Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

For Madison, the day started out early - but egg-citing!  You can see above the basket that greeted her when she came down into the kitchen.  It had a "Brave" theme - what else?  You can see the swimsuit, the Pez and a three books.  Oh, and even that bag back there too - that's from the Disney Store.  Of course, there's the Minnie Mouse rabbit (which is currently upstairs sleeping with Madison right now).  She was very excited about all of this - inside that bag is a magic wand from the show "Super Why."  Madison exclaimed, "The Easter Bunny knew I liked Super Why!"  Also in the bag:  "The Rise of the Guardians," which comes with wind-up eggs that hop across the floor on tiny feet.  Some of this stuff we've had since August, sort of stockpiling it here and there.

Daddy was off to church pretty early this morning, but Mommy and Madison attended the 9:00 am service, which was great.  We even had a visit from the Easter Bunny!

Madison knows it isn't the Easter Bunny - she was fooling around with Ricke, our good friend from church that was dressed up in that costume.  She wanted him to put on the head and pose with him for this picture you see above.  And for some reason, she wanted to cover his mouth?  She was having a fun time with him regardless - the start of a really fun day.  Service was meaningful, as we learned the real meaning of Easter - Madison's teacher Ms. Halston had a special message prepared, and of course we had a larger message for the older kids as well.  We definitely can't do Easter without the cross or the resurrection, and with both groups of kids, we managed to communicate the reason why this day is so incredibly special.

As a side note, there was a family that had to move out of their apartment yesterday - it was an emergency situation involving a neighbor and some very toxic fumes.  They actually had to take a lot of their items to the dump - and didn't get to bless their son with an Easter basket.  This morning, Mommy and Madison put one together:  and Madison took some of her chocolate pieces, donating them to the cause.  She was very giving, willing to share - it was very sweet of her.  The family was blessed!

After church, it was time to head over to Nana and Ye-Ye's house for the traditional meal, and another egg hunt!

Doesn't Madison look beautiful in this photo?  Mommy dressed her up very nicely - she's seen here just beginning her egg hunt, looking in Nana and Ye-Ye's back yard.  Eggs were everywhere - lots and lots of eggs.  They were all filled with candy too.  Madison found so many eggs, but so did her cousins.  She filled that basket, and when she got back inside, there were more baskets to be had:

Here she is holding a "Wreck-it Ralph" basket she got from her cousins.  It obviously has the movie in it, plus some themed eggs.  But it also has a "Wreck-it Ralph" book as well.  This book was for younger readers, and Madison promptly started reading it out loud.  It was such a blessing to see her read so well - she was reading Daddy a story for a change!

We gave a mustache-themed basket to the boys, and a Monster High basket for Hannah.  There were lots of baskets all about!  Lots of candy too!

Dinner was delicious as always.  We gathered together at the table, where Ye-Ye said the blessing.  We ate a marvelous Easter Dinner, made special by the appearance of Madison's great-grandmother.  The table was decorated nicely with flowers and the food was absolutely delicious.  We had communion a little later together, with Ye-Ye "officiating," and talked about the day, how important it was and why.  It's good to keep reminding the kids, certainly with all the chocolate and eggs about.

We celebrated a few birthdays today - Jonathan, David Austen and Aunt Shain's.  They're all somewhere over the next thirty days or so (in fact, today was Jonathan's birthday).  So we gave them movies and videos games and presents as well, piling on more stuff to bless them on a great day.  Yes, there was cake afterwards, one with way too many candles on it!  But they lit it anyway, and I'm surprised the smoke alarms didn't go off.  I am not exaggerating!

Anyway, it was a pretty full day obviously.  And, as it started out early, Daddy is pretty wiped out pretty early.  Tomorrow promises to be a big day as well, so he's heading upstairs to sleep.  Mommy is still doing packing as we speak - this week should be a fun one!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Egg Hunt

Today's weather was so nice, the Easter Bunny came by a little early and actually hid a little over a dozen eggs at the church playground.  Madison spotted one right away, and as luck would have it - she had her Easter basket with her.  Mommy just so happened to have that in the car, ready to fill up - and so the hunt began.  It was just Madison, Mommy and Daddy at the church this afternoon - and it was a beautiful day outside.  Some of the eggs were more challenging to find, but Madison did locate every single one, all with a great big smile on her face.

We worked a lot today, getting ready for the Easter services tomorrow morning.  We'll have three of them, the first one starting at 7:00 am.  That means Daddy has to get up around 5:00 am or so, which is why he went to bed extremely early tonight.  It's either that or the extreme fatigue he's been feeling lately.  Vacation next week can't come soon enough.  So tired lately!

Mommy has been so good at packing and getting things set for vacation.  Meanwhile, there's also Easter preparations for the family - baskets for Hannah, David Austen and Jonathan.  Mommy and Daddy also exchanged baskets tonight before bed:  here's the basket we made for Mommy, which has the theme of "Pinky and the Brain."

Note the egg that has a globe painted on it.  This Easter, Brain wants to take over the world!  It was a cute basket idea, all based on Daddy's early memory of Mommy and her like of that cartoon series.  She was a big fan of it - and now we'll have some time to watch all the episodes!

Mommy and Daddy have been exchanging baskets for years, and some of them have had some outrageously fun themes.  One of our early favorites was a Godzilla basket - we'll have to see about scanning some of those pictures and posting them here.  Of course, most of our energy now goes towards Madison - I think she's going to be getting a nice basket tomorrow!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lady Dye

Today is Good Friday, and it was in fact a good one.  We had our service at noon, once again a visit to the Last Supper. Daddy returned to the role of James the Lesser, just as he thought - it was essentially because he's the smallest of the bunch.  Last year, I got to be a zealot (Simon), but this time around I was James the Lesser - which doesn't have the "zeal" in the performance, but it does have one big plus:  I sit right next to Jesus.  Yeah, it's me on one side and John on the other.

Anyway, it was a bit of effort putting together under short notice, but we pulled it off.  The service was remarkable, and a lot of people showed up.  Seriously, for a Friday at noon service, there were lots of people - the place was nearly full.  Additionally, this was broadcast over the internet for those who couldn't make the trip.  It could be seen from work or home, so the audience was pretty large for this.  What was most impressive were the altars afterwards:  filled with people making life-changing decisions.  Sometimes you have no idea the impact of all the effort until you see that sort of thing.

The rest of the day was cleaning up and doing work at the church.  We're doing some packing at home, and preparing services for the next time we're out, so there's a lot of busy work going on - all leading up to the point where we take off and enjoy some time hopefully not doing much at all.  Still, we haven't decided what to do on some of the days we're gone.  For the most part, it'll be staying at Baba and Nana's house, not doing that much.  But there'll be one day, or maybe another, where we'll make a quick trip somewhere - will it be EPCOT, or will it be to see a very special dolphin on the coast?  I guess we'll find out next week!

Meanwhile, there was still the business of Easter to set up for.  Tonight we decided to do color our eggs, and it was a really creative, fun, and messy time for all of us.  Here's Madison, painting a heart on one of her eggs:

She enjoyed painting, and doing a bit of abstract work on her blank canvases.  Daddy was more of the old school style, dipping eggs into various containers of dye.  You can see the workshop below, eggs in the dye, and one egg in particular the focus of Madison's attention.

This was the year to try new things, and Mommy had seen something online about using food coloring and shaving cream.  The process was interesting, and the results were supposed to produce something that was somewhat marbled.  Here the two are, right there in the middle of this new attempt:

The funnest part for Madison was the mess though.  She just loved getting colorful globs of shaving cream on her hands - she giggled and pointed it at Mommy.  It didn't matter about the eggs so much at this point - Madison was enjoying being messy!

The end result was certainly not our best eggs.  There were a few in there that were good - particularly a few that Mommy created using green stamps and sequins, glued on in the shape of a cross.  Daddy made one look like a globe for a particular reason - a basket for Mommy coming up.  And you can see a "mustache egg" in the mix as well - that's for our nephew's basket tomorrow.  We're working on an entire basket that has a mustache theme.  

The marbled egg is on our plate, as are a few of the others described above.  It was a creative time where we explored new ideas and tried new things.  And although the end product - the eggs - weren't the best we've had over the years, we all had a really good time doing it.  That's what's important!

Afterwards, it was time for Lady Dye to go to bed.  Daddy read an Easter storybook to her - the story of Jesus during the Holy Week.  It is told in a child-friendly way, so it was easier for Daddy to communicate the overall message.  Madison already got it though.  As we pray each night, it's good to see her respectful and understanding.  Although the rabbit and eggs are fun, Daddy didn't want her to think Easter was all about the bunny.

When Madison was in bed, it was time for another tradition.  We've missed this one the last two years or so, but this year we made time to do watch it:

We watched the first part of the classic movie, "The Ten Commandments."  Have you seen this lately? It is such a huge movie, and this was all before CGI and so forth.  It's also a long one - we only made it to the scene with the Burning Bush.  Fortunately, there's an intermission right after that, which was the perfect point to head upstairs for the night.  But it's a great movie.  They really don't make 'em like they used to!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Madison the Lesser

After school, it was off to the church for a bit of labor putting things together for the big Good Friday service tomorrow at noon.  You can see Madison there at the table, pretty much at the spot our Jesus will be seated.  She marched up there into the frame and posed for this shot, and announced to the church, "God sits here!"

We weren't too late here tonight, as these things tend to go.  This is primarily because we've done this particular illustration a few times at the church.  In fact, we used a photo from last year to promote the service tomorrow.  Here it is:

Daddy went out and bought a bunch of those plants today - of course they're not real.  Mommy put together the costumes and the props, and Daddy also will get some bread for the table.  We coordinated the apostles, and practiced tonight - recreating the scene from the famous Last Supper painting.  Of course, it's not an exact reproduction.  Mommy did make that Jesus costume, trying to get it as close to the one Jesus wears in the painting.  But beyond that, the apostles are all wearing different things than in the painting, and of course they don't resemble the apostles in the painting either.  But the point is made well enough despite these differences - everything is in a giant frame, and everyone freezes at just the right moment to look just like that moment when the apostles all turn to each other asking, "Is it I?"

Madison brought the Kindle with her tonight to keep busy, although we also had a movie plugged in for her to watch as well.  She kept busy enough, although she was up later than usual.  One thing that was nice were the greetings from all the other apostles:  everyone came up to Madison and gave her a big hug.  She's "one of the gang," with everyone here, happy to hang out with the twelve apostles.  We'll call her "Madison the Lesser."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pinball Wizard

Ever since she was a young girl, she played that silver ball - well, that just might be an exaggeration.  She's only been playing about a week, really.

Madison has yet to play an actual pinball table.  Part of that reason may be her height.  The other reason could be that you don't see actual pinball tables much lately.  Fortunately, there is a pinball app on the Kindle.  Also, there are pinball games on the X-Box.  Daddy downloaded the new Star Wars tables for the X-box, and on the Kindle, Madison has been playing the Arabian Nights table a bit.  It didn't take her long to get the concept:  don't let the ball go between the flippers.

There is an app on the Kindle and X-box that actually takes old pinball tables, and translates them onto the video screen.  Daddy remembers a few of these tables, such as "The Twilight Zone" and one his favorites, "Cirque Voltaire."  The latter one was actually owned by a good friend - he had that inside his house.  We'd play that over and over again - lots of fun.  The best pinball tables for our generation were the ones of the early nineties.  When working at the amusement park, we had a version of "T2," as well as one called "Funhouse."  At college, we loved "Fish Tales" and even one based on "The Last Action Hero," complete with six ball multi-ball!  But an informal survey amongst the guys backs up Daddy's opinion about the best one ever.  That would be "The Addams Family" pinball.  Oh, how we loved this one.  I can still hear Gomez calling out phrases like "Well played, Thing!  You're really on the ball!"  Or "Greeed!"  Or "The Mamushka!"  Easily the greatest pinball game of all time - lots of fun.  They were all so creative back then.  I remember the "T2" one had a trigger, and the "Fish Tales" table had a reel.  I guess pinball games are sort of fading out - you don't see that many anymore.

Fortunately, they're being translated - most of them - to video game format.  Memories rush back at the sound effects and theme songs.  Even Madison enjoys hitting the flippers now, keeping the ball in play.  While one company translates classic pinball games, another company is doing a good job creating new ones - these are pinball games that never had a physical table, but exist on the X-box.  The three Daddy just bought have a Star Wars theme, so you can imagine we'll be having some fun with those when we get around to it.  Two players can play at the same time, one on one side of the screen and the other on the other.  In time, Madison may actually start lasting longer than Daddy.  But that's because she's a Pinball Wizard - there has to be a twist!

Outside of pinball, today was a fairly busy day for Daddy, who was at work getting ready for a service in the evening and getting ready for a Good Friday service.  It'll be another live "Last Supper," and Daddy will once again be James the Lesser.  Poor guy:  he spends all of history being known as "the lesser."  You might as well call him "the loser!"  The truth is he was one of the most trusted men, as Jesus counted on him and the others to spread the gospel, and the church.  Too bad he got stuck with that "Lesser" part.  Maybe they meant "Lester."

Meanwhile, Madison had a good day - she's healthier now.  Still coughing a bit, but much better and without a fever.  The weather is getting warmer, by degrees.  She came home from school after her Kids in the Kitchen class, where they made cinnamon buns (decorated like rabbits with icing and raisins!).  She did her homework and had dinner with Daddy, who came home for a short window.  But she went to bed earlier tonight:  she's still recovering somewhat.  Sleep came easy for our little girl, who just might have been dreaming about being in a pinball game...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Art Show

Madison sold her first piece of art tonight - a lucky couple from Forsyth County bought her framed masterpiece, promptly bringing it home and hanging it on the wall nearby her room.  Tonight was the big art show, a clever ruse by the school to raise money - basically, they take pictures that our kids have made, frame them, and then make them available for for viewing in a gallery, like the one you see below.

Madison is seen here, appraising the work on display.  She's taking note of the nuances and details of the grand sweeps of the paintbrush, discerning the artist's overall vision and technique.  Yes, each one of these framed masterworks had a small price tag on them, and by now you've caught on to the clever ruse.  What parent wouldn't buy their kids artwork if it was on display?  Imagine your child's art, the only one left in the gallery, because nobody would buy it!

Fortunately, the price wasn't in the stratosphere - and also, it looked very nice.  The art teacher at her school did a swell job with all the children's works.  We enjoyed touring the "gallery," which if you can't tell by now, is the school's gym.

It was neat getting to see all the artwork from the kids, presented nicely and framed.  We snatched Madison's up before anyone else could buy it - we were initially afraid of a bidding war over this masterwork, but were able to pick it up quickly before the real art connoisseurs swept onto the scene and started fawning over her creation.  Mommy had just the right place for it at home:  it's on the wall in the hallway, just before you enter her room.  You can see it as you're walking down the hall towards her room, and it looks perfect there.

There were other things to do at the school that night, as if the art gallery wasn't enough!  One activity the kids could enjoy was boat building, where kids assembled a hull, mast and sails all on their own.  It was very important to read and follow the steps on the wall, as explained numerous times by the gentleman overseeing the projects.  Apparently, these amateur boat builders were just expecting to make something that floated in a jiffy!

But not Madison.  She was in tune with the construction process, and after a few set-backs in the testing pool, she and Daddy finally created a vessel that was seaworthy!  We hoisted the sail on a tiny toothpick, and Madison christened her new boat, The Minnie.  Here's a memorable image of this fine ship on her maiden voyage:

As you can see, the canals for these boats were made of piping, filled with just enough water for an adventurous voyage down the hall.  All we asked for is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.  And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking and a gray mist on the sea's face and a gray dawn breaking.

Madison guided her fine ship down the straight and narrow towards it's destiny, the master and high commander of the intrepid Minnie.

Ahoy and avast, the gales blew and fine trade wind held the course steady as she goes.  The crew of The Minnie felt the spray of sea salt in their faces as they made passage down the hall.  It was a grand adventure, an epic journey across the waves.  Well it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for me.  And if the wind is right, you can sail away and find tranquility.  The canvas can do miracles - just believe me.

Monday, March 25, 2013


It's snowing today.  Probably the most snow we've had all this winter - and yes, it's not winter anymore.  We haven't had a chance to make a snowman this winter (or spring), so today we figured we'd jump all over that.  Prepare to be amazed!

Meet Frosty Jr., our two-inch tall snowman.  You can see the accumulation totals on the outside table he's resting on.  Daddy rounded up snow caught in crevices on the deck, balled up a few, and made this monument to winter, standing proudly on our back deck.  He's an icon of the Georgia's Winter of 2013.   Which has been pretty disappointing to say the least!

So the snow is coming down in flurries - as it has done all day.  And yet it is springtime in Georgia.  And yet again, we have had NOTHING for accumulations all winter long.  Or, again, spring.  Let's just call it sp'winter, a combination of spring and winter.  S'winter would be easier to say, but that name was already taken by Phineas and Ferb - that's combining summer and winter.

So this Sp'winter has only been for the last week - technically, spring started last Wednesday.  But we have seriously seen more snow here where we live in the last week, than all winter long.  Again, nothing is really sticking, and it's just the flurries.  But it's still nice to look at, and sort of gets you in that frame of mind where you want to sit in front of the fireplace, and watch the warm glow as you feel it's radiance.  Which is exactly what we did today.

Madison stayed home today, which was good because she was still a little under the weather.  Daddy stayed home too - it was his day off.  She's getting better - and in fact had no fever for most of the day.  We spent a large portion of the day fooling around in front of the fireplace, and playing video games or watching television.  Mommy made us some worksheets to do, but it was a pretty lazy day.  You couldn't go outside, that's for sure:  the weather was downright chilly out there.  A gusty, cold and grey day awaited those who ventured outdoors - unfortunately that had to be Mommy.  She had her yearly appointment with the oncologist, and as this is being written well after the fact, you have the benefit of finding out the results immediately:  she's okay.  She's all clear!

It's been seven years since that terrible day, and God has taken care of us every step of the way since.  Mommy is getting better as the weeks go by.  She's certainly not 100%, but even lately, we've seen some sudden, remarkable improvements.  It was a good day, in that respect.

Meanwhile, Daddy and Madison seriously spent hours playing Lego Batman 2.  Hours!  This game is vast, and both of us were video game addicts, exploring and having a great time on the couch in front of the fire.  Both of us had blankets on, and our eyes fixed on the screen in front of us.

When Madison went to bed early, it was time for some Easter work.  And we've got a lot of it to do this week:  first of all, there is the matter of Good Friday.  Our church is doing a special service that requires twelve apostles, and one Jesus.  And also, a large frame.  Yes, we're doing the "large frame thing" again.  We're recreating the scene of the "Last Supper."  But beyond the coordination and costumes, there is also the matter of Easter itself.  While that service day we're not doing anything that complex on the main sanctuary stage - we are doing a lot when we get to Nana and Ye-Ye's house.  It's Easter, and there'll be eggs to find, and baskets to exchange.  Tonight we worked on nephew's baskets, which have a great theme to 'em.  We also did our niece's basket, which is completely done.  Finally, Madison's basket is complete as well - we've had these items for her for some time now.  In fact, one thing we got for her back in August of last year (I just forgot to wrap it for Christmas).  Yes, it's a "Brave" themed basket - complete with a "Brave" bathing suit, a "Brave" reading book, a "Brave" Pez Dispenser and a "Brave" how to draw book.  We also got her "The Rise of the Guardians," mainly because it has an Easter Bunny in it, and it came with two wind-up eggs.  There's a lot more to the basket - it turned out great.  She'll be really pleased with it, I'm sure!

One more Disney-related note (speaking of "Brave"):  we had to cancel an upcoming Disney trip in May.  Bottom line is that we were just too busy during that time to go.  We'll postpone that for later, I'm sure.  Besides, we may find ourselves in Disney NEXT WEEK for about a day or so.  Daddy's looking into that now - for Spring Break, we're going to visit with Nana and Ba-Ba in Florida.  We may spend one day going together to EPCOT to their International Flower and Garden Festival - and also drop by to see Mulan and do some Soarin'.  That's the plan, anyway.  The other part of the plan was to use the pool down there (with her new bathing suit).  But after a conversation with Nana and Ba-Ba today, we discovered the temperature is also quite chilly down there too!  I don't know about snowmen, but I don't know about swimming either!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday 2013

Today is Palm Sunday, and probably the coldest Palm Sunday we've had in years.  It was a great service in the morning, but unfortunately, Madison couldn't be there.  She was still a bit under the weather, and so she and Mommy stayed home.  Mommy watched the service online, while Madison slept mostly.  Believe it or not, Madison actually slept until around 10:30 am this morning.  That's a good thing, as getting rest is good.  You can see her picture above - look closely at the eyes, and you can see them swollen.  It's almost like she's been having an allergic reaction.  By night's end, this swelling went down considerably.  We'll take things as they come tomorrow, in regards to seeing a doctor or going to school.  Odds are against her going to school, really.

Of course, the other thing you see in this photo are the palms, and the comic book Bible.  It's Palm Sunday, so per our usual tradition, Daddy ordered a whole bunch of palm leaves for all the children at the church.  We're talking over a thousand palms, plus the instructions we print out on how to make a palm cross.

When Daddy got home, he and Madison opened her comic book Bible to the story about Palm Sunday, so she could see what the day was all about.  Once finished with the reading, and the telling of the story, we sat down and made some palm crosses.  As you can see in the photo above, they didn't come out too shabby!

It was another bitterly cold day today, although by comparison it was nothing when you think of the temperatures further north of here.  Still, we stayed inside for the entire day, and mostly in the living room by the fireplace.  It's been such a blessing to have this fire burning, and in today's case, for most of the day.  The crackle of the fire, and the smell of burning wood - it's all very nice.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ben & Jerry

Today Madison got a chance to taste some of the finer things in life.  It was one of those moments where Daddy realized she's never had Ben & Jerry's ice cream before.  It all started on Friday, when Madison missed school - she's still under the weather today - but one of the things she realized she missed was this:  ice cream day.  Each Friday, the kids at lunchtime can have ice cream.  Madison looks forward to this, and having missed it, Daddy determined he was going to pick her up some ice cream on the way home.  She wanted chocolate, so Daddy got her a pint of the fudge ice cream flavor, but the one she's holding was a recent flavor.  It's good too, but not as good as the classics that Daddy also picked up:  Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Cookie Dough.  Best ice creams ever!

The rest of the day is summed up with these photos:

As for the first, it appears as if it's just another day of filming for KidPak.  The second photo is a screen capture of Madison and Mommy, who are talking to Daddy on the computer.  It was a long day, so we're thankful for this technology to speak to one another.

Madison is still sick today, which is unfortunate because things were looking okay yesterday.  The thing is this, and it's been well-documented on this site in the past:  medicine works really well.  The symptoms - runny nose, fever, coughing - all go away within about ten minutes when she takes her medicine.  But if that little container says the medicine will stop working about four hours later, it's like a light switch:  Madison is suddenly sick again.  Basically, we've been treating the symptoms, and it appears as if we'll need a doctor's visit to get this bugger out of the way.

Fortunately, she's been sleeping at night, and hasn't been miserable during the daytime.  One would question if she was really sick if you visited her during those times where she was on her medication.  That's a good thing - we're keeping her inside and as stationary as possible, of course.

And rewarding her with a little Ben & Jerry to boot!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stay Home from School Day

The day did not start out well.  Madison was coughing and crying, with a fever too.  Where did this come from?  She was doing fine yesterday, and other than the fact that it is very cold outside still, we were thinking ... uh... spring is here?  No more of this stuff, right?


Madison isn't as bad as it has been in the past.  Though we started out a little rough, she was okay once the medicine kicked in.  Coughing and fever were down - just so long as she had her medicine.  Once that timer goes off of the medicine, she starts getting feverish again, with coughing.

Tonight, she had a fever at 100 just before taking medication and bedtime - but she's been resting quietly for the most part, so we're optimistic that this won't be as bad as previous illnesses.  And, we're grateful at the timing.  At least she's not sick during a weekend that we have big plans to work around.

As described in the title of this post, she did stay at home today.  That was the logical thing to do.  She wasn't happy about it though - she wanted to go to school.  Ah, kindergarten. That's when you're wanting to go to school.  Hopefully she'll want to go to school all her life, of course.

So she stayed home.  Daddy played some games with her in the morning, which was a nice chance to sit around and play more video games.  We also read a few children's books - one of which was on the Kindle.  Mommy found several kids' books for the Kindle, which is a neat thing to read from.  Daddy likes the feel of an actual book in his hands, especially the hardcovers.  We've got a slowly growing collection of those hardcovers, and no paperbacks - or, at least not many paperbacks.  But lately, we've been trying a few books on the Kindle to see what it's like.

Recently, we've been getting a few of the smaller books for the Kindle.  Namely, a Star Wars book - "Winner Lose All."  Madison's book this morning was called "Surprise in the Kitchen," by Mary Lee.

It was actually a nice book we read together - Madison enjoyed hearing it, and it was easy to read and see the pictures on the Kindle.  We may do a few more this weekend:  Mommy downloaded several different children's books.  Again, it's not the preferred thing to do - it's almost like borrowing books from the library without actually having a book in your hand.  If a book is good enough, Daddy always likes having a physical copy somewhere.  There's just something about the feel of a book, and the smell of paper and print.  That may sound old-fashioned, of course.  The future may be a virtual library filled with books that we read on screens, where we turn pages with the touch of a finger.  It's certainly different, and that doesn't make it bad of course.  Madison enjoys reading either way - especially if there is one other component there:  Mommy or Daddy to read to her.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Abstract Art

We painted that birdhouse today - it was pretty abstract, but Madison likes to paint it that way.  Daddy actually offered to maybe help her try out a pattern or perhaps a image of something like a flower or a landscape - yet Madison insisted that this is the way she likes to paint.  Like the impassioned artist that she is, she quickly went to work, dropping her paintbrush into the various brightly colored paints and wildly streaking them across her visually potent medium.  You can see "the pooled swirls where two colors meet and the wrinkled skins formed by the build-up of paint, barely visible in the initial confusion of overlapping lines."  I got that quote from another website:  that was a phrase taken to describe a Jackson Pollack painting, and it just about covers this birdhouse as well, right?  Pretty much, yes.

Also, in honor of the recent wildlife theme at church, we popped in a movie tonight that Madison hasn't seen:  "The Wild."  

It's not a bad movie, actually.  We wouldn't put it up there with the "Madagascar" movies (which, of course, are remarkably similar).  But it was worth watching, and Madison liked it too.  It always helps to have a bowl of popcorn nearby too!

We did a little piano practice as well, along with some light reading:  Daddy has been reading books from our local library, which Madison has been enjoying.  It's been a great part of the nightly ritual, reading books.  She brushes her teeth, adds salt to the vaporizer, changes into her pajamas, says her prayers, and hears a story.  It takes a little time, but it's good to have all that in line each night.

It's still cold outside.  With the forecast in mind, we gathered more wood today.  It was windy outside, and in broad daylight.  And the second day of spring.  And yet it was still quite chilly.  We got inside, and by the time Madison got home, we'd had a fire roaring in the fireplace for much of the day.  Madison got to enjoy the benefits, standing next to Mommy or Daddy as we stood in front of the fire.  Every so often we'd turn around and face the fire, or put our backs to it - it's such a nice thing having a roaring fire in the fireplace on a chilly night.  It also gives off a characteristic smell of burning wood - the smoke goes up the chimney of course.  But the light touch of burning wood creates an ambience that is most pleasant.

For the most part, Mommy and Daddy stayed indoors today.  Daddy has been writing messages for the upcoming Summer Xtreme in June.  We're having a "tribes" theme, which sort of feeds off of the whole "Survivor" feel, but with different "tribes" working together or against each other.

In this case, the tribes each represent different grade levels from kindergarten through sixth grade.  We haven't assigned any one in particular to a grade level yet, but we have figured out the tribes:  Cowboys, Ninjas, Gladiators, Vikings, Pirates, Superheroes and Luchadors.  Daddy is particularly happy with that last tribe, although they're all pretty awesome.  Again, we don't know which one is going to represent the kindergartners, so I don't know if Madison will be a Viking or a Ninja or a Luchador.  Whatever it is, I'm sure she'll have a costume for it!

In the mean time, Daddy has been writing messages about "tribes."  Originally, I wasn't sure if I could get that much out of the Twelve Tribes of Israel - relating it to an age group of kindergarten through sixth grade.  But after doing quite a bit of research and getting some downloads from God, Mommy and Daddy have written the outlines to five pretty decent messages for the week, each one dedicated to a different Tribe of Israel:  Benjamin, Judah, Levi, Ephraim and Manasseh.  I always have a difficult time spelling that last one.

It'll be another great week for Madison, although I'm not sure if we'll put her in the larger group, or keep her with the younger ones again.  Either way, she'll have a great time I'm sure.  It's three months away, and there's quite a bit of work to be done left.  But Daddy has just one more message to write, so that'll be done soon and we can check that off the list.

The wind is roaring outside again, reminding us of how grateful we are to be inside, and have a place to be.  Still can't get over that it's spring and it's this cold outside.  Spring Break is just a few weeks away!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today was the first day of Spring, as evidenced by the forecast above and... wait a minute.  That is not a spring forecast, is it?  Yes, in fact it is.  That's tonight's low, which is pretty darn chilly if you ask me. I know you didn't necessarily ask me, so I'm sort of volunteering that information anyway.

This afternoon, Mommy and Madison did some foraging.  Literally, they were out in the back yard area, both were picking up sticks and twigs to use for kindling for the fireplace.  The end result was two boxes filled with some good fire starting material.  Tonight we had a great fire roaring in the fireplace, just when we needed it most:  the first day of Spring.

Today was a Wednesday, which Madison knows is Daddy's longest day.  Still, he and Lance made some time to come by the house around dinner time, which has become a great tradition.  We pick up Madison from her cooking class (she made muffins today), and we drop her off at the house where we have some dinner.  Today, Mommy had this huge Mexican feast prepared for us, with fajitas and tacos and more.  It was too much - in fact, we didn't finish it.  But it was sure nice to sit inside and enjoy a meal together, all in the warmth inside.

Tonight's service was a fun one, dedicated to a lot of the animals on the Pridelands, which is still the series of the month.  We talked about a few lessons from different animals found there, one of which is called the eland.  A few years ago, I'd never heard of an eland before.  Now, of course, is different.

Not long ago, we got to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we had a room inside the big horseshoe looking out at all the animals each day and night.  It's a great place to stay - and someday we hope to take Madison there to see all the wildlife.  We'd keep our balcony doors open at each night - and all was quiet there, despite all the animals about.  Except for this clicking sound.  It sounded like castanets clicking in the distance, and we were scratching our heads as to what that noise was.

During the one day, we asked an employee there who told us it was the eland, an animal you can't miss.  It's pretty much an oversized gazelle that marches around the grounds, clicking as it walks.  It is a fascinating creature, one that Daddy drew at least one point of a message from:


     Along the Pridelands Reserve, you’ll encounter all sorts of antelope, the largest of which is called the eland. This is one antelope you don’t really want to mess with. Upon hearing the word “antelope,” you might picture the fleet-footed, high jumping animal that looks much like a deer. But when you see the eland, it may remind you more of a bull!
     Indeed, the size and power of the male eland usually is enough to discourage any predators from tangling with this large animal. How big is this antelope? They can be six feet tall, eleven feet long and weigh up to 2,200 pounds!
     If the power of the eland doesn’t intimidate, then its horns just might do the trick. These tightly spiraled horns form a v-shape that’s about four feet long.
     You can hear them coming, sometimes hundreds of meters away. It isn’t a roar, and it isn’t any heavy ferocious breathing. It’s a clicking sound, like a castanet – and it comes from their knees. Isn’t that wild? Zoologists are still trying to figure the noise out.
     Some believe that the clicking noise is a message that tells the others who the biggest and most dominant eland is in the herd. In other words, if you’re king of the antelopes, you walk around clicking your knees to let everyone know. The strength of your tendons in your legs will click and sound off just how powerful you are.
     Of course humans don’t do it that way. We use our knees with a completely different method: that’s when we get down on them in prayer to God. By praying time and again, we become stronger. It’s a different kind of strength than what the eland has, but through prayer it becomes possible for us to do all things. And like the tough eland, we can walk around with our heads held high, knowing that with God, all things are possible.
     Just don’t try clicking your knees. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


What a busy day for Madison!  We went from one thing to the next to the next to the next, and finished just in time for bed!

Obviously, school took up most of the day.  This morning was chilly again, so much so that Daddy had to go and get more firewood for the next few days.  Spring technically starts tomorrow, and yet even then the temperature for us here is supposed to dive down to twenty-five degrees!  Yes, that's more freezing cold weather for us.

Still, no snow this year.  Two years in a row of being let down.  But that one year three years ago was pretty ginormous for snow.  I suppose we all miss that terribly - and the funny thing is that the people north of us have been enduring an enormous amount of snow all year long.  Epic snowstorm after snowstorm, and they're no doubt sick of it.  And here we are just wanting a little.  Oh well - maybe next year.  That's the mentality of folks in Georgia, as it relates to snow, and as it relates to sports too:  "Oh well, maybe next year!"

Madison got home from school, and of course went straight to piano class, where things are getting a little more difficult with new chords and new songs.  But she seems to be right there in the midst of it, ready for anything.  The recital is coming up, and it has a Western theme to it:  we'll be singing or playing "Home on the Range," which is one of Daddy's favorite songs for some reason.  Mrs. Pam our teacher showed everyone an old version of the song, one sang by Alvin and the Chipmunks:  "Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the cantaloupe play."

After piano was ballet, which Madison enjoyed as always - but after that was yet another event:  a Daddy-Daughter event at the school!  It was organized by the school, and was a nice event to go to for Madison and Daddy.  We showed up about 5:30 with all the other dads and kids, and first went through a great big line to pick up some free food:  there were hot dogs, burgers, chips, drinks, and cookies too.  Madison and Daddy picked up some food from the tables, and then had a seat in the cafeteria, where Madison eats lunch every day.  Next, we went over to the other side of the cafeteria, which was where the action was at!

Tiny hammers!  We got our birdhouse kit, and the two of us went straight to work - Madison was so focused on the completion of her task.  There was so much noise around us - kids hammering in their nails, working on tiny tables with their dads.  Dress them like elves, and it would be pretty close to a scene from Santa's Workshop.

Madison and Daddy completed their birdhouse very easily, with no complications.  Part of this is because Madison is so quick to learn what to do - she didn't bend any nails, and for his part, Daddy put things together correctly the first time.  For a change!

As soon as we were done with our birdhouse, we posed for a few photos hoisting our completed project in the air.  Then, it was off to the house for some more drawing, and eventually bedtime. We read bedtime stories tonight, some about Easter and some about vacation.  Both are coming up soon - we'll be taking a quick trip to Florida coming up soon.  Very much looking forward to a break - although today was certainly a lot of fun!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Tonight, Madison and Daddy spent some time drawing from that book we got at the Art of Animation Resort.  Madison unwrapped this gift at Christmas, and it's been a good purchase.  Madison was really into drawing, making sure that we both had paper and pencils to stay on task and focused.

Basically, from time to time Daddy will have "art class" with Madison, where we'll both spend some time together drawing - step by step - a particular Disney character.  So far, we've drawn characters like Mickey and Minnie.  But tonight we decided to try out Daisy Duck.  What you see above is Madison's final product - and I have to say I was pretty pleased with it.  At first in sketch form, it looks a little rough around the edges.  But with a little editing, and a little color, you can see that things turned out pretty good for a six-year old.  She even signed her name at the bottom, if you can read that.

Today we had music practice, of course.  Tonight's practice was a bit longer, as we had quite a bit of catching up to do.  Madison is getting better and better with playing using both hands - she knows about four or five songs that she can play that way, which is pretty neat.  Only recently has Daddy himself been able to do the same - with pretty much the same songs from the book.

After music, it was time to go to the Amusement Mile.  This is an amusement park within the game of Lego Batman 2, the game we've sort of become obsessed about lately.  Madison and Daddy spent about a half-hour there, riding teacups,a  roller coaster, bumper cars, a big slide, spinning rockets, and a ferris wheel that submerges underwater.  All as Lego characters, of course.

Soon enough, it was time for bed.  Madison will whisper, "Come here.  I want to tell you something."

You lean in.

She then plants two kisses on your eyes, and says, "You have hearts for eyes now!"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day 2013

After a big day yesterday, it was time for another big day today!  Of course, it was St. Patrick's Day, and as you can see below, Daddy wore green!

Yes, that's pretty much the color I've been wearing all series long at KidPak.  This morning's church service was great, made even greater by the fact that Madison and Mommy came to the second service to re-visit the Pridelands.  In fact, despite the really late night, Madison woke up at around 8:30 and wandered down the hall to see Mommy:  "We can't miss KidPak Jr.!"

This has been a great series.  The set is amazing, and the costumes and actors have been superb.  We had a fantastic message this morning, about watching out for the poacher, who comes to steal, kill and destroy.  But we did it in a kid-friendly way, so it turned out well!  Madison enjoyed the service very much, and was very good about repeating the overall theme to us as we were leaving. She said, "Guard your heart."

That's good advice for all of us.

When we got home, of course it was time for some more corn beef and potatoes.  Mommy served it up fresh, and we had ourselves another Irish feast to celebrate the day.  Afterwards, it was time for some rest - it is the day of rest, after all.  It was such a beautiful day, and yet we were somewhat tired from the weekend.  That said, Mommy spent some time on the computer, while Madison and Daddy revisited Lego Batman 2.  But that wasn't the only thing we did today - oh not at all.

Madison got a little hair cut!  Okay, not just a little hair cut.  This was a pretty big one, as evidenced by the huge lock of hair she's holding in her hands.  She's been wanting to do this since the Chinese New Year, where it is a tradition to get a hair cut each year.  But Mommy has been pretty reluctant, as have all of us, because it is so beautiful.  Here's the before picture:

The great thing about this haircut is where it is going.  We'll donate the cut hair to Locks of Love this week - and it is a lot.  Mommy is seen cutting it here below, and we actually trimmed off as much as sixteen inches of hair in length!

Don't worry though - she still has a good amount on her head.  Take a look at the "after" picture:

She's been begging for this for a few weeks, and in fact wanted it even shorter.  But when it was first cut, she actually started getting a little upset - "I didn't want it that short."  She hadn't seen herself in the mirror yet though - when she did, she realized everything was okay.  It was just a bit of a shock to the system, I suppose.

Obviously, she still looks beautiful.  And she's pretty excited about her new hair cut too.  And, we're excited to be able to bless someone else with a really nice lock of hair!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Murder Mystery!

It was a work day for Daddy - for just a bit.  But tonight, we were invited to the big St. Patrick's Day party at Ye-Ye and Nana's house.  It is a tradition to head over to their house and have a big family celebration, and although it isn't St. Patrick's Day today, there was more time on Saturday to spend together.

Madison was looking forwards to spending time with Hannah so much - as soon as she got there, the two ran upstairs to go play.  Meanwhile, we were getting ready for a big dinner downstairs, where soon we were all together eating the traditional items:  corn beef, potatoes, cabbage and more.  The house was decorated with Irish decorations:  flags, flowers, and even leprechauns.  But the living room was decorated in a much different way:

The reason for the Middle Eastern decorations was this:  tonight we were involved in a murder mystery.  Each of us came dressed as characters at an excavation site, ready to solve a big mystery!

Yes, there was even a tent in the room that Ye-Ye built.  Everyone had a great time trying to figure it all out - this one may have been the most interesting and easy to follow we've had.  We've done these murder mysteries about seven or eight times, and this one seemed to capture everyone's imagination the most.  As for "whodunnit," here's a little hint:

Yep, it was Mommy.  It was self-defense though.  And, of course, everyone in the room were pretty rotten characters when light was shed upon our past histories.  The ironic thing was that Mommy's character was the least rotten of them all:  which of course made her all the more suspicious!

Anyway, it was a fun night for everyone.  While we were engaged in the game, Hannah and Madison spent a lot of time playing upstairs.  Madison so enjoys time with Hannah, and even though it was late when things were wrapping up, Madison was still wide awake and having such a great night.

Last year we did our first murder mystery at St. Patrick's Day, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  This year, we continued the trend - and it appears as if we've got ourselves a new tradition.  What "St. Patrick's Day" and "murder mysteries" have to do with each other... I have no clue!  But everyone had such a great time, the bigger question is:  "Why not?"

Friday, March 15, 2013

KidPak Movie Bash

Tonight, the kids at KidPak got together to see a movie.  We chose "Wreck-It Ralph," mainly because it came out a little over a week ago - but also because it's a great movie.  You can see Vanellope Von Schweetz above, one of the main characters of the movie.  To celebrate the evening, Mommy and Daddy actually got Madison a t-shirt with her picture on it - you can see the two of them below, as Madison looks like she's having a great time!

We filled the auditorium, gave everyone popcorn and candy and drinks, and even had some sideshows.  Afterwards, Daddy and Lance asked trivia questions based on the movie, and whoever got them right got some Wreck-It Ralph prizes we purchased at the Disney Store.  It was a fun night!  Here's a picture of Madison with Ms. Halston, our KPJR director.  They're both wearing "Wreck-It Ralph" t-shirts!

Madison had a half day today at school, so she came home and had some fun with Mommy first, getting ready to go to the big night's events.  One neat thing happened with her leprechaun trap:  it appears that a leprechaun had actually visited overnight - a little early!  There were actually tiny green footprints on the side of the trap this morning!

She brought home the leprechaun trap - and of course, as this was the last day of school before St. Patrick's Day, she was wearing her cute little shamrock shirt.  She's got a few different St. Patrick's Day shirts, so she'll probably be wearing one Saturday and Sunday as well.

Meanwhile, Daddy was spending much of the day planning for the big event.  He did go into school with Madison this morning again - this time to fill out a survey about her classes.  Afterwards, there were snacks and a chance to win a free Easter basket and some other items.  The Easter basket:  we don't have to worry about that.  We got some more things in the mail today that we ordered online - just a few small things - Madison's Easter basket is looking pretty full already!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Strawberry π

It is π Day once again, and to celebrate, Daddy and Mommy dropped by Friendship Road to the nearest Shoney's around.  This is a restaurant that used to be an empire in North Georgia, but just like the Romans, this once vast and mighty empire collapsed in on itself, with only a few Big Boys remaining, having been dug up by archeologists attempting to piece together the history of this once and mighty kingdom.

As noted here before (see previous π Day entries), we used to go to Shoney's frequently for their legendary strawberry pie.  We'd ask for a whole pie and split it - these were so good back in the day (yes, roughly the same time as the Roman empire).  So in honor of π Day, Daddy set out to a place called "Shoney's On the Go," which is the equivalent of a fast food restaurant that serves Shoney's food.  Yes, they serve strawberry pies there - this was the reason for the journey.

Daddy brought them home for Madison, who is pictured above, preparing to help celebrate π Day.  Unfortunately, the pies were not as good as memory served.  We suspect it is the crust size ratio, or perhaps the strawberry filling.  Whatever the reason, the magic is no longer there.  Sometimes, you just can't go back to something.  It's better left in our memories, a place of wonder where all the good filters through leaving a sweet and syrupy feeling of happy remembrance that we visit in our minds from time to time.

The pies weren't that bad, of course.  They just weren't magic in a pie crust.  Daddy still managed to scarf his, but that might be because he was pretty hungry.  We spent the day out shopping for clothing for Madison, and even made a stop at the Disney Store for a few items - get this, we did some Christmas shopping today.  Yes, Madison already has four items under her tree, and Christmas is still nine months away!  But we also picked up a "Wreck-It Ralph" t-shirt for her to wear to tomorrow night's movie night at KidPak.  

We got home in time for Madison - BARELY.  Wow, we were racing the clock to get there just as the bus was stopping for her.  Whew!  Not going to cut it that close again, that's for sure!

Anyway, Madison and Daddy did their usual round of piano practice, which was good.  Madison can do this one new song entirely by herself, with both hands.  On top of that, she's doing that Beethoven song by herself to, which just sounds impressive.  

Afterwards, it was time for some more St. Patrick's Day fun.  We made cookies!

Here's our little chef, about to pass the cookie pan to Mommy who will put it in the oven.  You can see pots of gold there, rainbows, and one shamrock.  On other pans, we had about a dozen shamrocks - these turned out the best.  The pots of gold didn't quite work out, as the "gold" candy at the top sort of melted and looked like yak.  And those rainbows in the picture above?  That's the best they're ever going to look!  Next year, I think we stick with the shamrocks!

Speaking of which, we all indulged a bit after our cooking session - it's now tradition to eat a cookie.  It's the spoils of battle in the kitchen, after all.

Tonight was another St. Patrick's Day movie, an old Disney Channel movie called "The Luck of the Irish."  It was actually not that bad - we enjoyed watching it, sort of getting into the spirit of things a wee bit.  If we ever find that one on DVD, we'll certainly pick it up - but we'd be lucky to find it.  Until then, we found the whole thing on Youtube for free, and were pretty blessed to be able to sit and watch it through our new Xbox on the big television.  Even more blessed:  we had a roaring fire going in the fireplace today.  That sort of thing feels so good on a cold winter's night.  Sure, spring is supposedly just around the corner (next week), but it's been mighty chilly lately!