Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Fun

After a wild and crazy sledding adventure yesterday afternoon,:

the Rowe family was ready to brave the elements again today, heading out on foot to attend the various "New Years Needham" activities around town. 

First stop was the town library, which was host to a variety of entertainment, including the story-telling we attended.  The kids were captivated as they sat and listened to each story, and Julia was blown away by the fact that the story-teller made references to things that Julia herself knows about.  In response to each thing mentioned, Julia would turn her head, like a whip, to gaze at me in delighted astonishment.  I had to stay on my feet in order to be aware of the significance of every single astonished look.

Among the many things Julia was excited/astonished about: the storyteller's announcement that her next story was a Native American folk tale (Julia did an extensive unit on Native American culture in school this fall), the fact that said Native American tale comes from a tribe that was native to New Hampshire and Vermont (we went to New Hampshire on vacation!  And Daddy grew up in Vermont!!), the matter of the main character in the Native American story taking off his moccasin (Julia made a moccasin out of construction paper at school!), and the fact that the main character in the last story was a girl named Beatrice (Beatrice Quimby!!  From the Ramona books!!)

Madeleine had a different take-away from the whole experience.  After the three tales had been told, the storyteller explained that the final story (about Beatrice) was written by the storyteller herself, inspired by a childhood memory of a squirrel which had fallen through the chimney of her house, caught its tail on fire, and extinguished its tail on the snow outside the house. 

ME: Madeleine, which story was YOUR favorite one?
MADELEINE: Um...when the mouse put his tail in the SNOW to get the FIRE out.

Is she with the program or what??

Second stop was the gymnasium of one of the private schools in town, at which we got to see a really amazing puppet show put on by Tanglewood Marionettes:

Madeleine was thoroughly delighted by the puppet show.  She couldn't control her exclamations of delight about the various happenings throughout the show, starting with the appearance of a magical, sparkly-finned fish.

ME: (whispering) That looks kind of like the Rainbow Fish, huh?
FISH: I am a creature of the sea...
MADELEINE: (turning to me in glee) Mommy!  She's a CREATURE Rainbow fish!

Later on in the puppet show, we viewers got a glimpse of the Dragon Castle, outside of which two Chinese princesses were giggling and comparing ball gowns for the upcoming party that would only occur if the Dragon King came out of isolation.

The key word Madeleine zeroed in on was princesses.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  PRINCESSES!  (pointing to one Chinese marionette) That's JASMINE!  (pointing to the other Chinese marionette) And that one's ARIEL!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the show, for both girls, was when the dragon came out into the audience and sprayed a spritz of water into every row of seats:

Madeleine simply could not contain herself.
"MOMMY!" she squealed, hopping up and down joyously.  "The dragon was my favorite puppet AT ALL!"

Overall, the show was a hit with both kids, and a nice respite from the bitter cold outside, though afterwards we threw ourselves right back into it in order to ride the train at Memorial Park:

I think this may be the first year that Julia realized that riding a kiddie train around a parking lot is not *all* that exciting.

JULIA: Mom?  Why doesn't the train even GO very fast?

Because, Julia.  As I said above.  It's a kiddie train.  In a parking lot.

Our final stop was the marshmallow campfire sing-along in the Freemason Hall. Before the campfire started, the kids were encouraged to dance:

Afterwards, they all sat around the Christmas-light "campfire" with their marshmallows-on-a-stick.  Half of the kids ate their marshmallows right away.  The other half slowly sucked on theirs so that their faces were covered in goo.  Julia, however, decided to play it safe and wait until given CLEAR instructions from the man leading the sing-along before eating hers.  Even when I whispered to her that it was okay to eat it, she was not willing to give into temptation.  "The teacher didn't TELL us we can!" she retorted.

Notice that Madeleine's is all gone already:

On our walk home after all the fun events, Julia fell into her lollygagging reverie, letting Daddy and Madeleine get WAAAAY ahead of us.  I was miserably cold, and encouraged Julia to hurry along because I was so chilly, to which she responded, "Mommy?  Is it okay that I don't feel sad that you're so freezing?"


We are now about to head out to our traditional New Years Eve dinner at one of our favorite family-friendly restaurants.  Wishing all of you a safe and happy  New Years Eve!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bedtime Chatter

Bedtime this evening was full of random Madeleine-isms, beginning with her assigning me a brand new nickname.


After I read her two bedtime stories and we lay cuddling in her bed, she had lots to chatter about on the subject of Santa Claus.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  But why does Julia's Little People Santa Claus say "Ho, ho, ho?"
ME: Why?  Why do you think?
MADELEINE: Because I want him to.
ME: Well, isn't that what Santa says?
MADELEINE: (silent, contemplative)  But...Santa Claus isn't a PIRATE.

(Random much??)

ME: He's not.  That's true.
MADELEINE: So...why does he say "Ho ho ho?"

(Aha.  I get it.)

ME: Pirates say "YO Ho Ho."  Not "Ho ho ho."
MADELEINE: No.  Pirates say "Ho ho ho."  Or maybe they say "OH oh oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse opened sleigh."

(Okay, I *thought* I got it, but now I'm not so sure.)

ME: Oh.  They do, huh?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  But...Mom?  That song SURE is a SNOW SONG!

Apparently the Santa Claus musings were not over, because after a few moments of laying beside me silently, Madeleine suddenly piped up with more.

MADELEINE: Mom?  I look like I'm SANTA CLAUS.
ME: You do?  What makes you look like Santa Claus?
MADELEINE: red white things, purple things.
ME: You look like Santa because of your red things and your white things and your purple things?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And my big, big sack with all the RAINBOW toys inside.

Well, if that isn't the most convincing argument for looking like Santa Claus, I'm not sure what is.

Take a look for yourself: Madeleine and Santa side by side.  Can you even tell who is who?? 

Well, until next time, this is Fart-Bark signing off...

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Loot

Julia and Madeleine are having a ball with all their new toys.  So much so that they don't even want to cooperate when it's time to leave the house for things like doctor check-ups and birthday parties, because they're so invested in their new playthings.

Julia has ICKMEDIACKLY gotten to work in her new blank-paged, covered books, debuting this fresh piece of fiction yesterday:

Santu in the North Pole by Julia Rowe.

"Santu went to the North Pole."
Why does Santu look so bummed out?  Isn't he supposed to be jolly?  Poor, sad Santu.

"Santu was rounding up his reindeer right now."
On Dashu!  On Dancu!  On Prancu!  On Vixu!"

Oh, good.  Santu is looking much happier now.  Maybe it's because his biped reindeer who is standing up and waving cheered him up.

"But wen the clock struck teenn."
What??  What happened wen the clock struck teenn??

Oh boy.  Santu and his reindeer are looking pretty distressed that it's teenn o' clock... let's see if we get to find out why...

"It was time to go to bed now."  Aha, I see.  Off to bed at the stroke of teenn.

Good-night, Santu.  That's an awfully early bedtime for a guy who is supposed to have time to deliver presents all over the world.  Why does Santu need to go to bed at teenn?

Also, why are the Barbie dolls always naked??:

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Yesterday, Auntie Shannon cut both my and Julia's hair:

While Madeleine seemed to easily recognize her sister, post-haircut, she was apparently flummoxed by my transformation.  Coming over to me and shyly petting my arm, she then looked up at me and asked me, "What's your name?"

I mean, I know I look a lot like my sisters and everything, but I never thought my own kid wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Mommy and her aunties.  If I ever need to quickly change my identity, I now know that Shannon is the go-to person for my appearance-altering haircut.

Madeleine was full of all kinds of gems yesterday.  As I put her on the potty in the morning after she woke up, she announced to me, "Mommy, one time my poopies clogged the toilet and Daddy had to SMASH them down with the SMASHER I don't KNOW what it's called."

Luckily, her contribution to the toilet yesterday morning was just a stream of pee that did NOT need to be smashed down with the smasher.

Today we are back at home after a very brief, whirlwind trip to Yiayia's house in CT.  As I gaze outside at the deluge soaking the streets, I am reeeeeally thankful for all the brand new toys all over our house, promising to keep the house-bound kids entertained today.  Hope you readers are all warm and cozy wherever you are today as well!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is here, at long last!

Despite not getting to bed until after nine last night, the girls were up bright and early this morning, eager to see if Santa came.  (In fact, I should say they were up dark and early...note that it's still dim out the windows...)

Santa did not disappoint, providing exciting gifts like an American Girl doll and a ginormous Barbie dollhouse:

Nor did Julia disappoint.  After all her hard work toiling away to make presents for her whole family, she was finally able to present her unique, hand-made gifts to all of us. 

I couldn't wait to open this one and see what it was:

Any guesses?  Hold your breath!  It turned out to be:
An ornament!  TA-DAAAA!

I also got this sweet little love note:

But NOTHING beats the gift Julia gave Ethan:

We do love the movie "Brave."  So what better gift than a piece of paper that says "Barve Barve."  Not just one Barve - TWO of them!  And three hearts! 

Madeleine received a slew of gifts from Julia as well, including this apple counting book:

 (Either she got tired of drawing apples here, or she decided that Madeleine would follow her example and figure out to draw three apples here.)

I am certainly most touched by Julia's love and care in putting together gifts for all of us.  The true Christmas spirit is evident in her gift-giving and handiwork.  Hoping all of you who are celebrating today have a wonderful, peaceful and loving holiday.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Greetings

Merry Christmas from two little angels!:

(Walking down the church aisle was about as far as Madeleine made it.  Even angels get overtired and overwhelmed by an audience sometimes.  I got to spend the Christmas pageant up on stage with the kids, with a melting-down angel burying her face into my chest, but hey, it could have been worse.)

And Joy to the World from Julia:

As you can see, Madeleine opted not to sing; however, that didn't stop her from bellowing out all three verses of "Joy to the World" in the car on the way home when the song came on the radio.  In fact, she even encouraged Julia to join along.

MADELEINE: Julia!  Sing Joy to the World with me!
JULIA: I don't feel like it, Madeleine.  I already sang it at church.
MADELEINE: But Julia!  Sing with me!  This is my FAVORITE song!
ME: I'll sing it with you, Madeleine.
MADELEINE: Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeeeat-
JULIA: (breaking into a coughing fit)
MADELEINE: (in wonderment)  Julia!  You sang "Joy to the World" with me!  Your COUGH sang it!

Madeleine also bellowed out a few lines from "Deck the Halls" during the car ride home, but ultimately conked out in her carseat, making bedtime easy for at least one child.

One down, one to go!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Night-time Visitor and the Church Pageant

My day started bright and early today, with Julia pattering into my room around 4am with a complaint about her temporary bed-mate (the girls were both together in Julia's room to allow Auntie Shannon and Blake the use of Madeleine's room.) 

JULIA: Mommy?  Madeleine is trying to take ALL the stuffed animals that are MINE, and I keep telling her those are NOT her toys, but she's still not giving them back.

In I went, like the police, to sort out this issue of stolen property.  Since both girls were sleeping with five stuffed animal friends apiece (Julia: Kitty, Other Kitty, Bear-Bear, Fleecia, and Puppy Doggy; Madeleine: Cowie, Kitty, My Own Bear-Bear, Puddles, and Pillow-Pet Bear), I can understand why they felt like they needed to keep strict rations on their sleep-time companions.

Madeleine, who was sobbing because Julia left the room to go get me, could only be consoled by laying on my chest and crying into my shoulder.  Julia was happy as soon as she got her stuffed animal friends in order, and as I attempted to sneak my way back to my own room, I slid Madeleine off of my person and onto her pillow.  I thought that if I stayed in bed next to both girls for a few more minutes, they'd lull back into sleep and I could make my escape.

Madeleine found that to be unacceptable.

MADELEINE: (urgently) Mommy!  Can you do that the OTHER way?
ME: Can I do what?
MADELEINE: Can you do that the OTHER way?
ME: Do what the other way?
MADELEINE: (verge of tears) I want you to do that the OTHER way!
ME: What, you mean lay you on top of me to snuggle you?
MADELEINE: (visibly relieved) Yeah!  Because it's CUTER that way.
ME: Okay.  (hoisting her up to snuggle on top of me.)
MADELEINE: (assured) Yeah.  This way is CUTER.

Luckfully, I finally got out of there and back to sleep in my bed, without any further interruptions from the girls.  And a good thing, too, as we had a busy morning, heading off to church, followed by a Christmas pageant rehearsal after the service.  Auntie Shannon, Blake and I got to watch the chaos that ensued when trying to get a herd of little kids to figure out what to do and when. 

My little angels

The job of the five angels is to make music after Jesus is born, and Julia held up her end beautifully, playing a solo verse of "Joy to the World" on the piano before joining the other kids in singing the lyrics afterwards:

Madeleine contributed to the music in her own way, opting to twirl around and sing "Away in a Manger," complete with the hand gestures she learned at nursery school, despite the fact that the song is not part of the pageant and she was singing it while other people were reciting their lines.  However, when it came time for all the kids to sing "Joy to the World," Madeleine preferred to march to the beat of her own drum and refuse to sing along, regardless of her confident solo rendition of "Away in a Manger" minutes earlier.

After we returned home from church and had lunch, Julia was heartbroken to learn that Auntie Shannon and Blake were leaving shortly for a bus to their respective hometowns.  It was truly the crushing of all hope in Julia's world.  Among the hysterical laments she wailed out while sobbing in Auntie Shannon's arms were "None of my dreams will EVER come true!"  and "Now I can't EVER DO ANYTHIIIIIING!"

I felt sympathy for my poor Julia, so excited for Christmas, and so unsuspecting that our visitors would not be staying until at least Christmas Eve.

ME: Julia, honey, are you feeling like you wish Auntie Shannon and Blake could stay for one more night?
JULIA: (bursting into fresh tears of passionate anguish) FOREEEEEEVEEEEEERRRRRR!!!

Sheesh.  I guess none of her dreams WILL ever come true, if her expectations are that absolute.

At any rate, I think the impending arrival of Christmas gifts might be able to lift her spirits a bit, or at least give her one other reason for being awake in the middle of the night for the next few evenings...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Drawings and Ducks

Madeleine was hard at work illustrating a book written by Auntie Shannon today, producing the first ever author/illustrator collaboration in the Rowe household. 

Don't worry.  Madeleine most definitely did not sell out, not even to please the author, who wrote a cheery story entitled "Lila's Cold Christmas."  Madeleine stayed true to her artistic personality, creating such illustrations as this bloodied snowman:

And if that's not creepy enough, she also created the following picture, with the encouraging label "Mom":

I'm not sure which one is supposed to be me and which one is immao.  I'm also not sure which one I would rather be, the floating ghoul head or the eerily three-eyed, dot-mouthed, claw-handed-and-footed person with a tail.

In other news, Madeleine acquired a brand new toy yesterday, a result of our trip to the toy store to buy a present for Julia's friend's upcoming birthday party.  Madeleine, heart-broken that she had nothing to hold in the car (since Julia had a freak-out in the middle of the store when Madeleine announced her intention to hold the wrapped present during the car-ride home), was desperate to have something of her own to hang on to.  My solution was to allow her to buy a $2 rubber duckie for our tub, since our old rubber duckie (known as Mrs. Duck) got so mildewed that I had to toss her out.

Little did I know what a hit the new duckie (known as Duckie) would be.  In fact, I don't think Madeleine has parted from her new friend since we bought it.  As you can see, Duckie is present in almost every picture that features Madeleine.  It's like a fun "I Spy" game - see if you can spot the duck:

Madeleine is so loath to part from Duckie that they had to go TOGETHER into the bathroom while Madeleine disrobed and did her poopies on the potty today.  When she was finally ready for me to come in and help her wipe, she announced to me cheerfully, "Mom, I've just been hanging out here with DUCKIE!"

(Apparently hanging out with Duckie means decorating his beak with elastics from the hairstyle bag):

Madeleine's new BFF.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Deed Fiish

Just when I thought Julia's home-made books couldn't get any weirder, she totally proved me wrong. 

Last night, she came up with a brand new masterpiece, entitled "Deed Fiish" (I would have spelled it Deed Feesh, myself, based on how she pronounces it, but hey, she's the author.)  According to Julia, "Deed Fiish" is the story about a dead fish, but the person who is saying "Dead Fish" has an accent.

In an ironic twist, the name of the deed fiish is Joy, and I've gotta say, for a deed fiish, she's really pretty active, and manages to float herself along upright most of the time. 

Here is how the story unfolds:

"Deed fiish" by Julia Rowe.

"Joy was a fish."
(She's looking pretty chipper for a deed fiish, wouldn't you say?)

"She was a medium fish yay."
(Yay indeed.  I mean, I know I would pretty excited if I was a medium fish.)

"But there was a porebe withe Joy."
(What we need now is for Madeleine to announce, 'That's a BIG porebe!')

"Jeiey and Daevn fand Joy."
(Apparently Jeiey and Daevn, whose names are actually pronounced Jerry and Daven, are mermaids.  Joy is looking pretty happy that they found her, despite her big porebe.)

"So she destse as a wumie."
(I'm sure you can all read this clearly.  But *just in case* you can't, I will translate: "So she dressed as a woman.")

"She fie brste."
(Again, totally unnecessary translation: "She felt embarrassed."  I thought maybe this is the part where she dees, but I guess she's just brste.)

"Thene Joy tolde the trtheie."
(I'm not entirely sure what truth Joy tolde.  That she's really a fish?  That she loves to cross-dress as a woman?  That she's actually a deed fiish masquerading as a living one?  The story never quite resolves what trtheie Joy told, but that's part of the mastery of Julia's writing.  She leaves us all free to interpret the ending as we wish.  Wow.  WHAT. A. STORY.)

Joy the deed fiish has become such a popular character that Julia recently started an entirely new book centered around Joy.

Here is the incomplete "Elvs Chrimstmat and Santa Claus," still a work-in-progress:

"Joy nedned a frende fro Christmas."
(Aw.  Poor, sad, deed Joy.)

"Jeiry sickgjusted elvs."
(I have to admit I had no idea what this was supposed to say until Julia read it to me.  "Jerry suggested elves.")

"Daevn sickgusted snowmen."
(Daevn's sickgustion might be a little bit better, since snowmen are at least made of water so maybe Joy can swim around in the melted snow.  Then again, she's deed, so I guess it doesn't matter if she's in the water or not.)

"Thene it was Christmas."

And what THENE?!?  And there's no picture?!?  I can't I have to wait until Julia gets home from school to find out whether or not Joy finds a frende fro Christmas!  Stay tuned, folks, and I'll fill you in when the story gets resolved. 

Until thene...