Friday, November 30, 2012


Lots of practice today, lots of costuming and a bit of stress thrown in to boot.  But Madison doesn't look bothered at all!  It's the last day of November, and we've spent the day scrambling to get things together at the last minute for a big performance at the church Sunday.  Things are coming together, but it's all been a stressful ride - especially for Mommy.

It's not as stressful as being the goat though:  this poor guy went up in Sweden!

Imagine knowing that somewhere in dark corners, nefarious people are planning and conniving to burn you down.  This poor goat has got to be stressed!  The opening weekend celebration is this weekend in Gävle, and hopefully the large goat will make it a little longer than just two days.  Last year, things weren't so happy for the goat, who was set ablaze rather quickly one night.

It looks cold there, doesn't it?  The weather here has been downright chilly at night, just about sub-freezing.  However, there's been absolutely no precipitation the last few weeks.  Lake Lanier looks pitiful, the water level so incredibly low, which is sad again.

Bright spots:  we've purchased some tickets to a ballet upcoming.  Not "The Nutcracker," but rather "Babes in Toyland."  We'll take Madison to that, together as a family, and have some fun there.  We'll obviously want to watch the movie versions first.  It'll be a fun holiday season - we just have to survive this weekend first!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Bells

Lots of office time this week as we prepare for December - we even got some handbells in.  These have been with the church for a bit and are pretty pricey.  But that didn't stop us from fooling around with them.  Make sure you check out the video above in order to see our Unofficial KidPak Handbell Choir.

It just puts you in the Christmas spirit something fierce, doesn't it?  We're in full-on Christmas mode now, where Christmas music permeates through the air, and everyone is jolly.  Okay, so we're trying to be jolly lately, despite the "being busy" part.

Today we did a lot of running around looking for costumes, props, and whatnot.  We've been quite active, but still we've had a few moments here and there to rest, or take a break.  For example, we've been quite addicted to Einstein's Bagels of late, and as our travels for costuming took us down towards Buford.  Daddy found a place that has a great lox and bagel breakfast, which is a blessing in itself!  It was nice to just stop and take a deep breath, and chat for a bit.  Mommy got her "everything" bagel, while Daddy had himself a pumpkin latte, which is that sort of drink I don't usually go around ordering.  Another moment to release some steam was the video above:  despite all that was going on in the office, we were going to do our bell performance.  Madison was in the audience, behind the camera - everyone was laughing at the end.  

Another thing to be thankful for: we had favor in our quest for items:  we found exactly what we needed, and weren't stressed about getting back to Madison in time.  We did have to rush a bit to get Madison's homework done though, as we had another Christmas drama practice.  Things are coming together somewhat better, although there is so much left for Mommy to do.  Once again, there is a lot that is left to the last minute, so that puts a lot of weight on Mommy to find this or that.  Fortunately, Daddy was along for the ride to help get things - at least that helps a bit!

Things will calm down soon enough - that's what we have to look forward to!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Daddy and Lance picked up Madison from school today, as Mommy is still out shopping for plenty of costuming material for the upcoming Christmas production.  Anyway, Lance had the bright idea of stopping by Starbucks, which has nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica.  It does have everything to do with a coffee craze that has swept this generation for the past fifteen or twenty years.  Blame us for craving overpriced coffee.  Mommy and Daddy used to go to local coffee houses before the Starbucks came around - now they're all gone.  That's pretty much the equivalent of the Wal-Mart coming and shutting local businesses down.  But of course, you don't hear anyone complaining about Starbucks, because that's somehow different.

But I digress.  We're not anti-Starbucks here, although Mommy finds their coffees a bit strong.  Daddy got a cold drink with the words "peppermint" and "mocha" involved, which is in essence a fancy caffeinated milkshake.  It tasted pretty good - and as Lance was buying, we got Madison an apple juice.  It was an "organic apple juice," which on the surface seems like a slightly redundant title - but I do get the whole "artificial sweetener" thing.  Regardless, Madison chugged it down quickly, as she was thirsty.  

When we arrived at the office, she was interested in trying out what Daddy was drinking, and lo!  Here was another recordable moment.  For posterity, in the picture above is Madison sipping her first Starbuck's beverage, surrounded by the support group that is Daddy, Lance and our new friend Christy-Anne, who happens to be a certified Starbuck's coffee master.  NOTE:  She is only taking a few sips, and not drinking the whole thing.

For the record, Daddy and Mommy aren't exactly coffee drinkers.  We do enjoyed the Maui coffees, but we're not those types that need to have coffee each morning.  I know that's the sort of thing you say, and people look at you funny:

Today was Madison's first cooking class after school.  The "Learning with Legos" classes ended, and now we begin an exciting new series of classes about cooking.  Or at least learning to cook.  When Lance and Daddy went to pick up Madison, she was actually carrying an egg that she cooked - on toast.  On a plate.  Needed to clarify that last part.  Anyway, she was busy munching her own creation, and Daddy is so proud.  By the time she's done with these classes, she'll have more cooking knowledge than Daddy.  Which, of course, isn't say much at all.  Presently, I can use a toaster.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Squishy has been around for quite some time in our family - it's a water bottle.  But it has a name.  That's because Squishy has been with us so long now, he's like family.  Ever since Mommy first developed cancer, Squishy was with us to help deal with some of the associated discomfort.  Mommy's healing has been an ongoing process, one that has taken many years really.  And so there's Squishy, the old family friend.  Just like when Mommy goes to make tea, we heat up the water and there you go.

Unfortunately, Madison has actually needed Squishy about three times the last week.  She's not quite sure what to make of her stomach pains, but she's had three occasions - tonight being the third - where she tells us she's really hungry.  Even though she just ate.  Soon afterwards, the tears come - we know it's something more than hunger.  The two things that have helped here are pills for gas, and Squishy.  Tonight, Madison wrapped herself up in a blanket on the couch after taking the pill.  She, Daddy and Squishy sat together and watched the Eloise Christmas movie, and soon she was feeling better.  We're not entirely sure what's up here, but we'll be keeping an eye on the situation.

Today Mommy was doing a LOT of work for the upcoming Christmas drama at the church.  She was out shopping at thrift stores and looking for clothing and costumes all over the land.  That's why she wasn't home when the latest incident occurred.  In fact, she wasn't able to make it for piano practice either - Daddy and Madison did that today, returning to class.  It seemed like everyone was trying to do a bit of catch-up there, although class was fun as usual.  Still, we'll have to spend some time practicing this week.  Lots to do!

Some of our Cyber Monday deals have come in the mail already!  Yesterday, we did some online shopping and got some deals for Christmas.  Already, Madison has way too much.  Seriously - there are a lot of gifts to list for Christmas.  She must have been very good this year!

The next five or six days are going to be a blur.  We've got to get everything ready for a new series, and everything ready for the upstairs Christmas production.  It's too much on our plates, but when we are weak, He is strong.  With Mommy feeling sick in her tummy lately, and everyone pretty much overwhelmed, we're pretty weak right now!

"I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and shall be my Squishy."  
- Dory

Monday, November 26, 2012

Santa's Jingle Bells

So the idea was to go and mail Madison's letter to Santa today, but she got there at the mall and you know something?  Why not just hand it to him there?!?  You can see here above as Santa reads through the list of Brave items, one by one - he asked if she'd been good this year, and of course she said yes.  Mommy and Daddy did too.  Madison was pretty star-struck, or suddenly shy - but she really wanted to go and meet Santa today.  We posed for official pictures and there was nobody else around, so that meant more one-on-one time for Madison and Santa.  It was a perfect little outing.

Later, we went to the Disney Store to pick up a few items, and talk about favor:  Madison got a special little gift from one of the employees there, a wristband with bells on it.  Jingle-ling!  We had met this employee earlier last month when we were looking for Brave items, coincidentally the same ones that Madison was asking for in her letter!  She was very helpful back then, and we told her about our daughter from China.  Long story short, we brought her back to meet this employee, who was very nice of course.

For the rest of the night, we knew exactly where Madison was in the mall.  Jingle bells, jingle bells!  She was jingling wherever she went!  We shopped about at a few different stores, using gift cards and just looking at all the decorations.  After that, we had a small meal at PF Chang's.  Madison ate two egg rolls and a few bowls full of soup!  The food was good, but it was getting late - tomorrow's a school day.  So we got back into the car and listened to Christmas music on the way to the house.

When we got home later on, Madison's official Santa 2012 picture was put in a special Christmas frame we've had since last year.  Wouldn't you know it?  The entire frame is made up of jingle bells!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Season of Giving

Today was pretty much the last Sunday in our series, "What's Cookin'?"  It was a pretty rushed sort of series, as the month itself was quite busy with all sorts of activity.  We didn't really have time to do it as much justice as we typically do, and yet today's service sort of summed up a few things - the skit made a powerful statement.  We were doing a message about Esther, and one of the points in the sermon Daddy developed was simply this:  we are blessed to be a blessing.  Esther wasn't made queen to have a good time as a royal, she was made queen for such a time as this.

So, with that thinking - and the backdrop of a restaurant just after Thanksgiving with our set - we conspired to do a drama where a needy person shows up.  Characters are forced to make a decision:  go have fun doing the Christmas things they want to, or go help the people in need.  We used a new actor for the part of the guy in need, so it all seemed pretty genuine.  The regularly vocal audience was still and quiet, and the point was made very nicely.  We were pretty pleased.

The point of mentioning this here is this:  we recognize how incredibly blessed we are.  This year, we've got plenty on the calendar leading into Christmas - including a great deal of service with the church.  This week coming up will be a tremendous labor for Zena, as there are many costumes involved in the main production of the church.  But, we still would like Madison to experience that other side of Christmas, the part where we show God's love to those who are less fortunate.

The Salvation Army has it's soldiers out in front of the malls and stores, ringing bells where they are allowed.  Each time we try to get something to Madison to put into the can.  Today, she gave a dollar that Mommy handed her.  The gentleman ringing the bell stopped and smiled at Madison, thanking her deeply.  It was a nice moment - Madison knows about giving:  she searches for offering money each Sunday morning before church.  But there's other things to give than money, of course.  In fact, the most valuable thing of all is her time.

Earlier, she helped stuff stockings for Metro Ministries - and of course she helps at the church all the time, putting things in chairs and so forth.  But we're looking for further opportunities this year, perhaps with the food ministry or elsewhere.  As she gets older, it's important to see that side of Christmas, where we show love to others, even the ones we don't know very well.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Forbidden Picture

Maybe this person above was involved in the Cirque performance - we don't know.  She was standing inside the tent in front of a car, and as a promotion for the car, she was posing with people for pictures.  Despite having cameras, we couldn't take the pictures ourselves - that was "forbidden."

The word "forbidden" sort of makes you think of that part in "Beauty and the Beast," where it is forbidden to go into the West Wing.

Seriously, it was a gimmick to get you to go and find the picture online later, where you'll give your name and email in exchange for a photo.  We weren't really interested in doing any of this, but Madison sure was.  Daddy and Mommy were sort of on their way somewhere else, with the typical "maybe later" sort of approach, but Madison wasn't having any of it.  She scampered up there, dragging Daddy along - because you simply have to pose for pictures when there is a camera nearby snapping photos.  Daddy went to use his camera, but again, this was forbidden!

This morning before dawn, Ba-ba and Nana went back home - it was such a short trip for them, but we'll probably be seeing them in a month.  They don't know that yet, but we're tossing the idea around of going to see them right after Christmas.  Shhhh!

Okay, so today was a work day.  Lots of cleaning up to do around the house after an eventful Thanksgiving.  Also, lots to do to catch up at work with, as we took one day off this week.  The end result was a really, really long night at work.

Fortunately, Daddy got to spend some time with Madison in the morning.  We played that Disney DVD Princess board game again, which Madison has been hooked on lately.   Daddy was clearly going to win this one, but Madison wanted him to throw the game in the end in her favor.  Here's that big moment:  do you teach your child a lesson about how you can't win all the time, or do you throw the game.  Of course, Daddy threw the game.  Seriously, she knew very well that Daddy could have won it - and she also knew that Daddy would let her win too.  That doesn't happen anywhere else when she plays games, and although she's rather competitive, she knows she can't win 'em all.  The only time she can win 'em all are days like these, when she's playing games with Daddy.

I thought for a moment about maybe getting the question right, and winning the game.  But then I remembered.... it is forbidden!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Yep, these were pretty much our seats for "Totem" today, second row and right up there, close enough to see all the elaborate costumes in fine detail.  Madison was looking upwards quite a bit, as there was plenty to see high above us - the trapeze artists entertained her the most, although the girls on the unicycles were astonishing.  There was so much to like about this production - we put it in our top five of all that we've ever seen from Cirque du Soleil (and that's a list of about nine different shows so far).

We got there a little early, which was great because it gave us time to look around the merchandise they have inside the tent.  This is somewhat of a tradition, as Madison likes to put on the masks and the fun hats, as you see above.  We got a program and a CD, as usual, and a BIG helping of popcorn.  It was enough to last Madison the entire performance.  Daddy also got his water bottle back!  Last year, I drove the car out of the drive way and forgot the bottle was on top of the car - it fell off and kind of got messed up.  ANYWAY, we have a new one this time, which is great!

The day itself was largely all about this.  Yes, it was Black Friday, which meant shoppers were rushing about with their treasures.  We didn't really get involved in that, and we don't typically.  We did look online for a few "lightning" deals, and took advantage of some good shopping for Madison's cousins Hannah, David and Jonathan.  We also pretty much finished up Madison's shopping for Christmas - yes, you read that right!  At least... we finished shopping for the big day.  We've still got plans for the advent calendar season, and of course we've got little stocking stuffers to get...

We slept in big time this morning, all of us.  Mommy made a big breakfast for everyone, and then we basically each did our own thing for a bit until it was time to go.  For Madison, that meant playing the Disney Princess Video Board Game that we got a few years ago.  We've been playing it on and off over the past few years, but this morning, Daddy, Madison and Nana played it until the big finish, where Madison found herself at the royal ballroom first.

Soon though, it was time to get ready to go.  As mentioned earlier, we got there with plenty of time to spare, a nice and relaxing drive down.  And the drive home was just as easy, although there were a few of us completely zonked in the back of the car.  Madison slept hard all the way home - she was quite worn out!  It was still early, but she went to sleep and did some catching up on her rest.  It was quite a day!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving started nice today, as everyone actually got to sleep in this morning a bit.  Usually, Mommy is up pretty early because of the size of the turkey.  However, this time around we got a smaller turkey and therefore didn't have to get up so early.

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is that smell of turkey that fills the house.  They should sell candles that have that smell!

Anyway, we set up the antenna in the living room, and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television in the living room as we prepared for dinner.  When I say "we," of course I mean mostly Mommy.  She's the master chef, and everyone else are just assistants, desperately trying to get all the odds and ends in place in time.  Set the table, put out the decorations, take out the trash - everyone had a bit of hustle and bustle today as we got ready for the big feast.

And what a feast it was!  Ye-Ye, Nana and Grandma joined us in the afternoon - the weather was perfect outside - and it wasn't long before we were all together at the table.  Mommy made her delicious butternut squash soup, her sweet potato casserole, and all the delicious traditions of Thanksgiving.  And, of course there was the turkey.  What a wonderful feast, and a special time together.  We set the table in the dining area, and filled our plates - and our stomachs!

We took a little break, chatting for a bit in the living room beside the tree.  Christmas music played, and the sunlight streamed through the windows.  Usually, the doors are wide open because of the intense heat in the kitchen - and today it was perfect for it.

The eight of us enjoyed a perfect Thanksgiving, with Madison having the greatest time running from relative to relative, having some fun time with everyone.  Speaking of which, that night it was time for some more fun:  our annual trip to the movies Thanksgiving night.  Tonight, we went to see "The Rise of the Guardians," which is a mouthful to say for a kids movie.  But then again, it was not quite a movie for kids under the kindergarten age - it had some intense moments for the younger set.  Imagine "The Avengers" with your favorite holiday incarnations:  the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Jack Frost, and of course Santa.  See them soaring through the air, blasting frost, throwing eggs, and battling Pitch, the Bogey Man.  Visually, it was an amazing movie.  Otherwise it was a decent movie - not one Mommy would want to add to the collection.  Still, Madison loved the Tooth Fairy - we may have to roll with that imagery for a bit (although Daddy still prefers the Molinator!).

Madison was so cute with her big tub of popcorn and the 3D glasses.  Ye-Ye, Nana, Madison, Mommy and Daddy had nearly the entire theater auditorium to ourselves tonight - there were only two other people in the whole room!  Hopefully the movie doesn't bomb that bad - perhaps everyone is out shopping or something.

It was a pretty big day.  Evidence of that is the way Madison quickly fell asleep in the car on the way home.  It is always a wonderful day - and this one will join the ranks of best Thanksgivings ever, as we've got so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bad Sweater Party

You're looking at the winner of our bad sweater contest!  Tonight, we had everyone come over after work and bid one of friends a fond farewell.  Mary Jo is moving away to South Carolina, having received a great job offer and wanting to start a new chapter of her life.  She's been with KidPak for about ten years, so you can imagine she's had quite an impact on all of us.

So tonight we threw a "going away party" that happened to be a "bad sweater party" where we did an "ornament exchange" and everyone brought "snack and desserts."  Daddy popped in the Christmas music, and quite a few people showed up for the party - about twenty-one by my last count.

It was a good time to be with friends - Mommy, who you can see in the center of this picture above, did quite a bit to make sure everyone was welcome.  By night's end, she was rather exhausted.  But everyone had such a good time.  Not all the sweaters were bad, but Daddy had a particularly nauseating one with Santa's head on it.

Even Madison wore a Christmas sweater!

You can see her holding up her prize.  She's very proud that she "stole" it.  You see, we did that game where everyone brought a different ornament, and the game proceeds as people open presents and steal from one another.  Madison actually got the ballerina ornament from someone else, and somehow got to keep it by game's end.  It might have something to do with people being unable to steal from a six-year-old girl, but that's to her advantage and she made it work.  Currently, this ornament is hanging from the highest bough on her pink tree - the perfect addition!

It was a fun night for everyone.  We even had one of those virtual fireplaces up on the wall just for fun. What made it more funny was our Gävle Goat that was nearby:  we put it just under the fire, and it looked as if the thing was on fire.

That, of course, is a Christmas tradition noted here frequently as Christmas time approaches.  Incidentally, the Gävle Goat is supposed to be put up on December 2nd this year, which isn't too far away.  We'll be sure to monitor that, as the world anxiously awaits this poor goat's fate.

Meanwhile, tonight's festivities were a huge success!  Everyone had a great time, and stayed a lot longer than usual, just sitting around talking with one another and doing some catching up.  Daddy took a lot of pictures, including some of a few families in front of our tree.  It was a great night, but quite a bit of work for Mommy, who is smart to get some sleep early tonight:  tomorrow is an even bigger day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012 KidPak Office Thanksgiving

Last year we started a quasi-tradition, where sometime during the week before Thanksgiving, we get everyone in the KidPak office to bring a dish for our KidPak Office Thanksgiving.  Last year's was fun, but this year's was really huge.  We had a lot of food here, but it's not just the food that makes for a good time.  It's the company.  You can see Madison anxious to try some food, but the whole time she was playing with her friends, while the rest of us were chatting the afternoon away and enjoying each other's company.  It was so much food that nobody could eat pretty much the rest of the day!

We posted a video of the event here, which gives you an idea of the atmosphere of the day.  We did manage to get some work done while we were there, but this is one of those weeks where the pace sort of slows down a bit.  We've still got a big service to plan for on Sunday, but the next few days are important to stop and recharge for a bit.  The Office Thanksgiving was just the right ticket!

Tonight, Daddy and Madison went looking for bad sweaters - we're hosting a bad sweater party tomorrow night, and Daddy found a couple bad ones right away.  We went to a couple thrift stores with our friend, and went back home to spend time with Ba-Ba and Nana - who also spent the day at thrift stores.  We shared our adventures, but everyone seemed a little more tired tonight:  maybe it's the turkey!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dear Santa

Daddy helped Madison with her first letter to Santa this morning, which you see above.  There were a couple places where we had to use the eraser, but other than that she did just fine.  Notice how pretty much everything has the word "Brave" in front of it.  She really loves that movie "Brave."  The note reads:

Dear Santa,

     Please bring me Brave costume, Brave shoes, Brave wig, Brave bow and arrow, Brave movie, Brave X-box Game, Brave book, Brave pajamas, Brave Shirt.  I've been good this year.


I'm fairly certain she'll get all of these - the pajamas are the only thing on the list we'll have to talk to Santa about, but the rest are in the bag.  Santa's bag, that is!

Madison is off of school this week, which is great for catching up with sleep for all of us.  We slept in, and Madison climbed into bed with us this morning and we slept in some more.

Mommy spent a good deal of time cutting coupons out this morning, and then heading out to the shopping stores to get the groceries for the big day on Thursday.  Meanwhile, Daddy and Madison did piano practice, board games, and of course video games.  We also watched Christmas movies, and waited for the big arrival of some special guests:  Ba-ba and Nana!  That's right, they've come up from Florida to spend the week with us.  Nana has a doctor's appointment, and the two will stay for Thanksgiving as well.  This is great news, as we all get to have a big family Thanksgiving together again.  It's great to get the whole family together for the holidays, and this Thursday we'll have Daddy's parents and Mommy's parents there - and even Daddy's grandmother.  We'll be sure to take a family portrait again, this one nearby the tree.

It was a long drive, but a safe and uneventful one.  Madison was obviously very excited to see Ba-Ba and Nana get here. It's going to be a great week!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fall Movie Bash

It was a pretty long day for Daddy, from services in the morning to the Fall Movie Bash in the afternoon to Christmas drama practice in the evening - a full day, but a fun day.  Madison was at church for most of this time, enjoying it all the way!  She went to the Fall Movie Bash with many other children, and together we all watched the movie "Arthur Christmas" on the big screen.  Here she is in the audience, sitting with some friends.

She had a great day, and in the afternoon quite a Christmasy sort of day.  The movie, of course, had that flair.  But afterwards, we entertained the kids on stage with different skits and movies - and Daddy came out with the world famous Wisenheimer invention.  It is a helmet that "reads minds" and puts up what you're thinking on the screen.  Or, in this case, it put up on the big movie screen just what you should get for Christmas.  The guy who was helping Daddy pick kids to try this out actually picked Madison about halfway through - and guess what her gift on the screen was?  And iPad!  Of course, it had to be the most expensive thing up there!

She had a great time, and so did we.  The movie was actually pretty good - it just came out in theaters last year.  We had Christmas music playing, and all the kids were munching on popcorn throughout.  It was a holly, jolly afternoon!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Gift 2012

This afternoon we returned to Pierce Auditorium at Brenau to see "The Gift," a presentation by the dance company Praise in Motion.  Each year, we've taken Madison to see the story of Christmas, as told through ballet.  This year more than ever, her eyes were staring straight ahead at the activity on the stage:  she was really into it.  Here's a picture of she and Mommy, just before the show.

This is certainly a tradition, something we've been seeing for about ten years now.  With Madison, I'm guessing about four years.  It is always in the middle of the month of November, and typically kicks off the Christmas season for many, although we've pretty much been in full-on Christmas mode since the first week of the month!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Madison picked up her melodica - if you don't know what that is, we don't blame you.  We had to look up the word just moments ago.  It's a keyboard/woodwind instrument - this toy version we purchased at Cracker Barrel some time ago.  She's played it from time to time, just testing out the notes and so forth.  But this time around, she picked up on the fact that it's pretty much like her piano - and she decided to try out her recital song, "Clap Your Hands."

That's the video you see here, which was a fun surprise for Mommy and Daddy - and hopefully you as well!  

Friday was a day for work, and the last day of school for Madison for a week.  She did some Thanksgiving-related assignments at work, which thrilled Daddy as well.  She was able to tell us about where the Pilgrims came from and after some coaching, even the boat they sailed across the seas on.

She really is learning a lot, and learning quickly.  Little moments are passing by quickly all of the sudden - these landmark occasions where those basic educational building blocks are in place, whereas they weren't there before.  Example:  Madison can count to 100 now.  She just started listing the months of the year in order as well.  She knows the days of the week in order as well.  She'll do all of these in the back of the car, out loud of course.  But we don't stop her, because we're happy to hear it!

Although... we might need a small break on the melodica, if you know what I mean...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cloves and Oranges

Madison enjoys any sort of craft, and here you can see her doing something for Mommy:  she's putting cloves into an orange, and doing her own design.  In this case, it's a smiling face.  Mommy made one too, although it is more of a pattern than a face.  The purpose of these is to make the kitchen smell nice, which it now does.  Another purpose is to keep Madison busy!

She has been practicing with piano, of course, and also keeping busy with homework assignments.  This week's letter is the letter "u," which was harder to find things for - but we did:  underwear, unicycle, unicorn, umbrella - and upside-down Christmas tree.  We cut these images out after printing them, and Madison puts them all together on the weekly letter sheet.

Mommy and Daddy are slowly recovering from strep throat, so we weren't out doing too much today - although we did go to another Christmas drama meeting this morning.  Another Christmas thing we did today:  we mailed our stockings.  These are the stockings that Mommy makes each year - she sews fabric together and makes about sixteen to eighteen stockings.  Then she proceeds to stuff them with small toys collected throughout the year, and leftover Halloween candy!  We sent these up to New York, and I think they'll be greatly appreciated.  Mommy always does a good job here, diligent to get these sent off for children who might not have much this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jack on the Shelf

The Jack on the shelf is watching you!  Rather than your typical "elf on the shelf" watching you, we thought it slightly more vaguely threatening to have Jack Skellington on a shelf watching you.  The thought of the elf of the shelf watching you has always been a bit eerie, hasn't it?  You look way up on this shelf, and there's this elf with a smiling face, staring back at you.  Studying you.  And some houses like to make a game of it, where the elf isn't always in the same spot each day - one moment they're way up there on a shelf, and the next they're a kitchen counter just a few feet away, sort of like the Weeping Angels from Dr. Who.  Look out!  Here comes the creepy Elf on the Shelf!

Fortunately, Jack isn't like that at all.  In fact, here's how we found him this morning:

Madison found him this way on the couch this morning, apparently watching some television in the great room before we arrived. 

Daddy came home to spend a little time with Madison and Mommy - today was Madison's last day of "Learning with Legos," so I picked her up from school afterwards.  She's enjoyed this class, but what else is new?  She likes Legos, so it's sort of a given.  We put a few more decorations on the tree while home, and listened to some Christmas music - in that short time together, Mommy even made some hot chocolate with marshmallows, which was absolutely perfect.  The weather is quite chilly outside, so that was the perfect thing - quite tasty.

Speaking of tasty, here's a video of the pie fight we had Friday night.  Pretty messy stuff!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fall Piano Recital

This afternoon we had another piano recital, where Madison and her friends had an opportunity to play a piece they each chose, and also sing a song as well.  Madison played "Clap Your Hands" and sang "Love Somebody," and joined the rest of the kids in a few other songs, either singing or playing the triangle for "The Royal March of the Lions."

She is beautiful, but actually all the children looked very sharp.  Everyone was dressed up, and did very well with the production.  We're thankful for Mrs. Pam, and all the work she puts into helping our children get better and better.  Madison does have a little bit of stage fright though - she was playing this smoothly and perfectly, ten times a day in fact.

This morning, Mommy and Daddy went to the doctor's office and got the confirmation:  strep throat.  Again!  That's three times this year for Daddy and twice for Mommy.  She's actually only had it three times her entire life, and twice this year alone.  Madison is healthy, fortunately.  But the last few days for Mommy and Daddy have featured sore throats and high fevers.  And fortunately, we're able to go get it all taken care of at the doctor's.  The other bummer is the new car:  we have to have new brakes on it.  If that sounds like deja vu, you're right:  we just had new brakes put in the other car only two weeks ago.  Also, the oven just stopped working.  We're having someone come to look at that Friday, and hopefully we'll have Thanksgiving all figured out - after we pay some more there.  Also, we just paid our property taxes, so there's some more income out the door.  It's one of those times, but rather than complain, we're focused on how remarkable it is that we sold the house last month and are more able to afford all of these.  You can choose to complain about the events happening, or you can choose to be thankful in the remarkable timing that things sold last month, just in time for us to be able to handle all of this.  So, we will make ourselves happy and content.  Despite all the bad news left and right, we're not that stressed.  It just might be because we're heavily medicated - but we do have a sense of peace about things.  It really does help to focus on the blessings in our lives, which are too numerous to count.

Tonight we sat down to our half-decorated tree (we've been too exhausted to finish it lately!), and we watched a few more Christmas specials.  It was nice to snuggle on the couch together, the three of us.  The weather is starting to turn very chilly outside, so it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pink Tree

Here's Madison decorating her tree, something she's done now for the last four years - including three at this house we're at.  She doesn't remember the first time she got her tree, but we sure do.  And thanks to this blog, we can look back and remember together!

For this tree decorating, we put in all kinds of Disney Christmas music and Madison went to work right away, looking through all her ornaments.  Her favorite might be the Mystery Machine, which hangs proudly towards the top and center of the tree.  I think it was actually the first one put on the tree this time.  Also hanging there is a stocking with Madison's name on it.  This little stocking has been in our Christmas collection for about six or seven years - we got it well before we actually made the trip to China to meet Madison.  We were then just dreaming and praying for a little girl, and we had already settled in our minds the name of that child:  Madison.  So for a few years each Christmas, we'd hang that stocking up on the tree with her name on it.  Joining the collection was a small bell with her name also written on it.  These ornaments are a part of her collection for her tree now, but they hold special memories for Mommy and Daddy too.

As for the big tree, we didn't get around to decorating it.  That'll have to wait.  Today was a sick day for Mommy and Daddy again.  It's strep throat again.  We went to the doctor's this morning to confirm it, and sure enough we were positive.  This makes the third time this year for Daddy.  Mommy has had strep throat three times in her life, and two of those times were this year.  We're just sitting ducks for that strep virus!

We spent some time at the doctor's and some more time resting in the morning, as neither of us were feeling that well.  When Madison got home, it was time to go to the chiropractor, so we went there together.  Again, Madison was a giggle factory.  Forget amusement parks when you can just go to a chiropractor!  She loves the vibrating back thing, and gets a major kick out of it when she gets an alignment.  Who knew having back work could be so much fun?

Tonight before bed, it was piano practice, then bath time, and then "Prep & Landing."  We only watched one of the two Christmas specials, but we'll catch the other one probably tomorrow.  Both of these are very good, and if it seems like we're getting into the Christmas spirit pretty early here... you've got that right.  We're excited about Thanksgiving as always, but Christmas is so much fun!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

High Tea

After service today, Madison set up a table in the middle of the office and decided to have tea.  There are a lot of people in the office at that time, so everyone was invited to sit down at one point or another - even an old friend our ours, Daniel.

The picture at the top was posted on a social network, taken by a cell phone.  An employee here, Chris, was enjoying her high tea very much, as Madison is always an excellent host.

Her office behavior is so much fun.  She took that really big megaphone in the office, and right while everyone was working spoke loudly through it - directing her voice right at Josh:


I have no idea where she picked up this phrase from.  But apparently Josh was chosen for something.  He nodded in appreciation and told  her thanks, and she went on her way.

A little later she came back and used her megaphone once more:


Josh was stunned here.  He turned to her and said, "I'm not chosen?"

Madison put the megaphone down, smiled and told him, "Just kidding.   You're really chosen."


Saturday, November 10, 2012


Today was a big day for Madison - it was time for her Santabration!  Daddy got off of work a little early, and together we went down to the Mall of Georgia for the big Christmas celebration.  It was the kick-off of the Christmas season, and the time to welcome Santa to the mall.  To start out with, there was a parade - this featured a marching band, walking pretzels and pizzas, teddy bears, kung fu children, and a float filled with adorable little dancers like this:

Madison helped decorate the float, along with Mommy and Daddy and a bunch of other parents.  It was sort of a last-minute effort, but it all turned out well in the end.  The parade traveled around one side of the mall, and Madison rode on a parade float with the other children, each one tossing out candy to the spectators on the side of the road.

They wrapped up things right at the stage, where the dancers entertained a pretty big crowd.  Here's a photo of Madison and her friends, dancing to Jingle Bells.

It was all very cute - and at the end of one routine, Santa came out himself to greet everyone.  And that's not all he did.  Right there from the stage, he started the countdown for the lighting of the mall's tree - and Madison was right there behind him, helping out.  They counted from ten, and soon, the Christmas season was started for the mall:  the tree lit up, and the crowd cheered.  Then it was time for some more dancing.  Madison's friends took to the stage, and entertained the crowd with reindeer costumes, angel costumes, and even a few elf costumes (these elves were clogging to that RUN DMC Christmas song).  It was quite a night!

As it grew darker, it grew colder.  The next thing planned was a showing of the movie "Elf," but we were a little chilly, and a little tired too.  Mommy and Daddy are coming down with something, but that didn't stop us from really enjoying the evening.  It definitely put you in the Christmas spirit!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hat Day

I'm so glad they still do Hat Day at schools.  Today, Madison had Hat Day and chose her pink cowgirl hat, which looked fabulous along with her pink ensemble.  This was a picture we took this morning before heading off to school.  Interestingly enough, one internet site lists International Hat Day as actually November 25th.  I'm not sure the thinking behind this:  I mean, Thanksgiving Day is bound to fall on November 25th from time to time, and who is going to be thinking about hats on a day like that?  No, having it earlier in the month is the better strategy.  Hats off to anyone who can see this through, although I have just discovered another site that has National Hat Day as January 15th.  Again, there seems to be a potential conflict of interest on this date, as it is exactly Martin Luther King's Birthday.  Now, if he wore a lot of hats, then I think we could possibly have an interesting combination to build on to make the holiday more interesting.

ANYWAY, Daddy spent a late night at work doing a pie fight of all things, which I think we'll be showing here soon - maybe even tomorrow after it is edited completely.  It was very messy, but essentially part of a life-long dream.  You see those pie fights on television, and just imagine how much fun it would be to get into one, tossing pies and getting completely covered in whipped cream.  Well, Daddy and the others were completely covered in whipped cream!

Mommy had meetings about the upcoming Christmas drama today, and Madison continued her practice for the piano recital once she got home.  Talking to Daddy on the phone, she was very proud of her effort with practice.

Tomorrow night looks like fun:  she's a part of the parade that precedes the arrival of Santa Claus at the Mall of Georgia.  Also, the lighting of their Christmas tree.  It'll be a really fun day!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gävle Goat

Well, Christmas season is about to be in full swing here.  You know why?  Because Mommy got us our very own Gävle Goat!  

Can you believe she found this at Goodwill?  It's got "Made in Sweden" on a sticker right there on the bottom, and you have to ask yourself:  how obscure is that?  It's a reproduction of the Gävle Goat, the one they make each Christmas season, and the one many people monitor carefully each day, wondering  when the next vandal is going to burn it down.  Hopefully this year it will last a little longer.  I think last year the poor thing only made it to December 2nd.

Don't worry - nobody is going to burn ours down.  Or, at least I hope not!  We can't exactly replace this one, so it seems unlikely that we'll be setting it ablaze any time soon.

To further that Christmas spirit, while Madison was at school Daddy set up the Christmas tree and put the lights on it.  Tonight after piano practice and dinner, we actually hung a few ornaments on the tree, although we were a little tired and didn't do too much there.  Don't worry - we'll finish tomorrow.  Tonight, we largely sat on the couch together and watched "The Grinch."  This is the first Christmas movie we've watched this season, which is a little later than usual actually.  We've got a lot of ground to catch up on there!  

It was the first time that Madison saw the live action version of the Dr. Seuss story.  She enjoyed it quite a bit, as did Mommy and Daddy (like always).  It's one of our favorites, one that we seem to quote year round.  We're not alone in that regard:  some in the office quote the movie left and right.  The reason for watching that movie in particular was this:  Mommy was doing research.  That's right, she's got to do a whole lot of costuming for a Grinch segment for our church's Christmas drama this year.  She'll find out a little more tomorrow, but in the meantime, she was taking notes as she watched.  And eating popcorn with the rest of us!

Sometimes Madison will hear a joke on the television, think it's funny, and that'll be her thing the rest of the night.  In this case, it was pretty much a throwaway joke from the movie where at Christmas dinner, the Grinch asks if anyone wants the gizzard.  Someone answers yes, but the Grinch responds, "Too late!"

So before bed tonight, Madison kept asking us if we wanted this or that.  When we'd say yes, she'd laugh out loud:  "Too late!"

Tonight we prayed for our country once more:  the northeast especially.  It seems as if this hurricane was as bad as Katrina a few years ago, at least in regards to the recovery ability.  Part of the problem is the new storms coming in, with such cold weather.  Hopefully things will clear up a bit, but for the time being, it's quite a mess - and has been for a few weeks now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

So the first President that Madison will be really aware of growing up is President Obama.  He won his reelection last night when 61 million people voted for him.  58 million people voted against him, which is a closer election than our Electoral Map shows.  The end result is a sharply divided country, once again.  Not that we think either winner would be able to change that.

Coincidentally, the stock market is plunging today, somewhat like it did after the election four years ago. I think I read somewhere that these two drops were the biggest post-election drops since they've started keeping records on that sort of thing.  Everyone seems to be pointing to a "fiscal cliff" as a reason for the downturn, as if investors just suddenly started thinking about that today or something.

Maybe - just maybe - it's a lack of faith.  I mean, that's all the stock market is, right?  Faith in the future?  So perhaps quite a few people were feeling a lack of faith in the future, because our government leaders can't seem to agree on the best course of action to take.  Complain all we want, but these people represent us, and our views.  And we are the ones that elected them.  Which brings me back to a divided nation.  Was it always this way?

When I read the book "John Adams" some time ago, a reality sunk in.  He and Jefferson went at it, and just plain didn't get along for years and years.  It's a story of redemption at the end though, as the two do eventually make up towards the end.  But for a time, their rivalry and bitter opposition was incredible.  And yet today, nobody remembers this - unless you've read the books.  It makes me wonder if Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden had a huge polarization issue to deal with.  Political rivalries have been a part of our history since the beginning.  Which leads me to wonder if everyone a hundred years from now will forget the divisive hate-fest we've got going on right now.

Today, lots of people are elated, while others are in mourning for the country.  To quote the great philosopher Captain Roos Tarpals:  "Ouch time."  There are quite a few major disappointments over the last four years, so it is difficult to be optimistic that we will have hope for some change.  Which in itself is ironic.

It's not the same country we used to be.  In some ways it's better, and in many ways it is not.  But God has promised to heal our land, if we only humble ourselves and seek His face.  So like always, we'll put our trust in Him, and continue do what we need to do from this point on:  keep calm and carry on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Map

Madison was checking out the electoral map tonight before turning in - it's on a website that you can adjust the colors of all the states on the map.  Her goal was to make them all red, although that's not quite what happened.

We had quite a busy day today, leading up to the big night.  We had ballet practice, which was a big one because Madison actually will be performing this Saturday at the tree lighting ceremony at the Mall of Georgia.  Also, there's a piano recital coming up next Tuesday, which promises to be fun as well.  Daddy and Madison will have to do some practice for sure - Madison will be singing one song, and playing another:  "Clap Your Hands."

Madison actually had off of school today because it was an election day.  The school became a polling place, so Madison got to stay at home with Mommy.  We all slept in too!

It turns out, we'd need the rest... Daddy was seeing red all night, but not necessarily on the Electoral Map.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

We saw a movie tonight, and a good one at that.  "Wreck-It Ralph" was a tribute to video games, but had plenty of references to older ones as well as new ones.  Pac Man was in the movie, as was Chun Li and Princess Peach.  These were in the commercials as well, those scenes also earlier in the movie - the heart of the movie takes place after that, featuring four main characters who carried the story out well.  Madison really enjoyed it, of course.  She sat there with her bucket - we bought a plastic refill bucket to save some money in the long run.  She had her 3D glasses on, and it was game time.  Disney did a fantastic job with this one, even throwing in a new princess.  Mommy and Daddy liked the movie too.

As it was a day after the new series, it was largely a day to recover mentally and physically.  For my part, I went to bed last night at 7:00, and woke up at 8:00 or so, eleven hours later.  We packed up a lot of the Halloween decorations - and waited until Madison was gone to throw out the carved pumpkins.  Let's put it this way:  they were ready to get tossed.  They served their purpose, and looked very nice this year.  But we didn't need to introduce any more microscopic fungi into the house at this point.

The Presidential polls are tied at this point, so it's anybody's game apparently.  Certain pundits are calling it one way or the other, but the majority of professionals out there are saying it is too close to call.  Tomorrow, the rest of the country votes (we voted early), and this long national nightmare will be over.  It is somewhat of a stressful thing this year, and we're not even in a battle state.  Our state is solid red, and has been for a few years now, always choosing the Republican candidate over another.  We vote anyway, of course.  It's the ultimate Presidential poll, the one that really matters.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, with all these hundreds of polls out there, why is it that NO ONE has EVER called us.  EVER.  In all my years, I HAVE NEVER been called ONCE to be asked about who I'm voting for and so forth.  What's up with that?  Who exactly are these presidential poll people calling, and where?  I'm suspicious!  Or perhaps, just jealous?  We just don't get called about things like that.

I'm sure people in battleground states are tired of getting calls themselves - both sides of the fence are reaching out by way of nasty television commercials, radio ads, billboards, and telemarketers.  While in Florida (a battleground state), we even saw a plane writing in the sky.  It said, "VOTE LIFE."  Madison saw her first skywriting that day.  The people paying for that message apparently wanted us to vote for the one candidate that can really heal our land.  I took a picture:

Can't argue with that one.  The last few years, something worse than Wreck-it Ralph has come around this country and done a whole lot of damage.  There's only one prescription:

"But they make themselves low in my sight. They pray and look to me. And they turn from their evil ways. Then I will listen to them from heaven. I will forgive their sin. And I will heal their land. After all, they are my people." 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIrV

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What's Cookin'?

Another long night Saturday in preparation - and another great success Sunday morning.  Mommy did great with props and costuming, and Daddy did the scripts, as the rest of the team came together to make a perfect recipe:  "What's Cookin'" was a great morning at KidPak.

We had plans to do something after service, but all of us were just a bit too tired to do much at all.  Instead, we stayed at home and caught up on some movies just recently purchased:  "The Secret of the Wings," a Tinkerbell movie - and "Madagascar 3."  Yep, we sat around and watched movies the rest of the day.  Madison even wore her rainbow wig to watch Marty and the rest of the animals at the circus.  The Tinkerbell movie was pretty good too, including the extra movie included about the Fairy Games.

Mommy and Madison were at church last night until 10:00 pm, working late to get things set up.  The thought was that this morning they would sleep in and pass on church, just to make sure Madison got her rest.  However, Madison had different ideas:  she actually woke up on her own, despite the late night.  She went into the bedroom with Mommy (Daddy was already gone and at church).  Then, she woke Mommy up and asked, "Aren't we going to church?"

Of course she was!  Mommy woke up and got things ready.  For her part, Madison dressed herself and was waiting to go out the door.  So Mommy and Madison made it this morning to church after all, leaving after that first service to go home and catch up on that rest.

And it really was a day of rest:  we didn't have the energy for piano practice or anything else.  In fact, Daddy went to bed at around 7:00 or so.  The night before, he got about three hours of sleep.  So staggering up the stairs, it was lights out in every way imaginable.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tea Time with Madison

Daddy edited this video tonight, and it turned out rather well.  The reason this is such a great video though, is Madison.  She was so into this tea party, and it was a shame to have to cut some of the footage out.  At one point, she sincerely asked all of us if we wanted milk - and there was no hesitation from any of us:  we were going to have some milk!

Today was a big work day, as we were preparing for a new series.  Daddy was struggling with writing a script into the wee hours in the morning, and Mommy was in, working on costumes and the display case as well.

It was good to have Madison here today.  Her laugh is contagious, and everyone's spirits are lifted when she's here.  For some, it's immediately playtime, as she likes wrestling with just about everyone here.  This photo was taken as Madison was taking a snack break, while watching "Madagascar 3."  We didn't take much of a break today, but we'll get that tomorrow.

Friday, November 2, 2012


We're almost done with this election season, and in a lot of ways, we're all grateful.  It's been ongoing, and stressful, and divisive, and pretty much a daily reminder of all the things we don't like going on in this country.  Half the nation is thinking one guy is better, and the other half thinks the current guy is better.  It's one of those topics you don't really bring up, because people are so impassioned and divided.  We ourselves pretty much fall into that category as well.

Today, Madison was sitting in front of a computer with the two candidates on the screen in front of her.  Daddy told her a bit about the election, but not anything about what the two candidates stood for.  I asked her which one to vote for and she chose the challenger, Mitt Romney.  Why?  The answer is simple:  he was surrounded with a red color, whereas the President was surrounded with blue.  She liked one color over an other.

Many people will be voting Tuesday using a very similar logic.

I'm not entirely sure how each party got their respective colors.  Apparently, this is a recent thing based on our media's choices when presenting the story on election night.  Traditionally, it appears the colors should be the opposite - but somehow over the last decade, red stands for Republican and blue stands for Democrat.

So it doesn't necessarily mean anything at all.  Red, of course, is a more communist color, which makes it an ironic choice.  Perhaps there's the thinking in assigning the colors.  I don't know.

Anyway, Madison has made her choice - and so have we.  In a few days, we'll be done with it, and probably more divided than ever.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Fair

Once Madison was home from school, it was time to be whisked off to another magical place:  school!  Yep, we turned around and went back to school - but this time it wasn't for a parent-teacher meeting.  This time it was for the Book Fair!

Back in my day, we didn't have a Book Fair.  We had a Bookmobile.  This was the ultimate ride, if you're into that sort of thing.  You walked up into this truck, and it was like you were in another world, just loaded with books.  Plus, the name "Bookmobile" is cool.  Only the Wienermobile tops this vehicle on popular car lists.

Back to the Book Fair though:  we went to the library, which seemed like a good place to put books.  A section was converted into a Book Fair, which wasn't so much a "fair," but rather a place where they had a whole bunch of books for sale.  When one hears the word "fair," the general thinking is that there'll be rides, candy and loud music - but that isn't quite the case here.

Daddy was very enthused to go about looking at books with Madison.  Of course, we let her pick her own book.  Mommy even found a book for herself, filled with creative dessert ideas.  Daddy found a book to read to Madison later, which actually went really well with her homework assignment:

The book is about a boy who is telling his teacher what he wants to do when he grows up.  Madison had a homework assignment where she had to fill in the blank:  When I grow up, I want to be a ____________.  Immediately, you cannot be an astronaut, engineer, or architect, because that would be bad grammar (article agreement).

To help with this assignment, Daddy read this book to Madison, which was a lot of fun.  One of the reasons for the fun was that it was written by the man himself, "Weird Al" Yankovic.  I think they took the "Weird" part out of his name on the cover in order to give him a more scholarly name.

Anyway, we listed a squillion careers with Madison after reading this humorous books:  all options for Madison when she gets older.  Yes, there were plenty we left off the list (telemarketer, septic tank specialist, etc.).  Daddy thought for sure she'd go with paleontologist or something cool like that, but ultimately she chose dancer.  Daddy made sure she elaborated on that "dancer" part by having her write in "ballerina."  Don't want any confusion there!

So the book fair was a big success, anyway.  Madison did pick her own book, which was a Lego Star Wars book.  This book fair was evidently sponsored by Legos, because there were a lot of Lego books there.  There were other books too, but we wanted to get out of there without spending fifteen trillion dollars.

Earlier in the day, we had another Christmas meeting.  These meetings work best when they're actually on your days off, apparently.  That aside, we're just now starting to discover the costuming ideas fountaining forth from the creative tank.  That gives poor Mommy a very limited time to get things together, of course.  But we don't expect it any other way - some churches have their acts together back in August, but (sarcasm alert) that's way too soon for such a large project like this!

Okay, enough of that.  Today after the meeting, we went to Texas Roadhouse to eat.  It was an official date for Mommy and Daddy, and that was nice.  We headed home after that, and got ready for the book fair, where we got about four books total - and a gift card for Madison's teacher.  Sometime on her break, she'll run down the hall and spend her gift card at the book fair before it leaves town.  She'll probably get a book with Legos in it.