Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Morning Madness

Julia is usually pretty good about getting herself ready for school in a timely fashion; in fact, she's often raring to go before I'm quite ready myself.  However, she is not immune to the occasional morning-in-space, in which she's too busy thinking about things and spewing verbal diarrhea to focus on the task at hand.  Today was one such morning. 

ME: Okay, Julia, let me do your hair, and then we've gotta get ready to go.
JULIA: (staring off dreamily as I finish her hairstyle) Mom?  You know what I think is WEIRD?  Like, when you turn EIGHTEEN you're officially an ADULT, but, like...you don't SEEM like you're really an adult yet.
ME: Well, becoming an official adult basically just means that you can make decisions for yourself without your parents, you can live on your own, you can vote for president-
JULIA: Wait, Mom.  If you can live on your own once you're EIGHTEEN, then how come BARBIE is only SEVENTEEN but she's the adult in charge of her house?
ME: Well, probably because she's a doll.  Can you get your socks and shoes?
JULIA: Because in the movies she says she's SEVENTEEN, and, like, she's in CHARGE of her sisters and stuff.

Julia then took off galloping to the living room, where she stood frozen in front of the television set, staring at the "Strawberry Shortcake" episode that was on.

ME: Julia, can you get your socks and shoes?
JULIA: (blankly staring at the screen)
ME: Jules.  Can you get your socks?  Where are you socks?  Did you bring them down?
JULIA: I need to go GET some from my room.
ME: Okay, go.  Hurry.  We need to get to school.
JULIA: (dashing off to her room and returning with socks)
ME: Okay, get your socks and shoes on.
JULIA: (holding her socks and standing in the middle of the kitchen) Mom?  I still remember that trip to Atlanta when Auntie Shannon made that LITTLE BED for us, and I drank from that blue water bottle.
ME: Honey, get your socks and shoes on.  Hurry!
JULIA: (slowly putting her socks on while staring off in the distance) Mom?  Did you know that the other day Sydni wore TWO different shoes because she didn't know which one matched her outfit better?
ME: Oh, wow.  Come on, honey, get your shoes on.
JULIA: Yeah, she had on ONE pink shoe and one PURPLE shoe.
ME: Jules.  Come on.  Sneakers.
JULIA: (slowly fishing around in the shoe bin for her sneakers)
ME: Julia, honey, we're going to be late to school.  You really need to hurry.
JULIA: I'm SORRY!  (breaking into song) I'm sa-sa-sa-SORRY, I'm da-da-da-DORRY!  I'm ca-ca-ca-CORRY!

When we finally got out the door, Julia made up for lost time by doing her usual speed-skipping WAAAAY ahead of me all the way to school.  At least I don't have to worry about her slow-poking it to get there.

Next up was getting Madeleine to school, and this is the sort of adversity I had in store for me:

ME: Okay, Madeleine, let's get your shoes.  It's time for school.
MADELEINE: Mama, can you do this?  (crab-walking backwards while making snuffing sounds) CLOSING your eyes, SNIFFING.  So can you do it?  Closing your eyes, CRAB-WALKING backwards, sniffing.

It's a wonder I get these kids anywhere on time.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Girls Write a Book

An exciting event has occurred in the Rowe household today: both our child ARTHURS are collaborating to make a book together!  Julia is mainly coming up with the text, but Madeleine approves the words, sometimes rejecting an idea and forcing Julia to come up with something new.  The girls are co-illustrators, working together on each page:

(Yes, Madeleine is wearing a bathing suit.)

The name of this amazing new book is:

Zoie and Her Sister Dandilion
For Mom and Dad

Can you guess which person Julia drew and which Madeleine drew??

Pg. 1:

From the get-go, Madeleine's illustration threatened the credibility of Julia's text.  The original words on this page stated simply: "Zoie and Dandilion are both very lucky girls.  They have three sister."

But then Madeleine went and drew what she claims is a baby brother (the figure on the left), but which looks to me more like an adult sized skate-punk with huge, floppy testicles. 

So Julia, flexible author that she is, adjusted the page so that now it reads: "Zoie and Dandilion are both very lucky girls.  They have three sister and one brother.  Two of them are twins."

Pg. 3:

"One day, they both went to pick there pumpkins.  'I like this one,' said Zoie.  'I like this one,' said Dandilion."

The original text for this page was completely nixed by Madeleine.  Julia had offered up this statement: "Every night, Zoie whispers, 'I love you Dandilion' and Dandilion whispers 'I love you too Zoie."  Madeleine had no patience for this touchy-feely nonsense, so Julia had to go back to the drawing board.  Luckily, Julia struck gold with her pumpkin-picking idea, seeing as Madeleine is currently super-obsessed with Halloween.

Also, is Dandilion wearing a squirrel hat on her head or something??

Pg. 3:
"When they got home, Leissa helped Dandilion get into her pajamas.  'I got mine on myself,' Zoie said proudly."

Madeleine foiled this one too...

JULIA: Daddy, me and Madeleine are wriring a book together.  That's Zoie and that's Leissa and Madeleine's drawing Dandilion.
MADELEINE: That's not Dandilion!  That's her DAD!
JULIA: Uh, Madeleine you're SUPPOSED to draw Dandilion.  Because that says that Leissa helped Dandilion get into her pajamas.
MADELEINE: (completely ignoring Julia and talking the dad in a deep booming voice as she continued drawing him.)  Mama, that's their FATHER!

So I guess the father walked in during the whole pajama party.  Looking like he just escaped from prison.  This book is starting to creep me out.

Pg. 4:
"It's Halloween guys!  Time to carve pumpkins!' Dandilion yelled."

According to Julia, Zoie's hair is in her face because she just rolled out of bed.  According to Madeleine, Dandilion is dressed up like a dandelion for Halloween.  In case you couldn't tell by the illustration, which to me looks more like Dandilion was beheaded and then her severed head was stuck to the bristles of a broom with her clothes draped over the handle.

Pg. 5:
"Leissa helped Zoie get the gook out of her pumpkin.  Dad helped carve them."

Madeleine tells me that Zoie's pumpkin accidentally fell on top of her dandelion pigtails.  Then her dad had to jump up into the air to carve it.  I'm sure you know that, though.  Because this picture DOESN'T look like a Zombie girl emitting a soul-sucking black power of nothingness while an evil pumpkin and a corpse are drawn to her.  Right?

Pg. 6:
"This is us in our costums!  Happy Halloween!"

Dandilion is a reindeer for Halloween.  I guess she's not a dandelion anymore.  Zoie is Elsa, and Leissa is Hermione.  I guess the skate-punk baby boy and his twin baby sister don't get to go trick-or-treating.  They must be staying home with the prison-escapee father.

Bravo, girls!  What a great first endeavor as co-authors and co-illustrators!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Ballet

Madeleine insisted that she could teach Auntie Caitlyn how to be a great ballet dancer, which led to the Great Opera/Ballet/Klutz-Fest of 2014:

The opera took a dramatic turn when Auntie Caitlyn, convinced that she would never become the dancer that Madeleine is, decided to quit the ballet world to become a swimmer.  Madeleine adamantly insisted that Auntie Caitlyn keep trying (there was a whole song about "You have to praaaaaactice" that didn't make the video cut), but Caitlyn would have none of her encouragement.  Luckily, the ballet opera was able to wrap up with a satisfying conclusion for all:

Hooray for Madeleine and her three listes!  Now she, Caitlyn and (invisible) Matilda can get ready for the Swim Team Opera in their future!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ballerina Madeleine

After watching "Barbie and the Pink Shoes" this afternoon, Madeleine announced, "I'm an even BETTER dancer than Gisele!"  She then set out to prove her point.  What do you think?  Is she the crème de la crème or what?:

Julia was deeply influenced by the dancing in the movie as well, as you can see from her newest novel:

"Amelie did a little spin as she hung her coat.  She was a dancer.  'Haaahhh!  I have a great idea.  We'le have a Halloween party!'  Kristina exclaimed.  Just then Lillyanna's younger sister Emily came in.  'Mom says you have to finish your homework,' she said."

Woah.  A Halloween party, dancing, AND homework?  This book is off to a thrilling start! And on a side note, could my kids be MORE excited about Halloween?  It seems like Halloween books are a daily craft occurrence in the Rowe household.

I certainly don't think our kids use up enough paper.  We definitely need even MORE hand-written novels and creepy picture books around here, right??

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Halloween Check List

Upon awakening this morning, Madeleine announced that she needed to make a list of Halloween things for us to do.

Her list turned out to be a pictograph:

It appears that we have already accomplished each task on this list, because Madeleine checked off every picture.  Maybe it's just me, but I would think that making a list AFTER having completed each job kind of defeats the purpose.

Now, just in case you can't decipher exactly what the pictures on this list represent, I had Madeleine explain it to me, so I am now qualified to walk you through it.

Up top is a ghost, obviously, although I foolishly assumed it was meant to be our stuffed ghost decoration.  WRONG!

ME: Did you check off the ghost because we have a ghost decoration?

Oh.  Yeah, hanging up blankets, none of which are white, makes much more sense for a ghost than putting up our actual ghost decoration.  Not to mention the fact that Madeleine has it in her brain that we're going to be NAILING BLANKETS TO THE WALL.

Next on the check list, below the ghost, is a picture of a dress.  According to Madeleine, the task is "trying on our COSTUMES."  They truly did already do that.  I might be the only parent in the world who ordered Halloween costumes in August, but THAT'S HOW EXCITED the kids were for Halloween.  They literally begged me for days on end to order their costumes, even though I was still trying to enjoy the last glory days of summer.

Item number three on the list is "bring your candy basket."  Since we already have pumpkin totes with which to trick-or-treat, this task got a good ol' check mark as well. 

Now, the next picture on the check list threw me for a bit of a loop.  It looks like happy lopsided-smile girl is hanging out with a friend who has a scribbled up slice of watermelon coming out of his face.  I couldn't figure the meaning out on my own, but luckily I overheard Madeleine explaining the picture to her sister.

MADELEINE: Julia, I checked THIS one off because you have to ASK permission.
JULIA: (scathingly) You don't have to ASK permission, Madeleine, you have to say THANK YOU.

Hmm.  Still a little foggy on this one.  I'm going to take a gander at it and assume by "ask permission" Madeleine means saying "Trick-or-treat" to the various owners of the houses we stop at.  Maybe that's not a watermelon after all, but a candy bowl.  I'm still confused about why the candy-giver appears to be vomiting the bowl out of her mouth, though.

And here we are, at the final picture!  It's a bat, right?  Since we have a bat decoration I thought I had this one locked up. 

I was way off base though.

MADELEINE: So Mama, the LAST thing on the list is: "HAVE FUN!"

Okay.  I think I get it.  I mean, bats are fun, right?  Who DOESN'T want to play with a bat?  Especially on Halloween!  The risk of rabies just adds to the whole spooky atmosphere, no? 

I've gotta say, I'm loving this check list.  There's nothing that I actually have to do, because we've already done it all!  Seriously, we could just have Halloween happen RIGHT NOW, because we've got blankets, we've got costumes and candy bags, and we TOTALLY know how to ask permission and have fun!  Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 22, 2014


After attending a friend's party this weekend, Julia had some serious thoughts on birthday wishes.

JULIA: Mommy?  You know what my friend said at her party?  She said what she wishes for when she blows out her candle USUALLY COMES TRUE.
ME: Oh, really?
JULIA: Yeah.  But I don't know how that can happen.  What I wish for RARELY comes true.  But maybe that's because I wish for stuff that can't really HAPPEN.  Like Mom.  Last year my wish when I was blowing out my candle was that the characters from Harry Potter could be REAL.
ME: Oh.  Yeah.  Well, that's not something that could actually come true in real life.
JULIA: (thoughtful) Mom.  Maybe my wish THIS year should be to meet Emma Watson.
ME: Yeah, that's a good idea.
JULIA: Yeah.  Because...meeting Emma Watson is not LIKELY, but at least it's something that COULD really happen, unlike the Harry Potter characters coming to life!

Glad to know Julia is aiming for more achievable wishes this coming year. 

Speaking of things that can't be real, Madeleine and I recently had this discussion:

MADELEINE: Mama?  When we were at Santa's Village, did we see Santa?
ME: Um, no, I don't think we actually saw Santa.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  I didn't think so.  (silent, contemplative) And Mama?  Is the Santa that comes to our CHURCH whose lap we sit in NOT the real Santa?
ME: Right.  He's not the real Santa.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  I thought it was not the real Santa.  Because he didn't even LOOK fat.  And...he didn't even TALK like Santa.
ME: Yeah, it was just a volunteer, not the real Santa.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because Mama.  Santa talks more like this: (affecting a deep voice) "Ho, ho, hooooo!"
ME: Right.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  So that's how come I knew it wasn't the REAL Santa.

I like the fact that Madeleine is the expert on what the REAL Santa looks and talks like.  Madeleine has always been one to completely talk out of her butt on subjects about which she actually knows nothing.

Maybe she just needs to WISH that Santa would become real as she blows out the candle at her upcoming birthday party.  Or she could at least wish that she'll get to MEET one of the many, many people who play Santa at Christmas time.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Autumn Treats

The aunties and I tried to treat the girls to some special autumn goodies this weekend. 

Here's how it went over.

FRENCH TOAST, made by Auntie Shannon:

JULIA: (gobbling up her entire plateful, plus ate Madeleine's)  That was YUMMY!

MADELEINE: (eating one piece of French toast) Uh, actually, can I have a bagel?
AUNTIE SHANNON: What about your French toast?
MADELEINE: Well, I don't really LIKE it.
MADELEINE: Well, I don't really like it because...I don't like SPICY things.  (thoughtful) And...I don't really like FRENCH things.


JULIA: (eating her whole entire piece) This bread is yummy! I like it, because I like apples, and I like bread!

MADELEINE: (picking out every chunk of apple she could find) Uh, Mama?  I'm just leaving these PIECES, because...I don't like the WHITE things.
ME: Honey, those are just apples.  You love apples.
MADELEINE: (gravely) Well Mama.  I don't like THESE apples.

APPLE CIDER, poured by Auntie Caitlyn.

JULIA: (gulping down her entire glass) Can I have ANOTHER glass of apple cider? 
ME: Honey, you don't need more.
JULIA:  But Mommy.  Don't you know I *love* apple cider??  It's just really YUMMY.

AUNTIE CAITLYN: Madeleine, would you like a cup of apple cider as a special treat?
MADELEINE: Um, sure!
AUNTIE CAITLYN: Okay, I'll go get you some.
MADELEINE: Okay.  Uh...but...could you make it be LEMONADE, because...I don't really LIKE apple cider.

APPLE CIDER DONUTS, made by Auntie Shannon

JULIA: These are ALSO really yummy!

MADELEINE: (after eating a donut and a donut hole) Um...can I just have ONE MORE big one and ONE MORE little one?

DING DING DING DING!  We have a winner!  Thankfully, Madeleine decided to like and appreciate at least ONE of the weekend's special autumn treats.  Julia, on the other hand, was easy as pie, because in her book, EVERYTHING'S yummy!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Girls' Creations

Even when you think you know exactly what Madeleine's artwork is, you find that she herself has a *completely* different interpretation:

It's a flower and a butterfly, right?


ME: Madeleine, I love your painting.  What a beautiful flower and butterfly.
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama, those are COOKIES.
ME: Oh.  They are?  So what's happening in this painting?
MADELEINE: It's a picture of GIANT cookies that fell into the ocean.
ME: Oh.  How did they fall into the ocean?
MADELEINE: The little girl DROPPED them.

Oh.  Well, giant cookies that fell into the ocean was my SECOND guess after a flower and butterfly.  

At least with Julia, there's no ambiguity, because she makes sure to verbally explain every project she creates. 

JULIA: Mommy!  I made a TON of ACROSTIC POEMS in my notepad today!

I honestly hadn't even been aware that Julia knows what acrostic poems are.  But she certainly does, as evidenced below:


Electric Guitar
Terribly Awsome
Elitrick everything
Super duper awsome

Wait.  Do you think Julia thinks the Beatles are awsome??


October 31st
The Witch

Julia certainly made use of a lot of awe-filled sound effects in this acrostic.  I guess the Beatles aren't the only thing that's AWSOME.


Emma Watson

I'm not sure I would have thought of Penolipie for P.  In fact, I'm not even sure how important a character Penolipie is in the Harry Potter books.  Personally, I might have gone with "Potions" for the letter P.  But that's the magic of Julia the poet: nothing is predictable.  For instance, she sure threw me for a loop by having E be "Emma Watson" but then NOT following suit with R as "Rupert Grint."  Instead, she went with the character name instead of the actor's name, which completely defied my expectations.  Definitely the sign of a great writer! 

In fact, I think I might venture so far as to say that Julia's poetry is terribly, super-duper awsome!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That Rhymes!

As we were walking to pick Julia up from school today, Madeleine suddenly back-tracked to chase after some butterflies.  She stopped inches away from a monarch that was perched on a flower, and started to move closer until I noticed there was a handful of bees swarming the same flower.

ME: Okay, come on, honey, because there are bees there, and you don't want to bother them.
MADELEINE: But Mama!  I've even been right up close to a BIRD before and it was nothing!
ME: Uh...
MADELEINE: Hey!  Mama!  That rhymes with "Oh, come ON, you standed  RIGHT up to a manticore like it was NOTHING!"

I love Madeleine's loose interpretation of the word "rhymes."  What she said about being close to a bird reminded her of a line from "My Little Pony," in which Fluttershy is scolded for being scared to go near a snake after having been brave enough to go near a manticore.  Therefore, the two sentences rhyme.  In Madeleine's mind, the word "rhyme" is apparently interchangeable with the word "reminiscent."

Let's think of all the new ways we can use this definition of "rhyme."  Next time someone says something similar to what I'm thinking, I'll tell them: "Hey!  That rhymes with what I was thinking!"  Or if a scene from a movie is a rip-off of a scene from some other thing, I'll exclaim, "Wait a minute.  This rhymes with the scene from Such-and-Such."  Or when Madeleine copies Julia's drawing, instead of indignantly screeching, "Madeleine!  STOP COPYING ME!"  Julia can instead tell Madeleine to stop rhyming with her.

Or, one can use it as Madeleine just did a moment ago:

MADELEINE: Mama?  Can I have a Halloween Peep for dessert?
ME: Sure.  But go pee-pees first.
MADELEINE: Hey!  Mama!  That RHYMES with peep!

Hey, it turns out rhyming words can also just be the SAME word.  Used in two different contexts.  There's no end to the adventure that can be had with the liberal application of the word "rhyme!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Books, Books, Books

Madeleine is looking to take the "Using Up an Entire Ream of Paper In a Matter of Days" award away from Julia, what with her daily, multi-paged picture books.

Here she is today, hard at work:

MADELEINE: Mama, I think I'm starting to become even MORE of an arthur than Julia!

Some highlights from the arthur's latest work:

MADELEINE: They're planning a music band! 

Sounds like fun!  Who *doesn't* want to play in a band that has a crazy-eyed giant for a conductor?

MADELEINE: Um, that's their CUPCAKE party!

Their cupcakes on the table look more like a Dr. Seussian thing-a-ma-jigger to me, but maybe that's just the way giant ogre band-leaders roll, baby.

MADELEINE: Um, they're having their cupcake party.  Some people are in the sky because they're floating with balloons and STANDING on balloons.

Okay.  I thought this was Madeleine's illustration for the cover of "The Leftovers."  But turns out it's just a good, old-fashioned cupcake party.

MADELEINE: Um, she's jumping up because she likes to, and...and...and (pointing to the girl on the ground) SHE is walking to say hi to the cat.  (Pointing above the cat) That's birthday cake, with candles.

There are many things about this picture that disturb me.  For one, the fact that the candles on the birthday cake look more like explosives than simple kiddie candles.  Secondly, the cat looks like it comes out of Stephen King's Pet Sematary.  The loopy girl walking towards that cat seriously has NO IDEA what's in store for her.  And let's not even mention the person with the thickest arms ever just floating up of into the heavens.

MADELEINE: Um, that's a picture of them balancing on their mom.
ME: Why are they balancing on their mom?
MADELEINE: Because they WANT to.  They're wearing ballet dresses and ballet shoes and fancy HAIRSTYLES.  And having fun.  They're having SMILEY faces on their faces.

They look like they're having fun.  Especially the mom.  Who doesn't look deranged AT ALL.

I can tell the arthur is getting irritated that I'm interrupting her important work to ask her questions about the already-finished pages.  So I'd better just leave her to it.  Never disturb a genius in the midst of his or her creative process.  Especially not one who draws pictures that might come back to haunt you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Madeleine Starts a New Book

Only Madeleine can draw a picture like this and give it the wholesome, innocent title of "Lollipops and Munchkins":

The above picture is part of Madeleine's newest book, and the illustration is given a run for its money by some of the book's other pictures:

I'm pretty sure the unicorn on the left is Twilight Sparkle.  Why she looks like she recently had a complete nervous breakdown and has subsequently gone cuckoo is beyond me.  I'm also not sure why there's a river of blood all over the floor.  And speaking of cuckoo, what's with the Mad Queen up above?  She totally scares me.  And don't even get me STARTED on the purple-haired head with spidery wagon wheels all over it.  WTH.

The people on the right are going to a concert, or so Madeleine tells me.  That's why the man is dressed in a tuxedo.  I'm not sure I know of any concerts at which black tie AND purple hair are compatible, however.  Once again we have our friendly unicorn companion up in the sky, smiling benevolently down on the concert-goers.  Or perhaps she's smiling at the springy-headed deformed zombie-aliens on the left of the page.  Holy God, they freak me out.  WHAT ARE THEY DOING IN THIS PICTURE?  Are they going to suck the souls out of the black-tie couple?  Are they going to HAUNT MY DREAMS TONIGHT?!?

Shudder.  I can't wait to see how the rest of this book turns out.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Happens When Tree's Have Feelings.

On our drive home from church today, Julia raised a poignant question.

JULIA: Mommy?  You know what I sometimes WONDER?  Do you think that TREES have FEELINGS?
ME: Hmmm.  Well, trees are living things, and I know that there are things that can HURT trees, but I don't think they have feelings that are actual emotions. 
JULIA: You know what I think about though?  Like, if the tree branches are blowing in the wind and the leaves are rustling, maybe that's how trees TALK to other trees.

I can suddenly see Julia's future calling: Julia Rowe, Tree Whisperer.

Until she is able to decipher the language of trees, however, Julia satisfied herself by writing a book about the topic of trees and feelings:

What Happens When Tree's Have Feelings.

Julia Rowe

"What happens when trees have feelings?  I've always wondered this as I dance upon the Lilly pads day after day.  The tree would let me pick it's apples and be there with me."

Wait.  Now I have a new question to ask: What happens when little girls dance on Lilly Pads?  Don't they just immediately fall into the pond?  Or are we assuming that in a world in which trees have feelings, humans are able to stand on lily pads without sinking?

"He'de let me dress him up as a prince, with short green bushy hair.  He'de clap for me when I cartweels.  I'de be carefull not to kick him."

Oh, boy, now this is turning into a fairy tale love story between a princess and her noble prince, Tree.  Things have taken an unexpected romantic turn!

"We'de give each other Valentines that say I love you to peices with red sparkaly hearts.  We'de tell each other secrets of what we'de said and heard."

OMG.  Tree and the girl are totes in love.  They're even sharing secrets!  Awww!

"I'de show him when I lot a tooth because I swalloed it.  I know it's fun to imagine.  But for now, I'll play in my tree house."

WAIT A SECOND.  What??  It's all in her imagination??  This has thrown me for a MAJOR loop here, folks.  Just when I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about the bright future that lies ahead for the lovebirds, I find out the tree DOESN'T REALLY HAVE FEELINGS?!?  I think I'm as sad at the end of this book as I am at the end of "The Giving Tree."  Just goes to show you.  Julia is a majorly PROFOUND writer.

At least we get a little inspiring message on the back cover:

"Sometimes you have to have a little imaginacion!"

That's RIGHT, Julia!  And let me say, she surely does have imaginacion aplenty.  Thank goodness for that, because it allows all of us the chance to read the fruits of her very creative mind!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Boxing and Piano

Given the fact that we Rowes are in the midst of a home sale and future move, there has been a lot of talk about packing materials lately.  Even Madeleine found herself interested in helping out.

MADELEINE: (early this morning, upon having woken up) Mama?  What does boxing mean that you keep talking about?

I was about to remind her that she plays Wii Boxing, so she ARDERY knows what boxing is.  Then it dawned on me that she was asking about a different kind of boxing.

ME: Oh, you mean like when I say we need to start boxing things up?
ME: It means putting things into boxes so we can move them into the new house.
MADELEINE: Oh!  Mama!  I can help!

Madeleine quickly got busy boxing up some stuffed animals.  Here's a glimpse of her contribution to our packing process:

Way to go, Madeleine!  With that monumental task over and done with, I feel downright light-hearted about the prospect of packing up EVERYTHING ELSE in our overly cluttered house.

Madeleine has been most productive today; in addition to boxing up stuffed animals, she has also composed MULTIPLE songs for the piano, writing out her own sheet music like this:

Madeleine, unlike Julia, has no qualms about getting her original compositions out on YouTube.  She insisted I come video her playing her new song, despite the fact that I was trying to relax over my morning coffee. 

MADELENE: (brightly) Well Mama.  You can bring your coffee WITH you to the piano!  Okay, come on Mama!

A composer has to support her fellow composers, so off I went with my coffee mug to record Madeleine's premiere performance of her new song, "Piano.":

In case you haven't gotten enough of Madeleine the composer, she made sure to use at least 5 pieces of paper for further compositions.  Stop by the Rowe household and I'm sure she'll give you a private concert!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Who Was...

Julia's newest book series of choice is the "Who Was..." series.  The "Who Was" set consists of biographies and history books, and Julia has already devoured such books as "Who Were the Beatles," "Who Is J.K. Rowling," and "What Was the Underground Railroad." 

This week Julia came home with two new books, one from her school book fair, and the other from her school library.  In typical fashion, she has already delved into both books at once, alternating between them, chapter by chapter. 

Today Madeleine discovered the books sitting on our dining room table, and had a thing or two to say about them.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why on ALL Julia's books that are by J.K. Rowling do the people have GIANT HEADS?
ME: You mean all her "Who Was" books?  I guess that's just how they decide to design the covers.  It looks silly, huh?

Madeleine took a moment to study the covers of both books, then made some critical observations aloud:

MADELEINE: Uh, a FARMER with a giant head and a hat?!?

MADELEINE: Uh, a NATURE GIRL with a giant head and a coat!?

Yeah.  SERIOUSLY, J.K. Rowling.  Stop making your farmers and nature girls and all your other people have such giant heads.  You'd better talk with your illustrator, because MADELEINE DOES NOT APPROVE.

In other news, Madeleine had her first swim lesson of the school year over at the Y today, and she was thrilled to discover that not one but TWO of the kids from her preschool class are also in her swim class.  The fourth child in her class was an unknown, but she sure made an impression on Madeleine.

MADELEINE: (in the car, after her lesson) Mama?  Did you know there's a girl named QUINN in my swim class?
ME: Yes, I heard the teacher call her that.
MADELEINE: (thoughtful) But Mama?  Is Quinn a BOYS name?
ME: Well, it can be a name for a boy or a girl.  We do have a friend named Quinn who's a boy, so that's probably why you're thinking that.  But it can be used for a girl, too.

Apparently the early impression that was made by Quinn faded during the day, because by the time we picked up Julia from school this afternoon, Quinn had morphed into someone else.

MADELEINE: Julia?  Did you know there's a girl named OWEN in my swim lesson?

Okay.  So I'm pretty sure Owen is NOT a unisex name.  But that's fine, because Quinn's name is not really Owen anyway.

At any rate, both girls are happy to be in the swing of their fall schedules, and Julia is thrilled to have brand new reading material.  In fact, I think she's going to settle down and read a chapter of "Who Is Nature Girl" by J.K. Rowling now that we're home from school!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Curriculum Night and Preschool

Last night was Curriculum Night at Julia's school, so I got a chance to visit her classroom and meet her second grade teacher.

The childrens' desks were adorned with a picture the kids had drawn and a sentence about their subject of expertise.  Here was Julia's:

"I am an expert at silent reading.  I've been reading sence I was in kindergarten!"

I've gotta say: Julia seems to have a much stronger grasp on her expert abilities than she did last year, when she contemplated writing her "How To" book on her proposed expertise of painting her nails.  She most definitely is an expert silent reader, and I'm glad she can recognize that!

In other school news, Madeleine FINALLY got to start back up at preschool today.  She was SO excited!:

Madeleine is now in the Dinosaur class, which is made up of the oldest preschool kids, those who are one year away from kindergarten.  After school, I asked her how it felt to be a Dino.

ME: Madeleine, how was Dinosaurs?
ME: So what was it like being a Dinosaur?  Do you get to do different things than you did in the other classes?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Yeah!
ME: Like what?
MADELEINE: Um...um...um...well Mama.  We didn't really do ANY different things.

Regardless of school being the same as it ever was, Madeleine seemed to have a fun first day.  And in what I view as a HUGE leap of progress, apparently when another kid accidentally rode his bike over her foot, she didn't even cry.  I will take any small steps towards reducing the number of daily school sob-fests that I can!

Unlike Julia, Madeleine didn't get to write about what she's an expert in, but she DID get to show off her expert drawing skills with this picture:

ME: Woah, Madeleine, what's this a picture of?
MADELEINE: Oh.  That's me and a SKELETON.
ME: That's a big skeleton.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  He's a GIANT skeleton.
ME: Is he mean?
MADELEINE: No!  He's nice.
ME: Oh.  So you're just hanging out with your skeleton friend?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And Mama.  He likes to LOOK mean, but he's really nice.

Another thing Madeleine could claim to be an expert in: creepy randomness.  Or random creepiness.  Take your pick.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall Fever

They may have been sad to see the summer vacation come to a close, but the girls are now full-steam ahead counting down the days until fall begins. 

Julia went to school in an outfit that she described as: "totally Halloweeny!  I even have orange and black, because my SHOES are black, and I dunno why, but I feel like even my SKIRT looks kinda Halloweeny."

Julia in her totally Halloweeny outfit

As we walked to school this morning, both girls marvelled over the cool morning air and remarked upon the autumn-like feel of the temperature.  On our walk home after dropping Julia off, Madeleine pontificated even more on the impending change of season.

MADELEINE: Mama!  I can't even believe that it's almost fall AND it's almost HALLOWEEN!
ME: I know, they're just around the corner.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  So Mama.  Fall is like...ONE FEET away, and Halloween is like...THREE feet away.
ME: They're getting close, all right!
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And Mama.  What's even the MOST EXCITING is: my BIRTHDAY!

That's right.  Her birthday is right smack in between the Autumnal Equinox and Halloween.  Her birthday is like TWO FEET away.

It may be fall in the girls' spirits, but it's spring-time in Julia's newest historical fiction book:

Lydia's Wish Come's True!
by Julia Rowe

I don't even know what is going on in this cover picture.  Is Lydia being yanked offstage by a cane because her comedic act was so bad??

This new book is only in its early stages, but I will give you all a taste of the next installment in the Lydia Jolliman series, as the author has finished one full chapter and embarked upon the second:

Chapter One: "OH.  MY.  GOSH!"

"Come on Mother!  Please let me ware only two layers of petticoats, 'tis spring!"  Lydia Jolliman was standing in the parlor with her hands on her hips.
"Maybe I geuss so, now take of the other three layers and run along," said Mother, perplexed. 
"How can you stand haveing to persuade your partents let you ware to layers of petticoats?"
Lydia smiled.  "I can't."


"Help!  Oh help!  I'm stuck in river with no way out!" Betsy, Eliza and Lydia were playing a game they made up called "Help!" 
"I'm sorry girls, but I have to go to Father's store," said Lydia. 
As she walked along the busy roads, Lydia saw her two friends, Harriot and Emily, and ran over too them. 
"Would you two like to come to my birthday party?" she asked. 
"Why would we miss your birthday party?" Emily said with a lagh. 
"We've never missed a singgle one of them!" said Harriot, grinning. 
Lydia thought it was good to invite Harriot and Emily, because Harriot loved birthdays and Emily loved partys.
I don't mean to gloat, Lydia thought.  But maybe I'm perfect!


"Lydia, come see!"  It was Father shouting.
"Okay, I'm coming!" Lydia yelled.  She was carrying a bucket of water for her horse. 
"Oh.  My.  Gosh!"

End Chapter.

Sheesh.  Well THAT was a cliff-hanger of an ending!  Luckily, Julia has provided us with the first two pages of Chapter Two, so we can find out what all the ruckus was about.

Chapter Two: "Can You Here Me?"

"Mother!  Mother!  My horse is pregnat!"
"That's great huney, now finish your chores."  Mother was holding Briget, Lydia's baby sister.
"Are you okay?"
But just then, Caroline walked in and her water bucket spilled on Lydia. 
"Oh why do the towles have to be made out of silk?" Lydia complained.  Her bucket of water was right near her feet.  She was drying off, at least trying to get dried off.

And this is where the story ends, for now.  What do you say, readers?  Are you hooked??  Personally, I can't wait for Julia to add to this story so we can get answers to some really important questions.  What will become of the pregnat horse?  Will Lydia's family ever buy some non-silk towles??  And will both Harriot and Emily affirm that Lydia is perfect??  And finally, can anybody here Lydia?  I look very forward to finding out!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lily and Liza's Surprise

Madeleine "wrote" another chapter book today.  I am sitting live with the author, ready to interview her about the meaning behind all of her illustrations.

Take a look at the brand new book, "Lily and Liza's Surprise":

Now, lest you think, as I did, that Lily is thinking about an apple with a bite out of it, here's the author's explanation of her cover illustration: "Um, Lily is thinking that her surprise might be a piñata!"  Piñata, half-eaten apple, whatever; I was close.

Pg. 1:
ME: Madeleine, is that a turkey?
MADELEINE: Um, no, it's a ROOSTER.
ME: Oh. Is it waking everybody up?
MADELEINE: Uh-huh.  Really, really EARLY.

Pg. 2:
I had no idea what was going on in this picture.  Nor did I understand why one of the girls seems to have a baby strapped to her chest.

ME: Madeleine, what's happening in this picture?
MADELEINE: Um, the mom is driving Lily and Liza to school, and...(pointing up top) that's a SPIDER, and it's SHOOTING out its web, and...(pointing to the figure on the left side of the page) that's a little boy HIDING in the trunk because he SNUCK out of his seat.
ME: (pointing to Lily) And what's she doing?
MADELEINE: Um, the girls are just TALKING about their surprise.
ME: But why does Lily have a girl on top of her?
MADELEINE: (sounding offended) She doesn't have a GIRL on her!!
ME: Oh.  But what's this on her? (pointing to the small girl on Lily's chest.)
ME: Oh. So she has a picture of a girl on her shirt?
MADELEINE: Yes.  Because she's a FASHIONTISTA.

Okay.  That clears up a lot.  Just a normal old day in the car, with a resident spider shooting out its web and a stowaway in the trunk.

Pgs. 3-4:
Wow.  SO MUCH going on.  So many questions.  For example: Why is there an eight-armed girl hanging from the ceiling??

ME: Madeleine, will you tell me about these pictures?
MADELEINE: So, in this picture, Liza is reading her book, and in this picture, she's playing on the piano at school and having FUN.  She's thinking about the time that her auntie and her rolled down the pumpkin down the hill.  And her auntie is her TEACHER.  Her auntie is thinking about the time where they baked chocolate chip cookies and the time they made muffins in the fireplace together by accident. 
ME: (pointing to Octo-Human) And who's this hanging from the ceiling?
MADELEINE: Um, that's her sister, Lily.
ME: But why does Lily have so many arms?
MADELEINE: Um, because she's dressed up as a spider. (pointing to the other figure hanging from a string) And that's their brother.  Their brother's name is THOMAS.
ME: But why are they hanging from the ceiling?
MADELEINE: Oh.  Because they're pretending to be SPIDERS.
ME: (pointing to the creature on the top right of the page) And what's this?
MADELEINE: Oh. That's the giant caterpiller that's their baby sister.

I don't know about you, but when my younger siblings, including my BABY SISTER, are hanging from the ceiling by a string, I have absolutely no problem tuning everything out and just chillin' with my nose in a book.

Pgs. 5-6:

ME: Madeleine, can you tell me about these pictures?
MADELEINE:Um, so, Liza's hanging up her backpack and she says to her teacher, "I'm sweating!  (heavy breathing sounds.)  I just got here.  What's that in here for?"  "Oh, it's just for some of the fourth graders to hang up their backpacks.  Only your sister likes to hang her backpack.  She LOVES to."
ME: And what about this page? (pointing to the pictures on the right.)
MADELEINE: (breaking into song) Let it goooo, let the storm rage oooon!  "You're DOING GREAT!  Wow.  You really look like ANNA."  "You're being Elsa for our birthday?"  "How'd you guess?"  "Mom told me."  "(gasping) NO SHE DID NOT!"

I'm not sure I get the connection between Liza being at school and the girls suddenly dressing as "Frozen" characters for their birthday.  But let's read on and see if the next page clarifies things.

Pgs. 7-8:

ME: So Madeleine, what's going on here? (pointing to the drawings on the left.)
MADELEINE: In this picture, they're running from the play ghostes, and they're like (making giggling noises.)  "How'd you do that?"  "It's easy!  All you have to do is play BABY.  And - (gasping) She fell inside the GHOST CAPTURE??"  "Yes.  She did.  I saw it!"
ME: And how about this page? (pointing to the picture on the right.)
MADELEINE: Okay.  So she's saying-
ME: Wait.  Who's saying?
ME: Who's her?  Wait.  Who's this?  (pointing to the figure on the left)
MADELEINE: That's Liza.  (pointing to figure on the right) And that's Liza.
ME: There's two Lizas?
MADELEINE: Yes.  Because her whole family is WITCHES, she made a SPELL, that made her be DOUBLE.
ME: Okay.  So they're both Liza.
MADELEINE: Yes.  And this is what they're saying: "Okay.  So let's try. I want me to be a good listener, so let's try."  "I'd love to!"  "I'd love to!"  "So let's try."  "Of course!"  "Of course!"

Okay.  Even after Madeleine's explanations I'm still as lost as ever.  I guess I'm too much of a dunce to follow Madeleine's complicated plot lines.

Pg. 9:
ME: And tell me about this page.
MADELEINE: Okay.  Um, so...(making eating sounds) "Another cupcake please."  "Here you go."  "This is just the BEST birthday party ever!"  "Let's turn out the lights." "(gasping) The LIGHTS are off!"  "Shh.  (blowing sounds) That was just the BEST CUPCAKE EVER!"  "Me too!"  (turning to me) Okay!  That's alllll!

According to Madeleine, the surprise that is mentioned in the title of this book winds up being a birthday party.  NOT a piñata, as Lily had suspected.  WHAT A SURPRISE!

And that's the end of chapter 1.  If you're lucky, I'll get a chance to sit down with the author again tomorrow and discuss chapter 2!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Walking, Walking

While Madeleine may be sad to have her sister back at school, she is at least LOVING the fact that we've resumed our walking route to and from school.  What with the pool closed for the season and the fact that we're trying to keep our house super clean for showings, it seems both girls have a lot of pent up energy.  And a hopping skip-run to and from school is just the cure!

Yesterday, as we walked to pick up Julia, Madeleine was in a cheery mood.  We passed by a house with a man outside, his back to us, working in his yard.  I usually greet any people we see on our walks, but since he wasn't facing our direction, I walked by in silence.  Madeleine was feeling the spirit, however.

MADELEINE: (as we walked by the house) Hi!
MAN: (turning around to see us, smiling) Hi!
MADELEINE: Mama.  I said "hi" to that man, because I wanted to be NEIGHBORLY!

Way to go, Madeleine!  She went above and beyond to be neighborly in this case.  At least one of my kids is not shy.

On today's walk home from dropping Julia at school, Madeleine decided to delightedly skip-run ahead of me, before stopping dead in her tracks to have a conversation with herself.

MADELEINE: Are you guys okay?
MADELEINE: Okay, c'mon guys!

The invisible guys must have come on, because Madeleine began skipping once again.

ME: Oh, who's with us today?
MADELEINE: Thackery, Emily, Dani, and Allison.  And Max.

So apparently despite the gap of months since we last did the commute to and from school, Madeleine has picked right back up where she left off, playing "Hocus Pocus."

As we walked, Madeleine conversed with some of her invisible friends.

MADELEINE: Come on, Emily, in the MOVIE "Hocus Pocus" you were, like, SEVEN or EIGHT!
ME: How old is Emily right now?
MADELEINE: Uh, she's eight.
ME: Oh.  Okay.

A few moments later, disaster struck, but Madeleine was able to offer a quick fix to the problem.

MADELEINE: Mama!  By accident, I turned Emily into a CAT!  So...so...I had to quickly UN-turn her.  I had to turn her BACK to a human.
ME: Oh, good thing you were there to save the day!

Phew.  That was a close one for Emily.

It's good to have the Hocus Pocus gang all back together now that the school year has started!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Second Grade!

When I started this blog, Julia was a mere three years old. 

Today was the first day of school for my great big SECOND-GRADER!:

She was SO EXCITED.  She took her skipping-off-ahead-of-us on our walk to a WHOLE new level.  She was literally multiple blocks ahead of us by the time she turned back to say something to me.  I saw her little figure way far ahead looking around in confusion, then stopping to wait for us slow-pokes who chose NOT to skip they whole way to school.

Things were off to a great start when the 2nd graders filed into the gym to line up by teacher.  It was so noisy and hot in there that the kids were all kind of out of it.

JULIA'S TEACHER: (approaching Julia with her clipboard) And what's your name?
JULIA: (smiling bewilderedly) Um, GOOD.

NAILED it on the first question posed by the teacher.  Go Jules!  Man, I expected 2nd grade would bring some stumper questions for the class, but I never imagined "what's your name?" would be one Julia would fail at.

As I expected, Madeleine was in pretty serious Julia withdrawal, and was asking as early as 9am if it was time to go pick up Julia from school.  To mitigate her longing for Julia, Madeleine decided to make a book for her sister.  According to Madeleine, it's a "My Little Pony" book, although it doesn't seem to follow the plot of any "My Little Pony" episodes that I know of. 

It starts off innocently enough, with some happy, flying pegasus ponies:

But before long things started getting out of hand.  Here, the ponies seem to be staring in utter confusion, with one demonic red-eyed pony amongst them:

Next thing I knew, the ponies appeared to be doing ballet:

And then ALL chaos broke loose:

I don't even know WHAT is supposed to be going on in the above picture.

At any rate, I hope that Julia likes her first-day-of-school book from her sister!  Pony Pandemonium: a gift for the brand-new second-grader!