Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lots of Car Conversations

This morning, when we Rowes left the house to bring Ethan to his church choir rehearsal, it was incredibly foggy out.  Julia seemed fascinated by the fog, while Madeleine was not impressed.

MADELEINE: (fake coughing when we went outside into the foggy morning) EW!  Fog tastes DISGUSTING because I was DRINKING it in my MOUTH!

Man, I hate it when I accidentally drink fog, don't you?

Madeleine wasn't quite done on the subject of her fog-drinking experience.

MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because...tasting fog is EASY.

Ethan decided to riff upon Madeleine statement and began singing the words "Tasting fog is easy" as we drove along down the road.  Julia found it hilarious, asking him if what he was singing was a real song.  Since he was singing Madeleine's words to the melody of one of the movements from Handel's "Messiah," the answer was both no AND yes.  Ethan explained where the melody had come from, and then demonstrated the actual words for Julia.

ETHAN: (singing) His yoke is easy, and his burthen is light...
ME: Are you saying "burthen?"
ETHAN: That's how it's written in my music.  "Burthen."
ME: I always thought it was "burden."
ETHAN: It says "burthen" in my music.
ME: That's weird.  I've never seen it like that.
JULIA: Well, Mommy, people can have different ways to SAY WORDS in different RELIGIONS!

Oh.  I see.  That must be it.  What other explanation for the fact that the score Ethan has at home says "burthen" and the one I used to sing "Messiah" in college said "burden"?? 

After we had dropped Ethan off, I headed back towards our house with the girls.  Julia had a sudden thought after we passed an Aly Raisman sign denoting the border line to our town.

JULIA: How come we didn't have the Olympics this summer?
ME: Because they only happen every four years.
JULIA: What?  Why only every four years?
ME: That's the way the Olympics work.  That's why it's so exciting when they're happening, because we had to wait four years to see them.
JULIA: Really?
ME: Yes.  But this winter, we'll be able to see the Winter Olympics.
JULIA: The Winter Olympics?
ME: Yeah.  Events like skiing, and skating, and hockey.
JULIA: And when are the FALL Olympics?
ME: There are no Fall Olympics.  Only Winter and Summer.
JULIA: And besides, Fall Olympics would probably have events like the Fastest Trick-or-Treater or the Fastest Pumpkin Picker, and it would be PRETTY EASY to pick out your pumpkin really fast!

Yeah.  We all know nobody plays fall sports.  I mean, who cares that I ran cross-country in the fall, or that Ethan was once a fall soccer player?  Those sports don't matter.  Pumpkin picking and trick-or-treating are the sports that REALLY represent the fall season, and those sports kind of lack the hard competitive edge that events like ski racing or gymnastics do.  No WONDER there are no Fall Olympics.

We Rowe girls went home and got ourselves ready for church, then headed back out again to attend our Liturgy.  After the service had ended, Madeleine and I stood waiting by the stairs to the church hall while Julia ran back to the Sunday school classroom to grab some leftover artwork.  Madeleine suddenly noticed the church's trophy case and exclaimed, "Look, Mama!  ARTIFACTS!"

ME: Artifacts?!?  Those are trophies, honey.
MADELEINE: Oh.  They're sooooo beautiful!


Our drive home from church was about twice as long as our drive there, thanks to overwhelming traffic.  Madeleine helpfully conked out in the back seat, while Julia attempted to boost my morale with her brightly optimistic assurances.

ME: Ugh.  It's taking FOREVER to get home.
JULIA: Well, Mom.  I'd rather be stuck here for the whole DAY than be stuck here for the whole WEEK.


JULIA: It's 2:02.  Well Mom.  At least we're not getting home at 2:02 in the MORNING!  That would be even WORSE!


JULIA: Well Mom, maybe it's just because there's so many YARD SALES that the traffic is this bad!

Is it just me, or are my kids just FULL of astute logic today?

At any rate, I am thankful for my cheery little backseat motivational speaker for helping me to keep sane as we made our slow, plodding way home.  At least we didn't get home at 2am, right!?!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adventures in Biking

Today we made some exciting progress in the world of biking!  For the first time, Julia and Madeleine were able to ride their bikes to and from the school whose blacktop we use for biking.  This included riding along the sidewalk, as well as through a path in the woods that connects a nearby street to the school field.

However, the road towards this goal was not an easy one.  We were off to an EXTREMELY rocky start.

Neither girl felt confident about riding along the sidewalk.  Madeleine would at least attempt it so long as I held onto her bike.  (I kept secretly letting go, only to have her exclaim, "But are you still holding it Mama?  Mama!  Mama!  I need you to HOLD ONTO MY BIKE!") 

Julia was absolutely panic-stricken.  She managed to face her fears and give it a whirl, and all was going well until we approached an intersection with another street (which happens to be a quiet cul-de-sac with very little traffic.)  Petrified by terror, Julia simply could not face the idea of riding across the intersection. 

Thus began the circus of embarassing ridiculousness that we put on for the neighborhood.  It all started with Julia having a screaming melt-down in the middle of the sidewalk about how she's not READY to try riding across an intersection yet.  I was sympathetic, but had already crossed the intersection while holding onto Madeleine's bike.  Ethan attempted to persuade Julia to head back to the house with him so they could practice on the sidewalks in front of our home first.  Julia couldn't think straight for terror and stood there wailing, only to eventually dart across the intersection and into my arms while Ethan walked home with her bike.  I then began shouting Ethan's name over and over again, while both kids wailed over the fact that Daddy was going away.

Julia eventually returned home with Ethan to try riding circuits around the house, down the driveway, around the front sidewalk, and back around the house.  Madeleine and I made our way towards the school, only to have Madeleine suddenly decide she simply couldn't go on without her sister.  We then stood a block further from where the last screaming fit had occurred, while Madeleine screeched the name of her sister over and over and tried to whistle (which meant she let out a series of shrill vocalizations that she thinks are akin to whistling.)  Madeleine finally concluded we should just go back home and get Julia, only to have Ethan and Julia begin heading down the sidewalk towards the school as we reached the driveway.  Next sobbing melt-down came from Madeleine over the fact that "They're going WITHOUUUUUT UUUUSSSS!"

After Madeleine and I had crossed the street and caught up to Daddy and Julia, Madeleine was suddenly too afraid to ride her own bike on the sidewalk.  As if all of the screaming, shouting and whistling hadn't been enough of a show for the neighbors, I then wound up trying to ride Madeleine's toddler-sized Hello Kitty bicycle with training wheels, stopping at the initial intersection to let several cars pull out onto the road.  I can't even imagine what they must have thought of me.  Hi, neighbors!  Don't mind me!  I'm just trying to get my kid's bike over to the school and it's too hard to drag it along next to me!

At any rate, we actually managed to get both kids to try riding on their own for the remainder of the trip to the school, and lo and behold, they did it!  In fact, when I suggested they try riding through the woodland path connecting to the school, I learned that they were not the inexperienced novices they appeared to be.

JULIA: But Mama!  It's too bumpy in there!
ME: It's really not.  It's a paved path so it's pretty smooth.
JULIA: No,when I tried riding it the other day, it was too bumpy!

Huh?  The other day?  Oh, so it turns out they took their bikes to the school with their baby-sitter a few days ago, and hadn't bothered to mention that.  So how was it they were acting terrified to try this out with Ethan and I?  Had their sitter just carried their bikes or something?

ME: Madeleine, how did you get your bike to the school the other day when you guys went while I was at work?
MADELEINE: Oh.  I just RIDED it.

Huh.  Okay.  I was totally not buying any further protests from either kid about trying to ride the rest of the way to the school.  And wouldn't you know it, they were both successfully able to ride on their own through the woods, arriving at the school and riding contentedly around the blacktop for awhile:

As we had been exiting the forest path into the school field, I trotted behind Madeleine and announced, "Great riding Madeleine!"

Boy, was she quick to correct me.

ME: Oh.  Great riding, Emily.
MADELEINE: (cheerfully) Yeah.  Because...I'm being EMILY in this GAME!

See, that's what mixed me up in the first place.  I hadn't been aware that we were playing a game.  I thought we were just riding bikes to the school.  I'm just way too slow on the uptake here, I guess.

After awhile, the girls got tired of biking and decided to play an elaborate game on the playground.  I lucked out and got to sit on a bench near the play structure while Ethan played a lead role in the whole pretend-play ordeal.  Therefore, I'm not entirely sure what was going on, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and take a guess that it was some sort of Harry Potter theme.  Especially with clues like this to give it away.

MADELEINE: (from behind the bars of their pretend jail) HEELP!  HEEELP!  I'm locked in JAIL!
ME: Julia, Madeleine's in jail!  She needs help!
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama, did you mean HERMIONE?
ME: Hermione, Emily is in jail!  She needs help!
JULIA: (running over to free Madeleine)
MADELEINE: Oh, no!  Peter Pettigrew locked me in jail AGAIN!  HEEEELP!

Boy did I dodge a bullet in not being invited to play in that one. 

After we finished up at the playground, the girls rode around on bikes for awhile, and then we headed home, with both girls biking their own way!  I got a little bit of very wobbly video, as I was attempting to record and walk at the same time, but here are the girls closing in on the home stretch before our house:

Great biking, Hermione and Emily!  I guess you WERE ready after all!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fun With Math

Yesterday, among the papers in Julia's school folder, I found a "School-Home Connection" math sheet meant for parents.  I read through the various concepts the kids have been learning in math over the past few weeks, and read through the suggested "Family Fun" math activities to try at home.  I thought that perhaps the "What's My Number?" game would be fun, and decided to give it a whirl on our walk home from school this afternoon.  The basic instructions, as listed on the math sheet, are as follows:

"Work with your child to identify a mystery number.  One player thinks of a number from 0 to 10.  The other player asks yes/no questions to discover the mystery number.  Here are some sample questions.  'Is the number less than 5?'  'Is the number greater than 2?'  'Is the number 4?'  Try to find the mystery number with the fewest questions."

So, I proposed this game to the kids as we were walking home, and announced that I had a number selected in my head and that I was ready for them to begin asking questions.  And man, did the kids hit the ball out of the park.

Round 1

JULIA: Okay.  Um...does it have CORNERS?
ME: Uh, no.
JULIA: Is it shaped like...
ME: Well, try to ask less about the shape of the number, and more about the number itself, like as a math number.
JULIA: Okay.  Is it bigger than EIGHT?
ME: No.
JULIA: Can you count by twos to get to it?
ME: Yes.
JULIA: Is it bigger than four?
ME: Yes.
JULIA: Is it...FIVE?
ME: Can you count by twos to get to five??
ME: So it can't be five, right?
JULIA: Is it six?
ME: Yes!
JULIA: Mommy.  *I'm* six!

Round 2

JULIA: Okay, I'm ready!
ME: Is it an odd number?
ME: Is it less than five?
ME: Is it less than three?
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: But Maaaaama!  I didn't get to ask a question!
ME: Okay.  Ask one.
MADELEINE: Uh, is it smaller than ten?
ME: Julia?
JULIA: (galloping with a faraway look in her eyes)
ME: Julia, is it smaller than ten?
JULIA: Mommy, you already GUESSED it!
ME: I know.  But Madeleine wants a turn to ask a question.
JULIA: It's smaller than ten.
JULIA: (rolling her eyes) Yessssss.

Round 3

ME: Okay, Madeleine, your turn.  Think of a number and then tell me when you're ready.
ME: Shh.  Don't tell us the number.  We have to try and guess it.
MADELEINE: But I want it to be two.
ME: Okay, but now we know that, so you need to pick a new number and NOT tell us.
MADELEINE: But please, Mama?  Can it be two?
ME: Uh, okay, fine.
ME: Is it bigger than six?
ME: Is it smaller than three?
ME: Is it bigger than one?
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: (delighted) YES!

Round 4

ME: Okay, I'm ready.
MADELEINE: Mama!  I want to ask a question!
ME: Okay.  Go ahead
ME: Well, don't make a guess yet.  Ask me a question.
MADELEINE: Is it like the shape of a six?
ME: It's not like the shape of a six.  Julia, your turn to ask a question.
JULIA: Pass.
ME: Julia.  This is a math exercise that YOUR teacher suggested we do at home.  YOU are the important person here.  YOU need to be playing the game.
JULIA: Fine.  Is it less than ten?
ME: Yes.
JULIA: Is it more than one?
ME: Yes.
JULIA: Is it nine?

It was, in fact, nine, but I wasn't happy with her lackadaisical attempt at figuring out the number.  Given that the number must be BETWEEN one and ten, the chances are *pretty* high that the number is both more than one and less than ten.  Unless it is either one or ten, the number is gonna fall within that range.

Round 5

JULIA: I'm ready.
ME: Is it an odd number?
JULIA: Um...I forget what odd numbers are.
ME: If it's an odd number, it means you can't count to it by twos.
JULIA: Um...uh...YES.
ME: Okay.  Is it bigger than five?
ME: Is it less than nine?
ME: Is it seven?
JULIA: Nope.
ME: Um.  I thought it was an odd number.
JULIA: (shrugging) I don't know.
ME: Is it six?
ME: Okay.  That's not an odd number.  Can you get to six if you start at zero and count by twos?
ME: Okay.  So it's not an odd number.

Round 6

ME: Okay, Madeleine, it's your turn to think of a number, but just think it inside your head.  Don't tell us this time.
ME: Are you ready?
ME: Is it bigger than five?
ME: Is it smaller than four?
ME: Is it smaller than three?
ME: (groaning inwardly) Is it bigger than one?
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: (delighted) YES!

Madeleine then proceeded to "think" of two for her next two turns, and then when she had another, the exchange went something like this.

MADELEINE: Okay!  I'm ready!
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: Mama!  Stop!  Don't SAY it.  Ask a QUESTION!
ME: Is it smaller than three?
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: Stop saying TWO Mama!
ME: Okay.  Is it bigger than one?
ME: Is it two?
MADELEINE: Mama!  Stop SAYING two!  Don't just keep SAYING two!
ME: Honey, that's my guess.  Is it two?
MADELEINE: No, stop SAYING two!  You have to ask questions!

Big, long sigh.

So, what do you all think?  I think the math lesson was a smashing success, don't you?  I mean, could these kids be more naturally gifted in math or what?!?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Some of the various tidbits Julia has shared about school lately:


JULIA: Mom?  So, at school, we were talking about FEELINGS, and we all had to name different kinds of feelings.
ME: And what did you say?

Of course she did.  After all, it's one of her most familiar feelings; poor kiddo!


JULIA: So Mom, today I got two Instant Stickers!
ME: Great!  What did you get them for?
JULIA: For doing what I was SUPPOSED to be doing.
ME: And what was it you were supposed to be doing?
JULIA: Writing in our daily journal.  We had to write about our favorite character.
ME: Let me guess.  You chose Hermione Granger??
JULIA: (breaking into a broad smile) Yesssss!
ME: What did you write about her?
JULIA: Well, I don't really KNOW why I love Hermione Granger so much, I just really really love her, so, like, I just wrote: "My favorite character is Hermione Granger because she follows ALL the RULES."

Just like someone else I know, who happened to earn two Instant Stickers for that very thing.


JULIA: For our daily journal, we have to copy the words that are on the Smart Board, then WRITE something about it.
ME: What were today's words?
JULIA: It was "my family is..."
ME: And what did you write?
JULIA: I wrote: "my family is mostly all Greek.  My dad isn't, but my mom and my sister and me are."

(Now, granted she and Madeleine are only 25% Greek, but, hey, we Griks take pride in any aspect of our Grikness!)

And finally, a conversation I had with Madeleine this evening after I sang to her at bedtime:

MADELEINE: Mama?  What does it mean that someone can't HEAR?
ME: Well, what are you thinking of?
MADELEINE: On "Little Bill" there's a girl and her name is ANGELA and Little Bill says she can't HEAR.
ME: Well, in that case, that means that her ears don't work right, so she can't hear any sounds.  When someone can't hear, it's called being deaf. 
MADELEINE: So if someone is deaf, that means they don't have any EARS?
ME: No, people who are deaf have ears, it's just that their ears don't work right, so they can't hear people talking, or noises, or music.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I get mixed up with...with...with...(repeatedly touching her eyes)
ME: With what it's called when your eyes don't work?
ME: When your eyes don't work, that's called being blind.  If someone is totally blind, they can't see anything at all.  Everything is just blackness, even when their eyes are open, because they can't see anything.
MADELEINE: Well, I'm only black to my FACE, because...I can't SEE my own FACE, so my face looks BLACK to me.  I can only see OTHER peoples' faces.

As usual, Madeleine hits the nail on the head and shows off her stunningly solid grasp of the way the world works.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Madeleine Sings and Plays

When Madeleine got home from school today, she was in a musical mood.  As she stumbled across the instructions to our "Very Hungry Caterpillar" game, she was suddenly inspired by song.  Or, I should say, she was inspired to have someone ELSE sing her the song that was inaudible inside her own head.

MADELEINE: Mama.  Okay.  So: sing "Oh I love green things."
ME: Oh, I love green things.
MADELEINE: No, Mama.  SING it!
ME: (making up a tune) Oh, I love green thiiiiiings...
MADELEINE: No.  Mama!  That's NOT how it goes.  Here Mama.  I'll sing it.  (breaking into melody) Oh, I love green thiiiiiings.  My teddy bear jumps, jumps, jumps, my...(speaking) uh, Mama,'s called "Oh I love BROWN things."  (breaking back into song) Oh, I love brown thiiiiings.  My teddy bear jumps, jumps, jumps!  Chocolate ice cream and caaaaake, oh, my teddy bear spins around, my teddy bear runs, runs, runs... (speaking) Okay.  So Mama.  Sing what you just HEARD.

Needless to say, my efforts were a big flop.

Before I knew it, Madeleine's singing game had turned into a giant to-do, in which I was commanded requested to sit in "the crowd" while she performed for me.  Her first song was "Bungalow Bill," but there was an itty-bitty problem: she had no recollection of how the song goes.  Instead of just choosing another, she made me feed her line by line, which she then sang back to me.  Now THAT'S how a superstar works in concert!

Next up was "Joy to the World."  I even managed to record it so watch this show-stopper!:

Once she was all sung out, Madeleine moved onto a game involving a bat and Julia's ginormous dentist balloon.  Little Bat was looking for her mommy, but Little Bat's mommy doesn't LOVE her.  The evidence is plain: Little Bat's mommy won't let her wear the outfits that Little Bat wants to wear.  So Little Bat somehow got lost from her mom and is now trying to find her, but she can't fly, because bats can ONLY fly when they're with their mommies.  Little Bat hitched a ride on Julia's balloon and set off in search of her mommy, but she encountered some adversity along the way.  Not only did she fall off the balloon and plunge to the ground, but there was a big windstorm that blew the balloon away, taking Little Bat even FARTHER from her destination.  Luckily, Madeleine called in an invisible Diego to help save the day. 

MADELEINE: Mommy!  Diego thought that I was an ANIMAL!
ME: What kind of animal?
ME: What did Diego do??
MADELEINE: He just...the ball was clearing the way so he could see me, and then he saw me because I was EMILY, and I was a person.  So he saw me RIGHT when I was EXPECTING he could do it!  And he DID it, and he ran OFF to me, and I called him because I needed him, and I didn't want to say "aiuda me," because that was more OUTSIDE.

Makes perfect sense, no?

At any rate, Madeleine concluded her game with a lesson on how to handle a bat that I hope she realizes should NEVER, EVER actually be done on a real bat:

MADELEINE: So, Mama.  Here's what you do.  You just put your hand RIGHT OVER the bat's MOUTH.
ME: Well, Madeleine, do you know you should NEVER touch a bat's mouth, because it could bite you?
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  You just do it very GENTLY.

No, no you don't.  Unless you're looking to dabble a bit with rabies.

At any rate, Little Bat is now happily taking a rest, having ditched the plan to find her mother, and cozying up instead with her human hosts.  A happy ending for all!

Little Bat

Monday, September 23, 2013

Games and More

Mixed in among the bags of hand-me-down clothes the girls recently received were a slew of toys and board games.  I managed to sneak some of the toys into a box for donations when Ethan last went to the Town Transfer Station, but the girls definitely got their claws on a few special items.  One of the games is a "Pretty Pretty Princess Cinderella" board game, the object of which is to be the first to collect all six items of jewelry.  The girls prefer the items more for dress-up than for actually following the rules of the game, so they tend to ignore the instructions and simply adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, rings, and what not.  However, there seems to be yet another reason why Julia isn't even bothering with the instructions.

JULIA: Mom?  For some reason they think they can just use MADE-UP WORDS in this Cinderella game instead of REAL words.  Like, they made a word that's spelled "b-i-j-o-u-x" and that doesn't even spell anything REAL:

Now, this is just a shot in the dark here, but the instructions might spell real words if Julia chose to flip them over and read the side that's written in English rather than French.

Madeleine showed her own stunning powers of deduction yesterday when, after an emergency run to the bathroom, she wound up having to work extra hard on a particularly constipated bowel movement.

MADELEINE: (shouting from behind the closed bathroom door) Mama?  Sometimes when I'm doing a big, big, hard poop, it HURTS my BUM.
ME: (shouting back) Oh, honey, I'm sorry.  I know how awful that feels.

In fact, it was such a big, big hard poop that Madeleine's hurting bum got a little bloody. 

MADELEINE: But Mama!  What's that RED stuff in my poop?
ME: It's just a little blood from your bum, honey.
JULIA: (alarmed) Why is Madeleine's bum all bloody?
ME: She just had to push out a big hard poop so sometimes that can make your skin bleed.  It's not a lot of blood or anything.
MADELEINE: (thoughtful) Mama?  I guess I must have my PERIOD.

I'm telling you, these kids are logistical geniuses!

In other news, we Rowes had a great time visiting our friends Nate and Anja and their dad Thad yesterday afternoon.  The kids had a blast playing together, and we all got to enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner, courtesy of Thad.  Julia and Madeleine were desperate to keep playing after dinner, despite the fact that it was already bedtime and we still had a 30-minute drive home, as well as baths, to do. 

Madeleine was bathed quickly and easily once we got home, but Julia was a whole different story.  After she had emerged from the shower, I began combing her hair, only to discover her head was filled with what looked to be black coffee grounds.  I couldn't help but have a momentary sensation of panic, as Julia's school nurse recently sent out a bulletin stating there had been 3 confirmed cases of lice since school started.  I ordered Julia back into the tub and began rinsing her hair to get the black grounds out.

ME: Julia, what on earth happened?  It looks like you have DIRT in your hair.
JULIA: Oh, I think it's from when Nate poured the sand over my head!

Wait.  Back up.  I was not aware of the sand pouring.  I do, however, remember that Nate and Julia had been playing with a set of weights and one split open, leaving black grains of sand (or something sand-like) all over the place.  Apparently Julia had forgotten to let me know that her hair was one of those places.

ME: Why did Nate do that?
JULIA: (wailing, with teary eyes) I don't know!  Because he likes the WILD PLAY!

I must point out that Julia seems to enjoy the "wild play" as well, seeing as I am currently sporting a bloody, busted lip as a consequence of Julia leaping - with WAY too much vigor - at me in Thad's backyard.  But bringing that up was not going to be helpful for our black sand problem, so I just continued my wetting and scrubbing attempts as she cried about just wanting to go to bed.

Ethan came down and took over the de-sanding process, and between our joint efforts we were able to remove most of the black grit. 

Just a wee, little unexpected issue delaying an already late bedtime even further...

At any rate, I was pleased to note the absence of any leftover sand this morning as I pulled Julia's hair into a ponytail, which was her requested hair-do, as she had, of course, selected her Hermione Granger sweater/sweatpants set to wear to school today.

Harry Potter.  The obsession that lives on (and on, and on...)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Outfits and Bikes

In a happy turn of events, both girls were in love with their outfits upon getting dressed this morning (despite the fact that Madeleine was wearing neither her polka dotted dress NOR her chickie shirt and spandex shorts.)  Julia felt that she was a stunning doppelganger to Hermione Granger in the outfit she had chosen

JULIA: Mom?  So, I think I really look just like Hermione in this outfit, because, like, every time I look in the mirror or I turn and, like, see my REFLECTION in something, I feel like I'm seeing Hermione when she's in her outfit like this and her PONYTAIL.

Madeleine got the chance to wear a new-to-her dress that was handed down from a friend of mine.  She was totally enamored with herself in this lovely frock, and has already started asking if it will be clean for her to wear again tomorrow:

I suspect a new favorite outfit is on the brink of being born.

Now, you may notice that the girls are dressed as if they live in separate, independent climates.  The weather has been so schizophrenic around here lately that I don't blame them for not knowing whether to choose summery outfits or to layer up.  As Madeleine put it, on our walk home from school in the heat two days ago, "But Mama?  Why does the weather keep changing its MIND??"

(Madeleine is big into anthropomorphizing nearly everything lately.  Especially when she's frustrated; she likes to take it as a personal affront.  "I can't get my door open!  Mama, my door doesn't LOVE ME!"  "Mama!  My seat belt is not LISTENING!"  "Mama!  My pasta is not staying on my fork.  It's not COOPERATING!")

At any rate, the weather was quite warm today, though Julia wasn't willing to change into anything cooler, because there was NO WAY she was going to give up her opportunity to be mistaken for Hermione Granger. 

This afternoon, we took the kids to a nearby school to ride bikes on the blacktop and play on the playground, and Julia insisted she wasn't too warm in her sweater.  She did work up a sweat, however, giving it her all on her bike.  She even learned to get started all by herself today, without us holding the bike steady or giving her a beginning push.  She sailed around the blacktop on her bike, completely in control and confident in her abilities, which is a huge change from a few weeks back when we first tried out the no-training-wheels thing.  Perhaps a little TOO confident, Julia concluded her bike riding by biking SMACK into the post of the basketball hoop at the edge of the blacktop, but luckily, no harm was done to either bike or rider.

Madeleine spent a fair amount of time riding around as well, though she became distracted by the many treasures she discovered from around the school field.  She collected not only a tether AND wiffle ball, but also a long piece of rope and a decorative ribbon.  Things got REALLY wild and crazy when she began weaving the ribbon in and out of the holes of the wiffle ball.  It was like Madeleine had hit the jackpot, she was so excited over her finds.

MADELEINE: Wow!  I'm finding so many AMAZING things for my FANTASTIC collection!

At one point, I was instructed to follow, on foot, Madeleine as she rode her bike around the blacktop.  Madeleine instructed me, in a British accent, to carry the wiffle and tetherballs as I walked along behind her, because we needed to bring them to Professor Lupin.  Then I think she kind of forgot about me as she got involved talking aloud to herself and her imaginary friends in her faux English accent, so I eventually was able to escape and return the balls to the field.  She checked up on me shortly before we headed home, running over to see if I had carried out my task.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  So, Mama.  Did you bring the balls the person I was TELLING where to bring them?
ME: Yes, I did.
MADELEINE: Okay.  (about to run off, then turning back to me) And what did he SAY?
ME: Uh, he said I could just leave them right here for other kids to play with.
MADELEINE: Okay!  (running off)

Phew.  I was able to pass off my utter lack of interest in carrying the balls around all afternoon as following Professor Lupin's orders.  Off the hook on that one!

At any rate, the girls have been thoroughly enjoying their new bikes, and I can't complain too much about the weather changing his mind and getting warm again, so long as it gives us some good outdoor time over the weekend!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Trip to the Dentist

Today after school, Julia had an appointment for her teeth cleaning, so we Rowe ladies headed off to the dentist's office all together without even running inside our house to unload Julia's backpack and lunch box.

Julia was her usual obedient self, not even getting upset when she was accidentally intruded upon in the bathroom by a boy who had just puked his fluoride treatment all over himself.  Because the bathroom was then occupied for awhile by the pukey kid, Madeleine was forced to hold her own pee while Julia's cleaning began.  As soon as the bathroom was free, Madeleine and I took off to use it, and we returned to hear the dental hygienist attempting to make conversation with Julia.

HYGIENIST: So, do you have any exciting plans for this weekend?
JULIA: (thoughtful silence)
HYGIENIST: Are you going to do anything fun?
JULIA: Um...probably watch a movie.

Fun times!  Movie watching!  Of course, leave it to Julia to have only one thing on the brain: Harry Potter #3, which she has been begging to watch all week (despite the fact that she has seen it about 10 times already), and which I said had to be a weekend movie because it was too long to watch at 6pm when I had just arrived home from work.

As Julia's cleaning began, the hygienist repeatedly complimented Julia on her wonderful behavior laying still and keeping her mouth wide open.  Since Julia wasn't able to converse in that position, Madeleine took it upon herself to start chatting it up with the hygienist. 

HYGIENIST: So, Julia, you might watch a movie this weekend, and what else do you think you'll do?  Maybe play outside?
MADELEINE: Um, the other day, we played outside and my DAD was swinging around Julia's thing called a HOP-BALL that...that...that...we...we...we...we were BETENDING was called a...a...a... CRYSTAL BALL, and he knocked me UP IN THE AIR and I fell DOWN!

I love it when the kids tell strange authority figures stories that make Ethan or I sound like we're smacking them around. 

Madeleine was also unabashedly vocal about wanting the exciting goodies that Julia, the patient, received, including a brand new toothbrush.  When the kids got to pick the color of their new brush, I realized that I suddenly seem to have no idea who my children are.

Julia chose clear.  CLEAR??  I thought pink was recently replaced by tropical violet as her favorite color.  Yet she decided upon the completely colorless brush.

Madeleine chose blue.  Madeleine claims that pink is her favorite color, and almost obsessively chooses pink for everything.

Who are these kids?!?

Madeleine was also the lucky recipient of a ginormous balloon (you long-time readers have heard about these balloons in several older posts.)  Madeleine had been asking about the balloon well before it was time to get one, while Julia's teeth were still being cleaned.

MADELEINE: But Mama?  When do I get my balloon?
HYGIENIST: Oh, I'll get your balloons when Julia's all done!

When it was finally time for balloons, the hygienist brought back a slew of colors from which to choose.  Julia picked orange, because it's a Halloween color. 

MADELEINE: I wanna pick!
HYGIENIST: I know you want pink!

Uh-oh.  Serious misunderstanding.  Even though Madeleine had initially asked for pink, by the time she uttered the words "I wanna pick," which the hygienist mistook for "I want pink" AGAIN, Madeleine had changed her mind.

She wanted yellow.

The orange and pink balloons returned a few moments later, and Madeleine dissolved into inconsolable tears.  When the hygienist asked in deep concern what was the matter, I tried to brush off Madeleine's change of heart, but the hygienist insisted upon blowing up a brand new yellow balloon for Madeleine.

Once the visit had concluded and we headed off to our next stop (Julia's swim lesson), Madeleine was suddenly struck by the inequity of the whole situation.

Yes, Madeleine, who had reaped ALL the benefits of a dental visit, from the new toothbrush to the balloon and then the replacement balloon, but WITHOUT having to endure a cleaning, felt compelled to ask, with tear-filled eyes, "But Mama?  Why didn't *I* have my dentist appointment today?"

ME: Because you have your next one in October, after you turn four.
MADELEINE: (bursting into loud, wailing sobs.)

It's a tough life, man.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More from Madeleine

Last night, as Madeleine lay in her bed, with me giving her the usual bedtime snuggles, she suddenly became very quiet and still, to the point that I assumed sleep was imminent.  Just as I was feeling confident that she had settled for the night, I heard her little high-pitched voice ringing out through the darkness of the bedroom.

MADELEINE: Mama?  The commercial that has that spray that you spray on dirty clothes?  That's on my WISH LIST.  Because...I want to get it for YOU.  So you can get clothes CLEAN without putting them in the washing machine.  So, it's on my Wish List, for YOU!  So, when I get it, I will just TIP it under Julia's bed and then give it to you on your BIRTHDAY!

Wow.  Does this kid know her mother or what?  I can't think of a gift that would bring my life MORE happiness than a cleaning product. 

And while Madeleine's desire to provide me with said product is awfully sweet, I suspect her REAL motive is to make it possible to wear her polka dot dress EVERY SINGLE DAY without need for it going into the washing machine on the off days.

Speaking of the polka dot dress, today was a balmy 80 degrees, so - Hallelujah! - Madeleine FINALLY got to wear her favorite dress to school.  And was she happy about it?  Nope!  Today she wanted to wear her chickie shirt and her heart shorts that she had worn yesterday.  If only we had that spray, all would have worked out, but instead she had to wail in lamentation, "But Mama, I'm just TIRED of having a WASHING MACHINE!" 

Madeleine had something else to wail about later in the day.  As I walked in the door, arriving home early from work, Madeleine burst into tears at the sight of her mommy, because she really wanted to play with her beloved baby-sitter longer.  After I finally assured the sitter that she could actually just pry off Madeleine's vice grip around her legs and go, I was subject to some extremely loving praise from my younger daughter.

MADELEINE: Mama!  I just want you to GO AWAY!  I don't LIKE you, Mama!
JULIA: (worried) Madeleine!  Do we say that?  NO!  That's not a nice thing to say!  (to me) Mommy, don't worry, I know she loves you.  (to her sister) MADELEINE!  SAY YOU'RE SORRY!
MADELEINE: (running to the couch to hide herself under a fleece blanket) I have a MEAN mommy!  My mommy always says "No" about EVERYTHING!

I mean, I was nearly BOWLED OVER by these beautiful compliments.  Just what every mother longs to hear!  Am I a lucky lady or what?

So, basically, I just let the tantrum run its course and completely ignored the waterworks.  Later on, when Madeleine was over it, I attempted to discuss her comments with her.

ME: So why am I a mean mommy?
MADELEINE: Awww!  (hugging me) You're not a mean mommy, you're a NICE mommy!
ME: But then why did you say I was mean?
MADELEINE: Well...because...I got a little CONFUSED.  I got a MISTAKE.  (silent, contemplative)  Mama?  I thought you were a VAMPIRE.  That's why I thought you were mean.

Ohhhh.  I totally get it now.  I mean, if she thought I was a vampire, then it's no WONDER why she thought I was so mean.  I guess maybe I have to work on looking a little more alive and a little less blood-thirsty so Madeleine won't get mixed up again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Madeleine's Pretend Play

Madeleine has been FULL of pretend play games today.  The moment we got home from dropping Julia at school, Madeleine proceeded to pull off her shoes, pants, and fleece jacket.  She then began re-dressing herself in a different jacket, gloves, and boots, though she didn't want the pants back on, and instead opted for spandex shorts.

ME: Okay, Madeleine, let's take off your gloves and stuff because we need to put on your bathing suit for swim lessons!
MADELEINE: Uh, not yet, Mama, because I'm playing "Cold."

So the game of "Cold" continued, with Madeleine walking around the house in her gloves, coat and boots:

It was an action packed game, let me tell you.  And so incredibly accurate: I know that when it's cold outside, I *always* make sure to pair my boots, gloves and jacket with spandex shorts.  Nothing keeps me warmer!

As fun as it was, ultimately the game of "Cold" had to end so that we could go to swim lessons at the Y.  Afterwards, Madeleine experienced "Cold" for real, as she shivered away changing out of her bathing suit and getting into the shower.  Once she was clean and dry, however, she was feeling much more comfortable. 

Now, back at home, Madeleine has launched into another pretend play game: "Band."  Her first instrument was the pennywhistle, which she decided to demonstrate for me as I attempted to rest on the couch.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mama, this is a FLUTE.  And here's how you play it: (blowing into it but unable to make a sound.)

Not to worry, however.  Madeleine smoothly covered her mistake.

MADELEINE: See?  That's how it goes.  But THIS is how you play it the FRENCH way.  (Blowing again, and this time letting forth the pennywhistle's delightfully shrill sound.  Toooooot!  Tooooooot!  Tooooooot!)

I think I liked the non-French way better. 

Before I knew it, Madeleine was intent on recruiting me for her band, and was attempting to shove the pennywhistle into my mouth.

MADELEINE: Here, Mama.  It's your turn.
ME: Oh, I think you should keep playing it.
MADELEINE: No, Mama, it's YOUR turn.  Here you go. it FRENCHLY.
ME: Well, honey, I don't really want to blow on it, because I don't wanna share germs.  You've had a cold and I don't want to put your germs in my mouth.
MADELEINE: Well, pleeeease, Mama, can we share germs?

Luckily, I was able to strike a non-germy happy medium and take out my REAL flute.  Madeleine got creative in constructing a drum set, and before long, she and I were rockin' out together making some pretty jivin' music.

Afterwards, Madeleine continued on playing her drums all by herself:

I know you're all itching to hear the rock star drummer in action, so I did you all a favor and took a video of Madeleine performing:

I'm pretty sure Madeleine is looking for members to join the band, so feel free to contact her if you'd like to set up an audition!

Now, as if the above pretend-play games don't sound exciting enough, I also got to participate in the world's most riveting new game, made up by Madeleine, called, apparently, "Uh, I forgot, so...its...its...REAL name'Let Me Catch You, Baby Froggy'!"

Here's how the game worked.  It was all extremely logical.  Madeleine was the froggy.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mama, so I'm the Froggy, and after I say the spell, you have to CHASE me and try to CATCH me.  So...(putting her hands on my tummy and beginning to chant) Froggy, froggy...*

*That's about all I can transcribe of the chant, because the rest of it was in some sort of gibberish made-up-on-the-spot language.

After the chant ended, I was a little slow on the uptake as to what to do next.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mama, I said it!
ME: Okay.  (standing still)
MADELEINE: Okay, Mama!'re the DONUT.
ME: Oh, okay.
MADELEINE: So...THAT means you have to try and CHASE me!  (running off)
ME: ("chasing" after her, aka plodding along behind and pretending I was really trying to catch her)
MADELEINE: (stopping at her drum set) So, Mama.  When you reach the DRUM, you're SAFE.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: Okay, Mama!  Now it's YOUR turn!

Fun.  Times.  Don't you all wish you were here to play all these fun games with us??

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interests and Preferences

Clearly, the constant debate over clothes is on Madeleine's mind even when we're discussing something else.  Today, after I picked her up from school, she made sure to let me know how much she disapproved of the "classful" music I was listening to on the radio.  It happened to be a beautiful little piece by one of my favorite early composers, Henry Purcell, but Madeleine had no use for it.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why did you put on GROWN-UP music?
ME: Well, because I like listening to this.
MADELEINE: Well, I don't like it.
ME: You don't, huh?  Why not?
MADELEINE: Because.  I don't!
ME: What don't you like about this music?
MADELEINE: That it sounds like: "rrrrreeeeeeeew!   rrrrrrreeeeeeew!" (imitating a violin sound.)
ME: Oh.  Well that's too bad.  I really like it.
MADELEINE: I.  Only.  Like.  DIFFERENT.  Outfits.
ME: Different outfits?  Or different music?
MADELEINE: Uh...different MUSIC!

Well, that was a Freudian slip!  (Or perhaps I should say a "Laura Ashley" slip...)

Trust me.  I already KNOW she only likes different outfits.  That one's a no-brainer.  The polka dot dress was a no-go this morning because it was too cold out not to wear long sleeves and pants.  Madeleine had trouble handling my decision, insisting that she was hot, despite the fact that on our walk to drop Julia at school Madeleine was asking for a hat and gloves to go along with her jacket, long pants, socks and shoes.  She sure found a way to make her point, however, by choosing to wear both her sleeves as well as the legs of her pants rolled up throughout her entire school day.  She LAUGHS in the face of cold weather!  She shows off her BARE KNEES AND ELBOWS in the face of a chilly wind!

At any rate, once Madeleine was home from school, she bundled up in a fleece blanket and started playing with magnet Barbie people.  Apparently I was supposed to be intuitively aware of the pretend-play game she was enacting, as she suddenly asked me a big stumper of a riddle.

MADELEINE: So Mama.  Guess what different WORLD the doggie is in.  Here, Mama.  I'll give you a hint.  It sounds like the letter "P" and it has TEETH.
ME: Uh...puppy?
ME: Princess?
ME: Uh, can you give me another hint?
MADELEINE: Nope!  That's the ONLY HINT I know how to GIVE.
ME: Okay.  So it sounds like the letter "p" and it has teeth?
MADELEINE: Uh-huh!  And a tongue.  And it can eat CHOCOLATE.
ME: Is it an animal?
MADELEINE: A mammal!
ME: Is it a person?
MADELEINE: (delighted) YES!!

I see.  So the dog is in a person world.  I'm not sure I quite see how that's a different world.  At least in the world that I'm from, doggies and people co-habitate.  We all suspect Madeleine lives on a different plane of reality, so perhaps in her alternate universe dogs and people aren't aligned.

Now, while Madeleine is busy stating her musical and wardrobe preferences, Julia has been hard at work on a school project, due on Friday.  Each member of her first grade class is instructed to decorate his or her Writer's Workshop folder to reflect his or her various likes, interests, and inspirations.  I'm sure you are already aware of the main, prevailing theme of Julia's folder:

Inside Folder

Back Cover

Front Cover

(FYI, I took the liberty of printing out the family photo at the CVS and sticking it on Julia's folder.  She has yet to see it, and she may very well be horrified by the intrusion of a bunch of Muggles into her Harry Potter world of decorations.  But hopefully she'll allow us to join in...)

At any rate, Madeleine and I are off to pick up Julia from school soon, and then I'm heading out to teach a bunch of classful, grown-up music to my piano students!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Polka Dot Dress

Madeleine is stuck in a phase right now, in which she falls in love with one particular outfit and wants to wear it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Every few weeks, she ditches that outfit for a new favorite.  Many of you who have looked through pictures on facebook - or even on this blog - have been able to see the trend of outfits. 

First it was "my heart shirt and my purple skirt."

Then it was "my Ginny Weasley outfit" (a white tee and a navy skirt with white polka dots.)

Now it's "my Easter egg dress."

The Easter egg dress is a pale green dress with pastel polka dots.  It's suitable to wear to church, and not so great as a play dress, but Madeleine doesn't care.  She wants to wear it every day.  And she can't handle the fact that I need to wash it after wear.  It's the polka dot dress or bust, regardless of how dirty it is. 

So, this morning when I got her dressed into one of her previously loved outfits to get ready for school, she was not able to cope.  Despite the fact that we had picked out this outfit the day before and talked - A LOT - about how she would be wearing it to school, she came unhinged this morning when I tried to put it on her.  Doesn't matter how easily she agrees the night before to wearing something other than the polka dot dress.  Come morning time, it's as if we're yanking away her security blanket when we try to dress her in anything but.  So we started off the day right - with a sobbing melt-down.  Because why be cooperative when you can be stubborn instead??

At any rate, my tactic was to just pick up the sobbing kid and stick her in her stroller so we could get Julia to school on time.  We headed off towards the elementary school, with Julia galloping along ahead of me with her look of faraway wonder as she thought about walking with Hermione or whatever else she thinks about during Gallop Time (after all, ANYTHING can happen!)  Every few seconds, Julia would get distracted from her galloping reverie by something REAL that she would see, like a flower, an insect, or a vehicle, and she would stop short right in front of the stroller, leaving me to skid to a stop so as to avoid ramming into her. 

ME: Jules.  Jules.  If you stop suddenly right in front of me, I'm afraid I'm going to run into you and I don't want you to get hurt.
JULIA: (taking off at a gallop again without a word, with a look of enchantment in her eyes)
MADELEINE: But Maaaaamaaaaaaaa!  I don't liiiiiiiiike my outfit!  I need to change into my Easter egg dreeeesssss!

After dropping off Julia, it was time for me to bring Madeleine to school.  She gave one last plea for her Easter egg dress, and I promised to do laundry today so that it would be clean for tomorrow.  That mollified her a bit, although she felt the need to take one last dig at me before letting it go.

MADELEINE:  But Mama.  Why do you think everything is so GLORIOUS?

Ouch!  That one stings.  There's nothing worse than being accused of thinking everything is so glorious.

At any rate, Madeleine was finally over it by the time we were driving to her school, and she became contemplative over the lyrics to John Lennon's "In My Life," which we happened to be listening to.  As we pulled up to her school, she was ready to give me her literary analysis.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I heard the person that is SINGING this song say something that is very NOT NICE.
ME: Oh yeah?  What did he say?
MADELEINE: He said: "I love you MORE."
ME: Ohhhhh.  And you feel like he should say he loves EVERYBODY the same?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  So Mama.  I think that maybe it was JESUS that was singing.

That's a totally logical conclusion if I ever heard one.

Luckily, Madeleine was excited enough to be at school that she forgot (at least temporarily) about her polka dot dress, and I was able to kiss her good-bye as she happily played with magnet marbles.  On the way out, I grabbed some of her artwork from her little mail pouch, and was pleased to see that Madeleine's classic artistic style remains prevalent even at preschool:

Never mind the fact that Madeleine can draw intricate details such as eyelashes and teeth and what not.  Sometimes there's nothing like a little bit of black scribbling to unleash all that Gothic angst.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Julia had swim lessons at the Y yesterday afternoon, so I packed a coloring book and markers in the pool bag so that Madeleine could resume her usual poolside activity.  (Not to worry, however; she is not left out of the swimming fun this fall.  Madeleine had her own Y swim lesson on Wednesday!)

Madeleine browsed through her "My Little Pony" coloring book and finally settled upon a color-by-shape page, upon which sat a star, a heart, and a diamond.  I read the instructions to her, step by step.

ME: "Find the star.  Color it yellow."
MADELEINE: (picking up the yellow marker and coloring in the star.)
ME: Okay, now: "find the heart.  Color it pink."
MADELEINE: (finding the pink marker and coloring the heart.)
ME: Good job!  Now: "find the diamond.  Color it blue."
MADELEINE: (balking) But...why not PURPLE?
ME: Well, because it says "blue."
MADELEINE: But Maaama.  Why didn't they say "color it PURPLE?"
ME: I don't know.  It says "blue."
MADELEINE: No, it says "PURPLE!"
ME: See this word here?  "B-L-U-E."  That spells "blue."  If it said "purple," what letter would it need to begin with?
ME: Right.
MADELEINE: But Maaaaamaaa!  Why do YOU say it has to be BLUUUUE?
ME: I didn't say that.  That's what it says in the instructions.  But honey, if you'd rather color it purple, that's totally fine.  This is YOUR coloring book.  You can use whatever color you want.

Madeleine had trouble battling her irrepressible desire to make the diamond purple with the fact that the instructions called for blue.  After taking the purple marker and filling in the diamond, she came up with the perfect solution to the problem.

MADELEINE: Here Mama.  I know what to do.  (crossing out the "b" in blue and writing a "p" underneath it.)  There!  Now does it say "purple"??
ME: Well, actually, now it says "plue," but I can write "purple" for you if you want.

She wanted.  So I did.  And all was right with the world

In other coloring news, Julia and Madeleine left some artwork on Daddy's computer as a surprise for him.  After emerging from his shower, Ethan returned to his computer to find the following pictures:

By Julia.  It's hard for me to choose my favorite thing in this drawing.  I love me some pumpkins big time, especially big round guys like the one Julia drew, but I'm also pretty fond of a good srobary, and Julia's looks awfully juicy and delicious.  And it's hard to pass up a good pikel, though I definitely don't like pikels as much as pumpkins or srobarys.

This one was drawn by Madeleine, who, as usual, decided to try and imitate what her sister was doing, complete with some streaks of rain and a nice phallic-looking pikel.  I guess instead of a Dementer, however, Madeleine decided to draw a freaky ghoul-faced girl who looks like she is currently having her soul sucked out by the Dementer.  Creepy as usual, Madeleine.

If only she had included some plue diamonds, the picture would truly be complete.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Biking Success!


It's a good thing they're doing so well on their own, because Coach Daddy threw his back out big time and has had to retire for awhile. 

Meanwhile, we are still working on our eating and table manners skills.  In the past five minutes I have had the following conversations with Madeleine:

ME: Madeleine.  You need to STOP fooling around with your water or I take your cup away.
MADELEINE: (looking up at me, wide-eyed, with water dribbling all down her face and chin.)  But Mama.  I wasn't fooling around.
ME: Yes you were.  It's not play-time with your water.
MADELEINE: But I was trying to make it VIBRATE!

ME: Madeleine.  Get your hands out of your water.  You don't ever dip your hands in your drink.
MADELEINE: (innocently) But WHY?
ME: (sternly) Why do you think?
MADELEINE: I don't know!
JULIA: Uh, because you'll get a COLD?

These kids are geniuses.

ME: Madeleine!  STOP squishing your green beans.  Just EAT them.
JULIA: Mama?  What does SWISHING your GREEN BEANS mean?
ME: Squishing.  Madeleine thinks it's play-time instead of eating time over here.
MADELEINE: No it's not.
ME: Madeleine, do you think it's play-time right now?
MADELEINE: (sweetly) Noooo.
ME: Then why are you playing with your food?
MADELEINE: (solemnly) I was just trying to TELLEX them.
ME: What??
ME: What on earth does that mean?
MADELEINE: It means, like, you put your FORK on your food and then you TAP your finger on the table.

Oh, me, oh, my.
At least she learned how to ride her bike though.  Progress in one area, regression in another...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Curriculum Night and Heat Wave

Last night, Ethan and I got to attend Curriculum Night at Julia's school, during which we got to visit her classroom and learn about her teacher's plans for the year.  We even got to see Julia's desk, and were surprised with the love note she had left for us:

I especially like the fact that Julia drew herself wearing her bike helmet.

Ethan and I had the chance to write a love note back to Julia for her to discover on her desk in the morning:

I knew, as soon as I read Ethan's portion of the note, that his "Harry Potter" sign-off was going to TOTALLY out-do the piddling jack-o-lantern I had drawn next to my signature.  I definitely wasn't wrong.

ME: Julia, did you get your love note from me and Daddy?
JULIA: (breaking into a broad grin) Yeeeees!
ME: And I bet I know what your favorite part was.
JULIA: (smiling even wider) When Daddy signed it "love Harry POTTER!"
ME: I knew you would love that part!
JULIA: And you should have signed yours "love Hermione Granger!"
ME: Well, did you like the little jack-o-lantern I drew you?
JULIA: (staring at me blankly) What jack-o-lantern?
ME: The one I drew right next to my name.
JULIA: Uh...I didn't even see it.

Yep.  A little hand-drawn pumpkin isn't even in the same LEAGUE as Harry Potter.

Speaking of, Julia usually gallops to and from school, because, as she explained, "Sometimes when I'm walking to school, I pretend that I'm walking with Hermione, Ron, and HARRY!"  And we all know that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN during Gallop Time, so in order to go off into her reverie of imagination, she simply MUST gallop.  Today, however, was so unbearably hot that we ALL slogged our way home slowly, red-cheeked and dripping sweat.

Madeleine seemed to think the heat wave was some kind of cosmic joke.

MADELEINE: (grumpily) But Maaamaaa.  WHY does the sun think it's SO FUNNY to be shining so HOT on us today?

That mean old sun.  Such a prankster jerk-face.

Meanwhile, it appears that the heat made me sound like I was missing a few brain cells; at least, according to Julia.

ME: Whew!  It is soooooo hot.  I feel like...I'm not even gonna MAKE it home!
JULIA: Mom?  You sounded like an actress who is just trying out acting for her FIRST DAY when you said that.

ME: So you mean I sounded like a terrible actress when I said that? 
JULIA: No, I sounded like it was your first time trying out acting because, like, you were having a lot of PAUSES in what you were saying.

Ah.  I see.  I sounded like I was trying to recall my lines.  Or trying to get my brain to work because it was melting.

Anyway, we unfortunately have to put the bikes on hold this afternoon, as we're sitting inside with the a/c blasting trying to keep cool for the rest of the day.  So TAKE THAT, sun!  The joke's on YOU!  You may think it's so funny to be shining so hot, but we're not rising to the bait!  We're just - to borrow a word from Julia - ICKNORING you until you decide to behave appropriately.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Getting Ready for Fall

You readers are probably aware of the fact that my kids get really excited for autumn, and with good reason: the fall brings not only Halloween (tied for first favorite holiday for both girls), but both of their autumn birthdays as well.  So despite the fun we have all summer at the pool, the girls start getting reeeeeeally excited at the first hints of fall weather.  Julia has virtually galloped the entire way to school the past few mornings, thrilled by the brisk, cooler weather, and even Madeleine keeps asking me if it's fall yet.  In fact, Madeleine and I recently had a whole discussion on her favorite parts of every season.

ME: So Madeleine, what do you love so much about fall?
MADELEINE: Um...jumping in the big pile of LEAVES!
ME: And what do you love about winter?
MADELEINE: Um...jumping into a big pile of SNOW!
ME: And what do you love about the summertime?
MADELEINE: Um...jumping off the DIVING BOARD!
ME: What do you love about spring?
MADELEINE: (momentarily thoughtful) Um...NOTHING.

I guess she couldn't think of anything she likes jumping into in the springtime.

At any rate, today was an extra-special almost-fall day for Madeleine, because it was her first day back to preschool!

We took the requisite first-day-of-school picture out on the stoop:

And then we took another picture a little later in the morning.  Here's a fun I Spy!  exercise for you readers: can you spot the differences between the two pictures?:

If you managed to find the differences, then you're surely aware of the change in footwear.  Madeleine vacillated back and forth between her sandals and boots as if it were an epic moral choice, finally settling on her boots but packing her sandals in her backpack.

When I picked her up from school, she was back in the sandals, so I am certainly glad we packed them.  Although by that point, she was second-guessing her choice of shorts.  "Mama, I think I look WEIRD in these!" she announced, her eyes filling with tears.

Being someone who really doesn't care a whole heck of a lot about fashion, I sure managed to produce two extremely outfit-conscious children. Sigh.

The one thing Madeleine was certain about was her shirt, since it was a brand new one she had picked out at the store *specifically* for her first day of school.  In fact, she was so excited about the shirt that she hopped over to her teacher as soon as we walked into the classroom and announced, "This is my NEW SHIRT that I got at the CVS!"

Close.  We actually got it at T.J. Maxx.  But, hey, three syllables, plus initials; CVS is not too far off the mark in her brain.

At any rate, Madeleine is now home from her first day back at preschool and already asking when she gets to go to school again.  Since everyone seems to have the sniffles lately (my kids included), I insisted Madeleine use some hand sanitizer before touching her lunch, and as I squirted it onto her hands, I saw her wince in discomfort.  Lately she's not so into the hand sanitizer, because:

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why does Purell always feel so SPICY?

Seeing as Madeleine doesn't like spicy food, either, I'm not surprised she doesn't like spicy hand sanitizer.

At any rate, we are slowly but surely getting ourselves into the swing of the fall routine.  And hopefully soon the trees will start to change color and shed onto the lawn so that Madeleine can fulfill her autumn dream of jumping into a big pile of leaves.

Monday, September 9, 2013


In a big, exciting wrap-up to our weekend, we Rowes all took a trip to Target to buy the girls new bikes!  Madeleine has graduated from a tricycle to a 2-wheeler with training wheels, and Julia has her first ever 2-wheeler (no training wheels!)

Ethan and I put in some work with Julia yesterday, getting her comfortable with the feel of the bike and practicing her balance.  I was a total and utter failure as a coach; Julia basically voluntarily hopped/tipped off the bike the moment I let go, out of sheer terror, but Ethan was much more successful in helping her feel confident, and by the end of the day Julia was able to pedal a few times on her own after he let go of the bicycle seat. 

Julia is obviously thrilled with her new bike; she announced to me, after school today, that she had written about her new bike in her writing journal assignment on a special summer memory.

JULIA: Even though...well, it's STILL summer, right?

True point.  And it's pretty telling of how excited she is about the bike, seeing as its purchase has eclipsed ALL ELSE that happened over the summer: passing the Deep Water test, our trips to Vermont, Connecticut and the Cape, various summer camps, barbeques with friends, etc, were not mentioned in her journal.  Just the bike.  That we bought after school actually started.  Yes, that is her summer memory, even though it's not really much of a memory yet since it JUST HAPPENED YESTERDAY.

Anyway, naturally, after school, the kids were desperate to get on their bikes.

Madeleine enjoyed riding around the driveway on her brand new Hello, Kitty! bicycle:

Julia preferred practicing on the lawn, so that her inevitable falls would be softened by the grass:

Hooray, bike-riders!!

Okay, now that the "accomplishments" section of this blog post is complete, let me move on ahead to the "my kids are weird" portion.  First of all, Madeleine and I had a lengthy conversation, during our car ride home from the Y, about the mild cold she seems to have.  I love the fact that even if Madeleine isn't 100% sure of the correct terminology, she's not afraid to just go on ahead and substitute an alternative word - or even MAKE UP a word if she needs to.  Hence her self-diagnosis of a "centatiss" on her lip, among other things:

MADELEINE: Mama?  There's a BUMP on my lip, but you can't TOUCH it, you can just KISS it, might GET it.
ME: Oh, okay.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And it's called...a CENTATISS,'s from all the MUCUS that is coming out of my nose.
ME: Yeah, you do have a stuffy nose, huh?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  See Mama?  Can't you hear it HUSTLING?
ME: Yeah, I can.
MADELEINE: But why does Harry Potter hear the BASKALISK hustling?
ME: You mean hissing?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Why does he hear the baskalisk HISSING?
ME: Well, because a basilisk is a snake, and snakes make a hissing sound like that.
MADELEINE: Well, Mama, really the baskalisk talks like this: haaaashaaaaaasaaaaaa! (making various demonic serptentine whispering sounds the way the snake does when he's speaking "Parseltongue" in the third Harry Potter movie.)

Oh, Madeleine.  Always such a crystal clear understanding of how everything in the world truly works.

Meanwhile, on another topic, Julia dashed off to the bathroom in the middle of afternoon snack today, announcing her urgent need to poop.  Once the door was closed, she then shouted to me, "Don't worry, Mommy, I brought something to REALLY entertain myself in here!"

Apparently she had brought her Ethan-drawn model figurine photocopies in there with her so that she could color while she sat on the pot.  A few moments later, there was more shouted conversation between the closed bathroom door.

JULIA: Mama?  So, should I write what it says on your "Elle" magazine so that it looks like this girl is, like, REALLY a REAL fashion model?
ME: Sure!  Great idea!

So I thought.  After Julia emerged from the bathroom, I saw that it wasn't "Elle" that she had written atop her drawing, but instead this:

I mean, to be fair, it was ONE of the things written on my magazine cover:

So.  Yeah.  That was awesome. 

Role Model mother of the year, right here, folks!  Hoo-boy.

I'm now off to cook dinner, so I must end this post.  Good-bye, Sexy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fashion Designing

Last night, the kids and adults alike had a great evening of company from our friends.  Julia and Madeleine spent their time romping wildly through the back woods (and later on, the living room) with their friends Jovina, Wyatt and Quinn, and even though we let them stay up until 8:00, the girls were STILL not ready to say good-bye to their friends and get ready for bed.

Madeleine was especially broken-hearted about the play-date ending.  After spending this past week stuck home with me while Julia was at school, Madeleine was absolutely thrilled to be part of the gang last night, and she completely fell apart when we brought her into the bathroom to brush her teeth.

I thought I had finally gotten her settled up in her bedroom, after I had read her two stories and was snuggling her in bed.  It turns out Madeleine needed one last cathartic melt-down before she could get herself to sleep, however.

ME: Okay, honey, it's time to go to sleep now.
MADELEINE: But...but...(bursting into fresh tears) Why is it ooooooover?
ME: Well, because it's bedtime, but we'll have another play-date with them again sometime soon, okay honey?
MADELEINE: But...but...(eyes welling up) Why can't we have a play-date with then EVERY DAAAAAAAY??

It has been a tough week for poor little Madeleine.

The girls woke up at their usual bright and early time this morning, despite having gotten to bed late, so, predictably, they are both crankypants today.  Julia, in fact, had a good 15-20 minute sobbing fest because she used up her last one of these:

She had colored on her very last blank model page this morning, and then, bereft, wept over the fact that she had so many more fashions she wanted to draw on the models.

What.  A.  Tragedy.

Don't worry, Mommy saved the day with a brilliant idea: I drew a new model figure for Julia on a piece of blank paper, and all was right with the world!  Ethan then drew another model figure and photocopied it so that both girls have an abundant supply of blank models upon which to draw their fancy fashions.

Here are a few of the new fashions Julia has churned out:

This model is a mom, so Julia drew her little baby, who bears a striking resemblance to Cindy Loo Who in my opinion.  I guess Julia felt the need to draw the child to accentuate the fact that this woman is a mom; it's like the must-have accessory if you're a mom.  Permanent child attached to your hip.

These sassy ladies are lifeguards, and man, are they showing off their high fashion styles at the pool or what??  I mean, sure, they may have to muss up their hair diving into the pool to rescue a floundering child, but still, why *not* put your haute couture personal style on display in the work place?

Madeleine has been working on her own models as well.  Here are a few of her completed fashionistas:

Mrs. Tornado-Hair and her daughter (I took the liberty of naming them myself)

Madeleine named these Katie (mom) and Emily (O-mouthed ghoul child)

Professor McGonnagal
(Man.  Maggie Smith has never looked so SMOKIN' HOT before!)

Madeleine's output has been less than Julia's, in part because, for the first time EVER, Madeleine was actually focused on eating her lunch.  In fact, she decided to challenge us to a lunch-eating race, promising her own victory.

MADELEINE: I'm gonna be the FIRST to finish my lunch!  Because...can I eat ALL of this?  With ONE mouth??
ETHAN: Not all in one bite, but sure, you can eat that all with one mouth.
MADELEINE: (beginning to shovel piece after piece of pasta into her mouth without chewing in between)
ME: Madeleine.  Madeleine.  You have to finish what's in your mouth before you stuff more pasta in.
MADELEINE: Mmmpffff.  (Translation: I'm gonna win!)

And believe it or not, she did win!  One meal of not having to nag her to eat??  I'll take it!

I will leave you with one last model picture, recently completed by Madeleine:

Voldemort, looking FABULOUS.
(He may not be able to vanquish Harry Potter, but the guy's got STYLE.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Harry Potter Blah Blah Blah

About a year ago, I cleared all of the jeans out of Julia's overfilled dresser drawers, seeing as she steadfastly insists on leggings - or OCCASIONALLY sweatpants - as the only kinds of pants she'll wear.

And all it took was a viewing of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" to convince her that jeans are ALL THAT.  Because Hermione wears them.

So this morning I had to dig around down in the basement to find a pair of jeans so Julia could go to school looking like Hermione in her hoodie and blue jeans:

Wait a minute.  Is that Julia in the school yard, or Hermione Granger?!?

Of course, when she's not actively BEING Hermione, Julia is busy drawing pictures of Hermione and her friends.  Between last night and the time we left for school this morning, Julia managed to churn out the following drawings:

 Best buddies: Hermione, Harry and Ron holding hands in friendship

Hermione and Harry take on a couple of Dementors by casting a Patronus.

Sirius Black, Hermione, Harry and Ron holding hands in the sunshine

MADELEINE: Julia, why are you making the ceiling BLUE?
JULIA: (shrilly) It's NOT THE CEILING, Madeleine!!

Of course, creepy drawings with spooky Dementors are right up Madeleine's artistic alley, so she sat down to color too, making this picture of herself standing next to some sort of shadowy, headless death-demon:

Speaking of Harry Potter (because do we speak of anything else around here lately?), Julia had a pressing question about the naming of one of the landmarks within the series:

JULIA: Mom?  How come in "Harry Potter" they call it the "Forbidden Forest?"
ME: Well, I guess because it's forbidden to go into the forest.
JULIA: But why?
ME: Well, because there are dangerous things in there.  Do you know what "forbidden" means?
ME: So, if something is "forbidden," it means it's against the rules or the laws of a certain place.  So, what would be something that's forbidden in our country where we live?
JULIA: Umm...being mean to other people?
ME: Well, it's definitely not nice to be mean to other people, but that's not forbidden.  You wouldn't go to jail for being mean to someone else.
JULIA: Umm...stealing?
ME: Yes.  Stealing is forbidden in our society.  What's something that's forbidden in our household?
JULIA: Mmm...potty talk?
ME: Uh, well I don't LOVE the potty talk, but it's not really FORBIDDEN.  So, hitting or hurting each other is forbidden in our house.

I can tell the point was really getting through to the kids.  I mean, Julia seems to really get it, what with her examples of highly forbidden things like being mean and talking potty talk.  Vocab lesson = SUCCESS!

I tried later on to see how much Madeleine had absorbed from the discussion.

ME: Madeleine, what's something that's forbidden?
MADELEINE: Um...the inside of our forest that has POISON IVY in it.
ME: And what else is forbidden?
MADELEINE: Um...wearing white to preschool and then doing the EASEL PAINT?

Madeleine then rattled off several other forbidden actions: "going to the Y with no socks on," "giving children coffee," and "going close to a bee."

Apparently both kids define the word "forbidden" as "things I'd rather they not do."

Either that, or I have instilled the FEAR OF GOD in them should they mess with Mommy: don't you DARE even get paint on your white shirt or it's OFF TO PRISON WITH YOU!

Yeah.  Judging by their somewhat sub-par listening skills as of late, I'd definitely not bet the farm on them trembling in their boots over failing to please me.

I better start cracking down: "EXKSPECKTO PUCHRONUM!!!"