Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boogie Woogie

Okay, so I've been looking online for a photo of this book that Madison has been so addicted to. It has become required reading, just before bed and prayers. The book is called "Boogie Woogie," and it is a "lift-the-flap action book" that includes pictures of kids wiggling toes, flapping like a bird, jumping up and down, swaying like a tree, waddling like a penguin, and more.

Madison loves to do each action, and is quite insistent that we read this book!


Today was largely a moving day, where Daddy made five - count 'em - five trips with the Ye-Ye's pick up truck. We've moved a lot of Madison's furniture to the new house: her kitchen, tea table, benches, bookshelves, and obviously more. Next step is getting it all upstairs into her room!

Meanwhile, Ba-Ba and Nana are still painting away. They've painted our master bedroom now, having finished with the guest room, the play room, and of course Madison's bedroom. Everything is moving along swimmingly at the new house, which is certainly a bright spot in a rather gloomy day: lots of rain pouring down all morning and afternoon.

But the rain does sound nice from our new bedroom, when the windows are up. The pitter-patter of droplets hitting the leaves is almost therapeutic!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hula Bowl

Madison went to the new house today - and got to play in her playroom for the first time. No, we don't have any furniture up there yet. But still, she was delighted to grab a bunch of her toys and rush upstairs to spend time in her new, pink playroom.

Meanwhile, speaking of "rush," Daddy was at work preparing for a special service with the kids where NFL Pro Allen Rossum came to speak with the kids. It wound up being a very long night, as he was more than happy to sign his autograph for all the kids that wanted something signed. This kid brought a football too - it already has Justin Griffith's signature on it, and now I've got two autographs on it.

Not that I'm terribly into football. This series though, requires lots of watching and studying football movies. We've watched "Invincible," "The Game Plan," "Horse Feathers," and even "Angels in the Endzone." Later this week, we'll watch "The Blind Side." Unfortunately, during this series, Georgia's college football teams have been losing games - but the Falcons seem to be doing well.

This morning, we dressed for the Hula Bowl. Not because we were going to Hawaii to play football, of course. But Madison decided to put her grass skirt on, and also our old leatherhead helmet. Then, holding the sacred football, she charged about the house, determined to throw it at Daddy. We played catch for a bit too, but Madison enjoyed hitting Daddy with the football as well. There's just something about putting on a football helmet that makes you want to go tackle somebody!

Of course, with Madison, she doesn't always necessarily need a football helmet to want to tackle somebody!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Great Kazoo

We're such proud parents. Today, Madison has learned to play the kazoo. She has a great kazoo, not to be confused with the Great Gazoo, as pictured to your right. Earlier today, Mommy, Nana, Ba-Ba and Madison went to Goodwill to do a little shopping, and lo, there were musical instruments galore! Mommy got a tambourine, maracas, bells, a triangle, a slide whistle, rhythm sticks, and of course - the kazoo. It is such a simple instrument to play, and yet many cannot because there is an irresistible urge to blow through it, rather than just hum.

Yet Madison is a natural. She's enjoyed playing the other instruments as well, and she continues to play her keyboard too. Tomorrow she has music class, which she's looking forward to again.

Today though, Daddy showed her how to use the triangle. This is a pretty big deal, because Daddy can play the triangle rather well. Ding! Madison got the hang of it pretty quick too. But ...she couldn't wait to get back with her great kazoo.

Monday, September 27, 2010


We were thinking of starting a new moving company today - instead of two guys and a truck, it'd be "A Guy, a Little Girl and a Truck." Madison was very helpful today with loading up things in Ye-Ye's truck as we transported it from the old house to the new house.

She found empty boxes, and filled them with items she wants moved. Then she'd carry these boxes to the truck and tell Daddy with confidence: "New House." Yes, Madison, that's going to the new house.

If there was anything that looked too heavy for Daddy, she's be right there to help "carry it." Sometimes, this would slow us down a bit - but how can you resist help like this? Answer: you can't!

It was here at the old house, however, that the sky unleashed a huge thundershower that brought a deluge of water down upon us. We sat in the garage, marveling at the spectacle of nature outside. Suddenly, ice began to fall from the sky: it was hail!

This is Madison's first significant encounter with hail: Daddy would dart out of the garage to pick up some of the small chunks of ice to bring back to Madison.

"Ice!" Madison shouted.

Fortunately, the storm didn't bring any trouble. The rain poured down though, and it somewhat limited the rest of the day as to what we could do - so, it was movie night again!

That's right, we popped the popcorn and snuggled down in bed for the big premiere of "Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue." When Madison saw we had this movie, she actually turned to Mommy and said, "thank you!" She was so focused on the screen during the movie, and there were plenty of times where we were just watching her watch the movie. She was so cute sitting there, so intense! Family movie night was very nice tonight in the big bed. Soon, we'll be snuggling in the new living room on our great big, comfy couch.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Strike a Pose

Madison looked ravishing today in her new outfit that Mommy assembled for her. It was church day, and everyone who saw Madison had to comment on how she looked. Such a cutie!

Today's service was great, but we have one more football service on Wednesday night when we meet NFL player Allen Rossum, who is coming to join our children's service.

It rained a lot today, which cancelled out our plans to go to Ellijay for apples. Daddy remembers one trip planned to Chattanooga some time ago where we made it to the Ellijay area where suddenly the road in front of us became a raging river. It was the only time I've ever seen a flash flood, and it was a less-than-subtle hint that we should maybe turn around and consider our trip another time!

We went to the new house today, and sprawled out over the living room furniture, exhausted. Daddy popped in "Up," and we relaxed there in our new house for a bit - until Ba-ba and Nana came by. They've been painting all the rooms in the new house, and had just finished painting Madison's room. It's colored Princess Pink, which brought big smiles to Madison's face. She's already liking it!

Later, we all came over to the old house for dinner: spaghetti. And then ice cream after that! Sundays are usually long days, but this one was very nice for everyone.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boo Berry

Our house is haunted. Yes, the EKG meter is showing readings through the roof, especially in the area of the kitchen.

Fortunately, this is one of the best ghosts to have around the house - his name is Boo Berry. Mommy found Boo Berry cereal at Target, and brought it home to the sound of much rejoicing. This is the time of year to get Boo Berry, which is Daddy's favorite cereal ever. It just isn't fall unless I'm sitting down with a big bowl of Boo Berry.

Mommy also brought home a box of Frankenberry, who Daddy has always thought looks suspiciously like Elton John. What's great about Frankenberry is that the milk tastes like Strawberry Quick after you've finished the cereal! Seriously, this is basically dessert for breakfast. I know it says a whole lot on the side about nutrition and such, but does anyone seriously consider buying any of these monster cereals because they have nutritional value? Not hardly. You buy them because Frankenberry is cool. And Boo Berry is the greatest cereal ever invented. Some of you may be wondering about Count Chocula. Oh yes, I haven't forgotten about the Chocolate Vampire. I love that cereal too. I was disappointed when they changed the formula some time ago, but it is still hard to beat a bowl of chocolate in the morning. Unless it is a bowl of Boo Berry!

Today, Madison did sample some Frankenberry, and said this: "Mmmmmm!"

She even did the rubbing her tummy thing. Next, she started picking out all the marshmallows. Daddy will have to instruct her on the proper way to eat Frankberry, where you eat it all together at once. These are the important lessons that dads are there for.

I can't wait to let Madison sample some of the Boo Berry goodness. It is the season of Boo Berry, and I'll keep you posted as to when she takes her first bite. This will be an important moment!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Daddy has been writing towards a new movie-themed series that we'll be doing in October. It's changed directions several times over the past few days, which has sort of forced Daddy to do roughly twice the amount of work that he normally does. This one's off to an odd start, and it hasn't even begun yet!

Still, it should be a fun month. October always is. Already we have reservations for Gatlinburg, and tickets to Disney on Ice. Different trick-or-treat events are there for us at the end of the month, and of course there's Burt's Pumpkin Farm. We might make it to a county fair soon, and we haven't gotten out to Ellijay to pick apples yet either. There's so much fun stuff to do with Madison this time of year, and we're both very much looking forward to all of it.

I guess the biggest thing October has to offer this year would be our first night in our new house. Right now, Ba-Ba and Nana are spending their nights in the new house, sleeping on the huge couch we've got in the living room. They're painting rooms, getting the house ready for us to move furniture in. The garage is now completely painted, and so is the laundry room. One by one, they're painting rooms for us and getting things prepared. Won't be long now...

"It's show time!" - Beetlejuice

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dr. Madison

Lots of work today for Daddy, but Madison and Mommy were working hard at the new house with Ba-Ba and Nana too.

Madison was also hard at work with her doctor's bag. Inside are all the implements she needs to make sure we have a healthy check-up. First of all, there's the stethoscope, which she uses to listen carefully for a heartbeat. Although I think she's just pretending on that one.

There's also a thermometer and an armband for checking a pulse. Madison is quite serious about all of these as she analyzes the results. Usually everything is okay, but if it isn't, there's nothing that she can't fix with a little kiss to make it better!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Battle Scars

Madison had a busy day with Mommy today, the first stop being music class, which Madison enjoyed quite a bit. She's just starting, but she's having a good time and learning a few things along the way. Daddy hopes to join her in a future class, but it sounds like they had a great time.

Not so great was the doctor's visit. Madison had to get about five shots today, one of them being a flu shot (with a promise of a return visit for another shot). Madison did pretty good for the first few in the arm, but the leg shots were painful for her. Part of it is the anticipation, of course. But the other part is that these hurt a little more, and she let Mommy know with an "Owww!"

Mommy felt so bad, and Madison did so good that we took her out to ice cream afterwards. Daddy met everyone for a delicious ice cream. Madison was proudly showing off her band-aids, her battle scars that were hard won in that ferocious skirmish at the doctor's office.

Seriously, the doctor has given Madison the all-clear, explaining that developmentally, she's doing just fine. She's about 32 pounds, which is ideal for her size. She had fun with the hearing test and eye charts, and did really well with those. As for her speech, everything seems to be normal, though we're on the list for a speech therapist to help accelerate things a bit. You've got to realize that she's only been hearing English for two years, so this sort of thing takes time.

It was a big day for Madison, and we're still recovering from vacation a bit. She had lunch with Ba-ba and Nana at the new house - they're staying there as they help fix things up. They're actually spending the night there on the new couch - and they're enjoying the new television set too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Ugh. What a day to return to!

But the sweet memories help fuel us through the rotten, and soon we'll be back to normal. It's just the "catching up," part that always gets you.

Today Madison spent a large portion of the day at the new house with Ba-ba, Nana and Mommy as they cleaned, painted, and generally prepared things so that we can move in soon. In fact, Ba-ba and Nana are spending the night there tonight!

It was a largely uneventful day though. At least when you compare it to the previous four or five!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quick Drive Home

We got a very good night's rest last night, and were up early on our own. Except for Madison, perhaps - she slept until around 9:00 this morning. That was good, because she certainly needed the rest.

We left around 9:30 - 10:00 and got home at 4:30, which was a pretty decent pace considering we made a few stops at rest areas. Mommy had snacks for all of us on the way up, and Madison was kept busy with her two new friends, the My Little Ponies she got at the Disney Village yesterday. Madison spent hours trying on different outfits for each pony, and letting them interact with each other. She would voice their conversations, which was rather funny to listen to from the front seat.

The "Disney" thing didn't end yesterday: we listened to soundtracks on the way back, perhaps in celebration of our music trivia triumph just a few days ago.

It was a very uneventful trip down, but it could have been different. We drove on I-85 just before rush hour, and as it happens, a small plane had to make an emergency landing on that very highway roughly an hour later. It caused significant backups, but we didn't know about it at all until we got home! Just imagine looking in your rear view mirror and catching sight of an airplane wanting you to clear the runway! Fortunately, everyone was okay after the incident, except for probably all those folks that tend to get wound up during a huge traffic jam. With God's grace, that wasn't us!

Ba-ba and Nana arrived a bit later, and of course Madison went over to visit with Ye-Ye and Nana next door. We went back to the house and had dinner with the Baron (frozen pizza), and then pretty much got ready for bed. Right now, Daddy is looking through all the photos from our trip and organizing thoughts to record for this blog for our entire vacation. It certainly was a jolly holiday. I'm not ashamed to confess this to the point that it may sound repetitive: God's grace was certainly with us the whole time. It was a wonderful vacation!

Sailing the Seven Seas Lagoon


Today was Talk Like a Pirate Day, so we celebrated by hitting the Seven Seas! For years, Daddy has dreamed of getting on one of those little boats and going out on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and traveling across to Bay Lake. Today, we set sail and charted a path for Discovery Island and parts unknown. Avast! Madison and Daddy climbed in one of the boats at the Marina and made our way from port at the Polynesian at the bottom left hand corner of the photo...

...all the way to the beach to the bottom right, which is at Ft. Wilderness, along the shores of Bay Lake. Of course, we stopped by the Wilderness Lodge along the way, and journeyed around Discovery Island, passing by once more Contemporary Resort on a straight path to Madison's favorite destination: the Magic Kingdom (that's towards the left on the map). By that time, we had to be getting back. The winds were choppy, but Madison and Daddy were the seafaring types that were having a scurvy good time!

While we were sailing the high seas, Mommy was having a great conversation with Auntie Kua'i, who is a legend at the Polynesian, having been there since the very beginning. Mommy talked with her quite some time about flowers, leis, and of course Hawaii. When Daddy and Madison came back from our adventure, we met Auntie Kua'i, who was very kind and very nice to Madison. It was neat for Madison to meet her!

It was also neat for Madison to try something unique to the Polynesian Resort. This morning, we all tried the legendary Tonga Toast, which was actually very big - and very filling! Good stuff!

Sadly, our time at the resort had come to an end though. But our vacation wasn't completely over with yet. We got into our car and drove over to the Disney Village, where we'd spend a few hours shopping, eating and having fun.

Our first stop is usually the Cirque du Soleil shop. We would have gone to see the show today if it were running - but this was a day off for "La Nouba," so we'll have to wait until next time. Still, the shop was open and we dashed inside for a peek at some of their unique items. Madison was immediately drawn to some of the exciting masks they had on display. In fact, she simply had to try some of them on. Then, after that, she tried on all the funny hats, giggling as she saw herself in the mirror with each one on. It was infectious!

We're going to see Cirque du Soleil's "Ovo" in November, and thought they might have a DVD of it, but only the soundtrack at the moment. We'll have to wait for that. In the meantime, it was nice to simply look around as always, and see the clothing and assortment of items they have on their shelves.

We hopped on yet another boat, and crossed the lake from West Side Disney to the Disney Village, where we went to see another volcano: The Rainforest Cafe. Last time, Madison did not enjoy the thunderstorms that frequently occur inside. But this time, it was all good. We were seated right next to a huge aquarium with many, many colorful fish inside. This provided for easy entertainment - along with the noisy elephants and gorillas. The food was incredible as always. We had a good time.

Tummies full, we next went to our favorite toy store: Once Upon a Toy. We found books, gifts for the cousins - and this time, we found the My Little Pony station. This is much like the Mr. Potato Head station. We have pretty much all of the Potato Head parts, so this time we visited the My Pretty Pony area and followed the same concept: stuff as much as you can into one box. Whatever fits is what you get for a set price. Of course, with Mommy doing the stuffing, we walked away with all of the clothes - and two ponies! Madison was thrilled.

Afterwards, we went to Ghiradelli's, which is one of Mommy's favorite places in the entire universe. The reason for this is that they sell a sundae called "Strike It Rich." If you have not tried one of these, you have not lived life to the full. In the meantime, we had to get something for Madison, so Daddy ordered the smallest ice cream he could:

Madison's eyes were huge, gazing with awe-filled reverence at this huge, majestic sphere of vanilla ice cream. We were thinking, "there's no way she can finish all that!"

She did! It was a delicious tradition, but it was also getting late. We walked the distance back, passing by a unique street performer who appeared as if she were a statue - but periodically would wave at people. Madison was amazed, and smiled in wonder!

Finally, we made it back to the car. It was getting darker, so we made sure we left in time to get back to Ba-Ba and Nana's house. Madison fell asleep immediately, snoozing the whole way back.

Saturday, September 18th

"Practically Perfect in Every Way."

That's just the way I'd have to describe today, one of which I will always remember. It started out beautifully, and only got better. We woke up this morning, and the three of us headed off to breakfast, which we made reservations for about five months ago: 1900 Park Fair. It was here that they serve the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, which is really good in itself. But more importantly, there are Disney characters that join you at breakfast. This was huge for Madison - she was dressed up like Alice, from Wonderland, and many people were commenting on how cute she looked. This was a dress unlike the others that you could find at the Disney Stores. Mommy found this one online and has really gotten her money's worth out of it. Remember, we've used this for a tea party at our house, and of course the Wonderland series we did back in February.

We climbed aboard the monorail and went over to the Grand Floridian, making our way down to the first floor where the restaurant was. With hardly any wait at all, we were there. And what a great time everyone had. Madison met Alice and the Mad Hatter, and of course Mary Poppins herself. Finally, there was also Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too. It was a great breakfast with lots of smiles and laughter. Madison really enjoyed her time with the Mad Hatter, and was laughing the whole time. Daddy made the mistake of asking why a raven is like a writing desk, and soon Alice was approaching. It was funny: when Alice came around, Madison got a little more serious. You see, this was important to her, and Madison gets somewhat shy!

After breakfast, we explored the Grand Floridian a bit, getting on the monorail to go for a ride around Seven Seas Lagoon and back to the Polynesian. We had a couple hours to kill before nap time, so we decided to return to the pool for some more fun in the water. Madison and Daddy jumped right in and had a great time splashing about. Madison kept jumping in towards Daddy, over and over again. A little later, Daddy even got to go down the volcano water slide. But the surprise of the day was after the hula hoop contest and the dance party, there was a "Disney Music Trivia" contest there by the pool. Mommy convinced Daddy to try it out, so the three of us formed a team: The Ladybugs. We were up against about fifteen other teams in a game where the disc jockey would play about thirty seconds of a song. We had to identify what movie it came from. At first, it was fairly easy, with songs from "Snow White," "Cinderella," and "The Hannah Montana Movie." At least to us, it was easy. Occasionally, there were zingers - but Mommy and Daddy got nearly all of them. Like, how on earth did I remember "Streets of Gold" by Ruth Pointer was from "Oliver and Company" - seriously, how obscure is that? Mommy scored big with "Camp Rock," and the two of us kept getting one after the other right - I think we only missed four total. Yet the contest went on and on, and we had no idea it was as close as it was. Would we persevere? We sure did! And we beat out all the other teams, winning by only one point! It was a lot of fun playing, and it didn't hurt that we we actually won. You may ask: what did we win?

We won a free boat ride on the Sea Raycers! Daddy was wanting to ride on a boat out on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and now we got to do it for free. What a blessing! Every morning, Madison has been looking out the window of our room, and down onto the marina where these boats were resting. She kept on asking if she could do a boat ride, especially after we'd have to pass by the marina in order to get to the main lobby. Well, the answer is yes, Madison. Tomorrow you get your boat ride. Daddy too!

After our victory at the poolside, it was time for a nap. Tonight was going to be a longer one, and Madison was already pretty tired. Fortunately, the curtains in the hotel room close shut to a point that it gets really dark in the room. That made it easy for Madison to fall asleep - and get this: she slept for two hours!

And when she woke up, it was time for the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! We got dressed up - Mommy and Daddy wore pirate costumes. Madison, however, wanted to wear her hula outfit again, which was fine with us. We boarded the boat to the Magic Kingdom once again and took a ride across the lake once again.

The event at the Magic Kingdom was great. Lots of people were dressed up - in fact, there was this one couple that came as Mary Poppins and Bert the chimney sweep. They did a very good job with their costumes! Madison brought along her Mickey-shaped pumpkin container to fill with candy, and before the night was over, that thing would be filled with delicious candy for all of us.

But first things first: we were hungry. Rather than the usual stop at Cosmic Ray's, we went over to Pinocchio's Village Haus. We spotted a couple Hidden Mickeys on the wall there, and ate chicken parmigiana and pizza. The food and service was good, and the place was pretty quiet: a lot of people were exiting the park, and the new guests for the evening's event were just arriving.

That's why we were able to get on Peter Pan and Dumbo so quickly. These rides are notoriously popular, but we made it on these quickly. Daddy rode on Dumbo with Madison this time. Over two years ago in Hong Kong, we rode Dumbo with her for the first time. Dumbo always brings back happy memories!

Of course, there were trick-or-treating stations there in Fantasyland, where Madison began to load up on candy. She knew exactly what to do. In fact, she was double-dipping from time to time, counting on her good looks to get a second portion of candy. She's a real pro!

Next, we rode Cinderella's Carousel, where we ran into Mary Poppins again. Madison really enjoys the carousel - next, we tried "Snow White's Scary Adventure." I have no idea why we did this. I suppose I was thinking, "Hey, it's a not-so-scary party. Why not ride on a not-so-scary ride?" But it was a little much for Madison. Basically, Snow White makes a cameo on this ride, but the entire thing is pretty much about the witch wanting to do everybody in. She keeps popping in over and over and over and over again! Note to self: skip this one next time!

We quickly redeemed ourselves by heading over to Mickey's Toon Town next. Here, we did a lot of trick-or-treating. Madison went through Minnie Mouse's home, and stopped at several places where they gave us all free candy. Alice and Mad Hatter's Treat Trail was a major hit, as we got three or four stops along the way that gave us enough candy to go home happy.

By the way, you can really see all the construction for the new Fantasyland expansion. In fact, I snapped a photo or two while riding Dumbo. There's a big crane back there - so big, it dwarfs the castle! That's huge!

By now, it was time to get ready for the big "Boo-To-You" parade, so we found a place right in front of the castle and waited. And waited. While there, we saw the Disney Villains Mix and Mingle in front of the castle, which was a musical starring all the naughty characters from the movies. Madison waved her finger and said "Naughty, naughty!"

A lot of people gathered, so you have to get there early for their parades - but we're glad we did. This was the best parade they've ever done. It all started with the Headless Horseman, riding the parade route to herald the beginning of the event.

Yes, it had a Halloween theme, and it was amazing. Madison loved it. All the characters were carrying masks as if they were dressing up, but that's just the beginning. A huge pirate ship loaded with pirates, and Captain Hook of course, made its way down Main Street. Jack Sparrow was there too, closely followed by the Haunted Mansion delegation: the Grave Diggers! In front was the shaky groundskeeper with his hound dog, followed by a choreographed team of spooky butlers carrying shovels. Following them were the dancing ghosts, and behind them were the famous hitchhikers on their own float.

While Daddy enjoyed that part of the parade, Madison was thrilled to see the Country Bears and a Western section pass by. And, of course, the guys giving out more free candy!

After the parade, we decided to head back to Fantasyland before watching the fireworks later on. We just had to ride the tea cups. Madison loves to get dizzy, and get Daddy dizzy too. But a wonderful surprise awaited us there: the Queen of Hearts! Madison actually curtseyed to her highness, to the delight of everyone there. Then she gave the Queen a big hug, and a kiss on the cheek. The Queen signed her autograph in Madison's book, and waved us goodbye as it was time to hop on the teacups.

Daddy was the martyr tonight. Neither Mommy or Daddy are big fans of getting dizzy, but anything for our little girl!

We hopped on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin next. Daddy did pretty awful this time around, but it didn't matter: everyone enjoyed the ride, and of course we saw Buzz Lightyear there too.

Afterwards, we found a place right on Main Street for the big fireworks show. In fact, the "Happy Hallowishes" fireworks event is probably the biggest and best fireworks show I've ever seen at Disney. This thing was huge! Of course, it was themed along with the villains and Halloween, which made it really different. But the fireworks were everywhere, filling the sky. It is so difficult to describe something so huge in scale. It was amazing!

After the fireworks, we went to Adventureland, where we spotted Puumba's Hakuna Ma-treat-a (where there was even more candy). We rode on Aladdin's Magic Carpets twice, ran into Captain Hook on the street - and Mr. Smee too. Then we walked by the Haunted Mansion (Madison is a bit too young for that one still). Finally, it was time to get going. The next parade was about to start, but we had kept Madison up late enough. She was still awake and had done really well tonight, but we wanted to make sure she got enough sleep!

Actually, we all wanted to get enough sleep. We rode quite a bit, met characters, saw the parade and fireworks and shows - it was a ton of fun. Oh yeah, and then there's the candy. Lots of trick-or-treating all over the place.

We got on the boat for a quiet ride back to the resort. It was a very full day, wasn't it? But it was a very good day, practically perfect in every way.

Friday, September 17th

Spending the Day at the Polynesian Resort

Today was a day to relax and enjoy the resort. Yes, that's right: we spent the entire day at the Polynesian Resort. Why not? There's a lot to do there, starting of course, with breakfast!

Once again, we returned to Ohana's for breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. Here Madison is, enjoying a hug from her best friend Lilo. Not only was she there, but Stitch was too. And Pluto - and Mickey Mouse! Pluto was probably one of the funnest surprises: he snuck up from behind on Madison at a point that she had no idea there were any characters there. She was just minding her own business, eating her Mickey waffles when all of the sudden, she got a tap on the shoulder. She turned to see who it was and wow! It was Pluto!

Autographs were signed and kisses on the nose were given, and everyone had a good time. The food is always plentiful and delicious, and once again Ohana's has cemented in my mind the opinion that this is the best place to eat in Disney. The view of the castle and the atmosphere make it fun for everyone!

Afterwards, we explored the lobby a bit, and even took a few photos of Madison in front of the tropical setting.

We also spent some time looking for Hidden Mickeys - of which we found several. Madison was involved in the hunt: she spotted the ones on the carpet in our building at Fiji.

The one thing we were really looking forward to today was... the pool!

This pool has a zero entry portion that made it fun for Madison. It also has a volcano with a water slide, which made it fun for Daddy. Mommy, Daddy and Madison all hopped in the pool today for a lot of swimming. We listened to music, splashed a lot, and even (shudder!) went under the water fall! We spent quite a bit of time at the pool. It's such a nice one, too. You can actually see the Cinderella's Castle from the pool as you swim, which is kind of cool.

We explored the grounds a little after that, checking out the other longhouses. We also popped in the Neverland Club to check it out. Madison colored for a bit and even made a bookmark, but we left there soon after in order to walk along the beach.

Soon, it was time for the torch lighting ceremony. The fire juggler from last night was there to light the torches in all the resort, and even did some more twirling as Madison giggled again. "Hot!" she'd say, and then "Ouch!"

Afterwards, and just for the fun of it, we hopped on the Monorail and zipped around Seven Seas Lagoon. We stopped at the Contemporary Resort and did some shopping in the stores there.

For dinner, Daddy stopped at Captain Cook's and picked us all up some pizzas and pasta, which we gobbled up in our room. Each room has a pull-out table, which made for a cozy dining arrangement inside. When we finished eating, it was time to head out again to watch the "Wishes" fireworks show from the shores of the Polynesian.

This time we went to a different beach, which happened to have the "Wishes" soundtrack playing in time with the fireworks. It was magical! We got there quite early, and spent a lot of time building a complex sandcastle. Mommy sat back on the beach chair and watched as Daddy and Madison began building an empire of sand. It was so big, we started attracting other kids!

But soon the Electrical Water Pageant began to light up on the lake, and that meant the fireworks would soon be starting. It was a magnificent display! The weather was perfect, and the three of us were there together on the shore taking in the show. What a wonderful night, and a lasting memory for me personally. Just sitting there with my family with everything so perfect was just what the doctor ordered!

We went back to Fiji, and back to bed, of course. Madison was dressed elegantly for dinner in her Belle nightgown. Take a look!

It was a nice evening, and an earlier one too. We have a great day planned tomorrow, but this day was most wonderful in its own way. It was a perfect day at the Polynesian.

Thursday, September 16th


We left Ba-Ba and Nana's house this morning, making the quick drive to Disney World. You should have seen Madison looking out the window for Mickey when we got close. The entrance gate along the main road sparked her excitement: "There!"

We have finally arrived. We stayed in the Fiji long house, which you can see above. We have a slight view of the Seven Seas Lagoon - very nice! The room is spacious, with island artwork and furniture - and we're located right nearby everything too. The view is of the marina, where Madison sees the small boats (and wants to ride one)!

As we checked in, we each got a flower lei - one of many for this trip. Later on, we each got a flower lei for the luau (that's six), and then flower leis for this next activity:

Hula Lessons! Mommy and Madison got into their hula lessons at the Great Ceremonial Hall as Daddy looked on. They even got certificates for the class! Notice the Hidden Mickey Madison is standing on, by the way...

As Aunti Kuai played guitar, the instructor had the class follow her graceful movements - and play their instruments too. As you can see, Madison had maracas. She had a great time, swaying to the music. She's seen the hula dancing on "Lilo and Stitch," and for the last year and a half or so, she's been getting up and dancing the hula herself during this part of the movie. Even if she hears Hawaiian music, she'll get up and dance the hula. So this class was pretty special. She enjoyed it - but that wouldn't be the last time she danced the hula on this trip. Later on tonight, there was the luau!

On our way back to the room, Daddy looked across the lagoon to the Magic Kingdom, where we could see Cinderella's Castle. Madison hadn't noticed yet, so I pointed it out. "Do you see the Disney Castle?"

Madison gasped! No joke. She gasped! Then she cried out, "Disney Castle!"

Later on, we went to the Spirit of Aloha Luau, which Madison adored. Mommy and Daddy are here, celebrating our ten-year anniversary - we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. But this is must as much, if not more, for Madison. She was transfixed, looking at the dancers in their costumes as they did the hula. Of course, she did the hula too. She was dressed in a grass skirt and has had flowers on all day. She got several comments about how beautiful she is. Yes, we know! Hey, the food was great too, especially the volcano shaped desserts.

The Samoan fire dancer came next, and that was a huge thrill for Madison. She kept looking back to Mommy and Daddy, and then to the fire juggler. She'd turn to us again and say, "Ouch!" This guy really was the highlight of the evening though. The audience was thrilled as he kept doing his thing, and Madison would continually be turning to us and saying, "Hot!" Yes, it's hot Madison. Don't try this at home!

Later in the evening, we went to the beach to build sand castles. Actually, what we built looked more like a ginormous volcano. But it was still fun. The Electrical Water Pageant floated by, which delighted Madison: she called out each one as it lit up. "Dragon!" "Octopus!" "Seahorse!"

And then the fireworks began, exploding over the castle. It was perfect weather. All was calm, quiet and serene. It was so relaxing, sitting there in beach chairs, watching the fireworks across the lagoon, as Madison made sand castles. It was really a wonderful, unforgettable moment.

Wednesday, September 15th

Oh, snap!

Ever played a game called "Snap" before? Me neither. But Madison was having fun, playing it with Nana outside today. Madison was largely making up new rules though, somewhat like the game "Fizzbin."

Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven. The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays. Two jacks are a "half-fizzbin." A third jack is a "shralk" and is grounds for disqualification. With two jacks, one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four.

If a king is dealt instead of a jack, the player gets another card, except when it's dark, in which case he'd have to give it back. The top hand is a "royal fizzbin," but the odds of getting one are astronomical.

The goal of this game may be to get a "kronk." I think.

After cards, it was time to go swimming! Today was a significant milestone: she was able to swim alone - without contact! We were nearby, of course. And two noodles kept her afloat as well. But completely independent, she paddled this way and that, all the time with a big smile on her face!

Tuesday, September 14th

Ah! The joys of vacation! Despite having internal bruises that make Daddy perpetually in flinching mode, today was quite relaxing. We slept in, the three of us, until 9 AM. This is late. Madison got a present from Frank and Jo, some neighbors in Florida: it was a cute stuffed animal of a white puppy. It's that same small white dog that everyone seems to have down here. When asked what to name this stuffed dog, she actually said, "Snowball."

This afternoon, we went for a swim at the pool. Nana and Madison had a very special time, both giggling and splashing in the water. We had to really cover up with sunscreen though - the sun was bright! But the heat wasn't unbearable - in fact, the temperature is quite nice down here. The pool was a lot of fun for Madison, but it was a lot of fun for everybody else too!

Later on, we took Madison to the best pizza she's ever had in her entire life: Pauly's Pizza in the Villages. This is New York style pizza at its finest. The place has photos of New York in it, along with employees yelling at each other, "Yo!" Everyone's friendly and the pizza is absolutely delicious. We don't have any good pizza places too close to us in Georgia. The closest I can recommend is actually in Alpharetta - called "Capozzi's." Great stuff there. While we're down here, though, we have to go to Pauly's. It's almost mandatory!

Anyway, today was a pretty relaxing day, as you can tell. Just to give you an idea of how relaxing it was, take a look at this photo below:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Continental Breakfast

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express last night, which was actually a decent hotel. Madison's eyes were wide when she saw Daddy bring in the big tray filled with food this morning. She ate a banana, and scarfed a pastry.

She slept well last night, sleeping in until around 9:00 or so. Actually, Daddy pretty much did the same. The only unfortunate thing is that someone pre-set the alarm for 3:00 in the morning or something like that - so here we all are up in the middle of the night trying to figure out what that noise is!

This morning, Madison is watching "The Mickey Mouse Club" and "Handy Manny." This is really all we need satellite or cable for - that, and the Rose Bowl and Thanksgiving Day Parades. Seriously, we watch movies and such that we buy, but we hardly ever need to watch anything else.

Today, we'll see Ba-Ba and Nana once again - but not before dropping by our favorite book store, just a few miles down the road. This is a huge place with discount books, and it is somewhat of a tradition of ours to stop by and check it out on the way down to Florida - or the way back.

It should be an easy and simple day today. Looking forward to it, just for the rest!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We've made the journey to Valdosta, where we're spending the night at a Holiday Inn Express. It's been a long day, but it feels good to be off and running. Tomorrow, we'll sleep in a bit - and for the next few days there'll be plenty of rest. It'll be nice.

Madison slept a little on the way down, but she's been awake and excited about our traveling. We're at a hotel here, where Madison has watched the movie "Cars" with us on the television. She's so excited about being in a new place. She can hardly keep still!

We didn't opt for a crib, but instead have put her in her own queen-sized bed. The catch is this: we have to build up barriers along the sides of the bed to keep her from falling off. We've done this in the past, and it is always amusing. It's like an episode of "MacGyver," where we're searching through the room to find stuff to create a makeshift blockade all along her bed. Fortunately, there's always a surplus of pillows, so we use these as well.

Today was a great service at church - can you believe that was this morning? Such a long day. It will be easy to go to sleep tonight.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dragon Boat Festival 2010

This morning we returned to the Dragon Boat Festival at the Rowing Venue for the 1996 Olympics. Madison has been there three times now, but this time might have been the most pleasant. For example, the weather was cooler. The cloud cover helped keep things more reasonable, and an occasional breeze was certainly refreshing. Madison watched the dragon boats row by frantically, some in rhythm and others a bit more sporadic. She called out, "dragon boat" when she saw them. Regardless of what place each boat would finish, it appeared as if everyone was having a good time.

We were having a good time too. Madison brought Kai Lan, and her own dragon boat - and Mommy brought a lunch for all of us to munch on as well. We had a nice picnic on the lake, and when the sun came out, all three of us brought out our umbrellas to block the sun. Madison's umbrella is a panda bear - we got that in Beijing at the zoo there. Lots of people were commenting about how cute it was, and how cute she was.

Madison was back to kite flying today, but only after Daddy won a free kite at a booth there. Every year, prizes are given away and this year Daddy got another kite for Madison. She was delighted. Even before opening the package, she knew what was inside: another kite! She's gifted with these kites, and proved it again today. Where everyone else would be running to and fro trying to get these things airborne, Madison watched hers soar to the highest height with ease. Seriously, there were a few adults there trying to get their kites upward, and she just sort of ran with hers without any thought and willed it to follow her as it went skyward like a trained pet.
People in the crowd were quite amused, watching this little girl completely in command of this kite so high up in the sky. Daddy was amused too - as documented earlier in this blog, his skills with a kite are rather limited! I can honestly say I am quite jealous of anyone who can do it, as of right now I clearly cannot. That said, Daddy didn't try to fly the kite, but rather just let her do it. I can't wait until fall when it is a little cooler, and we can do this again in a field or something. Today the heat was a little much. In fact, Daddy is sitting here typing this - and a little roasted!

We also enjoyed the dancers there, including the traditional lion dance. But the sun was hot, and we had been there a couple hours. Also, there was a lot of work to do at church before we can go on our vacation. For a few hours this morning though, it was a very nice time together at the lake.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Days and Counting

Madison has a habit of climbing into bed with us in the mornings now, and then promptly falling asleep. It's cute to see Mommy and Madison snuggling together in the wee hours of the morning.

Today was a big work day for Daddy, though Madison and Mommy came to visit for lunch, which was nice. Mommy is packing for the big vacation coming up - only two more days!

Lots to do beforehand, but when we go - we're gone!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Movie Night at the New House

The sofa arrived today, and it is really nice. So nice, in fact, that Mommy and Daddy decided to have movie night at the new house. We packed up some popcorn, drinks, bowls and a movie of course - and headed over to the new house to relax on our new couch in front of the new television.

It was a really pleasant night. We watched "Ratatouille," which on this new television was amazing. We've noticed things we've never noticed before - and believe me, that's impressive. We've seen this movie a few times, and it was like watching it for the first time.

Madison likes the new sofa, crawling up and down it and snuggling with Mommy and Daddy. We enjoyed it too. It's a shame we had to go back to the old house tonight. It would have been nice to just go upstairs and spend the night.

That will come soon enough...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tired and Wired

The grill has arrived, though I didn't get a picture of it yet. A friend took us down to Lowe's, where we got the grill and brought it to the new house. Daddy will be cooking a lot on this one!

Mommy has been setting up shelves and putting out all the books that Daddy has been bringing over. We've been moving a lot of stuff over to the new house, to the point that all of our muscles are sore. We're so tired, but Madison is so wired!

She attended a music class today and thoroughly enjoyed it. The class was a last-minute addition: Madison was signed up for another class that simply didn't have enough attendees to make it worth having. SO, the instructor offered a free "sample," which was today's class. Mommy and Madison went this morning, and Madison really liked it. She liked the "dusting game," and a few other games that taught her rhythm (I'm guessing here!). So, it looks like she'll continue attending this class (although not next week!).

Mommy is exhausted. Lots to do! Preparing for vacation, moving to a new house, preparing for her parents to visit... she's out cold in the bed right now as Daddy types!

Early tomorrow morning, the sofa will be here. Daddy just might be the one going over there to wait on it. We'll see! He's got a bunch to do at work before he can go, but as things get closer, we're all getting more and more excited about the chance to get away for a bit...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Love Bug

If Daddy were to ever have a special car, it wouldn't be a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. It would be a Love Bug. It would have to be a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle with the "53" racing decal on it, and the red and blue racing stripes too. It would be so cool to ride around in a Herbie car. Tonight before bedtime, Madison was wearing her Herbie pajamas (that Mommy got a few years ago from Hannah as hand-me-downs). Never one to miss out on an opportunity, Daddy brought out her miniature Herbie toy to roll around on the floor for a few photos. This little toy has a revving engine and squealing tires, and as you can see, Madison enjoys rolling it across the floor at Daddy. Lots of giggles tonight before bed.

Mommy and Daddy have seen Herbie at Planet Hollywood, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and even the All Star Movies Resort. We also have all six of the Herbie movies (yes, there's a sixth movie, but that's for real Herbie fans), but we haven't watched any with Madison yet. Daddy was thinking that Madison might not "get it" yet, although Mommy suggested she might find the bits where Herbie squirts the bad guys with oil funny. We'll probably give it a try soon. Why not?

Although all the movies are currently over at the new house. That's where Mommy and Madison spent a large portion of the day today, waiting for the new refrigerator to arrive. When it did, Mommy called up Daddy at work like a proud parent. "It's here," she beamed. She was so proud of the new refrigerator, all three of us went to the new house tonight to check it out. Yes, it's a pretty decent refrigerator. As far as refrigerators go. At least this one isn't just a box. It has curved doors, which make it look more elegant. Or, at least as "elegant" as a refrigerator can get. It's nice, but we still have a few things to hook up with it - such as the water hose for the ice maker and water dispenser. Can't wait for that.

Tonight, Ye-Ye and Nana came over for a big dinner on the deck that Mommy cooked up. It was splendid: potato salad, corn on the cob, hot dogs on the grill, watermelon and more. It was as Madison is learning to say: "delicious!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Pedicure

The weather has been so nice lately in the morning. Today, Mommy took advantage of the cool of the day by setting up a very nice breakfast for the family out on the deck. It was marvelous. Even better for Madison, there was a free manicure and pedicure afterwards!

Today was largely a day of clearing out the house a bit more, packing things in boxes and making a few trips to the new house. Madison was very helpful in carrying things out to the car, or putting things in boxes. She was quite helpful all day, and was a real joy to be around.

Tonight, she is watching a Barbie movie once again just before bedtime. She's been quite fascinated with Barbie movies as of late, completely entranced when they come on. She goes through phases with different movies, but this week it seems to be Barbie. Right now she's sitting in a rocking chair in her room, eyes trained on the television set. It's a version of the "Prince and the Pauper," with two female leads tangling against a devious Martin Short, who actually makes it somewhat bearable to watch for adults. He sounded like he was having a ball with this one.

By the way, she is really looking forward to going to Disney. That much is obvious. We've got a small daily counter on this computer which tells us how many days to go until we check in at the Polynesian Resort: nine days and counting. It's going to be fantastic, but Daddy has a lot more work to do so he can hit the road. We've got a more relaxing mix planned for this vacation, rather than the "go to a park every single day" adventure. As we're staying at the Polynesian, we actually will be spending a lot of time there, just hanging out and relaxing by the pool. We have tickets to see the Spirit of Aloha luau, and are wanting to get Madison involved with some hula lessons. There's lots to do at the Polynesian - in fact, we could just spend the whole time there if we wanted to, and still have a great vacation. But, we do plan on going to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween at the Magic Kingdom, where all three of us will be dressing up and enjoying the festivities. Last time, we missed out on Peter Pan and Dumbo, so you know we'll be getting on those first!

Also, we'll drop by the Disney Village where we'll eat at the Rainforest Cafe once more. Last time Madison was there, the thunder scared her quite a bit. She's older now, so I'm pretty sure she can handle it. Daddy is wanting to get her silhouette cut out and framed while we're there too, and of course there's the Electrical Water Pageant and watching fireworks from the beach. I read somewhere that there's storytelling for kids every night, and even a movie on the beach too. Also on the agenda are a couple good meals: Ohana's, where we'll meet Lilo and Stitch - and 1900 Park Fair, where we'll meet Alice and even Mary Poppins.

On the way back from Disney, Baba and Nana will be returning from Florida with us. This will be great - we'll get some extra help with the new house. We're almost done with fixing it up, and then we can move in, which is of course pretty exciting.

There's a lot we're looking forward to - and it's just a week away!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Special Visit

Today after church, we had an opportunity to go visit with our good friends Ray and Valerie, who came down to visit this past Friday. Unfortunately, they have to leave tomorrow - but still, we were able to spend some time together this afternoon, which was very enjoyable.

Madison especially had a good time - it was her first game of croquet. Ye-Ye had set up a croquet set in the front yard, and no, it wasn't the kind with flamingos and hedgehogs. Ray had quite a time educating Madison on the official rules of the game, give or take a few. It sort of became a little less like croquet and a bit more like hockey, actually. Still, Ray served as Madison's official caddy and gave her several good tips for the best possible game.

We also played badminton rather extensively. Madison gave this a good effort as well, although the concept of "hitting the birdie back and forth to one another" might be a bit of a challenge for the moment. It is still a challenge for her nephews too, so no worries there!

Actually, they've improved quite a bit. One of the family traditions is playing badminton for a bit in the front yard on Labor Day and Memorial Day. I have no idea who started this. It was probably one of our distant relatives in 1723.

After a bit, we decided to pose for a group shot using a timer and a tripod. Here is the classic "impossible to take one without at least one person blinking, frowning or scratching their butt" group shot. I think everyone looks decent for the most part.

The funny part is, I took about four of these - and in fact, someone is seen clearly scratching his butt. You'll have to guess who!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Safety First

Here Madison sits in the back of our car, with a bit of added safety. There's a play on words there if you know anything about football - which I don't. Actually, I know a bit: our Grid Iron series starts today, hence the leatherhead football helmet again. Also, college football began today in this area, so there's a great deal of enthusiasm about for the old pig skin.

Today we spent most of our time planning for the new series kick-off tomorrow. Pun intended. It'll be exciting for the kids, as our stage looks incredible, with a giant floating football, field goals, green carpet and large football helmets all over.

We dropped by the new house this morning to check it out: it looks wonderful. The pressure washing treatment on the front really helped it out quite a bit. Also, the driveway is perfectly white now. The house is coming along very nicely - it feels just like home.

One more note: literally! Mark your calendars, because today is the first day that Madison learned to whistle. It completely surprised Daddy when she came around the corner at the church, just whistling away. It wasn't any tune in particular, but it was impressive nonetheless. Daddy didn't learn to whistle until much, much later. Here she is, just barely four, and already whistling!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ray and Valerie

Wow. Where does the time go? Madison met Ray and Valerie today, some of Ye-Ye and Nana's best friends from let's just say a "couple years ago." They've come down from Kentucky to visit, after locating Nana on a social network website and arranging a weekend down here with us. We popped in very briefly next door tonight because it was so close to Madison's bedtime. It was nice to see everyone, and we'll actually be spending more time with them as the weekend progresses. They seem to be doing fine, but we'll be better able to catch up on things later on this weekend.

Some of my earliest remembrances of Ray and Valerie are good ones. They lived in Jacksonville, Florida - and we lived in New Jersey. We'd be on our way down to Florida to visit, which was always good news for us kids: mainly because Disney World was just a hop, skip and a jump away!

But also Jacksonville's beach - and the fort and St. Augustine. Lots of neat stuff to visit. I was always fascinated by the palm trees for some reason, more than likely because you never saw palm trees in New Jersey. Driving down to Florida along I-95, I'd spy out the window for the first palm trees, a signal that paradise was not far away!

They were good friends for Ye-Ye and Nana, and no doubt everyone will have a pleasant weekend together.

Today, on the other hand, was a long, long day at work, as Daddy has been preparing for the new series at church called "Grid Iron." It's football related, obviously, and we've been filming and working to make this series something exciting for everyone. Mommy and Madison have been hard at work too, cleaning the costume room, the changing room and readying the new display case with pennants and figurines of famous football players.

Meanwhile, Daddy was creating scripts, movies and keynotes for the big event - and his work kept him there late into the night. It was so late that we could only manage the briefest of visits with Ray and Valerie this evening.

We couldn't even make it to the new house, which was a real shame because today was the big day that they pressure washed the front and back. We're hoping it did a real nice job and made things look fresh and a little less green. We will probably not be able to resist temptation - and go visit tomorrow. Can't wait to see it, actually.

As always, Madison had fun at work today with all her friends. Everyone enjoys having her there, and she loves their company as well. She's been into this hula hoop lately, having people throw it in such a way that it starts rolling backwards. This cracks her up for some reason. No matter how far away it gets, the hula hoop just keeps rolling back to us, bring smiles all around.

Sort of like our friends Ray and Valerie. you didn't see that one coming!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mall Fountain

Today we took a break from doing anything at the new house, in favor of having a nice, peaceful day. That part almost worked out.

Fortunately, we did get some things done, and on top of that we stopped by the Mall of Georgia for some frolicking in the water fountain they have outside. Mommy put Madison in a bathing suit beforehand, and after all our shopping chores were done, we stopped at the fountain.

We've been meaning to do this all summer, as the temperature has been pretty hot. Basically, we find ourselves down in that area a bit, and always think of how nice it would be to let Madison run around in the fountain. Somehow, we kept forgetting the bathing suit, or not having enough time. But not today!

Madison had Daddy lead her through the first few times, but soon she was getting adventurous on her own and going round and round, or trying to squeeze through the streams without getting blasted with water. Other times, she'd try to get into the center and stay there as long as possible - only to be driven out by the sprays of water!

She had a lot of fun, and got quite wet. Actually, so did Daddy!