Saturday, October 31, 2009

This is Halloween

Today was Daddy's birthday, and he was treated like the Mayor of Halloweentown! A lot of messages on the phone and a lot of e-mails came pouring in, but we did much of our celebrating earlier. In fact, yesterday was all the birthday present Daddy needed when watching Madison have such a good time trick or treating.

Today was a work day for the most part, and all three of us went to the church to prepare for our upcoming series, "Weird Science." Only later in the day did we all go out to eat together. Daddy picked the restaurant because it was his birthday - so we visited Oriental Garden 2 (don't ask me where Oriental Garden 1 is!).

We ate a nice meal, and watched as costumed children poured in to the restaurant to collect candy from the owner. He's a nice guy, and we always have a pleasant time there. Madison enjoyed the soup - Daddy was a little nervous, but Mommy reminded him that it was the only way she'd learn. She did okay with the big soup spoon. She did even better with the cake she got later!

They brought out little cakes for us and sang Happy Birthday as Daddy opened his fortune cookie. It read: "luck is with you the rest of the month." That's like what? Four hours?

Earlier today, Madison said her first three-word sentence. It was: "More please bubbles." It sounded like that anyway. Daddy had turned on a bubble machine for her, and Madison was thrilled to watch these fog-filled bubbles fall down from a table. She chased after each one, trying to pop it. When Daddy shut the machine off, she said her sentence and we had to put it back on. She used good manners, after all!

We had a fun moment where Madison was pushing Pastor Franklin around downstairs. One of his daughters caught it on film with her cell phone - hopefully we'll be able to post that soon. It was cute, of course. She's the center of attention wherever she goes!

Here's a great gift: Mommy just called and said we all get an extra hour's sleep tomorrow: it's Daylight Savings Time!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat!

     It doesn't get much better than this as a parent.  Tonight was one of those special moments where we could take Madison on a journey to a wonderful place where she got tons of free candy from complete strangers!  She was so cute, she didn't even have to say "trick or treat!"

     Tonight, we met up with Aunt Shain, David Austen, Jonathan, and Hannah to do some trick or treating over at Discover Mills.  What a great way to do Halloween.  It used to be that we'd tromp around in costumes in the cold, and sometimes rain.  Nowadays, children can storm the malls for candy, all in a well lit, warm, and safer environment.  You can say "they didn't earn their candy like we used to," but I'll take a walk through the mall over a journey through dark, cold and possibly wet neighborhoods any day.

     Bless Hannah.  She held hands with Madison throughout the entire mall, helping her get up to the people giving out the candy.  There were a lot of kids there, some with very creative costumes.  But at times there were just about too many kids - and it was good to have someone's hand to hold.  Madison really likes Hannah, and thanks to her she had a great evening.

     Madison got the hang of trick or treating pretty quick.  What a strange custom this is:  free candy from everyone!  She carried her plastic orange pumpkin around with her everywhere, gradually filling it up.  Those who were foolish enough to allow her to reach in and take whatever candy she wanted realized too late that Madison's hands were bigger than they appeared!  She grabbed a lot of candy tonight!

     As the evening wore on, you could tell she was getting a little tired.  Daddy pushed a stroller along, and Madison climbed in for the last part of the trip around the mall.  Soon, we left Discover Mills and hopped in our cars to go trick or treating at a very special house.

    It was quiet on the way there for most of the journey, until the sugar kicked in, I guess.  All of the sudden, Madison burst out with all sorts of funny noises in the back seat and making everybody laugh!  She had a serious sugar rush!

     Yes, we don't do this too often.  But tonight was a night of free candy - and we weren't done trick or treating yet!  We met at our house, and together marched over to Ye-Ye and Nana's house and rang the door bell:  trick or treat!

     In we all went for a fun time together.  Sure, there was free candy - but it was nice to hang out with the family as well.  David showed off his video of his latest band performance, Ye Ye let Madison climb all over him, and Nana snuggled up with everyone as we plugged in the latest Ice Age Movie.

     It was a great night out, and over all too quickly.  There was talk of going to another mall tomorrow, actually on Halloween itself, but we'll see...tonight we certainly had enough fun to make this year's trick or treating experience one of the most memorable I've ever had.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

     This morning was our big chance to carve a pumpkin this year, so Daddy showed Madison how it was done.  She was really into it - especially the initial part where we pulled out the pumpkin's guts!  Daddy carved the lid out just right, and rolled the pumpkin on its side... and then we reached in there and discovered....uh-oh!  What is that stuff?

     Ewwwww!  Madison helped Daddy pull out all the yuck from inside the pumpkin.  Each time, together we said, "ewwwww!"  We said this over and over and over and over again, too!  That's because there were a lot of guts inside this pumpkin.  There was a lot of stuff to remove, including seeds, which Madison now says pretty well.  Mommy got the seeds and is right now cooking pumpkin seeds for us later...yummy!  We can't wait for that!

     You can see in this picture that she has her hair pulled back and is really getting into it, large spoon in hand.  She kept saying, "dig" as she scraped the insides and helped Daddy get that pumpkin nice and clean.  She was reaching deep, and together we got everything out so Daddy could start carving. 

     Last year, we carved Winnie the Pooh  on our pumpkin - but this is the year of Minnie Mouse.  Madison watched Daddy carve his pumpkin slowly but surely.  It took some time, and Madison was helping out frequently by pointing things out:  "Nose!"  "Ears!"  "Eyes!"  "Mouse!"

     When Daddy finished, it was still daylight out.  We went to work for a bit this afternoon, but when we returned, it was time to light the pumpkin!

     Daddy put a candle inside it just before dinner.  We shut off all the lights and finally got to take a look at Minnie and see what she looked like.  Madison enjoyed that very much - she insisted that all the lights go off in the house immediately.  Even the ones down the hallway!

     We'll put this pumpkin out on the porch soon, and tomorrow we'll be sure to take a photo of our little Minnie Mouse sitting next to the pumpkin.  

      But for now, we were hungry - it was dinner time!  With our pumpkin there on the table, we got ready for our evening meal.  Mommy had put out the ingredients for another do-it-yourself pizza, so Madison raced down the hallway to get her apron.  We washed our hands, and then Daddy and Madison created another masterpiece.  Delicious homemade pizza!

     We're not through eating yet though.  Next on the menu:  tasty baked pumpkin seeds.  Yummy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who's the Leader of the Club?

     Again the weather was perfect, as today we had the church's annual fall festival.  Lots of work go into this, and Daddy's just getting home now.  But before going to bed, here's a photo or two of Madison in her Minnie Mouse costume she wore this evening.  It won't be the last time she'll wear it:  we've got a couple events coming up on Friday and Saturday which are opportunities to do a little trick or treating.  She'll be a pirate on one of those days - but on the other, we're definitely going with Minnie.

     It was so great to see her and Mommy at church tonight.  The two of them had face paint on, both dressed up as little mice.  Madison giggled a lot when she saw herself in the mirror.  Of course, she really likes dressing up - but putting on face paint added a whole new dimension to things.  

     Madison got her first holiday bag of the season tonight, a great big thing filled with rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and all sorts of little toys.  It put a big smile on her face at just the right time!

     It was a pretty busy day today, but tomorrow we'll have time to sit down together and carve a pumpkin!  It was a tough choice - do I carve a Cinderella or a Minnie Mouse?  I think after seeing her in this costume tonight, we'll just have to go with Minnie.

See you real soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Rainy Day

     We've been so blessed as of late with the timing of our events.  There has been quite a bit of rain lately - in fact, there's another flash-flood warning for our area today.  But the things we've planned thus far have been rain free.  In fact, the last two days in Gatlinburg were absolutely perfect.

     Today, we didn't have anything of significance planned - so it rained and rained and rained.  Daddy went off to work while Mommy and Madison did a bit of grocery shopping.  When Daddy came home, there was quite a bit of horseplay.  In fact, Daddy and Madison did the Butterfly Game, which was another game she made up where we basically run around the house fluttering our hands like butterfly wings.  Sorry, no pictures of that!
   How much she has grown in a year - and how fast time flies.  Look at this picture from Burt's Pumpkin Farm last October.  She was so tiny back then...  Of course, she's still tiny, but within the span of a year she has really gotten taller.  She's learned a lot as well - every day she's speaking new words, or at least trying to.  She's even putting words together - like "blue car."  It comes out a little funny, but Mommy and Daddy know exactly what she means (it helps that there is a blue car nearby!). 

     She's also developed quite a little sense of humor.  She and Daddy fool around all the time.  Yesterday, we had the riders in the gondola cracking up - of course, everyone was laughing at Madison and not Daddy.  But Daddy is part of a comedy act that I think we'll take on the road soon.  He'll be the straight man - the one that gets bonked on the head with random objects, or swatted in the butt.  

     The rain will clear tomorrow - and just in time.  It is the day of the church's fall festival.  Madison will be there, dressed as Minnie Mouse.  It's a cute little outfit that you'll no doubt be seeing pictures of very soon.  On Friday and/or Saturday, we'll be heading out to do a little trick or treating.  A year ago, she was dressed as a tiny little ladybug - pretty clueless about what was going on.  This year, she's going to be a pirate... and there'll be plenty of booty out there!  Arrr!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gatlinburg 2009

We slept in this morning, but that was okay: we didn't have any rush about today. Daddy went down the hall and was surprised: there was a pretty decent selection in the breakfast room at the hotel. He smuggled all sorts of goodies back to the room for Mommy and Madison, and together we ate a nice, big breakfast. Daddy even got to make waffles!

"And in the morning, I'm making waffles!"
As Mommy packed our stuff up, Madison and Daddy looked out at the river from our balcony. Occasionally, we'd spot the gondola going by on its way up the mountain. Soon enough, we'd be on that one! Here's a photo taken from our hotel room balcony:

It was definitely a little chilly out there, so we headed back inside for a bit and watched Dora the Explorer in front of the fireplace as Mommy did all the hard work, packing up our clothing. So much to pack for just one night in the mountains!

After we left the Bearskin Lodge, we found the launching point for the gondola and hopped on. Madison enjoyed looking out the window, and everyone on the gondola enjoyed seeing her reaction. She peeked through the window, balanced on Daddy's knees, and started calling out everything that she could see. The view was very nice - you could see all the colors on the mountains: oranges, yellows, and reds. It was like a painting looking out the gondola. Madison and everyone made noises each time the car went over one of the towers, because the whole thing would swing slightly to and fro. You'd get this little feeling in your tummy, but it wasn't like on a get when there's turbulence or something. It was really slight.

Anyway, on top of the mountain, when we got off the gondola we did a bit of exploring. There was an ice skating rink and even a shooting gallery that Mommy and Daddy tried out. Madison liked the playground best: there were large tubular slides and even a ball crawl. She got into the ropes course and just had a blast climbing all over that playground. We took dozens of pictures there alone! She probably had just as much fun there in the playground as anywhere else in Gatlinburg, and it was free! Seriously, she could have stayed there another hour and still not have been ready to leave.

Daddy got an idea though - and we weren't through playing around up there. After hanging out at the playground, we got a couple tickets for a chair lift ride!
Madison got very excited about it; she kept saying "go!" We hopped in the chair lift, and held on to her very tightly! It is such a quiet and peaceful ride up the mountain, moving up slowly through the colorful trees. The entire chair lift ride up the mountain, she had this serious look about her. It's a look that we know means she's having an intensely good time! It's a look she gets when climbing on a pony or riding a carousel. It was about to get even better: we hopped off the chair lift and climbed aboard our sleds, ready to go gliding down the mountain. Mommy rode on the track next to Daddy, who had Madison in his lap. The two of us slid down the mountain - not too fast - and had loads of fun. Madison really enjoyed it, yelling out "go!" when Daddy needed to speed up.

As soon as we got off the slide, it was time to head back down the mountain.
We boarded the gondola for a trip downward, and then got off for another stroll down the street. Decorations were very nice in Gatlinburg, one of the reasons we keep coming back. The pumpkins and scarecrows were very festive, and on our return visit to "The Village," we made sure we snapped some photos, including this one of Madison and Mommy. It is nearly identical to a shot we took last year in the same location - and I suppose we've just started a tradition! We'll have to dig out that photo from last year to see how much she's grown...

It was getting late in the day, and soon we'd have to make our trip back home - but before we left, we decided to stop to get a nice meal before the long journey over the mountains. We went to eat at Bubba Gump's, a restaurant themed after the movie "Forrest Gump." Of course, they have all sorts of shrimp. That's what Mommy and Daddy ordered too. When Mommy and Daddy went on their honeymoon in Hawaii, they visited a Bubba Gump's in Lahaina. It's a special restaurant for us, and only recently have they added a new location in Gatlinburg, just up the road from us. Madison enjoyed her meal, especially the paper replica of the boat Jenny that the food came in. Later, Daddy got Madison to pose for some photos in front of a bench next to a box of chocolates, while wearing Forrest Gump's shoes. They were a little big...

It was a short trip, but it was certainly nice to get away to the mountains and see the colors and feel the chill in the air. The drive home was uneventful, except for perhaps the wild turkeys Daddy spotted along the road in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Madison remembered very little of it because she slept most of the way. Really, we were all exhausted when we got home.

It was short, but a wonderful time together as a family up in the mountain tops of Tennessee. Next year, we just might stay a little longer!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

     After church today, we made our annual trip up to Gatlinburg.  It's somewhat of a pilgrimage to the mountains to feel the brisk cool air of the higher elevations, and see the brilliant colors of the leaves.  We timed it well this year - the weather was perfect, and the trees were vibrant with color.  It takes about three hours to make the drive up, but we all packed in the car, very ready for some time away.  

     Madison gets so excited when she knows we're going somewhere.  It's not like we tell her either - she's a very smart girl and can tell we're about to go and do something fun.  She starts running around the house, being overly helpful and making lots of noises.  She gets really impatient too - it seems nobody can pack fast enough!

     The trip was fairly easy - with the exception of the last fifteen miles through Smoky Mountain National Park.  It seems there was an accident there that must have stopped traffic nearly all the way back on that windy road. 

     The rivers were rushing by, so full compared to last year.  The weather was chilly, but that's what you'd expect this time of year in Gatlinburg.  We arrived at our hotel, the Bearskin Lodge - which was located right as you enter the city limits.

     This hotel looks like the Wilderness Lodge at Disney, doesn't it?  It's actually nowhere near as elaborate, but it is right there in town along the river and convenient walking distance to a lot of attractions.  Plus, it has a fireplace in the room, which is a plus!  Take a look at Madison, getting cozy by the fire:

     We walked around downtown and got some taffy from one of the candy shops.  No trip to Gatlinburg is complete unless you come back with taffy.  We ate at KFC tonight, figuring that tomorrow we'd eat some place nicer along the road.  Tonight, it was just nice walking up and down the street looking at fall decorations and sneaking into a shop or two in order to look around.  There's this one area called "The Village" that we like to drop by - the decorations are very nice.  Tomorrow, we'll drop by when the light is better so we can take some pictures.

     It was a late night tonight, but Mommy and Daddy got to use the jacuzzi as Madison fell asleep in the crib we brought along.  We watched "The Nanny" on television again and again until we figured we'd better get some sleep:  tomorrow's going to be a big day!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Finger Food

     What Fezziwig's is to Christmas, Kelly Conard's is to Halloween!  We packed in the car this afternoon and headed up to Kelly's Spooky Party to visit with friends, eat some food and have a good time.  She always has the place decorated and has themed music playing - and lots of people showing up in costumes.  Madison came as a pirate, and Daddy wore his pirate t-shirt at least to show that he was part of her crew.  She met Snow White today, which was a little thrill for her.  Also present was another girl her age wearing a Belle costume, from Beauty and the Beast.

     Madison is seen in the photo above munching on some chocolate fingers decorating a large pretzel stick.  You'll find lots of creepy snacks at the party.  In fact, just out of sight are the brain cupcakes, which supposedly make you smarter.  If you are what you eat, that is!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Creeping Down the Hall...

     Today, Mommy and Madison went off to the store to get a neat bookshelf for the room.  Though we haven't put it together yet, everyone is excited.  Madison has too many books!  Tonight when Daddy came home, it was time to read - and she picked out a very special book...

     Yes, that's a Publix coloring book.  Madison picked one up from a nice man at the grocery store today.  She's in her "purple" period:  everything on every page was colored in with her purple crayon.  There wasn't so much of a story inside this book, but Daddy made one up anyway.  You can see here that Madison seemed to enjoy it!

     Soon after, it was time for milk.  Madison took her cue and ran down the hall to alert Mommy.  Once Mommy saw her, Madison screamed and ran towards the nursery as fast as her little legs could carry her.  She threw herself to Daddy, hoping for protection!  No, not the Mommy!
    Mommy's steps were heard, creaking down the hallway, lurking there.  Madison nervously giggled - especially when she heard a voice booming from down the hallway:  "I'm going to get you!"

     Daddy did his best to protect her, shielding her in his arms - but all of the sudden, Mommy jumped into the room!  Oh no!  Madison screamed again!  Mommy was creeping towards Madison with her fingers dancing, and it was clear that someone in this room was about to get tickled!

     We go through this game every night.  Sometimes it is Mommy chasing her down the hall and sometimes it is Daddy.  It's a fun routine and something to look forward to just before bed.   

     Speaking of which, I think it's time for Daddy to go to bed now.  I'll just have to be careful walking down the hall... you never know when or where the tickle monster will strike next!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Grand Day Out!

     It was  definitely great weather to make a quick day trip, so we packed ourselves a picnic and drove up to Helen, Georgia to look at the leaves and just walk around a bit.  After so much rain and cold, we jumped at the chance to go outside and fool around a bit.  The leaves were changing colors on the trees all around, and the mountains glowed with wonderful shades of red, orange and yellow.  As our car zooomed northward, the leaves danced and swirled about as they fell all around us on the road.  It was a perfect fall day!

     We got up there a little after noon, so our first order of business was finding a place to have a picnic.  No problem:  there were these picnic tables located right there by the Chattahoochee River, and nobody else was nearby at all.  Mommy set things up at the table and we all enjoyed our sandwiches and snacks right there by the rushing water.  The scenery was so perfect, we decided we had to snap some photos of Madison.  They all came out very nicely - too many to post here!  Madison has such a photogenic face, unlike her Daddy!

     We made our traditional visit to Betty's Country Store, where we found all sorts of classic candies and sodas.  Mommy found some tiramisu dessert mix for later (yummy!), and Daddy got himself a bottle of orange sunday float mix.

     After that, we wandered up the street to check out Charlemagne's Kingdom Model Railroad Museum, which is a mouthful to say.  But, it did have a pretty big train set that Madison got to check out.  Mommy and Daddy have been to Roadside Amercia, which has a HUGE train set inside.  But this one was rather big too.  It had an upper viewing area as well, so we could look down upon the kingdom.  Madison enjoyed the souvenir shop they had there, especially the large Thomas the Train playset they had sitting at just her height!

     Right next door was a toy store which featured old wooden toys - a lot of classics that Mommy and Daddy remember growing up.  One toy in particular captured Madison's attention:  it was that penguin slide toy, where these penguins march up a set of stairs over and over again - only to slide down a long curving slide.  She was so fascinated with this toy that she watched it for about twenty minutes.  I am not exaggerating.  While Mommy and Daddy looked for stocking stuffers for her for Christmas, she watched and played with those penguins until it was time to go (and yes, we wound up picking up the penguin toy for her too!).  All the toys we got there will be great for Christmas for Madison, but that doesn't mean Mommy and Daddy didn't enjoy looking around too.

     Soon, it was time to go home.  We hopped in the car, and Madison made sure her cat - a stuffed animal - was properly in the seat next to her with the seatbelt on.  Once we were ready for the journey home, Mommy surprised Madison with some free candy:  it was the button candy we got at Betty's Country Store.  This last photo here is of Madison in her car seat, picking off those candy buttons as fast as she can!
I think she likes them!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tubby Time!

     Bathtime is fun time:  just say the word "bath," and Madison starts running down the hall.  She's got so many little bathtub toys to play with.  There are Little Einstein figures (and their rocket/submarine), there are rubber ducks, there's a frog with blinking lights, there are bathtub letters to stick on the wall, there is a Finding Nemo bathtub book, and of course the legendary TBN cup given to us months ago by a good friend.  We can't explain her strange fascination with the cup - perhaps others don't make that same great splashing sound!

     Madison does like to splash when Daddy's around, but she's also very obedient when it comes time to scrub and get clean.  She likes squirting water and just having a good time in the tub, but every good thing must come to an end.  The only way to get her out is to start draining the water - with no water in there, it becomes more and more obvious that it might be time to get out!

     She's got this Tinkerbell towel - a special gift from another great couple we know.  She also has a princess towel that comes with it's very own crown.  Madison will wrap herself in one of these towels, shivering and running through the house so that someone will chase her down!

     It's time to get your pajamas on, Madison.  Eventually, she has a seat in the nursery where we get her dressed for the evening.  It's not quite bedtime yet, but we certainly used up a lot of energy playing around at Tubby Time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


     I have no idea why Madison knows the letter "Q" more than the letter "T" or even the letter "S."  Daddy was wearing a t-shirt with the letter "Q" on it, and Madison just called it out.  She actually said "you," as she pointed at the letter - but I knew what she meant.  
     It's amazing:  she's been really into letters lately, from the bathtub letters to the books we read her.  She'll point out the letter "A" in a flash - that's probably her easiest one.  But "Q?"

     Anyway, it was another quiet day.  We all had a nice supper together after visiting with Ye-Ye and Nana.  Nana had some surgery on her fingers today and seems to be doing well.  It was nice for Madison to visit.  

     Afterwards, Madison had one of those chocolate cupcakes from a couple days ago.  Talk about a mess!  Chocolate EVERYWHERE!  We were watching something on this computer as we ate our cupcakes at the table - Madison munched slowly on hers, picking off the icing.  Before we knew it, there was icing all over her nose and crumbs all over the table and floor and chair and...well, you get the idea.  It was most definitely time for a bath!
     Afterwards, it was time for reading again.  We've been finding all these books that have been sitting on shelves, waiting for this very day.  Today's selections were picked out by Madison and Daddy off the shelf.  Madison found a book with all sorts of numbers and animals on it.  We pointed out the different creatures and were sure to say them all out loud.  

     Another fun book we read tonight was one Daddy picked out called "My Dinosaur."  It was simple in wording and very nicely illustrated with lush colors that captured Madison's imagination.  It was night time for the girl in the story, but just outside her window is a very close friend:  it's a friendly ginormous dinosaur!  The two go romping through the woods and having fun together - at least until it is time to get some sleep.  
     I'm sure this book is why Madison wanted to go riding on Daddy's back afterwards!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today was another chilly day, and our adventures were once again limited. We did manage to make a trip down to the Mall of Georgia area for a spell...but the majority of the day was spent cleaning up the house and basically resting. Yes, we needed some rest from the weekend!

Madison spent much of the day playing at our feet. We played around quite a bit today, with Daddy giving piggy back rides and Mommy spending time reading with her. Just before bed, she has this new routine: as soon as she's finished her bottle, she'll leave the nursery and go through the house trying to find the other parent. As soon as she's spotted one of us, she'll make sure there's eye contact...and bolt back down the hallway screaming! The chase is on!

She flees down the hallway and runs back to whichever parent is sitting in the rocking chair, whimpering for help! "Please save me," she seems to scream! Of course, she's doing a whole lot of laughing at the same time. Mommy or Daddy will lurk down the hallway, big scary footsteps marching along and then... moo-ah-ah-ah-ah! The tickling begins!

This is a fun bedtime ritual we've been into as of late. Madison gets a kick out of it, of course! Moo-ah-ah-ah!

Today's featured selection is "Babar's Book of Color." It's the best of both worlds with this book. Madison really likes elephants - we remember her laughing and laughing at them at the zoo. Each time she sees one, she lets out her best impression of an elephant. Naturally, Babar and his crew are ideal for teaching kids who like elephants about anything - and in this book, it's colors. Madison knows grey - she was wearing grey pajamas and pointed that out. She knows black, and she definitely knows green. She sort of says her colors, but she can spot them and correctly identify them pretty quick - which is great. She's a really smart girl - but of course, we're sort of biased!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

     After church today, the family came over to our house to celebrate Daddy's birthday a little early.  Next week was looking so busy that we just made plans to have some fun today instead.

     Daddy picked up a few pizzas while Mommy brought out the butternut squash soup she made (from the squash she picked up at Burt's Pumpkin Farm).  
Mommy also got out the cupcakes and candied apples - oh, and the rice krispy treats shaped and colored like candy corn!  It was a huge holiday-themed treat, with plenty of leftovers for everyone.  Lots of sweet and lots of sugar.  As you can imagine, the younger ones were bouncing off the walls.  The older ones were still a little worn out from church, but nevertheless got into a few games as well, such as "Monster Bowling."  
Zena set up the monster pins and the kids tried to knock them all down, rolling the ball down the hallway. 

     Hannah and Madison had fun getting chased up and down the hallway by Ye-Ye, who seemed to jump out in all sorts of different places surprising them.  Screams and laughter filled the house as they raced all around trying to get away.

     Another spontaneous game played today was one we'll call  "Someone's Got a Frog on His Head."  This game has just a few rules, the primary one being that somebody puts a frog on someone else's head, leading everyone else into a song:  "Mommy's got a frog on her head!  Mommy's got a frog on her head!  Mommy's got a frog on her head and she keeps it there all day!"  Everyone wound up with a frog on their head, to Madison's delight.  As with most games she makes up, we have no idea where the idea of balancing a frog on someone's head actually came from.  

Mommy's got a frog on her head!

     For a time, the boys played video games down in the living room while the Hannah and Madison played dress-up princess in the playroom.  Ultimately, Hannah decided on the Cinderella dress and Madison went for the Minnie Mouse dress.  Madison has slowly been moving towards the Minnie Mouse dress lately...

     ANYWAY, it was a nice chance for everyone to take a deep breath and relax at the table for bit.  You can see Madison here with Aunt Shain, getting ready to put a frog on someone else's head.  But in moments, she saw Daddy about to blow out a candle in a cupcake, and had to join him.  Together, everyone sang "Happy Birthday to You," and Madison helped Daddy blow out the small candle.  Mommy made coffee for everyone, but the kids didn't need it.  Daddy opened presents and got the latest Dave Barry/Ridley Pearson book, a deluxe copy of Galaxy Quest, a gift certificate to the Cracker Barrel and even another box of Booberry!  Just in time - I just emptied my last box!  Another thing Daddy got was an electronic pumpkin carver!  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Boy, do I feel old.  I remember the good old days when you actually had to use - get this - a knife!!?  These kids these days with their new fangled inventions and stuff.  It is a amazing that no one thought of this sooner!

     Oh yeah - and Daddy also got a North Dakota license plate, which was pretty cool.  NOW, his collection is complete!  Mounted across the walls of the garage, you can see them now:  license plates from all fifty states, plus many more.  Daddy was looking for North Dakota this year, so Ye-Ye and Nana found one on their most recent trip out west.

     After a while, everyone went home, but the video games were still on down in the living room.  Madison was quite insistent that she give it a try - so after everyone was gone, we shared a few moments playing "The Incredibles:  Rise of the Underminer" on the X-Box 360.  Of course, she was just doing good to move her character around at all - but soon she figured out that she could press a button and sock Daddy's character.  Oof!  (Sound effects courtesy of Daddy).  At least she couldn't put a frog on my head.  

     Ah, our first co-op video game moment!  Soon, Madison and Daddy will be playing video games more often - but here it is right there, folks:  the first day Madison played a two-player video game with Daddy.  Big moment there.
     Excuse me while I shed a tear....I couldn't ask for a better birthday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Key Grip

     Madison's job when Mommy starts to vacuum is to grip the wire and follow her around.  It is pretty automatic now when cleaning the house - and so are the sneak attacks from Mommy with the vacuum cleaner's tube!

     It got cold today - real cold.  So it was another day to hang out indoors.  Madison helped Mommy in another ways today (in addition to the vacuuming).  
     In the kitchen, the two made big preparations for Daddy's birthday party tomorrow.  It's a quiet, family affair - but it'll feature candy apples, pumpkin cupcakes and even Jack Skellington cupcakes!  We're looking forward to it, but right now Daddy has to go and help Mommy finish decorating the house...  Goodnight!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome Great Pumpkin!

Tonight, we all sat down after dinner to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." This would be the first time Madison has seen anything related to the Peanuts cartoons, and it held her attention the whole time. Would the Great Pumpkin come?

Not tonight, I'm afraid. We always felt sorry for Linus. He never gives up believing. Year after year he tells us, "The Great Pumpkin comes to the most sincere pumpkin patch. He rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies through the air, bringing toys to all the children of the world!"

Maybe next year....

It got very cold today - unseasonably cold. In fact, it's supposed to start freezing next week. That'll be interesting. Madison keeps seeing pictures of snow here and there and calling out to us: "noooo!" This isn't "no" as in a negative answer. This is her way of saying "snow." She's going to be quite excited when she sees it this year - and the way the precipitation has been falling, I'd say our expectations are high for a little of the white stuff soon.

Daddy had to work most of the day, but Mommy and Madison hung out together again, going out to do a little shopping. When Daddy got home, it was story time again. Just forget Oprah's book club - it's time for a section of the blog called:

Today's featured selection is a book called "47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea." It was written by Phil Vischer, who some of you may be familiar with from Veggie Tales. The book actually comes with a CD, which you can play along as you read the pages. This we did, and Madison actually got so much into it that when we see the scary shark appear from the water, she wags her finger, "no, no, no!" Fortunately, the beavers are resourceful and find a way out of that situation - and others. And that's the whole point of the book, actually. It's a quirky book, but that's pretty much what you'd expect from the author.

In any event, Madison enjoyed it very much - but soon it was time for us to head to the dinner table. Mommy had made some shepherd's pie for Daddy, and a nice big plate of vegetables for Madison. The broccoli reminds her of trees, so she had them stacked up for a bit - just before she attacked them like Godzilla.

She was a bit rambunctious today - she got to the salt shaker before Daddy could stop her. Just picture Daddy reaching out in slow motion, calling out, "nooooooo!"

It was too late. Her broccoli had more salt on it than there is in the Dead Sea. Fortunately, Mommy had a cool head and reminded Daddy that he could just rinse the broccoli off. Unfortunately, a little later, Mommy's cool head got injured tonight. Just like any child her age, Madison can inflict a painful surprise from time to time. She'll be squatting there, waiting for just the right moment - and then launch herself upwards! Bonk - she hit Mommy square on the chin.

Just before bedtime, she got Mommy pretty good. Mommy bit her lip, and Madison was slightly stunned. Hopefully, she's learned a lesson - but I know I have: Be careful around our daughter - she comes spring-loaded!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Day

     Today was another cold and rainy sort of day, but we didn't let it dampen our spirits!  Daddy and Madison read books in the morning, such as this one here,  "Little Fish."  It's a sweet book with really nice artwork in it.  Madison enjoys the story of the little fish that starts to be not so little after a while. 

 Another one we added to her library is "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel."  Don't let the title fool you - she enjoys this book just as much as any book about ballerinas or princesses.  That's just one of the things we like about Madison though - you can be doing ballerina twirls one moment, and the next you'll be playing tackle football.  She can be watching Winnie the Pooh one moment, and the next be flipping through her book of big trucks.  Daddy didn't know if Madison would like "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" or not - but once he started reading it, he was surprised:  she was really digging it!   

     By the way, speaking of books - the first book we ever read to Madison is the one you see here called "Mirror Me!"  Daddy remembers bringing it to China with us.  We'd sit in the hotel room and read it to her in a comfy chair in the corner.  She'd giggle at certain parts we'd make up and point to things and make noises - and then we'd read it all over again.  We had a few other books with us in China - some of which we actually bought there - but this one here was the first.  It's a little beat up now, but it always brings back precious memories every time Daddy picks it up.

     Anyway, after spending a little time reading, our cruise director Mommy had the table all set up for another one of Madison's favorite activities:  Playdough!  Today, Daddy showed Madison how to use the pasta maker as you can see below.  She'd push it through, and then put it on a plate in a very nice presentation.  Unfortunately, it looked so good on her tiny plastic plate that... she tried to eat one!  Yuk!  No, Madison - this is pretend food! 

     Later, when Mommy returned from getting her hair done, the three of us decided to make a trip down to the Mall of Georgia area once more.  At the Toys R Us, we did a little Christmas shopping in advance, and Madison was just itching to grab everything from her shopping cart.  So many toys, so little time!   Afterwards, we went back to one of our favorite restaurants fora hearty dinner:   Cracker Barrel!

     Here's a photo snapped with the cell phone of Mommy and Madison coloring in the menu with the crayons.  Madison usually spends a bit of time lining up and categorizing the pegs in the peg game too, but the food came quickly tonight and soon enough she was munching on corn and french fries.

     We got back after our outing and it was pretty much time for bed - but we had to something else first.  What was it?  Read a book, of course!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Full Pool

     What do you do on a day like today?  Nothing to do outside, because it is cold and rainy.  Again!  Rain, rain, rain!  We're definitely in a pattern here.  
     The good news is that as of today, the lake officially reached it's "full" status once more.   We haven't seen that in ages!
     In fact, it was one year ago this month that Madison and Daddy went down for a walk to the park by the lake.  The picture here shows what the lake looked like just one year ago.  

     Rather spontaneously, we crossed a land bridge - a result of the water being so low.  We were able to walk to the islands out on the lake, and do a little exploring along their shores.  Madison walked along with Daddy and enjoyed picking up rocks to throw into the lake.  She was so little back then, but she trudged along with Daddy around the island until we figured it was time to come back home.  

     A year earlier than even that, we had gone across under the light of the full moon - Mommy and Daddy had gone there with Madison's cousins to explore what we called the mysterious "Old Goat Man Island," a scary place indeed!  Really, it was just us making up stories and having fun in October.  The cousins had a good time, and no - we never met the Old Goat Man who lives there.   He must have been hiding... watching us from the darkness of the shadows!

     In any event, you can't walk to the island anymore.  You can't even wade there.  We've had so much rain that even Daddy would have to swim to get to the island.  But Madison can say she walked there, even if her memory is a little fuzzy.  It was a fun journey, but Daddy - and everyone else in this area - is glad the lake is back to full pool today.  A year ago we were all praying for rain, and boy oh boy did we get it!