Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Big Surprise!

Yesterday, the Rowe family, along with Chad and Aunties Caitlyn and Shannon, went to see Big Hero 6 in the movie theatre.  Little did Ethan and I know that the trip to the movies, arranged by my sisters, was a ploy to get us out of the house so that our friends could set up a surprise house-warming party.  We were, as Madeleine would say, MANGERLY surprised. 

The party was complete with drinks, dinner and desserts, plus a piñata that our friend Neva made in the shape and color of our old house.  In whacking the piñata with a stick, we Rowes were encourged to exorcise all the bad energy of the condo and the hurdles we jumped through to sell it.

Unfortunately, not all of us Rowes thought it was fun to hit the piñata.  Madeleine took her turn third, with the help of Ethan:

When Madeleine failed to immediately burst open the piñata, rather than get in line to wait for her next turn, she opted to run upstairs and sob in her bedroom.

ME: Madeleine, what's the problem?
MADELEINE: (wailing) Daddy made me hit it TOO SOFT!

That mean old Daddy.  He only made you hit it too soft so that HE could be the one to break it open.

Once the first tear in the house had occurred, I tried to entice Madeleine to come out of her bedroom and collect candy.  But she informed me: "No, I'm not EVER eating ANY CANDY ever AGAIN!"  Apparently her desire for sweets won out over her resolve to pout, however, because before I knew it she was tramping down the stairs to the play basement to gather up her goodies. 

Once the adults were ready to grab some food upstairs, Ethan put Julia in charge of the kids in the play room.  He instructed her that if anything was happening that she thought SHOULDN'T be happening, she was to run upstairs and let us know. 

About fifteen minutes later, Julia appeared upstairs with this announcement: "Uh, it's CHAOS downstairs!"

Turns out the chaos in mention was people pretending the Barbie dolls were dead and chucking them across the room, so I think it was a good call on Julia's part to come and alert us.

Despite the piñata drama and the chaos, all Rowes in our household had a really nice time at our surprise party, to the extent that Julia even announced, out of the blue, this morning, "That was REALLY NICE of our friends to throw us a surprise party yesterday." 


Today we were back to routine-mode rather than party-mode, as we headed off to church this morning.  A lot of the kids were absent due to the holiday weekend, so for most of the service Julia and Madeleine were the only children up in the Sunday School pew. 

While the choir sang the "Se imnoumen" hymn and the congregants knelt in prayer, Madeleine was apparently occupying her brain in an alternative way.  During the complete silence following the completion of the hymn, before the priest began chanting, Madeleine turned to Julia and asked loudly, "Julia, what comes after eighty-nine?"

Good thing there were only two kids up there, one of whom was named Julia, so that it was completely apparent which kid had uttered the question.

At any rate, Madeleine was quiet and non-disruptive throughout the rest of the service, so I guess I can't complain too much!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Another Random Betdime Remark

After several moments of lying in silence in her bed this evening, Madeleine suddenly piped up with something completely random.

MADELEINE: Mama?  There's THREE things that are different.  Number one is: shorter hair.
ME: What's different about what?
MADELEINE: (as if I'm an idiot for not knowing) About me and Emily Binx!

Emily Binx.  Again.  Emily Binx comes back into the picture every few months or so.  I don't think we're EVER going to be rid of her.  Which is especially ridiculous given that she is the most minor of all characters in "Hocus Pocus."

MADELEINE: So, number ONE is shorter hair.  Number TWO is: I don't wear a hat all the time.  Number...number...number three
ME: She has blue eyes?
MADELEINE: (surprised) She does??
ME: Yeah.
MADELEINE: Oh.  So, then there's FOUR things different.  Number THREE is blue eyes.  Number FOUR is...I don't wear all white all the time.

And with that off her chest, she settled in to sleep.  Good thing I'm now aware of the differences between them, because otherwise I might have accidentally wished Emily Binx a good night instead of Madeleine!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Next up: Christmas!

Well, Thanksgiving is over and the kids have switched into FULL-OUT Christmas mode.  They have already watched "Frosty the Snowman," "A Muppets Christmas Carol," Disney's "A Christmas Carol," and the re-make of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" today. 

During the Disney "Christmas Carol," Madeleine explained why she prefers this version to the Muppets one.

MADELEINE: I like THIS one, because you get to see Jacob Marley's DEAD face.

She is not creepy at all.

We also got our Christmas tree today, and the girls were ECSTATIC about decorating it with me.  Julia was very diligent in trying to spread the ornaments equally around the tree, but Madeleine, despite her artistic eye, decided that speed at hanging the most amount of ornaments possible was the key.  I had to secretly move some ornaments around, as I found several branches upon which two or more ornaments were hung. 

Julia is radiant with the Christmas spirit already, exclaiming, "Oh, I just LOVE Christmas, because it's so SPECIAL!  And Mommy?  When we have our Christmas tree and I wake up to pee in the night, well, in the MORNING I go and look at the tree because I just LOVE staring at it!"

Not quite sure what the peeing in the night has to do with Julia going to look at the tree in the morning, but hey, I appreciate the extra potty details added to her description of Christmas love.

Take a look at the job the girls and I did with the ornaments:

The next 27 days are going to be OVERLOADED with excitement in the Rowe household, folks!  Here we go!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Well, another year, another Thanksgiving gorge-fest.  I think we are all so incredibly stuffed full we feel like barfing, but at least Madeleine found a way to work off all her extra calories:

Speaking of Madeleine, a few nights ago she became the world's youngest vegetarian based on ethical reasons.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Are we NOT gonna have a turkey on Thanskgiving?
ME: No, Daddy bought a turkey, so he's gonna cook it.
MADELEINE: Well Mama, I don't want to eat any turkey, because it makes me SAD to hurt animals!

However, one taste of turkey tonight totally changed her tune.  In fact, Madeleine even asked for seconds.  That's right, my child asked for seconds of her protein source.  It could have only been more Bizarro-world if she had asked for seconds of her vegetable.

When I put Madeleine to bed this evening, she still had turkey on the brain.

ME: Madeleine, did you have a good Thanksgiving?
MADELEINE: Mmm-hmmm!
ME: What was your favorite part?
MADELEINE: The TURKEY!  Yummy yum!

So, Madeleine is now a short-lived vegetarian converted to carnivore.  Sorry, turkeys of the world!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Feast at Preschool

Madeleine has been SO EXCITED all week for school today, because her class got to have a Thanksgiving feast.  I think she was more excited for the school feast than the actual Thanksgiving. 

Yesterday, Julia got a birthday package in the mail from her aunt, uncle, and cousin in Georgia, and one of the included gifts is a nail spa set.  Madeleine was desperate to try it out, but Julia wanted to wait since it was late in the day when the package arrived. 

MADELEINE: (sobbing) But Julia won't open her NAIL SALON!
ME: Well, honey, that's because it's almost dinner time.  But you can do it tomorrow!
MADELEINE: (briefly listening, then bursting into a fresh set of tears) No, we CAN'T, because tomorrow's the FEAST! (sobbing on my chest)

That's how exciting the whole feast idea was in her mind: it was an all-encompassing event that would take up her ENTIRE day, not allowing for ANY EXTRA OTHER activities.

When I picked Madeleine up from school today, she was full of delight about the feast, telling me all about what she ate and what special Thanksgiving crafts the kids had made to decorate their feast table.

One such craft got to come home with us to be used at our own Thanksgiving table:

When I tried to put this lovely little candle on the windowsill as a Thanksgiving decoration, however, Madeleine became extremely possessive and insisted on carrying it around throughout the house. 

ME: Madeleine, why don't you leave the candle on the windowsill and then tomorrow we can use it on our Thanksgiving table?
MADELEINE: Uh, no, I need to hold onto it.
ME: Why?
MADELEINE: Because I'm afraid a CREEPY GUY is gonna COME IN OUR HOUSE and steal it.

Yes, that is a valid concern, for sure.  I can see why she won't let me use it as a decoration.  It's just like the Thanksgiving bear I bought to decorate our living room that Madeleine adopted and brought down to the toy room and named "Curry Bear."

Curry Bear

Madeleine also returned home from school with a picture she had drawn; I don't think it gets more Thanksgiving-y than this!:

ME: Madeleine, is this a turkey?  And grapes, and an apple?
ME: And what's this blue thing up above them?
MADELEINE: Oh!  That's a dolphin.

I don't know about you, but I always have dolphins as part of my Thanksgiving table.

Madeleine also received a note from her teachers about why they are thankful for her:

As did Julia:

It seems like the thankfulness is being shared all around!  Although I will point out that BOTH kids, who are home from school early because of the Thanksgiving holiday, have ALREADY told me that they're bored and don't know what to do around our house.  I mean, all the new birthday toys and what not aren't enough to occupy them, right??  I guess the fact that I'm cleaning and baking isn't stimulating enough for them.  But I will DEFINITELY admit to being thankful for the fact that I'm home from work with extra time to get all those chores done!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Infamous Lip Trumpet

Madeleine has recently reverted back to an old (extremely annoying) habit: a compulsive lip trumpeting that is sometimes voiced (making a brrrrpt!) sound, sometimes unvoiced (making a nice old farting sound.)  She frequently intersperses this lip trumpeting with a short humming noise, making her sound like some sort of old machine.  "Brrrrpt.  Mmmm.  Brrrpt."

The need to obsessively lip trumpet sometimes undercuts the seriousness of things she's saying.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Do we have any Gila Monsters around where WE live?
ME: No, they don't live anywhere near here.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  I do know SOMETHING around here that can make you die.  Brrrpt.  Mmmm.  Brrrrpt.  SMOKE STICKS.
ME: Cigarettes?  Yeah, that's true.  But you don't need to worry about gila monsters.


ME: Madeleine, what are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?
MADELEINE: Mommy.  (thoughtful) And Daddy.  And Julia.  And Yiayia.  And Shannon and Caitlyn.  Brrrpt.  Mmmm.  Brrrpt.  And of COURSE, Nana and Gramps!


MADELEINE: (whining shrilly from the play basement)
ME: What's the matter?
MADELEINE: (continuing to whine and throwing her shirt around in anger)
ME: (sternly) Madeleine.  If you need HELP getting your shirt on, you know what to do.  USE YOUR WORDS.  Don't just sit there whining and throwing your shirt.
MADELEINE: (looking chagrined)
ME: You need to use your words.  (beginning to help her with her shirt)
MADELEINE: (guiltily) Next time.  Brrrpt.  Mmmm.  Brrrpt.  Next time I will, Mama.

Of course, a lot of the time, even without the lip trumpet noises, what Madeleine's taking about is a big ridiculous pile of nonsense anyway.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Which part is the LOWEST in our house?
ME: The basement.
MADELEINE: No.  Mama.  Which part is the LOWEST.
ME: I just told you.  The basement.
MADELEINE: No.  Mama.  I mean PLUS the basement.  Which is the lowest PLUS the basement?
ME: Well, the lowest part of our house is the basement.
MADELEINE: No, Mama.  Which is the lowest PLUS the basement?
ME: Well, not counting the basement, the lowest part of our house is probably the landing by the front door.
MADELEINE: No, but Mama.  What WINDOWS can you jump out of?

Why on earth is my child thinking about jumping out of windows?!?

I guess the only reason I can come up with is Brrrrpt.  Mmmm.  Brrrpt.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I Am Thankful

Julia brought home this very sweet and special project from school today:


How do you feel when you do something for someone else?
I feel good and happy because I like to make other people happy.

List things you do for others.
I make them Christmas presants.  I make sure there all right.

Boy, oh boy DOES she make them Christmas presants.  Julia has already started on her home-made gifts, and her closet is full of wrapped gifts for various family members.  Her latest book of poems, one of which is about a stapler, promises to be an enticing read for its lucky recipient!

My family gives me many reasons to be thankful.  I am thankful for...
My family, my home, my food and water, my cloths, love, my friends, and nature.

List things that you're thankful for at home.
Cloths, food and water, my house, my family, my backyard.

Well, first of all, I'm really glad that Julia's family gives her many reason to be thankful for her family.  Secondly, I am really proud that she was able to focus on the essentials of living, things that not every child in the world actually gets to have, like food, water, and cloths.  The fact that toys didn't even make it on the list shows me that Julia realizes what really matters.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving at your house?
I usily take a fall walk with my aunts.  I have about 3 pies, I eat turkey, stuffing, peppers, and pie.

List words that describe Thanksgiving.
Giveing Thanks

Okay.  Let me just clarify something here.  While Julia usily DOES take a fall walk with her aunts (and Clara), she doesn't usily EAT three pies.  We usily provide three different kids of pie for dessert, but Julia will at most eat a slice from two of them.  And she definitely doesn't usily have 3 pies, then turkey, stuffing, peppers, and then MORE pie.  But I'll let that discrepancy in her writing pass, because I love her words describing Thanksgiving so much.

My class gives me many reasons to be thankful.  I am thankful for...
My teacher, my friends, Eliot, my classrom, my princibal, other teachers, old teacher I had, the playground.

List things you're thankful for at school.
my classroom

I'm glad Julia seems thankful for her pricibal, because the long-standing pricibal of her school retired after Julia's kindergarten year, and the fact that Julia seems to like the new guy quite well is pretty reassuring.  Especially if he ranks as high as her beloved teachers, other teachers, and old teachers!

How do you feel when someone does something for you?
Happy, good, loved, thankful, grateful, like I want to do something for them.

List things others do for you.
Love me, help me, take care of me, keep me safe, get me stuff.

"Get me stuff."  Yeah, that one doesn't quite fit the sentiment of the other things people do for her that make her thankful.  But then again, she DID just have a birthday, so presents are probably fresh on the mind!

What a beautiful book of thanks, Julia!  All of us in the Rowe household are thankful for you!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday, Julia!!

I can't believe my first-born baby is eight years old today!

Julia was given free reign to choose a family activity today, and among such suggestions as a trip to the zoo or the science museum, the most enticing choice, to her, was to stay home.  That's RIGHT, folks: our new house, filled with new birthday toys, is so exciting a prospect that Julia would rather be here than anywhere else.  Now THAT is a surprising and refreshing change!

Julia and Madeleine spent most of the day playing with the new birthday loot, although they took a break from the play basement to romp around in the leaves outdoors with Ethan:

That is, until Ethan hid in the leaves pretending to be a leaf monster and Madeleine got so terrified that in her frantic dash to escape to the safety of Mommy's arms, she tripped on the deck stairs and scraped her waist.  Only about 10 minutes of sobbing were necessary before she was back at it in the leaf pile with her daddy, though!

Our birthday tradition in the Rowe household is that the birthday boy or girl gets to choose any restaurant for dinner, and Julia opted for Stone Hearth Pizza this evening.  She ordered - surprise, surprise! - mac 'n cheese, and got to finish off the meal with chocolate ice cream.  I guess the carbo and dairy loading wasn't quite enough for her, though.

JULIA: Mommy?  Can I still have CAKE when we get home, too?

It seems like Julia had a lovely birthday weekend, and as I put her to bed this evening, I asked her about her favorite part of her new age.

ME: So, what's the best part about being eight so far?
JULIA: Um...uh...being eight!
ME: Oh. Uh, okay.
JULIA: (wisely) Well, I've only been eight for ONE DAY, so I think I need a little more TIME to see what I like about being eight!

You heard it straight from the eight-year-old's mouth, folks.  The jury's still out on what will age 8 so great, but I think it's pretty clear from the start of this new year of Julia's life that things are gonna be pretty darn awesome!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Sleepover

Julia had a wonderful time at her birthday party last night, and the best part of all was that she got to have three of the party guests sleep over afterwards.  She has told me repeatedly today that this was her best birthday party ever and that she had so much fun with her friends. 

Ethan and I weathered the experience and are looking forward to some sleep tonight.  We came to the conclusion that hosting a sleepover for a group of 7-8 year old girls is basically akin to having a newborn.  We took shifts for the non-sleepers and made every attempt to NOT wake those who were sleeping. 

The kid who stunk the WORST at sleeping was none other than Julia.  (Just like the newborn Julia, in fact.)  She felt the need to come up to our bedroom over and over to tell us that she couldn't fall asleep.  And then we would have this very productive conversation:

JULIA: I just can't SLEEP with all those other PEOPLE there!
ME: Why don't you come up here and sleep then?
JULIA: Because I want to be with my friends!
ME: Okay, well then just go back down and try to lay still and get to sleep.
JULIA: But I *can't* fall asleep!
ME: Why don't you try laying in Madeleine's bed with her?
JULIA: I can't SLEEP when there's other people there!
ME: Do you want to go lay on the couch?
JULIA: I want to be with my friends!
ME: Okay, then go try to sleep downstairs.
JULIA: But I can't sleep with all those other people around!

Do you see a clear solution to her conundrum?  Because Ethan and I sure didn't.

Finally, long after midnight, Ethan took Julia to the living room couch and lay her down there.  After she finally fell asleep, he carried her down to the play room and put her on the futon next to one of her friends.  The plan was ALMOST unsuccessful when Julia, upon being placed upright on the futon, apparently decided to continue sleeping sitting up instead of letting her body lay back onto the bed.  Ethan's attempts to whisper to Julia to lay down were of no use, and when he attempted to reach across the futon to try and prod her body to lay down, he knocked over a metal water bottle (which I had personalized and given out in lieu of goody bags to each girl) and the resulting clatter made all the guests startle in their sleep.  Finally, however, Julia slumped down into the bed and cuddled up to her friend and was out for the night.

I was awoken this morning by a chorus of stomping feet running excitedly to my bedroom.

JULIA: Mom?  We're HUNGRY!

So I dragged myself out of bed and made a batch of chocolate chip pancakes for the happy and chatty kids.  After breakfast, they all went downstairs to play, and they truly had a blast together.  Despite the lack of sleep, it seems like we managed to pull off a really fun sleepover party.  The only tears came from Madeleine, who desperately wanted in with the girls and couldn't handle not being a part of every little thing.  Luckily, the older girls came up with a helpful solution: after Madeleine, joining in the arts and crafts that the big girls were doing, designed what she called a "bounce-stairs" (pronounced to rhyme with "downstairs,") the girls asked her to make more bounce-stairs for each of them.  That kept Madeleine busy and feeling very helpful without causing her to disrupt the craft they were collectively working on.  I am sure the bounce-stairs is the new toy of the year; after all, who WOULDN'T want a fuzzy, colored puff-ball taped to a colored pipe cleaner to roll down the stairs?  So what if it doesn't *actually* bounce.  It looks cool, and I can't IMAGINE tape would come off of a fuzzy puff ball, right?  So it will likely last forever!

Now the very tired Rowe parents, whose very tired girls have both fallen asleep, are ready to try and crash for the night.  Party over, time to rest!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Julia's Birthday Sleep-Under

Today was the long-awaited day of Julia's birthday party, and MAN, was she excited!  She woke me up this morning by literally pouncing upon me in my bed, then jumping up and down repeatedly on the bed (and on me.)

Luckily, it was a school day, so she had something to occupy her mind for the majority of the day.  Meanwhile, Madeleine, whose preschool only runs in the morning, had hours at home with me to try and plan for Julia's birthday.  It started with her attempts to dress herself up with some extra fancy flair.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I'm just trying to make sure I look PERFECT for Julia's birthday party!:

The only problem with her ensemble is that Julia's party was a "sleep-under," which, for those unfamiliar with the term, means a pajama/dinner/movie party in which the kids go home to sleep instead of sleeping over.  Once Madeleine realized that Julia was wearing pajamas for the party, she had a sudden change of outfit:

Later in the day, Madeleine realized she might be cold in a sleeveless nightgown, so she once again changed outfits, and wound up in her Halloween pajamas, with cat mask still on.

Julia was out of her mind with excitement waiting for her friends:

In fact, she couldn't even wait for the party to begin.  I wound up texting the mom of one of her friends seeing if the friend could come early and ease Julia's impatience.  Once the whole group of girls were here, it was complete and utter INSANITY.  Julia may be a quiet kid at school, but MY GOD, at home with her friends her voice sounds like she is HOLLERING THROUGH A MEGAPHONE.  Her friends, of course, were no quieter, and I can't even imagine how anyone could hear anyone.  However, the girls appeared to have a grand old time, all bursting into raucous laughter over various things, throwing an impromptu dance party to the music at the end of the movie they watched, and sharing stories about the boys at school.  And Julia got a big old pile of presents, which had their own special home upon drop-off at the party:

What a lucky girl Julia is!  Not only did she get to have a sleep-under with seven of her closest gal pals, but she got to have a pizza party, her favorite kind of cake, two helpings of ice cream, and a big stack of presants!  What a birthday party!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baking a Birthday Cake

Since Julia is having her birthday party tomorrow night, Madeleine and I are busy preparing today. One of the items on our list was baking the cake.  Madeleine was eager to help.

MADELEINE: And Mama?  When you bake the cake, can I do EVERYTHING, epsept YOU do it first?  Well, I can do everything EPSEPT the things that are not safe for kids.

So while Madeleine finished up her lunch, I did the things that are not safe for kids; namely, cracking the eggs, and melting the butterscotch chips.  Madeleine, afraid she was going to miss out on the part that IS safe for kids, started taking inventory of how much lunch she had left to finish before joining me.

MADELEINE: Five more apples, Mama!
ME: Okay!
MADELEINE: I'm BRAIN-COUNTING.  That's how I know I have five apples.  But Mama?  Can Julia count with her brain?
ME: Yes, she can.
MADELEINE: I know she can WHISPER with her brain.  Because...when she's BRAIN-COUNTING, I hear her whisper: "One, two, three, four, five..."
ME: Oh, really?
MADELEINE: Mama.  Can YOU brain-count?
ME: I can.
MADELEINE: Okay.  Look at how many apples I have left.  Count with your BRAIN.
ME: Okay.  Three.
MADELEINE: Wow!  Mama, how did you brain count so FAST?
ME: Well, I've been counting for a long time so I'm pretty good at it.
MADELEINE: Well Mama.  I know what you WOULDN'T be fast at brain-counting.  All of the LEAVES on the trees outside!
ME: Yeah, you're right.  That would be too hard to do.
MADELEINE: Mama.  Look at how fast I can do brain-counting...(silence) Ugghh, never mind, it's too hard to brain-count all the bricks.  I kept FORGETTING if I already counted that one or not.

These are the bricks Madeleine was trying to impress me with by brain-counting:

I would say that was a bit TOO ambitious on her part.  I'm not even sure I could brain-count those bricks quickly.

Madeleine was soon able to join me in the baking, and she had all kinds of interesting comments to make about the various ingredients.

About the canned pumpkin:
MADELEINE: Woah!  That looks like PUMPKIN!

This kid can't get any more astute in her observations.

About the vanilla:
MADELEINE: Wow.  That looks like COFFEE!

About the flour, sugar and baking powder combo:
MADELEINE: Mama?  Is there any OTHER white ingredients that are even WHITER than these ingredients that we get to use??

About the eggs:
MADELEINE: Eeeewww!  You put RAW EGGS in it??

I'm not really sure how hard-boiled eggs would taste in a cake.  Maybe we can try that next time we bake.  But since this one is for Julia's birthday party, I'm gonna stick with the tried-and-true raw eggs in the batter.

Madeleine proved to be a great baking helper, not only pouring in ingredients, but doing a super job stirring the ingredients together.  Of course, we both needed to taste an ample amount of batter, *just* to make sure everything tasted right.

The baking part was tough for Madeleine to wait through; starting about fifteen minutes into the 45 minute long baking process, Madeleine was asking me if the timer buzzed yet.  When I told her it hadn't nearly been enough time, she encouraged me to "just open the oven and CHECK to see if it looks like a cake yet!"  But at long last, the cake was fully baked, and it sits cooling in the kitchen now.  Next up is making the icing so that we can frost the cake once it's cool.  I think Madeleine will be SUPER excited to see that we're using a really, really white ingredient as one of our main elements of the frosting: confectioner's sugar!  I don't know if ingredients get much whiter than that!!

Ta-daaa!  Fully baked, and "looking like a cake"!  Icing to come later!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Little Artists

As Madeleine's drawing skills continue to improve, I sometimes have a difficult time deciphering which child is the artist behind various pictures.  I have to rely upon the tell-tale signature artistic elements of each kid to come to a sure conclusion.

For Julia, the square crotch and wide, child-bearing hips are her signature:

Sometimes the hips are wider than others; for example, the left-most girl in the picture directly above looks like she must have a very difficult time walking with a body like that.  I'd imagine her walk to be more of a waddle, compared to the narrower-hipped, but still square-crotched, friend beside her. However, the body type that Julia draws, albeit with variations, is still pretty consistent.

Madeleine tends to draw more realistic body proportions, but she also tends to draw hollow, soul-less ghoul eyes:

Madeleine is also prone to copying down random words that she sees on products at the tops of her artwork; hence, "Sharpie" on this drawing.

And while Madeleine has a good sense of body proportion, she does frequently draw people with no arms:

The Native American, back from the dead to haunt the white man who chopped her arms off.

In general, as you blog-readers very well know, Madeleine's artwork nearly always has a creep-a-zoid factor to it:

And as you can see in the image above, there are frequently unidentified flying creatures in the sky in Madeleine's pictures:

It's good to know that, despite the fact that Madeleine emulates Julia and often attempts to copy whatever she's drawing, both girls have their own individual, unique artistic style!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Universal Mysteries of Time

As I was driving Madeleine home from school this afternoon, I got hit with a tough question to answer.

MADELEINE: Mama?  How come, in REAL LIFE, the numbers go from really, really HIGH to really, really LOW?
ME: Um...well...what do you mean?  What numbers?
MADELEINE: Like, the numbers of TIME go from really, really high to really, really low?
ME: you mean, like on a clock, it goes from twelve to one?
MADELEINE: Like, it will be really, really high on the clock, and then really, really low.
ME: Oh, so like when it says something-fifty-nine, and then it turns to something-zero-zero?
MADELEINE: (silence)
ME: Is that what you mean?
MADELEINE: (nearly imperceptibly moving her head in a gesture that could either mean no or yes.)

I then attempted to launch full into an explanation of time, as based on the earth's revolution and rotation.

ME: Okay, so, long ago, the idea of "time" didn't really exist.  Like, there weren't always "hours" and "minutes" and "days," but scientists discovered that the time it took the earth to turn all the way in a full circle added up to twenty-four...well, they weren't called "hours" then,, like, if you counted to twenty-four sixty, I mean, if you counted to SIXTY sixty times, then did that twenty-four times, that's about how long it takes for the earth to complete one rotation.  And scientists figured out-
MADELEINE: So, Mama?  Did you buy CUPCAKE goldfish today?
ME: Uh, yes, I did.

Clearly my explanation was way too much of a snooze-fest to hold Madeleine's interest.  Which is probably good, because I was clearly floundering out there.

Madeleine's perception of numbers, in general, amuses me; for instance, she doesn't seem to understand that numbers continue on after one hundred.  In her mind, one hundred is the end all, be all; she has repeatedly stated that after one hundred, you die, as if a person can't possibly live beyond a number that represents the end of the continuum.  Further proof of this mis-conception, in her mind, was evident last night at dinner.

MADELEINE: (picking up a hair elastic off the dining room table and twisting it into a figure-eight) Julia?  Do you think this is an EIGHT, or ONE HUNDRED?
JULIA: (with bored contempt) Madeleine, do you mean INFINITY?
MADELEINE:  Oh.  Yeah.  Do you think this is an eight or INFINITY?

One hundred, infinity, same difference, really.

At any rate, the numbers are going from really, really high to really, really low right now, so I've got to get a move on the various other tasks for today.  It's not like I have 'til the end of one hundred to get everything done, after all!  'Til next time!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend with the Aunties, and Thanksgiving Prep

Ethan and I had an incredibly busy weekend, thanks in part to a dress rehearsal and concert we partook in on both Saturday and Sunday.  Consequently, the girls wound up spending a lot of the weekend under the authority of their aunties.

Last time the aunties baby-sat for a whole day, the girls were NOT very well behaved.  In fact, Auntie Shannon had needed to lay down the law and tell them that unless some very specific things changed, she was not going to talk to them until they could behave nicely.

A month or so ago:

AUNTIE SHANNON: Okay, girls.  Listen up.  I'm only going to talk to you if-
MADELEINE: (pointing out Shannon's error) You're talking to us.
AUNTIE SHANNON: (ignoring Madeleine) Rule Number One: RESPECT THE AUNTIES.
MADELEINE: Uh, what does "RESPECT" mean?

As you can see, Madeleine was truly letting the message sink in.

However, she did apparently learn something from that experience, because as I was kissing the girls good-bye on Saturday before heading out to my dress rehearsal, Madeleine took it upon herself to come up with some behavior rules.

MADELEINE: Okay, here are the rules for how we should behave for our aunties.  Rule Number One: If you want, something, please say "PLEASE."  Rule Number Two: If your auntie gets that thing for you, please say "THANK YOU."  And Rule Number Three: Don't forget to remember NOT to pick at your NAILS.

Madeleine's nail/cuticle picking is a pet peeve of all of us in the house, but she knows that the Aunties will call her out on it much more quickly than her pick-your-battles mother.

Thankfully, the girls proved to be on (mostly) great behavior for their aunties over the course of the weekend, and they got to do all sorts of special activities together.  One of the most exciting was the baking and decorating of turkey-shaped sugar cookies.

Madeleine and I had a discussion about the cookies today, which led to Madeleine rattling off her Thanksgiving dinner wish list.

ME: Did you have fun making turkey cookies with your aunties?
MADELEINE: Mmm-hmm. But...the FIRST day, we didn't bake the cookies, we just made turkey dough.  (softly, to herself) Is there such thing as turkey dough?  (louder, to me) Mama?  Is there such thing as turkey BREAD?
ME: Uh, I don't think so.
MADELEINE: Hmm.  Well, how about you make CORNBREAD sometime?
ME: I can make it for Thanksgiving.
MADELEINE: Oh!  Yes!  And Mama?  Can you make pumpkin pie?
ME: Sure.  I thought you didn't like pumpkin pie, though.
MADELEINE: I did.  Mama.  Remember last time I tried some and I liked it?
ME: Uh, not really.  (Remembering instead that she recently asked me to make apple pie, claiming she likes it, then practically gagged on her first bite and decided she doesn't, in fact, like it.  I suspect the pumpkin pie scenario will play out much the same way on Thanksgiving, seeing as she didn't like it last year, despite what she says.)
MADELEINE: And Mama.  You can make pumpkin MUFFINS, and I can SEE if I like them.
ME: Or I could just make pumpkin bread.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Both.  You could make both.  You could make EVERYTHING!  (thoughtful) Except asparagus.  Because I don't like asparagus.  Mama?  Have I ever TRIED asparagus?
ME: No.
MADELEINE: Well, I think I wouldn't LIKE it, because Julia doesn't like it.
ME: I know Julia doesn't like it.
MADELEINE: Yeah, so I don't really want asparagus for Thanksgiving.

And there you have it.  From making turkey dough to planning out the Turkey Day menu, Madeleine has got Thanksgiving on the brain.  As a kid, I always thought of Thanksgiving as the boring holiday that marked time between the GREAT holidays of Halloween and Christmas, so I'm glad that my kids can get excitement out of the Thanksgiving preparations.  However, I'm not sure our actual Thanksgiving is going to live up to the expectations inside Madeleine's head.  For example, we just had this conversation:

ME: Madeleine, what's making you so excited for Thanksgiving?
MADELEINE: (clasping her hands together and scrunching her face up with excited anticipation) CORN!

We've never had corn for Thanksgiving.  We weren't planning on having corn at this upcoming Thanksgiving.  I'm not entirely sure why Madeleine thinks corn is the exciting part about Thanksgiving, but I can only guess that the Indian corn decorating shops all over town has something to do with it.  I guess we've received our instructions, however.

Thanksgiving dinner, Madeleine-style:
-Pumpkin pie
-Pumpkin Muffins
-Pumpkin Bread
-NO asparagus

I mean, we might as well buy just two ingredients: pumpkin and corn.  That ought to be enough to cook a dinner to Madeleine's satisfaction!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Disability Awareness

Julia's school had another assembly on Disability Awareness today, and she came home with a letter for parents describing today's program.  At the end of the letter was a series of questions, headlined "Ask Your Child About..."

As I ran through the questions with Julia, I was reminded, yet again, just what sheer and utter geniuses my children are.

ME: Okay, Julia, I know you already know this because we've talked about it before, but: "How did Beethoven compose symphonies when he was deaf?"
JULIA: Mmmm...because he had that THING that you use...with your hands...I don't know...
ME: What thing that he used with his hands?
JULIA: I don't KNOW what it's called!

Well, I had her beat.  Not only did I not KNOW what it's called, but I didn't even know what on earth she was talking about.  So I decided to explain the answer to her instead.

ME: Well, he didn't really use a THING, it's more that he was such an accomplished musician that he could actually HEAR the music in his head.  He could envision a melody and he knew exactly what notes to write down, and he knew what harmonies he wanted to use.
JULIA: Well Mom?  When we were learning about Beethoven, they had his MUSIC playing in the background, and they asked if anyone knew what the song was, and I raised my hand and said "Ode to Joy."
ME: Oh, you knew it!
JULIA: Well, it was because it said "Ode to Joy" on the board.
ME: But you know "Ode to Joy" because you played it on the piano.
JULIA: Uh, I don't really REMEMBER it.
MADELEINE: Well *I* remember-
ME: See?  Madeleine knows it!
MADELEINE: No, Mama, I remember the CLOWN song.

Confused silence.

ME: The clown song?
MADELEINE: (in total confidence) Yeah.  The clown song.
ME: What song is the clown song?
MADELEINE: Julia's song with the clown on it!
JULIA: Oh, yeah!  I know which one she means.

Julia knows what "The clown song" means but she doesn't know "Ode to Joy," which she not only played but has heard my students play for the past seven years at every single piano recital I put on.

It turns out this is the clown song:

Yeah.  "Major-Minor Bop" is really a far cry from Beethoven here, kiddo.

Talking about Beethoven's ability to hear things in his head led to a discussion on ear training, which then led to Ethan's daily quizzing of Madeleine on the difference between major and minor triads.

ETHAN: (playing a major triad on the piano) Okay, Madeleine, what's this?
MADELEINE: (with glee) MANGER!

My kids are AMAZING.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Things They Say

Some of the gems that have come out of Madeleine's mouth today:

After we put all the marbles through the Marble Maze I had set up:

MADELEINE: Can we do it again?  That was MANGER fun!

A discussion on Wild Kratts, as we walked to pick Julia up from school

MADELEINE: Mama?  Remember when I used to think Aviva's name was ABIBA?
ME: Mmm-hmm.
MADELEINE: But why is her name Aviva?
ME: I don't know.  That's just what the character's name is.
MADELEINE: And why is COKIE named Cokie?
ME: That's just her character's name.
MADELEINE: Who would ever wanna be named COKIE?
ME: It's definitely not the greatest name.
MADELEINE: It sounds like she just likes to COKE AROUND.  (thoughtful) But Mama?  What does COKE AROUND mean?
ME: Uh...

In regards to Madeleine's various nail polish colors from her nail polish kit:
MADELEINE: Mama?  Did you know that the pink, purple and green have a little CLUB, and they tell each other their own ideas?
ME: No, I didn't know that.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And the white is always a FUSSOVER.

 The club.  All the cool nail polish colors are in.

The fussover.

Moving on to other topics, I have been heart-warmed to discover classwork by both girls this week.  Hanging on one of the bulletin boards at Madeleine's school is a pumpkin that she apparently dedicated to me.  If you look closely enough, you just might see my name squished in the corner there.


And then there is Julia's vocabulary classwork, on which she defines (in her own terms) the word "publish":

Definition: "A published book is when it isn't just a book made of paper, it's usilly hard cover or paperback."

Nailed it!  The difference between a published and an unpublished book most definitely has to do with what kind of material the book is made from.  This kid could write a dictionary!

I especially like her sentence using the word; with all her output at home, I can absolutely see her publishing a great book someday!

Monday, November 10, 2014


One of my many jobs as a parent is that of Mind-Reader.  Both girls frequently tell me about things that happened at school, things they've read, or things other people have said to them, without providing the necessary background information.  Thankfully, I am an expert at putting the pieces together on my own, having grown quite experienced with the random-association that my children tend to do. 

Some examples:
MADELEINE: Mama?  Do you know that when it was October ONE, what all the kids thought it was?
ME: What?
ME: Ohhh, so when you were doing calendar at school, all the kids thought the month was still September?
ME: Did you think it was still September?
MADELEINE: No.  Because I read that it was "O."
ME: Oh, so you noticed that the month began with "O" instead of "S" so you knew it must be a new month?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And my teacher said "It's not October tenth, it's not October fifteenth, it's October FIRST!"

Apparently that whole calendar ordeal really stuck out to Madeleine, seeing as she's mentioning it to me on November 10.  I guess the change from October to November during school calendar wasn't nearly as life-changing for her.

JULIA: (coming to greet me in the hallway upon me first exiting my bedroom this morning) Mom?  You know what?  This time, I actually WANTED to read the black words, because it was about what you were telling me about!

(I mean, I know the above goes without any need for further clarification, but in my morning stupor, I decided to delve for more details)

ME: What thing was I telling you about?
JULIA: Mmm...I don't remember what it's CALLED, but you were telling me about it on the way home from church.
ME: Can you tell me anything about it, even if you don't remember what it's called?
JULIA: Mmm...well, it's hard to explain.  But I know the person's name was Martin Luther!
ME: The Protestant Reformation?

And suddenly I knew exactly what "black words" Julia meant.  The historical side-note pages in the "Who Was" books appear in a black, Comic Sans-y font:

Mystery solved, first thing in the morning and all!  BAM!  This mama knows how to get it DONE!

MADELEINE: Mama?  We've been in our new house for a long time
ME: So you're used to it?
MADELEINE: doesn't feel like we MOVED.
ME: It feels like it's just our regular home now?
ME: That's good.
MADELEINE: What's good, Mama?
ME: That it doesn't feel like a strange new place.
MADELEINE: Mama.  You said "strange new place."
ME: Right.  It doesn't feel like a strange new place.
MADELEINE: No, Mama.  You said "A strange new place."
ME: I know.
MADELEINE No.  Mama.  You said "A strange."

ME: Right.  It doesn't feel like a strange new place.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  You said "STRANGE."
ME: Because it doesn't feel like someplace unfamiliar anymore.

After my success with Julia's black words mystery, I never could quite crack this one of Madeleine's.  I can't exactly grasp what she objected to in my saying "a strange new place," but at least once I reworded it to "unfamiliar," she found my statement acceptable.

And finally:

MADELEINE: Mama.  I had a dream that I was wearing those kinds of gloves with no FINGERS like Julia has, EPSEPT mine had CHICKS on them.
ME: Oh, really?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  (thoughtful) But Mama.  WAS I dreaming?
ME: Well, probably, since you don't really have fingerless gloves with chicks on them.
MADELEINE: Because Mama.  I don't know if I was dreaming about it or if my eyes were OPEN.

That's right, folks.  My kids even expect me to get inside their subconsious mind to let them know whether or not they were dreaming or thinking.  This is ONE TOUGH JOB all right.  The powers of mental telepathy are only one of the many superpowers my kids expect their mother to have.  All I can say is these kids make sure to keep me on my toes, every moment of the day!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Quiet Saturday

We Rowes had a lovely Saturday - the third in our new house, but the first on which we didn't have a multitude of urgent duties to perform.  In fact, we were lazing around in our pajamas until past 11am, which turned out to be just a tad embarrassing as a neighbor on our road knocked on our door to greet us and invite Julia for a play-date tomorrow.  The only person who had real clothes on was Ethan, but that didn't stop us from inviting the neighbors in, nor did it stop Julia from bringing the neighbor boy (who she knows from school) down to her bedroom to check out her Harry Potter wall stickers.  Yeah, yeah, I know, we moved off of a busy road full of transients, renters, and single parents, and we're now in a true suburban neighborhood full of huge houses and families with kids, but it just goes to show you: you can take the Rowes out of an eclectic neighborhood, but you can't take the eclectic out of the Rowes.

At any rate, once we were actually clothed and the essential errands had been run, we had some time for family recreation.  The girls really wanted to try riding their bikes down to the elementary school, since we are finally in a low-traffic area.  I offered to take them, and Ethan planned to come along too, provided he had a minute to run inside and do a few things.

One of those things was apparently testing out how loud our piano sounds outside the house.

ETHAN: (pulling open a window as the girls and I stood at the end of our driveway, ready to bike/walk off to the school) Court?  Can you just tell me how loud this sounds?
ME: Okay.
ETHAN: (closing the window)
MADELEINE: (with the utmost confidence, before Ethan had even managed to walk over to the piano) It's pretty QUIET!

What would we do without her wisdom??

The girls weren't interested in waiting for Ethan to actually physically join us, so we decided to head off without him.  That turned out to be a HUGE mistake.  The kids have only ever ridden on sidewalks before, seeing as our old road was teeming with traffic, and the idea that they could actually ride in the road on our new, quieter street was a completely foreign concept to them.  Madeleine stubbornly insisted on sticking to the sidewalk, while Julia, in a blind panic, tried hopping on her bike on the road only to crash to the ground in terror the moment she even started pedalling.  At this point, Madeleine was stuck trying to get her bike over a big bump in the sidewalk, wailing "MaMAAAA!  MaMAAAA!", and Julia was screeching in horror about the fact that she doesn't KNOW how to ride on roads, and I was trying to quiet both kids by yelling "STOP!  Everybody just STOP and LISTEN TO ME!"

So, basically, we're making a really great impression on our new neighbors, all around.

Thankfully, Ethan hurried out of the house shortly afterwards, so that I could walk alongside Julia while she biked down the road, and he could hang back with Madeleine.

The kids had a ball at the playground, and were both beaming with pride over their first time EVER biking along the road to get from point A to point B.  Once the sun really started to hide behind the trees, however, Ethan thought we should head back home.

ETHAN: Okay, girls, let me tell you something.  If we head home soon, we'll have time to make popcorn and buy "How to Train Your Dragon 2" on the tv.
BOTH GIRLS: Yaaaaaaaay!  Let's go home NOW!

Madeleine's memory was definitely short-term, however; upon returning home, she lamented, "But Mama!  I don't WANT to go inside!  I want to go play out in the backyaaaaaard!"  I reminded her about the movie, which reset her memory and got her all excited, once again, to do family movie/popcorn time.

Until, that is, it was actually movie time.  As Ethan made the popcorn upstairs, I purchased the movie on our play-room tv.

MADELEINE: (totally oblivious) Mama?  What MOVIE are you buying?
ME: Honey.  "How to Train Your Dragon 2."  Remember??

I think Madeleine has pretty much proven her sheer and utter genius on all accounts today.

The girls loved the movie and the family time, with each girl taking turns cuddling up with each parent.  When I had Madeleine in my lap, I was especially taken by her complete investement in the emotion of every scene.  When things were precarious, Madeleine's face was creased with worry, and when the dragons did something silly, her face would burst into a radiant smile.  She made sure to address the dragons as old friends, having seen "How to Train Your Dragon 1" many times.

MADELEINE: (bursting into laughter) Oh, Toothless, you're so RIDICULOUS!

I think the whole Rowe family needed a low-key weekend day after the stress of our move.

Even though Julia just shouted up to me, from the play-room, wherein Madeleine was sobbing: "Mommy?  Madeleine says there's NOTHING to do in our new house and she wants to PAINT but she can't find a PAINT-BRUSH!"

I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time.  But for what it's worth, we spent many pleasant moments all together today, for which I am very grateful!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Winter Is Comeing

Julia's newest book:

"When Winter Is Comeing"
I think Julia and George R. R. Martin are working together on this one.

"When Winter Is Comeing":
"This book is deticated to all the little children"

Just like Jesus, Julia ALSO loves all the little children of the world.

"When winter is comeing, what do I do?  I go hicking on the mouintins.  In my snow shoes."

Right on, Julia.  Nothing is better than hicking on the mouintins in snow shoes!  Using snow shoes for traversing the flat snow-covered land is the past, man.  Nowadays anybody who's anybody knows that hicking boots have been replaced by snow shoes when you're heading up a mouintin.

"As I walk through, there is snow on the trees.  There is also snow on my knees!"

I am digging the rhyme scheme here, Jules.

"And when I come home, I lay by the fire, coloring in my coloring book, drinking Hot Cocko."

Hmm.  I'm not sure this book is necessarily appropriate for all the little children if the protagonist is so into Hot Cocko.

"Then I decorate the Christmas tree.  Ornimante by ornimante."

That's totally the way to do it.  Ornimante by ornimante.  

 "And I look out the window to watch my neighbor put away her menorah."

So, does the neighbor do this EVERY year after the narrator decorates her Christmas tree ornimante by ornimante?  Or only on the years on which Hanukkah is over by the time people are buying Christmas trees? 

"And on Christmas, I open my presants - golor!  I sit on the ground and open each one!"

Presants golor!  Lucky girl!

"For Christmas I go away.  When I get to Connecticut, I spin around in my Christmas dress."

Ooh, la la!  It's definitely worth going all the way to Connecticut for the chance to spin in one's Christmas dress!

"I go out to play in the snow.  I make a snowman."

Wow.  That snowman is almost as tall as the girl.  That's some hard snow-making work!

"And when we return back to the mouintens, Not a creature did stur, As we drove up the path."

I can just FEEL the hush over everything as they return back to the mouintens.

"When we got back it was dark out.  And also past my bedtime."

Partying past dark!  Way to celebrate Christmas!

"And the next day at 7:00, I have pancakes and Hot Chocolte."

Hot Chocolte this time, huh?  No more Hot Cocko??  Well, that's a relief!

"My Daddy reads me storeys.  My favorite is 'The Relitives Came."' It makes me drift off to sleep.

It does?  It looks more like she is holding out an invisible offering to the green rectangle God that is underneath her bedroom chandelier.  Either that or making a blank-paged book levitate using some kind of kooky mouintin magic.

"Witer has passed.  It is Spring now.  There is so much to do in winter.  Isn't it true?"

Witer has passed!  Hooray!  Now instead of a green Christmas dress the narrator is sporting a totally cute green tank dress.  And she is apparently a giant, seeing as her head is THAT CLOSE to the sun and the skyline.

Also Read:

"When Spring Is Comeing"
"When Summer Is Comeing"
"When Fall Is Comeing"

I am DEFINITELY going to read them all!  I can't wait!