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Monday the 28th.  Amy's sister owns the Little School daycare in Hopewell, Virginia.  The boys went there this morning to play with their Aunt Sherri while Amy visited her mom.   The pulmonologist stopped by while Amy was at the hospital and said that Sue may go off the ventilator as early as tomorrow.  She is still receiving a "tremendous amount of support" but she has handled each reduction in support very well.  Meanwhile in Mt. Airy the snow continued to fall.  We've only got a few inches on the ground in town, but as much as eight inches accumulated all around us.  The bad part about that is we now have to wait until Thursday to find out what my little sister's new baby is going to be.  Her appointment this morning was cancelled.

Mom dug up today's photo for my Paddle Page.  It is from the 1993 Kibler Valley River Run.  I think I was sporting the same look twelve years later on my first kayak trip.  Mom found some good ones of Dad too.

Sunday the 27th.  A borrowed ritual in our family is to take turns every evening listing the worst part and best part of the day.   Today was an easy one.  The best part was that Grandma Sue had her best day since entering the hospital.  Everyone agrees that she looked much better today.  And thanks to our friend Hilary who drove down from Short Pump to watch the boys, I got to visit Sue with Amy before leaving town.  Leaving Amy and the boys behind in Colonial Heights as I drove west into the rain, then sleet, then snow was the worst part.  I'm happy that they get to stay close to Sue, but I'll certainly miss them all very much.    Jackson told me to tell everyone that knows him that "if they want to visit him they need to go to Grandma Sue's house."  He says he is taking care of it while she is in the hospital.

Saturday the 26th. Not being able to see his Grandma Sue has started bothering Jackson, so to get him out of the house and distract him, Amy took Lexi, Jimmy, and Jackson shopping.  We also got all the kids outside to play some basketball and football in the nice sunshine.  All reports from the hospital have been positive.  Sue seems to have had a better day.  When Amy got there this evening she was making a circular motion with her hand.  Amy couldn't figure out what she meant, so she handed her a clipboard and pen.  Sue wrote "racing".  She wanted to find out about qualifying, the Bush race, and the race tomorrow.  Definitely a good sign.  Sue also asked Amy to stay, which Amy was of course already planning to do.  So I will head back to Mount Airy by myself tomorrow and return later in the week.


Friday the 25th. Not a lot has changed with Grandma Sue's condition.  They have cut back a little on the ventilator, but we still don't know how long she will be on it or what type of recovery is in store.  It appears that she did not have a heart attack, rather it is respiratory failure.

Our friend Hilary brought Virginia to play with Jackson while she visited Amy and Sue at the hospital.   They played like old friends all morning.  Click here to see more pictures of Virginia and Jackson together.  Jackson knows that Grandma Sue is in the hospital because she is sick.  He hasn't been able to visit because Sue is in ICU, but he has been busy thinking of things to send that might make her feel better.  Today he colored a red #8 racecar for her.  And we know that Ben has to be wondering why his Grandma isn't at her house.  He absolutely adores his Grandma Sue and loves visiting her.


Thursday the 24th. Amy spent the night at the hospital and is back there now.  Not much has changed.  Sue is stable in ICU.  A doctor this morning said that it was possible Sue had a heart attack sometime Tuesday night.  They have ordered additional blood work to find out more.  It definitely appears that Sue's recovery may be extended longer than we first hoped. 

Wednesday the 23rdAmy's mother was taken to the hospital early this morning.  Sue's oxygen saturation was as low as seventy percent and she was placed on a ventilator.  We arrived in Colonial Heights around four this afternoon.  Amy went directly to the hospital while I took the boys on a walk to Amy's brother Alan's house.  The boys played with their cousins Nicole, Jimmy and Jesse.  We then met Charla and the kids for dinner at Colonial Restaurant where Amy waited tables during high school and while home from college.  Jackson was surprised to find out that his mommy was once a waitress.  Sue is doing some better and they have been able to reduce part of the medicine that has had her sedated.  When she wakes she is aware.  She cannot speak because of the vent, but can mouth words.  Amy came back to the house to tell the boys goodnight before returning to spend the night with Sue. 

Tuesday the 22nd. I woke up this morning as sore as I have been in a very long time.  It felt great.  Yesterday's trip report is too long to post here (there was a lot to tell), but you can read it if you are interested on the Dan River page.

And you can watch a 40 second clip of Jeff and I paddling the Dan.  The first part is me dropping through Coiled Cobra.  

Monday the 21st. This morning in a heavy fog, Jeff and I put our kayaks in the Dan River in Kibler Valley and started paddling.  Tonight, amid a rising mist and under a full moon, we pulled them out of the river.  In between was one heck of a day that I'm too tired to describe.  But trust me, it was quite the adventure.


Sunday the 20th.  Today Amy went shopping in Winston-Salem while the boys and I stayed home to play and watch the Daytona 500.  Tony almost had it, should have had it, oh well...  It looks like Monday's kayak trip is going to be a rainy one, but possibly in the sixties.  Rain or not, it's going to be nice to be out on the water. 

Saturday the 19th.   Amy, Megan, Jackson, Benjamin and I all went to Sci-Works today and had a lot of fun in the new Science Circus exhibit.  Then on our way from the van to the house following the trip, Benjamin climbed into the stroller.  So Jackson, Ben and I went for a walk to Main Street enjoying the nice cool afternoon.  Then from the stroller to the house, Ben started climbing in his wagon.  This time we just went for a walk around the driveway.  After supper we went back to Winston-Salem, this time for a fun visit with Mike, Brooke, and Landon.  Jackson later said "Landon's jumping mattresses are fun!"


Friday the 18th. Jackson rode with me to Jessup's Mill today at lunch to help me scout the take-out location for Monday's fifteen mile paddle down the Dan.

GO HOKIES!!!!  VA Tech 67 - Duke 65  That is the first win over a top ten team in men's basketball since the year before I entered as a freshman.  That is going waaaaayyy back.

Thursday the 17th. Congratulations to Kristie Richardson on the birth of baby Kristen this morning!!

Amy and the boys went to the library to return overdue books, then went across the street to the police station...  No, Mount Airy isn't that strict about returning books late...  they went to see a demonstration on gun safety locks.   We don't have firearms in our house because we don't feel it is safe, but we know that most homes Jackson and Benjamin go into will have guns stored somewhere, so we want to make sure they are aware of them and the dangers they present.   Far too many children are accidentally shot or shoot someone else because they found a gun and played with it.  Trigger locks are a very simple solution to that very dangerous problem, so we were pleased that our local police department were giving them away.

Wednesday the 16th. Nothing really to report today other than Double surviving his first twenty-four hours in a household with a cat and a family that knows absolutely nothing about fish.  I also found out that they are not issuing permits to Talbott Lake, so Jeff and I will need to come up with a plan B for Monday's paddle.

Tuesday the 15th.   It's halfway through February, so I'm catching up on photos we've taken this month but haven't posted. 


Jackson wanted his buddy Samuel to come over this morning to play and Samuel obliged.  From what I hear, they had a really good morning.  Then after lunch Jackson went to the bank to deposit the check Papa gave him from the sell of his second cow.  He walked up to the teller and said "My name is Jackson Delane Heath and I want to deposit this in my savings account."  This year's cow was not only bigger, weighing in at over 450 lbs, it also sold at 1.02 a pound.  That's about 90 lbs heavier and ten cents better than last year making it a good year for the old college fund.   He then went back to Wal-Mart where a whole shipment of beta fish had arrived.  After much debate, he picked out a black and tan one.  Jackson called me at the office to let me know he had named it Double "because he likes to look into the glass and see two of him".  Jackson then got to play more when his very nice friend Jacob from next door come over for a visit and for dinner.  After the kids went to bed, Amy went to Timmesa's house for her first sewing lesson.  Even though it was the first time she had really even looked at a sewing machine, she came back home with a completed first project, a striped pillow for the living room.  I was quite impressed.

Monday the 14th.  Jackson was very excited to give Amy her Valentine's presents first thing this morning.  He was especially excited to give her a "pink diamond" ring he picked out all by himself.  He brought it too her in bed before seven this morning.  Amy then took Jackson to his Valentine's Day party.   I had the day off and stayed home to play with BenBen.   After school we told Jackson that for Valentine's Day we were getting him the pet fish he has always wanted.  So we go to the pet store on Main Street (shop local!) so that he can pick out his fish.  Besides being as helpful and friendly as the rocks in the bottom of the fish tanks, they were out of Beta fish.  So we bought the bowl and fish stuff, ate lunch and drove to the only other place in town that sells fish, Wal-Mart.  Guess what, Wally World was out of Betas too.    A bit of a let down for Jackson.  The rest of the day was heart shaped grilled cheese, heart shaped Jello jigglers, and a made from scratch heart shaped chocolate cake.

Happy Birthday Brooke!   Happy Birthday Dwight!

Sunday the 13th. We went to Claudville today to have lunch at Hama's house.  Jackson decided to make a flower instead of a Valentine's Card to take to his great-grandmother.    He and Ben both enjoyed the pickles as usual.  Amy and I enjoyed all the food and dessert as usual.  Caleb, Jack and I took a walk along Little Dan and around the farm.  We also got to visit with Papa, Melanie, Eric, Caleb, Isabelle, David, and Cathy.

Happy Birthday Lexi!


Saturday the 12th. Jack and Ben were the only ones to receive mail today.  All Valentine's Day cards.  The ones from Grandma Sue and Aunt Dianna had money in them.  The cash lasted about an hour before it burned a hole in their pockets.  We went straight to the toy store to get the Shredder/Raphael/Mutating Ooze toy Jackson had his eye on.  Benjamin got the cool Alphabet Leap Frog toy that he saw at buddy Landon's house.

Earlier in the day Papa came by to watch Benjamin, while Jackson went to his buddy Stephen Creech's Power Rangers birthday party at the bowling alley.  Jackson had a lot of fun and even bowled a strike without hitting the bumpers.  He then quit bowling because he said it took all his muscles get the strike.  He really did put some serious ooomphh behind his throws.



Friday the 11th.  Mo stopped by the house today while in town and gave Jackson a Ninja Turtle shirt.  The date for Deana's wedding is now two months away and we are all getting very excited about the trip to the islands.  It is especially nice to think about on a cold windy day like today.  Tonight we plan on staying  in with popcorn and a movie. 

Thursday the 10th. Earlier this week Jackson said "Murfee's daddy is a doctor."  I asked him "If someone asked you what your daddy did, what would you tell them?"  Jackson said "play guitar."  I said "No, I mean for a living, what does your daddy do at the office?"  Jackson thought for a long time, then said "make money".

Deana came over for her play-date with the boys tonight.  Benjamin called her Deana when he saw her.  He also said "I did it" later in the evening after getting the Terrain Twister to work.  Deana brought the boys lots of Valentine's presents, including Shark Tales, and also played Go Fish and Battleship with Jackson.

Wednesday the 9th.  Jackson has been adding numbers for some time, but he can now work with negative numbers too.  For instance, what is four minus six?  Negative two.  What is negative three plus negative two?  Negative five. Not bad for a four year old.  His letter recognition is really good too and when we read books we will pick out a handful of short words for him to read when we get to them.  For example, if we are reading Just Go To Bed!, he might spell out and read each bed, the, and it.  When we read Stuart Little the other night, he was able to recognize the word Stuart and read it each time it occurred in the story.  Just like a toddler learning to talk,  learning to read will provide Jackson with a whole new level of independence.

Tuesday the 8th.  I planned on going to the office an hour late this morning, so of course Ben woke up an hour early.  But it gave everyone plenty of time to play before I left for work.  Later in the morning I ran into Amy and the boys outside my office.  They were out for a morning stroll around the block and were stopping by to say hello.   After lunch the boys were back outside enjoying the day, this time at Fisher River Park in Dobson.


Monday the 7th.  Amy and the boys played outside with Timmesa and her boys on another beautiful sixty degree day. 

Maybe it is because Valentine's Day is approaching, but Jackson has developed a very big crush on his mommy.  Today my sister Deana sent an email that she would be coming over on Thursday to have a play-date with Jackson.  When I came home for lunch I told Jackson that Deana wanted to go on a date with him.  He blushed a little and made an "uh-oh" face while looking at Amy.  I then re-phrased it and said "she wants to have a play-date."  He put his hand on his mom's shoulder and said "It's just a play-date mommy, just a play-date.  Nothing romantic like hugging or kissing."

Sunday the 6th. The boys and I spent the afternoon outside taking wagon rides and playing Rescue Heroes in the sandbox.   Tonight we have Dinner Club in Walnut Cove.

Congratulations Mark and Susan Heath!!! We just heard that they are expecting a baby later this year.  That makes seven babies we now get to look forward to in 2005.

Saturday the 5th. We dropped by the Joyce house this afternoon to see our old friends Eric and Christie Frank (and to meet little Maddie!) and Karl, Cindy, and Maggie Munschy (and to meet little Aiden!)  The Franks drove to Winston-Salem from Greenville, NC and the Munschy family from Aiken, SC.  We enjoyed the great weather and it was nice to see friends that we haven't seen in a very long time.  This evening we were joined by our friend Megan and a reunion of Build-A-Bear bears for popcorn/movie night.  We watched Elmo's Magic Cookbook and read Pablo, The Penguin That Hated The Cold.


Friday the 4th.   Benjamin spent the morning playing with his buddy Landon in Winston-Salem, which meant that I got the rare treat of picking up Jackson and Samuel from Central.  After running a few errands, cranking out Thomas The Tank Engine and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme songs along the way, we dropped Sam off with his mom, picked up some Sonic and a Brave Little Toaster movie, then headed home.  I went back to the office, while Amy and the boys headed outside for a stroll in the sun.  They played at Miss Etta's playground, enjoyed a coke and ice-cream at The Good Life, and ran into their Aunt Deana, friend Gray, and friend Peggy Ritenour.  Later in the evening, Anita, Jimmy, and Stephen Epperly stopped by for a visit. 

Thursday the 3rd.  Our unplugged television experiment is still going strong.  And coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, our remote controls have vanished.  When the main one disappeared, I brought the one from upstairs downstairs.  It immediately joined the first one, wherever that is.   We have not been able to find them for several days now and that is usually a sign that Ben has put something in his spot of no return.  We don't know where that spot is, but ever since Ben has became mobile, we've learned that things don't usually go missing and then return.  They just vanish.  Our theory is that he puts them in the trashcan, even though we don't ever see him do it.  I think he waits until no one is in the room, then makes a mad dash for the trashcan in the kitchen, then runs back and acts like nothing happened.  When Jackson got four new baby ninja turtle action figures, he didn't let Ben play with them.  What do you think happened, one of them mysteriously disappeared.  We unplug Benjamin's television, and poof, the remotes disappear.  I think Ben likes to get the last laugh and doesn't mind keeping the joke to himself.   Maybe we should install a nannie-cam to find out for sure.  Or maybe we should appreciate the mystery for what it is... a mystery.   But the point of this story is, that without the remotes, Amy and I have found it too frustrating to watch television.   I have to flip during commercials, I can't stand waiting them out.  And it takes too long to find out what is on without the remote.  So we now find ourselves in the same position as our kids, television-free. 

Wednesday the 2nd.  The boys had a busy day that started with Jackson going to preschool.  From there Amy, Ben, and Jackson had lunch at Jackson's friend Brock's house.  They had a fun visit with Brock, his little sister Elizabeth, and mother Kimberly.  Then this evening, while Amy was at work, I took the boys to visit their great-grandmother in Claudville.  We hadn't seen Hama since Christmas, so it was a nice visit.  They are now tired little boys tucked into bed.

Congratulations to Christi and Neil Marion who just found out baby number two will be a boy!

Tuesday the 1st.  When I arrived home at lunch, the family was sitting down to a "stuffed animal" picnic lunch in honor of the latest members of our house, Love and Elmo.  Since Love is a bear, they were serving blackberries and Honeycombs with the PB&J sandwiches and oatmeal cookies.  It was a fun lunch that went south when Ben bit Jackson on the back.  Ben wanted Jackson's cup of milk, so he knocked his own cup out of the way, and then pounced on Jackson.  Benjamin went to time out and as soon as Jackson would let us, we lifted his shirt to find a terrible looking whelp.  (Jackson said "at least it doesn't hurt now!)  When Jackson was in day care, the most feared children were the biters.  I had always heard that some children bit and others didn't, we felt fortunate that ours did not.  Well, now we have a biter of our own.  The silver lining of course, if you're looking for one, and you always should, is that Ben isn't in daycare biting other people's children, just our own, and that Jackson never retaliates, leaving the discipline to us.  I sometimes think that Ben is in the middle of a baby coup d'etat to take over the house.