Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Puke Protection

After Sunday night's barf-fest, which left Ethan and I with about five loads of pukey laundry (including bedsheets, blankets, stuffed animals, and Madeleine's boot, which somehow had vomit pooled inside it), we decided to clear any debris out of the potential war path.  Julia's room was stripped of its toy bins so that the bleaching of dolls and laundry-piles of beanie babies would be furthermore removed from the clean-up equation.  In anticipation of the germs spreading to Madeleine, Ethan opted to cover her bedroom rug and all her toys and books with the canvas tarp we usually lay down when painting walls or ceilings:

View of Madeleine's room from her bed

Thankfully, Julia has not puked since Sunday, and so far (knock on wood), Madeleine has not come down with the bug.  However, just to err on the side of caution, we're leaving her bedroom floor and toys covered with the tarp just in case.  Madeleine is completely unfazed by the new room decor.  She seems to accept the fact that everything is now underneath a canvas tarp as if it were completely run-of-the-mill.  This morning, after I brought down some clothes for her to change into, I realized I had forgotten a fresh pair of underwear.  Julia, who had just come downstairs with her own pile of clothes, was sent back upstairs to quickly grab some underwear out of Madeleine's dresser.

ME: Julia, can you do me a huge favor?  Can you just run upstairs and grab some underwear out of Madeleine's bottom drawer?
JULIA: Okay!  (trotting off)
MADELEINE: (calling after her) Uh, Julia, there's just a BLANKET on the floor that's really a CANDACE.

I wonder if she's going to miss her candace tarp after it a) gets thrown into the washing machine, covered in puke, or b) removed from her room after the threat of stomach-bug-spreading is past.  (Let's all note that I am HEARTILY rooting for option b.)

And thankfully, Julia has been back to school for two days, so she seems to be on the mend.  Poor Madeleine is left home with just her boring old mommy.  I actually think she was happier to have a sick Julia here to yell at and to entertain than to be stuck with a tired grown-up (especially one who keeps getting reprimanded for not being enthusiastic enough about getting up to look at every little thing Madeleine wants me to remark upon.)

Maybe we'll have to resurrect Little People Music School again today to liven up her afternoon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little People Music Class

Today the Little People had music class.  Their classroom is in the oven of the play kitchen.  Here are some snippets of Madeleine's elaborate pretend play:

TEACHER: Today, we have a NEW really principal.
ERIC: Come on, Rapunzel!
RAPUNZEL: Oh, yeah, we have to go!
TEACHER: Today's TIME!  (breaking into song) Once upon a time, I went out in the spring, and all of my children, so they went out, and sitted on our stoop, so we knew it was reeeally warm, and a little colder, was winter, oh, because it was winter, and the winter got in the waaaaarm. (speaking)  So THAT'S why we sing.  (back to singing) Din din din!  That's the end of myyyyy soooong!
MAGGIE: One time, I went out in the spring with my parents.
TEACHER: With your parents?  That's the PRINCIPAL!
MAGGIE: Oh yeah!  My parent the PRINCIPAL!  (breaking into song) And we put all our spring jackets ooooon, and we did it by ourselves, and I have a little girl named Sonya Leeeee, and she's leftover because, oh because, I'm in!  Din din din!  That's the end of myyyyy soooong!"
SARAH: (singing) One time I went out in the winter and we put all of our stuff on, and we said let it go.  Let it go, let it go, let it gooooo!
TEACHER: (reprimanding) Please don't dance on the floor.
SARAH: (cheerfully) Okay.  I won't.  (singing) Din din din, that's the end of myyyyyyyyy soooooooong!
ARIEL: (singing) One time I went out in the spooky Halloween, and we putted all our spooky Halloween costumes on, and we trick-or-treated at a lot of houses!  And I have a little sister that is named Piiiiilot Pauuuula!  And she can fly all over the place!  Like this!  Fly, fly, fly, fly-flyyyyy, fly-flyyyyy, din din, and that's the end of myyyyy soooooong!
TEACHER: Now it's your turn, Rapunzel.
RAPUNZEL: Oh, my turn!  Yay!  I love my turn!  (breaking into song) One time I went out in the spring, and we putted all on our spring jackets, and we putted on our new sneakers, so we went out to play but I knew it was a little cooooold!  So we went in quick, before it starts snowing, from my tallll toooower.  Din din!  And that's the end of myyyyyy soooooong!
TEACHER: Now it's your turn, Eric!
ERIC: My turn?  Oh no, I don't KNOW how to sing!  (breaking into song) One time I went out in the spring and I had to go to the bathroom, and I falled down in the diiiiiiirt, and it was really colder but it was really waaaaarm.  Din din, that's the end of myyyyy soooooooong!

I think Madeleine has a career in teaching in her future.  I mean, does she know how to run a music class or what?

Din din, and that's the end of myyyyyy pooooooooost!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sick Day

After a night of puking all over a) the dining room floor, b) Mommy, c) the bathroom floor and toilet, d) her bed, and e) her bedroom floor, my poor Julia is home sick from school today.  While she has spent most of the morning, thus far, lying on the couch under a fleece blanket, she does have bursts of energy in which she wants to get up and do something.  So far the only sorts of activities she's really able to do are short bits of arts and crafts, followed by a return to the couch to rest, but even in small bits, Julia is able to come up with some really creative projects.  In fact, she even created a new game!

Here is the equipment:

Julia constructed this tube with paper, and even added a bottom by stapling paper to cover the opening in the tube.  Inside this tube, she placed little pieces of paper, all of which were adorned with numbers and pictures. 

JULIA: So, Mama, do you want to play my GAME?
ME: Sure.
JULIA: Okay, so you can read the instructions to figure out the rules of the game.

The instructions

Once I understood the rules of the game, I was ready to play, and began quickly matching up my numbers, alternating turns with Julia.

Ten second later, the game was over.  (And what a riveting game it was.)
JULIA: Well, Mama, I guess it's kind of a SHORT game.

I assured her that a short game was perfect for a sick girl who needs to alternate resting with playing.

She has also started a new book, entitled "Hmmmmm."  It features a conversation between a child and her grandmother:

JULIA: Mom?  Do you know why it's like this?
ME: Why?
JULIA: It's: (brightly) "Grandmother, do you know now?"  (croakily and shakily) "Know what now?"  Because, Mama, it's like, she's OLD.

Meanwhile, Madeleine, missing her play-mate, has no tolerance for Julia's sick status.
MADELEINE: (shrieking) JULIA!  Stop being SICK and come play BARBIES with me!

Thankfully, Madeleine has also provided comic relief for the couch-ridden Julia, performing a conducting/singing concert for all of us:

and designing a mustache out of car seat arm-rests:

MADELEINE: Julia, look!  (singing in a deep voice) I have mah mustache and beard, I have mah mustache and beard!

At least Julia doesn't have to worry about being bored while she's home sick.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Surfer Girl

Julia had Media yesterday, and came home with her non-fiction book.  Surfin' USA here we come!!

Julia and I are learning all about hot-dogging, trimming, catching the soup, and all sorts of other super-cool, surfer-dude facts.  Before long, Julia will be the Queen of the Waaaa-haaaa-haaaa-aves!

On another note, Ethan and I went out to dinner and a concert last night, and when we got home, I did my customary visit to the girls' bedrooms to give them a kiss.  Madeleine stirred when I came in, so I figured I might as well bring her to the potty, which is something Ethan usually does before we go to bed ourselves.  As I put Madeleine upon the potty, she became semi-conscious, engaging me in this riveting conversation:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  It's hard to see with-with-with-with-with-with-
ME: With what, honey?
MADELEINE: With-with-with-with-
ME: What is it?
MADELEINE: With all this GARBAGE on my head.

I don't think she was sleep-talking AT ALL.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Say What?

It's easy to think that Madeleine lives on some alternate plane of reality, especially when she says things like this:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Do you have to WEAR a butterfly costume to wear a butterfly costume?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's a yes.

However, she will occasionally come out with some razor sharp comment that proves to me that she does, indeed, actually pay attention to what's going on around her.  For instance, last night as we snuggled in her bed, we had this discussion:

MADELEINE: (singing a made-up song) I loooove because I'm maaaad, I loooove because I'm maaaad... Mommy?  Does "LOVE" rhyme with "MAD?"
ME: No.  But "love" rhymes with "dove," and "mad" rhymes with "sad."
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  Miss Eleni says that a dove is the HOLY SPIRIT.

Miss Eleni is the girls' Sunday School teacher.  And our church does indeed talk about how the Holy Spirit took the form of a dove after Jesus was baptized.  I have to admit, however, when I hear things like that come out of Madeleine's mouth, I can't help but feel stunned.  The child who just asked me if "love" rhymed with "mad" was also able to explain the significance of the dove in the Christian religion.  Um...what?!?

Or, for another example, as I took pictures of Madeleine getting ready for ballet class yesterday, she was able to teach me a thing or two about ballet, despite the fact that she hadn't seemed to pay the slightest attention during her first class.  (In fact, none of the kids did; the class takes place in the basement of a neighbor's home, and the basement toys proved WAY too distracting for the little 2 and 3 year olds...)

ME: Madeleine, great job with your feet!  You're doing second position! 
(I know NOTHING about ballet.)
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  That's FIRST position.
ME: Oh.  I think it's second position, actually.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  The teacher TOLD US it's called FIRST POSITION.

And at the ballet class that followed this discussion, I learned that, indeed, Madeleine was correct, and that position IS first position.

Now, back to the subject of our kids living in an alternate reality.

Last night, as Ethan gave Julia her good-night hug and kiss, Julia went off on a tangent about Magic (aka Aurora Borealis), her new unicorn beanie baby.  Julia explained that since Magic is her new baby unicorn, Ethan and I are Magic's grandparents.  Ethan, who should have really known better, decided to probe further and ask, "And who's the father?"

Turns out the father is someone who has been featured on this blog some time back, albeit as Madeleine's, not Julia's, previous obsession.


Julia launched into the whole family tree she had concocted for Magic, with Uncle Dave and Aunt Sarah as Godparents, and Madeleine as auntie to her unicorn-bred-of-two-humans little niece.  As the family tree got more and more incestuous, Ethan began to regret his seemingly innocent question as to Magic's paternity.

And, Julia being Julia, she remembers every detail of Magic's ancestry this morning.

JULIA: (brightly popping out of bed when I went in to say good morning) Mommy!  Last night I told Daddy the whole story about Magic!
ME: I heard.
JULIA: (delighted) And...GUESS who I said is Magic's FATHER!
ME: I heard.  Uncle Mike.
JULIA: (giggling with glee)  And you and Daddy are the GRANDPARENTS!
ME: I know.  I heard that too.
JULIA: And Uncle Dave and Aunt Sarah are...the...the...
ME: I know, Daddy told me.  The godparents!
JULIA: Yes!  But Mommy?  I had to whisper "godmother," because I couldn't remember what the BOY god-person is called, so I had to whisper "godmother" to remind myself what the word is.

Maybe she should have just asked Madeleine, who seems to be an expert on all things religious lately. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Queen of the Waves

Today at school, Julia's class learned about non-fiction books, and the fact that such books are important because they teach students about particular subjects of interest.  As part of their unit on non-fiction books, the kindergarteners have been instructed to choose a topic about which they want to learn more.  Tomorrow during Media, the kids will be finding non-fiction books on the topic they chose.  Julia told me about how one of her good friends is going to check out a book about space. 

What did Julia choose, you may wonder?

JULIA: Surfing!!  Because...(bursting into song) "She's the queen of the WAAAAA-HEY-HEY-AAAAVES!" 

Yes.  We have "Barbie in a Mermaid Tale" to thank for Julia's choice of subject.  She is set out to learn all about surfing so she can be JUST LIKE Merliah Summers, the protagonist of the aforementioned Barbie movie.

On another note, Julia has also been learning about Aurora Borealis as part of a science unit, and she could seriously hardly contain her excitement while telling me about it.

JULIA: Mommy?  Today we learned about something called Aurora Borealis, and...(starting to skip along the sidewalk in excitement) we learned that you can see leaping with joy) Maine and VERMONT!!!

I guess that being the child of a Vermonter makes her feel an INSTANT connection with the Aurora Borealis.  She has literally found a way to work it into nearly every conversation we've had today. 

For instance, after work, I took the girls to the toy store, where Julia was able to claim her prize for staying in her bed for seven nights straight:

While trying to come up with a name for her new Beanie Baby, Julia went through several possible options, including - surprise surprise - Aurora Borealis.  I actually think that would have been a cool name for her new unicorn.  Unfortunately, Beanie Babies all come with a name, a fact that Julia remembered after we arrived home from the toy store, so once we checked the name we found out that instead of the cool name Aurora Borealis, the unicorn is stuck with the stupid name Magic.

Julia and Magic

(As you can see, Madeleine also got her own Beanie Baby, a reward for her great job of not pooping in her pants this week.  She has hopefully come to the realization that just because it feels like gas, pushing it out is not always a smart thing to do if you're not sitting on the toilet.)

And right now, as they sit, post-bath, in their jammies on the couch, snuggling their new Beanie Babies, the girls are watching "Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2," so Julia can get a BIG head-start on her Media research tomorrow, all about surfing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Zylie the Mermaid

Yesterday, as I got down and dirty cleaning and organizing the girls' play kitchen, I found a bunch of little toys in the crack between the bottom of the kitchen set and the floor.  Among the treasures I retrieved was a little mermaid figurine that once belonged to Julia and has been hiding under the play stove for so long that I think both kids forgot about her.  Luckily, Madeleine was thrilled with my discovery, and has adopted the mermaid as her own, carrying it around with her all day today.  (Including in the car every time we have to drive somewhere.) 

Madeleine initially named the mermaid Violet, then changed it to Ziolet.  Since then, she has continually forgotten the name she gave her mermaid, relying upon my memory to recharge hers.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  What did I say her name is?
ME: Whose name?
ME: Uh...oh, gosh, I can't remember. 
MADELEINE: But what name did I give her?
ME: Um...let me think...I know you told me...uh...oh, was it Violet?  No, Ziolet, right?
MADELEINE: (thoughtful) Well, I know her REAL name is Auntie Caitlyn, or Shannon, but it's okay if I call her Zylie.

Zylie.  Aka Ziolet.  Aka Auntie Caitlyn.

Zylie has been interacting with some of the Barbie dolls, most often Blair.  The two dolls have some really pleasant conversations like this:

BLAIR: Hey! What are you doing in my life??
ZYLIE: I wanna say hi.  I'm just waving my hand.

Sometimes, Zylie talks to invisible people like Mr. Nobody.

ME: Madeleine, who is Zylie talking to right now?
MADELEINE: Um...she's...talking to...Mr. Nobody!
ME: Oh.  She is?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  Because...Mr. Nobody turned into a MERMAID.

And sometimes Zylie just talks to herself narcisstically:

ZYLIE: (in awe) Oh, my tail is AMAZING!  (singing) Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo...

The doo-doo-doo is, of course, singing.  Like her big sister (and like her mother as a child), Madeleine is prone to impromptu, made-up songs during her pretend play.  Here, Blair and Zylie both sing their hearts out:

Personally, I would have loved it if Zylie's song segued into STRAWBERRAH!  SHORTCECK!  But no such luck.  I guess Zylie ain't GOT IIIIIT.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wobbly Eyes and Crumby Nose

Madeleine's cold is slowly but surely improving, although the congestion is lingering enough to still cause her discomfort.  I have noticed lately that she's frequently squeezing her eyes shut so that she's blinking forcefully, as if trying to clear some debris from her eyes.  I attempted to get to the bottom of what was bothering her, but she has yet to provide a sufficiently coherent answer.

Earlier today:
MADELEINE: (blinking forcefully, repeatedly)
ME: Madeleine?  Are your eyes bothering you?
MADELEINE: (nodding)
ME: What's bothering you about them?

In bed this evening:
MADELEINE: (blinking violently)
ME: Madeleine?  What's bothering you about your eyes?

Later on during the bedtime snuggles:
MADELEINE: (still blinking violently)
ME: Honey?  What is it that's bothering your eyes?
MADELEINE: They're all WOBBLY.  (exasperated)  Remember I already told you that the LAST time?
ME: What do you mean they're all wobbly?
MADELEINE: (groaning in frustration) Agh, now they're getting all DRESSY.
ME: What does that mean?  Dressy?
MADELEINE: Dressy means ALIVE.

Even later on during the bedtime snuggles:
MADELEINE: (blinking so violently that my face, snuggled against hers, kept jolting around)
ME: Madeleine, honey.  Are your eyes WATERY?
ME: Try to just calm down and keep them closed.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  One day at the pool my eyes were all wobbly and dressy and crumby and wobbly and WATERY.

Yeah.  I'm still lost.

It turns out her eyes aren't the only things driving her crazy.  The film of crusted mucus around her nose is a source of aggravation as well, which she also addressed while we snuggled in bed this evening.

MADELEINE: (digging away at her nostrils) Mommy?  There's still some CRUMBS on my nose.
ME: Well, honey, try not to pick at your crumbs.  If you keep picking at them, you'll wind up irritating your nose skin.
MADELEINE: Mama?  WHAT did you say?
ME: I said if you pick at them too much, you're going to irritate your nose.  You'll get dry skin.
MADELEINE: Well, Mama, I'm leaving some on.
ME: Oh.  Okay.
MADELEINE: (reflective) Mama?  I didn't say I'm leaving THEM on, I said I'm leaving SOME on.  Because...(pointing to one nostril) This one is more SKINNY.  And...(pointing to her other nostril) This one is more CRUMBY.

Got it.

And in other Madeleine news, she has really enjoyed having her big sister around for three days straight, given the long MLK-Day weekend.  Julia and Madeleine have had lots of play time together, and while their play still descends into bickering on a regular basis, they have also had plenty of giggles (or sometimes raucous, screaming laughter) and lots of imaginary play fun together.  As they sat coloring at the table together, cracking each other up with goofy nonsense, I reflected on how much Madeleine loves her big sister.

ME: Madeleine, I have a question for you.  (leaning over to whisper in her ear)  Do you just love your sister SO MUCH?
MADELEINE: (looking at me earnestly) Okay, Mama, now I have a question for YOU.  (cupping her hands around my ear and leaning in to whisper to me) Yes I do.

I think that might be the BEST QUESTION EVER.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Icons and Books

After church today, I had a church choir rehearsal, so I brought the girls up to the choir loft with me and set them up with some paper, pencil, pen, and crayons.  Julia must have been inspired by all the icons around us, as she came up with the following drawings of made-up saints:

St. Julia
(JULIA: Mom?  Do you think this looks like the kind of clothes people wore in the olden days?  Like, all colorful and stuff?)

The Thing and Maliee and St. Maliee
Looks like St. Maliee was a martyr saint, given her tearful expression as she balances that big boat (crown?  ice cream sundae?  mountain range?) on her head.

St. Madeleine and St. Bebe.
Love all.
(I think this one is my favorite...)

Madeleine made her own church-inspired contribution during the rehearsal, announcing to me that she needed to go poop, then considerately leaving her clothes on while she went on the pot.  Given that she absolutely cannot even fathom sitting down to poop on the potty at home without stripping herself of all clothing and jewelry, this was definitely a big step for her.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  At HOME, you take off all your clothes, but at CHURCH you DON'T take off all your clothes.  Because...Father the PRIEST doesn't want to see us being NAKED in the BATHROOM.

I am so relieved that, despite all the naked Barbies lounging on their sunroof at home, Madeleine at least has some inkling of when it is and when it isn't appropriate to be in the nude.

When we got home, Julia got back to work on her newest book, "So it's black now."  She seems utterly convinced that once she finishes this book, she's going to give it to the media center at her school for other kids to check out.  She has been talking all day about how she's making a media book.

I thought she was pretending.

I was wrong.

JULIA: Well, Mama, do you think that this CAN be a media book?
ME: Uh...well...I think libraries really only lend out books that are actually published.
JULIA: What do you mean?
ME: Well...usually a book needs to get published before it can be put on the shelves in bookstores or libraries.  A library wouldn't just take the one and only original copy.  Books need to be produced in a publishing house, so that there are lots of copies made, enough for different libraries and bookstores all over the place.
JULIA: (looking momentarily crestfallen) Oh.  (brightening) Well, Mama, could we take this to one of those places?
ME: What place?  A publishing house?
JULIA: Yeah.  Could we bring it there?

Well, at least she is confident in herself.  They may be delusions of grandeur, but it's nice to know that Julia truly believes herself to be, at 6 years old, worthy of publishing a book.  And of making a real movie.  And of recording a real rock music CD.  And of being a fashion model.  And of being an Olympic swimmer.  Dream big, little love!  The sky's the limit!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Coloring Song

What.  Doesn't *your* kid put on her bathing suit and earnestly bellow out made-up songs while coloring princess pictures too?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bedtime Battles

Ethan and I have been trying a new tactic this week to combat Julia's need to get out of bed ten thousand times after we've said good-night to her.  First off, to try and limit the amount of times she needs to get up and pee, we've banned her customary bottle of bedside water from her room.  Furthermore, we decided to set up an incentive to battle her habit of getting out of bed (to pee or for whatever reason), then trotting up to our bedroom to report on what she was doing, then climbing into our bed and chattering away at us despite our repeated commands to go back to bed, then staring at herself in our full-length mirror as she takes one snail-paced baby step after another towards our bedroom door.  Over the weekend, I announced to her that for every night she stays in her room after we say good-night, she'll get a check mark.  Once she has amassed a certain number of checks, we'll take her out shopping to buy a new toy.

For your typical kid, this reward-chart type explanation would suffice.  Not for Julia, however.  Always needing to know every single limit and boundary so she is sure not to offend any of the rules, she needed explicit instructions as to what was and what wasn't okay for her to do after we said good-night.

JULIA: But Mama?  What about if I have to go the the BATHROOM?
ME: Well, you can get up to go to the bathroom.  But you don't need to come up to our bedroom and interrupt our tv show to tell us that you went potty.
JULIA: But, like, if I have to go pee I can get up and go?
ME: If you really have to go and you don't feel like you can hold it, then it's okay to get out of bed to go potty.
JULIA: But what if I can't fall asleep?
ME: Well, you already know this.  If you can't fall asleep, you can always look at books in your bed until you start feeling tired.
JULIA: Well, can I play in my bed?
ME: Well, no, it's bedtime, not playtime, so you shouldn't be bringing toys and stuff into your bed.
JULIA: Well, sometimes I *do* bring toys into my bed when I can't sleep.
ME: Well, you can bring a doll into your bed or something, but it's not time to be doing elaborate play games.
JULIA: Well, can I play with my doll?
ME: You can sleep with it.  But it's really not playtime.  You can do quiet things like look at books while you try and get sleepy.
JULIA: So, I can only come into your room if there's, like, an emergency?
ME: Yes.  Of course.  If there's an emergency you should definitely come get us.  But otherwise, you need to stay in your bed and try to sleep.
JULIA: But what if, like, I fell out of my bed onto my head and, like, my forehead was bleeding.  Then would it be okay for me to come get you?
ME: Yes.  If you get hurt or you're bleeding you can come get us.  But no more coming in to say things like you see something that looks like a moth on your bed and it's really a leaf.
JULIA: Well, what if, like, I think I see a fire?
ME: If there's a fire you can leave your room.
JULIA: Well, what if...

And so forth...

I should just make her a giant poster for her wall with every possible scenario and its proper action, like this:

-Going potty
-Bleeding foreheads
-Bleeding of any kind
-Injuries of any kind
-Throwing up or other sickness

-You see a leaf in your bed
-You think you might see a spider on the ceiling
-You think you heard a noise
-You think there might be a timber-wolf in your closet
-You think there might be a headless horse in your closet
-You think that anything besides clothes might be in your closet
-You can't fall asleep
-You have anecdotes about school you want to tell us
-You're afraid a tiger is going to leap up through your third story window
-You want to say good-night one last time to us
-You want another snuggle
-You can't find one of your ten million stuffed animals you sleep with

At any rate, the first few nights of the new plan seemed to go pretty well, although Ethan and I still heard Julia traipsing down to the bathroom as late as 10pm.  At least she wasn't coming in to interrupt us while we were attempting to spend some time together at night.  However, last night she blew it, failing to receive her check-mark when I found her rummaging through the marker bin down in the dining room at quarter to ten.  It turns out that, although she was staying in her room, she was not exactly making a champion effort to fall asleep.  Instead, she had been writing a book of short stories in one of the blank-paged, bound writing notebooks she received for Christmas.  25 pages worth, all full of her stories.  We had to have yet another discussion to reassess which "quiet activities" in her bed were acceptable and which ones only served to delay her actual falling-asleep time.

This morning, bummed that she didn't earn her check mark, but beaming with pride over her new book, Julia read me every single story inside.  The book shares its title with that of the first short story:

"Wat They The?" by Julia Rowe

I guess I can see her reasoning now for staying up until 10pm.  If you come up with an idea as inspired as wat they the, it's understandable that you'd want to put off sleep until you can get all of your creative genius down on paper.

The second story in the book is a love story, with the sweet title of "And I need love now.":

Although I have to admit, I don't see how the title connects to the storyline.  I guess I'm just not seeing the deeper meaning and symbolism.  Here is page one, which, to a literary dunce like me, has nothing to do with needing love:
"I'm in the snow did you know.  See?"

The final story is Julia's favorite and most comedic, and bears the mysterious title of "So I Am?":

You can tell that Julia was starting to get tired by this point, which should have been an indication that she should go to bed, but she decided to forge on ahead sloppily:

"O be wat o be by wat no I dot Know."
(According to Julia, this picture displays the arms of the two main characters, who are 19 and 8.  The 19-year-old is holding her arms out and shrugging, while the 8-year-old is crossing her arms over her chest.)

Julia waited in utterly delighted suspense to show me the final page of this story:

"Wat wat wat?  the end."
(JULIA: Mama, is that so funny?  I wanted it to be like "WHAAAAAAAT?")

On the back of this final page, she wrote:
"See you lattre."

And, in case that's not enough, she drew the following on the back cover:
(JULIA: And look it.  So you can recycle it.  I made THIS!)

Let's add this to the STAY IN BED column: you want to get markers and a blank journal and stay up until 10pm writing stories in your room.

Tonight, we try again - wish us all luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More Creations

Julia woke me up nice and early this morning to read me the brand new book she wrote, entitled:

"Go and Go and Go Gogo Gogo"

This book was inspired by the movie "Barbie in a Mermaid Tale," which is about Merliah, the half-mermaid champion surfer, who delves under the sea to discover her true mermaid heritage.  Julia's book doesn't quite follow the same plot line, although it does start out in a similar vein:

Pg. 1
"100 Yrers ago Mrlyae is a grl."
JULIA: Wait.  Mom?  If she was a girl 100 years ago, does that mean she's DEAD now?  Like, she was a girl, but now she's just a SOUL?

Pg. 2
"She loved to srfie and she did."
In the movie, she also loves to srfie and she does.  So far, pretty consistent.  (Although the Merliah in the movie definitely lives in the present day, not 100 years ago...)

Pg. 3
"but she loved that she loves to."
This page definitely does very little to advance the plot forward.  But at least now we REALLY REALLY get it that Merliah loves to surf.

Pg. 4
"She haved a mom to."
Also consistent with the movie.  Movie-Merliah, as well, haved a mermaid mom. 

At this point, however, Julia's book version fails to carry out the plot of the movie, and our young author takes the story in another direction:

Pg. 5
"and they see by to me today."
JULIA: Mommy?  So, sometimes when I get TIRED of sounding words out, I just start writing all words that I know how to spell.

Yes, that would explain it.  The End.  HOORAYYY!  What a story!

Madeleine created some artwork in her own rite today, coming home from school with the following picture of our family:

I must point out, however, that the "Mom" was an addition to the picture once we got home from school.  She had only drawn our family and written her own name at school, which was a subject for discussion on our drive home.

ME: Madeleine, I love the picture you made for me!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I just writed my OWN name.  I didn't write YOUR name.
ME: That's okay.  I still know it's for me, because you gave it to me!  You don't have to write my name.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  Is M-M-O how you write YOUR name?
ME: Yes.  M-O-M.  That's right!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  When we get home, I will write your name on it.  (pointing one finger into the air and moving it around, then holding up her palm and swishing it back and forth.)  Mama?  I just WRITED your NAME.  But...then I just ERASED it.

I was so heart-broken that my invisible air-scripted name was erased.  At least she wrote the real thing on my picture when we got home like she promised.

One never quite knows what is in that child's imagination.  Today she announced to me that she's a tadpole.  I don't know, I just don't see it.  She still looks like a human being to me.  What do you think?:

Madeleine the Tadpole.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Madeleine the Mucus-Face

Poor Madeleine has a doozy of a cold, to the point that she can't even breathe, closed-mouthed, through her nose without a gagging/coughing fit, she is speaking with the pinched, tinny voice of major nasal congestion, and she pretty much wears a big ring of dried mucus underneath her nose and around her mouth all day long, despite the many facial wipe-downs I give her.  It is obviously taking a toll on her emotional state as well as her physical, leading to many emotional break-downs over completely inconsequential things.  Including this evening's melt-down, during which I asked her what was wrong and then could not comprehend even one word of the wailing, drooly explanation she bawled at me. 

I remember that when Julia was around Madeleine's age, when she would come down with something, and I'd ask how she was feeling, she would always give me very matter-of-fact responses like, "A little bit rotten," or "Just a little terrible."

Not Madeleine, however.  Ever the optimist, she is not willing to let this cold drag her down.  As we lay snuggling after her bedtime story, and I listened to her labored, raspy mouth-breathing, I decided to check on how she was doing.

ME: Madeleine?  How are you feeling, honey?
MADELEINE: (speaking brightly through her phlegm) Um...really, really GREAT.

A for effort, Madeleine!
I admire her positive attitude, even if she's a big liar liar pants on fire.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another Drawing

Okay, I know I've been cracking a lot of jokes about the phallic images that appear in Julia's drawings, but come on, what am I supposed to do when I find pictures like this lying about?:

ME: So, Julia?  What is this that you drew here?
JULIA: Scissors!

When she's not busy drawing cock-and-balls scissors, Julia is adding to her poetry collection.  Yesterday, she wrote the following:

"Drift upon me my fairy dady.
Drift upon me my fairy momy."

Ethereal, n'est-ce-pas?

Meanwhile, Madeleine has decided that, at least for today, she is a girl.

MADELEINE: (playing with her winter animal figurines) Mommy!  I can't find my penguin!  And he's the KING!  
ME: You can't, huh?
MADELEINE: (wailing) Yeah!  I can't find the KING!
ME: Well, maybe you can be the king.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I can't be the king because I'm a GIRL.  A king is ONLY A BOY and I'm NOT a boy.  I'm just a GIRL.  Girls can only be princesses.

I'm not sure I get it.  She can arbitrarily decide that she's a boy when we're driving in the car, but she absolutely cannot call upon her powers of imagination to pretend she's a boy when she's in need of a king?  

Aye yie yie.  Between Julia's penis drawings, all the naked Barbies, and Madeleine's vacillations between whether or not she has a worm, I honestly have no idea what goes through these kids' heads.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Jolly Day

Even though they were lamenting the fact that the snow was melting last week, the girls are totally on board with today's spring-like temperatures.  As we headed out to walk Julia to school this afternoon, the girls were buoyant with delight, and for once I didn't have to coax Julia out of her daydreamy snail's pace.  Skipping gaily down the sidewalk, she managed to get a huge lead on us, then turned to skip back towards us, calling out gleefully, "Mommy, do I look like I'm feeling JOLLY?"

The jolly skipper set off once again, pausing occasionally to wait for us when we got behind, or to call back exclamations of delight like, "Well, it really is a JOLLY, JOLLY day!"  Best of all was when we caught up with another kindergarten classmate, who was also walking to school, giving Julia a skipping buddy for the final leg of the journey. 

On our way home, after dropping off Julia, Madeleine and I chatted about all sorts of things, including Madeleine's recurring gender confusion.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  I'm a BOY.
ME: Oh.
MADELEINE: I'm a boy.  Did you hear me Mommy?  I said I'm a BOY-GIRL.

This has been her habitual theme lately, purportedly as a means of getting a laugh.  She made a similar announcement about being a boy during a recent car-ride, which left Julia in the position of trying to point out the anatomical impossibility of the above statement.

JULIA: Mommy!  Madeleine just said she's a BOY!
MADELEINE: (goofily) Yeah, I'm a BOY, Julia!
JULIA: Madeleine, you're a girl.
JULIA: Okay, you not have a VAGINA?
MADELEINE: Nope.  I don't have a vagina.  I have a PENIS.
JULIA: Well, Mommy, I was gonna ask her if she has that, but I was trying not to do POTTY TALK.
MADELEINE: Mommy, I have a penis and Julia can say, "Nice WORM, Madeleine!"

Maybe she needs to spend a little more time studying those naked Barbies to fully embrace her own vagina.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Julia's Latest

Julia has been churning out new books like there's no tomorrow, producing a pile of novels over the past few days. 

Keep your eyes peeled at your local bookstore for the latest in Julia Rowe short fiction, including the following newly released, creatively titled works:

The Candy Cane Girl

Bonus feature: Look inside!  Here's a sneak peak at the first page:
"Did you know Christmas used to be all about candy cane."
Well, did you??  Seriously, if that doesn't leave you riveted and yearning to know more, then I don't know what will.

Other titles newly out by Julia Rowe:

Tella and the Tailing Tooth Bunny


Doctor Dudley and the Mysterious Wolves

Oooh!  A mystery!  How can I leave you hanging without at least a look inside:
"I'm Doctor Dudley.  I no something."
What?  What does he know?  Here's something *I* didn't know until reading this book.  Dr. Dudley is apparently not a human doctor, but a cat.  Or a bat?  Hard to tell.  Something with big black ears.

Okay, okay, I don't want to give the whole mystery away, but I think you deserve to see a little more.  Here's an excerpt from the middle of the book:

"But that is not all that wolve is got me worried."
Yikes.  That's not all?  What else is he worried about?  Is it the fact that the wolf has a penis growing out of the side of his face??

In case you're worried that this story has an unhappy ending, I assure you that things all work out in the long run.  As you can see from the penultimate page:
"Is big is small have what's bad and good love all love."
Awwww!  My heart just melted!  What a sweet and not at all confusing final message.  I won't reveal the last page to you so that I don't spoil the ending - you'll have to wait and pick the book up yourself for that.

Julia has not only created books, but she also produced this brand new game, entitled:
In order to play Rock, one must simply identify the things that are in the picture surrounding the rock.  Like: "scissors."  Or: "hair straightener."  Or: "square penis and testicles."  You know.  It's a cut-throat, suspense-by-the-minute type of game.

Finally, let us now turn our attention to the Barbie dollhouse, where Witcha is relaxing, letting it all hang out:

I guess it really is true that witches can't resist a full moon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snow the Snowman

Tonight, while we  were eating dinner, Julia began interviewing Madeleine on her newest art project from school:

JULIA: So, Madeleine, tell me about your snowman.  Does he have a name?
MADELEINE: His name is SNOW the Snowman!
JULIA: Snow the snowman?  Is that like Poly the Polar Bear?
MADELEINE: (delighted) YEAH!  He's SNOW the Snowman!  And... he has a mouth, and she's a GIRL.  And he has a MOUTH, but he has NO lipstick.  Because, he doesn't have lipstick because he's just a SNOWMAN.  And he's a GIRL snowman.  Aww, why does mine have no SNOW falling out of the sky?  Maybe the TAPE is on it.  HEY!  Maybe the TAPE can be the SNOW falling out of it!  And...he has a MOUTH.

Clearly the fact that Snow the Snow(wo)man has a mouth is a big deal, since Madeleine keeps mentioning it.  In fact, Madeleine's preschool teacher took me aside to show me the mouth that Madeleine made, a remarkable detail, in the teacher's eyes, as it was perfectly symmetrical, and completely of Madeleine's own design and doing, a detail she added of her own accord.

ME: He has a mouth, huh?  Did some of the snowmen NOT have a mouth?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Some of the snowman DON'T have a mouth.
ME: What made you want to make a mouth?
ME: About his face, huh?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  All of the snowmen didn't have a MOUTH, only mine!  Hey, Mama!  I just CLICKED my tongue!  To NOT say Giddy-Up!

Well, in case I didn't already agree with Madeleine's teacher about what a genius she is, the above conversation definitely sealed the deal for me.

Snow the Snowman.  He has a mouth.  And he's a girl!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Madeleine and I have been working on the concept of "opposites" lately, ever since I discovered that she doesn't actually know what an opposite is.

(MADELEINE: Mommy!  The Cat in Hat said "opposites!"
ME: Yeah!  Opposites!  Do you know what opposites are?
ME: So, what's the opposite of "big?"
MADELEINE: Uh...the opposite of "big" is "B!")

Once she became more fully aware of what the word "opposite" actually means, after hearing some examples, she was able to adequately identify the opposite of whatever word I threw at her.

Today, on our car ride home from school, while she talked all about her polar bear art project, I decided to see if she remembered our recent discussion of opposites.

MADELEINE: Oh, my polar bear is nice and toasty and HOT in this car!
ME: So, Madeleine, what's the opposite of "hot?"
MADELEINE: HOT.  H-h-h- uh, "H!"
ME: The opposite of "hot" is "cold."  The opposite of "big" is "small."  So...what is the opposite of "high?"
ME: Hooray!  Great job!  What is the opposite of "sleeping?"
ME: YES!  You got it!  How about the opposite of "happy?"
ME: Yeah!  Good job!

I guess I made the opposites game seem too fun, because before I know it, Madeleine wanted to quiz ME on opposites.

MADELEINE: Mom.  So.  What's the opposite of "house?"
ME:, huh?  Uh...apartment building?
MADELEINE: (with enthusiasm) YES!  Great JOB!  What's the opposite of...CAR?
ME: Of car?  Um...hmmm...uh, bike?
MADELEINE: YAY!  You got it!  Mom.  What's the opposite of TREE?

So apparently our next step will be learning which things have tangible opposites and which do not.  What is the opposite of tree?  Rock?  Anyone have any idea??

Once we got home, Madeleine forgot all about opposites because she was SO excited over her new buddy, Poly the Polar Bear, aka the aforementioned polar bear art project.

MADELEINE: Hooray!  Now I'm really happy and safe with my DEAR FRIEND Poly the Polar Bear.

And on the subject of art projects, can we all take a moment to appreciate this drawing I found in Julia's pile of artwork recently?

Don't mess with the Fog Prince, man, or the Statue of Liberty and/or the ogre holding a phallic-shaped club (or possibly flipping us the bird) are COMING for you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Periwinkle and the Earth

This morning, when I went into Madeleine's room, she gave me a brilliant smile from her bed, then began telling me all about the Periwinkle doll she received from Santa's sack.  Periwinkle, for those not in the Disney Fairy know, is Tinkerbell's long-lost sister in the movie "The Secret of the Wings."  Madeleine, who received a Tinkerbell doll for Christmas, has since put Periwinkle on her wish list for next Christmas.  Apparently she dreamed that she received her wish come true, because she was utterly convinced this morning that Santa had delivered.

MADELEINE: (in wonderment) Mommy!  I knew that Santa was gonna bring me Periwinkle from his BIG SACK!  Mommy, I'm SO HAPPY that I got my Peri doll!

At this point I thought she was just pretending, so I played along, but when we got downstairs, I became aware of the fact that Madeleine truly thought she had received a Peri doll.

MADELEINE: (looking desperately around the living room, then running to me with wide, teary eyes) Mama?  Where's PERI?  I can't FIND her!

As I ushered her into the bathroom to go potty and brush her teeth, I tried to explain to her that she must have dreamed up her Peri doll.  Already annoyed over the loss of her dream come true, Madeleine took MAJOR issue with the fact that Ethan was in the shower while she tried to use the bathroom.

MADELEINE: (exasperated) Mama?  Can Daddy just GET OUT of the SHOWER, because it's TOO LOUD in here!

Once Ethan finished his shower, Madeleine was much more agreeable, even offering her inappropriate but tried-and-true comment of "Nice WORM, Daddy."

It turns out that the loudness of the shower is not the only thing to aggravate Madeleine today.  She simply had no tolerance for the fact that the warmer temps are causing the snow around town to slowly melt.  On our drive home from dropping Julia at school, Madeleine decided to air her grievances about the sun:

MADELEINE: Mama?  Can the sun TURN AWAY from the earth so the snow will NOT MELT?
ME: Well, honey, the problem is: the sun doesn't turn away from the earth, it's the earth that turns away from the sun.  So at night time, our part of earth is turned away from the sun, and that's why it gets dark.  And that's why it gets colder too, and we have frost on the car the next morning.
MADELEINE: Well Mama?  What is the EARTH?
ME: (gesturing around us) THIS is the earth.  We live on earth.  All the land and everything around us is earth.  We live on a big round planet that circles around the sun in space.
MADELEINE: Well Mama?  The Earth doesn't SPIN.
ME: Actually, it does spin.  It spins around while it's circling the sun.
MADELEINE: Well Mama?  The Earth doesn't spin in LIFE.
ME: Yes, it does.  It really does spin in real life.  It's just that it spins so slowly that we can't feel it.  I can't feel the Earth spinning.  Can you?
MADELEINE: No.  We can't feel the spinning!  Well Mama?  The Earth can't touch HOUSES. doesn't have ARMS.

She's totally right.  The Earth definitely can't touch houses.  Our house is floating around right above the ground.  Isn't yours?

And finally, back to the subject of inappropriate but tried-and-true: these Barbies are getting more and more "Girls Gone Wild" by the day.
Naked pig pile!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Movie in the Works

As it is with almost every idea that gets into her head, Julia is now whole-heartedly invested in her idea of making a movie.  In fact, she spent a good chunk of time yesterday afternoon doing prep work.  What I thought was just simple coloring turned out to be actual character sketches.  Julia presented me with her three characters:

After I heaped praise upon her artwork, she held up the girl in the top image (whose name is Matilda, by the way) and asked me, "But Mom?  Do I have to, like, hold this picture right up to the camera so that you can't see, like, my arm, or see that I'm holding on to it?"

I had been unaware that this was meant to be a cartoon.  Julia looked crest-fallen when I explained that, although we could use her drawings for the film, in order to make cartoons actually move, nowadays design is all done on computers. 

JULIA: Well, then Mom, what CAN we do?
ME: Well, I thought you were going to use real people in your movie.
JULIA: (grinning self-consciously) Well...CAN I do that?
ME: Sure.  That's what I figured you were going to do. 
JULIA: But, like, who else can be in the movie besides me?
ME: Well, you and Madeleine can be in it.  And hey, maybe next time we have a play-date with Nate and Anja, I can film them too.

Julia took a moment to chew this over, then asked contemplatively, "But, like, HOW will everybody know the right DAY to come over?"

Oh.  Okay.  So she wants a legit movie shooting schedule.

It wasn't until later on in the evening that I saw how seriously she was taking this whole idea.  I came across her cast list in her notebook:

It appears that for the names whose spellings she did not know, she listed only the starting consonants or letters.  Aunties Shannon and Caitlyn, it's possible that you are on this list...

Not only did she put together her cast, but Julia has also made tickets AND a credit card for us to use as admittance to the film's premiere:

What can I say besides Julia most definitely takes after her old mother?  My first home movie, which is basically a re-enactment of "Pollyanna" with some potty talk and impromptu, completely irrelevant songs fit into it, was shot when I was also six years old.  I remember all too well how desperately I wanted to poke holes in a piece of black construction paper and write "HBO" on it so it would look like the opening logo on an HBO movie.  And just like Julia with her Fresh Beat Band songs, I stood on the mantle of my family's fireplace and bellowed out a completely made-up-on-the-spot song with these stunning lyrics: "I know what I'm doin' with a kite, I know what I'm doin' with a kite, you don't have to tell me!  You don't have to tell me!  You doooooon't have to teeeeeellllll meeeee!"  Clearly, we can see where Julia gets her creative genius from.

I do have to admit, however, that Julia's musical compositions are way catchier than mine were.  I never came up with anything on the scale of "What Kind of Path Do You Take?  Usually Straight," or "I Have Bangs, Can't You See?"  I mean, I had bangs as a kid and everything, and I knew what I was doing with a kite, but clearly my creative talents were inferior to those of my progeny.  And that's exactly how it should be.