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Sunday, February 28th, 2010.  Great weekend, we managed to complete a bunch of projects, like painting the bathroom.  We watched a bunch of good movies.  The boys were thrilled to get to stay home ALL day today and to have absolutely NOTHING to do for a change.  I rolled my kayak bare handed twice at the pool (that's a pretty hard thing to do).  Amy ran nine miles this morning.   (that's a really hard thing to do)  On Saturday, Amy and I went to a very fun game night at Deana and Martin's house while my mom stayed with the boys.  Just an all around nice weekend, capped off by Ben finally loosing his wiggly top front tooth.  Click here for a video of Ben's new smile (2MBs). 

Thursday, February 25th, 2010. Ben adores little Anne Rachel.  He even allows her to give him those big wide-open kisses that one year olds give.  In today's photo, Anne Rachel is eating a Valentine's Day cookie.  In the other, she is watching big fluffy snow flakes fall.  Amy watches Anne Rachel three days a week and Brett one.  Today Brett was at the house.  He has the most amazing vocabulary.  I think it doubles each week.  And if he doesn't know the word for something, he points at it and asks "What that?"

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010.  On Saturday, while I paddled in the mountains, Amy, Jackson and Ben visited Sci-Works in Winston-Salem.  An older volunteer told Amy that he remembered them visiting when the boys were smaller.  I'm not surprised, because according to our Sci-Works page, the boys have made at least 24 trips to the center over the last six years.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010.  On Saturday, following Jackson's basketball game, I drove two hours to Wilson Creek, on the far side of Lenoir, just inside the Pisqah National Forest.  Three of my last five paddling trips have been to Wilson Creek and I'm quickly getting hooked on it.  It is a challenging run with five class IV rapids and lots of other ledges and boulder gardens to work through.  It is drop pool, which means that most big rapids or ledges are followed by deep calm pools of water.  That, combined with the fact that it is roadside, makes it a great, safe place to work on your creeking skills.  It is also beautiful.  You get to soak in the scenery while paddling through the quiet, crystal clear pools.  You paddle past fly fishermen and hikers in a remote, fir lined gorge covered in giant round boulders.   Occasionally a family will be sitting on one of the boulders enjoying a picnic, waving as you float past.  The water is amazingly clear and you can see the riverbed perfectly, even when the depth appears to be as much as six or seven meters.  In those deep, shaded pockets, the water often has a slight green hue.  Because of the challenging nature of the run though, I don't pull the camera out very often.  I usually make one lap with the camera stowed in the back of the kayak, then pull it out once or twice during the second lap.  On each of my last three trips to WC, I've paddled with Patrick, an excellent kayaker from Winston-Salem.  On Saturday, we were joined by Pete from Boone on our second lap.  Pete had some amazing play-boating skills.  I had the camera out below 10 Foot Falls to take a photo of Patrick as he ran the drop, then turned to Pete and asked him to get vertical while I had the camera out.  I only snapped one pic, but was really happy with it.  I'm already looking forward to my next afternoon spent paddling the gorge.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010.   What a great weekend, other than Jackson's team loosing their tournament game.  Beautiful weather, which is something that we have not seen a lot of this Winter.  On Sunday, Amy ran 8 miles while the boys and I relaxed at home.  That afternoon Amy took our friend Mandy to a Junior Women's Club Social while the boys and I spent the afternoon outside enjoying the warm weather.  We walked on the new trail along the Ararat, played baseball at the park, went sledding on some of our remaining snow and shot basketball.  That evening we joined our dinner club friends in Greensboro where the Hunts hosted a fantastic fish fry.  I stopped at a gas station on our way home that was beside a Dunkin Donuts store.  Amy and the boys went in to check it out and came away with free donuts for both Ben and Jackson.  Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot Ben said "Man, these donuts smell BAD!!  Oh gross, they smell TERRIBLE."  <pause>  "Wait, maybe that's me.  I've been pooting a lot today.  Oh yeah, that's me.  Oh, and that does smell BAD!!"              


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010.  We live a fairly scheduled life.  I'm a stickler for things like getting the kids to bed on time.  I believe that having a routine that includes consistent bedtimes and mealtimes pays huge dividends in the boys' dispositions, their ability to concentrate and their ability to fall asleep each night.  Thanks to this year's Winter weather though, our schedules have been all over the place.  Going to bed late, waking up late.  Or too early.  This morning's wrinkle was a two hour school delay.  After getting to play for two extra hours, Ben did NOT want to leave the house and go to school.  We got him there.  It wasn't pretty.  It was a bumpy ride.  He was late.  But we did get him there.

Jackson found out today that the regional science fair will be Saturday morning in North Wilkesboro at the exact same time as his basketball team's first round tournament game here in Mayberry.  I just really, really hate that.  I know that he absolutely LOVES basketball and it might be his last game for a whole year.  At the same time, taking part in the science fair, along with the top six students from seventeen other schools, would be a great experience and a big memory for him.   It's rotten that he has to choose.  The penalty for being a well rounded kid I suppose.              

Monday, February 15th.  Ruby Sue has been with us for exactly one year.  It snowed Friday night, then again this morning.   I believe that brings us to snowfall number five this season!  The flakes this morning were enormous and quickly covered the ground.  The school system decided to not release the kids from school however, waiting instead to release at the regular time.  I applaud that decision because the roads this morning were in terrible condition.  By this afternoon they were almost completely clear and far safer for travel.  

Sunday morning, Amy ran 6.5 miles in sub-freezing temps, while I baked her a surprise Valentine's Day Big Top cupcake.  Following church, we visited my grandmother in Claudville.  Her sister passed away earlier in the week and it's been too long since our last visit.  Also Jake, her 23 year old beagle died last week.  Jake not only managed to live an incredibly long time for an outdoor pet, he survived multiple life threatening events in order to do so.  Once back in Mayberry, I cooked a dinner of enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, corn, rice, queso dip and salad.  I have a very, very small cooking repertoire that includes Mexican, grilled cheese sandwiches, omelets and steaks/hamburgers/hot dogs.  So when I cook, it's always from that menu.  I did make Amy and I delicious hot fudge cakes from the left over cupcake pieces though.  Ben watched Beauty and the Beast with her.  Jackson spent his day dunking basketballs in his room on his new indoor hoop.  The Valentine's cake actually made it all the way until lunch today before getting cut.  For his Valentine, Jackson had a rose delivered.  Unfortunately his girlfriend was out of town playing basketball, but after a little scrambling, we found a round-about way to get the flower to her. 

Jackson played his last regular season basketball game Saturday morning, ending the year with a 2-4 record.  His team had a good practice tonight, so hopefully they will fair well during this weekend's tournament.  Ben is teetering between playing another year of tee-ball or moving up to coach pitch.  I'm not sure which one he will choose.  Jackson will definitely play in the Spring soccer league.  We are looking forward to both of those seasons and are also looking forward to warm weather.              

Friday, February 12th, 2010.  At Ben's dojo, they play a game called How High Can You Fly?  The kids love it.  And in Ben's case, the answer is surprisingly high.  The kid can jump.  More high flying photos on Ben's karate pageWe had a great day.  Ben enjoyed his Valentine's Day party at school and came home with a big bag of cards and candy.  Amy enjoyed his party as well and her idea of decorating cookies with the class was a big hit.  Jackson won third place in his science fair.  I am really proud of him, his idea and the amount of work that he was willing to put into it.  I'll post photos from his project later.  While Amy was at Ben's party, I spent my lunch break playing guitar at the house and was able to be there when Anne Rachel woke up, which was a lot of fun.  Earlier in the day Anne Rachel went with Amy to both schools, delivering supplies for their respective parties.  And tonight, Ben attended his martial arts class.            

Thursday, February 11th, 2009.  A tree in our backyard blew over during yesterday's high wind, crushing our fence and the entire corner of our neighbor's privacy fence.  Not cool.  We were fortunate in one respect though, because it almost hit our storage building as well.  Today's photos of our backyard were taken during this season's third snowfall.            

Wednesday, February 10th, 2009.  Apparently Anne Rachel is a big fan of the new Chocolate Cheerios and joins Amy and many others in the chorus of "Chocolate Cheerios, where have you been all my life?"  The phone rang this morning, just as Jackson was exiting the shower, to notify us that school would be on a two hour delay.  When I broke the news to him, the expression on his wet face said "Now?  You are seriously telling me this NOW?"  The delay was due to black ice, which was a result of the simply artic temps and incredibly high winds Mayberry is experiencing today.  Where was Amy at that moment?  Out running four miles in the dark with little Anne Rachel's mom somewhere on that fine line between dedicated and looney.  It was too cold for me to pump more than six dollars worth of gas into the car on my way to work, so I couldn't imagine running for four miles.            

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010.  Click here for an eight minute video recap from our eight days at Disney(21MBs).   The three largest snowfalls of Jackson and Ben's lives have all occurred this Winter.   The third of those snow events happened over the past week, knocking out yet another of Jackson's basketball games.  This time the snow was followed by massive amounts of rain, quickly turning the 4-5 inches of powder into a deep pile of slush.  We had a nice long weekend though, watching movies, playing board games, video games and chess.  I think we are all ready for Spring to arrive though.          

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010.  Click here to see how we spent our sunny Sunday Snow Day (15MBs).          


Monday, February 1st, 2010.   Sunday was sunny, warm and perfect for sledding.  Ben and Amy joined us this time.  We played Snow Spy in the woods behind the house.  Amy and Jackson won.  Ben played on the playground and slid down Tharrington Hill a few times.  Jackson slid down it many, many times.  To kick things up a notch, we added Jackson's skate board ramp to the mix.  The trick was to make the jump, then fall off before crashing into a ditch full of rocks.  We had a big crowd from the neighborhood up on the big hill this time, which was nice.