Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Little M Earplugs

The human being's amazingly sensitive ears can distinguish 400,000 different sounds and can detect sounds so quiet that they cause the eardrum to vibrate less than 1/80,000,000 of an inch.

But that remarkable sensitivity doesn’t have a lifetime guarantee; in order to maintain hearing sensitivity, it must be protected. That's why we recommend Little M's Bright Orange Earplugs, ideal for situations just like these:

video

Little M Earplugs. It sounds like the right thing to do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Killer Moth


In honor of our upcoming series, "Superheroes," Madison and Daddy have been playing the Lego video game: "Batman." This is is Madison's introduction to the world of Batman, which is another one of those things she won't see for quite some time.

Yet, on this level, she does love it quite a bit. These Lego games have been fun for Madison and Daddy to do as recreation time. Yesterday was tennis outside, but today Daddy was a bit more tired so we stuck with video games on the X-box, battling the likes of Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, and the Killer Moth.

Let me go ahead and say I've never heard of the Killer Moth. Sure, there's Joker and Catwoman, but Killer Moth? This sounds like something so lame, you didn't even see him on that 60's Batman television show. And that is the show that featured Egg Head and Olga Queen of the Cossacks!

Some research on the Killer Moth reveals he first showed up in 1951. This was a kinder, gentler time, when folks were apparently feeling more threatened by moths. Exactly one decade later, these feelings of fear towards moths - or mottephobia - would culminate with the ultimate expression of terror towards this insidious insect: "Mothra."

Madison does not fear moths, as clearly demonstrated by her attack moves against Killer Moth. This poor villain didn't stand a chance against Madison's superior skills - he was like a moth drawn to the flame!

"Less questions. More bashing and stealing!"
- Killer Moth

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beware of Magic Sharks

This morning, it was time for tea again. It's been a while since we've had tea together upstairs, but Madison and Daddy enjoyed a nice teatime with some friends, Mr. Peanut and Minnie Mouse. Afterwards, we had a Mr. Potato-fest, where we decked out all the potatoes in different outfits, from Elvis to a Stormtrooper with an umbrella in a spinning teacup.

We had another tennis match today in the front yard, one that Madison clearly won. It was good to get a little more practice in. SPEAKING OF WHICH, we've been doing quite a bit of music practice lately. Today, we were trying Madison out with the rhythm concept. We were following a music sheet with quarter notes and rests, and each of us striking instruments: Mommy had a tambourine, Daddy had maracas, and Madison had a triangle. We're starting a band!

We were working on the deck a little today as well, getting more paint and wood chips peeled off, and even painting a bit. It was such a nice cool evening that we could have kept on painting, except we probably couldn't see and there'd be paint everywhere. That, and the mosquitos were wanting to visit with us too. These little monsters just love Madison. Which is why we brought her inside. Sometimes even a thorough coating of bug spray won't even do the trick. These guys are desperate!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Okay, so it was bedtime, and Madison had picked this book out. It's called, "The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Magic Shark," a title which is actually longer than some other entire children's books. The story is basically a variation of "The Three Little Pigs," but with a longer title. And no wolf. No, instead of a wolf, there's a magic shark (hence the title, "The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Magic Shark"). You may be wondering why we even have this book. I confess: I bought it. I saw it at Goodwill and saw that it had something to do with Hawaii, which of course is big with us. On top of that, the author and illustrator had signed the inside of the book. Ever since then, the book has been tucked away somewhere, lurking just like a magic shark. And sure enough, today Madison found it and wanted Daddy to read it at bedtime. I did - I'm guessing that Madison was listening to Mommy and Daddy talk today about going back to Hawaii some day to stay at Disney's Aulani Resort (which I believe had it's first guests check in today). ANYWAY, back to the book: these pigs build their respective houses of different building materials, two of them apparently not checking with their local inspectors about any building codes. That's when things get interesting. You see, just like all other pigs, these pigs like to surf. And lurking below them is a magic shark, who is quite hungry to eat a pig. Fortunately, the pigs do not fall off their surfboards. Unfortunately, the magic shark can put on a disguise and walk on land to their homes!

You probably know the rest of the story by this point. The moral is quite clear: if an ice shavings vendor shows up at your door, make sure you first check him for a prominent dorsal fin.

Madison still enjoyed the book, by the way.

Aloha!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pogo


Here is Madison's craft from church this morning. I love getting to post all this stuff - it's like this blog is a big refrigerator and I get to hang up all her stuff on it! In the meantime though, our refrigerator does have lots of stuff on it currently, some dating all the way back to Valentine's Day. Clearly, we're going to have to get a bigger refrigerator. Or have magnetic walls. Speaking of magnetic, we watched "X-Men" tonight, but not with Madison. It's part of our "research" for our new superheroes series. What a great movie - and part two was even better. We don't talk about the third movie around here though: it gets Daddy upset.

Tonight, Daddy, Mommy and Madison sat and just watched one Pogo video after another. Madison was drinking her milk, as we clicked on Snow White's "Wishery," then "Upular," and then Mary Poppins' "Expialidocious" and so on. It was addictive - Madison was actually clicking on the next one each time: "Alice," "Bloom," "Bangarang," and so on.

It was a good day at church this morning, the final weekend of our "Roughin' It" series. Things came to a wonderful conclusion with our Big Foot, and everyone learned a whole lot along the way. What a fun series - I'll miss it greatly.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Giddyup!


Today we went to a party for one of Madison's friends, Rachel. It was a really awesome birthday party nearby some stables so the kids could go for a ride! Madison has been looking forward to this for quite some time. She's just itchin' to saddle up! Sure enough, time to ride came pretty soon:


Look at her, having such a great time. She rode around the arena like she belonged on horseback, as if she was royalty. And today, all the little girls were royalty. It was such a pleasant walkabout, as you can see there was much of it in shade. Additionally, our pace was nice and slow so that we could enjoy ourselves, which we did.

There were horseshoe crafts after that, and then one of the strangest things I've ever witnessed: the kids got to paint something. Here's what they painted:


Yes, all the kids had paint markers and were actually coloring this poor animal! At one point, there were six of them all at once, all with different color markers, all completely covering this most unusual canvas. Is this normal? I mean seriously: who thought this one up? Hey, the stable is open. For birthdays, let's get a bunch of markers and go to town!

Anyway, soon after came the cake and the presents. What a very special birthday party. We loved it! It was a beautiful morning, a slight breeze hanging in the air, courtesy of Irene. Madison went home a princess, and with a smile on her face. And for that, Mommy and Daddy had one too!


"My horse is very quick, so quick sometimes, that he leaves me behind."
- Will Rogers

Friday, August 26, 2011

Green Ones First

Which Apple Jacks taste better - the orange or the green? Apparently Madison thinks the green ones taste better, because she eats all of those first! Seriously: she picks out all of one color, eating all those first. THEN, she starts eating the others. Now I've been eating these for years, and have never thought one tasted differently from another. But maybe they do. Or maybe it's just the color. Whatever it is, it's funny.

This morning, we were listening to Pogo on the way in to school. You may not know about Pogo, but this is an artist who takes movies like "Hook," "Toy Story," and "Up," and creates a mix of music that is absolutely amazing. Madison enjoyed the one for "Snow White," calling it out from the back seat: "That's Snow White!"

This she said while picking her Apple Jacks from a zip lock bag. Green ones first.

Meet our mascot for September's series. He's a superhero, so that ought to give you a general idea of the theme we're going for. We're heading into a season of superhero movies, which of course means with Madison that it is time to watch more LarryBoy. Oh yeah! We've got a great series of messages, and a fantastic devotional as well. This mascot here was a product of a couple days' thought: what hero do we mimic? We started out with a cape, but remembered Edna Mode's words: "No capes!"

So we went with a Captain America look, without the shield. No, that didn't work either. How about Green Lantern? Sure enough, we started working with that general feel - and by changing the colors a bit and doing some "research" watching Justice League, I think we came up with a pretty decent looking mascot. Of course, I say all of this as if I myself drew him up. I didn't! That was our friend Josh, who is a very talented artist.

My part of this involves the writing. Here below is an introductory message that kicks things off a bit:

Heroes are everywhere. They’re in comics and they’re in summer movie blockbusters. They’re also in our everyday life: firemen, police officers, soldiers, doctors and others save the day time and again. Our newspapers show heroes, but our Bibles are filled with stories of heroes like David, Moses, and oh yes: Jesus.


There are three things that define a hero, three things that every hero has. The first of these things is vision. It isn’t x-ray vision or an optic blast that shoots out from the eyes – no, this is the sort of vision that sees what is right and what is not, and sees what needs to be done.


Another thing every hero has is a selfless attitude that recognizes the needs in others before the needs of himself. A hero answers to the call of a moral code of duty to serve others – just as Jesus did when he came to earth.


The third thing every hero must have is an overwhelming need to go to action. Many people see where there is need – but only true heroes are the ones that step up to do something about it.


Of all the people, only those with these three defining characteristics can truly call themselves a hero. Are you a hero? Are you going to save the day?


*******

"Yes, words are useless! Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much of it, darling, too much! That is why I show you my work! That is why you are here!" -Edna Mode

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Barreling

As described earlier, this is the season for journalists to use words like "barreling" and "roared." There's a hurricane named Irene just off our coast and spinning past Georgia's beaches, or should I say: "roaring" past Georgia's beaches. It isn't as nasty as Andrew, but it still has a lot of potential to "wreak havoc" and cause a lot of misfortune for people in its path. To that end, Madison, Mommy and Daddy have been praying for people in this situation. Fortunately, it appears as if it will be a category 2 if and when it strikes land, which is much preferable to a category 5, obviously. Incidentally, this would be the first hurricane that Madison has been aware of, and this "monster" is so wide that it will affect us here - but nothing even close to the scale of other areas. It'll feel breezy here, basically - that's what we'll feel, according to meteorologists in the Atlanta area. We'll step outside and feel the tropical breeze - and hopefully that'll be the worst many others will feel in the coming days. Not so sure though...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

High Notes, Low Notes

High notes and low notes - here's Madison's homework for her music class. Daddy went on the internet with Madison, and together we scoured for high sounds and low sounds. Once we gathered enough images, Daddy printed them out and then cut them out - Madison's assignment was to separate the high from the low and then paste them on the treble or bass scale. It took a little bit to explain the concept to her, but she did eventually get the idea. It was fun scouring for the sounds these things make too - we looked for sound effects for all of these items, including the didgeridoo. Did you know Ye-Ye and Nana have a didgeridoo? I'm not entirely sure why, but we'll have to go over there and let them play it for Madison sometime soon. Until then, it was fun for Daddy to make didgeridoo noises.

Tonight there was somewhat of a concert at our children's ministry. We recorded some material for an upcoming release, and wanted lots of energy from the children. No problems there: once the school season starts and we have the next generation in, things seem to be crazy - almost like you're riding a wave, just ahead of it crashing down upon you! Lots of kids and lots of energy!

These are the only concerts we've been to lately. I think the last one Mommy and Daddy went to may have been the Newsboys, but that was some time ago. Before that - way before that - Daddy was a concert-crazed person, going to all sorts of 'em, from Wayne Newton to Aerosmith to Jimmy Buffet to Reba McEntire. Favorite ones would have to be the parrot head events, but the best and most creative thing I've ever seen on stage was certainly the Peter Gabriel concert. The most hilarious moment was watching Jackyl use a chainsaw on stage to hack up lots of furniture. Concerts used to be a lot cheaper, and Daddy went to a ton of them - something like a checklist: Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney...

That reminds me - Mommy got to hear Paul McCartney and the rest of the Beatles in concert. That was back when she lived in New York (which Madison can point to on a map). She wasn't inside the stadium, but she was very young and could hear them perform at Shea Stadium to a roaring crowd. Pretty historic stuff there!

Today, our listening habits are quite subdued, obviously. For example, this morning on the way to school, Daddy plugged in some music for Madison: "The Little Mermaid: Songs from the Sea."

Oh yeah. Roll down the windows and crank up the bass on that one!

Before we met Madison, we accumulated at Goodwill and other places - or got donated from other sources - lots of children's music along the way. One CD in particular Madison listens to every night before bedtime. For the last three years, it's been "Celtic Lullabies: Dream," by Eden's Bridge. If there's one song Madison has heard more than any other at this point in her life, it's that first track: Brahm's Lullaby. Night after night! But it actually doesn't get old, like other music can if you hear it time and again. It's the perfect music to end the night on a high note. Or a low note. You'll have to listen to the track yourself to figure that out, but after today, Madison certainly knows the answer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here Comes Science

GEOGRAPHY
Madison can point on a map to where Mommy was born, and where Daddy is born. Obviously, she can point to a map showing where Disney is as well - that's important stuff there! Tonight before bed, we were playing with the Tag pen again, and using the map that Ye-Ye and Nana got for her. It's an interactive map, which tells Madison the places she points to. There are games on it too, and pictures as well - but the big thing for tonight was the pop quiz when Daddy asked Madison again, "Where was Mommy born?"

Sure enough, Madison pointed it out for us. And then she did the same for Daddy after that!

PHARMACOLOGY
It's another night tonight with medication for Mommy and Madison. Although both seem to be much better than yesterday, there's still a bit of a cough and a bit of drainage still in their systems. Hopefully after tonight's good rest, things will improve.

NEUROLOGY
Talk about a brain lapse. Tonight there was a parent teacher meeting. It was out of nowhere, as we didn't know there'd be one until this afternoon. Regardless, Daddy made the trip and got to know some of the school officials. Madison's teacher reaffirmed that she was doing well, which was great to hear. Obviously, we'll see some communication issues initially. But that's what she's there for. Also: she's there to learn how to act in large scale social situations. She's been "normal," according to her teacher, which was also good news. She's got a sharp little mind!

METEOROLOGY
The weather is getting cooler. It's a brisk eighty-something degrees outside, which used to sound awfully hot. But after the summer we've had, it certainly seems cooler. In other weather-related events, we've got a hurricane bearing down on the coast. This will be the first one in quite a few years to reach our coast.

(Officials dusted off evacuation plans and readied for the first hurricane to threaten the U.S. in three years. It's been more seven years since a major hurricane, considered a Category 3 with winds of at least 111 mph (179 kph), hit the East Coast. Hurricane Jeanne came ashore on Florida's east coast in 2004.)

Madison was born in 2006, which is actually when we sent off our dossier. SO, you can tell it has been quite some time. Goodness - it seemed like for a while there was one hurricane after another, and each one a monster. This particular hurricane's name is Irene, and news reporters are no doubt itching to start using words like "roared," "barreled," "pounded," and "slammed," or phrases like "wreaked havoc." Hopefully they won't have to, but we'll see in a few days.

SEISMOLOGY
The other big event of the day would be a 5.9 earthquake that hit north of here. As the last one of this magnitude to hit the east coast was in 1897, you could say this was pretty rare. A lot of people were very concerned, as we would be too. We did not feel the earthquake here, but they certainly did in Washington DC and New York. This was naturally the talk of the day late in the afternoon, certainly on the social networks. Obviously, it was absolutely less than nothing when compared to the earthquake in China in 2008. Such devastation! We were so worried about Madison when we first heard about the quake there. It occurred just after we got our referral letter, and a few weeks before we were to travel to China. It really cast a long, dark shadow with unspeakable tragedy. It still moves me to think about it.

But again, today's earthquake was nothing. We still haven't heard about any significant injuries, and for that we're pretty grateful. I imagine if the epicenter was in a large city's limits (like Washington DC), that we might be hearing quite a bit of terrible news.

By the way, did you know where the epicenter was? Why, it was in Virginia. Madison can point out Virginia on a map. It's where Daddy was born!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nothing Doing

Madison has been under the weather lately, as has Mommy - you can blame it all on the first week of school. We know of another family with a similar condition: stuff gets passed around in school, and now we're part of the passing. Fortunately, Daddy seems to be doing okay as of late.

Madison slept until 10:45 this morning, which was pretty epic for her. We decided to stay indoors today, and in every sense of the word, that's what we did. We never stepped outside once, not even to get the mail! In fact, all three of us stayed in pajamas.

Mommy and Daddy took turns cleaning here or there, and even moving about furniture. Mommy did a good job with the foyer, making some decorative changes that look pretty decent. Then there's always the laundry and dishes, which Madison usually feels eager to help out with. We've been anxious to paint the back deck, but the forecast has been involving a chance of rain for weeks now. Maybe next week we can get to that. There are so many little things to be done - they sort of hang over your head and irritate you like tiny gnats. Some, like the deck, are bigger. You just can't wait to squash them!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mr. Brown

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB

Tonight, Madison and Daddy had a lot of fun talking about Mr. Brown. No, we're not talking about the guy from "Reservoir Dogs." This Mr. Brown is actually much cooler. Check out this style-meister:
Yes, we're talking about the real deal here, the real Mr. Brown. Don't you just want a hat like that? And, this is a Mr. Brown you don't want to mess with either, I might add. Oh, the wonderful things he can do! He can do all sorts of impersonations of different things, like cows, rain, fish, thunder, hippos and more. For those you not in the know, this is a Dr. Seuss creation. Madison and Daddy had a great time making all the noises Mr. Brown makes in this book, but I know we're not even close to sounding as great as he does. But he won't rub it in. That's just the kind of guy Mr. Brown is. You can read about him yourself in his amazing biography, "Mr. Brown can MOO! Can you?"

Tonight we watched, "Bambi II." This time it's personal. This is the movie where all the wildlife go after the hunters for what they did in the first movie. Okay, not really. But that would actually be pretty cool. Still, this movie is a good one. Madison enjoyed sitting with Mommy and Daddy watching it. We've never built up the nerve to watch the first movie with her yet, although we do own it. This one has most of the characters from the first, and the voicework for Bambi's father is none other than Patrick Stewart.

Bambi: "I'm going to jump over that big log, Daddy."

Bambi's Dad: "Make it so, number one. Engage."

This ups the coolness factor a bit, and as far as Disney straight-to-DVD sequels go, this one was actually a good one. Madison enjoyed it, and so did Mommy and Daddy.

Today we measured Madison. She's 40" tall. I'd like to say it was for posterity and to keep an accurate record of growth via some sort of detailed chart. But the reality is that I've been keeping my fingers crossed: she has to be 40" tall in order to ride "Star Tours" at Hollywood Studios! Yes, now she can ride the ride - whereas last year, she couldn't. This year's trip is going to be SO COOL!

"Judge me by my size, do you?" - Yoda

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Scene it?

Tonight, Daddy and Madison had a great game of Disney "Scene It?" This game is basically trivial pursuit, but it uses a DVD and shows scenes from movies, or pictures, or drops clues about something you have to guess. Madison did surprisingly well - my favorite moment came when she saw a picture of the dolly. It didn't show who held the dolly, but she recognized it immediately as Shan-Yu, and therefore knew it was a scene from the movie "Mulan." Very good, Madison!

She's still a bit under the weather, which is why we did some board games tonight. We did the game "Trouble" next, and after that watched "Fantasia 2000" once again. Madison really enjoyed this one, laughing at the baby whale and watching intently the animation that supported "Rhapsody in Blue." Great sequence there, by the way!

We'll see how she does tomorrow - hopefully a little better. Until then, tonight's bedtime story was a good one. A very good one. We read from a children's Bible, and told Madison several stories about Jesus. She was so intently listening, so we went from "storytelling" mode into something much deeper before bedtime. It was a very good moment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First School Craft


Here is one of Madison's first crafts - it's an abstract, of course. She did some other crafts as well, including one with a school bus that Daddy hasn't seen yet. Madison says it is still at school. Yet this one looks pretty nice: it will have a place of honor on the refrigerator!

The first week of school is officially over with. And so it begins. Madison loved every single day. Today though was a little rougher: she's coming down with something. She had the sniffles, red eyes and whatnot - so we didn't do anything this afternoon but take her home to rest.

She went to bed early tonight, after a bedtime story and prayer. Hopefully tomorrow we'll see a brighter Madison. Still, we'll be sure to give her the rest she needs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Going Ape

Okay, so Daddy is excited about October again: we just bought some tickets for Disney on Ice, and got them on sale too! Madison had such a good time last year when we went, and I know this year will be even better because it seems to be a princess-themed event, which is practically perfect in every way. Madison has been into Rapunzel, Tiana and Cinderella lately, so this should be a really good night for her. When Daddy mentioned ice skating to Madison, she immediately wanted to watch a movie with ice skating in it. Hard to believe that with all this heat outside that we're talking about ice skating. Presently, I'm trying to imagine anyone ice skating with really long hair like Rapunzel: how does it not get all tangled up in your skates? Will there be extra persons out there skating who have the job of simply holding her hair? Stay tuned! We'll find out all the answers to these questions and more!

We slept in this morning, as we didn't have school. Or work. It was one of those days, where we could kick back and relax a bit. Still, it's been way too hot outside to do anything fun - the weather has been so extreme this year, as compared to previous years. Just eight months ago, we were enduring the winter storm of the decade here.

Today, Madison got to go ape a bit at Nana and Ye-Ye's house. We left her there so that Mommy and Daddy could go ape at the movie theaters, watching the latest "Planet of the Apes" movie, which was actually very good. It was so good, in fact, that we decided to watch the first one tonight after Madison was in bed.

We did get to talk with Nana and Ye-Ye for a bit after the movie - it was nice to stop and catch up for a bit. Madison was still going ape though: climbing all over Ye-Ye, and giggling nonstop!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Racing Home

Daddy was at church for most of the day, but he raced home after service JUST IN TIME to say goodnight to Madison. Plus, we got to do a nighttime story together. What a pleasant surprise! Some of our story times have been using the TAG pen system, which is simply amazing technology. I may have explained this before, but a pen is applied to pages, and the pen will actually read the words it is touching - or describe a picture it is resting on. This may lend itself to a Madison's Book Club entry, huh?

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Today's entry is "Tiana's New Dream." Madison has about five of these Tag books so far, but Mommy and Daddy have been collecting a few on the side for the upcoming holiday season. These are great books to sit with your child and read - the pen reads the words individually, or there's an option where the pen will read entire pages and tell you when to turn each page at the sound of the chimes. Okay, so they aren't chimes - but that's what I had growing up. I vividly remember "Peter Pan" on a small turntable, and remember turning each page at the sound of the chimes. Now, we can relive these precious moments with a similar technology - minus the turntable. There are small games on the pages that teach instruments, culture and other things related to the overall story. The illustrations are great, and familiar as well. Madison has grown to like Princess Tiana quite a bit.

Here's a plug for the Leapfrog Tag people. The pen wasn't working. Okay, so that wasn't the "plug" part. Here's the plug: I wrote an email to the company, asking for advice on how to get it to work again. The problem was that it wasn't reading some of the pages. Here's the shocker: they actually responded very quickly, and responded accurately. I was told I had to delete everything off the pen and load it all back again. That fixed the problem, but the big deal to me is that they actually wrote back, and wrote back quickly. Isn't that strange? Actual helpful customer service can be shocking sometimes, can't it?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day of School


The alarm went off early this morning, but some of us were already awake - there was much excitement about Madison's first day at Pre-K. She had her outfit ready, lunch packed and her backpack on. It's a small step, going to Pre-K, but we feel that's just what she needs. She'll be going Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays (the days Daddy is at work), and she'll be going from 8:20 to about 12:30 each day. It's a great introduction to the concept of school, which we hope will teach her about interacting socially with others - and of course help with speech therapy.

Isn't she so cute in this photo? She's very anxious to get to school. By chance, a school bus just went by - she loves those things. I'm not entirely sure if I ever loved a school bus, but Madison is quite a different girl: she loves school.

The day went well. No separation anxiety whatsoever: it was just, "Bye!" And she was off. When we picked her up, we received a paper upon which was written some of the things she did, and her behavior throughout the day. Madison got the green worm, which is a sign of good behavior. Way to go Madison!

For lunch, we all went to Chick-Fil-A to celebrate. Madison scarfed the food down, but to be fair, so did Mommy and Daddy. We were a bit hungry today - this schedule will take a little bit of getting used to!

Another thing to get used to: the temperature! It was actually quite cool this morning - and this evening. What wonderful weather we are having now. Makes me look forward to Thursday, when we can go and do something outside again. The heat has been unbearable recently, but now there's no excuses. Maybe we can go "roughin' it," and see some waterfalls or even put up a tent in the back yard!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Madison the Barbarian

And just like that, we're suddenly adjusting to the new timing for Madison and school. Bedtime came a whole lot earlier than usual today, but that will be the case for all of us - and tomorrow that alarm will be ringing a whole lot earlier. School is here, and we're all making the big shift earlier.

It'll actually be a pretty healthy thing. Madison, for her part, was really tired tonight anyway. She went to bed at 8:00, which was perfect: she'll be well-rested for school tomorrow. She's very excited about it, of course. We're shifting things in the house as well, and packing her backpack too.

Today, Daddy and Madison went out and did several errands together, while Mommy is getting ready a room in our house for homework and music lessons: her keyboard is resting there now, waiting for practice. Madison has music class tomorrow too, so add that to the mix as well. Oh yes: there's going to be plenty of homework this year, and of course that's only the beginning. It's exciting and new!

Speaking of "new," there's a new Conan movie coming out. While we'll probably never see it, I did recently find a picture of Madison from our Gladiators series that I sort of converted into an image you just might see inside a Conan comic:


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finding Sasquatch

Madison met Big Foot this morning at church - here she is posing with the big guy. He's really not that bad of a sort, as you can see clearly here. The two hit it off right away: Madison actually ran up to Big Foot and gave him a huge hug! The two were seen playing around frequently - chasing each other around and just having a good time on our wilderness set. This is week two of our "Roughin' It" series, and things went very well again: the kids were laughing in the audience, and there were so many of them! With the summer season approaching an end, everyone is back and ready to start the school year. The kids were so numerous today - it was amazing how full we get this time of year in the building. Big Foot had a quick cameo, peeking his head out from behind a rock - and the kids all screamed! That's when he ducked back behind his rock, and when all the characters on stage got a little worried: is that really Big Foot? Of course it is!

Here below are some of our cast members, out camping in the great outdoors, at least on our set:


I don't think they realize Big Foot is right there behind them!

Today is Nana's birthday - that's Daddy's mom. It also happens to be pretty close to Uncle Dave's birthday, so that makes for an occasion: after church we went to Ye-Ye and Nana's house to celebrate a couple birthdays. There was a metric ton of food there, and then there was cake - Madison had a great time running about with Hannah and the boys, as Daddy and Mommy hit the couch and chatted it up with everyone else there. It's always nice going over to the house for a "gathering." Nana got a nice birthday present from us, something that we picked up a few months ago at Disney. She also got a birdhouse that Madison painted herself - the birdhouse came from Bass Pro Shop on a particular Saturday when they were letting the kids make some crafts. Madison started it there - she and Mommy finished it later at the house. We've been holding on to these for a while, and Nana appreciated both the gifts quite a bit.

Anyway, it was a fun afternoon over there. Madison was full of energy. She especially loves to climb all over Ye-Ye, and also today Uncle Dave.

That just might have been the cake talking though...

Boxed In

Saturday, AUGUST 13, 2011

Madison was out of the box today. Then, she was in the box again. She found this box in another room, just sitting there and empty, and not being used! That's why she dragged it in the great room and climbed inside - what a perfect piece of furniture. Seriously, someone that makes children's furniture should pick up on this simple fact: kids like boxes. Madison has enough toys, but give her a box and she's going to have a ball. With her imagination, this box becomes a car, a boat, a rocket, a house, and yes, even a box!

She's seen here, watching the "Little Einsteins" again: Madison and June go way back.

Today, the temperature actually dropped a little. It was a brisk eighty-nine degrees outside - so cool! The overcast skies made for a dreary looking day, but Madison made the most of it: all you need is a little box.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stellaluna

Today, we went to the open house at Madison's new school, and there we met Madison's teacher this year for Pre-K. Her name is Mrs. Julie, and for three days a week (starting next week), Madison will be learning a bit from her - and hopefully some speech therapists as well. Everyone at the school seems very nice, and Madison had a wonderful time. In fact, she didn't really want to leave as early as we had to leave. That's a good sign. She met some other classmates, two girls both named Emily, and a few of the other workers at the school too - including someone we happen to know! Small world, eh?

Afterwards, we had lunch at the church together - but soon it was time for Madison to head home with Mommy. It was a full day for Daddy at work, but he did get home just in time for a bedtime story!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB
Tonight's entry in Madison's book club is an educational book with some nice artwork on each page. "Stellaluna" is the story of a fruit bat who has a bit of a mishap early in life. Daddy was somewhat worried to begin with, as he himself didn't know the ending of this book. I mean, would we find mother again? This is a book about nature after all, and you never know! Fortunately, several pages later, Stellaluna meets up with her mother again with a tearful bat reunion. Until that point, we learn all kinds of things about bats - Madison was riveted! After the book, she kept repeating some of the key facts she learned about bats, namely that they are nocturnal. Not that she said the word "nocturnal," of course. She just pointed outside and made reference to bats and some birds that were just waking up now. It was a neat educational moment - something pretty simple, and yet you could see her grasping it.

"Oh, bats." - Vicky Vale

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chuck E Cheese


Above is the illustration that Chuck E Cheese made for us. He did it in mere seconds, believe it or not - and just for a token! This was the last thing we did at his place today, my second visit ever and Madison's very first. It was Mommy's idea, and it was actually a good one: Madison had a great time today: we played air hockey and skee ball, plus there were plenty of video games and other games of chance to try out. She just loved grabbing up all those tokens and running about from one thing to the next, trying each one out. The place was pretty quiet, as school has started for many people, so we didn't have to worry about getting lost from each other. It was a good time, and the pizza was good too. We really enjoyed it, despite the fact that their mascot is this oversized rat with a New Jersey accent. Were they trying to copy Rizzo, or what?

Much later tonight we read to Madison the book, "Shaoey and Dot." We've read this book to her before, but it's been quite a while. Tonight, Madison was very much into it, listening intently and looking closely at each picture. It was a pretty emotional story for all of us, actually: it's an adoption story from China, one still being played out to this day. In fact, Madison saw one of the babies in a picture of the orphanage and said, "That's me!"

We're so blessed to have a happy family now, and so happy Madison has a home with us. Look at her in that photo above, growing up so fast! It's a great picture too, even though it was drawn out by a large rodent...

"If I had a life, I'd hate it." - Rizzo the Rat

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Contagious Yawns

Madison was rather tired, and yawning in the car. Sure enough - Daddy caught the yawn. Then Mommy did! Uh-oh! It's spreading like a virus!

Out of curiosity, I've looked up "contagious yawns" and discovered that there is a reason we can't stop ourselves from yawning when we see someone else do it. You can blame mirror neurons. I'm not entirely sure what they are either, but everyone has them. According to a recent Finnish study,* even chimpanzees apparently have them: did you know that if a chimpanzee sees you yawn, it is also likely to do the same thing?

This is not, by the way, ever mentioned in the Planet of the Apes movies. Although we haven't seen the most recent one yet. Perhaps that's how they get all the rampaging monkeys to calm down: put on large jumbotrons images of people yawning. Soon, all the monkeys will see that and have no choice but to yawn - and soon they'll realize how tired they are - and soon the entire city of San Francisco will be filled with sleeping monkeys.

[Insert your own joke about San Francisco here.]

Madison has caught on to the contagious yawn concept: she was doing several yawns on purpose. We'll call these "faux yawns." Each one had a purpose: to get Mommy and Daddy to yawn. And whether they wanted to or not, soon everyone in the car was yawning. We got home nearly asleep, having just barely survived a major yawn-fest! Forget Nyquil, sleeping pills, or watching C-SPAN: the best method for getting some rest is a major yawn-fest!
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*I'm actually really delighted that Finland has researchers working on this important issue. What a job. Someone walks up to you and asks you what you do for a living, and then you tell them. And then they yawn. Which is, of course, a good thing. What would you call this profession, anyway? A yawnologist?

UPDATE: an important groundbreaking study from the United Kingdom has confirmed that dogs have mirror neurons too, as they can catch yawns also. This is huge! That means it is spreading, sort of like that upcoming movie "Contagion." Soon, cats will be yawning, and then hedgehogs and wombats. Yes, every species on this earth will have to walk around in biohazard suits, not looking at anyone's faces, especially near bedtime. Hopefully these Finnish scientists are racing for a cure.

They... could be our only hope.
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"Yawn." - Max Shreck

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apple Jacks with Chopsticks

Madison and Daddy made it down the street a bit today, she on her tricycle as Daddy walked alongside her. It was a big deal, because as brave as Madison is elsewhere, she's been somewhat reluctant to leave the driveway. It was a nice little trek, made nicer by Mommy who was waiting for us on the porch.

This morning, Madison had Apple Jacks. This was something new we were trying for cereal, and it has been a big hit. Daddy likes Apple Jacks too, but he eats them with a spoon. Madison eats them with a spoon. She doesn't have milk in the bowl, preferring them to be dry. Then, one by one, she uses her chopsticks to gobble away. This is either a genetic sort of thing, or just her trying to be different. Either way, it's fun and tasty. Daddy just might be trying that next!


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Adventures of Tombstone and U9rHnBerA

This morning we had a Mr. Potato-fest, dragging out all the Potato parts, from Tony Starch to Chipbacca to the newest Elvis Presley one. Madison and Daddy had a ton of fun playing with all the different potato head parts she's got, but we kept the Indiana Jones potato head guy together. Lately, Madison has been learning the meaning of the fedora, watching Larry the Cucumber as "Minnesota Cuke."


Another fun movie for Madison is "Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure."

Of course, it all has to do with a Lego video game we started playing a little while ago. Madison and Daddy have been playing the first Indiana Jones lego game on and off for a few weeks now, having completed the pirate game. This has been a fun one as well, with Madison and Daddy working together to solve puzzles and use our thinkers. What a great investment! Eight dollars has gotten us quite a bit of adventure together.

You can customize two Lego characters, so Daddy made his: a character in a Chinese hat that sort of looks like the Spider-Man villain Tombstone. Madison's character looks like a ninja with a bullwhip. We got to name these characters, so Daddy named his Tombstone. Madison named hers U9rHnBerA.

Together, Tombstone and U9rHnBerA have had many thrilling adventures, although we've got a bit to go in this game before it is done. It's neat to have Madison into this sort of genre. We just might show her the Indiana Jones stunt show at Disney when we go - I think she'd enjoy that.

Although I don't think that show features Tombstone and U9rHnBerA.

After playtime, Madison went over to Ye-Ye and Nana's house with Mommy and Daddy. We had a nice evening chatting - and eating cheese. You see, they've recently returned from the Northeast, and brought back with them some cheese from a cheese factory in Vermont. It was actually quite good - we munched on a lot.

Meanwhile, Madison and Nana were constructing the world's largest My Little Pony stable area, using an immense amount of Lincoln Logs spread out across the living room. This was a colossal effort, but soon all the ponies were lined up and comfortable in their stalls. Playtime never ends, does it?

Nana and Ye-Ye watched Madison for a bit while Mommy and Daddy went to go see "Captain America" at the theater. Great movie! Funny how we're sort of going through a cycle today with heroes defeating Nazi bad guys: Captain America, Indiana Jones, Tombstone, and U9rHnBerA!

"Nazis. I hate these guys." - Indiana Jones

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Roughin' It


So today was the big day where we started everything out with our brand new series, "Roughin' It." The stage looks great, and the service was monumental. There were plenty more kids - we always experience a huge surge when the school season is over: everyone is back from summer vacation, and ready to start the year off right.

Once the service was over, it was time to crash. We were pretty worn out today! We spent the rest of the day at home. Mommy and Daddy did a little "research" watching "Harry and the Hendersons" later that night, getting ready for Big Foot's grand appearance: he should be showing up some time next week. Until then, here's a description of our series for August:

It’s the call of the wild! Join us on the trail to adventure for a whole lot of off-road fun! Everyone’s a happy camper when getting back to nature, so grab your backpack and your walking stick. John the Baptist and even Jesus were led to spend some time in the wilderness, so why not get away from it all in the great outdoors? There’s a whole lot to learn, so take a hike with us into undiscovered country: We’re about to be …Roughin’ It!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Step up to the Microphone


Madison has her first voiceover credit! We set her up in front of the microphone, and gave her some simple instructions. Below, you can see the results: Madison plays the voice of the rabbit, screaming as she dives for cover from a long long trailer.

video


Hey, we just might set up an imdb account for her pretty soon, and list this one as her first effort! What you just saw, by the way, was our new trailer for our series, "Roughin' It." We've been hard at work setting things up for a big Sunday morning, but we did manage to have a little fun here and there:


Madison wasn't exactly driving this one, but she did like being on it. Daddy rode it around on the slick pavement outside (after the rain), as he and his coworkers were slip-sliding away, spinning out and drifting. It was fun, although a bit scary! This was actually Daddy's first time on an ATV, and it was pretty cool. It wasn't Madison's first time though!

The rest of the day was spent building a set and working in the office, but it wasn't that bad really. Especially when you get visits from Madison, dressed as a happy-faced box head!


Today would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday, and in honor of this great event, tonight before bed, Mommy and Daddy watched a pretty good movie tonight: "The Long, Long Trailer."


Daddy picked this one because it just so happens to go along with our "Roughin' It" theme. Although life in an RV isn't exactly 100% roughin' it, Lucy and Ricardo (or in this movie, "Tacy and Nicholas") do get to see Yosemite and some other wild areas of the country as they travel. Like the movie "RV," things don't exactly go as planned - it's a good flick, and as I said earlier, a good way to end "Lucy Day," and kick off our new series.

"You tore down my roses with your lousy, stinking trailer!"
- Aunt Anastacia

Friday, August 5, 2011

Roller Coaster


As you can see here, tonight Madison was using the photo booth feature on our computers. Just for fun, one of our friends introduced her to the animated backdrop - it was a moving roller coaster! Suddenly, Madison saw herself riding on the roller coaster - take a look below at some of the snaps!






Here are a couple of other photos below with our friend Taylor. Clearly, Madison is having a great time at the office while we work...



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Big Foot

Daddy was late coming home from work, but Mommy and Madison were up waiting for him, with popcorn ready: it was movie night! We sat and watched "A Goofy Movie" together, getting into the spirit of things with our camping series. Madison loved the movie, especially the bits with Big Foot. She'll probably be seeing Big Foot soon - he's expected this month at KidPak!

We had a pretty sudden, loud storm hit us last night. Good for the rain, but that sort of thing in the middle of the night always gives you the willies!

Not as much as running into Big Foot, of course...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One of Those Days


The picture above pretty much says it all. It was a pretty epic work day, with a whole lot more going on the next few days. We'll see how things turn out, but for the moment, Daddy's pretty busy.

I did get to come home and visit. Mommy and Madison were there - we ate together and then snuggled together on the couch. Daddy just wanted a little rest, so we sprawled out across the couch and quietly sat there, content for just a few moments.

But then it was back to work!

Madison spent much of the day with Mommy, and the two of them spent much of that time inside. It has been unbearably hot outside of late - Daddy's been out there in it, or working in a warehouse to build/paint pieces for the upcoming set: Roughin It.

It'll be a fun - but short - series. For "research," we've been watching movies with that theme: "The Great Outdoors," "Daddy Day Camp," "Yogi Bear," "Stanley the Stinkbug Goes to Camp," "Ernest Goes to Camp," "The Parent Trap," "RV," and "Harry and the Hendersons." That last one in particular has a bit of influence in our series at KidPak. Deep in the woods, the characters of our story believe they may have seen something, but they're not too sure:


Oh yeah - brace yourself. Big Foot is coming back!

"He walked into our kitchen and was eating out of our refrigerator. I thought we was gonna eat me but he ate our daughter's corsage and then ate our goldfish!"
- George Henderson

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Porcupines

This is our 800th post, which clearly illustrates how time goes by entirely too fast. It must be stopped! Just think: 800 days ago, we started the blog. And that was a year after we met Madison. And that was two and a half years after we sent in the dossier. Which was almost a year after we started collecting the paperwork in "the paper chase." Which was a few years after we first started talking about adoption.

Actually, adoption was always on the table from day one. That's the neat thing about our relationship - we knew going into our marriage that it would be good to adopt. Both of us were very open and excited about the possibility.

Madison, Mommy, Ba-Ba and Nana went to Goodwill today, which is basically North Georgia's equivalent to Disney World. At least to Ba-Ba and Nana. Mommy got some good deals on outfits for Madison, and even a new Tag book called, "Kung Fu Panda: Po's Tasty Training."


She couldn't wait for Daddy to get home in order to program the pen - these Tag books are neat: you glide your pen over the words, and the book is read for you. Additional activities are in the booklet, when you pass over pictures or other things. She has a few good books so far, and she loves reading them.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, Daddy is throwing in more books at bedtime than made-up stories. For one, it's easier! You can't make up a story every night, although Daddy was trying for a while. We came up with good ones too! This is not to say we're cutting out the made-up stories for good. But on certain nights, it'll be easier - and just as appreciated - to read a good old fashioned book. Like this one here:

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB

"A Porcupine Named Fluffy." This book has some cute illustrations that are fun and whimsical. The basic premiss is that a porcupine has an unusual name, and is pretty troubled by it. That is, until he meets a rhinoceros with an unusual name. The illustrations are the strength of this one, along with the general rule that any children's book featuring a rhinoceros is made slightly better. The theme of the book, obviously inspired by an old Johnny Cash song, is somewhat odd. Why would a parent name a child something that would cause problems down the road? This poor porcupine could have avoided so much angst if his parents had only gone with a more conventional name. Of course, then there wouldn't be a book.

Fortunately, the porcupine shows strength and resilience, something apparently quite common with porcupines. The lion is often called the king of the beasts, but after watching some videos last summer during our "Pridelands" series, I'd have to say the porcupine is up there in the royal family, perhaps at the top. What can defeat a porcupine? Not much. It's possible, but it takes teamwork, or a certain kind of tenacity that many animals do not have. Example: we were all amazed watching a pride of lions handily defeated by a porcupine. Adding to the humor, the porcupine chases the hungry lions off. We're talking a lot of lions versus one single porcupine. The porcupine needs some respect, big time. Don't mess with one: Anyone who tangles with a porcupine is bound to get 800 quills!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Laughing Gas

Today's visit to the dentist was not as bad as Daddy has been dreading. She's had two cavities, and much of that has to do with the lifestyle in the orphanage. Today, she visited Dr. Tom - and things went very well. Madison was calm, and did so well. We're so very proud of her!

But much of the credit goes to the dentist himself, and the tools he had available. Firstly, the way he worked with Madison was simply astounding: she was so trusting and relaxed. Of course, a little of that might have to do with the laughing gas.

I could call it nitrous oxide, but "laughing gas" is just a great term, isn't it? In fact, she did laugh a few times in the dentist's office. It smelled like strawberries, and Madison enjoyed smelling it a lot. Afterwards, she wasn't dizzy or high or anything - she just got up and ran off: it was all just a routine visit to the dentist. She got her shiny new princess teeth and was glad to endure just a little weirdness to get them. Also, there was the treasure chest nearby: what joy to be able to pick anything from the chest and keep it too!

Madison did so very well today. She did far better than Daddy would have done!

MADISON'S BOOK CLUB


The eccentric cast of characters you see above come together in another fun Jan Brett book, "The Umbrella." We read this one again tonight before bed. Madison has been enjoying this one because of the variety of animals that appear - these are certainly more unusual than anything seen around here! The main character in the book wants to see them as well, so he sets out into the rain forest to find these creatures. Sadly, he doesn't see any - so he drops his umbrella and begins to climb a tree in order to get a better look. And that's where the fun begins!

This is a neat book for educational purposes, of course. But it's also hard to ignore the wonderful artwork. This is one of our favorite children's authors, because each page is an amazing treasure to look at.

As stated earlier, we read this book together tonight before bedtime, just after prayers. Believe me: one things we were doing at prayer time was thanking God for the speed and ease of Madison's dental procedure. Medication and skill have come a long ways in dentistry: we're so very grateful!