Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

Ready for some cupcakes? Today is Leap Day, and Mommy made some delicious-looking ones with Madison. These are the official Leap Day cupcakes (not made with real frogs). The theme for today was "one more day," where you have one more day in the year to do this, that or the other. So what did we choose to do? Pretty much the same thing we do every day. Although these cupcakes look new and exciting. Just for the sake of doing it, Madison and Daddy did do an obligatory leap into the air at one point. Quite satisfied with ourselves, we went back to whatever it was that we were doing at the time. For Madison, that was playing with her Leapster Explorer, which now that I think of it, was oddly appropriate for a day like today.

This is Madison's second Leap Day, her first being back in 2008. She was still in China then, and it was actually about four months shy of meeting us for the first time.

Daddy actually doesn't remember last Leap Day at all. Thanks to this blog, we'll remember this one though! The funny thing is that I do remember clearly the Leap Day in 2004: that was when I first started working part time at the job I have now. Hard to believe it has been eight years!

Today, Madison went to school, and came home with Mommy to meet Nana and Ba-Ba again. They had a lot of fun together this afternoon, obviously playing more games and just being together. But Madison got tired earlier today - it's everything catching up with her, really.

Either that, or it's all the leaping.

"It's a leap of faith." - Indiana Jones

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It'll be funny memory some day, but last night:

2:00: The smoke alarm went off. We have four in the house, and they are all connected. LOUD! Never heard it before. After the initial panic, we discovered there was no smoke or fire or carbon monoxide threat. But we were still trying to SHUT THE THING OFF!

Like I said, it was a "peculiar" night.

ANYWAY, ONE of the alarms was triggering the others, but there was no way to guess which one. I figured it was most likely the basement one, so I changed the battery on that one, and things got quiet.

3:00: Zena starts having one of her problems again, so she never got to sleep at this point anyway. But we were all up again soon…

4:00: Alarms go off again! These are loud enough to drive you out of the house! We're all up, so I decide to just remove the battery from the suspected alarm, thinking if I "kill" it, there'd be a temporary fix.

6:00: Alarms go off again! Noise everywhere - I'm researching on the internet what I can do. Did you know you need to "blow" these off every so often? I use a vacuum cleaner and hoist it up on a step ladder, and "suck" all offending particles off the alarm. I think this did the trick. Re-read this part just in case any of this ever happens to you – it might save you a night's sleep!

So we go to bed, hoping to catch at least an hour's sleep, right?

6:45: A fire truck actually shows up at my neighbor's house. It's a medical emergency!


7:00: Time to get up!

...As you can tell here, we were all rather tired today! Daddy got Madison to school - can you believe she never woke up through all of that last night? Daddy went to work, as he's the only one in the house that has to do that right now. This did give Mommy, Nana and Ba-Ba some time to go out and get fresh batteries and some compressed air. Later on in the evening, Daddy changed the batteries and sprayed the daylights out of those smoke alarms. We'd rather get some sleep tonight if it is all the same, thank you!

Today was another piano lesson, but Daddy took Madison this time. This was good - we had a great time together, although the lessons seem to be getting trickier. Things take more and more practice. Again, Mommy and Daddy didn't plan on it, but we're actually learning a bit on the piano as well!

Tonight's bedtime story was pretty epic, as Madison asked for a "made up" one. It involved Mr. Freeze who came in crashing a tea party. He evidently didn't want to share the ice cream, and wanted it all for himself. Fortunately, Madison is there to save the day (along with Batman, Robin, Indiana Jones, Marion Ravenwood, the Groundhog, and a little green frog we picked up today from McDonald's. We taught Mr. Freeze that it is better to share, and learned about sharing, and learned that Daddy has an outrageous Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. And just now, I myself learned that spell check on this blog knows the correct spelling of "Schwarzenegger." But apparently not "Ravenwood."

After school, Daddy picked up Madison and the two of us went to McDonald's. This was actually a nice little experience, just the two of us hanging out, and even eating ice cream afterwards. This was Madison's first taste of mint ice cream - they had this St. Patrick's Day-themed milkshake called the "Shamrock Shake," which was actually pretty good. Madison loved it too: she said, "Mmmmm! It's different!"

Okay, so I had no idea that this shake holds some sort of cult like status. It's evidently one of those rare food items that comes along certain seasons, like the McRib or Booberry. Daddy enthusiastically chases after both of those items, but never thought about this item before. Apparently it dates back to 1983 or so, and they even had a new mascot for a short time. It was Grimace's relative, Uncle O'Grimacey. I am not making this up. Just to prove it, here's an illustration below.
They even had a

costume for this guy, who looked just like Grimace, but instead of being purple, he was green. How is it that I missed out on all of this? This seems like it would have been right up my alley, but for some reason, I've neglected this most sacred of traditions. Fortunately, it's never too late to start a new tradition. There's even a website that tracks the Shamrock Shake, where faithful readers write in and post where the elusive item is available. I'll post mine in a moment, but this did make me do some research on the character Grimace, as I remember him in McDonald's commercials, along with the others. The Fry Guys were all after our fries, Mayor McCheese was the guy who advertised for Big Macs, along with some sort of police officer with a giant hamburger for a head - he was generally chasing after the Fry Guys, and of course the hardened criminal, the Hamburglar. Oh, and who could forget the pirate Captain Crook, always after those tasty filet-o-fish sandwiches? McDonaldland was a happy place when Mommy and Daddy were growing up, but they've phased all of this out over time, for whatever reason. All that seems to be left is Ronald McDonald himself, and occasionally Grimace - who has a very interesting history, apparently. I did not know this, but he was initially a villain. Evidently, he converted somewhere along the lines, sort of like Wolverine, Godzilla, or the Green Power Ranger. And, Grimace also has an extended family and an island, named oddly enough, "Grimace Island."

But alas, all of this is in the past, as commercials have changed quite a bit. We remember growing up watching these, especially on Saturday mornings around cartoon time. Golly, there's another road to travel down: Saturday morning cartoons. Over the last decade, that died down dramatically, as cable channels have emerged and you can watch cartoons whenever you'd like. But when Mommy and Daddy were growing up, you had to watch your cartoons on Saturday morning, pretty much. This was a crucial part of each week that could not be missed! I still remember the days watching Spider-Man, Scooby Doo, the Smurfs. Even into the 90's, there was the Tick and the X-Men. These days, Madison can watch cartoons at any time - today she was watching a few. But it used to be all about Saturday morning - those were the days!

This blog has sort of wandered all over the place, hasn't it? Blame it all on the smoke alarms. Yes, we didn't sleep last night...

Monday, February 27, 2012


This photo was taken today with Madison's little camera - Daddy and she took a break to go down to the playground, and do some playing around. We brought a nerf ball, and Daddy found a few tennis balls as well - first thing we did was play catch over on the tennis courts. Madison wanted to do that first. Then, it was time for the slides and the playground equipment, where we had some more fun. It was such a pleasant day, comparatively speaking to other days weather-wise. It was cool, although not so cold that we wanted to stay indoors completely. To that extent, Mommy, Nana and Ba-Ba were doing some cosmetic work outside, clearing out some of the brush to the side of our yard. And watching out for thorns!

This morning started the way all mornings start when Nana is here: with cards. Madison grabs the cards and wants to play games with Nana all the time, and different ones too.

Here, you can see her playing a variation of the game "Snap," which we call "Cupcake!" I think we changed the name so that we could practice some speech along the way. Regardless, it is fun for both Nana and Madsion: they have a great time together.

Meanwhile, Daddy still labors away for this new series:

Medieval castles still stand to this day, monuments of stone filled with memories of an era long ago. Inside these castles, loyal subjects served their king, and valiant knights stood ready to defend their kingdom. A moat of water usually surrounded the castle’s high walls; it’s only entrance a drawbridge heavily guarded. Castles were very hard to for enemies to take, although history is filled with many attempts – some successful and others not. The battles seemed continuous!

They still are. The Bible tells us that people who have no self-control are like a city with walls broken down. The meaning is true: forces of darkness can invade, and take over a person’s heart if it is not carefully guarded. That’s why we should be vigilant, and keep alert at all times.

In a castle, the deepest and most protected area was called the keep. It was where the items of most value were placed, and defended heavily. Imagine your life as a castle, with your heart in the keep. God wants you to protect it from the impure thoughts and actions that will try to attack.

But how can we do that? Easily. The best way to guard your keep is to remember His commandments. These are the weapons we use to drive off the forces of darkness. Practice with his Word, a sharp two-edged sword that cuts to pieces any disbelief, slices away at sickness and disease, stabs through the heart of unforgiveness, and hacks away at moments of temptation.

There is much to lose if you lose the keep! Read carefully this warning from the Bible, about those who let their guard down: They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.”

Picture the end scene of Sleeping Beauty, a castle surrounded by thorns and brambles – and a lurking dragon. It isn’t a pretty picture. Yet that is what our hearts will be like when we let our guard down, and let evil overrun our once pristine castle.

Don’t let dragons and thorns lurk in the deepest parts of your heart. God is not pleased when we allow evil into our hearts. We must fight off the enemy long before he tries to sneak in and take over. We must defend the keep!

Children's Ministry


Here's a great video that pretty much answers the question what we do with our children's ministry. Daddy and Mommy are seen occasionally in this video, behind-the-scenes and up front. Daddy of course writes all the curriculum, skits, messages, devotionals, videos, and more. Mommy did a wonderful job with the costumes - you'll only see a few in this video. But the thing you'll see the most of is the children and how into each service they are, and their response. It's a well done video, carefully crafted by our friend Josh. He did a wonderful job.

Today was a big day! Nana and Ba-Ba arrived, having a much easier trip than their last journey back. This was good, because it is a long drive from Florida here. There was much excitement, as Madison was completely wired when they arrived. She was so charged up with energy when she heard them arrive. She stopped what she was doing and ran to the door!

Tonight we sat and talked and caught up a bit, although Madison was ready to play some more games with Nana. To her credit, Nana jumped right in despite the long day she'd already had. It was great to have everyone back - but everyone turned in a little early tonight after the long day.

Except Daddy. Still working on messages for next weekend...!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Sword in the Stone

Another day, another entry in the perfect storm of work. Fortunately, the winds seem to be dying and things seem to be calming down slightly. Still, over the next week we'll be frantically gathering costuming and doing all sorts of writing and filming and editing and graphic design for a new series. Lots of work go into every series - in fact, we'll post something here in a bit that shows all that goes into a series for our church. Until then, you'll have to take my word!

It has gotten cold again outside. The funny thing is that it was pretty warm this week - at one point it was 71 degrees outside at night. Now it is in the thirties again, which is pretty disheartening when you've gotten a chance to experience spring-like conditions. We're all pretty ready for this winter to be over with. It was a pretty disappointing one, when you think about it in regards to snow. We're all like, "If you're not going to snow, then just go away." Which has been a collective prayer this weekend. Everyone's tired of being cold for no apparent reason. Although the more harmful effect might be on crops: just when things were coming back to life, things got so cold again!

The Wienermobile is in Georgia today, and just up the road in Toccoa. We can't go because of all that's going on right now, but hopefully it'll appear somewhere else nearby soon. Madison needs to get a weenie whistle of her own. Mommy and Daddy drove down to see the Wienermobile when it was in Buford a few years ago. It was epically amazing. Which is somewhat of an exaggeration, unless you're really into hot dog-shaped vehicles. Which we happened to be. They gave out weenie whistles, we had hot dogs, and we snapped photos as well. It was goofy fun, and hopefully this blog entry is only a bit of foreshadowing of what's to come: our hope is to get Madison to see the Wienermobile. It's a rite of passage!

Tomorrow, we have special visitors again: Nana and Ba-Ba are returning from Florida for a week. Madison is very excited about this, but so are Mommy and Daddy. It'll be a nice week, despite the workload. Daddy will be watching Madison a little bit while they are here, so that Mommy can spend some time with her parents.

Madison spent today with Mommy, doing music practice, speech practice and generally cleaning the house up for our special visitors. Daddy came home earlier though, for "research," so that we could sit together and watch a movie and eat some popcorn. It was movie night for us - and what movie did we see together?

The Sword in the Stone, of course!

Mommy helped Daddy come up with a decent message based on this old legend, and we'll be sharing it at church soon enough. Here it is in a rough form below:

Who so Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil,
is Rightwise King Born of all England.

Care to test your mettle? It might be tougher than you think. That stone is really stuck in that stone! One disappointed gentlemen said of it: “’Tis as if some massive chain bound sword and stone.” Another, wiping the sweat from his forehead, said, “’Tis as if great nails fastened it.”

In other words, that sword wasn’t going to be pulled out of the stone any time soon. Or so they thought. For not long into the day, a young boy named Arthur stepped forward. Surely this small boy couldn’t do what so many strong and healthy men failed at?

And yet they watched as Arthur easily pulled the sword from the stone. Excitement filled the air! Could it be that this boy would be crowned king of all England? The irony is that Arthur didn’t come to London to pull the sword out. No, he had come as a faithful servant, only there to help his older brother at the jousting tournament. Yet soon, the path he was on would lead him to the castle, and to the throne of England.

Many years earlier, a similar story took place. Guided by God, the prophet Samuel was in town to choose the next king of Israel. But who would it be? There were some strong and mighty men to choose from. But God said clearly: “Do not consider how handsome or tall he is. I do not look at the things people look at. Man looks at how someone appears on the outside. But I look at what is in the heart.”

And so Samuel came upon David. He hadn’t seen him earlier, because David was out taking care of his sheep. That was certainly a good sign. David was faithful, taking care of his flock – but someday he would be King, taking care of His kingdom. The message is clear: God sees that those who are faithful with little can be faithful with much, much more.

David was anointed to be the next king, but his heart stayed pure in God’s eyes. As evidence of this, until the day he was crowned, he still spent his time in service to others. In fact, it was on one fateful day that young David was busy helping his family: he was taking needed food to his brothers on the battlefield. But that’s where a giant named Goliath stood taunting the people of Israel. And that’s where destiny stepped in. We all know what happens next, of course. But it’s interesting that David didn’t need to draw a sword. You don’t need a sword from a stone to be a hero. He just took the stone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Knight Long

Daddy missed out on a lot of life this weekend, having to work all night long just to keep afloat at work. Fortunately, we're about to enter a more relaxed period, one with a little less stress.

Madison had another great day at school, with speech therapy going very well as of late. She's also getting more advanced with her piano practice! This is challenging, because Mommy and Daddy have to keep up with her, which requires playing with two hands as well. We didn't really intend for it to happen this way, but indirectly both Mommy and Daddy are learning a bit of piano ourselves, from notes on the page to hand positions on the keyboard. That is sort of a thing we've wanted to do, so that's okay with me I suppose! We'll have our own musical family some day. Just don't ask to hear my singing voice!

Meanwhile, I sit here typing away. Finishing up our "Get a Clue" drama series, while writing new messages for our latest series "Excalibur." The research has been interesting, and educational as well. Additionally, we've been going through some of those fun movies that fit the theme. We get all kinds of ideas, some goofy and others more solid. It's all part of the research.

Here's the first message from the new series, one I've entitled "Knights of Valor."

Hear ye! Hear ye! You are hereby invited to our royal kingdom! We've got plenty to learn as a part of God's royal family. There's a majestic crown waiting for everyone, and a happily ever after too. So draw out your sword - that's the word of God - and meet us at the roundtable.

Are you worthy to be called a knight? Let it not be said you have been weighed and measured – and still found wanting. If you serve the King, you must be sure to act as one. Knights lived by a code of chivalry. They were expected to have the might, and the skills to face a fight. But the code was also a system that introduced what we think of when we think of knights: honor, gallantry, bravery, and treating others with respect. As we represent our King, are we carrying ourselves in the same way? Remember, as a part of His royal court, we must act with valor!

The knights sit around the roundtable, waiting for their charge. King Arthur’s table was a new and amazing concept: it was set up so that all who sat there had equal power. The king was still the king – but every person at the table was just as important as the next. In our King’s eyes, we are all the same too. Don’t think yourself above your proper position, noble friends!

As a knight to the King, we must be prepared at all times to ride to battle. The king’s business takes haste! Nay, we are not called to stay seated inside our spacious castles. We are together on a crusade, battling against the forces of darkness!

So put on the armor of light. It is time to ride forth in the name of the King. It’s time to become Knights of Valor!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Circus, Circus

So today was not a work day, but Daddy was there anyway, desperately trying to head things off at the pass. A "perfect storm" of work is coming, and presently workplace forecasters are classifying it as a category five.

Still, Daddy and Mommy made time to go to the circus tonight with Madison. She absolutely had the greatest time there. She told us she loved the elephants the most, and she really enjoyed sitting with Hannah and Nana. The whole family was there, taking up a large part of a row, watching Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's new circus theme, "Fully Charged." It was actually a pretty clever theme, and the show - although not as good as last year's - was well worth the visit.

There were certainly highlights - we mentioned the elephants. But there was a pretty odd moment where they set up this huge crossbow and launched a guy - on fire and sixty-five miles per hour - all the way across the arena onto a huge inflatable thing. This makes me pause to ask a deep question: who comes up with this stuff?

At what point in your life do you stop and think, "Say, I know what I'm going to do for a living! I'm going to rest my body on top of a crossbow approximately the size of a school bus. Then I'm going to get lit on fire and launch myself a couple hundred feet, going sixty-five miles per hour until I hit something!"

Seriously, that's what this guy tells other people when they ask, "What do you do for a living?" And these other people have to use their most dejected voices when they reply, "I'm an accountant." Or something like that.

Anyway, the show was great. This was an oddball highlight, but some of the more traditional favorites were excellent, particularly the tight wire routine and the strong men. All the other acts were swell too - Madison had a wonderful time with the whole family. We all did, actually!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February Madness

Today was a big work day - here's a photo of Daddy from last Summer Xtreme, obviously a bit of a joke photo. I just happened upon it going through some files, and had completely forgotten about it. One of the current events today - last week, really - involves basketball. It's an Asian player who has been very successful as of late. The reason for his fame is more the fact that a month ago, he was sleeping on a couch, and now he's got people all over the world watching him. But the fact that he is Asian makes it him a NBA rarity, somewhat like Yao Ming. Of course, looking at the picture above, it should be obvious that he won't be able to dunk as well as Daddy does.

Seriously though, we're not much of a basketball family. I think baseball is more our thing. Still, we might make our way to see the Harlem Globetrotters one of these years when Madison is a tiny bit older. I think she'd really get a kick out of those guys. Daddy remembers seeing them at Madison Square Garden. Tomorrow night, we'll see Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's Circus, which Daddy also saw at Madison Square Garden. The circus should be fun - we're all looking forward to a night with the whole family.

Until then, it's work, work, work. We've got somewhat of a "perfect storm" of work situation coming this weekend, which makes me think I'll be camping out at the office again. No rest for the weary, and boy, Daddy's weary. I wonder if there's a vacation coming up soon. It'd sure be nice!

As you'll notice, there's not much about Madison in this blog entry. That's because Daddy didn't get to see her much. We do drive in to work together, still playing Disney "name that tune" and talking about her friends, Wonder Woman, Groundhog and Fluffy. This week, it seems that both Fluffy and Groundhog fell and injured themselves. Madison put makeshift casts on both of their arms shortly before bed last night. They're getting better, but these things take time!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Chimney Promised

A chimney promised,
A comedy shrine imp,
A creme dips hominy,
A disco empire hymn.

Anagrams, anyone? Madison's full name makes a few interesting ones, although nothing monumentally deep. In fact, that's just the sort of day it was: nothing terribly deep.

Here she is, deep inside the famous KP7 megaphone. For some reason, she wanted to put this on her head and wear it like a gnome hat. Obviously, it doesn't fit, which makes for a more amazing hat, actually. What's great about this one is that it has a tiny hole in the top that lets you peek out at the skit (or ceiling in this case) above you. Madison was using this for guidance as she slowly bumped her way around the office, amusing everyone as usual. At one point, Daddy stuck the camera and pointed it downward, inside the megaphone.

This is actually a short screen capture from a quick movie I made as I put the camera in the top of the megaphone.
Our children's ministry has an
excellent band, and they put together some incredible praise and worship music for the children. A few years ago, they released a CD called "NOISE," which is actually very good. The megaphone is the same one, although it is in black and white. Just a little historical perspective there. Currently, the megaphone sits by my desk, quite useful when I need to get anyone's attention. Who needs texting and cellphones?

Music class today went very well, as did preschool classes. Madison's speech teacher stopped me in the hallway to tell me how well she's been doing the last month, and how much progress has been made. We agree: we can hear her getting better and better with her speech. Daddy and Madison practice a bit in the car on the way to school each morning, in between our epic games of "Name that Tune."

Speaking of "epic," this weekend is shaping up to be an epic one in regards to being busy. Mommy and Daddy are trying to attend a marriage conference, while balancing work out here as well. The marriage conference is actually at this church, and lots of people are coming from all over. Oh, the delicious irony of topics: balancing work and marriage, no doubt. And here's Daddy getting worked to death while trying to attend. But I digress!

Are you ready for Camelot? You'll be hearing a lot more about it soon here on the pages of this blog. We got the castle for Madison, and watched a few movies so far for research. Daddy's just now getting started writing some messages that follow the theme. It should be a great month, actually. It's just a lot of work at the last minute. We'll be pretty busy for about a month here, but then things should settle down more: at present, there is no massive Easter production planned for our main sanctuary. Ever since we've had Madison, there's been an "Easter Spectacular," with hundreds of costumes and a ginormous set. But this year will be something a little different. It will be so unusual next month - not having to go to so many play practices, or not having to get costumes in order. We may actually have some extra time before it is all said and done. But... not yet. Right now, it's all about Excalibur.

Hear ye! Hear ye! You are hereby invited to our royal kingdom! Come sit at the round table with us, fellow knights and princesses: we've got plenty to learn as a part of God's royal family. There's a noble crown waiting for everyone, and a happily ever after too. So draw out your sword - that's the word of God - and meet us at the castle for a series unlike any other. It's KidPak Adventures: Excalibur!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Building a Castle

As we're doing an "Excalibur" series upcoming, Daddy thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and build Madison a castle.

Of course, this one was pretty easy to build, by comparison. Despite the fact that some of the stickers were actually sticking to one another, Daddy managed to get this massive enterprise constructed - right behind Madison's bed. It's a couple feet tall, so it's a fairly large construction. It was a surprise for Madison: when she went into her bedroom, she was quite pleased to see Belle, Aurora and Cinderella on the wall, looking over her bed.

This is just phase one of Madison's bedroom. We'll get those silhouette pictures hung up next, and then maybe a few other items. It'll be real "princessy." Yes, that's a word now. The goal for me is to have it done by the end of March at least, by the end of our Excalibur series.

Today was President's Day, which means Madison had it off. Of course, she has every Monday off this year, mainly because Daddy has every Monday off. The whole concept of a day off sometimes gets lost with us - most of Daddy's holidays are days we have off anyway...

We did a bit of "research" today by watching "The Court Jester" with Danny Kaye. Daddy had never seen the movie before, and it stands to reason that Madison did not either. Still, we all rather enjoyed it - and got a few ideas from watching it.

Just prior to this, Madison had piano practice, and seems to be doing even better now. One tune she's been practicing over and over again is a little more complex, and yet she seems to have gotten the hang of it pretty quickly. Of course, by "more complex," I'm not meaning anything dramatically difficult. Give her a break: she's five! But she does play it well, skipping over the notes and actually reading the sheet music in front of her. To help out, Mommy and/or Daddy point out each note and sort of sing along the notes: mi, fa, so... and so on. But towards the end of practice on one particular tune, she'll do the whole thing without anyone's help, simply looking at the sheet music and playing. She's doing great!

She's also doing great with speech. And writing. We're seriously seeing real progress in both of these areas. This morning, she was reading out the letters of the alphabet to Daddy, something that we could take for granted. But with Madison, things have been a little slower to progress - and to our delight, she's suddenly had a spurt of growth in this area. Proudly, she called out the letters, one by one.

This afternoon, we had a nice time reading books as well. Madison had an epic bath time with Mommy, but just before that, we sat down in the reading area upstairs, going through about five different books. It was nice and relaxing, and Madison was really into listening to each story, from Cinderella to Rolie Polie Olie.

The weather was bright, but still a little cool today. Mommy was feeling a little sick, so Daddy braved the elements with the only trip out of the house made today: the trip to the pizza place. Just down the road is a pizza place, which makes for a nice convenient dinner when everyone's a little tired and we need a quick pizza. That pretty much fit today: it was a day to rest, and spend some time together.

It was a pretty fun day!

"A jester unemployed is nobody's fool!" - Hubert Hawkins

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Out of the Lion's Den

Here's Madison's latest creation - she learned about Daniel and the Lion's Den today, and even colored in the story above. Daddy asked why the lion's head was green, at which point Madison corrected me and let me know there was a rainbow in the den. While she was learning about Daniel, lions, and rainbows, Daddy was down the hall with the older children, getting a clue:

It was this kind of day! But it was fun, and the kids loved it. We're already at week three of this series, which means Daddy has to wrap up the story next week. The kids have been very much into it, which is great to hear. We've had some fun this year already, and as you can see above, we've got a crazy cast of characters. Yet already, we need to start our research for March's series, "Excalibur." We had plans to go tonight to Medieval Times for "research," but the cost was a little much. Besides, Daddy didn't care for the fatalities in the show. Seriously, that is what is keeping us from bringing Madison back. We didn't like that Roman colosseum atmosphere so much. The choreography with horses was fun, as was all the pageantry and so forth. But tonight we ordered four Camelot-themed movies over the internet, and with the cost of shipping it was still cheaper than one ticket price. So that's that.

So what did we do tonight? We watched "The Jungle Book." Yes, it has nothing to do with research or Camelot or King Arthur. But it was something Daddy wanted to watch with Madison. In fact, we haven't had "movie night" in a while with Madison, so tonight was as good a night as any. One reason is that Mommy and Daddy were worn out! We get very tired after Sunday's big morning. So it stands to reason that the three of us can snuggle at night under the blanket and watch an old Disney movie. Madison didn't remember this one as much: she was laughing very loudly at the "fight scene" with Baloo. Tomorrow, we'll strive to get "The Jungle Book 2" in - I don't remember that one so much. Actually, I didn't remember this one so much either: it was fun to watch again.

On the books, today is Chocolate Mint Day. I don't know who came up with this holiday, but I for one am extremely grateful. And how ironic that we should have not one, but two boxes of Daddy's favorite Girl Scout Cookies just sitting here: Thin Mints! Madison had her first thin mint today, and responded enthusiastically! Clear proof that this sort of unnatural love of chocolate is a genetic thing passed down from father to daughter. Here's the Punnett Square to show you exactly what I'm talking about.

Hopefully that clears up any confusion. Bottom line, we had some thin mints today, and the experimentation was a clear success!

At night time, Daddy told a story that sort of followed the theme of the day, really. Madison wanted this cast of characters involved: Jack Sparrow, Catwoman, Batman, Cinderella, and herself. This was initially a challenging thought, but then Daddy decided to lump them all together in one Jungle Cruise sort of boat.

It sailed down the river. Everyone was wondering why Catwoman had given each passenger an umbrella, as it didn't seem to be raining. It didn't even look like rain.

Yet that's when the elephants came. They were fun to watch, tromping across the landscape and towards the water. It was fun watching them ease into the water, and playfully splash one another. But then each one lifted his or her trunk - and that's when Catwoman got everyone to open their umbrellas!


It's a good thing they had those!

The boat traveled down river some, until it happened upon some monkeys in the trees. Fortunately, Jack Sparrow brought bunches and bunches of bananas with him, which he left there in the boat. Madison and the others threw their bananas high in the are, and the monkeys swung across the river on vines of trees, reaching out to catch the tasty treats.

As the boat traveled further, they even saw lions. These lions roared loudly, which scared everyone on the boat. It's a good thing the lions didn't want to get in the river. Soon the boat traveled further down.

A long, slithery snake appeared from the water...


Madison hit it on the head, and it didn't bother them anymore.

The boat traveled down river for more adventure, but the narrator was getting tired of telling the story, so he said, "Join us tomorrow night when we continue."

All the people on the boat were wondering where the mysterious voice actually came from, but they trusted him that tomorrow the story would continue, and everyone would have a happily ever after.... the end.

Yes, it wasn't that dramatic of an ending. But Daddy was pretty tired!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Post 1,000!

Madison and Mommy came to the office today to hang out, and if you look carefully at the picture above, you can see that she brought friends! No, I'm not talking about the two guys seated next to her: I'm talking about the fairies they are playing with. Madison is having a good time having an adventure with some fairies from Pixie Hollow.

The weather today was outstandingly yucky. I wish that were something a meteorologist would say, in official terms: "As you can see from the doppler, atmospheric conditions are ideal as this cold weather front pushes from the west to create a deluge of outstanding yucky."

Okay, as the title of this post suggests, this is in fact post #1,000. It seems that there should be some celebration called for, perhaps a celebratory dance or something. I'll save that for later. But perhaps now is a good a time as any to remember...

Okay, so I can't remember everything. But that's the whole point of this blog. I can't remember everything we do every single day. Even typing all this out, we can't record every single moment with Madison.

A few years ago, we were celebrating our first year with Madison. The time had flown by! I had plenty of photographs, and good stories to tell. But I realized there were certain things that were falling into the cracks of time - and we wouldn't be able to tell Madison's complete story later on in life. The big example was that I completely forgot we took her to see the King Tut exhibit, and the Terracotta Warriors too. We weren't allowed to bring cameras in the museum areas, so there wasn't any photographic documentation of this. Now, you're thinking: "Just how forgetful can you be?" Pretty forgetful, in the scope of all of those weeks put together.

I didn't want to be obsessed with every single moment in time, as I no doubt am sounding right now as I attempt to type this out. But I did want Madison to be able to look back some day and see a few things:

1. We wanted her to see what she did and when she did it. This seems rather obvious, of course. But there are so many "firsts" in this blog. When did she first try an Oreo cookie? When did she first try roller skating? What was Christmas like in '09? Some of these questions have answers that could have been erased by the relentlessness of time. But by spending a few minutes every night (okay, about a half-hour), Daddy takes the time to record it all as best as he can remember at the end of the day. And, sometimes a day later.

2. We wanted her to learn about Mommy and Daddy too. This is in essence a letter to Madison. A really, really long letter! Through life, she'll learn a lot about us - but there might be a thing or two learned along the way in this blog as well. I believe "Life Lessons" is one of those categories I'll be setting up soon enough - those things we learned the hard way. This was a great quote I just heard: "Listen to good instruction. Learning by experience eats up the most valuable asset you have: time."

3. We wanted her to know how much we love her. Hopefully she'll see all we do here as an expression of our love. Other might see it as an expression of insanity, but we really do want to make every moment count with her. This blog challenges Daddy not to waste a day of time with her, and make every one have value in her life.

So on July 16, 2009, we began to type our exploits! And for every day since, we have a journal entry to describe just a bit of our time together that day. And 1,000 posts later here we are in February of 2012.

I'm not sure how long this blog will go on, but for these very important early years, we'll do our best to keep it going however we can. At least for another 1,000 posts! Just think, she'll be eight years old then! And, we might just keep it going another 1,000 after that...

But this blog can't look forward so much - it's purpose is to look back. And looking back, even with the briefest glance, we can see how blessed we have been with God's grace over our family.

"So there you go." - Gus Portokalos

Friday, February 17, 2012

Floating Along

Here's our ghost pirate, one of Madison's mascot friends that goes back a long time in our family. He's taking a ride with Flynn Rider, presumably to go fishing somewhere. You can see the mass of Valentine's Day cards that Madison received all in the background. She did well this year!

Today she was off of school, which was nice. I think it is the President's holiday, or something like that. She has Monday off too, but in fact she has every Monday off, so that's not a big deal for us.

Daddy spent a lot of time working today, getting things ready for another big service this weekend. Our "Get a Clue" series continues, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud. Well, sort of...

This is one of our props for the upcoming drama skit. Note Madison's eyes peeking out from the newspaper, as if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is peeking about! She's got the makings of a Baker Street Irregular, she does!

Outside, once again the weather is springlike, whereas just a few days ago it was bitter cold. Not entirely sure what to wear when you leave in the morning - you really have to pay attention to the weather forecast!

One game that Madison and Daddy have been playing a lot lately is "Name that Tune." Or, at least, "Name that Princess Who is in that Movie that has that Tune in it." This title seems a little longer, even with the acronym NTPWIITMTHTTIT, so we'll just stick with "Name that Tune." In any event, in the car on longer rides to school or church, we'll take turns singing songs and seeing if the other person can guess what princess movie it is from. This has been a fun exercise, but the favorite moment is hearing Madison sing different songs. Her "go-to" songs have been from Ariel ("aaaaaaah"), and from Snow White ("I'm wishing....I'm wishing"). It's so cute hearing her sing! She's also pretty quick at figuring out different songs that Daddy tries to stump her with.

Guess what? This is post number 999. That's a big deal! Tomorrow is our 1,000th post. It seems like only yesterday we started marking time with this blog. Amazingly, we've kept it going strong each day. In fact, looking back at the first entries, I'd say we're writing more than we used to about each day. Still, we can look back on different moments and say with precision what we did and when, and how much fun it was. For the most part, it's all been fun. Lots of fun. So here's to another couple thousand posts!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Galactic Ice Cream

So recently we put this little tracker on the blog - just for fun to see where everyone is coming from to see this. Here are some results, which lead me to wonder how on earth you wind up on this blog all the way from Istanbul (not Constantinople), or Liverpool, or Taipei, or Stockholm, or Cape Town. Talk about variety! Just think, everyone in the world can come and see this site, and enjoy embarrassing pictures just like this!

Sadly, visitors to the site today could be disappointed: it was a slightly dull day. First of all, the weather - though warmer - was wet. And grey. Translation: not nice weather for going outdoors.

So we stayed indoors for the most part. We went to ballet, of course, in the evening. This was the last class of the session for Madison, though the next session starts in just a few short weeks (March 1st). Madison loves to go to ballet, of course. It has been such a small class, so it has been such an intimate environment for learning. Madison has enjoyed it very much, and it is so cute to see the three little ballerinas marching into to class each week. Peeking through the window outside the classroom, it's precious to watch her and her classmates and teacher do their little dances and routines.

With piano practice, Madison has been earning Mom Bucks left and right, and her practice is paying off: she's getting much better! And she's also wanting to play games more and more. Of course, we do puzzles a lot. In fact, we got some new ones to do this past week for Valentine's Day. But the latest obsession is Lego Star Wars - the Clone Wars game. This is a surprisingly fun game, one that Madison is really getting into. What fun to be Count Dooku riding around in an ice cream truck that plays music as it runs over battle droids.

This would make Willrow Hood very proud.

There are plenty of obscure characters in the Star Wars universe, but Willrow Hood may take the cake. Or the ice cream, as pictured above. This is a screen capture from the movie "The Empire Strikes Back." He's an extra, seen very briefly escaping Cloud City shortly after Lando Calrissian announces the Empire is taking over the gas mining facility. What is that he's carrying? It appears to be an ice cream maker. By gum, the Empire may be getting the planet, but they sure aren't getting my ice cream maker! Writers came in to explain that this was in fact not an ice cream maker that he's holding on to, but some sort of main computer memory core that he was going to dispose of. But we know the truth: he's really the Ice Cream Maker Guy.

Apparently ice cream is an important thing in the Star Wars universe. Today, Madison got to experience that a little first-hand, even with some of the cut-scenes in between gameplay:

All this talk of ice cream has made us a little hungry! It's time for some ice cream!

"Freeze, you rebel scum." - Colonel Dyer

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You Need a Hat

Daddy was on his way out the door this morning to go to work, when Madison stopped him:

"Wait! You need a hat."

It was funny to hear from her. Was Daddy's hair messed up or something? One look at Mommy said that it wasn't exactly messy. It must be a whim that Madison had: Daddy needed a hat.

Daddy promptly went to a nearby room and got a Mad Hatter hat.

"How's this?"

"NO!" she laughed.

Daddy went and tried another hat, a Viking helmet.

"How about this one?"

"NO!" she said. "That's a costume hat."

Daddy then went and found a baseball glove to put on.

"This one?" he asked.

"NO!" she said. "That's not a hat at all!"

That's when Daddy got his ball cap, and put it on.

"This one?"

"Yes, that's a hat," she told me. I didn't think I needed a hat, but regardless, today I wore one. I was ready to go out the door once more, when she made one more pronouncement:

"Wait! Group hug!"

Madison loves group hugs with the family. Mommy, Daddy and Madison got together in the kitchen right there for a big group hug.

"Bye, bye!" she said immediately afterwards.

And then, it was time to go.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Valentine's Day, Be Mayan

We decided to have a little fun with the Kinect again tonight before bed. We went to Disneyland again, but not before making heart shapes with our sparklers, as you can see above.

What a day it was! Daddy got Mommy Valentine's Day present with an unusual theme: "This Valentine's Day, Be Mayan." That is, rather than "Be Mine." You see, 2012 is claimed by some to be the end of the world because of a Mayan calendar, so Daddy grabbed hold of this apocalyptic theme and went with it:

You can see even the Mayan temple there, along with the similar colored wrapping paper on the boxes below, stacked pyramid-style. Each one has a lot of Ghirardelli chocolate in them (eat like it's the end of the world), and the bottom box contains Perry Stone's "Breaking the Apocalypse Code" box set. Daddy even made a goofy card, which you can see in the front.

Madison got a lot of stuff too! She got about thirty or forty different Valentine's Day cards in the mailbox again, from characters like Princess Tiana, Yoda, Lightning McQueen, and Tinkerbell. She loved that, but these were just part of her special day. Earlier at school, she and her classmates exchanged cards and candy, just like we remember doing when we were children too. She had decorated a paper bag, as did all her classmates. Then, each child put candy and cards in all the bags until each one was filled with all kinds of goodies. Madison came home with a lot of special memories, and some special sweets too!

But before coming home, she stopped by Daddy's work so she could give everyone Valentine's Day cards and cookies. What a full day she was having! She spread the love, and everyone enjoyed having her there very much. She's a sweetheart!

There was no music class today, but even without it, we had ourselves a very full day. In fact, Daddy's a little worn out as he types this: he's nearly ready for bed, and it's still pretty early! But we've got one more thing to do - it's time for Daddy and Mommy to watch another romantic movie. It's "romantic movie" month at the house, and tonight's feature is "Benny and Joon."

Joon: He can really cook, can't he?
Benny: Uh, yeah. Although for grilled cheese, I mighta used a wool setting.