Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tinsel Town

Mommy's display case looks great - it's late here, but we're still working on the new series for tomorrow.  Here's the logo:

It should be pretty good!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Join us at KidPak this festive month as we look back on some of our very favorite holiday movies!  We'll relive those classic moments and learn a thing or two from the Bible, laughing all the way.  It's the most wonderful time of the year at KidPak - join us for Tinsel Town!

It was a long, long work day.  We did so much in plans for our service tomorrow, which has a theme of "Arthur Christmas," but some other surprises too.  Along the way, we were doing quite a bit of work on our new Christmas-themed stage, and cleaning out that prop room to the best of our ability.  We also got to play with some Light Brite sets for an upstairs illustration tomorrow.  We're not sure of the details, but we had fun doing our brief assignment:

Also, Madison was busy wrapping presents for our stage.  Although... maybe some of that wrapping needed a bit of help...

So it was a really full day.  Unfortunately, it didn't end for poor Madison when she got home.  She did go to bed with a cough, but that cough was relentless.  It kept going and going all night long.  Daddy actually moved in and slept on the floor next to her, periodically lifting her into a position that was more like sitting up in bed while sleeping - that way the drainage wouldn't be so much that she'd keep waking up gagging and coughing.  She was feverish all night long.  We had her on medication and something to help with the cough - but Daddy and Madison didn't get as much sleep as we'd like.  By Sunday afternoon, if this is still around, we'll have to head back to the doctor's office for sure.  One thing is certain:  Sunday will be a real day of rest for Madison.  She and Mommy will stay at home and stay warm - and probably stay medicated.

Again, we consider the timing.  Hate to see anyone ill, but being ill on a holiday or on a vacation or special trip is another matter.  Fortunately, the timing is such that we can simply rest tomorrow.  Or, at least Madison can rest tomorrow.  As for Daddy, he's got a big service tomorrow with not much sleep.  It will be a great one though - we're ready to head to Tinsel Town!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Madison has a little sign hanging on her doorknob.  It reads "Madison is in" on one side, and on the other:  "Madison is out."  We have no idea where she got this idea, but each night she turns it around before going into the room - and each morning she turns it back.

Today, we were all collectively "out" for a bit.  It was a day of recovery for some, while Mommy was still facing some of the symptoms of this stomach flu.  Nobody got up early to go shopping today, although Daddy did venture out a little later to check on some sales.  He was 75% successful, that is to say he got 3 out of 4 of the items he was looking for.  And, of course, there are always those extra items you wind up getting that you didn't intend on getting.

But he quickly returned home, where Nana and Ba-Ba were with Madison.  Nana was still recovering a bit as well, and Ba-Ba never once felt any of the symptoms.  Good for him!

We didn't do much today, outside of playing games and watching Christmas movies.  We're doing a series based on Christmas movies in December (which starts on Sunday!), and there was a recent request to do a message based on the movie "Arthur Christmas."  We watched that one a bit, scouring for ideas, and then continued the Christmas-movie marathon by watching "The Preacher's Wife."  Mommy really likes that movie, especially the soundtrack.

Daddy was looking online for deals because it is Black Friday.  But he didn't see any deal for any of the items he was looking for.  Perhaps on "Cyber Monday," as it is now called.  I think it has been called that for the past five years or so - it's the internet alternative to Black Friday.  Instead of racing out and buying all kinds of stuff in person at stores on Friday, people sit on their computers and order stuff online on Monday.  In a similar theme, tomorrow is "Small Business Saturday."  We'll be working hard at our new service on Sunday, but we might find time to go to a small business.  In the old days, Mommy and Daddy used to go to a small business all the time:  a coffee shop.  There were two of them, and we'd frequent them all the time.  We'd sit and play Scrabble while sipping from our hot drinks on a cold night - a perfect date night.  But in came Starbucks, and those small businesses were gone.

We should check out Gainesville Square tomorrow, and just walk around.  If we have time - and if everyone's feeling better.  It's been a tough day for Mommy, but we're grateful that all of us were well enough for all the other fun things we've been doing lately.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Here we are together - Madison's adopted family:  parents, grandparents, a great-grandparent and a dog.   Thanksgiving is such a holiday that it brings entire families together that way.  Aunt Shain and her family were with her in-laws in Florida this week, and probably a lot warmer.  And safer.  For one thing, the temperature today made for the coldest Thanksgiving since 1911.  The other thing was the "outbreak."  It started with Daddy at roughly 2 am.  It was some sort of stomach flu that turned to fever that turned to exhaustion and sore bones and muscles.

But we were blessed things happened as they did.  Despite the fever, Daddy was able to enjoy everyone's company for a very pleasant afternoon.  Mommy was masterful as always with the turkey - and gluten-free gravy this time around.  Nana and Ye-Ye came with stuffing, pie and ice - and one great grandmother too.  We might not have had to worry about asking them to bring ice, as all we probably had to do is put water in ice trays out on the back porch.  It would have frozen, easily.

But it was warm inside.  Cooking a turkey for such a prolonged time in that kitchen does that.  It was nice and toasty inside, even more warm with family all around.  Everything was set at the long table, and after a prayer of thanks, we loaded up the plates once more.

It was a perfectly nice Thanksgiving.  It started out with all of us watching the parade, catching Cirque du Soleil and Mickey Mouse.  And it continued through the most epic meal of the year, cooked by Daddy's favorite chef.  Family talked and shared and laughed, and then ate some more when it was time for pumpkin pie.  Madison was pretty excited the entire day - despite a persistent cough.  She was playful with all the grandparents, quite giddy that everyone was here.

After everyone was gone, we watched "Miracle on 34th Street" once again, and were preparing for bed.  Daddy was getting a bit better, but that's just about when two more of us fell victim to this plague.  Mommy and Nana Green both started showing worse symptoms, which made for a long night.  Sometimes it just happens. And it's easy to look at the bad, but looking back on this day, we refuse to see a holiday spoiled.  The timing of all of it was perfect in that we could relax and enjoy each other's company, and the following day - Black Friday - is an off day for all of us.  So there's an opportunity for rest, relaxation and recovery.  And the other positively wonderful thing to be incredibly grateful about:  Madison was protected - shielded - from this dreadful virus.  It was a nasty bug, and even though she was coughing on and off throughout the day, she never clenched her stomach or ran to the bathroom with nausea.

And, of course, beyond that there is plenty more to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Christmas Tree

Our bonus room is transforming before our eyes!  Just today, Nana and Ba-Ba went back to Goodwill to pick up a Christmas tree that everyone spotted yesterday for only $25.  That's right, the tree above was just $25, and it's got to be 8 or 9 feet tall.  It's actually realistic looking (until you see that stem on the bottom), with a frosted appearance, complete with pine cones and the bonus is that it is pre-lit.  We set it up in the bonus room, which has already started changing in appearance lately - you can see our fake fireplace over there (parallel to the real fireplace in the next room over), and a beautiful picture we bought of the Nativity after last Christmas.  Daddy got that for only $30, and I just love the thing.  Can't wait to hang it up there.  Anyway, with the rest of the furniture slowly getting into place, this room is looking pretty nice, isn't it?  Notice the amaryllis on the left, next to the lamp?  We got that about a week ago, and the stem is growing upwards at a pretty decent rate.  I imagine we'll be seeing it bloom before Christmas, even with the outrageously cold weather outside.

Madison loves the tree too.  We decided to put all the "rustic" ornaments on it, those made of wood, or have that general look of being found in a national park, or a Bass Pro Outlet at least.  We moved the one tree skirt over to this tree - which you can see Madison wearing above.  This is a tradition at Christmas time, isn't it?  The wearing of the tree skirt!

So, to sum up:  we now have FOUR Christmas trees in our house.  Three of them are pre-lit, and rather convenient:  the one you see above, Madison's small pink tree for upstairs, and the one that Nana and Ba-Ba brought up from Florida last trip.  That one used to be in this room, but honestly this new tree is much nicer.  SO, the other pre-lit tree may actually find it's way into our bedroom believe it or not!  Daddy is considering taking all the Star Wars ornaments off the main tree and creating his own Star Wars Christmas tree!  We're still in talks about what to do with this bonus tree.

But what a blessing!  Mommy has always wanted a big full tree to put in front of that window, so that you could see a Christmas tree from outside.  Soon, other decorations will go up as well, and the house will be quite festive!

But Thanksgiving is first.  Can you believe it is in the twenties again?  According to meteorologists, this will be the coldest Thanksgiving since 1911.  The wind was bitterly strong today, instantly making you regret your decision to walk outside.  Mommy spent most of the day inside with Madison, preparing food for the big day tomorrow.  In fact, all we have to do is put the turkey in early, and we should be mostly good to go.  Of course, there'll be a lot of decorating and so forth.  Daddy will finish one room, drag a big table into another, and we'll be doing a bit of cleaning up.  But it will be a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Madison is looking forward to it, for a couple of reasons.  Of course, she looks forward to spending time with her grandparents.  But the other reason is that we're planning to see "Frozen" tomorrow night at the movies.  Talk about an appropriate title:  just walking from the car to the theater, we'll be in danger of becoming FROZEN!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Carolers

Mommy opened the door - and would you just look at these Christmas carolers?  This morning we were filming for KidPak, and the four of us guys sang all sorts of songs for Madison and Mommy when they opened the door for us.  However, we wouldn't leave Mommy alone - in the video, we keep ringing that door bell and relentlessly singing Christmas carols.  In the end, Mommy drives off in a panic, with the Christmas carolers chasing her down the street.

It just so happens that Mommy was leaving at that point, taking Madison with her - and Nana and Ba-Ba - on a trip to a few Goodwills around the place.  But before that point, we had some fun filming in the house.  It was a chilly, chilly morning - and wet as well.  The rain poured down very heavily for a good part of the day.  For atmosphere, and for a nice source of heat, we had the fireplace going.  Chris, Madison and Kellan were warming up there, but stopped to pose for a photo:

Daddy and the others went to work as Madison, Mommy, Nana and Ba-Ba went to Goodwill.  This is a tradition, but as we're close to Christmas, it's just one of those phrases that pops up:  "Goodwill towards man."  Madison actually found some Christmas carol books there, a collection of three complete with a CD of Christmas music - so on the way home, everyone in the car was singing Christmas carols.  I guess it was just that kind of day!

Meanwhile, Daddy was at work for most of the day.  We did have our annual KidPak Office Thanksgiving today, and a lot of people showed up with all kinds of food.  It was all very tasty, and just a pleasant time to get together and talk, and try new foods too.

It just never stopped raining.  It's supposed to be bitterly cold tomorrow.  We were snuggling on the couch tonight, watching a few more Christmas movies.  First, with Madison, we watched the "Charlie Brown Christmas" special.  Then, after prayers and bedtime, Mommy and Daddy watched "The Bells of St. Mary's."  The wind is picking up outside, and the rain is still coming down in the cold darkness.  I don't envy anyone out in this tonight - we prayed for safe traveling for people this evening.  According to forecasts, it will be a very difficult time to travel.  This is bad, because the timing of Thanksgiving travels and a super cold storm of this sort will wreak havoc.  There's other disturbing news in the Middle East as well, but what else is new?  That's the sort of thing that will always happen, I suppose.  We just have to keep doing our best, and praying for peace on earth.  And yes, for goodwill towards men.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What does the fox say?

     What did this fox say?  In the puppet show we saw today, he said, "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!  Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!  Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!"  

This of course was a huge hit with the kids.  The fox, the deer and all of the animal friends in the puppet show were all excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving feast, and they all wanted the turkey to come along as well.  Naturally, the turkey was a little apprehensive about such an invitation.  In fact, he had to be dragged there, clawing at the ground and fighting every step of the way.  When he arrived there, he was quite relieved to see that the invitation was for him to come and eat with them.  So it was a happy ending for everyone involved.

If you're wondering what this was a part of, here's the details:  we went to the Hampton Park Library again for their Turkey Day Tales.

This was a lot of fun for the kids.  Storytellers read from Thanksgiving-themed books, and others lead the kids in turkey dances.  The room was filled with families and smiles - and the "big finish" was the puppet show, which was based on a story found in the library.  In fact, all the books read were from the library, and there were a few more on the table there in the room.  Madison and Daddy checked out a few of them, including one about Thelonius Turkey.  This is the one Daddy read before bedtime - Madison enjoyed it.

We checked out a few movies too - it's been a while since our last visit to the library.  Once the school season starts, it's difficult to make time for such a short trip, especially with ballet, piano and tennis.  AND all seasonal festivities.  But this trip was well worth it!

We pretty much finished decorating the tree today - it was ugly weather outside.  We were initially planning on a trip out somewhere together, but the weather was such that we were best left indoors.  Besides, Mommy needed to finish up her Thanksgiving grocery shopping, which she did for the most part.  The turkey, of course, has been captured and is resting in the refrigerator.

Nana and Ba-Ba were here to play "Old Maid" and "Go Fish" with, which is a never-ending delight for Madison, who is constantly on the look-out for cheaters, although we're a little suspicious of her as well sometimes.

All the while today, Madison had all kinds of Christmas movies playing throughout the day - this while helping decorate the tree.  We watched the Beauty and the Beast Christmas, and a few other Christmas cartoons as well.  Mickey's Clubhouse was in there once, as well as a few of the movies Madison brought home from the library.  There was simply no way anyone was going outside today - and it looks like that will be the case tomorrow as well.  Fortunately, the weather seems to be more clear on Thanksgiving - although some cold and wet are coming in with abundance over the next few days.  We'll see how that turns out!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Gift 2013

It was a turkey of a day, as you can see above - Daddy is the turkey, his friend Joey a Pilgrim, and right there in the middle is Madison in the KidPak Jr. classroom.  Thanksgiving was the theme of the day, a morning of giving thanks, and a pretty chilly one too!  Daddy was outside in that turkey costume, and quite frigid.  But it was good fun for everyone, and of course the kids loved the costumes.  The adults did too - that turkey costume is pretty goofy.

After church, it was time for what has become another really nice tradition.  We went to go see "The Gift" at what used to be the Georgia Mountain Center.  It is now owned by Brenau, so I'm not entirely sure what it is called anymore.  But I do know this:  the production was wonderful.  This time around, we stayed for both acts, as we felt Madison was old enough to make it, and understand the things presented.  Here's another tradition:  the photo of Mommy and Madison together in their seats!

We got there a little later, but it was as if God Himself saved our seats for us.  We always sit in the same place, and despite the crowd there, our seats were empty.

Here is one of Madison's favorite parts - going back to her first viewing a few years ago.  She loves these little lamb costumes, and how the lambs sneak out into the daughter's room.  With every motion, Madison and Mommy were recognizing different positions and ballet maneuvers.  It is quite literally a foreign language to Daddy.

What is most special about this performance, of course, is the subject matter.  It is a worship service, done with dance.  Their mission statement is:

"Let them praise His name with dance."  Psalm 149:3

And that's what they do.  One of the co-directors said this may have been their nineteenth year doing this - she'd lost count.  We've been going about ten years now - maybe more?  I'm not entirely sure.  But it a tradition we're happy to support and attend each and every November, as the Christmas season gets closer.  Here's Mommy's favorite bit, where the Wise Men come out on point, giving their crowns to the king of Kings:

You can't help but smile at the end of this.  We see the Easter story in the second act, during which Madison was quite focused.  When Jesus "rises" from the tomb, there is a great celebration on stage - and in the audience as well.  It is a truly uplifting performance!

After the show, there was still a great deal of celebration more:  Nana and Ba-Ba were on their way up from Florida.  Boy, were they in for a shock:  the temperature was in the twenties tonight, which is quite a difference from any of the usual weather in Florida.  They arrived a bit later, so in the meantime we set up a fire in the fireplace, and pulled out some decorations, hanging them on the tree.  We didn't quite finish when the grandparents did finally pull up into the driveway.  

To warm everyone up, Mommy had prepared her incredible chili recipe.  Everyone's spirits were bright, and because of the incredibly busy day, we were all ready for a silent night!  Goodnight!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Riders in the Sky

What a great picture!  Here's Madison with the Riders in the Sky, a fantastic group of singing cowboys probably most famous for the song "Woody's Roundup," from "Toy Story 2."  This afternoon was perfectly nice - we went over to Dahlonega, and got there a little early.  We found a parking space right there on the square, and spent a good amount of time walking around, looking through stores and shops.  Everything was decorated for the season, making it such a great time.  One store front even had a Mr. Narwhal in their window!

We found a few gifts for Christmas, and soon enough, it was time to head over to the concert at the Holly Theater.  We'd never been before, but it was a great time.  The place is a little small, particularly the lobby - but the show itself was fantastic.  It had a Christmas feel to it, with Christmas songs from their holiday album - including one of our favorites by them, "Corn, Water and Wood."  But the other standards were there, and a lot of humor too!  Madison was laughing loud enough for everyone to hear at points, particularly when Too Slim was playing his "face."  The music was great for kids and adults, and the bonus was afterwards, when the band met with fans in the lobby afterwards.  We got that picture taken above, which is just fantastic.  They even signed our CD for us, which is the perfect souvenir!  Great job guys - we can't say enough about Riders in the Sky.  That was technically Madison's first concert, and she enjoyed every moment.

After the concert, it was to Wal-Mart for a bit of Christmas shopping, and then home - we had a few Christmas movies cued up, the fire in the fireplace and the blankets on the couch set up for cuddling.  It was a perfectly Christmassy sort of day!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tree is up!

Well, we got the tree up - and we've got some lights on it as well!  Tonight was a good night to start the process, although we did have to go out and get some new lights this year.  We tried the old ones out, and sadly, they're gone.

Today was a bit of work, but it was a good day overall.  It was Madison's last day at school until Fall Break, which is next week.  She's got the entire week off of school, which she'll enjoy.  We ourselves might be a bit too busy for more elaborate plans, but we'll still have family with us - Ba-Ba and Nana are coming up from Florida this Sunday.  We'll also probably finish this tree.  Tonight, the lights are up,  and things are quite nice and cozy.  We had time to watch a Christmas movie before bedtime - "Babes in Toyland."  We watch this each year, and Madison chose this one over the other Christmas movies.

A word about school:  Madison is acing all her tests.  She nails every grade-appropriate spelling list, and with a little practice, can get quickly all of her advanced words too.  She's already studying the second grade sight words, and knows quite a few of those pretty quickly.

We've ordered a few books for her through the school, but we are now at a point where there's such a thing as getting books that are too easy to read.  We did get some Christmas-themed ones, so Daddy is excited about reading those before bedtime.  Yes, we've been reading a lot before bedtime.  Daddy is reading all kinds of Christmas books, and Thanksgiving ones as well.  But Madison has picked up from the library a few books that actually don't have much in the pictures department.  Yes, she's reading pages that don't have pictures.  We're very proud of her learning - she's incredibly bright.  Of course, that's just Mommy and Daddy talking, but still!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big Hands

Madison has a few large-sized hands here - I think these things date back to the first "Hulk" movie in 2003.  These were followed up by variations, one for the Thing of Fantastic Four, and reincarnated each year for different movies featuring characters with hands of unusual size.  The latest installment is for Wreck-it Ralph, although I don't think these hands shown above are for that movie.  The reason is the cup holder in the hand.  This ginormous hand is really an oversized cup holder.  It's terribly impractical, when you actually use it.  It completely makes one hand useless outside of holding a drink. But at the same time, as shown above, it looks pretty funny!

One note before moving on:  it's about giving someone a "big hand."  Madison gives an applause the same way lately.  Somewhere recently she's learned the "round of applause" joke, where you move your clapping hands around in a circle.  She's incapable of simply clapping for someone anymore.  Every event, she claps her hands in this ginormous circle.

We've been shopping, wrapping, and even finishing up our Christmas cards today.  Can you believe we're done with all our Christmas cards already?  We'll probably mail them out the day before Thanksgiving, so they'll get out there and surprise everyone right after that holiday weekend.  Thanksgiving is one week away, which is harder to believe every year.  Everyone always wonders how this season comes up on us so fast, even though it happens like this once a year.  The direct translation is how does time go by so fast?  Answer this, and you've solved one of the great mysteries of life.  If only we could slow things down a bit.

We spend some time cleaning the basement up today, and just generally cleaning the house up.  It was ballet day today too, so Daddy picked up Madison from school and took her to Brenau for a bit of dancing.  He's been completely sucked into this Mayflower book while she's been in there dancing.  She's learning quite a bit, always anxious to show Mommy a new move that she's learned afterwards.  This Sunday, we're going to see a bit of ballet, so it'll be nice to show her some ballerinas doing all sorts of moves with French names that Daddy can never get right!

We stopped at Wendy's on the way home, which is always a delight for Madison.  Mommy was a little under the weather today, so we stopped by and picked up some chili for her, and some meals for Daddy and Madison.  This way, we could all just take it easy for dinner, instead of Mommy having to cook something up.

Afterwards, it was time for Kung Fu Panda's Christmas, which is another fun Christmas special.  It takes place in China, which means there really isn't so much of a Christmas in it directly, but at the same time, there is an acknowledgement of the importance of families.  And some snowball fights.

We read a few books before bedtime, which came early for all of us - Daddy too.  Some winter nights you just want to crawl under some big blankets and snooze.  Tonight was one of them.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

That's a Good Story

Here's a photo of Daddy, Kellan and Lance - off to see the Wizard.  This is for a video that we'll show this week, about working together, and staying together.  We've had a bit of "Wizard of Oz" this year, haven't we?  It's a theme that keeps popping up, and here it is again this week.  

A long work day for Daddy, but he went home earlier than normal, and managed to get to the house before Madison had actually fallen asleep.  It was sweet - she called out to me as I got in the door.  Daddy went upstairs, and told her a long story - a made-up one - about her and her friends, living in their ice castle and having an ice party.  Afterwards, Daddy gave her a kiss on the cheek.  Madison told me, "That's a good story."  What a great compliment.  It's hard to get any better than that!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Recital 2013

It was Madison's Fall Recital today, and she did very well as she played "Morning" for everyone.  She also sang "Tingo Layo," and was simply adorable.  Mommy dressed her up very nicely, and the entire presentation went very well - all the kids have come so far.  The calculation from each of them is that this is their fourth recital.  So in a way, this was somewhat routine for them.

But for visiting parents and relatives, it was pretty special to see the children perform so nicely.  Here is Madison's solo footage:

Mrs. Pam has been an excellent teacher - the three of us really enjoy her class.  Mommy, Madison and Daddy have been going to her class now for two years, and all of us have been learning and having fun together.  The exciting news for Madison was that she didn't have a practice sheet for the next few weeks, but Daddy still wants her to practice a few of her other songs, in an attempt to master everything and catch up (we got slightly behind in October and have been catching up ever since).

Daddy was at work for a good part of the day, but Mommy was there for Madison as always after school.  We got some of Madison's classwork assignments, and she's been doing so incredibly well.  The big thing is her spelling - it's been spot on.  And her math skills are increasing exponentially!  If anything, she needs to stop and read the instructions more carefully, but once you set her off on any assignment, she's totally focused on getting it done, and as perfectly as possible.

We are so proud of her.  We told her as much repeatedly today - her reply was giving each of us a hug. Tonight after dinner, we fulfilled another movie request:  we hopped on board the Polar Express!

At just the right time, Mommy had hot chocolate ready for us, and during many of the songs, Madison was singing along.  She's especially fond of the song, "When Christmas Comes to Town."  She immediately - and uncontrollably - starts singing along with that one immediately.  We've had it in the car on the playlist, and she always stops what she's doing to sing along.

It was time for bed afterwards, and that was nearly for all of us, actually.  The weather is chilly again, and it's time to get under those layers of blankets!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our Little Pocahontas

Tonight we put some of the Christmas movies aside to focus on Thanksgiving a little bit.  "Pocahontas" is not a Thanksgiving movie so much, but it does feature the Indians and settlers, and their struggles to get along.

Of interest is that an associate of John Smith, a guy named Thomas Hunt, did go out and capture some Indians, among them the Indian Squanto.  When Squanto returned to North America, he of course became involved in the story of America's first Thanksgiving.  So in a way, there is a connection of sorts.

And no commentary please about how the movie "Pocahontas" isn't entirely true.  My initial response to that has always been, "Oh, so you're saying willow trees don't talk?"  Which is code for:  "Duh?"

Anyway, it's a great movie - or at least the 10th anniversary version is great.  They brought back a song cut at the last minute, "If I Never Knew You," which adds a lot to things, certainly on an emotional level.  That song, and the other one from "Beauty and the Beast," ("Human Again") are add-ons that added a lot for these movies.  We were glad to see the additions, despite the fact that they weren't in the original movie shown in theaters.

Recently, these same movies have come out on Blu-Ray - and both have eliminated these extra scenes and songs completely.  There is no option to see them either.  I have no idea why they aren't even an optional feature anymore - but there's your reason for not purchasing the newer versions.  Stick with the 10th Anniversary version of "Pocahontas."

Madison likes this movie too.  We didn't see it last year, but we made time to do so this year.  Madison made the request last week, so we made sure we put it on the schedule this week - early on.  To honor the occasion, she put on her complete Pocahontas costume - the one she wore for Halloween two years ago.  She even has the blue necklace, and a small Indian purse.  After cooking up some popcorn, she was officially ready!

Today the weather was warm.  Can you believe it?  Warm!  Last week we were around twenty degrees and today the temperature was around 70 degrees, and warm enough that we had the back door open up.  It was such a beautiful day outside, so no complaints here.  Tomorrow it'll dip back down into the weather we're expecting this time of year, but it was nice to get outside and enjoy it some.

Daddy went to the hospital to visit a friend, and did some fall cleaning in the basement - arranging things about, really.  Mommy was busy with laundry and housecleaning as well.  It was a day to reset and catch up a little.  It was also a day to rest - both of us were rather zonked from the weekend.  And the pace is about to pick up a bit too, of course.  So it was good to stay at the house for the most part, and get rested.  Next week is Thanksgiving, and next week we'll be hosting:  all the grandparents are coming, and one great-grandparent is coming, so we'll have a good number with us for the holiday.  It'll be great!

But today was great too.  Tonight before bed, we kept the theme going by reading a few Thanksgiving-related books.  The first one is "Off to Plymouth Rock," which is a fantastic short book for kids.  Another one is "Thanks for Thanksgiving," which focuses more on things to be thankful for.  Both just put you in that frame of mind.

Meanwhile, Daddy is reading a book called "Mayflower," which has been very fascinating - it details the Pilgrims so much further, and really puts you there at the scene.  Tonight was an early night - we went to bed a bit earlier this evening, pulling out a good book and reading another few chapters before going off to sleep.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall Crafts

Here below are just some of the crafts that Madison made today:

She spent the afternoon with Ye-Ye and Nana, which sort of turned into a Fall Camp, where she and her cousin Hannah spent some time playing with toys and watching Equestria Girls, but then spent a whole lot more time, evidently, making these fall crafts.  Ye-Ye is always prepared with neat ideas for Madison to do, so that when Mommy and Daddy came over to pick Madison up, she had this entire art gallery to present to us.  It was just like dropping her off at camp!

So where were Mommy and Daddy?  They went off for a date this afternoon:

No, it wasn't the restaurant you see above.  That's actually a screen capture from the Thor movie, "The Dark World," which came out last week.  It's another Marvel movie, so therefore we went out to see it. Daddy has been itching to go see this one, just like he'll be itching to see the next Captain America movie, "The Winter Soldier."

The movie was decent, although I think I liked the last one a tiny bit better.  Not to say this one was bad in any way.  It's just preference, I suppose.  Obviously, you have to stay until after the credits.  I would say more on this one than others, as something sort of relevant to the movie occurs after the credits.  I can't believe so many people walked out of the theater and missed that.  By now, you just have to know it is near mandatory to stay after the credits of a Marvel movie!

This morning, of course, was church.  The three of us had a great morning there, learning to be like Mario and putting things "under our feet."  Madison always enjoys KidPak Jr., even this morning when the guest speaker was none other than Pastor Brock, who switched places with Halston (who was speaking with the older kids).  Brock used Madison in an illustration, which of course was a big deal for Madison:  she mentioned it quite a few times afterwards!

It was raining a lot today, although not as harshly as it could have been.  The overcast weather kept the heat energy down so that the threatening weather calmed down quite a bit by the time it reached us.  To that extent, we were highly blessed.

Tonight's feature presentation is "Miracle on 34th Street," the newer version.  Mommy and Daddy have the fire in the fireplace again, snuggled together and watching a Christmas movie.  Madison went to bed a little earlier tonight, but not before practicing her recital songs.  She does well when she's focused on the task at hand, which sometimes requires Daddy standing right behind her, encouraging her forward.  Sometimes that's something all of us need though, isn't it?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happy Birthday G-Gma!

Today was a nice day for a drive, over the river and through the woods - to Grandmother's house we went!  It was technically Madison's great-grandmother, but that's too many syllables to sing in that song.  It was to celebrate her 85th birthday, and also somewhat of an early Thanksgiving celebration.  Everyone brought a different food item, and despite the gloomy weather outside, our spirits were warm inside the house.  It was there that we spent a few hours talking, eating and of course opening cards and gifts.  And then eating again.

In a few weeks we'll see her again as she comes up for Thanksgiving to our house, but it was good to see her again for her birthday.  The drive to White County was quick and scenic.  Mommy and Daddy plugged in Christmas music, and the three of us drove through Dawson and Lumpkin Counties to get up there to Cleveland.  This was the place where Daddy went to high school, and lived for a bit - so there was a lot of looking back at landmarks and so forth.  With no actual people around, the connections are somewhat lost - but many memories still remain.  Madison spent a good deal of time looking out the window as the scenery went by, although on the way back she was very much into her Leapster Explorer.  That's her weapon of choice lately on these drives, although the Kindle makes appearances as well.

Daddy went to work to set up a skit for tomorrow, one that features Pac Man, Inky and Blinky.  It's pretty short, and certainly quirky.  But it should be a bit of fun, as the kids like slapstick and that's all Pac Man is when it comes down to it.  There is always someone chasing someone else around.

Ah, Pac Man.  More memories there - when I was in middle school, I had Pac Man sheets on the bed.  I loved that pattern, and can remember the Christmas that I got it.  I would love to see that pattern again - I might even consider putting it on our bed!  Although Mommy might veto that idea...

     Like Pac-Man, sometimes we may feel like we're always being chased around by problems! God's Word can empower us though – picture Pac-Man gobbling up some power, and suddenly chasing away those troubles. He's got something in him, and now he's the one in control!
     Life is still an adventure, but when we gobble up God's Word, we'll feel a bit more in charge, won't we? Think of, reread, and write down some of your favorite scriptures and promises of God. They'll give you power!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tacky Christmas Sweaters

Tonight we were blessed with a fun opportunity - a free trip through the Lake Lanier Magical Nights of Lights!  Their only condition was this:  someone in your party must wear a tacky Christmas sweater.  As Mommy has been collecting a few on the side this year, this was no problem for the three of us (as you can see above!).  Before going out for the night, the three of us posed for a self portrait in the living room (Daddy set the timer and got into position quickly!).  Madison brought Lotso the bear along with us for the ride.

It was raining outside - just a little, really.  It was also pretty chilly.  A lot of people were there, but that's okay, because it's just a single file line through the park, and we're not in a hurry to get through.  The idea is to take your time, listen to Christmas music in your car and look at all the unique light displays.  Madison enjoyed all of them, and sang along with us when we did a few Christmas carols.  We were going very slowly past the "12 Days of Christmas" displays, so we were actually able to sing the entire song together there!

Everyone's favorite part is the snowflake tunnel, but there are still plenty of other lights to see.  We haven't been in maybe two years, so there were a few extra things here or there - such as some retro-rainbow trees and lights along the bridges.  But a lot of the old lights were still there, including the "Wizard of Oz" set, which of course delighted Madison.

We did stop in the village afterwards, but not for long.  We looked around and saw some nice ornaments and toys, but so did a squillion other people.  It was pretty crowded there!  We got back to the car and rode through the rest of the park slowly, looking all around at the lights all about.  Soon after that, Madison was napping in the back seat - it was a late night again!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mega Wrap

One of Madison's presents this year will take a long time to open up.  We were sitting by the fire this morning, wrapping presents - although Daddy was just wrapping one.  Over and over again.

This will be the first mega-wrap experience for Madison, so Daddy's kind of excited about it.  This sort of thing used to be fairly common place though - we were mega-wrapping people's presents in high school.  One Christmas in particular, Daddy exchanged gifts with a good friend and it took us both about twenty minutes to get to the actual gift.  This was during class too, with everyone looking on.

But the mega-wrapping theme sort of grew out of fashion for a time.  After all, if it is expected, then where's the fun in that?  So we went through more elaborate attempts to make it difficult to get into a gift.  One gift was inside a hard coating of plaster.  We had to drop it off a two story building over a parking lot to open that one.  Tiny needles pointing outward made it difficult to open another present, which had to be handled with care.

Then came the burying.  One present was buried somewhere in White County, and the recipient of the gift was given a map, and directions on how to get there.  This evolved to a more distant location next, which eventually made the leap to the scavenger hunt system, where the recipient was forced to go from one point to the next, finally getting his gift at the final destination, usually someone's house.  The ultimate next point, however, came one summer when we actually got into a car and drove to Kansas.  Our friend was following his map, going from one point to the next, when all of the sudden, the next part of the scavenger hunt told him to drive to a rest stop in Kansas.

We never thought he'd actually go to get it.  But along came Daddy's birthday.  And all he got was a video tape.  So he plugged in the tape, and at the birthday party with everyone around, Daddy was utterly shocked to see that not only did he go to Kansas to get his gift, he also left one for me - in Colorado!

So about two years later, we actually made the trip out to Colorado - and yes, the present was still there.  It was a statue of Maleficent, a nice gift in itself.  But all along, the point of these has always been the experience in getting the gifts.  Since then, presents have been left in places like Key West or Hungry Mother State Park.  And the recipient is always left with an epic journey to retrieve the gift, usually with some of the same friends that snuck the thing out there to begin with.

Even this, though, had it's limitations.  The next logical step would be international travel, as the gifts would get further and further away - and more difficult to recover.

So rather than take the gift giving in that direction, we chose other ideas instead.  At one point, we decided to "get to know" White County a bit better.  We obtained a map, and buried twenty-five items at twenty-five different places.  We gave one of our friends a map with the twenty-five places, and told him that one of those places had a big gift.  All the other places had game pieces that read "GAME OVER, PLEASE TRY AGAIN."  In our defense, these other places also had some loose change to help pay for gas.  Eventually, that friend did find his gift, and several other game pieces.  But to this day, buried in many places of White County, there are game pieces wrapped and sealed with plastic and a few coins, each one saying, "GAME OVER, PLEASE TRY AGAIN."

There have been many prank gifts since then - too many to list.  A Beholder-themed party tops the most obscure of themes.  But there was also the year of Hexxen.  This game for the N64 was fairly dark and mundane, and certainly not anything I would voluntarily purchase.  Which made it perfect fodder for a year of jokes involving this game.  The highlight would have to be the time we gave one friend a cartridge of a game he actually wanted - and yet we were able to switch out the data chip inside the cartridge.  We replaced the good game with - you guessed it:  "Hexxen."  He didn't discover this until the next morning when he went to plug in the game he was wanting to play, only to discover it was Hexxen.

So back to today.  Or, at least Christmas Day coming up:  Madison will experience her first mega-wrapping moment.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Freeze Frame

Here's Daddy saying goodnight to Madison tonight - again on Skype.  It is one of those days here, an all-day affair.  And... it's cold.  Real cold.  The good news is that RaceTrak, the gas station across the street from teh church, is giving away free coffees, teas and hot chocolate.  At one point, the entire KidPak staff hopped in cars and went there for some free hot chocolate.  And RaceTrak wasn't messing around either:  they have these large containers to put your hot beverage into, each one roughly the size of both of your kidneys put together.  Daddy had so much hot chocolate in one sitting, with one cup, that he decided to never have hot chocolate again this month.

But I know that will be back probably tomorrow!

So Madison watched some more Christmas movies, and of course she had her tennis class today too.  This is where that "indoor tennis lessons" bit really pays off!  It was pretty chilly outside, and yet she was nice and warm inside.  Furthermore, there weren't as many kids in class today, so she had more time to run around.  And according to Mommy, she really ran around.  And she did well in class too - her skills are greatly improving.  Next time she faces off against Daddy, there might be a problem on Daddy's end in keeping up!

Tomorrow is a field trip for Madison.  They are going to see the Forsyth County High School perform "The Little Mermaid Jr."  There is also a trip to a public park planned, which hopefully will have the students seeing slightly warmer temperatures.  At least it isn't raining at the moment - that's due to come in for the weekend.  Of course, it rains once the temperature goes up.  This is the pattern for years, where the precipitation arrives after the temperature begins to go up.  But it's still early, and we're still believing that snow is on the way.  Currently, it is freezing, and that is no exaggeration.  This morning, Madison and Daddy watched as the numerical temperature dropped, dropped, and dropped.  We were pulling out of the garage with the car, where it was fifty something degrees - and from there we watched it go down, down and down.  As we drove through the neighborhood, the thermometer was finally adjusting to the actual outside temperature - somewhere in the twenties.  Yikes!

Tonight was quite a bit of set up for the previously-mentioned women's conference.  Everyone was there late, working hard and decorating.  It all seems to be going well, and should be set up for tomorrow.  Daddy just went home though - he's ready to dive under those new winter blankets Mommy has put on our beds.  When the weather starts getting colder, out those blankets come - and they feel so nice and toasty.  That's the problem with them though:  you don't want to leave them in the morning!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Today was 11-12-13, a unique day on the calendar.  So what did we do today?  Not much.

Temperatures plunged as advertised today - tonight it is in the 30's, and expected to dip quite a bit further down the thermometer.  I think by morning, they say it will be around 24 degrees - which is quite a dive over the last twenty-four hours.  Daddy went and got wood, and we've had a nice fire crackling in the fireplace, not that we need it entirely.  It does feel awfully good when you get close to it on a cold night like this though.

We had our piano rehearsal today, which went splendidly for Madison.  She did both her solo performances well, not missing a note on her piano keyboard.  Next week will be the official fall recital, so we'll be sure to practice more and more this week - and do a bit of catching up too.  Ever since this October, we've been slightly behind.  It hasn't been too bad, but Madison does want to keep putting stars up there on her progress chart, and this next week we'll get to put two stars up there - and maybe get another bonus from the treasure chest.

Speaking of which, she got something from the treasure chest at school this week - this time for progress in her speech class.  She can pick anything in there, and it's not like there aren't any girl items in there.  Still, she chose for her prize a zombie head with an exposed brain.  It's all cartoonish, but it's certainly not what you'd think a little girl would pick, right?

Tonight we read the last book in our Winnie the Pooh series, closing out nearly a month of reading stories from 100 Acre Wood.  Madison has been so into these stories that she lines up her stuffed animals in the bed next to her so that everyone can hear.

Ghost Pirate and Zombie Head were nearby as well, just so they could hear the big finish.  We've mentioned our start of Christmas movies, right?  Tonight was "Prep and Landing," and on tomorrow's agenda:  "Kung Fu Panda Christmas" and "Merry Madgascar."

We just got news that we might be doing something free Friday night too.  Christmas on a budget!  Speaking of which, we had all kinds of Disney reward dollars saved up, so Mommy and Daddy did a bit more Christmas shopping for Madison, Hannah and Jonathan today.  Between that and a Disney gift card that Daddy got for his birthday, our total investment was about ten dollars.  Christmas shopping is almost done!

Even Christmas cards are almost done!  Daddy set things up for the card this year - not a Godzilla one this time around.  They were sent off to Wal-Mart to print, and Mommy picked them up.  These are the pictures of Madison with Santa that turned out so nice.  We added a sentiment here or there, and then Daddy created a letter with even more pictures to send along.  This morning, Mommy was already writing out envelopes - this Christmas is one of the most organized and early we've ever done!

This week, a new Women's Conference starts at the church.  It's all hands-on deck this week, as everyone races to prep the church and set things up.  It'll be really nice for the ladies, although Mommy might be sitting this one out.  She's been busy setting things up at the house - some behind-the-scenes stuff with finances.  Next year, we'll be approaching things a bit differently, but that's okay:  the same thing is happening nationwide.  Everyone is still hoping for change, but the outlook of our country is rather gloomy.  The end result is a bland prediction for the holiday season sales, and therefore the entire economy.  This is year five of this, or year six?  I can't remember.  We've been blessed regardless - blessed and highly favored, despite ourselves.  It's still the Year of the Snake though, and the leaders in our government have clearly been bitten over the last few months.  Public opinion of the direction of our country has been historically low, and let's just say that with the White House, things haven't gone according to plan.  We'll leave it at that.

The point is, the future seems a bit dim at the moment, but we've got a fire in the fireplace, and so much to be thankful for.  It's a season of thanksgiving - one that we emphasize each night at prayer time before bed.  Madison lists the things she's thankful for, and doesn't need the prodding she used to.  It's not that she wasn't thankful before, as sometimes we freeze up when asked to make a list of sorts.  Now, she's quick to list the things she's grateful to have:  family, friends, school, church, and a warm home to come to.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ho, ho, ho!

Tonight we visited Santa, and had a whole lot of time to spend with him!  One great strategy about visiting with Santa is getting there earlier in the season, which is pretty quiet around Santa's chair.  The great thing is this:  no lines, and a really long time spent with Santa.  Madison sat and talked with Santa for about five or six minutes, even dragging Mommy and Daddy over to talk about what we wanted for Christmas as well.  He was a right jolly old elf, and we laughed when we saw him (in spite of ourselves).

It was a really pleasant evening.  We went down to eat at the food court, and even got some ice cream afterwards.  As we were leaving, we passed by Santa once more - he called out to Madison, and the blew kisses to each other.  We did get some portrait pictures taken, which traditionally are sent out to everyone for Christmas.  Mommy and Daddy will send these out with the Christmas cards - and they came out so good, we might actually make them the Christmas cards this year.

We went by the large Christmas tree again on the way out - we just saw it lit up a few days ago, and it was looking very nice.  On the way home, we listened to all kinds of Christmas music from the Disney Princesses, the Country Bears Christmas show, and a recent favorite track:  It's Dug, the dog from the movie "Up," telling his version of "The Night Before Christmas."

We got home late, and pretty much ready for bed.  There was a bit of practice of the piano, which Madison seems to have down very well.  She's got "Morning" figured out, at least the pretty small portion we've been playing over and over again.

It was a nice Christmas feel tonight together as a family.  We read the second to last book in our Winnie the Pooh series, and even another small book that had the words to "Deck the Halls" in it.  Madison went to sleep, quite content.  Her list was amended a bit, but Santa got the final product and was impressed.  He didn't tell her she'd shoot her eyes out, but simply nodded:  yep, it should be a great Christmas.  His elves have been busy already wrapping most of the things on that list, in fact they are pretty happy with their progress.  Really, they are just about four presents shy of completion.

The Christmas movie festival keeps going, as the elves were wrapping while watching "Lemon Drop Kid" and "Christmas with the Kranks."  We were also looking for things to do this Christmas season, and have a few neat options we've never tried before.  It's going to be a great Christmas season!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Daddy is even learning a thing or two in music class.  This is a güiro, a percussion instrument that Madison will be playing at the upcoming recital.  She's playing it as a part of a mini "orchestra" performing the song "Sneaky Snake."  We're blessed that Mommy actually has one of these instruments in her collection - we've been practicing with this song and others, getting ready for the recital.  

Today was church, of course.  We were at both services today, with Daddy upstairs and down, working all over the church.  Madison stayed with her class, but enjoyed it quite a bit.  

We got home, and went back to Paradise Falls for a bit.  But we also spent some time watching "The Secret of the Wings," mainly because Madison saw all that frost on the ground the other morning.  She wanted to see the story of Periwinkle once more, so the three of us made some popcorn and had our movie night with the Disney Fairies.

Speaking of frost, it looks like we'll be seeing some really low temperatures this week.  I think unseasonably cold is the best description, really.  Yikes!  No snow though.  But this is the year for snow, we're still thinking.

More in a bit...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nutcracker Camp

Here's our little girl at Nutcracker Camp - or at least after the camp, during the group presentation.  It was a two-hour "camp" where children met Clara and I guess a Snow Fairy or something?  Anyway, they created frames for pictures that they took with each of the Nutcracker celebrities, and then they practiced for a brief performance in front of all the parents.  And I mean, all the parents.

There were certainly a lot of enthusiastic parents there, many of whom knew the drill about waiting in the hallway instead of the room where we were asked to wait.  The end result was Daddy sitting in the back row, standing on top of a chair in order to get a good view of Madison dancing.  She did very well, considering there was so little time to prepare.  You could say this was her first Nutcracker performance, although certainly not the first one she's seen before.  We've watched "The Nutcracker" several different places so far, and this year we'll be seeing it at Brenau (Mommy got tickets today!).  Last year, we tried "Babes in Toyland," which was very well done.  But you can't go for too long without coming back to see Clara...

After camp, Daddy went back to work - in fact, he was there in the morning, racing across town to catch Madison's performance.  Then it was back to church for a volunteer appreciation luncheon, which went very well.  Madison continued using her fashion plates at home, and creating artwork all over the table.

But Daddy got home early enough for us to go do something special.  We all put on our Santa hats, hopped in the car, and drove down to the Mall of Georgia for the Santa-bration, the parade around the Mall, and the lighting of the Christmas tree they have there.  It was a crisp, cold night, but a lot of fun - here's a photo of a giant walking cookie:

Madison liked the parade - although nothing even close to a Disney parade, it was still fun to watch characters go by, and throw things at Mall Security.  Just kidding about that last one.  We cheered for everyone that went by, saving our biggest cheers for Santa at the end.  Of course, all along the way, parade participants were giving out free candy.  Yes, more free candy for Madison.  We could start a confectionary store here with all the candy we've accumulated in the last few weeks!

We went over to the tree next, and that's where the dancers were performing and introducing the big man himself, Mr. Santa.  When he got there, he noticed something was missing - the lights on the tree weren't on!  So, just like last year, he had us all count down from ten.  And that's when the lights came on and the music played - and everyone cheered.

It was a really fun and spontaneous night.  We had Christmas music in the car, which Madison was singing along with - we enjoyed that all the way home.  When getting there, it was time for a quick bath - and time for bed.  Pretty close to time for bed for Daddy too!  It's been a busy day - ho, ho, ho!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Boo! Boo! Boo!

As a reward for playing "Morning" and a few other piano tunes, Madison and Daddy got to go to Paradise Falls tonight.  Of course, we weren't off on a plane to South America.  We were playing an old X-box game, "Up."

This is based on the movie, obviously.  It was a cheap game Daddy picked up - only $10.  But it is just the thing to keep us occupied until Christmas, at least, as a motivational tool for getting piano practice covered.  What we like about this game is the cooperation that needs to take place in order to get to the next level.  The game itself seems like it is pretty quick and easy, so we probably will have it done before the end of the month.  But that's the time where there is so much else going on anyway, so this in itself is just a nice diversion until that time.

Today was a big work day for Daddy, but it was also Friday, so we were able to spend some family time together tonight.  Mommy has been working with Madison, reading stories in books and using fashion plates to make new fashion designs.  One in particular was cracking Daddy up:  a well-dressed fashion model, screaming out in word bubbles:  "Boo!  Boo!  Boo!"

She's trying to scare off the other fashion models, I think?  Or maybe it is a political commentary on the start-up of the nationalized healthcare system.  We've been holding our tongues here, but things have been inauspicious to say the least.

This morning when we woke up, Madison saw something that delighted her:  Periwinkle and Jack Frost had visited early this morning!  Yes, there was frost on the ground, and on Daddy's car too.  We're not exactly sure how the work is divided up, but they both did a thorough job of covering the grass, roofs and cars left out overnight.

World news isn't pretty today - a terrifying typhoon struck the Philippines, one that Madison, Mommy and Daddy have been praying about.  On a much lesser scale, Mommy read the news that the western black rhinoceros was officially declared extinct.  Although it's not as horrifying as what may be going on in the Pacific, the news about the rhino is pretty tragic.  Poachers are vile, are they not?

Also declared extinct this week:  Blockbuster Video.  They faded away into irrelevance this decade, unable to keep up with the changing technology.  If only Madison could have seen the height of the video store rental era.  Blockbuster was king - even Daddy spent some time working there early on.  We all dressed in beige pants with light blue, long sleeved shirts.  One time Daddy hid inside the movie return drop box, growling and shaking whenever someone would drop a movie in - funny, but probably a slightly risky sort of thing in retrospect.  I remember working there, signing up people for accounts as if they were setting up a bank account.  Movies were pricy to rent, and you always had to rewind them.  And they wore down over time too, these VHS movies.  We'll keep a VCR around the house to watch the leftover VHS movies we have in our collection.  Some movies have never made the leap to DVD, believe it or not.

Anyway, Daddy remembers the first VHS movie - imagine getting to watch a movie at home!  You pick the movie, and you can plug it in when you want to watch it, whenever that is.  What technology! We rented "The Empire Strikes Back," and I remember thinking, "Why can't we own this?"  The answer:  the price tag for a new VHS movie back then was around $100 or something like that, which was somewhat prohibitive.  Daddy also remembers when the first DVDs came along, how we had to sort all those new-fangled disc movies with the video tapes.  That took a little bit to catch on, and now folks have even moved past that, going straight to Blu-Ray.  Madison missed all this.  She missed the movement from records to audio tapes to CDs to formats playable on a computer.  In retrospect, audio tapes were the worst, weren't they?  They were like VHS, getting tangled easily, dragging along and not convenient for scanning for chapters.  And you always had to be kind and rewind.

Nowadays, people have squillions of movies in their homes - or on their computers.  Yes, this is what happened to Blockbuster.  Why bother driving to a place to get even a DVD, when you can get it online so much faster?  People gave up that common experience of walking around a video rental store, checking out the latest releases, or categorized older ones.  And now, we look through menus at home:  it's cheaper, it's faster, and it's more convenient.  Not many people miss having to rewind a movie, or paying a late fee.  But we will miss that common meeting ground, where everyone gathered to pick up a movie to bring home that night.  The video rental place is going away, just like the record store, and Madison will have no idea what that's like.  I'll have to go looking online to see if there are any left, but I doubt it.  We had so many just a few years ago, in White County and Habersham County, and of course in Hall County.  Now they are gone, just like the film developing places.  Wow, there's something else Madison will have no idea about - waiting an hour to find out what your pictures will look like.  Remember conserving your shots, because you only had 24 on a roll of film?  And being careful not to expose it to light?  We sure have come a long way, haven't we?  Technology is really making things more convenient.

Well, except for the nationalized healthcare thing.