Monday, March 31, 2014

Zoom Zoom

We left a little later today, but that's okay - all we had to do was get down to Summerfield.  We slept in, and did some other last-minute packing.  We also stopped by the church for some pranks.  You'll probably hear about that tomorrow.  The trip down was quick, and uneventful.  Madison watched "Frozen" for the fourth time, and played on her Kindle and Explorer some more.  Mommy slept a lot, and Daddy was moving down the road.  There wasn't any traffic to speak of, not even in Henry County - although this was the trip down.  Traditionally, it's Henry County on the way back that gives us trouble.  We stopped at the Dooley County rest area, which is becoming a tradition for us.  Madison announced she had to use the restroom, and with remarkable timing and favor, within a mile there it was:  the rest area. 

Mommy always packs sandwiches and snacks, so we munched in the car as we travelled.  The weather was perfect, and the roads were clear.  Even the roadwork seemed to be minimal this time. 

We got to Nana and Ba-Ba's house early, and already there was food.  This is one of the trademarks of going to Nana and Ba-Ba's house, an epic amount of food.  I do not use the word "epic" lightly.  If it is going to be epic, it had better meet that definition full on.  And in this case, it does.  Certain cruise lines don't offer as much food as Nana and Ba-Ba do at their house.  Just saying.

So Madison set up her station when we arrived.  This is a table that is set up in the living room, complete with crayons and activity books.  Mommy gave her one that has math problems in it, presented in a fun way.  Madison was busy zooming through these, and working on her latest paper airplane design.  She's also busy coloring and cutting out shapes, like snowflakes and balloons.

We talked for a while, after dropping the luggage off in the rooms.  Daddy was ready for bed a little early, but before going to bed, he and Madison read another comic together.  This week's comic features the Punisher.  Now Daddy doesn't regularly read the Punisher, but this particular comic was a story about the time the Punisher visited the hometown of Archie.  It was a crossover of comics, where somehow the integrity of the Punisher comics was kept, as was the integrity of the Archie series.  It's fun, with a little action and a little comedy too.  We started that read tonight, and will probably finish it before the week is over.

So tonight we got to bed in Florida.  It's good to be back.  Our stay here won't be as grand as they used to be - it's a scaled back and more budget-friendly trip away.  But we'll have some new highlights.  And Madison doesn't mind a bit, so long as she can hit the pool and be with her grandparents.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Having Noah Idea

So today was our pre-planned "Noah" Sunday, which in essence wrapped up an entire month of Wednesdays dedicated to the story of Noah and the ark.  Not his ark, if you want to get technical - although God used he and his sons to build the thing.  Anyway, we were inspired to do this series because the topic of Noah would be "in the air" this month, leading up to the  movie which came out this weekend, "Noah."  Fortunately, we never endorsed the movie so much - as it apparently misses the mark in quite a few places.  Example:  righteous man Noah wanting to go kill a baby on the ark, while an evil stowaway plots with Ham to kill Noah, this after the giant rock people are redeemed by helping Noah out.  We don't mind a few enhancements to get the point across, but honestly, "Evan Almighty" sounds as if it is more Biblically accurate - and that movie takes place in modern times, in Washington D.C.  If I heard there were aliens in a flying saucer in this recent "Noah" movie, I wouldn't be terribly surprised!

Anyway, so we've been going straight to the Bible to tell the kids the story of Noah and the ark.  Simple enough, right?  It's just three chapters, and we've had fun for five services talking about this epic adventure.

It was a good morning, although there have been some illnesses going around.  The numbers were a little down, maybe because of this, and maybe because of the early exodus for Spring Break.  Speaking of which, we're not leaving until tomorrow for Spring Break.  We made this decision when we got home about 2:00 pm.  This gave us some time to rest, to pack some more, and to rest again. 

Packing was almost done already, thanks to Mommy.  All we had to do was get the music ready - we have to have a few CDs for the journey down and back:  Hot Club of Cowtown stuff, Lilo & Stitch Party mix, and of course now the "Frozen" soundtrack.  We'll bring along that "Lego Movie" soundtrack too, obviously because of our plans next week.

Today we did a bit of video gaming with Legos, speaking of which.  We also watched a movie too:  "George of the Jungle."  This had Madison giggling at points, as there's a lot of slapstick involved in that movie.  It's a pretty funny flick in points, capturing the spirit of the cartoon pretty well.  We made a big tub of popcorn and sat on the couch together, watching a movie before bedtime.  No getting up early tomorrow - so we stayed up a little later tonight with Madison.  But Mommy and Daddy were ready for bed soon after that, early for us, and smart considering the long trip tomorrow.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ready to go!

Wrong!  We didn't quite sleep in this morning.

Still, it was a good, long day today - Daddy got a bit done at work, while Mommy and Madison did some packing at the house for our little trip.  We did a bit of research, and for the next week upcoming, it seems like the weather is going to take a dramatic spike up towards the warm side, with no rain in site until the next weekend.  The plans we're making are pretty basic, maybe a trip to LEGOLAND, and our usual visit to Downtown Disney.  Or Disney Village.  Or Disney Marketplace. Or Pleasure Island.  Or Disney West Side.   Or Disney Springs.  We were doing a bit of research, and apparently they are going to be calling it "Disney Springs" soon, which is a title I hope they stick with, for the sake of this blog at least.  Everytime somebody asks where you're going, you're not sure exactly what to say - so Daddy goes with the retro answer of "Disney Village."

Anyway, we're going there.  Where?  Just pick one of the titles above.  It's just a nice chance to stop and get ice cream, really.  The entire journey there is actually centered around getting Ghiradelli ice cream, to be honest.  Mommy is that focused. 

So about today:  it was one of those days at the office for Daddy.  He spent the entire day and night there, pretty much, basically getting things ready for tomorrow's service, and the service next weekend as well.  You go on vacation, and you basically work twice as much to get out the door, right?

Meanwhile, Madison was drawing, playing games, and doing some activities in her workbooks.  The latest game on her Kindle that has got both her and Daddy slightly addicted is a "Frozen" game, of course.  It's a standard gem-swapping game, but it has a few variations and characters thrown in.  All of these gem-swapping games are usually addictive, so we try to avoid them in general.  But... we got sucked in to this one with the use of characters from the movie. 

So the plan is to leave either tomorrow or on Monday.  We might make it Monday, just to get us all some rest.  We'll see - no stress here!  At least we're ready to go, and leave everything behind without worries.

Time to get some rest now, though.  G'night!

Friday, March 28, 2014

School Dance

Oh boy.  Daddy's not quite ready for this one!  Here's our little girl, all dressed up for her first dance.  Her hair came out fine, and she was quite the beauty today as she got ready for a special school day.  The rainy weather failed to put a damper on anything - Daddy parked the car at the school, and used his umbrella to escort her indoors.  She was walking down the hallway quite regally to her classroom - today she was a princess!

Here are the other princes and princesses, ready to go to their first dance.  There were snacks and drinks first, and then a group picture.  And soon after this, it was time to hit the dance floor.

Madison was escorted in by her prince, but soon enough she was dancing with the other girls, twirling and having fun.  The parents were there too - just in case you were wondering. We were outside a line, watching the kids dance in the middle of the room.  Things were decorated for a fairy tale, and the music played everything from "Frozen" to "What does the Fox Say?"  Here's a picture of our little girl, smiling big:

We love that smile.  Soon after this, it was time for the last dance.  This was the part where the daddies could come in and do a dance with their little girls.  Madison had learned the box step and was quite proud of herself, so we started there.  But soon after that, we were doing our own thing, and soon after that, it was all over with - a lovely memory for a great day.  Madison went back to the classroom soon after, where she spent more time with her classmates:

And when she got home, it was the beginning of Spring Break.  She brought home with her a report card, and the news was good:  she got great grades across the board.  There are two areas we've been working on that need to improve slightly, one of them being subtraction.  But we know she's getting better and better with that, based on our personal efforts.  Still, overall, the report card was outstanding. And because of that, Daddy and Mommy had no choice but to give her a nice reward:  Mickey Mouse. Our Disney Infinity collecting continues, with Madison adding Mickey Mouse to the list of playable characters.  Not much left to go, although a whole new series of discs come out next week.

We played this game for a bit, and went to bed a little later.  It's okay, because it's Friday and we can sleep in tomorrow, right?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kit Fisto

Mommy was doing a bit of prep tonight for the big dance tomorrow, which meant doing Madison's nails and putting curls in her hair as well.  This is a process that evidently requires a bit of time and patience - and these long things that Madison had to have in her hair overnight.  The end result, according to Mommy, is that she looked like Kit Fisto.

You be the judge.  Madison was having a lot of this done as Daddy was reading to her the nightly routine:  Bible, followed by comics.  Tonight, we covered Naaman, followed by the last issue of Ka-Zar in that great series.  This is where there's a happy ending for everyone involved, and the Savage Land is saved.

Speaking of which, and as a complete aside, did you know they just recently discovered an area in Antarctica that is completely covered in ice.  It's a huge valley that nobody knew existed, and instead of a sky overhead, it's a massive sheet of ice.  Could it be that there's a Savage Land beneath?

Only if there's a Terraformer device, apparently.  That's the thing that makes the Savage Land what it is, complete with dinosaurs and local tribes.  This is what Madison has been learning lately.

Another thing she's been learning lately is manners.  Believe it or not, they've been talking about having good manners at school.  To me, this is something we should cover on Day 1!  Madison was sitting at the table like a princess tonight, one hand in her lap on a napkin, and her chair pulled in just right.  Usually, it's a struggle, as she eats like a cast member from "Planet of the Apes."  We are in a constant battle to get her to sit properly, which is not an epic struggle, mind you.  It's just one of those daily reminders:  sit on your bottom, pull the chair in, get the plate closer to the vicinity you are actually eating at.  Tonight we had tacos, so you can imagine this was more of a challenge than usual.

We had ballet tonight too.  The last fifteen minutes of class, the teacher left the door open, and Daddy could watch Madison dance.  She did so well, and was very much into it.  They are dancing to the "Skater's Waltz," a song Daddy had to look up.  I knew the music, but couldn't remember the title (we weren't told the title either).  So I went home and started humming it to Mommy, who didn't know the title either.  All we could remember is that people ice skated to it at Rockefeller Center, and Bugs Bunny used to hum it.  I think.  And since you can't type in a search engine, "Da, da, da-daaaaaaah... da, da, da-daaaaaah," we finally found it using the words "skating" and "classic."  And when we did, we got Madison to perform a bit at home.  It wasn't the same exact version of the song, but we saw enough of it to give her applause and encourage her.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Arky, Arky

Tonight was the last night of our series, "Don't Miss the Boat," which all started out based on the idea that everyone would be talking about this Noah movie that is released in a few days.  They are, but the reason might not be entirely a good one, as this movie apparently takes place in Middle Earth, hence the rock giants we've heard about.  We haven't seen it yet, so I know those involved in making the movie might be quick to judge us for judging the movie without seeing it.  However, when making a historical movie, or a movie based on a comic, or a movie based on a novel, the hope is that the director has a better understanding of the source material.  This is why comic book movies are doing better than they've ever done before, because it is no longer a producer with a checklist that makes up a good movie, but rather a director that understands the original material (for the most part).  I get that there are only three chapters or so dedicated to the story - Noah doesn't say anything until late in the story, and you can't have him as a mime for an hour and a half.  So as a writer of a script, you have to make some leaps, imagining what he would say or do to fill in those gaps.  And to fill these gaps, the writers made the completely logical assumption that there'd be friendly rock giants around.  Formerly, the Hallmark made-for-television version of "Noah's Ark" was the record holder for most ridiculous interpretation of the story:  at one point in that story, the boat is attacked by pirate survivors, led by F Murray Abraham with an eye patch.  They get sucked up in a tornado, I think.  I also forgot about James Coburn as some sort of "Waterworld" peddler, roaming around in a boat selling his goods.

What's so difficult about this, people?  It's just a few chapters in the Bible!  How can you mess up a story this bad?

Anyway, tonight we concluded the series.  Which involved actually going to the book of Genesis and talking about how God shut the door.  And how you want to be on the right side of that door when it shuts.  No rock giants were involved.  One of the fun highlights of the night was our singing of "Rise and Shine," which Daddy remembers singing in Y-Club so long ago.  Just about all of us remember singing it a long time ago, which immediately classified the song as "old school."  But it was "fun school" too, because the kids were singing it full-on!  It was about as loud as the other night when they were singing "Let it Go."

Today was also a tennis day for Madison, who Mommy said has gotten much better with her swing.  Practice this week was a lot different than last week, which wasn't as great.  But this week marked a big improvement, which is just in time for spring break.  Actually, we have two weeks off of tennis now.  But as you can imagine, there'll be tennis in Florida.  Florida wouldn't be Florida without golf and tennis.

So this Friday is a big dance!  Daddy learned that early this week.  I had no idea what this was about, as I'm not exactly ready for a "big dance" at school.  Madison is learning the box step at school, and there is in fact a Cinderella Dance coming up.  Madison and Mommy are excited.  Daddy is a bit thrown off, but is expected to attend at about 12:40 or so.  This is also the last day of the semester, I think, where report cards come home.  If it is a good one, we'll give Madison something special - and I think it will be a good one.  She keeps bringing home these homework sheets, and they are all spectacular.  Math and Spelling are two areas that she is so far ahead with, and she does so well with.  We're reading at night, and she's reading along with Daddy as well - we're approaching that age where Daddy and Mommy can no longer just spell things out to avoid having her understand what's being communicated!

It was a long day.  But it was a great one, especially with the series end tonight.  But we're all a bit tired, so it's tired to "hit the bedrock," as those rock giants would say.  I mean, they might as well say it, right?  I didn't type anything about rock giants in our house, but that doesn't mean they're not here wandering around...

Back to the Art Gallery

We were back at the art gallery tonight - Madison's school had its annual fund raiser, where parents could buy their student's works, matted and framed very nicely.  Mommy loves this frog here - Madison named the frog Lilly, although I don't think she fully got the whole "lilly pad" joke.  I think she just named the frog Lilly because she likes the name.

It was a busy afternoon (and a cold one too).  We ate dinner before this, and before dinner was piano practice continued.  Madison has selected her recital song, "Stately Gavotte," which she can play pretty effortlessly right now.  It has about three chords in it for the left hand, and wanders up and down one octave on the right hand.  It's a fun piece, and it's catchy too.  Oh, and it's "stately" as well.  Whatever that means.  I think that means there's a bunch of "pomp" with it.

Tonight was an early bed time for us.  Mommy now has the stomach flu thing, which apparently is on a massive scale through about eleven states.  The states, however, are not all next to each other, which makes it somewhat unusual.  Daddy is feeling better, and by this time tomorrow, Mommy will feel better herself hopefully.  Madison, however, needed to catch up on some sleep - and tonight that happened.  She went to bed around 6:00 pm, when there was still sunlight out for another two hours or so.

We still read the Bible, of course.  And we're close to ending up the current Ka-Zar series, which means finding another comic soon.  This current comic ended with a cliff-hanger of sorts for Shanna, who Madison is quite worried about.  She asked if I could read her a bit from the next comic, just so she could see if Shanna was okay.  But that's the nature of cliffhangers, isn't it?

Speaking of which, just wait until tomorrow's post...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Here is Madison with Rowlf the Dog, Daddy's oldest stuffed animal friend.  Yes, I had this puppet when I was Madison's age.  He and Mr. Peanut were with me when I was young - and Rowlf still sits up in our master bedroom today with Mommy's little kitten doll from her childhood.

Rowlf was sitting next to Madison's reward for doing piano practice, a "Muppets"-themed Disney Infinity disc sitting up on the table in her playroom.

Rowlf has been with Daddy a long, long time.  I remember using him as a puppet in the back of a van on the way to Colorado, using him to sing along with "If I Were a Rich Man," from the "Fiddler on the Roof" soundtrack.  I have no idea why I remember this, but this is the way memories work, eh?

Anyway, Madison may not remember today entirely.  It started out at the dentist - she has a few cavities, which requires a return trip in a few weeks.  These are baby teeth, but the cavities are on teeth that will be with her for a while.  Remember, she started out in an orphanage, so the other kids have a bit of a head start with the brushing of the teeth thing.

The visit was still a bit more positive than negative though.  For example, she got a free prize from the toy chest, right?

Also today, Mommy went back to her oncologist.  That's a person who specializes in cancer treatment. I think.  Anyway, there she was, getting her yearly check-up.  Can you believe it has been eight years? Yes, we remember walking in to talk to him for the first time, under much more dire circumstances.  This time around, it was all pleasant - Mommy shared with him photos of Madison, and the two talked about how far Mommy has come along.

This photo is not one that was shared with the good doctor:

Daddy snapped this one this afternoon.  Madison was watching a movie on the Kindle, on the couch, and in this position.  Yes, it's kind of different - hence me taking a picture of it!  She straightened up the moment we got her attention, looking at us like, "What?"

As stated earlier, we did finish our piano practice today.  We also did a few other things - tonight before bed, we watched "Nim's Island."  Happily, we're able to watch more and more live action movies with Madison, which opens things up a bit.  It used to be every movie had to be animated for her to watch, but we're entering a different phase, which was nice tonight.  Especially with popcorn!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Calm in the Storm

So here's Nerdo releasing the mega-burp - the one last heard in the movie "Elf."  We recorded that one and used it, this great big long burp just for kicks.  I think it's part of his character.  Today's Storm Chasers skit had us lose one character temporarily - we suspect the worst, but he'll be back in a few weeks with a pretty good explanation.

And here's Daddy, preaching on a Sunday morning about going through the storm.  He got up pretty early for this one - about 3 am.  That's because there was the skit and the message to contend with this morning.  But everything went just fine, and there was actually a pretty good response from the kids - and a few adults too.  We shared Mommy's story, the one where we got through cancer and the adoption process and all the storm - all to get to Madison in the end.

It was a big morning.  And a sleepy sort of afternoon.  The weather was just right this afternoon, but we were pretty wiped out.  We did a bit of quasi-napping on the couch, while going back to Middle Earth for a while with Madison.  She had some piano homework to do, and other homework too.  But we were mostly in a vegetative state this afternoon.  Even worse, Daddy was starting to come down with the very same stomach flu that Madison had yesterday.

But the day was a success for certain.  Madison enjoyed the morning very much, and had a good time in the afternoon lounging about the house.  We all went to bed a bit early, after reading some Bible and some more Ka-Zar.  Daddy wasn't far behind Madison when it came to bedtime - we were zonked!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Novel Idea

Today Madison was a bit sick.  It was a stomach flu, which didn't just stop with her, unfortunately.  The good news was that it wasn't so bad for her - she was feverish, and not quite sure what was going on.  Fortunately, we had a bit of medicine for her, and a bit of couch time.

Daddy spent a lot of time at a new library today, attending a seminar of sorts in Forsyth County.  There were guests, presenting information on how to write a novel, how to publish one, how to market one, and how to get an agent - things like that.  It went on for hours!  

But it was good info.  Meanwhile, Mommy is getting ready for tomorrow's service, and getting ready for next week's vacation.  Yes, we're going on vacation pretty soon - and hopes are high for some warmer weather, and maybe a bit of beach time.  We'll see how all that goes, but the current plan is to maybe hit the beach one day, maybe see Legoland, and then perhaps go to Downtown Disney to see that latest Muppet Movie.  We'll see how it all plays out though - it's just a spring break, and things aren't really concrete at the moment.  But it doesn't matter either, because it will all be nice and relaxing and fun!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Madison Explains Subtraction

So here is that video of Madison, teaching subtraction to a homebound student.  She goes through a few different methods to arrive at the solution, and is just cute as anything as she does it all.  I'm the Daddy, of course, and I love listening to all of this.  First of all, from a practical level - she's doing well in math.  But from a "gosh, that's so cute" level too!

Tonight was our Movie Bash Night, where the kids got to see - again - a certain movie that just came out on Blu-Ray this past Tuesday.  It was "Frozen" night, and a few of the kids had a parent that made her own Elsa costume!

This was a big hit.  The whole night was a big hit - but the highpoint for Daddy was when Madison and the hundreds of kids there all sang karaoke-style at the end:  "Let it Go."  The words were on the screen as the karaoke music played - and those kids were really, really loud!

Here's Daddy and a few others really enjoying it all.  It was simply amazing!  Of course, Madison had a great time.  We hadn't actually watched the movie since it came out on Tuesday, although we picked it up that afternoon.  So it was a great time watching it again, this time with popcorn and a drink.  Madison sat with some new friends and enjoyed the movie, along with a movie short, and of course the karaoke sing-a-long.  That's about all there was time for, as soon the parents were on their way back to pick the kids up.  One kid lost her tooth during the movie, so Daddy made a special "Frozen" "Lost Tooth" certificate to commemorate the occasion.  Fun night!

This movie really is a phenomenon.  Every kid in that audience knew the words to not only that song, but just about all the others too.  And Madison is right there with them.  This will be one of those soundtracks that she'll never forget, I suspect, a soundtrack of her childhood in a way.

What a fun day it was for her.  A late night too, but we can sleep in a tiny bit tomorrow, and that's okay!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bradford Pear Trees Stink!

The Bradfords are in bloom, which are simultaneously very pretty and very smelly.  But the whole neighborhood is in bloom, which on one hand looks marvelous - but on the other can either:

a)  smell bad
b)  irritate your eyes

But they look quite nice.  It's fine when driving down the main strip of our neighborhood, watching all the trees in bloom, covered in white flowers that remind Madison of snow.  But you have to have the windows rolled up, and the air on recycled inside!

Tonight we had a first:  Madison skyped with Nana and Ba-Ba down in Florida, who had Mommy's brother George and his family there.  That was a mouthful.  It's basically Madison's Uncle George and his family.  Madison hasn't really talked with them before, as we just haven't had as much time - but this conference call was pretty cool.  Madison was shy initially, but soon enough she was dragging over paper bag puppets and showing off various toys.

It was ballet night, of course.  We did that at Brenau as always, and got our summer camp information. Now's the time to start booking all these summer camps - we had art camp last year, and of course there is Summer Xtreme.  There's a tennis camp coming up, and there's the ballet camp as well.  Lots of camps, and then vacation in there somewhere - all this adds up to an active summer.  But we have to do the arranging now, making sure there's no overlaps on the calendar.

We played some games today, and ate ourselves a pizza too.  The weather is cold at night, but beautiful during the day.  We were able to go to ballet without worrying about jackets, a first for the year.  However, things are due to dip into chilly territory next week again, if you can believe that.  The forecast is supposed to dip into subfreezing territory once more.  Last year about this time, it got cold again - I remember the only snow we got last year was after the first day of spring.  So perhaps this is a new trend.  Who knows?

We read with Madison from our Little Princess Bible tonight, reading about Ruth and Boaz.  And soon after, it was time for bed once more.  It was a later night, due to the conference call.  As mentioned earlier, everyone's been a bit tired lately.  So, as Madison asks, "Is it grown-up bedtime too?"  Yes, Madison.  It is.

Before turning in for the night, here's our joke of the day:

Q:  What kind of man was Boaz before he got married?

A:  Ruth-less!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

You Noah What Day it Is?

Today was part three of our Noah-themed series, which turned out well once more.  Daddy had this posted early as an advertisement, and had these door hangers made to hand out after the service.

Each one is a reminder of God's promises, which was somewhat of a theme of the night.  Again, it turned out well, especially after we found that one funny Noah video online.

Daddy did come home today, long enough to say hello to Mommy and Madison.  But they were off themselves to tennis, which keeps going rain or shine or cold.  Madison continues to do well with tennis, although today she seemed a bit tired.  This may be related to the Daylight Savings Time - Mommy said that all the kids were tired, it seemed.  This is something that Daddy noted at piano practice this week too.  It seems to be catching up to everyone, including Mommy and Daddy, actually.

We did get a bit of encouragement though, in the form of a really great video that we'll be sharing online soon.  Madison is doing well with math.  In fact, so well, that her teacher made a video of Madison instructing a homebound student on some basic concepts of subtraction.  Look for that here soon, because I can't wait to post it!

Anyway, the day was a busy one with preparations and so forth.  But it went well tonight, and Madison did well at school with spelling also.  Her latest word list is apparently really too easy.  This may be because Mommy is having Madison write out the words, which is a great habit to get into.  Regardless, we're proud of her:  she's a smart cookie!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Advanced Music

These are some pictures that Daddy took this past Sunday at Nana and Ye-Ye's house.  They had a collection of frames, and wanted to put some pictures of the family inside the frames.  So bit by bit, Daddy took the family members outside for some portraits.  It will probably always be associated with St. Patrick's Day, as everyone is wearing bits of green.  Madison is wearing a full-on shamrock shirt, just to keep people from guessing exactly what day these pictures were taken!

Today after school, Madison got her new ADVANCED MUSIC booklet.  Yes, she's left the old things behind and is doing something new and scary.  The new books are vertical and more like real piano books.  We spent a lot of the class talking about books, recitals and upcoming events:  speaking of which, the new theme for the recital this year is "MAGIC."  Yes, that's the theme for spring with Mrs. Pam's classes.  We had magic for Winter Wonderland, and now the kids will be at the recital performing in magician outfits, and even singing an ensemble, "Do You Believe in Magic?"

After class, we darted over to the Disney Store.  Daddy gave Madison the ticket, and we proudly walked in - along with all the other little girls - to get her copy of "Frozen."  Yes, today was the day it was released, and there was a big crowd there at the store, ready to pick it up.  We also picked up "Saving Mr. Banks," and a lithograph for pre-purchasing the next Tinkerbell movie, which involves pirates!

There wasn't so much time to actually watch a movie, but we did eat and play some games for a bit.  We read from our Bible, and read a bit more about Ka-Zar too - and then it was time for sleep.  At least for Madison it was.  Mommy and Daddy stayed up a little, watching television and doing a bit of preparation for the upcoming services at KidPak.

All is well - "Frozen" is in our house, so now we can hear "Let it Go" a billion or more times...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Don't Get Pinched!

Here's our little girl, all dressed up for the big day.  She's gotten so big - these holidays bring to mind memories and images of previous holidays, where our little girl was much tinier.  She's still a small fry, but growing up fast.  It won't take long for her to be taller than Daddy - at least that's what I tell her frequently.  She's got all kinds of green on today, including her shamrock socks too.

Off she went to school this morning, and off we went to the dentist down in Alpharetta.  What a long, miserable commute that is each morning.  Thank you God that we don't have to suffer through that each day.  I'd seriously leave earlier with a book or something, just so I wouldn't have to endure the rush hour traffic that we experienced only once this morning.  Stop.  Go.  Stop.  Go.  It's too much!

Fortunately, everyone at the dentist is always friendly, and there was good news for Mommy and Daddy there as well.  We've been getting much better at flossing, and we got the "all clear."  Which means no drill!

That's always a plus!

Today was St. Patrick's Day, and it felt like Ireland outside.  Gloomy, cold, windy and wet.  The rain fell down hard in the morning, and gave way a little later in the afternoon to more rain.  Winter's last gasp has been a big one - Daddy felt it outside at the bus stop waiting for Madison.  We both raced inside to see Mommy, where there was a fire in the fireplace.  It felt so nice and toasty by the fire, and yet it felt weird to have a fire in there so late in the season.  Still, it was there, and we were grateful.

Madison did homework and a tiny bit of piano.  The idea behind this afternoon had been to go see "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," but unfortunately the movie times didn't work out with our schedule so much.  No matter, Madison was just fine as long as she got her Marvel time in.  Yes, we're still playing video games a bit - day we finally got Silver Surfer as a character.  This is kind of a big deal, as Madison is strangely really into the Silver Surfer.  It might be the silver part.  Or the surfer part.  Or maybe the fact that he is in fact a silver surfer.  Whatever the reasons, we have him in our arsenal now, and all is well with the world.

We've continued our Bible reading today, with our Little Princess Bible.  We'll be there for a while, which is great.  We've been talking about Rebekah, which is a classic princess tale.  And, of course we continued with Ka-Zar as well.

It was a day to stay inside.  We ate corned beef and cabbage and potatoes for dinner, leftover from yesterday, but you have to eat that sort of thing on St. Patrick's Day.  Oh, and the shamrock cupcakes too.  And the marzipan potatoes.  And Lucky Charms.  Go that too!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Card

This was one of the videos we played at this morning's service, which turned out well in the end.  The video itself was popular - as were the other videos we made.  But this one was for St. Patrick's Day, so I thought I'd share it here.  Madison likes hearing the little leprechaun scream at the end.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, but we did a bit of celebrating today, as it's the weekend.  Late this afternoon, we went over to Nana and Ye-Ye's house for our traditional St. Patrick's Day celebration.  As always there was corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and Irish bread.  Mommy made her epic potatoes - those things that look like potatoes, when in fact it's marzipan wrapped around brownies, rolled in cocoa for texture with almond slivers inserted randomly for the "eyes."  They look great, and they taste so incredibly rich!

We didn't have a murder mystery this year or anything complicated - but we didn't need that either, of course.  It was just good to all get together once more, sharing this or that.  Madison loves playing with Hannah upstairs, the two of them playing with the ponies or other things.  Meanwhile, the rest of us are discussing Russia, a missing jet that's been in the news, and the trip to Ireland last year.

Earlier today, we were at church of course.  It was part two of our "Storm Chasers" series, which was pretty fun - and slightly off color.  Nerdo accidently ate some of those pellets you shoot up in the atmosphere to create a thunderstorm, and let's just say things didn't turn out so well!

Beyond that there was piano as always - this was at home.  Madison was able to finish her weekly practice, so she got a power disc.  The Mad Hatter left it for her under his hat, which was located in the guest room.  Underneath was a power disc for a flamingo mallet, a useful tool when battling evil.  In fact, that's what we played a bit more:  Disney Infinity.  Daddy and Madision were Rapunzel and Elsa.  Daddy was armed with a frying pan and a flamingo mallet, which is all you need in life to defend yourself, honestly.

Madison went to bed a little later tonight, but fell asleep quickly.  It was a great weekend for her, full of activity and fun.  We read before bed, continuing our Bible and our Ka-Zar.  Pretty soon, we'll pick up on some Tinkerbell books, which might be hard to switch over to, honestly - she's really into the comic books.  We may have to alternate or something!

Anyway, she's asleep now.  We prayed for our friend on a missions trip in India, for all the other friends we have that are suddenly with various boo-boos, and for a good night's rest.  And soon after that, all of us were sound asleep!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Down the туалет

Daddy did quite a bit of work today, but we did get home in time for piano practice and a bit of Marveling.  We did stay up later too, which might not have been the best of ideas in retrospect.  But we had that together time, which was nice.  Sometimes it's good to just plop down on the couch together and watch something or play something.  The weather is getting nicer (although cold rain is coming tomorrow), so at least we'll get to go for walks and maybe do some tennis.

But sometimes you just want to plop.  And that's what we did.  It was, after all, a long day at work.  We spent most of it preparing for tomorrow and beyond.

Madison spent her day doing homework, watching a bit and playing a bit too.  She also did some drawings - Daddy has a contract with her to do ten more quality drawings.  She does these, and if they are up to Mommy and Daddy's expectations, she'll get Mickey Mouse for Disney Infinity.  Last time she did ten drawings, she got Mater.

Now these take a while to do, which is what we want.  We want her to practice her drawing, just like she practices piano, tennis and ballet.  And she'll get better and better.  In fact, she's already better and better - and quite creative.  She uses books that show her how to draw certain characters or animals, step-by-step.  Today's illustration was that of a dolphin.  She wanted to make it Winter the dolphin, so she did her dolphin in the air a bit, and colored the entire dolphin grey - except the tail.  She drew the water beneath, and the splash from below, and to show what was going on, she drew a checkered flag that Winter was heading towards.  I'm not sure who taught her this, but she also did the "sun in the corner of the page" trick, where you just draw one quarter of a circle up there with rays shining downward.

She was quite proud of this.  Winter is even smiling, apparently pleased with winning the race.

Speaking of racing, we've been watching online (in a limited way, because it's only broadcast in a limited way) the Paralympics in Russia.  While Russia storms in and takes part of another country because it feels threatened by that part of the country, it is simultaneously hosting the peaceful Paralympics.  Yes, as soon as the Olympics are over with, there goes Russia literally invading another country and taking it's territory away from it, in the name of "security."  All that work to project one image, and we're all sitting here watching that one image get flushed down the туалет.

Anyway, back to the Paralympics, which are great to see.  First of all, Go USA.  We won the ice sledge hockey final against Russian today, winning a gold medal for that event.  Russia wins overall with the most medals, but those ice hockey games are important for some reason.  We haven't seen any replays of that - as we were busy when they were on television.  Maybe someday we'll be able to, but until then we were watching a few of the other events online.  Particularly fascinating are the blind skiers, who careen down those same Sochi slopes, despite being blind.  These are the slopes that had skiers falling left and right during the Olympic Games.  And, I might add, these are the same slopes that I'd have no hope whatsoever of skiing - and I have perfect vision.  Yet by following a guide who calls out directions and maneuvers, these blind skiiers are able to complete a full Olympic course down the mountain.  We were watching this today, completely fascinated.

But again - all this "goodwill" and friendly hosting... completely flushed down the туалет. Tomorrow, part of Ukraine will have a vote to decide which country they should be in.  Logically, you'd think that Ukraine itself should be a part of this process, but in fact this is not the case.  Tomorrow, it is expected that that part of the Ukraine will wish it was - for some reason - a part of Russia instead.  It's as if we sent troops into Ontario and asked them to vote to see which country they wanted to be a part of.  At gunpoint.

So history is going to be made tomorrow, one way or another.  And it is shaping up to be a very interesting year.  Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, rather than continue to flush all our progress towards peace down the туалет.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jolly Holiday

If you want to find Madison's birthdate inside the number pi, it's 171,583,914 digits in.  That's just in case you missed it.  Just to prove that, it's right here in the middle of all these numbers, in case you want to spot it for yourself:  


Did you spot it?  In case you're wondering, yes, today is Pi Day.  Or, if you're even more serious about this:  π Day.

To celebrate Pi Day, here's a screen capture from the movie "Frozen," exactly 3.14 seconds into the movie.

Disney has a great collection of screen captures of their movies, each one at 3 minutes and 14 seconds in.  Here are two movies from the nineties that we rather like - funny screen captures!

These sort of express how different people are first thing in the morning.  And both are at the π mark inside "Hercules" and "Aladdin."

This morning, the leprechauns literally trashed Madison's classroom.  I'm not making this up. The place was ambushed!  Traps were knocked over, glitter everywhere and candy on the desks and around the traps.  The whole place looked like it was attacked by leprechauns - and the kids loved it!  Daddy got to see the event first-hand, and even came back later to surprise Madison.  He and Mommy got there just in time for the BOOK FAIR.  Yep, we try not to miss these.  Madison was happy to see us - for one thing, we had money and she didn't!  And she knew exactly which book she wanted to get too.  Neither of us had ever heard of it before, but Madison went straight to a book about princesses and I think something to do with "Moldilocks?"  I'll get the book tomorrow morning and let you know what it is.  Currently, it's in Madison's bedroom and it's late.

ANYWAY, after Daddy got home from work, we went to see a ballet.  Yes, it was time for Mary Poppins!

We got to Brenau a little early.  Okay, this absolutely cracked me up.  A lot.  In fact, either it is very late at night, or this is the funniest thing that's happened to me this year.

While waiting to get in the door at Brenau, there's an art gallery next door with a student's work in it.  For the most part, the stuff is dark and brooding and much more important than anyone realizes.  Think of the Batman song from "The Lego Movie."

ANYWAY, in the middle of the gallery is a big crate.  And there are markers there.  The crate is supposed to be a place to write meaningful phrases of empowerment for women, right there on the sides.  The project is entitled, "Fragile:  the Delicate Balance between Women and the World."

So all these empowering quotes about women are all over the sides, from college girls who feel inspired about that sort of thing.  Lots of quotes from famous women about women.  

So I had Madison sign it.  That's the first picture you have to see.  She wrote on it, "Be calfurll.  Madison."  

I'm still laughing at this, even now.  I love my daughter even more now.  She signed her full name, first and last!  With BIG, GIANT letters.  After "Be calfurll" with three l's!  Amongst all these poignant phrases, there it is, simple and yet profound:  "Be calfurll."

And then Mommy wants to me write something too.  So up by the word "FRAGILE," she had me write out:  "Must be Italian!"  

Hopefully you get the joke...

I love these two girls.  Art is such a wonderful chance to express yourself, isn't it?  Even if that expression is that of a bunch of smarties.

When they let everyone in, we happily went to our seats - the same seats we had for "The Nutcracker," exactly.  These were up front row on the balcony.  Perfect for small fries like Madison.  She watched the entire thing and really enjoyed it.  So did Mommy and Daddy!

There's something infectious about the music.  You could call it docious-alli-expedicious-fragically-rupus, but that's going a bit too far, don't you think?  The choreography was spot-on, and things were energetic all the way until they started flying kites.  It was a great night - we really had a good time.  We even ran into Mary Poppins on our way out the door!

So it was a Jolly Holiday with Mary.  And of course a book about Moldilocks and some pi.  It was a really, really good day.  If there's one thing we all learned, it's this:  "Be calfurll."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dr. Seuss Night

One week from tomorrow is our "Movie Bash" night, which as you can see has a "Frozen" theme to it. Obviously, Madison can't wait.  We'll probably watch it on Tuesday night, the day it comes out - we reserved our copy months ago, going early in order to grab some "Frozen" lithographs.  These lithographs, by the way, are gone.  I mean, we have them, but they aren't available anymore.  Such is the popularity of this movie, which just recently crossed the $1 billion mark.  

Take a look at this:

This is one of Madison's notes that she was passing back and forth with a friend.  Her first "note!"  We don't know which message we wrote - and there are words on the other side too.  But this was something passed back and forth during class. 

It was school photo day, so Madison was dressed up very nicely.  This morning, she was posing for us in the kitchen, so we did a pretend photo shoot.  Although we actually took pictures, we were pretending to be the school photographer.  She's getting much better at those more natural smiles.  A few years ago, it took a little bit of effort to get that natural smile, usually achieved when Daddy bonked his own head and screamed, "Ow!"

After school as always there was ballet, where Madison got to the end part of the recital with practicing.  She'll be rehearsing for a while in class, leading up to May, which will be exciting for all of us.  However, tomorrow night is our visit with Mary Poppins, which will be fantastic.  We're so looking forward to that.

Tonight, however, was something of a different sort.  There was a school event, a "Dr. Seuss Family Night."  We went to the school after ballet, and did a few Dr. Seuss-themed activities, each one related to some learning.  In some cases, it would be counting words in a book, or counting one fish, two fish.  She also made "green eggs and ham," using white frosting and green skittles.  But the highlight of the night may be that she won a drawing.  There are always drawings each family night, and this was no different:  it wasn't a big thing, but she did win something.  Her choice was an eagle, which of course is the mascot of the school.  It's about two or three inches tall, and comes with a keychain so you can hang it on your bookbag.  That's where it is right now, hanging proudly!

When we got home - it was time for bed.  It's cold outside.  Yes, it's still technically winter for another week here, and the temperature is reminding us of this.  It'll be freezing again tonight, and a few areas of the country are getting snow again.  Insert global warming jokes here.

Before bed, we read more from our Bibles, about Sarah and how her name means "princess."  And how she had a baby when she was ninety years old.  After Bible and prayer time, we continued our comic book series with Ka-Zar.  This is one of Daddy's favorite series, one that Madison has been enjoying too - the next comic will feature the Rhino.  Classic villain!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Here's Daddy introducing the wonderful Reeder family, and their pet alpacas.  The one in the middle is actually named King James.  We had a great time tonight - Daddy was praying for a unique animal on stage for our "Don't Miss the Boat" series, and the idea of using alpacas struck last Sunday.  The Reeder family was more than accommodating, even honored we thought to invite them.  So come they did, with not just one but three alpacas!

Of course, there's a reason for the three:  apparently they get scared if left alone.  They think they'll get eaten or something.  So we met them at KidPak, where they did not get eaten.  Instead, they were celebrated as we presented the key points to our message from Noah's Ark.

It was an awesome evening!  The kids were captivated, as were the adults.  We took all kinds of pictures tonight, and everything went very well.  You can tell Daddy is pretty happy with the turn of events in this photo below:

Madison had a great day at school today, bringing in her leprechaun trap to school.  It was the same one we made last year, which we kept downstairs in mint condition.  Daddy carried it into school, due to rain and the fact that Madison already had a heavy backpack on.  As we brought it into the classroom, there before us was an empire of leprechaun traps, some about three feet tall (made of green-painted boxes stood up, one on top of the other).

Madison was quick to share with her classmates the logistics of the trap, how that poor creature will be lured up the "Shamrock Climbing Wall" towards the slightly obvious trap door, which he'll of course fall into.  Other children were sharing their own tips and strategies.  Seriously:  Any leprechaun that walks into that room is doomed.

There was tennis today, which was fortunately indoors.  Once again, the temperature is plunging towards an area around freezing.  Other parts of the country are watching it snow again, late into the season.  For the record, our groundhog missed the call this year.  General Beau has a blemish on his record.  Punxsutawney Phil, however, got it right on.  This has been an amazing winter.  It didn't have the epic beauty and timing of three years ago, but it did get Madison out of school seven days.

So off to bed we go, with the extra comforter on one last time.  It's great snuggle weather.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll even start another fire tomorrow!

Before going, here's part two of "Don't Miss the Boat."  This was more like an outline, but it seemed to work out well!

KidPak Adventures:  Don’t Miss the Boat!
Two by Two


HOST:  “Welcome back to Noah’s Ark, and as we just learned from Donald there – you don’t want to miss the boat.  Turn to your neighbor and say ‘Don’t Miss the Boat!’”

Let audience respond.


HOST:  “One thing that has always amazed me about this story is how the animals came from all over to get on board this incredible boat.  They all just lined up, two by two – as you just saw in that video clip.”

HOST:  “And as we were looking at those creatures, we realized something:  there’s a lot we can learn from them.  For example, they went on board two by two.  Another thing:  they got in line.  And oh, one more thing:  they just kept going.”

HOST:  “These are helpful hints we can use in our lives. And to help us all tonight, we thought we’d do something a little different:  we thought we’d bring out some of God’s wonderful creatures now and learn from them.  You want to see a few amazing animals?”

Let audience answer.

HOST:  “Let’s bring them out!”

CUE TRACK:  Upbeat


MELISSA and FAMILY enter with three alpacas

HOST:  “Everyone, say hello to our friends the Reeder Family!”

Let audience respond.

HOST:  “Now we’ve got some special friends up here – what are their names?”

MELISSA introduces her sons.

HOST: “That’s nice.  But I wasn’t talking about them!  How about these amazing creatures?”

MELISSA (or one of boys) introduces alpacas.

HOST:  “This is a special creature.  It must be for you to put so much of yourself into.  Can you tell us a little bit about the alpaca?”

MELISSA (or one of boys) gives a short description of the alpaca, how they came to have some, and why.

HOST:  “Okay, so last week we saw ‘Evan Almighty,’ and we saw how alpacas like to spit.  Is that true?  Should we have made the seats in the front row a splash zone?”

MELISSA, or possibly someone in her family, talks about alpacas, about spitting. 

HOST: “Okay, you heard it here first, folks!”

HOST:  “Now we’re talking about Noah the next few Wednesdays, and in fact our message is about animals tonight.  Our first point has something to do with working together – can you explain to everyone here about bringing your alpacas to competitions, and how it’s a team effort?”

MELISSA explains the collaborative effort between alpaca and trainer to become a champion.  Or, how the family works together to train.  The point is:  they don’t win alone!  Some photos of competitions may go here, along with possibly showing off on stage some ribbons and so forth.

HOST:  “That’s fantastic – and like I said, it’s something to learn from.  You see, a long time ago, these alpacas went on the ark, two by two, right?  And in life, God didn’t design us to work alone.  He wants us working side by side for His kingdom.  That brings us to our first point.”

CUE SLIDE:  Two is Better than One.

HOST:  “Two is better than one.  That’s common sense, isn’t it?  I’d rather you give me dollars instead of one, right?  Or two video games instead of one?  Ever heard of a BOGO sale before?  That’s buy one get one free.  Much better!  Let’s look at a scripture that’s just common sense.”

CUE SLIDE:  “Two people are better than one.  They can help each other in everything they do.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIrV

HOST:  “Two people are better than one.  That’s the first part.  But look at that other part – they can help each other in everything they do.”


HOST:  “It was probably a lot of effort putting that field together, but just like Noah, how many sons do you have?”

MELISSA:  “Three.”

HOST:  “Exactly.  And just like with Noah’s family, you all worked together to accomplish something.  And when challenges rose up, you didn’t face them alone – you worked together to overcome.  That’s just what God wants.  He doesn’t want any of us to be alone – that’s why we come to church together.  We’re here to help each other, and get help if it is needed.”

HOST: “Now let me ask you a question about these rules at an alpaca competition.  What are they looking for when judging a winner?”

MELISSA (or one of boys) explains the rules of judging alpacas a bit, and what judges are looking for.

HOST:  “So I couldn’t just show up and do whatever I want, right?  What if I wanted my alpaca to spit at all the judges – would that be a winner?”

MELISSA: “Probably not.”

HOST:  “But it’d be funny, right?”

MELISSA:  “Well…”

HOST:  “You’re right.  You see, we have to follow rules.  And that brings me to our next point.  Let’s take a look at it.”


HOST: “Get in line.  All those animals sure did get in line, didn’t they?  They poured into the ark, lined up and walked up the ramp.  And if they didn’t do that… they’d be over their heads pretty soon.  Let me share a scripture with you.”


HOST:  “There are no authorities except the ones that God has chosen.  These alpacas and their owners have to follow the rules if they are going to be a champion – and we’re no different.”


HOST:  “We too have to submit to His rules – His law.  And we have to submit to the people He has placed in charge.  When we do that, we’re obeying Him – and when we do that, we won’t be in over our heads.  Instead, we’ll find ourselves under His covering, and rising above it all.”

HOST:  “God is watching to see if you’re listening and obeying your parents, your teachers, your pastors, or anyone He has put in a position over you.  If God likes what He’s seeing, you’ll be on a faster track to success!”

HOST:  “One more question – and one more point.  Let’s get back to when you were first setting things up.  You had a lot of challenges getting this all put together, and then some more when you decided to take your alpacas to competitions.  Tell us a little about that.”

MELISSA (or one of boys) describes any challenges they may have encountered along the way.  Any funny stories about things that didn’t go right with the alpacas?  Maybe an escape or eating something valuable or spitting on someone, etc.?

HOST:  “Now in the end, they won.  Here they are, looking back at their success.  They’re doing great, aren’t they?  I’ve got one last question, but before that I think it’s time to say goodnight to our new friends on stage.”

HOST goes to dismiss alpacas and their handlers.

HOST:  “Let’s give a hand to them – and say a huge thank you to our guests for dropping by.  Weren’t they wonderful?”

Handlers and alpacas exit.

HOST:  “The last point before we go is this.”

CUE SLIDE:  “Gopher it!”

HOST: “ Gopher it!  That’s a play on words – Noah was building using gopher wood.  And he wasn’t giving up no matter what.  By perseverance, those snails made it to the ark, right?  They just did not give up.  Let’s look at a scripture you may have seen before.”

CUE SLIDE: “ Galatians 6:9”

HOST:  “Let us not become tired of doing good.  At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up.  If we don’t give up.  We’re wrapping up for the night, but I did want to ask you possibly one more question, Melissa.”


HOST:  “We were just talking about overcoming – about perseverance. In all of our lives, we encounter situations we need to overcome.  Do you have a story you’d like to share with us?”

MELISSA shares a brief testimony

HOST:  “Thank you for sharing.  And as we wrap up tonight, it’s important to remember what we’ve learned.  First, God didn’t make us to go through life alone – don’t go solo.  He put people here to help you, so ask.  And if you see someone that needs help, by all means do it.  Next, we’re supposed to get in line – and honor those who God put in authority over us.  When we obey them, we obey God.  And finally, the last thing we learned from these amazing animals tonight is this:  don’t give up.  Just keep moving forward.  Challenges come to all of us.  But quitters don’t win, and winners don’t quit.”

HOST:  “Melissa, we’re so thankful to have you here with us.  Would you close this service in prayer?”

MELISSA closes in prayer. 

HOST thanks MELISSA for visiting KidPak, and dismisses.