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Tuesday, August 28, 2007. We're back from the beach and Jackson is back in school.  For his first day of 2nd grade he picked out his black polo shirt, black shorts, skater shoes and sprayed himself 5 times with his new cologne.

Below are more photos from our beach trip.  The sandy cheeks in this photo crack me up, no pun intended.

 

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007. Full day.  Very full day.  Beach, kayak surfing, ice cream, bowling, lazy rivers and pools.  Photos here and here.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007.  Today's photos are from last weekend's trip to the lake at Fairystone State Park.  Tonight we arrived at the coast for an impromptu last-minute-right-before-school-starts vacation.   We hit the waves and at least seven pools before calling it a day.   

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007.  Jackson's Aunt Deana took him to Hanes Mall for back to school shopping yesterday.  Jackson came home on cloud nine with stacks and stacks of new clothes, shoes, cologne, a backpack and a skateboard.  His taste in clothes mostly falls in the black, skulls, flames, skater-boy motif,  but he also brought home a couple of nice button up shirts.  He put one of those on and while admiring himself in the mirror said "When is the next time we'll be somewhere fancy?"  I said "well, we could go out to eat somewhere, like maybe Goobers."  Jackson looked at me and said "Goobers isn't fancy, I mean a FANCY restaurant."  At which point Ben yells from his drum-kit in the bedroom "CHUCK-E-CHEESE!!!!!!

While Jackson was shopping, Amy and Ben went to the pool.  Ben told me it was a backwards day, because Mommy did whatever he said.  Like he was the boss.  That was his way of describing a "Yes" day.  Jackson got his Yes day at the pool on Sunday when just he and I went swimming together.  He's wanted me to go to Homeplace all summer so that I could see the new things he can do this year, like reach the rope swing all by himself. 

On Saturday the entire family went to Fairystone State Park and had a wonderful time.  It was the first time I had been to the Fairystone beach since I was Jackson's size.  Later that night, the boys stayed with friends while Amy and I went on a dinner date at Goober's.  I guess Jackson wouldn't think that was a very fancy date.

Thursday, August 16th, 2007.  Today's photo is of our little wall climber.  As you can see, he's pretty good at it. 

Last Saturday, I met friends at the United States National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC.  This was the biggest water I've paddled to date.  I'm talking really big.  Butt kicking big.  But lots of fun too.  For those that don't know, the whitewater center is a man made facility designed for recreation and Olympic training.  When you get to the bottom, you paddle onto an escalator that takes you right back to the top.   If you want to download a 13MB video, you can watch my paddling pals and I show our funky side.  It's pretty funny.  Photos are here.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007.  Jackson did well at the soccer screening.  It's amazing how much he has grown over the past year and how much harder he can kick the ball.  Last year he was one of the little first year kids that didn't really know what to do.  This year he was one of the big boys.  The sign-up date snuck up on us and we were caught without cleats again.  It seems like that happens every year.  Amy checked our hand-me down stash and we didn't have any the right size.  Ben was sick yesterday, so she couldn't take Jackson shopping and I was out of town for work.  My sister Deana stepped in and took Jackson to the sporting goods store in the mall.  We really appreciated it, especially since Jackson didn't behave the best and hid from her in the store. 

We celebrated my dad's 63rd birthday tonight at my sister's house in Stuart, so I got to try out my new kayak in their pond.  I love it.  Love it.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007.  My interest in motorcycles dates back to the early 70s with Captain America, Evil Knievel, the Fonz and CHIPS.  Kids look at a motorcycle and they see a toy, something that's fun to ride.  I think that's why they flock to the edge of the playground and wave frantically when you pass by an elementary school during recess.   Of course, I've seen kids do the same thing when the men come by holding onto the back of a garbage truck because that looks like fun too.

Fall has always been my favorite time to ride, when the air cools and the leaves fall onto the back roads, curling up behind you as you slice through.  It's a hard thing to describe if you don't ride.  I imagine it's a lot like sailing, or flying, or lots of other things for other people.  We live in a perfect place for riding.  Within minutes of leaving town you can wind your way through apple orchards, climb the foothills and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Riding a motorcycle can also turn an everyday errand or commute into something fun. 

After twelve years, I decided to let my old motorcycle go.  I bought it in August 1995 and immediately fell in love with riding it.   I plan on riding again, but not until a little later in life.  I ride with caution, but luck plays an equal role.  That first big accident could always be right around the next curve.  I no longer feel comfortable taking that risk and haven't rode any this year.  Maybe Amy and I will find ourselves cruising along the parkway on a big bike when the boys are much older.  But we'll put that off for a while.  You'd think I would be sad about this, but selling the bike also means I've got a shiny new red Jackson Fun kayak coming in the mail.  Woo hoo!

Monday, August 13th, 2007.   Today's photos are from what could be called Camp Nicole.  Our niece Nicole's visit is over and she is back home in Virginia, but we had fun every day that she was here.    Four days were spent swimming.  On Sunday, after going to the movies to see Nancy Drew, Nicole had her very own photo shoot at my sister's house.  Deana took tons of great photos and I think Nicole would have stayed with her, given the chance.  On Tuesday, I had the day off, so we spent part of the day at Build-A-Bear and also stopped by the Winston-Salem Children's museum.  Our last visit to Build-A-Bear was in January 2005.  Jackson decided that was how he wanted to spend his lemonade stand money.  But he then went online to compare prices and find the cheapest bear and outfit.  He walked out of the store happy to know that his wallet still had money in it.   I think all the kids were starting to wear down a little by the time the week was over.  But we'll definitely miss Nicole.  She was a charming guest and wonderful to have around.  Amy and the boys took her home on Thursday, then stayed in Colonial Heights, visiting until Saturday. 

Build A BearI can't believe Summer is already coming to an end.  Jackson received his 2nd grade teacher assignment in the mail on Saturday.  One of his friends from last year called and they have the same teacher, so that's exciting for him.   Amy signed the boys up for Fall soccer this morning.  Screening for Jackson's league starts tomorrow.  Ben is happy about finally getting to play too.   We just have to see if we can find cleats that little.  Let the juggling of practice schedules commence.

Friday, August 3rd, 2007. Ahhh, Summer.  Got to love it.

Last night I drove to South Boston after work to meet my brother-in-law Alan and nephew Jimmy so that I could pick up our niece Nicole.  Nicole will be visiting us for the next week.  It's her first time staying with us all by herself and we are all very excited.  Jackson and Nicole are super close and he'll have lots of fun having a buddy around this week. 

Today they joined family and friends at Fairystone State Park.  It will be their first visit there.  Fairystone is where I went swimming during my summers as a kid.  My mom and our neighbor Debbie would take myself, my sisters and Debbie's sons Neil and Chad about once a week to the lake at Fairystone.  I remember everyone riding together on a mattress under a camper-shell on the back of a pickup truck for the forty-five minute drive to Fairystone, breathing in car exhaust and singing the Witchdoctor song while playing cards.   When the pool opened at Dehart Park in Stuart, we were very excited because it cut the drive in half.   Dehart Park was our regular summer past time for my tween  and early teen years.  Then our next door neighbors Burton and Jenny built a pool.  Wow, you can imagine how much nicer it was to be able to walk to a pool after all those years of driving halfway across the county.   Jenny still asks us if we want to come by for a swim and twice this summer we've done just that.  Today's photos are from those visits.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007.  After years of waiting, our little entrepreneur finally got to setup a lemonade stand.  Jackson has always wanted to do this, but we live on a really quiet street with almost no traffic.  With the Kibler Valley River Run approaching, Amy had the idea of letting Jackson setup up a stand there.  He put his stand next to the road in front of our brother-in-law Martin's river house, but also advertised at the river that he would "deliver right to your boat."  I advertised for him ahead of time on my paddling message board and between the boaters and spectators passing by, he was wildly successful.  I think it kept him and Amy both busy for most of the day. 

Personally, I had an awesome day paddling and socializing with friends.  If you want to read more about the day or see more paddling photos, click here.  If you want to watch a 10MB 4 minute movie of myself and my paddling friends having fun on the river, click here.