Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Obstacle Course

Madeleine set up an obstacle course in the playroom.  Looks totally safe, right?

Especially this part:

This is frighteningly similar to the "zip line" she and her friend made last year, which attached to the television, and subsequently sent the television crashing onto the playroom floor and broke it.  At least this time it's just a basketball hoop and a vacuum, right?  Erm...maybe we'll just focus on the part with the couch cushions and pillow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Books on Madeleine's Mind

Madeleine has apparently been brainstorming titles for the newest book she wants to create:

Those all sound like great titles, I have to admit.  I'm especially fond of "Cleopatra (Mane Characters Name) Adventures in Egypt."  There's just something really different and unique about the use of parentheses in the middle of the title that grabs me.

Also, in case you're not 100% sure if "The Five Scottish Stories of Scotland" is a Scottish book, Madeleine has cleared things up at the bottom of her brainstorming:

WEF ("With Each Other Forever) Greek
K ("Katerina") Greek + British + American
TFSSOS ("The Five Scottish Stories of Scotland") Scottish
ACT ("A Christmas Tale") American
AIE ("Adventures in Egypt," though I would argue this should be abbreviated as C(MCN)AIE) Egyptian

What do you think, blog-readers?  Which title intrigues you the most?  Which book should Madeleine begin crafting first??

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Dernkey

Morning conversation with Julia

JULIA: (glimpsing a picture on Ethan's phone) Daddy?  Was that a deer, or a donkey?  Or was it a deer-donkey hybrid.
ETHAN: It was a deer.
JULIA: What would a deer-donkey hybrid be called?
ETHAN: I don't think there's such thing.
JULIA: Why not?!?
ETHAN: Why would somebody want to make a deer-donkey hybrid?
JULIA: Because!
ME: They're not the same species, honey.  I don't think you can make a hybrid.
JULIA: I'm pretty sure they're in the same domain, kingdom and phylum.  They're both mammals.  They both begin with a "d."  They both begin with a "d" AND they don't have an "a" at the end of their name.  They both have two vowels.
ETHAN: Well, honey, it sounds like you've figured out the essential criteria for creating a hybrid.
ME: Yeah, it's just like the fish-horse hybrid.  They're both one syllable and they both have an "h."
JULIA: Wait.  Someone made a fish-horse hybrid?!?!?


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Garden Friends

Madeleine's Christmas present for Nana and Gramps:

The Garden Fairy and the Garden Gnome (aka "Garden Lord")

They even have a back side!:

This weekend we celebrated an early Christmas with Nana and Gramps, so Madeleine got to bestow these lovely creatures on them.

MADELEINE: I think they look BETTER with their mouths CLOSED, but...I thought you'd probably want to be making them TALK, so I decided to draw their mouths OPEN so you can make them talk to each other when you're playing with them.

You can bet your bottom dollar Nana and Gramps are gonna wanna talk these garden friends!  Who wouldn't want to??

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Really Ridiculous "Conversation" About Christmas Lights

Our town has an annual tradition of lighting up the trees at Town Hall Common on the first Saturday of December.  Although the Rowe household has not attended the ceremonial lighting, we enjoy the sight of the famous "Blue Tree" and its other white-lit companions every time we drive by at night.

The Blue Tree

The town also lights another tree with blue lights, in the smaller town center that marks the "Heights" area of town.  This is our neck of the woods, so we see this blue tree much more frequently.  The other evening, as we drove by the Heights Blue tree, the kids got into a conversation that led to the most ridiculous bickering ever.  I will also point out that Madeleine has a compulsion to shout out "Sparklies!" each and every time she spies Christmas lights.  

MADELEINE: Sparklies!  Oh, look, Julia, it's the other Blue Tree!
JULIA: (scathingly) Madeleine.  The Blue Tree is at the Town Hall.  This is NOT the Blue Tree.
ME: Well, she means it's the other blue tree.
JULIA: This one is not CALLED the Blue Tree.
MADELEINE: Well, I'm calling it the "Other Blue Tree."
JULIA: No.  Madeleine.  The Blue Tree is the one that gets lit at the big Blue Tree Lighting.  This one is NOT the Blue Tree.
ME: Julia, just let her call it the Blue Tree.  It's not a big deal.  This one has blue lights too, and they light it the same night as the other one.  They just don't have a big ceremony about lighting this one.
JULIA: Well, I call this one "The Leaning Tower of Trees-a."
ME: I love it!  You're right, it does tilt at the top!
MADELEINE: Yeah, it does!  Okay.  That tree is "The Leaning Tower of Trees-a."
JULIA: (scathingly) Madeleine.  I came up with that name.  You can't call it that.  You're just COPYING me.
ME: Honey, we know you made up the name.  It's okay if Madeleine calls it that.
JULIA: No, it's not.  That's MY name for it.  She's just COPYING me.
MADELEINE: Okay, okay, I'll call it...uh..."Trees-a of Tower Leaning The."
JULIA: No, Madeleine, that's just the same thing back-
MADELEINE: Sparklies!
JULIA: Madeleine-
MADELEINE: Sparklies!  Reflecting lights!
JULIA: Madeleine.  Those are NOT reflecting lights.
MADELEINE: Sparklies!  Reflecting lights that are snowflakes!
JULIA: Madeleine.  You can just say "reflecting lights," you don't  HAVE to say "that are snowflakes."
MADELEINE: Sparklies!  Uh, Julia, uh- Sparklies!
JULIA: Madeleine.  You don't have to say "sparklies" EVERY SINGLE TIME you see Christmas lights.
MADELEINE: Sparklies!  Sparklies!  (spotting our house) Our sparklies!
JULIA: Madeleine.  Why do you always have to say "our sparklies" when we're at our house?

OMG.  Thank goodness we were home.  Madeleine clearly wasn't going to say ANYTHING right in her sister's eyes.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Best Mommy

Snuggling Madeleine at bedtime tonight:

MADELEINE: (chanting to me) You're the best mommy, you're better than all the mommies, you're the best mommy, you're better than all the mommies, you're the better than best mommy, you're the best in the world, I love you the best...(speaking) well, you're on the SAME level as Daddy and Julia and Yiayia and Auntie Shannon and Auntie Caitlyn and Nana and Gramps and Chad and Owen and Dashiell and Emily and Lydia and Ollie and Clara...
ME: Wait.  You don't even love me more than the dogs?!?
ME: (fake sighing) Okayyyy...
MADELEINE: Mommy?  Are you sad?
ME: No.
MADELEINE: I'm sorry I made you sad, Mommy.
ME: I'm not sad, honey, don't worry.
MADELEINE: But you're sad that I don't love you MORE than the other people!
ME: No I'm not.
MADELEINE: Then why did you SAY that?
ME: Well, I was just like, she doesn't love her own mother a little more than her aunt's dog?!?
MADELEINE: (cracking up) You're making it sound really funny!
ME: It is funny.  I was saying "you don't love me more than dogs??" because it was so silly and ridiculous.
MADELEINE: Well Mommy.  It's not that you're not better than dogs.  It's just that those are two GREAT dogs.

Okay, I get it now.

Two GREAT dogs, who are cherished equally as much as me in Madeleine's heart.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Fairy Song

When Madeleine wants to sing a made-up song about the fairy she's coloring, not even a slice of pizza is gonna get in her way:

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Oh boy!:

I can't wait to see Madeleine's work, especially if it's done in her signature creep-tastic artistic style!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Singing Problem

Madeleine's conundrum of the day:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  I reeeally love singing while I'm going to the bathroom, but the problem is, when I'm in the bathroom for a long time, it's when I'm pooping.  So if I'm singing songs while I'm pooping, then I have to wipe, and THEN I have to wash my hands, and when I'm washing my HANDS, I have to count to TWENTY, and counting to TWENTY means it interrupts the song I'm singing.

Ugh, that IS such a problem.  I *hate* when my need to wash my hands interrupts my poop time singing.

Perhaps I should teach her that the song "Happy Birthday" is roughly twenty seconds long, so she can sing that while she washes and she'll know she's hit the correct number of seconds for prime de-germing.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Walking home from school today, I asked the girls about their day.

ME: So, did either of you get to share about our trip to North Carolina?
MADELEINE: I did!  I got to go FIRST!
ME: You did?
MADELEINE: Yes.  But...(turning sullen) I didn't get to say ANYTHING about Owen.
ME: Why not?
MADELEINE: Because the teacher only lets you share ONE sentence!
JULIA: So why didn't you make your sentence about Owen?
MADELEINE: BeCAUSE.  I said "I went to North Carolina."
JULIA: (with knowing authority) You could have just said "I went to North Carolina to visit my  new cousin Owen."  That's still one sentence.
MADELEINE: No!  The teacher was just like, "It's time for questions and comments."
ME: What kind of questions did the kids ask?
MADELEINE: (sighing with deep grievance) Do I *have* to tell you?
ME: Okay then.  How about you, Julia?  Did you get to share about the trip?
JULIA: I got to share my video of me doing the 50 butterfly.
ME: You did!?  That's so cool!  Were the kids impressed?
JULIA: (in annoyance) I don't know.  I wasn't LOOKING at peoples' faces while the video was playing.
ME: Well, what kinds of questions did they ask?
JULIA: (in annoyance) I don't remember.
ME: Did anyone ask if you won?
JULIA: I *didn't* win!
ME: Yes, you did.  That was the video from your medley relay, that you girls won.
JULIA: No it wasn't!  It was my 50 fly!
ME: It was the 50 fly leg of your relay.
JULIA: (whining) Well you didn't TELL me that!
ME: Okay.  So, were you feeling so proud watching yourself swim on the video?
JULIA: (turning sullen) I was feeling like I have BAD FORM.
ME: Okay then.  I'm just gonna throw in the towel here on getting you girls to share anything about your day with me.
BOTH GIRLS: (continuing to walk in silence)

I mean, seriously.  It's like I'm torturing them for information.  No wonder they don't remember what questions kids asked.  They probably just said "Do I *have* to tell you?" when asked anything about the subject.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Homemade Gifts

I'm not sure the girls have put enough homemade gifts under the tree yet:

The tree just went up last night.  And we've already got a pile o' presents underneath, courtesy of our crafty children.

Madeleine is also hard at work making presents for the homeless.  Inspired by a video she watched at Sunday School today about a family living in poverty, she has decided we should descend upon a homeless shelter with homemade gifts.  And maybe some real gifts too!  So far, she has made or collected:

-A paper ornament.  (Because apparently Madeleine assumed one must have a Christmas tree even if one has no home)
-A cardboard cane made out of an empty wrapping paper tube (I'm sure that will be sturdy enough to support the weight of an injured human)
-A pile of coins from her piggy bank (She's not giving dollars, because she's saving up)
-Some old socks she has outgrown (Who doesn't want teeny socks with holes??)

Watch out, folks.  This kid is gonna change the world.  One cardboard cane at a time!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Let it Snow?

Last night's bedtime snuggles conversation:

MADELEINE: Mommy.  Isn't it STRANGE that it doesn't snow in San Francisco, but it snows in NEBRASKA?
ME: Why is that strange?
MADELEINE: I don't know.  It just sounds like it should snow in San Francisco, but not in Nebraska.
ME: Well, it doesn't really snow much in California.
MADELEINE: Wait.  San Francisco is a CITY?
ME: Yeah.  It's in California.
ME: San Francisco is a city, and Nebraska is a state.
MADELEINE: But doesn't Nebraska seem like it SHOULDN'T get snow?
ME: It can get really cold in Nebraska.
MADELEINE: But Nebraska has, like, lots of COWS and animals and all these farms.
ME: Well, Nebraska has a lot of farmland.  So in the winter, when the snow covers the farm area, it helps moisten the soil, so that in the spring the crops can grow.  Crops don't grow as well in really dry, hot areas, so-
MADELEINE: Mommy?  I'm not really very interested in learning about FARMS.
ME: Oh.  But-
MADELEINE: I'm more interested in learning about, like, Pilgrims and Native Americans.
ME: Well, farming has a lot to do with the story of Pilgrims and Native Americans.
MADELEINE: No, I mean, like, learning about their HOUSES, and what it was like on the BOAT, and in the tee-pees, and stuff.

Sheesh.  Okay.  I guess I'll just shut up about the farms already.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

11th Birthday

Happy, happy 11th birthday to this kid!:

In case you're wondering if she has outgrown her need to gallop whilst thinking of the Mintz family now that she is 11, the answer is nope!  In fact, Julia spent a good chunk of our morning in Charlotte galloping in Auntie Caitlyn's backyard.  Curious as to what the Mintz are up to this Thanksgiving?  Why, they're in North Carolina, too!  Are you shocked?  I am!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Madeleine the Rebel Girl

One of Madeleine's favorite gifts she received for her 8th birthday is this book from Auntie Shannon:

The book is made up of one-page stories of history's most influential women, with an illustration and salient quote opposite the text:

Madeleine recently finished the entire book, and was delighted to find that the last page is a blank entry for the reader to write her OWN rebel girl story.  And boy, did Madeleine go to town on hers:

Madeleine Rowe

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Madeleine.  Madeleine loved to swim.  But when she turned 8 things got hard.  The Tsunami swim team, the swim team she did not do in the summer, started doing things like 300s strait!  And they got pretty serious about flip turns.  But Madeleine's mind was buserk and creative.  She did things like sing songs in her head and make up games that helped her accomplish what her coaches asked.  Madeleine said she would be on the swim the swim team as long as her sister, Julia, was on it.  Madeleine's mind was so buserk that she aimed for a new, crazy goal: breathing only once and then NO TIMES on a twenty five.  She accomplished one breath - but then she wanted to do more.  Madeleine then accomplished no breaths on a dive twenty five!  She kept soing it and got new times on each one.  17.40.  17.8.  But Madeleine's best time was 17.5.  She told her mom every time she got a new time.  Madeleine's mom was so impresed every time she heard.  Madeleine is a great swimmer and is still swimming today.  And even when times get tough, Madeleine still keeps swimming.  She wants to insipe other young rebal girls who are just like you.

Born October 2, 2009.

Well, I'll tell ya, this *definitely* insipes me.  How about you??

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Underwear Song

After I had gotten in the shower this morning, Madeleine emerged from bed and wandered into the bathroom.

ME: (poking my head around the shower curtain) Yes?
MADELEINE: Like my song?  (singing progressively higher and higher) Underwear, underwear, uuuuunderwear, Underwear, underwear, uuuuuuunderwear, Underwear, underwear, uuuuuuunderwear.
ME: Great!
MADELEINE: So Mommy.  How high can *you* sing underwear?

I have had laryngitis for the past week+.  I think Madeleine has asked me to imitate some sort of singing or sound effect she is making up at least once per day.

ME: Not very high, because of my sickness.
MADELEINE: Oh.  Yeah.  I forgot.  (thoughtful silence)  Well, Mommy, can you at least do this?  (singing at a normal pitch) "Underwear, underwear, uuuuunderwear?"
ME: (imitating her) Underwear, underwear, uuuuunderwear.
MADELEINE: (encouragingly) That's pretty good!

All right!  Thanks for fluffing me up a bit, Madeleine!  I needed a little confidence-booster and she sure delivered.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Genius Comments

Genius comments of the weekend:

While watching Holiday Baking Championship:

JULIA: Wait!  Duff spells his name with F's?  I thought it was D-O-U-G-H!

Yeah!  Just like pizza duff.

JULIA: Naval Academy?  Does that mean he's a NOSE doctor?

Yup.  Just like I'm suffering from all this awful post-naval drip.

While eating lunch:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  If you're being HAWAIIAN, M & Ms are really COCONUT.

Oh, okay.  I'm so glad she told me that, because I've always wondered what M & Ms are when I'm being Hawaiian.

While watching a Thanksgiving show:

MADELEINE: Sometimes I suck on my fingers SO hard, it feels like I'm gonna BREAK MY CIRCULATION.

Um, maybe just don't do that.  Not just because of the circulation, but BECAUSE IT'S GROSS.

Friday, November 17, 2017

American Girl Dolls

This evening, in the car, the girls decided to bicker over the worthwhile topic of whether or not Julia is younger or older than Madeleine's American Girl Dolls.

MADELEINE: Julia, can you believe that some of my American Girl dolls, except, like, not Willa and Baby Lily, are OLDER than you?
JULIA: Madeleine, in the books, American Girl dolls are, like, NINE or ten so they're NOT older than me.
MADELEINE: No, but Julia, the ones that aren't from the books.
JULIA: Wait, how old is Madeleine?*
JULIA: Well, if she's ten, then I'm older than her, because I'm ALMOST eleven.
MADELEINE: Wait, Julia, when's your birthday?
JULIA: November 23rd.
ME: Madeleine, you don't know when Julia's birthday is??
JULIA: She NEVER remembers my birthday.  She's always like, "Wait, Julia, when's your birthday again?"
ME: Really??
MADELEINE: Okay, so Madeleine's birthday is...November 5th.
JULIA: December 5th?
MADELEINE: November 5th.
JULIA: (scathingly) Madeleine, it's already PAST that.
MADELEINE: Oh!  Okay...uh...
ME: Wait, Madeleine, do you know my birthday?
MADELEINE: (proudly) August 31st!
ME: Do you know Daddy's birthday?
MADELEINE: Uh....uh....uh...
ME: You should really know the birthdays of the people in your family.
MADELEINE: (ignoring me) Madeleine's birthday is...TOMORROW!
JULIA: (in utter despair) No!  It CAN'T be tomorrow!
ME: Madeleine, I really think Julia wants Madeleine to be younger than her, so can you just make Madeleine's birthday after November 23rd?
MADELEINE: (sighing in annoyance) Fiiiiiiine-uh.

*To make things extra confusing, Madeleine the human named one of her American Girl dolls Madeleine.

I can understand why Julia was so frustrated.  I'd be pretty ticked off if I found out my sister's doll was older than me, too.  I mean, here I'd be, thinking I'm the oldest kid in the house, and then WHAM! I discover that non-human Madeleine is actually older than me, edging me out by just a few days.  Good thing human Madeleine was amenable to changing non-human Madeleine's birth date to keep Julia in her rightful place as oldest child, human or otherwise.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

American Girl School

Today in American Doll School, Madeleine is the music teacher, singing and drumming to her very attentive students:

Madeleine is kind of a jack-of-all-trades teacher for her dolls.  Sometimes she's the class teacher, sometimes she's a specials teacher, and sometimes she's a reading teacher who reads aloud from her own school media books to the American Girl dolls.  I have to say, Madeleine is captivating in any teacherly role she plays for her dolls.  They never even make one peep as she reads or teaches them; instead, as you can see in this video, they just sit there in rapt attention.  Madeleine sure runs a tight ship in that classroom!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Singing in the Shower

While I was sitting in the locker room after Madeleine's swim team practice, I thought I heard her calling for me from her shower stall.  

ME: Madeleine?  Are you calling me?
ME: (peeking my head into the shower) I thought I heard you.
MADELEINE: Oh!  You might have heard me singing QUIETLY, because I always do that when I'm in the shower.
ME: Oh, you do?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  This time, it's about a Pilgrim and a Native American, and the Native American is named Meadow Vole, and the Pilgrim is named Rosie, and they're BEST FRIENDS.

Ah, so this is a historically realistic song, I see.

I figured that since she'd been singing for awhile, she must be almost done with her shower.

ME: Have you done your shampoo yet?
ME: Okay.  Did you do your soap?
MADELEINE: Uh, not yet.

So she was essentially standing under the water and singing.  I helped her get a move on with her shampoo, then went back to wait on a bench near the showers.

Next time I checked on her, I guess the Pilgrim and Native American story had ended, because she was instead singing "Refrigerated Veggies."

ME: Are you all done?
MADELEINE: Uh, no, sorry.  I was distracted.

I then went into the shower stall and finished her up, because at this rate, we were going to go through the Rowe Girls' Greatest Hits before she had even gotten started with cleaning herself.  I mean, I'm all for the singing, cause both Ethan and I are known to break into song at any given moment, but you gotta be able to multi-task here, kiddo!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Take a Deep Breath

So, plans went awry this evening when the dinner I had left for Julia fell through and she JUST.  COULDN'T.  COPE.  Julia gets a ride home from Honors Band at the same time that I'm dropping Madeleine off at swim team, so I always leave a dinner for her and she calls me once she's home to let me know she's safely in the house.  I had left her a quesadilla for dinner and a note saying there was salad in the fridge.  Unfortunately, our house cleaner, who mentioned to me that she cleaned out our fridge today, must have thrown the partially-used bag of salad away, and that set a catastrophe in motion for Julia.  She called me, per usual, and things just kind of fell apart from there.

ME: Hey, Jules.
JULIA: There's no salad!
ME: There isn't?  None in the fridge?
ME: Okay, shoot.  Well, why don't you wash a pepper and cut it up?  You can have that for a veggie instead.
JULIA: But I don't know HOW to cut a pepper!
ME: Well, do you want to try cutting it yourself, or do you want to wait until I get home?
JULIA: But if I wait 'til you get home, I'll get a CRAMP!
ME: I don't think you will.  I'll be home within the half hour.
JULIA: No, I have to have it sooner than that!
ME: Do you want me to stay on the phone with you while you try cutting it?
JULIA: (grudging silence)
ME: (waiting patiently)
JULIA: Which KNIFE do I use?
ME: Okay, if you look at the knife block, you can use one of the knives on the bottom-most part of the block.  Those are steak knives.
JULIA: The SHORT ones?
ME: They should be a regular length.  Sometimes someone puts the short-bladed ones in there, so if you find one of those, put it back and try the one next to it.
ME: The ones with the serrated edges.  The kind of bumpy edges.
ME: What do you mean, weird-looking?
JULIA: Like, the teeny tiny ones!
ME: You should have one with a regular sized blade with bumpy edges.
ME: Okay.  Describe the knife to me.
JULIA: I can't.
ME: Is it a really short blade, or a regular sized one?
JULIA: It's really small and skinny with bumpy edges.
ME: Okay.  I don't know why it looks small to you, but that sounds like the right knife.
JULIA: How do I even CUT a pepper?
ME: Do you have a plate to cut it on?
JULIA: Hang on.  (clanging around the cupboard) Okay.
ME: So, before you cut it, try to visualize the center of the pepper, because that's where the seed pod is.  So you want to cut off a slice from the side.
JULIA: I can't do it!  It didn't work!
ME: So, you want to-
JULIA: (on the verge of tears) I cut it in HALF by mistake!
ME: Okay.  So, you just want to get the seeds out now.
JULIA: But I can't do it!  It won't work!
ME: Do you see the seeds?
ME: So, you want to-
JULIA: (wailing with tears) I did it ALL WRONG!  I can't have a vegetable now!  This was the LAST PEPPER!
ME: Okay.  So you cut it in half?  Is it in two pieces?
JULIA: I can't do iiiiiiit!
ME: Then why don't you just wait until I get home and I'll do it for you.
JULIA: It will be too LATE by the time you get home!
ME: Honey, you don't have swim for another hour.  You have plenty of time.
JULIA: No, I don't, because if you're gonna be home in a half hour, it will be a half hour until swim, and I need to get READY for swim!
ME: I'll be home WITHIN a half hour.  Probably in about 15 minutes.
JULIA: That's too LAAAAAATE!  It takes me like TWENTY MINUTES to eat peppers!
ME: (taking a big, meditative breath) Okay.  What would you like to do?
JULIA: I caaaaaaan't cut it!  I cut it in HAAAAAALF!
ME: So it's in two pieces?
JULIA: I don't know how to describe it!
ME: (with as much patience as I can muster) Okay.  So, tell me what the pepper is like right now.  Is it in two pieces, or is it in one piece with part of it hanging off, or did you cut a piece all the way off?
JULIA: I don't know how to describe it!
ME: (taking a deep breath) Okay.  Do you want to wait until I come home?
ME: Okay.  So what you want to do is cut a piece off of one of the hunks, to start with.
JULIA: I can't!  The hunks are too big!  I have NO IDEA HOW TO DO THIS!
ME: (taking another deep breath) What would you like to do?
JULIA: I'll just have NO vegetable tonight!
ME: Do you want to wait until I get home?
ME: Okay.  I'm going to be leaving the Y in about two minutes, if you want to wait for me.
JULIA: I can't cut this!  It's TOO HARD!
ME: (breathing deeply and summoning all my patience) What would you like to do?
JULIA: (grumpily) Wait for you to cut it for me when you get home.
ME: (releasing my breath) Okay.  Well, I'll see you soon.

OMG.  That was a RIDICULOUS amount of emotion and energy wasted over a bleeping pepper.  I guess my kid is old enough to be home alone for 15 minutes but clearly not old enough to handle the emotional trauma of attempting to cut up a vegetable.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Honors Chorus Performance

Julia got to leave school early today to get to our town's Senior Center with her fellow Honors Chorus members.  The singers put on a concert of patriotic music in honor of Veterans Day, and because the concert didn't start until 3pm, Madeleine and I were able to swing over right after school and attend.

When we arrived at the Senior Center, Madeleine looked around at the audience and then asked discreetly, "Mommy?  Is this place for OLD PEOPLE?"

ME: Well, this is called the Senior Center.  It's a place where Senior Citizens, who are usually people over age 60, can get together and-

Yeah.  Close.

My tall and lanky Julia was way in the back row, without risers, so I could only catch a glimpse of a portion of her face from time to time, as you will see in this video of a really lovely canon the group sang:

Oh, hi, Julia!  Oh, wait, you're covered up again.

Another of the songs the group performed was a medley of anthems from the various branches of the US Military.  The chorus director asked veterans to please stand when they heard their song so that we could acknowledge them.

MADELEINE: (leaning over to whisper to me) Wait, who has to stand?
ME: (whispering back) Anyone who served in the military.
MADELEINE: (pausing to think, then leaning back over to whisper) Wait, so, uh, did you?

Does this kid know me at all??

The highlight of the performance was a sing-along, in which chorus members got to integrate themselves within the audience.  Julia, Madeleine and I enjoyed singing all together, although Madeleine wanted to know why I was singing with such a wobbly voice, and I tried to explain vibrato to her.  All in all, it was a really sweet concert, and I'm so glad I was there to at least hear, if only partially see, Julia in performance!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thanksgiveing Chart

This morning at church, the girls once again joined me in the choir until the beginning of Sunday School.  Julia, as usual, sang along with the music she knows, and Madeleine sat in the pew trying to be as quiet and non-disruptive as possible.  Now that Halloween is over, Madeleine no longer sat drawing witches instead of paying attention to the Liturgy.  This Sunday, she sat and drew Thanksgiving pictures instead of paying attention to the Liturgy.  Luckily, I had only two interruptions during the course of my singing; one to ask me if I could serve as a model with my hair tucked behind my ear, and a second interruption to tell me she forgot what one of the things she drew is called.  (FYI, it's a cornucopia.)  By the time the kids headed off to Sunday School, Madeleine had created this masterful "THANKSGIVEING CHART":

"Some familys like to serve a turkey for dinner."

"A cornacopia will often be a Thanksgiving item."

"Give thanks to parents" (oooh, look, there's me with my hair tucked behind my ear!!  So proud to have modeled that!!)

"A Thanksgiveing feast sometimes might have a pie for dessert."

"You might where special clothes to honor the native americans and the pilgrams."  Nuh-uh.  I ain't wearing no pilgrim costumes for Thanksgiveing.  But to each her own.

"Bonus!  Try traceing your hand on a peice of paper.  You can make a turkey!  After you make the face, you can color your turkey in!  Have fun!  Happy Thanksgiveing!"

Okay, well now I'm all set for Thanksgiveing, because Madeleine's handy-dandy chart filled me in on everything I'll need in order to be ready!

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Nutcracker

On our walk home from school, Madeleine told me about the upcoming mini-performance of The Nutcracker that she would be doing in music class.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Do you remember how Julia did The Nutcracker when she was in second grade?
ME: Yeah, in music class?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  Well, just to tell you, my class will be doing it in six to seven weeks.
ME: Oh, great!
MADELEINE: But Mommy?  I'm feeling a little APPREHENSIVE about it, because I *really* want to be Clara, but I'm afraid I'll get a part that I don't really want to do.

In order to calm her own apprehensiveness, Madeleine decided to put on her own version of The Nutcracker for the baby-sitter this evening.  By the time the sitter arrived, Madeleine was dressed in her reindeer onesie, ready to put on The Nutsmacker, in which she would play the role of Mara.  It's a bummer that I had to go to a work event and miss the grand performance of that one.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Shower That's Right There

After Julia went out to the pool deck for swim practice this evening, she suddenly began beckoning at me through the glass of the viewing window.  I went out on deck to find out what was so urgent.

ME: What's up?
JULIA: When you put my stuff in a shower, will you pick the shower that's all the way down near the bathroom stalls?  That's my favorite shower.
ME: Okay...the shower on which side of the room?
JULIA:  The one that's on (gesturing vaguely) that side.
ME: But what side do you mean?
JULIA: Like, the one that's on (gesturing vaguely) that side.
ME: Okay, hang on.  Which way are you imagining you're facing?  Facing the lockers, or the door?
JULIA: Like, if you're, like...facing the DOOR.
ME: Okay, facing the door, and then which side is the shower on?
JULIA: (gesturing vaguely) That side.
ME: But which side do you mean?  The side with the bigger showers, or the side with the smaller ones?
JULIA: The side that's like, (gesturing vaguely) right there.

Clearly, Julia was not able to register the fact that I could not see the vision of the locker room that was inside her brain and orient myself towards the direction she was gesturing.

ME: I still don't...I can't...hang on, let's try this: is it the shower directly next to the bathroom stalls or across from the stalls?
JULIA: It's right next to the stalls.
ME: Oh, okay.

I hung her towel on the hook and put her shampoo and conditioner inside the shower directly next to the bathroom stall.  Fingers crossed that I interpreted all her ambiguous descriptions correctly and did, indeed, secure her the favored shower!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The Autumn Fairy and Angelica Schuyler would like to wish you a Happy Halloween!:

And for a little extra Halloween magic, the Autumn Fairy has a special trick for you to view:

Happy Hauntings!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Discussions with Madeleine

Madeleine and I were discussing Halloween lawn decorations, from the mundane to the scary, on our way to swim practice tonight.  I expected that she might be a fan of the scary sightings, so I asked her about the sensation of getting spooked.

ME: Do you like the feeling of being a little bit scared, or do you not like anything to be scary at all?
MADELEINE: Well, I like being SURPRISED, but I don't like scary things.  I always feel DISAPPOINTED when there's scary things, like I'm DISAPPOINTED that I fell for it.
ME: Oh, I see.
MADELEINE: And Mommy?  I don't think that I have ANXIETY, it's just that I have a REALLY ACTIVE imagination, so sometimes I start IMAGINING things that make me feel scared.
ME: Yeah, I agree.  You do have a big imagination and I can see how it can get carried away.
MADELEINE: Yeah, like, when I couldn't see the other side of my American Girl balance beam, I thought it looked like it was a SNAKE.

Or like when she saw her Halloween costume in the dark and she was convinced it was Earl.

Not only is Madeleine confident about her really active imagination, she was brimming with self-affirmation after swim practice today.

MADELEINE: Mommy, it was SO AWESOME.  It was the MOST AWESOME swim practice EVER!  I did SUCH an amazing job.  None of the coaches even COMPLIMENTED me, but I just KNEW I was doing an amazing job swimming my fastest EVER.

If only we could all live life with the degree of aplomb that Madeleine possesses.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Most Ridiculous Fights Ever

These are the things the kids are fighting about today.

1.) Madeleine wanted a turn with the tablet but Julia was using it, and when Madeleine tried to dramatically fling herself off the couch to hide under the coffee table, Julia got her foot stuck in Madeleine's pajama top.  Madeleine found this UNFORGIVABLE.

2.) NOBODY LIKES MADELEINE because Julia wanted her to stop army crawling around the living room floor whimpering like a dying puppy.

3.) Madeleine put the rake back in the wrong place in the garage and Julia had to put it in the right place but SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT PLACE IS AND EVERYTHING IS FALLING OFF THE HOOKS AND IF SOMETHING GOT SCRATCHED, IT'S NOT HER FAULT.

4.) Julia somehow managed to foresee that Madeleine would be making an American Girl "Twins of the Year" drawing today when, a year ago, she (Julia) drew American Girl "Girls of the Year" who are twins.  Madeleine now cannot cope with life because Julia COPIED her when she made the Girls of the Year a year ago because it's BASICALLY THE SAME THING as Twins of the Year and Julia CAN'T copy her because it's Madeleine's idea.

It's only 12:14.  I cannot even imagine what else they will find to lose it about during the remainder of the day.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Julia Belongs in Finland

Hat-tip to Nana and Gramps for today's post!  As they pointed out, this obscure sport which is super popular in Finland seems to be Julia's calling.  She would CRUSH her competition, Mintz-style!:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Julia Spaces Out

Julia is usually hyper alert to anything I happen to be saying to any other given person, even when I'm purposefully trying to talk without her hearing.  Madeleine tends to be more unaware, getting caught up inside her own head and often not even listening to things I'm saying directly to her.  This is a completely common conversation with Madeleine:

ME: Okay, Madeleine, when we get home, you need to get your swim stuff together because we have to leave for practice in 10 minutes.
MADELEINE: Okay.  Wait.  What did you say?  I wasn't listening.

Therefore, I was pretty surprised when it was Julia who went off into outer space the other day, as she, Madeleine and I were hanging out in the living room.  I was expressing my love for the girls, at first directly addressing Madeleine, who was cuddling up to me on the couch.  Julia was standing by the edge of the couch, staring out the window.

ME: Do you know that I love you so much I can't even stand it.
MADELEINE: I love you too!
ME: (pointing at Julia) And I love YOU so much too, do you know that?
JULIA: (turning to look at me blankly)
ME: (waiting expectantly for a response)
JULIA: (speaking with slow deliberation) FARM OUT.
ME: What??
JULIA: I was thinking about the song in my flute book called "Farm Out."
ME: So you decided to say "Farm Out" instead of "I love you too?"
JULIA: Wait.  I didn't know you were talking to me!  I thought you were saying that to Madeleine!

"Farm Out" (which is basically just "Old MacDonald" with a different name.)

I promised Julia that from now on, my new response in lieu of "I love you too" will be "Farm out."  And don't worry, we've all held to that.  My recent text exchange with Ethan is proof:

Little did the editors of Julia's band book know what a legend one of their song titles would become in the Rowe household.  And with that, I'm signing off.  Farm out!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hey, I Just Wanna Say "Meow!"

So, this happened tonight, just as Julia was getting cozy on the couch to do her reading homework:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A New Cousin!

Madeleine and Julia have a new cousin, baby Owen, born to Auntie Caitlyn today!  We have all spent time fawning over his pictures, and although we won't get to meet him in the flesh yet, we have enjoyed getting to watch some video footage that Caitlyn sent.

Auntie Shannon, however, got a sense that Madeleine was concerned over her own status in the family.

AUNTIE SHANNON: (talking to me in private) Do you know that Madeleine has asked me twice if I'm gonna love Owen more than her and Julia?
ME: No.  I wonder why she's worrying about that.
AUNTIE SHANNON: I don't know.  Maybe she feels like I'm the last family member standing without kids of her own, so she has to cling to me hoping I won't have anyone to replace her and Julia.

I decided to talk to Madeleine about her fears tonight at bedtime.  I lay beside her in bed as she was doing her bedtime reading, and when she finished a chapter, I broached the topic.

ME: Honey, you know that I love you and Julia more than any other kids in the world, right?
MADELEINE: (confidently) Mmm-hmm.  I know.
ME: More than the kids I teach, and all the kids we know.
MADELEINE: (confidently) Yeah. I know.
ME: And I love Owen, but I will always love you and Julia the most.
ME: Were you worrying about that?
ME: I heard you asked Auntie Shannon if she's gonna love Owen more than you.
MADELEINE: (with utter conviction) Well, I was more wondering if she's gonna love US more than she loves him.
ME: Oh, you're worried she loves you guys the most because she knows you so well?
MADELEINE: Mmm-hmm.  Is that GENEROUS?

I should have known that Madeleine wouldn't be worrying over being loved.  She's totally secure in the idea of her own importance.  In fact, she's secure enough to worry that she might be SO loved that she's precluding Auntie Shannon from spreading the love equally enough.  Don't you worry, Madeleine.  Auntie Shannon's got a bounty of love to go around!  And never you fear, baby Owen: Auntie Shannon and I are over here BRIMMING with love for you already, and we haven't even held you yet!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Irrational Fears


#1. Clowns

JULIA: (running inside from playing on her swing in the backyard) I had to come inside because I was afraid there's a clown in the shed and it was gonna come out and get me!

#2. Clowns, again

JULIA: Auntie Shannon came into my room to say good-night and I thought she was a clown and I *freaked out.*

#3. Madeleine's Halloween fairy costume

MADELEINE: (as we lay snuggling in her bed at bedtime) Mommy?  Sometimes when I see the shadow of my costume hanging, I get scared that it's Earl.
ME: That's silly.
MADELEINE: I know.  (silence) Mommy?  Can you please turn on my light and put my costume somewhere I can't see it?
ME: Why?
MADELEINE: Because I'm afraid it's Earl.
ME:  Honey, you know it's your costume.  It can't turn into Earl.
MADELEINE: Please Mommy?  I'm really scared.
ME: You don't need to be scared.
MADELEINE: But I am!  I'm afraid it's Earl and it's gonna come to life and start moving.

#4. A Flashing Light

JULIA: (coming into our bedroom with bedhead at 10:30 pm) There's a FLASHING LIGHT in my room and I don't know what it is!
ME: Maybe it's your watch.
JULIA: No, my watch isn't even in there!  Is it lightning?!?
JULIA: But I saw a flash and I'm scared.
ME: Honey, whatever flashed can't hurt you.  Just go back to bed.  It was probably a car driving by and its headlights flashed.
JULIA: But I saw it TWICE!
ME: I think you might have dreamed it.
JULIA: No, I saw it!
ME: Just go back to sleep, honey.  There's nothing to worry about.
JULIA: But I'm SCARED of it!

An hour later Julia re-emerged from the bedroom, looking even more disheveled, and began trying to go downstairs to the basement.  When Ethan asked her what she was doing, she told him she can't find her exercise bike and she was going to look for it.  He gently steered her back to bed.

Forget clowns, costumes, and flashing lights.  The thing I'm most scared of is what unpredictable thing Julia the Sleepwalker is going to do next!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Church Talk

Discussion on the way to church this morning:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  I think that in families with THREE children, it's best to be the MIDDLE, because then you know what it's like to be...
ME: To be older AND younger?
ME: Yeah, I've never known what it's like to be a little sister, because I'm the oldest.
MADELEINE: Oh.  I can teach you!
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: (after a thoughtful silence) Uh, Mommy, it would probably be better to do it when we get home from church.

Darn it.  I was hoping she was going to teach me while I was driving through Harvard Square.

Madeleine was certainly not acting very little in church today; in fact, she paid way more attention than usual.  I had the girls with me in the choir, and Madeleine spent the beginning of the service happily drawing pictures of witches on the pieces of blank paper I'd brought for her.  Then suddenly her conscience must have kicked in because she put the papers away and began standing up, looking at me with baleful eyes every few minutes.

ME: (leaning down to whisper) Honey, you can keep drawing if you want.
MADELEINE: (whispering vehemently) No, I can't!  I have to stand!
ME: (whispering back) It's okay if you want to sit down.
MADELEINE: (whispering vehemently) No it's NOT!
ME: (whispering back) It's okay with me.
MADELEINE: (whispering with fierce vitriol) I'll get KICKED OUT into the PARKING LOT!

Yeah.  That's the punishment for sitting.  Banishment to the parking lot!  Maybe God will smite you, too.

Meanwhile, Julia, who complained of being tired from the moment we set foot in church, happily sat her butt on the pew next to me without reservation.  I think my children have swapped bodies.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Home Response Journal

I think I'm in love with this Home Response Journal letter from Madeleine to me:

It's simply EQUSQUISIC, do'nt you think?  Here.  I'll make it esier.  Some things I think about this letter: Madeleine is adorable and her letter is STUPENDIOUS!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Traffic Light Magic

Driving Julia to swim practice tonight, starting to push on the gas as the traffic light turns green.

JULIA: (with awe) How do you and Daddy always KNOW when the light is about to turn green??
ME: Uh...because I saw it turn red on the lights on the other side of the intersection?
JULIA: (with wonder) Oh!!  I never thought of that!  Daddy did it yesterday and now you just did it and I was like...
ME: You were like "Gasp!  My parents are amazing!"
JULIA: I thought you had some power to, like, predict the lights changing, or, like, you could see the light turn a special kind of shade of red before it turned green!

I should've gone with special powers instead of giving her the real answer.  That would be way more exciting.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Foot to the Face

Julia has had her fair share of accidental swim collisions while at practices, the worst of which was at a swim clinic at Harvard.  The lane coach hadn't realized that Julia was still swimming back to the wall and let the next swimmer dive in; that swimmer subsequently dove right into Julia's face and broke her goggles in two.  Madeleine, unfortunately, had her turn tonight at swim practice, getting kicked in the cheek right where a very loose tooth is.  The tooth didn't come out, but it started to bleed, and Madeleine approached the wall in tears.  I went out onto the pool deck after her coach beckoned to me, and I gave her a little TLC and cleaned up the tooth.  She was able to get back in and finish the practice, but her little brush with danger brought a lot of concerned swimmers over to check if she was okay.

When practice was over, I got more details from Madeleine about what had happened.

ME: Did the person who kicked you say sorry?
MADELEINE: I don't think he even knew he kicked me.  I don't even really know who did it!
ME: Well, he probably didn't realize what happened either.  I saw a lot of kids asking if you were okay, though.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  One boy asked if I was okay when I got back into the pool, and another boy asked if I was okay after I did my "Underwater SOB," which is what happens if I have to cry when I'm at swim team.

On our way out of the locker room, a swarm of girls came over to ask Madeleine if she was okay, and as we left the Y, Madeleine proclaimed cheerily, "They're so NICE!"

In the car on our way home, Madeleine asked me if I was going to write about this on the blog, then deduced, "Probably NOT, because it's more SAD than funny, and I get the feeling that your blog is about FUNNY things."  I told her that I do usually try to write about funny things that happened, but that I could write about her foot-to-the-face incident if she wanted.  Madeleine then had another thought about what absolutely MUST be included on the blog.

MADELEINE: Wait, did you put "Refrigerated Veggies" on the blog??
ME: Uh...what?  No...what?
MADELEINE: You *have* to put it on!  It's so funny!
ME: What is it?
MADELEINE: Julia  sings it!

So, for your viewing pleasure, I now have a recording of Julia singing the world's most beautiful, not-at-all-likely-to-get-annoyingly-stuck-in-your-head jingle:

Yeah.  You're welcome.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Visit from the Grandparents

Auntie Shannon and Clara are away for the weekend, but we Rowes were joined by Nana and Gramps, aka the Vermont Rowes, for a weekend visit.  The girls had a blast with their grandparents, with Julia lending a beloved book she read to Nana and Madeleine setting up her "Museum" of puzzles.  This involves Madeleine doing every puzzle she owns and displaying them on the play basement rug, then donning a faux fur vest because that's just part of her Museum costume.

MADELEINE: (shouting up from the basement Friday afternoon) When are the grandparents coming?
ME: Tonight.
MADELEINE: Okay, good.  I *really* love this game, and we play it every time they come!

Nana and Gramps, we thank you for being such good sports and enthusiastic Museum visitors! ;)

Julia split her time between hanging with her grandparents and, alternately, galloping.  Gramps even commented to us, "Do you think one day in the future, Julia will be in a serious relationship, and when her boyfriend proposes, she'll say, 'There's one thing you should know about me.  Every day I have to stop what I'm doing and gallop for fifteen minutes or so?"  I mean, I'm guessing her boyfriend will already know about her galloping habit; if he spends any time with her, how can he not be aware of it??

Our guests just recently left, and they had not been out the door more than thirty seconds before Madeleine lamented their leaving.

MADELEINE: Don't ya just miss Nana and Gramps already?  And NOW I'm missing Auntie Shannon!
ME: You always get sad when people leave.  Remember you were sad when Yiayia left this summer too?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  YOU know what happened there.  TEARS.

I get it, Madeleine.  It's hard to live states away from your loved ones.  It's never easy saying good-bye!

While our guests were here, The Rowe household had an ongoing game of Hearts with Madeleine, Julia, Ethan, Gramps and I all vying for the win.  Julia ultimately ended up losing the game by going over 100 points, with Gramps and Madeleine neck and neck for the win.  I guess Madeleine just isn't ready for the Hearts fun to be over with, because she set up a four person game and dragged Ethan into it.

MADELEINE: Okay, Daddy, you're passing to Massager, and I'm passing to Mirror.
ETHAN: Wait.  How many people are playing this game?

Take a look: it's Ethan, Madeleine, a Bath & Body Works Happy Massager, and a Princess Mirror, all going at each other in a cut-throat game of Hearts:

I'm overhearing various game moves as it goes on.

ETHAN: Okay, well, Mirror took it.
MADELEINE: Wait!  It's Massage-it's massage- (changing to an affected speaking voice that I guess is supposed to be Massager's voice) It's my turn, right!
ETHAN: Mirror's like, "I'm gonna play a three."
JULIA: (galloping by) Is this game actually fun?
MADELEINE: (giggling) Not really!

I never quite understand what is going on in Madeleine's brain...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Walking into the house at 4:45pm after I picked up Julia from Honors Chorus

JULIA: I'm SOOOOOO hungry.
ME: I'm gonna feed you girls in 15 minutes because you need to eat early before swim.
JULIA: (sighing in bitter disappointment about having to wait 15 minutes)
MADELEINE: Wait!  Mommy, I never had snack! (scampering off to the kitchen and emerging eating a granola bar)
JULIA: Can I have some cinnamon bread?
ME: No, not right now.
JULIA: Then can I have some chips?  I'm so hungry!
ME: Honey, I'm going to feed you in nine minutes.
JULIA: I can't wait that long!
ME: Fine, I'll heat up dinner for you right now.
JULIA: How come Madeleine got to have a granola bar???
ME: She never had snack.  You had Goldfish for snack before chorus, remember?
JULIA: (sighing again in frustration)
ME: (heating up leftovers for both girls)
JULIA: Can I eat downstairs while I watch a show?
ME: If you're careful.
JULIA: I will be! (taking her plate downstairs and turning on "Full House.")
ME: Madeleine, there's dinner on the table for you.
MADELEINE: Uh...okay...(not moving an inch from her American Girls and their gymnastics set)
ME: Your dinner is ready, honey.
MADELEINE: Okay. (still not moving)
JULIA: (from downstairs) UGH!  Mommy!  I spilled my dinner!
ME: Pick it up!
JULIA: I'm trying to!  Clara.  Clara!  No!
ME: How much spilled?
JULIA: Uh...a LOT!

I ran downstairs to find Julia's dinner in her lap and Clara gobbling it up.  Meanwhile, Madeleine had finally clued in to dinner and was bringing her own plate downstairs.  Julia ate the little bit she'd been able to salvage and put back on her plate.

JULIA: Mommy?  Should I have a cupcake or ice cream??

Sigh.  At least Clara got a nutritious dinner.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Eight Years Old!

Can't believe this kiddo is eight years old!:

Even though she has been so excited about her birthday, Madeleine was so exhausted after her sleepover party that she slept in this morning.  In fact, I had to wake her up so she'd have time to get ready for school.

Things were off to a slow start, and Madeleine proved that age is just a number as she sat on her bed with one pajama leg off, methodically picking her nose.

ME: Come on, honey, get dressed!

A few moments later, I guess she had a change of heart, because before I knew it, Madeleine appeared buck naked in the dining room with an urgent announcement.

MADELEINE: Mommy.  For being eight, one thing feels different.
ME: Mmm-hmm?  What?
ME: Okay.  What?
MADELEINE: (bristling with anticipation of her impending astonishing announcement) I don't feel like picking my nose!
ME: Great.  Can you go get dressed?

After she was finally dressed, Madeleine got to open a bunch of birthday presents, including an outfit from Auntie Shannon, Lego Friends from Auntie Caitlyn and Uncle Chad, a puzzle from Nana and Gramps, "Faerie Tale Theater" DVDs from Yiayia, an American Girl gymnastics from me, and some Ever After High dolls from her sister.  Julia also included another gift, a special set of stories to whet the thirst Madeleine has had for scary tales ever since reading "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Wow!  Julia managed to dig up the writing of Edgar Allen Poe's descendant, Julia Poe!  This is sure to be a totally twisted set of tales!  Can't wait to dig into them myself!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Birthday Sleepover

Tonight is Madeleine's long awaited birthday sleepover, with her two best friends from school.  Julia is feeling a bit too mature for this crowd so has opted out of hanging out with them and watching a movie, although she did make a brief appearance to eat some pizza.

I made it clear to Julia that she was absolutely welcome to watch the movie with Madeleine and her friends, but I guess that would be too much of a disturbance to Gallop Time.

JULIA: I better not, because before too long I'll start feeling like I need to, like, MOVE AROUND, because that's what always happens when I watch movies.

Madeleine and her friends are perfectly absorbed in the movie; Madeleine opted to show them her old favorite, "Song of the Sea."  Although Madeleine hasn't seen this movie in awhile, she still remembers every detail of the plot, so she's able to fill her friends in when they have questions or concerns.  We just recently got to the scene wherein it's revealed that Ben and half-selkie Saorise's mom was, in fact, a selkie.

FRIEND 1: Oh, I think that Saorise is a selkie because she was born in the water.
ME: Well, you can see that she has her mom's genes, and that's how she's a selkie.

Thoughtful silence and attentive movie-watching for a few moments.

FRIEND 2: Uh...I never LOOK at her pants, so I didn't notice.

Another moment of silent thought at watching.

MADELEINE: Wait.  Why are you talking about pants?!?
FRIEND 2: Because jeans.
FRIEND 1: Oh!  Biological genes are different from pants jeans.

Back to movie watching.

There is more to come in this exciting evening, including cake, ice cream, and a pinata, so I'm sure the rapt attention and focus they're displaying right now will soon lead to some raucous partying later in the evening. For the moment, I will enjoy the relative quiet!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Escape the Room. Or not.

This evening, the Rowes plus Auntie Shannon went to try out "Escape the Room" in Boston.  Madeleine was really excited to go, even though she couldn't manage to escape the bathroom without help.  For whatever reason, Madeleine decided to revert backwards in time to the days when she needed me to wipe her butt for her, repeatedly exclaiming in anguish, "I can't FINISH!" at me as I sat trying to write an email to her teacher about Madeleine bringing in a white shirt for her class to sign on her birthday.  Because every mommy should be able to wipe her nearly eight-year-old's butt AND email the teacher at the same time, right??

I guess Madeleine's inability to finish in the bathroom was a harbinger for us, because, alas, we did not escape the room.  I am gung-ho to try this out again, though, because we were awfully close and I want another chance!  Julia was able to take our failure in stride; however, Madeleine went into the experience certain that even if we didn't succeed, we would be given a little leeway.

MADELEINE: So, Mommy, if we don't escape the room, do you think we can just ask for, like, five more minutes?
ME: No.

To prove our complete and utter inability to solve anything this evening, we had two further failures.  We grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant next door to the Escape the Room site, and Julia decided to challenge Ethan to a game of Hangman.  Ethan came up with a Hangman for Julia, reminiscing back to the good old days of Butt Crocodile.  Julia was completely stumped, so I helped her figure out what letters to guess until she had almost completed the puzzle.

JULIA: (looking helplessly at "B U T T  C R O C O _ I L E)  Uhhh...."H"???

Then, to rub salt in our wounds of failure, NONE OF US could figure out how to get out of the parking garage with our parking ticket.  Ethan, Shannon and I repeatedly inserted our ticket into the wrong slot instead of realizing we were supposed to hold it under the scanner, and it took a call to the MBTA and an employee coming out to help us before we could get things working.

All in all, a totally productive day!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It's a good thing Madeleine had a 2+ hour swim practice this afternoon, because I think she had a LOOOOT of energy to burn.  Here she is, moments before we left the house for the Y:

The music-making continued throughout the car ride.  Here's a highlight from when we were stopped/crawling while stuck in a long line of traffic at a stoplight:

I think this kid might be a musical genius.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

To be a figure in a drawing by Madeleine usually means suffering a cruel fate.  While this is not quite as bad as being attacked by a shadow demon or being the subject of medieval torture, it still doesn't look particularly fun getting concussed by a falling coconut:

(Not to mention the faceless severed head that also appears to be suffering a coconut blow to the noggin.)

ME: Hey Madeleine, why is this girl getting hit on the head with a coconut?
MADELEINE: Oh!  I'm writing an "American Girl: Get-Together" book!

Okay.  That totally answers my question.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Classwork of All Sorts

Madeleine's latest math classwork was TOTALLY up her artistic alley:

I honestly don't think I could have completed this as well as she did.

In other schoolwork matters, Madeleine's American Girls are learning an important cultural lesson:

In addition to this white board sign, Madeleine's lesson plan includes a paper that says: "Cival war may NOT come back!!  CARE ABOUT PEAPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!!!!!!!!  Sighn created by Madeleine Rowe."

On the other side of this paper is her new marketing plan, guaranteed to ensure that only the 1% can own guns:

So,  yeah, we may need to work on that strategy a little, but all in all, I'm pretty positive that the American Girls appreciate their Headmistress having such a great social conscience!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Strict Parenting

In the car today, Madeleine opined on the advantageous situation her two best friends have at home.

MADELEINE: Well, their parents aren't as STRICT about their kids telling them things, so, like, their moms don't even know about playing "June and Jementa."
ME: Wait.  Do you really consider me strict?
MADELEINE: Well, like, you say that we should ALWAYS tell you everything.
ME: Well, do you think that I'm honest with you about things?
MADELEINE: Yeah.  You tell us the truth about everything.
ME: So, I just want to encourage you and Julia to be able to talk to me honestly and not feel like you have to hide anything from me.  I'm not making it a rule, I just want you to be able to talk to me.

Several minutes of silence.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mommy, since we're having this CONVERSATION, I guess I'll tell you something.  It happened in first grade, but I never told you because I was afraid you were gonna be mad at me.
ME: Okay.  What is it?
MADELEINE: Well, we were starting to play this game but it was time to come to the rug, and we just kept playing, and...the teacher had me take a break.
ME: You mean you had to sit in the "Take a Break" chair?
ME: Honey, I would never be mad at you for that.  Sometimes at home you have to take a break or a time out in your room.  Kids can't be perfect all the time.

Julia was covetous of her sister's enviable experience.

JULIA: The only time I ever got to sit in the "Take a Break" chair was when the teacher had us all take a turn to see what it was like, and she called us one by one from the rug to try it.  And, like, for some reason, I was SO excited to sit in it!

I guess you gotta live a little more dangerously, Jules.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

And More Madeleine Quotes

More of Madeleine's input.

On how she felt exiting the YMCA with wet hair in her pajamas last night:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  I'm the kind of "a little" that's on the verge of FALLING DOWN into the MIDDLE.  That's the level of chilliness I was at outside.

On the ideal chin positioning:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Would you rather have a DOWNY chin, or a...a...a...very UPPY and LUMPY chin?
ME: A downy chin.
MADELEINE: Me too!  I don't like uppy, lumpy chins.  That's the kind of chin on the "cha-cha-chin" card at school.
ME: Oh, like on a phonics card?
ME: What is the chin like?  Can you describe it to me?
MADELEINE: Well, he's a guy, he's facing to the side, he's tilting his head UP, he's smiling, he looks like a NICE GUY, and his chin is long and LUMPY.

Well, at least he seems like a nice guy, despite his chin being a huge turn-off.

On why she kept spilling her milk every time she took a sip:

ME: What happened?  Why does your milk keep spilling?
MADELEINE: It just keeps FLOWING down my cheek.  When I feel it on my cheek, I stop drinking IMMEDIATELY.
ME: But why is it spilling in the first place?
MADELEINE: I dunno.  Maybe the shape of the cup?

I mean, the cup is a little bit warped, but it's still basically the normal shape of a cup.  How the milk is winding up on her cheek is beyond me, but I guess, despite her stopping drinking IMMEDIATELY, it just keeps flowing down.

Maybe the guy with the uppy lumpy chin doesn't like flowy, milky cheeks.  Then he and Madeleine can be even.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Curriculum Night

Last week was Curriculum Night at the girls' elementary school, so I got to explore their classrooms and meet their teachers.  I have come to the conclusion that Julia has come out of her shell more, but is still a bit reserved, while Madeleine is brimming with confidence as a 2nd grader.

Some of their work:

Julia's "me-mobile," full of pictures of swimming, band/chorus, and our Utah Vacation

Julia's 5th grade goals

Madeleine's letter for her parents.

Madeleine shares her expertise

Madeleine's self-portrait, complete with adjectives to describe herself

Madeleine is an important person

I loved getting to see their classrooms and their class work, as always.  And I totally made sure to remember that school rocks!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Conversations and Observations by Madeleine

A few of Madeleine's observations and conversations this week.

#1: On Wanting Bedtime Snuggles
MADELEINE: (coming out of her bedroom after reading for a bit last night) Good-night, Mommy!
ME: Good-night, honey.  I love you.
MADELEINE:  Love you too!  (pause) Well.  You KNOW what I'm gonna ask for.
ME: What?
ME: Sa-na-noogles?
ME: Snoogles?
MADELEINE: S-N-U-G....uh...
ME: Two G's.
ME: Sure, I'll give you snuggles.
MADELEINE: (visibly relieved) Oh, phew.  Okay.

Yeah, I let her off easy on that one.  I coulda been all: "spell snuggles wrong?  FAIL.  No snuggles for you tonight!"

#2: On Starbucks "You Are Here" mugs
Noticing the Starbucks "Copenhagen" mug Ethan had brought home from his trip to Denmark.

MADELEINE: (reading) Copenhagen.  (reflecting for a moment) Looks preeeeeetty different there!

I see what she means.  The Starbucks "You Are Here" mugs are absolutely accurate representations of the differences you'll see in the places you travel.  In fact, why even travel at all, when you can just look at the mug?  I'm glad Madeleine was able to recognize how foreign a place Copenhagen is by seeing a mug with some buildings on it:

You can clearly see how different Copenhagen is from cities in different countries that also have buildings, like Chicago:

or Montreal:

Am I right??

#3: On a good, but not GREAT, day:
ME: How was your day?
ME: Good, not great?
ME: What made it not great?

It turns out that Madeleine and her two best friends couldn't quite agree on the way their pretend play game was going to progress, and one of the friends got frustrated.  They made up over lunch afterwards, so all is well again, but I sympathized with Madeleine.

ME: I'm sorry, honey. I know it can be tough when friends are getting frustrated or grumpy.
MADELEINE: Yeah.'s OKAY with Julia, because she has HORMONES, but it's not fun when it happens with my friends.

Maybe once her friends have hormones Madeleine will be able to let it slide a little more easily.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Creative Language

Madeleine has recently invented a new language, called "Creative Language," and she spends a lot of time singing songs in this language and trying to teach me words.  The main problem with the vocabulary of Creative Language is that Madeleine often forgets the gibberish she came up with and can't replicate it later on.  For instance, yesterday I was informed of how to say a bevy of words, including "house," and "tree" in Creative Language, but neither Madeleine nor I could possibly recall how to say any of it.

You may be wondering what exactly Creative Language is.  Madeleine offers an illuminating, clear-cut explanation:

MADELEINE: Creative Language is a language that *I* made up, and...everybody can make up their own names,'s CREATIVE!  And NO ONE can change any words, like from "urine" to "pee."

You must be dying to hear this language uttered.  Never fear; I have video footage of Madeleine performing a lovely Creative Language song.  If you want to know what it's about, Madeleine informs me that it's mainly about "Hocus Pocus."  (The movie, not the Kurt Vonnegut book.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Guest Blogger

Today's blog post is brought to you by Julia:

Swim team started on Tuesday. I went to night practice instead of morning practice. I think I swam the New Englands time for the 50 butterfly at the Wednesday night practice. I have swim team tonight. I really love competitive swimming. My goal for this year is to make New Englands. I probably can’t, though. The times are really fast.
I want to audition for Honors Band. I really hope I’ll get in. I’ve already perfected “Sawmill Creek” and “Morning Mood.” Me and the other flutes are going to perform “Au Claire de la Lune” for the 4 graders. It’ll be fun. We have to be taken out of school to do it, though. It’s during the 4 grade chorus and part of the 5 grade chorus.
To: From: PEACH: OMG Mario there’s a like new like sweater at like the mall it’s like so like cute. MARIO: Let’sa goa. We cana geta spegghetti and meataballas! Those are Mario and Princess Peach’s email address.

Clara’s sitting on me. She’s in an extra me mood this morning. She’s also been extra cute this morning. One time she conked out on me. It was really adorable She also keeps doing very loud pleasure noises. And she was really leaning into the pets I was giving her.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Madeleine's Accomplishments

When Auntie Shannon got home from work today, Madeleine was full of exciting news updates.

MADELEINE: Guess what?  You'll NEVER believe what I did!
ME: (to Shannon) She has been waiting to tell you about her accomplishments.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  I think I had the MOST ACCOMPLISHED DAY I've EVER had in my life!
AUNTIE SHANNON: What did you do?
MADELEINE: First of all, I swam with the Navy group and I *totally* kicked butt!  I was the FASTEST in my lane and I was even faster than a FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD!
AUNTIE SHANNON: You got moved up into the Navy group??
MADELEINE: Yes!  Okay.  SECOND of all, when we got home, I hung my swim bag up.
AUNTIE SHANNON: You could reach the hook??
MADELEINE: Yes!  I hung it up all by myself for the FIRST TIME EVER!  (thoughtful) Well.  The first time ever without having to JUMP.
AUNTIE SHANNON: Great, honey!
MADELEINE: And.  Third of all.  This is the one you'll be MOST excited about.  (pointing at Auntie Shannon's chihuahua Clara) It has to do with CLARA.
MADELEINE: (pausing for suspense) I picked up Clara!

Auntie Shannon showered praise on Madeleine for overcoming her fear of picking up the dog, and Madeleine beamed with pride.  And then Madeleine had more to say.

MADELEINE: Oh, AND - we had my FAVORITE kind of P.E. today!
AUNTIE SHANNON: What kind of P.E.?
MADELEINE: A hard work kind of P.E.!  The kind where you are like, working really hard, and you're really tired when you're done.  That's my favorite kind!

Ahh.  To be a kid.  If only adults could find a way to feel like bouncing off the walls with giddy excitement over things as simple as hanging up a bag on a high hook or having your favorite kind of hard work gym class.  I'm so glad that Madeleine found such delight in her most accomplished day of her life!  Hoping there are many more to come!