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Monday, December 31st, 2007.


I narrowed my list of favorite photographs down to fifty this year.  You can click here to check them out.  I could only trim it down to sixty last year and eighty-seven the year before that, so we're either taking less photos, posting less of them or just not taking as good of photographs.  Or maybe it's a combination of all three.

Sunday, December 30th, 2007.   I love this photo Amy took of Jackson flying his remote controlled helicopter in the kitchen.  He's proclaimed the Havoc Heli his favorite Christmas present.  I don't think the boys have yet to open all their presents and the rain has kept them from getting to enjoy the outside toys.  Jackson and I finished constructing a model rocket this morning, then got everything together that we needed to launch it and headed for the door, only to find it raining.  So we decided to put that off for another day.  Jackson has seen three movies over the last four days, the latest of which was The Water Horse at his friend Grant's birthday party this afternoon.  He's also seen Alvin and the Chipmunks and the latest National Treasure movie.  He's liked them all, but says Alvin was the best.

Wednesday, December 27th, 2007.  Our family had a wonderful Christmas this year.  You can see all of the photos I've posted on our Christmas Page by clicking here.  There were fifty-six family members at my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve celebrating the holidays.  The house was packed, the food great and the evening was a lot of fun.  We were exhausted by the time we made it home.  Jackson again read The Night Before Christmas to us, but Ben wasn't able to stay awake.  We were so tired that no one, even Jackson woke up until after seven the next morning.  I happened to wake up just before Jackson and went downstairs to go through our daily circus routine of feeding the dogs and cats, letting them out and then back in.  I carried the video camera with me in case Jackson woke up and was able to video the boy's Christmas morning reaction, which was a rare treat.  Jackson woke, saw the trail of candy canes and yelled "SANTA'S BEEN HERE!!!!"  Ben absolutely tore out of our bed upstairs, banged his way downstairs and was the first to find the presents.  Ben had awakened sometime during the night, after Santa's visit, but didn't notice on his way up to our bedroom.  Jackson as usual was very excited by the soot on the fireplace, the half eaten cookies, candy and pickle on the hearth and the mostly eaten carrots on the front sidewalk.  (The carrots are for the reindeer)

For Jackson, this was the year of the remote control vehicles, slot track and Webkinz.  Even though all his presents were already sitting together, he moved each one to a new stack in the dining room as he opened them.  He's moved the stack at least once, but still has all his presents together.  Ben's primary focus was on Webkinz, light sabers, super hero and Star Wars action figures and his Power Ranger's helmet.  They both got tons of presents and are at an age now where they got a lot of the same toys.  When Jackson unwrapped one of Santa's gifts he immediately looked at me and said "You can't take it away, you can't take it away.  Santa gave it to me, so you can't take it away!"  I have a zero tolerance gun policy at our house.  The boys have had no toy guns, not even water pistols.  None, ever.  It's just something I don't believe in.  Well, Santa must have thought that Nerf guns wouldn't hurt anything because he brought one for each boy.  He seems to give Jackson something every year that I've said he wasn't old enough to get, which is one of the reasons why Jackson loves him so much. 

We celebrated at my parent's house Christmas afternoon and following another wonderful meal, had a lot of fun exchanging gifts and playing guitar hero and Rockstar.  Jackson came home with his own new Guitar Hero game and we've all spent our fair share of time playing that today.  Deana gave Ben a Smart Cycle that he loves and has rode and rode and rode.  He looks like Richard Simmons pedaling away in front of the television.  It was too wet today to get outside and play with Jackson's RC cars or basketball, but we've enjoyed playing with all the inside toys.  Outside of Amy having to run to the store for batteries, all we've done today is stay inside and play.  The slot car racetrack has been a big hit.  Ben is very happy about having Star Wars Legos 1 again.  Jackson and I had fun flying his Havoc Heli right before bed.  Tomorrow I go back to work, the boys go to the movies with their Aunt Deana and Amy gets to start finding places to put all the boy's new toys.


Sunday, December 23rd, 2007.
"Jingle Bells, Jackson Smells
Mommy lays an egg
Daddy lost a piece of his butt
and BenBen found a waaaay"

That's been Ben's anthem for the past week.  We just got back from a Christmas visit to Colonial Heights.  We stayed with Amy's brother's family and as usual had a fantastic visit.  Both boys adore their cousins Jimmy and Nicole and enjoyed their time with them.  Alan and Charla cooked a wonderful holiday dinner on Saturday night and we were joined by Amy's sister Sherry and her family.  After eating dinner and exchanging presents, we rushed off to Toys R Us so the boys could spend their Christmas money before it burned an immediate hole in their pocket.  Let me explain the way Ben looks at money... He had twenty-five dollars to spend.  Once in the store he said he wanted a ball.  I took him to the sports aisle, but he then said "No, I mean a bouncy ball."  So I took him where the bouncy balls were and he picked out a four dollar ball with super heroes on it.  He was happy and done.  I told him that he had more money to spend, but he said "no, the ball will take all my money."  So I walked to a price checker and showed him that the ball only cost four dollars, which meant he had twenty more dollars to spend.  Not much later, he saw a display for a giant blow up jumping gym that goes in your yard and probably costs over a thousand dollars.  He points to it and says "How much does that cost?"  So there you go, a four dollar bouncy ball and a thousand dollar jungle gym, in Ben's mind, both probably cost about twenty five dollars.  I guess the bouncy ball gives him twenty five dollars worth of fun. 

We also took Zorro with us on this trip because the cold bothers his hips and makes it difficult for him to stand up if he sleeps out side.  We slipped him some Dramamine and he traveled like a champ.  We're now home sweet home and ready for the rest of the holidays.   If I don't post again before Christmas, Happy Holidays everyone.

Wednesday, December 19th.  Yesterday was Jackson's school party, Jackson's visit to the dentist and Ben's open house at pre-school.  The former and later went great, the trip to the dentist did not.  Jackson has been banned from his PS2 until he writes a letter apologizing to the dental hygienist, who is just the nicest person in the world.  Today Amy took both boys to see Santa at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem.  Ben told me on the phone that Santa knows all about Star Wars toys.  He was worried about the visit before hand, but did great when it was time to actually talk to the big guy.  Once home, Ben had just enough time to change into his gi and head off to karate class.

Monday, December 17th, 2007.  Back before the stomach bug, when we were in full holiday mode, Amy took the boys to the Andy Griffith Playhouse to make ginger bread houses.  They did a great job.  Jackson's house was apparently built strong enough to withstand the loss of most its icing, because he's picked and picked at it until there is almost none left. 

Jackson recovered from his illness just in time to play in Saturday's basketball game.  His team won again, which means that if they win this weekend, a game Jackson will have to miss, he'll go all of 2007 without loosing a single game in soccer or basketball.  His understanding of the game has improved markedly over the past few weeks and his defense is getting really good.  In almost every game, he has friends on the opposing team and has said that he wished one of his friends was on his team.  I asked him that if he had the choice, would he rather be on a team with his friends,  even if it meant they lost a few games, or would he rather be on his team, and never loose.  He said he'd rather be on the team that doesn't loose.

Sunday, December16th, 2007.  Today's photo is from the Smith River Valley Canoe Club's Christmas dinner on Friday night at Third Bay Cafe in Martinsville, Virginia.  A few short hours after that photo was taken, the stomach bug that Amy had so far been able to avoid, finally caught up to her.  Just as I may not eat Salmon for a long time to come, Amy may never again eat prime rib.  So everyone in our family has now spent their fair share of time feeling miserable over the last nine days.  Amy's been terribly sick ever since Friday night and has yet to fully turn the corner.  If we wanted to look for silver linings, it would be that Amy and I both fell ill going into weekends, giving us plenty of time to recover outside of the work week.  And that we were sick this week instead of over Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007.  We really thought Jackson was feeling better last night, but he again threw up not long after waking this morning.   He was still sick this evening with the same symtoms.  The poor guy has felt miserable.  As bad as Ben and I felt, I think he has it even worse.   His "student of the month" field trip is scheduled for tomorrow, but it's not looking like he'll make it.   To help distract him, Amy let Jackson watch the 2nd Harry Potter movie today.  The plan was for him to wait until they finished reading the book, but Amy settled for a pinky swear that they would finish the book before moving on to the third movie.  He enjoyed the movie and so did I when we watched it for a second time before bed.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007.  Ben woke up at 6:30 Monday morning, in our bed, and started throwing up.  It got on his blankie, stuffed doggie and on his hands.  He was sitting up, holding out his hands, looking at everything and said, in a shaky, weak voice "Oh man, I'm having a bad day."  He was right, it was a bad day.  One that sent his stuffed doggie and blanket into the washing machine more than once.  Ben stayed in our bed most of the day, keeping Amy close at hand.  We gave him a bell to ring when he needed something and he definitely appreciated that part of being sick.  Jackson spent the last few days shooting ball in the driveway every chance he got, even after dark.  But today it was his turn to have a bad day.  He woke up at 4am throwing up.  He was working hard to get perfect attendance this year and was disappointed that he had to miss school.  Ben and I are feeling better, Jackson may be on his way as well, and we've all got our fingers crossed that Amy doesn't get sick next.

Saturday, December 8th, 2007.  Thursday night, at Jackson's basketball practice, I started to feel a little sick.  I wasn't sure if I was getting sick or not, but I felt funny enough to only eat jello for lunch Friday, just as a precaution.  But later that night, while being treated to a nice Christmas dinner at Shelton's Vineyard by Amy's boss, I just couldn't resist ordering the sweet potato stuffed Salmon.  And then it was so good, I couldn't resist eating all of it, even though I had this voice in my head the entire time saying "Just eat the bread! Just eat the bread you idiot!".  I cursed that poor decision many, many, many, many times over a twelve hour period that started not long after we got home.  I spent the entire day in bed moaning and groaning and whining while Amy took care of the boys, washed the van, took Jackson to his basketball game and went Christmas shopping, with the kids of course.  Now they are all asleep and I'm awake thanks to being up all last night and sleeping all afternoon.  Plus my stomach still feels pretty weird.  Jackson's team won again by the way, so after not loosing in soccer all year, he's again starting off with a perfect record.  I think he enjoyed the game and got to play three quarters this time.  Amy said the referee warned him a couple of times though about being too aggressive on defense.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007.   While visiting my grandmother over the weekend, I taught Jackson and Ben the secret to talking to cows.  They were just as amazed as I was at their age when all the cows walked over to chat.  Jackson said "I feel like Doctor Doolittle!"  If you don't know the secret I'll tell you.  You say "moooooooo."

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007. Man is Jackson laying it on thick for Santa Claus.  I knew something was up Sunday night when he suggested that we go to bed early and watch a Christmas movie together.  Then this morning when he woke me up at 6:30, he was already dressed for school and had breakfast ready for both of us.  He brushed his teeth on his own, combed his hair and even, and this is a miracle, he put his socks and shoes on without us asking him to a single time.  He finally confessed that he knows Santa is watching extra close this time of year. 

Sunday was a big day full of Christmas cheer.  We started by visiting my grandmother and helping her decorate her tree.  On our way from there to my mom's house we made a detour to get this year's mistletoe.  Given the choice of either going to the parade in town or decorating Mo's tree, the boys chose decorating the tree.  Those plans were almost derailed when we found problems with my mom's artificial tree, but things quickly shifted gears and a real tree was purchased from someone just down the road that happened to have a whole trailer full of big full Frasier Firs.  When Mo opened her box of ornaments Ben exclaimed "Oooh, they're goldy!"   Jackson truly does enjoy decorating for Christmas and took great care on all three of the trees he worked on this year.  The beauty of all the photos pretty Christmas photos I post is that you can't see the fits Ben might have thrown right before or after they were taken.  On the way to Claudville Sunday he threw a big one because he picked the wrong character on his Sonic Gameboy game and wouldn't let anyone fix it for him because sometimes he just prefers to be mad.  And when he wouldn't stop hitting the Gameboy, which is actually Jackson's, I reached back and took it away from him.  Which is when he decided to retaliate by kicking my seat, over and over and over.  And when he refused to stop doing that I finally lost my cool and slid the van to a stop on the side of the road so that I could jump out, sling open his door and give the big "Dad voice" speech.  Although I don't think I included any of the classics like "I'll turn this van around mister!" I did include some of my own, like "If you kick my seat one more time, just one more time, the first thing I do when I get home is start throwing your toys away!"  He didn't say another word all the way to my grandmother's house, but boy did he keep one mad little look on his face the whole time.  All in all, it was a great day that ended with Amy, Jackson and I watching Twice Upon A Christmas together in Jackson's bed.  Ben had fallen asleep on the way home and didn't wake until much later while Amy was watching Brothers and Sisters and I was watching the Steelers play a Sunday night game.  So in the very end, it was Amy, Ben and I all falling asleep in our bed with the football game on in the background.  One of the last things Ben said before falling back to sleep was "did we eat supper?" 

Jackson had his first basketball game on Saturday.  The summary there is that his team won in overtime, he didn't get a chance to touch the ball and the stands were full of crazy people.  One even yelled "Get the whiner off the court!" when a 6-7 year old fell hard and started to cry.  Yep, those parents were real winners, first class all the way. 

Amy had a nice morning with everyone from her old office visiting the house for brunch.  Tonight the boys go to the movies with their Aunt Dee and cousin Izzy to see Enchanted.  You can see more of our tree decorating photos here.