Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marching On

Today is the last day of March, which has been a pretty long month in retrospect. Of course, like seven other months, it has thirty-one days. But these were longer days because of all the work we crammed into them. We're about ready for a vacation!

Of course, Florida is just a hop, skip and jump away - so maybe we'll see a few entries from there in April. We'll see - it just depends on how certain events time out, as usual.

Madison is going to bed at a reasonable hour this evening, as the last few evenings have been much later than necessary for her. Poor thing slept in quite a bit this morning, to about 9:30 - 10:00 am. For her, that's late. She usually rises around 8:30 or so, and calls out from her crib: "Mama! Dada! Up!"

She was helping Mommy again today with her sewing, and trying on a few costumes as well. She'll wear just about anything, but is pretty particular about what she wants to put on. She'll have the funniest combinations of outfits, and be completely comfortable for an entire day wearing them. Occasionally we let her dress herself, but sometimes the choice can make mere mortals wince. Fortunately, her overwhelming cuteness overpowers any fashion choice.

Tonight was our last service of Xtreme, which was so much better than the last time. Madison got to meet all the characters again, but this time there was no White Rabbit. In fact, most of the characters were a little more extreme, including these two here, Bowser Thughammer and Thwimp. They were our resident bad boys, the larger guy basing his character on Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future series. We gave him so many Bowser lines, it was funny. He is such a Back to the Future fan that it was easy for him to fall into character. His character was a naughty one, but the actor is actually a great guy, and Madison loves to jump on top of him - and the other guy too. Note how the set looks like a skate park - we had ramps all over this time around. Mommy did a great job coming up with these costumes, and the outfits for everyone else too. I think my favorite thing is the duct tape holding Bowser's shin guards in place.

As far as Xtreme activities, Madison tried roller skating this month for the first time - which she'll keep doing too. She really likes roller skating, especially the dressing up part. She's tried skating a few times this month, and she's also been enjoying climbing up rock walls - with a little help from Daddy. I'll have to try and get a picture of that: she climbs up the rock wall and slides down the slide on the other side. She loves the playground outside. I think that's about as far as we'll go this month for Xtreme though! In other words, no skysurfing or BASE jumping.

"Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?"
-Biff Tannen

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mummy Dearest

The hieroglyphics above are supposed to spell out Madison's name, though I'm not entirely sure if they are accurate based on my past studies of Egyptology. Actually, I've only been studying it recently, as we're going full force into our new series Exodus on Sunday. It's usually a lot of work that goes into a new series, from costumes to set design to video work to the booklets that are written. This one I can say was birthed at our visit to see King Tut last year - I just thought the whole Egyptian look would be neat for a month. Additionally, the story of Exodus was very strong and easy to tell, so I think it'll be a fun month in April.

Q: Where do Pharaohs like to go out to eat?
A: At Pizza Tut.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we labor into the wee hours on costumes and practice for the upcoming Easter production called "AD33," which will be presented in our main sanctuary on Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

Mommy is worn out already. "No wire hangers!" It's quite a stressful task, and everyone is working into the late hours to put all the pieces of this together. We know it will be good, but it's been a very heavy workload this time around. In fact, we've had very little time to put anything together for an Easter basket, though Daddy has a few ideas. I think that will come later on this week.

Speaking of Easter, we plan to spend a little time Thursday coloring some Easter eggs with Madison - that should be fun. I remember coloring Easter eggs when I was very young, dipping the eggs into different color bowls, and mixing the colors around as well. Our eggs have gotten creative through the years, though I don't know eggs-actly what we'll be doing this year yet. Thursday is just a couple days away!

Madison is well-loved by all at the church. She runs around the sanctuary at play practice, and hugs everyone she sees. She gives high fives and is such a social butterfly! We feel bad this week, because she's been putting in some long hours. Maybe next week we can get back to normal a bit...I hope!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week, Batman!

This week will be a blur for us, as Easter play practice dominates the schedule, and a new series for the children's service looms for Sunday. We're getting to bed late again - all of us. It was a big day, filled with appointments and work:

1. Daddy finished his devotional, which was good. The printers are very kind, because they'll be turning this around in less than a week. Seriously, they've got to print 1,100 of these by Friday afternoon!

2. Mommy visited the oncologist again, which is always good. We'll see some good results later on in the week. We were sorry we couldn't bring Madison to see Dr. Locicero this time, though they've met before. Dr. Locicero was a big part of our lives for a time, helping Mommy through a really tough time in her life. Always upbeat, he kept the atmosphere positive.

3. Play practice. Madison has been at the church, and even working harder than some of the employees there! Here she is trying on a beard and a hairnet, which of course go quite lovely together. You can't see it in this photo, but she's cracking up under that beard. She had the whole "Moses" thing going on, wandering up and down the hall with her beard, hairnet, and a staff. Quite naturally, she'd find herself hugging all the people coming to Bible College this evening. It was a late night, but Mommy got a lot done today towards the performance, which is now only a few days away. Friday, the performance starts, and Easter Sunday is the first day of our new children's series "Exodus." Lots of work to do until then, and you can imagine that we'll both be ready for a good, long nap a week from today when it is all over with. Daddy is playing a Pharisee again, which means he gets to act cranky, which is essentially how he feels at the moment. I think after we all get a good night's rest, we'll be feeling a little more upbeat. Fortunately, tomorrow we get to sleep in a bit. I know Madison will be sleeping in - she was up really, really late tonight. It'll be good to get back to normal next week too.

4. The search continues: we've found another interesting house. Madison loves exploring a new house, and running around the large empty rooms. She loves looking out the windows, and this house seemed to have plenty of them. It also had some character: a bridge that led to an additional room. There was a lot of space in the kitchen, and a nice big living room as well. You can see from this picture that Daddy is taking a picture from upstairs, and there's Madison checking out the cabinets. It was a nice house, with a nice little creek in the back, and a nice sized deck, and of course the clincher: a front porch to put rocking chairs that you get from the Cracker Barrel. Naturally, if you get a rocking chair from anywhere else, it won't be as good! Anyway, Madison loved exploring the house, upstairs and downstairs. We took lots of pictures, and will be thinking about this one this week. Like I said earlier, there's a lot going on this week!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Mommy and Daddy were raised in a Catholic church, where on each Palm Sunday, small palms were handed out to all the churchgoers. Daddy has been able to keep this tradition alive on Palm Sunday each year by ordering for all the children at the church a small palm to remind them of what the day is all about.

Madison is still too young to fully understand, but that didn't stop us from giving her a palm leaf. Daddy fashioned it into the shape of a cross, and gave it to her this afternoon. Here she is in the parking lot of the church, showing it off.

Isn't that rain jacket cute? It's been raining on and off today - in fact, we are currently under a Tornado watch until 11:00 tonight. Last year's storms were more frequent and violent - I remember doing Easter play practice in the choir room, the safest room in the church. All of the people involved were huddled together in that room, riding the storm out.

It's not that bad outside right now. Just wet. But we'll be carefully keeping an eye on the weather. It's just one of those things we have to look out for each spring in Georgia.

Anyway, we're still here at the church for costuming and practice - and writing the Exodus devotional.

It was a big day this morning, as we had at our church a special guest, Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in the movie "The Passion." Daddy got to see him briefly, which was a bit of a thrill, as this man is the face of Jesus for our generation. He was a nice guy too, a very tranquil spirit. Laid back, and yet there was a certain intensity behind the eyes that showed a passion for what he believed. Lots of people came from all over to hear him speak - again, to many people this was the face of Jesus!

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
Luke 19:41 NIrV

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies

Let the joyous news be spread! Our girl scout cookie order has arrived. Daddy is a HUGE thin mint fan - he can basically eat an entire box before he realized what happened. Warning: do not go near Daddy with your thin mints, unless you plan on never seeing them again.

Mommy is a fan of a different cookie, the Samoa. Our two favorite cookies are on the bottom row, to the left. Do you have a craving for cookies now?

I'd like to see Madison as a girl scout someday, getting all kinds of merit badges for things like first aid, science discovery, let's get cooking, or dismantling land mines. Daddy would probably be highly involved in getting badges - he's got this "collect them all" sort of mentality. Plus, Madison would look cute in a girl scout uniform. And the trips with Mommy and Madison I'm sure would be nice as well, although Mommy isn't much of a camper!

But even before considering the camping, uniform, or badges, you have to consider the cookies. That's right! Where else can you get such tasty cookies? Answer: nowhere. Therefore, if you're the proud parent of a girl scout, it stands to reason that you'll have first-come, first-serve access to all the thin mints you can handle. Which, in my case, is quite a lot!

"Put that cookie down. NOW!"
-Howard Langston

Friday, March 26, 2010


Tonight, Daddy was peeking at a scene from "Bolt" online, and Madison was absolutely wanting to see more. It was so fascinating to her that Daddy set it up on the little DVD player and we watched it while in bed. She was really focused, making lots of noise all the way through. It was funny to hear her laugh and squeal.

We wound up watching a large part of the movie, and Daddy's sitting here wondering what happened to Winnie the Pooh and Handy Manny! She kept saying "Bolt!"

We'll revert back to the preschool stuff, but for a night it was funny how much she was into this movie. And don't get me started about Rhino, that little hamster. Mommy and Daddy like this movie - it came out a few months after Madison came home with us for the first time. We didn't get to see in the theater for just that reason, but we snatched it up when it came out on DVD. Anyway, Madison loves it now.

Her schedule is so weird right now - she's been sleeping a bit later, and trying to stay up later too. Last night in her crib, we heard her awake close to midnight. It's probably Mommy and Daddy's schedule creeping in on her: we're up at all hours working towards April and Easter. Once next weekend is out of the way, it just might be time for a little break. Maybe a vacation somewhere, I don't know. One thing's for sure: when April is here, it'll be time for us to ...bolt!

"Are you mad? You don't know the power of Styrofoam!" - Bolt

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Take me to the Pilate

Here is just one of the costumes Mommy has been working on - Madison seems to approve. She's meeting Claudia, Pilate's wife, played by Mary Jo Castro, who has been a HUGE part of our children's ministry for quite some time. Madison likes her a lot - and pretty much all the characters.

Actually, she likes everyone at the church: choir practice was ending today, and all of the choir members had to come up and down this hallway. Madison made a point of hugging each one! One at a time you could hear the choir members: "Awwww!" It was fun.

We did some shopping for fabric today, but while down in Alpharetta, Daddy took Madison to the Disney Store. Madison loves running around free in the mall. We were at Northpoint, and she was pretty happy when she saw all the stuff there. The escalator is always an adventure, but so were the mannequins and the seats that were all over the mall. She's just got to sit in every one!

She's loves shopping. I think we're in trouble in that department!

While at the Disney Store, we picked up a stuffed animal of Stitch's counterpart "Angel," who is basically a pink version of Stitch. Zena and I first saw Angel at Hong Kong Disney - we've got a pin of her. Actually, we have pins of a lot of things. Pins are something you can get too much of at Disney. But the Hong Kong ones were unique, so we grabbed ourselves several souvenirs. They're great because they're cheaper than other souvenirs, and don't take up as much space. Along those lines, the pressed pennies are good too. Madison gets excited about using a pressed penny machine. It's gotten to the point where I have to bring enough coins to make two pressed pennies for every machine, that way Madison can get her own pennies as well. Let's see...the last one she got was at the Atlanta Zoo, I think. There might have been one at that Miniature Train place up in Helen too. We put them all in specialized booklets, where they're all lined up to show off. We have about four of these booklets so far. Pressed pennies are really cheap souvenirs!

ANYWAY, we were there at the Disney Store to pick up our copy of "The Princess and the Frog," but I'm not sure when we'll have time to actually watch it. This week is really busy - in fact, I have to get back to work now on a devotional for EXODUS.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Madison's First Photos

Madison's Photography Studio
Shooting for Excellence

Madison's Photography Studio has a simple mission: create dynamic, stimulating, creative and results-oriented photographic images for galleries all over the North Georgia area. She's earned the respect of clients nationwide for her refreshing and quite honestly thrilling style of photography, and amazed her piers with her passion for the artwork she creates on the canvas of her camera. Whether small or a large project, in-studio or on-location, she'll create images that communicate memorable messages for any cliental.

She shoots using a digital camera equipment, using state-of-the-art techniques and a revolutionary style. Take a look at a few of her photograph samples below, taken just today. These are Madison's first ever pictures: she looks through the lens, aims the camera, and snaps away, creating instant masterpieces, even inside the car. Feel free to browse in awe:

Study of Windshield

Study of Daddy

Study of Tinkerbell Backpack Thingy

While waiting inside the car for Mommy to return, Daddy let Madison aim the camera and showed her how to snap a few photographs: the birth of a photojournalist! She giggled and snapped away, taking over a dozen random shots. Someday, these will be worth millions!

Not just portraits... lasting memories.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Old Church

Here Madison is sitting in Pastor Franklin's spot - at our old church. It is still the same church we go to today, of course, but now we're in a different location. Officially this "old church" is called the North Campus, but it's really the "old church" to us. It's where everything happened!

Madison got to run around and explore it for a bit today (as Mommy visited the old prop room for some Bible costumes). Daddy snapped a few shots of her at the altar where Mommy and Daddy got married, and of course this shot of Madison seated in the dimly lit sanctuary, where Madison turned the pages of an old Bible we found there.

The sanctuary is still used for other purposes today, but we haven't been here in quite some time until today. We thought about all the memories that were made in this old building: about the friends we made and the good times we had. Mommy and Daddy first met here, going to Spirit Vision Bible College courses together. Daddy first started his church job here as well.

Things have moved on and gotten much better at our new location, but today it was neat to stop and share with Madison a glimpse of where things used to happen. Of course, we'll take her back there in time. But for this afternoon, it was a sweet trip down memory lane.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Queen of the Wild Frontier

Out from the mountaintops in Tennessee
there was a girl just as sweet as can be
Raised in the woods so she knew every tree.
Got her a bear, when she was only three!

Maddy, Maddy Crockett! Queen of the Wild Frontier!

The bear is still in her hands, a small beanie baby she picked up from Aunt Shain. Take a look at that amazing hat: In the 1950's, nearly every child had to have a coonskin cap. Daddy wasn't around back then, but that doesn't mean he didn't want one either - especially after watching Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. That was great television, still enjoyable today!

In honor of Fess, Madison put on her coonskin cap again this week. She likes putting that one on because of the tail hanging off the back! Of course, we got it in Disney World in Frontierland. Madison enjoyed wearing that just as much as a tiara - which just goes to show you how tough this little one can be!

Can you believe it snowed today? We played it safe and spent much of the day indoors. But you'd better believe Madison is rip-roarin' and ready for Spring to start. She's ready to go exploring outdoors, heading to the woods to find her a bear or something!

"Be always sure you are right - then go ahead."
-Davy Crockett

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?

Well, we're always thinking ahead to the next month when it comes to children's church, and to the left you're looking at our new mascot for April. He's a pharaoh, and he'll be watching everyone very carefully as they try to make it through our next series: Exodus. It's been easy to plan for, because the series is 100% Bible, starting off with the story of Joseph and moving through the book of Exodus and even Numbers. For preparation, we've got the "Ten Commandments" to watch and even "The Prince of Egypt." Tonight though, we watched "Stargate" after Madison went to bed. Yes, I know - it has nothing to do with the story of Exodus. But at least there are pyramids in it! Hey, speaking of bondage, slave drivers, and storehouses for collecting the people's money, I hear another big bill was passed today in Congress. Da-dum-dum!

Anyway, we've been enjoying the current children's series alot, and Madison has been trying out skates and skateboards (sorry, no street-luge yet). We haven't taken her photo on the new set yet, but will probably get to that during the last week of the month as usual. Xtreme has been a fun series, more exciting than I thought it'd be.

Madison has been watching "An Extremely Goofy Movie" and saying the word "skateboard" from time to time. She's picked that movie a few times this month, and I've got to admit that I like it alot too.

It has Goofy in it, which makes it instantly watchable. Also: the movie features a street-luge scene. Another plus. Finally, it has Pauly Shore in it, which usually leaves Daddy doing a Pauly Shore imitation for days. This may or may not be a good side effect.

MOMMY: "Dinner time, everyone!"

DADDY: "Let's go munch on some grindage! Hope there's a slur-pee, then we can go wheezin' on the ju-uice!"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

One of Madison's great grandmothers was a McCann, which makes her a little Irish. Of course, by that reasoning she also is a little Cherokee, Welsh, Dutch, German, English, and oh yeah: Chinese. But St. Patrick's Day is one of those days that you celebrate even if you aren't the slightest bit Irish, and once a year we do that at Ye-Ye's house. Mommy put this beautiful wreath on the door to celebrate the occasion, and she also put out the garden flag. March is the season of green, of clovers and leprechauns.

And of cake and of cookies! Late last night, Mommy made shamrock cookies. Meanwhile, Aunt Shain was working on a cake of her own - the interior is actually rainbow-colored! Ye-Ye and Nana worked on decorating the house and plugging in the Irish music, and everyone was ready for some fun.

What do you do for a St. Patrick's Day celebration with our family? There's lots to do, actually. Each year we invent new things to go with the theme, but one thing remains constant: the meal. You've simply got to have corned beef and cabbage. And you must have Irish soda bread too. Oh, and we even have green tea! Nana takes the tea and adds a bit of green food coloring for a bit of fun. This year, we had lots to eat - in fact, I'll be having a little of that tomorrow for lunch, as there was plenty leftover. There were plenty of cookies too! Madison enjoyed munching on her shamrock cookie here so much that her upper lip started to turn a bit green. Was she turning into a leprechaun? Not hardly, but there was quite a bit of mischief in her today! She spent quite a bit of time running around the house with her cousins, and of course playing with Asaph. Everyone wore green today, even Asaph. Notice the shorts Madison is wearing? One year ago, she wore those same pants and they went down to her ankles! You can see that for yourself when you look at the picture on the bottom of the entry right here.

After our hearty meal, we went outside to play some games. Above is a photo of Madison in the spectator section for our big first event for St. Patrick's Day 2010:
It was the potato toss! This event could be the next "curling." We could start a movement for this to become an official Olympic sport by 2016, and say it all started here in Ye-Ye's front yard. The rules of this game are simple: We toss a potato into a cauldron that is a considerable distance away. Here's a photo of Madison moving the cauldron even further away. She's thinking there's no way we can hit the target, but with March Madness going on, several of us had some big scores. Daddy won round one with two swishes, but the contest was just getting started - everyone was just warming up!

In fact, Madison and Ye-Ye decided to move the pot-o-gold even further away, into three point range so that nobody would ever possibly get it in! And nobody did, until Aunt Shain scored the shot of the day, bouncing her potato off the ground and into the pot! Score!

The boys tried their luck from a shorter distance, and had mixed results. Look how green everyone looks. David Austen back there is playing the part of catcher, for those shots that go way astray. With the potatoes flying, I guess you could call him the "catcher and the fry." Yes, I know: that was terrible.

Madison got into the act as well! Just like last year, she tried her hand at hurling potatoes, and did much better this year. I should have brought out my radar to clock her speed, but let's just say some pitching scouts better start paying attention: she knows how to bring the heat!

After our potato contest, it was time to play "Pin the Coin on the Pot of Gold." Rather than use a blindfold, we opted for the classic "pull the giant green hat over your entire face" option. This seemed to have worked, as everyone was completely clueless where they were walking, especially having been spun around three times. Madison gave it a try after watching Hannah score a direct hit. She giggled as we brought the hat down over her head - but we didn't spin her around. The spinning part is only for professionals. Anyway, guiding her carefully to the picture hanging up, Madison pinned her gold coin on the rainbow!

Hooray! Soon after, the rest of the family attempted the same feat. Poor Jonathan was way off, nailing his coin to a board below the picture. It's all right, Jonathan - you can't win 'em all. In fact, this is the sort of competition where you can't really expect to do all that well, what with a hat over your head and being spun around in circles. It was fun watching everyone try to get it right - we do this every year, and seem to laugh a lot. This year, David Austen won again - is he peeking? Just in case you want to see the official results for this year's thrilling competition, we've got them posted below. Madison's gold coin is somewhere over the rainbow, way up high.

To make sure everyone was happy though, prizes are given out to the whole horde. This year, we contributed some Lucky Charms chap stick (you read that right), and some clovers that you can grow in a small pot. Ye-Ye and Nana got chocolate coins for everyone: the "gold you find at the end of the rainbow!" But now wasn't the time for eating that: now was the time for eating Aunt Shain's delicious cake. Daddy didn't realize it was a rainbow inside until we started cutting into it - what a surprise! Aunt Shain worked hard on that cake, and as long as it took to create... it was gobbled down in seconds!

Anyway, it was a fun day today. Lots of hard work go into it, but it's always fun to hang out, listen to Irish music, eat some Irish food and have some Irish fun. I'm sure people in Ireland do it way differently from us, but who cares? We had fun. If you don't believe me, check out this picture of Madison below:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Team Count von Count

Okay, so the number of costumes has gone up significantly - and now you get a picture of what Mommy has been doing day and night. I think we're up to a little over one hundred and fifty cast members for the Easter performance in two weeks - yikes!

Madison hung around Mommy today as she washed and ironed countless Bible robes. We're at "countless" now basically because Mommy has lost count. This would be a good time to meet the Count!

I can safely say that I am not a part of "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob." Nope, my favorite vampire would have to be Count von Count. After that, you just have to go with "Team Bela" and then "Team Boris." They don't call them classics for nothing, folks.

Yes, further down the list is "Team Lon," but right there at the top is the one and only "Team Count von Count," the team in favor of the ultimate vampire. That's right, I'm talking to you, Team Edward people.

Seriously, this guy is way cooler than anyone named Edward, Lestat, Vladamir or Demitri. We have a VHS of the Count's that Madison is really into. On the tape, he spends the whole time counting, of course. It's repetitious, but I think it is effective. There's just something about muppets that makes you not want to look away. It's either that, or he's using his vampire powers on us.

I just can't wait for Madison to start doing her vampire laugh as she counts the pieces of chicken tenders on her plate:

"One! One piece of chicken! Two. Two pieces of chicken! Ah, ah, ah!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walking the Dogs

Today was a pretty day for Mommy and Daddy, but we still found a bit of time to take a walk down to the lake with Nana and her three dogs. Madison likes to walk Asaph, but he still pulls a little hard - that's why Nana had a great idea of putting two leashes on the dog so that both Madison and Daddy can walk the dog together!

Today Madison walked most of the way down to the lake - at times either Nana or Daddy carried her part of the way. She never let go of that leash though! Only when she went down to the dock did she forget about walking the dog. Then she was too busy having fun trying to throw something into the water!

When we returned, Madison wanted to strap on her rollerskates again, so we did a bit of skating for a short amount of time. But then it was time to head back inside once more, where we ate popcorn and watched the Little Einsteins some more. She's still into June, Quincy, Leo and Annie - and of course Rocket.

Anyway, it was a rather uneventful day for Madison today, though we had a bit of fun down at the lake. She is feeling better, so that's good. I think we're down to just a runny nose and some occasional coughing.

Uneventful days are restful days - and that's good. We'll all hit the sack a little early tonight and catch up on some sleep!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Of course, they don't get much more Irish than Madison. Who would have thought just a few years ago that this little Asian girl would soon have so many Irish ancestors? Daddy has Irish blood in him somewhere - you can tell because he bleeds green. Sort of like a Vulcan.*

But I digress: today is that sacred holiday, one of the big ones with kids' imaginations: Leprechauns dance, rainbows and pots of gold abound, and everyone wears green - even if you're not the slightest bit Irish. After all, no one wants to get pinched because of being found not wearing green.

Madison didn't have that problem today. Mommy found a nice outfit for her, and there was plenty of green to spare.

We started the day out the way you're supposed to start St. Patrick's Day: with Lucky Charms. Madison has a
tendency to eat only the marshmallows, but today was a special occasion. Have you seen a box of Lucky Charms lately? It is such a retro look they're using at certain grocery stores, which is pretty cool. They've got this really old box cover artwork, which show you what Lucky Charms used to look like when they were first sold in boxes somewhere in Ireland in the year 493 AD.

For lunch, we went with some co-workers to O'Charley's, of course. It was delicious, as usual. Daddy wore his shamrock tie, and Mommy wore her green as well. On the way there, we listened to Riverdance, and of course have been listening to all sorts of Irish music this week, from the Chieftains to plenty of other CDs we've collected over time, such as a group called "Nightnoise."
We like them a lot - it's relaxing background music for any occasion, actually. "Riverdance" is one of our favorites, but you can't go wrong for St. Patrick's Day if you pick up a copy of the Chieftains' classic concert CD called "An Irish Evening."

This is good stuff! There's a lot of fiddle, and you can't help but tap your feet all the way through. Madison doesn't quite tap her feet yet, but she does sway and swing her arms about. Maybe by next year, we will have shown her how to do a proper "jig." Although I'm not entirely sure how to do a jig myself. I'll have to put that down on my list for New Year's Resolutions next year: learn to do a proper jig.

Anyway, last night (St. Patrick's Eve) we watched "The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold" again with Madison. It's short, but fun. Madison was saying "naughty, naughty" to the Banshee each time she showed up. That movie is a Rankin and Bass animation, just like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It was fun watching this one - I don't remember seeing it when I was younger. I was so abused!

We're actually saving "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" for Saturday when we have our family party at Ye-Ye's house. That's the classic. If you haven't seen that one yet, you simply must. It is required viewing for St. Patrick's Day! It has Sean Connery and Janet Munro in it, and a whole lot of leprechauns. After all these years, the special effects, music and story still hold up well, making it the best movie to go see when you want to feel a little Irish.

Daddy has also gotten a few other themed movies we'll be checking out this week: "The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns" and "The Secret of Roan Inish." We'll let you know how those are - St. Patrick's Day this year is apparently a four-day celebration now!

This Saturday at Ye-Ye's house, we'll be having corned beef and cabbage, and potatoes of course. The cousins are coming, and we'll all put on our green shirts again. I think the annual potato toss is scheduled, where each contestant tries to launch a potato across the yard into a black cauldron. Not since curling has there been this much excitement about an organized sport. The cousins will be tested for steroids this year though, as there is much speculation about them cheating. Last year's competition was a blow-out: Madison won. Rather than use the traditional toss method, she chose to simply walk up to the cauldron and throw her potato in at close range. Then she'd run off giggling. This technique was very effective, and she wound up winning hands down.

Here's a photo of Madison from St. Patrick's Day in 2009. She had a great time hanging out with family - we all did. Ye-Ye and Nana always make the holidays so much fun - they decorate,come up with themed games, and there's always the great food. We're looking forward to a fun day this coming Saturday, when we do it all over again. Look at Madison in this photo. She's so small here, but she was still so into everything as well. Madison is definitely not shy about things. She's very hands-on!

Anyway, as much as we're looking forward to Saturday, today was also a good day. Later on in the afternoon, Madison felt a little sick to her stomach and actually went to get the hot water bottle herself. Mommy is taking good care of her now, and keeping an eye on her temperature. Hopefully, she'll rest peacefully tonight and this will pass.

Despite how she felt later, it was a good day for Madison. Actually, it was a good day for all of us. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

*Speaking of which, I wonder if Spock was Irish? That would explain the green blood. Nobody ever said his last name. It was probably something really Irish, like O'Malley. That's it: his real name was Spock O'Malley.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


or Life in the Woods

by Madison Cypher

As you can see above, Madison has chosen to spend a significant amount of time inside a small house out in the wild for a bit of solitude, contemplation, and closeness to nature. Madison has chosen to live here for three reasons:

1. To simplify life and reduce expenditures.
2. To transcend normality and experience the divine through nature.
3. To pop out of it at random intervals and scare people.

You can see by the simplicity of this house that Madison is choosing to live only on the barest of essentials out here in the wilderness. She's living only on what can be found nearby in nature: blueberries, bananas, cheez-its, and a juice bottle that Mommy refills from time to time.

You won't find the mindless clutter of busy workers out here, cell phones ringing and computers buzzing. No, this is truly a voyage of self discovery, not to mention a handy manual for self-reliance.

She's done a very Thoreau job of keeping things tidy in her small house, and was dedicated to staying out in the wild as long as possible. But Mommy was calling, and I'm afraid it was time to come in for dinner, a bath and a movie. Oh well - I guess we'll continue the social experiment some other time!

"I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." - Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Today was certainly a blustery day, so Madison put on her Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt and got in the car with Daddy to go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Or, at least that was the initial plan! You see, it's confession time: Daddy has zero skill with a kite. Nada. Ye-Ye has since admitted that he has no skill with the infernal things either, so maybe I can blame it on heredity!

Ah, picture the zen-like peace a kite flyer has, sitting quietly as he watches his kite soar majestically above. That's pretty much the polar opposite of what Daddy was experiencing. I've always been so envious. In China, kites were flying everywhere. You never saw a Chinese person frantically trying to chase down a kite, or run around trying to get the thing airborne for fifteen consecutive seconds. And you never saw a Chinese person attempting to unravel a knot the size of a cat. Add to this Madison's wanting to run around with all the string and get it tangled up, and things were not looking optimistic at first. Yet, after a small season of frustration, something magical occurred: Daddy let Madison fly the kite.

I have no scientific proof of this, except for what I just saw: Chinese people are just plain better with kites. At three years old, Madison was expertly steering the kite in the air - doing what Daddy could not do! Look at her face - she's got that zen-thing going on too!

Not that the entire time she just sat there with the kite - no, there was a lot of giggling and happiness and running going on too. This helped soften Daddy's mood tremendously. Listening to her giggle with glee made the afternoon's attempt worth it. But watching her actually fly a kite for the first time with very little help - that was something wondrous.

While Daddy runs to and fro, Madison is able to just sit there with a pleasant smile on her face, enjoying the site of her kite so high. It was a very special afternoon, and despite Daddy's complete lack of talent with kites, we'll certainly go out there and do it again!

"With your feet on the ground, you're a bird in flight - with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite." -George Banks

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Q T π

Today, as you no doubt already knew, was Pi Day. We celebrated by wearing our new pins that Aunt Shain and our nephews created for us: Madison had one that read "Q T π" on it. Mommy's had a pumpkin and a π on it (pumpkin pie), and Daddys' was a little more complex. It read: "vam π re," and had some fangs on it.

Of course, our love of obscure holidays goes back some time, but this one in particular I can remember celebrating in the early nineties, making a special trip to Shoney's to get a strawberry pie on this most hallowed of days. The pies at Shoney's used to be the best back then. They were so good that we traveled to Gainesville quite frequently to get one (we all lived in White County). To the staff there, we were known as "those guys who eat pies," and each of us made up nick-names like "Pie Pan Dan," "Glaze," and "Knife." I think some of the humor was found in this following conversation:

PIE PAN DAN: "I'd like a strawberry pie, please."

WAITRESS: "Okay, a slice of strawberry pie."

GLAZE: "No ma'am. We'd like one whole strawberry pie please."

WAITRESS: "Oh, it's you. You're those guys who eat pies."

We obviously used to have a bit more time on our hands.

Here's a photo of Madison about to celebrate Pi Day with style. Late tonight, we ate an apple pie from McDonald's. If you look closely, you can see her π pin that she wears proudly. Inside, you just know what she's thinking: "the area of a circle has got to be determined by multiplying π by the radius squared." Either that, or "my Daddy is so weird."

Anyway, Pi Day was a VERY busy day today. Add to this the fact that everyone lost an hour of sleep last night and you can only imagine how exhausted we all were. Why, if there was a formula to calculate how tired we were, it would probably involve π! Anyway, we had part two of our Xtreme series, which is going off much better than the last time we did it. But again, the last time we did this series, Daddy's mind was thousands of miles away, preparing to go to China to meet Madison for the first time. Madison was with us all day today, and immediately after church, we raced home just so we can take a nap. The reason: we had to come back! That's right, we had Easter play practice tonight. Daddy has a much smaller role (he is SO thankful), but Mommy's role is HUGE. She's helping to make sure that everyone has a costume, and just to give you an idea of numbers, she's collected about eighty-five adult Bible costumes, and around twenty-seven children's Bible costumes. So far. Lots of work to do in the coming weeks, but Easter is a big service - even greater than our Christmas performance. There is lots to do. Let's just say it isn't going to be a breeze. That's right, it isn't going to be as easy as π!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

FCC Atlanta Spring Festival

Tonight, we traveled down to Atlanta to visit the FCC's Spring Festival, a nice gathering of many families with children from China in the North Georgia area. There was plenty of food - too much of it, really. It was good, and so was the dancing.

Chinese girls of all ages performed on stage for everyone, dressed in traditional outfits from various regions of China, from Tibet to Guangzhi. There were tables covered with Chinese books and toys and crafts, and even an older gentlemen who spent his time writing in Chinese everyone's names inside a free book we got at the door. He wrote Madison's Chinese name Mei Yang, and also wrote it on a bookmark for us as well.

Madison was thrilled tonight. We were all dressed up in our traditional outfits and the girls looked so cute dressed up as well. Madison wore her hat again - we officially have gotten our money's worth out of that thing!

One great surprise was that Hannah and Aunt Shain were able to come along with us! Shain got Hannah a very nice outfit as well. It was rose in color, and looked like it could be worn for any special occasion. Hannah seemed to have a good time - she got these stuffed panda dolls, and even got to help in a Tai Chi demonstration on stage. Take a look!

As Hannah performed on stage, Madison spent a lot of her time running around the place meeting new friends. Madison is not shy at all! She immediately started having fun with all the other children there, at times just running loose and exploring far from Mommy and Daddy, which made us a little nervous. She made lots of friends very easily though - she's definitely not shy at all.

She spent a lot of time running around, holding hands with her new friends, running in circles - and all falling down. Madison could have done this all night long and never left. In fact, it was pretty difficult to get her to return to our table to finish eating!

Anyway, it was a wonderful time tonight, but we did have to leave a little early. The time change tonight makes it so we have to get up an hour earlier tomorrow morning, and Sunday is always a big day for us anyway. But we were there about three and a half hours - and every moment was worth it to see Madison having such a good time.