Monday, December 31, 2012

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Well for Madison, the answer was sleeping!  This may have been the first year she didn't quite make it - but that was probably because she was up so early.  It's also because she had a fun day.  It started out with games in the morning, as been our routine of late:  we'll have to start adjusting that when the new year starts.  It's time to return to piano practice and homework!

It's also time to start getting up a little earlier too.  We've been getting up around 8:00 or so, and frequently before Mommy.  Daddy and Madison will sneak downstairs and play the X-box with the volume on mute - this time trying out "Epic Mickey 2."

     It's okay so far - Daddy was looking forward to it quite a bit.  Visually, it's a lot of fun, but technically, it's not quite a game for Madison yet.  And in some ways, not a game for Daddy either - lots of figuring out to do.

      It's okay, because soon Mommy was awake, and Daddy and Madison were on a mission to go out and get cheese.  We were going somewhere tonight, and needed cheese.  Yep, it's that kind of night.  Also, it was getting close to lunch while we were out, so Daddy took Madison on a date - to McDonald's.  Again, we've been sitting on gift cards over the years for McDonald's that we've never spent.  SO, Daddy took his $25.00 in gift cards, and went to McDonald's with Madison, where she scarfed a kid's meal - and he got his precious McRib.  Ah, such a sentimental guy I am, longing for the taste of the past.  McRib's are similar to Booberry, in which they only visit with us once a year - and there seems to be a crazed cult following behind them.  Count me in the group this year, but it may be the last time:  these past two McRib visits have left my tummy feeling odd.  Blame that on the pancreas or something - but the McRib and I may be splitting up.

     We got home, and it was almost time to go.  We got ready, and got in the car - and drove down a different way to our destination:  that way, we could go over Buford Dam.  This was the first time that Daddy has ever been over Buford Dam, but that may have been one of my resolutions for 2012.  Well, I got to it just in time!

We arrived at the Hitchcock's house once more, just like last New Year's Eve, and Madison had a wonderful time.  She was a ball of energy with her friends Abby and Rachel.  They played dress-up all night long, constantly stampeding down the stairs to give us somewhat of a fashion show.  As always, there was plenty to eat there for everyone!

Here the girls are, Abby, Madison and Rachel.  All adopted from Asia - from countries that are closing up their opportunities to adopt.  Just this week, the news again was about Russia's decision to stop allowing their children to be adopted to citizens from the United States.  This, from what I read, is in retaliation for something unrelated to children's adoption.  That makes the decision even more unfortunate than it already is.  Abby and Rachel's mother was ready with all kinds of statistics about why this was a bonehead idea, but even before we knew the specific details, it was pretty obvious:  the only ones suffering from this would be the children.  Obviously, parents waiting are going to be hurting, especially those who are in Russia or are about to go over for adoption.  Imagine the hopes that are crushed because of politics as usual.  Unlike in China, the Russian adoption process involves lots of bribery and extra money coming in from the Americans visiting to pick up their children.  Now, all that money will be gone, so there's someone else that will be hurting with this weakened world economy.  Dumb move, Russia.  But then again, Russia has been historically a place of dumb moves.

At least these precious children Abby and Rachel are here and safe - and as you can see above:  happy. It was a very nice time we had - the grown-ups spent time talking and sharing, as the kids thundered about upstairs, playing in rooms, probably creating a huge mess.

We were tired early though - it's been a long month.  Well, it's been a long year, actually.  Anyway, we left around ten or so, and got home to Madison to bed.  Before taking her upstairs, we all posed for the last family photo of the year, somewhat of a tradition now.

Daddy told Madison when we were going to bed - "See you next year!"  She didn't quite get it yet, but she does understand the concept of the new year:  today we looked through a big collection of photos from 2012, seeing all the things we've done in one single year.  It was quite a big amount, and we've been blessed and highly favored.  Even with the bout of pancreatitis in May, I'd still say this was a great year for us personally.  Of course, as a nation, it was pretty much a downer, particularly later in the year.  We somehow survived Mayan and other apocalypses: God has taken care of us, and for that we are grateful.  We hear Madison's voice and are so thankful for what we have.  Come what may, it's been a happy year, and despite the doom and gloom in economic forecasts, we'll remain optimistic about 2013.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blue Canary

Daddy's friend Alan got married in 2011, which all went wonderfully of course.  But one of the more thoughtful gifts from Alan to a few of the groomsmen was this:  a blue canary.  Daddy completely missed out on the joke until literally yesterday.

Sometimes you can be so absent-minded about things!  This blue canary in the outlet by the light switch has been watching over Madison for a year and three months now, faithfully lighting up the room.  Daddy initially thought this was just a nice gift for Madison, completely missing the reference to one of his favorite old songs by They Might Be Giants:

Bluebird of friendliness
Like guardian angels its always near

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

It's from the song "Birdhouse in Your Soul," which pretty much put the band on the  map.  And yes, this gift seems obvious now.  Which makes it all the more humorous and embarrassing.  Today Daddy got to explain it all to Alan and a few other friends, who got a good laugh out of it at least.

But this blue canary (one note spelled "l-i-t-e"), has been faithfully there for a while now, watching over Madison as she sleeps.  Today she was watching over her a little more as Daddy was away with his high school friends for the a late Christmas celebration.  We get together a few times a year for birthdays and the holidays, usually playing games or eating spaghetti.

Today we did this after church:  that went well by the way.  We had our first annual KPTV Awards Ceremony, which was basically a look back at some of the best videos of the year.

The award is based on a character who shows up from time to time, and announces, "I like KPTV, y'all."  During the awards ceremony, Daddy was in a tuxedo, along with two other well-dressed co-hosts:  we made it somewhat like an Academy Awards Ceremony, and it turned out fun for the kids - and adults too!

This was the last service of the year though.  It's been a good year for the children's ministry, one where we've seen Madison go to KidPak Junior, easily making the transition, and easily memorizing verses and following along with her teacher, Ms. Halston.  She loves church, which is just what we want from all the kids.  Some of these children think our services are the equivalent of Disney World, which is not to say we're that good.  The meaning is that they don't have much, and these few services we do each week are basically the highlight of the entire week.  Many kids have admitted to dragging their parents to church so they wouldn't miss anything.  That's music to Daddy's ears, of course.

Daddy got home later, but there was still enough time to spend with Mommy.  We're still watching a few Christmas movies as the year wraps up, and also getting some of the Christmas decorations down and organized for next year.  There's quite a bit to do there:  but the Desantafication Process has begun!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fruit Island

A return for work today for Daddy, who had to prepare for a Sunday service of course.  Before leaving, Madison had set up a special place she called Fruit Island.  You can see it in the picture above. It's called that because of the fruit you see all over it, which makes it a pretty healthy destination.  Madison was putting various stuffed animal friends on a make-shift boat, and shuttling them over to Fruit Island, one at a time.  When Mommy went to ask her how things were, Madison replied, "This is Fruit Island.  Everyone poops better."

This was one of the funnier things I've heard her say lately, but it's related to an incident earlier in the day:  for the first time ever, and without going into specifics, she had some difficulties in the bathroom.  It was a long and painful process, and a new one for her - which made it all the more frightening for her.  But we worked things out, so to speak, and talked about her diet lately, which has been a lot of sweets - and not enough fruit or liquids.  Madison naturally started eating more fruit as a prescription.

But time went by, and the issue went away for a bit.  That's what makes a joke funny sometimes:  bringing up something a lot later, as Madison did.  Of course, to her, it wasn't necessarily a joke - she was making sure all of her friends were eating right.  Which was a good thing to do - and a great outlook for the new year:  healthy choices!

Speaking of "healthy choices," the buzz word of the past few months has been "fiscal cliff."  This is a reference to the dire state of our economy of late, and the governmental spending that a majority of Americans didn't vote for, and yet happened anyway.  There are plenty of Founding Father quotes to pull up that seem rather prophetic about what we're doing wrong as a nation these days, and as a result, there is currently a generally pessimistic feeling we have as a nation.  Two statistics:  77% of Americans are about to pay hundreds more in higher taxes.  That includes us.  We'll pay more in taxes, and circulate our money elsewhere less as a result.  Multiply that by 77% of the country, and there you go.  The other stat, which may be related:  23% of Americans are happy with the direction we're going as a nation.  2013 is going to be a challenging year for our nation, no doubt.  We have no Mayan apocalypse to blame this time, only ourselves.  This may be a more economical year for us, but as with everything we'll keep our chin up.  Things can always be much, much worse, and one easy step to being more optimistic about life is taking a look at all the tremendous blessings we currently have.

Anyway, today went long with work, but we did get a lot done and ready for tomorrow's service.  It will be somewhat of an awards show, showcasing a lot of our videos over the past year.  There's been a lot to look at - we've had a lot of fun.  Madison has been in several as well, which makes them even more fun!

Friday, December 28, 2012

No Weapons on the Table

Madison knows this line from the movie "Brave:"  "No weapons on the table."  She said that to us today as she went to put her bow and arrows on the table.  She looked up at us, expecting us to reprimand her for having weapons on the table.  But how can you reprimand a face like that?  Besides, the arrows look harmless enough.  Yes, I know:  keep telling yourself that.

This morning, we had a big breakfast.  I mean, a really, really big breakfast.  Mommy has taken to cooking us these elaborate meals of late.  Last night's dinner was chicken marsala, and this morning, we had all the fixings you could want for breakfast.  Including tater tots!  Next to the bacon, ham, sausage, eggs, rolls, grits and English muffins were real authentic tater tots.  Yes, the food item deemed more of an afternoon food has once more snuck into the breakfast arena.  The last time we had tater tots for breakfast was in 2008 - we were in China.  Yes, that story again.  Daddy is still scratching his head over having tater tots for breakfast in China.  It's one of those things you don't anticipate!  Not that any of us were complaining.  We love tater tots, especially Madison.  She was eating extra tater tots, and yes, now we don't have any left.

Today was another "don't do much" sort of day.  Although Daddy did do a lot of work towards our new series in January at KidPak.  But I did it from home, so that makes everything a little better.  Also, we did go out for a bit - the plan was to go see a movie, but we decided to wait until tomorrow for that. Mainly because we forgot our popcorn bucket!  So instead, we went to Goodwill and Kohl's in Cumming.  The traffic is still terrible.  You know that line from "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays," where Perry Como sings, "Gee, the traffic is terrific!"

It's a good thing he isn't around to see this, because he'd say something entirely different!

While at Goodwill, we found a gem of a board game:  for only $2.52, we got a DVD board game about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  It's all based on the Rank & Bass animation, and we decided to test it out when we got home.  It was actually kind of fun!  Madison won the first time, but Mommy came back and swept us the second time.  The game features scenes and pictures - and even sounds - from the Christmas special, and players try to pick up misfit toys along the way, earning them from mini-challenges.  The big challenge is getting them before Bumbles does!

While at Kohl's, we actually found a few ornaments for the ornament exchange next year, and we got Madison a new Barbie ballerina one, which was nice.  We were going to Kohl's to get photo albums for the grandparents - but we didn't find any we could use.  Can you believe we found exactly what we needed at Goodwill?  That was some serious favor.  The last few days, Daddy has been making photos for the grandparents - about two hundred each.  That's two hundred photos of Madison throughout the year 2012, pictures of her going to Disney, going on a cruise, looking for pumpkins, looking for eggs, holding chopsticks, graduating from pre-school, and so on.  Lots of pictures, most of which you can find here on this blog, actually.  We make two albums, one for each set of grandparents - and this is the third year we've done it.  Tonight, while watching "Jingle all the Way," we put the pictures in the new albums to get them ready.  Another thing we did was this:  make-up cards.  Yes, we didn't get the Christmas cards done or out this year.  But at least we sent cards out today - better late than never.  We put Madison's picture in each card, the one of her with Santa.  So, in a sense, we did get some things done today, which was good.  We spent time looking back on 2012 too - so many pictures and so many memories.  Can you believe the year has gone by so quickly?

I know:  that's what I always say!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Worlds Away

So today's big adventure was to go see a movie.  It was the new "Cirque du Soleil" movie, called "World's Away."  We took Madison along with us to watch the movie as a family:  we reasoned that she would enjoy it better with a ginormous tub of popcorn, and of course fourteen pounds of smuggled candy from Christmas.

The only location this movie was playing at was the Mall of Georgia, a place we rarely go to see movies.  Yes, the theater is bigger.  But so is the price and the inconvenience.  We were about to find out about both of those when we got there.

BUT, we had some remarkable favor when Mommy found some old gift cards at the house - they were gift cards to the theater we were going to.  We never used them after two years, basically because we never go to that theater!  Daddy looked them up online and found out we had forty-five dollars in gift cards to this one theater.

Yet, we spent ALL of it.  No, we weren't exactly splurging.  For three of us to go see a matinee, and not a 3D movie, plus a tub of popcorn and three drinks - it cost us $43.00.  Again, we were blessed and highly favored not to have to spend a dime.  But it still was quite a difference from our local theater here in Cumming, which in my opinion is just fine.  It's not as huge, but it's a whole lot cheaper.  And closer.  And one more thing before moving on to the movie itself:  getting to the movie theater was easier.  At the Mall of Georgia, we had to first find a parking place.  Two days after Christmas, this was quite an undertaking.  It took us forever!  Then there's the trek to the ticket place, the line there and finally the line upstairs where you get concessions.  It took us over an hour to get there and get into the theater!

But, again, it was all free.  We were blessed, so I'm moving on.  And the movie wasn't bad either!

The three of us sat in this huge, grand theater with about three other families, and took another surreal journey with Cirque du Soleil.  The movie itself is more like a collection of visits to their individual shows.  A woman goes to one circus tent - an old-fashioned one that features an aerialist.  But he falls into the sand below, and as he does, she goes to help him - and they are both consumed by the quicksand that suddenly appears.  Both wind up in Cirque du Soleil's home world, I guess - it's an alternate dimension where giant these giant tents rise up from the mist - each one representing a show they've done in the past.  As these two characters go to look for each other, they go from tent to tent, and we see glimpses of their other shows.  Will they find each other at the end?

We enjoyed it.  So did Madison, who liked the part where they find each other at the end.  Her enjoyment level was also based on the fact that she consumed a whole lot of popcorn and candy!  But she's a seasoned Cirque veteran now, having experienced a two shows already, both "Totem" and "Ovo."  Mommy and Daddy have been to about ten different shows thus far, and now two movies.  Around the turn of the century (I love that phrase), we saw their "Journey of Man" in 3D at the IMAX. This was before the 3D boom of the last five years or so, when going to see a 3D was a novelty experience again.  Of course, it was all the rage in the 50's or 60's.  But then it went away, sort of like drive in movies mostly did.  But a few movies came out in 3D from time to time, such as "Spy Kids 3D," "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D," and of course the "Journey of Man."

Daddy remembers taking Mommy to see this.  We were new to the IMAX experience, where the screen is so huge.  Then on top of that, it was in 3D.  This movie was made when Cirque du Soleil was a lot younger, and yet I still have fond memories of the experience.  It featured a lot of acts from "Quidam," from what I remember, which was Daddy's favorite show they've done so far.

We left the theater, quite sugared up, and popcorned up, if there's such a thing.  And we went straight home.  We thought about stopping here or there to shop, but the crowds were honestly overwhelming.  Seriously, just driving in your car added to the stress level immensely, and we just had this incredible desire to get out of there as soon as possible, retreating to the safety of our own home.

So that was it for the day:  the movie.  It was our big deal!  Of course, we did lots of other things at the house, like play games, watch movies and do nothing at all.  It was pretty much like yesterday, actually!   It's funny that while we play the game "Brave," Madison has to dress up as Merida.  She's got the dress on, the shoes on, and even the bow strapped on.  We're pretty close to finishing the game already, which just goes to show you how much we've been playing that one game as of late.  Yes, pretty ridiculous!

But this is a winter break.  Can you believe that Madison has another week off next week?  We'll start initiating things like piano and homework next week, and even getting her up early.  Although she seems to be fine with that lately:  we hear her little footsteps each morning tromping down the hall, and then she dives into bed with the two of us.  She brings her little blanket, and then goes under our blankets as well - and then sleeps another half-hour or so between us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Do Nothing Party

Today is Boxing Day, which we never get around to.  We have great plans to put on boxing gloves, watch a "Rocky" movie or maybe play a boxing video game on the Kinect.  But that never happens, mainly because:

a).  We have new toys to play with.
b).  We're pretty wiped out.

So "Boxing Day" is again down for the count.  But "Brave" is certainly in.  Madison and Daddy had some major X-box time, playing this one game pretty much all morning.  And then some.

It's actually a better game than I thought it'd be, as it is in fact a co-op game:  Merida is assisted by a willow of the wisp.  So, she's tromping through the forests and snow and cliffs of Scotland with her bow and sword, accompanied by this blue glowing thing that slaps around anyone that tries to mess with her.  That's Daddy, the blue glowing thing.  Call me a wisp!

The tradition for December 26th is this:  stay in your pajamas, and play with toys all day.  I'm okay with this.  Mommy, Daddy and Madison basically hung around the house all day, and never left - not even to go outside and get the mail.  It was so cold out there anyway.

We decided to keep the whole Christmas thing going further, by continuing to play Christmas music - and watching a few Christmas movies as well.  We were delighted to hear a local radio station still playing Christmas tunes, and so from this point on the thinking is that we'll make Christmas much more than a one day event.  Consider it a three-day thing, sort of like the old feasts they'd have in the Bible.  Speaking of feasts, there are still plenty of leftovers - and don't even start about the candy!  We have so much chocolate in the house right now.  We'll smuggle a lot of that into the movie theaters this week - our big plans for the this winter break are to go to the movies a few times.  Yep, it's that dramatic.  Earlier, we spoke of going to Florida or elsewhere - but the best plan of action for December 26th is to do exactly what we're doing now:  nothing.  No piano practice, no homework, no work, no housecleaning, no nothing!  We'll just sit around in pajamas all day and play with our new Christmas toys!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Awesome Good

After all the presents were opened this year, Madison saw the huge amount she had gotten and told us, "I've been awesome good this year."

Yes, Madison, you have been!  Here she is with the big item on the Christmas list, straight from the North Pole.  Yes, Santa checked off each and every item on Madison's list - and get this:  he actually left the list with us Christmas morning, with a small note wishing us all a Merry Christmas!  It was the very same note she handed Santa earlier, and here it is again back in her hands with every item checked off on it.  How neat is that?

Speaking of which, the candy cane garden did grow.  This morning, we raced over to see the pot of sugar soil, and sure enough, there were a bunch of candy canes that sprouted up over night.  What a magical sort of morning this was:  there were presents all under the tree, and all around the fireplace as well.  There was even a present underneath Madison's pink tree (a Brave t-shirt).  There were a lot of things that she got that were Brave-themed, but there were a lot of other things too!  Madison opened each one, and every present was like this one here:

She was so excited all morning long.  Her "Brave" items, she'd clutch closely to her chest, hugging them dearly.  Other things she'd jump up and down after opening.

This morning, Daddy and Mommy were up first, just sitting there in bed waiting to hear her awake.  We heard her gasp, and then her rapid footsteps down the hall to our room.  She ran over to Mommy's side of the bed, and jumped up and down:  "He came!  Santa came!"

There was an enormous pile of wrapping paper when we were done with it all, and an even bigger pile of gifts.  It was a spectacular Christmas - way too much, really.  But we weren't done with it yet!  The phone rang, and it was Nana and Ye-Ye:  there were more gifts to come for Madison, soon enough.

We got dressed and headed over to their place, and then it was time for round two!  Madison got several "Brave" dolls, and even more.  It can't possibly be all listed here, for it is way too much.  It was such a joy watching all the kids open their gifts this year!

Here's a photo of all of us playing the annual "White Elephant Gift Stealing Game."  We don't have a name for it, and nobody seems to remember the rules exactly from year to year.  The basic concept is bringing some funny gifts, and watching everyone open them and steal them from each other.  This year, Daddy walked away with one of the more valuable items, an ant farm.  Actually, I can't wait to try it out with Madison.  She got a small random jewelry box.  Other highlights include a small ceramic frog in a sombrero, and a stuffed Black Knight (from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"), complete with detachable arms and legs.

We had dinner once Nana and Aunt Shain came back with Great Grandma.  Together, we ate and played with our toys and watched a few more Christmas movies, just spending time together, which is all we really need.  The weather outside was supposed to be threatening a little later on, but that all held off long enough for us to enjoy the day together.

When dessert time came, it was time for some cakes!  This year, Mommy made the most wonderful cake - a birthday cake for Jesus.  She made the icing and everything - take a look!

It's His birthday we're celebrating, after all.  This year, we did something quite unique:  we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, and Madison and Hannah blew out the candles afterwards.  It was a sweet moment, and a good reminder for Madison about what the day is all about.

Later on, we came home and played with our toys some more:  Madison just couldn't wait.  Mommy and Daddy plugged in "A Christmas Story," and the rain finally started coming down outside.  It was a special Christmas, although it seems this year to have come so much more quickly.  Still, we'll always remember this one for the magic of the morning, and that gleam in Madison's eyes when she saw that Santa really did come last night.

This year, Christmas was really awesome good!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve, 2012

So here we are again on Christmas Eve - this one started as others have in the past:  early.  First things first:  Jingle the Elf.  He was on his way out this morning, and he left a note to Madison saying as much.  It was time for him to return to help Santa out at the North Pole - but it certainly has been a fun month at our house.  He left for us some seeds, apparently, and these will actually grow to become a candy cane garden.  We'll see how that turns out tomorrow, I guess.

Here he is, showing us the "soil," "pot," and "seeds."  There's even a cute little poem he wrote to explain how it all works:

Find yourself a pot that's deep,

Pour in the soil in a great big heap,
Bury your seeds in the soil all the way,
Then watch what comes up out on Christmas Day!

Daddy's a little skeptical, but he's not going to be one to rain on any elf's parade.  If he says it will work, we'll give it a try.  Here's Daddy and Madison, planting the "garden."

It was fun burying the mint seeds in the sugar, although it was a little sad saying goodbye to Jingle the Elf.  He's been a lot of fun this Christmas season, that's for sure.

After the planting, Daddy went out to do a little last-minute shopping for Mommy, and just for fun he brought Madison along for the ride.  This gave Mommy some quiet time in the morning, a gift in itself.  But Daddy and Madison were having a great time going to the Mall of Georgia, watching people rush by with their treasures.  The Christmas decorations were up and the music playing.  The mall was packed, as were the shopping centers and roads all around.  Really, it was a pain driving - no fun at all.  I suppose that's a good sign for the economy though.  At least for the local economy:  there were a lot of people out on the roads today.

It's not as stressful when you don't have as much to look for at the last minute.  Daddy again did not have much to get - it was all about atmosphere.  It was fun having Madison as well - we brought the stroller, and went for a stroll up and down the mall.  And we went to Cracker Barrel, and a nearby Hallmark store.  We even stopped at a Publix.  Talk about some desperate shopping there - but believe it or not, I found something exactly right for a stocking stuffer.  Mommy's just crazy about that Ghirardelli chocolate, and there was a Ghirardelli nutcracker there.  Nice little stocking stuffer!

We got home just in time to relax a bit - Daddy wrapped a few presents, as did Mommy.  Another thing we did was read books:  Daddy read a whole lot of Christmas books to Madison.  Some had the Christmas story in them - a few from the shepherds' perspective, and a few that just told the story as written in the Bible.  One thing that Daddy read was "The Night Before Christmas."  Daddy's never read that to Madison before (although he has read the "Pirate's Night Before Christmas" several times). We sat by the fireplace, and Daddy literally read about eight or nine books to her, and all was well with the world.  It was such a sweet day.

Soon enough, we were on our way over to Ye-Ye and Nana's, as is our tradition each year.  This year, we actually drew names for family members, and exchanged a few gifts the night before Christmas.  Madison opened a few presents as well!

She's quite happy with this remote-controlled car, especially on the hardwood floor we have at the house.  This is something new for her - she was already having a lot of fun with it at their house as well.

Now, as usual, Ye-Ye and Nana prepared a metric ton of food for all of us.  It was really great to be with family, just sitting around and talking and being together.  Eventually, there was a motion to put in a Christmas-themed movie.  Now Daddy had plenty of other options, but Aunt Shain, David and Jonathan all wanted to see the Star Wars Holiday Special.  This has been documented here on this blog as really, really, really bad.  But if you're a Star Wars enthusiast, there's a bit of morbid curiosity going on - it's almost like a hazing event, some sick initiation to see how much of a fan you really are.  So against better judgment, we popped in the DVD of the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Here's the general reaction:

Yes, it was that bad.  Again.  This Christmas Eve will always be remembered now, won't it?  We did watch a few other Christmas specials, most notably the Kung Fu Panda holiday special and a few others.  It was nice exchanging gifts and having the time to be together this year.  We usually have time to spend together, of course.  But sometimes, that time is a bit more limited, as there is typically a Christmas Eve service to be involved in some capacity.  Not this year - our candlelight service was this past Sunday, so everyone has been pretty excited to have a day or two off this year.

It was a late night for us, but not as late as it usually is.  One reason for this:  all the presents were already wrapped.  Santa got that done early, and there was not much for us to do in regards to helping him out.  Still no evidence of growing candy canes in the garden, but I suppose we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if anything pops up!

Until then, we wish you a Merry Christmas once again!  Santa is on his way, according to NORAD.  This year, they were tracking him on a satellite radar, where you can see his positioning on a map of the earth.  Following him along, we couldn't help but notice he skipped the entire country of Namibia.  Seriously, we were watching him go from country to country in Africa, and he just passed right over that entire nation!  Either NORAD is having a hard time really following him, or those people in Namibia are very naughty.

Not long until NORAD has Santa over our place.  We put Madison to bed, and left things nice and tidy for Santa.  The cookies and milk are in place, as are the carrots for the reindeer.

We know he isn't coming until we ourselves get to bed - so it's time for a long winter's nap.  To all a good night!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lights of Life

Jingle was going for a ride on his sled this morning, which meant he had to have snow.  And snowflakes, apparently.  Each one of those snowflakes must have taken a while to cut out!  And that sled is pretty cool - it is on candy canes, making it a completely edible sled.

This morning was the last church service before Christmas, so it was a sweet one for everyone, and a much more relaxed format than the last few weekends.  There was a candlelight service upstairs, a tradition for the church that goes back a ways.  Daddy and another guy were in a video they showed upstairs - it turned out pretty funny.  We showed the same video downstairs:  it was a "how to" video about doing a candlelight service.  Of course, we weren't about to do burning candles with that many kids, so we instead opted to do glow sticks:

It was nice, complete with a whole lot of Christmas carols.  This year, Madison has really grown to love Christmas carols.  Her favorite CD is a Disney one, of course.  It was a CD that we originally looked down on, thinking it wasn't as good as some of the others.  And yet, it was used with her ballet classes, and all of the sudden she just loves to hear this thing over and over again.  She especially loves to hear "Silent Night," which is now Daddy's favorite version of the song, because I'll always associate it with the hand gestures that Madison makes to accompany the song.

We spent a little bit of time at home today, but made plans to head out and do something to celebrate the Christmas season a bit.  As mentioned earlier, the price went WAY up for the Lake Lanier Islands Nights of Lights.  It is now $60 every night, even weeknights.  There are three of us in a car, and we're there about two hours:  that basically equals $10 per hour per person, right?  ($10 X 2 hours X 3 people).  This is how ridiculous the cost is:  Per hour, Lake Lanier Islands Nights of Lights actually costs MORE than going to the Magic Kingdom.

All that said, we decided to make a trip over to Lights of Life, a light display at Life University in Marietta.  It was well worth the trip!

There were quite a few lights there, and although not as much - and not as long a path to drive along, the lights were concentrated heavily in certain areas, as illustrated in that picture above.  It was beautiful - there was Christmas music playing, making spirits bright!

Before we got to the Lights of Life, we decided to eat out at a Steak and Shake - and that's where the three of us split an Egg Nog Milkshake.  Madison loved this one quite a bit.  I warned her that she might not like it, because she wasn't a fan of the egg nog I let her try a few days ago.  But not this time: she grinned really big and said, "I love it!"

Here's something else she loved:

Pony rides!  At Lights of Life, they had an area set up with activities for the kids.  Madison really enjoyed the pony ride, smiling wide the entire journey around and around.  We also went on a mini-train ride as well, which traveled up and around the lights a bit.  Mommy got some funnel cake, and Madison and Daddy roasted marshmallows by the fire they had set up there.  And we got to go walking amongst the lights too, which was pretty neat.

Even adding the Steak and Shake meal for three, and the activities we did, and the entry fee, it was STILL cheaper than going to this local light display.  The only downside was the longer drive, but the three of us absolutely loved Lights of Life for what it was.  They had these displays set up along the pathways, each one with animatronic figures inside, just like the old store windows in the forties.  You know the kind?  You can see them in "The Polar Express," "A Christmas Story," "The Santa Clause" and more.  Anyway, they had about four or five trailers in a row with moving figures inside - Madison enjoyed looking at each one.

We had a great time, but it was a pretty long day, wasn't it?  We started out rather early in the morning, but we were ready to leave pretty early as well:  we left Lights of Life at about 8:00, and Madison fell asleep very quickly in the car.  Tomorrow should be a more relaxing day, although Daddy and Madison are scheduling some last-minute shopping together.  We'll take the nice car, although it would be fun to do what Jingle did this morning:  take a sled!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mele Kalikimaka

So here is Jingle, pretty much disregarding the whole "plunging temperatures outside" thing.  Note the "Elf Defense" he's got nearby to keep his skin protected.  The hula girl and beach towel are a nice touch too - and that Santa ornament has been around for ages.  The pineapple cup is actually from our luau we had, which was in fact a wedding shower from the year 2000.  Completing the ensemble is a pair of Mickey-shaped sunglasses from Disney World, which go with a My Little Pony.  As you can see, this little guy has thought of everything.  And all right after Madison went to bed too!

Today was one of Daddy's final work days before the upcoming Christmas break.  Obviously, we have a few services to plan here and there, but the week on the whole should be much more relaxing than the usual.  Add to this the fact that we are not starting a new series the following week, and it makes for a nice break.  Almost makes you want to pull out the beach towel and soak up the sun.  If it weren't for the fact that the temperature is just about freezing outside!  Talk about a dramatic change!

Tonight we were gathering all the presents for tomorrow - lots to wrap for friends, and lots to put together.  It wasn't a terribly late night, and in fact that's one thing about this Christmas that's a bit different:  we're ahead of the game on wrapping and presents.  That makes for a more relaxed next few days, certainly with more rest in the forecast.

Meanwhile, Madison has been catching up on her Christmas movies.  We've seen just about all of our collection this time around, except for a few of the longer motion pictures.  We've got so many half-hour specials on DVD, from Frosty to Olive to the Miser Brothers.  Madison loves them all.  Today she was even watching the Carebears Nutcracker movie - three times in a row, apparently.  Mommy wasn't quite as thrilled with that one!

Friday, December 21, 2012

That's a Wrap!

The Mayans put on the calendar the end of the world today, but evidently there must have been a scheduling conflict or something, as the world did not end as some may have thought.  It's all related to their calendar, and how there weren't any dates left on it or something like that.  The malls sell calendars that run out of dates too, but nobody seems to panic about them.

Anyway, on today of all days, the phrase "that's a wrap" seems oddly appropriate - as that's what Jingle surprised Madison with this morning.  He literally put gift wrap over her front door, as seen below:

When she crawled under this morning, she was able to see the culprit:

Yep, there he is with scissors and tape - he's been quite wrapped up in getting her a surprise each morning.  Can't wait to see what he's got planned the rest of the week.  That is, unless the Mayans somehow missed it.

Today was a "sick" day for Madison and Mommy, who spent much of the day resting as they needed to.  Originally, we had plans to go places and do things, but the day seemed best with us inside the house, and not out in this weather.

Speaking of which, the wind was dramatic today.  The Nativity set blew down, the Christmas trees blew down, and the wreaths were blowing around too.  Everyone had to go out and clean up, but we all probably should have just waited for the wind to die down.  It started late last night, and continued all the way until early this evening - very strong winds, all day long.  Add to that a temperature plunge: it was well below freezing with the wind chill around.  It was a perfect day to stay inside, and put a fire in the fireplace.  We watched Christmas movies - and Daddy did a little work as well, but he stayed home today to help watch over his girls who were under the weather.

All in all, the end of the world was a rather quiet, relaxed sort of day.  We all went to bed a little early tonight - Daddy had to crawl under the wrapping paper with Madison, and we read Christmas stories and even sang some Christmas songs together before drifting off for a long winter's nap.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Sneak

You can see Madison's attempt at a gingerbread house above, and Jingle's attempt at eating it!  It looks like the little guy got caught red-handed.  Or red-hatted.  The icing on his face is pretty incriminating.

Madison saw him this morning, as she got out of her pajamas - and back into another pair of pajamas.  It was pajama day at school, so she wore some Christmas pj's, and brought along a panda stuffed animal as well for good measure.  She had a good day, despite the immense amount of rain that poured down all day long.  Two inches of rain, they say, and the temperatures are plunging.  By this time tomorrow, we'll be in the upper forties as a high.

It was a Wednesday, which is typically a work day for Daddy.  This was pretty much the case for today, except that tonight we were able to spend some time together before bedtime.  The rain poured all day long, and just as advertised, the temperature got really, really cold tonight.

Madison and Mommy are dealing with some serious sniffles.  Coughs galore tonight, which means our planned Christmas stuff tomorrow will more than likely be postponed for another year.  In some ways it's a letdown, but the obvious thing is that we want everyone to be at their healthiest, not just for Christmas, but long after that.  No need to go out and do anything energetic tomorrow - we'll probably just hide inside.

Meanwhile, the wind is very strong outside.  The Nativity Set, wreaths, and trees are all knocked down - no sense in straightening them up yet, as the wind has apparently set in for the night.  Hopefully, Jingle won't go out there - he'll get blown away!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Claymation Christmas

I heard it through the grapevine that Christmas is coming - apparently the California Raisins heard the same thing.  Last night before bed, we popped in the Claymation Christmas, which was a half-hour special from a long time ago.  We used to love watching it each year, the highlight of course being the California Raisins singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Well Jingle the elf apparently got into the spirit of things this morning, and here he was this morning on Madison's keyboard, doing a bit of a raisin jam with about eleven California raisins.  Daddy has held on to these guys since the 1980's, I think.  They came from Hardee's, and I remember going to get fast food once a week in order to pick up a new raisin.  Yep, that's dedication!

Not long until Christmas, huh?  As mentioned earlier, Santa is done with Madison's gifts, so that's okay.  Also, the family gifts too.  Still, we have a tiny bit of shopping for each other, but we're largely done there.  The missing elements this year though:  Christmas cards.  We're receiving a few in the mail, but nowhere near as many as before.  Part of this is the economy and the Post Office:  it simply costs a lot to send so many cards, and it is much easier to send Christmas wishes for free by way of the internet and social websites.  You can even send pictures that way too.

We prefer the old fashioned way, as it's just great to get a nice card in the mail.  But we didn't have time to do that this year for everyone else, which is a bummer.  Maybe we can get something together for a post-Christmas "Happy Holidays" card.  We'll see...

Meanwhile, Daddy came earlier from work today, and actually got to see Madison for a bit before bedtime.  She actually had lots of gingerbread house fun today at school, which means at least we didn't miss out on making one this year, as today at school she made TWO.  Yes, she made one during class hours, but her after school cooking class had her making ANOTHER one on top of that.  Now these aren't anything as complicated as our usual attempts, but they do count as gingerbread houses.  You'll get to see a picture tomorrow, because something tells me Jingle is very tempted to mess with it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Feliz Navidad

Jingle was dancing to a Christmas song this morning, easily one of the most annoying songs in the history of Christmas music.  It's not as bad as "Christmas Shoes," but it's not one of those songs I can't wait to plug in, that's for sure.

Madison enjoyed it at least!  Jingle has been quite busy the last few nights, hasn't he?  It's one of the highlights of the season, as we haven't had much time to do anything else.  Mommy's turn to get sick now - at least Madison has recovered.  It's passed on to Mommy, although Daddy seems to have dodged a bullet this time around.  Tonight, Mommy stayed home while Daddy and Madison went over to Ye-Ye and Nana's to have a little fun:  we helped decorate their tree!

It was a fun time together, hanging up classic ornaments that Daddy remembers from when he was young.  They still have a live tree, just like they've always had.  It looks nice in the new location in the living room there, and somehow we managed to squeeze all the ornaments on.  Each year, we all get more and more, don't we?

While there, we had some egg nog and cookies.  It was a soy egg nog product, which we let Madison try out.  Nope - she wasn't a fan.  Not like Daddy:  he was raised on that stuff.  Some day I'll be a farmer and raise some egg nog cows, just so we can make that stuff year round!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rudolph the Red-Nosed AT-AT

So all day yesterday, a day after we made the small Lego AT-AT, Daddy was kidding Madison about the fact that this tiny little guy was looking for his mommy.  Madison would turn to Daddy and say, "That's silly.  It's just made out of legos."

Oh, did Jingle prove her wrong this morning!  We all woke up to find a winter white wonderland on one of the counters, and Jingle riding on a large AT-AT dressed up like Rudolph, complete with a red nose and antlers.  Madison wandered into the kitchen and gasped, "Oh my gosh!"

That's her new phrase of late.  It's used a lot when she's surprised by something, and this month she's been surprised quite frequently.  This morning she went off to school as normal, the last week before Christmas break.  Or, as they say now, "winter break."

Madison seems to be doing better today than before, which is good.  Her eyes are fine, although she still has a tiny bit of a cough.  Daddy walked her into school this morning, rather than simply dropping her off.  It was late enough that Daddy got to do the Pledge of Allegiance with the entire class.  What a thrill!  And how great to see all the kids rise and put their hands over their hearts to recite the pledge, complete with the "under God" part that was added fifty years ago.  I started to say something right after that, but it was then time for a moment of silence.  Oops!

It was somewhat of another recovery day, especially for Mommy, who worked so hard yesterday.  We pretty much sat around and watched Christmas movies all day.  We've got a huge list to choose from, and now it's actually impossible to watch every single one each year.  Still, we're getting new ones here and there - and just when you think you've spotted all the old ones, there are still a few gems lingering from the past.  A recent joy was watching an episode of the Shirley Temple show that was dedicated to "Babes in Toyland."  Jonathan Winters was Barnaby, with Joe Besser and Jerry Colonna as a few of his henchman.  Classic stuff!

When Madison got home, we did a bit of piano practice, and we even had time for Christmas cookies!

Get a load of those yummy patterns - and the pink trees too!  Madison wanted to make cookies that look sort of like her tree.  These masterpieces were fun to make - and fun to eat!

Afterwards, it was time to snuggle together on the couch in front of the fire.  Although... it's not like we've really needed a fireplace that much lately this year.  The weather has been unseasonably warm the entire month of December.  Dreams of a White Christmas are just that:  dreams.  Although the temperature is supposed to get dramatically cold pretty soon.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... maybe?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elf Portrait

So as you can see, Jingle here has discovered the computer - and the photo booth feature on it.  He's seen above riding a virtual roller coaster, which is how Madison discovered him this morning.  But he also managed to spend a little time snapping photos of himself at exotic locations as well:

Yes, he gets around.  Other pictures of him are from Paris, a coral reef and outer space.  He even used the photo morphing features to make some rather odd pictures of himself.  Madison got a kick out of all of it this morning as she arose.  It was the big day today - another large service this morning with lots for Mommy to do.  Daddy got to stay in KidPak, although he was featured in a movie in the main sanctuary's service.  This is the one they filmed a few weeks ago - the one we had to get up so early for.  Supposedly, everything was a great success.

Meanwhile, KidPak was fun too.  Here's Madison, looking festive in front of our live Christmas tree.

She's been hot and cold this weekend.  We mentioned she was sick yesterday.  We only think this because of a few of her quirky behaviors of late:  she's been unusually tired at times, and yet really active at others.  She says she feels fine, and yet she wants to just be carried places or simply rest in our arms.  We're fine with that, of course, but it is unusual.  The most obvious problem came just before bed tonight:  she had hives on her face.  Both her eyes were a little swollen, and her cheeks were flush.  The biggest indicator of all is that she voluntarily went to bed early.  Now that's tired!

We'll keep an eye on her tomorrow, but we're obviously concerned about that.

So what did we do today after church?  Nothing but a Christmas movie marathon.  Mommy and Madison took to the couch and snuggled under the nice blankets - the weather outside was chilly and rainy.  In other words, the perfect day to sit on the couch and watch movies.  And that we did:  we watched several of our Christmas specials, including a new one we just picked up recently.  It was an episode of the Shirley Temple Show that featured a "Babes in Toyland" performance.  It was actually pretty good!

Daddy spent time working on picture albums for the grandparents - that's one of those annual Christmas gifts we do now.  We collect all the pictures of Madison over the year and put it into one book.  This year was quite an eventful one, wasn't it?

We're all going to bed early tonight, of course.  Everyone's pretty worn out and run down.  Tomorrow, we get another low-key day.  But after that, it's off to the races again, as Christmas is only a week away.  Tonight we'll get some sleep, but I'm not sure if that elf Jingle will be sleeping.  Something tells me he's up to something fun again...

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Again with the elf, but this time probably the most creative endeavor yet.  This little guy somehow got a helium balloon and made himself a gondola to go for rides through the night with.  No doubt, his airborne expedition led him all over this house, where he wound up gently floating in front of our tree this morning when Madison discovered him.  Jingle is certainly an adventurer, with quite a bit of enthusiasm and energy.  Certainly more than Mommy or Daddy have at the moment!

The day was one at the office.  Another big Christmas production - the fact that we've had two this year has simply drained all our usual Christmas time away.  So many things we didn't get to do this year, but at the same time, all that matters is this:

Yesterday, all Daddy wanted was this - to hold our little girl.  The events of yesterday still have us all shaken to the core, and this afternoon Madison needed a nap while Daddy was at the office.  She fell asleep right there while I was holding her, so I snapped this photo of the two of us using the computer there.  It turns out she's been getting a little sick.  She stayed in my arms the entire day, where I had to carry her from place to place.  I was the caretaker today, as Mommy was quite busy with preparations - many of them last minute - no fault of her own, of course.  So Daddy takes Madison home to get medication and rest, and Mommy stays at the church to work late into the night.  She's still there in fact.  Poor Mommy has been sick and stressed - it'll be nice to enter into next week, where we'll find rest and hopefully a bit more relaxation.  The great news is that some others have stepped up to give her some help, so she won't be there until midnight or anything.

Daddy did get some work done today, of course.  Madison was set up watching a few movies, although we did take a break to build a Lego AT-AT.  It wasn't a large one, but rather a miniature one - and yet it still took some time and concentration.  We were so proud of our creation afterwards!

Hopefully everyone will be proud of the Christmas creation tomorrow morning at the church.  A lot of work goes into these things - most of it at the last minute, of course.  But still, a lot of work!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Extra Hug

The morning started out simply enough, as Madison found Jingle into a bit more mischief in the kitchen.  The picture above shows him making sugar snow angels on the counter, which looks like a lot of fun for the elf - but not so much for Mommy and Daddy, who have to clean up after him.  Looks like we're going to have to have a word or two with him!

The day was an ordinary work day, much like any other begins.  It ended, of course, quite differently for us as a nation.  Today was one of those days we will forever ask, "where were you the day...?"  I remember reading about the school in Connecticut earlier in the day, thinking it wouldn't be as bad as it ultimately turned out.  Later on the afternoon, we were all weeping.  We still are.  How and why are questions we'll never really understand.  We know that we don't battle against flesh and blood, and there is no one to lash out against in person anyway.  We want to rage against something, while simultaneously scream in anguish.

Today Madison came to the church with Mommy, as life was going on with the Christmas production.  Daddy hugged her extra long, although she has no idea why.  How could you even explain something so unexplainable?  We just thank God for a child to put to bed tonight, while grieving for the parents who can do so no longer.  We pray for God to heal our land, and tonight as we prayed together before bed, we prayed for those whose lives will never be the same.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Four Food Groups

Candy, candy corn, candy canes, and syrup!

Here is what greeted Madison this morning - it appears as if he's been listening to Buddy the Elf.  Today after school, Madison and Daddy put out the Nativity Set, and even set up the lights.  We also got out each Christmas wreath, and did much, much more.  We watched "Elf," and played some Lego Star Wars, and did some piano practice as well.  Don't forget eating:  we did that too!  Mommy made this homemade meatloaf, which turned out spectacular for a nice cold day like today.  Before bed, we read another Christmas story on top of all that.  We're definitely keeping busy, especially with one last major Christmas production this weekend:  Mommy had been working hard with props and costumes, which has been fairly consuming.  Meanwhile, Daddy's been working on our new series in January, which will be again based on current movies like "Brave," "Ice Age 4," and "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."  We're writing messages based on these movies, and so part of the "research" has been watching these early in the morning, or after Madison goes to bed.  "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" was a new experience for us, a movie we just got a few days ago for this purpose:  it was really good.  It was a familiar story to Mommy and Daddy, at least the part about two parents unable to have a child - and two parents who decide to adopt.  The ending, of course, is really familiar!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Yep, one of those years:  2012 is heading down the toilet!  Madison found the elf in the bathroom this morning, after a bit of extensive searching.  Oh my, to quote one of our friends:  "we hope it was catch-and-release."

More in a bit on a historic date.  Although 11-11-11 was cool.  And 10-10-10 was neat.  And 9-9-9 was pretty unique.

Sad news today about the goat though:

He didn't make it until Christmas this year.  Not sure their plans to resurrect him at this point, or not.  Last year when it burned down, that was it.  Anyway, the Swedes have entertained us for another few weeks at least - the daily checks at the office have been amusing.  Some awful person has to come in and burn it down.  Although the story was somewhat fascinating and peculiar to begin with, I've sort of gotten fond of the old goat of late.  Too bad people have to be some motivated by destruction.  I wonder what they have against a goat?

Madison had a good day after school today - and Daddy got to meet up with her before he had to go back to work for the night.  It was a nice treat to spend time together - I asked her what the date was, and she loudly shouted, "Twelve!  Twelve!  Twelve!"

Because it's the big twelve day, Daddy got a chance to share with everyone at church the Twelve Days of Christmas Price Index.  Each year, a website monitors how much each of the items cost on the list, and how much all the items in the song cost.  This year, if my truelove gave each of the items on the Twelve Days of Christmas, it would cost $25,431.18.  That's quite a lot!

It's a great site, and lots of fun to go through for younger ones as well.  This year, it's somewhat of a scavenger hunt for all of the items on the list.  It's a perfect way to celebrate the number twelve this late in the year.  In fact, I'm about to do that with Madison right now...!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Welcome back, Nativity Set!  Jingle helped get Madison's set out - in fact, it was a surprise for her under the big tree this morning after she awoke.  Immediately, she was playing with the animals and figures.  She lined up all the animals single file so that they could one at a time eat some fruit from a fruit basket.  They stayed that way all day, as soon after Madison had to go to school with Daddy.  Time together in the car is always so short.  Part of that reason is that we live so close to school!

This afternoon after school, Madison had her piano practice - Daddy was with her for that one.  We're doing more complicated tunes now, but we also through in some Christmas fun today as well.  This was our last piano class of the year, and Madison got a special gift from Mrs. Pam, which was extremely nice, and unexpected!  But the gifts didn't stop there:  Madison also got a gift from her ballet teacher in our last ballet class of the year:

Here the girls are, all lined up at ballet practice.  Actually, there's one more class on Monday - I just forgot.  This was added to make up for an earlier sick day from the teacher.  Still, everything was nice at class, and Madison really enjoyed her gifts:  the stockings you see above, an ornament, and even a ballerina figurine.  She had a pretty neat day!

Afterwards, it was time for a Mexican feast - Mommy had cooked us tacos, and after that, Madison was due for a bath.  We didn't have that much time for a television, but we did watch a Christmas-themed Jo Jo's Circus, per Madison's request.

Tonight before bed, Daddy continued with his "Twelve Days of Reading" bit.  We have several Christmas books in the house for Madison, and just before bed, it's been fun reading them.  Afterwards, it was time to get down under the covers.  The weather turned way cold today, which is actually normal for this time of year.  The problem is that we've been so used to above average temperatures, and the change in temperature was pretty dramatic.  Baby, it's cold outside!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marshmallow World

There has been a battle of epic proportions, evidently.  On the left, you see EVE and a Mr. Potato Head dressed as Elvis, accompanied by a snowman henchman.  To the right, there is Jingle, accompanied by Stitch and two Coca Cola Polar Bears.  Using festive-colored lego blocks as walls, they had an all-out war with marshmallow snowballs, hurling them at each other in an apocalyptic battle... that is until Madison came into the kitchen this morning.

"Oh my gosh!" she said.  She says that when she is surprised by something - and this morning was certainly no different. 

Today Daddy finally got some decorations outside, although the rain came down pretty hard throughout the afternoon.  It wasn't snow like much of the country was getting.  This was somewhat depressing, because it is so warm outside of late.  All that will change tomorrow though:  it's supposed to dip into some wintry temperatures.  Still not enough for snow yet.  Our marshmallow snowballs will have to do for now.  Maybe sometime soon in the winter we'll get snow, but remembering a few years back, we'll have to be careful what we wish for!

We visited the chiropractor again today, which Madison always gets a kick out of.  You should hear her giggle when they start massaging her back.  And then when Dr. Williams gets in there, it's always fun for her.  Afterwards, we went to Goodwill to look for "white elephant" gifts, although we didn't find much in that regard.  We did find a few serious gifts, some collectable things still in their packages, amazingly enough.  

We came home, and it was time for lots of piano practice.  Daddy and Madison hit the keyboard while Mommy hit the kitchen for another masterpiece meal.  I pity other people's houses sometimes because they don't get treated as special as Madison and Daddy do at mealtime.

Because piano practice went on for a bit, we didn't have as much time for a movie, so tonight's special was "Frosty the Snowman."  This is that movie that makes everyone talk like Jimmy Durante for a few hours afterwards.

"Ha-cha-cha-chaaaaa!" - Jimmy Durante