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Thursday, June 30th, 2011.  Today's photos are from our fantastic weekend spent camping at Deep Creek Campground in Bryson City.  I've wanted the photo of me going over those falls for over six years.  Thanks go to Mike and Sarah for snapping it.  On Saturday, thanks to a thunderstorm the night before, we were treated with a day on the Tellico, one of my favorite rivers anywhere.  Following a run on the lower section with 11 of my SRVCC buds, Lang and I made a run on Baby Falls.  Super, super fun.  Click here to watch the video.  I didn't get to tube this year either due to the weather on Friday and Sunday and my late arrival at camp Saturday night, but Amy and the boys ran the creek with the Cooks on Saturday and had a great time.  The kids played wiffle ball, tetherball, soccer, baseball and volleyball.  They fed goats, tubed, swam, ate ice cream at the store, bought pocket knives, built fires and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. And they had the Cook, Hall and Fortin kids to do it all with.  Dinner Saturday night was really, really good.  There are some excellent chefs scattered through the club for sure, which is why I fell off the wagon hard when it comes to eating dessert.  Getting to hang out with everyone after a day on the river is always one of my favorite parts of the trip, especially since we sort of split up and go in different directions during WOR.  It's always nice to get back together and hear everyone's stories and it was doubly nice this year since the temps were actually low enough to do all that while sitting around a campfire.  You can go ahead and put the Heaths down for next year, we are ready to make it 4 in a row.  And Ben says that next time, we're running the Tuck.   

This week, the boys have both been at the Foothills Basketball Camp.  And they have been playing on the same team, which is pretty cool.  I have been really, really impressed with how good of a big brother Jackson has been to Ben this week.  Ben is pretty little out there on the court, but Jackson makes sure that Ben gets a the ball and has taken care of him when he gets hurt.  Jackson is a good kid.  Their team, going into the tournament, is 3-3.  I stopped by to watch one of their games and got to see a 'Jackson to Ben to Jackson for the score' play, that was really fun to see.

And last night we celebrated Hama's 92nd birthday with dinner at 13 Bones.  To see photos from Hama's last 9 birthdays, click here.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011This year we visited Amy's brother Alan over the Father's Day weekend.  Alan grilled steaks on Saturday night, then we met on Sunday for lunch at Rosa's in Hopewell before we started the trek back to Mount Airy, via Claudville where we stopped to visit my dad.  Ben gave me a paper weight that he made at school and a mug that he painted for me on Saturday.  Amy, Jackson and Ben then gave me a new dumbbell to use when working out.  On Tuesday, following Deana's Firefly Start Of Summer Party, the boys spent the night there in Stuart, then went with Amy to Hillsville to meet the Colemans and the Littletons at Lakeridge Resort for a fun day of waterslides, paddle boats and miniature golf.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011.  I continue to find old photos on our cameras.  This one is from Ben's 1st Grade Easter party.

Friday, June 17th, 2011.  Amy, Jackson, Ben, Deana, Izzy and Seth spent their entire day yesterday at Natural Bridge, VA.  They did everything there, including riding an elephant, visiting the wax museum, the monster museum and the dinosaur exhibit.  They also hiked to the Indian village, Natural Bridge and the butterfly garden.  Quite a big day.  They left at 8AM and got back home around 9:30PM.

The photos below are from the day the boys spent with the Winston-Salem Dash a few weeks ago. 

And these photos are from a March trip to Sci-Works.

This was our family's 26th visit to Sci-Works, it is like an old rainy day friend.  I combined a photo of Jackson racing the clock when he was 5 with one from this trip when he was 10 to come up with this photo.

Thursday, June 16th, 2011.  After missing 2009 and 2010, Amy and the boys were finally able to go strawberry picking again, this time at Country Road Farms in Pinnacle, NC.  This happened last month, but I just now got around to pulling the photos from Amy's camera.  I think they liked this farm and I know that I liked the strawberries.  Photos from all of our trips to the strawberry fields can be found here
Yesterday, the boys spent their first real day of summer vacation playing kickball in the yard with our neighbors Jessica and Jack and by going on photo scavenger hunts organized by Amy.  Great day other than the fact that Jackson had to go to the doctor for a physical as a requirement to enter middle school.  This was his first doctor's visit in over three years.  He is all grown up now though and took all the shots, including the tetanus shot like the tough guy that he is.  One bonus was that they ran into Madeline there, which was a nice surprise since the boys miss seeing her at the house.



Wednesday, June 15th, 2011.  We celebrated the end of the school year with a quick trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  This was our first trip to Myrtle in three years and we returned to the same hotel as our visits in both 2007 and 2008, The Sea Crest.  Many more photos from our trip can be found here.  (links to all of our beach trip photos are here) We packed as many hours of fun in the sun as possible into our three day weekend.  We arrived around 1:30 on Saturday, spent a couple of hours in the pools followed by several more on the beach, including dinner out of the cooler, then capped the evening off with mini-golf.  I woke early on Sunday to kayak surf and found really nice, clean waves to ride.  We again packed a lunch and Jackson did not return to the room until it was time for dinner late that evening, spending a total of ten straight hours on the beach.  Ben was exhausted and crashed with a 2 hour nap that afternoon.  Amy joined him and took the opportunity to read a book.  Ben picked steak for dinner so we made the short trek to Thorny's.  On our last day, we slept in a little later, packed the van, checked out of the room and hit the pools and beach until 4pm when we started back toward home.  It was a great mini-vacation. 


Thursday, June 9th, 2011.  Ben had his end-of-the-year program today at his elementary school.  I took a photo of his 1st grade desk so that he will remember it.  He sat next to his adorable little friend Ellie for most of the year.  Considering how quickly our own boys are growing up, we are very fortunate to have so many fun little kids around to play with.  Our very good friend Brett visited this week and our little buddy Joe stops by from next-door quite frequently.  Plus we have Anne Rachel, SKV and her new little sister ECV.  Tomorrow is the end of the school year, which means that this is the last week Amy will be baby-sitting little Madilyn.  Her personality has really blossomed over the last month and we will all miss her very much. 

Brett in the Toughest Cowboy Hat Little Maddie Joe on our back deck

Monday, June 6, 2011.  Jackson wrapped up his tenure with Mrs. Ratcliff and the Jones CAP class with yet another fantastic play.  This time they performed The Wizard Of Oz.  Jackson played the part of the Cowardly Lion and, in my humble opinion, he was awesome.  His group of CAP peers truly have a knack for this kind of thing.  I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of their work through the years. 
(photos courtesy of Deana)
Today was "awards day" at Jackson's school and he took home quite a few, both in his CAP class awards ceremony and the school-wide awards ceremony..  He had the 5th highest number of reading points in the school, was one of about 20 students to win the Presidential Academic Award of Excellence, was on the A/B honor roll all year, won the National Fitness Award, scored all 4s on his EOGs again (highest score) and more.  We are very proud of him and all that he does.