Thursday, March 31, 2011

Piano and Ballet

Again, we returned to our classes today with Madison. Music class is such a treat for Madison, who enjoys just about all of it. Strangely, she's not that into marching around in a parade. There's something about it that she says she "doesn't like," so she chooses to not march while others parade around. Fortunately, that segment doesn't take too long. Actually, none of the segments take too long - each one is short and sweet, and designed to teach a certain aspect about rhythm or the scale, and then suddenly everyone is doing something new. The class just flows along nicely, so that no one gets bored at all - not even the parents!

Ballet class continues as well. As a reminder, our recital is coming up:


Madison's first ballet recital. She was practicing with her basket to retrieve certain items to dance with. As each of her classmates enters, she greets them with a hug - she's quite a social girl. Mommies and Daddies are encouraged to leave the classroom to avoid being a distraction, so this is one of those classes where she's on her own a lot. She does very well, and practices at home with Mommy and even Daddy sometimes. She's a sweetie!

In between classes, it's time for rest. We do some work in our workbooks, but everyone takes a little break too. We made a few quick stops to pick up some items for upcoming birthdays and work, but essentially spent the day at home to catch up on some rest. There's a big weekend coming up, and we want to get our rest now while we can!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Palindrome


“Madison is lovely,” said I.

Unspeakable joy! For God our Father, our thanks. Give hearts our fill: unforgettable love and moments special. Days are blessings – what joy is she! “Wonderful and happy, gleeful and energetic.”
Hallelujah!
"Energetic and gleeful, happy and wonderful.” She is joy! What blessings are days - special moments and love unforgettable fill our hearts. Give thanks, our Father, our God, for joy unspeakable.
I said, “Lovely is Madison."

Palindrome



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Madison's Mighty Mjölnir!

While shopping today, Madison found a mjölnir down aisle seven. Just for kicks, she struck it against a rock - and became Thor, deliverer of thunder! Immediately her powers became clear - she bore a helmet that struck reverent awe in all those who sided with good, and cowering fear in all those who stood for evil. Not only that, but she started using words like "nay" and "thee" a lot, because that's what these legends of Asgard tend to do (it's Norse code). She did like that hammer, or mjölnir, as I like to call it. That'll be the next word we try to get Madison to pronounce. I figure if we can get her to say that, she can say anything!

Tonight we were at the toy store to shop for some props for Under Construction: our new series begins this weekend, and there's still so much to be done. We stopped by the Disney Store to pick up our copy of "Tangled," and got a few other items there as well for the big trip upcoming. They also have these nice bags there that are really cheap. This new grocery store we've been visiting does not have bags - it's a concept to save money on the food. SO, we got some inexpensive bags at the Disney store to carry along. Saving money = good.

Daddy has already begun the "getting to the phone at 7 am to try and make reservations at a restaurant at Disney that is full" plan. No success yet, but getting up early is helping with getting all of these work-related tasks done earlier as well.

Still plenty to do though. Actually, the list is huge. Mommy is consumed with Easter drama details and costuming, and there's the matter of the house for sale. A new series is here already, and the house we're in is in desperate need of straightening up. The weather is still downright chilly outside, so gardening and so forth has been out of the question as of late.

But we'll get to all of these tasks in time. I think everything will fall into place nicely, actually. Including Madison's learning: she's been attacking these workbooks ferociously for the past two weeks, learning numbers and letters and matching and all sorts of different concepts. It's like home school - it really is. The exciting thing is Madison's passion for learning: she wakes up first thing and grabs a work book and hands it to Mommy. Of course, Mommy is like: "let me wake up first, Madison." But soon after, Mommy patiently sits with Madison, and watches amazed as our intelligent daughter tears through page after page of school work.

The only setback is her speech. Yes, everyone else has had a two-year advantage on her. She didn't begin to hear English until she was two years old. She understands everything very clearly - it's just her speech that has been difficult to understand as of late. It can get frustrating at times for all of us, and we're working with her carefully with letters and praying that something clicks.

Until then, for practice, Daddy will keep trying to get her to say mjölnir!

Loki: I... will... have... this... hammer!

Thor: Nay. You shall have its *thunder*!


Aladdin Marathon!

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011
Mommy had a visit with the doctor today, and Daddy had quite a bit of work to catch up with today. What to do? What to do with Madison?



"Aladdin" Marathon! Mommy probably wouldn't approve, but we had ourselves a huge "Aladdin-fest," watching all three "Aladdin" movies back to back. Daddy took time to watch a little with Madison as we played on the couch a bit too. This really makes us look forward to the trip to Disney when we get to see Mickey's PhilharMagic. There's a whole lot of stuff to look forward too, actually!

Mommy got an all-clear from the doctor, which was wonderful. She was also getting with the real estate agent to sell the old house. Lots of paperwork to fill out there - we're praying it sells fast. We'll have that posted here soon.


We did some grocery shopping today - here above is another requirement of Madison if we go shopping. We've got to get in the grocery cart race car. Yes, Daddy and Madison whiz up and down the aisles, weaving all around patrons, showing some serious horse power! Oh yes, we had a need: a need for speed! Once we hit the ignition switch and fired up the engines, that track known as Publix was covered in tire marks!

Mommy puts up with all of this with a smile on her face, of course!

"Once again, this whole broadcast has been brought to you by Sand - it's everywhere, get used to it." - Genie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Drawing Board


Here Madison is with our resident artist Josh, learning to draw a bit. Josh is patiently teaching Madison how to sketch out faces, or other imagery. Here's one example of something Madison drew - it's a picture of Mickey Mouse. You can see Josh's example to the top, and Madison's attempt just below.


It's Madison's first drawing of Mickey Mouse! Okay, so it isn't exactly perfect - but we're more than making up for it today because we've just reserved another trip to Disney World! You read that right: in 42 days, we'll be heading back to Orlando, and to Ye-Ye and Nana. Daddy is already scratching his head trying to figure out how to get to Cinderella's Castle for dinner - here we go again, calling first thing in the morning in order to try to find an opening in order to make a reservation. REALLY want Madison to have a visit to the castle. That should be wonderful.


Here's where we're staying: Port Orleans Riverside. Daddy stayed here back when it was called Dixie Landings. It is a Southern Plantation meets the Bayou sort of theme, which lends itself to all sorts of fun with Madison. We're already considering getting her a Southern Belle costume, and maybe bringing along her overalls for a "Huck Finn" look when we try to go fishing with some pole canes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stormy Weather

Another hail storm had a visit, along with an outrageously loud thunderstorm - yet Madison didn't stir. In fact, she actually slept in - which is highly unusual. The weather has been somewhat odd as of late, and temperature dropping lower than normal. This, combined with the workload of late, has us really wanting a vacation soon. The question is ... where?

The answer should be fairly obvious, knowing us. We'll get to those other educational places later on down the road. Daddy wants to return west, midwest, and even northeast - and eventually back to China again. But for now, Disney and Florida are just fine. One of the things that is always on the menu when you pick a destination such as that: rest. That's what we need - rest.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, Friday


Here Madison is at the office, posing with the girls. They're all pretty pumped because it's Friday, Friday. She had a great time partying, partying (yeah!). Everybody's looking forward to the weekend because it's fun, fun, fun, fun. Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday. We so excited!

If any of that previous paragraph makes no sense to the reader, my apologies. It is largely made up of lyrics from the latest viral video, "Friday," by Rebecca Black. Basically... it's viral because it's bad. The lyrics are - as you can read above - not something you'd see in any book of poetry. Here's one of Daddy's favorite excerpts:

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin')
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after ... wards
I don't want this weekend to end

I happen to like the song. I side with Simon Cowell of American Idol a bit. "Love it!" he said.

But I admit I only like it in the way I enjoy pink flamingoes, velvet paintings and the House on the Rock. It is an odd genre of music, somewhat like what Ed Wood is to movies. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a song that has the same effect, as most bad songs generally tend to annoy me. But this one is fun, fun, fun, fun...

Anyway, we've made our own video - somewhat of a parody. This one's called "Sunday," and we've filmed Madison for a tiny cameo. Hopefully she'll make it into the video!

Full!

THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2011

Madison had a pretty busy day again today, but that's just the way these Thursdays are turning out. We had piano and music class in the morning - and ballet class in the evening. In between, we tried out a new grocery store that just opened in town, along with a visit to Target for some Easter shopping. Oh, and there was a trip to Longhorn Steakhouse somewhere in there too. Madison ate really well when we went out to eat. It's great when you turn to her and ask her if she wants more to eat: she pats her tummy and says, "Full!"

It was very cold today - at least as far as Spring days go. The wind blew hard, and the temperature dropped to about 44 degrees. For this time of year, it was quite chilly!


Just for giggles, above is what you get when you get when you type in Google images: "Tea with Mrs. Nesbitt" and pick large sized images. It's all Madison-type stuff!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Unstoppable

This morning we had an unexpected adventure: there was a runaway train! Yes, it's true. Thomas the Train, through no fault of his own, became a half-mile long freight train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals - essentially an unstoppable missile on train tracks, bearing down on a populated city! As you can see here, Madison, our young conductor, was pitted in a race against time to prevent a cataclysmic disaster! You can see the police cars and fire engines there for back-up support as she attempts a few different ingenious ideas to stop this runaway train. Yet, nothing seems to be working! Time
is very quickly running out!
That's when she gets the unique idea to get another train engine and race to the scene to hook up from behind in a frantic, desperate attempt to slow Thomas down! How courageous! She chased down the runaway train, trying to bring it under control before it could derail at Dead Man's Curve, causing a toxic spill that could decimate an entire town! Out here, this ain't no training. In training, they just give you an F. Out here you get killed! So, did it work? Did her incredibly daring rescue mission save the day? To answer your question, we're all still here alive and well, aren't we? Madison ran that engine down, and kept Thomas from running off the
train tracks.
This morning, we're still looking back on the incident to see what went wrong. You can blame this guy here to the left. Look at him, just standing there, looking downcast amongst the rubble of his own terrible decision! Can you believe he actually left a train while it was still moving? It's a good thing Madison the engineer was around. We'll forgive Mr. Conductor, but clearly, he needs to sit in a time out chair for a long time!

"You are a funny guy. Well trained, but funny."
- Frank Barnes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Training

Today, Mommy arrived at work with a little surprise: it was Madison, dressed up in her Spring Training shirt, with her glove and ballcap on. She looked so adorable that we decided to take advantage of the great baseball set we have and snap a few pictures, like this one:


Now there's a nice catch! This glove makes Madison look so tiny - but she loved climbing up into it. She has a great big smile on because she knows Daddy is going to play a little catch with her in just a moment. She's got her glove on, but I'm afraid the other glove in the picture is just a bit too large for Daddy.
Madison also has her bat ready, and in fact she took a few practice swings, as Mommy threw a few fastballs across the plate. Here she is just before going up to bat, doing another baseball card pose. Batter up, hear that call! The time has come for one and all... to play ball! It has been said there ain't no crying in baseball, but you can go ahead and pull out the tissues now if you're up against this player, because she'll leave you in tears as she's circling the bases! This gal ain't no dolly, she's a terrific hitter. Her name is Madison, and that's more than just a name: it's an attitude. She's got baseball insider her - it's just one thing that lights our little peach right up!
Madison knows a diamond is
a girl's best friend, but we're not talking about jewelry yet! We're talking about baseball diamonds, where she knows how to put out a gem of a performance! Another thing she's known for is stolen bases, having stolen a record of 38 last year alone. Unfortunately, nobody told her she was supposed to return them! Swing batter, batter swing! She's the Sultan of Swat, the Queen of Crash and the Colossus of Clout! Madison really knows how to keep her cool on the field, and yet throw the heat when she needs to. Don't believe me? Check out this photo:


Here she is practicing her different pitches: knuckleball, fastball, curveball, sinker, and her world famous booger ball. When you see one of those pitches coming, the best strategy is to duck! One thing's for sure, her rookie card is going to be worth quite a bit some day!


Folks, Madison is a major league all-star! She spent some time with Daddy tonight at work - he set up "Chicken Little" on a computer nearby because it has that baseball scene in it. It was a rather dull day having to work inside, but having Mommy and Madison swing by made it special. It was a big hit!

"Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical."
- Yogi Berra

Monday, March 21, 2011

Irish Jig


Tonight we had our annual gathering at Ye-Ye and Nana's house, where everyone wore green and had a great time - which you can probably tell just by looking above.

The day started out with us making some shamrock cookies. You can see Madison here adding the sprinkles, and using some serious self-control not eating them. Afterwards, Madison and Daddy did some chores out on the town: we went to visit our friends at the printers, drop by the church for a check, get ink for the computer, and even drop by the bank. Rather mundane chores, really - but Madison did get a green lollipop from the bank, which made it all worth it.

Meanwhile, Mommy was preparing for the evening as well. She had the corned beef going, but also spent a lot of time putting together this classic, and amazing dessert:


Those are not real potatoes. I kid you not! What you are looking at are brownies, wrapped in marzipan, rolled in cocoa, and finally with small almond slivers in them for potato eyes. The end result is something that looks just like a potato. Years ago, Mommy started making this amazing creation for St. Patrick's Day. Now it's nearly a requirement that we have them: they're very delicious, although uber-sweet.
Tonight's event has the usual games, the most important being the potato toss. Madison did very well for her category, as you can see here. The object is to throw potatoes into the black pot, and she's doing well from a good distance away. Grown-ups had a further challenge, and all was tied until the sudden death round, where Nana blew everyone away nailing 5 out of 6! The other big game was something like pin the tail on the donkey. Get a photo of last year's result here.


This year's results were similar. I believe Ye-Ye came away with the victory, although everyone had a great time trying.

We had a marvelous meal today, celebrating Madison's Irish heritage! There was plenty of corned beef and cabbage, of course. Also Irish soda bread, and potatoes. Aunt Shain made a marvelous cake with a shamrock on top of it, and everyone also munched on Madison's cookies - and Mommy's potatoes. We watched a few Irish-themed movies tonight, but didn't make it a long night because of school tomorrow.

It was certainly a fun time. Madison loved it, and loved threatening to pinch Ye-Ye for not wearing enough green!

"Maybe it's bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us."
- Nancy O'Keefe

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness

For some odd reason, much ado has been made of the President's brackets for the NCAA Tournament Championships. And yet nobody seems to have paid any attention to Madison's choices.


Personally, I think Alice is a long-shot - but she could be this year's Cinderella story. There's certainly a few upsets in there, but with all the stuffed animals in Madison's room, you just never know what's going to happen. I'm leaning towards Mr. Peanut myself.

Today was yet another long day at the church, but a good one. The services this morning went very well, as did our Easter play practice. Madison stayed with Daddy during practice, although everyone was lavishing attention upon her as usual. She is so loved at the church, which is great to see. She knows several of the guys there and is always quick to attempt a tackle or two. Then afterwards, they all talk about their brackets...

"It is absolutely wacky, baby!" - Dick Vitale

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Foul Ball

video

Here's a video of Daddy getting hit with yet another foul ball today. I was seated, reading and minding my own business... but these foul balls have a way of finding me...

Historically, Daddy has a problem getting hit with errant foul balls. It was at a Braves vs. Expos game a few years ago, top of the ninth. Daddy was sitting next to Mommy, and there was another couple with us, seated beside us. We had tenth row seats - you really have to pay attention up there! As you have probably deduced, Daddy got smacked in the jaw with a foul ball. It came out of nowhere!

Looking back, I was glad it was not Mommy, or the girl seated on the other side of me. I mean, if it had to be someone, I'm glad it was me.

Ushers moved forward out of nowhere to see if I was okay, dragging me to a golf cart with Zena. The two of us went to the top of Turner Field, where they took a bunch of pictures of me for insurance purposes, of course. And no, I didn't get the ball. Some other guy did, thanks to it bouncing off of my face!

This sets up our KidPak video for this week, which was finished late Saturday night. This is a commercial with no real purpose other than slapstick - so take a look at some major league goofiness. If anyone ever wonders why we sit further back with Madison to watch a baseball game, this video pretty much sums it up.

"Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball."
- Harry Caray

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Island of Perpetual Tickling

Tomorrow is Purim, and while we're not Jewish ourselves, it's good to remember the feast days and festivals recorded in the Old Testament. We know that Jesus said, "Do not think I have come to get rid of what is written in the Law or in the Prophets. I have not come to do that. Instead, I have come to give full meaning to what is written." Bottom line: don't throw out the Old Testament. And we don't - it's great to visit these pages, and see the stories of people such as Esther.

Today we remember the story of Purim by visiting the Island of Perpetual Tickling. I'm fairly certain this location isn't mentioned in the Bible. But the Veggie Tales movie, "Esther: the Girl Who Became Queen," uses this destination as punishment for anyone who messes with the king. Here comes the guy who will take you there:


It is not a great place to visit, actually. You can see above the harbinger of doom, who visits from time to time in the story to escort villainous characters off to the Island of Perpetual Tickling. In this instance, two peas tried to drop a piano on the king. Fortunately, Mordecai stepped in and saved the day - the only loss being a nice cake.

Madison watched the story of Esther tonight with us, which is of course a fantastic story from the Bible. It's a kids' version, but it is one that all of us really enjoy watching. The grown-up version, "One Night With the King," is also a good flick that Mommy and Daddy enjoy.

While Daddy and Madison were watching the movie, Mommy was busy at work... making hamantaschen! Just in case you're wondering what that is, here's a photo:


As you can see, the cookies have three corners, like a triangle. This represents the triangular hat that Haman - the villain in the Purim story - put on his head. We munched on a few of these yummy cookies tonight. Mommy did such a great job making them - it really added a whole lot to our celebration of Purim. Here's Madison, checking out Mommy's great creation.


But now it's time for bed, and time to take Madison upstairs to the Island of Perpetual Tickling! Moo-ah-ah-ah!

"This is a really neat guy!" - Mr. Lunt

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Day


Top of the mornin'! Today was a day for wearin' green, which ye best be sporting on a day like today, or else ye might get pinched!

Aye! Madison dressed up in a fanciful St. Patrick's Day outfit that had everyone turning their heads. Even Daddy has his new Irish ballcap on, so the two of us were ready for a day out on the town - without having to worry about getting pinched!

This morning's first stop was music class, which is always fun. Madison was learning "do" a few weeks ago, and then "ra" last week. So today we hit "me" in class - literally. There's a song where we find these keys on the piano ("me" is to the right of the two black keys), and Madison had a great time pounding the keyboards like a dignified pianist. The class is always great because of the mix of instruments, drawing notes, finding notes, and interaction. The other kids love it too, and the teacher has been great at keeping the flow moving forward.


After piano lessons, it was time for lunch! There's this new Irish restaurant in Gainesville, the "Irish Bred Pub," which was fun. Everyone wore green in that restaurant, patrons and employees. Irish music played overhead, and the food was good too. Mommy got corn beef and cabbage, while Daddy got shepherd's pie. There was so much food that we couldn't finish it! Then it was time to head home for some rest.


Here's a few leprechauns we caught on our last trip to Gatlinburg. We let them roam about the kitchen table for a festive atmosphere, along with an Irish flower arrangement Ye-Ye created a few years ago. After a bowl of Lucky Charms and a watching of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," Madison will be really feeling her Irish heritage strong!


This evening, we began our ballet classes, and as you can tell from this photo, Madison was having a wonderful time. Simply dressing up as a ballerina was very special for her, and soon enough there were fourteen other tiny dancers, all dressed in pink just as Madison was. Our first class went well, with Madison able to imitate everything her teacher instructed - for the most part. It was an hour long class, and with fourteen toddlers, the teacher was quite patient. You could tell that all the children wanted to be there than anywhere else on earth. They all had a splendid time. And, of course, Mommy and Daddy did too. We were delighted, watching Madison do turns, leaps and work with her toes. If you'd like to see her perform, by the way, you're welcome to join us soon: she's going to have her first ballet recital!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Self-Portrait


If this isn't art, I don't know what is. Look closely: it's Madison's very first self-portrait. Look at the chin, eyes and sweeping hair. Such a strong jawline on this image too. Seriously, Madison drew this entirely on her own - and then handed it to Daddy and his friend Josh. We asked, "who is that?" And she said, "me!"

On another completely different front, our family plans for St. Patrick's Day in the evening got postponed until Monday - but that worked out fine, actually. We'll still have fun on St. Patrick's Day, and then celebrate it later with Ye-Ye and Nana next Monday with our traditional Irish festival at their house.

The way that this worked out for Madison in a unique way is this: there was a ballet class for children who Madison's age. It starts tomorrow evening, on St. Patrick's Day. Now that our evening is free, we can attend the class with Madison. This should mean so much to her - she's already twirling about. She's a little ballerina girl, and we can't wait to see her dance and smile so radiantly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Madison Haiku

Today was another day where the rain poured down, cold and dreary. Here below is my attempt at a Haiku poem with Madison:

Madison was cold
Hope for spring hangs in the air
Adventures untold!

Most of the day has been spent with work, but we did have time for another epic sith lightsaber battle: Madison found her red lightsaber that had been missing from the move. This would be the red one that she made down at Disney World. This lightsaber makes sound effects as well, so you can see how noisy this clash was upstairs. Mommy was running for cover.

Season of battle
Lightsabers flashing, clashing
Watch the furniture!

Madison has been very busy with her homework as of late. This new theme in her life is thrilling to Mommy and Daddy. Madison is like a sponge, soaking in all sorts of new education. Mommy has been very patient with her, reviewing counting and letters - and the sounds they make.

Schooltime has arrived
Madison's learning, earning
Give her a sticker!

This has been great. Not-so-great is Madison's sudden appreciation of Barney the Dinosaur. Of course, we don't mind that much. Though he's somewhat annoying to Daddy from time to time, it's clear that Madison enjoys watching that purple critter!

Barney Dinosaur
Time for purple singing vile!
Let her watch a while?

Seriously, it's not that bad. Although Mommy and Daddy would like to throw B.J. off a ledge somewhere. It's been mentioned that today has been cold and rainy. It's also been windy. The weather has been quite unusual lately!

Thrilling variety!
Spring signals sun and hard rain.
Our gutters are gone!

We have new gutters on our house now. The wind and rain actually blew the old ones off. We were going to replace them anyway, but this sort of explains how hard it has been raining lately. The weather goes from sunny to pouring rain quite fast as of late.

Shadrach, Meschach, and
Abednego won't bow! It's
time God steps in now.

Tonight's movie was the Veggie Tales version of the Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego story, which Madison enjoyed. Story time was Daddy telling their story from the Bible, toned down a bit for younger listeners, yet still accurate. Unlike the Veggie Tales version: no flying carrots!

It's time to stop now.
This blog entry is quite through.
See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 14, 2011

π Day


Another π Day, and it was a nice one outside too! We celebrated at California Pizza this afternoon with a great big pizza π. This was just after another visit to the dentist. We seem to visit both of these places about twice a year.

It was great to see everyone again at the office, and all of us had a clean bill of health on our teeth. Mommy's teeth look really nice, actually. Madison still has the other issue of concern we found at the dentist a few months ago, and we'll have to deal with that soon. But today was still good for all of us, and Madison had a great time as usual. She loves the receptionist, and had a lot of fun, considering it was a dentist's office.

While Daddy was getting his teeth looked at, the entire office could hear Madison's giggles as she ran around the front desk. Then, of course there was the topic of ... THE TREASURE CHEST. Yes, we're talking about that big chest the kids get to look through once they're done with the dental work. Madison got to look through and pick out her favorite item, and of course she found a balloon toy.

We ate at California Pizza afterwards - Madison polished off a few slices of pizza and got a nice bowl of ice cream as a treat. If we were purists, we'd go for the lemon π...

On the way home, we picked up several nice outfits for Madison - trading in some of her older clothing and toys at a consignment shop. It worked out great, actually, because we saved quite a bit. AND, we got some wonderful new clothing for Madison. She just beams when she sees her new clothing. "Thank you!" she gushes!

Once we got home, Daddy played catch a little with Madison in the front yard - until the smell of the bradford pear trees in our front yard drove us off! They are starting to blossom, and if there's one flower you don't want to smell, it's a bradford pear tree. Between that and the pollen, it was time to come inside and check out Madison's new Junior Explorer Globe. This is a great tool for learning continents and regions of the world - like China, the United States, and right there on the edge of the Pacific is Japan.

Japan, of course, is the topic of conversation for the past four days. We haven't mentioned it here, and it isn't necessarily something to explain to Madison yet. But the large scale disasters there have been heart-breaking, and we've been praying for the people in Japan every night. Since we've met Madison, there have been some of the largest earthquakes in my recollection: Haiti, Chili, New Zealand and of course China. All this over the course of two and a half years. The earth has been shaking violently as of late - the latest has actually moved an island of Japan eight feet. Stunning, and simply awful. Madison has been praying for people who have "boo boos" across the world, but with no detailed explanations from us as of yet. This is just part of the world we live in, and one of the more difficult things to explain to Madison as she gets older.


Here's a photo of Mommy and Madison doing some more homework. Madison has been so into this lately. She's been dragging Mommy over to do her exercises, matching up and counting and doing a whole lot of learning. This is exciting for everyone, as Madison is showing us how incredibly smart she is. This girl has been very sharp!

With the picture above, you can see the globe we just got in the foreground, with China in green. Madison knows where this is, and knows where the Great Wall is as well. She's learning where America is too, and using this interactive globe to continue soaking in new learning. Madison is simply amazing - learning quite a bit!

In honor of this special day, one of Madison's assignments was learning π to the thirtieth place. I think that may be approximately 3.141592653589793238462643383279, or something like that. Using our globe there, she's taking the distance of the equator, and dividing it by the distance straight through the earth from our house to somewhere deep in the Indian Ocean.


Okay, not really. Still, Daddy was curious where the exact opposite side of the world was from our house. Here above is a neat image that shows where the exact opposite side of the world is as it relates to our house.

And yes: if you divide the straight distance through the earth that connects these points by the distance of the equator, the answer you get is π!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Forward

This was another one of those thirteen hour days for Daddy, but it all turned out nicely in the end, so aside from being somewhat tired, we're happy. And we're certainly ready for a restful day tomorrow. There are only two things certain on the calendar for tomorrow: The dentist, and π.


As for today, it began quite well with another fun adventure with Spring Training. Here above is our cast involved in a silly group photo. Next week, we'll have Madison with us. Last night was a late night for Madison with the Chinese New Year Celebration - combine that with all of us losing an hour due to daylight savings time, and that added up to Madison needing a little extra sleep. Daddy could have used it as well!

Still, everything turned out nicely at church this morning. After a creative team meeting in the afternoon, it was time for Easter Play Practice. Once again, we were snapping photos of the cast members that Mommy was taking measurements for - and once again, Madison was wanting to pose with everyone too!


She was quite helpful with photos, shepherding people to their positions so Mommy could do her work. Meanwhile, Daddy was typing up a storm, finishing up the messages for next month's series, "Under Construction."

Madison get such attention from everyone. She loves it at church, where everyone is so friendly to her. She's the center of attention there, just because she's so cute!

We came home later tonight, and essentially went to bed. Daddy told Madison a bedtime story about her visit to 100 Acre Wood, which I might type up here some time. It was a fun bedtime story that got Madison giggling. But she fell asleep pretty quickly - we're all pretty zonked here. Daylight savings time does that to you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

FCC CNY

Once a year, we have a gathering with Friends with Children from China - the Atlanta organization. It's usually associated with the Chinese New Year, although the last two years the event has taken place a few months afterwards. Tonight, we had our celebration.


It was a pleasant evening for all of us - as you can see, Ye-Ye and Nana came along as well. For several years now, we've been a part of this group - the goal being to unite families with children from China for cultural events and celebrations. A lot of people turned out tonight for a dinner at the Happy Valley restaurant in Atlanta. There was a big meal of Chinese food, along with a talent show, where children dressed up in Chinese costumes would dance across the stage, or musicians would play the Chinese zither, also called the guzheng. We love the sound of that instrument, and the girl playing it was very talented.


One of the benefits of such an organization is meeting new faces, and tonight was no exception. Madison is shown here with Kate and Sam, who are also both four years old. Kate is from China as well, from the Guandong Province. She was adopted last year and is quite smart. You'll notice her hair right away, and how she doesn't appear so much Asian. Kate's parents told us she has albinism, which results in a lack of pigment in her hair. The result makes her look quite different from her Asian friends, and yet she still looks quite cute! Madison enjoyed playing around with Kate and Sam this evening. While the parents talked and reminisced about the journey in China, these three had fun chasing each other around or going up to the stage real close in order to watch the talent show.


One more note about the outfit she's wearing: Ye-Ye and Nana actually bought that in China nearly three years ago when we went there for the adoption. They bought it bigger, knowing she'd someday grow into it. Today was the perfect day to try it on for the first time, and she looked very lovely.

Speaking of attire, we picked up some "Year of the Rabbit" t-shirts, not to mention a few other items. But the best part of the evening was hitting the pause button just long enough to share some time with others, including Ye-Ye and Nana. It was an enjoyable night for all of us, especially Madison.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Johnny Appleseed Day


Today is Johnny Appleseed Day, which is one of those days you simply have to celebrate in our household. For those of you who may not know, Johnny Appleseed was a guy who spent many years traveling across the country with a pot on his head, a bag of seeds over his shoulder, and a Bible in his hand. He spent a lot of time doing good deeds - and planting good seeds.


We spotted it a few days ago on the calendar and thought what a fun opportunity for our Madison. Okay, so it was a
fun opportunity for us also!!
When Daddy got home from work, Madison was dressed up like the American Legend, with a pot on her head, bare feet, and a basket filled with apples. What a great way to greet Daddy at the door! She had just been creating some masterpieces with Mommy, who pulled out some green apple paint, and cut an apple in half. Together, they sat at the kitchen table and made apple prints, dipping the apple half into a bit of the green paint. You can see so for yourself below, and see that she was having a good time creating Apple Art ®.


That's a photo of Madison creating her first masterwork. It's called "Apple." We'll get Madison to sign it later, and maybe we'll make a fortune. Probably not. Odds are, the only thing we'll make is another apple print. Like this one here:


Mommy enhanced this one, so it is in fact a family effort. Afterwards, we watched the 1948 Disney cartoon, "Johnny Appleseed," which Madison really enjoyed. It really tied everything together.

Like, "Why on earth is Mommy putting a pot on top of my head? Oh! I get it now!"

It was a fantastic day for learning - and a great day for apples. As you can tell, we all had a great time tonight with the apple theme. In fact, Daddy is typing all of this up on an Apple right now!

"The Lord's Been Good To Me"


The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and rain and an appleseed
Yes He's been good to me.


I owe the Lord so much
For everything I need
I'm certain if it weren't for Him
There'd be no apples on this limb
He's been good to me


Oh here I am
'Neath the blue, blue sky
A'doin' as I please
Singing with my feathered friends
Or with the bees


I wake up every day
As happy as can be
Because I know that with His care
My apple trees will still be there
Oh, the Lord is good to me


Thursday, March 10, 2011

I am Your Father


I'd like to post first about how Madison spent a lot of time learning today. But I won't. I'll save that for later, because the highlight of the day for Daddy was the totally epic lightsaber duel that happened this evening all over the house. For six years or so, Daddy has had this serious lightsaber prop that we used for a KidPak service. The thing was pretty pricey, but it looks and sounds great. In the recent move, Daddy found it and put some new batteries in it - but hadn't tested it out yet. Until tonight, when Madison started to attack Daddy with her purple lightsaber. From that moment on, the battle raged! Madison was delighted that each time she'd hit Daddy's lightsaber, a clashing noise would result. Naturally, she'd found herself chasing Daddy all over the house.

Meanwhile, Mommy was on the computer trying to actually work. While in the background, Madison leapt onto the couch and began to assault Daddy with a series of punishing swings that drove him back into the kitchen. As she pushed forward with her attack, Daddy retreated into the dining area.

We have these huge windows in the great room, so I can only imagine if there were any neighbors out there - what they saw. These lightsabers light up, and Madison was hopping all over the place like Yoda, swinging wildly as Daddy loomed with his bright red lightsaber. It was a lot of fun!

The funny thing is: we just finished a tea party. Madison had this big tea party set up for Daddy upstairs, and we were having a splendid time eating with Mickey, Minnie, Sock Monkey and Mr. Peanut. Madison kept getting up to go to the play kitchen, in order to serve up a new entree. We had plastic cookies, plastic vegetables, and all sorts of cake. Madison is a wonderful host!

A large part of the day was about learning. Madison's piano class started things off nicely. Madison catches on rather quickly, and enjoyed playing in rhythm with all sorts of different instruments. It's been a cold day, so rather than do anything outdoors, we retreated home for lunch and some indoor activities. We pulled out the workbooks again, which Madison loves: Mommy and she spent hours today learning numbers, matching and even some more writing. Today, she was practicing the letter "H."

Daddy's primary job was to give Mommy a break at times! Hence the lightsabers and tea party. Tonight before bed, we popped in another Veggie Tales, "Moe and the Big Exit," which follows our Western motif that we started the week out with "Rango." This was a great episode that follows the story of Moses. Madison and Daddy enjoyed it a lot - and then it was time for bed, and of course the required bed time story.

Once upon a time, Princess Madison went on a balloon expedition with her friend Papi the chihuahua. Also along for the ride was Mr. Peanut, who wore his top hat and monocle so he could see far over the horizon.

They took off on their balloon adventure and decided to head north, where it was a bit chillier. In fact, after a long time of travel, they began to see snow on the ground below. As time went by, the three grew hungry. Fortunately, Madison packed a decent lunch with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ravioli, macaroni and cheese, and lots of ketchup.

After a bit more time, they all put on their winter jackets. Princess Madison looked quite fashionable!

"Look out below," Papi exclaimed. The three saw below them that they were traveling over water now - it was an ocean large and vast!

"Look ahead!" Mr. Peanut said. He saw through his monocle an iceberg, and trapped on top of the iceberg was a snow tiger. The three gasped when they saw the poor tiger trapped there.

"We must save him," Princess Madison said.

And so they brought their balloon down as low as they could on top of the iceberg. The snow tiger was very grateful indeed, and jumped aboard with them. Now there were four on the journey north.

"Where are you heading?" the snow tiger asked.

"We're going on an expedition," Princess Madison responded.

Soon, Mr. Peanut spied a snow covered island on the horizon. "Land ho!" he cried.

It was decided that they would land there, and do some exploring indeed! But not too much exploring, for the hour was already getting late and they certainly had to return. And so it came to pass that they landed their balloon on the snow-covered island, and stepped out onto the icy surface of the land.

"Where are we?" Papi wondered. He was certainly glad he had a little doggie coat to put on, for it was quite chilly here.

No one had time to answer his question, unfortunately. The reason was this: on this island, there were naughty snow robots, who started throwing icicles at everyone. The snow tiger got quite upset at this and roared really loud. And when he did, all the robots went running away!

But not before one of the icicles had punctured their balloon!

"Oh no," Princess Madison said. "However will we get home?"

"We must press forward," Mr. Peanut told her. "Follow me deep into the island. I believe I can see a castle there."

And so Princess Madison, Papi and the snow tiger followed Mr. Peanut into the island, over dunes of snow and past ice sculptures of famous people.

Finally, they arrived at a castle. But this castle was surrounded by those very same naughty snow robots. How would they ever get past? Once again, their friend the snow tiger roared - and the naughty snow robots all scattered.

"I'm sure glad we rescued you," Princess Madison said.

The four of them went into the castle, and do you know what they found there?

Ice cream! Lots of ice cream. And lots of robots too! It appeared as if all the robots were making ice cream for some reason.

"Hello there!" a voice boomed overhead. The four looked up and saw a big Yeti. That's a big white hairy monster. "Welcome to ice cream castle!"

"Thank you," Princess Madison said, curtseying. It's always good to curtsey.

"We need help," Papi said. "Our balloon was popped by some naughty snow robots, and now we're trapped on this island!"

"This island is a good one to get trapped on if you're going to get trapped," Mr. Peanut said, as he and the snow tiger got some delicious ice cream.

The big Yeti said, "I am so sorry! My snow robots thought you were intruders here to steal my secret ice cream plans. They have gone too far. I certainly must get on to them."

"Do you know how we can get home?" Princess Madison said.

"Why certainly," the Yeti replied. "By ice cream truck!"

That's when the Yeti explained where they were. This island they had found quite by accident - is not on any map. Indeed, no one can find it if they are looking for it. It is Ice Cream Island, and it is where all ice cream trucks start out from before they begin to travel the world delivering ice cream.

"Even the ice cream truck in our neighborhood?" Princess Madison asked.

"Why yes!" the good Yeti answered. "You can hop aboard that very ice cream truck this afternoon before it takes off to go to your neighborhood!"

"Takes off?" Papi asked.

"Takes off!" the Yeti repeated. "How else do you think they can get off this island? All ice cream trucks have wings that spring out of the sides so they can fly off to their neighborhoods. Yours does too! Follow me and I'll show you!"

So everyone followed the Yeti to a great big area that looked more like an airport than anything. The air traffic control tower was a great big ice cream cone, and all along the airstrip there were plenty of ice cream trucks - some landing and some taking off. Mr. Peanut spotted their ice cream truck right away and pointed it out!

"Let's get on board before it takes off!" Papi said.

"Yes, you've only got a few moments to go," the Yeti told them. "You see, every day, we make the ice cream here - and put it on those trucks. Then the trucks fly off to your neighborhood. So hop on board your truck, and your driver will take you home right away."

"Thank you, Mr. Yeti!" Princess Madison said. And she gave him a hug.

"Goodbye my friends," the Yeti said, as he waved them off. "See you soon!"

Princess Madison, Mr. Peanut, Papi and the snow tiger jumped on the ice cream truck, where the driver was getting ready for takeoff.

"Strap on your seatbelts!" he said.

They did, and soon found themselves taking off over the icy ocean. This time they were flying much faster though. In no time, Ice Cream Island was a tiny speck behind them, as the ice cream truck flew fast over the sea.

It had been such an adventure that the four of them were quite sleepy. In fact, they all fell fast asleep in the back of the ice cream truck. No wonder it came as such a surprise when they heard the ice cream truck driver say, "We're here!"

Quickly, the truck landed along a back road. The wings on the side of the ice cream truck folded up neatly inside, and the driver drove them all back to Princess Madison's neighborhood. Soon, they were at Princess Madison's house.

"Okay, we're all home!" the driver announced. It was time to leave and go inside. But before they left the driver, he gave them each some ice cream. Madison wanted a strawberry ice cream, and Mr. Peanut wanted chocolate. Papi wanted a chaco taco, and the snow tiger wanted something with cherry flavor. The ice cream truck driver had to go make his deliveries, so he wished them all goodbye as he drove off around the corner.

In the meantime, Madison, Mr. Peanut, Papi and the snow tiger went inside. The snow tiger decided to live with them now, because they all seemed to have so much fun. And indeed they did! But that is a story for another time, so until then, we'll just say that they all lived happily ever after.