-washing our daughter in regards to the merits of eating free-range, organic meats, Ethan and I unfortunately have not been able to brain-wash her musical tastes. Her newest favorite music comes from "The Fresh Beat Band," a tv show she has never actually seen, but whose characters perform a song onstage as they dance around in neon jumpsuits at the start of every Nick On Demand show we order. For a basic synopsis of the group, I quote from Wikipedia:

"The Fresh Beat Band (formerly The JumpArounds)[1] is a children TV show with original pop songs produced for Nick Jr.. The Fresh Beats are Shout, Twist, Marina, and Kiki, described as four best friends in a band who go to music school together and love to sing and dance."

Needless to say, Ethan and I are not huge fans of their music. In all honesty, I have no problem with my children exploring their own musical tastes and listening to things that are different from what I prefer. (However, the fact that the music is so darn bubble-gum poppy and catchy that it's stuck in my head for hours after I hear it is less than ideal.) Julia even acts out "The Fresh Beat Band" now, dancing around on our little art table chairs and showing off her crazy moves as she bellows her heart out in some imitation-pop style. And of course, every time one of their songs comes on before Dora, Diego, Max & Ruby, or any number of shows we order from On Demand, she totally rocks out singing along with them. She was a bit shy once she discovered I was filming her yesterday, but I did manage to capture some of her participation in the music-making:

Madeleine is not yet enamored with The Fresh Beat band, and remains loyal to her old standby songs: Wheels on the Bus, Whera Jacques, Two Little Blackbirds, etc. Speaking of Whera Jacques, Julia recently learned to play it on the piano, much to Madeleine's delight. As Julia sight-read through the music, Madeleine chimed right in with her loud and enthusiastic singing. "Sonnen in my tina, Dog bambooooo?" Here is a video of Julia playing, sans her sister's vocal accompaniment:

Now, if that doesn't make you want some dog bamboo, I'm not sure what will.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Julia goes organic free-range

After watching a Chick-fil-a commercial in between Curious George episodes this morning, Julia was confused over the statement "Our cows have no beef with that."

JULIA: What does it mean 'the cows have no beef with that?'
ME: Having a beef with something means having a problem with it. So if you were giving me attitude, I might say, 'Julia, I have a beef with your behavior.' So the cows have no beef with the fact that they're treated kindly and they're allowed to roam around freely. See, there are some kinds of farms called factory farms...
JULIA: I know! Daddy already told me! Where they keep the animals in the little boxes like the kind in my Little People farm.
ME: Right. So the animals don't get a chance to roam around and get excercise. That's why Daddy and I buy only what's called "free range" meat.
JULIA: Yeah, Mom, I know, just like.... (running off to her bookshelf, returning and showing me the following picture)

ME: Julia, you are the smartest kid in the whole world.
JULIA: Yeah. And the farmers didn't even know their chickens were wearing SNEAKERS!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today, so far

Julia, upon awakening this morning, had the following announcement:

"Mama, I thought the morning was night-time, because I thought that magic came to life and turned it to summer. Because I was thinking 'it's still night-time! How can it be this light out when it's night-time?"

Once she realized it truly was morning, and not summer, she quickly got ready for school and Ethan, Madeleine and I brought her on over. On our drive back home, Ethan expressed his irritation for a fellow driver trying to pull out into the stream of traffic:

ETHAN: (in exasperation) Buddy! What are you doing?
MADELEINE: Buddy what are you doing? (pause) What's buddy doin', Dad?

Once we got home, Madeleine delighted in playing with the illicit My Little Ponies; when Julia is home, she won't let Madeleine near her ponies with a ten-foot pole. Free of her sister's possessive presence, Madeleine joyously danced the ponies around, fed them bottles, pranced them across the piano, and even dressed them up for Halloween:

"Fluttershy's being GHOST!"

Now that is one amazing costume, all right.

Upon Julia's return home from school, she had the following important news for me: "Mama, ever since I started taking my new shoes off, I became interested in leaving the straps undone. Is that silly?!?"

Makes about as much sense as her idea that magic came to life and turned it to summer...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Madeleine

A few recent pictures of Madeleine:

"I going shopping!"

"Oh no! I need help! It's STUCKING!"


Playing at Newton Centre playground. (Comprised of two play areas, one for toddlers and one for bigger kids, and adjacent to a school with yet another playground. Or, as Madeleine put it afterwards, "I had fun playground. I had fun da nother playground!")

Bubble storm at Creative Movement (aka "I playing POP bubbles!")

And to end, a quote from yesterday's sixxy-nine bus ride to the Y:

MADELEINE: (pointing to a woman getting on the bus) That's GRANDMA! That's GRANDMA! That's a GRANDMA. Uh-oh! That people's crying! That people's CRYING! What happen that people's CRYING?"

(For the record, the woman was not crying, but I'm sure she appreciated Madeleine's very loud, conspicuous commentary on her appearance.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Various goofy things

Today's blog post is a hodgepodge of various things that have gone on in the Rowe household over the past week. To start, Julia actually requested the subject material of today's blog, and asked to help me write it. So I am proud to present to you, for the next several sentences, my guest blogger, Julia (spelling of words provided by me, actual typing done by J herself):

Hi Julllia bbbbbbbbbug hurting tongue new water.
yeah, my parents don't watch tv a lot.

Just in case that didn't make blaringly obvious sense to you, I, your usual blogger, am back to provide clarification.

The first sentence is... who knows. She for some reason wanted to tell you all about how her tongue was hurting last night and she couldn't sleep.
The second sentence is Julia showing her ability to be sarcastic. She has been big on attempted sarcasm lately, which all came about from a discussion we had after one of my recent blog postings.

JULIA: I bet when Daddy reads your blog about Madeleine trying to bonk me with the hammer, he'll be like, 'Great,' because he'll be being SARCASTIC!
ME: You're right. I can just picture Daddy saying 'Great' or 'Awesome' when he reads that. Did you know I say a lot of sarcastic things on my blog? I say things like, 'My kids are not weird AT ALL.' Because you girls really are big kooks! Just like your parents!
JULIA: My parents are not weird AT ALL! (cracking up.)
ME: That's so funny!
JULIA: My parents are not fun AT ALL! (cracking up even more.)
ME: You're so good at being sarcastic.
JULIA: My parents... don't... eat anything!
ME: (fake laughter)
JULIA: My parents... don't... live... in this house!

While she seems to recognize sarcasm as soon as she hears it, she has a bit of a way to go in terms of being able to reproduce it with accuracy. She hasn't quite learned that there's a difference between a simple untrue fact and a sarcastic comment... but at least she's starting to get it.

On the topic of the kids' sense of humor, one of their favorite comic antics of late is to tell me to eat various disgusting things in order to elicit a response from me ("Ewww! That's so GROSS!") Julia started it one day as we sat in the bathroom with Madeleine on the potty, telling me to eat my tongue or something like that. The game then escalated into ridiculousness, with both girls telling me to eat this and that and me being stuck repeating my outraged, grossed-out response. Madeleine has since adopted this as her favorite game to play any time she's on the potty. This is a pretty accurate representation of how our dialogue usually goes:

ME: Eww! Eat my eyeball! That's so GROSS!
MADELEINE: (delighted) Eat... (glancing around the bathroom) your TOILET PAPER!
ME: Eww! That's so GROSS!
MADELEINE: Eat your HIGHBALL! (giggling wildly)
MADELEINE: (glancing around) Eat... your GARBAGE!
ME: Eww! Eat my garbage! Gross!
MADELEINE: Eat your HIGHBALL! (cracking up with glee)
ME: YUCK!! Madeleine, eat your highball!
MADELEINE: Ew dat's so gwoss. Eat... your HIGHBALL! (raucus, uncontrollable laughter.)

It's a lot of fun, let me tell you.

And finally, since Halloween is approaching, both girls have enjoyed trying to be spooky and scary. Madeleine, in fact, gets so wrapped up in her whole growling "I being SCAAAARY!" routine that it can take us forever to walk home from the bus station or wherever it is we're walking from when she goes into scary mode. Here's a video of her getting increasingly out of control with scariness in the kitchen:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hammers and ghosts

Madeleine and Anja went to town during their play-date today, very loudly, very persistently, and very delightedly hammering on a dining room chair:

Things took a more violent turn, however, after Anja left, when Madeleine began wielding her hammer and chasing Julia around the living room exclaiming, "I gon BONK you! Juwia! I gon BONK you Juwia!"

Despite Julia's varied approaches to this threat, including screaming, politely asking "Please don't bonk me," and running away, Madeleine continued to find the game amusing. Julia's last ditch effort was to simply hide:

While she failed to fool her sister as to her whereabouts, Julia was at least successful in distracting Madeleine from her hammer-bonking game. Stopping still in her tracks, Madeleine proclaimed, "Look Mom! Julia's hiding under the GHOST!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Madeleine reads

As I have mentioned before, Madeleine thoroughly enjoys listening to and looking at books while she sits on the potty. She frequently attempts to read her books aloud, although her efforts to translate what's happening on the page are not always very accurate. Here are a few examples:

THE REAL VERSION: The wood-cutter shot the wolf dead and cut open his stomach, hoping that Grandmother would still be alive. The squirrel found Red Riding Hood in the wardrobe and she hugged him in delight.

THE REAL VERSION: Elmo's fur is the color red, just like the hat that sits on his head. What other things do you see that are the color red?
THE MADELEINE VERSION: Elmo can't open DOOR! It's too HEAVY!

THE REAL VERSION: The best of Halloween comes last. We're off to trick-or-treat - collecting so much candy it takes weeks and weeks to eat!
THE MADELEINE VERSION: Look! The mean witch is giving TOFU!

I wonder if she will be expecting to receive tofu in a few weeks when we all go out trick-or-treating. If so, she's in for a sore disappointment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kids say the darndest things

Julia, on why she didn't want to eat her broccoli:
"Well, I used to like broccoli, but now I think I'm OUTGROWING it."

Julia reflects on a conversation overheard:
ETHAN: (reading from "Dora's Spooky Halloween") I can be a doctor, or I can be a cat...
ETHAN: What's the matter, Madeleine? You used to love this book. I can't say the same for myself, but you usually like it.
JULIA: (turning to me knowingly) Mommy, it sounds like Daddy thinks that book is S-I-O-N.

Madeleine remarks upon my hairstyle today, one little braid on the left side of my part:
"Mommy's wearing JULIA'S hair!"

Madeleine comments on pictures from her baby book:
ME: See Mommy's big tummy? You were inside my big tummy! Then you came out.
MADELEINE: Yeah, Madeleine's hiding! Baby Madeleine hiding Mommy's big, big tummy!
ME: And see, here you are after you came out. That's Baby Madeleine. Aren't you cute?
MADELEINE: (skeptical) I think that's Anja.
ME: No, that's Baby Madeleine!
MADELEINE: Yeah, I think that's ANJA.
ME: No, honey, that's you!
MADELEINE: I have big, big tummy!
ME: Oh, yeah? Do you have a baby in there?
MADELEINE: Yeah, I have Julia hiding MADELEINE'S tummy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Animal workout

Our latest trip to the Y, or the "Y-Y" as Madeleine affectionately likes to call it, seems to have inspired Madeleine's pretend play this morning.

STEGOSAURUS: Yeah, we can go Y-Y.
HORSE: Mooooo!
STEGOSAURUS: (soothingly) Don't worry, you can go Y-Y.

Once at the Y, the horse and the dinosaur engaged in some wildly enthusiastic aerobics:

Work it, animals, work it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Joyeux Halloween

Julia, after coming downstairs in the morning well after Madeleine and I were up, felt the need to explain what had kept her up in her room for so long. Or, at least I think she was trying to explain. I admit I didn't quite follow her logic at times.

JULIA: Mama, do you know why I was up in my room for a long time? I was counting the days that are left before Halloween, and then I realized... (pointing to a miniscule spot on her leg)
ME: Oh, you got a little bruise, huh?
JULIA: No, Mama, it's red!
ME: Oh, okay. It must just be a little tiny cut or something.
JULIA: Mama, I was squealing with joy of joys, because... soon it's gonna be HALLOWEEN!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday adventures

Another ordinary start to the day at the Rowe household:

This outfit didn't stay on all day, unfortunately, since the whole Rowe family took a trip to church this morning. Ethan had the day off from his choir gig in Wellesley, and since I haven't been able to drive myself to church since June, he generously agreed to drive us all over to Somerville so I could finally attend a service.

Julia went down with the Sunday School kids, as usual, while Madeleine came up into the choir loft with Ethan and I. Something must have happened to her over the summer because the Madeleine I knew in the choir loft last spring spent the entire service crawling underneath pews, jumping on chairs, trying to open the door to the stairwell, coloring in the music books, and running up and down the steps in the loft. Today she sat quietly through the entire service, flipping through Halloween books and eating animal crackers. Who is this kid!?!?? She was so quiet that several choir members kept looking around for her to see if she was actually up in the loft with us.

That's not to say she was unstimulated by the church environment, however. When we went down for Communion, she got to see her old buddy Jesus up on the church ceiling, and when we got back up to the choir loft, she started wondering where he had gone.

MADELEINE: Where the genie go?
ME: The genie?
MADELEINE: Where the genie go?
ME: Do you mean Jesus?
MADELEINE: Yeah, where the Jesus go?

She even faked a need to use the potty in a ploy to go downstairs and see the Jesus. At the end of the service, her desires were fulfilled, as we stood down in the church waiting to greet Father and receive our anditheron. We waited in the back of the church during announcements, and Madeleine happily and loudly pointed out her friend to Ethan and I over and over again. "There it is! There's the JESUS! See it Dad? I see the JESUS!" Followed by a bunch of twirling which was punctuated by a leaden-footed jump every now and then. "There He is! There's the JESUS!"

As we drove home in heavy traffic, Madeleine began to conk out, and I gave Julia the very important job of keeping her sister awake. Julia carried out this role by singing "Frère Jacques" on repeat for the entire rest of the drive. The more she sang, the more "Fronch" she tried to make her pronunciation, until she was so satisfied with herself she asked me, "Mama, when I sing Frère Jacques in French, don't I sound like I really SPEAK FRENCH?" Madeleine tried to jump in a few times with "Are you fweepin'?" but Julia would quickly drown her out, singing "Frère Jacques" loudly over her sister. Thankfully, it did the trick and kept Madeleine awake until we were home and she could nap properly in her crib.

When I asked Julia if I could take a video of her singing and sounding so French, Julia replied, "Of course you can! I would be HONORED."

So, here you go, yet another video of "Frère Jacques":

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday fun

Here's how Madeleine has spent her day so far:

Wearing an astronaut helmet, dress shoes, and no pants.

Going on the potty.

Umm... eating her pajamas, I guess...

Walking around with her hands down her pants.

Here's what Julia has been up to today:

Coloring ("Instead of James and the Giant Peach, it's like The Ghost and the Giant PUMPKIN!")

Quoting Ethel Hallow's lines from "The Worst Witch"

In other words, a typical day for the girls!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Madeleine videos

For those not on facebook, I will repost this video of Madeleine dancing here. Watch her boogie-down to music from the 16th century royal courts:

And in this next video, she once again performs her favorite song, "Two Little Blackbirds," this time with much more accuracy:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Worst Witch

Julia received a surprise gift in the mail early this week: a DVD of the made-for-tv movie from the 80's, "The Worst Witch." Sent by Auntie Shannon, this gift was a passing-down of our childhood favorite Halloween movie, and even though the music and special effects are completely outdated, Julia was absolutely enchanted by it. In fact, one might say obsessed. She has watched it every single day since receiving it, and has taken to randomly quoting lines from the movie throughout the day, often to people with no familiarity with the movie, with no reference to what she is referring. For example, our Tuesday night baby-sitter showed up last evening and received this greeting from Julia:

ILANA: Hi, Julia.
JULIA: (in a faux British accent) When I say faster! I order DISASTER! Mildred Hubble, the DISASTER AREA. Go ahead, smarty-pants.

Hi, Ilana. My daughter is not weird AT ALL.

Despite her everyday viewing of this movie, there remain a few things she hasn't quite sorted out in her head. Given that the witches all live at a boarding school together, it's understandable that Julia would think they are somehow related. After I explained that they were all at school, not living at their collective home, she recognized that the girls were not all siblings. However, she can't quite dismiss the idea that Mildred and her roomate, Maud, are not related. She consistently refers to Maud as "Mildred's sister," despite conflicting evidence presented in the movie's dialogue.

MILDRED: My mother always wanted to be a witch, but she just didn't have the gift.
MAUD: My family were all witches. I never doubted that I would be one too.

Another point of confusion for Julia is the fact that although the people on the screen are real people, they are not actually the characters they are playing.

JULIA: Mom? But are the people in this movie REAL people?
ME: Yes, they're real people. But they're not really witches.
JULIA: How are they not really witches?
ME: Well, they're playing characters. Like the girl who plays Mildred is not really named Mildred Hubble.
JULIA: (dumbfounded) She's NOT?
ME: No, her name is Fairuza Balk and she's just pretending to be Mildred Hubble.
JULIA: But Mama, why are they just PRETENDING to be witches?

For someone with such a vivid imagination and proclivity towards pretend play, you'd think this concept would be a little easier to grasp.

Things got really complicated when she tried to understand how Miss Cackle and her twin sister Agatha were not really two different people.

In addition to watching the movie and talking about it non-stop, Julia has also been acting out her own witch games, complete with broomstick rides, and of course, Madeleine is right behind her, imitating her every move:

Julia also mixed up various potions for me, each one consisting of five ingredients: sand, dirt, a rock, a stick, and a few blades of grass. As she gave me each potion, she informed me of its desired effects. I had sips of a sleeping potion, a potion that made my ears full of earwax, and a potion that made me feel weird. I started talking like weird girl after tasting that one, but Julia quickly informed me I wasn't supposed to do that, even though I thought I was being really funny.

On a completely unrelated topic, Madeleine and I rode the sixxy-nine bus to the Y yesterday, and she spent the bus ride loudly proclaiming the following: "What color is pee-pees? It's YELLOW! Oh yeah, it's yellow. PEE is YELLOW!"

Just in case anyone on the bus wasn't sure of the color of urine, Madeleine made sure to set everyone straight.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Frère Jacques, revisited

Some of you may remember when Julia started singing "Frère Jacques" for the first time; AKA the "Dog my food" days.

Well, we now have a new version to add to the mix of children's first attempts at singing words in French: "Whera Jacques, Whera Jacques, Dog Bamboo, Dog Bamboo..." Here, Madeleine performs her interpretation of the beloved kids song:

Don't worry. Julia was VERY quick to point out Madeleine's language imperfections. I think she gave Madeleine a complex. In this video, Julia came to the rescue singing the song after Madeleine bailed out:

Besides singing "Frère Jacques," Madeleine has been also very busy on the potty over the past few days. Yesterday was the first day during which she stayed completely dry in between potty sits. Today has started off well, even though she wound up stuck on the potty for quite awhile this morning in order to get anything out. She didn't seem to mind her extended stay, because she immediately spotted the most exciting toy on earth: the "hiding tunnel."

Here's hoping Madeleine keeps the potty productions coming!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Project Daddy and Cartacarizza's plight

Julia's Little People play is especially interesting today, so I thought I'd share some of what's going on with the characters we've all come to know and love:

As Cartacarizza put her daughter, Sonya Lee, to bed today, she told of the sad story of how she and Project Daddy were without a home in their early years of marriage.

"When Project Daddy and I got married, we started looking for a house to live in, but all the houses were tooken," she said plaintively. "Finally, we came upon this old farm, and no one was living in it, and the farmer who used to live here left his tractor. And we used it, so then we had to live here."

Since Cartacarizza is the mommy of ALL the Little People, it's a good thing the barn is big enough to fit so many children. Here, she and Project Daddy sit with just a couple of their kids:

Now, given the way they dress, with the tiaras and all, you would hardly expect Cartacarizza and Project Daddy to be the kind of people living in an old barn and driving an old tractor around town, but just because they dress like socialites doesn't mean they act like socialites. Here they are on a school morning, ready to fire up the tractor and haul the kids on over to school:

As the saying goes, don't judge a book by its cover. Although it is interesting that their daughter Sonya Lee has her very own car in which to drive herself to school.

Madeleine also engaged in some pretend play today, taking the My Little Ponies for a romp across our piano. She has clearly done her homework and learned all of names given to the ponies by Julia (both those whose names come from the show/books, and those whose names were lovingly dreamed up by Julia herself.) Here's a video of some of the pony adventures:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Today's quote

This morning, as I lay Madeleine down on her changing pad to change her diaper, she began to fuss over the fact that there were dirty clothes from the night before underneath her head. I quickly pulled the clothes out from underneath her and tossed them into the hamper. Or at least, that's what I thought I did. Madeleine had a different impression:

"Oh, no! My HEAD fell off!"

I guess she must be a loser now.

Here are some of the week's top fashion photos of Madeleine, back when she still had a head:

Friday, October 7, 2011


Julia, as you know, has been learning about China in school over the past few weeks. Today she came home with something extra exciting: chopsticks! She was so eager to use them, she decided to try them out on regular old finger food: apple slices and grilled cheese:

After starting out with limited success, she had this logical explanation for what was going wrong:

"Mama, using chopsticks is very hard if you're NOT FROM CHINA. But I still want to learn anyway, because remember on that Elmo's world there's a girl who uses chopsticks? She must be FROM CHINA. But Mama, is it only if you're FROM CHINA that you can use chopsticks?"

I explained that the two were not mutually exclusive, but she persisted in explaining their level of difficulty to me: "But Mama, don't you think it's a very hard thing to do for someone who's FOUR AND THREE QUARTERS to use chopsticks when I'm not even FROM CHINA? "

Happily, she was able to overcome her adversity, and was so pleased with herself she asked me to dial Daddy's number at work so she could tell him about successfully picking up an apple slice with her chopsticks. When I mentioned that I might blog about her chopstick experience, she was quick to dictate what she wanted me to say. So, here is the whole experience in her own words:

"Julia, after all that practicing, eating her apples with chopsticks, she finally got it so an apple didn't fall off the chopsticks."

Way to go, Jules!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Morning adventure

I had an allergist appointment bright and early this morning, so the kids and I headed out for a sixxy-nine bus adventure. Once on the bus, Julia decided to loudly air all of our family medical issues to the rest of the passengers. "Mom, uh, one time when we visited you in the hospital... not the time when you had Madeleine, the time when we went to visit you in the hospital that's near the Y? Well, when we were going there to visit you, I realized that it was on the same street as my doctor that we went to for my molluscum contagiosum. Yeah, 'cause I recognized the building! I remembered we went there when you were still allowed to drive. But Mom, have you ever had a seizure before? Well, one time, when I was riding home from camp and I was telling about your seizure, Karolina thought I said FEVER instead of SEIZURE."

Hi everybody. I'm riding the 59 bus because I had a seizure and I can't drive. But don't worry, my daughter's molliscum contagiosum has been treated.

When we got to the doctor's office, the girls sat quietly and patiently for about five seconds before showing their deep disappointment and disapproval over the fact that I had not brought toys along to entertain them. The receptionist came to my rescue with a bag of markers and two clipboards with a blank piece of paper for the girls to color. While Julia worked hard on flowers, Madeleine went for a more abstract piece of art, filling me in on what she was drawing: "There it is. I did it. That's the mountain steps. That's STEP! Yeah, that's mountain STEP!"

After the appointment was over, the receptionist offered the girls a lollipop, which, at not even 9 in the morning, was of course the most wonderful treat they could imagine. As I scheduled my next appointment, both girls felt the need to dance and leap around the waiting room proclaiming their joy over having Blow Pops. Madeleine couldn't contain her excitement and had to tell the other woman in the waiting room all about the lollipops. "It's BLUE!" she declared, holding her blue Blow Pop out dangerously close to the woman. "That's Julia's lollipop. It's RED!" she then announced, pointing over at Julia. "That's my LOLLIPOP!" again thrusting her lollipop towards the other waiting patient. Followed by some twirling during which the lollipop repeatedly got stuck in her hair.

As we rode the bus home, the girls debated what was in the middle of their lollipops.
JULIA: Mama, do you think this is a TOOTSIE POP?
ME: No, it has bubble gum in the middle.
JULIA: I don't think it's bubble gum. I think it might be a tootsie pop.
MADELEINE: It's BUBBLE GUP! Yeah, it's bubble gup. Bubble gup. No, it's not bubble gup.

It turns out it was bubble gup, but I was able to stealthily steal Madeleine's pop away before she got to the center.

Now, it wouldn't be a sixxy-nine bus ride without Madeleine loudly pointing out the other people riding along with us. At the stop before ours, a woman who looked to be of Indian descent got on board, prompting Madeleine to announce, "Look, that's Courtney Mommy! Yeah, it's Courtney Mommy right there!"

As always, showing off her spot-on observational skills.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Potty success, and Tales from China

Madeleine has had a dry diaper all morning, going pee on the potty three times and poop once. Hooray! As I wiped her after one of her successful attempts, I congratulated her:

ME: GREAT JOB, Madeleine!! You're such a big girl, doing potty training!
MADELEINE: I want go potty train?

She must be imagining riding the potty train is as exciting as riding the sixxy-nine bus.

Julia is showing her newfound skills in different ways. Her class at school is learning about China (hence the great trophy of China in the bathtub), and she has been practicing writing her numbers in Chinese. She has even learned how to say a few things in Chinese, and had a special visitor to her classroom. She filled me in on everything yesterday:

JULIA: Mom, did you know that at school we're learning about China, and a girl's mommy came in, and we were all saying "Ni hao! Ni hao!"
ME: Was it Leah's mommy?
ME: Did you know that Leah's mommy grew up in China?
JULIA: She did?
ME: Yeah! And did you know that Leah's mommy and Karolina's mommy and I all went to grad school together, to study music?
JULIA: (thoughtful) And Mama? Was it in China?

Boston, honey. Close.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Madeleine Rowe, age 2

In case you're wondering if anything is different now that Madeleine is a big two-year-old, I can assure you she's still the same little girl who loves to sit herself in awkward, unusual, and sometimes downright dangerous places:

And she continues to enjoy wearing costumes of various kinds, especially when it involves being a ballerina along with Julia:

And don't worry, she still provides plenty of verbal entertainment:

MADELEINE: (throwing a ball across the examining room during her 2-year checkup) BOO!
DOCTOR: Good throw!
MADELEINE: Yeah. I scared BALL!

She is, however, showing a bit more progress with her potty training. Or, at least, she started the day off with progress. After a morning of staying dry and going pee on the potty a few times, she then decided to poop in her diaper and continue playing as if unaware of what had happened.

ME: Madeleine, did you poop in your diaper?
ME: Are you sure? I smell poopies.
MADELEINE: Maybe it's Anja's poop. Maybe Anja did poopies.
ME: You think it's Anja's poop, huh? Anja's not here, honey.
MADELEINE: Yeah. It's Anja. UH-OH! I did POOPIES!

On the same topic, but about the other daughter, Julia remains just as Julia-ish as ever. Here is her bath-time creation, the "Great TROPHY of CHINA!":

It was accompanied by a series of dramatic opera arias sung by Ariel, Belle, and the various other bath toys.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Madeleine's Birthday

I can't believe that Madeleine is 2!
She has had a great birthday weekend so far, starting with a trip to Belkin Lookout Farms yesterday to apple pick:

Madeleine spent most of the farm visit sitting atop Daddy's shoulders, holding two apples for dear life. At some point she must have gotten tired of the apples, though, because without any warning, she dropped both, letting them bounce along the ground, guaranteed to become bruised and rotten. The highlight of the trip for both girls was the children's play area, boasting a bouncy house, face painting, petting zoo, playground, and train rides. In her typical graceful style, Madeleine flung and flopped her body around the bouncy house, spending more of the time face-planted than up on her feet jumping, and loving every minute of it.

As we rode the train from the orchard back to the farm store, Madeleine felt the need to point out who was who on the train:

MADELEINE: Look! (pointing to an older woman in front of us) There's GRANDMA!
YIA-YIA: There's Grandma? I'm your grandma!
MADELEINE: (still pointing at the woman) Oh, yeah, that's GRANDMA!

Following our apple picking adventure, we celebrated Madeleine's birthday a day early with Yia-yia and Aunties Shannon and Caitlyn, complete with an apple cake and presents:

This morning, I made pumpkin pancakes for Madeleine's celebratory birthday breakfast, and while she seemed to like them, that didn't stop her from expressing an interest in eating something else as she listened in on a conversation Shannon and I were having:

SHANNON: I don't really like meat that much, but I occasionally eat a burger. Usually a turkey burger.
MADELEINE: (frantically) I want burkey burger??

Now that she's officially two, you may wonder what wisdom Madeleine has accumulated in her past two years of life. Here's a glimpse:

As Madeleine sat on the potty after having peed in her pull-up, Auntie Shannon tried to entertain her and teach her a life lesson at the same time...

AUNTIE SHANNON: Madeleine, where do your pee-pees go?
AUNTIE SHANNON: My pee-pees go in the POTTY. (picking up Madeleine's new doll) Sleeping Beauty, where do your pee-pees go?
AUNTIE SHANNON AS SLEEPING BEAUTY: My pee-pees go in the potty! NEVER in my diaper.
AUNTIE SHANNON AS AUNTIE SHANNON: Madeleine, where do YOUR pee-pees go?
MADELEINE: (joyfully) In my DIAPER!

Wisdom beyond her years, I tell you.