Saturday, January 31, 2015

Madeleine and the Succulent Watermelon

Madeleine wrote a new book, which is an obvious rip-off of Julia's "The Succulent Strawberry."  But, hey, what are little sisters for if not copying everything their older siblings do??

 Madeleine and the Succulent Watermelon

Pg. 1
So far, this looks exciting.  A severed head lying in a pool of blood beside the world's most gigantic door.  Or, as Madeleine explains:

ME: Okay, can you tell me what's going on in this picture?
MADELEINE: She's sleeping.
ME: And what's that? (pointing to the purple thing on the right)
MADELEINE: That's her door.
ME: Why did you decide to make her door that color?
MADELEINE: You mean that TALL?
ME: Well, it is tall, but I was also wondering why you decided to make a purple door.
MADELEINE: Wait.  Mama.  I think that's BLUE.
ME: Okay. 
MADELEINE: I just...wanted her to have a blue door.
ME: Oh.  Okay. (pointing to the sleeping girl) And what's her name?
MADELEINE: I forget.

Well, that clears it all up!  (And the door is TOTALLY purple.  I call shenanigans on the whole blue door thing.)

Pg. 3 (no, this is not a typo.  I discovered upon listening to Madeleine's explanations that I had posted the pages in the wrong order.  How dare I.)
Hmm.  An angel floating around above the newborn Baby Jesus, who happens to have a cactus growing out of the top of His head??

MADELEINE: That's Elsa. That's a mountain she made.  And that's a girl that was sleeping when she was a baby.  And she woke up, because in the picture BEHIND it, her older sister is telling her something, and she was saying that she doesn't stop EATING soon, then she's going to turn back into a BABY.

Oh.  That was my second guess.

Pg. 2:
Oh, boy.  These girls do NOT look happy with each other.

MADELEINE: So, um, um, she' see her? (pointing to the girl on the left) She's SNEEZING, and her older sister is telling her that if she doesn't stop eating soon that she'll turn back into a baby.
ME: Was this page supposed to come before the one on the other side?
ME: Oh.  Sorry.  I put them out of order.

Holy cow.  This book is taking a strange turn.  Now there's an alien joining the girl-turned-baby and her sister?  This book has managed to defy all of my expectations.  I mean, I was anticipating a succulent watermelon at some point, but no such appearance.  And now there's an alien in a dress visiting our main characters?  Or did the baby keep eating despite her previous punishment, and thus turn from a baby in to an alien???  

ME: Madeleine, can you tell me about this picture?
ME: Where'd the alien come from?
MADELEINE: I just wanted to MAKE the alien.
ME: And what's the alien doing?
MADELEINE: Um, just doin' this (making a face) And SCARING people.  And...that's a sun, and that's it snowing, and that's a shooting star.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: And Mama? What does THAT say? (pointing to the words)
ME: It says "Alien Oh Pop."
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Julia wrote that.

That appears to be the end of "Madeleine and the Succulent Watermelon."  I have seen no evidence of a character named Madeleine, nor have I seen evidence of a succulent watermelon, but maybe there's some sort of metaphysical symbolism or something that I'm just too dim-witted to get.  I have to give Madeleine props for the surprise ending.  I never saw an alien invasion coming.  What a crazy twist!

Madeleine had another illustration along with her book, but she assures me that this is not an actual page of "The Succulent Watermelon."  I asked her to describe the contents of this page regardless.

ME: So tell me about this drawing.
MADELEINE: Um, it''s not right.
ME: But what is it a drawing of?
MADELEINE: (beginning to freak out) No, no, it's not the right WAY!

Yeah, I could tell you it's not right; none of Madeleine's illustrations seem quite right in the head.  The creep factor in this picture, which appears to me to be a spurt of blue guts and blood after someone got run over on the train tracks, is awfully high.

But because Madeleine couldn't handle about the picture being rotated the wrong way, I fixed it for her:

ME: All right, NOW will you tell me about it?
MADELEINE: That girl (pointing to the girl on the left) is swinging on a rope, into the leaves on a truffula tree, and then she gets SWINGED out, and then her hair is braided.  In two FRENCH BRAIDS!

Oh, I see!  Well, that makes about as much sense as the rest of her drawings, right?  Madeleine definitely likes to play it fast and loose with the plot of her stories.  I suppose it gives us "readers" an inside look into the abstract randomness that is her brain.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mad Libs

Julia had to miss a friend's birthday party last weekend, due to being sick, but she was lucky enough to receive a goody bag regardless.  This afternoon after school, Julia sat down to work on the book of Mad Libs that had been part of the goody bag.

JULIA: Mom?  It says "Celebrity," then it says "Same Celebrity," so how do I know which celebrity to put?
ME: "Same celebrity" means you put the same person you just wrote down.
JULIA: But how do I know which one?
ME: Well, say you put "Emma Watson."  So then when it says "Same Celebrity," you write down "Emma Watson" again.
JULIA: No, but I mean, at the BEGINNING it says "Celebrity."  Then near the END it says "Celebrity," and then it says "Same Celebrity."  So how do I know WHICH one to write?
ME: Ohhh.  You write the celebrity name you most recently used.

Once that was cleared up, Julia became stumped once again on which celebrity to choose.

JULIA: Wait, Mommy?  If someone is DEAD, can he still be a celebrity?
ME: Uh, yeah, sure.

I sat there wondering, "How does she know which celebrities have died??"  I certainly don't share the news of drug overdoses and heart attacks in the celebrity world with Julia.  Maybe she was thinking of a celebrity whose character dies in a movie?  Dumbledore?  Nemo's mother?

Turns out Julia had a very different idea of what constitutes celebrity status than I do.  Her idea of a celebrity has nothing to do with wealth or paparazzi, which I must say puts me to shame.

Here's the excerpt from Mad Libs that uses the "Celebrity" and "Same Celebrity" blanks, with Julia's fill-ins:

"Please RSV-Z to me by e-mail at iluv-Thomas Alva Edison@Thomas Alva"

Thomas Alva Edison!  Woo-hoo!  Now THAT is one hot celeb. 

In all seriousness, I'd take him over Paris Hilton any day. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Day

Well, as if the household flu coupled with the Blizzard of 2015 wasn't quite enough misery for us to endure, today we discovered that all of our showers, sinks, and toilets were backing up, resulting in a crew of workers digging a 3-foot deep hole in our yard to access our septic system.  I mean, after nights of interrupted sleep due to sickness, and after a day of shovelling out in the frigid air with our spasmodic coughs, who in their right mind would just want an easy, restful day off from all the madness?  Not us!  Here we are entertaining plumbers, septic companies, and other workers in and out all day, as we face the issue of not using any of our water-bearing devices. 

Julia had a very practical issue on her mind after Ethan gave the family order not to use the showers or sinks, and not to flush the toilets.

JULIA: But MOMMY?  What are we EVER going to do about POOPING??

Julia still won't poop anywhere but at home, with the exception of at restaurants, but ONLY if I stand in the stall with her the whole time.  So this is a valid concern for her.  Madeleine, on the other hand, has had plenty of practice pooping in her pants lately, so she's not nearly as anxious about where to put her poop if not in our own toilets.

Since we have yet ANOTHER day off from school, and since we can't use our water, I decided to take the kids out for the afternoon to go sledding.  We went to our old stomping ground, the field at the town high school.

MADELEINE: Mama.  I can't BELIEVE we're going to the SAME SLEDDING PLACE that we used to go to at our OLD house.

Yes, seeing as we moved about a half mile away from our own house, within the same town, it is absolutely flabbergasting that I would choose to go to the very same, central sledding location.  Unthinkable!

Julia was a happy little sledder on her new Snow Tube:

Madeleine was a different story.  After taking one ride down on her Snow Tube and face-planting at the bottom of the hill, she was too afraid to take any further turns.  At one point, she requested that I take her to a less steep part of the hill, so we made our slow bumbling way across the sloping top of the field, occasionally colliding with other sledders on their way downhill, with Madeleine completely wiping out at least eight times as we walked together.  When we finally got to a milder part of the hill, and I tried to put Madeleine into her snow tube, she flat out refused to sled. 

ME: Honey, this is only partway down the hill.  It won't be steep.  Let me push you down.
MADELEINE: (freaking out) No!  No!  I'm NEVER EVER going down AGAIN!
ME: So what do you want to do?
MADELEINE: (silence)
ME: So you just want to forget about sledding and go walk back up the hill to Julia?

So then we had the fun of scaling the hill and walking across the same sloped top of the field, once again wiping out repeatedly and colliding with oncoming sledders, until we were back to our original spot.  Julia had patiently waited for us all that time, only to have it be a completely fruitless waste of time.

Julia, at least, had a fun time at the sledding hill.  And when I asked Madeleine how her time had been, she gave me a thumbs-sideways, which is WAY better than the thumbs-down she has been giving while sick over the past few days.  So maybe, just maybe, her spirits and health are on the mend!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Still Germy

I do believe that Ethan and I jinxed ourselves over the MLK weekend when we both lamented about how lovely it had been to have a long weekend at home and how we wished every weekend could be that way.

Because, lucky us, we got to extend this past weekend as well, with all four Rowes home together today, sick from work and school.

Julia and I are back on two feet, at least, although we're both still coughing pretty severely (in fact, my entire rib cage area feels bruised from the violent bouts of coughing I've been having.  At this point I would rather asphyxiate in my own chest mucus than have to heave my muscles with another coughing spasm.)

This picture basically sums up how Madeleine and Ethan are doing:

It's a definite thumbs-down for both of them.  My poor babies.

At least at this point, since we've all been infected, we're no longer going through such rigor to contain our germs.  No more insistent purell-ing, no more going into isolated quarters to release a coughing fit.  Now we're all just coughing and sneezing in each other's faces and snuggling our fever-laden children with our cheeks pressed up against their snot-covered cheeks. 

I am hoping and praying that the household will be well before too long, because this has truly been the pits.  But hey, at least we have 2-3 feet of snow coming in overnight through Wednesday, so we have that to look forward to, right??

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Germ House

The past few days have been rough-going in the Rowe household.  As I have mentioned, first I came down with some sort of flu-like illness, and within the next 24 hours Ethan was down for the count.

To add to all this fun, we got hit with a snowstorm yesterday, which meant Ethan and I were out shovelling the driveway with our bronchial coughs and aching muscles, making us feel even MORE awesome.

The Rowes are dropping like flies here, folks.  Within the past day, both Julia and Madeleine have come down with the virus, and both are now in bed with fevers and coughs. 

Now, although the girls are both sick with the same illness, they are not necessarily responding to it the same way.  I have noticed in the past that Julia and Madeleine have very different sick personalities, not just with this flu, but with all sickness.  For example, Julia and Madeleine are TOTALLY different pukers.  Julia is an extremely panicked puker, exploding with vomit all over the place even as she anxiously fights to prevent the expulsion.  Madeleine, on the other hand, is completely resigned to her plight, and will simply open her mouth and languidly let the vomit pour out into a pile in her lap.

The same can be said for their fever personalities.  Julia needed me to come and lay in bed with her while she convulsed with chills, unable to get settled into a comfortable position, continually clutching at me as if wanting to exorcise her fever through contact with me.  Madeleine, meanwhile, lay in a sluggish heap on the couch with the blanket bundled around her, responding with a weary thumbs-down signal when asked how she was doing.

And I must say, both displays of misery are simply breaking my heart.  I have spent much of the morning going back and forth between the girls, cuddling them, giving them medicine, and trying to comfort them.  And it's hard to do this, because they both want me full-time.

JULIA: Mommy?  Can you stay with me FOREVER? 

MADELEINE: Stay whole time.  Stay whole time nappy-bappy.

(Yes, even in their expressions of mommy-need they have their own personalities.)

The kids definitely feel rotten, and I don't blame them for acting miserable about it.  However, I do take issue with ONE comment of Madeleine's, in which she attempted to convince me that her sickness was more severe than mine had been.

MADELEINE: (looking at me gravely) Mama?  Do you know that my cold is even WORSER than your cold?  Because Mama.  Here's the thing that *I* have that you didn't even have: the HICCUPS.

I mean, having the hiccups stinks and all, but they're just an unfortunate coincidence with the cold, not a symptom of it.  Kind of like the fact that during my illness, I developed a cavity that is causing miserable shooting pain through my tooth every time I drink something cold.  But I won't argue with Madeleine here, because in her book, these hiccups really are adding insult to injury.

Julia has not attempted to compare her sickness to anyone else's, and has instead gone with a broad description of her discomfort.

JULIA: (miserably) I still feel stinky PLOP-PO.

These poor kiddos.

Live from the trenches, I'm Courtney Rowe, signing off.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Balloon Fun

The Rowe parents are sick as dogs with some sort of bronchial virus/flu, but at least the kids still have their energy!:

Who doesn't want to listen to that while trying to rest, right??

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Swim and Sickness

Though I've posted a lot about Julia's swimming this winter, I will note that Madeleine has been making strides herself in her swim lessons.  I finally got a video of her today as she worked on her front crawl.  She's the swimmer on the left side of the screen, making a bunch of panting noises as she returns to the wall:

While the girls are getting plenty of exercise with their swimming, I have spent most of the day in bed with a fever and cough.  When I emerged after hours of isolation to join the family at the dinner table, the kids had some completely non-sensical things to say to me.

BOTH GIRLS: Mommy! (coming towards me)
ME: Don't touch me, girls.  I'll all germy and I don't want to get you sick.
JULIA: But what if we WANT to touch you?
ME: Honey, I think I have the flu or something, so please don't come near my germs.
JULIA: Well Mommy?  You don't LOOK like someone who has the flu.  Mommy?  What does someone who has the flu LOOK like??

A few minutes later, as Madeleine gazed at me from across the table, she apparently saw something menacing in my sick-as-a-dog expression.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Why do I feel like you're going to KICK me and Julia??

Yes, that's exactly what I'm thinking of doing.  Seeing as a) I hardly have the energy to sit upright at the table, and b) I am holding off hugging my beloved children in order to prevent passing my germs along to them, the logical conclusion is most certainly that I'm about to kick them.  Madeleine is spot-on once again.

I guess I finally got the point across about my germs, because Madeleine went from one extreme to the other in terms of wanting to touch me.

MADELEINE: Mama?  What if you're still sick in the morning and you have even MORE germs?  Then I won't even be able to come out of my ROOM.

All right.  Quarantine for everybody.  That's the answer, for sure.

Sigh.  Hoping that I have not infected anyone else in the family and that I am soon on the mend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Poopy Tales

I was quickly abandoned by my dinner table companions this evening.

ME: Julia, finish up your dinner so you have time to digest before swim team.
JULIA: Uh, Mom?  I have to POOP.
ME: Okay.  Go ahead then.
JULIA: (picking up the last handful of her pasta and white beans and shoveling it straight into her mouth) But what time is it?
ME: You have plenty of time to poop.  Go ahead.
JULIA: (racing off to the bathroom)

Five seconds later...

MADELEINE: Mama?  Even one teeny tiny little small dot of poop on your COULDN'T keep wearing them.
ME: That's right.  Because poop carries a LOT of germs.  (suddenly suspicious) Why?  Do you need to poop right now?
MADELEINE: Mmm...not TOO much.

Well, that's reassuring and doesn't make me worry that she's going to poop her pants again AT ALL.

ME: Why don't you just go try poop?  You'll have to go to the downstairs bathroom, because Julia is pooping in the upstairs one.
MADELEINE: (hopping around, eating one slow bite of pasta after another)
ME: Madeleine.  Go try poopies right now.  I don't want you to poop in your pants again because you hold it too long.
MADELEINE: Okay Mama.  (heading downstairs to use the basement bathroom.)

Ten seconds later...

MADELEINE: (from the basement bathroom) MAMAAA?
ME: (yelling down to her) YES?
ME: (running downstairs in mild dread) What are you saying honey?
MADELEINE: (still going on) Even a teeny tiny one past the universe and everything and heaven...
ME: Madeleine.  Did you get poopies in your underwear?
MADELEINE: Yes.  Uh--NO!  MAMAAA?  I thought you were gonna say "Did you get poopies in the POTTY."
ME: Well, good, I'm so proud of you for getting your poopies in the potty. (heading back upstairs to finish my dinner)
MADELEINE: (yelling from the basement bathroom) MAMAA?


At least we didn't have another case of poopy underwear.  That is a major victory at this point!

And BOY did she get poopies in the potty.  In fact, she even clogged the toilet, which is awesome.

MADELEINE: Ooh, a CLOG!  Mama, can *I* do the clog, because I LOVE doing the clog!
ME: No, you just need to wash your hands now.

Seriously, Madeleine?  I think she may be the only human being on earth who actively WANTS to plunge the toilet. 

Speaking of, it's time for me to go do that now.  FUN.  TIMES.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Madeleine Makes Music

After the long weekend, we were all a little sluggish this morning as we prepared to return to the grind.  Or, as Madeleine put it:

MADELEINE: I'm tired.  Cause Mama?  I learned this from SLEEPING:  When you wake up after you were sleeping, you're still TIRED.

Sheesh. This kid is so smart, she even learns while she's SLEEPING!!

Madeleine was apparently not too tired to make special gifts for everyone in the family, however.  She composed little "songs," which she wrote out on paper, complete with a distinctive drawing.  Each person's song was left in a particular place where the recipient would be most likely to find it.

For Julia, at her seat at the table where she does homework, sat this lovely song:

The song itself seems to consist of just two notes: C and G.  (Madeleine labels any line notes that are not C itself; therefore, an un-labeled line note will be C, or so she tells me.)  Not a super long song, but the picture sure intrigues me.  One frowny-faced girl and one smiling girl?  Are the two notes symbolic of the two girls?  Or is frowny-face sad because the song is too short, but smiley-face liked it that way??  Now I'm super curious.

Taped to the front doorknob for Ethan to find as he arrives home from work:

Ethan's song is a little longer: C E D.  (Non-line notes that are un-labeled are Ds, according to Madeleine.)  I'm not sure what the picture is trying to convey.  Is it Beethoven at the piano?  Or an anthropomorphic sun?  Or some sort of posessed evil demon?  Or is it perhaps a rendition of Ethan?  Hmmm.

Madeleine's song for me was given to me while I was practicing music, so I was able to play it right away!:

Now this is some FANCY stuff!  Staccato notes, plus a repeat sign??  My melody was E C D F G, then F G D with a repeat of those three notes.  Loving it.  I guess I didn't get a picture with this song, unless those floating eighth-notes/testicles at the top of the page are supposed to be a picture and not musical notes.

Madeleine even wrote a song for herself and left it on the piano:

Her song is one note only: C.
Of course she gave herself the easy song.  While I got stacattos and repeats and testicles and all that! 
I'm not sure what the floating serpent head with crazy curly hair is supposed to symbolize.  It's hanging sort of menacingly above that ginormous middle C.  Creepy.

At any rate, I appreciate Madeleine's desire to exercise both her artistic and musical creativity in order to present gifts to the people she loves the most: her WHOLE FAMILY!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Family Weekend

The long weekend allowed for some much-needed Rowe family togetherness.  Yesterday we had a family movie afternoon, complete with the lights out and popcorn.  We watched one of my favorite movies, "A Mighty Wind," which Julia had seen years ago but doesn't remember.  We've been listening to the soundtrack in the car lately, which made the kids curious about the back story, so we thought we'd show them the movie so they could better understand. 

Madeleine seemed largely oblivious to the story line and the humor, but Julia LOVED it.  She couldn't stop talking about the movie all night, and today she begged to watch it again.

This is how deeply influenced Julia was by the movie: she is now thinking about the "Mighty Wind" characters while she gallops.  So long, Mintz family!  There's a new group of people to fantasize about while galloping back and forth through the living room! 

Madeleine hasn't been nearly as obsessed, although she did try and tell me which of her characters was her favorite.  The CLUMPY one.  With orangish-brownish hair.  Who has a clumpy face.

Turns out she was referring to Michael McKean, who, at least in my opinion, has a face of completely normal, not excessive, amounts of clumpitude:

Meanwhile, in other family togetherness news, we had a game of family bowling this evening, during which BOTH children completely kicked my butt. 

Partway through our first game, Madeleine suddenly became wise to the fact that we were playing as a family.

MADELEINE: Hey!  Our whole FAMILY is playing bowling!
ME: I know.  That's why I asked if everyone wanted to play family bowling.
MADELEINE: But why is it "family bowling?"
ME: Madeleine.  You just pointed it out yourself.  The whole family is playing.  That's why it's family bowling.
MADELEINE: (perplexed) Well, not the WHOLE family.

ME: Well, it's the Rowe family.  Auntie Shannon's not playing, but she isn't part of the Rowe family.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Auntie Shannon is from the ELF family.  But...she lives with us.  Because...she doesn't HAVE a home.

As we lay in bed this evening, Madeleine became transfixed on the lyrics to one of the songs from "A Mighty Wind"; specifically, she wanted to understand what a "putt of gold" means.  After I explained that it's actually a "pot" of gold, and it refers to the myth of a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow, ready to bestow a pot of gold upon anyone who can follow him to the end, I then told her how in the song she was referring to, there is a kiss at the end of the rainbow instead, "more precious than a pot of gold."

ME: I think I would like a kiss from someone who I love way more than a pot of gold any day.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because I love my whole family WAY WAY more than a pot of gold. 
ME: I do too!
MADELEINE: Yeah.  I love you, and Daddy, and ESPECIALLY Julia.
ME: I'm glad that you love your sister so much. 
MADELEINE: Yeah.  I love Julia the BEST!  Then you.  Then Daddy.  Then Auntie Shannon.

Well, she just doesn't sugar coat anything, does she?  I guess I'm honored to have been rated second-best.  Don't feel bad that you're bottom billing, Auntie Shannon.  It's probably just because you're not part of the Rowe family and you don't have a home.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Potty Reversion

Wednesday night, Madeleine had her first potty accident in a LONG time.  And oh, what an accident it was. 

It just figures that the ONE night I brought her along to Julia's swim team practice, in order to allow Ethan some quiet time at home, Madeleine unabashedly pooped her pants. 

I didn't really know what to do, since I didn't have a change of clothes, so I wound up cleaning her up with wet paper towels, chucking her underwear in the trash, and putting her pants back on. 

Little did I know what sort of an example I had set.

Yesterday morning, I noticed a weird smell in the play basement, but couldn't identify its source.  Our oil tank had just been filled that morning, which lent a burned-fuel smell to the basement, so I wondered if that was just giving a funky aroma to everything in its vicinity.

Fast forward through the day: Madeleine and I had gone to a Y in Boston for a pool party celebrating one of her preschool friend's birthdays, and upon returning home, we had our friends Neva, Nate and Anja over for dinner.  After all the kids had eaten pizza and returned to the basement to play, the adults sat around with drinks and chatted. 

About an hour later, we headed downstairs to check on the kids, and this time the stench was unmistakable.  The entire basement smelled like a dirty diaper.  Even the kids noticed it. 

Let me point out that it apparently did not cross Madeleine's mind AT ALL to speak up.

We found the source of the smell in the downstairs bathroom.  In its garbage sat not one but TWO pairs of poopy underwear.  One was only mildly smeared, while the second (and newer) pair were decorated with a big old mound of poop.

What happened, you may ask??  I'm still not totally sure myself, but from what I gather, Madeleine had decided to deal with the problem herself and chuck the undies and do her own wiping. 

How good of a job did she do in wiping?  Well, when I brought her upstairs to the bathtub, she had two big brown buttcheeks, crusted over because the poop had dried on. 


Interrogation got me no further towards understanding WHAT ON EARTH possessed her to chuck her underwear and not tell ANYONE.

ME: Madeleine, WHY did you throw your underwear in the garbage?!?
MADELEINE: Me no no!
ME: I don't want to hear the baby talk.  I want to understand.  Why didn't you just TELL me that you had pooped and you needed help?
MADELEINE: Because...I thought that if I told you I had poop in my underwear, you'd go (assuming an aggravated expression) "Jeeeeez."

Ah. I see.  Madeleine didn't want to aggravate me by letting me know she had poop-stained her underwear, so she did the logical thing by just chucking the evidence in an open garbage can and STINKING UP THE ENTIRE BOTTOM FLOOR OF THE HOUSE.

I still don't quite know when underwear pair #1 was clandestinely thrown in the garbage.  Madeleine herself isn't sure.  It could have been the previous night, or that very morning, she says.  She no no.

At any rate, let's hope that was the end of the underwear pooping and tossing.  Otherwise next time, as our friend Neva suggested, Madeleine gets to wash her OWN poopy underwear in the bathtub for us.

All I can say is: Madeleine most definitely can not be a grown up with babies of her own while she's still pooping her pants, so maybe that will provide some incentive to get her poop into the potty from now on!

Friday, January 16, 2015

School Papers by Julia

Julia recently brought home a pile of writing work from school. 

Among the papers was this very sweet letter of appreciation:

"Dear Mommy and Daddy,

You are good at teaching me music.  Mommy, you make me better at piano, and make me love piano and Daddy, you are good at teaching me to match the beat in songs.  Lots of love,

Julia Rowe."

This just melted my heart.  Although you've got to admit that "Julia Rowe" is kind of a formal sign-off for a letter to mom and dad, no??

Julia has also proven that she may look just like her daddy, but she has her mommy's preferences in life!  Her history of favorite colors green, pink and tropical violet have now led to a new current favorite:

"My favorite color is light blue because it is the color if the sky, it is the color of the ocen and it is bright.  Because it is my mom's favorite color.  It seems happy.  It reminds me of butiful days.  And great weather.  And it is a butiful color.  And it reminds me of my swim team bathing suit."

I feel ya, Julia!  In fact, during the winter doldrums, I find myself googling image after image of places like Fiji, surrounded by butiful bright blue ocen, just to live vicariously for a few minutes in the great weather.  I am most definitely longing for the color of the sky to be blue right now and for some bright blue ocan surrounding me. 

Turns out the love of warm weather is something else Julia and I have in common:

"Summer is my favorite season because I like to go on vacaiton.  Because I like to have barbiques with my friends when it is hot out.  I like summer because I like to swim at the pool.  Because I like to play outside.  Because it is hot out.  Because I like to ride my bike.  Because I like to play in my house.  Because I like to play in the sprinkler.  Because I like to go to the Cape.  Because I like to eat ice cream and frozen yougort and to see the fireworks on the fourth of July.  That iw why summer is my favorite season."

Right on, Julia.  Let's go on vacaiton RIGHT NOW, to somewhere with butiful blue skies and a butiful blue ocen! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Madeleine's Future

Madeleine often talks about wanting to be a grown-up so she can have babies, but she has been particularly obsessed with this topic over the past couple of days.  She brought up the subject again as we sat around the breakfast table this morning.

MADELEINE: Mama?  When I grow up, I'm still gonna live here. would be REALLY cute to have two MORE babies here.  (thoughtful silence) Mama?  Will I still be cute when I'm a grown-up?
ME: Yes.  And you can live here as long as you want.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Besides, Mama.  If I was building my own house...I would have NO idea how to use a ladder.

Yeah, that's as good a reason as any to continue living with your parents even when you're a grown-up with babies.  If you can't use a ladder to build your own house, you might as well just accept that homelessness is your only option.

Madeleine once again turned the topic to babies when I picked her up from the baby-sitting room at the Y.  It just so happened that things had quieted down by the time I finished my workout, so that there were only three children in the room with four staff members.  The children were comprised of a baby who was sleeping, a little girl toddling around, and Madeleine.

Therefore, Madeleine's voice rang out clear as a bell as she started interrogating me about babies.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I wanna be a grown-up, because I really want to start having BABIES.
ME: (quietly) Yeah, babies are cute.
MADELEINE: (loudly) But Mama?  When can you start HAVING babies?
ME: (even more quietly) Uh, not 'til you're older.
MADELEINE: (loudly) But Mama?  Is it EASY to have babies get in your tummy?
ME: (nearly inaudibly) For some people.
MADELEINE: (loudly) But MAMA?  Was it easy for YOU?
ME: (practically whispering) Uh, not really.  (normal voice) Okay, here's your coat.  Let's get going!
MADELEINE: (loudly) But MAMA.  Why "NOT REALLY" for you?  Why was it NOT REALLY EASY for YOU to have BABIES?
ME: (pulling open the door and hurriedly leading Madeleine out of the baby-sitting room.)

When we got home from the Y, Madeleine practiced honing her grown-up skills by getting her own lunch prepared, complete with washing an apple for herself AND for me.  I would certainly take more grown-up independent actions from Madeleine, though I could do without the grand-children at this stage of the game.  Madeleine is definitely gung-ho in her desire to start producing, however.

ME: Madeleine, what makes you feel like you want to have babies so much?
MADELEINE: Because then the whole house would be CUTE.  (dreamily) I can JUUUST imagine it.  Little babies running around EVERYWHERE.

Yikes.  It sounds like Madeleine's ideal world would be a combination of "16 5 and Pregnant" and "Jon and Kate Madeleine Plus Eight."  I'm not sure we're ready for a house full of babies, no matter HOW cute the house would then become.

At least Madeleine's OTHER current obsession is much more child-appropriate.  She is fixated on taking a trip to the toy store, because on our LAST trip to the toy store (which was just on Sunday), she picked a toy that she doesn't actually like.  Not that I hadn't tried to dissuade her from buying it in lieu of something better. 

ME: Madeleine, look at these cute little baby animal figurines.  Do you want to get these?
MADELEINE: Uh, no thanks.  Mama.  I think I picked my DECISION.  I want to get this! (pointing at a password-protected plastic jewelry box.)
ME: Are you sure that's the toy you want to get most of all?
MADELEINE: (with utmost confidence) I'm sure.

Then we got home and Madeleine discovered that she can't actually figure out how to work the latch on the jewelry box after entering her password, so even though she types in her password correctly, she still can't get the box open.  In other words, the toy was a big bust.  And now Madeleine is determined to go back to the toy store to get something different. 

It doesn't matter that I've told her repeatedly that we're not taking another toy store trip any time soon.  Madeleine can't stop her mind from fantasizing about what new toys she's going to get.  To be specific, she's planning on buying a Merida Lego Friends set and a stuffed puppy dog beanie baby.

Last night at bedtime, Madeleine had a great solution to her conundrum.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I've got a GREAT idea!  For Valentimes Day, you can get me the Merida Legos and the puppy dog!
ME: Well, Valentine's Day is more a holiday for giving things like candy and cards, not toys.

Madeleine was heartily disappointed by my statement, but she is apparently holding out hope.  After about fifteen minutes of silence, during which I assumed Madeleine had fallen asleep, she piped up once again.

MADELEINE: Mama?  For Valentime's Day, do you WRAP the presents like you do for Christmas?
ME: No.
MADELEINE: (broken-hearted silence)

Maybe THAT'S the real reason why Madeleine is so desperate to become a grown-up.  Then she can take her own self to the toy store and buy her coveted items without needing my permission.

Although with a house full of babies running all around, I doubt Madeleine will have much time for personal recreation with her new toys.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Say What?

Actual things that have been uttered, in completely seriousness, around the Rowe household today.

MADELEINE: So Mama, do you want to be in front or in back?
ME: Honey, go sit down.  You need to drink your milk.  We're not doing a conga line right now.
MADELEINE: (crest-fallen)

MADELEINE: (admiring her hardened clay snowman that she made at school) Mama.  When I look at my snowman, he looks SO delicious, I just want to EAT him.
ME: You can't eat him though, honey.
MADELEINE: But Mama.  He's made of DOUGH. The teachers said.
ME: Not the kind of dough you can really eat. 
MADELEINE:  Actually.  Mama.  It wasn't DOUGH.  It was...
ME: Clay?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Oh!  Yes!  It's made of CLAY.
ME: Yeah, you definitely can't eat clay. It wouldn't be good for you.
MADELEINE: (crest-fallen)

MADELEINE: Mama!  This is for you.  I made this picture for you at school!  And Mama. Will you look at it RIGHT NOW?
ME: Sure.  (Unrolling the piece of paper to look at this):
ME: Oooh!  It's beautiful!
MADELEINE: (delighted) It's Elsa POOPING!
ME: Oh.  Great.
MADELEINE: Oh, and Mama?  On the picture, smell the poop.
ME: Mmm.  It smells good.
MADELEINE: Yup.  Smells like gingerbread!

MADELEINE: I'm gonna put you riiiight here so I can hold the remotes.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: I was talking to the apple.
ME: Oh.  Sorry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Madeleine's Code Language

Madeleine is the queen of taking up a ton of unnecessary time concocting code words and sign language to convey something that otherwise would require only a quick response.  Some past examples include, for those who may not remember:

ME: (calling into the bathroom) Madeleine, are you done pooping yet?
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama?  "Paper paper" means I'm done!
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: Paper paaaper!


ME: (laying out two dresses) Madeleine, which dress do you want to wear, this one or this one?
MADELEINE: Uh, Mama?  I will FLOMP onto the dress that I want to wear.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: (studying both dresses, then full-body leaping on top of one of them)

Last night was a real Madeleine-special, as I encouragingly gathered up bites of broccoli (which she, at long last, is willing to eat) onto her fork.

ME: (holding out another forkful towards Madeleine)
MADELEINE: I'm still chewing.  Mama.  This means- (putting her hand into a fist and holding up her thumb and pinky) Wait, Mama... (putting up a third finger along with the thumb and pinky) Mama.  This means...wait, Mama... (holding up all five fingers as if expecting a high five) Okay Mama.  THIS means...wait, Mama... (waving her hand back and forth) Mama.  THIS means "I'm ready."  So Mama.  (waving her hand at me.)
ME: (handing the fork to her)

And just think.  If she had just swallowed what she had been chewing and accepted the next forkful, she could have eaten her next bite SO much more easily.  But that's just not how Madeleine rolls, folks.

Now, it would be one thing if we had a pre-established sign language gesture so that Madeleine could simply signal to me when she's done chewing.  In that case, she wouldn't actually DELAY her chewing process in order to tell me repeatedly what series of hand gestures she's changing her mind on, and she could give me the sign and I could hand her the fork.  Done.  Simple.

Unfortunately, next time around I already know it won't be the same as last night's sign.  Madeleine is ALL FOR mixing it up.  One day the signal is "newspaper" and the next day it's "leaf."  (I speak from true life experience.)  Constant change-ups occur in Madeleine's world of code.  And I can totally see why.  Life would sure get boring and predictable if it was all "paper paper" all the time.  We need to spice things up with some variety!  That way, no one will ever really know what Madeleine is talking about.  It keeps us on our toes!

"Paper paper" means this blog post is done.

Paper paper.

Monday, January 12, 2015


One of Julia's homework assignments tonight was to fill in six circles, each with a word describing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was more challenging for her to come up with these words than I had expected.

CIRCLE NUMBER ONE: helpful to the world
JULIA: So Mommy?  Should I write "helpful," because he was trying to HELP people with different skin get to do the same things as everyone?
ME: Uh, could say he was helpful.  He did help change the world.
JULIA: Okay, I'll write "helpful to the world."



CIRCLE NUMBER FOUR: Peace-loveing man Kind
ME: Peace-loving man?  Why don't you just write "peaceful?"  Because you already wrote "loving" right up above.
JULIA: No, I already DID "peaceful" in the second circle!
ME: Oh.  Then I'd just erase that and try to come up with a different word.  Because you're sort of repeating what you already wrote.
JULIA: Ooookaaaaay...I'm not really sure what other words I should write.  Should I, he changed the WORLD?
ME: Well, he did change the world.  Can you think of a word that describes that?  Do you know what the word "inspirational" means?
JULIA: No.  What does it mean?
ME: Well, never mind, if you're not sure what it means let's think of a word you DO know.  But inspirational means that you make people want to follow your teaching and your ideas. 
JULIA: Uh...should I put "kind?"
ME: Sure.

JULIA: Mom?  What's the word for people who don't like GUNS again?  Democrats?
ME: Uh, no, uh, I'd say "non-violent."
JULIA: Oh.  Okay.

CIRCLE NUMBER SIX: Hero to the World
JULIA: Mom?  What else should I say?
ME: Well, what other words come to mind?
JULIA: Like, he helped change things?
ME: So, would you say he was sort of a hero?
JULIA: Oh!  Yeah!

Some time after Julia had finished her homework, she came upon a great word that she had neglected to use.

JULIA: (while galloping through the living room) Oh!  I meant to write "BRAVE!"

CIRCLE NUMBER FOUR: Peace-loveing man  Kind  Brave

And with that, our homework for the night is finally complete. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fun in the Choir Loft

Church choir was interesting today, since there was no Sunday School and I had my little buddies up in the loft with me:

Madeleine spent most of the time drawing with a pen on the back of various papers that I was able to spare. She even made a list of words she knows how to spell, such as "on" and "no" and "go."  Attempting to sound out a word, she whispered to me, as I was singing, "Mama?  Is 'look' with a C or a K?" After I responded with a "k," Madeleine set out spelling the word look: "LK."


Madeleine's grand masterpiece was this detail-filled drawing:

(Julia's collaboration went as far as writing her own and Madeleine's names.)

ME: (pointing to the beatific smiling figure on the left of the rainbow) Madeleine, is that Jesus?
MADELEINE: (brightly) Yes!
ME: (pointing to the beatific smiling figure on the right of the rainbow) And who's this?
MADELEINE: Uh, TWO JESUSES!  Two Jesus dolls!  They're BOTH Jesus dolls!

Ahh, it's Jeezy!  Now I see.  She even drew the stitched-on beard.  Bears quite a close resemblance, I'd say!

Jeezy in the flesh.  I mean cloth.

Julia spent her time singing along with the choir, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize that she knows the music pretty thoroughly, all from having heard it from down in the Sunday School pew every week.  We seem to have a budding young chorister in our midst!

Julia also surprised me by reciting the Creed from memory, something I hadn't known that SHE knows.  Not that she necessarily understands some of the complicated words she's saying.

JULIA: (reciting) In one holy, catholic and apostolic church... Mom?  Is an "apostolic church" the kind of church Daddy sings at?
ME: Uh...well, it's a Congregational Church, but there is such thing as an Episcopal church.  Is that what you were thinking of?
JULIA: Oh!  Yeah.
ME: Yeah, that's a different thing from "apostolic."  Apostolic means believing the words of Jesus' apostles.

Seeing as earlier in the service Julia had pointed at the word "Epistle" in my choir book and asked if it said "apostle," I can only imagine how confused she must have been feeling.

Madeleine joined in a few of the choir responses herself, only causing a momentary distraction when she attempted to lean on my music stand, lost her balance, toppled forward off the riser step and bonked her chin into the tray of the stand.  Don't worry, she only repeated that accident ONE MORE TIME later in the service, so all in all she didn't attract any attention.  (In reality, I couldn't have asked for better behavior from both girls up in the loft.  Thank goodness Madeleine loves to draw.)

During the priest's sermon, Madeleine had obviously caught the singing bug from her foray into the choir, because she decided to sing a song from "My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks" the entire time that the priest was speaking.  (Either that, or she was having a divine moment and singing with the Holy Spirit inside her.)  Whatever the cause, she was totally feeling the music and she just HAD to share it.

Madeleine continued her singing, this time singing a made-up song, as she sat at the table eating her lunch getting distracted by her new Snowy Owl Beanie Baby.  When Auntie Shannon walked through the room and joined in the strain of the song that Madeleine was repeating over and over again, things came to a sudden halt.

MADELEINE: Uh, no, you can't sing along with me, because you're not very good at doing a British ACCENT.

Wow.  Madeleine sets the bar high as choral director.

At any rate, it was a fun morning for all of us; I enjoyed having my little singing buddies with me, Julia was beaming with pride at knowing all the words and melodies to the liturgical music, and Madeleine got to draw pictures instead of sitting still, so it was a win for all of us!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Morning Delays

It's one of those days, all right.

These are the kind of impediments that have kept anything from happening in a timely matter.

MADELEINE: (coming into my bedroom upon waking up, wiggling around doing the potty dance) Mama?
ME: Do you need to go potty?
MADELEINE: Yes! I do!  That's why I was wiggling around so much when I was brushing my teeth!
ME: Okay, well go potty then!
MADELEINE: (continuing to wiggle) Uh, Mama, just to tell you: I asked Lilly...uh, Mama.  Just to tell you: I...I...I-
ME: Go potty, honey.
MADELEINE: Mama.  Just to tell you: I asked Lilly about a sleepover, and she said she's FINE with it.
ME: Okay, well maybe one day when you're bigger you can have a friend sleep over.  Now quick, go potty!
MADELEINE: And Mama?  Maybe one time we can have a party and me and Julia can BOTH have friends sleep over!
ME: Yeah, maybe.  Go get on that potty!
MADELEINE: (holding up two fingers) And we can each have THREE friends sleep over!
ME: Okay!  It's a plan.  Go potty, honey!
MADELEINE: (slowly walking backwards towards the bathroom, then halting) Wait.  Mama.  Why did I only hold up TWO fingers if I said THREE friends?!?
ME: I don't know, but go get your bum on that potty!

So, if it took that much effort just to get the morning peeing done with, you can imagine how hard it was to get the kids out the door.

ME: Julia, come on, we have to leave for school.
JULIA: But Mommy!  I don't even have SOCKS on!
ME: Well, go get some.  Quickly.
JULIA: Mommy, how come you didn't pick me out any SOCKS?
ME: Well, aren't you old enough to pick your own socks?
JULIA: But MOMMY!  You never pick out socks for me!  How come you never pick them OUT?
ME: Because I'm a terrible mom, I guess.
MADELEINE: (concerned) You're NOT a terrible mom!  (crawling over to climb in my lap, hindering me from continuing to gather Julia's school stuff.)
JULIA: (coming back with her socks, and sitting morosely by the shoe bin.)  Mommy, what SHOES should I wear?
ME: Whichever ones you want, honey.
JULIA: But I don't KNOW which ones to wear!  I *can't* wear my boots with these kinds of PANTS you picked out for me.
ME: Sure you can. They're called boot-leg pants, which means there's room to fit them over your boots.
JULIA: But I don't LIKE wearing my pants OVER my boots.  I like tucking them IN to my boots.
ME: Okay, then wear your sneakers.
JULIA: But I don't WANT to wear my sneakers.
ME: So wear your boots.
JULIA: I *can't.*
ME: Honey, just pick a pair of shoes and put them on.
JULIA: (morosely and veeeery slowly putting on her sneakers.)
ME: Okay, come on, let's go!
JULIA: WAIT!  Mommy!  I don't even have my hat and gloves on!
ME: Honey, I'm driving you, because it's -2 degrees.
JULIA: But I NEED my hat and gloves!
ME: You can put them on in the car.
JULIA: But Mommy!  Why did you not get my hat and gloves out??  You ALWAYS get them out for me.
ME: Julia.  I'm trying to make sure I don't get you to school late.  Can we just get into the car?
JULIA: (putting on her coat as slowly as possible, all the while looking as if she's being unfairly punished)

Luckily, we actually made it on time, no thanks to either kid.  I think we're still living in winter vacation mode right now, and we need to re-adjust to the idea of actually needing to be somewhere in the mornings.

As I mentioned above, it is literally freezing today.  The temperatures have now bumped themselves up to a comfy six degrees, so we're all in great moods over here!  Last night, when Auntie Shannon got home from work, she immediately announced: "I'm moving to Florida."

I was on my way out to Julia's swim team practice, and I offered Madeleine the option to stay home with Auntie Shannon instead of tagging along.

MADELEINE: But Auntie Shannon? Can you NOT go to Florida until after Mommy gets back?

I vote that we all move to Florida.  Right now.  Enough with winter!  Enough with failing my daughter miserably by not taking her hat and gloves out for her!  Enough with picking out pants that cause the conundrum over what shoes to wear.  It's going to be flip flops and sunglasses from here on out!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Julia is full of little verbal practical jokes lately, like this one:

JULIA: Madeleine, what's under there?
JULIA: Ha ha!  You said underwear!

And she doesn't allow Madeleine the satisfaction at getting back at her.

MADELEINE: Julia?  What's under there?
MADELEINE: No!  JULIA!  You're supposed to say "UNDER WHERE?"
JULIA: Madeleine, you just said underwear again!

Madeleine is so desperate to be the tricky one that she instead decided to try and stump ME today.

MADELEINE: Mama.  I'm thinking of someone that's a girl. 
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: And I won't say who it is!
ME: Okay. (silently assuming that Madeleine is thinking of Auntie Shannon's chihuahua, Clara.)
MADELEINE: And Mama.  She's just SO CUTE.  And she has the BIGGEST EYES.  And she's so LITTLE.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: And Mama.  I like to scratch her head like THIS (scratching her own head and undoing a chunk of her braid in the process)
ME: Is is it Clara?
MADELEINE: (becoming more and more frantic) Uh, Mama, uh, can you NOT guess CLARA?  Mama, pretend you didn't GUESS Clara!
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: (smiling with twinkly-eyed glee) Okay, Mama, I'll tell you who it is.  It's CLARA!
ME: (gasp) It is?!?!?

I guess Madeleine has to take her victories where she can get them, right?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to the Grind

Today the kids went back to school, and it proved to be a little confusing for one of them.

As I was driving home with Madeleine after pick-up, we had this conversation.

ME: So how was school?  Was it fun?
MADELEINE: Yes.  And Mama?  I was really, REALLY paying really good attention to where you were driving, because I'm not sure what a New YEAR is.
ME: What do you mean?
MADELEINE: Well, YOU said that when it's NEXT YEAR, I'll go to KINDERGARTEN.  So I didn't know I was going to kindergarten.

This poor kid.  It's so hard to understand.  At first, I had told her you have to be five to go to kindergarten, so after her birthday in October, Madeleine expected to be attending kindergarten.  So then I told her that the next time it's September and she's five, she'll be going to kindergarten.  However, in between her birthday and January, I have referred to "next year" as the time at which she will be finally going to Julia's school.  I guess I should have explained that when it's next year AND she's five AND it's September, then she will actually be going to kindergarten.

Now, although it's the New Year, Madeleine seems very reluctant to give up Christmas.  In fact, she got her hands on the little artificial tree of Auntie Shannon's that had been lying in a pile of items to be put in our attic.  Next thing I knew, Madeleine was putting on a Grand Ol' Christmas Show!:

I guess I'm not surprised that Christmas is still on her mind, seeing as Madeleine has been asking questions about Santa on a daily basis.  Why did Santa only leave one present under the tree and it was for JULIA?  This, in fact, caused tears:  Madeleine was completely dismissive of the PILES AND PILES of presents under the tree that didn't explicitly say "From Santa," or from anyone, which is my way of keeping mystery alive while not outright lying about who the presents are from.  The one present that did say "From Santa" was a gift from Julia's best friend, which was completely identical to a gift from Julia's best friend's SISTER to Madeleine, but because Julia's said "From Santa" the kids believed it rather than seeing the very obvious tie between the two presents.  So Madeleine now believes that because Santa signed his name on that one present, it is, in fact, the ONLY present that he himself delivered.  And he gave it to Julia.  Nothing for Madeleine.  Let's definitely cry about that, right?

Furthermore, Madeleine has asked me multiple times about the verity of the whole Santa thing.  The other night at bedtime this came up yet again.

MADELEINE: Mama?  Is Santa real?
ME: Well, what do you think? 
(This is my standard answer to the kids when they ask about Santa, since, as I mentioned above, I don't want to outright lie.)
MADELEINE: I don't know.  Is he real?
ME: Well, do you think he is?
MADELEINE: I don't know, so Mama, can you just TELL me?
ME: Uh...well, maybe *I* don't even know...
MADELEINE: (adopting my same tone of voice) Well, Mama, what do YOU think?

I managed to side-step the subject that evening, but I have a feeling things are going to have to head in the direction of the Tooth Fairy if Madeleine persists with her interrogation techniques!! 

Hope all you readers are enjoying 2015 so far!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Julia Starts Another Book

It's no secret that Julia becomes heavily influenced and inspired by whatever book she is currently reading.  This inspiration usually results in the writing of a new book that is very closely related to whichever book Julia has just read.

Sometimes this similarity is extremely blatant, like when Julia was reading "The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes" and I stumbled upon a book she was writing called "The Extraordinary Days of Ophelia Mayes."

Sometimes it's not even a book that Julia herself is reading that motivates her to write a spin-off.  Madeleine received a book for Christmas that both girls have really enjoyed having read to them:

 The Day the Crayons Quit

For those unfamiliar with this book, its premise is that a little boy sits down to color at school one day and instead of crayons, he finds a stack of mail addressed to him.  Each piece of mail is a letter from a crayon of a particular color, detailing that crayon's frustrations and reasons for going on strike.  Some examples are the blue crayon (the boy's favorite) that has been whittled down to a stump, the pink crayon that is never used due to being a "girl" color, the black crayon who is tired of being used for outlining things while brigher, more beautiful colors get to fill the insides, and the neatnik purple crayon who can't handle being used out of the lines.  It's a pretty cute and clever book, and it obviously had a powerful impact on Julia, because when I went into her room to make her bed yesterday, I found this on her floor:

The Day the Markers Got Upset
by Julia Rowe

"One day, May found letters in her coloring book."

Hmm.  So far it starts out just like the crayon book.  Except for the fact that the main character is a girl and not a boy.

"May read them."
Dear May, 
I am upset.  I love being your favorite color, but you use me too much.  All my ink is running out!  Please don't use me so much. se some other colors!  Love, Pink Marker.

Yep.  So far this is a thinly veiled copy of "The Day the Crayons Quit." 

Dear May,
You only use me on boys because I'm blue.  And you hardly ever draw boys!  Will you pleas use me on girls?  I am upset.  Love, Blue Marker

Aha.  Okay.  I'm liking this twist, Jules. Instead of May refusing to use blue because it's a "boy color," May instead actually DOES use the blue, but only on boys.  My question is: what color does May make water?  Or the sky?  Or blueberries?  I'd be curious to see her drawings with yellow water and green skies and a bunch of blue alien-boys running around outside.

Dear May,
I am upset because you rush when you draw with me!  I am very neat!  And you should know that!  And coloring fast ruins my butiful color.  How would you feel about this?
Love, Red Marker

Well, Red Marker is apparently the OCD cousin to the purple crayon from "The Day The Crayons Quit."  I wonder if purple crayon feels like being used out of the lines ruins its butiful color as well.

Dear May,
You only use me on bears.  WHY BEARS?  Can't there be any other things you color me with?  WHY JUST BEARS?
Love, Brown Marker

Yeah, May.  WHY JUST BEARS??!?
Sheesh.  Brown Marker is having a MANGER existential crisis here.  May should just throw him a bone and color a piece of chocolate cake or a mound of dirt with him.  NOT JUST BEARS.

Dear May,
Why do you color peace sines with me when I told you I want you to color in pumpkins with me?  It isn't fair!  Really not fair!  Please stop!
Love, Orange Marker

Okay, markers.  Y'all need to CALM.  THE.  HECK.  DOWN.
Why should May be forced to confine herself to the standards of reality when she's coloring?  So what if boys don't really have blue skin and pumpkins should be orange and there are more things that are brown in the world than bears.  Maybe May WANTS to color purple pumpkins and gray pieces of chocolate cake and red skies.  Maybe this is a chance for her to EXPRESS HERSELF CREATIVELY and all y'all are just whiny little brats over here trying to make her fit the mold.  LET HER EXPLORE HER INNER FANTASIES, marker-folk.  OMG.  Stop complaining and let May color things the way she wants.  SHE'S the artist.  ALL Y'ALL are just the medium.

Dear May,
I am outraged!  You only draw rocks and toilets with me!  DRAW BIGGER THINGS!  If you don't I will exsplode!  I mean it!
Love, Gray Marker

Okay, Gray Marker.  Despite my rant up above, I'm pretty much with you here.  Rocks and toilets?  No one wants to be used for rocks and toilets.  In fact, I can't help but wonder why May chooses to draw toilets in the first place.  I mean, toilets?!?  No wonder she draws yellow water.  Or brown water.  Or any color water BUT blue.  As I said above, I'm all for creativity and all that, but...toilets??

Anyway, that's where Julia has left off for now, so we don't get to see what indignities purple, yellow, or black marker are suffering, but I promise that if May gets any more letters I'll report back to you soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Year

Well, 2015 is here and we are enjoying the first day of the New Year in the Rowe household.

Despite its being a new month and year, things are still pretty much the same around here.

Madeleine is still incessantly wearing her Olaf hat:

Julia is still thinking about the Mintz family (and has even started an American-girl like novel about them):

And every surface of the house is still covered with kiddie toys, books, and empty drink containers:

However, we do have one new and exciting development: our first fire in the fireplace ever!:

The kids had mixed reactions to this big first.  Julia appeared to forget all previous knowledge of everything:

ETHAN: Okay, listen up girls.  If you ever see smoke coming out from the fireplace into the living room, tell a grown-up right away.
JULIA: (in a panic) But what if there's NO GROWN-UP in the house with us?
ETHAN:  Julia.  When have you ever been left alone at home without a grown-up?
JULIA: Uh...
ETHAN: Also, if you see smoke coming into the living room, open a window.
JULIA: (in a panic) But I don't even KNOW how to open the windows!
ETHAN: Open the door then.

On the other hand, Madeleine became the wise old know-it-all about the fire.

ETHAN: You see the smoke there?  It's going up the chimney, which is where it's supposed to go.
MADELEINE: (with certainty) Daddy?  Another thing that smoke can be can be called is FOG, because smoke is really FOG.
ETHAN: No it isn't.

A few moments later:

MADELEINE: Wait a minute.  Did I just BURN my hand by the fire?
ETHAN: I don't see how that's possible, honey.  Your hand is not anywhere near the fire.
MADELEINE: (with certainty) Oh!  I just HIT my hand by accident, and when it HURT, I thought it was the FIRE burning it, but it was just my HAND hitting my other hand.

A few moments later:

ETHAN: (admiring the fire) Hey, that's pretty good now, isn't it?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  It's HUGE.  It's bigger than I even WANTED it to be.

Let's just put Madeleine in charge right now, folks.  She clearly knows what she's talking about on every subject.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2015!