Monday, April 30th. Our dinner club met last night in Clemmons, NC at our friends Warren and Jennifer's new house. As usual, Jackson didn't want to go to Dinner Club, but then had to be drug away from the fun when it was time to go home. The weather was awesome and we had a lot of fun playing around outside.
My sister Deana kept Ben and Jackson Saturday night so that Amy and I could go to dinner with friends from her gym. They were having a reunion from their recent Survivor competition. Congratulations go to Sandy who not only beat twenty other competitors, but who also donated %100 of her one thousand dollar prize to Susan G Komen for the Cure. My sister has great photos on her site of the boys playing in what will soon be a pond, but for now is a giant mud puddle. I know Jackson loved it, but I'm surprised Ben got dirty. He's the kid that wipes his mouth off after every bite during dinner.
Ben told Amy today that a bee was in the playroom. She found the bumblebee, smooshed it with something, then flushed it down the toilet. Apparently he later saw a wasp or hornet crawling on the carpet and decided to handle it himself. He tried to smoosh it with his knee. He killed the bee, but it stung him in the process. Ben called me at work while he still had the snuffles over it. I felt so bad for him that I bought him his very own pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey to make him feel better. Of course by the time I got home from work he was long over it. Jackson will be seven next week and amazingly has never been stung by a bee. It's a streak he's very proud of.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007. Two hundred miles to the southwest in the Pisgah National Forrest, just a few miles shy of the Tennessee border, between Brevard and Hot Springs, North Carolina lies section 9 of the French Broad River. That's where I spent the weekend after Easter, camping on the river's bank and paddling its waters. It was the highlight so far of my white-water paddling career. The scenery was amazing with tall Hemlocks rising from the rocky mountainsides. A railroad track mirrors the river's path and numerous trains blew their whistles as they passed by. The company was great, I paddled with over twenty paddlers, most of whom are fellow Smith River Valley Canoe Club members, and camped with many of the same people. But most importantly, the river rocked, with lots of class III drops, including Kayaker's Ledge, which can be seen in this video, and my first ever Class IV, Frank Bell's rapid. I don't have a photo yet of me running Frank Bell's, but I do have this one of me dropping through Kayaker's Ledge and this one from the Frank Bell's sneak route that I ran the day before. I was super happy about getting to use the roll I spent much of February and March studying. I even rolled in the middle of the Class IV, which was VERY exciting. If you want to read the trip reports from both days and see more of the photos, you can do that here.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2007. This photo of a banana pudding that Amy made back in 2004 is probably the most linked to photograph on our website. I find it all over the web. I don't blame people, it looks pretty good.
Benjamin has long called me Delane. In the beginning he would call me Daddy, but then refer to me as Delane. For example, he would say to me "Throw me the ball Daddy!", but then say to someone else "Delane threw me the ball." At some point though, the Daddy totally disappeared. He calls me Delane %100 of the time and has for the last 2 or 3 months. It doesn't bother me and I'm sure it will revert back to Daddy sooner or later. Of course, if he is still doing it when he's Jackson's age, people will probably start assuming I'm his step-dad.
In "it's a small blog world" news. Yesterday, while eating lunch at Wendy's, I made a few blog stops using their free wi-fi. Imagine my surprise when I saw my cousin Mark and his wife Sue on a favorite photo blog of mine from Boone. Marie's site is a long time favorite of mine, so I'm jealous that they got to meet her. Her photos are incredible.
Jackson came home with half his glasses yesterday. As he and his buddy ran under the monkey bars, another student accidentally kicked him and his friend in the face. Jackson's glasses broke and he lost one of the lens, but didn't find it because he walked with his pal to the nurse's office. Amy returned later with the boys and luckily found it just in time to get the frames to the optician's office for repairs. Jackson has an out of town field trip today and it was stressful to think about him having to go all day with out them.
Saturday, April 21st, 2007. I'm using this photo my sister took on Easter to show you Jackson's new smile. Some of you may remember when Jackson fell last year and knocked a tooth loose on the steps of a metal slide. That was back on February 2nd, 2006. It changed color at first, then turned white again. But it never stopped being at least a little wiggly. Before Christmas, Jackson tried unsuccessfully to get it out. He already had one missing front tooth and he wanted to be able to sing "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." The chief incentive however was for the Tooth Fairy and Santa to run into each other at his house. With the Easter Bunny planning an overnight stop at our house, Jackson spent much of the day before Easter trying again to get the tooth out. It took all day, but he eventually got it out. Jackson was thrilled. His story is that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny bumped into each other at our house and are now married.
Friday, April 20th, 2007. Today we are all wearing our Hokie colors. Today's photo is of Jackson in 2002 standing in front of Burress Hall with the drill field behind him.
Wednesday, April 18th, 2007. We traveled so much last week that I couldn't keep up with the photos. On Easter morning, after finding all the eggs and treats left by the Easter Bunny, we ate a wonderful lunch at my grandmother's house. While there we were able to visit with my cousin Janet who was visiting from Colorado Springs and with my youngest 1st cousin, Maddie, as well as lots of other family. From there we joined my sister Melanie and her family for an Easter egg hunt at my other sister Deana's house. Then, following all that fun, we drove two hundred miles to Amy's brother's house in Colonial Heights. We had a great visit there that included a trip to Colonial Jamestown, lunch in old town Petersburg and a nice dinner out with her brother's family, her sister's family and our good friend Mrs. Bertha. I have lots of photos from the week and hopefully I'll get around to posting some of them, especially the ones from Jamestown. Our nephew Jesse came back to Mayberry with us much to Jackson and Ben's delight. Jesse brought his XBox and two guitars for playing Guitar Hero. I think the whole family was addicted by Sunday. Jackson cried very hard when it was time for Jesse to leave. The boys love him very much. We had new replacement windows put in our house today. We've been waiting forever to do that and are really happy to finally have them in. Jackson on the other hand is inconsolable. Jackson is not good with change. Coming home from school to find strange men ripping the old windows out of his house was too much for him. We had already set his old window aside in case he missed it. He had stickers all over the glass panes. When he was one or two we remodeled the bathroom. He would lean over and try to talk to the old floor that was under the new one.
There have been a lot of emotional moments over the last few days regarding the murders in Blacksburg. Like when a lone voice yelled the cheer "LETS GO HOKIES!!!" following Nikki Giovanni's powerful closing to Tuesday's convocation. The entire crowd immediately joined him in a few more minutes of cheering in unison, creating an emotional moment for any Hokie to watch. Amy listened to NPR's replay of the candlelight vigil and heard a similar moment when students sang Amazing Grace on one side of the drill field as students on the far other side led the LETS GO HOKIES cheer. As with anyone with ties to Blacksburg, the town holds a very special spot in our heart and we are mourning what has been lost there.
Monday, April 16th, 2007. On Thursday we met Amy's good friend from college and ex-roommate Monica on the Virginia Tech campus so that we could meet her beautiful little girl Sophie. We had a wonderful lunch at Monica and Amy's old hangout, The Cellar. It reminded me a lot of another visit with Monica at The Cellar when Jackson was a baby. Following lunch we shopped on Main Street, then strolled across campus to the Drill Field. It was cold and windy, but we had a good time showing our nephew Jesse around campus. Amy brought a bottle of bubbles and we let the kids chase them all over the windy drill field. I think it's fun to look at this photo and think about Amy and Monica walking that same path as freshmen fifteen years ago, only carrying book bags instead of pushing strollers.
This would have been remembered simply as a nice visit to our old stomping grounds, were it not for today's tragic events at Virginia Tech. On that campus with us Thursday was a student who would four days later conduct the deadliest school shooting in US history. Emails and phone calls started coming in this morning about the tragedy unfolding in Blacksburg. As of this posting, 31 students have already died with many more injured. We have friends with family attending Tech now and have friends and family working there. We are deeply, deeply saddened by today's events. I hate to think about what those kids and their families are going through. I hate to think about how scary it would have been if this had unfolded four days earlier while we were there with our own children. Today has not been a good day. It's windy and cold, the power has been off and on all day in much of town, it was our first day back after ten days of vacation, and then the senseless violence at the place Amy and I both hold dear.
Friday, April 13th, 2007. This week we've been to Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Colonial Jamestown and Blacksburg, Virginia visiting lots of friends and family. It's been far to hectic to post. And it hasn't slowed down yet. More big things are planned for the weekend. Amy and I both took off from work since Jackson is on Spring Break from school. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with the website later. I've got tons of photos I need to post. Today's photo is from Old Town Petersburg. Believe it or not, Jackson, Ben and their cousin Jimmy weren't posing. They were just hanging out like that waiting for the others to come out of a coffee shop we had just been in.
We also received the very sad news this week that the mother of two of our good friends passed away, less than a month after discovering that she had cancer. Our thoughts are very much with them today.
Sunday, April 8th, 2007. Happy Easter!
Friday, April 6th, 2007. On Tuesday, Jackson was awarded Brown/Black Stripe belt status. I'm super proud of him for accomplishing that in two years of training. He's at the top of his game right now too. His sensei and other parents have commented lately on how far he's came. He's really excited about karate right now. He cheers for his friends in class, laughs a lot and is fighting stronger than ever. He's even practicing his katas without being forced to. And talk about being healthy and energetic! This morning, he started doing boxing style sit-ups where you punch at the top of each one, while still in bed! He can't sit still. So tonight I created a new page for his new rank and closed out his Ni Kyu page. It just seems like he's growing up so fast.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007. Notice anything strange about this photo from our Easter egg coloring session earlier this week? That is such a snapshot of life around here lately. Amy and I both remember climbing the door jams like that as a kid, so we let it slide.
Amy was visited today by our friend Brooke, which meant that Ben got to play with his buddy Landon and Landon's little sister Ella. I think they played very hard for most of the day and had a wonderful time. This evening we went to Fisher River Park to watch another Survivor challenge from Amy's gym. The weather is taking an abrupt turn for the worse though and right before the long Easter weekend. It was really windy this evening at the park, but we managed to fit a little playtime in before got too chilly.
Amy has a long history of getting me first on April Fool's Day, but this year Jackson and I had a plan that we kept secret for months. On Saturday night, after Amy went to bed, I used clear tape to hold the button down on the sink's sprayer. So the next morning, when Amy cut on the cold water tap, she was sprayed with water. A lot of water. Fortunately she was a good sport, even though she forgot about the tape and before she got a chance to remove it, she sprayed herself and the kitchen a second time. April Fool's Day is a huge holiday for Jackson. In the days leading up to the first day of April, he started keeping a list of pranks he wanted to pull. Some of our tricks were putting blue food coloring in the orange juice, which made it a really gross green (Ben wouldn't touch it, even though he was in on the gag). And putting a raisin in the end of the tooth paste tube. But Amy definitely got the last laugh. She had planned ahead too. She put vanilla ice cream on a plate and molded it in the shape of a giant baked potato. Amy then sprinkled cocoa powder on it, which made it look just like a baked potato skin. And she topped it off by scooping out the middle and filling it with whipped cream, which looked exactly like sour cream. After supper, when it was time for dessert, she brought it out and exclaimed "Oh, I forgot that I made baked potatoes for supper. I guess we'll all have to sit back down and eat it before we can have dessert." Jackson protested that he didn't like baked potatoes and that he didn't like sour cream, but we told him that he had to eat it before he could have any dessert. We couldn't get him to taste it and he came close to crying over it. Even after we told him that it was really ice cream, he still sulked. After a full day of pulling pranks, he wasn't the best sport when one was pulled on him. Ben on the other hand didn't care whether we tricked him or not, just so long as he got to eat the ice cream baked potato!
I think Amy enjoyed her birthday. She received lots of nice presents, phone calls and cards from friends and family. Last night we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Chili Verde, with our friends the Eads. While enjoying her margarita and company, Amy found herself wearing a giant sombrero as the staff sang her Happy Birthday. The waitress either pretended to put a whipped cream pie in her face, or just barely put it in her face. Jackson was standing next to her though and crammed it completely into her. And held it there. Amy thought the waitress was doing it and didn't want to seem impolite, so she didn't fight it. I was helping Ben with something and it took me waaay too long to figure out what was going on and to put a stop to it. Poor Amy's face was covered with whipped cream. And the worst part, or the only good part, depending on who you ask, I stopped by the house on the way to the restaurant to drop off my laptop and camera. I ALWAYS have a camera with me!
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007. Happy Birthday Amy!
Monday, April 2nd, 2007. On Friday Jackson said "Was I born on a Friday?" We told him that no, he was born on a Wednesday. He replied "Then today is the best Friday of my life!" He was out of school for a teacher's workday, so Amy and I took him to Nextel Cup qualifying and practice at Martinsville Speedway. He's been so excited about the races this year and Martinsville is the closest they'll be all year. We were afraid to take him to the full race because he hates loud noise. And there isn't anything louder on Earth than a NASCAR race on a short track. He adjusted to the noise surprisingly well though, after the initial shock of it, and didn't have any trouble keeping his ear plugs in. We did learn one thing however, it takes a hundred square feet to contain his energy. He literally ran laps around us for about an hour in the stands. He ran along the front stretch fence trying to outrun the cars. There is no way he could sit through an entire race if he had people sitting all around him and he didn't have room to wiggle and squirm around. On qualifying day he had plenty of free room to move around in, so it worked out perfectly. The lines were not long, so Jackson got to do lots of things outside the track, like ride in simulators, eat hotdogs, buy Tony Stewart gear and race radio controlled cars. For Jackson, the highlight was seeing a truck catch on fire right in front of him. He took the first photo of it. He also got a big kick out of Ryan Newman's spin-out during qualifying. And I think Jackson enjoyed having both Amy and I to himself. That doesn't happen very often these days. Ben spent the entire day with my dad. They fed cows, fixed a lawnmower, went to the store for candy, visited my grandmother and played with Ben's cousins. He had a grand time. Both boys were exhausted. Another fun thing at the track was running into my friend Anita. She's even a bigger race fan than Jackson.