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Monday, December 30th, 2013. We celebrated Christmas with Amy's family at Wesley's house in Disputanta this year. Since I still had Deana's Mark II, I took some photos of the cousins as it is rare to see them together in one place.

Sunday, December 29th, 2013. Christmas Eve started with the children's pageant at church.

Followed by an evening at Hama's house in Claudville.  more photos here

Christmas morning was fantastic.  Everyone was happy with their gifts.  Amy cooked a lemon-nut cake and we headed to Stuart to celebrate the holiday with my family. 

Monday, December 23rd, 2013. Zorro was the best dog a family could ever have.  He was with us for sixteen years and we will miss him greatly.  He was kind, sweet and an old soul in a little dog.

Monday, December 16th, 2013. Amy again led an effort to bake and deliver cookies to the police and fire departments, plus the public library and local rec center.  The WEBELOS 1 den did a great job and even sang a carol at each stop.

Sunday, December 15th, 2013.  Woo Hoo Ben!  He continued his hot streak this week by placing 3rd in the 13 and under division at the Rosy Cheeks 5K with a time of 28:30.  And big props to Amy, who after a year break from running, laced up her shoes and hit the course with Ben.  She looked and ran great.  And while they were running, Jackson was headed to Durham where he and the rest of the Twelve team from MAMS placed 2nd in the state finals.  Ben spent the rest of his day at his friend Caden's house, then had Caden over for a sleepover.  On Sunday, Jackson started his path toward confirmation at the confirman luncheon where he found out that his mentor will be our good friend Jeff E.  We the had basketball practice, followed by more basketball at Blue Ridge with Eric and Caleb, followed by an evening at Hama's house decorating for Christmas.
 

Friday, December 13th, 2013. We once again joined friends from FPCMA to build candy houses.

We were at the church a few days prior volunteering for Sandwich Saturday.  Jackson as not there as he went straight from a sleep-over at his friend Jack's house to a sleep-over at his friend Hunter's house.  My sister Deana joined us though to help take up the slack.  Later that evening, Amy, Ben and I enjoyed hot cocoa while walking on Main Street.

Thursday, December 12th, 2013. Jackson's basketball team won 67-64 tonight.  Great game. They are off to a 2-0 start.  Our 2-0 start last year kind of spiraled out of control in the wrong direction.  No matter how the record turns out for this team, just like last year, I really like the group of guys and look forward to watching them play a lot more basketball. (photos below are courtesy of Christopher's mother Angel)

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. Way to go Ben!  He won this year's Jones 4th Grade Spelling Bee in twelve rounds with the following words... saying, bucket, princely, software, shortfall, million, alpha, lumberjack, Tuesday, legacy, domain and premium. I thought that princely might trip him up in the 3rd round, and I was worried about alpha in the 7th, but I should have had more faith. Way to go Ben, I am very proud of you. He said this morning that he just did not want to be the first one out.  This is the second year in a row he has won his classroom's spelling bee, but the first time he has been the top speller for the entire grade.  We were already proud of him for making it to the finals and it was cool to see that 4 of the top ten spellers were from his basketball team. Spelling bees are always tough, because you are rooting for every kid the whole way through. Ben now moves on to the city spelling bee at the middle school.

December 5th, 2013. We continue to worry about my uncle Mike who is still in the hospital.  He has had just an incredibly rough go of it. We constantly have him, Jennifer and their entire family in our thoughts.   We are also trying to squeeze in as much decorating as possible for the holidays, between all the work, basketball, cub scout and other volunteer activities.  We put up the artificial tree tonight and Rosie loved it.  She stays in the middle of the tree and swats at the ornaments.  Jackson took the photos below. 

And speaking of Jackson, I have kept a Milestones page for him since the day he was born.  I swear it seems like yesterday that I was adding entries like First Word, First Steps, First Time Riding A Bike...  And somehow tonight, I am writing that he shaved for the first time.   How can that be?  Amy often uses the quote "long days and short years".  That is so true. 

December 2nd, 2013.  We drove in from Colonial Heights, delivered Cub Scout popcorn, then raced up the mountain to pick out this year's tree before a holiday dinner at my parent's house.  Luckily the weather was perfect this year.  It had been bitterly cold for most of the previous week.  We picked out a perfect sized tree and decided to saw it ourselves rather than wait on someone from the farm to do it.  Just before sawing completely through, I asked Amy to pull the top of the tree a little to make it easier.  As soon as she grabbed it, the saw cut all the way through.  I am not exactly sure what happened, but I know the end result was that both Amy and the tree were laying on top of me.  Jackson had my iPhone and videoed it.  It was another good trip to Slaughter's, our eleventh.  More photos on our Christmas Tree Farm Page.