Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vacation, Day 2


It was such a special treat for me to take my daughters to the site of so many of my own happy childhood vacation memories.  I probably shouldn't admit this on a public blog, but I was actually nearly as captivated by the whole pretend world of storybook characters as an adult as I was as a child.  I mean, I was totally pretending I was Goldielocks in the Three Bears House as I laid down in Mama Bear's bed yesterday.  The girls were thrilled with all the adventures Storyland had to offer, from the aforementioned bear beds:

to the play house of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater:

to riding the pumpkin coach to Cinderella's castle and sitting upon her throne:

Perhaps even more exciting were the various amusement park rides.  We started off riding the teacups:

and eventually graduated to the Polar Coaster, the first time on a roller coaster for either kid.  Since Madeleine just barely made the height requirement, I was a little worried she might be totally freaked out by the ride, but instead, I heard her little pipsqueak voice in the car behind me ask, as soon as the ride was slowing to a stop, "Can we do it AGAIN?"  Julia was thrilled by the whole ride, admitting only after the fact, "Mama, I was worried I might be SCARED on the roller coaster, but it was SO FUN!"

Unfortunately, the afternoon took an ominous turn when a big gray cloud slowly moved from the mountains in the distance to directly overhead.  In probably the worst timing imaginable, it started to rain just as we got on the hot air balloon ferris wheel ride, and we heard thunder just as our balloon reached the top of the wheel.  I think Julia was literally ready to throw herself from the top of the ride in order to escape the threat of thunderstorm.  Once we were off the ride, it began to downpour, so we all ran to shelter under a big tent to wait out the storm.

Here is how Madeleine reacted to the torrential rain:

This is how Julia reacted to the torrential rain:

The reason that the angle of this picture is so weird is because Julia was wrapped around my leg in a death grip.

Things really got ugly once Ethan decided to go get the car and pull around to the entrance to the park so we could hop right in.  As I walked through the pouring rain holding one kid's hand in each of my hands, trying to find the fastest way to the exit, I had a battle of who can scream and cry the loudest going on between the kids.

On one side of me:
"MOOOOMMMMY!  MY STICKEEEEER!  I LOOOOOST MY STICKEEEEER!"  (referring to the big, circular Storyland sticker, which had lost its grip on Madeleine's shirt due to the heavy rain.)

On the other side of me:

I think the best part of all was once we had finally gotten through the exit of the park and stood, completely saturated with water, waiting for Ethan to drive up to the curb and get us.  We saw his car go by, realized he had failed to spot us, and began running after the car to get his attention.  Like a trio of buffoons, we chased the car in circles through the dirt parking lot, each of us screaming "DADDY!  DADDY!  DADDY!"  as if our lives depended on it.

I'm sure we were more entertainment for the rest of the Storyland crowds than any of the rides themselves were.

At any rate, the day was not lost, as the kids quickly regained their spirits once we were home and changed, and the storm passed and the sun came back out.  In fact, it wasn't long before we were all enjoying ourselves in the hotel pool:

"Mama, pretend I'm in the Olympics and I just WON!"  Julia exclaimed after swimming the length of the pool.  "So, now, you have to be the person that talks to me after the race and asks me questions."

To end the day, we went into nearby North Conway for dinner, followed by dessert at the kiddie wonderland of ice cream shops, equipped with an outdoor playground:

What adventures will today hold?  That remains to be seen, as the day is still young, but I can guarantee you I will be checking the weather forecast before we head out today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation, Day 1

The Rowe family headed north to New Hampshire yesterday afternoon, kicking off our family vacation to the White Mountains.  We stopped in at the CVS to purchase new coloring books and markers before getting on the highway, and they proved to be the best possible car-ride entertainment we could have imagined.

"Mama!"  Julia cried at one point, as we got off a highway exit to make a pit stop.  "I was just so busy coloring that I FORGOT that the highway is BORING!"

Since it was a rainy day, and since our check-in time at our hotel wasn't until late afternoon, we stopped in Laconia, NH en route to the mountains, taking the kids to one of my favorite childhood indoor entertainment sites: Fun Spot.  The girls got to enjoy mini-golf, bowling, bumper cards, and all sorts of indoor kiddie rides:

Julia still can't decide whether the bumper cars or the mini-golf was her favorite activity.  Madeleine had a slightly less favorable impression of mini-golf, after her desire to stuff her ball into one of the windows of a decorative "fun house" at hole #4 caused her to permanently lose her ball and wind up heart-brokenly, prematurely finished with the game.

We stopped for a quick dinner at Hart's Turkey Farm following our Fun Spot adventure, then got back on the road for the 90 minute drive into Jackson.  Upon arriving at our hotel, the girls were so excited to be on vacation and out of the car that they decided to act like two completely untrained apes in the hotel lobby.

CONCIERGE: You girls seem excited!  Are you excited to go to the place you're visiting tomorrow?  I'm not sure if I should say the name, in case it's a surprise.
ME: Oh, they already know that we're going to Storyland tomorrow.  We drove right by it, and they were so excited, like 'Can we just go there now??'
JULIA: (indignant) Mommy, no we were NOT!
ME: Well, you have a better understanding of time than your sister does.  You knew we weren't going until tomorrow.  But Madeleine was saying she wanted to go right now.
CONCIERGE: (looking at Madeleine) And you're Madeleine?
MADELEINE: (full volume, to the Concierge) Yeah, I was just talking 'bout LICKING MOMMY.  Yeah.  I was talking about LICKING MOMMY!  I was just LICKING HER.  But that gets YUCKY GERMS!

It was at this point that Julia decided to get down on all fours and repeatedly bonk her head into Ethan's crotch as she attempted to crawl through his legs along the lobby floor.

I swear.  We can't take them anywhere.

When we got to the hotel suite, the girls were OUT OF THEIR MINDS with excitement.  "It even has a KITCHEN!  So, Mama, we CAN COOK!"  Julia exclaimed in delight, despite the fact that there is not actually a stove in the kitchen, just a mini-fridge and microwave.  Most exciting of all was the pull-out couch, which was to be the girls' bed.  Both kids took some time to jump up and down on the fold-out bed, then settled in on their stomachs, echoing each other: "THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!"  Oh, to be a child again, and to be so excited about all of life's experiences that a pull-out couch seems like the greatest thing in the world...

It was clear that, despite the time being past 7:30pm, the girls were too wound up to go right to sleep.  (ME: Madeleine, are you ready for bed?  MADELEINE: No.  I'm not.  I'm just still being excited playing in my special COUCH.)  So we let them stay up a little extra late and headed to the hotel's pub, where Ethan and I enjoyed a drink and the girls shared a water.  With the "sparklies" (Christmas lights), the live music, and the wide screen tvs, Madeleine was pretty convinced she was in wonderland.

"Isn't this GREAT?" Madeleine exclaimed, looking around with eyes alight.  "They have the LYMPICS!"  Julia's focus then turned to the tvs, which were indeed showing the Olympics, which seemed extremely confusing to her.

JULIA: Wait, Mama, they even have the Olympics here, even though we're in NEW HAMPSHIRE?
ME: Yeah!  People all over the WORLD are watching the Olympics.
JULIA: (baffled)  Even in China?
ME: Yup.
JULIA: Even in Washington?

Yes.  Even though we're in the foreign terrain of New Hampshire, which is, of course, SO DIFFERENT from Massachusetts, they still have Olympic coverage on the tvs here.  Not only that, but if you're in China you can watch them too.  Not only THAT, but those strangers over in Washington can see them as well.  What a world!

Today we are gearing up for a Storyland adventure, so you can imagine how high the excitement level is in the Rowe family!  Pictures to come!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mannequins, revisited

Two years later, and Julia *still* hasn't quite grasped the concept...

On this morning's "Curious George" episode, George was accidentally trapped inside a department store after it closed.  Making the most of his evening in the store, he donned a chef's hat and played music on the hanging pots and pans in the cooking ware department.

JULIA: Mama, why is George wearing that hat?  Do you think he got it off one of the STATUES?
ME: Yeah.  They're called mannequins.  I think he got it off one of the mannequins.
JULIA: No, Mama, it's NOT a mannequin, because it HAD a head!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Today has generally been a lazy Saturday so far, which is nice since it gives us the chance to hang out as a family and watch the Olympics.  The kids even slept *slightly* later than usual, due to a late bedtime last night after hosting dinner for our good friends, the Listewniks.  While Julia woke up around 7:30, which is "sleeping in" for her, Madeleine slept past 8, waking up cheerful and on a mission. 

ME: (walking into her room) Good morning, honey!
MADELEINE: (holding out Cowie towards me) Mommy, I need to you wash Cowie's ear, because it's just really really dirty from just really EATING him.

At least she has finally acknowledged the fact that her habit of chewing on Cowie's ear when she's falling asleep is pretty germy and gross.

Before the Olympics coverage began, the girls got to watch gymnastic feats on their newest movie obsession: "McKenna: An American Girl."  In order to feel like part of McKenna's gymnastics team, Julia donned a black leotard and thumped her body around the living room, occasionally calling out to me: "Mama, is THIS a REAL gymnastics move?"  (the answer was always no.)  Madeleine decided that the best way to play make-believe gymnast was to dress up like this:

"Super UNDERWEAR to the rescue!!"  she yelled triumphantly.  "Super UNDERWEAR... I mean... SUPER ASTRONAUT to the RESCUE!!!"

To be fair, she really could pass as either Super Underwear or Super Astronaut given her get-up.  So I can see why she got a little mixed up over her Superhero nickname.

Once the actual Olympics started, the girls very excitedly watched the swimming heats, as well as the US vs Croatia womens basketball game.  Although a bit too young to root for a particular individual or team solely based on country - OR skill - Julia nonetheless picks her favorites in each event based on whether they're pretty OR whether she likes their name.  Current faves include basketball player Maya Moore (pretty), swimmer Caitlin Leverenz (name, since it happens to be that of her Auntie), and Amanda Beard (name, since it's among Julia's most beloved ones.)

In the middle of the swimming trials, Julia's newest favorite song, "Call Me Maybe," was played, which caused Julia to get up and hop around, singing along.  After the next swimming heat began, Julia turned to me and announced gaily, "Now since I heard that song, I feel like I want to do some galloping so I can THINK ABOUT IT!" 

Madeleine was a little slower to react, jumping up from coloring well after the song was done, while Julia and I were silently watching the swimming.  Next thing I knew, Madeleine was hopping around, chanting, "This is CRA-ZAH, call me MAH-BAH!"  She then turned to me to deliver the breaking news: "Mom!  They were playing 'Call Me Maybe!" 


I think, however, the afternoon's most memorable Rowe child quote comes from Julia.  As I tried to focus my attention on an interview of the women's gymnastics team, of which a teenager from our town is a member, I tried to ignore the distraction of Julia, climbing all over me and asking incessant questions.  Once the interview had finished, I let Ethan know about our town-mate's interview.

ME: Ethan, they just interviewed the US gymnastics team and talked to the girl from Needham.
ETHAN: Oh, really?
ME: Yeah.  I had a little someone asking questions in my ear the whole time though so it was hard to listen.  (turning to Julia)  Who was asking me  questions?
JULIA: Uh...Barack Obama?

Now, while the similarities between Julia and Barack Obama are undeniable, and it's an easy mistake to mix up the two, I was certainly not expecting that to be Julia's response.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Community Band in Concert

Last night, I performed with my town's community concert band, and Ethan and the girls sat in the audience.  I have to say I was thrilled with the behavior of both kids; sitting still in an auditorium for an hour and a half is not easy at their age.  The concert was actually scheduled to be outside on the town field, which means the kids get to run rampant and the adults can sit and listen to the music; a perfect set-up.  However, due to a forecast for rain (which never came to fruition, after all), the band was moved indoors.  So it really was a treat for me to look out into the audience and see two obedient little pumpkin heads barely reaching above the seats in front of them, hands clapping to join in the applause. 

Of course, this doesn't mean there were absolutely NO distractions from my kids.  Madeleine's most prominent disruption occurred shortly after intermission, when she suddenly decided it was imperative that she get up on stage to "go see Mommy" right that instant.  I didn't know the specifics of her desires at the time, though I could very clearly hear her insistent, pipsqueak voice resonating through the auditorium, repeating with increasing urgency, "I want to.  I want to.  I WANT to.  I WANT TO.  I WAAAANT TOOO!!"  After a brief, emergency fleeing of the concert hall to quiet her down, Ethan was able to bring Madeleine back inside the auditorium to enjoy the rest of the concert.  Apparently her desire to go see me was trumped by her heartbreak over the fact that she was separated from Julia, who sat diligently in her seat in the audience throughout the whole Madeleine fiasco.

Julia remained quiet through the whole concert, deciding to be disruptive only once the whole affair had ended.  But before I can address her explosive, joyful outburst as she approached me, I must first update you on some news.  Brace yourselves:

For some inexplicable reason, I am no longer Quee-Quaw.

For some (even MORE inexplicable) reason, I am now Quaw-Quee Clark.

So as the concert band greeted their loved ones who approached the stage after our final song, Julia gleefully pranced up towards me, bellowing out, "HIIII, QUAW-QUEE CLARK!"

ME: Hi, Jules!
ME: I heard you.  You're a goose.
JULIA: (glancing around to see who was paying attention)  But you're QUAW-QUEE CLARK!
ME: Yes, I heard you.
JULIA: (looking around to try and grab the attention of anyone nearby who hadn't heard her great nickname)  YOUR NAME IS QUAW-QWEE CLARK!

*Just in case* you missed it, let me make it clear: My name is now Quaw-Quee Clark. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

American Girl Doll Sleepover

Julia thoroughly loved her American Girl Doll workshop yesterday, coming home with not only a sleeping bag and pillow she had decorated for her doll Julie, but also a decorated picnic basket filled with play-doh goodies she had constructed.  Among these goodies were a box of chocolate chip cookies, a lollipop, an ice cream float, and a pizza:

Julia couldn't get enough of her new doll accessories, and played sleepover with her Julie doll all afternoon and evening:

Today the game has gotten even more elaborate, incorporating a variety of other dolls into the sleepover scenario.  Among Julie's sleepover friends are Julia's "Bitty Twins," May and Elina, who are 2.  (Julia does not seem to realize that her sister, a 2-year-old, does not speak like a baby first learning words, as May and Elina tend to speak in deliberately mispronounced baby talk.)  Other sleepover guests include Sophia (6), Rose Flower (1), Rapunzel (5), and Madeleine's doll Baby Lily (3 months.)  Julia has proclaimed herself to be 19, and Madeleine is stuck remaining her actual age in the game, since Julia insists that Madeleine be the same age as the Bitty Twins.  (Does that mean they're really triplets??)

So it was that Julia and Madeleine conducted a multi-doll sleepover in Madeleine's room this afternoon:

Shown above, from left to right: Rose Flower, May, Elina, Sophia, and Julie.  Not pictured: Baby Lily and Rapunzel.

19-year-old Julia presided over this sleepover, offering the dolls something to eat from her picnic basket, telling them when it was time to go to sleep, and tucking them all in.  Now, lest you think that at 19, Julia has already given birth to seven children (eight if Madeleine is counted as one of the children, which seems unclear to me), let me reassure you that Julia is not mother to these dolls.

ME: So you're the mommy of all the girls?
JULIA: (brightly) No, I'm not the mommy!  They don't HAVE a mommy!

Oh.  Well, that's so much better.  So, maybe it's not actually a slumber party.  Maybe these poor, unfortunate, motherless dolls are sleeping on the hard floor of an orphanage. 

Hang on.  Now I need to clarify this issue so I understand.

ME: So you're NOT the mother?
ME: And they don't have a mommy?
JULIA: No, actually, they DO have a mommy.
ME: But where is their mommy?
JULIA: Uh, she's ALWAYS at work.  She works ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. 

Okay.  Phew.  So the children are not the product of a teenage mother, and they are not orphans.  They're just children of a negligent, workaholic mother who leaves her seven (eight?) kids with a 19-year-old all day and night.  What a cheerful game.  At least they all get to eat pizza and lollipops and ice cream and sleep on the floor together in the same room, right?  Par-TAY!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Wearing a dog mask around the house: not particularly unusual...

Wearing a dog mask while walking around Rosemary Pool complex: significantly more unusual.  Especially when wearing it wrong-side-out...

Madeleine was, in fact, so in-character as she paraded her mask around the pool site that she felt the need to continuously chant: "Arf.  Arf.  Arf and arf.  Arf and arf and arf and arf," in rhythm to her footsteps. 

Julia, too, is totally in character today, though she is no longer embodying the persona of a dog.  In preparation for this afternoon's American Girl workshop, for which I signed her up, she carefully picked out her own outfit that mimics that of one of the dolls in her catalog.  Here she goes, off to the workshop in rain boots, despite the fact that it is currently 80 degrees out with not a cloud in sight.  If the teacher of this workshop wonders why Julia is showing up in galoshes without any hint of impending rain, I'll just have to fill her in: fashion trumps weather-appropriate choices any day, of course.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yo, Yo Baby!

Oh. Wait.  That's not the right Yo Baby.  While it would seem like a logical assumption, upon hearing a young child reference "Yo Baby," that (s)he was referring to the yogurt, in reality, when my children say "Yo Baby," this is what they actually mean:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Zoorassic Park

Yesterday we took a family trip to the Franklin Park Zoo, both to check out their brand new playground:

as well as to experience their "Zoorassic Park" exhibit, which is only up until September, and which we didn't have time for the last time we were at the zoo.  The exhibit is a re-creation of the habitat and dinosaur life of the Jurassic Period, complete with roaring, life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs planted throughout the walking trail:

The following is a slide show summing up our own experience in the Zoorassic Park.  Cue your happy, bubbly, heart-warming family-outing music:

ME: Madeleine, did you like the dinosaurs?
ME: Why not?
MADELEINE: Because it was berry NOT FUN.

All was not lost, however, as we still spent plenty of time looking at non-scary animals, and the girls had a chance to attract just as much attention outside of the Zoorassic Exhibit as they did inside it.  Julia was particularly excited to see the peacock show off his feathers:

"Look, Mama!" she shouted to me from across the way.  "A PEACOCKY!!"  I couldn't help but notice another parent standing near bursting into laughter over Julia's exclamation.

Later on, as we waited to see if the leopard would emerge from his hiding spot in the back of his cage, a zoo employee wandered over and started giving us some facts about this particular leopard.  I asked a question Julia has inquired about, to which I had no definite answer: "We were wondering what caused this kind of leopard to be endangered.  Is it because of hunting, or climate change, or what?" The zookeeper explained the loss of habitat due to the logging industry in this leopard's native area.  I turned to Julia to try and make the answer more kid-accessible.  "Remember, Jules, how I told you about animals losing their homes because of businesses moving in, or people cutting down forests to build there?  That's what is happening to the habitat these leopards live in."  Julia decided to make me look like the most awesome mom on the face of the earth in front of this zoo employee.  "Mama, I only remember about the war with the AFRICAN-AMERICANS that you keep telling me about!" she responded heartily.

Well, at least she didn't call me Quee-Quaw.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Videos Galore

Auntie Shannon recently produced her own "Strawberrah Shortceck" video, and after carefully studying the original Madeleine version, Shannon was able to pull off a pretty authentic replica.  The main inconsistency is the irreconcilable difference in head size.  Auntie Shannon's pea-sized head is simply no match for Madeleine's jumbo pumpkin noggin.  But if you can suspend your disbelief on that front, Auntie Shannon is a pretty spot-on Madeleine:

When not singing their own original compositions, the girls have been obsessed with the Carly Rae Jepsen song "Call Me Maybe."  Because there are definitely NOT ENOUGH You Tube spoofs of this song out there right now, I thought I'd video my girls singing what they can remember of this song.  Here's a Julia/Madeleine rendition of "Call Meh Mehbeh":

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Like, the Best Day Ever

Last night, facing the end of her swim session (including the bump up to Level Two, meaning a new teacher AND new kids in her class), as well as the end of camp, Julia had a massive sobbing melt-down, lamenting over everything from the above-mentioned activities to the fact that she will be starting kindergarten at a new school in the fall with an entirely new set of kids.  My heart broke for my poor daughter as she bawled over what feels like a really, really big deal for a five-year-old.  Despite my assurances that she would only gain more new friends and experiences as things progress, it seemed she just needed some time to cry and get some comfort while she expressed herself.  Thankfully, the chapter of "Ramona Forever" that I read to her at bedtime was enough of a distraction from her woes, until her big-mouthed mother decided to re-open the wound:

ME: (upon finishing the chapter) So, Jules, are you feeling a little bit better now?
JULIA: Well, Mama, I was thinking so much about what was going on in the Ramona chapter that I forgot all about being sad!

This morning, Julia was in more chipper spirits, and managed to have a day jam-packed full of excitement.  Not only did she get to take her Saturday morning trip to the bagel store with Daddy and Madeleine, but we got to take a family grocery-shopping trip, only to discover it was PARTAY CENTRAL at the Trader Joe's.  Apparently they were celebrating their 15th anniversary, doling out free samples in every aisle, handing out plastic leis, and holding a raffle for all customers who wished to enter.  Julia and Madeleine were both ENTHRALLED with their faux-Hawaiian necklaces:

"Mama, I got red, which is SORT OF like PINK!"

And guess who won the raffle and got a free bag of Trader Joe's loot!?!:

As we arrived home to get ready for a fun afternoon at our friend Wyatt's birthday party, Julia joyfully exclaimed, "Mama, this is, like, the BEST DAY EVER!  First, I got to have a chocolate chip bagel for breakfast.  Then we went to Trader Joe's and I got to try TWO FREE SAMPLES, then we got these NECKLACES and STICKERS, and in the car I got to eat some CHOCOLATE POPCORN that you won in your bag, and now we get to go to Wyatt's house and go in the SLIPPERY SLIDE!"

That would be the Slip 'n Slide, down which both kids hurtled their bodies with reckless abandon:

They also got the added bonus face paint, as well as chocolate cake, goody bags, and a take-home helium balloon.  Check out their mermaid faces:

And, as if that was not enough, after the birthday party the girls got to go to free swim at the pool with me, where Julia showed off some of the fancy moves that got her into Level 2 swim lessons in the first place.  She had the whole order planned out, deciding her bob under water would be her "Grand Finale," then changing her mind and opting to open with her bob instead.  Enjoy!: