Sunday, July 31, 2011

Krispy Kreme


Madison had her first sampling of Krispy Kreme today, which obviously is a big moment. It's a rite of passage. A sacrament!

Ba-Ba picked up the doughnuts earlier, and Madison had that glazed look about her. She asked the question, "What's that?"

"You have not because you ask not."

Soon, she was munching on a delicious Krispy Kreme doughnut, nibbling on it until it was gone. We didn't give her an entire doughnut for fear she'd be bouncing off the walls. Half a doughnut would be just fine, and she was pretty happy about that.

Today was the last Sunday of our "Kung Pow" series, and so we had one final "Foot Fist Fiesta." Daddy arranged for a black belt to come in and do battle with our ninja character, and the kids loved it. Madison enjoyed coming to the younger kids' chapel this morning as well - it is so good to have her in church and enjoying it.

The temperature is hot outside. I don't need to give specifics. Just imagine something uncomfortable and muggy, where you break into a sweat just walking around in it. That's the kind of hot it is. Even at night!

Speaking of which, I think I'll go and heat up one of those doughnuts now...!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wisdom


Here he is, the real star of "Raiders of Wu Tang," or "Raiders of the Shaolin Temple." His name is Wisdom, and he's the real star of this movie. Daddy loves this guy! Some day Madison will see these videos we've been making - for our "Kung Pow" series, we've taken old movies like this and completely removed the audio. Then, we've added sound effects and new dialogue to make them pretty fun. Three of the videos we've made actually come from this one movie, and Wisdom is the star of each, a wise teacher who likes to whack his students on the head with a big stick. Obviously, he has to learn compassion. But he also has to learn other virtues throughout this series, namely courage and determination. It's been a lot of fun!

Today we finished this last video, but we also started filming for our upcoming outdoor series, "Roughin' It." We went to Panther Creek and began filming some quick segments when suddenly the sky opened up and rain poured down on us, stranding us under a shelter deep in the woods. We were stuck there for about an hour, just waiting for the rain to stop.

It went on and on. But in some ways, that was okay. It was so nice up there away from it all, and the sound of rain in the forest like that is something that is quite relaxing. We were next to a creek, and the weather was considerably cooler with the rainfall.

Meanwhile, Madison spent the day at home with Ba-Ba, Nana and Mommy. When Daddy came home, she hollered out, "Where have you been?" She was quite insistent that Daddy read a book to her, so I found one I knew she'd like:

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB

This is a simple book about things you find at school: rabbits, lunch, swings, slides, and an occasional teacher. Madison enjoyed looking at the pictures as Daddy read the words and showed her some of the things she'd be discovering in just a few weeks. All but the school bus: we don't get to ride on one of those yet. She enjoyed this book, so we'll have to pull it out again as we get closer to the first day of classes.

Madison is really looking forward to school. Unlike Daddy, who when he was her age, did not. In fact, Daddy dreaded it. I can still picture myself praying that God would somehow send me back in time a few months so that I could postpone the inevitable. I really did not like school. But Madison on the other hand, is fearless. She loves meeting new people and loves trying out new things. I believe she'll be just fine. She'll go to school, enjoy it, and gain... wisdom!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Big River


Tonight, Mommy and Daddy had date night along the Mississippi River. We went over to the Cumming Playhouse to see a few friends in a wonderful performance of "Big River," which is pretty much the story of Huckleberry Finn. This is one of Daddy's favorite books, and after tonight, one of Mommy and Daddy's favorite productions. This play was put together very well - we both enjoyed our time very much!


The costumes and set were great, and the story followed along with the book nicely, although some bits were left out for time. The Cumming Playhouse itself is a fascinating building I've never been to before, and during our intermission we explored the rooms of what used to be an old school house that may have been built about the time Mark Twain was writing, I reckon!

Madison stayed with Nana and Ba-Ba tonight, and was quite insistent about how things ought to be. There is a pattern to everything, Nana discovered, and Madison made it quite clear where the toothbrush goes, which toothpaste to use, and who to pray for at prayer time. Needless to say, Nana was quite amused!

It was another full day at work, and Madison had a full day helping with the deck, reading her books and watching "The Backyardigans." She's also been watching "Higglytown Heroes" again lately, probably because she saw a clip of them in a They Might Be Giants DVD Daddy plugged in a few days ago. Anyway, you can see for yourself it was a big day - one which ended with a "Big River."

"That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth."
- Huckleberry Finn

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Puppet Show


Nana and Madison put on an extensive puppet show this morning, using Madison's pet bee, and an old favorite, Lambchop. Today was a day off for everyone, although Ba-Ba spent some time clearing off the deck this morning with a pressure washer. We'll all get to take turns with that one, hopefully - but the heat got to be so much that we retreated indoors for the middle of the day. And just look at all the puppet excitement inside!


Madison is really enjoying her time with Nana and Ba-Ba. Tonight, there's ballet practice - Mommy, Daddy and Madison will be heading out to that, but until then, it'll be indoors all the way. Later on, Daddy plans on grilling some burgers when the evening sets in. Summer time is nice, but it can be so hot sometimes! Still, it was a group effort after dinner - we attacked the back deck together - even Madison!


It was time to hit the deck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mommy's Okay!


Here's a photo Daddy took of Madison watching a movie in the office. We've got a few options for her to watch different things, but this time, our friend Daniel chose to join her. They both look pretty comfortable!

This morning, Mommy visited the hospital with Daddy for a special procedure. God is good: we've got good news. Although the radiation therapy from a few years ago did a number on her insides, at least there's no reoccurrence of anything nasty. Mommy is healthy!

But it was a long night for her, and an early morning too. The end result is a day of well-deserved rest. Madison spent much of the day playing with Nana and Ba-Ba, and nobody minded!

Daddy spent the day at work, and even delivered the message tonight. We're still in the midst of "Kung Pow," and the message was about the virtue of honor. It went pretty well, but I couldn't wait to get home to Mommy to make sure all was well: it was. Today was a good day.

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB


Madison has been really into this book lately. Do not ask me why. We found this one last year and thought it was pretty fun - the entire book is written in a different language! I'm not saying it isn't English: The book is written with a whole lot of snowboarding lingo, so much that there is even a glossary in the back. Looking at the pictures gives you enough of a clue as to the story, and the snowboarding terms are fun to learn if you don't recognize them. It doesn't matter so much to Madison either way - she enjoys the book very much.

It makes you wonder if she'll be into snowboarding in the near future. Perhaps she'll be the next Winter X Games star! You never know...!

Though Daddy likes to ski, the closest he's come to snowboarding is "SSX Tricky," which we were pretty addicted to "back in the day." There's a new game coming out with a release date in January, so maybe we can be playing together. And maybe Madison will be inspired to try it for real and become a real life Kaori Nishidake!


"Why so snarky, sparky?" - Elise Riggs

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Papercraft

We've been printing out and trying some papercrafts lately - here's an example:


This is Belle. We cut out the pieces and glued them together for Mommy today - Madison helped hold the pieces together and even helped putting the glue on. These particular papercrafts aren't too complicated, but they do require a bit of patience!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB


"How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" Madison likes this book a lot, but who wouldn't? It's about dinosaurs! Some of these dinosaurs have manners to learn, but others are remarkably well-behaved. The question posed on the front cover is answered thoroughly: several dinosaurs don't do so well. But everyone learns, and the later portions of the book show dinosaurs acting polite and doing the right thing at night time.

Goodnight, our little dinosaur!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beware the Backson


Yes, beware that Backson! At least, that's what the gang at 100 Acre Wood think. After their whole experience with Lumpy the Heffalump, you'd think they'd learn that just because someone looks different, they aren't automatically a threat to civilization as we know it.

In case you're curious about what we're talking about here, today Madison, Mommy and Daddy went to see the latest Winnie the Pooh movie, which is called - oddly enough - "Winnie the Pooh." That should clear things up a bit.

Back to the Backson, and the story in the movie: it's yet another misinterpretation by Owl from a note by Christopher Robin. This note ends, "Be Back Soon." But Owl sees "Backson," and further explains that the Backson is a pretty awful creature that has kidnapped Christopher Robin in the first place. Uh-oh!

SO, they must construct a trap to capture this creature - and part of this plan involves a great big hole.


Traps in 100 Acre Wood generally tend to go this way. But no worries - there's a happy ending to the flick. Mommy and Daddy had a great time watching it with Madison, who was paying close attention all the way through. By the way, if you stay after the credits, you'll find out for yourself that the Backson is actually a decent sort of fellow.


For years, they had several new releases of "Winnie the Pooh" movies in theaters - all before Madison came along. We've been sort of waiting for that big moment when we could take her to one of these movies, so today was kind of special!

We had some more tennis lessons afterwards, and beforehand was a visit to the old house to clean it up a bit. It was hot today, but fortunately the rain came and cooled things off a bit with some overcast skies. It was a pretty active day, one where just about everyone went to bed early. In fact, I think I'm turning in myself... goodnight!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alfred, Lord Tennis Anyone?


Today, Ba-Ba and Nana made sure that Madison could have her first experience with tennis: they got her a special tennis set for smaller kids, and together everyone went to the front yard for some lobbing back and forth.
Here she is!
It took a bit for her to get into the swing of things, so to speak, but with proper guidance from Ba-Ba and Nana, she started to get the hang of it. Each of us took a turn on the pitcher's mound, pretending to be a tennis ball machine, nervously tossing that yellow ball towards Madison, who swung her tennis racket like a lumber jack trying to fell a tree with one strike. There were quite a few misses initially - if you're one to believe a butterfly's wings can cause a hurricane further down the road, then someone somewhere had better get ready for a category five - because Madison was swinging hard! She provided air conditioning for the whole neighborhood!
And look here:
She was hitting them back! She darted a few fastballs back to Daddy or Ba-Ba, depending on who was throwing - and she was having a great time doing it. Each time, she'd celebrate and get more comfortable for the next swing. She'd pull back on the racket like it was a baseball bat, and swing it all the way around, making solid contact to the delight of everyone around. It was fun exercise - Madison was sweating a whole lot by the time it was done. Part of that was the heat outside: even though it was dusk, the temperature was still a bit on the warm side.

In any event, it was a fun day. We started it at church, continuing with our series, Kung Pow! Afterwards, we ate sub sandwiches that Mommy made, and read some books afterwards. Oh, and I can't forget the ice cream: we definitely had ice cream. Madison had a big bowl with sprinkles, and cleaned the bowl so there wasn't a drop left. It's funny to tell her about her first experience with ice cream: she didn't like it. She was quite young, but she simply opened her mouth and let it fall out. It was cold, and that was new - and it was sugary sweet, and that wasn't anything she was used to. So, she just spit it out!

Can't imagine her doing that ever again, can you?

*********

In honor of today's tennis achievement, here below is one of Daddy's favorite conversations from the television show, "Space Ghost." Enjoy!

Zorak:
Here's a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennisanyone.

Brak:
O, o, o, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of the day that is dead
Will never come back to me.


Space Ghost:
Hey, Brak, what does that poem mean?

Brak:
The poem speaks of a yearning for that which is lost, um, a hunger for... somethin' to EAT!

Space Ghost:
Nothin' works up an appetite in the old Space Ghost more than a couple stanzas of classical verse.

Zorak:
Boy howdy.

Brak:
Corned beef would be good right now. I just happen to know, don't ask me how, that Alfred, Lord Tennisshoe, ate corned beef and sauerkraut morning, noon, and night. That's why his nickname was Reuben. Reuben, Lord Tennisshoe. And his buddies would say "Hey, Reuben, write another poem, buddy!" and, and then he'd say "Okay, but lemme finish my sandwich first!"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Want to Ride My Tricycle


Madison had some fun on her tricycle this evening - really, when the sun goes down it hasn't bee so bad here. Elsewhere in the country, there's apparently a heat "dome" that has been making everyone miserable with temperatures over 100 degrees - even at night!

Nana and Ba-Ba have been with us, helping make the house nice at night - even Madison got in on the act, picking up cut branches and carrying them down to the woods. We all did a little work together to get things in order outside a bit. Every little thing counts towards the end - it's a big project, making the house look better. But we've been steadily working towards that goal.

Daddy did work today, but not in such an epic way, which was nice. It was good to go home and share a pizza with everyone for dinner!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Join Us

Daddy got the new They Might Be Giants CD today, and while it isn't a project aimed at children, that doesn't mean Madison won't be listening to some of their kids music, or even watching some of the DVDs such as "Here Comes the ABCs."

At bedtime, Madison has had Lady and the Tramp with her each night, which made for a straight up sort of bedtime story this evening: Daddy told the story of Lady and the Tramp. When done, Madison stretched out her arms to show Daddy, "That was a biiig story."

Nana and Ba-Ba went to see a big tennis match in Atlanta today, but boy was it hot. It sort of wears you down! They all got little fans to use, and gave Madison one of them - it has a picture of a tennis ball on it.

It wasn't a terribly eventful day for Madison, although her potty training is nearly complete. This past month has been a landmark month - she's just about mastered it, and we're pretty close to giving her a merit badge.

Here is what it should look like. We'll add that to the other merit badges on the list! Speaking of which, we've got another great theme and series coming up in August for KidPak - this one is called, "Roughin' It." It is one we've done before, but it was a good one. Daddy should be able to take a minor break from writing, and focus on a lot of other things. Another thing that Daddy can do is enjoy the series more, and do thing related to it. For example: we can set up a tent in the back yard! Wouldn't that be great? Can't wait to post some pictures of that, where Madison, Mommy and Daddy do a mini-camping expedition in our own back yard!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Full Day, Really

Madison once again had princess ballet classes tonight at the aquatic center - and although these take place at the aquatic center, the classes themselves do not involve any of the students actually getting wet. Just needed to point that out.

Today was a long day off, but a hot one. "Torrid" might actually be an appropriate word. And though storms rumbled all around us, once again we didn't really see a drop of rain. Fortunately, the cloud covering swept in and cooled things down a bit for us by evening - it was enjoyable to sit out on the front porch and read a book on the rocking chair. What a blessing to be able to do that.

Madison and Daddy started out the day with her map, identifying a couple key states. A recent study on how much Americans know about geography sort of inspired Daddy to return to the map. Madison knows Florida really well - that's the one with the big alligator and the oranges on it. But it's also the one where Nana and Ba-Ba live, and the location of the Happiest Place on Earth. Madison also knows Georgia, which is easy to find because there's a big honkin' peach on it. We were learning other states too, with Daddy actually pulling out his license plate collection (not hung up on the garage wall yet), and showing Madison the different states with exciting plates. The map is great because I could pull out a Michigan plate and say, "Where are cars made? Do you see the car?" And she'd point it out. Then I'd pull out the Colorado one with mountains on it and ask, "Do you see the big mountains?" She found that one too. We had a little fun with geography this morning. But speaking of license plates, Madison's choice for the new state license plate has made the final three. I personally think it'll be the one!

We read a few more books, and even had time to play legos for a bit. But tummies were rumbling, and soon it was time to eat. Our late lunch/early dinner was HUGE! Daddy grilled burgers and hot dogs as Mommy prepared another epic meal inside. We ate like it was Memorial Day or the Fourth of July! Madison kept eating corn - and watermelon of course. She can't resist those two, and this season both have been absolutely delicious!

Tonight Nana, Mommy and Madison watched "Gnomeo and Juliet," and sat on the couch munching popcorn. Nana hadn't seen it before, and really enjoyed it - watching a flick with Madison beside her. Afterwards, it was off to bed and another bedtime story from "100 Acre Wood."

It's been a full day, really.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh, snap!

Madison had a GREAT time this morning playing "Snap" with Nana. It's a simple card game, and for this morning's experience, the two used Madison's Tinkerbell cards. It was so funny watching Madison all tense and just waiting to pounce on that pile of cards. One by one, Nana and then Madison and Nana and then Madison would place cards on the pile, each ready to scream out, "Snap!"

Madison obviously won, but everyone had a great time - even those not playing. We all had a lot of fun simply watching the tension build!

This afternoon, Mommy, Madison and Daddy went to the pre-K to register Madison for the upcoming school season. We start very soon - August 16th, I think! It is a great school which should help her with speaking, and get her used to the whole school concept before heading off to the big show: kindergarten.

After registering together, it was time for a meal. What a nice experience, going out to Chick-Fil-A with the family. Daddy and Mommy split a tasty peach milkshake, and Madison scarfed down a big meal: she was hungry!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Visiting from Florida

Nana and Ba-Ba arrived from Florida last night, and Madison couldn't be more excited! Today was a day for a bit of catching up, with Madison climbing all over Ba-Ba and serving up fake ice cream to Nana.

There was a visit to the chiropractor, and a trip to the grocery store - but after that, there was time for more fun together. Mommy cooked up an incredible Mexican feast with fajitas and tacos, and everyone enjoyed some time together.

It's been a busy day, although nothing particularly exciting happened. Madison loves going to see Doc Williams of course. She had a great time, giggling and running out the office to go get her sticker. The grocery store visit had Madison in one of those plastic cars that sits low and in front of the shopping cart, which was something new and fun for Madison. She loves to get out and help when it's time to put the items on the conveyor belt at the register. She's quite insistent that she helps, and so the end result was some sort of fire brigade effect, like the guys used to do when passing along buckets of water.

Having conquered Lego Pirates, Daddy and Madison are now in "Indiana Jones" mode, battling Mola Rom in the Temple of Doom. Boy, that brings back memories: Daddy was just a kid when that movie came out. I used to imagine myself tangling with thuggees or racing down tracks on an old mine car. Now, here we are doing it again with Madison. This is a movie she won't be seeing for a long time, but for now it's great to see her all into it.

Last night, Madison had a nightmare. I mention this because it is very rare that this happens. The last time may have been two years ago - she woke up screaming in the middle of the night. Last night, she woke up crying. She told Daddy she was all alone in her dream, and that did it: Mommy and Daddy wanted her to sleep in our bed for the rest of the night. Again, this was the first time this happened.

Tonight's bedtime story featured her giant ladybug friend. This thing is roughly the size and shape of a bowling ball, although it is a stuffed animal. The ladybug in the story did something very noble: he protected Madison (and Lady) from the mean old dog catcher. The Ladybug generally did this by stomping on his face. This seemed to work: the dog catcher did not return. And so, the Ladybug vowed to stand guard the rest of the evening - a vigilant sentry watching over Lady and Madison as they slept through the night. What a hero! Goodnight everyone: we're sleeping well tonight knowing the giant ladybug is near!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kung Pow Madison


Here she is, the queen of Kung Pow! Madison came to church today dressed in a very special outfit. This is the one that Ye-Ye and Nana got her when we were actually in China. At the time, they were way too big - and now they fit just fine.


Here she is, doing the crane position. She's our own karate kid, having learned this position from this series. I'm honestly not sure where she learned this from - it's more than likely from watching the others try it. Emphasis on the word "try."


Here's some of our group once more, but with two additions: Mommy and Madison. Today was such a great day at children's church - we had a great service that was lots of fun. Madison was so cute running into church today, all dressed up. And Mommy looks great too!


Here's our family shot, although Daddy looks a bit unusual, of course. Daddy is Professor Wisenheimer, just one of the visiting sensei this series - and of course, the one who writes it all. I really like this picture a lot!


Here she is again, posturing for a sparring match. She's always ready for a sparring session with other cast members and staff workers too - each time she comes in, she bows with her hands clasped together, and then gets ready to attack!


She's Daddy's girl. She's Mommy's girl too, of course...


We have a wonderful family!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Princess Pencil Case



Madison still scribbles - obviously.

She's just starting to scribble with colored pencils too, and has recently received a pencil case from us, which makes an interesting story that goes back a LONG ways.

To be more precise: she received this container as a parting gift from her orphanage back in 2008. We were handed this pencil case the day we were handed Madison. How appropriate: it has Disney Princesses on it. It's like they already knew...

For a few years now, we've had this gift in storage because she wasn't quite old enough to handle colored pencils. Only recently have we pulled it out... one final small gift from her orphanage.


Today is another anniversary - July is full of 'em! Can you guess which one it is?

Friday, July 15, 2011

We Got a Bill of Sale Right Here!

So as budget talks loom, much of the nation is taking sides about what to do about our economy and so forth. By the time Madison reads and understands all this, it'll probably be just a footnote in history, but it's a pretty big foot note right now: things are tough for many people right now.

Fortunately, God's grace has been on our family - pure and simple. We take no credit, but we're not going to complain either!

Related to the economy: our taxes. Sure, tax season was like a few months ago. So we submitted everything with a big national tax preparation service that you've probably heard of before. This year will be the final year we get our adoption tax credit, so we should get some money back. Eventually.

You see, IN ORDER to get our REFUND, we had to go through a few more hurdles. We recently got a letter from our government asking us to prove that we spent money adopting Madison. Well... duh?


"We got a bill of sale right here that says she belongs to us! We bought her fair and square last year and we own that little cuss!"

Fortunately, Daddy kept good records and Mommy has been working hard to assemble everything from a few years ago. It's been a lot of work, but she sent that off - and hopefully we'll be getting our refund soon. Personally, I think this is all part of a larger plan to stall and not send our money back so soon, which is a topic that ties neatly to how this whole blog entry started: our budget. Hopefully OUR budget will be affected positively when we get back that refund we're supposed to get!

Madison had no classes today, so she spent much of the day assisting Mommy in straightening up the house: we're having visitors this weekend! On Sunday, Nana and Ba-Ba are on their way up here for a few weeks of fun together. Daddy has a few days built that he can take off of work, so hopefully we can all go out together and do something fun!

In the meantime, the house is getting cleaned up. Today's big accomplishment: the garage. While not completely empty, it can now actually fit cars in it! We've been so busy with everything that we haven't been able to properly move things in yet, so this was a big deal. Of course, a lot of the "stuff" is downstairs right now, waiting to be organized. But at least it is out of the way! We'll get to that soon enough - we're doing well getting things in order. Soon, we'll be hanging stuff on the walls and it'll look more and more like the home we dream it will be. Soon!

The rain fell today - and so did the temperature: dramatically! We're talking as much as thirty degrees! It was so pleasant that we had the windows open as well. One of Daddy's favorite sounds is that of the rain pitter-pattering on the leaves of trees outside on a summer afternoon, accompanied by the quiet rumbles of thunder off overhead the birds as they chirp to each other about a beautiful day. It was one of those sorts of days outside - although some may call it "gloomy," I think everyone can agree we need the rain, and also the cool of the day.

Madison and Daddy attempted something we should try again later: Darth Vader. It was a lego Darth Vader, and Daddy thought that with his help, we could put this thing together within a couple hours. Of course, the problem was that Daddy himself couldn't quite do it right (in my defense, the instructions were not exactly perfect). SO, we have half of a Darth Vader currently. With a few pieces out of line. Daddy put it back in the box - we'll try again in a few years when Madison is an degree in engineering.

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB

While we were busy attempting to build Darth Vader, Mommy found plenty of her old books in the garage. Tonight, Daddy read one to Madison: "The Little Ballerina."


This is a book that Mommy actually had when she was Madison's age (which, of course, was only a few years ago!). It is a very sweet book, and as Daddy read the entire thing to Madison, she was completely focused and riveted. She was so into the theme, and waited patiently for Daddy to read the pages in their entirety. She loved the pictures, and Daddy did too. It was a really sweet moment reading this booklet to Madison, made even more special knowing Mommy used to have this book as a child too. It is dated, but that's what makes it wonderful. Most importantly, Madison enjoyed it just as much as any movie or video game. For a just a bit tonight, she herself was the little ballerina.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Camping Out

Okay, so the title is deceiving: we didn't camp out. But we are pretty "camped out" today, as this morning we had Music Camp - and tonight we had our princess ballerina lessons. It was a busy day for Madison, who had a great time, but at the same time was pretty tired at the end of the day.

The good news is that the temperature seems to be dropping a bit. The rain fell down late today and tonight, and the skies stayed overcast: things stayed wet and gloomy, but right now that's preferable to the oppressive heat.

We signed Madison up for more music classes today, which we think is a good decision. These target playing the keyboard, although there will be more than that learned. Obviously, learning to play the piano is a big deal - but also learning much about music will be useful as well. We'll see if it works out, but at the present, she does enjoy being in class. And she enjoys playing notes on her keyboard. Soon she'll be playing some music for us!


Speaking of music, here's a photo of Boba Fett playing clarinet. It's actually a reference to a part of a song by Weird Al Yankovic, one of Daddy's guilty pleasures. I think I have all of his CDs, and recently for our anniversary, Mommy got me his latest CD, "Alpocalypse." It's a great selection, and it's awesome to have Weird Al back in the playlist. Weird Al and Daddy go back a long, long ways - back to the days where he'd parody Michael Jackson and Madonna. But Al's original material is frequently just as good, if not better.

Some time ago, one song in particular "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" sent Daddy on a journey to Darwin, Minnesota with a few of his friends. We were there to find the thing: there it was, a huge ball of twine in a makeshift pagoda. It was an epic trip, where we stopped by at "The Museum of Questionable Devices" and the mother of all weirdness: "The House on the Rock" in Wisconsin.

It was such a legendary trip that Daddy's groom's cake at the wedding was affected. Yes, that brings us back to remembering our anniversary here: sure, there was gazebo on it like the bride's cake. But inside that gazebo on the groom's cake was... you guessed it... a twine ball. How many wedding cakes do you know that have a twine ball on them?

"What on Earth would make a man decide to do that kind of thing, windin' up twenty-one thousand, one hundred forty pounds of string?"
- Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crown

The princess came to visit Daddy at work today, wearing her crown that she got from Music Camp. She's having a great time in class - and it's a fuller one too, so she's making lots of new friends. She's still learning about Bartok the Bear, and why "the bear went over the mountain." That's one of those mysteries I myself have always wanted to learn, of course.

Mommy came by to help with props and costumes for this evening's service, and Madison took turns playing with all the staff members. One by one, she's crawling on their backs or using their iPhones to play games. It's like she's the office mascot!

Daddy works later on Wednesday nights, of course. There's a service to deal with. Tonight, Madison told Mommy she missed me. Oh boy, that makes me want to race home. Too bad we're stuck in the office.

Still, it was a good day all around - although still a hot one. The temperature was somewhere above ridiculous, and slightly below oppressive. In other words, it was another day to stay indoors - which we all did.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Mantis

Today started out nice with music camp, and although Daddy had to work, Madison and Mommy still joined him at church for a "tomato sandwich lunch." This was a nice event put together by the church staff to get us all together for a bit: it worked. Madison came right after camp, and came face to face with one her favorite foods: tomatoes!


Before getting out the door this morning, Mommy discovered our newest pet by the front door: a praying mantis. Of course, it wasn't the one from "Kung Fu Panda." This was the second or third sighting of a praying mantis by our front door. We showed Madison our new pet once more, and we told her it was a younger one. She saw the size of the thing and told us it must have been a grown-up one!

Interesting history with the praying mantis - we had a regular one at our old house by the front door as well. It got to a point where Daddy would leave the light on in order to attract bugs, thereby creating an all-you-can eat buffet situation for our pet praying mantis. It was like the Golden Corral!

It was a very early date Mommy and Daddy were on when we found a praying mantis in our seat. This was long before we were married, at an Atlanta Braves game, believe it or not. Daddy is such a pacifist when it comes to even bugs that he had to "rescue" the thing: I took it up and carried it off to safety, away from the crowd. I think that made Mommy proud: we saved the little critter, at least for another night.

At home tonight for dinner, it was another visit to Tony's: we had spaghetti. This is a favorite of Madison's, and Daddy likes it too. It was interesting looking at the windows in our home - it's not like we keep the temperature ultra cool inside, but still there was condensation on the windows. That's because it is so hot outside. We're actually under a weather advisory because of the heat: I think with the heat index, the temperature was supposed to have felt 104 degrees today. Ouch! It's a good thing we just stayed indoors...

Recently Madison and Daddy have finished the Lego Pirates game. This was a big undertaking, but it certainly left a vacuum. What to play next? No worries! Daddy picked up Lego Indiana Jones, so we've been looking for lost artifacts and cracking whips. That's one of Daddy's favorite genres, and it's neat to be able to expose Madison to a bit of it early - without worrying about all the scary parts. That's the neat thing about lego games, but the other wonderful thing is how the game has puzzles that you work together to figure out. I can't count on one hand the amount of times Madison has solved something that Daddy has overlooked!

After Madison's bedtime, Mommy and Daddy have been into the "Kung Pow" spirit of things - we've been essentially having a Jackie Chan marathon, watching nothing but Jackie Chan movies. Tonight was "Operation Condor." Good movie!

Music camp continues tomorrow, and on Thursday we continue with ballet class. We missed last week's class because Madison was under the weather. She's still got a bit of a cough, but you can tell she's getting better. Daddy's getting better too - she passed it on to me somewhere around Friday or so. All part of being a parent, huh?

It's time to turn in for the night, but before going, here is a "Kung Pow" message Daddy wrote this series - the one that is all about the praying mantis:

___________________


Students, if there is one virtue you cannot do without, it is… wait for it… patience. This virtue is clearly shown in the story of one member of the Furious Five: the Mantis.


What is patience? Simply put, it is enduring through delays, trouble or suffering without getting upset. The Mantis symbolizes patience – and prayer.


If you’ve ever studied a praying mantis, you can see his careful movements – not at all quick and impulsive. Great thought goes into each step. And notice as well the arms of the mantis, bent as if in perpetual prayer: In the Bible, Paul tells us to pray without ceasing – right after asking us to be patient and put up with one another.


Patience and prayer: The two go together hand in hand, and bring peace and serenity to one’s heart. Your lesson today is this: with patience and prayer you will find the most powerful tools of a warrior.


But not having patience can lead to trouble. Look to the Bible once more: in the Old Testament, King Saul was an impatient man. He ignored God’s instructions when he chose to do things on his own. He tried to rush God, which is not a good idea. God’s timing is perfect, and as King Saul learned, our timing is not. Learn from his mistake, and learn to listen to God’s word.


We must not rush out impatiently, even if everything around us is screaming to run into action. If we are not ready, the results can be tragic.


So wait for it. This is the good advice of the Mantis. We must be patient, and we must be still. In the movie, “The Karate Kid,” the wise teacher Mr. Han said that, “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.” In our Bibles, the Author of the universe tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.”


Trust Him, talk to Him, and know Him – and you will know God’s perfect timing for your life. The more you pray, the more you will have one of the most powerful tools of the warrior: patience.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Bartok


Here's a bit of stamp art that Madison shared with Daddy. Daddy was skyping with Mommy when Madison held this up for Daddy to see. I'm not sure what this particular piece of art is called, but it will hang proudly from the refrigerator for the next few weeks. I like the monkey.

Today we began Music Camp. It's in capital letters because I want it to be. Madison had a GREAT time at camp again, and this time it was a full classroom. Every day this week at 11:00, Madison will be at Music Camp to go over some basics of music: high notes, low notes, rhythm, different types of instruments, and more. She had a splendid time this morning, as her teacher is outstanding. It's a teddy bear adventure week, so all the children are bringing along a teddy bear to class: Madison is bringing her ballerina bear. It's a white bear with wings and ballerina shoes on. It's unique, but the winner for most unusual would be this other girl who chooses to bring along an otter.

ANYWAY, the class involves a story that lasts the whole week - it's a narrative that the kids join in on. It's the story of the bear "who went over the mountain." I never knew this, but apparently this bear's name was Bartok. Daddy won't make it to class tomorrow, but hopefully Mommy will discover more about this unusual bear and his name. I know there was a Hungarian composer named Bartok, and a that bat from "Anastasia." But other than that, it's a pretty unusual name that makes me think of somebody from the planet Vulcan.

OKAY, so today we visited the children's dentist for the first time. He's a guy right here in town, and as it turns out he's adopted too. His little girl is nine, and she's from Russia. In any event, Madison did extraordinarily well at the dentist's office, allowing him to scrape away and poke and prod with that pointy thing in her mouth. I just looked up the name for this sharp weapon: it's called a dental explorer. Bicuspids! I don't like that thing. But Madison sat there with her mouth open wide and sat patiently as well. She was charming as ever, and when things were done, she was delighted as ever: she got to go to the treasure chest and get a free toy. She was immediately drawn to a sheep mask. She put it on right there in the dentist office and said, "Baaaa!"

We were so very proud of her. Not necessarily because of the sheep impersonation though. Daddy has been so frightened of all of this, and what Madison might have to go through. Of course, she actually hasn't gone through any procedure yet - that comes at the end of the month. Today was just a consultation. Later on this month, she'll have her first experience with laughing gas, and a bit of a cap on that back tooth that's been concerning us for so long.

Again, it isn't that she has poor brushing habits: she just didn't have ANY brushing habits for her first two years. Now, she looks forward to brushing with her princess toothbrush - and the most fun part: spitting the water out into the sink!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2156


Our series continued with much excitement - you can see the costumes above, but you'll have to look elsewhere to see the videos. We dubbed a bunch of old kung fu movies with our own voices - with hilarious results. On top of this, we made a "Dan Kwon Do" video, which parodies our friend Rex Kwon Dow - and along with that we've got some other great videos including ninja races. It's been a great time at church!

Madison has enjoyed it too. In fact, today she was rather upset to leave her classroom! Still, she got to go home with Mommy and Daddy and relax the rest of the day. We didn't accomplish much, but this was mostly because we were pretty zapped again from the preparations for the service. Again, it went well!

It has been pretty hot outside, but inside it has been comfortable. We spent the afternoon on the couch watching television and playing video games. Occasionally, we did a few things here and there to pick up the house. But not that much. It was a day of rest.

News of the weekend! A British scientist has recently gone out on a limb: there's a person alive today that will see his or her 150th birthday. Of course, there's no real risk in making such a bold prediction - that scientist probably won't be around to see it! But, it is an interesting thing to think about, so let's zoom ahead to Madison's 150th birthday party. That would be in the year 2156. Based on Hollywood's current estimation, that's two years after all those problems on the moon of Pandora: the movie "Avatar" takes place in 2154.

Which of course leads to this: Madison as a character in "Avatar."


Daddy used an online program for this one - you can sort of see Madison in there a bit. Daddy's not a huge fan of the picture, but then again not a huge fan of the movie either! Still, that's what we'll be seeing a lot of in the year 2156, so we'd better get used to it, right?

At least the future is a whole lot brighter than it is in the year 2022! Now there's a pretty bleak outlook! *

_____________________

* "Soylent Green is people!" - Detective Thorn

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chinese Finger Trap


Here's our little girl in a bit of a dilemma: a Chinese Finger Trap! In the spirit of our current series, we're giving a few of these away at church - but Madison got her hands on one. Once she got her fingers inside, there was no turning back! Fortunately, she's got a smile on her face, so she's taking it all in stride. She did eventually get her fingers out, after a bit of instruction - and thought the trap was so much fun she went and put her fingers back in it again.*

This morning was a failed attempt to sleep in a bit. Each morning Madison crawls into bed with Mommy and Daddy. If Daddy is sleeping in a bit, she'll leave with Mommy for a moment - but then come back again and start wrestling. It's funny how it starts out though - she crawls up on top of the bed like she's going to take a nap or something. And then she hits Daddy with a pillow. Or takes his blanket. Or does a nice piledrive to the face!

No mercy in this household, that's for sure!

_____________

* NOTE: It does appear that Batman is coming to the rescue. Apparently he does this sort of thing all the time for children in similar predicaments.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eleven Year Anniversary

Today is Mommy and Daddy's eleven year anniversary. We had a wonderful honeymoon - it's impossible to squeeze it all in some short video! Nevertheless, I've attempted to do just that:

video

Daddy scanned the remaining photos that were previously missing from the collection, and put together a couple videos - the one above is the abridged version!

The wedding photos are next - we'll scan those over the next few weeks, at which point I can make a decent slide show of the best photos: we had about 1,000 photos!

It was a wonderful wedding, which we've been talking about all day of course. Madison has her say about our wedding as well: "I was in China!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dinotopia

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB


It's been a while since we've done an entry about Madison's Book Club, but today we did a book from cover to cover that was pretty impressive for her. We're talking about "Dinotopia," which is a gem from the 90's or so. If you like dinosaur pictures and you're roughly Madison's age, you'll love this book.

She's been sick today, so Daddy and she went through this and a few other books on the couch. Page after page of dinosaurs, and happy kids riding them.

Thinking about it more, and then thinking about "Star Wars." Doesn't Waterfall City look just like Naboo? And don't the people who live in Waterfall City look like the people that live in the city of Theed, on Naboo? And don't the large Fambaas look like dinosaurs? I'm slow - I'm just making these connections now.

But admittedly, we haven't been "Dinotopia" enthusiasts all these years. We picked up the book for the pictures, and for Madison. And today, it was a direct hit: Madison and Daddy spent a long time with the story, and she really loved it. Daddy did too.

Another thing we loved: we finally finished Lego Pirates today! This was big: we didn't just finish the stories - we got all the golden bricks and boats and characters. This has been a monumental achievement for Madison and Daddy, who have been playing quite a bit lately, slowly working our way to the end of this game over the past two months.

Another thing we did today was much more significant: we visited a pre-K and took a tour. Madison said she liked it there, and so did Mommy and Daddy. We've had a major decision to make with Madison in regards to kindergarten. We feel like she's smart enough and balanced enough and bold enough to head out on her own for school - but we also feel like she wouldn't be able to communicate just yet. She understands perfectly, but her communication skills just need a little more time. This is why we're considering bringing her to one particular pre-K school - so she can hopefully learn to speak more clearly, and also model speech patterns from other children of similar ages.

It's a big deal, of course. We begin in a little over a month. Goodness, school starts earlier and earlier, doesn't it? Madison's cousins start school on August 8th! That's insane! It used to be Labor Day for us - and September was the dreaded month synonymous with the return to school. Sign of the times!

Maybe she'll learn about dinosaurs...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sniffles

Madison has been ill the last few days, although nothing drastic. She's had a bit of a runny nose, which is something you wouldn't normally associate with the middle of summer - but there you go. Of note is the time frame these medicines say they work - if it says on the bottle "four hours," it seems to be dead on accurate. She'll be all excited and smiling and just fine for four hours - and then all the sudden the symptoms return. We've got enough children's cough medicine going right now, and we'll see how she is tomorrow before taking bigger steps. It's largely been the sniffles and a little bit of a slowdown. We'll keep an eye on her for sure.

She had a GREAT time with a game tonight with Daddy that I just have to write about: about a year ago, I picked up a copy of "Kung Fu Panda" for the Xbox 360, just thinking she might like it someday, and of course, knowing it has a China theme to it. I figured it'd be a while until she could actually grasp the concept of how to play, but for giggles, I plugged it in tonight.


OMG. We didn't do much - just a few little multi-player matches, over and over again! But she was laughing so hard that Mommy started laughing too. We're talking belly laughs, loud and full. She was having such a great time beating Daddy up and watching him fly everywhere. I'm so glad I picked that up! We haven't heard Madison laugh this hard in a long time - and it was contagious!

Quite the opposite reaction came with the lawn care people. They visited today and gave us disturbing news: we have a seven foot long "pet" outside. Yikes! Hopefully the next time I post about that, it'll have a more "past tense" sort of feel. Like, "We got rid of the snake today."

Honestly, I don't have a problem with snakes. But I don't want it to interfere with Madison's quality of life. As in, hey let's look for Easter Eggs outside and AAAAAHHHH!!!! A SNAKE!!!! So therefore, I imagine we'll have to hire some sort of Crocodile Hunter sort of character to come in and transplant the poor bugger to some sort of natural snake habitat. Like New Jersey.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Tater Tots

Madison is sniffing here and there, a sure sign that she's coming down with something. We've got the medication for her, and we're taking it easy with her too. She did come to the church to visit Daddy though, which is always a great surprise. Today, we went out to eat at an Asian restaurant in Gainesville - it wasn't bad, actually. It was an all-you-can eat buffet that reminded Daddy a little of the hotel restaurants in China, except for one thing: no tater tots.

For some reason, tater tots were at every hotel buffet restaurant in China. We're talking the really nice ones too! You could see them even in the illustrious White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. Here was this incredible restaurant with all sorts of amazing entries - I remember vividly sampling sea hedgehog, but there was a wondrous variety of foods there. And still, you could see the tater tots right there in the middle of the buffet selection, as if to say, "Now, this is indeed a fine dining establishment."

Naturally, Daddy got the tater tots and put them on the plate, in between the salmon and the sea hedgehog.

This thread of conversation could go anywhere now, couldn't it? We could talk about tater tots - yes, Madison's first tater tots were probably eaten at the Majestic Hotel in Nanning. We had them at the buffet, available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Who'd have thought that tater tots would make such an exquisite dining choice in the morning?

They tasted better than the sea hedgehog, that's for sure.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Little Miss Firecracker

We had some more fun with sparklers tonight, because today it was the Fourth of July! The skies around us rumbled - it was amazing. Madison enjoyed the sparklers, especially when Mommy and Daddy lit a few for themselves too: it was a nice cap for a pleasant day.


We started out with a delicious - and patriotic - breakfast made by Mommy. Yummy! Afterwards, we watched "Uncle Sam Magoo," an old cartoon from 1970 that was actually pretty good!

We had a great day, cooking out hamburgers and eating watermelon and just relaxing around the house. It was a very nice Fourth of July, although not exactly the most productive day we've had.... : )

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kung Pow!


So finally, it has begun! Our series kicked off this morning - so to speak - with two fantastic services. The videos were great and the skits were lots of fun too. The races were hilarious and the message was spot on. Above you can see just a few of the characters in our dojo with mojo - all getting ready for the foot-fist fiesta!

Daddy was dressed up as well - Mommy got some great costumes for all of us, and the set looked just right. We always pour so much of ourselves in to these services. Daddy last night was yelling out Japanese phrases to use in a prerecorded segment for a game show, but one of the funnier things we've been doing was taking old kung fu movies and dubbing them over. One of Daddy's favorites involves a character named "Wisdom" is perfect, and spends a whole lot of time fighting others in "Raiders of Wu Tang." We'll be dubbing about four other movie clips this month, and also shooting a few videos with our newest character, Dan Kwon Do.

The fireworks are going off outside right now - you can hear them all over the county from here. Tomorrow is the big day, Fourth of July. We don't know exactly what we'll be doing, but one thing is for sure: we'll be sleeping in!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jessie Goes to Asia

Here's Jessee, the Yodeling Cowgirl - dressed up for our new series, "Kung Pow!" Madison decided to dress her up in this nice red Asian outfit, which just so happens to fit perfectly. Obviously, there's another doll out there that is missing her outfit, but the weather is pretty hot right now, so at least that other doll is comfortable. Jessie certainly looks comfortable here, posing in front of Mommy's latest display case. This time, she's filled it up with items related to our series - some of which we brought back from China. The wall hangings, for example, came from Guangzhou - I can't wait to get them back and have them hanging in the house once more. They're very nice. By the way, this may be the only Jessie on the entire planet in such a costume. I suppose it answers the question, "What if Jessie had stayed on that plane at the end of 'Toy Story 2' and wound up going to Japan?"

All this series, KidPak is going to the Far East. We have a great set that brings back some good memories - here's a photo of it still in the early stages of being put together.


Madison has been at the office all day with everyone, as Daddy and Mommy work away to make this the best series we can. Lots of people have been here working into the night, and tomorrow promises to be an outstanding day with funny videos and a great message (and a good skit too!). Daddy wants to work Madison into the videos as well, so look for her in a karategi sometime soon - she'll be practicing her poses and getting ready to do a karate chop.


FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2011

Egg Drop Soup

Today is Canada Day, not that we had time to celebrate it. Maybe next year. Things have been kind of busy lately as we've been gearing up for a new series. Fortunately, we'll be out of the "busy mode" soon, after nailing down our newest series on Sunday. Until then though, things will be somewhat hectic around here: we're moving fast towards a deadline, and working very late into the night. Tonight, we ate at Oriental Garden 2 again - the waitress knows exactly what Madison wants each time we go there: egg drop soup. No one needs to ask: the waitress just brought it tonight without even taking her order! Madison likes the fish tank there, and everyone likes the food. Oriental Garden 2 has been our Chinese restaurant for some time now, although I believe it has been under new management lately. The food is still good though!

Madison is spending a lot of time at work lately with us as we ready for a new series. But don't worry - I think she's found a decent place to rest whenever she gets tired: