Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ballerinas Stay Dry

We've been looking into ballerina classes for Madison and noted that kids being potty trained was strongly encouraged.

Uh-oh! Madison had better work on that. The potty watch and the tinkle dots seem to help, but we still haven't completely graduated from Potty School yet.

SO, one of our most frequent recent quotes to Madison is this: "Ballerinas stay dry." *

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Tonight was a fun night at dinner time. Daddy plugged in some of our new records from Great Grandma, including the Chipmunks. Mommy recognized one of the records while it was playing, which was fun. Madison was wanting to hear the record, especially after seeing the album covers. Daddy is wanting to get a new turntable for some of these records, just for the novelty of it, or in some cases just to reminisce about a great time in history.
We have plenty of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Dean Martin on CDs, and the quality is crisp and dynamic. But there's something about putting on a record that's just a unique experience. Tonight, while eating the tasty spaghetti that Mommy made for us, Daddy found one of the Dean Martin albums and put it on for dinner music. It was funny, because at one point I had to get up and go to the living room in order to turn the record over. Still, it was worth it. Like I said, it is a unique experience having a turntable and listening to old records. In fact, there are some recordings that never made it to tape or CD. Some things may only be on record right now, so it is the only way to listen to it!

Madison saw the records playing and sees how they work, spinning around. She enjoyed the Chipmunks, and enjoyed dinner with Mommy and Daddy as we all sat around and listened to Dino.

I'm not talking about "Dino" from "The Flintstones!"

___________________________________

*I'm sure Mikhail Baryshnikov's parents used a similar argument when he was a toddler.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Merry Chase

Today, Madison, Mommy and Daddy went up to visit Great Grandma for dinner, which was actually a very nice visit. We brought along some Chinese food and had a good meal together, talking about all sorts of things, from old records to chasing angels.

The records in question were part of her collection that she recently let us have, which include artists such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Bing Crosby. But four records in particular are by the Chipmunks - these are the classics! The artwork on all of these records is fantastic, taking you back to another time.

The angels are a reference to the ones that have been assigned to her, ones that she has led on a "merry chase" all her life. Taking care of her from birth, she said, must have been a tough assignment! She even showed us an angel feather she found sticking out of the carpet inside her house, one carefully preserved.

Today was the day our new television was put up in the new house. Our very good friend Daniel Carter came over as a service to us and installed it on the wall, just above the fireplace. Ceremoniously, we plugged in our first movie - which was the first DVD Daddy found in a box nearby: "Beautician and the Beast." We've been watching a lot of "The Nanny," lately - so why not? By the way, we have finished all the episodes from that television show now...what are we to try next? I think we'll go back to "Wild, Wild West" or something. We still have season three to go on that one.

ANYWAY, the television is gorgeous. Such a normal, unremastered DVD on this television looks so brilliantly crisp and almost liquid. Who needs one of those 3D television sets when you have a television like this? It is a 55" LED Samsung, and like the rest of the rest of the house, we are blessed beyond belief to have it. I can't wait to watch some of our favorite seasonal movies on it!

Back to dinner with Great Grandma: it was very nice. Madison was quite generous with her hugs and kisses, which made the occasion so much sweeter. There were long hugs and warm smiles - and the time flew by rather quickly.

We did get to see the "Sonic Sinkhole," by the way. We were up in Cleveland, so we figured "why not go check it out?" A large canyon simply opened up and swallowed the front portion of the restaurant and a couple parking lots. Pretty impressive, though it is not technically a sinkhole.

Madison had a great time in Cleveland today. She was very sweet with her great grandmother, giving frequent and unsolicited hugs. It was very nice to see.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

School Days Mascot

Today was our final Sunday of the "School Days" series at church, and it was a great wrap-up service for the kids. Madison was a hit, of course, with cameo appearances in all the services during a brief commercial here or there (all four can be found on this blog somewhere). We didn't just have one mascot for this series, but rather five separate mascots: the one posted here is the one Madison keeps pointing at when she sees her on Daddy's t-shirt, or at church, or on the computers. Madison will say, "That's me!" Or, she's "from China!"

For the record, Madison does not have a purple streak in her hair.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Couch Trip

Our living room has lost two old friends: two large pieces of furniture that have rested there since 2001. Another family was in need of a sofa with a fold-out bed, and an easy chair too - so we've donated our furniture to them. We'll have new furniture in the new house. In fact, it'll be delivered before the second Saturday in September.

Meanwhile, the living room looks like such a foreign landscape now. It is a large, empty room that Madison and Daddy go around in circles in, usually with Madison on Daddy's back.

Mommy spent some time at the new house, painting the laundry room a nice new color - she's almost done in there. Daddy has to hurry up if he's going to finish painting that garage.

Recently, Daddy has been bringing over toys and such to the new house. Now Madison has lots to do when she goes over with us. From one big empty living room to the next, she spreads her toys out across the floor and sets up shop.

Funny, one of the toys is this huge house she got for Christmas. It was donated to us, actually, and it's interesting how "prophetic" this gift was. I had no idea we'd be getting a larger version of that toy ourselves this year!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jubilee


MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Madison has looked at her first superhero comic book. Actually, this wasn't a comic book - it's one of those "Look and Find" books somewhat like a "Where's Waldo?" In this particular book, the reader is challenged to sift through all the stuff on each two-page spread in order to try and find various objects and heroes. Madison enjoys these types of books, and in fact is pretty good at them. Once she's discovered a location, she'll know that location until the next time. This is why this particular book is pretty good: it features a lot of things to look for. Plus, it features some of Daddy's favorite heroes in it too.

Daddy has a billion comics from "back in the day." Okay, maybe not billions. But four very large tubs filled with comics - and good ones, too. During the 90's, Daddy collected comics rather heavily, and in fact was very good about keeping track and keeping care of them. Currently, they are in the basement, each in a sleeve, and all of them in plastic tubs to protect them from the environment.

For Daddy, it all started in a comic shop somewhere outside of Denver. I was on a road trip out to Colorado with a buddy, and he wanted to drop by a comic book shop there. I joined him, and started getting into the comic "Wolverine."

I was so into comics that when I met Mommy in the 90's, I seriously entertained the idea of naming our first daughter "Jubilee." I've always liked that name, and in comics, this is an Asian "mall rat," who discovers the X-Men while hanging out in a local mall. She has Chinese heritage, but Daddy never really considered that when thinking of a name for a daughter - he had no idea he'd someday be going to China to meet his future daughter. Eventually, the name "Madison" began to float back and forth between Mommy and I. In time, it became the number one choice for a name, over "Jubilee" and even over another early candidate "Juniper," which Mommy and Daddy both like.

Daddy stopped collecting comics when he met Mommy. It wasn't that she made him, or even that he had to give it up. There was a natural conclusion to a story arc, and I just felt it was time to stop. It has potential to get carried away, and even addicting - but I had an easy time of it. From time to time, I'll peek back at what is going on currently with all the characters. Most of the time, I'm disappointed - and glad I stopped collecting. I'm not sure what era they'll call the 90's, when it comes to comics. It wasn't "golden" or even "silver." But it sure was a great time to collect them. Makes me want to go back and pick up a few to read!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hard to Swallow

Today, we returned to the dentist's office for Madison's full exam - and it didn't go exactly as planned. In fact, there's an "area of concern" on one of Madison's molars, which happens to be the last tooth way back there. "Area of concern" means that she'll have to have something done with it, probably in about six months or so, and definitely at a different dentist's office.

This new pediatric dentist trip is one that I am supremely not looking forward to, for a host of reasons. For one, Madison is oblivious. She loved the dentist visit today, opening her mouth perfectly and even laughing at the little suction thing they stick in her mouth from time to time. What a fun place the dentist's office is!

Just wait until we tell her in six months or so. Not good!

Other than this bad news, the trip was a good success. Mommy and Daddy were given another "all clear" for the next six months, and even purchased a few "teeth whitening kits," which we'll probably be trying out, starting tonight. Madison got something as well: a new toothbrush and a toy from the toy chest. She picked out a toy cell phone, so she could fit in with all the other people at lunch time at California Pizza.

Yes, we went back to California Pizza. Madison eats very well when she's there, and today was no different. It was a nice meal, and it was even ten percent off, because we managed to bring back a little coupon.

Next, we drove the car back to the place where we picked up the new television set a few weeks ago - and bought ourselves a new refrigerator. It's actually one that Mommy is quite excited about. I'll take pictures.

While Mommy was shopping for refrigerators, Daddy and Madison were back in the television area, once again waiting for predatory salespeople to stalk us less than subtly from two rows away. You can see their heads occasionally popping up over the appliances, like those large carnivorous cats peeking their eyes over the tall grass of the Serengeti. Daddy had to get new cables for the new television set, so he had to do some shopping. In the "old days," a cable was a cable. Here, cables with all the same function and length range in price anywhere between $10 and $150. It's all about quality, and evidently you don't want one of those sorry $10 cables. I think I got something somewhere in between.

Anyway, we got home and did some yard work. Daddy carried a big load of boxes over to the new house, and Madison helped Mommy cut back the butterfly bush. This thing is planted nearby the septic tank, and therefore will grow until it reaches prehistoric sizes. If unchecked, it swallow up the neighborhood.

At least that is better than getting swallowed up by a sinkhole. Take a look at this:


Just up the road from us in Cleveland, the large amount of rain we've been recently getting caused a "sinkhole" that "ate up" part of a Sonic Restaurant. The "sinkhole" must have liked the tater tots.

Anyway, as you can see, this was a front page story on Yahoo, which as a news source is as unbiased and reliable a news source as your standard supermarket tabloid. But still, when something that local hits the national scene, I suppose I should point it out. We used to drive from Helen on our lunch breaks and eat at that Sonic. I'd get the ocean water slushy, which typically left my mouth so blue, I looked like a cast member from "Avatar."

I'm only thinking of this now... but wouldn't it be fun to drink a huge ocean water slushy just before going to the dentist?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Future Has Arrived


Okay, you're probably wondering what's up with the pictures above. These are photographs taken on the inside of the ride "Spaceship Earth" at EPCOT. It was recently renovated, so I'm not sure if this part is still in the ride - which is funny because I just rode it with Madison a few months ago. I do know this: it was there in 1982 when I first went on the ride with my family.

What's going on is this: a guy is sitting at his television, teleconferencing with this other girl in Japan. You pass by the girl and the guy, and see them from each other's perspective, and you think to yourself, "Wow, that's really futuristic! Wouldn't that be cool if you could really do that?" Seriously: talking on a television screen just like it was a telephone? Believe me: in 1982, that was pretty futuristic.

So tonight Daddy said goodnight to Madison on Skype. For those of you not familiar with what that is, this is a fairly recent internet service that allows you to do exactly what I described above. The future has arrived today, at least for this house. I don't know what took me so long to sign up for this, but it was just like I had a flashback to 1982. There I was at work, talking to Madison at home. I was showing her all the books someone had donated to her - and I could see her expression on the computer screen. We were talking to each other while miles apart, and I was making her giggle. Mommy and Madison said, "I love you," and we all made that little hand gesture to express as much. It was a really sweet moment, and a neat thrill.


I know the service has been around a few years, but for some reason I hadn't tried it out yet. Now I think it'll be the perfect way to say goodnight to my little girl when I have to work a little late. Also, we'll probably be using it to talk to some of the relatives in England now, which is going to be pretty cool. We'll be talking to someone all the way across the ocean - it'll be just like that ride in 1982!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"I Love You"

How nice to be on the way out the door and have your four-year-old daughter tell you, "I love you." We get this nearly all the time now, which is just about as precious as it sounds. Madison makes sure she gets a kiss goodbye and then she makes the hand gesture for "I love you," making sure she says it loud enough that you can hear it. Those are the moments right there that make up for a lot of the hurt in this world. You just sort of phase all that away and realize how wonderful it is to have a little girl.

She even tells it to me over the phone when at work. Daddy gets a call, and Mommy passes the phone over to Madison so she can talk. Of course, everyone in the office is looking to Daddy now, knowing he's on the phone with Madison. She starts talking, and Daddy tries to understand as much as he can. But "I love you" is really easy to hear.

I love you too, sweetheart!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Holy Grill

Mommy and Daddy had a date night tonight, going out to see "Nanny McPhee Returns," and doing a little shopping for a new grill. No, I'm not talking about teeth - I'm talking about a grill to cook on outdoors.

Evidently, all these years we've been using a girly-man grill. I mean, it's okay. It does the job and can fit roughly fifteen hamburger patties or so. But after a trip out shopping for different grills, I've discovered that the grill I need can handle twenty-seven patties, has several random drawers for putting things in, has a side grill for boiling water or something, can be used as a wood chipper, and accelerates to the speed of seventy-miles an hour.


Actually, I don't really need any of that - what I've been using is just fine, in fact. It's just that those other grills are pretty cheap all of the sudden, being the end of the season. And, they look so cool. They're like the sports cars of outdoor grills! I'll be sure to post a picture of the grill we purchase here soon - I'll put Madison in the picture to make it relevant!

You may be wondering what Madison did tonight as we were shopping for the holy grill. She spent the night with Ye-Ye and Nana, watching "Tinkerbell" and doing crafts that Nana spent time setting up. Madison has such a good time over there. You just mention their names to her, and she starts getting ready, suddenly impatient to get out the door!

Earlier today, Daddy made several trips moving things from Point A to Point B. Point A being our current house, and Point B being the new house. Meanwhile, Madison was doing her ballerina lessons, and playing with her latest thing of interest: a blue ribbon. We're not talking the kind of ribbon you win. This is just a strip of fabric that has suddenly fascinated her. She must carry it with her always, like Linus does with his blanket.

She did go out with us for a bit - we went to Lowe's (early grill shopping, paint for the garage, light fixture for the staircase) and then to Target (more grill shopping). But we got seriously sidetracked at Target when Mommy noticed some clothing that she thought Madison would look cute in. Madison got sidetracked too. The two were so excited! I pulled Madison out of the shopping cart and she hopped around those clothes, trying on whatever she could and even picking out some things. As a reminder, she's four.

Yesterday, we had a nice moment as we went out shopping once more. Mommy got a dehumidifier for the basement at Sears at our local mall, so Daddy took Madison to the best ride for your money in Hall County, and possibly beyond: the Lakeshore Mall carousel. Yes, it's still just a dollar for her and daddies get to ride free. So, for two dollars, Madison had a wonderful time riding her horse around in circles. You should have seen her smile!

It's sort of like the smile Daddy had when he saw one of those big fancy grills!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I-C-E C-R-E-A-M

Daddy had gotten home late from church, but Mommy had a nice lunch cooked up. Still hungry, he stood in the kitchen and announced to Mommy he had a hankering for some ice cream.

"Ice cream!" Madison blurted out, seemingly jumping out of nowhere. Uh-oh! She heard the magic word!

Daddy wondered out loud if it was too late to take what he just said back: "Too late?" I asked.

Madison immediately said, "Not too late!" As she said this, she made the hand gesture for daytime, letting both of us know that it wasn't too late at night yet to have ice cream!

It was a really funny moment. And yes, we had to give her ice cream. We did, after all, say the magic word.

I guess we'll have to spell it from this point on!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Cupcakeinator

I wound up staying here at the MUCH later than anticipated, but the bright spot is the completion of the editing of the final School Days commercial, guest starring Madison. Take a look at our latest product, the Cupcakeinator!

video

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chimney Trouble

The Chimney Sweep came today, and to my great disappointment, he did not have an English accent. In fact, he had a video camera to insert up the chimney. Though this was cool, it was not what you expect from a chimney sweep. No, I want singing and dancing on the roof!

Instead, we got a tremendous bill. Actually, the bill won't be charged until the chimney guy does a tremendous job. We knew this one would be big - there's a large crack in the fireplace that goes on up and up and up.

The guy actually told us that it appeared as if there was a great deal of pressure on the top of the chimney - and the entire thing had something like ripples from the ordeal. He didn't have an answer for this, but when Zena explained it all to me, I immediately figured it out: Santa needs to lay off so many cookies. All that weight!

It was a work day - and it was a work day for Madison too! She came in with Daddy to be featured in the final video commercial for our series, which takes place in a lunch room. It should be fairly similar to the others: Pointless, and filled with slapstick. Look for it in tomorrow's post.

Until then, it is an early night for all of us. Madison is starting to appear under the weather. Daddy is a little sore, and Mommy is already sleeping. Maybe it would be a good idea for all of us to get a little rest. It's a rainy night in Georgia, but I don't think we'll notice so much. Soon we'll all be in a deep slumber, resting up for another big day tomorrow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Pool

Today we seemed to accomplish a bit of work. We brought over a great deal of stuff to the new house and Mommy unpacked quite a bit as well. But I still haven't finished painting that garage. To make matters worse, I spilled paint on the garage floor and have to sandpaper it up. But in the positive column, we got our visit from the air conditioning guy, who has given his seal of approval on things. In fact, he told us he didn't have to do as much because the guy cleaning the vents the other day did a bit more. Translated: we saved some money.

We also got a visit from a guy who dry cleaned our upstairs carpet, so now it looks nice. And it feels wet between your toes. The guy was from Latveria or Genovia or some country like that, so he had a terrific accent. He'd have been a perfect addition to the Star Trek cast, actually.

Anyway, as soon as he was done too, that was time for our picnic of sandwiches - and it was time to head to the pool!


Here Madison is having a great time at our community pool. I love the barn theme with the showers in the silo - it looks like something you'd find at Disney. Madison had a great time learning to swim with Mommy and Daddy today. At one point, we even enjoyed tromping around in the water underneath one of these things:


Oh yeah: that's at our pool. There was another couple at the pool for a short time, but for the next hour, we had it all to ourselves. On a hot day like today, it was the perfect recipe for cool fun. Madison giggled quite a bit, but so did we. Everyone had fun together!

But you can see by this picture that the storm clouds were coming. We were actually on our way out of the pool anyway, so the rain clouds weren't chasing us off. They were just a reminder of how perfectly timed everything was today, and how blessed we were as a family. Madison looks cute in her swim robe, and you can see for yourself how deserted our pool was. I imagine we'll be using this quite a bit. For one, it is good to give Madison some of those swimming lessons that we learned over a year ago. She'll get better and better. On top of that, Mommy and Daddy will get some much-needed exercise in the pool. Eventually, Ye-Ye and Nana will be over here too, and we'll all have fun cooling off in the water. Until then, today was a wonderful introduction to the pool.

Afterwards, we all went back to our current house for another Tombstone pizza. Madison was so excited about this that she put on her own oven mitts and brought out her own wooden pizza to the table. For the record, that little toy was a most excellent investment. She plays with that all the time, preparing us pizza quite often.

Later, we plugged in Cirque du Soleil's "La Nouba," as we're considering returning there with Madison when we visit Orlando. We popped the DVD in and Madison watched the whole thing without ever losing focus. She really enjoyed it! This was good news, because no matter what, we're seeing Cirque du Soleil in November. I know she's going to love it.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shaoey and Dot

Another day at work, and another day for Mommy at the house - although the scheduled workers did not show up to dry clean the carpet upstairs. Still, Mommy and Madison were able to join Daddy for dinner at a pasta place nearby that Madison loves: Pastabilities. It's a great place to hook up with friends, which we did.

We had a great night at church - for one, we added Mentos to Diet Coke again. This time, we did it live on stage and things got pretty messy! Our message tied in a little bit of Napoleon Dynamite with some Bible concepts - which made for a good time for the kids.

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Today's book that we've been reading again is "Shaoey and Dot," which is the first of three books that we have written by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman. It is the story of a ladybug that follows an orphan girl in China, keeping up with her on her journey of adoption. Obviously, it is a special book. It's the story of Madison, and the story of many other little girls adopted in China. The ladybug is a symbol - they say when you see ladybugs, it means a child is on the way. We saw plenty of ladybugs at our house, of course. It was about a year before we went to get Madison when we had this freakish swarm of ladybugs invade our property - hundreds of them crawling all over our house! They didn't choose any other house in the neighborhood, but rather kept themselves all over ours specifically. It was almost magical.

Of course, if it were any other insect it would be creepy. But that's another matter.

Back to this book: we love it. Steven Curtis Chapman has always had a role in our adoption plans. His organization, Shaohannah's Hope, was kind enough to bless us with a grant to help us make it to China for Madison. We have many of his CDs, and listen to them frequently. One year, we saw him at EPCOT at the Candlelight Processional. It was an amazing Christmas concert with a massive choir and orchestra. Truly wonderful!

Madison enjoys the book, and the other two books that feature Shaoey and Dot too. They're fun to read, and they're good books that help cover the subject of adoption.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chim-Chim Cheree

We've had a busy week at the new house, with lots of progress at the new house. We've been going there to unload some stuff, but at the same time Mommy has been making plenty of appointments for different areas. For example, Monday our good friend came over to look at the carpets, determining all we needed was some dry cleaning. That's Wednesday. Today, the vents were cleaned out and someone came to take a look at the lawn for an estimation on what lawn service would be. Thursday, the air conditioning guy we know is returning to finish up. And Friday, we'll have a new visitor:


A chimney sweep! I've never hired a chimney sweep before, but personally I hope he comes dressed up like one of the guys from Mary Poppins. I also hope he calls me "Gov'ner," but somehow I don't see that as too likely...

Madison has been with Mommy all day, which means she's been to the new house a few times. She likes the new house, and especially enjoys unpacking the items from the car to carry in. You have to be prepared, and make sure you pack smaller lightweight items that she can carry in on her own!

It was a busy work day, but we've been accomplishing quite a bit lately. Time for a good night's rest, where Mommy and Daddy will watch some television in bed and hit the sack a little early.

G'night!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Helping Around the House

Madison was peeking at Mommy through the front door of the new house. "The Little Einsteins" had been playing inside, on our portable DVD player, but now Madison was ready to come outside and help out. She was a very good help, dragging off cut shrubbery with Daddy way down beyond our backyard. She was also very helpful in carrying new stuff into the home that we packed away in the car. You have to consider, when packing, bringing in items that are light enough for Madison to help carry as well - she loves to be a good helper.

It was ridiculously humid today, so much so that we didn't last too long with the work at the house. Daddy went and got about ten bags of mulch, which Madison and Mommy spread in front of the house around the bushes that Mommy trimmed. The house is coming along nicely.

Good news is that a friend from church came over and examined the carpet upstairs. He does flooring for a living, and determined that our carpet was just find - all it needs is to be dry cleaned. This will obviously save us a lot of money!

Mommy and Daddy took a nap today, but later went to the hospital to visit a friend who just had a successful surgery this morning. In the meantime, Madison stayed with Ye-Ye and Nana, who she loves. Before going home, we prayed together and Madison once again began listing off the people she hoped God would bless.

"God bless Ye-Ye," she said, opening her eyes and looking over to her grandfather. And then she blurted out, "That's you!"

It was very cute.

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Another book we've been reading at night time lately is Garrison Keillor's "Daddy's Girl." Mommy and Daddy like Garrison Keillor quite a bit. We've enjoyed "Prairie Home Companion" for years, and even had an opportunity to see a live presentation at the Fox Theater some time ago. We've got several CDs and books, but nothing specifically for kids. So, this was naturally a great Father's Day present for Daddy. A bonus is that it comes with a CD to listen to. The book is very good though, with colorful illustrations that capture Madison's attention all throughout. She likes looking for the things that Daddy is describing as he reads it to her. It's a sweet book, as the title suggests, and something really nice to read to Madison just before bedtime. One of the songs in particular on the CD is really catchy too. In fact, Daddy is thinking about plugging it in right now...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where's My Cow?

We had a big day today, from church to the new house - Madison came with us to church this morning, as Mommy took photos of our service, which turned out pretty good.


We're in the middle of our series "School Days," which has been great. Not as fun to watch as "Pridelands" or "Hang 10," but still somewhat exciting. For one, Madison has been featured in a video each and every week, with a great response. These have been silly and quick videos somewhere in the middle of service just for fun - but they've had a good response. Madison has done well in them!

We took a pretty good nap this afternoon after service. Madison was asleep on the floor, amongst all the pillows! We turned the lights out and all took a good long nap. Last night, Daddy was up late working on the service, so he was pretty wiped out.

But afterwards, we went over to the new house. Madison says it best: "New House!" I brought over the lawnmower and spent a LONG time cutting the front yard, while Mommy spent time with Madison putting out mulch and trimming some bushes.

We met our next door neighbor today, and were happy to hear that she also goes to Free Chapel. In fact, she's a good friend of Black Bart, one of KidPak's most famous characters. It's a small world!

Mommy discovered on one of the bushes a praying mantis, which has always been somewhat of a good sign for us. It was about twelve years ago that we had gone to a Braves game on an early date - and there in our seat was a praying mantis. Well, it was obviously not going to survive the night there in the middle of the crowd, so Daddy scooped it up and "rescued it," at least for the night. Ever since then, the praying mantis has been somewhat of a thing between Mommy and Daddy. We've had one frequently living in front of our current house, munching on the buffet that is drawn to the front porch light each night.

Back to the yard work: Madison was a good helper today. She was spreading mulch and dragging garbage bags filled with twigs about. She was also helping Daddy get the grass dumped in the backyard. She's a good helper!

Tonight when we got home, it was time for a Tombstone pizza. I sure did miss the smell of a Tombstone pizza. We used to have them more frequently - and it looks like we'll be having them more often now: the local pizza joint we liked is closed. That leaves the other standard pizza delivery places that we're not too crazy about. SO, it's Tombstone for us! Madison loves this pizza, as evidenced by the fact that she practically licked her plate clean tonight. So did Daddy though!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
WHERE'S MY COW?
Which brings us to our book reading tonight. Daddy pulled out three books that he hasn't read in a while, and as Mommy took a bath, Daddy and Madison read together. One of the books we read is called "Where's My Cow?" It's an obscure book by Terry Pratchett, who happens to be Daddys' favorite author. It's a children's book, somewhat. The first several pages are certainly fun to read as the main character, Sam Vimes, is trying to find his cow.

There's a sheep that goes "baaaa." Is that his cow? Certainly not! And so on. Mommy got this book for Daddy at Christmas, and it sits proudly with all the other Terry Pratchett books I've been collecting in hardback.

The interesting thing about this book is that it was mentioned as a book within one of Pratchett's other books. In his other novel "Thud!," this book is something that one of the main characters of the series, Sam Vimes, simply must read to his child each night before bedtime. Based on that reference within the novel, there was evidently a decision to create a real book called "Where's My Cow?" It was a good choice - the book is fun.

My goal is to get all of Terry Pratchett's books, but that will certainly take some time. He's a prolific author, and one that I've been reading since high school. It's neat to get to read a little even to Madison now too.

Here's an image of Madison from dressed as an Unseen University football player from Ankh-Morpork. Just in time for the Gridiron, Daddy's been reading Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals." Although Madison certainly be playing the sort of football mentioned in this book...

"The thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football"
Terry Pratchett

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Lil Zap

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Once again, Madison was featured in another odd commercial for us. She had fun with us today!

It was a busy day with work, but we all made time to celebrate Nana's birthday - and in the best way possible: an ice cream social! Mommy worked very hard to set up all the ingredients so that everyone could make their own sundaes. But beyond that, Mommy made for everyone Baked Alaska, which was incredibly tasty. Daddy and Ye-Ye had rootbeer floats, and there was plenty of leftover ice cream for later. Nana loves Chunky Monkey, so we had a container of that for her of course, along with Daddy's favorite flavor (currently!), butter pecan.

The kids obviously loved the ice cream. Madison had plenty! But the grown-ups really liked it too. Mommy did a lot to make things nice, and it was a pleasant evening together with the family. And a tasty one too!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Well Bust My Buttons!


Today was the 71st anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz," so we decided to watch most of it with Madison this evening. It was her first viewing, and she was fully paying attention to it - which means it's still a great movie!

We got as far as Emerald City, but fast-forwarded it when we got to the part where they first go to see the wizard inside. So close to bed, we didn't want her to be thinking about that naughty witch: "I'll get you, my pretty! And your little dog too!"

The seniors at our church today had a special visitor: Elvis. The Wisdom Club had a special lunch at the church today and it was packed! The Elvis that visited was an older gentleman, but he nailed a couple songs really well, especially "How Great Thou Art." Madison and Mommy came to share a meal with Daddy and see the Elvis - Madison pointed and said his name. She remembered all that very well from our Graceland series just eight months ago.

All in all it was a busy day for Daddy at work, and a busy day at home for Mommy and Madison. But we squeezed in a little fun, just like we will tomorrow for Nana's birthday. Stay tuned for that, and until then... Elvis has left the building!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Couch, Television, Refrigerator

COUCH:
Today we woke up on a mission: a couch. We piled into the car and drove down to Alpharetta with this goal in mind, although our first destination was a total bust. Fortunately, we stopped by at Northpoint and saw a "Rooms to Go," and jumped out of the car to look around. Madison really had a good time here. There were so many chairs to sit in and so many beds to bounce on. Mommy and Daddy had the very good fortune of finding something that everyone could compromise on, a nice couch that will be delivered before the end of the month to our new home - it's brown and big, and no doubt you'll be seeing a photograph of it when it gets here. As Mommy was looking for some other pieces of furniture, Madison and Daddy had a good time in the massage chair, and at one point being engaged in a pillow fight with a nice salesman. He saw his opportunity, and swatted her with an elegant pillow - but she struck back, and there was all kinds of screaming going on in the middle of Rooms to Go.

After such hard work shopping, it was time for a treat. We asked Madison what she wanted to eat, and out of the mouth of babes: "Pizza!"

So we went back to the California Pizza, and had a wonderful meal there, including Madison's first tiramisu. It was really a great experience there - we'll be sure to go back soon.

Now, most folks would be content to go home, but not us. We next drove to Buford, just past the Mall of Georgia, to a place where we could shop for appliances and electronics. Madison slept on the way there, her tummy full and a smile on her face.

TELEVISION:
Here is the mathematical formula for the amount that Daddy knew about television sets when he woke up this morning: diddly / squat.

Yet now both Mommy and Daddy are experts. Heck, I could work the sales floor now if I wanted to. Which oddly enough, I don't. Sales guys tend to lurk around, and it's downright creepy sometimes. I mean, you turn a corner and there's this guy fiddling with his tie, pretending that he wasn't trailing you like some sort of hungry predator. We went to one place today and while looking at a few televisions, we literally had - I'm not exaggerating - seven different sales people ask us if we needed anything or had any questions.

The thing is: yes, I have questions. But you're so annoying, I don't want to ask you them!

Madison enjoyed watching the huge televisions. I'm not going to lie: Mommy and Daddy sat there amazed at the quality, looking at the movie "Avatar" for the first time on a sales floor.

Daddy has had one television for most of his life. I'm sort of sentimental towards it, actually. I got it when I worked for a company called ViewStar. When the company was sold to Pegasus, I bought the television for $100. It's big enough - thirty something inches or so. It fits real nice in our entertainment center in the living room, and has been a great television for us since - get this - 1996! This television is so old, I remember playing Mario 64 on it the day that video game came out!

It's a great television set. It's just that we want a flat screen television to hang on our wall at the new house in order to save space. This old television is thick. And it weighs three hundred pounds, so I really don't want to move it anymore!

So, today, we rolled Madison through the large amount of flat screen televisions and noted the prices, ranging from $800 to $4,000 or so. Daddy pretended he knew what he was doing. "Okay, so that one's bigger, so it costs more - right?"

Apparently, there's more to it than that. First of all, you have to decide: do you want a LCD, LED or a Plasma television set. Fortunately, Mommy brought along a piece of paper for research that weighed out the pros and cons. This led us to the LED television set.

Which led us to the television set that we bought. It's 55", and it will hang right up there above the mantle above the fireplace. I have no doubt in my mind right now that this is the finest 55" television set in the world.

REFRIGERATOR:
Mommy may have the refrigerator picked out - but we were too tired to actually commit to anything, despite the best efforts by lurking salespeople. This place has literally hundreds of refrigerators, and Madison dedicated her time there to pressing the ice release feature on each and every one. For some reason, the different responses of these machines just cracked her up. No ice ever came out, but strangely enough, some would shoot a remnant of water out, surprising everyone. This alone kept her going around the entire store, checking out refrigerator after refrigerator.

We left Buford quite tired, but believe it or not, we didn't go home just yet. Next, we went back to the new house to check out the refinished flooring. It looks great: nice and shiny! Daddy was visualizing where the television would hang, and Mommy was measuring out where the couch would go. Madison was busy stealing Daddy's hat and hiding it in random closets. I actually had no idea we had that many closets until I had to start looking for my hat!

By the time we got home, it was practically bed time. Daddy read a few books for Madison - for some reason, she chose "Olive the Other Reindeer" and "Olive, My Love," two books that feature some wonderful artwork and cute stories. But both have to do with holidays that are months away. No matter: she wants to hear it, so Daddy reads it to her!

Madison went to bed quite content. Mommy and Daddy are pretty worn out though. It was quite a day!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bummer of a Day

Gymnastics was a total bummer today for Madison, and sometimes I've got to report the good with the bad. Basically, we've seen this other gymnastics location much, much closer to us - and with a whole lot of people there. The thinking was this: go by and see what time their classes are and check it out.

So we went by to check it out, and they gave us a sheet of paper that told us when to come back for kids Madison's age. Which was this afternoon at 5:00.

Unfortunately, they were wrong. Mommy had gotten Madison a leotard and they were so looking forward to gymnastics class - only it wasn't happening for kids in Madison's age bracket. That was too much for our little girl. She was very upset at this, and the teacher there recognized that her organization had blown it. SO, she made the regrettable decision to let her in class with this older group. This might have solved something immediately, but a greater problem ensued: Madison couldn't do what the others were doing. This escalated things, and it wasn't long before there was a meltdown of epic proportions.

She cried all the way home, and Mommy did her best to cheer her up. Eventually, Madison forgot about it all, as four-year-olds tend to do. But it was a real bummer of an afternoon for Madison and Mommy.

Meanwhile, Daddy was working a huge event called the "Back to School Bash," where we had a ton of kids and inflatables and loud music and - well, you get the drift. It was a big church event, so Daddy was pretty busy for most of the day.

He did get to spend a little time with Mommy and Madison in the morning. In fact, some guys were at the new house today, refinishing the wooden floors and making them all nice and shiny. While there, Daddy and Madison had some fun time together, playing Uno and watching a Disney Princess movie.

Tomorrow will be a better day. For one thing, we're thinking about getting a new television!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Potty Watch

We've had a pretty successful day with potty training today, and we might have to give credit to this new watch that Madison is wearing. It's called the "Potty Watch," and it can be set to go off every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. It plays a little tune when it goes off, and that tune is there to remind Madison that it is time to go potty. It has gone off in restaurants, at church, at the new house and at home - and every time it goes off, we race to the bathroom because it's potty time!

Seriously, this has been working pretty good since we put it on Madison yesterday. Not only that, but she likes having it on her. It's a fashionable pink watch, and when she wears it, she looks like Mommy, Daddy - and even Ye-Ye. Yesterday, when she saw Ye-Ye wearing his watch, she was quick to point hers out as well. Of course, at this moment, she might possibly think that everyone is wearing one of these on their wrists to indicate their own individual potty time. We'll have to straighten that one out later!

Here's a photo of Madison checking out the election results for today. Yes, we voted again today in yet another run-off. This makes the fourth time we've voted for one particular candidate in the last five months or so. I think we have to vote for him again in November, which would make five times. Madison likes the electoral process and is keenly interested in everyone doing their civic duty, primarily because she gets a little sticker after we vote. That's four stickers so far this year. One more to go, unless there's a run-off.

We visited the new house again today, and Mommy made arrangements for the floors to be refinished on the main floor. It should look nice and shiny! Daddy lugged a bunch of stuff over there and put out the trash for the first time.

Uh-oh. The potty watch just went off. We've got to remember to shut off the alarm feature after Madison goes to bed!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'll Be Back

Today was a day of random activities, starting with a return visit to one of Madison's favorite destinations: Dr. Williams at Valley Chiropractic Wellness.

It was a really fun visit for her. First of all, she hears knocking on the door - and then she begins to giggle. She sees a folder sliding back and forth underneath the door and starts trying to grab it. She can't, because it keeps slipping away!


Finally, he comes through the door and she immediately runs over to one of the beds to lie down. She knows the procedure very well - so well, in fact, that she helps Mommy and Daddy along as they go through the routine.


Just look how relaxed she is. She's having a great time, really! Of course, you can't forget to give her a sticker at the end. She knows where the closet is that has the stickers, and she knows when it is time to turn the flag on the door so it tells everyone that it isn't occupied anymore...

Anyway, she had fun today. Daddy played a few games with her early on, like Uno and Matching with the Alice in Wonderland cards. We also read for a bit, but soon it was time to head over to our appointment. Afterwards, we checked out a new gymnastics place (that's a little closer), and decided to sign her up for her first class this Wednesday. Mommy will take her to that one.

Later, we went to the new house again with a good friend who knows a little something about entertainment systems and hooking up televisions. He'll help us out when we get our new stuff, and in the meantime, helped us carry some new things in the house. Nothing too heavy though: we don't want to have to go to a chiropractor or anything!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Say Your Prayers

Today was another church day for Daddy, but Madison stayed home along with Mommy this morning. For one, Madison was up very late last night - with no explanation. No sugar, and not a bit of encouragement: she just wasn't going to sleep in her bed. In our bedroom, we'd turn the monitor on and hear her giggling, laughing, singing, rolling around and generally having a party with her stuffed animals in her room. But no snoring. Periodically, one of us would visit her - and it was at about 11:00 that Daddy actually climbed into the bed with her to snuggle a bit in order to keep her still long enough to fall asleep. This sort of thing hasn't happened before, so it was somewhat puzzling - funny at first, as she was really having a good time and all!

On top of that, Mommy had a bit of insomnia resulting in about three or four hours of sleep. The sum of this was Daddy heading off to church by himself.

I'm happy to report that tonight she fell asleep rather quickly - and early. But not before saying her prayers. This is a good habit, and one that she is fast to remind us of if we forget. She'll tell us "prayers," and reach her hands out to grab ours so we create a small circle. Then, with a little help, she lists everyone in the family: "Ye-Ye, God bless Nana, God bless Daddy, God bless Mommy, God bless Madison, God bless David, God bless Jonathan, God bless Hannah, God bless Aunt Shain, God bless Uncle David..." at which point Daddy takes over. But before bed, Madison is quite insistent about prayer, which is obviously thrilling to us as parents.

When we say the blessing at the table, Madison holds hands just the same. And she knows the end of grace, because Daddy makes it clear we're at the homestretch: then she calls out: "Amen!"

We wished an old friend goodbye today as he went off to college. In fact, he's the star of the video posted on yesterday's blog. His name is Daniel, and he's always been very good to Madison, who loves him dearly. Of course, he's not that far away: Valdosta. But it is far enough that we won't see him through the week as we did. Madison enjoyed his company and laughed a lot with him. And she'll be praying for him too. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Edible Classroom Supplies

Madison has guest-starred in yet another video, this one advertising for edible classroom supplies. This is a part of our "School Days" series, and isn't so much connected to the Bible as it is to the overall theme for the day. It's pretty silly - take a look!

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Fancy Pants in the Kitchen

Madison is not too big for her britches yet, mainly because those are Daddy's pajamas she's wearing. A few years ago, her cousin Jonathan showed us a hilarious dance where he pulled up a pair of pajamas up to his shoulders and hopped around. We called it the Fancy Pants Dance, and it was really, really funny! These pants are still a little too big for her, but that didn't stop her from trying it out!

Here's our kitchen, part one of our tour of the "old house" that we'll look back on someday. You can see to the right the dishwasher, which when opened, reduces the size of our kitchen greatly - it gets tight in there when three people are cleaning up after dinner or just about doing anything. Yet it overlooks the living room, or great room as it is called, and also is very open - connected to the dining room rather nicely. It's cozy, which is a nice way of saying "small." Of course, everything's relative when it comes to size: our new kitchen is much roomier, and Mommy is enormously happy with it.

Maybe she'll be doing the fancy pants dance next!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Home Work


We visited the new house this morning for some touching up, so Madison brought along her tools while Mommy and Daddy spent some time painting the garage. The temperature was such that we didn't make it too long - but we did get enough done to feel pretty good about ourselves. At lunchtime, we took a break and had our first meal in the house:


Mommy packed sandwiches and a picnic for us to have where the kitchen table will soon be sitting. The house was nice and cool inside, despite the 97 degree temperatures outside. We replaced some more lightbulbs and Daddy realized for the first time that we have a utility sink! Whoa. How great to be able to wash out the paintbrushes and roller tray in a big utility sink, instead of the kitchen sink!

Madison watched "Finding Nemo" and then a few episodes of "The Mickey Mouse Club," before Mommy and Daddy decided to call it a day. The heat sort of wears you out quicker on days like this, but it was still a nice time working on the new house. There's a great sort of energy you have when fixing up a new home. It isn't as dreary as working on the ol' house you've got to fix up.

And it was great having Madison there with her tools there. Actually, they're spending the night there tonight - maybe they can do some work while we're away...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Squeeze and Felipe


It's nice to have Madison scream "Dadda!" when I get home. It's also nice to see her wave goodbye - whenever Mommy or Daddy have to go off somewhere, she'll blow a kiss and make the hand signal for "I love you." It just melts your heart!

Today Daddy had work to do, but Mommy did too. She brought Madison to the new house where the two were hard at work, making things look better. Madison was helping in the garage, taking out the old screws in the walls and keeping things organized. If Mommy needed a tool, she would use the "Handy Manny" terms to ask Madison for help.
For example, when Mommy asked, "Can you get me Squeeze?" Madison would get her a pair of pliers. Felipe was the other tool Mommy would need, and Madison would go right to it and hand it to her. She knows all the tools on a first name basis!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Follow the Bouncing Ball

We have a tiny hallway, but we made the best of it with a recent donation from a friend: Madison has inherited yet another large, pink, bouncing ball with a handle on it. This is the sort of ball you sit on, holding tight to the handle - and bouncing with all your might in any given direction.


We chose down the hallway. We went galumphing down the hall towards the kitchen, where Mommy was ready with a camera to capture the big race. Obviously, Madison won.

We had a pleasant day together, though nothing as eventful as yesterday. Daddy had to work, while Mommy took Madison grocery shopping - it's been a while. Mommy also met with the air conditioning guy, a friend of ours from church. He came to the new house today to check things out - he'll have to come back for part two of the repairs, but we knew this was one of the issues with our new house.

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Tonight before bed, we read a book called "Marie," which is about the little kitten from "The Aristocats." It is actually a good book, not a simple retelling of the story from the movie. Marie wanders through Paris, and the reader gets to tag along, learning about Paris and seeing nice illustrations. Madison enjoyed a few books tonight before going to bed. We've been reading, and then praying together as a family. It's so great to hear her list off everyone she can as she holds our hands: "God bless Ye-Ye. God bless Nana..."

Sweet dreams, princess.

Monday, August 2, 2010

White Water Fairy Day

This morning, we got up extra early to meet with Abbie and Rachel Hitchcock for a really nice trip down to White Water, a water park in Atlanta. It is actually a pretty big park, although we stuck to mostly the younger kids' attractions - like the Wiggles Water World.

No, the Wiggles weren't there. But their music was, and so was Captain Feathersword's boat, which had cannons that shoot water. Also on board were slides and pipes that you could use to talk to people on the bottom of the boat. Daddy got Madison to say "arrrr!"

The Wigglemobile was there too, which had this unpredictable way of shooting out streams of water when you least expected it. This made for some very entertaining moments with unsuspecting parents.

We arrived home after a time - Mommy and Madison took a long nap on the way, and yet Mommy was still a little tired from this weekend. So was Daddy, actually. That's why we took Madison next door for to Ye-Ye and Nana's house - and it just so happened that it was Fairy Day.

I am not entirely sure why today was Fairy Day - I think it really needs no explanation, actually. But this was the day that Hannah had come over with all of her fairies - and her fairy wings. Even Aunt Shain wore fairy wings, which is why we had Madison wear her Tinkerbell dress and bring along her wings as well. The boys did not dress up as fairies. They would want me to be perfectly clear on this. That's one reason why I've posted the picture here on this blog. In fact, you can see David to the right dressed up as a hobbit. He even has hairy feet! Someone glued small patches of hair to the tops of his feet.

The funny thing is that Madison saw the hair on his feet in the living room one moment and said: "Daddy!"

While Madison was making fairy crafts and having a fairy party - and watching both "Tinkerbell" movies back-to-back, Mommy and Daddy had gone out to see "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." It was pretty good, actually. It was nice to get out and see a movie together. In fact, we had the whole theater to ourselves. Mommy and Daddy ate a bunch of popcorn and snuggled in the back.

Afterwards, we dropped by Party City to pick up a new hula skirt for Madison, and a flower for her hair. We're getting her ready for the Polynesian Resort next month. We are so looking forward to that!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bully Blocker

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It was filmed and edited rather quickly, but here's Madison's first theatrical performance - shown this morning in our KidPak service sometime around the announcements. There's nothing necessarily Biblical about it. Or even relevant!

But the kids in the audience all laughed at it, which made this nervous Daddy feel a little better.

Nana and Baba returned home this morning for Florida, ending their stay with us on a high note. They worked very hard on a lot of stuff at the new house, having done a lot of electrical work yesterday, and a lot of outdoor work as well. Mommy and Daddy were making a lot of plans for this new series - but this week we'll be focusing on getting the house ready.

Pretty exciting stuff!

Later on in the evening, we visited with Ye-Ye and Nana for a bit, and then dropped by our favorite Chinese Food Restaurant in Hall County - Oriental Garden II. It was good as always, and just like always we walked away with leftovers. Madison enjoys their egg drop soup, and likes dipping egg rolls in the sweet and sour sauce they have. She wore her "Made in China" shirt today, so she fit right in!