Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 4

Last night, we took the girls out to an Indian restaurant for dinner.  During the drive there, the car was suddenly filled with a foul odor.  I immediately suspected a Madeleine fart.

ME: Madeleine, do you need to poop?
MADELEINE: (cheerfully) Yes!  And Mama?  I also need to go PEE.

Excellent.  So I spent the first few minutes at the restaurant in the bathroom stall, holding up Madeleine's dress.

MADELEINE: Mama?  On the show "Wild Kratts,"-
ME: Madeleine, focus on getting your poop out!
MADELEINE: Oh, yeah!  (turning beet red and straining.). Mama?  Sometimes it takes awhile, when I've been WAITING a long time.  (straining and turning red again).  Mama?  This time I *definitely * feel poopies... (straining one last time, then relaxing.)
ME: Did you get poopies out?
MADELEINE: Yes.  And Mama.  It was ONE BIG LOG.  EWW.  Mama.  I don't EVER want to look at my poop.  But...I just DO look, because...I'm just CURIOUS what it looks like.

Great to hear.  Mushy Indian food was a perfect dinner after that bathroom experience.

All kidding aside, the food was delicious.
While the kids were wise enough to stop eating once they got full, Ethan and I stuffed ourselves silly.

ME: Ugh, I feel like I'm gonna barf.
MADELEINE: (not AT ALL in an indoor voice) Mama, to BARF means to VOMIT.  And-
ETHAN: (cautioning) Madeleine.  Madeleine.
MADELEINE: (paying no heed) So when you BARF, you VOMIT-
ETHAN: Madeleine.
MADELEINE: And when you VOMIT,
ETHAN: Madeleine!

At this point, the waitress approached, and even she was cracking up.  Nice fine dining etiquette, Madeleine.

Today has been a lower-key day, since we spent the afternoon in North Conway.  The girls had a ball at the town playground:

Madeleine roped Ethan into an involved pretend-play game of McKenna (American Girl of the year in 2012) and Harry (Potter.)
Two characters I would never have imagined together, but they sure worked hard to beat their foe.

MADELEINE: (leaning over to study the in scripted plaque on a park bench). Harry!  Look what this says.  ("Reading" the plaque.) Voldemort!
ETHAN: Quick McKenna! Do you have a spell we can use against Voldemort?
MADELEINE: Uh, yes!  My Severe Thunderstorm spell!  It shoots severe thunderstorms down on anyone EVIL!

I guess those severe weather alerts from a few days back have really ingrained themselves in Madeleine's brain.

For some unexplained reason, using the Severe Thunderstorm Spell involved building multiple birds' nests out of wood chips.  But hey, if it gets the job done. I'm not going to question the methods.

Madeleine with one of her magical bird nests.

While McKenna and Harry fought evil, Julia and I wandered across the street to check out the store of her dreams:

We bought a few inexpensive Spirit Stones, but it was clear Julia could have shopped for hours.

JULIA: Mom, the minute we walked into the store. I was just, like, FALLING IN LOVE with everything!

Julia certainly doesn't have obsessive interests or anythinng.

Off to enjoy more vacation adventures now!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Days 2 and 3

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous up in New Hampshire, so we were able to do the big event the girls had been waiting for:


I was worried that since the girls are two years older now than they were when we last visited Story Land, they would have outgrown some of the fun.  But nope.  They were SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED to be there that they were literally plowing into smaller kids as they scampered off to check out all the sites they remembered.  The first twenty minutes of Story Land was a constant barrage of talkings-to about awareness of our surroundings when there are so many people around.

After we toured the Story Book area, we took the girls on a bunch of rides.  There is a brand new ride at Story Land this summer, the "Roarasaurus," which is a legitimate roller coaster.  Very different from the kiddie "Polar Coaster" that we had previously ridden.  The girls, of course, were desperate to take a ride on the Roarasaurus.


The ride was as wild as it looked, with a huge plummet near the beginning that sent MY stomach into my throat, so I can't imagine how thrilling it was for the girls.  When we finished, Julia was jubilant.  "I LOOOOVED it!" she proclaimed, so I looked back at Madeleine, who was sitting with Ethan, to see if she shared Julia's joy. 

Madeleine instead looked rather shell-shocked.

ME: Madeleine, what did you think of that ride?
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama, well, THIS is the face I was making: (spreading her lips outwards into a grimace), because Mama.  I was FA-REEEAKED OUT!

Madeleine was less fareeeaked out by the flume, which has just one stomach-lurching drop, right at the end of the ride.  In fact, both girls loved the flume so much that we probably rode it about five times in a row.  On the last round of flume-riding, I sat out while Ethan took the girls:

Since we were already pretty wet by then, our next activity was the fountains, through which the girls ran wildly in their bathing suits, once again somewhat oblivious to all the little kids around them.  In fact, Julia and Madeleine were at least a foot taller than any of the other kids in the fountain, so Ethan and I spent a lot of time calling them out for not being aware enough of the kids around them.  Julia, in particular, looked HUGE, especially since she's so tall for her age.

As Ethan put it: "I wonder if the other parents are looking at Julia and thinking, 'What's up with this NINE-year-old who is acting so immature?"

After the girls had had their water fun, we offered them the chance to ride on one last thing before we headed back to the hotel.  For once, they were in agreement: the Roarasaurus.  Yes, that's right, despite having been FAREEEAKED out, Madeleine was gung-ho about riding it again.  And so we did, and everyone had a blast, even the four-year-old.

Everyone was so tired after our exciting day that we all slept late this morning, with the kids waking before the parents but playing and reading so as to let us sleep in.  In fact, we nearly missed the hotel breakfast, which is served from 8-9am, because we slept until five of nine, so we had quite a scramble to get over there and seat ourselves.

Now that the girls are older, they're able to order for themselves; Julia, in fact, can read the menu on her own and choose what she wants without any help from us.  However, there's a huge difference in the ordering style of both girls.  Case in point, this morning's breakfast:

JULIA: Can I please have chocolate chip pancakes?
SERVER: Certainly.  And would you like any bacon or sausage with that?
JULIA:, thank you.
SERVER: (turning to Madeleine) And for you?
MADELEINE: (speaking so quietly the server had to lean forward to hear her) Uh, I want chocolate chip pancakes too, and...NOTHING else.

We'll work on those pleases and thank yous, Madeleine.

Today's fun adventure was driving over to Lincoln in order to play in the water at the Whale's Tail.  Despite some cloud cover that made us all a bit chilly, the girls had an absolute BLAST.  I have never seen such simulataneous teeth-chattering, blue-lipped shivering combined with gleeful delighted head-first plunges into water before.  Julia kept up her totally bad-ass love of all rides wild and crazy, and tried out even the most nerve-wracking of waterslides, including one which starts with a vertical drop before curving into an actual slide.  Apparently, the thing that prompted Julia to give the drop-ride a try was going through the tunnel waterslide in the kiddie Pirate's Cove. 

JULIA: So Mom, what made me realize I was brave enough to try the drop slide was that I went through that red slide where it's all dark inside the tunnel, and I thought: if I can go through a waterslide in the DARK, then I can probably do the DROP one!

Yes, because going on a slide in the toddler section, albeit a dark one, is definitely the equivalent of going on a slide that even adults were afraid to try.  (Not this adult, though, and not Ethan, either.  We totally went for it.)

Both Madeleine and Julia loved the wave pool, and of course, when it was time for the massive bucket of water to dump all over the Pirate's Cove, they both stood in prime position to get as soaked as possible.  These are definitely kids who love getting wet and wild.

Julia, the water-slide daredevil

At any rate, days 2 and 3 of vacation have been a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to what lies in store for tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 1

Our first full day of vacation was rainy, so we spent our morning at the Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum.  Julia and I got all historical, putting together a series of tiles with dates of historical events in chronological order.  It's almost as if the activity had been custom-made for Julia; among the dated events were the years in which each American Girl lived.  Madeleine and Julia also got to embrace their love for imaginary play in the housekeeping room, climb around in a tree house, and explore in the space and Under the Sea rooms.

After the museum, we took advantage of a break in the rain to ride aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad.  The train is a refurbished Boston-Maine train from the 1800s, so Julia was delighted.  I tried to engage Madeleine in one of her own obsessions as we rode through the woods, but she was NOT GAME to my foolishness.

ME: Oh my gosh, do you think the Hocus Pocus witches are in these woods??
ME: But I thought I just saw a witch claw!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  It was probably just...a BIRD.
ME: But I think the witches are gonna try and find us!  Save me, Emily Binx!
MADELEINE: Mama!  Don't CALL me that!

Hocus Pocus EPIC FAIL.

After the railway ride, the rain returned, so we holed up in the hotel room for awhile, reading, watching TV, and coloring.  Madeleine's TV show got interrupted a million times with severe weather alerts.  We decided to wait out the storm before going out to dinner.

ME: Madeleine, we're just waiting for the thou derstorm to pass through before we go to the restaurant.
MADELEINE: And Mama.  It's SRAVERE!  Yeah.  They said it's deadly lightning blowing like FIFTEEN TIMES!

She's a wise one.

Luckily, the storm finally calmed, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Margarita Grill.

And today: off to Story Land!

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Hampshire!

The girls have been counting down the days until our New Hampshire vacation, and yesterday the wait was finally over!  Julia had begged and begged to buy a pile of vacation books to read during the course of our trip, and when it was time to leave, she wasted no time cracking open "Who Were the Beatles."

JULIA: Mom?  I'm not even gonna wait until we're on the highway.  As soon as we even start going out of the driveway I'm gonna start reading one of my NEW BOOKS!

And she held fast to that resolution.  In fact, she has already finished three books.  We have been in New Hampshire for less than 24 hours.

The books were a great way to keep Julia entertained during the car ride; there was a lot less of this: "UGHHH.  How much LONGER?" on our drive.  In fact, Julia announced at one point, "Mom, I haven't even been bored at ALL because I'm so interested in my books!  See, Daddy, I TOLD you I wasn't gonna get bored on the car ride!"

Of course, she said this when we were still in Massachusetts.  By the time we were about 20 minutes from our destination, and stuck in traffic, Julia was much less optimistic about sitting in the car.  But at least we had a good 3 hours of NO complaining on our way up!

Once we had checked into our hotel, the girls were eager to hit the swimming pool, and they had an absolute blast.  I had bought some shark-shaped diving sticks, so that Julia could practice her surface dives in the deep end, and they were such a hit that we wound up sharing them with another kid who was in the pool.  Julia, therefore, got to swim in the deep end with a new friend!

For dinner, we headed over the hotel pub, where the girls got to order some of their favorite meals: chicken fingers and fries for Julia, and pasta with butter for Madeleine.  The only problem with Madeleine's dinner was that the pasta was linguine, which was hard for Madeleine to get on her fork and get into her mouth.  At one point, the waitress stopped by to see how we were doing.

WAITRESS: How's everything here?
ETHAN AND I : Delicious, thank you.
MADELEINE: (staring up balefully at the watiress) Uh, I wish you didn't give me pasta that's this LONG.

Luckily, the waitress had already started heading to another table when Madeleine voiced her complaint, so only Ethan and I heard what she had to say.  A moment later, realizing her pasta situation was no better, Madeleine began twirling her linguine around her fork, and with a long-suffering sigh, brought it towards her mouth.

Ethan saved the day by cutting the pasta into small pieces, and all was once again right with the world.

As we settled into bed last night, the girls excitedly snuggled together on the sofa bed while Ethan and I went to watch tv in the separate bedroom.  Now, the girls NEVER sleep well when we're not in our usual beds, and they have an especially hard time the first night in a new place.  However, I had not expected things to be QUITE as difficult as they were last night. 

A synopsis of the evening.

ETHAN AND I: (watching tv)
JULIA: (bursting into the bedroom) Mommy, I can't SLEEP because Madeleine keeps, like, GRABBING my pajamas and wiggling around and stuff.
ME: Okay.  Tell her to give you some space.  Go to bed now.

Ten minutes later:

JULIA: (bursting into the bedroom) Mommy?  I just can't fall asleep with Madeleine wiggling all around.
ME: Well, I'm sure she'll fall asleep soon and then she'll be still. Just lay there and try to get to sleep.

Ten minutes later:

MADELEINE: (bursting into the bedroom)
ETHAN: What is it?
MADELEINE: (staring at us with a forlorn expression)
ME: What's the matter Madeleine?
MADELEINE: I...I...I saw...a DRAGON.
ME: There's no such thing as dragons.  Go back to sleep.

At this point, I walked Madeleine back to the bed, to discover, to my relief, that Julia was finally asleep.

But not for long!

Ten minutes later:

JULIA: (bursting into the bedroom) Mommy?  Madeleine woke me up and now I can't fall back asleep.
ME: Honey, you were just sleeping, so I know you'll fall back asleep.  Just lay there for a few minutes and I'm sure you'll get tired.

Ten minutes later:

JULIA: (bursting into the bedroom) Mommy?  I just can't fall asleep with Madeleine WIGGLING all around!

I then walked Julia back to the sofa bed, to discover that Madeleine was sound asleep.  Apparently the girls were only capable of sleeping one at a time.  I assured Julia that she would fall asleep soon, and left her once again.

I think they were finally both out by around 10pm.  Let's hope tonight goes more smoothly!

And now we are off to enjoy a rainy day at the Children's Museum in town, and perhaps a historic train ride later in the afternoon! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Diving and Dancing

Yesterday featured exciting performances by both girls!

Madeleine jumped off the diving board all by herself, without being caught by a lifeguard, for the second day in a row.  I managed to get her jump on video, and if you look and listen closely, you can see her making a surfer hand gesture and then shrieking "Cowabunga Dude!" as she plunged into the water:

Julia's performance took place at the end of her Summer Explorations course, "American Girl: Past and Present."  Her class demonstrated a hula dance, which American Girl Molly McIntyre had done in one of the books:

Bravo to both girls!  It was a week full of progress!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Baby's Checkup with Dr. Madeleine

Last night, Madeleine got busy with the play doctor kit, giving a full check-up to one of her baby dolls.

After administering the whole exam, Madeleine ran over to report on how it went.

MADELEINE: Mama!  The baby has been SO well...epsept...SCREAM and CRY when I put the BALL scissors around him.  So...I gave him OFFICIAL reward of gorillas and a milkie cup.

Most babies scream and cry during their check-ups, in my experience.  Especially during shots.  So the fact that the baby was SO well is truly remarkable news.  However, I'm not surprised he screamed and cried when Dr. Madeleine put the ball scissors around him.  I mean, I'm a adult, and I don't think I'd like ball scissors put around me.  I can't imagine what sort of doctor needs to put scissors around a baby.  Was Madeleine cutting his umbilical cord or something??  At any rate, I'm glad Madeleine OFFICIALLY rewarded the baby with gorillas:

On second thought, maybe the gorillas are less of a reward and more of a means of inspiring sheer and utter terror in poor baby.

I guess I should expect such a random prize as gorillas from the kid who just carried on this conversation with me, upon waking and coming downstairs:

MADELEINE: Mama?  I feel a little EMBARRASSED, but I think there's DIRT on the bathroom sink.
ME: Oh, that's not dirt.  It's just coffee.  I ground the coffee in here so I wouldn't wake everyone up with the noise.
MADELEINE: Oh.  And Mama?  Do you think it's WEIRD that I'm still learning how to talk?
ME: No, I don't think it's weird.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because...Ally on "Curious George" is still learning how to talk.  Because she can't say "responsibility."
ME: But you can say that, you big girl!
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I can't say OTHER words that...that...that I never learned when I was a BABY.  Uh, Mama?  Can you itch my back?  It really needs a massage.

As usual, I'm at a loss for words.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Remarks

Random Madeleine remarks from the past 24 hours:


In the middle of dinner last night:

MADELEINE: Mama?  Ernie is kind of...EXCITED, and Bert is just kind of TIRED.
ME: Oh.
MADELEINE: Well, not TIRED, but just...just...just...

She never did complete that thought.  I'm not even sure where the whole thing came from in the first place.  Had we been discussing anything even REMOTELY related to Ernie and Bert at dinner?  Nope.  Have the kids watched anything "Sesame Street"-related lately?  Nope.  No clue what could have been going through Madeleine's mind.


Getting into the shower after Free Swim today:

MADELEINE: Mama?  I feel BRAIN is gonna fall off.

I, personally, feel like her brain is going to explode, rather than fall off, from the constant influx of highly imaginative, completely random thoughts and ideas.


While playing with the play-kitchen today:

MADELEINE: (forlornly) Mama?  No one will sell my money.
ME: What money?
MADELEINE: The money that I'm trying to SELL.  Mama?  Would YOU like to help me sell my money?
ME: Who are you trying to sell your money to?
MADELEINE: Uh, I'm trying to sell it to the people who don't HAVE any money.  Here Mama.  I'll go get my money for you and you can try to sell it.  (scampering off, and returning a moment later with a plastic play-milk carton.)  Here's my money jar Mama!

I wonder how she expects the people with no money to actually pay for the money that she is selling.


After tiring of the "selling money" game, Madeleine decided to sell something less abstract in her play kitchen.

MADELEINE: Cupcakes for sale!  Mama?  Can you come buy a cupcake?
ME: Why don't you go ask Julia?
MADELEINE: Julia!  Cupcakes for sale!  FREE cupcakes for sale!

And now we've done a full reversal.  What should the people buying cupcakes give in exchange for the cupcake if the cupcakes that are for sale are free??

Yikes.  This is enough thought-twisting, mind-teasing confusion that I'm pretty sure that MY brain is going to fall off.

Monday, July 21, 2014

When the Moon Reches the Stars

Despite the fact that Julia spent all morning at her week-long course, "American Girl: Past and Present," AND spent several hours at the pool during Free Swim this afternoon, she somehow STILL had time to write an entire book of poems.  Behold the latest:

When the Moon Reches the Stars
By Julia Rowe

The first poem shares its name with the book's title :
When the Moon Reches the Stars

"When the moon reches the stars, everyone is filled with happiness, untill it is shining so bright, that it almost look's as though it is daylight!"

Wow, rhyming words, similes, talk of emotions, and everything!  We're off to a great start!

The Octopus

"Ther is an octopus in the sea, and that is why when I don't go in the sea, it fill's my hert with glee!"

I don't know if I agree.  When I don't go in the sea, there are other reasons that I see, why I fill my hert with glee.  An octopus doesn't bother me, but if I see a shark, I'll flee!

Aura Boriloase

"The aura boriolase is shining to brighly I fe'll so happy."

I guess Julia gave up on the rhyme idea in this one.  And also, I wonder what an aura boriloase is.  Do you think it could be related to an aurora borealis??


"There is no such thing as a gulomphalot.  Good-biy!"

Whew.  I'm so glad there's no such thing as a gulomphalot, because if the above drawing is representative of what a gulomphalot would look like, SHOULD there ever exist such a thing, I'm pretty sure I would never want to meet one.  Talk about creepy.  It kind of looks like one of Madeleine's drawings.

Also, I like the fact that Julia put a big circle with slash around/through the gulomphalot, *just in case* we didn't get the point that it doesn't exist.

 The Eliphant

"This eliphant can't have a poem, it's to big.  (Sorry!)"

Wait.  How was the moon able to have a poem but the eliphant doesn't get one?  An eliphant is WAY smaller than the moon!!


"There is a tornado spining around.  It makes an awful sound!"

I gather that's supposed to be a picture of a tornado, but I can't help thinking it looks like menstrual blood making its way through the uterus and down the vaginal canal.


"This apple is so crunchy and round.  It makes a crunchy sound when I chew!  Just ask Seu.  My apple is red.  It really looks like a suit because it is a fruit."

Okay, Jules.  I don't think you reeeeally think the apple looks just like a suit.  Methinks you might have been over-reaching for a rhyme there.

Speaking of:


"This tree is super prett-y!"

Personally, I would have gone with "This tree is fun for you and me!"  But I'm no poet.

The Bug
"The bug is small.  It is far from tall!  It is short, it is all I could ever wish for!"

I guess in Julia's mind, a small bug is way better than a big bug, still, knowing the way BOTH my kids are about bugs, I certainly can't imagine any bug ever being all Julia could ever wish for.

Letter A

"Letter A, like a school girl, always uses notes.  Unlike some people, it plays alone.  It is bound to please you!"

This poem is definitely my favorite.  I love Julia's take on James Joycian, abstract poetry that DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

And finally, we bid adieu to our poetic friends:


"Biy-biy poems, biy-biy octopus, and biy-biy bug.  Biy-biy to the fun we had together.  =(  But - see you tomorow, in good weather!"

Awwwww!  What a wonderful ending!  Kudos to you for CROSSING-OUT that frowny face, Julia.  Always look on the bright side of life, right?!

And with that, blog-readers, I must also say biy-biy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pirates and More

Only Madeleine can draw a picture of a fairy princess outside a castle that somehow manages to look like a floating bride of the undead coming out to haunt the rest of the kingdom:


Despite the fact that she is drawing pictures about princesses, Madeleine was busy acting the part of pirate at our town pool's recent Family Fun Night.  Pirate Julia joined in the fun as well, of course:


While at Family Fun Night, the girls got to participate in a dunking game, in which they stood in line for a turn to throw a water balloon at two lifeguards, who were sitting afloat on a "plank" (really a big boogie board, but that's not nearly as exciting.)  When Madeleine had her turn, she took aim and threw in earnest, only to have the balloon plop down in the water about a foot in front of her, nowhere near the lifeguards.  Good thing she waited so patiently in line to have her turn to COMPLETELY miss the mark.  Julia had more success, hitting the boogie board directly in between the two lifeguards, which was enough to fill her with pride for the rest of the night.

JULIA: Mom?  Do you think everyone was really SURPRISED that I got it so close to the lifeguards?  Well Mom.  What did people DO after I did my throw?  Do you think people thought I had the closest throw?

She doesn't perseverate over her performance AT ALL.  (She is clearly nothing like her parents.)

There was also a scavenger hunt for a treasure map, complete with an "X" marks the spot on which the kids found a bag of candy.  While on the scavenger hunt, the group of kids discovered a skunk hanging out on the pool playground.

JULIA: Mommy?  I wish skunks didn't spray stinky spray, because I think that skunks are so CUTE!
MADELEINE: And Mama?  When I saw the skunk, I was like: (adopting a cooing, gushing voice as if talking to a baby) "Ohhhh, da BOOBOO-HEADY!"

I'm so glad my kids are in love with skunks.  What a practical animal to be drooling over.

MADELEINE: But Mama?  You know what my REAL favorite animal is?: CLARA!

Apparently Clara is the REAL booboo-heady:

As we were leaving the pool, Madeleine repeatedly tried to shout to one of the lifeguards (one of the two who had been on the plank) that there was a water balloon laying on the pavement by the guard shed.  Unfortunately, the lifeguard was in conversation with a group of other guards, so he didn't hear Madeleine's call.  In a last-ditch attempt, as we were turning the corner to exit the pool, Madeleine bellowed out, "I don't know HOW MANY TIMES I have to WARN YOU that there's a WATER BALLOON sitting on the GROUND OVER THERE!"

What would we do without Madeleine doing her due diligence to keep the world safe? 

Today was full of fun adventures for the girls as well, as we attended a bbq in celebration of our friend Wyatt's birthday.  Not only did the girls get to try out a zip line,:

but they got to make the proverbial splash on the Slip 'n Slide:

And, of course, they got to play with their good friends Jovina, Wyatt and Quinn.  Madeleine was so excited to be part of the gang that I think she took to announcing things simply for the sake of talking to her buddies.

MADELEINE: Jovina?  At night, I dream of frosting, just like PINKIE PIE!
JOVINA: At night you dream of what??

Don't even bother to understand, Jovina.  It doesn't really even make any sense and it's also not even really true.

All in all, it was quite the action-packed weekend for our little pirates/zip-liners/slip 'n sliders!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Things We Said (and Did) Today

Here are some conversations we had today:

MADELEINE: Mama?  If somebody built a house on Mount Everest...they COULDN'T, would be on a POINT!
ME: Oh, yeah, you're right.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because the top of Mount Everest is a POINT.  But...up close, they make it look ROUND.  But it's REALLY supposed to be a point.
ME: Oh, I see.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  It's a POINT.  And...Mama?  Mount Everest isn't REAL.
ME: It IS real, honey.
MADELEINE: Uh, no, it ISN'T real.

Huh.  I guess I've been believing a myth all this time.  Madeleine knows best, right?

And now onto our knock-knock joke session:

JULIA: Mommy.  Why did the chicken cross the road?
ME: To get to the other side.
JULIA: Right!  Madeleine.  Why did the chicken cross the playground?
MADELEINE: (earnestly) Uh...because he wanted to PLAY on it??
JULIA: (unimpressed with her sister's dunce-hood) No.  Madeleine.  To get to the other SLIDE.

Oh, Madeleine.  You're such a knock-knock joke novice.

And here are some things that happened today:

The girls played an elaborate game of "store."  Julia was the store clerk first, sitting at the dining room table with her play computer as a cash register.  Madeleine came in with a shopping basket full of play food, which Julia rang up (while making the following sound: "Boop!" as she scanned the item, then "Nrrrrrr!" as she made the item run down an imaginary conveyer belt.)  Julia had given Madeleine a dollar, as well as a gift card to Orange Leaf, which was to be used as a credit card in this case, so that Madeleine could "pay" for her groceries.  Julia subsequently bagged them up in the plastic bags she had put beside the table, then gave Madeleine a receipt which she had dug out of our paper recycling bin, and had Madeleine write her name on the receipt. 

When it was Madeleine's turn to be store clerk, things went a little less smoothly.

JULIA: (walking up to the "cash register" with her basket of items.)  Hello.  Do you take cash or credit?
MADELEINE: (staring blankly at Julia)
JULIA: Madeleine.  You have to answer!  Do you take cash or credit?
MADELEINE: Uh, Julia, tell me what the answer is.
JULIA: No!  Madeleine!  You have to tell ME.
ME: (interjecting) Madeleine, just say: "we take both."
MADELEINE: We take both.
JULIA: Okay.  Here are my items.  Uh, Madeleine.  Aren't you going to ring them up??
MADELEINE: Oh!  Sorry.  Boop!  Nrrrr.  Boop!  Nrrrr. Hey Julia!  Guess what I got stuck in my head?  "Boop!  Nrrrrr!"
JULIA: (handing Madeleine her "credit card") Here you go.
MADELEINE: You're welcome.
JULIA: No.  Madeleine!  You don't say "you're welcome!" 
MADELEINE: Well Julia-
JULIA: No, Madeleine, I just gave you my credit card and you said "you're welcome."  You're supposed to say "thank you" and then swipe my card!

Despite the rocky start, however, Madeleine was able to bag Julia's groceries and Julia signed her own receipt, heading off to put her groceries away before switching back to being the cashier for the next round of "store."

And the final thing that happened today:

Madeleine accidentally dropped Julia's "My Little Pony" pet duck, which Julia named Ducksina, into the toilet after she had pooped.  Before she had flushed.  So poor Ducksina was just floating along atop a turd as Madeleine shrieked hysterically for us to come help her out.  Ethan rescued Ducksina, but tossed her in the garbage, much to Julia's dismay.  It was a lot of tears, folks.  Over a tiny plastic duck smaller than my pinky finger.  Sorry, Ducksina.  It was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colonial School

Yesterday, Julia hosted a play-date with one of her best friends, a fellow American-Girl lover and history aficianado, with whom she plays "Colonial School."  Last afternoon's game got REALLY extravagant, with Julia and her friend donning what they deemed to be "colonial" dresses and putting together a formal colonial tea-time and dance party.

I would think that young girls in colonial times wore dresses a bit more practical than Julia chose; I was thinking long-sleeved dresses with an apron and a cap, but Julia insisted on the following:

These are identical, hand-me-down, worn-only-once bridesmaids dresses that I got from a friend last spring.  I really can't imagine what else they would be suited for besides a wedding or a First Communion (and we're not Catholic.)  But apparently Julia feels they represent the colonial schoolgirl fashion, so she and her friend were delighted to be wearing them.

Julia was especially thrilled to discover that the dresses contained petticoats. 

JULIA: Mommy!  This is REALLY like a colonial dress, because it has PETTICOATS!  See?  When I kneel down, it stays in shape on the ground!

Is that what petticoats are?  I didn't know, so I had to google it.  Turns out I should have known to trust that Julia would know exactly what a petticoat is.

Madeleine was graciously allowed to attend the colonial school, wearing a church dress that had an inner layer that I tried to pass off as petticoats to avoid the whole jealousy thing. 

MADELEINE: Julia, look, I have petticoats too!
JULIA: Madeleine.  That's not a petticoat.  A petticoat keeps the SHAPE of the dress like THIS (demonstrating.)
JULIA: Madeleine.  You DON'T even know what a petticoat IS.
ME: Julia, it's okay.  Madeleine has petticoats too.
JULIA: No, Mommy, a petticoat-
ME: (glaring at Julia) Just drop it Julia.  MADELEINE HAS PETTICOATS TOO, RIGHT?
JULIA: (finally catching on) Oh.  Yeah!

Unfortunately, Madeleine's attendance at the colonial school was short-lived; she got kicked out for not being lady-like enough.

JULIA: (freaking out) Madeleine!  You're not doing what a colonial girl is SUPPOSED to do!  You're SUPPOSED to be acting LADY-LIKE, and instead you're just GOOFING AROUND! 
MADELEINE: Well Julia-
JULIA: Mooooooooom!  Madeleine is NOT cooperating!  She's supposed to be acting LADY-LIKE and she's just GOOFING AROUND!
ME: Madeleine, come on downstairs and hang out with me.

Colonial school proceeded to the ballroom (living room), wherein Julia's friend danced as Julia played classical music on the piano.  Then it was time for colonial tea, and Julia worked hard setting the table properly (with plates and "food" from the play-kitchen) while I put on a CD of Jean-Philippe Rameau suites.  Julia's collection of American Girl dolls joined them for the feast.

Sheesh.  If that's what colonial school days were like, I kind of wish I had lived in colonial times!

In completely unrelated news, the Rowe family just had the following conversation:

ETHAN: Courtney, Madeleine says she writes with her left hand.  Is she really left-handed?
ME: No!  She's right-handed.
JULIA: That's because she doesn't know which one is her left hand.
ETHAN: No, she held up her left hand and said "This is the hand I write with."
ME: Madeleine, you write with your right hand, honey.
MADELEINE: No I don't.  (holding up her left hand) I write with THIS hand.
ME: No you don't.
ME: No, honey.  If you picked up a marker to draw, you would do it with your right hand.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  If I picked up a CRAYON...(pausing to think)

The conversation seemed to be over, but a moment later, Madeleine was standing up with her back turned to me.

MADELEINE: Oh, Mama, I know!  When I turn around, THIS (holding up her left hand) is still my LEFT hand.  And when...(turning forward) when...(looking at her hand in confusion) when...WAIT a minute...(pausing to think again.)

She's a brainiac, I tell you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Swimming in the Rain

Yesterday, during free swim at our town pool, we all watched as one of the lifeguards attempted to jump into the deep end out of his lifeguard chair, in a standing position.  This was not done in order to save a floundering child or anything serious like that, but was merely for the lifeguard's (and the gathering audience's) entertainment. 

After the guard successfully made his jump smoothly into the water, his audience grew.  Madeleine and Julia were transfixed by the lane line, watching to see what he would do next.  He then climbed back into the chair and stood backwards, considering a backwards dive into the pool. 

Julia looked extremely nervous.  I felt extremely nervous.  Several of the male lifeguards egged this guard on, while one of the female guards adamantly discouraged him from such tom-foolery. 

During the mix of shouts from the lifeguards, over which the female guard's "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" could be heard bellowing through the air, I suddenly heard Madeleine's little pipsqueak voice pipe up.

MALE GUARDS: C'mon!  You've got an audience now.
MADELEINE: (hollering delightedly) DO IT!

Yes, my little 4-year-old was adding to the peer pressure.  Thankfully, the guard came to his senses and nixed the idea of a backward dive, though his forward-facing jump was enough to fascinate Madeleine even further.

Lucky for Madeleine, she got her own chance to indulge in her daredevil tendencies at today's swim lesson.  Because it was raining, and because the pool has JUST re-opened after a 30 minute thunder closure, Julia and Madeleine wound up being the only two kids to show up at their lesson time today.  Instead of a traditional lesson, the swim teachers made it into a Fun Day, and since there were four guards in the deep end with only two kids, the girls were able to do all sorts of wild and crazy things they're normally not able to do.  Madeleine took great delight in standing up on the giant surfboard, (normally used for kids to sit and ride on) and plunging off the side and under the water.  She also got to take multiple trips to the diving board and jump off by herself.

Jumping off the diving board, in Madeleine's words: "That's, like, the FUNNEST PART EVER."

And she also said this: "I just loooove...uh, I have a CRUSH on the diving board."

She clearly really understands what it means to have a crush.

Julia also got to dive off of the diving board, the dock, and even off of the surfboard, to her heart's content.  There was virtually no line, since it was just Julia and Madeleine taking up the while pool.

Both girls had a blast, despite the rain.  And because Julia was so excited to have gotten what was basically a play-date with her teacher in the deep end, she made sure to make one of her goofy-over-stimulated-completely-inappropriate remarks to her teacher.

JULIA: (making a random announcement) I have a white tank top that has a SPORTS BRA in it and I don't understand WHY I need a SPORTS BRA.

I can always count on Julia to be completely tactful and not awkward AT ALL.

At any rate, it was a great morning for the kids, and I'm especially grateful that we were able to get out to the pool on a day that might have been spent completely cooped up indoors!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Madeleine's Artwork and Comments

Just when I think Madeleine may be developing a gentler, less creepy artistic style (for instance, in this lovely painting of an apple she did today),:

I come across artwork like this:

The people are eerie enough as it is, with their huge bulging eyes and crooked smiles, but don't even get me started on the bloody red winged creatures surrounding them.  Just what. the. heck.

Also, this is Madeleine's camp project, of herself as an astronaut:

If that is the face of the person who will lead our next space mission, I'm kind of a little frightened for the future of our planet.

On another Madeleine topic, here are just a few of the conversations we had over the past day.


ME: Madeleine, I just think you're such a great daughter.
MADELEINE: (lovingly) I feel the same...but...a little bit DIFFERENT.  Because.  You're not my DAUGHTER.  You're my MOMMY.

I definitely wouldn't have understood what she meant if she'd just left it at "I feel the same."  I would have assumed that I am, in fact, Madeleine's daughter.


MADELEINE: Daddy?  The BIG pieces of this burger taste too SPICY.
ETHAN: Would you like me to cut them up into smaller pieces?
ETHAN: (cutting up her burger)
MADELEINE: Mama!  Julia!  Daddy is my HERO!  Because...he cut up my BURGER into smaller pieces!

Way to step up in the line of duty, Ethan.  Just think of all those dangers you faced in your heroic struggle to cut a burger.  You could have cut your finger, or...uh...well, that's about the only danger, but I agree with Madeleine.  You are totally her hero.


(While watching "Frozen")
MADELEINE: Mama?  Elsa is...kind of like...Elsa and Jesus are kind of like the SAME.
ME: They are?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  Because they can both walk on water!

Okay, yeah, they do share that ability.  But I'm not sure if I'd call them the same.  I guess I won't believe in the similarity until I hear Jesus sing "Let it Go."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emily Cole, 1944

Julia has decided to write YET ANOTHER historical book about an American Girl-like character.  This one appears to be strongly based on an actual character from the American Girl books that Julia has read, namely Emily Bennett from "Brave Emily."  Emily Bennett travels from England to Jefferson, Illinois in 1944 to escape the Blitz. 

As you can see, in Julia's book, there are quite a few similarities to "Brave Emily" in both subject, location, and name:

Emily Cole, 1944
Julia Rowe

1. America
2. Arabella
3. The Caretaker
4. Growing Apple trees

JULIA: But Mom?  I forgot what "caretaker" means.

(One might opt not to name chapters after words of which one does not know the definition, but Julia likes to live on the edge when she writes her books.)

"The long train ride to Jefferson, Illinoas, made Emily Cole wonder what family she would go to.  After her family said there good-biy's, Emily rode on a train.  Sence world War 11 was going on.  Emily-"

I just have one question.  Did Emily ride the train across the Atlantic Ocean?  How is it possible that she said good-biy to her family and then got right on the train to America?  Unless she's coming from Canada - and I have a statement from the author that Emily comes from England - I'm not sure how she could have boarded a train immediately after saying good-biy to her English relatives.  Or...MAYBE...this is a book about a MAGIC train that can ride over the water.  Maybe it's a Harry Potter/American Girl HYBRID kind of a book!

"came to America to be safe.  Emily was ventering the train.  And aspite to her curiostie." (at this point Julia was beaming at me with pride over her choice of words.  Even though some of them are not actually real words.)  "She found a small brown woden door.  Carefully, ever so carefully, she turned the knob.  'What could this room be?' she said to herself.  Just then, she jumped.  She herd footsteps and vouices.  She-"

I knew it!  This IS a magic train!  Otherwise why would Emily find this mysterious small brown woden door, aspite to her curiostie?? 

"quikly ran back to her compartmant and threw herself on her bed.  'If only I had a friend to show this mystirius door to!' said Emily loudly.  Whenever she said this, her roommate, Caroline, would jump up.  'Show me what?' she asket.  'Come with me.'  'I want to know, Emily, but I'm not so sure we should be here.  Yes!  We musan't!' said-"

Oh, boy, now Caroline is in on it too!  Even though she insists they musan't, I have a strong feeling that Caroline is going to explore that mystirius woden door with Emily.  Let's find out:

"Caroline.  'Shhh!' said Emily.  'Caroline, be quiet.  People will here you!'  Emily warned.  'I'm just telling you, whatever is in there is probibly a secret,' said Caroline.  'Pphhh, a secret?  I don't think the door would be right here Car-'  Buumm!  'Someone's comeing,' warned Caroline.  Quikly but quietly they ran threw the door."

WAIT!  That's all Julia has written.  I can't believe she's leaving us hanging there, waiting to find out what's threw the woden door!!  Argh, the suspense is going to drive me nuts!  I simply must find out what the deal is with this woden door upon this magical train that can ride over the ocean.  But I won't rush Julia on it.  I musan't.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Barbie Grad School

Julia's latest pretend-play game is a school for Barbie dolls, which she plays while sitting underneath the dining room table.  The Barbies all sit on various dining room chairs, depending on which class they're in.  And yes, they are all in classes, with a particular teacher, despite the fact that this is not an elementary school.

What kind of school is it, then?
JULIA: Well, they have high school, college, but I don't have anyone IN college, and they have grad school.

Interested in what in particular these students do while at high school and graduate school?  

JULIA: Like, I make them have school picture day and, like, show what they want to be when they grow up so the teachers can tell them if they'd be good for doing that.

School picture day basically consisted of various Barbies singing a song that Julia made up that goes like this: "I look fabulous, and everybody knooooows it!"
I literally had it in my head for the rest of the afternoon after hearing one Barbie after another sing it the other day.

To give you a glimpse of what a day in the life of high or graduate school is like for these Barbies, I snapped some photos of them while they attended class last night.

This is the High School class.  The teacher is Mrs. Dunavan, who bears the unfortunate burden of nearly everyone mispronouncing her name.  For some reason, the students are constantly pronouncing it as "Doh-navan," and poor Mrs. DUNavan is constantly correcting them.  I have no idea why Julia decided to add this detail to her pretend play, but there's often no good explanation for why my kids come up with the ideas they do.  At any rate, the students in Mrs. Dunavan's class are Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Tinkerbill, and Silver Mist. 

This is one of the grad school classrooms.  The teacher of this class is Mrs. McKee.  (I initially wrote her name as "McKey" and Julia was quick to proclaim that I had spelled it wrong.  Because not only does she come up with names for her dolls, but she has her own particular spelling in mind when she does so.)
This graduate class is made up of students Luna, Grace, Elsa, Merliah, Isabelle, and Genevieve.  They do a lot of singing in this class.  I overhear their songs all the time.  Elsa, of course, sings "Let it Go" when it's her turn to perform, but the rest of them sing songs that Julia makes up on the spot.

This is the second graduate school classroom.  The teacher is Mrs. Concovich, and her students are Witcha, Anna, Ariel, Jasmine, and Rapunzel.  They ALSO sing a lot in class.  In fact, the Barbies in general have a habit of bursting into song whenever Julia plays with them.

The last grad school teacher is Mrs. Elikee, and she has Emerin, Barbara, Julia, Blair, and Cinderella in her class.  For some reason I missed taking their picture, but you probably get the idea from the above images.  They, as well, sit side by side on their particular dining room chair during class time. 

I *definitely* don't think we have enough Barbie dolls in this house.  In fact, I think we'd better buy some more so that Julia can have at least a FEW Barbies attend the college at this particular school.  It's kind of unfair to the poor college teachers to be student-less, don't you think?  I guess for the meantime we'll have to wait until Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Tinkerbell and Silver Mist graduate from high school to get a good peek at the college classrooms. 

I wonder if Mrs. Dunavan's incoming class of high schoolers will be able to pronounce her name.  I can't wait to find out in Barbie High School: The Next Generation!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Wall Color!

After 2+ weeks of renovations, Ethan and I finally got a first layer of paint on our kitchen walls last night.  The girls were both very enthusiastic about our new color:

JULIA: Mom?  When I go into the kitchen, I feel like I'm in a different place.  Like, I feel like I'm at an open house or something because the walls look so, like, nice and different, and they look like the walls of someone who's going to move.

(It is entirely true that the standard we have set in this house is for things to look not particularly nice - or clean.  Julia picked right up on that.)

Julia also remarked, in the middle of eating lunch, "Mommy, I just can't seem to stop STARING at the kitchen walls!" 

I wonder if it's like staring at the Christmas tree.  Which is an ACTUAL ACTIVITY for Julia during the Yuletide.

Madeleine started the day with a thoughtful and relevant observation:

MADELEINE: It looks so WARM in here!  It looks like FALL!

And things quickly descended into nonsense from there on.

MADELEINE: Daddy!  When the light shines on the paint, it looks like a big EGG!  And...when the light doesn't shine on it, it looks like a POLAR BEAR.  I looks like...a big warm BEAR!

Hmm.  I'm not sure I see much that's egg-like or polar bear-ish in our "toasted sunset" color walls, but to each her own, right?

Meanwhile, when they weren't busy commenting on the walls, the girls were making some brilliantly astute remarks throughout the day. 

Some of the highlights:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  I have a CRUSH on Ginny Weasley!
ME: Do you know what a crush means, Madeleine?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  It means you're in LOVE with someone.  So Mama.  Who do you have a crush on?
ME: Uh...Daddy.
MADELEINE: But do you mean you have a crush on Daddy AND your whole family?
ME: Uh...
MADELEINE: Mama?  You know who I have a crush on the MOST?
ME: Who?
MADELEINE: (joyously) YOU!
ME: You mean you want to marry me?!?
MADELEINE: (in all seriousness) No, I want to marry Julia.
ME: I bet when you're older, you'll wind up falling in love with and marrying someone you haven't even met yet.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  One time, when Auntie Caitlyn and Julia were going into a restaurant, I saw the waiter, and I was like: (making a face with wide eyes and an O-mouth.)
ME:  You were?  How come?
MADELEINE: Because...I thought he was HANDSOME. 
ME: So did you have a crush on the waiter?
MADELEINE: (cheerily) Mmm-hmm.  Because Mama.  I felt it in my HEART.

Oh boy.  Madeleine seems to have crushes left and right.  Some on family members, some on strange adult men, and some on fictional characters from books and movies.  This kid is too in love for her own good!

And then we have this conversation I had with Julia:

JULIA: Mom, do you wanna know a sign I saw on a store that I thought seemed a little GREEDY?
ME: What?
JULIA: I saw a sign that said: "We take gold."
ME: Oh, well you know, jewelry stores will usually give people money in exchange for their gold jewelry.
JULIA: No, Mom, I don't think it was a jewelry store.  And I just, like, thought it seemed greedy, because it's like...they're trying to get RICH or something.

First of all, I'd say MOST business-owners at least have the HOPE of getting rich.  Secondly, I think Julia is taking the sign at its most literal.  Like, as if when someone walks into the store with any sort of gold, the store clerks get all caveman like.  "WE TAKE GOLD!" they grunt, ripping the golden necklace chains off of peoples' necks.

And finally, here's one more conversation with Julia:

JULIA: Mom?  When a road says "T-E-R" after the street name, does that stand for "TURKESS?"
ME: No, it stands for "terrace."
JULIA: Oh.  I think "turkess" sounds better.  It sounds like more of a word that means "ROAD."

What can I say?  Are these kids just TOTALLY WITH THE PROGRAM or what?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another Julia Book

Julia has taken a little break from her Ju-Sa-Lil chapter books in order to write some shorter, non-chapter stories.  Today's was a real winner:

Ophela Kreiger
Julia Rowe

JULIA: Mom?  Do you think people would get MIXED-UP and think that "JULIA ROWE" is the name of the book and it's written BY Ophelia Kreiger?

"Ophela Kreiger was a kind girl.  She loved picking flowers.  'Mummy, um, where are we going for vacaichon, or are we staying here?' Ophela asket.  'We're staying here, and you'll have swiming lessons,' said Mrs. Kreiger."

Wow.  For such wide, square hips, Mrs. Kreiger has some awfully scrawny chicken legs.  It must be hard finding a pants size that fits her properly.

"Swiming lessons!' exclaimed Ophela.  "I allready know how to swim!' she said.  But she went."

Don't worry, Ophela.  Julia also allready knows how to swim, and in fact, she's a really GOOD swimer, but she still goes to swiming lessons too.

"Ophela dicided she loved swiming lessons and wanted to go again next year."

Good dicision, Ophela!

"Oh Mumsy, I just love swiming,' Ophela said.  'You are still takeing them,' said Mrs. Kreiger.

I'm not really sure how Mrs. Kreiger could be missing the point here.  There's nothing to debate here, Mumsy.  Ophela loves swiming, so of course she wants to continue takeing swiming lessons.  Good thing Mrs. Kreiger has Ophela to set her straight.

"Ophela look't at her mother with a big, brown eye.  And said..."

(Julia was SO proud of this picture.  She made me hide my eyes until she was done drawing it so that she could triumphantly present it to me.)

But I digress.  A-hem.  "And said...":
"Mum, I'm going to do swiming forever!"

Hooray!  Swiming forever!  What a happy ending for all involved!

Julia, herself, has been loveing swiming lessons, particularly because she gets to dive off the diving board at each lesson. So I think that she, like Ophela Kreiger, plans to do swiming forever!