Wednesday the 31st. Ben woke up sick today, I think he caught the stomach bug that Amy's family had over the weekend.  He had a miserable morning, but by lunch was bouncing around the house like it was his birthday.  At one point he actually stopped, threw his arms up into the air, and yelled "Happy Birthday!" Sort of reminded us of Frosty The Snowman.  Amy's mom was able to come home from the hospital this afternoon, but without an exact diagnosis.  She will return to MCV in three weeks for another test.  Amy's brother and sisters will stay with her until we can get there on Friday.  Sue then gets to hang out with us in Mount Airy until it's time to head back to Richmond for the test.  That will make both of our boys very happy, they were disappointed when we couldn't bring Sue back with us last weekend.

Amy and I always seem to have one show that we watch, usually that's all we can make time for.  It was Desperate Housewives, I don't know if I can even remember what is happening on that show anymore, what a long off-season.  Then we discovered House halfway through last season, which worked great because then the repeats were "new to us".  But right now it's RockStar:INXS.  What a cool show.  We are big Marty and Susan fans, although I think Mig is the only one that really fits the band and the one that will probably win.  We would totally go see Marty if he had his own gig.

Today is BlogDay, that means I'm supposed to share with you five varied sites from around the world that I read.  So here are five, non-local, personal websites that I enjoy. 

Tuesday the 30th. Grandma Sue's first test today didn't work because of a bad IV.  By the time the rescheduled test came around, the machine had broke.  Not bad for one of the biggest most advanced teaching hospitals around, huh.  So still no idea as to when Sue will get to come home.    Jackson had a good day back to school and came home with a kitty note (it means you had a purr-fect day).  He thought it was fun to cram into a bathroom with all the other students during this afternoon's tornado warnings.  He said he sat under a sink.  During Amy and Ben's errands on Main Street this morning, Ben made his regular visit to his favorite willow tree.  Apparently this is where he and Amy spend a lot of time during their walks.

Monday the 29th. We arrived back in Mayberry at midnight following a three hundred mile drive through Richmond to visit Grandma Sue.  Sue will have to stay in the hospital for a few more days while they run some more tests, so we had to return home without her.  We will return again this weekend and hopefully she can come back with us then.  Ben was so happy to see his Nana Sue.  We couldn't keep him out of her hospital bed.  We decided to go by the hospital on our way home so that the boys could say goodbye.  While we were eating supper at the hospital, they took Sue for a CAT scan.  We didn't want to leave her alone, waiting for transportation in the hall, so Amy waited with her mother until she was back in her room and settled in for the night.  Amy's brother arrived just as we were getting ready to leave at seven, so it worked out well.  As usual, the boys made the trip like seasoned truckers, and in a way, they are.

Tomorrow is Jackson's first "picture day" at school.  He also needs to get to the pool once more this week before it closes.  He is also cramming for a belt test at Mount Airy Martial Arts next week.

Sunday the 28th. I took the photo of Ben in the orange shirt so that he could see himself in the camera.  He was crying because Amy had walked Jackson into the school Friday morning.  The photo of the shirtless serious looking Ben was taken today.  I put him in the kiddie pool as soon as he woke up from his afternoon nap.  Our nephew Jesse spent the night with us last night. This morning he walked with us to the Appomattox at Fort Clifton.

Today, while in an Arby's drive thru, Jackson said "Hey Dad, did you know there are two kinds of chicken.  There's the kind that walks around on a farm and there's the kind that comes in little squares like chicken nuggets."  Hmmm, we'll straighten that out another day.

This morning they told us at MCV that Grandma Sue would be released this evening.  We decided to stay in town so that we could take her back home to Mount Airy tomorrow morning.  I am taking tomorrow off from work and Jackson will play hooky for the first time.  But at the end of the day, they didn't release her.  So now Amy will get up early in the morning and wait with Sue until they do release her and we'll take her home with us then.    

Saturday the 27th.  Amy has felt for weeks that her mom was getting sick.  But with Jackson starting kindergarten, this was our first chance to come for a visit.  Our plan this weekend had been to come up so that we could bring her back to Mount Airy with us until she started feeling better.  But she really doesn't feel well at all and has a lot of pain, so this afternoon Amy, along with her two sisters and brother, took Sue to MCV in Richmond.  Many of you may remember the time that Sue spent there and at Southside Regional in February and March.  Sue recovered well from that very scary time, but now finds herself in declining health again, this time with pneumonia.  Hopefully we will find the source of Sue's pain and her stay will be a short one that finds her on the path to recovery once more.  Amy came home to see the boys this evening, but has now driven back to Richmond to spend the night with her mom.  Luckily Amy found a spot, hopefully a legal one, near the hospital.  Richmond is scary at night, especially on a Saturday night.   You have to make a long walk through side streets in the middle of downtown to get from the parking deck to the hospital.  Not a comfortable walk to make at all in the dark. 

Today's photo was from Ben's nap this afternoon.  He would only go to sleep if he could hold Jesse's volleyball.  It then scared me to death later when I heard it hit the floor and bounce.

Friday the 26th. Tonight after Jackson's karate class we made the drive to Grandma Sue's in Colonial Heights.  We couldn't figure out why Ben wouldn't fall asleep and then it dawned on Amy.  It is his first long drive since he gave up the pacifier.  Those two hundred and fifty miles seem a little longer when BenBen isn't happy.  He finally drifted off around ten o'clock.

Thursday the 25th.  More walks around town this morning for Ben and Amy.  I met them at the Blue Bird Diner for lunch and then ice cream at The Good Life. 

Wednesday the 24th. Happy Birthday Grandma Sue!

It's finally getting cool enough to start taking strolls around Mayberry again.  Last night we took the puppies for a walk to Main Street and back.  Jackson went to daycare from 4 months to 20 months before Amy was able to start staying home during the day.  On our walk back we ran into one of the wonderful ladies from his baby room, Miss Meg.  She was thrilled to see how much Jackson had grown and Jackson seemed pretty excited to talk to someone that used to hold him everyday when he was a baby.  This morning Amy and Ben went for another walk to Main Street where Ben played in the grass behind the library.  They also got to spend part of their stroll with one of our favorite neighbors, Mrs. Blue, along the way.   Mrs. Blue, who is in her nineties, is really something special.  Today she gave Amy and Ben tomatoes she had grown, tomatoes which I made a great sandwich out of at lunchtime.  I can't believe I went all summer without making a tomato sandwich.  Yes, it's nice here in Mayberry when it isn't too hot to get out and about.  (And just to keep everyone up to date... Jackson had a great day.  He was waving out the window of the bus as it pulled up and came bouncing off with story after story about the things he did at school.)

Tuesday the 23rd. Ben thinks his older brother is the coolest kid on the planet because he knows how to play all the Sesame Street games online. 

Over the past five years our house has been dominated chiefly by Sesame Street, Toy Story, Rescue Heroes, super heroes and most recently, by bugs, lizards, snakes, and frogs.  Jackson was ball crazy when he was one, but that faded fast when he discovered action figures.  The train bug bit neither boy, even though we gave them plenty of opportunity to catch it.  I even built them a train table.  Jackson didn't go crazy over construction toys or cars either.  But lately we've found Ben playing with Jackson's Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars.  He gets them out of the case every morning and plays with them in the kitchen floor. 

Since Amy has been walking Jackson to school every morning and meeting him at the bus, I got to be the first to eat lunch with him in the school cafeteria.  He enjoyed showing me how the lunch line worked.  We had strawberry milk, pizza, and pineapple.  Jackson was in a good mood and told me about the projects he had worked on so far.  Plus he had made another new friend today and was very proud of that.

Monday the 22nd. I am very happy to report that Jackson had a good day at school  and bounced off the bus this afternoon.  He said he had an excellent morning (they had music time), lunch was so-so, then this afternoon was excellent thanks to his new friend.  We are very pleased to hear that Jackson has made his first new friend at school.  He also nailed his lower case letter recognition, even that pesky Times New Roman g, so he gets to move on to numbers 11-30.  This is our first five day week and so far it's off to a flying start...  read more  

Sunday the 21st.  We spent a hot August afternoon playing in the swimming hole above our cabin.  Great way to cool off, the kids love it.  Plus it's just not as hot in those shady hollows.  Emma went with us and enjoyed getting to run around the woods for a change.  We played for a very long time and were probably about ready to start the hike out when I heard the chh chh chh sound of something dropping through the leaves above my head.  Then thump, a snake, probably a common water snake, landed a few feet to my right at the edge of the waterfall.  For more photos and the rest of this story, click here.   


Saturday the 20th. Today I am posting a few photos from last night's paddle to Humphrey's Marina on Belews Lake.  You can read the entire trip report and see all of the photos by clicking  here.  Today we've played, played, and played.  Plus we hit the pool for a couple of hours.

Friday the 19th.  I got home after midnight following a paddle with a group from TPA.  I'll post more tomorrow, but for now it's time to sleep.

Thursday the 18th. First off I need to congratulate my cousin Mark and his wife Sue from Charlotte.  They had their first child last night, a beautiful baby girl named Autumn Ray Heath.  She weighed 7lbs and 4ozs and was 19 1/2 inches long.  And click here if you want to read about Jackson's 2nd day at school 

Wednesday the 17th. Jackson says that he does not like school.  But after listening to him talk about his day, it doesn't sound like it was all bad.  It's just a longer day than he is used to.  It's so hard for Amy and I to not be able to check up on him or talk to his teacher to see how he is doing.  I even drove around the block when we saw the kindergarteners go out for recess... read more.   

Tuesday the 16th. Jackson did great this morning.  He woke up and said "Is it the first day of school?"  He was very excited.  He ate his breakfast as fast as he could.  He got dressed and then walked around the house with his backpack on.  His cousin called to wish him well and Jackson told him that "well, I'm nervous, but sort of excited nervous.  I'm nervous about things I might not know how to do or that I won't like, but I know they will do fun stuff too, so I'm excited."  We walked to the school early and Jackson started running when we got close.   We walked him to his room and broke the rules by going into the classroom with him.  He found his seat, kissed us on the cheek, and that was it.  Benjamin yelled "Bye Bye Baby" as we walked out the hall.  It's a very tough day for Mommy, but I'm sure BenBen will keep her distracted and laughing along with the tears.

Monday the 15th. Happy Birthday Papa!  It took a few days, but I now have my photos from Saturday's birthday party.  Tonight was open house at Jackson's elementary school.  We met his teacher and were very pleased that we already knew her from her summertime job at The Good Life.  Tomorrow morning is Jackson's first day of school.  So we will be on a whole new schedule once we wake up.  And that means waking up very bright and early too.    I'm taking the afternoon off because I don't won't to miss Jackson getting off the bus for the first time and because we are going swimming as soon as he gets home.  For those of you that are questioning why Jackson would be riding a bus on his first day of school, we live right next to the school.  So it will be the shortest bus ride in history.  Jackson really wants to be a bus rider and it will let Ben keep his afternoon nap schedule, so it works out all the way around.  Jackson gets to ride the bus but will not be on it long enough to have any of the typical bus issues.  Heck, he won't be on it long enough for the bus to get out of first gear.  We have his backpack packed, his lunch picked out, and his clothes laid out.  So wish us luck, it will be a tough day for mom and dad. more photos


Sunday the 14th. Thanks to Grandma Sue's pool pass gift, our boys have become complete pool rats this summer.  Jackson can swim under water and swim on top pretty well too.  He only puts a life jacket on for the big diving board and for the rope swing.  I can't believe that he's doing the rope swing, the little guy can't even reach the rope.  We have to pick him up and hand it to him, but boy does he love it.  Matthew cranked out his first front flips today and Jackson did his first dive off the diving board.  Ben's thing is the water slide.  He says "water slide! Again!".  He then yells "Rock And Roll!" on his way down.  We spent three and a half hours at the pool today.  How do they do that all the time?  I came out of there water-logged and exhausted.  Although I have to admit that I have a lot of fun now that Jackson is old enough for the big kid stuff.  I could go off the rope swing all day long.

Saturday the 13th. While Ben's hair isn't getting cut anytime soon, Jackson did need a little trim before his first day of school.  (three days and counting...) Tonight we go to a cookout celebrating my dad's birthday.  While shopping for my dad's present, Jackson found two whoopie cushions.  I have never seen a buck forty seven bring two boys so much joy.  They are on a flatulant high.  Ben has learned to say "ooh, I pooted."  Jackson was playing with his in the store behind a girl and two boys.  He sat on the cushion, the girl immediately spun around and looked at the two boys who pointed at each other.  That killed Jackson, he will be on full time prank poot patrol for the rest of the weekend

Friday the 12th. Happy Birthday Matthew!  So since this IS Mayberry, you know that we would live right next door to Jackson's soon-to-be elementary school right?   The count down is only four more days.   The boys and I walked over to the playground yesterday to help break in the new climbing wall and to jump into the new fluffy piles of wood shavings.

As for today's photo of Ben, I know what you are thinking.  What's up with the hair and the bandanas?  Well, the hair, we love it and don't want to cut it.  We absolutely love it just the way it is.  I think he is so cute with his big brown eyes and curly blond hair.  But then again I'm a long haired motorcycle riding, guitar playing hippie, so of course I don't have a problem with long hair.  And Amy, read more... 


Thursday the 11th. Sometimes Amy's desserts manage to look as good as they taste, no small feat.  Today's photo is a peanut butter pie she made earlier in the week.  It looked so nice I had to take a picture of it before I dug in.  And speaking of pictures, Jackson asked one day last week how many pictures we've taken of him.  Well, that is hard to say, but we do take a lot of photographs.  I mean a whole lot of pictures.  Some kid's dad once asked me on the playground when the photos would be in the paper.  I had to explain to him that I was actually just taking photos of my kids playing. read more...

Wednesday the 10th. If Ben or Jackson notice that Amy and I are about to hug, kiss, or just sit close to each other on the couch, they immediately run over and squeeze in between us.  If Ben sees Amy kissing me, he will turn her face toward him and say "kiss" and stick his cheek out.   If Jackson sees Amy and I hugging he runs over, squeezes in between us and says "Hey, let me in on some of this love!"  Ben usually follows right behind and we end up holding both boys up in the middle.  If I walk through the kitchen and stop to hug Amy, I can start counting..1...2...3...4...yep, there comes a kid.  Does this happen to anyone else out there with little kids? Just wondering...

Tuesday the 9th. Our friend Hilary, her children Walter Scott and Virginia, and their little dog Bo, all left Mayberry this morning and we miss them.  Virginia and Jackson played together fabulously and never fought.  Bo couldn't have been any cuter and Walter Scott is getting so grown up.  Yesterday another of Amy and Hilary's friends drove down from Galax with her little boy Evan for a visit.  Evan was beautiful, I don't know if his cheeks are really that rosie or if Amy and Hilary had spent the morning pinching them.

The PecksRex exhibit is at Sci-Works and Jackson very much wanted to go see it, so he, Ben, and Amy spent the afternoon looking at dinosaur bones and playing.  This morning my nephew Caleb came over to play with his cousins.

Our Hero (2.5MB) - I put a few short clips together from Jackson's martial arts class, I think it's pretty cute...

Monday the 8th. Big shout out to the Davis family for hosting the dinner club this month.  Everyone made it to dinner, plus we brought our friend Virginia to play with the other kids.  The enchiladas were the bomb and I ate at least a quarter of Brooke's apple enchilada dessert.  One day I'll let you in on what had everyone smiling as they drove away and saying "WOW!!", then repeating that several times before getting home.  Click here for more photos

Sunday the 7th. The photo on the left is of Jackson and Virginia, it's one of the sweetest photos I've ever taken.  We made a t-shirt out of it.  You can see all our Virginia and Jackson photos on their page.  Virginia is Amy's good friend Hilary's daughter and is only three days younger than Jackson.   Virginia was born in California and we were very happy when they moved back East.  This morning we took the kids to our Mayberry playground.  Tonight we go to Winston-Salem for the monthly dinner club.  The theme is Mexican and I'm really looking forward to it.


Saturday the 6th. Tonight is school shopping.  Next year it's back to school shopping, this year, just school shopping.  Jackson is very excited about picking out his gear and his first day outfit.  Friends are watching Ben for us so that it will all be about Jack tonight.  We are going to let him pick out where we eat dinner too.  And then later tonight one of Amy's good friends from Richmond is coming to visit for the weekend.  Should be a fun night.  One photo on the right is from Jackson's first day of preschool two years ago and one he asked us to take of him tonight while we were shopping. ;

Friday the 5th. I took today's photo at our local drive-in theater. 

You may recall that our baby is now without his paci (or sans pooh as Ben would say).  Just in case you are wondering how that worked out for us, I'll give an update.  It has been up and down, but mostly successful.  read more if you are curious...  

Thursday the 4th. My sister stopped by the house this morning with baby Seth.  Amy said that he looked so much happier than he did the last time we saw him (we think he looks like his uncle Delane).  She even got to give him a bottle, that's probably the first bottle Amy's been able to give a baby since Jackson (Ben only had one and I gave that one to him).  Seth's big brother Caleb spent the day in Mayberry playing with our boys.  We took my grandmother this photo last night and brought home an extra supply of cucumbers because Ben kept picking them while yelling "Pickles!!".  read more...

Wednesday the 3rd Amy took the first photo yesterday when she went in to check on Ben during naptime.  When she went in to check on him today, she found him in the exact same position (second photo).  Apparently the Sesame Street Library's plot isn't holding his attention very well.  Either that or it's so good he can't put it down.

I've been wanting to post about our pumpkin vine for weeks.  Back in July,  at the corner of our driveway and our street, where the run-off water runs out from underneath our driveway, we had a vine appear overnight that was exploding with huge orange blossoms.  Being an ex-farm boy and all, I knew right away that we had ourselves a rogue pumpkin vine.  Last year we had two sets of pumpkins, one set we picked out ourselves in a pumpkin patch off the Blue Ridge Parkway in September.  That turned out to be a little pre-mature, because ... read more.  

Tuesday the 2nd. The fun bunch at Camp Mayberry started their morning with a short walk that included a cruise by daddy's office for a quick hello.  From there they went across town for some mid-morning bowling.  Lunch was spent fishing for goldfish using pretzel sticks dipped in peanut butter.  That was followed by kiddie pool and water hose fun in the front yard.  Then our neighbor Jacob joined us for dinner and our friend Sam came over for a sleepover.  We put the tent in the front yard and played until dark.  A fantastic day with one bump.  To help Jackson fix a water toy I swung my acoustic guitar around to my back.  The strap came off and my guitar bounced three times on the driveway giving it a nasty set of scars.  Being a parent can definitely change your priorities because it only took about five minutes of alone time for me to get over it.  I didn't explode or cry or yell or spontaneously combust or anything, come to think of it, I didn't even cuss, wow.  I am pretty proud of myself.

We stopped by my grandmother's house in Virginia before the River Race Saturday morning and found her out in the garden checking on her pepper plants.  Amy used the 10X to get some nice shots of Hama doing something she really loves to do, garden.  I like photos like these much more than the posed ones.   Now if we can just sneak a photo of her making those chicken and dumplings...  

Monday the 1st. Amy had waited to get Jackson his very own library card until he was old enough for it to mean something to him.  And today was the day.  After the walk back home, he called me at my office to tell me all about it.  He was very proud of it.  And why not, his very own library card, that's a big deal, it's another milestone.  He told me that you could only get two books on the first day you get your card, but the next time he comes back he can get all the books he wants.  Since he enjoyed Charlotte's Web so much, he checked out another EB White classic, The Trumpet Of The Swan, for himself and a Sesame Street book for Ben.  Ben has turned into quite a bookworm himself.   read more to discover what milestone Ben hit.