Thursday, May 31, 2012

Human Cannonball

Daddy saw Madison for a little bit today, but most of the day was spent filming some extreme 3D stuff, like what you see above.  It's a human cannonball launcher, one we set up in the middle of this very large field.  Daddy took this photo of Josh just before we started filming.  He's not the one that's launched though - we've got another actor who is a good friend of Daddy's.

This guy is dressed up like Evel Knievel, and all day long we were doing different stunts like this:

1.  Launching from a large cannon across the field, landing on a perfectly placed cushion.

2.  Jumping a few busses on rocket powered skates (which are in fact just sparklers).

3.  Rolling down a large hill inside a trash receptacle, launching up a ramp and into a pick up truck that drives off and goes through an obstacle course.

4.  Rolling down a long ramp, launching up another ramp and over Lake Lanier and through a small hula hoop.

None of these in fact work.  Or come close.  This is where the humor is found, and the videos should turn out pretty good.  The last one was probably the most fun, as Daddy and most of the crew were out in the lake itself doing one thing or another.  We had waterproof cameras with us, filming as our friend jumped the ramp, soared through the air, and came down into the lake with a huge splash!

Daddy was in each of these videos as a sort of apathetic manager - they should turn out pretty funny!  What was nice was the time we got to spend on the lake.  It reminded me of a time we were trapped at a National Forest last summer because of rain.  Our filming was delayed mightily and we were stuck in a huge downpour - and yet everyone was having such a good time.  Occasionally, all the work has a spontaneous moment of fun.  There's a video we filmed while it was raining that one time - it's just a joke video that we made while we were waiting for the rain to stop.  Click below:

That sort of captures the craziness of that day - today was pretty similar.  One negative:  Daddy got really red.  Not angry red, but there's a lot of sun on this face.  I've gone from pale to red!  Ever since pancreatitis, I promise you that people have been saying I look pale all the time.  I don't know if this is some sort of medical thing, or if it is because I haven't been outside too much.  All that's fixed now:  I'm pretty toasted!

This morning, Madison continued with her block building, adding more bricks and adding more buildings to her skyline.  Later, she came to church with Mommy - the two were cleaning up from Weird Science and getting ready for the next big series.  How great that she was still awake when Daddy got home - we tucked her in this evening after milk, and said our prayers.  It was a busy day, but at least we got to spend some time together!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Block City

Earlier in the morning, Mommy brought out a block set for Madison - and the two of them spent some time training to become architects.  When Daddy came home for lunch, you can see how proud she was of her constructions - she asked Daddy to take a picture.  I captured a small portion of this building block metropolis, which we've actually left on the floor all night.

It's been work, work, work this week - but that's pretty much the way it is every week before Summer Xtreme.  So much to plan for and do, although Daddy's health has been keeping him a bit more limited as of late.  He's been spending time writing scripts and helping with videos, which is always fun.  It's just that my time expectancy is significantly lower than it's ever been in the past.  Pancreatitis tends to do that to you.

We'll get back to normal soon enough, where we're only moderately busy - rather than this sort of insane busy that tends to dominate us all and drive us into the ground!  When we're done, maybe Daddy will sit down with Madison and Mommy, along with some more blocks.  We can expand the city!  I can become mayor, where I wear a top hat and a monocle.  Mayors tend to do that.  The best thing of all is that I'm running unopposed, so we won't have a campaign season filled with nasty venom, vehemence, vindictiveness and other mean-sounding v words.  The campaign will be clean, and my best campaign platform of all is that I promise not to put eight zillion "vote for me" signs all over the place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Topsy Turvy

January 6th is actually "Topsy Turvy Day," according to the song from the Disney movie.  Still, Madison found time to celebrate a few months later with this surprise before bedtime.  We told her to get into her pajamas, and here's how she came out to us:  all topsy turvy!  Yes, that's the pants on her head - and the pajama top on her bottom.  She was rather proud of this, actually.  She even wanted us to snap a photo, which as you can see, we did.  After such a frantic day like yesterday, today was certainly a more laid back sort of atmosphere for Madison.  Mommy spent much of the day doing all sorts of cleaning up from the day before, along with plenty of rest.  Lunch was fun, as Daddy came home and we all ate plenty of leftovers from yesterday's feast.

Daddy still had to leave to go back, and he spent quite a bit of time working.  Although he's not quite spending the night anymore, there is still quite a bit to do to keep him up late.  Tonight, Daddy was on the computer until about 3 am, typing up just one of the scripts for next week.

The messages are a different matter altogether when it comes to writing.  Those flow straight from the spirit and seem to just pour out once you sit down to type.  There is plenty of research involved, looking into Bible passages and stories - all made easy by some great resources on the internet.

Script-writing, however, is a different matter altogether.  There are a few methods used to attack the blank sheet of paper, which is the great white wall that blocks us from success.

1.  STORY:
First, there needs to be a story arc.  This is elementary, of course.  It needs to mirror the message spoken that day, whatever that may be.  As I'm generally the guy writing the messages, this is something I know well ahead of time.  With Summer Xtreme next week, I know all five messages by heart, so the writing I've been doing sort of follows what is being spoken later in the service.

Stories are simple enough to hammer out - but there has to be a gimmick.  That's thing number two.  The gimmick is that exciting thing that captures the audience's imagination.  Sometimes it is as simple as the threat and future delivery of a pie in the face.  Other times, it involves props - like last week's skit where we had kids as elements:

There's always got to be a gimmick.  You can't have a skit without something to capture the kids' attention.  And again of course, you've got to have a point, or a bottom line.

3.  JOKES:
The final thing you need are jokes, and lots of them.  These are scattered throughout the skit, and fit in nicely with the dialogue, sometimes advancing the story along, and sometimes just thrown in for fun.  We make up jokes, of course, but you can't get them all from inside your head.  That's the interesting part - it takes research.  Tonight, Daddy was looking online for some fun one-liners - but he also had a notebook nearby with lots of jokes written in it.  You see, for the past few weeks, Daddy and Mommy have been watching shows like this one:

For the past few months, we've been watching sitcoms, but "The Suite Life on Deck" has been the most fun.  I'm not entirely sure why we started watching it, but we're now about fifty episodes into it - we've watched this a lot lately.  It might be the theme of a cruise ship - and Disney - which we'll be seeing in August.  The other reason is that it is a show directed at a younger audience.  Mommy and Daddy apparently have this sort of sense of humor.  And as Daddy watches this and other shows, he's always got a little notebook nearby to jot down funny one-liners or set-ups.

With an arsenal of jokes at the ready, there's a bit more confidence when facing that blank white sheet of paper.  Sometimes the jokes themselves start the story out in a fun way that is easy to finish.  Such is the case of the first script for Summer Xtreme - not so heavy on the gimmick, but the jokes are a mile-a-minute.  It'll be a lot of fun!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Slide

Mommy seriously outdid herself today with a  spectacular meal and all kinds of nice patriotic decor.  It was an incredible Memorial Day, where the family came over for a bit to relax and as you can see above - get a little wet!

She's been working all weekend on preparing all the food, and getting things set up.  We put a canopy out on the deck, which worked out perfectly on a hot day like today.  It was good to eat outside, and thanks to Beryl, we had overcast skies from time to time to cool things off a bit.  Daddy grilled the burgers and hot dogs, the hamburgers created from a secret recipe mix that Mommy's been using for a while.  They're delicious!  Then there were the standard Memorial Day items:  corn on the cob, macaroni salad, potato salad, cole slaw and more.  Mommy made it all, and everyone nearly ate it all!

We celebrated a few birthdays today, and even a belated Mother's Day.  Daddy's hospital stay sort of delayed a few of those dates a bit.  Daddy had the patriotic music playing - we have a few CDs, one from Disney World (EPCOT'S America Pavilion), and one is from Phil Driscoll.  It's sort of a tradition to play those on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

We've collected some great decorations over the years, wood carved and colored red, white and blue.  Mommy even got a neat decoration to hang out by the front door, near the flag.  Outside there were red, white and blue decorations hanging from the canopy.  It was pretty festive!

And yes, it got pretty wet afterwards.  It seems to be a tradition to get into a major squirt gun fight, followed by the hurling of soaking wet sponges.  Ye-Ye was absolutely drenched.  He might as well have jumped in a pool as wet as he was.  Later on, they set up a water slide in the back yard, and as you can see from that first picture, everyone has a great time sliding down.  Madison absolutely loved it.

Everyone stayed a little later than expected - everyone was having such a good time.  It was great to see Madison's great grandma here as well.  She watched in the shade of the balcony above as everyone went about splashing and soaking.  It was a great day!

Tired from the day's preparations and events, we sat down to watch "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" afterwards.   Madison hadn't seen it before, but enjoyed watching it with Mommy and Daddy.  We had pop-corn, and of course a little later we had to have a little chocolate.  No golden tickets though.

It's not quite time for Madison to appreciate the value of Memorial Day, which of course is all about sacrifice.  We did talk about that briefly, but some day Madison will really grasp the weight of those who gave all so that we could enjoy a day like this.  Ye-Ye was in the Navy for a short time, as was his father.  No one else has had to serve - we've been so incredibly blessed for many years, all thanks to those who defend us.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beryl Barreling

Holy tomatoes, you should see our tomato garden.  We've already got quite a few green ones in the works, and the garden is starting to look like a jungle!  Mommy purchased a few of those metal cage things that help the plants as they grow skyward.  It was a real treat to see them grow over the past few weeks, and it'll be a completely awesome moment when we start reaping a harvest!

Today started out early with church, which of course is the way we start every Sunday.  It was our final Sunday of the Weird Science series, although everyone seems to be more concerned about the upcoming Summer Xtreme event.  See?  Broken record.  Anyway, today was a parent meeting after church, where we let all the parents know about rules, regulations and all the fun stuff we'll be doing.  Everything seemed to go fairly well, although Daddy did get home a little later than normal on a Sunday.

Getting home, we played some Candy Land, and read some books, and then got to working on building a canopy for the back deck.  Tomorrow, the family is coming over for Memorial Day, so we set up some things outside - and of course Mommy has been cooking and preparing things in the kitchen pretty much non-stop.

Just off the coast of Florida is a tropical storm - and what's this?  It could reach hurricane wind strength?    That's not right.  First of all:  I looked it up.  Hurricane Season begins on June 1st.  Clearly, this Tropical Storm Beryl will be breaking some sort of law.  Secondly, who in their right mind would name their child "Beryl?"  Pardon the pun here, but that name is really scraping the bottom of the barrel!  I have never heard of anyone named Beryl.  It sounds more like a rock in Ye-Ye's rock collection actually.

I think meteorologists came up with it just so they could use this phrase:  "Hurricane Beryl is barreling up the coast."  A little internet research here confirms my suspicion.  Here's a title I just found:

NOAA Hurricane Storm Tracker: Beryl Barreling Toward Florida

So there you go.  Beryl is barreling.  Last year, a hurricane named Irene was barreling by Georgia, which was Madison's first experience with knowing what a hurricane was.  Daddy sort of explained it with a map, and we went outside and felt the breeze.  No rain though.  This one seems to promise a few showers, though nothing like what South Georgia and Florida will be feeling it.  We really hate it for those folks who had plans at the beach for Memorial Day this weekend - Hilton Head, Savannah, Jacksonville:  it all looks like a wash.

Things should be okay here, outside of rain later in the day.  Right now you can hear the firecrackers already.  Madison went to bed a little later than normal tonight, as she was helping out a lot with our construction projects.  She also helped water the garden too - I'll have to take a picture of that so you can see it.  It's amazing how fast these things grow!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Prayer for the Avengers

Prayer tonight before bed got to be amusing, as the typical list of people Madison prays for increased it's roster by a few names:  Hawkeye, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man - and here she looks at us and asks, "What's that other guy's name?"

Daddy:  "Nick Fury?"

Madison continued:  "And Nick Fury.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

We had a good laugh at this.  I suppose the Avengers need prayer just as much as anyone else.

She hasn't seen the movie - that might be a while - but she has seen some commercials and comic books.  The other day after we left the theater from seeing "Pirates:  Band of Misfits," she got a free Lego Avengers poster - the one you see below.

It actually has mini-biographies on the backside, which Madison makes Daddy read frequently.  Being the proud comic book nut that I am, I happily consent!

Today was a big day for preparation of Summer Xtreme.  Unfortunately, these blogs will have that same theme the next several days:  June 4-8th will be pretty huge for the kids at the church.  Daddy has to keep using that excuse when he leaves:  "I have to go get everything ready for your big week!"  The older kids do bigger, more elaborate sorts of things - but Madison's age group will have a great time this upcoming week as well.  Time goes by so fast:  soon she'll be old enough to be with the bigger kids.  And six years after that, she'll move up to another ministry for older kids.  Don't you wish the clock would stop sometimes?  Frequently, we catch ourselves in a hurry, don't we?

That's why it's been good to go home for lunch and sit with Madison, reading a book or playing a simple game.  Mommy and Madison make it so easy to want to go home!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Towel Day

A few random holidays today, all summed up in the title of one holiday:  "Geek Day."  What follows here in this blog entry firmly supports that we're the sort of people that can celebrate "Geek Day."  First of all, it's the 35th anniversary of the release of Star Wars.  This seems to be a big theme for May, as we've already had "May the Fourth Be With You," and of course the "Star Wars Days" celebration down at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Seriously, though:  can you believe it has been 35 years?  Again, Madison just saw it a few weeks ago for the first time - and loved it.  In fact, she still talks about Princess Leia and her unusual hair style that looks like two bread rolls stuck to either side of her head.

Here's the other thing to celebrate today:  Towel Day!  Above is a picture of Madison and her favorite towel, one that comes with a cloth crown at the top.  You put it on your head and wrap the towel around you for warmth or to get dry.  Of course, there are other functions of the towel, and that's the whole point of Towel Day.  Allow me a moment to explain:

"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Although immensely helpful, this may be unfamiliar to you.  In which case you have not read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," or seen the movie at least.  Daddy has read all six books in the trilogy - the first three are the best.  I think the second my be my favorite, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe."  It's delightfully quirky, and a lot of fun.  For a recent birthday, Mommy got me Eoin Colfer's "And Another Thing," which is technically part six.  Although wasn't as good as the first two, it was certainly better than four and five.  Lots of numbers here, eh?  It's amazing the number 42 hasn't popped in here yet.  Oops, there it is.

ANYWAY, Madison's towel is clearly a good one, as you can see for yourself.  And now we leave you now with some Vogon Poetry.  So long (and thanks for all the fish)!

"Oh freddled gruntbuggly
thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes. 
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"
     - Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ants in Pants

Okay, we're not talking squirrels in your pants - we're talking about ants.  Today we tried out yet another new game - "Ants in Pants."  This game is simple:  you flick small plastic ant-shaped objects into a giant dog's pants.  The dog happens to be in a firefighter's outfit.  I'm not entirely sure of the connection here - perhaps they are fire ants?

Another thing:  how does PETA feel about this game?  First of all, we're hurling insects.  Second of all, we're hurling them en masse at a defenseless animal.

Needless to say, Madison really enjoyed it.  This was one of those tender father/daughter moments.  Cue the soft camera lens and gentle acoustic guitar as Daddy patiently teaches Madison how to properly put her index finger down and send a plastic ant flying through the air.  It took her a while to grasp the concept of aim, velocity, angles, gravity, weight, and myrmecology.  But when she did, she applied basic physics and managed to get four of them-there ants in that dog's pants!  Yes, today was another first:  Madison's first ant in pants.  Excuse me while I quietly shed a tear.

This morning, Madison tried another age-old game:  shopping for a new outfit.  Daddy and Mommy went to the pulmonologist (lung specialist), so Nana agreed to pick her up on the way to Goodwill.  There, Madison met Aunt Shain and Hannah too - and everyone had a good time.  They ate at Chick-Fil-A, and did a bunch of clothes shopping together.  Hannah and Madison were trying on clothing, and looking in the mirror to see what looked best.  Madison wore her final choice for much of the day - she was quite proud!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Madison's doctor's appointment this morning confirmed that Mommy has been doing the right thing by giving her certain standard medicines at regular intervals.  Furthermore though, we've now gotten a newly prescribed nose spray that should help with some inflammation inside the nose.  She'll be okay in just a bit - it's just the coughing that gets to you.  Last night she coughed at certain longer portions of the night, despite the cough medication given at appropriate times during the evening.  As a result, everyone's been a bit tired.  We all woke up rather sleepy, and a little late.  It's funny how you can catch a cold here and now - at the beginnings of summer.

Huge storms have been thundering through - or barreling through if you'd like.  It'll be sunny for a big part of the day, but the large clouds will build up, and towering thunderstorms will loom, thundering closer and closer until the downpour begins.  We've been getting a lot of rain lately, which is a good thing - we had a bit of a dry spell earlier in the year.  I love the rain.  Just not the violent rain so much.

Madison was at work with Daddy and Mommy for a good part of the day, running around as if she weren't really sick at all.  She was with her friends - other children held captive in the office by working parents - and having the time of her life.  Madison and Daddy roamed the church at one point, going up to the secret places of the third floor and doing a bit of exploring, but for the most part she was playing with the other kids - and adults.  A few days ago we got a "pumponator," which is a device invented by a young girl:  it's function is to easily fill water balloons.  Although we haven't tried it for it's expressed purpose yet, Madison has enjoyed the heck out of this invention:  she pumps the handle and fills the tank below with air pressure, and then sneaks up on unsuspecting office workers... and pulls the trigger.  Out pours this burst of smelly air - it stinks because of the rubber water balloons inside.  She sprays anyone and everyone, and then asks, "Does that stink!?"  And that's when she laughs and runs away!

Tomorrow Daddy sees his pulmonologist, a word my spellcheck here is convinced I got wrong!  It's in the morning, so we'll all have to get our alarms set and make a family trip to a lung specialist.  That'll be a first for me.  Not the getting up early part:  we seem to do that a lot now that we have Madison.  This morning she crawled into bed with us, and together we slept in quite some time, mainly because of the long night beforehand.  That was related to a cold, but it seems we've been staying up a little later now that school is out for a few weeks.  Madison, Mommy and Daddy have even stayed up on night until 10:00 pm watching a movie together.  Oh yeah, that's late.  You could say we were regular nighthawks!

This morning, Daddy and Madison were looking through some impressive lego creations online, and Daddy spotted this one here above - it is a recreation of his favorite paintings.  Some time ago, I actually painted a version of this myself - it'd be neat to actually frame my work and have it hanging around somewhere.  In fact, it would be neat for Mommy and Daddy to do some more painting some time.  We got some new canvases recently for just that purpose, and Mommy was thinking of doing just that - maybe we'll get started on that again soon.

Okay, so maybe after Madison's birthday and Summer Xtreme.  It seems like something's always going on around here, huh?  Example:  this weekend is Memorial Day, and everyone wants to come over to our house for a typical Memorial Day celebration, with food and fun.  Mommy is preparing things somewhat, so it should be a fun occasion.  But it sort of fits what we were saying earlier:  always something on the menu!

Back to "Nighthawks."  What is it about that painting that everyone seems to like?  It seems to tell a story, or express some sort of unusual mood.  I just looked up to see if there is such a physical location that Hopper was looking at when he came up with this idea, and it sounds like this is not a real restaurant, but rather a combination of ideas.  Surely somebody has built it for real by now:  A "Phillies" that looks just like this building.  Now there's an idea to get cracking on.  Anyway, someday we'll get up there in Chicago to see the painting in person.  That'd be a good trip for later when Madison is old enough to appreciate it.  Until then, here below is a version she would appreciate now:

Speaking of "now," it's gotten pretty late here.  And this nighthawk is off to bed.  Goodnight!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fishing for Gems

Okay, so lately I admit we've had a bit of "tour of games" around the house, pulling out all the different ones we could try out with Madison.  It's been somewhat of a warm-up to the Olympics, a decathlon of events - and tonight's big contest was the Magical Gems Fishing Game, where you can use a tiny Disney princess fishing rod to attempt to pick up these magical gems that seem to have mouths that open up and close over and over again.  Obviously, this was a fishing game at one time where the gems were actually plastic fish - but someone in marketing thought it would be a great idea to change all the fish to snapping gems that Disney Princesses sit around and fish for.  They don't even need to worry about bait!

Apparently the idea sold, because we have it.  And for the record, Madison enjoyed it.  She actually won a few rounds too, although she wasn't holding her fishing pole just right.  Still, she was having a good time trying to collect the most gems.

Madison's cough is still hanging in there, although again the good news is that it stops when she goes to sleep.  Mommy plans on taking her to the doctor tomorrow as a precaution - we don't want to let things go to far.  You never know.  Speaking of which, Daddy is going to a lung doctor on Thursday, which will be a first.  My other doctor recommended this, especially after seeing a few things at the hospital.  It's all related to that pancreatitis spell, which is still in the healing process currently.  Daddy wishes it would be better right now, but some things take time.  Ugh, I don't have time for this with Summer Xtreme coming...

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ham Nite

Tonight we had Ham Nite, which was a rather amusing idea we got from a movie we watched this afternoon:  "The Pirates!  Band of Misfits."  With everything quiet, we had a nice opportunity to slip out and see a movie, just the three of us.  We nearly had the entire theater to ourselves!  This theater was over in Cumming, and actually was significantly cheaper - and in 3D.  Therefore, I think we might be heading over that way for a while now.  Seriously, we saved enough money to buy concessions (translated:  a lot of money!).  As for the movie, we give it thumbs up.  Ask Daddy about pirate movies in general, and there's an "arrr" of approval before the thing has usually started.  Any movie with pirates is going to have favor initially, and this one kept things going along nicely.  Madison enjoyed it too:  she turned to us at the end and told us, "That movie cracked me up!"

As for Ham Nite (or Ham Night if you want to be all proper), we did indeed have a bit of ham to honor the day:  we went over to the Cracker Barrel for dinner, where we had a bit of ham - and other assorted food items.  The sky opened up while we were there, and a heavy rain poured down.  The weather has been quite tropical lately, actually.  But as this rain came through, things cooled down a bit outside.  It's been rather unusual for May - it feels unseasonably cooler, really.  Certainly after those bits in March and April that were extraordinarily hot.

Madison has had a little bit of a cold lately - you read it here first from last Friday.  Maybe not allergies after all, but a persistent cough has kept with her these past few days.  We've been keeping the cough medicine around, and fortunately she's sleeping well at night.  Tonight, she went to bed a little earlier than normal, just because Mommy and Daddy felt it was a wise idea.  Daddy read to her a book from Ponyville, which she enjoyed a lot.  She's still into My Little Pony.  But she's into the Avengers too - you should have seen her looking at individual posters at the movie theater today.  She came out of the theater and looked at one poster and said, "Black Widow."  Then she proceeded to identify the other remaining Avengers one by one.  That's my girl!

All in all, it was a nice relaxing day.  We had some fun with Playdoh in the morning, cleaned up a little, and slept in a while to just for good measure.  We plundered the kitchen for breakfast and sailed off for the movies early in the afternoon, even stopping by Goodwill for a bit of random shopping.  Things will pick up tomorrow, I'm sure.  But until then, it was nice to sit back and relax - and recover still.  Daddy's still got a few issues, but he'll be back on board saying "arrr" and so forth pretty soon.  A pirate's life for me!

"It's only impossible if you stop to think about it."
- The Pirate Captain

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What a Lulu!

It was Sunday, which translated to a good bit of work in the morning at the service - and then a good bit of resting afterwards.  Daddy's recent condition has left him quite exhausted a little easier than normal.  The good thing is that he lost about 20 pounds.

"And this time, I'm keeping it off."  - The Grinch

We did try this new game - yes, another board game.  Ye-Ye and Nana got it for Madison, "Kai-Lan's Dragonboat Race Game."  Who won?  Well, it was pretty unexpected, I'll give you that much.  Today's big winner was Lulu!

You see, Madison and Daddy picked characters to race, but also racing against us were Kai-Lan's friends, Lulu and Tolee.  It seems that Lulu was the best at dragon boat racing.  She whooped up on us all afternoon!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Nana and Ba-Ba pushed off to Florida today, returning home after spending a few weeks with us here.  How incredible it was to have them with us.  Though there was a few appointments they had here, hence the trip up, they still did so much more by working tirelessly over at our old house, fixing it up and making it much more presentable.  This, all while Daddy was still sick of course.  Mommy has been pretty busy lately, so it was good to have the amazing help here.

They arrived home safely this evening, so all is well and everyone is happy there.  Daddy spent much of the day at work, and as you can imagine, we'll have to all get a good night's rest tonight:  we've been up way too late the last couple nights, including Madison!

Speaking of farewells, we read today that Jackie Chan is retiring from action flicks.  This is good, as he's 58 now, and should keep himself safe.  Most actors half his age would opt to have a stunt person in his place, and yet this guy keeps on doing most of his own stunts.  Why on earth is any of this important enough to put in this blog?  I guess because it has to do with China:  he's from China.  Not only that, but we like the guy.  One reason he said he was tired of action movies was because they were becoming too violent.  This we can all agree on.  Although movies like "The Avengers" had plenty of comic book violence, there are plenty of other movies that just cross too many lines.  Jackie said he'd still be an actor, but it sounds like he's through with the stunts.  So we'll keep seeing him here and there, which is good.  In his honor, I think we'll pop in one of his old movies just for fun.  Daddy was in the mood to see "The Forbidden Kingdom" again - that one has the Monkey King in it as a bonus!

We've had a busy few weeks.  And with so many landmark occasions wiped away, the only thing that remains is Summer Xtreme.  The behemoth event of planning has already been eating up my fellow employees' time, some of them actually living at the church lately.  It's only a matter of time until Daddy joins the bandwagon.  But not today.  Or tomorrow for that matter.  There's still a tiny bit of recovery to go.  Even now, the stomach churns and reminds me there is still some healing to take place.  It's been a month, hasn't it?  I have to look at the calendar, but it's been pretty close to a month now.  And yet still I put up with this?  I have grown to pity quite a few people, but most especially my own wife.  Mommy still endures with troubles from her cancer recovery.  The radiation damage has altered her life, leaving Madison and Daddy with a daily prayer for her permanent healing.  It's talked about little on this blog, and her battles are less frequent than they used to be - but sometimes they are epic.  Some days she loses half the day, fighting with this thing.  If only I or anyone else could take this from her.  If only someone would take it from her...

Friday, May 18, 2012

ABC Game

Here's another board game we've been playing - and this one has been educational and fun.  Madison sees the pictures on the cards, and has to identify what latter that object begins with.  Some are a little more obvious, like "What letter does X-Ray start with?"  Duh?  But there are a few tricky ones in there, like "xylophone" and "earth."  Still, the repetition of this game will help her letter skills improve, and that's pretty exciting to Mommy and Daddy.  The three of us played this today and had a lot of fun!

So Daddy has been suffering lately.  He shouldn't have eaten Chinese food with Nana and Ba-Ba last night.  Doctors said to stay away from fried and fatty, and the translation for Chinese food here locally is "entirely fried and fatty."  Back to the old drawing board on healing.
Speaking of which, Daddy 
and Mommy went to a big church service in Griffin, Georgia tonight.  It was a pretty big drive, but it was very good to go.  We brought an old friend with us who we've known for nearly twenty years at the church - he's a guy who also has been going through some health issues, but things are much worse with him.    We had some comedic moments there, but I suppose I won't go into that - I'll just leave it at saying it was a very good thing we all went, something each of us needed to do, really.  Meanwhile, Madison spent the night with Nana and Ba-Ba, who went to the pet store for a bit.  Madison saw all kinds of animals and had a good time there - and then came back home to have some more play time.  She went to bed a little early though:  she was coughing and perhaps allergic to something.  Could it have been something in the pet store?  We'll have to keep an eye on her there for sure.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ballerina Girl

Tonight's pre-ballet recital was a wonderful occasion.  Nana and Ba-Ba were on hand to see Madison dance with her friends, and as you can see in the photo above, she was graceful and beautiful as any dancer.  Of course, the routine was one filled with moments that you'd only find with a group of five-year-olds dancing ballet, but this time around Madison was much more with her teacher in regards to movement and form.  She's memorized the different positions, even demonstrating them to all of us previously - along with a little song she's learned to help remember each one.  That dance she did, along with several others - and every parent in the room thought they were looking at the best dancer ever.  But of course, ours was really the best!  Wink, wink!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Last Day of School!

Today was the final day of classes for Madison - although Madison will still be seeing more of her teacher Mrs. Julie this summer when she returns for additional classes.  That won't be for a while though.  Madison came home with a DVD that included all kinds of images - including the one you see here.  There was a slide show on the DVD, which had all kinds of pictures from her class throughout the year, including images from events at Easter and Christmas that we'd not seen before.  So that was pretty neat!  Also, there was a cute little movie where everyone was gathered in class singing a little song together.  Madison enjoyed the day very much, although she's a little sad not to see some of her friends anymore.  She really liked her friend Madison B.  We never knew her last name, but we knew her name was Madison, and her last initial was B.  Madison literally calls her "Madison B."  When asked about her name, she calls herself "Madison C."

Check these out!  Mommy made them last night, and Daddy was so impressed he took a picture.  These are small pots, and on each pot Mommy painted a black chalkboard substance that you could actually use to write with chalk on.  She wrote the words, "Thank you for helping me grow," and put flowers in each pot.  Also: she put little butterfly gift cards (to Target).  Aren't they great?  Mommy gave these to each of Madison's teachers today as a parting gift.  Mommy is so creative!

Tonight, Daddy got back into the swing of things somewhat by getting back up on stage at church.  It was exhausting, but he has been "out of the loop" long enough.  Or, at least that's the way I've been feeling lately.  Taking any extended health-related leave is a real pain, in more ways than one, obviously.  There have been upsides to it, but I'm ready to get better.

Madison and Daddy have been on a board game marathon as of late.  She's really been into them!  We've been doing the Monorail game, Candyland, Battleship, Trouble, and Disney's Scene-It game too.  Also, we've been playing this game as well:

  This is a virtual board game with a Disney Princess theme.  We've popped this one in a few times, and Madison has enjoyed it as well.  She's smart too - watch out and don't play around if you want to keep up with her!  The object is to collect items in order to go to the ball, and in order to get those pieces, you usually have to answer questions or watch clips to see if you can figure something out.  Daddy got a good head start today, but Madison sailed to victory with a bunch of easy questions about Snow White.  You have to be careful with her - she's tricky!

"Angel, ha! She's a female! And all females is poison! They're full of wicked wiles!" - Grumpy

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Water Music

Today was Madison's last day at Music Class - at least until the fall - and there was a celebration at the end unlike any other.  Mrs. Pam, Madison's teacher, had put together a bunch of fun games, most of them involving water!  Some involved using squirt guns to shoot at notes, and well, you can imagine that everyone came away pretty soaked.  In fact, there were prior instructions to "bring a towel," which we did.

Also today, the second-to-last day of classes at pre-school.  Can you believe it is almost over?  After Summer Xtreme, Madison will start up Summer School at the pre-school, and continue with speech therapy, but in a much more limited way.  As of tomorrow, pre-school is over, which is pretty amazing.  We think back to the first day of classes, which as with everything doesn't seem that long ago.  She's in the class of 2025, which seems like such a long time from now - and yet look how fast the last thirteen years have flown by.  That's why we treasure each day so much with Madison.  Her smile is a gift, her laugh, her beautiful countenance.  We just love the way she hides the moment Daddy gets home from work, and pops out to scream "Boo!"  Of course, we love everything about her.  One blessing of Daddy's recent illness is the extended amount of time I've got to spend with her - the first week was rough, isolated in the hospital.  But the following weeks have been a blessing, despite the obvious pains.

Speaking of which, the doctor's visit revealed a little more about my current condition, which I'll post below.  This was an email that I sent out to everyone interested, just a little update:



Here's my little update on my health, after the gastro-whatever doctor's visit today:

"A cyst is a closed sac, having a distinct membrane and division compared to the nearby tissue. It may contain air, fluids, or semi-solid material."

Okay, so after the doctor's visit today, it's determined I've got one of these inside me:  a cyst.  Can you say "gross?"

It's large enough to press against some significant organs, hence all the discomfort I've been experiencing.  This is apparently standard procedure:  my experience with pancreatitis left me with a cyst, which at first I thought was some harmless little wart on my pancreas.  But evidently, this thing is large enough to wreak havoc!  Beware the cyst!

Bottom line:  it'll take a few more weeks to heal.

OTHER BOTTOM LINE:  It is a "great mystery" still what caused all this in the first place, as these typical causes have all been ruled out by doctors:

1.  High cholesterol
2.  A random bite from a Caribbean arachnid (seriously!)
3.  Heavy drinking (they keep asking me about this one)
4.  Gall stones (these have never been physically found, so this is ruled out)

SO WHAT CAUSED THIS?  That's what my return doctor visit will be about - the one scheduled AFTER Summer Xtreme in June.  Basically, when the cyst has gone down, and the inflammation is down, I'll be well enough for them to stick this tube down my throat and/or give me ANOTHER MRI to see if I have an abnormal pancreas, or one with flaws.

If there are no flaws, the doctors will all collectively shrug their shoulders and say, "Hey, these things happen!"

If there ARE flaws, then I get to have this exciting repair session where they stick big long things down my throat.

Obviously, I'm sort of hoping for the "these things happen" explanation...!

Monday, May 14, 2012

You Sunk My Battleship!

Not necessarily because there's a movie coming out, but Daddy did decide to try a game of Battleship with Madison tonight.  Basically, we've done a lot of the other board games a lot lately and we were both willing to try something new.  SO, Daddy looked through the games and found that this was one that had the recommended age group starting at five years old.  Five years old for Battleship already!  That's a sign of a mature, growing child.  It's a point in life where one parent says to another, "Is she old enough to play Battleship?"  "Why, yes," the other responds.  It's just another stage of development, one you'll no doubt be reading about in Parenting books and magazines.  Anyway, we gave it a try - and Madison really did enjoy it once we got moving.  She still has a few concepts to figure out - and in her defense, this Star Wars version is actually a little more complicated than the original.  But she was having fun calling out the spaces to see if she got a hit or not.  In fact, at one point Daddy had to sadly declare - just like in the old commercials:  "You sunk my battleship!"

Although it wasn't technically sunk.  It was a spaceship, so I suppose it was obliterated.

"You're all clear, kid, now let's blow this thing and go home!"
- Han Solo

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Return of Weird Science

Our series Weird Science continued this morning with more fun doing all kinds of experiments.  Last week, we saw people's weights on other planets and did some neat things with dry ice.  This week, we made a volcano and did a little experiment with hydrogen peroxide that you see in this photo attached.  As we talked about "walking by faith and not by sight," we had fun with some neat optical illusions that fool the eyes - it's been a pretty fun series for the kids.  We've even had some showing up in lab jackets, which is pretty neat.  Despite Daddy's condition, things have been going along swimmingly thus far, which is good to see of course.  Madison went to church as well, and had a great time, even making Mommy a Mother's Day card.

Yes, today was Mother's Day.  It's yet another day that Daddy needs to make up for.  He's certainly been down for the count as of late, but at least things do seem to be on the mend.  Tomorrow is a visit to a specialist, which should hopefully give us more detail about how to get better quicker.

Today we did some board games with Madison, and another thing she's been really into for the past week is this:  comics.  Since seeing "The Avengers" last week with Mommy, Daddy has been into reading a few comic books from his collection this week.  A long time ago, I picked up some other comics for a younger audience - ones from the Cartoon Network and some Disney comics as well.  This week, Madison has been very into these comics.  Today, she had Daddy read the "Dexter's Laboratory" comic to her a few times in fact.  There's a particularly funny one with a "Are Too" robot that Dexter creates.  Madison and Daddy have been going back and forth with that one all day.

With Nana and Ba-Ba here, it's been great for Madison.  She's having exciting, full days - despite the tremendous amount of rain we've been getting.  You should have seen it today.  If you were looking for a definition of the word "deluge," today would have nailed it down just right.

Tomorrow will be a little busy with doctor's visits and some work at the old house, but overall nowhere near as long as today.  Sundays are always a little long, starting out quite early and going from there.  Today was one of those days, but it was fun all the way through.  Madison makes it that way!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pancake Junction

This morning Mommy made everything just right - you could hear the whistle of the train, and you just knew it:  we were going to Pancake Junction!  Whenever Nana and Ba-Ba come, there's going to be at least one day where visit the Junction - and everyone was glad to head there this morning.

Whenever we're in for a visit to Tennessee, it seems that they are obsessed with pancakes there.  Restaurants specializing in flapjacks and pancakes dot the horizon, and each one does remarkably well.  It's as if the words "Tennessee" and "pancake" go together hand in hand.  Sort of like when you go to Maine, you have to have a lobster.

Just to say we did it, we usually eat pancakes when in Tennessee, although Madison has not been the biggest fan of them yet.  Go figure!  Here it is, this luxurious little cake thing just smothered with liquid sugar, and yet she's not quite figured it out yet that this is actually a dessert item that you're allowed to eat for breakfast.  Or, in Tennessee, any time at all apparently.

In case you miss the reference to Pancake Junction, that's Kronk up there.  He's the innovator of the concept, which I swear would be a ginormous success if they built one in Tennessee.  We're big fans of Kronk here - in fact, we'll probably watch both the movies with him in it soon as a refresher course.  Mommy and Daddy love those movies, and Madison has enjoyed them too - the last time she saw 'em.  Of course, that'll have to be later.

"Would you mind flipping for me just one flapjack?"
- Alexander Yardley

If you've seen the 1945 movie "Christmas in Connecticut," you know the joke about flipping flapjacks in a pan.  And just to show off, Mommy gave us a show this morning!  She was flipping flapjacks for everyone, getting a big reaction from the crowd in the kitchen.  What a show!  But you know something?  The train whistle is blowing, and that means only one thing...

"All aboard for Pancake Junction!"
- Kronk

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Sun

Madison creates art all the time - and it isn't always the kind where ink, crayon or lead is put to paper.  In this instance above, you can see she's cut out strips of pink and glued them together.  It isn't anything in particular she's creating most of the time - she just likes the design of things.  In this instance, she chose to put a sticker in the middle, and when pressed for a title of her artwork, she called it "The Sun."  So be it!

Today was a mix of work, and a mix of sleep, sleep, sleep.  Daddy has been clinging to this scripture this week, it sort of just hit me upon reading it to Madison last night:

"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep..."  Genesis 2:21

Daddy has been reading from a child's devotional - although the material is still slightly older than Madison, I've been reading the stories and adjusting them a bit for her age.  Last night was the story of Eve, the earth's first princess.  Of course, things sort of go downhill from there, but that's just another opportunity to talk about Jesus, and how he straightened things up for us.

Speaking of which, in prayer tonight, Daddy was really touched by Madison's prayer for him to get better.  She definitely doesn't want him going back to the hospital - she was crying about that thought, so we quickly moved on to establish that Daddy is in fact much better and doesn't need to be away so long.  Madison brightened at this, and so did Daddy!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Music Recital

Tonight was the big night of Madison's piano recital.  She performed without hesitation, actually rushing up to the keyboard to play for the audience - and we were so proud of her!  She played "Mr. Snail," which required the use of two hands, and she did it very well.  Immediately afterwards, she sang a song, "Hide and Seek," as Mrs. Pam played keyboard to accompany her.  The other students performed solos as well, but the evening also had group performances.  For example, the night's production began with all the children singing a song from the original Dr. Doolittle musical.  The grand finale had Madison playing keyboard with a few other children, and the remaining children playing percussion instruments to accompany her.  It was her first orchestra performance, and she did very well.  She was quite comfortable, and not at all nervous.  This may be in part because of all the practice that she's put into the big event - but a lot of credit should also go to Mrs. Pam, who is an excellent teacher, who makes the kids feel quite comfortable as they play or sing.

Tonight, all the grandparents were present in the audience, plus Mommy and Daddy.  It was a short event, but one we were all glad to attend.  Again, Madison did very well and we're so very proud of her!

In fact, afterwards, it was time for an ice cream treat!  Mommy had printed out a coupon for a free Blizzard, so we all went to Dairy Queen after the big event and had ourselves some ice cream.  For the record, Daddy's favorite Blizzard flavor has always been chocolate covered cherry, even though sometimes they don't get the mixing just right.  Madison tried a M&M's Blizzard, and appeared able to eat the entire thing without any problem whatsoever.  You could put her in front of Fudge Mountain, and she'd attempt to eat the entire thing!

Nana and Ba-Ba did quite a bit of work at the old house today, fixing up the garage and more.  Daddy, however, did pretty much nothing.  He's still in recovery mode, and apparently will be for another week.  Symptoms are fatigue and large amounts of soreness still.  Future doctor visits on this Monday will hopefully clear things up further - Mommy made those calls just today.  The two doctors' offices were supposed to do that, but this is the future we face with red tape and so forth.

Speaking of "so forth," we got the hospital bill today, which was staggering of course.  Insurance hasn't stepped in yet, but it's still such a large number to fathom.  It really makes you think about things.  One of the costs was "supplies," which does not include the medicine (that's listed under "pharmacy," I assume).  Anyway, the "supplies" I used at the hospital were over $1,500!  This prompted me to go back and think about the supplies I used, which included a hospital gown, two of those plastic cups, bed sheets, maybe the IV bags, needles for poking, and here I'm scratching my head trying to come up with other "supplies" that could possibly justify $1,500.  Talk about a rip-off!  If you want to narrow down the problem with helping people medically these days, it pretty much comes down to a bill for $1,500 for supplies.  Obviously, if people are paying too much for simple supplies like this, then you know they're paying way too much elsewhere too.  And who actually pays for all of this?  Not me, of course.  But that $1,500 doesn't just go away either, does it?

Today won't be remembered for a silly hospital bill, of course.  Today was Madison's day to shine - she did so well, and we're so very proud of her.  We're her parents, so we can get slightly repetitious on that!

We would converse in polar bear and python, And we could curse in fluent kangaroo. If people asked us, can you speak in rhinoceros, We'd say, "Of courserous, can't you?"

- from "Dr. Doolittle"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Octopus' Garden

This is an octopus, but not any ordinary octopus.  Note the hair!  There is that characteristic curl that Mommy taught her several months ago, which you can see in a lot of Madison's drawings.  If it is a picture of a girl, there'll be that curl in there.  In this case, it is a girl octopus.  And a colorful one at that!

Tonight's bedtime story was hysterical, involving a visit from the Avengers to Madison's school.  Evidently, they got there just in time:  there was an invasion of evil villains with laser guns that turned people into monkeys!  The battle that ensued featured all of the Avengers, to Madison's delight.  Even the Hulk lent a hand, picking up a school bus and hurling it around.

Part of this story may have been inspired by Madison's first exposure to the Powerpuff Girls.  Since we've seen the movie, Daddy has pulled out a few comics from his vast collection.  Forget the informative reading this week:  Daddy has been digging into his old comics for fun.  Along the way, he's pulled out some that were more catered to someone of Madison's age, including a Powerpuff Girls comic based on their old movie.  Madison really enjoyed the comic, and loved it so much we decided to let her watch the movie this evening.  There she was on the couch, holding the comic as if it were some guide to the events going on inside the television.  She'd turn the pages and keep up with the story, and watched the whole thing, amazed.  Mommy and Daddy were always big Powerpuff Girls fans, so it is neat to see Madison so into them.  This won't be the last time we hear from them in this blog!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Field Day

We found this picture on Facebook - it was taken of Madison on Friday at school, during the Field Day.  The weather cleared up just long enough for the kids to have a little fun, and as you can see in the photo above, Madison even got her face painted as a little kitten.

She looks pretty intense in this photo though, doesn't she?  It looks like she's about to tackle somebody or something!

Today we had our last music recital practice, which was actually a run-through with costumes and everything.  Mommy said Madison did very well at practice, which makes me a little less nervous!  She's been practicing nearly every day on the piano, but a change of location can sometimes unravel the best laid plans.  The music recital is Thursday, located at a church nearby.  It seems we've been on a tour of local churches, doesn't it?  The graduation was at a church nearby, and here we are at another one.  Next week's ballet recital won't be at a church, but rather the Aquatic Center.  That makes sense, right?  Have a ballet recital at an aquatic center?

School today went well, although it went quietly.  Only one more week of the regular school year, and things are winding down.  We've signed Madison up for summer school classes, just because we want to keep up with her speech all the way until the first day of kindergarten.  Although this may have been a bummer to Daddy growing up, Madison truly enjoys going to school and making friends.  She'll like school, whereas Daddy always had a hard time liking the "waking up early" part.  He still does, somewhat.

The good news is that Daddy is now sleeping through the night.  The pain is lessening, although the energy levels are supremely low.  The healing process just takes time, pure and simple.  That's what I need, and I should be grateful for the opportunities to rest.  Indeed, tonight I pulled out some comic books and a few other books and just sat in bed, reading.  I feel like such a slouch, but there's no way around it right now.

The worst part of it all is the date itself.  Do you know what today is?  It's Mommy's birthday.  Sure, Daddy and Madison sang "Happy Birthday" to Mommy, but there wasn't much else we could do.  Daddy's been so under the weather lately that he's been under house arrest.  He did send out a request to all his friends to send happy birthday messages to Mommy - at last count, she got over a hundred different messages and emails wishing her a good birthday.  That was very sweet of everyone!

Daddy has promised to make it up to Mommy at a later date, and that we will.  Maybe we can even do something this weekend - it's Mother's Day, you know.  That's a big day you can't miss either!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Madison's Empire

Daddy's most frustrating symptom is sleep:  I've been sleeping all the time lately, completely zonked.  Fortunately, Nana and Ba-Ba are here to entertain Madison somewhat.  Today everyone went over to the old house to do some renovations, and general cleaning up.  Weeds are attempting to take over the front yard, so we'll probably have to call in some folks to do some spraying.  Madison did her part though:  she picked all the dandelions from the front yard, which took a considerable amount of time.  Her goal was to make a ginormous bouquet, which she in fact did.  She gave flowers to all of us, one bit at a time, all with good spirits to cheer us up.

The rain has stayed in the forecast for a few days now, and looks to remain so another few days.  This is good news for the land and the lake, although it isn't good for those who want to get some grass mowed.  Our tomato garden in the back yard has tripled in size.  Yes, you read that right.  It may even be four times as big as it used to be.  All this water has contributed to a major growth spurt in our small garden - it's amazing!

Madison has been into the ponies lately, so all the costumes and ponies have been pulled out and spread all over the kitchen table and even into the living room.  This is Madison's Empire, a vast region that spreads wildly if kept unchecked, much like the Roman Empire.  Mommy and Daddy battle each day to contain the size a bit, but each day Madison's Empire attempts to push out and grow in new directions.  It is a daily struggle!

Tonight Daddy was reading a few books to Madison, one of them being "A Night at the Museum."  It is somewhat different from the movie of the same name, and yet Daddy still thought it would be fun to show Madison the part with the dinosaur skeleton.  So after reading the book, Daddy got Madison to clean up her empire a little, and afterwards we all sat down - Mommy, Daddy, Nana, Ba-Ba and Madison - and watched "A Night at the Museum."  Madison was really into it, especially when the dinosaur skeleton came to life.  Lately, she's been learning about dinosaurs so this was a plus.  But previous to today's reading, she had no idea there was a movie - she only knew about the book.  So she really enjoyed watching.  And in return, we got her to downsize her empire a bit!

"We expand or we die!" - Octavius

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Graduation

Madison had her first graduation ceremony today, and as you can see here she looked quite cute in her cap and gown.  She is posed with her teacher here, Mrs. Julie, who we've grown to like quite a bit.  It has been a remarkable year at school for Madison, who has learned more and more with speech - and other areas as well.  Of course, for us, her speech was the number one issue, and Madison has made great progress in this area.  Though Daddy is sill technically "under the weather" with his pancreas, he wasn't going to miss this for the world.  On hand also were Nana and Ba-Ba, Ye-Ye and Nana, and of course Mommy and Daddy too.  A brief speech began the ceremony, and soon the names were called out one by one.  Madison made her way up the aisle, quite nervous, and received her "diploma," the first of many, I'm sure!  Afterwards, there was a small reception with cake and mingling, but the big event was the ceremony itself:  lots of youngsters in caps and gowns.  It was cute!  Madison got to keep her tassel, which has a "2012" on it.  We'll have that tucked away with her certificate, and of course the dozen or so photos Daddy was snapping along the way.

Today we began at church, the three of us, and we started our new series "Weird Science" in a big way.  We had all kinds of science on stage, so Daddy was happy about the educational aspect, but of course there were a lot of Biblical applications to go along with things.  It was a good day at church, but we had to get out of there quickly in order to get to the graduation ceremony in time.

After the graduation, it was nap time.  Pretty much for everyone though, which made Daddy feel better.  Lately, I've had no energy whatsoever, which is a side effect of not eating.  But still, the body needs time to heal, and that's where lying down and sleeping comes in handy.  That's just what happened this afternoon.  Fortunately, Nana and Ba-Ba were there to have fun with Madison.  She was so happy to see them come - she really does enjoy their company.

Tonight, Mommy and Daddy had a "date night."  We joined a bunch of our friends from the church, and together watched the latest Marvel movie, "The Avengers."  It was really good, and fun to be in good company as we watched the movie together.  Madison can name each one of the Avengers, but is a long way from actually seeing these movies.  Her latest Lego Magazine has them on the cover, so she's interested in who each one is.  Daddy has shown her a few clips on the computer of the movie, so she's got a bit of awareness there too - she's definitely interested.  I might have to go down into the basement and maybe we can look at some of Daddy's old comic books together!

"Ma'am, there's only one God, and I'm pretty sure He doesn't look like that."
- Captain America

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I'll Have Another

Busy time of year for festivals and obscure holidays - today's celebration was Cinco de Mayo, which we didn't do much with sadly.  For one, Daddy's constitution of late has not been able to handle that sort of food.  Which is a shame really, because I do like the spicy stuff.  Madison did watch a bit of "The Three Caballeros" this morning, which is always funny at the end - it's such a normal movie plot line until the very end when it seems the writers sort of went berserk.  You'd have to see it for yourself, actually.

The other event of the day was the Kentucky Derby, which we hope to see in person some time soon.  We did have a few friends go this year, and it must have been neat to see.  A long shot won the contest, and there was lots of atmosphere there, good weather and of course some ridiculous hats.  If we ever went, Daddy would get Mommy some sort of ridiculous hat to wear.  You've got to wear a ridiculous hat if you're at the Kentucky Derby!

Today Nana and Ba-Ba came Florida to visit with us for a while.  The plan was to come later, but when they heard of Daddy's condition, they came a bit sooner to help out a bit.  Plus, as a bonus, they'll get to see Madison do her graduation walk tomorrow afternoon.  Also, they'll get to see her piano recital later on in the week.

Our new series begins tomorrow, Weird Science, so the three of us spent much of the day at church in what preparations we could do.  Madison had an incredible time at the office, playing around with everyone else who was there.  She has unlimited energy, wearing out one employee after another!  Everyone enjoys having her around, and enjoys playing around with her and hearing her laughter fill the office.  Meanwhile, Mommy did the display case and got costuming ready, as Daddy did a bit with the writing, keynote, and printing.  Daddy can't stay too long though - his energy has been pretty low as of late, and the pain keeps coming back.  Give me another week though, and I'll hopefully be back to normal.

Madison enjoyed "Star Wars" immensely last night.  She's been talking about it on and off today for quite a bit - in fact, when she was serving up her play ice cream, she'd make a serving for Daddy, and then set a place for her new friend Chewbacca.  He likes banana ice cream, apparently.  When finished, he sort of roared a bit.  Madison wanted to know what that mean exactly.  At which point, Daddy translated:  "I'll have another!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Star Wars Day

So here we are upon another Star Wars Day.  This one started out like any ordinary day, as Daddy and Mommy tried to get some work done at the office (before Daddy's current health situation sort of said otherwise).  We dropped by the school this morning for a dinosaur-related field day that was sadly put in bad shape because of the sudden downpour of water.  Seriously, this morning's rainfall was heavy and epic, almost like a downburst you'd see upon Dagobah.  Had to throw that reference in there.

Still, we dropped by for a doughnut with some other parents and looked at all the kids having a good time no matter what the weather was like outside.  Madison has a neat t-shirt with a troodon on it, part of the idea gathered from Mommy's creativity.  The entire class was Team Troodon, which again is a dinosaur I'd never heard of before.

Leave it to Jim Henson productions to let me know how out of touch I was with dinosaur research:  they have a television show called Dinosaur Train that we just recently discovered, and of course the entire train is run by troodons.  Why not compys or a large friendly styracosaurus?  I think it was set up to rub in how little I know about dinosaurs.  Of course, now that we've discovered this show, Madison likes watching it.  Daddy hasn't seen it yet, but will give you the full report some other time.

Tonight's viewing is a legendary moment.  It was actually Mommy's idea, but being that today is in fact Star Wars Day, why not actually watch "Star Wars?"  Daddy began to try and figure out which movie in particular, but Mommy cleared it up quickly:  why not start at the beginning?  Okay, not Episode I.  The beginning for all of us was Episode IV, the movie released in 1977.  We may censor a bit, but Daddy can't remember too many over-the-top moments.  It'll be a big day, as Madison will see the movie that Daddy watched over and over and over again as a kid.  I remember the huge lines to see it in the theater, the commotion and costumes and the action figures and the fun.  I was about six years old when I first saw it, which is about a year more than Madison.  Never before had anything been seen on the screens like it - you can imagine how big it was for us as kids.  It won't be the center of Madison's universe, obviously, but it is neat to see her so into it.  Already, she's a big fan of R2-D2 and Chewbacca!

May the fourth be with you!

"I don't know what all this trouble is about, but I'm sure it must be your fault." 
- C-3PO

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wookie Cookies

Tomorrow's the big day for Star Wars geeks, so tonight we prepared by creating our very own Wookie Cookies.  Okay, so that term is probably describing another type of cookie, but still, these Star Wars themed cookies turned out rather well.  Madison, Mommy and Daddy had fun in the cantina tonight, cooking up a batch to bring in to the office tomorrow.

Our friend Josh got us the cookie cutters for Christmas, and we're just now getting around to trying them out.  Check out the description on the box:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a jedi master chef used the force to create dynamic gear for the kitchen.  These amazing tools, known as "cookie cutters," had the power to transform ordinary cookie dough into a delectable cast of galactic characters.

Today, even the youngest padawan bakers will have fun using these very same cookie cutters to create legendary Star Wars personalities - including Yoda, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a garrison of stormtroopers.

Equipped with a spring-loaded stamp, the cutters are as swift and precise as lightsabers - and a lot easier to work with.  Use the edges to shape your cookie, then gently press the stamp into the dough to create imprinted detailing.  After the cookies come out of the oven, bring your characters to life with colorful decorations - and let the adventure begin.  May the force be with you!

Isn't that fun?  We had a great time with the cookies tonight, and even munched on a few.  Madison ate Darth Vader's head.

I think one of the highlights of the day may have been Madison's prayer tonight.

"Jesus, I love you.  Tonight we made Star Wars Cookies.  In Jesus' Name, Amen."

We were sitting there smiling, so Daddy sort of repeated what she said because it was funny.  At which point Madison blurted out, "Hey, you said the same thing as me.  That was my  prayer!"