Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve, 2016

It's the end of 2016!  It was certainly an eventful year.  We spent the last day of 2016 cleaning up a bit, and resting too.  Since we left for a quick vacation right away, we hadn't had time to put away some of the items we found under our tree.  Madison hadn't had time to even plug in the new LEGO "Force Awakens" game she got, which today she did do.  She was enjoying that quite a bit, while Mommy and Daddy got to try some of the new bubble bath bottles that Mommy got for Christmas.  Once again, she got some Juniper Breeze, and all was right with the world.

The weather was grey and gloomy outside, even with a bit of surprising sleet.  We didn't have any accumulations, but it was enough to get folks chattering on social media.  The slightest bit of frozen precipitation around here, and folks go crazy!

Daddy's tummy has been sore today - I think I overdid it on vacation with swimming and walking so much.  We took it easy eating today, although some of that Christmas candy was very tempting.  The justification is that we'll all be fasting soon enough, and you have to get rid of all that chocolate, right?

We were all in our pjs for most of the day, and Madison determined early on that she wanted to stay up until midnight.  So that we did!  We watched "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" together, and then called all our friends and family to wish them a Happy New Year.  We still had to fill some time, so Daddy brought up a few movies - the one that Madison really wanted to watch was "Back to the Future."  We figured a time travel movie might be appropriate on New Year's Eve, right?

We sort of talked over some of the more grown-up parts (distraction!), but on the whole, Madison really, really liked this movie.  We'll be watching the sequels probably tomorrow and the next day, in fact - that's how much she liked Doc Brown and Marty McFly's adventures.  We even watched one of the "Back to the Future" cartoons we have.  Since last year, Daddy has the ultimate "Back to the Future" collection, which has all the cartoons, the ride, the movies, a 2015 message and movie short, plus a whole lot of extras.  We'll probably be watching more of the cartoons in the coming weeks.

But in the meantime, we were getting close to midnight.  Daddy set up on the computer so we could watch a live stream of the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom.  This was the first year we chose not to watch the New York Times Square presentation, and the reasons should be obvious:  Dick Clark is no longer there, and usually there are some musicians present that we have no idea who they are (or what they are singing), and there are a lot of shots of a whole bunch of people crowded in the city.  We figured why not just watch some live fireworks from the Magic Kingdom, and listen to Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy count down the last seconds of 2016?

And that's what we did.  We had some of Madison's favorite pumpkin spice drink, a sparkling flavored soda, and some nice glasses.  We counted down the final seconds of the year with Mickey and Minnie, and listened to the fireworks go off outside in our neighborhood.  At midnight, we did a proper to toast to the new year.  Plus Madison said that Mommy could kiss Daddy at midnight, because we were married.  That was funny, actually.

The fireworks are still going off all over the neighborhood, and since it is raining a bit outside, we aren't as leery of fires as we normally would be.  But it does in fact sound like a war zone.  There are so many fireworks of different volumes going off, and they're exploding all over the countryside, some nearby and some distant.  It's quite an amazing thing, really!

Anyway, 2016 was pretty eventful.  And hopefully 2017 will be bring us greater favor and blessings for us, and for you as well.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Homeward Bound

It was a quick Christmas break, but the timing was such that we could actually go - all of us - because we were all off from school and work this week.  It had to be short, but that's okay - we enjoyed our time with Ba-Ba and Nana greatly, and were glad we could come down for Christmas week.

We said our goodbyes and got in the car for the long drive back.  This morning, the temperature dropped quite a bit, and is much cooler up north, obviously.  We'll miss the sunshine, at least for a few months anyway.

We drove home, hitting I-95 northward, and going home that traditional Athens route.  There was a little more traffic that way than usual, but it's nothing compared to the Atlanta route, which is always such a mess.  Madison sat in the back, watching DVDs and playing games as always.  She could be heard laughing out loud at certain parts of movies she was listening to with her headphones.  We had no ideas which parts these were, but it was funny hearing her crack up.  I think it was the latest Monster High movie, but I'm not too sure.

It was a fairly dull day as far as driving for a long time goes.  But that isn't necessarily a bad thing - we were glad to have a smooth journey!

We got home early evening, fairly exhausted at the day's travels.  We sat up "The Jungle Book," watched that with some popcorn, and then pretty much went to bed.  Of course, we were reading from the Princess Leia book, but other than that, it was time to go to bed.  Everyone was tired!  We had a great time this week, but we were ready for a good night's rest.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Paper Crowns

Tonight we had fun with some Christmas crackers.  Do you know what these are?  It seems to be a tradition in Great Britain more than here in the states, but since Nana is from Wales, we picked up some Christmas crackers for the evening.  These aren't the crackers you eat, of course.  These are small packages wrapped somewhat like a Tootsie roll, where a person grabs each side and pulls like it were a tug-o-war.  There's a bit of material inside that pops loudly, making a cracking noise, and the package is open.  Inside there are usually paper crowns, which you can see above.  Also inside are little games and prizes.  Daddy got a shoehorn.  I'm not sure why.  But Madison got a little ring puzzle, and Daddy actually got a small sheet of paper that told the history of Christmas Crackers, so that was pretty neat.  I'm not going to type it up here - you'll have to look it up!

It was a full day of beach activity, of course.  The day was just beautiful for this sort of thing.  We had two really long walks down the beach - it was all just perfect!  The sunrise this morning, by the way, was gorgeous.  Daddy was up in time to see it.  The weather was cool outside, but the sun was heating things up quickly when it rose.

Nana and Ba-Ba have this view each morning.  You don't have to be an advanced photographer to take a gorgeous picture.  Just point out towards the east and click!

Madison has been very "list oriented" this trip.  She's had a few things on the list that are mandatory, one of them being ice cream.  Nana and Ba-Ba had plenty of that for her this week.  Another thing is mini-golf.  Today's weather was just right for that, so Nana and Daddy took her over to the pirate mini-golf once again.  We had choices of places to play golf, but Madison really enjoyed the pirate-themed one, learning about Blackbeard and so forth.  This is a really fun course down in Daytona Shores, and of course it doesn't hurt that you can literally see the ocean from there.  The weather was just right too.  We got caught up in a lot of fun there.

 But we weren't finished with the list.  It was back to the pool today.  It was pretty warm outside, but that pool water was quite frigid, even for Madison's standards.  She dipped her feet into the water, and promptly decided it would be best to go back to the indoor pool where things were warmer.  So off we went once more, playing Marco Polo and other games in the warmer pool inside.  It was quiet in there, as we had it all to ourselves, even the jacuzzi.  Daddy still needs that warm water, ever since this surgery.

Dinner was huge, a Christmas dinner in fact.  It was good, and quite a lot of food.  Afterwards, we all sat down to watch "Alice Through the Looking Glass," one of the many movies we got for Christmas.  And yes, they had popcorn for Madison.  She loves that popcorn!

What a full day!  We read from the Princess Leia book, and got to sleep early tonight.  Tomorrow is going to be a long day, so we certainly need the rest.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


We're here at the beach, so that's what we spent most of the day doing today, right?  We took a pretty long walk down the beach this morning, Mommy, Daddy and Madison.  We went north, away from the sunshine and towards Daytona Beach.  Of course, we'd never make it all that way, but we did go pretty far.  The weather was just right for a beach stroll, although the water was pretty chilly.  That didn't stop Madison from kicking up some water at Daddy from time to time.

At one point, we encountered a large flock of seagulls milling about, and were probably bad parents here, but we encouraged her to run through them at full speed.  Of course, they were flying off everywhere, filling the air with all sorts of complaints.  That is, until they landed again not too far from where they took off from in the first place.

To quote a character from "Finding Nemo," they're all "rats with wings!"  

There were not many shells along our walk.  But there were other people walking along too, and it was just a really nice walk.  When we got back, Daddy and Madison did some building - we piled up enough sand to create our own version of a sand Christmas tree.  We decorated it with shell ornaments, and even used our shovel to create square blocks of sand as presents.

After that, it was time to bury Madison.  And then Daddy.  We took turns burying each other in the sand, which on one hand was something new.  On the other hand, it was really sandy.  I mean, really really sandy.  So how to get all that sand off... Yeah, we had to go down to the ocean for a bit to wash off.  But that water was so very cold!  You kind of get used to it, but not really enough.  I don't know how the others could tolerate it so much - they must be tourists from really far north.

Daddy got to read a little today, and do some reading for Madison too - we were reading a few comic books that Daddy got from the library just before we left.  We also played Star Wars Monopoly a few rounds, and we're delighted to discover that this game - unlike most Monopoly games - has an end.  Like, there's an objective that's slightly different from running everyone into the ground financially.  Mommy and Daddy were Sith Lords, and Madison was Luke.  Game #1, she didn't have a chance!  Game #2 was Daddy vs. Madison, and that's when the good guys made a comeback.

We had spaghetti for dinner today, and there's never a shortage of food around here.  Or dessert!  We've been resting and reading and coloring - Madison brought with her some "stained glass coloring sheets" that she got for Christmas.  They're pictures of angels, so she's been really liking these creations she's coloring.

The weather is much clearer today.  It started out foggy again, but this time it burned off.  It was even a little hot later on in the afternoon.  But we really enjoyed it out there today.  Mainly because we're sand people!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Princess Leia

It's no secret that 2016 has been - up until now - the most lethal year for celebrities we've had in a while.  And though George S. Irving passed away today (the Heat Miser), possibly the most affecting death of all to our family was that of Carrie Fisher.  Last night before bed, we were reading a book to Madison, one called "Moving Target," a Princess Leia adventure.  It was a Christmas present.  Alongside Madison's bed here is a Princess Leia Tsum-Tsum that she got from Aunt Shain.   Just two days ago, Madison was wearing her fancy new white Princess Leia gown she got for Christmas.  Princess Leia is kind of a big deal for us.

And now she's gone.  At least, from movies.  I know she'd supposedly finished up her scenes for Episode VIII.  There will be a bittersweet feeling watching that movie, almost like when we saw the third "Night at the Museum" movie after losing Robin Williams.  The galaxy is a little less bright today.

Daddy told Madison in the afternoon, although Nana and Ba-ba's television here was broadcasting the news all day long.  Madison was sad to hear this, of course.  We all are.  Star Wars fans like us are sad - from Florida we were reaching out to our friends back home, sharing condolences at the loss of such an iconic character.  We'll continue our reading tonight, but this time with a little more feeling.

Today was a foggy day at the beach.  All day long, we never once saw the horizon where sky meets ocean.  We could never see that far.  Later on in the day, we could not even see the condo beside us.  The temperature is cool, and obviously overcast.  The funny thing is that when we go inland to Wal-Mart and Home Depot for a quick shopping trip, it was hot and in the 80's, all bright and sunny!  Crossing the bridge back to the barrier island, it was almost supernatural.  You could see this I massive cloud just covering everything, a line between the mainland and the sea.  We didn't go walking today, but we did sit out on the balcony on several occasions, relaxing and listening to the hypnotic sound of the ocean waves.  One big thing that Daddy did while out there was write all the outlines for the upcoming series at KidPak, "Neverland."

Daddy and Madison still went swimming despite the cold.  We swam inside though.  There is a smaller indoor pool downstairs, and there was heat there too - it wasn't that bad, actually.  There was a hilarious game of Marco Polo, and another game in the pool, one that isn't necessarily a pool game so much.  Still, we played it.  Madison has been hooked on the game "Yes and No" from "A Christmas Carol," and so we have been playing this on and off for about a week.  It's been a source of hilarious laughter at times.

Daddy:  "Is it an animal?"
Madison:  "Yes."
Daddy:  "Is it a cat?"
Madison:  "Yes!"

The game is supposed to last a little longer than that!  Anyway, afterwards, we both hopped in the jacuzzi, which Madison suddenly loves.   And then it was time to head upstairs - our hands were turning wrinkly!

Even in Daytona, it's Taco Tuesday, and that explains the shopping trip above - we had everything we needed for tacos tonight.  Madison is loco for tacos.  She was going to town on them the moment everything was set up.  She'll eat at least five or so.  Meanwhile, Daddy has slowed to just two.  That's it for this tummy.

We played some board games - "Zootopia" and of course Mexican Train dominoes with the family.  That's becoming a tradition.  We have a lot of board games with us, because Madison is always up for that.  It's a short vacation we're here for, but it will be nice.

One more thing:  Madison got a Bible for Christmas.  The reason I'm pointing this out is because we started reading it together tonight:  Genesis chapters one and two.  And so it begins!

Monday, December 26, 2016


Madison woke us up this morning at about 9:10 am.  Yikes!  We didn't plan on sleeping in this late!  And so, we rushed to pack and rushed to get out the door, which took us roughly an hour.  It's the usual time of questioning - did we remember this or that?  Is everything packed?  It turned out we forgot one thing, and that's about it.

We took the Athens route to Macon and hooked back up with I-75, and the drive was just perfect.  It was thick with traffic at times along the interstate, but it kept moving.  We never really stopped, actually.  The only times we stopped were for the occasional rest area, and for Chick-Fil-A in Cordelle, which seems to be a tradition for us now.  But even there, we just did the drive-thru.

One thing that helped our drive move along were the podcasts that Daddy uploaded earlier.  We listened to some messages from Perry Stone, and a six consecutive episodes of an old Riders in the Sky radio show.  They were fun podcasts with cowboy music and an ongoing serial drama, one that was pretty funny.  The message from Perry Stone about the menorah was interesting too, one we chose because it's Hannakuh.  In fact, when we got to the condo later on tonight, there was a a menorah in the lobby, one with four candles lit so far.

Of course, Madison wasn't listening to sermons about menorahs.  She had her earphones on, watching movies and listening to her new MP3 player, one she got for Christmas.  We loaded it up with stuff she's like, from the "Moana" soundtrack to the "Trolls" soundtrack.  And yes, we were listening to that ourselves on our own radio.  We're loving the songs from "Moana," especially "Shiny" right now.  And "You're Welcome."  They're all fun though, and remind us of Hawaii greatly.  It would be nice to go back.

We got to the beach later - it was dark already.  The Christmas lights are still here, so it's nice and festive.  Today's journey down was nice, and we were happily grelected by Nana and Ba-Ba.  Madison couldn't wait to exchange gifts:  we had some gift bags from the Taste of Britain for the grandparents, filled with British imported candy and snacks.

It wasn't quite bedtime yet, so Madison and Daddy played a few hands of Uno, followed by a surprise:  Daddy had the latest issue of the Poe Dameron comic book, which thrilled Madison.  No, the story there isn't over yet!  We have another issue coming out next month.  Madison groaned at the cliffhanger!

We ate a small meal, and peeked out at the ocean.  You can't see it.  It's too foggy and dark.  But that roar is there, constant.   We made it.  It's a really short trip, but after a bit of a frantic month, we'll rest here for a tiny bit.  Goodnight!