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Thursday, December 30th, 2010.  After a full 3 months off the water, I finally found a way to get back to the river last Thursday.  As an added bonus, I was able to paddle with John and Crystal, who moved South in 2009.  More photos and details can be found here.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010.  In this photo Ben is singing, but make no mistake, he is the Rock Band drummer in the family.  He and Jackson have a band called Jelly Monster, a reference to our Christmas Eve joke, in which Jackson sings and Ben plays the drums.  He also has a band with Amy, where she does the singing.  Ben really enjoys his gift from Deana and Martin.  He lists his favorite Santa gifts in this order; 1. Havoc Helicopter, 2.  Cuplonk, 3.  Keyboard.  Cuplonk is a game where you try to bounce a ping pong ball into a plastic cup.  He played it almost non-stop Christmas day.  Today, after Amy finished baby sitting sweet little Madeline, she and the boys took our friend Anne Rachel to Chuck E Cheese for her birthday. 

Reading T'Was The Night Before Christmas by the tree, just before going to bed on Christmas Eve is a tradition at our house.  It was a tradition that Amy and I apparently both wanted to start, because on our first Christmas together after we married, we each gave the other a copy of the book.  Jackson started reading the story when he was seven and this year he read the last half while Ben took his first turn reading the first half.  During Jackson's turn, he started letting Ben read the last word on each page.  They settled into a rhythm, except that at one point, Jackson read all the words on one page and flowed directly into the next one.  At the end of that page he read "And I laughed when I saw him in spite of ..."  He paused for Ben, who looked at the previous page since he thought Jackson was still on it and, questioningly, said "jelly?"  Both boys rolled in the floor laughing and it quickly became a punch line at our house.  Whenever someone pauses while speaking, someone else interjects with "jelly?"

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010.  Today's photos are from Christmas Eve at my grandmother's house.  It was the typical festive event with lots of great food, family and fun.  Jackson played the White Elephant gift exchange game,  is one of his favorite Christmas traditions, for the fifth straight year.  He won a cordless drill which came in handy when we assembled his ping pong table.  Christmas Eve was also marked with sadness as our brother-in-law Martin's father passed away earlier in the evening.  Our thoughts have been with both Martin and my sister Deana throughout this holiday season.  More photos from Christmas, including photos from my parent's house on Christmas Day, can be found here.

 

Monday, December 27th, 2010.  Jackson and I spent last night putting together his new ping pong table.  It took us close to four hours, but with a lot of team work and persistence, we managed to get it assembled in time for a few quick games before bedtime.  He and Ben have played it quite a bit today, along with Lego Rock Band.  Ben is the drummer, Jackson is the singer.  It is super windy and cold outside, so the boys have stuck to inside games today.  I posted more photos from Christmas here.  Below are photos from the wonderful Christmas pageant at First Presbyterian Church.  Ben was an outstanding little shepherd.  He commented afterwards that it was his first speaking role in a play. 
      

Sunday, December 26th, 2010.  Today we went sledding in our big, fluffy, new Christmas snow.  What a wonderful thing to do.  Jackson gave Amy snow boots for Christmas, which turned out to be an incredibly fortuitous gift.  (More snow photos here.)

Saturday, December 25th, 2010. It is noon on Christmas Day and it is snowing.  How awesome is that?  Jackson had trouble going to sleep, so he asked Amy and I to lay down with him last night.  Around midnight, Ben woke and saw the trail of candy canes that Santa left.  He climbed into bed with us and just before he fell back to sleep he told us that Santa had already visited.  Poor Jackson was dying to go see what he left, but after last year's 3AM adventure, we made him promise to wait until 5AM.  He stayed awake the rest of the night.  I think he kept Amy awake too.  At 4:30 we decided he couldn't wait any longer and all ran downstairs.  The first words out of Jackson's mouth was "Ping Pong!"  It has been a wonderful morning, the boys received lots of great gifts.  We are now headed to Claudville to eat lunch with my family.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Wednesday, December 22nd. Tis the season to be busy.  A lot has happened since the last post.  It snowed again.  Actually, there was a lot more ice than snow, which made for some fast sledding down the street in front of our house.  Our neighbor Jack and I were clocked at twenty miles an hour by Jackson's Hot Wheels Radar Gun.  You can watch a video of us speeding down the street by clicking  here. The night before the ice storm, we went to a Wake Forest basketball game, courtesy of our friend Mandy, and had a wonderful time.  Ben, along with the entire Tharrington Elementary First Grade Class, performed The Perfect Christmas Tree at The Andy Griffith Playhouse.  Ben was fantastic in his role of a snowman.  Jackson's CAP class performed their play for a second time early this morning for the Rotary Club.  Even with no practice, they pulled it off flawlessly.  As the winner of his homeroom's spelling bee, Jackson competed in the school wide 5th grade bee.  And his basketball team won two more games and are now 3-0.  They are having a great season so far.  More snow photos here.

 

Friday, December 10th, 2010.  Jackson played the part of Tex Glitter in the 5th grade CAP production of Santa's Holiday Hoe Down.  Their first showing on Monday night was a smashing success.  Click here to watch a 42MB highlight clip from the play. 

Monday, December 6th, 2010.  On Saturday, a photo of Jackson from the gingerbread house workshop was on the cover of the local newspaper.  He led all scorers in his basketball team's 27-20 win.  He had 10 points by halftime and 12 by the end of the 3rd period, which is when he left to go to Greensboro with his Aunts Deana and Melanie to see Toy Story 3 on Ice.  The front row tickets were a gift from his Aunt Deana and Uncle Martin.  Amy and I were able to enjoy a rare lunch out together.  AND we had our first snow of the year, which was also the first at the new house.  That night, our nephew Seth had his first sleepover at our house.  AND the Hokies beat the Seminoles to become this year's ACC champion.  What an awesome day.  Lots of photos here from our fun in the snow with the Bevards and Colemans.

Friday, December 3rd, 2010.  Today's photos are from the gingerbread workshop at The Andy Griffith Playhouse.  Amy and the boys attend every year.  Seth, Isabelle and Maddie were also there.  And I have two photos that Amy took of Ruby Sue in the top of the artificial tree in our living room.  Crazy cat.

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010.  While Jackson was at basketball practice and Amy was volunteering at the MAJWC Gently Used Toy Drive, Ben and I attended our first tree lighting ceremony on Main Street, complete with delicious hot cocoa courtesy of First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy.  Friends, candy canes and carols.  Good stuff.