Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I've Seen the Saucers



(Tuesday, May 31st, 7:11 pm)

As Madison and Daddy were sitting down on the couch tonight, we noticed something very unusual outside the great room's window. As you can see above, the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious, in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance and as big as a man-made aircraft. We submitted by fax our evidence, but the government has said it's probably some meteorological, astronomical or natural phenomena. Madison and I saw it though, and know what it really is: they're just covering up the facts like they did in 1947 in New Mexico!

I did not alter this photo in any way, by the way. It is in black and white with the definition turned up a bit. I'll leave you to guess what it really is. Is it a UFO?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! It's Memorial Day, and we decided to do something different: we went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival. As you can see above, Mommy did a fantastic job dressing Madison up for the big day: she was a very pretty little girl. Many people commented on her dress, and Madison found herself curtseying plenty.

The crown she is wearing we purchased at the event itself. These were by the front entrance, and we determined immediately that Madison should have one to be a proper princess. Looking at the schedule, we saw there was a princess ceremony where Madison could officially be proclaimed one by the queen, so we sort of arranged our day around that. But the other big thing we wanted to see was jousting!

Mommy found a great table that we could sit at and look down at the jousting matches. While we waited, and while we watched, we sat and ate lunch: Daddy got himself a big turkey leg to gnaw on, but the girls were a bit more reserved. They ate as if royals, and Daddy was eating like he was the town idiot!

After the match, we found our way to Fool's Knoll Stage, where we saw an act called Breaking Point - a couple acrobatic guys who were pretty good, and pretty funny too. Immediately following that, it was time for the princess ceremony. Madison was taught a few of the basics, such as how to do a proper curtsey, and most importantly how to do a royal wave. Once the candidates got their lessons, it was time for the Queen to make the royal proclamations: it was time for Madison to officially become a princess!

As royalty, one of her first orders was to ride the rides! This being a Renaissance Festival, you don't have the traditional sorts of rides. Most of the rides are hand pushed or hand spun. Mommy and Madison rode on a carousel that was powered by a guy pushing it and twisting it - and then letting go. Madison enjoyed it, but Mommy got quite dizzy here!

Next, Daddy rode on a swinging boat ride with Madison. This was powered by Daddy, who pulled on ropes to swing it to and fro.

Again Madison enjoyed it, but Daddy got quite dizzy. That was pretty much the last ride we rode - maybe next time we'll do something different, like the maze or the slide. But Madison did have a good time as a princess and riding rides. We had a good time, but just like the last time we came to the Renaissance Festival - before Madison was with us - the temperature was a bit too warm for us.

It was insanely hot outside, and despite the fact that we were well hydrated, the three of us were certainly showing some signs of heat exhaustion. So rather than stay any longer, we decided to head home a bit earlier, after stopping and looking at some of the stores along the way. It was a fun time, but it was time to head home and get some rest. I'm not sure when or if we'll be back, but we were glad we went today. It was fun to try out, and Madison certainly had a great time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Arrr! Today was our final voyage of The Nervous Wreck, and for the occasion, we got the cast to pose for one last group shot. We have a fine crew indeed!

What a big day. Daddy worked a lot of the day, and yet we still had plenty of time to have some fun. For example, Madison and Daddy played catch in the front yard for a bit. We love our new front lawn: you can run in it barefoot and it feels just right!

When the weather was a little too hot, we were indoors, playing Lego Pirates again. Madison is still pretty good at that game!

Ye-Ye and Nana came over shortly after that. It's a tradition to spend some time together on Memorial Day weekend, eating burgers and hot dogs and all sorts of other foods. It was a lot! And it was really good because Mommy made it. We had all sorts of salads, fresh corn from a few days ago, and lemonade in Mommy's new pitcher. We had a great time together, and afterwards we all had an exciting game of Candy Land. Nana won both times!

It was getting dark, so Daddy decided to see what Madison thought of some sparklers we've had for a while: we were very careful with our instructions, and stood nearby to make sure nothing happened. Madison listened very well, and really enjoyed the sparklers - so much so that Daddy snapped a bunch of photos of her on the front porch, waving them around and making shapes. Take a look!

Notice the nice patriotic decorations on the front door and elsewhere. There are some other items on the porch, and some patriotic bunting as well! Mommy did a great job, and the whole house is very nice. Sparklers were really fun - and we were about to head inside when we all spotted something out in the front lawn: fireflies! This launched us on a quest to catch one. Sneaking around the lawn in the dark, we darted here and there trying to catch a few. What a wonderful time! Madison really enjoyed it, but we seriously did too.

It was time for bed finally. At least for Madison. Afterwards, Mommy and Daddy finally watched "Lemonade Mouth," which was very good. We're thinking about using that for a sermon next week at Summer Xtreme, but the funny thing is that it is filmed in New Mexico. What's funny about that? Here, let me share it with you:

1. So before I left Florida, I had a dream about New Mexico.

2. I was thinking about it on the ride home when we passed a car from New Mexico.

3. It was Sunday when a volunteer told me she couldn't be with drama (which I kind of already knew), but she told me she was going to this camp in ... New Mexico.

4. Monday, we went to see "Thor." It takes place in New Mexico.

5. Today, I was listening to a game show on NPR. A Republican presidential candidate was on the game show. He's governor of New Mexico. No idea he was going to be on, or who he even was.

6. As I was listening, I was passed by a car from New Mexico.

7. Monday, we left Golden Corral. All the license plates from the cars were from Georgia, except one from New Mexico.

8. Sunday, we finally watch "Lemonade Mouth." This is the movie I was thinking we had to do a message for with Summer Xtreme. Had NO idea where it was filmed: New Mexico.

Ever have something like that happen to you? It happened to me about ten years ago, once before. The state was Wisconsin, and it seemed like everywhere I turned for six months straight I kept seeing it on street signs, movie sets and license plates in unusual spots. Once Mommy was told about it, she was in on it too. So it was pretty funny we've watched two movies in the past week that were filmed in New Mexico of all places.

ANYWAY, as you can tell, it was a VERY FULL day. But the neat thing is this: we've got some serious fun planned for tomorrow. You'll have to wait for that one!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Doodles and Animation...

Daddy spent much of the day at work, and Madison kept busy with activities in her workbook, and helping Mommy decorate the house for a somewhat patriotic season. It looked very nice when Daddy got home: he arrived with Mr. Josh from work. Tonight, everyone had a great meal together - Mommy cooked us all tacos. Then, we all had sarsaparilla and ice cream!
Tonight's movie feature was "Hook," yet another pirate-themed movie on the list that Josh wanted to come over to watch with us. Madison was really into it when Neverland came into the picture! This is a movie that gets better every time I see it. I didn't think as much the first time I saw it, but Mommy liked it, and Josh wanted to see it as well. You can't beat the performance of Dustin Hoffman, but the movie on the whole is really fun, and with a fantastic soundtrack. It's also somewhat dated - we were amazed at the huge sets that were built. With computers, they don't have to do as much these days. But much of everything in the past was built, and many of the stunts had to be done with real people - rather than any computer graphics or special effects. Anyway, it's a great movie. But a long movie. In fact, because the movie was somewhat long, Madison had to go to bed. But we promised she might get to see the rest of it later: it was time for bed! Our bedtime story tonight was about Neverland and pirates, and for a moment Daddy considered the fantasy foundation that Madison was being exposed to. Neverland has been a big part of this year, and Wonderland the year before that. There's been much in between all that, but those two places have had larger roles in our storytelling, books and movies.

Anyway, the grown-ups watched the rest of the movie after Madison went to bed. It was good to have Josh over too. His work is in animation, and he's been doing a wonderful job for KidPak as of late. He also creates the characters and mascots for each series. For example, our upcoming series in June is called "Boardwalk," so we asked him to create what folks call a barker - that's one of those guys who calls out, "Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up!" June's series will be somewhat of a mix between an amusement park theme, and a beach theme. It is a considerable step down from pirates, under construction and baseball - but it still has it's moments. One of these moments is quite possibly a barbershop quartet that walks the boardwalk at KidPak. Daddy hopes to get that together, and is even growing a handlebar mustache for the occasion. We'll see if that gets together.

Speaking of animation, Daddy did a quick flip-book animation for Madison this morning, which got big laughs. She was drawing a bit, so he drew up an animation of her throwing a ball to Daddy. Obviously, all of this was done in stick figure fashion. The ball isn't caught though. It bonks Daddy on the head, and he falls over. This got laughs, of course. And the neat thing about flip book animation is you can do it over and over again. It was also a simple demonstration to her on how to make cartoons, although she didn't quite grasp it entirely. She did, however, attempt to recreate the drawings on her own:

This is a self-portrait of Madison about to throw a ball. She looks very angry in this picture, and I hope there aren't any psychologists reading this.

"What is this? Some sort of the "Lord of the Flies" pre-school?"
- Peter Banning

Friday, May 27, 2011


We're getting ready for Summer Xtreme, so we've been immensely busy at work. Still, we had time to go see the latest movie tonight: we're talking "Kung Fu Panda 2."

It's my favorite movie so far this year. We met Ye-Ye, Nana, Aunt Shain, David, Jonathan and Hannah at the movies, and the nine of us got the back row, sharing a big honkin' thing of popcorn. Nana smuggled Twizzlers in, so we were all set!

What a great movie. The animation is awe inspiring. They've captured China beautifully, just as they did with the first movie. It felt like we were back again, but that wasn't just because of the scenery. The theme of the movie was adoption, and was handled in fine form. We couldn't help but think back to our own adoption journey just three years ago now. Of course, that's when the first "Kung Fu Panda" movie came out - the last one we saw before heading overseas to meet Madison for the first time. The music in that movie takes me instantly back to China in my mind - the timing of that movie was so perfect for us. It is connected forever with our Madison, though she doesn't quite know the real significance of it. She just likes the kung fu!

Tonight at bedtime, Daddy told Madison's story of adoption one more time. It's a story of two people - Mommy and Daddy - who had an empty place in their hearts. They made the journey of a lifetime to China, where they found a wonderful joy we still feel to this day.

"There is no charge for awesomeness." - Panda Po

"Panda, we do not wash our pits in the pool of sacred tears." - Shi Fu

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cornelia's Big Apple

So there it is. We told Madison we were going to take her to the Big Apple today. Most folks would assume that's New York, but in North Georgia, that can only mean downtown Cornelia. This is home to something else that I'll get to in moments, something I have to see to believe. But as I said, I'll get to that in a moment.

Around noon, we drove up to Clarkesville in order to sample a new restaurant that opened up there. We've been meaning to go for a while, but it's a bit of a drive and we've been somewhat busy. But today was a good day to head up there.

It's called JBo's Burgers & Dogs, and it's actually quite good! It's owned by some friends of friends of ours, and it's a little bit of a drive up there - but it was worth it. We met some co-workers and had a nice meal - Daddy got the Buffalo Blue Burger, Mommy got a cheeseburger and Madison got a hot dog. It was really good stuff.

Madison also got an early birthday present. It was a Minnie Mouse, and a few other items. I don't need to tell you how she feels about Minnie Mouse. In fact, as I type this out, she's sleeping soundly upstairs with Minnie alongside her.

After lunch, Mommy, Madison and Daddy went over to see the big red apple. Why? Because it's there. I mean, why not? The thing is located in front of a train depot, where you can see old cabooses and other train sections - but the train museum was closed for the day. I think. Anyway, it was a quick and slightly interesting diversion. We posed in front of the apple like tourists, and then started our drive back home.

On the way back, we stopped at Jaemore Farms. They had a giant strawberry in front of the place, which was apparently part of our theme for the day: ginormous fruit. It's either that, or places that start with the letter "J." Either way, it was a fun day: we got some fresh corn and watermelon, and Daddy got some sarsaparilla to drink! Like a good pirate, I also nursed a bottle of ginger beer on the way home. Arrr!

The one thing we didn't do is see Elvis' wart. Yes, you absolutely read that right. Apparently, there's a place in Cornelia that has Elvis' wart. Rather than write about it myself, I'll copy and paste below the description of the place found with Roadside America. Read at your own peril:

"One of the 30,000 Elvis items in Joni Mabe's Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis on display at the Loudermilk Boarding House Museum is Elvis' wart, removed from his right wrist in 1958. The wart is kept in a jar of formaldehyde. Jonie sells t-shirts proclaming, "The King is Gone, But the Wart Lives On." She also has a toenail that possibly bleonged to Elvis, which she plucked out of a carpet on a visit to Graceland."

I just noted that this place also starts with the letter "J." I've also just noted that I probably should have entitled this blog entry "Cornelia's Big Wart." We certainly could have gone there today, but we weren't quite sure where it was. For this, I'm sure Mommy was quietly grateful. It sounds really tacky, and is probably something you'll read about on this blog some day. I mean, seriously? Elvis' wart? You have to go to something like that. The wart calls to you! It calls to all of us! Answer the wart! Supposedly, once a year they have a big Elvis festival up in Cornelia, where there are impersonators and all sorts of Elvis events. Maybe they have someone dress up as a giant wart. Anyway, during the festival would be a good time to go back to Cornelia. Great gosh almighty, you can't live this close to Elvis' wart and not go see it.

The wart lives on!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Patriotic Madison

Tonight at church, there was a great atmosphere for the pre-schoolers. It was "Patriotic Night" at KidPak Discovery, where Madison had goodies and did lots of crafts, like the one you see above. She did good work, didn't she? It sort of reminds me of Peter Max.

Mommy and Daddy are fans of Peter Max's work. Daddy even has a few bottles of Arizona Iced Tea with some of his imagery on it. When we were first dating, Daddy remembers doing a few puzzles with Mommy that were of some of his artwork. Good memories!

Anyway, Madison had a marvelous time tonight. It's great to hear her yell, "Daddy!" She ran up to me and showed off all her goodies from the goody bag, and then shared with me her artwork. I think it looks great! Sort of makes you all patriotic, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Madison has Appeal

Last night's bedtime story featured gnomes. These were the two from "Gnomeo and Juliet," who were so grateful for Princess Madison's help that they decided to live at our house - in front of our house. I told Madison to look outside in the morning, maybe she can find them there.

Sure enough, she woke up and ran down the stairs. Out the door she ran, and right outside the porch she saw our new garden gnomes, based on the movie from "Gnomeo and Juliet." Here's a picture she took with her very own camera -she didn't do a bad job, did she? These cute gnomes add a bit of color to the front yard, and work well with the Memorial Day decorations, adding a bit of red, white and blue for the next few months. The movie came out on Blu-Ray today, so we picked that up as well and watched it in the evening.

But back to the gnomes. We've always had a thing for gnomes. That might be Mommy's heritage more than Daddy's, but we've always enjoyed the concept. Daddy likes them the same way he likes pink flamingoes, fuzzy dice and the House on the Rock. But deeper still, there's something fun about 'em. We have Christmas ornament gnomes - and one of Daddy's favorite Terry Pratchett books is about gnomes (only spelled "nomes"). Like I said, they're fun.

Speaking of fun, here's something fun that Madison has been doing. She's peeling the paint off the deck in the back, something that we're working on doing so we can redo it all. She drags Mommy out to the deck to get peeling - it's something she really likes doing. I need to clarify here that it wasn't like that scene in Tom Sawyer where he tricks Ben into painting a fence because he says it is fun. No, Madison just decided this was fun on her own. She can't wait to get out there and see how long of a strip of paint she can peel off the deck! As you can see, she's got appeal.

That was a terrible play on words. We had big news today that will affect our lives in August of 2012. Long time from now, yes, but earlier this year we were watching the christening of the Disney Dream. This afternoon, Mommy made reservations for the three of us to go on board - but here's the special part: it's part of a reunion. We're meeting up with a few families who went to China with us in 2008. This will be four years after our first trip to China together, so it will be quite a special occasion. The fact that it will be a Disney Cruise will make it even nicer. It's fourteen months away, but you know how fast time travels: it seems like only a few weeks ago we were in China, and yet it's actually been nearly three years. Wow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Soak up the Sun

Today the lawn care people came to tackle the enigma that is our front yard, and some eighty bags of mulch later, there was the beginnings of a decent looking front yard again. Not that we had a bad one. No, it didn't look anything like the house from the Addams Family. But it did need some weeding, and it did need mulch.

Once they were done working out front, we were all invited outside to take a peek. Madison was funny: she just smiled and dropped down on the grass in the front yard. Right there in the sun, she lay down and closed her eyes as if she was sunbathing.

All the while we were talking around her, she lay quietly on the lawn, just soaking up the sun.

Madison's work with her workbooks continues, as does Mommy's patient teaching. Madison is putting words together as of late, connecting those first syllables with the rest of the words. It still can be frustrating to understand - for all of us - but it is getting better than it was. Sign language has been helpful too: Madison understands completely.

One thing she can do now is count to twenty. That's how we keep score when we play "Disney Princess Memory," when we have to keep track of who has more cards. Not that we play competitively - it's just that she wants to keep track of how many cards each of us has. Secretly, I think she just likes counting. No problem there!

As we've been doing our pirate theme this month, we've been watching a lot of pirate movies. We have a boatload of 'em, and this month has felt like Christmas, where you watch only Christmas movies. The difference is, this month is "Arrr!" And we only watch pirate movies! We got a copy of the Backyardigans DVD: "We Arrrr Pirates." Madison really enjoys this one. Later on, we'll watch "Muppet Treasure Island," and earlier, we've already seen "Treasure Planet," "Peter Pan," and "Return to Neverland." After Madison goes to bed, we've been watching the three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Bob Hope's "The Princess and the Pirate," "Cutthroat Island," "Treasure Island," "Hook," "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd," "Shipwrecked," "Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island," and of course "The Goonies." Needless to say, it's been a scurvy good month!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Arrr! Here be another adventure for Mommy, Daddy and Madison: Lego Pirates! Daddy picked this up yesterday, and after "sampling" it yesterday, we thought we'd let Madison give it a try on the cooperation mode. A few hours later, Daddy and Madison were still playing a bit, with the promise of picking it up again some day soon. We got it to get into the pirate spirit of things, but I will say this: Madison picked up the concepts right away. She's four. She knew how to jump in directions, build things, ride animals, swim and move things about. Daddy didn't have to say much to teach her the basics - she just sort of figured it out all for herself. She loved it! All night long, she was saying, "Arrr!"

Tonight, Mommy and Daddy watched "Treasure Island" with Robert Newton. Great flick if you're looking for pirates! We have a lot of pirate movies, actually. We've been cycling through them as if it were Christmas time and we were watching Christmas movies!

Madison was at church this morning, and had a wonderful time, as usual. This past visit, she made clouds on blue construction paper, by gluing on pieces of cotton (Not Mr. Cotton, mind you). What was neat about this was when Mommy asked her who made the clouds: she said, "Jesus."

The watermelon and cantaloupe has been been SO GOOD right now. Perfectly in season. We've really been enjoying that - there's not much better than delicious watermelon on a hot day in May!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

At World's End

Daddy had a birthday party to attend to today, and then work - so it was quite a busy time, but in the meantime Madison has been very helpful with Mommy, picking up the slack. Together, the two worked on peeling the paint on the back deck. Madison actually dragged Mommy out there when the weather got cool enough to return outside - talk about a serious worker.

Mommy and Madison have been working daily on workbooks that teach numbers, letters, sequences, shapes, sounds and more. Madison has been really into these books, which makes Mommy and Daddy obviously very pleased. It's great to see her so enthused to learn - we hope that's a condition that continues for the rest of her life!

Today's temperature was hot. Hot, hot, hot - just like the Buster Pointdexter song. It's as if someone pressed the "hot" button on us. There was no gradual warming trend. Only days ago it was "unseasonably cool," and now it is "unseasonably hot."

About one night per week, just around sunset, Daddy and Madison sit out on the deck - and watch for bats. This started when we saw one a few weeks ago. It was flittering two and fro, looking for some bugs to eat no doubt. Now it is one of those things: we go outside and watch for bats. It's really just an excuse to sit outside when it is cooling off, but still we look and wait for that moment when the bats start to flap about. It's just before the sun sets, right about that time you see the green flash on the horizon...

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Stranger Tides

Here's a shot of Mommy and Daddy as pirates - along with some other members of the crew as we set sail for adventure tonight with the release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Madison spent the evening with Ye-Ye and Nana, going to the local mini-golf course for what I assume is Madison's first swing at golf. She had a great time, although Nana said the par for the last hole was apparently something like 84.

Madison did dress up like a pirate as well, so there were three pirates leaving the house tonight. We had a good time - and it was a pretty good movie too. I know critics aren't liking it so much, but pirate movies generally get a better review from me, and the character of Jack Sparrow is a favorite of Mommy and Daddy. So all in all, we liked the movie, saw some hidden things, and made note that they left it wide open for a sequel. Standard pirate movie stuff. What was fun about tonight was that we met several others from the church, and many of us decided to dress up as pirates for the big night. The last two "Pirates" movies, we've dressed up as well - but those were before Madison came along. We actually went to midnight showings of those, and that atmosphere is something else. Someday, Madison will come to a midnight showing with us - but that'll be a long time from now.

Speaking of premieres, today was the big opening of the new Star Tours ride down at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I was blessed to get to ride this during it's final year last time, but we just missed the grand opening this go around. Still, we got to watch the live webcast this morning, where George Lucas and many others showed up to kick things off with a big ceremony. Madison watched intently - I'm so proud of my little geek! She's 39" tall right now, and if the ride still has a requirement of 40" to get on when we return, I'm going to give her platform shoes! Seriously, she might grow an inch between now and then. You never know!

By the way, you can really see the sea monkeys swimming about now! Madison has been able to watch them moving around the aquarium. This was pretty cool, and after watching the movie tonight, considerably safer than having a mermaid!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pre-Ballet Recital

Tonight was the big night! It was time for the pre-ballet recital, and everyone was excited. Mommy got Madison's hair just right, and dressed her very nicely as well, although they had special outfits to wear to tonight's performance.

Doesn't she look great? Goodness, Mommy and Daddy were talking tonight about how much more grown-up she looks in this picture. Don't grow up too fast, Madison!
Here's another nice photo of
our tiny dancer as she looks out the window and waits for her chance to perform. Nana and Ye-Ye came along to catch the big event, and we all got front row seats to catch the great performance. There were plenty of parents there - and grandparents too, and everyone (for the most part) sat patiently waiting for their kids to get dressed nad ready to go. There was even a professional photographer there to snap pictures of the girls in front of a backdrop. Mommy purchased a few of the photos, so we should be seeing those pretty soon in the mail, but I'll tell you this: it'll be hard to beat some of the photos that were taken tonight and shown on this page here. I don't know - we'll post the others when we get them and maybe we can compare! Anyway, the photographer took individual shots of each dancer, and even a group shot.

Here's the entire group, although it was a bit harder to get them to sit still as you can see. They've been practicing since March 17th, and Madison has really enjoyed being here each Thursday night. The only one we missed was last Thursday, when we were down in Florida. Other than that, she's been to each practice, even through all the AD33 practices at the church.
Mommy took this photo tonight, and we both like it a lot. There were a lot of good photos taken tonight of Madison: she was quite happy to be the ballerina girl. As for the performance itself, it was about a half hour long. It featured exercises to demonstrate that the girls knew what the different dance positions were when called out, and there were also a few dance routines in there as well. Madison did very well for the most part, although the presentation was far from perfect. Not that anyone actually expects perfection (I hope). This sort of thing is just an introduction to ballet, hence the term "pre-ballet." When you're dealing with four and five-year-olds, you pretty much know what to expect when showing up to a ballet recital, and tonight's performance didn't disappoint. It was very cute. Ye-Ye and Nana loved it, and so did Mommy and Daddy. We're so very proud of Madison!

In fact, you can see here the flowers Daddy got for her - after the production. It was a dozen pink roses to our favorite little dancer. Bravo, Madison! Bravo!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

180 Days

The hatching of the sea monkey eggs has begun! We'll keep you posted, but Madison has poured the eggs into the aquarium, which Mommy has made sure was the right temperature for some healthy baby sea monkeys.

Our house will have quite a few pets soon enough - right after these eggs hatch. What to name them? Hmmm... that'll be the fun part with Madison, although I doubt we'll be able to keep track of them. Indeed, we probably won't even be able to photograph them, I don't think.

We'll give it a try though. They'll end up looking something like this, actually. This close-up shot is not quite as cute as the packaging suggests, but they are tiny little living creatures, so we'll do our very best and take care of them. Animal rights organizations need not fear: they'll last a whole lot longer in this environment than they would in the ocean. AND, as a bonus, they get to live nearby a spacious pink castle and have a dependable amount of food rain down from the surface, right as rain! I'll see about taking some snaps when the little guys have grown up a bit. Stay tuned!

We have a big weekend ahead of us, of course. Tomorrow night is the ballet recital, and the next night is the premiere of the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. After that, the end of the world is predicted, so I'm a little fuzzy on our plans for Sunday. But we'll still plan a service for the kids on Sunday that features more pirate excitement. That's right: the pillaging and plundering never ends this month!

On a semi-unrelated note, Daddy made reservations today for the mack-daddy of all restaurants in Disney World: Cinderella's Royal Table. This one is nigh impossible to find reservations for, even if you're calling two months ahead of time. Trust me on that one: it's why we didn't go last time. BUT, in 180 days, we'll be at Disney. And in 180 days, Daddy has made reservations for Madison to go to Cinderella's Royal Table and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique as well. Daddy called about the boutique too, and discovered that it was already filling up for November - and that he'd better hurry up if he wanted an open spot. So that I did, all that to say we've got a nice day planned for Madison 180 days from now.

Maybe by that point, our little sea monkeys will be all grown-up and house trained!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bye-bye! I'll Miss You!

We played Candy Land today when Daddy got home for work, and Madison said one of the funniest things. We were going neck and neck when suddenly she got a card that put her way ahead of Daddy.

Picking up her gingerbread man, she turned before moving it and said, "Bye-bye Daddy! I'll miss you!"

What a taunt! She didn't really mean it that way, of course. She was speaking for her gingerbread character who was spending a lot of time with my gingerbread character. But it sounded so funny that Mommy and I started laughing immediately.

Yes, Madison won the game. But she was polite enough to wait for me to get to the end too, where our gingerbread men had a very happy reunion!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sea Monkey Day

Just in case you didn't know it, today is Sea Monkey Day. I'm not sure who authorized this, but they sure get my vote! In fact, I think this should be a national platform in the 2012 elections. Just saying.

Today to celebrate, we started our sea monkey aquarium with step one: that's where you fill the tank up with water, and then add the water purifier. Madison is seen here, stirring up the water purifier just after she added it into the tank. We have to wait twenty-four hours before adding the sea monkey eggs, so you can just imagine all the breathless anticipation around here! Currently, we don't have any pets in the house - but that's about to change dramatically!

Tonight, Mommy and Daddy are going to have a date night - we're going to watch "Thor." Just in case you don't remember what Thor looks like:

While we're out, Madison will get to go see Nana and Ye-Ye for a while, something she hasn't done in over a week - she'll have a great time!

It's been a good day for cleaning up around the house - and fixing up the car. The story of the day might just be the weather. It's very cold for May. Sure, fifty-nine degrees doesn't sound like a big deal. But for May in Georgia, that's downright unusual.

Despite the temperature, today has been a nice, relaxing day. Things will get back to normal soon enough!

Genie: And your name is...?
Thor: I'm Thor.
Genie: You're Thor?
Thor: Well, it hurts.

("Aladdin and the King of Thieves")

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Peace and Butterflies

Here's Madison, our little hippie daughter! We went to a butterfly release today after church, and while we were waiting in the field, Mommy made her a crown of flowers. She liked this so much we made a necklace as well. Madison is seen here, making the peace sign - and ready to go on a protest march somewhere. I haven't the slightest idea what she'd be protesting at this time though: we've had a lot of fun lately.

Today's latest example was the butterfly release that was held at Wilshire Park in Gainesville. Just about anyone who wanted one received one of thousands of butterflies - shown here at the right. The butterflies were inside these packages, just waiting to be released, which happened as those running the show made the call: "Five... four... three... two... one!" Madison, Mommy, Daddy and the thousand or so other people there released their butterflies in the air, which of course was a wonderful result. The air was filled with fluttering butterflies, and the children's faces were filled with awe.

Here we are, just before the big event. We were surrounded by friends from the church, and the weather was just right for a big outdoor event. Meteorologists are saying it is too cool for this time of year, but we didn't mind this afternoon!

There were other activities at the park as well - at one booth, Madison had her face painted! This was the first time for her, actually. She had a butterfly painted on her cheek, which produced an even greater look for her. Here she is, our little hippie, ready for a peace march at Haight-Ashbury! *

✿◕‿◕✿ ❀◕‿◕❀ ❁◕‿◕❁ ✾◕‿◕✾

*Incidentally, Daddy has been there from time to time. We had a significant layover in San Francisco one time, so we spent a few hours walking around that area - and eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We didn't do that today, but dudes: we did stop by Dairy Queen afterwards for some mind-altering Dilly Bars and a chocolate-covered cherry Blizzard.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Stitch's Trouble game has been lots of fun for Daddy and Madison.

Madison loves game night and game time - we had a lot of that today. It was sort of a clean-up kind of day, although we were just a bit too worn out to do anything large scale. Vacations can wear you out!

The weather was the big surprise - it sure is cool here in Georgia. Unusually cool, actually. It feels great during the daytime, but at night it's almost like you need to put another fire in the fireplace: in MAY!

Homeward Bound

FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2011

Driving home was uneventful. But we sure were tired when we got there! It was Friday the 13th, but we saw no bad luck on this trip, only favor on the way home. The morning featured a bittersweet goodbye to Ba-ba and Nana, who packed some meals for us to have along the way - that way we wouldn't have to stop at any restaurants. It was a straight shot home, except for the traditional stop in Valdosta to look at the book stores: always there are plenty of cheap books to look for, and we usually wind up with several. Mommy picked up some Feng shei books, and we picked up a few things for Madison's birthday party as well!

Also nearby, there's the traditional stop at the Georgia Welcome Center. Sorry guys: Florida's Welcome Center is much cooler. That's probably because we stop there and it's on the way TO a vacation, whereas Georgia's is on the way home. Also, there's a lot of much cooler stuff in Florida, which probably explains why it is such a vacation destination.

Back to the trip home: no traffic whatsoever. We got home safe and sound, and everything was quiet in the house. The only disturbing site might have been the uber weeds that have begun to grow in the front. We have a harvest of large, disturbing green things and even Madison recognized it's time to start pulling. She got home and said, "Weeeeed!"

Downtown Disney

THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011

Can you believe we stayed most of the day at Downtown Disney? We did just about everything you can do there for a while, including getting a bunch more Disney pins. We didn't get so much this time in the way of souvenirs, so we got ourselves more pins than we usual, making up for a few years of not getting pins. Still, our collection is pretty huge. Nothing epic, but certainly more than enough. It's more of a casual exercise, and nothing addictive or all consuming. Above you can see Madison in the Disney pin store at Downtown Disney, just before we went back to T-Rex!

Yes, this time we walked right in again. We sat near the ice age, and got ourselves a pretty hearty lunch. Daddy ordered a Brontoburger, but felt a little guilty afterwards - is it because of appetites like mine that the brontosaurus is extinct? It was a great meal, and the next thing we did was fun too:

We built a dinosaur. You've heard of Build-a-Bear. Well, here at T-Rex, they build dinosaurs. It's a pretty big operation, where you pick the color, add the stuffing and add the heart too. Then comes the fun part: the accessories. Mommy and Madison spent a while shopping for clothes, actually trying them on - along with shoes, purses and necklaces. There were a lot of outfits for your dinosaur, but Madison found one she was happy with and carried it with her the rest of the day. Her dinosaur is registered by the way and has a birth certificate, sort of like Cabbage Patch Kids, but slightly more lizard-like. Madison's dinosaur's name is Dinah. Yes, Mommy and Daddy helped with that one. By the way, as a slight aside, it appears as if Madison likes the stegosaurus. That's the kind of dinosaur Dinah is, but additionally, Madison was quick to point out the stegosaurus at the Universe of Energy yesterday.

ANYWAY, we stopped by Cirque du Soleil again - we're about to buy tickets for Drallion soon in August, and looking forward to that. We're just waiting for a sale price though, but we will be going to this one because it has that Asian feel.

We also stopped by the House of Blues a few times. This visit, Daddy finally got himself one of those hats - and a pair of sunglasses too. Also, Mommy got Daddy a Elwood bowling shirt that reads on the back: "We're on a mission from God."

Obviously, we had to go by Ghirardelli to get another ice cream. Madison has certainly had her fill of ice cream this trip. On our way there, Madison had another face-off with Stitch:

He shoots out jets of water at unsuspecting passersby, and here Madison is, announcing to the world that he's "naughty, naughty!"

Uh-oh. She got wet. Actually, you can tell she's loving it. They have a couple water features at Downtown Disney, and on a hot day like today, we were more than happy to let Madison run around and get wet to cool off. Here's another photo of Madison having a good time today:

There were a few more things we did today - we got some books, and Mommy got to spend some time at TrenD, a shop we both love to look around in. But the greatest thing we did today was stop by and have her silhouette cut and framed.
What a beautiful thing. This is going to be a great birthday gift for both her grandmothers - and a wonderful thing to hang on our walls at home.

Anyway, it was a great day overall. We hopped on the boat - one more boat ride! This one took us across the lake and back to where we parked the car so that we could make the trip back to Baba and Nana's house. It was a quick trip, and we were all certainly exhausted. The temperature can do that to you. But before we checked out this morning, we did one thing: you see, there was a 40% discount if you reserve your next vacation before we leave. SO, guess where we're going in November?

EPCOT'S Flower and Garden Festival


This morning we slept in a bit again. Why not? We're on vacation! We had plans to go to EPCOT later in the day, when we would be joined by Nana and Baba once more. For breakfast, we went down to the mill again - that's the restaurant at the resort. Breakfast has been good, and so has lunch, actually.

We walked around the stores there for a bit too. Daddy and Mommy got a few souvenirs, and some rice crispy Mickeys. Ever have one of those? Mommy and Madison always have to have a Rice Crispy Mickey each time they come to Disney.

Once Nana and Baba arrived, it was time for our quick ride over to EPCOT. Or, at least as quick as the bus that eventually showed up could take us. Once we arrived it was GAME ON for EPCOT's International Flower and Garden Festival.

This is another picture that Madison took with her camera. She's doing a great job, isn't she? Here, you can see the topiaries in front of the park, these two from Toy Story 3. This was a big reason we went to EPCOT this time around, as everyone enjoyed looking at the topiaries. Although Madison was more into the characters to begin with! Look who she saw just entering the park:

She's been really happy to see Daisy Duck lately. She also saw Stitch, who started to eat her autograph pen. Madison got onto Stitch: "Naughty, naughty!"

Madison does like Stitch a lot. In fact, "Lilo & Stitch" just might be her birthday party theme! We're thinking of
a luau sort of party. Aloha!
Once the two split up, we rode on Spaceship Earth, and next visited the Living Seas to find Nemo. She did find Nemo, but as you can see here, she also found Bruce the shark! Uh-oh! Madison is friend. Not food! We had a lot of fun at what we used to call the Communicore buildings - now called "Innovations." Inside these buildings there are plenty of fun activities: Madison played a piggy bank game for a while, and special card holders like ourselves had a great opportunity to meet up with the big cheese himself:

Madison was delighted! To continue our dinosaur theme - and because it was plagued hot outside, we next visited the Universe of Energy. This is a LONG ride, but it's all indoors, dark and cool. And it has DINOSAURS. So it was a win-win for Madison, and everybody actually.

Roar! That's what Madison said. After this, we saw plenty of topiaries along the way, including a whole section dedicated to Tinkerbell and Pixie Hollow. This had a playground, an interactive guide sheet that she could color in once she found all the fairies, and some other interesting things. It was nice for Madison, actually. Here's one of the fairies in a very colorful environment:

Afterwards, we went to the World Showcase, where we visited Donald and his friends in Mexico on that fun boat ride. The theme is "Where's Donald?" Fortunately, Madison found him, just outside and signing autographs!

Time to eat! Immediately afterwards we went China's Nine Dragons restaurant for dinner. We just missed Mulan again. We just missed Mulan last time too, when Daddy was vowing, "Okay, next time I promise we'll get Madison to see Mulan." And we just missed her. Again. Maybe next time.
Meanwhile, Madison enjoyed the Chinese food, of course, and enjoyed the topiaries along the World Showcase, which are set up very well. We saw Snow White, Rapunzel's Tower, Timon and Pumbaa and Lady and the Tramp. There was a lot to see - but we made time to eat at that fantastic pastry shop in France. Yummy! This has become somewhat of a tradition for us - there's a back alley area with tables and chairs where you can eat outside and people watch. It's a nice place to stop for a bit, which we did. Madison ate chocolate, while Mommy and Daddy had delicious pastries.

The final thing we did was see the fireworks show at EPCOT. It's more than fireworks, of course: it's a show called "IllumiNations," and it's worth checking out. Madison enjoyed it, although I think she enjoyed the "Wishes" show at the Magic Kingdom a bit more.

Tonight we headed back to the hotel a bit earlier than previously. The park closes earlier, which was fine by us: everyone was pretty zonked! Sometimes vacations tend to wear you out a bit. Part of the reason this time might be the temperature. No rain, but the sun was quite intense for us who aren't quite used to it.

In any event, we got back to our hotel room eventually and fell asleep quickly. We have just one more day to go on our vacation. Time goes by so fast, doesn't it?