Sunday, June 30, 2013

Church Adventures

Since church choir and Sunday school are both on break for the summer, I brought a slew of coloring books, blank paper, and markers to church today to keep the kids entertained.  We sat in the very back pew of the church so as not to disturb any of the people who were trying to pay attention to the Liturgy.

Madeleine did pretty well coloring quietly, until I made the kids stand up during the recitation of the Lord's Prayer.  Afterwards, Julia sat back down to resume coloring in her Care Bears book, while Madeleine instead began trying to scale the back of the pew in front of us.

MADELEINE: Why does everyone want their HEADS to be making us NOT be able to SEE?
ME: Shhh.  Madeleine, do you want to sit back down and color?
MADELEINE: Uh, no, I just want to keep looking at Father for a little while!

Madeleine has finally gotten the concept that our priest is a) not God Himself and b) not her second (extra?  spare?  additional?) father.  However, it turns out that she doesn't quite grasp the idea that Father actually does live outside of the church.

MADELEINE: But Mama?  Where does Father SLEEP in the church?

Eventually, Madeleine managed to get back to coloring, although she interrupted her artwork several times to ask me poignant questions.

MADELEINE: Mama?  What world was the world that JESUS was born into?


MADELEINE: Mama?  Why does that picture have a CROSS on it?
ME: Because a cross is a symbol of Jesus.
MADELEINE: No Mama.  That's NOT why.  It's just STANDING THERE.  So Mama?  Is it a STATUE?
ME: Uhhh...
MADELEINE: (brightly) Yeah!  I think it's a STATUE!

After the service, I had to attend a choir meeting in the church library.  Julia was adamant about wanting to sit in one of the Sunday school classrooms so she could pretend to do homework at one of the desks.  Therefore, I left the kids in the classroom next to the library and popped in and out of the meeting to check on them.

Not that they were shy about coming in to get me over anything they deemed urgent.  Like:

JULIA: Mama!  Madeleine made some brownie crumbs and I told her to clean them up and she told me she needs a BROOM but we don't SEE one!


MADELEINE: Mama?  Is it okay for me and Julia to RUN AROUND?


JULIA: (handing me Madeleine's plate of fruit) Mama?  Madeleine says she wants to be DONE eating.


MADELEINE: (looking pitiful) Mama, I BUMPED my HEAD.

Every time they would leave the library, they would slam not only the library door, but also the door to the adjacent classroom once they were inside.

They weren't disturbing AT ALL.

But it wasn't only questions and complaints they came in for.  I also received special deliveries of pictures they drew.

Julia drew some very sweet and lovely pictures for me:

While Madeleine, per usual, opted for totally creepy drawings:

According to Madeleine, these are Care Bears, but I think they look more like DEMON DEATH BEARS.  As for the apocryphal script up top, with the word "rowe" in the midst, I can only shiver...

I don't have any idea what this is a picture of, and I don't think I really want to know.

At any rate, the girls were really as well-behaved as can be expected of kids stuck waiting around for a long time, and I was able to more or less attend the meeting.  The added bonus of us being out at church was that we allowed poor, sick Daddy a chance to sleep without background crashing and thumping all morning.  And, of course, I had the pleasure of hearing all of Julia's dreamy observations along the drive to and from church.

JULIA: Mama!  I see a BLIMP!  I can't believe it!  I've NEVER EVER seen a blimp before, and ALL MY LIFE I've been HOPING and HOPING I would see one!


JULIA: Mama?  I just LOVE the look of fresh paved roads.  I just look at it and I feel like I just want to EAT A BITE out of it because it looks so NICE and CLEAN.

So poetic.  I totally agree.  Whenever I look at freshly laid asphalt, all I want to do is take a chomp out of it.  Don't you??

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Conversations and a Trip to the Movies

Last night before bed, Julia began to worry that she would be scared of Skekses when she was alone in her room.  I tried unsuccessfully to use logic and reason to explain to her why she didn't need to be scared.

JULIA: Mama?  Do you think I'm going to be scared of the Skekses when I'm trying to go to sleep tonight?
ME: Nah.  You won't be scared.  Don't worry.
JULIA: Well, I'm ALREADY feeling kind of scared about them.
ME: Well, you don't need to.  They're just puppets.
JULIA: I know Mama, but everything else in the movie just looks so REAL, I kind of FEEL like Skekses are real.  
ME: Well, even if they WERE real, they're from another world, right?  There were no humans in "The Dark Crystal," so Skekses don't live in the world we live in.
JULIA: But Mama, I feel like, when they MOVE in "The Dark Crystal," like they ARE real.
ME: Okay, but they're not a part of the world we live in.  The movie says this was all a long, long time ago.  It's like dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs once lived in our world, but now they're gone.  You're not scared of dinosaurs when you lay in your bed at night, are you?
JULIA: (troubled look crossing her face) Well, I'm KIND OF scared of a T-REX.
ME: Okay.  But you don't lay awake at night thinking that a dinosaur is in your room, right?
JULIA: (glancing around the living room nervously) Well, Mama.  NOW I'm feeling scared of them.

For.  Goodness.  Sake.  

Apparently I only added a NEW fear to her plate.  Why not?  Let's just pile on all the fears at once and then get them over with.  Mummies, Skekses, dinosaurs, what else can we throw in there?

Madeleine's bedtime conversation with me was scary in a whole different way.  Most of you blog-readers are also on facebook, so you may have read about this already, but just in case not, here is a transcript of our conversation about sharks...and much, much more:

(Added bonus of reading this blog: I will include more of the conversation, which I cut out for the sake of not making my facebook status too long)

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why do sharks sometimes EAT a human?
ME: Well, some sharks will eat most any type of meat.
MADELEINE: But Mama!  Humans are not MEAT!
ME: Sure we are.  We're made of meat all over our body.
MADELEINE: (sniffing her arm) Well, it doesn't SMELL like meat.
ME: That's because you're not cooked.  When we eat meat from animals, we cook it.  We don't just eat a whole chicken just as it is.  We take the meat that comes from a chicken, and we cook it.  
MADELEINE: But why do we cook it?
ME: Well, because that kills a lot of the germs that are in raw meat.  But humans DON'T eat other humans.
MADELEINE: Because that would be SILLY!  (thoughtful) But Mama?  WHY don't humans eat other humans?
ME: Well, that's just not something that humans do.  Humans love each other and make friends with each other, they don't eat each other.
MADELEINE: Well Mama, I want to eat YOU and have you be inside my belly!
ME: But wouldn't you be sad if you ate me all up and then there was no more mommy?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Well Mama.  Daddy would still be around to take care of me!
ME: I know, but would you really want to eat up Mommy and have me be gone for good?  
MADELEINE: Well, Daddy can take me to places!  And Mama, I want you to COME BACK ALIVE inside my tummy and start TALKING to me!
ME: Well, it doesn't work that way.  When you eat chicken, does the chicken come back alive inside you and start saying, "Bwock, bwock!"
MADELEINE: (giggling) NOOOO!
ME: And when you eat a turkey burger, does the turkey come back alive and say "Gobble Gobble!"
MADELEINE: (suddenly annoyed) Mama!  Can you just STOP saying what the ANIMALS talk inside my TUMMY?

Okay then.  Meat-eating/cannibalism discussion over with.

This morning, Madeleine had questions not about sharks, but about her favorite lion.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why when Simba grows up, does he look like his DAD?
ME: Well, a lot of kids grow up to look like their parents, because they have their parents' genes.
ETHAN: (chiming in) Like you girls!
ME: Yeah, Madeleine will probably look like me when she grows up, because she looks a lot like me as a kid right now.  And Julia, you look a lot like Daddy.  You'll probably grow up to look like a girl version of Daddy.
MADELEINE: Well, she doesn't look like Daddy to ME!  Because she doesn't have WHISKERS!  (pausing in thought)  Maybe she SHAVES them.

Madeleine has truly figured out all the secrets of the world.

Finally, on a different note, we took the kids to the movie theater this afternoon to see the brand new "My Little Pony" movie, "Equestria Girls."  We were running late getting there, and because there was no parking available near the theater, Ethan let the kids and I out at the cinema entrance so we could run inside and get seats as quickly as possible.  As the girls and I scurried up the escalator and through the corridor to our theater, Madeleine reassuringly announced to me, "Well Mama.  I'm holding my poop REALLY QUICKLY!"  

We missed the opening scene of the movie, but were able to follow along with the rest of the film regardless.  Madeleine, who adamantly insisted she could hold her poop through the movie, wound up sitting in my lap because there were only two free seats together.  With each squirm and toot-stench, I would whisper in her ear, "Do you need to poop?"  "Uh...not YET!" she would reply confidently.  At one point, unable to hear her whispered response, I slid her off my lap and tried to turn her to face me, but of course, she didn't want to take her eyes off the movie, so she kept her head turne,d and with eyes bulging out, attempted to continue viewing the scene.  

Thankfully, she really DID hold her poop.  I gotta give her credit.  She knew how to pull through when it really mattered.  

Julia, for her part, ate three-quarters of the bag of popcorn all by herself, and since Madeleine was blocked up due to her need to poop, she wasn't hungry for a snack.  Despite the fact that Julia eventually took a break to save some for the rest of us, as soon as we were in the car heading home from the movie, she piped up with, "We could use a little popcorn back here!"

And, of course, the moment we walked in the door to our house, Madeleine asked cheerfully, "Mama? Can you put on a MOVIE?"

Because I guess the feature-length film at the movie theater just wasn't enough.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Days

Summer vacation is in full swing!  We Rowe girls always enjoy taking advantage of the summer events at the town library, including their free Friday movie showings.  We had even more incentive to visit the library today, as Julia has a summer reading list she needs to complete before the start of first grade. We headed on over to the children's section, where the kids played for awhile, and then Julia sat with me to read aloud from one of the books off her reading list.  We had chosen a second book from the list to read as well, but the loudspeaker announcement that the Friday movie was about to start in the Community Room distracted her.  We already knew today's movie was going to be "The Dark Crystal," a movie that we have at home and Julia is one part fascinated by and one part terrified of.  She had already vehemently rejected the idea of watching it at the library, because she was afraid she'd be too scared.  However, the loudspeaker announcement was like a magic, hypnotic beacon, beckoning all children to gather in the Community Room, because Julia was suddenly begging me to see the movie, asserting that she had changed her mind.

So into the Community Room we went, and Madeleine decided she didn't want to sit in the regular chairs with Julia and I; instead, she wanted to go sit upon one of the pod cushions up close to the screen.  I knew it was only a matter of time before she scampered back in fear to join us in the seats, but I let her go.

And the movie began.  Within the first few minutes, Julia declared she was too scared and wanted to leave.  Madeleine, as predicted, scampered back to climb in my lap.  We decided to stay for a few scenes just to see if things felt less scary once the Skekses were not onscreen.  We found a pretty good rhythm, with Julia closing her eyes and turning her face away from the screen anytime Skekses were featured, and Madeleine bravely and stoically watching, while wrapping my arms around her as protection.

After about a half hour, with both girls still scared, I checked in on how they were feeling.  Both girls were pretty adamant about wanting to leave because it was too scary.  So we caused a minor disturbance, opening the door and letting the outside light in for a moment as we pushed our stroller and ourselves out into the library lobby.

ME: Okay, well, give me a minute to get our stuff together, then we'll go over to the pool.
JULIA: (sighing in disappointment) Mama, I wish we didn't have to leave, because I was reeeeeally ENJOYING watching that movie.
ME: Wait a minute.  You just told me you were too scared and wanted to leave.
JULIA: Well, I just wish we could keep watching it.
ME: Madeleine, do you want to go to the pool?
MADELEINE: Uh, I want to watch the rest of the movie.

Wait.  WHAT?!?  Was it truly out of sight, out of mind?  The minute we leave the dark movie room, the fear is completely gone, and both kids are wistfully wishing to return??

Too bad.  I didn't give them the opportunity.  Julia is STILL scared of the mummy from Pound Puppies every night.  I was ready to quit while we were ahead.  So we went to the pool.

The kids love Rosemary Pool, and every summer, we spend a whole lot of time there.  One of the advantages to the kids being older this summer is that Julia is a much more competent swimmer now, and I can feel free to follow Madeleine around while keeping an eye on Julia as she swims in the lap lane.  Juggling two kids incapable of swimming on their own was nerve-wracking in past summers.

One of the DISADVANTAGES of the kids being older, and both potty trained, is that between the two of them, someone needs to go up to the bathroom about every fifteen minutes.  If it's Julia needing to pee, I can send her up on her own to use the toilet while I stay in the water with Madeleine.  If it's Julia needing to POOP, however, she feels the need to have me closer by, or at the very least, to announce her intentions in private to me.  Usually this happens as I'm in the middle of a conversation with another parent, during which Julia will beckon me with her finger and say, "Mommy?  A word?"  Once I'm safely away from other people, she will then whisper to me that she needs to poop.  Usually she wants me to come up to the locker room with her, which means dragging Madeleine out of the pool to come up with us.

If it's Madeleine who needs the bathroom, I feel much more panicked.  For one, I can't send her up on her own, so anytime Madeleine has to go, I have to pull Julia out of the pool so we can all go up to the locker room together.  For two, Madeleine doesn't always make it to the bathroom before announcing her need to go.  She very helpfully pooped in her bathing suit on our first pool trip of the summer, leaving me to discover the situation by reaching out to touch the dark stain on the back of her suit, only to recoil in disgust, because I was simply TOO STUPID to trust my nose alone about what the dark stuff might be.  Therefore, any time I see her clutch a hand between her legs, or hear her announce, voice strained, "I need to go to the BATHROOM!", I begin a mad dash to get her up to the locker room, shouting for Julia to get out of the water and follow us.

Thankfully, today, despite myriad trips to the locker room, everyone got everything into the potty and nothing into the bathing suits.  Therefore, we were able to kick back and relax during rest period, rather than have me force the girls to try the potty.  The girls sat casually on the pool bench, eating Rainbow Goldfish and drying off in the sun.  We got to play Madeleine's super-fun Goldfish game, in which we have to guess if her goldfish, which she eats two by two, match colors.  After about the first three rounds, the game gets really old, really fast, and we still have the whole rest of the package to get through.  At least Madeleine took a break from the game to ask an important question: "Why does it feel like the Goldfish are DYING when they're inside my mouth?"

With that comment, Madeleine solidifies the fact that she is still the reigning champion of creepy imagery.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dress Up Make-Up Makes a Comeback

The girls are busy coloring in their "Dress Up Make-Up" books, which means they are both having pretend conversations between the models on each coloring page.  Madeleine took the pretend-play a little TOO far, pushing the limit of what's believable and what's not, when she tried to talk her own models to those in Julia's book.

MADELEINE: (as the models in her book) Hey, girls!  Girls!  Do you want to come see what we're doing?
JULIA: Uh, they live in a different WORLD, Madeleine.
MADELEINE: But Julia.  I want your girls to come see what MY girls are doing.
JULIA: (as her models) Sorry!  We're BUSY.

I foolishly attempted to encourage Julia's models to be a little more compliant.

JULIA: Mom, they're MODELING right now!  They're in JAPAN!

Oh.  Silly me.  Of course they can't take time out of their tea ceremony photo shoot to see Madeleine's models.

Models in Japan.

Now Julia's models are getting catty, as the models on the left side of the page are feeling jealous of the models on the right side of the page.  One of the left-side models is putting up a front about how boring Japan is because she's feeling so envious of the girls doing their Japanese photo shoot on the right side of the page.

RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 1: So, I say this, because I've been to Japan about a THOUSAND times.  People ask me what it's like, but I just say, 'not much.'
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 2: Is it REALLY not much??
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 1: Of course it's not.  All our teacher told us was to try lots of different foods, and different outfits.  Besides.  All we get to wear are SANDALS.  They get to wear PROLLOS.
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 2: What are prollos?
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 1: They're, like, different kinds of shoes, that are brown, red, orange and yellow, and they're VERY comfortable, and you can walk around OUTSIDE in them.
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 2: But...isn't it still COOL?  It can't be THAT bad.
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 1: Oooookay.  It isn't THAT bad.  But, still.  I meant what I said.
RIGHT-SIDE MODEL 2: (with a big, tired sigh) I know.  You meant what you said.

Wow.  You get WAY more than just a simple coloring experience with this book.  Spiteful, nasty models included!

Madeleine is having an entirely different sort of conversation with her models, one that Julia couldn't help but get intrigued by.

MADELEINE: (as Danielle) Doesn't it FEEL like that?  I'm really THRILLING, like to DO it.
JULIA: Why is it THRILLING, Madeleine?
MADELEINE: (as Danielle) Well, I was just REALLY loving it, in my HEART, so that's what makes it feel THRILLING.
ME: Wait, Madeleine, what is she really loving in her heart?
MADELEINE: Ghostes with it.  With her FEELING to it.

As always, Madeleine is speaking with perfect clarity and utmost rational sense.

Danielle thrilling about ghostes.

I finally now have proof that Madeleine lives in her own universe, as today I accidentally disturbed said universe.  Coming into a dark dining room to stretch after finishing a long run, I flicked the light switch on and sat down in the Cobbler's Pose.  Madeleine came running in from the living room to reprimand me.

MADELEINE: Mama!  Wait!  I want this to be a UNIVERSE!  And the universe is DARK!
ME: Oh.  Sorry.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  Why did you want to MESS UP my universe?

I had no good answer for her.  How could I not have realized that a dark dining room was supposed to be a universe?  Where was my brain?  Maybe I was mentally off in Japan, aka in a different WORLD, with Julia's models.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

End of Kindergarten!

Julia is officially done with school for the year!  I can't believe how quickly kindergarten flew by.

1st day of school, September 2012

Last day of school, June 2013.

Among the many things Julia has brought home at the end of the school year are a book of kindergarten memories:

Yes, she gave each child on the cover a first and last name.  Max Meywell, Abby Cyrctin, Addin Rown, and May Mrteln.  The creative forces are at work even when it comes to coloring in pre-printed people.

On the first page inside the book, Julia listed some facts about herself, including her favorite things.  Some MAJOR things have changed since the fall:

For one, MOVE OVER, PINK!  Tropicl vilot is the new favorite color in the house!  And gone are the days of mac 'n cheese being Julia's favorite food.  It's now cees casadiya all the way, baby!
She holds strong with babby bunnys being her favorite animal, however.  I'm not really sure what a babby bunny is, though.  Is it a BABY babby rabbit?  Isn't the idea of a baby bunny redundant?  It's kind of like saying a baby infant.  Anyway...

School may be over, but the journal writing continues.  Julia made sure to sit down, of her own accord, and write an entry in her June journal for today:

"Today is my last day of schoole.  nexe yere I will be in frist grade.  I met my techer.  I can't wate to go."

I'm thinking we're going to have a very productive and prolific summer...

Meanwhile, Madeleine continues to deeply question the important things in life.  An excerpt from her bedtime babbles this evening as I attempted to extricate myself from her snuggling clutches:

MADELEINE:  But Mama?  Why is it too FULL when me and Julia are BOTH on your lap?
ME: Well, because it just gets too heavy.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  Julia SQUISHES me when she sits on ME.  And when DADDY sits on me too, then I'm too FULL.
ME: Mmm-hmm.
MADELEINE: Mama.  Daddy is the jelly, and me and Julia are the peanut butter, and...and...and...I mean...Julia is the peanut butter, and I'm the...the...the...I'm the BUTTER, and you're the BREAD!
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: So why does that make you too FULL?
ME: Well, it's just too heavy.
MADELEINE: Because you're afraid I'm gonna fall off you and hit my head and get HURT?

Yes, Madeleine.  That is EXACTLY why I don't want everyone in the house piled on top of me.  Right on the money, as always.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Sickness

Poor Ethan the birthday boy got an unexpected gift for his b-day this year: the Rowe household germs. He is the last to fall victim to a horrible bronchial cold with fever that we Rowe ladies have all passed around, making today less of a celebratory day and more of a laid-up-on-the-couch day.  He hadn't planned to take the day off from work, since Julia still has school and we figured we'd celebrate with dinner out tonight, but instead he is home taking a sick day.

Madeleine didn't let Ethan's sickness or need to sleep deter her from a bright and early rising this morning, however.  Clambering onto our bed, she began chattering happily at me about every subject under the sun.  Perhaps the best bit of conversation was about her big toe hangnail:

MADELEINE: (picking at her toe) Mama?  What IS this thing that I'm picking?  It's kinda like a HANGNAIL.
ME: (sleepily) Mmmmmm.
MADELEINE: Hey Mama!  We're all BUSY!  I'm busy picking, and you're busy SLEEPING, and...Julia's busy SNORING, and...Daddy's busy...LAYING!

In other words: everyone else is trying to sleep and you're busy yapping at us.

A moment later, Madeleine second-guessed her proclamation.

MADELEINE: But Mama?  Is picking your hangnail BUSY?

Once everyone had risen, Julia scrambled upstairs to get Ethan the birthday gift she had made and wrapped for him.  This gift was a special daughter-daddy gift in honor of the "Chronicles of Prydain" series that Ethan had read to Julia.  The Prydain books are as follows:

#1 The Book of Three
#2 The Black Cauldron
#3 The Castle of Llyr
#4 Taran Wanderer
#5 The High King

Well, the chronicles stop at book 5 no longer!  Here is the long-awaited sixth book of the series:

Taran Hero
by Julia Rowe

Ethan read this non-stop action-packed chapter book aloud to us as we sat around the breakfast table:

Julia had filled each page with text, with no pictures, in order to make it as authentic as possible.  Here are some of the best excerpts from the text:

Chapter 1: Someone Gone
Taran cood not sleep.  He couldn't evin remembre the last badle he was in.  He disidid to find Gurgi but when he got to Gurgi's bedroom he was not thar.  Taran gaspt.  In a flash, Taran jumpt on Melinios.  "Go to the woods" sade Taran.  "We must find Gurgi befor dusck.  Wate I know.  Ffludder and Llyan will hlep us find Gurgi."  Taran cood here Gurgi shoting.  "Oh kindly master, Gurgi is stuck in a tree with grat ackings and brakings oh kindly master, plese save Gurgi's pow tendre head."

Chapter 2: The Trap
"Grat Belin, a cajd egle!"  "Yes a cajd egle!"  The companions wor so bisy toking they wokt into a trap.  "What is this?" sade Taran.  "Great Belin, its a trap."  Then a figyre walkt ovre to them.  "Hello my name is Loow.  What are you dwing in a fishing trap?"  "We walkt into it.  Can you hlep us out?"  "Yes I will and I will lend you warm fire.  We have vary little food here but fish, crab and lobstre so we cech them in a fishing trap.  We need all of the food we can get."  "We shall leve arly in the morn.  A Flam nevre givs up."  Taran cood still here Gurgi caling for hlep.  "Ffluder we need to go now.  We can not chrust this man."  "Then we shall take are leev old friend.  We shall leev.  We need to and agen, a Flam nevre gives up."

In other Julia writing news, yesterday she took home her kindergarten portfolio with all of her writing work from beginning of school year to end.  I can't believe what a long way she's come at kindergarten spelling since the good old "rlcr" days:

Not to mention the good old backwards "s" and shaky lower-case letter days:

Even Julia found it funny when I read aloud her attempts at spelling from back in January:

"I went to a papi show.  I soe a wich at the papit shoe."

Some of her latest journal entries had to do with Ethan and I:

And then there was a non-fiction story that she wrote, all about the time, a few years ago, that we took a train into Boston to watch Ethan run in the corporate challenge:

The Best Rase
by Julia Rowe

"I whent to Bostin to see my dad rase and I was so exitid!"

"I stud in the rode and I cherd for him."

"After he finishit we had diner thar and I was so happy."

I think Ethan is truly honored to be the subject of Julia's non-fiction writing.

Hooray for a great year of progress, Julia!
Happy Birthday, Ethan!  Go DAD!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kindergarten Party

Today was Julia's class End-of-Year celebration, and Madeleine and I had the honor of attending.  The kindergarten class performed two songs for their families, and we got to watch a slide show of each child at his or her favorite activity, complete with a recording of each child reporting his or her favorite kindergarten memory.

I never, ever thought I was going to be one of those moms who cried at her kid's end-of-kindergarten party.

But I thought wrong.  Watching this sweet little group of precious, innocent-faced little kindergarten kids singing together pushed my emotional barometer totally out of whack, and there I was, a teary-eyed fool smiling maniacally as I watched their charming little performance.

Clearly, Julia was much calmer and less emotionally invested in the whole ordeal than I was:

My little stoic.

At any rate, the whole thing was absolutely adorable and surprisingly moving.  In addition to performing for the parents, the kids each stood up and showed us their "graduation self-portrait," on which they had written their career plans for the future.  Each child announced his or her dream job, and there was a great array of ambitions.  One child wants to be a paleontologist, another a pianist, another a doctor, another a scientist.  There were several aspiring artists and ballerinas, and one little boy announced that when he grows up he wants to be a kindergarten teacher, as well as open an orphanage.

Julia held fast and firm to her early school-year declaration:

"When I grow up I want to be a waitress."

Dream big, Julia!

After the whole presentation, the kindergarteners and families were invited outside for popsicles, and the kindergarten class was, at long last, allowed to play on the BIG KID PLAYGROUND instead of being restricted to the kindergarten playground.  

Madeleine celebrated the whole big kid theme by peeing in her underwear while we were outside and subsequently gimping along across the woodchips to try and prevent the pee from leaking down her bare legs.

After I took Madeleine inside to the bathroom to do as much pee-wiping as possible, I brought her back outdoors to play for about two minutes before the kindergarteners were called back inside.  Madeleine was dumbfounded when I told her it was time for us to go home.

MADELEINE: But Mama.  When are we going to go to Julia's PARTY?

I guess watching a bunch of kindergarten kids sing and then playing outside for a few minutes didn't cut it as a party, in her humble opinion.

At any rate, I still have another trick up my sleeve to boost Madeleine's mood, as I'm planning to take the kids to swim at our newly-opened town pool after school, so hopefully that will be more exciting to her than the kindergarten party.  As long as it doesn't thunderstorm, and as long as Madeleine manages to NOT pee in her bathing suit, it should be a more successful outing!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Drawing Girls and Barbequeing

This morning, Julia decided she wanted to color in Madeleine's "Draw a Face" book, but was deterred by the fact that there was only one blank face remaining to be colored.  Since Madeleine has not even set her eyes on this coloring book in months, I assured Julia that it was okay for her to color the last page.  Being Julia, she felt she needed the extra reassurance from Madeleine in order to go forward.

JULIA: Madeleine?  Is it okay if I color this face even though it's the LAST FACE in the book?
MADELEINE: (obliviously coloring in a different book)
ME: Hey, Madeleine, it's okay if Julia colors this face, right?
JULIA: Even though it's the LAST ONE in this book?
MADELEINE: (gazing up with mild interest) Uh... (suddenly springing out of her chair) Uh, I want to color it WITH you!
JULIA: No, Madeleine!  I wanted to do it by MYSELF!

I cut things off there and sent them upstairs with Ethan to photocopy the blank face so that they could both color a face.  Ethan wisely made twenty copies, many of which were used.  The girls created characters with names AND ages.  Here is a sample of the girls they drew:

 Addy, age 16, by Julia

Rabecka, age 16, by Julia

JULIA: Uh, Mama, I felt like these girls really should have EARRINGS, so I thought that maybe they should be older, like SIXTEEN, so the other girls, I thought I should make younger, like THIRTEEN.

 Beckie, age 13, by Julia

Emiline, age 13, by Julia

Olivia, age 1, by Madeleine

Madeleine also drew a girl who was actually a mummy, thanks to the episode of "Pound Puppies" the girls watched this morning with a mummy that comes to life.  I asked Madeleine if I could take a picture of her mummy girl, who was named "Mum":

MADELEINE: Here we aaaaare!  Take a picture of me and Mum!

Like in the household puppet show, Madeleine didn't seem to get the idea that if she didn't face Mum towards me, I couldn't actually see the drawing.

So I took another one after Mum was laying flat on the table.  She's not creepy AT ALL:
Mum the mummy, age 2, by Madeleine (who also wrote "Mum" in lower case letters on this page, because she only wants to write lower case now, like Julia.)

In other news, we had our long awaited barbeque today, and the girls had a great time getting wet, wild, and covered in sand/dirt with their friends:

Madeleine set the new record for highest frequency of baths in one week in the Rowe household, after she climbed out of the inflatable pool and subsequently let Anja bury her body in the sandbox, finishing off the night with bath #6 for the week.  Our tub was so full of sand that even with the drain unplugged and the water running continuously throughout the whole washing, there were pools of sand all over the inside of the tub even after I tried to guide them down the drain with my hands.

After stepping out of the tub, Madeleine took notice of our friend Mark (one of two Marks who was at the barbeque tonight), who had come into the kitchen to help load leftovers into our fridge.

MARK: Hey, Madeleine.  How was your bath?
MADELEINE: Good.  But Mama?  Who is THAT GUY over there?!?
ME: That's Mark.  You know, Loula and Will's daddy.  Can you go say hi to Mark?
MARK: Hi Madeleine!
MADELEINE: (standing stark naked, staring at Mark) But...but...but...doesn't it look silly that there's TWO MARKS? (holding out two fingers and nearly poking Mark in the eyes.)

Marks number one and two have since left, along with all the other adults and kiddos, and Madeleine is now zonked in her bed.  Julia, on the other hand, has forgotten all about "Docking Dicks" and the fun with her friends, and is now back to being afraid of the mummy from "Pound Puppies."

So it goes...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

We're Having a BBQ

The school year is almost over, summer has begun, and Ethan's birthday is coming up next week.  To celebrate all of the above, we Rowes decided to invite some family friends over for a barbeque tomorrow afternoon.  Ethan is busy washing off chairs and backyard toys after leaving them latent all winter, I have been baking desserts, and Julia has been hard at work making some special party decor:

*Just in case* our near and dear friends aren't aware whose house they are at when they arrive tomorrow...

Meanwhile, Madeleine decided to be my little baking helper, also offering her constructive criticism as we went along.  Because I was distracted by Madeleine's attempts to be a little TOO helpful, I accidentally pulled a Rachel from "Friends" and started off with one recipe, only to accidentally flip to another recipe.  When I realized that I had made this mistake, I loudly lamented my goof-up, then decided to throw together the rest of the ingredients for the second recipe, bake it, then start afresh with the correct recipe I had initially intended upon.  Madeleine made sure to show her distrust of my competence after my big recipe swap, periodically asking me things like, "So Mama.  Are you sure you did the right recipe this time?"  and "Well Mama.  WHY did you do the WRONG RECIPE?"  Her commentary was also seasoned with remarks about my accidental addition of egg-shell to the batter, despite the fact that I had promptly removed it.  "So Mama.  Why did you get an EGG-SHELL in there and then you got it out?"  "Mama?  How come GROWN-UPS get an EGG-SHELL in there?"

Madeleine in the Peanut Gallery

Julia is anxiously awaiting the chance to see her friends at tomorrow's bbq, although she has quite a conundrum to work out: because she has ongoing pretend-play games with BOTH Nate and Jovina, she can't decide which game she wants to organize tomorrow.  As she puts it, "Well, I don't even KNOW which thing I want to play, because, like, BOTH games are so FUN."  Here's a quick description of both, in case any of you readers can steer her in one particular direction.

Game #1 is a game she and Nate created some months back, called "Miss."  I think I have mentioned "Miss" in previous posts, but to refresh your memories, it's a game in which Nate and Julia (and any other kids who want to play) are spies, trying to outsmart the infamous Miss.  Miss is annoying because she calls the police department OVER and OVER with completely ridiculous things to say, so Nate and Julia are stuck answering her millions of calls.

Doesn't that sound like a barrel of laughs?  I can't imagine what would be more fun than a game in which the players are forced to answer imaginary, annoying phone calls.

Game #2 is one that Jovina and Julia played, along with Wyatt, Madeleine and Quinn, last time we had them over.  Julia refers to this particular game as "Docking Dicks."  As we walked home from school a few days ago, Julia loudly and excitedly argued the pros of both games, and what a dilemma it was to try and figure out which one she wanted to play.  "Well, I like playing 'Miss,' because, like, it's so FUNNY when Miss keeps calling, but..." (at this point we were walking directly by a neighbor's house, with several household members out in their yard in plain earshot) "I really do LOVE to play 'DOCKING DICKS' because that's what Jovina and I were doing last time, going around with our DOCKING DICKS and our DUTCHES."

Hey, there, neighbors.  My kindergartener is just talking about dicks, no biggie.

A few more sentences about "Docking Dicks" clarified exactly what the docking dicks are.  "We need our DOCKING DICKS and our DUTCHES dedause dour DEAN DOTHER deeps DURNING DOWN DOUR DOUSE."

Despite her pros and pros lists, Julia still couldn't come to a decision.  It's a tough choice, man.  "Miss" or "Docking Dicks."  I can't say I could pick between the two, myself.

Since the girls have also decided that part of their efforts to help us get ready for tomorrow is to make a huge, enormous mess out of our house, they have already been in and out of several dress-up outfits today, and recently took my yoga mat up to the living room from the basement to put on a dance show.  It was absolutely insisted upon that I sit in the audience while the girls performed a brand new kind of dance, made up by Julia.  This new dance is called "Powaiahum" (my best approximation of its spelling; it was pronounced like "po-why-a-hoom"), and let me tell you, IT. WAS. AWESOME.  Totally the next new dance craze.  Nothing like watching two girls in leotards flapping around on a yoga mat, occasionally bonking into each other, or getting a butt to the face, or falling over and thumping onto the ground.  I'm sure Julia would be willing to teach some Powaiahum classes for any of you who want to learn:

Powaiahum dancers

And now that the girls are outside "helping" Ethan clean the backyard stuff (aka running around in bathing suits spraying each other with the hose), I am off to attempt to clean up the endless piles of indoor stuff...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Madeleine Conversations

Bedtime conversation with Madeleine:

MADELEINE: Mama?  How can birds with NO WINGS fly?
ME: Well, birds without wings couldn't fly.  A bird needs its wings to fly.
MADELEINE: Well COULD, if you put HELIUM in it!
ME: It could float if you put helium in it.  But to fly, you need wings.  The only things that can fly have wings, like a plane has wings, and birds have wings, and some kinds of bugs have wings.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  What ELSE has wings?
ME: Well, a bat has wings.
MADELEINE: And OWLS have wings!
ME: Right, owls can fly, too.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  Why does a squirrel have a BIG thing that looks like wings that's just a TAIL?
ME: Well, there is such thing as a flying squirrel.
MADELEINE:  What a heck?!?  A flying SQUIRREL?!?
ME: Yes, there's an animal called a flying squirrel.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  A flying squirrel sounds like it's NOT REALLY REAL.
ME: It is real.  We can look at pictures on my computer tomorrow.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  Why are squirrels scared of PEOPLE because people are so BIG?
ME: Well, because compared to a squirrel, people kind of look like giants.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  Why are dinosaurs MEAT-EATERS?
ME: Some are meat-eaters.  A T-Rex is a meat-eater.  But some others, like the brachiosaurus - the dinosaur with the long, long neck - would eat plants or leaves off of trees, just like a giraffe.
MADELEINE: Well Mama. I know WHAT kind of animal would be a meat-eater: a LION!
ME: Yup, that's right.
MADELEINE: But...birds are NOT meat-eaters.
ME: Right.
(unless they are carrion scavengers...)

Conversation with Madeleine while I showered at the Y and she sat on a bench outside the stall:

MADELEINE: So Mama?  What names am I going to have for MY kids when I grow up to be a mommy?
ME: Well, that's up to you.  What names do you think you'd like to give your kids?  Do you have any favorite names?
ME: Uh, yeah, I guess Bubbles can be a name.
MADELEINE: Is Glitter a name?
ME: What?  Is River a name?
ME: Uh, no, Glitter is not a real name.
MADELEINE: Is RIVER a real name?
ME: Yes, it is.
MADELEINE: Mama.  Is SHOWER a real name?
ME: Nope.

So I guess that narrows it down to Bubbles and River as my future grandchildren...

Conversation with Madeleine at home:

MADELEINE: (drawing in the air with her pointer finger) Okay, so, Mama.  Guess what I DRAWED?
ME: I don't know.  What?
MADELEINE: No, guess!
ME: Uh, a mermaid?
ME: A butterfly?
MADELEINE: Nope.  Mama, I'll give you a hint.  It has WAVES.
ME: ocean?
MADELEINE: (delighted) Yes!!  (air-drawing again) Okay, NOW what did I drawed?
ME: Um...a mermaid?
ME: A butterfly?
ME: A bird?
MADELEINE: (gleeful) Yes!!  (air-drawing again and poking her fingers on the walls) Okay, Mama, guess what I drawed that makes DOTS and LINES?
ME: I have no idea.
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama, can you say "Hands?"
ME: Hands?
MADELEINE: (overjoyed) Yes!!  (resuming the air-drawing) Okay, Mama, now guess what I drawed?
ME: Uh...a mermaid?
ME: Can you give me a hint?
MADELEINE: Uh, no.  No HINTS on this drawing.
ME: butterfly?
MADELEINE: Okay Mama.  I'll give you a hint.  It's something who has a cousin that's DIEGO.
ME: Dora?
MADELEINE: (beaming) YES!!

I stunk at that game.  I needed a hint on every drawing.  If only she had drawn a mermaid or a butterfly,  I would have been right on the money.  But also, to be fair, her air "drawings" were about as useful as her "So Julia.  Guess what I'm thinking about?" game.

Conversation with Madeleine after reading her a bedtime story about a mommy mouse who tells her baby mouse how much she loves him:

ME: Madeleine, did you know that this book was a present for you from Cynthia?  She gave it to you when you turned one!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I don't think it was my birthday present.
ME: It was!  This is the book Cynthia gave you for your first birthday.  Isn't that sweet?  What a nice story, huh?
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I just don't like that...that...that...that OLD BORING book that has TWO MOUSES in it.

Oh.  Okay.  Way to tell it like it is, Madeleine.  Beware, future shoppers of Madeleine's birthday gifts: she won't be afraid to shut them down if they're old and boring.

And, finally, Madeleine's explanation for why she couldn't wear her white sandals this morning when we were heading out to drop Julia off at school:

ME: Okay, Madeleine, come here and get your sandals on.
MADELEINE: (on the verge of panic) Uh, no, Mama!  NOT my sandals!  I need shoes that are ROYALTY!
ME: Well, get SOMETHING on your feet and do it quickly.
MADELEINE: (running up to her room to grab her sparkly pink dress shoes)
ME: Okay, quick, put them on!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  Do you know WHY I needed shoes that are ROYALTY?  Because I'm a PRINCESS in my dress.  So Mama.  Do these shoes look like ROYALTY?
ME: They sure do.  C'mon, let's get out the door.

Princess Madeleine, in her royalty

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

McKenna Shoots for the Stars

Last night, the girls re-watched the American Girl movie "McKenna Shoots for the Stars," which always gets them into a gymnastics-y mood.  I had already forewarned them that this wasn't going to be one of those McKenna watchings in which they dress up in leotards and thump around the living room attempting to pull off McKenna's gymnastics tricks, so the kids were stuck expressing their gymnastics obsession in a different way.  Julia quickly got to work on the following drawings:

Take a good look at the second of these pictures.  Somebody ELSE in the family decided to try her hand at a gymnastics drawing, and clearly used Julia's drawing for inspiration:

I find it interesting that Madeleine drew basically the same people, but in opposite order from left to right.  She also accidentally drew the black-haired girl upside down, which caused her to have a momentary freak-out.  "Uh-oh!  WHOOPS!  Mama, I made this HEAD the wrong WAY!" she shouted in a voice of barely-contained panic.  Of course, the solution, in her head, was for me to somehow magically fix the error, because I'm Mommy, and I can do anything, right?  "Uh, Mama, so...can you make the head go the RIGHT WAY?"

If I had a magical eraser that can get rid of any trace of Crayola marker, perhaps I could have helped her.  Even White-Out would have done the trick.  But alas, I had no advice for her besides that of drawing a new head that went the right way.  THANKFULLY, she complied without having a complete and utter panic attack over the imperfection of the upside-down head.

While Julia was off at school today, Madeleine decided to act out the McKenna movie, complete with her sparkly purple leotard that she wears anytime she's a gymnast.  While she pranced around, performing her gymnastics tricks and commanding me to clap whenever a routine was done, I encouraged her to take a gymnastics break and finish her lunch.  She would occasionally pop into the dining room to eat a strawberry slice, but was otherwise disinterested in food, which is not all that unusual.  However, JUST to be on the safe side, I asked, multiple times:

ME: Madeleine?  Do you think you need to poop?
ME: Why don't you go try?
MADELEINE: Uh, I don't need to.  I'm SURE.

You can likely guess where this story is going.  Fifteen or twenty minutes later, while she was being McKenna having play-time at school, chasing a bouncy ball around the dining room, she let out a sudden explosion.

MADELEINE: (sharply) Mama!!  I think I just felt some POOP go in my UNDERWEAR!

The stench alone was proof that she was spot-on in her thinking.  It's always a fun day when Madeleine poops in her pants, but when it's a rocket-like explosion that leaks through her underwear and all over the seat of one of our dress-up outfits, it's EXTRA exciting.

It gives a WHOLE new meaning to the title "McKenna Shoots for the Stars."

Needless to say, the leotard went into the wash, Madeleine went onto the potty, and the gymnastics act was retired for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Poems and More Drawings

Julia continued working on her gentle poems after she got home from school yesterday.  Among the newest additions are:

Comes and Gos

"The days come and the days go.  Sing songs of ocwrd silns."
(That last phrase, for those of you unlearned in kindergarten spelling, is "sing songs of awkward silence.")
Wow.  This is a pretty depressing poem.  It just leaves me with a sense of emptiness and lack of purpose.  The days just continue passing, with nothing but ocwrd silns to sing of.  Just.  WOW.

Find Love

"I will find love someday.  I know I will.  It is the only thing that I cood want."
Okay, this one is a little more hopeful.  I mean, I feel bad for the person whose point of view we're hearing, since (s)he has not yet found love, but at least this isn't just the meaningless passing of time, full of ocwrd silns.  At least this character KNOWS (s)he wants something more out of this life, and is able to look at the days yet to come with confidence that love will be someday be found.

I don't know if I can handle these deep and heavy poems, Julia.

Madeleine has continued with her own artwork, creating this mermaid masterpiece earlier today:

This mermaid is named Pearl, and she has a rainbow tail.  She also has a ponytail, which Madeleine insisted I draw.  The *first* ponytail I drew was completely unacceptable in Madeleine's eyes, hence the big black blob to the left of the mermaid, which was intended to cover up the offensive ponytail.  It kind of looks like some sort of dark demonic shadow that's about to devour the mermaid, but of course, it wouldn't be a Madeleine drawing without SOMETHING dark and creepy in it.

Madeleine also drew a picture inspired by the fact that Julia started a new "Ivy and Bean" book today.  Behold, Madeleine's picture of Ivy and Bean jumping on a trampoline in the forest:

I was pretty impressed with this drawing.  Despite the fact that both Ivy and Bean appear to have at least three eyes apiece, and that Ivy is a hulking, beastly giant who will probably break the trampoline, this is really a pretty good drawing for a kid Madeleine's age.  I was even able to recognize the big black object as a trampoline before Madeleine explained what this was a picture of.

I think Ivy ought to see a doctor about those massively swollen hands, however.

At any rate, Madeleine is, at the moment, bellowing out the words to "Rainbow Connection," with a few added lyrics like, "and that's the CROOOSSS with JEEEEESUS on it!" as she thumps and crashes her ungraceful body around the living room, so I think I'm going to go see if I can convince her to sing songs of ocwrd silns instead...