Monday, November 30, 2015

Meet Arlo and Spot

Madison had a dentist appointment today, and it was pretty late in the morning.  It was the only time we could really schedule it for her, so there it was late morning - we took the day off of school as a result.  We arrived just in time for Christmas decorations, which all the nurses were hanging from ceilings and walls all around.  Meanwhile, Madison was having a tiny cavity filled in, one between two teeth that could have caused problems down the road.  It was a pretty quick and painless procedure for Madison, which is why we like going to this dentist.  It is on the other side of Gainesville, which is not quick and painless.  And that's another reason for taking the day off.

We got home and decided to take advantage of our time off by going to a movie.  We saw "The Good Dinosaur" this afternoon, and nearly had the entire theater to ourselves.  Still, we had our big tub of popcorn, and our traditional seats in the back as we took in the dinosaur flick.  This one was probably our favorite pre-historic animated picture so far.  For one, Pixar has made a pre-historic movie that does not involve a giant earthquake, or comet striking the planet.  "The Croods," "Ice Age," Ice Age 2," "Ice Age 3," "Ice Age 4," "The Land Before Time," "Dinosaur," and "Walking with Dinosaurs" all feature either an earthquake or meteorites/comets destroying Place A, forcing all characters involved to go to Place B.  And there's your story.  The problem that I've always had with this plot is that how do we know Place B is going to be safe from earthquakes and asteroids?  Of course, that's where the sequel comes in, right?

"The Good Dinosaur" does not feature a comet or asteroid hitting the earth.  And there is no earthquake conveniently splitting the earth and separating characters from each other or their old homes.  In fact, it breaks that stone age cycle, and defies a few other conventions as well.  Amazingly, it combines the stone age movie with... a western?  And that's why this movie was pretty good!

We still had ballet tonight, after all the dinosaur fun.  And we even started a bit of work on our Paul Revere paper that's due next week.  Tonight, we watched a few Christmas specials as well, although nothing too long.  Bedtime was early because of school. Daddy read from the devotional for this series, as well as from "Tom Sawyer" as well.  Injun Joe is looming.

So our vacation sort of extended itself by one day.  Tomorrow is a return to school.  And a return of something else too...!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Sunday started as it always does, with us at KidPak.  This morning, you can see we started a new series, the one we call "A Very Merry Tribes Christmas."  The set is decorated with Christmas lights, the tree, and stockings for each of the Tribes.  Our message was from the Gladiator's perspective, about the proclamation that sent everyone to their homes to be taxed, including Joseph and Mary.  While it was very inconvenient, it was indeed all part of God's plan, recorded back in Micah 5:2.  In fact, the Gladiator, a Roman himself, could look in Romans 8:28 to see that everything works out for the good of those who love Him.

After church it was time for a surprise for Madison!  We went over to the Cumming Playhouse, and it was there that we ran into these characters here:

CATS!  Daddy just recently discovered he is in fact allergic to cats, but these didn't seem to give him any problems.  Madison didn't mind them either.  She loved the show, and loved watching all the different characters do their routines - here's a few more that met with Madison after the show:

Madison wants to be part of the cast, obviously!  She really had a good time - and our seats were right up front, so close that some of the characters were interacting with her during the performance!

Afterwards, we went home and yes, we watched some more Christmas movies.  Seriously, that's about all the energy we had left.  Daddy put a fire in the fireplace, and we saw "Muppet Christmas Carol" together on the couch.  And after that, Daddy and Mommy saw "Christmas with the Kranks."  We love all these Christmas movies!

One more tradition:  the goat is up in Gävle.  We've got our live cam bookmarked, and visit back from time to time to see how the weather is over there in Sweden.  It hasn't started snowing yet - that's the highlight of watching the live cam, watching those huge flakes come down and accumulate all over 'the largest straw goat in the world.'  Hopefully, this year it can make it the whole season without getting burned down.  We've got enough trouble in the world this year, to be honest.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Tribes are Back!

The Tribes are back, and this time for Christmas!  You can see above a clip from the first episode we'll be showing tomorrow, one where Hero is pulling a "Kronk" by baking Christmas cookies for Santa.  We're all so proud of the fact that we're doing our own Christmas special, one we'll no doubt be watching each year from this point on.  At the moment though, it's not quite complete, as the next three weeks have a bit of work to be done.  Daddy did the vocal work for Cowboy, above, and all our friends came in to do their parts once more.  Tomorrow will be the premiere of the cartoon, along with our new series, "A Very Merry Tribes Christmas."

In that respect, there was a lot of work done today on decorating and planning out the service.  We have plenty of printed materials to create, trees to decorate, and Mommy was busy setting up the display case for the series as well.  Daddy has to take a picture of that pretty soon.

That was pretty much our day, a full one getting things in order.  Just yesterday we were traveling back, and here we are up and running to get it all set up for a new series.  But it's a simpler design, and it'll be a great service tomorrow with lots of noise and fun.  And, of course, a strong bottom line about all things working together for the good of those that love Him.

Tonight, we watched a few Christmas shorts:  Lanny and Wayne were back with "Prep and Landing." After that, it was time for reading - Daddy started the new Christmas devotional a little early, and after that we finished the latest Never Girls book.  These are nowhere near as long as some of the other books we read, but everyone enjoys them nevertheless.  It's a fun time reading by the bedside, with Mommy listening in as Madison snuggles under the covers.

Christmas is on the way now, and we're all in the heart of the season, even though it isn't even December yet.  The lights are all on the trees, the toppers up and the tree skirts below.  The rest of the decorations will pile on in the coming days, and soon this house will be festive, every hall decked.  That's what it's like at KidPak tomorrow, where we'll all be in just a few short hours...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Amped Home

This was quite a journey back home.  We started out early enough, it seems, leaving Satellite Beach some time before ten in the morning.  We said goodbye to the ocean, and goodbye to Nana and Ba-Ba. It was a short week, but a nice and relaxing one nevertheless.  Daddy finished a book, reading out there on deck overlooking the Atlantic.  Madison spent a lot of time coloring, or watching the latest season of "Jessie."  Mommy and her parents spent a lot of time together this week, which is what the holiday and week is all about.  We were grateful for the chance to get down here, and even if it is a monster drive, it's all worth it for a chance to be with family.

Our salt-coated car left the beach, and yes we got to see a Disney Cruise ship at Port Canaveral as we left, wistfully imagining ourselves just getting on to go on a tour of the Caribbean.  Maybe next time.

Unfortunately, right there on I-95 there was a major six-car accident that sort of had us stuck for an hour.  And it was sort of sloppy from there on.  By the time we got to Atlanta, the traffic was gone because it was so late!  Daddy fueled up on some random caffeine-laden drink called "Amp," and we were all jamming on Christmas tunes all the way back - along with the usual Perry Stone CD series somewhere in the middle.  Madison was reading, watching movies and creating artwork in the backseat.  At one point, we asked her if she could take a nap, and in less than two minutes, she was out cold, sleeping for a good bit.

We're blessed and highly favored with this car, which ran smoothly all the way home, without incident.  It handles well too.  We saw a few wrecks here and there, each one reminding us how blessed we were in our journey, and even though it was dark and late when we got home, we were there safely in the end.

And even though we're back so soon, we're back with smiles on our faces from a nice trip to Florida, and the beach.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Space Coast Lightfest

So this was our Thanksgiving this year, quite a different view than we're accustomed to on this day - and yet one the Pilgrims were probably familiar with.  It's the Atlantic Ocean, and the sunrise was just perfect this morning.

We were a little slow to rise, but that's just fine, right?  It's a holiday, and nobody was in a rush to do much today.  Food would be prepared later, and the big thing on the schedule for the morning was the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  All of us sat together, talking, and watching the bands and parade floats go by, a tradition now for us that's nearly as important as the turkey!

After the parade, we decided to walk along the shore, which is such a treat any time you can do such a thing.  The sun was shining, and the wind calmed down quite a bit, and the six of us made our way along the beach looking for shells, or in Madison's case, playing in the waves a bit.

We had our decorations for Thanksgiving up in the condo, including our new pumpkin turkey and some of the ones we use back at the house.  And all the while, Nana was working on the turkey and other items for the big meal itself.  The condo smelled so good, that familiar smell that permeates all houses this time of year.  Coming in from the balcony there, that smell of cooking turkey just washes over you, just perfect.  So the time for dinner arrived, and it was very nice indeed.  We were treated to a special meal, a Thanksgiving dinner at the beach, and all was well with the world.

Afterwards, we made our way to yet another light show that Daddy saw was nearby.  Yesterday at Friendly's we saw a piece of paper advertising for a Space Coast Lightfest.  It was put together by volunteers, and supposedly featured 2.7 million lights, with all proceeds going to the local Boy Scouts.  Why not check it out?

It was actually really good!  It wasn't anywhere near as good as Callaway Gardens, mind you.  But the five of us hopped in the car, and this place wasn't that far away.  Daddy popped in a Dean Martin Christmas CD, and we drove through the 1.1 mile long road, checking out all the different lights and themes.

This one above was one of our favorites - a seaside light display with surfers, dolphins, and yes, a big shark as well.  It was a nice thing to do to close out the special day, to get everyone in the spirit of Christmas, and it wasn't that much on our wallets or time.  In other words, everyone was really glad they went!

And so Thanksgiving drew to a close, but as you can tell it was a great day.  It was a pretty unique Thanksgiving, and one we'll always look back upon with fond memories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Friendly Shores

Beautiful sunrises this week, partly because of the clouds heavy with rain, each one passing by quickly.  The winds have been high, and as you can see above, the tide and waves have been high as well - at least in the morning.  Later on, around noon or so, today's temperatures and weather were ideal for heading out to the beach.

Here's Madison with her grandparents along the shores, which you can see have calmed down quite a bit.  We had a great time walking along and collecting shells, running barefoot through the sand and sea foam.  The others went back to the condo, but Daddy and Madison were ready to start building again!

Here we are, working on our latest sand castle, and a big ditch filled with water as well.  There's something amazingly therapeutic about building sand castles, adding new towers and piling up sand upon sand.  We were out there a really long time, in fact.

But all good things must come to an end, and we getting hungry anyway.  So we returned to the condo for lunch, and then some games like Go Fish and Old Maid.  We also did some decorating for Thanksgiving too.  Before we left, Mommy and Daddy got some turkey bits to add to a pumpkin, which we just so happened to have with us as well.  The end result was something Madison made, which turned out nice:

Afterwards, we went out for a surprise:  a trip to Friendly's.  This has become mandatory for Madison when it comes to going to Satellite Beach.  There's a Friendly's restaurant just a few miles south of here, and so once again we returned - the third time now - to get ice cream for everyone.

We returned home and watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving special, both of them, and did some reading as well.  Daddy has been reading a Never Girls book this week, along with the monthly devotional.  And soon enough, it was time for bed, although we did go out on the balcony one last time to overlook the ocean, watching the beautiful full moon hover over it, illuminating the waves brightly below.  Going in to tomorrow, we've certainly got so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Return of The Great Turkey

Time travel is the theme lately, and it met Thanksgiving head-on with a fun movie we've been watching, one that gives us this very important message:  "It's okay to have pizza on Thanksgiving."

"Free Birds" was fun tonight - a Thanksgiving-themed movie that's lots of fun  We were watching that in the condo tonight in preparation for the big day Thursday.  We have "Pocohantas" and "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" with us as well, so we've certainly got our theme movies for the week!

Today was pretty low key.  Actually, a lot low key.  We didn't do too much here at the beach, although we did have a nice long walk along the beach.  It was cooler, although there has been quite a bit of wind the last few days, dropping the temperature a bit.  It still made for a nice day, as most days at the beach are better than your average day home.  We did some looking for shells, but didn't find as many as we did the last few times.  We found some, but we also found crabs and a stray coconut covered with barnacles.  Oh, and a tricky little crab.

We did a few board games this afternoon, including Pirate's LIFE - and a few card games like Go Fish and Old Maid.  The tide was high for a good part of the day, and the waves were roaring outside.  A windsurfer went sailing by, and even way up high there were skydivers jumping from planes, practicing in the high winds.  These guys were from Patrick Air Force Base, which is just around teh corner from here.

No matter where you are, it is still Taco Tuesday, and Nana and Ba-Ba continued the time-honored tradition by preparing a Mexican feast for us here tonight that was enjoyed very much.  As was dessert, with ice cream and sprinkles.

Daddy was reading a book from Ford County, and Madison has been doing some decorating for Thanksgiving.  Also some coloring too.  Mommy, Nana and Ba-Ba did a lot of shopping today, going to a thrift store, and a few other grocery stores in preparation for the big day Thursday - and for some snacks up until then!

It's been a nice quiet day at the beach.  Nice and relaxing, although Daddy did write a message for January early on.  But beyond that, it was quite an unproductive day.  Which was just fine for everyone involved, of course!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Land of Cotton

So apparently there is no direct route from Pine Mountain to I-75, southbound.  The end result for us was a tour of rural Georgia that was most unexpected.  We traveled through iconic locations such as Ideal, Georgia.  Which sadly had a very ironic name.  Sorry, Ideal.  Also, one of Daddy's favorites was Lilly, Georgia.  It was so small that you know those Christmas decorations they hang up on the telephone poles scattered through the main parts of towns?  Lilly, Georgia had ONE.  One telephone pole with a stray decoration on it.

Our favorite parts of this journey were through the fields of cotton, which were a wonderful sight to behold.  Seas of white, as far as the eye could see.  We were in Dooly County when we happened upon field after field of the white stuff, enough to amaze all of us in the car.

It was all part of a pretty long day, and a really long drive.  Right now, Daddy is typing from Satellite Beach, watching a full moon hang high over the rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  Madison is working on a Christmas-themed coloring book, although earlier she was working on a story she was writing.  Yes, she was writing a story in the car.  It's a few pages long, and has a LOT of words on each page.  Madison felt inspired to write a Christmas story, one that involves all the characters from "Lord of the Rings" at a Christmas party.  She was quite proud of the end result, as Mommy was reading it in the car.  Daddy and Mommy were proud too!  She was using her spare time to write a story!  How creative!  And she also made some turkey art, in full color as well.  It will be a nice decoration for the condo here.  Also, she watched ALL of the "Liberty Kids" on DVD.  Daddy picked that one up from the library because Madison has a report on Paul Revere coming up.  Madison was spouting off facts about Abigail Adams from the back seat, and we were just amazed at how educational this drive down was!

We got to Florida, where things are cool, but much warmer.  Here's Captain Citrus and Madison, both enjoying a nutritious glass of orange juice, always compliments of the Florida Welcome Center.  We're big fans of Captain Citrus!

This morning at Callaway Gardens, it was in the 30's.  Frost was on the cars in the parking lot.  We got ready quickly in the hotel, and were off pretty quick.  And it was a good thing too - we got to the condo here just as the sun was setting.  Nana and Ba-Ba had a wonderful meal prepared, and it has been nice just resting and spending time with them once again.

So hello from Satellite Beach, and yes, that's three times in one year.  I don't know about any swimming this time of year, but we'll certainly have a lot of relaxing on the itinerary.  Oh, and there's probably going to be some eating on Thursday...!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Callaway Gardens

This morning was our final morning of the series, 'Game On,' which I can honestly say was too short. Everyone was really enjoying it, and there was a huge mission accomplished with getting families together this series over a board game.  We did that ourselves, and with our upcoming vacation planning, there'll be some time spent with board games again soon enough.

We finished the series with a bang though, covering the board game, "Jumanji."  We talked about the movie, of course, and showed several clips from the movie as well to help illustrate the points.  It flowed wonderfully, and Madison enjoyed it quite a bit.  

And after church, it was time to escape!  Yes, we had everything packed and we were ready to go, go, go!  

We drove down to Callaway Gardens, but took a wrong turn before getting there.  That's okay, because it didn't cost us too much time - and as a bonus we got to see Warm Springs and FDR State Park, which had a beautiful view from the top of a mountain there.  Yes, there are mountains in South Georgia.  We had NO idea.  

But we did get to Callaway, and it was a nice evening.  We certainly like the light show there better than the one at our closer Lake Lanier Islands.

Madison loved the fairies and flowers, and the winter wonderland area as well.  Along with the lights, there were sound effects for elves hammering, and there were musical bits as well, accompanying the "Twelve Days of Christmas" or "Winter Wonderland" or "Santa's Workshop."

It was chilly outside, just right for this sort of thing - but it was also really quiet tonight.  There were people here, but not so many yet.  It was perfect.  

We saw the Nativity Story done with Christmas lights, each character lighting up as a Bible passage was read.  We sat on the grass there, watching it all unfold with smiles on our faces.  Outside of the lights, there isn't so much to do yet, but it was still a nice diversion for the night.  We are staying at the Mountain Creek Inn, and you can actually hear some of the music from the light show when you open the door to the hotel room. 

Before bed, we watched the rest of "The Wizard of Oz" on TBS, featuring some age-inappropriate commercials, but it was all over Madison's head.  Besides, she was quite tired from the full day.  We all were!  She really liked what she saw tonight, but so did we.  It's quite a bit out of the way, but we're glad we came.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Gift 2015

Here they are, the girls all seated together for this afternoon's performance of "The Gift."  Once again, we found ourselves going to see this production - we've been going for many years now.  This time, a lot of the girls from church came along to see it as well, and everyone really enjoyed it.  There were some changes, although there were also some things that were left alone.  All in all, it was an improvement, except for one dance routine that Mommy misses.  But the message is always the same, the message about the real gift of this season.

We got there just in time, really.  Daddy had to do some work in setting up for KidPak tomorrow, and after that, it was a race home, and then a race to Brenau.  But there were plenty of seats still available when we got there, although it did eventually fill up.  The first part of this show always puts you in the Christmas spirit quite a bit, and all the girls you see above were pretty impressed.

We watched a few Christmas movies when we got home, all while working on the trees, and doing some packing as well.  We'll be off and running tomorrow, and it's a vacation that everyone is looking forward to!

Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Office Thanksgiving

We had our fifth annual KidPak Office Thanksgiving today, an event just before Thanksgiving where everyone brings in some food and we all just spend a bit of time celebrating and enjoying each other's company.  The woman in the center on the couch above is Loretta, who is moving off to California soon - this was somewhat of a goodbye party for her as well.

It was actually a really nice afternoon.  The food was great as always - Josh brings the turkey, and everyone else brings something different for the most part (we call dibs on certain food items ahead of time).  There were a lot folks this year, and as always, there was Christmas music and laughter in the air.  One thing missing for the first time was Madison - we usually do this when she's off of school.  We had to do it today, because Mommy and Daddy won't be at the office next week.  Neither will Pastor Lance, so we decided to make it today instead.  And that worked out just fine.

The rest of the day was spent working towards Sunday, with Jumanji in the works and a special Thanksgiving service at night.  Next Sunday, we start our newest series, and today we got those booklets, which look really sharp.

Daddy got home, and we kept working on this tree, which is a pretty big project, actually.  Seriously, we've got tubs and tubs of ornaments, and it takes quite some time to get every piece strategically hung up somewhere!  Fortunately, we had a movie playing, "The Santa Clause," which always makes things better.  "Let him go!  Let Santa go!"  It's such a great movie filled with one-liners and Christmas magic.  This is one of those movies you sort of quote all throughout the year, this one and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

We read some more tonight, and are actually almost done with the next Never Girls book, which involves a story-telling fairy named Spinner, and a little girl that doesn't quite know the definition of 'stealing someone else's stuff' yet.  I'm sure it will work out by chapter ten.  But this is a shorter book, and we should actually be done with it tomorrow.  Then we'll start on the next Never Girls book, which we'll be done with shortly as well.

It's such a great season, isn't it?    There's always something nice going on.  Tomorrow, "The Gift" and the next day, we'll see some new Christmas lights we haven't seen before.  So much to look forward to this week, and of course Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"One Man's Toxic Sludge...

... is another man's potpourri!"

It was Grinch night tonight, with a whole lot of decorating of trees as well.  Keep in mind we have four trees, hence the lengthy process here.  But it's fun, especially when mixed with Christmas movies and music.  It's not fun when listening to the news, which can be frustrating.  But we are having a holly jolly Christmas season - yes, I know that's not until December.  But we're celebrating in November as we usually do, and it works for us.  Next week, we'll take a break for Thanksgiving, and all the fun that comes with it.

Madison, Daddy and Mommy made the Death Star today, gluing it together and painting it.  All that's left is for the thing to go on top of the tree upstairs.  We'll post a picture when we're done, but it's coming along nicely.

When Madison got home from school, we did make a trip to the library here to pick up a bunch of reserved books.  One comical moment that I shared with some of my high school friends:

My daughter has a five paragraph paper to write on a historical figure, and she's chosen Paul Revere as her guy.  So like any good dad, I was wanting to put on hold a few books related to Paul Revere at our local library.  I typed "PAUL REVERE" in the library's search engine, and all kinds of patriotic imagery showed up.

And then, right there amongst all the iconic pictures from early America, I saw one of a smashed 727 jet.  Looking closer, it began to dawn on me what that was.  It was one of those hilarious 'you'll-get-it-in-a-moment' sort of things:  a copy of "License to Ill."

And now that song is stuck in my head...

If you don't get it, that's okay.  But the point is, we went to go get those Paul Revere books today, and the newest Never Girls books as well.  There are two of them to catch up on, and Daddy got both of those.  We started reading the first of the two tonight, already covering three chapters.  The other night, we finally finished "Isle of the Lost," which had much longer chapters with many more words.  The difference between the two is that we'll probably be done with this story before Sunday maybe.  Tonight, for example, we covered three chapters.  Anyway, it was nice to read again, both this book and the devotional as usual.

Mommy and Daddy were doing a lot of cleaning upstairs today.  The weather was really nice outside, hot even.  Madison had a good day at school, working on a story about a pet turkey named Susie, one that she walks around with on a leash.  It's a cute story, one we'll be posting here as soon as it comes back home again.  The story had illustrations, which with Madison are always fun and detailed.  Next week is all about the turkey, and it's going to be great.  We're really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


"Every month at the quarter moon / There'll be a monsoon in your lagoon."

We had an amazing amount of rain again today, so much that visibility when driving was extremely small.  It was one of those wicked lines, a sharp front stretching from north of the state to south, nothing but solid red on the radar over that line.  Red, of course, means a huge amount of rain.

Cars traveled along very slowly as the deluge just kept coming, and water built up anywhere and everywhere.  It even flooded one of the parking lots at the church, and started seeping in the doors for service tonight.  It was impressive.  Daddy had to get Mommy and Madison back home in the rain, and the driving seemed perilous.  We took our time getting home, and then Daddy had to return in all of that.  Fortunately, by God's grace he did, and got back to church safely.

As you might suspect, there weren't as many people there tonight for service.  But it was still a great service, with an emphasis on Uno.  Daddy made these special Uno cards that I'll share here below.  They came out really well, and worked with our illustration.

Meanwhile, Madison had homework, and ballet of course.  Next week, she does not have ballet, nor piano.  Nor school, for that matter.  But there's always something to learn, even on these final days before a break.  Madison dances around the house sometimes, twirling and extending her arms gracefully as she spins in place.  It's nice to see, and she definitely enjoys it - the girls and her instructor are nearly like family now.

We did no reading tonight, although we did finally finish that Descendants book last night.  That took a few weeks to get through, but Madison certainly enjoyed it.  The next few books will be shorter - Daddy has reserved a few, and will probably put a hold on a few more soon.  We might even go to the library tomorrow, actually.

And that's where we're at for the day.  It's been a good one and a busy one - although a very wet one!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fall Piano Recital

Madison played perfectly this afternoon.  She and the others had their annual Fall Piano Recital, what would be the last one this class would have actually.  Next year, it transfers to a Winter Piano Recital, I think.  There are just two girls in the class, and both had the distinction of doing their solos first - in fact, Madison was the very first student to do her solo.  And she did so well!  We did some practice runs all week long, and it's been a little hit-and-miss when it comes to doing in with perfection.  But this afternoon, each finger was placed down with precision, and we were so very proud of her!  The songs were fun, including the famous "Gone Fishing" song where Madison shouted out, "Not true!"  This was in response to the boys singing, "Boys are better than girls."  And then there was the ensemble piece, which actually went really well.  Madison got her part down, and played her solo portion decently, and soon the event was over with .  Mommy and Daddy were quite happy with the way it all went down.

Afterwards, it was time for Taco Tuesday once again, which is somewhat mandatory each week now.  But Madison had a bit of homework to do also.  And upcoming:  a paper she has to write on Paul Revere.  She has a five paragraph paper to write on either Fredrick Douglas, Susan B Anthony or Paul Revere.  She chose the one she knows the most about, and after reading a book or two wit the guy, it's no wonder she chose him.  There is supposed to be some visual element in there as well, so we'll see as the day gets closer what we'll put together.  But the report is going to be given in December some time, and we'll be working on that until then.

Tonight we watched "Jumanji" once more, this time for a bit of research.  Daddy has that upcoming message on Sunday, the final Sunday of our board game series.  It'll be a 'movie-message,' where we show clips from that movie.  That said, we had to sort of look through it for stuff we can show.  Madison really enjoyed the movie this time, jumping at all the scary parts.  We'll share that message here a little later when it gets all put together.

We finally finished "Isle of the Lost" tonight, which sets everything up for the movie itself.  We actually read three chapters tonight, somewhat as a reward for the great performance at piano.  Madison really enjoyed hearing this book a lot, even though it took some time to get through.  Next up, Daddy plans on reading some classics, but that will be Thursday or so.

Anyway, it was a great day.  We ended it all on a great note!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Halls are Going to be Decked!

We began decorating our Star Wars tree tonight, the first year for such a tree.  But the truth is that Daddy has been collecting these Star Wars ornaments for quite some time, on and off.  And while he's not exactly obsessive about it, there are probably about twenty-something ornaments, enough to make some space on our overcrowded main tree.  We stopped by Hobby Lobby tonight and picked up some standard ball ornaments, silver in color and various in texture, and are using those to sort of bring the tree together somewhat.  Best of all, the topper.  We're making the topper this week.  Daddy had a Death Star rocket topper from a few years ago.  I have no idea how I happened upon it, but the thing still needs to be painted, and the four sections glued together.  And instead of putting it on a rocket and launching it upward, we're putting it on top of a Christmas tree.  Yes, a Death Star on top of the tree.  As the season goes on, we'll be adding some Star Wars crafts along the way.  It seems inevitable that an Origami Yoda will show up, and maybe more papercraft from that series of books.  With the movie coming out this season, what better year to start our new holiday tradition:  a Star Wars Christmas tree!

You may be wondering where it is going.  It is actually taking the place of where Madison's pink tree has been the last few years.  But don't worry - Madison's tree is safely standing beside her bed in her room, a rather unique little night light for the next few weeks.

The Christmas tree that we're hanging the Star Wars stuff on is a taller one, one somewhat larger than Daddy.  Which doesn't say much.  The point is, being on the landing, it should look nice for friends and family coming in the door, and possibly through the large front window up top.  The tree itself came from Nana and Ba-Ba, who got themselves a new tree.  So once again, we got ourselves a nice, free tree.  Within a week, we should have about four of these trees up in the house, which is just crazy!

We had ballet today, or at least Madison did.  Mommy and Daddy went over to the new sporting goods store that just opened up, and next to it, a Hobby Lobby that also just opened up.  Once again, we got ourselves some new Christmas lights for our main tree, because the GE lights we got last year from Wal-Mart were already not working.  "GE lights" stands for "Get Extra lights" because you're going to need them.

We also got a few Thanksgiving things for Madison next week.  We had an extra pumpkin leftover, and that worked out for us:  wait until you see what we'll do with that one!

It was a day off in a way, although Daddy was proofing the December book for KidPak and approving artwork from the graphics guy and talking to the printer and ... well, you get the idea.  We did decorate what we'll call the rustic tree in that extra room, which is now looking nice and Christmassy.  Which should be a word.  Anyway, it looked all nice for Madison, who came in and began to practice her piano once more before tomorrow's big recital.  She's just doing great!

She did some homework tonight, although not all of it.  We'll save some for tomorrow, because tonight we wanted to watch a Christmas movie.  Madison chose the classic "Olive the Other Reindeer" tonight, because it's awesome.  Seriously, watch it.  This is one of our favorites.

And so as you can tell, Christmas is in the air.  We were having fun decking the halls today - literally.  Mommy decorated the main hall with candles and wreathes, and even had a new bathroom floormat with reindeer on it, along with a new wreath for the bathroom door.  Within a week or so, consider this place decked!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

G-Gma's Birthday

We had a really nice Christmas moment tonight, watching "The Polar Express."  Madison chose that movie for the evening, and Daddy made some hot chocolate to go along with it - hot, hot, hot!  Such a magical movie, really.  This probably won't be the last time we see it, actually.

It was a great service this morning at KidPak, where we were taking a closer look at the game Clue.  It's one of Madison's favorite games right now, and the message was spot-on.  Her notes were all over the page of her sermon booklet, as usual.  And as you can see above, we had a skit, one that involved some of our volunteers, and lots of laughs.  As always, we had the two services, so it's always a full morning.

But we had to keep the train going, because after church, we headed over to Red Lobster for a birthday celebration with Daddy's grandmother, that is Madison's great grandmother.  It was a very nice afternoon, sitting and talking with her - and Nana and Ye-Ye as well, who brought her there.  It happened to be Madison's first trip to Red Lobster, one she remarked afterwards, "wasn't that bad."  Of course, she had no seafood.  She tried a garlic cheese roll, and didn't like it much  Fortunately, there were fries, chicken strips, and lots of ketchup.  As long as the place has lots of ketchup, it's going to go well for Madison.

So afterwards, we went home to rest.  We had plans to do some energetic decorating or whatnot, but we were a bit tired.  So we put a fire in the fireplace, and had a magical Christmas moment, snuggling on the couch, watching a movie, and drinking hot chocolate.  Yes, it was that kind of night, just perfect.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Engage Santafication Process!

The Santafication process is engaged!  Today was Saturday, but Daddy didn't go to work - except a few things related to our upcoming series in December.  There it is, the banner we'll be using.  Daddy wrote a few more messages today, and finished his book finally - this one features the Tribes characters at Christmas time:  Luchador, Hero, Gladiator, Pirate, Viking, Ninja and Cowboy.  Plus a few others.  There's going to be a new cartoon, and four great weeks of KidPak fun leading up to Christmas.  It should be loads of fun!

Instead of going out to the office - or anywhere else - we all stayed home today and put some decorations up, listening to Christmas music on the Pandora radio channel, and watching Christmas movies.  Tonight's movie was "Elf," which Madison didn't really remember so much - and this made it even more hilarious.  She was laughing quite a bit throughout the whole thing, and it was just fun watching it with her.

We dragged up our Christmas trees - four of them - and the big thing is that we got Madison's little tree decorated. Or, at least she did.  She did it all by herself this year, hanging up the little ballerinas, princesses and other things she likes.  In the end, it looked quite nice, and in a new spot this year:  in her room, by her bed.  Each night, she likes to see the lights on, illuminating the room with a pinkish glow.  It's somewhat magical, and that's not the last time you'll hear that word for the season.

Daddy got the lights on the rustic tree in the one room, which is always a nice looking room this time of year.  It was a big busy day yesterday, and it was nice to have something close to the total opposite today.

Of course, Madison did some piano practice.  With her upcoming recital, she's been practicing a lot to make sure she does as well as possible.  We have faith in her to do that, of course. She's such a hard worker!

This is probably one of the last Saturdays of the year where we don't go anywhere, but it was such a busy day yesterday.  There were a few options on the calendar, but the best one was to stay home and enjoy each other's company.  We'll hit the ground running again next week, but for now, it's good to enjoy a day of rest.

Friday, November 13, 2015


We had a nice day at KidPak, although a pretty full one.  We had the Wisdom Club at lunch time, where basically all the seniors in the entire planet came to Free Chapel for the annual Thanksgiving meal.  Of course, that's an exaggeration.  But there were a lot of people!  And the food was good too.  But afterwards, we were racing to set up for a couple events ourselves:

There was a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, and following that, our KidPak Live night, where we had a service for the entire family.  It was a standard service, honestly something we do every single Sunday anyway - but this time we invited the parents to come along as well and see what we do.

It went really well.  We had a big night, a full auditorium, and a really energetic crowd.  This year's KPM was a lot bigger and better than last year's.  We got a lot of compliments afterwards, and there was this high we were all experiencing.

That is, until the news started trickling in about what happened in Paris, France tonight.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Meeting with the Big Guy

We made a trip after school today, down to the Mall of Georgia to see our regular Santa.  Only, our regular Santa was not there - today there was another guy, who was decidedly a bit slower and a little less like Santa than the previous Santa.  Not that Madison came away complaining or anything.  We just spotted him early after the drive down there, and were slightly concerned that Madison would make a big deal of it.  But she did nothing of the kind - she told him two things she wanted for Christmas:  a Mal costume (from "Descendants") and a board game:  "Minions Monopoly."

I think Santa has one of those already in the bag, but he's going to have to get his elves working overtime to make some new Mal costumes.  Because those things are really popular right now, even after Halloween!

Daddy had a coupon which got us twice as many pictures, and Madison came away with a paper hat that made her look like a Minion with a Christmas hat on.  She was happy to wear this all the way home.

We walked around the quiet mall after that, and enjoyed the music and the decorations.  But soon it was time to head back outside into the cold - yes, it's cold.  It's the wind, I suspect.

We did a bit of homework - more Susan B Anthony - and some piano practice too.  And tonight we also squeezed in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  Yes, it's time to start watching all those Christmas specials and movies!  We've got the Pandora music channel set up, and are even about to start taking out the trees.  It's never too early, and this year we have a new tree to set up on the landing upstairs.  Santa's here, and Christmas is around the corner.  It's time to get in that Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Tonight we had another great message, one based on the board game "Hedbanz."  It was based on this devotional Daddy wrote about a month ago:

"We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 NIrV

"Hedbanz"     Who am I?  That's the question that gets asked the most when playing a game called "Hedbanz."  The game is loads of fun - each player has a plastic strap on his or her head, and in that strap goes a card with a picture on it.  If it's a picture of a banana - that player is a banana.  If it is the Little Mermaid, then that player is the Little Mermaid.  Here's the catch though:  that player wearing the card has no idea who they are.  All the other players can see the card except the one actually wearing it!      It's a fun and sometimes hilarious game as players race to figure out who it is exactly they are.  But when the game is done, there may be a lingering question asked:  who am I, for real?  Fortunately, the answers are easy to find, scattered all throughout the Bible.     Here's just a few things you can say about yourself, all found in scripture.  John 1:12 tells us "I am God's child."  John 15:15 tells us "I am Christ's friend."  1 Corinthians 12:27 tells us "I am a member of Christ's Body."  Ephesians 1:3 says "I am blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing."  1 John 5:18 says "I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me."  Matthew 5:13-14 says "I am salt and light of the earth."  John 6:47 says, "I am promised eternal life."  1 John 5:4 says "I am victorious."  Romans 8:37 says "I am more than a conqueror."  Philippians 4:13 says "I am not helpless."  Colossians 1:13 says "I am delivered."  And 1 Peter 1:23 says "I am born again."     The list goes on an on, and when we become a part of God's family, there's an easy answer to the question "Who am I?"  No, you're not a banana.  You're a child of the living God!

The day was a nice one, mainly because the rain stopped for just a moment.  Daddy didn't get to see Madison so much today, mainly because of work.  There were a few moments though, and those are precious as always.  Mommy and Madison went to ballet again, and it's been great because we have such encouragement from the last visit with ballet where we could watch her dance.  Her poise and grace are simply marvelous to behold, but that's all from a parent's perspective.

This morning, we did our usual trip to the school as always, waiting in traffic, dropping Madison off at school.  We tell stories, talk about what's to come, and generally goof off as we wait in line.  Each morning, the four p's are still the rule - prayer, packing, picture and a trip to the bathroom.  But the other rule involves more goofing off:  Daddy walks down the stairs loud enough that Madison knows he's coming.  And then... she hides.  Daddy says out loud, "Where is Madison?"  He looks around a bit, and then "BOO!"  Madison jumps out from her hiding place.  This all happens every single morning, a part of our little routine.  And that was the biggest part of the day with Madison for Daddy today, although Mommy spent a good deal of time with her with ballet, and then dealing with piano practice for the big recital.  Also, there was homework, where Madison has been spending time learning about Susan B. Anthony, and how to spell "suffragette."  Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting, if you can imagine that.  And fined too!  She never paid the fine, and never saw the day that women could vote.  It is hard to imagine what it was like before the 19th Amendment.  Fortunately, everyone realized who women were, just the same as men.  Which brings us to our 'Hedbanz' topic again, about self-worth and knowing who you really are.  As we close up, here's the latest worksheet Daddy made up in a hurry, one we used tonight at KidPak...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I am a Vampire

The allergy report came back, and it's official.  Daddy is 50% vampire.  I have an allergy to garlic, and coincidentally will die if a stake is driven through my heart.  I am no afraid of crosses, however, and don't really have any cravings for blood.  Hence the 50% part.  But that's more vampire than most people on my street, so there's that.

The other allergies are egg whites, paprika, garlic, red pepper, and something to do with sugar that we're still scratching our heads at.  Basically, after the results came back, we were more confused than we were beforehand.  Until now, I've been avoiding dairy products like the plague.

SO, tonight Daddy had a cheeseburger at McDonald's.  And paid for it mightily later on in the night.  There must be garlic in it?  Or paprika?

Anyway, the quest to figure out just what's going on continues.  And at the same time, Mommy is still having a slow healing process herself.  Though the surgery was successful, it's just taken a while for her to get back on her feet completely.  We're praying for our health lately, although things aren't as terrible for us as they are for others.  We're grateful for what we do have, but it would be nice to get back to 100% soon.

Only one week until the piano recital.  Today we had a practice run, where Madison performed for the class - she did well there.  It's a complex bit of work with her hands, but she's been practicing.  And she'll be practicing for the next few days as well.  There was also this big ensemble piece that the class played together - "Pillow Dance."  She and this other boy have this one part, and at one point she's the only one playing, about halfway through the song.  She'll be practicing a lot over the next week on that one as well.  It took a while to get the class all together with timing and so forth, but there was that one last performance where everything lined up.  And all was well.  And it will be well again in one week's time as all the kids will be frantically practicing.

Tonight, we watched "Inside Out," getting ideas for our upcoming January series.  Hopefully it will work out, but a few people seem pretty excited about it.  The thing is that Daddy will have to do a whole lot of writing between now and then, probably a lot during our vacation coming up.  But that's okay - Daddy likes to write, believe it or not.  Especially knowing that it will be something great for Madison hopefully.

We read again tonight from the devotional, and from "The Isle of the Lost," which is again is a LONG book!  But Madison is really enjoying it, always wanting to hear an extra chapter - though we can't always do that because it takes so long just to read one chapter.  It's a fun book for her, with the villainous characters that she's used to as the protagonists.  There are all kinds of villains, but no vampires.  Maybe they could write Daddy in that - he's 50% vampire now, right?

Monday, November 9, 2015


Ballet was just in time tonight - Daddy got there with Madison, and the two of us cross the parking lot in the rain, two umbrellas hoisted up together because there was too much rain today to try and make a dash for it without one.

On the way back from ballet, we stopped at McDonald's.  It wasn't really on the game plan, but when we got a coupon for a free kids meal with our Mary Poppins tickets, Daddy decided to let Mommy have a break preparing dinner, and we stopped for fast food.  Of course, with Madison, there's more than just food there:  you can also get happy meal toys.  The manager at this McDonald's location won big when she let Madison have an extra Peanuts toy, so Madison walked away with both Snoopy and Fifi.  Yeah, she was pretty happy about that.  The manager explained the reasoning for getting Madison a free Fifi, and I quote, "She's just too cute."  Of course, she was talking about Madison, not Fifi.

Today, Madison finished her piano, which was a lot of practice this week.  There was a prize for this week's practice, but one only found if she could figure out this clue:

To find your gift will be a breeze
Just find a cat that has the keys.
His teeth play sharp, his purring floats
across the room as he takes notes.

Her prize was hiding behind the little cat piano.  It's a piano with a cat's face, the teeth are keys.  Madison wasn't quite as quick to figure this one out on her own, but with some help from Mommy, she was able to find her prize:  it was the movie "Inside Out."

We're thinking about doing this as a series in January, "Inside Out."  That said, we couldn't wait until Christmas to open this one.  In fact, we may watch it tomorrow night.  Tonight, we watched the shorts that were on the disc, which was about all we had time for before bedtime.

We keep reading from her "Game On" devotional that Daddy wrote, and also from "The Isle of the Lost."  It's a big book!  But Madison enjoys every word, and listens quietly before bed - it's a nice little tradition we have, reading before bed.

Speaking of traditions, she's very quick to make sure we have a new thing to be thankful for each morning this month.  No different this morning, she said she was thankful for KidPak.  Daddy and Mommy are too - we have so much to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Step in Time

Tonight was a bit of redemption for "Mary Poppins," as we once again saw the musical, and this time Mommy was well enough to enjoy it all the way through.  Not only that, but we also had Madison with us.  The Gainesville Ballet has been dancing to a version of this lately, a production we've seen a few times the last two springs.  But this is the full-on Broadway version, about two-and-a-half hours of Jolly Holiday for everyone.  We saw this production put on by the Gainesville Theater Alliance, and the first thing we noticed is that everything we saw here was nearly identical to the production we saw a few years ago at the Fox Theater.  The quality was amazing - top notch!  And for so much less than what it would cost to buy tickets through Ticketmaster to the Fox Theater, and pay for parking, and drive down… we were expecting the quality to be down a bit, but were clearly not expecting the production to be so well done!

It was pouring rain, which in itself is not news.  That's the story of the month already.  But the neat thing is that we got to put Mommy's Mary Poppins umbrella to use, the one with the parrot handle.  It was a very special time we had together, and we were happy as always to expose Madison to the theater.  And she was very much into the entire production - as you can imagine, we were singing our favorite songs all the way home.  Madison likes "A Spoonful of Sugar," which was a fun song performed in the kitchen on stage.  The magic tricks on stage got her attention really well - how did that table appear from nowhere?  And how did all the shelves fix themselves?  And what about all those large objects she kept pulling out of the carpet bag?

It was a fun afternoon at the theater here, and just part of a pretty big day.  This morning, we continued our board game series with a service dedicated to the game "Monopoly."

We had a great skit, great videos, and an awesome message too.  It went together really well, just a small part of a surprisingly fun series.  This one was just a throw-away idea, and it has turned out so solid that some of us wish we could do it for a few months, instead of just the one.

If anything, it has inspired parents to go out and buy some board games.  And it has inspired us to play a few at home this month as well.  Although not tonight - we got home late, and it was pretty much time for some reading, and for some sleep.

Yes, it's time for bed a little early.  It's been a pretty big weekend, full of fun, boardgames, Nutcracker Camp, Peanuts, Mary Poppins, and lots of fun!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Happiness Is

We had promised Madison if she had done a certain amount of homework and piano, we could head out to see "The Peanuts Movie," and she did really well getting everything done.  That said, tonight after work, we all went out to see the movie - it was really good, actually.  It was a huge nostalgia kick, as these characters are simply magical.  But this next generation loves all the characters as well - case in point, Madison.  It was wonderful hearing her laugh out loud many times throughout the movie.  We went to see it with Josh, who sat next to her, and was laughing just as hard at key points.  He is a big Peanuts fan himself.  The movie made you want to go watch all the holiday-themed Peanuts cartoons, and then some.  As for the movie itself, it has many great lessons to learn from, and throughout the film you can see such a positive role model in action with Charlie Brown.

Anyway, we loved the movie, all of us.  And from the sounds of things, we're not alone - quite a few others enjoyed the movie as well.  We might even see it again soon enough!

The rest of the day was spent inside - one reason was because it was raining.  Again.  The other reason was work-related.  We had a lot to do to set up for the big day on Sunday, our board game of the day being Monopoly.  But Madison did something else fun this morning, just another part of what is turning out to be another amazingly full weekend:  she went to Nutcracker Camp!

 This is the last year for Madison at Nutcracker Camp, which is basically a morning learning a new dance that all the kids come out and dance to.  It's to the music of the Nutcracker, of course.  They meet up with dancers from the upcoming production, and do crafts related to the Nutcracker as well.  It's a fun morning with a lot of other kids in the ballet, and a nice morning to have some Christmas-themed fun.  She's been doing this for a few years now, and it's been great each time for her.  Sadly, this is the last year, believe it or not.  She's outgrowing things already!  Sniff, sniff!

Anyway, that was fun this morning.  And we did get our work done in time to see a movie, so that was great too.  It was a rainy day, but everything we did was inside, so I suppose that wasn't that big of a deal.  Forecast for tomorrow:  more rain.  It's been a wet and gray November, that's for sure.  But we've got a lot of cheer to go around, and starting really soon, it's going to be Christmas cheer!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fear the Reaper

Okay, so I've got a title here from Guns n' Roses.  But seriously, the first week here in November has seen plenty of rain.  And so yeah, that song keeps popping in the head from time to time.

The rain was such that we didn't really do the Fall Festival at the school tonight, opting instead to go back to Jurassic World.  Mommy and Daddy finally watched the movie, although Madison and Daddy have been doing the LEGO version a lot lately.  LEGO games are deep with going back to find objects or characters, and it's generally fun exploring.  This is a fun one here, and Madison's primary exposure to the whole Jurassic Park idea.  She loves the theme music.  She hums that to herself, in fact.  Additionally, Daddy has the soundtrack in the car, which makes for a fun ride to school in the mornings.  Daddy will tell some extended dinosaur story, and have the soundtrack to back him up!

So Daddy wrote a skit for this weekend, and was initially having a tough time deciding what to write.  We wrote one skit around a board game last weekend, but what to do this weekend?  It was right in the middle of thinking of the bottom line that he remembered a scene from one of the Bill & Ted movies, and the idea just sort of fell into place.  Madison will get to see a Grim Reaper of sorts this weekend at KidPak, and the skit you'll see below.  Fear the Reaper, no cowbell required.

Reaper Game

CUE SLIDE:  "Game On! Title Screen”

HOST:          “Today’s story begins with Robbie and Camille.
                And it features them making a really strange deal.

                You see, just like everyone else, they were guilty of sin
                And because of that fact, someone strange entered in.

DEATH  glides in, dark cloak and sickle.

HOST:            This is all our fate!  These two gasped for breath!

ROBBIE and CAMILLE overdo it.

HOST:            For in to the room walked a figure with the name of DEATH!

ROBBIE:         “What?”

HOST:           Shouted Robbie.

ROBBIE:          That’s totally unfair!

HOST:            But the Bible says otherwise

CAMILLE points at her BIBLE.

CAMILLE:        Yep.  It’s right there!

HOST:    For all have sinned, yes even you and me
                It says it right there in Romans 3:23.

CUE SLIDE:       ROMANS 3:23

HOST:            And so DEATH came to collect their souls at long last
                The two had to think up something good – and fast!

                And that’s when Camille remembered, and so she proclaimed:

CAMILLE:        “I’ve got an idea, DEATH!  Let’s play a game!”

HOST:           For stories are told, and paintings portraying
                Men seated with DEATH - for their souls they are playing!


HOST:           DEATH heard it all before, and always won
                DEATH is inevitable when all’s said and done.

                But still DEATH relented, knowing they’d in fact lose
                And asked this one question


HOST:           Robbie and Camille were in a great mess
                For neither was terribly good playing chess

                And with so much at stake, and DEATH at hand
                Why not choose a game they could win?


HOST:           DEATH was surprised.  This was not as planned.
                Certainly DEATH has not ever played Candy Land.

ROBBIE and CAMILLE are setting up the game of Candy Land.

HOST:            Yet rules are rules, and by those he must abide
                Robbie and Camille had a seat, with DEATH down beside.

                They set up the board game – there was no turning back.
                DEATH placed down a gingerbread man, one colored black.

                And so the game started, with so much at stake
                No one knew all the twists and turns this game would take.

                Robbie looked at DEATH, his heart beating hard
                Then he reached out and got a double blue card

ROBBIE celebrates!

HOST:           And so DEATH went along, and was keeping the pace
                Until DEATH got stuck on an orange licorice space.

DEATH throws up hands in exasperation

HOST:           Camille did well, and didn’t think she’d fail
                ‘Cause she took a short cut on the Rainbow Trail

CAMILLE celebrates as well

HOST:           And so it seemed likely that our heroes would win
                But DEATH drew a card, and gave – well, a grin.

                For their luck was now ending, or so it would seem
                DEATH showed them the card he drew

CAMILLE:        No!  Not Queen Frostine!

HOST:           DEATH moved that dark gingerbread way up ahead
                Way up to the Ice Cream Sea

ROBBIE: Oh man.  We’re dead!

HOST:            For the game was all over, yes DEATH always wins.
                And it’s all because of mankind, and all of our sins.

                DEATH rose up, knowing that they had no chance.
                And here’s where DEATH did a victory dance!


DEATH dances a bit a moment before stopping quickly, and sitting down again by a stunned CAMILLE and ROBBIE.

ROBBIE: We should have played freeze tag, or maybe red rover!

HOST:           Their chances were slim.  It looked like GAME OVER.

                But just as their hopes looked quite indeed bleak
                Something strange happened next – yes, something unique!


HOST:            It was Jesus!  There was surprise on DEATH’S face.
                Jesus walked over, and then he took their place!

ROBBIE and CAMILLE move out of the way for JESUS

HOST:    And now it’s Game On, because there ain’t a chance

CAMILLE:         Looks like you started too soon with your victory dance!

HOST:           And the amazing thing here is that Jesus was winning
                And he showed us all grace despite all of our sinning

                Jesus played the game perfectly – he flew across the board!
                You don’t have a chance when you play against the Lord!

                And so DEATH saw he lost.  This wasn’t part of the script!
                Jesus turned to his foe and said,

JESUS:   “Son, you got whipped!”


ROBBIE and CAMILLE do the dance.  DEATH shakes hands with JESUS, congratulating him, and DEATH joins in.

HOST:           And as weird as this was – to this story, there’s meaning
                You see, we were doomed, but thanks to Jesus intervening

DEATH waves goodbye to ROBBIE and CAMILLE, who wave back, and glides off STAGE RIGHT

HOST:           Death, where is your sting?  The grave has no hold!
                Though our payment was death, Jesus did something bold.

JESUS rises, and joins CAMILLE and ROBBIE.

HOST:           He took our place – we were all going to lose
                And that is why it’s important to share the good news!

JESUS talks with CAMILLE and ROBBIE, who are excited

HOST:           Tell others about God’s love, and share what you know
                It all starts with the first word of the Great Commission:


ROBBIE and CAMILLE exit, waving goodbye to JESUS and presumably off to share the gospel.

HOST:    Go, spread the gospel, and to God be the glory!
                And that, my dear friends, is the end of this story.

JESUS waves and exits as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Helping Hands

Updates due, featuring speech therapy, gofundme, grandparents, drones, Radio Shack, and a busy calendar!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Tonight we had a bit of Jenga going on - Daddy had the camera ready for this big plunge when it was Madison's turn. Yet Madison didn't go with the script! She was able to slide one last piece out and stack it on top - you can see her shock, joy and surprise when she was able to pull it all off. This tower was swaying so much you just knew it was going to topple. And then she puts the piece on top, puts her hand over her heart, and looks at Daddy and goes, "Your turn!"

It was a great moment - although a brief one for Daddy. It's his 'busy day,' with a message tonight that we did in small groups. The series is about board games, and tonight's message is about... you guessed it: Jenga. Here's a brief idea of things below:


"You are a building that is built on the apostles and prophets. They are the foundation. Christ Jesus himself is the most important stone in the building." Ephesians 2:20 12:12 NIrV

     The concept behind Jenga is simple: build a tower, and build it taller! The challenge about the game is not-so-simple: use only the pieces that are already on that tower! This is one of those games that takes nerves of steel. Each player takes a turn carefully sliding a piece of the tower out of its place, and then cautiously, slowly, balancing it on top again. How high can it go before everything starts toppling down? That's part of the fun - nobody knows!
     Here's a bit of strategy: leave the bottom alone. That's your foundation, and without it, obviously the entire tower will come toppling down around you. That may be a bit of common sense, but it's important to set up here how important that foundation is. It is the very thing that the entire game rests upon, and without it, everything comes crashing down right away!
We have a foundation in our lives that is just like that. His name is Jesus, a cornerstone, and the most important part of the building of the church. Everything rests on him, and without Jesus in your life, you guessed it: life comes crashing down all around you.
     As you grow, you will go farther and farther! You will go higher and higher, and it's going to be incredible. But you must be sure that you have that most important foundation, the One who your entire life needs to rest upon. His name is Jesus.

The evening was a huge success. Kids just love Jenga! There was such tension in the room, back and forth. So much celebrating when one side or the other was successful with their move! And of course, the message itself was pretty obvious, and pretty clear.

So it's raining again. Just in case you needed to know that. It's been essentially doing that all week long. Madison and Mommy went to ballet tonight, which wasn't a parent-viewing sort of evening, but Mommy was okay with that as she got a chance to do some grocery shopping.

One thing of note: Madison seems to have an increasing amount of homework lately. There is a growing amount of math, reading and comprehension. This week, she's been getting really good at reading this one passage about Paul Revere over and over again. Each time she reads it out loud, she gets better and better. She has one minute to go, and she's gotten further and further. But we're not as concerned about the amount of words she says - we're very pleased with how she says them. She's sounding great.

It's been a great day - a long one, but a great one.  Jenga!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

LIFE, Lights, Lice, and Lash

Can you believe there are only two more weeks until the Fall Piano Recital?  True story!  We had piano class today, and Madison seems to be doing really well here, coming along nicely with her recital piece as well.  It's a lot more difficult at points, with two fingers going at once and with different rhythms... let's just say it would take Daddy a long time to master this one.  Madison will be playing this for everyone in the room in a few weeks, although next week she'll be playing it for the rest of the class.  She's marching along with it though - there were easier choices to play, but she went with this one for the challenge.

Since we talked about the Game of LIFE on Sunday at KidPak, we had to actually play the game today, so that's what we did.  We set up the Pirates of the Caribbean version, and of course Madison won it in the end.  Daddy didn't throw the game either.  Madison was just a little more pirate than Daddy tonight, and sailed into the lead with some big treasure scores.

We made some reservations today for Callaway Gardens in a few weeks.  It's on the way down to Florida, so we thought we'd spend the night there, and maybe check out their Christmas lights as well.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate - it's been raining quite a bit lately.  The hotel rates are quite reasonable, and when you throw in the fact that there's admission to the Gardens, some place we've never been to, it should be something new and interesting for us all.

The school nurse gave Madison the all-clear to keep going to class.  These lice have been a serious nuisance all year, starting with week #1.  All the students keep facing them, and early trips home - it's just a constant threat.  Fortunately, Madison is doing well.  She was a little nervous to begin with, but the nurse said it was all okay.  Thanks go to Mommy for the shampoos, the lengthy checks, the combing through her hair.  It's a real trial.

So tonight we read to Madison from her devotional, and from "The Isle of the Lost."  She's really into that book, and will be for another week or so - it's a longer one.  After that, Daddy wants to hit a few classics.  We actually got a few abridged versions of "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn."  Also, a copy of "Swiss Family Robinson."  Those will be fun to read, particularly if we head back to the Magic Kingdom any time soon.  So after reading and prayers, Mommy and Daddy were off to watch "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." for 'date night.'  And yes, this is the episode where we learn who the character Lash is.  We won't spoil it here, but Mommy and Daddy had suspected this earlier.  Not to say we're terribly smart at predicting things on the show - it's quite unpredictable at times.  But there you have it.  Hindsight will be fun when reading this, and looking back upon an old episode of a television series.  The 'right now' moment is that we were a bit surprised.

So there you have it:  LIFE, Lights, Lice and Lash.  Not a bad day at all!