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Monday, March 31st, 2008. Today I'm posting a few more photos from our weekend in Wilmington, NC.  We made it to the coast before leaving town, but it was cold and rainy, so our visit was brief.  We were on the beach just long enough for Amy to run out and stick her toe in the ocean.  The boys were having fun when we found them in Claudville and had lots of stories to tell.  Jackson stayed up until 4AM on Friday night and had drawn a face on his belly in permanent marker.  His belly button makes the mouth and Jackson calls him Bob.  They came home with four new movies, two new games for the Playstation2, toys and even groceries.  And that's not including the toys and clothes we bought them, so they didn't suffer without us.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008.  Not long after marrying the most amazing person I've ever met, my wife and I decided to keep a bottle of wine from that year to open and drink on our tenth wedding anniversary.  At the time, that seemed like a very, very long time away.  Make that a very, very, very long time away.  But in what seemed like a blink of an eye, there we were on Friday night, drinking that bottle of wine, which surprisingly was pretty good.  Everything about our anniversary was wonderful.  We arrived in Wilmington in just enough time to find the Front Street Inn and check into our Hemmingway Suite overlooking Front Street, before our private carriage arrived for our tour of the town.  We liked the driver a lot, the ride was very relaxing and enjoyable.  Amy liked Harry, the 2 ton horse pulling the carriage.  We were dropped off in front of The Union Cafe, where we ate a fantastic meal while watching the sun set over the Cape Fear river, which was very reminiscent of how we watched the sun set over the Pacific on our honeymoon.  It was the best seafood I've had in forever.  We ran into nothing but the friendliest of people all day long, my wife looked amazing and all in all it was a perfect day.  Ttoday's photos are from Friday evening.  I haven't even looked through the photos from the rest of the weekend yet, but we shopped, walked through town looking at houses and ate, a lot.  We had lunch at the Front Street Brewery, a place we remembered from visiting my sister Melanie twelve years earlier.  Dinner at The Deluxe was superb, as was the ice cream from Kilwen's on the way home.  I think our room is the best in town and is extremely close to all the shops and restaurants.  It's been a fantastic relaxing weekend.  But now it's Sunday, the rain is falling and it's time to scoot home to our boys, with maybe a quick detour to the beach.  I can't wait to hear about all the things the boys did while we were gone.  We've relied on our friends the Eads and Deana and Martin to take care of them.  Happy Anniversary Amy, I love you.

Thursday, March 27th, 2008.  "Charlie bit my finger.  And that hurt Charlie!"  We've been saying that a lot at our house lately, in ridiculously bad British accents, but I laugh every time.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBlqSz8sSM .

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008. When I was Jackson's age, I went on solo expeditions in the woods around my house.  You could still do that back then.  After Jackson and I recently found an Easter Lily growing just inside the wood's edge behind our house, I told him about a field of lilies I once found while walking through the woods behind the elementary school near my parent's house.  I told him that they were probably the only thing left, along with an old pond, of a farm, possibly a hundred years old.  Jackson was curious if the lilies would still be there and wanted to go look for them.  He said that if they had made it a hundred years, then maybe they had survived the last thirty as well.  So on Saturday, that's what he, Ben and I set out to find.  A factory now sits where my school once did.  As we walked behind the buildings, I pointed out where things like the monkey bars and slide once stood.  Jackson thought it sounded like a glorious playground.  Not far into the old fields where my family once picked blackberries, we entered the woods and kept walking until we found the old abandoned pond.  We poked at the frog's egg sacks floating near the edge, caught lizards and ate the snacks we were carrying.  From there, we plowed up and over the next ridge and down another.  I was ready to bail on the original quest, but Ben was determined to find "the valley", so we continued on, even after we found ourselves following rabbit trails through overgrown thickets full of briars.  Then, just as we neared the end of our loop, within site of the factory, we saw the pockets of yellow and green.  Their numbers had diminished, but the lilies had in fact survived the thirty years since my last visit.  Ben was happy.  Jackson, being Jackson, was careful to only pick one flower from each bunch.  Ben had missed his nap and Ben had just walked for over two hours.  Ben was poked by a briar.  Ben cried.  A lot.  He said "why did you bring me to this horrible place? I should be with Mommy.  I should be at the grocery store!"  I carried him the rest of the way and Jackson carried our flowers.  Jackson, being Jackson, made sure his flowers stayed separate from the ones Ben and I had picked.  A piece of ice for his boo boo and a popsicle from my parent's house made life more tolerable for Ben.  He fell asleep on the way home with the popsicle stick still in his mouth.  We arrived home, gave Amy the flowers, ate, then headed out to Ben's first T-Ball practice.

Monday, March 24th, 2008. Here's a small sampling of our Easter photos, many more can be found in the Easter Gallery.  Thanks to a late night at the Drive-In Theater watching Horton Hears A Hoo, Jackson actually slept late Easter morning, allowing Ben to wake first.  It's only once in a blue moon that Ben wakes before his brother.  So he got the fun job of looking out the window to see if the Easter Bunny left eggs.  Both boys enjoyed the presents he left in the baskets they had left out on the porch.  And both enjoyed the egg hunt.  It was a little chilly and Ben was the first to say that his hands were cold and he was ready to go back inside.

Later in the day we met family and friends at my sister Deana's house for a huge Easter party and egg hunt.  Deana celebrates her birthday tomorrow, Happy Birthday Deana!  The kids had a wonderful time playing together.  There was candy, food, fishing and fun.  Following that we stopped by my grandmother's house for a late evening visit before.  My grandmother's brother is seriously ill at Baptist Hospital following a stroke, so we wanted to spend time with her.  It was a marvelous weekend and the only bump was that we didn't get my mom's message that she had prepared an Easter lunch, so we missed that.


Saturday, March 22nd, 2008.  For more photos from Ben's first practice with his TBall team, click here.  I started a gallery because I can tell we'll be taking lots and lots of t-ball photos.  It's going to be a fun season.  We like Ben's coach a lot.  He's the same person that taught Ben in Pee Wee Karate when he was three.  Ben says he got "six catches."  The only part he didn't like was getting his cheek scuffed up when he ended up on the bottom of a three person pile-up.  As he climbed out I could see his bottom lip trembling.  He told the coach he had to go to the potty, but when Amy got out of site with him, Ben took off his sunglasses and told her that he didn't have to go to the bathroom.  He just needed to get rid of the tears before he could go back. 

The boys and I also went on a two hour hike yesterday, shot basketball and worked in the yard.  At the end of it all, we went to a birthday party at a friend's house.  It took Ben approximately three seconds to start snoring after his head hit the pillow.  If you're wondering why I haven't been posting a lot lately, I've spent a lot of my free time building a kayaking site, www.betweenswims.com.  I finally have all the code done though, so maybe I can get back to posting Spring photos here at Life In Mayberry.  Speaking of kayaking, I had a big day last weekend paddling rapids with names like BoatBuster, Razorback, Thunderhole and Ten Foot Falls on Wilson's Creek.  After only paddling one ClassIV rapid all of last year, I knocked five out in two and a half miles Sunday afternoon.  It was an awesome day, lots and lots of fun.


Monday, March 17th, 2008.  Our nephew Jesse's drama team performed an original play written by a fellow high school student in a competition at his school and won.  They then competed in a regional event in Richmond, Virginia and won there as well, which allowed them to go to Charlottesville this past weekend and compete at the state level.  They placed fifth and we are very, very proud of him and his team for doing so well.  From what I understand, they were the only group at state performing an original play. 

On Sunday Amy and the boys attended the Junior Women's Club Easter Egg Hunt.  The boys had a lot of fun in the first event of their Easter season and came home with lots and lots of candy.

Thursday, March 13th, 2008.  I'm happy that Amy accepted an invitation to join the Junior Women's League earlier this week.  I think she'll enjoy her involvement there since she finds helping others very rewarding.  She's been a great room mother for Jackson's second grade class and has had some really creative and fun ideas for their parties.  Amy also volunteers as a tutor at Jackson's school.  Our community needs volunteer help now more than ever as charities get pinched harder and harder by the shrinking number of area businesses.

In a few weeks Amy and I get to return to the site of today's photo, taken eleven years ago, for our tenth year wedding anniversary.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008.  Ben visited Jackson's pediatric ophthalmologist in Greensboro today and learned that his eyesight is normal, no problems.  Jackson, not so coincidentally, had another sad night regarding his glasses and cried.  For the first time he brought up my number one pet peeve, that on all the television shows, the nerds wear glasses and the cool kids never wear them.  That stereotype drives me crazy.  And I know it's one of those things that people that make television shows don't think of because their kids don't wear glasses.  But if they did, then they would realize how stupid it is to keep doing that in show after show after show.  Just try to think of one cool, popular kid on any television show, ever, that wears glasses.  I can't come up with one.  Then think about the super nerdy outcast kid on every television show and try to think of one that doesn't wear glasses.  Television writers aren't very creative.  Anyway, Jackson had a line this morning that cracked me up.  He was showing me the notebook of secret dunks he and his cousin Caleb made yesterday.  We were trying to think of a good hiding place for it.  I told him that he could put in in the bottom of his underwear drawer.  He says "No, I've already got my candy stashed there."  I thought that was hilarious.  Ben had a good one recently too.  After walking the length of Hanes Mall with me he saw a mother rush by with a baby in a stroller.  Leaned over, with his arms hanging in exhaustion and his head thrown back, he moaned "Ahhh man, I never get to ride in one of those anymore."

Sunday, March 9th, 2008. Another windy Saturday called for another day of flying kites at Westwood Park.  This time Ben flew his Justice League kite while Jackson was at the gym participating in the Fit Kids program.  The second most referenced photo on our site by search engines is this one of Jackson at three flying a kite using the Snoopy fishing pole Ben fished with last weekend.  Coincidentally, the photo that brings more people to our site than any other, by far, is this one of Jackson's Spiderman birthday cake from the very same May 2003 page.  Another photo that Google seems to love is one of a banana pudding that Amy made.  And of course you've got all the folks searching for info on Mayberry, but nothing comes close to attracting as much attention as the Spiderman cake, go figure.

Monday, March 3rd, 2008.  On Sunday morning, while Ben and I slept late, our early birds, Amy and Jackson, were talking about what a nice day it would be to go fishing.  We haven't been in years.   And like magic, Deana calls a few hours later with an invite to go fishing at the Friday Night Fish Fry pond.  Ben spent his entire afternoon practicing casting in the driveway with a toy fish tied to the end of the line of his Snoopy rod.  He LOVED casting.  The weather was perfect and the fishing got pretty exciting with huge trout being pulled out of the pond left and right.  I didn't catch anything personally, but I did take a few photos.


Saturday, March 1st, 2008. I love today's photos.  Much of Ben's life is spent on trails his big brother has already blazed, but today he blazed one of his own.  I think Ben might be our stick and ball kid.  He threw the ball back to the coach hard and on target.  Every swing was solid and every hit was hard.  I'd love for baseball to be Ben's thing.  Partly because a lot of it comes natural to him, it would suit his size and being a lefty won't hurt either, but also because it's not something Jackson has any interest in.  Ben got compliments on both his throwing and his hitting.  And he ran the bases faster than I've ever seen the little guy run.  I think he had a lot of fun and re-lived the tryouts when he got home by playing imaginary ball in the house.  He then said, okay, I've thrown and hit, now I've got to run the bases, and proceeded to run lap after lap through the house.   Wow, what a windy day though.   So after picking up Jackson at the gym and eating lunch, we went back to the same spot with our kites. 

Ben, by the way, has decided that he doesn't want to go back to karate until he is as big as the other kids.  I don't know if he is worried about getting hurt or if it got on his nerves that everybody kept saying how cute he was.  Probably, the later.  But it seems like a logical request to me, so he's done with that for now.