Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vampirina Ballerina

Madison and Daddy took a quick detour to the library and picked up several books, movies and CDs.  Let me just say that I love this book above.  It is brilliant.  Seriously, I'm going to have to get it.  Madison loved it too - we read it just before bedtime, and we both wanted to read it again.  It sort of channels "Hotel Transylvania," although this book more than likely came out first.  Speaking of which, that movie comes out next week, just in time for Valentine's Day.  Seriously?  It appears we'll have a really weird cross between the two holidays.  Yes, we've seen "Nightmare Before Christmas," where Halloween and Christmas collide.  But here's a new concept, just a tad stranger because of the distance between the two holidays on the calendar.  I say all this because Madison will no doubt get that movie as a Valentine's Day gift.

She's getting a lot that day though.  There were some sales back in December, just before Christmas, that were too good to pass up on.  We've got a couple Leapster Explorer games tucked away in our secret hiding place (not telling you where that is!), and we've also got a Star Wars Princess Amidala Paper Doll Book.  This I've been holding on to for years!

Just to continue the exam theme of the month, today Mommy and Daddy went to the dentist.  And, yes, we both have to come back.  Daddy has one of those places on his teeth that you just can't fix by brushing every day.  Darn it.  And Mommy's problems go beyond the simple.  Poor Mommy.

After the dentist, Daddy got the other craving out of the way.  During the fast, he was craving ginger dumplings.  We went to California Pizza Kitchen (clad with a coupon from Mommy's online coupon-festival), and we had a very pleasant lunch with all the other yuppies.  It was a very nice experience, and the food as always is good there.  Of course, we ate more than that.  We also took home some tiramisu, which Mommy just loves.  Okay, Daddy loves it too.  But not as much as Mommy.  It is a serious weak spot for her.

We went to the Disney Store after that, and were saddened to hear there will be no "Wreck-it Ralph" lithographs with a pre-purchase of the movie.  Which sort of makes me not care about pre-purchasing the movie anymore!  Seriously, Disney Store, I've been collecting these since the nineties.  I've got a stack about four feet tall!  Okay, so it isn't that tall.  But these are nice, collectable prints that I have in my dresser.  Here's one that we picked up for the movie "Brave:"

Anyway, no more lithographs.  Bummer!  It was a bit of a hassle to drive to the Disney Store to get these movies and lithographs, so you can see how we're probably not going all the way down to the Disney Store anymore to get a movie, not when the lithographs are gone and you can just buy the same movie a lot closer - and in some cases recently they come with other incentives.

Moving on!  Madison got home today as always, and as stated earlier:  we went to the library.  It was good, and we spent some time there looking around.  Madison found a few things, as did Daddy, and together we walked out the door with a big pile of media.  Not before Madison stopped to sit with the statues of the kids reading "Tarzan," of course.

It was a long day, and this weekend will be really long, which is pretty much why we all went to bed pretty early tonight.  The Big Top goes up this weekend, and it'll be a fantastic service on Sunday.  But the hard part will be the next few days:  getting the act together!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spring Storms in January

Madison was dropped off at school this morning, and Mommy and Daddy went off to the doctor's office for a physical.  This was scheduled a long time ago, and it's a good thing to have for both of us.

The end result is that Mommy and Daddy have to come back.  Yep, we both got problems.  I know that was bad grammar, but we're both somewhat "on the mend."  Daddy's problems are simpler:  he's still healing a bit, and the bonus is he's got high blood pressure.  This is sort of a genetic thing though, and for the first time in his life, he has a daily pill.  Of course, when younger, there was the "daily pill" in the shape of Fred Flintstone or one of the characters from that show.  But now it's official:  I'm taking a high blood pressure pill.

Mommy's issues are more complex.  Of course, she had cancer.  That doesn't exist anymore, but there were a lot of issues related to tissues.  I just had to write it that way because it rhymed.  The point is that she's still in a long-term healing process, one that's been affecting her a little more drastically as of late.  It's actually a good thing we had this appointment today, as she's had some rough weeks lately.  We're still praying for a miracle, but God uses doctors as well.  Daddy was supernaturally healed at one point, so the hope of course is always for a BAM! sort of moment where Mommy is all better.  But God does put doctors in our lives.  In the Bible, Luke was a doctor, right?  Why do some people think that God's power is diminished when the sick actually go to a doctor?  That's been the discussion of late, especially as it concerns cancer.  Cancer is such a fast-spreading and evil thing that you really have to decide quickly what to do.  It's a life-and-death moment, and back in 2006, we chose to listen to the doctors as soon as possible.  Yes, they're human and make mistakes - that happens with anything.  But most of all, we learned to be more assertive about what we felt was going on, and most importantly to trust those doctors that God has put in our lives.  The ones we were blessed with really did have our best interest at heart, and were not "too busy" to miss out on crucial details.  Again, Mommy has been suffering for years, on and off, related to the ileostomy reversal.  It seems that radiation therapy has really done a number on her insides.  But it's the best we could do at the time.  We've seen God heal and we've seen others with much more faith than ourselves not got healed.  We don't know the formula, and neither does anyone else but God himself.  The book of Job pretty much sums up that part.  We just do our best despite the circumstances.  It rains on the just and the unjust, but we still know to keep praying for the weather to clear.

Which is a pretty good transition to talk about today's weather:  tornadoes.  Already, we're having spring weather in January.  When Daddy walked outside at 7:00 this morning, and it was 65 degrees in January... I knew we were in for trouble.  Of course, the forecast was for some rough weather.  Yesterday, this same system wreaked havoc west of us, and it was heading our way.  Today in Adairsville, not that far west of us, a tornado touched down, destroying homes and sending cars flying on interstate 75.  This twister was 900 yards wide - that's four times the size of the Georgia Dome.  It traveled for 22 miles, and had winds of up to 160 miles per hour.  And this was in January already!

This storm system was all heading our way - but amazingly, things calmed down as they crossed the state more.  In fact, as Daddy was looking the weather radar, a slight gap appeared in the front line crossing the state of Georgia.  Can you believe it broke up and made a clearing over Forsyth County at just the right moment.  Sure, it rained heavily on us all.  But it just wasn't as bad for us where we were. Still, churches were canceling services left and right, including our own.  I think one fear was flooding roads.  Regardless, Daddy had a night off, so he went home early to be with Madison and Mommy.  We watched "Mulan" together for the umpteenth time, an early Chinese New Year movie choice, during which we had popcorn and snuggle time.

Outside, the wind raged.  The rain and storms had passed, but a front was coming through:  a day that started out in the high sixties, wound up in the low thirties.  Quite a drop for us!

This morning, after the doctor's appointments and picking up of the prescriptions, we were able to make our way to Cracker Barrel again.  Mommy and Daddy love that place - and it helped quell our craving for pancakes - this came from hearing Paul Bunyan tales last night.  It was nice, sitting and talking about things for a bit, the "calm before the storm," I suppose.  But we are in fact pretty calm about things.  Tonight we were praying for those in the path of the storm:  Madison was genuinely sad for the victims - she was near tears thinking about it.  She was also grateful for the protection and grace we have over our lives.  And so are we.  Despite the doctor's reports and oncoming storms, we are grateful for what we have and the grace over our lives.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

National Corn Chip Day

Happy National Corn Chip Day!

Here's a day to celebrate, and next to "Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day," possibly the most exciting holiday in January.  Seriously, this has been one long, boring month.  Of course, we've been sick for about a week and a half of it.  And yeah, New Year's Day was nice.  But that's about it.

But in a way, that's probably a good thing.  We need the month to recover a bit.  Obviously, there's the fast.  But there's also the rest in between.  And also the space to actually get sick in the first place.  No, getting sick is not a good thing - but it's better than getting sick for a week and a half during December, where there's all of this activity and festivity.

So what a great way to end the month of January:  National Corn Chip Day.  We actually didn't even know it was National Corn Chip Day until a good friend of ours alerted us to this most sacred of days.  It was just at that moment that Daddy realized Mommy was out grocery shopping, so he made the call, "Be sure to get some corn chips!"

Meanwhile, we happened up some corn tortila chips at the office, which was cause for great celebration.  Oh yes, this was indeed no small occasion.  We rejoiced, munching on tortillas, mainly because we were all famished, but still taking time to recognize that most honored tradition of scarfing a corn chip.  Further research indicated that National Corn Chip Day is not necessarily set up to honor the tortilla, although it is technically in the corn chip family.  However, we thought it would be best to be inclusive, as it is a free country, which translated means, "I can eat whatever I darn well want to."

Still, it was good to hear that Mommy had gotten home from grocery shopping with official corn chips.  Though not Fritos, they still were the real thing - I say all this just in case anyone in the National Corn Chip Chartered Accountancy Branch is keeping tabs on us.  Yes, we ate official corn chips!

The above picture is of Madison and Daddy, just before dinner, looking joyous as we begin the corn chip feast.  Mommy joined in the revelry as well, of course, opting not to "overdo it," as too many corn chips tend to cause tummy trouble.  Ah, that would be the spices lovingly dropped all over each magical corn chip!

Daddy and Madison only had about ten each, and then the celebration was pretty much over.  It was like Christmas morning, where everyone is waiting all December to open presents, and within a few moments, they're all open and there you go.

I think to further this moment, we need to work on other options for next year, to stretch out the holiday some.  Perhaps a National Corn Chip Day Parade?  Corn Chip Games would be fun, perhaps tossed into a cornhole?  I'm not sure who to contact about this, but hopefully by next year we'll assemble a lot more activity to support this most cherished holiday.

You know, the funny this is that none of us are actually all that crazy about corn chips.  But we are a little crazy, so all in all it was a fun day regardless.

So what else do you do on National Corn Chip Day?  Well, today we had piano classes, of course.  Madison has been brilliant with the chords using her left hand, which has been good to see.  This is due to lots of practice, as subtly indicated here on this blog.  Then there was ballet practice afterwards as well.  We finished another few stories tonight, one being an audio story about Paul Bunyan, as told by Jonathan Winters.  It was actually a lot of fun, and got Mommy and Daddy craving pancakes!

After bedtime, Mommy and Daddy actually went to bed themselves.  Tomorrow is a doctor's appointment - a physical - and we wanted to be well-rested for that.  We'll probably find out first-hand the effects of eating too many corn chips...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bubble Wrap Couture

It was Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day once again, so in celebration, Mommy and Daddy made Madison a nice top made completely of bubble wrap!  You can see her looking stylish above, posing - and later popping!  Yes, she pretty much popped every single bubble you see there.

It's funny what occasionally serves as entertainment to a youngster.  This is not new ground, and yet we still go out and invest heavily in electronics and other complex toys.  When all that's needed from time to time is a sheet of bubble wrap.  Or a box.  For Madison, larger boxes are extremely entertaining.  She climbs into them and shouts out, "Special delivery!"  She'll cut pieces of the box up and create islands to hop across the hot lava in the kitchen.  Or she'll make a boat out of the box.  Sometimes, she just sits there in the box with the lid closed, her eyes peeking out of a tiny hole to watch television!

It was a school day, and a relaxing day for Mommy and Daddy.  Daddy did a lot of proofing, although still not completely done with the two books.  Mommy was cleaning house a bit, doing laundry and so forth.  When Madison got home, we were back at the piano, and also reading some books.  It's nearing the Chinese New Year season, so we've been getting a little more Chinese culture in, here and there.  After doing our homework (this week's letter is "w"), we watched "Mulan," and Daddy even set up the Brookstone foot bath for Mommy on the couch.  While we watched, Madison had to try it out as well - I think she enjoyed it more.  This may be because the water is kept so warm by the device - the weather has been chilly outside, appropriately so.

After "Mulan," Daddy popped in another audio story:  "The Emperor and the Nightingale."  It was read by Glen Close, and had some beautiful Chinese music to support the tale.  Daddy even had a picture book from the story available, so we were looking at pictures as we listened.  It was very nice - and the nightingale's music was very soothing.

Not quite ready for any more work, instead of watching anything for "research," we again continued our romantic comedy marathon.  Tonight's feature after Madison was in bed:  "Hitch."

It was another nice day, although we went to bed a little later than usual.  I think after Madison goes to school tomorrow, we both might take a quick nap!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

No Reservations

Each and every morning, without fail, Daddy comes down the stairs after Madison and Mommy.  She's ready to go to school or church, and Daddy has been getting ready.  He walks down the stairs, and Madison hears his approach.  That's when she rushes through the kitchen, and hides behind the doorway to the garage.  It's so obvious as she storms away, stampeding to her hiding place - and sometimes Daddy makes it to the bottom of the stairs and she makes eye contact with him.  Those are the funniest moments:  he's looking at her, and she still runs to go hide in her place.

This is the part where Daddy has to go through the motions anyway.  And if he doesn't, there's a quiet voice calling out from the hiding place:  "Say, 'Where's Madison?'"  So Daddy starts on his regular morning speech, all while Mommy is standing there, completely in on it.

"Where could Madison be?  Isn't she up by now?  She'll miss school if she doesn't get down here.  Mommy, have you seen Madison?"

After a few moments of this, Madison suddenly jumps out:  "BOO!"

And of course, Daddy jumps, completely not expecting it!


Today started rough, but ended beautifully.  Mommy has been suffering all week with the same symptoms she's had since the ileostomy reversal.  With no answers and no understanding, it's been very difficult to watch her get beat up, and not have any counterpunch.  Well, it's not like there's no counterpunch:  it's more like there's nobody to strike back at.  She didn't make it to church this morning, as she was completely wiped out from a tough night.  Madison woke up on her own, however, quite anxious to get to KidPak Jr.  She and Daddy went to church this morning, and Daddy was heavy-hearted.  He sent an email, asking people to pray, and off he went.

Today's service at our church is one of those special times of year.  Today is the end of the fast, a "Victory Sunday," where we pray for those who have been sick, as directed by the Bible.  We've been fasting and seeking His face, but even our pastor had a setback today:  for the first time that I can remember, he himself was out sick.  It would take something major for that to happen, believe me.  But just like last week, Daddy stayed home.  That was the first Sunday I've ever missed due to illness - at least while I've been working there.

Anyway, word spread about Mommy.  And there were so many people sending her encouraging notes and praying for her.  And praying for Daddy too.  They sent Daddy up to the service upstairs, in fact.  It was such a sweet thing to see so many people sending encouraging messages to Mommy.  More importantly, she felt their prayers - really.  For the first time in a week, she had a much better day - and night.  In fact, for the first time in a while, she slept through the night without incident.

When Daddy and Madison got home from church, we prayed once again.  Daddy walked a prayer cloth through the prayer line: every one of the staff members laid hands on it, anointing it with oil.  Daddy brought it home for Mommy, and the three of us prayed together for her good health.

It was a sweet afternoon together.  Of course, we had the typical piano practice, and we even went back to playing "Brave" again on the X-box.  We rested some more, and Daddy actually finished his books for the Big Top series (just in time!).  We finished our "Shrek-fest" with the fourth movie, and Madison was ready for bed a little early this time.  She'll be getting up for school tomorrow, after a nice three-day weekend off.

Mommy and Daddy watched another movie in our romantic comedy series called "No Reservations."  It can be a tear-jerker at times, but the overall movie is pretty good.  It feels different from most, and has a unique feel to it.  It made Daddy want to get out the chef hats and start training under Mommy's cooking.  I can imagine us around the kitchen, learning a thing or two about preparing scallops in saffron sauce.  Or something else more manageable.  Like toast.

Anyway, our spirits have been quite lifted, and the two of us decided to go to bed early tonight and get that rest we need.  And it came easy tonight, rest for our bodies and spirits.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Tonight we continued the "Shrek-fest" with "Shrek the Third."  Tomorrow night is "Shrek Forever After."  Don't ask me why Madison wanted to watch the first one in the first place - it may have been a seasonal thing.  Two winters ago, we had our Shrek Chia Pet Project in full gear, so perhaps she was missing that a little.  Actually, she's never seen the first two movies - and it's been a while since we saw them too.  So it was fun for all of us.

Today was a work day for Daddy, but it was good to get a Skype call from Mommy and Madison about halfway through.  They both said they missed Daddy, which was sweet.  Work didn't last as long, so Daddy was able to come home and go through some of the normal rituals of piano practice and even a video game or two.  We actually were able to finish the Disney Fairy story this evening, so that's a wrap on that.  We didn't like this one as much as the first, although things got pretty interesting at the end.  There are a few more stories to hear, so we'll continue that no doubt.  In the meantime, we'd better get these back to the library!

Madison has such a great sense of humor.  She's had Mommy and Daddy laughing a lot this weekend, and of course encouraged by that, she's been even funnier.  She's been such a blessing to us, and we've had plenty of wonderful moments, just the three of us giggling on the couch.  The fire is in the fireplace, and the three of us are together at the end of the day, laughing and carrying on.

Each night, she hugs us and tells us, "I love you Mommy.   I love you Daddy."  It doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Not Very Ice

So today was pretty much another let-down in the snow and ice department.  Although we probably could do very well without the ice part, aside from it's beauty.  It is rather a pain to drive on, as evidenced by all the numerous accidents just north of us.  Really, just north of us there were all sorts of problems which were reason enough to stay home.  But here in Forsyth, there wasn't that much to worry about.  Still, the schools didn't want to leave it to chance, so Madison had the day off.  It was very cold outside:  the temperature was reading 26 degrees, but it felt a lot colder with the wind.  There were a few icicles on cars and mailboxes, but that was about it.

Daddy still had to go in to work for a bit.  He did some more work on the devotional, and then went in for some more fun.  Lots of fun, actually.

Here's a screenshot of a video we shot today, part of a dance routine where we are singing "I Survived."  It's actually pretty funny, and hopefully I'll have it here soon on the blog.  What we survived was the fast, which will be the case by the time we show this video.  It features us cramming all kinds of nasty food into our mouths, and is pretty gross, actually.  But the kids will love it, and everyone involved had a great time with the musical part, at least.

Madison's day was rather uneventful, of course.  It's not like she could go out and play.  Strangely, just a few weeks earlier, she actually could have - the temperature was pretty warm outside.  Very strange weather we're having to say the least.

Tonight everyone went to bed early.  Daddy drove around safely, getting home in time for dinner, piano practice, some homework and a movie.  Everyone snuggled under the covers, and then it was time to go upstairs and listen to some more from the latest fairy adventure.  We're almost at the end:  this wand is causing all kinds of problems!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tooth Fairy Magic

Look at this nice card the Tooth Fairy left!  It's a neat little card that has a picture of the Tooth Fairy on it, along with al title note:  "Glad you found your tooth!  Here's a little something special for you!  Love, the Tooth Fairy"

Yesterday, Madison temporarily lost that tiny little tooth, and according to Mommy, there was some desperate searching going on.  No tooth = nothing to put under your pillow.  Fortunately, it was discovered, and as you can see, the Tooth Fairy left a card, and some change under Madison's pillow in the small bag.

LOVE this time in a person's life.  Madison woke up and said very loudly, "OH MY GOSH!"  She was so excited to see the magic in her room - it was almost as special as Christmas morning!  Daddy didn't get to see her reaction, but he certainly heard it down the hall - she was so thrilled!

The day went on from there with Madison going off to school, and Mommy and Daddy staying at home to do some work there.  Daddy was writing the devotional (only three days to go!), and Mommy was doing work around the house.  We watched another circus movie, "Trapeze," which was okay.  So far, we've seen several circus-themed movies, including an interesting one with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price.  Believe it or not, it wasn't a horror movie!  We even saw an episode of Scooby Doo that took place at the circus - a villainous clown is hypnotizing people and trying to shut down the circus.  Anyway, the research goes on!

So does the piano practice and the homework.  Today's letter was "E," so we looked up a bunch of "E" words, cut out pictures and pasted them on a collage.  We even got a picture of Elvis, of course.  After that, we played more Superhero Squad - Daddy splurged and bought Captain America, Bucky and the Red Skull, so we had fun playing that game together for a while.

Tonight before bed, we got really close to finishing the latest Tinkerbell book.  I think we're on chapter 26 now, so things are about to wrap up.  Madison has enjoyed hearing these audio books at night - I think it's a good habit.  Also a good habit is prayer together:  Daddy nearly forgot, so it was good to hear Madison call out, "Prayer!"  Yep, we've got to do that before bed!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You Can't Handle the Tooth!

Madison finally lost that top tooth - it's been wiggly, and frankly pretty weird-looking, just hanging there.  She's spent the last week fiddling with it, and Daddy's been waiting anxiously for that thing to just come out.

Daddy and Lance (pictured above) picked up Madison from school when she made the big announcement.  She had just gone to her new after school enrichment class - it featured arts and crafts, and she had a great time.  She walked out of the school carrying her artwork, as well as her 100 Eye Monster.  And, in her hand was a zip-lock bag that had a tooth inside.  Yes, the Tooth Fairy is coming back tonight!

We snapped that photo up there as soon as we got back to the house, showing the big hole in Madison's teeth.  We did this just before having another delicious soup that Mommy made - she's been on a roll lately with some tasty fast-friendly meals.

We're supposed to get some ice this weekend, but we'll see about that.  We're pretty skeptical here in Georgia, it seems.  "I'll believe that when I see it!"  Of course, a few years ago, we got a lot of snow - and that's what we dream of seeing.  We don't need it over and over again, but it would be nice to see one or two days each year where the snow falls down heavy enough to go out and play.  There's still time this winter, so we might see some before it is all said and done.

In the meantime, we're just simply cold.  Tonight, Daddy did a lot of work at the church, although he's been pretty busy writing for the upcoming circus series.  Still lots to do, but it's starting to come together okay.  The good news is that we're all starting to feel better, for the most part.  Mommy has been having a few problems, so hopefully we'll see her recover by this weekend.  That's what Daddy is praying for, anyway.  We're all so tired of Mommy's recovery process from years ago, obviously Mommy the most.  Lord, let this be the year we see her recover and never look back...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

100 Eye Monster

This may look like some sort of apocalyptic Howard Finster folk art, but it is in fact a creation of Madison's, the "100 Eye Monster."  Tomorrow is a big day at school, the 100th day of school.  To celebrate, students are invited to bring in 100 of something, or have 100 of something to count at least.  We briefly thought about stars on a black poster board, and Mommy's original idea was a good one:  100 gum balls in a gum ball machine (with small pom-poms as the gum balls).  Unfortunately that didn't work.  But, we did notice a bag of 150 various-sized googly eyes.  And that's when our monster came to life!

There were some other homework assignments related to the number 100.  She filled out a sheet of paper, answering questions like this:  "100 ___________ would be  a problem."  Her answer for the blank:  "cats."  Yes, she came up with that on her own.  Very wise answer, Madison!

If she had 100 dollars, by the way, the thing she would buy would be new shoes.

Anyway, it was the busy day for Madison, as right after school we all went to piano together.  And then it was time for ballet as well - we were moving fast from place to place.  Piano is going rather well - we're learning chords, and Madison seems to "get it."  She gets distracted by looking at others, but when she focuses on the task at hand, she seems to do rather well most of the time.  She does get stage fright though. Sometimes she blanks out, but that happens to all of us.  The key is practicing things over and over again - which we've been doing a lot of lately.

It was another bitterly cold sort of day, one where Daddy did most of his work from the house.  He's still stick - which is pretty much what Madison had.  This head cold lasts about a week.  Fortunately, Madison seems to be on the tail end of it, getting better each day.  Last night, she didn't cough at all after she was asleep.  We were very grateful for that.

We're also very grateful that there isn't a real 100 Eye Monster around.  Just sayin'.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blue Monday

According to a certain UK researcher's "scientific formula," today is Blue Monday, the "most depressing day of the year."  

Coincidentally, today was the Presidential Inauguration.  And, the Atlanta Falcons lost the NFC Championship yesterday afternoon.  And, Daddy is still quite ill.  It's not the flu, but it's a bugger!  Stuffy head, runny nose, sinus pressure... the works!  Fortunately, Madison seems to be on the upswing, and Mommy has been unaffected so far.  This lasts a little longer than a day or two, which makes it even more unappealing.  Last night, Daddy was up frequently, blowing his nose and so forth.  So in fact it really was a Blue Monday for us here.  Taking it a step further, if we were outside at all, we would have turned several different shades of blue:  it's COLD out there!

Today was a holiday for Madison, who actually needed one more day with us, as she's still a bit under the weather.  So that all worked out well.  We did the usual rounds of piano and homework on the computer, but we also watched a movie or two, including "Shrek" and that short movie from the theme park, "Shrek 3D."  Believe it or not, she hadn't seen either.  She's so cute popping on those 3D glasses though.  She handed them out to all of us, and we sat there together, munching popcorn and watching things pop out at us from the television.

Earlier, Mommy had kept some of the seeds from the butternut squash that she cut up, with the hopes that we'd actually plant them and harvest our own butternut squash.  Getting Madison in on the process, she and Mommy spent some time today planting the seeds.  Here she is at step one, pouring soil into an egg carton:

No, she didn't get the memo about Blue Monday.  She's wearing pink.  But that's pretty much her standard color these days!

The official holiday is MLK Day, although his actual birthday was six days ago.  The federal holiday was today though, which is the reason Madison had off of school.  Next year would probably be the best year to talk about Martin Luther King, and maybe even visit the center down in Atlanta.  Mommy and Daddy have never been, and that might be a good field trip.  

We all hunkered down early tonight, anxious to get a good night's rest.  The good news is that Madison is feeling better, and hopefully Daddy will be feeling better as well.  It was a nice day, but we were sort of ready for Blue Monday to be over with!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hammerhead Yak

Here he is the Hammerhead Yak, riding atop a saluting Hammerhead Whale.  This was such a funny part of an extra feature on "How to Train Your Dragon."  This was just one of the movies we watched today, as indeed, Daddy took a sick day.  He knew things would be okay at church, as we're doing this movie series and he worked hard to have everything all lined up in advance.  Anyway, the movie was great, and it was the first time Madison actually saw it.  Earlier, I think we thought the dragons were a little too intense.  But it was okay now, and it was kind of interesting looking at all the promos for a live show they are doing - I think we're definitely going to go see that if it tours anywhere near here.

In the meantime today, he was heavily medicated all day, pretty much vegging out.  We squeezed in some piano practice, but to be honest, it wasn't an overly productive day with Madison.  She watched a lot of television - although we did do some of the computer work on her school site.  We've been doing a bit of that each day, and she's averaging about three gold medals a day, learning new things like position, probability, and even the value of coins.  It's a very good program, as she wants to get more and more, and along the way she's learning basic skills.

Tonight's main feature was "Return of the Jedi," just because she asked.  She simply had to find out what happened to Han Solo.  She knew he had to be okay, but she wanted to see for herself, so we again gathered in the great room to watch Episode VI.  Sure enough, there was a happy ending - and Daddy was proud to say he was there with Madison when she watched Episode VI for the first time.  It was very cool, even without a hammerhead yak.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sleeping Beauty

Both Mommy and Madison took an epic nap today - just about two hours long.  Daddy was at work the entire time, but he heard about it later.  Basically, they're both recovering from a tough week and needed the rest.  It was cold outside, and there wasn't much in the way of homework, or other things that needed to be done.  Monday is actually a federal holiday, so it made for a relaxing sort of day today anyway.

When Daddy got home, it was time for supper once again, a delicious soup that Mommy prepared with mushrooms and potatoes.  It was delicious and warm, just the right kind of meal for a cold night like tonight.

Unfortunately for Daddy, he got whatever it is that's been plaguing Madison all week.  Symptoms are stuffy head and runny nose - all that stuff.  No fun!  He was up all night long.  Fortunately, Madison seems to be on the tail end of this.  It's terrible hearing her cough at night, knowing there's not much else you can do to help her.  No wonder she slept for a good part of the day.  Fortunately, she hasn't had the big fever that comes with these sometimes.  I think that may be because she's had her flu vaccination earlier, or at least that's my hope.

Tonight before bed, she chose to watch "Sleeping Beauty," which is kind of appropriate, isn't it?  She wanted to see the story of Princess Aurora once more, so we all gathered on the couch and piled the blankets up high.  We popped some popcorn and watched a movie together on the big screen.

Daddy's probably calling in sick tomorrow, so I'd say more of the same is in the forecast.  Sleep, sleep, sleep - just like Aurora!

Friday, January 18, 2013


So we didn't have the snow here in Georgia, but you know something?  We made up for it big time by visiting the planet Hoth tonight.  Yes, that's right, tonight was the first time that Madison has seen "The Empire Strikes Back," and as predicted, she loved every moment of it.  Of course, she sort of knew the story - somewhat - because of her experience with Lego Star Wars.  But it was still fun watching it all on the big screen.  She knew all the characters, including Boba Fett.

This was one of those big moments for Daddy, of course.  Can you picture the classic imagery of the father, running alongside his kid as he or she is learning to ride a bicycle?  Yeah, it's that "rite of passage" sort of moment!

Daddy remembers seeing this in the theater, of course.  It was a birthday party for someone else, and it was somewhere in New Jersey.  For it's time, the movie was the greatest thing ever.  And even all these years later, it's still huge.  The special effects were unbeatable for that time, and yet even now, they still look great.  So Madison, Mommy and Daddy sat together on the couch to watch, and Madison spent the remainder of the night talking about it.

We made the decision to keep Madison home one more day, as she was still coughing a bit in the morning.  Although she wasn't coughing as much.  She seems better when she's upright, but that's do to the drainage at night.  The poor thing gets these coughing spells at  night, as she's trying to clear things up a bit.  It's been a tough week at nighttime.  Not much you can do beyond the typical medication for coughs, fevers, and drainage.

It was a longer work day for Daddy, who was spending time working on a Lorax message for Sunday. This will be a great day, but the series has been great this month.  We're really excited about the new one coming up.  Speaking of which, check out some of the artwork for "Big Top!"

Hurry, hurry, hurry!  Stop clowning around and find your seats, because we're about to blast off like a human cannonball!  It's time to learn to be a lion tamer, and walk the straight and narrow like a tightrope!  This is just your ticket, so step right up for the Greatest Show of Love on Earth.  It's KidPak Adventures:  Big Top!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


This afternoon, Daddy brought out a board game, and presented it to Madison with a bit of theatrics.  The game was "Jumanji," one she'd never heard of before.  This was intriguing, as she saw the alligator on the front of the box, and the jungle look to it.  When asked if she knew how much of a dangerous game it could be, she shrugged - and of course at this point, Daddy suggested everyone watch a movie about it.

Madison was quite glued to the television - it was one of those movies I wouldn't show to her just before bedtime, and certainly not alone.  A few scary moments of peril had her on the edge of her seat, but she never claimed to be scared throughout.  This was a fun movie, particularly the stampede scene, if you haven't seen it.

When the movie was over, Daddy asked Madison if she was sure she wanted to play the board game, as he gestured towards the ominous box on the kitchen table.  Madison just smiled, and said, "Daddy, it's only fiction!"

Some time ago, I remember reading this book to her, and she enjoyed it back then.  Maybe we'll make a theme of it, and try out "Zathura" next!

Madison took another day off of school today, although her health appears to be getting better.  She still has that nagging cough, something we heard pretty much all through the night.  Everyone had a late morning this morning, and we were pretty delighted to hear that there'll be another late morning tomorrow:  school will open later, just in case the weather looks bad.  At this point, it looks as if the storm will completely  miss us.  We won't even get much of the precipitation from this particular storm, although we've had rain all week long.  Someone else is getting walloped with snow for this snowstorm, and it ain't us.  In fact, the temperature is not even close to freezing.  So here we are with yet another disappointment for us in regards to seeing the white stuff.  On the other hand, there's no way we'd let Madison out in it to enjoy it:  she's still a little under the weather.

Today we did our piano practice, and our practice with letters, and our practice on the computer too.  We also had fun with some Tag books, "Brave" and "Finding Nemo."  And the Solar System too - that one seems to be fun for Madison.  It's neat that she can tell me which planet has the largest volcano.*  This may seem like a trivial bit of information, but to a kindergartener, it's vital!

Daddy wasn't able to work much on the new series today, but we did do some more "research" by watching "The Greatest Show on Earth," an old circus-themed movie with Charlton Heston and Jimmy Stewart.  It's also got cameos by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, which is kind of fun.  Anyway, it's another good movie, the one that kind of makes you want to go visit the circus real soon.  Which, of course, we are!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not this time!

After some hopeful talk about snow, and rumors abounding, the above picture - and the expression on the weatherman's face - says it all.  No snow for us here.  Not even a glimmer of hope!  This was for tomorrow night, so at least we're not let down at the last minute or anything.  Sometimes they project snow, snow, snow, and we get nothing at all.  Those are the worst!

Today, Madison stayed home.  She was coughing in the night, and was even running a fever at one point.  We medicated her as best we could, and supplied her with plenty of tissues.  But it's one of those things you just have to wait out.  Hopefully she'll recover a bit more quickly, but at least this isn't the flu.  It's a fever with coughing and congestion, sure.  Just not anything monumental.  We've been through that - in fact, this time last year, Madison was struggling with strep throat, and then mono.

So she stayed home today, and we did some homework and also some piano practice for fun.  Daddy and Madison are getting better and better, quite slowly, but also quite surely.  Soon, we'll be master pianists.  Maybe we can even do some of those fun duets!

Mainly Madison was on the couch today under the covers.  The weather isn't all that cold, but we want to keep her warm, of course.  She read books and watched some television, and basically rested.  Daddy was at work today, preparing for a message with pirates tonight.

But we did a few other things, most notably work towards Summer Xtreme and even some assistance with the services upstairs for the grown-ups.  Oh, and check out this ad we made for a movie date coming up.

This ad makes me so happy.  Do you see Chun Li in it?  I think that was put in there just for me.  A graphics guy here does a lot of our stuff, and did a swell job with this one.  I think Madison will definitely be with us this night, but I think she'll be watching the movie with us at home too:  it's "Wreck-it Ralph" again.

It was a longer day, but that's the way these work days are.  Can you believe the fast is half-way over with?  Fast or no, time travels quickly.  Sometimes with the fasting, you feel time stretch out in such a brutal way.  But Mommy has been taking good care of us here, that's for sure.  Meal time has been something exciting just about every night!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lizard

Madison is coughing a bit, but it's nothing on the full-scale level of other folks we've heard and seen.  Still, we're taking precautions.  Though we went to piano class today, we stayed home from ballet class.  And tomorrow, we're keeping her home for the day.  She hasn't missed too many days, so that's a blessing there.

Piano class was a bit of a shock to the system.  "We're climbing a mountain together," is the phrase Mrs. Pam uses as she requests the parents learn a lot of these piano numbers as well.  Today we learned a new chord, adding that to the two we learned last week.  Madison instantly - and without Mommy or Daddy having to show it to her - got the finger positioning right on the new chord.  She just saw it, and played it.  We were pretty pleased to say the least.  Unfortunately, she started coughing a bit in class.  It may have been too much for her, so we decided to go straight home after that.  Rather than go back to work, Daddy went home with Mommy and Madison.

To keep her on the couch and under some blankets, we had fun with her Tag pen.  For Christmas, she got a few new books:  "Finding Nemo," "Spider-Man" and a map of the solar system (which has a board game on it as well.  We started with Spider-Man, who faced off against The Lizard.

This is no doubt a book that came in conjunction with the movie from last summer.  But you'll notice that even this comic gets it right:  The Lizard has purple pants, a lab jacket and a projecting jaw like a lizard.  I bring this up because the latest movie presents the Lizard as, well, basically a Sleestak from "Land of the Lost."  This was huge, as it took away a lot of his character, and turned him into basically... well... a lizard.  Gone are the days were Spider-man battles a T-rex in a lab jacket.  No, now he actually has to fight a lizard.  This pretty much sums up the last movie for me.

But Madison didn't mind the book.  She won't see the movie for years, of course.  But the book is a lot of fun with the Tag pen.  It reads the story, of course.  But then there are pages where you learn about reptiles (of course), and play games that test your recognition.  Each of these Tag books does that, of course.  There's one she got for "Brave," and also the "Finding Nemo" one as well.  She has about ten of these books so far, and the two of us had a great time reading and playing games on the couch while Mommy got dinner ready.

Dinner was potato soup, which Mommy made from potatoes in the crock pot, along with other vegetables thrown in for flavor.  It was quite tasty!

Afterwards, it was time to return to the couch for Madison.  Her nose is runny and she's coughing a good bit - I think this is a result of the warm weather turning colder.  Today the rain was pretty heavy in the morning, and pretty constant all throughout the day.  It was the first day of the school year where she had to use an umbrella when being dropped off for school.  Daddy watched her this morning after dropping her off - watched her trudging along with her backpack and raincoat on, all under the protection of that tiny pink umbrella.  She was safe under the umbrella, and moving slowly so that she wouldn't get wet.

We watched another movie tonight - actually two movies.  Madison and Daddy watched "The Emperor's New Groove," which Madison enjoyed.  Then it was time for bed afterwards, where we listened to another few chapters of the "Quest for the Wand."  Basically, everyone in the story has wand madness now, making wishes left and right.  And not one of the wishes has worked out well so far.  The point is obvious:  if you find a magic wand, don't use it.

Mommy and Daddy watched another circus movie today:  the circus movies we ordered came in.  Tonight's feature:  "Toby Tyler."  This one ends kind of funny for me - does Toby Tyler stay in the circus, or go on to help his short-tempered Uncle and Aunt?  It wasn't enough to spoil the movie, of course.  We enjoyed it, and got a few small ideas from watching it.  Yes, this was research.  It was good to see Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon together again too.  And to see Gene Sheldon with a speaking role - that was different!  After watching so much of "Zorro" and "Babes in Toyland," we were beginning to think he didn't really talk!

So Madison will be taking tomorrow off, and the night was pretty late for her, as it turns out.  High fever and runny nose, plus coughing due to drainage.  Looong night for us.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Things that start with N

This is just one assignment that Daddy and Madison have been working on all year long.  Each week, a letter is picked - this week we actually have two letters, both n and f.  Above you can see the assignment:  we look for things that start with that letter.  Madison then cuts them out, and pastes them on a paper, creating a collage of things that start with the letter of the week.

As you can see, it's a fun assignment for both of us!

Today was a rainy day, and a day that's getting cooler as it goes on.  In fact, we're returning to cold weather again towards the end of the week.  Normal weather.

When Madison got home from school, we had our traditional piano practice and our homework assignment as well.  Then dinner, obviously.  It all happens so quickly!  She got a bath and then it was time for something short on television and bedtime.  She was a little restless today, and had to be refocused from time to time, but we did get the assignments done, and food eaten!

For our movie, we watched "Dumbo," which is a circus movie Daddy hasn't seen in ages.  The last time we attempted to do this, Madison was still two years old.  It was a big mistake.  We couldn't tell if certain things were registering back then, and of course she didn't understand us completely having only been exposed to English a few months.  But one thing was clear:  she didn't like that scene where Dumbo's mother is separated from her son for the first time.  I'll never forget that - we were watching a movie and everything was fine.  Daddy was thinking this one would be one of the more harmless of movies (after all, it's not "Bambi!").  She was completely normal, looking at the movie and watching it carefully.  And the next thing you know, she was in tears.

Oops!  That may have been Daddy's biggest movie mistake ever.  Although going to see "Frankenweenie" could be a close second.  Daddy is perpetually worried about exposure to certain things in movies at too early an age.  He himself remembers bad things from movies - why is it we don't remember the good stuff?  Those bad impressions from early can leave a mark!

We didn't get any of the circus movies yet, so tonight after Madison's bedtime, Mommy and Daddy continued our Valentine's Day theme with "While You Were Sleeping."  There's another great movie - we were still laughing out loud at certain parts of that one.

Anyway, it was a Monday - a dreary, rainy one.  Not much going on, although we did try to pack in as much as we could for Madison.  She did enjoy "Dumbo" this time - no tears.  The more playful moments cracked her up, and Daddy was glad to have seen it again.  It's such a classic.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Balmy January

Here's our little princess in a classroom just before the service at KidPak Jr.  Madison loved KidPak Jr. this morning quite a bit.  The reason?  As we continue with our movie-themed series, this morning her class saw bits of the movie "Brave."  Mommy even dressed her in a plaid mini-skirt and Merida t-shirt.  The service for the older kids was tremendous, as we learned to "just listen," "change our fate," and "mend the bond."

It's been pretty warm outside for January.  Last night, we actually slept with the windows open in a few rooms.  Sure, we could have put on the air conditioning, but there's something about having windows open from time to time.  No barking dogs here, or loud motorcycles going for test runs.  There's only the occasional cow in the distance.

We hit some homework again on the computer, which Madison seems to really enjoy.  Today's lesson involved shapes - but it seems to teach a little bit of reading too.  Madison can click on a button, and a voice will ask her the question.  Yet the question is also printed there as well.  We were pretty pleased to see her not having to press the audio button as much as she read questions like, "Which is the rectangle?"

Despite the warm weather, unfortunately a few of us were tired from a long night last night.  Daddy tried to do the Kinect Brave game with Madison, but it just doesn't want to work that well for some reason.  Certain Kinect games respond better, but this one doesn't even want to acknowledge Madison at all.  And it really doesn't work that well with Daddy either, so we resorted to visiting with the Superhero Squad.  If you're wondering when we got this game, Daddy got it for Madison because she got a good report card.  We gave her the whole, "since you have a good report card," speech, and told her to keep up the good work.  This game is fun, although it is nowhere near as fun as the Lego games. Still, Madison had a great time playing as Iron Man or the Scarlet Witch.  There's no Silver Surfer yet, but I know she'll really want to use that character when we get to him.

Speaking of which, one of the books Daddy got from the library last week was an Avengers comic book.  It was one of those larger books that had a collection of comics inside.  Sure, we read some standard books before bed - one of them was a cute book called "The 108th Sheep."  That one was cue, and simple.  Daddy had to explain the concept of counting sheep if you're trying to go to sleep.  Or, if you're like Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, you can count blessings instead of sheep.  But tonight, Madison would rather count superheroes.  We actually read a few adventures together, which was fun for both of us.  The downside was that this book was a little smaller than your average comic book - it was reduced in size.  The end result was Daddy really struggling - for the first time - to read anything at all.  That was a first!  Daddy's eyes are pretty good, so perhaps it was the effect of a very small font size at a close range, also in a darker room.  It was just before bed, after all.

So she's in bed there as we read, and then it's time for more adventures with the audio story involving the Neverland Fairies (we're on chapter 13 now).  That's when Daddy asks Madison to lay on her back, and stretch her feet out.  Can you believe it?  She's just a few inches away from being longer than her current mattress.  After all these years!

The last time we changed her bed was a few years ago, on June 14, 2010.  Because of this blog, I can tell you this.  Anyway, until that point, we had her in a crib of course.  It was just a spontaneous decision, but we decided to remove one of the parts of the crib, creating a new-and-improved situation for Madison.  She loved the freedom!  When we bought this bed, we knew this day was coming, so we actually can convert it one more time.  We'd better get on the ball in making that change though - she's just inches away from being too big for the mattress!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Half Day

We cancelled our trip to Legoland because of the flu epidemic, but by gum, Daddy wasn't going to spend an entire day at work - not when he stayed up late the last couple nights in order to get some work done in advance.  So this morning we woke up late, and played games, and opened the doors and windows wide:  the weather was very warm outside all day.  We had a marvelous lunch:

Mommy makes this fast seem like it really isn't a fast.  You don't miss meat and sweets that much with Mommy cooking!  We had a wonderful morning together, playing with stamps again and doing some drawing.  We played a few games as well, although Daddy had his eye on the clock:  work still needed to be done at the office, so away he went for just a bit.

Coming home, we had another surprise for dinner:  Mommy made butternut squash soup, which is so tasty and filling!  We had dinner, and watched a movie together:  "Madagascar 3."  Yes, the circus-theme continued for us, although this time none of us were wearing a circus afro.  This is a really fun movie, easily the best in the series.  We saw it a few times over the summer, but returning to it now was fun, as we're about to do a big circus series for children's church.

We've ordered a few more circus movies, but they haven't arrived yet.  So tonight after Madison went to bed, Daddy actually plugged in the James Bond movie, "Octopussy."  It may be Roger Moore's best, and it's a movie Daddy grew up watching.  That's the James Bond some of us older folks miss, although the new one isn't that bad.  For the record, Daddy's favorite James Bond movie was "The Living Daylights," with Timothy Dalton.  I remember actually watching that one at a drive-in theater.  We've got about five James Bond movies in our house, and they're mainly for Daddy. "Goldeneye," "For Your Eyes Only" and "Tomorrow Never Dies" are the other favorites.  "Goldeneye," in particular was a favorite, because of the video game of the same name.  When we were a lot younger, we used to play that four-player game over and over and over and over and over again.

Okay, so you may be wondering why the sudden watching of that movie?  It's because James Bond goes to the circus.  Seriously.  I was looking for video clips or any ideas, which is what we generally try to do when popping in these themed movies.  The other purpose is that it gets us a little more fired-up and into a series theme.  But it was so great seeing Roger Moore slide down that bannister towards the end of the movie, blazing away as the James Bond theme music swells.  And, of course, the hot air balloon...

James Bond:  "I trust you can handle this contraption, Q?"
Q:  "It goes by hot air."
James Bond:  "Oh, then you can."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Report Card

Madison's second report card has come back, and she appears to be doing quite well.  There are a few minor areas that need improvement, but she's really doing well with math and grammar.  We were recently made aware of a great learning tool online - this goes with her Kindle as well - where Madison can learn basic math skills.  What's cool is that we can track her progress, and her teacher can too.  We were doing some counting and adding today, where Madison was improving and learning, all while having fun.

As she's a "collector" like Daddy, she wants to get all the medals and icons you earn for each activity.  In order to earn those, she has to learn a whole lot of new skills over time - but she seems pretty excited about it.  Tonight, we also tried Math Bingo on the Kindle, which she was into as well!

So things are going forward at a nice rate on the educational front:  Mommy and Daddy are very pleased.  Even her speech teacher is quite impressed, having written how much of a joy Madison is to have around.  We've noticed a dramatic improvement on her speech, and though still not perfect, we're hearing a lot of improvement as she tells stories or explains things about her day.

We called off the visit to Legoland tomorrow:  the reason is here below.

Though we've all had our flu immunizations, there's still a 40% chance of us getting this nasty bug.  Look at the map above - it's a national story now, as the flu has quietly started taking over the entire country.  The states in brown are where the flu is widespread - Folks in Mississippi are probably pretty paranoid right now!

So we figured it would be best if we avoided a place with a ton of kids, as most people don't start having symptoms until a day after they've gotten it.  So far, we've been blessed and highly favored.  This flu is nothing to play around with, and we're quite fortunate to have had a healthier year.  We're hearing how immunization shots are already limited, or out in some areas.

So the state of the union is pretty sick.  And as if that weren't bad enough, the White House just responded to an online petition.  It seems that 34,000 Star Wars fans were petitioning to have the U.S. Government make a Death Star.

The White House didn't agree.  Here's their response, hot off the press:

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

By Paul Shawcross
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully and you'll notice something already floating in the sky -- that's no Moon, it's a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts -- American, Russian, and Canadian -- living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We've also got two robot science labs -- one wielding a laser -- roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo -- and soon, crew -- to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun.  We are discovering hundreds of new planets and other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country's future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

So there you have it.  And while we appreciate all the other science-related advances and investments, and we appreciate the good humor (particularly the line "we're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it"), ultimately it is quite a disappointing day.  No Death Star?  I find their lack of faith disturbing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stamp Blocks

Here it is, just one masterpiece created today by ink stamps.  Madison first used some ink stamps today, having acquired a pretty big collection of them on Christmas.  One of the nicer gifts she got was a set with the "Brave," theme - you can see Merida, Elinor, some birds, chains and a celtic harp on the sheet above.

After Madison's piano practice, we stretched out the table covering and got out all the stamps, and started our own printing press!  It was a fun little diversion after school, one that Madison enjoyed very much - here she is, pressing away:

Today, of course, was another school day for Madison.  The weather has been downright balmy of late, considering it's January.  We actually left the back door open for much of the afternoon, and even into the early evening.  No need for fires today - it's almost picnic weather or something.  This sort of weather makes you want to get out the ball gloves and go play catch.

After the stamps, we had dinner and watched "Brave" again.  This Sunday's message is on the movie, so Daddy was looking for specific clips to support certain points.  Still, it was fun watching it again together:  Madison really likes this movie.

Oh, if only there was a way to communicate the soup Mommy made for lunch today.  It was a Hibachi soup with delicious ginger in it - this was so good!  Mommy has been trying all sorts of creative soup and vegetable ideas this month, and doing such a good job you'd have no idea we were really fasting anything at all.

Of course, we are.  And we've been praying each night with Madison, praying for her friends and being very thankful that flu season hasn't struck our house.  We did have our shots (Madison had a nose spray) earlier in the year, but even so, you get a little creeped out by the stories you hear of so many families falling prey to these terrible illnesses lurking about.  Over the holidays we heard many a bad story, and even at school this week, a few of Madison's classmates have been out sick.  So far this year, we've seen a little sickness earlier on - just after November, maybe?  I can't remember.  But I do know this:  we've been doing well.  And for that, we're very grateful.

After prayers, in Madison's room, she was in bed and we continued "The Quest for the Wand," and got as far as chapter nine.  The fairies have gotten their wand for this self-centered mermaid named Soop.  Honestly, this mermaid gets on my nerves big time.

Daddy is hoping that Soop gets captured by pirates, or eaten.  But that's not the nice way to go about thinking, is it?  There are plenty of "Soops" in this world, I suppose, and our job is to rise above that, because everything does eventually come around and bite you back.  If you act like a Soop all your life, you'll pay for it in the long run (ironically, one of the "morals" of a movie we watched tonight - as described below).  To quote Bob Cratchett, the offenses "carry their own punishment," which does make you feel better a little.  Still, wouldn't it feel just great to walk up to Soop... and hit her on the head with an oversized mallet?

Moving on:  this afternoon, we finished taking down the last remnants of Christmas things, so the Desantification Process is now complete.  However, we still have to straighten up downstairs a bit:  our basement is looking pretty rough.  One thing we did do today was buy circus tickets for the end of February:  we'll be going with the entire family once more to the circus!  We've been going once a year for the last few years, and it's been a lot of fun.  This year though, the theme of "circus" in February is especially potent, as we'll be doing a new series at KidPak called "Big Top."  Daddy's been writing messages for it this week, and just finished.  Also, Josh has been working on the animation too - in fact, here's a sneak peek at the mascot for February:

He's a little zany for sure!  It should be a really fun "circus" theme for the month.  Daddy's working currently on the devotional, and then we'll have skits too.  Mommy's ordering costumes, and we're all watching circus movies for "research" as well.  Tonight after Madison went to bed, we saw "The First of May," which was actually a pretty decent movie.  You don't enter a circus tent until an hour into the movie, but it still was an entertaining movie, featuring an unique assortment of actors, including Mickey Rooney.  And Joe Dimaggio has this really surreal part in it - it was as if it was thrown in there at the last minute just to have Joe Dimaggio in a movie.  And the other icon in the movie:  CNR!

Ninja warrior, master of disguise - he can melt your brain with his laser beam eyes!
ANYWAY, on tap are some other circus movies, including "Toby Tyler" and "The Greatest Show on Earth."  And, of course, "Madagascar 3."  Yes, this month, it's still all about the Afro Circus.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Heeee's Back!

Okay, so we got the clown back in the mail.  A mysterious package arrived on our porch, from someone named "Bad Santa."  We opened it up carefully, full of curiosity - and you can see above what was inside.

This was from the bad gift exchange on New Year's Day.  We thought we'd never see this guy again, and in some ways actually hoped we'd never see it again.  This might take the prize for worst bad gift for the bad gift exchange.  Ever.

Obviously, this came from Ye-Ye.  And we'll have to get him back, too!

Today is Wednesday, which means Daddy spent most of the day at work.  Madison spent most of the day at school.  And Mommy did a lot of cleaning up around the house.  We were off in separate directions, although Madison came home right after school - there aren't any enrichment programs yet, so she came home, working on some of her fashion plates.  Our neighbor dropped by - she's selling girl scout cookies.  Oh yes:  we got some thin mints on the way!  Daddy can eat an entire box of those without realizing what he's just done.

Service tonight went well:  continuing our Showtime theme, we drew lessons from the movie "Ice Age 4."  It was a decent movie, although not the best.  Still, it made a lot of money, which makes you wonder if they'll just keep making them.  "If it ain't broke..."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blue Hawaii

Madison had another good day at school today, although Mommy and Daddy are still reeling from having to get up a little earlier!  We were preparing for it by trying to go to bed earlier, but there's something about getting out of bed, out from under the covers, when it's a cooler season:  you don't want to do it!

Today was Ba-Ba's birthday, so we called him together tonight:  Madison sang "Happy Brithday" to him without any cue.  She was rip-roaring and ready to sing.  Perhaps she was excited because she trounced Daddy at Disney Princess Chutes and Ladders once again.  No, that's probably not it.  She's just naturally excited to talk to her grandparents on the phone.  And from the sounds of it, they were glad to hear from her too!

It was a busy day today after school, starting with piano practice.  We worked on a few chords, and though they stretched Madison's fingers a bit, she was still able to master the whole concept rather quickly.  She had fun going from keyboard to keyboard - along with the other kids - and playing the chords along with Mrs. Pam.  Mrs. Pam was playing a fun song to go along with that:  an Elvis song.  Yes, it's his birthday again also.

After dance practice, Mommy and Daddy watched "Blue Hawaii," which is a fun Elvis movie - it also gave us that itch to go back to Hawaii again.  It was so nice there, and we'd love to go back.  I guess this would be as appropriate a place as any to put the devotional entry in for the Graceland series a few years ago - it's an entry called "Blue Hawaii."


     Isn’t God amazing?  Have you ever stopped to think about the wonder of His handiwork?  From the stunning cosmic display of stars across the universe to the vast panoramas of creation across the planet earth, there is no question that our God is the most extraordinary artist ever.
     Imagine for a moment the grandeur of Blue Hawaii:  the ice capped mountain of Mauna Kea, the towering waterfalls along the road to Hana, the majestic soaring green walls of Waimea Canyon, and the beautiful color of sunsets along the sand beaches throughout the islands. 
     About Blue Hawaii, it has been said that with all this loveliness, there should be love.  And there is, for God has loved us enough to give us a stunning planet to live on!  This world has been created for us to enjoy, to experience, and to take care of.
     Look out the window and the miracle of creation, and thank God today for the planet we live on.  The whole place could have been dry, dusty and red – like Mars.  Or it could have been cold and lifeless, like the moon.  But God gave us a world filled with wonder, filled with marvelous views and excitement.  With all this loveliness, there should be love – for our Creator God!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIrV

Monday, January 7, 2013

Angry Birds Star Wars

So this may be the year of "Star Wars."  Today during piano practice, I noticed Madison was struggling a little to get the idea of "Fine Musicians."  Daddy decided to use the new Kindle as inspiration - we got one for Madison some time ago, but believe it or not, we've never even opened the thing yet.  We got it as a learning tool for Madison, so today while she was at school, Daddy was finding educational apps to put on it.  BUT... there are a few "noneducational" ones on there as well, including "Angry Birds Star Wars" and "Temple Run:  Brave."

Madison's eyes lit up the moment she saw the Kindle.  She knew exactly what it was, and suddenly perked up on piano practice.  From that point on, she was Liberace.  Or at least Floyd Cramer.  It was a great motivational tool:  finish this with style, and we'll be going off to a galaxy far, far away.

Sure enough, we were there and playing, just Daddy and Madison defeating those Imperial pigs.  It's a fun game, one we enjoyed for a little longer than I'd care to admit right now!

Today was the first day of school for Madison in 2013.  She returned from an extended Winter break, and just loved going to school.  She was up and out of bed quickly this morning, quite anxious to go!  Quite unlike Daddy throughout his entire early educational history.

The weather was cold today, so we were enjoying staying inside a bit more than usual.  Also, we enjoyed the fireplace as well:  'tis the season to light fires in the fireplace.  Not only is it functional, but there's something quite pleasant about a log burning in the fireplace, isn't there?  After Madison went to bed, Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the movie "It Can Happen to You," part of our 90's romantic comedy marathon.

One thing we did today was this:  return to the library.  Madison and Daddy hit the books, and dvds, and audio books as well.  Daddy got the next Disney Fairies book, "The Quest for the Wand," which we all listened to together before bedtime.  Madison sat in bed, and Mommy and Daddy sat on the floor in her room, each of us listening to the start of the adventure.

It was a good start to the 2013 for Madison, and it's back to the old schedule.  That means back to getting up early, and going to bed early.  This may take some adjusting....!