Friday, April 30, 2010

Tank Girl

Here's a photo of Madison from two years ago, just after arriving home with us in July of 2008. She's on stage for our "Call of Duty" series, the one that we're doing again - starting this Sunday. Time goes by so fast - and look how much she's grown! Back then, Mommy had found that military-looking outfit that fit her perfectly, and we enjoyed dressing her up on stage for her tour of duty. She was just a cadet, helping out on the tank patrol. I think she was just checking the wankel rotary engine or something. She's a big part of the tank squad - in fact, that's why she goes around saying "Tank you." It's a tank girl thing.

This next picture is bound to offend somebody. Here we are, taking this precious little girl - and putting her actually inside a tank. She was just about to get the hang of it and drive the tank through the rest of the church, but fortunately Daddy got there just in time. By the way, this tank's top can actually swing left and right, and just like the one we'll have in this series, it can shoot out t-shirts and other prizes deep into the audience. Don't worry: we won't launch anything with a lot of weight! Unless there's someone who has been getting on Daddy's nerves....

In any event, the tank is back for the next five weeks. I'm sure we'll pose her with it again, and this time with a new outfit that Mommy picked up yesterday. She loves dressing up in different outfits, especially the ones you don't get to wear everyday. That said, she'll have fun getting all geared up in her military garb. She'll look all ready to answer the Call of Duty!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Madison Has Class

Today was an interesting day of surprises. We first started out with the plan of getting military gear for our upcoming series. We visited consignment shops and a military surplus store, and picked a few things up - especially a little outfit for Madison.

But, we hadn't planned on visiting a place that gives music lessons, where we'll expose Madison to all sorts of musical instruments and styles. It was a spontaneous trip, after dropping some books off at the library. Mommy knew there was a building nearby where we could all go in and check out some classes, so we did. It was fun: There's a music camp this summer that we're strongly thinking of setting up Madison for - but that's not all we're thinking of getting her involved in.

We also visited a gymnastics studio that Madison's cousin Hannah goes to. We visited while Hannah was there, as you can see. This class was a little too old for Madison's age, but she still wanted to go out and imitate everybody. She's very athletic, and we all know she likes to tackle Daddy. She loves climbing about, so we thought we'd expose her to a little gymnastics today - and I'm glad we did. She had fun - though it was brief - with the class, and we collected the information for a future visit. I think we're going to a gymnastics camp soon enough.

Actually, we'll be looking at our calendar a whole lot pretty soon! One reason is that we also have some more swimming classes coming up - and Daddy wants to try out some karate!
Maybe not Rex Kwon Do, but there are some great karate classes for kids as young as Madison out there. Maybe she'll get a black belt! Can't you just see her now, running around in a dojo, punishing her ninja enemies with flying roundhouse kicks? She's pretty good with kicks right now, as I can show you a couple bruises! Okay, so karate is not all about kicks. It's about discipline. That's apparently something Daddy was never blessed with! So karate just might be some fun - we'll explore that after visiting a studio or two.

ANYWAY, the point of all this is there are a lot of classes and scheduling events coming up, all of which I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully, she'll enjoy all of these. We're just wanting her to experience different things, and if she likes any one of them enough, we'll certainly continue on that path. Otherwise, it'll be fun to try something new out. We just want to see her blessed, and highly favored.

Speaking of "highly favored," Mommy put together another fantastic meal tonight. Today was a special occasion on the calendar. I hope you had as much fun as we did, because today was:

Mommy made sure we celebrated appropriately enough, with a delicious dinner made of Shrimp Scampi. Daddy was looking forward to this all day long. Mommy did a great job putting it all together, making a tasty feast!

Again, looking up National Shrimp Scampi Day, I couldn't find out the exact reason or person who said, "Hey, this is an important occasion: let's make it National Shrimp Scampi Day." Also, I like the fact that it is a National day, much different from that other World Shrimp Scampi Day.

Regardless, it was a great opportunity to eat a fine meal!

"Hi-yah!" -Miss Piggy

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Nana had surgery on her shoulder this week, and the doctor has told us everything went better than expected. The picture above shows exactly the sort of activity that Nana won't be able to do much of for the next six weeks - and that'll be a struggle! Nana loves to horseplay with Madison, and it's important to point out here that this isn't the reason for the surgery.

This was sort of a spontaneous moment, above. Nana and Ye-Ye had come over to help us unload some items from Ye-Ye's truck, and afterwards it was playtime. Madison is wearing her grass skirt and lei, holdovers from the highly successful "National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day." She's been putting these on each morning, and running around with them quite a bit.

Our final day of the series "Exodus" was today, which means we're really leaving Egypt now. Next up: "Call of Duty." It's a military theme, and nearly the exact same series we did in July of 2008, the month that Madison came back from China with us. Speaking of Madison, can you believe we've found a great outfit for her? Just wait until you see it - we've got the camouflage shirt and pants, and she'll look real cute on that new stage when it goes up. We did take a picture of her last time on our "Call of Duty" stage - that was nearly two years ago. How time flies. I'll post that picture here alongside our newest one to show a comparison of how much she's grown lately. Last time we put her on the front of a tank. She was so tiny back then!

This morning, she did this funny thing. In the movie "Lilo and Stitch," one of the characters starts saying the word "gravity," as she falls down upon another. It's Lilo's older sister, basically pretending gravity is suddenly too heavy and landing on her sister. WELL, we've been doing that to Madison on and off for a bit now - but this morning, the tables were turned! It was so funny to listen to Madison say "gravity!" Then she'd fall down on top of one of us in bed. Of course, we'd pretend to be stuck - and she'd crack up. Madison's a funny girl!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Little Chun Li

Twenty-three years ago, a game called "Street Fighter" came out. I remember it well, because it involved a joystick and these two pads that you pounded: one represented kicks and the other represented punches. I vividly remember my friends Alan and Chad working with me to defeat the bad guys at a local arcade at Lakeshore Mall here in Gainesville. Alan used the controller, as Chad and I pounded the heck out of those punch and kick pads. We rarely connected, but if we ever did - it would really hurt. Of course, our fists were really hurting a while too! It was a novel game, but we had no idea the impact it would have on our lives a little later.

Fast forward to the nineties, and we all got interested in the sequel "Street Fighter II" very fast. I can tell you the first place I saw it: Cumberland Mall in Atlanta. We were hooked immediately. In fact, we'd all drive to Atlanta just to play against all the best people there at arcades like Green's Corner or Lenox Square. We weren't half bad. It became an obsession at North Georgia College, in between classes. Everyone would line up just to play, or watch us play. Even on our vacations, we'd go looking for arcades to challenge others with. At our job at the Alpine Amusement Park in Helen, Georgia, we'd play that game on all our breaks, and before and after work. Over time, we'd play other people in all sorts of places, from Texas to Las Vegas to Hawaii. Many times, we'd win. Some times we'd find some really good players, and sometimes - like in Vegas - we'd find some particularly frustrating players!

Of course, when the game came out on home consuls, that was all the rage for a while too. My friend Danny constructed a joystick system with buttons, just so he could recreate the Street Fighter experience at home. And Daddy even found a stand-up arcade version of Street Fighter for $200, and you didn't even have to put quarters into it. It still rests in the garage, and maybe soon I'll be playing it with Madison!

Just like this blog entry could go on and on, we could play this one game for hours! We can tell you all about these characters, as they are just like characters from a novel or a movie, and ones we've known for twenty years or so. There's E. Honda, Ken, Ryu, Dhalsim, Zangief, Vega, Balrog, M. Bison, Sagat and quite a few others. And, of course, there's Chun Li.

Chun Li came back last year, right after we came back from China. "Street Fighter IV" was released in February of 2009, and it was huge. It brought us all back to a time when we were younger, and evidently had more time on our hands! One exciting new thing: when "Street Fighter IV" came out last year, we were playing people online in Japan, which was huge for us, as that's where the game came from. How we've always wondered what it'd be like to play someone from Japan. Daddy could even still win a round or two!

Street Fighter is just a part of Daddy's culture growing up. I picked the big wrestler character Zangief a lot, and Dhalsim, the mystical Indian with seemingly elastic arms. But my favorite character was always the Chinese girl, Chun Li. She was fun - she still is. In the nineties when I was playing this game so much, I had no idea at the time that China would be playing such a huge role in my life to come.

But it did. And when it came to be when we let everyone know we were adopting from China, that the others told me I was going to adopt "my little Chun Li." It was funny, and true. I was never seriously tempted to name Madison that, but that would be humorous. She really is my little Chun Li. Just to illustrate this, we wrestle all the time - she even is getting good with her kicks! Although she can't do that helicopter kick yet...

So why post all this today? Partially because it was a work day and Daddy didn't get to spend too much time with Madison. Mommy spent most of the day with her, down in the prop room at our church trying to clean it up some. But a little later on, Daddy went to pick up a few groceries and brought Madison with him. His primary purpose was to pick up a few things at Publix, but he couldn't help but stop by a video game store called Gamestop.

The reason: today was the release date of "Super Street Fighter IV." The fun continues! As part of the incentive to buy at this one location, Madison got her own little thumb cover, which has on it a picture of Chun Li. These little thumb covers are so you can put them on and have thumb fights, which Madison and I promptly did in the parking lot. Round One... Fight! She was Chun Li and I was a newer character, and of course, Madison's thumb ruled the day with some sharp combos that had Daddy's thumb all dazed and confused. But everyone knows I'm under her thumb all the time anyway.

One Halloween, you may see Madison in a Chun Li outfit. It would look very cute on her, and I would immediately have to send the photo off to all the guys, who would get a big kick out of it.

She's my little Chun Li!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Very Full Day!

What a full day! After reading this post, you'll find it hard to disagree! We started out innocently enough: we were waiting for our heating and air maintenance guy to come visit with us in order to do the semi-annual check-up. Sounds pretty mundane, right? Yep.

But he called and told us his van broke down, and that's when the fun began. Mommy and Daddy decided right there and then to make the most of a day that had no more appointments on the calendar: Mommy packed a picnic, and together we piled into the car to go to Cleveland where we'd check out the new location for Babyland General Hospital!

Ah, the glory of Babyland! Those little Cabbage Patch Kids are moving up and down in their cabbages, which struck Madison as very funny. Actually, it struck Daddy as funny too.

It was such a dreary day today, cold and windy. You'd never know it was April outside, nearly May. But we had a great time indoors as we checked out the new building for the Cabbage Patch Kids. Madison had a huge smile on her face as she ran inside the building, going from room to room to check out all the little babies. The new building was set up nicely, with more room. From the outside, it looks more stately - though the interior of the older building had a bit more character. On the whole, I'd say it was a good move for them!

We did get to see another baby born, as the nurse came out from the spot by the tree to announce a new Cabbage Patch Kid was born. It was a she, and I think her name was Abbie Michelle or something like that. The nurse asked for a first name, and a young girl called out "Abbie!" So Abbie it was. Then it came time for a middle name: Daddy suggested "Normal," but only so Mommy could hear. "Abbie Normal" would be a great Cabbage Patch Kid name, right? Okay, maybe not.

Over the last few days, we've been bidding on Ebay for a special Cabbage Patch Kid. We've sort of dropped Ebay over the years, but now are bidding because this particular auction is for a good cause. It is for a group called Love Without Boundaries, which "provides the most loving and compassionate help possible to orphaned and impoverished children in China. They provide humanitarian aid in five key areas: education, foster care, healing homes, medical and orphanage assistance."

In any event, we were considering a donation anyway, so this auction is a great opportunity to give, and maybe get a little something nice for Madison. It's been funny because we've had our minds set on a certain amount - and we keep outbidding everyone else. Hopefully we'll get it. If not, I know we've helped drive the price up and raised more money for a good cause.

If we win, we'll put a picture of the doll here. Otherwise, we're content with the Cabbage Patch Dolls we have already. Of course, there are the two Indian dolls. And Madison has one of the plastic-headed dolls in her room right now. But today I heard we might be getting a few more from Florida... Madison will like that. She likes these Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.

We had a great time at Babyland, and decided it was time to head back home. The weather was too cool and wet to have a picnic, so we ate in the car. Nana was having surgery on her shoulder today, so we dropped by the Wal-Mart in Cleveland for the first time ever - and picked her up some flowers.

On our way back home, we thought we'd check out a prospect for Madison's upcoming birthday party, a little place called Monkey Joe's. We happened to drop by at just the right time. Can you believe it? They were letting kids in for free today!

Mommy, Daddy and Madison went inside and got to see the place first-hand. We even met some friends inside, so Madison had someone to jump around with. She is so fearless! She was climbing up so very high, and sliding down these huge slides without any problem at all! Just look at our tiny little girl climbing up this huge monster of a slide!

She just about jumped down that slide too. She was having a great time, and we wound up staying there for over an hour.

Look how high up she is on this one "inflatable rock wall." She doesn't even flinch when climbing upward like that. She scurries up the wall with a great deal of speed too, certainly able to keep up with the boys. Daddy was cheering her on from the side, as Mommy got an opportunity to sit and talk with our friends. As soon as Madison would get through an obstacle course, she'd race right back to the starting point again. Sometimes she'd look like Mr. Bean, we laughed: she'd run in circles, not quite sure which direction to go first. It looked so funny, because she was so excited about doing every single activity she could while there. And, of course she did. There's a little bit of her Daddy in her there.

Madison even met Monkey Joe himself, and gave him a high-five. But she didn't hang around with him for long! Not when there were slides and inflatable obstacle courses to be conquered! She wasn't scared of any one of them, although Daddy certainly was. All the while, she had the biggest grin on her face, and ran around with an amazing amount of energy. She had take a nap on the way there, so she was completely rested and absolutely wired when she started going down slides and jumping around. She had such a good time that Mommy and Daddy decided this would be the place to have her birthday party in June. We get a nice little room, pizza, and plenty of other neat options - so we've decided to make this the place to go to. Daddy's mind is already thinking of jungle themes for Monkey Joe's. It should be a great birthday party. We were thinking this would be the best place, simply because it gives the kids something to do that they really love: jump and run around.

But soon it was time to leave. We were thankful for another fun and free thing to do while out. So far, we had only invested money in gas to drive to these places! We found our way home, and visited with Nana and Ye-Ye. Nana is doing just fine after her surgery - according to Ye-Ye, everything went perfectly and the doctors are very optimistic. Now for the hard part: keeping still!

We headed home, but the day wasn't over yet. Mommy is always quick to make sure we celebrate any holiday we can, and today was no different. Today is National Pretzel Day, so we were all in for a special treat! Mommy had gone to the grocery store and purchased some of those nice, big, thick pretzels - the kind you pour salt on. We cooked them up in the oven, and made a big platter of pretzels to put on the table. Pretzel sticks, pretzel squares and delicious vegetable pretzels surrounded our big, tasty ones. And Daddy made sure there was mustard nearby!

Madison enjoyed eating her pretzel, mainly because of the salt on top of it. Mommy and Daddy love that salt too - we got to talking about salt bagels. Have you ever had one? The really salty ones are so good! But they do leave you thirsty, that's for sure. These pretzels left us thirsty as well. In case you're wondering what the story is behind National Pretzel Day, I just had to look it up myself: It started 27 years ago in 1983. That's when a Pennsylvania congressman wanted a special day named for his favorite food. The tradition started there and spread across the country. I think the Congressman's name was Snyder or Wetzel, or something like that.

Fun Fact: The average person eats about 1.5 lbs. of pretzels each year. In our house, that average is much higher, naturally. Since the 7th century, there have been several documented recipes for the pretzel. One story says that in 610 A.D. a monk took rolls of leftover dough and shaped them into criss-crossed arms in the shape of praying hands. He called the treat a "pretiola" or "little reward." Others dubbed his treats "brachiola" or "little arms." The actual word "pretzel" has German origins and it is said to be similar to the word for "bracelet."

Pretzels can be used for other things besides eating, of course! Here, you can see Madison making something out of her pretzels. Can you see what it is? That's right, it's a house! She actually told us it's a house, and showed us the windows she put along the inside. Our daughter is a pretzel architect!

Moments later, she ate the house.

Daddy took our pretzel platter over to Nana afterwards, after filling it up again with soft and hard pretzels. Nothing like a good pretzel platter to cheer you up. I'd say it's the sort of thing that's more appreciated than even flowers!

Tonight before bed, we watched "Phineas and Ferb" on DVD again, and soon found ourselves yawning and ready for sleep. Madison was quite ready for bed herself, and went down very easily tonight. We all will go down easy tonight: it was a very full day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

World Penguin Day

Today is World Penguin Day, which of course needed to be celebrated.

Evidently, on this very day - April 25th - every single year, a certain type of penguin begins a migration north by swimming. They all dive into the freezing cold water and swim hundreds of miles to hang around a bunch of icebergs where they eat krill, sardines and meat loaf. Then, they go back home to beautiful Antarctica. So it isn't really migrating. But there is a method to their madness: they have to swim north because it gets darker in Antarctica, and these birds can't see so well in the dark. Therefore, they have to leave so they can see - and eat!

So, how did we celebrate World Penguin Day? Firstly, Mommy has Opus in the kitchen right now. He's a stuffed animal - yes, a penguin. He was the star of Daddy's favorite comic book series, "Bloom County." And of course, we had penguin for dinner. Just kidding. This afternoon, we couldn't make it to the zoo or the aquarium, as it was a Sunday - but we did manage to pick up a copy of "Happy Feet" to watch, and of course that leads us to...

This is a simple book that exploits penguins for mathematical purposes, and that's just fine by me. Basically, the title of the book is as descriptive as they come: you count penguins. Still, it's a fun little book for Madison to see the penguins, and yes, count them. She does like penguins, of course. What child doesn't? You may remember that her favorite toy is this one here:

Playful penguins indeed! Madison can sit and watch these penguins go up - and slide down - for over an hour. She'll interact with them, and even take them to other places with her. These penguins are her friends!

She didn't take the penguins with her today when we went for a ride to town. While there, we picked up some items for the backyard area. Daddy will play the part of Handy Manny tomorrow as he tries to assemble a gliding chair for he and Mommy to sit on. We also got more pea-sized stones for an area in the back yard, and new deck chairs for our balcony. We've been getting a lot of rain lately - a lot of rain. Yesterday we were under a tornado watch, and our weather radio was going off at 1:00 in the morning!

One other thing we picked up while we were out was a copy of "Happy Feet." We wanted to continue our theme of penguins, so we popped some popcorn and watched penguins dance for an hour and a half. I think they did more than dance, but seriously, if you cut out the dancing and the far away shots where the camera zooms forward to a penguin (usually dancing), then the movie would be about ten minutes long. Seriously, this was the movie that beat "Cars" for Best Animated Picture of 2006? Someone was apparently bribed, or under the influence of some sort of mind-altering substance.

Don't get me wrong: It wasn't a terrible movie. It's just as far as penguin movies go, we could have been better off with "Surf's Up." I guess that one will wait until tomorrow!

Anyway, it's time to head to bed now. It's been a long day: we had a great service this morning, the seventh in our "Exodus" series. We even squeezed in a walk down to the park with Ye-Ye and Nana, which was fantastic with the nice weather and all. But now, we're all tired. It's time to head off to sleep, where we'll dream of beautiful Antarctic landscapes filled with dancing flightless waterfowl.

"I don't go for fancy cars, for diamond rings or movie stars. I go for penguins."
- Lyle Lovett

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Arrr! Ye scurvy rats! We'll be pirates for sure this May as we make the journey back to Disney to stay at the Disney Caribbean Resort. A special deal came across, and we really, really needed a vacation - so we're staying for four nights (and we've got a five-day ticket pass!).

Lately, we've been watching pirate movies, such as "Princess and the Pirate," "Treasure Planet," "Muppet Treasure Island," and of course the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. Madison has seen the muppet one, and knows really well how to say "arrr!" She also knows how to say "Disney World." I think this will be our fourth trip to a Disney park with her - and this one will be a little different. This time, we'll be heading to the parks a bit more, and spending some time with the character dining.

Needless to say, we're pretty excited. I suppose the next few weeks we'll be plotting and planning our adventure. I can't wait to go on Dumbo again, and this time we'll visit the China pavilion at EPCOT. Madison can say and recognize China - what a thrill it will be for her to meet Mulan and see a bit of what her homeland is like. There'll be so much for us to do together. Usually, we visit and are focused on the more grown-up things. But this time, we just can't wait to see the kiddie shows, and watch Madison's face light up at meeting characters and riding all the rides like "It's a Small World." It'll be magical!

We're getting our pirate gear ready, and we're about to set sail! Ahoy there, me hearties!

"Now... bring me that horizon." -Captain Jack Sparrow

Friday, April 23, 2010


It's been a while since we've had an entry in Madison's Book Club. Today we'll talk about Curious George and his trip to the beach. It's all inside a book called "Curious George Goes to the Beach." That sort of says it all, huh? Anyway, Madison enjoys all the Curious George books - and the movie as well. Actually, Mommy and Daddy enjoy the movie too. That is one that I can safely recommend to nearly anyone. But back to the book: George doesn't get into too much chaos with this one, but this still winds up being an entertaining trip to the beach. The pictures are great, and Madison enjoys the story. She can put up her thumbs right up now, so we'll go ahead and give this one two thumbs up.

Speaking of fingers and such, Mommy taught Madison the classic "Where is Pointer?" game where Madison's fingers play a bit of hide and seek as we sing the song. Mommy put a smiley face on Madison's index finger so that when Daddy got home, she started doing the little song again. It was cute!

Want to know what happened to the pineapple in the photos a few days ago? We had it on a homemade pizza that Mommy made for dinner tonight! Yummy! We had a pineapple and ham pizza, which was fantastic!

Later, Mommy and Madison went back to Wal-Mart to get some more plants for the gardening efforts alongside the house, BUT they picked up something else!
The Disney Princess' Royal Throne!
Ah, the majesty of it all! No princess should go without one of these. Madison clung tightly to it all the way home and couldn't wait to get it out of the package it came in. She was near tears as she called out to Daddy: "Scissors!" Daddy had a hard time understanding what she was wanting, so she made the fingers gesture to indicate "scissors!" Mommy picked up on that, fortunately, and we were able to get the scissors and pull the royal throne out of the packaging, and immediately install it. Within moments, it was christened - and there were Tinkle Dots for everybody!

Tomorrow we'll try something new. Daddy has to be at a roller skating rink anyway, so he was thinking why not bring along Mommy and Madison. We'll give it a try! It might not last that long, but we'll certainly get a neat experience out of it. Once she sees others skating about, she might be encouraged to spend some more time trying it out. Of course, Daddy will be there every step of the way, holding her arms and trying to keep her from falling. Stay tuned for details - and maybe some pictures!

Madison likes cheese sticks. You know the ones that are just basically strips of cheese that you keep in your refrigerator for snacks? This morning Madison simply had to have one, so much so that she was dancing about the kitchen with excitement at the possibilities that rested before her: just think! All that cheese stick in my possession! It was certainly an inspiring moment: she danced in place - and who was I to deny her after such a wonderful performance. It reminded me of the Futterwacken, the Mad Hatter's odd dance at the end of "Alice in Wonderland." Although her head didn't spin around so much. That only comes after eating chocolate.

"On that day, I shall Futterwacken vigorously."
-The Mad Hatter

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Loudfairies

Madison got to visit with Abbie and Rachel tonight, as we went over their house for a special occasion: It was their Mommy Judy's birthday, and we just wanted to make sure we came over to celebrate. All three of the girls strapped on their fairy wings and fluttered around the house, naturally making lots of noise. These were clearly imitating a certain kind of fairy, found only in this region:

That's right - the Loudfairies. These fairies are wee little ones that go around screaming and squealing really loudly. Some fairies are responsible for the fragrant morning dew. Others are responsible for the gentle frost that decorates winter forests. These fairies are responsible for noise.

If you're wondering what Loudfairies do for recreation, it's quite simple! They have School Bus Races. At least, that's what Madison, Rachel and Abbie had tonight. With their wings fluttering, the three each grabbed a huge plastic school bus - one for each of them - and pushed them around the house in circles as fast as they could. Don't question it. That's just what Loudfairies do.

Of course all that stopped when the cake and ice cream came out. Loudfairies love ice cream. Everything stops when there's ice cream!

Mommy and Daddy thought it was nice to go over and spend some time with our friends - we used to have a lot more time before the kids came! We both laughed about how after the children go to bed, we finally have some quiet time to watch a movie or something - and then we fall asleep before its over!

That just might be the case tonight. Our little Loudfairy is finally snoozing...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Madison likes to do twirls when she puts on a dress. You don't even have to ask her to do one - it's just automatic. She'll put her hands up above her head and twirl around in her dress like she's a ballerina or fashion model. Here she is, wearing a nice spring dress in our front yard. Madison helped Mommy do some serious work today alongside the house - pictures are coming soon, really! Mommy and Madison planted more plants and spread rocks about to make things very nice. Madison enjoyed helping out with the garden work, as usual. She's got those gloves, a plastic shovel and a plastic rake that she'll haul out of the garage so she can mimic Mommy or Daddy, which is always fun. Speaking of fun, the weather was nice today: nice and cool. It was perfect for doing this sort of work, which explains why they got so much done together.

She didn't wear the dress though.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day

Today at about 4:00, Mommy called me and shared with me something very important: today is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. What news! I had to race home as soon as I could so Mommy could go out and get some grocery shopping done - we were going to have some delicious pineapple upside down cake tonight! Yummy!

Of course, at our house, we can never just have the cake and eat it too. Daddy just so happened to be wearing his Hawaiian pineapple shirt, and he came home and plugged in an Annette Funicello CD (that includes the song "Pineapple Princess"), while Mommy started preparing the cake. Madison put on her grass skirt and her flower leis, and even put one on Daddy too - she was ready for a luau. In fact, she started waving her pom-poms about as the music played - and as Mommy brought over the pineapple upside down cake!

Madison said the word "pineapple," and smiled, pointing at the large one Mommy brought home from the grocery store. The cake was the greatest I've ever tasted. It was undoubtably Mommy's finest hour when it comes to pineapple upside down cake. It was so delicious! In fact, we brought some over to Ye-Ye and Nana to share. Oh yes, National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day is something you should share with others! Can't you feel the love?

Monday, April 19, 2010


Tonight was fun - we went to Kiku Japanese Steak House. We ate at the hibachi table, the first time for Madison. She was a little unsure of things when our cook sent big flames way up high in the air, but he had a very good sense of humor with her and kept her giggling throughout the entire performance. Pictured above is the volcano - hard to see with all the other food, but the cook makes a volcano out of onion slices. You can see the flames coming out the top.

This cook tossed bits of cooked egg in the air to see if any of us could catch it with our mouths. Ye-Ye, Nana, and Daddy all missed - but Mommy caught hers, to the applause of everyone at the table. Madison gave it a try, and laughed when she got hit on the head with egg. What a restaurant - where else can you expect employees to throw eggs at you and have a good time?

Madison did have a good time. So did everyone else. We've been sort of planning to visit one of these places for quite some time, and I'm glad we got around to it tonight. It was a lot of fun. We spent most of our time just watching Madison react to our cook, who was very entertaining. It was also quite filling! Daddy couldn't finish all the food they had prepared for him. Mommy couldn't either - and Madison said she was full too... until the ice cream showed up! It's funny how you can feel full until the ice cream appears...

Anyway, before our big meal, it was a productive day for us outside in the yard. Madison helped Mommy and Daddy move shrubbery about and plant flowers in the yard. The weather was perfect for this sort of thing - it has been very nice outside lately.

This morning was an early morning for Madison, but we were ready with some musical instrument fun. Madison was playing her guitar, and using her other instruments as well. She had fun making lots of noise.

It was a pretty full day today, one that everyone enjoyed. Daddy still has some work to do on the computer, so until tomorrow...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Game's Afoot!

Today is Sherlock Holmes Day. I have no idea why - I guess that's the mystery. Mommy wrote it down on her "obscure holiday list," and with that in mind, Daddy sat down with Madison to watch "The Great Mouse Detective" this evening with a great big thing of popcorn. She enjoyed it, though we skipped a few of the darker parts of the movie. Afterwards, Daddy spent some time looking up for the blog why exactly it was Sherlock Holmes Day and couldn't find a single reference to it! It's a mystery!

Well, still it was as good a day as any to celebrate the famous detective. Mommy and Daddy have always liked Sherlock Holmes. In fact, before we both met, the two of us had both stayed at what used to be called the Grosvenor Resort nearby the Walt Disney Village. It had references to Sherlock Holmes here and there, and was generally a nice place to stay.

Home was a nice place to stay today - as we didn't do much after church this morning. It was a good morning with the kids, but Daddy was anxious to get home and rest. We went out to get some flowers to plant, and Mommy set out to getting them in the ground this afternoon while the weather was so nice. Seriously, she's done a great job with the side of the house. Daddy will attack the back yard with a weed eater tomorrow - the grass is quite large back there. We'll largely stay around the house tomorrow, getting chores done here or there.

Baba and Nana are coming! In about two weeks, they'll be here to join us for a week or so. They miss Madison, and Madison misses them of course. Each time they call, Madison is on the phone to say hello. She says a lot more than that, typically, but we're never 100% sure of all of it. I'm assuming it's all good. No one exactly knows.

You could say it's a ...mystery!

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Simply Daffy

Ah, the joy of discovery. More steam! Here Madison is up upon our bathroom counter, realizing she can wipe away the fogginess on the mirror - and smiling widely as she suddenly sees herself clearly through the blurred reflection. Daddy was fortunate enough to have a camera nearby at the time!


Today, Daffy Duck turns 73 years old. Looking at him closely, it doesn't look like he's aged a bit. We'll have to look into what his secret is. Surely, by now he should look a little older, especially after getting all banged up in all those cartoons. All those sticks of dynamite must put a few wrinkles on here or there. Madison watched her first Daffy Duck cartoons today in honor of the holiday. It was a "just before bed" sort of thing, where Daddy found a few clips on the computer to show. One of Daddy's favorites from when he was young is "Robin Hood Daffy," which we watched together tonight. Madison loved the same part Daddy did - jumping off the tree and swinging from a vine, only to hit another tree... and then another tree... and then another tree... and then another tree... and so on!

Today while Daddy worked, Mommy and Madison were out gardening. They were planting the flowers we purchased yesterday, and they look very nice alongside the house. Madison was more than helpful, if you catch our drift! She had her plastic shovel and just wanted to always be in the action. At least she's trying to be a good helper!

Tomorrow we'll finish outside a bit - the weather had been great for being outdoors. Sadly, Daddy was indoors most of the day. But tomorrow looks promising. To stay inside would be simply daffy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil has always been a big part of Mommy and Daddy's life. It was around April of 1998 that Daddy bought a few tickets, one for himself and one for a mystery person that he figured he'd find along the way.

Of course, that would turn out to be Mommy. We started seeing each other in May of 1998, and somewhere along the line, I asked her if she'd like to go see Cirque du Soleil with me in November (you can, and sometimes have to buy the tickets several months in advance). She said yes, of course. That show was "Quidam," and it was one of Daddy's favorites.

Ever since then, we've seen every show that has come to Atlanta, and of course the one down in Orlando. We have a Cirque du Soleil ornament on the Christmas tree, and Daddy has read the book "The Spark" two times (about to pick it up and read it again). We also got the television series one year for Valentine's Day, and quickly watched each episode through the coming weeks. We have all the soundtracks, and I think you get the drift that we're really into Cirque du Soleil.

I think our favorites are "Varekai" and "Quidam," although the show in Orlando, "La Nouba," is also very good.

This week, we've decided to let Madison see Cirque du Soleil. Just as in 1998, Daddy bought some tickets seven months ahead of time for the upcoming performance called "Ovo." It looks very interesting with a bug-theme and some fun characters and acts. We purchased three tickets, so this time around we'll be bringing Madison with us. She'll be four years old by that point, so I think she'll be able to enjoy the performance. It'll be neat to watch and hear her during the show!


Tonight we went to Ye-Ye and Nana's house to celebrate some birthdays. Aunt Shain and Madison's two cousins David and Jonathan have had birthdays recently, so we all got together for dinner and a movie on the television set. It was a relaxed occasion - a chance for us to get together and enjoy each other's company.

And a chance for Madison to jump around on everyone! She's a little athlete. She tackles, rolls and dances around. At this rate, you can easily see her becoming a ballerina, a gymnast, or maybe a football player.

Or a Cirque du Soleil performer!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Fifty-five years ago, on this day in 1955, something monumental happened: the first McDonald's restaurant opened up. Look at those magnificent golden arches! To celebrate this important occasion, Mommy, Madison and Daddy went to the nearest McDonald's we could find, and actually did something we haven't done in a long time: we ate inside.

The drive-thru is just one of those things we always wind up going through, but not on an all-important day like today! We placed our order - we all had chicken, and of course McDonald's french fries. These fries are in my humble opinion, the greatest fries on the planet. Unbeatable. Many try to imitate, but this is the holy grail of fries here. Of course, their burgers are really good too.

We don't go to McDonald's that frequently, but every so often we'll drop through the drive-thru to get a quick meal. Madison knows the drive-thru very well: she knows it as a happy place to put your car, because soon some magical people will stick their heads out and give us all the food we care to eat!

McDonald's is such a big part of our culture, and it is fun to think back on some of our visits. For example, Daddy once visited a McDonald's in Israel, where you couldn't get cheeseburgers because they aren't kosher. Mommy and Daddy stopped at a McDonald's in Kauai while on their honeymoon. There's also the largest McDonald's in Orlando, Florida. Daddy still remembers his grandmother taking us to McDonald's in Pompton Plains, New Jersey - quite some time ago, of course. I just looked it up - it's still there. Oh, here's another one we visited two years ago:

Yes, we found one in Beijing, China, just before meeting Madison. We may sound obsessed with McDonald's or something, but it's just one of those things that's around. It's like - "hey, you want to go get a burger?"

When we first arrived in Beijing, the answer was yes. So we left the safety and comfort of our hotel in China and ventured out to a land where nobody spoke even the vaguest hint of English. Chinese is one of those languages where there's no way you can pick up on anything. They could be sitting there describing what Grimace is for all I know.

That's why we were glad to have pictures on the menus above that we could point at. Fortunately, everything looked normal in those pictures, from hamburgers to chicken wraps to those awesome french fries. Unfortunately, we were warned before going to China not to drink the water - and we had no idea how to communicate to the cashiers there: "No ice."

We wound up picking out the ice later on our own. Which was odd. But not as odd as the bathrooms there:

That's Nana's territory. Do not ask why, but she felt the need to take pictures of all the different toilets from Tokyo to Beijing to Guangzhou. She should open a photo exhibit and call it "Toilets of the World." Seriously, it'd be better and more interesting than some of the other real exhibits I've been forced to look at!

Now before wrapping things up here, it is now only natural to mark the all-important occasion of Madison's first experience with McDonald's. Daddy was quick to be careful to record it. Yes, for an occasion as solemn and important as this, there'd better be a camera nearby. It was sometime in the Fall of 2008, and the photo to your left is Madison's first exposure to McDonald's french fries and a burger. She didn't care for the burger, but fell hard for those french fries - especially after dipping them in ketchup. Yes, there was much rejoicing.

We were so proud of her at that moment. You could say she was McLovin' it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Doing Taxes

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS?"
-Author Unknown

This morning, Daddy, Mommy and Madison went to go get our taxes done. We would have done it earlier, but the Easter performance kept us quite busy. It was cute: Madison sat at a nearby desk with headphones in, watching "Snow White," and quite content. So long as she had her Cheez-its!

We got there early enough, so nobody else was there yet. But I imagine it's going to get busy later. Tomorrow is the deadline, April 15th.

This year, we were blessed - but first of all, some tax credit goes to Mommy: she's the one who added up all the donations and gifts, and also informed the lady who helped us with our taxes about the rolling over of the adoption tax credit.

Ahhh, the adoption tax credit! It helps pay back some of the money we invested in adopting Madison. This year we got more of that, plus we now have Madison as a dependent. Bottom line: we're getting some of our money back that we overpaid.

Still, taxes are high. According to the Tax Foundation, we now work for the United States Government until April 9th of each year. Hopefully, that date won't be in April or June when Madison is older. Here's a neat statistic on taxes: we pay more in taxes than we do on food, shelter and clothing combined.

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta."
-Dave Barry

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dandelions 101

Madison had a nice walk down to the park today, where we met up with Ye-Ye and Nana, who were walking their dogs. It was such pleasant weather today - the walk was easy and refreshing. Notice how Madison is dressed for this walk - she dressed herself. Yes, she's wearing her overalls backwards. Do not ask me why she's done this. I doubt she's ever heard of Kriss Kross, although she does occasionally like to jump, jump.

I think one of the highlights must have been the discovery of the dandelion. Once Madison learned you could blow the seeds, then it became a really fun time for her. That's what grandparents are for: to show you cool stuff like this. Madison was addicted. She had to pick as many as she could, and blow the seeds away in the breeze.

Here she is, getting her first lesson of Dandelions 101.
I use the number "101," because I think we must have picked one hundred and one of these poor flowers along the walk back from the park! Madison had to get every one she spotted, and blow it into the wind. Even when she was sitting on Daddy's shoulders, she'd insist on getting dandelions where she spotted them. The end result was that Daddy has quite a few dandelion seeds in his hair.

Flaky white stuff in Daddy's hair? I guess you could call it... dandedruff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day in Forsyth

Madison once again was thrilled to be visiting the chiropractor today, jumping on the table and putting her head in the little slot so Doc Williams could give her an adjustment. She knows the routine, and still insists on helping the nurses out with blankets and that large vibrating thing. It's a great time for everyone - next time I'll bring the camera because you just have to see a photo for yourself of how much she giggles through the entire experience.

Today we meandered about Forsyth County, picking up birthday presents and doing a bit of clothes shopping as well. Madison has some new clothes, but so do Mommy and Daddy. It was a productive day on the road, and to close out things we dropped by the Golden Corral once more. This is a good restaurant for Madison because she can sometimes be a picky chooser when it comes to what she'll eat in front of her. A buffet gives us the room to find that one thing she's into, and put it there in front of her. Today, it was corn on the cob, tomatoes, small oranges - and chocolate!

I just love the way she looks at me and says "chocolate!" This mischievous smile appears on her face, and she's ready to tear into some chocolate ASAP!

Mommy and Daddy did a little work this morning at the house, but tonight it's time to get some rest. We'll conclude watching the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy tonight. Including "Treasure Planet," for four nights in a row we've been watching pirate movies after putting Madison to bed. We've been teaching her to say "arrrr!" again too - there's a little foreshadowing for you. Soon enough, you'll know the reason why we've been so into pirates lately.

"I think we've all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically."
- Captain Jack Sparrow

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Somewhat tired from this morning's service, but still determined to get out and enjoy the day, we hopped in the car and headed to the nearest playground.

We have several parks nearby, some of which are in the city of Gainesville. These are nicely set-up - one is by the lake as well, so it offers some nice scenery. Today, though, we opted for the least crowded one we knew of: that's the one behind our church. It's a nice set-up, with two large jungle gym pieces, complete with about six or seven slides. Also there are swings, and a few other random play sets that sit out in the grass. Madison has enjoyed the play area before, but with the weather being as it has, we haven't been here in quite some time. Today seemed like a perfect day to go check it out, and we figured no one else would be there.

We were right. We stopped the car and Madison jumped out, running towards the slides. She had a wonderful time with us. She has this checklist mentality - just like her father. She had to do everything at least once, making sure she had her fun on each piece of playground equipment.

Then she'd go back to do the things she liked best. In this case, today wasn't a slide day. It was all about the wacky gator - and the swing. More on the swing in a moment. As you can see, the gator is a simple concept. You basically sit there and push back and forth and the gator rocks back and forth. I never saw this as a child, and as I got older I never fully grasped why this would be something fun to do for longer periods of time (example: thirty seconds). Yet she loved this gator, and wanted to sit on it and rock it back and forth - and soon even got Daddy into the act!

Yes, that's right: Daddy got on the gator too. He barely fit. Mommy took a few pictures of us riding the gator. I had the time of my life. You haven't lived life until you've ridden a gator. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Anyway, next we hopped on a swing. For some reason, Madison hasn't really wanted to swing as much in the past. But all that changed today. Today, she could have sat on that swing another half hour if we let her. Daddy was pushing that swing with her on it for well over twenty minutes. She absolutely loved it. Daddy would do the "pretend to get hit" trick, or the pull the swing as far back as possible and countdown three... two... one... she loved it all. Curious, Daddy would ask her if she was ready to hop off - and she'd say "stay swing." So we stayed on the swing for a long time. It was a perfect trip to the park.

This morning, Madison woke us up very early. We can listen in on her room using our monitor, and we heard something unusual at 5:00 in the morning: giggling. Lots of giggling. She was giggling for a couple minutes straight, and though it was extremely early, it was hilarious! Don't you ever wonder what a three-year-old is dreaming? We may never know. It could have been a visitation from God, or it could have been Madison dreaming that she was hitting Daddy on the head over and over again. No matter what it was, it was tickling her quite a bit. She was laughing so hard she woke us up!

Despite the interruption in sleep, Daddy had a good day at church this morning. The kids have been really enjoying "Exodus."

Mommy and Madison slept in - still recovering somewhat from last week. But the weather was so nice, it couldn't keep us in for too long. Soon we were out there at the playground.

I have a feeling we'll be back again soon this week.