Monday, August 31, 2015


This morning we said goodbye to Madison for a bit.  We certainly prayed once again, and soon we were dropping Madison off at school.  She was doing fine with all the information coming to her - tonight she'll sleep at home with Nana and Ba-Ba, probably the first time she's spent the night without either Mommy or Daddy in the house.

We went to the hospital right after dropping her off at school.  It's a fairly lengthy check-in process, but it helped to see one of the doctors there who goes to Free Chapel.  Furthermore, we had some precious friends show up.  Camille and Cindi Barrett came this morning, as did Chris and Erin Smith.  Also, Pastor Lance showed up, and Pastor Dwayne.  Mommy saw everyone before going under, and before being rolled away for surgery.  It is always a difficult thing to see a spouse rolled away on a gurney.

But out in the lobby, our friends wanted to stay with me.  And we did stay - for many hours.  The surgery took quite a long time.  We were initially thinking this might not be a good thing.  Or, at least I was.  Only because Daddy was worrying about Mommy, constantly thinking about it.  But our friends kept Daddy's spirits high, praying for Mommy and keeping Daddy company the entire time.  Daddy's mother, Nana, and Aunt Shain came by as well, to check in on how things were going.  But it just kept going.  The hospital is great keeping us updated though - there was a graphic on a television screen, almost like at an airport, one where the visitors can keep track of the progress of loved ones through their procedure.  Additionally, the front desk would update folks indvidually on how things were going.  We got two updates:  "Things are going fine."

But what does that mean?

Suddenly, Doctor Lewis comes out to speak with Daddy.  And everyone remains quiet to listen.  The news was just miraculous:  no bag.  I know we can live with that, but it was what everyone was praying wouldn't happen.  It seems as if the polyps were actually located in a different place than previously estimated, as a colonoscopy can't give you precise geography of the thing.  The polyps still had to be removed - they are currently being analyzed.  At first initial scan, they didn't look invasive.  But rather than take a chance and have to return for surgery, the good doctor opted to go ahead and resection the intestines, cutting away a portion that had the threatening polyps in it.  The good news here is that the area that was cut away was different than previously thought.  And as a result, Mommy should be able to heal and not worry about a bag so much.  There'll be a few weeks of healing, and all that goes with it, but she will be 100% again.

Daddy took this in and felt an incredible surge of emotion.  Pastor Lance was there, as were the others - there was such rejoicing at that moment.  We called Mommy's parents and let them know.  Then Daddy's parents.  And then we announced it everyone with emails and social media.  Hundreds of folks were writing back praising God and celebrating with us.  It was a miraculous moment.

Sure, from an analytical side of things, you can call it what you want.  But the facts are these:  we thought we were going to have a longer road to recover, one with a colonoscopy bag.  It seemed likely in fact.  And now... we don't.

We waited a few hours after that to see Mommy.  Pastor Lance, Chris, Erin, Cindi, and Camille all waited until that moment.  Camille and Cindi even made a basket for Mommy.  And we walked into the room to celebrate with her.  That's where we are now, in room 5712.

Of course, Mommy has been mostly sleeping.  We know this drill - pain medication every two hours, and stuff for nausea.  We got to Skype Madison and Mommy's parents at home, and they got to peek at Zena, who was awake long enough to reassure everyone that she was okay.  Madison was worried, seeing Mommy in the hospital bed with so many tubes, but Mommy let her know it was going to be okay.  And it will be.

And that's why our hearts are filled with such gratitude.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Church was great this morning - we wrapped our ongoing story about "The Quest," which has been going on seven to eight weekends, by this point.  Madison was anxious, as were all the kids - and I think that story did not disappoint!  The rest of the service was great too, of course.  The message was about the Holy Grail, about the real source of eternal life mentioned in John 4:14.  Madison took plenty of notes, so much that Daddy scanned her book and sent it to Pastor Halston to take a look.

We got home, and there was the surprise.  Tomorrow we are having a major surgery.  Mommy may have to have a portion of her intestines resectioned in order to remove a few polyps, which may or may not be invasive and cancerous.  The end result could be a colostomy bag, and in fact is fairly likely based on the doctor's comments and information we've been given.  This is obviously not what we want.

So, it came as a wonderful surprise today that Pastor Lance and our dear friend Josh came over to the house, along with eleven others from KidPak.  They all had one purpose:  to pray for Mommy.  We socialized for a bit, and it was so sweet and wonderful to see so many friends there in support.  Especially considering there was another church event going on at that moment.  But there they were, and soon enough, it was time to get down to business:  prayers.  Mommy was placed in the middle of great room, and anointing oil was passed along, per James, chapter five.  And suddenly there was fervent prayer.  Bold prayer.  Madison was right there in the midst of it, watching everyone, and joining in with everyone in praying for Mommy.  It was such an unbelievably special moment.  The thought and love were so evident - all of them drove to our house to meet with Mommy and pray for her.

Tomorrow morning, we go to the hospital.  On the social network, we have a lot of people sending out thoughts and prayers - hundreds of them.  Mommy is very loved.  Madison prayed again tonight before bedtime.  We read a bit from the latest Jack Sparrow book, and but Madison wasn't quite ready for bed.  She wanted to 'spend more time with Mommy' tonight, so we extended bedtime by a halfhour or so.  We are certainly thinking about tomorrow quite a bit, but we aren't thinking about it alone!

Saturday, August 29, 2015


A little apprehension today, as the surgery is just two days away.  Folks are praying, and Nana and Ba-Ba are here to help out.  They drove up from Florida, and arrived rather early and easily.  It's always good to have them here, and of course this time they are very much needed.

Daddy did a bit of work today, preparing for our final entry in "The Quest" drama.  There's one more service next week, but it is one where we're showing clips from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."  Tomorrow, we'll finish up our drama, which has a little twist at the end.  It's been so much fun, and so much better than it was the first time we did it.  This is in large part due to our impressive new cast, and I guess some great new writing I suppose...!

So Force Friday is coming out soon, where all the new Star Wars toys are going to be released.  This used to be a big deal for Daddy, who collected all sorts of these toys - and still has many of them in the basement.  Recently, we added one action figure to the mix, a droid Madison has named H2-D2.  This was a robot made at the Droid Factory at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Madison chose him to be mostly purple, and also gave him a sombrero to wear on his head.  This sort of makes him stand out a bit!

Anyway, we thought today that it would be fun to make a background story for this remarkable droid.  Madison and Daddy made up this little story below from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  By the way, this is canon!


Before Han Solo met Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi, he met a droid named H2-D2.  This was back at a time that Han still had quite a debt to settle with Jabba the Hutt.  The end result was a stream of bounty hunters out to capture Han, and bring him back to Jabba's Palace.

Han was not quite ready for that, of course.  He'd been lying low, or at least attempting to, looking for ways to make the money he owed.  He and his friend Chewbacca had gone to a 'hive of scum and villainy' called Mos Eisley Spaceport, hoping to hook up with some much-needed work, and some much more needed credits.

While there, the two separated for a moment.  Chewbacca went towards an interesting cantina, and Han visited what looked like a pretty interesting restaurant.  It was called "Droid Loco," and if anything, it looked like a fun place to swing by.

He made his way into the restaurant, and sure enough, it was a fun little place.  Astromech droids were everywhere, serving food to the patrons - there were taquitos, tacos, burritos, and many satisfied customers.  Han found his way towards the back of the restaurant, and found a table in a small quiet room.  There, he waited for a server - if anything, he'd bring Chewie some food for later.

That's when the commotion started:  bounty hunters.  There were five of them, and they stormed into the front of the restaurant, making quite a bit of noise as they did.

"Nobody move!" one barked at the patrons there.  The five had drawn weapons, and immediately, the customers were quite obedient.  Han heard all the noise in the room next door, and figured the obvious: they were there for him.  Even worse, this room was a dead-end.  The only escape was a fight straight out the front door.  This wasn't looking promising.  He heard someone - or something - approach the room.

It wasn't a bounty hunter.  Not yet, at least.  No, this was an astromech droid, one of the servers at the restaurant.  It was a purple and white one with a sombrero upon its head, and it was quite noisy.

"Great," Han muttered.

"What's all that noise in the next room?" one of the bounty hunters was heard screaming.  "Go check!"

In less than time than it took to think, there he was:  an armed and dangerous looking individual walking through the door.  Immediately, he spotted his prey:  Han Solo, seated quietly.

Now Han was a quick draw, and was about to make short work of the misguided bounty hunter.  And the bounty hunter was thinking he'd do basically the same with Han.  But before any of this could happen, he was struck in the face by a flying taquito.

"Wha?" he said.  And then he was hit by a flying burrito.

He tried to swat these away, and find out where they were coming from.  But he never had a chance to, because at his feet was the purple astromech droid, with a small mechanical arm extended towards the thug's leg.

"What is that?" the bounty hunter thought.

These were his last thoughts for quite some time.  Because instantly, a blue arc of electricity shot out, zapping the intruder and dropping him to the ground, unconscious.

Han Solo smiled big.  "Not bad," he said aloud.  "What's your name, little guy?"

H2-D2 chirped a bit, and Han nodded.  "H2-D2, huh?  How many more of those bad guys are out there?"

H2-D2 once again chirped his reply.

"Four more," Han said.  "Not the greatest odds, but I'll take 'em."

Instantly, a rope shot out from H2-D2's midsection.  He shot out a grapple and hook, the hook part sticking into a wall nearby the entrance of the room.  Pulling tight, he rolled over to the other side of the entrance - he created a trip-wire.  The next person to walk in that room was about to take a nasty fall.  Han patted H2-D2 on his dome with a grin and said, "You know something?  I like you."

"What's going on in there?" one of the remaining bounty hunters called out.  The other room was tense.  What was once a nice idea to go out to eat turned into a hostage situation. 

There was no answer.  Han and H2-D2 waited to see what would happen next, Han's blaster at the ready.  All they heard from the leader was "GO!"

And that's when it happened:  two of the armed mercenaries raced into the room, charging in with full force and fury.  But before they could pull triggers or say anything at all, both fell hard.  They fell over immediately, tripped up by H2-D2's extended rope.  The perky droid was fast - it immediately raced over and zapped both of the villains on the ground, where they both stayed in a crumpled heap, unconscious.

"Three down, two to go," Han said.  "Odds are getting better and better.  And without me even firing a shot."

Meanwhile in the room next door, the two remaining bounty hunters called out to their partners in Han's room.  And hearing no reply at all, they began to panic somewhat.  What could possibly be going on?

Each one picked up their weapons and got ready for an assault.  The hostages in that room were understandably tense.  There were several astromech droids as well, each acting as restaurant servers - but now staying quite still.  The two thugs looked at each other and nodded, preparing themselves mentally.  And one of them held a thermal detonator, something that would make an awfully big explosion.

They were about to march into the room when suddenly, a small purple astromech rolled out, one wearing a sombrero upon its dome-shaped head.

"What's going on here?" the first thug wondered aloud.

As if in a response, H2-D2 whistled quietly.  It was a signal to the other astromech droids.

"This is ridiculous," the lead bounty hunter said, ignoring the tiny robot.  That was his first mistake, considering H2-D2 to be no threat whatsoever.  He continued, "Whoever is in there, come on out with your hands up or we'll throw this thermal detonator in there and blow you all to tiny bits."

The plan seemed solid enough.  The problem was that this thug had to get closer to the room to in order to toss his explosive device inside.  He walked towards the room, blaster in one hand and a thermal detonator in the other, walking right by H2-D2.

And that's when all his plans changed.  He heard a loud whistle - it was coming from that droid!  He turned to see what was going on, looking square at H2-D2.  And that's when he was struck in the face with a steady barrage of hot sauce!  It stung the villain's eyes, and he was temporarily blinded, screaming in rage at his own foolishness.  He fired a few shots of his blaster, but they were all stray shots fortunately.  And he didn't stay on his feet for long, for Han Solo himself rushed out of the room, ready for a brawl.

In mere moments there was chaos.   The other astromech droids in the restaurant got the signal, and all of them immediately surrounded the fifth scoundrel bounty hunter, zapping him left and right with powerful electrical charges.  What these little droids lacked in strength, they made up for in numbers - and soon, this howling bounty hunter was knocked off his feet, and held down by numerous other patrons who joined in the fray.

As for the leader of this villainous band, he never stood a chance.  Han Solo charged at him, tackling him downwards and slamming the blinded bounty hunter backwards into a patron's table.  Down he went, not getting up at all.

The restaurant cheered loudly!  In just a few moments, mere astromech droids had won a brawl with five armed bounty hunters holding hostages.

"H2-D2, huh?" Han Solo said.  He was looking down at his new friend, nodding gratefully.  "It looks like I owe you one."

H2-D2 chirped and whistled in response.

Han Solo laughed.  He said, "Okay, five then." 

He reached down and pulled something out of the pocket of the unconscious bounty hunter, grinning mischievously.  It was money, and quite a bit of it.  He handed it to the droid.

"Here," he said.  "Give this to the owner of the place to help clean up."

H2-D2 whistled once again, and caught Han by surprise.

"You own this place?"

H2-D2 beeped again, to let him know this was so.

"Not bad," he said.  "Not bad at all.  Look, you might want to take care of these guys before they all come to."

And that's when he came up with an idea.  A pretty wicked little idea, actually.  Already, the other astromech droids were cleaning up the mess.  Grateful patrons were helping out too - such was their love for H2-D2's little restaurant.  And soon enough, the five bounty hunters were each tied up, blind-folded, and on a spaceship scheduled for delivery somewhere on the distant planet of Hoth.  

But before any of that happened, Han Solo said goodbye to his new friend.  

"Thank you, my little friend," he said.  "I'll be back this way again.  You can bet I'll be telling all my friends about this amazing restaurant.  It's the best one on the planet!"

Then of course the awkward moment came right away, when he didn't know the name of the restaurant.

"Uh... what's it called again?"

H2-D2 chirped and whistled, and Han smiled.

"Taco Party," he said.  "Nice name.  It's a great place you've got here.  Can't wait to come back some time soon."

He patted H2-D2, and turned to leave.  H2-D2 whistled one last bit.

Going out the door, Han turned back, and said, "May the force be with you too."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pet Rock

Madison adopted a pet rock today, deciding to add a small microphone and make her pet rock a pet rock star.  Pet rocks were big in the 70's, I think - I don't really remember pet rocks.  I believe my parents probably thought about it logically and figured we could save a bit of money, and if I really wanted a pet rock, I could go outside and pick one up.  These pet rocks used to come in crates with air holes and a big label on the outside:  "PET ROCK."

Daddy just might wind up making one of those for her, but in the meantime, Izzy is content to sit on the kitchen counter and watch the goings-ons around the house.  Yes, Madison named her rock Izzy.  This sort of fits the fact that she's a rock star, although I'm not entirely sure why.  We just like the name.

It's been a fun tour of geology with Madison - I'm not so sure how much longer she'll be learning about rocks, but it's been neat to see and be a part of.

Tonight, Madison was very much looking forward to a birthday party.  In fact, it was the first thing she said when she woke up this morning:  "Tonight is Violet's birthday party!"

Here's Violet, who turned three years old this week.  She had her birthday party at the local Chick-Fil-A, which Madison has officially decided she likes.  For one, the indoor playground was just right for all the kids.  They were in there for quite some time, actually.  The big Chick-Fil-A cow came out too, towering over everyone of course.  Madison gave the cow a big hug, and all the kids got those official Chick-Fil-A cows again.  I say again, because I think Madison has seven or eight at home.  Now she really has a whole herd!

Tonight we read some more from Jack Sparrow - and watched a few episodes of "Ultimate Spiderman," which we're just now discovering.  It's a fun cartoon that introduces Spiderman to Madison, and Iron Fist and Nova to Daddy.  We'll probably be watching a few of those as time goes on here, along with more of those Twilight Zone episodes after Madson goes to bed.  We have our new binge-watching shows.

Daddy was at work all day today, of course.  We got done the details for Sunday.  And Mommy is getting ready for her big day on Monday.  Surgery is coming soon, and it is heavy on our minds and hearts.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rock Star

Today was the day that Daddy came to school at 10:00 for a rock show.  This was the kind of rock show that had actual rocks, as opposed to one with musical acts, like the Stones.  Ye-Ye let us have a bunch of rock samples, and we were able to show the kids samples of fossils, lead, fluorescent rocks, obsidian, coal, pyrite, quartz crystals, petrified wood, feldspar, asbestos, aluminum, copper, and actually quite a bit more.  Task one was showing the class the three different types of rocks that they've been learning.  The next stop was showing the kids the rocks, and then talking about what those rocks can be used for.  How is an element like copper important to children?  Well, without copper, you don't have video games.  So yeah, it's important.

Anyway, it went well.  So well, in fact, that Daddy did the same exact presentation next door in another classroom as well.  At the conclusion of each class, all the kids got to pick a free rock - you know those smooth stones you can get at some gift shops?  Yes, those.  But they go a long ways with kids, especially when the kids can pick their own rocks!  So everyone got a souvenir of the day, including Madison.

Afterwards, Daddy got to have lunch with Madison in the cafeteria, which was nice.  You sit up there on the stage, parents and kids having lunch together.  I think next time we do that, Daddy will sneak in some Chick-Fil-A or something like that!

Madison gave Daddy a hug, and then it was time to part ways for a whopping two hours.  Because she comes home earlier, and pretty much after that we zoom over to speech therapy.  Which we did.  Madison did some piano beforehand, and did her reading assignment in the car on the way down.  And after speech, we dropped by the library and had ourselves a "Let's rent a movie on the way home" moment.  I personally haven't had a moment like that in over ten years, thanks to the internet.  Having worked at Blockbuster in the early 90's, that was all the rage of course.  So it was interesting anyway:  Daddy and Madison walked into the library, found our movie we were looking for, checked it out, and left.

What was the movie, you ask?  It was called "Dog Days," part three in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movie series.  Mommy and Daddy hadn't seen this one yet, so it was a treat for all three of us tonight.  We had dinner first, and then we jumped on the couch to squeeze in that movie before bedtime.  Everyone enjoyed it - Daddy was laughing at the characters' dislike of that comic "L'il Cutie."

After the movie, it was straight to bed.  I told you we squeezed it in, and we sure enough did.  It was precisely 7:30 when that movie ended, which was precisely Madison's bedtime.  Of course, bedtime is more of a process.  The goal is to be lights-out and going to sleep at BOB time, which is 8:08.  Sometimes we vary from that, and wind up going to sleep at BIG time (8:16) or BIB time (8:18).

Anyway, we read the first two chapters of the next Jack Sparrow book, which had Mommy and Madison excited.  This is a fun series for Madison, who likes Constance the cat, even though Jack Sparrow apparently does not.  In a funny moment of coincidence, the first few chapters of this book feature a freshly deserted town, food still out and the heroes questioning where everyone could have went off to just leaving everything there as if it were all still up and running.  The coincidence involves our recent "Twilight Zone" binge - the very first episode is about that very concept.  We'll unravel the mystery that the crew of the Barnacle is facing (that's Sparrow's ship) as we read on, but the two girls in the house are captivated.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Strike another thing off the bucket list.  I've always wanted to try a turducken, because it is simply one of the goofiest ideas I've ever heard of.  Sort of like those wax cones you stick in your ears to clean them out - why not just use Q-tips?  Anyway, a turducken, for those of you who do not know, is a turkey with duck and chicken inside.  It's sort of a poultry meat frenzy, with a funny name on top of all that.  When I hear "turducken," I immediately picture Ken or Ryu shouting that phrase as they are doing a dragon punch on Street Fighter.

But I digress.  Today is a big day, a day of turkduckens, of course.  But it is also a day for the Burpnado! This is a term that Madison coined today, one she made up on her own out of nowhere - and Daddy thought it was too good to ignore.  The imagery is pretty amazing alone, as are the conditions that must have created this sort of meteorological event.  I'm assuming there was a low pressure system involved, along with a lot of soda.  Based on her descriptions, one burpnado apparently crossed over a bowl of soup - a fairly large one, evidently.  This in turn created an equally amazing phenomenon:  a Burpspout.  A burpspout is a burpnado that has made contact with liquid, sucking it upwards and launching it skyward.  Although this is simply an awesome sight to behold, I recommend doing so at an extremely safe distance, rather than get caught up in all of it.

Today was a day for work, and lots of it.  We also were doing a bit of prep for Mommy's upcoming 'week off.'  She has surgery on Monday, which is looming in every possible way.  We're nervous about it for all sorts of reasons, but we put it out there that this is happening, and everyone is praying for us as we approach the big day.  Mommy will be okay.  We'll be in the hospital for a bit, but Mommy will be okay.

Once again, Madison had ballet tonight.  She's certainly keeping busy after school, also doing a bit of piano.  And looking for her pants.  This has become a latest thing, collecting all the pants in the "The LEGO Movie Game."  The big question, "Where's My Pants?" will hopefully be answered soon!  Hopefully, they weren't all sucked up in some big Burpnado...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Emergency Origami Yoda

Piano again, and now we're off and running with practices and moving forward with this strange notion that yes, we can in fact play the piano.  Daddy is way behind Madison at this point, although he is attempting to catch up some.  He knows just enough of the basics, but Madison seems to be able to find her way around without much difficulty whatsoever.  Daddy is jealous, of course!  Practice makes perfect though, and that's what Madison has been doing - quite a bit of it this week without Daddy.  But in class, the evidence of her practice shown through.  She did well, keeping up and playing along with the class.  Her rhythm still needs a tiny bit of work, but I suspect that's something that comes time.

Yeah, a bad joke.

Presently, she doesn't have much homework - it's 20 minutes of reading per day.  This is easily accomplished on the way to and from her many destinations.  So homework is already sorted out by the time she gets home.  This leaves room for other activities, like origami.  Madison is quite addicted to making Origami Yodas.  She currently has quite a few of them, the ones that are easier to make.  These are called "Emergency Origami Yodas,"apparently several steps short of the more complicated ones.  Currently, there is one riding atop of Thor's Chariot, ready to go and visit with the folks at Valhalla.

We have to scan some of her homework as soon as possible to post it here.  She has thoughtful writings, and humorous writings as well.  Some of it was written during week one, where she describes herself.  Other bits are more creative endeavors.  She definitely likes the sea turtles, as you can see a lot of those in her drawings as of late.  Make-up story time, however, leaves behind the sea faring motif, and goes to a place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  She really liked a Clone Wars episode that featured padawans in training under Ahsoka Tano, who is by far her favorite teacher.

Other than, of course, Origami Yoda...

Monday, August 24, 2015


Ballet continued tonight, and Daddy thought this:  "Now that there's only a 20% chance of rain, I can go and wash the car while Madison is dancing."

As you would expect, it rained.  Again.  And out of nowhere, too.  I was seriously looking around the horizon, and there was no rain in sight anywhere.  And I knew the chances were very slim of it happening.  In fact, it didn't rain at all at our house.

But the law is this:  if you wash your car, it will rain.  People in California are suffering from a drought right now at this moment, but this is the solution.  If only their governor would issue a proclamation that announced that everyone in the state should go wash their car… there'd be enough rain to cancel out all the problems they've had this year.

Anyway, ballet went well.  It is now really going, two times a week.  Madison is doing well, enjoying it.  She does this position when she gets home, something to show us what she's learned:  it's a doughnut.  She's curved herself backwards so that her feet actually touch her head.  And while doing so, is not screaming in pain.  Because that's what Daddy would be doing!

So we're impressed.  Madison said she couldn't do it initially, but has practiced and stretched, and now she can really do it.  Good for you, Madison!

She's bringing in her iPad to school now, by the way.  The BYOT program is going this week, so Daddy and Madison were like hackers in the parking lot this morning before dropping her off at school.  We were checking for the wireless source and as quickly as possible hooking up with it.  All so Daddy wouldn't have to go into the school.  And we were able to do it - it was just funny racing against time in a parking lot with a little computer like that.  Madison used the iPad to look up some QR codes today, finding out information about rocks.  She's doing that all week, along with some other rock-related activities.  Of course, Daddy is there on Thursday.  And on Friday, Madison is making her own pet rock.  Remember those?  I don't.  That was before my time, but it will be fun making those again.  Daddy is going all retro and looking up the crate and packaging for it, so we can have a home for our pet rock.  We don't have a pet cat or dog, but we'll have ourselves a pet rock, right?

Tonight we finished up the latest Rush Revere book with a marathon of reading, this time getting through the Boston Tea Party and beyond.  That would be BTP, by the way.  Daddy and Mommy were in the Boston Harbor once upon a time, tossing tea over the side of a boat.  And tonight, we once again learned why they were tossing tea overboard.  Apparently there was a tax on the tea, and Madison learned along with us the colonists didn't want to pay the tax on the tea.  So three boats stayed in the harbor filled with tea that nobody wanted.  And the boats couldn't return unless the tea was delivered.  So the only logical decision to make here was this:  dress up as Indians, and throw all the tea overboard!

This is what the tea party was all about, about too many taxes without representation.  Which is not an altogether unfamiliar concept nowadays, but I digress.

Anyway, this was a neat book for teaching Madison a little history.  She's learned about Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere and even a bit about John Adams and George Washington.  Oh, and Benjamin Franklin too.  This is not a bad thing at all.

We said our prayers, prayers for Uncle Dave, prayers for Mommy and prayers for our world.  The stock market did some crazy movement today, as the world attempts to stabilize itself and its economy.  Big news on Wall Street today, but the conventional wisdom is that this isn't the big thing to panic about.  Apparently that comes later?

Anyway, Madison went to sleep with a smile on her face, and Daddy and Mommy went downstairs to continue binge-watching our latest show:  "The Twilight Zone."  Seriously, we've been watching a bunch of those old episodes, and some of them are pretty good!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Quest Goes On!

     Another service of "The Quest" continues, as today we focused on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was a neat little message tied to our theme of adventure and archeology:

     In 1947, a young boy adventurer on a quest for fun had discovered something in a cave that stunned the world:  The Dead Sea Scrolls.  Wrapped up and placed in jars of clay, these words from the Bible were handwritten a few thousand years ago, before Jesus was even born in Bethlehem. 
    The significance of this discovery was this:  reading these scrolls, archeologists discovered that over the course of 2,000 years, the Word of God had not changed one bit.  It remained the same, to the letter, as what we read in our Bibles today. 
     To think, these scrolls had remained in jar of clay, buried in a cave, just waiting to be unearthed.  Fortunately, they were discovered – and the Word was shared with the world once more.

     Around a hundred years after the Dead Sea Scrolls were first hidden in a cave in Qumran, the Apostle Paul wrote something interesting.  He wrote in the book of 2 Corinthians that we ourselves are all simple jars of clay.  He added that like the ones found by this young boy, we contain gifts, treasures and the unchanging Word of God. 
     The question is, will you keep these hidden and buried away for years and years?  Or will you share them with the world?

    It was a fun morning for Madison and the other kids.  She takes so many notes, and shares them with Pastor Lance and the rest of the staff.  She goes to two services, so as usual, there's the double portion that goes to those kids of staff members and volunteers.  But she also sees the process each morning. She's mentioned this before, but she said one thing she might want to do when she grows up is become a children's pastor.  Just that very thought is sweet, isn't it?

    Daddy saw the Dead Sea Scrolls one time.  This was at the conclusion of one of the greatest trips you could ever go on.  All of Israel is simply amazing - a wonderful place.  Anyway, this was one of the last things I got to do - see the Dead Sea Scrolls in that museum.  It was pretty awesome to see, and quite a reverent place.  Only… the museum these scrolls is housed in… looks like a big serving of Cool Whip.

    I wrote a post card back to Mommy - we were dating at the time.  It had this image above on the front, so Daddy wrote her and told her that today we visited Israel's famous Cool Whip Museum.  And then I went on to describe the wonders of Cool Whip, and all the individual exhibits inside.

    Our tour guide was amazingly unimpressed.  "This is what you think of our country?"

     Yes, that was awkward!  Anyway, the rest of the day was a bit more subdued - we got home, ate and did some serious relaxing.  The weather cleared out this morning, after another amazing downpour.  We've gotten a huge amount of rain lately, including some flash flooding this morning.  So much water, and nowhere to put it!

    But the rest of the afternoon was dry, and subsequently hotter too.  We had plans to do this or that, but we did actually have a full day yesterday. So all that said, we stayed at home and reviewed a bit of homework, played some games and of course read some more from our books.  Madison really looks forward to reading time at night.  And also, she looks forward to the hide-and-seek game.  Daddy comes up the stairs to wish her a goodnight with the standard reading/praying before bed - but always part of the routine is the hide-and-seek.  Madison will leave false clues, like closing the bathroom door and leaving the light on.  Or stuffing a pillow under the blanket of her bed, as if she's hiding there.  And of course, Daddy has to fall for it all, because Madison is squeezed into the linen closet down the hall - or in tonight's case, she was in a clothes hamper.  She jumps out and shouts:  "BOO!"

     Daddy gets scared - it's all part of the routine!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sweet Chariot

Our first task this morning was to visit Valhalla, which has an entrance actually towards the back of Lowe's.  Yes, it was time for our final entry in the Marvel Build and Grow program, our assignment being the task of building a sweet chariot for Thor.  This one had quite a few pieces initially, but turned out to be one of the easier projects over all for Madison.  As always, the stickers were challenging - but in the end, we had a reasonable chariot constructed for our hero.

Upon leaving, Daddy asked again for an Iron Man patch.  Each one of these heroes this summer had a wooden project, and a patch given out once the craft was created.  We were there for all of these, except for the first one which was Iron Man.  As noted here earlier, we looked it up online, and this craft and the patch are available online from people who like to take stuff meant for kids and sell it for $50.  So no, we didn't get a patch.

The thing about the patches is that they are each a slice of a circle.  Get all six, and you create a perfect circle.  But we didn't have that first patch, the one for Iron Man.  And the patch alone is $15 online right now, which is crazy.

So once again, Daddy asked for a patch.  There was a new employee here that didn't know to answer, "No, I don't think there are any."  Instead, this employee actually looked for a leftover patch.  The past few times I've asked, there hasn't been any leftover patch.  BUT today, this last day, there in fact was.  And it was an Iron Man patch.  The last Iron Man patch, in fact.  So there was much rejoicing from Madison as she now has the full circle of patches.  Credit God for setting that up and blessing us with a little favor!

So Daddy went to work, and Madison did too - just on piano, some reading and speech homework.  That homework is about to get more intense in a bit.  Her load isn't so bad at the moment!

Anyway, Daddy did come home early, and we promised Madison that sometime this summer we'd take her to Chuck E Cheese once again.  She has no memory of the first visit a few years ago, and her mind was picturing a place that is somewhere between Disney Quest and Stars & Strikes.

Part of the reason we went was a coupon, coupled with a deal for a certain amount of free tokens you earn for reading each day about two weeks.  Madison definitely did that, so off we went with our reading chart and our coupon.

Where to begin with Chuck E Cheese?  Do we start with the fact that the mascot is a rat?  Okay, let's skip that.  Let's just get to the vomit.  There were kids throwing up in various places.  It's about as gross as you are picturing in your mind right now.  Basically, it comes to this:  it is not a good idea to mix a lot of greasy pizza with running around a lot.  There was a little tap dance to avoid a few areas where kids got sick, but then your mind got to thinking:  how many times does this happen per day?  And where?  And man, I need to go wash my hands!

The games there are all designed to reward kids with tokens.  Which on the surface level might seem like the same old fun you find in other areas.  But there were a few games of chance there, including a giant spinner, and the thought occurs to you:  this is all legalized gambling for kids!  Seriously, you've got this big wheel to spin, and you could win 125 tickets or you more than likely will just win 2.  But either way, you're popping two coins in there - fifty cents.  And it's just like a giant slot machine.

We wound up following Madison around as she was pretty indecisive on what to put her tokens in.  Sure, she got some for free, so that helped.  But she wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do.  Fortunately, there was a fish harpooning game she seemed to like - and a bigger moment came when she found - sure enough - another sit-down version of Sea Wolf there.  This one was set up to be over with quickly, and yes, they gave you tokens if you did well enough.  I think it would be better if we could play longer and not worry about the tokens, but apparently they're doing well with the token thing.

Anyway, the pizza came after nearly a half-hour.  And it was good, actually.  We ate a little, played some more games, and even got a photo booth picture taken.  Then it was off to redeem all those tickets we got.  Thirty-five tokens won us … two Tootsie rolls, and a sheet of four "Frozen" stickers.  Madison wasn't about to get the stickers, because the girl behind the counter was told not to give that one sheet away.  But when Madison started to give her the teary eyes, the girl behind the counter relented.  Yes, that trick usually works on Daddy too!

So, as you might surmise, Mommy and Daddy weren't overly impressed.  In fact, we felt like we needed to bathe right away.  But Madison had a good time, and that's something she was looking forward to.  She did agree that it wasn't as good as Stars and Strikes, and of course not even close to Disney Quest.  But it was worth going to for a night.

Another few stops while down in Buford:  we dropped by Barnes and Noble, which has a great program for reading also.  Madison filled out another chart, describing books she's read, and turned it in to Barnes and Noble - and got a free book.  Last year, she got a book about Neverland.  This year, she picked up "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."  That's the first book in the series, which is of course the best.  She was so happy to see that was one of the choices, and there it was on the end cap.  So she snagged it right away!  Anyway, this was great.  Thanks to Barnes and Noble.

On the way home, we stopped by Toys R Us, which was a paradise for Madison.  She was amazed to see all the stuff there, and instantly she was calculating how long her Christmas list would be.  We were there to pick up a present for an upcoming birthday party, but at the same time we were watching Madison to see the things she was into this year.  Of course Monster High is still there, as is Ever After High School.  I think the Descendants doll series might be on the way too.  All of these - all of them - are around $20 per doll.  Disney Infinity:  $15 per figure.  LEGO Dimensions… $15 per character.  Alone, not a big deal.  But if you want to collect 'em all, we're talking about hundreds of dollars here!  I know it's been years since Daddy was a kid, but toys seem to be getting more and more costly.  Like… a drastic upswing.

Anyway, it was a full Saturday, obviously.  We had fun, and Madison really had a great day today.  We'll have another great day tomorrow though - KidPak is going to be awesome tomorrow…

Friday, August 21, 2015

Time Travelers

Great scott!  Join us as we go back in time to see the power of love with a new series that travels to the past, and flies back to the future!  Set your clocks, because you don't want to miss God's plan to give you hope and a future - it's the greatest message of all time!   Get ready for the time of your life with KidPak Adventures:  Time Travelers!

There it is, our mail-out description and the title screen.  It's a little blatant, but that's okay as October 21st is the whole reason we're doing the series now.  As for a plot of the series itself, that's starting to formulate a bit - and happily it has nothing to do with "Back to the Future" whatsoever.  Except for the concept of time travel, of course.  Though I've never seen "Timescape" or read "Vintage Season," the idea behind the ongoing story will be a reverse of those two concepts.  That is to say, rather than see time-traveling tourists that visit different disaster sites before calamity strikes, why not have time traveling tourists visiting some of the greatest people in history before they are born?  And with that thought in mind, it could be any one in our audience who these time travelers are here to see.  That sort of sets up the fact that there is so much potential with each of these children, and that they can in fact one day become some of the greatest people in history.  This includes Madison, of course.

Today she was at school, although there was no activity after school.  Daddy got home a little later from work, and we had a nice dinner together as we always do.  And as always, before bedtime there was reading - we're still working around the time of the Revolutionary War with time traveler Rush Revere.  These are longer chapters, but Madison is still interested in the ongoing story.  

We watched "Race to Witch Mountain" tonight, which was good, and safe for Madison as well.  There were a few scary parts for her, but she wasn't really ever terrified.  It was just a fun movie, that's all.  And one that seems to constantly move, not letting up.  Mommy and Daddy like the cameos of the original actors, although Mommy isn't interested in seeing the originals again any time soon.  Daddy loved the fact that they threw a Winnebago in there somewhere, and Madison enjoyed the Stormtroopers.  Anyway, popcorn and a movie - sort of a Friday night thing now.  

We're getting classwork assignments from Madison, and they are just precious.  Daddy will have to scan a few to share here, but she's quite the writer at this point.  She is also quite the clothing designer.  She has a very active imagination about what kinds of clothing would look good on certain characters, what kinds of colors and material and so forth.  

Okay, everyone's a bit tired tonight.  That's the new schedule for you - early to rise, now early to bed.  We're all looking forward to sleeping in a bit tomorrow...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rock? Mineral? What?

We have a Jurassic World board game set up for Madison, one where she does various assignments like piano, speech therapy, and regular homework to advance her token along through a jungle landscape.  Along the way, she meets a LEGO T-rex, and LEGO velociraptors, who slightly divert her from the path.  But the objective is to complete the board game, which she will do in about six weeks.  That is, if she completes all the assignments during that time.  And as you may have suspected, if she completes the assignments, she gets a prize:  LEGO Jurassic World.

This afternoon we had speech therapy, rrrright?  It was good as always, and Madison is showing a lot of progress, just over the last year alone.  She has some new 'r' words to practice again and again, ones where the 'r' is close to another consonant.  Words like 'girl.'  She practices in the car on the way home.

Speaking of on the way home, we had a homework assignment to deal with:  a rock sample.  First, we had to get one.  Daddy and Madison stopped by the lake today, and walked along the lakeshore.  We found a few rocks, including a piece of quartz and a piece of mica.

Now you rock enthusiasts and geologists have already figured out our mistake.  Neither of those is technically a rock.  To me, a rock is something that is non-organic, solid, and found naturally.  But I am wrong, to the shame of my rockhound heritage!  Mica and quartz are not rocks, but in fact minerals.  To me, minerals are rocks though.  I mean, what's the difference?

Here's where geologists are going crazy on me.  And probably deservedly so.  Which is why I respectfully submit to those who classify such things, and move on with this blog entry.

We had to identify what kind of rock we picked up:  igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary?  By the way, Madison says "sedimentary" very well.  But the rocks - er, I mean minerals - we picked up were not any of those above.

This led us on a path of research and discovery that we didn't intend to go on - but we learned a few things.  Here's Madison's entry below, and a photo of the mineral she found along the lakeshore:

I found my rock at Lake Lanier.  I believed it was a sedimentary rock.  I thought it is was sedimentary rock because it has layers in it.  We looked it up on our computer, and we found out it was mica. We also found out that it is not a rock! I learned that mica is a mineral. So, I went outside and I found another rock in my front yard.  It is a piece of granite, which is a piece of igneous. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stinking Bloom!

As you can see, we have a lovely bloom in Denver today.  Madison, Mommy and Daddy got up for school early as always, and just knew it was the day.  We saw last night before bedtime that it was looking close.  So there was much celebrating in the house, and as we were two time zones away from the actual plant, there was no smell whatsoever.

It was Wednesday, and a good one too.  Madison started her Wednesday night ballet classes today, something we'll have to get used to over the next year.  Each day after school, there's something to do, and now suddenly the spare time in the year is going to come... well, sparingly.

Tonight at KidPak we had a great night, one where Generation Praise took over praise, our kids hosted segments, and a guest speaker from our older kids did a fun message on friends and friendship.  To illustrate this, we showed how not to be a friend - something clearly shown by Indiana Jones' companion, Sapito.

Adios, Sapito!  We didn't show what happens to Sapito, of course.  But we did show Indiana Jones getting out of that tight spot.  And we kept with our theme even more so, getting kids to guess famous movie friends as well.  It was a fun night overall.

Did we mention the storms again? Yes, the same storms all day long.  Apparently it is some sort of tropical depression - lots of heat, and amazingly dense rain clouds, hanging so low you feel like you could reach up and grab hold of one.  Lots of rain today, but everyone made it to and fro safely.  It's been a very wet week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back on the Piano

We were back with piano class today, the start of the new year underway.  The class is full of energy, and Madison did well for the most part with her attempt to sort of catch up from the summer's break.  Everyone was pretty much in the same boat.  There's a lot of practice coming up in the next few weeks, so we'll have our charts up to mark progress, and some sort of reward system in place.  We'll figure all that out as we get to it, but today's class was just a beginning.  It was good to see Mrs. Pam again, who was ready to take the kids on another musical journey through the school year.

Meanwhile, it was raining hard outside.  We've had amazing rainstorms this week, these heavy low clouds roaring across the skies, each filled with an astounding amount of water.  Where is all this coming from?  I am not paying attention to the weather reports, but these feel almost as if a tropical storm has pushed up from somewhere in the Gulf.

It is Taco Tuesday.  Can you believe Madison ate four tacos?  True story.  She's growing, and growing fast.  We had our Mexican feast, and one of the great stories of late is that Mommy is doing better with her digestive issues.  The counter to this is the upcoming surgery date.  It was confirmed today, and she'll be visiting the hospital on August 31st.  This is just a few weeks away.  Mommy will stay there for a few days, as they monitor things and make sure her system continues to work.  A lot is going to happen here, which is one of the reasons why we haven't planned much too far into the future.  Usually, there is some fall trip to a destination like Florida.  This time, we may stay a little closer, just in case we need to.  Mommy needs time to recover.

Speaking of which, Daddy has now finished his healing devotional.  Each day, he's written something for Uncle Dave, an entry per day designed for those sorts of people who do not receive that instant healing.  There are instant headings, and there are what some people like to call 'journeys of healing.'  It's a nice way of saying that sometimes things take a while to get back to normal.  Sometimes there is chemotherapy for a while.  Sometimes it takes a few years to recover.  That's the sort this is especially written for, a booklet to go to folks in the hospital, as they undergo chemotherapy or something else of that nature.

Anyway, it's always good to finish up a book.  We finished up two this week:  also the one with messages for our new Time Travelers series.  Next up: the devotional.

Tonight, we watched the old school Star Wars cartoons together with Madison.  I'm talking about the Genndy Tartakovsky ones that came out between Episode II and Episode III.  These are simply awesome if you haven't seen any yet.  Madison has, and she loved them.  So did we, watching them again.

Oh, and did we mention ice cream?  Yep, we had ice cream tonight.  Just a craving really.  Mommy found some of that caramel and sea salt stuff, which seems to be a trend lately.  Meanwhile, Madison had chocolate.  Yep, it's good to have another intense chocolate fan in the house!

Homework is coming soon, by the way.  Right now, it's just reading and a few online assignments.  But there is some geology on the horizon.  Daddy is coming to her school to 'teach' a class about rocks next week, and this week, one of Madison's assignments is to find a rock outside - and attempt to identify it.  It just needs to stop raining so hard, right?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Titan Arum

Only one week into the school year.  ONE WEEK.  And we have ourselves a perfect Trifecta of Middle School Doom.  Madison's teacher wrote parents to let them know that there has been in the classroom students with:

1.  Strep Throat
2.  Pink Eye
3.  Lice

Tonight, we spent another considerable time with the shampoo, and then afterwards scraping those tiny white dots out of Madison's hair for nearly an hour.  There's one.  There's one.  There's another.  There's one.  And so on...

Good grief!

Madison has so far had - in the first week of school - pink eye and lice.  No sign of strep throat, for which we're grateful, of course.

We did all this checking after ballet tonight - the new year of ballet started this evening, with Madison in her old classroom once again - but still with the same instructor.  She enjoyed it.  Mommy and Daddy both came with her, and played Scrabble while we waited.  Daddy was also reading a collection of Terry Pratchett short stories, a gift from Mommy.  There are some really funny stories in there!

Anyway, meanwhile Madison was having a good time meeting friends old and new, and starting off her dance season on the right foot.  She'll return to class on Wednesday, and so her dancing career is off and running.

This afternoon, we got the latest design suggestion for the new Time Travelers series at KidPak.  Daddy and Mommy actually suggested the overall look, which in essence is pretty blatant about where it comes from.  And the designer came through - I think this will be a fun series.  Take a first look!

Madison likes it.  Actually, the entire house gives it a thumbs up.  Again, it's pretty blatant.  But October is the month of Back to the Future, so it'll be in the air.

We hung up the Chinese prints in the dining room today, all four of the seasons in there.  It looks good, and it feels good to have them back up again, decorating the wall.  Madison noticed right away.  When she got home, she saw them - she got back just before the rain started to pour down once again.  That rain has been on-and-off again all day.  At ballet tonight, it was so heavy that there were mini-raging rivers through the streets at Brenau.  And behind us, a rainbow.  But not one in the sky.  This was the closest rainbow we'd ever seen.  We all saw it in town - it was just right there, in the middle of town, brilliant as anything.  Never seen anything like it before.  It had this low arch - hardly any angle at all, and it sat there in front of us for quite some time.  It was pretty interesting to say the least.

Also interesting:  our nation is watching a developing situation very carefully right now.  No, we're not talking about the Presidential election.  We're talking about the Titan Arum at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  This is the tallest flower in the world.  Earlier this summer - and I'm kicking myself because we missed it - there was one in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This flower blooms once every seven to eleven years, so that makes it pretty unique.  And even more peculiar, when it blooms, it smells like a really large dead animal.  So, to recap:  tallest flower, blooms once every seven to eleven years, and smells like a dead cow.  It is for precisely this reason that we are so captivated by it!

It hasn't bloomed yet, but we'll be watching you little stinker!
We had a teachable moment with Madison, showing her the live of the plant beastie, while telling her all the interesting factoids we could about this majestic vegetable.

And that's how I'll leave you with this blog - with a nice devotional entry written long ago, one dedicated to this magnificent specimen, the titan arum.


     What is gratitude?  I’ll tell you: Gratitude is being thankful you don’t smell like a large, stinky animal that never took a bath and just recently ate a liver, onion and limburger cheese sandwich.  Or, in simpler words, gratitude is knowing you don’t smell like a Titan Arum.

     The Titan Arum is the tallest flower in the world, reaching a height of 2.94 meters, and boy, does it reek!  Botanists are people who study flowers.  They have nick-named it the “corpse flower” because of its putrid stench.  Fortunately for all of us, it only smells when it blooms – and that’s once every eleven years.

     Could you imagine waiting eleven years for a flower to bloom?  That’s what many botanists are doing in Denver this weekend.  They came from great distances in order to watch the Titan Arum bloom – and will watch the flower wilt in less than 24 hours.  Wow, I bet they are grateful just to witness such a rare event.  Others will be probably grateful just to leave the room because of the odor.  If anyone gets you a bottle of perfume called "Titan Arum," just say NO!

     Jokes aside, did you know there’s a purpose to the stink?  The smell is crucial to its survival in its natural habitat because it attracts pollinating carrion beetles and flesh flies.  As you can see, God has put a purpose behind everything that happens, and it is all for the greater good.  We should be thankful that He is watching over us!

     You know, at the very least, we should be thankful God didn’t make us in any way like the Titan Arum.  In other words, girls, you should be thankful you don’t have to smell like an exploding septic tank in order to get a guy’s attention.  And guys, be thankful you don’t smell like something thrown out from a sea food restaurant three months ago.