Saturday, July 31, 2010

Driving Lessons

Madison had a great day today at church - although things started with a couple of consecutive trips to the Disney Store to get some supplies for church: "High School Musical"products. We're starting our "School Days" series and Mommy was putting together a display case for the month. Along the way, we picked up a few items for Christmas, but I won't share what those are... just in case she finds this blog and happens to read it all here! It isn't anything related to "High School Musical," by the way. We happened to watch that last night for the first time. It was actually pretty good - it's funny how we've been avoiding it all this time.

Afterwards, we spent the remainder of the day at the church, where Madison entertained everyone with lots of giggling and tackling. She was so entertaining that some of our coworkers decided to use her in a fake commercial that we filmed here at the church. Yes, that's right: Madison's acting debut, right here tonight at Free Chapel. Her only task was to act the part of a bully, but hopefully we'll be able to post the video here soon. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm sort of nervous. Hope she did well!

It was time to go home, so Madison climbed in the car - and honked the horn! She was a little impatient today - Mommy had to put her in her place: in the back seat!

Friday, July 30, 2010

New House

It's officially ours today. We spent a lot of time simultaneously preparing for a new series, as Zena, Madison and the grandparents spent a lot of time preparing the new house. Madison had fun running around again, and traveled around with everyone - pretty much wearing us all out! She has a bundle of energy that we wish we could bottle.

It's time to start looking back on this home now. It has been a blessing for nine years now, and at one point it too seemed big. But we've been bumping into each other as of late and things have been crowded. It has been so familiar to us for so long, but it is time to say goodbye. This is an unusual home - that's what drew us to it in the first place. It's where Madison spent half of her life, if you think about it. Two years she's been with us. This was her first home here in America, where we've had many happy memories. We'll make many new memories in our new home, of course. But this old house we live in now will forever be linked with those first precious years we've spent with our daughter.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ballerina Girl

Madison enjoyed her gymnastics class one more time this morning in Buford, but with the new location for us, it seems apparent that we'll be heading to a different gymnastics school. This new one we've discovered is certainly closer - and it also offers ballet classes for children her age. This is great, as Madison hasn't let go of the ballet things in her life. She wears her tutu a lot, and is frequently seen dancing throughout the house.

Swing, and swing, and swing and turn."

Just this week, Mommy found at Goodwill a ballerina bar for balancing, along with a video that allows you to follow along with some practice moves. Madison also has a mat as well. She sets these up and does her different moves in the playroom, sometimes with one of us along for the ride. Of course, Daddy is nowhere near as good at ballet as Madison is. But I still do some of those dips and so on. Just forget stretching like they do...!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One Eighty View

Daddy had to work all day today, so he missed out on time with Madison, although she didn't seem to mind so much. She spent the day with her grandparents again, and loves them dearly. Baba and she are hitting it off, as she loves to climb on him and he loves to tease her. Meanwhile, Daddy was having a little fun at work too:

I took this amazing picture of the church above, using a new lens on a camera that extends the widescreen almost one hundred and eighty degrees. It's a fun camera to take really wide shots with. For example, a friend took this one from the back seat of a car:

We were going for cheesy in that shot. And, of course, there's goofy photos like the one below.

I'm standing on a chair. Notice the guy sitting on the floor below me. Amazing camera lens, isn't it?

I spent most of the day putting up basketball goals and taking down old ones, not to mention battling ginormous black widow spiders lurking beneath some of them. Yuk! Glad Madison wasn't around to see those things. Daddy really doesn't like them. Really doesn't like them.

The moving process is moving forward still. Daddy met a friend today who agreed to look at the roof tomorrow, and Mommy worked on getting new house insurance. Also, an air conditioning expert is heading over there to check things out: it's another guy we know. We've got a few connections.

Sadly, we don't have as many car connections as we could. Daddy will be picking up his car tomorrow from the dealership, after an unsuccessful attempt to figure out what was making it stall out. This remains... a mystery!

Tomorrow, we have gymnastics class again, but this time Nana and Baba will be coming along to watch. Should be fun. Maybe we'll have time to do some other fun stuff too. We'll see... only two more days until closing...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Olive You

Madison has been eating well lately, that's for sure. She is not a picky eater! Mommy had Chicken Marseilles for us tonight, and dinner was absolutely delicious. Madison can't help but fall prey to the olive game though - that's where you put olives on each of your fingers like so:

I think this is something mandatory for toddlers to do with their olives and their fingers. No one trains you to do this, it just comes natural. Kids in Israel were probably doing this 6,000 years ago. You can hear Adam's voice now: "All right, Seth. That's cute. Now eat them, okay?"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Out with Thomas

Today we got back on track, and headed up to the station in Bryson City, North Carolina. It was there that we met Thomas the Train, who seemed to be in a good mood. Take a look at his photo there, and you can see he's happy to be taking kids and families for a ride up and down the track. We had tickets to this event for the last few months, but had no idea that so much would be happening on this very date. In fact, this morning before making the long drive north, we were officially - once and for all - getting our new house taken care of. On top of that, there were deadlines for print jobs for church, and let's just say it was a hectic morning for all of us.

And then there was the long drive. Bryson City is one of those places that I always seem to underestimate in regards to distance: it took us well over two hours to drive our way up. Fortunately, we had just enough time to arrive at the depot, wolf down our sandwiches that Mommy so carefully packed - and board the train. Here's a group shot of us after climbing aboard Thomas the train.

Madison really, really enjoyed it. When she first got on a carousel some time ago, her face was very serious - but we knew that was because she was intensely enjoying this. Same for when she went horseback riding. And now, the same with her ride on this train: she was so into it. We rode not that far away, and rode really slowly. The ticket said about 25 minutes we'd be gone, and that was that. My guess is that they were wanting more kids to have an opportunity to ride, so they had shorter rides.

But today was an off day - and the temperature was (I'm not making this up) ninety-seven degrees. Fortunately, there was a little breeze in the open car we selected. Boy, I'm glad I selected an open car when we bought these tickets!

We made it as far as an old bridge and stopped there for a while, overlooking the river. It was about a mile and a half away - and then we started to go back. An announcer over the intercom let us know that Sir Topham Hatt was needing Thomas back at the station. So back we rolled towards town. But before then, Madison got an honorary degree in engineering. I guess she's heading to Georgia Tech.

Anyway, after that, we saw a train museum after that, where Madison had a blast pressing buttons and activating large train sets in huge, intricate landscapes. It was all done very nicely, and the older ones (that would be me) really appreciated the very old train toys and lanterns.

Soon after that, we got ourselves some ice cream inside - which Madison gobbled up quickly. Okay, everyone gobbled their ice cream up quickly. Part of this might be because it was so incredibly hot outside. This would explain why we avoided the inflatable bouncy things and other activities: it was simply too hot to do that!

We left shortly after that, ending our day with Thomas - and wouldn't you know it? The sky opened up and the rain poured out all the way home. At least it didn't rain on our day, and at the same time, everything cooled off very nicely for us when we finally arrived at the house.

Madison has simply adored having Baba and Nana here. She was excited the entire drive up - and the entire drive down, playing games with Nana in the backseat. The two had a great time ...while Mommy and Baba took a well-deserved rest.

We'll see how long she lasts now though. After dinner, I'm predicting an early night!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Baba and Nana came today - and got here early this afternoon! Madison was pretty excited about their visit, jumping up and down and spending a lot of time just holding their hands. She really enjoys their visits, and today was certainly no different.

Pretty soon after their arrival, we all hopped in the car to go visit the new house once more. It's getting more and more comfortable - although the temperature was a zillion degrees. There's a heat index for us all today, and it is one of those days you just need to stay inside for the most part.

It was closer to evening though, and Madison and I went outside to the side of the house where we saw a butterfly garden of sorts set up. This was special because I was just wondering about where we could plant a garden to draw butterflies to come. We have one at our current house, where just last week, Madison and I watched large monarch butterflies flutter about from flower to flower.

So we went outside our new home to look about, and there along the side of the house was the exact same plant - and it was simply covered with about seven of these large, yellow butterflies. They were about the size of my hand, and they were beautiful. It was a special moment for Madison and Daddy. We sat there and marveled at God's gift. Soon the butterflies began to flutter about us as well, circling around us before returning to the purple flowers. Madison giggled and called out to our special visitors. It was just one of those nice, unforgettable moments...

Speaking of butterflies, tonight, we're filling out paperwork, and scanning paperwork, and emailing paperwork. All part of the process of getting a new house. Lots of work ahead for us, but it'll be wonderful.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Brush Your Teeth and Stay Safe

Madison brushes her teeth often, especially after watching Mommy or Daddy do it. She even flosses! I think her favorite part may be the spitting, though! Madison is modeling our behavior, which at least in this case is a good thing. She enjoys brushing her teeth - which gives Mommy and Daddy great comfort. After all, the Cavity Creeps are always looking for a way into Toothopolis. If you listen carefully, you can hear their demented war cry: "We make holes in teeth! We make holes in teeth!" But Madison is as good a member of the Crest Force as any, because with several quick swipes of her Cinderella toothbrush, Toothopolis is now saved once again!
Of course, the battle rages on. You have to stay sharp as incisors if you want to keep Toothopolis safe. Those Cavity Creeps are always lurking. Hanging out with them is worse than getting a root canal. I'm sure their favorite hymns are "Holy, Holy, Holy," and "Crown Him with Many Crowns." That's why it is engraved on the Wisdom Tooth on the Eastern Wall of Toothopolis:


Speaking of which, do you know what they give dentists at award ceremonies? A little plaque.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Square One

Mommy called to work today and asked if I'd like to hear some good news.

"That would be something novel this week," I thought, and agreed to hear it.

"We're getting the house," she said.

And just like that, we're moving again. The sellers agreed to lower their price a bit to accommodate all the expenses we'll have to fix it up, and we've agreed to that price. SO, it looks like we're moving after all!

Girl from Impanema


Gymnastics class was fun this morning. All the parents are lined up on the bleachers overlooking their children as they attempt different things. Some parents bring laptops or books or other children - but we don't bring much except a diaper bag. Maybe it's just that it is new, but we love watching Madison try her best with gymnastics. Today was especially rewarding: she did her first unassisted front roll. Daddy can't even do that!

We asked Madison to try it out later on as she was at the house - and she was rolling all over the place like a pill bug!

Afterwards, we went to Toys R Us and splurged a bit on Madison. That helped a lot, actually. We got her a Kai-Lan game, and some more puzzles. These are 25 piece puzzles, and as soon as we got home, we tried them out. Madison picked the pieces up and went to work immediately. She's so fast with puzzles now! We're going to have to up the ante to 60 piece puzzles now!

Meanwhile, we hooked up an old Casio keyboard we've had in the garage. We had stopped at Toys R Us to get a power cable for it, and had luck finding it. Plugging it in was a wonderful experience for Madison: she played with that keyboard for about an hour. I'm not saying she hit any masterpieces - but she did have fun hitting the different tones and notes. This is the sort of keyboard that plays all different kinds of instruments on it. Also, it has pre-programmed music on it as well. For example, we played "Girl From Impanema" one time and decided to head to the kitchen dance floor: swing, swing, swing - turn!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Theme of the Day is...

...bad news.

Fortunately, Madison had a good day. Unfortunately, Daddy and many people he knew today did not. Strange how that works.

It was also strange how - though initially stressful - it didn't phase us as much as I thought it might. Firstly, the car: don't you hate leaving a car dealership, paying a lot of money to have it serviced, only to see it die on the way home? This was a consuming portion of Daddy's day.

Work was a textbook example of a perfect storm of stressful situations, and so the car problems made things somewhat worse.

Finally, the coup de gras. We got the inspector's report on the new house, and... it's a money pit. We backed out. We got a zillion photos of places that need repair, from cosmetic to structural to plumbing to electrical to concrete to ... well, you get the idea. This was disheartening to say the least. Yikes, what a day! Hopefully tomorrow will be more promising. But just like we waited for Madison and everything was perfect, we know that this new house will be perfect as well. We just have to wait on His perfect timing and all will work out. Sometimes you get frustrated in the wait, but when you look back on things, you realize it was all worth the wait in the end and there's no need to get flustered.

Still, we're pretty bummed. Time to watch some "Nanny."

"Between grief and nothing...I'll take grief."
-Ed Rooney

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Escape 2 Africa

We've got one more week in the Pridelands, so Daddy brought home a few of those animal skin wristbands that snap on. Really cheap bracelets, but strangely addictive... You just can't help but like straightening them out, and then slapping them on! These crack Madison up, especially when done over and over again. Who needs a big expensive toy when you have these cheap things you can order from Oriental Trading Company?

Also this week, Daddy has introduced Madison to the characters from the "Madagascar" movies. Tonight's feature was "Madagascar 2," which has some hilarious moments. We sat down in bed and enjoyed some popcorn as we watched Alex, Marty, Melman Gloria and the penguins fly to Africa's pride lands for some fun and adventure. Madison laughed out loud at a few of the scenes from the first movie, most notably when they first wash up onshore. Slapstick stuff tends to get her giggling pretty quickly. This movie had her attention too!

We voted again today. If there's a run-off, there's a possibility we'll be voting for the same guy at least five times in the same year. And, if there's a run-off in November, we'd be voting for the same guy SIX times. How's that for saving money? SIX ELECTIONS in the SAME YEAR!

At least I got my sticker. Which Madison promptly ripped off and stuck on her wrist, nearby that animal bracelet!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Though technically an "off" day, today was a big-time work day for Daddy, who has a few books to get done by Friday's hard deadline. These months zoom by like rough rapids, bumps and all, and soon it will be August where we'll be wondering what happened to July.

Daddy did the grass today while Mommy edged, trimmed and cut everywhere else. It was hard day's work outside, but mainly because Daddy let the grass grow too long. Not that it was some lush, tropical field out there - but it did get sort of thick.

Fortunately, the sun was obscured by the overcast skies, otherwise the blazing heat would have been unforgiving.

Also on today's list: fix the car. Not Daddy, of course. You can put all he knows about cars into a thimble. And then have room leftover for tea. But the one car we have is experiencing electrical problems, which are the worst kind because in Daddy's mind, there is no logic behind them. Of course, any electrician will be happy to point out the obvious - for an appropriate charge. Pun intended.

Today, we took Nana over to the new house to explore. It looked pretty much the same as it has the last few days in a row - but this time it is looking more and more comfortable. Yes, identical. But also yes: it looks like we are really going to be living there!

Daddy took a break from his typing to play a couple games with Madison, first of which was actually pretty fun. With this game, Madison learns colors and matching - and farm animals, of course. It was actually surprisingly easy to learn, although a little guidance for Madison is still needed. But she gets the overall concept of matching things up very well. We enjoyed this one a lot: it was a present from her birthday. Mommy, Daddy and Madison will sit and play this one later as an alternative to Candyland some time.
Also, another game we've enjoyed playing with Madison is a game of Memory, using cards from the older Disney "Alice in Wonderland." With that game, she has to match up images like the one you see on the right here of the White Rabbit. She enjoys this one, and it tests her memory - which is quite surprising. She's shocked Daddy with some correct guesses that he didn't even know! We've done this game a couple times and she enjoys picking each one and the big celebration that follows each correct match. The cards came from a copy of the DVD we bought a couple years ago, which was neat because we almost spent about fifteen dollars to buy a game of memory from Target - when this was with us all along.

Of course, that bill we'll be getting for fixing the car will more than make up for that!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Color in the Lines

Here’s today’s coloring at church, where Madison had to color in the lines. Evidently, she was in the mood for some purple grapes. Trying to communicate this, she colored the broccoli, carrot, cucumber and potato purple. Maybe she's channeling her inner Prince.

Actually she goes through phases with colors. Today was back in her “purple period.” What’s admiral is her coloring in the lines. Sort of. But certainly a great improvement from the past, and definitely when you consider that we weren’t around to tell her to give that a try. On her own, she colored this group of healthy vegetables a nice purple color. Good job!

Madison went with us to service this morning to see the next installment of our Pridelands series, but also spent time with her friends in the nursery area as well. Afterwards, she went with us for a bite to eat. Since Mommy had a coupon for Longhorn’s, we went that way and got ourselves a free appetizer with a friend from church.

We didn’t order much, but it must have been a difficult item to find, because we waited FOREVER to get the food. Fortunately, they stalled with bread – and the free appetizer. Between that, and the pleasant company, we managed to stay cool. Get this: it actually rained hard for a bit and completely dried off before we got outside again. If we didn’t notice it from the window, we’d have never known it had poured rain outside.

Madison colored more things in at Longhorn’s. Daddy was about to let her color in the table and chairs if they didn’t hurry up! But it was a good time had by all.

When we returned home, Madison was singing the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club, so of course we had to plug that in. It’s funny hearing her sing – and hearing her say, “Oh, Toodles!”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacuum Fairies

Daddy got home today from work and much to his surprise, there were fairies all over the vacuum cleaner. This is not standard fairy behavior. From what I understand, fairies are more or less responsible for things like blooming flowers, morning dew and frost on windows. Of course, when Madison gets involved, you never know what a fairy's job is. Today, it evidently was to help Mommy clean the kitchen. There are five fairies on this vacuum cleaner, all in different nooks and crannies, and all apparently ready to help clean up the floors! That's what vacuum fairies do!

Madison was a little tired today, having gotten up early. She's such a sweetie: on the way out the door to work, she gives Daddy the sign for "I love you," and blows a kiss. Today when she visited work with Mommy, she had an absolute blast with my coworkers - as usual. Running, screaming, and jumping - she wore herself out, and was certainly ready for bed a little early tonight.

Before that, we had a quick round of memory. We have these "Alice in Wonderland" memory cards that we place on the table, and Madison knows the drill: find the match. She's getting really good at this game. Serious: she remembers where cards are that Daddy does not! There are times where it's a little uncanny, actually!

Today Daddy tried something out for his own amusement. I took advantage of a current internet fad and visited a website that analyzes your writing and lets you know what author you most write like. I took a sample from this very blog and plugged it into the website. Who is it that I most write like, according to this website?

Elementary, my dear!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Welcome Back to the Tea Room

One year ago today, this blog was set up: July 16, 2009. For every day since, there's been at least one entry placed in an attempt to record all the things that Madison has done, and all the times we have shared with her.

Naturally, we can't capture every little detail. But with written word, we can capture a lot more than our memories can contain. This was set up as narrative about Madison's life, and a posting to let others know what she's up to as we go about on our journey with her. But all along we also know this blog is a love letter to our beautiful daughter, to remind her how much we love her. She'll read it later on, and see the happy times we shared together, many days of which will barely sit on the edge of her memory.

It's been an amazing year, just as incredible as the one before. And just like that, two years have flown by: over seven hundred and forty-five days, each one gliding by on our adventure with Madison. So much has happened, and I'm glad I've made certain to continue my entries for each day. I don't want to miss a moment - and at the same time, this blog challenges us to make every single day the most it can be with our daughter.

So thanks for joining us in the Tea Room. The next year promises amazing surprises, starting with a change in location and a thrilling vacation.

But the biggest adventure with Madison always starts ...on the very next day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Trampoline Trotting

Today started early, as we headed off to gymnastics class once more. Madison tackled the balance beam, trampoline exercises and even the uneven bars - handling each one like a pro!

Okay, so maybe not yet. But she did handle herself rather well with the group, and had a great time as well. She did well on the balance beam, and was good at hanging on the bars. The trampoline is pretty funny, as she tends to trot across it, rather than keep her legs together in little hops. She does tuck and roll nicely, and I think she'll have that all figured out pretty quickly, with a little continued guidance. The ladies at Metro Gymnastics are very good with children, and we were all laughing a lot at a few of the kids' attempts, both successful and not-so-Olympian.

Afterwards, we went home so Daddy could do a bit of work. Actually, he went out to make sure Madison was on the family's dental insurance because we have a family appointment next month where we'll really take a look at Madison's teeth. That'll be interesting - you'll have to read about it here!

It was exciting news today to see about the oil leak finally stopping. We're praying this fix is permanent, because this disaster is beyond words.

After doing some chores about town, Daddy came back in time for the whole family to take a little nap. Yes, another nap. BUT, we all got up earlier than usual this morning, and not just because of the gymnastics class. It was just one of those "get up early" sort of days that we all have from time to time.

So we slept a bit, and then afterwards Ye-Ye came over for dinner. It was a Mexican feast, so Daddy and Madison put on sombreros and popped in a Herb Alpert CD, as Ye-Ye came over for dinner. Nana, Aunt Shain and Madison's cousins are all in Florida exploring the Everglades and the beaches, so Ye-Ye has been on his own this week, taking care of the bees. We invited him over for dinner, and then over to see the new house.

It looks pretty much the same! Only darker, because it was later. But it's still a big house, and Ye-Ye seemed to like it. He pointed out some places we'll need to address, where gutters needed adjusting and where the concrete needed help. But overall, the reparations are minor. The big thing he noted was that this house was so big, the energy bill we're accustomed to paying will most certainly be larger.

But the good clearly outweighs any negatives. For example, the pool is great - and we can just see ourselves relaxing on that back deck, overlooking the trees on a cool summer's eve like tonight was. Madison loves the house, running this way and that. She can take someone on the tour now, actually, just like a real estate agent.

"This way!" she calls out, and runs upstairs. Maybe she knows her room is up there...?

We got home and had some delicious pecan pie that Mommy made, and some of the Kona coffee that she ordered for Daddy for our anniversary. It was a nice evening, but Daddy needs to focus on getting back to work here on our upcoming series. "School Days" is what we're calling it... can you believe school will be starting up again soon?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It was March 29th when we first checked out an interesting house in Forsyth County, and since then we've been watching it, visiting occasionally. It has a really unique interior, and quite a lot of space as well. Mommy and Daddy immediately loved it, and Madison ran around smiling each time she's visited, so the question has been posed: is this the one?

Today that question was finally answered. After months on the market, the house became reduced in price to such a point where we decided to go for it. They've accepted our offer, and just like that, we're buying a new house.

Wow, this is big. One moment, we're talking about gymnastics classes and a new series at church - and the next we're planning out all the things you'd expect from a big move. The move makes a lot of sense, starting with the kitchen area that Mommy really likes.

But beyond that, there's the numerous windows and space. Yes, there is a whole lot of room in this house.

It seems like too much to fill up, and I don't want to fill it all up either. Especially downstairs, where it is still unfinished: there is a lot of room down there, and a lot of work to be done too. In fact, there's a lot of work to be done in other areas, from pressure washing the exterior to finishing the deck area outside. It isn't that bad, so we should be done with that rather quickly. We simply love the space to move around in within this house, and of course Madison loves it to run around in it too. Everyone loves the windows too. There are a lot of windows in this place, especially the big ones in the living room area. The living room is a nice big space - also called a "great room," connected to the kitchen, and directly underneath a small bridge that joins the upstairs rooms in a really creative way. It is pretty amazing, actually.
Take a look! It's really different in design, much like our current house - but certainly larger. The bathroom has a bigger tub, and we won't be tripping over each other in the mornings, as we'll have our own sinks. Madison will have plenty of room as well, with a few bathrooms to choose from! The colors on most of the rooms are nice, although we might be changing the "fishing room" a bit more quickly. More info on that later. It's a room with a fishing border along the top of the walls, and darker colors inside. This is going to be her playroom, and I'm not entirely sure if that motif will work. We'll probably paint it pink or lavender, that is, unless she starts really getting into some serious fishing!

The back yard is big too - here Madison is sitting on the back steps that lead downward. This photo was taken last March when it was chilly. These steps lead up to the back deck, which is also pretty big. In fact, it's about twice as big as our current deck - maybe more. Another plus is the community pool. It is really, really nice. Everything is painted there in a creative way, and it looks like a fun place for kids like Madison. Just think of it: next month, Madison will be swimming there! It is crazy how fast all this happens sometimes.

Anyway, today is one of those red letter days. It's been nine years since we've moved into this house here that I type from today. We'll have time to reflect on that, and the new move in future posts. Lots to do, arrange, sign, and move. Lots of closets to fill!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Counting Zebras

Today was a work day for Daddy, but Madison still had a good time at home with Mommy, helping out around the house. Madison is still enormously helpful with Mommy, a generous and helpful spirit when it comes to household chores. She'll help unload the dishwasher, and knows where everything goes. Unlike Daddy sometimes. She'll also help with the laundry, although Mommy prefers that task be done alone - sometimes Madison can be a bit too helpful if you know what I mean.

Daddy got home in time for dinner, and together we had a great big spaghetti dinner, meatballs and all! Madison poured the cheese on for each of us, just like a professional waitress. She asked us to say "when," and at that moment, she'd stop pouring out the cheese. Such a good waitress deserves a good tip, so there was ice cream for dessert!

Today's book was one we picked up at the library. In honor of our African theme this month, we picked up a few books with African legends, or books about animals you'd find on safari. For example, there's the book "We All Went on Safari," which follows some kids through Tanzania (as the book title shows), where they encounter wildebeest, zebras, hippos, giraffes and more. Together, Madison and I count the animals on each page. How many zebras are there? How many warthogs? How many lions? Each page reveals more and more. The artwork is nice, and the book works on multiple levels, as we learn about counting and we learn about the kinds of creatures you'd encounter in Tanzania.

After reading, it was time for bed once more. I suppose instead of counting sheep, tonight she was counting zebras!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bouncing Back

The thunder was rumbling today again, but there wasn't much in the way of actual rainfall for us. Still, the overcast conditions helped cool things down a bit to a brisk eighty five degrees or so. It's amazing what you perceive as "cool" after enduring triple digit weather!

Today we returned to Monkey Joe's for a time to let Madison run off some steam for a few hours. It's the perfect indoor location for that sort of thing. When we purchased Madison's birthday party package, we got five more free visits, so we used one of our entries today. The funny thing was that we wound up getting another free visit to compensate for one of the inflatables collapsing! I think one of the kids pulled a plug on it or something. Madison wasn't inside it, but the management was there in a flash and dealt with the situation as professionally as they could. On top of that, we got a free "bounce back" pass, which we might be using next Monday...

Afterwards, we went to Dairy Queen again to get what is now probably Madison's favorite word: "ice cream!" Mommy had a free coupon for a vanilla ice cream, which Madison promptly swallowed whole. We keep telling her, "slow down!" To help emphasize why, we grab our foreheads and act in pain - but sure enough, Madison gets a brain freeze and presses her forehead on Daddy's chest until it goes away. Fortunately, this doesn't happen that often!

Next, we did some shopping at Best Buy for a new printer. Mommy would like to print out coupons and such from here, and Daddy will have to hook up this new printer soon so we can accomplish that. In the meantime, Madison had fun picking up all the pamphlets and leafing through them. Here I imagined that secretly, she's absorbing all the information about Cannon printers and HP printers that she can, so that she can share the new information with her friends at church. But really, she just wanted to whack Daddy on the head with them.

We were up late last night, so we were up late this morning - and all tired early tonight as well. In fact, Madison was quite ready for bed at 7:45 or so and is already asleep at 8:15. I just snuck in there and snapped a photo of her sleeping. I didn't use the flash for fear of waking her up, so I had to keep perfectly still to allow more light into the camera's exposure. Note: that is Alice that is sleeping beside her, face down.

Isn't she cute? We are so blessed! Sweet dreams, our precious little angel.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bwana Asifiwe!

Today was our third service of our Pridelands series, and to really get Madison into the whole theme, we purchased for her an outfit that looked really good on her! Check her out sitting on Daddy's knee, next to the ostrich in the front.

She loves that ostrich! When Madison woke up this morning, she was excited about dressing up. Daddy used that as a little bribe to get her to go to bed earlier last night: "You get to wear your new outfit tomorrow, and the sooner you go to bed, the sooner you get to wear it!"

She fit right in with everyone else today, especially Mrs. Jeneen, who is the co-host for our series. Both she and Daddy share a story in rhyme about the animals on the Pridelands. We even added a rhino this weekend, with Mommy working hard to get it done on time. She did a a great job, making this costume from paper-mâché and a bicycle helmet. Ricke the rhino is in the photo at the top.

Madison has been learning about Africa through all of this - it's a word she can recognize and use. She also uses the phrase "The Lion King" frequently, but she can also identify lots of different animals that you'd see on a safari. It's neat how she's learning so much along the way. In fact, thanks to the younger children's department, she's even learning phrases and memory verses (translated for toddlers, of course!).

It was a special day - but it was far from over. What can we do on a hot day like today, we wondered. Mommy suggested checking out the drive in movie up in Tiger, Georgia. After a bit of research, Daddy discovered they had replaced their current movie "Eclipse" at the last minute for "Toy Story 3." So we decided today would be a great day for a drive in movie!

Better take a good, long nap first! After all, the movie starts at dusk, which is somewhere after nine o'clock. So we all hopped in the big bed and took a really long nap in the cool and dark of the bedroom, waking up around 5:00 or so. Ah, just enough time to go up and see the goats!

What does it mean "to see the goats?" Well, right there nearby the drive in is a place called "Goats on a Roof." Daddy looked it up online to see if they were open, and sure enough: they said they were open until 7:00. We got dressed and packed things up, and started our drive north. It's about an hour away.

But when we arrived, the employees there wanted to close early. No shopping inside. Which was a shame, because we were going to get ice cream and other things inside. What's worse was that there were about fifteen other people in four or five more cars, all dropping by to shop. But nobody could, because the employees wanted to close earlier than the posted hours because they wanted to go home. Serious: we left a few hours earlier, just to visit this place. That really got my goat!

At least Madison got to feed some of the goats. They have these hand cranks that turn, attached to conveyor belts which deliver upwards these cans of food for the goats. Daddy brought along some quarters and Madison was delighted to send them their final meal of the day.

With all the time we had leftover - the movie started at dusk which was about two hours away - we decided to go to Wal-mart, which was a good idea, because Mommy found some items she had been looking for having to do with our next monthly series. We also packed up on lots of candy for the movie! Twizzlers and Good 'n Plentys!

Finally, we went to Tiger Drive In, about an hour before the movie started. There was a small play set down in front of the big movie screen, with swings and slides, so Daddy and Madison went down there to have some fun with the slides. There weren't many cars parked at the drive in to begin with, but as it got closer, it started to fill up! All the while, Madison and Daddy played on the slides - and then went up to the snack bar to get some popcorn, fries and a really tasty corn dog!

The movie started, and the lot was full. It was a good decision for them to play this movie, because a lot of people came (some of us from over fifty miles away!). Madison had brought along a Buzz Lightyear action figure that Ye-Ye had given her for the occasion. He lights up and says phrases about finding Emperor Zurg. She had Buzz in his seatbelt for safety reasons, all the way up to the the drive in. Afterwards, she released him, and the two watched the movie from the backseat, occasionally sticking her head out the side window and calling out things. The weather was perfect for a night movie. Together, the family sat and munched on snacks while watching the movie again. Madison stayed awake for the whole experience - what a wonderful idea!

As soon as the movie was over, it was time to head home. We were all rather tired from a huge day, despite the big nap. Mommy and Madison slept on the way home, as Daddy drove on smiling because of the special day it was.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Remembering our honeymoon ten years ago, Daddy has set in his mind to getting all those negatives from that trip converted to digital files - that's about fifteen rolls of film. I've misplaced about three, but in the meantime, here are just a few photos from an unforgettable journey - almost as fantastic as our trip to China!

Okay, I'll have to admit - this one was a bit more relaxing. A lot more relaxing. But that's the idea. Look at Mommy here - I love this photo. We stayed on Maui. In fact, the beach you see in the photo above is just downstairs from our hotel room. We walked down and walked along the south shore in Kihei, and listened to the water gently roll up on shore each night. We'd watch the moon rise over the ocean - it was simply the best place to stay in Hawaii, to be honest. We've been there twice, and are convinced! The photo of Mommy there is from a day trip where we drove to Hana, a beautiful journey along the Maui coast along the shoreline. Beautiful day!

We stayed there for a few weeks, and every day was a perfect one. It was the sort of trip where we could feel God's favor, and everyone's prayers all the way from start to finish. Very much like our trip to China! We stayed on Maui, but flew to the other islands as well.

Here is a photo of us on Kauai, standing in front of Waimea Canyon, one of the most surprisingly beautiful places I've ever seen. It's called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and pictures simply don't do it justice. We also saw the Na Pali Coastline, and were simply awestruck at God's artistry!

We also traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii and saw the volcanoes there as well, though our most incredible volcano moment was on Maui, on top of Haleakala. We drove up the 10,000 feet from sea level and timed it just right so we could see the sun rise, one of the most amazing sights anyone could ever see. The sun rose over a sea of clouds, brilliance in oranges and reds over a billowy landscape of puffy clouds that stretched on seemingly forever. It was indescribably beautiful. And cold! We are so glad we brought out blankets from our place at the beach - can you believe this was July in Hawaii?

We also went horseback riding in Maui's upcountry, high up and overlooking the coastline. We did so much on this trip - like I said, God's favor was with us so much. We rode a train along the coastline, saw Lahaina, saw the south coastline of Kauai, visited the Maui Ocean Center, went snorkeling at Molokini, rode in a submarine, saw "Ulalena," went to a great church, saw the petroglyphs at Maui, had a remarkable day along Io Valley - and much, much more. We ate at Bubba Gump's, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and of course went to a luau!

Here she is, the love of my life, at the luau we attended. It was an amazing honeymoon, so wonderful and special. Staying at the Polynesian won't be even close to the experience we shared ten years ago, but at least it will help bring back warm memories of a most special time in our lives.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Double Rainbow - All the Way!

Madison was recently inspired by the recent internet "Double Rainbow" phenomena that she had to create her own version on paper, using red, yellow and green crayons. She started this piece at PF Chang's yesterday, and has been adding to it this morning. Seriously: we saw this picture she's been doing and just about fell down. Daddy couldn't help himself - he started singing:

It's a double rainbow all the way.

What does this mean? It's so bright, it's so vivid.

It's starting to look like a triple rainbow! That's a whole rainbow, yeah!

Double rainbow all the way, across the sky. Look at that rainbow!

We can't even capture it on our camera.

It's so intense!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ten Year Anniversary

Ten years ago, Mommy and Daddy were married - today was our ten year anniversary. And though today is the official date, we'll be celebrating it "officially" when we go to the Polynesian Resort in a few months. You see, our honeymoon was in Hawaii, and what better place nearby than the Polynesian. It's been a dream of mine to visit that resort, and this is the perfect occasion and reason to go there.

In the meantime, Mommy had a wonderful basket for Daddy - filled with items from Hawaii. It had chocolates, coffee, and a Duke Kahanamoku t-shirt, and also a Disney Hawaiian shirt too. It was a perfect reminder of the wonderful time we had ten years ago this week. Daddy is converting all the negatives he can find from that trip into digital files, so look forward to seeing some of those pop up here or there on this blog.

Until then, today started out early - Madison was so excited to go to her first gymnastics class!

Here she is doing one of her exercises on the bars. She bounces on the trampoline, does rolls and walks on balance beams - she had a great time this morning in her first class. From this point on, we'll be joining her for classes every Thursday. I can't say this enough: Madison loved it!

Afterwards, we went to PF Chang's for lunch, but not before spending some time at Goodwill. What did you do for your ten year anniversary? We went to Goodwill! The meal at PF Chang's was delicious as usual, and the three of us scarfed everything down, filling up for pretty much the rest of the day.

Later on, we went back to the library. It was one of those days that you wanted to be inside as much as possible. At times, our car temperature gauge was reading over 100 degrees! We're having a heat wave all over the East Coast, actually - but it's the middle of July: whaddya expect?

Anyway, we went to the library and Madison knew just what to do. She was so cute grabbing a few books and sitting down on the kids' furniture to read each one. She picked one to take home with us, and Daddy picked some kids' music to take home as well, along with a few books to get future ideas from.

When we got home, Mommy soaked in the tub while Madison watched another Barbie movie. This one was "The Princess and the Pauper," which featured Martin Short in a fun role. When Madison went to bed, we can safely say she had a very full day.

We ended our first ten years of marriage by sitting in bed watching "The Nanny" until we started to drift off to sleep. At the moment, Mommy is sleeping in bed peacefully, and Daddy is sitting here thinking about how blessed and grateful he is to have a wife like her.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paint the Town Red

The color of the day was red - a word Mommy helped Madison learn easily today with red paint and lots of blank sheets of paper on an easel. For a time, it was nice to go outside on the deck in the shade and paint. You can see here that Madison has clearly left her blue period, preferring the rich textures of her red paints. Each stroke is vibrant! The artist within screams to express!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

J is for Jesus

Madison has her latest coloring achievement hanging on the refrigerator - she got it from church, and colored it in there as well. All of her latest works go on the refrigerator, of course. It is the letter "J," which stands for Jesus. Madison has been getting better identifying letters and numbers: tonight as we were reading one of her counting books, she was counting with Daddy to 10, which is a big deal!

Speaking of "big deals," Madison and Daddy were treated by Mommy to a fantastic dessert: ice cream! She must really love us!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day Off

Today we took a well-deserved break from pretty much everything. At first, there were thoughts about taking a little drive somewhere - but even that proved to be just a bit too much. We were tired, and never really left the house at all today, except to say hi to Ye-Ye and Nana next door on one occasion.

We did spend a lot of time cleaning up inside the house. With all the other work going on, sometimes the house gets neglected. Even this computer gets neglected, in fact, which is why Daddy used the in-between breaks to start moving a lot of old photos off the computer and on to CDs. You just never know if a computer will break down, and it would be a real shame to lose all the photos of Madison on this one. We haven't created a back-up for her photos since the last week of October, so you know we're really behind!

Madison spent the day playing with her toys, or occasionally wrestling with Daddy. He's ashamed to admit this, but his back is really bothering him this week and he might have to head to the chiropractor or something. It might have been from wrestling - I don't know.

Mommy prepared a marvelous feast for us today, one that we ate out on the back deck. Daddy grilled teriyaki sticks that Mommy created, and these were unbelievably good. We had some corn on the cob, potato salad and watermelon - the perfect ingredients for a great Fourth of July weekend. Madison enjoyed the corn, no doubt. She was on her third piece when Mommy had to throw out the stop sign!
We read books again tonight, as has been our custom. One of Madison's favorites is a book called "I Know a Rhino," which shows a young girl getting to play with a bunch of animals you'd typically only see on safari, from a giraffe to a leopard to a hippo. Of course, you know it is really all in her imagination, and each animal is represented in a picture on the last page that shows a lot of stuffed animals in bed with her. Madison has liked this book for months, and so does Daddy, as it rhymes - and it also teaches all sorts of different sorts of creatures. And it's fun, just as the cover shows. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a rhino over for tea? Really?

We've been trying to read more, and encouraging her to use her Tag Junior system more. Today she pulled out those books again, starting with her Kai-Lan booklet that I recently downloaded. While Madison read, so did Mommy - the two were out there on the deck this morning reading together in the cooler morning air.

It was a restful day today for all of us. Madison was up early again. It's probably her fifth morning in a row getting up a little after 7:00. She's starting to go to bed earlier too, and falling asleep with no problems.

Tonight, we'll probably be doing that ourselves.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Madison came with us to our new series "The Pridelands," which started today and was a wonderful success. Mommy once again worked very hard on costumes - take a look at the ones to your left here. The costumes were the whole reason for doing this series, as we found quite a few leftover costumes that you'll see below from another church special event. They hadn't been used, so we thought we'd make the best of the investment and create a series taking place in Tanzania, with flavors of "The Lion King."

Daddy wrote things out in rhyme, so that the two characters you see above would tell a story that takes place in the Pridelands, where all sorts of animals live, like zebras, gazelles, wildebeest, hippos, monkeys, elephants, ostriches, and of course a lion. The zebras and gazelles were actors from girls' dance team, and were really good.

Gazelles dance ‘cross the land as they were made to

Zebras zip about, whinny and neigh!

The ostrich cranes her neck at the remarkable view

As the slow turtle there makes his own way.

The ostrich and elephant costumes are more elaborate, and the kids were really excited when all the animals began to march out onto the stage. We had music playing that Daddy bought at the Animal Kingdom recently, as everyone acted out the story of "The Lion and the Mouse." In today's message, we learned three phrases in Swahili - "hakuna matata," "harambe," and "rafiki." Each mean something that we tied to the Bible in a unique way for a really different sort of message. It was definitely a lot of fun for us, and the audience really responded too.

Madison saw our presentation at 11:00 today, and enjoyed just as much. She keeps saying "The Lion King!" She also sat and listened to the message delivered at the end of the service, pulling out her little book and taking notes. Of course, her notes were a little different looking from everyone else's. But she was still attentive, and enjoyed watching the service today.

Of course, today is the Fourth of July. Two years ago, we celebrated in China. Today we didn't get to do much in regards of "celebrating," outside of eat watermelon. Last night, we heard plenty of fireworks out on the lake - and expect as much tonight as well. No fireworks here though: not probably the best idea with Madison around!

Before then, we're watching "Lilo & Stitch 2" with Madison and eating popcorn again. Madison is enjoying the movie, and we're sitting about thinking about our next Disney vacation where we'll find Stitch again - at the Polynesian Resort! THEN, we'll get to see fireworks... from the beach there!