Friday, August 18, 2017


Heading into the weekend, here are some Madeleine quotes and musings:

Madeleine has second thoughts about playing a trick on her sister:
MADELEINE: Mommy.  I'm gonna try and scare Julia and say that I saw a mouse!
ME: You are?

a minute later

MADELEINE: Mommy?  You know what makes me feel uncomfortable about kidding?
ME: What?
MADELEINE: It's like LYING in a short time.  You *lie*, then you say "just kidding."

You lost me at the last part...:
MADELEINE: Mommy?  I know there's a FIVE-SECOND-RULE, but in first grade, one of the girls always picked up food she dropped on the ground, and ATE it.  (making a disgusted face) Like, in a classroom?!?  Ugh.  Oh.  Mommy.  I just THOUGHT of something.  (leaning closer towards me and speaking dramatically) FOOT CALLUSES.

Where did this question come from??:
MADELEINE: Mommy?  Would you TAKE a baby that's an orphan holding a sign on the street?
ME: Well, I would take care of any baby that needed someone to take care of it.  What makes you ask that?
MADELEINE: Uh...I don't know.  No reason.

Madeleine has some unusually passionate feelings about her diary:
MADELEINE: Mommy, Julia said to use some writing material, so I thought of my diary!
ME: Okay, good.
MADELEINE: Oh, I just LOVE writing in my diary!  (chanting) To feeeeeeeel like you can flyyyyyyyy.  Oh, it's just the BEST feeling in the WORLD!
ME: What is?
MADELEINE: Writing in my diary!

Glad she can make herself happy so easily, can face moral dilemmas about kidding, and knows not to eat food off classroom floors because of...uh...foot calluses.  In the meantime, I'll let you know if I find any orphan babies on the street to take back to the Rowe household.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dinner Hit

This evening, I made a dinner of pasta, cannelini beans, and peppers sauteed with garlic and seasoning.  It's a real hit within the household.  Ethan at least ate the pasta and peppers, but decided to forego the beans entirely.

Madeleine just had issues with everything but the pasta.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  What are these beans?  Are they beans?
ME: Honey.
MADELEINE: Well, what are they?
ME: You answered your own question.
MADELEINE: Are they beans?
ME: Yes.
MADELEINE: But are they SAFE to eat?

No, Madeleine, I decided to poison the whole household tonight.  Good thing Ethan was too wily to fall for the tainted beans.

Madeleine pushed all her beans to one side of the plate, ate all the pasta, and began inspecting every single slice of pepper before putting it in her mouth.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Is this pepper safe?
ME: Yes, honey.
MADELEINE: Mommy.  Look.  (holding out the pepper on her fork for me to see) Is this black stuff on the pepper safe?
ME: Yes.  It's seasoning.
MADELEINE: (turning the pepper around and around with her fork before finally eating it)  Can I just have more pasta??

Julia might not have loved the beans, but she at least found that eating the pasta and beans in combination was tolerable

JULIA: Mommy, I made this...Three Little Pigs?? that what you call it?
ME: (blank stare)
JULIA: (pointing to a bean inside her rigatoni) Like, this thing?  Like a mini hot dog?

Close, honey.  Pigs in a blanket.

I'll tell you who DID like the dinner, though.  Auntie Shannon's chihuahua gobbled up all the beans the kids decided to drop on the ground for her.  At least I had one fan of my cooking.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sharks Championships

As I mentioned in the last post, the Suburban Swim League held its championships this past weekend, and the Rowe girls had a great time!

The first several hours of the championship meet are trials; for each stroke, all of the swimmers who made the cut-off time at the season's meets face off in heats of 6 at a time.  The youngest age group (8 and unders) go first, going all the way up through the 15-18 age group.  Only the swimmers who log the fastest 6 times for each age group advance to the Finals.  As you can imagine, the trials are a loooong ordeal.  Furthermore, spectators are not allowed on the pool deck, so instead, anyone who wants to watch a particular race must squeeze in amongst the other throngs of spectators to try and peer through the metal fence around the pool deck.  Luckily, I got a prime spot at the fence for both girls' races and was able to wish them luck on their way to the starting line.  Madeleine would wave cheerily and blow kisses, while Julia had on her game face and could not be bothered with her parents' antics.

Julia made finals in her two main events, butterfly and breast stroke, as did her relay team.  Madeleine surprised the pants off of me by making finals in breast stroke; I had figured that a 7 year old swimming against a bunch of 8 years old would not be top 6, but go figure!  Her relay team made it to the finals as well, so Ethan and I accepted that it was going to be an extra long day!

Julia is a veteran at this Championship meet, so she knew all about Finals.  Madeleine, however, seemed more confused than elated.

MADELEINE: Wait, Mommy, what does Finals mean?  I just swim breast stroke AGAIN?
ME: Uh, basically.

Madeleine then busied herself playing Uno with a bunch of 8-and-under girls and I barely saw her for the next several hours.  Julia, on the other hand, was acutely aware of all that was to come and all that had come before.  Last year, she and her relay teammates were dealt a crushing blow when their relay, which, in the posted results, was listed in 6th place, missed Finals when results were RE-POSTED with a previously disqualified team in 6th place.  The rival team had contested the disqualification after results were posted, so the Sharks girls had gotten their hopes up only to discover they were actually in 7th place.  Therefore, despite the fact that Julia's relay finished 1st in trials, Julia was not going to trust those shady folks who posted the results.  She felt the need to walk around to the front of the pool building to gaze at the results over and over and over again.

JULIA: Mommy.  Come with me for a minute.
ME: Where are we going?
JULIA: (taking my hand and leading me) Just come.
ME: Are we going around to the front of the building?  I just came from there because I went to the bathroom.  I don't feel like walking all the way around again.
JULIA: Just come.
ME: But where are we going?  You already saw the results.
JULIA: I wanna see them again!
ME: Honey.  You've checked them more than once.  Your relay is in 1st.
JULIA: I just wanna look again.
ME: Okay, but I'm going to go back to my chair.  I don't feel like going all the way over there again.
JULIA:  (glumly) Okay, I'll come with you.

As we began walking back to the team's tent, Julia encountered the other three members of her relay, walking the opposite direction.

TEAMMATE: Julia!  We're gonna go look at the relay results again.  Wanna come?
JULIA: (delightedly) Okay!  (turning away from me and skipping off with her teammates.)

Rest assured, the results remained the same and the relay team got to swim in finals.

Madeleine held steady in her 6th place spot in the Finals, and her relay defied expectations and placed 5th, ahead of a team that had solidly beaten them in trials.  Julia finished third in butterfly and second in breast stroke, and her relay team pulled off a win!  This was especially exciting because, despite their 1st place finish in trials, their relay was actually seeded 2nd, with another town seeded at a time of 1:04 to rival the Sharks' 1:05.  And that 1:05 was the best the Sharks had ever done, several meets previously, and not repeated again at any subsequent meets.  So we had no idea if the Sharks relay would actually win the Finals, or whether the rival team had been holding back a bit in trials, knowing they'd easily make Finals.  But lo and behold, the Sharks relay managed a 1:03, their best time ever, and a first place finish!  I honestly don't think I've ever seen four happier girls.

Now that the season is over, Julia is heart-broken, and Madeleine is indifferent.  As we got into the car after Championships, Julia was already lamenting.

ME: Okay, everybody buckled?
JULIA: I miss Shaaaaaaaarks.
ME: Honey, you still have the banquet tomorrow.
JULIA: But I miss Shaaaaaaarks.

The banquet was a blast, complete with cake, ice cream, awarding of medals and ribbons, and a slide show of the highlights of the season.  I would like to point out that there was nary a serious picture or video of Madeleine on the slide show.  She clearly enjoyed hamming it up for the camera EVERY TIME the coach was taking pictures.  There was even a montage of Madeleine making goofy faces, one after another, on the slide show, which led to much hilarity amongst the team members.

When the banquet was over, it was back to "I miss Shaaaaaarks" from Julia, and today's refrain has been "I wish Sharks wasn't oooooooover!"  She and her friends on the team have all decided that they're going to swim with the team until they're 18, then they'll all be coaches, so they never have to leave.  So if you have a future swimmer ready to join the team in 10 years, look for Coach Julia!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Early Bedtime Before a Big Weekend

The impending weekend is a big swim weekend for the girls, with both the Regional Championships and the end-of-season banquet taking place.  Julia and Madeleine are both beyond excited, although Ethan and I are certainly not looking forward to the crack-of-dawn wake-up call we face every year on Championship day.  Because the girls have had an evening swim practice and three out-of-town evening swim meets this week, and because we have to be at Championships so early in the morning, I informed the kids that tonight would be an extra early bedtime.  I was thinking 7:30 or so, but I guess the excited anticipation for it to just finally be Championship Day had Madeleine even further ahead of schedule.

At 6:47 pm, Madeleine emerged from the bathroom after brushing her teeth, already dressed in her pajamas.

MADELEINE: Would someone please give me a bedtime snuggle?
ME: You really want to go to bed at 6:47?
MADELEINE: (nodding a bit sheepishly)
ME: Do you really think you'll fall asleep this early?
MADELEINE: Well, I don't really have anything to read...
ME: So why don't you just stay up a teeny bit longer.  How about this?  Why don't you sit and chat with Daddy for 10 minutes or so, and then at 7:00 we can go in and do snuggles.  After all, Daddy just got home from work and you haven't seen him much today.

So Ethan and Madeleine went to sit on the couch and cozy up under a blanket.

MADELEINE: (cheerily) So, Daddy, what did you do at work today?
ETHAN: (absent-mindedly) What did I do at work today?  Hmm.  That's a good questions.

MADELEINE: (cheerily) So, how's the NEWS?
ETHAN: How's the news??
MADELEINE: (turning to me for help) Uh, well, I don't really know what to talk about!

I gotta say, I give Madeleine props for attempting to start up a conversation with Ethan.  I should have remembered that Ethan is basically brain-dead by Friday evenings before I suggested she sit and chat with him.

Madeleine did indeed fall asleep at 7:30, so we've got one kid down, one to go!  Sweet dreams, little swimmers!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of wisdom from Madeleine, on various topics:

On shapes:
MADELEINE: Mommy?  Don't they make ALL SHAPES really weird?  Like, for example: a heart.  It looks NOTHING like the real shape of a heart!  And a star.  A star is really a CIRCLE.

On Sleep-Mates:
MADELEINE: Mommy!  Come and see what I did in my room!
ME: Okay (entering Madeleine's room, to see she had cleaned up) Wow!  It's clean!
MADELEINE: And also, Mommy.  See?  I moved my garbage can.  But I did NOT move my Sleep-Mate, because if you move it even the TINIEST little bit-
ME: I know, it can loosen the plug.
MADELEINE: If you move it even the TINIEST little bit, it will be a CATASTROPHE.

On abstract art:
MADELEINE: Mommy, isn't it weird that people can just make a SHAPE, but with other things on it, it looks like a thing?  Like, that circle is JUST a circle, but with things ON it, it looks like a CAT!  And that squiggly like is the cat's tail.  And then it looks like disconnected teeth, with a mouth over it, and then there's a bottle of hairspray!

Take a look.  Can you see all of the objects that Madeleine sees in this painting?:

On time travel:
MADELEINE: Mommy?  You can't say "we have everything we need," because...there could be something we're GOING to need in the FUTURE.  So if you say we don't need that thing, it might mess up the future.  And if you mess up something in the FUTURE, it will make all KINDS of problems.  Mommy?  You *literally* can't do anything about the past or the future, because time will keep going.  So, say it will be, like, TWELVE-O-CLOCK where you are, and, like, EIGHT-OH-ONE where you are in the past.

Okay, my mind is blown.  I need to go absorb myself in a nice piece-of-fluff beach read after all those philosophical musings.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Julia has had a whole slew of bizarre dreams lately, and she never fails to tell us all about them, in detail, the following morning.  Among some of the main plots and happenings of her dreams are:

-"I dreamed that my coach from Sharks won the freestyle at A Championships, and they gave him a TREE."

-"I dreamed that there was a kidnapper in the garage, and I told Auntie Shannon, and she put on all this detective gear, and was like, 'let's look around!'  And when we were looking around, the garage was really different, and we thought he was hiding behind all these trash bins and shelves, but we couldn't find him.  And I thought he must be there but he was just breathing really quietly and not moving."

-"I dreamed that someone from my class was on the Natick swim team, and he was being all friendly with the Natick swimmers, and they were, like, hanging out and talking and stuff, and they were making these really weird faces, and we said hi to each other, and he was supposed to be fast, so I wanted to beat him so he could see I could swim faster than him and stuff."

-"There's a Hamilton song called 'Stay Alive,' but in my dream, instead of it being usual, it was about Eliza singing about how much she needs Hamilton to stay alive, and she was doing this really weird dance like stomping around and it was a really weird stage and she was wearing this blue and red and plaid cow-girly dress."

-"I had a dream that I took this Hamilton workshop, and Lin-Manuel Miranda was reading a passage from the book that inspired the musical, and he read, 'The death of Eliza's husband and son Philip was a dilemma.  Yes, dilemma.  That's the word."

So, basically, Julia's dreams are variations on Hamilton, swim team, with the occasional "let's catch a kindapper" romp thrown into the midst.  I wonder what Freud would say this means about her psyche.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sharks, Again

In the car, on the way to the Boston Sports Club pool, Julia was chattering about the upcoming swim championships and her fellow Sharks teammates.  She discussed everything from her freestyle relay team to a butterfly swimmer from a rival team to the best times of herself and her friends, until Madeleine interrupted her with an important question.

MADELEINE: Julia, which Shark is your favorite?
JULIA: You mean, like, which PERSON on the Sharks team is my favorite?

No, Julia.  Not those Sharks.  These Sharks:

Why *wouldn't* Madeleine mean the "Death to Sharks" characters??  We're going to the pool, after all.

JULIA: Deep Blue.  I've already told you that.
MADELEINE: Mine's probably...Gray-Gray. Still.  Who's your second favorite?
JULIA: Gray-Gray.
MADELEINE: Then who?
JULIA: Torpedo.
MADELEINE: Torpedo's probably my least favorite.  I just kind of got TIRED of Torpedo.

I wonder what Torpedo did to turn himself into such a lamer.  

Madeleine, at least, seems to have some use for Orange, despite him not being top of her list.

MADELEINE: Julia, I came up with a new use for Orange!
JULIA: What?
MADELEINE: He has the power to control Halloween.  He can make anything Halloween or Halloween-ish whenever he wants!

Man, with powers like that, I can't even imagine what Gray-Gray must be able to do in order to rank #1!

Friday, August 4, 2017

This Week's Highlights

Some highlights from the week.

Philosophical Questions About the Sharks Swim Team

JULIA: Mommy, wait, at Sharks swim meets, are you allowed to swim in the medley relay AND the freestyle relay?
ME: No, swimmers are only allowed two individual events and one relay.
JULIA: (in distress) But Lilly Mintz swims BOTH relays!
ME: Well, honey, since she's imaginary, I think it's fine if she swims both relays.
JULIA: (still distressed) But she's on the Sharks!
ME: Yeah, well, she's on the Sharks in an alternate universe where we don't exist.  So maybe in that universe, swimmers can do more than one relay.
JULIA: (perplexed) Mommy, this whole "alternate universe" thing is just WAY over my head.

Thunderstorm Trauma

A few weeks back, we had a wild and noisy thunderstorm that had both kids freaked out.  Julia is *always* a nervous wreck when there is a thunderstorm, but during this particular weather event, even Madeleine was on edge.  The thunder claps continually took both kids by surprise, meaning one or both kids screamed every time we heard thunder.

Ethan had no patience for these shenanigans.

JULIA: (screaming)
ETHAN: Whoever screams again loses dessert for THE REST OF HER LIFE.
JULIA: (whimpering pathetically from behind the hand she had clamped over her own mouth.)

Well, that thunderstorm was topped by a severe storm we got hit with on Wednesday.  Julia's panic was ratcheted up a few notches to begin with, since we had been in the car when the storm hit.  We were on our way to a Sharks swim meet, which, needless to say, wound up being cancelled.  We had to drive home in the thick of the storm, with blinding rain, electrifying flashes of lightning, and explosive claps of thunder.  By the time we got inside our house, Julia was a wreck, as was Auntie Shannon's dog, Clara.

JULIA: (screaming)
CLARA: (barking)

Ethan wasn't home during this storm, but Madeleine was clearly worried about the fate of her sister's dessert options, nonetheless.

JULIA: (screaming)
MADELEINE: Uh, Mommy?  Is it okay if Julia screams if the thunder is REALLY, REALLY LOUD?

I assured Madeleine that I was not holding to the same rule of losing dessert for the rest of one's life, so while I did not enjoy Julia's screaming, I was not planning on inflicting a dessert ban on her.  And it's probably a good thing that Ethan wasn't home, because Julia screamed a LOT.

In order to get her sister's mind off of the thunderstorm terror, Madeleine made up a song, using the baby carrots she was eating as props.  This song has since caught on within the household, prompting both Ethan and I to add verses to the original repetition of "I'm a carrot, I'm so strong."  Madeleine holds steady with the aforementioned words, while Julia has taken the suggestions from Ethan and I to add some variety to the "lyrics."

Behold, the masterpiece of the century, "I'm a Carrot":

Madeleine Tries Her Hand at Hair-Styling

Madeleine asked me if she could brush my hair for me, and she had me sit on the floor in front of the couch while she prepared to give me a brush and style.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mommy, I'm gonna do PIGTAILS.
ME: Okay.

Madeleine then fumbled around with chunks of my hair and an elastic, but she clearly could not get the elastic to stay in the position in which she wanted it.

MADELEINE: Uh, actually...I'm gonna do a ponytail instead.
ME: Okay.

Madeleine then fumbled around some more, and I think she got the elastic in, but it was all the way down near the ends of my hair.  So it was pretty much the loosest ponytail one could ever have.

MADELEINE: Uh...wait.  Mommy.  I'm just gonna BRUSH your hair instead.  I'm gonna brush it until it's SUPER shiny and there's NO frizz.

She began to methodically brush my hair, complimenting her handiwork as she did so.  Then, as the sun shone through the window, Madeleine took credit for the highlights reflected in my hair.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  Your hair is LITERALLY golden at the ends.  You're gonna wanna see this!  I brushed it so much, it's SHINY and GOLDEN.

She went and got my camera to show me my hair:

My "literally golden" hair

MADELEINE: But...hang on.  I'm gonna get your hair gel for your frizz. (scampering off to the bathroom and returning with my FrizzEase.)
ME: I already put some in.
MADELEINE: Yeah, but you have a LOT of frizz right here.  (smoothing some gel into my hair.)  There.  That's better.  Wow!  This really DOES ease frizz!

Madeleine is like a ringing endorsement for FrizzEase!

MADELEINE: But Mommy?  Now I feel like I wanna CUT peoples' hair.
ME: Yeah, well, we're not gonna have you do that.  You can brush it, but not cut it.
MADELEINE: Well, Mommy, I have a feeling that I'm gonna be a NATURAL at cutting hair.

Yeah, maybe when you're older...let's just not take that gamble *yet.*

ME: Well, you are very artistic.  Some day I bet you'll definitely be good at cutting hair.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And besides!  If I mess up, I can just turn it into a BOB or a PIXIE CUT!

Well, that's reassuring.  If she totally screws up, she can just lop it all off!  Or maybe even just shave it off!

and finally:

Attempts to Touch the Bottom of the Pool

While we were at the Boston Sports Club pool, Madeleine began attempting to do a pencil jump from the diving board and touch the bottom (12 feet down) with her feet.  Each time she'd jump off and emerge to the surface, she'd update me on her progress.  "Close!" she'd exclaim, or "Even closer!"  Finally, she seemed to get her body down far enough to tap the bottom.  She emerged, and I awaited the update.

MADELEINE: (making a gasping, choking sound, then letting out the juiciest, most resounding belch I have ever heard in my life)
ME: Are you okay??

She then climbed out of the pool as if nothing had happened.  That was a close one.  Her belch literally sounded as if she was going to vomit the entire contents of her stomach into the pool.  Which she has actually done before when swallowing a bunch of water.  So...dodged a bullet on that one, PLUS Madeleine achieved her goal of touching the bottom.  Double win!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

89 Pumpkins

MADELEINE: (running over to me in the middle of eating her lunch) Mommy!  I made up a poem!  Wanna hear it?

Apparently today's lunch was brought to Madeleine by the number 89.
(Too bad we didn't get to hear the other 88 verses....)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just Another Day in the House of Ridiculous

My kids are not ridiculous.

Oh, hey Mom.  I'm just cleaning out my drawers while wearing an eyeball eyepatch and a witch finger.  Nothing to look at here.

Because what else would match a sundress over a t-shirt other than peace sign glasses?

And then there's whatever the heck they were doing on our way to the swim team fundraiser night at Orange Leaf:

Can you tell how excited they were to eat fro you with their teammates?!?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Flute and Clarinet

As many readers know, Julia began playing the flute this past year at school.  The band director strongly suggested that all band students take private lessons over the summer so as not to lose the skills they have gained throughout the course of the year.  Luckily, as I am also a flautist, I can skip paying for a teacher, and I have been doing lessons for Julia myself.

One of the highlights of doing these lessons is the chance to play duets with my daughter.  Madeleine was THRILLED to have the responsibility of holding my phone and taking a video of Julia and I as we played together:

Julia was proud of how she sounded; I don't think she realized quite how well she was able to blend with me until she had a listen.  Madeleine was even MORE proud of her own camera skills.

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Did you like how I did a CLOSE-UP of Julia?  Because I always notice YOU doing that when you're taking a video of US!

Bravo to both my talented girls!

Madeleine doesn't have a band instrument of her own, but that's okay, because she put her handy-dandy art skills to work.  Behold, Madeleine's clarinet:

Madeleine loves playing her clarinet by humming into the water bottle/mouthpiece.  It's really awesome when I'm trying to concentrate on things or practice my own music and she goes marching through the room loudly making mouth sounds into her "instrument."  I can't complain too much, though, because she seems as satisfied with her hand-made clarinet as she would be with the real thing.  At least I can avoid the recorder fiasco of two years ago wherein I had to buy Madeleine her OWN recorder, after Julia and the entire third grade got them for music class.  Because let's face it: the only thing worse than ONE kid blowing shrilly into a recorder at home is TWO kids blowing shrilly into recorders at home.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Tonight's swim meet was cancelled due to rain, so the girls and I decided to get take-out and make a night of it at home.  We ordered Indian food, and I didn't realize until we'd all started eating that I'd given Julia my chicken dish and I had taken hers.  Julia decided she really liked what I had ordered, so I made our swap official.

ME: Here, Julia, do you want to try any of the sauce that goes with that chicken?
JULIA: Sure.
ME: Try the mint sauce.
JULIA: (dipping a carrot into the sauce and eating it) I like it!
ME: Okay, here, you can have the whole thing of sauce.
JULIA: But can I try another sauce too?
ME: (holding out the soy sauce)
JULIA: (dipping a carrot into it and eating it) I like that one too.
ME: Here, you can have both.  I won't give you the hot chili sauce though.
MADELEINE: What won't you give Julia?
ME: Sauce.
ME: Yes.  I gave her my mint and soy sauce.  Since Julia is eating my dinner, I figured she should have the sauce that goes with it.
MADELEINE: Julia is eating your WHAT??
ME: Julia is eating my dinner and I'm eating hers.
MADELEINE: What??  Your what??
ME: (turning to Julia in incredulity) Can Madeleine not hear or something?

Okay.  This table seats 6.  We're not that far apart from each other.  I give up.

And as I am typing this...

ME: Julia, what did Madeleine first think I said when I said "sauce?"
JULIA: Mmm...I don't remember.
MADELEINE: What??  When I said what??


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bedtime Prayers

When the kids were young, I taught them to pray by just repeating a simple rhyme every night before bed: "Thank you, God, for making me, thank you for my family, Amen."  Both kids have now transitioned to praying silently on their own before bed, which means I'm not always sure what they are praying about.  Every once in awhile, however, they fill me in on what's on their mind.

ME: Julia, what do you usually pray about at night?
JULIA: Um, like, for God to help and protect anyone, and thanking Him, and asking for forgiveness and stuff.

I'm impressed.  Julia has moved to far more complex prayers than "thank you God for making me, thank you for my family."

Madeleine, on the other hand...

I should point out that last year, during the kneeling prayer in church, Madeleine prayed aloud, and although I didn't catch all of it, I definitely heard the last sentence: "And please make ALL of the people from Harry Potter come to life.  Amen."  Um...she definitely has her priorities straight, all right.  I will say that Madeleine has at least become a bit less demanding of the impossible in her prayers.  When she asks for something now, it's at least something that *could* conceivably happen.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  I need help finding my pink headband!
ME: Okay.  (Joining her in combing through her drawers for it)  When did you last see it?
MADELEINE: A long time ago.  Like, maybe LAST summer, or really early in first grade.
ME: Oh boy.  If it's been missing that long, I'm not sure we're gonna find it.
MADELEINE: But that was part of my PRAYER last night!  I prayed that I would find my pink headband the FIRST time I looked for it!

Sorry to say God had to disappoint Madeleine on that one.  I tried to remind her that things like finding a headband are not top priority compared to things like helping children escape war zones safely, so maybe God was a little preoccupied.

Madeleine shared another recent prayer with me, as I lay snuggling her at bedtime.

MADELEINE: There's one prayer that I *always* say, that's, like, basically the same thing I pray for every night.
ME: What is it?
MADELEINE: I say "Please don't let ANYTHING bad happen for a long, long, long, long, long, long time.  And...when I *tell* you that it can happen, *THEN* you can let it happen."

Well, isn't Madeleine the little boss of God.  She'll tell HIM when bad things can happen.  She's definitely got the Christian goal of humility down.

I suggested re-phrasing her prayer to ask God to keep everyone safe, or asking Him to protect people from harm, and she liked that idea.  Although I'm not sure if she'll keep the contingency that when she TELLS God that He can stop protecting people, THEN he can stop.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

American Girl Doll School

So, Madeleine persuaded Auntie Shannon to play American Girl School with her after dinner this evening, and poor Shannon had no idea what she'd be in for.  Madeleine described the whole scenario to me and it'

MADELEINE: So, it's like, "Back in Time," so, they're really from this time, and they go back to the time when there were schoolhouses, and people WHIPPED students.  So at first they were learning how to spell "AT" and Marie-Grace spelled it BACKWARDS, so it was like "TA."  So she had to get whipped.  I made her go with me to the principal's office, and then go to the place where the whipping person was, and then I went back.  And she was there for a little while, and when she came back, her back was bleeding.  She had gotten a really HARD whipping.  Oh, and while they were doing the lesson, after Jane did it correctly - and Jane is the BEST student - my favorite student, but, like, I never told the rest of the class because they would be jealous.  The NEW student came in.  The person who was the new student was Auntie Shannon, but we pretended her name was Lila.  Her parents were supposed to be really RICH, and, like, they were SUPER popular, SUPER famous.  They did, like, everyone told their names, and said a little welcome thing.  Even I said MY name.  So, like, um, we talked a little, and I went to the principal's office to ask something, if for Lila to have to get whipped if she got bad grades in a MONTH, and then we talked a little more and then I went to the principal's office again to talk about if we could NOT do the whipping thing, and I said I was going to the President's office, and then when I got there, after a few talking about its, and Lila being popular and her parents being famous, Lila came in and helped along with talking the President into making people NOT have to whip students.  It got to, like, having to PUNCH him, and k-i-s-s-i-n-g him.
ME: Wait, who was kissing him??
MADELEINE: (breaking into a smile and pointing at herself)
ME: You were??
ME: And then what happened?
MADELEINE: And then Auntie Shannon never came back again, so I went over to find her, and she said she was gonna stay downstairs, and that's pretty much it! ENDED.

I don't blame Shannon for making her escape when she could.  American Girl dolls getting whipped at school?  Punching and then making out with the President?  If that's what school was like back in the olden days, I'm pretty glad that my kids go to school in "this time."

Schoolteacher Madeleine, keeping order in the classroom

The students, petrified by terror that they may get whipped

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ballerina Socks

Yesterday, Julia decided to take issue with Madeleine's socks.  As the three of us sat on the couch together, Julia began examining Madeleine's sock design.

Madeleine's sock

JULIA: (scathingly) Madeleine, is that girl supposed to be doing ballerina?
MADELEINE: What girl?
JULIA: (pointing at the ambiguous creature on Madeleine's sock) Her.
JULIA: Is she doing ballerina?
MADELEINE: Uhhh...let me see.
JULIA: Like, is she supposed to be doing ballerina?
ME: Is she doing what??
JULIA: Is she doing ballerina?
ME: Is she doing "BALLERINA?!?"
JULIA: (speaking to me as if she can barely tolerate my thickness) Yeah.  She's wearing a TUTU.
ME: Do you mean "Is she doing BALLET??"
JULIA: (suddenly bursting into laughter) Oh, yeah!  That's what it's called.

The kids have made this into an inside joke.  On our way home from yesterday's swim meet, Madeleine exclaimed delightedly, "Julia, isn't doing swimmer really fun?"

Personally, I prefer doing runner, but I'm definitely proud of how well my girls are doing swimmer.  Anyway, now I need to finish up doing blogger so I can go do mother.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Geniuses of the Week

The award-winning genius moves of the week:

Another Injury Pertaining to Fish

The very same day that Julia got hit in the head with a plastic shark, Madeleine herself had an injury related to plastic and fish.  During swim team practice, the coach taped up results from last week's meets on the window between the parent viewing area and the pool deck.  I watched Madeleine and a teammate kneeling on a bench looking over the results in between swim sets.  And because Madeleine is known to somehow WIPE OUT ON EVERYTHING, she managed to tip herself over and face-plant into one of the plastic fish bowls on the windowsill.  She had a cut under her chin and a sore arm but thankfully was able to recover after a few tears and get back into the water.

I mean, seriously, who would have thought that of all the animals in the world this one would be indirectly responsible for Madeleine getting hurt??:

Julia Takes The World's Longest Shower

After last night's swim meet, the girls both took showers.  They were explicitly told to go quickly, as it was already past their usual bedtime.  Unfortunately, Julia had a brain lapse that caused her shower to go on unnecessarily long.

JULIA: (shouting from the shower) DADDY!  DADDY!
AUNTIE SHANNON: (entering the bathroom) Honey, Daddy's helping Madeleine.  What's wrong?
JULIA: There wasn't any BAR SOAP, so I used Mommy's soap (pointing to my liquid body wash)
JULIA: But by accident I put it in my HAIR.  And now I used it all up and there's none of THAT soap left for my body!

Auntie Shannon got Julia a new bar of soap, but apparently washing soap out of her hair was time-consuming enough that Madeleine was done showering and ready for bed before Julia had even gotten to the actual real shampoo.

ETHAN: (going downstairs to check on Julia) Julia, I told you that you need to be quick, and you're taking the LONGEST.  SHOWER.  EVER.
JULIA: I'm sorry but I put SOAP in my hair so I have to wash it out!!

Ethan had no sympathy.  And I guess he isn't required to, since he's been known to accidentally put soap in his hair as well, and he didn't make a big epic deal out of it.

My Children Apparently Have No Table Manners

I literally had to say this at lunch today.

ME: Julia!  Get your feet off of Madeleine's shoulder.  Girls.  Listen.  You *don't* sit at a table eating a meal with your leg across the table and your BARE FEET touching somebody's arm and cheek.  Come on.

Meanwhile, I also had to ask Julia not to continually open and close the lid of my non-dairy creamer while she talked to me, tell Madeleine she shouldn't be drinking out of an overused moldy straw, and ask Julia to please take my thank-you card from a student off her face.  For reasons unknown to anyone, she had the card open with it pressed up against her face, talking to me while smooshing the card all over her lips and cheeks.

I feel like I live in a house of animals.

Monday, July 17, 2017


As I have mentioned before, our town pool is closed for renovations for the summer, so we Rowes are temporary members of the Boston Sports Club pool.  At our regular town pool, no outside toys are allowed, but the rules are a lot more lax at the BSC.  Therefore, we have been able to bring some diving toys with us to play with.  In lieu of diving sticks, we have diving sharks, which sink to the bottom after being thrown in, and which have inspired a really macabre game made up by Madeleine and Julia.  They don't quite agree on the name of this game, but the implications are pretty much the same.  Madeleine calls it "Sharks of Death" and Julia calls it "Death to Sharks."

ME: So can you explain to me how you play "Death to Sharks?"
JULIA: So, well, "Death to Sharks" is this game show.  What happens, is: there are two players.  One throws all four sharks in the pool.  The other player has to get them.  And if the sharks are under the water for too long at the bottom of the pool, that means they drown.  So, they're OUT: well, you can still get them, but they're not alive.  If you get a shark three times, then it's back in. It's, like, alive again.  And if ALL the sharks are dead, if you save all the sharks in a round, then all the sharks are alive again.  And also, you can put it on the edge of the pool for, like, a tiny bit, so that they can have a chance to breathe, but they CAN drown on it, if they're there for too long.  And the contestants are:



Orange (pronounced like in French: o-ronj)


Deep Blue

So here's what I don't get.  The girls are rescuing sharks from their natural habitat (i.e. IN THE WATER) and saving them by putting them above water.  How is this saving the sharks though?  Like, they would actually die by staying ABOVE the water too long.  They're not in any danger while hanging out under the water, unless they are being hunted or something.  I mean, maybe they aren't really sharks.  Maybe the game show is for humans who dress in a shark costume, making it truly necessary to get them back above water before too long.  In that case, though, I can see why the girls kept the title of the game show as it is, because "Death to Humans" would probably be a bit too gruesome-sounding for most game show enthusiasts to watch.

And, of course, sometimes real injuries do occur in this game, as happened today when Madeleine threw a shark and it hit Julia smack-dab in the middle of her forehead.  Now she has a nice old bruise there, reminding me of her self-induced hickey when she stuck a window suction cup to her head.  This is not a good year for Julia's forehead coming into contact with things made out of plastic.  But at least a shark accident sounds a lot more adventurous than a window suction cup accident, so maybe this time around Julia can sport her head bruise with a little bit of swagger.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Weekend Activities

It was a cool and rainy morning in our neck of the woods, so the day started out with some indoor fun.  Madeleine decided to decorate the downstairs play room and set up a "Holiday Party," with activities representing various major holidays.

The Halloween station was full of Madeleine-made masks, and our job was to put them on and try and scare each other.  Since it's already easy for Madeleine's art to scare me, it wasn't a big stretch to find the masks a little creepy.  Here is the artist herself modeling her craft:

Amazing, right?

The Thanksgiving station was filled with piles of teeny-tiny pieces of a 1000+ piece puzzle.  Ethan and I each successfully managed to link one piece to another before giving up.  The box cover tells me that when completed, the puzzle will be a picture of some turkeys surrounded by autumn leaves.  Nothing that I manged to connect looked remotely turkey-like, though.

The Christmas station was the best.  I think Madeleine kind of forgot to include Christmas in her holiday party and then half-a$$ed it when she remembered.  If a party guest wanted to get in the Christmas spirit, all he or she had to do was sit in the "cozy place" because Christmas is a time when people are cozy.  To make the "cozy place," Madeleine simply fluffed one of the pillows on the end of the play-room couch and declared it fit to go.  I sat in the cozy place and sang a few Christmas carols to really get myself in the mood.

The Valentine and Easter stations were combined, because as far as kids are concerned, both holidays revolve around candy.  And, in a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone scenario, Madeleine was able to get rid of some of her leftover Valentine AND Easter candy by having it out at that station.  It was basically an excuse for both kids to eat taffy and MnMs in the middle of the day for no reason.  I had to actually cut Julia off because she would have just eaten all the candy that was there.

Luckily, the sun came out in the afternoon, so we were able to take a trip to the pool and to a nearby playground.  The kids seemed ready to expend some energy after being indoors; both girls opted to perform chin-ups at the playground upon our first arriving.  I took a video of chin-up set number ten million:

Seriously impressive girls.  I have never in my life been able to do a chin-up.  I guess all that candy at the Holiday Party fueled their body with sugar they needed to burn!

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Mintz, Again

So, Julia continues her Gallop Time, thinking about the imaginary Mintz family, despite her ankle still hurting.  Of especial importance during Gallop Time yesterday was the "fact" that the swim team that the Mintz kids are part of were swimming against our upcoming evening's opponent.  In real life, our town's team lost the meet, but since Lilly Mintz is reportedly such a phenomenal swimmer, I hoped that maybe her team had fared better.

ME: Did Lilly Mintz's team win the swim meet last night?
JULIA: She's on OUR team.
ME: Oh.  Like, was Lilly Mintz there with us?
JULIA: The Rowes weren't there, but the Mintzes were.  And her family and friends were cheering her on, and there were these two twins there on the team named Carolina and Madeleine.
ME: So do the Mintzes exist in an alternate reality or something?
JULIA: No!  None of the people, like US, exist, except for SOME people.
ME: Like who?
JULIA: Like...the actors from Harry Potter, the people from Hamilton, and stuff like that.  And like, Kate and Bob and all the swim coaches...THEY all exist.  They're all swim coaches for the Mintzes.
ME: But Lilly Mintz basically does everything you do.  So is she in a parallel universe?
JULIA: No.  She lives in THIS universe.  She lives on EARTH.  But it's made-up people.  Except for some people who, like, NEED to be there, because it would be weird to invent, like, different swim coaches and stuff.
ME: But you invented all the other people.
JULIA: I know!  But they're all based on another friend or another person I know.
ME: So, tell me what the mom is like.  Is she based on me?
JULIA: Yeah, she's like you.  She's nice.  
ME: Does she look like me?
JULIA: No.  She has blonde hair.  And she has tanner skin.  Like, she and Jasper Mintz have Vermilion, and she plays the flute...
ME: What else does she do?
JULIA: She...well, I *mainly* think about the kids, so I don't think about the adults much.  But...she does stuff that YOU do.  Like, she has a blog!
ME: I find it odd that Lilly Mintz does all the same thing you do, but you're not part of her life.  So you and Lilly Mintz don't know each other?
JULIA: No.  I don't EXIST in her world.
ME: She doesn't think about you while she gallops?
JULIA: No!  She doesn't gallop.  And she isn't imaginative. 
MADELEINE: But Lilly Mintz is basically YOU!  She doesn't ever think about you??
JULIA: No.  But sometimes it's hard if she reads the same books as me, because I'm going into fifth grade, and she's going into HIGH SCHOOL.

Then Madeleine got interested in understanding the Mintz situation.

MADELEINE: Julia.  So.  They're LIKE us, but they're also totally NOT like us?
JULIA: No.  They're LIKE us.  (thoughtful silence) Wait.  I'm just TOTALLY confused about this different universes thing.

And now we are on to a VERY complicated existential conversation that is not really quite being understood by either kid.  I am trying to explain the theory of alternate universes, but it's too complex an idea for the kids to grasp.

MADELEINE: So, like, maybe in another universe, your LEGS are on your HEAD, and you walk on your hands?  
JULIA: (after a long period of deep thought) I don't know why, but I'm having trouble PROCESSING that there are different universes.

So, yeah, I'm gonna just let this one drop for now.  Maybe in another five years we can return to the multi-verse discussion but for now I'll just accept the fact that Lilly Mintz doesn't live in a parallel universe even though she basically mimics Julia's life but surrounded by different people.  I think I just might be as stumped by that concept as the kids are about the alternate universe one.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Swimming Fun

Last night was the 2nd meet of the summer swim season, and both girls swam their best times in multiple events!  It was especially exciting because they both qualified for the Championship Meet at the end of the season; a first for Madeleine!

You can tell these kids take themselves really seriously:

While our team took a sound beating at the meet - the other team was at least three times larger than ours - a lot of our swimmers had great individual swims.  We discussed some of the top performers from our team on the way home.

ME: You know, I've said this before, but it seems like taller swimmers really have an advantage.  Their arm span is longer, so their strokes take them farther and they can touch the wall sooner than someone smaller.
JULIA: Yeah, like a lot of the best swimmers on our team are tall.
ME: Right.  I think most of the world's best swimmers are taller than average.
MADELEINE: Like Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps!
ME: Right.
JULIA: But Lilly Mintz is short and she's one of the fastest swimmers on her team!

Oh.  Well.  In that case.  If an imaginary character that Julia made up is a short but phenomenal swimmer, I guess I must be wrong that the world's best swimmers are tall.  I hadn't taken the imaginary Lilly Mintz into account.  Also, how foolish were Madeleine and I to think of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky but not Lilly Mintz??

Come to think of it, it's possible that Lilly Mintz was crushing it in the pool last night, but I just wasn't able to notice because she's imaginary and invisible.  No wonder I forgot about her.

Julia is clearly feeling the Mintz excitement today, as she has spent most of the morning galloping.  This in itself is not unusual, but Julia is actually galloping on a sore ankle.

JULIA: (while galloping) Mommy?  My ankle hurts even when I walk on it.
ME: Is it hurting while you're galloping?
JULIA: Yeah.
ME: You'd better stop galloping then.
JULIA: But I *waaaaant* to gallop!

Later in the morning:

JULIA: Mommy?  My ankle still hurts.
ME: Why don't you stay off your feet then.
JULIA: Okay.

Ten minutes later: Julia is back to galloping.  I guess the Mintz are super busy today or something, because Julia really need to devote a lot of time to thinking about them while galloping!  Neither rain nor snow nor wind nor hail nor a sore ankle will get in the way of Julia's Gallop Time!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Madeleine Book In the Works

Madeleine's newest book:

Goddess Friends
Series Septial
By Madeleine Rowe

I was curious why Madeleine decided to write about an invertebrate, so I sat down for a Q&A with the author.

ME: How is she an invertebrate?
MADELEINE: Um...her MOM is a goddess, and so...she was born with no spine.
ME: So how does she move?
MADELEINE: She can still move!
ME: How?  Does she slither like a snake?
MADELEINE: No!  She can walk normally!
ME: With no spine?
ME: So what's the point of her being an invertebrate?
MADELEINE: She's really good at gymnastics and a lot of people just stare at her and she's like, "What?"
ME: What's her dad?
MADELEINE: Um, Hanna's a demi-god, because her dad is mortal.
ME: Is her mom a snake?
MADELEINE: No!  Her mom is a goddess!  I already told you.
ME: I didn't know if she was a snake goddess.
ME: What made you want to write about an invertebrate?
MADELEINE: Well, I think I finished reading my "Goddess Girls" books, so I wanted to write a book about my OWN PERSONAL SERIES goddess friends.

Here's what I gather from that interview.

A) It isn't really actually all that significant that Hanna is an invertebrate, since she can still walk like a normal person.
B) In fact, the only significance of her invertebrate-ness is that she's a really good gymnast.  Which makes me wonder why Madeleine didn't just make her "Hanna the Gymnast Goddess"
C) Somehow, in Madeleine's brain, the logical answer as to how someone can be an invertebrate is because she is the daughter of a goddess.  Goddess parenting = invertebrate child.
D) If she was really a true invertebrate, the story of Hanna the gymnast would be a lot more interesting, because her tumbling/floor routine would consist of a bunch of coiling, sliding and slithering around the mat.  I wonder how the judges would score that.

At any rate, the book is in its early stages, so perhaps the answers to some of my confusion will come as the story fleshes out more.  I can't wait to find out more about this invertebrate demi-god with her crazy gymnastics skills!

Friday, July 7, 2017


Our town is holding a carnival this upcoming weekend, and the girls are wild with excitement about it.  The big event will be held at the High School, and will feature all sorts of rides and games.  We even saw some of the attractions yesterday, as Ethan and the kids dropped me off at my summer band rehearsal on their way home from a swim meet.  I tried to point the attractions out to the kids to no avail; I don't know if it's water in their ears or just a spastic attention span, but both children become selectively hard of hearing at times.

ME: It looks like they started setting up for the carnival already.
KIDS: (silence)

Thirty seconds later

JULIA: Oh, Mommy!  Look, they started setting up for the carnival!
ME: I know, honey.  I just told you that.

Thirty seconds later

MADELEINE: Huh?  What?  Did they start setting up for the carnival or something?

Clearly, these kids are destined to be rocket scientists with their powers of observation.

At any rate, apparently having three days worth of carnival in town isn't quite enough, because the girls have decided to make their OWN carnival at home, too.  They refer to this carnival as "the arcade," and they are busy designing home-made games and attractions.

A few of the finished pieces include:

This skill-based ball-rolling game.  Julia designed this one, explaining to me that in order to win a prize, a contestant must roll the ball down the cardboard plank and get it to land in a designated spot at the end of the plank.  I'm not totally confident that either kid will actually be able to execute this to perfection.

This fortune-teller booth, designed by Madeleine.  There was actually a lot of drama surrounding the design.  Madeleine finally agreed to my concession that she simply leave fortunes in the box for arcade-goers to pick at random.  The initial concept was going to be a lot more complicated:

MADELEINE: Mommy!  I can't find the scissors!
ME: What do you need scissors for?
MADELEINE: I need to make a HEAD-SHAPED HOLE in a cardboard box that my head can poke through!
ME: Honey, I'm not sure that will be very comfortable for you.
MADELEINE: But MOMMY!  I *need* to be there so I can tell people their FORTUNES!
ME: Why can't you just sit behind the box?
MADELEINE: Mommy!  That would just be like, if I was sitting behind this CHAIR or something.  (placing herself behind a dining room chair.)  Can you even see me?
ME: Yes.
MADELEINE: No!  Mommy, if you were sitting on ANOTHER chair, you wouldn't be able to see me!
ME: Then why don't you just write the fortunes down instead of telling them to people?
MADELEINE: I don't really LIKE writing things. I like DRAWING things!

So she drew a picture on each fortune.  That adds even more mystery to the whole process.  It's like tarot cards!  One must decipher the meaning behind the illustration on each piece of paper.  Does the picture spell good fortune, or does it spell doom?  (Knowing Madeleine's artistic style, I'm gonna go ahead and guess doom.)

And then there is this awesome PRIZE Box, containing all sorts of homemade prizes inside:

What might I get for a prize if I win the ball-rolling game?  It could be one of several homemade paper fans, or a Rainbow Loom bracelet, or even a doll-sized pillow that Julia stuffed and stapled together because she doesn't know how to sew.  I for one am excited to see how I do when I attend the Rowe Household Arcade!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July

Happy 4th of July!  Or, as Madeleine, who insists on proper names and terms for everything, would say: Happy Independence Day!

We attended the town fireworks last night, and the kids had extremely different, yet completely typical, reactions to them.

Here's what Julia saw:

Here's what Julia thought:

JULIA: But what if ISIS found out that our town is doing fireworks tonight and they decided to let send up a BOMB with the fireworks?

Here's what Madeleine saw:

Here's what Madeleine thought:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Is it the Grand Finale yet?
ME: No, not yet.
MADELEINE:  Okay.  GOOD.  I don't want it to be over yet because I just LOVE IT SO MUCH!

This morning we attended the town parade, and the girls were thrilled to see many of their class mates, swim teammates, and neighbors out and about.  Some were part of the parade, some were in attendance, and some were out walking or riding bikes.

JULIA: I saw TWELVE people that I know at the parade.
AUNTIE SHANNON: You counted?
ME: Of course she did.

To avoid the hassle of looking for the very limited parking options, we walked to and from the parade, a little over a mile each way.  Not a big deal for us, since we're all fairly used to walking, although Madeleine got herself a cramp on the way home and was an unhappy camper.

ME: Poor honey with your cramp.  We're almost home.
MADELEINE: (miserably) I don't know which was worse.  Falling on the stairs and hitting my stomach last night, or walking with this cramp the whole way home from the parade on Independence Day.

It's a tough call.  Not a good couple of days for Madeleine's stomach.  At any rate, we made it home and she was able to take it easy and cool off with some pudding and ice.  Yes, ice.  She literally just likes to suck on ice cubes.  It's disgusting.

Happy 4th of July Independence Day, everyone!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fun Summer Classes

Our town offers Continuing Education classes throughout the year, and both girls have enjoyed taking classes on school vacation weeks or in the summer.  This summer they are once again enrolled for a week of class, and today was Day 1!  Madeleine opted for a "Fundamentals of Basketball" course, which means she finally gets to learn how to play basketball, and Julia is enrolled in a Creative Writing class.  The classes are at different schools in town, with Madeleine's starting and ending fifteen minutes before Julia's, so Julia and I dropped off Madeleine together before going to Julia's class, and then Madeleine and I picked up Julia together.

Madeleine was delighted with her first day, and told me all about how fun it was as we drove to pick up Julia.

ME: Did you learn anything about basketball that was new information for you?
MADELEINE: Yeah!  We learned that when you JUMP UP and the ball goes in, it's not a slam dunk, it's a JUMP SHOT.
ME: Anything else?
MADELEINE: .....Uhhh....

Well, it sounds like she learned something really crucial, at least.  Maybe she just already KNEW everything else and didn't have much to learn.  She did want to be a basketball teacher when she was in kindergarten, after all.

When we got to the school where Julia had class, we had a bit of a wait.  Some classes got out a few minutes early, and Madeleine grew concerned as to the whereabouts of her sister.

MADELEINE: Where is Julia??
ME: I don't know.  I guess her class hasn't been dismissed yet.
MADELEINE: (leaning in conspiratorially) Do you think they killed her?
ME: Nope.  I don't.

Luckily, Julia's class arrived before long and we headed home.  Today's Creative Writing exercises were in poetry, and Julia shared the three poems she had typed out with me.  

ME: Those are beautiful, honey!
JULIA: Which one is your favorite?

I picked this as my favorite:

JULIA: Why's that one your favorite?
ME: I love all the metaphors.
JULIA: Wait.  I used metaphors??
ME: Honey.
JULIA: (reading the poem over) Oh, yeah!  I did!

Maybe it's sign of an excellent poet if she is able to write in metaphor without even realizing it.
(Or a sign of an inattentive poet...let's just pretend it's the first one though.)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

An Afternoon at the Pool

Today we went to the Boston Sports Club pool, which we joined for the summer as our town pool is under renovation until 2018.  Since we are relative newbies to this pool, we weren't aware that showing up at 1pm was right at the start of a 20 minute adult swim.  Julia was just about to go off the diving board when we were told, so we were moved over to the kiddie area of the lap pool.  When the 20 minutes were up, there was no announcement about adult swim being over, so we were a little unsure whether we could go back to the diving board even though some kids began jumping off.  Luckily, I soon discovered this sign:

ME: Hey girls, see, the adult swim is over at 1:20.  It's 1:24, so it's okay for you to go in.
JULIA: But how do you know??
ME: Well, because 20 minutes have already passed.  Plus Daddy said he heard the lifeguard tell another kid it was okay to go off the diving board.
JULIA: But how could Daddy HEAR him??
ME: Look.  There's kids jumping off.  It's fine.
MADELEINE: But Mommy!  The SIGN!
ME: Yeah.  The sign said adult swim lasts 20 minutes.
MADELEINE: No, Mommy, we CAN'T go in.

Both my kids feel the need to get absolutely affirmation from an authority figure before they do ANYTHING that might be remotely breaking the rules.  And they do not consider me to be an authority figure so it doesn't matter what I say, they won't take my word for it.  Julia eventually realized that the adults were out of the diving pool and a line of kids was waiting for a turn on the diving board, so she joined the group.  Madeleine was still in a panic over the sign.

MADELEINE: No, Mommy, I can't go in, because of what it said on the sign.
ME: What do you mean?
MADELEINE: Mommy.  The part about children under 14.
ME: That's only during the 20 minute adult swim, honey.
MADELEINE: No.  Mommy!  (pointing urgently at the other end of the diving pool)

I looked where she was pointing and saw this:

I mistakenly took her concern to be that the pool was being vacuumed so there shouldn't be anyone swimming until it was clean.

ME: That's fine, honey.  They're just cleaning the pool, but you're allowed to swim while they do it.
MADELEINE: No.  Mommy.  Kids under the age of 14.
ME: Right.  It's 1:25.  You're allowed back in.
MADELEINE: No, but Mommy.  Aren't I supposed to clean?
ME: Huh?

Then I suddenly understood.

ME: Oh, no, honey, it says "CLEAR" the pool, not "CLEAN" the pool.  You don't have to clean anything.  It just means that from 1:00 until 1:20 all kids under the age of 14 need to get out of the pool.
MADELEINE: (utter relief flooding her face) Oh.  Okay.  (trotting off to get in line for the diving board.)

I mean, the kids know that this pool was waaaaay more expensive to join than our town pool, but it's not like I made some kind of deal to get cheaper admission by offering up my kids as cleaning services.  Sheesh.  I'm not THAT mean of a mom!  (Plus I know how terrible they both are at cleaning.  I pretty much would never offer them up because I know they'd be utter failures.)  At any rate, once they were back in the water they were happy campers for the rest of the afternoon.  Next time I know to show up before or after 1pm!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Nutso the Dougnut

A brand new book by Julia, written for her father as a birthday gift.  The author herself reads aloud to us:

That was an exhilarating adventure with Nutso the Dougnut!  What will happen next?  Will someone make him SAD???  Or excited?  Or embarrassed?  Will someone accidentally call him "Utso?"  The possibilities for a sequel are endless!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Two Little Bunnies

Madeleine made up a little song about bunnies a few weeks ago, and it has quickly become a family classic.  Despite its tame subject matter, this song is pretty adventurous, both musically and lyrically.  Not only does it NOT rhyme at all, but it doesn't even really have much of a melody; Madeleine relies on an avant garde sprechtstimme style of singing, rather than a lyrically sung tune.  She even has accompanying hand and/or body motions!:

She has decided that I *must* teach this song to my preschool class.  Not just the words, but maybe even the movements.

MADELEINE: Mommy!  You could *try* having them stand up and act it out.  But...if it gets to be a RUCKUS, they can just sit down and go back to puppets or hand movements.

Excellent idea, Madeleine!  Maybe if my girls ever come into school with me next year, I can have Madeleine teach it to them herself!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Madeleine's Input

Madeleine's input on a variety of topics:

On getting the house ready for a get-together we were hosting with a bunch of friends in town:

MADELEINE: Mommy?  Wanna know the FIRST THING I did when I woke up this morning?  The first thing I did was -- well, I *breathed* -- but then the first thing I did was CLEAN UP MY DOLLS!

I'm glad she cleared that up.  I was worried she started cleaning her room while holding her breath.

On Ethan's birthday gifts from family members, which included a sweatshirt, a piano book, a CD, and homemade books and crafts from the kids:

MADELEINE: Hmm. This year, nobody bought Daddy BEER for his birthday.  I guess maybe they thought he was getting tired of beer.  That's what *I* thought, so that's why I didn't buy it for him.

It's a good thing that the thought of Ethan getting tired of beer is THE REASON WHY A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD DIDN'T TRY AND BUY SOME.  Good thinking, Madeleine.

On Ethan changing his mind and joining us at the pool when he had no interest in swimming:

ME: Madeleine, was it just the highlight of your day that Daddy went swimming with you?
MADELEINE: Mmm-hmm!  (thoughtful silence) Well Mommy.  The highlight of my day was doing GYMNASTICS.  Doing gymnastics at home AND at my class.

Good thing we have Honest Abe here to make Ethan feel extra good about his decision to swim in order to please the kids.  Madeleine couldn't even bother to make his swimming a *tie* for highlight of her day, huh?

And finally, another item from school; Madeleine's input on what makes her sad:

"I feel sad when my mom is sad, when my sister is crabby, when I can't find my stuffys, when I can't have the dessert I want and when I try to take something back that's already been dicided.  That's when I feel sad."

Those are pretty good reasons, Madeleine, and I'm touched by your empathy.  However, uh, not having the dessert you want is kind of not on the same tier as the other things.  Remember that whole video you made about first world problems??

Friday, June 23, 2017

All About Me

As I was going through the piles of classwork the children brought home on their last day of school, I came across Madeleine's fill-in-the-blank reflections on her year of first grade.  Can you tell she LOVED her teachers?  And it certainly wouldn't be in true Madeleine fashion if there wasn't some brutal honesty:

Yes, sorry, teachers, that your math choices just weren't up to snuff.

If I could change one thing about my first grade year, it would be makeing the boreing math choices fun.

She's a tough critic.  Her teachers are lucky that everything else passed muster and that she had nothing but glowing things to say about them as people!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Piano Improvisation

Madeleine decided to give an impromptu, completely improvised piano performance today, and asked me to video it.  Check it out:

She definitely takes after her daddy when it comes to sitting at the piano and improvising on the spot.  Madeleine adds a little extra theatrical flair to her piano noodling, however: she's a born entertainer!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Birth Year Confusion

JULIA: Mommy?  If you were fourteen, would you be born in 2004?
ME: Like, if you're fourteen right now?
JULIA: Yeah.
ME: Well, if you were already fourteen right now, you'd have been born in 2003.
JULIA: But what if it turned in January?
ME: What if what turned in January?  You mean, like you turn fourteen when it's January 2018?
JULIA: No, like...(seeming at a loss for words to explain what she means)
ME: So if you were born in 2004, you'd be 13.
JULIA: But *could* you be 14?
ME: What month?
JULIA: What?
ME: What month do you turn 14?
JULIA: (suddenly evasive) I dunno...

Then it dawned on me.

ME: All right.  Which Mintz is 14?
JULIA: (a self-conscious smile spreading across her face) LILLY Mintz!

Lucky for me, I know Lilly Mintz's birthday!  (This is a bit sad.  I actively can recall the birthday of an imaginary person from an imaginary family that my daughter made up and still imagines about.  I might need to get more of a life.)

ME: Okay.  So September 1, if Lilly was born in 2004: on September 1, 2014, she would be 10.  On September 1, 2015, she would be 11.  On September 1, 2016, she would be 12.  And on September 1, 2017, she would be 13.
JULIA: But what about someone born in January?
ME: They would still be 13.
ME: What is it you need to figure out?
JULIA: I just need to figure out what YEAR Lilly and two of her FRIENDS needed to be born because they're 14 now!!

Sheesh.  She coulda just led with that.  It would have made this whole confusing conversation go much more smoothly.

After the clarification, we figured out that Lilly was born in 2002 and her friends friends with January birthdays were born in 2003.  Phew.  Glad we got that one solved.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Um, Madeleine Drew This Stuff at School

Today, Madeleine brought home all of her writing work from school, including three composition books.  One was a writing journal, one a poetry journal, and the other one was mostly filled with drawings that...umm... probably creeped the heck out of her teachers.

Some of the most disturbing include:

Whatever demonic nightmare this is supposed to be.

Flattened corpse head, angry ogre, and mentally unstable cat-eared girl (who is also growing a mummy out of her head)

Um, these terrifying faces.

The soul-searching spirit of malevolence about to devour an innocent girl.

Just a friendly, helper boy pushing an injured girl in a wheelchair up to the castle of doom.  At least the other girl can walk, so I guess that's why she's going in first.

Oh, fun.  A torture chamber.

And finally:

OMG.  No.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

School Challenge and More

Madeleine had a group project at school called an "Airplane Challenge."  She and several classmates had to create an airplane using five pennies, four paper clips, three pieces of paper, eight pieces of tape, and their own brains.  While Madeleine's group succeeded in getting their airplane to fly, she herself clearly wasn't feeling too confident about their chances:

How did you feel about this challenge?
terrified and maybe even petrified.

Wow.  Those are some heavy feelings for a first grade in-class project.  I'm glad it all worked out in the end.  It's not like they had to design an ACTUAL airplane that people were going to ride on.  The cost of failure would have been a LOT higher in that case.  I guess Madeleine is gonna take her perfectionist attitudes with her wherever she goes.

While she may be afraid to fail on an airplane challenge, Madeleine isn't too worried about being wrong at home.  And Julia isn't hesitant to point out Madeleine's shortcomings.

ME: Julia, look at this! (pointing to an ad in the newspaper about Hamilton coming to Boston)
JULIA: (nearly hyperventilating with excitement) Can we see Hamilton when it comes to Boston???
MADELEINE: Uh, Julia...what know.
JULIA: What?
MADELEINE: Alexander Hamilton?  He DIED?
JULIA: (scathingly) Madeleine, it's not the REAL Alexander Hamilton that sings on the soundtrack.
MADELEINE: Oh.  Is it, like, someone named Hamilton Alexander?

I guess all this time Madeleine thought we had a rare historical recording of in-the-flesh Alexander Hamilton singing hip hop about his current life situation.  Once Burr shot him dead, hopes of anyone ever seeing the musical just flew out the window.

Hmm.  Do you think Madeleine thinks it's really Jesus singing on our CD of "Jesus Christ, Superstar?"  I'll have to find out!