Saturday, March 31, 2012

He's back!

Last month I perfected spelling words like "medieval" and "renaissance," and this upcoming month promises better spelling with words like "pharaoh" and "sarcophagus." Translation: we're leaving "Excalibur" and moving on to a new series "Exodus." I'm not sure why we keep getting drawn to series titles that being with "Ex-" this time of year. We had "Xtreme" and "Exodus" two years ago, so I guess we're building up a year's worth of curriculum that starts with an "Ex."

Today was a huge work day, where unfortunately Madison was up with us pretty late. She stayed until around 10:30 or so, and of course Daddy left a lot later than that.

Looking back, today was a rhyming sort of day. Though nothing in particular rhymes with Exodus, we have discovered that with Madison, the concept of rhymes has finally sunk in. It has been pretty funny as of late. Madison is finding rhymes for any word at all, pretty frequently too. This is interesting, because to begin with she wasn't really getting the concept at all. But now, she's suddenly pointing out to us, "Hey, that's a rhyme!" And pointing it out a lot! It's been fun, of course, and as parents we're happy to see her learning in this direction. We looked at the kindergarten first quarter rubric (which is such a fun word to say), and were pleased to see that Madison has mastered quite a few of these concepts listed. She's already met many of the goals for the first quarter. Other goals, like getting to twenty, she's close to getting. To help out, we've printed out worksheets that she happily takes with her and completes. She's been really enjoying doing her homework lately, which is pretty thrilling for us, because I don't know about you, but I did not like homework!

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, of course. That's the big day we've been preparing for. It's a very special time of year, and we are so happy to see something with Madison. She has a children's Bible, one that she's had for some time actually. But she's suddenly taken a very huge interest in this of late. She actually has it with her at night as she sleeps. She takes it with her, just like she takes with her some of her stuffed animals. She opens it up and asks Daddy to read, which of course he's happy to do. We've been reading the stories of Jesus this week, as it is a special time of year, but not because Daddy picked the stories out. Madison has asked to have us read to her these stories. Tonight as Daddy got home late, he saw her Bible was open, an illustration of three crosses left there for all to see. It was a moving moment. We're so happy to see her into the Bible so much, so early. Of course, Daddy will be reading that to her a lot over the next few weeks. With our current series, we'll no doubt be reading about Exodus - and learning about that nasty pharaoh (which rhymes with barrow, arrow, narrow, taro, marrow, sparrow, and possibly sombrero).

Speaking of "Exodus," Daddy was reading from a library book the story, and we came upon the plague of hail. I was explaining the concept of hail to Madison, but she didn't remember the one time she saw it before. I was wishing she did remember, because that would make it easy to know what hail actually was. SO, a couple days later, guess what happens outside? It just so happens we were walking nearby a window at church and sure enough, there was hail outside. Lots of it! It wasn't in plague proportions, but there was quite a bit of it. Daddy ran outside, got pelted, and brought a few in for her to examine. "Brrrr!" she said, "It's cold!" It was so great that I had a teachable moment there, on multiple levels. It was seriously only two days ago that I was wishing for her to see hail, and then she saw it. And then... she saw this:

Yep, a rainbow right there at the church. Neat stuff! Daddy snapped a picture of the rainbow as soon as he could - it's always fun to show "what's at the end of the rainbow." In this case, it was where we pretty much spent the day: at church.

Tomorrow should be really good day. Although that's not what the Egyptians thought...

"So at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm ever to fall on Egypt in its entire history." Exodus 9:18 NIrV

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hades' Underwear

Mommy and Madison have been playing this online board game as of late, which features a boat that travels from island to island collecting treasure while trying to avoid the villains that live on each island. It's a Disney Cruise Line game, of course, and as she's been doing it every day, she's been quick to call out certain areas her boat arrives at. One dangerous region: Hades' Underworld. Yet Madison calls it out each time: "Beware Hades' Underwear!"

And of course we all laugh, which makes her want to do it again. "Beware Hades' Underwear!"

This is a funny moment for a child: the moment she realizes she's made a joke. Learning humor is a gradual process though, as any parent knows. Once a child realizes she has said something funny, she'll repeat it ad infinitum, or until one parent is driven crazy. Fortunately, both Mommy and Daddy were good spirits about it, and played along. It genuinely was funny to begin with, and watching her laugh over and over again was somewhat contagious! She turns to us and laughs, and announces, "I cracked you up!" Yeah, that was pretty good, Madison!

Speaking of pretty good: Hey, take a look at this photo! Madison looks so mature in this picture, so ready to graduate. It really is a good photo - we haven't ordered any yet, but this here is merely a scan of the order sheet. Daddy and Mommy want to order a lot of this photo, as we think Madison did really well with it. The other photos, however, were a complete waste of everyone's time. Last season's school photos were tolerable, but to be honest we only bought them because they were "school photos." This one you see here was incredible, and perfect, and above anything we could imagine. The other photos looked like there was no thought whatsoever put into them. It was like: "Here, go stand over there and face us. Okay, one...two... oops, the camera went and took the picture early. Oh well. Next!"

Which is essentially how most of my pictures looked growing up, so this probably explains things!

We have a big weekend coming up. New series, and a huge Palm Sunday service, as described in the entires before this. That said, we've been very busy at work putting it all together. Madison spent quite a bit of time at the office with us, and has become somewhat of a mascot, just in case you didn't pick that up from the jousting episodes. It's great to have her there - she changes the atmosphere. It's as if she's walking into Hades' Underworld and announcing "Hades' Underwear!" And making everyone smile!

"Name's Hades, Lord of the dead. Hi, how ya doin'?"
- Hades

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kindergarten Registration

This afternoon, Madison visited a place for the first time, Chestatee Elementary School. This school is very close to where we live, and will be a place Madison goes to five days a week (and sometimes more), starting August 9th. Can you believe she's already registered for kindergarten? The school made it easy, and of course Mommy had all the paperwork (and copies) ready for the day. Madison's first task at the school: a test. She was counting, identifying colors, identifying shapes and even writing her name. We saw the library for her school, which to Madison is always a place of wonder. It helped that they had building blocks to play with too - Madison the architect went straight to work building a masterpiece. Here it is:

Just kidding. That's the front of the school itself. We got there early enough in the process, so we didn't have to wait so long. Our next stop was the school nurse, who was a very pleasant person. We talked of allergies and even the recent struggle with mono, and then moved on to the paperwork side of things, while Madison sat in a waiting area coloring people with an orange crayon.

Madison did so well today. Her speech is improving rapidly. Although it's clear she's still challenged in many areas, we could still all understand her, including the teachers - who have no context. We were very proud of her - and it was clear she was excited about being there. School is something that she really likes going to.

I wish I felt that way growing up, but that's just another thing to be grateful for. Add that to the massive list of blessings we have today.

We've got ballet tonight, and until then Madison is taking a little nap, recovering from last night's big fun. But today was another big day as well, one where Madison first got to see a tiny peek at a magical place called... kindergarten!

"We're going to play a wonderful game called... 'Who is my daddy and what does he do?' "
- Detective John Kimball

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Treasure Trove on Ice

Tonight is Disney on Ice, which is going to be a lot of fun, particularly because Madison has no idea we're going! Seriously, we've kept this one as a surprise. Mommy got a glowing magic wand last night, and Daddy got the tickets a long time ago, so much so that we ourselves nearly forgot! The tickets were advance sale tickets, and at a crazy price - really cheap. We're sitting on the seventh row, so Madison should be up close and personal with all of her Disney friends. Can't wait to see her expression tonight.

Just as a precaution, Mommy is taking her home for lunch, instead of here - Madison will take a good nap and be rested for the fun night. Daddy can't wait. We've been super stressed and running here and there to prepare for Sunday's illustrated sermon. It's been pretty wild around here this week, but things are coming together. We're about ready to go off to the show though, and we'll be able to hit the "off" button for a few hours. We'll write about it later on...

Later on...
Okay, we're back from the big event. We had REALLY close seats this time, so I snapped a couple good pictures? Wanna see 'em? Okay, here they are!

We had a great night watching the show - it was a bit of a variety, with emphasis on "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "The Lion King," and then a few other surprises - including "Snow White," "Tangled," and "The Princess and the Frog."

Madison was absolutely delighted to see the show, screaming out at all the right places, her eyes always looking straight ahead and never distracted. She was a bit tired towards the end, but her eyes never strayed!

We had a great time as a family together. We might have to go and see a few of these movies now, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow's a big day for registration! Registration for what? More on that... tomorrow!

"I'm slipping and sliding cause I'm running on ice..."
- Billy Joel

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Portrait of Life

In 2005, three years before we met Madison, our church did a recreation of the painting, "The Last Supper." This is a screen shot of that performance, and as you can see we even had a ginormous frame up there on the stage. Inside are twelve apostles and Jesus, who is wearing a robe that Mommy created. Second from the left is Ye-Ye, and two seats to the right of Jesus is Daddy - both of us looked shocked as Jesus has made the announcement, "One of you will betray me." Each of us asked the question, "Is it I?"

Ye-Ye is playing the part of James, brother of John - and Daddy is playing the part of James the Lesser. It was a big moment for us all, and a very moving illustrated sermon that we'll reproduce in just a few days. Thousands got to see it, and the idea was so successful that we've reproduced it a few times over the years. We haven't done the frame in a while, but this year they are building one in the main sanctuary - right now as I type this out.

I'll be back as a disciple, one with an edge. I'm portraying Simon the Zealot. Not much is known about him, but the "zealot" part of his name tends to make us believe this guy was a bit fiery. As I walk up to the portrait and take a seat, I'll have a sort of intense look about me - which is something I'll have to figure out before Sunday. But that's the least of our worries.

This year, Daddy has been busy getting cast and costumes and a few props and make-up for a new version of this production, so he's been pretty busy. And slightly stressed to be honest. It's not very easy to find a guy who looks like Jesus. Or Kenny Loggins.

But we may have found favor, because it just so happens there's a teacher that has the look we need, so I'll be hopefully nailing down that lead in a bit. In the meantime there are so many other little leads to chase, and of course the typical children's ministry labors as well. Daddy and Mommy have suddenly found ourselves quite busy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Six Years Ago

Six years ago today - it was a rough one. Mommy had gone in for a colonoscopy, after suffering for months with a lot of extreme pain that lasted for hours. CT Scans and X-rays picked up nothing much, other than the obvious inflammation. But what was causing the inflammation?

Keep in mind we had just sent our dossier off, the one that would lead us to Madison. We weren't ready for the answer: it was cancer.

Of course, we didn't get the answer right away. These things are so easy to lump together after the fact. What anyone who has been through all of this knows is that you have to wait, wait and wait.

Although our wait time was not that long for the emergency surgery that followed. You see, a tumor was growing inside of Mommy, and it was blocking some of her digestive path. It was dangerously close to completely blocking it altogether, in fact. So an emergency surgery was scheduled for the very next day.

Yet still: was it cancerous? We had to wait a while for that. I remember the wait time as they analyzed the tumor they removed. Unfortunately, the surgery couldn't get all of that evil tumor. And along the way, Mommy had to have an ileostomy - something she'd keep for a few years. Daddy and Mommy worked together with that for quite some time until February of 2008.

So the results came back, and Daddy remembers Mommy walking into the office to tell her it was cancer. We cried together, and cried for many months after that. But the place Daddy works at was very understanding, and very generous: we were able to spend every moment of chemotherapy together. Three days a week, in the middle of each day, Daddy would walk in with Mommy and we would make it through.

Together we walked in, and together we sat as Mommy went through the chemo. We brought along a small DVD player, and watched every Abbott & Costello movie back to back to back. The scripture was "A merry heart does like good medicine," so Daddy made sure we were always watching something funny.

The radiation treatments were quick and painless initially, though we've since come to understand they were ultimately the most damaging. But chemo takes time and money. Again, we were grateful that God had us working in a place with good insurance and even better understanding of the situation.

We made it through the next nine months, and we made it together. But it has to be said: one of the thoughts that kept Mommy's spirits up and positive was the thought of Madison. She knew that soon, when she made it through all of this, she'd be holding Madison in her arms.

Thank you, God. Thank you for Your faithfulness in all things, for Your grace and mercy. Thank you for Mommy, and thank You for Madison. I will forever be grateful, and filled with joy that we were led not just into trouble, but through it to the other side.

Morning by morning I wake up to find the power and comfort of God's hand in mine. Season by season I watch him amazed, in awe of the mystery of his perfect ways.

All I have need of his hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me.

I can't remember a trial or a pain he did not recycle to bring me gain. I can't remember one single regret in serving God only and trusting his hand.

All I have need of his hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song, the theme of the stories I've heard for so long. God has been faithful, he will be again. His loving compassion, it knows no end.

All I have need of his hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me.

- Sarah Groves

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Attack of the Princess-inators

One round of jousting - winner take all! Today's video got a big response from our kids, which was great to hear. We'll play it one more time in service Sunday before retiring the Jousting Wars, but it's been a fun run. Kids really got into this for some reason. Maybe there's some genetic thing within all of us that desires to see people get in shopping carts and run full speed towards each other.

Service today was one of the funniest ones that I've ever been involved in. It was so much fun to be a part of, and the kids were so into it as well. It was actually that kind of day all day long, actually. We had so much fun.

But when we got home, it was time for some rest. The day was so beautiful outside, it seemed a shame to waste it. And yet, we ourselves were wasted! Daddy was up until 1:30 am trying to put things together for the service, and that just sort of wipes you out. Day of rest? Absolutely. Even Mommy was into the act: we just sort of lounged about.

Madison and Daddy did some video games today, saving the galaxy with Lego Star Wars, and then returning to Disney Universe for a bit to download the new Muppets costumes. I'm sorry to say no Rowlf the Dog costume, but at least there's a Gonzo! It doesn't matter: Madison still loves picking up Daddy and throwing him around. Which is sort of like the Princess-inator I know she can be!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Final Joust

The big event was today, as Madison got in her shopping cart one more time to defend her crown. This time, Mommy had a hand in helping her dress, as you'll see in the video we plan on posting soon. Madison was a real trooper - she and her older partner Ashley came out onto the big field, and we each has these shopping carts ("borrowed" from Bed, Bath and Beyond). Madison and Ashley's team was called "The Princess-inators," partly inspired by any invention from Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The shopping cart was decorated with pink and red feather boas, which makes sense if you want to go to war in a fashionable frame of mind. Meanwhile, the other team, "The Fire Breathing Rhinos," was clad in Roman soldier wear, along with sensible shin pads and so forth. And so, we found ourselves at this big field, behind the Bed, Bath and Beyond. There we did our filming in the warm sun - it was certainly feeling like spring today. But that might be because everyone was dressed up in armor. And pink feather boas.

Madison enjoyed it very much, but it did tire her out somewhat. Tomorrow, she'll see her newest moment of jousting combat, the conclusion of our Jousting Wars. Of course, she wins. Who can beat a cute five-year-old girl? It's one of those laws of the universe.

Today was a lot of work surrounding this smaller adventure, which by comparison was rather dull. Tomorrow we'll have a bit of free time together, and of course tomorrow is the day of the big joust!

See you then, brave knights! If we sold tickets to this event, it'd be better than any Renaissance Festival or Medieval Times event. Yay, I spelled those two words right without having to use spell check - that's just one benefit of doing a series dedicated to this sort of theme!

Jocelyn: Better a silly girl with a flower than a silly boy with a horse and a stick.
Wat: It's called a lance. Hello?

From "A Knight's Tale"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Robin Hood

Madison and Mommy showed up at work today with lunch, and it was just in time too! We had a pretty good day today, with a bit of work involved on an upcoming illustrated sermon based on "The Last Supper" painting. No doubt, there'll be photos here eventually. The message is a strong one, and a perfect one for Palm Sunday. It'll be a pretty good week, actually.

Just today, as is tradition, the palms arrived. We order palms for all the kids once a year, and today they arrived at our front door, traditionally when it is too late to put them in a large refrigerator. Fortunately, the temperature is pretty cool outside for the time being, so that should serve us well.

Tonight, Daddy popped in a shorter movie, Disney's "Robin Hood." We got to sit together at the couch and munch on some popcorn for movie night, which is always nice. It's a chance to be together for a short bit. Now that the weather is getting better, we can start going to do some outdoor things - like fishing, for example. But this weekend and next, Mommy and Daddy will probably be slightly worn out - so movie night it is!

Madison enjoys this one as much as the one we watched the other day, "The Jungle Book." I'm starting to inflict upon her some of these old "classic" Disney animated films, and maybe throw in some live action ones too. Ever note the similarity between Sir Hiss/Kaa and Little John/Baloo? One side effect of this movie is whistling that infectious tune at the beginning - you know the one the rooster does at the start of the movie?

Anyway, put her down on the couch between us with a big thing of popcorn and she's good to go. So are we!

"I've got a dirty thumb." - Prince John

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pollen Count

So we broke a record with the pollen this week. Look at it collected there along Lake Lanier. I didn't take this picture, but if I did, I'd be wearing one of those bio-hazard suits you'd see in an "Outbreak" movie.

Yes, it does affect Madison somewhat. She's had a runny nose for a bit, and a small bit of congestion. Fortunately, she hasn't been that bad this week. Daddy and Mommy have been okay too, but many others are really suffering, as the air is just thick with yellow clouds floating about. The cars are covered, the streets are covered, and even we are covered. We all walk inside, feeling like we have this slimy film of yellow on our skin. It makes you want to jump in the shower immediately!

Today we did go out though: first stop was the library. Had to get more books! Daddy dropped off the old ones, and he and Madison had fun looking for some new ones and a new videos too. After that, we went to ballet again. Lots of fun there, of course. Madison is really having a great time with ballet, to the point that she keeps her hands above her head as she walks out to the car. One tradition that we never miss involves doing a balance beam act all the way from the entrance of the place to the parking lot - which is quite some distance, actually. Other children have gotten in on the act, so we have this caravan of tight-rope walkers now, all stepping carefully along the yellow-tinted walkway.

"If a bee is allergic to pollen would it get the hives?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So we're having a lot of 3D stuff at the church as of late. We had some meetings today, and Daddy got to see the new 3D Easter movie the church is showing in a couple weeks. It's a little different, but that's just the thing I suppose to capture someone's attention. Rather than have some elaborate play, we're handing out 3D glasses to everyone and showing Easter in 3D!

But wait! There's more! Some time ago, we determined that we would be doing our Summer Xtreme event in June - in 3D. Yep, that's right. We've got a 3D camera now, so we'll be filming a lot of stuff, and taking photos - in 3D. It should be a rather unique idea, and of course Madison will get to see it all. In fact, she may actually be in a 3D movie herself. We'll see - if anything, we'll at least film some casual footage around the office of her in 3D, maybe experimenting a little. It'll post here, and be fairly neat.

Speaking of "filming," this weekend we've got the grand finale of our Jousting Wars, which feature Madison and Ashely (the Princess-inators) vs. the Fire Breathing Rhinos. It should be an epic contest, the last jousting match of our very own version of March Madness.

Madison had her school photo today - it was not in 3D. Although that would be pretty cool, huh? School photos in 3D! Mommy dressed her up very nicely, so we'll have to see this time if the picture actually came out nicely too. Last time, the hair was all over the place and so forth. You just never know what you're going to get!

From what I understand, they also took a photo of her in a cap and gown. Now that's fun right there! I wonder if she'll get a diploma? I'll have to post it here. Our first graduation ceremony, perhaps. I wasn't even thinking about that with this school, but yeah, there it is. Daddy had his first graduation ceremony after 2nd grade. We planted a tree on graduation day, and had to remember this song which I strangely remember to this day. I don't think the tree made it, which is a real shame. But that's what it's like living in New Jersey.

Madison has been helping Mommy plant - although we haven't planted any trees. We have been doing some modifications of the front yard, which is looking very nice this week.

Before leaving, here's one of the messages (of five) that Daddy wrote that has to do with our 3D theme this summer. Enjoy!

If the Bible were a movie, it would have to be 3D. It’s filled with amazing adventures, epic conflicts, and larger-than-life characters. Open up your Bible to the New Testament, and you can’t help but notice a man named Peter who really lived a life in 3D. He was imperfect, but who isn’t? This guy lived a life to the extreme, and if you want to live a lifethat’s just as thrilling, you’ve got to live life in 3D: Devoted, dependable, and dynamic!

First, you’ve got to be devoted. Determined and dedicated, we must stay focused on Jesus, and remember to keep our eyes on Him. Like a guy with an annoying cellphone in the theater, distractions may try to catch your attention. But you must stay focused straight ahead. Peter learned this the hard way when he took his eyes off of Jesus at just the wrong moment. Walking on the water, Peter was doing just fine so long as he kept his eyes where they needed to be. But he was seeing nothing but trouble when he looked elsewhere, that’s for sure. Keep your eyes focused ahead, and stay devoted!

Secondly, you’ve got to be dependable. Peter fled the scene when persecution came. So did many others – not many stayed when Jesus was taken off to be crucified. Yet Jesus showed forgiveness, the same forgiveness that we too can receive when we serve Him. Jesus is calling us all to live for Him. Can you be dependable? Will you feed His sheep?

Finally, you’ve got to be dynamic. Fortunately, a movie about Peter won’t end with him running away. He realized he was forgiven, just like we can be, and from that day on boldly stood out for his Savior and King. Do you want to live a life as thrilling as a 3D action adventure? Stand out boldly for Him, and watch the excitement unfold!

It’s time for us all to live with the best kind of vision. It’s time for us to live a life in 3D!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fudge Mountain

Here it is, the mythical Fudge Mountain. Of course, it isn't really mythical. It's a real place, located inside Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. If Madison could, she'd be eating from this mountain every moment possible. And yes, Daddy would be somewhere nearby. Madison loves chocolate, and as Easter is coming up soon, it stands to reason that she'll probably be getting all sorts of chocolate from Ye-Ye, Nana and the Easter Bunny as well. There's no question that she'll have enough chocolate to make her own version of Fudge Mountain inside the house.The
week after
Easter, we'll have to mount our own expedition and see if we can climb to the top of it. Don't worry - we'll have all our proper climbing gear on, and we'll dress warmly. I'm sure the temperature gets quite a bit colder as you climb in altitude. And you have to be careful when you approach the top: you've probably heard of the "Death Zone" past a certain elevation because of lower oxygen levels. Well, on Fudge Mountain, there's an even scary "Death by Chocolate Zone." Seriously, you have to be completely prepared when you attempt an ascent such as this. But we'll be tethered together as we scale the chocolate face of things. It could be perilous, and many may ask the question: "Why climb at all?" Because it's there, my friends. We must climb Fudge Mountain!

Madison did very, very well for piano practice today. She went with Mommy, who was quite impressed. There were certain things she was doing better than the rest of the class too - and this was thrilling to Mommy. It was a great day for Madison overall - today we learned about the letter X. We learned about a fox and a box and ox and Scandinavian lox. We also learned about pirates, who are all experts about the letter X. They are always looking for an X, as any good pirate should. The X-Men are quite familiar with the letter as well, but we haven't spoken with them yet about their experience with the 24th letter. We're not quite sure where they are right now - perhaps they're with the pirates looking for treasure. Or possibly they're up in the higher altitudes... on Fudge Mountain!

"I'd rather not talk about this one."
- Willy Wonka

Monday, March 19, 2012


Daddy grilled dinner tonight, which is the official start of the warmer season, although the calendar says Spring starts tomorrow. It may seem a little early, but some grilled hot dogs and hamburgers were too hard to resist. And by gum, it all tasted really good!

Today was a mishmash of activity: we did finish our piano practice, which was a bit more extensive than usual. One reason is a piano recital coming up. Don't those two words together sound amazing? We'll post the date here soon enough, but there's a piano recital coming up and a ballet recital. We're officially in the parent zone now with all these recitals! Madison is going to play a song about snails, we think. It goes with the overall theme chosen for the recital, which is based on the "Carnival of the Animals." As such, we've been also instructed to listen to the song, "Talk to the Animals," by Dr. Doolittle. This is not the Eddie Murphy version, but rather the Rex Harrison version, which features songs and music.

Another thing we did today was go to Sears. Yeah, it was that kind of day. We went to Lakeshore Mall, one of the quietest places in the known universe, and home to at least a dozen visitors per day. Seriously, I wish someone could do something about Lakeshore Mall - it is so depressing there! It used to be the place in the late eighties and early nineties. I remember when they built the expansion to the mall, complete with a carousel and theater. Part of the new expansion: Sears. It had moved from another dying mall area, if memory serves me correct. There used to be a theater over on Enota Drive, a Sears - and a store called "Roses." Now there's an ancient memory - Roses stores were all over back then.
Times change!

So here we were at Sears, which oddly enough was our destination for the day. Yep, it was that exciting of a day. Our goal was to go to Sears to get a rake, and maybe some shoes for Madison. Madison was charming as always. We had a tea party in the shoe section. One end cap was the tea station, where Madison produced some of the most remarkable imaginary tea ever tasted. She even got some for the salesperson who was there - she tried it and loved it's taste. The other end cap - that is, the place to sit down and try on shoes - that one became a chiropractic office. Both Daddy and Madison measured each other's feet, and did some necessary back work.

But soon it was time to leave the playground known as Sears!

We spent a lot of time at home today, counting. You can thank the Leapster Explorer for that. Madison and Daddy made it to the end of Tinkerbell's game, with math problems getting steadily more and more difficult. Daddy was there to help, and Madison seemed to understand some of those basic concepts. Math is one of those subjects that can be tough at any age - remember the time where you were trying to figure out what 18-10 is, just by using your fingers? That's where we were today, only we were using both of Daddy's hands, and then both of Madison's hands. We were counting the afternoon away, doing simple math as Tinkerbell made her way to get a special scepter. That ought to count for something.

As said earlier, it was a mishmash sort of day...!

"Put on your Sunday best kids; we're going to Sears!"
- Mike Brady

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Yard Work

Of course there was church in the morning. The three of us got there in the nick of time, as we sort of kept hitting the snooze button time and again in the morning. We're continuing our series about castles, knights, kings and queens, and today's story was a bit of David and King Saul meets Snow White. It was unique to say the least. We started out before service with some major league technical problems, but as usual, by day's end, it was a big win for the team. A lot of effort goes into all of this, put together by a very talented team.

When Daddy got home, it was first time for some leftover Irish food from yesterday - and then time for some yard work. Madison is such a helper when it comes to getting stuff done outside. She even has her own smaller version of a rake and shovel to help out with those tasks. One such task was creating a vegetable garden. It was like Harvest Moon 64, but with real work. Daddy and many of his friends were addicted to this game in the 90's, the first real "Farmville." We were there first, the agricultural pioneers - and apparently addicts. This game featured a lot of social interaction with townspeople, holidays, farm animals to take care of, and of course a whole lot of crops. Playing this game was like getting a fever - you just had to ride it out until it was over, and until then it essentially controlled your life. That's why when I heard of "Farmville," I just said no. Enough with the imaginary crops!

Today's crops were more real, although we technically didn't plant them. Like in Harvest Moon 64, we had to clear the boulders and get those tree trunks out of the way. Lots of weeding and setting things up today, but we got it all done thanks to the help from Madison. Actually, one of our neighbors was quite helpful as well, letting us borrow a few tools to get things done quicker. Madison helped rake the cut leaves and branches, pull weeds, dig holes, spread newspaper and hay, and a whole lot more. She is really into gardening, actually!

The weather was absolutely wonderful today. We were actually a little toasted when we came in - both Mommy and Daddy felt like we got a little too much sun today, actually. Before coming in, we snapped a few photos of the blooms on the tree just outside our porch. Things are so pretty after the winter months fade away... as we close this email, here's a few of those pictures:

The last picture is of our favorite flower. She's on her toy cellphone - I think she's calling to order a pizza...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Whodunnit!

We journeyed over to Nana and Ye-Ye's place today for a whodunnit - a murder mystery where everyone was a suspect!

The theme was St. Patrick's Day, of course, with plenty of the usual great food when it was break time. We had corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, those shamrock cookies, Mommy's delicious marzipan potatoes - and birthday cake as well! We celebrated both Aunt Shain's birthday, and Jonathan's birthday too. It was quite an occasion!

Everything was a bit scripted this time, but it still took us a while to figure out the culprit. So you're probably asking, "Whodunnit?" The answer: all of us! It was somewhat like the movie "The Oriental Express," where everyone had their sinister hand in it. So, in a way, when we guessed at the end whodunnit, we were all right - from a certain point of view. In fact, you probably were too. Time to haul everyone off in handcuffs!

Friday, March 16, 2012


In honor of St. Patrick's Day coming up, we took another picture of Madison on the steps with Erin the Bear. As you can see, the green bears are multiplying. As a reminder, the photo on the right is one of the very first pictures we got from China of Madison - she's dressed warmly and is holding a few toys, one of which is Erin the bear. It's a beanie baby.

As the picture circulated amongst friends and family, it became a small quest to get at least one Erin the bear for Madison to have when she was here - the thinking was that she'd have a toy she was familiar with.

Suddenly we were swamped with Erin the Bears. We got about four of them suddenly, and were certainly ready for Madison with our back-ups! It's a neat bit of history for Madison, and every-so-often we get a picture of her holding the beanie baby on the steps, so we can compare it with the picture from China in 2008. She's grown so much, hasn't she?

Today Mommy was getting ready for the big St. Patrick's Day gathering with family. Madison helped make shamrock cookies - which are always delicious. Also on the menu are Mommy's famous marzipan potatoes. These things look just like potatoes - but they are really marzipan on the outside, rolled around a brownie, rolled over cocoa for a powdery look, with almond slivers placed strategically here and there to resemble the potato's eyes. It looks just like a potato, I promise!

All is ready for the big day tomorrow. As you can imagine, Daddy had a lot of advance work to do in order to be prepared. But he got most of it done so that we can go and have family time tomorrow. It should be loads of fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hampton Park

Today we took time to visit our new library, something we haven't done since the big move. Yep, it took us too long to do this. But now that we know how close and easy it is, and how wonderful the library is, we'll probably be going about twice a month. We used the odometer and measured seven miles to the library, which is pretty close to us. Also, it's a brand new library - only two years old right now. It is so crisp and clean, and bright too. Madison, Daddy and Mommy walked in like those folks that walked into Willie Wonka's place for the first time, eyes wide open and jaws dropped open. There are plenty of nooks for quiet reading, and plenty of places to read with Madison. Also present: activities for the kids. There are readings each Friday, and even movies on Saturdays. This Saturday, for example, they are playing "Darby O'Gill" for the younger kids, and for the older ones: "Green Lantern" and "Green Hornet." Hopefully you've picked up on that theme there.

The library has a whole lot of children's DVDs there. We picked up a few DVDs of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and a few other cartoons for Daddy too! Also there: soundtracks. Daddy found the new Muppets CD, "The Green Album," which is absolutely awesome. Of course, with a title like that, it's just in time for St. Patrick's Day too. But this music collection seriously is great to listen to. They've taken old Muppets songs and put a contemporary twist on them. We've always enjoyed the old songs, so it is great to hear them again.

Yes, obviously we checked out some books too. Madison picked out several books, and also spent some time on the library's computers, engaged in some of the activities while Mommy and Daddy explored the grown-up section of the library somewhat.

Bottom line: it's a great library.

While we were there, it rained really heavily outside. It was one of those really big thunderstorms, but nothing as threatening as the recent one we had the other night. In fact, it was downright pleasant. It just felt like the earth was being replenished all around us, the water just pouring down from the heavens, and the crack of thunder echoing across the land. It was kind of like spring fever, I suppose. The weather was really nice today, even with the rain.

Tonight was another ballet practice again - Madison has been enjoying that. The end of this class promises a recital. That makes two recitals for Madison upcoming, because the other one is Madison playing the piano. We'll be very proud parents at both of those, as already Madison is doing very well with her piano practice. In fact, today she practiced some more. She was anxious to do so, in order to get some more Mombucks. This in turn gave her the license to play some games tonight, which we did: we bowled! Mommy loves this bowling game, as does Daddy now. Madison does a completely wicked knuckleball throw with that bowling ball, putting a ridiculous spin on it. We had a great time doing that and a few other Kinect activities, like boxing. More on that some day later, but for now, just take my word for it: Madison loved boxing!

We had a very nice day today. It was so pleasant to be together throughout. Time to sit down though, and read a nice book to wrap up the day. Daddy's currently working on a Terry Pratchett book. Madison is working on a Rosemary Wells book from the library!

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island..."
- Walt Disney

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Easy as π

Since Daddy writes the curriculum, messages and skits, it stands to reason that if we're having church on π Day, somebody's going to get a pie in the face! Actually, as you can see up there, it's 3 pies in the face. It was a very fun service, and I know the kids learned a lot. We were actually talking about the Full Armor of God, and long-story-short, we showed up here in a humorous way what happens when you don't put on the full armor of God.

At home tonight, Daddy just finished chocolate mousse pie - π Day was a long one, but a good one with lots of pie, of course! Mommy made this delicious pie, and it appears to be all for me! Yummy! Mommy works on all kinds of wonderful surprises for Madison and Daddy all the time. She is such a good Mommy!

Daddy worked most of the day, but did get a few moments to go home and spend time with Mommy and Madison for lunch. Mommy made French Dip, which was perfect as always!

Daddy spent his usual time with Madison in the morning, telling yet another dramatic story involving Indiana Jones and the Easter Bunny - she seems fixated on Easter. Daddy is urging her to take one holiday at a time though! We did see each other on Skype tonight - thank goodness for Skype. It's great to say goodnight from so far away.

It was a good day today, but a busy one as I said earlier. The blessing is that tomorrow will be quite a bit different! Before we leave, here's an article I wrote about π some time ago. Feel free to enjoy it, along with a nice slice of pie!

π in the Bible

“Huram made a huge metal bowl for washing. Its shape was round. It measured 15 feet from rim to rim. It was seven and a half feet high. And it was 45 feet around.” 1 Kings 7:23 NIrV

This is pretty much for math geeks only. Take a look at the scripture above: it is the very first reference in the Bible to π, the number you get when you divide the circumference (the distance around a circle) by the diameter (distance from one side to another).

Some may notice bad math: 45 divided by 15 is 3, and not 3.14. That’s true. But consider this: the metal bowl in the scripture above had very thick sides to it, described as about as wide as someone’s hand. That means this: the inner circumference is different, and much shorter.

And that means if you took the measurement of the inside and divided by the diameter, you really get something like π!

God is into math: there’s even a book of the Bible called “Numbers!” There’s plenty of math in the Bible, from the power of two or more, to the very words Jesus spoke. For example, do you remember the Parable of the Talents? Within this mathematical story, you’ll find a simple formula for life that’s as easy as π!

For example, when we ÷, He can ×. As the servants in the story discovered, when you use the gifts God has given you in the right way, you can count on Him! Be generous! When you divide what you have to help others, God will multiply it, and see you blessed to the greatest power. You must decrease, so He can increase!

God’s math is universal. Have you ever noticed that the addition symbol is the shape of a cross? That’s because God wants to add all of us into heaven with Him. He’s giving us all an opportunity, no matter our past or background. In other words, because of the +, we are all completely =. There is no > love, and we should use what we’ve been given to add to heaven, subtracting from the column of the lost.

So, can He count on you? As each servant discovered, we each serve an audience of 1. When we stand before God, we will stand alone, and are accountable for all the things we have done. Don’t let anyone else keep you from His Great Commission. He’s counting on you to spread the Good news!

In other words, do the math! It's as easy as π!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Kite Flying Story

We had a great time at music class today, where Madison was nailing all the treble clef notes - and the bass ones too. She's doing good with melody, but we have a little work to do on rhythm. School was great today, and we feel like she's really coming along with her speech skills.

Mommy and Daddy were a little worn out still from the weekend I guess, so we popped in "The Jungle Book 2," which concluded our Jungle Book adventure for a bit with Madison. She watched it intently, just proving to me that all those old Disney movies are hitting the nail on the head with her - and she hasn't seen anything yet! We've got this huge library of old Disney movies, and what fun it is to sit together on the couch for movie night.

On the way home from music class, Madison wanted Daddy to tell a made-up story. In my defense, Daddy didn't have any ideas for a story, but Madison really wanted him to tell a story - so here it is. You might find it amusing...

Once upon a time there was a princess named Cinderella, who was looking out her window longingly. It was a spring day and the wind was blowing just right, so she thought it would be delightful to fly a kite. So she made her very own kite herself, and went out to the field behind the castle – and watched her kite fly higher and higher into the sky.

But just then a strong breeze blew. And it blew in such a way that poor Cinderella had released her kite. Fortunately, nearby her were her friends Jaq, Gus, Bruno, Prince Charming, Princess Aurora, Prince Philip, Ariel, Eric, Chip and Dale, Li Shang, Yao, Ling, Chien-Po, Sebastian, Mulan, Pocahontas, Mushu, Captain Jack Sparrow, Angelica, Blackbeard, Count Dooku, Obi Wan Kenobi, Snow White, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Doc, Sleepy, Bashful, Princess Amidala, Dumbo, Bambi, Davy Jones, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jesse, Flounder, Mowgli, Asajj Ventress, Nemo, Dory, Marlin, the Joker, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, PigPen, Franklin, Peppermint Patty, Marcy, Indiana Jones, Marion, Batman, Robin, Kermit the Frog, Uncle Sam, Catwoman, Handy Manny and his tools, MSE-6, Mr. Freeze, Baloo, The Penguin, Bagheera, R2-D2, C3PO, Pocoyo, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Clarabelle, Kai-Lan, Dora, Abraham Lincoln, Diego, Hoho, Plo Koon, Ye Ye, Rintoo, Tolee, Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Incredible, Clara, the Nutcracker, the Rat King, Gambit, Ebenezer Scrooge, Anikan Skywalker, Snoopy, Woodstock, Miss Piggy, Hello Kitty, Chun Li, The Three Little Pigs, Bob the Tomato, Chicken Little, Bolt, Storm, Darth Vader, Emperor Zurg, Archimedes the Owl, King Arthur, The Killer Moth, Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, John, Mr. T, Captain Hook, Ronald McDonald, Jean Grey, Bruce the Shark, The Easter Bunny, Barney, Admiral Ackbar, Mr. Smee, Cruella DeVille, Tron, Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick, Nute Gunray, Aladdin, Willy Wonka, Jasmine, Pinocchio, Geenie, Iago, Carpet, Abu, Belle, Beast, Lumiere, Wolverine, Cogsworth, Grimace, Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, IG-88, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Louis the Alligator, Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Pascal, Cookie Monster, Maximus, Cyclops, Sasquatch, Mike Wazowski, Sully, Pete, Simba, Timon, George Washington, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Robin Hood, The Great Mouse Detective, Stitch, Lilo, Wall-E, The Mad Hatter, Alice, Absolem, Jafar, Captain Barbossa, Jubilee, Bert, Ernie, Short Round, Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Dr. Heinz Doofensmirtz, Lucky the Leprechaun, Barbie, Superman, Perry the Platypus, Elizabeth Swann, Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie, The Mayor, Santa Claus, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Dasher, Bugs Bunny, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Grover, Darth Vader, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Vixen, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Sam the Snowman, Rowlf the Dog, Frosty the Snowman, Big Bird, Princess Leia, Count Chocula, Strawberry Shortcake, The Count, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, June, Leo, Quincy, Annie, Rocket, Daffy Duck, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Moses, Daniel, Yoda, Abraham, Peter, Bob Cratchit, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Esther, Nana, Ba-Ba, Ye-Ye, Hannah, David, Jonathan, Rachel, Abbie, Josh, Halston, Ashley, Jill, the Cabbage Patch Kids, Aunt Shain, Uncle Dave, Mommy, Daddy, and of course Jesus too.

They got the kite for her, and everyone had a great time flying kites.

The End