Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Goldens

Forget the Fresh Beat Band. Julia has decided to start her own pop rock band, The Goldens. Over the past few days, she has put on several performances for me, making a stage out of her two little art table chairs, and using an egg-beater for a microphone. All of her songs are self-composed and she requires no back-up singers, so it seems we have a rising star on our hands. Here is some footage from today's live Goldens concert, featuring three new original songs:




Of course, wherever Julia goes, Madeleine is not far behind, so before we knew it, she was requesting a turn up on stage to perform her own songs. I present to you the other hip new one-girl band in our house, "The Flowers":





When Julia is not busy performing her songs, she is busy launching her career as an interior designer. She recently expressed envy over the wall stickers in Madeleine's room and asked if there were any leftover:




I told her we didn't have leftovers, but that I was happy to take a few down for Julia to hang in her room, since Madeleine has so many.

Apparently the stickers I gave her just weren't enough, because I recently discovered some handmade decorations that Julia had taped around her room:




If anyone is interested in hiring Julia for your own interior design, let me know. She specializes in birds and clouds but could potentially offer you pictures of Cowie and binky, too.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bye-bye Binky

Yesterday afternoon, as I got Madeleine ready for nap, I discovered a big hole bitten through her beloved, and one and only, binky. I had been planning to try and wean her from binky over the summer, when I would be home from work and off from chorus rehearsals, so that I wouldn't have to subject baby-sitters to her potential non-sleep. However, the opportunity presented itself, so while explaining that binky was broken and that it was dangerous to use it with the plastic coming loose, I threw it in the garbage with Madeleine watching.

My hopes had already been pretty dim as to whether or not she would nap, seeing as every few days now she tends to skip a nap, a sign that perhaps she is beginning to outgrow napping. (Hopefully it will be a sloooooow, prolonged outgrowth, though...) Once binky was out of the picture, I figured the chances of nap were pretty marginal, though I was determined to try no matter what. As I lay snuggling her on the couch in her room, singing her a lullaby, I lost even more hope.

MADELEINE: Binky just BRAKED! (voice choking up) He just got a HOLE in him and you had to throw him away. (fighting back tears to no avail) And I just berry, berry SAD!

Luckily, we had Julia around to come in and save the day. "Madeleine, I have something for you," she said, running into Madeleine's room, beaming. Thrusting a piece of paper towards her sister, she exclaimed, "I drew a PICTURE of binky for you!"


Julia's picture of binky, with some additional drawings Madeleine later added to the picture

As authentic a drawing of binky as it was, it just would not do the trick, and Madeleine remained berry, berry sad as I tried to lull her into drowsiness.

So, is this going to be a story about how despite the odds stacked against us, Madeleine rose to the challenge and took her nap without binky?

Nope! No nap at all. I will give her credit, though; she didn't cry or lament at all during the two hours I had her in the crib. Instead, I heard various happy noises coming from her crib. Things like this: (loud, repetitive thumping noises) "JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!"

So, yeah. No nap. I looked towards the evening with dread, certain I was going to be woken up all night long by wails for binky. Thankfully, here is where she triumphed. Within a half hour of putting her to bed, I went to check on her, and found her sound asleep, albeit with a somewhat puckered grimace on her face, as if she dreamed of having binky in her mouth:



Not only did she conk right out, but she slept straight through the night. Hallelujah! Now, I am WELL aware that there will likely be other naps and nights of fractured sleep as she adjusts to life without binky, but I will happily take any successful night I can get. I have been telling her all morning how proud I am of her for sleeping like a big girl without binky last night. "Yeah," she affirms. "Cause he BROKED. He just got a HOLE."

In addition to drawing binky, Julia had an artistic inspiration this morning after watching an Elmo's World about mail. Running up to the printer to get a piece of blank paper, she announced, "Mama, okay, DON'T LOOK at what I'm doing!" The rest of the art project went as follows:

JULIA: (finished with her coloring) Mama, can you get me an envelope?
ME: (handing her an envelope)
JULIA: Mama! I can't get the envelope to stick shut!
ME: Did you lick it?
JULIA: Yes, but it won't stay shut! Can you help me?
ME: Why don't you go get your outfit on for school while I tape it shut.
JULIA: Okay, but when I come down I need a stamp! (trotting upstairs and coming down with her outfit.)
ME: Here, I taped it shut.
JULIA: Can you please get me a stamp?
ME: Well, I can't give you a real stamp, because they cost money. But I can give you a sticker that looks like a stamp.
JULIA: Okay. (taking the sticker from me, writing something on the envelope, and running down to the front door.)

A moment later...

JULIA: MOOOOM! It looks like we got MAAAAAAIL! (running upstairs and handing me an envelope addressed as such:



JULIA: I know it must be for us because it says 322!

I opened the envelope and found a picture of two flowers inside.
ME: I LOVE IT! What a beautiful picture!
JULIA: (nearly exploding with eagerness) It's from ME! Did you think it was real mail? It's from ME!

I NEVER would have guessed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beethoven and Barbie

The girls' latest movie obsession is "Barbie: Pegasus," in which an ice-skating princess and her sister-turned-Pegasus are reunited to battle the evil sorcerer who has been wreaking havoc on the kingdom for years. The thing I like about this movie is that the background music consists mainly of excerpts from Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony, which just happens to be one of my favorites. There is a big elaborate ice-skating scene which is set to the symphony's third movement, a minuet, and the main theme music that recurs throughout the movie is the symphony's first movement. Yesterday, after the movie finished, I wordlessly popped my CD of the "Pastoral" Symphony into the CD player and let the music begin.

"MAMA!" Julia cried, incredulous. "You have the music to this??"

Hearing this music was the perfect stimulus to trigger gallop time. Madeleine joined in as well, although when the minuet movement began, she must have remembered the ice-skating scene in the movie, because next thing I knew, she was sliding her body around in circles, wearing tap shoes, telling me to watch her skate. You can all probably imagine the end result of Madeleine twirling in crooked circles on the hardwood floor wearing slippery tap shoes. Happily, she is the type to laugh over her wipe-outs rather than get dramatic. Unhappily, this made her want to recreate her wipe-outs over and over again to amuse us.

Today Madeleine is much calmer, and has been amusing herself with pretend play rather than violently throwing her body to the ground. Unicornio, Dora and Diego were up to their usual antics, ready to go on some really exciting adventures:


UNICORNIO: Hang on, guys. I'll be right back. I forgot my bagel.
MADELEINE: (holding a chocolate chip bagel bite to Unicornio's mouth) Here you go, Unicornio!
UNICORNIO: fake smacking and eating sounds
DORA: (to Diego) HEY! What you doing, OLD FELLA?
DIEGO: I'm going to the Sudbury Farms so I can do it.

This was followed by some incidental music, sung by Madeleine. "Dun dun da da da, dun dun da!"

DORA: (to Diego) HEY! WHAT YOU DOING, OLD FELLA!
DIEGO: (silence)

Incidental music, once again. "Dun dun da da da, dun dun da!"

Madeleine suddenly lost interest in taking Diego to the Sudbury farms as she spied her "Hello Kitty" coloring book. As she began coloring one of the figures with a black marker, she began pretend talking her coloring book friends.

HELLO KITTY: Waaa Haaaa Haaaa Haaaa! I'm just stuck in the BLACK!
MADELEINE: (to Hello Kitty) Stuck in the black??

I guess she didn't feel any sympathy for her prisoner, because she studiously continued coloring every detail of the Hello Kitty figure black.

When she had finished coloring, she announced to me:
"Look it! Look at her GRANDFATHER!"

Whether Hello Kitty became a grandfather when she turned into a black cat, or whether Madeleine was pretending she was a grandfather all along is a mystery to me.

I wonder how Diego's doing at the Sudbury Farms. I could have used a little resolution on that riveting adventure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Farewell to the Snaggletooth!

This morning, as Julia sat happily eating her chocolate chip bagel and watching "Curious George," she suddenly received an unexpected surprise in her mouth.

"MOM!" she cried in distress. "I feel like I have to spit out my food! There's something crunchy in my mouth!"

I went over to take a look and discovered that, at long last, her crooked, blackened snaggletooth had FINALLY come all the way unhinged!



Never mind that she swallowed it. It's gone, it's finally gone. This tooth has been driving us all crazy, as we watched it die a slow, gruesome death, turning black, and coming loose from the gum on one side, only to hang crooked from the other end, while the tooth underneath began growing in. Nearly everyone who knows Julia has begged for a chance to try and pull the tooth out, including the doctor who diagnosed her ear infection yesterday, but Julia was so averse to letting anyone touch it that she preferred to leave it dead and dangling indefinitely.

As we headed off for school, Julia was on cloud nine, skipping around the kitchen gathering her school things, chirping, "Mama, don't forget to tell ALL my teachers at school that I lost my tooth!"

When we got to school, we began to spread the news. Or, rather, I spread the news, while Julia interjected various critical comments to let me know I wasn't doing the story justice.

ME: Hey Julia, here's Miss Jessie. Do you want to tell her your news?
JULIA: (looking at me shyly, then blurting some nonsensical goofy gibberish)
ME: Do you want me to tell her?
JULIA: (nodding, mouth clamped shut)
ME: Julia FINALLY lost her crooked, black tooth!
MISS JESSIE: You did, Julia! I noticed that tooth and I wanted to pull it out for you!
ME: Yeah, so did everyone, but she wouldn't let us touch it.
JULIA: MOOOOM! You don't need to say that!
ME: It fell out while she was eating her bagel. All of a sudden she started saying "I feel like there's something crunchy in my mouth!"
JULIA: No, no, MOOOOM! Don't make it sound like I was CRYING!

We then moved into the main classroom, where we got to tell the school director about Julia's tooth. The director's response? "Oh, you finally lost that tooth? I asked Julia if I could pull it out for her, but she didn't want me to."

We then moved outside, where another classroom teacher was greeting the kids.

MRS. O: Hi, Julia!
JULIA: (loudly) MOM! Why are you telling everyone about my LOST tooth?
ME: (taking my cue) Mrs. O, Julia lost her front tooth!
MRS. O: You did? I noticed that tooth!

Yes. We all noticed. Thank goodness it's finally out!

Madeleine was completely oblivious to the whole tooth loss ordeal this morning, as she was totally absorbed in her morning tv. While watching "Elmo's World," which happened to be about sleeping today, she felt the need to enact the episode's theme. Alternating between laying down on a pillow on the couch and fake snoring with sitting up and exclaiming, "I waked up!", she was fully engaged in the program's message. However, when it was time for Elmo to interview a talking bed, Madeleine suddenly seemed thrown. "What are THOSE pillows talkin' about?" she asked me.

Later on in the morning, Madeleine sat peacefully coloring at the dining room table, attempting to tell herself the story of Goldilocks. Both girls have been obsessed with my telling of this story (complete with songs from my embarrassing early teenage composer days, during which I put on a puppet show musical of the story) ever since I told it to Madeleine to entice her to stay put on the potty until she peed. I sat there this morning, listening to Madeleine's version of the story:

MADELEINE: And she took a bite of porridge and she said, "OUCH! This porridge is TOO burny. I burned my mouth!" And she took a bite of another porridge and she said, "OUCH! This porridge is just right." And she ate it ALL UP.

Perhaps that can perfectly sum up Julia's breakfast experience this morning. OUCH! This tooth is TOO crunchy! I ate it ALL UP.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheeks, Potty, and Pretend Play

Last night before bed, I started getting too enamored with Madeleine's fleshy, kissable little cheeks and I got that truly bizarre, but universal, desire to take a huge chomp out of them. "Madeleine, can I eat you for dessert?" I asked her. Usually she allows me to take pretend chomps out of her cheeks and give her big smooshy kisses, but last night she just wasn't game. "Uh, you want some bread?" she offered me, conciliatory. "No, I just want some Madeleine cheeks for dessert!" I exclaimed, to which she laughed nervously and then attempted to wriggle herself down off of my lap on the couch.

Bummer. No Madeleine cheeks for me.

This morning, once Julia was off at school, Madeleine herself seemed to have an endless appetite, downing bread, two bowls of goldfish, and two cups of milk. Next thing I knew, she was frantically running towards the bathroom, needing to poop. I have no idea why both my children felt the need to strip down naked in order to poop at this age, but Madeleine has completely followed suit, and just like Julia, must have all her clothes off in order to be comfortable enough to poop. And, may I point out, Julia has been weaned from this habit for years now, so it's not like Madeleine has actually seen Julia's example and is trying to parrot it. No, for some very odd reason, both my children need to be free of any clothing restraints when they poop, although Madeleine does not shout to me from behind closed doors, and instead entertains herself with toys while she uses the potty, so at least I don't have to sit around shouting answers through the door to her.

I guess she felt so free and unconfined with her clothes off that she decided to keep them off even after she was off the potty. So off she went to the windowsill in just undies and a ponytail, setting up a pretend play game with Unicornio, Dora Mermaid, and Sleeping Booty:




A little excerpt from her pretend play dialogue:

UNICORNIO: Hi, Sleeping Booty.
SLEEPING BOOTY: AAAAAAHHH! It's ROUGH day. Waaah, waaaah.
UNICORNIO: Who's cryin'?
SLEEPING BOOTY: It's a rough day, Unicornio.
DORA: It's okay, Sleeping Booty. It's just a rough day.
UNICORNIO: Dora, are you okay?
DORA: I'm okay. (falling off the windowsill)
MADELEINE: (screaming in frustration, then getting over it and picking Dora up and settling her back on the windowsill.)
UNICORNIO: (flying off the windowsill)
DORA: Hey, Unicornio, where are you going?
UNICORNIO: To the palace. To take a picture of my feet.
MADELEINE: (running into the dining room) Mommy? Can you take a picture of Unicornio's feet?
ME: Uh, okay.



MADELEINE: Oh, no! I forgot my DUCKIE! (running off to get Puddles, who then joined the game.)
PUDDLES: Ta-DAAAA! Can I ride on you, Unicornio?
UNICORNIO: Sure you can.
PUDDLES: Unicornio! Where you GOING?

Soon Dora and Diego were also riding on Unicornio.

DORA AND DIEGO: (climbing on Unicornio) Let's drive aboard! Let's drive aboard! Do it! FRIENDS!

Next thing I knew, Dora and Diego were violently beating each other up and screaming.

DORA AND DIEGO: NO! WE DON'T HIT EACH OTHER!
DIEGO: (perfectly civil) Are you okay, Dora?
DORA: Yeah.
DORA AND DIEGO: (dancing around together) Yay! Don't forget your doggie! Don't forget your doggie! And come on, VAMONOS!

It's a good thing the plot and dialogue in her game are so easy to follow. I totally get what's going on.

Now, I am off to the doctor to get Julia's ears checked. Come on, Julia! VAMONOS! FRIENDS!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dinner Party and Ear Pain

Last night, the girls got to have a dinner play-date with two of their best friends, Nate and Anja. While the typical dynamic during Nate and Anja play-dates is for Julia and Nate to go off and play some "big-kid" games that the little ones don't partake in, last night all four kids seemed to enjoy playing all together. They spent an extensive amount of time building with blocks, working somewhat parallel and independently on their own constructions while also taking time to admire each others work:




Julia and Nate busied themselves making parking lots for the matchbox cars, while Madeleine wanted to build a "blanket." As Julia pointed out, it wound up looking much more like the pile of mattresses from "The Princess and the Pea" than a single blanket, but I appreciate the creative mind at work.

As we all sat down to dinner, Ethan decided to put on some kids' music in the background to keep the little ones entertained and allow time for the grown-ups to talk. He couldn't have chosen better music than "Free to Be You and Me." As soon as the opening song began, the kids all lit up, and as I turned around to glance at the little art table, where Madeleine and Anja were dining, I found it empty. Looking into the living room, I discovered them dancing with wild abandon:



It wasn't long before it was a four-person dance party:



We did manage to wrangle everybody back over the the table to eat dinner, and afterwards, the kids all took their dessert into the living room to better hear the music. Ethan and I got to see a flash-forward to Julia's upcoming teenage years, as she and Nate wound up sitting on the couch together for the entirety of the album, listening to each track intently and occasionally commenting to each other on things they liked about the album. Madeleine, as you can probably guess, was not interested in sitting quietly to listen, and instead continued to flail herself ungracefully around the living room floor with thumping feet and "bizzying" twirls. During the tracks which are spoken rather than sung, she would look at me in utter confusion, inquiring, "Mommy? What's DAT one?" I know that in this household CD tracks that don't contain music are UNHEARD of.

Despite her busy social evening, Julia had a pretty rough night of sleep, largely due to a bout of ear pain. In fact, I tried to get her into the doctor today, but they're all booked up until tomorrow, which complicates things. In the middle of the night, I heard a sudden wailing, and assuming it was Madeleine and that she had dropped binky out of her crib, I went rushing into her room. It turns out Madeleine was not the wailer, although she WAS sitting up cross-legged in her crib, hanging out with Cowie. After laying her back down, I went to check on Julia, who was writhing around, half-asleep, in her bed, crying out over and over. I tried to rouse her and ask her what was wrong, but unfortunately she is prone to both sleep-talking and sleep-walking, and makes absolutely no sense when she's not fully awake (for example, the night a few weeks ago when she came to wake up Ethan and mumbled on and on about how she wanted more mucus in her nose.) She kept slurring something incoherent about her blanket, but once I finally had her fully awake, she told me her ear was hurting. I wrapped my arms around her and tried to snuggle her back asleep, commenting, "I wonder if you have an ear infection."

"Mama!" she exclaimed, as if she had just discovered that we have some secret, life-long bonding type of thing in common. "That's what I was thinking!"

As I lay cuddling her, she grew quiet, and I complacently patted myself on the back, thinking I had relaxed her back to sleep, when suddenly she observed brightly, "So, Mama, I saw that Madeleine brought Puddles with her to nap today!"

Needless to say, it was a long time before she was able to get back to sleep, and both Ethan and I lost a good amount of our own sleep because of it. I do wish I could get her into the doctor today, especially because, in her own words, "My ear is hurting so much that I was just, like, pressing it into my pillow, and I just kept saying, 'Ear, PLEASE stop hurting!"

This morning, she was still asleep with half an hour until school, so I regretfully had to wake her up. She stared at me groggily, then climbed out of bed and drowsily followed me down the stairs. "Mama?" she informed me. "Sometimes when I was asleep and I just woke up, I still feel a little bit sleepy, like I could just fall back asleep, so I feel like my head is just wobbling all around."

My poor wobbly-headed, sore-eared little girl! Here's hoping the doctor's visit tomorrow will provide some relief for her!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Little People, Expanded

When I first started this blog, back in 2010, I introduced you to some of Julia's beloved Little People characters. Now that we have accumulated even more houses, vehicles, and figurines, the whole Little People world has grown and Julia's games take a whole new level of setup and character development. There are now four households of Little People, and today I had the pleasure of taking a guided tour of their town.


My trusty tour-guide.

First stop was the Mint household, home of the oft-mentioned Sarah Mint, (sometimes referred to as Mintz in my past Little People posts, but Julia was sure to correct me on that) among many others. As Julia described it to me, Pilot Paula and Police Officer Patrick are the mommy and daddy of the household. Grandmother and Grandfather live there too, because, in their poor elderly misfortune, they don't have a house of their own, so they have to live with their daughter and her family:


Back row, left: Heads of Household Police Officer Patrick and Pilot Paula
Back row, right: Grandfather and Grandmother
Front row, left to right: Offspring Sonya Lee, Sarah, Baby Madeleine, and Maggie.

Next stop on our tour was Princess Mia's house. Now, I must point out, Princess Mia used to live with her parents, Cartacarizza and Project Daddy, but now that she grew up, she lives on her own. Princess Mia is 33, and her parents are 34 and 35, so I guess puberty hits the Little People much earlier than it does us regular folk. Princess Mia is far from her glory days in the castle with her royal parents, as she is now a single mother of 8, one of whom is a monkey. When I asked Julia who is the daddy of all the kids, she responded, as if I were a little thick, "Mom! She didn't get MARRIED!"


Princess Mia and her brood of children: Dora, Sonya Lee, Baby Laurie, Boots, Laurie, Scott, Michael, and Sarah Bohan (not to be confused with Sarah Mint.)

Onward to visit Princess Mia's parents, who are busy with a whole new flock of children. Apparently Project Daddy and Cartacarizza were empty-nesting; since Princess Mia's departure, they have added four new kids to their family. They have also left the comfort of their royal abode and now live in the spooky environment of the haunted Halloween house. They have CLEARLY traded up.


Back row: Parents Project Daddy and Cartacarizza
Front row, left to right: Elina, Maggie, Maggie, and ZeeZee.


The final spot was the barn, which is home to Patrick Oldon and his family. Patrick's father is not a farmer, but rather a bus driver. Their home must be a converted barn, seeing as there are neither farmers nor animals at their house.



From left to right: Patrick, Michael, Sonya Lee, Michael's twin brother Michael, mother Sonya Lee (red hat), Eddie (blonde hair), and the father, Bus Driver.

The Little People regularly all convene in some central location, taking their various vehicles to the appointed place. Usually the place they all meet is school, since all of the kids, even the babies, go to school, and there is only one teacher, who happens to be Princess Mia. Oddly, Project Daddy, Cartacarizza and family do not take the royal coach to school, but rather a tractor. Since their father is a bus driver, the barn folk do not have a tractor but instead take the school bus to get from here to there. Princess Mia's one remaining vestige of her royal upbringing is her royal coach, which she uses for transportation. And the Mint family takes the old reliable purple minivan, which is most fitting with the household from which they come.

After my tour, I must conclude that the Little People town is a delightful place to be. Come and visit anytime!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Puddles

Today the girls received a treat in the mail: Easter dresses and Beanie babies from Yia-Yia. Madeleine was the happy recipient of a duck Beanie baby, whose name, according to the accompanying tag, is Puddles, and Julia received a sheep named Fleesia. The girls were so excited over their new toys that they actually opted to bring them along to the Town Hall today, on a trip to pick up a new dump sticker for our car. After our business in the treasurer's office, we played outside on the Town Hall green, where the kids had a blast. Madeleine carried Puddles along with her faithfully, running its body up and down everything in sight; the benches, the body parts of the bronze statues, a random girl's leg, what have you. In fact, in initiating contact (albeit unsolicited duckie-rubbing contact) with this other child, Madeleine made a new friend. This other girl must have been at least nine years old, but she was completely taken with Madeleine, and before I knew it, they were chatting away and Madeleine was even sharing her duck. I heard Madeleine proudly proclaim, "Her name is PUDDLES!" and I sat there amazed that she remembered the name I had read from the Beanie baby tag.

Julia was not in the mood to be social, and instead got lost inside her own head, playing a pretend game in which the circle of bronze statues holding hands were real children, her good friends, who had been turned to stone. She alternated between running off to various trees on the green, taking action to try and find a way to save the children, and sitting in the middle of the circle of statues with a solemn, contemplative look on her face. "Mama, were you wondering why I kept sitting down and looking so SAD?" she asked me as we walked towards the car on our way home. "Because I was pretending that all of my friends were real people who were turned to STONE," she informed me, delighted.

As I got the kids into the car, I said, "Madeleine, I saw you made a new friend and you even shared your duck! Do you remember your duckie's name?"

"Yeah. POND," she said with complete self-assurance.
"Pond!?" I teased her. "I thought it was Puddles!"
"Yeah, it's just PUDDLES," she corrected herself.

I opened the driver's side door and got into my seat, and as I was buckling myself, Madeleine piped up again, saying, "Yeah, her name is just Puddles, but I just called her LAKE!"


Puddles. Also knows as Pond, or Lake.

After dinner this evening, the girls were clambering all over Ethan, asking him to read books. At one point, Madeleine ran off to get a book, and trotted over to me, asking me to read it. I started to instruct her to ask Daddy, but when I saw that it was "The Man and the Vine," a very religious-themed book given to Madeleine by the priest who baptized her, I decided to go easy on him and spare him the discomfort of having to read it. As I read each page, Madeleine was her usual self, pointing out every last detail on every page and asking me to identify it. When we got to a page that displayed an Orthodox cross, I turned to her and asked, "Madeleine, what's that?" "Um, a CROSS!" she declared, and I sat there marveling at how intelligent and verbal she is.

Then I turned to the next page and pointed at the angel icon, asking her what it was. "Um, a GYNA," she stated. "Uh? A what?" I asked, somewhat uneasily. "A GYNA," she responded confidently. I watched Ethan attempting to repress a silent eruption of laughter on the couch across the room. "That's an angel, honey," I told her. I have to point out, I *think* that what was going on in her head was that it reminded her of an icon of Jesus, who she sometimes mistakenly calls "Genie." And I suspect in trying to recall the word "genie" she got mixed up and it came out "gyna." Either that, or she has got some truly disturbing religious associations. ("Atta girl!" I can hear Ethan thinking.)


The Gyna.

Speaking of disturbing, Julia has gone to some really crazy lengths to give me compliments lately. Not only does she continue to tell me how beautiful my pimples are, she actually told me yesterday morning, "Mommy, you have a really nice BUM." Then, with a mixture of goofy amusement and mild self-reproach, she added, "Even though your bum is where you go to the BATHROOM out of. But it's just such a BEAUTIFUL, round bum."

Wow. I guess I just really know how to rock my pimples and behind like a hot Mama.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gallop Time, explained

I have mentioned in past blog posts that Julia regularly partakes in "gallop time," during which she gallops with thumpy, leaden feet back and forth between the rooms in the lower level of our house. In fact, any of you who have ever been to our home have likely witnessed gallop time. She is clearly off in some mental fantasy land as she traipses back and forth, as evidenced from the hint of a smile on her face and the faraway look in her eyes. She even mentioned, as some of you may have read in a previous post, that she often thinks about acting out various movies with her friends when she's doing gallop time. What I didn't learn until recently, however, was that it's not only gallop time that provides opportunity for this imaginary world (or what she refers to as "thinking.")

"Mama, do you think that only when I'm GALLOPING I can do my thinking?" she asked me the other day. When I affirmed, she corrected me. "No, when I'm at school and I'm riding my bike really fast, I can do my thinking THEN, too!"

The following night, she let me in a little further into her fantasy world. "Mama, do you think that I can't do my thinking when I'm laying in my bed at night because I'm lying still? I DO think when I'm in my bed!" she announced to me.

This got me to wondering what else she imagines, besides acting out out shows with her friends, when she's "thinking." Today I got the chance to interview her on Gallop Time while we were hanging out in the backyard.

ME: Julia, I was wondering, when you're galloping, or riding your bike at school, or laying in bed at night, what do you think about?
JULIA: Um, people.
ME: What kinds of people?
JULIA: Um, people with dark skin, and people with light skin.
ME: Do you think about people you know, or people you wish you could meet?
JULIA: Well, I think about people I don't know, that I just made up.
ME: Oh, okay.
JULIA: And I also think about my friends and imagine we're putting on a show and singing songs.
ME: Oh, so you imagine you're characters in a show?
JULIA: Yeah. But, Mama, the only songs I ever think of are "If You Wanna Be My Mother" and "I Want You Back."
ME: Oh, I see, so you don't, like, imagine you're in the movie Rapunzel and you're singing her part in the songs or anything like that?
JULIA: Well, I imagine that me and my friends all have Rapunzel HAIR that's not attached to our heads that we can, like, swing around on, and when the boys at school are, like, running around and chasing us we can just swing on our hair and go up into the trees and get away.

Awesome. Rapunzel hair: the perfect getaway tool.

Madeleine did plenty of running around herself today, although I don't think she was imagining she and her friends were swinging around on Rapunzel wigs. Thankfully, using so much energy playing outside allowed her to fall asleep for nap today, since yesterday was another non-nap day. After two hours of listening to her babble on the baby monitor, I went up to her room, resigned, and sighed, "Okay, let's get you up." She gleefully spit out her pacifier and leaped to her feet. "YEAH! Let's get me UP!" she exclaimed. I did not share her cheerful mood. "Well, yeah, you can just get up, because I guess you're not going to nap," I commented bitterly. "Yeah!" she cried merrily. "I'm NOT going to NAP!"

Aside from not napping, she has also been refusing to pee on the potty at my urging. (In other words, she is acting like a completely typical two-year-old.) If she decides she wants to go potty it's one thing, but if I suggest she go and then put her on the pot, she will stubbornly hold her pee and insist she doesn't need to go, no matter how long it has been since her last toilet trip. As we got ready for nap today, I instructed her that we would be trying the potty and then going upstairs, and I asked for her cooperation, which she was willing to give me. That is, until I actually said, "Okay, then let's go on the potty." Suddenly she decided to completely ignore me and actually run away from the room I was in and start climbing around on the living room couch. This led to a stern reprimand and me putting her on the toilet while glowering in frustration at her.

"I did it!" she cried joyfully as she began peeing. "I'm doin' pee-pees!"
I glowered even harder at her. "I'm not happy," I told her firmly.
Madeleine looked at me in sympathy. "Yeah, you just very, very sad," she astutely observed.

I can see she really gets it.

At any rate, she is now sound asleep in her crib while Julia plays an elaborate Little People game, complete with incidental music, ("Dooo dooo dooooo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo doooo dooo!") so for the moment, all is calm in the Rowe household.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dinner, Again

ME: Madeleine, can you another bite of your dinner, please?
MADELEINE: No, I can't. I just still SCREWING.


Madeleine, hard at work screwing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dinner Time Follies

A Synopsis of Dinner this Evening:

6:10pm: All is off to a good start. Both kids are eating the dinner I cooked, despite its being a repeat of the completely rejected dinner I made a few weeks ago. Ethan had taken the girls out in the backyard before dinner so they were in cheerful moods and had worked up an appetite.

6:12pm: Madeleine picks up an entire fistful of pasta and stuffs it in her mouth, ignoring my frantic, blurted command to eat "ONE AT A TIME!" Madeleine then opens her mouth to speak, exposing nothing but a mass of pasta, which begins spilling out of her mouth onto the table, eliciting an eruption of uncontrollable giggles from Julia. Madeleine then picks up another fistful, stopping after Ethan and I simultaneously shout: "NO, NO, NO!"

6:15pm: Julia begins dipping each piece of pasta into her cup of water. I ask her to please stop. Madeleine exclaims, "Yeah, let's dip our pasta in the WATER!" and makes for Julia's cup. Ethan and I again shout, "NO!" Julia and Madeleine are giggling. Julia decides to milk the moment by grabbing a fistful of her own pasta and trying to stuff it in her mouth. I put an end to that right away. Julia then, suppressing giggles, leans down to eat off her plate directly with her mouth. "JULIA!" Ethan chastises her. Madeleine then leans down and begins eating off of her plate directly with her mouth. Ethan and I shout for it to stop. The girls are in hysterics.

6:18pm: Madeleine begins playing with Candy Corn and making him dance around on the spout of her sippy cup. I ask her to eat her dinner. "No," she responds. "I'm just still makin' him CLIMB THE TOWER." Ethan and I exchange looks and fight the urge to laugh. Madeleine's pretend game gets more elaborate. "I'm LOOKIN' OUT for that SHARK!" Candy Corn yells. Madeleine looks up at Ethan and I to make sure we're listening. "Yeah, that's right, I said SHARK," she tells us with a look of dead seriousness. Julia bursts into giggles, as do Ethan and I. Madeleine decides to ham it up even more. "THAT SHARKY SHARK IS COMIN!" she growl-screams. Julia begins flapping her hand towards Madeleine, growl-screaming, "I'M THE SHARK!" We reprimand them and the shark game comes to an end. Madeleine begins goofing around with Candy Corn once again and Ethan takes him away.

6:20pm: Julia begins telling knock-knock jokes, causing Madeleine to crack up over each ridiculous, nonsensical punchline. Madeleine begins telling knock-knock jokes, causing herself and her sister to giggle uncontrollably. I begin video-taping their inanity:




6:28pm: Julia finishes her dinner and asks for dessert while Ethan is eating bread. Madeleine begins asking for bread and a chocolate cookie, but Ethan reminds her she has hardly eaten her dinner. She stuffs nearly every piece of sausage into her mouth at once, finishes eating, and is finally privy to dessert.

Siiiiiigh. Is it bedtime yet???

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beware the Green Bagel

Madeleine decided to entirely skip her nap yesterday afternoon, despite us putting her in her crib for two hours in the hopes that she'd eventually quit her yapping and fall asleep. My usual ability to snuggle her to sleep proved a failure as well; she was way too busy doing things like sticking Cowie between her toes and exclaiming, "Oh no! She's stuck in the WATERFALL!" and pushing my snuggling arms away, commanding "Stop touchin' me!" to get drowsy. She made it through the rest of the day without problem, and we thought we had the perfect solution to the non-nap when we put her to bed a half hour early and she fell right asleep.

Now, before I can continue the sleep saga, I must back up for a minute and post Ethan's facebook status from yesterday, regarding the St. Paddy's Day bagel we bought, as well as a comment he received from our friend Charlie:

Ethan Rowe
Julia, the creature of routine, regarded the green bagel with skepticism, and preferred to stick with her usual chocolate chip. Madeleine, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to try that green bagel.
Charles Thomas We had a green bagel last week at some point. Cooper was very excited and ate the whole thing. Any guesses what happened to him the next day? (hint: the answer will probably be characterized as TMI.)

Ethan and I chuckled over the comment, not thinking much of it, and not expecting that by evening, Madeleine would suffer much the same fate as had Cooper. After a very big green explosion last night as she sat on the potty, Madeleine seemed chipper and unperturbed by her tummy. Unfortunately, the green bagel continued its assault in the middle of the night, leaving us all awfully sleep deprived. Waking up twice in close succession and crying out from her crib, Madeleine was obviously uncomfortable, but not fully awake enough to vocalize her concerns. The third wake-up was the charm, and as Ethan and I both attempted to comfort her wails, she suddenly blurted out, through her binky, "I need to go POTTY!"

As she sat on the potty making explosive gaseous sounds, she smiled cheerfully at Ethan and I, exclaiming, "Sorry! I forgot." She doesn't seem to understand that only sound-effect explosive gaseous sounds which spew spittle all over people near her and cause uproarious laughter from her sister are cause for apology. The real thing, especially when done over the toilet, is perfectly acceptable. Nevertheless, with each eruptive squirt, she felt the need to happily cry out, "Sorry! I forgot!"

This morning, all the Rowes save Julia were exhausted as we headed off to church, although Madeleine held up incredibly well during the service and Sunday school. She wasn't up to her usual impish behavior, so I suppose there's something to be said for sleep deprivation. After the service, she started to fall apart, however. Along with her slew of other recent irrational fears (such as her room, the vacuum, and the lousy train), she is suddenly petrified of using any other toilet than our own. She will stubbornly hold her pee for the entire time that we're at someone else's house, and today at church was no exception. I performed my usual duty of putting her on the toilet before bringing her to Sunday school, to which she frantically threw her arms around my neck and clambered off the toilet, shrieking, "No PEE-PEES!" At the end of the service, when it had officially been three hours since she had last used the potty, I again brought her to the bathroom, which was quite a feat, considering that I was carrying the pile of crafts both girls did at Sunday School, two pieces of Holy Bread, and three carnations that had been handed out by the priest at the end of the service. The girls decided to help me by each holding a flower, and as I attempted to get Madeleine on the potty one-armed, she repeatedly lashed her white flower out at me as if performing a spell with a magic wand, yelling "NO! I! DON'T NEED! TO! GO! PEE! PEES!"

It wasn't long before the white carnation snapped right off its stem. Which, of course, led to broken-hearted tears. I used that moment to my advantage and stuck her on the toilet, upon which she continued to yell about not needing to go even as a flood of urine streamed into the bowl. To console her afterwards, I let her have my carnation, which was red. How quickly the broken white carnation was forgotten.

When we got into the car, I decided to treat the girls by opening their windows, which is just about their favorite thing to experience while in the car. Any time the window is open, Madeleine loves to stick her right hand out the window and feel the breeze as we drive. Unfortunately, she was inhibited by the fact that today she happened to be holding a carnation in her right hand. Woebegone by her conundrum, she burst into tears, and wailed, as she reached her left hand towards the window, "Mom! I need help to get this hand to go over there!"

Luckily, I had a brilliant solution. "Put the flower in your other hand, Madeleine. Then you can reach out the window." I had to literally talk her through each step of transferring her carnation from right hand to left so that she could then put her right hand out the window. Phew. Crisis averted.

Julia was so excited about her carnation, especially upon learning that it was a real, live flower, that during our car ride home she became intent on picking out which vase to put it in when we got home. And once she gets something on the brain, there is no way she'll forget about it, so as we pulled to a stop in our driveway, she darted out of the car, yelling, "Remember, Mama! I'm going to pick out the vase myself!"

She couldn't have picked a more appropriate vase. It looks kind of like the enchanted rose from "Beauty and the Beast":



Madeleine, on the other hand, was less interested in putting her flower in a vase and more interested in relaying the whole flower saga to Daddy as soon as she saw him. "Daddy, my white flower just BROKED, and I was just still terrified and I broke my flower, and so Mommy gave me her RED flower."

Best of all, she fell right asleep for her nap this afternoon, so I think, barring any more explosive green diarrhea attacks, we are headed in the right direction.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Madeleine-in-the-Box

All around the cobbler's bench, the monkey chased the Madeleine. The monkey thought 'twas all in fun...

POP! Goes the Madeleine!



Although Madeleine didn't refer to it as a box. It was her home. She occasionally rented out a room to Julia too:




Unfortunately, today being Saturday, Madeleine's home was recycled and taken to the dump on our routine weekend errand run. She'll have to make do with the other house she lives in instead.

One of our other Saturday routines, as many of you know, is to pick up bagels in the morning and have family breakfast. After coming into our room to wake us up this morning, Julia decided to be kind and go hang out downstairs by herself so that we could lay in bed longer (Awake: me. Asleep: Ethan.) When I got down, Julia could hardly contain her excitement at having another person to chatter to, and babbled away to me as I was in the bathroom.

"Mama, did you think when you got up that you would find me in my room? Were you SO SURPRISED to find me already downstairs? Mama, I was trying to get everything all ready, and I was getting myself some Golden Grahams, then I was, like, smacking myself in the head, because today's a weekend and we're going to get BAGELS."

I truly appreciate her independence and initiative-taking. It would have been even better if she hadn't felt the need to wake me up before going off to be independent, though.

After our bagels and dump trip, we did our family shop at Trader Joe's. The girls were lucky enough to receive St. Patrick's Day stickers in the check-out line. I guess Madeleine didn't want to be outdone by Julia's model fame, because she decided to get really decorative with the stickers once we got home:




I don't know about you, but I think she ROCKS the stickers-on-the-face look.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Julia Rowe, Top Model

While I was teaching a piano lesson yesterday afternoon, Julia, who was supposed to be quietly entertaining herself while I worked, decided to leaf through my ELLE magazine. Next thing I knew, she was prancing in and out of the living room in various hats and accessories, which wasn't distracting AT ALL for my piano student and I. Since I had to basically tune her out, I wasn't really aware of what she was doing, but after my lesson was done I was able to give her my full attention. What I discovered was that she had been doing a fashion show in an attempt to imitate the various models she had seen in my magazine.

"Mom, do you know how I was smiling?" she asked me.
"Uh, how?"
"I was trying to smile the way they smile in your EYE SHADOW magazine," she informed me.
"Okay, let me see," I prompted.

It was then that I discovered that, much to Ethan's horror, our child is going to be on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 44. She has got the model thing DOWN. Here are pictures from the runway show she put on for me:







Check out her professionalism in the last photo; she manages to keep her composure even while the model behind her on the runway has a total diva-esque melt-down.

Look out, fashion world. Here comes your newest top model!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Enjoying Spring

With the warmer weather we've had recently, the girls are all about wearing dresses and summer shoes to celebrate the upcoming shift in seasons. Madeleine, however, seemed a little confused as to which season is nearing yesterday, as she modeled her outfit for me. "Mommy, look at my BOOIFUL Halloween dress! And my BOOIFUL crocs!"



Whether the dress is a "Halloween" dress because she wore a dress on Halloween or because it's at least slightly orange-ish (more like peachy pink, in my opinion) is unclear, but she certainly does look booiful; I'll give her that.

Along with the impending spring season comes spring allergies, from which Madeleine seems to be suffering the most. With her nose dripping into her mouth ("Mommy! I'm eating my MUCUS!") to the cough that has been keeping her from getting restful sleep during nap and night, she has been a bit under the weather. Yesterday, she sat licking the side of her mouth after I had wiped her face clean of mucus, milk and breakfast stains. I'm not sure if the wipe itself left a tasty residue or if she was just goofing around, but as she sat licking herself, she suddenly exclaimed, "Mmm! Yum yum!" I asked her what was so yummy, and she struggled for a minute, not sure how to describe it, then answered, "Um... ME!" I'm glad she thinks she tastes so good.

When we're not outside in the spring-like weather lately, Madeleine is busy putting together various small Elmo jigsaw puzzles. She is getting pretty proficient at them now, and doesn't need as much help as she once did, though initially she was calling me over to assist her every few seconds. Yesterday, as we put together one of the puzzles, we took turns attaching pieces:

ME: Okay, I think this piece goes here. Let me put this one in.
MADELEINE: Yeah, you can do that one, and I'll do this one. I'll do the NICE DAY.

You can see what a good job she did on the nice day, which is the piece in the right-hand corner:



She has been enjoying her puzzles so much that she didn't want to stop yesterday in order to go pick up Julia from school. As much as she adores Julia, there's nothing like a puzzle to make her callously indifferent towards her sister:

ME: Okay, Madeleine, we need to try the potty and then go pick up Julia from school.
MADELEINE: Nope. I don't need to. I don't need sisters.

Julia, meanwhile, has been busy with a new project: writing a book. She has been planning it all out since last night, telling me, "Well, first I'll draw the pictures, but I'm not sure what kind of words I'm going to say yet, because I have to wait and see what the pictures are going to be. But Mama, if I need to write the words, I can just write that kind of writing that looks like cursive that I do when I'm PRETENDING to write things."

And since Julia never, ever, ever forgets ANY idea she gets in her brain, there she was in my bedroom bright and early this morning, yammering away about the book she was ready to begin. "So, Mama, can you get me some paper, and I'm going to draw the pictures, but Mom, how can we make the pieces stick together?"

I told her to start on the pictures, and when it was all finished, we would attach it. She actually took the initiative to try and tape the book together, but grew frustrated when the tape didn't hold up to the task at hand.

ME: Julia, why don't I just use the stapler for you instead of tape?
JULIA: But what's a stapler? Oh, wait, I think I know. The thing that clicks and makes lots of holes. We have lots of those at school.

She worked diligently on her book all through breakfast, and when it was finished and stapled, she narrated it to me. I am proud to present to you the official copy of "The Horse is Afraid of Going to Camp":


"Once upon a time, there was a very worried horse. He was afraid to go to camp because he thought no one would be his friend."



"Then he smiled, because he saw a lizard on a mushroom."



"He said, 'Would you like to be my friend?' and she said, 'Of course!' And they both lived happily ever after. THE END."


If you would like to contact the author for Q&A on her new book, feel free to email me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bathroom Chatter

For some reason, when Julia goes into the bathroom to poop, it becomes social hour. Ironically, she must have the door closed in order to poop peacefully (though thankfully she no longer needs to strip off all her clothes in order to go), yet she feels the urgent need to chatter away at me the entire time she is in the bathroom behind closed doors. And it doesn't just stop at chatter. She wants a whole conversation. If I don't respond, she'll continue yelling through the door, asking my opinion on whatever she is talking about, or sometimes, lucky me, waiting for my answer to some guessing game she made up. This morning was an especially blabby one.

JULIA: (from behind the closed bathroom door) MAMA? Sometimes, when I'm wearing my clothes on the potty, I wish I didn't have my shirt on, because I'm worried the sleeves will get in the potty. But when I'm wearing short sleeves like my jammies today, I feel happy, because then I know my sleeves WON'T go in the toilet.
ME: Oh. Great.
JULIA: Yeah. MAMA? Did you know that yesterday, when me and Madeleine were outside with Tamara, we saw a SPIDER on the slide? And I didn't just go down the slide, I waited until the spider moved, and THEN I went down the slide.
ME: Oh. That was smart of you.
JULIA: Yeah. Because I'm not SCARED of spiders anymore, but I think my SISTER might me.
ME: Oh, I see. (Wondering whether or not she would pause in her chatter so I could start grinding the coffee beans without offending her.)
JULIA: Yeah, and sometimes, when I'm in my bed, and when I was maybe three, I would think there was a TYRANNOSAURUS REX-
COFFEE GRINDER: RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
JULIA: And I think that maybe it's too scary for my sister so we should wait until she's older.
ME: (silence)
JULIA: So CAN YOU, MAMA? Can you GUESS what it is?
ME: (racking my brain, trying to imagine her thought process... something scary that Madeleine has to wait for... a movie perhaps...) Uh... "The Dark Crystal?"
JULIA: YES! Because do you know what Madeleine might be scared of?
ME: Uh, the Skekses?
JULIA: YES! Even though we're loving Skekses!

-A little interjection here - Julia decided some time ago that ours is a family of loving Skekses. But that is a subject for a different day and a different blog article.-

ME: Oh, yeah, we are.
JULIA: Yeah, because we-
COFFEE GRINDER: RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
JULIA: And that's what I used to think. MAMA! I'm gonna START now!
ME: Start wiping?
JULIA: Uh-huh! Mama, did you know that I really don't like it when I feel like I have to poop or pee when I JUST started playing? Because I know then it's going to be a long time that I'm in the bathroom, just sitting there, because sometimes I think I'm done but then I STILL have to poop-
COFFEE GRINDER: RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
JULIA: Okay, Mama? Mama? MAMA? Come see my POOP!
ME: Wow! You did a foot long.
JULIA: Yeah. But Mama, did you know I used to think it was called a FOOT LOG?
ME: Yes, I remember that.
JULIA: Yeah, because, well, Mama, a poop DOES kind of look like a LOG.
ME: Okay, how's it going with your wiping?
JULIA: (hopping around, bare-bummed, in the kitchen) Uh, I didn't start yet.
ME: Okay, please wipe and wash your hands.
JULIA: (hopping around inside the bathroom, bare-bummed.) Mama? Did you know-
ME: JULIA. WIPE. WASH YOUR HANDS.
JULIA: Oooookaaaaaaay.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Backyard Play

After some morning rain, the day became warm and sunny, and the girls and I have spent a lot of time out in the backyard. While Julia was at school, Madeleine and I hung out in the yard, and Madeleine played with the toy houses and little plastic figurines we keep out there. This afternoon, Julia joined us in the back, and she took to playing with the houses and figurines as well. Seeing as we have only two figurines, a man and a woman, the kids relied remarkably on their own imagination and creativity to immerse themselves into pretend play worlds.

The general gist of Madeleine's game can be summed up as follows:

MADELEINE: (laying the plastic woman figurine in one of the plastic beds) And the girl is going night-night. (fiddling with the pink plastic door on one of the little houses) MOMMY! Can you help me open this PINK DOOR?
ME: (opening the door) There you go.
MADELEINE: The next morning, she woke up. (lifting the plastic woman out of bed.) MOMMY! Can you help me shut this PINK DOOR?
ME: (shutting the door) There you go.
MADELEINE: It's night-night time. So the girl is going in her bed. (laying the woman back in the bed.) MOMMY! Can you help me open this PINK DOOR?
ME: (opening the door)
MADELEINE: The next morning, she woke up. (lifting the plastic woman out of bed.) MOMMY! I need help to shut the PINK DOOR!

Great entertainment. She kept herself busy with this for about twenty minutes. I got to do a lot of opening and shutting of the door so I got my fun in too.

Julia's version of the pretend game was much more complex and involved many more houses and a more varied plot line. She used the same woman as Madeleine had, only this time she wasn't "the girl" and was instead "Dear June." Some snippets of Julia's narration and pretend people conversations:

JULIA: "Let's see what's over here." (Opening up one of the little plastic houses) "It's like MAGIC in here!" she exclaimed. So she decided to make the pool her new home. "Oh, here you are, Dear June. Wait! You're not the real Dear June! What did you do with the REAL Dear June?"

At one moment, a car drove by with its windows open and its music blasting, the bass thumping so loudly it felt like the ground in the backyard was shaking. Julia was momentarily awoken from her Dear June world and asked me, "Mama, where was that, like, AWESOME music coming from?"

Madeleine has been more into the music coming from our car, since we have continued listening to the "Jesus Christ Superstar" soundtrack anytime we drive anywhere. She is particularly excited any time she gets to hear one of her favorite three tracks: "The Bus," "Jesus Christ Stuperstar," or "This Jesus Must Guy."

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Day in Madeleine's Life

Some of you have heard the story of Julia's first introduction to the idea of boy parts and girl parts - and the difference thereof - a few years back. In a nutshell, Julia had asked Ethan, as she stared at him in his boxers when he had first woken up in the morning, "Daddy, why is your vagina sticking out of your shorts like that?"

Undoubtedly, with every child, there is going to be that somewhat-awkward-for-the-parent moment when the child discovers that Mommy or Daddy has different equipment than the child him/herself. That lucky moment happened for Ethan and Madeleine this morning. I had just carried her down from her crib and was bringing her to the potty, just at the moment that Ethan was stepping out of the shower to towel off. Though he had wrapped the towel around his waist by this point, Madeleine was still very much interested in what she had just seen.

"Daddy?" she asked him, hopping off the potty and walking towards him with her finger pointing out. "What's that? What's that thing on your bum?"

After a quick anatomy lesson, Madeleine had newfound knowledge that a) the place she was pointing to was not a bum, and b) the thing that was on the area formerly referred to as a bum was in fact a penis.

"Mommy? Can I see your GINUS?" she asked me, walking back towards me.
"Do you mean my vagina? It's called a vagina. I don't have a penis," I told her.
"Mommy? Can I see your GENUS?"
"I have a vagina, Madeleine, just like you."
"Yeah. I just have a bagina. Kids don't have a penis. Mommies just have a penis."

Despite all the confusion this morning, today was certainly not the first time we have discussed this issue. Madeleine has never before been confused over the fact that both she and I have a vagina, but I guess there's a first for everything.

Later in the morning, Madeleine and I headed to her Creative Movement class, and because it was the first day of the Spring Session, the staff and class members were a little different. Madeleine wasted no time making an impression on everyone, however. Right as the teacher was about to start the music for the opening song, I did a quick wipe of Madeleine's nose. In the split second of silence before the "Good Morning" song began, Madeleine felt the need to announce to the circle full of kids and parents, "I just BLOWED my NOSE."

She also decided it was time for her favorite game: asking the same question over and over despite the fact that she actually knows the answer. For example:

TEACHER: Hi guys! I'm Lily!
MADELEINE: Where's LILY?
ME: She's right there, honey.
MADELEINE: Mommy? Where's LILY?
LILY: I'm right here! I'm teaching your class today!
MADELEINE: Mommy? Where's LILY?
LILY AND MOMMY: Right here.
MADELEINE: But Mommy? Where's LILY?
LILY: And let's say hello to our other friends! Hi, Charlie.
MADELEINE: Mommy? Where's CHARLIE?
ME: He's right there, honey. You know Charlie.
MADELEINE: Where's CHARLIE?
ME: Charlie's right there. Say "hi, Charlie!"
MADELEINE: Mommy? Where's LILY?

In case her circle time behavior convinced all the other class members and parents that she's a total dunce, Madeleine was quick to prove them all wrong when it was time to demonstrate the obstacle course. After Lily walked through all the steps of the various obstacles she had laid out and parents groaned that it would be way too complicated for their children, Madeleine broke forth to tackle the course all by herself, following every instruction Lily had given to a T, executing such feats as hopping over and clearing obstacles, performing a forward roll down an incline, and hanging from the high bar with her arms and touching her toes to the bar. So, even though she apparently doesn't know who Lily is, she was certainly able to follow Lily's instructions.

To finish off the class, Lily hung pictures of various animals around the room, and using a CD track of sound effects, played one animal sound at a time. After the kids identified the particular animal they heard, they would have to run around the room to find the picture that represented said animal. Madeleine wanted to make sure Lily was 100% clear on which animal sound she was playing. Each time a sound would ring out, Madeleine would run to Lily and grasp Lily's shirt in both her hands. Earnestly looking Lily closely in the eyes, Madeleine would shout out the animal ("A HOOOOOORSE!") and then follow with a reassuring pat directly across Lily's bosom.

Every time.

On our walk home, Madeleine spotted a school van, with the "School Bus" sign atop its roof. "Mommy?" she asked me, "What's that on his HEAD?"

Just in case you haven't received enough proof of Madeleine's inherent weirdness, I will leave you with the following series of pictures:



Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Dragon

A few nights ago, as Ethan helped the girls build towers out of blocks, he attempted to mitigate the potential melt-down response to Madeleine knocking down one of Julia's buildings. "Oh no! Did a dragon destroy that building?" he asked, leading to lots of roaring and dragon-related destruction of the remaining blocks. The kids were in pretty fast agreement, however, that it was Daddy who should be the dragon in order to maximize the fun of the game. So down on all fours Daddy went, and before we knew it, we had a three-headed dragon roaming the living room:





This game was so inspiring that over the past few days, Madeleine feels the need to suddenly morph into a dragon and begin her loping dragon walk across whatever room she happens to be in. Sometimes her metamorphosis into a dragon conveniently coincides with a task she's been given; for instance, just as Ethan asked the girls to start cleaning up the markers which had been strewn about the dining room, Dragon Madeleine suddenly took over and began her rampage, paying no mind to the problem of the markers. When Ethan sternly handed her a marker and instructed her to put it away, she bent back down into her dragon stance and dragon-walked the marker along towards the marker bin. At various points throughout the day, it's not unusual to discover a dragon walking and roaring around through the room at our feet. Below, I present to you the ferocious dragon terrorizing our kitchen this morning:




When she's not busy being a dragon, you can also find Madeleine singing back-up in Julia's Fresh Beat-like band performances:



Rock on!

Friday, March 9, 2012

More on Music

The girls' latest choice of driving music is the soundtrack to "Jesus Christ, Superstar," which Julia has decided will serve as our Lenten version of Christmas carols as we lead up to Easter. Julia has taken to singing the refrain from the title song in all sorts of public venues, so that as we're walking through stores, churches, the school hallway, and what not, she is bellowing out, "Jeeeeesus Chriiiiist, Jeeeeeesus Chriiiiist, who are you what have you sacrifiiiiiiiced?" I'm sure her musical additions are heartily appreciated. Madeleine is attempting to wrap her head around the names of the various tracks on the CD so she can request her favorite songs. Some of her requests are easy to understand:

MADELEINE: Mommy? I want "Christ Superstar?"

Others are a bit too vague to allow me full understanding of which specific song she wants:

MADELEINE: Mommy, I want "Jesus Christ?"
ME: Okay. You mean "Jesus Christ Superstar," or one of the other songs that has the words "Jesus Christ?"
MADELEINE: Um, "Jesus Christ."

Sometimes I am at a complete loss as to what song she's requesting, but luckily, Julia can often translate Madeleine-isms for me:

MADELEINE: Mommy, I want "What's Happening to the Bus?"
ME: "What's Happening to the Bus??" I don't know what that is, honey.
JULIA: Madeleine, do you mean "WHAT'S the BUZZ?"
MADELEINE: Um, "What's Happening to the Bus?"
ME: (singing) Does it go "What's the buzz, tell me what's happening...?"
MADELEINE: Yes. I want "What's the Bus."

Mystery solved, thanks to Detective Julia.

Speaking of a child's misinterpretation of the lyrics to pop/rock songs, I present to you, on video, Julia singing the Spice Girls' "If You Wanna Be My Mother:"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fun in the Sun

The weather is warm and gloriously sunny today, putting all of us Rowes in a cheerful mood. So cheerful, in fact, that the kids didn't even give me a hard time about getting dressed this morning, especially since they were excited to get to wear short sleeved shirts today. Julia has generally been good about getting dressed as long as she was the one to pick out her outfit, which, as I mentioned, she is now laying out by the week-load. Madeleine is so averse to getting dressed that every morning the first thing she says to me as I get her out of her crib is, "Mommy, I don't think I need to wear my outfit." All she wants to wear are her Dora jammies. Even if I try to give her some choice in which outfit she wears, it's Dora jammies or bust.

ME: Madeleine, what clothes would you like to wear today?
MADELEINE: Um, some Dora jammies.

Last time we had a baby-sitter here for the evening, Madeleine had a hysterical melt-down sobbing fit because I had left out her cupcake jammies for the sitter rather than her Dora jammies. I will never make that mistake again.

At any rate, the girls have been happily sporting their tee-shirts today, and Julia even opted for flip-flops when we went outside to play. We started off in the backyard, where the kids engaged in various activities such as digging in the sandbox, kicking the ball around, going down the slide, and running around in circles flapping their arms singing made-up songs loudly. Julia, at one point, in her running and singing exuberance, tripped over something in the grass mid arm-flap and was literally airborne, landing with a face plant a foot or so from where she'd stumbled. Luckily, not even the fall could deter her happy mood, and she was quickly back to arm flapping, running and singing.


Madeleine on the slide

After some quality backyard time, we moved into the driveway for an intense, high-stakes game of hopscotch. Madeleine loved getting to throw the rock, despite the fact that she didn't really get the point of the rock throw, at least to start. She was so interested in getting to toss it that she didn't have her competitive edge in play. Instead of trying to score a high number, she was more interested in chucking the rock off to various points of the driveway, or sometimes even onto the lawn. Luckily, Julia was right there to correct her sister ANYTIME Madeleine strayed from the rules of the game. Once Madeleine got the hang of how hopscotch works, she was actually pretty good at throwing the rock, and she threw overhand, no less. Unfortunately, she was not quite as good at interpreting her results.

MADELEINE: It's my turn to throw the rock! (tossing the rock to the 4.) TEN, Mom!
JULIA: No, no, Madeleine, that's FOUR.
MADELEINE: (Stumble-hopping all the way to the end of the hopscotch board)
JULIA: Madeleine, you don't have to hop the whole way across! You just stop at the FOUR.

A few minutes later...

MADELEINE: It's my turn to throw the rock! (tossing it to the 10.) SIX, Mom!
JULIA: Madeleine, you got TEN.

At one point, Julia decided to color the rock with chalk, which I thought was a brilliant idea. That way, whenever Madeleine threw it into the grass, it would be easier to find.

JULIA: Mama, do you know why I decided to color the rock?
ME: Yeah, so that it would be easier to see.
JULIA: No, no, because I wanted to make it look MORE BEAUTIFUL.

Oh. Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

When we got back inside after a good hour plus of fun in the sun, Madeleine declared joyously, "Mommy, I had so much fun playing THE NUMBERS!"

Interesting. Seeing as "hopscotcher" is her go-to word, one would think she could handily supply it here, and actually use it (almost) correctly, but... nope.

Some pictures of the girls having so much fun playing the numbers:






Wishing all you readers sunny weather as well, wherever you may be!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Madeleine Makes Music

Julia is not the only one looking snazzy lately; check out Madeleine's choice of accessory to go along with her cute outfit:




I don't know about you, but I think the purple sunglasses totally make the whole outfit work.

Not only is she a fashion aficionado, but she really knows her music, too. Just as she loves to announce, from the backseat of the car, each track that begins on whatever CD we're listening to ("Whicher Cordy, Mom!" "Leaves that are Green, Mom!" "Two Little Blackbirds, Mom!"), she enjoyed identifying the main musical motif from Beethoven's 5th Symphony this morning. I had put the symphony on as she sat playing with blocks in the living room, and had no idea she was playing particular attention to the music as it played in the background. However, as the symphony progressed, then returned to the main theme again, I was suddenly aware that she had indeed been taking the music in. (For any fellow music dorks out there, I'm talking about the end of the exposition, taking the repeat back to the very beginning of the symphony. For non-music dorks, you are probably still familiar with the very famous main theme of the 5th Symphony, so you can most likely still picture the music I'm talking about.) Hearing the main theme begin again, she joyfully announced, "Dun-dun-dun-DUN, Mom!" When the first movement was over, she gave her usual car CD track request: "That one AGAIN?"

Dun-dun-dun-DUUUUUN!

She even went so far as to compose her own song today, while she twirled around holding Dora Mermaid in a pretend-play reverie. I grabbed my video camera towards the end of her singing, but was still able to capture some of the musical magic, despite her temporary distraction as a UPS (or, in her words, "CVS") truck drove by outside our house):

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drawing and Dinner Time

Madeleine did some more drawing today, this time utilizing the "turned off" red marker to create some interesting shading, as well as creating a Dalmation-zebra hybrid with some black stripes and a stray black spot here and there:




While she did an impressive job coloring, the task at which she did not perform impressively today was that of eating her dinner. As you can see in the following videos, my attempts to encourage her to eat were completely dismissed. It was only the threat of an early bedtime, an hour after dinner was put on the table before her, that finally convinced her it might be worth choking down some food. Mmm. Cold sausage and peas.







Julia did a stellar job on her dinner, and earned herself not one but TWO desserts. Unlike her sister, she wisely figured out that eating while the food is hot is way more fulfilling than eating after it has been sitting out for an hour. But that's not surprising, coming from a future archaeologist. Below, she pontificates on the benefits and drawbacks of underground exploration:

JULIA: (in the midst of watching "Dora the Explorer") Mama, I'd really like to know what it's like underground. I would like it to be the kind of underground that's not dangerous that doesn't have things that hurt you when you fall and parts of your body hit it, or whack it. Like, if there were rocks, and you trip over them, then you could get cut or maybe bleeding, or..... nails, except underground doesn't have nails. Let's see, let's see, let's see... maybe cement? I would like to discover dinosaur bones that someone never found before. I would like to see if, like, the dirt is, like, the kind of dirt that can grow vegetables in it, like if I see parts of the kind of vegetables that grow underground, like carrots, or seeds, or weeds. But, Mama, I have to ask you something. Do pumpkins grow underground?

While she was disappointed that pumpkins do not, in fact, grown underground, that did not deter her from her exploratory plans. After all, there are still all those carrots and seeds and weeds and dinosaur bones to see.