Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gotcha Day - Five Years Later

Five years ago, our lives were changed forever - in one of the best ways possible - when we met Madison for the first time. Happy Gotcha Day!  

A lot has happened in the last five years, four of those years chronicled here on this site.  In fact, July 16th is the four-year anniversary of this blog itself.  It's been fantastic, hasn't it?  She's grown so much, so smart and beautiful now.  This morning, we went to church together, and everyone was quick to compliment her - and us - on such a special occasion.

It was a great service today, one dedicated to the story of the Prophetess Anna.  We continued with the Tribes series, with a closer look at the Tribe of Asher.

After church, we headed home and did a bit of gardening outside for a bit, adding the last of our mulch to certain areas.  We have a bit more mulching to do, but Madison was quite helpful with the remaining bags of the stuff - we called her "Mrs. Mulch."

In between, we went back to the Pixar Park, this time using the Kinect to go on an adventure with "The Incredibles."  With the Kinect and Madison, there's an occasional frustrating moment or two, but overall, the experience is awesome.  It's also pretty active.  We got the Kinect thinking it would be great for Madison to be up and active while playing video games.  But she wants Daddy playing with her all the time too!  It's fun, but this game system can wear you out!

We cleaned up inside a bit too, because guess who was coming today?  Ba-Ba and Nana arrived fairly late, having spent quite a bit of time on the road today.  It was a long drive for them, as they had to go through quite a bit of rain, and a lot of traffic too.  But they arrived safely, and we were quite glad to see them.  We sat and talked for a bit, and as it grew dark, we noticed an unusually large amount of something outside:

Lightning bugs!  This one in this picture is remarkable - we had the tripod set up, and this lightning bug stayed still for the camera for the prolonged exposure.  Pretty nifty!

Madison and Daddy spent a lot of time running around catching lightning bugs.  Mommy gave us a jar, and the two of us jumped and ran all over the front yard, trying to catch these guys.  Of course, we released them unharmed.  There were so many lightning bugs all over the yard - it was pretty awesome.

And since we were out at night time, we thought we'd do the sparkler thing too.  The Fourth of July is coming up soon, and we've had these sparklers waiting for a nice occasion - why not tonight?  Madison and Daddy once again ran around the front yard, this time with sparklers.  We took a few long exposure shots of ourselves, but didn't spend too long with the sparklers tonight - we'll do that again next time.  Still, here's an interesting shot of Madison - you can see her to the right.

It was late, and everyone was tired from a full day.  It was a great one!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Today's topic is not about anything related to weaponry, but rather the Warhead candies that first became really popular sometime in the nineties, where we would all challenge each other with this uber-sour candy.  Seriously, you place these on your tongue and your mouth goes ballistic.  The sourness digs deep into your jaw, and challenges you:  will you spit it out, or stay defiant in the face of this sour onslaught?  

Over the years, the candy has backed off on popularity a bit.  Other sour brands are out there, none anywhere near as sour.  Madison has always liked these lesser sour candies, and Daddy has always pondered if she had what it takes to handle a real Warhead candy.  So with a camera taking a video, all set up and ready to go, Madison accepted the challenge.  Daddy asked if all systems were go, and she said she was ready:  She popped a black cherry Warhead in her mouth!

This picture above was about as bad as it got, and it wasn't that bad at all.  Even this facial expression didn't last that long.  She just sat there smiling, and was not at all trying to hide any discomfort.  She just sort of analyzed the taste a bit, especially after Daddy told her she could spit it out if it was too sour.  Daddy was a bit worried, actually, and had a little plastic cup ready.  Yet she sat there with it in her mouth, just fine with it all, actually enjoying it.

So that's when Daddy put one in his mouth, just to see if it was really a super-sour warhead, or if they were somehow defective or something.  And Daddy's mouth exploded!  As advertised, the Warhead nuked Daddy's mouth with a sourpocalypse, sending shockwaves all over his jaw muscles!

Today was a work day at the office, one where Mommy worked on props and costumes and one where Daddy finished up the details for a good day tomorrow.  And one where Madison had Warheads.

She did more than that, of course.  The reading program continues, and I believe we checked out enough books at the library to actually finish her summer reading.  Although, no doubt she'll continue:  she's been reading a lot lately.  Daddy has been reading too - Mommy got a few books for Daddy, and he's been reading in bed before going to sleep each night.

Beyond that, it wasn't much of a day to write about:  we did a lot of cleaning around the house, and a lot of prep for tomorrow.  Of course, tomorrow is a big day for a few reasons.  But rather than explain it now, we'll let you figure that one out as you read tomorrow's entry.  Try and guess before you get there!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cruella de Spud

We returned to the Potato Head empire today, amassing a Potato Head Empire with the usual suspects: Tony Starch, Darth Tater, Spuda Fett, the Spud Trooper, Chipbacca, and Artoo Potato.  Add to this the Taters of the Lost Ark hero, and a whole assortment of Disney accessories we've collected over the years at Disney World - we actually have every single one available at the parks right now.  It fills up this huge tub that Daddy pulled out of the closet this morning.  Madison and Daddy immediately set to work creating different Potato Heads.  Madison made a few girls of her own, including a pirate Angelica.  Daddy made one we'll call Cruella de Spud.  

We made a Mad Hatter and a March Hare, and one from the Incredibles.  There's a Statue of Liberty Potato Head as well, perfectly acceptable as a decoration for the upcoming Independence Day Holiday.  Speaking of which, we're pretty excited here that Independence Day falls on the Fourth of July this year. 

Yes, that was a joke.  And a bad one, admittedly.

Moving on:  today was work, work, work.  Mommy came in the office and did some work as well.  As it was the big day for the Forward Conference, there was some hustle involved with getting last-minute props of an obscure nature, and bringing them down to the Gwinnett Arena.  In today's case, it was a life-sized stuffed rooster with authentic feathers, and a few coats of many colors.  And a white robe too.  Each year, there's a scramble for different items at the last minute, but this year was a little easier than usual.  Sometimes it is this mad, desperate scavenger hunt.  But we've always found the items necessary for the illustrated sermon, and tonight was no different.  By all accounts, it was a tremendous success.

Not that we were there.  Of course, the event means a late night in Atlanta, and we were all ready to hit the sack early, the same time Madison did.  So we got home early evening and though tired, we popped in another movie from the Disney archive, also picked up from the library:  "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."  Watch a quick movie and go to bed, right?

Wrong.  First of all, this movie is LONG.  It's over two hours long!  It takes a while to get to the good stuff, that is, the parts with the Island of Naboomboo, and the army of soldiers driving away the Nazis.  

Random thought:  Madison's first exposure to Nazis are from Lego Indiana Jones, and those wacky guys in "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

ANYWAY, we all enjoyed the movie, but did not go to bed anywhere near as early as we hoped. As mentioned earlier, it's a LONG one!  Still, it was great seeing David Tomlinson bob along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea, and when all was said and done (and the Nazis were all gone), it was time for each of us to say goodnight.  There are no bedknobs on Madison's bed, so fortunately, she wasn't going anywhere...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Admiral Madison

So we were discussing what to do for dinner tonight, when the thought occurred to us:  how about Japanese?  And so it came to pass that Madison found yet another one of those pictures where you can insert your head, and by coincidence, Daddy has his camera nearby.  I intended on taking pictures inside, but it was sort of awkward while a guy was cooking up food and other patrons were there as well.  So, we rested the camera a bit, and will have to rely on our fond memories of a fun night at the Kani House.  Madison loved it.  She enjoyed the soup and rice and chicken, and of course the ice cream.  But what she enjoyed most was the show - the cook was very good, and very entertaining.  Of course, he made the obligatory volcano of onion slices, complete with flames shooting out the top.  When that was over, the volcano was converted to a train that put out steam as it choo-chooed across the cooking surface.  This was Madison's favorite part, she said.  Anyway, it was a fun night.  Believe it or not, it has been three years since we've been to a hibachi restaurant.  Madison was actually three years old then (only a few months away from being four).  She enjoyed it back then too - actually, we all did.

Today was a fun day overall.  Daddy and Mommy kept things busy for a time - Mommy was busy doing yard work outside, while Daddy took Madison on a few errands in town.  The post office was a success, as was the bank stop.  Although the bank was out of lollipops.  This was a scary situation, as you can imagine there possibly being a run on the bank.  Imagine all the patrons rushing to the bank demanding their lollipops!  It would be a scene just like in "It's a Wonderful Life," where the bank owner himself would probably have to come out and carefully distribute dum-dums to demanding and worried customers.

Madison was a little disappointed, but we both knew there would certainly be free candy at the printer's.  Daddy had a chore to do there for church, and first of all, there was free candy there.  Madison had a little tiny bit of it.  Secondly, and much cooler, she got a free tour of the area where the printing presses were.  She saw a couple of the printers in action, led around by a guide and greeted by several very friendly employees.  One even gave her a new pad of paper to draw on.  This pad would be used before the day was over!

As we walked out of the printing place with our order, Daddy saw some of the new memorials across the street.  With the Fourth of July just next week, he led Madison over to the small park where we looked at the monuments there.

Never forget that they gave all.  This was a difficult concept to go over with Madison, but she clearly understood it - many men gave up everything to fight and protect us, so that we could live safe and happy in our country.  We got to the Vietnam memorial, and looked over the names on the wall.  It's interesting because Madison lived close to Vietnam - was it possible she has any ancestors in that direction?

After that, we had fun in the car wash.  The car wash is always fun for Madison.  It's fun for Daddy too - we turn up the music, look through the sunroof and watch all the soap, water sprays, and giant brushes attack the car as we go through.  We got home just in time for lunch - and then we were off again, this time to the library, where we picked up a whole lot more books.  We also got some movies for Madison - and one for Daddy that we'd watch later on.

When we got home, there was time for her daily reading program on the school's website.  Madison is actually ranked as ADMIRAL.  Rather than give kids number rankings or letter ones, they're going for the whole military rank thing - specifically the Navy.  Because NAVY and reading programs just go hand-in-hand.  Obviously, she's doing really well on the program to have a rank as admiral.  It's not quite Grand Admiral, but it's easily the best in her class.

This ranking puts her up there with other famous admirals:  Admiral Ackbar, Admiral Norrington, Admiral Motti, Admiral Adama and of course Admiral Kirk.

We had a little time for garden work after that.  Madison has her little pink rake and garden gloves, and the three of us were straightening things out a bit in the front yard, weeding and so forth.  Can you believe there is actually poison ivy in the front yard?  Where did this come from?  We started dealing with it a bit, and made sure everyone bathed when we got inside.  That's something none of us want to mess with!

And that's where the topic of dinner came around, which you already know about.  We had worked up a good appetite, and we really needed that good appetite because there was a lot of good food at the Kani House.  We really enjoyed it!

Getting home, we watched the beautiful sunset - storms are rolling in around us, although we haven't gotten any of the rain in a few days.  Together, we watched another early era Disney movie that Daddy hasn't seen.  Actually, none of us had seen this one:  it's called "Melody Time."  There are a few movies Disney released around World War II, some just collections of animated shorts.  This one, like "Make Mine Music" from the other night, had a series of cartoon shorts.  Daddy never knew where these were originally from, but this movie contained "Johnny Appleseed" and "Pecos Bill."  Also, it featured a leftover bit from "The Three Caballeros."  It was better than "Make Mine Music" overall - the three of us enjoyed watching it.  It's interesting that these movies count towards the official motion picture releases of Disney, and yet they are not quite as promoted as others.  Next on this list is "Fun and Fancy Free" another one we've seen bits of, but never sat through entirely.  It's neat seeing these from a historical perspective, plus recognizing the artists involved, plus just enjoying the stories.

We all went to bed tonight, quite tired from a pretty full day.  Those are Madison's words:  "That was a full day!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pajama Night!

Tonight the kindergartners had a pajama party!  Madison showed up in her pjs, and got some popcorn, prayer, and purpose.  You can see her in the picture above, towards the back of the group of children.  It was a shortened service tonight, but a fun one for the younger kids, who had somewhat of a party in their room.  You can see Mrs. Kate, the guest speaker, delivering a word to the children about how God made them.  Each one was made with purpose, and to that effect, each one received a sign to hang around their necks, each sign saying phrases like "Made to Worship," "Made to Share God's Love with Others" and "Made to Help Others."  Madison enjoyed service tonight, and enjoyed the practice Daddy attended afterwards:  five of us guys are going to be singing the National Anthem on Sunday morning, and maybe Wednesday too.  We were practicing the different harmony parts, each one pretty different.  Madison was listening to each one, and sort of getting into the singing as well.  Once home, Daddy and Mommy were still singing it - she'll have the National Anthem down in no time.  Of course, it might take time to explain "ramparts gallantly streaming."  But she'll certainly recognize the tune!

Everyone is getting ready for the big Forward Conference at church today, including Mommy, who made two robes for an illustrated sermon - they are each a coat of many colors, although one is intentionally distressed to show rips and tears, and the blood of an animal.  She did a great job on these, although presently we're not 100% if this is the message Pastor will be speaking Friday night.  Still, this will be something he speaks further down the road, so it isn't all for nothing.  Meanwhile, everyone else is scrambling, moving furniture and props and bringing it all down to the Gwinnett Arena, where this conference is held each year.  It wasn't too long ago that this was held in Free Chapel, and simply got too big to keep there.  We have thousands of kids show up, and of course someday Madison will be there.  I'll wait patiently for that era!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Go Herbie Go!

Work day for Daddy and Mommy, who was busy putting together another coat of many colors for a future message by our Pastor - perhaps, for the Forward Conference this year.  Daddy is nowhere near as involved - yet.  Still, there is much to do with the children's ministry, which is of course where he spent his time preparing for future services.  Still, the atmosphere is all about our big conference coming up this weekend where lots and lots and lots of teens fill up the Gwinnett Arena.  It's a pretty big deal.

Daddy came home a little later, but we still had time for some light reading - only twenty-nine books left to read and Madison has met her goal!  She started out with seventy-five, but this number has been steadily decreasing as time has gone by.  Daddy will read a book, and then she'll read a book.  We take turns.  One of tonight's books, "Pajama Party," was somewhat prophetic.  Daddy picked it up not knowing that tomorrow is Pajama Night for the kindergartners at church.  We'll take pictures, I'm sure.

After dinner, we had barely enough time for a movie, and Daddy wanted to watch one of his favorite Herbie movies.  This was the last one, "Herbie:  Fully Loaded."  This is a great Herbie movie, one that Madison enjoyed a whole lot.  Actually, we all did.  Someday Daddy might get a 1963 Volkswagon Bug, and when he does, he'll change it into a Herbie.  Give me that over a sports car any day!

Madison's day was more than television, of course.  There was time spent on the internet with Raz kids, where she is learning to read more and more.  She's also learning a lot of basic math skills.  In first grade, it's our understanding that kids have to learn to count to 120 by the end of the year.  Madison can already count to 200.  She did it in the car on the way home yesterday.  It started out funny, and she kept going, counting higher and higher.  No doubt, she could have kept going if not for the fact that we got to 200 just as we were pulling into our neighborhood.

Speaking of our neighborhood, we still wait for our Home Owner's Association to send us a pool card. It's been weeks.  Hopefully our experiences with the Home Owner's Association aren't common, because this one seems rather pathetic.

Madison is creating some interesting art lately - getting more and more skilled.  It is great seeing her improve daily with new techniques and ideas.  Some of her ideas are surprising - remember that cut-out representation of herself that she did a few weeks ago?

Here's another self-portrait that she did recently.  She did it rather quickly, but you can see how she's learning about proportions, colors and so forth.  And again, she did this one pretty fast, just before bedtime.  Her crosses that she's done recently are really interesting.  She's actually cut each one out, two cross beams that intersect at perfect right angles to create a cross shape.  Then she takes a heart that she's cut out, and places it at the center where the beams meet.  Daddy didn't tell her to do this, nor did Mommy - she just came up with it on her own.  She's made a series of these, and plans on handing them out to people at church tomorrow.  Daddy and Mommy have their own versions as well.

Anyway, she's got a very creative side to her as well.  It's neat to see all these aspects of her personality taking shape - along with her wicked sense of humor.  She's such a funny little girl.  We're so blessed and highly favored!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monsters Bowling

At noon, we took our little Boo to her first University - "Monsters University."  We waited until Monday to see the movie, and still the theater was pretty crowded.  There were lots of kids there at noon, but we still managed to find a few seats in our traditional spot in the back row.  The movie was good, although not as good as the original.  Still, there was much to appreciate, including the happy return of Mike and Sully.  This morning before actually heading off to see the movie, Daddy plugged in the soundtrack as Madison and Daddy spent some time drawing from our "How to Draw Disney Characters" book.  Of the two, Madison chose Sully, so we spent about an hour working on our drawings before heading off to the theater.

Yes, Madison enjoyed the movie.  Mommy got her a Mike Wazowski Pez Dispenser, and yes, believe it or not, I spelled that right before I looked it up.  Anyway, he was loaded with Pez candy.  Mommy is a smuggler unlike any other:  she smuggled in all sorts of candy for us to munch on in the back row, along with our huge tub of popcorn, of course.  Another thing about the movie:  we waited for the post-credits sequence.  With Pixar lately, there's been something after the credits.  Out of the entire theater, we were the only ones to wait and see it.  Madison is getting used to this weird thing we do:  watch everyone leave the theater, and wait until the very end.  Remember Ferris Bueller (and most John Hughes movies)?  I think those were the first with post-credits sequences that I know of.  Now, a lot of movies feature some little fun thing at the end.  You just never know which ones though - although Pixar and Marvel movies are fairly reliable.  In fact, "The Avengers" had two bits, one in the middle of the credits and one afterwards:  the famous Shwarma scene.

Anyway, we enjoyed the flick.  We came home afterwards, where we did a bit of reading for the summer reading program.  And Madison also did some piano playing, getting a better handle on the song "Mystery Mouse."

But we were far from done with our activity.  This year, we finally started to take advantage of that "Kids Bowl Free" promotion from the bowling centers.  We had a bit of shopping to do, but afterwards, the three of us went to the Gainesville Bowling Center for the first time, and bowled a couple games together.  Mommy did very well.  Daddy did abysmal, and felt absolutely humiliated.  Madison was oblivious:  her form varied from the "fireman carry" to the "under-the-leg-sweep" to the "one-and-a-two-and-a-three-and throw!"  She did a bit of the "shot put" style as well - its a good thing the side bars were up for her - it was like pinball watching the bowling ball bounce from side to side until it reached it's destination:  the pins.  Sometimes, the ball would just stop there.  Literally, right in the middle of the pins, there the bowling ball would die.  She did pick up a few spares, which were celebrated mightily.  If there's one thing she has, it's a encouraging sort of spirit:  part of the official rules, according to her, are cheering on other players as they go to bowl.  Ultimately, she had a great time - and as we bought a summer pass, this won't be the last time we bowl there.  In fact, we can add a few names to our "summer pass," so we're adding Nana and Ye-Ye to the list.  They can join in the fun - and I don't want to hear any complaining:  nobody can do worse than Daddy did tonight!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Monsters University Chest

Today we had our appointment at Lowe's for building a chest.  Not just any chest though - this was a Monsters University Chest, complete with stickers, obviously Madison's favorite part.  But she enjoyed all of it today, particularly the hammering bit.  Seriously, if she was all by herself with that piece of paper to guide her, she could make the chest all by herself. She even knew which types of nails to put where, based on their lengths.

This was a free class we registered for a few weeks ago, one that a lot of kids showed up for.  There were several of us families that got there early after church, and together we started hammering away.  Yes, it's a bit of faith, a tiny act of "letting go" when you watch your daughter with a metal hammer.  Of course, you get all the extra hands and fingers out of harm's way, but there's still a bit of worry when you sit there watching your daughter with a hammer, repeatedly whacking a nail until it goes all the way in.  Still, she managed to accomplish the task - she nailed it, so to speak!

The rest of the day was spent at church in the morning - we're still in our Tribes series, where we learned about the Tribe of Dan a bit.  The most famous tribe member there was Samson, which kind of tied neatly with another long-haired bunch we did a skit about:

The duck hunting fellas were back to tell a story that sort of paralleled Samson.  We started out with this baby doll that had really long facial hair and a promise:  so long as his beard stayed long, his duck-huntign skills would never suffer.  Of course, one day he walks into temptation.  He walks into a Bass Pro shop and is harassed by a time share saleswoman who doesn't take no for an answer.  Yes, this is based on real life a bit here.  Anyway, our main character can have the vacation of a lifetime - if he only cuts his beard.  Sure enough, he is turned into a yuppie and loses all his duck hunting skills.

Obviously, we come in afterwards and teach the real story and share the same warnings about who it is you should hang out with.  Madison got these pretty clear Sunday morning, and that was great to see.  She also is really into our praise and worship music as well.  On the way home, we were listening to the Fish, a local Christian radio station.  Madison was actually singing along with one song in her back seat there, singing about her God and His angel armies.  It was sweet.

The rest of the day was spent at home, where we had ourselves a dandy of a meal.  Mommy prepared some chicken for Daddy to take out to the grill, and she got together some potato salad, deviled eggs, and corn on the cob.  It was a spectacular meal, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow too!

At night, we watched another Johnny Depp movie:  "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."  Everyone was in the mood for some chocolate while we were watching.  Afterwards, it was time for bed, and thanks to Willy Wonka, it was time for sweet dreams!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Cowbell!

This morning there was a presentation at the library that we thought would be fun to drop Madison by, one that was filled with all kinds of cowbell.  Here, Madison is playing an African cowbell, which - guess what?  I've got a fever.  And the only prescription is more cowbell!

She played this instrument and others this morning, enjoying an interesting presentation that featured steel drums, gongs, washboards, and even a didgeridoo.  Nana and Ye-Ye actually have one of those, so we may ask to play around with that some time soon too.

After the performances, we got some more books for the summer reading program - Madison is about halfway through.  We naturally got some books about music from different lands, but we also picked up a DVD of a movie that Daddy has never seen before:  "Make Mine Music."  This is one of the first Disney motion pictures, a collection of animated shorts that features "Peter and the Wolf."  It's that story that she was learning about in ballet camp, so Daddy wanted to find the Disney version.  It was great to see it at the library!  We got a bunch more books, and came home quickly - Daddy had to get to work for a bit this afternoon.  We wrote out another script for the big-bearded duck hunters to return tomorrow morning with an unusual script that parallels the story of Samson a tiny bit:  whatever you do, don't let anyone cut your beard.  It was a bit of fun to write, and should be a lot of fun to watch tomorrow.

Getting home a little early, we considered things that start with "M."  For example, we "made ours music" and made a theme of the day by watching the DVD short, "Make Mine Music."  This was a Disney movie from 1946 - we actually paused the opening credits in order to calculate the year based on the Roman numerals!  Yes, we actually did that:  MCMXLVI is 1946.  Which also starts with "M."

Anyway, it's a short movie.  It was interesting watching a Disney movie we'd never seen before, none of us.  It was enjoyable, a collection of musical segments put together, some strong and some a bit more on the experimental side.  It was very fascinating watching the discovery process of animation, as artists were trying new things and learning their craft, making it better and better.  You can see those attempts early in the "Blue Bayou" portion, where animated birds and water effects are created.  I can just picture the 1946 audience blown away by something visually new and amazing on the screen there.  From that historical perspective, this movie is even more fascinating.  Also, it cemented Daddy's love of Jerry Colonna, who narrated the baseball part of the movie.  I believe this may have been pre-Fantasia, where animators put forms to musical segments. Spoiler alert!  "Peter and the Wolf" was good, and a surprise in that the duck Sonya does not get eaten.  Seriously though, when does a flying bird not fly when fleeing from something?  It's fight or flight, so therefore it makes no sense that a flying creature would waddle around, trying to escape getting eaten.  Yes, we're pro-Sonya folks here in the house, so we were all-cheers when we discovered that Sonya survived the ordeal.

We were not all-cheers at the end of the opera-singing whale story though.  Who on earth would harpoon an opera-singing whale?  I had no idea this was how the cartoon ended.  This was actually how the entire movie ends, with a tragedy.  Our jaws dropped here, and Madison was asking if the whale was in heaven.  We were like, "Uh... yeah?"  And inside our heads, we were like, "What the heck?  They just harpooned Willie the Whale!"

Which brings us to an update in our most reprehensible Disney villain ever category.  I now think Professor Tomoaso Tetti-Tatti is up there.  I mean, how can you harpoon an opera-singing whale?  Sure, he's operating on the misunderstanding that the whale ate three opera singers.  But this "shoot first" mentality kills off Willie the Whale!

To help alleviate Daddy feeling sad, we hit the internet for some monsterific fun.  That's where Daddy had discovered earlier a "Make Your Own Monster" feature which is being used to promote the new Monsters movie that is out in theaters this week.  Madison designed a few monsters, one for herself, one for Mommy and one for Daddy.  We'll close today's update with the student cards for each of these monsters - Daddy scanned them tonight.  Incidentally, the site picked the last name "Cage," for some reason.  Madison liked the sound of it.

Maybe we can use these to get student discounts!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Movie Bash

A long time ago we were trying to think up a name for some of our KidPak events, as we initially sort of "winged it" with titles.  We couldn't use the word "festival" all year long, so Daddy jokingly suggested the word "Bash" for a lot of things.  So our movie nights are all suddenly "bash" this and "bash" that.  Tonight was the Summer Movie Bash!

And so it came to pass that here we are again at another "bash."  Tonight, Madison joined us for the Summer Movie Bash, where we popped in the movie, "Escape from Planet Earth."

It was a lot of fun for the kids - they all got popcorn and drinks, and we popped in the movie at the auditorium for everyone to watch while the parents got a few ours to "escape."  Here's a photo of Madison, munching on some popcorn with her friend Matthew.

As you can see, she was sitting in the back this time.  That's where Daddy could find her for to be a part of the Wisenheimer invention skit.  This is where you put that wild invention on a kid's head - and it "reads" their minds and projects up on the screen what they'd look like if they were a space alien.  We picked about fifteen kids, and there were different images that would pop up there on the screen, ranging from E.T. to Jar Jar Binks.  When it went on Madison's head, the audience called out "One...two... three!"  The machine lit up, sound effects went off, and here's what showed up on the screen:

As for the movie, it was decent.  It's growing on me a little. We picked "Escape from Planet Earth" because:

1.  It was the only animated movie to be released on DVD/Blu Ray recently.
2.  That's pretty much the only reason we had.

So our reasoning was sound!  It didn't matter.  We had a great time, asking trivia questions afterwards, using that invention and just having fun with all the kids that showed up.  We had a few hundred, so there was enough to generate a lot of excitement.  And a lot of mess too!  Lots of popcorn everywhere!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pool Day!

Today was just like a vacation day for us.  Seriously, we all went down to the pool for some fun - this after sleeping in late a bit.  Obviously, Madison had a good time.  Any time Madison is in the water, it's a good thing.  What was great about today is that she's gaining confidence, and not afraid to get water on her face a bit.  The idea is to get her swimming by summer's end, so we'll see how that goes.  Daddy intends to take her down to the pool as much as possible so that she can get really comfortable in the water.

Speaking of which, the water was comfortable.  Not cold at all!  The day was perfect - we sat in the shade under an umbrella, and watched as Madison had fun in the kids' pool.  It has a big mushroom on it that pours down water on all sides.  Madison enjoyed having fun with the other kids as we looked on.

We returned for lunch a bit later, but just after that Madison and Daddy actually went back to the area to try out the tennis courts.  She is getting better and better with the racket.  Can you believe she's actually serving the ball over the net now?  First try too!

She and Daddy actually left the tennis courts for a bit to go to Wal-Mart in Dawsonville.  There, we picked up some popcorn, because we knew that later we'd be watching a movie.  Got to have popcorn for that.  Meanwhile, Mommy was getting cleaned up, and cleaning up the house a bit.  Another thing Daddy and Madison picked up was fishing line.  This afternoon, we assembled all the ingredients for a fishing expedition.  Madison even has her own kids' fishing pole, a Spongebob Squarepants edition fishing pole!  We'll put the new line in, go get some licenses and spend some time fishing soon enough.

When we got back from Wal-Mart, it was time for another first with Madison:  Monopoly.  This past Christmas, Santa got her a "Brave" themed Monopoly board.  Late this afternoon, we dragged that out and began to teach Madison how to play a bit.  She caught on pretty quick to certain concepts, and it was funny watching her deviously laugh when someone would land on a spot and owe her money.  One thing that's great about this game is the concept of paying, and owing.  Also, the concept of making change is big too.  We were doing a lot of paying back and forth tonight, and as with most Monopoly games Daddy has ever played, we never finished.  It had been going on for a good while, and was a lot of fun too.  But we didn't want to play so late as to miss our movie!

Tonight we showed Madison the new "Alice in Wonderland" for the first time.  Yes, there was popcorn!  It's still a great movie - and it's one that has had a big influence on our lives when you think about it.  Madison was dressing up as Alice so long ago, and we had these two months of the "Alice" theme at KidPak for a while.  Anyway, there are a few rough patches here and there, but Madison was never scared.  It's like she was in the water - somewhat over her head from time to time, but still fearless.

Before bed, there she was at the table, drawing again.  She's been drawing from her "Brave" book a lot lately.  There are some example pages that show you how to draw basic things like clocks, dresses or balloons.  She's been imitating those, and practicing her drawing, getting better and better.  Daddy is just thrilled at all this practice.  From tennis to piano to drawing to even ballet:  she's just getting better and better.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Night Watch

Our next theme in August is going to be pretty sweet.  Here's a sneak peek at the banner that was designed today - the skeleton may change in time, but the overall idea and colors look fantastic.  We're doing a "Night at the Museum" sort of theme to the whole series, which allows us to explore all sorts of different themes, all under the cover of a "museum" theme.  We might even make a return trip to the Fernbank Museum!

Today was a work day for Daddy, and a long one at that.  We were talking about the Tribe of Gad tonight, and working on all sorts of various things that kept popping up.  It was a busy day at the office, but there's always time for stilts, right?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back to Transylvania

Today was nice - though Daddy had to work, he made a fun decision to come in a little late.   We've been working a lot lately, after all, so together the three of us went over to the theater in Cumming for part of their free movie summer.  Today's selection was "Hotel Translyvania," which we saw last Fall.  We haven't got the Blu-Ray yet - that's a surprise for later.  But this morning, we joined Aunt Shain, Madison's cousins, and even Nana at the theater.  Together, we took up a bunch of seats in the back row, and we were glad Aunt Shain got there a little early:  the place was packed!

Madison did her usual routine on the computer and is now on LEVEL G.  This is a pretty big deal to her, because none of her classmates have gotten that far.  She's been reading and doing assessment every single day, pretty much.  Spending about a half hour each day, she's been diligent about moving forward.  Also, she's been trying some of the other programs, like the one you see above.  Basically, you have to fill in the slots and create the number presented using only Roman numerals.  Madison was a quick learner - she could even write her birth year in Roman numerals:  MMVI.

Daddy actually learned a thing or two as well, to be honest.  For example, did you know that 400 is CD?  At the end of movies, there's usually this huge hodgepodge of Roman numerals spelling out what year the movie was made in, and you have just a few seconds to figure it all out.  In the nineties, it was tough.  MCMXCVI is 1996.  That takes a few moments for me to calculate.  Okay, so maybe more than a few moments.  But the year 2000 was glorious.  That's MM.  Yep.  And then MMI, MMII, MMIII, MMIV, MMV, MMVI, MMVII, MMVIII, MMIX, MMX, MMXI, MMXII, and here we are at MMXIII.  That didn't take long at all for me to figure out - thank goodness we're out of the nineties.  Rough years!

Okay, anyway, Daddy had to work today.  Mommy and Madison did piano together, and the great news is that Mommy is doing fine with her digestive issues.  So far, so good.  She prepared some pieces of pork for Daddy to grill when he got home - and in between a few rain showers, Daddy raced out there and grilled up some tasty dinner, while  of course listening to some of our records.

It was a little late for a movie, so Madison and Daddy opted for some X-box fun, playing an old game based on the movie "Madagascar 2."  Yep, it was that old.  And yet, Madison loved it.  She'll want to play this one through.  There's something to be said for movie license games, although some are pretty bad.  They all have a head start in that you already like the characters involved.  Madison was playing as Gloria, Marty, Melman and Alex tonight and having a fun time, especially with the "hot potato" game and the "musical chairs" bit.  These were variations of these games, and she was laughing all the way through.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Setting a Record

Today Madison got a history lesson, as we set up the record player that Daddy got for his birthday.  Look at that thing - isn't it amazing?  I love the look of these record players.  Of course, they also play MP3s, CDs, the radio, and even tapes.  But the big thing is the record player.  For the official record of it and all (pun intended), that picture shows the first record we played.  Daddy thought it would be fun to play some ballet music, and so we set the needle down carefully and stepped away.  There's just something about the crackle of a record starting to play, isn't there?  Madison and Daddy started dancing right away.

We listened for a good part of the morning, while Madison was coloring in some of her Princess Merida sheets she got yesterday.  We also ate, of course.  Mommy cooked us up a good breakfast, as usual.

We also tried out Madison's new Kinect Game, "Pixar Rush."  This is a bigger game than I thought, one in which we only got to visit three of the worlds, "Toy Story," "Up," and "Ratatouille."  It's a split-screen, two-player game, one that involves a lot of movement.  Yes, you'll get your exercise on this one.  But that's the reason why we bought the thing for Madison's birthday - we like the thought that you have to move to play it.  And it's pretty fun, too!  One early thing you do is set up your character.  It scans your face and body type, and then creates a character for you.  THEN, it shows what you would look like in the world of "Cars," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "Toy Story," and "Up."  So yes, we looked like rats at one point.  But it was a lot of fun - and it does have the potential to wear you out.  Which again is a good thing.

We did have a chiropractor appointment today, which was hilarious as always.  Madison laughs so hard there, as if she's in this ginormous tickle fight.  Which, in a way, she is.  She loves the stickers and treasure chest afterwards too - ironically, she picked herself up a rubber ducky from the chest.

After that, we went by Goodwill in hopes of finding old records.  Yes, this record player has opened up a whole new world of audio for Daddy.  We didn't find much there, but we did find some other things to do with Madison.  First of all, can you believe they had a pair of pink ice skates that fit her perfectly?  They're training skates too!  Also, a do-it-yourself periscope kit, where you make your own periscope.  These items were really cheap, and hard to resist for doing something fun with Madison.  We got a bunch more, so that will be fun later on.

It rained again.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow too - the lake is very, very full.  The weather has been nice and cool, and then the storms pass overhead and keep everything cooler.  Seriously, we're talking about low eighties in the middle of a Georgia summer.  It's been wonderfully comfortable.

After the visit to Goodwill, the three of us went out to eat at the Golden Corral.  We were concerned about Mommy's diet - we're trying to discover something that doesn't affect her negatively.  Unfortunately, last week was not a good one for her, as she simply has a difficult time sometimes after eating.  The working theory this week is that it is wheat-related stuff.  That said, she was able to pick and choose from the buffet, just like Madison and Daddy.  Unfortunately, you can't eat there all the time.  The cost has apparently gone up, and you nearly feel like you have to eat a ton to justify being there.  Which is not something Daddy and Mommy want to really do.  Madison, however, can eat on and on - especially from the dessert bar.  She ate a healthy meal up front, of course.  But then the ice cream was calling her name, followed by some cotton candy!  Yummy!

We got home a little later.  Madison has been spending time with piano for practice, just to stay familiar with certain songs.  For example, she has been playing today "Twinkle Little Star" with two hands.  After that practice, comes her other daily habit:  Raz Kids.  It's a program on the computer that she's been sticking with each day.  Every day for about a half-hour, she hooks up on the internet and learns to read better from stories.  The program actually reads her words that she doesn't know quite yet, and afterwards there are assessment questions.  Her progress is tracked, and reported to the local school - so she actually keeps busy during the summer too.  Mommy has been really good about keeping her on this.  And Daddy is keeping her on the library summer reading program as well.  She's got close to fifty books to go.  That will go by really quickly though.  In fact, today she got another book or two from Goodwill.  She'll have read those soon, and we'll mark those down on the list in no time.

Speaking of standard updates, our ant farm is prospering.  More tunnels are forming, criss-crossing across the vast green landscape.  The ants are busy inside, moving to and fro, carrying bits and pieces around and doing their thing.  This has been a really successful project, one that fascinates not only Madison, but the whole family.

The other project, of course, are our sea monkeys.  Presently, we have a population of about two.  We had three, but I'm not entirely sure what happened to the other one.  The two we have are getting pretty big, and we suspect that one of them might be "expecting."  The other one, who we call Nicolas, is looking really healthy.  He's a big guy, moving about the tank with authority!  We keep the tank aerated each day, feeding our pets about once every five days.  This seems to be working out well for our new pets.  Madison and Daddy check in with them from time to time, watching them flutter about around the castle.  We're not entirely sure why there aren't any more in the tank, but at least the two we have seem to be flourishing, so we'll chock this project up as a success too.

So, a lot of words written today, aren't there?  We didn't do much that you'd call "epic," but it was still a fun day overall.  Everyone got some rest, and had a good time also.  Although... Daddy's a little sore right now from the Kinect game.  Those things really get you moving!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad Dynasty

Here's another picture with Madison and those duck people.  This was kind of a big deal at the church this morning - lots of fun acting like guys from Duck Dynasty.  Not exactly though - we weren't really impersonating them, but instead dressing like them - guys in camouflage with long beards.  We cracked a lot of jokes upstairs in the main sanctuary and got the crowd laughing.  We even posed for a snap with Pastor Franklin after the service:

It was a good start to the day, although we're a bit tired.  Next, we're off to Ye-Ye and Nana's house for the big Father's Day celebration.  And, it was also a celebration for Madison.

The family gathered at the house, starting things off right with a big meal cooked out on the back deck, hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob and all kinds of other good foods.  Soon after that, though, it was time for some games!

Nana and Ye-Ye set up some games with water balloons, and yep, there was one with shaving cream involved.  It was a relay race, one where we took turns having the girls make us a beard of shaving cream.  By the time the whole thing was done, everyone had a shaving cream beard!

We did a lot of badminton after that.  This is a game we used to play a whole lot growing up, and on the weekend of Madison's seventh birthday, she was starting to get the hang of it... a little.  At least the family around her knew to stay out of her way when the birdie came falling down in her general direction.  She'd be swatting all over - next lesson will be being mindful of others and how much it doesn't feel good to get hit by a racket!

After the games came the cake and the presents.  As it is Father's Day, we had presents for the dads, as well as presents for Madison.  Hard to believe, but there were still some things that had Merida on them that she hasn't received for a present yet.  Today, Madison got even more "Brave" things:  a new Merida dress, more coloring pages, and more toys.  And legos!

What did the dads get?  We got Ye-Ye a copy of that new television series, "The Bible."  And this Daddy got something pretty cool:  a new record player.  We don't actually have a record player in the house anymore, so this was a pretty nifty little item.  Of course, it's modern and can play CDs and the radio.  But it's all about the records.  Suddenly, I'll be looking around for records to play now!

After the presents and the smiles, came even bigger smiles.  It was time for another water battle!  The kids were anxious to get out there and splash each other, and it was a whole lot of fun.  There were water balloons, water guns and the hose itself, manned by Ye-Ye, who was wicked with his aim.

It was a fun, fun afternoon.  But we all had to head home some time, so we left, pretty late, after saying our goodbyes from another wonderful time together.  We returned home a little tired, of course.  It was a long day.  Still, we had enough energy for a movie - that's when we tried out "Puss in Boots," which - can you believe it - we haven't seen yet.  Daddy picked it up as one of Madison's birthday presents, and together we munched on popcorn again and watched the movie together.  It was okay - but it didn't matter the overall quality.  It was just a special weekend, and we're all content with smiles on our faces from a great time together.

Watch out!  You're next!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Seventh Birthday!

Our little girl turned seven years old today, and to celebrate the occasion there was a small stack of presents on the kitchen table, along a lot of cupcakes - one with a candle in it, burning bright at the top. Mommy and Daddy sang "Happy Birthday" to Madison as she entered the kitchen, and it did surprise her.  She blew out the candle, and then the big decision had to be made:  eat a cupcake first, or open presents?  The cupcake ruled the day - actually Daddy felt that way too.  Mommy made some tasty cupcakes last night.  But the presents were nice too:  Madison opened them up fairly quickly, and was excited to get a good assortment of video games, movies and books.

But we didn't have much time to use them at home.  Today was all about setting up for tomorrow's church service - which has a "Ducky Dynasty" theme.  This is the popular show of our time right now, so the powers that be wanted a skit written for the main sanctuary with the grown-ups, and have it with that theme.  So Daddy went to work writing, and Mommy has been hard at work assembling props and costumes for the skit.  Here's just a sample of Daddy's costume:

Yep, it's Madison and her Duck Commander.  Oddly enough, those are the same initials as Daddy's, so that will work out just fine for a day or so.  Tomorrow, four of us will grace the stage with redneck jokes and so forth - at one point actually shooting a rubber ducky from the rafters of the church way above.

Madison had a great time - lots of giggling today - with everyone in the office.  We're still cleaning up quite a bit from Summer Xtreme, as well as getting things geared up for tomorrow's service.  After church, we'll head over to Ye-Ye and Nana's house for a bit of celebration - both Father's Day, and a celebration of Madison's birthday.  It's going to be a good time, and the party doesn't end there.  We'll have another party to celebrate her birthday soon enough.  Today was just a bit too busy for that.  Already, it's 8:00, and Mommy is still working away on costumes and so forth.

Maybe Monday or so we'll get that rest...!

Friday, June 14, 2013

School of Ballet

I just love Madison's expression in the photo above.  Today was the day for a demonstration of some of the things Madison learned in camp, and it was a pretty good list of items, actually.  She did very well, demonstrating all the different dance techniques - and with good form too!

Here she is with legs extended straight, leaping across the floor to the other side.  Today ended ballet camp, and during the whole thing Madison did crafts and learned quite a bit.  She also had fun too, as you can see in this photo below:

Today, our friend Lance joined us and all the other parents to see the demonstration.  Madison waved "hi" to each of us, but then got serious about her craft.  Check out her form here - not bad!

It was such a short presentation, but we enjoyed it immensely.  The class was a lot of fun for Madison, who really enjoys ballet - just about as much as Mommy does!  It's great seeing Mommy watch on as Madison does her moves across the floor.  Ballet is something we'll definitely be continuing.

Just one more shot - Lance took a photo of us as a family after the fact.  Madison has her crown and magic wand here, just two of the props she made this week in class.

After ballet, it was off to the library for something that we signed Madison up for - a "Digging Rocks" class that was all filled up.  We were glad we signed her up for it - Mommy went with Madison, and the two used clay to create the three different types of rock:  igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.  She also made a geode with glitter and an egg shell.  There was also a fossil she made, by making a shape in clay, pressing a dinosaur toy into it.  The class sounded fun and educational, and we're glad we made the trip.

Meanwhile, Daddy is working on a Father's Day presentation for church.  It'll be for the main sanctuary, for a few thousand and then the folks over the web - and it's supposed to have a "Duck Dynasty" slant.  That said, we made an early trip to Bass Pro today to pick up some fake beards and duck calls.  Although... the duck calls sort of stink.  We'll have to go find some better ones tomorrow.

Anyway, it was obviously a better day.  The weather wasn't as incredibly hot either, which was a big plus.

Tonight, Daddy got home late, but we went back to the archeology.  Madison is hooked on Indiana Jones lately, and that's what we played for a while.  It was fun, but we played pretty late.  No matter - everyone gets to sleep in tomorrow.  Plus, tomorrow is a big day - this is Madison's last day being six years old.  We looked back before bedtime on all the things she did while she was six years old.  It was a lot - we're so blessed!

As soon as she went to bed, it was off to wrapping and baking.  Madison is going to wake up to a small surprise tomorrow!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sky on Fire

What a wonderful sunset tonight.  The clouds were so unusual - social networks were filled with pictures people were posting of the amazing skies tonight.  The colors were so different.  We sat there, awestruck, just marveling at the skies overhead.  The landscape was yellow, such a different hue that the three of us sat out on the back deck just looking upward in wonderment.

It was a good day today - obviously starting with the School of Ballet again.  We dropped Madison off for one more session, and she of course enjoyed it greatly.  We had plans to go in one direction afterwards, but a last-minute skit request from pastors meant a change in direction for the day.  Fortunately, we were able to mix a little business with pleasure.  While out looking for duck calls and long beards (more on that in a bit), we anticipated stopping at the Mall of Georgia.  There, and just before the derecho, we were able to have some fun in the sun with Madison.

Yes, the Mall of Georgia fountain was up and running again.  Madison had a great time just running around, trying to avoid getting wet - and failing miserably.

It's a nice fountain they've got there - and it looks like some other children had a similar idea in mind.  This was such a simple stop and a quick and easy idea, but Madison really enjoyed it.  Her eyes perked up when she heard that we might be stopping by the fountain.

We raced the storm home.  We could see it looming over us, to the north.  It was sweeping down rapidly to the south, an unusual trajectory for a storm system.  It was an unusual one for sure, moving fast and causing a lot of damage in certain parts of Georgia.  Fortunately, not ours.  Our county saw a deluge of rain (which happened just after we got home), but nothing like the wild winds we heard about elsewhere.  The end result was even more rain - lots of it - and on the positive side, cooler weather.  We definitely could use that!