Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

Today started out rather dull, but it ended with fireworks... literally! It was largely a work day for Daddy, who took Madison along with him to the office. Everyone enjoys having her around - in fact, during filming today, she was holding the boom with the microphone on it! She's a great little helper. But soon it was time to head home to get ready for something else...


Tonight, the Hitchcocks came over to spend the evening with us: Abbie, Rachel and Madison had a lot of fun running around, playing in their room - and watching the new Tinkerbell movie. In the meantime, Mommy, Daddy, Greg and Judy were sitting in the kitchen talking, and playing dominoes. Haven't played in a while - if you get a chance to do so, I thoroughly recommend it. Fun game.

ANYWAY, Mommy had all sorts of delightful snacks for us. Shrimp cocktail, of course. And those little hot dog wraps too. Plus the cheeses, chicken nuggets, chips and dip. Lots of stuff to sustain us through the night. Daddy ate a lot.

The Hitchcocks left around ten thirty or so, so Mommy and Daddy did some cleaning up while Madison played with her Barbie dolls in the living room. 2010 was almost over, so we let Madison stay up to watch the ball drop on a live feed off the computer. The feed was flawless and you could hear all the energy of Times Square - without the commercials and paid performances inside studios. It was great, and Madison was ready, getting dressed up with her tiara, her necklaces and noisemakers. She had been using them all night, but Daddy trained her to wait until we reached the end of the countdown!

video

Madison had a great night with her friends, and then counting down the new year. It's 2011 now, which might take some time getting used to. 2010 was a wonderful year: lots of snow, trips to Disney, and a whole lot of blessings, favor and grace from God. We pray the same for this upcoming year, not only for us - but for all of you, our closest and dearest friends.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

I, Chihuahua

So Madison got a lot of baby furniture for Christmas. She has a few baby dolls, and now she has a place for each of them to spend the night. The latest ritual is putting them to bed each night, making sure they are covered up and warm. Madison says good night to each one, and sometimes even gives one or two a kiss. There is a changing table for the baby dolls, so when she gets up in the morning, we've got to do that of course. It's a fun little routine we've got going, and with all the cribs and beds, we can't help but occasionally wonder if she remembers the orphanage...

Today she spent the day with Mommy and Daddy at the office. Others were there too, and Madison took advantage of this time to crawl all over everyone, drive her car around the office area, and catch another movie or two - like this one here:

One movie she's been fascinated with is "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," which I estimate she's seen about five times so far. There's something about chihuahuas - she's even said the word "chihuahua" to us a few times. Aye, chihuahua!

There is a sequel coming out in February: the cleverly named "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2." I suspect we might be picking that up for her as a Valentine's Day gift or something. Yes, nothing says "I love you," like a talking chihuahua movie. I think that this should be part of their add campaign.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spongicus


One year ago, we were preparing for February's new series "Wonderland," and this year is a little different: we're doing a series called "Gladiators," which features a look at the book of Romans, and a bit of Roman culture thrown in. Can't wait to show you pictures of our set and characters - we'll have togas, Roman soldiers and even a bust! For "research," we got "Spongicus," starring Spongebob and Plankton. We'll have to watch soon. We might not get anything useful out of it, but we tend to watch a lot of movies related to the themes of our series. Mommy and Daddy are not Gladiator movie type people, but we did enjoy "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Although we are really looking forward to seeing Plankton as Caesar...



ANYWAY, Daddy's been reading a lot lately about Roman culture for a bit of research, and hopefully we'll have a devotional all hammered out within two weeks.

Technically, this is a week off for us at the church, but the fact is that the show must go on - we've been going in to the office to get things done for the new series, and also preparing for February. At least it is all at a slower pace this week. Sadly, we won't have time for the mermaids at the aquarium. Mommy was sick earlier this week, and Madison was recovering as well - we just couldn't squeeze it into the schedule this time around. Oh well, maybe we'll go to Florida to see them after all...

Today we hopped in the car and did some errands. Daddy and Madison mainly stayed in the car as Mommy ran into different places to pick up things, or trade in Christmas gifts with receipts. 'Tis the season for all that!

We're planning on having the Hitchcocks over for New Year's Eve at our house. It'll be the first New Year's Eve at our new house, obviously, so we're rather looking forward to that. Mommy's going to go out and get some snacks and the one thing that Daddy seems to always need at New Year's Eve: shrimp cocktail. Don't ask me how some of these traditions get started!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Desantafication Process has Begun!

Our tradition at our house isn't to take the Christmas tree down until the morning after New Year's Day. We do this just because the week after Christmas, it is nice to have it up - and plus it keeps the house nice on New Year's Eve.

BUT, some of the other decorations are getting put away now - it's a long process, actually. Looking around the neighborhood, it's amazing how many Christmas decorations go up in yards and on rooftops. So much work!

The after-Christmas blues used to be pretty tough for Daddy a while back: January used to be a spectacularly dull sort of month. But when we first started dreaming of being with Madison, we started to use that month to celebrate the Chinese New Year in. We decorated the house with Chinese decor, watched the "Mulan" movies - or other themed movies too. Suddenly, January wasn't so bad! Of course, nothing beats the magic of December. But January certainly isn't a dull month anymore. Speaking of which, we've got a great new series at KidPak next month: Daddy has been busy working towards our new series at KidPak, called "Spy Games." January will be a lot of fun for the kids!


We've got a "Get Smart" sort of thing going on, but throw in a little "Spy Kids" and a tiny bit of James Bond. The research has been fun, watching spy movies and such - tomorrow we'll work on a bit more of the set, costumes and a lot of the video material. Lots of work to do towards that end, but this is a fun series that everyone enjoys.

The Christmas snow is still on the ground, which is nice. But it also serves to illustrate that it has been pretty chilly this week. It's the kind of weather that you're reluctant to even try going outside in - you sort of have to force yourself to make an effort.

Madison is watching the Peter Pan movies lately, including right now. That's a preview of something to come in January. Actually, January has another surprise in store as well. We're going to Neverland later on in the month, but in just a few short weeks, Madison is once again going to meet... Belle!

Monday, December 27, 2010

First Impression


Today was another INSIDE DAY, partially because Mommy wasn't feeling well - but also because we didn't have to do anything in particular anyway. Daddy worked a bit on the new series, but Madison put a quick end to that by climbing all over him - as you can see above!

Daddy also spent the day cooking on the stove for Madison and Mommy. Before you think he was some sort of Iron Chef, here's the scoop: we had Campbell's Soup and Ramen noodles all day long.

We checked out some of our new movies, like "Despicable Me" and even "Fantasia," which Daddy was happy to watch again. We sort of skipped over that one scene at the end, of course....!

And yes, we played with a bunch of our toys too! We did the first of many puzzles Madison got, which she's gotten very good at doing. She does 48 piece puzzles right now with no problems at all. She's quite smart at putting them together. And take a look at this toy to the right. Again, we go back to EPCOT in 1982 - I remember this big table with pins on it that you pushed your hands against: it made an impression of your hand. Or your face if you got down there! Fast forward a few years later, and here's Madison's face pressed into some of those plastic pins. I told her to close her eyes and open her mouth, and there's the end result. She and Daddy were giggling at that for quite some time.

Currently, Madison is snuggling with Mommy on the couch. Hopefully, Mommy will be feeling better tomorrow - we might be going to the aquarium to see mermaids!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After Christmas

Here's a photo of Madison using some of her new play furniture - in this case, it's a play ironing board and play iron. She's currently ironing out the baby's blankets in order to keep the baby warm, because it is really cold outside. Currently at 5:00 pm, it is still flurrying outside and the temperature is at twenty-seven degrees outside. It isn't really the sort of day to go out and frolic in, although at one point I was sorely tempted to go and check out the hill that goes into our back yard. Imagine how that sledding can be... I guess we'll wait until the next snow storm for that one. I think it will be sooner than we think, really. Today was a day to recover, actually. When growing up, it is always the day to get acquainted with your new toys, and that's what Madison has been doing all day long. We've been dressing up dolls, using this new game that helps you trace letters and learn to write, and watching television in the living room. We started out with a Barbie mermaid movie, and then moved on to "Shrek 4," which was actually pretty good. I'd put it up there with the other Shrek movies, which are pretty fun to watch. It's a lazy day right now, and everyone is just catching up on rest: we'll probably plug in another movie after a tasty Tombstone pizza - and maybe tonight try out one of the new bottles of bubble bath that Mommy got for Christmas! We're not doing much to today, but it's all right: all is well. We're together and everything is right.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas


Merry Christmas!

Beautiful. Magical. Wonderful. Words can't describe well enough the day itself, or how amazing it was for us. This afternoon, as we got home from Ye-Ye and Nana's house, the snow continued to pour down outside in such a way that others may be used to - but not us. Snow doesn't happen that often here, and yet it happens today on Christmas Day. How incredible!

There's that scene in that movie "White Christmas," where the general and everyone else open the large door to their inn and look outside! There it is: snow pouring down all around them. "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know..." Mommy and Daddy used to know a white Christmas, having grown up in a colder environment further north. But we've never seen one down here before.


Until today. It's a magical scene in the movie when they finally see the snow fall. And that's just the way it was for us today. Madison opened up her presents from Mommy and Daddy (and Santa!) as the thick snowflakes descended down from the heavens. In the fireplace roared a warm blaze, as the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree glowed and brought us that special kind of joy that can only happen one day each year.


This morning, Madison was last to arise, which we thought strange. It's probably because she could have used some more sleep, especially after a night of making merry at Ye-Ye and Nana's house for Christmas Eve. Still, the promise of opening gifts we thought would have her rising earlier than we. Listening for the rapid footsteps down the hall, Mommy and Daddy were up to make sure we didn't miss a moment of her first gaze upon the presents beneath the tree. And just outside her room, even. There, she saw all sorts of baby furniture and presents donated from other families. How blessed we are! Finally, she arose, and groggily headed out of her room into a scene of wonder:


There they all were, lined up under her tree upstairs - and all beneath the large tree downstairs. Santa's cookies were eaten, the carrots were gone - and the glass of milk was empty!

We made our way to the great room, where all her presents rested. Looking to us and asking for permission, we said "go ahead!" That's when one by one, she methodically opened some of her gifts. A few were from Cinderella, and others from Ariel. Several were from Santa, and even Rudolph had a few for her. We opened just a few of our gifts this morning before we got "the call." That's the one where Ye-Ye and Nana tell us everyone is up and awake at their house - and it's time to head over there. Before heading over, it was time to dress up appropriately: Madison chose a red dress, and of course put on her Christmas hat - complete with Mickey Mouse ears on top. It's a cute Christmas hat we got at Disney several years ago. She could have worn one of her costume dresses she got today - here's one that she's putting on display for us now.


She loves the costume dresses very much - today she got four to add to her collection, including a mermaid one. That mermaid theme goes along with the mermaid Barbie, the mermaid Barbie movie - and of course all the Ariel stuff she unwrapped. Later on, we plan on making a theme hopefully Monday when we go see some mermaids at the Georgia Aquarium. But today, we had to get over to Ye-Ye and Nana's house for Christmas!

Quickly, we made our way over to their house to join the family for Christmas. They had been watching "A Christmas Story," but quickly put on the festive Christmas music so we could open our presents together. It was another special Christmas with family - along with a great meal. There was plenty to eat - and there were plenty of candy treats, fudge and maple pieces. And oh yes: there was egg nog. Got to have the egg nog. One gift Madison received was a baby doll from Nana, which was Asian and very cute. Madison took to her immediately, and the two spent time changing diapers and clothing and taking care of the baby. Soon, that baby would be home and in her very own crib. Until then, Madison had fun taking care of her new baby doll.


Madison loved opening her presents, and enjoyed playing with them too. She enjoyed Hannah's presents as well. It was a very nice, and then the snow started to fall. So many times we're let down by a missed forecast, but not today. The snow came down: let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

After exchanging gifts - some were quite funny (fruitcake!) - it was time to get home. We figured the roads might be troublesome, so it would be better to get home as soon as possible. And that's where it became a winter wonderland. Christmas lights are hung up all over the neighborhood, and thick snow fell all around. It was just like a Christmas card.

Madison opened her presents at home with such glee, making sure we took turns to open up Mommy and Daddy's presents as well. We took turns to watch each other open each gift, but it was really special watching Madison open each gift. She was so appreciative, and so grateful. It was the happiest Christmas!


Later on, we watched one of Daddy's Christmas presents, "Fantasia 2000," and ate a small meal before getting Madison to bed. Church is cancelled for tomorrow, as are most activities. This means we'll all sleep in, which is really great news for us - it's been a busy season. That is a Christmas gift I really needed! After Madison was in bed, Mommy and Daddy watched "A Muppet Christmas Carol" one more time before heading to bed ourselves. There was nothing "Bah Humbug" about today. What an unforgettable Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus


Santa is in Bolivia! Maybe he can get me a watch while he's there - it's about time!

Today has been another massive day. We start at the beginning, of course: Madison woke up first, quite excited about it being Christmas Eve. You could hear her little feet stomping down the hallway and jumping into our room. She called out, "Wake up! Wake up!"

We did the advent calendar one more time, and Daddy is pretty proud to say we managed to remember that advent calendar every single day. Madison helped us remember too, bringing the book out each day so she could open a new window each morning. Also, the amaryllis is nearly in bloom - another sign that Christmastime is here.

Daddy has some shopping to do, so he raced out the door just like Arnold did in "Jingle All the Way." Daddy had a much easier time with things than Arnold did, though the crowds were really out there in force. Fortunately, I was not after a Turbo Man. Meanwhile, Mommy and Madison prepared for the big day by wrapping and cooking and making spirits bright. We watched some more Christmas movies and listened to more Christmas music. We have an extensive library, and have been watching Christmas movies ever since November 1st! Can you believe Christmas is here already?

Later on this evening, Daddy met Mommy and Madison at the church for Christmas Eve service. This time, Daddy wasn't on the stage: instead it was Madison! She was a cute little sheep again just like last year, and joined the others in the stable for our big Christmas Eve service. She did wonderfully out there, and got a big reaction from the crowd - and our Pastor - when she hopped out there in her little outfit!


Mommy and Daddy were backstage, just beaming at our beautiful daughter. It wasn't a huge part or anything - she just went out as a lamb to the nativity scene, and then returned when the story was over. But still, it was really sweet. And she enjoyed it quite a bit. She even did one of her cute fake sneezes at the end, which got lots of people laughing. Daddy's favorite part was when the people walked by to be counted for the census, Madison waved at the Roman soldier. Here she is below, posing with a few of her friends backstage:


After church, just like every Christmas Eve, we went to Ye-Ye and Nana's house for food, fellowship and fun! Seriously, it is always a wonderful time to get together. They had all sorts of great food there, and everything was decorated nicely. We watched a little of "Despicable Me" before going through our tradition of opening up at least one present. Madison was excited to open hers up - she actually opened two!

When we got home, it was time to get ready for bed. We checked the Norad Santa tracker, and got some cookies and milk put out for Santa should he drop by. Madison was quite helpful in setting up the plate with the cookies. She put out carrots too, just for the reindeer!
The forecast for tomorrow is still snow. It's technically tomorrow evening, and not during the daytime so much. But still, the odds are pretty high against that happening at all. According to the local news agency:

"Snow on Christmas is a rare occurrence. The last time snow was seen on Christmas in the Atlanta area was in 1993, when there was a trace.

The last measurable snow was back almost 130 years ago, when nearly a third of an inch lay on the ground."


So, the last time snow was on the ground in Atlanta on Christmas day, Rutherford B. Hayes was President of the United States. I didn't vote for him.

In any event, everyone here is dreaming of a White Christmas. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and Madison is upstairs dreaming of sugar plums. It has been a special, wonderful day - but tomorrow holds many joyous surprises to be unwrapped like the presents left beneath our tree. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fruit Cake


This fruitcake has been passed about from family to family for a few years now. I'm not entirely sure how old it is, but I do know we have it now. And I also know - we're giving it away this year! Moo-ah-ah-ah!

Pssst! Have you heard yet? There's a rumor that we might have snow on Christmas...

“The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”
~ Johnny Carson


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candy Canes

Madison's favorite treat this season by far has been the candy cane. It doesn't help that they are everywhere. Just yesterday while we were at the post office mailing out Christmas cards, the postal worker had a candy cane for Madison, which she gladly accepted with a "thank you!"

We've got a few on the gingerbread house, and maybe we'll put a few on the Christmas tree as well. The problem there is that she'll sneak them off the tree and eat them - she's getting kind of sneaky when it comes to that sort of thing!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
This might be a great opportunity to talk about one of her Christmas books, "The Legend of the Candy Cane." This book has nice illustrations in it, and features a mysterious stranger who arrives in town one day to open up a special kind of shop: a candy store. By the book's end, we learn a Biblical story that can be shared - all based on the shapes and colors of the candy cane.

* For example, the candy cane is a "J" shape. This is apparently a fairly important letter when it comes to the Bible.

* It's also the shape of a shepherd's crook, which brings to mind the shepherds in the field, or Psalm 23.

* Finally, there are the red stripes on the candy cane, which can be tied to Jesus' death and resurrection.

The book is nice, and something pleasant to read while eating a candy cane - which makes Madison enjoy it all the more. One more note: there is some debate about the history of the Christian symbology of the candy cane. To which I now respond, using carefully researched analysis based on ancient paperwork from the Cologne Cathedral in Germany: WHO CARES?

I mean seriously: no one today really knows who first came up with the candy cane or why. So just let it go!

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel."
-Buddy the Elf

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cooties

Madison started the day out on a yucky note - she was sick. We heard her crying in the room and Daddy almost got her to the bathroom in time, if you know what I mean.

She's been quiet and sleepy all day long. She's certainly in better condition, but I suspect she's also worn out. It's wreaked havoc on our schedule for today, but things could be considerably worse when you think about it, which I have. For example, what if she was sick this past Sunday when all the church activities were going on? Or what if she was sick on Christmas?

When you think about it with that sort of perspective, you become grateful that it was today that things took a turn for the worse, and not on Christmas morning. Still, you hate to see her suffering in any way. Again, fortunately, she's been asleep for a larger portion of the day.

Earlier this morning, in an attempt to brighten her day a bit, we let her open a few early Christmas presents from Marilyn and her family - and Kelly and Chad. From the latter, she got something that Daddy remembers having when he was a kid:


The Cootie Bug Game! Madison enjoyed this for a bit today, not necessarily playing by the rules, but certainly having fun putting the famous bugs together. Daddy had fun with them too, actually.

Yes, it's safe to say it: today, Madison had Cooties.

Mommy actually attended Christmas Eve play practice tonight - in order to suit everyone up - as Daddy stays here to watch over Madison as she sleeps. She's stirring now... looks like I have to go. We'll probably plug in another Christmas movie and do some snuggling...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas with Godzilla


Here's a sneak peek at our upcoming Christmas card that goes out to select folks who tend to appreciate a Godzilla-themed Christmas card moreso than others. Once we deal with printer issues, we should have these in the mail tomorrow - just in time, really.

Today we've mailed the rest of the cards out, so that's done with just in time as well. Speaking of "last minute," Daddy and Madison did some shopping for Mommy today and had some success. It was fun having Madison along for some shopping - she even picked out a few items for Mommy along the way!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
As of late, we've been reading by Madison's Christmas tree - and reading Christmas stories. Obviously, there is the true Christmas story, about which we have a few children's books. "A Night the Stars Danced for Joy" springs to mind as a great book we've featured before with Madison's Book Club. We have plenty of other Christmas books we've picked up along the way, even one written by Stan Lee. One book that Madison has enjoyed for two years is "A Pirate's Night Before Christmas." Daddy likes this one too, and is required to read it with a pirate voice. This version has a pirate ship waiting for Sir Peggedy, complete with a hook and peg leg. It's a great book with fun artwork. Madison asks to have it read over and over again, which I happily oblige. Arrr!

Tonight, we made Christmas cookies. Mommy picked up some sugar cookies from the grocery store, and we decorated them with peppermint sprinkles, green and red crystals and so forth. We plugged in a copy of a "Miser Brother's Christmas," and attacked the cookies with our sprinkles!

"I'm too much." - Snow Miser

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Here's a photo of our beautiful Christmas tree, resting in front of the fireplace and hanging stockings. Mommy is resting on the couch with Madison, both watching a Christmas movie or two. We've got a lot of recovering to do, now that our Christmas play is over with - we're zonked! Things worked out really well in all four performances, each one with every seat filled and latecomers put out into overflow. With acrobatics, comedy, and great musical numbers, this was a memorable event for anyone who attended. Mommy did so well with the costuming, and it worked out so well.

But now it is time to rest! We had plans to do Christmas cards or wrap or even shop today - but the best we could manage was to lay around on the couch and watch Christmas movies all day. Nothing wrong with that: we've been doing a ton of work on this production lately, and it's time to catch up on some rest beneath the Christmas tree.

This year, one of Madison's favorite Christmas songs is "Oh Christmas Tree." She sings that one - and "Jingle Bells" frequently. She also does "Silent Night," which - despite the fact she doesn't know the words - is one of the sweetest things you can hear.

Right now, Mommy is watching one of her favorite Christmas movies, "The Preacher's Wife." It's a remake of an older Christmas movie, "The Bishop's Wife," which Daddy really likes. They both feature angels who come down from heaven to help out a very busy, very burdened minister. Of course they both have happy endings. The ending of "The Bishop's Wife" is classic, and features a wonderful message:

“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.


Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.


But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new sweater. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we're celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that.


Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”

- Bishop Henry Brougham

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Night of Lights


Another night of the play - but another night of fun for Madison, who this evening went with Ye-Ye and Nana to Lake Lanier's Magical Nights of Lights.

Everyone went along for the night - the cousins, Aunt Shain and Uncle David too. It was a bigger light display this year, and all along the route everyone sang Christmas carols - or simply listened to them on the radio.

Meanwhile, Daddy and Mommy had another engagement at church, arranging costumes or performing as a Snow Angel. As such, my job is to make it snow. We stomp on the clouds to make that happen, which usually generates a lot of laughs. It was a huge night tonight - lots of people, and a lot more in overflow too. We had a good time, but it sounds like Madison did too. She always does when she's with Ye-Ye and Nana!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Imagine Christmas

So tonight was the night of the big play - and everything seemed to go splendidly. There were a few hiccups here and there, but for a church production, this was as spectacular an event as they come. Here's a photo of our Mary, cradling the newborn baby Jesus as she dances across the stage with joy. She was a very good Mary, but then again, so were all the actors. It was a fun group to work with, and basically live with for the past few months, as practice has gone on and on and on for quite some time. Part of you is happy to have it over, and yet part of you looks around at the friends and family surrounding you during this production - and then you begin to savor the waning moments and realize just how special it all was. No doubt the audience agreed. Can you believe we had 18,000 people attend?


The word spectacular is one of the few words that can apply to this sort of event: we had all sorts of acrobats, musical numbers, aerial work, and costumes (many created by Mommy).


Daddy did some of the aerial work - maybe we'll get a picture of that soon: once again, Daddy was hoisted many feet up into the air, flying across the auditorium as he attempted to say his lines. It was sort of fun, but at the same time not something I'm terribly fond of. Let's just say it isn't the most comfortable of experiences. But, it is a neat experience that I'm grateful for - and we'll leave it at that!

Here's a photo of Daddy with his fellow "snow angel" Javier. We're about to leave the clouds for a bit to go take a closer look at what's going on down there on the planet with the people.

Madison spent this night with Ye-Ye and Nana again, who were more than gracious about watching her on this big premiere night. We just couldn't have Madison with us tonight - it was a really hectic sort of atmosphere before the show. Mommy was tremendously busy making sure everyone's costumes were right, and with a huge cast like this, it was quite the challenge. But she did very, very well.

The place was packed: thousands came to see it, and we're expecting a full house for the remaining three shows tomorrow and Sunday. It will get better - but tonight's show wasn't that bad at all. It seems like only yesterday that we were starting practice...

While Daddy was flying through the air, Madison was making an ornament for her pink tree. Ye-Ye and Nana had a nice craft for her to do, one that she could take home and hang up on her tree. This she promptly did when she got home. Another thing she did was make popcorn and cranberry strands for Ye-Ye and Nana's Christmas tree. We'll see that one soon enough, but it sounds like Madison had a great time over at the house.

Soon, Madison will get to see the show. In fact, she may be involved in an upcoming Christmas play soon enough. Until then, she'll just have to close her eyes... and imagine!


Amaryllis

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2010


Each year around Thanksgiving, Mommy "plants" a bulb for an amaryllis inside a neat glass container filled with rocks and a tiny bit of water. The idea is that by the time the flower blooms - it will be Christmas. Well, this - along with the Advent Calendar - has been a great thing to do each morning with Madison as she arises. Both mark the time rather well: the advent calendar is fairly obvious as each day passes by. And as each morning we rise, Mommy points out the stem of the amaryllis, and Madison sees how much it is growing upward. As of today, it is just starting to open, slowly peeking out for the first time. This flower has four blooms on it, although one year we had five. The thing is so big, it gets kind of top-heavy! But it is a tradition for us, and a simple one at that. Madison will get a kick out of the flower when she sees it bloom, especially because she knows that when that flower is in bloom, Christmas can't be far away!

"No, thank you, AMARYLLITH!" - Winthrop Paroo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Look Out Below!


Madison and Mommy are spending some time on the couch below, as Daddy looks down from the landing. Today was a busy day for Mommy and Madison, who traveled this way and that, still gathering costuming and material for the big performance, which is just two days away. Fortunately, they returned home in time before the subtle ice storm that seemed to nail this area.

Basically, it came down with a whimper - just a bit of a drizzle, really. But the temperature was close enough to freezing that the roads and bridges iced up and wreaked havoc on traffic everywhere. Daddy had a slight challenge getting home from church tonight, but made it home carefully, and certainly not too soon enough.

Though there are accidents all over, this is visually one of the dullest ice storms ever. You expect the icicles and the forests of glass at least, but not this time around. It's this deep, penetrating ice that freezes in every pore of the sidewalk and road, completely taking you by surprise if you aren't ready for it. Daddy drove very carefully, and then walked very carefully. Right now, our sidewalk is a sheet of ice that we could probably skate on!

Tomorrow, we'll wait until things warm up a bit before traveling out. This will give us all a chance to rest, really. We'll need it: the final practice is tomorrow night, and it promises to be a long one!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crafty Madison


Another long work night for play practice, but meanwhile Madison was having an awesome time with Ye-Ye and Nana. Tonight, together they did a really neat looking craft, a snow scene with all sorts of characters within. It looks really nice, and has a place right by the fireplace. In fact, Daddy had Madison pose with it, which she happily did. What a nice smile!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Rooftop Gang

Mommy and Daddy did some Christmas shopping today, and we got a lot done in our various directions. Madison tagged along for the ride, and everyone bundled up for the coldest day in a long time. The temperature outside is seventeen, but the wind makes it feel closer to zero. Daddy, Mommy and Madison were completely covered up with layers and whatnot, but it didn't seem to matter: it was still cold and we found ourselves running for cover from vehicle to store to wherever we could find that was warm!


When we got home, we continued working on our Christmas cards and wrapping gifts. Above, you can see the photo with Santa that we did last year, putting it with each card. We've got some photos with this year's cards, but you'll have to wait for that! This Santa was at the Mall of Georgia. This was the photo that Daddy took - not the one the photographer took. Here below is the one the one the photographer took:


We were the only ones there, and yet the photographers were in a hurry to move us along. Santa was a nice guy, but his elves were apparently not that interested in getting a good picture. We're glad we brought our camera along, because Daddy managed a decent photo when Santa had a few moments with Madison, which was when the elves got busy developing the photo. That's the photo at the top. Santa wanted Madison to give him a high-five, and Daddy snapped a fun photo of the two of them together. I inserted the gift box to make it look like Santa was giving her a gift. That's the photo we wound up using, and not the official photo from the photographers, which looked more like a wanted poster:


We never did anything with the wanted poster, but we did make a neat card last year. We took quite a few photos of Madison dressed in her tutu, waving a wand about like a fairy. We had several great pictures, and chose one to use and create the image below, which most people got at the beginning of December last year:


Madison was a sugar plum fairy, and we think this photo turned out rather nicely. She looks so sweet in her little tutu, and we couldn't wait to take her to the Nutcracker this year. Notice Gingy in the picture, a subtle nod to the Christmas card we sent the year before. Where the first card we sent had an Anne Geddess feel, this one had a different sort of magic to it. Madison's smiles in both images are infectous!

Of course, there's also the Godzilla card we send to the exclusives - that is, those that "get it." Here below is one last photo for this blog entry, a picture of the front of the card we sent last time where Godzilla is snuggled in his bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in his head...


Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Gathering


Here's a nice group shot of everyone that came over to the house today for a quick Christmas gathering - just before play practice. Nearly everyone you see in the photo is involved in the play somehow, so in a rather spontaneous decision, we decided to throw a KidPak Christmas party here at the house after church and before play practice. It was very special: Mommy put together a lot of food for everyone to eat, and of course there was the classic ornament exchange game we do each year. Daddy wound up with the ornament he wanted, which might be a first!

It was a bit rushed, as we did have play practice to attend. But it was good. Madison had a lot of fun with the kids there, showing off her room and her pink Christmas tree. Meanwhile Daddy, Mommy and all the others hung out in the great room, talking and resting by the fire.

To everyone's delight, the snow flakes began to fall this afternoon - and although there may be no accumulations here in Forsyth County, the sight of snow falling is very special here and not taken for granted. Madison was quite excited, but weren't we all?

The only thing unpleasant might have been that turn for the worst with the temperature. It's 24 degrees out there now, but the wind makes it feel much, much colder.

PLay practice ended a little earlier tonight (mainly because it started earlier), so it was great to come home and watch a Christmas movie with Madison. Daddy endured "My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas."

"Why do you delight in torturing me?"
- Ebenezer Scrooge

Yes, soon after it was time for Madison to head to bed. Mommy and Daddy stayed up and watched "Disney's A Christmas Carol," sipping hot chocolate on our comfy couch. Just think: it was fourteen months ago that we first hopped on that "A Christmas Carol" train when it came to Duluth. Here we were tonight, watching it again on our new television. It isn't our favorite of the versions of the story, but the movie looks absolutely incredible, and we still enjoy it. If only they cut out that one scene at the end of the Ghost of Christmas Present's visit...

Anyway, today was a very full day, when you take into account a great church service this morning. We were "at it" all day long, but also managed time for Christmas fun.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living Christmas Tree


Tonight was date night for Mommy and Daddy, and it was all prearranged by God. Seriously, we didn't have this night off originally, and certainly needed a break to do something a little Christmasy. Suddenly, there's a wedding at our church and practice is cancelled! Now there's a nice surprise!

Next, we walk in to the performance above at literally the last minute - and right there are two seats available (and none anywhere else), exactly where we usually sit. It was like they were reserved for us! For this to happen on a Saturday night at this big event was pretty awesome!

It was a very wonderful evening together, as Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the orchestrations and choir arrangements. Lots of harmonies and beautiful music, and as you can see above, lots of lighting effects. The event comes highly recommended!

Afterwards, we went to Red Lobster for a nice meal together before finally heading home. Madison was at Ye-Ye and Nana's house tonight, where she watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," among other things. She loves her grandparents very much, and really enjoys going over there to spend time with them.

It was a busy work day for the most part, until tonight that is. That's when everything just sort of fell into place for us. You know how that goes: it was a very nice Christmas gift, right under the "living" Christmas tree.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Round Two... FIGHT!

Christmas play practice can get quite tedious, so we have sparring matches in the office to cool off. Here, you can see Brock doing battle with Madison with their favorite weapon of choice: cardboard tubes. Regular readers of this blog know very well: the force is strong with Madison. Brock didn't stand a chance. His best strategy was to stand there in a defensive posture and hope to block the onslaught with his weak parries. Here, you can see the execution of her maneuver to its full effect, as poor Brock is clearly in some serious trouble.

Practice is running late each night, but things are looking well. Mommy and Daddy are due a long winter's nap soon. In fact, Madison needs one too. We'll catch up after the play - it's what we do!

Until then, Madison's having a great time with all sorts of people at church. Here's a photo we just found of her playing around with a new friend named Jordan, who is a bundle of energy himself! Jordan is apparently going to be a stunt double for a living, that guy you see in movies that throws himself on top of cars in order to catch the bad guys. In this case, he's clinging to Madison's new car as she careens through the office area. You can see more photos about this on another great blogsite dedicated to Jordan and his family called The Amazing Madness of Motherhood. That's where I nabbed this photo from!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Weird Christmas Traditions


May I direct your attention to the decorations in the photo above: upside down Christmas trees. Our church is infested with them, and basically has had them for several years now for some reason. It still looks weird. The picture above doesn't quite illustrate how odd they are - I'll post one further down that's a good example. Here's an explanation I found on the internet, typed up five years ago when the fad was already a few years old:

"Though strange, this idea may have been inspired by Germany, which hung their trees upside-down back in the 12th century to represent the Holy Trinity. This trend is catching on to the real pines as well. But, they would require special steps like bending the branches and misting the trees with water to prevent them from drying out, as upside-down trees go completely against nature."

The "completely against nature" part has a nice ring to it, and is essentially what I think of these poor trees. Somehow, according to history, the upside down Christmas tree represents the Holy Trinity. The tree is a triangle with three points, and that's where they get the "trinity" part. Yet, doesn't the same tree, when placed right side up like a normal tree, have three points as well?
Madison and Daddy see the upside down Christmas tree in the children's ministry. Daddy hoists Madison up so she can touch it - that's because the weird thing hangs from the ceiling. It's become somewhat of a ritual. Unlike Daddy, she's never questioned why there's a Christmas tree hanging upside down from the ceiling before, but then again, she's seen a few different versions of "Alice in Wonderland," so perhaps it doesn't mess with her mind as much. Having an upside down Christmas tree does spring to mind the Cheshire Cat's words: "We're all mad here." But there are other odd traditions at Christmas time that we hear about each year. Look below, and behold the Gävle Goat:


The burning of the Gävle Goat in Sweden springs to mind immediately when I think of odd traditions. Well, not necessarily the goat itself, but rather the tradition of vandals to set it on fire.


Now that is bizarre. Of course, there's probably someone in Sweden or Germany looking on the internet right now - perhaps even this blog - and seeing our weird Christmas traditions here.

Like the "Living Christmas Trees." Or dancing elves. And yes, visiting a Pink Pig train each year is probably pretty weird too!