Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Etch A Sketch


We got Madison an Etch-A-Sketch for Christmas, and as you can see above, Daddy has slaved away for hours and hours making just the perfect image - hopefully nobody will shake it all up! Actually, Daddy made this with Photoshop just for fun. Madison will get an Etch-A-Sketch in twenty-five days...

...can you believe Christmas is twenty-five days away?

It was a perfectly dreadful day today, with rain and cold and wind and basically anything else you can think of to make a sane person retreat deep indoors. There was even a tornado in Gwinnett County, just south of us - though I haven't heard the details yet.

Mommy and Madison spent the day at the house together, while Daddy headed off to work for a bit. But they soon joined me in preparation of the new series which starts tomorrow. Lots more work to be done, actually, but I think we can pull it off. I hope!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tangled


We had another wonderful evening tonight, this time out to the movies to see the 50th Disney animated movie, "Tangled." It was magnificent!

We went with Ye-Ye and Nana, and everyone enjoyed the movie very much. The ending had some tense moments, but on the whole it was very engaging for Madison. And us! Seriously: great movie. Some of the best animation I've ever seen, and a really good story line too.

Madison had a huge tub of popcorn in her lap for most of the movie, just sitting there munching as she stared at the screen following along. She had a great time tonight, and as soon as we were home, she was out like a light!

Today was a day of lots of work at the church towards a new series starting in two days, "Toybox." Madison was at work for a bit too, always entertaining and always playing around with all of Daddy's coworkers. She had a great day today!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gingerbread 2010

Doesn't the title "Gingerbread 2010" sound like some sort of futuristic space epic, featuring some sort of cyborg gingerbread man?

As epic as that sounds, it can't beat our construction tonight: It's Gingerbread House 2010! That's right: Mommy, Daddy and Madison set out to create another gingerbread masterpiece!


As you can see here, Madison was the primary architect, laying out the candy decor - and eating it too. We have gumdrops, hard candy and candy canes on our new house, along with a whole lot of that sugary paste. That's the stuff that keeps Daddy and Madison licking their fingers!

Last year, we created a similar masterpiece - just like the year before. This was Madison's third gingerbread house, and it was a blast to create. We sat there adding the sweet bits, one by one, as we listened to Leon Redbone's "Christmas Island." Madison likes his version of "Frosty the Snowman."

The fireplace roared, and the tree is trimmed - it was quite a wonderful atmosphere tonight. Here's our finished product:


Looks cozy, doesn't it? The roof has a certain Howard Finster feel to it. In fact, if you tour the High Museum in Atlanta, you'll no doubt encounter artwork that looks just like this in their folk art area. I think that's what Madison had in mind when she was directing us to place the gumdrops here or there - she's a regular folk artist!

We had a fun day together as a family, once Daddy got home from church. It was the final day of "The Voyage," as our new series begins this Wednesday. Lots of work to do in December, but until that point I feel like we're getting in some great "Christmas time" together. Soon, we'll be working double time on costumes and such for the big production (as soon as Mommy finds out who has what costume and when, and Daddy gets a script!). Until then, we're making Christmas time together as a family, and each moment has been marvelous!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mr. Norwhal


Daddy's friends came over for an early Christmas party - but Madison couldn't help but get involved too. Here she is playing some video games with Chad and Danny, who came quite some distance to be here. It was Street Fighter IV, starring Chun Li, of course.

It was a nice day - and Daddy got some good presents too! Madison enjoyed everyone's company, and even spent a lot of time playing with her Little People Nativity Set that we got her last year, as the guys hung out and played games. Afterwards, it was time for a movie!


Tonight, we're watching "Elf," and Madison is cracking up all the way through the beginning portion - it's so funny hearing her! It's chilly outside, and it's great to be snuggling together with Madison and Mommy on the couch. The Christmas tree is lit, and Buddy is in New York looking for his dad. Wish him luck!



Friday, November 26, 2010

The Nutcracker

Today was a great day for our little ballerina. Last week, we purchased some tickets to a nearby production of "The Nutcracker" (in Gwinnett County). It was very good, and our seats were excellent - in the front row on the balcony. During the entire presentation, there was a live orchestra in the pit, playing the all-too-familiar music that even Madison could recognize. We'd been playing it this week in preparation, but she needed no help in identifying it when she heard the music: after all, she'd seen "Barbie: the Nutcracker," and "Angelina Ballerina's Nutcracker," and probably more. As for the live presentation that she finally got to see, Madison adored it, her eyes focused on the dancers and their movements. When she saw him enter, she called out, "Nutcracker!" She'd been waiting ever so anxiously to see this. Even last night before bed, she was saying, "Nutcracker!"
It was a nice performance - all the children were dressed up, including Madison, who got a lot of comments from complete strangers.

How much did she enjoy it? As soon as we got home, she put on her tutu and ballerina outfit! As a bonus, Daddy handed her one of these, which brought a big smile:
She was so grateful when she was handed a nutcracker - she looked at it with such reverence and looked to Mommy and Daddy and said quietly, "thank you!" It was so cute! She stood there with her nutcracker and started to do a little twirl right there - just as she saw Clara do earlier. She had a very memorable day, and got somewhat tired at the end of it too. Still, she was quite awake when Daddy started pulling out all the nutcrackers we've been collecting over the past few years or so. Some came from the Bombay Company during a big sale, and one set in particular came from when Mommy and Daddy attended "The Nutcracker" at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Above you can see her surprise at some of the nutcrackers in our collection. She's holding on to Clara, as Drosselmeyer and the Rat King look on. In the front of the crowd is her favorite. To the right here, you can see her dancing with him, twirling around and smiling sweeter than a sugar plum fairy. She's adopted this one in particular from the collection as her own. Some day, we'll take her to the Atlanta Ballet version, which was a great adaptation. But until then, the version we saw today was perfect for Madison - and all of us, actually. Ba-Ba and Nana enjoyed it very much as well. It was a nice time together to get into that Christmas spirit, and throw a little culture into Madison's life. She just loves dressing up and going to the theater - she was dragging all of us along because we were going too slow. "This way," she'd call out, and put us in our seats. And then, she'd sit neatly in her chair with her arms folded in her lap again. Daddy bought some popcorn to munch on, and there she sat, quietly taking it all in.

And just as Clara dreamed a fantastic fantasy that night, perhaps our little girl Madison tonight is taking flight upon a sleigh bed, being swept off to a snow-covered realm filled with graceful dancers, festive celebrations and music that warms the soul. Sweet dreams, Madison!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving was upon us once again, although this time around we've got a bit of new scenery. Of course, the delicious scenery you see to your left here didn't show up until a little later in the day.

It was a great day, but it started a little later, as everyone slept in a bit. But we did get up in time to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, we did something different: we watched it on the computer using a live cam feed from Times Square. We just haven't hooked up any other feed in the house yet, and this at least gave us a chance to see the big balloons and floats. Madison's favorite this year was probably the big Hello Kitty balloon that came lumbering down the street.

As Mommy and Nana busied themselves in the kitchen, Daddy and Madison colored in Mickey and friends at the Thanksgiving table - and of course we played "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" again for everyone to watch.

The weather was delightful outside, so we had the windows open - which is no rare thing at Thanksgiving, as the kitchen can get rather hot with all the cooking!

Great-Grandma, Ye-Ye and Nana showed up a little later, and it was time to eat! Mommy outdid herself this year, and the house was filled with the aroma of Thanksgiving. The decor was fantastic too - our Indian Cabbage Patch kids and their teepee, fall leaves and hedgehogs, and of course turkeys all over.

It was a marvelous feast, and a great time to be together. So much to be thankful for! No wonder at the conclusion of grace, Madison practically screamed, "Amen!"


After dinner, it was time for some fun crafts with Ye-Ye and Nana. Together, they helped Madison make... another turkey!


But there were more crafts to make - including a pumpkin pie! Madison used cardboard, orange construction paper and cotton balls to make a tasty pumpkin pie that she promptly served everyone! Of course, this inspired us all to start round two: dessert! We had pumpkin pie, custard pie and pecan pie - Mommy and Daddy had the latter. But Madison had ice cream. Really, do you honestly think she'd choose anything else? If there's one thing she's thankful for this year, it's ice cream!

It was a relaxing day at the house, and a wonderful occasion. But eventually it was time for Ye-Ye, Nana and Great Grandma to return home. How wonderful that they could come - it made for a very nice day here.

Quite tired, the rest of us stayed at home and plugged in "A Muppet Christmas Carol," and turned in for the night a little earlier than usual. That turkey really gets you sleepy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

It's Wednesday, and Daddy's been gone at work all day. Mommy has been very busy preparing for the big day tomorrow, with lots of help from Madison, Ba-Ba and Nana.

Daddy got home just in time for Madison's bedtime - I gave her some turkey finger puppets to play with as she drifted off to sleep. Goofy, yes. But she said, "I love you," so that makes it all worth it!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ba-Ba Nana

Ba-Ba and Nana are here from Florida, along with their cat Daisy, and Velcro their poodle. They've been immensely helpful with getting things ready for Thanksgiving - and getting things moved from the old house.

Madison is thrilled. She loves all of her grandparents very much, nearly giddy with excitement. Madison is no respecter of persons: she jumps all over anyone, really, and Ba-Ba is no exception! It's been a pleasant week, despite Daddy's long working hours. We've all been sitting on the couch together watching Christmas movies.

Tonight we watched a little BBC: it was "Blackadder's Christmas Carol," which if you know anything about the characters, is not your typical Christmas movie. The tree is nearly done, and the house is festive with seasonal decorations for the harvest. How content to see it all after a lengthy day working.

We brought the long table in from the old house, and it is currently resting in the dining room where we'll be having our Thanksgiving feast. Madison has been helpful, moving things to the car - and then from the car to the house. We have to be sure to carry along in the car some items that she's capable of carrying, that way she can feel useful. She's a sweetie.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dolly Dingle


Madison had found fun with some paper dolls today - these are special ones: "Dolly Dingle." Mommy made these some time ago for her nice, Laura, when she was Madison's age. Mommy has had them packed away for almost twenty years now, just waiting for another little girl to want to play with them. She made them by cutting each one out and glueing each one to a bottle cap that served as a base to hold them up. Magnets glued to each one are used so that each little girl - and cat - can wear the different types of clothing that Mommy has cut out.

We're glad Mommy kept this set, actually. It worked out well some time ago - and it worked out well today because Madison basically played with these for the entire day. Who needs large expensive toy sets when we have paper dolls to play with!

Quite some time before Madison came along, Daddy purchased some paper doll books for her - that was before we ever met. There were a few Victorian paper dolls in this collection, which I got for Mommy as a part of a Victorian Easter Basket. It was quite nice, actually. Also, I purchased a Star Wars Paper Doll Book - it is a book with Queen Amidala in it. There are all sorts of outfits within to dress her up with. Can't wait to give this to her, actually!


Speaking of Queen Amidala, I remember getting a Barbie-sized doll of the good queen. I believe these might be a pretty good Christmas present this year...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why So Serious?

Director Chris Nolan has finally revealed the highly anticipated next villain in the the conclusion of the incredibly successful Batman series:


Madison was really into the jellied toast today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gift 2010

Tonight, Daddy, Mommy and Madison returned to the Georgia Mountain Center for another viewing of "The Gift." Here's a photo of Mommy and Madison seated along the back wall of the auditorium, ready to watch the dancers twirl on tiptoes.
It's been a busy day, but Daddy wanted to make sure we spent time taking Madison to see the dancers - and she seemed to really enjoy the ballerinas telling the Christmas story on the stage. It was Madison's second time seeing this great ministry. The theater was filled - which was great to see. A lot of people came in to see the performance and catch a little of that Christmas spirit early in the season.

Reading last year's entry about our visit to the production, I see where Madison called something out at one point when it was quiet. Well, that happened again! At one point, all the characters leave the main room on stage, gracefully exiting as ballet dancers tend to do - right through a large gift box. It was quiet for a moment in the auditorium, until Madison called out loudly, "Where'd they go?"

The room erupted in laughter! Our daughter is going to be a comedienne, although in her defense, she wasn't trying to get laughs. She wanted to know where they went! Just for the purposes of this blog, I'll tell you: they went into the pages of the Bible, where the audience could see scene after scene reenacted, from the shepherds watching over tiny sheep dancers to the Wise Men coming in with gifts to angels dancing about Mary, Joseph, and the manger holding the baby Jesus.


It was a very pleasant evening. Madison was anxious for the show to begin, and when it did, she folded her hands neatly in her lap and focused on the performers on the stage. She enjoyed it very much!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Off to the Drive In...


Madison has been driving about the office today, as Mommy went to a production meeting for the upcoming Christmas play. She's really been into this car. In fact, for lunch, Daddy and a few of his coworkers went into the auditorium next door to engage in the annual tradition: the watching of "Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas."
We put it up on the big screen in the auditorium and brought food in there to munch on. And there was Madison, driving her car in to watch the big screen - just like at a drive in movie. She sat there inside her car and watched the California Raisins and others do their yearly Christmas thing, and everyone enjoyed it. It was fun, and now that I think of it, that was Madison's first exposure to the California Raisins. Now there was an odd fad in the 80's. Daddy still has all the California Raisins - he'll have to show them to Madison some time. They gave them away at Hardees, one week at a time, and when I was much younger, I found myself eating too much fast food just so I can get all the California Raisins. I think I have ten of them - and one year, we even found their Christmas CD at Goodwill. My coworkers were delighted at that find: we all play "Christmas with the California Raisins" as we type away in the office.

Anyway, she's having a good time here. You could say we're raisin her well...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wise Guys

Daddy had left the characters from the nativity set at the old house, all lined up in the basement room. What were they lined up for? The bathroom, of course. When Madison opened the bathroom door - there was a camel, sitting on the potty!

The nativity set made it to the new house today, along with a bunch of other stuff we brought over. Each wise man was seated in a car seat, properly fastened in with their seatbelts on - right there with Madison in the middle. It looked rather funny, actually. Especially when Daddy put a ballcap on Balthazar sideways like he was a hip-hop star. Ahhh yeah!

Mommy got us some neat DVDs this week - a large collection of Christmas episodes and movies from the past. We watched "I Love Lucy" and "The Andy Griffith Show" and even an episode of "The Honeymooners." Great older stuff to watch - really funny too.

Today we purchased for Madison some tickets to "The Nutcracker." As our time is supremely limited in December because of play practice, we'll be going to the ballet the day after Thanksgiving. It should be wonderful. Madison will also see more dancers this weekend as we return to see "The Gift," which is coming to Gainesville on Saturday and Sunday.

Mommy and Daddy vs. the Waterbed
Daddy has confirmed what Mommy has been saying all along: draining the waterbed is not working out the way the instructions say. Nor does it work when we follow anyone else's suggestions either. Hopefully we can figure that out soon: Ba-Ba and Nana are coming soon and we've only got one bed right now...!

This morning we got almost finished trimming the tree. Madison was very helpful taking all the ornaments out of their boxes and putting hooks on them as well. Then, she'd place them on the tree at just the right height. The tree is almost done - we'll post some pictures when we've finished...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

O'Charley's

Today Mommy and Madison joined Daddy for lunch. We were all quite stressed from different various activities - actually, Madison wasn't stressed at all! But still, Mommy, Daddy and a few friends all needed a little break, so we went to O'Charley's for a bite to eat.


We hadn't been there in a while, but it was nice - despite the really slow service. Perhaps that was by "design," so that we would get a little more time away from it all.

O'Charley's has some history with us too, although we haven't been by there as much as we used to. In the late nineties, that was a very popular place. Daddy remembers stopping by there with his friends Alan and Danny on the way back from a Weird Al concert on Halloween. That was the first visit. It was the Pleasant Hill location - and instantly we were hooked. I think it may have been the cheese sticks that were our favorite (since been changed to cheese wedges). But they had this French dip that was really good too.

We stopped there time and again, and were thrilled when a Gainesville restaurant opened. It was such a frequent stop for us - and such a near obsession - that upon a drive to Nashville one time, Danny and I stopped by what is the earliest location of the franchise. Historical research!

Our obsession got to be so much that when it came time to choose a location for Daddy and Mommy's wedding rehearsal dinner, we picked O'Charley's. We knew a waitress there, and were able to completely seal off the outside patio area, where we hung lights and decorations just prior to the arrival of the wedding party. The weather was perfect that night outside, and Daddy remembers the lights and the food and the laughter of friends and family. It was a perfect place for a rehearsal dinner. It was a perfect night!

Anyway, O'Charley's has a long history with us. I recommend the cheese wedges big time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Madison helped out Mommy at the old house today, carrying things to the car and helping Daddy do the same when he arrived a little later after work. She's been incredibly helpful moving things to the new house - she keeps piling things in there, wanting to much to be helpful.

Once the object has been placed in the car and ready to move - and our hands are empty - that's when the funny tradition keeps going. She raises her hands and starts making ghost-like sounds: "wooooooh!" Daddy then runs for his life back into the house, with Madison close behind chasing. It's all part of the fun of moving.

I'm not entirely sure where all this came from, to be honest. Perhaps she thinks she's the Ghost of Christmas Past?


Okay, maybe not. But it still adds to the fun running around when moving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gnome for Christmas


How thrilled Madison was today when she saw her pink Christmas tree out on the landing, just outside her room. You can see it from down below too - but the view is best from upstairs. Mommy and Daddy helped her out, getting her all the decorations for the tree. She was so excited about doing this - we had our Christmas music playing in the house, and Madison was quite insistent that we all wear our Christmas hats.

Madison's hat stayed pointed straight up though, making her look like a little gnome. It didn't matter - she was merrily in the mood to decorate her tree.

One problem though: we didn't have any hooks. Somehow in the move, we misplaced the hooks! So we all piled into the car with our Christmas hats on, and went to Target. Of course, we can't just get hooks while at Target: we found some great new Christmas movies for Madison, including "Angelina Ballerina: The Nutcracker Sweet."

Attempt #2
We returned home and immediately set out to decorate the tree. It was a magical time, helping her decorate - or sometimes simply watching as she got so much into making sure every ornament was properly placed. This year, we got Disney Princess ornaments from Disney World. These gave her a huge smile when she saw them again. The other big smile came when she saw Tinker Bell, who you can see perched at the top of her tree. Later on, we'll add some plush animals around the tree and sort of dress things up further. In fact, some of Santa's gifts will be there waiting for her on Christmas morning - with the rest to be found beneath the tree we're setting up downstairs. We haven't finished with that one yet, but the house is starting to look very festive. Just look at Madison's expression above and you'll see that she agrees!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean

Daddy preached this morning to roughly a thousand people. But then it was time to come home and get some rest. We had play practice tonight, which Madison loves coming to. She gets to watch movies and play with her friends. Life is great, isn't it?

Meanwhile, Mommy and Daddy are stressing about that, about moving, about deadlines for the services and about all sorts of things. Surely, it'll all work itself out soon.

To make things a bit calmer, Daddy and Mommy continued putting up the big Christmas tree, and watched a Christmas movie tonight. Actually, we watch a lot of Christmas movies each year. By my estimate, we have seventy to eighty different Christmas movies. Some are just a half-hour long, like "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." Madison loves that one. She also enjoyed "Olive the Other Reindeer" and the other Christmas movies we've found for her along the way.

Others are of the longer variety, like "The Preacher's Wife," or "Miracle on 34th Street." We have a ton of these movies, and seem required by law to watch each and every one leading up to the big day. Forget seeing anything un-Christmas related for the next few months: it's all about movies like "Elf," "A Christmas Carol" and "The Santa Clause" (parts 1, 2 and 3!).

One recommendation we just watched was "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean." This one is hilarious if you get a chance to watch it. Then again, we love Mr. Bean. That goes back a few years ago...

...We were both set to go on a cruise with Royal Caribbean. Unfortunately, Mommy got really sick on day one - the end result being that we were in our cabin for much of the time. Daddy wouldn't leave Mommy's side during that time, and there was very little to do. I didn't bring a book with me, so I turned on the television. And there he was: Mr. Bean. I'd never seen Mr. Bean before, and right there on the television on the cruise ship was this huge Mr. Bean marathon.

Mommy woke up to the sound of Daddy laughing, so she naturally had to check out what was going on. And soon she was watching too. Laughter really is good medicine, as Mommy eventually got well enough to make the trip to explore a tiny bit of Nassau (we went to the Pirate's Museum together: arrrr!). And then she got even better, so we were able to go to dinner together that night. But neither of us will forget that breaking moment when something potentially highly miserable turned into something a bit more special. All thanks to Mr. Bean!

Saturday Evening Post


Mommy's getting ready for Thanksgiving - it's a big deal! Of course, she's done a bit of grocery shopping, but we've been also decorating the house with Thanksgiving decorations. It's been nice in the house.

It's been good outside the house too - the leaves are very, very colorful this week. It's a splendid display of reds, oranges and yellows. The drive to work is incredible - crossing the bridge over Lake Lanier and seeing so many colors over the lakeside. Fall is certainly our favorite time of year.

Madison knows the word "turkey" very well now. We've got plenty of turkeys around - even some of the neighbors have Thanksgiving decorations up in their yards. It's a great time of year: tomorrow, Daddy will be speaking to all the kids at church about Squanto. It's a Thanksgiving message tied to the story of Joseph.

It's a long night of studying and preparing, but tomorrow should be a good day. Here's a preview of the big message:

The winter of 1621 was brutal for the Pilgrims. Everyone was hungry, and many were sick with diseases ranging from scurvy to something they could only call “the sickness.”


It could have been worse. An even harsher winter could have wiped all the Pilgrims out before the year was over. This was something to be thankful for. Another thing to be thankful for was Squanto.


Imagine running to greet sailors at the shore – and having them capture you, forcing you to become a slave. Long before the Pilgrims arrived, this had happened to a young Native American Indian named Squanto. He was taken away from everything he knew and loved. He was taught English, and worked for years when finally he was asked to serve as a guide back in the New World, his homeland.


Eventually, he was released – but then captured again! Yes, Squanto was forced onto another ship as a slave, chained in the damp hold where rats scurried and food was scarce. Arriving in Spain, these slaves were sold – and when it was Squanto’s turn to be bought, a man in a strange robe paid the price.


When Squanto arrived at this man’s home, he saw others in similar robes – and he heard the words everyone wants to hear: “you are free.” Amazingly, he was bought by a Christian group of men who bought Indian slaves, taught them about Jesus – and let them go free.


Squanto returned home as a Christian. It was another long journey across the ocean, but no one was there to greet him at his village. Very sadly, all of his tribe had died from a sickness. Home? He had no home. He went to live with another tribe.

But one day, he spotted another ship landing on his shores. Naturally, he was a little scared. Would they take him, and force him to be a slave? Or was there something else in store for Squanto?


What happened next was something so incredible, that through him many lives would be saved – giving him a home, and keeping his name in the history books forever.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Ovo


Today was the big day to go see Cirque du Soleil's new show "Ovo." If you want to know when we bought these tickets, click here. The show was magnificent, and quite a significant step up from their last effort, "Kooza." This show was very creative, with awesome costumes, sets and acrobatics. The final sequence was the show stopper, one that is pretty hard to describe. What was neat about this show is the theme. I can seriously see us at children's church having fun with this theme some time in the future.

Madison was certainly into much of the show, sitting up on our knees watching - and laughing: The clowns were much funnier this time around. The music was fantastic, so in other words, I recommend this one for sure.

It was a full day - speaking of "full," this afternoon was the big Wisdom Club Thanksgiving meal served at the church. Daddy had a lot of fun serving everyone, and afterwards, he joined Madison, Mommy and a few friends for a Thanksgiving meal together - complete with turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and more. It was a wonderful meal, and the company was good as always.

We did do a little work today, but tomorrow we'll have some catching up to do. Madison enjoyed her first experience under the Grand Chateau - the first of many more in the future to come. We all went home with happy smiles on our faces. Though we're all a bit tired!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rose Suchak Ladder Company

Today we began the yearly long and arduous process of putting up our Christmas tree! Yes, that made it sound more like a chore - and in some respects, it can be. Our tree is pretty big and takes a lot of "fluffing" each year after storage. Additionally, putting on the lights can be a big task as well.

We have a tree that looks incredibly realistic - we shopped and shopped and shopped around for the perfect one, and it has fooled people from time to time. The only thing missing is the smell of pine - which you can get from Yankee Candle Company easily.

As long as the tree looks real enough, the advantages of an artificial tree are numerous. Obviously, there's money invested each year in a real tree. Then there's clean-up of needles and such. And there's also the amount of time shopping for the perfect tree. All these things are saved up and worth it to us in the long run. For years, we've had real trees - but this current tree has been a major blessing for us.

It's even rather tall, so it works out well in the great room. To reach the top, we have to use a ladder, a special one we got from the Rose Suchak Ladder Co.


In case you haven't heard of them before, this is definitely a very specialized ladder company. Here's an official description of their organization, found on a pamphlet we found in our front yard last Christmas Eve:

Rose Suchak Ladder Company is a fully integrated manufacturer and distributor of fiberglass, aluminum and wood climbing products. Their products are backed by hundreds of years of state-of-the-art elf design, making them the leader in climbing equipment. They manufacture and distribute from the North Pole a full line of safe, professional-grade products for any job – from topping Christmas trees to putting lights on the tops of roofs – and they build these magnificent ladders to withstand blizzards, snowstorms and even gum drop monsoons.

Rose Suchak Ladder Company is a brand you can trust. Their ladders are found on more trucks, rooftops and sleighs, and on more job sites than all other ladders combined. They are the elves’ choice in ladders - and they should be yours as well!

So to "wrap things up," I'd say that if out on the lawn, there a Rose Suchak Ladder, I think you'll be in for a good Christmas!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wish Book

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB


Madison was checking out the Toys R' Us catalogue, doing a little Christmas dreaming in the kitchen. She'd point at different things and get our attention for each one. Yes, she's dressed up as a flapper as she does this. It's important to appear stylish as you do your browsing through catalogues.

Of course, this launched Mommy and Daddy on a discussion about the Sears catalogue, which we found ourselves looking through each year growing up. I think for many families, the Sears Wish Book was the official start of the Christmas season. Look at those kids on the cover of the Wish Book from 1976 - they're roughly Daddy's age now. I remember seeing all the Atari 2600 stuff and Star Wars action figures inside. In fact, I think I still have some exclusive Star Wars stuff from that catalogue that may be worth some money. Anyway, we haven't seen a Sears catalogue in years, so Daddy is going to pick one up as soon as they get in this year. Yes, you can see it online. But just for nostalgia, I think I'll go by and pick one up to look at.

But I'm not going to dress up as a flapper as I read it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hang 10 for the Holidays

Here's a video of Mommy, Daddy and Madison catching some gnarly waves for the hula holiday season. Mele Kalikimaka!


video

Surf's Up!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kitty

Today was a hard day for the family, though we've somewhat shielded Madison from what has happened. In short, the vet this morning discovered leukemia in Kitty's blood, and in an advanced state.

Kitty has been a wonderful family pet for a few years now, one that Madison has known all of her time with us. When Kitty was a stray, Daddy remembers spending time on the front porch with Mommy, trying to lure the cat closer with slices of bologna. From the very beginning, we knew there was something special about this cat.

Even though he was stray, he became domesticated quite easily. He endured Madison's playfulness with such grace and patience, and each night he would find himself in our laps purring quietly as we watched a movie or played a game together.

At the old house, his perch was on the railing just outside our front door. That's where he liked to sit, king of the house on his throne. If he spent any time away, we'd always see him come back - pawing and meowing at the windows by the front door.

He was a wonderful pet, giving us so many happy memories. Something like this is so tragic. He was without exaggeration at the point of death some time ago when we took him in and nursed him back to life. There was no way he would have survived that cruel winter without us. And for the next year, he lived happily under our roof. He had a very happy life with us, warm, safe and always with enough food. And always enough petting and scratching in between the ears.

We'll miss you dearly, Kitty.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Voyage


Our Thanksgiving-themed series began today after much preparation and planning, and it was incredible! Madison came in this morning to church as well in order to help Mommy with the costuming, which you can see above worked out very well!

It was a full day at church, because we had Christmas play practice again for a while. Mommy was working hard getting with the cast and fitting a few more castmembers. Daddy was helping, and rehearsing as well. Meanwhile, Madison was with some friends, watching "Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment."

Play practice is play time for Madison, who has fun with Alex, Sammy and Danny. She has new friends too! While practice goes on in the KidPak auditorium, the office next door is filled with running and screaming.

When we got home, we grabbed a couple tickets - and hopped aboard "The Polar Express." This was Madison's first time watching it, and as she likes trains, snow and Santa Claus, her eyes were glued to the television the whole time. We sat together and snuggled on the couch until Christmas morning.

Afterwards, Madison fell asleep quickly, perhaps dreaming of that blue train rolling over the mountains and beyond...


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two On Two

Pilgrims and Turkeys have decided to settle there differences. Madison, Brock, a Pilgrim and a turkey engaged this afternoon in a little two-on-two basketball:

video

Madison has potential as a guard, despite her size. Atlanta Hawk's legend Spud Webb would be proud.

But that turkey clearly fowled.

This Little Indian

Here's our Madison, dressed up as a Pink Indian with a lovely pink headdress. She's obviously from one of the more fashionable tribes. Daddy is actually part Cherokee, but I've actually never seen any tribe wear so much pink. Still, nobody was complaining when she came to work today, giving her typical Indian war cry: "Daddy!"

We're getting ready for the Voyage here at children's church -that's a whole month of Pilgrims, Indians, and of course turkeys. It's going to be a really fun series, as Daddy loves this time of year. It'll be fun dressing up as a Pilgrim and chasing turkeys! That's a word Madison is quite familiar with: "turkey!" When she sees one, she makes sure everyone knows what it is. She also knows the word "Indian," although it is harder for her to say. Right now, she says "In-ee-an."


Here it is above, the logo for our new series. I've written the whole thing based on the Pilgrims, following their adventure across the ocean to the terrible winter to the blessing of running into Squanto and other helpful Indians. Obviously, we have a service or two about the big feast too! We can find parallels with Joseph, with Abraham - and we of course hit all sorts of scriptures about being thankful.

The devotional I wrote for this series is one of my favorite things I've written, where I imagine Thanksgiving Town. A little context: In the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas," the main character encounters a circle of trees in the forest, each with a different holiday logo on it. Each door is a entrance that takes you to a different town - and each of those places is responsible for helping create the different holidays. Imagine for a moment, the door to Thanksgiving town...


You’ve probably wondered where holidays come from.

If you haven’t, I’d say that it’s time you begun!


In a circle of trees just outside of town

is a tree with a turkey on it, orange, red and brown.


This is an entrance, and through it you’ll bound

smack into a place called Thanksgiving Town.


There you’ll see everyone working right now

to make this Thanksgiving the best they know how.


There’s Pilgrims and Indians who make candy corn

and a large cornucopia that’s shaped like a horn.


The Indians are grateful for the harvest God’s given.

The Pilgrims are thankful – they think this is heaven!


Indeed, they’re just happy and pleased they can be

where no one’s ungrateful for the things that they see.


Yes everyone there counts their blessings each hour.

For a bit of relaxing, they board the Mayflower


and set sail out to sea, to see what’s around

but they always return back to Thanksgiving Town.


For this year they’re planning a great celebration

(Thanksgiving to them ain’t just any occasion).


If you’re there you can watch them prepare a parade

with ginormous balloons that the citizens made.


But Thanksgiving gatherings are never complete

without the great feast that they can’t wait to eat.


Just a few days to go – table’s still being set

full of stuffing, potatoes and cranberries I bet!


With turkey and gravy and the tastiest dressings,

it’s a bountiful harvest displaying God’s blessings.


Of course they all know that it’s not about food.

If you accuse them of that, you might seem quite rude!


No, wherever you’re from, and at whatever latitude,

Thanksgiving Town’s message to us is of gratitude.


The people who live there, they have it all year.

We ought to do likewise and be thankful here.



Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Decor

Fall is here in full swing, and the air is getting crisp - if not downright chilly outside. Actually, tonight there is supposed to be frost on the ground and tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 20's in the mountains. So perhaps the fall weather will be pretty brief, as we find ourselves dressing up for the cold snap. Mommy has decorations in the front of the house, including this nice wreath and a piece of decoration that has a scarecrow on it. We've also got mums out there as well.
Also in the front yard is our garden flag, which changes from season to season. This one here is for fall - which we put up immediately after the Halloween one and before the Thanksgiving one. There's a Christmas flag, a Valentine's Day flag, a St. Patrick's Day flag, an Easter flag and a lot more. We've got plenty of them, all of which Daddy and Mommy have been collecting over the past few years. Mommy loves to have the house nicely decorated for each season or holiday, including of course, Chinese New Year. Though we're just moving in and there's boxes everywhere and evidence of a family just starting to settle in, Mommy is good to make sure the holiday decor goes up in time - and the house looks great too!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Return to the Pink Pig

After a few chores were complete, we found ourselves making plans to return to the Pink Pig. In fact, you can see here how Mommy dressed Madison up in pink so she'd fit right in. Madison remembered the Pink Pig, repeating that from time to time as we drove from place to place in the afternoon. It was the usual sort of drudgery: bills to send off at the post office, a check to pick up, a visit to the bank, more visits to the old house to pick up things, etc. But once we went to the Pink Pig, all that changed - because Madison got excited. It's a Christmas tradition now, one that she's done for the past three years (just as long as Mommy and Daddy have been doing it). Last year was incredibly crowded because it was opening day. And though the festivities and atmosphere were exciting, we tend to prefer avoiding crowds. That's why this year's visit was pretty nice for us. Take a look:


There was hardly anyone there this afternoon when we arrived. We actually had one train ride all to ourselves! Madison was delighted! The employees there were very kind, and let her wander around the front of the train to pose for a few photos, although it was hard to get her to stop and pose because she was so happy to be there. Here's Mommy and Madison on the Pink Pig, all to themselves:


Madison had a great time, and when we were finished, we walked through Lenox Mall and had dinner at California Pizza. The decorations weren't up at the mall yet - or rather, there were very few decorations up at all if that's what they're doing this year. But the Pink Pig makes up for pretty much any lack of decorations. It's hard to explain unless you've ridden it, and even then there's a lot you don't quite understand. But seeing Madison smiling at the pig and all the pink Christmas trees makes it a fun trip to make once a year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

These Can Be Yours!


Some furniture simply didn't make the cut at our new house. These two items won't be making the trip over, but not to worry: they found a home elsewhere! Madison is seen here posing for a picture we sent to a coworker, advertising for some free furniture if she wants to come get it. The picture was so cute, we decided to post it here!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown


Despite a flat tire, Daddy went off to vote this morning, hoping that this election's results would be his cup of tea. Just because it was election day, we plugged in a copy of "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown" on the television this morning for Madison to watch. She likes Snoopy the best, but seriously: who doesn't?

It was a blissful morning at our new house. The new routine is that Madison will call out to us, and then come into the bed with us to snuggle for a bit. The guest bedroom's bed is so comfy, we rest there for a while before Daddy gets up to get Mommy some tea. It's Daddy's one big chance to serve her in some way - after all, she usually does everything else for Daddy.

The house is quiet in the morning - it's a quiet neighborhood. Daddy puts on some light music as a backdrop, and we enjoy each other's company for a bit until Daddy has to go to work.

Tonight, we had play practice for a while, but came home and set up a fire in the fireplace - and watched another Christmas movie: "A Mom for Christmas." How nice to snuggle down together and watch a Christmas movie. We've started our Christmas movies officially - beginning yesterday with "Mickey Saves Santa," basically an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club that Madison wanted to watch.

After bedtime, we watched the computer for election returns - it looks like we have the real Deal for Georgia Governor: Nathan Deal is our new governor. The neat thing about this year's Georgia election is that both our Governor and Lt. Governor are from Hall County, which is the first time in history these two elected positions have been from the same county. And it happens to be our home county, which is pretty cool!


This was the fifth time we voted this year, and fortunately, it appears as if there are no run-offs. Voter fatigue was definitely setting in. Next time we vote though, we'll be voting at a different polling place in a new county. Hopefully, Madison will still get the stickers...!