Sunday, February 28, 2010

Madison in Wonderland

Our journey to Wonderland is nearly at an end, and it has been a very special series for everyone involved. Mommy put so much effort into these costumes above, aren't they wonderful? The children loved it, and so did the adults! Madison was reluctant to go to bed last night, but when we told her she'd get to dress up as Alice in the morning.... let's just say she went to bed really fast then.

She woke up this morning like it was Christmas. Mommy had ironed her outfit in the night, and Madison couldn't wait to put it on. And then she really wanted to go to Wonderland. All the characters were here today to greet her: she loves them all, and they were happy to see her. In fact, the "real" Alice gave her a crown to wear, as you can see in this picture. The two sat and talked about royal things, and Madison gave her a hug. She gives everyone a hug, actually. Even the Queen of Hearts gets a hug!

This morning, Madison went to two different services: she saw the big kids' service, which featured the Mad Tea Party. Then, she went to the kindergartner's service, which had the Caterpillar talking and blowing bubbles. She was so into both services - and that's what makes our ministry work. I think the wild, imaginative characters open up children's hearts and minds so that when God's Word is preached, they are focused, paying full attention, and ready to learn. In Madison's case, she may not have understood as much. She's still too young for some of it. Still and yet, she couldn't take her eyes off of what was going on in front of her, which shows we're making things fun and interesting. Anyway, next weekend we begin our new series, one that goes in a completely different direction. It's called "Xtreme," and is pretty fun. The theme of extreme sports is always a fun one with the kids, and it is easy to talk about Bible characters that take things to the extreme (in a good way, of course!).

The series is a repeat of one we've done before - it gives us all a chance to rest and/or plan ahead in some respects. The significance with this series though, is that it was last done in June of 2008: the month we went to go meet Madison for the first time. I'll never forget someone getting us a limousine to go to the airport that day we left for China: it said "Xtreme Limousine" on the license plate! It's hard to believe that was nearly two years ago ...where does the time go?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Letter F

Fearless Friends, where would we be without the letter F? We certainly wouldn't be Footloose and Fancy-Free!

First and Foremost, there'd be no Floss, Fairies, Fin whales, Fire trucks, Flowers, Flying squirrels, Furniture, Food pyramids, Fruit bats, Frying pans, Fossils, Finland, Fiddler crabs, Fallings stars, Forests, Frank Sinatra or Fjords. A world without Fjords would be unspeakable: they'd be called jords. That just isn't Fair.

Frequently this week, and certainly all day Friday, her Folks have been Fervently emphasizing this Friendly letter with Madison. Father would say, "Just put your Front teeth on your lower lip, and blow." She can say "Ffffff," which is a start. The hard part is putting it into a word, like "Foot" or "Fish."

Fairly humorous and Funky is her attempt at this word Foot. It is more like those two silhouetted people on that old children's show, "The Electric Company." One would say "Ffff." The other would say "oot." They'd get together and say their word together, and suddenly you had a "Foot."

Funny, but we don't have a Foot yet. We don't even have a leg to stand on. In Fact, with Madison, it would be an egg. And you can't stand on eggs. It's Fascinating: you see, she Favors dropping the First part of most words. For example, if she wanted you to move your Foot that way, she'd say, "Go, oot, at ay."

Fortunately, we understand this Facet just Fine. But obviously we're aspiring to Fix this, but we won't be Frustrated or Fretful, even when Fumbling. We Feel in time we can get her to speak Fluently and with Fine-tuned precision, and the Flight of Fancy will be Fun For the whole Family (like the FISH!).

It will be Fantastic, but Finally it is time For a Finale: This Fabulous, Flashy and nearly Famous blog entry is Finished.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ice Princess

Madison hasn't seen much of the Vancouver Olympic Games this year, but she did get to watch the beautiful gold medal skating performance of Kim Yu-Na. It was a replay on the computer, one that Madison watched a couple times. Look at her holding Mommy's glasses, as if she just took them off in amazement.

It really was an incredible performance. I suppose it is safe to say I've never really understood or appreciated figure skating until this moment. It was so graceful and fluid, unlike anything I've ever seen. Madison and I were impressed, at least! It made me wonder if it is too late to find an ice skating rink to take her to somewhere near. I know there's one down in Gwinnett County, and I also know the temperature is still pretty cold at night time. Maybe Daddy will start coaching her towards a gold medal!

Actually, at three, I imagine Daddy will be hunched over the entire trip around the rink, holding her up and making sure there's a lot of back pain medication for the trip home - oy!

Anyway, we'll watch some more of the Games this evening, after Madison has gone to bed. Shortly before that, Daddy was reading to her a bit from various books. We've got several Rolie Polie Olie books, and a few more Jan Brett Books, including:


"On Noah's Ark," is one of two books I've been reading to Madison lately about the story of Noah's Ark. It's fun having her point out the animals as I call them ("Where's the giraffe?"), and it is also satisfying getting to teach her a Bible story. The artwork is Jan Brett, so therefore it is really wonderful to look at. The words are short and sweet, which give us time to have fun looking at all the artwork on each page. It's a marvelous book, really. AND, it's easy to identify with as of late, with all the rain pouring down.

Of course, we've got a dry forecast coming up next week and warmer weather, which is nice. Maybe we'll get to climb out of the house and go play somewhere. If we get that chance, I know just the place:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Madison's First Checkup

This morning featured another visit to the dentist, but this trip was significant: it was Madison's first check-up. All is well: no cavities! Today was all about getting Madison used to sitting in a dental chair, with her mouth open, and used to the different pieces of equipment the hygienist uses. As you can see, she had no problem whatsoever. Madison went in the chair before Mommy and Daddy did, and had a great time. It helps to have available chocolate flavored toothpaste! Where did that come from. When Daddy was younger, I remember this orange flavored stuff that made you long for the nice taste of unflavored baking soda!

Anyway, Madison enjoyed the hygienist and the way she kept everything nice and easy. Some things, like the water dispenser and the small suction device, can be a scary proposition for children. But with the hygienist's help, Madison didn't have a problem with either. In fact, after using each of these, she would laugh, giggle and carry on!

Soon it was time for Mommy and Daddy to have their teeth inspected, and today we did very good! No cavities on any of us. While each Mommy and Daddy was having their teeth worked on, Madison spent time in the waiting area, where the receptionist had turned the television to Nick, Jr. so that we could watch Dora, and Ruby and Max. When not watching television, or playing with the rubber ball she got as a gift, we went into the receptionist area to meet Sally. That's the name of Dr. McDonald's receptionist. She loves to have Madison here and kept her entertained for quite some time, spinning her around in a desk chair, and bouncing the rubber ball around. Madison giggled and ran around and had a great time there.

She got her own toothbrush and some special toothpaste - Mommy and Daddy have to help her learn to brush, especially in the front teeth area where there was just a tiny area of build up. We'll be good to go, helping her brush her teeth and floss each day. After all, we don't want those Cavity Creeps coming back to attack Toothopolis, with their heinous chant, "We make holes in teeth! We make holes in teeth!"

Anyway, it was a good visit today. To reward ourselves for the successful visit, we all went to Joe's Crab Shack afterwards for a big lunch - and then off for a little shopping for Madison, where we found some nice spring clothing.

Spring clothing? It's hard to imagine anything Spring right now with temperatures in the low 30's. The blustery wind outside makes it feel so much colder, and everyone is ready for Spring! It'll be here soon enough. In fact, the next time we visit the dentist in six months, we'll all probably be complaining about the hot temperatures!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just One Kiss

It is a family tradition that goes back to 1997. It's the singing Frog Prince.

But not just any singing Frog Prince. This is one crazy frog, and the song he sings is legendary in our family:

Just one kiss, and I'll be your Valentine
Your prince is waiting here inside,
just one smooch and you'll be mine - yeah!

It is a simple little stuffed frog, that when hit, sings his song. Actually, any impact at all will get him singing his song. It could be something really subtle, but it doesn't matter. He's going to sing his song:

Just one kiss, and I'll be your Valentine
Your prince is waiting here inside,
just one smooch and you'll be mine - yeah!

His singing has just a hint of menace in it. The funny thing about this one that separates it from other singing stuffed animals is that the song is so weird. It is almost like he's threatening you:

Just one kiss, and I'll be your Valentine
Your prince is waiting here inside,
just one smooch and you'll be mine - yeah!

You expect this sort of thing from a sleazy lounge singer, and certainly not as a sweet gift for Valentine's Day. It is for precisely this reason that we have used this frog as a practical joke in the family for years. It is the perfect thing to leave under someone's pillow, year after year. Once the unsuspecting victim puts their head down for a long winter's nap, suddenly out of the darkness it's there:

Just one kiss, and I'll be your Valentine
Your prince is waiting here inside,
just one smooch and you'll be mine - yeah!

We do this each year just before or at Valentine's Day. The fact that it is a full year before we pull the prank again is probably why the victim(s) forget to check under their pillow, or behind their mattress. On Valentine's Day, I got a call from Nana: She found the frog! She was going to bed, and was lying down on the mattress, quite tired. Suddenly, her pillow started to shake and she heard singing! What on earth is that?!? Oh, it's just that frog again...!

It was another successful year for the Frog Prince, but we weren't through with him yet. This year, Nana returned him to the house, and we decided to let Madison play around with him.
She loves the thing: she even goes "yeah!" when he's done singing. And then she pounds it again, just so she can hear that goofy song! One night, she brought it to bed with her. There she was, alongside Alice and her singing frog. There she was sleeping peacefully with her two best friends in the whole world!

Anyway, here she is with the Frog Prince tonight, enjoying dinner and a show. I think you know what song he's singing. Notice that microphone he holds. He's a crooner for sure, dressed up all snazzy and still waiting for that kiss. Also, strangely, he sits there and vibrates until he's done singing. I really wish I bought another one of these things, it is so weird!

But Madison loves it. Not enough to kiss him yet. Which is fine with Daddy. Some day her prince will come, but not any time soon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Madison laughs hard at Pluto. It's the slapstick. She was sitting in bed with us, just screaming with laughter all the way through. We've been doing the Disney Treasures videos at night from time to time, and this evening we watched part one of the Pluto collection. She laughs hardest at "On the Ice," where poor Pluto is trying to figure out ice skates for the longest time. But pretty much every cartoon with Pluto this evening inspired lots of laughs. This, of course, has inspired me in another direction: the Pluto formerly known as a planet.

Daddy has a telescope, and a pretty decent one at that. Mommy and Daddy have used it to see the rings of Saturn, Jupiter and even some fuzzy nebulas way off, light years away. I think I'm going to set it up soon. I know the nephews will enjoy looking through it, and therefore Madison might want to take a peek too. She might not know yet what it all means, but it'll be fun to have her out there looking at the starry night sky.
I doubt we'll
ever see Pluto through this telescope that we have - or at least be able to say for certain what it is if we did see it. But it still will be a neat opportunity for Madison to look through and see things that I didn't get to as a kid. Speaking of which, when Daddy was younger, Pluto was classified as a planet. Do you remember "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas?"

If you do remember that, you know that each word in that question represents the planets "Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto." That's what we learned in school, how we learned the planets and the order that they appear in our galaxy. But since these scientists have demoted Pluto because of it's size, now there's no pizza anymore! It now reads: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine... nothings!

Do you see, scientists? See what you do when you mess with the natural order of things? See the harm you've done to my daughter and this next generation with your petty complaints against the PLANET Pluto?

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." - Dr. Ian Malcom

Monday, February 22, 2010

Going Home Barbie

With all the Barbie watching lately, Daddy pulled out a special doll for Madison to take a peek at. It is a very rare doll, the "Going Home Barbie," which was given to us at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, China. It is a Barbie that comes with another doll of an adopted asian child, and the only way you can get this type of Barbie is by either adopting a child from China and staying at the White Swan Hotel - or paying for it from someone else. Just out of curiosity, Daddy looked up how much someone was selling our "Going Home Barbie" for on eBay. Ready for it?
This is the sixth edition of this particular doll, and the most recent going price I just looked up is $240. You read that right. That sort of price reminds me of the Cabbage Patch Kids, where seemingly insane collectors spend hundreds on a particular doll. This Barbie is really no different than any other Barbie - it's all in the packaging, and I guess the fact that it is really rare.

Obviously, this is a special doll that isn't for sale. And it isn't going to be opened any time soon either. That's a pretty pricy Barbie!
We can get plenty of other Barbie dolls for Madison, but this one will stay up in a high place for quite some time. Actually, we've got this Chinese New Year Barbie up there too - it's on top of the cabinet with her television set. I'll have to go look that one up too to see how much it is worth! Mommy just reminded me that we also have these Hula Barbie dolls from our wedding gift (we went to Hawaii for our Honeymoon). Add those to the original Barbie doll that Mommy has - a 1962 version with a bubble cut. Don't we sound like collectors or something? The truth is, we're not really that into Barbie. But if Madison wants to start collecting, she's got a little head start I suppose.

Anyway, we watched a Barbie movie this morning. It was "Barbie - Swan Lake," which Madison enjoyed for the dancing. It was a slow morning, mainly because the rain and cold. That sort of weather forces you inside. Add to that the fact we had a busy Sunday, and it made for a perfect morning of lounging about watching television and being lazy. But that's enough Barbie talk for now!

Today, a little later, we walked down to the lake again. After the rain gave way, it was overcast and grey, but warm enough to go for a walk - so long as we were wearing our heavier jackets. The weather has been outstandingly cold as of late, so it was refreshing to have this opportunity today.

As was our custom, we stopped along the way and picked up a whole bunch of tiny rocks to put in the stroller's cup holders. Then, Madison and I went down to the boat dock and sat at the water's edge, tossing the stones out onto the water for a time. It was an overcast day, and boats were moving this way and that across the lake, their fishing rods lined up along the sides. The dreary weather and trolling boats reminded me of some sort of New England port. Everyone should have been wearing yellow slickers, and there should have been an old mariner sitting nearby on a pier, with perhaps a cob pipe his mouth, puffing away.

On our way back home, we ran into Nana walking her three dogs, so we joined her in a walk through the park as well. All in all, we were gone about two hours outside. We may have said this already, but the park is deserted now, overgrown with plants and abandoned like the opening of Prince Caspian, when the four children discover Narnia hundreds of years later and in disrepair. Together, while walking the dogs, we traveled through Narnia again - this time with Madison on foot. She explored and herded the dogs along. It's a pretty little park at the end of a peninsula. Not sure why it is closed off, but you can get to it on foot, and it is typically empty - just because it takes so much to walk there. Madison didn't want to ride on the stroller the whole time while in Narnia. In fact, she walked all the way home too. She's a big girl now!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Loooooooooooong Day

Yes, it was one of those days. Daddy went in early, and we had another fun service in Wonderland, where the Caterpillar was blowing bubbles and teaching Alice how to be a queen. Here he is, pictured to the right. His big question is "Who are You?" Of course, we tried to answer that today for everyone. In the meantime, our little Queen Madison was getting ready for a birthday party at the church for one of her friends, Jordan. He's the son of the guitar player in the band (Chris), and his mother had a nice party all set up for everyone in the recreation room. Madison loved it - she ran around and got herself exhausted playing with all the other children. What fun! While that party was going on, Daddy was in the auditions for the upcoming Easter drama at the church, secretly hoping to not have a big role. Funny going in to an audition, praying for something minor. It's just that the last three dramas (two Christmas, one Easter), Daddy has had a significant role that required practices galore. Lots of time away, and lots of little stresses. Hopefully, that won't be the case this time around and he'll get to spend more time at home. We'll see! I'm hoping to play a Villager #3, who has a big scene walking behind a well and off the stage for about thirty seconds while something else really important is going on up front.

Anyway, when we got home together, we spent some time in bed for movie night. Madison got the popcorn out and we plugged in our latest thing: Disney Treasures DVDs.
These gems are great. Daddy has nearly every one, and many of them have short cartoons that you can watch back to back. What's interesting is that many date back to the 1930s, and it's fun for Mommy and Daddy to watch too. Madison clearly enjoys them - she laughs out loud at some scenes, really getting into the slapstick. She also immediately recognizes the bad guys, and waves her naughty-naughty finger. The last few days we've been watching the Silly Symphonies, which as I said earlier are a lot of fun to watch. We've got plenty of these DVDs, and they're perfect because they aren't an hour and a half long movie. For example, I mentioned Madison got exhausted playing around at the party - tonight she fell asleep watching the third or fourth cartoon. In fact, Mommy fell asleep too. And the cat. Out of the four of us, Daddy was the only one left awake - I guess it was a long day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Year of the Tiger 2010

Today we celebrated the Year of the Tiger at Ye-Ye's house, making up for our snowed-out day last Saturday. Technically, the celebration of the Year of the Tiger goes on for a few weeks, so we ordered plenty of Chinese food, popped in some Chinese music, and wore our best outfits.

Madison wore an outfit that was purchased in China while we were there in Nanning. We bought it at the hotel we were staying at, which is the Mingyuan Xindu.
It's also called "the Majestic." They had a special floor set up for all the new parents that used to come in there monthly. It is far less frequent now, but I know they must have had a nice set-up for a while with so many new parents spending the week on the seventh floor every single month. We bought Madison's outfit in the hotel's store downstairs, along with her rattle that she would never let go of. It was a small store, but I remember purchasing a lot of things down there, from puzzles to the immediate practical things needed for having a baby in the hotel. I completely forgot about the outfit until today, but Mommy remembered and has been saving it for a special occasion. It has never been worn until tonight, and it looked wonderful on Madison. Especially with that cute little hat of hers - take a look!

Ye-Ye and Nana made a special trip to a market down in Gwinnett County that had all kinds of wonderful Asian foods to sample. They really get into making these family occasions something special for everyone. Pictures don't capture all the decorations and effort that go into each holiday at their home. They had brought back all sorts of Chinese food to try, and decorated the house for a very festive occasion. There were delicious fruits, mandarin oranges, fortune cookies, dumplings, and even a small lion puppet - we were going to use that for a mini-lion dance! Everyone had a great time, especially Madison.

Ye-Ye even pulled up a video of a lion dance on the computer, where the dancers did some pretty amazing jumps and acrobatics. Afterwards, "Kung Fu Panda" was plugged in for the kids as the adults sat back and relaxed. They put a lot of work into making this a proper Chinese New Year celebration, and Madison's cousins probably learned a thing or two - certainly about the food.

Madison handed out red envelopes as well as her Chinese New Year cards, and those Chinese rubber ducks too. AND, she got a special gift from Aunt Shain: a neat Kai-Lan house that folds out for the characters to live in. Mommy tucked that one away for when it's playtime. Madison will really enjoy that.

It was a fantastic time, and unfortunately seemed a little short. But it's always like that when you're having a good time. Fortunately, we're entering the busy season again, where birthdays and holidays fill the calendar all the time. We've got St. Patrick's Day coming up soon, several birthdays, and of course Easter. It'll be a lot of family time, and a lot of fun!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where IS Alice anyway?

So the last couple of days we've been secretly looking for Madison's Alice doll. She's slept beside Alice in her crib for several days and has been carrying it around with her - but all of the sudden, it's gone! Where is it?

Not wanting to alarm Madison, we refer to the D-O-L-L and quietly look around the house, not wanting to let her know what we're up to. No luck.

She went to bed, and we looked harder. Where is it? We've lived in this house for years, and we know all the nooks and crannies - say, maybe it is at Ye-Ye's house.

We call Nana, and she looks around at their house. No sign of Alice. Uh-oh. That means Daddy might have to make a trip down to Discover Mills to go find another doll. Perhaps Madison left it at church or something. We just didn't know where the thing was!

Finally, this morning, the topic of Alice came up at breakfast with Madison at the table. Daddy said, "Alice is in Wonderland - she's not here right now."

Madison replied, "Alice!" and pointed down the hall. We thought she was pointing next door to Ye-Ye's house. Ah, so that's where it is. After all, it couldn't possibly be in this house. We've looked everywhere!

That's when the funny thing happened. After breakfast, Madison brought Alice to Mommy proudly. "Alice!" she said as she presented her doll. And soon after, both Mommy and Daddy cracked up. Where on earth did she put that thing? Where's her secret hiding place?

At least Alice was found! We were worried for a while, because Madison really likes that doll. Maybe that's why she hid it in a special spot. Wherever it is, I'm sure we'll find some other items we've been looking for. If we ever find that secret spot!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Madison Scissorhands

Mommy had Madison practicing her scissor skills this morning, something Madison enjoys very much. She has the finger placement down, putting her fingers on the handle properly. As Mommy looked on, Madison snipped away at the edges of a piece of paper, snipping and cutting in small strokes. Also on today's practice list: the straight line routine. Madison drew straight lines with her pencil from a starting point to a finishing point. She did well here, drawing a line from the hockey stick to the goal - and in fact when she was doing this, she pointed down at the paper and said "ice!" Now how did she know it was ice hockey? I didn't tell her that. She must have picked it up from somewhere, but I don't exactly know where. Maybe she'll be a big ice hockey fan or something. Daddy will have to take her to a game someday soon (he's just using all this as an excuse to go!).

Today we got out of the house and went to Targét down in Flowery Branch. Hadn't actually been to that one before - it's nice. There was a bit of regular shopping to do, but we thought we would spoil Madison with something nice.
We got her this neat keyboard that plays meowsic. It's shaped like a cat, you see. Hence the meowsic. And yes, before you ask, there is in fact a feature on it where the keys will actually say "meow" to the different notes hit. Needless to say, this was a very big hit with Madison when we got home. You'll definitely see some pictures of her with it soon, especially a picture of her singing into the microphone that is attached to the thing. So far, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Happy Birthday" have been big hits sung in the playroom. My daughter is a little crooner!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Right to the Moon, Alice

Here's a picture of Madison we took today on the Moon. Madison had a great time hopping around in the low gravity, but Mommy wasn't that crazy about the place. She said it had no atmosphere.

It was a busy day today, but at least it was a bit more fun. Daddy spent quite a bit of time at work, but when he got home, Mommy had prepared a very nice meal with shrimp and pasta. Yummy! Madison wanted to jump around, and read books as well - just not at the same time. Daddy read to her about eleven books (no exaggeration!), and finally was ready to move on.

It was an early night for Madison, as she fell asleep rather quickly in Mommy's lap this evening. In fact, Mommy is already snoozing right now, and in moments, Daddy will join her. It'll be good to get a good night's rest this evening. Tomorrow, the calendar is clear. This makes for some interesting possibilities, but the most important thing for all of us is a little rest.

These trips to the Moon really wear you out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What a Doll

Here Madison is, pretending she's an elephant, raising her trunk and making elephant sounds. She's seen an elephant at the zoo, of course, and seen them on television. But we learn together different animals and their sounds, and an elephant seems to come really easy, especially after you raise your trunk like this. Madison is making the noises herself (as is Daddy), but one reason she's doing it is the doll she's got on the table in front of her. It has different shapes, colors and animals, and lets you know which one you're pressing, and in the case of the animal, it'll make the noise too.

Does the doll look familiar? It should! It's one of Madison's oldest toys, one that we took with us on our adventure to China. Here is a photo of the doll in Nanning, just moments before we left the hotel room to go meet Madison for the first time. It was quite a moment, looking at that empty crib and realizing it wouldn't be empty too much longer. The doll was one of our first gifts for her, one we brought along with us to China. It's a simple toy, a Baby Einstein learning doll. She barely had the strength to press the buttons on it at the time. Daddy and Mommy had to help out. She carried it with her, along with her rattle and a few other precious items. It isn't one of her favorites that she drags around as much (her Alice doll currently holds that title). But from time to time, she'll become fascinated with it again - that's why you see the big smile on the doll's face.

Certain toys will move on to donation centers, but one thing is for sure: we're not ever getting rid of this doll. In fact, tonight in bed, we have two other dolls that sit at the end of the bed: Rowlf the Dog and Rosie the Cat. Both have seen quite a bit of action. Rosie the Cat was won at a Catholic school's fundraising bazaar by Mommy's mother. For just a dime, Mommy got Rosie as a prize when she was six years old, and now has a lifelong friend. Daddy doesn't know where or when Rowlf the Dog came from, but he's had that puppet since he was around six. Rowlf has always been Daddy's favorite muppet, but this Rowlf has a special place in Daddy's heart. The two stuffed animals have stitches galore, and a whole lot of wear and tear - but they sit proudly at the foot of our bed. They're both still smiling too!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Madison's Garage

One of the cars needed a little help, so Daddy did the best thing he could do: the car was taken to Madison's Garage, where all it takes is a little look under the hood and soon your worries are over!

Here you can see Madison checking out the battery. It seems that was the source of the trouble right there. You can see here how she's showing the others who are present what the problem is, and how to fix it as well. She's looking mighty trendy too, in that pink fluffy jacket. Soon all mechanics are going to be wearing those, instead of that ugly greasy stuff!

The battery was indeed the source of the trouble, and in no time the car was starting up again as if nothing was wrong.

Today was an "off" day for everyone. It was dreadfully cold outside, so we tried to spend as little time out there as possible! Instead, we spent the day playing inside - doing a little ancestry homework, reading for future church series, playing with Handy Manny's tools, and eating a Mexican dinner Mommy cooked up for us. Aye carumba! It was delicious!

After dinner, Mommy and Daddy watched a romantic movie together while Madison spent some time with Ye-Ye and Nana next door. She had a great time playing with tinker toys and the My Little Pony dolls they have over there, but soon it was time to come home to bed.

All that's left of our snowman is a snowball in the front yard, but the temperature is cold enough that we might yet still see some of that white stuff return for Snowpocalypse II. It seems as if our groundhog friend missed the call on Groundhog Day. Oh well - everyone makes mistakes!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Preparing for the Big Day

As Daddy worked at the office, Madison worked at home with Mommy, preparing for the big day tomorrow. It isn't just a holiday - it's TWO holidays, and a couple major ones at that. It isn't every year that both Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year fall on the same day, and we're pretty thankful for that. We've been pretty busy!

Example, here Madison is stuffing her red envelopes that she'll give away for Chinese New Year. As is the tradition, each has coins inside for good luck. But they'll have something else as well. In fact, Madison has already been posing this week for a very special Chinese New Year card that we will start giving out tomorrow.

Here she is licking the envelopes. She's a hard worker, and she'll have a good time handing these out to everyone in the coming week. She has such a sweet countenance, and a generous heart, always willing to share with everyone. She shares her favorite foods with Mommy and Daddy all the time, even when she's hungry. Of course, we let her know it's all hers so she can eat to her heart's delight, which she usually does. Lately, she's been on an impressive growth spurt!

The other holiday, of course, is Valentine's Day. Here Madison is, making her own Valentine's Day cards for everyone. One series is a bunch of different cards from Alice in Wonderland. Madison has signed the back of each one. Here, you can see her filling out heart-shaped Mickey and Minnie Mouse cards, which she got just a few days ago at the Disney Store.

After making cards for everyone, Madison also helped make cupcakes for everyone! These are Valentine-themed, with a conversation heart plopped into the middle of each one. Sprinkles line the sides (that's Daddy's job). Mommy set this up for us tonight, and the three of us enjoyed making Valentine's cupcakes - and enjoyed eating them more!

Here she is, our little cupid!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Games

Here is the mascot for Gainesville's Winter Games, built today by Madison, Daddy and Mommy. This was actually the first snowman that Madison helped build, and it was pretty easy to put together because the snow was packing so well.
It finally happened - about three o'clock or so, the snow started sticking really well, and Daddy had to come home. Work offices closed, as did pretty much everything in Gainesville, as is custom whenever it snows! The funny thing about this snow was that weather forecasters sort of missed it as well. Only a dusting or maybe an inch or two was predicted, but as shown in this picture of Madison helping Daddy assemble a snowman, the accumulations were somewhat heavier where we were. This probably means it snowed even more elsewhere north of here, which makes plans for the weekend tricky to say the least. For example, we've made the difficult decision to cancel our trip to the Chinese New Year festival tomorrow because we would have to leave early in the snow and ice. Lots of water on the ground makes for lots of frozen roads earlier, so we'll play it safe and skip it this year.
Fortunately, we've also been invited to a later celebration in March with the FCC (Families with Children from China). Hopefully the weather will be much better for that.
Anyway, back to the snowman. Mommy helped us create this snowman too. She brought out carrots and small stones to use for the eyes and mouth. Daddy held Madison up so she could insert the facial features where they should go, and I'm rather proud to say we didn't wind up with a Picasso Snowman: Madison put everything where it should go. Finally, Mommy put a hat on top of our snowman, and found some arms to place on his sides. Soon, he was standing guard in the front yard, watching over us as we got involved in our winter games. Madison began to instinctively make snowballs, something I imagine is more of a genetic trait than an acquired skill. One wonders when the first snowball was thrown at someone, and what an amazing historical occasion that must have been!
As you probably have suspected, when Ye-Ye and Nana got home, the snowballs started launching! Madison had fun chasing them about and hurling more snowballs as the snow continued to fall. In fact, it still is falling as I type, guaranteeing even more snow games tomorrow. This winter storm system has been called Snowpocalypse, and until now, everyone well north of us has been going through easily the strongest series of winter storms in a long, long time. Finally, it caught up with us down here - the snow you see in these photos is probably the most snow we've ever gotten while living in this house. Quite a bit!

Again, the snow was not predicted to be that much at all initially. But we're happy they were wrong this time, because we've had a lot of fun. Above you can see Madison going for the sled event at the Winter Olympics. Ye-Ye is playing the role of ski-lift, dragging Madison up the hill in a cardboard box that formerly contained a guitar. It's a makeshift sleigh, and a great time for Madison, who just loved sliding around on the snow.

Big smiles as she slid down the driveway and the snow-covered hills. Madison stayed out there in the white stuff a long while and had such good fun. But soon it was time to get inside and warm up in the bathtub. Mommy served up some warm soup and delicious dinner, which Madison gobbled up very quickly.

Tonight, the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver. The last Olympics, of course, were in Beijing. When we were in Beijing, they were busy preparing for the opening ceremonies, and when we came home, we watched much of the games that took place - and the incredible opening and closing ceremonies. We'll be watching many of the events on the internet over the next few weeks with Madison, but today and tomorrow, it was fun to actually be a part of the Winter Games!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

From Wonderland to Neverland

As you can see to the right, we have been enduring some polar bear type of weather as of late. Yesterday was easily the most brutal day thus far of the year, the day where you just want to give up and cry uncle! Today, it warmed up slightly, and we were simply itching to finally go and do something. We chose to head back to Discover Mills and simply walk about, as it was still too cold to do anything outside. The polar bear is actually a large figure that stands guard inside the mall. Any shoplifters seen by this bear best start running for their lives, because it's difficult to outrun a twenty-five foot tall polar bear on mall security. By the way, you should see the ginormous segway that bear rides around on.

Anyway, our primary objective in going to Discover Mills was to see if there was something for Madison to wear for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration. But ultimately we decided that last year's outfit still fits somewhat - and furthermore Mommy remembered that there was an outfit we purchased for Madison in China which she's actually never worn before. We'll try that one on tomorrow - it'll be a nice surprise!

Of course, there were other stops along the way - most notably the Disney Store. At the moment, Madison is sleeping in her crib with an Alice doll, a direct result of our stop. Daddy pre-bought "The Princess and the Frog," because he collects the Disney lithographs you get with a pre-purchase. Yes! They've brought back the lithographs!

Mommy got a Cheshire Cat, which was free with the purchase of the Alice - and we also got Madison a little something special for later on, a small Cinderella toy. The manager of the store was charmed by Madison. He found some special pixie dust that he sprinkled on her - she giggled as it fell. And then she floated away.

Just kidding. He also gave her some Valentine's Day cards with Mickey Mouse on them, and some Alice in Wonderland cards as well. We put them all in Mommy's new "Wonderland" tote bag, and escaped the Disney Store before purchasing anything else.

While there at the mall, we stopped and got some more bamboo shoots for our fountain (another reason for our trip down to Discover Mills). There's a Japanese store there that we like to scour, and it was a rather productive trip after all. We found a replacement Yoshi for a coworker, who had his stolen. If you don't know what a Yoshi is, don't worry about it. This one is about a foot tall and will be a great surprise! It's such a rare find, and we were thrilled to spot it there. Can't wait to see his reaction.

When finished at the mall, we traveled up the road a bit to once again return to the Cracker Barrel. Where else? Madison ate and ate and ate while there. She's having a growth spurt - Mommy and Daddy watched her eat all her chicken strips, fries and then some! What an appetite!

Afterwards, we headed home. It was late, but Mommy started up the bath again for Madison, and after the bath it was movie night again. Of course, we popped in a Disney movie. We made the popcorn, snuggled in bed and watched "Return to Neverland." Pretty decent flick, actually. Madison enjoyed watching it, occasionally laughing out loud. There were a few moments of peril that had her concerned, but overall it was a great experience for her. The other night, we watched "Peter Pan," so this concluded our trip to Neverland for now. It's wild - we've gone from Wonderland to Neverland. But soon we'll be back in Wonderland again, as this Sunday Madison will get to meet Alice in person.

Curiouser and curiouser!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tinkle Dots

Madison has a new inspiration for using the potty. This morning, we decided to reward her using the potty at the right time with some tasty Tinkle Dots®.
Of course, it's just candy dots on a piece of paper, but Madison is crazy about these sweets. So why not reinforce her good behavior with a tasty reward?
Madison was seen running to the bathroom frequently today, even when she didn't really have to go - just so she can try. Just so she can get some candy.

It's been a challenging day for Mommy, who was trying to train Madison as much as she could - with mixed results. There were, however, a few victories, after which there was much rejoicing!

Today was one of those bitter cold days, where an unpleasant wind assaulted you relentlessly until you ran for cover in the safety of the nearest building.

Coming home for a dinner break, Mommy made Daddy some tasty chi tea and we settled down together with Madison at the table and had some quiet time as a family. It wasn't much - today is a big work day for Daddy.

Down in Florida, Zena's aunt and uncle arrived from Wales - Uncle Ken and Aunt Wendy. I'm not sure if we'll make it down this time. Wish we could - it's so cold up here! But from what I hear, it's cold down there as well. This whole

The cat we've been nursing back to health is pretty close to 100%. I can say it now because all appears to be well - but it didn't look so good a few weeks ago. If we hadn't taken care of it, there's no question it wouldn't have made it. But now he's eating a lot and looking much better. And healing up where his wounds were. We've seemed to adopt him, whether I wanted to or not!

So if he's in the house this much, the question remains: what to name him? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Cold and windy day today. Does this sound repetitive? Fortunately, Mommy cooked us up a delicious spaghetti dinner that warmed our tummies. Madison was so anxious for the cheese, but today held her breath a moment as we reminded her it was time to say the blessing. She bowed her head, and patiently waited as Daddy said a quick prayer. Then she blurted out, "Amen!" and grabbed for the cheese!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back to Back

Madison joined us for a trip to Forsyth County again, and met Doc Williams and the staff of Valley Chiropractic Wellness Center once more - to her great delight. I can't say enough how much she loves jumping into that room and lying face down on the table. She pretends she's an assistant and helps cover Mommy or Daddy with the blankets, gives us tissues and helps to make sure our feet are aligned. When it is her turn, she giggles and laughs all the way through!

"Love it!" Dr. Williams says afterwards.

Madison usually gets a sticker or two, and today was no different. We stayed in Cumming a little while longer and looked for some new books for her at Goodwill - and today Daddy did pretty good. He got a huge Thomas the Train book, with just about all the stories in it. Also: three books by William Joyce, and a neat Bug's Life book that helps to teach numbers. Madison enjoyed the Bug's Life book tonight as we read it to her in the reading chair. For good measure, we read the Chinese New Year book again too. That's coming up pretty soon. In fact, today we spent quite a bit of time making a Chinese New Year card to send out to everyone. Some will get it in an e-mail (that's cheaper!), and some will get it on Saturday or Sunday, along with their special red envelope that Madison will fill later this week.

Another holiday coming up soon is Valentine's Day, of course. It seems unusual, but both Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fall on the same day this year. You'd think the Chinese would have planned that out better!

Anyway, Mommy will make some crafts with Madison this week, and it should be a fun week. Last week, there was just so much to do!

Tonight, Mommy made us Chicken Pot Pie, and dinner was gobbled up very quickly! "Chew, chew, chew," we have to tell Madison sometimes. She enjoys dinner time. "Thank you," she tells Mommy, as her food is put down in front of her. Such good manners. Such good food!





We were all pretty exhausted still from this weekend, so it was somewhat of a restful day. No doubt, things will pick up some tomorrow. Still, we managed to squeeze in some lessons with letters using the refrigerator magnets. Madison has all the letters arranged on the refrigerator, and when we call them out, she can point out most of the ones we say. Again, I'm astonished she knows Q so well, and seems to struggle with P or even S from time to time!

In any event, it was not a huge eventful day, but we did manage to pack in a few memories. It appears we have a busy weekend coming up, so there'll certainly be plenty of opportunities for photos and fun then. Actually, the fun never stops around here - Madison makes sure of that!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


We all fell into Wonderland today, and it makes a whole lot of sense because we were all pretty sleepy. A late night of setting things up made it quite a drowsy day - so perhaps it all was a dream? But it all seemed so real! This morning, we met Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, the Cheshire Cat, the Pepper Cook, the Queen of Hearts and her three cards: Two, Five and Seven. Mommy had a very heavy hand in making sure everyone had a costume. A few were ordered, but many were put together over a long period of time, with trips to fabric stores and time spent in Goodwill.

It was an all-star cast, performing all over the place: for the hundreds of kids between first and sixth grade, it was an introduction to Wonderland. Alice followed the White Rabbit into a place like no place on earth, and doing things slightly out of order she met up with the Tweedles. Everyone really enjoyed it in the audience, laughing at the slapstick of the Tweedles and getting caught up in the fantasy of it all. In case you're wondering where the Bible is in all that, we talked about the Beatitudes, as Alice tried to straighten out the Tweedles' goofy behavior!

Down the hall with the younger kids, the Queen of Hearts ruled, ordering her cards around: Two, Five and Seven. You could hear her cries from their auditorium: "Off with their heads!" Of course, the Queen and her subjects all had to learn a thing or two about the Beatitudes themselves. But something tells me those goofy cards have got a whole lot more learning to do before this series is over. It may be just me, but I don't think some of these guys are playing with a full deck!

After and between the services, all the characters spent time with the kids - including Madison. Here to the left you can see Alice at the tea table, getting served by the Duchess' very own cook. Unfortunately, he's got a thing for pepper: he puts too much of it in everything, including apparently her tea! Madison got to meet most of the characters today, but will certainly meet the rest in the coming weeks. She had fun dancing with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and looking up at the bumbling playing cards. If you're wondering what role Daddy played in all of this - of course he was the writer. But you'll see him in a moment, all dressed up as the March Hare. At one point while the message was being delivered to the kids about the Beatitudes, the March Hare snuck off to the nursery area to peek in the window on some of the kids there, looking for Madison. He didn't want to be seen, but that plan didn't work out: a train line of kids were marching down the hall to go to a playroom and caught the March Hare! In the middle of that train was Madison, who beamed with joy when she saw a giant rabbit coming towards her. That's my girl: Giant rabbit marching down the hall towards me? Everything's normal!

You can see Daddy in the middle here (he's the one with the really long ears). We were posing with some children after the service, and as you can see it was a lot of fun for everyone. Parents were thrilled to see all these characters walking around - trying to name each one. It was like Disney World or something. This was a WHOLE lot of work, but everyone stepped up and worked together as an amazing team to make it happen, from videos to costumes to acting to volunteering with the kids. Actually, this sort of thing goes on all the time week after week with all our different series. It is a lot of fun to see the finished product, and I think everyone involved enjoyed it too. We'll be taking all sorts of photos of Madison with the characters, and maybe she herself at the Mad Tea Party. And oh yes, our family is a proud part of the Tea Party movement. We're all a bit mad, you see.

Madison had a wonderful time today, and that's why we do what we do. We try to make lasting impressions and make church the most exciting experience we can so that the kids will want to come back, even if they have to drag their parents in with them. In that regard, I think we accomplished our goal, and made this place a wonderland for Madison and all the other children to come to... all on a golden afternoon!