Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weeki Wachee

We returned to the mermaid lagoon this morning - or more of a spring really.  It is Weeki Wachi Springs, where an auditorium was built in 1947 by a Navy Frogman for one purpose:  to host mermaids.  Audiences have been coming by to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids for years now, long before Disney World was built, or even I-75.

We made the short trip down the road, hyping up the mermaids to Madison, who was excited about seeing the park, and maybe doing some swimming in the springs as well.  We got there just in time, really.  The first show of "The Little Mermaid" was starting pretty much as we walked through the gates, which was perfect timing.  Unlike our last visit to Weeki Wachee, the place was quite full today.  Last time, it was off-season and a little run down.  Since then, there have been attempts to restore the place, along with a status change to a state park. 

There was standing-room only for this show.  The place was absolutely filled!  Madison was paying close attention to the dancing mermaids as they swam and gyrated in the water, along with the handsome prince and wicked witch.  It was all set to music, bubbles, quite a few fish, and even swimming turtles.  Madison enjoyed it, but so did Mommy and Daddy. 

Afterwards, we went to pose for a picture with one of the mermaids - her name was Kim.  Madison may write her a letter later via their website, and something called "mermaid mail."  There were pressed pennies to make too - little ones with mermaids engraved on the sides. 

It was extraordinarily hot though.  This may have inspired our next decision - to see another, different mermaid show after shopping in the air conditioned store.  We got some bottled water there, and a we also picked up an official 2014 Mermaid Calendar today.

Then it was time to go to the indoor place where we waited on another different mermaid show.  This time we had front row seats - right up there against the glass.  Madison had a great view, and we enjoyed this show even more because it highlighted some of the history and behind-the-scenes aspects of being a Weeki Wachee mermaid.  And as you can see above, it ended with the old school patriotic show-stopper.  Lots of fun!

As stated earlier, it was hot outside.  Really hot.  Consider that we haven't seen "hot" yet in Georgia, and we were absolutely suffering a bit.  We wandered over to the animal show, and found no shade there - so we moved on to the boat ride down the river.  We did this last time, and saw some otters and cranes.  But there was only one boat that went back and forth every half-hour, and it only sat 30 people.  And there were at least 60 in line in front of us.  SO, it was off to Buccaneer Bay.

Buccaneer Bay is the water park that uses the springs, right next door.  In fact, we were stepping into the same body of water that the mermaids were swimming in - just further down, it was a cool lake to jump into, or wade along the shore.  Also there was a kids' water play area, which Madison delighted in for about 45 minutes or so.  Daddy was in there with her for a bit, but the rest of the family stayed in the shade, cooled off and watching Madison have her fun.  Speaking of which, here she is, our own little mermaid:

When all was said and done, it was time to head back home.  Of course, it rained on the way home!  It didn't affect us in the least, of course.

We got home and everyone was tired from the intense heat and sun.  We were also hungry!  We ate a huge Mexican dinner, and spent the rest of the night putting together puzzles, reading books, playing the Leapster Explorer, or just watching the sun go down.  It was a wonderful day, and lots of fun for the family.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Soak up the Sun

The Florida sun is hot, hot, hot - no rain down here today, that's for sure.  Hopefully, the rain will hold off on us long enough for some fun this week.  We'll see.

For now, it's been eating, resting and the pool.  Daddy's been doing some work down here - just one more message to go on the new series.  But it's at a different pace, at least.  The five of us went down to the pool this afternoon to get some sun and swimming.  We got a lot of sun - I think we all probably got out of there just in time.  Madison loves the sun.  The rest of us are in the shade, and she pulls her deck chair out there and just sits in there and soaks up the sun, with her sunglasses on, resting in the Florida sun.

More in a bit on today though - Madison used some big words today, talking about a "camouflaged" lizard, and being "disappointed" a particular puzzle piece couldn't fit.  The lizards are numerous, some pretty big.  The puzzles have been fun too.  Madison has kept herself really busy, doing one thing after another.  What's next?  What's next?

The concept of "rest" will probably take a while to sink in, but she kind of gets that from Daddy too.  Go, go, go!

Tonight, everyone was kind of tired from just being in the sun a bit - plus a big roast beef dinner.  Still, Madison wanted to play tennis.  She asked and asked and asked and asked, and before you knew it, all of us were down at the tennis courts, holding court.  We played until Madison's arm got worn out, which was close to an hour, really.  Nana and Ba-Ba were patient, and teaching her how to return a serve - timing it right, and hitting it upward and over the net.  Of course, she hit it back over the net a few times.  And there was much rejoicing.

Daddy spent some time actually working today, can you believe it?  We wrote the last message for our newest series "Night Watch."  It was finished here in Florida, which is a fun-fact.  Daddy used Ba-Ba's computer, and was able to email it off to everyone.  And now, Daddy can spend the rest of the week with that off his mind.

In fact, right after that, we began to play our traditional round of Scrabble.  Mommy and Daddy are always playing Scrabble here on vacation.  It really isn't vacation without a game of Scrabble.  This time, however, we're using the Kindle and an application on the device.  The end result is the discovery of random words that we'd never heard of, or would never use.  The computer is constantly telling you how you can improve by using some random seven letter word that starts with a Q and has no vowels or something.  And you're like... what?

Anyway, it's a fun game we always play.  The neat thing is that we don't have to finish the game in one night.  We can save the progress and pick up where we left off the next day. 

Speaking of which, it's time to stop for the night - and pick up for the next day.  It's been a great day, and a good start to things!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Take the Cannoli

Madison had her first cannolo today, which she enjoyed quite a bit - as did everyone else.  Daddy got a bunch of cannoli for the skits.  Cannoli is apparently the plural for cannolo.  You learn something every day, eh?

Anyway, it was a full day with a fun skit in the morning - we had a gangster skit, because apparently the Gangster Tribe wanted in on the "Tribes" action.  There were Gladiators, Vikings, Pirates, Cowboys, Ninjas, Superheroes and Luchadors - but no Gangsters.  They were quite upset about this:

KidPak Adventures:  Tribes


CUE TRACK:  6 Phil Steals the Money



KAREN, TONY, LANCE and RICO walk in STAGE RIGHT, dressed as gangsters.

KAREN:  “So what kind of tip did you leave at the pizza joint?”

RICO:  “A.C. says ten percent.”

KAREN:  “Not bad.  Hey, you want to hear a joke about the pizza?”

TONY: “Sure.”

KAREN:  “Fuh-get-about-it, it’s too cheesy.”

LANCE, TONY and RICO laugh.

KAREN:  “You know what that waiter said when I asked him if our pizza would be long?”

LANCE, RICO and TONY shrug.

KAREN: “He said it won’t be long.  It’ll be round!

LANCE, RICO and TONY laugh

LANCE: “You crack me up.  Really funny.”

KAREN:  “What do you mean I’m funny?”

LANCE attempts to explain, as tone changes slightly.

LANCE:  “Just… you know.  It’s funny.  The way you tell the joke and everything.”

KAREN:  “Funny how?  I mean, what’s funny about it?”

TONY tries to explain.

TONY: “Karen, look, you got it all wrong.”

KAREN:  “No, Anthony.  He’s a big boy.  He knows what he said.  What’d you say?  Funny… how?”


LANCE:  “You’re just…”

KAREN:  “What?  Just what?”

LANCE shakes his head back and forth, sort of stunned, as KAREN gets intense.

KAREN: “Let me understand this.  Maybe it’s me.   You think I’m funny.  Like a clown?  What, you think I’m here to amuse you?  Is that what it is?”

KAREN stares down LANCE who stares back, stunned, until it sinks in that she’s playing a joke on him.  He breaks out laughing.

LANCE:  “Fuh-get-about-it!”


TONY, RICO and KAREN start laughing.

KAREN:  “I got you good!”

RICO:  “Ya filthy animal!”

RICO, KAREN, LANCE and TONY laugh again.

BACKSTAGE NOISE – something falling over

CUE TRACK:  7  Heist to See You

TONY:  “Did you hear that?”

LANCE: “I’ll go check it out.”

LANCE swaggers off STAGE LEFT.

RICO:  “I can’t believe they didn’t pick us as a Tribe.  They got all those other Tribes, but no Gangsters!  We got Gladiators, Cowboys, Vikings – but no gangsters?  What’s this world coming to?”

TONY: (mocking) “Mother of mercy!  Is this the end of Rico?”

RICO: “You don’t understand!  We coulda had class.  We coulda been a contender!  We coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what we are, let’s face it.”

TONY: “We’re not bums, Rico.  Look I’ve got an idea.  We’ll get some respect, all right.”

KAREN: “What are you going to do?”

TONY:  (chin up in the air)  “I’ll make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.”

RICO: “What are you talking about?”

TONY: (with a lot of drama) “They’ll be sleeping with the fishes.”

KAREN and RICO: “ What?”

TONY:  (explaining with a lot of excitement) “Yeah, they got this great program at the aquarium, where you can spend the night with all those little fishies!”

RICO: “That’s right!  You get to bring your sleeping bag and they tell all these stories about diving and fish and mermaids and…”

KAREN: “Hey!”

RICO:  “You talking to me?”

TONY:  “You talking to me?”

RICO: “ No, you talkin’ to me!”

TONY: “No – you talkin’ to me!

KAREN:  “Zip it!”

LANCE enters dramatically, STAGE LEFT as RICO and TONY do the kindergarten thing and act like they are zipping their lips.

CUE TRACK:  8 Kevin Beak’n

LANCE:  “Say hello to my little friend!”

LANCE gestures at STAGE LEFT, where JAVIER enters.

TONY:  “Hello.”

KAREN and RICO:  “Hey, how ya’ doin’?”

JAVIER: “Hello, amigos.”

TONY:  “What are you doing here?”

JAVIER: “The gang’s all here, I see.”

LANCE:  (gesturing at JAVIER) “I found this one snooping around.”

RICO: “You’ll never take me alive, copper!”

KAREN:  “He’s not a copper.  He’s a luchador!  And you didn’t answer the question.  Tony asked ya, ‘what are you doing here?’”

JAVIER: “Well, it’s like this.  All the Tribes were getting together and all...”


JAVIER: “No!  Listen!  We were thinking it might be a good idea to invite you to join us for a Tribes party!”

TONY:  “Nobody wants the gangster tribe around.  We got too much… history.”

JAVIER: “Fuh-get-about-it!  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  We’re all pretty messed up when you start to think about it.  I mean, pirates and luchadors?  Vikings?  Gladiators?”

RICO: “Yeah, but you don’t want us around.  We got nothing much to offer for you.”

JAVIER: “Fuh-get-about-it!  We’ve all got our weaknesses, but when you have God helping out, you can do all things, amigos!”

LANCE:  “He’s right.  If anything, we’re the best Tribe around.”

JAVIER: “ Fuh-get-about-it!  Hey, you’ve got to remember we’re all only here because of Him.”

JAVIER points upward for emphasis.

JAVIER: “Don’t get a big head.  Then your little hat thingies won’t fit on so well.  But seriously, do you want to join all the other Tribes for a big party?  Everyone’s invited.”

LANCE, KAREN, TONY and RICO mull this over.

KAREN:  “We’d be honored to join youz guys.”

LANCE:  “Yeah, you’re good fellas!”

JAVIER looks relieved, and the atmosphere is happy as everyone looks ready to go.

RICO:  “Great.  Let’s go!  I’ll bring the Italian pastries!”

TONY:  “I’ll go get my tommy gun.”

JAVIER:  “No.  Leave the gun.  Bring the cannolis.”


JAVIER:  “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done – God still loves you and will still welcome you.  You can still be a part of the tribes!”

LANCE:  (offstage) “Ya comin’ or not?”

JAVIER: “Until next time, adios!”

JAVIER salutes and briskly trots off STAGE RIGHT.


You may be wondering what the message itself was, after reading that of course.  We spoke about our last Tribe, the Tribe of Manasseh.  This has been a really long series.  But it's been fun, with a lot of random ideas that have brought a lot of energy to the place.  We've gone from duck hunters to luchadors to cowboys and cattle.  The Tribe of Manasseh has to do with "forgetting about it," hence the title of the skit.  This is because Manasseh's name actually means forgetting.  In fact, here's the message of the day:


     This is madness! A squad of 300 men could never defeat an army of 135,000 soldiers. Each man by himself would have to fight 450 soldiers! Madness? Certainly some may have thought that when thinking about the chances of victory. And yet there they stood, triumphant: No retreat, no surrender. The Tribe of Manasseh.
      How could they do it? How could they defy the odds to achieve victory? The answer came from a simple message from God, one that we all should learn: forget about it.
      Forget the past. Manasseh’s name literally means that God’s favor and goodness made Joseph forget the past. He was blessed with a son, forgetting the bad that was behind him, and looking forward to a blessed future. If we dwell on the past too much, we don’t move forward – and that’s where we need to be.
     Forget your limitations. Gideon was a mighty member of the Tribe of Manasseh. Yet when asked by God to do something incredible, he first remembered his weaknesses. But God has a long history of using those who think they’re weak. Remember, when we’re weak He is strong. Don’t focus on what you cannot do, when we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!
     Forget your own strength! Gideon and his tribe started out with 32,000 troops. But God showed His great power by reducing this army to a tiny squad of 300 men. This small force of soldiers defeated a mighty enemy, proving God was with Gideon and the Tribe of Manasseh. Greater is He that is in us, than anything in this world.
     Gideon and his army of 300 found ultimate victory – one that you can find too when you remember... to forget. Forget your past, forget your limitations, and forget your own strength! 

We had a great skit this afternoon - it was the start of a pretty long day.  Daddy got home, and ...it was time to go!  We hopped in the car, and made our journey to Florida.  This might be the latest start we've had within the last several years, but we did in fact make it without incident.  The fact that it was a Sunday afternoon helped out immensely, we figure.  There was no traffic whatsoever, really.  The weather was perfect, and Madison was quite occupied in the backseat with her surprise:  Daddy and Mommy got her a new "My Little Pony" game for her Leapster Explorer.  This one device and game kept her busy for pretty much the entire journey south.  Mommy packed food and drinks for the trek, and Madison had her eyes peeled for palm trees.  She said she was looking for those because that means they are close to Florida.  Sure enough, we stopped at the Florida Visitor Center, as we usually do, and sure enough, there were plenty of palm trees around. 

We made it to Nana and Ba-Ba's house around 8:30, and it was still daylight outside.  All of us were a little tired, but not too tired to sit and talk for a bit.  Madison is pretty excited to be here, of course.  It's going to be a nice week!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Toy Story RC Car

Here's the vehicle Madison made this morning - the remote control car from "Toy Story."  This morning, Mommy, Daddy and Madison went to Lowe's to build this with hammer, nails and wood.  Madison did a lot of the work, and ironically when Daddy went to help, he actually nailed two pieces to the table.  I am not making that up.  The nail was longer than the pieces he was attaching together, and we were simply supposed to insert the nail through the hole.  Daddy missed that bit of helpful instruction though, and drove the nail in.  Needless to say, there was much amusement from Mommy and Madison.  The joke is this:  Daddy nailed one piece to the table last time we did this.  Within a couple years, their table will be filled with nail holes from Daddy's failed attempts at following instructions!

Anyway, we walked out of there with the car you see above, adding it to our growing wooden collection at home.  Madison has a few cars now, as well as a monster chest.  Next month, we're signed up to build an airplane from the movie "Planes."  With each of these accomplishments, she gets a certificate - and also a patch for her apron.  Right now she's got a few patches on there, but by this time next year she might be looking like a girl scout with all the patches.  She's got that collector mentality.

So tomorrow we're going to Florida.  The plan is to go there right after church, getting in as much vacation time as possible while down there.  We don't have much of a plan for the week, outside of going to see mermaids and maybe mini-golf.  Daddy heard an idea from Ye-Ye of a place to go see manatees, which might be fun for Madison to go see.  Also, it'd be nice to go to the beach.  We'll see how the weather is.  Currently, there's a tropical storm named Dorian that is heading towards Florida, but we don't know how that will affect our lives.  Really, no matter what happens, it'll be fine.  We're going down there to be with family, and we're bringing books and Scrabble.  We'll have plenty of time to rest, and maybe go on some day trips.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bella Dancerella

We've had this for a while, but Madison got it in her mind to set things up this morning, dress up as a black swan, and do some ballet exercises in the great room.  This kit is neat, because there before you is a plastic ballet bar and a mat with the places to put your feet as you dance and do various ballerina positions.  Of course, you do all this as you watch the screen in front of you.  Madison is quite the little dancer!

It was a long day at work, and a long day for Mommy too.  She was packing and putting things together for our upcoming vacation, a quick trip to Florida and back.

Meanwhile, Madison was dancing, and drawing too.  She did a great Mickey Mouse from memory today!  Daddy is desperately trying to finish up with the messages for the new series.  The last ones seem to be coming a bit more slowly, and involve a lot more reworking and researching as well.  The latest effort has to do with Cavemen, which are the characters we've always liked, but haven't quite figured out what to do, message-wise.  That is, until today.  I think we got it all worked out!

“Quest for Fire”

     Deep in the heart of the museum, you just might see a cave, although it’s just a display.  Inside that cave, you might see a caveman, crouched over and trying to figure out how to start a fire.  That’s the quest of the caveman, and it seems to be all he’s about.        
     But it’s what we’re all about too.  Like Adam and Eve, we’re all longing for that fire again – that close relationship with God.  They lost it, and ever since that terrible moment, we’ve been on a quest for fire, a way that to rekindle that closeness we had with our Creator.   
     As we look back at early man in the Bible, we can see and learn from the ways they burned with passion.  Abel, for example, made it appear as if mankind was starting off on the right foot.  The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, because Abel brought his very best to Him.  Abel’s life shows us the way:  If you want to reignite the flames of passion for God, one great thing to do is to give the best of your time, money and effort in service to Him and His church.
     Abel’s brother Cain, however, just didn’t get it.  He lost focus on his quest!  He instead began focusing jealousy on his brother Abel.  He ignored God’s warning, and went down a path that hurt others and brought himself to ruin.  Cain sinned greatly, and he would sadly tell us today the words he remembers hearing God say:  “Do what is right. Then you will be accepted. If you don’t do what is right, sin is waiting at your door to grab you. It longs to have you. But you must rule over it.”
     It was another early tragedy, but we can draw hope from a boy named Enoch, born just a few years later.  He too was one of the earliest men to walk the earth.  But what a walk!  The Bible tells us twice that Enoch walked with God – it’s what he was known for.  He walked so close with God that he was taken to be with Him in heaven. 
     What a happy thought.  And it will happen with many of us some day – hopefully with you as well.  How close are you with your Heavenly Father?  God has promised to never leave us or forsake us, so why not go for walk with Him?  It’s an easy decision.  In fact, it’s so easy, a caveman can do it.

     Are you smarter than a caveman?  Maybe, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t intelligent people:  the Bible talks about several men who spent time living in caves:  King David himself was a caveman for a while.  A man named Lot spent some time in a cave, as did the prophet Elijah, the mighty man Samson, and many others.  Each one stayed there pretty much because there was no other place to spend the night!

     The picture we have of the early caveman isn’t that far off from reality.  In fact, imagine some guy sitting there with his wife, both dressed in animal skins.  Read it for yourself in Genesis 3:21 – “The Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife to wear.”
     Think about it: this is the only time in the Bible that God created an outfit for man to wear.  He makes everything perfectly, so they must have been very fashionable items to wear.  Still, they needed more than just clothing now:  these two needed some shelter – a cave just might be a good idea to begin with.  But what about that fire?  Of course, that’s a quest that takes us all through the Bible…

“But then your message burns in my heart.  It’s like a fire inside my very bones.” Jeremiah 20:9 NIrV

“They said to each other, ‘He talked with us on the road. He opened the Scriptures to us. Weren’t our hearts burning inside us during that time?’” Luke 24:32 NIrV

“The day of Pentecost came. The believers all gathered in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven. It was like a strong wind blowing. It filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something that looked like tongues of fire. The flames separated and settled on each of them.” Acts 2:1-3 NIrV

“Quest for Fire, Over!” – Larry Daley

Hay un amigo en mi

Tonight we watched "Toy Story 3," wrapping up our marathon that was pretty much inspired by the Pizza Planet truck we built several days ago.  This Saturday, oddly enough, we'll be building another Toy Story vehicle together at Lowe's.  That seems like a little while from now, as Daddy has been working quite a bit lately (in order to get out the door for vacation when we go).

These three in the picture above has been with us for the three movies, resting comfortably in their own seats and watching the big screen.

A little flashback:  this was actually the first movie that Madison went to see in the theater!

Still, today we made time for a really nice lunch.  We told Madison we're going to the place that has the peanuts, and Madison immediately knew we were going over to Texas Roadhouse.  Madison ate and ate and ate - we're wondering about a growth-spurt coming up, because she spent a good part of the day today hungry.  It's not like she's hungry all the time, but some days she just likes eating!

You can imagine all the peanuts she ate!

Tomorrow will be the third week in a row without incident for Mommy.  This really is a miracle that she's been able to discover what the cause of all her trouble is.  The problem, as described earlier, was that her condition set in just as she was recovering from the radiation and reversal surgery.  The doctors all said her "discomfort" was all because of the recovery process.  But Mommy has discovered it is all because of something called "gluten."  Indeed, Daddy is examining his diet as well now, as we're all wanting to watch and make sure we get healthier.  As for Mommy, she is healthier.  Three weeks, and no cramping, extreme pain, and exhaustion.

It's wonderful.  Words fail, really they do.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

T-Rex Fossil

Okay, so this is not much of a fossil.  We found it at Goodwill literally three years ago, right at a time that we were thinking of doing a series based on "Night at the Museum."  It took all this time to get around to actually doing the series, and I'm pretty confident it'll be a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, Madison has been home doing a lot of different things - reading, playing with My Little Pony, drawing, and watching different television shows.  She's back with the Marvel Superhero Squad, and will no doubt be thrilled at Christmas when she gets the latest Lego game based on these characters.  Yes, there's even a Lego Silver Surfer.  Speaking of all things Marvel, here's our latest avatar costume for our X-box person:

Madison makes it a point to change the costume every chance she gets.  The latest costume is that of the Silver Samurai, which happened to be a free costume to promote the upcoming "Wolverine" movie.  Madison is certainly not old enough to see the movie, but it doesn't matter really - it's all about the new costume.  Next time, our avatar will be dressed in flip-flops with a Wendy's wig.

It was another big work day with lots to do, and a busy night too.  Church tonight was a great success - I cannot calculate how many of these services we've managed the content of, but it goes back quite a few years.  The gravity of it occasionally sinks in, along with the ponderings of how much longer we'll keep doing it.  Hopefully a few more years is the answer, as it will be exciting to watch Madison walk through each year.  Slowly, of course - she can take her time doing it!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hot Diggedy Dog!

Today was National Hot Dog Day, and what better reason to race home and grill some hot dogs on the back porch.  Daddy spent much of the day working on new messages for the series "Night Watch," which is shaping up to be a good one for messages, at least.  Mommy is working on costuming, and we're also working on other things as well.  We're sort of racing against time though, as we plan on being away for about a week - hopefully to see some mermaids, and maybe even a manatee.

Tonight, we got with Ye-Ye and his truck, and drove to Wal-Mart for some new porch furniture.  It's dropped in price pretty significantly, and Mommy was liking what she was looking at SO, Madison, Ye-Ye and Daddy went down to Cumming to pick up a few wicker rocking chairs.  We'll post pics as soon as Daddy has time to put them together.

It was a fun drive over there, of course.  With Madison in the car, it's a bit of fun all the time.  We had the mandatory "I Spy" game, where Madison seemed to only see things that were green.  "I spy something green," she'd say.  Over and over again!

The rain was pouring down again today, but what else is new, huh?  All in all, it was a busy work day. Originally, the plan was to take Madison to the library to see this program on drums and rhythm, but the work load has been a little heavy lately.  The end result was Daddy staying here at the office, and staying longer than anticipated.  We'll have time to relax a bit later on when we go on our mini-vacation.

We did get some hot dogs today though, some Hebrew National franks that were just right.  We did not, however, get to "Toy Story 3" to complete the marathon.  Everyone was pretty tired, so we postponed that one for a later time.  It's important to get that rest from time to time!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Catch of the Day

We got to go fishing today, and found ourselves a lovely little spot, as you can see here.  It was a little drive and a walk through the woods, but we got to a clearing where there was a bit of a wooden platform, and there we started our fishing again.  Mommy prepared the dough balls ahead of time, and we put the hooks on the fishing poles right away - we were ready to do some fishin'!

Look who caught the first fish!  Madison was on fire for the short time we spent fishing.  I am not making this up:  she caught eight fish while we were out there.  For those of you looking for any angling tips, Madison exclusively uses the Spongebob Squarepants fishing pole, complete with a Plankton sinker at the end.  Maybe it was the way she cast, but this pond was such that every time she cast her fishing line out there, it would come back with something on it.  Daddy caught a few, as did Mommy as well - but Madison ruled the day with catch after catch after catch.  And she saved the best for last:  it was a whopper.  This one was the size of her face, one that required some help reeling in!

We stayed out there fishing for a short window, and had a great time.  If anything, it was a little too easy catching fish this time around.  But you'll hear no complaints from Madison, who was quite happy to brag about her casting skill, and encourage Daddy on the way home:  "Don't worry, next time you'll do better."

We hit the pool after that, which is always fun.  Madison tried a little swimming without her floaties, and was doing okay for a limited amount of time.  Of course, she's doing great with the floaties on, fearless as ever and swimming from one side of the pool to the other without worry.  The rain was on and off today, as it has been the whole month of July.  Right after fishing, it rained - but there was a big enough break for us to go swimming.  But just as we were getting out of the pool... it rained again.

But it stopped long enough for Daddy to grill some delicious barbecue chicken outside, along with some hot dogs.  Inside, Mommy was preparing a wonderful tossed salad, and before long, we had ourselves yet another delicious dinner.  We're all pretty spoiled in that department!

Before bedtime, we watched "Toy Story 2" together, and I've still got that song "Woody's Round-up" stuck in my head!  We went to bed earlier tonight, all of us a bit tired from the big day.  Daddy read some more Bible to Madison, by request, and we all went off to bed nearly the same time.

We really enjoyed that location fishing, by the way.  We'll certainly be back there for some fun - you could say we're ... wait for it... hooked!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

National Ice Cream Day

Oh my gosh!

Mommy actually made homemade ice cream today!  And it was strawberry flavored with strawberry slices in it, and chocolate and whipped cream and... oh, man!  What a way to celebrate National Ice Cream Day!  We had gotten home from church, and later in the afternoon, Madison and Daddy were playing their Marvel Superhero Squad, and heard Mommy's voice calling out from the kitchen.  The two of us turned slowly, and looked towards the kitchen and saw...

It was as good as it looks!

As we write this, once again it's raining.  Yep, another thunderstorm coming through.  But most of the day it was sunny and hot, and perfect for ice cream.  We weren't quite ready to go outside and run around though, as we were pretty wiped out in the early afternoon.  In fact, even Madison took a long nap with Daddy.

There were a few reasons for the fatigue.  First of all, Sundays are traditionally quite a bit of work in the morning.  We did a very fun service about "releasing the inner wolf," which is all based on the Tribe of Benjamin.  The kids really enjoyed it - lots of humor, and learning.  Meanwhile Madison was in KidPak Jr., where Madison was learning her memory verse, and getting into worship as well.

Here's a photo of Madison during the service - Mommy dressed her up very nicely this morning.  She learned a bit about the David and Goliath story, how greater is He that is in you.  She also learned her memory verse and has it memorized completely.  We filmed her this afternoon saying, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in peace - Psalm 133:1."  She doesn't even pause, or struggle to remember anything.  Of all the memory verses, this one seems to be the best memorized.  This may be because this series has been two months long.

Tonight, after playing a lot of Super Hero Squad, we all watched a movie together:  "Toy Story."  It has been a long time since we've seen it, but the basic idea is to watch all three movies over the next few days.  It all started with the building of the Pizza Planet truck - Madison brought the truck down to "watch" the movie, sitting it next to Woody and Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear next to them in his own chair.  We all shared popcorn, and relived this amazing movie - setting ourselves up for a good marathon over the next few nights.  Tomorrow night, we'll get to hear "Woody's Roundup" again, which is tied to something else coming up in November that Daddy and Mommy are pretty excited about.  We just bought tickets to see Riders in the Sky, a western quartet that sings "Woody's Roundup," and a whole lot of other songs of the west.  What's great about this concert upcoming is that we'll be taking Madison too - and it'll be a Christmas-themed one!

Tonight before bed, we continued reading through the Bible, which Madison is quite insistent that we do.  She actually reminded Daddy tonight that it is something we have to do, and he was of course happy to do it.

We are so blessed - every day is full of life and filled with family fun.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why I Otter...

Aw, look at the hedgehog!  This is Mommy's favorite creature, because they're just so adorable.  It appears as if the girls above are inclined to agree.  Today we went back to the library - again - but this time for an animal show.  Hampton Park Library has been absolutely incredible this summer with their activities - we've done so much there with Madison, and she's enjoyed a lot of unique crafts and experiences.  And after today, she's even touched a big snake!

This isn't the kind of boa you put around your neck.  The kids learned about all those amazing animals, and got to pet just about everyone.  Madison had never seen a bat before, but she got to pet a fruit bat today.  A legless lizard too - this one was a couple feet long, and was pretty much a snake without coiling so much.  There was a parrot from the amazon, and just for Daddy:  a baby alligator.  Madison got to feel an alligator's tail.  As you can see in this photo below, she had a great time!

All the kids did - each was focused on learning a thing or two, and seeing the animals.  But the highlight of the visit was... the otter!

This little guy was pretty hyper.  His name was Noah, and he scampered about like a cartoon character, sniffing and inspecting everything in the room, and even grabbing a stray flip-flop or two.  The kids loved this little guy - it was Madison's favorite creature from the day.

The rest of the day involved coloring and drawing, and some reading as well.  Once again, it rained outside for a bit, which was a nice way to cool things off.  We've been drenched this month, that's for sure.  I'm sure that otter is just loving all this water...!  Of course, he seemed like the type who'd be happy one way or the otter...

Friday, July 19, 2013

National Stick Out Your Tongue Day

Mommy called after looking at the calendar:  how could we forget that today is National Stick Out Your Tongue Day?  Yes, indeed it was, and as you can see above, there was much sticking out of tongues.  We're not entirely sure why, but there is no question that it is fun to do.  In the proper context. For example, it probably wouldn't be wise to do this to your teacher during class, or a police officer as you pass them by.  Now, if you reminded these individuals what the day was, then I'm sure it would be all right - and I'm sure they'd respond by sticking their tongues out at you.

Now where exactly did this holiday come from?  This is yet another holiday with mysterious origins, perhaps set up by some secret society or unknown government organization that keeps track of these sorts of things.  Whatever the reason, we wish you and yours a happy National Stick Out Your Tongue Day.  We hope it is glorious!

So what did we do on National Stick Out Your Tongue Day?  Glad you asked!  First thing we did was get this snazzy t-shirt!

If you're wondering, yes indeed, that is the legendary three wolves howling at the moon t-shirt, available on Amazon.  For just under $20 with shipping, you too can get a t-shirt with three times the wolf power of an ordinary one wolf howling at the moon t-shirt.  You're probably wondering "what power" this sort of shirt can give - or perhaps you doubt me.  Well, my friends, doubt no further.  Let me tell you a story of these five friends who wanted to start a music group.  They weren't all that talented to begin with, so that's where I stepped in and gave them a three wolves howling at the moon t-shirt.  And things have never been the same for them since:

You see, this t-shirt has powers beyond all possible comprehension.  And we now have one in our possession.  Daddy ordered one for a skit upcoming, one about the tribe of Benjamin, "a ravenous wolf."  The skit should be a lot of fun, playing off of the mystical power of the three wolves, one moon shirt.

Another thing Daddy got around to doing was this:

We named him Spike.  Daddy actually found him in the men's restroom, of all places.  The logistics involved are intriguing.  If only we could talk to this frog and ask it, "how did you get here?  What decisions led you to this moment?"  We did release him back into the wild, step one of our new frog recovery and release program.  Now, he's free - roaming the church grounds outside and protecting us from creatures that are slightly smaller than himself.  HOWEVER, I did find this motivational book a bit later on, which was basically telling us to do something entirely different with this frog.

That author Brian Tracy is crazy. 

ANYWAY, today Madison was with Mommy for the day while Daddy worked.  And these two were busy having some serious fun!  They went to the local library to a STEM elementary school program called "Treasure Trove."  Basically, we continued the pirate theme some more today, as kids looked for treasures in the sea.  They made crafts - and it appears as if we've been making these all summer:  all of the things made had a "ocean" theme to them, such as a jellyfish and a popsicle stick boat.  Another theme:  piracy.  Wednesday was the play, last night was the movie, and today the kids were teams of pirates on a scavenger hunt throughout the library!  Madison enjoyed it quite a bit, and the event actually lasted a bit longer than the last STEM class a few weeks ago.  Shortly afterwards, they did some grocery shopping and came home for a culinary epic feast!

Mommy grilled some squash that our friend Josh brought over (Josh's squashes!).  And, she cooked up some shrimp in a garlic sauce, and it was all served over a bed of rice that Mommy could eat - it was absolutely delicious.  The house smelled like a nice restaurant too!  Then she treated us further for dessert:  but she needed time to make it.  So Daddy and Madison went down to the swimming pool to have a bit more fun.  That is, at least until it rained.  Yes, it's been raining again.  Sounds like a broken record, doesn't it?  But we did get to have fun at the pool, which was nice.  Madison loves going to the pool!

We got home, and discovered dessert:  Mommy was making homemade ice cream, and she was using strawberries!  It was absolutely tasty!  Daddy and Madison both had two servings each, it was so good!

What a fun day it was today, but looking back over this summer, we've managed to really pack in a lot each day.  And we haven't even gone on any vacation yet either.  That we might do soon, but the reality is that this summer has been a big vacation for us, filled with fun and relaxation.  And there has been a lot of rain, but it's never interfered with our fun - so we're thankful we have it, and we're thankful for a most blessed summer!

And that's nothing to stick your tongue out at!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Ice

So it's July, and that's the perfect time for ice skating!

Some time ago, we got two pairs of ice skates from Goodwill, one for Daddy and one for Madison.  It happened that Madison's were double bladed and pink, so it seemed to be a bit of destiny that we'd be heading to the ice skating rink.  Daddy looked up the hours, and the next thing you know, we were making plans to go skating.

We stayed there quite some time!  The last time we went ice skating together was nearly three years ago, so it's safe to say we were a bit overdue.  Cut us some slack though, as we live in Georgia, where ice is not typically found outside of a refrigerator.

This made our discovery of the shoes all the more unique, and the challenge to go skating as soon as possible.  Fortunately, there's a place nearby us in Cumming called "The Ice."

Madison did very well on her skates, by the way.  By the time our two hours were up, she was skating around without having to hold Daddy's hands.  She fell a few times, but in her own words, "that's okay!"  We went around the rink a few times, and Daddy couldn't help but remember all the times he went skating growing up.  We'll have to take Madison a few more times - at least one more time to get our money's worth from buying the shoes.  But even so, today was a completely pleasant experience.  We'd wander around (or sometimes across) the rink together, and each time we made a lap, we'd get in on the benches where the hockey players would rest.  Once Madison dutifully wiped all the ice shavings off of her blades, it was time to return to the rink, our little Olympic champion.

On our way out Madison noted how the temperature was pretty cold in there.  Daddy remarked that it had to be that way, or else the ice would melt.  At which point Madison made one of the best jokes of her career:  "Then they'd have to call it 'The Water!'"

Earlier in the day, we made a different trip - this one to the library.  They had some puppet shows there, so we went to see what was going on there:  it was actually five different puppet shows, where the puppeteers would reenact different children's books, using monkeys, pigs, dogs, people, and even dinosaurs.  It was fun - Madison had a good time, laughing out loud from time to time.  Best of all, this one was free.  This library has been great with the activities for children.  In fact, tomorrow, Madison will be returning for another STEM class involving "treasure."

Such has been our theme this week:  last night, of course, she saw the "Treasure Island" play.  Tonight, we decided to watch "Treasure Planet" before turning in.  Mommy said this one was much better, although this has always been one of our favorite movies.  Madison enjoyed it of course!

Speaking of "enjoying" things, Mommy made this pizza tonight that was absolutely incredible.  We've been tinkering with her diet lately, and it's been a success.  It's been nearly two weeks since she's had any incident, so we're thinking that her digestive problems are related to gluten.  As in, she's trying out a gluten-free diet.  The difficulty has always been that her problems started the exact same time she had her surgeries and reversals after the cancer.  Doctors assumed this was all part of the "recovery process."  But no one has tested her for this, and maybe it was God that just put it into her spirit to check it out - a gluten free diet.  And here we are, two weeks later, and no problems at all.

Of course, there is sacrifice.  Certain foods have to be prepared completely differently.  Which brings us to dinner tonight:  pizza.  It was made gluten free.  Mommy rolled out the "dough" and added the toppings, and let's just say it was really good.  Daddy actually prefers it to any other pizza we have at home.

But Mommy wasn't through making amazing things to eat:  she had us try this watermelon sherbet she made.  Yes, she actually got the ice cream maker out (move over, Wilrow Hood!), and she made this wonderful watermelon sherbet that the three of us had two servings of each.  It was that good!

It was a full day, wasn't it?  Daddy and Madison even had time to play some Super Hero Squaddies for a bit - all the way up to our showing of "Treasure Planet."

One more thing:  one of the most memorable times Mommy and Daddy had seeing "Treasure Planet" was on a Disney Cruise.  Which kind of ties things together neatly, as today was the day we made a call to finalize some future travel plans... let's just say it'll be a spooky cruise!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Treasure Island

Well, the rain came back tonight, new and improved with big heavy clouds, lightning, thunder and lots of downpours.  July is 16 for 17 right now on rainy days, which is a really good average for downpours!  Torrents of rain plummeted down on us all in North Georgia, yet another heavy wave of storms that saturated the ground.  

Daddy was at the office for most of the day, but the great news was that Madison and Mommy got an invitation to a special place tonight - for free!  They got to go to... Treasure Island!

We were planning on going to see "Treasure Island" at the local community theater, but suddenly realized that we weren't quite able to.  And yet right after we figured that out, just as suddenly our friend Karen, who is in the production, extended an invitation for us to see a sneak preview of the performance ahead of time.  She did this last time when Mommy and Daddy went to see "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."  This time, it was the pirate play, "Treasure Island."  Madison dressed up as a pirate to go see the performance, as Daddy had fun with the services at KidPak.

This morning, we told Madison about the performance and getting to go see pirates.  Initially, she wasn't exactly thrilled - in fact she was crying a bit.  The reason?  She wanted to go do KidPak Jr. tonight!  We were pleasantly shocked to hear her desire to go to church - of course, we weren't going to deny her that if she really wanted to go.  But she weighed it out this morning, knowing she'd get to dress up like a pirate and see a bunch of other pirates pillage and plunder.  This opportunity would come once, and KidPak Jr. is going on every Wednesday and Sunday.  Additionally, Daddy is spending some Bible time with her each night now, so she carefully thought out all of these factors and decided "a pirate's life for me!"

Karen was tickled to see Madison right there in the front row, all dressed up as a pirate.  Though some of the pirate lingo may have been over her head, there were some other bits that had her cracking up.  Everything went well at the production, by all accounts, and afterwards, Madison came by the dressing room with Mommy to visit our friend.  She was quite happy Madison could make it, and glad she enjoyed the show.  Karen was already out of her costume by that point, so we didn't do any group pirate shot - but we usually get those on Sunday mornings anyway.  Karen is a big part of our children's ministry, doing a lot of wild characters for the kids - the most famous being the doughnut lady (someone quite obsessed with doughnuts).

In any event, Madison enjoyed the show, and came back rather late to the house with Mommy, making the drive in the pouring rain.  No doubt she'll be talking like a scurvy pirate all day tomorrow too!  Arrr!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Happy Blog Day!

Well, to be honest I wasn't sure if I could keep going, having a post on this blog for every single day.  Looking back, some days it was actually impossible to write on - vacation days in particular.  We'd still keep track of what we did those days, and then come back to jot them in this journal a bit later.  We didn't miss a day there.

The only time I think we missed a day (or two) was that stay at the hospital last year, when Daddy got pancreatitis.  At last count, I believe we're up to 1,455 posts.  That's about 1,455 days we've recorded something about, talking about the things we've done with Madison.

As written back then, the purpose of the blog is simple.  It's somewhat like a mission statement!


In July of 2008, our Madison came home with us from the trip of a lifetime in China. Since then, it's been a year filled with wonder and discovery - we've made the most of every moment.

Since then, we've taken many photographs of our adventures throughout the year. Yet still many of those special details that make up all the wonderful moments of her youth are gliding by, becoming more and more a distant memory.

This site is an attempt to capture all the happy details of our time with Madison, the most joyous time of our lives. Someday, our little princess can look back and learn about herself - or maybe even remember.  

In the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy reading and watching our beautiful daughter blossom before our eyes.


The "missing year," that is the one right after bringing Madison home, is covered with lots of photographs.  Those pictures, and the ones from the first year of this blog's existence, are amazing to look at.  How much our little girl has grown since then!  And it all goes by so quickly too.  It won't be long before another four years goes by.  And that's why this blog is here, to make every moment count, and enjoy every day of Madison's childhood - and to be able to share it all again with her later too!

Daddy will write more in this post a bit later - at the end of the day - but for the time being, here it is:  a recognition of the fact that on this day four years ago, we made a decision to record every precious day we've been given with our amazing, wonderful daughter.

Today, Daddy was at work printing thousands of items for future handouts.  But later on in the afternoon, he got a call from Mommy:  she said that Madison wasn't feeling well.  Something about her stomach.  With that thought in mind, Daddy raced home to spend some time with the family (and bring along some children's medication).

Rather than go to the pool, or anywhere else, we stayed at home on the couch.  Madison did get better, which was great to see.  But rather than risk anything, we stayed at home and went back to the land of the Marvel Super Hero Squad.  This X-Box game is one of Madison's favorites, similar to the Lego games.  She likes this one a lot because of all the characters.  Of course, Daddy likes the characters too. He likes the two-layer option as well.  Madison and Daddy work together to get through the various levels, trying out different heroes and villains.

We played that for a while, but soon it was time for bed.  Daddy wanted to make sure Madison got enough rest, because we got some neat news about a play tomorrow night.  We'll share that with you in a bit.

Tonight before bed though, Daddy read Madison a bedtime story.  This wasn't any ordinary story though - it was the Bible.  We got a special children's Bible, one where Daddy could sit and read stories from the Bible, from covereth to covereth.  Tonight, we covered some bits from early Genesis, including Adam & Eve, Cain and Abel, and then Noah.  It's done for the younger kids, so it's easier to read and understand.  But still, some of the concepts are heavy, and you could see Madison upset about Adam and Eve's choice.  A lot of us ever since were upset with that choice, of course.  But nobody's perfect except for Jesus, and that of course is the redemptive moment of the whole thing.  That part of the Bible will be quite some time from now, and it will be great reading until we get there.

Oh, one more item of note before turning in:  it did not rain today.  This is significant because here locally, we've had rain every day for weeks.  Yes, the sun was out, and reminding us what happens when the sun gets out:  it gets hot.  But we were okay with that for a bit, because the appearance of blue skies was simply marvelous.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Office Princess

Here's a little note we got that was just a neat blessing!


Hey guys,
                Just wanted to let you know that Madison completely ministered to me on Friday. I was sitting in my chair and I hear a little voice say “I love you.” I look over and Madison is sitting at my desk just telling me she loves me…out of nowhere. She then came over and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. After that she drew me a picture of me looking rather princess-y. The crown on my head reminded me that I am always God’s princess so to speak….she really blessed me. It might sound cheesy, but God completely used your daughter to speak His love to my heart. Just thought I’d let you know.


That's our Madison - she can be really sweet, can't she?  She can also be like a pro-wrestler!

This was found yesterday on Daddy's computer.  Madison simply loves the photobooth feature on the computer, and takes as many pics as possible. Here she is with another friend from church.  The two were goofing off there quite a bit.

Today was a quiet day - but the weather outlook was good.  Well, it was good.  Once again, it rained.  Yes, that's right:  we're still working on rain every day this month.

We went swimming around lunchtime, and had some fun down by the pool once more.  As Daddy is still working on getting Madison comfortable and learning to swim, Daddy challenged her to go from one end of the pool to the other (lengthwise) without touching the wall of using Daddy.  She had her floaties on, but she made it entirely from one side to the other, following the painted black line on the bottom and staying in her lane.  From one black cross to the other, she made the journey with lots of effort - not touching the side or using any person for help!  She didn't quite break any of Michael Phelps' records, but this was a big moment for her - and true to his word, Daddy gave her an ice cream later on before bed.

BUT ...today's rain snuck up on us though - while we were at the swimming pool!

Fortunately, there was no lightning and thunder around - so for a while, Madison and Daddy were actually swimming around in the pool (with quite a few others) while it was raining.  But then the rain started to get serious.  It started saying, "Oh, you're not taking me seriously, are you?"

Still no lightning, but the downpour was so heavy that we had to get out of the pool and retreat to our dry houses.  This sort of put a damper on other plans for the day - we actually thought about going out to do some swimming.  But we had the day together, so we decided to go ahead and do one thing early:  see another movie!

We saw "Despicable Me 2" together this afternoon, getting our usual spots in the back row.  The theater was pretty full, which goes to show how the economy is working here:  kids equal more tickets. Make a movie that kids can watch and you'll make more money this year.  Especially considering that the prices are going up on movies so much.  Fortunately, the location we go to in Cumming has been very good on pricing, with all sorts of deals and incentives.  We have a tub we take with us to the movies every time, and for half the usual price, they fill it up.  Usually, there's so much popcorn in there that it is difficult to finish with the three of us!  But Mommy always smuggles in some candy too, so we have a small feast in the back row there.  Another incentive is a card we carry that builds up rewards and so forth.  Today, we actually earned ourselves a free ticket for the next movie showing - these are just a few of the things that the other theaters are not doing right now.  And the reason why we keep going to this theater.  Plus all the people there are incredibly helpful - we're hooked on this theater now.

As for the movie, it was pretty good!  We saw part one last week just as a refresher course, and thought this movie was better than the original.  Without the minion characters, of course, it'd be another story.  They've struck gold with these extremely popular characters.

We did a little shopping after the movies, and got home a bit later than that.  The rain was on-and-off, these storms circulating around the area, just drenching us again.  But we got home and things were dry enough to have an incredible dinner cooked out.  Mommy got out the cedar planks, and Daddy actually cooked some salmon on the cedar planks, resting on the grill.  We had grilled chicken too - and asparagus, and baked potatoes.  It was an epic meal, one for the ages!

But it was late.  Daddy read a few books to Madison before bed, and yes, she got her ice cream too.  And soon it was time for bed.  Madison got to sleep early after hugs and kisses.  And Mommy and Daddy got into another game of Scrabble - one we didn't quite finish yet.  We were sort of getting sleepy before it was all said and done - but Daddy did get a rare bingo on a triple word score.  Anyway, so with smiles on our faces, we went to bed happy about another full day.