Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Betsy Bear's Turn on the Ice

Here's a scan of Madison's latest coloring effort from church yesterday. The heart is pink on the bear's sweater, but the bear itself is green. I think this may have something to do with a fit of jealousy towards another ice skating bear - some sort of commentary on the overly competitive world of figure skating. Or it could be that there wasn't a brown crayon nearby.

Today was a day of rest and clean-up, though we did make a special trip down to the Mall of Georgia late in the day. There, we picked up the new lithographs for "Tangled," and got Madison some new t-shirts - and an umbrella that she adores. While down there, we also ate at PF Chang's again. Great meal! Not-so-great service this time around. Our waiter kept disappearing for long periods of time, and we were beginning to think he was in the kitchen, trapped under some large appliance.

Afterwards, we got home and practiced our letters a bit. We have a game with letters and objects that begin with those words. Madison was practicing the letter F again today, this time getting a little better. We just have to sit with her and run through these things again and again.

It was such a cold day. This weekend was so nice, and yet we couldn't get out to play. Now that we had a chance, the weather turned miserable. Oh well, I suppose we'll have plenty of opportunities for playtime later. Today was all about staying indoors and seeing what we could get done.

At bedtime, there was yet another story that involved the largest snowball fight in human history. It featured all of the Disney Princesses, stuffed animals, 100-Acre Wood characters and United States Presidents. And more. This snowball fight was huge, I tell you. And Madison loved it.


Tonight before bed, Madison chose this story, and not Daddy. Just wanted to make that clear! This is an unusual tale about a crocodile named Lyle that is a pet to a family that lives in the big city. One of their neighbors, Mr. Grumpy, does not like Lyle. With a name like "Mr. Grumpy," it's a good bet that you're bound not to like something. Yet, how many cat owners would be pleased to see a large crocodile loose in the neighborhood? I would argue that nearly any cat owner would be somewhat justified in this regard. Yet, the reader is in on the fact that Lyle is not your standard crocodile. Lyle is a kind, friendly crocodile that wouldn't eat a cat. Instead, Lyle spends his time singing and dancing. And even rescuing people from fires. Lyle is a good crocodile, as opposed to one of those naughty ones that stays behind bars in the zoo. Mr. Grumpy sees the error of his bad judgment at the end of the book, of course, and all is well. Lyle can spend as long as he wants with his family. So long as he doesn't eat any of the children.

Madison enjoyed Daddy reading this story, and also enjoyed the artwork upon each page. It is certainly a different sort of book, which is why Daddy picked it up in the first place. I recommend this to pretty much anyone, except those who have suchophobia.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fleece as White as Snow

You can see this blanket that Madison has recently become attached to. She's had it for quite some time - but as of late she's been carrying it around and having it in bed with her. It is in the shape of a lamb, and something that we've had as long as we've had Madison: we actually received this in Nanning, China. Daddy remembers one of our many breakfasts at the Majestic Hotel (also known as the Mingyuan Xindu Hotel). Madison, Mommy and Daddy were eating dragon fruit and tater tots (part of a balanced breakfast!). We were eating more food than that - I think there was congee around as well, but there were some other good foods too. We always had enough to eat - it's just that there were occasionally some unusual items on the buffet. The dragon fruit was one of Daddy's favorites, and we found it really funny that there we got tater tots for breakfast, halfway across the world. This was not long after "Napoleon Dynamite," which made tater tots one of the cooler things to have on a menu. You going to eat your tots?

Anyway, as we were having one of our first meals together, another adoptive family came into the hotel restaurant. They were returning to China to adopt another girl, and they were also bringing along another daughter that they had previously adopted from China. It was this daughter who was saving up money, and wanted to give Madison - and all the other little girls - a special gift. It was a lamb blanket that we've held onto ever since. It is a very special gift, one that we've treasured for a few years now. It's neat to see Madison with it so often now, because it brings back wonderful memories of our adventure of a lifetime.

Today was a big day at church, one where Madison visited for the second service. It is always such a joy to see Mommy and Madison walk in the office, and today was no different. Mommy went to be prayed for upstairs, as today's service marked the end of the fasting. To that extent, there was much rejoicing and eating of chocolates and so forth.

Mommy and Daddy didn't do much of that when we got home from church, though. It was such a pretty day outside, but we didn't have the strength to do much, as we were pretty busy. We just collapsed on the couch and pretty much fell asleep. However, we got up a little later, because it was time to return to church. There was another service tonight, one that Mommy and Daddy actually got to sit and enjoy without having to work - so we left Madison with Ye-Ye and Nana for a bit.

Madison had a great time there. Ye-Ye and Nana endured a few episodes of Strawberry Shortcake, which Madison was enthralled with. I'm treading carefully in that direction right now: we don't want to have to go out and collect a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake stuff, and yet Madison clearly really likes the fruity girl. One neat thing is this: there was a Strawberry Shortcake bicycle donated to Madison last year, one that she hasn't seen yet. Ye-Ye and Nana have it in their basement, and we'll be giving it to her soon when the weather starts getting warmer. That'll be a really great moment!


1.30.11: We've got some sprouts and leaves on the top of his head now, and Shrek's hair seems to be getting fuller. This probably accounts for the big grin you see on his face with this frontal shot. Again, I can't stress enough how brilliant Mommy was by suggesting we plant some seeds in his nose!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Minimalist Wrestlers

Madison handed me her latest artwork, as pictured above. Clearly, she's entered her minimalist phase. Her drawings handed out to other people around the office were more complex - that is to say they had more scribbles.

I'd say I was jealous, but each time I look at the picture above, I begin to appreciate it more and more. It says so much about the world today, about spirituality and how we treat each other. When you look at it, do you see a dove taking flight? Or a fly caster's rod launching out over tranquil waters? Or maybe it is just some scribbles? I'm sure people on that top floor of the High Museum ask these same exact questions every day.

Storytime at night seems to be getting to be a regular thing now, as Madison has been asking for it the last couple of nights. It's fun, and who am I to deny her? Tonight we were on a magic carpet ride with Jasmine. We went to China and met Mulan for a Chinese New Year celebration. It was fun - there was a big parade with fireworks, lion dancers, and giant dancing ballerina bears who could do a perfect arabesque.

She was so full of energy when Daddy got home. It was like Wrestlemania as soon as I walked in the door. She came across the room and tried to clothesline Daddy, who responded with a Oicho Throw on the couch. But Madison wasn't going to give up, as she rebounded off the couch like wrestlers do off the elastic ropes in a ring. She came across the room with a secret weapon move called the "Flying Butt Pliers." Daddy was pinned momentarily, but was able to escape her hold by distracting the referee and tickling Madison's armpits (clearly a violation of rules, but the ref was looking the other way). Daddy tried to make a break for it to the other side of the living room, but Madison charged forward with her special attack move, the Banishing Fists. Daddy was helpless to block as she grabbed hold of him and did a Spinning Pile Driver. The fans loved it!

But Daddy wasn't done yet. His energy meter still had some left, as he got on top of Madison with the Wind-of-the-Land Double Squat, followed by a Figure Four. He laughed maniacally as the crowd booed. He was planning on doing a Flapjack Bell Rake, a Cross Chicken Powerbomb, or maybe even a Back Mandible Suplex.

Yet Madison was on top of her game today, slipping out of the hold and before Daddy knew it, he was falling victim to a Cobra Clutch, followed by an Argentine Leg Lock. And that was pretty much all she wrote. Things were looking really bad for Daddy, especially after Madison did a Fireman's Carry Rolling Body Slam and put Daddy into a Tree of Woe to finish him off.

Completely exhausted, Daddy suggested, "You win! You win! How about we just watch a movie?"

Madison's answer was to tackle Daddy some more!

"Ok. Orphans! Listen to Ignacio. I know it is fun to wrestle. A nice piledrive to the face... or a punch to the face... but you cannot do it. Because, it is in the Bible not to wrestle your neighbor."
- Nacho Libre

Friday, January 28, 2011

Maddie and Mater

Today was a busy day for Mommy, Daddy and Madison at work - here's a picture of Mommy and Madison calling Daddy on Skype. Madison jumps up onto Mommy's lap when she hears Daddy's voice on the computer. The two sit and talk to me at work, and soon enough others in the office come over to see Madison as well. It's like a conference call!

Tonight, Madison wanted to see Mater. Not entirely sure what brought that on, but after dinner, we plugged in the new "Mater's Tall Tales." Mater is the tow truck you see below.

He's actually a really great character in the movie "Cars," and we're anxious to see him again when he shows up in "Cars 2" later this summer. Until then, "Mater's Tall Tales" is a well-done and really funny DVD that we all like watching. It's several mini-stories about Mater and Lightning McQueen, all with different unique themes. Great stuff!

Tonight before bed, Madison wanted to hear another story. I suppose we'll have to start a new section up on this blog entitled "Madison's Bedtime Stories."

Once upon a time, Princess Madison and Princess Belle were having a picnic nearby a lovely wheat field under a blue sky.

Suddenly, they heard a roar like nothing they ever heard before! It was a truck engine - belonging to Mater the Tow Truck.

"Dagum!" he said, as he saw the two Princesses. "I'm going to need some help. Can y'all come with me for a bit?"

Princess Belle and Princess Madison thought it might be fun, so they said, "Sure!"

At which point a cable swung around from Mater's backside and hoisted the two princesses up into the air - and back onto Mater's back.

"You'd better hold on back there," Mater warned. And then he sped off with the two princesses clinging tightly behind him.

They drove past the wheat fields and into a desert, where soon they found themselves at Radiator Springs.

As they drove into town, everyone gathered to see the beautiful princesses riding with Mater. There were great cheers and warm smiles all around!

"Good to meet you," the sheriff told them. He was a car too, an old Mercury Club Coupe, and he was very nice to the two princesses. "I'm the sheriff around here and I wanted to share something with you. We've got ourselves an interesting problem here. Seems there's something wild up there in a big cave in Carburetor Canyon. Crazy noises are coming from the cave that sound mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky. Some folks say it might even be ... haunted! Can you help us?"

The princesses nodded. They'd do their best, but they weren't entirely sure what that was.

"What's going on in that cave?" Princess Madison asked.

"Only one way to show you," Mater replied. "Let's get on up there ourselves."

"Good luck," the sheriff told them - and watched Mater drive off again towards the creepy cave.

Mater drove carefully along the curvy road, straight towards Carburetor Canyon. He pointed his tow cable upwards and told them, "There it is! Up yonder!"

The princesses looked upwards along a rock face and saw a large cave, dark and mysterious.

"What's in there?" Princess Belle asked.

"Don't know," Mater told them. "But it sure gets noisy."

As if on cue, there was a tremendous roar that echoed inside the cave.

"Dagum!" Mater exclaimed!

"Let's get closer," Princess Madison said bravely.

So they did. Mater drove them upwards, shaking all the way until he reached the mouth of the large cave.

"It sure is dark in there," Mater announced.

The princesses got off of Mater's back and walked along side him a moment.

"I think I can do something about that," Princess Belle said.

This is the point where she pulled out her famous mirror. This mirror was given to her by Beast, and could show her anything or anyone ... anywhere.

She pointed the mirror towards the cave entrance and told the mirror, "Show me...the sun!"

Suddenly, a bright light shone out from the mirror and illuminated the entire cave! It was as if it were daylight inside that cave.

"Let's take a peek inside," Mater told them.

Cautiously, the three walked into the cave, looking all about.

"What could be making all that noise?" Princess Madison asked.

Suddenly, as if to answer, there was a tremendous roar once more! The three looked to their left and saw a huge dump truck, simply covered with mud and dirt. He was so dirty, his windshield eyes were nearly covered! He looked miserable!

He revved his engines threateningly, and the three backed up slowly. But he wasn't through - he wanted to scare them off! That would explain why he raced forward towards them, as if he were going to run them over. Uh-oh!

Fortunately, Belle pointed her mirror at the charging dump truck. The bright sunlight coming from her mirror completely blinded him for a few moments. He stopped dead in his tracks, and yelped!

"Awww," the dump truck said. "Why'd you have to go and do a thing like that?"

"You were going to run us over," Princess Madison said.

"I'm just trying to scare you off," the dump truck replied.

"Why are you in such a rotten mood?" Madison asked.

"Because I lost my magic windshield wiper fluid!"

Mater said, "You lost you're what?"

The dump truck explained: "I lost my magic windshield wiper fluid, and my eyes are all covered up and irritated. That's why I'm in this dark cave. That's why I'm cranky!"

Madison asked him, "Where did you lose it?"

The dump truck slowly rolled over towards a crack in the wall of the cave.

"I dropped it and it rolled away," he said. "Right in there, deep in the crevice. It is such a tight squeeze in there that I can't get to it. And now, I'm afraid I'm going blind!"

The large dump truck started to cry.

Princess Belle shined her mirror light into the crack, and just as the dump truck said, there inside the tight crevice was a bottle of windshield wiper fluid. On the front of it was a label that said, "MAGIC."

"Perhaps we can reach it," Belle suggested. She put her arm into the crack in the cave wall - but unfortunately, it was too far of a reach.

Next, Princess Madison tried. But she too could not reach the bottle.

But Mater confident. "Back up, gals," he announced boldly.

And with that, he swung his tow cable out - and deep into the crevice. His cable went all the way in, further than anyone could reach! Sure enough, he connected with the bottle, which he began to drag back out of the crevice.

"You've got my bottle of magic windshield wiper fluid," the dump truck gleefully shouted.

"All in a day's work," Mater said, and the princesses laughed.

The dump truck then opened his hood, and Princess Madison climbed up, putting the magic windshield wiper fluid inside. Soon, he was spraying his own eyes, and soon he could see clearly! He was clean again!

"I don't know how to thank you," he told them.

"How about you give us a ride back to town?" Princess Belle suggested.

"Sure thing, ladies!"

"What's your name, by the way?" Princess Madison asked.

"You can call me Doug," he replied. "Hop on back!"

So the princesses did just that. Soon, he was riding them back to Radiator Springs, with Mater driving just behind.

There was a big celebration for them that night. Right down the main road, there was a big parade with all the cars and all sorts of fancy music. It was perfectly wonderful. Even the big dump truck was dancing all about.

But soon it was time for everyone to go to sleep. A car named Sally let them stay at the Cozy Cone Motel for free, where there was a special room just for people like Princess Madison and Princess Belle.

"Goodnight Princesses," the dump truck said. "Thank you again!"

"G'night girls," Mater told them, as he started to head back to his place. "Had a load of fun!"

"Good night!" they replied.

The two went to their beds, said their prayers and lay down for a good night's rest, happy with today's adventures in Radiator Springs.

The End

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And They're Off

Ba-Ba and Nana left a little early today, as the weather once again was too cold to do anything productive at the old house. Really, the last big tasks are involve some paint and a clean garage - but when it was 28 degrees again this morning, the decision was made to make the trip back to the safety and warmth of Florida, where it's about 39 at night, but in the 60's in the afternoon. That'll feel downright balmy when it happens here. We've been submerged into this chilly temperature so long that it takes a hot bath and a bowl of soup to help warm us up!

Here Madison is, petting Daisy as they sit in the same chair. Madison gets along with Velcro and Daisy, and will miss them as they go off to Florida. By the way, do you notice the hula skirt? Madison has been into a hula kick the last three days! Clearly, she's ready for that warmer weather as well! Hopefully we'll be seeing some soon. One sure way to find out if there'll be warmer weather coming soon is the trip we hope to take next week to see the Groundhog! February 2 is Groundhog Day, and if there's one rodent you can trust to give you a good forecast, that's the one!

Today, we spent much of the day fixing up the house - at one point, Daddy and Madison made a trip to get some groceries and a movie, "Secretariat." We'll watch that tonight, probably. We got a big coupon for the movie from Disney Movie Rewards, which puts out these $8-10 coupons for new releases. This is a neat program where you get Disney movies and save up points. The whole reason I bring it up is that Madison's Tinkerbell television set came from Disney Movie Rewards, at no cost to us (other than getting Disney movies that we were planning on already getting). We've gotten other things for Madison, along the way. In fact, we got a television for her cousin Hannah as well. There are other opportunities we take advantage of too, like donating to children's hospitals and so forth. Next week, we've got a $10 coupon for "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2," which Madison seems excited about. Though I am not typically into talking dog movies, Madison, Mommy and Daddy will have fun with movie night for this one.

It was a rather ordinary day today. We read to Madison a few books in her newly designed reading area. The rocking chair from her bedroom at the old house fits perfectly in the corner on the landing. Bookshelves nearby make this area nice and cozy for reading, which we did.

One book we read through is entitled "A is for Amos." It is a book about a dream that follows the alphabet through each page. A little girl falls asleep on her rocking horse, which becomes a real horse galloping across the land. The artwork is nice, as is the thought of riding about on horseback. The bonus, of course, is that we go through each letter of the alphabet and the two encounter different animals and situations. Madison enjoyed this one - it's nothing terribly deep, but it's a good quick read.

1.27.11: As you can see clearly here, Shrek's hair replacement therapy is paying off. From what I recall, this is the same procedure Elton John went through a few years ago. Yes, it's affecting Shrek's nose hairs as well, but he's got to be feeling better about himself now. Certainly a little less insecure. Finally, the seedlings atop of his head are beginning to sprout - although there are still holdouts. We'll keep you posted, but until then, it's time for us to ...leaf.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This morning we awoke refreshed after another magnificent trip to Neverland. But it is easy to go back, thanks to Mommy - and thanks to our latest selection in Madison's Book Club.


Above you can see a picture of Neverland, one that can be found in a recent release, "Peter Pan." This is a special little book. It is a shortened version of the classic story by J.M. Barrie, this time written by Peter Pan experts Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Those of you unfamiliar with these guys should get to know them now, especially if you are fans of Peter Pan. These are the two that have written the most excellent series starting with "Peter and the Starcatchers." These are four books that are insanely hard to put down. Madison is much too young for them now, but Daddy can't wait to share them with her when she's older.

In the meantime, this book will do very nicely. It is simple, and tells a story of Peter Pan, and does so with the original artwork of Mary Blair, one of Daddy's favorite artists. Her style can be seen in the original cartoons "Alice in Wonderland," "Cinderella" and "Peter Pan," and you can see her influence at Disney World with the artwork inside "It's a Small World" and the huge mural inside the Contemporary Resort.

So it goes without saying that the artwork inside this book is fantastic. The telling of the story is done rather well too, as Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have a quirky way of describing things from time to time, which is usually pleasantly amusing. Of course, the story is told quite simply - the real value of the book is found in each page's artwork. We've read this book before, but this week after the play we will be reading it again. Daddy got this book for his birthday, but it is one that we both share: Madison enjoys going back to Neverland as Daddy reads her this story, and whenever I open this book, I don't mind spending some time there myself.

Mommy kept the Neverland theme going today when she printed out several coloring sheets from "Peter Pan" today, and Madison spent some of her time coloring them in. She got Tinkerbell's dress right - and maybe her wings. The rest of the coloring might be a bit avant-guard. But if it worked for Jackson Pollock, it might work here. You could look to see this and some more of Madison's masterworks hanging at the High Museum in Atlanta some day. Until then, all of her colorings have found a happy home on our refrigerator, one above the other like some sort of colorful Neverland wallpaper. I love having a scanner: it gives us the ability to show off Madison's handiwork whenever we can. Also, we can preserve her artwork to share, although museum aficionados would probably rather see her creations in person - in order to see the bold textures of those audacious strokes. Such emotion with every thrust of the crayon! It should be added that the internal dynamic of the purity of line verges on codifying the inherent overspecificity. Simply put, although I am not a painter, I think that the subaqueous qualities of the purity of line makes resonant the distinctive formal juxtapositions. Don't you agree?

Mommy found some other crafts to do with Madison as well, and the two spent some quality time together making a pinwheel, and a stand-up Tinkerbell as well. Daddy noted it appears as if we've gone from Wonderland to Neverland. Madison was still quite happy about last night's adventure: we were looking through the program book this morning, reliving certain moments and laughing.

"One time I went to a museum where all the work in the museum had been done by children. They had all the paintings up on refrigerators."
-Steven Wright

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peter Pan

So tonight was the big night when we returned to Neverland. We've been looking forward to this one for quite some time, as the show looked rather unique. It doesn't hurt that we're all big Peter Pan fans, especially Madison. The other night, Daddy did another bedtime story where Madison flew through the air, out the window and off to Neverland. She was so into that!

Tonight, however, was even more magical. Madison slept on the trip down to Atlanta, so she was quite awake for the performance. This was our first time at Pemberton Place, which is right beside the Georgia Aquarium and the Coke Museum. It was nice - and it was small too. We arrived rather early, and found a pleasant place inside to sit and relax, and eat pretzels. But soon it was time for the show to begin!

Look at them fly across the sky. Madison can name each one of these characters, and in fact pulled out her program booklet as if it were field guide for identifying them. She was so very much into "Peter Pan." Madison was quite literally on the edge of her seat for most of the play, staring intently at the action on the stage - or above the stage. She laughed a lot at Tinkerbell, and a few times got other people laughing because Madison's laugh can be quite contagious! The show involved a 360 screen above all of us - and behind us too. This thing went all the way to the back of the tent and up to the middle, where a large enough hole existed in order to suspend the actors from. Take a look - everything you see colored at the top of the photo below is an animated nighttime scene from Neverland:

It was a marvelous effort, this production. All three of us enjoyed it highly. Mommy loved it, as did Daddy. The highlight could have easily been the characters flying over London on their way to Neverland, although the appearance of the pirates got everyone pretty excited.
We didn't bring a camera, so Daddy snapped this souvenir photo with the cell phone. This was taken as we were first getting seated. As you can see, Madison is holding her field guide! She sat in her own seat for most of the production. We didn't even have to bribe her with food to stay still! On the way home tonight, she stayed awake most of the journey, even though it was quite late. She was processing all she saw: the giant crocodile, mermaids, the Indians, the pirates, and the Lost Boys. It was a special night for Madison, who is hopefully now happily dreaming of flying over Neverland with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan.

Soon Daddy will be dreaming too - it's late as we type this, but the pleasant news is that we are now sleeping in our master bedroom. This morning was our first morning waking up in our master bedroom. Ah, to have a great bed again! The room is spacious and it is so comfortable. Early on, we heard the pitter patter of Madison's feet running down the hall. When she gets up, she doesn't trudge down the hall - she runs full speed. This time, she remembered what we told her: "Now Mommy and Daddy are in the big bedroom." Sure enough, she came in and found us there - and hopped into bed with us. It was so nice and cozy.

Today was a dreary, rainy day. At least it wasn't ice. That was the potential forecast early on, and we were fearful of another drive like the one we did two weeks ago on our journey to see "Beauty and the Beast." Still, it was not an overly pleasant day to be outside. In fact, you might have heard others exclaiming how perfectly dreadful it was.

Still, despite work and rain, it has been a marvelous sort of day. Even cold wind and rain couldn't erase that warm, happy feeling inside. Should we ever run across pixie dust, and ever need to think of a happy thought, I suppose the memory of today would do rather nicely.

"The guy did a Peter Pan right off of this dam, right here."
- Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moving Day

Big day today! This morning, Madison started early by getting us up at 6:30 am, for no apparent reason. Still, we had to get up early because we had an appointment to get the big furniture moved from the old house to the new house.

While we waited, we read books together and played with the dollhouse a bit. But soon enough, the moving truck arrived and it was time to go to work.

As usual, Madison was her useful self, unafraid of assisting with ginormous pieces of furniture. Here she is, helping one of the movers below:

She's so very happy to tear off that shrink wrap because underneath is her work desk. As he helped her take it all off, she beamed with joy. "Thank you!" she said with such sincerity that the movers were very amused. Madison entertained everyone, so much so that they had to go visit her one last time before leaving - just to say goodbye!

Madison enjoyed seeing her furniture come in very much, and the rooms look very nice now. The furniture seemed so much larger in the old house, and yet in these new rooms there is more space to maneuver. We've all been quite happy to see it come today, actually.

There's a lot to unpack, but that will be our adventure for 2011, won't it?

Tonight before bed, we watched "Peter Pan," the live action movie from a few years ago. It was to prepare Madison somewhat for tomorrow's big show. Really looking forward to it - we'll be sure to write about it tomorrow. The three of us were quite tired, but content as we snuggled on the couch and took a quick visit to Neverland.

How nice... tonight we sleep in our own master bedroom for the first time, back in our most excellent bed! Goodnight!

1.24.11: Madison shouted out "growing" when she saw Shrek this morning, so we took a picture of it as soon as we could. The last two days have been a sudden burst of sprouting for Shrek's hair, though you can clearly see here that he has a receding hairline. It must be genetic, although this is only a hypothesis. Based on our scientific observations, at this point our theory is that people get bald up top because their head isn't filled with enough water. Shrek's nose hairs seem to be doing just fine though!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dr. Tinkerbell

Madison gave all of us check-ups today, using her doctor's kit complete with a stethoscope, otoscope, and a sphygmomanometer. You may have to look those last two up!

The funny part is that she did all of this dressed up as Tinkerbell, complete with wings. She came down the stairs all dressed up as if to say, "ta-da!" Then she showed us her medical bag and we knew it was time to make sure everyone was healthy. Madison's favorite part of the checkup is giving us all a shot. She even gives a little countdown before injecting the imaginary vaccine into our arm. Then comes the fun part: the band aid. She checks for temperature, and gives us the all clear. Don't worry - she doesn't ask about insurance or anything like that.

She's very into the details of the procedure, and after giving the four of us a thorough checkup, she then visited the other stuffed animals in the room to make sure each was healthy and well. First, she made a housecall to Mr. Peanut, who I'm happy to report got a clean bill of health. Pictured here is Lumpy the Elephant (from Winnie the Pooh), who is about to get a shot right on the trunk. Although this is might sting a bit, it's for Lumpy's own good! We don't want anyone in the house getting sick now, do we?

Today: Madison, Mommy, Ba-Ba and Nana spent most of their time at the old house again, fixing it up and preparing it for the market. Daddy spent most of his time at church, working in various functions. It's been a good day, but tomorrow will be a big day for us as the furniture movers will be taking the big stuff over to our new house. Amongst the items: our bedroom furniture. We're excited about staying in our master bedroom now - especially on our bed. Daddy misses that water bed. It was designed by NASA scientists and is easily the most comfortable bed in the entire known universe!

"Very fancy." - Brisco County, Jr.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Jordan

Madison was invited to her friend Jordan's birthday party today, and she had a great time. What an opportunity to run around and chase others - and be chased too! There were balloons, and probably one of the tastiest chocolate cakes in the history of pastry. It was held at the KidPak recreation room, so there was plenty of room and plenty of things to do for everyone. We just got some new air hockey tables in there, so everyone got to test them out before church tomorrow when the rest of the kids will play on them.

Madison found her present for Jordan and was so sweet when she handed it to him. She marched forward with her gift while Jordan was still opening another gift - Madison wanted him to open it up. By the way, it was a Cad Bane action figure. That's a character from the Star Wars universe - the whole theme of Jordan's party was Star Wars, so it was hopefully appreciated!

It was a great time for Madison who got a gift bag with goodies inside, but would have been just as happy simply because she came. She really had a great time!

Now some alert readers may be curious if Mommy and Daddy splurged on the cake. As tempting as it looked, we're happy to report that we did not eat a bit of it. We're highly disciplined, thanks to the new Fastomatic 300. What is the Fastomatic 300, you ask? Check out this commercial, filmed entirely in our new kitchen!

You should have heard Madison giggling the whole time we filmed this. She was loving the whole process - the raw footage has a lot of her laughter in it. She herself is somewhat of a church actress, as she's been in some videos we've shown to all the kids. The star of this one though is our friend Josh, who also edited it together so well.

We've filmed another fasting video recently, filmed at the church mostly. It features Daddy as a fasting violator, and it has a bit of humor in it too. It's called "Fasting Police."

We've got a big day tomorrow at church. Can you believe we're already having auditions for our upcoming Easter Drama? It's at the end of April, and yet we're getting a start right now. It'll be a loooooong day...!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Say Cheese

There's a big game this weekend with the Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears. We tend to cheer for any team that has fans who put cheese on their heads. A similar line of reasoning has me cheering for the Detroit Redwings, whose fans throw octopi on the ice after significant goals.

This picture is from over a year ago, when we first brought Madison back with us from China. We were doing a football series then, and had purchased a cheese hat to show something that real fans would wear. Ever since, I've been getting emails from Green Bay. You can see here from this picture that Madison enjoyed putting cheese on her head, so maybe she'll be a Green Bay fan. Although they did beat the Falcons this year in the playoffs, so that just might not be the best team to be cheering for at the moment.

Speaking of "cheese," it's funny when you take a picture of Madison now. She automatically says, "cheese!" Of course, it's not the whole word yet. It's more like: "eeeeese." Her mouth goes into fake smile mode and her eyes look off anywhere but into the lens, and she blurts out, "eeeeese!" Obviously, sometimes it is a challenge to catch just the right photo with her. But she's such a pretty little girl, it doesn't matter!

Today Madison spent most of her time at the old house once again. Fortunately, her television and DVD player are there - along with some assorted toys. Otherwise, there's not much to do other than help Mommy, Ba-Ba and Nana clean up the house. They've been painting a lot lately, and still clearing things out.

This afternoon, Mommy made arrangements with a moving company for Monday, so we'll be seeing some of the big, heavy stuff make it's way over to our house. Next week, we'll actually be sleeping in our bedroom for the first time. Up until now, we've been making use of the guest room - and occasionally the futon downstairs when Ba-Ba and Nana are here.

No matter where we are, Madison's footsteps are easily heard early in the morning, running after us. She jumps into bed with us and for the next hour, the three of us snuggle under the blankets. It's been cold lately, so perhaps I can understand. The forecast for next week, by the way, calls for more snow. Even without the snow, it's been cold. Right now it is 28 degrees outside, with a slight wind. Brrrr!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Letter A

This morning, Madison has said her biggest word yet: "banana." She's able to say a lot of words, and have us understand them - but this one she said quite clearly. We had her say "ba," and then "nana," and the rest is history. She said, "banana!" And she didn't stop giggling! We were all very happy - as of late, we've made some great advances with our own version of speech therapy.

The advances didn't stop there. Tonight, Daddy asked her to write the letter A on a tiny magnetic writing toy. Here's what she did for us!

Daddy was so proud of her that we took a photo of her first real letter. Of course, she can draw an "O" too. That one is easy: it's just a circle!

1.20.11: Madison is seen here checking out the green sprouts coming out of the back of Shrek's head - and his nose too. There's some serious growth, the lower you go on the head. This proves that the lower altitudes of the Shrek hemisphere are clearly more conducive for chia goodness.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cruising Along

With more than a casual interest, we watched the christening of the new Disney cruise ship, "The Disney Dream" this morning. It was interesting watching the traditional prayer over the ship, and watching characters such as Mickey, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear bow their heads as the reverend prayed over the ship.

The ceremony entertained Madison, who was able to watch it with us live on our computer at the house - a unique experience. All the Disney Princesses were there, which added to her excitement about it. We've been chatting about doing a Disney Cruise again, now that Madison is old enough to really appreciate it. One thing we haven't had an opportunity to do with Madison is take her to a proper beach on the ocean, which is something we could do at Castaway Cay. That'd be her first time at a real beach.

We've done a Disney Cruise before, and we've done other cruise lines as well. You can imagine that we would tend to pick the Disney one as our favorite. It was a few years ago that Ye-Ye and Nana bought the entire family cruise tickets, long before Madison was in the works. It was a very special occasion, one we always look back upon fondly.

Hopefully, we'll be able to do it again someday. It is nice to relax on a vacation!

Today, Madison is with Mommy, again unloading the house. Moving stuff back and forth can be such a chore. Lesson learned: don't collect a lot of stuff. Either that, or don't plan on moving!


We've been reading a lot lately - certainly when the snow kept us indoors more so. One book that was appropriate - that we're still reading - is called "Katy and the Big Snow." It is by the author Virginia Lee Burton, who also did "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." Her artwork is unique, and quite detailed. I suppose it can seem dated when matched up against these newer children's books with so much color and modern methods of illustration. The book was made in 1943, yet it is timeless to both Madison and myself. With the flood of children's books out there at full saturation, her books still stand out on a shelf when browsing.

The story is neat too. Madison and Daddy have taken to reading on the couch in the great room as of late. We'll pick about three books - Daddy will select one, and Madison will get two to choose. We'll sit and read, and it's wonderful to see her as excited about reading as she is watching some new television shows.

We sure could have used Katy and her snowplow around here last week with all that snow. Yet, then again, maybe that's why she didn't pop by: she gave us a chance to rest and read more books indoors.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Steps

It is Tuesday, which means it is Goodwill day for Ba-Ba and Nana. Madison and Mommy went along for the trip, and wound up picking up some neat things - amongst them, some cedar plank boards for cooking on. Daddy cannot wait to try out grilling with those! Seriously, this is one aroma that screams, "come and eat!"

Madison got a pink sweater vest, which she was so proud to show Daddy when he got home from work. Yes, there was more work today. But getting home is so much fun when Madison is there waiting. Mommy is waiting too, and they both have a wonderful smile on their faces.

Tonight, we watched some Winnie the Pooh Valentine's Day movies - a little early. But Madison enjoyed them, and is looking forward to the big day. We're coming up on a few February holidays, all in a row: Chinese New Year, Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day. These are going to be fun times for us as parents because we get to do those fun little things as a family that we enjoy so much.

It was a rather uneventful day, except for the fact that Madison seems to have conquered the pronunciation of "baby." For so long, she's struggled with pronouncing both b's in the word, but today she was saying "baby" more frequently and fluently than ever before. There was much rejoicing from all of us!

Earlier for Christmas, we gave her a wand, so today Daddy suggested another "b" word: "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!" But Mommy thinks that just might be a little much! Nevertheless, Madison tries saying it the right way. Baby steps, baby steps!

1.18.11: As you can see, we've got some sproutage. We pointed this out to Madison this morning, showing her how the seeds are growing. Shrek is smiling in this picture, because he's obviously pleased that she's learning a bit about seeds and plant growth here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Newspapers and Boo Stats

Back to the old routine. Eight days later, there's still snow on the ground. Additionally, today is a government holiday, yet still we were able to get out of the house and do some work. We spent most of the day at the old house, moving things to the new one. Lots of boxes and lots of work was done. And there Madison was in the thick of it, helping out as best she could.

Here's a photo of everyone in the morning, getting the game plan together for our big day. Everyone's got their drinks and newspapers - even Madison!

We got quite a bit moved today, but there still is plenty to go. We'll try for that some time this week, and maybe even the large furniture. The goal was to do that last week, but everyone knows what happened last week around here. If not, take a look further back in this blog - we were trapped for a few days!

Madison had an active day today, and went to bed rather early. Ba-Ba, Nana and Mommy are watching "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" on Blu-Ray while Daddy types this up. We've already seen it once or twice, so Daddy isn't in a rush here.

Before I join them, we've discovered one interesting thing about this blog. Obviously, it is written for Madison when she gets older - and anyone who wants to keep up with her goings-ons each day. For this reason, we never expected too many visitors to this site outside of friends and family.

YET, for some reason, Google has mysteriously done something with one of the blog entries from last October called "Boo."

Take a look at this chart:

This shows quite an increase in visitors. In March of 2010, we had a minimal amount of visits on our site, as expected. But as of this writing, we have 49,139 views from all over the world, from Israel to Australia to Ukraine. The reason: anyone who types in "Monsters, Inc." and "Boo" in Google will see this image below.

And if they click on that image, they will visit our site! Seriously, I have honestly no idea why. But welcome anyway to our international visitors. Welcome all to our humble site, "Tea with Mrs. Nesbitt."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ready for Summer

Madison is ready for summer, apparently. Here she is, doing the hula in our livingrooom. Yes, there's still snow on the ground outside. Yet, this morning, her infatuation with Belle has shifted somewhat - to "Lilo & Stitch." She's dancing to the song "He Mele No Lilo," while watching the movie again. Daddy and Mommy have enjoyed the snow this week, although many others were complaining somewhat about being trapped or cold. Yet we were quite content this week, because we got to spend time together. It was a wonderful week.
One thing that started this week was our annual 21 day church fast. It is a public fast, so it's okay to talk about. Mommy has been pretty creative with our diet this week, obviously serving up lots of hot soups. Yummy!

Speaking of getting acquainted with vegetables, one recent series of DVDs that Madison has been enjoying as of late is Veggie Tales.

As written here earlier, we've been with Veggie Tales for quite some time, even collecting videos long before we met Madison. We made our pumpkins like them one year, and even have a couple Christmas CDs that we listened to this year. She's been enjoying them quite a bit the last few months, her favorite right now being "Duke and the Great Pie War."

We've got plenty of these DVDs that we've been collecting for quite some time, so Madison hasn't even watched all of them yet. So this month, as we see more veggies, it's the perfect time for Madison to see more Veggies herself!

This afternoon, we met up with some old friends we haven't seen in a while. Pam was Mommy's maid of honor at our wedding. Andrew was with us at church about that time as well, and it was good to spend some time catching up with them. Obviously, we had Madison with us: that's pretty much all we've been up to the last three years!

The big event of the day though would be the arrival of Baba and Nana from Florida. They timed the trip perfectly, as the ice has largely dried up off of most of the roads. Still, plenty of snow sits on the ground a full week after it first fell. Madison was so excited to see them - she's been looking forward to their arrival for the past week (ever since we first brought up that they were coming). They arrived, just after Daddy finished shoveling a lot of the leftover snow off the driveway - and they brought their pets Velcro and Daisy along as well.

Their trip was easy, though long as usual. One thing they did bring was a new television for the guest room: we can watch videos in the guest room now! We gave them a few Christmas gifts, including a big photo album filled with photos of Madison in it. Also, a calendar with photos in it too. You can never have too many photos of Madison!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Our friend Josh took a few photos of Madison using a Holga 35 mm camera he brought with him to work. Just recently, he emailed the photos this way - I'll share with you a couple below:

The Holga camera is just a plastic toy camera, made in China. The cheap design and simple lens often makes pictures that have vignetting, blur, light leaks, and other unexpected distortions.

These effects can be added with iPhoto to any picture, of course - but the novelty of using this camera and having the negatives turn out that way naturally is much more fun. We haven't tampered with these images at all once they've been developed. It is my understanding that this camera has a "cult following" with photographers. In fact, I'm kind of interested in getting one now!

Anyway, it's been a neat thing to play with the last week or two. We've seen some great images taken with it. The Holga camera is a little plastic camera that takes images "dripping with color, contrast, a slight softness, and a whole lotta soul."