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Monday the 31st.  The boys received money in the mail from their Grandma Sue ear-marked for a trip to Build-A-Bear.  Jackson couldn't wait to go, so as soon as I got home from the office, we drove to Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem.  Jackson adored it and made the most of each step.  He made a bear named Love and helped Benjamin make a very cuddly Elmo.   Benjamin spent most of his time in the store walking around, yelling, talking to customers, and pushing an Elmo in a baby stroller. It was a nice end to the month.

Sunday the 30th. Last night brought freezing rain.  And this morning brought the big melt.  By the time Jackson and I went back out for more play this afternoon, we had to look for spots that still had snow.  I love watching Jackson snowboard, because he is really good at it.  But all he wanted to do was roll in the mush and bury his teenage mutant ninja turtle toy.  I only got him to take about three short little runs on the board before he was ready to move on to something else.  On a whole, it was a pretty lazy day around the Heath house.  Everyone seemed a little tired, maybe we played too hard yesterday.  By late in the day, the boys had no energy at all and could barely stay awake...until bedtime, then they sprang right back to life.

Click here to see Jackson Snowboarding.

Saturday the 29th.  Yeah, it snowed!!!  The flakes were so big, it looked like the clouds were breaking apart and falling to Earth in chunks.  Jackson and I went outside to try his new snowboard.  Jackson did awesome.  He made it down most hills without falling and tried going down some REALLY big hills.  We also got to play with Papa who stopped by in his four-wheel drive.  A group of teenagers were crashing their way down the big hill behind Tharrington Elementary.  They seemed pretty surprised when a sixty year old man and four year old boy flew passed them in a sled.  The kids yelled "They're going to get killed!".  But Papa and Jackson were the only ones I saw make it to the bottom without bailing out.   Jackson is the most temperature tolerant person I know.  Heat, Cold, neither effects him.  He rolls in the snow, keeps his face covered with it, but when he finally hits the wall... he really hits it.  This time Papa got the job of pulling Jackson home in the sled.  Then when we got home, Jack hit the tub and Ben hit the snow.  Benjamin liked the sled rides the most and didn't want to come back inside.  The rest of the day has been as much fun as the snow...  We've played Pop-Up Pirate (new game - lots of fun), had hot cocoa with whipped cream (Patti gave it to us for Christmas and it was delicious) (and maybe just a splash of Crown for Dad, like at the ski lodge or Mike's cabin, just for old time's sake), ate home-made waffles and sausage for supper (Ben ate syrup, when he couldn't dip anymore he rubbed his hand on the plate and then licked it clean.), and played with Grandma Sue via the web-cam. 

            

Friday the 28th.  Tonight we saw Sponge Bob: The Movie at our theater on Main St.  We are now back home, Ben is in bed and Jackson's bedtime story, Harry The Dirty Dog, is being read.   

Thursday the 27th. We would like to say "Hello!" to Scott and Cherry Bearer who we heard from this week.  Scott and Cherry were married in Taiwan, live in Michigan, are moving to Maryland, and will be celebrating their marriage in Pennsylvania this May.  We look forward to seeing Scott and many other old friends, as well as to meeting Cherry in Jennerstown.

  Amy and the boys spent the morning at Sci-Works and the afternoon playing at the house with Matthew who stopped by after school.

Go Hokies!  After beating rival UVA in their first game as conference foes, Va Tech is tied with Wake Forest for third place in the ACC.

Today, on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I recall this line from Elie Wiesel's Night as I watch the survivors gather in remembrance... "Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever." 

Wednesday the 26th. I received these photos of our nephew Caleb and Niece Isabelle today.  Did I tell everyone that Caleb and Izzy are going to have a baby brother or a baby sister this year.  We are all very excited about it.  We have five babies so far to look forward to in 2005 and at least three weddings.

I think things have been relatively quite around the house this week, work has been busier than normal, so I haven't been around that much.  Amy has unplugged the television this week, replacing the television time with even more playtime, projects, and music than normal.  It has been an adjustment for Benjamin (he might be a Sesame Street addict!  His face beams and he dances if you play the theme song for him), but we think the new schedule leaves him happier at the end of the day.  He still gets to see a little of our favorite shows, but it has mostly been reduced to those few times a day when a baby sitter is critical, like when a shower needs to be taken or dinner put in the oven. 

Tuesday the 25th. I had to drive into the mountains to find it, but I finally got to see a little snow. 

 

Monday the 24th.  After school and naptime, the boys went to the library and to the bookstore.  Our favorite bookstore, Page's, has been sold.  In my early twenties the owners ordered book after book after book for me, all the Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Hesse that I couldn't find on the shelf anywhere in town.  And when Amy moved to town, it became her favorite bookstore too.  The boys have spent many an afternoon in the children's corner.  So we will all miss it, and though we are sure the new owners will have a nice bookstore too, we are not fans of change.  The old bookstore was very "no frills".  The new one will have couches, the comic books are gone, and a coffee shop is replacing the current children's corner.

Sunday the 23rd.    We hosted dinner club and enjoyed having company over to watch the NFC and AFC championship games with us.  Unfortunately the Falcons and Steelers both lost.  I've been a Steelers fan since the seventies and was really hoping that they would win the Super Bowl this year.   It was a terribly cold and windy day that resulted in more regional Internet problems.  So after the guests had gone home and the kids were ready for bed, I went into the office to deal with problems there.  But back to sports, how about our Hokie men's basketball team?  Fourth place in the ACC?  What's that all about?

And sadly Johnny Carson passed away earlier today.

Saturday the 22nd. We were looking forward to celebrating Molly Hunt's birthday at ArtQuest in Greensboro, but freezing rain kept us off the roads.  It was also too icy for Amy to go to work, so it was a family day at home.  We've all been a little accident prone today, but still had lots of fun.  Jackson and I head butted during horseplay early this morning, then Benjamin flipped over the arm of the couch.  At least I think that is what happened, because immediately following the big thump he was laying between the couch and the television crying.    He later fell off the couch again while watching Jackson and I play outside.  Jackson was hit in the head with a box, pinched his finger in a step stool, and was bumped in the head with a chair while playing under the table.  This afternoon Benjamin whacked Amy in the head with a book while she was taking a moment to close her eyes and rest.  With all of our bad luck, you would think that Jackson and I would have stayed off the ice, but instead we decided to go sledding on the wet semi-frozen grass (when life give you lemons, you make lemonade...we've given up on waiting for snow!) and it was actually a lot of fun.  Jackson enjoyed busting through the frozen mud puddles in his frog boots.  We eventually started to freeze up ourselves, so Jackson hopped in the sled and I started home with him in tow.  About halfway home Jackson jumped from the sled, hurting his hand when he landed on the ice.  I think we had a few other mishaps and bumps along the way, but it was really nice spending the day together. 

                       

Friday the 21st. Is the inauguration over yet?  I've been afraid to turn on the radio or television to find out.  I've got the red state blues and my only comfort is denial.

Thursday the 20th. After eating his weight in meatballs, Benjamin managed to eat all the jelly off his biscuit without actually eating any of the biscuit itself.  He is laughing at me because I burned my hand on the hot biscuit I was trying to cool off for him.  It turned into about a twenty minute game for him.

Wednesday the 19th.  Jackson brought a book home from school that he and his classmates made about snow.  He read it to us at lunch and told us who made each page.  And while we hear that snow fell on Grandma Sue's house today, we are once again left looking up wondering when our flakes will start falling.  Hopefully that will be soon and the snow sled can come out of storage.  It will be very sad if Jackson doesn't get to go sledding a single time as a four year old.  We got Jackson's snow sled when he was Ben's age, so I guess that means Benjamin is old enough to go sledding too.

Tuesday the 18th. The boys were able to stay home in their PJs and out of the bitter cold today.  It finally got cold enough last night for Emma to want to come inside.  And she never wants to do that.

 

Monday the 17th.  My sister Deana left her new Canon Powershot Pro1 with me for a couple of hours yesterday, so I took a bunch of Benjamin photographs.  I've got serious camera envy, the Pro1 is sweeeet.

On a day that CNN's headlines report on the continued violence in Iraq, possible plans to attack Iran, and the Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy remembered, I'll give you this quote "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. "- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Amy spent time this morning telling Jackson about the MLK Day holiday and about the man.  She told him that Martin Luther King had a dream that everyone would get along and treat each other fairly.  When they got to school Jackson saw the photos on the wall honoring soldiers currently overseas.  Jackson asked which one was Martin Luther King.  She told him that none of them were.   Jackson said "If today is Martin Luther King Day, then why don't they have his picture up too?"  That was a question Amy couldn't answer, so Jackson decided that he wanted to see a picture of Martin Luther King Jr., but wanted one on paper he could color.  And through the power of Google, it only took a few seconds to come up with one.  (I wonder how long it would have taken to produce a MLK JR. coloring page before the Internet?)  After coloring each page Jackson wanted to know if it looked kingly.  Then Jackson said "I know what King Arthur should have said, (realizing he had said the wrong name he added ...sometimes I like to call Martin Luther King King Arthur)" Jackson then continued"...he should have said 'I have a dream that you can all help come true.'"  While a four year old may confuse the Reverend King with King Arthur, he will probably understand his message better than many adults.

Tonight we had friends over for dinner and dessert.  Megan and Benjamin danced to the new Ray Charles CD we got for Christmas, while Jackson, Samuel, and Matthew played in Jackson's room.

Sunday the 16th.  My sister Deana and friend Sharon took Jackson, Caleb, and Izzy to see Racing Stripes this afternoon.  Jackson had fun and liked the movie.

Saturday the 15th. We enjoyed our visit with Mo, Papa, Melanie, Eric, and Izzy in Claudville that included pizza, pie, and a game of Scene It? Disney Edition.

Happy Eleventh Anniversary Jeff and Timmesa!

Friday the 14th. Last week Jackson stopped by the office, this week it was Benjamin making the rounds.   Last night at 8:30 it was sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit/eighteen degrees Centigrade outside.  Then overnight a storm blew through bringing not only heavy rains, lightning and wind, but also the return of winter.  We awoke to rapidly dropping temperatures, a cold gray sky, and a very wet city.  Which made the home-made soup and warm banana-gooey cake  a very welcome treat when I came home from the office.

Thursday the 13th. We love the "little old man" button-up pajamas on the boys and think that Benjamin looks especially cute in them.  A couple of years ago it was the Christmas for DVD players.  I think this Christmas was the season for digital cameras.   We know tons of people with nice new cameras and look forward to getting lots of digital pics in the mail.  My little sister Melanie has a new digital camera and sent a photo of my nephew Caleb and a photo of my niece Izzy today. 

Wednesday the 12th. Somebody told us "enough with the lake pictures, let's see the boys!"  So here you go, a picture of Ben, fresh out of the tub, admiring his chubby little toes and a picture of Jackson coloring spaceships in the kitchen.  Jackson said that he had "a sad day at school", but then got to go to the Eads' house to see Sam's new train table.

Tuesday the 11th.  Sam and Jack spent the morning playing really well together.  I think Amy said the game was Thomas meets all of Jackson's superheroes one at a time.  After lunch, a man stopped by to give Amy an estimate on replacing our bathroom sink and countertop.  He went in the bathroom, measured for awhile, looked under the sink, and did the typical estimate stuff.  After he had finished and walked outside, Jackson ran into the bathroom, then ran outside behind him and said "I just wanted to tell you that the sink looks pretty much the same."

Benjamin, at nineteen months, is stuck on full throttle.  When I walk in the door he comes running with his arms up, which is very sweet.  But he then starts kicking me and bucking like a cowboy would when he wants his horse to start running really fast.  He wants you to jump, and run, and dance, and bounce him on the bed, and put him up on top of the counters.  And if you don't, he lets you know exactly what he thinks about it.

Monday the 10th.  Here are a few photos from yesterday's paddle on Lovill's Creek Lake in Cana, Virginia.  You'll find all the details and photographs on The Paddle Page.

I also have a short 40 second clip from the trip.  Click HERE to watch it.

  

Sunday the 9th.  A great day that started with homemade waffles and ended eating popcorn while watching SuperBabies 2 (the commercials have really cracked Jackson up).  In between we had some flat-water kayaking, a hike behind our house to the Ararat River, and dinner at Chili Verde.

Happy Birthday Jesse!!!

Saturday the 8th. Sendella and Greg King brought their three month old baby Evan by tonight for a visit.  Evan is terribly sweet.  Jackson, of course, loved having a baby in the house.  The day was filled with lots of activities.  Jackson made a poster demonstrating the water cycle and had to give Greg and Sendella individual reports on it.  We also played Candy Land, Battleship, Checkers and played in the backyard.  Benjamin climbed into the tree-house by himself for the first time.  

                

Friday the 7th.  Last year we had our first snow in early December and then continued to get snowfall all through January.  Not that I am complaining about our stretch of sixty degree weather, I'm not, I love it.  I just can't help but think of all the fun snow stuff we're missing too.

Thursday the 6th. The big news today is that Landon Joyce is going to have a baby sister in 2005!  And if you are following our sleep soap-opera, Ben slept all night long in his crib which meant that mom and dad had a full night's sleep too. 

Wednesday the 5th.  Jackson said that his first day back to school was "a great day."  Benjamin has been waking up every night at 12:30 and not going back to sleep for hours, so Amy took him to Dr. Gale in King.  The appointment was at five, so Jackson spent the last part of the workday with me at the office.   He had been asking us when take-your-son-to-the office day was, so that was the first thing he thought of when he found out he was coming to my office.   Amy told him that, yes, it was take your son to the office day.  He was extremely happy about that and showed up with a whole backpack full of tools.   He helped me out with lots of big projects before I could convince him it was time for dinner.  We then went to a neighborhood birthday party while we waited for Ben and Amy to get home.  We were really hoping that Benjamin was sick and not just being hard to get along with.  But it turns out he has no teeth coming in and only a very, very mild ear infection.  So we'll just go to bed tonight with our fingers crossed I guess. 

Tuesday the 4th.  Amy, Jackson, and Benjamin went for a walk this morning following Jackson's haircut.  The boys paid a visit to City Commissioner Mr. Mike's train store, Talley's Frame Shop, and enjoyed a cold Coca-Cola from "a glass bottle".  After lunch they met the Eads at Sci-Works in Winston-Salem.  Then just before dinner we all went outside for some fun with the hover disc.  Right after bath and before bed, we talked with Grandma Sue while she watched the boys via the webcam.  Then we wrapped the night up with a game of Battleship (Jackson skunked me, he really did) and a story before bed. 

Our Hokies lost by three in a defensive struggle with a very fast Auburn team at the Sugar Bowl.  If ifs and buts ... the missed 23 yard field goal, the dropped end zone pass on fourth and goal from the one.   Oh well, it was a great season, the defense played awesome, lots to be proud of and lots to look forward to next fall. 

Monday the 3rd.  Another beautiful day, the boys enjoyed playing outside all afternoon with friends from next door.  Tonight Virginia Tech plays in the Sugar Bowl against a very strong Auburn team.  It should be a good game and hopefully one that we will win.  There is no reason that we shouldn't.  If we can beat Miami in Miami, then we can beat Auburn in the Sugar.   Hopefully the dome will be packed with Hokies.  I just got a call from my friend Mike who was in a conference room inside the Sugar Bowl with the Hokie marching band in the background.  Cheer loud guys!!!!

Sunday the 2nd. We started the day by taking down the tree, packing up the Christmas decorations, and mowing the lawn (we've got to have that grass good and short in case it decides to snow one day!)  The afternoon was spent at the Eads house celebrating with our friend Samuel Eads who turned four years old today.  He had a very fun SpongeBob SquarePants/dipping party on a beautiful sixty-five degree day.  It was fun seeing baby Ryan crawling everywhere and pulling up, just think, he wasn't even here on Samuel's last birthday.  You can tell we don't get to see Ryan very much because we took a ton of photos of him.  Or maybe he is just that cute.  Click here to go to Sam's Birthday Page and see all the party pics from today and from last year.

 

Saturday the 1st.  What a wonderful part of the world to live in.  It could be snowing this time of year or it could be a day like today, an incredible seventy-six degrees.  We took Ben, Jackson, and Megan for a walk to Miss Etta's playground.  It was nice to go for a stroll, we haven't been able to do that for at least a month.  Amy made us a big traditional New Years lunch with ham and black-eyed peas.  She also made her delicious from scratch Paula Deen stuffing and apple glaze for an ice cream dessert.