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Tuesday, December 29th, 2009.  Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas were all spent with family.  Christmas Eve was spent at my grandmother's house.  It was a big crowd with lots and lots of kids running around, just as it should be.  We ate lunch and exchanged presents on Christmas Day at my sister Deana's house.  After lunch the family watched her 2009 family video montage, played games and opened tons of presents.  Saturday started with the drive to Colonial Heights and ended with dinner and presents at Amy's brother Alan's house.   We also had an epic Nerf battle, a handful of Madden 10 games and broke in the new scooters out on the street in the dark.  (More photos here).

Monday, December 28th, 2009.  It's always hard to get the Christmas photos posted because the schedule is just so busy.  Today's photos are all from Christmas morning.  Jackson woke at 3AM and discovered that Santa had already visited the house.  He woke Ben, then ran upstairs to wake Amy and I.  Ben ran upstairs a few minutes later, shaking with excitement, rattling off all the gifts that he saw in the living room.  The first thing that both boys wanted to do was to give the gifts that we got each other.  From there they moved to Santa's presents.  They opened presents and opened presents and played, then went back to bed around 5:30.  The only present remaining when we woke later that morning was the surprise trip to Disney World that Amy and I gave the boys.  It was a fun and memorable Christmas morning that we should remember for a very long time.  (The entire gallery of Christmas photos can be found here)

Ben listening to his MP3 player

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009. Still plenty of snow, but by Monday morning, I think we had all of the play out of our system.  The boys haven't ventured out of the house for the past two days.  On Sunday, we went to Claudville so that the boys could sled with their cousins.  Jackson, Izzy and her friend Shanai took turns on the skis.  Caleb rode his snowboard and Ben threw snowballs.  My dad even took a few turns going down the hill on a tube.  In the end though, my nephew had a nasty injury when his sled hit another one that popped up and cut through his upper lip, requiring a trip to the emergency room.  This week has been full of busy holiday preparations that take up almost every free minute.  But with only three days till Christmas, it is no time to slack off!

Saturday, December 19th, 2009.  Eight Inches Of Snow!!!  Over the last two days we have spent countless hours outside sledding, sking, building snowmen and forts, having snowball fights, making snow angels and exploring.  We've sat by the fire, ate cookies straight from the oven, grilled, watched Christmas movies and played games.  What an amazing weekend.  Many, many more photos here.

 

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 The Santa Song (3MBs)  - aka "Are you putting that on Facebook?" 

From time to time, Amy will sneak up behind the boys and I while we are being goofy to document the scene.  She did this on Saturday while Ben played drums on the table/chandelier, I improvised lyrics to a song about Santa and Jackson ignored us by chatting on Facebook with his friends.  In spite of the goofiness, I'm posting it for two reasons.  One is Ben's tag line when he sees that Amy has the camera on and the other is because, if the forecasts are correct, we might actually get the snow we were singing about.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009.  Jackson was VERY excited to participate in a 2nd parade this year.  And Ben enjoyed diving in front of floats to pick up candy for the 2nd time this year.  Amy and Ben joined many of my family at the top of Main Street in Stuart Virginia to watch last Sunday's Christmas Parade.  Jackson sandwiched his ride in the parade with a 5K run in the morning and a game of basketball with his cousins that night.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009.  The big news in our house is that Jackson has a girlfriend.  Yep, he's changed his Facebook status from single to "in a relationship"

Monday, December 14th, 2009.  We are just too busy to keep up with things here on Life In Mayberry.  Here is a quick run down of recent happenings...

Amy won an award for the Most Outstanding New Member in her Junior Women's Club. 
The next morning, in 17F/-8C temps, Amy and Jackson ran in the Rosey Cheeks 5K.  Jackson beat his last 5K time by almost a minute, finishing in 29 minutes and change.
Ben went for his annual checkup, where he learned how much bigger and taller he is.  Afterwards, he saw Santa in Winston-Salem.  Santa picked him up, sat him on his knee and said "Well Ben, I almost didn't recognize you, you've grown SO much this year!" 
Jackson, along with his cousins Caleb and Isabelle , joined his uncle Martin in the Stuart Christmas parade.
I skipped the parade and went kayaking in Kibler Valley, taking a big jump into the river while I was there.  (Story here)
We made candy houses twice, once at First Presbyterian Church and once at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, had a fondu dinner with our friends the Eads, helped decorate my mom's Christmas tree, and celebrated great mid-term reports.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009.  The Christmas parade was long and cold, but we had fun.  Ben and his buddy Colin were pretty focused on collecting candy.  I sat under a blanket, wearing multiple layers, gloves and a toboggan, focusing on staying warm.

Monday, December 7th, 2009.  Things are clicking along this month, with each weekend packed full of holiday festivities.  Jackson's team played their first basketball game on Saturday, loosing 29-20.  That was followed by Ben's 5 year old friend's birthday party at the Lindsley household.  Ben enjoyed playing with many of his little buddies.   On Sunday Jackson rode with his football team in the Christmas parade, while Amy, Ben and I watched along Main Street with our friends the Isaacs and Eads.  Loooong parade, well over two hours.  Jackson's float was at the very end.  We were very happy to escape the cold by joining our friends the Bansfields for a delicious dinner at their house.

Saturday, December 5th, 2009. Amy and Ruby snoozed by the tree last night while Jackson and I sat up listening to the Bears football game on the radio.

 

Friday, December 4th, 2009. Friday night is karate night.

 

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009.   We started decorating our tree on Saturday and finished Sunday morning.  Amy does a great job of writing each ornament's story on its box, which helps us relive a lot of great memories as we hang all of our special ornaments on the tree.  Being such a tradition oriented family, most of our holiday activities are ones that we have done many times before.  That is why making an advent wreath last night for the first time was so fun.  When we realized that we were supposed to bring our own greenery, I rushed back to the house to get the branches I had cut off our Christmas tree to get it to fit into the stand.  Except that they had already been carried away with the trash.  So I climbed to the back of our tree and decided to cut off a few of the low branches that no one can see.  It was too dark to see what I was doing and I was afraid that I might accidentally cut a strand of lights.  So I sat back there in the dark thinking "hmmm, if there was just a way to get more light back here...."  Yes, I sat there in the dark, trying to figure out how to get more light so that I wouldn't cut the strands wrapping around the tree.  The strands of LIGHTS.  Hundreds and hundreds of LIGHTS.  It finally occurred to me, minutes later, to turn the Christmas lights on.

Our sweet friend baby Brett spent the day with us today.  Only he isn't a baby anymore.  He amazed us with all the things that he could say and do.  And with all the things that he remembers.  I don't think he had forgotten a thing.