Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hello Yellow Brick Road

We're getting ready for our new series, "No Fear" next month, where many of our characters are dressed up for the Fall Festival at the end of the month.  They've chosen to dress up as characters from "The Wizard of Oz," but on their way, their van breaks down.  SO, that leaves them coming to call on the nearest house, a spooky old mansion with mysteries inside.

It's going to be a lot of fun - and a lot of work - but one of the funny things we found with some costumes was a Dorothy outfit that was Madison's size.  We couldn't resist temptation:  we gave it to her and she wanted to dress up as Dorothy right away.


In the spirit of things, we also decided to use our down time this afternoon to watch "The Wizard of Oz," which was a nice relaxing afternoon.  Madison enjoyed the movie, and so did we.  It looks really good on our larger television, and they've done an incredible job restoring it.  One thing that we didn't really see coming was having to explain why part of the movie is in black and white.  Can you believe that Madison hasn't seen a black and white movie yet?  That will change this upcoming weekend though.


The morning's service wrapped up our Miracles series, where Madison got to see the story of a mute and deaf man healed.

JESUS:  "Ephphatha!"

LANCE:  "Bless you."

JESUS:  "Thanks."

This series was simply incredible - it was educational, but it also spoke to spirits and hearts.  Last week's message about the Easter story was very moving, and many children responded, touched by the love of our Father.  This week was somewhat of a bonus week (the fifth weekend in the series), so Daddy returned to an earlier miracle, which our full cast did a marvelous job with.  The day was a great success, and the series was one of our best.

This afternoon, after the movie, it was time for dinner and piano practice.  The piano practice is rather repetitious, but that's a good thing:  Madison is getting better and better.  One tune in particular she can play with her eyes closed!  That's "Fiddler, Fiddler."  The thing about these tunes is that they get stuck in your head.  First thing in the morning, you're singing "Clap Your Hands" or "The Royal March of the Lions" to yourself, and you can't stop!

Afterwards, Madison's request was "Lego Indiana Jones 2."  Yep, we're still on that one too.  Daddy is waiting to get anymore video games until Christmas or so, because we have so many it's simply impossible to get them all done!  We're pretty blessed in that department.  Still, there is a new Lego game out, and a new Disney one by Christmas - both of these look like a lot of fun for the two of us.  These two-player games are a whole lot of fun together!

Before bedtime, we actually watched another episode of Scooby Doo, the one where we first meet Miner Forty-Niner.  These are quick twenty-minute episodes, nice and short things to watch before bedtime, as you're enjoying your milk!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Moonpies

So tonight was the Autumn Moon, which we did get to see after all - it was pretty overcast today, so viewing it at first seemed unlikely.  But the bright full moon was in fact visible for a short time, peeking out from the midst of the clouds, officially making everything right with the day.

Mommy and Daddy haven't really had any huge Autumn Moon Celebration with Madison.  It's a pretty busy season for us, and this particular day tends to get lost in the shuffle.  The extent of our celebrations has typically been a Moon Pie.  Yes, Daddy goes and finds a few moon pies from a gas station - or in today's case Wal-Mart.

Strangely, Madison wasn't that into the moon pie tonight.  But Mommy and Daddy were, proving that there is some small percentage of redneck in our blood, somewhere.

No, our Autumn Moon Celebration was not just about moon pies and seeing a full moon.  We actually have a few books that cover the topic, and what the legends are in China concerning this day.  They're pretty unusual:  a jealous wife eats a pill that will make her husband immortal.  He chases her across the sky, but she gets away and lands on the moon where she becomes queen.  She spits out the outer shell of the pill and it becomes a jade monkey.  He becomes king of the sun.  They still love each other, and one day a year he comes to visit her on the moon, which is why it is so bright.  I think that about covers the story.  My favorite part is spitting out a half-digested pill and watching it become a jade monkey.  I'm not entirely sure what the storyteller was on at this point when he or she was making this all up - but I have my suspicions!

Today of course was a work day for Daddy, who was spending time preparing for tomorrow's finale of the Miracles series.  Mommy spent a long time cleaning up the house - which coincidentally is a tradition associated with the Autumn Moon Festival.  I think that tradition was made up by husbands who wanted their wives to clean up the houses though.  Either way, the house is looking nice - cleaning Madison's rooms was no small undertaking.  "Epic" might be an appropriate word, in fact.

Still, Mommy had time for making us chicken parmesan for dinner, which was absolutely perfect.  No, it's not related to Autumn Moon Festival, although we could make it that way if you'd like!  Sounding like a broken record here, but Madison's piano practice followed - this is five days a week, and then there is the class itself.  So she's playing the piano nearly every day of the week now.

We're still listening to the Fairies story at night, by the way.  We're not that far into it, as we're only going about a chapter or two every other day.  But Madison is listening and paying attention - it's a great way to get her to settle down some before bed.  We're also reading lots of books from the library lately.  Madison is reading her own books as well, which is pretty nifty.  She is getting better and better with sight words, and reading on her own.  Daddy and Mommy are very proud!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Hotel Transylvania


Tonight we checked in the Hotel Transylvania, each of us disguised as monsters of course.  We got there to the theater, early enough to get our traditional spot - back row, dead center.  This has been our spot for the last few years.  The original idea behind this was so that Madison wouldn't disturb anyone behind her.  But as time has gone by, it seems nice back there, doesn't it?


We went with our friend Josh from the office, and the four of us genuinely loved this movie.  One reason was the director, who we all love from his stuff on the Cartoon Network.  It was a fun movie, which Madison really got into.  Of course, her favorite character is Mavis, the vampire daughter with an overly protective dad.  After watching "Finding Nemo," we officially have a theme of overly protective dads going on!


Afterwards, we got all sorts of coloring sheets from the movie, which Madison has been coloring in as fast as she could.  What a great way to officially kick off the October season - this is a movie we'll probably be watching year after year, along "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Consecotaleophobia

Daddy and Mommy have been going through a bit of illness this week, so it hasn't been the most active of days for us.  Daddy's been writing his devotional dedicated to "No Fear," which is our theme for October.  It's going to be a fun series, but as with all of these series, there's quite a bit of work to be done.


So we got an "Atlantis" book at Goodwill a while back - it's an atlas of sorts that had a lot of pictures and descriptions in it.  You could call it an Atlantis Atlas.  Anyway, it's actually a pretty big book, going into way too many more details than most people really need or care to know.  Still, Madison has been really into this book, turning the pages and letting us know who is who.  Well, tonight it was time to show her the movie - and of course she was game.

But FIRST:  We wrapped up homework (finding things that start with the letter "L").  This has been a fun homework assignment, finding things that start with a particular letter each week, cutting them out and pasting them to a sheet of paper.  Madison found all kinds of things that start with L, one of the more unusual being King Julian.  He's a lemur.

NEXT, there was piano practice.  This is just about every day, of course.  As of late, one of the things we do with Madison are duets.  Daddy or Mommy will play one part, while Madison plays the other hand's part.  Her rhythm is getting better with these too.  But it's still fun playing the piano together.  Eventually, we'll get to "chopsticks," of course.  Oh, speaking of "chopsticks," here's one of our more unusual entries for the devotional:


Consecotaleophobia:  A Fear of Chopsticks

     Can you imagine having consecotaleophobia, a fear of chopsticks?  It sounds very ususual, but we here at the No Fear Phobia Center have seen certain patients enter with a completely irrational fear of chopsticks.  Just the very idea of going to a Chinese restaurant sends shivers up their spines!

     Why would anyone on earth fear chopsticks?  In all of our cases, it's this simple answer:  they have no idea how to use them.  They fear chopsticks because they're afraid of trying to use them in front of everyone, and they're really afraid of failing.  Does that sound familiar?

      When you put it that way, everyone's had a fear of something in their life:  we've all had to try something for the first time.  Not many start out an expert, and everyone has failed when trying something new.  But just like with a bicycle, you've got to simply get back up again and try once more if you want to get better at something. 

     Don't be afraid to try something new.  Don't let the risk of failing stop you either.  You can and will be an expert at whatever you put your mind to, just so long as you keep practicing.  You can even be an expert with chopsticks - and never fear going to a Chinese restaurant again!


     For the record, Madison does not have any fear of chopsticks.  She actually prefers them, using them frequently with noodles, or even dry breakfast cereal.  Come to think of it, she's pretty good with 'em!  No fear there!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ain't She Sweet?


Madison came to visit today after school, along with Mommy of course!  Tonight's service was a special one, requiring a chicken costume, so Mommy came along for the assist.  Meanwhile, Madison made her usual rounds visiting all the people here at their desks.

Madison did have a half-day today, so Daddy came home for a bit to do lunch at the house.  Mommy had this great big lunch made up and waiting for Daddy as he arrived, which was very sweet.  I have not been feeling well as of late, and that was made a little more apparent when I sat down on the couch immediately afterwards, and fell fast asleep.  I got a good night's rest the evening previous, and yet this fatigue has been overwhelming.  I think it's something going around though.  The good news is that Mommy is better now, and Madison never seems to have been affected at all.

Tonight's service did go well, and Daddy came home and predictably went to bed a little earlier than usual.  Madison was fast asleep already - there isn't much time together on Wednesdays.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Captain Cutler


Such an epic Scooby Doo villain, isn't he?  Today we got our Scooby Doo DVD set - seasons one and two!  That was pretty fast on the order, if I do say so myself.  Anyway, we plugged that in tonight before bedtime and watched three episodes with Madison, including "A Clue for Scooby Doo," which features Captain Cutler, the "ghost" you see above.  It's a great series for that spooky vibe, where it's always figured out there's not a real haunt, but rather some guy or girl they met earlier trying to scare everyone off.

Madison enjoyed it, which was great to see.  These are a part of our heritage, and a part of pretty much every kid's background growing up.  Scooby Doo is still on television these days - and I was surprised to see the dates on these episodes.  Did you know that this episode with Captain Cutler is from 1969?

We have several Scooby-Doo themed ornaments on the Christmas tree, so it'll probably make more sense to Madison now.  She's known who he was, but had never seen anything with him in it.  This time of year is the perfect season for that opportunity!

Daddy is feeling the full effects of the illness now - it's his turn again.  Goodness, I don't remember being this sick on-and-off ever in my life.  It all started when Madison started going to school - I think this is a rite of passage for parents!

Daddy joined Madison and Mommy for piano practice, but shortly after it was all over, he decided to go home rather than back to work.  Very sleepy...

Madison's piano practice is going well:  she understands the different scales, and can find her finger placement on keys surprisingly fast.  Faster than Daddy, in fact!  She does enjoy the classes, and things are getting more and more complicated - pretty soon we'll all be expert pianists!

Ballet class continued, which was nice for Madison to go to.  She had a pretty busy day today, actually - that's the way Tuesdays are though.

What she didn't realize was that Daddy and Mommy came to school this morning to talk about her with a speech therapy teacher.  We agreed to set up a few visits per week between Madison and her speech teacher, which seems like an obvious decision.  Still, the school needed our consent and it was good to meet some more of the staff there, and of course they probably would benefit from hearing anything from us.  We were very impressed with the staff there, and have been as of late of course.  This comes as a confirmation that it was good to move here, yet another one.  This school has been good.

One thing we discussed was the possibility of apraxia.  Based on the viewpoints of a few of the staff members there, it seems that apraxia is not the diagnosis for Madison's speech patterns.  This is good news obviously, although the speech delay is still present - so what could it be that causes her to speak as she does?  One suggestion thrown out this morning had to do with the amount of "tummy time" she lacked growing up in China, that perhaps she didn't get to develop some of her chest muscles (her breathing muscles) as well as she could.  That is a simple way of putting it, of course.  But the air flow as she talks is something noticeable, as it always has been.  One recommendation has been a Pilates ball, which could be used in exercises to build up some of these muscles.  Combine this with her continuing practice on weaker areas of speech, and we could see some significant developments over the year.  Of course, the last year alone has been significant:  she's speaking better and better as time goes on.  This is of course thrilling to Mommy and Daddy.

She's a smart girl, although most parents will say that about their child.  She just needs a little catching up with speech.  She'll be fine, although you can understand how anxious we are to hear her speak English a little more fluently!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Return of the Ghost Pirate


Here's a photo of Madison, Daddy and the ghost pirate.  Remember him?  We all have that one toy that sticks with us through childhood, and some strange attractive force has drawn him to Madison for quite some time now.  He lurks in the living room, and is usually there to accompany dinosaurs, tea parties, pirate ships, bathtub antics, and whatever adventure Madison is on that day.  It's funny how he keeps showing up - in this picture above, Madison actually brought him to Daddy's workplace, and the three of us posed for several photos.  This one was my favorite.

Daddy and Mommy are still recovering, still taking medicine, and not really getting much done.  Daddy did get to the library though - after Madison got home, the two of us went to the library to look around a bit.  We returned some books and picked up a few more.  Daddy found a bunch of October-themed books about fall and Halloween, so we'll have some fun reading these out loud together.  We also found some movies there, so it'll be a fun October!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Decor Up!


Mommy does such a nice job each season with some decorations for the living room and beyond.  Outside, our scarecrow rests - her name is "Madison B."  This is named after one of Madison's friends from pre-school last year.  Madison named the scarecrow, and even this year remembered what that name was.  So that's how the name sticks!

Pumpkins and fall leaves line the shelves up top, and orange candles sit atop the mantle next to an Anne Geddes hedgehog baby.  Mommy and Daddy have a few of Anne Geddes photo books, which are all very fun to look through.  She was much bigger in popular culture about ten years ago, taking photos of babies in various costumes and situations.  There were even dolls for a time, each one a representation of a famous picture she'd taken.  As Mommy has a thing for hedgehogs (she thinks they're cute), Daddy picked up the doll some time ago, and it has remained in our collection to this day.

Mommy's sickness to a turn for the worse this morning, as she couldn't talk at all.  Her throat was very sore, and so Daddy left she and Madison at home when he went to church.  It was a spectacular service this morning, although initially pretty stressful.  Always a battle before a great victory, that's the saying. And the victory was pretty huge - we did basically the Easter story, despite some larger setbacks, and pulled it well, thanks be to God.  There were kids that hadn't heard the story before, at least from the perspective of Barabbas.  That was the angle we told it from, with a little bit of creative license.  It was a direct hit, as many of the children were profoundly touched.  Actually, many of the adults were too - it was a great morning.

Daddy got home a little later, and Mommy was doing much better.  Madison was too, dragging out toys all over the place and having all kinds of fun playing.  She's been doing a lot of drawing and coloring lately too.  Yes, we squeezed in some piano practice as well - she did great with the G-scale, which officially perplexes me a little.  What's up with the ti flat?  Who designed the piano like that?  Of course, I know very little at this time, and that's the point.  We're all learning together - and it's great to see Madison catching on so quickly.  A little more quickly than us, in fact!

October is nearly here, which means more October movies.  Daddy and Mommy watched the first Scooby Doo live action movie tonight, which we both love - tomorrow we'll probably watch the sequel after Madison goes to sleep.  She's not quite old enough for some of the creepy imagery in these movies yet, but Daddy was inspired:  he's been looking to buy seasons one and two of the original Scooby Doo series, and saw the package on sale tonight.  Translation:  Madison will get her first real taste of Scooby Doo soon enough, just in time for October!


Speaking of which, it's time for some October-themed games!  This year's new gem is a one dollar downloadable game for the X-Box called "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1NIT!!!1"  It's tremendous fun reminiscent of an 80's video game we used to play for extended periods of time.  The bonus to this game is a hilarious theme song that plays all throughout - it's one you can't get out of your head.  Generally, we're not big fans of the zombie genre - but this is a nice aerial view, and a fun, chaotic game - "they come shambling in from the side, you better shoot them..."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Day of Fall



We finished editing the video from this past Wednesday - of our adventure at Krispy Kreme.  Special thanks to that amazing doughnut shop - we had an exciting voyage!  I just love that Mommy and Madison are in this video - it adds a lot of fun to the workday to be able to see the entire crew there.

We got home earlier today, which was great because we could get some rest.  Mommy's condition has worsened to the point that she didn't make it the office at all.  No matter:  we were able to get what we needed done, and Mommy was able to get some rest.  In the meantime, Madison has been coloring and creating pictures with crayons.  Lately, she's been drawing a tent in the wilderness, nearby a campfire.  I'm not entirely sure where she gets this imagery from, but the weather is sort of fun to do that kind of thing in the back yard.  I don't think we'll set up a campfire, but perhaps a tent in the back yard might be fun.  Although I don't think we'll actually spend the night in it!

Today is the first day of Fall, which is pretty much our favorite season.  Already, we've begun watching our "October-themed movies," which is all part of some research Daddy is doing for the newest devotional.  Another reason for watching the movies earlier is our lack of time later on in the month - it seems we've got a lot going on in October.  We're going to Disney, of course - Madison still doesn't know that yet.  Also, Mommy recently picked up some "Disney on Ice" tickets for Friday, October 12th.  That'll be a lot of fun, as always.  One night we'll have our traditional pumpkin-carving party as well - so you can see the nights start filling up quickly.  Then, it'll be the Christmas season, where we'll be watching Christmas movies and going to do Christmas-themed things.  One set of tickets we bought at a discount was to a Cirque du Soleil show the day after Thanksgiving.  That's going to be fun as always - Madison loved the show last time they came around.

So today is the beginning of the fun season, the time of year where things start getting very busy, and filled with excitement.  Already, this morning Daddy watched the leaves spiral and twist as they fell across the road like a curtain.  It's such a pretty time of year!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Interjections!

Madison has been picking up some expressions lately from school - these are pretty funny coming from her:

1.  "How about..."  This usually precedes her asking us to do something.  "How about," she says, pretending to think about something she already knows what she'll say, "we play Lego Pirates of the Caribbean?"

2.  "Oh my gosh!"  This one is absolutely hilarious!  She'll say it at just the right moment usually - it isn't one of those things she blurts out all the time.  It's usually associated with something that is truly worth of a "oh my gosh."  But she didn't learn it from us!  That's not exactly one of those phrases we say that often, so she must have picked it up at school or church.  Needless to say, it's hilarious!

3.  "Whatever."  This one is not said with sarcasm at all - it's said as sort of a joke, and we fall for it every time.  Tonight we were saying goodnight at bed, and she threw this one back at us - Daddy had to laugh!

4.  "Well..."  This is one of those story-telling words she throws in front of various sentences to make more dramatic.

5.  "Right now."  This is a phrase she adds to the end of random sentences when she's telling a story.  It sort of adds a bit of emphasis to the sentence.  As in, it's happening right now.

A few of those are interjections.  We've been reading a book or two about interjections, which is a big word for a six-year-old.  Madison sort of gets the concept, although with her it usually takes an extra time repeating for things to sink in.  Those last two are certainly a few of the interjections she's been using around us.  She also likes to add

Tonight our friend Lance came over to spend some time with us - we showed him the Kinect, which was a lot of fun for everyone - we bowled, had pizza and went to Disneyland!  After that, we watched "Captain America," although Madison went to bed by that point.  She had a great time leading Lance around Disneyland, taking him to Neverland and elsewhere.

Work today was fun, although Daddy got caught up in doing another obscure video.  We're doing a lot of those lately, but they've been fun.  We'll have that pirate video done tomorrow after working on it a little bit.  That one chronicles our adventures at Krispy Kreme.  That was fun!

Today marks the last day of summer.  As such, it was actually a pretty nice day outside, although we weren't outside too much to enjoy it.  Lots of work today, and as of late.  Madison and Mommy had intentions of dropping by, but Mommy hasn't been feeling 100% lately due to catching an illness that's been spreading around the schools:  same symptoms as always, a sore throat and fever.  Daddy had the beginnings of it a few weeks ago, and got some medication quickly for it.

Madison has fortunately been spared.  Hopefully she can stay healthy through all this season - the poor thing has been through enough this year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Self Portrait


This is a photo Madison took of herself using the computer's photo booth feature - it has a filter on it, with enhanced the entire image in a certain direction, but the pose and overall look was Madison's idea. It's quite different - and it has a mood to it that is hard to describe.  It's certainly an interesting example of self-expression, so I thought I'd share it here.

We rested today, although Madison did go to school of course.  She's been doing well there - she's doubled the amount of sight words that she recognizes, which is thrilling.  Madison has been bringing home a lot of homework for Daddy and Mommy to see, which has been fun to look through.  Daddy wants to scan every single piece of paper, he's so proud of all of Madison's work.  Her writing is getting better and better, particularly her name.  She's drawing more and more - in fact when she gets home, she picks up the crayons and paper right away to try and draw something.

Tonight Daddy went to His Harvest House with many of the student leader children at the church.  We give out boxes of food - good food - to those in need, and the line of cars is immense...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Krispy Kreme Pirates


Arrr!  As today be "Talk Like a Pirate Day," there was a lot of scurvy nonsense going on, and of course plenty of pirate-speak to boot.  The big story of the day was the Krispy Kreme adventure - what a collection of pirates there was at that place.  The story started last week when the doughnut shop announced that anyone who talked like a pirate that day got a free doughnut.  Anyone who dressed like a pirate would get a dozen doughnuts.

SO, we endeavored to set up a voyage to Buford together, smack-dab in the middle of the working day for Daddy.  We waited until most of the folks could get off of work - some got off early.  Everyone converged at the KidPak office, where Daddy had the van ready, along with plenty of pirate costumes and gear.  Mommy showed up with Madison as well, and both dressed up as pirates so that we had a total of eight pirates boarding the van for a journey south to Krispy Kreme treasure!

They were good to their word:  we walked out of there with ninety-six doughnuts.  Daddy felt sort of guilty about it, but then again, we are pirates and that's what we do:  pillage and plunder!  Even Madison walked out of there carrying a box of a dozen doughnuts!  You can see her in the photo, too busy to pose because she's munching on that sugary goodness.  She's certainly the cutest of all the pirates, and had fun singing "Yo Ho" with the rest of us in the van on the way down.  We filmed her and everyone else, sort of doing a documentary of the adventure:  pirates raiding a doughnut shop is too good to pass up on!

The rest of the day was rather dull in comparison.  We watched some of the extras from that pirate movie, and of course did a bit of pirate speak throughout the day from time to time.  And yes, there was a rousing pirate story in the car this morning on the way to dropping Madison off at school.  But it was mostly a work day for Daddy, who had a big service in the evening to plan for as well.

But for a few shining moments, our eyes were lit with a treasure chase that will stay in our memories for quite some time.  There were many, many other pirates there at Krispy Kreme that day, so I'm not sure if they'll do this again - I can only imagine the staggering amount of doughnut treasure given out that day.  So let this day live in our gallery of recollections for all time, the day the Krispy Kreme Pirates made their daring raid!  Arrr!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blackbirds

We had gotten home late this afternoon, after piano and ballet, and gone inside for dinner.  After dinner, Madison noticed something going on outside:


Birds!  Hundreds of them, all over the ground like snow.  A ginormous flock decided to spend some time around our house, completely surrounding it.  We immediately checked out the back yard to see if they were there too...


Sure enough, they were!  We're not entirely sure what made them decide to descend on our property, but it was certainly a unique thing for Madison to see.  We sat and watched them for a good while, using this moment to teach Madison about migrating birds and the seasons.  These guys might be heading south for a bit, and thought it safe to take a rest at our place.

Daddy went to piano this afternoon with Mommy and Madison - it was fun pounding the keys with her.  She's getting better and better at playing keys.  In some cases, she's quicker than Mommy and Daddy!

Today was National Cheeseburger Day.  While this would be something to celebrate as a family, I think we've noted frequently here - even yesterday - that Madison is not a fan of cheeseburgers.  Still, Daddy made sure he got one at Wendy's before going to music class.

The day was a work day, and it started out early for Daddy who had some meetings in the morning.  The gloomy weather continued early, with rainy skies as Daddy dropped Madison off for school.  Things cleared off for the evening, and the temperature actually started rising again - it has been an unusually humid September.  It feels like it should be cooler, and yet this humidity lingers.

Tomorrow is a big day for we pirate-types, but it is also a Wednesday night, which means no movie time together.  That's why we decided to watch "Pirates!  Band of Misfits" tonight before bedtime.  Daddy loves this movie, as does Madison and Mommy.  We sat on the couch and watched it together before bedtime - and of course, Madison had to dress up as a pirate beforehand.  She's been wearing her Captain Elizabeth pirate outfit lately, and Daddy put on a pirate bandana that came with the movie:


As you can see, we're ready for "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kindergarten School Photo


So I'm not entirely sure how they arrived at getting this facial expression, but she's still a pretty cute kid!  Today we got these photos back, although the order isn't what we asked for.  We'll settle all that later, but for now here's the official school photo for Madison for kindergarten.

After school we picked up Madison and headed to one of her favorite destinations:  the chiropractor's office.  She just giggles and giggles the entire time she's there, and one of these visits, I'm planning on bringing by a recorder.  It is simply hilarious!

Afterwards, we had plans to go get something nicer to eat, when suddenly we thought a trip to Krystal's would be in order.  Context:  our visits to this fast food restaurant are about as frequent as certain comets' visits to our solar system.  Really, I can't explain the draw - especially after you've done eating there.  Certainly this isn't the best advertisement - nor would the following statement:  Madison didn't like it.  She did like the pickles and the fries though!

We brought the food home and ate it at the table as the rain poured down outside.  It was a gloomy sort of Monday, but it was a relaxing one for all of us.  The weekend was a lot of work again, so Mondays are sort of a day to gather your wits.  We apparently had wits all over the place.

As a reward for all the good piano practice and homework, we did play a bit of Lego Pirates again, where we had a Barbossa-fest.  Madison is on about Captain Barbossa of late, so Daddy played the peg-legged, frog-throwing version, while Madison used the original man in black.  Together we whooped up on Spaniards - and as a bonus, Daddy let her see a scene from "On Stranger Tides" as she drank her milk.

Then it was off to bedtime for another chapter of "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg."  As a bonus, as we listen to the book being read, Daddy is showing Madison the pictures from the same book.  It's a great series of books if you get a chance - Madison is enjoying the fairies, as are Mommy and Daddy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Found Nemo

Take up your mat and walk!
This morning's services were well done, the story of the guy at the Pool of Bethesda who just can't get a break:  every time he tries to jump in, someone beats him to it.  Today we illustrated this in a pretty fun way, with one of our characters coming in dressed as an angel, ready to stir the kiddie pool we had set up there on the stage.  Just as our poor beleaguered lame man is about to get into the water, a woman bursts in and beats him to the punch:  you see, she broke a nail and heard about this pool... anyway, as you know, Jesus soon enters the scene and sets things straight.  Like I said, it was a fun service - times four.  We did both services for the older kids, and then both again for Madison's group in KidPak Jr.  

Daddy had a few meetings today after services, so it was an extended day.  But, after eating a bit - and after piano practice - we returned to the movie theater to find Nemo!



There was a new Toy Story cartoon short in front of the movie itself, and then there was Nemo.  We intentionally haven't watched this movie for quite some time - and all we can say is "Wow!"  This movie was meant for a 3D format, as you might imagine.  And beyond the technical achievement, the story itself is magnificent.  All three of us enjoyed the movie again - it was such a nice moment looking over at the family, all of us clad with 3D glasses, munching on popcorn and having a family night out.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Howdy


Long day at work today, but a fun one.  We go through a lot to film some of our videos, and today was no different, as some of us were there all night long again with the editing.  Fortunately, Madison and Mommy came in to help a bit, which was great.  It was a fashion-themed video, where characters were competing to create the best fashion design.  Daddy's character is obsessed with bacon, which is pretty surreal, of course.  The video is called "Project Run Away," which is a parody of another current reality television series - the video actually came out pretty fun:  at one point Daddy was wearing a blazer completely covered with bacon.  This is one of the things that Mommy made, which was pretty ridiculous.  Here are a few snaps of us before the runway shots - this is the room wear we were busy designing and making our fashions.


All in all it was a fun day, but again a late day.  There was a funny moment with Madison in the afternoon.  She's pretty savvy with these iPhones, and everyone in the office checked out their phone at one point to make a funny discovery:  each phone had roughly ten self-portraits of Madison, along with videos she made of herself talking.

video

All in all, it was a good day.  Busy day, sure.  Daddy signed out at about 2 am, although some of the others stayed all night long.  But tomorrow will be good:  with this video, and our dramas on stage, the bottom line will be really strong.  It's going to be a great day for the kids!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hot Club of Cowtown


Tonight was DATE NIGHT!  Mommy and Daddy met up with some friends from high school and went to a new theater down in Duluth to see one of our favorite bands, Hot Club of Cowtown.  What an incredible performance!  Each musician is amazingly talented, and the fun, joyous energy of the set was contagious.  The audience was thrilled, clapping and stomping the whole time.  In fact, Daddy's feet are still tapping as he types this up.  Afterwards, the band met up with everyone in the lobby, and they were just as warm and personable as they were on stage.


The three were happy to sign a CD we bought there that night, which was a really neat because one of our friends had brought his young daughter, who is learning to play the violin.  She's an aspiring musician, and last night she got to see the best we've ever seen.  If you ever have an opportunity, you absolutely must see this band - you will not regret it!

So you may be asking - what did Madison do during all this time?  We dropped her off with Ye-Ye and Nana, who took her down to Buford to visit a fair with Hannah and Aunt Shain.  There were inflatable castles, which she bounced in.  There were sand art stations, which she visited to make her own sand art bottle.  There were places to get colorful temporary tattoos, which she and Hannah both got.  In short, she had a great time.  They got home earlier than us, of course, so they plugged in the movie "Wall-E," which Madison sat and watched - but she fell asleep before getting to the end.  It was a busy day for her after school, and for all of us too.  But what a day it was!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Curriculum Night


Tonight was a great opportunity to go back to school - Mommy, Daddy and Madison visited the elementary school for a chance to visit Madison's teacher, and learn a little about BYOT.  That's "Bring Your Own Technology," which is something new the school is trying this year.  Translated, that means kids can bring their different electronic learning tools in, and the teachers will work with the various different types to enhance the overall learning experience.

At the moment, we were concerned about what to get - but it seems like with kindergarten that her Leapster Explorer will be fine to begin with.  There is so much to see, write and draw!  Madison's teacher explained about the letters and sight words that Madison is learning, and we also saw some math concepts as well.  Her teacher was very nice, of course, and even invited us down to the science lab area, where we met a bearded dragon, microscopes, lab jackets, and plenty of diagrams and charts on the wall.

We saw the cafeteria again, and the gym as well.  It was a short visit, but a nice one where we could peek in on the school where Madison is spending her kindergarten.

We left there, and it was pretty much time for bed.  Once again, we all sat in her room together, listening to another chapter of the story of Prilla, a fairy in Neverland.  And just when things were getting interesting, it was time to stop until tomorrow night, when we'll listen in again.

Earlier in the day, Mommy and Daddy relaxed.  We used an old gift card to get a nice hose holder for the garden, and even harvested some more peppers.  Still, we have a few left to pick - but we're letting them get bigger too.

Madison practiced piano, and did a little homework - and as a reward, it was time for some more Lego Pirates!  That's the game she wants to play all the time, and because she worked so hard with piano and other homework, Daddy honored her request.  She's really been into pirates lately, hasn't she?  Every morning, she wants a pirate made-up story, and of course Daddy bends to do that.  Although, this morning's story wasn't as much "pirates" as it was "Thor."  Daddy recognized that it was Thursday, and in honor of that we had an epic tale where Frost Giants were attacking the elementary school.  Fortunately, Thor and his hammer were there - as were the pirates.  It was an incredible battle, of course ending with victory for Thor, the pirates, and the students of the school.  It all took place on this very day, which is why from that moment on, this day of the week is called "Thursday."

Not really.  But it sounded fun this morning in the car.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Don Knotts Landing

Madison ties her shoes like a pro now.  Very, very fast!  Soon we'll be teaching her all kinds of obscure knots, so she'll be  knot specialist!  Next week, we'll be teaching her the bottle sling knot, the sheepshank, the Yosemite bend, the cowboy bowline, the Windsor knot, the versatackle, the fireman's chair know, the two strand overhand knot, the jury mast knot, the Italian hitch, the surgeon's loop, the Marlinespike Hitch, the Oysterman's stopper knot, the square turk's head, and even the rigid double splayed loop in the bight.  Yep, she'll be familiar with all kinds of Knotts!


CUE RIMSHOT

Here might be a good place to refer to Knott's Berry Farms.  We've been to the one in California once, and there was a Camp Snoopy in the Mall of America we were at once as well.  Madison has been to neither at this point, but it's just a matter of time for all of that.  Daddy is anxious to take her west, rather than south.  Although south in Florida has a lot of advantages at an early age.  But there came a time where our grandparents wanted to take us west rather than to Disney each summer, and that's about when our eyes were really opened to the natural wonders of this earth.  So much to see in this country alone!

Today was largely a school day for Madison, who enjoyed it as always.  She began an art program after school today, which is a nice extracurricular activity for her to enjoy.  Daddy didn't get to see her much outside of dropping her off of school:  he gets home too late to see her.  It was a good night at church as always, but an early night's sleep is a good idea.

Other good ideas:  walking in the morning.  We've kept that up, and the weather has been so good outside.  All day long, the temperatures reach around eighty or slightly less.  The skies are sunny and the days are just perfect for a walk, or anything done outside.  It's been fantastic!

Elsewhere, not so much.  Embassies under attack by terrorist mobs, and a battle here in this country to decide the next president.  How easy when it is all said and done to look back on these days, after the election, and see everything that leads up to the pivotal moment.  And yet, when in the midst of it, it really is a war.  Not so much a war with artillery, but one with hostile words and images.  The best advice I can give is to study and make your decision, but don't tune into the word war.  It only adds stress.  Daddy has been listening to audio books in the car lately:  last week it was "Around the World in 80 Days," and this week it is "Valley of Fear," a decent Sherlock Holmes story I'm currently in the middle of.  These types of spoken words are much more conducive for a peaceful spirit, and a good night's rest.

The other option to escape it all, is to go to Mars.  



     What's up with this photo?  And what is the significance of this penny?  To answer the first question, this photograph was actually taken on the planet Mars.  NASA sent it there, placed on the Mars Rover Curiosity for one major purpose:  the penny is a way to calibrate the camera to make sure all the colors we're seeing here on this planet turn out correctly.

     This penny is from 1909 – you can see that clearly enough.  It is deemed a "lucky" penny, and rightfully so, having made the tremendous journey to Mars, and landing there safely.  But you can see something else on that penny, can't you?  "In God We Trust."  

     How many other phrases from earth have been written and sent to another planet?  Intended or not, we sent a message to Mars:  "In God We Trust."  How amazing that we sent this one message to Mars on a spacecraft!  Nobody is there to read it right now, but for all time, let it be known that the message "In God we trust" was sent to Mars first!

      This springs to mind the first words astronauts said when circling the moon (they read the creation story from Genesis), or the first meal served on the moon (they actually had communion).  Our foundation is in Him!  In God we trust.  

     Back in 1909, this was a national belief so strong, we had it engraved on all of our currency.  I hope it is still our national belief when astronauts themselves happen upon the Curiosity, going back to get that penny!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday, September 11th

So here we are again on September 11th.  The difference this time is that it falls on a Tuesday, which of course was the same day of the week the actual event took place on eleven years ago.  There's that "11" again - even the number looks like the two buildings that collapsed, changing things forever.

Or did they really change?  Even today, new articles and voices are calling out, throwing blame here or there.  So much for that unity:  for a few weeks we were "1," but it didn't take long to become "11" again.  That's two separate columns, two lines divided by a gap they are unable to bridge.

Life went on as normal today, which is what everyone wanted:  let's just forget that whole mess and move on as if it didn't happen.  A good example of that would be NBC's broadcast of the moment of silence this morning:  it didn't happen.  They instead chose something else to show, the subject matter being the ultimate irony.

Each September 11th, it hurts to do so, but we all re-read the story and relive it.  We remember through new documentation the individual tales of heroism and tragedy, attempting to jar our minds as to what reality really is - and what we all try to forget, so that we can go on living our happy lives.

And we should live happy lives, of course.  But everything should be in balance as well, and I feel that we as a nation are too self-centered and divided.  We've been divided for quite some time now - reading books about John Adams, you can see that even back then there was a sharp political division.  Yet I don't think we've ever been so consumed with our own agendas before.  We're too blessed, I suppose.

Riots are going on in Libya and Egypt, filled with anti-US protests.  Terrorist organizations are flying their flags where our embassies once were.  This is the world where Madison is growing up, and it is occasionally quite scary when you think about it as a parent.  It's not the same world, even though we'd all like it to be.  And it wasn't the same world back then, even though we thought it was.

Today we didn't do much out of the ordinary:  Madison went to kindergarten, which she is loving.  And she's learning too!  Today she counted by tens for us, all the way to 100.  These small milestones are precious - things we've forgotten long ago.  But it is so wonderful reliving these small moments.


It was quite a busy day for her after school, first of all starting with piano class, and then following it:  ballet class.  She really enjoyed both, although piano is getting quite serious for Mommy.  She's trying to keep up, which means she herself is going to have to really practice a lot as well!  We'll have to give her some Mom-bucks too!  The picture above was taken at ballet class, and shared later on the social network, so I'd thought I'd post it here too.  Cute little ballerinas on their first day of class!

Tonight before bedtime, we tried something new:  listening to a story on CD.  It's not just a short story though:  we chose "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg," a book about Tinkerbell, Prilla, and other fairies in Neverland.  She enjoyed listening - we all did.  We sat together in her bedroom quietly listening to chapter one, and things seemed to go well for our first attempt.  Tomorrow is chapter two, and hopefully this will be something fun we can do from this point on from time to time.

We actually own this book, and it is filled with wonderful illustrations as well - we'll be sure to share them with Madison as well.  It's a nice place to go for a while to escape reality, Neverland.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Red Rover, Red Rover

Okay, the big news of the day:  Madison can tie her shoe all by herself.  It's official.  She's really good at it too!  Officially, it was yesterday technically that she first did it on her own.  But today she was doing it to show off for us.

Today Mommy and Daddy made a trip around the neighborhood on foot, it was just after dropping Madison off from school in the morning.  The drop-off is getting quite routine, fortunately.  Madison jumps out of the car after hearing a thrilling made-up story, one usually involving pirates.  Anyway, just afterwards we journeyed around our neighborhood in what turned out to be a perfect morning, temperature-wise.  It was a nice walk, one we've promised to take five days a week from this point on each weekday morning.

Madison's school experience was good, and Mommy and Daddy's home experience was relaxing.  We did a bit of clean-up, afterwards watching "The Cat and the Canary" with Bob Hope.  Daddy is writing a devotional that has a creepy October theme to it, one that has the theme of "No Fear."  That said, he was in the mood to crack open the October movies a little early.  We saw this one, and later on in the evening after Madison went to bed:  "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

When Madison got home, it was time for some piano practice first of all.  This is getting intense for Mommy and Daddy, but Madison seems to be moving along okay when she puts her full attention to it.    As a reward for a good day, we all went to the library to return the books and movies:  Daddy and Mommy have been listening to books in the car (Daddy just finished seven CDs of "Around the World in 80 Days"), and we've picked up a few books for ourselves as well.  Madison's books are numerous, a big old stack of books that she can read herself for the most part.  "The Lorax" found it's way into the pile this time around, along with a few DVD movies, such as "Babe."  It's been ages since we've seen that one.

For dinner, we grilled burgers.  Not just any burgers, but the best hamburgers ever in world history.  The more I grill Mommy's hamburgers, the more I'm convinced of this.  Her hamburgers are exquisite, the stuff of masters and legends.  The mix is something that bests any hamburger, period.  Daddy grilled these, and a few hot dogs out on the deck.  And then, it was time for the feast.  What a taste:  what perfection on a bun!

We got ready for bed after that, and with not enough time to watch a movie, we decided to plug up the Kinect.  Daddy recently downloaded the Mars Rover Landing game so we all could take a look at it.  Of course, the Curiosity is currently exploring the surface of Mars, taking incredible pictures of the landscape there.  Basically, Mars sort of looks like Nevada, only red.  That's not necessarily a bad thing - the desolate world is amazing to look at.  The pictures have been high definition, and absolutely incredible in quality.  Anyway, in honor of this "teachable moment," we tried the game a few times tonight:  it's a simulator where you can land the rover on the surface, stage by stage.  I'm proud to say in our first attempt, we got the Curiosity to the surface of the planet safely.  But it was pretty intense!


As the week progresses, we'll show Madison some of these historic photos from Mars.  I doubt we'll see John Carter, or that boy Milo who is looking for his mother.  We just might see Mickey Mouse though - a recent episode of the Mickey Mouse Club had the whole gang up there on Mars.  They were probably doing something far more interesting than collecting rock and soil samples though...

Anyway, to relax things a bit, we all went bowling afterwards.  Mommy, as usual, dominated.  But Madison didn't do so bad herself!  Her final score was a 97, and she got two strikes and a spare in the first three frames.  She's got a wicked spin on that ball - the thing looks destined for the gutter, just riding along the ridge and about to fall in.  And yet it absolutely defies gravity and all common sense, somehow making it across the lane at the last moment for a straight-on assault and a strike.

It was a fun night at our own personal bowling lane.  Soon it was time for bed though.  We put Madison down for the night, after which Mommy and Daddy snuggled in front of an old movie on the television.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apple Sunday


Today started out wonderfully with our service at church.  Jesus continued his miracles with a visit to Blind Bartimaeus.  It was a funny version we did four times over the course of the morning, one time in front of Madison's group at KidPak Jr.  The acting cast we have is so much fun - they took a script which was pretty good, and then made it even better with so much energy!

After church, Daddy got home and saw Mommy and Madison ready to go off on an apple hunt!  We drove in the car over to Ellijay, which was a little over an hour away - it's apple season!  Along the road, we passed about eight family orchards, all with signs that read "U PICK IT."  They weren't talking about their noses, either.  On weekends, one of the big tourist attractions in Ellijay - on weekends - is to go out and pick your own apples in the numerous orchards in that area.  We've never gone on weekends, so we've never picked our own apples yet - until today!


Here's Mommy showing Madison the ropes, explaining how to properly pick an apple.  Madison was listening to the guide though:  cradle the apple and gently twist.  Don't bruise the apple.  Madison carried the bag along for a while, but of course it soon got pretty heavy with apples!


She needed a lift here to reach some of those apples higher up!  Daddy remembers going to apple orchards in upstate New York - and even using great big apple pickers.  They were these claws at the end of long poles, and they made it easier to get those apples that were very high in the trees.  Of course, with this photo above, Madison has discovered an easier solution!


Golden delicious!  There were plenty of these, and of course we had to sample one along the way.  It looks delicious, doesn't it?  There were many different varieties at this orchard, which made it fun to go and look around at.  We picked several different kinds to sample later.


It was a nice experience there at the orchard.  It was off the main road - in fact, they took us there from the parking lot with a tractor.  We rode the tractor out there over a bumpy road, and hopped on the tractor when we were done and ready to return.  When we got back to the apple barn, part of our package included apple cinnamon doughnuts, and of course cider.  So the three of us sat at a picnic table overlooking a large field with pumpkin patches, having our apple-themed meal.  It was all very nice.

We left Ellijay, passing by once again all the other orchards - so many family businesses out there.  We arrived home in time to get some more homework done with Madison:  piano practice!  We keep getting more and more advanced, and Mommy and Daddy have to do all they can to catch up.  It's funny how we too are learning as we go along.

Madison went to bed early tonight - we have school tomorrow.  It was a full, adventurous sort of day, which is just the sort of day we like.  Mommy and Daddy concluded the "Back to the Future" trilogy after she went to bed, watching Marty and Doc go back to the old west.  And soon after that, it was happy trails for all of us.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dragons Dreams & Daring Deeds


This is a bit of artwork Madison made on the computer today - she was using an interesting little program that let you make shapes, and then color them in.  The wording at the top suggested the topic to draw, so Madison created what you see entirely on her own.  And then she printed it out as a gift for us - this dragon appears to be upset at something.  I wouldn't recommend getting it any angrier.

Also on the computer, she fooled around with another program to move around Disney Universe characters on different environments with different props.  This reminds me of the colorforms we had as children.  Here, take a look:


Jack Sparrow has captured a star, Madison told us.  He's grabbed hold of one - and the rest of the story is up to our imagination.  The theme of the day was art:  Mommy got for Madison some dinosaur stamps from Fernbank, and just today gave them to her as a surprise.  For a good part of the afternoon, Madison was spending time creating her own prehistoric dramas on the kitchen table.  Take a look!





It was "Jurassic Park" at our house today!  Daddy had to work, of course, setting things up for tomorrow.  The strep throat is getting better, although we did not go to the Dragon Boat Festival this morning.  Hopefully tomorrow we'll make up for that.

Daddy's bright spot was seeing everyone drop by the office.  Madison wore her crown today, still ever the fashionista.


She went to bed early tonight - right after dinner in fact.  Although dinner was actually later this evening than usual.  Mommy made the crust and served up some more chicken pot pies.  Madison was pretty ready for bed tonight, and we're glad to get her in early, as tomorrow is a big day.  Also, we were eager to pop in "Back to the Future Part Two."  Still can't believe we're only two years away from hoverboards, flying cars and sleep inducing alpha rhythm generators!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Green Pepper


Check out the size of that pepper!  This came from our little garden, just one of several massive green peppers that are so big, they need their own zip code!  For the record, Madison wouldn't dare take a bite of that - she's just playing.  Daddy asked her to pose with it, and that's what she did.  Mommy has been using the green peppers for breakfast with omelettes and potatoes.  In the evenings, she mixes them with spaghetti and pasta for a little kick.  Our summer is nearly over with, but our garden project was a huge success - a torrent of tomatoes and a plethora of peppers! 


When Daddy came home from work, Madison was dressed like this above.  That's the Elizabeth Swann Pirate Queen outfit merged with Belle's Winter coat, and some Barbie high heels thrown in for good measure!

Daddy is feeling slightly better today - certainly glad to take medication from the pharmacy.  Madison had a great day at school too.  Each Friday she takes home assignments from the week previous, and we get to see her work writing out letters or learning words.  She even has homework assignments now, where she is learning sight words in different categories.  She's mastered the first list of sight words, which is thrilling.  She's nearly done with two of those lists, in fact.  Even better, she pronounces each word exactly as written.  

Fortunately, neither she nor Mommy are feeling the effects of any illness.  We're pretty blessed there.  Still, we've decided to not go to the Dragon Boat Festival tomorrow, just to take it easy.  But we've got ideas for Sunday afternoon - I won't write them here though.  That way if it falls through, you won't be scratching your head anymore...!


One more image before we go.  This is what Madison showed us today - it's a giant crab.  Our favorite part are the eyes and mouth.  Well, okay:  also the big claw.  This thing looks like it means business!  I'm not entirely sure why Madison decided to draw a crab, but I rather enjoy this drawing.  I'm considering making it my desktop wallpaper on my office computer, actually.  He seems to be looking at you and saying, "Arrrr!"   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chipmunks


This picture is actually from last weekend, when Madison and Daddy took about 100 photos using different filters on the computer.  This one made us look like chipmunks!

Actually, Daddy's throat is about that swollen right now.  I went to the doctor's this morning and got medication for strep throat (again), and also got a flu shot.  Yes, the flu season is just around the corner!

Daddy was pretty sick today, but he still waited for Madison at the bus stop and helped her off the bus. We walked home together (all that distance!), and went inside to wait for Mommy. She was off doing some grocery shopping - and getting her hair done.  She's been going to Aldi's as of late, and saving us a lot of money actually.  The neat thing about this place are the similar foods - their cereal tastes just like Trix.  Their cheese crackers taste just like Cheez-its.  Their mini-wheats taste just like the name brand.  And yes, their Oreos taste just like Oreos.  The reason for bringing all this up is this:  it's all cheaper there.  In many cases, a few dollars cheaper.  This all adds up.  So we won't have to support Oreos anymore, and can still have that great taste and it's a whole lot more inexpensive.

Speaking of "inexpensive," we got a call from Mommy's parents today:  they're selling us one of their cars.  REALLY inexpensive.  It's essentially going to be a gift, apparently, as they're getting a new car and wanting to pass this one along to us.  We're going to get the car evenually, and when we do, I suppose that will be the end of the Toyota Corolla we've had in our family since 2001.  This car is a LEGEND.  I cannot say enough good things about this car.  I'm hesitant to pass it along to anyone, because the truth is the thing is still a perfectly good car.  When there seemed to be a anti-Toyota phase a few years ago, we just scratched our heads.  We've had this car for over ten years now, and so long as you get it regularly serviced, there's never been a problem.  I'm awfully fond of that car.  It was the first one that Mommy and Daddy bought together, and I remember the first trip we made out of state with it, up to Nashville.  Over the years, it has been more than faithful - absolutely incredible.

Tonight it was time for an early night again.  Daddy plugged in "Oliver & Company," which Madison had no memory of.  Still, she enjoyed the movie - along with a big tub of popcorn.  If you don't remember this one, it's the movie with Billy Joel as the Artful Dodger - in dog form.  We actually saw this in the theater when it came out - watching the movie tonight, you can't help but notice the World Trade Center there in the skyline of New York.  We're coming up on the eleventh anniversary of the attacks - hard to believe it has been that long.  But it's also hard to believe it has been twenty-five years since "Oliver & Company" has come out.  One of the running themes of this week has been "Back to the Future."  That's another looming date in the future:  2015.  That's when we're supposed to have hoverboards and flying cars.  Or at least those really cool shoes.  It's only two years away!  When we saw the movie in 1985, they went back thirty years and we were thinking how long ago that was.  And now it's nearly been another thirty years... whoa.

"Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?"
- Dr. Emmett L. Brown