Wednesday, July 30, 2014

K-9


Tonight we had a final visiting animal for our "Get Wild" series - his name was Kreso.  Nobody knows how he got this name.  Seriously, the owner of the dog has no idea.  He looked it up, and apparently it is something from an Eastern European country, but that's about it.  Regardless, he was a fascinating visitor.  I'm not talking about the human officer above, of course - although he was interesting too.  I'm referring to the German Shepherd, a K-9 officer with Hall County.  Did you know he has a badge?  That's right, he has his own badge number.  He's a bomb dog, trained to detect any of the twenty-six different odors that lead him (and his partner) to a component used to make explosives.

Tonight, just before service, we placed some C-4 on the stage, just below the screen.  Officer Monica was keeping her eye on it the whole time to make sure it wouldn't go anywhere.  And when Kreso and his human handler came out, he immediately found the C-4 on the stage.  It's a good thing too - we didn't want our KidPak stage blowing up just yet.

But the interview was fascinating to all the kids - and to the adults too.  Madison was there in the audience to see the bomb dog, so she along with the others learned a thing or two about the life of a police dog.  For example, there are bomb dogs and there are drug dogs - two different trainings.  There are tracking dogs too, although bloodhounds have a greater ability there.  Kreso is a remarkably smart dog, and quite a playful one too!


After service today, Daddy got to pose with the two officers, and thank them a whole lot for their appearance today.  Meanwhile, Madison was learning from Ms. Halston one last lesson from animals, about working together, two by two.  It all tied together in the end, just the way we like it!

When all the kids were leaving, it was time to say another goodbye:  to our set.  Sure, we could have used some of that C-4.  But instead, we opted to use human hands.  Smaller human hands, of course - we had lots of help from our junior workers as we dismantled all the styrofoam from the stage, tearing the old temple down.  This set has been with us for three months now, dating all the way back to the beginning of Summer Xtreme.  We were getting kind of sentimental about it!


Even Madison was helping take the set down tonight.  She's such a helper.  And yes, she made sure that coffee station was in good shape too.  Madison wasn't asked to help out - she just naturally wants to help others do things.  Which is such a blessing to see!

Today she went to the other Goodwill locations on the east side, Oakwood and Buford.  She went there with the grandparents, who again probably look forward to these destinations the way we do SeaWorld or Disney World when traveling to Orlando.  There is just something about thrift shops!

It was a good day anyway.  Madison was excited about going to church tonight, although sadly there are only a few more Wednesday nights left to attend for her, considering the school season is starting very soon.

Amazingly the temperature outside is dropping as if it is fall.  Here we are - again in July - and yet we're thinking "fall" thoughts as the temperature today was 75 at around 1:00, and much cooler at night.  School isn't supposed to start this early, and the cooler weather isn't supposed to come in this early - it's doing something to our psychology here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beef Jerky Shades


Living large this summer.  Still in the midst of a free slushies with Sodapalooza, we stopped by an Obierto tent in the parking lot to sample free beef jerky.  And there, we got some free shades as well, ones that say "Obierto" on the sides.  Because if there is one company you know makes good sunglasses, it has got to be Obierto.  As for the jerky, we got some apple bacon beef jerky.  It says it is healthy and good for you on the package, so it must be, right?

Today was largely a work day though, although Madison, Mommy and the grandparents did make their first circuit of the Tour de Goodwill.  Today featured their first visit to the new Dawsonville location, followed by a visit to the Cumming location.  Madison got a few nice toys for her dolls, and of course the usual batch of nice clothing that Mommy tends to find on these missions.

Meanwhile, Daddy is busy planning for tomorrow night's service, and the weekend's new series as well.  The message booklet is done, which means it is now time to start focusing elsewhere for the new service.  No problem at all there - it was a quiet day at the office.

The news in the world of course is bleak.  We can blame this on the Feast Moons - I think there's another one coming up.  Remember how bad tidings visit the earth when the blood moons coincide with Jewish feast days?  A refresher course:  that happens four times this year, which is pretty rare.  The first one came and went without much going on worldwide.  Cue the scoffing.  But here we are with some worldwide conflicts that have a lot of potential for bad.  The stuff in Iraq is horrifying, the war with Israel is bad news, and the Soviet Empire seems to be rearing it's iron-sickle head once more, with war in Ukraine, and a simply horrific accident involving a jet filled with passengers.  Here in America, we complain about our own malaise - we as a nation just don't have that unity and patriotism we once had, our economy has not seen significant improvement in years, and our leadership is locked down in divisive inefficiency.

So we all focus instead on Weird Al getting a number one release.  I feel great for the guy, don't you?  After all this time, he sells more CDs than any other musical artist out there.  This could be a sad commentary on the state of music today, or you could take it at face value:  a lot of folks genuinely like the guy.  Either way, it's a thrill seeing the payback to a guy Daddy grew up listening to.

Of course, this isn't going to make any bad world news go away.  The point is, we worry and pray.  And we count our blessings.  We say our prayers each night, grateful for what we do have, which is far more than most.  We are in fact remarkably blessed, and each night we pray for peace and for healing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Frosted in July

Madison had a full day today, really making the last of her summer vacation days count!  This morning she arose and was ready for action - and before the weather turned out to be too hot, she and her grandparents went to the tennis courts for some more practice.  She's doing quite well, they think - even ready for a grown-up racket.  Of course the weather started getting much hotter, at which point everyone was ready to return to the house.

Mommy, Nana and Ba-Ba all had routine visits with the eye doctor today, so that pretty much made up for their afternoon - three appointments in a row made for a lot of time on the clock.

But Daddy and Madison filled that time with lots of activity.  After eating lunch, we defeated Zurg once more.  This time we defeated Zurg on Disney Infinity, something we haven't done yet.  With that accomplished, we could safely launch off to our next destination:  the library.


It was there that we saw this magician above - his name was Ken Scott, and the guy was incredibly quick and great with kids.  Plus, the magic act was spot on, with some funny puppet segments that had the kids laughing very hard.  Madison was right there with them, cracking up at the alligator puppet - and the Frankenstein puppet as well, which Daddy thought was pretty funny.

It's been a great year for magic shows, hasn't it?  Madison has certainly seen plenty of magic tricks, this being another really good quality show that we got to see for free because of our local library.

Afterwards, there was a surprise for Madison.  Daddy told her there was a surprise, but didn't say where we were heading to next.  She wanted to hear a make-up story, so on the way there, Daddy told an epic story involving Papi and Chloe the chihuahuas, Delgado, Gandalf and Vitruvius, Luke Skywalker, Hiccup and Toothless, Captain Hook and Peter Pan, Olaf, and a quest to find Elsa the Snow Queen - in order to defeat Chernobog, which was pretty random of course.  It was an epic tale that Homer would have been proud of, and when victorious, the parties involved all ate at a Chick-Fil-A to celebrate.  One by one they each left, saying their goodbyes to Elsa, who remained at Chick-Fil-A.  Daddy timed the story so that we got to the Spout Springs Chick-Fil-A at about 5:00.  And sure enough, just as told in the story, Elsa was still there!


The location at Flowery Branch was having a Frozen in July event, which had all kinds of things to do.  First of all, eat.  Okay, that wasn't exactly first:  the very first thing Madison did was pose with two girls dressed as Anna and Elsa - from which she received a mylar balloon with Elsa and Anna on it.  And she also received another cow.  This was an other Chick-Fil-A cow to add to the herd at home.

Anyway, we ate, and then traded in our toy for a cup of ice cream.  But this time, we could take our ice cream over to a special princess "toppings" table where there were sprinkles, chocolate chips, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and even pixie sticks.  Talk about a sugar rush!

Fortunately, there was a "bounce house" behind the restaurant.  They had an inflatable bouncy thing set-up back there, and Madison was pretty much the first one inside.  Daddy let her run off some of that sugar, thinking this would be it.  But no, it was certainly not it.  For unbeknownst to Daddy, there was also another free thing being set up next to the bounce house, that being a free snow cone stand.  We timed everything just right:  we were towards the front of that line, and got ourselves a few snow cones as well:  Madison got the bubble gum flavor, and Daddy got the flavor of pineapple upside down cake. Both were delicious!

We got home after all this, and arrived pretty much the same time as Nana, Ba-Ba and Mommy.  So we spent some time together talking and doing a recap of our exciting days.  Everything is fine with everyone's eyeballs, so that's good news of course.  The examinations were pretty thorough, something Daddy doesn't have to go through for a while.  How blessed he is to have great eyesight right now.

Anyway, we had just a little time to kill before bedtime, so Madison and Daddy pulled out the Star Wars Operation game - the one where you use these tweezers to pull out items without touching the metallic sides?  Madison started out a little rough, but before long she was doing just as good as Daddy, pulling out those hard-to-reach ones worth $2,000!  She won the game, which actually lasted for quite a bit - and following this it was time for bed.

This is where we finished the first Never Girls book.  Daddy read her the Bible, and then the final few chapters of the Never Girls book, after which Madison said we need to get the next two books in the series.  She's enjoyed hearing these stories quite a bit, so Daddy may race to the library once more to get another book in the series.

But not tonight.  We're all pretty worn out - it's been a great, full day!  Ironically, after meeting Elsa today, the temperature is supposed to take a good little drop...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Barista


Madison's first thought upon waking up this morning was this:  what about the coffee station?  Mommy and Madison have taken it upon themselves to clean up the coffee station, and resupply all the little cream dispensers - this despite the fact that neither of them drink coffee.  Nor does Daddy for that matter.  Or Josh.  Now, we'll all drink the fancy coffee, the Kona coffee or some sort of fall or Christmas coffee from time to time.  But we're not active coffee drinkers at all.  

And yet Madison was seriously concerned about this waking up for some reason.  When we got to church, this is where she headed to first.  It was not well-kept, as we missed church last weekend while on vacation.  But she immediately set out to wipe off the counter, straighten things a bit, and then filled up each of those trays on the left there with the different types of creamer available.  You can see from the photo above that she is quite proud of herself!


As for the service itself, we did go in the "tiny but mighty" direction with the visit of Scrappy the chihuahua.  While this may not be as impressive as the giant lizards or snakes of last weekend, or the exotic birds and monkeys the weeks previous to that, it was something altogether enjoyable for the kids and adults alike.  We spoke of our domestic friends, the dogs, and we talked a lot about the chihuahua, and how he has some very admirable characteristics.  As you can see, Madison got to meet Scrappy a few times - the two even had some fun back in the office:


After service, we spent some time helping prepare for KidPak EspaƱol, which was doing a service about keeping snakes out of the garden - sort of an 'Adam and Eve' message there.  

We got home and were about to take a rest, watching "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2," when guess who called?  Nana and Ba-Ba!  Believe it or not, they were almost here!  They left early enough, and didn't have the stop-and-go traffic that we tend to face on the way back, particularly in Henry County.  So they were almost here!

They arrived shortly afterwards, and it was a happy reunion, although we had just seen them less than a week ago in Florida.  We had dinner together, and showed off Madison's ballerina performance from the recital.  We also did some other catching up to, with conversations about school, and a new Goodwill opening in Dawsonville here - that's got the grandparents excited!

We played a bit of games for a while, as Nana and Ba-Ba went upstairs to rest from the long journey.  Madison and Daddy were playing a bit of "Toy Story 3," and added to our list of accomplishments of the day the task of defeating Zurg.  This is always a good thing.

But even without defeating Zurg, it was a good day across the board.  The weather is ideal, and the grandparents arrived safely.

Our original plan was to have the alpacas in service again this morning, but that fell through due to a flat tire on one of the trailers carrying the animals.  And yet the chihuahua service was exactly perfect for the morning.  Plus, everyone - all the kids and more - got shutter shades as a giveaway in their classrooms.


And Scrappy was a bit hit too, of course.


But Scrappy was scheduled for Wednesday - and that left a vacancy.  What to do about that?  Having watched "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," Daddy spoke with our friend, the officer who spends time at KidPak.  Her name is Monica, and she's a huge Disney fan herself - we were actually both in Orlando the same time last week.  In any event, we talked about getting a K-9 dog on stage Wednesday night, and guess what?  It's going to happen!  God is good - we'll have another amazing animal on stage this upcoming Wednesday.

We said our prayers tonight, and read from the Bible - and then from the Never Girls book:  Madison is really into this book now.  We're on chapter eight, and it appears as if we'll be reading from the following books soon as well.  They are written just right for Madison, with all kinds of imagination thrown in - she's enjoying this story before bed.

But this Neverland theme is one that is been ongoing, hasn't it?  This afternoon, Daddy challenged Madison to see what kind of lessons we could learn from the stories of Neverland - lessons we could preach at KidPak that have a point.  And right away she nailed one: "Think of a happy thought.  Any happy little thought."

Daddy smiled.  And we thought of some more points and more, brainstorming a bit together the beginnings of a new series... think of a happy thought!

"Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things." Philippians 4:8 NIrV

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Taco Truck


This morning we continued our trips to Lowe's, this time creating a food trucks.  Daddy has been slightly obsessed with the idea of eating from a food truck, probably based on a video he saw with Dr. Doofenshmirtz last year.  There are ice cream trucks, but then food trucks are another matter altogether.  There are plenty at Downtown Disney, but we weren't sure about the gluten cross contamination, so we avoided those for the time being.  Eventually, we will have our food truck entry here on the blog with a highly detailed entry and photos!

Sadly, this taco truck did not serve food.  It was pretty fun to build, however.  Madison was doing most of the hammering, and putting stickers on for this one.  And of course collecting the patch at the end of the thing, part of a growing collection that is starting to completely cover her apron.  She proudly wears it each time, and of course gets a lot of commentary.  The same girl works there each time, and recognizes Madison as she walks up the aisle.  It's been a great little get-a-way for Madison and Daddy, where she's been learning some pretty basic carpentry skills - and it's all fun and free!

We were spending some time today prepping for service tomorrow, after being thrown a small curve ball about which animals could be here - suddenly tomorrow is all about the chihuahua, which is funny because it was a bonus message to begin with, now suddenly what our Sunday is all about.  Tiny, but mighty!

It's because of this that we watched the movie "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" tonight, one that Madison enjoyed a lot more this time around.  Certain things were cracking her up throughout the flick, to the point that she's looking forward to meeting Scrappy tomorrow. Scrappy is a chihuahua that belongs to one of our volunteers, last seen here in the jousting video we did a few years ago.

Madison actually wants to watch both of the sequels to the movie, starting with "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2" tomorrow afternoon.  I'm not entirely sure why we're obsessed with chihuahuas all of the sudden, but there it is!

Today Daddy was at work for a good part of the day, while Mommy was busy at home with prepping of her own, getting the house all nice and clean for Nana and Ba-Ba, who are driving up tomorrow from Florida.  It'll be another great week for Madison, who is looking forward to visits to the pool, and visits to the tennis court just as much.  We've got one more week of summer vacation for Madison, which is ridiculous to we as parents.  Sure, we're glad to have her in the educational process longer - but we are so adjusted to our own childhood's schedule, going to school AFTER Labor Day.  Labor Day is over a month away though!  

School is so associated with the fall season, that here we are in July, thinking "fall" thoughts, about apples, the change in weather, October activities and so forth.  And we're not even in August yet!  It's still July, with actually another week to go.  And yet, even the weather outside seems to think it is almost fall:  next week we're due for a temperature drop, believe it or not.  And overall, it's been a cooler summer, or at least it seems that way.  The frequent rainstorms have kept the sun blocked out a bit, with overcast skies and less direct blazing sun.  

But it has been a great summer for us, hasn't it?  The vacation was ideal, and we've certainly kept Madison busy with four different camps this summer - tennis, ballet, art, and Summer Xtreme.  We'll start up with the classes again soon, with a different schedule (hopefully determined soon), but we feel like Madison has had a balanced summer, with scheduled activities, and plenty of down time as well.

If only we could find a food truck... then things would be beyond awesome.  They'd be be-awesome!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas in July

video

This morning we had Douglas Fir, the singing Christmas to wake us up.  Why?  It was Christmas in July!  Today is July 25th, so we therefore did a little surprise for Madison.  We brought the tree up and hooked it into some Christmas music, and got our Christmas hats on.  We even had a few cheap presents wrapped up - a coloring book, and some magnets with words on them to spell out sentences on the refrigerator.

Madison was quite surprised - this of course was completely illogical.  We had some Christmas music playing for a bit this morning, but soon it was time to get down to business:  we had some shopping to do today, and Daddy had work of course.  Madison and Mommy finished up the back-to-school shopping, and did some grocery shopping as well.  Daddy was at work, preparing for the weekend's service, and working on some more elements for the "Under the Sea" series that is coming up.  Have we shared any graphics for that with you yet?


We've been plotting out a storyline to cover the weeks, and working on videos to make as well.  There is so much to do, and such a short time to do it in.  But that's how we work around here at KidPak!

Tonight Daddy got with Madison, and Mommy and we had ourselves a big taco dinner, which is coincidental, as we're making a taco truck tomorrow morning at Lowe's.  Afterwards, we played an old game that Madison got for Christmas in July - "Toy Story 3."  The fact that this one came before "Disney Infinity," made by the same people, is fairly obvious once you play the game.  That said, Madison enjoyed it greatly.  We hadn't plugged in a game for a few weeks now, so a little gaming was overdue for us!

But don't worry - we had our literary fix tonight before bed.  Daddy read a little more of the Bible tonight before bedtime, but he also read a bit of the the free book that Madison got from Border's the other week:  "The Never Girls."  This continues the theme of Neverland, which has been on repeat lately for sure.  The other night, Madison watched "Hook" for the first time, this after watching the two Disney movies of the same name.  And then there's Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and the Tinkerbell movies... plus our hearing the "Star Catchers" books.  Lots of Neverland going on.  This new book Daddy was reading to Madison was fairly simple at the start, and connects to the Disney Fairies series we were reading earlier, where the fairy Prilla has a significant part.

Daddy brought up the idea of doing a Neverland series at KidPak with Madison, and she brightened up quite a bit.  Maybe that's something we do down the road?  Until then, we'll all be visiting Neverland now... in our dreams...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kangaroo


We apparently aren't tired of the animals yet.  This afternoon, Daddy took Madison to the local library where once again Wildlife Wonders was on hand with a presentation, and a few animals to show off.  This would be the third time in a few weeks that Madison has seen Wildlife Wonders, thanks to the recent visits at KidPak.  This past Sunday, they were at the church with all kinds of reptiles - Madison missed that due to our vacation.  HOWEVER, she made up for it today, as she saw a Madagascar boa, a glass lizard, and a baby alligator as well.  The favorite might have been the kangaroo though - Madison got to pet this little girl, who showed an extra interest in Madison as shown in the picture above.   I think baby kangaroos are called a joey.  It's difficult to call a girl kangaroo a joey though, as that's a boy's name, right?  Anyway, she had a good time at the library, and of course we picked up a whole lot of new books while we were there.  And movies too.  The library has been such a valuable resource for us!

Madison was definitely on a pony kick today, playing with the ponies, and watching them onscreen for a bit.  It's so entertaining listening to her play - her dialogue back and forth is priceless as she imitates each pony interacting with each other on some grand adventures.  She's making up stories as she goes along, using her imagination, and not at all embarrassed to be talking it all out as the ponies spread their adventure all over the great room.

We did quite a bit of catching up today, and cleaning too.  It's been a week to do just that, and we've been doing it at a nice, slow pace.  We've got stuff to do though:  a list is there of things to accomplish.  One at a time, we'll knock them all off the list.  One impending item is a BYOT item.  We want to get Madison something better than a Kindle, so we're doing a bit of research on what to get her.  We didn't want to spend too much, as we didn't want a high-priced item off to school everyday just yet.  So there we are with that.  And there are other tasks to be done.  Right now, Mommy is preparing the guest room for Nana and Ba-Ba to arrive on Sunday.  It'll be nice to see everyone again.

We were wanting to keep the nautical theme going with movies tonight, so we started this new one that we got at Goodwill that nobody had ever seen before:  it was a movie adaptation of the television series "Flipper."  And... we shut it off about twenty minutes in.  Fortunately, Daddy was on hand to falsify what was going on in front of us on the screen - who on earth thought that was a good idea to put in a family movie?  We stayed with it a little longer, but there was one more scene on top of that and we got to the point where we were wondering what else could be in this movie and decided not to chance it.  Note to self:  watch movies ahead of time to see if they are okay.  SO ANYWAY, back to Spongebob!  We're on this Spongebob marathon right now, and yes, nautical nonsense is something we wish.  We still have some other themed movies to watch, including "Finding Nemo" and "Dolphin Tale."  The theme continues, as we keep writing new material for our upcoming series.  In fact, we chose our memory verse for the series recently - and Daddy even did a little write-up about it.  Here it is below:


Memory Verse: "Once again You will show loving concern for us...  You will throw all of our sins into the bottom of the sea." Micah 7:19 NIrV

     Are you looking to go deeper?  How about to a place called Challenger Deep?  It is the lowest, deepest known point in the ocean, located at the southern end of Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.  It’s 35,756 feet down – that’s nearly seven miles straight down.  Throughout our entire history, only three people have made it that deep – the most recent visit in 2012, for about two and a half hours.  If you want to know where the bottom of the sea is, look no further.  
     It is a place on this earth that no one goes, where no light reaches and the temperature plummets to extreme lows.  It’s hard to imagine surviving down here, and yet God has created life that not only survives, but also thrives.
     One thing does not survive though.  In the book of Micah, it is written that God tosses our sins to the bottom of the sea.   We are very happy to report that recent explorations of Challenger Deep didn’t discover any our sins piled up for all to see.
     And that’s because they are gone forever.  When God was saying He’d throw our sins to the bottom of the sea, He was simply making this point:  they are going to a dark place where they will die, and be gone forever.  Nobody will remember them ever again, because of God’s loving concern for us, and a love that’s even deeper.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Secret Cow Society


Madison went to church again tonight, and as you can see above she was having a good time.  This is her standard silly face, a picture taken just after our service tonight in the office.  Daddy's elbow is resting on a cage for a dumbo rat, one we call Ratzilla, but one its owner calls Willow.  We had a few pets visit tonight, also including a bearded dragon.  The name sounds pretty impressive, but it is in essence a tubby lizard.  Or, perhaps this one was tubby because of his diet.  Regardless, we had more pets for our animal theme - Daddy knew someone who had these animals, and we arranged to put them in a skit, and a really weird one at that.  This has to do with the fact it was written rather hastily, and needed to involve the two pets, and also the story of Rebecca and the camels.  But sometimes writing something under immense pressure can turn out well, and that was indeed the case tonight - it was bizarre, fun, and there was actually a point to it all in the end.

Today was obviously a work day for Daddy.  And it was a play day for Madison, who has been obsessed with the ponies lately.  She has them on with a marathon on the television, and has them all lined up on the kitchen floor, along with pony outfits and so forth.  It's pony-palooza!

Mommy, of course, is still trying to catch up with the housework and so forth.  She also got some things done outside as well, but she's getting the house ship-shape, especially because we have some visitors coming on Sunday:  Nana and Ba-Ba are coming up for an appointment, so we'll be seeing them rather soon.

Anyway, I'll post the script here below, simply to share one of the more weird things I've ever written.  But again:  it was well-received, so we went home content in that regard.  And of course the rest of the service was fantastic, from worship to the message at the end.  It was good to be back!

******** 

NARRATOR:  “Once upon a time, there was a lowly Bible person named Pepe.”

PEPE enters, dressed in Bible clothing.

NARRATOR:  “Here he comes now.  Look at Pepe.  He is indeed a lowly Bible person.”

PEPE:  “What are you talking about?”

NARRATOR:  “Your clothing.  It’s Bible clothing, right?”

PEPE: “No, this is actually something I got at Sears.”

NARRATOR:  “Wha?”

PEPE:  “It’s a new trend.  Soon everyone will be wearing Bible clothes like this.  Really comfortable stuff!”

NARRATOR:  “Right.  Anyway, he was walking along one day when suddenly he discovered something unbelievable!”

CALEB enters STAGE RIGHT with WILLOW, but PEPE is looking at STAGE LEFT, pointing at an Aquaman comic book.

PEPE:  “Aquaman!”

NARRATOR:  “No, Pepe.”

PEPE:  “Aquaman!  Look right there, it’s the one where he’s battling a shark!”

NARRATOR: “ Behind you!”

PEPE turns to see CALEB, and runs to him.

NARRATOR:  “Yes, it was then that Pepe noticed the poor boy and a… a… what is that thing?”

PEPE:  “This is a dumbo rat.”

NARRATOR:  “Why is it called that?”

PEPE:  “It’s better than calling it Big Honkin’ Ratzilla.”

NARRATOR:  “Good point.  What’s his name?”

PEPE asks CALEB, and tells the NARRATOR:  “Willow.”

NARRATOR:  “Well just moments ago, this poor boy was taking Willow for a walk through the Mall of Georgia when he saw something EVIL.  Something TERRIFYING.  Something DIABOLICALLY MALICIOUSLY HORRIFYING!”

PEPE:  “What was it?”

NARRATOR:  “I can’t.”

PEPE:  “Tell us!”

NARRATOR:  “It was a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE SIGN.”

CUE TRACK:  HORROR

PEPE screams.  NARRATOR screams.  WILLOW screams.

NARRATOR:  “This poor boy and Willow … they fled!  Pepe, follow him through the audience as they show you all the places they escaped to.”

PEPE, CALEB and WILLOW tour the audience, showing off WILLOW.

NARRATOR:  “They escaped, fleeing down this treacherous path where all sorts of hidden dangers lurk.  But they did not know that they were heading straight for… a dragon!”

PEPE:  “A dragon!”

NARRATOR:  “Yes.  Keep walking.  A dragon.  And so, they made their way through the forest of no returns.  Which is a terrible place if you don’t have your receipt.  Anyway, they made their way to this platform, which looked remarkably like the stage.  Which is where Pepe met them to begin with.  And that’s when Pepe felt sorry for the poor lad and his big honkin’ ratzilla.”

PEPE: “I feel sorry for you.  It must have been a scary thing.”

NARRATOR:  “But it wasn’t as scary as the moment that happened just now.”

PEPE: “ When?”

NARRATOR:  “Now.”

PEPE: “ What?”

NARRATOR:  “It’s the moment… a DRAGON came out on stage!”

PEPE:  “NOOOOOOO!”

JAYLA enters with a bearded dragon.

PEPE:  “That’s a dragon.”

NARRATOR:  “Yes.  It’s a bearded dragon.  Cute little fella, isn’t he?  But here’s the deal.  Both of these pets were traumatized.  For both of their owners had seen … oh, it’s too awful.”

PEPE: “ Not again.”

NARRATOR:  “Yes, they saw a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE SIGN.”

CUE TRACK:  HORROR

PEPE screams.  NARRATOR screams.  BEARDED DRAGON screams.

NARRATOR:  “It’s true.  That’s when this poor girl and her pet bearded dragon fled- fled I tell you!”

PEPE:  “Not again.”

PEPE leads JAYLA and bearded dragon through audience.  As they tour the audience…

NARRATOR: “ Yes, they went down the scary path through the Forest of Gumps, and the past the dangerous jungles filled with wild, man-eating …rabbits!”

PEPE:  “Rabbits.”

NARRATOR:  “Yes, the fluffy ones are the most dangerous, the ones with those little scary little teeth that do that little nibbly thing.  Frightening!”

PEPE: “Do you mind?  You’re scaring the kids.”

NARRATOR:  “Anyway, they moved all the way through the terrifying trail, which just so happened to get them straight back to the this platform area that looked remarkably like our stage, where we just were moments ago.”

PEPE: “Well whaddya know.”

NARRATOR: “So the trouble was this:  there was a need.  These poor kids were there, with their animals.  And there was nobody to help.  And that’s when Pepe stepped forward with courage.”

PEPE:  “Here.  This will brighten your day.”

PEPE hands them each gift cards.

PEPE:  “Gift cards… to SEARS!  Each one of these cards has fifteen thousand dollars on it.”

NARRATOR:  “Wow!  Now kids, you can buy yourself a new weedeater, a new grill, a new washer and dryer, a new lawnmower, a new taco stain removal kit…”

PEPE:  “Do you mind?”

NARRATOR: “ And a new Land’s End T-Shirt.”

PEPE:  “Are you done?”

NARRATOR: “ Yes.”

PEPE:  “Good.  Now take these, and go!  Tell them at Sears that I sent you.  They’ll take good care of you.”

JAYLA and CALEB exit STAGE RIGHT with animals.

NARRATOR:  “At this point, Pepe smiled and sighed.”

PEPE sighs loudly.

NARRATOR:  “He had done a good thing.  He didn’t have to, but he had a good heart.  And little did he realize it, but someone else was watching: Monsuier La Vache..”

LA VACHE enters STAGE RIGHT, with VEAL, both dressed as cows.

LA VACHE:  “Hello, my friend.  I am the one they call Monsuier La Vache.  This is my associate, Monsuier Veal.”

VEAL:  “Bonjuour.”

PEPE: “ Bonjour?”

VEAL:  “Le Moo.”

LA VACHE:  “We are the secret French cow society.”

PEPE:  “What?”

VEAL:  “You probably didn’t notice us in this pasture behind you there.  Because we were dressed as cows.”

PEPE: “ What’s going on?”

LA VACHE: “Each year our society members hide in fields, and watch.  We watch.”

VEAL:  “We watch.  Moo.”

LA VACHE: “ We watch and see who has a good heart.  Who is worthy!”

PEPE:  “Worthy of what?”

LA VACHE: “Of what else, my friend?  Worthy of a lifetime subscription to Aquaman.”

PEPE:  “Me?

VEAL:  “Oui.  And a cow calendar.  Congratulations.”

NARRATOR: “ This was no doubt the most exciting moment of Pepe’s young adult life.”

PEPE:  “This is the most exciting moment of my young adult life!”

LA VACHE:  “Come with us, and we'll give you all the details.”

VEAL:  "And a free cowbell."

NARRATOR:  “And so, the three left the scene, with Pepe being rewarded for his good heart and efforts.”

VEAL:  “Adieu.”

NARRATOR: “ But the thing is this:  God is watching YOU right now.  And He’s got something even greater than a lifetime subscription to Aquaman.  He’s watching to see who has a good a good heart.  Is that you?”

Let audience answer.

NARRATOR: “Good.  And from all of us here, adieu!”


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cheese Sandwich


So Madison was watching "My Little Pony" again when Daddy got home, and this pony above was on.  Daddy didn't recognize the voice, but when the musical montage started to play, Daddy noticed that this bit sounded an awful lot like a Weird Al polka number.  And then the hair struck me, and the shirt.  And the voice.  And lo, after doing a quick bit of research, therein Daddy found it was Weird Al himself, lending vocal talents to an episode of "My Little Pony" as a character Cheese Sandwich.  Notice the two pieces of bread stretching somewhat, with cheese in the middle - it appears to be an accordion, right?  Right.

Madison did not plan this at all - she doesn't know it, and didn't plan on watching this episode because Daddy was talking about Weird Al this week.  But for the past eight days, Weird Al has released one music video per day, all tied to his newest CD release, "Mandatory Fun."


I might add that I love the cover, wondering if it was in any way inspired by the recent Sochi Opening Ceremony.  And the music is fun too - Daddy actually recognizes some of the source material this time around, not quite as clueless as he used to be about pop music.  There comes a time with us older folks that Weird Al is spoofing popular music that you've never heard before, because you don't listen to pop music that much anymore.  That's pretty much Mommy and Daddy right now.  In fact, we're in this strange position of hearing a Weird Al song before the actual song he is parodying, which is kind of funny when you think of it.  But I digress.

This did inspire Daddy to drag out that Weird Al television series, with the thought of sharing the episodes with Madison.  I think she'll like them - she's just that right age...

Anyway, today was a "GET BACK TO WORK" day for Daddy, with a lot of catching up to do.  Mommy had a lot of catching up to do at home herself.

Before we did any of this, we had one civic duty to perform:  vote.  The primary run-offs were today, and we had four separate offices to vote for.  Mommy and Daddy took Madison along to the polling place to show her the process this morning.  We each filled out our forms and collected our cards to put in place.  Children were not permitted to touch the voting apparatus, but Madison could watch us vote.  We explained things every step of the way, casting our ballots - and then getting to the best part:  the "I'm a Georgia Voter" peach sticker.  Yep, Mommy and Daddy each got one as always.  But Madison got SEVEN.  Yes, the polling station worker there gave her seven stickers, and complimented her for wanting to see Mommy and Daddy doing their civic duty.

As of right now, one important race is still too close to call, and is like to go to a recount.  This after a previous election already, resulting in a run-off.  As for the other three races, Mommy and Daddy voted for two out of three of the winners, so we're feeling a little better after the voting this time.  One candidate who won we got a handwritten note from - his brother had come by the house personally, which was pretty neat.  Also, it turned out he was a celiac, which isn't far off from the condition that Mommy has herself.  The brother is opening a Mexican restaurant in Cumming soon, one that has an entirely gluten-free side of the kitchen.  This is great news indeed, as we'll probably be there opening day.  And how interesting that the guy won the election:  he was an underdog against a long established incumbent.  My guess is the personal touches in the campaign - the grass roots nature of it - were pretty extensive.  The election wasn't even close, and the thing is there weren't too many differences between the two candidates, philosophically.

Anyway, Madison hadn't been to a polling station before, so this was a neat little teachable moment about civics and so forth.  We talked to her on the way there and back about voting for the person we feel represents our feelings the most.  She got the idea mostly, although we didn't dare try to explain the primary system.  By the year's end, we'll have voted three times - maybe four if there's another run-off.

So Daddy did a lot of work today and so did Mommy.  Madison had a lot of playtime with the ponies - there is no Cheese Head toy that I know of right now, otherwise you know I'd have that one for Madison pretty quick.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Butterfly Rainforest


Madison got to meet some butterflies today - face to face!  We left Nana and Ba-Ba's house this morning, but weren't quite ready to go directly home just yet.  That's why we dropped by the Butterfly Rainforest, a part of a museum located in Gainesville, Florida.  The museum there is pretty big, but it is the butterflies that are the real draw.


And there were thousands of butterflies there.  Seriously, they flittered around the butterfly rainforest, falling all around like snow, floating all around.  It was very beautiful, set in a rain forest with streams and tropical plants and a path wandering all throughout.


And the butterflies kept landing on Madison too.  This one was a purple one that landed on her bow, which made it look just like some sort of hair decoration.  Madison was cracking up each time the butterfly landed on her, or anyone else.  Which was a lot.  She had a great time!


The butterflies, by the way, were native to Southeast Asia - a theme of this year's presentation.  Something tells me this won't be our last visit either.  We could have stayed at this museum a lot longer.  There were plenty of other things to see, lots of exhibits about the native Indians that lived in Florida first, as well as all sorts of geological samples, and lots of upright skeletons of ancient mammals.  No dinosaurs though, but the museum made up for this with wooly mammoths and giant birds.

We stayed a lot later than we planned.  And we still needed to get home!  So from Gainesville, Florida to Gainesville, Georgia we drove.  It was a pretty smooth drive this time - even in Henry County.  This is on account of our leaving Florida so late.  We got home about 8:00, having been gone seven days - longer than any vacation in recent history.  What helped the drive was our listening to "Peter and the Star Catchers," on the way back.  It took much of the drive down, and much of the drive back to hear the entire story. But we enjoyed it.  Daddy read the book before, but it was all new to Mommy, who loved it.  And to get into things, Madison watched "Peter Pan" and "Return to Neverland" in the back seat.  She brought those movies earlier, with no idea of our plans to listen to this book.  It was sort of a Neverland theme all the way home.

We had a couple stops at rest areas and a nasty McDonald's on Indian Trail Road.  We won't go into details on that, as it would gross you out.  But we did get home safely, and we thanked God for the amazing vacation we had.  Such favor!  Such a blessing!

And such fatigue.  Seriously, we're all a bit worn out.  So like butterflies, our eyes are fluttering as we walk up the stairs and head to our beds - the first time we've seen them in a week.  We're all ready for a good long nap!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bocce Ball


We all shared a first today:  bocce ball!  Daddy had never played before, and neither had Madison or Mommy.  Our thoughts were of the local mini-golf course at a place called Tree Tops, but it was advertised as open until 8:00 on Sundays online, but when we got there, a sign on the door said otherwise.  So back to Ba-Ba and Nana's we headed, contemplating what else to do - until we passed by the bocce ball courts.  That's when we all admitted we never tried the game before - one that Nana and Ba-Ba knew how to play.  But we did not!


Still, Madison did really well!  It had to do with the fact that Mommy and Daddy over-tossed the ball for the most part!  But Madison even did well against Nana and Ba-Ba too.  She was throwing the red ball - take a look below to see how she did the last round:


She was our pallino girl tonight.  That's the name of the little white ball - a pallino.  Either that, or the pallino is an inner organ.  By the time we were done, we still weren't quite sure of the ending scoring rules.  Still it was fun though, especially for Madison.

To describe this day is summed up thus:  bocce ball was our most exciting event of the day.  Madison went swimming early in the morning with Nana, the two of them off and having fun together for a little over an hour.  Mommy and Daddy spent the day reading, doing a puzzle, playing Scrabble, and relaxing a bit.  It was a long day just lounging about really.  Daddy did a bit of writing, working on a new message for KidPak next month, but overall there wasn't much accomplished in this one day.  Unless you count resting, in which case we accomplished a whole lot!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to Court


Madison looked sharp today playing tennis against pretty much all of us.  She looks forward to tennis almost as much as swimming or anything else - she perks right up when the thought of getting to the court is present.


Nana and Ba-Ba saw quite an improvement in her play since the last time.  Madison of course has had tennis lessons throughout the year, and most recently tennis camp.  And as she loves the sport so much that we'll no doubt be signing her up for tennis lessons once more.  The instructor she has is kind and helpful.  The lessons are fairly repetitive, but that's the point - she gets better and better each time she tries a backhand or a forehand, or those rapid back-and-forth exercises.


It's hard to pick a favorite picture - to quote Captain Hook, Madison was showing "Good form!  Good form!"  Ba-Ba started things off by tossing her tennis balls one after the other, sometimes to one side and then to another.  Madison hit back ninety percent of them easily.


The weather was too warm to do much today, so we waited until later to play.  Actually, it was almost nightfall and the weather was cooler and even slightly overcast.  Always this week a threat of rain, with thunder in the distance.  But nothing came close today - and Madison got to spend well over an hour playing tennis with us all, and insisting Ba-Ba take a break alongside her for some water from time to time.


It was another day of rest today for us otherwise, as we spent our afternoon and morning lounging about at Ba-Ba and Nana's house, reading, playing Scrabble, doing yet another puzzle, coloring, and that sort of thing.  We've been well-fed this entire trip, as Nana and Ba-Ba have kept all kinds of food on the table.  We've eaten and eaten and eaten!

But today, Madison worked that food off easily.  We all did this afternoon - playing tennis and running back and forth to collect all the balls.  It was great tonight going back to court.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lego Hulk Smash!

This was our last day in Orlando - at least for this trip.  But we never just get up and leave Orlando.  There's always something a little more to do, of course.  Firstly, we slept in.  Then, of course we packed our stuff and got ourselves down for one more tasty - and large - breakfast.  

Afterwards, it was decided that we would go to see a movie.  It's the opening weekend of "Planes:  Fire and Rescue," and with that being a Disney movie, we thought why not see it at Downtown Disney?  This we did, and I have not been in a bigger theater before.  This auditorium was bigger than the one we saw "Muppets: Most Wanted" in, with two balconies and a screen that was as wide as our Cumming theater is long.  This place was HUGE.

We got our popcorn and our seats, which were easy to find because the theater was so big.  And it was cool too - outside the weather steamed, so uncomfortably hot with the sun beating down on us, punishing us!  But inside the theater where it was dark, things were nice and cool.  No wonder we stayed to the end of the credits - we wanted to make the moment last.

The movie was good.  We liked it better than the last "Planes" movie, actually.  Madison enjoyed it most of all, of course.  And she enjoyed the popcorn too.

Afterwards, we made our way back towards Ghirardelli's.  Got to get one last ice cream, right?  Of course right.  It was here that we made a short-cut through the LEGO store, and that's where Madison ran into an old LEGO friend:


LEGO Hulk smash!

Once again inside, we rested a bit in the air conditioned safety of the LEGO store, and let Madison play for a bit with the LEGOs.  We eyed a few toys, getting some ideas for Christmas.  But mostly we were looking around at all the great stuff in the store.

Satisfied with our break, we next made our way to the ice cream.  Two visits to Ghirardelli's in four days?  Unheard of!  But quite tasty!

And so, after having our ice cream, we then made our way back to the car in the parking lot.  This time around, it was easy to park - and easy to find where we left the car too!  And here's the part where we left Orlando.

It was a little later, but we still got back to Nana and Ba-Ba's in time for dinner.  We're always in time for dinner there.  So much food...!

But so much rest too.  We settled down for the night, turning in rather easily for the evening, back to a more familiar bed:  the ones in our guest rooms.