Friday, May 31, 2013

Digging It!

We got a special delivery today at the office!  Here she is, a little ball of energy to keep us moving the next few days.  It's going to be like camping out at the office,with so much work to do.  Mommy is here, and therefore so is Madison.  But that doesn't mean she won't be having a little fun!

Yes, we've got free two-wheeler rides today - and as you can see, Madison is having a good time.  Today the booklets arrived for our newest series.  The guy you see above delivers them once a month, and a few times in the past Madison has been here to greet him.  It's now just about mandatory that she gets a ride up and down the office on the hand cart.  She just sort of wanders over when the cart is empty, and stands there, expecting a ride.  Our delivery guy always gives her a ride on the cart, no matter what.

This week is somewhat of a write-off with Madison, unfortunately.  Although she's getting a crash-course in what it's like to be the child of a ministry worker.  We put in some really long hours sometimes - its a good thing we've got a Kindle and Leapster Explorer for Madison.  Although she doesn't even need those most of the time:  the other workers and volunteers here always show Madison a great time.

Meanwhile, at home, our new pets are busy setting up shop.  Take a look at how much they'v been digging it the last twenty hours or so:

Madison was checking out the ant farm as much as we've been lately.  It's somewhat hypnotic!

Our other pets are doing well - the caterpillars are already starting to "hang around," which means we'll be putting them into the tent soon enough.  And then, the sea monkeys are getting bigger.  We can spot at least three swimming around in there so far, so all is well with our new pets!

Madison continues to read her books and do homework exercises on the computer.  Her school actually  keeps track over the summer of what she does online, which is great.  It will also keep track of her library reading, once we start to input all the books.  Daddy hit a snag when registering her though - when there's time, he'll fix that up and get her started officially.  Despite the status, she's actually read a whole lot of books from the library.  Yay, Madison!

Only a few more days to go, and still so much left to do.  There will be some late nights here... and in just one week, it'll all be over with.  Mommy and Daddy will be exhausted.  So will Madison, but in a different way.  I think she's going to have a spectacular week!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Epic Ant Farm

We've got some new pets in the house - add these to our sea monkeys swimming about in the living room, and also the caterpillars in the kitchen.  We may have not mentioned this, but we ordered some special caterpillars who are now eating a whole lot of their food in the kitchen, getting fatter by the day.  It is simply amazing how fast these guys grow.  They start out so small, and get so big and fat so quickly.  Take a look at the caterpillars:

When they start to hang from their "ceiling" there, we'll place them in the butterfly sanctuary we've got.  As you can tell, with all these critters in the house, we're getting fairly close to calling ourselves a zoo!

But back to the ant farm:  we got the ants in the mail today, and did everything as instructed with Madison at our side.  She was pretty involved in the process, of course wanting to name them all too.  They're getting busy pretty quickly - even as I type this, the ants are starting to dig in, exploring their new home, assign roles and go on reconnaissance missions down the tunnels.  I don't think it will be long before we start seeing new tunnels - of course we'll post pictures.

As for our other pets, the sea monkeys, there's not much to show just yet.  We don't see many in there - maybe about three or four so far.  And those that we can see are extremely small.  It would take a special camera to get a picture of those pets right now, but they are in there, swimming around.  The important thing is giving them oxygen and feeding them about once every five days.  We're on task there, and we're seeing those pets grow as well.  Soon we'll be able to see them a lot easier, at which point we'll hopefully post some pictures too!

Today we met the whole family - Daddy's family - over at the movie theater.  We went to see the movie "Epic," which was loosely based on the book "The Leaf Men."  I say "loosely" because the only thing it had in common with the book were the Leaf Men.  But that doesn't mean it was a bad movie - I'd put it up there with "Rise of the Guardians."  Not quite "Brave" or "Wreck-it Ralph," but still worth a watch.  The animation is beautiful, and the story starts grabbing you a bit more towards the end.  We had all of this popcorn, and of course smuggled-in drinks and candy - our whole family took up the back row and had a great time.  How wonderful are those moments when you can hear Madison laugh loudly in the theater at something silly - like the slugs in this movie.

Speaking of which, it was noted that last year was the year of the archer.  In 2008, movies featured China.  One year, it was all about penguins.  Another year, we saw France and restaurants.  So what, you ask, is the theme of this year?


Yes, you read that right.  In "Monsters University" there is a monster late for class, and he has to hurry. The joke is:  he's a giant slug.  This movie "Epic" features a snail and a slug as the humorous sidekicks.  Incidentally, these are the best characters in the movie.  Finally, to seal the deal, there is actually a movie about racing snails coming out this summer.  It's called "Turbo," and no doubt we'll be taking Madison to see it.  Anyway, there's your theme for the year.  I'm not sure how we went from archery to slugs, but there you have it!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dr. Dinosaur

Madison went to church tonight, and got a real treat!  Not only was there a message - but there was also a puppet show!

Meet "Dr. Dinosaur," who went to four years of dinosaur school to get as smart as he is.  You can see he's got a smart raptor friend with him as well.  I'd be careful with that little guy - they tend to grow up and be bigger, more hungry guys.  Madison didn't seem to mind though - here she is first noticing that Mommy is with her in the room - smile for the camera!

Meanwhile, the age of the dinosaurs roamed on.  Lee Bryan is a great puppeteer, one we've seen at previous Summer Xtremes - last year (and the year before!), Madison saw him do a different puppet show with sea creatures.  Tonight's creatures were a bit more scaly!


There's just something about puppet shows and kids.  Okay, adults enjoy them too.  Tonight was a lot of fun for everyone, including Madison.  As evidence of that fact, take a look at this picture of Madison cracking up at two dinosaurs butting heads:

It was a great night for all the kids.  Later on, Lee Bryan will be at the library nearby us, and we just might go see him again there.  We'll see as the schedule allows - Mommy is looking into a few summer camps upcoming, and we might be doing a ballet camp soon.  Also, we might be doing that art camp, and yes, Summer Xtreme.

Funny timing today:  first of all, we got our tax refund.  Next thing you know, we lost it.  Explanation:  the home owner's association finally found us, despite our best attempts to find them early on.  Seriously, we called and wrote, and could never get them to reply.  Now out of the blue there is a letter about back fees and so forth - nearly THREE YEARS LATER.  It's not like we were that hard to find, right?  A homeowner's association has a tough time finding someone's address in the very neighborhood?  Yeah, we're stuck with a real winner there.

Anyway, at least we might finally get some of those pool cards we keep asking for.  We'll see about that though, as the folks that run that organization don't seem terribly intelligent.

At least we got our refund more quickly.  As noted elsewhere, we were part of the ninety percent of adoptive families that had an audit or experienced the "further review" letter.  We had to wait until late fall to get our refund, no doubt just like many other adoptive families.  This past month, the IRS is getting spanked over this and the other things too, sort of going through their own version of an "audit."  Many folks are enjoying the public whooping the organization is getting.

New topic:  today was a big work day for Daddy - we've got just a few days left until Summer Xtreme.  We spent time filming and writing, and of course preparing for the service tonight.  It was a busy day, but at least we got to see Madison tonight.  And despite any bad news that rolls in, it's always good to focus on the positive:  we've got a church, a home, a family, our health, and much, much more.  We're blessed and highly favored, and some day when we're all in heaven, we won't have to deal with home owners associations, because they aren't in the Bible.  And neither is the IRS.

MC Kisses

As it happens, Madison's initials are "MC."  This was not planned, that is to say we did not think, "Hey, we can have her initials be MC, like 'master of ceremonies" and "microphone controller."  "MC" is a pretty familiar term from Daddy's generation.  We had plenty of rappers who had a name that started out with the initials MC.  For example, MC Hammer, MC Lyte, MC Tee, and of course MC Escher.

Madison said goodbye this morning to Daddy, spelling out the initials "MC" on his cheek with kisses.  Daddy was trying to figure out what she was doing, but fortunately she let me know afterwards by calling them "MC Kisses."

So we've got our own little MC.  I think that'll be her new hip-hop name:  MC Kisses.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Water Battle

Memorial Day was upon us again - Daddy's side of the family came over, and Mommy prepared a feast unlike any other.  Daddy gleefully headed to the grill and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers (a special mix of beef prepared by Mommy!).  Meanwhile, the patriotic decorations went up:  the wreath, the flags, the placemats and more.  We played our patriotic music - some of those Disney CDs from the parks and elsewhere, and got busy getting things ready for family.

Corn, macaroni salad, potato salad, beans, hamburgers, hot dogs - and oh, that lemonade.  Mommy got this lemonade dispenser that looks so great on the counter.  Slices of lemons float at the top, and your mouth starts watering as you get yourself a cup.  But the punch in the punch bowl looks good too.  Hard to decide what to drink!

After the big meal, we sat around and looked through all sorts of awesome pictures from Ireland.  Nana and Ye-Ye had just come back, and were sharing their adventure with all of us.  Meanwhile, the cousins and Madison were playing video games, or running around upstairs.

And after dessert, it was time for the annual tradition:  the Memorial Day Water Battle.  Here's a picture of the gang below.  Don't mess with them.

Daddy was involved a little, however, he did want to snap a few pictures of Madison because she was having such a good time!  Also notice how perfect the weather was outside today.  It was a little warm, which was just right for having a water gun showdown!

Madison was trying out the heavy weaponry.  This picture below shows you how excited and happy she was to have everyone over.  This tub below is the water station, filled with water so that combatants can refill their weaponry.  Madison would fill hers up and unload on everyone - quickly running back while yelling, "Don't shoot at me, I'm refilling!"

Also set up:  the Little Mermaid water slide.  It was fun for the girls for a while on their own.  But during the great battle, it became part of a pirate ship.  Basically, throughout the battle, certain ones were made to "walk the plank."  That basically means they had to go down the waterside, and consequently get soaked.

Poor Ye-Ye.  He didn't plan on getting that wet.  But he - like pretty much everyone else, was made to walk the plank!

Everyone was soaked, but everyone had a great time, especially Madison.  When we said goodbye at the end of the day, it was bittersweet.  We hated to see everyone go, but we were also pretty darn tired. It didn't take too long for Mommy, Madison and Daddy to fall asleep - but we did so with smiles on our faces at the wonderful memories of the day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wonderful World of Color

Madison's big ballet recital was today!

Madison was absolutely precious in this performance, as were all the other children in her dance routine.  They performed to the song "Wonderful World of Color," which was Disney's theme song for its television show when it first got color.  At first glance, this might seem like a totally random choice - and yet the theme of the entire ballet recital was "The Rainbow Connection."  Every dance from all the company's performers had a color theme to it, from "Blue" to "True Colors" to even clogging to Janet Jackson's "Black Cat."  Yeah.

The recital was at a theater at Brenau, and of course there were opportunities there to purchase flowers. We got Madison a bouquet, which she loved.  She also loved the award that she got, a little gold statue on a pedestal.  Her first major award!

Speaking of which, we went to Longhorn Steakhouse afterwards.  That's where we used Madison's gift certificate from the High Flyer Award.  She was awarded for good behavior at school, and on top of the accolades and certificate, there was also a free meal at Longhorn Steakhouse.

Earlier in the day, of course there was church.  Madison went to KidPak Jr., where this morning we wrapped up our "Call of Duty" series with a Memorial Day theme.  Madison and Mommy left after the first service this morning, that way they could get ready for the big recital.  There is a lot of primping and make-up and so on - beauty takes time, or so they say.  For her part, Madison loved getting all that make-up and glitter put on.  She just sits there, enjoying the process and yet really anxious to see what she looks like when done!

After eating, we didn't do much to be honest.  Madison got a bath, partly to get all that make-up off.  Mommy spent a long time getting food ready for tomorrow's Memorial Day invitation, where the family is coming over to spend some time with us.  Daddy was looking up freebie opportunities for Madison (after she went to bed).  There are plenty of freebie things to do at the library, and the large hardware stores, and of course the free kids movie series.  We're also looking into summer camps, sports events, museums and legos.  Daddy wants to do some nature things too, possibly a few waterfalls and the highest point in Georgia too, Brasstown Bald.  It would be nice to go back to Disney or do something on a bigger scale, but we'll have to see how things play out for now.  Currently, the stress is on Summer Xtreme.  We have one week to go, and lots and lots and lots of work to do preparing it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hulk Smash

Pretty much a work day today.  Madison and Mommy were working, but in a different direction entirely:  they were getting ready for the ballet recital tomorrow.  It was a long and arduous practice, taking up pretty much most of the day.  The irony is that Madison was only involved in one small portion, a segment that lasts less than three minutes or so.  The end result was a lot of using the Leapster and Kindle as she waited with Mommy.  Also, there was some coloring involved.  Here's Madison's latest masterpiece, "Hulk Smash!"

She turned this soldier into the Hulk by coloring him green.  No gamma rays required.  Then she turned to Mommy to ask her how to spell "smash!"  Was this a subconscious way of expressing the decreasing patience she was feeling at practice?  Or maybe it was just her showing that inner geek that Daddy is so proud of right now.  Here's another masterpiece:

This one seems to be a commentary on war itself.  Note the colorful band-aids and the large word "booomm" in the background.  Is that a black mushroom cloud with a lock in its middle, symbolizing a holding back on nuclear warfare until the end of days?  Is that one band-aid shooting up mortar fire - what does that mean?  Are his feet and arms bound with those band-aids, symbolizing how our government prevents our military from completing what is need to be done?  What is the big red circle there, floating off the distance like a giant red sun?  So many questions in this one piece of artwork!  It's so profound and yet simplistic!

Okay, anyway, meanwhile Daddy is getting ready for Summer Xtreme.  We filmed cowboys, vikings, luchadors and more today, and at the end of it all, I was able to race home just in time to say goodnight to Madison.  It was a surprise that I could make it home, so she was delighted to see me, hopping out of bed and racing down the hall to greet me as I marched up the stairs.

Everything is ready for tomorrow, from ballet to the services we have planned at KidPak.  But we've got a long way to go for getting ready for Summer Xtreme.  It'll be a busy, busy, busy week!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Coloring Class

Today may have been the last day of kindergarten, but the classes didn't end!  Madison and Mommy came by the office to help out a bit in preparing for Summer Xtreme, and by coincidence, it was time for a few of us to take a little break some time later.  Why not have a coloring class?  We had the long table already set up in the office, so Daddy printed out some Disney princesses for Madison, and from that point on, it was time to color.  Two students are shown above, hoisting up their creations.

There's always a bittersweet moment about the end of the school year - at least early on.  Excitement about the summer is here, but the realization has sunk in for Madison that she is saying goodbye to her teachers.  She'll miss them a lot, as both have been very good.

She's wondering if she's a first grader now, but Daddy thinks that isn't official until you actually start first grade, which is just a few months from now.  To back that theory up, when we attend Summer Xtreme in just a few weeks, she'll be classified as a kindergartener.  Though there's no movement there in class level, it is a monumental step up in what it is she'll actually be doing.  No longer is she with Discovery, having fun with the kids down the hall doing karate, puppet shows and gymnastics.  Now, she'll be with the bigger kids, going roller skating, swimming, going on water slides, bowling and watching the movie "Epic."  She'll be on the bus ride off campus to the various locations, and involved in the services that Daddy helps put together.

Kindergarten was a great year for Madison.  We've seen vast improvements with her speech, and of course her math and grammar skills are getting better and better each day.  She'll surprise you from time to time as well:  yesterday she named all seven continents.  This is something I don't remember covering in kindergarten.  Her grammar isn't exactly perfect yet - one example is the word "him" used as an adjective.  "He put on him jacket."  She sounds like Calypso, or some Caribbean sort.  We'll work that out over the summer, of course working out the reading as well.

Artistically, she's been amazing.  She's very creative - and of course she can play the piano as well.  Athletically, she's staying active - she enjoys tennis the most right now, although the swimming pool seems to be calling her name.  She's anxious to get out there and get in the pool.  We're ready for that too, actually.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

Isn't this great?  The guy who came in the other day to film a bit with us - the one dressed as a luchador - actually got a luchador mask for his son this week.  The two were having fun with us on Sunday.  I only posted a picture of Madison and the father on Saturday.  Anyway, his son wanted to get Madison a luchador mask as well.  And it's pink!  So Madison tried it on today, and we had a blast wrestling again.  Believe me, you don't want to get in the ring with this pink tornado.  When she's not wearing her mask, she puts it on her fox - along with a pink sparkly cape.  It's a super hero fox, somewhat like Star Fox, but she's a girl.

Speaking of that cape, Madison was using it to hug us today, sort of wrapping us in it as she hugged us.  She called this maneuver the "glitter hug."  She comes up with some great stuff!

Today was a landmark day for Madison, as we went to an Italian Restaurant called Napoli's.  This was a most excellent experience - just what we've been looking for!  It's real Italian pizza, the kind you can get up north at pretty much every pizza joint.  Down here in Georgia, we have all sorts of pizza places from Pizza Hut to Papa Johns to Dominos to Little Caesar's to Cici's Pizza.  But none of that is real pizza.  Real pizza is the kind we grew up with, and real pizza is what Madison got today.  Yes, she loved it.  And we made an inner vow today to never waste our pizza eating on any other place in Hall County again.  We enjoyed Papa John's pizza, of course.  But this - again - is real pizza, and worth the drive over to Oakwood to get it.  Plus, you get the whole experience.  Madison saw murals of Italy on the wall, and heard Frank Sinatra and opera in the background, and the pizza was delivered on a pan that was elevated.  There was hot pepper and cheese in those containers - and checkered table coverings.  The menu above the counter was exactly as it should be, with those ancient marque letters and advertisements for Coke or Pepsi or whatever.  And it's Italian owned, which we sort of missed out on today a bit:  the yelling back and forth.  That's almost a mandatory part of the experience.

Afterwards, we dropped by Home Depot to pick up some stuff to fix the toilet - can you believe Mommy was able to repair it all by herself?  She diagnosed the problem, bought the replacement bits, and got to work and... voila!  We have a working toilet!

Which is kind of important.

We did some shopping today as well, but for the most part, it was a day of typing for Daddy, who has been working on material for Summer Xtreme.  This will sound like a broken record the next week or so - we've got a lot going on right now.

We read some books before bedtime, working towards our library summer reading program - oh yes, we'll have about twenty books read before the program actually even gets started!  Talk about a head start!  It also counts towards a little prize Madison will get at the beginning of first grade, multiple incentives to have kids read over the summer.

Madison brought home a whole lot of artwork today - the art has been coming home all week long in stages.  Daddy has to scan it all and get cracking on presentation, storage and so forth.  Lots of work to do there, but it's certainly worth it.  Some of the art is fantastic, and really shows her growing as a creative.  It helps that she's had great guidance in that area at school - we're really pleased with her art teachers.  And we're pleased with all her teachers, of course.  Today while doing some shopping, we actually ran into one of her teachers at Wal-Mart in Oakwood (across from Napoli's).  Madison was so surprised and happy to see Mrs. Allen - it was an unexpected little visit!  Both hugged each other as we talked about there being just one more day of kindergarten.  Just one more day tomorrow, and kindergarten is over with.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why did the turkey lay eggs in the water?

Because it was cold!

So this has been Madison's idea of a joke lately.  She's learning the idea of telling a joke, and probably needs a little direction here and there.  HOWEVER, for some reason the joke above has a certain charm to it, from an abstract point of view.  Especially in the context of Madison telling the joke - once that's explained, it gets even funnier.

MADISON:  Say, why did the turkey lay eggs in the water?
DADDY:  I don't know, Madison.  Why?
MADISON:  Because it was cold!
BOTH:  Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Today was a work day for Daddy.  Madison and Mommy too - we were all kind of busy doing our own thing, which sort of makes the day get lost usually.  That's Wednesday.  Usually Daddy can come home and spend some time there for lunch or something, but today was a bit more busy than normal.  More dramatic too.  A highlight was a special gift that someone gave Madison - she hasn't seen it yet.  It was given to Daddy at church tonight, so you'll probably see it tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a photo Daddy took last Saturday.  He came around the corner, and there she was on her own in this long hallway, riding a tricycle.  Maybe it reminds you of a certain old movie?

Yes, this is a shining example of the unusual atmosphere here at the office - were surrounded by all kinds of props, toys, and costumes from time to time.  Madison found the tricycle and roamed the church, doing a bit of exploring like the road warrior she is.  She's not ready to join a biker gang just yet, but she did get a little taste of the freedom of the open road that day.  Or, at least the open hallway.

Free Comic Book Day

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2013

Free Comic Day may have been a few weeks ago (that would be the first Saturday each May), but Daddy was on a "business trip" in Atlanta today, trying to get some computer services taken care of.  The end result was an unexpected trip to a comic book store we saw alongside the road.  When we walked in, they had a whole lot of comics leftover from Free Comic Book Day.

Now, for the record, Daddy was a huge comic book nerd "back in the day."  But not anymore, evidently.  How is it that I didn't know about Free Comic Book Day?

Believe me, it's on the calendar now!  Of course, now all I need is a comic book place to go to:  Atlanta is a bit of a drive for something like that.  Seriously though, we were thinking about subscribing to a Disney comic or something - it would be fun for Madison.  And Daddy too, of course!  Today, Daddy picked up these comics and more, and brought them back home for Madison:

Of course, just walking into that comic book store brought memories flooding back in.  Daddy was pretty addicted to this sort of stuff a while back, to the point where I still have a fairly large collection in the basement.

Today was a big day for Madison after school - the last one for piano classes (until next year, at least).  Mommy went ahead and registered Madison for another year, just because she's enjoying it and doing so well with it.  The challenge is to keep her going throughout the summer, which falls with Daddy naturally.  Today's class was more of a celebration - one with a bit of a western theme to it.  There were lasso lessons, and a great cattle drive as well.  There were also music lessons as well, of course, including the Camel Walk.

This is a different song than that one by Southern Culture on the Skids.  It's a simple one where the kids walk to a certain rhythm, and periodically shake their feet about.  This is done in order to get the camel poo off of them, which of course was a hit with the kids.  Shake that camel poo off!

Anyway, it was a bittersweet class, as are all these classes that are wrapping up.  We'll keep piano going throughout the next few months, along with the Summer Reading Program.  Also in the mix are other camps that Mommy is eyeing.  One is at the Quinlan Art Center, where we just were a few days ago.  A swim class might be good too, although we'll hopefully be at our neighborhood pool a lot this summer.

Daddy got home just in time to say goodnight tonight.  We read from her Barbie book before bedtime, and everyone was a little tired.  It was a long day at work, and things promise to be just as long as we move closer and closer to Summer Xtreme.  It's just a few weeks away now, and things are getting intense.  For more "research," we watched more Disney Channel comedies tonight, pretty much exclusively "Pair of Kings" again.

We went to bed a little later tonight - next week we'll get to sleep in all week long.  Sweet sleep!  Nothing better than heading up to bed, and doing a little light reading before falling asleep.  Maybe even a comic book or two...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rock n' Roll!

Here's a screen shot from a video we did this past Wednesday.  Daddy looks a little odd - although that's largely a state of being for him around KidPak.  He's shouting "Rock n' roll!"  This is something we used to randomly shout as we peeled away from the drive-thru of various fast food restaurants.  Why did we do this?  I'm not sure.

Today was a decent day filled with piano practice and tennis.  Yes, we managed to head down to the tennis courts (now armed with a code to actually get into the tennis courts).  Madison hit three balls in a row, right back at Daddy over the net.  She's getting better and better at practice, and she actually really enjoys going out to do it too!  I think Nana and Ba-Ba will be impressed when they return.

The story of the day, unfortunately, was in Oklahoma.  It was a huge tornado, two miles wide.  And there were schools with children involved.  It was upsetting news, one that captured our full attention for quite some time.  We were hoping and praying for so many - and still are.

Just before bed, we prayed for those in Oklahoma, and we read a few more of our library books towards the summer program.  Then it was time for some more research television:  writing skits for this Summer Xtreme, we've been looking for some jokes and themes that have an "island" theme.  Our destination was the island of Kinkow, which is home to a "Pair of Kings."  We've sort of been on a marathon ever since, writing down corny jokes and premises.  It's actually a pretty fun show, at least for the first season.  The funny thing about television these days is that you can watch an entire season over the course of a week.  Kids these days have no idea about the serial nature of television:  it used to be when the announcer was saying "Join us next time - same Bat time, same Bat channel," that meant we had to wait a while to find out what happens next.  The biggest example of this was Han Solo.  My generation had to wait THREE YEARS to find out what happened to Han Solo.  Could you imagine that happening now?  But now with an entire season or series at your fingertips, the only question mark might be with the season finale.  Yet even then you might have season two nearby, so there's no worry.

So, what will we write about next?  Join us next time and find out!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Here comes the bride!  Okay, so not quite yet.  Actually - and this is a hopeful prayer - not for a really, really, really, really long time!  For some reason, Madison has been interested in the whole "bride" concept, including the veil and the bouquet and the slow march up the aisle.  She greeted Daddy when he got home, veil down and sort of dragging me to the kitchen where she asked me to lift her veil.  And then she kissed me.  Awwww!

It was one of those ridiculously loud and stormy nights.  "Wow, what a good night's rest," said nobody in North Georgia last night, ever.  It started around 1:00 am and continued until the sun rose, loud strikes of lightning and thunder, illuminating the sky rapid fire as if we were being assaulted with some sort of bombing run.

One source said seven inches of rain last night.  And that was devastating, considering our already saturated water table.  The reason for mentioning "devastated" is Flowery Branch, which has large portions currently actually under water.  McEver Road - a main road - is closed because it is submerged, and other roads are actually washed away.

Here's one road that we travel down all the time - although not this week, apparently.  We picture flooding elsewhere, but never really so much around here.  The lake is astoundingly full, of course.  Looks nearly menacing, actually.

A few miles north of this picture above is our church, which was above the water level this morning.  However, the power was off.  It was off for much of the peninsula, but this morning when folks were showing up, the fire marshal had instructions to have us all out - including the thousands of people that attend on a Sunday morning.  Most never made it inside.  Daddy was one of the guys outside under an umbrella informing people to wait in the parking lot for a sign that the power came back on, which people mostly did.  The evidence of this was when the power did come back on, a very big number of people marched confidently back into the building.  It was an interesting morning to say the least - the choir was outside under a covering, singing and keeping spirits up as the power crew was apparently getting things going.

As you might suspect, we were all very tired getting home.  The long day yesterday combined with the all-night firework show made for a sleepy afternoon.  We did have plans that involved movement, but for the most part, we were zonked.  Star Wars Weekends have started down at Disney, so Madison, Daddy and Mommy actually watched the Hyperspace Hoopla on our television.  And the Star Wars parade.  Both were pretty fun - made us wish we were down there, actually.  We read some books, and played a few games, and that was pretty much it for the day at the end.  It was a long one, but a pretty memorable one!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Viva Luchador!

Don't you want a taste of the glory?  See what it tastes like?  Madison donned a Nacho Libre Luchador mask to become the Pequeño Tornado!  

But uh-oh!  It appears as if she's about to be on the receiving end of a signature move by The Loco Pollo!  No one wants an Atomic Drop Blast!

But it appears as if she's struggled free, and brought her opponent down to his knees!  Now he's in a sleeper hold, and trust Daddy on this one:  that's no place you want to be!

This was a welcome break today from a really, really long day at work.  Lots of filming and working towards our upcoming Summer Xtreme today, where Mommy and Madison made a long visit to straighten up costumes and props, and help organize some disaster areas formerly known as "closets."

Madison got to play and hang out with a lot of her friends, scooting around on a scooter and even having a little play time with a rooster.  Yes, we had one of those at KidPak too.  In fact, we also had a Viking in the playroom (Madison was filmed throwing a ball at said Viking), a pirate, a gladiator, a superhero, a cowboy, a magician, belching siblings, sock puppets and interpretive dancers.  Yeah, it was that kind of day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Field Day

We had a field day today!  Daddy surprised Madison by showing up this morning, where things started early enough - at 8:00, the youngest kids were out the door and already having fun.  Take a look at that photo above:  Madison knocked the cups down with her first throw!

There were lots of activities outside, and all the kids were having a blast.  One of Daddy's favorites was always the parachute - it looked fun here too.  Kids bounced the balls around, and of course they made the tent where they lifted the parachute upwards and then brought it down quickly, sitting down on the inside.

There were large inflatables there too, something Madison is somewhat of an expert on.  Just look at those dirty socks!  But it wasn't just dirt - there was a lot of wet too:

This was a game called "Duck, duck, splash!"  You can see here that Madison was "it," and she had just squeezed a lot of water on that poor girl in pink - who is now chasing her around.  All the kids got pretty wet on that one.  Here's a game below that Madison enjoyed, scooting around with her basketball and getting ready for a dunk.

But there was time to actually dribble a basketball too, as shown below.  Check out her form here in this photo.  It's like she's ready to make a fast break!

It was a fun morning for all the kids, and adults too!  Only one more week left of kindergarten, and today was a great day to celebrate.  The last week of school is always one of the most fun, and today was certainly a highlight.  Check out this one last photo, one of Madison going across the monkey bars - she certainly had herself an athletic day!

Later on today, Daddy went to the airport.  He went alone, considering that a lot of the trip could have been a big hassle.  Traffic was miserable, but it wasn't so much of a hassle as a get-to-the-airport-and-wait.  Daddy got there early enough so there wasn't any stress - and Nana and Ye-Ye's plane arrived just on time.  They had a great vacation in Ireland, but were excited to be home again.

Madison stayed up, so when Daddy got home, she was still awake... so she could then go to bed. Actually, we all pretty much went to bed.  Exhausting day - but a great one!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

National Sea Monkey Day, 2013

STEP ONE:  Purify the water.  Madison added the packet yesterday, and began thinking up names for our new pets:  Cupcake, Rose, Watermelon, Bubbles, Winter, Nicolas, Madison, Rosalinda, David and Hernando.
STEP TWO:  Add the eggs.  That was today, National Sea Monkey Day.  In just five days, we'll have some new friends in the house! 

STEP THREE:  Stir gently.  Madison has been watching videos of sea monkeys online with Mommy, and is pretty excited a bout having these little guys in the house!

We've tried sea monkeys before twice now - one time was very successful, but that was before Madison.  The last time we tried it out, something was amiss.  We didn't have that many hatch, and they didn't stick around too long.  Undaunted, we're trying again - why?  Because today is National Sea Monkey Day.  Madison is excited about these new pets, as she was quite anxious to put the eggs into aquarium.  And what an aquarium it is!  If you look closely, you can see the luxuriant pink castle these sea monkeys will get to live in.  It'll be like a fairy tale come true for these guys, especially after waiting all this time, confined inside that small packet #2.  

Today we went for a small trip after school to go get some more red mulch for the front yard, but when we got home, Madison was in the mood for some puzzles.  She did two, to be precise, sitting comfortably at the kitchen table, putting her mind to work.  Needless to say, Mommy and Daddy love this kind of activity.  First of all, it doesn't involve a video screen.  Secondly, it's rather quiet!

Mommy made delicious chicken pot pie for dinner, and afterwards, we spent quite a bit of time reading some of those books from the library.  We did a lot of children's books, such as Angelina Ballerina stories or a story called "Pinkalicious," which featured a girls' soccer team that dressed up in pink and used a pink soccer ball.  The moral of the story is that girls who dress in black are generally the villains.  Unless you're Black Widow.  Then you're cool.

We also read from a Disney "graphic novel."  That's code for "comic book."  It was a collection of comic books put together to make a larger story, actually.  These I remember from my childhood, and I remember them as being rather good.  This one was no exception.  It featured Micky and Minnie, but Daddy largely remembers the ones growing up as adventures with Scrooge McDuck.  It was noted a few years ago that the movie "Inception" was probably based on a Scrooge McDuck comic (look those two terms up for further reference), which is to say that these comics were not strictly for smaller kids (like the Mickey Mouse Club).  It's not that the content was too mature - it's just that things were a little more complex.  Which is where Daddy found himself tonight, as he attempted to read some comics to Madison tonight.  How surprising that Daddy had to paraphrase a few things in order to communicate the whole story to her.  Still, she enjoyed it immensely, as did Daddy.

Speaking of which, tonight we popped in a DVD that was found recently:  we were at Goodwill, and found in great condition a copy of the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies.  With Madison (as she drank her evening milk), we watched a bit of that, and are still completely amazed.  Still the best ever, and will likely hold that title for many Olympics to come.

We've got a busy day tomorrow, as we start out with a field day for Madison.  Also on the menu:  lots of work for Daddy, and as a bonus, a trip to Hartsfield to pick up Ye-Ye and Nana.  It'll be crammed with activity, and as we get closer and closer to Summer Xtreme, things are only going to pick up speed.  Madison will have a great time, but Daddy and Mommy will be in serious need of a rest afterwards!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

National Chocolate Chip Day

Today was National Chocolate Chip Day, and therefore we had to have chocolate chips.  'Twas a happy chore though!  Daddy raced home to spend a tiny amount of time with the family before heading back to work again, and he was certainly glad he did.  First of all, there was the family.  Secondly, there were the chocolate chip cookies that Mommy was pulling fresh out of the oven.  Soft and warm, these cookies are so incredibly good - you have to have milk with them.  Or something like milk.  Daddy's still trying to figure that out, as he's becoming a bit intolerant of milk.  The funny thing is that Madison doesn't drink it either - each night she drinks a soy milk called "Silk."  It's got extra vanilla flavoring and is really good.  We're not sure when we'll put the bottle up, but she enjoys it and asks for it each night.  And it's really sweet, so who wouldn't ask for it each night?  It's like dessert in a bottle!

Daddy spent much of the day at the office, digging in for a long next few weeks.  Madison and Mommy spent some time together, obviously at home.  There isn't much in the way of homework left to do, although Madison is still writing sentences and improving her penmanship.  She's also drawing still, and cutting out different characters.  And puzzles are exciting her again - which is fun.

She still does that thing in the morning when Daddy makes his way down the stairs.  She tromps to her hiding place just as Daddy reaches the bottom of the stairs (it's nearly impossible for eland Daddy too sneak down stairs).  Then Daddy has to play the game, "Where is Madison?"  Even though it's always the same exact spot each morning.

And then there's the morning made-up story on the way to school.  It never ends.  It has been the never-ending story, one that started out with a camping/birthday trip for DC characters and just went off into a squillion different directions day after day after day.  It is a completely epic tale that never quite gets finished, despite Daddy's best efforts.  It's been noted here before, but now I know how Homer wrote such a long epic tale:  he was probably telling his kids a story that he intended to close up on, and his kids were begging for him to tell more the next day.  And so on and so on.  Next thing you know, there's this "Ilead" thing he's got all mapped out.

Daddy's "Ilead"is by no means as complicated.  Today's installment involved Lego Bane challenging Lego Batman to an epic battle.  Batman is a little nervous.  But then when he confronts Bane, he discovers that Bane simply wants to play a board game with him.  So the two play Candyland, and in fact are joined by the Green Lantern and Batgirl.  Who wins the competition?  You'll have to tune in the next day - same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tennis Princess

This above is just one of Madison's self-portraits, one she actually did in her art classes at school.  She's also done another very unusual self-portrait - that's pretty cool!

She cut out individual pieces:  arms, legs, the torso and head.  She taped those together after coloring and designing each one.  The end result was a large version of Madison that spreads out across the table, something she decided to do on her own.  We didn't ask her to do it, nor did her teacher:  she just got in her mind to cut out these pieces and assemble it on her own.

Note the picture at the top - she's got a tennis racket in her hand.  And of course, there's a tiara on her head.  She's a tennis princess.  That just might be a cat in the background, probably covered with a brown camouflage so it can sneak up on people!

Today was a great day, and another busy one of course.  Madison had piano class, which is in the wind-down as there are only two classes left and we just had our recital.  Evidence of this was Mrs. Pam's singing dog, which she brought in to class today.  She played piano and did a few scales, and so did the dog!  The kids were howling with laughter at the singing dog - it was a big hit.

Afterwards was ballet, which is the opposite of winding down.  It's gearing up, as all the kids are getting ready for a recital at the end of the month.  Mommy got to see a bit of that today, although Daddy had some work to do at home.

When everyone was home, there was the smell of the crock pot.  This is one of life's simple pleasures, isn't it?  Mommy had some chicken in there, with peas, potatoes and a bit of soup.  It was so good over a bed of noodles.  Tuesdays are ideal for the crock pot, aren't they?  It's so busy, so Mommy leaves everything to cook throughout the day, and it all works out great.

We went back to Kinect Disneyland afterwards, which is such a big game for Madison.  We love the Kinect because it makes you move around whereas other videos games are a bit more lethargic.  Not that those aren't useful when you're worn out.  But the Kinect stuff is great for exercise.

There have been a bunch of scandals in government this week - at least three big ones.  For example, troubling evidence of the IRS harassing Tea Party members.  How exactly is this related to the blog, you ask?  The tie-in:  remember last year when we went through a hassle to get our refund?  Our blog here is called "Tea with Mrs. Nebitt."

Perhaps there was some confusion about the nature of the site.  Okay, probably not!  Call us naive, but I always thought the IRS was a non-political agency - kind of like the Post Office.  Only... the IRS don't deliver stuff:  they take it away.  But it's always been one of those things where you roll your eyes and pay your dues.  Everyone hates it, but it's our duty to pay taxes, and submit to authority, using the concept of democracy to change things that aren't working out.  Yet this recent news - along with the other events - makes this seemingly non-political agency seem a bit more sinister.  Can you imagine if this news broke before taxes were due?  People will have a year to maybe forget about this story, but a lot of us from this point on have had our eyes opened.  In short, this week's news is not our cup of tea.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Varsity

Yes, another historic first:  a trip to The Varsity.  The other day Daddy was driving by a nearby location, and realized that Madison hasn't actually experienced "The Varsity."  This is one of those places you have to eat at if you want to say you're from Georgia.  Afterwards, you complain about the grease and joke about how the food there is probably not good for you, and yet we all wind up going there a few times - particularly during our college years.  This is because there's a location close by UGA and one near Georgia Tech.  Now there's one about fifteen minutes from North Georgia College - which is now the University of North Georgia (UNG).

As a side note, whoever thought up this official title is asking for it, plain and simple.  All I have to do is say something like "The Department of the University of North Georgia" and you've got DUNG.

Anyway, we had hot dogs and onion rings and french fries.  And that orange drink that I completely forgot about.  Madison has never had it before, but it was one of those delightful little moments where the very nice cashier let her sample it, and she let out a huge, "Yummy!"

This was probably because of the sugar ratio in this orange-colored drink.  There was quite a bit in there.

It was a pleasant visit, one made even nicer by an extremely friendly staff.  Our visit to the restaurant coincided with our trip to Wal-Mart to get some mulch, where we discovered we can fit precisely ten bags in our trunk.  We spent a lot of time weeding and cleaning out the leaves and so forth from certain areas of our front yard, and then laying down some mulch.

"Mrs. Mulch?"

Madison was quite helpful pulling weeds, using her tiny pink rake, and smoothing out the mulch that Daddy dumped out around the tree trunks.  And the weather was perfect outside, crisp and cool like a fall day.  In fact, the temperature this morning was FORTY-TWO degrees outside when we dropped Madison off for school.

Earlier, Nana and Ye-Ye called from Ireland to tell us how they were doing - which was good, we're happy to say.  Driving has been an extreme challenge though.  Can't imagine learning to drive on the other side of the road, and then adapting to all the one-lane roads, and roaming cattle and sheep.  Still, they are having an adventure, and we're certainly glad to hear it, and hear they are safe.  We'll be picking them up on Friday from the airport - I might be bringing Madison with me on Friday.

After mulching outside, it was time to head inside for some relaxing.  Or so we thought!  Madison wanted to play a Kinect game - we returned to Disneyland for a bit, and had the greatest time.  We can't really go to Disneyland right now, so this is the next best thing.

We read from her Barbie book before bed, and sleep came quickly.  It won't be long before we all can sleep in every day - only two more weeks of school.  It's a bittersweet moment watching the last of her kindergarten year wind down, but we're having a great time each and every day with Madison.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Madison's name literally means "child of a warrior."  We know who the warrior parent is, of course:  it's Mommy.  She dreamed and prayed, and then she fought.  And then she prayed and fought some more.  When we struggled through the broken dreams of having a child, she never gave up, putting her hope in adoption.  When that road became tough, she kept the faith and kept her eyes forward.  And when the diagnosis of cancer tried to destroy it all, she showed us all who the real warrior was.

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy.  This is our fourth Mother's Day with Madison, each one more special. Since God gave us the gift of a daughter, you've shown us what you've trained your whole life to become:  a godly mother, armed with wisdom and love - and what all parents strive to be.

She puts on strength and honor as if they were her clothes.
    She can laugh at the days that are coming.
26 She speaks wisely.
    She teaches faithfully.
27 She watches over family matters.
    She is busy all the time.
28 Her children stand up and call her blessed.
    Her husband also rises up, and he praises her.
29 He says, “Many women do noble things.
    But you are better than all the others.”
30 Charm can fool you. Beauty fades.
But a woman who has respect for the Lord should be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned.
Let everything she has done bring praise to her 

Proverbs 31: 25-31 NIrV

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Western Recital

We had a big day today, filled with lots of activity and fun!  The picture above was Mommy's idea, a trip to Quinlan Arts Center here in Gainesville.  They had all kinds of fun activities for the family to do together, including a bit of pottery, which you can see clearly above.  We made these owl necklaces, step by step, and Madison was certainly very much into it!

We toured the arts center, stopping at various places to look at paintings and sculptures, and even watch people making things.  There was one room in particular that had spinning wheels, where Madison and Mommy were watching seamstresses work to create different forms of art from fabric.  Also, there was a guy there who was making balloon creations - Madison got a rose.

Earlier in the day we had some fun at home reading more books from the library, and even spending a bit of time watching "The Fox and the Hound Dog 2."  Daddy had to work after that, but not for long.  It was an on-and-off-again sort of day there at the office.

The reason for leaving work again:  Madison's big recital!

Okay - big day today with pottery, music recitals, books, foxes, hound dogs, coronations for princesses and more.  Will update in a bit - and backtrack to Tuesday as well!

Here she is, playing "Monkey Sounds" for the audience.  We posted this picture above on a social networking site, and Mrs. Pam saw it and commented:  "She nailed it!"

That she did!  She then went on to sing her solo, a song called "Silly Old Clown."  Just look at these costumes, and all the elaborate decorations around her.  It was very well done - a lot of effort was put into getting everything looking just right.  And as you can see below, every child was dressed up for a rip-roarin' Western Roundup!

This is just one of the ensemble pieces, where the kids were singing "Home on the Range" and "Rawhide."  You can see Butterscotch in the picture here, a horse donated to us by Black Bart last Saturday.  Here below is a photo from another ensemble piece, where kids are playing different instruments for "Turkey and the Straw."

It was a great recital, one where we were very proud of Madison.  She practiced quite a lot for this, and it showed at the end!  To repeat her teacher's words:  "she nailed it!"

Daddy had to go back to work again after that, but he did so with a happy heart.  It was a great day.  He did get home just in time before Madison went to bed.  There was a princess coronation today at Disney, where one more princess was officially added to the court.

Yes - it was Merida.  And it is in fact the same Merida we met last October, which is kind of cool.  We watched a re-broadcast of her coronation together before bedtime together, a trip to Disney World for about ten minutes...

Madison is such a Merida fan.  In fact, that's the theme of the birthday coming up.  There's lots to do before then.  In fact, tonight, it's time for bed.  But we had a great day filled with lots of fun and activity.  Time to go to bed dreaming of bulls and bulls eyes.