Friday the 28th. Ben loves music.  You can hear him singing Sesame Street songs like "Boom, Boom, Boom In My Room.", "That's How The Numbers Go" and "Counting Is Wonderful" all day long.  This morning he was simultaneously playing his new recorder, clicking a castanet and dancing.  He said it was the Delane Song.  Ben calls us Mommy and Daddy but refers to us as Delane and Amy, isn't that funny?  For instance, when my dad took Ben shopping the other day, my dad said "That's your Daddy's office over there BenBen."  And Ben said "No, that's Delane's office."  He has a big basket full of musical instruments, plus his own guitar, thanks to uncle Martin, that he plays like a stand-up bass.  Whenever I pick up my guitar, he sprints into his room and comes back with something from the basket to play.  Yesterday morning, Ben followed up Music Time at the Andy Griffith Playhouse with a lunchtime father/son jam session at his house. 

In other Ben news, the kid has jumped on the potty train and is rolling down the tracks in his big boy Batman underwea^.  chugga chugga Woo Woo!  

This morning Ben went with his Mommy to cheer on friends at the Special Olympics in Dobson, NC.  I was able to catch up with them afterwards for a nice lunch out with friends.  When I said that it was time for me to go back to the office, Ben said he wanted to go help me work.  So I took him with me, letting him work on some big projects that I needed help with.  Amy followed behind a few minutes later to pick him up and take him home.  And for the second day in a row Ben  refused to fall asleep at naptime.   As many parents out there know, skipping nap doesn't necessarily mean a sleepy toddler and an early bedtime.  It usually means the exact opposite.  It means we'll have a wild, grumpy two year old on our hands all evening that will be too keyed up to fall asleep at bedtime tonight.

Thursday the 27th.  Ben recovered fine from his dental work, once he finally woke up.  He was even able to go to our friend Megan's very fun birthday party Tuesday evening and enjoy lots of soft foods and ice cream. I can't believe Megan is ten already. 

Below are a few things I've been meaning to post for posterity...

Ben calls umbrellas rainbrellas, which makes perfect since if you ask me.  (read more...)

Tuesday the 25th.   Remember when Ben was scheduled to have anesthesia and dental work last month but woke up with an allergic reaction to pumpkin bread instead?  Well, today was the make-up date.  I think the kids must have sensed our nervousness last night, because no one slept well.  It was a looong night.  Amy dropped Jackson off at a friend's house across town at 6:30am and he rode to school with them.  We were at the pediatric dentist office in Winston-Salem at 7:45am.  Ben was happy to be there and played enthusiastically with all the toys in the waiting room.  Then came time for the anesthesia (read more)...   

Monday the 24th.  Getting together with our Dinner Club friends is always a treat, but last night the great weather and great food combined with the good company made for an especially nice evening.   As everyone's lives were getting busier and busier, the get-togethers were getting fewer and fewer.  It was then that our friends Brian and Jenny suggested we start the club as a way of keeping in touch and soon after hosted the first meeting at their house in Greensboro.  Their idea was a fruitful one as the monthly Sunday evening dinners are entering their fifth year.  Each month the host family sends out an email with a tentative date and menu that lists the items they would like everyone to bring.  Confirmation emails are then sent back sorting out who will bring what.   It's that simple and I highly recommend it for any group of friends that find themselves seeing each other less and less.  More photos can be found here...     

 

Sunday the 23rd. Jackson had so much fun at his school's Spring Fling that he didn't make it to his Friday night Sport Jujitsu class.  Jackson has a lot of fun with his kindergarten teacher and there was now way he was leaving without the chance to throw a pie at her in the pie throwing booth.  The teachers were all great sports, but I don't know how they took it, there were some pretty big kids stepping up to throw those pies.  Jackson also got to throw a pie at his principal and physical education teacher.  Plus he won the cake walk on his first try, not a bad night.  Read more...

Update: Jackson's day started off on a high note when he once again found his name and photo in the newspaper.  This time he was photographed watching a clown make a balloon sword at the Spring Fling. 

Friday the 21st.  When my friend Jeff bought his new Mad River 16' Explorer, Jackson and I volunteered to go along for the first test drive on Lovill's Creek Lake.   Jackson and Jeff's son Samuel were both fantastic paddlers.  They didn't stand up or fall out of the canoe or anything.  Jeff and I were very proud of them.  read more...

Thursday the 20th.  While I took Jackson to karate class earlier this week, Amy and Ben took a stroll up the street to opening day at the local farmer's market.  They bought spearmint, lemon balm, a flower, a homemade sweet roll (Ben ate it while shopping), and a dozen farm fresh free range chicken eggs that we made omelets out of tonight.  Ben talked to everyone there and met some very nice people.  He even got an invitation to visit one of the farms to feed their ducks.  On the way back they visited with neighbors enjoying the nice weather from their front porch.  Hopefully Amy and Ben can make this a regular Tuesday evening event because they really enjoyed it.     

Wednesday the 19th. One of the fun things we did at the beach was watch Jackson race go-karts for the first time.  Okay, maybe he was the only kid racing and the others were just having fun, but for sure, Jackson was racing.  I took him for a few laps on the family track to explain the three things he needed to know; press the gas all the way down, don't let off the gas, and stay to the inside.  Jackson focused on that last rule with all his might and stayed glued to the inside line.  If someone else was in that line, well, he moved them over a little, then passed them. 

He cut line at the last second to make sure that he could get the Tony Stewart #20 car (aren't you proud LaMoore?) and won the first two races with it, but then the car stopped climbing the hill during his third race.  He took a break and when he went back a little girl jumped in the 20 before he could get there.  I told him to get in the black #3 because it had looked really fast earlier.  In that car Jackson lapped the entire field of six cars three times and the little girl in the 20 five times (remember it wouldn't go up the hill.)  The funny part was that Jackson was obviously miffed that the girl took his car because he bumped her every time he went by.  The girl did a good job of bumping him right back though and they spent half their time bouncing off each other.  It was all very fun to watch.

 

Since returning from vacation, Jackson has spent countless hours riding his battery powered four-wheeler in the driveway.  For much of the time, he simply turns around at the street, drives straight toward something at the other end of the driveway, then, at the very last second, pulls a bootleg.  If you don't know what a bootleg is, think of the Big Wheel commercials from the seventies where the kid pulls the rear hand brake and slides all the way around.  In my case, I picture my friend Mike pressing the clutch and pulling the emergency brake on his old, three on the column, "ayuuuuuga" horned, blue Ford truck one rainy day back in high school which sent us sliding around and around in an empty parking lot.  Or you could just watch this video of Jackson in his Red Ranger costume sliding his four-wheeler around.  Jackson's renewed fascination with his four-wheeler is Power Rangers inspired.  After years of resisting, we finally let Jackson start watching Power Rangers a few weeks ago.  I eventually made another game out of it by placing an orange cone in the drive to see how close Jackson could slide next to it without knocking it over.   After a thousand laps in the driveway, he was, not surprisingly, pretty good at it.    Last night he rode the four-wheeler to his school (we live next door) and left this rock as a surprise for his teacher.  And those readers that recall Jackson's opinion of school when last fall will be surprised to read that he recently actually admitted to liking school.  Amazing isn't it?  Not that he likes it, but that he admits it.  This week he is happy to be a Student of the Week because he got to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom.  He also counts down to the days till he is Student Teacher.  And he's holding out hope for Student of the Month, but the months are running out and there are way more than 10 students in his class but only 10 months of school, so we don't know about that one.  

Monday the 17th. We had a great Easter Morning.  The boys were excited to find their baskets stuffed with toys, candy and books.  Jackson was the most enthusiastic about finding all the eggs the Easter Bunny hid overnight in the yard, but Ben found more than enough to fill his basket too.  Ben likes to stop and see what's in the eggs before moving on to the next one.  And since he was in his bare piggies, he wanted us to get them for him if they were anywhere other than in the grass.   More photos can be found in the Easter gallery.

After all the Easter Eggs were found and way too much candy eaten, we visited my grandmother in Virginia for a delicious lunch.  Jackson setup a picnic in an area under Hama's butterfly covered lilac bush that he called "paradise".  Both boys sat under the tree eating fried chicken legs while Amy and I visited with my dad and grandmother.  With the sweet smell of lilac and butterflies fluttering around everywhere, we all agreed with Jackson that it was a nice spot to relax. 

        

After the boys went ahead with my dad to his house, my uncle Mike stopped by with my cousins Parker, Gabe and Maddie.  Maddie is my littlest first cousin and the most adorable one to boot. 

Jackson spent the rest of the day at my parent's house playing and putting a tire swing in the same big oak in the back yard that my tire swing hung in as a boy.  Ben, Amy and I all went back to Mayberry for a nice afternoon nap.  I wonder if the Easter Bunny was as sleepy yesterday as I was?

Saturday the 15th. Today's main photo is from our visit with Misty and Dena at The Purple Cow during our Virginia Beach trip earlier in the week.  Dena warned us about the shakes and she was right, Ben's entire hiney was stained purple the next morning when I changed his poopy diaper.  Dena and Misty are friends that we've gotten to know through each other's blogs and meeting them and their families in person was a lot of fun.  We'll now have to eat at The Purple Cow every time we go to Virginia Beach because Jackson and Ben LOVED having their mouths stained purple from the shakes.  Aren't Ashton in the top left and Ethan in the top center just super cute?  Kaiden, who I didn't get a photo of, was just as cute too.

One of the reasons we picked Virginia Beach for our Spring Break vacation was so that we could visit Amy's aunt Betty in nearby Chesapeake.  We call her GrandBetty.  The kids love her and have always enjoyed our visits  on the way to the beach.  We've stayed in closer contact with Betty since Amy's mother passed away and were happy to get to spend an afternoon with her. 

The photos below are of Jackson and his friend Virginia.  Virginia's mother Hilary is a good friend of Amy's and had the neighboring room at our hotel, so Virginia spent lots of time hanging out in our room with her buddy Jackson.  They are only three days apart and get along fabulously.  Virginia laughs at all Jackson's silliness, which feeds his ego, it's just like they are dating.  I have a gallery of Virginia and Jackson photos here.

We had a fun day spent mostly outside.  Tonight Jackson and I went canoeing with our friends Jeff and Sam on Lovills Creek Lake      

Friday the 14th.   This morning we had a nice surprise visit from our good friend Anita and her son Jimmy.  Anita lives in Meadows of Dan, Virginia and stopped by while in town shopping.  Anita was such a good friend from both high school and college that she joined two of my other best friends, Mike and Stanley, as a groomsman in my wedding.  Later in the afternoon my sister Deana and our friend Sharon took Jackson and my other sister's oldest children to see Ice Age: The Meltdown before meeting us at my parent's house for an Easter Egg hunt and cookout.  It was then back to town for Jackson's seven pm sport jujitsu tournament training class.  The conditioning in that class is so intense, I'm not sure how he mustered the energy, but he did great and came out of class with plenty of energy left-over. 

Thursday the 13th. Following a late night six and a half hour drive, we are back home in Mayberry.  I can never say enough about how well our kids travel.  By my estimates, Jackson has easily made over 120 car rides that exceeded four hours in his five, almost six, years.  So if we tell him the ride will take six hours, he doesn't whine or constantly say "are we there yet?" because he has a good feel for how long the drive will actually take.  He only occasionally asks "How many more hours?"  That being said, I personally was more than ready to get off the road by the time we pulled into our driveway.

Today's photos are from our last day at the beach (more photos can be found here).  Our last day was a beautiful breezy one with temps in the sixties.  We started early with one last trip down the lazy river, then following checkout, we took a stroll from 39th down the boardwalk to King Neptune on 31st.  Jackson was the only one with wheels, so each time he pedaled by us he would say "See Ya, wouldn't want to be ya!" 

We let the kids play in the sand until lunch, then walked up Atlantic Avenue for pizza and ice cream.  It doesn't matter how many times I go to Virginia Beach, the fact that the street names are the same ones on the Monopoly board will always amuse me.  How can you not think about Monopoly when you're driving on Baltic or Mediterranean on your way to the Boardwalk?  We said goodbye to Amy's friend and her children, then headed to the Go-Kart tracks.  This is Jackson's first year being tall enough to drive a go-kart and we were both looking forward to it.  I'll post more on the go-kart adventure another day when I can include the photos.  It still wasn't time to start our drive home though.  Jackson brought three dollars from home to spend in a gift shop and we had promised to take him shopping.  So it was back to the beach one more time.   Being quite the frugal shopper, he managed to buy three toys with his three dollars; a plastic ninja sword, a real sponge, and a shark that will grow when placed in water.  I'll let you guess how long it took to pick those three things out.  The night before, Jackson put an ice cream sandwich back at 7-11 and bought a pack of sugar-free gum instead because it would last longer.  He's a saver not a spender.   Ben bought a rubber monster head, that when squeezed, oozes a mouthful of bugs engulfed in slime out of it's mouth.  Sounds charming doesn't it?  He loves it and had to sleep with it last night.  He calls it "the bug mouth man."    He wanted to buy one for Papa and Amy too, but we made him put them back.  Well, actually we tricked him into thinking that we were buying them, then put them back before we got to the cash register. 

We are happy to be home, but sad that our little Spring break vacation went by so fast.  Our next beach trip will be to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this July and we are already looking forward to it.

     

Tuesday the 11th. Here are a few photos from yesterday.  I have a few more here.  It was a beautiful day, full of trips to the indoor lazy river and an afternoon spent on the beach.  Ben loved exploring and playing in the sand while Jackson loved playing at the water's edge.  Ben only got wet once, accidentally.  After being tackled by an unexpected wave he was wet and cold.  He cried "I'm all wet wid the lucky water!"  (lucky means yucky)  That's when he finally came in for a nap.  Jackson kept getting a little wetter and a little wetter until he was basically drenched in the waves.

One of Amy's friends from high school met us here at Virginia Beach with her two children.  We also got to meet Misty, her two children, Dena and her youngest son last night at The Purple Cow which was a lot of fun. 

  Ben the beach bum  

Monday the 10th.  So we're at the beach and I've got an Easter egg photo.  "Why?" you ask.  Because the camera I used to take the photos at the lazy river was stolen last night.  Actually I had it in my awesome yellow dry bag that I use when kayaking and set it down in the hall to put on a t-shirt, then left it there.  But since it wasn't still there an hour later when I realized it and no one turned it in, I say it was stolen (that way I can be mad at someone else instead of at myself.)    I had some great photos of the kids on it too.  We still have my good camera and Amy's camera, but this was the one that I take to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes, so I'll miss it.  It put me in a pretty bad mood last night, but on the bright side, Ben pee peeed in the potty for the first time last night when we got back from the pool.  The neighboring rooms probably thought we had won the lottery when they heard Jackson, Amy and I cheering.

Saturday the 8th.   My little sister, her family and my dad came over last night for a Mexican dinner.  Amy made beef enchiladas, Mexican chicken casserole, quesadillas, dip, apple enchiladas for dessert and PB&J quesadillas for the kids.  It was all very, very yummy.  Jackson and I had to leave a little early so that he could get to his new 'Weekend Warriors' sport jujitsu class.  It's a once a week three month class focusing on sport jujitsu tournament training and will be in addition to his two days of advanced karate training.  They had a really intense workout and Jackson loved it.  Afterwards he said "I had fun in that class Daddy."  He also asked if he could go to his old Mon-Wed-Fri beginners class, the Tue-Thur advanced class and the Friday night tournament training class so that he could go five days a week.  I told him that might be pushing it just a little. 

Friday the 7th. This photo is from exactly this time last year.  In the post that accompanied the photo I wrote "He picks flowers, collects sticks, talks to the neighbor's cat, runs down the driveway... "  The collecting sticks part of that is still a Ben staple.  Last night while crossing the parking lot outside of Jackson's karate class with me in tow, he spotted a short two inch broken stick and said "hmmm, look at this little one" and bent down to pick it up.  He does that everywhere.  He picks up the stick, admires it, makes some sort of comment like "look at dis big one, it's willy high like dis" (Ben reaches his hand way over his head for the willy high like dis part), then adds it to the collection that he is carrying.  His collections usually make it to the van and are then forgotten or sometimes make it out of the van and onto our side porch where they are then forgotten.

Ben had music time yesterday at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.  Amy says that Ben is quiet during music time and loud during story time

Thursday the 6th.  The photo on the left is from a birthday dinner thrown for Amy on Monday by a good friend.  Today's other photos are from Jackson's karate class.  I've been meaning to post a photo of him in his new green belt.  If I kicked my leg as high as Jackson did in this photo, it would put me in traction.   

 

Tuesday the 4th. Jackson was out of school on Friday and Ben has been asking to go to the dinosaur house for some time, so a trip to Sci-Works was in order.  Amy invited our niece Isabelle to join her and the boys  and they also met friends Megan, Matthew, and Samuel once they got there.   Amy took lots of photos, to see them here.

I hate the time change.  Hate it.  Just set the clocks to right in the middle of our two different times and leave it, forever.  Schedules are so important when you have kids and moving the time up or back an hour is like giving that schedule a big swift kick in the shin.

Monday the 3rd.  Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife!  I love you!  Amy turns thirty-two years young today.  I'm five years older than Amy, so no matter how old we are, she gets to be young and I get to be old.  In two days we celebrate the day we met ten years ago at my friend Mike's apartment in Collinsville, Virginia.  

We had a busy, beautiful first weekend of April.  These first photos are from a trip the boys and I made to the playground Saturday morning.

     

And the photos below are from my niece Isabelle's five year old birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  You can see all the photos here.  Izzy had a princess party, but asked the boys to dress-up how ever they wanted.  Jackson takes that kind of invitation seriously and brought his entire costume wardrobe.  It was like watching a Cher concert because he was wearing something different every time you saw him.  I think he managed to get five different outfits in before the party ended.  Ben was Ben the Bunny.  My sister also blogged the party and has a photo gallery that includes a photo of me in Jackson's Native-American headdress.