Monday, July 31, 2006. Saturday was awesome, you can click here for a photo gallery from the 24th Annual Kibler Valley River Run. I only paddle that hard once every twelve months and I'm glad. My shoulders still hurt. I've got more photos to post, I haven't even started on the family photos yet.
On Sunday I took the kids to the playground so that Amy could have some quiet time for organizing our attic. We have held onto so much of our kids' stuff, I wouldn't be surprised to see things poking out of our chimney soon. Guess what, we were the only ones at the playground. Do you know why? Because nobody in their right mind takes their kids to the playground on a sunny afternoon in July. Later that night we went to our friends Jeff and Timmesa's house where our friend Sue cooked a delicious dinner. On our way out we decided to take Sam with us so that he and Jackson could have a sleep-over. Amy and the kids, her friend Timmesa and Matthew then hit the pool this afternoon. You know, it's only two weeks until school starts, so we've got to pack all the pool time in we can. Tomorrow Amy and the boys hit the pool again, this time with my sister Deana and my nephew Caleb.
Friday, July 28, 2006. We're home. We got back right around midnight last night after a long fun filled last day at the beach. I'll post more on that later. For now I have some new photos in the beach trip photo gallery. Tomorrow is race day in Kibler Valley, Virginia, wish me luck.
Thursday, July 27th, 2006. My birthday was awesome. Jackson and I spent hours in the surf while Ben and Amy played in the shade of the umbrella. Amy did manage to get Ben into the pools finally. He rode in his Big Bird float and wasn't afraid. He still hasn't been in the ocean, but at least he's getting into the water. Jackson had so much fun crabbing on Tuesday night, we went again Wednesday afternoon. Jeff had everything setup when we got there and almost everyone caught at least one. Ben caught one every time he pulled his line in. Amy's sister Sherry managed to catch the biggest. After releasing all the crabs, Ben went inside for a nap while Amy and Jackson played in the pool. We went to Damon's for ribs and they were awesome. We were later joined by our nephews Wesley and Jesse at the Family Kingdom amusement park. It's the Pavilion's last season and I had assumed we would visit it, but the Family Kingdom was a lot closer to the Crown Reef, our hotel, and we were tired. And since I grew up staying on the south-side of Myrtle, the Family Kingdom holds more memories for me anyway. We didn't get back to the hotel until midnight, by far the latest Ben has ever been up.
This morning we head out bright and early on a guided tour to a barrier island to look for sea shells. The tour is a gift from Sherry, Wesley, Jesse and Jeff. It should be a lot of fun. We have to check out of the hotel before we leave, but will be able to use Amy's sister's room as a base camp until we leave for home later this evening.
I've started a photo gallery for this year's trip to Myrtle Beach.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2006. Great time at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina so far. Monday - pool, then beach, break for lunch, then pool followed by beach, capped by shopping during a monsoon. Tuesday started with miniature golf, then the pool and the beach. Jackson can spend three hours getting pummeled by waves that are over his head. Ben will not touch the ocean, but likes the tidal pools, or the Baby Ocean as he calls it. It's sort of like the baby pool, which is the only pool he will go in. Our hotel has the longest lazy river in town, it seems to go on forever, and Ben will get in that, but only if he doesn't actually touch the water. I lie down on a tube and he rides on top of me, or Amy.
Last night our friend Jeff cooked everyone barbeque and wings, then took everyone crabbing. We almost caught three, but turned into the Keystone Cops when it was time to get the net. Today is my birthday and we plan on hitting the beach early. Tonight we will eat ribs next door at Damon's, one of my favorite rib joints. It's been torture smelling them all week.
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006. You know you have a three year old and a six year old when the first thing you do after reaching the coast is look for the hotel's lazy river instead of looking at the ocean. By the end of the day I think the ocean won Jackson's heart though. He's always been a wave lover, but this year he's really into them. Maybe it's because he doesn't mind swimming under water now or maybe it's because he got to ride a full sized boogie board for the first time. Ben's favorite things were the little shower that rinses your feet off after leaving the beach and the puddles around the pool. Those were the favorite things only till his cousins Wesley and Jesse arrived with their X-Box though. Ben finally got to play the new Cars video game and be "Mater." He was looking forward to that more than any other part of our trip.
Saturday, July 22nd, 2006. What a day! Ben visited with his Aunt Deana and Uncle Martin. Amy said that he cried when she picked him up because he didn't want to leave. He even napped on Deana at the Coffee Break in Stuart. He also came home with a toy Mater from the Cars movie. Ben talks about Mater all the time.
Jackson and Amy spent their day at Jackson's dojo's open house. I just finished posting a bunch of Amy's photos on the Mount Airy Martial Arts website if you want to see them. It sounded like it was both a success and a lot of fun. Jackson broke a board using a palm strike.
Me, I spent six hours of my day paddling in beautiful Kibler Valley. I had an awesome time. I am now exhausted though and will have to post about it later, it's bedtime!
Friday, July 21st, 2006. For the first time in awhile, I posted some new pics on Jackson's Karate Page. Jackson went to the Friday night beginner's class at his dojo to see his good friend, Eduardo, from kindergarten. We just found out that Eduardo has been taking karate at Mount Airy Martial Arts too and is now a yellow belt. He has to be one of the sweetest most good natured kids I've ever met. A real joy to be around. I hope he and Jackson can be in the same class again next year, but if not, at least they can now see each other at the dojo.
It was strange to see all the new four and five year olds in the class. It really took me back to when Jackson started. I still think of Jackson as being that little new four year old kid, but he isn't anymore and he's grown so much. Time really flies by.
Thursday, July 20th, 2006. Amy and the boys spent their morning at the pool and afternoon at the library where a park ranger from Pilot Mountain State Park gave a demonstration of scales and skulls. Jackson then went to his first karate class in three weeks. He is taking July off to focus on swimming and playing, plus we will be on vacation for a week, but he needed tonight as a tune-up for Saturday's Mount Airy Martial Arts open house.
Today I took what I call a "rolling lunch." That's where you opt to drive winding country roads rather than sit down and eat lunch somewhere. I rode along one of my favorites roads that follows Snake Creek through scenic mountain valleys north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. How could you not want to ride on a road that's just as winding as the creek it's named after? The only thing more refreshing than the cool air coming off the shady mountain stream beside Snake Creek Road this afternoon was the ice cold IBC black cherry soda I knocked back beside the parkway just before driving back down the mountain to Mayberry. I took the photos of the old water wheel after pulling over to photograph a weathered Snake Creek sign hanging on what appeared to be an old general store. As I was getting back on the bike I spotted another old building on the far side of a neighboring field. I rode across the field to see what it was and found the abandoned mill.
We've got a busy couple of days ahead of us, but then it's VACATION!!!.
Wednesday, July 19th, 2006. It's still hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch around here, so everyone stayed inside and close to the AC (note the photo of Ben and I lounging inside where it was nice and cool at lunch today). I think Amy and Deana might have gotten just a wee too much sun yesterday. It's back to the pool again tomorrow though. Today's other photo is from a cupcake making project with our friends Samuel, Matthew and Megan last week.
Tuesday, July 18th, 2006. Amy and the boys spent FOUR hours at the pool today with my sister Deana in temperatures close to a 100F. Deana treated the boys to snow cones, corn dogs, cotton candy, suckers and games in the arcade. Apparently they had quite a good time. Tonight Jackson continues his fun day with a sleep over at his Aunt Dee's house. It's his first sleep over since his night with Deana in March when Amy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. I'm sure that he, Deana and Martin are having a good time. We miss him though.
Last night we went to the mall in Winston-Salem. We stay busy doing a lot of things here at Life In Mayberry, but shopping isn't one of them. I'll give you a clue as to how long it's been since we went to the mall, Ben was looking for Santa Claus. Seriously, we haven't been to the mall since December. We needed to pick up some surf shirts and other items for the boys since we are going to the beach next week. Jackson loved shopping through the racks of clothes at Old Navy. He really is a lot like a miniature teenager. Somehow he managed to come out of the store with a whole lot of things that weren't on our shopping list.
Monday, July 17th, 2006. Besides a lot of the regular weekend type stuff, fun things like replacing a ceiling fan, replacing a window blind that broke while replacing the ceiling fan and cutting the grass, we did some really fun stuff, like all going to the pool together and enjoying the company of friends at our monthly Dinner Club. Have you ever seen the movie A Christmas Story? I turn into the dad from that movie whenever I have to tackle projects like putting in a ceiling fan. I am not a do-it-yourself kind of guy. If I once thought I was, experience has taught me otherwise. I used to get really grumpy halfway through projects. Now I save time by getting grumpy as soon as I open the instructions.
The pool was fun Sunday morning. It was the first time this Summer that all four of us have been to the big pool together. Jackson swam the entire width of the pool, went off the rope swing, diving board and water slide by himself. He also swam to the bottom to retrieve toys. This was definitely the year that the swimming thing clicked with him.
Dinner Club was fun as well. It's always nice enjoying a good meal with our good friends. This month's meeting was hosted by our friends Mike and Brooke in Winston-Salem. Ben has been on a Thomas The Tank Engine kick this week and was excited all day long about going to play trains with his friend Landon. This morning he asked "Are we going to see my buddy Landon?" I told him "yes, after we go to the pool." He said "No, I want to go now!" We repeated that conversation many times throughout the day. And now was pronounced something like now-uh. Very southern and definitely two syllables. Besides playing trains, both boys enjoyed playing with Landon and their friend Emma in Landon's pool. We host next month and are already looking forward to it. If possible, we are going to have it at the same place we rented in Kibler Valley for Father's Day. For more photos from July's Dinner Club, click here.
Wednesday, July 12th, 2006. I'm still trying to catch up on photos. I posted a bunch of photos to the newly created Seth's Birthday Party Page.
I posted four photos in the Greensboro Science Center gallery. Amy ran five miles on a very HOT and MUGGY North Carolina morning. And they ran up the last hill backwards. I was asleep while she was doing that. This afternoon they beat the heat by hitting the pool. Jackson is now going off the big diving board all by himself and swimming to the ladder. A lady who was in the water waiting for her daughter to jump in asked him if he needed help and he said "no thanks" and swam right by. Another big kid perk that he got today was three numbers programmed into a phone in his room. He is ecstatic about that. He kept dancing around saying "I've got SPEED DIAL!" We have a rule in our house that the kids can't answer the phone or make phone calls without permission. But having those three speed dial options made Jackson absolutely giddy. He is six going on thirteen and can't wait to be a teenager. He called Amy's cell phone, my cell phone (even though I was only in the kitchen) and his buddy Sam's house over and over until I cut him off for the night.
Tuesday, July 11th, 2006. I'm not caught up on photos yet, but I did get caught up on some movies. I thought these three were worth sharing...
Splits (1.5MB) Jul06 - Jackson... "ouch"
Belly Flop (1.3MB) Jul06 - our nephew Jimmy..."ouch"
WokkaWokka (3MB) Jul06 - BenBen... "couch" - Ben picked up Wokka Wokka from Fozzy Bear on the Muppets.
And I also put some of my friend Jeff's clips of other paddlers together and made a second video of Kibler Valley. Kibler Valley2 (7.5MB) Jul06 - assorted paddlers
Our nephew Jimmy started missing his family after about a week into his stay with us, which is understandable, so his dad came to pick him up this morning. Amy and the boys met them in Burlington to shorten Alan's drive. Since they were already in the neighborhood and since admission is free with our Sci-Works membership, Amy, Jackson and Ben went to the Greensboro Science Center. Or as Ben calls it, the Dinosaur House. read more...
Monday, July 10th, 2006. Sunday was awesome. Amy and my buddy Jeff both contributed to me being able to catch the Sunday release of water in Kibler Valley. Not only did I have a wonderful time, Jeff was there to document it for me. The photos and details from the river can be found here. I also have a 7.5MB Video if you're interested. Following that, we had my nephew Seth's first birthday party. It was a pool party and all the kids had fun. I'll have lots of photos from the party later, I'm a little behind. For now you can see a photo of Seth from the day he was born or you can see my sister Deana's photos on her blog. After the pool party we quickly changed clothes and headed to Winston-Salem with my grandmother, Deana and Martin to celebrate Hama's 87th birthday at a Japanese hibachi style steakhouse. I'll have photos from that too probably. Ben enjoyed it and ate and ate. Jackson enjoyed the show, although he did get burned a little on his finger. Jimmy impressed us all with his chop stick expertise. And I'm pretty sure that Hama had a good time and enjoyed the food. It was a very busy and fun day. Today the kids said "no" to all suggestions, opting instead to stay home and rest.
Congratulations Jesse! He got his learner's permit today and drove around town all day.
Saturday, July 8th, 2006. After picking Ben up this morning at my sister's house, the boys and I visited my grandmother. Ben enjoyed spending time in the garden with Hama. He picked green beans, cucumbers, banana peppers, cabbage and squash. By the time we finished in the garden, Hama went inside to pull out a small pound cake that she made special for the boys when she saw us pull up. It was DELICIOUS, served warm right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream. We also went in search for Ben's new calf. Papa gives each of his grandkids a baby calf when they are born. Once the calves grow up and start having calves of their own, the boys get to sell one cow a year and deposit the profits in their college fund. You can tell that we only visit the farm and don't live on it. I had to carry Jackson because he was afraid of stepping on a bee. I had to carry Ben because he was terrified that the cows were going to eat him. I know that was what he was afraid of because he said "They're going to eat me!" about a zillion times. Jimmy wasn't fond of stepping in the cow patties. So we called it quits before finding the calf. What we did find while crossing the creek though was a blackberry bush hanging over a small waterfall that had enough blackberries on it to make a pie. We picked the berries around 11AM and Amy had the cobbler out of the oven by 2PM. It too was DELICIOUS, served hot, right out of the oven with peach ice cream.
Tonight we went to Meadows of Dan, Virginia for my friend Anita's son's 2nd birthday party. That was a lot of fun too. They have such a beautiful place on the mountain and the boys enjoyed playing soccer and riding the battery powered four wheeler in their yard. Anita's little Jimmy, was very, very cute. It was also nice getting to see our friends Ken and Tonya and Anita's parents.
Friday, July 7th, 2006. The boys spent the morning on the playground, came home for lunch and for Ben's nap, then ran errands around town. After noticing on my sister's blog that my nephew Caleb had movie plans with a friend instead of his regular date night with Papa, we decided to let Ben spend the night at Papa's house so that everyone else could go to the movies. Jimmy and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean II. I watched the first one, Curse of the Black Pearl, for the first time last night and loved it. The second one, Dead Man's Chest, was awesome too. What a cliff hanger too, we can't wait for the next one. Amy and Jackson went to see Superman, which I saw with last week with my nephew Jesse. It is the most grown-up movie Jackson has seen to date and he was super excited. I was able to warn Amy about the scary previews that needed to be avoided. We usually don't go to that many movies, but we are on a roll this summer with Cars, Superman and Pirates, all of which we saw on the opening days.
Thursday, July 6th, 2006. I don't know who started it, but after each explosion of fireworks Tuesday night, the boys would yell "That's my style!" if they liked it or "Dinky" if they didn't. Ben picked up on this with a fervor and would excitedly point at each display and yell "That's MY style!!!!!!" When everything calmed down and we were back inside, Ben told me "Daddy, I got lots of styles."
Today's photo was taken last week when our nephew Jesse and Jackson were digging things out of the dress-up basket. You can check out some of our past photo projects here. read more...
Wednesday, July 5th, 2006. The photo on the right is an instant favorite. I was looking through the viewfinder, framing the photo of Ben on Jimmy's shoulder when, out of nowhere, Caleb came flying into the shot, making it waaay cooler. Independence Day was hot this year, very hot. Doing anything other than swimming seemed crazy. After picking up my nephew Caleb, we all accepted an invitation to swim in our friend Jenny's pool, since we knew our regular pool would be packed to capacity. Caleb and Jimmy had fun racing each other across the pool. Jackson and I joined them for diving competitions. You had to name your dive and the crazier the move, the more points you scored. Our nephew Bear, niece Isabelle, sister Melanie and my dad all joined us before the afternoon was over. And I want to repeat one more time, it was HOT, another 100F/38C day.
Ben and I took a nice afternoon nap while Amy made desserts for our cookout with our friends across town. A thunderstorm cooled things off just in time to go outside and watch the fireworks at Veteran's Park from their front yard. It was a nice holiday spent with family and friends. The only bad part was getting news late that Jimmy's grandfather and our friend, Larry, fell and injured his leg while traveling yesterday. For more photos from yesterday and from past Independence Days, click here.
Amy took the boys to Main Street today with stops at the train store, the pet store, the book store and the sporting goods store. The sporting goods store is a favorite of Jimmy's because of it's indoor basketball court. In the middle of all that, I met them at Barney's for lunch.
Monday, July 3rd, 2006. The pretty little poser in pink is our niece Nicole. We spent Saturday night and much of Sunday at Nicole's house in Colonial Heights. I told Nicole that she really knows how to smile for the camera. She said "Yeah, everybody wants me to go into fashion or be a model or something." Nicole's big brother Jimmy came home with us and will spend the next two weeks in Mayberry. The weekend was long, hot, tiring and extremely sad, but we got everything done that needed to get done and made it home safely... read more...