Monday, May 29, 2017

Blank Faces

The girls recently re-discovered their books of blank faces, which they love to use to create characters that they give names and ages to.  Julia primarily uses her book to make smiling, friendly, harmless humans like these:

Metty Miles, age 47
(I want to know his secret: not a single gray hair on his head at 47!  Lucky man!)

Ginny Moore, age 12.  6th grade, cluster 5.

Madeleine, however, uses the faces as an outlet to draw the stuff of nightmares:

The unnamed creature of horror who has arms for teeth and exploding hair.

Nothing Nusususus, age 1,099,612
(Lookin' pretty good for a million-year-old!)

Bruc the clown, whose vacant eyes look soul-sucking vacuums of doom.

Yukows Trmps, whose face appears to be melting off and collecting around her neck.

Shudder.  Sweet dreams, all.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Shelburne Museum

On Saturday, the Rowe household, joined by Nana and Gramps, visited the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT.  It was a little slice of heaven for both my olden-days, history-loving daughters.  To start off, we visited the one-room schoolhouse from the 1840's.  For Julia, it was a reminder of her favorite school field trip to our town's Little Red Schoolhouse; for Madeleine, it was a first glimpse of history.  They were beyond excited to sit at the little desks and imagine themselves as 19th century pupils.  Their attire kind of gives them away, however:

From then on, every single building and exhibit we checked out brought joy and delight to Madeleine's heart.  In the Dutton house, built in 1782, Madeleine exclaimed in wonderment over the nooks and crannies filled with beds, cradles, and various antique furniture. In the gallery of old fashioned dolls, Madeleine was enthralled with the dollhouses; that is, until she declared loudly, "Let's go in ANOTHER room because it kinda SMELLS weird in here."

In the gallery of hand-made quilts, Madeleine exclaimed over the fact that "they MOVE!", as visitors could look through various framed quilts on a swivel.  Furthermore, we had this exchange:

ME: Madeleine, can you believe somebody made each of these quilts entirely by hand?  Every stitch?

As we moved on, Nana tried to warn Madeleine against the lodge displaying the stuffed remains of big game and forestry hunting, but Madeleine was bound and determined to take a look.  Luckily, she didn't seem to realize that the stuffed creations were once actually living animals, despite there being an entire room devoted to antlered heads hung on the wall.  The only thing that gave Madeleine the creeps were the bears.  Upon seeing a bear-skin throw rug, Madeleine skittered out of one room, exclaiming, "I'm afraid it's gonna come to LIFE!"  When she came up upon these three behemoths, her reaction was mixed:

MADELEINE: Aww!  They're so furry and CUTE, and (suddenly backing away with increasing panic while still talking) uh, okay, uh -
ME: You scared?
MADELEINE: Uh, KIND of - (scampering out of the building)

We also got to go aboard the ship Ticonderoga, and explore every area of ship, from the kitchen to the engine to the sleeping and dining quarters to the decks to the steering wheel.  Julia and Madeleine were particularly excited to pretend to captain the ship:

As you can see, one must suspend her disbelief to imagine she is really steering the ship out at sea, unless we are pretending the sea is made of grass and concrete, but that didn't deter these kiddos!

The only area that bored Madeleine was the old apothecary, or, as she put it, "Everyone's just, like, looking at empty bottles and stuff."  So while she and I hung out outside the building, we planned our next destination.

MADELEINE: Julia got to pick the schoolhouse and everyone else had a turn to pick where we went, and I didn't get a turn!
ME: What would you like to look at next, honey?
MADELEINE: Uh, let me think.  I know!  The JAIL, because I've ALWAYS wanted to see what a jail looks like and I've NEVER gotten to see one!

Now that is something to aspire to.  Off we went.  Madeleine even got to play prisoner, though she was not a fan of the rock-hard bed in her cell:

Our final stop was the Round Barn, which was full of horse-drawn carriages and sleighs.  Julia enjoyed perusing the various carriages, but Madeleine was too busy pretending to be a spirit who haunts the round barn to really pay much attention to the display.  She did manage to work one of the carriages into her ghost story, however.  

ME: So, are you a spirit from the olden days who used to ride these carriages?
MADELEINE: Yes.  I was in that carriage there, and there was traffic.  MUCH traffic, and the carriages weren't even MOVING, and we were stuck for DAYS with no food, so...I died.

She then inducted me into the spirit world to help her haunt the barn, and asked my back story.  Mine was a lot more boring than hers.

ME: Uh, I used to work at this museum, and then I got really old and I died.

Madeleine didn't care how lame my back story was, however.  She was just thrilled to have another spirit join the game, even though I just sat in a chair while she hid behind wall-hangings and in corners in wait of someone from her family to jump out at.  It was enough for her to occasionally run over to me and talk to me about her happy hauntings.

We hit the gift shop before we left the museum, and both girls got completely appropriate historical relics to take home: Madeleine got Silly Putty and Julia got Mars Mud.  Suddenly we were out of the olden days and into an intergalactic future in which Julia the Martian was playing all kinds of sneaky pranks on Madeleine, including turning Madeleine's mother (played by me) into a pig.  At one point, Madeleine ran up to where I was hanging out in bed to ask me a question, informing me that I had to answer like a pig.  Madeleine found my pig snorts acceptable and went running back to Julia.

MADELEINE: (in a faux British accent) I asked Mommy's permission, and she said yes!
JULIA: (in her faux Martian voice, which sounds more like a an Eastern European accent to me) How do you knows what she said?  If she's a pig, then she can't talk!
MADELEINE: (in a faux British accent) She snorted twice.  That means "yes."  I took pig classes.

Thankfully, I am no longer a pig, though the Martian game continued through much of our drive home.  The Rowe family is now back in the Rowe household and hoping to milk our one last day of the long weekend before it's back to the grind of work and school on Tuesday!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Honors Chorus Concert

Last night was Julia's Honors Chorus concert, and Madeleine, Ethan and I went to hear it.  Because the Honors Orchestra and Band performed first, Madeleine spent the early part of the concert drawing pictures of girls on her program and whispering to me about who the girls were and what they were doing.  I was trying to pay attention to the concert so I didn't catch much of what she said, but I do remember that two of the girls were twins but they were TOTALLY different.  One of them wanted to be famous and be, like, a DIVA, and the other one just wanted to be herself.

Madeleine gave the chorus her full attention, however, and, instead of using her program for reference, opted to try and guess the title of each based on the lyrics.

MADELEINE: (whispering) Is this one called "Go Back in the Fire?"
ME: It's called "Turn The World Around."
MADELEINE: (whispering) It should be "Go Back in the Fire."

Speaking of, the above-mentioned song was so catchy that Madeleine and I both had it in our heads for the rest of the night.  Check it out:

Julia and one of her best friends took a bit of objection to the lyrics of this song, so it's not just Madeleine's imagination that a predominant theme is "go back in the fire."

JULIA: So, me and Lily were like, it says "we come from the fire."  If you were born in a fire, you'd burn, and if you were born in the water, you would drown, and if you were born on a mountain, well, on a mountain you can reach dangerous levels of low oxygen if you go high enough, so, it doesn't really sound that great.

I think there's a line in the song later on down the line that explains the symbolism of the fire, water, and mountain, but I kind of agree with Julia and Lily.  That line comes far enough into the song that your first and lasting impression is of pure and innocent children's voices condemning us to the fire, in jubilant calypso style.  Still, majorly catchy song!  Still in my head this morning!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


While cleaning up around the house today, I came across another drawing of Madeleine's under a pile of other things on the dining room table:

ME: Madeleine, what's this picture?
MADELEINE: Oh.  She has to choose between her FRIEND, or...something else.
ME: Or lava?
MADELEINE: No.  Something else.  But if she doesn't choose her FRIEND, her friend falls into the lava.
ME: Oh.  Yikes.
MADELEINE: Yeah.  And she has to choose QUICKLY, because her friend's SPIRIT is fading out of her.
ME: Oh.  Wow.
MADELEINE: She's like this FASHION girl - well, not exactly, but...yeah.  She's a fashion girl.  And she knows that her friend...well, like, she has to choose between her friend or fashion and family, and she's like, "can't I choose BOTH?"
ME: So can she choose both?
MADELEINE: No.  But she finds out a WAY to.  She's like, "my family and fashion," but the square is gonna disappear soon, and she finds out a way to jump OFF the square and grab her friend, and the hands that are holding her friend will go back into the place that they're controlled.

That's a lot of back story for this picture.  Wasn't expecting it to be so detailed.  I guess I should have known better; it IS Madeleine, after all.  I'm glad the fashion girl figured out a way around the terrible choice she had to make.  I totally wouldn't put it past Madeleine to have continued this story with the friend falling in the lava, complete with pictures of her burning and mutilated skin.

Monday, May 22, 2017

First World Problems

The other day, I had a talk with Madeleine about First World problems, after she had a melt-down because she WISHES she hadn't gone to her friend's birthday party and had pizza and cake because now she wants ICE CREAM and waiting for tomorrow is TOO LONG.

Thankfully, it seems the discussion stuck with her, because she referenced First World problems this evening while she, Julia and I were talking.

MADELEINE: Mommy, you NEVER act spoiled around me and Julia.
ME: Well that's good.  What *do* I act like?
MADELEINE: You act like a mom!
ME: What does a mom act like?
ME: I don't know.  You girls have an awful lot of complaints about things I do.
MADELEINE: Oh, Mommy, we just complain about FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.
JULIA: What are first world problems??
ME: Well, we live in a Fir-
MADELEINE: Wait!  Wait!  Wait!  I wanna tell her!

Here's the explanation:

Did she nail that explanation or what?  I especially like how she referred to "Full House" to help make her example.  Describing a First World problem while referring to a luxury like television makes the whole thing super meta.  Very crafty, Madeleine.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Tire Swing

Discussion on the drive home from church, about Julia's favorite playground in town.

JULIA: You know what stinks?  They took the tire swing down at the playground!
ME: They did?
JULIA: Yeah!  I was thinking, maybe it broke, or maybe too many kids were fighting over it so they decided to take it away.
MADELEINE: Or maybe somebody THREW UP on it.

Leave it to Madeleine to come up with the grossest solution.

JULIA: No, because if someone threw up, wouldn't they just CLEAN it?
ME: Maybe it was making too many kids nauseous so they had to take it away.

Apparently Madeleine's throw up suggestion wasn't off-putting enough, because she then decided to take this to an even darker place.

MADELEINE: Maybe an animal touched the tire swing and then the animal, like, DIED and they thought the animal was POISONED so they took it down.
JULIA: Uh, Madeleine.  I don't think THAT'S what happened.

I honestly don't understand how Madeleine's brain works.  The most logical explanation in her mind is that the tire swing has been tainted by the touch of a poisoned animal?!?  Yeah.  Makes perfect sense.

I guess that's about what I should expect from a kid who manages to make cupcake eating into an exercise in face-painting:

ROCKING the fudgey mustache and goatee look!  Fashion forward!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Evening in the Rowe Household

The kids really wanted to do a family activity this evening, but Madeleine's inexplicable melt-down about I don't even know what caused a major delay.

This is about as well as I can relay the melt-down:

JULIA: Can we eat dinner outside?
ETHAN: Sure.
MADELEINE: Wait!  I better get my sunglasses 'cause it's pretty sunny out!
ME: I'm afraid I'll be cold out there so I'm eating inside.
MADELEINE: (running outside to join the others)
Thirty seconds pass

MADELEINE: (coming back inside and hiding under a blanket on the couch)
ME: What's the problem? (going to the couch and pulling the blanket down off her face)
MADELEINE: (tears filling her eyes) I *wanted* to go outside, but I CAN'T, because there's nothing I can do!
ME: What are you talking about?
MADELEINE: I already ate dinner at the birthday party I was at so there's NOTHING I can do!
ME: You can have some of the dinner Daddy made too.
MADELEINE: No, I don't really WANT chili.
ME: Okay.  Then you don't have to eat it.
MADELEINE: But I *can't* do anything outside!
ME: What do you mean?
MADELEINE: The ONLY thing I wanted to do, I *can't* do!
ME: What is the only thing you wanted to do?
MADELEINE: Climb up on a very specific deck railing.  And do gymnastics.
ME: Yeah, you're right, you can't do that.
MADELEINE: (crying anew)

When the lengthy melt-down, which lasted through several different rooms of the house and several different family members trying to reason with Madeleine, finally ended, we had only a tiny window of time for a family activity.  So we played a fun game of family Wii bowling, and then I announced it was time for bed.

I was all, okay, it's time for bed, and the girls were all, nope.  Without even saying a word, they managed to convey their utter dismissal of my bedtime announcement merely through actions.  Here's a peek:

Not that Madeleine would be able to sleep with Julia's heavy hippo-foot poundings as she gallops and thinks about the Mintz.  Madeleine isn't even bothering with bedtime yet anyway because she's writing in her school journal.  Because clearly me announcing bedtime means "everyone just ignore me and do something else you feel like doing instead."

I'm going to apply this approach next time the kids ask me for something, and we'll see how they like it then.  Can't wait to see Julia's reaction when she tells me she's ready to go to swim team and I start thump-galloping through the living room in response!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Chaperone Duties

Madeleine has a field trip coming up in a few weeks and I have volunteered as a chaperone.  Clearly, Madeleine doesn't realize the level of expertise I have as a field trip chaperone, because she has decided to become my backseat driver.

MADELEINE: Hey.  Mommy.  What's that?
ME: It's a letter for the chaperones.
MADELEINE: Can I see it?
ME: Why?  It's just telling me what I need to do for the trip.
MADELEINE: I just wanna read it.
ME: Okay.  But make sure you give it back because I'll need all the details.
MADELEINE: (taking the paper and beginning to read) The buses are leaving at 9:15.
ME: I know.
MADELEINE: (reading further, then looking up at me to read aloud) "It would be great if you could get here by 9:00."
ME: Yup, I know.
MADELEINE: Wait.  But Mommy?  Do you know where my classroom is?
ME: Nah.  It's not like I came to your Readers' Theater performance or your 100th day party or to be a Mystery Reader twice.
MADELEINE: (totally not getting the sarcasm) Wait.  Mommy!  You *did* come to my performance!
ME: I know.  That's why I said it sarcastically.  Because how could I have come if I didn't know how to get to your classroom?
MADELEINE: (still not getting the sarcasm) Wait.  AND you came to my 100th day party!
ME: Right.  And I was Mystery Reader twice.  So don't you think I know how to get to your classroom?

Clearly, Madeleine still wasn't willing to trust me on this crucial front.

MADELEINE: Wait, I know what you could do.  If you *didn't* know how to get to my classroom, you could, like, just go to the desk in the OFFICE, and say you need to find the room where my teachers teach.
ME: Okay.
MADELEINE: Well, actually, we also have a ROOM NUMBER.  So you could ask how to get to our room number.

I guess she's really worried about me finding her classroom.  It's a good thing I have Madeleine to remind me what time the buses are leaving, what time to be there, and what to do should I suffer a sudden memory lapse and become unable to find her classroom.  I'll let you know how it goes in couple of weeks.  Will it be a success, or will I be an utter failure at finding the classroom at the right time and boarding the bus with the kids??

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Class Performance

Today I attended Madeleine's Class Performance, featuring songs, recited poems, and Reader's Theater.  Madeleine put her acting chops to work as she read her lines with her classmates:

Mystery SOLVED!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Madeleine has been SO excited to give me my Mother's Day present, she has been begging to give it to me early.  And if I had known what it was, I probably would have accepted it early as well.

She even woke me up before I planned to awaken this morning to burst out, "Happy Mother's Day Mommy!  Wanna know what your present is?"  At that point Ethan scrambled over to pull her out of the bedroom.

A little bit later, when I sat down to eat some breakfast, Julia presented me with a book of poems she had written, and Madeleine was summoned to FINALLY give me her gift.

MADELEINE: Okay, Mommy, are you ready for your present??
ME: Sure!
MADELEINE: Okay.  It's...(pausing for suspense) A day of RESPECT!
ETHAN: Wait a minute.  I asked her if she was all set with a gift for you, and she said yes.  Madeleine, can I ask you something?  Do you think it's a good idea to give mom a PRESENT out of something that you should just be giving her every day out of human decency?

I mean, hey, I'll take a day of respect now rather than never, so don't blow it, Ethan!

And I have to give Madeleine credit: her behavior has actually been completely compliant today, even when it was time to get ready for church (a time at which she usually melts down crying because she NEVER gets enough time to do the things she really wants to do, like watching the next episode of whatever show she was just watching.)  In fact, she is perhaps taking things a little TOO far to the compliant side.  While we settled in to watch a family movie together, Madeleine brought all her American Girl dolls in for the viewing.

MADELEINE: (speaking to one of her dolls) Okay, Jane, if you don't want to watch this movie, you don't have to.
ME: I really think that Jane looks like her name should be "May."
MADELEINE: But doesn't she look JUST like a "Jane?"
ME: She looks like a "May" to me.
MADELEINE: Well, she looks exactly like BOTH names.  (thoughtful silence) Well, it IS Mother's Day.
ME: Honey, you don't have to change the name of your dolls just because it's Mother's Day.
MADELEINE: (visibly relieved) Okay.

Maybe I should've had her change her doll's name.  I mean, I only have the one day to get respect, right?  Gotta milk it for all it's worth!

Happy Mother's Day to my mom readers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Talent Show

Well, Ethan and I had to miss tonight's school talent show, since we were singing in our own concert, but I'm lucky enough to have Auntie Shannon around!  Not only did she attend the talent show with Madeleine, but she took a video of Julia and her friends singing along to "The Schuyler Sisters" from the Hamilton soundtrack:

BRAVO!  Uh...I mean...WORK!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Writer's Workshop

From Madeleine's Writer's Workshop, the story of her birth:

"I was being born.  I wasent moving, I was sleeping.  I had no hair.  I was only skin.  Ther was an atachment on my belly-button."

"They couldent get me out becuse I fliped riht side up.  They had to cut mommy's tummy open.  It realy hurt her.  She didin't take the not feel anything medesen."

"She was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy wehn I was born!"

Yes, so, that is the Cliff's Notes version of my emergency C-Section with the anesthesia only partly working.  I think it pretty much covers all the important basics, so I doubt you (or Madeleine's teachers) have any lingering questions.

Monday, May 8, 2017


Madeleine wanted to write a collaborative poem, and she came up with the title: Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Then she and Julia and I put together the MOST AMAZING POEM on earth, complete with questionable rhyme scheme:

Let me tell you.  We are poets, and we TOTALLY know it!

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Another classic Madeleine drawing:

I don't know WAHT it is about this picture, but it sure creeps the heck out of me.

Maybe it's the fact that these faces are drawn with such detail as to show teeth and eyebrows, but don't have any bodies.  I mean, we all know this is not the first picture of Madeleine's showing disembodied floating heads, but there's something EXTRA SPECIAL about this picture.

I think Madeleine's dialogue bubble perfectly sums up how I feel when I look at this drawing.


Thursday, May 4, 2017


Julia taught herself a valuable lesson today: don't attach a window suction cup to your forehead unless you want a perfectly symmetrical circle of broken blood vessels smack in the middle of your head:

Julia was reeling with embarrassment upon discovering this decorative facial mark, and took to hiding under her covers.  This all happened while I was with Madeleine at swim and Julia was home with Ethan, and my return produced a hysterical sobbing melt-down from Julia.  I put some cover-up on the spot to try and reassure her but it didn't do the trick.

JULIA: I can't go to school tomorrow!
ME: Well, you have to, because you have MCAS tests.
JULIA: I'll just take the make-up tests next week!
ME: You are not taking make-up MCAS just because you decided to put a suction cup on your head.
JULIA: (bursting into hysterical sobs)

Nothing could console Julia, though we all tried.

MADELEINE: Julia, it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it's what's on the INSIDE-
JULIA: (throwing the covers back over her head and bursting into hysterical sobs)

ME: You can just wear a bandana or a headband over your forehead tomorrow.
JULIA: But I don't like the way that looks!
ME: But you'd rather look like this? (pointing to her forehead.)
JULIA: (bursting into hysterical sobs)

AUNTIE SHANNON: Should we cut bangs?
JULIA: (with rising panic) NOOOO!!!!! (bursting into hysterical sobs.)

Okay.  Heard you loud and clear.  That's a no on bangs.  And headbands.  And inner beauty.

Luckily, she can wear her swim cap at her own swim practice tonight so she is somewhat calmer.  She is still convinced that everyone is going to call her "Grape-Head" tomorrow at school, but my guess is that everyone will be too focused on MCAS to really care what Julia's forehead looks like.

And hopefully this serves as a warning to all you blog-readers: thinking of attaching a suction cup to your forehead?  Suuuuper tempting, I know, but totally not worth it in the long run.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Fight Over a Broom

Among Madeleine's many current obsessions is the American Girl book and movie, "McKenna Shoots for the Stars."  In this story, McKenna is a young gymnast who breaks her leg in a balance beam injury and spends nearly the rest of the story on crutches.  Naturally, Madeleine is spending a lot of time in a pretend cast, using a broom from our broom closet as a crutch.  In a situation similar to when Madeleine went through her "Worst Witch" obsession, Ethan and I now find that when we go to get a broom to sweep something up, we can't actually find one in the closet.  Usually a quick search of the play room or Madeleine's bedroom will suffice in locating the borrowed broom, which is a little inconvenient, but whatevs.  Today I discovered that, despite the fact that she doesn't lift a finger to sweep or vacuum, Julia has reached the point of NO TOLERANCE for Madeleine's broom shenanigans.

MADELEINE: (coming upstairs after doing gymnastics moves on her painter's tape balance beam)
JULIA: What are you doing?
MADELEINE: I need to get something (going to the broom closet)
JULIA: Madeleine. You do NOT need to get the broom to use for a crutch.
MADELEINE: Yes I do!  Julia.  I just hurt myself on the balance beam.
JULIA: (snidely) Then get some ice.
MADELEINE: No!  Julia.  I need something to lean on because I can't WALK on this leg.
JULIA: Madeleine.  You do NOT need a broom.  If you hurt yourself, get some ice.
ME: (from the other room) Julia, come on.  She's pretending.
JULIA: But Mommy!  I'm SICK of her pretending to need crutches!  She's just doing it for ATTENTION!
ME: So what.  She's obsessed with McKenna right now.
JULIA: No she isn't!  She's OBSESSED with broken legs and needing CRUTCHES!
ME: That's because of McKenna.
JULIA: Madeleine!  You do NOT need the broom!
ME: It's fine Julia.  Just let her pretend.
JULIA: No!  Mommy!  She's just trying to get ATTENTION by pretending she has a broken leg!
ME: Honey, just let her pretend.  It's not hurting anyone.
JULIA: But Mommy!  She CAN'T just keep taking the broom every time she wants to pretend she has a BROKEN LEG!
MADELEINE: (taking the broom and hobbling back to the play room with it.)
JULIA: (letting out an angry, dramatic sigh) Now she RUINED my mood for GALLOPING! (going into her bedroom and slamming the door.)

Yeah Madeleine.  You RUINED Julia's galloping mood.  Seriously.  How is Julia supposed to think about the imaginary Mintz family and pretend they're doing things while Madeleine is simultaneously thinking about the imaginary McKenna and pretending she's doing things?!?  Don't you know that only one kid at a time can be lost in a pretend imaginary reverie?  Sheesh.  Get it together, kids.