Thursday, August 17, 2017

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...we'll have to update the site soon enough... there was some eclipse prep at the school today.  Daddy's getting involved with yearbook staff, and we're still working hard towards "Master Builders" this second week.  Ballet starts next week, and the weather has been very nice - although hot.  Updates coming soon!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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...Wed night KidPak, conversations on the phone, cappuccino, lawn mowers, long meetings... updates coming soon...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let Your Light Shine


Madison did this, mainly because it was the thing she was supposed to be doing for art class.  She didn't get to do her artwork because of a fire drill, which came at the worst possible time:  she loves art.  Still, she created this at home, and we think it came out well.  It was inspired by the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, and as an added touch, she put "Let Your Light Shine" on the bottom.

How blessed we are.  And how lovely are her thoughts, full of peace and hope.  The world is not that place now, unfortunately.  At least that's what is being presented currently on social media and televisions.  Once again there is racial tension, and once again there is a lot of ugliness.  How nice to look away from that, and look towards something sweet like this.  And there's a point to it too, as the world is indeed a dark place.  Yet here is Madison, letting her light shine.

Tonight we returned to piano class, although it was just Madison and her classmates in class now.  Currently, only kids are in there with Mrs. Pam, and Madison said she did well with the new musical selections she's been practicing.  She's actually been doing something more than what she was supposed to, so Madison might be a little ahead of things.  Meanwhile, Mommy went grocery shopping, and Daddy simply stayed in the parking lot of the piano class.

While a helicopter overhead circled.  We're not too far from the town square, and apparently someone showed up on a motorcycle with a gun and possibly ammunition.  Police went to ask this person what they were doing, and that person fled.  Hence the chasing, the helicopter, and several state patrol cars and local city cruisers flying by.  The person was not apprehended.  The thought was that the statue in the middle of town of a confederate soldier was in danger of vandalism, given the state of things today.

Anyway, it was a bit of a nervous situation with a helicopter circling overhead, but with hindsight, we weren't really in danger.  But all of these confederate statues are suddenly targets by people who feel justified by a higher law than the one that exists in our country.


And that higher law apparently allows people to inflict pain and vandalism to justify their cause.  Not that the other side of the argument is clean either.  Having moved from the north to Dixie Land, Daddy was basically a Yankee amongst a sea of folks that people could easily stereotype as rednecks.  But outside of those scary marches on the town square by people wearing those ridiculous sheets, Daddy didn't witness much in the way of racism.  Maybe it was just the friends I found myself amongst.  I remember specifically a KKK march in Madison, Georgia, and our school group there for a talent contest the same day.  I remember acting all manly with a few of the other guys, "protecting" our friend Sabrina.  We were just kids, but I remember being ready for a fight that we're glad never really happened.  We were ready to do battle, I guess just like many others were this past weekend.  Back then, other than coming to gawk at the ridiculous sheets, the other plan of action was simple:  ignore them.  This weekend, a new strategy came out:  destroy them.  Somewhere in between is the real answer, of course.  But people are not humble enough to admit they are wrong, not humble enough to say they are sorry, and just as importantly, not humble enough to say I forgive you.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

We're not humble enough.  And the scary thing is that God has a way of making us humble enough in a real hurry.  That time is coming, we fear.  Until then, we'll let Madison's timely message sink in:  "Let your light shine."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nana's Birthday


Tonight we started a new book, one called "Starry River of Sky."  This was given to Madison last year by teachers as a reward for good grades and behavior, and we simply haven't gotten around to starting it, largely because of all the other books on the waiting list.  But tonight we decided to pick it up and give it a try, and it seems like this was a good choice.  Madison and Mommy were enjoying the first few chapters read before bedtime, as well as the illustrations.  It's shaping up to be an interesting story, with a bit of Chinese mythology thrown in for good measure.

It was Nana's birthday today - Daddy's mom.  We celebrated with a long time spent at Texas Roadhouse, which of course comes complete with a bunch of chanting waiters and waitresses hollering "Yee-haw!"  It was really nice time though - we stayed there about two hours.  It wasn't that the food took so long, it was because everyone was doing quite a bit of catching up.  Aunt Shain and her family were there, as were Nana and Ye-Ye, and then the three of us.  The food was good as always, and it wasn't that crowded either.  So there wasn't much pressure on us to move on.  Madison picked her usual slew of jukebox songs, and we were once again escorted to Willie's Corner.

Speaking of blue eyes crying in the rain, we have had storm skies the last few days, including this one.  The rain poured down again, and the skies looked like a water color painting, particularly at night, with beams of sunlight streaming through the towering thunderclouds.

We got home in time to do some homework, including some optional math homework:  these tiny slips of paper with five homework assignments on them.  Madison does them each night, even though she doesn't have to.  The rewards are Bravo bucks, which are basically the equivalent of redemption tickets at an arcade.  They aren't worth as much, even when you put zillions together!  Actually, we'll see what Madison comes home with.  If it's another nice book, then I take it back!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Return of the Masterbuilders


Here we are with the Master Builders series, and I have to say that this kick-off was amazingly solid. The amount of attention to detail was astounding, including this incredible set that you see above.  It's difficult to see, but within the circle on the stage is a screen that has a projected image on it that changes from time to time.


The kids loved it.  Madison was looking forward to this one a lot.  About a year after the first time we did this one, she was suggesting we return to it, and here we are!


Here's Daddy as Professor Wisenheimer, talking about the upcoming Master Builder Competition that our characters are working hard on towards winning.  Notice the hat he has on - we made that one yesterday.  It has a little sailboat that Madison made out of LEGO bricks on it, resting in some blue LEGO brick "water."


The set is amazing, and even the placement of lighting is pretty cool.  The worship sets this morning were so solid - we have pictures of kids on their knees with their hands raised in worship.  We have a great band, always ready to stop things and make sure that it isn't just a performance. 


One of the props Pastor Lance used was a LEGO Dolphin Cruise ship that Madison and Daddy made a few years ago.  It was really helpful around offering time, as we were showing the power of just one brick and how it all adds up to become something greater.  


And the actors did wonderfully for the skit portion.  It's an ongoing series, so Daddy will have to write something new for the next time.  But this one was just perfect, in that we tackled all kinds of things.  Obviously, we talked about our bottom line, about the Ten Commandments, the blueprints for a good life.


But we also talked about Ole Kirk Christensen, who founded the LEGO company.  His first creation was a wooden duck, which we memorialized with a whole bunch of small LEGO ducks the actors were carrying around.


Of course, we got to show off on the big screen some of the more incredible constructions of LEGO bricks.  And we tackled that age old meme of the most painful moment a person can ever go through: stepping on a LEGO brick in the middle of the night.  


It was a really well put-together service, if you'll pardon the expression.  We spent a lot of time in preparation for it, and it was one of those days that you walk away from, quite content with how things turned out.

The rest of the day was short, with us staying home, resting, doing some piano, and eventually watching another movie. What movie?  "The LEGO Movie," of course.

Tonight, we did finish "The Hidden Staircase," and yes, Mr. Nathan Gomber is our criminal.  He was caught tonight, and Mr. Drew was rescued, having been found in a hidden tunnel.  The day was saved, and by the end of the book, Madison was wanting to read more Nancy Drew.  It was a good story, and she might actually pick up another mystery by her in time.  We'll see.  Eventually, we'll watch that movie with Nancy Drew.  This isn't the last we've seen of her - we tried it out, and sure enough, it was a good book series!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Chess


This is Madison playing her first game of chess.  She caught on pretty quick, for the most part, although repeat playings might help her learn about thinking ahead and of course the basics of which piece does which move.  It's a complicated game.  Play at this level, there's no ordinary venue.  It's the ultimate test of cerebral fitness!

Daddy and Madison were taking a break from our hard work today, which wasn't all that hard.  We were preparing costumes for the new LEGO series, mainly the hats.  We went to Party City, and got ourselves some white trucker hats, about seven of them.  And upon each of the bills of the hats, we glued some LEGO creations:  a car, a helicopter, a house, a snail and more.  Madison and Daddy started out with a pile of LEGO bricks, and just started to create things off the top of our heads, although the snail came from a booklet we saw.  Each of these look great on top of these hats now, and we're really looking forward to the new series tomorrow!

We went to the pool for a bit today, playing catch and swimming underwater for a bit, using the snorkel as well.  Oh, and Marco Polo.  That game doesn't get old to Madison, who shrieks when she discovers that Daddy was right behind her suddenly!  The weather was nice outside tonight when we were in the pool, just right really.

Upon getting home, it was time for popcorn and more of the Jules Verne Fest.  We watched, "In Search of the Castaways," which was a fun viewing for the three of us.  Although you sort of laugh at the fact that the entire trip to South America was pointless as a result of Maurice Chevalier.  Just remember if you're traveling anywhere with Maurice Chevalier, don't trust him.  He's got this happy face and a friendly French demeanor, but he'll lead you so off course, you'll find yourself amongst tribes of Indians on an entirely different continent!  Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, as it usually does for Disney movies.  It was fun!

We went to bed a little earlier tonight, ready for our new series in the morning.  We did read from "The Hidden Staircase" a bit more, getting closer to our answer of whodunnit.  We'll find out soon enough - I think we'll finish the book tomorrow.  Madison is really into Nancy Drew right now, wanting to even read another one soon enough.  

And so, off to bed we go, dreaming of hidden staircases, but watching out for LEGO bricks on the floor in the dark.  Those hurt!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jukebox


Amazingly spontaneous visit to Texas Roadhouse tonight, but it was all based on the fact that - let's face it - sometimes you don't want to make dinner.  We were working late on the LEGO series, and just thought a trip out to eat might be nice.  So we went over to Texas Roadhouse, and as you can see, Madison went to the jukebox.  It's funny that she pretty much has no idea what any of the songs are, or who any of the singers even are.  Since we sat at Willie's Corner last time, we picked a Willie Nelson song, and then Daddy helped her pick a few others.  Basically, Daddy's knowledge of country music is based on the 1990's when he went through a spell of listening to it.  He has even seen Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks in concert during that time.

The idea of a jukebox is a novelty of course.  Back during the 90's, you could still see them with more frequency, usually at a Waffle House.  The one at North Georgia College's arcade was used a lot:  Daddy would always put in Elvis' "American Trilogy," and his friend Danny would put in Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line."  Another favorite on the jukebox there was Tom Petty's "Into the Great Wide Open."  Sure, you could just go to the car and listen to it on CD.  But there was something about putting a song in a jukebox that added even more value to a song.  Yes, I paid for that song, and everyone here is going to listen to it, by gum!

Anyway, today we were working hard on Master Builders prep.  You could say we were assembling a new series today for sure.  That included a late trip to Walmart to look for primary colored t-shirts.  We were over at Goodwill too, hoping to find some primary colored neck ties.  Of course, Madison and Mommy were lured in to looking for different clothing items.  Madison is already developing her own little fashion sense.  Meanwhile, Daddy found a slew of old paperback Star Trek books that brought back all kinds of memories.

Daddy used to read these with his mom.  Nana would read one and pass it to Daddy, or visa versa.  For some reason, we were really hooked on reading these old Star Trek books.  I remember reading a few on the way out on long distance road trips.  These were pretty much the first books I was ever really into reading, as hokey as you might think they are.  From here, Daddy would go on to read other things, and actually start enjoying reading.  So Nana's birthday is coming up.  And some of these might make for a nice part of a birthday gift.

We got over to Dairy Queen just before it closed.  We were out late indeed.  But we got our blizzards, and in Madison's case, a Dilly Bart.  A word about the chocolate-covered cherry blizzard:  nobody makes it right anymore.  There was a consistent way of making it in the late 80's and early 90's.  Even last decade, I could have one served up proper.  There was a manager at the Gainesville location who told me he knew exactly how I wanted it, and boy did he deliver.  But nowadays, it's a lost art.  I miss it.  I tried one tonight, but once again, it wasn't made right.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the same.

Anyway, we got home late.  But that wasn't going to stop us from continuing our adventure with "The Hidden Staircase."  It turns out that Madison is really liking this book.  She's liking it so much that she wants to read some more.  Of course, there's like a squillion Nancy Drew books out there.  I'll have to ask our Nancy Drew expert at the church, and see what one to try next!