Monday, April 30, 2012

Practicing for the Recital

Josh took this photo of Madison playing keyboard, practicing for the upcoming piano recital.  As you can see, she's using both hands on the keys now, something that Mommy and Daddy have to practice on as well in order to keep up with her.  It seriously won't be too long until Madison will be ahead of us with her skills.  Daddy wants to learn a little too, so he's been practicing on the side - maybe we'll learn together at this rate.  Madison is getting better and better though:  practice truly does make perfect.  And although she isn't perfect yet, she is getting better and better each time she plays.  In just a short time, she'll be performing at a recital, playing for everyone the song "Mr. Snail."  It's a simple song, but it requires the use of two hands, which is something we were wanting Madison to focus more and more on.  You know we'll be taking all sorts of pictures and maybe some video of the big event, so look for it here pretty soon.  Madison enjoys playing the piano, and loves her classes.  A good teacher makes all the difference, and in this case, Mrs. Pam is an excellent teacher, filled with patience and the ability to keep things moving along.  We've been very pleased!

Here's another photo taken by Josh.  Everyone came over to the house to do some filming for the upcoming Summer Xtreme camp.  Madison is shown here, playing with Fifi, a little kitten owned by the nefarious villain in our movie series.  As mentioned earlier, everything is going to be in 3D, so we've actually done some 3D filming at our house:  the opening scene shows our main characters watching television - our television - when they are suddenly sucked into the screen and suddenly a part of the different shows on the screen (like "Jurassic Park" and "Phineas and Ferb").  Madison was helpful during the filming - she's not in any of the shoots yet, but maybe she'll show up eventually.

Our old friend Alan showed up today to check on Daddy, which was rather nice of him.  Alan couldn't drop by at the hospital, as he was away in Los Angeles on a small vacation, so he made the extra effort of showing up today at the house and spending some time with us.  It was good to simply sit and talk with him.  Daddy didn't have much energy, but it was nice just sitting on the couch and talking about the old and new.

Eventually everyone left, and that's pretty much when Daddy collapsed!  So tired, he sat down to take a brief nap, and didn't wake up again until the next morning!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kindergarten Safari

Daddy finally got to see Madison again, and what a sweet reunion it was.  Daddy has been longing to be home again, and longing to see Madison.  This has been the longest we've been apart, nearly a week's time.  There are so many little things you miss. And big things too.  Speaking of missing something, tonight was another big event at Madison's new kindergarten school:

Kindergarten Safari!  Daddy didn't get to attend tonight, as his recent health problems prohibited me from things like basic movement.  This was a shame, because he really wanted to go!

At least Mommy was there. She and Madison went to a kindergarten orientation of sorts, located at her new school just down the road from us.  Madison had a great time - she created the artwork you see above.  She met new friends and teachers, and Mommy got to learn a little about the new school we'll be sending Madison to.

They're trying a new thing by allowing handheld iPads and computers, which we're entirely in support of.  Sure, games and things like that can get you off track.  But this next generation had better be able to deal with this sort of technology, and not be that behind.  At least not as behind as Mommy and Daddy currently feel!

Daddy is home again.  The total stay in the hospital was six days.  Again, I had never stayed in a hospital before - at least not for anything related to my health.  Now, all of the sudden I'm there for six days?  That was a serious setback.  The prescription from this point on is to watch what I eat - the quantity that is.  It seems that eating a little too much causes severe pain in... wait for it... my shoulder.  Don't ask me why sharp pains persist in my shoulder after eating.  That's one of those mysteries of the human body!

The other thing needed is lots of rest.  Despite this, Daddy plans on going in to work and taking it easy.  I've been restless, sitting and doing nothing.  But that's just the way it's supposed to be, I think.  We're supposed to stop thinking, stop moving, stop doing.  The body needs time to heal, and hopefully I can give it that.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Pancreas

So, perhaps it is time to learn about what a pancreas actually is - as this one inside me has been begging for attention lately.  Weird Al released a song only recently about the Pancreas, called oddly enough, "Pancreas."  It's been stuck in my head all week, for obvious reasons.  Here are just a few of the lyrics, which also serve as fun facts about the pancreas:

"My pancreas attracts every other pancreas in the universe
with a force proportional 
to the product of their masses
and inversely proportional
to the distance between them." 

Okay, so perhaps that isn't exactly scientifically solid, but the rest of the song does have some fun facts about the pancreas which happen to be true.  But here's a more "official" entry on the subject:

The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates.  It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, and a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of the nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine.  These enzymes help to further break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in the chyme.

I can see a couple of pretty important things in there.  Here's a fun fact:  when I eat, it hurts the back of my left shoulder blade.  This has something to do with the pancreas becoming activated, although I'm not entirely sure why.  That was one of the mysteries of my illness - why was my entire framework rattled so?  It felt like my ribcage was doing all it could to stay together at one point, and that muscles were locking down, trying to hold everything in one piece.

They did a good job, obviously, because I'm still here.  God designed these bodies pretty well, you have to admit.  It's too bad we live in such a fallen world.

I should be out of the hospital soon, which will be a happy day of course.  Reunited with Madison!

Class of 2025

As stated earlier, life does go on outside of the hospital - although you wouldn't know it at first by the look of things.  Case in point:  I had no idea the temperature had dropped to the freezing point outside.  Literally, huge snowstorms further up north, and down here, falling temperatures that endangered our crops.  Mommy covered up our small garden, and says it looks like it survived the drop well enough - how funny that we just planted this last week?

Today we got Madison's graduation pictures back, and they look absolutely wonderful.  We made a lot of copies, including the 8X10 that Daddy scanned here for you to see.  Look how grown-up she appears here!  I'll hold back all criticisms of the photography studio in this entry because this one picture simply amazes me.  Want to hear another amazing thing?  "Look out world, here comes the Class of 2025!"  That's right, Madison is a part of the Class of 2025, registered to start kindergarten next year - and already learning from her rubric.  Mommy and Daddy take that stuff seriously!

Madison and Daddy have been talking on the phone, but this has been the longest we've been apart - ever.  That's kind of depressing, and even more depressing is that I can't do any sort of horseplay with her when I get out.  No Daddy-back rides or tackles or any such thing.

Madison's graduation walk is scheduled for next Sunday after church, and Daddy should be well enough to attend that one.  I'd be in a wheelchair if I needed one though:  that's something I don't want to miss.  The recitals are coming up too, which are also not to miss.  There's so much going on that first week of May - it's crazy!

At 10:00 pm, and completely unexpected, they took me downstairs for yet another CT Scan.  This time it was the lungs and arteries around that area.  As mentioned earlier, it's been difficult to breath, so the assumption was that they were looking into that.  But there hasn't been any communication from the doctor that said, "Hey, this is why we're doing this or that."  Also, lots of blood samples drawn.  My poor arm looks like a pin cushion!  I could easily play a drug user in some video, and we wouldn't need any special make-up.

Hospital hours keep you up at all times pretty much.  This is first time Daddy has ever spent the night in a hospital, and it has turned into six days here.  It's almost like a vacation.  Minus the fun part.  Although visitors and family help out a lot in that department.  There have been a steady stream of visitors to cheer me up, for which I am very grateful.  And always there is Mommy, faithfully seeing to my needs better than any nurse.

Although I must say that the staff here has been very quick to help me out.  I'm not a fussy sort when it comes to customer service - although I do want that pain medication pretty quick!  In any event, we've had a lot of favor here for the most part, with a great staff that goes out of their way to make sure that I've been as comfortable as I could be, all things considered.

I'm on the fifth floor, looking out the window.  Waiting to get out.  No matter how many books or movies you get, there's still a lot of restlessness inside screaming, "Get me out of here!"  I took a walk or two today (making sure the hospital gown was tied well in the back!).  It's amazing how that depletes your energy though.  Still, it was good to be up and about.  Cannot wait to have the IV not in my arm anymore!

Hospital Party

Here's a picture of Daddy, nice and warm inside some hospital blankets.  The hospital is generally a cold place, which we understand completely.  It's so great to have those microwaved blankets put over you!  Note the oxygen tube - that's a first for Daddy.  Like I said, it sort of gets on your nerves pretty quick.  I'd say about day two.

Fortunately, there are good friends to drop by.

Here are just a few, which lifted Daddy's spirits immensely.  Daddy is eating green jello after a couple days of not eating anything at all, and believe me, that tastes like steak when you first get to have something of flavor in your mouth.  Previous to this, there were ice chips:  again, I was not permitted to eat or drink anything, so the ice chips were heavenly to me.  I had this big bag of them and was munching on them like they were popcorn.  Previous to that, there were the green mint sponges.  These are interesting, as I'd never seen these before.  They are green mint sponges on a stick.  You dip them in ice chips, and then put them to your teeth, sort of freshening things up a bit.  Again, the previous experience with any food or drink intake was zero, so these green mint sponges were treated like holy ice cream.

Notice the balloons above: everyone decorated their own balloons to take along.  One guy brought a Snickers bar, which I'll hopefully someday get to actually eat.  One friend heard about the possibility of a scorpion bite, so he brought one of those old lollipops with a scorpion inside it.  And then there was an old friend of mine, stopping by - with a can of Spam.

We tried to keep the atmosphere festive, although I do wish I had something to play music with me in retrospect.  Still, Daddy was watching old episodes of "Batman" and reading Terry Pratchett and generally relaxing as he could.

Other times were not quite as relaxing.  The pain medication - and this is a first - was causing hallucinations.  Nothing like you'd see on television, but I was interacting with the IV Tower at one point, which was serving as some sort of evil influence in my life, holding me down and telling me not to worry about things as it continued to torment me with unpleasant images and thoughts.  It was a long struggle, but I managed to bolt upright and announce, "Enough!  I don't want this."

I turned the lights on, and seemed to have won the battle.  But ever since then, it's been a somewhat unusual battle with drugs.  Daddy has no experience with them outside of the morphine given back when he first had kidney stones so long ago.  But something seems different about the drugs this time.  This new one was called dilaudid, and I'm a little wary of it.  It didn't even completely kill the pain:  nothing ever did, actually.  But they all did lessen it to a point where I could manage.

Mommy has been by every day of course, each time leaving Madison with Nana and Ye Ye.  It's always so good to see Mommy, and Daddy is always so grateful.  She's got so much to deal with, and on top of this, she's having to deal with Daddy being hospitalized.  No fun!  Sometimes she would come by, and the two of us would sit there in the room and simply fall asleep, she in her chair and I in the gurney.

Next week, we'll be back in the master bedroom...


Well, everyone got the diagnosis wrong, which is something we're slightly accustomed to.  Daddy spent most of Sunday at home in pain, living off of Mommy's old medication to keep him stable.  Surely this would pass soon.  The idea was to make it to Monday when we could see a specialist or anybody.

Mommy asked if she could go out and get the prescription for Daddy at about 5:00 pm, which seemed fine at the moment.  And yet, that's when the biggest pain of Daddy's life hit - the official "10 out of 10," which I'd rather not ever relive again to be honest.  He called Mommy, he called Nana and Ye-Ye, he called the church - he was all alone with Madison in the house.  Oh, Madison.  I'm so glad I was upstairs and you were not witnessing anything.

But she did get to see something:  an ambulance and fire truck arrived at the house.  There was a knock on the door, and Madison carefully stepped towards the door, not sure who it was.  Fortunately, Daddy was halfway down the stairs, letting her know it was okay.  That's when she opened the door for men to come in and assist.  

Mommy was on her way home from Gainesville, and called 9-1-1 on her phone.  The guys actually beat her to the house, which was amazing.  

This was Daddy's first ride in an ambulance in quite some time (last time was in 1988).  I kept thinking back to Madison, and how it all must appeared to her.  Ye Ye and Nana had arrived quickly and told us that Madison was doing just fine, actually.  

We pass by the hospital every day to go to ballet practice.  Just last week, if you can believe this, Daddy went on to explain the hospital to Madison and what it was for, and how ambulances help sick people get there quickly.

Daddy got to the hospital quickly.  Mommy was with me this time, along with Chris, who heard about everything on Facebook and joined us.  This time, the social network was chattering with news of my predicament - it spread, and soon everyone was wanting to know what it was that had brought me back to the hospital.

It took more tests, and more time.  But at least I had more painkillers, and loved ones nearby.  The answer was pancreatitis.  This is a nasty little monster with one clear way of getting better:  no eating or drinking, and just sitting here in the hospital for days and resting.  An IV was hooked up for fluids, and that was that "what it is and what to do about it" side of things.  But where did it come from?

Here's Daddy, savoring that orange tracer drink shortly before a CT Scan.  You have to drink two bottles of this stuff in an hour, which seems like an easier task at first.  Unfortunately, every time I tried to drink it would trigger pain from the pancreas, so things were more of a battle than I'd hoped.  Through the week, I had many tests to determine what caused the pancreatitis.  The big cause is excessive drinking of alcohol, which led to frequent exchanges:

"Do you drink?"


"Not at all."


"Not even a few drinks?"


Each day, we'd have this conversation about three times with different doctors or nurses.  The other possibility of a cause was a gallstone, which led the team at the hospital on a holy quest, using three CT scans, one MRI, two X-Rays and one ultra-sound.  They could not find anything though.

Finally, an Asian doctor appeared once.  We never saw her again, but she suggested it could have been a spider bite, or a scorpion bite.  Very interesting!  We have been out in the garden frequently.  Perhaps this is what happened?  But how come I never noticed the bite?

Through the week, it was a quest for an answer, but no doctor or nurse could find that solution.  We just chalked it up to heredity (Mommy just last week discovered that my great-grandmother passed away from complications with pancreas), and we're leaving it at that.

So the prescription was rest - and no eating.  Believe it or not, the "no eating" part was remarkably simple.  Daddy had no appetite whatsoever.  Mommy made the wise decision to not have Madison by, where she could see Daddy in his less-than-superhero like state, but we did talk on the phone quite a bit.  Daddy is short of breath - another symptom.  They give you an oxygen tube to assist, which blows oxygen up your nose, and basically works to create these super boogers that lurk and block and before you know it you've got another symptom to deal with, but that's not the biggest symptom of being in the hospital by far.  No, the biggest one is boredom.

Fortunately, Mommy brought books and DVDs for Daddy to watch, which he actually got through quite quickly.  There is never anything on daytime television, which is sort of a fact.

The IV tower beside me may have been a friend, but was also an enemy:  the wires would kink up, and the thing would blare out noisily and you'd have to fumble to find the restart switch.  It sounded like nurses and patients were struggling with this all the way down the hall!

And now... a few words from Madison:

NMJIOP    MNBV       NMV               VVBHYTUHJ                                BNMK                     JKLO
12345678910               ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Here things get difficult.  The blog will have a tough time keeping up with the timeline for about a week, as the author apparently needs to take a week off!  So, therefore much of the info is catching up a week later.  Still, it's hard to forget the first day it all started happening:  Daddy was hospitalized.

For the record, the photo above is a joke.  One of Daddy's friends, Chris, works at the hospital, and was waiting with him that initial day for a diagnosis and more.  While waiting, we were goofing off a tiny bit - in fact, here's another photo of Josh, Daddy and Chris, each in matching wheelchairs.

I'd like to say we were about to have wheelchair races.  But alas, we weren't having that much fun.

It all started out with the filming.  We were filming for Summer Xtreme at our house, when suddenly Daddy turned pale white - or so they say.  It felt as if there was an explosion of poison in my abdomen, which I clutched.  I immediately had to sit down.  It was such a blessing to have Chris there, who knew immediately that I should go to the hospital.  Here were go - Daddy hadn't been to the hospital for himself in about ten years or so, and that was kidney stones.  But this didn't feel like kidney stones.  It felt.... worse.

We waited for hours in the emergency room, and those fellas above waited the whole time.  Ye Ye quickly joined us, and together we made the best of the situation.  The social network being what it is, the photos above were sent with a message about Daddy being in the hospital - and nobody believed he was actually sick!  Not yet anyway.

Mommy was having tummy trouble of her own, and additionally needed to watch over Madison.  We kept her up to date as we found out anything, which unfortunately took a long time.

Kidney stones and appendicitis were ruled out.  Can you guess what it is?

Well, neither could the doctors!  Daddy had a lot of morphine in him, and was feeling significantly better, and as the doctors couldn't locate any exact cause, we went home late in the night.  It must have just been some terrible gas or a stomach flu, right?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Madison the Chipmunk

We just watched "Alvin and the Chipmunks:  Chipwrecked," and Madison really enjoyed it!  It was actually a tiny bit research for us, as we're doing a "castaway" type of series at church coming soon.  Coincidentally, this movie was just released on DVD/Blu Ray last month.  So we watched with Madison, and actually all three of us rather enjoyed it.  I mean to say it isn't anything epic or grand in scale, but for what it is, the three of us enjoyed a family movie together with popcorn.  The last twenty minutes or so, Madison was quietly and intently watching, wanting to make sure everyone escaped the island.  Did they?  Well, you'll have to watch that for yourself.  

And while you're watching things, check out the movie above.  This was made on the website that promotes the movie itself.  There is a feature where Madison gets to design her own chipmunk, so she chose the shirt, skirt, shoes, face, eyes, hair and so on.  And then she chose the backdrop.  For some reason, despite it being April here, she chose a Christmas backdrop.  It might be because of the chilly weather we've had of late.  Finally, and this is the best part, she provided the voice.  Basically, we recorded her voice on the spot, and the site does this neat thing where it turns her voice into that of a chipmunk.  She watched her new creation talk back to her, and we all laughed.  It's pretty cute!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Garden Dreams

As you can see here, we've got our plot of garden started.  If I had time, I'd insert a Harvest Moon character in the photo for fun.  This was rather simple to put together - it just took a bit of time to get all the dirt, and then the plants themselves.  Along the top of the photo are tomatoes, which I can't wait for Madison to try when they get nice and big.  The weather has been so nice outside, and we've enjoyed working outside getting things ready around the house.  The goal is to have the sides clear and covered with mulch where needed, and eventually go from there too.  Other goals were the bat house and this garden as well.  The back deck is also another huge dream of ours.  We've been trying to get that okay for quite some time.  Still, it's just a little bit of work every day and we'll be there soon enough.  It's still good to stop and smell the flowers:  literally. We have a large rose bush at the base of the steps of the back deck, one covered with beautiful flowers on it.  Mommy picked a few, and has them in water now, a nice little presentation.  In fact, Mommy made a similar one for someone's birthday recently at church.  It came out nice - hey, we can be our own florist!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Almost There

Almost there! No, Madison, the blueberries aren't ready yet! You can see her here checking them out, and she knows they'll be good blueberries pretty soon. She loves to eat blueberries, and it is so amazing to Daddy that we actually found some blueberry bushes on our property. We had no idea all this time that they were there, until recently when we were doing some clearing on the one side of the house. There they were, two of these plants, each bearing all kinds of good fruit. You can almost taste 'em, can't you? Well, we'll all have to be a little more patient, because we're...

Almost there! Today Daddy got the soil for the tomato garden, which is now all set up and filled with good dirt. Tomorrow, hopefully, Mommy will be able to get some tomato plants, and we'll see our investment towards a mini-garden start to pay off. We'll be recreating Harvest Moon 64 in our back yard - I can almost hear that soundtrack playing now! Some time soon I'll have to plug that in for Madison to look at. Right now we're still on the Gamecube, but soon it will be time for the N64 again. Can't wait to see those old games! We're...

Almost there! The ballet recital is coming up soon. We had ballet tonight again, which was fun as always. In just a few weeks we'll have another ballet recital, towards the mid-part of May. On the way home, we stopped by Nana and Ye-Ye's house to visit for a bit, which Madison enjoyed very much of course. Everyone was playing around and having a good time, which was good for Madison. She loves her grandparents, but it was getting late - so we had to turn in for the night pretty soon. Fortunately, we live pretty close and were...

Almost there! We got Princess Tiana's theme song today at the library - along with a few other princess songs as well. We picked up a whole bunch of sight word books, including a few "Dick and Jane" books. Talk about classics! Madison loves the library, where she was playing on computer games today with a newfound friend. The two were giggling pretty loudly in the library, but nobody seemed to mind. In fact, everyone thought it was cute. But soon it was time to go home, so we hopped in the car and were...

Almost there! That's an "easy" one for Madison. Explanation: we've been playing a lot of "guess that music" on our drive to school, or ballet or anywhere. We each take turns singing songs, and trying to guess what that music is from. Madison's point system is hilarious - for example, today Daddy was awarded 4 blue points, which actually was a tie score with Madison's 3 red points (apparently higher in value per point). The object is to get ten in a row, which you can usually achieve by guessing only three songs, or not guessing them at all. It's completely random, actually. Daddy does his best to stump Madison, but she can be pretty quick. She recognizes that tune from Princess Tiana, but can also recognize pretty much every other princess tune as well - although we have yet to introduce her to Princess Giselle. One movie at a time - we'll get there soon enough, and we're...

Almost there! We got some confirmations today about things turning around in certain areas, and the word "vindication" is there too. We'll see how it all turns out, but the words "almost there" seem to fit pretty well!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Carnival of the Animals

Mommy is helping out with the upcoming musical recital that Madison is a part of, which as the theme: "The Carnival of the Animals." We had a few old costumes to show, so Mommy dressed Madison up in a few of them, and we sent the photos to her music teacher. Some of them are so cute though, that we had to post them here. And now we present... Madison's "Carnival of the Animals."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Silly Putty

It's official: we've now tried the time-honored tradition of using Silly Putty on a newspaper. On Easter, one of the eggs that Madison found in her basket was one filled with Silly Putty. Few people realize that silly putty really comes from eggs. It is a little known fact that a very rare Argentinian bird, the Petrochilidon Silliputusargentinius, is the big reason why we enjoy Silly Putty to this day. Shortly after this amazing discovery in the 1940's, agile Argentinian youth were employed to scale towering truffula trees in order to scour nests for eggs. Naturally, with the boom of popularity in the product, the bird population found itself on the endangered species list. This led to an outcry to protect the bird, which of course is the national bird of Argentina. Yet, despite the protests, the "harvesting" of silly putty eggs continued unabashed. Money was a far greater power during these times, which just goes to show you how much things have changed. Fortunately, a young woman named Eva PerĂ³n arose from seemingly nowhere, and used the Petrochilidon Silliputusargentinius as a campaign issue during her election. Patriotism stirred, and the citizens of the land overwhelmingly elected her because of her daring ideas for change. It was because of her that the vast ranches were set up, where rancheros could breed and harvest literally millions more Silly Putty eggs per year. They stand there to this day, a testament to the people there, and the leadership of the woman they knew as Evita. Andrew Lloyd Weber was so moved by the story, he wrote a play about her. He just left the Silly Putty part out.
Here is Madison, using
some of this Silly Putty today, completely unaware of the amazing history behind this product. In the old days when Mommy and Daddy were younger (which was about ten years ago), we used to take Silly Putty and push it down onto the comics section of a newspaper. We'd press it down as flat as it could, and when we lifted it, we could see the mirror image of the comics right there on the Silly Putty. Remembering how great this was, we set out to reproduce this amazing feeling with Madison. Yes, as you can see above, she's stunned! But seriously, here's the final product below, after Madison applies the necessary amount of force (100 standard Newtons), after she's eaten the necessary amount of sugar to apply such force (100 standard Fig Newtons).

Eureka! Success! She's smiling brightly, because you can see some random comic character actually on the Silly Putty. Such joy in scientific discovery! But in our day, things were so much better. Of course, in all things, in our day things were so much better in general. Even if they weren't. But seriously, with Silly Putty, it used to be a whole lot better for sure. Now don't blame the Silly Putty. It's actually the ink they use on newspapers - it used to be when you pressed Silly Putty down onto a comic*, you got a lot of that ink on your Silly Putty. It was like you actually had Garfield printed on your Silly Putty. These days, you can't do that so much any more. It is my personal belief that this singular issue is why Silly Putty is not as popular as it used to be. Which is yet another reason to blame newspaper people. Stupid decisions by newspapers! I mean, think of all those Argentinian Silly Putty Harvesters?

* We stopped calling this section of the paper "funnies" a long time ago, as they stopped being "funny" a long time ago. Frankly, I was surprised to see a comic section in the newspaper after all these years. I figured it went the way of Saturday morning cartoons. I remember growing up, we'd race to the comics, wanting to check out "Calvin & Hobbes," "Garfield," "The Far Side," and my personal favorite, "Bloom County."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bat House

So we finally got around to painting our bat house today, and although we didn't necessarily need to paint it, Daddy was inspired by Madison's recent attraction to all things Batman. So he got out the black and yellow paint and went to work. Holy bat houses, Madison! It didn't turn out that bad - in fact, it looks pretty good. Check it out:

Also, check out where we put it up. That's the tricky part. Daddy borrowed Ye-Ye's really tall ladder, because these bat houses have to go pretty high up. With some help from Mommy and Madison, we got the new bat residence hanging pretty high up on the side of the house, following the specific requirements set down by people who know a lot more about bats than we do. Here's a photo of it, hanging up:

Of course, we don't expect bats to move in there tonight. But there will be a neat moment some time in the future where it will happen, and of course we'll keep you posted here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rhythm Nation

Okay, so today we got more into the rhythm, which is ironic in light of what we were just talking about yesterday as a joke. On stage at KidPak, we had a smaller percussion instrument set up on the stage, one that an actor was having a good time playing. Here you can see it, and you can see another actress showing Madison exactly how to play it. Simple concept: just hit it with your hands. The thing is hollow, so it resonates. Additionally, it is designed to be seated on, so the musician has a seat and an instrument all in one. Of course, in this case, Madison was happy to stand simply next to it in order to play the thing.
In any event,that's the point
where Madison starts to do just that - and she hits it pretty hard, resulting in a larger boom. In fact, it was a much bigger boom than she could have imagined because the sound team had it plugged into a microphone, and suddenly there was a really big BOOOOOM. You can see her reaction in this other photo - she was loving it. She hit the box again and again, and each time had the same reaction. It was a lot of fun today - a nice, relaxing service where we reenacted the scene at the Red Sea. We used a huge blue drop cloth and made it fun for everyone with goofy lines and dialogue. Everyone had a great time today as we continued Exodus - here are just a few more photos of Madison on the set, and with today's cast:

We spent the day today over at the old house, fixing it up in order to make it more appealing. Still trying to sell it, we spent pretty much the entire day there with mulch, pea-sized rocks, flowers, a blower, hedge trimmers and all sorts of implements of destruction. Madison was quite helpful, filling up her water can and going to the new plants to water each one. Later on though, she went to Nana and Ye-Ye's for some fun, and even some chalk art!

Looks great, doesn't it? It was a long and tiring day, yet another one. At least the old house looks good again. Tomorrow doesn't promise much in the way of rest, but at least we all get to sleep in a bit. In fact... zzzzzzzz....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Neighborhood Yard Sale

We haven't done too bad at the yard sale, actually. We were up very early this morning- except Madison of course. But even she trudged downstairs and joined us in the garage, and ate some Fruit Loops and a juice box as we sat and watched the people visit with us. There were a lot of people here - the early bird gets the worm, and in fact this morning there were a lot of early birds zooming through the neighborhood at top speeds, whizzing through to find some piece of furniture that they could haggle for and resell later at a greater price. Others were the more recreational types, who enjoy looking around at yard sales and picking things up that look interesting. We met plenty of the latter, which turned out to be a pleasant experience. Madison loves meeting new people - she was like an aggressive sales person herself, running out to meet each new prospective customer. It was fun, and ultimate pretty astonishing. Daddy got rid of all of his VHS tapes when he didn't think anyone would ever want them - or pay for them, for that matter. We also got rid of some of those funny items that you get for Christmas that nobody would ever want? I thought for sure that I'd never see those get sold, and yet sure enough, they were all bought up. There was just a huge, steady stream of traffic, and it seems like there were different types of people for the different types of items in our yard sale. Daddy drove up and down the neighborhood at one point, and sure enough: there were many other houses set up just as ours was. Only perhaps ours was neater: Mommy got a few compliments on how organized things were. Anyway, it was a great experience. Next year, we'll be wiser and more enterprising I think. Perhaps we'll have Madison selling lemonade or something. Unless the Midway, Georgia police come to visit, that is.

The rest of the day was a bit work-related, which roughly translated means dull. However, we did manage to find time to watch a movie tonight: that's all we had the energy for, actually. Daddy put in "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo," which turns out to be the first Herbie movie Madison has watched now. For the record, she enjoyed it a lot, squealing at the end when Herbie does another one of his "silly" tricks. We use the word silly because Madison used it a lot at the end of the movie. Not that "silly" is bad though. It's good. We all sat together tonight, munching popcorn and getting a little rest. Rest is good too.

It'll be an early night tonight, mainly because it was an early day this morning. Tomorrow, we hope to be a little more ambitious with the day (after church, of course). Daddy has a tomato garden to set up, and plus there's more mulch to get and spread. Also, paint the bat house and put it up on the side of the house. Ye-Ye and Nana came over with a huge ladder, so Daddy should be able to get the thing up on the side of the house now - just don't look down!

Another thing we need to do is music practice. She's got the notes down pretty good, but the one area we need to work on a bit
more is rhythm.
This is why for vacation this year, we're thinking about visiting the Rhythm Nation. It's a popular tourist destination, especially for those of us who don't have too much rhythm to begin with. We figure Madison could learn a thing or two from the people there. First of all, before we travel, we have to find ourselves each some nifty black uniforms, complete with those cool black hats that have "1814" on them. Then I guess we just sort of go and find some of the people that live there and do what they do: which is long, complicated militaristic dance moves. Sure, the place is a little drab and entirely in black and white, but by the time we leave, I'm sure we'll all have a tiny bit more rhythm, right? A perfect vacation!

"We are a part of the Rhythm Nation."
- Janet Jackson

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Love You, My Bunnies

For the last two weeks - we've been in Ponyville. For those of you who may not know this, Ponyville is the home to all sorts of ponies that make up what is known as "My Little Pony." This is an equestrian empire mixed with sugar and everything nice, with rainbows and unicorns and lots of sweetness thrown in for good measure. It's not quite at Lisa Frank levels, but it's pretty close. This isn't a show for guys, that's for sure. Still, there's something fun about it, and Mommy and Daddy have enjoyed a few episodes with Madison, who personally wouldn't mind if this show was on 24/7.

Madison has plenty of My Little Pony characters and outfits, thanks to a recent trip to Disney World. A My Little Pony station gave us an opportunity to collect pretty much all we need to keep Madison happy for a while with her pony collection. You could imagine with this theme going on lately, she'll want to pull those out again. Yes, we'll take pictures!

Today was a momentous day in an unusual way: Madison read her first sentence. We're doing sight words again, so one of the books Daddy got from the library was a good opportunity for Madison to read word-by-word it's simple title. Here it is: "I Love You, My Bunnies." It's a Disney book about Thumper and his sisters, who all want to get their mother a special basket. It's a simple book with nice artwork inside, but it is the cover that will forever be significant. Madison reads the title, word by word: "I Love You, My Bunnies."

Daddy even points to the words out of order, and she'll call out each one. Even the word "Bunnies." It's just one of those neat moments as a parent when you see things start to click.

Not so neat have been a few bloody noses. Last night, just past midnight, Madison woke us up, having run into the room with tissues and crying. It's a terrible way to wake up - our daughter crying and bleeding like that. It was easy to calm her down - at least nothing was hurting. It is just an unpleasant sort of thing, and of course messy. The amazing thing is that Madison was able to keep everything pretty much clean. This to me was incredible.

Earlier in the day, she had another bloody nose, this one much more epic. It's been a long time since she's experienced that, and for the time being we're chalking it up to the intense pollen counts in the area, and her allergies she seems to struggle with. The rain, when it comes, has been a blessing. We're waiting for more storms to head this way actually. We hear about them in Texas, and know they'll be here soon. One in Texas recently was pretty amazing - a hail storm that made the landscape look like winter. Cars and people moving about in drifts of hail over a foot deep. Simply incredible imagery!

Nothing like that here, although we've had a few hailstorms in the last few weeks. That's another one of those things that happens this time of year. What usually doesn't happen this time of year is the cold! We're all struggling to get up each morning because it has been so remarkably cold lately. Down to the thirties? Seriously? Yes, and we've been having to pull out our jackets again so we can go out each morning a little warmer. Madison holds close to us when she's outside, and we try to go from car to indoors as quickly as possible.

By the way, just in case you need an update, the gypsy moth caterpillars are doing fine. We have four cocoons right now, and the five remaining ones are doing their best impression of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Daddy has been putting fresh leaves in their habitat, and they've been doing some serious munching. We'll keep you posted on when the cocoons start doing something new!

Finally, tomorrow is the big day! Okay, it isn't a huge day, but the morning could be interesting at least. Our annual neighborhood yard sale begins at 8:00 am, and Mommy has been putting everything in order in the garage, moving things about and pricing things as well. We'll be up early to set it out, despite the cold, because you just never know who'll be attracted to a sizable yard sale like this. It isn't quite the "longest yard sale in the world," but hopefully there'll be enough people in the neighborhood with stuff set out. It just might be fun. We've got three chairs set up, two big ones and a smaller one for Madison.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Herbie in the Garage

Before there was Ochocinco, there was simply "Ocho." If you've seen "Herbie Goes Bananas," you know that the Love Bug himself went by the name "Ocho" for a while, as he spent a good deal of time south of the border. Now, we're happy to have him right here with us in our garage, and from the look of things, he seems content to be there too. His smile might be because Madison says hello to him each time she passes by, occasionally patting him on the fender.

As mentioned previous on this blog, we're big Herbie fans in the house, although Madison has yet to see any of the movies yet. We've been waiting a bit, as she seems to be into other things at the moment - like ponies and princesses. But soon we'll all sit down and have a big marathon of Herbie movies - there are six of them, and I think a television show from 1982 which we haven't seen yet. It stands to reason that if I ever had an opportunity to own a Herbie car, it would happen!

Today was a big day at the old house - we spent a good time fixing things up, and Madison spent a good time with Nana, just hanging out and playing. We did a lot of good things today at the house, and even got some stuff done at the new house too. It was a large work day, capped off by some time at ballet class, which was nice as always. It was our first day back to see ballet class, and Madison really enjoyed herself with all the other kids. Until someone pulled the fire alarm. But things got back in order really quick. Still, it was funny how everyone lined up to go outside - all the ballerinas in a row, hands above their heads and walking on their toes. So tonight we learned that in an emergency, you've got to walk out in an orderly fashion. And on point.

Well, it's time for bed. Time to check on Madison upstairs - and time to check on Herbie in the garage!

"Hey, he's a cute little fellow."
- Tennessee Steinmetz

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Do you have any idea what a troodon is? Until this morning, I hadn't. But thanks to Madison's preschool, I'm an expert on troodons. You're looking at one above. It's like a compy, but different. The thing about these dinosaurs is they keep coming up with new ones, or new names for the same ones maybe? For example, there's the brontosaurus. That's what we knew growing up. Sure, there was the brachiosaurus, which had the variation with the nose on the top of the skull thingy. And then there was the diplodocus, and then an apatosaurus (which, apparently was the brontosaurus all along). And there's also a camarasaurus, which sort of looks like an apatosaurus, or a diplodocus (with a bit of brontosaurus thrown in for good measure). Add to the list the rapetosaurus, which looks pretty much like all of the above (or possibly a cetiosaurus). And don't forget the seismosaurus. That's like all of those above, only larger. Kind of like a titanosaurus. Okay, I seem to be going on and on here. The point is, they all look pretty much exactly the same.

That's my theory, a theory which is mine. In my day, we just had a brontosaurus. That's the thing that is thin at one end; much, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. But only recently, we learned that there is no such thing as a brontosaurus, despite being taught that in schools, books and museums. Nobody bothered to tell me we're not supposed to call it a brontosaurus anymore. In fact, now we've got at least twenty new different names for variations of this sort of creature. If only we called them sauropods from the beginning, then perhaps my generation would be a little bit brighter on the dinosaur front.

Which brings me back to Madison learning about a troodon at school. She is already learning something that I didn't know - and she's in preschool! This gives me hope for the future, as our way of thinking has apparently gone the way of... well, dinosaurs really.

Science-wise, one thing I do know, and she apparently does now too - is Roy G. Biv. No, she doesn't know him personally. But she does know the colors of the rainbow in the right order. This morning, she drew them out for me, making a proper rainbow and putting all the colors in their correct position. This blew me away. Here she is, five years old, already getting the spectrum colors correct, and learning about troodons. Amazing!

"She blinded me with science."
- Thomas Dolby

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Royal Society for Putting Things on top of Other Things

Good day! It is with deep pride and satisfaction that I speak to you today as a longstanding member of the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things. The year has been a good one thus far for the society, as there has been reported a steadily increasing amount of things placed thoroughly upon other things, for the benefit of all involved. Hear, hear!

According to our records submitted to our current staff secretary, the Lake Lanier Chapter of our organization has been quite diligent in its localized effort of taking all sorts of things and vigilantly placing them upon other things.

But I should warn you, this is not time to be complacent. Though great care has been taken in these labors, I must concede that there is quite a bit left to do. No, there are still many things, and I cannot emphasize this too strongly, not on top of other things. I myself, on my way home today, saw a thing that was not on top of another thing in any way.

Shame indeed! But we must not allow ourselves to become too despondent. For, we must never forget that if there was not one thing that was not on top of another thing, our society would be nothing more than a meaningless body of people that had gathered together for no good purpose.

But we flourish. This year our Lake Lanier members and the various organizations affiliated to our Northeast Georgia branches put no fewer than twenty-two things on top of other things. Well done all of you! You have demonstrated determination, deciding it is worth it to finish what you've started!

As you can see above, this afternoon, our newest member, Madison, started her day the best way possible by placing – and here I do not exaggerate – one smaller thing on top of another thing. Keep an eye on her, as she no doubt has a future in our great membership. Here is our next generation, as our royal society looks to the future!

Now we have not been without critics this year. Some might say that all of this is a bit silly, really. To which I say… uh…

Well, I suppose it is a bit silly. What have we been doing wasting our lives with all this nonsense?

Right. Okay, meeting adjourned forever!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day Off

As you can see here, we returned a third time to the library today - and this time Daddy brought along a camera. You see, Madison always has a seat next to the two bronze kids at the front entrance of Hampton Park Library, and she always tries to see what they're reading. For those of you who need to know, it's something about Tarzan.

Anyway, we spent a little time here and picked up some books and movies. Also, we went to Wal-Mart afterwards in order to pick up some more red mulch for the front yard. It's a work in progress, but it is moving forward!

Mommy spent a lot of time preparing tax information today, as it is that happy time of year once more. She should have all that done tomorrow, as our appointment to get it all figured out is on Wednesday morning. This is probably the earliest we've ever done it, a whole five days before the last minute. I'm sure you're noting the sarcasm in that last sentence.

Daddy spent a good deal of time finishing things in the garage, hanging signs and so forth. We've got these retro metal signs that look pretty neat on the wall, especially below that line of license plates all along the top. Another late entry to the garage: Herbie the Love Bug. You'll see a photo later, once I've cleaned him up a bit. A long time ago, Ye-Ye carved out of styrofoam this Herbie, which he painted and actually installed working headlights and real windshield wipers. It's a neat thing that we didn't want to see go to waste - it was made for a church series many years ago, and up until recently was sitting in a warehouse, probably never to be used again. Rather than see it disposed of, Daddy got the church van (it was too big to fit in his car), and now Herbie is in our garage, up against a wall. He's a 2-D sculpture, although he extends out just a little. And he looks great just below the Herbie movie poster I have on the wall there. So glad to have Herbie in the garage!

Another thing we're glad to have: the Bat House! More on that later this week, but we'll be putting that up sometime soon. First, Daddy wants to decorate it. We've been doing the research on where to hang it, and I think I've got just the place. My hopes are up for an immediate move-in, but they say it can take two years to five years for bats to get interested in a house you've set up for them. We'll see, and of course I'll keep that posted here. But before I put it up, it absolutely has to have the Batman logo on it. Oh yeah...!

Today officially ends Madison's spring break - tomorrow we have music class and school. For this reason, Madison spent quite a bit of time behind the piano this afternoon. She's got some catching up to do! She worked hard at that, and also was quite helpful today. In fact, when we went to Wal-Mart, there was this moment where Daddy saw an older woman trying to get a large lawnmower into the back of her SUV all by herself. Daddy was wondering why there wasn't a Wal-Mart employee out there helping, but rather than wait for that, he offered to help while Madison stood nearby. Sure enough though, Madison reached up to help "push" the lawnmower into place. She's such a good Samaritan!

Tonight's entertainment was short-lived because of the early night before school. We plugged in the old Gamecube once more. This was in honor of the Masters this past weekend, where a guy named Bubba won. It makes me extremely happy to hear a guy named Bubba winning at something. But back to the Gamecube: we played Mario Golf.

Madison had fun with this, and although she wasn't 100% on the game mechanics, she still had a great time hitting the ball as far as she could. It was sort of like our strategy with bowling: velocity before accuracy!

"I would like to deny all allegations by Bob Hope that during my last game of golf, I hit an eagle, a birdie, an elk and a moose." ~ Gerald Ford

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

Today is always a big day because of what we do, but there's always time for spending time with the family afterwards. We had the three services of church today (Daddy's day started at 5:00 am, which is somewhat like a farmer!), but just after that we went to Nana and Ye-Ye's house to celebrate Easter. It was very nice, and always pleasant. Madison's great-grandmother was there, as were her cousins, and also Aunt Shain and Uncle Dave. Firstly, we had a great meal together, the traditional ham and a table loaded with all sorts of delicious food. After that, it was time to do some egg-hunting!

Madison and Hannah burst out the front door, ready to look everywhere they could for colorful eggs. Some were cleverly hidden, and others were left out in the lawn in more obvious places - no matter, Madison and Hannah got them all, plundering for the candy that's on the inside. Of course, it really isn't about all the candy - it's about finding hidden Easter eggs. Everyone was outside watching the fun, and Madison was filling up her basket slowly with all sorts of colorful eggs. It didn't take too long - she's getting better at finding the eggs. Soon, she and Hannah were helping David and Jonathan in the backyard, as they were engaged in an "intermediate" egg hunt, where the eggs were hidden in more challenging ways. When the boys couldn't find a few, Madison was put on the case, and tracked them down when everyone else couldn't. She's good. Really good. We'll have to keep an eye on her!

It's always a tradition to exchange baskets, and this Easter, Madison walked away with three more baskets - that's on top of the two baskets she found this morning when she woke up. Yes, that's right: she got five Easter baskets today! Definitely too much candy - it filled a large ziplock bag, and was nearly as much as she got on Halloween. That's a ton of candy! She also got stuffed bunnies and even a copy of a DVD, "Jake and the Neverland Pirates," which she's been into lately.

Easter is such a busy time for us, but it was so good to see everyone again, and have some fun together. Afterwards, we returned for dessert and a bit of conversation. Madison and Hannah were playing with some of their new toys, and everyone just sat back and soaked in the atmosphere of a relaxing day.

Happy Easter!

Brachiosaurus Limbo and Other Games

Here's the final line-up of today's thrilling Brachiosaurus Limbo competition. It was the first annual event of this kind, and as you can see here the competitors were pretty excited to be a part of it. First, there's the big pink ball with the panda face. He's a tough competitor, but it will be hard to beat the orange brachiosaurus there. Especially when the event is named after him. These dinosaurs are known for playing limbo, and it'll be tough to beat him. Next is a small inflatable ball that Madison kissed for luck earlier. This pink ball may seem like a competitor you can just roll over, but you'd best think twice. Next in line is a smaller orange ball with his eye on the trophy. Madison is ready to hand out invisible trophies to the winner afterwards, and this orange ball figures to be standing on the winner's podium when it is all said and done. Next, there's the blue and orange tennis ball, a real pro and a last-minute entry in today's big competition. Lastly, there's Madison, who has the eye of the tiger when it comes to Brachiosaurus Limbo. She's ready for action!

Daddy did not make any of this up - he was finishing up hanging things in the garage, when Madison invited him for a game of limbo. Until Daddy could join the game, she had been playing with her friends we have listed above, and everyone was making it under the bar, for the most part at least!

Another game that seems a bit more productive at least would be the "Sight Word Recognition" game, which really isn't a game so much as it is a series of index cards with short words on them. The goal is for Madison to recognize these words at first sight, so Mommy put them all on index cards that we review one at a time.

  • a
  • at
  • an
  • and
  • am
  • are
  • can
  • do
  • for
  • go
  • has
  • have
  • he
  • here
  • in
  • I
  • is
  • it
  • like
  • look
  • me
  • my
  • no
  • play
  • said
  • see
  • she
  • so
  • the
  • to
  • up
  • we

We're just starting, so there's only a few that she gets right away - the obvious ones. But we all know that Madison is a quick learner, and we're excited to think about how fast she'll have this list nailed down. What's great is that she's really interested in learning these as fast as she can. She wants to be able to read on her own, although she still loves to have us read to her. It's funny how fast she'll drop whatever she's doing in order to go sit with us at the couch or front porch to share a book.

Tomorrow is Easter, which means that Mommy is busy in the kitchen making special treats for everyone. The new thing this year are these marshmallow peeps, dipped in white chocolate at the bottom (to look like egg shells), dipped in sprinkles, and then put on a stick. Very cute - and tasty! She's got a few other things she's made as well, and all of them have enough sugar in them to make the cavity creeps very, very happy.