Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back to the Circus

Tonight we wrapped up our Big Top series with a trip to the arena.  No, it wasn't really a big top.  But that's the way Ringling Brothers travels lately, so we were okay with that.  As you can see above, the whole family came today - that was ten of us.  Mommy and Daddy smuggled ten kilos of cotton candy, popcorn and lollipops into the building, and for the rest of the night, all ten of us were feeling the effects of one major sugar rush!

Madison had a wonderful time!  For her, the best part of it was the pre-show, where she got to interact with characters and see a few pre-show things, like these dogs below:

And also, our favorite, an elephant that did slam dunks with a basketball - but also showed a bit of an artistic side by creating paintings with his trunk.  Here's the artist below, creating yet another masterpiece:

Like I said, the pre-show was the best part for Madison.  Part of the reason was the timing:  it wasn't as late.  Once the rest of the family got there, it was a ton of fun for Madison, who of course loves to sit beside her cousin Hannah.  Along with the other contraband we smuggled in, you can see some disguises we wore to fool the authorities:  red noses!

Ten bags of cotton candy, ten bags of popcorn, ten circus lollipops, and ten red noses.  Sounds like a recipe for a fun night!  It really was a fun night, as everyone enjoyed the individual acts on horseback, way overhead on the tightrope, and in a cage with tigers and lions (oh my!).

The show was called "Dragons," as it featured a few hints of dragons, and a song about "having the spirit of the dragon in you" that was repeated quite a bit.  There were a few dragon props here and there, but the show was really about the circus acts - which had nothing to do with dragons.  Or, at least I don't think they did... anyway, it was fun for the whole family.  The individual acts were great, but the musical bits were a little... wait for it... draggin'.


Madison enjoyed being with the family, and again the pre-show was huge for her:  she was so focused on the dancing poodles, painting elephant, wacky clowns and all the other things there.  She dressed up with some circus clothing, and even hung out with a few clowns.  We pretty much got our money's worth there, all before the show even started.

The rest of the day was quiet by comparison.  It was part of Dr. Seuss week, so Madison had "Who Hair" today, which basically consisted of some different braids, and a few sparkly pipe cleaners in her hair.  This worked out perfectly for the circus, of course.

Daddy and Mommy did a bit of work today, cleaning out the "Big Top" display case, and beginning to pack up all the circus stuff.  It's been a fun series, all ending with an actual trip to the circus.  We've done this the last three years:  going to the circus with our family.  But next year we might try something a little different with the circus:  there are other circuses that tour around, some of which actually are under the Big Top.  We've got just a touch of nostalgia for that kind of experience, a less-polished and more old-fashioned circus.

But tonight was just what we needed - a good time at the circus for the whole family.  Madison loved it, and therefore so did we!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

This week was a Dr. Seuss-inspired week, where each day had a different theme to it.  Madison was excited bout today, because it was Wacky Wednesday.  The concept was simple:  wear mismatched clothing, or wear it backwards.  This she did - her shirt is on backwards and she has mismatching socks - and the rest of the outfit sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?  She was pretty proud of this assembling of clothing, and from the sounds of it, everyone at school looked completely wacky.

Today was a big day at the office, although we did get to go home and wait for Madison at the school bus.  And then we took her to Aldi's to meet Mommy, who was doing a bit of emergency shopping:  it seems we were out of fruit!

Have you ever had British soldiers for breakfast?  This week, Mommy has been treating Daddy to a breakfast just like this.  The grapefruit is warmed up in the oven, and is simply astounding.  The tea is perfect, and of course the egg is perfectly runny.  The concept is simple:  you dip the pieces of toast into the runny egg, and for a few moments, all is right with the world!

All was right with the world tonight as well:  Daddy wrote a new message for the kids, because we had review night scheduled otherwise.  Daddy didn't want just review, so we did a great message that followed our circus theme.  It was based on "Dumbo," and it went really well.  At one point in the message though, he got to share this photo on the big screen:

That's Madison's first ride on Dumbo, way back in 2008, at Disneyland in Hong Kong.  It was also one of her first smiles.  She was really trying to figure out this "amusement park" thing, and she was starting to get the hang of it by the end of the day.  Imagine your world being an orphanage for an entire year, and suddenly you're with new adults, and your in Disneyland on Dumbo.  We were cautious and taking things slowly, careful not to overdo it - but being so close to Disney was too tempting!

Anyway, the message was good - and that was the rest of our night:

KidPak Adventures:  Big Top
CUE TRACK:  6 Circus


HOST:  “Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages!   We’ve been talking about the circus all series long, and tonight we’ll wrap up things by talking about one of the most famous circus movies there is:  Dumbo!”


HOST:  “This is actually Disney’s fourth movie, made a long time ago.  You know they just had the Oscars the other night, and this one actually won a few Academy Awards too.”

HOST:  “It’s a shorter movie, but it’s been a really popular one, because it’s one that many people can relate to.  You see, Dumbo here is born a little different, isn’t he?  What’s different about him – does anyone know?”

Get answer from audience.

HOST:  “That’s right, he’s got these really huge ears.  And for about sixty minutes, the movie is such a downer.  I mean, for the longest time, everyone makes fun of him at the circus.  But suddenly he realizes he can do something special that no one else can do – and what’s that?”

Get answer from audience.

HOST:  “That’s right, he can shoot peanuts out of his nose!  Can anyone else do that?”

Get answer from audience.

HOST:  “No, that’s not quite the right answer.  What he can do is this:  he can fly.”


HOST:  “The truth of it is that he’s the most amazing act in all the circus.  Everyone no doubt regrets how they treated him, because he’s not the star attraction.”

HOST:  “Many of you know we adopted our little girl a few years ago, and Dumbo was one of those things that made her smile quite a bit.”


HOST:  “She just loved this ride.  Until this point, she’d spent two years waiting to fly.  She was with her original mother the first year, but soon she was at an orphanage, where she waited another year until she finally met her new adoptive parents.  It took a bit for the smiles to come, but as you can see, she’s in this photo, flying high.”


HOST: “There are a lot of lessons we can learn from Dumbo, but tonight I wanted to focus on just two things.  The first one is easy.  Look at this picture here.  What do you see?”


HOST: “Nothing.  For thousands of years, the only thing you’d see in the sky were birds, right?  No elephants there at all.”

Let audience answer.


HOST:  “There were a couple brothers once.  One guy had it rough – believe it or not, he was hit in the face with a baseball bat when he was young.  It gave him some heart problems, and what made matters worse was that their mom was pretty sick at the time.”

HOST:  “The two tried to start a newspaper business, but that didn’t work out.  So they went back to the one thing they were pretty good at:  making bicycles.  Things were doing well, but both of them kept looking up to the skies.”


HOST: “Recently, people had been trying to build an airplane that worked.  But nobody could figure out how to make one stay in the air.  They’d crash left and right.”

HOST: “But these guys saw something in God’s creation.  They saw that all these scientists were getting it wrong – if we wanted to fly, we should look more closely at the birds.”

HOST: “So they used their skills together, and they copied the bird.  They had no college education, and not much money.  In fact, there were scientists racing to be the first to make an airplane elsewhere.  Some were rich, with thousands and thousands of dollars, and a ton of help from companies, other scientists, and lots of free equipment.”

HOST:  “This got the brothers going.  They were going to be first, so they went to the beach and tried over and over again – there were plenty of mistakes and crashes.  But on Deceber 8, 1903, they did what no one had ever done before.”


HOST:  “They flew.  The world knows the Wright Brothers were the first.  But not even they knew God’s purpose in their lives until it all just clicked.  You see, all that time working in bicycle shops helped them get ready for making the airplane.”

HOST:  “The Bible says this about the Wright Brothers, and it says this about us as well.”


HOST:  “God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.  He had a plan for those two brothers, and it just all clicked.  And the great thing for you is this:  He’s got a plan for you too – it’s a plan for you to enjoy success.  It’s a plan for you to have hope for years to come.”


HOST: “Like Dumbo, we were all made to fly.  God made us all a little different – some of you more different than others!  But different is good.  Turn to your neighbor and say different is good.”

Let audience respond.

HOST:  “The problem comes in when people see that different isn’t good.  It happens at school, it happens at work, it happens at church.  People make fun of others because they are different.  Hopefully that isn’t the sort of thing that you here don’t do, is it?”

Let audience respond.

HOST: “Because that’s not cool.  We’re all created in God’s image, and when you make fun of others, you’re actually making fun of God Himself.  Which is seriously not cool.”

HOST: “Long before the Wright Brothers, there was another guy who was a little different.  He had these weird dreams.  He had brothers that worked together, but not to make an airplane.  These brothers worked together to get rid of him.”

HOST:  “He was sold as a slave, and forced to work in the desert in another country.  There things got worse.  He was thrown in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, where he was left and forgotten.”

HOST:  “Until a day much, much later – a day when his gift of dreams came in handy.  You see, the king had a problem figuring out a dream, and just then, everyone remembered a guy in prison who was a little different.  What was his name?”

Let audience answer.

HOST:  “That’s right.  His name was Joseph.  And it was because God made him different that the whole entire country was saved.  And it was because he was a little different that other countries around his were saved too.”

HOST:  “The two points of Dumbo are pretty simple.  The first one is this:  God has a plan for you.  Just keep doing your best, and keep praying.  God will show you the way, and you’ll be able to use the gifts you have in incredible ways.”

HOST: “The other message is this:  don’t make fun of others because they are different. It takes courage, but we must speak up for those who don’t seem to fit in yet.  God has a great purpose for them too – and remember, when we make fun of others, we’re making fun of God Himself.  Not cool!”

HOST:  “It’s a simple message tonight, but it’s an important one.  Those other elephants are pretty mean in the movie “Dumbo,” aren’t they?”

Let audience answer.

HOST:  “But they learn their lesson by the end, when they watch Dumbo fly.  And you know something?  I really want to be there to watch all of you fly.”

HOST:  “Let us pray.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Pink Surfer

Above you can see Madison's artwork - just a sample.  She has the Silver Surfer there, along with the Silver Surfer's friend, the Pink Surfer.  The two of them are "surfing" in the garden - if you look closely you can see that she has actually cut out the two surfers from another sheet of paper that she was drawing on.  She's been rather artistic lately, drawing in her spare time - with or without Daddy.  A few times, we've been hitting the "how to draw so-and-so" book, penciling out a drawing of Mickey or Minnie Mouse.  Or maybe even Perry the Platypus - you'll see a version of that probably on Saturday.  Here she is drawing with one of her friends, Matthew, at the KidPak office.

Today was a busy day for Madison, who had piano and ballet again this afternoon.  Piano was a good class, as she was really on-the-spot with some of the questions Mrs. Pam had asked.  She could name that tune in the three notes that Mrs. Pam had written up on the board.  She was also playing rather well - in fact, she's pretty close to Daddy's level of play right now.  Daddy had better keep his practice up, if he's going to keep up with her!  This is a neat class, because it's pretty much a two-for-one in that respect!

Ballet class was fun for Madison as well, and afterwards we were able to have a daddy-daughter date at McDonalds.  The reason for that choice of restaurant:  the Shamrock Shake is back.  Yes, St. Patrick's Day is about twenty days away, but we can still enjoy the Shamrock Shake a little early, can't we?

Madison was such a blessing for an elderly couple that was there - she blew them kisses and complimented the older woman on her hairstyle.  These folks were supremely blessed by Madison - but aren't we all?

We didn't have much time when we got home - we do so much on Tuesdays.  Madison wanted to play the Stitch Trouble game, so that's what we did for the night before bed.  It was a draw - we both won a game a piece.

And then... it was time for bed.  For all of us, really.  Can you believe that Daddy went to bed pretty much the same time as Madison did?  Mommy was up a little later, but Daddy was so tired for some reason today.  Perhaps it was this cold, overcast, rainy weather.  Whatever the reason, Daddy plopped into bed with a book and read for a while, and drifted off to sleep, roughly the same time Madison was probably going to sleep!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fun Dip

Such is the joy of parenthood:  teaching your child how to properly use Fun Dip.  Madison got a LOT of this candy for Valentine's Day, so tonight during movie night, we had a lot of fun dip in place of the usual popcorn.  It had been an instant hit.  Madison was leaning towards crunching on that tasty fun dipstick right away, but Daddy had to show her the proper way:

1.  Lick the stick.
2.  Put it in the package and get it covered with that colored sugary stuff.
3.  Repeat.

Daddy wasn't necessarily wanting to eat any fun dip, but when faced with the daunting task of getting rid of all this candy, he did his part.  The two of us sat there on the couch, dipping like rednecks, while we watched "The Lion King."

The reason for the movie was this:  Daddy had to write one more message for the upcoming Pridelands series.  We've written a few messages from this movie, but can you believe we found another one?  Yep, that just happened.  Anyway, just for the theme of it, this week we'll be watching the other Lion King movies, the second Madagascar movie, and maybe even that obscure one, "The Wild," where William Shatner plays some sort of deranged wildebeest.

Today was an epic dentist day for Daddy and Mommy.  Mommy had quite a bit of work done, and basically spent an amount of money comparable to buying a couple Ford Pintos.  Daddy had some work done too - the Dentist said he could do it without novocaine, and it was presented to him in such a way that it was optional to do the pain killer, but it probably wasn't necessary.  Suddenly, my manliness was challenged at the dentist's office.  So he got out the drill, and did all the work on a small cavity - without any novocaine.  Oh yes, I'm a real man now.  There was only one part where I felt that painful zing, and it was over pretty quickly after that.  Mommy, on the other hand, was undergoing much, much more.  In fact, she was there for two hours, while Daddy was sitting in the waiting room, reading a novel.

When Madison got home, we went straight to the piano for a bit, and then another fish dinner from Mommy.  Since our recent physicals, we've been doing a bit more fish.  Today, we had dinner from someone you can trust:  the Gorton's Fisherman.

After that, Madison and Daddy were getting ready for National Platypus Day, which is this upcoming Saturday.  We downloaded a "how to" on drawing Perry the Platypus, and sat down at the kitchen table for a while, attempting to draw him.  It was a little more difficult than the usual drawings we attempt, but we stuck through it and Madison did a pretty decent job!  We'll probably share that image on Saturday, on National Platypus Day itself.

Unrelated, but today at school was another "hat day."  You should have seen Madison in her big red hat today.  She needed it though:  the weather has been cold outside!  Brrrr!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


What a precious moment tonight as Madison was singing in her room, just moments before bed:  "Oh, Jesus, your presence is heaven to me."  Today was Sunday, and this morning at KidPak Jr., Madison spent a few hours with the other kindergartners at Free Chapel.  The older kids got to see the Lord of the Rings stuff we did:

Actually, Madison saw this too - we played this funny video that we shot last Wednesday.  There were two videos, one with Onion Ringwraiths, and then there was this one where we're all acting dramatically about throwing a ring in a volcano or something like that.  It's a funny video, actually, mainly because we're in these ridiculous costumes in Kellan's back yard.

After church, we got home - and Daddy was pretty wiped out.  We watched some Superhero Squad on television, did some more piano practice and ate a delicious salmon dinner that Mommy prepared.  We've been doing fish a little more since the doctor's visit earlier this year.  We're also taking a few more pills than we used to do, but I think that's all part of getting older.  But from looking at that picture above, you can clearly see we're not acting any older...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Return of the Penguins

It's been a while since Madison has seen these penguins, where now she's older and wiser.  And not quite as intrigued as she used to be either, apparently!  She really wanted to see these guys taken down from the top shelf in her closet, and when Daddy set it all up on the kitchen table, her attention span was pretty dismal!  She was actually complaining that it was a little loud, and maybe even just a little boring!  Compare that to a few years ago, when she could sit and watch these penguin sliders all day long.  I think she thought this was going to be a game, and her memory was a little fuzzy as to what this actually was - the box was actually up there right next to the Cooties game, so she was thinking perhaps this would be another fun thing to do.

Imagine our surprise when it wasn't the attention-getter it used to be for her.  Oh well, at least it was loved at one point, very much so.  And it will be loved again when we give it as a gift to some lucky toddler.  The funny thing is that the box says this toy is for kids six and up.  Madison is six now, and was sort of ho-hum about it.

Today was a huge work day for Daddy, still helping out with the remnants of the ONE Marriage Conference at church, while setting up for a final service tomorrow at the Big Top.  We actually picked up a few coupons for another circus in town this upcoming week, but it's on Tuesday and Wednesday, two days we just can't go near because of being so busy.

This Thursday, however, we are going to return to Ringling Brothers' circus at the Gwinnett Arena.  The neat thing about KidPak is that we've had this circus theme going on, and of course the ONE Marriage Conference had a similar theme as well.  There was plenty of leftover cotton candy, in fact, so Daddy smuggled ten or eleven bags out for everyone to enjoy on Thursday.  That is, unless Madison gets a hold of a bag before then, in which case it will be instantly eaten!

We did a lot of editing at work, and a lot of cleaning up too.  Madison had a good day at home with Mommy, the two of them relaxing and enjoying the day inside.  The weather has been rainy, to the point of flash flood warnings - and with the temperature so chilly, it's a good idea to stay at home and stay warm.

Friday, February 22, 2013


So we worked all week for the big moment, setting up the marriage conference - and by all accounts, it has been a great success.  One of these years, we'll actually get to attend one of these, but the workload was such again this year that it just wasn't possible.  You can see the circus theme in the design above, which was one of the reasons Daddy wrote out all those circus-themed messages, and planned to do all this circus stuff at KidPak in February.  It was a little of that, and the fact that there are actually three circuses touring in Georgia in the month of February.  We're only going to have time to see one, but then again, how many do you need to see in a month?  One is just fine.  That'll be next Thursday, which should be fun.

Today was a huge work day, where we started setting things up early.  It was very cold and very wet all day though - we got lots and lots of rain again.  We've had a very rainy season of late, overcast skies and a gloominess in general.  Yet, our spirits aren't really that downcast - for one reason, we need the rain.  The other reason:  spring is on the way.  It's got to be!  It does turn out the groundhog here in Georgia was right about his prediction though:  six more weeks of winter.  It's been pretty chilly lately.

We worked late into the night tonight, partly on the conference and partly on KidPak's services this upcoming Sunday.  Madison had school today, and Daddy saw very little of her.  Mommy stayed home with Madison, the two of them having a quiet evening together.  Quiet, at least, compared to the activity that was going on at church.  We had thousands there, every couple having a great time at the event.

Part of the fun was dressing up for the old-time circus look.  We were basing it on that "Water for Elephants" time period, so Mommy got us all suspenders and caps, plus the shirts and pants to go with them.  All the guys had suspenders on, and those caps.  It was like we were a bunch of newsboys!

Daddy was able to write the scripts for Sunday tonight, but a funny thing happened when Pastor was needing some luggage that fits this time period.  It was to be stacked up on the stage for his message, along with a small chair and a whip (for a lion tamer bit).  It just so happens that Mommy and Daddy bought some of that exact kind of needed luggage this past Monday.  No joke!  So Daddy raced home to get that, and while he was there, he picked up Madison's desk chair to be used for the lion tamer bit.  And guess what Mommy had gotten late in the mail today.  Yes, you guessed it:  a whip.  We were able to get all that in just in time, and it all worked out well.

The neat thing was it gave Daddy an excuse to run home for a moment.  He got to see Mommy and Madison for a short bit - too short, really - but he was certainly grateful for the opportunity.  Madison was busy drawing Superhero Squad characters doing various things - it's usually Iron Man and Iron Girl battling zombies or something.  I'm not entirely sure where she's picking up the zombie motif from, but it seems harmless at the moment.  Mommy and Daddy are not zombie fans so much as many others seem to be.  I mean, it's just walking dead people, right?  Daddy played "Typing of the Dead" and "I Made a Game with Zombies in It," and of course we laughed when we saw Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for the first time.  But that's about it as far as zombies go.  Society in general, however, seems to be really into zombies.  There are new movies made all the time (one just came out this month), and there's an ongoing television series that's very popular.  On top of that, there are video games coming out all the time.  Anyway, it's a popular thing now, and it's apparently seeped into Madison's awareness a bit, probably from friends at school.  At least I hope that's where it came from!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thin Mints

First and foremost, check out the receipt the Tooth Fairy left for Madison this morning.  Not only did she get $1.00 in quarters - she also got a receipt, letting everyone know the quality of tooth was excellent!

Today we got a historic delivery - yes, we got our Thin Mints.  This is the sort of cookie that happens to you, a cookie that you don't eat.  Instead, you inhale it.  The law of Thin Mints is thus:  once the wrapper around the stack of cookies is gone, they themselves will be gone faster than the speed of that meteorite last week.  Indeed, this happened today:  the first stack was unwrapped, and it promptly vanished.  The second stack currently sits nervously inside the original box, inside the pantry.  It's the Last Days for these cookies, for none of them really know the hour when the Time of the End will begin.  But they can tell from signs that soon the Great Thin Mint Apocalypse will be upon them!

Anyway, our neighborhood friend came by with the box of Thin Mints - just one.  She and Madison actually had a few, as did Daddy.  Everyone was smiling... eating... and then they were gone in the twinkling of an eye!

It was mostly a work day for Daddy and Mommy, with a few doctor visits thrown in for good measure.  Daddy's visit was productive, as we're sort of isolating the cough and other symptoms to something called reflux.  I've always thought this was some sort of acidy, burning thing - but apparently there are other symptoms too.  So, with this sort of figured out, maybe Daddy will start feeling a little better!

Nana got her doctor's visit as well, although the results were not quite as positive.  She's got to deal with something on her skin, although that's the reason she has these frequent check-ups.  She believes, as do we, that an ounce of prevention is the best medicine.  It's that reason that we have check-ups, although Nana and Ba-Ba have them much more frequently.  Fortunately, yes very fortunately, Nana was able to catch something on her skin.  This will be an issue for the next month or so, until she comes back for another check-up.  We're grateful things were caught in time.

We worked on costumes today for the ONE Marriage Conference photo booth.  Things are getting ready at the church all over.  Lots and lots of people are coming in tomorrow - it looks like it'll be big.  And it'll be cold and rainy too - the weather forecast is for more rain, rain, rain.

I'll say it again:  I'm glad for it.  We need the rain to catch up for some long dry spells.  We're always thankful for the rain that falls.  And hopefully it'll stop when we're on vacation!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Onion Ringwraiths

Here come the Ringwraiths, complete with Burger King crowns and stick horses.  They hunger... for rings.  Onion rings!

Today was another filming for KidPak, one that featured a "Lord of the Rings" slant to it.  These pictures don't quite do the filming justice - I suppose those will come later.  But they were pretty fun, taken with cell phones to commemorate the day as it was.

We'll have better pictures later on, I'm sure.  Probably Friday or so, when this thing is finally done filming and editing.  Don't get your hopes up about it being anything epic, however - it's just a goofy parody written, shot and edited in an extremely short time.

While Daddy was at work running around like a hobbit or a ringwraith, Madison was having another good day at school.  When she got home, Mommy decided to help Madison once and for all deal with that little middle tooth that's been so wiggly and weird looking.  The thing has just been hanging there in a funny way, so we're all glad to see it gone.

Madison has an extra slot in her mouth now!  You can see one tooth growing in slightly, but the other one today came out - and it appears as if we'll be getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy tonight!  Fortunately, we won't be getting a visit from any ringwraiths.

You know who else came by tonight though?  That's right, Nana and Ba-Ba!  They had a big day traveling up here again, and Madison was thrilled to see them!  Everyone was in quite the festive mood when Daddy got home, as we caught up on all sorts of things going on lately.  The weather has been pretty cold up here though:  those poor Florida folks aren't use to this sort of cold!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back as Promised

So here's some of the video footage of Madison's visit to Dr. Williams.  As much as she giggles here, it isn't as much as she usually does - she's typically much, much louder!  Needless to say though, she thinks it is fun to come to the chiropractor.  We just wonder what the other patients are thinking down the hall when they hear her!

Today is Tuesday, and there is no holiday that we know of today.  Okay, so we just looked it up and it's apparently "Chocolate Mint Day."  Sadly, we don't have any chocolate mint here right now, otherwise I'd be chomping down on 'em something fierce!

It was our busy day today, with piano and ballet thrown in for good measure.  It was cold and wet, and there was much time spent preparing for services today.  In fact, tonight as this is being typed, Mommy is preparing for the ONE Marriage Conference - she's making small hats and costuming bits for the photo booth that we'll be manning this weekend.  It'll certainly be interesting!

Meanwhile, Daddy is looking at our March series at KidPak, which is our return to Tanzania for "Pridelands."  We'll have to take a look at "The Lion King" movies again, which will be cool to go to again!

Madison did so well at piano today, getting these new chords to play.  Only three kids got it right away, but Madison was playing these chords correct, and playing them right away.  She didn't even need any hints or help from the teacher.  We play this little game where the kids all switch keyboards, and every time another child came to our keyboard, they never could get the notes right - and yet Madison got it right each time!  We're so proud of her!

Tomorrow Nana and Ba-Ba are returning for another visit, which is exciting for all of us.  It'll be a great visit, although all of us have doctor visits this week, even Daddy.  But hopefully we can have some time together in the evenings.

But tonight it's time to get back to work.  Goodnight!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Eye of the Dragon

So we were shopping this afternoon, and found ourselves in Micheal's as Mommy was doing a bit of work for the church.  Madison and Daddy found this book above, which has the best of both worlds:  Iron Man and Chinese New Year.  We have all sorts of Chinese New Year books with traditional artwork and explanations of all the things that go on, but here's one with Iron Man in it.  It seems random at first, but then again, the villain is The Mandarin.  Madison is really into Iron Man as of late, mainly because of his role in the Superhero Squad - lots of her made-up stories involve Iron Man and Iron Girl.  Tonight before bed, of course we read this book - Madison enjoyed it very much.  The Mandarin did not enjoy it so much, but he'll probably escape soon:  he's got to be in a movie this summer.  Speaking of which... here's a photo from "Iron Man 3," which happens to be... you guessed it... in China:

Halfway around the world, as in back here at home, Mommy was collecting fabric and clothing items today for the upcoming ONE Marriage Conference at our church.  As mentioned previously (I think), the theme is that of a vintage circus.  Daddy was helping screw in a couple thousand lightbulbs this morning, which I believe will be dangling in the main sanctuary of the church.

When he got home around lunchtime, it was time to head over to the chiropractor's office.  Here's our girl at the office, rip-roarin' and ready to go!

This time, Daddy took a video of the entire visit, at least the parts with Madison in them.  She giggles and laughs all the way through her adjustments, and has the greatest time.  It's like a tickle fight or something, and everyone laughs each time we visit.  This occasion, Daddy brought a small camera to film the whole thing - I should have the pieces edited together by tomorrow.

For lunch we went to the Cracker Barrel, where Daddy ordered fish again.  It's a good thing Daddy likes fish, as that's just the thing needed in his diet lately.  High cholesterol and blood pressure are reshaping the year 2013, but that's a good thing.  We want to be around - and healthy - for Madison when she gets older, don't we?

Anyway, as usual, we played checkers - and for the first time as a team, Daddy and Madison actually won the peg game.  Daddy can do it by himself, but when we take turns, you can imagine it's hard to actually win with only one pin left.  But today we did it, so neither one of us is an "ignoramus."

We did a little thrift shop tour after that, looking for items for Mommy's project.  She's creating a photo booth for the marriage conference, and following that theme of an old time circus.  Meanwhile, Daddy and Madison were running around looking at CDs and books.  Madison found a few, such as the one above.  Some were holiday-themed books, which we'll tuck away for another few months.  One was a book based on the movie "Atlantis."  She was so into this that we actually watched "Atlantis:  Milo's Return" tonight.  Or, at least we watched part of it.  The reason for this is that it was later when we got back, and we wanted Madison to eat, get that piano practice in, and of course get a good night's rest.  Oh, and she definitely wanted me to read her new story about Iron Man.

"You can't make a bomb without oregano. It makes a very nice 'boom.'"
- Vincenzo Santorini

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Our circus theme is going well, and as you can see here, Daddy actually has been using the stilts that Nana got us for Christmas some time ago.  A few of us at the office have been able to walk on them, and although Daddy is not as good as Josh, he can walk about with ease.  Between this and the juggling, it's been neat to use some of these hidden talents for our services.  Also, Josh can walk on his hands, upside down, for a pretty good length of time - we put that to use this weekend as well.  We used our invention today, the one designed by a Disney Imagineer, and it just looks amazing!  All in all it was a good service, one about walking on a high wire.  I suppose here would be a good place to put the verbiage I had written for the service itself:

     At the highest parts of the Big Top they defy gravity and common sense:  the tightrope artists!  It seems an easy enough concept:  walk from one place to the next.  What could be so hard about that?  The answer is a thrilling one:  the tightrope they walk on can be as thin as five centimeters wide, and it’s a hundred feet in the air!
      The Bible tells us the words of Jesus: “Walk the straight and narrow.”   Not many choose to walk this way, as it requires discipline and sacrifice.  But the rewards are great, and the spotlight is on you.  It’s a narrow path, but it’s one we need to take – it’s the only way, truth and life.  So put your best foot forward because others are watching to see you make it across the great divide.
     Remember, a key for all tightrope artists is to stay balanced.  If we don’t keep balanced, we’re in for a fall. Our lives must be balanced with Biblical truths, focused on God.  It’s okay to have other things in our lives, but can you imagine a guy carrying too much stuff across a tightrope?  Jesus said it best:  it’d be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!  If you don’t have enough balance in life – if you don’t have enough of Him – you’ll certainly be on the wrong footing.
     Even so, always remember that Jesus is our safety net.  He will catch us when we fall.  The great thing about safety nets these days is this:  they help you bounce back up again!  If we stumble and fall, the best thing to do is ask for forgiveness, and try again.  The crowd wants to see you make it across the tightrope, so get back up there and amaze them with your walk.
     Keep walking the straight and narrow, and keep balanced.  You’ll cross the great divide in style, like a master performer on the tightrope.

     Anyway, it was a good day overall.  Madison enjoyed KidPak Jr., where you can see her above.  This is a classroom where she learns a bit and does a few activities - before walking across the hallway into the auditorium.

     The rest of the day went by quick - we were at the grocery store for a bit, where Daddy picked up some wood.  The weather outside has been very cold, so a fire in the fireplace was just the right prescription!  We read some books and played some games together, and of course ate some leftover Chinese food.  Tonight, we watched "Jimmy Neutron," and Madison really liked that a lot.  But everyone was pretty tired tonight:  we went to bed early, which was also just the right prescription.  It's going to be a busy week upcoming, so that's the perfect thing we need:  rest!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Union of the Snake

Today we had our annual Chinese New Year party, and as you can see above, it was the Year of the Snake.  We cut out masks of the character Viper, from "Kung Fu Panda 2," which made for a fun picture that you see above.

Mommy did all kinds of decorating throughout the house, and Daddy went to get the food from a great Chinese restaurant we've discovered down the road from us.  The whole family came over, and pretty soon, we were eating all kinds of delicious Chinese food.  As you can see above, Madison had red envelopes for everyone at their seats, and Nana and Ye-Ye brought all kinds of delicious fruits (including Mandarin oranges).  We had Chinese music playing, and for a time we were looking at a lot of the photos from our trip to China, now almost five years ago.  

It was very nice to have everyone over.  It was very cold outside, so we were fortunate to have a log to put in the fireplace, where we all sat around talking about different things that were going on.  Meanwhile, Madison and Hannah were playing upstairs in Madison's playroom, playing with the dolls up there in their huge dollhouse.  They came down from time to time - for cupcakes, and for the Dragon Parade.

Check out this dragon that Ye-Ye made out of cardboard!  He brought all kinds of bubble wrap over to the house, and we made a path that traveled around the house in a circle, the four kids carried the dragon around, popping all over the bubble wrap - as the adults had all kinds of noise makers.  It was a very sweet but noisy moment!

It was nice to have everyone over, but soon Daddy had to go back to work, and Madison was pretty much ready for bed.  We had spent a few hours together, a great time had by all!

Happy New Year!  Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

We Have Cooties!

So Madison really likes this game Cooties.  We haven't played in over a year, and all of the sudden she was interested in playing.  Today, we played about six times in a row (it was a draw - we each one three times!).  We went to the computer and took this picture where it's clear she's got a bad case of the cooties!

Madison had off of school today, but unfortunately, Daddy did not.  He had to work a lot.  Fortunately, Mommy did, and the two of them had a good day together.  They did a bit of shopping for tomorrow's big Chinese New Year party that we're hosting, but other than that, they stayed home mostly.  There are a lot of chores to be done, and Madison was good to get as much done as she could.  She's been playing the piano better and better, and today she also cleaned her room up somewhat in preparation of Hannah coming over.  One other thing she did today:  that Leapster Explorer game she got yesterday.  She's been glued to it, drawing and tracing and laughing at all the things of this one game.  It's called "Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg," and I can't recommend it enough.  It features a lot of education, and creativity as well.

Tonight, Daddy got home a little later.  But we still had enough time to watch a movie, so we watched "Tangled."  One of the presents Madison got yesterday was a Rapunzel nightgown, which she wore while snuggling on the couch with Mommy and Daddy.  We went to bed a little later, but that's okay - we can sleep in tomorrow!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

This is a photo of Mommy and Daddy at the new church facility this morning.  We went to Free Chapel's newest extension, scheduled to open in just a few short months.  It was great to tour the building and see the future, and watch everyone dreaming about what could be.  We're seated on the KidPak stage at the Suwanee Campus - it was very nice to be there!

Afterwards, Mommy and Daddy took advantage of not needing a babysitter, and had ourselves a date!  It was Valentine's Day after all, so we went to Outback in Suwanee, which was pretty busy.  The employees there were surprised that it was so busy, which was strange - I mean, it is Valentine's Day, isn't it?  Regardless, we had a very nice meal - made nicer by the fact that we had a gift card that we'd been holding on to since last June, and the whole meal was free!

But it sure was tasty!  Earlier in the day, we had a follow-up visit to the doctor's, where Daddy had his blood work sort of explained.  It's all in the genetics, so he's going to have to start taking a few pills each night, and make another visit in a short time.  The good news is that the pancreas is not the source of the recent icky feelings he's had lately.  The bad news is that I'm not entirely sure what's causing that - unless it's this reflux thing they keep suggesting.  

Okay, enough about Mommy and Daddy.  How was Madison's day?

Here's our princess, on a perfectly lovely day.  She brought her Valentine's Day box into school yesterday, and today, it was absolutely filled.  How delightful!  She came home with so much loot, it was like Halloween!

Candy and cards all over the table, and then there were the little things that Mommy and Daddy got her as well:  we got her a few Explorer games - Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and a game featuring a guy named Mr. Pencil.  That game has been the love of Madison:  she's telling us the things she's learning in this artistic game.  She's telling us what warm colors and cool colors are, and what the horizon line is - things like that.

She got lots of candy, of course.  But it was nice seeing all the cards from her classmates as well.  She had a great day, and it was a lot of fun when she got home too!  We played Cooties, and watched "The Princess and the Frog," and munched on candy hearts.

Daddy got Mommy a heart-shaped earring tree, which a few months ago I had never heard of before.  This is a bronze tree that you can actually hang your earrings on, which is ornamental and functional as well.  She likes it - of course Mommy asked for one a few months ago!

Back to Madison:  we did one more thing today.  We made cookies!  Mommy prepared the dough and the oven, while Daddy and Madison got to add sprinkles to the heart-shaped cookies.  We decorated about three pans worth of cookies, nibbling a little along the way.  It was really fun!  And tasty!

All in all, everyone had a great day.  We were so thrilled to see Madison have a good Valentine's Day.  She's been doing crafts and having all kinds of fun this week, and it was nice to see it all wrap up in such a wonderful way.  She really is loved!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Launch of the Human Cannonball

Lance and Daddy went to pick up Madison from school, which has been our weekly tradition as of late.  She's enjoyed seeing us after school - today is Wednesday, which means that she stays an hour later for a class called "Kids Create."  She came out of the school with a craft she made that had hearts all over it, proudly sharing it with all of us.  Yes, you're a real artist!

Mommy had a delicious meal prepared for all of us as we got home:  she made a chicken soup, which was perfect for a chilly day like today.  

Lance and Daddy were preparing for a message later on, which turned out great.  It was all based on the circus act about the human cannonball.  We've had a human cannonball prop around for a few years (at the warehouse) - so for fun we set up a photo series to share with the kids beforehand, where Lance is dressed up as a human cannonball, ready to launch himself over the church building.  It was a fun night - here are just a few photos from today's big launch:

     The human cannonball straps on his helmet, salutes the audience, and descends into the barrel of an enormous cannon. Does he really think he can fly?
     A hush fills the crowd, who waits in anticipation of the countdown: three, two, one! BOOM! The human cannonball soars across the Big Top, a marvel of flight that leaves the crowd gasping and cheering wildly after his safe return to earth.
     How does he do it? It’s a pretty brave thing, and yet it’s very simple: get in, and get ready to soar! In that respect, we could learn a few things from the human cannonball.
     For example, we all should aim high. Set your sights for the heavens, and fill your faith tank up. Have a vision where you’re going, and get ready to launch off to your destiny!
     Another thing we should do is lose the weights. A human cannonball wears just a helmet and a jumpsuit. Anything else will slow him down – he’ll lose airtime and airspeed. He might not even make it to the place where he wants to land. Like a human cannonball, we’ve got to lose the weights. The Bible tells us to throw off those hindrances that weigh us all down. Sin and distraction try to stop you from soaring, so shake them off before getting ready for takeoff!
     Ready for lift-off? Then light the fuse! All of your hopes and dreams are nothing without the fire shut up inside you. God’s inspiration is the fire that lights your way – and without Him, or His direction, you’re going nowhere!
     So give a salute to the crowd, and set your sights high. Lose those weights, and light the fuse: you can soar, just like a human cannonball!