Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Day at Beach

Quite some time ago, Madison and Daddy went for a walk outside the Hollywood Hotel in Hong Kong.  We were able to see the South China Sea from there, although Madison probably doesn't remember that at all.  Daddy himself barely remembers it - but that's the closest Madison has been to the sea in her life so far.  Even then, she didn't go down to the beach or anything - we were just at a point where we could see out into the ocean.

Following this blog, you'd be surprised to realize that Madison has never been to the ocean before today.  We've been to Florida many, many times - and very close to the ocean each trip.  But our journeys south have always led us to Ba-Ba and Nana's house, or Disney World - and not the beach.

That is, until today.  Today we arrived at Port Canaveral a little later in the day, and had ourselves a few hours to spare.  We left Ba-Ba and Nana's house later in the afternoon, having filled our tummies with a big breakfast and having watched some more Olympic games.  Madison was watching kayaking with Daddy, and then beach volleyball, and more swimming... and so on.  You get the drift:  we've been hooked on the Olympics.

But we did actually leave the house after a time, and made the quick trip down to Canaveral, stopping at a squillion toll booths along the way.  We went through some pretty dramatic storms as we traveled, but God's grace was over us the trip down, and we were quite safe despite some very heavy downpours.

Finally, we saw the ocean - Madison looked out the window and saw it again, but we didn't see the Disney Dream yet.  Apparently, it will arrive in the morning.

We got our stuff settled in our hotel, which was very nice.  It's only a few miles from the terminal, and it even had a pirate-themed bedroom for Madison.  And yes, a television set to watch the Olympics on. But we were at the beach, and there would be no television watching now:  indeed, it was time to set off to see the sea!

We went to the Cocoa Beach Pier, which was wonderful.  Parking was free, for example.  There was in fact a pier there, upon which was a restaurant that had a nice view of the beach and ocean.  We all ate there, Mommy and Daddy of course ordering some seafood.  Madison of course ordering fries and ketchup!

After that, it was time to attack the waves!  Madison was quite anxious to go to the beach and play in the waves, and we were too.  She held Mommy's hand at first, letting the water rush up around her ankles.  But then she became a bit bolder, having fun trying to jump over the waves.  It was a lot of fun simply watching her, although Daddy had to step in frequently to make sure she didn't go too far.  We didn't intend to get soaking wet, but nevertheless, we did:  Daddy and Madison were drenched in salt water!

It was a quick trip to the beach, but a memorable one - Madison enjoyed it immensely.  Can't say that enough.  An approaching thunderstorm cut things a bit short, but we needed the rest anyway.  We fled to the car just in time, and went back to the hotel with full tummies, and another exciting memory created.

Back at the hotel, we rested - sort of.  We certainly cleaned up.  Madison's room had a DVD player in it, so she popped in a Disney princess movie while Daddy watched some more Olympics.  Once every four years, Daddy becomes a sports addict:  when else can you watch handball or fencing?  Tonight's Olympics performance was the girls team in gymnastics.  USA dominated to the point you felt sorry for other teams - but there are so many sports and games that everyone has a chance to win.  Still, you love cheering for the home team!

We went to bed late, after Michael Phelps won another gold medal, and tried to get a good night's sleep.  Lots of excitement about tomorrow!

Monday, July 30, 2012


That seems to be Madison's newest expression.  She'll then teach you afterwards that it means hello and goodbye.  She says it a lot lately, and today she said it loudly as we arrived at Ba-Ba and Nana's house once more.

It was an easy drive down to Florida today, although we did start later than usual.  Daddy took the car in this morning to make sure it was healthy enough for the trip, and Mommy got things ready on her end, finishing up her packing.

The weather was ideal, although there were a few patches of rain here or there.  No traffic at all, hardly.  This morning we went through Atlanta, and Madison saw the Olympic torch from 1996.  Actually, there are two torches - one is closer to the road and only a sculpture.  The other one she saw as well, the real deal.

Right afterwards, she asked the world-famous question:  "Are we there yet?"  It wasn't exactly phrased that way, but you get the gist.  She said, "Are we at Ba-ba/Nana's house?"  The humor in this question is in the repetition.  Kids ask that question over and over again throughout a longer drive.  This hasn't happened at all with Madison - until today.  It was funny.  And, of course, by laughing at her, this sort of encouraged her to do it some more.  So... we heard the question about a squillion times today.

We stopped at the Florida Welcome Center, as is our usual custom - and had ourselves some free orange juice.  This is a great tradition that goes back a LONG ways for us.  I think I remember doing this as a kid too - along I-95, during those great treks to Florida.

After calculating a bit, we decided against going to the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow, as that would make things pretty rushed.  Instead, we'll head over to Cape Canaveral and chill.  We'll get to spend more time here with Ba-ba and Nana, and also sleep in a bit.  If we have time, we'll head to the beach with Madison - it'll be her first time with ocean water waves, so we're all a bit excited about that.

In the meantime, it was time to rest:  Daddy put up his feet on the new furniture in their house, and watched the Olympics for a while.  A long while, actually - there's something quite addictive about the Games!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Change of Plans

Another fabulous day at KidPak as we wrapped up our Olympic-themed series, "Go the Distance."  Actually, the last service is this Wednesday, but Madison, Mommy and Daddy will be on a boat by that time, sailing off to sea.

Speaking of which, today was largely a packing day.  The original plan was to drive down after church, but there was so much work to be done beforehand and Daddy had another very long night in preparation.  So, we decided to play it safe and stay at home, getting a good night's rest.

Still, there's a lot excitement around here.  Tomorrow, we'll drive down to Florida to see Ba-Ba and Nana again, spending just a little time with them before launching off to sea.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Superstar Dance Camp

Here might be a good point to talk about the dance camp that Madison attended this week - as you can see here, she had such a great time.  We were a little worried at the beginning, but by week's end, it was apparent we'll be seeing more of this teacher and studio.  Here's another photo from the week:

One neat things about the class was the extra stuff:  t-shirts, crafts, photos, costuming and even a final performance at the end of the week.  Daddy couldn't make this one, but of course Mommy was there to enjoy it.  And Madison enjoyed it too!  She had a great week at dance camp, so much so that we signed her up for classes this year - they'll immediately follow her piano classes, which follow regular school classes - talk about a busy schedule!

Today Daddy was working a lot, while Madison and Mommy were doing a bit of packing and preparations of their own.  The good news of the day may be this:  we are selling our old house, finally.  We'll break even, barely, but at least we'll be moving on from that chapter of our lives.  Emotionally, we've all moved on, but technically we've still owned that property.  Now, we can clear things up a bit. We signed some paperwork again, pretty much sealing the deal.  Things aren't official until after next week, but wow, what timing.  This old house is going to make a new family very happy.  Just like it did with us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Steampunk Olympics

Wow - the opening part of the Olympic Ceremonies tonight were pretty cool.  Steampunk all the way, which is something we're big fans of actually.  There was a lot of creative costuming from the age of steam, with that hint of Victorian era thrown in for good measure.  Gears and metal grinded, and smokestacks rose up, towering over the industrial landscape below.  Thousands of workers moved together as one, pouring the molten liquid into a shape that everyone would not forget:

The Olympic Rings.  It was a dazzling introduction that we all enjoyed watching, which almost for a moment made us forget how unbeatable the Beijing Opening Ceremonies were.  To add to the awesomeness, shortly afterwards there was a stirring rendition of "Chariots of Fire," featuring a very famous keyboardist:

Mr. Bean!  He was responsible for that one note that gets repeated quickly throughout the entire piece. Boredom for him sets in pretty quickly, however, and so did the humor for us.  It was easily one of the highlights of the evening.  But from there on, we sort of lost some momentum.  Perhaps we're so partial to the Chinese Olympics - I don't know.  Mommy didn't quite get the giant Voldemort nightmare coming in as children slept in white glowing beds - nor the army of Mary Poppins that swooped in to battle off an army of dark demon thingies.  Now that I've reread that last sentence, I'm not quite so sure of it either.  It was decent, but the following bit with a house and a dedication to the internet via an enormous musical medley that lasted forever... that sort of missed the mark at our place.  It was okay, but again:  what could compare to Beijing?

By this point, Madison was upstairs playing with Hannah!

There were other bright points throughout the evening, including the parade of nations and the lighting of the cauldron.  It was neat seeing the thing lit, having just held one of the torches along the relay.

Tonight was fun - it was good to be over at Ye-Ye and Nana's house, with all the other family too.  Each person was responsible for bringing one food item from another country - or at least resembling that of another country: Aunt Shain's attempt at haggis was admirable.  Nana played on their record player Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," which had an Olympic sound to it!  And so we said together, "Let the games begin!"

The place mats were courtesy of Aunt Shain, who made out of pieces of felt all the nations of the world, and there were various decorations all about, including a vuvuzela - and yes, the Olympic rings hanging high over the porch!

It was a fun night for everyone, and a great time together watching a big historic moment.  Each of these is historic - only happening every four years.  The next time Madison sees one will be in 2016 - the Olympics in Brazil.  She'll be ten years old then - which is quite a bit to think about, actually.  The other bit to think about are the costumes in Brazil... hopefully they'll wear more than they usually do!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nesting Dolls

For a while, the only thing I thought of when hearing the word "mamushka" was the Addams Family.  Do you remember that scene from the first movie, where Gomez and Uncle Fester do this outrageous dance number?  For years, we would shout this out for no apparent reason.  Part of it may have been our work at the amusement park, where an Addams Family pinball game rested.  It was an epic pinball game - probably my favorite ever - and one of the bonus games included was called "The Mamushka!"  We'd hear Raul Julia's voice cry out over and over again:  "The Mamushka!"

They danced a dance of brotherly love called the mamushka, and all was well in the world.  We still enjoy the movie to this day.  But a few years later, we ran into  shop called Babushka in the Mall of America in Minnesota.  This was a store in the mall that sold entirely matryoska dolls - or nesting dolls.  They look like this:

Can you believe it?  This is obviously at a time where our economy was booming.  How on earth can a store survive in a mall selling only nesting dolls?  It was quite surreal to say the least - you could probably only find a place inside the Mall of America.  We had to go in.  And of course, we had to yell out, "The Babushka!"  Yes, we had a really fun time yelling out "Babushka!"  At least until the people who owned the store asked us to leave...

Anyway, fast forward to today.  Or, at least when we met Madison.  That is, after all, what this blog is about!  Madison actually has three sets of nesting dolls in the house.  One is the real deal, something like you see above.  Another is a set is one that we got in China while we were there.  We picked it up in the Beijing Zoo, and it looks pretty much like this:

Yes, the pandas were the reason for being at the zoo, and Mommy always liked nesting dolls.  We have these on display in her room with all the other pandas.  Madison actually has quite a few pandas in her room - from Pez to stuffed animals to books and movies.  But the nesting dolls were a big part of Madison's early television watching too:

She still watches the Higglytown Heroes from time to time, and yes, she has a set of nesting dolls that looks pretty much like you see above.  It's a fun set, and a fun show.  The squirrel is by far the favorite character in the bunch.

Today, Nana and Ba-Ba returned home a bit earlier than scheduled - back to Florida.  But we'll see them in just a few short days as we head down there ourselves.  So no worries there.  The trip was just as easy and uneventful, so we're certainly grateful for that.

Meanwhile, Madison continued her classes and Daddy continued his work.  Earlier though, we made a trip to our virtual Disneyland.  Madison earned it, having played her piano enough to get a Mom-buck. She spent it wisely on a trip to Disneyland for the Kinect.  The two of us were jumping and dancing, actually still discovering a few new things.  The game has a whole lot more to discover, but we're slow moving with this one.  It's been fun though!

You may be curious about how we ended the evening, or more curious about how the subject of nesting dolls came up.  Well, Mommy and Daddy watched "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" again, and we saw that great tesla coil music scene again - and also the "grimhold."

Yep, it's a big ol' nesting doll.  He's a little dark though.  In fact, they're all bad guys, so we'll probably not be adding this one to our collection.  Besides, who would want to risk opening one?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


     Madison doesn't quite grasp what she has in her hands - or wait a minute?  I guess because she's holding it, she really does grasp what she has in her hands.  It's the official Olympic torch for the 2012 Torch Relay.  This torch was just used last week to pass the flame along that will light the Olympic cauldron in a few days!

     Here's Madison posing with the guy who made this evening all responsible.  His name is Gerry, and he is related to someone we know at church.  She talked to him and he said he'd be delighted to come see us one night at the church.  He even wore his official uniform, as you can see above - and below.

Pretty much all of us were posing with Gerry. He had a good point:  we're all posing with the torch.  He just happens to be in the picture too.  But the thing is this:  Gerry was an incredible guy.  He posed with so many children tonight after service, and he spent a good amount on stage sharing his experiences and even talking about how important it is for we as Christians to carry the light of the world.  It was a spectacular night for everybody, and a pretty big thrill to have him there for our Olympic series.  In just a few days, the Olympics start.  Madison might not grasp, er I mean understand what it is exactly she was holding, but we'll show her on the television soon enough.  And someday she'll get to look back and think that was pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No Cheating!

Madison and Ba-Ba were playing cards again - this seems to be Madison's favorite activity when they arrive.  Ba-Ba doesn't let anything slip, so no cheating!  Although Madison had better pay close attention herself:  one time she marched over to the kitchen and announced to all of us, "Ba-Ba is cheating!"

Daddy had an endoscopy, which isn't pronounced exactly like you'd think it would be.  They drained 70 cc's of fluid out of a cyst that was around/nearby my pancreas, although I won't know any specifics about my condition until later.  Although 70 cc's sounds impressive, I think we measured it to be around 1/3 a cup.  Which makes me think, why can't all medical measurements be like that?  Doctors could add two cups of medicine with a pinch of iodine, and stir vigorously.  Actually, the unit of measurement "cc" is pretty much a milliliter.  Which would make things simpler too, wouldn't they?  If you're already on the metric system with "cubic centimeters," why not make the simple jump to an appropriate measurement of volume, the milliliter?

So anyway, they put a camera down my throat.  Way down my throat.  To my pancreas, wherever that is exactly...  and then it was drained.  All this was done while I was fast asleep.  I woke up and didn't feel any differently, to be honest.  Except the groggy part.

Hopefully we'll see an end to this chapter soon, as it's somewhat old and somewhat dull.  The pain gets on my nerves more than it actually hurts.  It's an annoying throb - which would be an excellent name for a rock band:  "The Annoying Throb."

Work has been great about letting me go off and have adventures at the hospital.  And so has Mommy. She stayed with me the whole time, although she didn't watch the procedure itself.  I'm not sure if anyone other than the staff there could handle that.  I mean, yuk!

Today was in fact a pretty massive work day.  Lots to do in order to go on vacation!  I got to skype with Mommy and Madison just before bed - also with Nana and Ba-Ba too.  It was a pretty late night at work, but I got a lot done.

MEANWHILE, Madison is having a great time with Nana and Ba-Ba.  They've been playing games together, and she and Velcro have been really hitting it off as well.  Ballet camp continued today too - again with a little tap.  And very little air conditioning.  Seriously, it's like 90 degrees in there.  But Madison is having a very fun time with everyone, and drinking lots of fluids too.

All in all, today was a pretty mundane sort of day.  Oh yeah, everybody did go to Goodwill this afternoon, which is always a big treat for the gang.  I have no idea what was purchased, but I'm sure it was bought at a great discount.  Tuesdays are Goodwill days for senior citizens, so Nana and Ba-Ba are obliged to make that journey each Tuesday they're up here.  It's a pilgrimage!

It has been ridiculously hot outside.  Nothing to do outside but go inside, which is generally a good strategy.  I employed it all day.  The weather looks like it might change by the weekend, which cannot get here soon enough - in more ways than one.  But still, tomorrow has something exciting later on in the evening...

Monday, July 23, 2012


Okay, so the picture above pretty much sums up any feelings about Chick-Fil-A and the second amendment.  Seriously though, a few years ago, we saw this artist in Orlando, and Daddy loves this look a lot.  The artist's name is Simone Legno, and the company's name is "tokidoki," which means "sometimes" in Japanese.  According to a website, the meaning is more like this:  "tokidoki is the hope, the hidden energy that everyone has inside. It gives us the strength to face a new day and dream about something positive and the hope that something magical will happen to us"

Madison likes the look too.  Just wait until she hears that they have a Tokidoki Marvel characters!

Speaking of Thor, the lightning seems to be gone as of late.  Now we're in a pattern of hot, hot, hot again.  Not quite 106 like before, but still it's 97.  We'll be heading back to Florida one week from today, but it feels like Florida heat right now, right here.  It's HOT!

Daddy has been working a bit to get everything caught up enough to go on a vacation in the first place - one thing we did this morning was vote early.  It was so convenient.  First of all, Daddy did a lot of research about all the candidates - it took about two hours to finalize who we were voting for and why. Finally, we printed out cheat sheets and headed over to the library, which is only a few miles away.  The whole process there took only a few minutes, and we got to bring back a couple "I Voted" stickers for Madison.  You know, the kind with peaches on them?  Yes, they'd be better if they had "Moofia" characters on them (see above).  But Madison was delighted nonetheless:  she immediately stuck them on Nana and Ba-Ba.

Today was actually our first day of ballet camp.  We went to a new studio here in Gainesville, and apparently there is no air conditioning there.  Waiting for things to start, I lost six pounds.  Who need sauna therapy?  But seriously, these new classes we're willing to give a chance (despite a few communication problems).  Madison enjoyed the camp a lot, as it features a bit of tap dancing, ballet and other dancing too.  Meanwhile, Daddy and Mommy snuck out and did some - get this - Christmas shopping!  You read that right.  And this wasn't actually the first time we've done it this year.  Mommy and Daddy have already got a few things for Madison for Christmas, so this year we'll be more prepared than ever!

Tonight, the grown-ups watched Sherlock Holmes - Nana and Ba-Ba hadn't seen that yet.  Daddy is still working on his "School Days" devotional.  Day twenty is down, and only eight to go!

Madison had a nightmare.  She woke up and we were worried.  We asked her what it was about, and of course we're thinking all these dire thoughts.  She said that Green Lantern was trapped.  Okay, so this is what wakes her up at night?  We smiled when we heard this, relieved it was such a mundane dilemma that worried her enough to rouse her from her slumber.  I don't like nightmares of any kind, but don't you wish you had the simplistic mind of a child?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Built This

Madison built a lego snowman, but she's built a whole lot of other stuff lately playing Lego Star Wars.  It's been one of those afternoons - Daddy was pretty wiped out from lack of sleep the last few days, so this afternoon when it was playtime, we sat and had fun with our favorite lego characters again.  Madison is loving Princess Leia and pretty much anything related to Star Wars.  When she was out with Mommy, she had a choice of lunch boxes and really wanted the one that had clone troopers all over it.  We decided to wait a bit on that though - later on we'll pick up one that's a bit more girlish.  After the cruise, she'll probably be more into the princesses again, or at least Minnie Mouse.  Minnie is always in fashion.

Well, today it stopped raining.  Finally.  Not that I was complaining so much about the downpours.  We were a little freaked out by the violence of the lightning all week long - it was pretty epic.  Many a transformer was blown, and lots of trees and branches have fallen this week.

Today though, was just plain hot.  It's a return to that kind of weather again, and to be honest, I'd rather have the rain.  Ninety-five degrees is just too much.  Perhaps that's why I was so glad to return to Hoth with Madison after church (see picture above).  At least we could imagine what it is like to have snow on the ground again!

This morning's service was a good one again, featuring this time an arsenal of vuvuzelas.  Daddy was fixated on having them in a service, and today's was just the ticket.  It was such an unusual skit, but a funny one too.  The message was good too - this has been a great series for messages.  One really neat thing about the Olympic theme this month:  we're having a guy here on Wednesday who actually carried the torch with him!  Madison will be here for that, and hopefully I can get her to pose with the real torch.  If not, that's okay!

Well, today was the big day that Nana and Ba-Ba returned from Florida!  Their drive was uneventful, which are always the best kind.  They made it here quickly, and Madison was so happy to see them. She's been counting down the days, or at least the "sleeps."  Last night, there was just one more sleep until they arrived.  We sat and talked for quite a bit about things, doing a lot of catching up.  Also on the agenda:  Snap!  Madison immediately goes to get the card games and starts playing with Ba-Ba and Nana.  SNAP!  She has such a great time, laughing very hard the whole time.  She really does love them a whole lot.

Nana has some doctor's appointments this week, but so does Daddy actually!  As soon as Saturday comes along, Nana and Ba-Ba are heading home - and we'll be following them on Sunday!  We're REALLY looking forward to that!

"I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain." 
- Princess Leia

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Typing of the Dead

So the theme of the day was apparently zombies.  We weren't necessarily singing the song by The Cranberries, but Daddy's high school friends were over to visit today in order to celebrate a few birthdays.  One of the guys turns 40, in fact, which did not go unnoticed by his wife, who put together a surprise party back in White County that had the theme of ... you guessed it... zombies.  I have no idea why.

But it just so happens that we were playing a couple of zombie games today.  These are games that Daddy does not regularly play.  Mommy and Daddy aren't ones to invest much in the horror genre.  Except for one game, and that is "The Typing of the Dead."  This one is a classic - and old game that features plenty of zombies.  Here's the catch:  your character is armed with computer keyboards, as you see here in this picture below.

Suddenly a zombie appears!  In front of him are random sentences, like "I don't have to go shopping anymore," and "I was on my last piece of raisin toast, when I made a startling discovery."  The object is to type them on your keyboard as fast as you can - before the zombie gets to you!

It's a pretty epic game, obviously.  And really hilarious!  Things get so tense as this massive monster is bearing down on you, and you're desperately trying to type out "The other day I saw this anteater.  He was really overweight."

Here's a photo that Madison took herself - it's of Daddy's friend Alan, who appears as if he just saw a zombie himself!  Alan and Daddy go back a long ways, and it was good to have he and the other friends over for a bit.  They enjoyed Madison's company, each playing games with her and letting her have her turns with the video games.  Although no games with zombies while she was around:  it was largely Street Fighter games, which she really likes for some apparent reason!

Daddy downloaded the pictures on her small camera a little later, and found a couple pictures also taken today with her camera.  Here's one that Daddy took when Madison asked him to snap a photo:

And here's another self-portrait she took using the camera:

It's a neat little camera!  She'll probably be bringing it with her next week on the cruise.  There'll be no zombies there!

I hope...

Q: What do vegetarian zombies like to eat? 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bane's Back

The villain of the hour is back today with a new Batman movie, but the above version of Bane is the only one Madison is going to know about for many years.  In celebration of this character's fascination with backs and spinal injuries, we decided to make another trip to the chiropractor today.  Daddy actually took off of work halfway through the day to make the trip over to Cumming with Mommy and Madison - we got there just in time.  Madison loves having fun with Doc Williams, who cracks and crunches all of us - in no way at all as Bane would.  Still, with Daddy's recent pancreas troubles, things were a little different this visit.  We had to be a little more delicate with Daddy!

This spot paid for Bane's Chiropractic Offices 
"No Bane, No Gain!"
Afterwards, we all went to Steak n' Shake for lunch.  It was nice getting to eat with the family for a quick meal, but Daddy unfortunately had to get back to work afterwards.  It'll be a pretty late night getting things wrapped up here, but that's just the way it usually is before going off on any vacation.  Sometimes it makes the vacation all that much sweeter!

Okay, time to get back to work:  break's over!

"I broke you once, and I can break you again. I am here to be king."
- Bane

Thursday, July 19, 2012


They may be banned at the London 2012 Games, but the sound of the vuvuzela was loud and clear in our house today, thanks to Madison.  We received about five in the mail this afternoon, with the hope of using them in a skit sometime pretty soon.

They really are annoying, and long too.  Not really sure why you'd want to bring one to any sporting event - other than for the express purpose of being in on the joke.  At least, I have to assume it's a joke: these things make loud, annoying noises.  Let's just stick with the cowbells... that is, unless those are banned too.

Tonight, Madison got to spend some time with Ye-Ye and Nana, as Mommy and Daddy had our date night.  We got a free invitation to see a play with one of our friends in it - she played an Oklahoma oil heiress in a production of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

It's been years since we've seen this movie, but it was a good one.  The play was good too - the cast did a great job with the material.  It was interesting turning it into a musical, and everyone involved in the production made it work well.  Tonight was an interesting night:  earlier we mentioned it was free.  The reason for this was that certain people were invited to tonight's show to see the dress rehearsal performance.

The show officially starts tomorrow, but we were blessed to get to go see it early, and at no charge!  Again, despite it being a dress rehearsal, everyone there did a fantastic job.  We really enjoyed the evening, and in fact are looking to find a copy of the old movie now!

"May I take your trident, sir?" - Arthur

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Today was a pretty epic work day for Daddy, as most Wednesdays tend to be.  Madison did make a cameo at work with Mommy - and cameo is probably the best word to use for this reason:  she had an appearance in another video filmed at church.  This video is actually not going to be used in children's church though - it's for the main sanctuary.  It's something about a "shield of faith,"and Pastor wanted to have a video of two kids playing with swords and shields.  So the media department called us up to get swords, shields and Madison.  They asked for her, and for another young boy we all know.  Together, they played with their swords and shields - and did some posing too - all in front of a camera for about fifteen minutes or so.  Hopefully you'll see that video on this blog sometime soon, whenever we see it ourselves!

The fighting theme didn't stop though, as today we were talking about Olympic Boxing in our message.  It was a pretty good message we developed, comparing a certain boxer from the late eighties/early nineties to Samson, the warrior who had it all together in the ring - but no discipline outside the ring.

No, we're not talking about Balrog (above).  But the boxer does sort of look like him.  Speaking of Balrog, Madison and Daddy played a little "Street Fighter II" today on the cabinet in the basement.  I love that thing.  So does Madison:  she beat Daddy again.  Running upstairs to Mommy, she proudly announced, "I beat Daddy two times.  He beat me once!"

Speaking of "boxing," we've tried out the Kinect Boxing again.  This is a great split-screen activity that surprisingly can tire you out pretty quickly!  No controllers - just hands.  You duck, weave, bob - and then you jab and give great big hooks.  Madison and Daddy faced the television, and went head to head against each other with Kinect Boxing.  Yes, Madison wins at this too.  It might be her formidable size, or lightning fast south paw.  Whatever it is, she jumps up and down gleefully when Daddy gets floored.

Tonight's message went pretty well, actually.  Before closing down here for the night, here's a quick description of what it was we spoke on:

     Getting the gold medal in boxing is no easy task.  It requires quite a bit of endurance, stamina and the eye of the tiger!  Winners stand on the podium, hands raised high in a well-deserved victory. 
      It takes discipline to go out and win that battle, but the key to a winning life goes well beyond the ring.  That’s where you need discipline the most!
      In our Bibles, a guy named Samson was a champion.  He had unbelievable talent and skill – a fighter unlike any other in history.  Our Bibles tell us how he defeated countless opponents time and again, the super punch-out king.  But this heavyweight champ was no prizefighter when he was off the battlefield.  All it took was a woman named Delilah to do what none of those other knockout kings could do.  She slipped in with a Philistine counterpunch that Samson couldn’t block!  She dazzled him with fancy footwork, jabbed here and there, and finally took him down with one big hook.  Pretty soon, Samson was a TKO, a technical knockout! 
      In today’s headlines, the story hasn’t changed much, has it?  Inside the ring, our heroes are victorious!  But outside the ring, the greatest heavyweights can fall flat on their faces as the crowd gasps.  If only these athletes had just as much discipline outside the ring as they do inside. 
      If only they listened to their manager!  Before you become a ringside judge, take a look at yourself, and your own life.  Are you listening to your manager, your Heavenly Father?  If you are, you can duck and weave temptation.  If not, you’re no doubt heading for a major fall.
      Life lasts more than nine rounds – are you a champion in and out of the ring?   Listen to your manager, and keep that discipline in all areas of your life.  Or, better said by one of the greatest fighters of all time:  “Fight the good fight.”

“I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air.” 
1 Corinthians 9:26 NIrV

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Madison was quite kinetic today, a bundle of raw energy that exploded all throughout the day.  Sometimes you blame it on sugar, or being too tired - in this case it was neither.  She was just plain wired!  When Daddy got home he and Madison gave Mommy a little break by going to the library - why, you ask?  Well, Madison finished her fifty book goal, and she got to get a free book!  She picked an "Olivia" book, and got a certificate, and her name on a star on the wall.  She put it there, towards the bottom.  She also got a plastic bat ring, which might be her favorite gift of all (as soon as the free stickers are all used up!).

You may be wondering what these photos are on this entry today - they're photos that Madison herself took.  Yep, Daddy had left the photobooth program open on the computer, and along came Madison.  She actually took about a dozen photos of herself using the different filters.  Later on, Mommy and Daddy found these and laughed - she actually did a good job.  These are two of Daddy's favorites from the collection.

Rain, rain, rain.  We need it and we'll take it.  The air outside feels so humid, like we're on Dagobah.  Which happens to be a planet I've been to, of course.  The windows everywhere - at church, here and in other buildings - are all fogged up with condensation as if we all live in greenhouses.  It's the other way around, of course.  The greenhouse is outside, and we've all got our normal air conditioning on:  it's just so humid outside that you can't see through the windows.

Today's harvest of tomatoes was HUGE.  We're talking ginormous!  Lots and lots and lots of tomatoes.  You should see 'em!  Even Madison can't eat them all in one sitting - and that girl can pack 'em in.  She'll eat those tomatoes first and fast - you should see her with tomatoes.

Today was a big work day for Daddy again, but we did have time to spend with each other in the evening.  Madison went to bed early - we were thinking she was really tired or something.  Like I said, it was one of those days where she was bouncing off the walls!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Night at the Opera

Here's a photo of Mommy and Daddy on their way to the opera, although not from today.  This happens to be a few years ago, before we met Madison.  Yesterday's synchronized swimming routine featured a little operatic music, which sort of got Daddy listening to some more opera music later on, which in itself reminds me of a few of the operas we've attended in the past.

Yes, we've spent a night at the opera.  This picture above was taken just before seeing "Turandot," which may be the only opera we've seen twice.  That one song alone is worth the price of admission:  "Nussun Dorma."  The other favorite opera is "La Boheme."  Evidently we're fans of Puccini.

Like with any performance, there are good operas and bad ones.  We've seen both, but no matter our opinion of the production, it's always a ritzy sort of feeling going out to see the opera.  Everyone dresses up, and it's fun to mingle and listen to others bragging about seeing this opera in Rome, or that other opera in San Francisco.

We ourselves are not quite that sophisticated.  It's more of a passing interest than an obsession, as evidenced by the fact that we have not actually attended an opera in quite a few years.  Having Madison with us also is a factor, of course.  Years before her, Ye-Ye and Nana had season opera tickets that they'd share with us from time to time.  They themselves are big opera fans, and passed along the blessing to us.  Daddy was a tiny bit skeptical to begin with, but is always up for something new and interesting - and certainly cultural.  So we went, and actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  It really helps that there's a translator so you can have an idea of what's going on!

As for Madison, someday we'll take her too.  But that will be quite a few years from now by my estimate!

Today was a quiet day, although not in the skies.  We're in an interesting weather pattern of intense humidity and very loud storms.  Reports of wind damage have been frequent, and the grass in everyone's lawn is getting higher because of all the water - and lack of time to go out there and mow.

We went by the children's dentist again with Madison, which was an easy trip - although we do have to return in a few days to get a filling.  Madison's teeth have a shape similar to Daddy's in that there are places that a toothbrush can't reach.  It doesn't matter how much you brush, which means we're grateful to have check-ups as we did today.  We're keeping an eye on the loose tooth, of course.  Also, molars are coming in, which means we have to floss more as some of these teeth get pressed together.  It's like the continental drift, but with teeth.

Which was a terrible segue to the movie we saw afterwards, "Ice Age 4."  We made the drive over to Cumming to see yet another new movie, which officially puts us in the theater more this summer than I can remember being in many years.  One reason we've been going to the movies more:  the price.  This theater in Cumming has matinee movies for only $5.00.  So we go to see first-run movies at a much cheaper price, along with a lot of other people too apparently.  The theater has been packed each time we've gone!  It's a great situation:  the overall price we pay is enough for a free ticket, pretty much.

As for the movie itself, it was okay.  Madison enjoyed it a lot, and we were all glad to go and have time together at the movies.  Beforehand, we used some of our coupons to go to Cracker Barrel, where we got a nice meal - and we picked up some candy from their store.  Yummy!  Throughout the movie, we were munching on candy we smuggled in to the theater.

Tonight before bed, there was time for more piano practice, and time for some Lego Star Wars too.  It was that kind of day.  Nothing like going to the opera, of course.  But we did stay up late playing games:  nussun dorma!

"Two Sloths, a mammoth and a saber? You guys are like the start of a bad joke!" 
- Shira

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Synchronized Swimming

Here they are, KidPak's official Men's Synchronized Swimming Team!  After so much extensive training, this morning we had our big performance set to Pavarotti's operatic "La Donna E Mobile."  As you can see below, it was a thing of immense technical skill yet a thing of beauty, grace and poise!

Or maybe not.  Just because that seemed to be the theme of the day, Madison and Daddy watched some synchronized swimming routines on the computer - the internet is filled with 'em!  Madison was impressed:  she got on a chair, on her back, and hoisted her legs up high to do her own version.  Daddy was impressed, but Madison reminded him that she wasn't actually in a pool.

Sunday afternoon is typically "recovery day."  Madison had to earn her video game time by playing the keyboard, which she did - she's getting really good playing with two hands.  Not quite nailing it perfectly yet, but you can see her progress really well.  Mommy took an afternoon nap afterwards, as Daddy and Madison conquered Lego Star Wars some more... she's really into it, and we're only about fifty percent done with the game.

Tonight, Madison's choice for movie night was "Aladdin," and there was a magical moment:  during the flying carpet scene with Jasmine, Madison couldn't help but sing.  She was sitting up and right there  with Aladdin and Jasmine, singing "A Whole New World."  It was so sweet as Mommy and Daddy sat there and watched, and listened.

It was then time for bed - at least for Madison.  We read together before going to bed, concluding Madison's very full day.  She started out early at church this morning, and was ready for bed at a reasonable time:  we've got to start adjusting to a new schedule when kindergarten starts:  those will be some earlier mornings for Madison.  But knowing her, she'll be up and excited to go!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Funny Face

Today was a big work day for Daddy, and it was great to see Mommy and Madison drop by for a bit.  Mommy was helping Daddy get together some swimming stuff for tomorrow's skit:  you'll read about that later.  And for a time, Madison was with Daddy in the office for a bit of fun.  Why not take some pictures, and make a funny face!?

One interesting tidbit about that funny face:  there's a loose tooth in there!  Yep, you read that right.  This means the Tooth Fairy will be making a visit some time soon, so we'd better get prepared!  In the meantime, here's another picture of Madison in front of the new painting that Josh made for the office.

Madison has a big smile, doesn't she?  In a few weeks, that smile is going to be even bigger - we're going on a cruise!  It's so close now, and Mommy has been already doing quite a bit of packing.  Daddy has been doing a tiny bit of planning, but to be honest, not much.  We'll be a bit more spontaneous this time around:  you can do that on a cruise.  They tell you largely when to eat, when the shows are, and what ports of call are next.  Other than that, the choices are yours - and with a cruise there are plenty of choices.  Of course, the big thing about this cruise is WHO we're cruising with:  four other families that went to China the same time we did.  It's going to be an unforgettable experience!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cow Appreciation Day

Yes, today was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A.  As this was our first year of participation, we decided to go for it in a big way.  Mommy had all the costumes ready, and a bunch of us from the office formed a herd and headed in to the local Chick-Fil-A for an utterly good time.  And yes, as you can see above, we've even brought along some cow patties!

As you can see, Madison got some one-on-one time with the Chick-Fil-A cow, a friendly bovine mascot that lumbered about the restaurant carefully avoiding low-flying children.  Madison was still delighted to see the cow, running up and giving it a great big hug.  In fact, later as we were eating together, the family posed together for one official photograph:

Oh yes.  Our day is complete now!  Seriously, it was a great promotional day, as kids and adults of all ages stampeded into the Chick-Fil-A - it looked like a corral!  Everyone grazed on free food, and the atmosphere was a lot of fun.  Madison was smiling, but we all were smiling big while we were there.  We were certainly eating more chicken!

"I'm going down to Cowtown, the cow's a friend to me."  
- They Might Be Giants

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Princess Merida

SO, don't tell Madison, but we've done a bit of early Christmas shopping for her.  Yes, you can see above that we got her something else related to the movie "Brave."  Her present is the X-box game of the same name, and the bonus was this:  inside the game was a free ticket to see the movie.  Well, of course we've already seen it once - so do you think we'd see it again?  Definitely.  This was a great movie, and Madison really enjoyed it!

After the movie, we returned to the library, and guess what?

She's only got four books to go until she reaches her goal of fifty books.  That means the next time we go to the library, she'll get a prize - and her name on the wall of fame.  Of course, there are other rewards for her accomplishment too, such as the satisfaction of a goal accomplished!  Speaking of which, just in case I haven't mentioned it here yet:  she's got to play three particular tunes on the piano perfectly (with both hands), and we'll go out and get her "Batman Lego 2."  She's been practicing on the piano quite a bit lately, and getting better at playing with two hands.  Pretty soon, we'll have to go out and get that game.  But it needs to wait just a little more:  we're not quite done with "Lego Star Wars" yet.  Today was a day off, as you can tell, and we actually spent a bit of time playing that together:  Madison is learning the story of Star Wars pretty much through Lego characters - which may come as a surprise later when she watches the actual movies.  So far, she's just seen Episode IV, which is the original Star Wars movie.  Not sure when we'll have her watching the others - we may wait for a special occasion on that!

The rain poured down today, and poured down quite a bit.  We actually sat out on the front porch, reading books together to the wonderful sound of rain falling.  It started later in the afternoon, right as we entered the library actually.  And it hasn't really let up since.  Right now, it's about 11:00 pm, and the rain is still coming down hard.  You would not believe our tomatoes and peppers!  Mommy had this delicious tomato presentation for she and Madison tonight, and despite the attractive appearance, everything was gobbled up pretty quickly!

This morning's intent was to sleep in - after all, it was a late night picking up everyone at the Appalachian Trail.  Yet there was a call from the doctor.  Or, at least a nurse.  She called about getting me set up for an endoscopy, which of course is something I'm not at all thrilled about.  This is an unexpected development - more news on that in a bit, as it comes in.  This has set my mind to wander - what could possibly be going on?  This wasn't the direction we were going in when I last left the doctor's office.

Despite that news, it was overall a relaxing day - all we pretty much did today was bank, movie, library.  We did chores in between, of course, such as fill the water bed and add conditioner.  Madison helped with that, and got a kick out of the fact that there was actually water in our water bed.  Go figure!

She's been funny in the car lately.  Her songs and stories always feature the phrase, "right now."  It is used as an add-on, and once Mommy and Daddy made a note of it, this phrase seems to pop up a lot more often, right now.


Madison is seen above on our winner's podium for our Olympic set - it's been a good series thus far, and even has three weeks to go until it is done.  Can you believe the Olympics are almost here again?  Amazing.  Even more amazing is that our cruise is just a few short weeks away, followed closely by Madison's first day of kindergarten!  It'll all be here in an instant.

Tonight after church, I made an emergency trip up to Neels Gap to pick up the family on the Appalachian Trail.  The thought was that they wouldn't be making it until tomorrow, however, they made good time today and got there actually early in the evening.  Rather than spend another drenched night out camping, Daddy drove up after church as fast as he could.  Surprisingly, a trip up 400 got him there in about an hour or so.  There they all were, huddled in the darkness, quietly waiting for my arrival.  What a sight!  But they had quite an adventure, and Daddy heard only bits of it on the way back home.  Everyone went straight to sleep when they arrived, and Daddy himself got back home afterwards a little after midnight, glad to be able to help out and get them home earlier.

Today we did some more filming for our Olympic series, and continued with our "Splash-O-Gram" commercials, a service that helps you beat the heat:  you can pay a company to ambush a friend with a bucket of cold water.  It's a funny idea, and it's been pretty popular with our audience lately.  The heat has been so intense, it made perfect sense to channel that energy.

Again, it was a late night - and a lot of driving after church this evening.  It's time to get some rest, but at least there'll be some sleeping in tomorrow.  Nothing on the schedule whatsoever!