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Thursday, June 28th, 2007. Today I'm posting a couple of photos that I found when I looked back through the zillion we took.  One is yet another photo of Jackson and Ben snuggled as close as they can get to Amy.   One photo is of our nephew Jesse enjoying his visit to Chuck E Cheese with Amy and the boys.  And the third photo shows how much Jackson and Ben enjoy time with their cousins.  In this case, it was Jimmy and Nicole in Colonial Heights, Virginia.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007. Today's photos are some Amy took of our little pool rats over the last month.  You'll find a couple in there of the boys dunking their easy going cousin Jesse.  Their cousin Isabelle and aunt Deana are in there too.  I understand that one of the highlights from the pool this summer for the boys has been getting to go to the snack bar all by themselves to buy Cow-Tails and Airheads.   Jackson also enjoys having a little more freedom this year.  If Jesse is at the pool with him, Jackson gets to go off the diving board, rope swing and water slide as much as his little body can take while Amy and Ben play in the shallow end.  I'm really happy that they are having a fun Summer.

Monday, June 25th, 2007.  Amy takes the boys to the pool anywhere from three to five days a week.  They sometimes stay for hours on end and eat lunch at the pool.  They were at the pool so much last year that we never got around to buying a kiddie pool for fun around the house.  I thought Ben would enjoy one this year though and I didn't really feel like fighting the weekend crowd at the big pool, so we bought a small pool for the kids to play in.  You may have noticed that both Ben and Jackson were swimming in costumes.  Ben said he was a "Lion King".  Jackson wore his Thing costume from the Fantastic 4.  I'm not sure why they decided to swim while wearing costumes, but it wasn't the first time they've done that.     Maybe it's to cut down on the areas needing sunscreen.

Our nephew Jesse gets to stay until Friday.  The boys will miss him terribly when he's gone.  I think Jackson hugs and kisses on Jesse more than he does us.    Amy and I will miss Jesse too.   It's so nice having someone that can stay at the house with one the boys.  It saves a lot of time to not have to load everyone up just to run a five minute errand.  We bought a futon for the playroom and Jesse has been sleeping in there.  That arrangement has worked out well, but only a sixteen year old could sleep through the noise our boys make each morning.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007. This was Ben's first year at Arts Alive and Jackson's fourth.  Arts Alive is a theater summer camp at The Andy Griffith Playhouse sponsored by The Surry Arts Council.  The younger kids go the first week and the older kids go the following week.  The parade and show on the last day of the second week are always fun.  Jackson really enjoys being on stage and while Ben was pretty quiet, he did great too.  Our niece Isabelle also participated this year.  And the boys had friends from school, pre-school and karate on stage with them.  Click here for photos from past Arts Alive parades.


Wednesday, June 20th, 2007.  For the third straight year, we celebrated Father's Day in Kibler Valley, Virginia.  We were happy to have our friends the Eads join us this year and were also pleased to have Jesse with us for another Father's Day weekend.  Jesse is not only lots of fun and a great guy, he's TONS of help with the kids.  When you have a fast moving river and kids running around, you can use all the eyes you can get.  This year, in contrast to the past two years, the hydro station released water so I got the chance to paddle both days.  On Saturday Jeff and I paddled with friends from my canoe club and on Sunday morning it was just the two of us.  The weather was great, the water was cold and I had a fantastic time.  You can check out the video if you want, I'll warn you, it's 10MB.  And you can find the photos here.  Whenever Amy got the chance she drove out to a spot where she could get cell service to check on her aunt.  As of today, there has been no change, which is not good.

On Sunday evening my family joined us for a Father's Day cookout on the river.  We had ribs, steaks, hamburgers, chicken kabobs, and hotdogs.  Plus lots of desserts and sides, including banana pudding and cheesecake.  The weekend again included lots of marshmallow roasting (Ben's favorite river activity) and cold swims in the river (Jackson's favorite thing to do).   More photos from the weekend are here.   I'd like to thank Amy for giving me yet another memorable Father's Day.  Her allergies were terrible and I know she had a lot on her mind, so I appreciate the effort she put into the weekend.

Tonight Jackson, Jesse and I met our friends Jeff and Matthew for a manly man big boy movie night.  We saw The Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer.  I was glad that it was a movie Jackson was old enough for.  It's the first time he's been able to join us on one of our superhero movie outings.

Friday, June 15th, 2007. One of today's photos is of our nephews Jesse and Jimmy dunking each other in the hotel pool last weekend.  Jackson took the other photo of Ben hugging Amy at Arts Alive camp earlier this week.  The boys are ecstatic to have their cousin Jesse with us.  Amy and I are too.  And Jesse brought his Guitar Hero game with him, so we get to feed our addiction over the next week.  We don't have Jesse's mad skills, but it's a blast to play.  Jesse and I setup last night playing Guitar Hero and Nascar2007.  Amy and the boys escaped the rain today by going to Chuck E Cheese in Winston-Salem.  We bribed Jackson with a Chuck E Cheese trip about a month ago and Jackson is like an elephant, he never forgets.

Update: We received very bad news this afternoon about Amy's Aunt Jerry Ann, who lives in West Virginia.  She had a stroke earlier this week and is in intensive care.  According to Amy's uncle, the next twenty-four hours are critical.  Jerry Ann is the only surviving sibling of Amy's father and just a wonderful person.  I would like nothing more than to have something positive to report by the next post, but we'll just have to wait, worry and hope.

Thursday, June 14th, 2007.  If you are reading this, then our site is finally up and running on the new host server.  Sorry for the long stretch with no updates.  The boys have been to the pool almost every day for the past three weeks.  Ben very much enjoyed his first Arts Alive camp.  When Amy went to pick him up on one of the days, she found him sitting by himself off stage.  He later told us that he didn't like it and "THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW MY NAME!!!"  By the end of the week he loved it though and was very proud of all the projects he brought home and of all the friend he had made.  Today was his last day.  Jackson goes next week, then they will both participate in the parade and finale next Friday. 

On Monday, while Ben was at his first day of Arts Alive, Jackson went with his Aunt Deana, friend Sharon, and cousins Caleb and Isabelle to Sci-Works.  This afternoon Jackson had his first tooth filled.  We were sad for him because he has always been great about brushing his teeth and he will not eat dessert because he doesn't think it's healthy.  So it's not like he hasn't tried to stay cavity free.  He's always taken great pride in how well he cares for his teeth.  Amy said that he did pretty good, considering, but when they came back with the X-Rays, he learned that he had a second cavity and would have to come back for another filling.  That was a tough thing for him to deal with.  From there, Amy and the boys hit the highway.  Our nephew Jesse will be staying with us for a week or so and his brother Wesley drove halfway to meet Amy.  Jesse was with us for Father's Day weekend last year and we look forward to all the fun we'll have while he's here.

Saturday, June 9th, 2007.  Congratulations Wesley!  Our nephew Wesley and his girlfriend Rachel graduated from Prince George High School last night.  Wesley is the oldest nephew on both Amy and my side of the family, so his graduation is a big deal for us.  Wes will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University this fall.  Rachel will be at Old Dominion University.  We are very, very proud of him.  The boys and I didn't make it through the whole ceremony last night.  It had to be close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  I don't know if I've ever been that hot.  Seriously, it was miserable.  Ben resorted to throwing cups of water in his face.  Following the graduation ceremony, we all met at Wesley's graduation party thrown by family friend Thelma.  Thelma and her husband have a beautiful home on the James River and it was a fantastic evening, especially for Jackson who enjoyed partying much more than I would have expected.  His relationship with Wes is typically one where they pick on each other.  But last night Jackson couldn't get enough of Wes and spent much of the time sitting between him and his girlfriend.  Ben fell asleep in a guest bedroom while everyone watched the DVD we made celebrating Wesley.  The party was catered, so staff were walking around replenishing drinks, food, etc..., keeping things in order and, in the end, cleaning up.  On the way home Jackson and I were commenting on what a nice party it was.  Jackson said "Yeah, and it looked like they had maids all over the place!"

Monday, June 4th, 2007. Yep, that's right.  Three straight posts with photos from paddling trips.  Even in the middle of a VERY hectic weekend, I squeezed in enough time to make the first big release of the Summer in Kibler Valley, one of my favorite places in the world.  I love it when the gear doesn't even have time to dry out before I'm loading it back up. 

Jackson didn't have the energy for karate class Thursday night following a long afternoon at the pool, so he went to the Saturday morning class instead.  From there, they went to my sister Melanie's house to play with their cousins while I played in the river with my paddling buddies.  They had a super fantastic time and both ran to hide when they saw me coming.  They didn't want to leave.  That evening the boys had their friend Sam over for the night.  And Sunday, it was all about painting.  My dad took the boys to his house so that we could really get down to business and our friend Jeff, who also took today's kayaking photos, and is Sam's dad, came over to help.  The boys got to pick out the colors for their room.  Ben picked a dark blue for his two walls and Jackson went with Dover gray.  Jackson wanted something that looked like a race track because they are putting big race car photos on the walls.  It came out really nice, I was a little surprised.  It definitely looks like a boy's room, that's for sure.  We painted all day and into the evening, which sadly meant that we had to miss our monthly dinner club meeting.  We hated that, but were happy to have a kid-free block of time for painting.  We start this week, which promises to be another busy one, still a little tired from the last one.  I