Saturday, April 29, 2017

Chicken. Dance.

Full day today!

We started out early with a visit to downtown Gainesville for filming of Summer Xtreme.  This went well, just like last year.  We go over to the courthouse side of things, and there we find quiet and shaded areas that have lots of courtyards and brickwork.  It makes for a nice backdrop.  The funny thing is that on the square, there was a festival.  Not just any festival, but the annual Spring Chicken Festival.

So yeah, we sort of went to that too.  It was involuntary, to be honest.  We were about to leave the parking deck, but were in fact trapped there due to the fact that a parade was coming by.  I am not making this up:  we were blocked by marching bongo players with middle-aged hula dancers and people in chicken costumes.  Followed by a Jurassic Park vehicle playing the "Chicken Dance."  Followed by a few other floats with people in chicken costumes hurling candy out at the kids.

The square was loaded with lots of vendors selling barbecue chicken, and it looked like a fun time for everyone, unless you are in fact a chicken.  In which case, it is probably the most horrific thing you can experience.

We didn't stick around too long, because at 1:00 pm, we had an appointment with Praise in Motion.  Here's Madison in front of the stage, getting ready for the production.

This is our first time getting to see Praise in Motion's spring performance.  They do a Christmas one that we see just about every year, and there is this spring one that we usually find ourselves too busy to attend.  But not this year.  We drove down to Friendship Road, and just a ways down is a new venue that is called, oddly enough, The Venue.

It was a series of dances, some ballet and others not.  But all of them were very nice.  We sat in the third row, and enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish.  It was rather long, but I think that might be because of the substantial intermission, which might be related to the typical line at the women's rest room.  When the performances were going on though, time was not dragging at all.  They were all very good, in fact somewhat of a 'greatest hits' of their choreographed routines over the past twenty-five years.  It was nice to see and share with them.

We left there afterwards, dropped by RaceTrac for our usual Sodapalooza refill (already we're up to six or seven refills), and headed home for the day.  Madison had some piano to do, in fact a lot of it to do.  She played her recital piece another twenty times tonight, and still has a bit of work to do on it.  She's really pouring herself into this, trying to get it right.  It just takes time, and hopefully we'll get it up to speed by Tuesday or so.  We'll see.  The deadline for her teacher is Tuesday, but there's another week after that.

As a reward - and a break - for her practice, we finished our "Pirates of the Caribbean" marathon with a look at "On Stranger Tides."  Now that mermaid theme song is stuck in our heads.  But it was another fun visit with the pirates, and now we're officially ready for the fifth movie when that comes out next month.

We've got a big day tomorrow, wrapping up Neverland.  In fact, Daddy is making some emergency script changes even now, so it's time to go.

"Complications arose, ensued, were overcome." 

- Jack Sparrow

Friday, April 28, 2017

Side Walk

Madison had a hysterical commentary about a sidewalk today.  There was this Bethel Music conference at the church, and Daddy was actually leaving the office with Mommy and Madison in the car.  This was a few hours before the event, but they were setting things up inside, and as Daddy was driving on the road slowly out of the parking lot, there were a few people walking towards the church in the middle of the road.  They weren't crossing it.  They were just meandering down the middle of the road, at which point Madison points out, "It's called a sidewalk people.  Side, as in to the side.  And then walk."  This was hilarious to us!

She's been a bit stressed today, having to do quite a bit of piano practice, lots more than she's accustomed to.  Basically, she's playing "Pachelbel's Canon in D" about twenty times per day, which means she's getting better and better each day, but it also means that by the time we're done with this recital, none of us will want to hear the song ever again!

We did some work on Summer Xtreme today, as well as put the finishing touches on the Neverland series.  It's an interesting configuration with a large cast, a limited amount of microphones (8-9), and a volunteer cast that shifts with vacations, illnesses and so forth.  Fortunately, our Captain Hook and Peter Pan have been very committed all the way through.

As a reward for so much piano practice tonight, we watched "At World's End," which for Madison was her first time seeing the green flash, the Pirate Lords Who Don't Do Anything, and the amazingly unsatisfying and unhappy ending for Will and Elizabeth.  And I suppose Davy Jones didn't have the best ending either, but from what I understand, Will and Elizabeth will be in part five, so we'll see if they use some creative writing to make all those "Pirates" fans like us happy.

It was a good day outside today, although we did a lot of work inside.  Mommy was catching up on the inside of the house, working on cleaning the garage from the yard sale for starters.  We have some gardening work soon, with more mulch and lawn work ahead.  But the best strategy is to do it one step at a time.  Sort of like the piano practice!


Oh boy.  The recitals are coming up soon, and suddenly there's the busy season again.  We've got all kinds of practices going on at home, with our main feature being Pachelbel's Canon in D.  That song is now officially stuck in everyone's heads!  Madison has been a bit behind with this one, but she's practicing it quite a bit.  I think tonight, she did it roughly fifteen times in a row.  Tomorrow, it will be about the same, and Saturday there will be even more because we'll have more time.  She's doing her best though, and that's all we can ask.  She's also supposed to be practicing some ballet moves at home, which is something unique as well.

But just because the Milestones testing is over with, that doesn't mean she's done with school work.  No, she's got a big science project coming up for May.  This year, Madison gets to choose her own science project, and at this point, she's decided to do something with the ocean ecology, perhaps something with the food chains or life cycles.  Not sure at this point, but it was something she kind of got excited about.  Perhaps she's going to be a marine biologist after all?

Perhaps she'll know what to do with errant Titleist golf balls that fly into the ocean.  Anyway, today was a big day for her with dancing.  Daddy stayed in the parking lot, reading this book he's been working on casually for months now.  That just shows you how much time he's had to read lately.  Lots of stuff going on, and we're busy, busy, busy!

Of coarsest there is always time to read before bedtime for Madison, as we continued reading about elements and Descendants.  But she got home from ballet and pretty much ate, and played piano, and went to bed.  Not much time for fun time tonight.  We'll get some more time tomorrow, I suspect.

This morning on the way to school, we left a lot earlier.  And on the way back home after dropping Madison off, there was a tree that had fallen down nearby our house.  Not saying it would have hit us, but it did fall within the ten minute gap that Daddy was dropping her off at school, and on the way back from school.  And since we left earlier than usual, it stands to reason that this might have hit us. Regardless, it was a great teaching moment today, in fact one we were talking about in our college class today, the one Daddy teaches.

Heavy cloud, but no rain.  There were some tremendous thunderstorms just north of us, but once again, we were - for all intents and purposes - dry.  But the weather was overcast at least, and the sun was not that overbearing at all.  It was a good day, really, just a busy one for all of us.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Enrichment Bubbles

After reading tonight - we're still doing "Descendants Return to the Isle of the Lost" - Daddy must have left his shoes in the bedroom.

MADISON:  "Dad?"
DADDY:       "Yes?"
MADISON:  "You left your shoes in here!"
DADDY:       "Do they smell bad?"
MADISON:  "Oh yes!"

We have a funny routine before bed every single night.  I mean all the time.  Every time.  Basically, she's up there brushing her teeth, and she's done washing her face and so forth, and she calls out downstairs saying, "READY!"

So Daddy comes upstairs to look for her.  Because she's always hiding somewhere, and it usually is somewhere different.  Sometimes it is in the bathtub behind the shower curtain.  Sometimes in a hamper.  Sometimes in the towel closet.  Sometimes under the bed, or behind the Paul Revere project she made a while back.  Or sometimes, it is something like this:

This one night she was hiding under the bed, but for emphasis, she had all this stuff stacked up in front of the bottom of the bed.  Or maybe she's hiding over here:

She actually was hiding here this time, but sometimes she'll leave a "trick pile" somewhere so Daddy has to look there mistakenly, and then find her elsewhere.

It's usually pretty funny regardless, this game of hide-and-seek we play each night.  And yes, there is reading, prayer, and zerberts too!

We were filming for SX17 once again today, although this time we were filming the host videos, which are sort of introductory videos for each day.  Rather dull in comparison to super heroes and comics, but they're essential to the whole deal.  We film them in the official studio for Free Chapel, using the nicer equipment, so it all comes out pretty good.

We had to get a few props for this one though, and as it is a superhero series, that meant we got to go to the comic book store to get some props!  We've been hitting the comic book store a lot more recently, especially for the "Poe Dameron" comics.

Madison had enrichment after school today, working on a group project involving bubbles.  That was the best she could do in describing it.  It was a big thing that had bubbles.  Well... I guess we'll have to wait and see on this one!

Oh, wait a minute.  There's something else big that happened today:  SODAPALOOZA.  Already, Daddy has refilled his cup twice.  Yep.  This is the start of the big season of free drinks at RaceTrac, and he got Madison a pink cup, and Ye-Ye his very own red cup.  We're armed and ready to go.  Madison's favorite weapon of choice lately has been the Arnold Palmer half-and-half tea, and Daddy's inaugural drink was the vitamin water, although the slushies are looking pretty tempting!  Madison was so excited to get her cup - it's a big deal.  Now until July 31st, the two of us will have mandatory stops at the gas station for free refills.  It has begun!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Magic Carpets

Leading up to our big recital, the kids in Madison's piano class - and the other classes too - are all filling out a magic carpet shape with their name on it.  They then tape it to the wall, creating a path around the room, one that will lead to Jasmine all the way over there on the other side.

Here's Madison practicing her recital piece.  She's got a long way to go on this one, so the underlying story of the week will be the large amount of practice that she'll be doing whenever possible.  This particular piece is a bit tougher than previous ones, but then again, this is her final big recital number.

It was Taco Tuesday today, and Mommy had a big spread for us set up on the kitchen table when we got home.  This was perfect, because Madison and Daddy were really hungry.  Madison downed something like four tacos!

Homework has been consistent, although nothing complicated or more than usual.  I think things are winding down.  Madison had art today, and she'll have art tomorrow after school again with enrichment.  She's loving that, of course.  She does art at home all the time, so it would stand to reason that trying new mediums would excite her.  Speaking of "new mediums," we found some pottery that we did not sell in the yard sale Saturday, something from Grandma's collection.  It was too nice to sell, and we're glad we didn't do so, because it was signed on the bottom and we looked up the value online.  Sure enough, it'll get us more than a few bucks if we were to sell it.  But we're thinking of holding on to these pieces of pottery - they look nice.

The other thing at school today was a meeting with the speech teacher, who we got to talk with a little.  She told us a bit about phonological organization, suprasegmental aspects, and so forth.  As if we had any idea what she was talking about.  It's one of those conversations where you have a choice:  just smile and nod vaguely, or have a bit of deglutition of your pride.  Yeah, who uses words like that?  Elementary school therapists, evidently.  Before going in to school, you'd best bring a speech therapy glossary with you, because those words fly fast, and your auditory processing might not be able to catch up.  I guess what I'm saying is her prosodic fluency seemed good, but her intelligibility needed a bit of work.  We were hoping for helpful details and strategies, but the meeting wasn't long enough for things like that.  In other words, we'll be working on this on our own a bit.  Madison's speech isn't perfect, and it has a bit to go in order to improve.  We'll keep up the good fight, and try to do some stuff on our own, particularly over the summer.

Tonight, Madison watched "Dead Man's Chest" for the first time, and met Davy Jones and the Kraken for the first time as well.  She loved the movie, particularly the surprise about Hector Barbossa at the end.  That was much the talk tonight before going to bed - she just has to wait about a week to find out what happens next, while Mommy and Daddy waited a year for part three.  Of course, part five will come out soon, and that's the one we're really waiting for, because if there's one thing the pirates movies need, it's some sense of closure for certain story lines.  There are so many loose ends with these movies!

Anyway, we read tonight, prayed, and got Madison in bed at a reasonable hour.  We got up early this morning for that speech therapy meeting, and she's due a good night's sleep.  That, and Mommy and Daddy have their appointment tonight with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."  Hopefully we can stay up late for that.  That 10:00 pm time slot is rough on us!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fire the Pachelbel Canons!

Madison was really proud of her checkers game this morning.  Apparently, she was up against one of the other whiz kids at school, and found an opportunity to do a decisive double-jump that cost her opponent the win.  She was also sure to let us know that she told him "Good game" afterwards, because good sportsmanship is important too.  But it was funny listening to her regale us with her triumphant story of an epic match between intellectual giants.

This is a season where we're prepping for Summer Xtreme, which traditionally means fewer words on this blog.  We just have so much to do with filming and editing and writing and all the other details it takes to make a camp like that work.

We had ballet and jazz tonight, and Daddy had mulch.  This is also a season of mulch, where the car and garage start smelling like mulch.  The front yard certainly does, because bag after bag goes out there, and we have a lot more area left to cover.  I can cram eight bags in the trunk, but we didn't put any in the backseat because of the rains recently.  We use red mulch, and it sort of wants to color everything else red as well.

Madison is practicing her piano, but it's clear she has a long way to go on this.  So we'll have to intensify the practice a bit as we head down the home stretch.   When she finished, we did a bit of video gaming just to bring it down a notch.  Madison created a race track based on "Guardians of the Galaxy," and she called it "Racetrack of the Galaxy."  Rocket and Star-Lord were racing each other, trying to avoid all the traps that Madison put out.

Tonight before bed, we read a few excerpts from "The Price of Freedom," which explains how Jack Sparrow made a deal with Davy Jones, along with a few other things, like why is the Black Pearl black?  Or why doesn't Jack Sparrow tell anyone what his plan is?  Or how did he even get a ship?  Or why is it that Cutler Beckett hates him so much?  Things like that.  The last two chapters are pretty much all you need to read to find this sort of thing out, which is what Daddy read to Madison tonight, in a sort-of abridged version.  She and Mommy liked hearing that.  Daddy read the book some time ago, and with all the Jack Sparrow history going on lately, this was a good thing to share before bed.  Arrr!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quarter Given

Another weekend in Neverland, although things are starting to come to a close.  This weekend, we bid farewell to Wendy for the time being.  Remember, there's no such thing as "Goodbye" in Neverland.  Madison and her fellow Lost Boys and Indians are determined to get to the Jolly Roger to rescue Rufio and Tinkerbell, and a lesson is learned along the way about having faith, trust, and something else as well...

And here's Daddy as a pirate once more, hosting our pirate races beforehand.  We were off to go find Captain Hook, after his humiliating defeat a few weeks ago with all those kids in the audience yelling out, "Tick, tick, tick!"  We had ourselves a bit of pirating today, a theme that continued unexpectedly into the afternoon.  Arrr...

It was a great morning at KidPak, and another great service for the kids.  As usual, Madison was with the audience for the message portion, where Joey shared with the kids a Bible story about Abraham, and about walking in faith, and counting the dust.  Not pixie dust, of course.

In the afternoon, we were cleaning up a bit from yesterday.  Madison is improving with her piano practice for the recital, and we were collecting items for Mrs. Pam's "Arabian Nights" theme. 

We've been reading a lot today, with the latest "Poe Dameron" comics that Madison has to see, but also the elements devotional that Daddy wrote, along with the "Descendants:  Return to the Isle of the Lost" book.  It's a bigger book, so we're doing a couple chapters a day.  Despite that, we'll be on this one for a bit.  Madison got this for Christmas, and we're just now getting to it, due to the binge-reading of the Jack Sparrow book.  But don't worry - we'll pick up with the next Jack Sparrow books soon enough.  After the initial series, there is another book about Billy Turner, and then about five with the Brethren Court.  Madison is very much into the pirates now, so much so that we re-watched the original "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie tonight, and plan on going through the following three over the next month some time, leading up to the one we'll see in theaters. 

One short we watched tonight was something called "Tales of the Code:  Wedlocked," which was an entertaining short that explained a few things leading up to the actual first movie.  It's only about ten minutes long, but Madison and Mommy got a kick out of it.

Speaking of getting a kick out of something, Nana dropped by with some coins this afternoon.  No, they weren't cursed coins.  These were state quarters, and quite a few of the park quarters as well.  Madison immediately went to plug these into her maps she has, the ones with spots to press in those quarters.  Even better, all these were in mint condition, nice and shiny.  It took a bit of time to find each place for each quarter, but she's got quite a few of them now.  It's not a complete collection, but she's certainly well on her way!