Monday, November 30, 2009

Magical Night of Lights


The rain cleared off today just in time, as we loaded into the car and drove down to Lake Lanier Islands to see the Christmas lights they have set up all along a seven mile drive. It could have been the rain, or it could have been that it was a Monday (or it could have been that it is still November), but there were not too many people there driving through. This was great for us: there were times we felt we had the whole place to ourselves!

Madison was a little sleepy on the way down, but her eyes started getting wide when she saw the first of the lights at the entrance. We had Nat King Cole and Dean Martin singing Christmas tunes on the CD player as we slowly wandered through the park. Madison's eyes were glued to every light arrangement along the way. We saw the Twelve Days of Christmas, Birds of Paradise, Teddy Bear Land, the Animal Kingdom ("monkeys!" "elephants!"), and naturally the North Pole. Madison waved at the lights of Santa, and waved hello to the lights that made up the nativity set as well.

It was cold tonight, but Madison dressed up appropriately. Even better than pockets, she even had one of those things that allows you to place your hands inside to keep warm. It was snug in the car though. Nice and warm! As we rode around, we sang songs together and looked out at all the colorful lights. One of the easier songs to do with Madison is "Deck the Halls." You just can't beat the part where everyone goes "fa la la la la, la la la la." It doesn't get much simpler than that! Anyway, we went inside a store at the end of the tour of lights - it had all sorts of beautiful trees set up with all kinds of ornaments. Santa wasn't there at the time though - he was feeding his reindeer. It's beyond me why his elves couldn't be doing this. I guess he's having trouble delegating.


Not seeing Santa was okay though, because there were lots of other things to look at, and of course there were marshmallows. Each time we go, Mommy is so smart: she packs us some marshmallows on a stick to roast at their fire pits outside. The reason: this place charges a lot for everything! It was nice roasting marshmallows by the fire, and it was warm too! Some people like their marshmallows just about burned up. Not Mommy and Daddy. We like them really gooey on the inside and a bit toasted on the outside. It's a fine art roasting a marshmallow properly, to be honest. It requires patience and skill. Eating one, however, requires no skill at all!

Although it does sometimes require a wet napkin!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The months go by so fast! "Weird Science" ended today, and Thanksgiving is already a few days ago, and in just a few days, Madison's grandparents will be returning back to Florida. Time keeps gliding by, but it has been a nice ride as of late.

Madison made another shopping trip with everyone today as Daddy went to work. Mommy got her some very nice new outfits, one with ladybugs on it. I won't even tell you where they went, because you could probably already guess. Mommy got a few VHS tapes of "Kipper the Dog" as well, and the family rode around as Daddy went and visited a train for the upcoming new series "All Aboard!"


Tonight before bed, we all snuggled together on the couch by the Christmas tree and watched a Peanuts Christmas Special. Isn't it funny how timeless some things are? Everyone laughed, especially Madison at certain parts. She likes the ice skating, and obviously Snoopy. That'll be interesting when we try ice skating out...

...POTTY TRAINING UPDATE...

Grandma has been very helpful and enthusiastic about Madison's potty training. Since her visit, Madison has been using pull-ups and making regular runs to her miniature potty to go tinkles. After each visit, there is much celebration - cheering and applause fill the house and neighborhood! Hooray!

Tomorrow, we plan - if the rain clears - to try the Lake Lanier Magical Night of Lights together. It'll be a pleasant evening together, singing Christmas carols and even roasting marshmallows by the fire. Madison has been singing carols with us lately. They might not be immediately recognizable, but she is singing! I think we've got the hang of "Jingle Bells," and it is fun to hear her try and sing it with us.

One thing is certain: we'll do more caroling with Madison before December ends!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hip Hop Madison

Madison might not remember some of the things she does this early in life, which is actually why we set up this blog. For example, this morning she's been rehearsing a great dance routine to spread holiday cheer and usher in the holiday season! Take a look:

video

From all of us here, especially our little dancing queen, we wish you a merry Christmas - and a Happy New Year!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to the North Pole

Madison braved the busy shopping day with Mommy and her grandparents, as they had peace at Goodwill. It wasn't the Goodwill mentioned in the Bible around Christmastime. It was, in fact, the traditional pilgrimage to the Goodwill store, where they found all sorts of good stuff, including a copy of the classic Christmas movie, "Santa Claus vs. The Martians." Oh, yes! It isn't Christmas until you've seen that one!

We had plans to go to Lake Lanier Magical Nights of Lights tonight. Daddy went out to get a coupon real quick from Publix, when he looked at the fine print and realized that on weekends, it costs a whopping

$60 PLUS TAX TO GET IN!!

That is not a typo. I am not making that up. That's for a car, and not a van. Vans cost $90! On weekends, it costs nearly as much as it costs to get into the Magic Kingdom. And this is just to drive around and look at lights. You'd think they'd have thought about this whole "recession thing" and strived a little harder to spread some Christmas cheer!

During the week, the price drops to a mere $35, so we'll try it on Monday or Tuesday. I'll fill you in then on exactly what it is that makes this such a worthy investment. We have no choice - we have to go, because by gum, we're going to show Madison lights this year!

Tonight, however, we found ourselves in a quandary, and I don't use that word lightly. Madison was all dressed up, but we had no place to go! Fortunately, there were cooler heads amongst us, and we decided to make a quick trip to Lakeshore Mall.



There we found one of the best deals in Hall County: the carousel. For just a dollar, Grandma rode around with Madison, and Daddy got to ride with Madison too. It's a long ride, and Madison was very particular about picking the right horse each time. Afterwards, we walked down the mall a bit dressed in holiday cheer, as the shoppers passed by with their treasures. We could only keep our destination a secret for so long though!

With a loud giggle, Madison saw Santa! She ran up to the line and had to wait (for her what seemed like an eternity). When it was her time to step forward, she did the funniest thing: she put both hands on top of her head and just squealed! Then she ran up to him and jumped on his lap!

Daddy didn't have his camera, but he did have a cell phone. The elf that helped Santa out at the mall was very nice - he let Daddy snap a few photos with Madison on Santa's knee, and Santa spent quite some time talking to her (there was no one behind us). Santa gave her some candy, a sticker, and a stop sign that said "SANTA PLEASE STOP HERE."


Her day was made. Santa is her hero! And to think, for her it was an incredible night. So much fun, and it only cost us two dollars for the carousel!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


     The meal was masterful, but what else can you expect from a Mommy like we have in the house?  Look at Madison, her eyes glued to the turkey!   But I'm getting ahead of myself...It was Madison's second Thanksgiving with us, and we slowly rose from our beds, about to tackle the day.  First thing, we walked next door to Ye-Ye's and Nana's house to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (note:  the CBS footage really stinks, go with NBC).  Madison drug out all her toys, but looked up frequently as the different floats and balloons, like  giant Snoopy and Hello Kitty.  She enjoyed watching the parade - it held her attention pretty much the entire time.  Of course, Santa was a thrill for her too, although she made bigger noise about the Santa balloon halfway through the parade (my guess is that she was ready to go towards the end)! 

     We returned back to the house, where these two master chefs immediately went to work!  It was Daddy's job in the meantime to keep Madison busy.  Boy, what an agenda we had!

  1.  Play with the Nativity Set (don't forget the zebra).
  2.  Roll up and down the hall with the stuffed animals on your Winnie the Pooh car.
  3.  Don't forget the large pirate hat.
  4.  Wrestle on the floor.
  5.  Serve tea with Grandma to all the animals, lined up on the kitchen floor.
  6.  Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
  7.  Use this computer to make goofy pictures.
  8.  Run up and down the halls, screaming.


     By the time we were done with all that, we were really ready to eat!  Mommy never disappoints, either.  What a wonderful feast we had today!  It was complete with everything necessary for a Thanksgiving meal checklist:  cranberries (which Madison LOVED), turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy (of course), and Mommy's world famous butternut squash soup.  You haven't experienced life until you've had some of that soup.  There was more food than this, naturally.  The "leftover elves" will see to it our refrigerator is full for a couple more days!


     The house has been decorated so nicely.  Pictured above are our Cabbage Patch dolls, two Indians by the name of Wah-He-Koo and Oh-Lu-Cha (I just call them Beyonce and Mr. T!).  In addition to this, Mommy had placed colorful fall leaves along the mantle, and of course the table looked very nice (especially with our favorite Pilgrim salt shaker set)!

     Madison really had a great day with everyone.  It was a very nice Thanksgiving.  She's in bed already, pretty worn out from the day's events.  Thanksgiving does that!  We adults will sit back and watch a movie, and enjoy some pumpkin pie.

     It's been said that it is funny how hours and hours of work all lead up to what appears to be a very quick meal.  But the memories of our time together do last a lot longer, and we are indeed truly thankful for this day and the time we share.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Almost Turkey Day!


     Tomorrow is the big day!  Mommy spent much of the day preparing all sorts of delicious foods.  First thing in the morning, we'll head over to Ye-Ye's house to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.  This has been a tradition of ours for quite some time!  Mommy has created a platter just filled with all sorts of tasty breakfast breads, coffee cakes and muffins to bring over and share.  Yummy!

     Later in the day, we've got a big feast planned.  It goes without saying that we are so thankful to be with Madison.  She has been so much fun to be with.  Each day is a blessing, and today was an especially nice blessing because her grandparents were here.  She was very, very excited and just loved climbing all over them.

     Together, they made a trip down to the lake - and Madison even got to walk the dog.  Madison held that leash like a pro, and didn't let Velcro (that's the dog's name!) drag her around.  She spent much of the day chasing around and laughing.  Ah, to be young again!

     The weather promises to be good tomorrow, and everything - and everyone - is ready.  We just can't wait for Turkey Day!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Building Blocks


It hardly seems like it's been a year and a half since we met Madison.  The images above show the same girl - and the same toy.  It is the sort of toy where you place different shaped objects into the appropriate slot.  Nana - Daddy's mother - gave it to her on Gotcha Day, but you can see by the photo on the right that Madison was still quite shocked at the changes that were going on in her world.  After all, we just met less than two hours ago!

The smiles were far and few between to begin with.  There were a few small glimmers of a smile that first day, but anyone who knows Madison knows that things have changed quite a lot!  Now Madison runs to Nana and Ye-Ye, and has the biggest smile nearly all the time.  She's a bundle of joyous energy!

The picture to the left shows her now, again with the same toy.  Quickly, she shoves each object into the right slot.  Initially, this took a while.  But it's all good now, as she's come a long ways, and learned quite a bit.  Her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds, and her ability to understand what she's being told is amazing.  She's very observant, but can learn how to do things on her own as well.

****************

This isn't necessarily related, but it is something we laughed about this week.  She had taken all of her Nativity Set pieces and placed them, one by one, in between each of the railings that divide our kitchen from our living room.  There each one was perched, overlooking the living room.  Of course, she knows where they go in the actual Nativity Set - but occasionally, she'll take them all out for a vacation.  She must have noticed the rain the other day, otherwise she wouldn't have set them all up like this to keep them under cover:


      Today brought a whole lot of energy to the house:  Madison's grandparents arrived from Florida!  They arrived later, as it is a pretty long drive - it didn't help that the weather was so cold and rainy outside.  Nevertheless, they arrived safely, and Madison was overjoyed.  She spent a great deal of time jumping up and down and playing with them, and they were only happy to oblige!  Already, she has them wrapped around her finger...!

     Madison has come so far.  She's always been the beautiful girl we know, but that inner light has shown brighter and brighter with each passing day - and we've been so thankful to spend this part of our lives with her.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deck the Halls

Tomorrow, we're expecting some very important visitors - Madison's grandparents!  Mommy's parents are coming up from Florida, so we decided to deck the halls a bit.  Now, the biggest part of decking any hall would be putting up a tree.  So Daddy and Madison set out to decorating the Christmas tree, and Madison got right into it!  We had plugged in "Beauty and the Beast:  Enchanted Christmas" and set ourselves to work.  The first ornament up was Remy from Ratatouille, and the rest just fell into place.  It's a long process, as we have many, many ornaments.  Madison put up a harp, then the Snowman from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  It's a rather eclectic tree, certainly - but it has things on it that remind us of exciting chapters of our lives.  For example, there are several ornaments on our tree from China that were purchased in Guangzhou while we were there with Madison.  Some were bought right there in Nanning, the city where we first met Madison.  Other ornaments come from our trips to Disney or elsewhere.  Madison's first ornament is on the tree, a Winnie the Pooh.  Daddy has quite a few Star Wars ornaments on the tree, and there's even a Kung Fu Panda ornament as well.  The list could easily go on and on - we have a zillion ornaments that are as new as last year (Godzilla!), or as old as decades ago.  Some of the oldest ones look like they are from the 1950's!  Daddy's a big retro-ornament fan.
     Speaking of "retro," while decorating, we also plugged in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,  which Madison immediately stopped everything to watch.  There's something about Snoopy that captivates all of us.  Seriously:  Beauty and the Beast's Christmas was okay, but when Snoopy came on, all productivity stopped.  Madison thought Snoopy fighting with a lawn chair was hilarious, but she loved everything about the entire Thanksgiving dinner with popcorn and buttered toast.  We'll be sure to show it a few more times before Thursday, as the DVD also has an episode on it that tells the Thanksgiving story very well.  Between that and reading "Off to Plymouth Rock," I feel that Madison is learning something about the day.  Just wait until Thursday though!  Actually, we're all excited about Thanksgiving.  It's a great holiday, and we're happy to have the grandparents with us for a bit.
     Before bedtime, the tree was nearly done.  All that remains is the topper.  After Madison went to sleep, Mommy and Daddy finished decorating somewhat - but found ourselves watching the Patrick Stewart version of "A Christmas Carol," which is quite good.  We'll have to put the top on the tree tomorrow!
     Just before bed, Madison has continued a joke that ran all day.  Basically, it is pretty simple: 

MADISON:  "Dadda?"
DADDY:  "Yes, Madison.  What is it?"
MADISON:  "Mamma!"
DADDY: "No!"
MADISON:  "Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
DADDY:  "No, I'm not the Mamma.  I'm the Dadda!"
MADISON:  "Dadda."
DADDY: "Yes.  That's right."
MADISON:  "Dadda?"
DADDY: "Yes?"
MADISON:  "Mamma!"
DADDY: "Nooooo!"
MADISON:  "Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

     And so on.  What was funny is hearing her laugh each time.  She knew I was the Daddy, but was having fun calling me something else!  Anyway, it was a fun day yet again - despite the rain.  Outside it was cold and wet, but inside we were warm and merry.  The Holiday season is here, and there's not a humbug in sight!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankfulness

     After church today, we've had a fairly productive day.  We brought up the Christmas tree and got that started in the living room (Mommy put on the lights already!), and on top of that Daddy got to work on a top secret project in the basement (more on that in two days!).  

     Madison is talking more and more as of late, so Daddy thought he'd share a quick video of two words that everyone should be saying this time of year.  Press play for a six or seven second video:

video

     She's not really slapping Daddy.  She's clapping his hands together and laughing about it - but for just a moment, it seems like she's going from polite and thankful girl ...to something else altogether!

     Tonight, we'll be putting up more ornaments on the tree and fixing up the lights.  And as we do that, we can hear Madison talking to herself (and her friends, the stuffed animals) in the crib.  It's great that she's starting to talk, although some might disagree and say we'll be longing for those days when she was less talkative!

     In any event, it has been a lot of fun - as you can see.  She's a ton of fun, especially close to bedtime.  Absolutely zany, but Daddy loves that.  Tonight we read some more, and climbed all over each other some more, and Daddy just cherished this time with his beautiful daughter.  I'm so thankful - in fact, let me echo Madison's words right now:  "Dank doo!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Madison has a Turkey on her Head

     Thanksgiving is this Thursday, so tonight Daddy brought home a turkey craft that Aunt Shain told us about.  After making our own pizza and devouring it, Daddy and Madison set out to make a little turkey - with a twist:  you'll note that this turkey is in disguise.  It is wearing an Elvis wig and even an Elvis scarf.

     This turkey will be at Graceland this Thanksgiving, because we'll show it grace by not eating it!  Actually, it's made of card stock, and in Madison's hands, I give it roughly a 40% chance of survival by Thursday!  Already, you can see we were playing the classic game:  "Madison's got a Turkey on her Head."  By the time this evening was done, we all had a turkey on our head.

     Madison likes to play rough, throwing herself around - and throwing Mommy and Daddy around whenever she can too.  Don't let that sweet smile fool you!  Sometimes you can see it in her eyes as she's coming towards you, and you just have to tell her:  "Don't be cruel!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Massage Therapy


     Here Madison is, doing a deep massage for Mommy.  She's easing and soothing any aching pains, while rejuvenating and restoring balance to Mommy's body and being.  Daddy highly recommends her service - Madison can loosen those stubborn knots that keep your muscles tied up and tense.  Forget Swedish massage, sport massage or deep tissue massage!  No, Madison likes to lie Daddy down flat on the floor and pounce all over him!

     Today was another work day for Daddy.  Of course, by "work," he means riding along on a hovercraft (until it abruptly stopped and launched him across the paved parking lot!).  He rolled like Captain Kirk (in those old shows where you had to roll along the ground just before taking aim and firing).  Believe it or not, it helped.

     This evening, Mommy and Daddy were away from Madison for probably the longest time ever.  We went on a date to go see "The Wedding Singer," a stage musical that was actually pretty good.  We met up with some old friends who Daddy worked for a while ago, and it was a very nice evening.

     In the meantime, we left Madison in some very capable hands: Ye-Ye and Nana.  Madison's other cousins were there as well, and together they each created a unique craft that we'll just have to show off here below:


     Ye-Ye said that Madison was very good at making her little turkey.  We have to agree!  We'll place it in the dining room at Thanksgiving (along with our salt and pepper shaker you see pictured above!). 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dank-Doo!

This month is November, the season of Thanksgiving, and what a great time to have Madison really start saying the phrase "thank you."  It's not pronounced exactly right (it's more like "dank-doo"), but it's pretty clear what she's saying.  And much of the time, she doesn't have to be prompted.

She knows to say it when Mommy is giving her something, especially at the dinner table:  "Thank you!"

Of course, all this is after she gets to the table.  Before she gets there, one of her things she does is run down the hall and let Daddy know:  "Dadda.  Eat!  This way!"

And then she runs toward the kitchen hoping Daddy chases her (which he usually does!).  

Madison is so much fun for us, and has such a hilarious sense of humor.  Playtime is always a great time for us, where she immediately pounces on us and climbs all over Mommy and Daddy.  Lately, she's been playing the 3-2-1 Liftoff Game, where Daddy launches her into the air after we both count to three.  Daddy always catches her, and Madison is always ready to immediately do it again!  At least, that is, until his back tells him to cut it out!
   

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Corn on the Cob


Madison loves corn.  Yes, it's not quite in season any more.  But that doesn't matter.  She saw it on her plate and called it out:  "yellow corn."  The picture above shows her eating her second ear of corn.  She doesn't need butter.  She doesn't use salt.

She does, however, have to use cornholders.  That's important.

This is something she is passionate about.  She used to really like summer squash.  Peas are fine, and beans are good too.  Why, even spring peas and broccoli are great to have on the plate.

But there's something special about corn on cob.  Oh yes, it's got to be on the cob.  Corn piled up on a plate just doesn't have that same magic.  

Not one kernel of corn is going to be left on that cob.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Madison's Christmas Movies


     Though we're careful not to plop her down in front of the television and let it serve as our babysitter, we do let Madison sit and watch her Tinkerbell TV in the playroom from time to time.  This month, of course we've been plugging in Christmas-themed movies.  

     Her favorite as of late is a shocker for me:  it's an ancient Disney VHS (we have a VHS/DVD player).  This is a tape she insists on watching quite often - it's simply called "A Walt Disney Christmas."  This is a collection of cartoons that go back to the 1930's:  she'll sit and stare at it the whole time.  She cracks up loudly each time Pluto tries to go across the ice with skates on.  Uproarious belly laughs!

     Her other favorites include Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas and definitely the Twice Upon a Christmas (the skating scene is her favorite).  We have several more Christmas movies for her, and she seems to like them all so far.  A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday is a fun mix of cartoons featuring the Higglytown Heroes, which you can't go wrong with!  Mommy and Daddy liked the Higglytown heroes before Madison was even here.  In fact, Daddy had bought some of these nesting dolls for Mommy one Christmas, each one a different Higglytown Hero.  These aren't the kind you can play with, but we do have them stacked up on one of Madison's shelves in the playroom.

Tonight, she was getting into Hermie's A Fruitcake Christmas, which was completely unrealistic in that it features a fruitcake that everyone actually wants.  Seriously, it is a cute cartoon that teaches about greed, sharing and the Christmas spirit.  Speaking of which, we also have a William Wegman video called Fay's 12 Days of Christmas.  Now that's a fun video!  Wegman is the photographer who takes pictures of his dogs in various positions, usually dressing them up.  We have a few books by him, the coffee table kind.  Madison watched this one after Hermie and seemed to enjoy it.

Like I said, she doesn't sit and watch television all day.  She just watched these two videos tonight, and that was pretty much it for the television.  Mommy made sure she kept busy the rest of the day with different activities outside (while it wasn't raining) and inside (let's make some more Playdough spaghetti!).

It's just great to have that video to plug in from time to time.  It gives Mommy a mental break, and sometimes a chance to get some things done that perhaps can't be done otherwise.  These videos also get us all into the Christmas spirit, and we'll have to admit it:  they're also good when Mommy and Daddy are... dog tired!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Checkers

     We just got back from the Cracker Barrel, where once again we had a pretty good meal.  It was one of those spontaneous trips to do something with our evening - Daddy had spent the day working on church messages for December, Mommy spent the day cleaning the house and visiting the dermatologist, and Madison spent the day creating Playdough spaghetti and random shapes.  
     Madison loves the toys at the Cracker Barrel.  She likes to play with the checkers too.  Here she is below, engaged in a strategic game with Mommy.


     After a moment of thought, Daddy realized that "hey, this is her first game of checkers!"  We didn't have the camera with us, but Daddy did snap a shot or two using the cell phone.

     Here she is, deeply contemplating her next strategic move.  Placing her fingers on her chin, she's sizing Mommy up and anticipating what her next move might be.  Look at her studying the board and analyzing every possibility.  You can just feel the tension building, like an intense Kasparov vs. Karpov Chess Championship, with everything on the line!
     After a bit more thought, she realizes it doesn't actually matter what Mommy's next move might be.  The simple reason is that we weren't really playing a game of checkers by the official rules.  For example, Madison's next move was taking the closest checker and jumping it all the way across the board on top of three others in a pile!
     We'll try playing by the rules some other time, but we did have some fun tonight in front of the checker board.

     Madison has been putting more words together lately.  While painting today, she said "Dadda shirt on," as best she could, (because she was wearing an old shirt of Daddy's as a smock).  Other phrases creeping into her vocabulary are:  "Green light go," and "Red light stop."  Or "all done," when she's emptied her sippy cup.  
     Her singing is getting better too!  Tonight while waiting for Mommy to pick up something at the Hallmark store, Madison and Daddy sang "Jingle Bells" in the car.  Again, it's not anything you could sell as a recording - but it sure is cute!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Van de Graaff


Weird Science continues this month at our church, and although our other series have been very cool for everyone - this one in particular had some things that Daddy could do with Madison. For example, we had a Van De Graaff Generator to tinker with along with the kids.

Those of you unfamiliar with the concept might be familiar with a static electricity zap. As a kid, Daddy used to rub his feet along the carpet until he got a good charge, and then sneak up on someone and zap them! This is the same principle: picture a lot of little feet inside that ball above, building up a charge. It flows in through Daddy's hands - he and Madison are standing on a rubber chair on a rubber mat, so the electrons have nowhere to go!

That's why our hair is standing up on edge. Ever since Daddy was younger, he's always wanted to try it out - and now that we have Madison, that just makes it more fun. She thought it was fun too: she and everyone else there were laughing a lot!

You could say she got a charge out of it!


A little later in the day, we joined the rest of the family for the baptism service of Madison's cousins, Hannah and Jonathan. It was a very nice service, and everyone was so proud of the two. We traveled back to Ye-Ye and Nana's house for a celebration meal - and cake. Madison always has a good time at their house, and today was no different.

It was a big day for her, and soon enough she was tired and ready for bath and bed. So was Mommy and Daddy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Gift


     Daddy worked late last night so we could take some time off this afternoon to go see Praise in Motion's "The Gift."  It was a wonderful opportunity to take Madison to see ballet dancers in action.  Her eyes were glued to the stage, as the ballerinas twirled and danced on point across the set pieces.

     The performance is designed to creatively communicate the real Christmas message - an entertaining series of dances that walk the audience through different parts of the Nativity story.  The angels, the shepherds - and even the sheep are there, as well as Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  Set to beautiful Christmas music, this is a performance we've seen for several years now.  It's free to attend, though they do ask for donations.

     Madison was actively watching it at times.  She couldn't help but try to imitate the dancers on stage when they'd kick or throw their arms upward.  That's why Mommy and Daddy picked the back row!

     This year's performance was a little different from the past several years - it was still enjoyable for Mommy and Daddy, although they prefer last year's more traditional format.  Still, this is a free event that the dancers and stagehands put a tremendous amount of work into, and we are happy to support any dance ministry.  Especially after having seen Madison's reaction to the dancers!

     Seriously, she twirled and danced after the show - and during the show too.  Leaving the performance, she was quite happy.  We asked her if she enjoyed it, and of course she said, "yeah."  During the performance, we tried to tell her the story as it unfolded, how Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem and how the Wise Men came with their crowns to lay at Jesus' feet.  Madison knows the word "crown," too.  She owns a crown or two, and made sure she called that out from the audience during the production.  

Madison:  "Crown!"

Daddy and Mommy:  "Shhhhhhh!"

     All in all, we were glad we went.  For one, the exposure was good for Madison.  Another reason is that it has become a Christmas tradition for us, and a nice thing to do this time of year.  Finally, it's just a great and creative way to tell the Christmas story to Madison.

     Speaking of which, recently we've ordered another item to help us tell the real story of Christmas.  It is a Little People nativity set.  This one came with a manger, Wise Men and their tents, and even a few of those inns that seem to always be full of people.  


     It's a great tool for teaching the Bible, and the real meaning of Christmas.  Madison has been playing with this set nonstop ever since she opened it too.  At one point, there were at least twenty farm animals all lined up in a straight line, apparently waiting to see the baby Jesus.  Towards the end of the line were Leo, Annie, Quincy and June:  the Little Einsteins.  Everybody wants to see Jesus!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter Wonderland


Madison can't wait for it to snow. Even though it hasn't happened yet, we did have some fun taking pictures of her walking in a Winter Wonderland, as you can see above.

What a beautiful little girl we have been so blessed to be with. She sparkles like the glistening snowflakes that glitter and shine, adding beauty to the world wherever she drifts.

Madison knows the word "snow," calling it out all the time when she sees it in movies or pictures - but maybe this year she'll see more of it than usual. That's our hope, of course!

Living in her orphanage in China, which was below the Tropic of Cancer, it is safe to assume she never saw any snow before. Her first experience came one day last March when she was with us. It was March 1st, to be precise, when she saw for a few hours snow falling down in front of our house.

It was magical - and fun. Madison enjoyed throwing snowballs at Daddy, and simply staring in wonder at the white stuff falling from the skies. It is such a joy to be a parent, watching her experience things for the first time. There's little doubt though that the next time will be just as magical!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh, Christmas tree!

Oh, Christmas tree.  Oh, Christmas tree!  Mommy and Daddy surprised Madison this year with her very own Christmas tree!  Oh what fun it was to bring it in…when she was least expecting it!

Daddy snuck it in, and Madison turned around and just laughed with joy at her new pink Christmas tree.  We plugged it in pretty quickly, but we weren’t finished yet.  Mommy brought in some ornaments for Madison to hang on the tree too!

As we played a Baby Einstein’s Christmas CD, one by one, Madison carefully arranged the different color ornaments on the tree.  The first ones she put up as if she were an expert, having done it all her life.  Seriously, outside of maybe seeing it in a movie recently, the only other time we can remember her watching anyone decorate a tree must have been last Christmas. 


Nevertheless, she put those ornaments on – and did so in just the right way:  she made sure the ornaments were placed all over the tree, rather than all clumped together.  She even made sure the backside of the tree had enough ornaments to balance everything out.

It was a very nice time in the playroom, and just to get in the spirit of things, we took several photos of Madison dressed in a very festive Christmas outfit, and took some neat pictures that we'll share a bit later.

After that, it was time to do some chores about town.  As we dropped by Lowe’s, we spent a lot more time than necessary in the seasonal section.  So many more Christmas trees!  And lights!  And giant inflatable things!  Madison just loved pressing buttons on all the dancing stuffed animals they had there.  There were miniature buildings that played music, princesses that skated, Tiggers that bounced and even a replica of Graceland that rocked.  It was such a simple thing, but Madison had a great time in that little area – almost as much fun as taking her to an amusement park!

Tonight, she got sleepy a little early.  That's all right - it was a later night last night with church and such.  Madison has kept quite busy lately, which is wonderful.  But things are about to pick up the pace a bit as we get closer to Christmas.  You can tell she's excited - she's definitely got a lot of Christmas spirit!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Storytime

It was another rainy day, but Madison made sure everyone was entertained - as you can see here. She lined up some of her favorite stuffed animals next to her as she read them all a nice story. She's imitating Mommy and Daddy in this photo here - that's something she loves to do.

Just tonight, when Daddy arrived for dinner, she kept calling out "eat!" She set a place for Daddy at the table, a plastic plate already filled with fake fruits and vegetables. She escorted Daddy to his seat and even went to get some condiments: plastic mustard, plastic ketchup, plastic salt and plastic pepper. She added a little of each to Daddy's plate, and I must say: You haven't lived until you've had plastic pear with mustard spread all over it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Looking forward to The Gift

Ida ho, ho, ho!  Tropical Depression Ida came to town, a tropical depression that has forced us all indoors again all day.  Now  I know why it's called a depression:  you're stuck inside all day! 

This used to be a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, but we've been blessed that the wind has died down considerably.  Still, it's not a day to be outside.  It's poured rain heavily, dumping several inches of rain on us again.  But Mommy and Madison still knew how to have fun.  Mommy plugged in a video from several years ago:  a performance from "The Gift."  It's a ballet we plan on seeing as a family this Saturday, and a tradition Zena and I have enjoyed for the past several years.  It is the Christmas story set to beautiful music and dance, and I can't recommend it enough. 


Last year, Daddy and Mommy took Madison for the first time.  She did really well watching it, and was fascinated by the dancers in the beautiful dresses.

As soon as Mommy plugged in the video, Madison put on her favorite pink tutu and ballet shoes (over her tie-dye t-shirt!).  Along with the dancers, Madison twirled and did her best to stand on her toes.  It was a magnificent performance!  We plugged in this video so that Madison would become accustomed to the performance she'll see this Saturday.  We're really looking forward to it, as it has become somewhat of a sign that Christmas is really here!

Together, Mommy and Madison watched this video in the playroom, quietly seated and eyes fully focused on the television set.  I don't think we'll have a problem keeping her focused on the stage Saturday!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Ho, ho, ho!

     It's only November 9th, but the Christmas season is in full swing at our house.  Why even today, we made our now annual trip to go have a photo of Madison taken with Santa at the Mall of Georgia.  Mommy dressed her up in a wonderful Christmas outfit for the photograph, and Daddy thought ahead to bring his camera (that's what's called "foreshadowing").

     We got there around eleven, and there was hardly any line at all.  That's why we like to do the Santa photo early!  In fact, when Madison came up to see Santa, there was nobody behind her and only one family in front of her.

     She couldn't wait.  She rushed up to jump in the chair with Santa, who was very nice to her.  Mommy and Daddy liked this Santa - we saw him walking the mall earlier.  He was very quick to compliment Madison on her pretty outfit.  Ho, ho, ho!

     On a scale of 1 to 10, we'd give Santa a perfect 10.  On the scale of 1 to 10 for the photographers, I'd probably give them a disappointing 2.  They snapped one photo, and I feel like we were lucky Madison was looking somewhere near the camera at the time.  They said that was the good shot, and were ready to move us along quickly, despite the fact that there was nobody else in line behind us.  One snap of the camera and it's time to move along... I guess they were practicing to see how fast they could move people through for when it got really busy later on...

     Fortunately, Daddy brought along his camera and snapped a few shots "for insurance."  Thankfully, we did get a good photo with Santa on our camera... but you aren't going to see it yet!  Nope:  you'll have to wait until you get our Christmas card!

     Madison has a great Santa impersonation by the way:  she'll put her hands across her belly and say it as low as she can:  "Ho, ho, ho!"

     Anyway, after our adventure at the North Pole Embassy, we did some shopping and after a stroll around the mall, we can safely say it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  In fact, tonight is a Mommy and Daddy date night - we're planning on going to see "A Christmas Carol" at the theater.  We'll let you know how it is, but until then a very Merry Christmas to you.  That is, unless you're one of those mall photographers today, in which case:  Bah, humbug!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Grandma


     Today after church we traveled over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house to visit for a while.  Her birthday is coming up in another week and a half, so we used this opportunity to bring Madison up and have a small gathering.  

     Ye-Ye and Nana were already there, helping out by doing some household chores - but all that stops when Madison shows up.  Madison ran up and gave her great grandmother a big hug when she saw her, and gave her a birthday card from all of us.  Daddy carried along a gift bag, and Mommy carried along some key lime pie (oh boy!).

     It was a pleasant visit, one that Madison enjoyed quite a bit.  She played on some of her great-grandmother's exercise equipment, and of course played around with Ye-Ye and Nana.  The weather was very nice outside, so we talked out there for a bit, and even walked across the old airstrip to our former house.  Yes, we all used to live on an airstrip.  

     The airport was quite busy today, and Madison watched several airplanes take off - and even an ultra-light.  Mt. Yonah still loomed in the distance, but quite a bit has changed in White County.  You could see that even with the photographs lining Great Grandmother's shelves:  along the bottom were the newer ones, with the latest pictures of the newest family member, Madison.  Yes, a lot for us has changed!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weird Science

Here Madison is with her Willy Wonka goggles and rubber gloves, ready to experiment! Her latest projects have been making radical shapes with pretzel isotopes.
Madison's area of expertise in the field of science has to do mostly with inertia. For example: "if I throw this at someone, will it hit them in the face?" Most of the time: yes. She's got good aim. Just not with those big rubber gloves.

The first week of "Weird Science" at our children's church has been eventful: we've powered a clock with a potato, set up an ant farm, gone on a tour of the universe, seen really cool optical illusions - and oh yes, dropped hundreds of Mentos in bottles of Diet Coke and saw them explode. FORTY TWO bottles of Diet Coke! Hopefully, we'll be able to post a portion of that video here later - it was most impressive!


Today was largely a work day for Daddy, and Mommy too. Madison was up late last night as we had an adventurous drive home from Cartersville. It was a nice trip - and it was good to visit another church, but the late night last night means an early one today. Madison's already asleep, which is good. She'll be up early tomorrow for church, and after that we'll be heading to her great-grandmother's house! It's Great-Grandma's birthday, so we'll be joining Ye-Ye and Nana up in Cleveland for a few hours for a nice quiet celebration.

Hopefully we'll stay away from too many science experiments involving sugar and cake!