Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back to the Grind

Yesterday, while Madeleine was laying on her tummy on the dining room floor, coloring in her coloring book, she inquired, "Mom?  When are we going BACK to our hotel?"

All that talk about our red house and now she wants to be back at the hotel?!

ME: We're not, honey.  We're home now.
MADELEINE: But why are we NOT going back to our hotel?
ME: Because.  We're all done at the hotel.  Vacation is over.
MADELEINE: But when are we going on vacation AGAIN?

Okay.  I see now.  When she claimed she was feeling tired of vacation, she was just looking for a one or two day reprieve, during which she could go back to our red house and play with some of the toys she was missing, then hop on back over to the hotel.

Seeing as she's only 3.5, it's understandable that she doesn't really comprehend the distance between Massachusetts and Georgia, let alone the idea that people can't easily go back and forth between the two places in any given day.  It also explains why she "saw" her preschool teacher at the gas station in Atlanta ("Mom!  I see Mrs. G walking all around over there!"), and why she was convinced that a little boy at Julia's school playground yesterday was her cousin.  ("Mom!  Jack's here!  See - right over there!  Playing on the swing!")

She was definitely bummed to learn that we're not heading back on vacation any time in the near future.  I guess she wants to go back to the hotel because she's just getting TIRED of our red house.

Julia, on the other hand, is a bit more unequivocal in her desire to remain in Georgia:
"I just want to go back to Atlantaaaaaaaa!  I just want to be with my WHOLE FAMILY all together!  I want to be with ALL THE PEOPLE THAT I LOOOOOVE!"

That was yesterday's after-school meltdown.  Clearly, adjusting back to the usual routine is going to take a few days.

One thing the girls have enjoyed doing is looking through our trip photos on my computer.  Sometimes it doesn't even need to be a trip photo to excite them.  Today, as Madeleine waltzed past my computer while I was reading an article, she suddenly exclaimed, "Mom, I saw PARENTS...that are TOYS!  On your COMPUTER!  And...I REALLY want them on my wish list!"

Parents that are toys.
(AKA an ad for the tv show "Bob's Burgers.")

Today both girls are back to school, so it will be interesting to see if Julia's 2nd day ends in a less dramatic way than the 1st.  And I'm sure Madeleine can't wait to tell her teacher all about how we saw her at a gas station in Georgia.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sticky Sticky Stickers

Well, we've only been home about 36 hours and already Julia is back to her art projects.  In an effort to combat her feelings of missing Auntie Shannon, Julia decided to make a special fun activity to send to her aunt, and thus, "Sticky Sticky Stickers" was born.

What are "Sticky Sticky Stickers?"  Take a look at this new must-have product:

It's simple!  The instructions say it all: 1) Caler inside the boxs.  2) Catt the boxs out.  3) Take same tape and hang it.

It's just like ACTUAL stickers, except you have to color the pictures, cut them out, and stick tape on them yourself.  Ingenius!  No wonder they're sticky sticky.  In fact, Julia has trademarked her name so thoroughly that you must always include not one but TWO stickies when referring to her product.  As in:

ME: Julia, I'll put Auntie Shannon's Sticky Stickers in the mail.
JULIA: Uh, you mean her STICKY STICKY Stickers?

The Sticky Sticky Stickers were such a hit in our household that Julia had to make a sheet for Madeleine too:

And then Julia decided, what the heck, she might as well make some Sticky Sticky Stickers for her own self as well:

Good thing she included instructions for herself too, in case she forgot how she was supposed to use her Sticky Sticky Stickers.

So, now we have Sticky Sticky Stickers hanging all over the house! 

On the walls:

On pre-existing pieces of artwork:

Even on the windows!:

And YOU can have Sticky Sticky Stickers hanging all over YOUR house too!  Just place an order with Julia and I'm sure she'll be more than happy to start production.  Just make sure you have markers, scissors and tape handy and you're on your way to some totally high-class home decor!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Back At the Red House

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.

Julia was so bummed to leave yesterday that she was compelled to kiss all the walls and doors in our hotel room as she called out longingly, "Bye-bye, hotel, even though your elevators took FOREVER, I'll STILL miss you and I wish we didn't have to leeeeeave!"

(The elevators really DID take forever.)

After we checked out, we drove over to Auntie Shannon's apartment to have breakfast with her before heading to the airport.  As we drove along, Ethan spotted a Kia Soul (albeit not a black one like the one that Madeleine is so desperate to find.) 

Before I continue, I must explain that the girls feel the compulsion to yell out: "Kia Soul!  That's just like OUR car!" every time they see a Kia Soul ANYWHERE.  (They also need to yell out "Volkswagon Bug, my favorite kind of dinky little car!" when they see one.)  Their car-spotting exclamations are so important to them that they will literally erupt with their exclamation in the middle of talking about something completely different.  Like this:

JULIA: Mom, did you know that one day at school, we were - Volkswagon Bug!  My favorite kind of dinky little car! - working on our journals... etc etc

SO, it was somewhat egregious to the girls that Ethan, who first spotted the Kia Soul en route to Shannon's, was the one to announce it.

ETHAN: Kia Soul!
JULIA: Kia Soul!
MADELEINE: Daddy, the NEXT TIME, can you NOT say "Kia Soul," and can you let ME AND JULIA say it?

Parenting FAIL, Ethan.  Seriously.

We then drove past a restaurant which, for some reason, has pictures of skeletons all over its building front.  We had driven by this particular building nearly every day of our trip, but for some reason, Julia hadn't really noticed it until our last drive-by, and it reminded her of the touristy Halloween witchy wonderland of Salem, MA.

JULIA: Mom?  Are we in SALEM, because I just saw some HALLOWEEN stuff!
ETHAN: Yup.  We are.
JULIA: (disbelieving but slightly uncertain) Mom?  Are we REALLY?
ME: Yup.
ETHAN: It's amazing how long it takes to get to Salem from Needham.  I guess it's a much shorter drive from Atlanta.
JULIA: (still a bit uncertain) WELL, I just THOUGHT of Salem when I saw that skeleton, because Salem DEFINITELY has lots of Halloween stuff, even when it's not Halloween!
Suddenly, Madeleine, who has been so befuddled all vacation, was confident of our surroundings.
MADELEINE: Julia, we're in ATLANTA Georgia.
JULIA: Mom?  Is there a place called Herbert's?
MADELEINE: Julia, we're in ATLANTA Georgia.
ME: I don't know if there's a place called Herbert's.
JULIA: It just sounds like the right name for a place.
MADELEINE: We're in Atlanta Georgia Julia.
JULIA: I just think Herbert's is a nice name for a place.
You're living on two different planets here, kids.
When we drove our rented car into the Atlanta airport car return, Madeleine, of course, had a pressing question: "Mom?  Where's our BLACK car?"
Now that we are home, we have been reflecting on our favorite parts of vacation.  Julia even began dreamily preparing her vacation synopsis for Monday's school journal writing.
JULIA: Mom?  On Monday when we do journals, I'm going to write that I went to GEORGIA and I watched "Hocus Pocus."
ME: And you can write about going to the museum, and the zoo, and the aquarium, and Stone Mountain.
JULIA: Well Mom.  There's only one little tiny piece of paper, so I don't think I can FIT all that.
ME: Well, why don't you pick one thing?
JULIA: I picked "Hocus Pocus."
ME: Well, why don't you pick something specific to Atlanta?  I mean, you can watch "Hocus Pocus" anywhere.
JULIA: Well, maybe I'll write that I saw a beluga whale.
ME:  That's a great idea!  That's something we can't see at the Boston aquarium. I bet not a lot of kids in your class have seen a beluga whale.
JULIA: Well, technically, none of us would have seen a beluga whale, because we don't LIVE where beluga whales live.
I can't believe she used the word "technically" in the same conversation as her wanting to write about "Hocus Pocus" being the highlight of her vacation.
Speaking of, I asked the kids what their favorite parts of vacation were: 
ME: Girls, what's your favorite thing we did on vacation?
MADELEINE: Um...playing with Clara.
JULIA:  Watching "Hocus Pocus."

ME: Okay, let me put it this way: what was your favorite PLACE we went?  Like the aquarium, the zoo, the museum, Stone Mountain...
MADELEINE: Umm...Stone Hearth Mountain.
(Yes, she definitely had our red house on the brain, as Stone Hearth Pizza is a Needham restaurant and the mountain we visited is plain old Stone Mountain.)
JULIA: (nervously) Um...Mama...I'm not really sure, because there were SO MANY places I loved going.
Come on Julia!  Commit!  Don't worry if you can't give an answer with 100% certainty!  Take the plunge, here!!
At any rate, it was truly a wonderful vacation, and we are slowly trying to get back into the swing of things here at our red house with our black Kia Soul.  As I said on facebook, vacation is always too short!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Atlanta, Final Day

Even though Madeleine is saying things like this to me: "Mommy?  Can we go home to our RED HOUSE?  Because...I'm getting TIRED of being on vacation," she is clearly loving the whole experience of being at our hotel.  From pressing the elevator buttons to imitating the automated elevator announcer voice to sprinting down the hall on our floor to be the Camp Champ and arrive first at our door, it's a barrel full of entertainment here at the Georgian Terrace.  In fact, she and Julia both enjoy mimicking the elevator announcer, much to the amusement of the other elevator passengers, especially since they've got both the inflection and the posh accent down pat.

Today's big activity was a trip to Stone Mountain, where we got to ride a tram up to the top of the mountain and hang out enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.  It took the girls a few minutes to get over their total freaking-out fear that they were going to fall off the top of the mountain, but once they realized that they could actually walk around without risk of pitching off a cliff's edge, they were up for exploring.

Their budding courage gave us the opportunity to take some family photos, as well as allowed the girls to do weird things like lay down for a "nap" in one of the rock crevices:

One of the highlights of the experience, for Madeleine, was that we all got to wear wristbands that allowed us access to all of the park's adventures, including mini-golf, play areas, and a train ride around the mountain.  Just for clarification: Madeleine was not actually ALL that interested in the actual activities for which the wristband granted us access.  She was excited about the wristband itself, to the point that she and I got leagues behind Ethan and Julia as we walked towards the tram, all because Madeleine was ackmiring her band so fully.

MADELEINE: (taking one snail-paced step and stopping to twirl her arm around, then another snail-paced step, then more arm-twirling) Mom!  It's PURPLE and WHITE and BLACK!
ME: Yeah, honey, we're WAY behind Julia and Daddy.  Can you pick up the pace here?
MADELEINE: (twirling her arm around) It's so BEAUTIFUL!

She's right about that.  Look at how gorgeous this thing is:

Later on in the day, the wristband became her watch, which she consulted in order to give us important updates about what we were supposed to be doing.  "Mommy?  My watch says it's NINETY-THREE, so that means it's time to go back to the HOTEL."

We had to ignore the late time of ninety-three o'clock, however, because we wanted to ride the train around the mountain before we left.  The kids couldn't have been more invested in the whole scenic view thing if they'd tried.  Julia spent the whole time trying to play "20 Questions" with Ethan, shouting out questions to him as he attempted to snap pictures of the view with his phone camera, while Madeleine decided to stare straight ahead at the rows of passengers in front of us and bellow out the theme music to "Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses."

ME: Madeleine, look, do you see the mountain?
MADELEINE: Ahh ah ahhh, ah ahhh ah ahhh!  Ahhhhhahhhhhhhahhhhhhaaaaahhhhhhh!

It was totally worth staying past ninety-three o-clock to ride that train, let me tell you.

The *real* deciding factor on when to leave was Madeleine's exhausted, sleep-deprived, overstimulated-on-vacation melt-down, which occurred all because of her wristband watch.  We took a trip to the restrooms, and as I washed her hands, she became concerned with her watch getting wet.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  Wait!  Can you take off my watch so it doesn't get WET?
ME: I can't take it off, honey, but I'll try not to get it wet.

And then.  I splashed some water on the wristband as I rubbed her hands together under the faucet.

And she could not recover.

So we headed to the car, with Ethan carrying a sobbing Madeleine, and as I had expected, a few minutes into the car ride I looked back to see this:

Tonight we're planning on a low-key dinner and - hopefully - an early bedtime for the girls, as we get ready for our travels tomorrow.  I've gotta say, I'm with Julia here - I wish it was still Sunday, like LAST Sunday, like the day after we got here, because I'm not ready for vacation to end!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Atlanta, Day 6

While Julia has stated, with each passing day, how much she doesn't want this vacation to end ("I wish tomorrow wasn't THURSDAY!  Then we only have TWO MORE DAYS!"  "I wish tomorrow wasn't FRIDAY!  Then it's our LAST DAY!"  "I wish it was SUNDAY today.  Like, I mean, like LAST Sunday when we first GOT here."  "I wish we could stay here on vacation FOREVER!"), Madeleine still seems utterly confused as to why we're not at home doing our usual thing.  Last night as I put the girls to bed, Madeleine couldn't seem to stop chattering away about our red house.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  When are we going to go to our RED HOUSE again?
ME: On Saturday.  Why?  Do you miss our house?
ME: What do you miss so much about home?
MADELEINE: Because...all my TOYS are at the red house.  Mom?  Can we go to our RED HOUSE right now so I can play with my toys?

She does seem to finally understand where we are and where our black Kia Soul is, although for some reason she is insistent that we're not on vacation.  Sometimes she gets pretty vehement about it:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Why are we in Atlanta Georgia?
ME: Because we're on vacation!
MADELEINE: No, we're not.  We're NOT on vacation.
ME: Yeah, we are.  Just like when we went to New Hampshire last summer.  This is our family vacation.
MADELEINE: It's NOT!  Mom.  We're NOT at vacation.  Mom.  This is NOT vacation.
ME: Yes, honey, it is.

I'm not 100% sure of the logic behind her certainty that we're not on vacation, although she did try to explain it to me today.

MADELEINE: Mom, vacation is NOT when you go to somebody's houses or INPARTMENTS or to HOTELS.

I wonder what exactly she thinks vacation *is*.

At any rate, it's no real surprise that she's confused, when you consider the bevy of deep thoughts swirling around inside her brain.  For instance, she spent a lot of time this morning thinking hard about tongues.

MADELEINE: Mom?  I have a PURPLE tongue!
ME: You do?  Just like the giraffe at the zoo?
MADELEINE: Mom?  I'm gonna grow my tongue LONG.  Because...sometimes people can grow their tongues LONG.
ME:  Oh, really?
MADELEINE: No, Mom!  Don't say "Oh really!"  Say, "Oh, yeah, sometimes people CAN grow their tongues long!"
ME: Oh, yeah, sometimes people CAN grow their tongues long!
MADELEINE: (cheerily) Yeah!  So that's what I'm gonna do!

Then there was this conversation:

MADELEINE: Mom?  Why can dolphins not dive under the water?
ME: Well, they actually CAN.
MADELEINE: But why can't whales dive under the water?
ME: Whales CAN.  Remember we saw the whales at the aquarium?
MADELEINE: But...NOT whales with HEAVY heads.  Because...whales with...with...with...with HUGE heads are just BETEND.

Just one extremely logical thought after another.  Nothing random about her thought process at all.  It's amazing what a concrete thinker she is.

This afternoon, we met up with cousins Emily, Jack, and Parker at Riverside Park, where the kids got to play on all kinds of playground equipment, as well as visit the ducks on the Chattahoochee River.  Despite the fact that they haven't seen each other for two years, and didn't even wait for an introduction, Jack and Madeleine became fast friends:

The kids all had so much fun at the playground that Madeleine was heart-broken about leaving - contrary to the fact that she would really rather be back at our red house playing with her toys.  During the drive back to our hotel, Madeleine decided she still needed a play-mate, and tried to engage Julia in a game of "Diaper," which, according to Madeleine, entailed clapping her sandals and Julia's flip flops together on her hands.  Unfortunately, Julia was tired and didn't want to play, which ultimately led to me sitting in the backseat between the girls to intervene in their argument over whether or not Julia should be required to play "Diaper."  Once I was back there, both girls wanted a piece of me, so we rode back to Atlanta with them draping arms and legs over me and leaning their heads against my shoulders.

And that's not all!  I got to watch Madeleine make modeling poses!  Fun galore!

MADELEINE: Mom, so tell me, what do you think of THIS model?  Mom!  Turn your head and LOOK at me.
ME: (turning my head to see Madeleine waving her arms around and tilting her head to various angles.)
MADELEINE: Mom!  You're supposed to say "Ooooh, that's so FASHIONA!"
ME: Oooh.  That's so fashiona!
MADELEINE: Okay.  MOM!  Turn your head and look at THIS one!
ME: Oooooh, that's so fashiona.
MADELEINE: No.  Mom.  Don't say "Ooooooh, that's so fashiona."

I couldn't win.

At any rate, we are heading into our final full day of vacation, and it will be interesting to see the reactions both girls have when we make decisions on how to spend our last bit of time here in Atlanta.  Oh, wait.  We're not on vacation.  We'll have to figure out how to spend our last bit of time at hotels, people's houses, and inpartments.

Where's our black Kia Soul??

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vacation, Day 5

This morning, we all went out for breakfast at Highland Cafe, where the girls got to order their VERY FAVORITE breakfast in the world: chocolate chip pancakes.  In fact, Madeleine loved her so much that after she had finished all of her pancakes, she proceeded to scoop up the chocolate smears and pools of maple syrup on her plate and eat them straight from the spoon.  Yum!

Breakfast was followed by a trip to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which was a first for the Rowe family, despite the fact that this is our fourth time visiting Atlanta.  We all had a great time there, right from the get-go, when we got to pose as dinosaurs in the face-hole portrait thingies:

Madeleine couldn't get enough, and decided that after trying out a brontosaurus body, she needed to go stego:

We got to walk through the museum's special exhibit, "Extreme Mammals," which drew the girls' attention right off the bat because of their opportunity to make yet ANOTHER statue friend.  He was the largest ever land mammal, who is now, of course, extinct, but that didn't stop Julia and I from trying to play with him in statue form.  Julia even went all fashion-model on him; I swear, this kid can WORK IT no matter what the background:

The mammal exhibit even had interactive constructs such as a huge carapace that children could climb through, and which, for some reason, Madeleine decided to lay down in as if she were about to take a nap:

as well as tactile areas where we could touch skunk hair, porcupine quills, elephant teeth, and all sorts of other somewhat icky stuff.

Our next exhibit was a history of Georgia from prehistoric times through the present day, but we had to kind of whiz through that one because Julia was too scared of the bird sound effects that were playing from overhead in the coastal forest section.

We spent quite a lot of time in the 5 Senses room, which was nearly all interactive science stuff.  We had to take a little break because Julia mistook the bubble area, in which one can dip huge bubble wands into soap and watch the way the light reflects to make rainbow colors, for a water table and dipped herself up to her forearms in soapy bubble mix.  After she was able to wash down in the bathroom, we were back to action and moving along through the various science stations.

We also got to wander through an area on crystals and gemstones, as well as an exhibit on culture, which was particularly interesting for Julia, who did a huge unit on Native American cultures in her extended day program at school.  Today she got to see all sorts of Native American relics like moccasins, a dress decorated with elk teeth, a canoe made out of a tree trunk, and all sorts of pottery.  As I mentioned a few days ago, this vacation is definitely educational in many ways for Julia!

Finally, we visited the Nature Explorer room, which was basically just a creative-play WONDERLAND for kiddies.  As soon as we set foot inside, I knew there was no way we would be able to leave the museum without tears from the girls:

And I was was right.  At least half right; Julia was able to hold herself together, but Madeleine definitely had to crumple up her face with tears filling her eyes and lament, "I really really wish we could keep playing in that FUN ROOM!" as we dragged her towards the exit.

One thing that helped the girls part with the museum was their little take-home souvenirs, bought for them by Auntie Caitlyn, who came out to meet us at the Fernbank.  Julia is now the happy owner of Puffy the Orca:

While Madeleine now has a pink dolphin that she named Lamby.

ME: Wait, it's a dolphin but you named it Lamby?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Uh-huh!
ME: Can I take a picture of you and Lamby for my blog?
MADELEINE: (face turning impishly stubborn) Uh,  nope.
ME: Please?  Just one picture?
MADELEINE: (stuffing Lamby between her legs and squeezing them together to hide her dolphin) Nope.
ME: Madeleine, just hold Lamby up for one second.  I want to take her picture.
MADELEINE: Uh, no.  She CAN'T come out.
ME: Okay, fine.
MADELEINE: You can only take a picture of JUST ME.
ME: I don't want a picture of just you.  I want Lamby in it.
MADELEINE: (sticking Lamby's fin up from out of her legs) Mommy?   Only Lamby's BUM can be in the picture.
ME: I don't want just Lamby's bum.  I want ALL of Lamby.
MADELEINE: (slithering Lamby around out of her legs and up into the air) She's READY to be in a picture now!

Madeleine and Lamby.

Tonight Ethan and I get to go out on a dinner date while Aunties Shannon and Caitlyn baby-sit the girls, and I think *everybody* involved is really excited.  I am sure the girls will be in for yet another late bedtime, but hey, it's vacation, right?!

More updates to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Atlanta, Day 4

Julia is having such a grand time on vacation that even her nightmares about a brown recluse/black widow hybrid are bringing her joy.  Trotting over to me as I emerged from the bedroom this morning, she announced: "Mom, I had a dream last night that I saw one of those BROWN spiders with the red spots on it.  And I wasn't even SCARED.  I was kind of, like, ENJOYING the dream, like I didn't even WANNA get up to go to the bathroom!"

Seeing as Julia feels the need to come out of her bedroom and get us *EVERY TIME* she even thinks she sees a bug, the fact that she was, like, ENJOYING her dream is highly unusual.

Today's big activity was a trip to Zoo Atlanta, where we got to see all kinds of cool animals, as well as make friends with even more statues.  While yesterday's discovery of surf boards at the Aquarium was hugely exciting for Julia, today Madeleine had her turn to fulfill one of her INSESSIONS when she discovered SIMBA!:

Not only that, but she and Julia even got to BE lions:

AND: check THIS out:

Seriously.  We were in SIMBA HEAVEN.

Among the other cool animals we got to see were panda bears, tons of giant snakes, kangaroos, and African elephant, gorillas, orangutans, and tamarins.  Madeleine was especially taken by the tamarins and their ability to leap with speed and agility from branch to branch, climbing all over the place.

In fact, the tamarins had such a lasting impression on her that she decided to do some climbing herself when we got to the playground area:

"Mom!" Madeleine exclaimed in delight.  "I'm a TANGERINE climbing on this ROPE!"

The girls were heartily wiped after four hours at the zoo, so when we got back to our hotel, they chilled out with some tv and animal crackers before we headed out to dinner at a somewhat posh tapas bar.  Julia decided to make me look like Mother of the Year by openly criticizing my choice of Chilean wine in front of the waiter: "Mom!  You should have ordered a margarita, or a California Cabernet!"

Yes.  My child apparently knows not only the type but also the region of my current favorite kind of wine.

After dinner, we took the kids for ice cream.  Both ordered chocolate, but we discovered too late that the server had scooped them BOTH mocha java, complete with whole espresso beans in the ice cream.

I can't wait to see what time they both fall asleep tonight.  Let's play a fun game!  Who can come closest to guessing the actual time my accidentally-caffeinated kids get to bed?  Taking wagers now!  Winner gets to have the kids sleep over one evening so that Ethan and I can actually get some sleep!

Til tomorrow!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Atlanta, Day 3

Madeleine continues to be utterly confused as to where the heck we are during this vacation.  Some of her recent questions have been:

"Mom?  Where is MASSACHUSETTS?"
"Mom?  When are we going back to our RED HOUSE?"
"Mom?  Why did you want to COME here?"
"Mom?  Where's our black Kia Soul?" (asked EVERY TIME we get in our rental car)

Speaking of our rental car, things were even more confusing when we took the car seats out of our rental car yesterday and put them in Auntie Shannon's car, in order to drive all together to the pool, playground, and dinner restaurant.  Auntie Shannon had parked at our parking garage in order to pick us Rowes up, and enlisted Julia's help in a mnemonic device to remember the number of her parking space.

AUNTIE SHANNON: Julia, I'm parked in spot 604.  What can we think up to help us remember that?
JULIA: Six-oh-four!  Coloring on the floor!  Six-oh-four...Knocking on my door!

The second one was the one that stuck.  As we all walked through the parking garage, Julia and Auntie Shannon chanted their rhyme over and over together.

JULIA AND SHANNON: Six-oh-four!  Knockin' on my door!  Six-oh-four!  Knockin' on my door! Six-oh-four!  Knockin' on my door!

Not wanting to be left out, Madeleine chimed in brightly: "Six-oh-five!  Knockin' on MAH door!"

Then we got to Auntie Shannon's car and Madeleine asked, "Mom?  Where's our black Kia Soul?"

Luckily, Madeleine was able to temporarily forget about her confusion this afternoon, as we took a trip to the impressive Georgia Aquarium.  The kids were both out of their minds with excitement, before we even entered the doors.  Completely captivated by the various dolphin statues outside the entrance, the girls could have probably played with their new dolphin friends (who they named and ranked in order of most to least favorite) for hours:

Julia and her new Dolphin BFF

But we did have to part with the dolphins, and once we were inside the aquarium, OMG.  The kids were in paradise.  We started off checking out the ocean life tank, where we got to see not only tons of fish, a hammerhead shark, and a bunch of stingrays, also some seriously huge whale sharks.  (MADELEINE: Mom?  I want to TOUCH the whale shark.  ME: You really DON'T want to touch a whale shark, honey.  MADELEINE: Why not?  ME: Because it would eat you.  MADELEINE: Why would it eat me?  ME: Because sharks eat people, honey.)

Afterwards, we headed to see the beluga whales, which was the highlight of the day for both girls:

JULIA: (sighing with pleasure) I just REALLY LOVE beluga whales.  

We also got to check out the sea otters and penguins before heading off to the next exhibit: The Coral Reef.  And wouldn't you know it, but Julia's extended day program has been learning about coral reefs for the past month or so.  So the fact that I pulled her out of school for a week of vacation is not for nothing! - she got some extra coral reef enrichment today - woo-hoo!

The coral reef

And as if it wasn't exciting enough to see a REAL coral reef with REAL tropical fish, the exhibit also had this!:

She's the queen of the WA-HAY-HAY-HAYVES!

Before the afternoon was through, we also went to the aquarium play area, the touch tanks, the frog exhibit, and the river dwellers.  And, of course, we saw the giant jellyfish (MADELEINE: Mom?  I want to TOUCH a jellyfish.  ME: Honey, you really DON'T want to touch a jellyfish.  MADELEINE: Why not?  ME: Because it would sting you.  MADELEINE: But why would it STING me?  ME: Because jellyfish have poisonous tentacles that sting, honey.)

I'm not sure why all the creatures Madeleine wanted to touch were the dangerous ones.  And seeing as she didn't even like the poisonous cheese on her tacos the other night, I can't imagine why she would want to touch poisonous tentacles.

After our aquarium adventure, we headed out of Atlanta to visit Uncle Dave, Aunt Sarah, and cousin Emily.  Julia was absolutely enthralled with her little cousin and spent the majority of the evening doting on her.  The kids also enjoyed mashing into Emily's play tent for some good old indoor camping out:

Madeleine, who hadn't pooped since the "do you think I pooped in my pants" incident the day we arrived, and who had done several panicked, pinched legged, butt-out potty dances at the aquarium (leading me to sprint her across the facility to the nearest bathroom only to discover a false alarm), FINALLY got some poop out at Emily's house.  In fact, she had more than one marathon poop session in the bathroom.  I accompanied her on the second one, during which she felt the need to not only diarrhea out her bum but also out of her mouth.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  How do potties work?
ME: Uh, well, they have water in them that flushes the poop and pee down the hole when you push the flusher down.
MADELEINE: Mommy?  How do COATS work?
ME: Uh...they cover your arms and your body to keep you warm.
MADELEINE: Mommy?  How do PURSES work?
ME: Purses?  Well, they zip open and you can put important things inside and then zip them closed.
MADELEINE: Mommy?  Sometimes monsters have THOSE kinds of ears.
ME: Oh.  Really?
MADELEINE: Mommy?  I'm INSESSED with The Lion King.  Because...lions and tigers are WILD ANIMALS.  Mommy!  Look!  (pointing at the door stop) We have one of THOSE things at our hotel! Me and Daddy love to BANG them!  Because that's so EXCITING!  Mom, this is how you BANG them, with your toes and feet.  Oh!  I got MIXED UP.  Mom?  What does mixed up mean?
ME: Uh, it means confused.
ME: It means...you did the wrong thing.
MADELEINE: Mom.  That's not what confused means.  Confused means MIXED UP.  Mom, you got MIXED UP.  Mommy, we're TWINS!  We both got MIXED UP!

Finally, the verbal and literal diarrhea were done, and much to all three kids' regret, we had to end the play-date and head back to our hotel.  Looking forward to what Acklanta adventures tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Atlanta, Day 2

The girls got to bed WAY past their bedtime last night.  I was REALLY hoping they would sleep later to compensate, but no such luck.  By 6:30 this morning, they were both up and looking forward to starting their day.  I hadn't slept well, myself, and had set out a bunch of activities in the living area for them, including brand new sticker books and some Melissa & Doug mix-and-match 3-piece block people.  I encouraged the girls to go and play while I slept a bit more, and they were excited enough by their new toys that they complied.

Kind of.

My hope to get more sleep was granted, but it was VERY interrupted sleep.  I can't even remember the number of things Julia came in for.  The stickers in her new sticker book were too hard to get off, so every time she wanted a new one, she needed me to peel it for her.  "Why would somebody even MAKE a sticker book with stickers that are THIS hard to get off!?!"  She wanted to watch tv but didn't know how to turn it on.  She wanted me to see how she had decorated the princesses in her sticker book.  Etc.

I say this all as my excuse for why I didn't get up until it was way past the usual breakfast time for the girls.

When Julia came in for the umpteenth time to tell me, "Mama?  I think, like, it's almost seven, and I'm getting really hungry, so can you get up?"

I looked at my watch.  Ten of nine.  Whoops.

Needless to say, the kids were awfully hungry and thirsty by the time we finally headed out the door to breakfast, not to mention overtired, which explains why Madeleine felt compelled to cry throughout THE ENTIRE WALK to our breakfast restaurant over the fact that she didn't want to be wearing pants.

Once the girls had food and milk in their systems, however, they were back to being happy campers.  In fact, Madeleine had undergone such a marked transformation after drinking her milk at the restaurant that I tried to give her a second cup of milk once we got back to our hotel, wondering if she was feeling dehydrated.  She was not so into that second cup, despite my constant encouraging that she take another sip.  Finally, she told me, with complete logic, "Mom, I'm just gonna take ONE MORE little sip, because I don't want those BACTERIAS getting in my lungs."

I think she's going to be a SCIENCE WHIZ.

Meanwhile, Julia was totally gung-ho about the idea of trying to go swimming, even though our hotel's heated outdoor pool doesn't open until May, and the only pool available is the non-heated outdoor pool at Auntie Shannon's apartment complex.

It was about sixty-three degrees out this morning.  I continually warned Julia that it was very likely too cold to try and swim.  She continually assured me that she was unflaggingly confident that the water would not be too cold for her.

So we drove over to Auntie Shannon's, got on our bathing suits, and headed to the pool, with Julia as excited as could be:

While Madeleine, Ethan, Shannon and I tentatively dipped our toes into the frigid water, Julia bravely went over to the other side of the pool and cannon-balled in, emerging back above the water with a look of sheer and utter panic on her face, dog-paddling frantically to the nearest edge to hoist herself out of the pool and wrap up in a towel.

Madeleine, on the other hand, wound up having a completely delightful time getting dipped into the freezing water:

Even when she had no adult to dunk her in, Madeleine couldn't get her hands off the pool water:

At least one kid enjoyed the swimming...

Later in the afternoon, we took a trip to the playground at Piedmont Park and enjoyed walking along the paths throughout the park grounds.  My mind filled with wonderful visions of getting a family photo in one of the many scenic locations, but apparently I was alone in my hunky-dory, posey family picture idea.  Ethan pretty much NEVER wants to be involved in any such thing, and even my little obedient Julia protested, "Ugggghh!  Why is that ALWAYS what we have to do?  Why do we ALWAYS have to be doing family pictures EVERYWHERE we go?"

6 years old and already embarrassed of the stuff her mother wants her to do.  Uh-oh.

And then there's Madeleine, who decided that for every picture Auntie Shannon snapped, she needed to either a) look completely uninterested and aim her gaze at an angle completely awry from the camera, b) look sullen and pouty because we redirected her body angle to face the camera, or c) stick out her tongue or make goofy faces.

It took about fifteen tries, but I think we FINALLY got one in which every member of the household was looking somewhat cheery and facing somewhat towards the camera.

Our last stop of the evening was Yeah Burger, where we had dinner, and where both kids had completely melt-downs over the fact that they didn't want milk.  Seriously, what kind of a horrible mother am I, making my kids wear pants and drink milk??

They are SO tired.

And, of course, we got back to the hotel late once again this evening, but here's hoping for a later wake-up time for both girls in the morning.  As we approached our hotel, Julia gazed up at the big clock tower across the street and exclaimed, "Woah!  It's three after MIDNIGHT already?"  I asked her what on earth made her think that.  "Well, it says it's, like 3:49 up there or something," she replied confidently.

Julia has been learning to tell clock time at school, as well as playing her telling-time board game from Yiayia at home.  From her assessment of this morning's time to her evening announcement, all I can say is - WOW.  I can DEFINITELY see the progress she is making in her clock-reading skills.

I look forward to more vacation adventures when I wake up at seven ten of nine again tomorrow morning!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Atlanta Vacation - Day 1

Family vacation day is finally here!

The girls were SO excited that Saturday has finally arrived when they awoke this morning.

Julia wasn't even sure she'd be able to fall asleep the night before due to her excitement, and even Madeleine knew that once it was Saturday, it would be vacation day, so their collective mood was full of delighted energy when they came down from their bedrooms.

MADELEINE: Mom, we've been waiting ALLLLLL day long so it could be Saturday and we could FINALLY go to New Hampshire!
JULIA: Madeleine.  We're going to ACKLANTA.  Not NEW HAMPSHIRE.
MADELEINE: Well Julia.  Don't you know?  Atlanta is PART of New Hampshire.

The girls remained jolly as we drove into Boston to the airport, and their excitement only increased once we were inside the airport.  Literally EVERYTHING was exciting.  Between the escalators and the moving track through the long corridors, it was truly as if we were at an amusement park in the girls' eyes.  "Mom, can we ride on ANOTHER escalator?" Madeleine would ask, eyes wide with wonderment.  THEN, once we actually got to our gate, the view of planes taking off out the window just pushed the excitement into overdrive.  "DAD, LOOK!" Julia would exclaim, only to be bitterly disappointed that Ethan was too busy checking over our boarding passes to see one of the dozens of planes taking off from outside our window.  Even Julia finally became astonished by the sheer number of planes going up into the sky.  "ANOTHER plane?!?" she began to remark, as if a multitude of planes taking off at an airport was an extremely unusual event.

To increase the unbelievable amazement of the whole airport experience, Madeleine was fascinated by the voice coming through the overhead intercom, making important announcements about things we passengers needed to remember and rules that must be followed concerning checked baggage and what not.  

"Mom!" Madeleine exclaimed, delighted.  "I heard your dad!  Talking from really FAR AWAY!"

So.  Apparently the automated announcer voice at the airport is my father calling down to me from the Heavens.  Glad he had such logical advice for me in my travels.  Thanks, Dad!  I hope you're proud that I *did* check that bag after all!

Thanks to great behavior on the part of both girls, the flight went without incident, and there was much more excitement to be had in the riding of escalators and moving tracks at the Atlanta airport.  Once we rented our car and were ready to roll, however, Madeleine suddenly seemed confused.

MADELEINE: Mom?  Where's our BLACK car?
ME: Our black car is in Massachusetts, honey.  Remember how we flew on a plane to come to Georgia?
MADELEINE: But Mom?  Where are Nana and Gramps?
JULIA: Madeleine.  We're in GEORGIA, not VERMONT.

At least Madeleine had moved on from thinking we were in New Hampshire.

We made a brief stop to our hotel to check in, then met up with Auntie Shannon to go experience Inman Park restaurant week in her neck of the woods.  We enjoyed delicious Mexican food at Pure, where Julia got to eat her #1 favorite food, quesadillas, and Madeleine got to drop her corn tortilla in disgust after taking a bite, telling me, "There's some POISONOUS cheese that got on it!"

For dessert, we ordered the girls a plate of churros to share, with a little bowl of chocolate flan in which to dip the churros.  Madeleine decided the churros were too hot and therefore too hazardous to eat.  Julia announced, "I think I like the way the OUTSIDE tastes, but not the way the INSIDE tastes."

These are FRIED DOUGHNUTS here, girls.  How can you not like them?!?

Madeleine decided to just eat the flan straight from the bowl instead:

Before long, Julia joined in, too, so the adults passed the discarded pieces of churros around and the kids demolished the rest of the chocolate custard.

After dinner, we walked back towards Auntie Shannon's apartment, and Madeleine had a sudden, unexpected question for me.

MADELEINE: Mom?  Do you THINK I pooped in my underwear?
ME: Uh, I hope not.  Why?  Do YOU think you pooped in your underwear?
MADELEINE: Ummmm...no.

A few minutes later, Madeleine was a bit less tentative.

MADELEINE: Mom?  I think you should just CHECK my underwear to see if there's poop in it.

I really, really didn't want to.  I already knew what I would see.  And sure enough, one little pellet the size of a black bean, along with a tiny chocolate smear.

All of our luggage was back at the hotel.  We were on foot from dinner to Auntie Shannon's apartment, planning to pick up doggie Clara and walk to a playground.  

We had no other clothes for Madeleine.  And Madeleine had just crapped her pants a teeny, tiny bit.

So, I wound up taking a pair of underwear that Auntie Caitlyn had left at Shannon's apartment and putting it on Madeleine, using an elastic band to bunch up the extra loose fabric.  And so off to the playground we went:

and Madeleine got to sport an ultra-cool underwear tail:

Never a dull moment!!  
With that, I am off to enjoy a glass of vacation wine with Ethan and get to sleep so I'm ready for another energetic day of family vacation!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Julia's Newest Book

With all the scary news and events following the Boston Marathon bombing, I couldn't have been more grateful for a new Julia book to put my mind on innocent things. 

And what better book could she have ever made than this one:

I'm not sure what the significance of the orange circle with a letter "N" inside is, but I'm definitely digging the title and the fact that Julia decided to write about all the speshle things that moms do.

Wait until you hear all of the commendations she heaps on me and on moms in general, starting with this one:

She nailed it.  I mean, that truly is speshle.  Without moms to hep trn off the lites, kids would be stuck sleeping in a brightly lit room at night.  I give myself a laudatory pat on the back for my role in heping Julia trn off lites.

Then there's this one:
That's right!  I am speshle becas I opin dors for her.  What would she do without me to opin doors for her?  Opin them herself?  Come on, what kind of mother do you think I am?  I'm loving this praise.  Keep it comin'!

Well, I do sometimes get Julia long soxs, but she refuses to wear them, because she doesn't look GOOD in long soxs and she only likes to wear ankle soxs.  But I appreciate the fact that she is acknowledging my effort to get her long soxs even if she doesn't want to wear them.  Thanks, kid.  That means a lot.

Now, I must admit, I have never wokd on stils in my entire life, so I can't take credit for this one.  I guess the green-faced kid with spikes coming out of his head must wok on stils with his green-faced, spiky-headed mom.  Definitely not an activity I have done with Julia, though.

I did, in fact, let Julia have long flowing hare for a long time, and I also let her cut it to her shoulders when she got sick of it being so long and flowing.  So - hooray for me!

Now, for a few pages that are somewhat more relevant to my particular interactions with Julia:
I most definitely do hlep Julia do her home wrok.  I don't usually have porcupine quills coming out of my head while I'm doing it, but other than that, this page is pretty spot on.

I would say that her swimm teachers are more to credit for hleping her swimm, but I certainly have hleped her to practice the swimming techniques she has learned in lessons, so I'll take the praise on this one.

Now, you've heard the videos.  Julia doesn't really need any hlep singing.  Bursting into made-up song seems to be innate for her.  But I'd like to think that the fact that I have been singing to her and in front of her since she was an infant has at least something to do with such creative masterpieces as "What Kind of Path Do You Take?: Usually Straight" and "A Cutie Mark Makes Your Macaroni."

Again, true.  I do let her do jimnastx.  I even let her be Sierra and let Madeleine be McKenna and allow them to thump around the house like graceless elephants.

This one might be my favorite sentiment of all.  I'm not *really* sure why we're wearing hats like Buckingham Palace guards, however.

And the final page just sums it all up perfectly:


Thanks, Julia!  Just what I needed to brighten my mood!  And, you know, I happen to think you're pretty darn speshle, too.