Monday, April 30, 2012

Whoa. Drama.

Today has been one full of needless drama in the Rowe household.  Beginning with Julia's complete and utter melt-down over the fact that I wouldn't let her wear a tank top and shorts to school in the 40-degree morning weather (She's going to stay in her room for the REST OF HER LIFE!  She's NEVER going to school again!  She's NEVER PLAYING WITH HER FRIENDS AGAIN!), and ending with the news that Madeleine made Julia cry multiple times while I was at work (apparently she was throwing princesses at her sister...), there have been tears, tears and more tears from the kids throughout the day.  And it wasn't only Julia playing the drama card.  During her Creative Movement class this morning, Madeleine decided that instead of participating, she would rather drape her body face-down in a variety of inconvenient places: in the middle of the rug, around which kids were marching and running in one of the class exercises, across the gym mats that kids were stepping up onto in order to climb up on the rest of the equipment, and perhaps my favorite spot, on the trampoline, with half of her body actually on the trampoline and her head and arms hanging off over the edge.  I don't really know what her deal was, but those of you who know Madeleine are aware that laying still is not really her usual behavior.  This is the kid who spent her last play-date with Anja playing Couch Olympics.  (As she put it, in the midst of climbing over the couch, "Mom!  We're doin' THIS!"):

I don't know what exactly precipitated the princess throwing this afternoon, since my baby-sitter was the one here when it happened, but I do know that the afternoon was off to an overly dramatic start right before I left for work.  Madeleine had the misfortune of waking up from nap at the most inopportune time; just as Julia was watching the last thirty seconds of "Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper," and just as I was about to walk out the door for work.  Deeply grieved by the fact that a) the tv was turned off just as she walked into the living room, and b) I was leaving, Madeleine contributed to the household flood of tears by sobbing inconsolably about wanting both Barbie and me.  So I have to admit I'm not surprised to hear that she was throwing princesses at her sister while I was gone.

Luckily, by the time I returned home, the princess incident was a thing of the past, and the girls were friends again.  Moreover, Madeleine recounted her misbehavior for me, even telling me, wide-eyed, "Yeah!  And Julia CRIED!  Poor JULIA!"  I tried to videotape her account of the whole incident, but by this point she was much more interested in making Polly Pockets Cinderella and Sophie make out with each other, and seemed completely unapologetic about her earlier princess-hurling behavior:

I wish you all sweet dreams, lovely fairy tale dreams of Cinderella awakening you with a kiss.  I wish myself a much less drama-filled day tomorrow...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unicornio and Wow! Car Girls

This morning, it was neither myself nor Madeleine who was the casualty of a household accident.  This time, Julia was the wounded party, though it was not entirely her own fault.  Deciding that she needed to put her hands on Madeleine's shoulders and talk sweetly to her sister with their faces inches apart, as Madeleine held Unicornio up and flew him around in the air, Julia sort of unknowingly put herself in the danger zone.  It was only a matter of time before one of Unicornio's big hoofs stabbed Julia directly in the eye.

JULIA: OW!  (bursting into tears.)
ME: Oh, honey, come here!  Are you okay?  (taking Julia to the couch for hugs.)
JULIA: (sobbing)
ME: Madeleine, can you come here and say you're sorry to Julia and give her a hug?
MADELEINE: (running over to the couch.)  I'm sorry, Julia.  (leaning her head over onto Julia's body.)
JULIA: (in between sobs) It's okay.
MADELEINE: (soothingly) Belax.  (petting Julia's arm.)  It's okay.  Beeeeelax.

It took her a little while, but Julia was eventually able to belax and recover from her unexpected stabbing.

Later on, fully made up, the girls played a thrillingly spooky adventure game with the little figurines from their Wow! Cars.  Flower, Star and Emma not only  had to combat cobwebs, but also a ghostly intruder in their house, and faced all tasks at hand with admirable bravery.

JULIA: Oh, no!  Cobwebs!
MADELEINE: Agh!  I stepped on the WEBCOB!
JULIA: You mean COBWEB, Madeleine?
MADELEINE: Uh!  Uh!  Uh!  How I get DOWN?  I can't!
JULIA: We're coming!
MADELEINE: (laughing) Oh!  There you GUYS!
JULIA: It's night-time!  We'd better go to sleep.
JULIA: Wooooo!  (gasp) Did you hear that?
MADELEINE: Let's go look and see!
JULIA: I'll turn on the light.  (gasp) FLOWER!  STAR!
MADELEINE: Uh!  Uh!  Uh!
JULIA: Woooooooooo!
MADELEINE: Woooooooo!
JULIA:  Emma!  I mean, Flower!  Do you know what that sound was?
JULIA: Emma!  Do you know anything about ghostes from your science book at school?  We'd better go check in the LIVING ROOM!  Quick, turn on the light!  Oh, it's already on.
JULIA AND MADELEINE: (pounding their Wow! Car girls all over the chairs.)
JULIA: (narrating) Footsteps were running left and right.
JULIA: Come on, Flower.  It's no time for playing games!
MADELEINE: Oh, no!  It's even DARK in here!
JULIA: Well... we DID turn on the light...
MADELEINE: (breathy, awed) Flooower!
JULIA: Madeleine!  You're calling my girl Flower!  Say EMMA!
JULIA: Madeleine, say, "We have to find out what that sound is!"
MADELEINE: (wisely) It's a GHOST.
JULIA: I know.  But we can't wake up our mom and dad!  Come on, let's go!  Turn on the attic light, now!  GRAB ONTO THE OTHER ONE, Star!  See the rope, Emma?
MADELEINE and JULIA: Climb!  Climb!  Climb!  Climb!
JULIA: Well, we made it.   FLOWER!  Were you following me and Emma?
JULIA: Come on, we're going to have to JUMP to get down from here!  JUMP!

Stepping on webcobs.


Unfortunately, the girls never did find the ghost, because they decided the much more pressing thing to do was to get in their Wow! Cars and go to the store.  Perhaps the game will resume later today and we'll be able to solve the mystery of the ghost in the house.  I'll be sure to update you if the story finds any resolution.  Until then, just belax.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fashion Girl

Julia certainly made waves in the fashion world with her stylish outfit today:

Very boho chic, n'est pas?

Julia and Madeleine both displayed a stunning mastery of logic as they contemplated their clothing today.

Upon getting dressed this morning:
JULIA: Mom, why on EARTH does the tag on my pants say "Disney?"
ME: Well, maybe the Disney company made those pants.
JULIA: Yeah.  Or maybe, like, some of these COLORS are from Disney movies.

Oh, yeah, that MUST be it.

As we were about to head out to bring Julia to school:
ME: Okay, Julia, get your coat on.
JULIA: (putting on her jacket)
MADELEINE: Mommy, I'm so chilly for my coat.
ME: You're chilly, huh?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  So, I don't need to wear a coat, because I'm just so chilly.

This reminds me of the time she was so tired that her feet were so sweaty and she needed to take off her shoes.

And speaking of logic, as the girls sat eating lunch, Julia gave me a very thorough explanation as to why, even though Madeleine was having a juice box, Julia herself didn't want juice at the moment...

JULIA: Mom, there's three reasons why I'm not gonna have a juice box right now. ONE: I have to go pee.  TWO: I don't wanna have to pee again, and THREE: I like having the juice box a little bit LATER, when I get to be the only one who's having a juice box.

So glad she cleared that all up for me. I would have sat around all afternoon wondering, What kind of kid doesn't want to drink a juice box?  Now I get it: one who needs to pee, who doesn't want to pee again, and who prefers drinking in solitude.  Crystal clear.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Silly Injury

Last night, in a Madeleine-worthy performance of klutziness, I wound up completely wiping out in the simple attempt to walk across the dining room floor.  Initially tripping on a kiddie toy, then slipping in my socks as I tried to regain my balance, I then crashed into the vacuum, bashing my foot against it and rendering it cut up and massively bruised, before actually hitting the ground.  As I lay there, writhing and crying out in pain, Julia, sympathetic heart that she is, came running from her tv show to see if I was okay.  Her method of checking on/comforting me was to sit down atop me as I lay on the floor and bounce her full weight up and down on me, exclaiming, "Aww!  Mama!  Are you OKAY?  Did you hurt yourself??"

It's the thought that counts, right?

At any rate, I wound up with my leg elevated on the couch and a bag of frozen peas as a substitute for ice, and despite my obvious laid-up position, the kids seemed to think I was still capable of providing for them the instant they asked for things.  "MOM!  Can you get me some bread with pumpkin butter?" "Mommy, I want another DESSERT!"  "Mom, can you read me this book?"  Once I pointed out the fact that I was a little busy, the kids flocked to my side to examine my injury.  I was lucky enough to get lots of caresses all over my open wound, although I did put a halt to things at Julia's attempted kiss.  "Wait!" I shouted.  "You know what?  Why don't you kiss my cheek, because we don't want to get your mouth germs in my open cut, okay?"  Julia happily complied, while Madeleine felt the more essential thing to do was to poke and prod at the bag of frozen peas and repeatedly report to me that it felt cold after every touch.

After the fascination with my icing was over with, the girls went back to the couch with their chosen books, waiting for Daddy to finish showering so he could read to them.  Julia looked over at me lovingly and said, "Mama, did you know that it made ME want to cry when I heard YOU get hurt?"  "You're so sweet, honey," I commended her, then added, "Can you believe it hurt so much that I was crying?"  Quick to reassure me, Julia insisted, "No, no, MOM!  You weren't CRYING!  You were just WHINING!"

I prefer the term whimpering, myself.

After limping upstairs to put Madeleine to bed, I discovered that the boo-boo on my foot, now dressed and under a band-aid, was of great interest to one of us.  "Mommy?  But WHERE'S your BOO-BOO?" Madeleine asked me, as we laid on her couch in the dark, snuggling.  "It's on my foot," I told her, and she immediately hopped off the couch and went to examine my foot, despite all the lights being off.  "Mommy?  Can I see your boo-boo?  Can you take off your band-aid?" she asked me.  I nixed the idea and pulled her back up to the couch to snuggle me, beginning to sing her lullaby.  "No, no, no, I want a different song!" she exclaimed, clamping a hand over my mouth.  I asked her what song she would like, but unfortunately was not able to pull through for her when she requested "The Boo-Boo Song."  Her obsession with my boo-boo continued as I put her in my crib and she recited to me, "But we DON'T want to kiss your boo-boo, because then our mouth germs will go FLYING up your leg!"

This morning, Julia woke up before Ethan had left for work, and he gave her strict instructions not to awaken me until it was 7:00.  Hence, my earliest morning memories were of Julia barging into my room, announcing happily, "Mooooom!  The first number on the clock is SEEEEVEN!"  She then began actually pulling my arm off of the bundle of blankets it was wrapped around, and asked me considerately, "Uh, Mom, do you need me to help you with your foot?"  I told her that my foot actually felt okay, but that I needed to lay down for two more minutes so I could fully wake up.  "But MAMAAA!  The first number is SEVEN!" she declared, as if that fact alone should provide me the motivation to leap out of bed.  God knows how long she waited downstairs for the time to change.  She was not in the mood to wait one second longer.  I went downstairs with her and she happily tended to her morning duties of going potty and brushing her teeth, exhibiting a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth.  She must have been sitting in her solitary confinement absolutely DESPERATE for the clock to turn to 7 so she could have a companion.

The good news is that my foot, aside from being cut and bruised, feels basically fine today, so my pain was short-lived.  And on a completely unrelated topic, Madeleine's drawings continue to get creepier and creepier.  Here is her latest picture of a bloodied, decaying Dora face:

We need to check Backpack to find something to heal my bloody, diseased face!!  Say: BACKPACK!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sister of the Year

I would like to officially nominate Julia for Sister of the Year.  In order to shed light on her accomplishments, I must first provide a little back story.

Before nap:
ME: Madeleine, let's try the potty.
MADELEINE: (sitting on the potty) No pee-pees!
ME: Well, let's just sit for a minute and see if you can get any pee-pees out, because I don't want you peeing in your crib again.
MADELEINE: Maybe a JUICE BOX will help me get my pee-pees out!
ME: I can get you a juice box to drink on the potty, if you want.
MADELEINE: (delightedly) Yeah, the JUICE BOX will help get my pee-pees out!

After drinking her juice:

MADELEINE: No pee-pees.
ME: Well, let's just sit another minute and try.  I'm sure you have some in there.
MADELEINE: Can you get me a CHOCOLATE thing?
ME: A chocolate thing?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  Maybe a CHOCOLATE THING will help me get my pee-pees out!

Yeah.  Sorry.  I'm not THAT gullible.  The end result was that I stuck a pull-up on her and put her to nap.  In fact, she even woke up dry, so I seized my opportunity to put her back on the potty:

After nap:
ME: Here, Madeleine, let's try the potty and then put on your underwear.
MADELEINE: (becoming hysterical) NO!  NO!  NO!  I don't WANT TO!  No pee-pees!  NO PEEEEE-PEEEEES!  (scooting herself off the potty.)
ME: (putting her back on) You need to get your pee-pees out.  I don't want you to have an accident.
MADELEINE: (pushing me away and whacking me in the face) NO PEEEEEEE-PEEEEEES!  (scooting off the potty.)

At this point I decided it was time to give her some tough love.  I put her underwear on and told her I wasn't going to play games with her, and that I  needed to finish putting the laundry away.  When I was done with the laundry, we would see if she was ready to cooperate and try the potty.  Upstairs I went.

Two minutes later:
JULIA: (running upstairs to Madeleine's room, where I was putting laundry away) Uh... MAMA?
ME: Yes, honey?
JULIA: Uh, Mama, I just heard this, like, CRACKLING sound, and the bathroom floor is ALL WET, and I think Madeleine might have peed on the floor.
ME: Did you ask her if she peed?
JULIA: I did, and she said no.
ME: Well, if she did pee, she's going to have to wait a minute in her wet undies because I need to finish putting the laundry away.  She decided to hit me and not cooperate, so now she'll have to wait until I'm ready to change her.

Julia ran back downstairs, and I hurriedly started stuffing laundry in drawers, so that I could get down and get Madeleine's pee all cleaned up.  While I was finishing my laundry task, I overheard the girls downstairs:

JULIA: (sympathetically) Madeleine, did you pee on the bathroom floor?
JULIA: Okay.  Here.  Let's get your undies off.
MADELEINE: (wailing)

I went downstairs at this point, leaving the laundry unfinished, and found that Julia had stripped Madeleine of her wet underwear, and was in the midst of bringing Madeleine a dry pull-up.  Now, I must point out: part of the distinction that marks a sister-of-the-year is the idea that, despite consequences set by the parent (in this case, that Madeleine would have to wait a minute before I could deal with her wet undies, since she had refused to go on the potty when I asked her to), a champion sister bands together with her sibling out of sympathy and love, even if it slightly undermines the parent's consequence.  I was so touched that Julia was actually handling her sister's sodden underwear in an attempt to ameliorate her sister's sadness that I couldn't complain that she was basically softening my consequence.

Madeleine, for her part, seems to have gotten the message after her accident, and has used the potty without fuss for the rest of the day yesterday, and so far, today.  However, for whatever reason, she has decided that the story is more exciting if she adds extra violence to it.

This morning:
ETHAN: (putting Madeleine on the potty) You need to try the potty, because remember what happened yesterday when Mom tried to put you on the potty and then you peed on the floor?
MADELEINE: Yeah, and I just HIT her.
ETHAN: Yeah, and that's not okay.
MADELEINE: (wisely) Yeah.  And I just KICKED her.
ME: No, you didn't, you goose.  You did hit me, though, and that's not okay.
MADELEINE: (solemnly) Yeah.  And I KICKED you.

Uh-oh.  She's going to be one of those people who totally exaggerates the story afterwards to make herself look extra tough and menacing.

Anyway, what do you think?  Does Julia get your vote?  Sister-of-the-Year, anyone?

Monday, April 23, 2012

When Worlds Collide

Today, during dinner, we had a merging of pretend play worlds when Julia's My Little Ponies befriended Unicornio, King of the Forest from "Dora the Explorer."  (N.B. Unicornio is actually Phillippe, the trusty horse that belongs to Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," but Madeleine changed his identity a long time ago.)  Not only did Unicornio get to be friends with the ponies, but he confessed his secret love for Princess Celestia (for those not in the "My Little Pony" know, Princess Celestia is the ruler of Canterlot in the tv series), leading to a marriage proprosal:

Of course, you didn't think I'd leave you all hanging with just the proposal, did you?  You are all invited to watch the official video of the Princess Celestia/King Unicornio wedding:

Siiiiigh.  *Sniff, sniff.*  What a beautiful occasion...

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Today started off in typical fashion for Madeleine, with a face full of spit.  Or, as she put it, lamenting despairingly from the couch:

MADELEINE: Mommy!  I have a DROOL!
ME: You have a what?
MADELEINE: (mournfully) A droooool!
ME: A drool?
MADELEINE: (pathetically) Yeeeahh.
ME: Where is your drool?
MADELEINE: (pointing to her chest, just under her pajama shirt) Right THEEEEERE!
ME: Okay.  Here, let me wipe it.

As I wiped her chest and gave her a kiss, I happened to notice that her chin and cheeks were absolutely sodden with spit; however, THOSE drools didn't seem to bother her.  I guess she only gets upset if she gets a drool on some other, non-facial part of her body.

Speaking of her body, Madeleine has a new favorite way to go out into the world: borefoot.  While she will comply with the fact that she needs to wear shoes if we're going into a building, she is definitely partial to going borefoot if we're going out to the backyard, or simply going for a car ride during which she will remain in the car the whole time.  On occasion, however, she'll still try and get away with the borefoot style if someone else is taking her out.  The other morning, as Ethan readied the girls to go get bagels, Madeleine started acting very particular about what was acceptable and what was not acceptable to have on her feet.

ETHAN: Okay, come on, Madeleine, let's get your sandals on.
MADELEINE: (wailing) No, no, I don't want my sandals, I want my CROCS!
ETHAN: Okay, well, where ARE your Crocs?
MADELEINE: I don't know I can find my Crocs!
JULIA: (piping in) Madeleine, I thought I saw them a few weeks ago, but I don't remember where!
ETHAN: Okay, Madeleine, we don't know where your Crocs are, so let's just put your sandals on.
MADELEINE: No, no, no, I DON'T want my sandals!  I want my Crocs!
ETHAN: Well, we can't find your Crocs, and we're in a hurry, so let's just put your sandals on because they're right here.
MADELEINE: (bursting into tears) How bout I can go BOREFOOT!
ETHAN: Wait... what?
ME: (shouting from the other room) No, you can't go barefoot, Madeleine, because that's not allowed in the bagel store.  Ethan, borefoot means barefoot!
MADELEINE: Um, how bout I can wear my sandals?

If only it wouldn't take so long for her to come to that conclusion.

And finally, can we all take a moment and appreciate the eerie, demonic picture she made of Prince Eric from her "Little Mermaid" coloring book?:

I swear, her sense of artistic style scares me sometimes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hello Kitty

Although Madeleine has been coloring in her "Hello Kitty" coloring book for months now, she was suddenly struck today by the disturbing fact that Hello Kitty does not have a mouth.

Because I am seen as the ultimate healer of anything that goes wrong in her life (case in point: when unable to put her whole Dora puzzle together, Madeleine came to me, eyes wide and full of sorrow, as I drank my coffee in the dining room, and said plaintively, "Mommy, I CAN'T fix my puzzle!"), it was clearly my job to fix the mouthless Hello Kitty problem.  Little did I know she meant to rectify every single Hello Kitty in her giant coloring book.  Flipping through, page by page, she asked me continually, "Mommy?  Can you make a mouth on THIS Hello Kitty?"  I suggested she try her hand at it as well, to which she responded, "I don't know I can make a mouth."  So for as long as she could hold my undivided attention, I sat making mouths on the various kitties in her book:

(Several of the pages feature music notes, like seen above.  When I asked Madeleine if she knew what a series of music notes was, she replied, "SONGS!")

She was NOT happy with my attempt to break the monotony of the smiley face in this picture.  I initially gave the Hello Kitty on the bottom right a straight, unsmiling mouth.  Unacceptable.  "No, Mommy, can you make a MOOOOUTH?" Oh.  A mouth.  What was I thinking assuming a mouth can also be unsmiling lips?

In the middle of all the mouth drawing, I got a phone call, and was unable to provide the requisite amount of attention towards giving Hello Kitties mouths.  Madeleine decided to take matters into her own hands, with disastrous results.

"NO!  I DON'T! WANT! TO! COLOR!" she exclaimed, putting her marker down emphatically.  I looked down to see what was causing such outrage.  Aha.  She had gone for it, and blown it.  She had failed at mouth construction.  No wonder she wanted to give up her artistic ambitions after such a huge blunder.

I guess the rest of the Hello Kitties are resigned to remaining mouthless.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Playground fun

The kids and I have been trying out new playgrounds lately, and today was no exception.  The difference, however, was that today Ethan got to come along too, since he had taken the day off from work.  This made it extra exciting for the kids, and much easier for me, given that I didn't have to try and monitor both children at once.  The playground we tried out today is right next to the church where our chorus rehearses; on many occasions, Ethan and I have mentioned, as we walked into the church for rehearsal, that it looked like a playground our kids would enjoy.  So, seeing as the weather was gorgeous again today, and we had the afternoon free, we decided to trek out there.

The entire playground had a fire truck theme, which instantly sparked Julia's imagination.  Suddenly, she and Madeleine were firefighters, sleeping on their bunks (which, in Julia's case, was a bench inside one of the play structures; Madeleine decided to drape her always-graceful body across a mere beam inside the structure, then half-hang off it, fake snoring.)  I was instructed to sit on an actual bench outside of the play structure and yell, "I need some help!"  It took a few tries before I mastered my line to Julia's satisfaction.  But once I was adequately convincing, she and Madeleine leapt to my rescue.

"Come on, Madeleine!"  Julia shouted.  "Into our truck!"  I expected they would run over to the larger climbing structure, which just happened to be shaped like a gigantic fire truck:

But, nope.  Julia decided to be extra fast and furious rushing to the scene by rocking back and forth on the little tottery toddler fire truck:

"Julia, don't you want to go over on the big fire truck?" I asked her, nervous that, as I awaited my rescue from fiery danger on my bench, the measly little toddler truck wouldn't be fast enough.

Julia glanced over at the big climbing structure and advised me, "Uh, no, Mama.  That's our SUPER DUPER fire truck."

Oh.  I guess my emergency wasn't worthy enough of the SUPER DUPER fire truck.

As you may notice, Julia is not in the above picture.  That's because she scampered off before I could even take the picture, let alone be rescued.  Next thing I knew, she was on the swing, pumping as hard as she could, which, as she told me, was "pumping the gas into the fire truck, because we're OUT OF GAS!"

I never did get rescued.  I have to admit, I'm not 100% sure I would recommend Julia as the firefighter to come to your aid should you have an emergency.

Madeleine, however, was ready to have me join the ranks and help her out in her firefighting duties.  While she had initially been thrilled to play with Julia (MADELEINE: -upon entering the small play structure - Julia!  This is AWESOME!  Let's check it out!), once Julia ditched us all for the swings, Madeleine turned to me to be her playmate.  She immediately climbed through one of the tunnels leading into the small play structure, inviting me to come through with her:

ME: Oh, I don't think I can go in there.  I think I'm too big to fit.
MADELEINE: Yeah, you're just too big.  You just have to wait... you just have to wait 'til you grow LITTLE!  Yeah, you just have to grow little.
ME: I have to grow little, huh?
MADELEINE: Come on, Mom, come over here!  (running off to the "beds".)  Mom, it's easy.  I'll show you!

While she was confident in showing me how to mount the "beds," she had a little more trouble when dealing with the tunnel slide over on the big super duper fire truck climbing area.  As I waited down at the bottom of the slide, I heard a little pipsqueak voice echoing through the tunnel, "I need a little help here!"  I peeked into the tunnel to see her feet in the tunnel, with the rest of her body splayed on her back on the top step of the climbing structure,.  What can I say?  Balance and poise have always been Madeleine's strong suits.

After an exhilarating afternoon at the playground, we tired the kids out even further by walking to dinner at one of our neighborhood restaurants, where Julia ordered her beloved mac 'n cheese.  I mean, really, why stay home and make box microwave mac 'n cheese when you can PAY to order the exact same thing at a restaurant?  At any rate, it was the perfect end to a perfect spring day, and I can only hope the kids are thoroughly wiped out enough to go straight to sleep...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Notebook

Julia recently acquired a notebook gloriously full of blank, ready-to-be-written-upon lined paper. She has entertained herself by filling the pages in a variety of ways. Sometimes she composes little love notes:

And sometimes, she uses it to practice writing her numbers:

(She was doing pretty well up through twelve... unless her 31, 41, 51, etc is not meant to be an accidental reversal of the numbers but instead an intricate mathematical pattern.

1.) {1, 2,...n+1} until n=12
2.) n+19,
3.) {31, 41...n+10} until n=91
4.) n-71

Wow - she's a math genius!)

Other times, instead of a series of numbers, Julia likes to write out the alphabet:

Or copy down things she sees on the front of a cereal box:

And that's not all - sometimes she even uses it as a means to write out her own musical compositions:

I'm going to save this in case she turns out to be the next Mozart. And she very well might; some of her songs are pretty rad. Come on, we've all heard "Hold My Hand on the Sidewalk," haven't we?

And then there are the pages filled with one simple word: "No." Whether this is like the warning message in a private diary: "PROPERTY OF SO-AND-SO. NO SNOOPING!", or whether she just likes writing this word is yet to be determined:

It just happened to turn out that Madeleine began flipping through Julia's notebook today. Stopping on the above page, Madeleine exclaimed, "Look, Mommy! It says NO! See? That says NO!"

Wait a minute. The child who acts as if she has absolutely no idea what the word "no" means when it is spoken to her actually knows how to READ it? What?? Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that the first word Madeleine has learned to read is the word "no"??

Apparently she is not only a whiz at recognizing words written in the Roman alphabet, but Madeleine has also mastered Egyptian hieroglyphics. After carefully and studiously drawing the following, she turned to me and said, "Look, Mommy, I did it! I wrote 'no' too!":

Translation: "No."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sprinkler Play

The weather over the past few days has been summery; in other words, perfect for running around in the backyard sprinkler:

Over the weekend, Ethan and the girls took a trip to the hardware store to buy a new sprinkler, since our previous sprinkler had broken last summer. Julia got to watch while he unearthed the hose from our garage and set up the sprinkler in the backyard, and witnessing such an event convinced her that either Ethan is an unparalleled genius, or that Mommy is such an immeasurable dunce that she could never pull off something as complicated as sprinkler set-up. Madeleine, too, seemed to doubt my hose-going abilities. After the kids were done frolicking around in the sprinkler on Monday afternoon, I announced that I was going to turn the water off. Julia had already headed inside by this point, but Madeleine stood watch by the sprinkler, convinced that something had gone horribly wrong with the whole turning-off-the-water ordeal. Because the sprinkler continues to spurt a low-intensity trickle of water until the hose is emptied, Madeleine was panic-stricken, certain that I had not actually turned it off.

ME: It's okay, honey. I turned the water off. Let's go inside.
MADELEINE: (touching the tiny squirts of water as they petered out of the sprinkler) No, Mommy! It's not turnin' OFFFFFFF! Can you turn it OFFFFFF?
ME: I did turn it off, honey. Do you want me to show you how I turned it off?
MADELEINE: (laughing and crying with relieved tears) Yeah. You can just SHOW me. You can just TURN it OFF!

This led to a quick demonstration of how to turn the hose on and off, which Madeleine mostly ignored, as she was too busy stomping in the small puddles made of water that had leaked from the spigot to which the hose was attached. However, clearly the whole ordeal was not forgotten, as the subject resurfaced during our bedtime snuggles.

ME: Okay, honey, it's time for bed. Did you have a good day?
MADELEINE: Yeah, the sprinkler's just not turnin' OFF! But... can you turn it off? Yeah, it's just not turnin' off, and you just did RIGHTY-TIGHTY and it's just not turnin' off. The water is not TURNIN' OFF.

I wonder if the image of slowly trickling water haunted her dreams that night.

Julia did not give me trouble about turning off the water, although she did make it utterly clear that she didn't believe me capable of any sprinkler responsibilities. She was quick to point this out to the doctor during yesterday's ear/hearing check:

DR: Did you have a fun day yesterday?
JULIA: (nodding)
DR: Did you run around outside in the sprinkler?
ME: Yup, we set it up.
DR: Yeah, I set mine up for my kids yest-
JULIA: No, no, my DAD set it up.

Furthermore, as we played out in the backyard yesterday afternoon, Julia and I had this conversation:

JULIA: Mommy, I'm really hot. I wish we could play in the sprinkler.
ME: Well, we can if you want to.
JULIA: (incredulous) But... do you even KNOW how to set up a sprinkler?

Seeing as all that was required was to turn on the hose, which was already attached to the sprinkler, I think I can handle this one, Jules.

When not playing in the sprinkler, the girls have been busy enjoying their new toys from the plastic eggs they scavenged at the church egg hunt. Madeleine sported her new, cool bracelets yesterday, as well as decorated her hands with stamps and tattoos:

And she has been very attached to her little plastic kazoo all morning, which she insists, delightedly, is "my new BINKY!":

Awesome. JUST what we need...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Egg Mischief

8:30am: I step out of the shower. Madeleine is laying on her tummy in the living room, diligently coloring in her Tinkerbell coloring book.
8:35am: I finish getting dressed up in my room and gather together all the laundry from our bedrooms into one basket.
8:40am: I come downstairs with the laundry basket and find Madeleine opening an Easter egg full of candy from her Easter basket.

ME: Madeleine, honey, we're not going to eat candy right now. That's for dessert.
MADELEINE: Yeah, because I can have it AFTER I eat my dinner!
ME: Let's put it back in your basket.

As we put the egg away in her basket, which she had put on one of the dining room chairs, I noticed that the chair itself was covered with wet, reddish goo. Detective Courtney to the case. Either a crime had occurred and the chair was covered in bloody evidence, OR:

ME: Madeleine, did you already eat some candy out of one of your eggs?
MADELEINE: (turning to me, her face covered in the same reddish goo) Uh-huh!
ME: No, honey, we don't eat candy in the morning. Candy is for dessert.
MADELEINE: (running to me with two empty plastic eggs) Because... I'm just really thirsty.
ME: You're thirsty? Would you like me to get you some more milk?
MADELEINE: No, I was just really really thirsty for these eggs. So... I ate them all UP!

She must be *totally* confident of the power of her cuteness. Not only did she leave evidence of her sneaky candy-eating all over the chair, as well as her face, but she completely openly admitted to eating TWO eggs worth of candy, with absolutely no remorse, and with a pathetic excuse at that. She was really thirsty for jellybeans?? Yeah. Sorry. I don't buy it.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson and not left her alone with the Easter baskets again, but alas, I hadn't stopped to think about the Easter baskets full of eggs from their church egg hunt. After putting her basket full of loot from home safely away, I went down to put the laundry in the washing machine. Upon returning to the dining room, I found Madeleine on the floor with Julia's church Easter basket, opening each plastic egg and delightedly exclaiming over the contents in each one. Since Julia was upstairs playing in her room, I quickly seized the basket and was determined to cover up all evidence of Madeleine's tampering with the eggs. How quickly I turned from Detective Courtney to aiding-and-abetting Courtney. I couldn't be sure I was putting the various little stickers, tattoos, stamps, and bracelets into their original eggs, but I figured that as long as everything was put away, Julia wouldn't notice.


I should have known better. Julia does not miss even the teeniest, tiniest detail in ANY situation. This is the child who asked me, after I sprayed my allergy spray up my nose, "Mom? Why do I smell Flonase?" (I'm not even kidding. She detected the smell emanating from MY nostrils.) As soon as she had come down from playing in her room, Julia merely gazed over at her church basket and asked accusingly, "Mom, did Madeleine play with my EGGS?"

The Easter baskets are going into hiding.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter Fun

I'm not sure if the kids have had enough excitement this weekend. Being Orthodox Easter weekend, we have not only been bombarded with all kinds of candy and goodies, but also with beloved family members. Auntie Shannon and Yia-yia joined Auntie Caitlyn in her visit here, adding to the already high level of excited energy the kids have been experiencing.

We kicked off the Easter festivities yesterday with an egg hunt in our backyard. I was a little behind on things, seeing as when Julia asked if it was time for the egg hunt, I hadn't even filled any of the plastic eggs with candy yet. I thought I could sneakily fill them up while we were all playing outside; going to the other end of the yard, I quickly began adding candy to eggs, which I kept hidden inside a plastic bag. My attempts at stealth were *almost* successful; Julia was way too excited over playing ball with her aunties to even notice me, and it wasn't until I was filling up the very last egg that Madeleine spotted me, running over to me to say sweetly, "Yes, Mom? An egg, please, Mom?"

I sent the kids in to find something in which to collect the eggs, and was able to swiftly scatter them in hiding spots around the yard, so before long the hunt was on:

Halloween in spring: Julia trots along gaily looking for eggs full of candy

Although I had not wanted to spend an exorbitant amount of money on plastic eggs, I think next year I will upgrade from the cheap-o CVS variety, seeing as the eggs didn't stay closed very well, spilling their contents all over the insides of the kids' baskets. Or, in one case, all over the lawn. Madeleine, who, if you remember, once ate bites from the gnawed-upon apple core belonging to my piano student's guinea pig, was not above eating her jellybeans straight off the grass, but the fact that our lawn had just been treated with fertilizer made us put a stop to the lawn-to-mouth practice.

Following the egg hunt was more egg fun, as the kids got to color Easter eggs with their aunties. Madeleine loved getting included in this activity, although at first she didn't seem to understand what we were doing. "I'm going to color this egg!" Julia cried, picking the first egg out of its bowl. "Yeah, and I'm going to eat THIS egg!" Madeleine declared, grabbing hold of another. Being as artistic as she is, however, she quickly caught on and was happily dunking eggs in various cups full of egg dye.

I think the Easter egg extravaganzas, followed by a big family dinner and Easter cookie dessert, was so fulfilling for the kids that they completely zoned out on the fact that today is in fact Easter. Neither kid asked about Easter baskets upon awakening this morning, nor did either child actually spot the Easter baskets I had hidden for them. I finally suggested Julia take a look to see if there were any baskets hidden in the house, and as she leapt up to search, I encouraged Madeleine to do the same. The result was a teary melt-down over her "Dora the Explorer" episode being turned off, although once she saw Julia's basket, she suddenly changed her tune. "My basket?" she asked inquiringly, looking up to Caitlyn as if Caitlyn could magically produce an Easter basket out of thin air. After finding her own basket, Madeleine was immediately enthralled by the princess figurines I had scattered throughout the basket. "JULIA!" she exclaimed, grabbing Snow White and running to her sister. "I got my OWN princesses!!"

Yes, Madeleine. There was a very deliberate reason for that.

The girls sat down to more thoroughly study their loot, delightedly dumping everything out of their baskets:

The next big event was a trip to church, and following the service, there was a church-wide egg hunt (only kids allowed, of course.) Both girls had success filling their baskets with plastic eggs, and despite their excitement over gathering even MORE loot, Madeleine decided to give the camera the evil eye as the church school kids were all lined up for a group photo:

And now, as we sit down to enjoy Easter dinner and yet more cookies, I can only hope both kids will collapse into a sugar coma and allow their parents a decent night's sleep this evening.

Kali anastasi!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Trip to the Movies

Today was another fun-filled day for the girls, despite a few adult snafus (I take all the blame.) Seeing as I didn't have to work this afternoon, Caitlyn and I decided to take the kids to see "The Lorax"; after all, the book that it's based on is one of their absolute favorites. Having searched movie theaters for showings yesterday, in anticipation of trying to go after preschool today, I knew that it was playing both in nearby Chestnut Hill, as well as down in Boston. Caitlyn and I thought it might be a fun adventure to take the green line train down to Boston and see the film there; the added bonus for me was that I have a gift card to the particular theater we would be going to. The girls were, predictably, giddy with excitement over getting to ride the train, and the ride in was a pleasure for all of us:

Madeleine spent the vast majority of the ride squealing, "Wheeeeee! The GREEEEEN train!" over and over again, while Julia felt compelled to ask at each and every stop, "Is this our stop yet?" When it finally was our turn to get off, both girls were wildly skipping along the sidewalks, crazy with excitement. Walking into the movie theater, Julia declared gaily, "It smells like POPCORN in here! I can't wait to get POPCORN! I LOVE POPCORN!"

Then we walked up to the ticket desk, and I found out that I had been too dense to double check today's showings. "The Lorax" had its last screening yesterday.

"Change of plans! Let's go get some ice cream for snack!" I announced, as Caitlyn quickly browsed with her phone to find out what time the movie was playing in Chestnut Hill. We had more than an hour and a half to get there, so that allowed us the leisure to stop in at a nearby ice cream shop and order the girls a delectable snack. Julia was, at first, unwavering in her loyalty to movie popcorn. "I'm not going to get any ice cream. I'm just going to wait for popcorn," she told me. "Okay, but if you'd like ice cream too, it's okay with me if you get some now and then have popcorn later. It will still be awhile before the movie, and it IS snack time right now," I assured her. Nope. "I'll just wait to have popcorn at the movie," she vowed steadfastly.

That is, until we walked into the ice cream shop. "Uh... Mama... actually, I think I will get some ice cream," she decided. What a shocker.

Then it was BACK to the green line, all the way back to our car, which was parked by the train station, and all the way back to our house, a town away from the green line train. Julia was completely unwilling to indulge me in my attempts to put a different spin on the whole experience. For her, the only thing that mattered was seeing the movie, and because of that, the whole diversion into Boston and our ice cream snack was irrelevant. What she really cared about was that we were going to see "The Lorax."

ME: Well, girls, wasn't that fun riding the train into Boston to get ice cream?!?
JULIA: Well, Mama, it's okay, because we're STILL going to see the movie.
ME: Yeah, I know, but wasn't that a cool adventure getting to take the train and eat ice cream for snack!?
JULIA: Mama, you don't have to keep saying that, because we STILL get to go to the movie theater.

Yeah, Mom. It's no big deal that you wasted half our afternoon with this unnecessary trip downtown, because after all, we're going to see the movie at a place closer to home regardless of the several hours of time we wasted earlier today.

Anyway, I have to admit, I found it fun to ride the train with the kids, even if it was basically all for a trip to the ice cream shop, and despite the movie mess-up, we all arrived back home in good spirits. Best of all was that Ethan had wrapped up his work day by this point, and was able to accompany us to the movie. It was a pretty big deal, after all; it was Madeleine's very first time at a movie theater:

The movie was actually shown in 3-D, making things a bit complicated for Madeleine. As you can see in the following picture, the glasses were absolutely colossal. If they were this big on Julia's face, imagine them on Madeleine:

The end result was that Ethan and I took turns holding the glasses on Madeleine's head for her, since, pumpkin-headed as she may be, the glasses were simply too enormous to stay put over her little ears. About 3/4 of the way through the movie she decided to ditch the glasses, making the screen a little blurry for her, but not enough so to detract from her attention:

This being her fourth time in a movie theater, Julia was pretty attuned to typical movie theater etiquette, and was able to watch in captivated silence throughout. Madeleine had a little more to say, though luckily the theater was pretty much as uncrowded as it can get:

Sometimes she had seemingly unanswerable questions, leading to a lot of back-and-forth between us:

MADELEINE: (pointing at the Onceler's face, showing through the cracks of his house) What's THAT Onceler?
ME: Uh... the Onceler.
MADELEINE: But what's THAT Onceler?
ME: That's the Onceler.
MADELEINE: But... what's THAT Onceler?
ME: Honey, that's just the Onceler.

Other times, Madeleine was just too overwhelmed by the movie moment and couldn't help herself from exclaiming about it. For example: "TRUFFULA TREES!!!", or "THE LOOOORAX!!!", or "Oh NO! The WATERFAAAALLL!!" Most of the time her exclamations occurred during loud movie moments, so the whopping four other moviegoers in the theater with us were probably not much disrupted. There was a moment, however, of total silence after the final Truffula tree was knocked down, suddenly filled with a pipsqueak voice ringing out throughout the theater: "What HAPPENED??" Then, of course, there was the moment that took us all by surprise; the point in the movie just before the Lorax was lifted away, at which Madeleine suddenly, unexpectedly cried out, "Why's he TERRIFIED?"

At any rate, the girls enjoyed the movie so greatly that Julia was in complete ecstatic oblivion when we exited the theater, jumping and galloping around in wide, dizzying circles with no regard to any of the other people walking through the theater hallway. Madeleine left the theater in tears, crying out, "But I want to finish WATCHING that show!" I know it was terribly cruel of us to not allow her to sit and watch the credits roll, but sometimes parents just have to be the bad guys.

Now, weary after our unintentional veeeery long afternoon-into-evening movie outing, Caitlyn and I are going to go off and let our brains go to mush for a little while...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pancakes and Yoga

This morning, Caitlyn and I decided to treat the girls to breakfast out, since Julia doesn't have preschool on Thursdays. We took them to a breakfast/lunch joint in town called Fresco, which is one of our favorite spots for pancakes.

As we awaited our food, the girls entertained themselves by coloring on their paper kids menus. Julia thoroughly enjoyed coloring facial features on the blank-faced kids at the top of the coloring page, giving her favorite girl eyelashes, and asking us all to vote on our favorite kid. Madeleine also enjoyed coloring in some faces, although for some reason she opted to give each face some ghoulish, hollow eyes and open mouth:

To make things even creepier, she then decided to give the boy shown above a bloodied face:

There is something eerily nightmarish about Madeleine's artistic visions.

Every last one of us absolutely devoured our breakfast, with Madeleine covered in chocolate from head to toe by the time she was done. You can see in the picture below how thrilled Madeleine was to stop stuffing chocolate chip pancakes in her face to pose in a picture with me:

Later in the day, the girls joined Auntie Caitlyn for an at-home yoga session. It seems like Madeleine didn't quite get the idea that Caitlyn was following the poses demonstrated by the instructor on the video they were watching. Seemingly oblivious to the video for most of the yoga session, Madeleine suddenly noticed the instructor and exclaimed to Caitlyn, "Look! The girl is doing what WE'RE doing!" Julia, on the other hand, decided to take on the instructor role herself, devising a number of new poses with names such as "Square Pose," "Diamond Pose," and "Relaxing Pose." Not only did Julia need to demonstrate each pose to us as Caitlyn was trying to do her yoga routine, but she felt the need to have her face a mere millimeters from Caitlyn's as she gave detailed descriptions of the names of each pose. So much for a relaxing, Zen-like atmosphere for Caitlyn.

Julia and Auntie Caitlyn working the "Triangle" pose

Madeleine joining in

For any of you yoga buffs who want to try out some interesting new poses, Julia demonstrated a few for me. To try the very energetic "Diamond Pose," simply arrange your body into the following form, then kick your legs out behind you like a bucking bronco:

Or, if that's too much of a workout for you, try this simpler "Relaxing Pose." In fact, you can even do it in your bed or on the couch if you prefer:

Julia Rowe: Future yoga instructor!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Surprise Party

Today when I arrived home from work, I was treated to a surprise party, courtesy of Julia. The party included three guests: Caitlyn, Julia, and Madeleine, and the first thing Julia did was hand me a wrapped present. Standing beside me in eager anticipation as I opened the gift, Julia could hardly contain her glee once I saw what was inside: three pictures, each drawn by one of my party guests. Julia went for the classic, never-gets-old design of hearts and flowers, as well a warm and loving message:

Whereas Madeleine opted for a creepy black, blobby, tentacled sea monster with some freaky skeleton-like creatures walking about beside it:

Caitlyn took a simple, less-is-more approach:

The party didn't stop at gifts. Julia had also hung decorations around the house, including "ribbons" made of Easter grass:

and balloons:

Talk about decked out. This is one grand celebration, I'm telling you.

What can I say? I'm one lucky mama to come home to such a warm welcome!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Surprise from Auntie Caitlyn

What could be more exciting for the girls than a surprise visit from Auntie Caitlyn today?? I will note that this visit was not a surprise for me; in fact, I had set it up, since our regular baby-sitter is away this week and I thought some auntie baby-sitting would be a thrill for the kids. However, since we've had enough trouble just going straight to sleep at night, as well as moving our slow-poky bodies out the door to get Julia to school in the mornings, I figured that knowing about their imminent visitor would only make the transitions that much harder. So instead, Madeleine had the delight of seeing Auntie Caitlyn suddenly walk into her Creative Movement class this morning:

Auntie Caitlyn had brought along her camera, and was able to snap pictures throughout Madeleine's class. Since Madeleine basically doesn't ever sit still, most of the pictures came out like this:

However, when Madeleine decided to lay down on one of the mats and take a little nap, Caitlyn was able to capture some blur-free photos:

As Caitlyn and I drove the 3/4 mile from Creative Movement to the Rowe house in our separate cars, Madeleine felt her aunt's absense acutely.

MADELEINE: Where Auntie Caitlyn go???
ME: She's in her car. We'll see her at home in a minute.
MADELEINE: (woefully, eyes filling with tears) But Mommy, I just really MISS her!

It was a long wait, I'll tell you, but about two minutes later they were happily reunited.

Julia's surprise came at the end of her school day, when Madeleine, Caitlyn and I showed up to pick her up. Running to her aunt in utter delight, Julia threw her arms around Caitlyn passionately. Don't worry, she did take a moment to acknowledge me as well, as she thrust her backpack, lunch box and jacket into my arms so that she was free to hold hands with Auntie Caitlyn. So I wasn't completely yesterday's news.

Caitlyn was a huge help to me as I went off to work this afternoon, taking care of the kids in our usual baby-sitter's place. And boy, did she go to town with them. Not only did she buy them both a brand new bottles of bubbles from CVS, but she let them use up the entirety of the bottles out in the back yard, where they blew to their heart's content. I think the following series of photos, which I am stealing from her camera, just about sum up the whole experience:

As I cooked dinner this evening, the girls, who normally beg to watch tv while I'm preparing their food, were still so rambunctious and excited about having their auntie around that we got to experience double gallop time. Both kids running back and forth between the living room and kitchen, stopping just short of the oven so they wouldn't interrupt my cooking. If the look of glee on their faces in this photo doesn't say it all, I'm not sure what will:

I can only hope they've tired themselves out SO thoroughly that they'll both go right to sleep tonight.