Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mums the Word!

     It was time to decorate outside the house today, so Mommy and Madison went to Lowe's to check out their garden section.  They found some mums, some pansies, and cabbage plants as well, as you can see in the photo above.  Pleased with their selection, the two drove home and immediately got to work outside.

     Madison had to be dressed correctly, of course.  First things first:  she put on the gardening gloves.  You simply can't do any gardening without colorful gloves.  Next, the Dragonboat Festival visor.  She's had that visor since the festival last week - Mommy and Daddy know this because they keep tripping over the thing on the floor!  She also had to have her pink trowel for digging.  She always looks so fashionable, even when getting ready to do some gardening.  Why, she's even wearing her purse! 

     Mommy dug the holes and Madison put the plants in.  The yard looks very nice now.  I think we're ready for autumn!  Next week, we'll head to Burt's to pick up some pumpkins - and Mommy's picked up some items for us to make the perfect scarecrow.  
     Stay tuned - these two will have the house looking very festive soon!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Square Meal

     Madison's learning seems to have accelerated as of late.  She's certainly getting better and better with letters, and she's also identifying colors as well.  Just this evening she was reading a book about a colorful train - the book is called "Freight Train."  As we were going through the different color cars, she pointed to the black car and then her hair.  
     "The two are both colored black," she said with her expression.  Daddy got it.  It is so much fun to communicate with her.  Words aren't often necessary - sometimes an expression will do it.  And sometimes we'll both be cracking up.  Today was one of those days!

     Another thing she's learning is this:  shapes.  Mommy thought she'd teach her the other day about shapes, using pretzels!  

     As you can see, today without any encouragement, Madison made a square and a triangle to show Mommy.  You can tell by her expression that she's working out that the angles on that triangle are all going to equal one hundred and eighty degrees.   
     Next week, we'll be teaching her what a rhombus is by using Cheetos!  Anyway, she's learning her shapes very well.  Good job, Madison!  

     Of course, Mommy also showed her how to stick them out of your mouth like you have large tusks...

     But at least there was a lesson learned.  That meant it was time for the good part:  eating them.  Talk about a square meal!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Here Comes the ABCs

     Madison is definitely wanting to learn the alphabet - and videos like "Here Come the ABCs" are certainly helpful.  Here she is, glued to her television set, listening to the alphabet as interpreted by one of Daddy's favorite musical acts:  They Might Be Giants.

     Daddy has loved this band since the late eighties and has all of their music - and what a delight they started to make children's music.  So far, they have four children's CDs, and three of them have accompanying videos that help kids learn letters, numbers and even science!

     It was a doctor day for Mommy, with our first visit to the oncologist, who gave us an all-clear for Mommy.  Afterwards, we went down to Alpharetta to visit the dentist for Mommy.  She's all done with any more heavy dental work now - it's all just going to be check-ups from this point on.  That's the truth and nothing but the tooth!

     Though we had appointments scattered throughout the day, we still managed to squeeze in some time for fun.  At one point, we visited Goodwill again to pick up some children's books for Madison - and boy did we find 'em!  There were lots of awesome educational books in great condition.  Tonight, before bed, we read them together:  counting books and color books and animal books too.

     We were out all day, but it was a very nice day to be out.  Tonight it is supposed to get chilly... that means fall is officially here!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Scarecrow Festival

     After church today - and after a nap - we decided to head down to Hoschton, Georgia to check out their annual Fall Festival, also known as the place to find the Scarecrow Stampede, home of the world's largest collection of scarecrows.  Last year there were 5,441 scarecrows lining the town - but not quite as many this year.  Still, it was a nice retreat for us as you can see. 

     Here Madison is with the Scarecrow Gang.  I have no idea what the gang's real name is, but these outlaw scarecrows were just a few of many dotting the landscape in Hoschton.  We walked along the town square today, just taking in the scenery and enjoying the local flavor.

     Speaking of "local flavor," we crossed another important milestone today:  Madison's first cotton candy.  At first, she didn't quite know what to make of the stuff - it was pink and looked like like the stuff you fill a teddy bear with.  But then she tried some...and that's when our little baby turned into this dangerous  cotton candy addict. 

     Here she is, about to lunge at Daddy because he's teasing her with the cotton candy.  Right now she's saying to herself, "Give it to me or I'll tear it from your hands!"  We were trying to use restraint, but Madison was not going to let us off that easy.  She wanted that cotton candy!

     As usual, she was given gifts and trinkets from certain booths set up along the town square.  We used the playground there, and just enjoyed walking along - the weather was ideal.  Afterwards, we drove along and saw many more scarecrows lined up along the roads.  Some were dressed in costumes, like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle scarecrow we saw, or this wonderful display we found on the porch of a beautiful old house:

     Evidently, they've found the Wizard at a Bed & Breakfast.  Unfortunately for them, the wind began to switch - the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.  Just then the Witch - to satisfy an itch went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.  
     Obviously, this was not a healthy situation for the wicked witch.

Saturday, September 26th

     Madison really gets rowdy, even if she's in a tutu!  One minute, she's as graceful as Angelina Ballerina, and the next she's like that pro-wrestler Earthquake, pouncing on Daddy and trying to pin him down!

     She climbs all over Daddy and is thrilled when she can take him down - because that's when she can try out some of her new moves like the "Flying Ballerina Suplex" and the "Fairy Princess Piledriver."  

     Mommy wasn't immune today.  As Daddy sat collapsed and defeated, Mommy roamed free down the hallway.  Madison saw her and knew that she had to try to get a saddle on her and go riding!  

     It took a bit to tame Mommy, but once that was done the riding was all smooth on the trail.  You can see here from this photo that Madison was quite content with her ride.  Occasionally, Mommy would try to throw her rider - but we all know who the master of the house is!

     Madison is certainly loaded with energy, rip-roaring and read to go first thing in the morning.  Mommy and Daddy enjoy the horseplay too - and soon enough, everyone stops, exhausted and ready for a rest!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cute Cupid

Here she is, fluttering her way into your heart.  You'd best watch out when Madison draws that bow, because more than likely she's aiming for your butt! 

Yes, this is mischievous little angel has shown a funny side tonight:  we were getting her ready for bed and she had her diaper on, when suddenly she bolts from the room and decides that she wants her little fairy wings on as well.

So around the house our little cupid fluttered, and Mommy and Daddy just knew they had to take a picture.  Here she is, posing for us, balanced on one foot and ready to make someone fall in love!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Apple of Our Eyes

Today we returned to Ellijay for our annual visit to apple country - Madison was very excited about visiting. She kept saying, "apple! apple!" It was funny to hear her, especially as we got closer.

That was one of the first words she ever learned. It was a year ago when we last visited, and Madison got the hang of the word "apple." Here she is in a photo taken one year ago at the same orchard. She's changed so much in one year, hasn't she?

Our destination was Hillcrest Orchard, where there are plenty of apples, of course. But there's also a nice little petting zoo area, where the three of us wandered around meeting baby sheep, goats, chicks, piglets and even a calf. Madison was still a little nervous around the goats. When we went to the Gwinnett County Fair the other day, there was a pig that got a little too close for comfort. She evidently remembered, and was a little uneasy around the goats.

It was easy to get uneasy around the goats: they were nibbling at everything! Madison kept lifting her skirt above her waist and saying "No, no, no!" You see, the goats kept trying to nibble on her clothing. Fortunately, Daddy was nearby to help Madison fend off those naughty goats. She likes animals, but the goats were clearly getting on her nerves a bit. She found safety in a large green tractor that served as a piece of playground equipment - and a place of refuge above the goats.

After a bit of playtime there, she and Mommy visited the baby chicks, where Madison once again got to pet the tiny birds and giggle as they hopped around in their cage. The petting zoo here was nice - it was actually better than the one at the actual Atlanta Zoo. Madison had a good time there, and afterwards Daddy insisted on taking her on a big slide they had set up next to the orchard.

Afterwards, we got our apples in the store and made our way back home. It was a fun day - but it wasn't over yet. Tonight was movie night! We all piled in the playroom with all the pillows from bed. Spreading them across the floor, we all sat down together and watched Toy Story for the first time. Madison was really into Woody and Buzz Lightyear. We'll have to try Toy Story 2 next.

It was a nice evening in the playroom. Of course, we all cracked up when we got to the scene about Mrs. Nesbitt. "Don't you get it? I'm Mrs. Nesbitt!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Visit with the Irlbecks

Today Madison and Mommy went to visit some dear friends, the Irlbecks.  Mommy had worked with them for many years as a nanny, watching their six children grow up.  

For the past year or so, Madison has come along with Mommy to play with the children at their house.  But in August, it was time for all of the children to go off to school.

Mommy was given some thoughtful cards today - and a very thoughtful gift.  She's been with the Irlbecks for nine years.  In 2000, she was hired as their Nanny just five months before we married, working with them all through our adoption journey and all through Mommy's fight with cancer.

It was a very nice appreciation party they threw for Mommy, thanking her for many years of service.  It was quite an eventful series of years, and the Irlbecks have always remained faithful and supportive friends through thick and thin.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gwinnett County Fair

The rain finally stopped today - and the sun came out, making spirits bright.  Daddy left work a little early so we could finally get to go to the Gwinnett County Fair with Madison.  
As you can see here, she got to ride a pony - this was probably the highlight of the trip for her.  This was the sort of ride that took you in circles, but it didn't matter.  Madison really likes being on a pony, and is certainly getting more comfortable in the saddle.  Why, just take a look at her in that photo.  One hand is on the saddle, and she's riding just about as casually as you can get.  Don't let that serious expression fool you - she's having a great time.

Mommy and Daddy took her firstly to the animals, where there were plenty of pigs to go around.  Literally, they were going all around us - which sort of spooked Madison initially.  She was giggling at them later, listening to their oinks in the pen.  But the oinks turned to moos as we visited with the cows on the other side of the showing area.  There were some pretty big cows there, and when leaving, Madison made sure she yelled out "bye" to all of them!

We saw the 4H exhibit again, where baby chicks, calves and ducklings wandered around.  Madison enjoyed watching the ducklings, but she was unsure about the piglets.

Walking around, of course we had to ride the carousel there.  Tickets were a little steep:  nine dollars for all three of us to ride a carousel.  Tickets were a dollar a piece (or you could get a deal, like twenty for only twenty dollars!), but we couldn't see riding too many other rides.  It was just a bit too pricy.  I mean, after all, the carousel at Lakeshore Mall is only a dollar per adult!

Anyway, it was a quick visit, but packed with fun.  Everything was still drenched, as Gwinnett County got a WHOLE LOT OF RAIN yesterday.  Madison was real funny about walking - she'd recognize wet spots in the grass or dirt, and insist on being carried rather than get her feet dirty.  And yet, when she sees puddles in the pavement, she's irresistibly drawn to them!

Afterwards, we stopped at the Cracker Barrel for dinner.  Daddy once again proved that he is not an ignoramus by leaving only one peg left on that peg game.  Madison had to give it a try as well, but her objective was different:  she had to match up all the colored pegs.  We all had a hearty meal, and spent more time than usual in their gift shop:  it was there that we got Madison a few early Christmas stocking stuffers.  We just love those old toys, don't you?

Madison always charms people wherever she goes - and today's visit to Cracker Barrel was no different.  Just for being so cute, she got some free gummy bears from the cashier for the trip home.  Yummy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Imagination at Play

     The rain continues to fall and fall, but it wasn't able to wash away a fun day for us.  Besides, as you can see, there were pets and puppies that needed medical check-ups!  It was time to call Dr. Madison!

     Above, you can see her checking on Spot the dog with her plastic medical equipment.  It is a thorough check-out, as she and other future veterinarians use stethoscopes and even injections to make sure all the stuffed animals are okay.

     Of course, this isn't a real veterinary office - it's just one of the special sections of a neat little place called Imagination at Play.  It's a fun location just down the road from us filled with different areas for young ones to play around in.

     Madison enjoyed playing with the large train set that you could climb into - and she also had a good time at the giant bathtub that blew out bubbles from time to time.  She probably spent the most time at the giant sandcastle, where she could dig and shovel all sorts of sand.  And later on, Mommy and Daddy joined her at the artists easels where she painted yet another masterpiece!

     Later, we visited the Mall of Georgia to eat and walk around a bit, and the rain never let up.  In fact, it grew heavier and heavier - making our drive home a bit scary.  But Madison had such a good time that she slept through the whole drive, standing water, driving rain, loud thunder and all.

      Tonight, Mommy is making her legendary butternut squash soup!  The rain may fall, but we know how to have a great day.  The aroma is filling the house and Madison and Daddy are staring eagerly into the kitchen just waiting for that magic moment when Mommy says those two very wonderful words:  "Dinner's Ready!"

     It's great:  Madison will echo Mommy's sentiments and call out to Daddy, "Eeeeee!  Dadda!  Eeeeee!"  (Translation:  Eat!  Daddy!  Eat!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Little Cupcake

     The rain still poured down - poured like we've never seen it do before.  Daddy is half-tempted to build an ark, and Mommy was tired of hearing the weather radio's siren go off to let us know about flash flooding here or there.

     We've got a great weather radio to let us know about tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings - but when that thing keeps going off at 4:30 am to let me know about flash flood warnings in the next state ...that's when it gets unplugged and the batteries get pulled out!

     Madison slept right through it, of course.  She sleeps through just about anything at night, really.  Only twice since we've met has she gotten up over something serious.

     As you can see in the photo above, Madison has been quite the little chef lately!  She's pictured here making seasonal cupcakes for us - each one with a little pumpkin candy inserted at the top.  Meticulously, she places each one in to make sure it looks just right.  Then later, she gets to eat one, and that's when it gets really fun!

     Today when Daddy got home, we watched Snow White for the first time.  Since the movie is being rereleased on DVD in October, we've been seeing Snow White in the stores and elsewhere.  Madison's eyes were glued to her princess television set, but the highlight had to be the scene where the dwarves go dancing around (and yodeling).  It's a nice extended scene where Madison and Daddy got to dance around the nursery.

     We had a quiet dinner together tonight as the rain still fell.  This soggy forecast has put a damper on our plans to go to the Gwinnett County Fair tomorrow, but Mommy is ever resourceful with activities for the future.  She'd be a great cruise director!  Tomorrow, we're heading to an indoor facility called Imagination at Play.  It's located in Buford, and here's your teaser:  You'll find out more about it tomorrow!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

     Avast!  Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day!  We've been teaching Madison letters from the alphabet this week, and today it's only natural that we tackle the letter ARRRRR!

     It was another blustery, rainy day on the high seas - but we had some fun.  Madison was feeling a little like a pirate already this morning, ordering her crew around.  If we weren't careful, we might have been walking the plank!

Click on ye movie above to hear Madison talk like a pirate!

     Today, Mommy and Madison made the best of the day by decorating pirate cupcakes, and creating a special swashbuckling sword (out of aluminum foil, a paper towel tube, and a coffee can lid).  Madison roamed the high seas around the house with her new sword, making sure to swat Daddy as he came home (and saying "arrr!").

      To celebrate this sacred day, Daddy read her a special bedtime story:  "Pirates Don't Change Diapers," which features a group of scalliwag pirates having a tough time babysitting ("No, you scurvy dog!  You don't acually sit on the baby!").   After reading to her in the rocking chair, it was time to get into our pajamas - and change her diaper.

     Daddy objected:  he said, "But Pirates don't change diapers!"  Mommy disagreed and told him, "That's no excuse!  Change it, or walk the plank!  Arrrr!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Feeding Frenzy!

     Today was a work day for Daddy, but Madison had fun with Mommy in the house and out of the house when it wasn't raining.  Mommy and Madison have fun together all the time.  They learn together, and create crafts together too.  Just this week, we went to the lake again with a bag of older bread.  Madison and Mommy sat on the edge of the dock throwing bread into the lake for the hungry fish.  Boy, were they ready for it!  Madison giggled when she saw the fish come up to the surface to attack the food.  

     It was a pleasant day with Mommy, but every day is like that.  Daddy knows that first-hand!

     This week, Mommy has been continuing to work with Madison on the letter A, although the letter B has been intriguing as well.  Madison has been coloring in sheets with those letters, but Daddy has to print some more.

     She also continues also to work on her horizontal lines.  Here's a photo below of her working on some straight line worksheets.  

     See which hand she's using?  Ba-ba says that left-handed people are smarter, but I think he's only saying that because he's left-handed too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Trip to the Library

     Today was a rainy day, so we used the opportunity to take Madison to the library and spend some time looking for books together.  The librarians brought her stickers and bookmarks while Mommy and Daddy looked into the pre-school storytime reading schedule.  

     Madison picked a few books (she's suddenly into "Maisy" the mouse), while we found a few children's books about fall, and one funny children's book by Garrison Keillor which had us cracking up.  It's called "Daddy's Girl," and you might as well go ahead and put it on Daddy's birthday list.

     While the rain poured outside, Madison explored the library and had to be constantly reminded about how to behave in a library:  "Shhhhhhh!  Indoor voice please!"

     Actually, we were in the children's section - and that sort of behavior, though not necessarily encouraged, is somewhat expected.  What I'm saying is, don't expect to go to the children's section if you're doing intense research for a term paper!  

     We'll be back for the Storytimes, where each week the library follows a different theme as they read to children (and parents).  It was a nice first trip to the library, and something good to do when it's pouring rain outside. 

     Well, we've got some great books if you'll excuse me, we're all going to go do some reading!

Recipe for Fun


Step 1:
First, you get a nice, round bit of pizza dough and put it on a pizza stone. Get yourself some tomato sauce and spread it all over your pizza dough, adding generous amounts and being sure to cover every square inch of the dough.  Try especially hard not to spread it all over the table, yourself, or anyone else standing nearby trying to be helpful.

Step 2:
Next, say "cheese."  Tell Mommy to preheat the oven for 450 degrees and be a very good listener when she tells you to stay away from the oven.  While she's doing that, add a whole lot of cheese to your pizza.  At first, try to make a mountain of cheese - and see how high you can make it until Daddy tells you to spread it out some more.  Don't eat any of the cheese yet - make sure you save it for the pizza!

Step 3:
It's time to add the toppings.  Get a bowl of chopped-up chicken from Mommy and be sure to spread it all over the top of the pizza surface.  Don't forget to keep your hands out of your mouth!  Mommy and Daddy will make you wash your hands again if you start licking your fingers.  So cut it out and I mean it!  Once you've added all the chicken, look at Mommy and Daddy and say "more please!"  They'll know what to do next, which is add more toppings (During steps 1-3, Mommy has been cooking mushrooms and onions for toppings, and is about to put them on as well...yummy!).

Step 4:
Cook for eight to ten minutes and watch as Mommy brings to the table a delicious dinner!  

Bon apetit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Little Pumpkin

     We've been teaching Madison how to use her scissors, and it is a lesson she really looks forward to.  Just look at her expression as she cuts into that orange sheet of paper!  She's using a pair of special scissors for beginners, and seems to be favoring that left hand again.  She uses both, but seems to have better success with the left hand.

     You're probably wondering what she's going to do with all the pieces of orange construction paper once she's made them into tinier pieces... well, we're glad you asked!

     She's making a nice little pumpkin for us - a work of art to hang on our refrigerator.  Mommy got the idea pretty quick, and Madison got into putting the orange pieces where they belong on the pumpkin.  She can get so focused on a certain thing, like using her scissors for example.   

     When she finished, she put it on the refrigerator so all the art critics can come by and take a look.  Just look at it!  Her latest artistic creation is a master stroke!  Just listen to the art critics' bold statements about her latest creation, called "Orange Pumpkin."  

     "If this masterpiece attains it's liveliness through careful placement of this orange mosaic at a conceptual level, a potent dynamism also operates within the composition in her style.  Broad areas are given counterpoint by devotion to fine, rhythmic detail which is more than just glue and construction paper."

     I have no idea what any of that means.  But I think they like it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goody, Goody Gumdrops!

     Tonight, we had Family Game Night for the first time - and it was a candy-flavored blast.  Mommy came up with the idea of playing Candyland, so that Madison could match up colors and even call a few out as she drew the cards.

     Madison sat down immediately and got excited when Daddy started shuffling the cards.  She was into it in no time at all, waiting for her turn so she could find out which color she'd get.  It was no contest:  Madison got to go through Gumdrop Mountain Pass and claim an early lead.  Soon after that, she got the Ice Cream Floats card (everyone wants that card!).

     Mommy got stuck in Gooey Gumdrops, and simply never recovered.  Daddy made a gallant effort at catching up, but the night belonged to Madison, who played like a Candyland phenom.  Indeed, she moved from color to color like a veteran, simply leaving us all in her candy-flavored dust!  

     Needless to say, a good time was had by all.  For those of you with discerning eyes, that is in fact the 1960's version of the game on our table - we like that version over the newest editions with all the nutra-sweet characters all over the place.

     It was a great evening, but soon after her impressive victory, it was time for bed.  Madison quickly fell asleep, no doubt already having sweet dreams.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"E" is for Elephant

     Mommy had a visit to the dentist today (whew, and what a doozy!), so Daddy dropped her off for a few hours, and then went over to Northpoint Mall with Madison for a little bit of fun.  Of course, we hung out at the Disney Store and looked around at Build-A-Bear, but soon we made our way back to the food court where Madison's eyes lit up.  

Oh yes, it was the carousel.  She's starting to like these carousels.

     She picked riding a horse first, but then saw the elephant and thought she'd give that a try next.  It's great how excited she is running around the mall, but when she gets on a carousel, her face gets all serious:  having fun can be a very serious thing.

     It was a pleasant time at the mall with Daddy and Madison - but I wish I could say the same for Mommy.  She had "one of those days" at the dentist, but the good news is that from this point on, all our visits to the dentist will be for routine check-ups.

     Daddy and Madison had lunch together at Chick-Fil-A, where Daddy has to hide the waffle fries in the bag so that she doesn't see them immediately.  That seems to be the only way she'll eat the chicken at all!  Seriously, once those waffle fries pop out, Madison is focused like a laser beam on decimating that little bag of fries.  And Daddy's pickles too!

     After picking up Mommy at the dentist, we all went over to a place called the "School Box" to check out some educational tools for around the house.  They had a pretty good selection of science, math, language arts, social studies - and other materials.  Mommy was looking for a safer pair of scissors for younger hands.  She found them, while Madison and Daddy played around with the train sets in the middle of the store.

     This week, as they used to say on Sesame Street, is sponsored by the letter "A."  Mommy has been focusing on one letter at a time with Madison, and she seems eager to learn a bit.  In fact, we picked up a Dr. Seuss book of the alphabet today as well.  We have a few others related to the alphabet, but Dr. Seuss is a favorite author of hers.  In fact, Madison and Daddy read that together in the car this afternoon.  

     Just yesterday, Daddy printed out the coloring sheets with the letter "A" for her, and a few other things that start with "A."  No, but not "aardvark."  Or "antidisestablishmentarianism."

     Also, Mommy has decided to work with Madison on drawing straight lines.  Daddy has printed out a few unique worksheets that give her a line to trace, that goes from a chipmunk to a tree, or from an octopus to the ocean.  That sort of thing.

CHIPMUNK - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  > TREE

OCTOPUS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - > OCEAN

DENTIST - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - > BIG BILL

      The big question, of course is this:  Is she LEFT- or RIGHT-handed?  We still don't quite know.  She uses her left hand to eat with more often than the other, and yet when she uses a crayon she tends to favor her right hand.  So it's still in the air right now.

     It was a quiet, but pleasant day.  We had dinner at home (Mommy had soup), and afterwards, we watched "Cinderella 2" in the play room.  Didn't like that one as much as part three.  Daddy is getting to be quite the expert on the Disney princesses.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Plethora of Potato Heads

     Here's Madison at play with her Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys.  It's a great tool for learning - Madison knows where to put the eyes, the nose, the ears and the shoes.  She calls out each by name as she puts each part where it belongs.  

     But who are we kidding?  It's fun too.  Mommy and Daddy have been collecting Potato Head parts years before we met Madison, amassing this collection of arms, legs, mouths, noses and more.  We've been collecting these bits so that one day, our little girl could play with the Mr. Potato Head parts.  Okay, you caught us:  It's so we could play too, of course!  Daddy spent the afternoon making Princess Potato Heads and Picasso Potato Heads.  The Pirate ones are good too.

     Down at Disney World in Orlando, they have a variety of parts you can pick up that are related to all sorts of characters.  For example, Madison is holding in her hands a Tinkerbell Potato Head.  A Mr. Incredible Potato Head spits his tongue out at us, and of course, still boxed behind her are a few others, from Indiana Jones to R2D2.  Note:  there's one to the right in an official Disney rain slicker for when it rains!

     On the extreme left is Madison's most recent creation, Mr. Cyber Potato Head.  He's essentially a normal Mr. Potato Head, except his right arm is black, robotic and carries a lightsaber.  Oh, and he's riding on Dumbo.  But other than that, he's normal.

Madison, those glasses are for Mrs. Potato Head!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dragonboat Festival 2009

     Today was the day of the Dragonboat Festival, the annual event that takes place just down the road at Clarks Bridge Park here in Hall County.  Each year, hundreds of people head to the Olympic Rowing Venue to watch and even participate in the dragonboat races to see which team can cross the finish line first.

     The weather was warm, and we used our umbrellas to block out the sun.  Without those umbrellas, I'm not sure if we could have made it through the entire event - the sun was punishing! 

     It is a festival, so there were plenty of tents set up here and there to sell food, t-shirts and prizes.  Daddy got himself a Dragonboat Festival 2009 t-shirt, and got Madison a kite and visor from the event as well.  There were a lot of people there, so many more than last year.  Parking was difficult, but there was a lot of excitement in the air.  Musicians played drums, everyone wore Dragonboat t-shirts and there was a wonderful variety of food there.  Zena had packed us all a picnic lunch to have right there in the stands, which we gobbled up as we watched the rowers race across the lake.

     The races were fun to watch, as usual, but Madison really enjoyed the entertainment planned at the halfway break.  Dancers dressed in ornate costumes performed, fireworks went off, and of course there was a lion dance that was a complete delight (until the bright green lion started getting really close - that was a little scary!).  Madison herself started to dance when she saw others doing their routines - it was so cute watching her join in from a safe distance!

     It was a special occasion, made even more special with the appearance of Aunt Shain, and Madison's three cousins, Hannah, Jonathan and David.  Madison had a huge smile when she saw them arrive just in time to see the racers start again for the finals.

     Here's the neat part:  David was asked to be a drummer on one of the dragonboats.  That's right - he went out there on the lake and beat the drum, driving the rhythm of the oars of the rowers in one of the final races.  And...his boat won!  How cool is that?  I was kind of jealous - but perhaps next year, I'll join up with a Friends with Children from China team to row a boat competitively.  There'll be some training sessions, but this festival is not all about winning or losing.  It's all about the fun.  And today was certain a lot of fun.

Friday, September 11, 2009


It's hard to believe it has been eight years to the day since the September 11th attacks on our country.  Aside from hanging an American flag outside the house today - and thinking about it from time to time - we didn't really do anything in particular to acknowledge the day itself.

Not that Madison would understand yet.  With her though, you can't help but wonder what the future holds in store for this country.

Today was a sick day for Mommy, so Daddy and Madison went off to work together.  Madison had a big hearty meal at the restaurant upstairs, but couldn't help herself when it came to the after dinner mints in a bowl downstairs.  Fortunately, they were sealed in plastic - otherwise, she would have eaten them all.  Daddy had to say no a couple times, but she was like an addict begging:  more mints please!

Mommy is much better now, though Daddy had to take a nap late this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be a busier day, with two big events:  a trip for Madison to the doctor's - and the Dragonboat Festival.

See you then!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So that's where babies come from!

     Today, we made a visit to Babyland General in Cleveland, Georgia to see the home of the Cabbage Patch Kids.  It was a quick drive to my old hometown, and things inside Babyland are pretty much exactly as I remember it.  Which is pretty tacky!

     First, we tour through the nursery, where all the babies are sleeping.  Madison was wired from the moment she entered the building.  So many dolls!  (oops!  You've got to remember that "doll" is a four letter word.  These are "babies!").  Anyway, fortunately she remained calm enough in the nursery not to wake any of them.  Or, at least I think they were sleeping.  They weren't moving much, that's for sure.

     Next, we entered the area of the Crystal Tree just in time to see a Cabbage Patch Baby be born.  This was slightly interesting to Madison - but soon enough she was more into running around the place and moving babies where she thought they ought to be.  Example:  there was an empty bench at the lunchroom scene with food at the table and everything.  Why, that simply wouldn't do!  Madison grabbed another Cabbage Patch Kid off a nearby bench and put in front of the food and proudly pronounced, "Eeeee!"  Which means "eat," of course.

     After that, of course, is the gift shop.  We've inherited a few Cabbage Patch Kids over the years, and really weren't prepared to shell out a couple hundred for another doll (oops!  I mean "baby").  

     It was a really nice day!  We had a fun time at Babyland General, but that's because we made it fun.  Madison, Mommy and Daddy had some great playtime together running around and posing for photos.  Babyland is changing locations soon - after about 25 years or so in this one building.  So this is pretty much the last time we'll probably see this one.  

     But we'll be back to see the new building when Madison is older.   I think she'll be looking forward to it...