Friday, July 31, 2015

Back Home

Well, we are back in the States, after a wonderful vacation and a very long car ride home.  The kids have mixed emotions about returning here.  Madeleine couldn't wait to get back to her regular life, where food is how she likes it and people speak English.  Julia was nearly in tears over leaving Montreal, and lamented, at a rest stop in New Hampshire, that it didn't feel right to hear everybody speaking English instead of French.

Speaking of French, Julia proudly announced to me that, because of this trip, she now knows 10 French words.  Here's her list:

1.) Bonjour
2.) Oui
3.) Non
4.) Maman
5.) Papa
6.) Julia (pronounced Dzyuliah)
7.) Madeleine (pronounced Mad-len)
8.) Merci
9.) Filet de poulet
10.) Doigts de poulet

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it doesn't count as a French vocab word if it's just her own, or her sister's, name, pronounced with a French accent.  But since both "filet de poulet" and "doights de poulet" are actually TWO words, they kind of make up for the two names in the mix. 

It's always a let-down to return home from vacation, but I think that we will all look back at this trip fondly, our first foray as a family outside of the U.S.  And for our proudly American Madeleine, we are celebrating our return by having Indian take-out for dinner!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Montreal Fun

I would like to thank Madeleine for a last-minute decision at La Ronde yesterday that made our entire evening.  As we prepared to depart the park, Ethan and I discussed plans to get off one subway stop before our usual one and find a new restaurant for dinner.

ME: Okay, come on, girls, we're gonna leave the park and go on the subway to get dinner!
MADELEINE: Okay!  I'm just gonna take ONE little splash in the water park!

And in she went, amongst the spraying fountains, delightedly getting herself wet and cool.  Next thing I knew, Julia was in as well, and before long, Ethan and I were enjoying the refreshing blast of cold water on our sweaty, hot, exhausted bodies.

And then the real craziness began.  Thanks to both Madeleine and Julia deciding to straddle the smaller fountains, waiting for them to spray upwards, we suddenly had two girls with sopping wet shorts, all the way down through their underwear.  The idea of wandering into a nice Montreal restaurant, soaking wet, looking like we had two kids who had been sitting in their own urine, was not very appealing.

So we went back to the hotel and ordered room service, eating on the floor in our cozy pajamas.  It was the BEST.  We were all nearly giddy with happiness, after a long day in the hot sun, to be comfy and dry and fed without having to even leave our hotel room.  The kids loved their meals, and Ethan and I both enjoyed savory fish and veggies and even a bottle of wine that we had ordered up.

MADELEINE: Daddy, why are you drinking wine?  You're not a GIRL!
ETHAN: Well, honey, it's not only girls who drink wine.
MADELEINE: Yeah, but boys drink beer, and girls DON'T drink beer.

I guess she is using the example of the two adults in our household as a representative statistic for all of humanity.

Speaking of wine and beer, Madeleine went on another singing spree today.  She took a break from endless loops of "Frere Jacques" and instead decided to sing her own version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."  She sang in the Biodome throughout our visit there, she sang on the subway home from the pool, she sang on the crowded elevator full of strangers at our hotel.

MADELEINE: (singing) Twenty-nine bottles of wine on the wall, twenty-nine bottles of wine...

I have no idea how she even knows that song.  I also don't know why she has opted to substitute wine for beer.  Maybe because she's a girl.  At any rate, apparently Julia knows the correct version (again, how?!?) because she was quick to chastise her sister.

JULIA: Madeleine, it's not ninety-nine bottles of WINE on the wall, it's ninety-nine bottles of BEER.

I'm sure we looked like parents of the year to the rest of the folks on the elevator.  Hopefully they only spoke French, and no English.

As I mentioned above, we spent a great morning at the Biodome, which is a combination of zoo, aquarium, and science museum:

We spent our afternoon at the Aquatic Complex, which was a wonderful way to end another hot day.  Can't believe it's our last night in Montreal!  A bientot!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Montreal, Day 3

We Rowes spent a fun-filled (but extremely hot and long) day at the amusement park La Ronde today.  On both the subway ride to and from the park, Madeleine entertained the entire train with her repeated loop-singing of "Frere Jacques." 

MADELEINE: Mama?  Is "Frere Jacques" French?
ME: Yes, it is.
MADELEINE: Oh, then that's PERFECT!

La Ronde was packed today, with kids from multiple camps, as well as lots of families enjoying a summer day.  However, we still managed to enjoy a bunch of different rides, including the flume, the wooden roller coaster called "Le Monster," the carousel, and lots of kiddie rides:

On another note, although our hotel doesn't have a good out-and-back hallway to gallop through, Julia has concocted a zig-zagging gallop path for her thinking time.  And in case you're wondering: yes, the Mintz are in Montreal as well.  Imagine that!  Furthermore, Julia has also imagined (though she insists this is NOT related to the Mintz) that the town of Needham took a vote on whether or not our town should "be like Montreal," in that it becomes bilingual.  Much to my Francophile relief, the result of the vote was a resounding yes!  If only in Julia's imagination, at least there is a dream world in which we all speak French!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More on Montreal


Now that I have a chance to sit down and write more, I will update you readers on the first few days of our trip.  Yesterday we spent most of the day at a place that is basically my personal paradise: the Jean Drapeau Aquatic Complex.  Despite the fact that Julia put on an especially pouty face as we made our way, via subway, to the pool complex, and Madeleine complained that we weren't going to the water park 45 minutes outside of Montreal, as both girls had wanted, the kids had an ABSOLUTE blast.

Granted, it was no water park, but instead of waiting in line for rides, the kids got to spend three whole hours submerged in the most perfect temperature of pool water, keeping cool in the near 90-degree day.  Julia was quick to admit she had been wrong in her assertion that the pool wouldn't be as good as the water park.  Not two minutes into our visit did she come running out of the pool to announce to me, "Mommy, you were RIGHT.  This pool IS really fun!"


Less successful, however, was an impromptu stroll through unknown streets of Montreal last night, looking for a grocery store that Ethan had located with his phone's gps.  We wound up on a street full of pubs, bars, and a very large strip club with neon lighting and brightly lit pictures of dancing women.

MADELEINE: Look!  The girls are FLYING!
ME: Yeah, let's not look at that.
JULIA: (guiltily) Uh, is it bad to see it, because I already looked at it by accident.
ME: It's not a big deal.  Let's just not look anymore.  It's kind of...
JULIA: Inappropriate?
ME: Right.

We decided to detour down a different road once we figured out we were going the wrong way and had to double back.

Today we visited the Botanical Gardens and the Insectarium, and we had plans to go through the adjacent Biodome as well, but the kids were so interested in the gardens that we wound up spending nearly the entire day there.  One of the highlights of the trip was playing in the Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre, part of the Chinese gardens, and making their own shadow puppets.  As the girls sat coloring their puppets at a table next to the theatre, (whereat a Chinese-American family took a turn with the shadow puppetry), Madeleine decided we simply weren't in Canada anymore.

MADELEINE: Mama, it really feels like we're in CHINA now.  I think we MUST be in China!
JULIA: (teasingly) We are in China, Madeleine.  We moved there.  We live in China now.
JULIA: Yes we do.  We just moved there.
MADELEINE: No, Julia, we DON'T live in China.  Besides, we don't even have BROWN SKIN!
ETHAN AND I: Okay.  Okay.  Shh.  That's enough.
JULIA: Madeleine, you don't have to have BROWN SKIN to live in China!
MADELEINE: And we don't even have BLACK HAIR!
ETHAN AND I: No more.  Shh.  Enough.  Inappropriate.

Our kids are always so classy.  We can really take them anywhere.

Julia was especially excited by the forest dedicated to the First Nations of Canada, given her obsession with Native American culture and history.  We made sure to get some pictures to remember our visit by:

And outside of the First Nations forest, here are some other pics from our day at the gardens:

A bientot!

Monday, July 27, 2015


Bonjour monde!  We Rowes are in Montreal for a family vacation, and so far we have enjoyed two delicious meals out and about in the city.  Of course, no experience with the Rowe children is without random comments and conversations.  Here is today's top pick:

MADELEINE: (in the middle of breakfast at a cafe this morning) Mama?  Sometimes when I'm eating, it goes up to my head.
ME: What goes up to your head?
MADELEINE: Like, my head feels WEIRD.
ME: Like you have a headache?
MADELEINE: No.  My head just feels weird.  Well, not my ORIGINAL head, but my FOREHEAD.

At any rate, we are off to explore the city, so a plus tard!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Art Camp Work

In an attempt to clean up a bunch of the clutter around our house today, I sorted through Madeleine's various projects and drawings from the Art Camp she partook in a few weeks back.  After getting Madeleine's permission to recycle some of her less beloved projects, I then began looking through the pile of free art drawings. 

Classic Madeleine at work:

Here we have a triumphant Elsa, standing radiantly underneath a very detailed purple eye and Elsa's grinning sister Anna.  Next to Elsa on one side is a happy pumpkin coach, which was evidently in some sort of accident or punch-out, seeing as the pumpkin has a black eye. (Not to mention the fact that the coach has been tipped over.)  One the other side of Elsa is just a murderous old BLACK JACK-O-LANTERN OF DOOM that is probably going to sneak into my bedroom and devour me tonight.

Oh, here is the beautiful "Elsua," who has apparently shaved her entire head save one lovely braided strand.  It's a very haute couture look for her.

And then we have this dazzling girl, with her sparkling emerald green eyes and her bigfoot hands with spiky colored claws. I think she might be ready to rip my throat out with those bad boys.

Another glamorous woman, although clearly Madeleine got frustrated with the fact that she couldn't fit her whole name in one line of the speech bubble, and promptly CROSSED IT OUT because if it can't be perfect, it simply can't be, period.

Aww, look at this sweet, pretty blonde princess with her tiny crown and her VAMPIRE FANGS.

A darling purple unicorn, surrounded by a birthday cake, some trees, a rainbow, a sun, and also some ominous looking black clouds and deadly red and blue lightning.

Another unicorn!  Or perhaps a giraffe-unicorn hybrid, given the length of the neck.  It seems that Madeleine is influenced by Julia's square-crotch style of drawing because this giraffacorn's got nary a curve in her body.

And yet another purple unicorn, about to fly smack into a dark black mountain peak.

Finally, we have this cute little girl holding a flower and standing under a rainbow.  Oh, and she happens to have purple hair and chicken feet.

I may have recycled some of the other art projects, but I think these adorably terrifying humans, unicorns, and aliens are definite keepers!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleepy People

We parents know that we're up way earlier than we want to be when we're awake before our young children. 

This morning, I even got chastised for it, because obviously all the fun must be happening when Ethan and I are stumbling around at the crack of dawn making our coffee and taking our showers.

JULIA: (accusingly) Mommy?  How come when I woke up to go pee and I checked the clock and it said 6:09, you and Daddy were ALREADY up?
ME: Uhhh...well, we had to get up.
JULIA: But why didn't you TELL me *I* could get up?

Awful, awful parents.  Letting our child, who didn't get to bed until after 9 last night, sleep until she naturally awoke.

In the case of Madeleine, I actually did have to gently encourage her awake, as we had places to be.  I crept into her room and the sound of her door opening was enough to make her eyes flutter open.

MADELEINE: Mama?  I think I did my LONGEST sleep!
ME: Oh yeah?  Are you still tired?  Would you like to sleep a little more?
MADELEINE: No thanks.  Besides, I think there were bombs in my dream.
ME: Oh, so it was a scary dream you were having?
MADELEINE: And Mama?  I think I like the Mickey Mouse with COLORS better than the Mickey Mouse that's black and gray and white.  Because...that Mickey Mouse sometimes doesn't even TALK.  I think because it's more from, like, the OLDEN days.

Yes, those olden days of the 1930s.  Not even 100 years ago, but I guess for a kid who has only known the 2000s, it's a pretty long time back.

At any rate, I think both kids could have benefit from much more sleep.  Julia had the "WORST DAY" of her LIFE because the vending machines at the pool were broken, therefore she had to wait until AFTER Madeleine's swim lesson to eat snack back at our house.  Madeleine had a screaming fit because Julia is NOT THE DOG TRAINER, and she's NOT ALLOWED TO BE A DOG TRAINER, because only MADELEINE CAN BE A DOG TRAINER (all this because Julia tried to help Clara the chihuahua up the stairs while Madeleine was changing out of her bathing suit.)  Seeing as tomorrow is the weekend, I will (hopefully) happily NOT be up and about at 6:09, so Julia can just get back in her cozy little bed after waking up to pee, knowing she's not missing out on ANY of the morning fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another Random Conversation

Today's prize for initiation of a completely random conversational topic goes to -- surprise, surprise -- Madeleine!

As we drove to the pool for her swim lesson, this is what we talked about:

MADELEINE: Mama?  It's not really very fun when you make a new friend, but...the friend is an ANIMAL so you can't TALK to each other.

Now on first hearing this, it did not seem random to me, seeing as we have had Auntie Shannon's chihuahua Clara visiting with us for the past few weeks.  But I soon learned how off-base I was.

ME: Oh yeah?  Are you thinking of Clara?
MADELEINE: No.  (thoughtful silence) I was just thinking of if we bought a HORSE.
ME: Oh.  Okay.
MADELEINE: And if you were looking at the horse and SMILING with your eyes really wide and FREAKY-looking, and the horse was RIGHT THERE over by your window.
ME: Hmm.  Okay.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because...sometimes I get BORED at home, and that's an ACTIVITY I can do.
ME: What's an activity?  You mean you can imagine you have a horse when you're bored?
MADELEINE: No.  Mama.  If we HAD a horse that would be an ACTIVITY that I could do.  Riding on a horse.

I just.  I don't even.  I cannot possibly imagine what it must be like to be inside Madeleine's brain.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Madeleine Has Questions

Madeleine has had a lot of questions about the origins of humans and life in the womb lately. 

A few days ago, we had this discussion:

MADELEINE: Mama?  What did I feel like BEFORE I was in your tummy?
ME: Uh...before you were in my tummy?  Well, you didn't feel like anything yet.
MADELEINE: No, Mama, BEFORE I was in your tummy, what did I FEEL like?
ME: You didn't feel like anything.  But when you were in my tummy I could feel you moving around.
MADELEINE: No, but Mama, what did I feel like before I was in your tummy?
ME: What do you mean?
MADELEINE: Like, what did I feel like before I was in your tummy?  Like, what did I feel like when JULIA was in your tummy?
ME: Well, before you were in my tummy, you didn't exist yet.  Can you believe there was ever a time when there was NO Madeleine?
MADELEINE: But Mama.  I still had FEELINGS.

She simply cannot imagine a world in which she does not take part.  Nuh-uh.  There wasn't anything before Madeleine was extant.  She's kind of like God: she has always been present, and has always had feelings, even before she manifested in human form.

Today, we had this conversation:

MADELEINE: (out of the blue) But Mama?  How CAN somebody be an orphan? orphan is still ALIVE.
ME: Well, an orphan is someone whose parents are dead.  But the orphan isn't dead. 
MADELEINE: But then why don't orphans know about how things are?
ME: Well, some orphans have to live in an orphanage, where there are lots and lots of kids without homes, and only a small number of grown-ups to take care of them.  Some kids in orphanages are treated really poorly.
MADELEINE: No, but Mama.  What I mean is: an orphan would still know what a FAMILY is.
ME: Well, some orphans do know, you're right.
MADELEINE: (after some serious thought) Well, Mama, I *guess* maybe an orphan WOULDN'T know what a family is if his mom and dad died BEFORE he got to LOOK at them.
ME: Uh, yeah, I guess that's true.
MADELEINE: And Mama?  How do you even MAKE a family?

Before I got roped into going down the "how babies are made" path I artfully changed the subject.  Because we have enough questions as it is.  We don't need to open that whole OTHER can of worms...yet.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Board Games

Julia's week at Harry Potter camp has come to an end, which undoubtedly means that Lilly Mintz is also finished with camp.  However, Julia is simply not ready for the Harry Potter fun to end.  Today she decided to re-create one of the projects from her camp: a Harry Potter board game.  She constructed her game at home, and due to the lack of poster board in the house, Julia instead opted to tape together pieces of printer paper.  Here is the finished board:

Looks fun, right?  But how do you play?  Luckily, Julia was diligent enough to write out instructions as well:

How to play
Roll the dice.  Go how many spaces you get.  If you land on a 'Good Luck' space, look at the block.  It will say to move forward 4 or 2 spaces.  If you land on a 'Filch' spot, look at the block.  It will say to go back 7 spaces.  If you land on the Honeydukes square, go forward 5 spaces.  If you land on Zonko's, go forward 4 spaces.  If you land on The Three Broomsticks, go forward 3 spaces.  If you land on The Hogshead, move forward 2.  If you land on all 4 spaces, you are in Gryfindor.  3, Ravenclaw.  2, Hufflepuff and 1 Slytherin.  You will be sorted when every player finishes.

Rather than borrow a pair of dice from any of our existing board games, Julia even made paper dice sides to use in this game:

You can rest assured that we Rowes will be trying this game out over the weekend, so we will all get a little piece of the Harry Potter action!

Madeleine, not to be left behind, made her own board game as well, with a theme based on HER week of art camp:

This game is called "Art Smarts," but you probably knew that already by Madeleine's label of "UR SMRRS" up top.  (For those of you who just aren't QUITE art smart enough, I was kind enough to translate from kindergarten spelling for you.)  Madeleine even labeled the "STORRTT" and "FINICH" of the game.  And in case you're unsure of how to actually play this game, Madeleine designed this handy-dandy illustrated set of instructions that will undeniably clear everything up:

Who's ready to play??!

Friday, July 17, 2015


There is a pair of identical twins on Julia's swim team this summer, which has led Julia to think a lot about twins.

JULIA: Mommy?  Are the girls on my team identical twins?
ME: Yes.
JULIA: And...I might be making this word up, so don't laugh at me...but is the kind of twins that are NOT identical called faternal?
ME: Fraternal, yes.
JULIA: Oh.  I thought it was FAternal.
ME: Well, that's really close.  Fraternal twins are when the mommy has two eggs that both develop into babies at the same time.  Identical twins are when there's one egg, and it somehow splits into two babies who have the exact same genes.  That's why identical twins look exactly alike.
JULIA: Well Mommy?  There's these other twins that look exactly alike except their noses are different.  So would they be identical?
ME: Well, identical twins can sometimes have features that aren't a perfect match.  Sometimes it depends on their environment.  One twin can be thinner, or-
JULIA: No, no, no, but Mommy, it's not something from their environment.  They're the same size, and they look exactly alike except their NOSES are different.  So would they be identical?
ME: Well, probably.  Even identical twins can have a slight difference in their facial features.
JULIA: Yeah, and maybe, like, one of them had her NOSE smashed up against their mommy's tummy when they were growing inside.
ME: Who are these twins?
JULIA: Their names are Madeleine and Carolina.
ME: And what do you know them from?
JULIA: They're friends with the Mintz.

Oh.   They're imaginary, just like the Mintz.  Well, in that case, Jules, they can even look COMPLETELY different and still be identical twins, because YOU MADE THEM UP and your imagination can do ANYTHING IT WANTS.  You don't need to fact-check with me about the details of your made-up inner world of non-existent people.

Also: I should have known these twins were Mintz-related.  Obviously, if Julia has made friends with identical twins, then the Mintz must have twin friends as well.  Duh. 

I wonder if Lilly Mintz fills her own mom in about the imaginary family SHE made up and thinks about while she gallops back and forth through the house.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More About Married Life

Apparently, Madeleine is *still* thinking about her married future.  This was the conversation she randomly initiated as we drove to the pool this morning:

MADELEINE: Mama?  There should be ANOTHER tradition for gettting married.  And that tradition should be: NEVER marry someone that SMOKES.
ME: Oh yeah?  That's a good plan.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Because of the children.
ME: Yes, it would not be good for the children to breathe in the smoke.
MADELEINE: But Mama?  If I get married, I'll be SO SCARED!
ME: What will you be scared of?
MADELEINE: Of not being able to have babies.
ME: Well, honey, you don't need to worry about that.  And did you know that even if people can't grow a baby in their own tummy, they can always adopt a child who needs a home.
MADELEINE: (thoughtful) Yeah.  And I'm SURE I would have the money to do that.  Because Mama.  I have lots and LOTS of dollars. And one of them was even from Easter!

Yes, the four dollars and change in her piggy bank is MORE than sufficient to pay for an adoption.  Though she's only 5, Madeleine has her future COVERED.

Julia's concerns lie elsewhere, as she is busy preparing for Dress Up Day at her Harry Potter camp.  She has been accumulating Hermione-like accessories all day long, over which she will be wearing her Hogwarts robe from a few Halloweens past.  Even clad in her bathing suit, as we walked to the car after swim team practice, Julia had her afternoon dress-up day on her mind.

JULIA: Mommy?  Lilly dressed up as Hermione but she kind of OVERDID it, because she put on the shirt with the tie and the skirt and then she put the robes over that, and she wore black knee socks that go to her knees, and she wore black dress shoes, and she brought a bunch of her Harry Potter stuff.

Because we have multiple friends by the name of Lilly/Lily, it took me a minute to understand what Julia was talking about.

ME: Oh.  Lilly Mintz did that?

Of course.  I should have known.  The Mintz seem to do EVERYTHING that Julia does.  No doubt they would also be going to Harry Potter camp. 

Julia, who, unlike Lilly Mintz, did not overdo it with her dress-up outfit, is bursting with excitement about going to camp today as Hermione:

Take THAT, Lilly Mintz!  Expelliarmus!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Madeleine's Idea

As we sat at the pool watching Julia's swim team practice today, Madeleine suddenly spoke up with a random remark.

MADELEINE: Hey Mama!  I have an idea!  So.  If you wanna have MORE fun in the night, you just sleep in the morning!
ME: Yeah!  And stay up all night.  Should we become nocturnal?
MADELEINE: (thoughtful) No...I just might do it if I'm a grown-up and I marry someone.
ME: Oh.  Why only when you're a grown-up?
MADELEINE: Because...there's more fun things happening in the night.
ME: And you wish you could stay up later like grown-ups do?

Oh, Madeleine.  If only you knew how desperately I wish I could get the amount of sleep that you and your sister get.  The grass is always greener...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Internet Search

Completely random comment made by Madeleine as we were driving home from a play-date today:

MADELEINE: Mama?  If you looked up a PERSON on your computer, it would probably just be INFORMATION, not a picture, because...everyone already KNOWS what a PERSON looks like!

It turns out she's right.  I tried googling it, and this is the first link that popped up:

Madeleine is getting too smart for the internet, man.  She already called what one would find when she googled "person."  What will she figure out next??

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vocabulary Lesson

Tonight while I was reading to Julia from L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Avonlea," she had a vocabulary question.

ME: (reading) "Anne dropped the reins and stood up with a tightening of the lips that boded no good to the predatory quadruped.  Not a word said she, but she climbed nimbly down over the wheels, and whisked across the fence before Diana understood what had happened.  'Anne, come back,' shrieked the latter, as soon as she found her voice."
JULIA: What's "the LATTER" mean?
ME: "Latter", like, if I said to Daddy, "Julia and Madeleine both had dinner, and the latter had dessert," it would mean that the name I mentioned last is the person who had dessert.  So it would mean that Madeleine had dessert.  If I said "the former"-
JULIA: Wait, but why would Madeleine have dessert and not me??
ME: Well...I was just trying to give an example that you would understand.  "The latter" means the most recently mentioned person or thing in a set.  It-
JULIA: But it makes me think about climbing a ladder.
ME: (showing her the paragraph in the book) Well, it's spelled differently.
JULIA: Ohhh!  I was picturing it with "Ds!" 
ME: Anyway, so the latter means-
JULIA: Wait, Mommy, so does that mean that "BLADDER" is spelled with "T's" too??
ME: No.  It's spelled with "D's".  But a word that is spelled like this one is the word "matter."  Like in "what's the matter."
JULIA: (delightedly) Or like "Potter!"

We never did get to delve into what "latter" means.  But that's okay, because we got to talk about all kinds of other cool stuff like bladders and why Madeleine might hypothetically get dessert but Julia wouldn't.  It's all good!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Solving the Lifeguard Mystery

Yesterday, while we were at the town pool, I wondered aloud why we hadn't seen one of the girls' favorite lifeguards in awhile. 

ME: I wonder if he quit working here.
JULIA: Uh, no, I don't think he would quit!  Maybe...well...maybe he got another job!

Right.  Which wouldn't entail quitting this one.

ME: Yeah, maybe.
JULIA: Or maybe he moved!
ME: Possibly.
JULIA: Wait.  Maybe he's on vacation!
ME: Well, he's been gone an awfully long time for it to be a vacation.
JULIA: Well, maybe he's sick!
ME: I was wondering if he's sick.
JULIA: Maybe he has PNEUMONIA!

At this point, Madeleine took things for a characteristically morbid turn.

MADELEINE: (quietly, to herself) No, I guess it's not that...
ME: What's not that?
MADELEINE: Well, I *was* thinking...maybe he DIED, can't be that, because he DOESN'T even have gray hair!  He has PLATINUM BLONDE hair!

Yeah, duh.  You can't die until you have gray hair.  (And until you're 100, if Madeleine still holds to that logic.)

On an unrelated topic, Julia gave me even more information about the Mintz a few days ago.

JULIA: Mommy?  I pretend that the Mintz are all Greek, just like we are. told me that Greek last names all end with an "s."  Is it still okay for them to be Greek if their name ends with a "z" because it makes the same sound?
ME: Well, it's your imagination, so you can have it be any way you want it to be.  Or maybe it's like our family. Maybe their Daddy isn't Greek but their Mom is.  So their last name doesn't have to be Greek.
JULIA: Yeah, that's what I'll pretend it is.
ME: What are their parents' names?
JULIA: Jasper and Astrid.

Bingo.  Astrid=most Greek-sounding name ever.  She *certainly* wouldn't be mistaken for Scandinavian or anything.

Also, if Astrid is Greek, she probably doesn't have the platinum blonde hair that Julia imagines every Mintz to have.  But at least if her hair is platinum blonde that means she won't die anytime soon, right??

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Madeleine's Workbook

Madeleine recently discovered an unused writing workbook that Yiayia had passed along to us, and she took the bold decision to dive into it all by herself.  Over the past several days, members of the Rowe household have come across Madeleine diligently writing in her workbook at the dining room table, in complete silent concentration.

Today I had a chance to peek at what Madeleine has done.  Since she can't read the instructions, she's had to take it upon herself to figure out what she's actually supposed to do.

In one instance, Madeleine interpreted the instructions to write "ar" words as an invitation to write what appears to be consecutively increasing numbers followed by a string of binary:

In other instances, in place of writing down a list of spelling words, Madeleine has attempted to construct her own kindergarten-spelled sentences:

"This is the best daa evrr.  Wee oll saa day day day Mom Mom Dith you put panduu in the prrllrr?  Grrraeammu dith itt.  Monster Monstrr see weerr siiszzrr Monster Monstr."

I didn't put panda in the parlor.  It was totally Grandma who did it.  And it was definitely Monster Monstrr who see weerr siiszzrr Monster Monstr, whatever the heck that means.

On another page, in place of a study list of review words, Madeleine decided to whip up a mix of short sentences and (sometimes backwards) number repetitions:

"I love Mommy I love Julia my to seth Mommy.  M 3 seth Daddy."

Props for actually using one of the review words, Madeleine! - even if you did spell it "my" the first time and "M" the second time, instead of "me." Also, either the narrator speaks with a lisp, or Madeleine continues to mishear the hard "t"/"d" sound as a "th."  It all depends on whether she meant "says" or "said" when she wrote "seth."

Regardless of her misinterpretation of the workbook's instructions, I give Madeleine three cheers for devoting her time summer homework of her own accord.  This kid is ready to take on kindergarten, seth her mommy!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Madeleine's Revenge

Madeleine and Julia were happily invested in a pretend-play game of "Monster High," when Madeleine suddenly switched gears and wanted to play "Hocus Pocus" instead. 

Julia refused.  And Madeleine decided to show her sister who's boss.

MADELEINE: (sternly) Julia.  If you DON'T play "Hocus Pocus" with me right now, you won't get to do ANY of the things you want to do for the REST of the day.
JULIA: I don't care, Madeleine.

Julia then came upstairs to eat some lunch, and several minutes later, Madeleine ran up, triumphantly waving a piece of paper.

To emphasize her point, Madeleine had drawn a picture showing how despondent Julia will be as she lives out Madeleine's punishment.

MADELEINE: (gloating) Message for Julia! It says "HA, HA, Julia."
JULIA: (scathingly) It says "HOO HOO, Julia."
MADELEINE: No!  It says "Ha ha Julia."

The use of "O" instead of "A" is my doing, I think.  I have been trying to teach Madeleine the sound of an open "O" vowel, as in "octopus." 

However, the double and triple "Os" are inexplicable to me.  I would have expected a Jolly Old St. Nick-style "Ho ho Julia" instead.  Not an owl hooting.

In any case, Julia proceeded to giggle in amusement over what Madeleine had hoped would be an in-your-FACE dealing-out of justice.  So I guess, to sum it all up, "Hoo hooo, Madeleine, the joke's on YOU!"

Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July!

Last night we went to our town's annual firework display, and the girls had a ball.  Julia has had to come around to enjoying fireworks, after the disastrous July 3, 2009, upon which we had to rush her home after the first burst of sparkling colors because she was afraid the fireworks were going to "sprinkle down" on her.  However, as a seasoned 8-year-old viewer, Julia is now quite at home with the town's annual tradition.  Madeleine, on the other hand, has never felt anything but joy at the sight of the fireworks, and last night's display took the cake for her.

Madeleine entertained the whole crowd around us with her bellowing exclamations of wonderment throughout the whole show.

"WOAH!  That firework made the shape of a FLOWER!"

"WOW!  That one looks like a STAR!"

(after a huge set of gold fireworks were set off all together) "WOAH!  They're just TAKING OVER the whole sky!"


"Fireworks can be ANYTHING!  They can be ALL DIFFERENT shapes, they can be ALL DIFFERENT colors, they can be ALL DIFFERENT noises, like this kind: BWEEEEEEEEEW! or like BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!"

"Mama?  I think the fireworks must get BETTER and BETTER every year, because THESE are the BEST EVER!! EVEN BETTER than LAST YEAAR!!"

We even had this discussion:

MADELEINE: MAMA!  What if the fireworks got SO HIGH into the air that they touched the EARTH?!?
ME: Well, the fireworks all fizzle out before they touch the ground.
MADELEINE: No.  Mama.  I mean the CIRCLE part.
ME: Well, they can't get so high that they'd exit the earth's atmosphere and go into space.
ME: Because that's just not possible.  Besides, if they were that high up, we wouldn't even be able to see them.
MADELEINE: (matter-of-factly) Come on, Mama.  Of COURSE we'd be able to see them, because they're COLORED.

All in all, it was a great night for the girls, despite the fact that we didn't even get into bed until after 10pm.  

This morning, we all headed into the town center, where I was going to run the town's annual 5K road race and the girls were going to ride on the YMCA swim team float in the town parade.  As we prepared ourselves to get going, I mentioned to Ethan how I didn't feel particularly confident about the upcoming race.  Madeleine took the opportunity to wisely remind me of my own words that I had lectured her with after she fell apart, sobbing, upon finishing last in her track club's 100m dash last week.

MADELEINE: Remember, Mama, it doesn't MATTER if you're the fastest.  It just matters that you finish the thing you're doing!  Besides, Mama.  It doesn't matter if you win a ribbon or a medal or a trophy.

Probably the best advice I could have gotten.  And for the record, I didn't fall apart sobbing when the race was over, so it's a good thing Madeleine gave me that little lesson as a reminder.

Happy 4th, all!  Enjoy the long weekend!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Swimming With the Mintz

In case you're wondering what the Mintz are up to these days, here's an update:

They're all over at Rosemary Pool, just like Julia.

Max and Jastina and Jessica are all lifeguards.  Lilly and Juliana are on the swim team.  Zoie is taking swim lessons.

However, as Julia got ready for her first summer swim meet last night in Medfield, she got a little overeager to include the Mintz in the big event as well.

JULIA: (coming over to me after warm-ups) Mom?  I was imagining that the Mintz are on the Rosemary Pool swim team and they're having their meet, but then I realized: two of them are 17 and 15 so they can't be on the swim team, because they're LIFE GUARDS.  So, like, how could they be going to swim team practice when they're supposed to be life guards??

Julia, who is not a life guard and is legitimately on the team, greatly enjoyed her first meet, finishing second in butterfly and first in breast stroke!  She also kicked off the first leg of a freestyle relay:

I know Max, Jastina and Jessica couldn't be there because they were busy lifeguarding at Rosemary Pool, but I bet Lilly and Juliana were super proud of Julia!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer School and Scratch Art

Now that school is over, Julia has been busy playing teacher to her American Girl dolls.  She even gives them tests and homework.  Here is her doll Emily's latest spelling test:

100%!  Go Emily!
Personally, I find it a bit unbeilievable that Emily got a 100 when she spelled unbelievable incorrectly.

Madeleine has kept her own self busy with her new scratch art kit.  Today she showed me the unicorn she'd been working on and then we had an absolutely baffling conversation:

MADELEINE: Mama?  This unicorn looks like my DREAMS.  Because, Mama?  So, I had this dream, that's not really like a nightmare, but I don't LIKE it, and in my dream,  everything is going REALLY REALLY slow, and then...all of a sudden, everything starts going reallyreallyfast.
ME: Yeah?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And I don't LIKE that.
ME: You don't?
MADELEINE: No.  I don't like it.
ME: Okay.  What does that have to do with your unicorn though?
MADELEINE: just LOOKS like what my dream was like.

Aha, NOW I get it.  That unicorn TOTALLY looks like things going really, really slowly and then all of a sudden going really, really fast.