Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve!

We Rowes had a great New Years Eve attending various productions and concerts throughout our town!  The final event we went to was a band that played Irish dance music, which was a big hit with the girls.

Happy New Year, from some very unlearned and unaware Irish dancers:

I Have No Words

So, Ethan and I are just sitting at the dining room table enjoying our brunch and coffee, when a buck naked Madeleine comes prancing into the room.

ME: Uh, there's a naked Madeleine in here.
MADELEINE: (enthusiastically) I just POOPED!
ME: Uh...great.  Did you wash your hands?
JULIA: Did you flush the toilet?
ETHAN: Did you wipe properly?
ME: So you just decided to come dance around in here naked?
MADELEINE: Yeh---oops!  I forgot!
ME: You forgot what?
MADELEINE: I forgot to wipe!
ME: You haven't wiped your bum at all??
MADELEINE: Nope.  I forgot!
ME: Madeleine.  GO AND WIPE YOUR BUM.  And then wash your hands.
MADELEINE: Okay!! (nakedly prancing away back to the bathroom)

O.M.G.  Thank goodness it's still 2015.  Otherwise I would say that 2016 is not off to a very promising start.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


For a kid who sure can make her own share of stinky smells, Madeleine definitely can't handle any odors that are not to her liking.

After shovelling the wet, heavy snow in our driveway for over an hour, I came inside and stripped off my outerwear.  When I asked Madeleine for a hug, she came over to me and wrapped her arms around me, then recoiled.

MADELEINE: Uh, Mama, did you just go for a run?
ME: No.
MADELEINE: Then why do you SMELL like SWEAT?
ME: Well, think about it.  What was I just doing?
MADELEINE: Shoveling.
ME: Right. 
MADELEINE: Okay, well, Mama, can you take a shower?
ME: No, I already took a shower today.
MADELEINE: Uh, but Mama, even when I come a little near you I start smelling sweat.
ME: So you don't wanna hug me??  (pretend sad face)
MADELEINE: Uh, Julia??  Could you help Mama??  She needs some hugs!  (scampering off)

That's right.  She couldn't even deign to hug me because I smelled too sweaty.  That was a job she was going to delegate to Julia.  SHEESH.

Although Madeleine is critical of other peoples' smells, she is not immune to her own odor.  She had a crisis when we were in CT because she couldn't discern which underwear in her overnight bag were clean and which were dirty.  So she came to the obvious, logical conclusion.

MADELEINE: (with dramatic sadness) Mama.  I can't wear ANY underwear today.
ME: You can't?  Why not?
MADELEINE: Because!  I don't know which ones are CLEAN and which are DIRTY!
ME: Uh-
MADELEINE: I *tried* smelling them, but they ALL smell DISGUSTING!

Well then.  I guess going commando is the only forseeable option.  Right?  Glad she was able to reach such a drastic conclusion so easily.

Since my kids don't want to snuggle me and warm me up after my tough afternoon of shovelling, I guess I'll bundle up in a non-judgemental blanket and cuddle my own smelly SELF.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Crayons and Markers, Personified

Julia and Madeleine both love the book "The Day the Crayons Quit," and its sequel, "The Day the Crayons Came Home."  In fact, each girl enjoys these books so much that they BOTH came up with the idea to make a plagiarized sequel to the sequel as a Christmas gift for each other. 

Julia's book to Madeleine kept the main character, Duncan, from the real books:

The Day The Crayons Came to Duncan
Julia Rowe
"Merry Christmas Madeleine, for you with love who also loved these books." -J.R.

Madeleine took a slightly more liberal approach, both in her title and in her main character:

It's just us

"dear julia, you love me but kan you pleas tell your little sistr that she has to yous me love dork blue markr
p.s. im stil hear"

Sheesh.  That dork blue markr is being awfully demanding.  It's not enough to yoused by julia, but her little sistr has to use the dork blue as well??

"dear julia you no that im for chrismis so kood you pleas yous me for that more ofin love red markr"

YEAH.  Red markr is only for chrismis.  Doesn't matter if it's chrismis or not.  YOUS red markr MORE OFIN.  But only for chrismis.

"Hi julia i llik my job kus you love me so much and i llik you love bron markr"

Aww!  Bron markr is the best of them all!  He's just thankful for being loved.  No demands here.  That dork blue and that red markr are just SUPER high-maintenance whiners.

"Dear julia i love that i am so brit but there is one problem i am so brit that you kan bareli see me love yellow markr."

Well, yellow markr, that's kind of a legit complaint, seeing as I have trouble actually reading this page that's written in you.

That's the end of "It's just us."  No actual resolution to the markrs' problems, just the complaints.  But I guess since it's a gift for Julia and the letters are addressed to her, perhaps it's up to Julia herself to figure out how to make all those markrs happy.  Either that, or just stick with bron markr and screw all the rest of 'em.

At any rate, the girls were both delighted by the plagiarized sequels they received, so, although all may not be right in the crayon/marker world, all (for the moment) is right in the Rowe sisterhood.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Rowe Household!

 Merry Christmas!

The girls thoroughly spoiled me today.  From this:

To Mommy love Madeleine a crismis presint that i no yll love

to the books and poems by Julia, I certainly feel the love. 

Among the gifts Julia made for me is this poem:

Peacful Sounds of Joy

Softly creeping down the hall
Somebody weeping in the wall
Peacful sounds of joy
The old man snoring,
it's almost morning,
peacful sounds of joy
Someone playing Hot Cross Buns,
Someone carrying a pumpkin of two tons
Someone singing softly and cradeling
her baby all peacful sounds of joy.
Merry Christmas!

I'm not sure I can think of a sound more peaceful and joyous than that of someone weeping in the wall. 

I also got this beautifully written book from Julia:

A Circle of Friends
By Julia Rowe

 For my mother, who never judges a person by how they look.  (Awww.)

"One little grape, who had a friend who was a watermellon that could do a backbend.  Who had a friend Rasberry who who was really fun, who had a friend Cherry, that got drie in the sun.  Who had a friend of fruit punch who never got mad, who had a friend blue, who was really glad."

"Who had a friend mint leaf who was the color of a lime, who had a friend apple who could make pie that was devine.  Who had a friend banana who liked ice-cream, who had a friend orange that was nice, not mean.  Who had a friend Cinamon who liked the rain!  Who had a friend licorice, who started it over again.  Which creates-"

"A circle of friends!  With all the friends that were made this day, all there troubles went away!"

About the Author
Julia Rowe has written many books in her life.  She finds this one the most touching.  (I will leave the rest out for the sake of the author's privacy, as Julia decided to give all the details of her life, from her birth date to address...)

Back page: "A Circle of Friends is a touching little book about how people can still be friends even if they look, act, or sound different.  You may find this along the way as you read about all the different foods (and one drink) friends.  Find out more about books by Julia Rowe."

How can Christmas be anything but merry with gifts - and daughters - like these??

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Family Movie Time

Ethan took the afternoon off from work today, and took advantage of an opportunity to multi-task while riding his exercise bike and inviting the rest of us to Family Movie Time in our bedroom.

The girls chose the old-school, Boris Karloff-narrated version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as our family movie, and they settled happily on our bedroom floor with Christmas cookies.

Julia had chosen this movie, in particular, because Madeleine had watched it several times this holiday season, and always at a time during which Julia was doing something.  Julia was long overdue to get a chance to finally watch it, so, logically, she decided to bring all her Shopkins into the bedroom to distract her during the movie.

ETHAN: So Julia.  You were complaining that everytime Madeleine watched this, you missed it because you were doing something.  So you're gonna play with your Shopkins while it's on so that you are once again doing something during the movie?

Madeleine then decided she needed some toys of her own.

MADELEINE: Wait!  My Stuffies won't want to miss THIS!  (running off to her room and returning with Saoirse the Seal and Puff-Puff the dog.)

You need a lot of reinforcements for a 30-minute movie, apparently.

The movie began, and the kids piped up here and there with comments.

WHOS: (singing) Dabu doris, dabu dorus, welcome, welcome Christmas day.  Welcome Christmas, dabu dabu...
JULIA: I wonder what "dabu dabu" means?
MADELEINE: It's "dabu DORIS," Julia.

Because arguing over the made-up words in the Who song is worth it, right? 

BORIS KARLOFF: And the noise, oh the noise, oh the noise, noise, noise NOISE.

BORIS KARLOFF: And they'd feast, and they'd feast, and they'd feast, feast, feast FEAST.

BORIS KARLOFF: And they'd sing, and they'd sing, and they'd sing, sing, sing, SING.
ME: (imitating Madeleine's voice) We GET it.
MADELEINE: Yeah, you're right, we DO!

BORIS KARLOFF: The Grinch found the strength of ten grinches, plus two.
JULIA: So...twelve Grinches?

Near the end of the movie, Julia stubbed her toe and whimpered about it.  When the movie was over, I suggested we watch another short Christmas special.

ME: Do you girls wanna watch "Mickey: A Christmas Carol?"
JULIA: Well, my TOE still really hurts.
MADELEINE: And I *never* got to practice my Christmas song on the piano!
ME: (to Madeleine) What happened? 
JULIA: Well, I *stubbed* it on the bed.
ME: No, I know that, I was talking to Madeleine.

We then began a several minutes' agonized deliberation over whether to watch another movie.  Madeleine went off to play her song on the piano and jump-rope in the hallway right outside the bedroom door for awhile, but ultimately their addiction to screen time won over and we are now enjoying round 2 of Family Movie time.  And honestly, I can't think of any way I'd rather spend the day than lounging around doing Christmassy things with my favorite people!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rowes Do the Boston Ballet

Today was an exciting one for the girls: they got to leave school early and head downtown to see Boston Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker!"

Madeleine was SO excited.  As we exited the school, she exclaimed in delight, "I can't BELIEVE we're getting to go Boston to see the NUTCRACKER!"

Julia was quick to shoot down Madeleine's enthusiasm.  "Going to Boston is not such a big DEAL, Madeleine.  It's not like we've never been there before."

Nothing could dampen Madeleine's spirit, however, and she was so full of energy on our train ride into Boston that she forgot how to act like a civilized human being.  She decided we should play "Twenty Questions" and then proceeded to give her answers to the questions at such a volume that I'm sure the entire trainload of people could hear her.  She also seemed to have forgotten how to sit in a seat normally, and instead chose to slump her body down with her legs up in the air, the skirt of her dress hiked up so her tights were on full display.  Sigh.  At least Julia managed to conduct herself like a socialized human being.

Ethan met us at the train stop and we all headed over to the Boston Opera house together for the performance.  As the ballet began, the girls began watching in awe, although Madeleine apparently thought we were watching the super-abbreviated version of the show.  As the first scene came to an end, only a few minutes into the performance, and the audience began clapping, Madeleine turned to me and whispered, "Mama, is it over??"

At the intermission, I bought the girls gingerbread cookies, and as we got into our seats, Madeleine got herself into her classic relaxation position.  For anyone who has ever watched her snuggled in a blanket on the couch, watching tv and eating a snack, this was the ballet-watching equivalent.  With my coat over her lap as a blanket, her face smeared with frosting from her cookie, and her Nutcracker crown,:

she settled in to watch the second half.

Julia, who inhales her food, was already completely done with her gingerbread cookie by the time the curtain rose.

Madeleine got a little antsy during the final few scenes, but luckily the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" got her attention back on track.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Is it almost over? Oh! I *love* this song!  (Loudly humming along to the music) Dun-dun dun dun dun dun dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun...
ME: Shhhh...
MADELEINE: (humming along at a slightly lower volume)

Can't take this kid anywhere.

When the ballet was over, we all walked over to Ethan's office so he could gather his things and head home for the day with us.  The girls desperately wanted to be the ones to open his office doors, so he gave them a word of advice.

ETHAN: Open the left-most door.  The one on the right doesn't work very well.
MADELEINE: Daddy, have you ever BEEN here before?
ME: Madeleine, this is Daddy's office.  He WORKS here.

That was proof enough to convince Madeleine to use the door on the left.

Julia was enthralled by Ethan's office (despite the fact that we have visited before.)  The foosball table, the bean bag chair, the balance board, and the two dogs who had come to work with their owner were paradise for her.

JULIA: I really LOVE Daddy's work!  Because they have all kinds of fun TOYS here!

The convenience store in the lobby of Ethan's office building put Julia over the edge.  She gazed through the window at the rack of candy inside.

JULIA: (in rapture) Wait.  You have your OWN PERSONAL CANDY ROOM?!?

Yup.  All they have to do is pay the cashier the required amount of money and they can get any candy they want.

During our train ride back home, Ethan entertained Madeleine by letting her use the voice command on his phone to look things up.

MADELEINE: Okay, Google, show me a comet!

As Madeleine and Ethan gazed at pictures of a comet, Madeleine thought to ask what would happen if a comet fell down onto a person.  Ethan gave an honest answer.  Which then led to the most sociopathic question anyone has asked Google.

MADELEINE: Okay, Google, show me a picture of a person live on fire.

Ethan snatched the phone away the moment the images loaded, and that was the end of that game.

We are all back home now, snug in our cozy pjs, enjoying our official start of the holiday break!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Madeleine's Rules for Monkey Bar Success

Despite the fact that it was raining after school today, Madeleine was still game to try the monkey bars while we waited for Julia's class to be dismissed.  Since kindergarten gets dismissed five minutes before the older grades, Madeleine and a fellow kindergartener took a go at monkeying their way across the slippery bars.  Much hilarity ensued as each girl lost her grip at unexpected times and went plummeting to the ground, and as time went on, the girls hammed up their falls with loud, crazy screaming.

Madeleine made it nearly all the way across on her last try, and as we walked home, she told me the secret to her success.

MADELEINE: Okay. Mama.  You wanna know how I can do the monkey bars in the RAIN?  Here's what you have to do.  Number one is: Try to get a good grip.  Number TWO is: try to have fun and you'll make it almost all the way.  Number THREE is: try to BELIEVE in yourself.  And number four is: on the LAST one, just try to believe that you can do it, and just try to BELIEVE in yourself, and you'll get a good grip and you can make it all the way!

Wow.  Those rules for ensuring success are so poignant that I think we should all apply them to every aspect of life.  From now on, I'm going to just TRY to believe in myself and I *know* I'll make it all the way in everything I do!

Monday, December 21, 2015


The girls both tend to be pretty smart kids and awfully absorbent learners, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise when I make this tongue-in-cheek comment, but: sometimes they can be SUPER dopey.

Julia had a completed math packet in her school folder this afternoon, with all but one problem given a bright purple check mark.  The one outlier had a purple "see me" written underneath it, and upon looking at Julia's first (erased) and second answers, I can certainly understand why.

Here is the math question: "Kavya has 8 stamps.  She puts one stamp on each envelope.  How many envelopes does she put stamps on?"

Julia apparently thought this was some kind of complex mind-game of a question.  Her first answer, which is faded from erasing but still completely legible: "3 stamps on 3 envelopes."

Beyond the fact that this answer would yield nine stamps, and Kavya has only 8, Julia clearly thought "she put one stamp on each envelope" meant "she put three stamps on each envelope." 

ME: Julia, what made you think the answer was three stamps on three envelopes?
JULIA: I dunno!  I was CONFUSED.  Like, they didn't tell you how many ENVELOPES she has, so I thought you're just supposed to come up with how many she has or something.

It appears that seeing the teacher helped clear things up for Julia, although her answer still doesn't quite provide mathematical satisfaction.  Above the erased answer is a new answer, so the question now reads:

Q: Kavya has 8 stamps.  She puts one stamp on each envelope.  How many envelopes does she put stamps on?
A: All of the envelopes.

Let me help you out, Julia.  THE ANSWER IS EIGHT.

Madeleine has had her own moments of daffiness this evening as well.  During dinner, she tried to get off the hook about eating her zucchini.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Do I have to eat TWO things I don't like?
ME: You have to eat ALL your vegetables if you want dessert.
MADELEINE: (sighing heavily) Okaaaay.

No sooner had she finished her vegetables and sausage, but NOTHING ELSE ON HER PLATE, than she was ready to gobble up some cookies.

MADELEINE: (leaping down from her chair) Uh, MAMA?  (running into the kitchen) After my dessert, can I still eat my couscous if I'm still HUNGRY?
ME: Honey.  You need to eat your couscous BEFORE dessert.  You need to actually eat your whole dinner before you have dessert.
MADELEINE: (returning to the table) Oh!  I thought you said I just had to eat all my vegetables!

Furthermore, this evening in bed, after we turned out the lights, I asked her what lullaby she wanted, forgetting to have her say a prayer first.

MADELEINE: Uh, hang on, Mama.  First I have to say my prayer.  (putting her hands together) One, two, three...
ME: Wait, what?
MADELEINE: Oh!  (bursting into giggles) Whoops!  Thank you God, for making me, thank you for my family, Amen.
ME: What happened?
MADELEINE: Oh.  I just got so USED to washing my hands.

At least she remembers to count to twenty, as I've taught her, while she washes her hands.  Now we need to work on differentiating OTHER activities in which her hands touch each other from hand-washing.

With their laser-sharp focus on what they're doing and their complete understanding of life, these kids are gonna rule the world some day.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Madeleine on the planets, reading, and brains:

MADELEINE: Jupiter is my favorite planet.  But I wouldn't want to live there, because: one, it's a GAS GIANT.  Two, the big storm.  Three: one side is hot, and one side is cold.
ME: Why is Jupiter your favorite planet?  Because it's so big?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And I like the storm.  But.  I wouldn't want to go in it, because (eyes widening) NO ONE COULD SURVIVE IT.
ME: Wow.
MADELEINE: Saturn is ALMOST as big as Jupiter, because it's another gas giant.
ME: How did you get so smart??
MADELEINE: From school!
ME: Oh yeah?
MADELEINE: But with reading, it's just naturally.
ME: I see.
MADELEINE: I don't know how my brain is getting bigger.  But if my brain is getting bigger, my head should be getting bigger, so my brain doesn't EXPLODE out of my head.

Friday, December 18, 2015

School Drawings

Madeleine is clearly letting her true artistic colors show at school.  Here's the drawing that was in her folder today:

Welcome to the Monster Huows!  Where ghosts fly about in all directions to scare the living daylights out of purple-mouthed little girls.

The back of the picture is even creepier:

The fat ghost is shooting some sort of magical power out of his hands that is going to lobotomize the poor sacrificial lab rat on the table.  The girl in the upper right corner either has an even weirder mouth than the one on the front page, or has been bound and gagged.  And seriously.  What is UP with the guy on the bottom right?  He's the creepiest one.  I feel like if I look him in the eyes I'll turn to stone.

Glad Madeleine isn't toning down her sadistic ghoul art while she's at school.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Even More About the Mintz

JULIA: (galloping ecstatically back and forth through the hallway and living room)
ME: Okay, Julia time to brush your teeth and get to bed.
JULIA: (deflating with a pouty face)
ME: Sorry, honey, but it's time.
JULIA: (gazing off into he distance) Mommy, I can't WAIT for the Christmas pageant at church.
ME: I know you can't.  Were you thinking about it while you were galloping?
JULIA: Yessss.
ME: Are the Mintz doing a Christmas pageant too?
JULIA: (as if I'm a moron) They're in OUR Christmas pageant!
ME: Wait.  The Mintz go to our church?!?
ME: Oh.  I never see them there!
JULIA: (collapsing into giggles, then looking at me warily as if she's not totally sure I'm kidding around.)
ME: Do any of them sing in the choir with me?
JULIA: Yes!  Their mom, and Jastina and Jessica do.
ME: Oh!  Well, I'll have to keep an eye out for them.  Next time I go to choir I'll have to be like, "Hey, Astrid.  How's it goin?"

Because Astrid Mintz is the most Greek Orthodox sounding name there could ever be.  Duh.  How could I *not* have known she goes to our church???

Monday, December 14, 2015

Carol Practice

The girls will be playing roles in our church's annual Christmas Eve pageant, and this year, all Sunday School children will be performing some carols in addition to acting out the pageant.  Because some of the carols will have verses in Greek, we decided to start practicing today so we have time to really learn them. 

"Joy to the World" was a breeze because the girls already know the tune, and they were able to read the words easily, as this carol will be sung only in English:

However, some of the other carols with Greek verses were more challenging.  Madeleine decided to opt out of singing any Greek, because: "Well MAMA!   I was TRYING to read the Greek words, but you were going through the song TOO fast!"  Luckily, she was a good sport about listening to Julia and I sing the Greek so that she can start to learn the words by ear.  Other carols were tricky simply because the girls hadn't heard them before, so we had to work on the melody as well as words.  Aside from "Joy to the World," we had success with "Silent Night," although Madeleine did not partake in the two Greek verses.  As I made a photocopy for her so that I could play off of one copy and give her one to read from, she requested, "Oh, and Mama?  Can you print the words ENGLISHLY?"

I was not able to print the Greek words Englishly, but I totally came through on printing the English verses Englishly.  At least I was able to meet her halfway.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Blast from the Past

I showed Madeleine a picture taken of her exactly 6 years ago today, when she was still a newborn baby:

This picture obviously caused her some confusion, as she attempted to understand how old she was 6 years ago.

MADELEINE: Mama?  How OLD was I?
ME: You were two months old.
MADELEINE: Wait.  Mama.  I was TWO??
ME: You were two MONTHS old.
MADELEINE: But...Mama, I OLD was I?
ME: You were two months old.  You were still a newborn baby.
MADELEINE: But how many YEARS was I?
ME: You weren't even one year yet.  You were two months old.
MADELEINE: So Mama.  I was NO age?
ME: No, you were an age.  You were two months old.
MADELEINE: But...I mean...was I, like, TWO years old or something?
ME: You were two MONTHS old.
MADELEINE: So I was NO age?
ME: You were two months old.
MADELEINE: But.  Mama.  I mean what AGE was I?
ME: You were two months old.
MADELEINE: So I was NO age?

Clearly, she just can't grasp the concept of age in smaller quantities of measurement than years.

Now, six years later, Madeleine is a knowledge factory, amassing all kinds of facts and information from her studies at school.  Lately, she's learning about space, and she is ready to enhance her studies with a 100% real-life space experience.

MADELEINE: Mama.  I wonder, if at school, we're gonna suck up all the GRAVITY with a we can float around!
ME: Oh, no, I don't think you're going to be able to do that.  You have to go to space to do that.
MADELEINE: (cheerfully) But Mama. We're LEARNING about space!!

I guess the fact that she did not actually travel to Hawaii during the recent Hawaiian unit has not clued Madeleine into the fact that her class will not be simulating real-life zero-gravity situations in the classroom.

I look forward to seeing what further knowledge and abilities Madeleine has six years in the future!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Snuggle Time

Tonight I told Madeleine that I would snuggle her at bedtime as long as she didn't do any chit-chat. 

Here are some of the things she felt were so urgent to say to me that she broke the "no chit-chat" rule.

Breaking the no chit-chat rule #1:
-"Mama?  What happens when a bomb EXPLODES?"

My brief explanation led her to tell me about how she now feels scared because what if one of our neighbors has a bomb.  I then told her that, in that case, our neighbor would be arrested because bombs are illegal.  She then wanted to know how you make a bomb work.  I decided we were done talking about that subject.

Breaking the no chit-chat rule #2:
-"Mama?  How come you keep saying there's church on Christmas, even though Christmas is not on a Sunday?"

Apparently, in Madeleine's brain, church is only on Sundays.  Not on major Christian holidays or anything.  The above led to the next question, after a few moments of silence.

Breaking the no chit-chat rule #3:-"But Mama?  So, there's church on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, and...what's the fancy word for the day AFTER Christmas?"

I have no idea.  I don't think there is one.  Go to sleep. 

Breaking the no chit-chat rule #4:-"Mama?  At Fairy Tale Fitness, I was thinking for the Jack and Jill activity, they would have the mats really REALLY super high, or...they would have, like, a big high hill made out of PLASTIC."

Yeah.  Fairy tale fitness was October 30.  Why are we thinking about that at bedtime tonight?  Well, why not?!?

Breaking the no chit-chat rule #5:
-"Mama?  I think I know WHY, lunch, Julia hugged my friend MORE than me.  I think it was because I was drinking my water bottle, and, like, I  had to hold the bottle in ONE hand, and the cap in the OTHER hand, and that's hard to do.  And Mama?  I was so happy, water bottle didn't SMELL like it did yesterday."

The reason why her water smelled yesterday was because she had secretly been nursing a Poland Spring bottle over the course of a week, drinking a few sips at night and putting the bottle on the ground by her bed.  I can't even imagine how gross it must have smelled and tasted as it continually collected her mouth bacteria.  It's no wonder today's previously unopened bottle that I packed in her lunch didn't smell bad.  But...all of that is BESIDE THE POINT right now because it's NO CHIT-CHAT SNUGGLE TIME.

There were a million other rule-breakings so I gave up.  Snuggle time is officially OVER.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

School Art

Some of the free art Madeleine has come home from school with this week:

There is something slightly menacing about this picture.  I'm not sure whether it's the wild-haired unicorn maniacally trying to climb the tree, or the curlicued objects flying through the sky, or maybe just the fact that the kite is the only spot of color on the page.  For some reason, I just feel a shudder run through me.

FAKT: This gyint is hrt.
FAKT: This tree has no branchis.

Madeleine informed me that she didn't have room to write ALL of the facts, so I guess she decided to stick with the two universal truths of the world.  The hrt gyint and the sik tree.

Just in case you're worried that Madeleine is saving all her best artwork for school, here is what she is currently drawing while sitting at the dining room table:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Little Swimmers

Yesterday the girls had a swim meet; the first ever away meet for Madeleine, and the first meet at which both girls had their matching team suits:

As this was only Madeleine's second meet ever, she was still a bit of a novice to the routine.  You may notice in the above picture that Julia's hand is covered in Black Sharpie text.  In order to help things run more smoothly, the swimmers are asked to have their event number and event names written on their hands. 

This caused some confusion for Madeleine.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I'm doing a 47. many laps is it to make 47?
ME: No, honey, you're swimming 25 yards, just like always.  One lap.  It's just that you're EVENT 47.
MADELEINE: Okay.  So...a 25?  And Mama?  How many laps do I swim for an 81?

Yeah.  She didn't get it.

Anyway, after the meet was over, both girls were full of babbling commentary during the ride home.  At one point, Madeleine grew impatient with Julia's ongoing chatter to me and insisted on interrupting to tell me something *really* important.

MADELEINE: Mama!  Julia, it's MY turn. Mama!
ME: Yes?
MADELEINE: (philosophically) I think I like being IN the water better than LOOKING at the water.  Yeah.  Because...I was thinking about that I think it just LOOKS better when you're IN the water than when you're just sitting and LOOKING at the pool.

That was a truly poignant statement.  I'm so glad she managed to get that word in edgewise over Julia.

Julia had enjoyed the meet thoroughly, despite one little snafu: during her Individual Medley, she was so focused on her upcoming 100yd freestyle that she went on auto-pilot and started off not with the butterfly, but with freestyle.  Luckily, she took it in stride, commenting with a laugh afterwards, "Well, at least I realized my mistake and changed to butterfly!"

I mentioned to Julia, later on, that had she done the reverse -- accidentally swam butterfly instead of freestyle -- it would probably not have resulted in a disqualification.  I explained to her that the term "freestyle" doesn't necessarily mean "front crawl," but rather means the swimmer's own choice of stroke.  Because front crawl is the fastest of all strokes, virtually every swimmer chooses that for freestyle. 

JULIA: Well, actually, front crawl might not be the fastest for everybody.  But, like, some people might be BETTER at a different stroke than front crawl so they might actually be able to swim, like, BACKSTROKE faster than they can swim front crawl. 
ME: Yeah, I guess so.  But in general, front crawl is a faster stroke.
JULIA: Well, besides, Lilly Mintz is faster at butterfly than at front crawl.

Oh. Well, in that case.  If one of the members of Julia's imaginary family can do butterfly faster, that totally proves her point.

However, since Julia, herself, is faster at front crawl than any other stroke, I will encourage her to continue swimming that stroke for her freestyle.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Powm

Madeleine decided to write a secret love poem for her best friend from kindergarten.  After asking her friend, on the sly, for her cubby number, Madeleine then snuck the poem into her friend's cubby, to be discovered later.

The poem, or should I say "powm" was a hit!  I even got to see a copy of it, sent to me from Madeleine's friend's mother:

"a powm:
your eyes are so blue i love you as much as a gowt loves gras.
i love you"

Now that is a sweet display of friendship.  I, personally, would be THRILLED to find out someone loves me as much as a gowt loves gras.  That is a true expression of affection if there ever was one.  Beautifully done, Madeleine!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Trader Joe-Joe's

Ethan bought some special treats when he went grocery shopping this past weekend.  Not only did he buy Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's, but he also bought what, according to the label, are "The Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe's."

These various Joe-Joe's are causing quite a stir, and not only because of what I perceive as a grammatically incorrect apostrophe. 

Madeleine launched into a big explanation on the Joe-Joe's this morning as I scrambled to mop up a big coffee spill pouring all over the kitchen counters.

MADELEINE: Mama.  We have TWO kinds of Joe-Joe's.
ME: Mmm-hmm. (Wiping up as much coffee as I can get before it dribbles over the counter edge)
MADELEINE: of them is the FAKE kind,'s a different size.
ME: Mmm-hmm. (frantically grabbing more paper towels)
MADELEINE: Yeah.  The MULTI-FLAVOR ones are just THIS size.
ME: (silence)
MADELEINE: (silence)
ME: (continued silence as I wiped up my mess)
MADELEINE: (with great impatience) Mama, are you LOOKING?
ME: (turning around to see Madeleine modelling the Joe-Joe's size with her hands.)  Oh.  I see.

Julia, for her part, decided that we should make our own Joe-Joe's someday in the near future.

JULIA: Can we ever make these?  It has the recipes on the box.
ETHAN: If it has recipes on the box, they're for baking things using the Joe-Joe's.
JULIA: No, Daddy, it has the recipes for how to make Joe-Joe's on the box.
ETHAN: If it has recipes, it's for using the Joe-Joe's to make some other goody.  They want you to buy more Joe-Joe's.  They're trying to make money.  They want to encourage you to buy another box so you can use the Joe-Joe's in a baking recipe.
JULIA: No, it has the recipe for how to MAKE the Joe-Joe's.  Look!

In case you also want the "recipe" for your own baking needs, here it is:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankfulness, Again

Okay, Madeleine, this is much better.  I approve:

This is a HUGE improvement over "I am thankful for the ran."  Even if Madeleine did draw me with a blue nose and ginormous clown hands.

On the other hand (no pun intended), this is at least the third thankfulness project Madeleine has brought home from school.  The first project, in and of itself, contained six separate things for which Madeleine is thankful.  I mean, it's kind of no wonder that Madeleine was grasping at straws after awhile and writing things like "the ran" and "my froots" when prompted to list what she's thankful for.  A kid can only do so much, right?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

'Tis the Season

The tree is up in the Rowe household!:

Julia is already ready to engage in her favorite seasonal activity.

JULIA: I'm gonna have to do some THOROUGH staring at the Christmas tree!

Now, if only I could get her to do some thorough cleaning of her room, we'd be in great shape around here!

Friday, November 27, 2015


The Rowe family celebrated Thanksgiving up in Vermont with the (other) Rowe family.  Madeleine and Julia were thrilled to see their Nana and Gramps, and, of course, to re-visit all their favorite VT activities.  They spent time down by Lake Champlain, they rode on the tree swing, and they played with the Loving Family figurines that Nana keeps for grandchildren visits.

Madeleine had an especially intriguing game going on with the Loving Family teenagers.  She turned to Nana and solemly announced the impending fate of the teenage couple.

MADELEINE: Nana?  She's gonna BREAK UP with her boyfriend, because...he's giving her too much PRESSURE.

Oh, boy.

The teenagers continued on down the path towards their breakup, when suddenly Madeleine took the narrative plot in a completely unexpected direction.

MADELEINE: They're getting MARRIED!
ME: Wait?  They're getting married now?  I thought they were breaking up!
MADELEINE: They WERE, but then they decided to get married.
NANA: What made her decide not to break up with her boyfriend?
MADELEINE: Well, he told her that they might be having a baby soon, because they're being TOGETHER so much.

Yikes.  O.  M.  G.

In non teenage-pregnancy related news, Julia channeled her inner Martha Stewart and got REALLY into setting and decorating the table for Thanksgiving dinner.  Not only did she set out all the plates, crystal goblets, cloth napkins, etc, but she made place-settings for each guest so he or she knew where to sit.

Madeleine was super jealous of the fact that Julia got to do all of this.  As we all sat down to eat dinner, Gramps suggested Julia lead us in saying grace.

MADELEINE: But.  Julia isn't ALLOWED to say grace, because she ALREADY got to set the WHOLE TABLE all by herself.
ME: Do you want to say grace, then, Madeleine?
ME: Okay, then Julia can do it.
MADELEINE: No, that's not FAIR!  Julia ALREADY got to set the table!

So I came up with what I thought was a compromise.  I suggested we all say the "Johnny Appleseed" grace from the girls' preschool, since both girls remember it well.  I began singing the grace, and Julia tentatively joined in, while Madeleine sat chomping on a bite of pumpkin bread.  I turned to Madeleine in between phrases of the song and said, "Sing with us!"  Madeleine, instead, opted to stare indifferently ahead, shoveling the entire rest of the pumpkin bread into her mouth.

Oh well.

Regardless of the envy over table setting, the girls seemed to have a lovely Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed the time with good food and loving family.  Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What the Kids are Thankful For

Both girls came home from school today with thankfulness projects.  The great disparity between these two accounts of being thankful pretty much sums up everything about their individual personalities.

Here is Julia's:

"I am thankful for my home and my family.  I am thankful for my house because without it I would'nt live anywhere.  I am thankful for it because it keeps me warm.  I am thankful for it because it's cozy and everyone I love lives there.  I am thankful for it because I feel safe there.  I am thankful for my family because they comfort me.  I am thankful for them because they help me.  I am thankful for them because my sister is so cute and I love to play with her.  I am thankful for them because they love me and I love them."

My heart is truly bursting. 

Here is Madeleine's:

I am thankful for..
"the ran."

Wow.  She put some serious thought into that one.

ME: Madeleine, what makes you thankful for the rain?
MADELEINE: I dunno.  I just felt like putting that. 

(Julia also felt the need to question this)

JULIA: Madeleine.  You're thankful for the rain?!?
MADELEINE: I just decided I wanted to write that.
JULIA: You like it when it rains??
MADELEINE: Sometimes.  A little bit.

Just when I didn't think it was possible to feel more touched and heart-warmed than I felt while reading what Julia is thankful for, WHAM! -  Madeleine went and hit it out of the park.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pink Eye and Thankfulness

Well, just as Julia went back to school today, recovered from her Sunday vomiting, Madeleine stayed home sick with pink eye.  We just can't seem to keep a healthy Rowe household lately, folks.  At least the one silver lining is that Madeleine came up with a perfect impetus to her unconscious reflex of wiping her gooey, germy eye:

Ahoy, mateys!  Captain Maddog here to run your ship!

While Madeleine may be thankful for her grrrreat eye patch, she is apparently more thankful for other aspects of her life, at least as far as her school turkey project shows:

Let's take a more in-depth look at what Madeleine is thankful for.

1 and 2:
Aww, Madeleine is thankful for her sistr, who is clearly so big an influence in Madeleine's life that she can barely squeeze her head inside the box.  Madeleine is also thankful for trkys.  She rarely thinks about trky, nor does she ever interact with trkys, but she does look forward to the few times a year she gets to consume trky meat.  So I guess it's a legit thing to be thankful for.

Madeleine is thankful for her frnds.  I'm so glad she has been making so many new frnds in kindergarten!

Madeleine is thankful for her famuly!
Although, apparently, only one famuly member made the cut.  I think it's a picture of me, though.  I'm so honored!

Madeleine is thankful for her hous.  I am too!  Even though it recently had a dead mous in it.  And a live mous that we took out of our hous and deposited in a park in the hopes that it can make itself an outdoor hous.

And finally, 6:
Madeleine is thankful for her froots.
Of all the foods to express thanks for, she picks one that she doesn't even really like?  I'm lucky if I can get my kids to eat at least an apple every day.  That's about all they get in the way of froots, since they claim to dislike most every other froot I try and feed them.  But clearly, that one daily (partial) apple fills the void deep in Madeleine's heart.  Hooray for froots!

Personally, I will be very, very thankful when we Rowes are a germ-free, illness-free bunch.  Maybe an increase in our daily froots and vitmain C will help get us there!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday, Julia!

Julia is nine years old!  I can hardly believe it.

She definitely successfully made it through a rite of passage on the eve of her birthday: puking, all on her own, into a public toilet.

I had been sitting in the viewing area watching her swim team practice, seeing her bobbing up and down doing her breast stroke, when another mom started talking to me.  I turned away to converse with this mother, and when I turned back to look through the viewing window, I couldn't see Julia anywhere.

A few moments later, she appeared at my side, wet and dripping in her swimsuit and swim cap.

ME: What's up, honey?
JULIA: Can I talk to you in private?

I quickly excused myself to the other mother, and went around the corner to see what Julia wanted to tell me.

ME: What is it?
JULIA: I told Coach that I wasn't feeling well, and he said, "Like, how?" and I said I felt like I needed to throw up, and he said okay, I could get out, and then I did.
ME: You did get out, or you did throw up?
JULIA: I threw up.
ME: Where??
JULIA: In the locker room toilet.

It turns out she also spattered her swimsuit pretty nicely.  Poor kiddo.  I got her into the shower and had her rinse her suit and clean herself, and then we headed home to get her into her pjs and into bed.

So our poor newly 9-year-old had to miss school on her birthday, which was a disappointment, as she was eager to bring in the birthday poster she had made, along with her white tee-shirt that would soon be decorated with permanent-markered signatures from all her classmates.  On the bright side, however, she got a chance to hang out in her pajamas and watch the new DVD I had given her for her birthday: the Canadian miniseries "Anne of Green Gables."  Sometimes we all need a pj and tv day.

Luckily, Julia was feeling recovered enough to go out to the restaurant of her choice for a birthday dinner, although she didn't have much appetite for her mac n cheese.  Both girls represented the Rowe family with class and style at this nicer-than-average restaurant:

Julia, with her birthday ice cream.  She wore her winter coat, and at times sat draped with Auntie Caitlyn's scarp wrapped around her body, throughout the whole meal.

Olaf.  I mean, Madeleine.  Who also ate her entire dinner in her winter coat and hat.

The whole table, being totally chic in their built-in half-gloves.

Happy Birthday, my dear Julia!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Madeleine's New Christmas Book

Even though Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet, the girls have made it clear that their minds are already on Christmas.  Madeleine started writing a brand new Christmas book this week, and although it remains unfinished, I'm pretty intrigued by the story so far.

The Chrismiss purty at my hous

I'm not sure what a black square and brown stars have to do with Christmas.  Or with parties, for that matter.  I mean, I suppose the brown stars could be gingerbread cookies.  But I have to say, this is not exactly the festive picture I had in mind upon hearing the title of Madeleine's book.

"We just wock up frum a iksiting sleep it was chrismiss."

Let me tell you.  There's nothing more iksiting about Christmas than the sleeping part.  What else can you ask for?  You lay your tired head down on the pillow and conk out, right?  I'm gonna remind the kids, when they don't want to go to sleep on Christmas Eve because they're too wound up and energized thinking about the presents, that their sleep is bound to be iksiting!

"We camm to open up the presints"

I really like their yellow bird angel.  I also like the fact that the Christmas tree is too skinny for the presints to fit underneath.

"We got a seekrit rumot dad got a dril mom got a mag tomis got a..." 

Wait.  What did Tomis get?!?  A plab?  I'm not sure if I'm reading it correctly or not.  Let me look at the picture to analyze.  Which one is the seekrit remot?  My guess is...uh...either the second or third image.  Whichever one is not the seekrit remot is Dad's dril.  Mom's mag seems to be the image on the right.  So that leaves the yellow blob as the plab. What is a plab??  Did she mean to write "blob?"  Or are the letters so squished together that I can't make them out?  What does one do with a plab?  I'm so confused.

This is where the book leaves off.  I can't believe we don't get to find out what Tomis got yet!!  The suspense is going to keep ME from getting an iksiting night's sleep tonight!  Stay tuned, folks.  If I solve the mystery of Tomis's seekrit presint, I will be sure to give you the update!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Birthday Celebration

Julia celebrated her birthday today with a rock-climbing, zip-lining, trapeze-swinging party!:

Madeleine worked so hard trying to keep up with the other 14 guests that she proclaimed, upon coming home, "I'm EXHAUSTED."

I guess she was so exhausted she just had to fall asleep clinging onto her laundry basket: