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Tuesday, September 29th, 2009.  A lot of catching up to do here on the website before we roll into October.  On Friday, after school, Amy took the boys to a play area setup next to the amphitheater for Mayberry Days.  They ran and played for two solid hours, running into multiple friends while they were there.  Saturday started with Ben's rainy soccer game and ended with our whole family watching live outdoor music in the rain.  Three of our friends, all dads of Ben's friends, were playing at Mayberry Amped.  Great show, great songs, we all enjoyed it.  Soccer has been fun, if not terribly competitive.  Four games into the season, we have only scored two goals and have won no games.   The kids are all playing hard well.  It's certainly not for lack of effort, we are just missing a finisher that can score.  The main thing is that Ben is really enjoying soccer, more so than I would have anticipated.  And, for some reason, he is terribly happy that I am assistant coaching.  We capped off our busy weekend with an evening of food and fun at this month's dinner club, hosted by our friends the Hunt family.  The weather was awesome, allowing the kids to all run around outside.  Somewhere in the middle of all that, the Hokies crushed Miami, the boys played with friends at the playground, I worked a little, Amy and the boys went to church, I explored a new creek in my kayak and we looked at another house.


Monday, September 28th, 2009. Last week, on a beautiful night, Deana took the boys to the Patrick County Fair in Stuart, Virginia.  The boys wanted a head start because they say that Amy and I ruin the fun.  We still arrived in plenty of time to see most of the action, although we did miss Martin riding the merry-go-round with Ben and Maddie.  It was a crisp night with a great sunset, the fair was small, but not crowded, just perfect for the kids.  Jackson rode the big attractions this year, but it was a spin on the teacup with Ben that did him in.  He threw up right after his next big ride.  Earlier in the evening he shared his seat on the ferris wheel with two cute girls, which afterwards had him bashfully grinning.  With such a small crowd, it was surprising how many people we bumped into.  We ran into my cousin Mark and his family, my cousin Marcus and his family, my cousin Maddie and Jennifer, plus friends from high school, elementary school and even one from Mount Airy.  It was a really nice evening and the boys very much appreciate their awesome Aunt Deana.


Monday, September 21st, 2009.  Today's photo of the boys was taken four years ago.  We spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about that period in our lives as Saturday marked four years without Grandma Sue.  We still miss her terribly and still feel the void in our lives.  Jackson had only been in kindergarten for one month in that photo.  We remember how Sue was at our house and got to see him get off the school bus.  Can you imagine how much she would have enjoyed getting to watch Jackson play football?  And now Ben is the one in kindergarten, stepping out of the big yellow school bus every afternoon.  It's hard to believe that it has been four years.

(The For Sale sign in the yard isn't because we are leaving town, we're just looking at a slightly bigger house.)  I posted a few photos from Ben's last soccer game hereEven with the extra CAP homework and football practice, Jackson has already managed to finish the fifth Harry Potter novel.  We borrowed the movie Saturday afternoon from friends and watched it that night.  He borrowed the sixth novel Sunday afternoon and is already three or four chapters into it.  He reads in his room, lying in the dark with a small LED light sitting on his chest.  At this pace, he will probably finish the book before the movie is released to DVD and will certainly be finished with the series before the seventh movie hits the theaters.  When Jackson was younger, with bangs and glasses, we really wanted him to dress as Harry Potter for Halloween, but he would never agree to it.

Friday, September 18th, 2009.  Our family has enjoyed our neighborhood elementary school's Fall fundraiser since Jackson was in kindergarten.  Ben was so excited about it this week and it lived up to the hype.  Super fun way to spend a Friday night.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009.   One afternoon, when Amy met the school bus at the end of the driveway, she had her hair pulled back in a pony tail.  Amy's hair has just recently reached that length and when she pulls it back, she looks almost as young as she did when we met.  Ben apparently noticed that it made his mom look younger too because as they were walking to the house, he looked up at her and said "Doesn't that embarrass you?  I mean, considering your age and all?" 

Amy has a charm bracelet that the boys and I gave her.  Over the last year the boys have added quite a few charms to it.  Amy said that, to Ben, it is the equivalent of a wedding band, because he wants her to wear it all the time.  The other day, he walked into the kitchen, holding the bracelet.  With a very disapproving look he handed it to her, then waited until she put it back on. 

Last year Ben picked out a necklace for me at FloydFest.  I liked it a lot and wore it everyday for over a year until the clasp recently broke.  I was wearing it when we attended this year's Floydfest and, while walking through a crowd, the artist stopped to introduce herself after recognizing her work. 

The school bus situation finally worked itself out.  Because the bus ride was so long and because the transportation department would not help, Amy started picking the boys up at Ben's school in person.  She then managed to get Jackson switched to a bus that arrived at the school a little earlier.  The new bus driver happened to be Jackson's driver from last year and after a few weeks, she realized what Amy was having to do.  She said that there wasn't any reason that she couldn't just drop them off at the house since she drives right by it.  So now Ben gets on Jackson's bus, then arrives home within minutes.  They now get home even earlier than Jackson did last year and earlier than when Amy picked them up in person.    So all is well that ends well.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009.   So hard to find time for the website these days.  Tonight I posted a few photos from Ben's scrimmage last weekend and his first real soccer game last night.  Really proud of both boys right now.  Tonight at dinner Amy held up a series of flash cards, written in black, listing all the colors.  Ben read every one of them.  I'm really pleased with how well he is doing in Kindergarten.  Plus he is on a two week streak of bringing home Happy Buckaroo notes from school, really happy about that.  Jackson is such a good kid.  We expect a lot out of him, but sometimes I have to step back and realize just how lucky we are.   When his alarm goes off at 6:15 each morning, he is up by the second beep and headed to the shower.  He gets ready by himself, puts in his contacts and starts reading.   Getting him to put his book down at bedtime or when it's time to go to school is actually the biggest thing that we have to fuss at him about right now.  He is working really hard at football practice.  I think he is running faster and getting stronger every week.  Between football and skateboarding he is getting pretty banged up, but he seems to be okay with that.  Jackson loves getting to watch Ben's team play soccer, but Ben is not a fan of watching Jackson's football games.  He says they are boooooring.  This past weekend it was Amy's turn to go to Jackson's game while Ben and I stayed home.  Jackson was happy that Papa and Deana were also in the stands.  So that's it right now, school, soccer, football, Harry Potter, scooters, skateboards and homework.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009.  Jackson played his second football game this past weekend, knocking down a pass while playing safety.  The Bears were playing the East Surry Cardinals at South Stokes High School in the first game of the day, which was nice because Saturday was a real scorcher.  It was very nice of our friends Ken and Tonya to come out that early on a Saturday morning to watch Jackson play.  Jackson kept looking back at us and didn't figure out who they were until after the game.   By mid-afternoon we were in Chapel Hill tailgating with our friends the Sheppards before Carolina's game against The Citadel.  We brought our nephew Caleb with us and let Ben spend the night with my dad because Ben says watching sports is boring.  Both Jackson and Caleb are huge Carolina fans and were excited to be on campus.  It was a little warm for tailgating, but it was a nice evening in the stadium and the boys enjoyed the game.

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009.  When the Sheppard family called to see if we wanted to go on a Labor Day picnic, we knew just the spot.  Jackson played an hours long game of fetch with Will and Christie's lab that involved both of them swimming back and forth across the river.  Amy and Christie played with Anne Rachel who crawled, squeeling, across the quilts.  Ben and I swam, then tubed, flipping in the rapids.  Will fly fished for trout and kayaked.  We had Natty Greene's Southern Pale Ales and a bucket of fried chicken.  Tomato sandwiches and Cheetos.  Football and action figures.  It was a great little local get-away lunch in one of the prettiest places around.

Friday, September 4th, 2009.  Busy, busy, busy.  Ben's buddy Brett's birthday party at the pool  Ben's buddy Connor's birthday party at the park.  A full week of school, football practice, soccer practice.  Ben had one difficult morning, but other than that, he had a good week at school.  Fourth grade is going well for Jackson too.  Both have great teachers.