Wednesday, January 31st.  I'm not sure the kids will be able to go to sleep tonight.  Right now they are both in Jackson's bed with Amy.  The phone rang a few minutes ago.  I took it to Jackson in bed so that he could hear the announcement that school is cancelled tomorrow.  It's supposed to snow!

Monday, January 29th.

Sunday, January 28th, 2007. I spent a cold windy Sunday morning paddling choppy flat water on Lovill's Creek Lake with my friend Jeff.  My Element did fine, but Jeff's canoe was blown around like a sail boat when it wasn't sheltered from the wind.   The afternoon was spent at the Greensboro Science Center and the evening with friends from our Dinner Club.  Dinner Club was hosted this month by our friends in Greensboro, Brian and Jenny.

Saturday, January 27th, 2007.  We had our friends Jeff and Timmesa over for dinner and games last night.  It was a really fun evening of Twister, air hockey, video games, good food and drinks.  I love this photo of Samuel.  With Jackson's tie on him he looks like he's at a frat party.  Jackson decided to wear the same tie today, along with a bandana.  And anything big brother does, little brother has to do too.  It was a fun day that started with the boys throwing a welcome home party for Jackson's teddy bear, Love.  Jackson built Love two years ago at Build-A-Bear.   Jackson's 1st grade class had a teddy bear sleep over on Thursday night.  Jackson loves describing what the room looked like the next morning.  He can tell you what each student's bear did over night.  He said that he cried because everyone else found their bears, but his was missing.  He was afraid something had happened to Love, which is exactly why he was stressed out a little when he left him.  His good part on Thursday was that he forgot his backpack and had to run back to his classroom from the bus line to get it.  The good part was that it gave him one more chance to tell Love goodbye.   The whole class helped him look for his bear and they finally found him sitting on a shelf behind a curtain holding the assistant teacher's coffee mug and a bucket of KFC.  He was also missing his pants, which were later found under the teacher's desk.  Jackson loved the idea of his teddy bear streaking.  The couch was flipped over and empty honey-bun wrappers were all over the room.  It will probably be the highlight of Jackson's school year. 

Today we had our friend Megan over and enjoyed a beautiful day with her playing for hours outside.  When we looked through the day's photos, this was Jackson's favorite.  He's such a nut.

  

Friday, January 26th, 2007.  Jackson has the uncanny ability to fall for absolutely no reason at all.   He's been doing it his whole life.  More than once, right in the middle of dinner, he has fallen right out of his chair.  It amazes me that the child can fall while sitting down.  His problem is that he has tons of energy and never stops moving.  Yesterday, after getting dressed for karate class, he was in his room playing one last game of Cars on his PS2 when Amy heard something that sounded like his dresser falling over.  Jackson, in celebration over the results of his Cars race, had put one hand on the corner of his bed, then threw the rest of his body into the air.  With his body still in the air, his hand slipped off the bed, causing his face to hit the floor with out anything bracing the fall.  His knees also hit hard and are bruised.  He has a bruise on his face matching the shape of his frames from where his glasses pressed into his cheek.  Plus his fingers were hurt.  He was actually too beat up from playing a video game to go to karate.  Isn't that amazing.  I arrived home a few minutes later and found him focused on the pain in his knees.  When I asked him if he had seen his face yet, he hobbled over to a mirror.  I watched as his frown slowly turned into a big smile when he saw how black and blue his cheek was.  He turned around grinning and said "I hope it's still like that when I go to school tomorrow!"  Amy went to work, but instead of the boys and I going to karate, we settled in and watched How To Eat Fried Worms.  All three of us enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007.  Jackson studies Isshinryu Karate and Ju-Jitsu.  Over the past month or so, he's really stepped up his intensity level in both formats.  It's not been as much of an improvement in technique as it is an increase in strength and confidence.  I took some sequence photos of him grappling Tuesday night.  In this photo, his opponent goes for an O Soto Gari sweep, but Jackson uses his leverage to reverse the throw and get the take-down with his own O Soto Gari.  That same thing has happened to Jackson many, many times in the past, so it's a nice progression to see him now making that move.  In this photo he and his partner begin by standing together, each with a grip on the other's gi.  That sequence does a good job of showing Jackson's recent determination during the grappling matches.  Now look at this photo taken during Jackson's first sparring match on his first day of class almost two years ago?  His grappling partner on Tuesday, the other 2nd degree brown belt in the class, has equally made big strides in his strength and skill level, making their matches a lot of fun to watch.  I haven't been doing a very good job of updating the karate page lately, but I did post a few new photos tonight, including this photo of Ben in his new yellow belt and this photo of Ben practicing his jumping. 

Amy and Jackson visited my grandmother this morning.  Ben met her in the kitchen by saying "SURPRISE!!" and giving her a big hug.  He really loves her very, very much.  She's one of the few people he'll willingly give hugs to.  On the way, they also stopped by to see my dad and our nephew Seth, running into my sister Deana while they were there.

Amy and Jackson visited my grandmother this morning.  Ben met her in the kitchen by saying "SURPRISE!!" and giving her a big hug.  He really loves her very, very much.  She's one of the few people he'll willingly give hugs to.  On the way, they also stopped by to see my dad and our nephew Seth.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007. Ben's Pee Wee karate class starts an hour before Jackson's advanced youth class.  Jackson often takes photos while he's waiting.  He took this gem after Ben fell down and hurt his hand.  Only a big brother would think to take photos of his little brother crying.

Monday, January 22, 2007.  On Saturday, while Amy was at work I took the boys to my little sister's house to play with their cousins, who they saw a movie with earlier in the day with my older sister and our friend Sharon.  When I got back to town I found Amy shopping at Meadows Of Dan Trading Post on Main Street and surprised her with the news that we were going to eat out alone, without the kids, for the first time in months.  One of the sales people asked us if we had eaten at the Thai restaurant yet.  We hadn't, and it sounded fun, so Amy picked that as our destination.  We had an awesome evening out and both really liked our dishes and enjoyed the Thai beer.  When we arrived in Claudville to pick up the boys, we found everyone having lots of fun, prompting us to stay long enough for a round of Nickelodeon Scene It.  The kids beat the adults easily.   The next morning, our early worms, Amy and Jackson, woke first and spent a couple of hours talking and playing before the sleepy heads, Ben and I, finally crawled out of bed.  The rest of the day was spent at home playing and watching movies. 

One of the projects Jackson came up with on Sunday was to make a scene using construction paper for his superheroes.  He wanted to take a photo of them to use as the main photo on his website, something I've got to get around to making for him since he thinks he already has one.  The project prompted me to pull out our video camera to shoot the scene for Jackson.  There was a time, when Jackson was young, where we probably shot thirty minutes of video for every hour of his life.  I'm not really exaggerating that much.  You wouldn't believe the number of video cassettes we have.  Over the years though, more and more of our documentation shifted to the digital camera and the website.   And over the past two years, we've barely shot any film at all.  We also once routinely watched the videos with Jackson.  We would often consolidate them to VHS tapes and send them to Amy's mother.  I can't remember the last time we watched a home video though and I don't know if Ben has ever watched one.  So I dug through the stack of tapes and found one from when Ben was four months old and Jackson was three.  It was a lot of fun watching our chubby little Ben squeal and coo while Jackson kissed and kissed on him.  Jackson loved him so much that he had a hard time not smothering his little brother with affection.  It happened to be a month where Sue visited us, which made the tape difficult emotionally to watch.  But the boys enjoyed seeing themselves with their grandmother. And that was how we wrapped up the day, followed closely by me falling asleep with Ben, leaving Amy to watch her shows, Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters alone.  The only other show we watch is Grey's Anatomy, which I like just as much as her.

Friday, January 19th, 2007.   Ben and Amy went to the new playgroup's second meeting today.  Ben loves it.  Everything went great except that Ben made a scene when it was time to leave.  A pretty big scene from the sound of it.  My dad and our nephew Caleb came by tonight after dinner to play Junior Monopoly, Cars and air hockey with us.  The boys will see Caleb again tomorrow when they go to the movies with him. 

It's been a very wintry week, so Amy cooked lots of cold weather foods like chicken pie, vegetable soup and apple cobbler.  I love that kind of stuff.

And the biggest news this week is that Ben was awarded Yellow Belt status following Tuesday's belt test.  Way to go Ben!   

Monday, January 15th, 2007.  Yesterday's post was about how much Jackson enjoys walking Zorro.  Zorro gets four times as much exercise when we go for walks because he has to keep up with Jackson running all over the place.  Following that post, I was reminded of this one from another walk to the river when Jackson was ten months old.  In that post I said that it would be a lot of fun when Jackson was big enough to run and play with our dogs.  That seemed so far away at the time and now it's here.  And a post from 2003 shows Jackson and Zorro together on a hike to collect pine cones for a bird feeder project.  Amy and the boys made that same hike this morning to collect pine cones for the very same project. 

Go Hokies!!  There isn't a team in the country that wouldn't be happy with beating Duke and Carolina in the same week.  And we're finally ranked in the top twenty-five in both polls.

I've been too busy lately to spend a lot of time on the PC, but Ben has been spending some of his free time on Amy's laptop visiting Noggin to play Zack's Big Music Show.

Last week the kids made a birthday cake for Elvis.  Today they made a birthday cake for Martin Luther King Jr.  Amy described the conversation she had with Jackson about the holiday.  She told him that rules are made to protect people.  But that there was a time when the rules were not fair and didn't protect everyone.   She said it would be like if his teacher decided to give everyone with brown eyes in his class candy, but no one else.  They wouldn't think that was very fair.  Martin Luther King fought very hard to change the rules that were unfair.  I told her that I was very impressed with the way she explained that to Jackson.  Very simple and in a way that a six year old could relate to.  She then laughed and said that she actually read it online.  But she did get credit for researching ways to discuss with children Martin Luther King's contribution and why he was so important.

Jackson woke at five this morning to go to the gym with Amy.  It was his idea and he was extremely excited about it.  Going to the gym with his mom is like going to work with me.  He felt very big and proud.  They ran laps on the inside track, then laps around the parking lot.  Afterwards he said they should stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things like strawberries and grapes (he knew that his mom often stops by on her way home to pick up things we need.)  Amy's closing in on a year of going to the gym in the early am for boot camp, spin class, running and, most recently, Body Pump.  She impresses me with this daily.

Sunday, January 14th, 2007.  Everyone in our family agreed that today was a great day.  Very relaxed and very fun.  We've been taking the dogs on walks to the river behind our house for eight years now and they still love it.  Jackson adores walking Zorro.  He gets almost as excited as they do when we go for a walk.    Yesterday was a pretty good day too.  Most of it was spent at the Greensboro Science Center celebrating our friend Molly's sixth birthday (photos here.)  Both boys want to celebrate their birthday there this Spring.  Parties at the center have a really fun hands on animal clinic that both Jackson and Ben thoroughly enjoy.  After the party, Jackson ran around for hours laughing with his friend Emma.  I think they could have stayed in the weather center all day watching themselves on television.  On Friday Amy and Ben were able to participate in the first day of a new playgroup here in town.  I'm sure Ben will enjoy the additional chance to play with other kids each week.  Amy likes it because it give Ben another chance to interact with others without her having to leave him.  I can't remember anything else from the week other than Jackson doing really well in his karate class and on his report card.  He's gotten a lot stronger lately and it's fun watching him progress in his martial arts.  And we are always proud of how hard he works and how well he does in school.

Monday, January 8th, 2007.  On Friday night we had "fun night" at our house, with games of Lucky Ducky, Penguin Pile-Up, Monopoly Junior and on PS2, Finding Nemo.

Very good friends gave us a family membership to the NC Zoo for Christmas and on Saturday we took advantage of the beautiful 70F/21C day by making our first trip there in over a year.  Amy had to work, so it was just the boys and I, but we had a very nice visit.  It was sad to take our Zoo Bench photo without Amy in it though.  Click here to read more about the zoo and to see all the photos.

On Sunday, we took advantage of a rainy day by going to see Night At The Museum (very funny).

Today, Amy and the boys celebrated Elvis' birthday by watching Aloha from Hawaii and by baking him a birthday cake.  And tonight, both Amy and I worked, so Papa came to the house to play with the boys.

   

Friday, January 5th, 2007. I had an awesome time running section III of the Dan River on New Year's Day with fellow paddlers James, Joe, Will and Tom.  Whitewater kayaking is a hobby that depends very much on rainfall.  I think paddlers probably watch the weather more than farmers.  Two recent rains, followed by the inch and a half of rainfall on New Year's Eve, gave us a fantastic amount of water on New Year's Day.  Halfway down the river I tried surfing a big fun looking wave called Lunch Stop and ended up going for my first swim of the year.  That was pretty exhilarating.  And tiring.  And fun.  The above photos were taken by Will as we paddled down a swollen creek that poured into the Dan.  Running that little creek was fun too.   Lots of fun.  To read more about all that fun and to see all the photos, click here.

Thursday, January 4th, 2007.  It's time for my list of favorite Photos from 2006.  This year I narrowed my list of favorites down to sixty.  Last year I had  eighty-seven.  There are six categories with ten photos in each group.  To see all sixty photos that comprise my Favorites Of 2006 list, click here. I didn't notice until I finished that Ben is wearing something on his head in all ten of his photos.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007. Wow, that was a whole week without a post.  After not missing a single daily post in 2004 and 2005, I definitely relaxed a little with the website in 06.  As the boys get bigger and bigger, we just keep getting busier and busier leaving less time to document all the stuff we're doing.  Since my last post, Amy's brother Alan and his family visited us.  Jackson thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend more time with his cousin Nicole and I got schooled by my nephew Jimmy in Madden 07.  We met on Main Street for lunch at Barney's on Friday.  I then went back to work while everyone else visited the shops on Main Street, including the candy store, pet store, bookstore and soda shop.  Jimmy made his usual stop in at the sporting goods store for a game of basketball on their indoor court. 

Amy put the air hockey table together and found a perfect place for it in our laundry room.  It's been a big hit and is in frequent use.   Especially while Jimmy and Nicole were here.  Jackson loved the High School Musical concert that he went to with is Aunt Deana.  I can't believe how close to the stage he got to sit.  We've taken the new remote controlled monster truck for a drive in the woods.  The boys and I have spent lots of time playing with Ben's new pirate play-sets.  Between both boys, we now have five pirate ships that are currently setup as one big armada in the dining room.  After telling the boys that pirates call treasure "booty", they now love to pick up the little toy treasure boxes, shake them, then say in a pirate's voice "Arghh, I'm shakin me booty!" 

We visited my grandmother on Sunday, helping her take down her Christmas decorations while we were there, then spent the evening with friends here in town.  While there, we played one serious high-pressure game of Jenga, a semi-serious round of High School Musical DVD trivia and lots of other new Christmas games.  By midnight everyone was sound asleep.  I managed to wake up just in time to snap our 11:59pm photo of the boys, but it was the first year that Amy and I didn't watch the New Year's Eve television specials.  The boys went to a very fun Charlotte's Web birthday party at the cinema for our buddy Samuel on New Years Day while I white-water paddled.  Amy and the boys spent today at Sci-Works in Winston-Salem.  This evening we celebrated Sam's actual birthday at his house.  And that pretty much catches everything back up to where we are now!  I can't believe Life In Mayberry now has eight years listed on the top bar.