Thursday, May 31, 2012

Madeleine and Doodle

In which Madeleine shows off her band-aid-covered bug bites and author Julia Rowe does an open reading of her brand new book, "Doodle With the Crazy Hair."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Julia's Great Day

"Mama!  I'm SO excited today, because... MY PLAY-DATE... AND... my TODDLER OUTFIT!!!"

Yes, it was an epic day in the Rowe household.  Not only did Julia have plans for her friend Simi to come over after school, but she got to wear the outfit she had picked out to match the tantrum-throwing toddler in her book of poems.

(In case you need a refresher):

So, despite 80 degree temperatures, Julia set off for school in a long-sleeved blue top, skirt, black leggings, and rain boots:

Ohh, la la!

Madeleine, always desperate to prove she's a part of the gang, insisted upon bringing her backpack with us when we drove to drop Julia off at school.  And it didn't stop there.  Madeleine's backpack had to hang from an unclaimed coat hook ALL DAY at school; it absolutely could not accompany us back to our house.  Furthermore, once the play-date was in full swing, Madeleine was over-eager to be included in all the fun.  Which, unfortunately, included ear-piercing (literally, the older kids were covering their ears), excited exclamations throughout lunch.  "WHAT!?!?  MOMMY IS EATING CARROTS FOR HER LUNCH?!?"

Madeleine sobbed her poor little heart out when I took her up to nap just as Julia and Simi sat down to watch "Barbie: Three Musketeers" (APPLE SAUCE!)  The worst of it occurred when Madeleine woke up from nap and we had the following exchange:

MADELEINE: Uh, Mommy, where's Simi?
ME: Oh, Simi had to go home, honey.  Her baby-sitter came to get her.
MADELEINE: (bursting into inconsolable tears of deprivation.)

The bright side of this whole ordeal is that I definitely won't have to worry about separation anxiety when I drop her off at preschool next year.  She is more than ready to begin her adventures in the cool world of friends and play-doh!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And Yet MORE Pretend Play

Julia filled me in on the good times she and Madeleine had with their baby-sitter today while I was at work:

"Mommy?  Guess what?  We acted out 'The Three Musketeers' AND 'Little Bunny Foo-foo.'  And I got to be the Good Fairy in 'Little Bunny Foo-foo,' and I thought that Madeleine is cute like a little bunny and has a cute little bunny face, so I let her be Little Bunny Foo-foo.  And Tamara was the field mice, and Madeleine and Tamara's part was kind of WEIRD, because Madeleine had to walk over to Tamara and they had to BONK into each other and then I was the Good Fairy and I would get my wings and just FLY down."

Wait a minute... Julia not only got to be a fairy, but she got to be the fairy who polices the whole bunny region and tells everyone how to behave, and ultimately renders justice on the mischievous Bunny Foo-foo?  Sounds like Julia heaven.

And wait just ANOTHER minute... Madeleine got to play a pretend game in which it was PART OF HER JOB to go over and bonk somebody over the head?!?  Sounds like SERIOUS Madeleine heaven.

Julia also went into extensive detail on the various girls from "Barbie: Three Musketeers," including who played which girl in their fantasy re-enactment.  Julia was the girl with the purple dress, who speaks French in the movie.  In her attempt to sound just like this girl, Julia has been storming around the living room saying something that sounds like a Frenchified "applesauce!"  I captured her faux French accent on video, along with Madeleine's copy-catting, although I will point out that I watched the actual Barbie video so I could help Julia figure out what the woman was saying, and it was actually "Enfant terrible!"  Nothing even remotely close to "applesauce," but I give Julia an A for effort!

The girls even played "Ramona and Beezus" after I got home from work, with Julia, of course, playing the role of big sister/boss Beezus, and getting the added bonus of not just telling her true little sister what to do in the game, but also getting to act the part of the teenager ordering her little sister around.  For example:

JULIA: (from the living room) Ramona!  Go to sleep!
MADELEINE: (from the dining room) Okay!
JULIA: Wait.  Hold on a minute.  Pause the game for a second.  Madeleine, come into my room!
MADELEINE: (walking obediently into the living room)
JULIA: Ramona!  There is nothing to be scared of!  There are no ghosts in your room!  Now go back to your own room and leave me alone!
MADELEINE: (walking obediently into the dining room.)
JULIA: (delightedly) Mama!  We're playing "Ramona and Beezus!"

Madeleine is so enamored with her big sister that she even involves Julia in her own play while Julia is at school.  As she lay on the dining room floor coloring this morning, Madeleine announced to me, "See, Mommy?  I drew MADELEINE!   Now I have to draw my sister Julia."

What better way to bring out your inner artist than by coloring while wearing a bonnet?:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Outfits and Books

 Today has been an exciting one in the Rowe household; not only has Julia authored another book, but she has also found a new fashion role model.  In her own words:  "Mom, you know that toddler in the book of poems that's throwing a fit?  Well, I decided that I really love her outfit, so I picked out an outfit just like it for the next Dinosaur day, but I was wondering, that box of shoes that Loula gave us?  Are there any orange boots in it so that I can look just like that toddler?"

The newest fashion model to catch Julia's eye:

What a fashionista!

Later in the morning, Julia created her newest novel, "Love Friends."  If the title alone doesn't capture you, here's a view of the story and illustrations (or, as Julia put it, "I'm the author AND the illustrator!")

 Front cover.

"Once upon a time, there was a girl with brown hair named May and a girl with red hair named Elina and a girl with yellow hair named Lizzy.  They were all friends."

"One day they walked into a forest.  'Is that apples on the tree?' said Elina.  Lizzy said, 'Maybe it's not such a great place to be.'  May said, 'I think you're right.  We'll just have to check it out and see.'

"Then they came upon a house.  They knocked on the door.  They heard soemone say: 'WHO'S KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?'

 "The door opened.  A witch came out.  'AAAAAHH!' said the girls.  'Oh!  Three girls named May, Lizzy and Elina!  I'm gonna eat them up for dinner!'  May said, 'Oh no!'  Elina said: 'We should run away!'  Lizzy said: 'I think we should!'  Then May said 'I have an idea!'  She grabbed a rope and it pulled the witch into the well and the witch said 'What a world, what a world!' 

 The back cover of the book, showing pictures of the various other published books that Julia has authored.  She gave me titles for all of them.  One after the other.  But I'll spare you.

Madeleine, caught up in the excitement of Julia's story, decided to illustrate her own adventure picture, complete with witches - and, of course, her trademark ghouls:

And, since it's Memorial Day, something to get you in the patriotic spirit -  Madeleine proudly displaying her American flags, courtesy of the Trader Joe's:

Hope you have all enjoyed the long weekend!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quotes and Artwork

Madeleine, complaining about her stuffy nose as I snuggled her at bedtime:

MADELEINE: Mommy, I think there's something in my nose.  I need to get it out.  I think I need a tissue.
ME: Honey, we already tried a tissue.  You didn't blow anything out.
MADELEINE: But Mom, I think I need a tissue.  I think I need to get the WORMS out of my nose.

I went and got her another tissue, but unfortunately, none of the worms were willing to come out.

Julia, contemplating Curious George's attempt to buy a $5.00 toy boat with five pennies:

"Mom, if I wanted to buy something with my OWN money and I saw it cost five hundred dollars, I would just put it back and look for something else.  You wouldn't just randomly grab something and bring it up to pay without seeing how much it was."

Madeleine, loudly, in the middle of dinner at Blue on Highland last night, attempting to sing "King Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ, Superstar:

"So, you are the CHRIST, oh, the beautiful CHRIST!  You're the CHA-RIIIIST!  Ohhhh, the BEAUTIFUL CHAAAA-RIIIIIST!  Go home!  Get BACK IN YOUR BED!  Oh, the CHAAAAARIIIIIIST!"

Julia, on why she didn't want to eat the crusts of her grilled cheese sandwich:

ETHAN: Honey, what is it you don't like about your crust?
JULIA: I think it TASTES weird, like I think about ASPARAGUS.

Meanwhile, the girls have also been busy with their artwork.  When Auntie Caitlyn was here on Friday, Madeleine put her to work drawing My Little Ponies.  Per Madeleine's request, the ponies all had to be mean.  Madeleine even helped draw some of the frowny faces, as well as contributed her gigantic ghoul eyes to most of the ponies.  One of the ponies even seems to have an extra set of ghoul eyes right to the left of her head.  Take a look, and see if you can tell which parts of the picture were drawn by Caitlyn and which by Madeleine:

Julia had missed out on all the pony drawing fun, but never fear: she decided to make her own pony picture, complete with rainbows (as well as some sort of tentacles descending from their legs.)  I should point out that Julia's ponies were NOT mean; hers are all sporting happy faces:

The girls got a chance to make more artwork at church today, coloring a picture of a cake to celebrate the idea of Pentecost being the birthday of our church.  Madeleine's cake just wouldn't be her own without some ghoul eyes on it:

Furthermore, she decided to draw one of her ghouls on the back of the picture, as well as what appears to be a column of the letter "J":

I'm just relieved that she didn't burst into "So you are the CHAAAAARIIIIIIST!" in the middle of the church service today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Haircut Debut

Well, the long-awaited day is finally here!  Julia got to go to school with her American Girl doll outfit and her American Girl doll haircut.  How does she look, blog readers?:

Julia has been so excited over her new haircut.  As she put it: "Mom, I just love ACKMIRING my new haircut in the mirror!"

After school today, I asked her if any of her friends had noticed her haircut.  "Simi did," she responded.  I then asked if Mary had noticed.  "Well, Mary usually just PLAYS with me, and is so busy having fun with me, that she doesn't really notice if I get my hair cut."

Madeleine also got to be ackmired today, not for a haircut, but for her snazzy hat.  Picking up the old infant sunhat that has made its way into our dress-up bin, she turned to Auntie Caitlyn, who stopped in for a quick visit, and announced: "Oh!  I'll just wear my hat for safe-keeping!"  Here she is, keeping it nice and safe:

And what would a typical day in the Rowe household be like without Madeleine climbing into something?  This morning, she opted to watch Curious George while sitting in a box:

Totally logical choice of seat, if you ask me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Julia, An American Girl

So, as some of you saw yesterday, Julia took the plunge and decided to get her hair cut.  Abandoning her long-time dreams of having hair as long as Rapunzel's, she instead fell under the influence of different kiddie product, the American Girl doll.  She has fallen in love with one of the dolls in the American Girl catalog we recently received, deciding she wants to have hair and outfits just like this doll:

This is one of the create-your-own dolls; rather than one of the dolls from a particular period in history, who come with names and back stories, this is one of the "Just Like Me" dolls, in which the child can decide upon the type, color, and length of hair as well as the color of skin and eyes.  Although this doll does not resemble Julia in any of the above categories, she nonetheless has decided she wants to emulate this particular American Girl.  This doll does not come with a pre-set name, although Julia has already decided upon the perfect name.

ME: Julia, what's the name of your favorite American Girl?
JULIA: Uh, well, Mama, I don't know what her name is, but if I had her, I would call her LIZZY.

I remember that as a kid I was obsessed with Josie and the Pussycats, and I desperately wanted to get a short bowl cut like Josie had.  I can also remember the elation I felt the day my mom took me to the hair salon to get that particular cut.  So of course I had to offer Julia the same exciting experience, and after school yesterday, we headed to Supercuts.  Here she is, showing off her new do:

Note that both outfits featured above are hand-picked by Julia herself.  I think I'm starting to grow fond of the boho chic look.

After the haircut, Julia, Madeleine (who had almost as much fun as Julia at the Supercuts, getting to watch the whole ordeal and spin around in the barber's chair) and I went to CVS to use the money Yiayia Megali had given to the girls to buy toys.  Julia returned home the proud owner of not only a new haircut, but of a Moxie doll that came with the name Avery.  Madeleine returned home with her first ever, very own My Little Pony.  Needless to say, the girls were chomping at the bit to get their toys out of their packaging and get playing.  Julia had initially wanted to call her doll "Carissa," but after learning that it came with the name "Avery," she decided it would be totally inappropriate to come up with a new name.  (Who is this kid?!?  This is the child who had no problem naming her Little People Cartacarizza and Project Daddy...)  Madeleine's pony came with the name Cherry Pie, although this name kept slipping from her memory.

JULIA: (marching Avery over to Cherry Pie) Hi!  I'm Avery!
MADELEINE: (holding up Cherry Pie)  Hi!  I'm...I don't know what my name is.

Cherry Pie also came with a little mouse pet, and this is where the whole naming-the-toys thing came to a head.  Madeleine began, very logically, calling it "Mouse."  Julia, who had, unbeknownst to us, named one of her My Little Pony's mouse pet "Mouse," found this completely unacceptable.  Gently prompting (forcing) her sister to instead call this new mouse "Mousina," Julia was able to get over her fear of her own mouse's identity being stolen.  That is, until Madeleine slipped up and accidentally used the wrong name.

MADELEINE: (Holding up Cherry Pie)  Hi!  I'm... I don't know what my name is.
JULIA: It's CHERRY PIE, Madeleine.
MADELEINE: Cherry Pie!  And I'm (holding up Mousina)... Mouse!
ME: (firmly.)  Girls.  That's enough.
JULIA: (whining) Well, Mama, I TOLD her that she has to call her mouse Mousina, because my pony's mouse is already NAMED MOUSE!!  Fine, Madeleine, if you're going to keep saying Mouse, then I DON'T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU!

Wow.  Seriously.  Way to blow it, Madeleine.  How DARE she accidentally call her mouse "Mouse?"  WHAT a faux pas.

The result of this ridiculousness was me sending Julia to her room, while Madeleine ran to the steps to await her sister's release.  As Madeleine sat on the steps outside of Julia's door with Cherry Pie and Mousina, Ethan, who was working from home, commented, "Madeleine, I like your mouse."  Madeleine, fiercely loyal to her big sister, informed him, "But... I think her name is MOUSINA."

Today Madeleine is able to remember both Cherry Pie and Mousina's names, and she has decided that she absolutely cannot go anywhere without both of them.  (As well as the suitcase that came with Cherry Pie.)  The problem is that she keeps "forbetting" one thing or the other, or losing one of them, and then the whole household is put on hold while we have to help her recollect her missing item.  As in:

ME: Okay, Madeleine, it's time to go up to nap.  Do you want to bring Cherry Pie?
MADELEINE: Uh-huh!  (suddenly desperate) Oh no!  I forbot Mousina!  (running off.)  Oh, I got him.
ME: Okay, let's go.
MADELEINE: Oh no!  I forbot her SUITCASE!  (running off to get it.)
ME: All right, time to go upstairs.
ME: I have her, Madeleine.  Let's go.
MADELEINE: (traipsing up the stairs to her room and getting into bed.)  Oh no!  I FORBOT to put them in my toy bin!

Thank goodness she at least remembers their names now.  Julia would clearly not forgive her if she FORBOT Mousina's name again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Julia's Musings

JULIA: (throwing her arms around my neck and climbing into my lap) Mama, I just love you!
ME: I love you too, honey!  I love you so, so much!
JULIA: Mama, I love you so much that it's like... eighty-six THOUSAND in my heart!
ME: I love you so much that it hurts my heart.  Do you ever get that feeling?  Do you ever feel like your heart hurts because you're loving someone so much?
JULIA: No... but... well, Mama, sometimes my stomach starts to hurt when I'm galloping too much!

Yes.  She gets it.  That is EXACTLY the same as what I'm talking about.

And speaking of galloping...

Last night, as Julia was filling up the water bottle she keeps by her bedside, she began chattering away at me about various things she wants on her wish list, thereby distracting herself from the water-filling task at hand and stalling on getting to bed.  A pared-down version of our conversation is as follows:

JULIA: Mom, do you know what kind of bed I really want?  I want a bed that has Cinderella pillows, and a yellow and pink striped thing that goes over the bed that I can sit under like a tent!
ME: You mean a canopy?
JULIA: Uh-huh.  So, Mom, can I put that on my wish list?
ME: You can, but remember that you won't always get every item that's on your wish list.
JULIA: What do you mean?
ME: Well, just because something is on your wish list doesn't mean you're going to get it.  We don't really need a new bed right now.  You have a good bed, and beds are very expensive.
JULIA: Oh.  Well, can we get it this WEEKEND?
ME: Julia, I just told you that you don't need a new bed and beds are expensive.  What makes you think that means we can get a bed this weekend?
JULIA: Well, are pillows and blankets expensive?  Because the other thing I really want is a blanket that's part blanket and part PUPPET.
ME: Well, maybe someday.
JULIA: And Mama, do you know what else I really want on my wish list?  I want a Halloween outfit that's not a costume that I can wear and I want Madeleine to have the exact same one and I want them to be in our sizes which is size 6 for me and size 3 for Madeleine and we can wear them on the same day!
ME: You mean like an orange shirt or something like that?
JULIA: Yes!  And Mama, did you know?  When I'm galloping, I imagine that me and my friends are wearing the same matching Halloween outfits with a witch on the shirt, and we're carrying broomsticks and wearing WITCH HATS?!?

It turns out that's not the only type of outfit she imagines she and her friends wearing during gallop time.

JULIA: And one day we're wearing FRESH BEAT BAND outfits, and another day we're wearing a tank top and shorts, and another day we're wearing AMERICAN GIRL DOLL outfits, and then another day we're wearing those white lace shorts with a TANK TOP.

And speaking of outfits...

It finally hit me this morning.  As I arrived at Julia's school to drop her off, two of Julia's best friends were walking towards the door at the same time as we were.  Looking at the three girls, I suddenly realized that Julia's bohemian outfit of a hot pink Ariel shirt, topped with a short-sleeved white knitted sweater cardigan, with a black lace skirt and purple flip-flops, fit in perfectly with the layered, unmatched, obviously hand-picked outfits the other girls were wearing.  All those days on which I picked out cute, matching outfits for Julia and she resisted them, I was being that clueless, un-hip Mom who was totally unaware of the fashion trend of the other cool kids in school.  Ugh.  How lame.  I was so out of the current style culture.  Matching is OUT.  Bohemian is IN.  No wonder Julia doesn't want me any part of her wardrobe choices! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Creativity Abounds

Julia is no stranger to music composition, as evidenced by her many, many spontaneously made-up songs; however, in the past, her songs have all been transmitted orally.  Yesterday she decided to try her hand at musical notation, and she wrote out a brand new composition, dedicated to me.  Not only am I the lucky recipient of her new song, "Love," but she has decided she's going to teach me how to play it in a piano lesson role reversal, in which she is the teacher and I am the student.  I present to you Julia's latest musical work:

The manuscript comes complete with hearts, as well as the year of its composition.  Furthermore, this song has lyrics; while not notated in the score, Julia was sweet enough to sing them while she played her song for me.  I can't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of: "Love, love, love.  I love YOUUUUU!"

She is gearing up for my first piano lesson today after school.  And I can already tell she's going to be a pretty strict teacher.  "Okay, so, Mama," she instructed me after giving me my music.  "Promise me that you're going to practice this song EVERY DAY while I'm at school."  My promise was obviously not good enough, because before she left for school this morning, she gave me a reminder: "And Mama, don't forget: you have to practice your piano lesson music while I'm at school today!"

Julia was kind enough to write the note names in for me, seeing as I wasn't able to differentiate between the various sets of eighth notes she wrote out.  It appears the song's notes go like this: C,C,C,D,D,D,C,C.  Wowzers.  That's a tough one.  I hope I can  handle it.

Madeleine has also been busy with markers and paper, drawing her latest masterpiece.  In case you can't tell what she made, I'll give you the artist's own description of her work: "It's COWIE!!":

Compared against the real Cowie, it's hard to tell which one is Cowie in the flesh (cloth?) and which one is the artistic representation:

I must admit: my kids are nothing if not creative!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dinner Time Awesomeness

Yiayia sent us home from Connecticut with a pile of homemade food that we can use for dinners over the coming week.  Tonight I heated up the pork chops she had grilled, and cooked some broccoli and cornbread stuffing to go on the side.  Julia, who was once my (very) picky eater, gobbled up every last bite of her dinner and earned her dessert.  Madeleine, who was once my great eater, went and hid in the crack between the couch and the wall the minute I attempted to give her a bite of broccoli.  With a promise of dessert should she eat her pork and broccoli, I was able to entice her into taking a bite.  And then several more bites.  In fact, she no longer hid and refused to take bites from me, and I thought I had actually succeeded.  Little did I realize she was receiving the bites, but refusing to chew them, instead squirreling them away in the corners of her mouth without actually eating them.  As she sat on the couch watching the end of her "Dora the Explorer" episode, I brought over a bite of cornbread stuffing to reward her for eating so many bites in a row of meat and veggies.  The stuffing was apparently the bite that pushed her mouth from being chipmunk-cheeked full to being gag-inducing full.  After two forceful gagging sounds, she suddenly vomited all over her lap, legs, and the couch.  Vomit is gross as it is, but when it's full of barely chewed food, it's even more vile.  UGH.  I was so pleased to have to clean the couch, the floor, the clothes, and the child, right before I sat down myself to eat.

Once she was clean, Madeleine willingly accepted another bite from me, this time of stuffing with a small broccoli floret.  Not a big bite and nothing gag-inducing, but either the taste made her feel sick after vomiting up the very same food, or she just didn't want to eat it, because next thing I knew, both pieces were in a pile of mush on the floor.

I gave up.  No more pork, broccoli and stuffing for Madeleine.  (Also, no dessert, even though I did manage to get her to eat some other food.)  Later in the evening, I offered her a slice of cheese and a slice of bread, which she sat happily munching, as if the whole vomiting incident had been no big deal.  In fact, she even cheerfully reported on her current vomiting status:

MADELEINE: (brightly) Mommy!  I'm not BARFING anymore!
ME: Oh, great.  I'm so glad.
JULIA: She said "BORFING."  Mom, why does she say "BORFING?"
MADELEINE: Julia, BELAX!  You're in charge of your SAWED.

Wow.  Not only can Madeleine control her barfing at will, but the crystal clear logic she speaks is unequivocally comprehensible.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trip to CT

The Rowes took a trip to CT this weekend to visit Yiayia and Yiayia Megali (that's Grandmother and Great-Grandmother for those of you who don't speak Greek.)  While the girls are pretty much thrilled ANYTIME we go visit beloved family members (Julia gave me a whole spiel on the way down to CT that it's "more funner" when we get to go to Vermont or Connecticut than when people visit us, because we get to play with all sorts of new toys and you get to sleep in a different bedroom), Ethan and I couldn't help wonder if Madeleine's recent switch from crib to bed was going to turn this trip into a disaster.  Thank our lucky stars, Madeleine actually took to a) sleeping in an unfamiliar bed at Yiayia's house and b) sharing said bed with her sister without a hitch.  In fact, the girls seemed to enjoy snuggling up together in their sleep:

After a whirlwind weekend of playing with all my old childhood toys, visiting Yiayia Megali at her condo complex (including playing on the big condo-wide playground), going out to the Greek diner for old-fashioned snacks and drinks, riding bikes and cars in Yiayia's driveway, and going out for ice cream, the girls were happily run ragged, and both conked out nearly immediately upon our drive home.  One of the highlights for Julia is that she was allowed to take home two of her favorite toys from Yiayia's house: two old, pink Barbie convertables that once belonged to my sisters and I.  Since returning to our house, Julia has been driving her own Barbies around in both cars, concocting a whole fantasy world for them:

Rapunzel and Belle parked in their garage.

"Mom," Julia informed me, as one convertable full of Barbies followed the other around the living room. "My Barbie, well, I named her Lizzy, so: Lizzy, Ariel, Rapunzel and Belle are in college, and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are in high school.  Because Lizzy and Ariel and Rapunzel and Belle are a little bit OLDER than Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, so that's why they're in COLLEGE."

Madeleine did not take home any toys from Yiayia's house, but she did take home a red lollipop, which was about as good a take-home prize as she could ever imagine.

MADELEINE: Daddy!  I'm eating my LOLLIPOP!
ETHAN: You're eating your lollipop, huh?  What flavor is it?
ETHAN: Yeah, but what flavor does it taste like?
ETHAN: Does it taste like cherry, or strawberry...?
ETHAN: One time I ate a lollipop, and it was MADELEINE-FLAVORED!
MADELEINE: No, you didn't eat my lollipop!
ETHAN: Yeah, but I ate a lollipop that was Madeleine-flavored.
MADELEINE: (giggling raucously) Yeah... and... I went inside your MOUTH!
MADELEINE: Did YOU eat a lollipop once, Mommy?
ME: Well, I did eat a lollipop once, but it wasn't a Madeleine-flavored lollipop.
MADELEINE: (brightly) Yeah, you just ate a JULIA one!

Madeleine with her good-flavored lollipop.

All in all, a great weekend trip, and hopefully the girls have not refreshed all of their sapped energy with the car-ride nap and they will actually get to sleep easily for us tonight...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ramona Wins

I have referred to Julia's "Gallop Time" in many of my previous posts, and those of you who have been to our house have gotten to witness the galloping first-hand.  As Julia has explained, she likes to think about things while she gallops, mostly imagining that she and her friends are a part of whatever particular tv show, movie, book, or song she is currently obsessed with.  (I recently learned that her "thinking" is not limited to galloping.  "Mom, did you know I don't just do my thinking when I'm galloping?  I do my thinking whenever I'm doing ANYTHING fun, like... riding bikes, running around, skipping, galloping, riding the scooter at school...")

Julia's latest craze has been the movie "Ramona and Beezus," which basically combines all of the antics from each Ramona book into one, condensed movie.  During the scene in which Ramona and her neighbor Howie are jumping out of the big hole in Ramona's house (part of construction to put an addition on the house), Julia turned and remarked to me, "Mom, did you know that this part is one of the things I imagine about when I'm galloping?"  She has watched this movie for five days straight, and asked me to begin re-reading (for the third time) the book "Ramona the Pest."  Although Ethan and I have read her every Ramona book, Julia is clearly not aware of Beverly Cleary's legacy.  During her third viewing of the Ramona movie, she suddenly exclaimed, "Hey, Mom, you know those Ramona books?  I think somebody decided to make this movie into a book!"

Other way around, sweetheart.

Yesterday, during her galloping ecstasy, Julia suddenly stopped and said to me, "Mom, I think that there should be a Ramona book called 'Ramona Wins.' Because when I was galloping, I was imagining Ramona having a race with Beezus to get to their house, and Ramona gets there first, so Ramona WINS."  I suggested that perhaps she could author that book, and she quickly abandoned galloping in order to get to work on her sophomore novel.  Since I could not read her swirly, pretend-cursive writing, I had her dictate the story to me.  For those interested in reading the newest Ramona book, see below:


Chapter 1:
Ramona and Beezus were on their way home from school.
"Beezus, it's funny how we walk home together.  But we DON'T go to the same school!"
"Well, my school is up-abover than your school, Ramona."
"Really?  I never knew that!"
"Yeah!  Some schools have more schools up above it."

Chapter 2
"I've got a great idea, Beezus!  We can race to the house!  Whoever gets there first wins!"
"Okay, Ramona!  That's a great idea!"
"I'm always thinking in my head."
"I know you're always thinking in your head."

 Chapter 3
"I'm almost there!  I'm almost there!  I win!"
"Oh, Ramona, you won.  So... what do you do if you win?"
"Beezus, I know I winned, so that means... a celebration?!?"


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Puppet Show

The girls and I had an fun and exciting outing this morning, heading into Brookline on the green line train, in order to see a show at the Puppet Showplace Theater.  Though we boarded the crowded train at the prime work commute hour, people were kind enough to offer us their seats, so we sat three in a row across two connected seats.  Not good enough for Madeleine, unfortunately.

"Mommy!  I want to sit in my OWN seat!" she insisted, refusing to allow any part of my body to touch against her, and ABSOLUTELY refusing to sit in my lap so that she and I together could take up one entire seat.  To make things even easier, Julia couldn't deal with the idea of me standing to let her and her sister sit in the seats, so I would up with my extremely tall, nearly five-and-a-half-year-old in my lap so that my little 2.5 year-old imp could be Miss Independent and enjoy her own roomy seat.  And all was well, as Julia declared, "Mama, the reason I like sitting in your lap is I can see everything out the window EVEN BETTER!"

We arrived at the Puppet Showplace Theater with plenty of time before the show began, so we joined the crowd of preschool kids, who were on a field trip, in sitting outside the theater to enjoy the nice weather:

As the girls sat eating the snacks I had brought along, they seemed to forget that they had actually come to the puppet theater with their mother, and instead were suddenly under the impression that the preschool teacher leading the field trip was the absolute authority over everyone.  As the teacher loudly announced that she wanted all her students to stand up and get in line so that they could go inside the theater, Madeleine felt the need to loudly announce, in response, what she and Julia were doing instead: "NO, WE'RE SITTING ON THE STEPS!!"

SITTING ON THE STEPS!! and eating granola bars

Julia, on the other hand, began to freak out over the fact that I wasn't getting her into line with the other kids.  "Julia," I tried to reason with her.  "We're not part of that group.  We already went inside and got our tickets.  We have plenty of time."  "But MOM!  We're gonna MISS it!  They said it's time to go inside!" she panicked.  I finally managed to convince the girls that we actually had a half hour before the show was to begin, and that they were welcome to stay outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.

"I'm just gonna sit on the steps," Julia declared, before completely contradicting herself and leaping up to run around in circles on the sidewalk.  Madeleine immediately followed suit.  Here is what all the passersby got to witness on the sidewalk outside the various apartment buildings next to the theater:

-Both girls chasing each other in a circle hollering "Keekeereekeeeeee!  Keekeereekeee!"
-Julia flinging her arms around my legs and exclaiming "Oof!"  Madeleine instantly copying Julia's action and exclamation.
-Both girls resuming their dizzying circular running, complete with "Keekeereekeeeee!"
-Julia, then Madeleine, flopping into me and crying "Oof!"
-"Keekeereekeeeeee!  Keekeereekeeeee!"

And so forth.  After five minutes of this, I decided we should go into the puppet building and hang out in the lobby instead.

When the theater doors finally opened, the girls and I took our seats in one of the first few rows:

Before the show actually began, one of the theater owners came out with a little fuzzy pink "monster" puppet on her hand to announce the general theater rules.  And oh, how quickly Madeleine abandoned her aversion to sharing personal space with me.  As long as she was leaning against me with her hand on my leg, she was safe from the puppets and was able to enjoy the show.  (Despite the fact that the puppeteers actually stood in plain sight throughout the show, holding the puppets, making it clear that the puppets were not real.)  Seeing as Julia completely freaked out at her first puppet show because she was afraid The Very Hungry Caterpillar was going to try and eat her - AND considering that Julia wouldn't play in the backyard for a period of time after hearing the story of "Peter and the Wolf," lest a wolf appear from the back woods - Madeleine's need to sit close to me was nowhere near a truly fearful reaction.

Enjoy the show they did - Julia was old enough so that the intentionally humorous elements of the show rang hysterical for her, and spent much of the show with a huge grin on her face, often bursting into laughter along with many of the other kids.  Madeleine had her complete tv-zombie-zone-out face the entire time, as she was totally engrossed in the story and stared intently up at the puppeteers and their puppets the whole time, barely moving a muscle or wiggling at all.  When the rest of the room would burst into laughter, Madeleine would suddenly be woken out of her puppet show reverie, and would force a loud, raucous laugh just as the older kid laughter was dying down, turning her head to face the rows of kids behind us so she could be sure she was seen joining in with their laughter. 

When the show was over, the girls excitedly headed back to the train station with me, delighted at the chance to ride the green line once again:

While we waited for the train, Julia struggled to make sense of one scene in the show, during which Red Riding Hood faked a need to go to the bathroom in order to try and escape from the wolf.  Red Riding Hood's loud, explosive tooting sound effects had the room in hysterics.  However, Julia seemed puzzled about that scene afterwards, because in her utter faith that potty talk is not good, she didn't seem to understand that the tooting scene had existed for the sole purpose of making the kids laugh.

JULIA: Mama?  But WHY was Little Red Riding Hood saying that she needed to go poop and then making all those tooting sounds?
ME: Well, because she was trying to get away from the wolf, and she thought that if she pretended she had to go poop, the wolf wouldn't follow her into the bathroom.
JULIA: Yeah, but... WHY was she making those tooting sounds?
ME: Because she wanted it to sound like she was really pooping, so the wolf would keep his distance.
JULIA: Yeah, but... WHY did the wolf say "I'm gonna turn away from that mess?"

Because, Julia.  Not everyone thinks pooping time is social hour and time to shout conversations through the bathroom door.  And not everyone feels delighted to show off their poop when they're done, proudly pointing at their creation in the toilet bowl.  And the wolf, like most of us, thinks the idea of LOOKING at someone else's finished poop is totally repulsive.

Madeleine summed up the show as such: "The daddy (aka the male puppeteer) made the wolf go 'Wooooooooooo!' and the wolf wanted to take a BIG CHOMP out of the girl puppet, and the Mommy (aka the female theater owner) had a Cookie Monster!"

Yes.  That is EXACTLY what happened.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

God and Band-aids

Last night, as I was putting Madeleine to bed, she had some existential questions following the recitation of her prayer.

MADELEINE: Mommy, where's God?
ME: God is in Heaven, honey.
MADELEINE: No, where's God?
ME: God lives in Heaven.  We can't see God, but He can see us.
MADELEINE: No, God is at church.
ME: Well, yes, God is at church, and we learn about God at church, you're right. 
MADELEINE: No, God lives at church.
ME: God lives at church?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  And... He gives us some food.  And then we get bread!

It was at this point in the conversation that I realized Madeleine has been under the impression, all this time, that our priest is God.  The food he gives to Madeleine is actually Communion, after which she gets her piece of bread.  The thing that's really interesting to me is that Madeleine doesn't seem to notice, or care, that God has changed from a young, black-bearded, Greek-American God to an older, gray-haired, thick Greek-accented God as our parish recently transitioned to a new priest.  It's all God to her, I guess.

Madeleine did a great job sleeping in her big girl bed again last night, and once again woke up with a dry pull-up, although I would have preferred to sleep a little longer past the crack of dawn.  At around quarter to six this morning, Madeleine stood outside my bedroom door, pleading, "Mommy!  Open your door!"  When I appeared in the doorway, she announced to me that she had hurt her chin and needed a Hello Kitty band-aid.  I saw nary a scratch on her chin, but obliged with the band-aid, which she has been wearing proudly all morning:

We had another injury in the house today, both causing, and as a result of,  a big dramatic to-do.  As I attempted to hustle the kids downstairs to get Julia to school, Madeleine, who was wailing over the fact that she didn't have a dress EXACTLY like the one Julia was wearing, got Unicornio's hoof caught in the leg hole of my shorts.  Instead of standing still so that I could extract the leg, she decided to yank repeatedly on Unicornio, desperate to get him uncaught.  And then, suddenly: SNAP.  Poor Unicornio has become a lame horse:

Half of his front leg is now detached, unfortunately.  Oh, the wailing, oh, the drama.  When I attempted to make things mildly better by offering Unicornio the band-aid from Madeleine's chin, total chaos ensued.  If you were in Madeleine's head, which crisis would be more likely to cause a total, complete, utter melt-down: a) having an unneccessary band--aid taken off of an imaginary boo-boo, or b) having your most beloved toy permanently lose his foot?  If you chose a), then DING!  DING!  DING!  We have a winner!!

The end result was a new band-aid on Madeleine's chin, further wasting our bandages for cuts that don't exist, and acceptance of the newly-amputated Unicornio.  I mean, really, once her band-aid was back on, she really didn't seem all that upset about her wounded horse:

Speaking of beloved toys, I attempted to get a video of Madeleine singing her latest favorite song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," but she was way too distracted by her Cinderella and Ariel Polly Pockets to stay focused:

There is never a dull moment in this household, that is for certain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Big Girl Bed

Over the weekend, Madeleine made the exciting transition from crib to big girl bed!  Both girls clambered eagerly up the stairs to Madeleine's room to watch the big dismantling of the crib, which we thought was important for Madeleine to witness so that she wouldn't suddenly find a giant empty space where her crib used to be.  The crib disassembly initially held their interest, though once they were aware it was to be a long, slow, involved process, they were off to Julia's room to look at princess books.

Nonetheless, Madeleine seemed fully aware of the fact that we had said good-bye to her crib and she now had her very own bed.  Her maiden voyage in the bed took place during naptime.  As I lay snuggling her in the bed, she lay next to me gushing on and on about her new bed:

MADELEINE: I'm in my NEW big girl bed!  Aw, I love my new bed so much!  Yeah, I'm just SO LUCKY to have my NEW BED!  Mommy, this is my new BIG GIRL bed and I'm just so happy I have my new bed!  I'm just so lucky that I got my big girl bed!


ME: Yes?
MADELEINE: Can I go in my crib?

Needless to say, that first nap was a bust, but happily, that evening she fell easily to sleep in her bed and even kept her pull-up dry all night, which felt like a huge success.  As proud as she is of sleeping in her new big girl bed, however, don't make the mistake of calling her a big girl.  As in:

ME: Madeleine, you're such a big girl sleeping in your big girl bed!
MADELEINE: No!  I'm NOT a big girl!  I'm a LITTLE GIRL!  Julia's a big girl!

How dare I.

Naptime yesterday proved to be a bit of a struggle, given that Madeleine, tired as she was, had absolutely no interest in going to bed.  And, of course, given that she is no longer restrained in her crib, there was nothing stopping her from hopping out of bed and making a break for it, dashing out her door and scampering down the stairs with me running behind to catch her.  It took the threat of putting her prisoner inside her pack n play before she was willing to lay down in her bed, and nearly as soon as she had put her head on her (bear) pillow, she was out like a light:

Yeah.  I think we might want to get her a bigger blanket now that she's in a bed.  She's like a little bug afloat a big blue lake.

Last night, she stayed in her bed, singing loudly to herself (as is her usual pre-falling-asleep routine) and conked out without any extra snuggling help from us, so we seem to be moving in the right direction...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day

For the past week, Julia has been SO excited for Mothers Day.  She has been anxiously awaiting the chance to give me the artwork she made me at school, and has been busy stockpiling away more drawings in her closet all week long.  It all began on Tuesday, when I picked her up from school and she had a painting of flowers she had made in class.

JULIA: Mom, when is Mothers Day?
ME: On Sunday.
JULIA: So... it's on a weekend?
ME: Yup.
JULIA: On a church day?
ME: Yes, but I think we're going to stay home from church that day.  Daddy doesn't have to sing that morning, so we thought we'd have a nice family breakfast at home.
JULIA: Okay, well, Mama, I have a present for you, but DON'T LOOK!  Be careful when you're getting us into the car because I don't want you to see what I made you!

I got Julia and Madeleine into the car, eyes averted (even though I had already seen the painting when we were first walking out of school), and got into the driver's seat.  As we drove home, I could see the wheels turning in Julia's brain as she thought through every Mothers Day detail.

JULIA: So, Mama, on Mothers Day, I want to wear a dress... and... MAMA!  If we're not going to church, then that's PERFECT, because then you won't need to go in my closet to pick out a church dress, because I decided that's where I'm going to HIDE your PRESENT!

When we got home, Julia continually instructed me not to see the painting she was carrying, while simultaneously chattering on and on about it.

JULIA: Mom, it's something UNIQUE, it's something that you LOVE... Mama, I'm trying to sound like Raspberry on Strawberry Shortcake, because I'm talking about your flow- uh... uh-oh.
ME: It's okay, I didn't hear what you said.
JULIA: (chipper once again) Okay!  Because I'm talking about your SPECIAL PRESENT.

Throughout the week, Julia has been clandestinely sneaking more artwork up to her closet, commanding me not to look, sometimes giving me a little hint about what she was making.  One afternoon when I arrived home from work, Julia had just come downstairs from her room, after squirreling away yet another drawing.  "Mama!" she told me, delightedly.  "You can't look, because I was just putting a present from me and Madeleine in my closet.  So, Mama, I had to help her, so I drew some flowers and a rainbow, because, well, I wanted you to get a NICE drawing for Mothers Day, not, like..."  I filled in the blank: "Madeleine scribbles?"  Julia quickly affirmed.

Two days ago, the wait was starting to wear on Julia.  "Mom, I just CAN'T WAIT until it's Mothers Day!" she told me, sounding like a child awaiting Christmas morning.  "I really can't wait for you to see ALL THE PRESENTS I HAVE FOR YOU!"

At long last, the day has arrived.  Julia celebrated by coming into the bedroom at 6:30 this morning, chattering away non-stop to me, while Madeleine celebrated by yelling repeatedly from her crib: "MOM!  COME TO ME!"  Thankfully, my wonderful husband stepped in and got up with the girls so that I could get some more sleep.  When I finally came downstairs, I was treated to my expansive pile of pictures from Julia:

As well as a pancake breakfast and a heartfelt letter plus massage gift card from Ethan.  As if all that is not enough, I also received this sweetheart video message from the kids, which you should be able to view if you copy and paste the link below:

I have no words to describe how blessed I am.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Elephants and princesses

Madeleine is REALLY into this pair of mother-baby elephant figurines lately; they are part of an entire set of wild animals, though at the moment the poor crocodile, tiger, lion, and hippo are entirely ignored as she singles out only the elephants as her playthings.  She usually stands at the windowsill to enact her pretend play games with the elephants, which can be confusing for me if I'm sitting on the couch beside the window and I can't tell if she's addressing me or the elephant mommy.

ME: Yes, honey?
MADELEINE: (irritable at me for interrupting her game) No, it's HER mommy!
ME: Oh, the baby elephant is talking to her mommy? I'm sorry.  I thought you were talking to me.
MADELEINE: (in a forgiving spirit) How bout... you can be the DADDY?
ME: Oh, I'm the daddy?  Okay.  (in a low voice) Hi, baby elephant.  I'm your daddy.
MADELEINE: (pointing at me)  Yeah, you can be the daddy, and...  (pointing at Julia) you can be the Julia, and... I can be the MADELEINE!

I'm not quite sure why I'm the only one who didn't get to play myself in this whole game.  I understand that the role of elephant mommy had already been taken, but it's not as if an elephant Julia and Madeleine were part of the game.  Couldn't I have just been the regular human mommy?  Nothing against daddies, but I really have a lot more experience being a human mother than being an elephant father, and I think my acting skills would have gone to better use if I could draw on real-life experiences.

At any rate, true to her typical clingy attachment stage she goes through anytime she's really in love with a toy, Madeleine has been taking the elephant pair most anywhere she goes.  They are frequently her companions as she poops on the potty.  And the other day, when Ethan was working from home, Madeleine insisted on sitting beside him at the kitchen breakfast counter, playing her elephant game while Ethan clacked away at his computer.  At one point, I overheard the following conversation:

ETHAN: (sounding a bit shocked, and suppressing impending laughter) Uhhh... what are the elephants DOING, Madeleine?
MADELEINE: I fink... he's just LOOKING at her.

Ethan was kind enough to reposition the elephants as they had been when he and Madeleine had the above discussion:

Today I found them in quite the interesting pose, abandoned upon the windowsill:

That looks super comfortable.  Elephant yoga!

Madeleine did take a little break from playing elephants today to enact some Polly Pocket princess drama.  Taking her cue from Julia, she had Polly Pockets Sophie and bald Cinderella get into a fight over who would wear which color dress.  Don't worry, it was all worked out peacefully once Sophie, very reasonably, suggested the following to Cinderella: "No, let's justify this!  I think you can wear the BLUE dress."

 Sophie and Cinderella justifying this.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kids in Concert

When I returned home from work today, I saw the tell-tale sign that Julia had put on another Goldens performance: her "stage" of two little chairs was set up in its usual place.  Our baby-sitter commented to me on the whole ordeal, and I discovered that until today, Tamara had never before had the pleasure of attending a Goldens concert.  "She makes up so many songs!"  Tamara remarked.  "And they're really GOOD!"

Yes, I have finally come to realize that the excessive amount of singing that the kids do is not typical.  Having a composer/singer mother and an improviser/singer father, I suppose it should be no surprise that our children are constantly bursting out in made-up song, no matter where we/they happen to be.  On the toilet.  In the grocery store.  In the middle of church.  In their beds at night when they're supposed to be sleeping.  Ethan and I have joined genetic forces to ensure we produce the most obsessively musical children on the face of the earth.

I had the lucky privilege of hearing a few Goldens songs this evening; while I only videotaped two of them, I can assure you I got to hear many, many more.  Here, in their most recent leg of their concert tour, are the Goldens:

Madeleine wanted her own turn to perform as well.  I have resigned myself to the fact that our whisks will never be acknowledged as such by the kids, and instead they will henceforth be known as "microphones."  As in:

MADELEINE: (running into the kitchen) Uh, Mommy, can you get me my MICROPHONE?

I unfortunately didn't get my video camera out in time to record Madeleine's first song, which was an original composition, filled with her new favorite lyric: "Justified it!  Justified it!"  Instead, what I got was her somewhat mangled version of "Jingle Bells," since of course, in the middle of May, that's the logical song to perform in concert:

Hooray!  Great job, Madeleine!  You totally justified it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Princess Drama

This evening, the princesses engaged in more drama, although this time it was the Barbie doll princesses rather than the miniature figurine versions.  All started peacefully, as Julia ran up to her room to gather her collection of Barbie dolls so that she could play along with Madeleine, who had taken out her beach Barbie and Sleeping Beauty Barbie dolls.  As she sat excitedly with her pile of dolls, Julia chattered on about the various dresses the princesses were wearing to the ball:

Madeleine was quick to notice who was missing, which was the beginning of the catfight:

MADELEINE: Where's Cinderella?
JULIA: Uh, I left her in my room, because... (guilty, suppressed smile) she was NAKED!

Madeleine, however, didn't seem to have a problem with naked ball guests:

Sleeping Booty and Beach Barbie (who obviously goes to nude beaches)

Madeleine had a ready solution to the problem of the missing Cinderella.  Running to her toy bin to get her larger-sized, non-Barbie Cinderella, she triggered a near melt-down for Julia.

JULIA: Madeleine!  NO!  Don't go get MY Cinderella!
MADELEINE: But I need to get my favorite!
ME: Julia, she's getting HER Cinderella.
JULIA: No Madeleine!  Don't touch my toys!
ME: Julia.  She is getting HER Cinderella doll.
JULIA: But HER Cinderella isn't a Barbie doll!

Julia was not willing to abide any intruders at the royal ball.  There was NO way giant Cinderella was allowed in.

"No, Mom, my princesses don't allow any giants at their ball!" Julia wailed, then decided to offer Madeleine the cop-out separate-but-equal option:  "Madeleine, your princesses can go to their OWN ball."

Madeleine was initially hurt over being snubbed at the ball, and decided to sit herself in a really inconvenient place:

 She was stucking.

Luckily, the feud was short-lived, and all the princesses soon joined together to dance at the ball.  The music was an original Julia composition, performed by the composer herself.  Some of you long-standing blog readers may even remember this song, "Come on Yosta," written by Julia awhile ago, and resurrected for the ballroom today.

Julia was actually at a play-date for most of the afternoon after school today, so Madeleine was flying solo in her play for the majority of the day.  She even sat quietly for awhile, "reading" to herself: