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Monday the 27th. I took this photo of Amy and Ben in front of Barney's Cafe a few weeks ago.  We were very sad to hear that Don Knotts passed away over the weekend.  While we live in Andy Griffith's hometown, not Don's, (Don was from further up the road in Morgantown, West Virginia) you can find tributes to his Barney Fife character on Main Street in the form of everything from signs to coffee mugs, from buttons to bumper stickers.  At least in our region, Barney Fife is one of the most beloved television characters of all-time.  We have a fantastic actor that performs as Barney during festivals and his skit is always the crowd favorite.  (He once wrote Amy a ticket, for being too cute I think.)  I didn't watch Three's Company as a kid, but I LOVED Don Knotts and Tim Conway in The Apple Dumpling Gang.    I was glad to read that Andy and Don had remained close friends and that Andy was visiting Don over the weekend.  

Saturday the 25th. Jackson was supposed to spend the day and night with his Aunt Deana, Amy and I were supposed to go on a romantic get-away, and Ben was all set to stay with my parents for the night.  Most of those plans changed when Jackson woke up sick this morning.  He is running a fever, has no energy, is terribly pale and has thrown up several times.  He was very sad that he couldn't spend the night with his Aunt Dee and Uncle Martin.  Amy and I were able to change our hotel and dinner reservations to another weekend, so we still have that to look forward too.   And Ben is still going on his first solo sleep-over, which will be nice because we can give poor Jackson more attention.  Ben had his big brother with him on his first two nights away from mom and dad, so we'll see how it works out tonight.  He loves it at Mo and Papa's, so I'm sure he'll do fine.  Today's photo is from earlier this month.    

Thursday the 23rd.  Let's see what's happened lately...  Ben got his second haircut last week, just a trim though, nothing crazy.  One of Jackson's two front teeth unfortunately did change color as a result of his fall a few weeks ago.  He's planning on competing in a Sport Jujitsu tournament in Wytheville, Virginia next month.  If you have broadband, you should check out his latest clip  (3MB) set to his all-time favorite song, it's his anthem actually.  I've also got some new karate photos from his new advanced class on the Purple Green page.     


Tuesday the 21st.   In between the weekend's two snowfalls, I kayaked in the foothills of the still snow covered Blue Ridge Mountains on a beautiful, very cold, sunny Sunday morning.  The air was cold enough for portions of the lake to be frozen and for the water dripping from the paddle onto the kayak's spray skirt to freeze before it could run off (25F/-3.8C), yet the sun was warm and comfortable.  Since I wasn't particularly in a hurry and the day was so nice, I took my time , spending much of it either photographing the Canada Geese on the water or trying to photograph the Wild Turkeys in the wood.     


Sunday the 19th.  On Friday when it was sunny and in the sixties, I rode my motorcycle, meeting Amy and Ben, who were out on a stroll, on Main Street for lunch.  Then on Saturday, for the second Saturday in a row, it snowed.  And once again the temperature in Mayberry never dipped below 34F/1C.  So while Amy worked, the boys and I drove fifteen minutes north and into Virginia where the snow did more than just fall, it actually stuck to the ground.  My sister Melanie has a great yard for sledding, especially when Papa shuttles the kids back to the top of the hill on his four wheeler after each trip down it.  My nephew Caleb and Jackson played for a long time, but Ben almost immediately started saying "I wanna go iiinsiiide Daddy."  So that's what he did.  He went inside to enjoy the fire and play with Melanie and Baby Seth.  I've got lots more photos on the Snow Page .    This one might be my favorite.    My other sister took the photos of Ben and I on her way out to the movies with my niece Isabelle.     


**update - Unbeknownst to me, while I was posting on yesterday's snow and watching Grey's Anatomy, it started snowing again.  All of yesterday's snow was gone by yesterday afternoon.  We were on our way to bed when I looked outside and saw that we finally have a snow that is sticking.  It's really beautiful, I hope it's still here in the morning

Friday the 16th.  My sister posted today about Robert Earl Keen and the Americana genre.  I often describe the music I listen to and play as Blues, Bluegrass, Americana, Singer-Songwriter, Roots-Rock, Alt-Country, No Depression (whatever that is).  Here are two really good examples of stuff that I really, really, really like that fall into that category; A J Roach and The Wood Brothers.

 And speaking of music, I found this, dated May 2003, the other night on my PC (700KBs).  Jackson had just turned three and I recorded him and I singing and playing guitar.  It made me smile to hear his little three year old voice singing backup, especially when he sings Oh Pillowy.        

Wednesday the 15th.  Last Thursday Ben asked if we could take the car to "rotty" instead of the van.  I obliged and after class I loaded Ben first into the backseat, then Jackson.  We only use the car for driving around town, so Jackson sits in a booster seat rather than the full five point harness child seat like he does in the van.  It was cold and I was moving fast to get everyone buckled.  As soon as I had Jackson in, I ducked out of the back seat (it's a two door car), slammed the door shut and started around the back of the car.  I heard crying and wondered what Jackson had done to make Ben mad.  Once I reached the driver's side I looked in the window and saw that Ben wasn't crying at all, but Jackson was absolutely screaming. The way I remember this next part is in complete slow motion.  read more....   

Happy Birthday to our niece who turned twelve on Monday!

Sunday the 12th.  Snow fell from sunset to sundown yesterday.   The temperature never dropped below 35 F / 1.6C however and all those big, fluffy beautiful flakes melted as soon as they touched the ground.  When Ben saw the snow falling he yelled "Santa bring me candy!!"  Jackson was happy it was snowing too and didn't seem to care that it never accumulated.  We took his sled out early and he laughed great big belly laughs the entire time.  Laughs so hard that they kept him from being able to stand up at times.  Every time he slipped and fell or crashed his sled he just rolled and rolled with laughter.  And that's what it's all about.  He was just as happy sledding in mud as he would have been in a foot of snow.  Ben is still under the weather, so I only took him out long enough to touch it and take a couple of quick rides on the sled.  Jackson and I then took his snowboard out late for a little more fun before while the snow was still falling.  He's going to be a great snowboarder.  He only fell twice all night.   Amy is feeling a little better today.  Jackson took her out on a date to see Curious George this afternoon.  Ben's taking a nap and I plan on joining him in a few minutes.

In our part of the South-East, we can usually only count on one or two good snows, sometimes we don't get any.  So we make the most of it when it does fall.  I created a Snow Gallery for photos from this year's snow and the ones from years past.   

Friday the 10th. Amy is still really sick, so I stayed home yesterday to take care of Ben.  We had to run a few errands, including returning a movie and books to the library.  It occurred to me while we were out that it was the first time Ben and I had ever spent the day together.  I've got both boys by myself plenty, and sometimes just Jackson, but never just Ben.  I got the feeling he was taking me on a well worn path around town.  At each stop he knew exactly where he wanted to go next.  Besides the errands, which included the bank and a quick stop at the office, we also went to Mr. Mike's train store (Dry Bridge Station), to the library, to visit "Meesa", and to McDonald's play land.  Hopefully Amy will feel better soon, she has some sort of nasty virus whose latest symptoms include a really sore throat and bad cough.



Wednesday the 8th. Jackson is participating in The American Heart Association's Jump Rope For Heart


Tuesday the 7th.  Jackson made a robot to hold his Valentines at school.  Ben thought making a robot looked like fun, so he built one too.  He liked his robot so much that he slept with it.  After Jackson took his to school, he was a little sad not to have a robot at the house anymore, so each boy made another one.  I thought it looked fun too, so I made one of my own.  Ben said mine was too scary though and made me put it in the trash can.

Amy has been terribly sick with flu like symptoms last night and today.  And after a full day of feeling good, Ben is once again sick.


Monday the 6th. We had a bear of a time getting Ben to take his nap Saturday afternoon.  He finally fell asleep sometime before 2pm, then surprised us by sleeping for over fourteen hours without waking.  Jackson and I tried and tried to wake the little guy up because we were supposed to pick Amy up from work.  We eventually realized that.. read more    .

Saturday the 4th.  Our wonderful friends across town volunteered to let both our boys sleep over at their house last night.  That gave Amy and I our first all-night date-night without the kids since Ben was born almost three years ago.  We went out to dinner, saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, then stayed up late playing scrabble (with a nod to Colleen), drinking India Pale Ales and Black and Tans and eating cheesecake.  It was a great Friday night. 

This morning I said "Boys, I think I have your cold."

Jackson replied "No, I still have mine."

Thursday the 2nd. Jackson had two accidents this week.   The first one happened at school when a friend fell on him from the monkey bars.  He wasn't hurt, but his glasses were bent badly and even though I thought I had them back close to their original shape, Jackson wouldn't keep them on because he said they made things look crooked.  He has never complained about wearing his glasses, so we didn't push it, for all I know they might actually make things look crooked, who knows.  He's only worn two sets of frames in the four and a half years he's worn glasses because he doesn't like change at all.  His prescription changed slightly a year and a half ago, so we bought new frames and lenses.  It was my idea to get those frames locally rather than at his doctor's office two hours away like we had before.  It was a bad idea because his new frames were different and he refused to wear them.  His pediatric ophthalmologist said it was okay to keep wearing the old ones, so we let him.  His glasses are important and we want him to be comfortable with them.  So now his old trusted frames are worn out, the lenses are scratched terribly, and they make things look crooked.  We promised him that if he would just try to wear his new ones as much as possible, we would order him a pair exactly like his old ones.  Then we discover that the company stopped making children's frames and we can't get them anymore.  Luckily by the time the weekend passed and we found that out, he was already getting used to his new glasses.  He is wearing them all day again and I think he secretly might like them, so we haven't told him that we can't get his old ones.  Hopefully he'll forget about it.  So if you run into Jackson, don't say "Love your new glasses Jackson!"

The other accident was more serious.  Amy took the boys to a neighborhood playground yesterday afternoon.  Both boys were having a marvelous time when Jackson slipped on a set of playground steps, metal ones, striking them with his top front teeth.  Amy at first thought that he had cut his gums, but once they were home and the bleeding cleared up, she discovered that he had actually hit his teeth hard enough to bruise his gums all the way up (I've got a photo, but you don't want to see it.).  At the dentist we learned that they are loose, but that should only last for a few days, along with the soreness.   There is a chance, however, that they might discolor, which was our fear.  We thought this happened when the nerves in a tooth died, but actually it happens when blood vessels are broken at the tooth's root and the blood enters the tooth.  A big silver lining is that Jackson is five and a half, which means he still has his baby teeth.  So while we really, really don't want his teeth to change color, it would be much, much worse if they were his permanent teeth.