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Tuesday, March 31st, 2009.  I can't make up my mind where to start on this post, so I'll just go in order.   On Friday, Amy and I celebrated our anniversary a day early by going to dinner at Flint Hill Vineyards' Century Kitchen.  The food was fantastic and we enjoyed our evening together very much.  Ben had his much anticipated sleepover with his friends Samuel, Matthew and Megan, while Jackson had a sleepover with his cousin Caleb.  The following day, after collecting the boys, we drove to Statesville to meet Alan, where we picked up Jimmy and Nicole.  They got to stay with us while Alan and Charla celebrated Charla's sister's birthday in Charlotte.  The boys thoroughly, whole-heartedly enjoyed their time with their cousins.  That night however, we received the extremely sad news that Amy's aunt, Grand-Betty, passed away.  Betty was so sweet and kind and thought so much of the boys.  And we thought so much of her.  We will miss her tremendously and are grieving the loss of another connection to Grandma Sue.  On Sunday, we visited with Alan and Charla before they had to leave for home.  While almost all of my paddling friends were taking advantage of perfect paddling conditions that afternoon, I fulfilled a commitment to help a group of teenagers learn how to roll at the local community center.  When I arrived home from the pool, I received the horrible news that my friend, Mercer Oast, had drowned in a tragic accident on the Maury River.   It's been a really hard thing to come to grips with and I can't stop thinking about, not only his wife and daughters, but also my friends that witnessed his death.  Mercer has a wonderful obituary that you can read here, he truly was a unique and special person that will be missed greatly.  I've posted a few photos of Mercer on my paddling website.  During the past two days, we've been extremely busy with soccer practice, football sign-ups, etc...  Deana came by today to play with the boys while Amy took care of some volunteer work for Junior Womens Club.  She and Jackson went out, bringing back Japanese and a Happy Meal that included the Bob toy that Ben wanted from Monsters Vs Aliens, which he saw Friday night with the Eads.  Earlier in the afternoon, while Ben was coloring on the walls of the tree-house with chalk, he fell through the rope ladder's trap door, which had accidentally been left open the last time the boys played in there.  The poor little guy was scraped on his back, arms and legs pretty bad and was asleep with big, overly dramatic bandages on him when I got home.  He says he will have to skip school for five weeks.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009. We had a fun party tonight for Deana at the Claudville Cafe.  Her birthday was yesterday, so Happy Belated Birthday Deana!


Tuesday, March 24th, 2009.  Jackson has lucked out with two gorgeous days for his first two soccer practices.  Next week he plays his first game and it will be against his cousins Caleb and Isabelle, plus his aunt Melanie and uncle Eric who are coaching.  We were really hoping that they would get to play on the same team, but it didn't work out.    I told Jackson that if  one of them steals the ball from the other, they'll have to yell "Sorry Cuz!" as they run away.


Ben and Ruby Sue - March 2009Monday, March 23rd, 2009.  If someone in our house is sleeping, odds are that Ruby Sue is on them.  Ben fell asleep Friday around 5:30 in what we call "Grandma Sue's chair".  I took today's photo not long after Ruby Sue jumped up to join him.  She fell asleep moments later and the two went hours without budging.  I eventually carried Ben to his bed where he continued to sleep straight through the night.  It has been funny watching how quickly Ruby Sue has become spoiled.  She is a big fan of sitting on our laps and nothing aggravates her more than when Amy stands at the laptop in the kitchen.   Amy says that Ruby thinks that being on the computer is a big waste of time.  I think it's because Amy is standing still and Ruby Sue can't figure out a way to be part of it.  But whatever it is, she stands at Amy's feet and meows over and over and over as loud as she can until Amy either gets off the computer or picks her up and holds her while she types.    It's the only time she meows.  It's like a PC alarm, because whenever I hear Ruby meowing, I know that Amy is on her computer.

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009.  Yesterday, we decided that it would do us good to get out of the house, so we spent the afternoon at Sci-Works, followed by shopping at the mall for some shorts that Jackson wanted, then at Dick's Sporting Goods for Ben's baseball pants.  On the way home we stopped by Toys R Us so that Ben could make a Birthday wish list.  He ran into a buddy and had a wonderful time.  Today we enjoyed the nice weather, capping the day off by hosting the monthly Dinner Club.  It's always nice seeing everyone and the boys enjoyed every minute of it.  For some reason, the only photos I have are of the Joyce boys, but trust me, there were kids, big and small, running around everywhere.  And since one of the big kids passed out some very cool swag, I'll give a shout out for his company, Moonshine Tees.

Friday, March 20th, 2009. Last weekend, our nephew Caleb came over to play.  He and Ruby Sue hit it off well.  I spent part of a cold, wet Sunday paddling with friends on a close by stretch of the Dan River.  A few days later, Jackson had his first soccer practice on a warm, pleasant, sunny evening at the park.  Kites were flying and kids were playing in the river.  The very next day, Ben had his first Tee Ball practice on a cold, wet, windy miserable evening.  Hopefully we'll swing back to warm and sunny for the weekend.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009. A few photos from this week, which included a visit by Jackson's teacher from last year and her very pretty daughter, Sydney Kate, and Ben and Brett's visit to the library in celebration of Dr Seuss' birthday.  Ben actually went to the library twice that day


Sunday, March 8th, 2009. Besides pressure washing the house, sidewalk, etc... and doing other general spring cleaning type stuff this weekend, Jackson and I have thrown about a thousand baseballs, shot hundreds of baskets and thrown dozens of footballs.  I don't know if I will be able to move my right arm tomorrow morning.  Throwing baseball with both he and Ben has been a lot of fun this Spring.  Jackson actually pressure washed the whole sidewalk by himself.  I was more than happy to sit back and let the little guy do some big guy work.  On Saturday morning Amy helped cook hundreds of chicken pies for a Junior Women's Club fund raiser.  That night, our friend Megan came over for a fun sleepover.  Jackson loves making Megan laugh by falling down and doing other silly stuff.  We spent most of today visiting my grandmother and throwing baseballs in her front yard.  The weather was soooo nice both yesterday and today.  On Friday, Ben had his tee ball screening.   He has been practicing a lot, did well at the screening and will move up to the six year old league this season.  Jackson has improved a lot in baseball as well, has a great arm, but will play Spring Soccer this year, since he plans on replacing Fall Soccer with football this year.  I think it was a tough decision for him, but Amy and I are looking forward to watching some Soccer.  Tonight Amy enjoyed a second showing of Twilight at the Downtown Cinema with friends Timmesa and Sue.  That's it, another weekend in the bag.

Thursday, March 5th, 2009.  Want to see something cute?  Check out our buddy Brett and the monkey  (9MBs).  Today's photo was from one of Jackson's recent school projects.  He needed a family photo taken somewhere in town, so we asked a tourist to take our pic after eating lunch at Ben's old favorite restaurant, Barney's.  He says his new favorite is McDonalds.  Barney's now ranks second.  Speaking of school, Ben registered for kindergarten yesterday.  He walked through the elementary school with Amy and was very happy to see a lot of old pre-school friends..  He actually seems pretty excited about next year.  For a long time he said that this would be his last year of school because he wasn't going to go to kindergarten, so we are very happy to see the change in attitude.  We were also very proud of Jackson this week.  He brought home his work folder and had scored 105 on every single spelling test.  That meant that he not only spelled all ten words correctly, but five bonus words as well.  He also brought home a progress report and has continued to receive straight As and has recently been accepted into the new third grade CAP program.  Top that off with attending Spanish class at the local charter school twice weekly and he's been on quite an academic roll.  When Amy picked him up from this week's Student Council meeting, he was covered in mud from head to toe following a snowball fight in the school yard. It was his second snowball fight of the day.  When I talked to Jackson that evening, he said they were the best two snowball fights ever.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009.  I took the lovely photo of the snow covered fence while looking out our car's driver side window Sunday afternoon.  That was my view for close to three hours.  My dad eventually came to the rescue by driving from Claudville in his four-wheel drive truck to pull me back onto the road.  I had backed out of a longer trip Sunday due to the threat of inclement weather, but was pretty sure that I could squeeze in a few hours of local kayaking before the bad weather hit.  Turns out I was wrong.   More photos here.  It's too bad too, because had it not been for the car sustaining damage, it was just a perfect day on the river.  It was also a negative end to what was otherwise a very nice weekend.  While Ben spent Friday evening with Deana and Martin, Amy, Jackson and I ate at Jackson's favorite restaurant, Chili's, shopped at a favorite sporting goods store in Winston-Salem and capped things off with donuts at Krispy-Kreme.  On Saturday, after Amy returned from a work-out at her gym, Jackson and I went to our gym for an afternoon of one-on-one basketball.  That evening, we enjoyed dinner and games at the Eads' house across town.  So had I somehow managed to avoid sliding off the road, it would have been a pretty good weekend.

Monday, March 2nd, 2009.  Today was an official Snow Day!  As Jackson described it, he woke to find the ground covered with "jolly whiteness."  Many more pics on our Snow Page.  It was the best snow we've had in years, but even with that, it only lasted till lunch.  The boys did get all they wanted out of it though.  They started early and played long.  After coming in and getting out of their wet clothes, our friends the Eads arrived, looking for a little more incline than they have at their house.  The boys suited back up and were happy to go another round in the snow.  Amy warned them later that if they wanted to go for round three, they had better hurry before it melted.  But both boys said "Thanks, but no thanks."  They were done.